Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Some good news...

Well, since we have now been officially on a waiting list at Cincinnati Children's Hospital for six months (ugh!), and I recently added us to yet again ANOTHER waiting list at University of Virginia's Children's Hospital, and we haven't heard anything from them, I broke down and went against what I have said I would not do.

For about a month now, maybe because he is getting older, it appears that whatever takes hold of my precious boy just keeps getting worse.  Sometimes to the point (and I know this is going to sound ridiculous) that his facial features change.  He has become a lot more defiant, a lot more whiny (if that was possible), a lot more demanding, and worst of all, a lost LESS loving.  The last one absolutely tears me apart.  When you are used to receiving a million kisses a day, and now you have to ask for them, it is very hard.  And I know, I know, as every "boy" grows up, the same thing happens, but this is different.  Stephen is different.  Everyone who has ever met Stephen knows what I mean.  He is tender and extremely loving (sometimes a little, or a lot, over the top).  Well, that has changed. :(

I have also noticed how it has been affecting me.  I have lost a lot of my will, and I don't like this at all.  I am very sad a lot and about the only thing I seem to find joy in anymore is the Lord and church.  I just can't seem to shake this, and I hate it, because I want to be the best wife and mother I can be, but I am failing miserably right now.

Anyway, enough of my pity party, I am writing with good news!  The answer should have been more clear a lot earlier, but I felt like I had been doing the right thing by waiting out for Cincinnati.  But right now, I am honestly at a point that is not doing Stephen, Todd, or myself any good.  So, yesterday, I called Stephen's pediatrician, whom I absolutely LOVE!  I asked for a referral to a behavioral therapist for Stephen.  The ped asked me why, and I explained some of the things that we have been dealing with.  He totally got it and said that he couldn't let us go through this anymore.  He is referring Stephen (and possibly mommy) to two doctor's in Charleston!  He explained that they were both wonderful and trustworthy.  I am very confident he means what he says.

So, I do believe there may be a glint of light at the end of the tunnel.  I am not saying this will "solve" everything, because we all know that the only one who can do this is God.  I am saying that this may be the beginning of finally getting Stephen the assistance he needs to succeed in life. 

I love that little boy with all of my heart, mind, and soul, more than words could EVER begin to describe, and I only want to do right by him.  I have said this before, and I will continue to say it - God saw fit to place Stephen in my care, and I will always be his mommy to the very best of my ability.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I might be bald before I turn gray...

Yes, I am talking about the hair on my head.  Believe it or not, it has been over a decade since I have colored my hair.  Over that period, I have basically become a simplistic type person - not much maintenance required.  I believe we should be happy with what the Lord gives us, and if that means gray hair and wrinkles, I am perfectly fine with that.  Actually, I tell people all of the time that I cannot wait to go completely gray - crazy - I know.  But I LOVE gray hair!

Now on to the real story.  If I do not get some answers about my son soon, I might just start pulling my hair out.  That is where I am at right now.  Can you say frustration?

I have posted in the past about Stephen and some of his delays.  Just when I look at him and think, maybe, just maybe I have been wrong in my self-diagnosing with him, he proves otherwise.  I am not going to go into every little detail, because quite frankly, that would require an entire novel, and I am not so sure you want to hear it all.  Actually, there is so much going on daily, I just don't know how to describe my son in words.

**Just a little bit of background:  Stephen had some delays when he was an infant, but nothing of any significance really (i.e. late sitter, late walker).  At two, his pediatrician noticed that he didn't have the "normal" vocabulary of a two year old, so they recommended Birth to Three for early intervention.  They worked with him in our home for seven months, and then helped us get him into three year old Pre-K special needs, because he was still not talking on his age level.  Two things I found out during this period was that Stephen has Apraxia of Speech and Proprioceptive Sensory Dysfunction.  I have in fact posted links for both of these diagnoses a couple of years ago.  But, through school provided speech therapy (many, many thanks to Mrs. Crystal), Stephen;s expressive vocabulary exploded when he was the point that he never.quits.talking now!  Wow in a good way, and WOW in a bad way.  He was in Pre-K for three years, because we felt it was better to hold him back that third year because he just wasn't quite ready for kindergarten.  At his six year old well visit, his pediatrician got to see him in rare form (finally).  She literally had to climb up on the examining table to get away from him.  He was just all over the floor, and would not be quiet long enough for her to ask him questions (for developmental reasons).  She finally got the gist of what I have been working/ struggling with for years.  We chatted about what she was witnessing, and then she finally said it, "I think we are dealing with many different issues, and I am going to recommend that you have him evaluated by a whole team of behavioral specialists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital."

Fast forward to present.  Stephen was placed on a waiting list with CCH in November, 2011.  I called yesterday and was told that they are now seeing patients who were placed on that very same wait list in June and July of 2011.  Come on people!  Are you serious?

Stephen is just about to finish kindergarten.  This year has been somewhat of a struggle for him, his teachers, and me.  His classroom is large, so there are two teachers plus an aide.  As with Pre-K, the kindergarten class operates on the Stop Light System (green being great behavior, yellow being stepping out of line somewhat, and of course, red being very bad behavior), only this year they are graded on it.  They are learning what every normal kindergarten class should be learning, reading, writing, and math - along with art and music.  Stephen struggles, on a daily basis.  He is doing much better than he did at the beginning of the year, which is not a surprise, because I am sure every child in that class had problems with adjustment at first.  However, some of his delays rear their ugly heads from time to time, such as the Apraxia.  Now that he has conquered his speech delay, it now totally affects his writing.  And trust me, I have heard this from his teachers, as well as experienced it for myself, if he doesn't want to do work, there is no forcing him.  And if he doesn't have confidence in himself, he will not even attempt some things.

January was an amazing month at school for Stephen.  He was "green light" every single day of that month.  I thought, wow!  This could actually be his turning point...he is actually "getting" it!  In February, he had some "yellow" days, but nothing major...still not complaints.  But March, oh my goodness!  I don't know what has happened, but his notebook that he brings home each day looks like a Christmas tree.  The yellows definitely outweigh the greens. :(

I still say that much of Stephen's problems is truly because he still, at almost seven years old, has not try concept of cause and effect.  This breaks my heart.  He has no idea that some of the things that he does is completely, off the charts, WRONG!  And when we discipline him, he just doesn't understand.  He understands that he is being disciplined, but just doesn't get that he is not supposed to turn right around and continue these behaviors.  I am totally at my wits end!

I am going to write something that I don't talk about often with some of my family and friends, because they don't necessarily believe me, or think I am just overreacting.  I am tee-totally, 100% convinced that Stephen is somewhere on the autism spectrum - pretty sure aspergers.  A lot of people who are around him say, oh, he makes eye contact, talks, and is the most loving child, and children with autism do none of the above.  That is simply because they are not completely educated on the spectrum, and they just think "he is just being a boy" and "needs his butt busted."  Well, come stay with us for a day or so.  You will see that he does get his butt busted, put in time away, grounded, etc.  Nothing phases him...NOTHING!  And yes, he is loving, talks, and makes eye contact, but most of the time, because he doesn't understand limits, he is overly all of the above!  And the same goes for his meltdowns.  When he is having a meltdown, it is overly dramatic, and lasts for long periods of time, most of the time lashing out at Todd (my husband), Luci (my dog), mommaw, or me.  He does not know his own strength, and can truly hurt us.

I don't know why I am saying all of this, and now that I have written this much, I feel like it is just rambling, or a jumbled mess...see, I told you that I didn't know how to put it in words.  I guess I am just reaching out to anyone who may be reading this and asking for you to take the time to educate yourself about the autism spectrum.  These children are wonderful children, but they just need extra patience, love, care, and guidance.  The CDC recently (within the past two days) released that 1 in 88 children are now being diagnosed as being on the spectrum.  That is a pretty staggering statistic to swallow, but think about it.  Many of the children you see out in public (I am not saying all of them) may have been affected by this.  It would be better if everyone had some type of knowledge about this condition instead of just jumping to the conclusion that they are just bad kids or they have bad parents.

Here is a great link if you are interested in reading:

Although we have our struggles, I wouldn't trade a thing.  God saw fit to bless us with this amazing boy because He knew we could handle it!  I thank Him for that daily!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Okay folks...WE DID IT!

**RE POST from February 10, 2011 with an update!

As of Friday, March 23, 2012 - WE ARE DEBT FREE!

Whew!  This has been 29 months in the works, but we actually followed through, which is why I felt it pretty significant to re post the original entry.  Many people, me being included, start out on different (ad)ventures, having a long term goal, and because it is a long term goal, give up.  However, I am proud to say that because of my awesome husband, we have conquered our debt!  We have (kind of) lived like no one else, so we can LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE! 

Over the last 29 months, there have certainly been highs, lows, struggles, but most of all, the feeling of accomplishment.  The beauty with this plan is if you happen to be an "instant gratification" kind of person such as I, those feelings of accomplishment come fairly frequently - each time you sign your name to that check or hit "send" on the computer for that final payment of each debt!  Words cannot adequately explain what that feeling is like for us, and I cannot wait until this Friday, to make that final payment.  And yes, I am writing this two days before it happens, so many of you might be thinking "well, what if it doesn't happen?"  That is the absolute beauty with Dave Ramsey's plan.  We are planned to the penny, and we are CERTAIN it will happen!  Even in the event of a crisis...remember...emergency fund! 

So, having said all of that, I really need to express some gratitude.  First, I am so thankful for God for allowing us to be diligent throughout this process; for providing jobs for Todd and me, plus extra earning opportunities.  Thank you to my wonderful husband for pushing me when I wanted to quit, for hanging in there when I totally screwed up, and for not divorcing me when I screamed at him.

And a HUGE thank you to Dave Ramsey - For sharing your simple thoughts with HUGE impacts!  Because you took the time to sit down and write these thoughts into a book, which has now become your empire, you have changed our lives forever.  You often said that people would look at us like we were crazy, and yes, I can totally understand that now, because it happened quite a lot, but now I can look back at those people and tell them that it worked!  It is not just a temporary fix, it is permanent, because we say so!

We are currently working with Dave's team to set a date that Todd, Stephen, and I can go to Nashville again.  This time, we will be going to Dave Ramsey's studio to proclaim the long awaited words - WE ARE DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Really should be working...

Right. Work. What I get paid to do. However, I am just not feeling it today. I am so excited about getting this blog started that all I want to do is play on here! :) I am not only posting, but finding extremely good blogs to follow!

Someone, please stop this insanity that has overtaken me! After our visit to Nashville this weekend, something strange happened to me. Now I am not only facebooking, O-M-Gosh, I have registered for an account on twitter, and now I am blogging again! I must be losing my mind.

It has to be from this experience in Nashville. I just got so pumped up, I cannot help myself! If you are not my friend on facebook, you have no idea what I am talking about. If you are my friend on facebook, you probably have some idea, so you are going to hear the whole me, it is worth sharing!

About a year and a half ago, my husband mentioned the name "Dave Ramsey" to me. At the time, it didn't really mean anything. Little did I know, Dave Ramsey is the epitome of the term "financial genius." So, Todd started doing his homework, and I downloaded Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover (TMMO)to my Kindle. Our journey began the last week of October, 2009.

Todd and I both knew we made good money, but as many of us can say, we could not show you where our money was going. We were making it, but had nothing left over to show for it. And it is not that we couldn't manage our money, we just didn't.

With every page of the TMMO, I found myself saying to myself, "oh gosh Robin, you know that," "you can do that," "duh." So, Todd and I sat back down together and decided as a family that we were going forward to become debt free! Yeah right, you may be thinking, but Dave's motto is "Live like no one else, so you can Live like no one else."

The TMMO includes 7 baby steps.

(In my words):
1. Emergency fund of $1,000
2. Debt snowball
3. 3-6 month living expenses emergency fund
4. Invest 15% of your income for retirement
5. College savings for your children
6. Pay off your home
7. Building wealth

Seems a little overwhelming, right? Well, we are currently at baby step 2, and yes, at times, it has been overwhelming...but so worth it!

It took us a month to reach baby step one. Then came the budget. Ugh! The very thought of that gave me nightmares! But then we wrote everything down on paper, wow! We really do make good money (not bragging, it was a wake up call). Our next step was to write down our debt from smallest owed to largest -- NOT BY INTEREST RATE! That was extremely depressing. Even though we didn't have a lot of debt, we had A LOT of DEBT!

Our budget has to be what I call a zero balance budget. That means that after you right down everything you pay out a month in bills, you leave in the bank, then what you need for living expenses (i.e. gas, groceries, babysitter, etc.), comes out in cash. Your checking account is solely used for bills, not to carry over money, because during this process, you do not carry over money. Scary, huh?

Any extra money that you have during the month is paid on that smallest bill. After that is paid off, you take all of that money and apply it to your second smallest bill. It begins a snowball effect which gets larger and larger every time you pay something off. See, pretty much common sense. AND IT WORKS! To date, we have paid $42,000 of debt. Yes, you read that correctly. In 14 1/2 months, we have paid that much money toward our debt snowball. Like I said, even though I may have thought we were not in debt, yeah, I was wrong! We still have about 14 months to go, but we are getting there. And trust me, it gets easier after the adjustment period of about 3 - 4 months.

So that is the background. Now about how Nashville gave me such an epiphany to become more socially connected. Todd asked me several months ago if I would be interested in seeing Dave Ramsey in person. Oh, you don't have to ask me twice, where do I sign up?

This past weekend, we had the privilege of sitting second row at a five hour live Dave Ramsey show! Yes, I said f-i-v-e hour...and I would have stayed another five hours! This man is so energetic and charismatic! Whew! I wanted to jump up and shout. Wait a second, I did jump up and shout, several times!

Even though we have been living this program for over a year, the show brought it to a whole new level for me. Dave does not take credit for any of his ideas! He said - several times - that he got all of his ideas from God and grandma, and that he is just a good teacher. Wow! That was simply amazing to me. He quoted scripture, talked about the importance and power of prayer, told everyone if they hadn't talked to God in a while, they needed to because God missed them. Isn't that the truth? There were 10,000 people at this conference, so 10,000 people heard his message!

Dave Ramsey tweets, as I have now discovered that many people or groups tweet. About the only thing I will ever "tweet" is this blog, but it is nice to open it up and be inspired several times a day. It also was one of the pressing factors for me to start blogging again. If I can touch someones life in any positive way, even if it is just one person, I want to do that!

I could write forever about him and this program, but I won't. I just wanted to share a little portion of the wonderful program that everyone could do, if they need or want to. You can learn more about all of his programs by visiting

And now you have more information than you ever wanted to know, but when I mention TMMO or Dave Ramsey in my posts, you will know what I am talking about! :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The weather, not just what it happens to be doing outside...

Good morning! I am hoping the day gets better here :( The mood in my house
was much like the weather outside...dark and angry.

My sweet boy has entered yet another episode of anger, and lashing out about everything for the last two days. It breaks my heart when he is like this, because nothing seems to make him "happy."

His moods are so much like the weather, but I am not saying they correspond to what the weather is like outside on any given day. Monday evening was absolutely
amazing with him (the calm before the storm). We played, laughed, didn't raise our voices at was GREAT! Tuesday he just had a really rough evening, falling and injuring himself several times (like a weather front, maybe it is coming your way, maybe it's not). Then last night - and carried over this morning, he has been a complete bear (like a raging thunderstorm). Screaming at me, crying, whining, not wanting to go to bed, not wanting to get out of bed this morning...ugh!

Much like when it is storming outside and you/ I want to cuddle up on the couch, when Stephen is in these types of moods, I just want to hold him as tight as I can for as long as I can.

After the real storm passes this morning, it is supposed to be sunny and absolutely beautiful, so that is what I am hoping for my son's mood also.

Always blessed - no matter the storm!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday and a new day...

I have been totally swamped lately, and haven't had a chance to really write a thing! But maybe that is a good thing, because I have really been in an absolute horrible mood. My emotions have definitely been a roller coaster as of late, but I am going to change that - MANDATORY change - MYSELF!

It has to be the Lupron, because I truly have lost all of my ambition. My house is a wreck, I don't want to fix my hair, I don't want to deal with stupid people, and worst of all, I have kind of lost my desire to come to work. All of these things are normal for me - EXCEPT THE LAST! And for some reason, my level of "normalcy" seems to be extremely amplified, if you know what I mean. If you don't know what I mean, I will explain. The first three things I listed are normal feelings for me, but I usually push through them and deal. The last couple of weeks, that has totally been out of the question!

I am normally a very optimistic person - cup half full or overflowing. I want to get back to that...I am going to get back to that! It is the least I can do for people who have to deal with me on a daily basis! I have really been down, and unable to even put together a comprehendible sentence. I feel like I am bi-polar (which I did mention in a post a long time ago - remember - self-diagnosed, haha!)

Anyway, there are some good things happening in my life that I must start focusing on! Mom got a summer job, and Stephen is going to a new babysitter for 8 weeks. This should be great for both of them, even though my poor mom doesn't want to admit it. I honestly think she is going to love this position, though! She will be working for Children's Home Society at their "home" for unplaced children. That is her element. She is great with kids! And the girlie that will be baysitting Stephen is going to be perfect. God certainly worked this out!

And tonight, hopefully, my wonderful Uncle Terry is going to come and stay a few days with us! His family went on a school trip, so he wants to make a visit and hang out with us for the weekend. I am soooooooo excited! I need this family time! <3

One more great thing happened. We paid off my jeep last week one year early! Three more debts, and we will be calling Dave Ramsey and screaming "WE ARE DEBT FREEEEEEE!!!"

See, as I have said before, God is with us on the tops of mountains, but He is always with us in our lowest valleys. He is there to walk with us, or carry us if necessary, and then He pulls us out of those valleys to find wonderful blessings flowing! Thank you God for everything you do in my life, and the life of my friends and family! You truly bless us!
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