Til we meet again….

Jen and I met in junior high. I remember seeing her the first few days walking the halls and thinking how pretty she was. Not only did she have an outward beauty but she had this inward confidence that shined through whenever you saw her. I always admired that about her. Her kindness towards me always made me feel good and we became fast friends. 

High school started and the end of freshman year we had become close friends. We shared a love for school spirit and soon after she joined ASB, I of course did too. By the time our sophomore year ended we were inseparable. We were no longer just Jen or just Kate. We were known to almost everyone as Jen and Kate. We did everything together. We had the best time together. My favorite high school memories include her in them.  Late night sleepovers. Pep rally planning. Painting our faces for football games. Ditching classes in the ASB room! Mr. Parker! Long summers at the school preparing for freshman orientation! CADA CAMP! BFC! PNC! Letter writing and passing them back and forth! These are all engraved in my heart. 

As most lasting friendships do, we had seasons. Seasons of hard and seasons of great. But no matter what we always made sure we kept in touch. Most of the time when we weren’t as close it was because she would tell me I was making a bad decision and I would get mad and pull away-she was almost always right about that bad decision though. 🤦🏻‍♀️ She taught me to know and value my worth. She taught me to have expectations and it’s ok to wait for them to be met. She taught me that I was worth the wait. 

Jen taught me through her example how to be a friend. How to love your friends. Truly love them. She was there for every good and bad milestone in my life. When I had Kyle on thanksgiving day, she was the one who brought me thanksgiving dinner in the hospital. She is the one that advised me not to give Cody the middle name Blaze! 😂 She was the one who I called first after that day I got Kyle’s diagnosis and I listened through my tears as she reassured me that I could do this.  She was the one who drove all the way to Las Vegas to help pick me up off the floor when my first marriage had failed. And helped build me back up for years after. She was the one who told me I was an idiot after I said “James was too nice”, and told me that’s the kind of guy I needed and deserved!! She’s the one who has always been there. And now she isn’t. 

A few months ago, I was thinking about how difficult it is to have friends being Kyles mom. Maybe that is partly my fault. It gives me anxiety to think about how Kyle will react to people coming over or how he will react at someone’s house. So it’s easier to just not open myself up to having people know Kyle in person or know that part of me in person! My blog is an easier form of letting people into my world😉But I never had that anxiety with Jen. Not ever. She loved me and she loved Kyle. No matter what mess he made at her house (and there were so many 🤦🏻‍♀️)or what fit he through (and there were so many of those too)she always had us back for more. She never made me feel like I was a burden. Not ever. She loved us unconditionally.

At jens 30th birthday party-which was amazing just like every party she ever threw-we were in a different season and not as close as we were in pasts but she pulled me off to the side and she said (she may have had some drinks in her, but alcohol brings out the honesty right??? 😉), “I know we aren’t as close right now but I feel like we will always be soul mates, if there’s such thing as a friend soul mate!” Then we laughed and I told her I felt the same way. As soon as I was told of her passing I immediately clung to this conversation. I love Jen. She means so much more than the words I am writing. I don’t think Anyone could understand the depth of our friendship. And that’s ok because I know.  I feel it.

Jen being gone still doesn’t feel real. And it definitely doesn’t feel right. My heart aches. It aches for Bobby. It aches for Bryce and Leah. And for her family. It aches for me. This world is definitely not the same without Jen. And I’m sure it will take time for the pain to subside.

 I feel incredibly grateful for the friendship I had with Jen and will forever cherish the memories I share with her. I am grateful for the things she taught me by being my friend. Although Jen being gone is so painful,  I am comforted in knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, I will see her again. Till we meet again…Jen and Kate forever. ❤️

Grief.

I remember the day the dr confirmed what I already knew-Kyle was different, and he would be different for the rest of his life. I physically ached and felt as if something was taken away from me. This wasn’t what I wanted for my son. This wasn’t what I wanted for ME.  This was not in my plans. I felt sadness. I felt pain. I felt anger. I felt fear. It was the first time in my life that I felt grief. 

I am genuinely happy and feel blessed that God entrusted me with Kyle. I really do. But I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that grief creeps up on me at times-mostly when Kyle should be hitting a milestone…and reality slaps me with how truly different Kyle is. And I grieve for the son that was ripped from me the day that Dr kundell looked me in my very wet eyes, and changed my world forever, by telling me Kyle had fragile x. And 6 months later-autism was added. 

Kyle is smack dab in the middle of  puberty 😩 and turning into a young man. A man. It’s hard for me to even write that. I have tried not to think about this happening but a new reality is being forced on me. And it’s hard.  Tonight was especially hard as I went through his night time routine. It was hard to brush his teeth and see traces of facial hair appearing on his upper lip, and know that he will never experience learning how to use a razor by himself. It was hard to see the physical changes that are occurring as I bathed my almost 14 year old then had to help him get dressed because he can’t do it himself. It was hard to have to put deodorant on for him because he lacks the motor skills to do it on his own. It was hard tonight knowing I had to lay next to my almost teenage son for 20 min in order for him to  relax enough to fall asleep. It was hard to hear from Justin that homecoming is fast approaching and knowing Kyle will never experience a date or heartache or love. I’m grieving for the independence that Kyle will never have and the experiences he will never have.  He is turning into a man phsically but his mind is still that of a 3 year old (or younger) in many areas. And it sucks.

Sometimes in these moments of grief I find myself feeling like my life is unfair. That Kyles life is unfair. And maybe it is. But I know grieving is an ongoing process-at least for me it is. And it’s ok for me to feel these things. 

I’m LDS (mormon 😉) and we believe that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we will be resurrected and our minds and our bodies will become perfected. I find such comfort in this.  I KNOW that Kyle will one day have a mind and body that are in sync-Kyle will become perfected. Not in this life. And that’s ok. Even though I go through seasons of grief, I am able to live everyday with the knowledge that someday Kyle will wrap his arms around me and SAY the words, “I love you, mom”.  I know all that I experience being Kyles mom is preparing me for that very moment. And boy do I look forward to that moment, cuz I know it will be worth the wait. Until then I will allow myself to grieve when I need to grieve.💙

Jinx 

I should know by now that whenever I post about how great things are going with Kyle it’s usually followed by a bunch of crap days. Ugh.  I should be happy that we had a whole week of great days! A whole week of Kyle getting on and off the bus no problem! And I am happy. But also discouraged and disappointed that this week he’s had 3 progressively awful days! Today being the worst. 😔

Janine followed Kyle off the bus this afternoon and had the look. The look that Kyle had another rough time getting on the bus to come home! She explained he sat down in front of the bus and refused to get on! At one point she was crossing her fingers that the bus didn’t say “see ya, we gotta go!” Then I got a text from shanda: 


After he got in the house, his day continued to be rough-he gave me a hard time with every single transition! Going to grandmas! Getting into the bath! Going to bed! It was a rough night! I can’t tell you why. I’m not sure. That’s the frustrating part. What is different from last week? 

 Kyle has always struggled with transitions. Always. If there was a magic pill for this setback,  I’d pay a million dollars and it would be worth every dollar. Seriously. 

I’m trying to remind myself not to get discouraged. Not to be disappointed. But it’s hard not to be. I’m trying to remind myself of all the progress he has made. I’m trying to remind myself that he is smart and stubborn and his mind works so much differently than mine. I’m trying to remind myself to try to be patient. I’m trying to come up with different ideas for shanda and Janine to try at school to help them help him through this transition everyday. I’m trying to remind myself that progress is slow with Kyle but it’s still progress. I’m trying to remind myself to not give up on the bus-that taking him everyday will be much harder!  I’m trying to remind myself that I can do this! 

One day I feel like I’ve got this whole autism/fragile x/anxiety thing down. I feel like I am an expert-I can handle any curve ball Kyle throws at me. The next day I feel like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing-I’m at a loss at what to do or how to fix a behavior. 😏

I need to remember that things will be ok. They always end up being ok. It will take work. It will take more bad days. And lots more good days. But things will be ok.  2 years from now, 1 year from now, even 6 months from now-I hope I read this post and marvel at the progress Kyle has made. 

Grateful for small things, big things, & everything in between! 

Before Kyle started high school my hope was that he would have teachers that loved him quickly. Teachers that appreciated Kyle’s unique personality and were able to see past the behaviors caused by his extreme anxiety.  Teachers that understood him despite his inability to speak.  Teachers who treated Kyle with the respect he deserves.  I know that once Kyle trusts that you have his back (so to speak), and he feels like you “understand” his needs/wants; he is a million times more likely to cooperate with you. I prayed daily that Kyle would be given the teachers that would be able to provide this for him. 

We are a little over two months into Kyle’s high school journey, and I can say his team of teachers have exceeded my hopes and my prayers were definitely answered. They have all gone above and beyond in every way to make not only Kyle feel like this is where he belongs-BUT they always reassure me and let me know how much they care for Kyle. 

Kyle is doing much better getting on the bus-as long as james is home! He definitely has his established ‘getting on the bus’ routine. But he still is struggling with the transition once he is at school and getting off the bus. His (amazing) teacher, Shanda called me a few weeks ago and asked if she could come over after school one day and observe Kyle with Erika. She wanted to try and  get some ideas on how to help Kyle better transition off the bus from Erika or myself. So at the beginning of the month she came over on a Wednesday (after school when she could be at home with her own family) and spent a good two hours talking to both Erika and myself. We bounced ideas off each other. Then set up a morning Erika could go to the school and observe the behavior to offer more support to shanda and her team. 

Seriously?! You guys. How lucky am I to be surrounded by a team of people who love my son this much?! I feel like I am so fortunate to have such amazing people loving my son. Amazing people helping my son every single day, as he processes this big change. This job isn’t easy but I am so grateful for people who do it-and love doing it. It makes this moms anxiety a little less. 

As Kyle has gotten to know his teachers a little better, and beginning to embrace the new routines-he seems less anxious. He seems happier. The other day, Janine had gotten on the bus before Kyle walked out the front door-mind you it’s dark when he gets on the bus at 6am 😴. Kyle didn’t see her but saw her car. He kept pointing at her car and refused to get on the bus until she poked her head out of the bus! She gives him the comfort his anxious mind needs. Then he smiled and happily got on the bus! Moments like this make my mom heart happy. 

Last week Kyle had a whole week of Janine getting off the bus saying it was a great day! A whole week of good days!!!!!!! He was even transitioning on and off the bus much better-with some of the ideas Erika had suggested! And shanda sent me a video of Kyle walking to and from The gym which he had been struggling with. 👍🏼 I was so happy watching it!

I knew that this was going to be a really hard change for both of us. And I knew we’d make it through. We always do. But I’m sure glad he has made progress and we are pretty much past the really hard! I’m grateful we are having more good days and not as many bad days-which we still have-he walked off the bus today with no shirt and Janine saying she wasn’t sure what his deal was but he was a punk today 🤦🏻‍♀️. Mostly, I’m grateful for his teachers that love my boy even through the bad days and are definitely an answer to my relentless prayers! I can’t say it enough-special ed teachers, especially Kyle’s, are amazing human beings. 💙 ​

Dear Ethan, Justin, Cody, and Whit

I hope one day my kids will read my blog and know *really know* how much I love and admire each one of them for loving their brother unconditionally. 

Being Kyle’s sibling comes with a lot. A lot of hard. A lot of sacrifice. A lot of “we gotta leave early Kyles having a meltdown” along with a few “be quiets, Kyles going to bed (at 6:30)” and I can’t count how many, “sorry we can’t go there cuz Kyle can’t handle it”. It’s a lot. But everyday I’m blown away at my kids ability to love him despite all of this. They are such great examples to me of what it  *really* means to love someone unconditionally. 

Many times they are unaware of me watching them love their brother. Whether it be wrestling with him, wiping his mouth from excessive drool, or walking by and giving him a high five and a simple “hey Kyle”. I notice it all. And I am touched every time by these simple acts that leave a huge imprint on my heart.  

So, to Ethan, Justin, Cody, and Whitney I want you know how much ALL of you amaze me. With the daily sacrifices you make, the patience you have, and the unconditional love you show Kyle. I notice it all. I admire each one of you individually for your different strengths with Kyle. Ethan, your ability to wipe Kyle’s gross chip filled drool among a group of people and not be embarrassed one bit makes me tear up. Justin, your ability to roll in the grass and have Kyle poke his fingers in your mouth and your first reaction is to laugh and joke about it makes me smile and I could watch you play for hours. And I love that every time you see Kyle, you say hi to him. Every time. Cody, your protective nature for Kyle brings me to tears. You are always the first one to defend Kyle, or worry about him when he is sick or when he is upset-your ability to adopt the big brother role because Kyle can’t, brings me so much joy. Whitney, you, at 3 years old, are Kyles mini mom, and I love it. I love that you tell Kyle to pull up his sagging shorts, to wipe his mouth when he’s eating, and you tell him “good job” when he’s done something great in my exact voice!  We joke that you will have Kyle when I get too old but I’m betting you will be the first to volunteer to take care of your special brother. I love watching your relationship develop. All of you display such Christlike love when it comes to Kyle, and as your mom I couldn’t ask for more from you. I am so proud to be your mom. All of you. ​

Love, mom ❤️

Miracles 

James left on another business trip on Monday for a couple of days. 😬 But guess what?! I wasn’t an anxious mess. I was fine-ok I was a little anxious cuz let’s not kid ourselves, I’m pretty much anxious all the time! BUT I wasn’t *overly* anxious about trying to get Kyle on the bus. I didn’t wake up on Tuesday with a stomach ache wondering if Kyle would drop to the ground and refuse to stand. I wasn’t anxious that the bus would have to drive away WITHOUT Kyle! I wasn’t anxious trying to come up with a backup plan if he refused to get on the bus! I woke up Tuesday morning free from extra anxiety! 👏🏻

I’ve said before how I am not good at asking for help. And I’m not. I have an unhealthy expectation of myself, having to do everything for Kyle. And if I fall short, or am not able to do something, somehow I feel like I have failed as his mom. Moms should be able to take care of their kid, they should be able to take care of all their needs-whatever they may be, right?! 🙄 I have always felt as though Kyle is MY responsibility and MY “load” to carry.  And even though it’s a heavy load and a lot to carry, I should be able to carry it. Because I’m Kyles mom. I shouldn’t NEED help. 

When things become too heavy or I simply can’t do something-as a last resort I’ll *reluctantly* ask for help, but only from my inner circle. James. My mom. Erika. And it usually stops there. Most of the time, asking them for help results in me feeling super guilty (gosh I sound so unhealthy?! Hopefully other moms feel this way and I’m not the only unhealthy one 😂)! I’d rather struggle through something than ask for help. It’s so dumb. So dumb.

When James broke the news about his upcoming business trip a month ago, I freaked out inside. My first thought was, “ok, I guess Kyle will just stay home from school those days!” What?! Who thinks that way! Me. After the last business trip-which included 2 mornings of failed attempts (2 days of hell) at getting him on the bus by myself, the thought of trying that again sounded excruciating, and I wasn’t about to put my mental health through that again. 😩 So when my poor husband broke the news that he couldn’t put it off any longer, I decided to take Ciara’s advice, from our meeting a few weeks ago, and Ask. For. Help. 😬 And I wasn’t going to feel guilty. And I wasn’t going to feel like a failure. 

Kyle has major transitional anxiety. Getting Kyle on the bus takes two people no matter what.  It has nothing to do with my mothering. It has nothing to do with me not following through or me not doing all that I’ve been taught by Erika, behavior wise. That is just Kyle. And Kyle is bigger than I am. I physically cannot pick him up if he drops. That has nothing to do with me not doing something right.  I am starting to be ok with asking for help outside my circle and realizing its absolutely ok. Because it IS ok for me to receive help in carrying the load Kyle brings.

I had mentioned a while back in one of my blogs about this upcoming trip James had to schedule. Right after posting the blog, I got a message from Kyle’s previous teacher from Palmdale discovery center-who is amazing. 👇🏻

You guys. How awesome is she?! 😭 As soon as I found out the dates James would be gone I messaged her with them-then broke the news that I’d need her here by 6:10 because the bus is usually here by 6:15. She didn’t hesitate. She said she’d be here no problem. My heart was seriously full of gratitude.( I should probably preface this with-I wrote her back the first time and said I was trying to have James schedule his trip on a weekend and I probably wouldn’t need her! Ha. Ha. That obviously didn’t work out. Big wigs don’t work on weekends-go figure! 😏 Cue-my  dumb way of thinking that I don’t need help. Luckily when I asked if the offer still stood she said, of course!)

So Tuesday morning came and sure enough, Fonda text me at 6am to let me know she was here and waiting out front. I felt so much comfort in knowing she was there to help. She is amazing with Kyle. He loves her. She set a standard with him from the beginning and has followed through every single time! He knows what she expects and knows she will make him follow through! So having her there, I knew things would go smoothly.

The bus showed up early that morning and informed me that that was the new pick up time, 6 freaking am! 😳 AND it was a new driver. Kyle still did awesome despite ALL the changes to his routine that morning. He walked to the bus with Fonda no problem. None at all. Even Janine was shocked! He got on the bus no problem. Sat down in his seat no problem. Waved good bye to me and Fonda. And off he went. Same thing this morning. 🙏🏻

What a relief. Sometimes I think to myself,  ‘what other lessons do I possibly still need to learn from Kyle’? But I’m  sure there are many more lessons to be learned through the experiences he throws at me (probably because I’m so stubborn-God knew this was the only way I’d really learn 😂)That last business trip I was so mad at God. I was mad that he didn’t help me. He didn’t make it easy on me and MAKE Kyle get on the bus. He didn’t give me my 3 day miracle that I asked for. I was so angry. But looking back there were so many lessons to be learned from those horrible mornings. As hard as it is for me to admit, we are further ahead in getting Kyle in a morning routine that includes the bus BECAUSE of those hard, super hard 3 days. 

Sometimes God uses people to bless us and to perform His “miracles”.  I am so grateful for people like Fonda who selflessly woke up extra early to come to my house 2 days in a row, before the sun rises, to spend less than 5 minutes getting MY son on the bus. All with a smile. For no other reason than she cares about Kyle, and saw that I needed. These last two days were definitely  “miracles”.  All because someone offered to help and I was able to humble myself and accept the offer. ​💙 
​​

We did it! 

Now days it seems like there is so much hate and unkindness in the world.  At least that’s what you see and hear when you turn on the news or so often when you open social media. It is easy to get caught up with this idea and think there isn’t much good left in this crazy world we live in.  But, you guys, there are so many good people in this world!  I know this because we have been the recipient of so many good, kind, and very generous people the last 4 months.  

When I first started *really* considering the journey of fundraising for Kyle’s service dog, I was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed at the thought of asking people to donate their hard earned money to help MY son. I was overwhelmed every single time I thought of the amount, $25,000.00. That’s a lot of money. 😳I am horrible at asking for help. I don’t like it at all. I’d rather struggle doing it myself than ask for help (so dumb, I know-I’m learning to try harder with this but I still suck at it 😏). But when we decided to do this I knew I was going to HAVE to go out of my comfort zone and ask for help. These last four months have been some of the most humbling for me as I had no clue the amount of love and support we would receive. 

From the moment I announced what we were doing for Kyle, the messages and comments came flooding in! People wanted to help in any way they could. It started off with a lipstick party hosted by a great friend and it took off from there!  I had friends (friends I hadn’t spoken to in years except a comment here or there on Facebook) contact me with fundraising ideas that they planned and executed successfully! I had close friends who drove hours with their kids in tow to lend me their talents and hold multiple fundraisers! I had a friend who owns her own business host a sign night and donated ALL the money to our cause. I had friends email their family members with our story asking them to donate-most of whom donated large amounts! I had a sweet friend carry around a jar asking her friends to donate!  I had complete strangers contact me via social media asking if they could  put together an online silent auction-to which all items were donated mostly by strangers and the items were bought mostly by strangers! I had a non profit organization contact me and who donated a very large amount!  My mom and dad wrote letters on our behalf asking for donations, most of them mailed back checks with large donations and a kind note saying how excited they were to help. Many friends shared my posts on their Facebook page resulting in their friends donating!  The list is so long of people helping our family reach this goal that in the beginning seemed so far away! But every single day I would get an email  saying we received another donation! Every day we got closer and closer! Everyday my heart was filled with gratitude. 

I was told to prepare for 6-12 months of fundraising. It took us 4 months. FOUR months!!!!!! That is a miracle, you guys! I’m so incredibly grateful to every single person who donated, whether it was their time, their money, or support and encouragement. It’s because of all of YOU that we were able to reach our goal and reach it so quickly! As I sit here trying to put my feelings of gratitude into words, I can’t. I am just so grateful and so humbled by ALL the love and support. There is no way we would be able to give Kyle this gift without the help of so many of YOU! Thank you from the very bottom of my very full heart. ❤️We did it!

Raising this insane amount of money is just the beginning! I am so excited to share the experiences we will gain through having a service dog for Kyle! I am so excited to see Kyle’s famous grin when he meets his new buddy.  So, stay tuned! 💙💙💙