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. ​💙 
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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! 💙💙💙


Another puzzle piece

Throughout Kyle’s life we have been blessed by some amazing people.  From teachers to therapists to doctors.  All of them have been a piece to Kyle’s extremely complicated puzzle but some have been a piece to my puzzle (slightly less complicated but only slightly 😉) as well. One of those people is Ciarra. 

I have talked about Ciarra a few times before being an integral part of Kyle’s behavioral team. And she has. She is one of the main reasons Kyle has come so far. She has created amazing programs that have caused Kyle to progress in ways I can never thank her enough for.  She has done awesome things for Kyle’s progress.  She has taught Erika to be a great therapist which has made Kyles progreSs that much more. 

But as much as she has done for Kyle she has done more for me. Since the moment I met Ciarra she has called or text me to check on me at least once a week. She is always brutally honest with me, but in a way that makes me want to push myself.  She is always encouraging and is one of my biggest cheerleaders. And after 5 years I consider her my friend. 

Today ciarra and I met as we usually do every couple of weeks. The only difference is today we had to discuss her transitioning out. She is pregnant and going on maternity leave at the end of the month. She says she’s coming back part time but we will see! 😉 

We chatted as usual then moved on to discuss the upcoming transition of erika taking on the supervisor role. Then she asked how things were going-she reads my blog so she already  knows! 😉 She mentioned the bus and then proceeded to do what she does best! She boosted me up by laying into me! 😂 Is that even possible? Well somehow Ciarra totally can pull this off! I told you-she’s amazing! We talked about how business trips for James are inevitable and that I need to go outside of my comfort zone and ask for help. Create a team for when things like Business trips come up, so James can leave and feel confident that I’m not going to have a mental breakdown..again. 😬 Or decide to keep Kyle home knowing that he won’t get on the bus without James there. 🤦🏻‍♀️She explained that I can do this and I should! She told me that it’s ok for me to ask for help, to pay someone to help me. That it’s smart! She gave me advice on how I should build a team of people that I can pay to help when James is gone or when I need a break. And I shouldn’t feel guilty and it doesn’t make me a bad mom. By the time she was done, I was so confident in my ability to go outside my comfort zone and ask for help with Kyle, and most importantly she had convinced me it’s ok and necessary for my own sanity.

I have always struggled with sharing the load that comes with Kyle. I only feel like I can ask my mom or James for help. And even then I am reluctant. I have always felt that Kyle is so difficult and that asking someone to endure the difficulty for a period of time was not ok. Even as I write this out it sounds so silly. But it’s how I feel. I’m his mom it’s my load to carry. 

Ciarra opened my eyes today like she has so many other times. But today she reassured me that it’s ok to share the load. It’s ok to pay someone to help me. It’s ok to accept help from others. It’s ok to need help, because Kyle IS hard. It’s ok and it’s necessary.  Especially as he gets older and bigger. 

Being Kyle’s mom means constantly learning, constantly growing and stretching myself. Being Kyle’s mom also means I am able to meet extraordinary people that end up being lifelong friends. People like Ciarra.  

As Ciarra transitions out I know we will stay in contact-even if she decides not to come back.  Maybe not on a professional level but definitely on a friendship level. I am so grateful that God continues to place people in my life that a perfect fit to not only Kyle’s puzzle but mine as well. 💙

“He’s my brother!”

Wednesdays mean therapy is at grandma’s house! Kyle always looks forward to it and usually hops right in the car! Today he skipped out to the car super excited and walked to his side of the car, opened the car door then walked to the dirt and proceeded to play in it while I buckled Whitney in the car. This is all normal! Annoying cuz his hands are all dirty and he of course wants to touch me with them afterward, but normal for him 🙄.

As I walked over to guide him back to the car and into his seat, he decided that for some reason today he was NOT going to cooperate…for reasons I’m not sure of 🤔. As soon as I nudged him toward the car, he dropped to the ground…ugh! I hate when he does this, he knows I can’t physically do anything which frustrates me even more!! So I tried to get him up by repeating over and over to stand up. But I could see that was going no where and my patience had run dry! So I decided to get in the car and tell him I was leaving him-you know how you tell you’re kids this, never with the intention of REALLY leaving them?! Well sometimes it works with Kyle!

I got into the car frustrated and right before shutting my car door I said, “Fine! We’re leaving without you” Whitney began to cry. “Don’t leave him, mom! He’s my brother!” She yelled it at me several times through her tears. I tried to reassure my sweet 3 year old that I was not going to *really* leave her brother.  But she still took a few minutes to stop crying and realize that I wasn’t actually going to leave Kyle sitting in our driveway!

Sure enough, Kyle got up a few short minutes later and got in the car and off to grandmas house we went.

All of my kids see how difficult Kyle is every day. They witness his meltdowns daily. They see their mom struggle. They see Kyle struggle. They all are so aware…each one of them love him so much despite the obstacles he throws at all of us daily. They are the first to defend him and protect him-even his 3 year old sister. I love that Kyle is constantly teaching my kids about unconditional love and the importance of sacrifice.  And I love that Kyle is shaping my kids to be some truly amazing people.

I made this video during autism awareness month and I cry every time I watch it.  Kyle is so lucky to have each one of them by his side and they are lucky to have him. I love my kids.  All of them.

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First day *officially*

Kyle officially started high school today.  I still can’t believe he’s in high school. I can’t believe we have made it this far! And I say we cuz it has definitely been a team effort! 

Kyle had two weeks off in between the end of summer school and the start of the regular school year. I mentally prepared myself for the worst. Last night I tossed and turned in bed, thinking of every single worst case scenario 🙄! I finally got out of bed at 5:45 and woke Kyle up, hoping for the best but totally expecting the worst. 

I woke him up 10 min early thinking he would refuse to get out of bed and have to skip breakfast due to lack of time. But to my surprise he popped up and walked downstairs no problem! 

Since the epic fail with the bus, while James was gone, I have been keeping the iPad away from him until he gets on the bus. As soon as he sits down in his seat he gets the iPad. So, he ate his breakfast with no iPad and everytime he asked for it, I reminded him that as soon as he got on the bus he would get it. He put up his usual fight with getting dressed but nothing out of his norm. 

When he was all ready we sat by the window and waited for the bus. My stomach in knots and him spitting everytime I mentioned the bus. I kept thinking “keep it together, even if it’s awful, keep it together”. James reassured me about 25000000x that everything was going to be fine. But like Kyle, sometimes all the reassurance in the world doesn’t take away the anxiety (I am definitely on the spectrum)! 

The bus was supposed to be there at 6:28am. Our son justin also started high school today, and James had to leave to take him and a few friends to school at 7:45. So when 6:35 rolled around and the bus still wasn’t there, my anxiety sky rocketed! My heart raced every minute that passed and the bus wasn’t there! I was freaking out at the thought of James having to leave and me having to try to get him on the bus alone…with a new bus driver…and the first day back after having a 2 week break! 

At 6:42, the bus pulled up, *phew*! I walked out with kyles backpack, while James got Kyle up and walking. The new bus driver was a middle aged woman with a big smile! *phew* I told her Kyle struggles sometimes with getting on the bus and she laughed and said not a problem! *phew* I got on the bus first and Kyle followed and sat down in his seat, no problem! *phew, phew, phew*!!!!!! The whole process was 2 minutes, and off they went! James was able to leave with justin on time, and my stomach eased up and my heart started to slow down!

Kyles afternoon bus driver is different than the morning driver. So I anxiously awaited him to get home to see how his day went and the ride home went. I was greeted as the bus doors open by another super friendly driver and Kyle with his goofy grin! Janine was right behind him helping him transition from bus to home! 

Janine said he had a GREAT day! Yay!!!!! 

This season in Kyles life has been one of the most difficult. One that I will be so glad when Kyle finally has this new routine down. But there is something about hard seasons with Kyle that make me appreciate and celebrate when there is a break in the hard-even if it’s just one good day amongst many bad days.  Somehow small triumphs give me just enough fuel to keep going. To continue trying. To keep hoping.  And so as hard as it is to admit, I am grateful for hard seasons (but welcome an easy one sometime real soon)!

This too shall pass…right?

If you don’t ever experience anxiety….you are a lucky duck-and I’m jealous! Ugh. It sucks. The constant worry and sometimes nausea that occurs as I try and navigate daily through life, sucks big time. I’ve shared before that I deal with my anxiety by talking myself through it.  But sometimes when I’m in a really hard season with Kyle (like, say, NOW), I question how I’m gonna talk myself through another day of excessive worrying, but somehow I do every time. I guess I should be grateful I can do this. I don’t think people realize I’m struggling internally because I have learned to mask it so well…I’m not sure if that’s a good thing but I’m gonna say it is 🤷🏻‍♀️and give myself kudos for plugging away every single day-despite it! 👏🏻

Kyle ended summer school two weeks ago so we had a break from the everyday brutal bus/school routine. But come Monday morning at 6:30am we start the painful process all over again. 2 weeks is just enough time for Kyle to get out of the school routine…which is not awesome. 😏This means I have to gear up for another rough week (or few weeks) of getting him back into the routine.  I’m not sure I’m mentally prepared….

The bus company called yesterday to give me the name of the driver and the pick up and drop off times. I instantly became nauseaous and thought of everything that could go wrong on Monday morning at 6:28 when the bus pulls up with a *NEW* driver 😩. No more (patient) Jorge. Oh the anxiety!!!!!

I worry that this new driver won’t be as patient and won’t wait as long on days that Kyle struggles with the transition into the bus! I worry that if that happens, Kyle will be reinforced and will think if he  protests long enough the bus will drive away and he won’t have to ride the bus. I worry that Kyle will sense that new driver’s impatience and it will cause him more anxiety. I worry that Kyle will have another panic attack. I worry he will throw up on the bus and someone will have to clean him up and the bus. I worry about the super long day he will have-6:30am-3:30pm every day! I worry that Kyle will refuse to get on the bus and James won’t be able to get him on there. I worry that he won’t be the first stop and will struggle more getting on the bus because other kids are already on there. I worry that things will not get easier. I worry that I will become emotional and cry in front of my kids…again. I worry that we are in for a long season of hard. 

Sometimes when I think about what I’m worried about it doesn’t make sense-I worry about scenarios that probably won’t ever happen or scenarios that I have no control over,  I know this. I tell myself this. But anxiety doesn’t make sense. It takes over (I told you guys, I’m on the spectrum too 😬 Kyle definitely gets it from me) and I can’t help but worry and stress! It’s awful. 
So as Monday is fast approaching I’m trying to talk myself through the anxiety…again. I’m telling myself it will be tough come Monday morning. But Im also telling myself we will get through it. It’s just probably gonna be hard…again. I’m *trying*to reassure my anxiety ridden self that I can do this. That Kyle can do this. That no matter what happens on Monday morning Kyle will be ok. I will be ok.  I’m looking forward to a change in seasons, an easier season….hopefully sooner than later. A season with less anxiety for both of us. 💙

Ps James has another business trip on the calendar for September. Heaven help me. 🙏🏻The anxiety has already started! 😰 who wants to come muscle Kyle on the bus? 💪🏻