Wednesday, December 17, 2014

State Capitols For 500 Alex

Let me just say, today started out a little unusually as I took stuff to the car to load it & when I turned around there was a pit bull heading from the garage into my house.
I hear one of the poodles going CRAZY. (yes poodle)
I start inside and end up following a guy into my own house who owns the dog. That dog was scared to DEATH of my poodle. Just wanted to play. The guy lifts it up by the collar & carried it out apologizing. I stood there stunned.
After I finally left the neighborhood it started sleeting I kid you not.
I'm so glad these were not signs of how my day would go.
But wait! There's more!
I drive halfway to Oklahoma City, and get a phone call from Rose Rock saying, they are sorry but Carson's therapist is sick & the therapy appointment  is cancelled. I tell them, umm no. I am almost there---I can at least bring Carson his robe/flannel pajama pants & see him--right???
They hesitated but said they were pretty sure I could. They'd check on it.
I kept driving. No one is keeping me from seeing my kid. Not gonna happen.
 
 I pulled in & didn't even buzz the intercom, I pushed in the gate code & drove through.
Came to the front desk, the guy says, "Didn't they tell you--his therapist is out sick.  Your appointment is cancelled."
I said, "Didn't they tell you, I was already over halfway here. A two hour trip. I'm here to see my son. Please."
(Cue the big sweet smile with dimples.)
He gets on the phone & calls someone. Gets back to me telling me to have a seat, he was gonna see about getting me an escort.
I'm sorry---a what now?
An escort.
For....
To stay with you & Carson.
Uh huh.
Okay. Get 'em.
I wait--Carson shows up, filthy. Again. Hair not combed, face not washed, nails not trimmed & I won't mention the filth that in underneath them. And just like Thanksgiving, pants that will not stay on his body.
I am hardly impressed. We walk to a room, I take some pictures--which I was surprised I was allowed. Then over to the cafeteria where Carson sat in a corner facing a wall, by himself. (he tends to steal food off other trays)
Other kids & workers come in. I was shocked by what little food was on his tray & his little Styrofoam coffee cup sized fruit punch with film on the top. Other kids not eating, so staff takes their food & gives it to other kids.
I was surprised by how disinterested he was in it at first. They never washed his hands & they let him EAT with his hands.
I kept it alllllllll together. Took pictures on the sly--never of other children--even though my mommy heart wanted to. They never even cleaned up his ketchup face or hands afterwards. I would have, but there were not even papertowels around. Much less a sink. I left soon after.
 
My meeting at 2pm at the Capitol was because recently, I was asked by a fellow autism mom we'll call Betty, that I had never met  to attend a meeting at our state Capitol to discuss the facility Carson currently lives in.
Today that meeting  included Rep. Newell, Rep Moore & Rep Jordan. As well as maybe 10 different Dept of Human Services workers from different agencies.
We had Office of Client Advocacy, Child Care Services & Child Welfare Services all represented. Apparently the invitation was extended to DDSD, Rose Rock and Oklahoma Health Care Authority & they chose not to respond or send anyone. I'm shocked I tell you, shocked. (insert sarcasm)
Another mother we'll call Wilma who's son has recently turned 18 yrs old, has trail blazed for Carson & then myself.
There were maybe around 15-16 of us total.
 
Betty had called this meeting with Rep. Moore when she had met with him previously in September.
Betty says her son was in Rose Rock 9 days & later told a therapist that he had been molested while there.
Wilma said her son had unexplained bruising while there, just like Carson had. Neither of these women has a child there now--but I do. Betty kept saying she took her son out of Rose Rock & we left ours in.
Not winning you any points with me Betty. Your son doesn't beat you up at home daily thank you very much.
Betty has proven herself to be a little of a loose canon when talking to me previously so I knew going into this meeting, she would have her own agenda & be someone I will sit back & watch. Wilma has always been very sweet & helpful to me but seemed like she was carrying a probably warranted, chip on her shoulder from having to blaze the special needs petition trail.
Wilma also brought Fred her significant other & attorney.
 
Betty immediately let it be known she was hosting this party & even went so far as to sit herself at the opposite end of the table from ALL of us. She wouldn't even sit next to me, but several chairs down. So when she spoke, we ALLLLLLLLLLL had to turn & look at her. I refused. Immature you say? Petty maybe?
I never give into a 2 yr olds tantrums and give them the attention they seek. I usually the leave the room & tell them to come find me when their done with the drama. Since I couldn't leave the room I looked away.
The House Rep's asked us to go around & introduce ourselves so they knew where everyone was coming from perspective wise.
When it came to Betty's turn, she went off on a tangent for 15 mins until one of them reigned her back in, reminding here they didn't even know the rest of our names yet.
 
Betty continued to hijack what anyone else said & continual say her son wasn't like the other children because he could talk. I quietly pointed out Wilma's son had some words too.
I also mentioned my son was the only one who couldn't speak, wore diapers & was the only one currently living at the facility in question. Point Swaim. Back on course/task.
 
Needless to say Betty sort of sunk her own battleship from my point of view because she kept getting all coo-koo for Cocoa Puffs, getting off point & talking crazy.
I am sorry but you cannot accuse the women sitting across from you that work for the Department of Human Services, of being personally responsible for the bad choices or decisions other workers have made.
This will get you nowhere with them & that helps your son how?????  Exactly.
You HAVE to keep your big picture in mind & follow the train. The train of thought YOU called this meeting about.
Thank you for playing, we have some nice parting gifts for you.
 
Wilma, was doing fine until it came to funding & Texas. Then she sort of started bouncing in her seat. She got loud---being that'd it been 20 minutes until Betty last spoke, she piped up that Wilma needed to use the microphone so Betty could hear her down at her end of the table.
MAYBE, you should have thought about that BEFORE you sat down there on your throne by yourself lady!
But I digress.
Wilma, continues on about the past & her son's years spent in Texas, the numbers of financing it all, how many kids are in the state of Oklahoma total, and how Oklahoma needs this & that for future kids coming behind ours. All true. But...derailing the train Wilma.
 
In the mean time, at certain strategic times I am sliding over pictures of Carson's bruises. It comes up about me wanting to send Carson to Texas. Rep Newell asks me why I want him to go there. I keep it simple--Oklahoma can't meet his needs in the ONE facility it has. And as much as I'd like to tell you Rose Rock is meeting his physical needs I can't even do that. We are talking about maybe 1% of the kids on the autism spectrum in the state of Oklahoma. Maybe under 10 kids in the entire state like Carson. They are not equipped for these kids. Texas touches Oklahoma, so I can easily see my son location wise. It is the biggest state in the union which means more money for mental health, which translates to more array of facilities available. Not to mention more kids like Carson & staff who've treated them, encountered them & worked with them. I am not expecting a cure, I am expecting life skills. Help with communication & potty training. This is not too much to ask for the longevity of my child's happiness.
 
We discussed Dr. Prune (my pet name--remember him from the conference call?) and there were eye rolls from the DHS agencies, and nods of heads in agreement at his biased unprofessionalism. And his lack of compassion when dealing with say, anyone with a  lower IQ than average. We all agreed & let the House Rep's know that Dr Prune holds several major playing cards when dealing with these kids & their care. Especially concerning where they can or not go.
 
By the end of our several hours together I think we all came to be on the same page that although Rose Rock is all that Oklahoma has for kids like Carson---there is no reason to allow it go on unchecked.
I let them know point blank that although it is a private facility, we all know about the politics of this game.
Rose Rock can say they want Carson gone & set a discharge date at any given time.
Oklahoma Health Care Authority can say--we can't stop you from discharging Carson---however,  if you do, we will pull alllllllll these other state funded kids we PAY YOU to keep. So--it's your choice Rose Rock.
It's easier & cheaper for Rose Rock to keep Carson until he's18 years old. This is the game & let's not go on pretending it's not how it's worked & will continue to do so unless we keep it in check somehow, by working together. Checks & balances people.
 
I'm pleased with everything I was able to make heard for Carson today. I let them know I in no way want Rose Rock to close---I want it restructured & held accountable for it's care & actions towards every single child there.
I let them see a small peek into what living in our world is like, and how we know what is best for our kids--not Dr. Prune.
My feelings on Texas & the level of intellectual stimulation I expect for my son is my priority. That I will be making a trip to Texas very soon to bring as much information to court in January as I can.
I left them with the knowledge that while I am not pleased with some of the things that have happened on this journey, I see hope, and serious people in this room who want things to change. And that I look forward to hopefully being a part of that.
 
I was approached after the meeting by a couple of the House Rep's who gave me their cards--one who's parents fostered kids in wheelchairs, diapers, etc. He said he admired my resolve & wanted to continue this another time with me. I told him I was sure I would be around.
Several of the DHS agencies approached me giving me their info---taking mine.
One asked me what I used to do in the line of jobs. I told her I worked at a place just like Rose Rock after college in Little Rock. She wanted me to know I'd make a great child advocate if I wanted a job after I get Carson settled. I just might do that lady, I just might do that...
If there's one thing I've learned over the years, you have to keep yourself together. I did that today & with that came their respect I think. Rose Rock will be looked into, the investigations into the abuse won't be let go any longer & some new people are looking to help Carson & hold others accountable.
Everyone was heard today--they all had their agendas and they were heard. You can't get much better than that.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Holidays

There are quite a few holidays throughout the year, and so many memories I have from past holidays with my boys. The memories are a mixed bag of good and some bad. Today is Thanksgiving & we've had a very good day by comparison.
This morning, I didn't get up at 4am with son#2, but I did have to pack a special lunch to take with us for son#1. Today the husband didn't have to stand outside & feed son#2 from plates that I bring in succession for them both. But I did miss the appreciation that son#2 would have had for all the terrific food we had. And how he would have "helped" me in the kitchen last night, never leaving my side while I baked.

After eating lunch today, our family got to stay & visit with family instead of immediately rushing off after meeting the threshold of sensory overload for the boys.
I remember two years ago, our after lunch plan was to take a walk. I stayed home to clean up the dishes. The husband took son#2 and #3 for a walk around the neighborhood.
I got a call in less than 10 minutes that things had gone down hill suddenly.
Son#2 was getting naked, and when the husband tried to stop him, son#2 started screaming & scratching him.
I got in the car & started driving in the direction they had taken off, looking down side streets, with no idea where I was going.
They were 2 blocks away as I barely came to a screeching halt & threw the car in park while I jumped out.
We together were able to push son#2 into the backseat, yelled at son#3 to get in the front with us, locked the doors & I took off as fast as I could.

Two blocks doesn't sound like very far to drive. Shouldn't take too long. Yet, I remember it feeling like 30 minutes was going by. Son#2 was livid by this stage and sitting behind me attacking me the entire way. Grabbing my neck, scratching my face and neck as I tried to drive without wrecking the car. Trying to keep my hands on the wheel, but defend myself. Trying to keep his hands from grabbing my eyes. Screaming. So much screaming for that short ride. Son#2 screaming, me trying not to scream so I don't scare son#3. Husband trying to hold son#2 back as much as possible, also being scratched up.
We get home & send son#3 into the house while we grab a blanket in the backseat to wrap naked son#2 in while we try to rush him into the house without all the neighbors seeing the drama.

Once inside the house son#2 really ramped up chasing us through the house & attacking us.
That, was how a typical holiday day was spent for us. The days would take so long to come to an end. Time passed incredibly slowly. Torture.
Memorial day, Fourth of July, Easter--take your pick.

Today I missed son#2. And  I felt guilt at enjoying my food in peace. I couldn't sit down too much. I'm not used to sitting through the holiday days. I felt out of sorts. My other two sons entertaining themselves, just being boys--being themselves. No rush, no hurry. No worry of having to defend myself. I think it was a little taste of normalcy. Maybe a bigger bite of it than I was quite ready for. But I tried to let myself enjoy as much of it as possible. At the end of the day, being back home in my nest, I tried to really let go of the guilt that I did enjoy a day made for family---while a piece of my family was missing. I tried to slowly let myself soak it in the realization that this may be part of the new normal in my life. That calm & enjoyment of the day that how many people take for granted?
NEVER in all my time as a mother, have I had a Thanksgiving where I have eaten, sat down somewhere comfy, and taken a nap. I still haven't. But it's something I might be okay with doing one day. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Baby Mine

It was your birthday not too long ago baby. I won't say I haven't had time to write this, I've just been thinking on my words.  Now here we are at exactly one year since our lives changed so dramatically.

Sometimes it's hard for a mommy to find all the right ways to say how she feels inside. God made us complicated creatures that have so much love, that we can't always tell you exactly what that means.
As moms we have so many people's happiness that we seem responsible for. Sometimes that's a heavy feeling to carry in a mommy heart. Especially when we can't fix everything for you or at the very least, make it better or easier for you. What do I tell you & your brothers every day before school? Make good choices. I want you all to choose things that will make you happy in the future, not just in the moment. Whether you're choosing friends, what classes to take or whether to stand & fight--I want those to be things you think about before you act. However brief it may be, it may save you from hurt in the long run.

I seem to make a lot of your decisions for you and it's difficult for me to always see the big picture.
I used to think I knew exactly where you'd be--with me. Forever.
I knew from the moment we knew we were going to be your parents, that you would be a boy. I just had this feeling of certainty. Funny enough, as you've grown into the teenager you are today, there have been a lot of moments of certainty I've had about you. Which is ironic since Autism hardly ever contains certainty. But maybe that's why in the moments of floundering for answers for you, I have found myself truly scared. You came into this world on your own terms in such a hurry. You were born 30 minutes after we got to the hospital.  And since then, you've done almost everything, your way. You hardly let me baby you ever. So independent. Your own person.
You'd come snuggle but only when you wanted to & for only as long as you wanted.
 I was so worried the first time you stayed overnight from me. How would I let you know I'd be back? How would I let you know not to be scared? I remember just staring at you. Talking to you when you slept.  Trying to will you to understand this was for the best & not to be scared.

It's been quite a year. This time last year we celebrated your birthday in town. We saw you every week & we were about to embark on a scary journey together where giving up my child, would help you more than anything else could. Help us all. I still don't know if I understand it all, but we made it every step of this year together, by the grace of God.
You have taken the past 3 years and you've been so very brave baby. I know you've been scared, you've been sad and you've not understood all of what's been going on. But, through it all, your independence has helped you stay strong & endure. God has heard me beg many days & nights to hold you in His hand. Baby, you have so many people that pray for you, that wish good things for you & want what's best for you. I know we'll survive this stage of life. It's what we do. We're the toughest ones in the family. but don't tell your dad & brothers. We're the toughest because we have the softest hearts don't we? We feel things the deepest & yet we get back up and keep going forward.  You may be a daddy's boy, but we're a lot a like.

Baby, I don't know what is going to happen from here on out. I don't know if I can't make anything better for you anymore like I used to. But I know we'll just take it as it comes & survive.  It's just what we do.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What Were You Doing A Year Ago?


Do you even remember? I do. I was trying to address some valentines with Son#3 when Son#2 (who'd been home 5 months) was making all his noises very loudly. So we could hear, I thought I'd shut my door to give us some quiet--but Son#2 wasn't having any of that. He started trying to bust the door in. As I went to open it so he wouldn't break it, he busted in & a very large picture frame behind the door fell & glass went everywhere right by the door. I started pushing the door closed to keep Son#2 from walking in it & told Son#3 to get up on my bed until I could clean it up. Son#2 started busting the door hard with all his weight, so I left the room to draw him away from the door/glass & calm him. I started toward the kitchen & he took a swipe at my neck. I kept moving, hurrying, trying to get to the pantry & try to buy off his hunger with food. I never got to the pantry.


Son#2 chased me & chased me in circles around the kitchen table, around the living room---all the while I was trying to get my phone out & call Husband. I knew this was a bad episode & Son#2 was very wound up. He was SO angry that I'd dared to keep him from a room. Was he tired? Hungry? Constipated? It didn't matter. All that mattered was he wanted blood. He chased me &  every time he caught me he grabbed a hunk of flesh & twisted and held on for dear life.  When I could I tried to grab him behind the neck & push him down to the floor so he'd have to tire himself out to get back up & come after me, buying myself time. There was never enough time to pull my phone out AND call. I finally dialed 911-- and lost my phone, never getting to hit send. From the floor he grabbed my leg & took me down like a lion does his prey. He bit the calf of my leg and held his teeth in. I screamed & screamed, all the while trying to crawl away, kicking & screaming. When I got away I called Husband---another bite on the back of my bicep. More screaming, me pushing his face to make him let go of his bite/hold.

I won't go further. That's the jist of it--the whole 45 mins of it. The kids locked in separate rooms, hearing all the screaming & crying.  After Husband got home--and Son#2 calmed. I had blood everywhere, Son#2 had a black eye that was almost closed. So Feb 13, 2013 is the day. The day I knew it wasn't going to work with my baby living at home.

Now, here we are a year later. Son#2 is happier back in an an institutional type environment full time where he knows the boundaries & that he's outnumbered. We're going to court every few months, sharing custody with DHS & paying child support. There is a sense of relief, shared with a sense of loss. Every day. The sad part to me is we are all better off living apart. How is that part of the God's plan? I ask why, because there's no point. However, that is the hardest part to accept. But we have other children to raise that we are responsible for. And no one said life should or would be easy on this earth. One day at a time. And days like February 13th, are 30 minutes at a time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rock, Meet Hard Place

So many of you have kept up with our family's ups and downs on Facebook,and it's been easier to keep family AND friends updated at once. But I'd like to return to my blog & try writing more often.

As of today, October 14, 2013, Son#2 is still at Camelot (Rose Rock) where he's been since the first week in August.
We received a visit from DHS again in our home last Wednesday evening. They said they needed to meet a week before court. The new permanent case worker says the problems right now lie with OK Healthcare Authority & Rose Rock saying we aren't participating enough in son#2's therapy.

 We go to court next Tuesday but even if the judge recommends that we only have to go at the least, once a month to OKC, the OKHCAuthority, can still reject that. Even though they realize & understand that son#2's situation is one where it's permanent & not a rehab type situation.
They are son#2's insurance because he is disabled. When you are disabled, the state gives you their insurance. (which is good in our case because otherwise his meds would cost us around $2000 a month) So, since they are paying the bills, they have the final say in whether we are keeping involved enough in his treatment plan. They are trying to fit a square peg (that's us!) in a round hole.  And in my opinion, essentially forcing our hand.

The main problem with that is, it's impossible for us as a family to mentally, physically & financially to go every single week to OKC for "therapy". Been there & done that for a year. Still dealing with some costs from that. That my friends, puts us between a rock & a hard place. Meaning the state would try & discharge son#2 from where he's at--the rock. This is THE only place within the state that meets all his needs. To keep him there at Rose Rock/Camelot---we either go once a week, OR we sign over/give up parental rights--the hard place. To keep our son safe & in the only place in the state equipped for him, we may have to face the reality that we have to give up our rights so that he can stay there.

We've been grappling with this for awhile, knowing it was a real possibility. The guilt, the mixed feelings, our other children, the anger, the tears that are constantly at the surface ready to bubble over. Knowing something is easier physically on your family as a whole, in no one cancels out your emotions & feelings of your heart & what you WANT to do.
 There's so much we're already still working through with knowing we are settling into a routine without him here & that he won't be back here for the upcoming holidays. How do a mother & father sit down & logically talk out their feelings on giving up parental rights to their child when everything you did from the time you were pregnant, was to protect them & keep them safe?

We are trying to make arrangements to get down to OKC very, very soon so it buys son#2 some time at RRock & gets the insurance off our backs. Ideally, I'd go myself during the day once a month or so. But it's tricky. Nothing is ever as simple as just saying it. Car issues still in the picture for us & just timing. Also, fall break is this week. Anyway, all that to say of course we'd love your continued prayers for son#2 and his safety/happiness& contentment. But we also ask for some prayers for us, that God may give us wisdom to know what is right for our family. To help a mothers heart not break in two, no matter what the outcome.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Next Step

Hello friends & family. It's been awhile since I've
given you an update on Carson's situation & plight to get him what
he needs. I will try to explain what's been going on, but bear with me. I've been putting this off
for a month or so. All this information has taken me months to collect & it's been in small bits & pieces around from different people. And to be honest, it's gut wrenching to even sit here & type it all out for you. We are in a very sensitive place right now sort of riddled with anxiety off & on as our minds fade in and out of distraction.
But it is easier to explain it one time & with a fluid train of thought. Also, if it seems I'm being vague--I am.
For reasons of protection that could come back on us. I'm trying to tread carefully since we are new to this situation & want to protect ourselves. Thank you for your patience as we've tried to explain blindly or politely changed the subject.

Tomorrow is D-day for us. Tomorrow, July 30th, 2013 is the day we are
supposed to pick Carson up. As in, he is supposed to come home.
Contrary to all that we hear,from people in positions to know or experts in this field, our research with actual people tells us that the special needs petition isn't really a form to fill out or a waiting list
to be listed on. It's us the parent, petitioning the court to place Carson in a facility on a full-time basis. To do this, we refuse to pick him up tomorrow.
The fact that we will refuse to pick him up, begins the process. The person we are in contact with, tells us this is the only way. Which is such a shame.
As much as I hate to say this, it will technically be us, abandoning Carson by our refusal to come get him.
The word hurts me so if you've used it around me lately & I've flinched, you can understand why.
I'll try to explain a little of why it has to be done this way.

In Oklahoma in 1964, Hissom Memorial Center was donated in Sand Springs for a home/institution for those with mental disabilities. They housed over 1200 patients. In the 80's a group called Homeward Bound brought a suit against the center in hopes of closing it down and placing patients into communities and integrating them into society as much as possible, contending it was more humane and much cheaper than institutionalization. Hissom closed in 1987. As in any establishment, I concede there were probably many issues that were wrong with Hissom & at the same time, many people/children that it helped benefit.
After it's closing, legislation was passed to prevent any child in Oklahoma from being permanently institutionalized. What this means for Carson is that until he's 18 yrs old, he would have to go to places like Rose Rock, and be there MAYBE a year, then checked out for 6 months & re-admitted when there was space. All the while, with the staff knowing, he isn't "cured" of his aggressive behavior & that most kids like Carson are just starting as they enter puberty.

What happens with the special needs petition is, we will call Shadow Mtn tomorrow morning---and by we I mean Matt--to let them know we will NOT be picking him up. Then they may possibly send a letter threatening us to pick him up or they'll call the police. We would then send THEM a letter detailing why we don't feel it's safe for our other children to pick Carson up & return him home. However long it takes DHS to become involved, they will be contacted & whenever they get to it, Carson will be moved to a new facility they've built in Tulsa for kids that are wards of the state. We've heard it's nice & he will be taken care of. Then we will go to court (hopefully avoiding arrest--God is good.) and explain why we can no longer have Carson at home for his safety or ours. They assign us to a DHS person & meanwhile Carson is in DHS custody, along with having a guardian ad litem--whom we already know God has chosen. Sources say, we do not need a lawyer for this, it's pretty informal, but you obviously CAN have one if you wish. We called one lawyer but he claimed to have invented the special needs petition & wanted a $2500 retainer to tell us anything. We'll be going this alone. As scary as it all is, our story has made it's way around Tulsa. We choose to trust & believe God has this one.

After a few more court dates, Carson will most likely return to Rose Rock in OKCity. And we will still retain visitation but will NOT have to attend weekly therapy sessions etc. Our rights as parents are still there but the burden of  We will then EVERY 30 DAYS, return to court, to have his papers stamped with "discharged" and then we will be asked if anything has changed on our part--we say no. Then his papers are immediately re-stamped with "re-admitted". This is how the state gets around it's own law it's too lazy to change, which keeps Carson from remaining "permanently" in an institution. This will continue until he's 18 yrs old,  we find a place in another state perhaps, or until I pester enough state officials to move money around & place him out of state.

As you can see Carson still needs prayers, we are more at peace but it's nerve wracking. The past months doing Tuesday therapies and playing this game with the therapist is more than I can get into right now but needless to say it was draining. Her asking if we're ready for him to come home & if we have all our papers for the special needs petition filled out. All the while she knows what that entails & so do we. It's like a dance that I am NOT good at. Fakeness & lying are two things I really despise. Anyway, please continue the encouragement & prayers for our entire family while we go through this difficult time.




 

Friday, August 31, 2012

My Three Sons

Dear Boys~

One day you'll be reading this as grown men, and I felt I should let you in on the reality of how a day in the life of your mother feels.
Today, in this time of your life, you think I play games and watch T.V. all day. As much as I'd like this to be true, a lady of leisure I'm not.
I just had a very trying few days lately as your mother and felt it might help your future selves and your children to understand me better if I write it all down now.

Jackson, I really worry about your adjusting to high school. You still seem so immature to me, yet your deep voice & leg hair suggest different. I know, you don't want to talk about that.
You tell me you want to live with me forever & won't even contemplate spending the night with someone else, but you talk to me with such rudeness sometimes. I realize no matter how much autism there is in your make up, there is just as much "normal teenager" in there as well.

I worry about kids offering you drugs or making fun of you and you not knowing it. I worry about you not feeling the need for friends, but you tell me that you like doing what you want by yourself. I'm happy you & Noah are talking computer games & starting to want to "hang out". Who knew it'd be 14 years before you wanted a play date? I love how when you hug me or give me a kiss, you have to bend down to do it. My big boy. Your daddy always asks me don't I want you all to become men one day. I always look at him like he's grown three heads--Umm NO I DON'T! Men have their own lives that moms aren't privy to most of the time. Who will help you? Who will see the situation UN-literally & guide you through it? Who else will call me Julie like you do?

It's one thing to leave my own life up to God. To realize my part in His plan and allow my control over my life to be usurped. But I carried YOU in my body. I prayed and talked to you before you ever left my body. You were all I had when Daddy & I started out. Just you and me alone all day waiting for him to come home. I've been there when no one else was. I talked you out of meltdowns, snapped at people who stared too long, and I explained your behavior to others in a way to help them understand you better. I helped set your course in the way I felt God might want it to be. But to have you grow up, means I have to give up steering your course and turn it over to God. That is much, much more difficult for me than giving my own life over to Him. To pray from afar? I have to let you go little by little and it's hard for a mommy. I guess that's better than ripping the band-aid off all at once though.

That band-aid brings me to you Carson. You are my baby that I brought home & I wanted ten more right then. You are so perfect in my eyes. Your laughing spirit makes me so happy your middle name is Isaac. This week I've been working on school things here for when you come home from camp. And it's not been easy son. I'm finding answers I didn't want, nothing is as easy as I hoped it would be if I was organized and I just want to hurry up and have you here. All my chickies in the nest. Daddy is there at camp with you right now. He said you saw him and were all smiles.
I know you realize you're coming home this weekend. I'm not even stressed like usual. I'm just waiting patiently for you to get here. I need you to be where I can keep you from scraping your knees up constantly. I need to be the one who puts medicine on your owies and who knows what your cry means you need. I hope you learned things while you were at camp. I pray when you get back things are better for you & for us as a family.
We love you so much CarCar.

So many things will change here Carson, but I'm ready. I'm ready for God to give me the reigns back. I've learned how to get to the peace that passes understanding. You being gone for a year, you being hurt either by someone else or their stupidity, it was a direct message from God that I have no control over this. He has this. Your mommy is a realist, and she hardly does anything without putting an efficient twist on it. If I had no control, than 99% of the time I knew this was ALL God's plan. That even if you were hurt when I had left you somewhere, God had plans for that event. Godly things would come of it. And I would never, ever in my mommy mind know what that could be, so I left the big stuff up to Him and concentrated on what He asked of me. To love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and spirit.

Carson, people have asked me and my friends all year, "How is Julie this calm?"
I was never happy you were away. But over the years I've learned to be happy wherever I am. It's all relative. On the side of a highway, you find the bad that didn't happen. When your child was hurt, you find relief in that someone found it and reported it.
I don't have all the answers Carson, and you and I will butt heads when you come home, I'm sure of it. There will be hard days, I'm sure. Days we both cry. You, Daddy & I have many, many years together still. But that's my job. God asked me to be in charge of helping you be the best you that you can be. So I want you to know, that I'm on it. I will NOT fail you. And when I can't be there, God has you. I'm so excited that while things won't be much different with you home than before, that God says it's time. So that tells me, there are plans to prosper you my baby.

Grayson Matthew--boy were you a surprise. And you continue to be one. Who knew that God had been holding you back waiting all those years to give you to our family when you were needed the most?
Papa died suddenly the month before you were born. You were such a gift from God. Nana cried a lot when she held you at first. She was so sad that Papa would never know you. But I told her that Papa met you before any of us did. You are such a ball of happy energy that never stops wondering and trying to please us all. Your spirit was sent from God to our family.
You're in your first week of first grade when I'm writing this letter. New school, new teacher and getting ready to share your bedroom with Carson.
You two have always been buddies. Since you were born Carson has stuck pretty close to you. He was always & still is, so very easy with you. Your prayers for him every night to keep him safe are like music to my soul. Your brothers are both lucky to have you. One day they'll need you ,but I know right now they give you a hard time. Just know that they love you and how different you are from them and how you are always so loving with them.

I see all that you will have to know for school and your Daddy & I see how different of a world this will be for us. Right now I worry that you don't know anyone at your new school & at church you only have one or two friends. You love people so much that I hate to see you left out or struggling for friends to include you. I love the little man you are right now. You started out so shy and wouldn't talk and now you're volunteering to lead prayers in your Bible class! You're so smart Gray, and your mind sees things as being so easy. You're eager to learn and we know you'll one day want to play sports. We've never been in that parenting world yet of soccer moms & dads but we know you will open new doors to our family with your smile and personality that people love.
One day I would bet we have a house full of your friends & while I'm feeding them huge amounts of food, you'll be including your brothers in the fun. Your heart is so tender & so big and full of love. You light up the room son, and one day I know all my worries will be for nothing and you'll be king of all the playgrounds! It's hard to imagine that as you start first grade, Jack is starting his freshman year in high school. Or that Jackson will be 18 yrs old in 4 years. That Carson is taller than me and weighs what my drivers license says I do.

The last few days were tough, but the twinkle in your eyes, all of your big, brown, mommy eyes, give me the strength to get back up and do the whole mommy thing again tomorrow. Even when I have a headache, or you're sassy, annoying or loud, I still always want to be your mommy. So remember that forever when you're reading this my three sons.