Friday, October 26, 2012

Little Cujo

Oh my gosh you guys, I just realized I haven't updated you on our littlest addition. 

And even though nobody has asked or cares, I know you're all just dying on the inside to hear some more about her.

I'm so so sorry to keep you waiting on pins and needles.

Little Lucy is................

(Except when she's at Aunt Cinda's house. Again, we couldn't be more sorry. Really. She feels terrible. I can see it in her eyes.......)

Ahem - anyways,  normally she's very sweet.

And she loves the kids.

And she doesn't run off.

And she mostly makes it outside to do her business.
(Except at Aunt Cinda's house....Again, so sorry!)

Her downfalls? She chews and digs.
But come on, really? Who doesn't do that?

And the hubs is still "warming up" to her. He loves to pretend to hate her, but deep deep deep deep deep down somewhere, I think he really likes her. Deep deep deep down.

Although when he looked up St. Bernard puppy pics the other night, I thought he was going to kill me.

"Geez, Rachel! You adopted a freaking St. Bernard!"

I was quick to explain that the vet says she is only part St. Bernard.

And I didn't know that when I adopted her.

And anyways, who doesn't need a 200 pound, drooling mastiff when they have three kids, tons of medical bills, and another dog to feed? I mean sheesh - lighten up. (J/K Todd. If she does end up to be a 200 pound drooling Cujo, you have my permission to throw it back in my face until she eats us and/or we grow old and die of natural causes.)

But her paws are little so I think hope hope hope she'll be little like her mama.

And she doesn't drool yet.

I mean, what can I say?

I sure do know how to pick em.

And that's your latest update from Crazy Dog Lady.

Until next time, you're welcome.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Deep Stuff

So those of you who know my husband know a fun loving, passionate, stubborn person who loves his kids, both ours and his teens, with all his heart.

And as we've traveled the last almost four years together, we've learned that we deal with the tough issues of life very differently. We're night and day. I turn to my family, friends, and this blog to hash out my emotions and frustrations, and Todd turns inward. Clams up. He says it's not that he doesn't accept it, but that he just doesn't want to talk about it. And that's okay most of the time because he listens when I need him to and I shut up when he needs me to. And we laugh together. A lot. Because sometimes masking pain with humor is a lot more fun than wallowing in it. But we're also aware that our differences could easily turn into a resentment that explains the 80% divorce rate of parents with special needs kids, health or otherwise. 80%. Staggering, and yet, I can see how it happens. We both can see how it happens, so we fight like hell to make our marriage work and it does.

Anyway - all this to say, I was shocked to get this email in my inbox one day. And even more shocked when Todd said he wanted to me to share it in this space that I've created on the internet. 

And Owen is doing well right now, but we're struggling as we watch him ignore toys, retreat into his own world and play with his hands all day long. We hope it is just another phase, and we're working on drawing him out in those moments, but we're struggling to find the right tools. He's either playing with the dogs or his hands and sometimes you wish he would just want to play with you. Ya know?

And the lyrics to this song don't describe him exactly because every child is different, but Todd's email was a first. And I hope it was as healing for him to write as it was for me to read.


You inspire me with your transparency so I thought I'd just lay it out there...

I know I don't talk much about Owen but I think the middle verse of this song sums up the feelings I wrestle with it at my core. I know it's not my fault but his pain is hard not to see as my own fault as half his genetic code. It's not my fault but it feels like it is, you know? On the flip side he lights me up in a second. I know you know those moments where he holds your face in his little hands, stares lovingly into your soul and melts you. I love those moments and all the other wonderful things about him. It's a choice to see him one way or the other. Most of the time I see green lyrics but other times I am consumed by the yellow ones. I know you know this but I want you to know I know it too. I love you! Thanks for being his faithful loving warrior and loving me when the yellow creeps over me. I'm eternally grateful to have you as a best friend. I love you.


When it's apparent, that you have failed as a parent. Homie I ain't got 
An answer. Man I ain't got an answer. Homie I ain't got an answer. I don't 
Know. It's apparent sometimes I think I've failed as a parent. And my son 
Having autism is rough. But maybe he don't speak cuz words don't say much. 
Maybe he don't need words to communicate his love. And sometimes his 
Silence [OR SCREAMING] causes me to stumble. It's possible he's a version of me that's 

More humble. And I think my child finds more joy in playin with my phone, 
Than playin on his own. Will he shed a tear when I'm gone? I'm wrestling 
With the shame of an outsider view of me, cause life is the spotlight, and 
Eyein' in on securities. But I know his laugh, it lights up a thousand 
Rooms. And when he speaks to me it just like a flower blooms. This has just 

Become my own visual diary. I'm at the doctor's office just hopin they
Would lie to me. That my son would be alright. But if he's not, my son 
Would be alright. Cause he is God's. Autism, Single Cell, or Down Syndrome, 

Still keepin the faith in the midst of hard livin'. We stand together cause 
We have no other place to go. My son and I we live and fight even tho... I 
Ain't got an answer x3. When it's apparent, that you have failed as a 

Parent. Homie I ain't got an answer. Man I ain't got an answer. Homie I 
Ain't got an answer. I don't know. When it's apparent that you have failed 
As a parent..."

Dear Todd,

You Have Not Failed as a parent.

You are so patient with him. He's not like your other son who wants to be by your side all the time, and yet you still try to draw him out. You still try to calm him when the world is not friendly for him. You still change his diapers even though he's past the age that you should have to do that. You still mix his formula and help feed him when he needs help. You still grip his legs in the midst of a crowd and hold him high and let him grasp your head like a life-line to let him know it's okay; you've got his back. Always.
I love you for that and so many other things.

You Have Not Failed.

Quite the opposite. 

You have shown him and me more love and faith than we could have imagined. You have been our rock through the bad days. 

You Have Not Failed.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The second part of our trip was way too short.

Todd's aunt and uncle live in this warm haven that is perfect for kids and adults alike. All I wanted to do was lay on the dock and stare at the sunset and all the kids wanted to do was fish and catch turtles and all Todd wanted to do was help his aunt in the yard. Something for everyone? I think yes.

I mean, who wouldn't want to live here?

Thank you Aunt Kathy and Uncle Steve for housing and feeding our crew.

Thank you for all the lovely plants that look awesome in our yard.

Thank you especially for all the hugs and kisses and love you gave our kids!

Next time, we're staying longer. You've been warned. :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Back to Reality

We took a trip last week to the Nation's Capital.  It was a great trip. Everybody traveled well and we all enjoyed seeing the sights and spending time with grandparents.

The weather was perfect. Absolutely perfect. The trees were changing colors and leaves were falling  and covering the ground in a beautiful tapestry of red, orange, and gold. 

Certain three year olds were able to express their needs in overwhelming situations, which involved a LOT of carrying him in crowds, but with four adults, that was easily doable. And we only had one major meltdown. One. Yup, you read that right. That's some serious progress people.

And the oldest two got to learn a lot about our nation's history. Invaluable.

And my favorite  quote of the trip was when we were on the bus headed to the white house and Isaac turned to me with wide eyes and said, "Mom, this is the first time I will ever be face to face with the president."

Um yeah......I wish bud, but we're not actually meeting the president.

Bless his little heart.

So so close.......

And while the kids did a few museums with their grandparents, Todd and I went to the Holocaust Museum. If you've never been, go. It will change you. We're still talking about it. That was some of Satan's best work right there. The overwhelming sense of evil walking through the rooms and reading the stories literally puts weight on your shoulders. And when you walk into the room full of shoes and you can smell the smells, I can't even describe it. Terrible. Terrible.

 Yet hearing the stories of survivors and the joy they were able to find in life afterwards is some of God's best work. 

Because Good will always Win.
We also went to a fun park Todd went to as a young child to watch planes take off and land.
Perfect for frisbee and wrestling and laughs.


We left DC Friday afternoon and headed to Todd's aunt and uncle's house. Stay tuned for more pics of fishing and relaxing. 

Perfect trip. Perfect.

Thanks Grandma and Chips for coming along and providing lodging and making a great trip that much better.

Next time, we'll find shrimp ice cream somewhere. Promise.  ;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Auntie Again

I finally got permission to share some news:

This girl that grew up to be the best sister anyone could ever hope for

is making me an aunt again.

I'm so pumped!

(And we all know this is all about me, right?)

That's right people, (Birthday Shout Out) peeing on all those sticks finally paid off.....

And if you want to know how to scare the crizzap out of your husband one day, show him a picture of somebody else's positive pregnancy test and say "Guess Who?"

I wasn't even trying to scare him seeing as I've basically been spayed.

But seriously, all the color drained from his face and I thought I might have to get out the smelling salts. It was kind of fun.

So congratulations to The Livingston Family. Can't wait to meet your newest little one!

Oh and buckle up, because three kids age four and under is one crazy ride. 

At least that's what I've heard.....

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

I didn't grow up with cousins close to us.
I love that in this family, cousins mean automatic best friends:

I love this smile. Like really love it. I love when he's engaged and in the moment and so happy to be there. Life isn't always that way, but man oh man, when it is, this smile melts me. Every dang time.

And this almost eight year old who is full of sass and ambition and just enough attitude to drive us absolutely crazy. This girl who loves to help me in the kitchen and writes me letters every single week; yup, love her too.

And of course you can't read a post these days without little Lucy in it.
Apparently watching soccer can be more exhausting than playing it.

We're really trying to focus on the positive around here lately. Because sometimes that helps keep things in perspective. Well okay, a lot of times that helps keep things in perspective. And perspective is a good thing. We're working on embracing the good days and communicating through the rough ones. Communicating as a couple and as a family.

And above all else, we're remembering how blessed we are.

Truly, truly blessed.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Empty Womb Syndrome

Is it really mid October already.


As the weather cools and we adjust to pants and long sleeves, (guess who has a hard time with that and we watch the leaves change, I'm amazed that 2012 is dwindling down. Time literally flies. Except on the days that it crawls.

The kids continue to love school and do well. Isaac and Emma Grace both love their teachers and classes and we even got to celebrate a positive office referral for Isaac last week. I love that their school does that. He was on cloud Nine for days. 

Emma Grace entered an art contest last week and still claims that she is going to be an art teacher when she grows up because she loves art and she loves to tell people what to do. (Okay I added the last part.....but it's true.)

Owen has finished all his evaluations except for one because he got tired and told the developmental therapist he was done. And when he's done, he's done. He has finally transitioned back into school and settled into a routine that suits him well. He goes to school, comes home, eats lunch, and then plays with the dogs until the kids get home, says hi, and then plays with the dogs until it's time for dinner, and then he eats, and then he plays with the dogs until bedtime. And then he cries that the dogs can't sleep with him. Are you sensing a pattern here? And he has started social therapy at school and I love what's coming from that. He says hello and goodbye to other students now without prompting and he's so damn proud of himself when he does it. And we're pretty dang proud too. And we're still chugging away at OT one Monday at a time. Basically what I'm trying to say, knock on wood, is that we are good right now...... so I'm trying to embrace each day and build us up before the next storm hits. You know what I mean?

The weather was phenomenal yesterday so we walked, biked, scootered, and ignored homework for as long as possible, and it was crazy fun.

And I had book club last night.  I love love love book club. The six of us have been meeting now for seven years. And holy cow if those girls can't get me laughing. And we learned last night that two of us got puppies and one of us got two new kittens in the past two weeks. Is that not hysterical? And the three of us who did that all have babies who are 3 years old now? Hhhmmmmmmmmm...........empty womb syndrome?  I'm thinking, yes.

So here's Alaina with her new "baby" that she brought last night. 
So so cute!

The kittens didn't come. And I didn't know it was bring your puppy to book club night so poor Lucy stayed home and missed out on riveting, wet your pants, conversations.

I can tell she was disappointed.
Poor Little Lamb.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Gotta admit, I was scared and worried I had made a really bad decision last Saturday when the puppy was injured after just five hours in our home. (She's fine now.....)

But my m-i-l reassured me when she basically said "you have to have a dog. Not having a dog in your family is not an option and this transition may be better than waiting" until......well, you know." 

And she made me feel better about my puppy decision.

And she was right.

And the youngest is doing better with her and (dear Lord, hopefully) learning valuable lessons in gentleness and temper.

And my neighbor brought me a book about training your dog (I guess she's already worried.....) and I read that you should not let your children in the crate with your puppy. Your new puppy should have her own space to get away and feel safe.

Well crap. We already messed that one up.

Sorry Lucy. 

But you may as well get used to how things roll around here.

PS - Someday soon I'll write a post about something other than dogs. Just be thankful you're not my sister. I text her new pics of Lucy about every five seconds. I'm pretty sure she may have her phone number changed soon......