Living life one project at a time


I am a starter – not so much a completer.  Ask my husband and he’d give you one giant eye roll and say “she is not even kidding”.  Seriously,  I have all these wonderful intentions but it seems like I never have the time to complete whatever project it is.  And that annoys me so much, I can’t imagine what it’s like for my poor hubby. On top of that major flaw I have a few other whoppers, like I am a shopping addict.  Last year I tried my hand at couponing…BIG mistake.  I did very well saving but after 30 tubes of toothpaste, 20 bottles of shampoo, 15 bottles of conditioner, 10 bottles of dish soap, 25 bottles of laundry detergent, 12 tubes of deodorant, 32 boxes of tampons, 17 bags of cough drops, 50 rolls of paper towel, 10 bottles of adult cough syrup, 8 bottles of children’s cough syrup and over 100 razors I had to stop. Oh…and I purchased all that stuff inside of 5 months.  For the first time since October of 2011 we bought toilet paper this week.  Over the last 15 months I bought 1 bottle of laundry detergent and 2 boxes of tampons- that’s it…seriously.  I gave away of 90 percent of my “stockpile” and I still have enough crap to run our household for another 6 months without buying personal hygiene stuff (well, for the most part).

Between my never-quite-completing projects and my shopaholic tendencies our little house is stuffed to the gills with junk, in all types of phases, in all types of piles, all over the house.  No room is sacred. No room is spared.

Enter my very first New Years Resolution or rather our 2013 Family Motto.  I’ve never made a New Year Resolution….honestly because another of my flaws is I have no will power.  I set a goal and by the time I am half way there I’m like “Oh screw it” and scrub the whole plan.   So who wants to feel like a failure every year by nixing their resolutions by February? Alas, this year I’ve made a resolution/motto and I am darn well going to keep it.  I first stumbled across the family motto idea when I was reading this post by Slow Foods Mama. I thought what a wonderful idea and one we surely could keep…I hope. JUST kidding….we are definitely going to be keeping it. Our 2013 family motto is(mottos actually….I have a lot to work on 😉 )…..drum roll please…….

SIMPLE: simple lifestyle, simple needs, simple demands, simply simple



Our lives can be hectic, and only because we make them so.  We don’t have demanding schedules. No soccer practice, ballet or swim lessons.  No basketball, piano or hockey.  It’s just us and our whims so why is our life so much of a whirl wind?  Obviously I’m sure you have figured out why we need to save.

The goal for this year is to spend waaaayyyy more time at Bee Morse Farm, get all the junk in the house a little more under control- which means yard sale. Ugh…I shudder at the thought of putting one together.  I usually throw things in a box and take it to the Salvation Army.  But I can’t very well call myself a saver if I just ship things out the door willie nilly without trying to re-coop some of my cash.  I’m also trying my very hardest to dial down the shopping and growing our savings account into a huge, ungodly sum of money(might as well go big, right).  I also want to get in touch with my inner crafter again.  It was put on hold for way to long!  Speaking of crafting I’ve got a few Valentine’s Day pins up on my Etsy page that you can purchase.  Check it out here.

Did you make a New Year Resolution?  What is it?


1 Comment »

Soldier’s Angels

Over the Christmas season there were a lot of postings on Facebook about “Don’t forget to send a Christmas card to a Wounded Soldier”.  I did a little research and came up with a pretty negative answer unfortunately.  Because of all the hate mail and for security purposes unless you actually address your letter with a soldiers name it will be undelivered.  I tried it anyway and sure enough, about a month later I received my unopened card back :(  But upon my investigation I stumbled up the Soldier’s Angels website. The mission of Soldier’s Angels is May No Soldier Go Unloved. Their goal is to have each soldier have something to look forward to during mail call so they don’t feel forgotten.

When you sign up you will receive a name of  a soldier – they might be wounded, they might be overseas. Your responsibility is to write a letter a week and mail 2 packages a month.  I’m not going to lie….that’s a huge responsibility.  Take it from the girl who has basically ignored her blog for the last 5 months 😉  I decided to join because my sacrifice of taking the time out of my week to write a letter is so much smaller than the sacrifice they are doing on a daily basis.  I call myself a penpal but in fact my soldier doesn’t have to respond to me.  I’ve been told most do and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I was hoping to get a wounded soldier but I got someone who is deployed in the Middle East. For security purposes I can’t share his name, post or even where he is.  So far I’ve gotten out 2 letters (boo me!) and 2 packages but now that the busy holiday season is over I really am going to be a better penpal.  I am hoping that I hear back from him because it is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be to write to someone I don’t know.

I’m hoping that by sharing this you will head on over to to sign up today.

IMG_1415My official Soldier’s Angels membership card, pin and coin

1 Comment »

No more hiatus!!

I seriously can’t believe…..okay yes I can believe….that I have so slacked off on this blog.  Honestly my intention was to post at least 3 blogs a week (you know what they say about intentions). Anyway, it’s not like there hasn’t been a ton of things happening because there totally has.

  • In August Josh and I lost our 4 year old nephew to a tragic accident.  While he wasn’t in our everyday life we are still trying to get a grip on the fact that we won’t ever see his little smiling monkey face again.  Jace and Tanner would have been 2 peas in a pod – with Tanner leading the adventures, I’m sure.


Messages to Heaven – balloon release in memory of Tanner

  • September rang in Jace’s 2nd birthday.  That’s right my baby boy is officially 2 – with the attitude of a 18 year old.


One of the coolest present Jace could have asked for

  • October brought us putting the bee’s to bed for the winter for the first time ever.  A lovely couple has started the Aroostook County Beekeepers Association and we had our very first meeting in October as well.  Josh and I learned so much and we shared a lot of UH-OH looks as we learned that we are crappy first time beekeepers.  We totally didn’t know that you are supposed to treat for mites in August….too little, to late for us.  I don’t recall reading anything about treating for mites – it probably went in one eye and out the other. We put the girls to bed anyway and are hoping for the best!  Josh also celebrated his 31st birthday.

Closing Up Shop 2012

  • November was a pretty easy month.  Josh was working in Florida for Thanksgiving, a first for our family, and it was hard but you do what you hafta to do.


Christmas Card – sorry for the blah color

  • December brought with it absolute craziness!  Dominic turned 10, my brother turned 21, my sister turned 28 and my father turn….uh….older.  I can’t remember how old *eek*.  We also had Christmas parties up the wazoo, with Josh flying in for a quick trip home for Christmas.  I got the crazy notion that it would be super cool to handmake all my Christmas gifts, to both teacher and family members…..seriously, overwhelming!  I didn’t even get pictures of any of the 130 ornaments I made or of any of the woodland creatures I did as teacher gifts, however I did get one photo of the 3 crown’s I made.  *sigh*  Maybe next year I’ll start earlier – there’s an idea!


Dominic’s 10th Birthday, complete with birthday boy crown


A favorite Christmas toy – light up Rudolph nose


Christmas Day antics

Of course this is just a brief highlight of the last few months. We had a really jammed packed summer full of fun things, hiking, white water rafting, lobster feeds, late nights with friends, concerts galore, lounging by the lake, boat rides and even a trip to the coast.

summer 1

Top: Dominic looking at Mt. Katahdin

Middle: my girlfriend and I at one of the 4 concerts of the summer – Dominic playing in the wave of Sand Beach in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor

Bottom: Jace on the 4th of July, waking up all adorable and lobster headstands

summer 2

Top: White-water rafting, just after I was sucked out of the boat

Middle: Dominic, 4th of July and a random photo

Bottom: Jace and the a lunchtime craft, the boys hiking Daicey Pond, Baxter State Park, Mt. Katahdin and oops…Dom looking at Mt. Katahdin again

Summer 3

Top: Josh showing off :)

Middle: Another Mt. Katahdin photo – Jace and his Uncle Wyatt boating to Young’s Lobster Pound: Belfast, ME

Bottom: Shin Brook Falls and Bee Morse Farm’s applesauce

No Comments »

October Foodie Penpal

AHH!!!! I just realized that this post didn’t publish at the set time. Darn WordPress!!!


This month my Foodie Penpal, Kendra,  lives out west.  I can’t help but notice that she had a Trader Joe’s near her as well.  I think I might be getting jealous of everyone that has a Trader Joe’s – they have some wonderful food products.  Here are some photos of what Kendra sent me:



Pumpkin butter how I love thee!  We haven’t had a chance to try the coffee yet.  My husband is the coffee drinker of the house and he was away working when I got the box.  The card is too cute Kendra :)





Pumpkin spice tea…..need I say more :)




Jace just happened to be hovering around my legs when I was opening the box and as soon as I pulled this bag out he snatched and away he went.  It was quite the fight trying to get it back for a quick photograph.  About 30 minutes after we received the box this bag was G.O.N.E. We are popcorn lovers here – can you tell? 😉





I wasn’t thrilled when I pulled these out.  I’m not a huge fan of lentils to begin with but these chips where the next thing to go in our house.  Super tasty :)

Thanks Kendra for a lovely box!


No Comments »

September Foodie Penpal

I have been such a terrible slacker on this blog this summer :(  More on that subject later.  Here is my post on September’s Foodie Penpal.

If your new to this Foodie Penpal thing read all about it here.
This time around I got Athena.  She’s from Georgia….if I remember right.  I deleted my email from her by accident. I still can’t believe I did that :( Anyway, Athena is super efficient (so jealous).  I received my box from her September 13th – that’s 2 whole days before the ship deadline!!!  (The box I sent didn’t even see a post office until the 18th – oops)

My box was packed full of goodies- I lllooovvveee me some goodies 😀

My household is getting ready to go gluten-free/casein-free (a.k.a. gf/cf – again more on that later) and I feel really bad about slamming a volunteer goodie-getter with such a difficult task but, luckily, Athena was a bit familiar with the parameters.

Some homemade gluten-free/casein-free cocoa mix, complete with recipe

Corn nuts!!! Super hard but they satisfy that salty, crunchy craving

Tin Man Corn Snacks Nutrition Facts: Serving size 1/3 cup – Calories: 120 – Fats: 4.5g – Carbs: 20g – Protein: 3g – Sodium 70mg


Fritos Nutrition Facts: Serving size 1 oz (about 32 chips) – Calories: 160 – Fats:10g  – Carbs:15g  –  Protein:2g  – Sodium 170mg

I am officially addicted to these – and I can’t find them ANYWHERE :( They are a  UK company and I can’t even find them to buy anywhere in the United States AND I can’t even find a recipe like these. Major WHHHHAAAAAAA.

Hot Jalapeno Popcorn.  Haven’t tried this yet but seriously this has GOT to be delicious.

Seriously, who doesn’t love cornbread.

I am sipping on some of the Pumpkin Spice right now…..soooo delicious and smells amazing.

These are a new family favorite.  They are chewy with little crunchy bits in them plus they have phenomenally great flavor and texture for a gluten free product

Many thanks to Athena for putting together such a wonderful box.  There was such a diverse blend of snacks – not like the sweet heavy box I sent.  I have seriously got to get over my sweet tooth 😉 Also Athena went above and beyond her foodie penpal duties and has been sending me links to gf/cf blogs and websites.  Thanks Athena for being such a wonderful person <3

1 Comment »

Foodie Penpals

Late last month I was catching up on some of my favorite bloggers when one of them mention The Lean Green Bean and her foodie penpal program  (I forget which blogger because my brain lacks the capacity to retain things, I swear).

The Foodie Penpal program started about a year ago.  You sign up by the 4th of the month and on the 5th of the month Lindsay, the program creator, will email you the name of your penpal and their email address.  It is up to you to contact your penpal and get their mailing address, their food likes/dislikes and any allergies.  By the 15th of the month you ship out your box of goodies and wait for yours to come in the mail.  On the last day of the month you blog about it.
A few more details:

  • the person you receive as a penpal is not the person who will be mailing you food
  • The spending limit is $15 a month
  • You don’t get emailed just a name – it’s a whole spreadsheet of names.  It’s kinda confusing the first time you do it.  You find your name on the list to see who you’ve been matched up with.  You then go to the 2nd spreadsheet to find their name and their email address.  Then you email them.
  • This won’t be your forever penpal – it changes every month.
  • You can send any type of food product you want, homemade baked good, local/regional products, favorite foods you want to share, your own canned goods.
  • When you purchase things KEEP THE SEASONS IN MIND!!!  Chocolate and summer don’t go well together.  Neither does fresh produce and winter.

I had a blast doing this.  I loved receiving my package and it was fun to pick out the things to send to my penpal. Have more questions?  Click HERE to head over to the Lean Green Bean’s Foodie Penpal page.

Want to participate???

Click HERE to head over to the sign up page

August’s Box

Let me start by telling you that I’m not crazy about trying new foods.  I’m also a “pretty” person : if it doesn’t look good – chances are high I’m not going to try it. This drives Josh insane as he eats just about anything under the sun.  Lately I’ve been tired of him being annoyed with me and my won’t-try-anything-new habit so I’ve decided to put my big girl undies on and be less picky.  The Foodie Penpal program definitely is a test for me.

My very first Foodie Penpal was Lea and it was also her first time participating. When Lea emailed me to find out my food preferences I boldly answered ” whatever you want to send me.” Apparently my big girl undies were a little tight that day and cut off the circulation to my brain because I didn’t bother viewing her blog until after  I pressed the send button. Then I found out that Lea is a health nut, like a serious health nut.  Me??? Ah…… not so much. *Note to self: check out the other persons blog before you reply*   We live in Northern Maine, home of ZERO health food stores.  The people here were born and bred to eat meat and potatoes.  Generally us Northern Mainers don’t do tofu, bean curd or edamame.  This probably sounds a little like I’m demeaning her, which is so not my intention.  Lea is  waaaayyyy more healthy than I am…at the very least I’m sure she is skinnier 😉

Lea’s box to me was full of stuff from her favorite store – Trader Joe’s.  If your from Northern Maine you are probably wondering how she bought food from a clothing store. If your not from here, Trader Joe’s to us is a clothing store in the mall.  Apparently, to the rest of the nation Trader Joe’s is a health food chain store *who knew?*

Lea was kind enough to pack my box full of all sorts of healthy snacks.  I opened that box up and my stomach did the funky chicken. I thought to myself  “Oh Lord….how am I going to EAT this stuff”.  Then my big girl undies  wilted and dropped down around my ankles.  It took me a minute (or ten) to even have the courage to hike up the undies, let alone eat the treats but eat them I did (cue raucous whooping and hollering).

I wasn’t able to take a photo of my box because there was a chocolate bar that melted all over everything.  It all was one big chocolatey mess so I thought I’d just grab some product photos.

These were also melted into one great big ball of chocolate but YUM!!!!  Delicious little bits of dark chocolate covered juice from blueberries, acai, pomegranate, and cranberries.  Totally worth a try!

Lea said she loves these….but I’m going to have to disagree.  They have kind of a bland rice cakey flavor but the after taste kicks you in the teeth.  Also when you first open the bag – do it on an exhale because these STINK!

Lea packed these just for our kiddos – she is such a sweetheart :)  Kids and I love ’em! Delicious and with no artificial crap – bonus!

We haven’t broke this open yet but I love me some cornbread so I’m sure I’m not going to have a problem with it 😀

And as I mentioned previously she sent me a chocolate bar.  There was so much chocolate covering it I could read the wrapper.  Also she sent us some smushed, kinda dehydrated bananas but I haven’t been able to find a photo of them.  I was totally not into the bananas but I don’t like banana chips or any banana flavorings either so I was a little biased on that.  The kids wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole and even Josh wouldn’t try it. Maybe we aren’t as adventurous as we hoped to be, lol.

I had so much fun participating in this months Foodie Penpal.  I already have my name for this month and the brainstorming is on!


Update on Dominic’s Story

Dominic’s Story needs 26 more page views in 2 more days to reach my goal of 500 page views in 30 days. Please, please, please keep passing this story around for me:

No Comments »

Dominic’s Story Page Views

It has been almost 48 hours since I posted Dominic’s Story.  Originally I had posted on my personal Facebook account that I had set a goal of getting 100 views in 30 days to help get our story out there and spread some more awareness.  Not only did I get 100 page views but there were 100 page views in 2 HOURS!!!!  I set a new goal of 500 views in 30 days.  At the 48 hour mark we have had 392 page views and it is still climbing.  I am completely blown away by the response.  I have gotten such awesome feedback, most of them bringing tears to my eyes.

Please help me spread awareness by sharing this story with anyone and everyone.  Thanks for helping!


No Comments »

Dominic’s Story

For those of you that have read the About Me section you know that my oldest son, Dominic, is autistic.  He was diagnosed when he was 4 months shy of 4 years old…..a little later than I wanted but at least he was finally diagnosed.  A fellow “autism mom”  ( as I like to call us) told my mom that she was giving a seminar to teachers on how to better understand/help autism children when one teacher approached her and asked “What is autism?”  Um, excuse me?!?!?!  How, how, how!!! could a TEACHER not know the basic fundamentals of autism?!?!?! Unbelievable. This story obviously touched a nerve so I really feel the need to share Dominic’s (and my) story to help raise awareness. It’s a doozy of a post and I am so, so, so grateful that you will take the time to read it.  If you can gain some knowledge or better yet, help some other autism mom/dad/family I have done what I set out to do.

Definition of autism: Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills. Every autistic individual is different, just like a snow flake :)  There is a saying in the autism community: if you know one autistic individual, you know one autistic individual.  Just because they all have social/communication problems doesn’t mean they are going to present the same way, eg. one child might not speak, at all, their whole life, while another might learn to speak at 4.  It is so crucial to diagnosing autism early – the earlier you start therapy the easier the road to “typical” will be.

When I was pregnant I though about autism a lot, I mean bare minimum of once a day.  There was no purpose for it as I knew only one kid, Dustin, who had autism when I was growing up and basically I only knew him through church.  I didn’t have any friends who had autistic children – in fact among my group of friends I am the only one with an autistic child still to this day, an amazing fact as 1 in 77 children have autism in the state of Maine               (national average is 1 in 88 children).     Anyway, back to the pregnancy thing.  I literally would see the word float around in my head and I frequently thought about Dustin.  At the time I had no idea why – this was 10 years ago, there was no autism awareness in the media. I never told anyone about it, I mean what would I say… I think about autism but have no reason for it?  Looking back I definitely wish I had, at least when we finally did get the diagnosis I wouldn’t have been the only one prepared.

I was 20 years old when Dominic was born.  He was perfect. I had a ridiculously easy pregnancy and a pretty smooth delivery.  Looking back there was a lot of things that were “off” enough that if you strung them together you could see clearly that something was a little different with him.  He didn’t show the stereotypical “symptoms” that have plagued the autism community, you know those “symptoms” like an autistic person doesn’t want to be held/touched, doesn’t show affection, ect.  My little Dommie-do loved to be held – too much sometimes, I swear I never got a chore done until he was walking.  He was super affection and loved to give and get kisses. My biggest grip with my infant: he NEVER slept…, never.  He would sleep maybe 6 hours  a night and take a single 2 hour nap during the day and by the time he was 18 months he cut out naps altogether. Turns out that for some reason autistic people just don’t need/require/want a lot of sleep.  To this day he will fall asleep around 9/10 p.m. and wake up at 4:30 am – and he’s up for the day, going like no tomorrow all day long.  When Dom was 3 months old we moved to a new apartment.  He loved to watch things go in circles so we stuck him under a ceiling fan – he was there 2 hours, watching it go round in a circle,  wide awake.  How many 3 month infants do you know that you could stick under a fan for 2 hours with no people interaction?  I don’t have a clue why that didn’t strike me as odd, in fact I was rather pleased with it.

As an infant Dominic hit the important milestones on time.  He crawled at exactly 6 months and started walking 4 days before his  first birthday.  He was a big guy, always at least at the 95th percentile for height,weight, head size and the combination of height/weight.  To this day he’s still a monster- at 9 1/2 years old he wears a size 7 men’s shoe, weighs 100 pounds and is just a hair shy of 5 feet tall.  BUT he never, ever talked.  Of course he would make noises but he wouldn’t even attempt sounding out a word. He made no eye contact and loved to flap his hands.  He like laying down on the floor and running trucks 2 inches from his face so he could concentrate on the wheels turning in front of his eyes.  This is called self-stimming (self-stimulation).  He liked to drop things in front of his eyes; crayons, cars, blocks, any object would do, and concentrate only on the ones falling in front of his eyes.  And he was a jumping bean….bounce, bounce, bounce EVERYWHERE, just like a Tigger.   By the time he was 2 if you let him, he would go the whole day without coming to you for anything other than food/drink.  He didn’t care if he was in a soggy diaper, have snot running down his face or if he was naked. He was so indifferent to everything – he could take it or leave it, nothing really mattered to him, including me.  When I dropped him off at the sitters or daycare he rarely cared if I stayed or left.  Food was a HUGE issue with him.  He only ate white stuff for the most part: mashed potatoes, pancakes, etc and he would change it at the drop of a hat.  I cooked spaghetti (with sauce) for supper one night, one of his favorite meals.  He scarfed it right up. Literally the next day for lunch he refused the leftovers and it was years before I could get him to eat spaghetti again.

At his 2 year well child visit I talked to Dom’s pediatrician, we’ll call her Dr. X, about how concerned I was that he wasn’t talking. She literally told me, word for word, “Don’t worry about it.  He’s a boy, boys develop slower”. While I’m aware that boys do in fact develop slower, my blood boils every time I think about it, why didn’t she ask any further questions?  Just one or 2 questions answered the wrong way and there would have definitely been red flags.   As a 2 year old Dominic was a great little boy.  Although he didn’t “play” with other children he didn’t mind being in the same room as them.  I put play in quotes because Dominic didn’t know how to play properly, he would only self-stim. Later, his therapists would teach him how to play appropriately.

At 3 he still wasn’t talking. Bonus side to autism though is he never had the terrible 2 or 3’s – just one even tempered little guy.  Just before his 3 year old well child visit I looked up autism online.  There was 13 symptoms on this particular website and Dominic displayed 9 of them.  This sealed the deal for me – he was autistic.  I basically came home from work that day and said “Dominic is autistic”.  There was a lot of “No he isn’t” and “Yes he is”.  I basically dumped what I knew already in my heart right onto my family with no warning.  Hindsight I feel bad about how that went down.  My mom was convinced that he had a hear problem and he wasn’t autistic.

The year he was 3 was hell.  After hearing, again, that just because my son wasn’t speaking not to worry because, after all, he’s a boy and boy’s develop slower, I grew some *ahem* guts and told Dr. X  that we need to start looking into getting him diagnosed (and then we got a new pediatrician). First lesson I learned on this long, often times lonely road: DON”T BACK DOWN!!!!! Never, ever, NEVER let a doctor talk you out of your concerns.  YOU know your child inside out and backwards. This started the long, arduous journey of getting my son diagnosed.  I was so overwhelmed, where did we start???? Dr. X was only so kind enough to schedule a hearing evaluation (a.k.a. eval).  But at least that was a step in the right direction.  Getting evals scheduled is next to impossible.  We are very, very, very rural here and the waiting list are literally years long.

  • So hearing is our first step – Aural Rehabilitation Services, 45 miles away, and they couldn’t get conclusive results with the first round of testing because Dominic didn’t know how to respond.  When they put the headphones on and asked him “when you hear the beep point to that ear”.  Hi….number 1 he’s THREE! and couldn’t understand those directions if he wanted to and number 2 he’s not listening to you because he’s self-stimming!!!! So yes, epic failure first time around.  We had to wait another month to do the 2nd round because we had to wait for another technician’s schedule to open up for a different type of hearing test.  Now what???  That was all my doctor set up for him.  This was my second lesson: there aren’t very many people in the healthcare industry who are willing to go the extra mile for you and get you information.  You need to do all the leg work yourself.  It is so important that you do whatever it is you need to do to dig up the required information.  After asking a million and ten people I finally found out about Child Development Services (CDS).  This agency was my ticket to success and without them we would be stuck back in the land of no talking, no diagnosis, the whole nine yards.  I’m not even remotely embellishing that.  CDS set up our next round of evals and coordinated all of our services.
  • So….next stop, OT, a.k.a. Occupation Therapy.  After the eval to see where we needed to start, Dominic had weekly 1 hour sessions.  Here Dominic was taught how to hold utensils: be them drawing, eating or cutting and they worked on proprioception  (the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement).  The theory is that he basically didn’t feel like all his body parts are connected….like maybe his leg is floating away to space… he would bounce to help compress the joints to feel more connected.  We actually did exercises with a surgical scrub brush and joint compressions way back in the beginning but we have since bought a mini trampoline and I make him jump on that instead.  We also purchased a weighted blanket that he sleeps with every night.  He sleeps with an extra 30 pounds of weight on him every night.
  • Then came speech therapy……that eval took forever to get…..4 months.  There is a serious shortage of speech therapist up here in Northern Maine.  We finally got one but she was 8 months pregnant and was getting ready to take a year hiatus :(  Great for her- big bummer for us.   Even though it took so long to get the original speech therapist were were able to get right in with another speech lady once the first went on maternity leave, whom we dearly, dearly love  (downside, Suzie was 60 minutes away from us).  This was also once a week for 1 hour.

After all those evaluations we still didn’t have an actual diagnosis for Dominic.  He got these services because he  qualified without the diagnosis of autism.  To get into the stuff he really, really needed we had to get an official diagnosis.  To get the Psych Eval it was a 8 months waiting list but once we finally got it everything opened right up for him.  He started Developmental Therapy (D.T.) and Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy (A.B.A.) right away.  D.T. is basically a small school type setting and works on his developmental skills such as learning colors, days of the week, counting – all that pre-school type of stuff. A.B.A. – this therapy is INTENSE!  Any A.B.A. therapist needs to be inducted into sainthood A.S.A.P.  The therapist sets a schedule of things to work on – let’s say the alphabet, counting to 10, 5  different colors, and teaching him that HIS name is Dominic.  Each topic has a certain time frame ( say 2 minutes).  They repeat it over, and over, and over….and over, and over, and over.  A.B.A. is basically all about repetition, similar to muscle memory. You keep repeating it and eventually it will sink in.  I don’t know how anyone can go to work everyday knowing that they will be counting to 5 about a million times in one day – just thinking about it makes me a tiny bit insane.  Dominic was taught basically everything a child under 5 should know through this particular therapy.  They taught him his name, colors, alphabet, how to play appropriately, shapes, animals, POTTY training….the list goes on and on.    I can’t stress to you how much teaching all these therapists had to put in to Dominic.  Do me a favor and think of a “typical” 3 year old – think of how they play with dolls or trucks, how they communicate, how they are busy little bodies exploring everything.  Dominic literally had to be taught how to do all of this.  He was 5 when he was finally able to get out of diapers and 5 1/2 before he called me Mom.  I can’t even begin to tell you how I felt the first time he called me mom – I still tear up thinking about it.  To teach him other family/friends names we made flash cards out of photo and would spend hours working on them with him.

From August of 2006 until September 2008 Dominic had Developmental Therapy 3 hours a day, 5 days a week; Applied Behavioral Analysis 3 hours a day, 5 days a week; Speech Therapy 1 hour a week and Occupation Therapy for 1 hour a week = 32 hours of therapy a week from the time he was 3 1/2 years old!  Kinda unbelievable isn’t it.

First ever school photo .  Love this kid so much

This little boy of mine is so charismatic.  Adults love him, kids love him.  There is just something about my Dominic that draws people too him like a moth to a flame and with every year that passes more people jump on the I-Love-Dominic-bandwagon.   It wasn’t always so apparent to me though. I grew up a social butterfly – school meant nothing more to me than catching up with friends. Just before school started I really started to worry that Dominic would never have any friends, I actually cried about it.  In 3 weeks time all the kids in his class were fighting over who got to sit next to Dominic during lunch.  *Whew*  Now everywhere we go I hear little voices go “Dominic! Over here! Hi!!!” or adults ask him for a hug – he’s a lover of hugs 😀  He still doesn’t know most of the kids names and 90% of the time I have to remind him to say hi back….poor kids.  It continually amazes me how accepting everyone is of Dom, especially the young kids that know something isn’t quite right with him but they love him anyway.

He went into pre-school a year later than your typical child but, obviously, the wait was worth it.  Ever since he started school Dominic has had a one on one aide.  When he first started school he wasn’t allowed to go anywhere by himself, simply because he’d get side tracked and you wouldn’t see him again for hours.  Now he has graduated and he comes into school, goes to recess and does lunch line all by himself.  Lunch line was tricky because he usually wants something other than what he ordered when he gets up there, lol.  Our elementary school has been amazing. I’ve only had a few bumps in the road with them and for the most part if I have an issue it’s gets corrected right away.  There are so many parents with special needs children who say they have had terrible experiences with their schools.  I don’t know why but we have definitely been blessed with a cooperative and friendly staff.  I’m sure it helps that everyone loves Dominic to pieces.

Phew!  I know this is long.  I’m wrapping it up I promise.  I just want to bring up one more thing and then I’m done.

The autism “mascot” is a  puzzle piece.   Meanings for the autism awareness puzzle piece are interpreted differently by different people. To some, the symbol is simply a reflection of the idea that autism spectrum disorders are puzzles that have not yet been solved. To others, the autism puzzle piece, reflects that children who have autism are themselves pieces of the puzzle that do not fit in.

Did you know that National Autism Awareness Month is April?  For the last 10 years the Autism Society of Maine  puts on a Walk for Autism.  We have participated for a few years and this year we raised over $900!!!  Well over our $500 goal :)

(Dominic sporting a blue mohawk for his Walk for Autism)

(This year’s Team Dominic in the Walk for Autism)

And there is actually a World Autism Awareness Day – April 2.  For the past 3 years Autism Speaks has been busy working on the Light It Up Blue campaign.  On April 2nd everyone is encouraged to Light It Up Blue to show their support for autism to help shine a light on autism. For the past 2 years we have participated in this event here at the Morse household but we don’t stop on April 3rd;  we light it up blue year round.

Showing our love and support and raising awareness through our local newspaper

Even though we have had lots of therapy and support Dominic is still not mainstream in school.  He still requires an aide when he is in the classroom and he gets pulled out to go to the Special Ed room during certain subjects (such as math and reading).  Although his skills aren’t up to par with his peers, Josh and I are extremely, incredibly proud of this boy, after all if he wasn’t willing to do the work, he wouldn’t be where he is today.  This summer I have taken to Facebooking Dom’s speech therapist his “Dominic-isms” that he has been cracking us up with.  His speech and sentence structure has come so far it’s unbelievable.  I am eternally grateful for all of his therapist and teachers and I can never say thank you enough.  I love them as much as they love Dom :)

Today Dominic is an amazing big brother to Jace. In fact he’s more concerned with Jace’s safety than of his own.  I was majorly concerned the whole time I was pregnant with Jace about autism but after the first week he was born I knew without a doubt in the world that Jace wasn’t autistic.  Honestly, when J.J. was first born it took me a while to get over the mad I felt at all the parents who had interaction with my infant Dominic for not knowing something was wrong with him.  How did my mom not notice?? She had 4 typical children! Why didn’t his any of his sitters say “I’m concerned about Dominic” ( *sigh* we went through a lot of sitters)?  Baby Jace was so alert and wanted to know everything that was going on around him, even though he could only see a foot in front of his face.  He responded to noises almost instantly and recognized Josh or I by our voices.  As an infant, Dominic did none of these things.  I really wish someone would have had the nerve enough to step up to me and say “I think Dominic might need some help”.

In this day and age autism is running rampant all over our country.  A few weeks ago I took J.J. in for a well child visit and upon check-in they handed me an autism check list. Did my child flap his hands? Does he make eye contact? etc, etc, etc.  I cried and cried and cried – right there in the waiting room.  This little checklist is going to get so many children the help they need in a timely manner.  That does my heart so much good 😀

I just want to say thank you, again, for reading our story. There is so much more to it but this was getting long and rambly enough.  Questions or comments are always, always welcome – no question is too stupid. I love hearing other autism families successes and even failures.  We all can benefit from sharing.



The Honey Bees are here!

Yay for the bees finally getting to their *almost* final destination :)  BUT

1.) it’s very humid, overcast and showery out *big frowny face* which means I can’t hive them today, unless I want to end up with I’m sure a lot of stings.  Honey bees get very cranky in this exact weather so we’re gonna wait a bit.

2.)  I’m a bloomin’ moron.  As of 6 a.m. this morning I had my hives most of the way painted and that’s it.  No sugar syrup, no foundation in the frames. I still have to flip the hives upside down and paint the bottom.

In my defense I only found out that bees were shipped Friday late yesterday afternoon, while it was already rainy so there was nothing I could do about the painting  as my hives are outside sitting in my driveway with no shelter.  My bee supplier told me they would notify me when they shipped my bees but they were a little late getting to me :(   But okay Jacquelyn Marie, resident genius, why didn’t you get your foundations and sugar syrup ready last night???????  Million dollar question right there.  I completely spaced and forgot about these important steps until the phone rang at 6 o’clock this morning and the post office told Josh that the bees were in.  Then……..*light bulb* I need to do foundations (16 to be exact), make sugar syrup, sanitize my canning jars to store my sugar syrup in and actually be to work on time.  *sigh* I called my boss, who happens to be my dad, and told him I might be a little late this morning.  This is where working for family has it’s advantages 😀

So far I’ve got 8 of the 16 foundations done, sugar syrup made and canning jars sanitizing as I type – here’s a shout out to my dishwasher that has a sanitizing button.  Dishwasher, I love you <3

Even though I’m ill prepared and the weather is *raspberry*, a.k.a. crap, I’m still super excited to have the bees here.  Now we sit and wait for the weather to clear, which should be today, and get my little busy bees installed into their new homes.  I hope they love it there and stay forever (no swarming for you bees!)

Photos and POTENTIALLY a video of me installing them to come – depending on how much swearing is involved :)