Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday JD!

Today my little boy turned 4! And with his busy birthday behind us, I'm a little sad that the years are going by so fast. We had such a wonderful day today. We went to SeaWorld and JD had the best time. We started out in Shamu's Happy Harbor and made our way through the entire park. He even went on the kids roller coaster and LOVED it... looks like he does take after mommy and daddy!

This was one of the best days of my life. As I sat there and watched his little face light up during the shows today, it just really hit me how much he's changed my life. When we got to the park today we immediately went to the water play area. And right away I noticed another little boy with special needs. He was with his grandma, who was helping him walk through the splash pad even though she was fully-clothed. Although you couldn't tell by his facial expressions, he loved the water and she loved helping him experience it just like any other child. JD was running around like a crazy man and I started a conversation with her and her grandson. I found out that he was also on the autism spectrum, however much more severe than JD. If there's one thing about having a special needs child, it's that you're automatically accepted into this special tight-knit group. It's like we just have this special bond with each other. 

JD has made me a better mom and a better person. I've never met anyone as loving and sweet as that little boy and each day he amazes me more and more. Tonight we celebrated with his neighborhood friends and his two cousins. He wasn't interested in the cake (won't even eat a bite) but he did blow out the candles and was really excited about opening his gifts. Little does he know that he's one of the three best gifts I was ever given. :)

Happy Birthday Jason Trouble Graham!! I love you!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Back to Dinosaur World!

Today I decided to take the boys to Dinosaur World - which I personally think is hidden gem in Orlando theme parks. It's about an hour down I-4, but well worth the drive considering the price of admission is only $15 for adults, and $12 for kids 3 and up. The place is awesome - it's filled with HUGE dinosaurs hidden along a three-lined trails, two great kid playgrounds, a fossil dig where kids can take home the treasures they find, and a museum complete with moving dinos. Oh and I forgot to mention the MASSIVE shop with more dinosaur toys than you could ever imagine. My boys couldn't be happier there and it doesn't break the bank which makes me happy.

The thing I love most about Dinosaur World is the chill factor. It's just basically a wide open park. The boys can run around, there are no lines, no real "rules", and nothing to break. They run between the dinosaur trail and the two parks complete with dinos and dino skeletons to climb on. 

There's picnic tables all around the park, so you can just relax any time you need to and feed the kids and unlike a lot of parks they let you bring in your own food and drinks because there's only vending machines on-site. 

With two little ones with short attention spans, it's great. You can stay for two or three hours and feel like you got your money's worth. This time we bought year passes ($30 per adult, $25 for kids 3+... can't beat that!) and I'm sure we'll be back quite often. 

Here's some pics from our day! What a fun time!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lovin' This!!!

I'm super excited because life-long friend Jenny emailed me yesterday to let me know that a Stella and Dot, a company that sells super-cute jewelry and bags, is selling a bracelet for Autism Awareness month starting on April 1st!! 20% of the proceeds will go to Autism Speaks and it's a cute way to show your autism spirit even at work! They're $39 and you have to purchase them through a Stella and Dot vendor. If you're interested in getting one, let me know - Jenny is taking orders from all my friends and family! I'm SUPER excited!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Autism Awareness Month is Coming Up!

With Autism Awareness month coming up in April, I've been doing a lot of preparations! Last year I gave out personalized greeting cards with autism lapel pins to all of my friends and family. This year I found an adorable idea on Pinterest, puzzle shaped cookies! I asked my good friends at Cookie Cousins to bake me up 600 mini-cookies, enough for 100 bags, and I'm buying the labels off Etsy. I'm super excited to see how they turn out! Be on the lookout for pictures later this month! Here's the inspiration:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Silly Monkey!

Almost every night I put JD to bed and we have a very strict routine... we sit in the rocking chair and read one book (usually the same one every night), then JD gets up, turns off the lights, and comes back to to rock while I sing him songs. We always start off with Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer, move through Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town, then we start back into the classics, Twinkle, Twinkle, You Are My Sunshine, and Rockabye Baby (which in our case is Rockabye JD). The other night I was trying to calculate how many times I've sang those songs since the kids were born.... 365 days per song, per kid, multiply that by how old they are and....ok, I'm not a math person, but it's A LOT.

JD usually just listens to me sing, it's rare that he wants to sing along. But recently he learned a song in class that he LOVES called 5 Silly Monkeys. At first I couldn't understand him, other than the first line of "5 silly monkeys swingin' on a tree" so I googled the words and up it came. It's such a cute little song and I can see why he loves it so much. But what makes my heart melt is listening to him sing it to me before bed. It always brings me back to the days when he couldn't talk. Music was one of the first things that he really gravitated to and I feel like it's opened up a world to him where he can not only learn new things, but express his feelings. Music is safe to him, it's repetitive, it's predictable. That's why he loves for me to sing the exact same songs every night. It's a controlled piece of his day - he knows exactly what to expect and I know it soothes him to hear the words flow as we rock. 

I'm really thankful for music and for the things it's done for JD. Singing before bedtime has become such a big part of my life that I really hope he never wants me to stop. :)

5 Silly Monkeys

5 Silly Monkeys Swinging on a Tree
Teasing Mr. Alligator...
"Can't Catch Me!" 

Along Came Mr. Alligator
Quiet as Can Be
and... SNAP!
the Monkey Right out of the Tree!