Autism Rally in the Fort

AutismFortRallyAs a parent of an adult son on the spectrum, nothing brings me MORE joy than hooping and helping raise autism awareness!

So, I’m supporting local efforts this coming Monday, April 27th, at the Autism Rally in the Fort. The event will be at Panther Island Pavilion from 4-7pm. This gathering will celebrate and benefit the wonderful work being done at Hope Center 4 Autism for local children affected by autism spectrum disorders.

Special thanks to Hondo, host of Impact Texas, a public affairs show for Cumulus Media Dallas, for this informative Facebook video interview with Mayor Betsy Price! Watch it to learn more. Links and event details are also on my CALENDAR.

Just looks for my hoop and my Jeep! Oh, and there will be more Jeeps there from Chisholm Trail Jeep Club, including The Au-Some Crawler!

My hoop, some Jeeps and lots of people there supporting autism awareness…combined with music and fun! What a great time it will be. I hope to see you there!

aRound the Kitchen – Omelette Tips

aRoundKitchen 1I love to cook, but over the years, I don’t do it as much as in years past. My kids are grown and it’s just my hubby and I. Learning to cook for two has been hard for me and when I find something I love, I tend to make it about once a week. This is one of those things. It’s an Omelette-Frittata thing that is pretty yummy and super easy with the omelette tips below!

Just watch the video. No need for a list of ingredients. You can add anything you like including other veggies and cheese. For this one, I simply used spinach and Canadian bacon. I also spray PAM on my skillet before starting.

 

 

I learned the tip about tilting the skillet while watching a cook in the Bahamas at the omelette station during our daily buffet breakfasts. When I got home, I tried it and was very pleased. The tip works even if you are making a traditional “quick” omelette, and the part about cooking your ingredients in the skillet before adding the eggs is important, too.

I also don’t cook this TOO quick…and I stand there, tending to it with my silicon spatula the entire time. You can do this over a higher heat, but be ready to move quickly, as it will cook fast since you are tilting and getting all the egg exposed to the skillet. If you start with a high heat, then lower it and move quick, it won’t get too golden brown…so adjust that to your preference. Cooking it longer, as here, makes it almost like a quiche without the crust!  No need to bake in the oven, either. Serve up with fruit and it’s a great brunch meal on Sunday!

These tips may be no news to some of you, but I had never done them when cooking eggs before. Learning something new brings me JOY…what can I say?! As a side note…notice the skillet is ROUND, after all…just pointing that out…but I digress.

Hope you enjoy! Let me know if you try this and how it turned out. Do you have other fave ingredients you like to add to your omelette or frittata? I’m always up for new ideas!

 

 

Be Aware of Autism

ProgtammingHopePosterAs I mentioned in my LAST post…it IS April, Autism Awareness month. I also promised a few special posts. This one includes a new video I am so happy to share with all of you.

You can go back and read any of the writings about my son, Kyle, in the archives of this blog. Just look over to the side or below for a menu of blog topics and click on AUTISM. Catch up a bit, if you haven’t already done so, that would be helpful. Even if you just read THIS ONE. You can also find that link near the autism ribbon under the archives list. It gives a good overview of our story.

Fast forward to today. Kyle, at age 26, is working at nonPareil Institute. The movie, Programming Hope, a documentary film about nP, finally premiered back in February. nonPareil is also getting closer to expanding and opening a second location in Houston! It’s an exciting time. They still need lots of support to make future growth possible, but they are working hard on all this. Please share this news and this story with everyone…we really need the word out there so everyone can be aware of autism in a future tense. It’s a business story as much as it’s an autism story. Anyone can benefit from hearing what is being done now and what’s on the horizon.

In February, I had the pleasure of hearing first hand, from several folks who were at a recent Houston open house meeting, about my son’s “speech” which he made during that event. You see, he was asked to attend with Dan Selec and Gary Moore, the founders of nP…and that alone, was pretty exciting! What many may not realize, was that Kyle actually was pretty nervous in the days leading up to traveling down there. He was going all by himself on a plane, since Dan and Gary were already down there attending an earlier event the night before. To Kyle, THIS trip was a big deal! He had flown before, but never alone. Having to navigate getting to and from places for the first time is always a topic of stress…add to that flying, and he just needed some reassurance. We discussed this by phone before he left. That’s typically how our relationship flows now that he’s an adult. He simply needs a little extra support and guidance, and we are his sounding board to help him make wise decisions…and of course, learn from his mistakes, which still can crop up.

After the Houston event was over I heard on Facebook about how well things went…he even posted wonderful pictures and updates during his short trip. Eventually, within a day or so, there were pictures posted on nonPareil – Houston’s Facebook page…and I was thrilled to learn that the documentary folks were down there, too, getting some final footage for the film…and luckily, Kyle’s speech was captured!

This makes us SO happy. He’s done something like this before, given a wonderful, moving testimony and we missed almost all of it. It was the evening of the final marching band competition his senior year of high school. Both my husband and I were busy doing band parent stuff, and I walked into the band hall at the tail end, heard his closing words, only to see kids and parents in tears and then applause. My husband missed it completely. Unfortunately, there was no good recording of it by anyone. We heard so much about it, though. We knew then that Kyle really had learned a sense of gratitude and that he valued his friends…and that he felt safe in band…and he really was worried about his future. It was scary to think he was going to leave his comfort behind after graduation, but we remained optimistic. As expected, college was not the right fit for him, nor was working in food service. Neither made him happy or feel successful. Kyle learned to speak his emotions very well thanks to all the counseling and speech therapy we did with him through the years . He was taught to use his words once he gained a sufficient amount of them in his repertoire . Outbursts were not appropriate, not tolerated and we taught him other ways to let go of what he was feeling. Years later, what you see here is the pay off. I never dreamed it would happen like this in a million years. Kids grow up. They learn what they are taught, over and over and over again. This is proof.

I decided to share this new video, which includes my son’s speech at that open house in Houston, in the hope that it helps those parents that are struggling right now. Our journey was long…and I cried a lot…and we were very scared…but we just kept doing the best we knew how to do. I simply can’t thank both Dan and Gary enough for helping to create this moment, now…and for believing in my son…and a big thank you to Jack Creamer, the director of Programming Hope, for sharing that meaningful film clip and the other pictures with me.

I want all of you reading this to take a moment and please watch…and share it with anyone who might need to hope and inspiration…

 

 

Autism Awareness is more than statistics. Be aware of what is possible. Know that a great future can and will happen. Children grow up and there are people out there right now working very hard to make sure training programs and jobs will be available to individuals on the autism spectrum. Stay aware and keep learning about it…because time will pass in the blink of an eye!

Years ago, we had to forget our fear and just take it one day at a time. It ends up that it’s been a wild ride, but a great lesson to share…life will take you places that you can’t even realize. You’ll meet people through the years that will help connect the dots. So don’t sweat it so much right now while the kids are little…just enjoy them…smile more often…lighten up! Teach them to be kind..teach them love. Teach them right from wrong as best as you can.

Almost 6 years ago, our son was the first student in a program we knew nothing about…but we took a leap of faith. Meeting someone randomly led this to happen…it wasn’t planned and we were not looking for it.

So, my message about autism is this:

You just never know! Keep your focus on the love…the consistency…and laugh…don’t forget to laugh. I think I mentioned that twice. It’s worth repeating. Build your village of support…the right people are all out there, walking around each day…you’ll know when you meet them…and the village grows as your child grows up, with each new experience. SO, make sure your children have a have a TON of experiences…both good and bad, because there’s something to be taken away and learned from each of them along the way.

Things have a way of falling into place…worry and fear just make the journey more difficult, so surrender to faith.

aRound Autism Inspiration

If there’s one thing I am sure of, it’s my purpose on this earth…and you’ll be surprised to learn, it’s not teaching hoopdance. No, I have felt it in my heart even before I picked up a hoop.

Kyle

My mission while I’m still here, while I still have a chance to reach out, capture the eyes and ears of people who’ll listen, is to share a positive, hopeful message about raising a child on the autism spectrum. I strive to be a beacon of light for autism inspiration.

I get so busy in this hoop business that I do not talk about raising my children as much as I probably could, although I do from time to time. However, each April, I am reminded about what I need to do. This month is no different, and I have been preparing over the last few months…I am planning lots of goodness and hopeful, inspiring stories so please visit often to read my latest writings. In addition, I’ll be posting pictures and updates to my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and uploading new video content to my YouTube channel. My personal Facebook album of my son’s journey over the last few years is a great place to start learning why I am so very passionate about helping parents stay joyful in a storm.

KYLE Programming Hope

Just this year so far, we have experienced a great deal of hope and joy surrounding our youngest son, Kyle. If you are someone who’s been following our story for awhile, then you know about the documentary, Programming Hope, from my earlier posts. Just a few weeks ago, in February, the movie about nonPareil Institute premiered! It’s been amazing to see the journey documented in such a powerful medium. From the beginning, when my son was the first “test” student, until today, where he’s an instructor teaching other adults on the spectrum…this is a blessing that we never dreamed as possible back when Kyle was 3 years old, I assure you.

 

 

Tomorrow, April 2nd, is Autism Awareness Day. Get really inspired by taking a VIRTUAL TOUR of NonPareil Institute via Tivamo…and watch this recent little video showing what is possible for the future of autism in the world…video games and apps…putting autism to work is what nP is all about…well, that and a living true mission of love blended in a technology driven society.

I am truly grateful and simply have to share with everyone the message that autism does not mean THE END. It is a beautiful BEGINNING if you approach it with the right mindset and an open heart, willing to take risks, chances and believe that there is goodness out there…the right connections will happen and change will take place…dreams CAN and will rise…and so will JOY!

Kyle 23 - Copy

Remember, about 24 years ago, we just got Kyle’s diagnosis…moderate-to-severe autism. I never thought any of THIS was possible back then. I had such a hopeless outlook. If things can change for us over the years, then it is possible for ANYONE…I look forward to sharing more and more….

 

31st Anniversary aRound JOY

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I didn’t always hoop. In fact,  I never even touched a hoop until I was 47 years old. Nevertheless, I have had abundant joy around me. With each passing year, each holiday, each birthday, each anniversary, each event, I reflect with more clarity. There is joy in my life. It’s a simple fact. Joy is there for the taking when we open our eyes.

After 31 years of marriage, I can REALLY see the joy everywhere in my life. Where it was hiding, how I tried to disguise it, when I let it slip away, who I felt it most with, what brought it around me the most and when I decided to let it take over. Joy became the most key element at some point and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

 

So, did the hoop have anything to do with this? Considering that I discovered hooping 23 years into my marriage, I can truthfully say “no”…I had lots of joy before I ever picked up a hoop. I think accepting the fact that I WAS around so much joy and being grateful actually allowed me to have my eyes more open to opportunities for more joy. Yes, you read that correctly. Joy led me to the hoop.

At some point after my youngest son graduated from high school, I just felt it was time to to not let the journey of “who I want to be” suddenly end. I knew feelings that were no where near joy. I had already experienced loss and many disappointments. So I decided to begin listening to those little happy feelings more deeply… and I would see what resonated with me most. What did I get a true sense of joy doing? That was how identified with hooping and knew I had to give it more than just a passing try. Sure glad I stuck with it. Did I have to seek outside my comfort zone, my family life and the day-to-day normalcy to embrace the hoop? Absolutely. Sometimes joy has a pull on your heart so strong. I knew this was something that would make me better in the long run, for my health and for my husband. It’s been a real blessing.

As I take a peek back into the past 31 years, however, I can say without question that I wasn’t always seeing the joy in each day. Marriage is always a work in progress. Raising children is THE HARDEST JOB in the world. I remember not being very happy on many days. Somehow, we made it through. Seeing the boys grow into real people, having their own way of doing things, being interesting individuals, THAT was when the bigger joy started happening. We taught them good morals and to care about others. We’ve accepted that it’s those two qualities that are the most important. I’m proud to keep modeling this to my family with my business. Our sons may be grown, but they still look at what we do and can learn by example. Seeing your grown children become successful is such a gift and joy! When you know they had to really struggle with ADHD and autism to get where they are in life, yet now are happy, productive adults, though? That makes the joy even sweeter, let me tell you!

DONEinLOVE

 

As for my husband and I, being a couple again, having time for each other…THAT brings me the most joy. The hoop helps me move and stay vital, so I can continue to be active in my life. I want to still FEEL younger, have that youthful, playful spirit well into our 40th and 50th years of marriage…and thankfully, hooping will allow that.  How do I know this? Well, I have students who are a walking testimony, hooping in retirement brings them such joy! I’m watching and learning, to be sure!