Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As we think back on 2013..... 2014 will be different .....

So many wonderful moments in 2013..... many of which I've posted about here on my blog and don't need to be repeated. Also, some heartbreaking moments and reliving of past heartbreaks.

2014 is looking to be an inspirational, amazing and INCREDIBLE year!

Happy New Year's Eve (and New Years!) to you all!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's nearly Christmas!!

Ok - so Christmas is still like 6 weeks away (from today.... YIKES!) but for me that means "Oh my goodness. I have to get my cards ready, get the baking started, buy gifts and start wrapping them, get the house decorated, etc!" However, what's already happened in the name of Christmas is heart-warming.....

So, the boys and I went out to the mall over the weekend to get some much needed winter clothing and jeans for Holden and for Ashton, it was just an experience to get out and walk around a new place (a mall we'd never been to). We saw Santa Claus, and at my boys' ages, 14 and 11, I thought nothing of it. As we walked past where Santa Claus was sitting, Ashton waved at Santa Claus and kind of started walking in that direction. I told him that if Santa Claus was still sitting there on our way back through, that I'd let him stop and say hi. Well, Santa Claus wasn't there and that was that.

The boys and I then went to a different mall on Monday and lo and behold, Santa Claus was there! Ashton got really excited and wanted to talk to Santa Claus. As there was no line and no one in visiting with Santa, I told him to go ahead. He happily walked over to Santa Claus and when Santa Claus asked him what he wanted for Christmas, I wasn't surprised by Ashton's response.

"I want Marc to come home for Christmas and to go get donuts!"

I will admit to a small giggle for the donuts comment; the boy loves himself some donuts! Especially O'doodleDoos! I'm also not ashamed to admit a few tears at Ashton wanting Marc home for Christmas, though it's not surprising that's what his response was. I explained to Santa Claus that Ashton has Autism and that Marc is his super cool best friend who is away at college. When Santa Claus asked "where does Marc go to college?" Ashton quickly responded "Oh! Georgia Tech! He's a Yellowjacket!" Santa Claus then told Ashton "I bet that Marc will be home before I even get to your house on Christmas Eve!" - Ashton just kind of stared like "whoa! how did he know that?" Too cute!

Fortunately, Ashton will get his Christmas wish .... and yes, he'll get it before Santa Claus comes, on December 14th as a matter of fact! He's excited for big hugs and double high 5s! He's promised Marc that he'll be extra good so he can get donuts, and maybe even go racing and if Marc can work it out, Michael Phelpsing (a term coined by Marc, who would probably spend hours in the water with Ashton, if Ashton so desired).

Watching their friendship remain as strong as it's ever been, despite the 500+ miles that separate these two, is a beautiful and amazing thing to witness. The two miss each other very much and I know each has had their moments where they want to be around the other more than anything else. That's okay and it shows the bonds of friendship can remain strong, even when months go by and distance separates. Fortunately with technology being what it is, a Facebook chat and a Skype call can cure the blues nearly every single time! Many letters and drawings have been sent back and forth as well, and there has been no lack of communication between the two.

I for one, can't wait to see the smiles on their faces when they get to see each other in person again and see Ashton's Christmas wish come true! :)

Happy Holidays EVERYONE!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thankful Thursday: The "puzzle" of Ashton

LOVE this picture/drawing Marc sent Ashton. What's even more amazing, is when I explained it to Ashton (though he was able to pinpoint each word/phrase indicated in the puzzle) he got it! He said "it's a puzzle about me! It's not finished yet because I haven't put it all together yet!" He understood THVB (Team Hoyt Virginia Beach), WBHS (Western Branch High School) and GT (Georgia Tech) and he figured out what the rest of the pieces of words were as well.


The amount of social growth and understanding this boy is displaying recently is nothing short of miraculous and mouth-dropping. I couldn't be more proud of him! It takes a lot to understand what this actually meant, and with very little insight/input from me, he got it.

Thankful Thursday indeed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Skype Silliness

How can you not laugh at these two?! LOL!

It was hilarious!

Ashton had a blast chatting with Marc last night and when they started making funny faces at each other, I had to take a couple of pictures! So many giggles, laughs and silly faces make for a fun night.

Best Skype chat ever!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Speechless Saturday (9/14/13)

akin to the typical blogging trend known as "Wordless Wednesday", but this is the weekend version..... (ok, so it's not so speechless today, give me a break, it's the first one and I wanted to explain it :))

Speechless Saturday just simply means I will post a picture or link to article, etc with no words from me. Just something for my blogger friends to view and comment on (if they so wish).


Friday, September 13, 2013

Friendships from afar....

So, I've had a few people ask me (email, messages, etc) how Ashton's handling Marc being away at Georgia Tech and how he's adjusted.


Far better than I could have hoped for!

These are just a few moments that I've been able to capture in the last 4 weeks since Marc left. The first is a picture of Ashton's first letter he received. He's since received a couple of more letters, and one time, even got 3 letters at one time (also pictured), WOW! He's talked to Marc on the phone after the Rock'n'Roll 1/2 marathon (pictured) and he's Skyped MANY times and has gotten quite a few "double high 5s"! Ashton even gave up his usual morning tablet time one morning, to sit down and write Marc a letter so I could get it in the mail that day for him.

Ashton doesn't get upset anymore when Marc and him "hang up" after a Skype call, and he really, only got very upset, once. Marc got back on Skype and Ashton was fine after hanging up that second time. Ashton's gotten into the habit of writing letters if he hasn't gotten to talk to Marc in a few days, which is really helping with his handwriting. He's started writing smaller with each individual letter and is writing longer letters too. He's even taken to sending a few drawings here and there, which I know Marc enjoys. I like to call Ashton's morning ritual of messaging Marc, Kaylie (Marc's amazing, and in Ashton's words "she's pretty", girlfriend) and Amory with silly messages and smilies, his equivalent of a morning cup of coffee. Whether he gets a reply right away or not (today for instance, he and Marc got to chat for a few minutes), doesn't seem to matter. It's just part of his morning routine now and he loves reading the responses whenever he gets them. Ashton's also gotten a bit of a crush on Kaylie, which is so precious! Ashton even told me at one point that he wanted Kaylie to take him for pizza, but has said Marc can come too! Bahaha! Ladies man, that one is! :)

Marc has done everything he can to include Ashton in his college life. I know he's got pictures of him and Ashton up in his dorm room and I know Ashton's a well-known figure in Marc's life. Ashton loves talking to Marc on Skype, but the smile he gets on his face when Marc starts introducing him to whatever group of friends is around, is so sweet. It's like he realizes he's being included even from 9hours away and he loves the attention, smiles, waves and high 5s he gets from all of Marc's "cool college friends". It makes him feel a part of things which is amazing.

Yes, Ashton still misses Marc very, very much and will say so a few times a week. I realized a couple of weeks after Marc left, that maybe a good thing for Ashton would be a countdown calendar to when he'll get to see Marc again. So I printed out the calendars for September to December and wrote down the countdown in the boxes for each date. Ashton gets to place a sticker each day to help him count down the days. We're at 92 days now and counting down.

Ashton chose the Spongebob stickers and loves them, so no judging! :) It keeps him happy and it gives him a concrete date to count down to. Marc also surprised Ashton a week or so ago with the news that he (Marc) will be pushing him in a race when he comes home in December! Ashton can't wait! I will say that Ashton's adjusted to not having Marc push him in the past 2 races pretty well. While the last race was slightly crazy for me (it was just a longer ride for Ashton and I didn't know the guys who pushed him as well as we, obviously, know Marc). It worked out, Ashton had a blast and that's all that really matters in the end. He had fun and these races are about him.

Ashton has also adjusted to high school fantastically, much better than I had expected. I think that's helping with the whole transition. I don't expect every day to be rosey-posey days, but the amazing start he's had leads me to believe that this was very much, the right decision to make moving him back to our home district for high school. 

So all in all, the transition has went far better than I had hoped. Ashton received 2 Georgia Tech surprises this week in the mail, a Georgia Tech t-shirt and a really cool hoodie. He can't wait to wear them! He knows he can message Marc whenever he wants to and that he can Skype with Marc as long as he's not too busy. Even the other day when Marc was busy, they got to Skype for a few minutes - I think they were both missing each other a lot so they needed that face to face time. Two happy smiles emerged from that quick Skype call, so it worked. :)

Ashton's got 3 more months to go until he seems Marc again. I figured this first month would be the hardest, but it went so much better than I had hoped, so I assume the next 3 months will hopefully fly by. He's keeping busy with school and his New Energy P.O.W.E.R. running group and that's helping. Thank you for anyone who has asked and wondered! :) Fortunately, I'm happy to report that he's doing AWESOME! :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gone and now......


Gone are the days of tiny little newborn fingers and toes. 

Gone are the days of smelling the sweet baby smell that all babies seem to have. Best. Smell. Ever. It needs to be bottled and millions of dollars need to be made.

Gone are the whispy tendrils of soft brown hair that adorned their sweet little heads when they were born. Holden would quickly lose his while Ashton's just thinned out. Holden's hair would turn curly and wavy around the ends when it got longer and he got older, while Ashton just had a ton of hair, period. Even his standard short with a little bit of hair haircut shows how thick his hair really is.

Gone are the days of just sitting with a baby in my lap, snuggling them to sleep, and watching their sweet little faces scrunch up as they dreamed about whatever little babies dream of.

Gone are the days of the babies learning how to eat real food, drink out of a real cup and learn all of the other amazing milestones that we take for granted (smiling, cooing, sitting, crawling, standing, pulling up, and lastly, WALKING!).

Gone are the days of gorgeous blue eyes for Ashton, though they were replaced with the most entracing green color of eyes. Holden's eyes quickly went from that normal newborn "slate grey"color to the luscious chocolate brown that they have remained since he was 4months old.

Gone is the worries of whether Holden too, would be autistic like his brother, though later, there would be other worries when we received a dual diagnosis of ADHD and Anxiety.

Gone are the days of wondering whether Ashton would ever be able to interact with the world as we know it. Square peg, meet round hole. Fortunately, in the last 15months he's really come into his own and found a niche that he loves being a part of. Piece by piece, he's learning to be an amazing contributor to society. People love him wherever he goes and he's just a joy to have around. I can't foretell what his future holds, but if the last year is any indication, his life will be enriching, peaceful, loving, funny and fulfilling all rolled into one.

Gone are the days that the boys let me pick out their clothes for school. I got to have input into their first day of school clothes, but by and large, they pick their own clothes every morning. 

Gone are the days that they painstakingly let me take oodles and oodles of pictures for me to share. I had to strong-arm them to get the few good ones I got on their first day of school. The only reason why I got them? I bribed them with donuts!

Now I am the mom of a 9th grade high school freshman; a high schooler?!?

Now I am also the mom of a 6th grade middle school student; middle school?!?

Now I no longer have any children that will again grace the halls of a primary or intermediate school.

Now the battle begins to start figuring out what sort of plans we need to start putting in place for Ashton, for his post high school transition. Did you know you need to start worrying about that, so soon into their high school careers?! I didn't! YIKES!

Now the real work begins in teaching Holden organizational skills that will hopefully carry him through middle school and on into high school. It's been a tough first week of school, but I have faith that he'll manage. He's getting from class to class and to lunch, PE and his electives just fine. It's making sure everything comes home that needs to. I'm tempted to make a list for him to keep in his locker, but not sure if that'll go over well with him or not.

Now the worries begin about round two of preteen hormones, attitudes and behaviors. We've been very lucky with Ashton and now, at 14.5years old, he's really sailing through puberty quite well. A few, minor issues but nothing like I was expecting. If anyone is going to cause us major problems, I think it will be Holden. He's so determined and headstrong stubborn, that we are already starting to butt heads and he's only 11.5years old. A lot of his attitude I think is coming from his impulsivity due to ADHD, but I have to believe that some of it is just normal, preteen stuff. Granted, if I remember correctly, this was the age Ashton started giving us more issues, so long as we get through the next couple of years with our sanity intact, we should be good to go. The key is really keeping Holden busy (check!), keeping him well-rested (check!) and keeping him involved with active things (check!). 

The boys had an incredible first week of school and I couldn't be more proud. Ashton is walking independently from first bell to second bell and leads his teacher to his third and fourth bells. He's doing his lunch independently (go figure! if there's anything this boy knows how to do, is to make sure he's fed and EAT!). So proud that the transition to high school has went far better than I had imagined it would. Middle school is going well for Holden, if we can just get him to remember to bring everything home that he needs to bring home. It's a huge transition from elementary school to middle school so we'll see how well things fall into place this second week of school before I start panicking. He's got his first test in his math class tomorrow and he feel pretty confident. We'll see.

So, gone are my babies and in their place now are these two young men who are incredibly handsome, funny, smart and the lights of my life.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Favorite Pictures from the story

So I had asked the photographer, Vicki Cronis-Nohe, if I could get a copy of the pictures from the article about Marc and Ashton. She happily told me yes and I picked up a copy of them yesterday. There are so many amazing moments that she captured and I'm so glad I now have a real copy of them for us to look back on. She caught some amazing moments that I didn't, so I'm glad to have them and very thankful she shared.

So here they are. I'm going to leave them a bit smallish here, but you can click on each individual one and see the larger image.

HUGE HUGE HUGE thanks Vicki! Your photography skills are AMAZING!!

hands down, my absolute favorite! Ashton's favorite too :)

"Give me eyes, Ashton" - words of wisdom from a 17-year-old, this is one of my other favorites

Thanks again for letting me share these, Vicki! :)