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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Festive Fall Wreath and 25 Shmacks!

Friends!  Fall is here, The Voice is back on TV, and Adam Levine is oh-so yummy.  (Wait!  What?!)  HA!  I ADORE this time of year--crisp mornings, chilly nights, sweater weather, new boots, hot cocoa, and FALL CRAFTING!

I am giddy with excitement over my latest project.  It turned out cuter than I could have imagined, and I hope you love it as much as I do.  Be sure to visit The Wood Connection for the full tutorial!

The Wood Connection has generously donated a $25 gift certificate to be given to one lucky "Mama Leisha" winner!  (Thank you, thank you, WC!)  Entering the drawing is easy.  Simply leave a comment stating what you love the most about this time of year.  Winner will be selected at random and notified via email October 7th!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Brave and Beautiful; A Movement

I am Brave and Beautiful - a beauty movement that is sweeping the globe.  Colbie Caillat started it with her recent song and video called TRY.  My blogging friend Megan of Brassy Apple wanted to push this movement along and invited women from all over to share what they looked like without makeup... and I joined in!!  Colbie's song says, "Take your makeup off. Let your hair down... Look into the mirror at yourself, Do you like you? Cause I like you... "

Megan and her friend Cobi of Peacefrom6pieces have been the team behind this whole project.  Their worldwide vision included creating their own video inspired by the song TRY.  The talent of Robbins Creative made it possible for them to pull it off.  You have to click play and see the beauty and bravery displayed and you might even recognize a few faces in there.

Me, along with 101+ other blogging women from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, ages, shapes, and sizes, have decided to be Brave and Beautiful!  You can join in this movement too by sharing what you look like without makeup on.  You don't need a blog either!  Just tag your photo with #IamBraveAndBeautiful on Instgram and search the hashtag to see who else has joined in.  ALSO, if you tag it with a second hashtag - #ColbieTRY - we just might be able to get Colbie Caillat's attention!  She was the inspiration behind it all!

Are you brave and beautiful?  I am.  Here I go...

Sure, my under eye concealer hides those telltale signs of exhausting motherhood.  And absolutely, red lips make me feel fierce and fabulous.  
But when I take those red lips off--when I take all of it off--I feel real.

Sisters, that is my natural self.  And I have to tell you, it feels real pretty.  Because I am a real woman with real hopes, real dreams, real gifts, and real joys.  Just like you.

I am pretty because I am kind.  I am pretty because I am divine in spiritual origin.  I am pretty because I use my hands to give, my lips to praise and pray, and my whole heart to love.  
Just like you.   

In taking off my makeup for that natural shot, I took off something deeper and far more substantial.  I took off the heartache from being teased as a child for having buckteeth and a big nose.  I took off the fading scars of awkward adolescence, the fear of rejection, and the loneliness of self doubt.  I took off societal expectations; what the world tells me of what my physical appearance should be.  I took off pop culture's silly and unobtainable definitions of beauty.  I bore it all--my heart, my face, my courage, my knowledge of my infinite preciousness.  

I saw me.  Brave.  Beautiful.

Do you see you?  The real and glorious you?  You are more breathtaking than you know.

share your natrual beauty -

Don't stop here!  Get clicking around - its a blog hop!  Below are more brave and beautiful women bearing more than their natural beauty.  They each have a little bit of their heart to share with you.  Some get very personal.  Some share stories.  For some this was very hard to do, yet they gathered their courage and did it anyway.  We hope as you click around (and YES pin these different posts!) you will feel the importance of it, the empowering effect it has.  We hope it helps you and encourages you in some way.
women sharing their natural beauty - no makeup
women with our makeup on and what makes them beautiful
women from around the world share their face with no makeup on -
Mommy bloggers share their face without makeup and what makes then beautiful
Natural beauty untouched photos
raw natural beauty - join the movement
beauty and bravery - women wearing no makeup -
#colbietry #iambraveandbeautiful
Ready in join in?  Snap, hashtag, and share! Tag @BrassyApple and @Peacefrom6Pieces if you can too!
Also follow our Bravery and Beauty PINTEREST board for more inspiration!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Silent Prayers

Can I be brutally honest?

I had a rough day yesterday.  I watched Dr. Phil--which was utterly stupid--and it freaked me out.  I'll spare you the details, but the fourteen-year-old featured was severally autistic and aggressive.  She was horrifically violent.  She would beat her mother unconscious.  

It was devastating to watch and I cried through the whole show.  I cried for the mother--now in prison--and for the pain and desperation she suffered.  I cried for the hopelessness she felt; a bleakness that smothered her, that led her to unspeakable actions.  I cried for her whole family, and for the fourteen-year-old's siblings who were frequently hurt by her rage.  I cried for this damn disorder--so diverse, so complex, so mysterious in nature.

And then I crept into Cam's room while he napped.  

I cried for him too--my beautiful, peacefully sleeping boy.  I put my hand on his face and said a silent prayer.  I asked God to make me brave.  I asked Him to make me strong--to give me the courage to face the unknown road that lies ahead.  I asked Him to stay with me.  To stay by my side, always.

I know that that family is not my family, and their experience is not my experience.  I know we are different.  But I also know that I can't know everything.  I don't know what the future offers us, or what our ASD journey holds.  I just know I have great faith.  I know I love my son. 

I know that love is everything.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Facts

My initial response is to write the facts.

It's always the last paper in the pile. Behind the registration card and the emergency contact card, behind the PTA enrollment form and the school policies page. It's the "About You" questionnaire. The "Getting To Know Your Child" worksheet.  

What is your child's favorite food? What are your child's hobbies? What would your child like to be when he grows up?  

Absolutely, I have an idea of what I could write on those blank lines. I am Camren's mother and know him better than anyone else. There are certain things Camren likes, and there are certain things he does not. But the truth is, I don't really know all the answers to these things because he's never told me. He can't tell me. Not entirely. And what I wouldn't give to be able to unlock that mind of his, to see the answers for myself. Verbal language--something that frequently alludes him--is the key to discovering what's inside.

So I do my best. I answer the questions. I feel fairly good and confident about my answers. And then I see the last question:

What else would you like us to know about your child?

My initial response is to write the facts.

In August of 2013, James and I met with a psychologist in a small exam room--furnished with a child-size table, brightly colored chairs, and several bins of toys--and watched as he administered the ADOS test to our son. We were strangely calm and hopeful, despite being fully aware of the ominous presence in the room. It sat on our shoulders and whispered in our ears:  Autism. And when the psychologist uttered words like, "spectrum disorder," and "Asperger's," we did not flinch.  

Since that day, we have read pamphlets, print-outs, and books. We have met with school teachers, speech therapists, and pediatricians. We have sat side-by-side through IEP meetings; sobering experiences that simultaneously fill your heart with peace and pain. Last spring we spent a day at a disabilities conference, learning about how to best support children with special needs. 

Camren and I have spent hours together in speech therapy--playing Memory to learn proper nouns, engaging in ring tosses to learn action verbs, reviewing flashcards depicting various emotions and helping Cam to identify them. We've had months and months of occupational therapy, where we've been introduced to the life-saving wonder of "joint compression" and the joy of "plastic ball pits" for sensory integration.

Sensory integration. My vocabulary contains words like, "sensory intergration," now.

My initial response is to write the facts. But in a moment of freedom and unapologetic defiance, I say to hell with the facts and the diagnoses and the labels. My son is not "the facts." He is not his diagnosis. He is not a label.

What else would I like you to know about my child?

He is hilarious and charming--with a gappy smile so cute it knocks you off your feet when he flashes it your way. He is delightfully quirky. He is stubborn and smart. His mind absorbs everything; his laugh defines joy. He is full of surprises and his brilliance is astounding. Look into his dark-as-night eyes long enough and I promise you'll see stars there. There's wisdom and depth in there, too.

I can't tell you what he wants to be when he grows up--what his aspirations are, what constitutes the stuff of his dreams. He's a little boy on a journey, with a long way to go, but I will tell you this...

No.  I will promise you this...

He will be amazing.