Tomorrow is Moving Day

Tomorrow is moving day.

He had the kindest smile and the brightest and biggest brown eyes a little baby could ever have. He happily slept through the night just weeks after appearing in my life. He filled my heart with thanksgiving and praise and brought joy to my existence.

Tomorrow is moving day.

When he was 3, he broke his arm. We rushed him to the hospital and he courageously kept from crying while the doctor manipulated his bones back into place.

Tomorrow is moving day.

In preschool he fell madly in love with a beautiful little girl and he told me he wanted to grow up and marry and have brown babies.

Tomorrow is moving day.

It took him forever to talk. I drove him to speech therapy and celebrated every clear word. His best friend, Mitchell, understood him perfectly well. They had hours and hours of fun with cars, legos, and pretend games. They never argued or fought. They just played.

Tomorrow is moving day.

I taught him to read. He was exhilarated every time he finished a book. The stickers on his chart were an outward expression of the pride and happiness he felt. He was a joy to homeschool.

Tomorrow is moving day.

There were very few things Daniel hated. Among those, are vegetables. He sort of still mostly hates them.

Tomorrow is moving day.

He always had a girl crush growing up. From kindergarten through high school, he was (and is) a romantic at heart.

Tomorrow is moving day.

Ryan became his buddy. Ryan is now his best man.

Tomorrow is moving day.

His love for animals was contagious. Nothing like a trip to the zoo or aquarium. He knew the name of every imaginable dinosaur, along with eating habits, time periods, and habitats.

Tomorrow is moving day.

He always had an incredible sense of direction. Lizette and I always relied on him to get us to the right place when we were lost.

Tomorrow is moving day.

I could always count on him when I needed someone to kill a palmetto bug.

Tomorrow is moving day.

The more he grew, the more he resembled his dad, both in looks and personality. Yet, he took after me in this one thing: his love for dancing. He was not shy about hitting the dance floor. His signature move was the worm.

Tomorrow is moving day.

He also loved the spotlight. I guess he gets that from me also (OK, he took after me in a couple of things). He found a love for theater and performing. He loved playing the bishop in Les Mis.

Tomorrow is moving day.

He served in Jamaica a couple of summers. He loved everything about it.

Tomorrow is moving day.

In high school, he fell in love with a long-time friend. Her name is Geneva. They officially became a couple on senior prom night.

Tomorrow is moving day.

He has always been and continues to be a very faithful friend.

Tomorrow is moving day.

His love for his family, especially his siblings, moves me deeply. When his sisters call him with a need, he’s willing to help at the drop of a hat. He is committed to Gabriel and I feel peace in knowing that Daniel will never leave him, but will watch over him with great care and love.

Tomorrow is moving day.

“Danieeeeel!” is what you hear at my house any time an electronic device freezes or malfunctions.

Tomorrow is moving day.

Goofy. ‘nough said.

Tomorrow is moving day.

He has become quite a fabulous young man. He is responsible, interesting, tech savvy, fun, engaging, respectful, and faithful.

Tomorrow is moving day.

Geneva has captured his heart and mind. He is a lucky duck. The two will wed in 2 1/2 weeks and ride into the sunset together.

Tomorrow he is leaving father and mother in order to cleave to his beloved.

My heart is full. I am proud, happy, excited, hopeful, as well as sad, nostalgic, and utterly surprised at how quickly time flew by.

 

daniel 4

daniel 6

daniel 10

daniel 40

daniel 39

daniel 38

daniel 36

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My Son is a Genius

My son is a genius. No, I’m not kidding. He is a spacial genius. I don’t know if there is a specificity for the genial kind, but as a mom, I’m telling you, Gabriel is incredibly special and highly talented in spacial understanding and memory.

I know you are dying to hear my anecdote, so let me explain:

For the past few months: Gabriel has recently discovered the stimulating world of Google Earth. He has spent numerous amount of hours virtually navigating the streets of Miami, where he lived until four years ago. He has communicated to us that he wants to move back and that he has found a few spots where we can get a “new house”. He has a special spot in South Miami that he really likes. One day we found him looking at rental properties around the area, strategically planted within walking distance of a Pizza Hut.

Three days ago: My husband called me urgently to come into Gabriel’s room and see what his computer screen was displaying. We stared at it in total and absolute amazement, while Gabriel casually “visited” Seaquarium in his tablet.

24 years ago: When Gabriel was 1 year old, Juan and I, along with our two little ones, moved to “Kendall Club Apartments” and lived there for two years. When our third son was born (he was exactly 8 days old), we moved to a single family home nearby. Gabriel was 3. I do not ever recall returning to that apartment since our move. We drove by Kendall Drive many, many times throughout our life in Miami, but never did we enter the apartment complex again.

Three days ago: Gabriel was virtually standing in front of the exact apartment he lived in when he was 3 years old. Simultaneously, in his tablet, his finger moved through the streets of Miami, from the Seaquarium in Key Biscayne to Kendall Club Apartments. First the causeway, then US1, then Sunset Drive, passing by Pizza Hut, of course, to 87th Ave, to Kendall Drive.

He remembers it all. He can navigate it all. If he had the ability to drive, he would get in his car and drive straight from VA to his favorite spot in Miami. He could also take us, practically with his eyes closed, to Marco Island, Disney World (of course), Steve Reed’s house (inside story), Delaware, DC, Virginia Beach, or anyplace where he has been only once.

This may not seem like a genial trait to some. But for an autistic adult who has never driven, never seemed to pay attention to his surroundings, hardly ever looked out the window of a car, never asked or received verbal directions, nor ever studied maps up until recently, this is quite outstanding. None of my other children (who speak and drive) would be able to get to most familiar places of their childhood without any help or hesitation.

Of course, we already knew this about Gabriel. When he was 8 he got upset when I was driving him to school one day, and told me to “turn right”. I obliged, because when Gabriel used words we all made sure he was rewarded for that. After several commands to turn this way or the other, I found myself in Parrot Jungle. Gabriel smiled. He had only been there once before, but when he directed me there, he did so via an unfamiliar road, one that we had never taken to get to Parrot Jungle. Another time we discovered that he had drawn in his pad the entire way to Marco Island, one picture frame at a time, after we visited there once. The pictures took us to the hotel (and the exact room) in which we vacationed. These pictures were drawn several months after the fact.

Autism puzzles and intrigues me. Gabriel amazes me. I thank God that often times He gives us, who are closest to him, glimpses of the complexity of thought and depth of personality in him.

gabriel and his desktop

Gabriel elated to get a computer for his birthday

Gabriel and I

My boy and I

kendall club apartnements

Kendall Club Apartments in Gabriel’s computer screen

The 12 Months of 15K

On the first month of 15K my true love gave to me

My baby’s graduation party

On the second month of 15K my true love gave to me

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

 

On the third month of 15K my true love gave to me

A fiddler on the roof

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

On the fourth month of 15K my true love gave to me

A girls’ trip to Miami

Fiddler on the roof

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

On the fifth month of 15K my true love gave to me

Kiiiids and more kiiiids!

Girls’ trip to Miami

Fiddler on the roof

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

On the sixth month of 15K my true love gave to me

Beaches and vacations

Kiiiids and more kiiiids!

Girls’ trip to Miami

Fiddler on the roof

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

On the seventh month of 15K my true love gave to me

Outdoor delights

Beaches and vacations

Kiiiids and more kiiiids!

Girls’ trip to Miami

Fiddler on the roof

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

On the eighth month of 15K my true love gave to me

Seussical adventures

Outdoor delights

Beaches and vacations

Kiiiids and more kiiiids!

Girls’ trip to Miami

Fiddler on the roof

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

 On the ninth month of 15K my true love gave to me

Fun in RVA

Seussical adventures

Outdoor delights

Beaches and vacations

Kiiiids and more kiiiids!

Girls’ trip to Miami

Fiddler on the roof

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

On the tenth month of 15K my true love gave to me

Awesome BFFs

Fun in RVA

Seussical adventures

Outdoor delights

Beaches and vacations

Kiiiids and more kiiiids!

Girls’ trip to Miami

Fiddler on the roof

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

On the eleventh month of 15K my true love gave to me

In the skies with Gabriel

Awesome BFFs

Fun in RVA

Seussical adventures

Outdoor delights

Beaches and vacations

Kiiiids and more kiiiids!

Girls’ trip to Miami

Fiddler on the roof

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

On the twelfth month of 15K my true love gave to me

Hugs, smiles, and presents

In the skies with Gabriel

Awesome BFFs

Fun in RVA

Seussical adventures

Outdoor delights

Beaches and vacations

Kiiiids and more kiiiids!

Girls’ trip to Miami

Fiddler on the roof

Chilly days with family

And my baby’s graduation party

I Think I’m Coming Out of this Fog

I haven’t blogged in weeks. Months, I think. I have been sort of drowning in emotional spaghetti, not knowing how to sort what I feel from what is real and good and right. Not that my life has been awful. Not at all. I enjoy so many good things, I consider myself fortunate! But there are times life is harder than others, as far as emotions go. For me, transitioning from raising kids to empty nesting has been particularly taxing. I have found myself having existential crises, bouts of tears, fabulous pity parties, and a marked inability to sort out and understand myself.

But the last few days have been helpful. I took my dear Gabriel on a short trip to Miami to visit friends and family. Now that I’m back, my non-working hours have been filled with news from France, discussions of Syrian refugees, and passionate exchanges of ideas (freedom of speech rocks). Work is always a safe haven, and lately, I have been studying and preparing for my upcoming show. So I found myself thinking outside of myself today. Yay!! I can sit and write with semi-intelligent verbiage, I am not crying nor am I feeling sorry for myself, and I finally realized that Thanksgiving is coming up in one week!

God is kind to me, always. Today I thank him for the many good gifts he has lavished on me: My incredible family, amazing friends, a fantastic job, His sustaining Word, and the joys of rest, fun, and travel.

I have no idea how I will be ready for Thanksgiving, but I am deciding not to stress about it. I have so many things to be thankful for, and by golly, I will celebrate next Thursday with my loved ones, whether I get to cook or not, and whether my house is impeccably clean or barely tolerable.

Gabriel’s Visit to the Ophthalmologist

Yes, we finally found a great group of ophthalmology at VCU. What a team! Loved, loved, loved them!

After a long wait, Gabriel finally went to have his eyes checked today. The doctors and the technology at VCU were fabulous, and most importantly, Gabriel cooperated fully and kept his eyes open for the entire duration of the many tests he underwent. Juan and I were in awe.

It turns out Gabriel’s eyes are PERFECT. Clean cornea, retina, optic nerve, the whole shebang. There isn’t even a trace of the series of persistent iritis he had six months ago. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

This is great news, of course. And it’s also disconcerting, only because we have pretty much tested him for everything there is to test, and we still don’t know why he has had such a strong decline in behavior and mood. The only possible explanation, as far as I’m concerned, unless I’m missing something, is that it is purely sensory.

On that note, it’ll be fabulous to have our dearest friend, Maggie, come visit next week 🙂 Gabriel is going to flip when he sees her!

Anyway, thank you for all who have prayed for Gabriel. I know many of you have and continue to do so. Please don’t stop. He has had several good days, and his eyes have been consistently open for three of them. This is INCREDIBLE. We have suspended the use of migraine medication, which has actually seems fine without it. But we still need to figure out what he struggles with and how to help him, so keep those prayers coming!!

Specific prayer request: Pray that he will receive his Med waiver. He has been on a waiting list for a long while, and it would be amazing for him to get those funds. We can sure put them to good use. Lord, provide the waiver before the fall of this year!!

Sitting casually at the doctor's office :)

Sitting casually at the doctor’s office 🙂

Model patient

Model patient

Ready to go have pizza!!

Ready to go have pizza!!

Ode to Joy

A friend on Facebook shared how she is going to pay tribute to meaningful people in her life, not after they die, but while they are still alive. I deeply appreciate this reminder to give words of gratitude and encouragement to those who have blessed me throughout my life. Therefore, I am purposing to write a tribute a week. If I keep up with this goal, I will have expressed my appreciation to 52 of the amazing people in my life, by this time next year 🙂

The first person I have decided to pay tribute to is my friend Joy Osborn. She is my boss. And she is a keeper.

Joy is enthusiastic, and her energy and positive attitude are infectious. In spite of pregnancies and babies, Joy doesn’t skip a beat. She compliments me every time I wear my yellow jeans and she answers my emails at 2:00 AM (I mean, really, does anyone else have a boss who does that)? She greets me with a smile every time I see her in class and her bit of sarcasm suits me well ;). She wears miss-matched socks to camp, comes up with crazy games for the kids, and bends over backwards to make sure everything is well planned and delivered. Joy has helped me when I didn’t know what to do, covered for me when I dropped the ball, and even sewn costumes for my students… because God knows that me and the sewing machine do not get along all that great.

Thank you, Joy, for your love for God, your commitment to integrity, and your passionate dedication to your job and the people in it. You have influenced me way more than you probably are aware you have. In fact, I have subconsciously adopted your way of communicating, by often ending my sentences with “You know what I mean?”

I’m gonna miss you when you move away. If it weren’t because your equally awesome husband is waiting for you elsewhere, I would try to sabotage your departure…. somehow.

I couldn’t find a picture of you and me, but I did find this one from the day you made your way into the hair and makeup room to help with Elise’s “White Witch” hair extensions.

This is not my picture, but has been all over the internet. I just “borrowed” it from you, Joy lol. This picture says it all!

What I Didn’t Know About Snow Until I Moved to Virginia

Things I never knew, and liked, about snow until I moved to Virginia:

  • Snow swirls. Unlike rain which falls straight down, snow is light and dances as it makes its way to the ground. It’s quite mesmerizing, actually.
  • It’s loose and fluffy, but at the same time, it sticks together and packs itself up. It disintegrates in your hand, but it can easily be compacted into a ball. If the surface on which it falls is cold enough, it will stick to it, no matter what the incline is. It is beautiful to wake up to white roofs and tree branches, yet easy enough to brush it off your car (of course, this is without ice, which is a whole different story).
Back porch

Back porch

My front yard, this morning.

My front yard, this morning.

  • I’m happy we only get snow a few times a year in central VA. Snow is pretty when it’s fresh off the sky. Yet, it can turn ugly while it sits there for days, making everything more cold and more wet than you want it to be. So, again, glad it doesn’t happen that much where I live, because I can see how it would be really easy to get tired of it. I’m grateful it is few and far between; it’s enjoyable and sporadic enough to maintain its magic.

Undisturbed, fluffy blanket

  • Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of falling snow is how silent it is. I’m used to rain storms, with loud drops of water coupled with roaring thunder. But snow is simply quiet. Everything is quiet. Animals are quiet. Traffic quiets. The world seems to stop and sit still. Waiting. Watching. It’s captivating. There is truly nothing like it.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

  • Snow reflects light, like crazy! Nights full of snow are absolutely gorgeous. The slightest hint of light drives away darkness. During the day, if it’s sunny, the reflected light is almost blinding. It gives me hope, remembering that in the cold and in the dark, God can, and often does, send heavenly provision that brightens life.
  • Snow days (at least in Central VA) = mandatory rest days :). Schools close and businesses often do the same. Since my husband works on a school schedule, if the local community college closes, his job closes as well. So yay for family time on snow days! Snow days = playing outside, bonding with the kids, reading, blogging, and board games.
  • OK, OK, I will include one thing which I don’t like about snow. It’s messy. It gets on your shoes which eventually gets into your house or your car, wetting everything. And if there happens to be salt on the floor (which happens outside of business and stores to prevent slipping), that stuff will stick to your shoes and stain your floors. Yup. I really dislike that aspect of snow. But considering it’s an occasional nuisance, it’s not so bad, after all.
3 layers of socks before venturing out

3 layers of socks before venturing out

Snow selfie, of course 😉

Daniel tried to go out driving but got stuck on our street 😛

My handsome men (minus one)

Stephano, the snowdude

My baby and I with Stephano ❤

Elise graduated from high school. I graduated from homeschooling.

Two days ago we officially celebrated Elise’s high school graduation. It was a lovely afternoon with lovely friends and lots of sappy moments. It was a time to express our love and support of Elise, and very sweet and encouraging words were spoken.

It was also the end of an era, for me personally. I have completely finished homeschooling my children. It’s hard for me to believe that this was my life for 20 years! I am so very grateful for the honor and privilege I’ve had to educate my kids at home. It hasn’t all been good. Not all fun. But it has been worth it, a blessing, and something I would do all over again if given the chance.

But enough of that. I spent a couple of days putting together a video of pictures of Elise. It’s a long, 24 minute video, which I don’t expect anyone to watch. I put it here because I want to keep it in my page. I will watch it many times because I find meaning and memories in each one of those pictures (but seriously, I don’t expect anyone else to put themselves through 24 minutes worth of adorable pictures ;))

So with tears of gratitude, I give God the honor and glory for his goodness and mercy in our lives. Despite the difficulties and challenges, He has demonstrated his faithfulness day after day. Soli Deo Gloria.

The Twelve Months of 14K

On the first month of 14K my true love gave to me, a house full of fun-loving teens

     

On the second month of 14K my true love gave to me, lots and lots of snow

And a house full of fun-loving teens

   

On the third month of 14K my true love gave to me, great BBQ-ing

Lots and lots of snow,

And a house full of fun-loving teens

On the fourth month of 14K my true love gave to me, reservoir canoeing

Great BBQ-ing

Lots and lots of snow

And a house full of fun-loving teens

 On the fifth month of 14K my true love gave to me, Charlotte and her pig

Reservoir canoeing

Great BBQ-ing

Lots and lots of snow

And a house full of fun-loving teens

     

On the sixth month of 14K my true love gave to me, road trips and recitals

Charlotte and her pig

Reservoir canoeing

Great BBQ-ing

Lots and lots of snow

And a house full of fun-loving teens

On the seventh month of 14K my true love gave to me, hot Miami sun

Road trips and recitals

Charlotte and her pig

Reservoir canoeing

Great BBQ-ing

Lots and lots of snow

And a house full of fun-loving teens

    

On the eighth month of 14K my true love gave to me, photo shoots and birthdays

Hot Miami sun

Road trips and recitals

Charlotte and her pig

Reservoir canoeing

Great BBQ-ing

Lots and lots of snow

And a house full of fun-loving teens

     

On the ninth month of 14K my true love gave to me, Tom Sawyer rehearsals

Photo shoots and birthdays

Hot Miami Sun

Road trips and recitals

Charlotte and her pig

Reservoir canoeing

Great BBQ-ing

Lots and lots of snow

And a house full of fun-loving teens

On the tenth month of 14K my true love gave to me, bonding time with fam’ly

Tom Sawyer rehearsals

Photo shoots and birthdays

Hot Miami Sun

Road trips and recitals

Charlotte and her pig

Reservoir canoeing

Great BBQ-ing

Lots and lots of snow

And a house full of fun-loving teens

     

     

On the eleventh month of 14K my true love gave to me, a surprise engagement

Bonding time with fam’ly

Tom Sawyer rehearsals

Photo shoots and birthdays

Hot Miami Sun

Road trips and recitals

Charlotte and her pig

Reservoir canoeing

Great BBQ-ing

Lots and lots of snow

And a house full of fun-loving teens

On the twelfth month of 14K my true love gave to me, wonderful children

A surprise engagement

Bonding time with fam’ly

Tom Sawyer rehearsals

Photo shoots and birthdays

Hot Miami Sun

Road trips and recitals

Charlotte and her pig

Reservoir canoeing

Great BBQ-ing

Lots and lots of snow

And a house full of fun-loving teens

In loving memory of my fun-loving uncle, “Tio Aris” (1950-2014)

You will never be forgotten

A Prayer For Our Kids

Father, may our children love you more than anyone else in this world, and may they live to please you and glorify you. But if they stumble and fall, if they forget or neglect you, may they remember to call out to you because you are a merciful God who restores the humble.

May they enjoy good health and a long life, and be grateful for the blessings you bestow on them. But if their health fails, may they trust that you are in control of all things and find comfort and joy in you.

May they go through school and get a good education which leads to great jobs, and may they enjoy financial stability. But if they don’t, may they learn to be content and grow in their dependence on you. May they remember that their worth does not derive from their education or financial status, but from the fact that they belong to you.

May they marry great partners and have healthy children, and may their love for their family bring them fulfillment and purpose. But if they ever find themselves alone or childless, may they know that you are the lover of their souls. May they experience your strong presence and peace.

May they always be surrounded by faithful, supportive friends. But if they live through betrayal or abandonment, may they know you and understand you more because you were betrayed and abandoned by your friends.

May they live a life of service to you and to others, and so glorify Christ in all that they do. But if they are driven by selfish ambition and negate your lordship, may your loving chastisement and kind discipline bring them to repentance. May they find rest only in you.

I pray this knowing full well that you love them more than I do because they belong more to you than to me. I trust that you will complete the work that you have begun in each one of them.