originally written on February 1, 2015
I live for the miracles. This past weekend has been full of them and it may just go down as one of the most memorable weekends of my life.
Chelsea is now officially double-digits! We celebrated her 10th birthday at home and then surprised her with a trip to Hershey’s Chocolate World with Aunt Hannah, Uncle Timmy, and baby G. We got to Zumba with Reese, dance with all the chocolates in a parade, ride in the Chocolate Factory a few times, shop, go to a cool 4-D show, and lots of free chocolate. I think I might have had more fun than the girls, but don’t tell! There were many moments when Jeff and I found ourselves just sitting back and enjoying the miracles. Life with 3 highly traumatized girls doesn’t usually allow us time or space to just soak them all in like we got to this weekend.
Friday night we had Jack’s 13th birthday party. Through neighborhood friends I was connected to the Allnutt family in 2005. I was pursuing my masters in social work after ditching my dreams of becoming a special education teacher. Thankfully the Allnutt family came to my rescue! They graciously allowed me the privilege to be one of Jack’s first home program therapists. Jack had recently been diagnosed with autism. I knew from the moment I met Jack on the swing that all of us were going to be alright.
Over the course of 7 years, I’ve had many titles – therapist, home program coordinator, family trainer, home school coordinator, and teacher. No doubt the most important title I’ve held is FRIEND.
Amy sat down with us at the party and asked how life was. We asked if she wanted to hear the story of how police were dispatched to our home 3 times in 1 day the week before or how amazing life at the Phoenix home is. Naturally she chose to hear about how amazing life is because she is a glass-full, life is good type of woman. Turns out the 911 stories fall under the category of life is good, so she got to hear a little bit of everything!
It was an awesome party – good food, people, music, and memories made. We had so much fun! I think my most favorite moment was dancing with my girls, Jack, his sisters, and all of Jack’s friends to Shake It Off. These kids DEFINE what it means to shake it off – continuing to be true to themselves as they keep cruisin, can’t stop, won’t stop grooving…cause they know it’s gonna be alright!!!
Jack and his Real Boys have moved mountains to convince a school system to get on board with facilitated communication and teaching them in mainstream classrooms. Because of this, Jack has made a lot of typical friends and it was so cool to hang and talk with some of them at his party. All of these kids are shaking off the labels and constraints.
Before Amy had to run off to take Jack to the bathroom, I asked her if she remembered a song I used to sing with Jack. It’s all about the power of faith and miracles. I guess that basically sums up my weekend – miracles. There is this saying in the recovery movement – “Don’t quit 5 minutes before your next miracle!” You guys, it’s so true. Miracles come at least every 5 minutes.
I’m so glad my family hasn’t quit!
P.S. – Have you read or heard about the bestselling book Far From the Tree? Jack and the Allnutt family have been chosen to represent the autism chapter in a movie that is being made. Camera crews were filming at Jack’s party. Stay tuned – it’s gonna be good.
P.P.S. – I have been told for several years that I should write a book. A book seems way too lofty, so I’m settling for a blog. I have been writing over the course of the last 5 years and have filing cabinets full of notes. This doesn’t include the hundreds of emails. My plan is to spend at least a year pulling out everything that has needed to be tucked away until now and begin my truth-telling journey. I’m glad you’re here with me. If I’m lucky, maybe we’ll even have some guest posts along the way!