When meltdowns invade your marriage.

My forehead laid against the top of the steering wheel and it hurt as pressed up and down between my sobs. I hadn’t cried this hard in a while. I was defeated. My son’s meltdown kicked my ass. I spent hours picking apart what I’d wear and did my makeup with extra precision so I would “look” like a mom who had it all together. My son, and his autism sure as hell didn’t care.

 

He sat in the back staring off at pigeons circling the parking lot. I tried my best not to let him hear me cry. Worn down and scared, I pulled out of the parking lot and started running down the list of people to blame. My parents, my sister, my husband….yep…my husband’s fault.

 

A flood of pointed questions came over me:

 

“Where is he?

Why isn’t he here?

Why do I have to do this alone?

Don’t  they know I wasn’t built for this?

HE’S the laid back and patient one.

What kind of father would let us walk into this scary assessment by ourselves?”

 

A distant, very quiet voice inside of me started answering:

“He’s at work.

He couldn’t get the time off today.

You didn’t ask anyone to come with you.

You are built for this, you’re his mom.

He’s doing his part. He’s at work. He’s providing.”

 

Nonetheless, when he got home, I let him have it. I just railed into him about how terrible everything was, how I felt so alone, how he wasn’t there for me, how I needed him to do more…because his hepling bathe the kids, do dishes, laundry, diapers, basically everything I do on a daily basis wasn’t enough.  And then I realize it. I was having my own meltdown.

I was allowing my stress to pop the bottle top off of my pent up emotions and sprayed it all over my husband…the most hands-on father and provider you’ve met.

 

Parents of children with autism are at higher risk of divorcing than those with neurotypical children. I can sympathize. I think God put us through the ringer the first several years of our marriage because he knew we longer bumpy road ahead of us. So we had to build up our love, respect, and strength for one another.

 

Being a parent is hard. Being a parents and REMEMBERING you have a spouse is hard. Keeping that spark is hard. Adding elements like children with special needs, traumatic experiences, etc. make it all the more hard to be the happy couple who walked down the aisle.

Don’t let your words or actions make it even harder. Life will do its part to put obstacles in your way, don’t make the mistake of placing those obstacles there yourself.

 

 

Maximus The Great: It’s Official.

He’s three. He’s had three birthday parties. Three Christmases. Three Easter holidays.

He’s three and has had double as many assessments than birthdays, holidays, and years on this earth. They started when he first failed a milestone survey at 2 and half and his Early Head Start teacher asked me to meet with ECI. At that point, I realized I was caught. A dirty liar. I may have imagined the milestones he was expected to have completed while I hurriedly filled out the same surveys in the waiting room of my doctors office; “I think he imitated my line drawing,” “Sure he can alternate his feet while climbing steps. Some times. Once?”  I thought to myself. I guess I thought those forms were more of a testament of me as a mother than how my child was truly performing and interacting with the world. Six “tests” to determine whether or not my kid is normal. Two for ECI, one for the Autism Community Network (which was part 1 of 2), two more for therapy services, and most recently, a big one, his School District’s Special Education Assessment with a Licensed School Psychologist and Special Education Specialist.

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Over the summer, as we spent our days together the cosmic bubble that consumed him, the one he’d allow me to enter every once in awhile, the one we’d have to step into to see the world through his eyes faded into something a little more transparent. He began to see us, interact with us. During our time together, a new school year began and so, we met with our local school district to get a Special Education evaluation.

Our intake portion of the assessment was about an inch short of a disaster. I had paperwork to submit and review with the very sweet, very patient Special Education Director. But Max didn’t care. We got in the room and he had an instant meltdown. Which included throwing himself against the large window (it didn’t break), throwing a stapler, disconnecting a phone, a computer…basically destroying anything he could get his hands on then running to the door. So there I am, trying to hold a very serious and super informative conversation while the Tazmanian Devil tore through the room. As I sat and listened, responded, and tried to take in what she was telling me about my rights as a parents through this process the tears welled up in my eyes and I choked back the strong urge to cry and give a little scream.

I thanked the staff for their time and patience, clutched my son’s hand very tightly and all but dragged him into the truck outside. I buckled him in and threw myself into my seat where I proceeded to sob in the parking lot while he sat quiet strapped in staring off into the sky.

After the defeat of that day, I planned better for the next time we’d return to the school for the big assessment. I asked my Esposo to take the day off work, I packed snacks and a change of clothes, coloring books, and anything else that made me feel “prepared.”

I didn’t need any of it.

He did very well. He needed some redirection but showed off his new words, his ability to stay focused for longer periods of time, and just his overall awesomeness to both assessors. Who each, at one point, gushed about how handsome and/or cute he is. (Swoon!)

After about two hours of “tests” which looked a lot more like guided play time, several in depth questions for me and Dad, the School Psychologist came back with what we’d been waiting to hear.

“He’s brilliant, there’s nothing wrong except a little speech delay, go home and quit your whining crazy lady with blue hair!” Just kidding. That didn’t happen.

 

She laid down his scores, and there it was, above the threshold for “Severe Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.”img_0137-2

I couldn’t get past that first word “Severe.”

Surely, my bright adorable kiddo who doesn’t flap his hands, or rock back and forth is not “severe”. I scanned over the different categories and could no longer lie to myself as I did in my pediatrician’s waiting room.

This is reality.

This is what we came here for.

This is who he is.

This is Maximus.

And that’s okay.

I took a breath. It came out deeper than I expected and a rush of relief came over me. “Finally.” I said. “We’re not crazy.” They handed me a tissue as I nervously laughed and caught my husbands eyes across the mini table. We felt vindicated. We felt relieved. We felt nervous. We felt proud. No one could say “estas loca mi’ja” or “no seas exagerada!” anymore. Not when it came to this, anyway.

“No, you’re not crazy, and we’re glad y’all are here,” she said.

Non Categorical Early Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s official. Like, on a paper with a professional’s signature and everything.

10 months of waiting. It felt much longer. But it’s nice not to be in limbo. It’s nice to be able to understand that what my kid is living with has a name. An OFFICIAL name.

He’s also officially  using the most amount of words he’s ever used, putting sentences together, learning to be soft with baby sis, can walk into a crowded room sans-meltdown (most of the time). He’s officially moved on from Buzz Lightyear and Trains are his new jam.

And so we are OFFICIALLY ready for this journey. And we hope our friends and family are too, because we’re recruiting for Maximus The Great’s Army of Advocacy.

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This process was a bit tough to navigate so I plan on advocating and spreading education for those families who may not know where to turn or what to do if they expect their little one may the on the Spectrum. Stay tuned for more info and share this with a family member of friend going through it as well. There’s power in numbers!

Navigating the Pressures of Traditional Esposa Expectations

While I am half Mexican, half Polish, I was raised  by some incredibly vivacious Latinas.  And despite the fact that I do not speak Spanish (yes I know it’s a travesty, but I did take Spanish class every year from elementary through my sophomore year of college if that counts for anything) I grew up with what I would like to call Independent/Traditional Mexicanas.  A bit coconutty, as they were Air Force brats who all look caucasian, they all had that Latina flare, but with a sense of world view since they traveled all over the world.  I learned so much from my great grandmother, grandmother, mama, and my two aunts.  Looking back I can see how these women shaped my entire outlook.  It’s still a bit confusing now that I think about it, I can only explain it as being trapped between two worlds; holding strong feminist ideals, but coated with hardcore Latino traditions.  Let me explain…

I grew up as an only child with a single mom and three generations of women who had been through lifetimes of experience.  I was the only grandchild/niece for nine years, the only thing I could do was watch and learn from these five different women.  I watched and listened to their lives unfolding.  I feel as though they poured all of their knowledge into me, whether they knew it at the time, or not.  I watched them – all of them.  From the youngest auntie to the matriarch, my great grandmother.  I watched them find love, marry young, put on their makeup, struggle with their weight, cry through marital and life’s struggles, travel across the globe for love, pray, make more tortillas than I could ever count, work really hard, have babies, ride horses, grow old, dance with joy, serve their husbands, manage their households, and even struggle to maintain their Latina roots in a white world.  I learned how to be a woman from five different women ranging from their nineties to their early thirties. I didn’t have anyone to share their crazy with – it was just me taking it all in and most of the time being really confused.

They taught me to pay my own bills, use power tools, dress like a diva, to take conservative risks, to work my ass off “Because you need to be macha! You don’t need to rely on a man, learn to do it yourself.  Don’t be lazy! You make your own way and no one can tell you how to live, now go heat up tortillas for grandpa,” to get educated, to have a voice, to travel and of course I learned that a clean house was incredibly important, along with heating tortillas, and making dinner (which by the way I refused to learn because no one was going to tell me what to do.)

I could never understand how such “macha” women would end up doing everything in their marriages – cook, clean, be obedient wives, take care of their kids, work, run errands and somehow always look fabulous.  Don’t get me wrong – they all have this amazing fire about them, and boy can that fire turn into wild fire rather quickly, but no matter how mad they could be at their husbands, they still did everything! It was a paradox of feminism and keeping up with the what I thought were bizarre traditional expectations.  So like all head strong girls I said I would never get married because I just wanted to live for me.  I noticed they all lived for their husbands and children, and at the time, I did not understand this.  Amazingly the women in my family didn’t push me to get married, have babies, or to be someone I wasn’t.  They let me be me – because they understood and rejoiced in my freedom.

Until I met my Mexican Mr. Darcy… then it started.

Despite my intense love for my Mexi-Darcy, I still believed a marriage should be 50/50.  I was NOT going to be the one making dinner, serving, washing, cleaning, and being the macha of the marriage.  And then it happened.  As soon as Darcy asked for my step dad and mama’s hand in marriage – the comments started… and it started with the men in the family first.

My very Mexican step father said, “You know, once you buy the cow, there’s no returns.” and my grandfather (whom I love as my father and respect with all my heart) sat down and told me to “be subservient, that is a wife’s role.  To listen and let him be the head of his household.” I understood where he was coming from and respected him, but I felt like I was going to vomit.  I was a modern chick – this was not how it’s supposed to be right? I could feel the anger begin to boil and felt my grandmother’s machisma start to rise within me!   I. DONT. THINK. SO!

I ignored all of this because in perfect fashion my Mexi-Darcy was as modern as me.  We went into our marriage understanding we would take care of each other and do away with the old school traditions of subservient behavior (even though I think sometimes he wished I was a little more demure).   And we did, but Lord help us, after the wedding the comments just kept coming from all sides of our families.

“Aren’t you going to get up and serve him? Wow… he has to serve him self… mija?”

“I would never do that, your husband should do those things.”

“Where are the tortillas? You know he needs tortillas right?”

“You mow the lawn? Aye no!”

“Wait – he went grocery shopping?  He works so hard, you should be doing that.”

“Why aren’t you cooking? Poor Chris has to do all the cooking.”

“You shouldn’t be so loud. He should make the decisions.”

The struggle it took to not say a word… After we said “I do” it seemed I needed to be two people; the modern working macha woman and the traditional wife.  Navigating my way through this felt awkward at times, nit because of Mr. Darcy’s expectations, but everyone else’s.  He loved me just as a I was and we were in this marriage together, but I still heard the voices of all those women in my head.

I tried it for a little bit and felt as though I was losing myself.  And then it hit me… everyone loses themselves in their marriage.  They become someone different because of traditions, comments, expectations, experience, time and struggle.  Marriage changes people.  I look back at all of the women in our families and realized – it all started because they wanted to please, and pleasing became spoiling, and spoiling became an expectation, then the expectation turned into a learned tradition of behavior.  They lost themselves in pleasing.  While I’m all for pleasure on both sides of the marital coin,  I don’t want anyone to truly lose themselves to being a servant.

I had to stop and remember the core of what I witnessed growing up and make it my own modern version, with my modern Mexican husband.  We still hold to certain traditions, but they’re OUR traditions.  I do the laundry because he hates doing the laundry.  He cooks because I HATE COOKING!  I clean because I love a clean house (I can hear the women in my family are rejoicing) and I only use my macha voice when it’s absolutely necessary.  And by God I love using power tools!

As a fourth generation woman in my family and the eldest of all of the little cousins I want to take the best of each of the women who raised me and give it to my daughter.  And there is so much beauty from those five women to share that will last for generations to come.  I love you family.

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Texas Latino Bloggers Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop

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This post is a part of the #TXLatinoBlog Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop. Visit the bloggers listed below as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month together/juntos! Follow the hashtag #TXLatinoBlog on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too.

Que Means What – Being Latina Enough – Wednesday, 9/14

MexiMoments – Importance of Learning the Language as a Child – Thursday, 9/15

The Social Butterfly Gal – Mentoring Young Latinas – Friday, 9/16

Juan of Words – Mexican-American Culture – Monday, 9/19

Sweet Life– Food Recipes – Tuesday, 9/20

The Optimistic Heathen – Sharing Our Heritage with the Kids – Wednesday, 9/21

Modern Tejana – How to Live Your Latinidad in Mixed-Race Families – Thursday, 9/22

The Esposa Experience – Navigating the Pressures of Traditional Esposa Expectations – Friday, 9/23

The Nueva Latina – Mexican Independence Day in Guadalajara – Saturday, 9/24

FitFunAnd.com – Self-Reflection and Latino Outdoors – Sunday, 9/25

VodkaGirlATX – Latin-Inspired Cocktails – Monday, 9/26

Momma of Dos – How Mexican I grew up! – Tuesday, 9/27

Family Love in My City – Immigration – Wednesday, 9/28

Creative Meli – Basic and Healthy Latin Cooking – Thursday, 9/29

Mejorando Mi Hogar – Being Latino or Hispanic – Friday, 9/30

Power to Prevail – Body Shame in Latino Culture – Monday, 10/3

Teatrolatinegro – Latin@ Theatre Show in Houston – Tuesday, 10/4

Candypo – Being a Latino Military Spouse – Wednesday, 10/5

Coppelia Marie – Am I a Bad Latina Mom? – Thursday, 10/6

The Restaurant Fanatic – Cocina Latina – Friday, 10/7

Haute in Texas – Mothering Latinas When You’re Not a Latina – Monday, 10/10

– See more at: https://www.moderntejana.com/what-hispanic-heritage-month-means-to-this-latina-mom-of-white-sons/#sthash.JhH5OSo8.dpuf

Happy Anniversary Esposa! – A letter to my Esposa Janeli

Dear Esposa Janeli,

On the heels of our one year anniversary of working together on the The Esposa Experience I felt like I needed to let you know a few cosas.

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As an esposa and mama it can be incredibly difficult to find friends who you have a soul connection with, ones you can TRULY rely on during the really hard times, as well as, the fabulous times, in between times – you get my drift.  While we were friends before we started out esposa journey together, I feel like our friendship grew even more once I joined your mission to blog/vlog about the real esposa experience.

I wanted to say thank you – thank you for bringing me into the Esposa Experience, thank you for always keeping it real, having my back, making me laugh when I couldn’t, being yourself, sharing your heart, twerking in my living room, slaying the camera, calling it like it is – even if I do not understand what you’re saying because it’s in really fast Spanish, trying to teach me the pop sound with my mouth, that I still can’t manage to do, helping me not be too much of an old millennial, and sharing your esposa experiences with me.

I was reviewing photos from our recent photoshoot for Morris Kaye & Sons and I realized how much we, as women and moms, have grown in one year, how much I rely on your point of view, sharing news with you, just venting about life, or how you had to be the first person I had to tell about how Vivian (our vivacious three year old) looked at my boobs while I was changing and said, “You gotta pick those up guuuurl!” (lord baby jesus help me!)

So, while I could go on and on, I’m keeping short and sweet.  As per my usual, I’m drinking a tasty bevie and toasting to us! Cheers to many more wild years of The Esposa Experience and more importantly to our friendship.

Much love,

Exposa Dani

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Reliving your Boda

As we celebrate our One year anniversary (can we get a “WHOOP!”, no make that a “WEPA!”) we can’t help but realized we never made this thing official! There was no cake, no dancing, no big dresses, no honeymoon…but the we remembered, we’re already married. To men. That we love very much. haha!

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It did however make us also realize all the things we did do at our weddings, and regret the things maybe we shouldn’t have done. Why did Janeli need 20 bridesmaids? Maybe Dani should’ve had one less drinky poo (or not).

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All this pondering had us thinking what went wrong with you at either your wedding,or,if you’re an Esposa to be, a friends/sisters wedding? What, if anything, would you do differently? Do you have a confesion about your boda?  If you are an Esposa/o to be, what is your fantasy wedding? We wanna know it all! Mostly so we can offer advice as event professionals, but also cause we like chisme.

But seriously we don’t want ya repeating mistakes we made, and want to kow how you either avoid making mistakes at other events, or how you can help your sister, friend, mejor amiga/o at their wedding.

Let us know by either leaving a comment, commenting on our facebook page or sending us an email at EsposaExperience@gmail.com Subject Line “Boda Confessions”

We’ll share your “confessions,” regrets, questions, comments etc. on the blog. If you want to be annoynmous, just let us know-we won’t blow your cover 😉

 

 

 

❤ The Esposas

The ingredient every Esposa needs in her marriage.

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Jake and I are blessed with a great group of young friends….they keep us young ( I feel so old saying that). They often give us sweet compliments like “y’all are #goals!”, or “I love your relationship” and I must admit, it love it too. We’re proud of it, it took work for us to be as happy as we are today. Love came strong and easy for us, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, that’s for sure. And through all the tears, arguments, make ups, date nights, “come to Jesus” meetings, and everything else in between we found there are a couple of secret ingredients to marriage. Well, there are many but today I’ll choose two.

The first is that marriage is a CHOICE. everyday. Choose to commit to those vows, choose love, choose your marriage. And the second one is instrumental. And no, it’s not Love.

What’s more important than love? That’s all The Beatles say we need, right? well, I’m here to tell ya, they were WRONG!

I WISH all it took was love. In marriage, I feel, the rate of affection is fluid. There are some days, where that man i married is the most fine, most sweet, most romantic husband you would have ever met. and there are other times, where he’s….well he just doesn’t hit it out the park. And then, sometimes, those days can come more frequent, and even turn into weeks where he has his game is just not on point….and I am guilty of the same!

But even when Mercury is in retrograde, the hours at the office run long, and y’all haven’t had “Esposo and Esposa time” in a while this secret ingredient that will take you through those “womp-womp” days and back into the swing of things: RESPECT.

2 days after my wedding, my grandmother kissed me goodbye and gave me some sage advice as grandmothers are wont to do; She said “El Respeto es lo mas importante en el matrimonio…cuando no hay respeto, no hay amor verdadero.” Basically, she said if there’s no respect, there is no true love. I smiled and said “si Abuelita” but I most definitely did not take in the advice…not that I didn’t respect my husband, but because I was so wrapped up that new honeymoon romanticism that respect took a back burner.

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seriously in love. 

And then we were tested and I mean TESTED that first year of marriage. Life threw all sorts of lemons at us, and in those moments I wanted to crumble, my husband whipped up some lemonade in a big old picture called Respect.

I may disagree with my husband, we may have few similar interests, and he may not be the best at communication even seven years in, but he is the most hard working, kind, selfless and lovely man with the most integrity you will ever meet. He thinks faster on his feet more than anyone I know (and that’s saying a lot for someone in PR), and he is always, ALWAYS there. He will always be there for the ones he loves, and even the ones he doesn’t love as much…he is  a rock for so many.

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So even when I’m wrapping my brain around another issue and asking myself “why did I marry this nerd?” I know, that no matter what happens between us, I will always respect my husband for the man he is outside of us. The man who puts family first, above all.

Love can be a fickle thing. It can come, go, shrink and grow. But Respect, although it is capable of fluctuating, is harder to do so. Respect should be poured, equally form both parties into your  marriage.

From an Amiga’s Perspective.

Autism.  It’s a word we read about, hear about and might even see if we happen to have a family member, or friend who has a child on the autism spectrum.  While I’ve read about it, seen it and listened about it from the perspective of families who have an autistic child, I’ve never read anything from the perspective of a friend.  So, when my Esposa Janeli asked me to write about my perspective I felt like it was an opportunity to share what’s in my heart.

Yep – it’s one of those blog posts…

I’ve been privileged to have a few friends with the most incredible children, who were born autism, a beautiful genetic disposition.  I’ve learned, listened and observed, the one things I can say is – these mothers and fathers are some of the most amazing, honest, loving human beings I’ve ever met.  I’m not trying to be mushy here, it’s real.  If you have a best friend or family member who has a child on the autism spectrum you know exactly what I’m talking about.

In this particular post I want to talk about my experience with my Esposa Janeli and my beloved Maximus.  I met Janeli and Jake when they were first dating and watched them grow their love and family over the past few years – AND WHEN I MEAN GROW THEIR FAMILY – I MEAN LIKE REALLY GROW THEIR FAMILY!  These two took the term “honeymooning” to another level with all that love going on *wink *wink!  And like I’ve always said, “Get it gurl!”

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In all seriousness, I need to take a moment to describe this family, maybe not how others might see them, but how I see them.  Stay with me here.  If I don’t describe them to you, you might not understand the whole point of what I’m trying to convey.  Keep reading.

The Castrejana family, who honestly seems more like a colorful, wild tribe. A family of six! That’s a lot of people!   Janeli is a mermaid-haired mama who calls it like she sees it – in English, Spanish, or slang depending on who she’s talking to, takes shit from no one, loves as a hard as her addiction to coffee and makeup, manages to be an entrepreneur, mom and overall badass with her punk rock-like, star trek obsessed, humanitarian, incredibly loving and dedicated husband in tow.  Both with open hearts and snarky wit.  They would do anything for the people they love – no matter how crazy their lives might be – they make the time.  They’re those people.  The outgoing, loud, crazy, kind of weirdo type people who I have a deep soul connection with (well mainly Janeli – love you Jake, but your love of Star Trek takes points off – Star Wars all the way bro).

They’ve managed to create some of the most wondrous children.  The eldest, Amelia, a ten-year-old beautiful fairy-like creature with a heart of gold, four-year-old Ocho – who by all accounts is an old soul with a flair for music and the ladies, three-year-old Max who has a smile worth millions in gold and will be NASA’s next famous engineer and finally the baby beauty Ezri, over one year of age and slaying it in her unicorn pants and pigtails!

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Max is at high risk of being on the autism spectrum. He awaiting formal diagnosis from a developmental pediatrician, but his speech therapists, occupational therapists, family, and friends, like me.  know he’s somewhere on the spectrum.  I remember, when he was barely walking, Janeli said, “I think Max might be on the spectrum.”  It struck me.  I didn’t know what to say, or how to respond.  I just listened and honestly I felt like she might be jumping the gun.  He was just a baby – how could she possibly know that?  I was baffled.

Lesson #1 – Never underestimate the power of a mother’s intuition and do your best not to judge her with judgy mom thoughts.  She’s not crazy, she just knows.

She was right.  The more Max grew, the more apparent it became that he saw and processed the world around him differently than other toddlers.  And so I listened – without judgement.  There were times when I listened to my vibrant friend as she cried because no one was hearing her, how family didn’t believe what she was saying, how the resources for her child at his age were so limited. I saw her anger build as more and more family and friends looked at her like she was insane for saying Max was on the spectrum – she’s not a doctor, so how would she know?  Oye esta – she’s just crazy.

But she did know. SHE KNEW ALL ALONG.

I watched her at birthday parties when Max reacted to the chaos of a toddler birthday party with tons of people running around, colors flashing, annoying toddler music blaring, kids singing, laughing, and others screaming with fun. I mean now that I think about it – I left there exhausted, irritated and needing an adult beverage.  Max reacted with fits of yelling, crying, screaming and biting – she and Jake had the look of sheer frustration and possibly a moment of embarrassment as other parents looked at them while they handled the stress of the moment, not to mention managing their other little ones.  I observed her as she never once apologized for the incident, but rather took that moment to educate us that Max was on the spectrum.

I observed her remove herself and Max from the big groups during parties to play with him in other quieter areas to make him feel more comfortable.  I was there when he pushed other kids away because he was simply uncomfortable and she had to apologize and explain to their parents why it happened.  I saw the angst on her face and her actions every single time.

I watched the others around us, no one knew what to do.  They would either ignore the situation, or say nothing.  Sometimes teacher friends would step in and give her awesome encouragement, but majority of the time silence was the visitor in the room.  Which didn’t make anything better, instead it made it awkward.

Despite the uncomfortable moments, embarrassment, and frustration JANELI HAS NEVER STOPPED.

She never stopped bringing Max to the birthday parties, she never stopped integrating him into social situations, she never ever, ever, and to this day, will never give up.

Janeli might tell you she’s a hot mess on so many levels, (we all are) but there’s one thing you can never say – you can never say she isn’t consistent in her tenacity and persistence in ensuring Max is given the same love and opportunities as other kids.

Lesson #2:  Saying and doing nothing is BS. Get over your fear.

I’ve learned that saying/doing nothing makes things worse.  I believe we don’t do anything out of fear of getting involved, or saying/doing the wrong thing.  Well trust me when I say parents of children with Autism, or any disability for that matter, have heard it all! They would rather have your help and encouragement than none at all.  Your social norms aren’t their social norms, if you think you feel awkward, how the hell do you think they feel?

Not just as parents, but as women we must stick together.  Put your fear aside, get off your ass and make the effort to help your friend in distress.  Whether it be grabbing their other kids and taking them to do something, jumping in to help however you can (in a calm and positive way), getting them a drink for a post-tantrum toast to them winning at this thing called “parenting,” be a listening ear, shoulder to cry on, cheer them on, encourage them, hug your friend, sing to them, make them laugh and most of all love their child as much as you love your friend.

It works.  You just have to stop yourself from being weird about it.

Lesson #3:  Go with the Flow

Whenever I’m with Max I go with the flow.  I feel out his mood and roll with it.  I’ve known Max all of his life, there are days when he loves me and others where I really don’t exist, but I love him just as he is.  I approach him with one open hand and a smile.

I let him come to me.  If he decides to hug me, I hug him hard. Soft touches or gently patting his shoulders are triggers and make him uncomfortable.  I get it – I hate when someone pats me – it’s annoying.  Plus, big hugs make for really good hugs!

If there’s water or dirt around – we’re all about it! Sensory is huge!  Swimming is where we really have a good time.  He’s all smiles and lets me hold him and twirl him in the water.  Feeling out the moment has been our jam and I’ve learned so much about him because I’m not worried, or nervous and he can sense that.

Watching a cartoon on our phone or iPad is awesome too. STOP YOURSELF FROM JUDGY THOUGHTS WHEN YOU SEE LITTLE ONES WATCHING ELECTRONIC DEVICES.  Sometimes this is a saving grace – autism spectrum, or not.  Hell – we can’t even take credit for our own child’s education – she learned her ABCs and 1,2,3s from Leap Frog videos! Thanks Leap Frog!

But I digress.

Lesson #4:  Dance it Out!

Earlier this year Janeli called me in tears scared to death that Max would stop speaking all together.  Her research found that some children on the spectrum lost their speech at age 3, as if they had never said a single word before.  She cried so hard because Max was starting to regress.  I heard her anger at the “system” for not having legitimate diagnosing processes and therapies for children under the age of four years.  She would be dammed if she lost this battle – she was NOT GOING TO LET IT HAPPEN!  I felt her heartache, I listened and I cried with her.  Then I prayed.

From that moment the goal was to not lose Max to his autism. And they didn’t lose.

A few months later Janeli called me in tears again, not because Max stopped talking, but because HE SAID NEW WORDS!!!! And from different ends of the phone – we danced!  We screamed a moment in joy and danced!  Not just because Max said a new word, but for every single moment it took for that to happen.

So here we are a few months later, still so many emotions every day.  Good days, bad days, days where she wants to punch the wall, pull out her hair and scream, but there are more exciting days than rough ones.  In fact – today Max said a huge word, a word that not only describes him, but his mother’s love.

Morale to this story of my perspective –  try hard not to judge because let’s get real at some point we all do it, but TRY not to, stop being scared, open your mind to different possibilities, roll with the moment, and love your friends

much love ,

Esposa Dani

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Maximus The Great

Maximus the Great: An Update

So many of you have shown such an outpouring of love during this process of diagnosing Max with potential autism. I’m getting lots of questions, suggestions, advice, and just love so we decided to dedicate an entire series of the blog  to Maximus the Great.

It’s been quite the journey the last several months. I first shared about my son having tested high risk for autism in a letter to him (which truly, was meant for me in a self reflecting way). Since then I got lots of feedback, majority was great, others weren’t so happy that I’d expose my life like that, especially since this is my son’s journey, not mine. But the truth is, it’s NOT just my son’s journey. It’s the whole family’s journey. It’s Ezri’s journey when he gives her a huge hug that doesn’t suffice to express his love for her, so she gets a love bite. It’s Octavius’  journey when Max gets frustrated with the game they’re playing so he hits and throws all the pieces on the ground. And of course, it’s mine and my husband journey every day. Every word he say, how structure the way we speak to Max so we don’t overwhelm him. Like saying “Ok, let’s get ready to go,” when we’re actually NOT ready to go, so Max runs to the door, but neither one of us has our shoes on, thus igniting a meltdown.

To make a long story short, Max’s old Daycare/Head Start did all they could to accommodate him when he transitioned into the Pre-K rooms, but warned that kids like Max weren’t successful in there. They kept his big bro in the room even though he’d aged out, they added a teacher in the room, they let him do his own thing when everyone else was in circle time, etc. But alas, sixteen Pre-Schoolers cannot be expected to understand much less accommodate what a kid like Max needs, so we had to remove him from the situation while his brother continued.

So it’s been Max and I (and sometimes Grandma when I have meetings) at the house. And I’ve seen such improvement. He’s speaking more, he’s biting less, he stresses out less-it’s good. But it isn’t permanent. I have amazing clients who are so flexible and understanding of my current situation, but he needs to be prepared when the time for Kindergarden comes. So we’re stuck in the waiting game, like so many others. Waiting for the next appointment to tell us what we likely already know. But it will be so great and such a relief to hear it from a professional’s mouth. I’ll remember to tell myself “be patient” the same way I tell Max and his siblings, while the school district gets to us in the long line of names awaiting assessment.

Until then, we’ll be learning more about each other and this world we live in together. We’ll discover that dollar store pool noodles, chopped into small donut like sizes serve as great (cheaper) ball pit alternatives, moving heavy laundry baskets around the house is a fun way to get sensory input, and that maybe I’m not such a terrible mom for letting him watch YouTube videos while I work, because he’s actually repeating words, and mimicking the social behaviors he sees in them. I’ll learn to be kinder to myself and more patient (I seriously just deleted “patienter”-lack of sleep, much?) when we’re having a bad day and I just can’t understand why this particular cheerio under his foot is making him scream, when yesterday, it was hilarious.

So stay tuned for more of Mommy and Max’s adventures. I hope to share more of our stories, so we feel less alone and cause we have the most supportive readers, friends, and familia!

 

-Esposa Janeli

“Here’s looking at you, Santikos”

You like my “Casa Blanca” reference?

IMG_0109Dani and I don’t like to stray too far away from home. Unless a client or friend calls, we don’t take the journey out to Alamo Ranch. I like to stay inside my “410 bubble”. But Santiko’s new Casa Blanca theater is SO WORTH THE TRIP!

 

Our friend Aquila over in Haute in Texas along with Santikos invited us out to the new theater to get a tour and learn about the Legacy of the Santikos family.

 

One of the reasons I chose San Antonio as my home was the sense of community and charitable souls who live in it. Mr. Santikos is a great example of giving back to the community which gave him a chance to grow his business into what it is today.

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The new theater is ENORMOUS. It is Texas-sized entertainment. The first 100% laser projection multiplex theater in the world-you will see every pore on that hottie Zac Efron’s face (yum!).

The fun doesn’t stop in the theater though….

 

With a 16 lane bowling alley, full-service sports bar, arcade and café….you can spend the whole day up in there!

 

As if all the splendor of the reclined seats, ginormous aisles (it’s the little things that make us curvy girls happy, right?) and a look at that delish menu, we really got to delve into and reflect on our favorite aspect of Santikos-it’s charitable heart.

 

Santikos Entertainment is the only theater group which operate as a social enterprise, it’s success directly benefits the community as it is organized by the San Antonio Area Foundation. We got to learn the history behind why Mr. Santikos wanted to leave a legacy and give back to his community, which makes me respect the organization even more and has turned me into loyal patron.

 

And now, for the good stuff. Santikos has given us some VIP passes to give to our wonderful Espos@s, Espos@s to be, and Solter@s…..so you get a date night on us!

 

To enter to win, tell us about your favorite movie and why in the comments below or on our Facebook page. We will announce a winner this Friday!

Northside World of Music Open House: May 7th

 

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This Saturday May 7th Northside World of Music will host an open house at 11918 Vance Jackson Road, with food, dancing, performances, and fun for the whole family!

Read more below about this gem of an organization:

I got an invite from local blogger Jeanelly  for a small event showcasing the Northside World Music School. I have been on the hunt to find a place to send my oldest to get guitar lessons he’s wanted since he was a baby.

I asked my mom to tag along, as she’s still new in town and we both need to get out more.

We drove a little ways north onto Vance Jackson, turned a corner and discovered a little diamond in the rough. The Northside World of Music is a new non-profit promoting inclusivity and diversity through music. Executive Director Sujata Venkateswar, spoke with a few of us bloggers about the history of the organization and what’s to come.

What I loved most learning about the organization its mission is to promote diversity and inclusion through the arts. I want my children to learn and appreciate other cultures as well as cultivate any talents they may have. They’re gonna know all about mariachis, cumbias, and reggaeton in the house, it’s up to me to get them out of the house and into other worlds!

 

 

The school offers an array of genres to select from, but are still in search of teachers, musicians, singers, etc. willing to share their craft. It’s currently undergoing through a facelift with a large campus plan in the works to better serve students and the community.

 

If you’d like to know about this organization, how you can help, or enroll in a program visit their website at  www.northsideworldmusic.org

 

(Side bar: the fact that my mom was in a room with 2 “Janelis” or Janeli and Jeanelly really blew who mind…like ya would’ve thought she stepped into the matrix, or something!)