Ethan’s Progress Report

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Jumping back into a school routine was not easy, but it also was not as hard as I expected.  Monday went great, in part, I believe, because we were all rested and refreshed.

Unfortunately, that only lasted for one day, because we had a severe thunderstorm on Monday night, and it threw us all off for Tuesday.  Luckily, it was a half day for Ethan because of Speech Therapy, so he was able to rest during the afternoon.

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His speech and communication is definitely progressing.  He has added many “B” words – ball, bath, bus.  He does tend to drop the last consonant, but he uses the words in context.  In addition to his new words (and the above are just a few examples), he also has a much stronger desire to communicate than we have ever seen.  When I spoke to his special education teacher on Thursday, she completely agreed.

We are all very excited about his progress this year, and we see many more positive improvements in the coming weeks, months, and years.  We likely have some very exciting news that will help our sweet Ethan tremendously.  When/if everything is finalized, I will discuss it.  I just want to make sure that it all works out first.

I will say this to any parent who has a child with any kind of needs, whether it is because they are language delayed, gifted and talented, sick, etc.  Please always remember that you are your child’s best advocate and sometimes his only voice.  We have had doctors tell us crazy things.  Crazy things.  We have been told that if Ethan was not talking by 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 that he would not talk.  Well, guess what?  Most of his language development has happened between the ages of 5 and present.  Do not let a book or a specialist or any negativity determine your child’s future.  Never stop fighting for them.  Never stop believing in a better future.

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We do not know what Ethan’s future holds anymore than we know what is in store for Gabriel and Summer.  What we do know is that we will support and encourage them every step of the way.  No matter how old they get, I will always be their mom, and I will move mountains for them.

Ethan is currently paving his own path, just as Summer and Gabriel are.  When I was registering Summer for Kindergarten, I wrote on her form that Gabriel and Ethan have been paving the way before her, which is true.  But, once she starts school, she will start paving her own way, just as Gabriel did and just as Ethan is.  Yes, Gabriel’s footsteps lead the way before them right now, but they will all add their prints on this family path, road, journey.

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I will not say that there is not some heartbreak along the way.  On Thursday, I was quizzed by some children about Ethan.  “Why does his eye look the way it looks?”  He has a birthmark, and we think that it makes him unique, makes him beautiful.  I just simply answered, “It is a birthmark?  Do you have a birthmark anywhere?” to which I continued to be grilled by these two six-year olds.  “Is that why he talks the way that he does?”  I paused and thought about what to say to these children, who were clearly not asking questions out of a desire to know more about my child.  I considered explaining what we know about his current diagnosis, but I knew that it would all be way over their heads.  And, once again, they really did not care about the real answer.  I just simply answered, “No, that is not why.” and continued to swing my sweet boy.

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I was a little bit saddened that I could not protect him from mean-spirited children who might try to crush his spirit, and I was talking to his teacher about it at school on Friday.  She assured me that no one has ever treated him that way in her classroom, and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that she was telling me that truth.  And, even more than that, I knew that she would never allow it, nor would any of the teachers at our school.  As we were talking, I was watching my sweet boy.  Class had already started because we were late.  That did not phase him one bit.  He put up his backpack, got his chair, headed across the room to get his book box, went back to his desk, and started reading his book.  It was a small moment, but it was a huge moment, too.  Yes, there will be people along the way who try to crush his spirit.  There are just those people in the world.  But, he is making such strides and definitely paving his own path, writing his own story, and changing, inspiring, and improving lives along the way.

Our Story

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Since I have several new readers and have received some questions about Ethan and about our family, I wanted to give a brief little overview of why I started Cooking for My Kids.

Well, I actually started it to chronicle our life as we were going through some diet changes that we thought would benefit Ethan.  But, after Ethan and I both got sick making the diet changes, we ran some tests on both of us to make sure that we could, in-fact, tolerate gluten and dairy.  The results indicated that we could resume our normal diet, adding back in gluten and dairy, while still balancing out everything with protein, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

So, what started as a place to chronicle our diet evolved into a place for me to share our life, our journey through recipes and stories.  This has become my place to share my heart, dream about unicorns and rainbows, and discuss what is going on with our family of five.

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Ethan is a big part of why I continue this blog.  I often say that I just want everyone to be touched by his magic.  Ethan is our middle child.  He is seven years old, and he is sweet, loving, kind, polite, and very observant.  He notices when something is different or when someone is sad.  He feels with all of his heart and soul, and when you look at him and touch him, that magic is almost transferred so that everyone can feel that deeply, as well.

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Ethan is also primarily non-verbal.  We are not sure why.  Even in the several months since I have started this blog, I have changed his story and the about page because we continue to receive new/different information about his diagnosis.  Currently, he is being tested and evaluated to see if he has Verbal Apraxia, which is also referred to as Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  Many of his symptoms seem to fit, but it is a diagnosis that does not come tied up neatly in a little box.  It is one that is made after careful observation, testing, and evaluation.

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So, basically, I started this blog for my family, and I continue it for my family.  It is my space to journal, tell stories with pictures, and share recipes that I have created and/or found through this wonderful blogging community that I am discovering each day.

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If you want updates each time I publish a recipe or story, you can do that by clicking here.  If you want to follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I can be found here or hereInstagram is one of my favorite ways to communicate through pictures.  I share a little bit of food mixed with a lot of family.  We are discovering that pictures is one of the languages that Ethan speaks, so it means even more to me to continue taking pictures and sharing our story in a way that is important to my family.

For a general overview the About tab is a great place to start.  Below it, I also have a post introducing you to all three littles.

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Also, I have a tab for Ethan’s Story.  Below it, there is a tab for his Birth-1 Year story, as well as all of his Progress Reports, which I write on a weekly basis.

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Until/if I feel called to change directions, I will continue to share our story, our life through food, family, and fun…with sprinklings of rainbows, unicorns, and maybe even some fairy dust along the way.  While special needs certainly does not define our story, I can honestly say that it makes every single day just a little brighter, a little more magical, and a little more special.

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I hope that you enjoy our family journey.  If you have any questions or kind comments, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

Joy, Encouragement, and Hope

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Recently, I have given a lot of thought to how much information I share about our family.  And, I have also thought about what a glimpse of our day, our week, looks like to other people, some of who know us in real life, as well as some who only know us because of this blog.

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I started writing because we were at a huge turning point in our journey with Ethan, one that impacted our entire family because it was about our food decisions.  I honestly needed to try to make sense of it all, and I also wanted to have an outlet where I could express how, if, why food had changed our every day life.  Since then, we have had some forks in the road, and even though our food choices have gone back to more of a family normal, other things have continued to make our journey an interesting one.  And, I wanted to keep sharing.

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Before I sat down to start my blog, I had never tweeted, posted a status update, pinned something on a virtual board, or taken an Instagram.  I started it all as a way to became more technologically savvy and to share our story.  All of it was new to me, and I definitely knew that I had “tourist” plastered all over everything that I did.  Even though most people who know me in real life assume that I am an extrovert, quite the opposite is true.  I receive the big introvert mark on all of the tests.  What seems extroverted is the fact that I do love to connect with people, to find commonalities, and to nurture and love the best way that I know how, usually through words or food.  But, even though I knew that it was very apparent that I had no clue what I was doing, it was very important to me to make sure that I remained true to myself, to my family, to our story.

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So, when I read a Yahoo article this weekend, I was extremely disheartened.  It discussed the pros and cons of Facebook.  The study found that people who are on Facebook are often unhappy because they see the smiling faces of other people and just assume that their lives are happier.  The article primarily referred to a younger generation of people.  But, to me, that was even more concerning.  That is the very generation that needs a good boost of self esteem every single day, not to be brought down by the profile of people who choose to share the good moments, the happy moments, the best moments about their lives.

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That made me think about my own life, my own profile, my own blog.  I have had people ask me, after reading my blog, if I ever have a bad day.  The truth is, of course, yes I have bad days.  There are days that I worry about Ethan’s future, whether he will be more verbal, or how his ulcers and reflux will continue to impact his over-all health.  There are days that I worry about how Summer will handle Kindergarten, if the other girls will be nice to her, or how well she will listen to the teacher.  And, there are days when I worry about how in the world I can let Gabriel start middle school in just over two years, how much I have prepared him for handling a world that is not always kind and sweet, or how well he can handle the pressure of a world that is so driven by academics and perfection.

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Those are not the things that I choose to share here every day.  There are days when my heart will know that I need to write about those things, to put them all out there on this blank canvas just to try to make sense of it all.  However, most days I choose to focus on all of the beauty that surrounds my life – my amazing husband, sweet children, loving family.  So, while my life is definitely not perfect, I will show more of the happy pictures than the sad ones.  I want to give people hope, to allow everyone to see that obstacles can be overcome.  I want the light that surrounds my Ethan, the one that surrounds all of my littles, to be spread to others.

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And, what I have discovered along the way is that there is so much goodness in the world.  While people often watch the news or read the paper and hear or see so much of the bad, I am finding quite the opposite to be true.  I believe that people more often than not have good intentions, kind hearts, compassionate spirits.  People want to have someone to cheer for, someone to pray for, someone to give them hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

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As I have mentioned before, when I started writing, I never thought that anyone except family and close friends would read it.  But, the more I wrote, the more I realized that I had a story to tell, one that I believe is a true-life fairy tale.  And, I decided that our family was capable of bringing joy, encouragement, and hope to others.  I have found that Ethan’s stories are some of the most popular blog posts, and, while I do love sharing recipes, it brings me even more joy to share my family.

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I hope that you will continue to follow along on our journey.  Even though you do get only a small glimpse of our lives, it is my heart’s desire to continue to spread joy, happiness, and hope…mixed with some unicorns, rainbows, and fairy dust along the way.

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