Sunday, April 17, 2011

Autism Speaks: June 5, 2011

[As a precursor to this post, I have to mention that I received permission from T's mommy to blog about, and re-post, the "I Walk" poem in this. I have chosen to refer to my client as "T" to further protect his confidentiality.]

Jeff and I are excited to participate in the Autism Speaks walk in New York City on June 5, 2011 with one of my client's (T) and his family. We are walking because children and individuals like T, who have Autism, have made a profound impact on our lives here in Brooklyn and our heart for individuals with special needs.

On a personal level, there have been many days when I don't feel like rolling out of bed at 630am for work (we all have these days, don't we?) Having 100% energy for 8 hours a day can be exhausting, but-oh-so-fulfilling. As one of my first clients out of graduate school, thinking about T and the big hug I get from him upon entering his home has frequently served as my motivation to do my job, and do it well. What a blessing it is to serve children and families, enabling them to communicate, for a full-time job! No cubicle, office politics or computer screens for me!

T's family has also blessed me. His mommy is an advocate for her son, never settling for services (or service providers) who are just average. She fights for her son, and all other individuals who have Autism. She is an encouragement to me. His grandmother, grandfather and uncle attend team meetings and actually carry out strategies, goals and objectives in their daily routine and interactions with T.

Admittedly, after graduating from school I really wanted to be a Speech Pathologist in a hospital setting. Maybe it was a selfish desire - a desire to be a part of "healing the sick." I have wrestled with God a lot on this issue - isn't being a speech pathologist in a hospital more prestigious than a speech pathologist who works with 0-3 year olds? God has transformed my heart, and I am proud and honored to not "heal the sick", but "enable the able".

So, I will leave you with "I Walk" - T's mommy wrote this and it touched our hearts. I will also leave you with a link to our team's donation page... If anyone who has Autism has touched your heart, please feel free to donate... Money collected will help fund research and provide support for families of Individuals with Autism.

I Walk

I walk because you are my boo-boo. My first child. The 2nd grandchild.
I walk because you are mine.

I walk because I am a scientist. I'm aware of the significant findings that are produced in research.
I walk because I am your mother.

I walk because everyday you make me proud. You face your fears and don't even know it. You encounter sounds, sights and textures that make your body uncomfortable, yet you continue on.
I walk because you are brave.

I walk because people still look at us when we are out in public. They do not understand the narrating, the hand flapping, the escaping, and the lack of eye contact.

I walk because you are strong.

I walk because you are a gift. You have made me a better mother, a better person. You look at things from another perspective and give me insight and never cease to amaze me.

I walk because you are smart.

I walk because I do not know what typical is. Your stimming, your honesty, your perfectionism is now a part of me. I must think ahead and always think "what if". I have become a planner, a researcher, an emergency dispatcher, an advocate, an educator.

I walk because this is my life.

I walk because Autism has affected ALL OF US.

I walk because you are my hero and I love you!!!



CEO of Team T


Sunday, April 3, 2011

On Mommyhood (and letting go)

As a precursor to this post: NO I AM NOT PREGNANT - although I did recently become a momma to an 8-week old Portuguese Water Dog, Barnabas.

My mom came to visit me a few weekends ago. Although we didn't have Barnabas yet, we were able to go visit the puppies with her - it was so much fun! Per usual, we had a perfect weekend. My mom and I enjoyed some yummy dinner and drinks together on Friday night, followed by a Saturday morning run in the park, a visit to see 6 Portuguese Water Dog puppies and a relaxing evening watching movies with Jeff. My mom's visits are always short, but oh-so-sweet. Some of the things that I particularly miss about living near her are not monumental, but actually, small things like saturday morning jogs, watching trashy television, trips to Marshalls/TJ Maxx, delicious salads and Einsteins Bagels.

Momma and some of the puppies :)

Something my mom is a pro at is having a healthy "letting go" relationship with her kids. I'm confident that my mom misses me and hopes that we will soon move back to Michigan, but she has never made me feel guilty about moving away (despite my intense separation anxiety.) In fact, she consistently encourages me by telling me that she's proud of me for living on my own, away from her, in a big city. This "letting go" mentality is actually quite biblical. The Lord tells us that sometimes we will have to leave our families behind in order to follow Him. He also calls us to fully entrust Him with our family. If He calls me to live in the 'hood, a place that is not family-friendly, I am commanded to trust Him with my child's safety. This is a mentality I'm not yet capable of.

How do I know I'm not capable of fully entrusting my future children to the Lord? Sadly, my dog has taught me a lot. I can't even put him in his crate for 20 minutes without feeling "mommy guilt." In other words, I can't even trust God with my darn DOG, let alone a precious child. I know that I would not be able to have healthy boundaries with my children at this point in my life - I fear that I'm going to be an overbearing, over-protective mother that won't let her child take the bus to school, let alone go away for college or summer camp.

In addition, I've been questioning my mommy-patience. Because I work with children, and have worked with young children since I was in middle school, I assumed I would be great at fully loving a dog (or baby) despite midnight feedings and potty-breaks amidst barking (or crying.) lies. There have been times when I want to hit Barnabas because of his late-night barking. Does this mean I'm going to be a bad mom? Will it be different with children? I feel like a mommy failure.

motherhood: barnabas and i :)

In other words, I have a lot of control I need to let go of. When that happens, I'll let you know.

Much Love.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kindred Spirits

hello blogosphere readers - it's been awhile. to be honest, jeff and i have been SO busy with out-of-town guests for the past 5 weekends and, thus, i have been preoccupied with cleaning, cooking and ENJOYING our time here in brooklyn.

god is funny. in early january i was complaining to jeff about how i was lonely and craved some family and friends from michigan. well, he answered my prayer! not only have we have michigan visitors for the past 5 (well 6, if you count my mom's visit) weekends, but i have also spent time hanging out with my new york friends.

beginning in february, the exodus of michiganders to brooklyn began with jeff's college friend, nate. the next weekend my brother, pete, and dad visited. four days later, nate stayed with us again while he traveled to new york city for business. my sweet cousin michelle came the friday that nate left. jane, cam and jane's sister also visited us the same weekend michelle was here (although they stayed in a hotel.) cam obviously couldn't get enough of us because he revisited last weekend. and, finally, my momma is headed here now! to say the least, jeff and i have fully lived-in and loved brooklyn...and may have gained a few pounds from all of the delicious food that brooklyn boasts (we had to show our guests a good time!)

onto other things...

the idea of kindred spirits has been heavy on my heart. there are two ladies the lord has put into my life that seem to have many shared experiences, desires, hopes, baggage as me.

the first woman whom i feel is a kindred spirit is my cousin, michelle. although i was richly blessed by all of the michiganders, her visit had a significant impact on me. michelle and i make up 2 of the 17 cousins on my mom's side of the family. yes, there are a LOT of us. i used to hear stories about how people were best friends with their cousins growing up. in all honesty, i was never THAT close with my cousins.... her visiting made me appreciate my family. similar to me, michelle is a junior at michigan state university studying speech & language pathology (the BEST career choice, if you ask me.) she is an over-achiever, so sweet, dates an asian man, is indecisive, loves puppies and, most importantly, loves her momma. her relationship with my aunt ann reminds me of my own relationship with my mom. michelle loves to be home (you all know i LONG for home!), appreciates her mom's hard work and hopes to always live near her momma. as we spent time together, both texting our moms about every move we made, i was shocked by how much her own life mirrored mine.

on top of these visitors, i have also reconnected with a dear friend, caroline. caroline is married to one of jeff's high school friends, alex. like us, caroline is white and her husband, alex, is asian (taiwanese to be exact.) we met about 4 years ago, when we were 19 or 20 and still in college. after an initial email explaining some things i have been walking through spiritually and relationally, i quickly thought to myself, "lord, THANK YOU for answering my prayers." caroline is a prayer-warrior, loves her husband and so easy to talk to. we have similar interests, husbands with similar backgrounds and just clicked...

okay, i need to go pick my momma up...

much love!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


My dad and Retep (pete!) visited this weekend to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday. The time spent together was too short, but so sweet.

Tep is so serious...most of Saturday looked like bonding

we visited "eataly" which is like a GIANT zingermans run by mario batalli (spelling?) peter and dad relished in the fine meat and cheeses. yum.

Tep admitted he is finally starting to appreciate mushrooms.. here we are, in front of some delicious mushrooms :)

happy 60th birthday to my daddio! jeff and i took them to our favorite local place: chez oskar... we enjoyed spicy lamburgers, duck confit and monkfish.

thanks for coming out, dad and pete!

much love.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Forced Extended Sabbath: Relishing in being a [temporary] stay-at-home-wife

I mentioned in my previous post that I had a chaotic week. The New York City Department of Health just instituted a new law that bands me from working for the 2-6 week time period after I complete my Clinical Fellowship Year until my Licensure is actually issued. Whoa. This law is ONLY for Early Intervention Speech Therapists working in New York City limits. It doesn't affect Speech Therapists who work with anyone older than 3 or speech therapists who do early intervention outside of New York City limits. So, if I worked in a school or hospital, this new law would not affect me. OR if I worked on Long Island, Westchester or ANYWHERE ELSE IN NEW YORK, I would not be affected.

For those who read and are familiar with the field of Speech Language Pathology probably agree that this is utterly bogus. I can't start working somewhere else because I am not licensed (Speech Therapists are licensed in the state of New York, something I was previously unfamiliar with because Michigan recently received licensure and it had not been implemented by the time I completed graduate school.)

My company just informed me of this new law last Tuesday. For someone who gets paid per session, this could be completely devastating to my lifestyle. Gratefully, Jeff has taught me about savings, and we will make it through this season of unemployment. In addition, 2-6 weeks without speech therapy can be devastating to children who THRIVE on routine (ie., children with PDD or Autism.) The NYC Department of Health is only putting these children and families at a disadvantage.

I feverishly researched other options - but there are none. I'm starting to think that the Lord is FORCING me to take a break and rest until my licensure goes through. Jeff has encouraged me to look at this 2-6 weeks as an "extended sabbath." I've decided to commit to learning how to cook a few more dishes, amp up my running and do some pleasure reading.

Today was Day 1 of my extended Sabbath, and I won't lie - I loved it. I woke up at the same time as usual, hit the gym, did some grocery shopping, cleaned up the apartment, took a short nap, video-chatted with my sweet Ashley and tried out a new recipe: Chicken Tetrazzini (cooking light!) The chicken was delicious.
topped with delicious, crispy, home-made bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese

please note the tulips in the background - gifted to me by a family of one of my babies with a "I MISS YOU" painted card.. so sweet!

As a side dish, I sauteed up some green beans - Chinese style (garlic, soy sauce and crushed red pepper flakes.) The two dishes didn't necessarily compliment each other, but Jeff and I aren't picky - and they still were quite tasty!

So, I'm relishing in some unexpected time off... but still praying my licensure is approved swiftly!

Much Love.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sweet Lovin'

I know this post is a little delayed, but I've had another chaotic week.

Jeff swooned me (per usual) and took me to "The Painted Pot" - a ceramic painting place - for Valentines day. We decided to paint a dog bowl in anticipation of our puppy :) I picked it up yesterday, and THIS is our work of art:
our dog will be a nature-lovin' fool - as illustrated by the dirt and grass....

typical laura: including poop into artwork - i am so immature

After tapping into our artistic side, we enjoyed a delectable and romantic dinner at Scopello. Scopello is another Fort Greene gem - delicious italian food. I'm sure we will be enjoying it again with my family (whenever they visit.)

After stuffing our faces with carbolicious italian cuisine, we took a stroll down the brooklyn heights promenade (a sidewalk that runs parallel with the east river, overlooking manhattan) and reveled in this spectacular view of manhattan:

The Brooklyn Bridge

Jeff and I feel a transition coming.. We're not really sure what this looks like, but I'm not really ready to write about it.. To be continued :)

Much Love.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Living a Simple, and Fruitful, Life

Dad, Jeff and I on Christmas, 2010!

Whoa...we are quickly realizing our February and March are jam packed with weekend visitors. Such an answer to my prayer (as noted here Tumultuous New Year) Beginning February 19, we have visitors through the second weekend in March! I feel really blessed because my Dad and Peter will be coming out for my dad's 60th birthday! Not only has the Lord blessed us with out-of-town visitors, I have felt really blessed by the lovely ladies in my small group.

Jeff and I have been really trying to lead a simple, organized life. It was initially put on my heart when reading Oswald Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest" on January 26. Ozzie was discussing how Christians have such a hard time maintaining the simplicity in their lives. I know I become SO wrapped up in my job, my goals, moving home, shoveling the snow, writing emails, reading books, church events, small group, making friends, cleaning my toilet.. I just CANNOT live a simple life. Ozzie uses Matthew 6:30, "If God so clothes the grass of the field.. how much more will he clothe you?" to highlight this idea of simplicity. If God clothes the grass of the field, how MUCH MORE will he clothe/provide for me?
As we were pondering this point, a few things came to mind:
  1. we have way too much stuff. not just jeff and i, in particular, but EVERYONE. we have too much furniture, too many boxes of old clothes, too many books, too many blankets, way too many dishes, too much house...
  2. in order to be simple, i need to lead an organized life. thus, i have put together a new schedule for myself so i can enjoy quality time with my husband and friends - and, more importantly - prioritize time with the Lord.
So, Jeff and I have committed to waking up about 10 minutes earlier than normal to have a short quiet time with the Lord. For me, personally, I also need at least 45 minutes 5x/week to exercise. I feel better, more rejuvenated, and energetic when I prioritize exercising. So, my daily schedule looks like this:
  • 640am: wake up, 10-15 minutes in prayer, journaling, reading the Word
  • 655-740am: breakfast, getting reading for the day, organizing dinner
  • 740am: leave for work (i also get to drive jeff to his subway stop)
  • 820-420: work! my schedule changes and is flexible, but generally, these are my hours
  • 445-530ish: work out
  • 53-630: make/eat dinner
  • 630-930: quality time with jeff (i go to bed early!)
  • 930/10pm: bedtime!
Of course, my schedule is flexible and changes on a weekly basis. For example, if a girlfriend wants to go out for dinner/coffee one evening, i try to schedule it on Monday or Tuesday so it doesn't interfere with my laundry/cleaning evenings...if it doesn't work, no big deal! I can clean/do laundry on a different night!

Also, I have been committed to doing laundry and cleaning our house mid-week, so I have more time for jeff and social things on the weekends. I do laundry on Wednesday nights and clean on Thursday nights.

Saturdays and Sundays are officially cleared for relaxing, sight seeing, date-nights and social time. Today, I got to spend the majority of my time doing this:
Time with the Lord, personal reading and a hot cup of tea (sweetened with Silk Soy Chocolate Milk!) (PS: Thanks to Neil Tambe for the Spirit of Detroit photo!)

In addition to scheduling my time, Jeff and I have also been committed to a budget (although we have never kept our "ideal" budget, we are close! we have been tweaking it since december to better fit our needs and financial goals.)
I really want this "simple" living to begin to transform the food we eat. Jeff and I love junk, fatty foods.. So I am slowly trying to learn how to make, and buy, more healthy choices. I haven't transitioned to organic yet, but i'm considering it! I know it's something I will want to do when we have children - it doesn't hurt to start now!

On a totally separate note, have you heard about how the East Coast has been DRENCHED with snow? It's true. It's funny that the winter I live in New York City we receive more snow than MICHIGAN (and have set some records!) Snow makes it harder for me to do my job -- traveling from house to house when I can't dig my car out, or when the bus and subway services are suspended, make it VERY difficult. Oh well, I have learned to graciously accept a snow day as a gift from the Lord :)

Jeff faithfully digging our car out of the snow. Happy snow day to us!

Happy first week of february, everyone!

Much Love.