“It’s Like He’s In His Own Little World,” She Said.

Being in a new place – with new surroundings, new people, new sounds, new lights, new everything – can be trying for any child. However, for my Jack it’s A LOT. It’s a challenge and something we all have to work hard towards together as a family. But we do it. We want to. Albeit a lot easier, we don’t want to always stay in our comfort zone of home.

When the environment gets to be too much for Jack, he stims a lot more (in his case, jumping and flapping) in order to calm himself and process all of this unfamiliarity. When this is happening, he may not be able to take everything in around him. He needs to block out certain things in order to process just what he can at that given time.

As we walked through the lobby of the hotel last week during the kid’s Spring break, with all the newness completely surrounding him, my Jack was jumping, flapping and humming away. I tried to take him by the hand so he wouldn’t bump into the group of people I saw walking right towards us, which he was obviously oblivious to.

Jack almost walked straight into a woman who was trying to make eye contact with him and get his attention. “It’s like he’s in his own little world,” the women said aloud, as the group all innocently chuckled in agreement and stared at my sweet Jack.

The woman then said loudly directly to Jack: “Hi there, what’s your name?” to which it would appear that he either did not hear or blatantly ignored.

“This is Jack,” I replied, as I knelt down to Jack’s level to get his attention.

As I gently grabbed ahold of his fluttering hands and gained eye contact with my boy, I prompted “Say ‘hi,’ Jack.”

“Hi Jack!” my sweet boy parroted. His jumping had now gained a bit more momentum and he tugged my hand to continue on our way.

The woman and I quickly exchanged smiles and we all went on our separate ways.

You see, no matter how far I think we have come, being out in public always humbles me and puts the reality into perspective.

They didn’t know that Jack has come a long way and this was AMAZING behavior for him in a new environment like this. They didn’t know that for a while it truly did seem like he was in his own little world; a scary, isolated world at times. They didn’t know just how much that little world has grown with a lot of hard work and patience. They didn’t know that a year ago we would be dealing with tantrums and epic public melt-downs. To them, he looked like a typical 3 year old boy that was overly excited and just distracted for a brief moment.

It’s in moments like these that make me pause for a moment and look back on how far we have come. To focus on how Jack continues to make huge strides.

The woman’s innocent comment did not offend or bother me in the least. She truly meant well and genuinely attempted to interact, which I so appreciate. I prefer that versus the stares that we sometimes get, believe me.

As this month of Autism Awareness soon comes to an end, my hope is that you came across a story, a share, a friend’s voice that opened your eyes to the world of autism and maybe had you see it in a different light, a brighter light.

For this, my friends, is why I continue to share our journey.

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Four Simple Words I Wish People Would Say, Instead Of “I’m Sorry,” When They Learn Someone Has A Child With Special Needs.

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With April being World Autism Month, I wanted to share something that’s been on my heart lately in hopes to help “Light It Up Blue.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the words “I’m sorry,” since Jack was diagnosed with autism last year. I’ve honestly lost count.

First, I want to say that this is not to knock anyone or make them feel badly about how they react when they learn about a child who has special needs. You see, prior to having my own child that is autistic, I most likely had a similar response: I’m sorry. Frankly, I just didn’t know what else to say.

Secondly, you all know I share lots of stories, pictures and videos of our boy. I do this not only because I’m so very proud of him and how far he has come, but more importantly I share in order to raise awareness and acceptance of autism. Our sweet Jack continues to leave me in awe of his abilities and strengths and I love sharing that with the world.

By raising awareness, my hope is to show special needs through a different light. To show that it’s not just about what the disability keeps him from accomplishing, but instead highlight what makes him unique, special and different.

With all of that said, let me get back to hearing those words when people learn that Jack has autism…

When I hear “I’m sorry,” not only does it get a bit awkward, but I usually find myself scrambling to explain just how amazing he is and assuring them that they really don’t have to be sorry.

Because of this, I came to realize that maybe most people just don’t know what to say when they hear this news, like I didn’t before having Jackie.

So, take it or leave it, but here is my bit of advice: instead of feeling or saying sorry when you learn of a parent having a child with special needs, I encourage you to respond with these 4 simple words:

“Tell me about them.”

Is that parent going through some HARD stuff right now, probably entering a whole new world they never imagined themselves in – this new world of special needs parenting?

Absolutely.

And sure, maybe they will want to vent and talk about just how incredibly stressful, overwhelming and confusing it all is. But hear me out; instead of apologizing to that parent, take a moment to ask about their child and find out a little more about them. No matter what the child’s special needs are, I’m willing to bet that the parent sharing with you would LOVE to also share the amazing qualities that make their little one perfectly imperfect.

So entering this month of autism awareness and acceptance, I encourage you to follow-up with those 4 simple words to parents that share with you that they have a very special little one in their lives:

“Tell me about them.”

I guarantee that you will learn about one very incredible little being.❤️

Well Hello, 40, It’s Nice To Finally Meet You.

Well, hello 40.

Nice to meet you. I have been anticipating this meeting for quite some time now. At first, I was terribly dreadful of meeting you. Then, the feeling turned into unavoidable acceptance. Now, I’m at a place to welcome you with wide open arms.

You may be wondering how I arrived here, ready to fully embrace you. Well, it’s because I recently took the time to reflect back on the earlier decades of my adult life and realized all that I have been through in this glorious journey should only allow me to be excited for this next chapter. Let me explain…

If I were to title the chapter of my twenties, it would be ADVENTURE.

This youthful decade was filled with lots of new beginnings, spontaneity, tons of adventure, risk taking and a heck of a lot of messing up and learning. After graduating college, I started my first career and filled every minute off from work with travel and exploring – oh the exploring!

I have trekked through the vast sanctuary of Manchu Pichu, soaked in natural magma-heated hot tubs in Hawaii, climbed the ancient Mayan pyramids in Chichen Itza, snorkeled with gorgeous tropical fish in the Caribbean Sea, fearlessly zip lined through breathtaking rainforests in Mexico, danced my tush off til the wee hours of the morning in countless cities across the globe – you get the drift.

I definitely lived it up (maybe a bit *too* much) in my twenties.

The decade of my thirties was like a heavy foot on the brake; a time of settling down. It was like I got the crazy out of me in my twenties and now was ready to slow it all down and get serious about my future.

I would title this decade ROOTS.

In my thirties, I met the love of my life, married that incredible man, purchased our forever home, embarked on new business ventures, had 4 children, and started building roots that will forever be unbreakable. My nights of dancing til the wee hours of the mornings were replaced with late nights up feeding and soothing sweet babies. My weekend getaways were swapped with sporting events, birthday parties and family gatherings. My worldly traveling adventures were now replaced with family vacations (or relocations as we like to call them) in beautiful New England.

I think this is where a lot of us get caught up in the fear of growing older. We fear aging bodies, aging minds. We look back at our younger life – maybe even longingly through pictures of these memories – and begin to miss our youth. Our once youthful physical appearance that is now showing signs of all that we have experienced; through wrinkles, graying hair, tired eyes. We may reminisce of our youthful heart and decision making; so carefree and wild at one time now forced to be more mindful and careful of the actions we take. We may think that we have lived quite the life and had so much fun along the way that it probably just goes downhill from here, right? Well, I beg to differ.

I look back on my journey thus far and am so very thankful for these vastly different periods of my life. My experiences have all shaped me into who I am today. However, I know I have a lot more growth ahead of me.

With that said, as I embark on this new decade and turn 40 today, I will prematurely title it GROWTH.

This work from home wife and mom of 4 amazing children enters this chapter with optimism, excitement, and a desire to grow in many areas of my life – personally, professionally and spiritually. And I couldn’t be more thankful that you – my friends and family – are all here with me through this journey.

So, I welcome you, 40, and I so look forward to all we are about to accomplish together.

Let’s get to it ❤️

#Hello40

Pausing For A Moment Through The Chaos

Life with four kiddos is crazy busy and sometimes I feel like I get swallowed up in motherhood. Between school, sports, family get togethers, birthday parties, the therapy sessions for our youngest boy Jack, etc.

I feel like we are constantly jumping from one commitment to another – constantly rushing around everywhere. I feel like I can’t focus on each and every one of the kids like I want to. We are all together A LOT, however, we never really get much quality time together. The majority of conversations are constantly interrupted and it’s hard to stay focused on one child at a time.

My husband and I have talked about wanting to make more of an effort in spending one-on-one time with each kiddo more often. So after a week where it felt like I had little control and was very overwhelmed with everything, and for the fact that the other two older kiddos had plans for the night, I decided that a date night out with my sweet seven year old was just the answer.

I told Olivia that she could choose whatever restaurant she would like. I knew her choice would be her absolute favorite, The Old Mill, right down the street. This restaurant dates back to the 1700’s. They have a serene little pond filled with hungry ducks and geese, a quaint atmosphere, delicious food and a unique little gift shop that wraps around the nooks and crannies of their ancient basement.

She then excitedly asked if she could pick out our outfits and accessories for the night. Although my attire is one of two things these days – active wear or jeans and a T-shirt – Her wide eyes and huge smile gave me no option but to agree. I told her to pick out whatever she wanted for me to wear from my closet.

When I saw the pretty dress my aunt had given me that I planned on saving for a wedding or other fancy outing, I realized we were going to be slightly overdressed for the casual restaurant we were heading to. However, her excitement made it all worth it. So on the dress went, which just so happened to match the one she picked out for herself perfectly.

At dinner, our conversation flowed freely; covering many topics, like school, her friends, gymnastics, her siblings, her upcoming field trip, etc. As she excitedly told me about many different things, I stared at her beautiful face. So intent. So happy. So genuine. So mature. My baby girl was growing up right before my eyes.

I realized I couldn’t remember the last time we had an uninterrupted conversation like this. I was so elated to be spending this time with my beautiful girl that it almost brought a tear to my eye.

Trying to switch the subject and not let her see a tear drop, I asked:

“Lali, what is your favorite memory? Like when did you have the most fun?”

Without hesitating, Olivia said “Right now. This is my favorite of all time. Isn’t it yours?”

It hit me where it matters. Sometimes I lose focus… sometimes things feel totally overwhelming. She reminded me that I need to focus on what’s right in front of me. The here. The now.

Our little date night out was just what I needed. Something that reminded me of what’s important.

I’m looking forward to more one-on-one time with each of the other kiddos too. Something about being able to focus and have conversation with just one child at a time is so very special.

And, just beware, if you see me out on these date nights with my littles, my attire out may seem over dressed or a little over the top, but they have all decided they want to pick out my date night outfits every time, and I’m ok with that.

#freelali

Realizing The Opinions Of Others Truly Don’t Matter

Taking a different twist with today’s #TransformationTuesday and sharing what a transformation our weekends have taken on…

Most of you know my story.

Matt travels a lot during the week for work. With the cost of daycare and more importantly the fact that I wanted to be the one home with the kiddos in their young years, I became a stay-at-home mom and didn’t return to the corporate world once we had kiddos.

The cost associated with a large family was greater than we imagined and quite frankly I missed making my own money. I found myself searching for ways to make money from home. Selling personal items on EBay and getting paid very little for online surveys only got me so far.

So when the girls were 1 and 2 years old, my husband and I started a Bounce House business to help supplement our income and Mad Olive (named after the girls) Bounce House was born. It was a reasonable start up cost, around $20K, and our overhead was pretty low at around $500 a month.

The business took off, and we were BUSY.

After traveling all week, this business kept my husband away from home and working all weekend as well. And frankly, left me overwhelmed and exhausted with child rearing.

We were BUSY and exhausted.

After falling in love with amazing skincare products that a friend recommended and realizing I had the opportunity to partner with this company myself, I knew this was just what I had been praying for.

But I hesitated.

Why?

When I really thought about what was holding me back from taking the plunge, it was about what others would think. Did I really want to be “that girl” selling stuff to friends and family? Trying to recruit people to join me? What would others think of me?

Guess what I realized?

That others opinions of me don’t pay my bills. Others opinions of me don’t help me grow and develop. Jumping into something and believing in myself was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I am confident in what these products can do and even more confident in what the business can do. So why let anything, especially the opinion of others, stop me?

This business has given me confidence, self-development, amazing friendships, and SO much more. It allowed us to shut down our Bounce House business and gave my husband his weekends back.

We have more of a work/life balance that we so desperately needed. Matt is not off dropping off and picking up bounce house units all weekend anymore. He’s home sitting on rocks and putting up with me 😉

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I am able to work on my terms, around our busy, messy, beautiful life. I’m able to be here for my sweet Jackie’s intense therapy schedule.

For all of this I am incredibly thankful.

And, SO, I share. I share these clinically proven products guaranteed to transform skin and I share this business with others looking for more. More time freedom, more money, more confidence.

Unapologetically and enthusiastically, I share.

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If you are looking to change up your skincare, I would be honored to help you get started on these clinically proven products guaranteed to transform skin.

If you want that skincare as a tax write-off AND are looking for a side income, a plan B, looking for more like I was, I would be honored to have you join me in business.

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Needing You At Night May Not Be Such A Bad Thing, Mama

I leaned over to give my big 6 year old one last kiss before snuggling up next to him to fall asleep tonight.

Yup… he takes Matt’s spot most nights when he’s traveling.

Sometimes I have a sense of guilt for letting him do this… but tonight I remembered a sweet story a friend shared and those feelings of guilt quickly vanished.

I too wanted to share it with all my mama friends that may go through the same thing ❤️

“I’ve been rocking and cuddling my baby to sleep since the day he was born. I mentioned this to a nurse at my clinic recently. She said that she did the same thing with her son, and everyone warned her that she would still have a teenager sleeping in her bed…

Then she told me that, a few weeks ago, her teenage son came home from school very upset. He didn’t want to talk, and just went to his room and listened to his music, typed on his phone and cried. The mother gave her son space, and night time came and she went to bed. Just as she was about to turn off her side light, the door opened, and her 15 year old son padded into the room. He climbed into the bed with her, laid his head on her shoulder and cried. He told her all about the girl that broke his heart, all about the friends who laughed, all about the stresses of being him. She told him about her first broken heart, about friends who’d been cruel, and told him she understands. They talked in the dark for hours, until he fell asleep in her bed, still sad but relieved after their talk. She fell asleep in her bed, still sad for him but relieved after their talk.

‘So you see,’ she said to me, when she finished the story, ‘I was so scared that I would wind up with a teenager who would ‘need me’ at night, that I never stopped to consider how beautiful that would really be.’”

So snuggle up, mamas ❤️ We’re good. 😉

#cambone

Celebrating So Much On My 3 Year Business Anniversary

img_7846.jpg3 years ago today, I was weeks away from delivering this sweet nugget right here, my fourth babe.

I loved being home with the kiddos and loved being a mom BUT I had lost myself in motherhood… I missed having a professional life, interacting with adults and missed making money quite frankly. I knew I wanted to remain at home raising my babies, but I was definitely missing something.

After falling in love with skincare that a friend had shared with me (see my pic in comments if you haven’t before and you’ll see why) I realized THIS business could be just what I needed. So 3 years ago today, I partnered with this incredible company to share these products and this business with others myself. No stocking inventory, no deliveries, no home parties – and I could work when, where and how much I wanted. Perfect for my busy mom life.

I am so passionate about sharing these incredible products and especially passionate about sharing an amazing business opportunities for others looking for more just like I was.

I want to thank those of you that have purchased products from me and those that have jumped into this business with me over the last 3 years. I am so very thankful and grateful for each and every one of you ❤️ And I need to thank my biggest fan and supporter, Matt France. Love you, baby.

Some may think our tag line is cheesy: Life-Changing Skincare. But it truly has been that for me. Life. Changing. In such an amazing way.

If YOU are looking to change up your skincare, I would be honored to help you get started on these clinically proven products guaranteed to transform skin.

If you want that skincare as a tax write-off AND are looking for a side income, a plan B, looking for more like I was, I would be honored to have you join me and my amazing team.

#3yearanniversary #10yearsoflifechangingskincare

#rodanandfields #teamempower #workfromhomemama #littlejackiepaper

The Moment It Hits You

Today, the girls and I made plans to enjoy a nice lunch outside at the Old Mill with Jack while Cam and Daddy went for haircuts. In addition to The Old Mill being my Olivia’s favorite place on earth, we thought Jack would enjoy watching and feeding the ducks while we ate.

I prepared as I normally do – with toys I know Jack loves, water, snacks, my phone at easy access in case I needed to put on a show, etc – the works.

We are used to meals out cut short, abandoned full grocery carts, leaving get togethers early, etc. We do what we need to do when autism is just too much to handle. We deal with it the best we can and leave situations when it gets to be too much.

Today was a first, though.

That nice lunch we planned on enjoying turned out to be these hot cakes you see right here. That view of the pond and cute ducks? Turned out to be the inside of a Honda minivan.

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You see, the conditions on the patio there were just too much for Jack to handle. Something I probably should have thought of… The view of the pond, the ducks swimming by and quacking loudly, the wind, the sun shining brightly, the other diners chatting, the laughter and noise from the event room along side our table. As I walked Jack to his chair, I could see his eyes darting all around him, not sure what to focus on. I could feel his anxiety building. When he pulled my hand, pointed towards the parking lot and yelled “GO!”, I felt my heart sink. I knew once it started, there was no turning back.

I quickly grabbed my bag of tricks and tried working my magic, but the tantrum was already in full force. Now, in a full sweat and putting on quite the show for the other diners, I grabbed his letters; which if you know Jack, you know letters are his fixation at the moment and if anything would calm him down, it’s those.

My little Jackie swatted at the letters and threw himself on the floor – kicking, screaming and crying his eyes out. At one point, he almost hit his head on the fence separating us from the pond. It was not pretty.

If you were witnessing this and didn’t understand our situation, you would probably just think my child was being bratty, misbehaving, living up to the “terrible two” name. But this is not the case at all. Jack can’t process what’s around him like a typical child his age can. My Jack can’t communicate his feelings. He can’t tell me he doesn’t like his surroundings or that it makes him uneasy or anxious. Jack has some words and is working hard to build his vocabulary, but he is unable to form a sentence. So, using the only way he knows how, he shows me he cannot handle being in the situation at the moment.

His sisters were helping as best they could, as they always do. As my oldest glanced up at me and said “We’re going to have to leave, aren’t we, mama?”, I looked over at my Olivia and saw the tears start to pour down her face.

After an attempt to move inside and the tantrum just escalating once again, I knew we had to leave.

As we walked out, I tried to lean over and wipe the tears from Olivia’s face and assure her that I would figure something out, but she couldn’t hear me over Jack’s cries. That short walk to the car seemed like miles. Jack is getting so big now and it’s hard for me to carry him when he’s not calm.

Once the kids were all piled into the car, Jack finally started to calm down (thank the good Lord for entertainment systems.) As I buckled him in, I glanced over at my girls.

“It’s ok, mama. We can eat at home.” my sweet Maddie said. Then I looked over at Olivia who had her head buried in her lap. I wanted to do just the same.

I got in my seat, sat back and took a deep breath in. The exhale was accompanied by hot streaming tears. Normally, I keep it together fairly well, especially in front of my kiddos. Today, well, that just wasn’t happening.

In that moment, it all just hit me like a ton of bricks. And instead of trying to play it cool for my girls, I let my guard down. I let them see how upset I was too. After explaining that this environment was just too much for Jack today and for the fact that we were all very hungry, we decided on hot cakes for lunch from the drive through.

As we sat in the car enjoying our breakfast for lunch, my girls and I chatted.

We talked about autism, about our sweet Jack, about how hard he has been working, about the strides he has made, about how hard it is sometimes BUT how it continues to get better. We cried, we laughed and I reminded the girls how very great they have been through everything. They are so empathetic with Jack. They help out whenever they can. And most importantly, they love their sweet Jack with all of their hearts.

This journey with Jack has been quite eye-opening for me – in motherhood and in life in general. It surely gets overwhelming sometimes, like today. And sometimes I feel like I get so wrapped up with Jack that I lose site of how the other kiddos are doing with it all. For the most part, Cam is still too young to understand, but the girls are right there in the trenches.

Looking back on today, I’m thankful for this drive-thru hot cakes lunch and the time with my girls.

And guess where the girls and I ran off to for dessert once Matt got home to stay with the boys?

The Old Mill. ❤️

Step Into Your Shadow To See Your True Light

What you see:

Someone getting up in front of hundreds at a motivational speaking event to share her story.

What you can’t see:

Someone that has battled anxiety for most of her life. Someone who avoided many events and opportunities because of this. Someone who has been off and on several different medications to help with said anxiety. Someone who never in a million years imagined agreeing to get up on a stage to speak publicly to such a large audience.

Someone who felt like she lost herself in her motherhood role and experienced a whole new level of anxiety. Someone who, once a mother, realized that a lot of the anxiety she experienced in her life was due to chasing unrealistic perfection. Because, let’s face it, motherhood is an inevitable way of showing someone that perfection is impossible and frankly irrelevant. A mother who yearned for more, for something different, but felt guilty for feeling that way.

Someone who decided enough was enough and vowed to take control of her life. Someone who realized that if she wanted change, then something had to change.

Someone who thought she was “too above” and “too busy” for unconventional opportunities. Someone who once cared way too much about what other people thought of her.

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Someone who is immensely thankful that she believed in herself, faced her anxiety head on and jumped into opportunities that continue to change her life. Someone who continues to become comfortable with getting uncomfortable.

Someone who wants to show her children that they shouldn’t settle; but instead encourage them to embrace who they are, imperfections and all, go after what they want and to enjoy the journey along the way.

Someone who strongly believes that the absolute best part of the opportunity she continues to share with others is the personal development she herself is experiencing. Someone who loves helping others achieve more in their own lives. Someone who believes everyone should embrace their own imperfectly perfect story.

Someone who is darn proud of how far she has come but knows that she is continuously a work in progress.

My favorite part of stepping out of my comfort zone and being a part of this speaking event was listening to others share THEIR stories. These beautiful forces of nature in the picture above let us in to view parts of their souls; uplifting and empowering so many in doing so. They showed me how beautiful vulnerability truly is and how owning your own personal journey is so incredibly powerful and cathartic.

I want to thank each and every one of you that has supported me; whether that has been through words of encouragement, “likes and shares,” becoming one of my loyal customers, joining me in business or just following along on my journey.

We all have our own battles, our own struggles and our own stories to share. Whatever role you have played in mine, I truly appreciate you.

Click here for full video: https://youtu.be/gV5YRUfr1LQ

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#nothingchangesifnothingchanges #gettingcomfortablebeinguncomfortable

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