"Look At Me"

"Look At Me"
monotype and screenprint

Monday, August 29, 2011

Unanswered Questions

Sleepy Boy...

Yesterday when I was watching Derek sleep something occured to me...you know how we "think" in words? Does a non-verbal child dream in words? Or are his dreams full of beautiful images?  What does he even dream about?  I have 4 years worth of unanswered questions.  There are so many things I would like to ask my son.  So many simple, every day things that other parents take for granted.  I want to know what his favorite color is.  I want to know why he's fascinated with wheels and why he won't eat wet things, like noodles.  I want to know what his foot obsession is all about and why he likes to have two matching things at all times.  Most of all, I want to know if he's happy.  And if he knows how much I love him...

You know the saying, "Kids say the darndest things?"  It's true...Tyler has what I call "Tylerisms."  We giggle together all the time over things.  Lately at night we've been talking about how much we love each other.  "Tyler, I love you more than...chocolate chip cookies."  "Mommy, I love you more than...the moon!"  :)  I feel like I'm missing things with Derek.  By the time he learns to REALLY speak (more than one word responses), will he still be young enough to enjoy being silly with me???

Tylerisms of the past month:  "Sweetie, it's time to go!!!"  (when we were leaving a friend's house)
                              "Let's play Dingo"  (Instead of Bingo)
                              "Do I have to go back to that HORRIBLE place tomorrow?" (kindergarten)
and my personal favorite:
                              Tyler:  "Mommy, how does water put out fire?"
                              Me:  "I don't know, honey."
                              Tyler:  "Yes, you do.  JUST TELL ME!!"

For Derek, I have lots of precious, precious moments, but very few "Derekisms."  Maybe one would be that sometimes he calls Winnie the Pooh "Poop."  :)  He also sings (babble) when he takes a shower.  That's about it.  There are so many wonderful, beautiful things about a non-verbal child, but not knowing what he wants and not knowing what he is trying to say is NOT one of them.  It breaks my heart more and more each day that even though I know my child better than ANYONE on this earth, I do not know what he thinks and feels about life.  He is almost four years old...I've been waiting so long to hear his little voice.  If only he could get the words out.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mutual of Omaha and my "Aha Moment"

Thursday was CRAZY!!!!!!  Mutual of Omaha has been touring the nation since 2009 gathering the stories of real people.  The stories are supposed to be "life-changing, inspirational" ones...they video tape people talking about moments that changed their lives.  The moments come from cancer survivors, Olympic Swimmers, musicians, basically everyone and anyone you can think of.  Anyway, somehow someone from Mutual of Omaha found THIS BLOG and asked me if I'd want to be part of their tour.  Of course, I said YES!!!!  They stopped in Kearney, NE on Thursday and interviewed me.  My video will be on http://www.theahamoment.com/ in a few weeks.  I have no idea what part of the interview they will put on...I'm hoping they edit it well and I don't look like an idiot!!!  My "aha moment" was the moment I realized I could tell my autistic son's story through artwork.  :)  I don't have a way with words like some people do.  And obviously neither does Derek.  So I try to speak for both of us (and for others with ASD!) through my artwork. 

What else happened this week?  Well, I decided that I'm not going to torture my son and make him ride the bus for an hour every day on the way home from preschool.  He'll still ride it on the way there--it only takes 30 min to get there.  But they have to drop a kid off in the country on the way home, and by the time Derek got home Tuesday he was a mess. He had 3 potty accidents this week.  He slept in my bed every night.  I think it's safe to say he was a little traumatized.  So...I picked him up on Thursday and things went MUCH BETTER.  He was super happy to see me and seemed relieved when I strapped him in the car. 

Tyler at the NE State Fair!
Last night I took the kids to the NE State Fair with cousins and their aunt.  We had a blast.  This was Tyler's reward for doing so well his first week of kindergarten.  He went on a bunch of rides and said, "I'm having so much fun I never want to stop!!!"  Awesome.  Derek refused to go on the rides.  I think he was a little overwhelmed.  He stayed in the stroller and looked around at all of the people, the lights, and the spinning rides.  He also wet his pants.  Oooops.  That was my fault.  I didn't take him to the bathroom often enough I guess.  Too much excitement.  And then later, when the fireworks started, he had a meltdown.  Usually we watch fireworks from inside the house--behind a window.  It was too loud.  He panicked.  We went into a building and he refused to come back out until 10 min after the fireworks had stopped.  But considering everything?  He did really well.  At least he didn't freak out the second we got to the part where the rides were.  That was what I was scared would happen.  Both kids ZONKED out on the way home. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Derek's 1st Day of Pre-School

Derek's 1st day of pre-school was rough.  He cried on the walk to school.  He cried when I put him on the bus.  He looked completely baffled when I left him on the bus.  I have no idea what he actually DID at school since I can't ask him...but when he got off the bus after the HOUR LONG bus ride home, he whimpered, jumped into my arms, and slammed the bus door shut.  He didn't let me put him down for 30 minutes.  Uh-oh.  Poor buddy...
On the way to the bus...

Monday, August 22, 2011


I added a picture of Joslyn finally!  :)  I now have 2 girls in the project.  It continures to grow...

Working on framing Aiden today.  I want to get it done before my interview with Mutual of Omaha on Thursday.  I'm NERVOUS!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Aiden: Spinning"

My first new piece is DONE!!!!!!  Here it is!  It took 7 days, over 30 hours, and has 13 different layers of color.  :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Working on "Aiden"

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

I've been working on my print about Aiden all week.  I started on Friday and have worked on it every day since then.  I haven't slept much.  I've already put 11 layers on it and put over 30 hours into it.  UGGGGGHHHH.  It's wonderful to be back in the studio again, but I'm exhausted!  I forgot how much work it is.  And the difference between now and grad school is that now I have to take care of kids too--I can't just take a nap when I feel like it.  :)  I'm hoping to finish it today.

Printing "Aiden" layer #10

Also today, Tyler started kindergarten.  :)  My kiddo is all grown up!  I can't wait to hear how his first day went!  I've been thinking about how fast kids grow and how GLAD I am that I stayed home with my kids.  I was there for everything--their first smiles, their first steps, their first words (even though Derek's came late--I was THERE!!!)  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  Being a mother has been the most rewarding thing I've ever done with my life.

"These are the days to remember, cuz they will not last forever..."  --Billy Joel

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My 1st New Piece: AIDEN

I used my press for the first time last night!  I started a new piece about a little boy named Aiden.  (If you want to see what he looks like click on the tab that says "Other Kids Featured in the Project."  He is 3, just like Derek and I met him a few months ago.  He's in the same ABA program as Derek too.  VERY cute little boy.  Reminded me so much of Derek it actually scared me.  :) 

Anyway, I got 3 layers of yellow ochre done last night and I'm hoping to get a couple more layers done tonight.  This piece will probably have at least 10 layers, so it's going to take me a while to finish.  It feels GREAT to be back in the studio again.  Pictures of my new piece will come soon!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

More Kids!

I now have two more kids in the project!!!  (I know, I know...I've got more work than I can handle...)  Add Michael Vaughan and Joslyn Cameron to the project!  (There is a picture of Michael up and hopefully there will be one of Joslyn soon.)  I've also started the piece about Aiden.  I will post pictures as soon as possible.  In the meantime, Tyler starts kindergarten next week and Derek starts preschool the following week.  I have a LOT to do before then!  YIKES!!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"One Day"

I just got chills...I started reading the book "One Day," by David Nicholls (it comes out in theaters in a few weeks--Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess).  It's about the relationship between two people over 20 years.  They meet every year on the anniversary of the day they met--JULY 15th.  Ok, halt.  First of all, that is the anniversary of Derek's Diagnosis...and second of all, on the very first page there is a quote from Charles Dickens, Great Expectations:

"That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me.  But, it is the same with any life.  Imagine one selected day struck out of it and think how different its course would have been.  Pause, you who read this, and think for a long moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on that memorable day."

Funny how quotes find you...

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Window...

You know that saying, "When God closes a door, he opens a window?"  I'm beginning to think that's not necessarily true.  Sometimes it's just not that easy.  At some point in life, we are all given a difficult burden to carry.  But I have heard some AMAZING stories lately.  Stories about perseverence, about beating the odds, and about the will to survive.  I think sometimes God closes a door and sticks us in a room with a window that is stuck tight just to see what we will do.  He wants to see if we have the strength to pull ourselves off the floor and break through the window on our own.  After Derek was diagnosed, I wallowed around in my own misery for a good year and a half before I broke through the window.  Something finally "snapped" inside of me.  I was tired of waiting for my life to begin.  I realized that I could either embrace my son the way he is and live life to the fullest, or spend the rest of my life miserable.  I decided to do as much for my son as possible (through therapy) and promote awareness at the same time.  The best way I knew of to do that, was to tell Derek's story through art.  I wanted to be an artist (not just a person who did art in her spare time!!), and I knew that if I didn't do something about it THEN, I never would.  Nobody else was going to do it for me--everything was in my hands. 

It's hard to believe, but my dream is finally coming true.  I told my parents when I was in grade school that I wanted to be an artist.  It's all I have ever wanted to be.  Now, after 9 years of college, and 6 years of WAITING...it is happening.  I have a studio.  I have an etching press.  I have a PROJECT that I care about and can't wait to see come alive!!!!  And almost all of this happened because I decided in March to put my fears behind me and go for my dreams, whether I failed or not.  I have amazing friends, an incredible family, and wonderful neighbors.  Thank you to EVERYONE who supported me along the way...I never could have done any of this without your help.  My studio is ready.  I have paper on the way.  ELLIE THE ETCHING PRESS IS GOING TO HAVE A TRIAL RUN THIS WEEK!!!!!!  :)