Beautiful Boy | Our Titus

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Because we are so very proud of him, we want to tell you about our boy:

Titus William is bright and happy and beautiful. He loves Curious George, Thomas the Tank Engine and mac n’ cheese. He enjoys the playground and the ocean and tickles from his Dad and swinging with his Mom and ice cream. Titus is also on the autism spectrum. 

Some of you know, and some of you don’t, and with all of the adventures our family has been on lately, and in recognition of World Autism Awareness Day, we wanted to share a little about our story…

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Diagnosed at age two, our sweet boy is strong and plucky and complicated. Our story isn’t unique, but it still took us by surprise…

img_2603Once ahead of the developmental curve, we noticed around 20 months of age that Titus’s language development had stalled, repetitive behaviors started to appear, he seemed less social than normal, and a faraway look that was often in his eyes concerned us. After dismissal as simply being over-anxious, and then going with our guts and pursuing months of doctors visits – a couple of which said he was absolutely fine and there was nothing to be concerned about – we received his official diagnosis from the Yale Child Developmental Center in Connecticut, where we had moved barely a year before. Titus had ASD – autism spectrum disorder, with regression.

How do you process the news that your sweet, only, little one has challenges you never anticipated ahead? How do you allow dreams that you once held to reform, change, or disappear? What does your life look like, what does his life look like, what do you do next?…

…for the last two years we’ve been working on this. We’ve grieved and rallied and wept on the floor and raged and rejoiced. We have laid our hearts open to the Father and put one foot in front of the other…

IMG_5176And, we’ve moved across the country, renovated two homes, appeared on a national TV show, flown on airplanes, ridden trains, gone to Disneyland and Disney World and Castine, ME and Palm Springs, CA, and NYC and visited the beach, played with new friends, floated in the pool, swung in the hammock, watched movies and snuggled. And struggled. 

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Titus working with Jess, his first therapist

Nothing is the same, and everything is the same. Our Titus is still our Titus. But now, our days begin with a team of Behavioral, Occupational and Speech therapists each morning. And, puzzles and breakfast and sliding on slides. Our minds are occupied with vocabulary and behaviors and planning for an uncertain future. And, popsicles and date nights and buying new shorts because T is always growing.

 

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetWe are the same and totally different than other parents. And the pain of that ebbs and flows. Looking at old pictures and watching old videos of “before” can be difficult. Because of his regression, Titus had skills at 18months that he is still working to re-master now. Imagining the future brings anxiety. But. Even in the stretching, the fear and the wondering, we have faith.

Titus knows his numbers 1-12, all of his colors, some of his letters and loves to match, sort, do flash-cards, play on his swing set, splash in the waves, and do puzzles galore! He asks us for everything he wants, and points out all of the red lights when we’re driving – he just uses single words instead of sentences. He snuggles and gives hugs and high-fives, and requests popsicles 10 times a day. He makes lots of silly noises – because they feel good to make – and it takes him a long time to fall asleep, and looks at his hands with his fingers spread wide, and gets excited about the wind moving the leaves in the trees. He’s tall for his age, and often gets asked if he’s five or older, even though he’s not quite four yet, which can be hard sometimes, because he can’t always act like a big kid. He loves to run and jump, and it can be hard to sit still sometimes, but he is laid back, an excellent traveler, and isn’t rough with people or things. Every day can bring something new – both good and tough – that we learn how to tackle together. He works harder than we can imagine, every single day, with people and tasks that stretch and strengthen him.

IMG_6551He’s wondrous. And full of sweet, beautiful potential. 

And, he’s challenging. And life doesn’t look like how we thought it would. But, it is still good. And, because we don’t get to see all of you all the time, we wanted to share our beautiful boy with you. And, we wanted to thank you for being kind. For understanding when we can’t gather the energy for another outing or activity, for being flexible, for not being hurt if our little guy doesn’t look at you when you say hello or try to play, and for just smiling when T’s antics are a bit different than other children his age. And, being such sweet friends. And for walking along side us in this journey.  We aren’t done.

 

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetOur world is still big, and so are our dreams.

Titus’s name means, “Honorable Defender” and he had many amazing words of wisdom spoken over him when we dedicated him to the Lord as an infant. Even though our plans have had to change, we know that his purpose in the Kingdom remains intact and important. Our goal as his parents are to train and guide him to walk out that God-given purpose. Before he was born, we were given the picture of a rhino – a group of rhinos is called a “crash”. They can run at up to 30mph, but can only see 30 feet ahead. We don’t know what’s at 31 feet for Titus or our family, but we will run with faith to crash any obstacle.

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We covet your prayers over Titus, and the promise that his life holds. We love him so very much, and know that there is so much light and joy ahead of us. We look forward to sharing more about our #lifeonthespectrum. Feel free to send us a note with questions or encouragement. One of the most meaningly phrases we’ve learned is, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”  – Dr. Stephen Shore. Every single trait and ability – both positive and negative – is unique. Know what we are learning every day about ASD, and what works specifically for Titus and our family. We love you, and thank you.

  • Andrew, Rachael & Titus

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freshlyminted… again

I thought I had outgrown this name.

No longer a newlywed, not a new homeowner, settled into my career and comfortable in the kitchen, things were pleasantly busy and routine. I wasn’t really a “freshly minted” anything…

And then this happened:

Baby T

And we moved here for a bit:

NYC views

And now we’re living here, and bought a really old house:

Milford, CT - Lower Duck Pond

And nothing is the same, so it’s time to write again.

___

We welcomed Titus in April of 2014, I left a job I loved in January of 2015, and we moved to Jersey City, NJ for four months early this year and soaked up NYC. Then, we lived like nomads between states for about six months, and had some family adventures along the way. Now, we are the new owners of a not-so-new 145-year-old house in costal Connecticut that totally captured my history-loving self the moment we walked in the door. But it needed a little TLC…

So, yep. Not a lot is the same…

The Husband works really hard. And Titus and mama hang out together. A lot. And we’re learning how to renovate a sweet but tired house, live 10 hours from grandmas, explore New England, cook again, make new friends, and how to be a family in the midst of change.

Not my forte. But it’s starting to be.

So, if you’d like, stay tuned. I’m gonna write about my (re) freshlyminted life.

What we’ve been up to…

Wow. Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter came and went.

And the 4th of July.

I missed this, but we’ve had a fabulous rest….

Though time is speeding by, we’ve filled it with everything from home projects to vacations, dinner parties to volunteering. It would take way to long to totally catch you up so we can get back to some fun stuff, so instead, here are a few pictures:

Volunteering with Service League for the Mazza Museum – a really magical place.

VolunteerMazza

Super Bowl Paleo fun with homemade cauliflower pizza crust (you know you’ve Pinned it, too…), and coconut-coated baked chicken nuggets. Verdict? We ate it allllllll. 

CauliflowerPizza

Our spare room (aka, the really-nice-storage-space-with-a-desk) actually turned into a real room. With a bed. That my mom and I refinished. And a mattress. Come visit?

Bedroom

The Husband’s parents got visit and sleep on a real bed. Made the whole redecoration totally worth it. That, and always being able to walk into a room with a bed that’s made. That’s pretty great, also.

TheParentsVisit

And there was the local chili cook-off. It’s a big deal. And mostly delicious.

ChiliCookoff

We dressed up like Superman and Lois Lane for a charity gala… and didn’t enjoy it at all (obviously… ;) JK – best thing we’ve done this year! And doesn’t the Husband make a dashing Clark Kent? Oh, that curl...

Lois&Clark

I got the chance to visit my Great-Grandmother. And, THIS is her wallpaper. A recent visit to Anthropologie made me realize how much I love it, and totally wish I could copy it or frame it or something… grandmaswallpaperI flew from cold, cold Ohio to bright blue California for a little family get-away. What a difference a few hours makes!

flighttocali

…I saw these mountains.

calimountains

…and walked along streets like this.

Cali

..and stuck my toes in an icy desert oasis.

California13

Celebrity encounter #1: Saw the Author of “The Language of Flowers”, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, talk about her New York Times Best Seller. She signed my book, “To Rachael, with Tulips…”

LanguageOfFlowersI got glasses. For the first time. Luckily, I just have to wear then when trying to see a ppt presentation or driving at night… or when I want to feel nerdy-chic.

glassesWe went home for Easter, and both wore fabulous footware.

Easter

…and mom made pies.

Easter Pie

We joined the County Club, and I’m learning to love golf. Or, attempting to. At least this place is totally lovely and we get to hang out outside and say, “let’s go to the club for dinner….” I’ve sort of always have wanted to say that…

Country Club

We’re super active in our local Young Professionals organization. It’s lots of fun, and has a ton of neat activities that we have the opportunity to lead. From around here? Check it out!

FYP

We saw BOB DYLAN. Just look at that silhouette… the hair.

Dylan

We went to Traverse City, Michigan and Camped. And ate.

Traverse City food

And my little sibs came to visit while my parents went on a 30th Anniversary trip. And we canoed, tie-dyed, watched a drive-in movie, swam… And ate.

Donuts with kids

Then we went to Cincinnati. And watched baseball. And ate.

FindlayMkt.

So, lots of fun. Lots of adventures. Lots of food…. and I’ve missed sharing it all! So, though we’ve got a full calendar, and plenty of relaxation penciled into our summer schedule, I’m going to do my best to keep up… And, the Husband wants to write a post about his theories on the best way to get a deal when garage sale-shopping. I’m serious.

So, I had to catch you up, first ;)

P.S. I also ate lots of this – my new favorite concoction: Oatless oatmeal. Packed with protein, perfect for smothering with fruit and nut butters. Recipe to come!Oatless oats

A farewell to {summer}

Goodbyes are hard.

But, I would certainly call this summer a successful one. It didn’t hurt that we kicked the season off with the trip of a lifetime, but even the little activities: moments with family and friends, dinners at home, weekend getaways, ice cream, movies and date nights made the last few months special.

Something that helped keep our fun on track, was my handy summer bucket list. I always have grand plans for these warm months – so full or promise in late May… and then, I promptly forget what those plans were and proceed to eat ice cream and watch movies on my couch. So, this year we made it happen!

Here’s the list:

  1. Kayak on the Blanchard
  2. Enjoy fine dining at the Lima Ave. Rootbeer stand
  3. See a drive-in Movie
  4. Go to a winery
  5. Visit Lakeside
  6. See a concert

Now, none of these things were earth-shattering, but each made the day seem more special. So, between trips to see grandparents, parties with friends, birthdays, work, and holidays, we:

(<—Rootbeer Stand)

  • Took an amazing trip down the river – serene, calm, and inexpensive!
  • Ate the best Spanish dog, sweet potato fries and root beer floats you could imagine. Seriously.
  • Saw the Dark Night Rises while eating snacks snug and cozy in the front seat of the car. Felt so 1960’s… loved it!
  • Took a trip to Mon Ami winery and enjoyed the amazing sea food buffet.
  • Took a restful, peaceful, book-filled trip to one of our favorite places on the planet
  • The. Zac. Brown. Band.

Bliss!

Especially the sweet potato fries and floats at the Rootbeer stand… I die.

(Elizabeth and I at the Winery)

The last two items were things I had been longing to do, but didn’t see how they could fit into our packed summer! Until, the Husband surprised me on the Birthday with both :) He’s a keeper, I tell ya. These adventures were a little more special than the others on the list, so here’s a little recap:

Lakeside is a very special place. Located along Lake Erie, it was part of the original Chautauqua movement in the U.S. in the late 1800’s. Now, this little town is still dedicated to nurturing the mind, body and spirits of all of those that visit with concerts, lectures, sermons, athletics, swimming, boating and more.

The quiet streets are lined with colorful cottages with fun names, little shops, ice cream parlors, unique restaurants, and bicycles waiting for their owners. On the waterfront, the largest homes and historic Lakeside Hotel look out over the blue water, and the white boathouse and dock form a grand entrance to a brisk walk or the perfect picture of the sunset. You can also play putt putt, shuffleboard, tennis, basketball, jog or take a long walk with periodic stops on numerous benches that overlook the crystal water… Totally serene, a trip there is truly a spiritual experience.

In short, it’s perfection.

Even though it was the end of the season, and many of their activities and summer attractions were closed, the peace and quiet (and pizza and giant cinnamon rolls) was just what the doctor ordered.

We ate, we walked, we slept in, we watched movies on the laptop, we read books, we talked about dreams, and we recharged our batteries…

If you ever make the trip, Sloopy’s pizza and the donuts from The Patio are a must :)

Our final farewell to summer was something I waited on…almost patiently…for a long time. I may have dropped some hints that I NEEDED to attend the Zac Brown Band concert… but in my defense, I dropped it when the Husband stopped responding to my text messages and emails. And, I was totally surprised when he handed them to me for my birthday!

We tailgated with giant cookies (hey – a new bakery opened up in town…I had to try them out ;)  and thousands of other people in cowboy boots and flannel.

We were the only ones with cookies.

The concert was great, and we danced and sang along (nothin’ like “A little bit of chicken fried” to get your toes tappin’!)…

…and kissed our sun kissed-summer nights goodbye.

For real. Those bleachers got pretty darn cold.

:)

I hope your season was just as filled with wonderful things as ours was. Onward and upward – Can’t wait for what’s next!

Oh… and we also watched all of the Rocky Movies in the past three months.

All six of them.

We’re pretty proud.

A gentleman’s guide to {Pinterest}

We all know what a tremendous impact Pinterest has had on our lives.

About 97.8% of cooking, up-dos, organizing, wardrobes, art, cat hair crafts, and hearty laughs are now inspired by a single (genius) website. And, the Husband has something to say about it.

Enjoy.

Rachael asked if I’d like to write another post. It had been a while, and apparently my public had been clamoring for a new masterpiece…

Since I am SO 2012 with this whole social media thing, I posted a note on facebook asking for a little inspiration (and insinuating that my lovely wife would only serve me PB&J for the rest of my life if I didn’t come up with something good). And, that’s how this post of was born.

So here it is: Pintrest…The Husband’s thoughts. Take em or leave em.

I had to do a little recon and hack Rachael’s Pintrest account, because let’s face it, all I know about Pintrest is that women are shocked when they find a woman who is not on it, and that I give my wife weird looks when she laughs out loud, glances up from her iPhone, and simply says: “Pintrest: Humor Category.”

I boiled my extensive research down to three main conclusions.

  • First, the ladies love it.

So, if you’re married, single, or even thinking about talking to a lady friend in the next year or so, you need to be “Pinversant” (aka, conversant in Pinterest...I’ll see if Rachael can pin that.). Now, I’m not saying you need to kill hours giggling over those Ryan Gosling memes, planning your next party outfit or gathering nifty craft ideas that involve pumpkins, tempera paint, salvaged barn wood and wine bottles. I’m just letting you know that if you understand what that important girl means when she talks about “re-Pinning”, “Liking”, “Boards” and “Following”, Ryan’s “Hey Girl” pics will have nothing on you.

  • Second, it’s the sure-fire place to find the perfect gift. 

Is your special someone tough to shop for? Fret no more.  Pintrest will provide you with more gift ideas and creativity than you can handle. All you have to do is look for those pinned items with comments like, “I want this sooooooo bad” or “If only my husband loved me…”. Not only does Pintrest give you gift ideas, but there’s a nice convenient gift section that gives direct links for purchase. Some say the eyes are the window to a woman’s soul, but,  I’m pretty sure it’s actually Pintrest.

  • Lastly, it’s okay for men to pin.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to pin, it just means I can see why women love it and men can get into it. If you want to be a stud, it’s probably not a bad idea to find yourself looking through the Men’s Fashion category. You can see what threads LeBron is rockin’, scout out a new watch, or find some new Nike shoes. The Humor category isn’t too shabby either. And, maybe the recipes and baby animal pictures will catch your fancy too… no judging.

All in all. I’m a believer in this pinning thing. So, if your allotted Facebook and Twitter time can squeeze a couple more hours of mind-numbing (yet, productive! – Rachael edit) social media addiction each week, I say go for it.

Just don’t let the DIY home stuff and weird recipes get too out of hand…

Two words: Vegan. Cheese.

I still haven’t fully recovered.

“Happy Pinning!”

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

Viora Beth: {my mama}

Not many people know that my mama’s full name is Viora Beth.

A family name, she has gone by “Beth” since babyhood.  But having that second, secret name, has always made her a little more special in my eyes…

{1965}

Mama will celebrate her birthday today, and I have to say that there is almost no one that I look up to more… As I grow up, it becomes increasingly obvious that I have a lot of growing up to do, and, I’d like to be a lot more like her.

Lessons from Mom:

  • Serene hospitality.

I love to have people over to my house. I love to plan, cook, and make my home a cozy space to enjoy conversation, solidify new friendships and catch up with the old. The hours leading up to these peaceful celebrations, however, tend to be anything but. I snap at the Husband, sweat profusely, the grill is inevitably out of propane and I ALWAYS worry that somehow everyone will magically turn into ultra- awkward, picky, critical versions of themselves and just want to leave….

Note: This has never, ever happened.

My mom, on the other hand, throws elegant get-togethers with an air of effortlessness I aspire to. Dad invites last-minute guests? No problem. Ate something yummy at a gourmet restaurant on vacation? It inspires a homemade menu fit for royalty. People show up early, food burns, little brother is doing his best armpit-rendition of silent night? She takes it in stride. Her guests feel loved and special because she takes the time to add the perfect touches (roast duck a l’orange and a bouquet of fresh-cut garden roses, anyone?), but delightfully at ease in the laid back atmosphere.

I want to be like that.

  • Doing it ’till its done.

When mom starts a project, it gets finished. She makes curtains, covers chairs, makes you finish your goat 4-H book, re-builds the garden, makes slideshows for weddings and graduations, refinishes furniture, paints, straightens, writes, crafts, educates and makes thing beautiful, all with a passion that awes me.

Is it 2:00a.m.? Maybe. Is it done with excellence? Always.

I want to be like that.

  •  Growing. Always growing.

I’ve said before that I have trouble envisioning the next 18 months, let alone where I will be in five years. Somewhere in my head, I’m convinced I have all the friends and skills I ever will posses right at the moment. It’s not true – I’ve got years to grow! Mom understands that.

{Joshua Tree National Park}

Inspiring books; skinny jeans; innovative homeschool methods; farro, langostinos, almond butter and salted caramel ice cream; revelations about the nature of God, her children and her husband; vacations; relationships…

She is always changing, always learning, always seeking wisdom.

I want to be like that.

{Beautiful, Peaceful, Home}

I am so proud of where I come from, and the people that surround me (like Bekah, Grandma Bailey and Joe!). But, some of the moments I feel the proudest, are when I realize I’m standing by the stove with my hand on my hip stirring a pot, or bending over a blossoming garden not even noticing the hot sun, or drilling holes and stapling fabric and investing ways to make my life and the lives of those around me more beautiful… just like her.

In short, Viora Beth cares for her home and her family in a way only Proverbs 31 can describe:

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value…

She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family…

She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks…

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy…

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come…

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue…

Your child rises up, and calls you blessed.

{Happy Birthday, lovely Mama}

A milestone…

Well, my goofy redheaded “little” brother has officially graduated from college…

…oh, my.

I’m old.

My only consolation is that I still get asked for my ID at the movie theater, and somewhere in my head I fully believe that I am about to enter the 8th grade.

Hanson, gel pens and Bonne Bell lip gloss are still all the rage, right?

Anyhow, Joe’s graduation celebration was wonderful. The ceremony was honestly the most well-run and lovely program I’ve ever attended. It felt wonderful to see my little bro walk across the stage, and to watch him hug, grin and chat with family and friends.

This shindig also gave me a reason to:

  1. Buy a new dress
  2. Go to the nearby outlet mall
  3. Stay in a hotel
  4. Eat at Cheesecake Factory
  5. See the Avengers

Sooooo, as you can see, it was good time.

In other news, The Trip is pretty much all I have on my mind at this point.

Two Weeks.

Am I ready? Of COURSE I’m ready:

His & Hers passport covers? Check. Zebra neck pillow for the airplane? Check. Grandma walking sandals for my still-on-the-mend runner’s feet? Check. Mini bottles of every type of hygiene product known to man? Check. Re-reading my 6th grade “Famous Men of Rome” text book. Half-way check.

Totally prepared. Totally freaking out.

Talk to me in a week and a half and I’ll let you know if I’ve actually started packing or have stocked up on my to-go nut butter supply yet. Then you’ll know It’s getting serious ;)

For now, the next big thing is Chicago with Bekah & my lovely mama for the weekend!

{Can’t wait to be here again (2011). That’s American Girl bliss, folks.}

:) Exciting things ahead!