I know I have spoken many times in the past about Michael’s amazing bond with Jordan. I have always noticed how she takes care of him, like a second mother. But sometimes, she leaves me speechless. Last night was one of those times.

Keep in mind their ages. Michael is 9. Jordan is 8.

So, the last few days have been pretty stress filled around here. Everyone has been gearing up for the new school year. Everything is all new for all three of them.

Last night it came to a head. At bedtime, Michael was suddenly extremely anxious and upset. He kept telling me he missed his friend Ozzie, a friend that made a big impact on him back home in New Jersey. He said, “Mommy they will all be strangers. I won’t know anyone. I am so scared”, as the tears streamed from his eyes. My heart was breaking, as I tried to soothe him to sleep. I tried my best to reassure him that all would be fine. I reminded him that Jordan would be with him on the bus as well. I sat on the floor next to his bed and rubbed his back.

(Note: Michael and Jordan share a bedroom)

Jordan was laying in bed, quietly listening to my exchange with Michael. When he finally sarted to calm a little, he started to doze. I kissed his cheek, kissed her cheek and quietly walked out of the room.

Within about 5 minutes I could hear the two of them talking. Michael was crying again.

Here is where my speechless part enters:

A moment later Jordan walked out of the room. She said, “Mommy, since Michael is still scared, I will sleep on the floor next to his bed.” I walked upstairs to find that in the few minutes I heard them taking, she had taken her blanket, pillow and stuffed animals off her bed. She set them all up on the floor right next to his bed, and was planning to camp out there for the night. I didn’t know what to say. It took a minute, but my brain kicked in. I told her how sweet that was of her, but I wanted to be sure she also got a good night’s sleep. So we put everything back, and I tucked her in to her bed. I again sat on the floor next to Michael, again rubbing his back, until this time I knew he was sleeping.

I walked out once more and all I could think was, what an amazing and caring tiny human she is.

I will write about their first day, another time. I wanted this post to be about them.


A Promise Fulfilled

You may all remember my post from a few month’s ago called, “Can I Offer You a Kidney”. For those not familiar with it, here is the link:

Sometimes people say things they will do, as a kind gesture. Even if they never follow through, the fact that they offered is a lot to be thankful for. Freddy DID follow through.

Freddy and his wife, Chaquira, made the trip from New Jersey to fulfill the promise he made to us. This was after he worked in his shop all day, until 8:30pm. They left New Jersey at 9:30pm. They drove all night and arrived here, in Virginia, at 5:00am. They slept for a few hours and then he texted me saying he would be here when I wanted, because his day was dedicated to us.

When they got here, Jason gave them a tour of our new home. Then, Freddy got down to business. Even though the venue changed and he was cutting Michael’s hair in my backyard, nothing else changed. There were lots of laughs. Michael made sure to remind Freddy to not cut his ears off. That is a reminder Freddy gets every time from Michael, from day one. And he sat, as he has from their first meeting and let Freddy cut his hair.




Of course, no cut with Freddy would be complete without a spray paint of color. That is Michael’s favorite part, and Freddy didn’t disappoint. Jordan also got into the act this time as well. ORANGE HAIR FOR ALL!!


Freddy said something a few weeks back on one of my Facebook posts that really hit home with me. Freddy, I hope you don’t mind, but I am sharing it here.

He said:
“Some clients are clients, some clients become friends, some clients become family. I thank God I had the opportunity to meet Joan Leigh Flores and her family and gratefully consider them part of mine.”

Freddy..my friend..my family, I have said it before. No words can properly express my gratitude for what you have done. You are one of kind, you are generous, you are amazing and I I am forever grateful that our paths crossed.


I know I have been pretty quiet lately. With the move this summer and an impromptu visit to my mother’s, I just haven’t had a chance to sit down and write anything. That is until now.

This past weekend Michael had the amazing opportunity to be involved in the Surfers Healing one day surf camp. For those of you not familiar with it: It is a one day camp in which wonderful volunteers give their time and show autistic children how to surf….YES…SURF! I have tried to get him in, in the past. I was always too late, and the drive for a wait list spot was just too long. This year, a few months back, a friend had posted that there was a camp in Virginia. I knew we would be living here by then. So, there I sat. Finger poised….waiting for registration to open. As soon as it did, I got him in. I was so happy.

I had been showing Michael the video on the Surfers Healing website. I was trying to prepare him for it. He was very excited and was talking about it…a lot.

Fast forward to last Saturday. His scheduled surf time was 10:30 am. We arrived at the beach about 9:30. We parked the car and walked over. I could see in the parking lot, lots of other families who I assumed were also attending. When we walked to the beach, the first thing I noticed was the “red carpet”. The stairs that lead to the sand had a red carpet (made out of wood planks and sort of red astro turf-ish type material that you could walk on, all the way to your registration point) That was so great for kids who have sensory problems walking in the sand, as Michael once did. We checked in and then were given a wrist band with our group number. We were told that there was lunch being served at a few different times  during the day, and that we were welcomed to eat. I had forgotten our beach umbrella. Much to my relief, they had a bunch  set up for anyone who wanted to seek some shade. We set up camp under an umbrella, and waited.

One of the volunteers, named Linda, saw us sitting and came over to chat. She talked to Michael and told him how much fun he would have. He was engaged and excited. Linda told me that she had been volunteering for Surfer’s Healing for 10 years now, and that this was the first year that the Virginia camp was 2 days. That way they could accommodate more children. She said there would be somewhere around 400 children who would get to surf.

At 10:30 we heard our group number called. We got to where they were fitting the children for live vests. They checked my wristband, and took Michael by the hand. While they took Michael in to be fitted, there was a little boy also getting fitted. He was not happy. He was crying, and that set Michael off. I was holding his hand and telling him everything would be fine, that the boy just didn’t like the life jacket. Michael was visibly upset now as one of the volunteers talked to him. He kept asking, “But what if I get scared”, and he also started to cry. It was tearing my heart out, but I let the volunteer do her thing. She kept reassuring him that he would do great and love it. Once he was fitted, another volunteer came over and led him to his surf instructor. All the while, they were talking to him making him comfortable. He was met with Kalani Brown, one of the many volunteer surf instructors and his surfboard. Next thing I knew they whisked him to the water’s edge where there even more volunteers waiting. He got right on the board and Kalani paddled them out. The pictures that follow will show you some of what I watched that day.image





I had tears in my eyes watching him out there. He LOVED it. He got to go back out there 5 or maybe 6 times…I lost count because I was just so amazed at what I was watching. Each time they rode that board back in Michael exclaimed, “AGAIN, AGAIN, AGAIN!!!”

When he was all finished he got a medal. “A real metal medal, mommy!!!”

If you ever have the chance to sign your child up for this, you will not regret it. It was run so very well.  It was also a free event.

I just cannot say enough..other than Mahalo (Thank You in Hawaiian) to Izzy Paskowitz, and his amazing group of volunteers for making this such a wonderful experience for all.


For more information about Surfers Healing, here is their website and Facebook page.


The Final Countdown

So, today is June 1.

The official move countdown has begun, for me. I have had “The Final Countdown” stuck in my head all day. In just 30 days we will be in our new home. It is the move Jason and I have been toying with, and talking about for years. It is the move we both have wanted for so long.

All of a sudden it is becoming very real. We are leaving our life behind. We are leaving our friends behind. Last week as I started taking down decorations and pictures I was hit with overwhelming sadness. This was our first home, where our children have grown up.

I know, I know…people move all the time….so I have been told. Somehow, hearing that doesn’t make me feel better. It sort of reminds me of when people say…”Things could always be worse”, when you are having a bad day. It is dismissive, and not helpful. The whole experience is becoming more overwhelming than I ever thought it would be.

The kids seem to be dealing with it pretty well for the moment, so that allows me a sigh of relief. At least for now. I know it will be bumpy and a learning curve for them as well.

For now I will mark the days off the calendar, and continue to prepare. July 1 will be here in the blink of an eye.

A few times in the past I have spoken here about Michael and haircuts. If you are an autism parent you already know how difficult and utterly exhausting getting your child’s hair cut can be. His first cut was a horrible experience, for us both. After that first cut, we were both ruined for a while. I decided I would start cutting it myself. He still cried. It was still exhausting, and it still took the rest of the day for him to recuperate….every. single. time.

Over time things got better with me cutting, but I am no barber. It always looked okay, but it definitely could have used professional help. One day driving through town, I noticed a barber shop I had never seen before. I took David first. I met Freddy. He did a really good job, and David was comfortable. I thought for a bit and decided I would TRY to take Michael. I expected to walk out in tears. When we got there, I explained that Michael was autistic and really didn’t like cuts from anyone. Freddy talked to him. He joked with him, and made him comfortable. I was in shock. We have always gone back. Michael actually asks to go back.

So when we decided we were going to move, it hit me. I would have to find a new barber for Michael. The thought turned my stomach. The level of trust he has built with Freddy is not something that comes easily. Now we would have to start from square one.  Last time I got Michael’s cut I jokingly (but seriously too) said that if I had unlimited funds I would fly Freddy back and forth just to cut Michael’s hair. Freddy and I are friends on Facebook, and he saw that post.

Well, this weekend I went to get Michael’s hair cut. As we were getting ready to leave, Freddy asked when we would be moving. I told him, in the the beginning of July.

He said to me…..ready…..I hope you are sitting….

He said to me, “My wife and I talked. We will go down to Virginia before the school year starts, so I can cut Michael’s hair.”

I thought I was hearing things. I must have looked like a deer in the headlights and I obviously thought that he was joking. As a matter of fact, I must have asked six or seven times if he was. He was NOT. He was dead serious. He also was not already planning to go to Virginia. The purpose of his trip, from New Jersey to Virginia, would be to cut Michael’s hair.

How do you thank someone for a gift like that? How do you make them understand just how much the gesture means? I still am not sure.
A gift certificate?
A kidney, maybe?

For now, this post is my thanks to you Freddy. You have no idea what that means to me…what it will mean to Michael. You have shown a level of kindness that I don’t know I could ever repay you for.



Both of those pictures were taken after Michael’s very first visit to Freddy’s

I can’t avoid it

This is somewhat personal, but I feel like I need to share it. I have talked once before, quite a while ago, about anxiety. My dad had it. I know I have it. I always have.

Something about me:
I am an avoider. If something bothers me, I try like hell to push it to the back of my mind. I avoid confrontation. I avoid doctors. I…just avoid.

There is a lot going on in my life. We are moving. A big move, out of state. It is taking me from my comfort zone. It is taking me from everything familiar.  There is a lot of uncertainty. I am worried…about everything.

Presently, I feel like there is more going on than run of the mill anxiety. I have never felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, stealing my breath. An elephant sitting on my shoulders, weighing me down. Lately, those feelings are becoming more of my everyday, than not. I feel paralyzed by the thoughts that are constantly swirling around in my head. I can’t avoid it, no matter how hard I have been trying.

I have talked about this feeling with Jason, and a friend or two. The concensus…I need to go back to the doctor. I need to get something that will take this horrible feeling away. I need to be able to focus. I need to not feel like I want to throw the covers over my head, and hide in bed all day. I think people would be suprised to learn I have been feeling this way.

I need to stop making excuses for NOT going to the doctor. Because really, I can roll the excuse list out like a mile long red carpet. Already, a week or two has gone by since this started. I still have not gone to the doctor. That excuse list is pretty damn long. I guess I am putting this out there for me…to sort of be held accountable. To get it out of my head. Also, I know I can’t be the only one to feel like this. The only person that can help me, is me. I can’t avoid it any longer.


This little girl

You all know I have talked so many times in the past about Jordan. She is Michael’s younger sister. Younger, but not by much. They are only 14 months apart.

She is truly an amazing little girl. I really am not only saying that, because she is mine. She has this quality about her. Is it because she has an older brother with special needs? Would she be this way if he was not autistic? I don’t know the answers to either of those questions. What I do know is that there are times that I am completely in awe of this little seven year old girl. She is wise beyond her years…exponentially.

Over the weekend we started talking about roller skates. She has never been on them, ever. However, she really wanted a pair. Jason and I discussed it, and decided I would take her Sunday to buy her a pair…with all the protective gear.  When we were getting ready to leave Michael asked for a pair too. In the back of my mind I kind of knew he was asking because she was getting them. I told him I would take him next time. Jordan said, “Michael, I will get them first and you can watch me skate. If you think you will like them after you watch, then mommy will get you a pair of your own.” She is wise.

We got home with all her gear. I took her outside to test them out. I held her hand and she was soooo wobbly. But, she was holding her own. Michael and David came outside to play. Michael was trying to keep busy. She wouldn’t stop watching him. She was throwing ideas out.

Jordan: Wobble wobble wobble, “Michael, draw with the sidewalk chalk.”

Me: “Jordan be careful and watch where you are going.”

Jordan: “I know mommy.” Wobble wobble wobble, “Or you could play tag. But David, don’t run so fast so he can catch up.”

Me: “Jordan, please be careful.”

Jordan: “I KNOW mommy!” Wobble some more, “Or play hide and seek, but don’t go behind the house because then we can’t see you”

….and so on and so on…

All the while, she was trying to learn to ride in her new skates. Jason took over for a few minutes while I walked away and when I came back, there she was. She was doing it, all by herself. She was rolling around the driveway, but those eyes were fixed on her brother. She was keeping close watch, until he had enough and decided he wanted to go back inside.

She is ALWAYS watching him. She is ALWAYS protecting him. She ALWAYS cares…about everything and everyone. Most undoubtedly the reason she got this in school on Monday.


Here is a picture of her in her skates. They are already looking worn in, and she loves them.


Do I have a future roller derby girl on my hands? Maybe. I don’t know.

What I do know is that we were so incredibly blessed when this little girl came into our world.

Our everyday

It is THAT time of year again.

It is almost April, and that means you will see and hear all things autism for a WHOLE MONTH.

However, autism doesn’t begin and end in April though. For many of us, autism is year round. Autism is our everyday.

Autism is not a thing to be feared. Our loved ones need to be embraced. They need to be accepted. They need to be understood.

Do you not know much about autism? Do you have a question about autism? Ask an autistic. Ask a parent, sibling or caregiver of an autistic child. My bet is that if you did, your questions would be welcomed because:

Autism is our everyday.


That beautiful face you see up there, he is my son Michael.

Does he have ups and downs? Of course. We all do at one point or another.

But…he is happy. He is smart.  He has a magnetic personality. He has a smile that can melt your heart. He is one of the most caring and empathetic people I know. I love him more than life itself, as I do all three of my children. He is a face of autism. He is our everday, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.


***Want to learn more about autism? This link is a great reference: http://m.wikihow.com/Explain-Autism-to-People

The view was amazing

Friday was “Dress up as your favorite book character day” at school. Michael wanted to be Baby Bird, from the book Are You My Mother. I posted this picture last week:


He didn’t want a real costume so I made him that. He loved his wings, and was so excited to go to school and show them off.

What I didn’t realize until he got home from school, was that he really WAS going to get to show them off. Jordan began to tell me that there was a contest in school. Children were picked from each class and brought up on stage. Well….Michael was picked!

A friend of mine, Jessie, saw the picture I posted and sent me this message about what her son Owen said:

“I think Michael should have won the contest.  I dont know his last name, but he was at our bus stop.  It wasn’t just his costume, it was the way he walked across the stage, he did so well”.

As I read that message to my husband, I could not hold back my tears. What a sweet thing Owen said. He has a heart of gold. And…AND, I imagined Michael walking across that stage…beaming..so proud of himself.

I have been crying an ugly cry, with happy tears, while writing this.

I wish I had gotten to see that moment. But, thanks to Owen, I got to see it through his eyes…and the view was amazing.


***Many thanks to Jessie for sharing her conversation with Owen, with me***

Life is a Wiggle

Yesterday was IEP day. It always causes me anxiety and stress. It was the reason that this meme was born:


In the days leading up to it I try to mentally prepare myself for it. I have to admit, I can’t say I have really ever had a bad experience. For that, I am grateful. I really do feel that his team has always had his best interests at heart.

It is just the whole process that puts me on edge. It makes me feel..anxious, uneasy and uncomfortable. I have always attended the meetings alone. Unless of course you count last year. Jordan, my 6 year old at the time, had to come with me. I jokingly called her my “Little Enforcer”.

Yesterday’s meeting went well. He got the services I believe he needs.

The part that gets me, is hearing about where he struggles. It is not something I talk about here often. He does struggle, in so many areas. It is hard to listen to. I know it is coming, but it never makes it easier to hear. Of course I hear the good things too, but it is the struggles that stay in the front of my mind. I left and felt, for lack of a better word, Blah all day. I spent most of it in a sort of fog.

Then, he got home from school. He got off the bus and flashed his handsome little grin at me. “Hi mommy! You know, it is raining out!” He proceeded to walk to the car giggling, and trying to catch the raindrops on his tongue. I just watched him and smiled.

We got home from the bus stop. “Mommy, will you come watch Angry Birds Tunes with me?” Of course I did. And he laughed, his most contagious belly laugh. How could a person not feel better after hearing their child snort from laughing so much.

Yep…some things are more difficult for him, and they may always be. I don’t know what the future holds and I TRY not to think ahead too much. BUT, he works so hard. He has made such progress over the last few years. I have to remind myself of that on days like yesterday. There will always be hiccups, but he is healthy and happy. I really can’t ask for more than that.

As I was writing this, I saw my friend Jane post a picture of the fortune her daughter Janelle got in her fortune cookie. I loved it, and thought it was fitting here:


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