Moving to Dallas and away from all my family and friends was difficult; but we were excited. Dallas sounded so cool...big houses, great shopping, and friendly people. Quickly, our excitement and dreams for our family in our new destination disappeared. Autism happened fast after moving. It was so overwhelming and lonely. I didn't have time to even meet my neighbors before life was changing and we were secluding ourselves from everyone. I. Mean. EVERYONE. I couldn't be around anyone. It was so painful.
But there have been some people that I did let (albeit hesitantly) into our lives. And, some of those people made what seemed like an impossible, lonely journey, much more hopeful and, dare I say, fulfilling. Some led me to resources and more friends to make this time livable.
I want to dedicate this post to some people (and places) in Dallas who have made all the difference in the world. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. In order of meeting... :)
To Jennifer Caffee- I don't even know if you read my blog; but maybe one day, you'll google your name (doesn't everyone do that?) and find this dedication. Thank you for being honest. You were the very first person to talk to us about autism and give us a direction. You were a friend although you were just doing your job. You are a big part of how/why Drew got help so early. Just wanted you to know that you made a difference, thank you.
To Pei and Sandra- My sweet, sweet neighbors. I could not have asked for better and more caring neighbors. You both have welcomed us unconditionally and truly did your best to help us fit in. I'm sorry that we didn't spend more time together. We had the perfect scenario...the cul-de-sac, the boys, the time; but in the beginning, it was so tough to be around the other boys. Our hearts ached for Drew to act like your boys. And, still it aches when he fusses and doesn't want to play like your boys. We secluded ourselves because we were embarrassed, heartsick, insecure. I wish that we would have taken more advantage of our time as neighbors. I'm so sad that finally we are at a better place; but we won't be able to grow together. I will miss you both and your sweet, beautiful children. Thank you....
To Leah- My first friend in Dallas that I met while out trying to be normal. LOL. You have been an inspiration to me since the day I met you. You are so beautiful with an equally beautiful testimony. Thank you for the girl's night outs and talks. You helped me feel normal. I hope we continue to keep in touch!
To Tracy - Thank you for your hard work for our community. It is truly unbelievable that someone could be so incredibly selfless and do so much for others. You were our first real "hope" and I appreciate all the help that you gave to my family. It was our first step on the road to recovery. Thank you for making that possible...not just for us but for so many other families.
KRISTENE!! Well, where do I begin? I miss you already. I've missed you for months. You were my partner in crime. My first Warrior Mommy Battle Buddy. I love you and I wish that we had lived even closer; so that we could have had more time together. It may not seem like it lately (since we have such chaotic schedules); but your friendship was a complete lifesaver during such a difficult time. Thank you. PLEASE keep in touch, call, visit, etc. I don't want to think that this is it!
To Kaia- What a terrific, random, surprise and edition to our family! It's funny how fate works. We found you through a passing acquaintance and couldn't have been happier. Thank you so much for your loyalty and dedication. Thank you for your genuine care and concern. You have been so wonderful with Drew! You've seen him through his babbling, to first words, then sentences, potty training, now school. You're the big sister he'll never have. You are talented and I hope that you continue to work in this realm. You will make even more differences. We will miss you but hope you'll keep in touch!
To Ms. Annette and Amy- My breakfast buddies. Ladies- thank you for the friendship. Both of you are amazing women and I admire you both for your dedication and devotion. I will miss our comfy, cozy La Madeliene breakfast/brunches. The warmth of our friendship was something that I have so desperately relied on to stay sane during that past couple of years. You and your families are part of mine. I will pray for you, think of you, and wish continued success on this journey. And, feel free to contact "The Guru" at anytime. I'm here for you although I may not have the right answers...I'll sure try. :)
To Bonnie- My Dear Bonnie. Our random internet meeting, turned 4-5 hour breakfast turned brunch turned lunch talks, have been a complete lifesaver! You are one of the most dedicated, hardworking, Warrior Moms I know. Your family is such a great example to others. Thank you....thank you for taking me in and wanting to be my friend. I am so very grateful to have met you. You are my rock and I don't want to think about not having you every week to discuss EVERYTHING! I don't want to type a goodbye to you and I certainly don't want to say goodbye. Thank goodness for the internet and our blogs! I will keep up with Josh and his progress always. Your family will always be so important to us. I can't type anymore because well, I just can't...just know, that you have made an impact in my life and I thank you for it.
To Laura- A.K.A. "Waurwa". Wow, what a gift you have been to us! Any family lucky enough to have you work with their child should be so very thankful. Drew loves him some Waurwa and so do we! I seriously hope that you and Jim will come see/stay with us in Florida. Thank you for loving Drew and taking him under your wing. You have been able to get through to Drew in ways that NO ONE could. You have made a huge difference in our lives by your way of working with Drew. I just don't think I can say thank you enough.
To Angela- My Dallas Internet friend..I'm including you in this because you live in Dallas but I don't expect anything to change with our friendship because we've never met in person anyway. :) Boy, you sure have been a Rescue Angel. Thank you for all of your advice and help. Your ideas and "been there" advice has really helped when I was stumped or needing help from someone in the same situation. Not many have the diet restraints that we have. We are both very lucky to have kiddos doing very well...I truly hope that Drew will follow in Mason's recovered footsteps. Thank you so much! And, P.S. Start a blog! :)
To Jennifer Levy- My kindred spirit. Where were you the other 2 years that I was here? I feel like we just have this connection. Although you're a Warrior Momma too, I feel like you're one of my "girls" from back before autism. And, how strange that our children look so much like brother and sister?! LOL. I have so enjoyed our short time as friends- in particularly, our indulgences. We must stay in touch and you must bring your circus to Florida. I mean, they're going to want to go to Disney someday anyway. Keep pushing forward w/ Lucy. She is doing fabulous and reminds me so much of Drew. And, I want you to keep me posted on all her "reactions". Can't wait to have one more night out!!!
Ms. Patti- Oh my..I can't type your name without starting to cry. You have changed our lives... especially Drew's. Seriously, crying. THANK YOU for taking him in and treating him "normal". Thank you for giving us a chance. We feel like we won the lottery having you as Drew's teacher. You have gone above and beyond to accomodate the special restrictions, concerns, and more. You have taught Drew things that we were never able to do. He loves you so much. It breaks my heart to know that I'm going to break his heart when he finds out that you won't be his teacher anymore. Just your name, alone, can bring a smile to that child's face quicker than icecream...that's huge! I'm amazed at how dedicated you are to your "kids". You are very special, gifted, and have truly been a blessing to us. My, how we are going to miss you. I hope that you'll follow our blog to keep up with Drew. You are going to be one of the people that he will always remember - even though he is so young- he will remember you forever. I know it! I feel like I should just keep typing Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
And now for some Shout Outs. I am NOT getting paid to endorse the following companies. I just want you to know of them if you are in the area. They have been extremely helpful in their own way to help us through our Dallas journey.
1.) Sensational Movement- They provide, what we call, gymnastics to kids with special needs. They focus on sensory issues and movement along with social skills. This has been one of the best resources for us. I wish that I could find something similar where we are moving; but places like this aren't on every corner! Super great coaches, management, and dedication. Flexible hours and very reasonably priced. Definitely check them out if you're looking to fill your child's schedule with structured activities! See my testimonial on their website.
2.) Niki's Italian Bistro- Ok, I realize this is a bit off topic but really it's not. This restaurant kept me alive for many, many months. When Hubby first left to live away, I think I kept Niki's in business. Comfort food in Italian fashion. YUMMY! I believe they have three locations but we frequented the Murphy location. It was quaint,great service, cheap, huge proportions, and scrumptious. Give them a try if you're in the area...you won't be disappointed!
3.) Pace Creek Pet Retreat- Have you read on my Facebook page about our dog, Kane, being at Summer Camp? Well, in order to expedite the sale of our house, we needed to send Kane somewhere else to live. We considered our family; but they were too far away. Hubby couldn't take him with him because of housing rules. And, I just couldn't keep up the house the way I needed to with him here. (He's a 90 lb black lab/wiemeriener-sp? mix that barks very loudly, sheds the equivalent of a small dog everyday, and quite frankly scares many people.) So, I remembered that one of our first therapists, Mandy - another gem that we found by chance, had told me about how her mom was opening up a daycare of sorts for dogs and cats. They were so incredibly kind to take him in on short notice for an indefinite period of time and have treated him like a king. This place is truly a retreat!! He gets his own room, with plush bedding, a TV, nightly doggie movies and/or music, a swimming pool, free run of a huge piece of land, tons of fun chasing geese and barking at cows. He isn't going to want to come home! So, if you need to board your dog (or cat) for any length of time, I strongly urge you to check them out! It is worth the drive, trust me! Thank you Pace Creek Pet Retreat!!!
4.) OxyMagic - Green Carpet Cleaners!! I had these guys out to clean our carpets before we put our house up for sale. First- service was excellent. Second- quality was outstanding! Third- price was completely reasonable. Highly recommended. They did such a good job that I felt like I had a brand new house all over again. I still haven't walked on some of the carpet because it looks so amazing. Best of all- they don't use chemicals that are harmful to Drew. He is extremely sensitive so we have to be very cautious.
There have been others so I'm sure I'm forgetting someone or something.