Friday, January 27, 2012

Flashback Friday: McPhail Family EMHE

One of my most popular posts is about the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for the McPhail family. Lindsay McPhail is a mommy blogger friend of mine! It was so incredible to watch their new home revealed this past fall. I was in tears when Ty Pennington yelled, "Move that bus!"

If you were not already aware, the show ended this month. The McPhail's were one of the last families to receive a home from the EMHE team.

It was always so inspirational to learn the story behind the deserving families chosen and then see the transformation of their home. I will definitely miss the show...but not necessarily the ugly crying I always did during the reveal! 

I hope you enjoy reading about the McPhail family and their new home courtesy of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Recent Feature in TV and Movies: Autism

It’s really interesting to see how autism is becoming subject matter in today’s television shows and movies. I think it is a positive step, since most of the population really has no concept of what autism looks like beyond Dustin Hoffmann’s portrayal of Kim Peek in Rain Man.  

Obviously there are more than what I will list here, but these are ones I’d like to highlight:

The Big Bang Theory
I first learned about this show from a professional who worked with teenagers with Aspergers. He was teaching a class about high-functioning forms of autism and I remember him stopping the lecture to tell us about the TV show. He talked about how the character of Sheldon Cooper was the ultimate conglomeration of his past and present clients with Aspergers. He told us a couple of funny anecdotes from the show and how they paralleled some experiences he’s had with his clients. I knew at that moment that I had to check the show out. I’ve been watching it ever since. True to form, it makes for a silly sitcom with a character that all of us autism moms can love.

Temple Grandin
You may recall Claire Danes winning some awards for her role as Temple Grandin. We’re talking Emmy, Screen Actor’s Guild and Golden Globe! I would have to agree that her depiction of Temple was spot on and the movie was incredible. Prior to watching the movie, I saw interviews with Temple and read some of her books. Based upon what I already knew about Temple, it was obvious that Claire spent quite a bit of time to develop her mannerisms in order to accurately represent her. The movie is a must see! I particularly enjoyed how the Director visually showed the sequencing of information through Temple’s mind. It really felt like a window into her thought process, which was very interesting. If you have a child with autism, no matter where they fall on the spectrum, I think watching this movie is time well spent!  

Starring Keifer Sutherland, this is a TV show that is set to air in March. They will have a special preview on January 25th. This drama features a 10-year old boy who is nonverbal and exhibits many traits of autism. He has a way of seeing complex patterns in things around him. The show follows the relationship and attempts at unconventional communication between him and his father. You should really watch the video clip! It looks like it could easily be a movie trailer and it looks really good!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
This movie was just released on January 20th. It stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock as parents of a 9-year old boy who has symptoms of autism. The father dies on 9/11 and the movie documents the journey of the son as he tries to make sense of his father’s death. He focuses on a mysterious key as a clue from his father, launching him on a healing journey of discovery throughout New York. After watching the trailer for this film, it is one I would very much like to see. I haven’t had time to yet, so I welcome any comments from those who have seen it.

These are just a few recent examples of how autism has become a thematic element in Hollywood. I’m glad to see autism coming up as a topic in works besides documentaries, and I look forward to seeing more shows and movies that add to autism awareness.
Have you seen any of these? Which ones did I not mention that I probably should have? Share your favorites in the comments below.   

Friday, January 20, 2012

Flashback Friday: Sensory-Friendly Room Makeover

As promised in my first blogiversary post this week, I am sharing some of my favorite posts from the past year. One post that consistently remained my most popular (until it got knocked down a few notches a couple of months ago) was when I described the sensory-friendly bedroom makeovers I did for my boys.

The room makeovers are just as popular with the neighborhood kids and friends from school as they are with my boys. There's something about a sensory swing that kids just love, no matter if they are neurotypical or not.

So, I hope you click over and read about what my husband and I did to make the boys' bedrooms more sensory-friendly. Maybe you'll get some ideas for your house! 

Click here and please enjoy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy First Blogiversary!

I thought I would do a musical number (of a sort) commemorating my first year anniversary of blogging here at Caffeinated Autism Mom.

To the tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas”…
(By the way, I’ll save you the agony of going through this the LONG way. I’ve written it as if you have reached the end of the song, when it runs down from 12 to 1. But, don't get confused by my numbers - they're my actual numbers and I didn't follow the regular 12 to 1. J) 


On my first blogiversary, I thought I’d share with you:
     About 41,000 page visits
       679 Facebook Fans
         628 Twitter followers
           468 Blog post comments
             170 Posts written
               Over 100 topic labels  
                 Countless late nights writing
                   6 levels in the Pyramid of Craaaaaaaazyyyyyyyy
                     3 fun blog awards (...and Mom of the Month!)
                       2 awesome boys (and a hubby!)
                         1 essay published
                           And buckets of cooooffeeeeeeeeeeee!

I’ll share some of my favorite moments in the coming days. So, be watching for the blog rewind and reminisce with me!
This year has been a wonderful experience! I can’t wait to see what will happen in my second year of blogging. Thank you all so much for being here with me and sharing your time and your friendship. It means a lot.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First kiss...

I can hardly believe I’m writing this, but Monkey had his first kiss last week. I’m still in shock! Of course, Monkey never said a word to me when it happened. I found out from his bus driver the day after. Here’s the skinny:

He was on the bus heading home from school. Due to some issues he’s had with bullying earlier this year, all seats are assigned on the bus. He typically sits by himself, which is how he likes it. However, on this particular day there was a girl sitting with him. I’ll call her the Divine Miss M. Since I’m friends with her mom, Monkey has known her since she was born. The Divine Miss M is the same age as Prince Charming, and they’ve all grown up fairly close to one another.
Anyway, he was apparently having a nice ride home on the bus with her sitting next to him and he decided to kiss her on the cheek. Her response? She smacked him on the head!
After the kiss happened, the bus driver had a little chat with him about how it’s not okay to kiss anyone on the school bus and that he should not do that again. Once I found out about the situation from the bus driver, I spoke with the mom and told her about it. She, of course, already knew about it. You gotta wonder what it must be like to have neurotypical kids that offer up information willingly…
So, I waited for quiet moment when Prince Charming wouldn’t interrupt us, and I asked Monkey why he kissed the Divine Miss M. He said it was because he loves her. I have to admit I was a bit surprised by his statement. I wasn’t sure what he thought love meant, so I probed further. I asked, “Why do you love her?” He replied, “Because she’s nice to me.”
There are some items of note here. First, Monkey used to be a hands-off kind of kid. He didn’t like to be touched and I didn’t get a lot of cuddling time with him when he was little. Second, he has a difficult time expressing emotions and tends to be on the more serious side of life. He only began saying, “I love you” spontaneously to my husband and I not much more than a year ago. The very idea that he was willing to kiss a friend (who happens to be a girl) because he “loves” her is a very big deal. It actually made my heart swell with pride. That’s progress!
He and I have taken some time to talk about things a few times in the past couple of days. I discovered that although he was upset that she hit him on the head in response to his kiss on her cheek, he was more distraught by the fact that the bus driver pulled him aside to tell him it wasn’t okay. He doesn’t like to feel like he’s in trouble and be the center of negative attention in front of other kids, so this was a little upsetting to him. He has since decided that he won’t try to kiss her anymore because he doesn’t want to get smacked on the head again. I am not sure if he thinks of the Divine Miss M as “cute,” but I have a suspicion that he does. In his mind, I would venture to say that he equates niceness with being cute.
Something interesting happened the other night. I briefly mentioned the girl’s name as Monkey was going to bed and my hubby was standing behind me when I did it. I saw Monkey’s face change. I could swear it was a sudden flash of embarrassment. I can honestly say that I had never seen that type of emotional response from him before. In the dim light it looked like his cheeks were starting to turning red, which was amazing to me! I immediately shut my mouth and dropped the subject, honoring what I thought I saw from him. The next morning I spoke with Monkey so I could clarify what I witnessed the night before. He told me that he was fine talking about the Divine Miss M with me, but that he didn’t think that we should talk about it with his Dad. It appears it really was embarrassment. More progress!
I was practically reeling from the normalcy of the whole situation. Could this all be really happening? I definitely didn’t see this coming! Although it wasn’t entirely appropriate for this age, I am actually very proud of Monkey. He’s come a long way. So many things have changed for him to even approach a moment like this. All of these things combine together for some thrilling progress!
As far as the kissing stuff goes…oh boy. He just turned 9 and I’m not ready for this stuff yet! 

Friday, January 13, 2012

The pyramid of crazy

If you are a parent of a child with autism, you quickly realize that there are new levels of crazy you have never experienced before. If you are a woman, this intensifies the situation. This topic came up the other day when I was in a mood. I had a headache that suddenly appeared and was escalating fast, my boys were driving me nuts, and, well, I was hormonal and felt like crap.

I had a full car as we headed off to therapy. In addition to my kids, I also had my husband and Miss C with me. Instead of the adults staying to participate in the therapy session, we dropped the boys off and got back in the car since I needed headache medicine in the form of a hot, caffeinated beverage. Miss C made an off-hand comment on our way to Starbucks. Sensing my mood before we left for the appointment, she chose not to say anything at the time because she knew I would likely maim her in some fashion. She was right. So, in the relative safety of the car (and the protection of my hubby) she shared her little quip about how she had been afraid to say something to me earlier that afternoon and instead chose to shut her trap for fear of the bodily harm I might have done to her.
My hubby laughed. Loudly. I whipped my head around to glare at him. He immediately changed his body posture and looked back at me timidly. I made some stern remark about how I was hormonal, I had cramps, I had a headache, I was in a pissy mood and you better not mess with me. (You should know that I’m really not as mean as I make myself sound…I had a humorous glint in my eye and a smile on my face while I was laying down the law.) Titan, sensing the mood was clearing a bit, replied with something to the effect of, “Yes, dear. Okay, dear. Anything you say, honey. I luuuuuv you.” With that we all broke into laughter.
Somehow this interchange started us in the direction of the different kinds of crazy we have observed. I got to talking about how you don’t want to mess with an autism mommy because she will cut you if you talk smack about her kids. We starting coming up with some hilarious anecdotes and we were all laughing very hard. Laughter is good medicine for headaches. And, coffee helps, too! I mentioned that all the talk about crazy would make a great topic for a blog post and I tucked it away in my brain for later.
Well, it does make a great topic for a blog post! I got to thinking about the conversation we had in the car and let my mind wander and funny stuff starting popping into my head. I actually cracked myself up and began laughing out loud while I was pondering what I would write about. I was imagining a diagram of crazy, much like you might see with the USDA’s Food Pyramid. Coming up with the names of the levels practically made me cry with laughter, so I knew I had to write about it. I crack myself up sometimes. And, here it is…the pyramid of crazy:

(It's kind of hard to read when it's so small... You can click on the image to make it larger.)
Would you like a little explanation?
Level 1: Tired, Hormonal, and/or Uncaffeinated crazy
This is the most common form of crazy and we’ve probably all been there quite often. Some autism moms can be afflicted by this form of crazy every day, to varying degrees. Lack of sleep, chronic stress, wacked out hormones and always being in need of caffeine is part of the job description. And yes, it does make you crazy one day at a time.  
Level 2: Gird your loins, I may cut you crazy
This is affectionately known as the Tonya Harding level of crazy. I can say that because I grew up in Oregon and worked at the mall where she practiced before she became all famous. I feel a little bit entitled to use her name for my gain, especially after her crazy unleashed itself at the Olympics and later in the wrestling ring. Anyway…this level is achieved when you have been at level 1 for too long, or if you have multiple forms of level 1 happening at the same time. Tired, hormonal AND uncaffeinated? That is a situation ripe with “I may cut you” potential! And, if your hubby is reason you are going crazy and you have the desire to whack him, you might warn him to gird his loins. They could become a target if he’s not careful!  
Level 3: Rubber room, reservation for 1 crazy
If after being at level 1 and possibly level 2 for an entire day (or an hour, depending on how predisposed to crazy you are), you may find yourself with the intense desire to go hide in your bedroom, lock the door, rock gently in the corner, and hum, “Soft Kitty” to yourself (thank you Sheldon Cooper for a song of comfort). You may feel the urge to escape your child with autism because they won’t stop scripting {insert the name of the cartoon you most loathe here}, stimming and/or melting down and you are about to snap or start the ugly sobbing that won’t stop without copious amounts of chocolate or alcohol.
Level 4: Batsh*t/Killer rabbit crazy
This level is known as Batsh*t crazy for most of you, but for the hardcore Monty Python fans (like we are at my house), the preferred name is Killer rabbit crazy. The Killer rabbit comes from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I love what Wikipedia says about this character: “The rabbit is now used as a metaphor for something ostensibly harmless which is, in fact, deadly.” I can tell you from personal experience that if I have worked up to the Rubber room level and my emotions are raw from a rough day (or several days in a row of full-blown autism at its finest), this level is unavoidable as you become like an exposed nerve that can turn into full, insane crazy at the drop of a hat.  
Level 5: Blue-faced warrior crazy 
Do you remember the scene at the end of the movie Braveheart when Mel Gibson’s character is standing at the top of a hill making his big speech about them never taking away his freedom, and then he proceeds to fight with his army to the bitter, bloody end? Now imagine that your child with autism is a target of some idiot that decided to judge you as a bad parent and your child as a snot-nosed brat because they are having a meltdown while standing in line at a store. You will move easily up to Blue-faced warrior as you defend your child with a savage verbal attack before you feel compelled to go cry in the car. Have you ever seen a mob of autism mommies form out of thin air to circle the wagons around a family that has been harmed in some way as a direct result of their child’s autism? We are a vicious bunch when we are angry and have climbed the levels of crazy. Let me tell you…we are a force to be reckoned with. I think the blue paint would be an added bonus, given that blue is often associated as the color of autism. Can you imagine us running down that hill in our warrior paint screaming at the top of our lungs as we attack the stupid people? It’s an awesome visual, isn’t it?
Level 6: Shotgun crazy
The best way to describe this level of crazy is the picture from my Shotgun Mama post. If you’ve had a particularly rough time recently with your child and you are at the end of your rope, you may do like I do and call your husband to warn him that if he doesn’t start heading home from work the kids may not survive. When you’ve reached the top level of the crazy pyramid you may feel like if one more crappy thing happens people are gonna die. You know that I say this in jest. Jail just doesn’t fit in with my boys’ therapy schedule! Some autism mommies I know will take a vacation day away from their kids. I’d say that’s a good plan if you can swing some time away from your precious angels. Before going postal, you might consider talking with a mental health professional. I’m just sayin’.  
One last thing about the pyramid of crazy:
You don’t have to move through each level in succession. It is possible to be in more than 1 level at a time or to skip levels as you work through your particular brand of crazy.
We all have some sort of crazy inside of us, and autism has a way of magnifying that. You are not alone in your crazy. We are all right there with you. Revel in it and claim your level!
Take a deep, cleansing breath. Happy thoughts. J   

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Checking my assumptions

I have a routine after my monthly support group meetings. On my way home I always stop by a fast food restaurant and pick up a late dinner for hubby and I to share. By the time I get home, the kids are in bed and we have a little time by ourselves to eat, talk, and watch a program together. In our world, this is a date...recliner style. We take what we can get.
As I was sitting in the drive-thru waiting to pay, I was listening to my radio tunes with the window rolled down. (I will have you know that I was respectful with my volume, unlike when I’m Rockin’ Mama.) I kept hearing what sounded like a conversation, but when trying to locate those who were talking I was having a hard time. The drive-thru window was closed and no employees were near the window. There was no one waiting behind me in line. I couldn’t figure it out. The only other person I saw was a woman standing at the corner waiting to cross at the crosswalk. It was very dark outside and the rain was coming down.
Not sure what I was hearing, I turned off the radio and heater (which was blowing on full blast because my window was down). I’m a curious person. I admit it. In fact, my parents used to call me Barbara Walters as a child because I was always asking questions. So, now that there was no background noise to interfere, I began intently listening. And I figured it out. It was the woman waiting at the corner.
I am no stranger to seeing people talking to themselves in a loud manner. I used to work in a community just outside of Seattle when I was in college, relying on a bus for my transport. There was a man who used to be at my stop that would yell and carry on, trying to punch things…like the air. He would argue quite violently with himself and he would get very animated and physical. It was quite disturbing to a young gal in college just trying to get to her work study job and back to her dorm in one piece. But, I got used to it and grew accustomed to his antics and learned to give him space on the days that he was exceedingly “energetic.”
Well, I began thinking about that experience and how crazy that guy seemed all those years ago. With that filter, I started to analyze this woman that was angrily having a conversation with herself at the street corner. The immediate thought I had was that she was obviously crazy. She had a few screws loose. She reminded me a lot of the guy I used to see up in Seattle. And then I watched her do something quite unexpected.
She had been waiting very impatiently for the light to turn so she could cross the street and had been pacing almost the whole time. The light turned and the crosswalk indicated it was safe to cross. She started walking across and got about 1/3 of the way across when the crosswalk light changed to the flashing warning hand (with the time that counts down the number of seconds you have left to safely cross the street). She saw the light change color and exclaimed loudly. Angrily, she turned around and walked back to her starting point to wait again, despite having 13 seconds of time to finish crossing the street.
The one and only Temple Grandin.
She was so flustered that she forgot to push the crosswalk button and waited through another rotation without crossing the street because the light didn’t change. It was at that time that I really noticed what she looked like, and strangely enough, in the illumination of the street lights against the darkness I realized that she resembled Temple Grandin. Soon after, I received my order and drove by her on my way home.
I started thinking about what I just saw, trying to let go of my automatic assumptions. The first thing that stood out was that she was rule bound! She turned around to come back to her starting point rather than continuing across the street when the red hand was flashing. Then, she did not cross the street with traffic flow because the light didn’t tell her she could. I couldn’t hear what she had been saying, but for all I know she may have been upset with the fact that the crosswalk was not cooperating and allowing her to properly cross the street, leaving her to stand longer in the rain without an umbrella.
How many of our kids on the spectrum are rule bound? How many of them talk to themselves or make weird noises? How many of them cannot handle unexpected situations and get angry with unpleasant transitions?
I’ve been entrenched in the special needs community for several years now and I’ve seen a lot. I meet so many families who have children with a wide variety of disabilities and differences that I feel like I have a good grasp on sensitivity. I always believed that I had checked all of that judgmental baggage at the door when we received our diagnosis. I was shocked at how easily it bubbled to the surface while I sat there in that drive-thru. My assumption was that the lady was nuts. But, I immediately realized that was an unfair assessment. There were any number of things that could have contributed to what I saw unfold in front of me. And yes, one of those things could be autism.  
Boy, I have a long way to go.
Do you find yourself still doing this, too?        

Friday, January 6, 2012

An early present to myself

In less than 2 weeks I will celebrate one full year of blogging! It's kind of strange to think about. So much has happened in the past year and it's been quite an experience writing about things as I go. Thank you for joining me!

A couple of my blogger friends have been talking about giving themselves the gift of their own domain. Seeing as how my one-year anniversary is almost here, I looked into it. And...I took the plunge.

I am now the proud owner of my own domain!

If you have my blog bookmarked, you may wish to update the address. It should also automatically redirect if you use the old address.

See ya next week!    

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The cupcake debate

Monkey turned 9! I am still in a state of disbelief. When did he get this big and old, anyway? For that matter, when did I get this old? Sheesh! Next year he'll be double digits and that's kinda freaking me out a bit!!! 

His birthday theme this year is Angry Birds!

Typically I try to bring in something special for his class to help make his day extra nice at school. Since most kids bring in the store-made cupcakes (that Monkey can't eat) for their birthday celebration, I usually focus on bringing a small, non-food gift instead. I don't want Monkey to have the automatic assumption that the only way you can celebrate is with food. And, perhaps my little gift bags make more of an impression on the kids. I know it doesn't really matter, but I like to think of it as one thing I can do to try to help Monkey with being a bit more "cool." He struggles enough to fit in and make friends, so bringing gifts to the class could potentially provide him with a little boost for that day. Who knows if it really does? But I hope that, if nothing else, it brings smiles.

Thinking back to his previous celebrations at school, I realized that I've never brought in a food snack on his birthday. So, I figured it was time.

I left a message with the teacher to let her know that I would be bringing allergy-free snacks to the classroom on his birthday and to please notify me if there were any other allergies I needed to consider since I wanted to make sure every single child could participate (which, sadly, never happens for Monkey).

I pulled out my all-time favorite muffin recipe because it's easy to make, everyone likes it, it's food allergy-friendly, and I don't have to deal with frosting because they taste great without it. What am I referring to, you ask?     

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!

By the way, I call these delectable delights "cupcakes" almost as often as I call them "muffins." Cupcakes sound more birthday-ish, and frankly isn't a cupcake just a muffin topped with frosting? Just a thought...

Be sure to click on the link for all the details. You'll thank me later.

Ready for the classroom!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes...without frosting! :-)
I made extras and not a single one came back home - they all were consumed! Mikey likes it!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

It’s the beginning of a New Year! Last night I got to thinking about 2011 and how, once again, things didn’t turn out the way I expected. But you know what? I’m actually happy that my wishes didn’t all come true. Want to know why? Because for the umpteenth time, God has proven to me that His plan is better than mine. My year actually went better than I could have expected, and although it wasn’t without struggle, God always provided for our family.

My mother-in-law told me several years ago that there is no such thing as a coincidence. Instead, coincidence is actually a “God-incidence.” Those words rang true in my heart and have been a source of comfort to me ever since.   

One highlight of 2011 was starting this blog back in January. It seemed to be an inadvertent whim at the time. I certainly didn’t set out to be a mommy blogger. I didn’t plan to hurt my back and be bored silly because I couldn’t move. But, things happened. And, I’m here. And, you’re here. With me. And, that is truly awesome!

Blogging helped me rediscover my love for writing, which is something I had stuffed away for many years. It gave me the nerve to try writing an essay for inclusion in a book, and the publisher was crazy enough to include my essay in the book! Talk about a dream come true! I’m a bonafide author, of a sort…  
A blessing in disguise was the fact that I didn’t find a job. It didn’t seem very nice at the time and was a huge source of frustration! Despite some great experience and education, I was apparently unemployable. It was hard to deal with the fact that I didn’t even get a single interview despite extensive efforts to find work. That had never been a problem for me before. Ever. That was a tough pill to swallow.  
When we were first married, Titan and I agreed that if we were able to, it was important that I stay at home with our children until they were at least old enough to attend full-day school. As a result, I have been a stay-at-home mom since I had Monkey almost 9 years ago. In the summer of 2010, Titan and I made the decision to get serious about finding a bigger house and we began actively preparing our house to sell. We managed to find our dream home in the best school district in our area, so we had a goal to work toward.
The one thing standing in the way of our dream was that we couldn’t do it all on one income, and I would need to get a job to help pay for it. I was excited about the idea of returning to work. But, as you know, that didn’t pan out. In the meantime, our house continued to decline in value due to the crazy economy and we watched our equity quickly vanish. Now we are in the unfortunate position of not being able to sell without losing money. That’s not a good feeling, but we also know it is not uncommon right now. Remembering that God works in mysterious ways has enabled me to come to terms with the fact that my plan did not materialize in the way I thought it would, and it probably won’t for a very long time. 
Feeling the need to do something (beyond staying up late at night to write blog posts!), I decided to start a nonprofit organization for special needs families. I realized that I could do something I love, even if I was unpaid, and create my own dream job. Why not? I didn’t really have anything to lose! And, I would have never even tried something so crazy, had my plans not failed so miserably. 
You cannot even imagine the things that fell into place to get the ball rolling on the nonprofit! So many things happened in such a miraculous way that I know for certain that I am doing what I should be doing and it’s happening at the right time. And, I am excited to be a part of it. My hope is that one day I will get paid, but for now, I’m happy that I am at least able to tap into my passion for the special needs community and build something great.
God continues to provide and that’s all I can ask for. I believe that everything else will follow in God’s timing and I can’t wait to see what that will look like. Even if I rebel and feel disappointment that things aren’t always “going my way,” I know that in the end, lessons will be learned and blessings will flow from those difficult moments.
As long as I don’t force my own agenda and allow God to work, I know things will be better than I could have imagined. I learned this lesson when I met my incredible husband. Since I tend to be a Type-A control freak, this is a lesson that God continues to teach me all the time. Maybe one day I’ll get it through my thick skull and just make it easier on myself!
So, I intentionally choose to begin this year with a sense of peace and hopeful expectation that things will not go according to my plan and desire, but instead be true to the path that God has for me. I know there will be a lot of hard work and challenges ahead in 2012, but I truly cannot wait to see what blessings will pour forth.
Wishing you all the best for 2012,
Happy New Year!

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