What I Wish I Would’ve Known The Day We Received Our Autism Diagnosis

Thank you to everyone who responded to the post last year about Baylor’s autism journey. I received so many messages and encouraging words – it truly touched my heart. For the first time, I had friends opening up about autism concerns in their kids, asking me questions and looking for guidance. The way the Lord used me was very humbling. There is nothing more important to me than making people feel less alone and broken in this life. I consider it my ministry.

As a follow-up to our story, I wanted to share what I’ve learned since Baylor’s autism diagnosis 2 years ago.

The school he attends completed an ‘educational diagnosis’ on him when he was in Kindergarten. They did this because we didn’t have a medical diagnosis from our psychologist at the time. They were trying to get him the resources he needed from an IEP perspective. To our surprise, his teacher scored him significantly autistic in several categories on the educational paperwork. Chris and I were confused and scared. We didn’t think he was significantly autistic.

We took those test results to the psychologist and based on that data, and the data she gathered on her own, she agreed to give Baylor a mild autism diagnosis. That day, as I drove back to work, thinking of the ranges of diagnosis’s…. not knowing which one was most accurate… I just sobbed and didn’t know what I should do next.

I was also pregnant with Wells and was overwhelmed to think I could possibly have another boy with autism.  This was the day that I realized I needed to quit work and dedicate my time to getting Baylor the help he needed. It was one of the most heartbreaking and life-changing days of my life.

Since then, so much work has been done. With the help of teachers, ABA therapists, a bio-med doctor, and his sheer will-power, Baylor has overcome challenges that I thought would be so hard for him. He’s reading chapter books, making friends, eating school lunches (praise!!!), he’s kind, thoughtful and loving. He’s progressing so well, and it has eased my heart so much. Now that I have this perspective, I wanted to share the things I wish I would’ve known on the day we got his autism diagnosis, in hopes it would help ease your heart, too.

  1. Don’t blame yourself. Do not, for one more second, blame yourself. Autism is nothing you did, did not do, should’ve, would’ve or could’ve done. You are not the cause. All it will do is drain you to nothing but a shell of a human being. Right now, he needs you. He needs that precious energy, and so do you. He’s on the autism spectrum. A lot of people are on the autism spectrum. Move on.
  2. Pray. Pray in the car. Pray before you go into the store. Pray in the store. It can be as simple as “God, I need you! We need you. I can’t do this without you.” Short and sweet. Just pray. Prayer was, is, and always will be, in my opinion, the most powerful weapon in your arsenal.
  3. Lighten Up. Learn to laugh and laugh a lot. Laugh as much as you can. It sure beats the hell out of crying. And truth be told, crying won’t change a damn thing anyway. Laughter will be the second greatest weapon in your arsenal.
  4. He doesn’t need fixing! He is not broken. Focus on helping him to evolve. Help him, teach him and work with him towards evolving into the person God created him to be. Accept that he (just like “typical” children in this sense) will be who he is. Not some ideal of a picture you had in mind. He is unique. He is one of a kind. He just needs a little more help along the way.
  5. Treat him like every other child. When he’s at home, give him little special treatment. Give him the same structure as his siblings. We expect Baylor to do all the things he should be doing at 8 years old… wash himself, dress himself, brush teeth, brush hair, find something to eat, get the mail, bring the trash can down the driveway. The bar is set high because we know he has the skills.
  6. Be patient. Be patient a lot. Learn patience quickly. And I don’t mean just with him. Be patient with yourself, too. You’re not perfect, and you don’t need to have this all figured out. No one expects you to. And you know what else? No one else has it all figured out either!
  7. Avoid autism tunnel vision. Do not make it all about autism all the time. Quit with the “If he didn’t have autism he would/wouldn’t do blah, blah, blah.” While sometimes that may be true, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes he’s stinky because he’s a little boy. Sometimes he’s cranky because he’s a little boy. He’ll have some good days, and he’ll have some bad days. And sometimes that will have absolutely nothing to do with autism.
  8. Get thicker skin. Ignore the stares and silent glances. People won’t always be kind or compassionate. Forget them. You walk in like you own that store or restaurant. Walk in like you both belong there. Because you both do.
  9. Embrace the curveballs. There will be times when curveballs will happen — skills your son will acquire, then without cause or explanation, lose. There will be times you’ll think a certain less-than-desirable behavior is under control, and then — boom! — it’s back with a vengeance. But you’ll learn this is all part of the ebb and flow of autism. He will progress, he will regress, he will progress again. The curveballs will happen, but you’ll learn to swerve.
  10. Love him. Love yourself. Love the journey. Above all else, the love is what will keep you going. And here is where you have an advantage above those who have not been on a journey like yours. The love you’ve gotten to experience is unlike any other love you will ever know. It has pushed you, pulled you, damn near broken you, and because of that, it’s the strongest love there is. It has been pushed to the brink and withstood Every. Single. Time.

In the two years since Baylor’s autism diagnosis — I am different.  I don’t look at people the same. I don’t judge. I’m kinder. I’ve met some of the most amazing people along the way. Therapists and teachers, whose life’s-callings are to help kids like mine succeed… my heart could literally explode with gratitude. As a result of knowing amazing people like this, I am a better person.

This journey is not for the weak. It doesn’t necessarily get easier. There are no promises that it will… but my boy is the same boy that walked out of that office after receiving his diagnosis two years ago. He is still the kind hearted, loving boy I’ve always known. He has just acquired more skills and knowledge.

I however, walked out different. I was changed. I walked out a badass. I just didn’t know it yet.

What I Wish I Would’ve Known The Day We Received Our Autism Diagnosis by popular Alabama lifestyle blogger Carli Best
What I Wish I Would’ve Known The Day We Received Our Autism Diagnosis by popular Alabama lifestyle blogger Carli Best
What I Wish I Would’ve Known The Day We Received Our Autism Diagnosis by popular Alabama lifestyle blogger Carli Best

The BEST big brother!!

Baylor- 8

Loxley- 5

Wells- 19 months

Holiday Home Decor Tour + Giveaway
It was so much fun decorating our house this holiday season! We moved into our new house in June, and it’s been quite a task to decorate it using the furniture & Holiday home decor items we already had. I did end up having to get new pieces, like rugs and tables, but I kept it as affordable as possible (thanks to Amazon and Wayfair). And just so you know, all these pictures were taken while the kids were preoccupied upstairs, or at school, or when the baby was napping… cause let’s be real… our houses are NEVER this clean for longer than 10 minutes. I wasn’t able to get as many pics as I like, but I think I got enough for you guys 🙂
Make sure to read to the end of this Holiday home decor post and enter the giveaway for the $750 Amazon gift card! Woo hoo!

Holiday Home Decor – Entryway

I loved decorating this entryway table! It’s the first thing you see when you walk into our home and it was so ‘happy’. The mirror we had from several years ago (it was in our bedroom and we relocated it) and it’s from Kirklands. The chairs are from Pier 1 and the foyer table is from World Market and you can buy it HERE.

The little houses, garland, snow & baskets are all from Target 🙂

Holiday Home Decor – Kitchen

Our new simple white subway tile backsplash (see blog post about it HERE) is a great canvas for any decorations. For the holidays, I just added a simple wreath and chair garnishments, and they are all from Target! The chairs are from World Market 🙂

Holiday Home Decor – Dining Room

Little known fact… I’ve never actually ‘set’ a dining room table before! I didn’t really know what I was doing but I just picked up a few things from Hobby Lobby & Target that I thought would look good together and went with it 🙂 The poinsettia centerpiece is from Target and the tablecloth & chargers are from Hobby Lobby. I kinda feel like I can call myself a legit Southern wife now.

Holiday Home Decor – Living Room

 

We tried something different this year and got an artificial flocked Christmas tree. I searched around and the best price for the quality was definitely King of Christmas from Amazon! It’s a great quality tree and looks AMAZING! For the stockings, I fell in love with the Hearth & Hand collection from Target, so I bought 6 stockings and had them monogrammed at our local embroidery shop. The basket is also from Target and you can shop it HERE. I got the upholstered ottoman from Home Goods a few months ago, and the mirrored end tables are from Amazon

Holiday Home Decor – Exterior

 

I loved all the wreaths on our windows and lights on the front of our house! It was truly magical when it snowed, too!  We weren’t in town, but our kids were and they had a blast!

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and hopefully some of the Holiday home decor I did this year will give you a little inspiration for next year!

This week I decided to team up with some of my favorite bloggers and bring you an amazing giveaway. One lucky reader will win a $750 gift card to Amazon.

Money Can Buy Lipstick | Simply Her Fav | Tonya Michelle 26 | Coming Up Roses | Caitlin Eliza
Sophisticaition | Aquamarine Dreams | Brandi Soileau | Street Style Squad | So Heather
The Middle Page | Rose & Chambray | Simply Classy | Mama In Heels | Pretty in Pink Megan
GoodTimiCha | Trendy Chickadee | Carli Best | Designs by Katy | Beauty with Lily
Manic Style | House of Loren | A Glam Lifestyle | Fashion & Frills | Tall Blonde Bell | Between The PearlsUse the widget below to enter the giveaway. The more “tasks” you complete, the more entries you will receive. The giveaway is open internationally. The winner will be announced (on the widget only) up to 2 weeks after the giveaway has ended. It can take time to select, verify, and get in contact with the winner. If you have any questions about the giveaway process, feel free to e-mail moneycanbuylipstick@gmail.com.a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Year Goals: Making A Change In 2018

Happy New Year! Everyone is talking about their New Year goals for 2018 and I’m definitely in that mode as well. I like to reflect on the previous year, what worked, what didn’t, and what changes need to be made going forward. Doing this provides the wisdom & direction I need when setting new goals.

2017 was a year of wonderful blessings for us. The kids continued to grow and thrive, Chris continued to enjoy his work, and along with being a full-time mama, I got to do what I love: use my words & social media presence to connect with others. I’m humbled that you continue to read and follow my blog. Thank you so much!

As you know, social media can be tricky. It’s a platform for creative people to share the best of the best. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we have to remember all the images are edited and perfected to a T. And while a pretty picture can inspire us, it’s the realness that CONNECTS us. And I always want to be real with you.

I didn’t really like who I became in 2017.

I was overwhelmed and had a bad attitude about it. The stress of taking care of the kids full-time and not having enough time to complete what I WANTED TO DO completely sabotaged my joy to a point that I couldn’t see the blessings right in front of me.

I was becoming short-tempered, resentful, and unhappy.

Anyone who has stayed home with their kids knows that it’s both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you don’t have to split your life in 2 worlds; work and home. No fighting traffic everyday, no dress codes or stuffy boardrooms.  You can take the kids to appointments without feeling guilty for missing work. You can truly dedicate 100% to your family. A curse because there is absolutely no freedom. Simple tasks like getting dressed, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, cooking, eating, washing clothes are really freaking hard to do. The things you have on your agenda can’t get done because of the constant distractions. Texts & emails don’t get returned. Bills are paid late. There is something to be done for a child every minute of every day. This is very hard for my fiercely independent personality. I’m at war with myself constantly.

I took a step back and asked myself why was I getting so easily frustrated and what I could do about it.

I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t in a good place mentally or physically.

It’s all me. It’s my mindset. It’s my expectations. It’s my PRIDE that I can accomplish my individual New Year goals with three kids. I’m doing it to myself.

Yes, kids are a source of frustration, but it’s not their fault that I get frustrated easily. They are just being kids, pushing boundaries, being curious.

So I’m going to take back control of my life and my attitude, and here are the New Year goals and changes I’m making in 2018 in order to do this:

  1. Exercise- It’s been over 2 years since I’ve worked out. This is absolutely why I feel so defeated. I need a physical outlet or else I don’t feel like myself.
  2. Eat better & drink more water- I’ve been eating way too much processed food and not making healthy choices. I will drink half my body weight in ounces of water per day. No excuses.
  3. Expect Less- Let go of the pressure that I put on myself and the kids. This means not letting the to-do list run our lives. Things will get done eventually and that’s ok. There is beauty in imperfection and uncertainty. I want to embrace this more.

I’ve already started progress on these New Year goals and I’m so excited about it. It’s unlike me to not be happy & content, and like I’ve shared in a previous blog post, it’s up to US to make changes towards a happy life. No one else is going to do it for  us.

2018 will be an awesome year for my family! I’m excited about what this year holds!

P.S. If you aren’t where you want to be, it’s ok to take a step back and reevaluate where you are in your life and make changes if necessary. The Lord gives us a clean slate each day to make better choices and become the best version of ourselves. What a great opportunity.

Shop My Current Faves 🙂

 

New Year’s Eve Outfit Ideas

Here are four different New Years Eve outfit ideas, using the same accessories… necklace, earrings, handbag & shoes! You can see where I got each item under the pictures below.

4 STYLISH NEW YEARS EVE OUTFIT IDEAS

First, this amazing velvet blazer! I love this look because it’s classy & sophisticated.

New Years Eve Outfit Ideas by popular Alabama style blogger Carli Best

 

This New Years Eve outfit is more glam. The faux fur vest gives it a flair that takes it to another level (and it’s only $17!). The edgy nail color looks great paired with it!

New Years Eve Outfit Ideas by popular Alabama style blogger Carli Best

This velvet dress is super cute & affordable & on trend! I love the purple color!

New Years Eve Outfit Ideas by popular Alabama style blogger Carli Best

 

Metallic skirts are everywhere right now. Pair it with a black faux fur vest & cami and you have an ultra glam look.

New Years Eve Outfit Ideas by popular Alabama style blogger Carli Best

 

I hope these New Years Eve outfit ideas give you a little inspo for the upcoming New Year’s Eve celebrations! Have fun!

Holiday Gift Guide For Kids: All From Amazon!

Every parent I know is totally shopping Amazon for all their Christmas presents this year. I’ve rounded up all the best gifts I could find in this gift guide for kids, that we either 1) already have and love or 2) my kids have asked Santa for this year. I’ve added the price & notes in each product to help you make your decision.

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE FOR KIDS

Just as a reminder, when you purchase an item through my links on this gift guide for kids, either on this page, or any of my shop pages on my blog, I receive a small commission. I won’t know who or what was purchased. I really appreciate you supporting my blogging efforts and giving me a little back for the time and research I put in. Please consider coming back over to my page and purchasing through one of these links before completing your purchase. I’d be so grateful!

 

Currently loving:

 

With the holidays approaching, I decided to team up with some of my favorite bloggers and bring you an amazing giveaway. One lucky reader will win a $950 gift card to Nordstrom.

Money Can Buy Lipstick | Rebekah Elizabeth | Sophisticaition | Outfits & Outings | Classy Sassy
The Style Sauce | The Polished Posy | Britt + Whit | Nina Tekwani | Trendy Chickadee
Style Weekender | RD’s Obsessions | The Classic Brunette | Caitlin Eliza | Pine Barren Beauty
Have Need Want | Something Dashing | Blush & Blooms | Absolutely Annie | Street Style Squad
Cameron Proffitt | By Brittani Lauren | Aquamarine Dreams | A New York Love Affair
South Coast Style OC | Blondes & Bagels | Sunflowers and Stilettos | So Heather | Coming Up Roses
Simply Classy | Dress Me Blonde | The Chic Series | The Blue Hydrangeas | Carli Best

Use the widget below to enter the giveaway. The more “tasks” you complete, the more entries you will receive. The giveaway is open internationally. The winner will be announced (on the widget only) up to 2 weeks after the giveaway has ended. It can take time to select, verify, and get in contact with the winner. If you have any questions about the giveaway process, feel free to e-mail moneycanbuylipstick@gmail.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway