Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year Is Coming - 2011, Watch Out Aspierations Friends

Are you looking forward to 2011, Aspierations friends?

I am!  Although 2010 has certainly had its merits, opportunities and fun memories, it has had a boatload of challenges as well.  I suppose many of you out there would find that applicable to your own lives.

If you have been wondering where I have been hiding, let me tell you that the month of December for the past 10 years has been a month where I work, work, work and then work some more.  For those of you who don't know, I am co-owner with my husband of an online retail business called Count Your Beans. We sell dolls, bears and collectibles through eBay, Amazon and our own website and the period between Thanksgiving and a few days before Christmas is the time when we work amazingly long hours to try and earn enough money to carry us through slower times.

It's sometimes hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit and this year was a difficult one.  The month between my birthday (Thanksgiving) and Christmas provided a lot of testing of confidence, faith and courage.  Although highlights of the month included taking the kids to an Autism Society of America holiday party, visiting Santa Claus, watching Ryan in his preschool church production and looking at holiday lights in the neighborhood, there was a lot of tension in our household throughout the month. I didn't like that and as much as I did to try and change it and focus on faith and love, there was just a lot of stress coming both from the business and daily life.  Next December will be a better one!

Christmas Day itself was a happy one. We have a lot to be thankful for. Love my boys!

When I founded Count Your Beans back in 1999, we saw steady sales increases for about 8 years. I was really proud of what John and I had accomplished.  Then we moved from California to Washington and the past couple of years have not been at all what we had hoped for despite trying to be creative and innovative. I won't go into all of that in detail but let me just say that with expenses rising and profits lowering, something has to change.  We've been looking at diversifying our product lines and adding along different income opportunities.  For me that will likely include blogging, freelance writing and continuing to follow my calling of building Aspierations into a portal of optimism, faith and encouragement for spectrum travelers and those who love them.

I started writing the Aspierations blog in 2010 with high hopes that I would be able to promote Autism and Asperger's awareness, acceptance and empowerment for those on the spectrum and families and friends who are touched by spectrum travelers. Although I am proud of the work I have done blogging this year, there is certainly much more to be done and I am optimistic that 2011 will provide open windows and doors of opportunity for me to let my light shine and follow my passions and dreams.

I have so much to write about in terms of family stuff for the past month but I'll save that for a future blog. Right now I just wanted to let my Aspierations friends out there know that I'm back, I'm pumped up and I am motivated to blog regularly in 2011.  For those who stopped by in December wondering when I'd write again, thanks so much for caring.  It feels good to know that there are people out there so thoughtful.  I look forward to getting to know you better in the new year and hope that you'll take the ride with me.

Anyone out there have any special plans?  Tonight John and I will be spending a fun evening at home enjoying a traditional New Year's Eve dinner of chicken and cheesy noodles and playing games on the Wii with Justin and Ryan.  We got a new game for Christmas from my parents called Wii Party and it has been a lot of fun to play.  It's actually a very good game for spectrum kids to use for learNing social and cooperative interactions with others.  I'll share more about this later.

Yes, we are toasting with candles! Let Your Light Shine!

If you feel like it, please let me know your resolutions! If not, please say hi below and let me know you're still here!  I've missed you, Aspierations friends and look forward to ringing in 2011 with you!  May we all let our lights shine this upcoming year!



Saturday, December 4, 2010

3 Weeks Til Christmas and a touch of Comedy Gold

Happy December, Aspierations Friends!

Are your children ready for Santa Claus? Celebrating the reason for the season?


I'm sorry it has been so long since my last blog entry. To those who recently posted comments or questions on my Stimming Series blog entries, thank you.  I will be responding to your comments very shortly directly on the applicable posts.

For now, I wanted to dash off a quick entry to say that I realize I have a lot of catching up to do and I plan to work on that shortly.  Those of you who have visited my blogs in the past may know that in addition to being the mom of 2 amazing boys and writing my Aspierations blog, I also co-own a Dolls, Bears and Gifts Collectibles business with my husband called Count Your Beans.  We sell online at our own website and also through venues such as eBay, Amazon, Shop-A-Tron and Silent Auctions at the Count Your Beans blog.

As you can guess, this is our busiest time of year and although I certainly had intended on blogging since my Thanksgiving birthday on November 25th, we've been having one heck of a ride here family-wise, health-wise and business-wise.  As such, I appreciate your understanding and hope that you will bookmark my blog and visit again soon.  Although I do plan on blogging in December, I will certainly be more prolific come January!  Hopefully my sense of humor will shine through then again as well!


Quick Family News catch-up:

Health Stuff: 

** Ryan has now had a cough for a number of weeks.  Fortunately he seems to be at the tail end of it.  

** We took Ryan and Justin to the doctor on Friday and both had check-ups and immunizations / boosters.  Ryan had 4 shots and Justin had 2 including a tetanus shot.  Neither was particularly impressed and requested more, however both boys handled the experience with bravery and I'm proud of them for doing so well. 

Note: Considering Ryan's regression with speech and social behaviors shortly after a previous immunization cocktail, I have to say that John and I were a bit hesitant and concerned at how the shots would affect his behavior short-term and if there would be adverse effects long-term.  Ryan was definitely *off* for the rest of the day and although I didn't see the spinning stim very much, there was lots of extra bouncing and irritability. He's usually a handful but on this day, I'd say 3 hands full!  We will continue to watch him. His behavior today seems more back to usual so I'm optimistic that there wasn't any sort of allergic or adverse reaction.

Justin had a sore arm and was more tired than usual but seemed otherwise in good spirits. 

We spoke with the doctor about a number of different health concerns related to autism and Aspergers including sleep issues, nutrition, mood swings, headaches, focus and food allergies.  I didn't really get the answers I was looking for, however I did my best to advocate for the boys and will continue to do so.

** John has been sick the past week and has a really bad lingering cough.  It's got to be tough doing shipping in the cold garage in yucky weather when you're feeling icky.  He has been a trooper.

** I have been trying to avoid the flu but still have headaches and dizziness.  Yippee.

** There are some serious health issues in our extended family as well.  To protect privacy, I won't say who but I will say that it makes me very sad.  If you would please keep our family and extended family in your thoughts and prayers, I would be quite grateful.  Blessings to you as well.

** There seems to be an edge of tension in our family right now and it has been there for about a week and a half.  I'm trying my best to mediate and work through things with everyone but there are a lot of contributing factors that make it challenging.  Lack of sleep, temper challenges, nutrition, mood swings, people being sick, trying to run a business, stress, family stuff...  It has been TOUGH and I hope and pray for peace and togetherness in our family soon and building upon a foundation of love and aspierations for the future.

Non-health Stuff:

On the plus side, the boys did get to see Santa Claus today and both were excited!  We went to a local event where if you donated a toy, you got to have your picture taken with not only Santa Claus but Mrs. Claus too!  This was a very special treat because she doesn't tend to make it out for the photo ops as often as Santa.  The official photos are supposed to be emailed to us but we snuck a couple with our digital camera.

Justin promised to email a list to Santa soon!

 Ryan wanted to make sure that Santa knew he would like CARS for Christmas!

Ryan has been tricycling up a storm and we believe is ready skill-wise to move up to a bicycle with training wheels.  Safety-wise... I'm not so sure.  Following directions and understanding safety concepts are life skills we continually work on.

Justin just finished his first trimester in middle school and brought home all A's. A is for Awesome!  He will greatly miss his interesting elective, CEO Boot Camp (GREAT class for budding entrepreneurs) but is looking forward to his next elective, Pre-Engineering.  

On a completely unrelated note, John and I are HUGE fans of the show, Survivor and have watched it faithfully every season.  Who out there couldn't believe Thursday night's episode when both NaOnka and Kelly purple quit?  SERIOUSLY!  What on earth were they thinking giving up a chance in a lifetime like that? This has certainly been a bizarre season.  I can't say I'm finding many people to root for but there have certainly been a lot of crazy incidents and weird game moves. Must be something weird in the water...

A December Laugh:

As I mentioned previously, we've had a few challenges recently. I needed a good laugh and got one the other day when Ryan left our office (presumably to go down the hall and to the bathroom) and came back looking like this:

His comment? "Look! I'm wearing Mommy's BOOBY protectors!!!"  I tell you, Aspierations buddies, I do not make this stuff up.  Ryan provides me with comedy gold on a consistent basis and it is one of the many reasons I love him so.

Let your light shine, Aspierations friends! 
I'd love to hear from you!  Please drop me a line in the Comments section below!  Anonymous is fine too!

Hope to hear from you soon!  How are you celebrating the season?