Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 . . . Looking to 2009

1) Rang in the new year with Hilary and the kids, had a blast competing on Sing Star!
2) Hilary's divorce became final, not the greatest time in her life.
3) Moved back in with Hilary, September 2008.
4) Had gastric-bypass surgery in June 2008, have lost 108 pounds so far!
5) Autumn started theraputic horseback riding, loves it!
6) Took our annual trip to Kingswood, NY to camp for a week, then off to Great Wolf Lodge, PA!!!!

WIll add more later, too tired now!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Foster Care

It's been way too long since I have blogged. My life is so busy right now. I decided to save for a lap top primarily so I can sit in bed and blog!!!!

One of my life long friends is in crisis right now. In November through various circumstances she had her 2 children removed from her home by DYFS. One of the stipulations on getting them back home was fixing up her house. That is done. She has worked very hard, along with other church members and her boyfriend, and has gotten her house in tip-top shape.

She went to court Wednesday and DYFS found another loop hole to keep the kids in foster care. There are little things that make her not like the foster parent she is with, such as they are Muslim, her kids are Christians. Her youngest is not allowed to take a bath, they perfer a shower. Her youngest's hair is not being properly taken care of dispite the fact the foster mother is of African-American decent herself.

Her next court date is January 9th. We are praying they will be home. At court on Wednesday the paternal grandmother of the oldest child has come forward and wants to foster the 2 children. Her house is not in order, she has until this Tuesday to get the house ready. If not the children will stay where they are.

I have been led to step up in Christ. I have offered my house, uh well my sisters house to foster these children if they can't go to the paternal grandmother. I have also offered to provide supervision for visitation with the children. I'm a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I have been an adoption caseworker for over 8 years. Eight years ago I was a Parent Support Specialist for Easter Seals, my job was to prepare parents who had their kids taken away from them by DYFS, to reunite with them back in their homes, and then provide aftercare once the children were home.

I told my friend I will do what ever it takes. I will bring the kids on Christmas and spend time with them. I will open up my already chaotic house and foster these two.

Many people have already said I shouldn't. You see my sister and I are parenting 5 kids together already. Our lives are less-than calm. Often we are in chaos. But this is the thing, if my kids were taken away, I would pray that someone would step up and say . . . I'll take them. What would Jesus do? He would take them.

I have always had a heart for fostering. I know I will be a foster parent when Autumn is old enough to handle it. When my kids are older I will foster. Since I was a teenager the Lord has called me to foster. When I was 17 I dated a guy who was a foster child. He lived in a foster home with 3 other foster children. That's when I was first introduced to the system. It intreged me, and it pulled on my heart strings.

So in the very near future I might have 2 additional children! I was there at the youngest child's birth, she is the same age as Autumn. If I am chosen to foster these children I can't wait to give her a huge bubble bath!!!!! I love this family. Through this crisis we have once again become so much closer. I want to do what God wants me to do.

Please pray with me that these children come home safe and sound.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lotion and a Weighted Blanket

So Autumn has hit a bump in the road. On Friday I received a call from her teacher stating that she had her head down the entire day and refused to take her spelling test. After school we left for Rayne's soccer tournament. We had a great weekend and Autumn was very well behaved. Of course I am not surprised she loves to travel and LOVES hotel rooms so of course she was all smiles. Sunday night we returned home and the wining and crying began . . . "I don't want to go to school!!!!"

Monday morning . . . the nightmare begins. She refused to wake up. I have to dress her like she's a two year old because she refuses to get dressed on her own. She cries the entire morning. Cries her way into the school building and managers to pull herself together enough to enter her class room.

On my way to work I prayed out loud. I asked the Holy Spirit to enter the class room and be with her and her teacher. Her teacher is a Christian so it makes me feel a little better know that I can call on some Divine power for him too!!!

Around 11:30am I received the dreaded phone call. Autumn was yet again refusing to do any work and instead of just having her head down she was now sitting on the floor refusing to move. All the other kids stepped over her and went to lunch. She refused to go to lunch. I explained to the teacher that I would not pick her up because that would be a reward for her. If it got any worse of course I would come but for now just let her sit. He agreed.

I picked her up at 3:30pm, we had a routine appointment with her psychiatrist which was a God sent. Autumn refused to talk to her doctor and went into the fetal position on the chair and covered herself with her coat. Her doctor is so great, smart, and knows how to handle Autumn. We discussed everything putting little bits of information into Autumn's head as she sat there and listened. We decided not to do any medication changes. She reminded me that Autumn has come so far and that this was a minor set back. She is so wise and I appreciate her so much.

I asked her doctor what do you do when a child is just plan oppositional when it comes to school and work. Basically her answer was this, you can not convince a child with ODD otherwise, it's best just to say, this is your job, it is the way life is, and you have to do it. I agree. Autumn does not respond well to "convincing", I'm going to use this. I have to go to work and so does Autumn, it's the way it is.

When we got home she was crying, spitting, drooling, and whining because she could not watch TV. I sent her down stairs explaining she made that choice by not behaving today. We went into my bedroom and I asked her to change into her pajamas, before she put them on I lay ed her down and gave her a massage to her arms and legs with sweet smelling lotion.

Instantly her mood changed. She stopped crying, dried off her face, and relaxed her muscles. It was amazing. I put two big pillows on the floor, she laid on her stomach and I put her beautiful weighted blanket I had hand-made for her last year on her body.

We then proceeded to complete all her work she refused to do that day. I wrote down most of her answers as she orally gave them to me.
It's a rough road but we got through it. Autumn woke up in a great mood and she asked for another lotion massage. I complied!!!! We walked into school with a smile. God is so good, and we rejoiced this morning as He gave us a new beginning!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Write Love On Her Arms

Today is "To Write Love On Her Arms" day. To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. Please see

This issue is very close to my heart. You see I struggle with depression. I have for years. I have also dabbled in self-injury. Today I have written LOVE on my arm. Here is my story.

I never knew I was a "cutter". We didn't have that label back in the early 90's, or if we did I had no clue. I have not shared this story with most people. Some people know about it but only a brief rendition. If my 14 year old daughter is reading this it will be an eye opener, I even thought of not writing this because she might read this but I feel strongly about this and I believe it can help her and her friends if anyone of them have these feelings. High school years are rough, that is when my story began. I started cutting back when I was in 9th grade. I realize now I was a drepressed teenager, I wish I knew the name for what I felt, I wish I had someone to talk to, I wish my parents picked up on the suddle signs of my depression. It began by me carving lines in my ankle, or my arm. I didn't do it much but maybe once a month, and mostly for attention.

My senior year was the roughest. Toward the end I went through a particularly rough incident and after that was the first (and last) time I cut myself not for attention purposes. I cut myself because I was in pain and I needed relief. I wasn't trying to kill myself I was trying to stop the pain. To most who have no knowledge about cutting this might seem strange, you might be asking, "Why would you hurt yourself if you wanted to stop hurting?" Below is a picture of me several days after I cut my wrist, you can see the cuts on my left arm (right side of the picture). You see to some feeling physical pain releaves emotional pain. That is how I was.

My parents noticed but I told them I fell up our concrete stairs.

They believed me.

I still have one faint scare on my wrist, this is where I wrote the word LOVE today. Since then I have been healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. God is so good. It took many years for this healing to take place. But it can happen. You don't have to go on living in the dark, in pain, in depression. You don't have to cut or harm yourself. God can heal you, He can love you, He can be your salvation. There is hope and help for you. Log on to they can help you.

Trade God your pieces for His PEACE.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him" - Romans 15:13

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday and other news

So today was a struggle but it ends better. Yesterday I was soooo sick. I think I'm not eating enough protein so I'm extremely weak and there is even evidence that my hair is begining to thin, not good. I'm not surprised, lately I have been extremely stressed with work and home and friends that I have been eating all the wrong things. Although I don't eat much I have discovered that I can eat "crap" in small amounts without short term nausea. Short term is the key word. In the long term I am getting extremely sick, feel like crap, and either need to lay down or puke:(, yuck. So anyway that is how I went to bed and that is how I woke up. I also woke up trying to wake Autumn up who was right next to me in bed. Her first words to me were, "I don't want to go to church". I ignored her and rolled her out of bed.

To my surprise Rayne was up showered and ready for church, praise God!!! She ended up going to church with my sister Jill to help teach Sunday school. For the next hour until it was time for us to leave for church all I heard was a whiny voice saying "I don't want to go to church" about 255 times from Autumn. Finally I had had enough. I screamed from the kitchen, "I understand you don't want to go to church but you know what, Jesus did not want to suffer and be slaughtered for us so many years ago but he did because he had to and loves you, so get your butt dressed so we can go praise God!" We ended up getting to church and praising God, and Autumn was very well behaved . . . God is good.

I then went to Rayne's soccer game. She is awesome. She scored the 1st goal in the first 5 minutes. With 5 minutes to go til the end of the game Rayne shot a courner kick and assisted another player in scoring again. The NJSA 04 Blaze won 2-0. She is captain and has really shown great progress on this new team. I however forgot how cold 53 degrees is. We have 3 tournaments in the next 3 weeks, I better invest in some long-johns!!!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I apologize

I want to apologize to my friend who was the topic of my blog about heartache, quotes, and Obama. I offended her and her family and I this was truly not my intent. The Lord has placed on my heart a burning passion for injustice when it comes to race/ethnicity. I thought my blog was a place to reveal my heart but I am learning I must be more selective. Again I apologize and am seeking the forgiveness of those who I have offended.

Monday, November 3, 2008

When our brain fails us

Today my dad, uncle, and aunt moved my grandmother into a retirement home. Over the past year her Alzheimer's has gotten progressively worse, the last two months have been very trying. My grandmother is an awesome woman, she lost her husband 15 years ago and has loved him everyday since he left. This past year I have had the privilege of assisting my grandma with a shower every week. It gave me great joy to help her in this way. She still knows who we are but I know that will change over time, I just hope it doesn't happen soon. She thinks it's 1971 some days, at one point she was looking for my grandpa. She often wonders out of her house, and ever since we told her she was moving to a retirement home she has thought her house was the retirement home. It's very sad. I'm going to visit her tomorrow . . . I love her.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Flashback Friday

So I am so busy at work that I hardly get to blog, seems like Flashback Friday is all I can handle right now!!!!

The year: 1997

Who: Trouwbottom as "Larry the Cucumber" and Sarah as "Bob the Tomato"

Why: We are the directors of Vacation Bible School and our program is Veggie Tales and who doesn't love dressing up as huge vegtables anyway?????

Friday, October 10, 2008

Flashback Friday

It is Fall 2006, this is my friend Evan!!!! He has just been placed in the home of my great friend Jim and his partner Paul. Evan, his twin brother Eric, and his little brother Freddie were removed from their home in 2005. The were age 12 and 8. After a year of foster homes and shelters the boys ended up in the home with Jim and Paul who were looking for a foster-to-adopt situation. Well on October 16, 2007 the boys were officially adopted!!!! They have a forever family now and are doing great. I can't believe it has been over 2 years since I met these boys. I love them and will hopefully be in their lives forever. Oh yeah I just remembered I will be in their lives forever because Jim and I have "arranged" Evan and Rayne's wedding. They have dated, you know, and although they are not together anymore we know that in a decade or so Jim and I will be walking Rayne down the aisle!!!!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

AAAAHHHH Another Diagnosis!!!!!

So as many of you know Autumn has many diagnosis'. Three to be exact. Currently she is diagnosed with:

1) ADHD (Attention Deficite Hyperactivity Disorder)

2) ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)

3) PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developemtal Delay- Not Otherwise Specified)

Well at her private Occupational therapy session last week her therapist pulled me aside and said she suspects Autumn has an Auditory Processing Disorder. It makes sense and the more I research it the more it fits but please another diagnosis???? I'm tired and Autumn is starting to crack under the pressure of this transitional time of year (school, therapies, etc). I've already gotten 2 phone calls from school, she has failed 3 tests, and she HATES going to theraputic horseback riding now (and if you know Autumn horses are her favorite thing so it must be stressful!).

Yesterday we went for a Speech evaluation to see if Auditory Processing Disorder is a possibility. She hated it, refused to cooperate, and cried in the beginning. Afterward I asked her if she could have done better and she admitted "yes". Homework is crazy, I hate it and the accomodations are not coming fast enough for her. Third grade is going to be a challenge! We have her 504 meeting this month and I need to be armed with all my data so I can fight for what she needs. I hate fighting but God has blessed me with this role of advocacy.

The next step is to get Autumn evaluated by an Audiologist to get a diagnosis of APD. The speech therapist wants to see her for therapy every week, that's great but I don't know if Autumn can take more therapy. This is our schedule for the week including my nephews since we live with them:

Monday: Occupational Therapy (Autumn) 6pm; Soccer Game (Rayne) 3:45pm; Piano (Rayne) 7:30pm

Tuesday: Soccer Practice (Rayne) 3:45pm; Dinner at grandma's; Baseball Practice (Aedan) 5:30pm; Bible Study (Me) 6:30pm

Wednesday: Soccer Game (Rayne) 4:30pm

Thursday: Soccer Practice (Rayne) 3:45pm; Theraputic Horseback Riding (Autumn) 5:45pm

Friday: Baseball Game (Aedan) 5:30pm; Soccer game (Rayne) 4:00pm

Saturday: Gymnastics (Autumn, Teddy, Riley) 10:30am

Sunday: Church 9:45a; Soccer game (Rayne) 3pm

So you see our schedule is packed, Autumn is on overload. Now I have to add speech therapy on to this????? I don't know if I can do it, or more importantly if Autumn can do it. Some things have to change, I just hope I have the courage to change them!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Flashback Friday

This is the year that my best friend Sarah and I were 'travelooooors' as we put it. It was 2003 and Bob Guiney was "The Bachelor". Sarah and I are total reality show freaks (please don't judge, it is our escape from OUR reality!). And this season we loved "The Bachelor", and yes you are seeing right, we actually got to meet him, here is how it went!

So Sarah and I were going to California to visit our friends Crystal and Dan, we had an early flight so we were at the Newark airport at some ungodly hour. We were starving because we didn't have time to eat breakfast yet. We checked in and were entering the terminal where our gate was and we decided to grab a bite to eat. As we entered the store a tall fellow passed us, Sarah and I both turned to each other and said . . ."I think that was Bob the Bachelor!". "We HAVE to go meet him!", we forgot about our breakfast and started to follow him, we were like 2 7th grade girls, giggling and running around!

Let me put this into perspective for all who think we are crazy, "The Bachelor" was one of the hottest reality shows back in the day, "Bob" was the current "Bachelor", he had just picked who he wanted to marry, we actually had the episode taped and in our luggage to watch in California, this was a big deal for us!!!! So we approached him, he was much cuter in person. He was great, happens he was on his way to see Oprah in Chicago! We took a few pictures and then boarded our plane. We never did eat breakfast that day!!!!

Go to Storing Up Treasures in Heaven and sign on to do your own Friday Flashback!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Blast from the Past

15 years ago I was just nineteen years old. During this exact time, I was pregnant with my first daughter Rayne. I was 4-5 months pregnant and taking classes at Brookdale Community College toward my Associates Degree. I lived life as if I was unstoppable. I was determined to finish my education even though I was pregnant, not married, and living with my parents. I worked at my parents flower shop on weekends and any day I didn't have class.

10 years ago I was twenty-four years old and attending Fordham University in Manhattan, NY. I was in school for my Masters of Social Work. I would take the train into the city every Saturday and Wednesday. Rayne was four, almost five, years old then and would spend every Saturday with her fathers parents. I was very involved with my church, I taught Sunday school to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders every week, I was the coordinator of the summer's Vacation Bible School, and I led a teen girl's small devotional group.

5 years ago I was twenty-nine years old with 2 daughters. Rayne was 9 years old and Autumn was 3. We were just beginning to see signs of all Autumn's problems. I was living on my own in Ocean Grove and loving life. I broke away from my old church and found a wonderful church that I remain at today, Grace Christian.

3 years ago I was thirty-one years old. Rayne was 11 and Autumn was 6. I was going through a particularly rough time in my life. Autumn's struggle for adjustment and our fight for a diagnosis was in full swing. Financially I was a mess, I had just filed for bankruptcy and was so depressed some days I couldn't get out of bed but through the grace of God I moved on because of my children.

1 year ago, I was thirty-three years old. Life was and still is good. This exact day was the day before Autumn asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior, Praise God!!!! This was also the day we landed in the ER because she fell out of a tree and had a tree limb impaled in her thigh!!!! 14 stitches later and a visit to the pediatric surgeons office to get a piece of wood that was still in there, Autumn has a beautiful scar on her left thigh!

Today, I did not want to wake up, as usual, I am NOT a morning person, AT ALL! I have 2 interviews and a whole lot of work!!! Then I will go see Rayne play soccer at the high school, and come home, make dinner, and help the kids with their homework. I also will remember to praise God for all he has done for me!

Tomorrow, I will hate waking up again! I have a funeral to go to of one of my favorite clients :(! I also Have 5 interviews, hopefully a couple of them I can hire!!!! Oh and Autumn has Therapeutic Horseback riding tomorrow too!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

$15 and gatorade

I picked up Rayne from soccer practice and noticed I was on "E" and my gas light was on. There was one problem, I didn't have any cash and I had no money in my account to use my debit card. Pay day is tomorrow and I was tapped out. My sister Jill and her husband have graciously given me a BP gas card so that I can fill my tank up once a month and they would pay the bill for me. There was another problem, I filled my car up the week before using the gas card. I had no choice, I decided to use the gas card again and explain to Jill and Steve later. Rayne and I drove to the nearest BP station which is a few miles out of our way but we had no choice. When we pulled up we had to wait 10 minutes for the car in front of us to move, we soon realized the pressure in the pumps were not working right and it would take forever to fill our car up, but again we had no choice. While we waited for our tank to fill up we noticed a man and his daughter walking around talking to each customer. At one point the man pointed to what I assume was his family standing outside the Dunkin Donuts. There was a woman with two small children and a stroller with a baby in it. Rayne and I at first locked our doors as we thought to ourselves, "What is this crazy man doing talking to all these people." Then I got that feeling, the feeling of the Holy Spirit telling me I cannot ignore this family. I rolled down my window giving the man the opportunity to approach me. He did and asked for money to buy groceries for his family. I told him I only had a dollar, he accepted. I then began a conversation with him, I told him I was a social worker and was trying to figure out how to help him. He went to the police station at 4:30pm but apparently they could not help him with finding a shelter until 9am the next morning, he said he and his family had to survive the night. I made sure he had a plan for tomorrow, he did. I told him I wish I could do more. He thanked me for caring. I told him I would pray for him and "God Bless You". Because the pumps were so slow, after he left my car, it was still several minutes until my tank was full. I began searching the car for change and money. I found a plastic baggie with change in it and started to fill it. I said to Rayne, "I wish we had more money." She then looked in her bag and pulled out $15.00 and said she wanted to give it to them. Rayne also emptied her bag of all the loose change into the plastic baggie. I glanced back and noticed there was a case of Gatorade in the back seat that we never unloaded from the weekend. I quickly got out and put 5 Gatorade in a Shop Rite bag. After our tank was full we pulled up along side the family and Rayne told me she wanted to give them what we had. She rolled down her window and said, "We have something for you." The man came over and I told him Rayne found $15.00 and change and that we had Gatorade for them. He looked stunned and almost like he didn't want to take it. He said, "I feel guilty for taking this", to which I replied, "Don't be". I heard the kids say, "Gatorade!" with delight. Rayne and I pulled off.

My heart goes out to this family. As it is raining and windy outside I wonder if they obtained enough money to rent a room for the night. The face of the man and his daughter are burned into my mind. That could be me, it could be any of us. God is confirming my mission and passion everyday. It is amazing. Today He let my bank account run so low that I had to go to a gas station I would have never gone to if I had money. He allowed the gas pumps to run extremely slow so I would have to be at that location for 20 minutes instead of 5 minutes. God provided $15.00 plus change from my daughter who would rather spend it at the mall, and he allowed the Gatorade to remain in the car from the weekend. God is soooo good!

Matthew 25:31-46

31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Autumn!!!

Autumn Grace Trouwborst was born today 9 years ago!!!! I can not believe it. Next year she will be in the double digits!!!! This girl has by heart, we are so close sometimes I can't explain it, I can't imagine my life without her.

This morning we woke up in our usual way, to my sister Hilary flicking on the bright overhead light and yelling "Time to get up!". Autumn and I just moaned and rolled over! But then we realized it was her birthday and we both perked up (Autumn and I hate mornings, and right now we are sharing a room and a bed until the basement is finished). Rayne came in the doorway and I motioned to her to say Happy Birthday to her sister, she did, very nicely, with a smile (Thanks Rayne!!!!). Autumn opened her present from me, a Jungle In My Pocket set and played with it until it was time for school. The birthday girl requested pancakes in her room for breakfast so Rayne brought them up to her. All the kids went to school on the bus but Autumn and I went to Dunkin' Donuts to get munchkins for her class. Autumn was so proud to walk into school with 2 big boxes of munchkins!!!

This afternoon Autumn will be surprised to find her second gift from me . . . Roxy the parakeet!!!!

It's a great day, the day God blessed me with Autumn Grace!!!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Baptism . . . getting dunked for Christ!

On Sunday September 7th Autumn and my sister Jill were baptized by my pastor with 10 other believers. It was the day after "Tropical Storm Hannah" hit, what a beautiful day it turned out to be! Praise GOD!!!!

Here is Pastor Vince praying for all of the people who made the decision to be baptized.

I gave Autumn's testimony. She asked Jesus into her heart on October 2, 2007. She wanted to be baptized to follow God's Word!

I'm so proud of her!

Truly a beautiful sight!

We love Pastor Vince!!!

Jill's testimony was inspiring!

Here is the whole gang! Dunked for Christ!!!!

Rayne taking the photos!

Jake taking a dive!

Lucy is such a ham!!!!

Aedan, our very own cannonball!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Our large family- who knew?

So I am addicted to reading blogs about large families, it fascinates me, then I realized I am a blogger with a large family! Who knew????!!! In June 2008 I moved back with my sister who is going through a divorce. Together, my sister and I, raise 5 children. Here is the breakdown:

Rayne- age 14- 9th grade- soccer star- piano/clarinet player- artist- too cool
Aedan- age 9- 4th grade- baseball star- basketball star- sports fanatic
Autumn- age 9- 3rd grade- horse lover- gymnast- artist- ADHD- ODD- PDD-NOS
Teddy- age 8- 3rd grade- bird lover- gymnast- momma's boy- singer- music lover
Riley- age 3- pre-K- gymnast- boss- colorer extraordinaire

Our days are crazy, our nights are even more crazy. Our weekly schedule is a mess. But Hilary and I are a great team. We are raising our kids together and we love it!

Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm old but happy!

Yesterday I was officially old. Rayne went to Freshman orientation at Neptune High School. Yikes, I have a high schooler!!!!! I feel like I just graduated high school myself. I also made the decision (after she texted me a billion times begging me) that I would let her drop band this year. She is a good clarinet player but wants to give it up for other things. I was going to force her to take it but after consulting with a few parents have decided to let her make the decision. The main reason I'm letting her drop band is that she also takes piano lessons which she does not want to give up. I'm quit proud of her, she initiated piano lessons all on her own and has been taking them for 2 months now. She skipped 2 books her first lesson, it helps that she has taken clarinet for 5 years!

I don't give Rayne enough credit. She is so amazing. She has had a tough time in life living in the shadow of Autumn. Having a sister with special needs is not easy, Rayne had to grow up quickly. Autumn and Rayne don't have a strong bond, but this past vacation together I did see a glimmer of Rayne softening up to her sister. I called Rayne on it and thanked her for being so kind. I love Rayne with all my heart and I miss the times she use to hug and kiss me. While camping we intertwined arms and it was pure bliss for me. She makes me smile:)!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weight Update

I will post pictures soon and write an extensive post about my journey but I just wanted to share that I have lost 70 pounds so far!!!! YIPPPEEEEE!!!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I love my family!

What an awesome family!!! This is 55 crazy members of Grace Christian Church, Tinton Falls! We had an amazing time at this years Leadership Summit . . . God has blown us away!!!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

American Idol Concert 2008

So for my birthday on May 5th, my bestest friend Sarah and her husband Mike handed me a make-shift card that said they would take me out to dinner on them . . . ummmmmmm I then reminded them that I was about to go on my liquid fast to prepare for my gastric bypass surgery on June 11th. At that point they turned to each other and gave each other a high 5 and shouted "Alright, cheap date!!!!". A few days later Sarah told me she ordered American Idol tickets for me instead . . . she knew she would never live the cheap date present down!

Here is Sarah and I at our seats before the show. It was held in Newark at the Prudential Center on July 30, 2008.

Here is our self portrait. Mike was especially excited to be 1 of 3 men in the audience!!!!!

Sarah could not handle the 15,000 screaming 12-year-old girls!

Here's another self portrait Trouwbottom style!

These are the 3 eight year old girls sitting next to me, they made tiny signs for all their favorites . . . Mike-"Now come on do they think they can see those signs????!!!!???"

When the girls went to the bathroom I took the opportunity to steal their signs, Sarah got it on camera!!!!

Alright here he is, the man you've (well I've) been waiting for, Jason Castro!!!

Here he is singing to me! What a dream!!!!!!

This is when the girls were blocking my view from Jason. At this point I karate chopped their little knee caps!

Here's David Archuleta, he was great!

Here is where the picture of David Cook will go, I accidentally erased it!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Admit it . . . you're jealous!



Autumn, plain and simple Part 2

OK so I ended my last blog with the beginning of Kindergarten 04-05. Autumn did not do well this year. She often would throw her papers across the room, end up under the desk, and totally shut down. I received calls constantly, often she was sent home. At one point the principal asked me if I could keep her home 1/2 days to which I said I would lose my job if I did that. During this year the school was in transition and all the classrooms were double-wide trailers which means that EVERY transition (lunch, gym, library, computers, etc) meant the kids would have to walk outside. This was much too much for Autumn, for example one day the kids were coming in from lunch. It was raining and Autumn decided she was done for the day. She sat in the rain in the middle of the walkway for 30 minutes refusing to move. Another day she hit and kicked her teacher. Every time I picked her up from school she would be under a desk with her shoes off. One gloomy day I showed up and she had 4 adults holding her down, she was hysterical. My aunt who is also a teacher at the school came down to try to calm her but when Autumn would get in that mood it was like she was in a trance . . . no one could get through to her.

She started individual therapy this year, I really wanted her in the Therapeutic Nursery (group therapy) but my insurance would not pay for it. One day at school Autumn told her teacher's aide that she wanted to die and she had a plan. She said she would sit in the road and have a car hit her . . . my heart sank after that phone call. This was our first trip to Crisis. By the time we got to Crisis Autumn was herself again and was smiling and calm. They didn't do much but at least it was documented.

Autumn then started her first year of summer camp at Summer Hill. I knew the first day would be tough. It was raining so the kids could not go outside. She cried when I left and I was a nervous wreck. I had an important meeting at work and I forgot to bring my cell phone in the meeting room. When I got out of the meeting I had several messages from camp and one from my brother-in-law John. Autumn had flipped out at camp during the first hour. They removed her from the other children and put her in the office. While in the office Autumn wrapped an electrical cord around her neck. They could not contact me so they called John. John picked her up and brought her to the emergency room to be seen by the crisis unit. I met them there. By then Autumn was calm and smiling. I was a mess. I cried the entire time. The social worker was great but of course there was nothing they could do. Summer Hill told me she could not come back.

When we got home that day I could not stop crying. I called my insurance company and fought with them for benefits that covered group therapy and I won. My life as an advocate had begun. I called both my pastor and youth pastor. They both prayed with me. I started the prayer chain at church and told everyone I knew to start praying. The group of intercessors also started praying for Autumn. That day I felt the Holy Spirit enter my house and sit with me and Autumn. Autumn would pray ever night for God to help her control her body. The rest of the summer Autumn went to the daycare at my work 3 days a week and my mom watched her the other 2 days, it was an answer to prayer and I was able to continue to work full time.

She started the Therapeutic Nursery in June 05 and graduated in June 06. Her therapist Vanessa was awesome. I went to the parent group therapy sessions as well, my therapist Aura was so great. I learned how to parent Autumn and most importantly how to discipline her so that she can grow and feel secure. Autumn learned how to deal with her emotions and how to act in a group situation. This therapy took Autumn through her Kindergarten year of 05-06. Because she was a September baby I chose to have her repeat Kindergarten, it was the best decision I made.

In 2005 she began to see her psychiatrist Dr. Edwards. She is an awesome doctor who I owe so much to. Autumn was finally diagnosed with ADHD and started the medicine Adderall. This diagnosis did not come easy. This is the trail of specialist we saw before she was properly diagnosed:

Child Psychiatrist #1- said she did not have ADHD
Neurologist- said she was angry and violent but not ADHD
Audiologist- tested her hearing just in case
Allergist- tested for all food/environmental allergies that often cause behaviors
Child Psychiatrist #2- child study team, said she was ADHD
Child Psychiatrist #3- Dr. Edwards gave her the diagnosis of Attention Deficite
Hyperactivity Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

She continues to see her psychiatrist every 2 months for medication monitoring. This year she received an additional diagnosis of PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified), which is a type of Autism. This has helped her get the services she needs. Her insurance now pays for weekly sessions of Occupational Therapy where she works on all her sensory issues. She also takes weekly Therapeutic Horseback Riding lessons.

Autumn is a work in progress (aren't we all?). She is my diamond in the rough. I can't believe how far she has come. I use to cringe when my cell phone rang because I though it would be a teacher or principal on the other end telling me I had to pick Autumn up because they couldn't handle her behavior. I no longer cringe because those phone calls never come. Time outs use to be as long as 30 minutes with Autumn screaming, crying, and kicking until she was too exhausted to fight anymore. Today I have not had to put her in time out for months. Autumn now knows how to control her emotions. I'm not saying it is perfect around here. If you don't know Autumn and don't realize that sometimes she doesn't want to talk you might get offended or worse it might push her to lose it, but on most days you will get an answer to any question you ask Autumn.

There is so much more I could write about Autumn but for now here it is . . . plain and simple.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Autumn, plain and simple Part 1

My daughter Autumn was born on September 17, 1999. It was an emotional pregnancy. I was in therapy for 6 out of the 9 months. I cried a lot. I was anxious about the birth and the moments immediately following the birth. During my pregnancy I was afraid. I had feelings of hate, rage, sorrow, and uncertainty.

My labor started exactly how I wanted it to, on a Friday, after my older daughter went to school. I called my sisters to make the commute down, I was going to have this baby. We got to the hospital at around 2pm. Autumn Grace was born at 8:30pm with no complications. Jill was there holding my hand, 3 pushes and she was out. Hilary unfortunately missed it (that's another blog!). My midwife put her on my chest, I still remember her bright brown eyes looking at me. Hilary arrived minutes after the birth. My two sisters were there to support me yet they had no idea how I was feeling (probably still don't until they read this blog). It was a busy night at the hospital so I was left alone with my newborn for 2 hours before they took her to the nursery, it was wonderful. When I finally got into my room Autumn met me there. I was alone at last with her and we had a very serious conversation. I told her I loved her, in fact I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. I apologized for the feelings of anxiety, hate, and uncertainty I had before she arrived. I told her we were going to do this together. She agreed.

Autumn's first 2 years were pretty typical. She was such a joy. Then around 2 (prime vaccine time . . . hmmmmm???) I noticed her stubborn streak. I was not the typical "terrible 2's" I experienced with Rayne it was different. When Autumn would get frustrated or if she was disciplined she would put her whole hand in her mouth. If she was eating something or food was around the minute she felt threatened or uncomfortable she would shove her hand in her mouth and make a mess. At 22 months she only said 3 words. She liked her space and if any playmate tried to get near her she would freak out. Between 2 and 3 is when I noticed her hypersensitivity to sound. If she was with me at work and the fax machine went off she would cover her ears. It seemed she her senses were on hyper drive. If anything came near her face her eyes would flutter really fast. She was very cautious when playing outside. When driving in the car I noticed she would not look outside the window. If we tried to point things out like, "Look at that dog in that truck", she had no clue how to even find what we would talk about.

At age 3 she went into pre-school at the Early Childhood Center in Neptune. I repeatedly asked her teacher about having Autumn seen by the speech therapist but she always told me, "I didn't talk until I was 3, Autumn will be fine". I was not as strong of an advocate as I am now so I let it go. By the end of the year her teacher reported to me that Autumn would "shut down" at times and not talk to them at all. If she was confronted or tried to engage in an activity she would refuse. At age 4 she went to the same pre-school, she had a different teacher who thankfully worked with me. She noticed her stubborn side and documented her "shutting down". By the end of the year I requested Autumn be seen by the Child Study Team. We had a meeting to which the social worker stated there was nothing wrong with Autumn. She said, "Aren't you glad we are telling you there is nothing wrong?" I replied, crying,"NO, because I know my child and there is something wrong!" If only I could track her down today! Her principal who I respect to this day mentioned to me that Attention Deficit Disorder sometimes comes out as anger . . . I brushed it off because I didn't think Autumn displayed enough characteristics to have ADD, little did I know 2 years later she would be diagnosed with ADHD. This principal also gave me the book to read, The Out of Sync Child which is about children with hypersensitivity to their senses. It's an excellent book.

Kindergarten 2004-2005 rolled around, this is when it got ugly and scary. This was the year I put ALL my faith in GOD and renewed my belief in the power of prayer. Stay tuned for Part 2

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's with the name?

A couple of people have asked me . . . What's with the name??? If you know me, really know me you know Trouwbottom is not my name but Trouwborst is. It all started when my daughter Rayne's friend called her Trouwbottom. It's been so long now that I forget if it was on her MySpace page, or in person but I heard it and it stuck. I mean don't you think Trouwbottom is a lot cooler than Trouwborst??? No one can pronounce Trouwborst, they butcher it and those who know how to pronounce it mess it up to infuriate me anyway! So now I go by Trouwbottom, which is super cool and according to my daughter and all her teenage friends I am a super cool mom! So although I have not legally changed my name to Trouwbottom I will answer to it and who knows someday when I have an extra $1000.00 laying around I just might change it, Rayne needs a 4th birth certificate anyway! (long story for another blog!)

Soccer and Rayne . . . Perfect together!

This summer Rayne played for the U-14 JAGS Select Team. It's compromised of some of the best girl players in New Jersey. It was a hike to Bordentown every week for practices and they played in 3 tournaments. These pictures are from the Tourney in the Poconos. Rayne loved playing with these girls and loved her coaches.

Here Rayne is making her move to get the ball away . . . you see how she uses her dancing ability to her advantage!

Here are the girls . . . don't they look sweet?

Rayne . . . going in for the kill.

Here is Autumn, doing what Autumn does best at Rayne's games, relax, relax, relax!

The girls getting a little silly!

Puttin the move on this poor girl!

Soccer bringing these girls together, making lifelong friendships!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Autumn's Ride

Autumn had an awesome time at horseback riding on Wednesday. This is her second 8 week session with SPUR (Special People United to Ride). She has therapeutic riding 1x per week for 1/2 hour. The nice part about this session is that it's at 7pm on Wednesdays and there is only 1 other girl riding at that time. Basically Autumn has this huge indoor arena, a 20 stall barn and acres and acres of land to herself! This session she got a new horse Berry (see him on the left)! He is so handsome and a great horse.
This week Autumn cried and put up a fit when I told her we had to go to her lesson. It's a long day at camp and at night she just wants to chill out. We got to the barn 20 minutes early so she could adjust (last week we were rushed and it did not end happily). She got her helmet and belt on and then was able to read while waiting for her instructor and volunteers to come. One thing she is working on is saying hello to her volunteers, before she mounts the horse she needs to either say hello to John and Nancy or tell Tara (her instructor) 3 pieces of equipment on the horse. Well as you can imagine Autumn chose the equipment instead of the hello!
To my surprise 10 minutes into her lesson John took the lead off of Berry, Autumn was going to ride him all by herself! It made me grin from ear to ear, I can't imagine what it did for Autumn! Autumn then left the barn and took a ride with Berry all over the compound, even into the trail in the woods! Tara, Nancy, and John were all with her but she had total control over Berry! What an amazing night! After her lesson she groomed her horse which is also an accomplishment since last year she refused. I can't say enough about SPUR, it has given Autumn so much it's incredible!!!
P.S. I will post pictures of Autumn with Berry next week!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The start to a new blog . . .

Hi all, this is my new blog. Come here to get updates on the Trouwborst girls and the lives of all of us Trouwborst-Martin-Devlin's. Topics to come are:
Rayne's soccer
Autumn's autism
Amy's gastric bypass surgery
etc . . .