2018: Our life on the Spectrum

April is Autism Awareness Month. I wanted provide a small glimpse into our life and how it is affected by Joseph being diagnosed to bring awareness and understanding. You can read more about our journey here.

This has been an amazing year of growth for Joey. He is currently enrolled in a general education Kindergarten class and seems to be thriving there. He loves everything about school and takes great pride that he is “almost a first grader”. Joe receives speech and occupational therapy at school, in addition to private music therapy/lessons, and has some additional assistance from the resource room aide, his beloved Mrs. G, in his main classroom.

His teacher, Mrs. L, is wonderfully patient, yet firm enough to handle Joey’s considerable charm. She understands that his ASD gives him some extra challenges, but doesn’t allow that as an excuse or crutch. He is his champion when working with the rest of the staff to help them understand how his ASD “works” and does everything she can to make sure he is getting every opportunity. (I have volunteered in the classroom and have seen this for all her students. She is a true gem and I’m so thankful for her.)

Mrs. G is Joey’s cheerleader and possibly his biggest fan. Their relationship is so sweet and loving, I know that she would do anything for him.  It helps me knowing that he has someone there to give him that sense of security and comfort.

I have to say that the entire staff, have been nothing but warm, positive, and supportive to Joey. I love walking him into the school and seeing him say hello to the librarian, telling his gym teacher he’ll see him on Tuesday, or giving the principal a fist bump. His classmates have been amazing as well. His teacher explained that Joey has ASD and sometimes does things differently and they all take it in stride. After walking Joey into class after being absent for being sick, they all welcomed him back to school with hugs and smiles. It brought tears to my eyes.

This isn’t to say that we haven’t had some challenges this year. Joe’s impulsivity and stubbornness can lead to not wanting to follow directions or complying with non-prefered tasks. He also can find it difficult to follow spoken directions or adjust to things outside of his routine. However, overall, he seems to being doing quite well and continues to show improvement in these areas and I’m hopeful that, with the continued support, he’ll continue to thrive at school.

In addition to Joey’s current school situation, I wanted to share a little more about where he fits on the Spectrum. Although it is not an official diagnosis, Joe is considered High Functioning Autism (HFA).  Joey has been described as “scattered” when tested for ASD symptoms, meaning that some typical characteristics such as stimming and severe verbal limitations are not present while others, such as poor eye contact and sensory dysfunction.

Joey is bright, verbal, socially aware, and can show affection. He has age-appropriate academic skills. At first glance, most people do not realize that he has ASD. This creates a set of challenges that can be different than those who place elsewhere on the spectrum.  By being “high functioning” Joey is asked to navigate a world in a neurotypical way even though he has these extra set of challenges. This can lead to unobtainable expectations at school, judgmental attitudes in public, and sometimes even misunderstanding with family members. I highly recommend reading this article to understand why HFA is so challenging and that no matter where someone falls on the spectrum, “it is important to remember that autism is autism.”

April is Autism Awareness month. Please consider participating in some way. Perhaps by supporting a cause,  joining a walk,  donating supplies to your local school’s Special Education department.


On the move  . . . .again

So, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes around here. 

 Shawn took a new position in November that’s in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has been living there during the week and coming home on weekends. We’ve been trying to adjust and see if this could work long term, but it’s really too much for us to handle.

 The stress on Shawn and myself is difficult, but it’s hardest on Joe. He misses his dad terribly and it is affecting his sleep and made him very clingy/nervous. Up to this point, he has been flourishing here and it pains me to see him struggle with it. 

This has made us decide to sell the house and move so we can all be together. We’re so sad to leave our home, especially after all the work we put into it, not to mention our neighbors, friends and community that we quickly have grown to love. It’s even more heartbreaking to leave our family. I haven’t lived this close to my parents and siblings since I was in high school, and it’s been wonderful to have them be such a large part of our lives again. Joe’s had the blessing of having my parents around (even living with them for a time) and I know it will be difficult to not be so close. 

We just finished having some painting done and placed the house on the market this weekend. I dearly hope it sells quickly, I want this transition to be as quick and painless as possible. 

I’m optimistic that we will create a wonderful life in Grand Rapids. It’s a great community and reminds me of Madison, which we dearly loved. I’m looking forward to all of us being together again as well. Honestly, it doesn’t matter where Team Colley hangs our hats, along as we are with each other. 

Happy Birthday 


Happy Birthday, Shawn. You are the most amazing husband and father I could ever hope for. Thank you for sharing this amazing life with me. You are, and will always be, my true north. I love you. 

March for Babies 2015

March for Babies is coming.

I’m excited to say that Shawn, Joey, and I will be walking in the March of Dimes’ March for Babies again this year. As you know, we walked in Columbus each year to commemorate the twins, celebrate Joey, and help fund a cause near to our hearts.

Since we weren’t able to participate last year due to our move, I’m really looking forward to this year’s walk. We will be joining the Fox Valley March for Babies walk that goes on here in St. Charles on Saturday, May 2nd. I’m hoping that many of you will be able to walk with us this year, or lend your support in other ways. If you’d like to register to walk with us, or donate towards our team goal, please click hereIf you would like to create your own team, or find a walk in your area, please visit www.marchforbabies.org .

In addition, I will also be donating 100% of my commissions from Stella & Dot towards our team goal from now through May 2nd. So, if you’d already looking to spruce up your Spring wardrobe, or want to purchase something special for Easter Baskets or Mother’s Day, please consider shopping with me or being a hostess.


Sweet Home Chicago

You might have noticed my recent lack of posting around here lately. Well, I’ve had good reasons, to be sure. I’m happy to report that Shawn has accepted a new position and we’re in the process of moving back to Chicago.

As you can imagine, things have been quite the whirlwind. Getting the house on the market, and subsequently sold, packing, getting Joseph and Walter out to my parents, etc. It’s been overwhelmingly insane. Thank goodness for my parents helping us and the aid of some of our good friends. I would probably be moving into the loony bin if it wasn’t for them.

I have to admit that the move is bittersweet. We were so happy to move back here – only three short years ago – to be reunited with our good friends, have our children here, being able to have Jeni’s ice-cream whenever we want. (Just kidding – not really!) But, I am thrilled with being close to my family again. I haven’t lived in the Land of Lincoln since I was 20 years old. I am hoping to rekindle some friendships from school, it will be wonderful to see them outside of the land of Facebook and the Interwebs.

We will be temporarily living at my parents house while we look for a home. They have been so generous and supportive, although I think that my mom is solely focused on the fact that we will have unlimited access to Joe. I hope that we can find a home soon, so we do not wear out our welcome.

I hope to be checking in a bit more regularly to let you know how things are going with transitioning, how Joseph is handling the changes, etc. But for now, I am just going to sit here and listen to this on repeat:

8 Years


Happy 8th Anniversary to my beloved husband, Shawn. You are the Ernie to my Bert. Thank you for sharing this wonderful life with me and being the best husband and father to our amazing son. I love you, Honey.

Going to the Moon (Juice)

As a way to kickstart our year, Shawn and I have decided to do a cleanse. Now, I am not normally in to the cleanse thing, I feel that starving your body and trying to survive on maple-lemon-cayenne water and laxatives is not really a very healthy thing to do. So when Shawn approached me about Moon Juice, I was fairly skeptical. But after a little research, I decided to give it a go.

Moon Juice is a cold pressed, 100% organic, juice and nut milk shop on Rose Avenue in Venice, California. It has been celebrated by Daily CandySunset Magazine, among others for its innovative and tasty concoctions.

The magic behind Moon Juice is supposed to be the pressing technique. All their juices are hydraulically pressed between 2 steel plates. This pressing action doesn’t heat or oxidize the produce, resulting in a nutritionally packed, live juice that is loaded with enzymes, vitamins, trace minerals, and other vital elements.

One bottle of Moon Juice contains over 3 pounds of raw, 100% organic produce. We do not pasteurize our juices, they are live and with proper refrigeration they will maintain their nutritional stability and will taste crisp for 72 hours after being pressed.

After reading through the cleanse menu, we decided to try the Rainbow Cleanse. This particular cleanse consists of 7 different juices plus an Almond Milk for each day. Now that’s a TON of juice to drink! But, I like the idea that you can have variety in the types of juice you have – no monotonous meals day after day- and the Almond Milk will give you some needed protein.

I really like Moon Juice’s ideas about cleansing:

juice cleansing is a way to enable the body to naturally go into detox mode while at the same time flooding it with live nutrients and enzymes. As we live, eat, and breath we accumulate toxins in the body. Its important to take the time to release ourselves of these toxins, as they lead to problems with both the body and the mind. We spend an enormous amount of energy on the constant strain of digestion. When we stop eating solid food our organs are no longer tied up, and all that blood and energy is free to move to the brain, the skin, the liver, etc. we are able to attend to neglected issues our body hasn’t had time to properly attend to, we remove toxins, and are given a rest. All the while you are flooding yourself with over 20 pounds of 100% organic, raw produce.

Our cleanses are made to support your body in its own detoxification process as you go about your routine. We provide 8 juices and an almond milk, this is a nurturing and healing daily dose of juice, this is a time to support your body not deprive it or stress it out. We like to think of this as a juice feast, a holiday for the body, the ultimate indulgence.

Some signs that it is time to cleanse are: a weakened immune system, troubled skin, allergies, low moods or anger, sleeplessness, poor digestion, weight gain, low energy, and just feeling and looking blah.


We’ll be starting the cleanse tomorrow and are going to attempt to do it for an entire week. I’ll be checking in each day to let you know if I survive how things are going. Wish us luck!

Movember is Here

For those of you not in know, Movember is is an annual, month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other male cancer initiatives.

Shawn has led a team for the past few years to help “change the face of men’s health” and this year I’ve joined the team to help raise awareness and give moral support. (Obviously, no facial hair growth is going on on my end.)

If you are interested in growning your own ‘stache or beard to fight cancer, you can join team NOBLE COUNTY GOLD, donate to the cause, for start your own!

Anniversary and Lumberjacking

This weekend Shawn and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary on Saturday. I can’t believe that we’ve been married for six, together for almost 12, it seems like yesterday and a million years ago at the same time. All I can say is that he is the best thing that ever happened to me and that I am so happy to be his wife.

Part of the celebration included us taking a trip to Timbuk Farms to chop down our Christmas tree. This is a tradition that Shawn started before we were married and we were very excited to go back this year after our time in Wisconsin. I did not partake in the chopping this year, but it was a great day. We were talking about how much fun it will be next year to take the little guy with us. The tree is HUGE, the largest one yet, I estimate about 11’ with it in the stand and the star on top. It looks gorgeous in the house. Shawn even set up his toy train from when he was little underneath it. Very cool. I think that we are now officially ready for the holidays!

Legacy Monogrammed

Back in August, Shawn was wonderful enough to get me my JW Hulme Legacy handbag. I’ve been loving it ever since, so much so that I kept putting off sending off to get my monogram embossed on it. Shawn finally pried it out of my fingers and sent it back to Minnesota have it done. I got it back last week and it looks even more amazing than before! Shawn did a great post on the details, you should check it out.