The Autism Journey

It took some time between my son being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder last august, and finally telling people personally and professionally about it this past week. I was trying to figure out why I was so hesitant to say anything. I knew a large part had to do with people saying stupid stuff. I already had plenty of that in the handful of people I did share with. I also knew when I got the diagnosis that my only experience with autism had been through my previous job as a 911 dispatcher. Here I was recalling all these frantic calls from parents with children who were aggressive or having these epic meltdowns. So even I had no clue what exactly ASD meant initially.

So I’ve spent a long time reading everything I could get my hands on. Taking every online course. Watching movies, tv, etc that had any mention of the spectrum. Talking to anyone I knew or met that had children on the spectrum. You name it. Just trying to educate myself as quickly as possible so I could be the best help to my son. But there I was still kinda avoiding telling people.

Was it feeling like a failure as a mom? That seemed to be something I felt since the day he was born honestly (why is it so hard to breastfeed, why isn’t he sleeping through the night, how does everyone else look so put together and I feel like its totally obvious I have no idea what I am doing).

Was it worry that my husbands anti vax family would blame me because I vaccinated my kid and now he has autism? I definitely thought that if anyone said anything like that it would result in me being charged with assault and battery lol but it wasn’t what was holding me back from sharing…

It finally hit me after watching the show “Love on the Spectrum” and reading a book written by someone on the spectrum what was really going on for me.

Now when my son got diagnosed, he was non verbal. And he had an obsession with balls (throwing them at objects in the room like ceiling fans, bouncing them in place, or hoarding them). After the 3+ hr assessment, the doctor told me he was 99% sure my son was on the spectrum. But…he wanted to stress that my son was very “high functioning” and was level 1 (needing the least amount of assistance). That with the right interventions done soon enough (he kept stressing I had until my son was 5 before things would be more ‘permanent’) that I could ‘reverse’ and make him as close to neurotypical as possible. Get him talking and he could pass as your everyday average kid.

And that was the strategy. We started with speech therapy twice a week. Which I will say has had the greatest impact as my son now communicates pretty good and is only getting better with each visit. Then I got him into ABA because that was what my health insurance covered. That quickly became a waste of time. I could go into detail on that later but I’ll sum it up here with no in person staffing so they wanted to do it over the phone via zoom. I personally hate zoom so a three year old trying to learn via zoom….come on. So I started out of pocket Occupational therapy which has been expensive but well worth it. He gets to go to a sensory gym and work with a fantastic staff that has a very detailed plan for his needs.

Like I said earlier, from the moment he got diagnosed I’m reading everything I can get my hands on. But what I failed to do from the get go, was read a book by a person on the spectrum. I kept reading books by doctors who studied ASD. And I’m not saying those books weren’t helpful but it wasn’t until I started to actually read and listen to people on the spectrum talk about what it is like being on the spectrum that it hit me. The initial approach from the Doctor who assessed him and how we were going into intervention programs was trying to get him to be more like neurotypical kids.

He’s never going to be like neurotypical kids. There is no cure for autism. No matter how much ABA I do he will only ever learn how to mask or pass at best. Why in the world would I want him to try and blend in and pass? I realized what I needed to do was learn how his brain worked, how things were different for him so I could help teach him and better engage with him. I needed to see that there is nothing wrong with my son that needed to be fix or corrected. He’s just different. And that’s ok.

He is an amazing kid. He is always laughing and smiling. He has a compassion for animals, especially dogs. He is very detail oriented and his memory skills are incredible. He is just full of personality and surprises. I love every moment I get to spend with him.

This is why I am finally able to share with people about my son’s diagnosis (and why I am on hiatus from doing artwork full time).

I had to change my thinking about what having autism actually means. And I guess I had to stop thinking about my damn self too if I’m being completely honest. This journey as a mom (in general not just to a child on the spectrum) has been a rollercoaster. I just hope I keep learning from my mistakes and I promise to always strive to be the best mother to my son that I can possibly be.

If you’re reading this and you are a parent of a child on the spectrum or on the spectrum yourself, feel free to reach out via our social media pages to connect and share some wisdom for me. On a side note, Management is slowing down herself but doing well overall. And we hope to be sharing some works in progress for Buckner’s Extravaganza in September soon.

Back To Hiatus

The shop update on March 1st was a huge success! I sold out of almost everything new save for the Penguin Love painting and Springtime Dragons. This littler financial boost will allow me to go back to hiatus stress free. Most people don’t know but my son was diagnosed with ASD last year. I’ve spent all my time trying to learn as much as I can about autism and sensory processing disorder so as to better help him with all the early intervention. He’s made huge progress in communication thanks to speech therapy and I want to continue this sense of momentum and success.

So no plans for work at all the next couple months at least. And rescue fundraising will be a case by case basis until the big event in September. I appreciate all the support and purchases these last couple weeks that allow me to step away from work to focus on momming both my son and our frosty face senior, Kona.

The Next Boxer Fundraiser

Here is a look at the second statue I painted for Across America Boxer Rescue. This ten inch ceramic cropped ear rainbow boxer will be up for raffle through their Facebook page starting next week. The raffle will run for a week and all the details will be handled by AABR. This is the last scheduled fundraiser we have the books for a bit. The next scheduled fundraiser beyond this one is Buckner’s Extravaganza in September benefitting our long time friends at R&R Boxer Rescue.

The Shop Update

The shop update is March 1st at 8am PST. Here is a preview of the items going in. I recommend if there is a piece that you absolutely must have, that you use the buy it now option on Etsy. Etsy allows multiple people to put an item in their cart, so your item is not held for you just because you put it in the cart and continue to shop around.

Boxers at Sunset matchbook painting $115
$155 each (only four available)
Purple will be in the shop for sure. I’m trying to add a few colors. $35 each
Only 2 made. $60 each
Lucky Boxers $135 each (only 2 made)
Penguin Love matchbook $125
Boxer at Sunset matchbook $115

Custom Boxes Returning?

Having a shop update but saying commissions are closed has some people confused and I’m getting messages about customs. Particularly custom boxes and if/when they will come back. So I am still considering myself on hiatus for time with family. But if you follow our Facebook page you may have seen our post about the ER visit the Intern had to take (a bad case of croup, but he’s all good now).

I decided to have a shop update to offset expenses from that emergency room bill and the expenses I am coming across for my son’s ASD interventions. I do have health insurance but of course, not everything is covered. So this update is to help all that. In terms of commissions, they are still closed. You can always message me with your project idea and when I have the time available, I can contact you. And in some cases I can also refer you to maybe another artist who can get the project done immediately.

As for custom boxes….they take a lot of time and require a lot of extra preparations because of the heavy smoke involved. Before I had a kid, I could walk around smelling intensely of smoke all day and work on different phases of multiple boxes. But now that my only free time is when my son naps, I don’t have that luxury. I have to be able to really decontaminate before I am around him. So if I open up boxes again, it will be when he is on a vacation with his grandparents. My recommendation is if you are set on wanting a custom box, message me to get on a list so that when it opens you are covered. And be prepared with the pictures you want on the box. And follow our facebook page because the announcement will be made there (as well as here).

I will continue to help rescues throughout the year hiatus or not. I’ve found it is hard to say no and just helps my soul to do the work. For now we have a current fundraiser for Middle Tennessee Boxer Rescue (check a few posts back for the details). Item being raffled is a custom ornaments box with four boxer angel ornaments. That ends this Sunday evening. A statue has been painted and set aside for Across America Boxer Rescue and I’ll post details on that when I have them. But that is all that’s officially on the schedule till Buckner’s Extravaganza in September. Things are just going to pop up between now and then I’m sure and I’ll share plenty of pictures on social media as rescue artwork is created.

Slick Bunnies!

Someone asked me long ago if I would ever do any bunnies. With Easter coming up I thought now is as good a time as any to add to the zoo of animals I’ve painted up 😉

There will be nine total in this pose and two in a different pose. All handpainted and unique. I went with a Grace Slick vibe here, because well Grace Slick is awesome and her music/artwork just seemed perfect for any bunny I paint.

Shop update is March 1 at 8am PST. These guys will be $35 each

Love You to the Moon and Back Boxers

A good customer and friend recently mentioned the idea of love you to the moon and back and her boxer. And I told her I had painted a boxer way back with that theme in mind as a private commission. She said if I ever did anymore she would love one. So I decided to see if I had any moons left, that would determine how many I did. Well I had five tiny gold moons left.

So here are five different boxers painted in galaxy colors with some stars and tiny moons at the paw. Each with a different mask and completely unique in color. They will be in the shop on March 1st at 8am PST at $155 each. They stand 4 inches tall. And I will not do anymore like this in the future.

Middle Tennessee Boxer Rescue fundraiser

The day has finally come to raffle off this one of kind piece for rescue boxers!

You’re buying tickets for a chance to win a four ornament box set of boxer angels. The angels are 5in tall, made of wood, handpainted in rainbow and metallic gold splash. I will customize for the winner with any names/dates they want on the back. The ornaments store nicely in the Love wooden box. I will not be selling boxed sets at all this year. Only offering boxed sets through rescue fundraising like this.

Tickets are:
1 ticket for $5
7 tickets for $25
20 tickets for $50

To enter, please donate to Middle Tennessee Boxer Rescue . All funds raised in this raffle go to the rescue. Their PayPal is

Please comment or message me the amount of tickets you want. Raffle starts today and ends Sunday evening at 8pm PST. I’ll announce the winner Tuesday morning here on the page.

Any questions please message me. If you don’t have PayPal and still want to participate please message me or Middle Tennessee Boxer Rescue for other donating options.

This is our first time working with Middle Tennessee Boxer Rescue so let’s make it awesome 😎

Butterfly Boxer

After my first boxer Buckner passed in 2018, a close friend paid for me to get a reading from an animal communicator. I was skeptical going in but it was already set up so I figured why not. The woman had me send her five questions that she would ask Buckner. I’m not going to share those with you. But I will say that the whole experience left me very at peace. I was pregnant, which was a huge shock, and still very much mourning the loss of Buck. There was so much stress and chaos those first few months after he passed. But what I got out of that moment for the first time was this overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be ok.

One thing I will share with you is the animal communicator said she could see Buckner with butterflies. I do have memories of Buckner with butterflies. All involving him chasing them. Even when his DM took his legs he would try to drag himself around the backyard to bark at butterflies in the flower beds. Years later now whenever I see a butterfly I think of him. And I smile. And I get a little choked up missing him.

So this piece is my way of trying to capture those moments that crop up throughout the day of our beloved boxers that have passed. We all have some little thing or several that remind us suddenly of our dog. For me its butterflies with Buckner. Or tortillas on the countertop in the kitchen because he use to always try to steal them. Or a chewed up pair of Raybans I refuse to get rid of because it reminds me of when he was a mischievous puppy. Or the tattered hoodie with cut off sleeves he wore at lacrosse practice when it was cold that will never fit me again no matter how much I say I’ll lose weight. You get the idea 😉

This one of kind boxer features a black mask with some frosty senior sugar. It will be in the esty shop for my next drop on March 1st. I will have this piece, along with some other boxer figures and new dragons. I am trying to make up for the ER bill from the Intern’s visit on Superbowl Sunday morning. So this isn’t me back to work but more doing what I need to in supporting my family.

Statue Fundraiser for AABR

I know what you’re thinking…..didn’t I say I was on vacation/hiatus? Yes, yes I did. And yes I am still very much trying to be on break. But a rescue reached out in need of two statues they sent me getting painted up asap. So here is the first of the two. It is a ceramic, hand painted cropped ears boxer. Size wise it is 9in long by 4 in wide and 5 in tall. Across America Boxer rescue will be raffling it off to pay for medical expenses. They are handling all the details. But I will post the info on the facebook page as soon as I have it.