Welcome to my blog!

I'm Stacey! I am a wife and stay at home mom to two amazing kids. As a stay at home mom, I needed to find a way to help supplement my husband’s income and work around my daughter’s 30 hour a week therapy schedule. Thanks to the growing online market for wreaths and home décor, I created All Things Amore. Here I will share my journey as a mom battling breast cancer while caring for an autistic child. My hope is you'll laugh (maybe even cry) as you watch me flounder through my amazing life! 
You Have Breast Cancer
I have to say it has been a rough 2 months. I wasn't sure if I should share my journey, but my friends and family have encouraged me to share my story. I found out in July that I have breast cancer. I have been angry, sad, depressed, inconsolable, physically ill, anxious and exhausted. Thankfully, the worst part is over but I have to tell you the waiting was more than I could handle! 

Not having answers after not just one mammogram but two, then waiting for biopsy results and then waiting to meet with an oncologist to discuss my results has been pure torture. I have stage one triple negative breast cancer in one breast. Thankfully the results of my genetic testing showed no genes linked to breast cancer. So, I had a lumpectomy done and I am currently recovering well. I am pleased to say that the cancer did not spread to my lymph nodes! In about 5 weeks, I will start 4 1/2 months of chemotherapy followed 6 weeks of radiation. I have had a myriad of emotions but now I am giving it to God and following doctor recommendations.

I appreciate all of your prayers. It is going to be a rough 6 months! But, I will continue to be active in my Etsy shop and as much as I can here on my website and all other social media platforms. Don't you worry, if you order a pretty wreath, it will get to you quickly and safely. I have a team over here that will make sure it does if I can't.
XO,
Stacey
No Good Choices
This has been weighing heavy on my heart this week, so I thought I would share. 
This week I made one of the hardest decisions I've ever made as a mother. I decided to keep my sophomore safe and homeschool him this school year. This is not an easy decision for me because it comes with a lot of extra work on my part. But, I know I made the right choice for my son.
I know all of you moms and dads are struggling right now to make a decision that seems impossible. I know because it seemed impossible to me. I cried, got angry, played the blame game, and finally came to the realization that I am his mother and it is my job to protect him...no one else will protect him better. That's how I decided. 
Now listen up moms and dads! Don't let anyone make you feel bad if you are struggling to make a decision. Don't let anyone force you to make a decision if you aren't ready yet. Don't let anyone tell you you're making the wrong decision. Because right now...there are no good choices. As parents, we are between a rock and a hard place. I know in my heart it will get better, but for now we have to do what we can!
Stay strong mom and dad! We are all in this together!
XO,
Stacey
4th of July
This weekend will be filled with family 4th of July events. It is especially important to ensure the safety of autistic children. 
According to the National Autism Association, "Nearly half of children with autism will wander away from safe environments, particularly during holiday gatherings or events. They may head to ponds, lakes, or other bodies of water with little sense of danger. Make others aware of this ad tag one responsible adult to monitor your loved one at all times for an agreed-upon period of time." 
Stay safe and have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!
XO, 
Stacey
Hug Daddy!
I have to say this is one of my all time favorite photos. Let me tell you why. 
Autistic children are normally thought of as non affectionate or hate to be touched. Truth is, most of them are just like us. They don't mind affection but prefer it on their terms. By their terms I mean when they want to be touched. Isn't that most of us? Absolutely! However, we are less likely to say I don't want to hug Uncle John cause he smells like smoke. Or, I don't want to hug a member of the family I just met. Make sense?
Now some children with autism don't like to be touched and can be quite aggressive when attempted to be hugged. The simple solution...respect their boundaries and wait for them to come in for the big hug. Or, ask for a hug...the worst thing that can happen is they say no. Or they could surprise you and give you a huge hug! Just like this one!
She is a Daddy's girl 100%. ❣️❣️
Room on the Broom
Alea's choice for her bedtime story was Room on the Broom...AGAIN! Thanks to Netflix and their movie based on the award winning children's book, my daughter is reading almost every single word on her own. Yes, once again, my daughter learned something from TV. I know, I know...how dare I let her watch more TV then she should. 

Listen...my daughter learned her alphabet letters and sounds from a Leap Frog video. LOL. In the beginning, I couldn't so much as bring a book near her. She would throw a tantrum and a half. (I'll pause here and inform those who don't know my daughter is autistic...sorry I assume everyone knows us.) And my child's tantrums are similar to the Tasmanian devil in Looney Toons. Anyone in her path is a target of mass destruction.

So, thanks to these children's videos that some parents are against, my daughter knows her alphabet and their sounds, most sight words for a second grader and she can read pretty well. All this considering mentally she is a two year old in an eight year old's body. I don't really care how she learns! We will continue to watch TV and learn so I can have more sweet moments reading books with my baby!

XO,
Stacey

P.S. If your child is learning by unconventional means...GO WITH IT!!!

#autismawareness #autismsucks
Hi, Alea!
It is quite often I have to tell a lady standing in line at the grocery trying to speak to my daughter that she is autistic and doesn't understand them. More times than not, they get a look of sadness over their faces and they retreat from the conversation. I don't tell them for sympathy, I do it for awareness. My daughter is amazing and there is nothing to be sad about. 

But then there are the few that go out of their way to make Alea feel included. There is a specific cashier at our Michaels named Hollis that does her very best to get Alea to engage with her. She takes the time to say her name, talk to her and offer her something she loves...paper! Even though Alea normally snuffs her off, she goes out of her way to make Alea feel included like every other little girl in the store. She is amazing and we need more people like her in this world! That is called acceptance and inclusion folks! 
So, don't be afraid to talk to a child with autism. Ask the parents how to address the child and engage with them. Most of the time it will be an epic fail but to the parents it means the world!
XO,
Stacey

To my sweet baby girl:
From the moment I laid eyes on you, I knew you would change the world for the better. I knew that your sweet smile would light up a room as you walked in. I knew that your gorgeous eyes would see the beauty in all things around you. I knew that you would steal the heart of anyone who had the pleasure of knowing you.
What I didn't know is that you would have a hard time telling me what you need. I didn't know you would have a hard time making friends even though you want to be included. I didn't know you would have to work so hard to walk up and down the stairs. I didn't know how hard life would be for you at 8 years old. 
What I do know is you are a fighter! You have a sweet spirit with more compassion and gumption than most adults. You never give up, so neither will I! I am so proud of how far you have come and I know you will go on and do great things in your life. Remember I love you and will always be your #1 passenger.
Love you always puddin' pop,
Mommy
Until all the pieces fit
This it probably the most important wreath I have ever or will ever make. This is my first Autism wreath. And I made it on my All Things Amore Facebook business page while talking about our daughter's Autism journey. Click the button below and enjoy.​​​​​​​
Autism Awareness Month
April is Autism awareness month! For those of you who don't know, my daughter has Autism and this month holds a special place in my heart. So for the next month, you will see a lot of information and personal stories on Autism and our journey. Help me spread awareness!
Corona Virus Social Narrative Board
All of this change surrounding COVID-19 brings heightened anxiety to children with autism. Thanks to the University of Miami, there is a video you can show to your loved one with autism to help them get through this pandemic. 
"Bee Bee" Daddy
My autistic daughter has no idea what is going on right now. Although we are trying to stay light and happy and keep our kids busy and somewhat unaware, they know. I am sure they can feel our anxiety as we try to hide it as best we can. 
My husband is still working and he laid down on the couch to rest. She picked up the blanket that she had on herself and covered her very tired and overworked father. And that is huge because my daughter loves her blankets! 
This right here is called empathy, selflessness and love. This is something most people with autism don’t have the ability to convey. This right here is a lesson all of us can learn. I am so proud I am her mother as she continues to teach me what it takes to be an amazing human. 
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Ever had a day where everything went wrong? And I mean every single thing you tried just bombed...failed...fell apart...you get my drift. Today was one of those days. No matter how hard I tried to make something pretty for those of you who have bare front doors, I just couldn't. All things technology ceased to work and I threw up the white flag!

So after 6 hours of failed attempts at All Things Amore, I did 3 miles on the treadmill, or as I call her, Ms. Hazy, cause she kicks my butt. I walked in from the gym sweaty, tired and mentally drained to a sweet little girl and her favorite book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom...will there be enough room?
We climbed into her bed and I read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for the 42,579th time. As my daughter is reading most of the words in the book, I remembered that not everything in life is easy. I remembered that it is ok to fail. I remembered that 4 years ago my daughter wouldn't say a single word.

Then I remembered that I have it so easy compared to my sweet girl. If only I could take it from her and place the burden on me! My heart breaks, I cry, then I kick myself in the butt, pull up my big girl panties and suck it up. So from a weary mother having a rough day, I hope you did everything you could to chase your dreams today. Because if there is anything I can tell you right now, everything is worth fighting for and my daughter is proof!
#autismawareness #autismsucks

I'm Pretty
It is a surprising fact that many people on the spectrum are exceptionally good-looking. Could it be the absence of disfiguring emotions like anger and greed that keep the faces of people with autism beautiful? I hear it all the time "your daughter is beautiful!" I always reply "I know!" I never tire of being told how beautiful my child is because, unlike most aspects of this baffling condition, it is something certain. In fact we tell her that she is pretty all the time. 
The other day, I asked her to get dressed so we could leave for therapy. A few minutes later I hear "Mommy?" I thought to myself this can't be good and called her to my bedroom. She walks in to my bedroom, puts her hands on her little hips and says "I'm pretty!" My first reaction was to giggle. LOL  Then I realized it was the first time she had ever referred to herself as pretty! Insert ugly tears here. You see, it's not every day I get to hear my daughter use a new word and in correct context. I was dumbfounded! But, then I wondered does she truly know what pretty means?
People with autism live in the moment. How often do neurotypical people fail to notice what's in front of their eyes because they're distracted by social cues and chit chat? People on the spectrum see the beauty that others miss, though they pass by it every day. So yes, I think she does know what pretty means. But, I'm sure her definition of pretty far exceeds mine and that makes me one proud Mommy!
Glue Skillet
Hey fellow wreath makers!
A few have asked about the glue pot I used in my video. I absolutely love my Surebonder Glue Skillet. You can adjust the temperature and you don't have to worry about the cord falling out of a skillet anymore. And another bonus, it doesn't get as hot on the outside of the pot as a skillet does and the legs don't fall off. LOL
Here is my affiliate link to the Surebonder glue skillet on Amazon for anyone interested.
All Things Amore is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
The Photo
We all have that ONE childhood picture that will forever be treasured. This is THE picture that captures the pure beauty of my sweet girl in half a second. The gorgeous soul piercing eyes, the sassy head tilt and that head full of beautiful hair! Isn’t she gorgeous???
Not only is my father a very proud Grandfather to my babies, he is also, as you can see, a very talented photographer. On the floor from a distance, he captured this photo while she was playing. In order for my Dad to catch her, he has to get sneaky and creative. Some of you may know already but for those who don’t my daughter is autistic.
Autistic kids generally don’t show the correct emotion when being photographed. Most of the time it is a fight just to get a picture. I have thousands of photos of my daughter that failed to capture her face in general. Nothing but blur fills my photo files so when my father comes to town and captures photos like this...my heart! ❤️❤️❤️ Although this photo is 3 years old, it will remain my favorite. Because, thanks to my Dad, you get to see my daughter the way I see her...flawless. Accept and embrace the differences.
Conversation Heart Tulip Centerpiece
I made this simple centerpiece for my bookcase in the family room to match my conversation heart Valentine's Day decorations. I just love tulips and these real feel tulips are the closest I've found to the real thing. If you want to see how I made this tulip centerpiece, check out this link from my Facebook page. 
https://www.facebook.com/allthingsamore/videos/565078567671599/
If you are interested in the tulips, I purchased them from the Amazon link posted below. 
https://amzn.to/36MkyTM
All Things Amore is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Hungry Little Diva
When I tell you that kids with autism are picky eaters, it is not an exaggeration. If it’s not a specific brand of chicken nuggets, spaghetti, green beans, buttered noodles, fruit pouches, cereal bars, cheerios, cookies, chips or popcorn, my little darling diva of a daughter will not eat it. Not kidding! She stopped eating pancakes completely because I tried to give her a different brand. She stopped eating yogurt because I made her try something new. It took me two years to get her to eat spaghetti again after I changed the pasta and sauce ONE time! The struggle is real y’all!
Today, I was brave and took a huge risk! I took my girl to Longhorn to eat lunch using a gift card a friend gave me for my birthday in September. (Apparently I need to get out more.) I figured if she started acting up or refused to eat they had to go boxes. Am I right? How many times have you had to wrap up your food to go in one hand trying to hold a screaming toddler in the other.
We sat down in our booth, our sweet waiter took our order and we started coloring her kids menu. She looked at her bread plate when I got my salad and said “it’s empty.” The look on her face when I had food and she didn’t was like “how dare you.” I said “yes it is sweet girl...the chicken is coming.” One minute later she said “hungry”, picked up the end piece of the honey wheat bread and started to eat it. I ALMOST SCREAMED! Instead, I took a picture in disbelief to send to my hubby, acted like I didn’t see her eating it and started crying. The manager came over to deliver our food and asked me if I was ok. Bless her heart she walked in on that one. I told her what had just happened and she hugged me, told Alea good job and brought more bread. LOL
I cut up the chicken tenders (that are delicious by the way) and put a few pieces on her plate. She inspected the chicken carefully, said “hot chicken” and started eating it. She asked for MORE PLEASE! By this time I’m ecstatic and she reached over grabbing some fries off my plate. When I tell you I lost it, I’m not kidding. I hated that I was a hot mess but the waiter and hostess were so sweet and I am very thankful for their kindness.
You see, this is the first new food she has eaten since she was 3 and she’s now 8! 5 years later she decided to pick up a piece of bread in a strange place and eat it. I cannot tell you how happy I am right now. I will tell you this...we will go out to eat more often especially when the diva is hungry. LOL.
XO,
Stacey
Keep the Faith
It’s not often that I get compliments on my work. Don’t get me wrong, I get compliments on my wreaths and centerpieces, but it’s not often when someone compliments what truly matters to me. Today, I got the best compliment I’ve had all year. A sweet lady told me in an email that my blog is amazing, she read it all and to keep the faith. You would have thought I won the lottery! I was doing the jig around the kitchen.
Why you ask? Because it is most definitely 100% about my sweet girl, her journey with autism and my will to fight it with ever fiber of my being. But one word stuck out! Faith...something I struggled with the first year after my daughter was diagnosed. Why...I couldn’t understand WHY. It took me over a year to accept it and over and year to realize I have all the strength I need to give my daughter what is necessary for her success.
Now faith is at the center of all I do. Without it, failure would have certainly been the victor. And I wouldn’t be here sharing our fight to help bring awareness and maybe help inspire a struggling parent on a similar journey. “Keep the faith!” I certainly plan on it D!
XO,
Stacey
Elf Centerpiece Tutorial
I was working on my dining room decorations for Christmas and decided to share how I made my elf centerpiece. It was simple and expensive to make in 30 minutes. Take a look!
Blessed
So, do you ever just sit back, look around and realize how blessed you are? Tonight, I did. Don't get me wrong, I know how blessed I am. But tonight, I saw with my own two eyes the exact blessings I've been given in an instant...well...60 seconds give or take. In that time, my husband came home from a long day at work, my son was doing his chores without an argument and my daughter said Merry Christmas and Santa about 20 times.
Now you might be saying to yourself, why is that a blessing? LOL. First, I'm blessed to have a hard working husband that makes it possible for me to stay home with my special needs daughter. He is my rock and my best friend. Second, my son finally understood why I need him to help with things around the house after 7 years. LOL Don't get me wrong...he'll whine tomorrow but for now he understands. Lastly, my daughter said Merry Christmas and Santa without prompting and it was clear as the day is long. When you have an autistic child who is non verbal, any words spoken are miracles!
After those 60 seconds, I went back to finishing my candy swag for my Etsy shop and it hit me. I'm so blessed to have a hard working hubby, a responsible and loving son, an amazing daughter who is making great strides in battling autism and a small business where I am doing what I truly love. Life can't get much better than this.
Rain
Rain...to you and I it can either been a blessing or a curse. Since we hadn't had rain in over three weeks and we felt like we were in Satan's armpit, when it started to rain we watched. For my husband and I, we were thankful not to have to drag hoses to water our dying plants. For my daughter, it was a complete wonder like she had just seen it for the first time. She sat on the front steps with her Daddy and reached her arms out getting wet and giggling for an hour.
In this moment, my daughter taught me a lesson. She taught me to appreciate everything no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. For me, it was wet and cooled us from 90 to 70 degrees. To my daughter, it was amazing how the water tickled when it dropped on her arm, how cold it felt on her little toes, how she couldn't look up at the rain cause it clogged up her tiny eyes. Even though she was soaked after a while, it was the best day ever!
The mind of an autistic child is puzzling but at the same time amazing. She has taught more about life in her 8 years on this Earth than I have learned on my own in 46 years. If you are blessed to have an autistic child in your life, sit, watch and listen...they may teach you a thing or two.
Llama Llama Red Pajama
When you have a child with autism, you wonder a lot. Wonder if they will ever smile at you...then they do. Wonder if they will ever let you hug them without resistance...then they do. Wonder if they will ever say your name...then they do. Wonder if they will ever learn to use their imagination...then they do. Tonight, my daughter proved that my wonder should continue.
No one else in the house can put my daughter to bed other than me. I find that to be a Mommy super power. Only Mommy’s can tuck in their babies just right. In true Alea fashion, Llama Llama Red Pajama was the one and only book we could read. I don’t blame her because it is an amazing book. Not only did she READ the entire book with a little help here and there, she also had to reenact the moment when the baby llama calls for her mama. Of course, I ran back to tuck her in again and again and again. This time no dishes, no phone call, nothing stood in my way. She was thrilled Mommy played along. We are her puppets after all.
If you are a parent struggling with an autistic child, stay strong and keep fighting. That smile will come, that hug will happen, Mommy will be spoken and you’ll play mama llama real soon. My daughter is the perfect example of the results of a fierce autism parent. Please share so someone who needs this encouragement receives it.
Today Was A Great Day!
When you have an autistic child, some days are better than others. Today was one of the really great days! And since I am a MOM FIRST, I had to brag on my baby today y'all!!!!
It isn't often that I get through school work with my daughter without some type of incident. Today, not only did she complete all of her work, she worked independently without prompting or redirection. Let me say that again!!! She worked INDEPENDENTLY! I gave her directions, she listened, followed the directions and completed her work. I'm over the moon!
Now, let me explain why this is a huge milestone for my daughter. You and I can be given multiple steps in one sentence to complete a task. Children with autism have a difficult time taking multi step directions and completing them. An example of a multi step request would be pick up your clothes, throw them in the hamper and brush your teeth. My daughter would not be able to process all three requests and complete them.

My daughter's team of therapists have worked tirelessly over the past 4 years to help teach multi step directions. It hasn't been an easy task but we are now seeing success.

Here are a few things that helped:

1. Make sure one step directions are mastered. Does the child have a wide range of simple one step commands that are mastered? Ensure that these are mastered first before moving on to more complex skills.

2. Combine mastered one step directions to begin teaching two step directions. The therapists provided preferred activities and treats for correct responses and error correction for incorrect responses

3. Prompt appropriately. They modeled the behavior and physically prompted my daughter for the correct response. Each time they modeled less until she was responding independently. .

4. Use visuals. Visuals are a great way to show what to do without prompting. For the example I used above they would show a picture of picking up clothes, a picture of throwing clothes in a hamper and then a picture of a girl brushing her teeth.

I know every one of you reading this post right now knows someone with autism. With the alarming statistics of 1 in 59 children affected by ASD, it is inevitable. If this post doesn't help you personally, share it with someone who it might help!

XO,
Stacey

#autismawareness
#autismsucks
Autism Cares Act of 2019
Congress just passed the Autism CARES Act of 2019! The legislation now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The passage of Autism CARES Act of 2019 ensures continued federal support for autism research, monitoring, training and services at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The legislation authorizes more than $1.8 billion in funding over the next five years and places an increased emphasis on reducing health disparities and improving services for people with autism throughout the lifespan. For more information, please click the link below.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Sissy's 8th Birthday Party

When you are a creative, birthday parties tend to be over the top, especially for little girls. This year I decided to do a mermaid themed birthday party. Once I designed the invitations and signs, I started to look for pieces that matched the colors I chose to use in the invitation. Finding the perfect pieces to match the theme was impossible. So, I decided to make the table pieces, wall hangings, and wreaths. It was a challenge to find the perfect tropical greenery to go in the centerpieces and wreaths, so I went with anything that looked like it belonged on the beach. LOL  Being from Florida, it wasn't hard. I think I pulled off what I called "Beach Glam" in what made my sweet girl smile so big! You can see photos from her party below. 
Bloody Tongue
My daughter is autistic and on occasion, she likes to share it with the world in the worst possible way and at the worst time in a busy store. Now if you have ever tried to control an autistic child during a meltdown, you know my pain. While I’m trying to pay with one hand and control her with the other, an ignorant woman tells me in not so many words I need to learn how to control my child. Lord give me strength! I did my best to bite my tongue. But before it started bleeding, I politely said, “First you are no way related to me or my child so you have no right to tell me how to care for her. Second, my daughter is autistic… Not that I have to explain anything to you because you 
don’t matter to me. But I’m telling you so that maybe you wont be so ignorant next time.” The look of shock and “how dare you” on their faces was priceless. What I said pales in comparison to what I really wanted to say but I was trying to act like a lady and be respectful.
Some of you may have the same thoughts to the scene of a young child thrashing about on the floor screaming like a banshee. But, if you don’t understand what is happening in that moment, you may have the same reaction. Meltdowns are one of the biggest challenges of an autism parent.  They are hard to prevent and even harder to respond to.  Anger is the number one emotion during a meltdown.  Couple that with anxiety and you have a child’s version of road rage. My daughter’s meltdowns occur because she lacks the communication skills to tell me what she wants or needs. She becomes overwhelmed with frustration and boom…there it is. You can’t control it…I basically have to wait until she wears herself out.  When I see a child in a store having a tantrum, if I make eye contact with the Mom or Dad, I cover my heart with my hand. Basically telling them, I understand and feel their pain.
So, the next time you see a child having a tantrum in public, have a little patience and understanding.  You never know what that family is going through.  I surely do! ​​​​​​​
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