Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to "work" on The Bite!

I am so excited about my latest project - "The Bite." We had our first rehearsal for the show and we start taping in a couple of weeks. I put "work" in quotations because it didn't seem like much work at all. I am working with the most incredible group of people - from the other hosts to the people running the show - and I can tell the project is going to be a huge success. I've never experienced a working environment where everyone just clicks. I feel so blessed and lucky to be a part of the action.

If you want to find out more about what it is I'm doing, check out www.indoordirect.com.

In the meantime, Ryan had his hands full today with both kiddos in his command. He managed to make it to Will's therapy sessions on time with Bryn in tow (although she hadn't made it out of her pjs yet - too funny) and then got Will to school. I took over when I got home and Ryan scrambled off to the gym. It's kind of nice having him home these days - but let's face it, we want Ryan on a team! Let's hope he gets a call soon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's official

Will is a preschooler in Frisco ISD! He made it to school today, although he wasn't too happy about it. I tried to get a couple "first day of school" photos and Will just wasn't having it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

So much for Will's first day of school...

Like most parents, I was giddy when I woke up this morning. Why? Because Will was headed back to school. I already had plans for the day. We'd hang out in the morning, then Ryan and I would take Will to school while a sitter tended to Bryn, then I'd feverishly finish unpacking boxes for three uninterrupted hours. All those plans got scratched when Will puked this morning around 9 a.m. Shortly after that, we changed a runny diaper. Either Will was having some sort of reaction to the vaccine he received on Friday, or he had some sort of stomach bug. We called his doctor's office and the nurse explained that there's indeed a stomach bug going around. That meant no school for Will today.

Fortunately, Will didn't have any more bouts today so he should be fine to go to school tomorrow. He even got his appetite back this evening and wanted Apple Jacks for dinner. I'm flat out exhausted though - dealing with sick kiddos is just no fun at all. I had every intention of getting more done today but mommy duty comes first and my babies needed me today. Hopefully there's some "me" time in the future for me tomorrow. Every once in a while, us moms need breaks too! It's crazy how I jump at the chance to go to the post office or supermarket these days - amazing what running an errand sans kids can do for your psyche.

So we'll make another attempt at Will's first day of school tomorrow...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A wife's worst nightmare...


Ryan and I were watching the Cowboys-Texans game last night when we both experienced an eerily familiar feeling - you know that knot you get in your chest, or your stomach just sinks? We watched the Texans' Harry Williams get hit in the head on a special teams play and we knew it was bad as he limply feel to the turf. I couldn't watch the replays. Ryan did, and he said it was bad.

It's been almost a year since Ryan was on the field at the same time his teammate, Kevin Everett, was severely injured and paralyzed on a special teams play. As the training staff worked on Harry, all we could do is sit and pray and remember the emotions that we felt last year during that Bills-Broncos game. Kevin has made a miraculous recovery and is even walking now - we wondered what Harry Williams' future will hold.

Based on reports this morning, Harry Williams did indeed break his back. He was paralyzed on the field - he could feel nothing below the neck. According to the article I read, he started to regain feeling in all of his extremeties on the way to the hospital. What a relief! What this means for his career and his future, only time will tell.

As we watched Harry being strapped to the gurney and loaded into the ambulance, I told Ryan that it's because of moments like that that I wouldn't care if he never ever played another down of football in his life. We've dealt with injuries before, but incidents like this just remind us of the dangerous and unpredictable nature of the game. Surely you can't go out onto the field and play with fear - that's a recipe for disaster. But after Kevin's injury last year, it brought the reality of the possibility home. It really puts things in perspective.

I reiterate what I've been saying all along - if Ryan gets picked up by a team and plays this year, AWESOME! If not, I'm okay with that too. There is a lot to be said to have my husband WHOLE right now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Better than we hoped!!!

We had our meeting with Frisco ISD this afternoon to map out Will's schooling for the year. After a bunch of stress and anxiety, we were pleased with how the meeting went.

Will will be in a PPCD class with 7 other children every day from 12-3 p.m. He'll receive speech and occupational therapy, as well as music therapy. The staff seems eager to work with Will in helping to address his special needs. I had a whole list of questions to ask and was thrilled that the staff actually addressed them before I got to them. I definitely feel confident at this point that between the school district and any private therapy we provide that Will's needs will be met this year.

We've also approved a psychological evaluation to determine if Will needs an autism evaluation. We meet again in 30 days to discuss the staff's observations and findings and will learn then whether or not Will will be diagnosed on the spectrum. I'll keep you posted on that.

Back to school night is tonight and one of us will be taking Will back over to the school. We're waiting for some furniture for Will's room to be delivered this evening so unless it comes soon, we both won't be able to go. Oh well.

Oh, and it looks like we're going to put Will on the school bus this year. The school will provide door-to-door transportation for Will. The school is literally about 5 minutes away - probably a mile away in total - so I don't mind putting him on the bus this year. It'll be so easy now that we have Bryn in the mix!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More kid pics...

Just for fun...



We're back!

Like millions of Americans, we decided to stay close to home this year for a "staycation." Will LOVES to swim, so we decided to spend a couple of days at a local indoor waterpark resort called Great Wolf Lodge. Will had an absolute blast and Bryn was quite the trooper. The smartest thing we did was reserve a "cabana" poolside yesterday. For a little extra $$$, we got a fully stocked fridge and a safe place to keep our belongings for the day.

Overall, the experience was wonderful. The only real negative was that there's no room service - going to a restaurant after a day at the pool with an exhausted kid sure can be stressful and it would've been nice just to chill instead of having to go get food. Our first night there was great because we went to the buffet and ate as soon as we sat down. Our experience last night wasn't as great. We went to a sit down restaurant where I figured right away that our waiter was incompetent. He couldn't get our order right, messed up the drink order, and when he finally brought our sodas, he asked me to check mine to see if it was diet. LOL. And that was just the beginning. They brought out the wrong food, cold fries, etc., etc. It really did make the evening more stressful. The experience was an exception though - the rest of the trip was great.

And a funny note - the room had this super cute kid's area called a Kid Cabin with a flat screen on the wall, a bunk bed, etc. I thought Will would love it. Boy, was I wrong. He ended up sleeping on the pull out couch with his dad.





Sunday, August 17, 2008

Why I'm a Michael Phelps Fan


Like many of you, I was glued to my television last night watching as Michael Phelps made history. Ryan, some friends and I were biting our nails down to those last ten meters where it looked like the American medley relay team clinched the gold. I couldn't help but get emotional while Michael Phelps stood on the podium and got teary-eyed while the national anthem played. It was a proud moment for him, and it made me proud to be an American.

As a former competitive swimmer, I have an inkling of the discipline and determination it takes to compete in these events. If you've every tried to swim the butterfly or navigate a flip turn, it's no easy feat. Yet, this incredible human being almost made it look easy. I have no doubt Michael Phelps is indeed the best Olympian of all time.

I've learned interesting tidbits about Michael Phelps over the past couple of weeks. First of all, his mom is a rock star. There she was cheering him on and all of his events. You could see the pride in her eyes and how much she cares about her son. Then I learned that Michael was bullied as a kid, that he was diagnosed with ADHD when he was younger and how he had to be medicated. Amazing enough that he was able to overcome that disability. I read about his dad is pretty much absent from his life, and has been since his parents divorced when he was 9 or 10. And I learned this morning that Michael Phelps listens to hip hop before his races - Young Jeezy, Eminem, Lil Wayne. I watched as he almost cried listening to his sisters talk this morning on The Today Show. He's a good kid. And I'm a fan. I'm so proud that I was able to share his incredible Olympic moments.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Update - Frisco ISD

I finally received a call from the diagnostician last night around 6 p.m.!!!  Looks like we have our ARD meeting scheduled for Will for next Friday at 1 p.m.  I am still a little shocked by the fact that we're having this meeting three days before Will starts school.  That means we'll be running around next weekend trying to get little guy ready for his first day of school in Frisco.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Making progress

A couple nights ago, I found myself downright depressed.  Faced with the ongoing task of unpacking and settling in, I realized I missed Buffalo.  In that instant, I would have much preferred to have been back in Buffalo in our rented townhouse than home here in Texas.  You see, Buffalo was our home for 5 years.  It's where our friends are, where the best school in the world for Will is, where our trusted babysitters are.  Here, we're still living out of boxes.  Everything is out of whack and disorganized.  It just doesn't feel like home.  Not yet, anyway.The good news is that we're slowly making progress on the house, and that's helping with my mood a lot.  For example, when we first got home, I decided I hated our bedroom set.  I thought it was too big for the room and even had trouble sleeping in there.  Surprisingly, as we cleared out boxes and could actually take in the space, I decided the bedroom set wasn't so bad after all.  It's really nice actually.  I'm certain that it will take us a while to really feel settled and for this house to start feeling like our home.  But it looks like we should be completely unpacked by the end of the month.  Our garages are still full with boxes, but most of them are full of donations for charity that will be picked up on the 27th as well as some stuff that needs to be trashed.  With the work Ryan and I did today, I'll finally be able to get my car back in the garage for the first time since the movers arrived with our belongings.My major coup this week was to set up Will's playroom.  We have an office at the front of the house that will eventually become our library/music room (we plan on putting a baby grand piano in there some day).  But for now, it's Will's playroom.  Will was so excited to see all of his toys and books.  And that cozy rug is from Ikea - he pulled some books off the shelves the other day and just laid there looking at them.We're getting there, slowly but surely, but we're getting there.Will's playroom!

Here we go...

Frisco Independent School District better watch out because I'm on a mission.

A little background - back in October of last year, I started researching the resources for Will here in Texas. I was shocked at the lack of services offered by our school district, which is why we decided to stay in Buffalo through the end of the school year to keep Will at his incredible school. I know it's the best decision we've made so far for Will, but now I'm kicking myself that we didn't sacrifice a little bit longer to stay up there one more year.

Anyway, we're back in Texas dealing with the reality of our school district. From the beginning, I could tell Frisco ISD had some issues. It's hard getting in touch with people. It takes forever to get a phone call returned. They've given me the absolute run-around since we've been home. Here we are a little over a week from the start of school and I have absolutely NO IDEA what's going to happen with Will on the first day of school.

I'm not kidding you - I literally just got off with this lady I've spoken to several times before who basically just told me they've been too busy to deal with Will. Their diagnosticians just got back in on Tuesday, but they've been in trainings. The lady in charge of the special ed department was out of the office yesterday and again today. Why are they not there in the weeks leading up to the beginning of school? Even the girl Shannon I just spoke to admitted she didn't return my call yesterday because she was at a training.

Enough is enough. I told her today that I understand they are busy preparing for the school year, but in the meantime I'm not going to let my kid slip through the cracks. Until I get some answers, they're going to get sick of me. I've been way too complacent and it's time for us to figure out what's going on. I'll spend some time this weekend researching the command chain to see who I need to talk to.

If this is any indication of what's to come, we're in trouble. Actually, the school district is going to be in trouble because I'm not having it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Adorable 3-month-old seeks playdate

If Bryn were to write a personal ad, I was thinking it might sound a little like this...

Hi, I'm Bryn. I'm three months old today. I'm looking for friends in the 3-6 month range for playdates. Strengths - I've got a killer smile that will make you melt, and I'm quite proficient at blowing bubbles. I've recently mastered sucking on my hand which is now my favorite thing to do. And I'll hold a conversation with you if you talk to me - I love to laugh and coo to pass the time away. Weaknesses - I hate tummy time so I haven't yet mastered the skill of rolling over. And I need help keeping my pacifier in, so I keep mommy and daddy up a lot at night so they can be sure to make sure I have my paci. Mom recently bought me a wubanub because she thought it would help, but no luck. Oh, and I'm still getting used to my daddy. I haven't figured out this whole "daddy's little girl" thing yet but I'm working on it. Anyway, holler at ya girl if you want to play!

Our baby girl is 3 months old today! Where does the time go??? She is such a sweetie pie - here are some pics from today's impromptu photo shoot!




This picture cracks me up!

Check out the New Zealand soccer team doing the traditional Haka dance after losing in their first round of the Olympics.

I mean, look at the guy second from the left - is he feeling the groove or what?!?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Little pig, little pig, let me in!!!

As you well know, our son Will is exhibiting signs of autism. The number one indicator is that at almost age four, he's practically non-verbal. He has some other fine motor delays as well including an inability to really feed or dress himself. And the stimming - Will is completely content staring at his fingers as he moves them around. All of these things suggest to me that an official diagnosis is coming in the very near future. Mostly, it will confirm what Ryan and I already know. But it will also allow us some closure and certainty so we can move on and continue trying to make him better.

For a while now, I've been determined to find videotapes I made of Will when he was younger. I wanted to see if there were signs that we missed that might've tipped us off early on that something was wrong. I finally came across the tapes yesterday and I stopped everything I was doing to watch them.

What I saw amazed me. Will was normal. Will was doing everything a normal kid would do. He did things that are typical of a normally developing child - he cooed, babbled, laughed, and waved. He grasped toys and followed instructions. He would smile and interact with us. We could engage his attention. He would occasionally imitate words. He would respond if we called his name. He was happy.

Then around 14 or 15 months, we started seeing a change. Will stopped responding to his name. He seemed distant and unfocused. Then in one shocking clip, Will is sitting in his high chair in a complete daze. I think he quickly glanced up at me once after I called his name over and over and over again. Then I picked up a piece of pizza sitting on his tray and shoved it in his mouth which he promptly ate. That's when it hit me. Will wasn't born with autism. Something is causing it, and now we have to determine the culprit so we can try to get that happy kid we know is in there somewhere to let us in so we can help him come out!

Interestingly, I already have an appointment scheduled for Will to see a DAN (Defeat Autism Now) doctor next month. These doctors evaluate children on the spectrum for allergies (to stuff like gluten and casein), high metal levels, vitamin deficiencies, etc. Based on test results, the doctor can recommend a biomedical course of treatment that used in addition to conventional therapies may help children with autism. I know several moms who swear by this approach. They'll tell you that as soon as they started their children on gluten free diets, they started talking. That after they rid their children's bodies of toxins, they started focusing more. I had been hesitant to go this route, but now I'm convinced it's the route we need to take. Again, Will was not born with autism - something's causing it and we need to figure out what's going on in that little body of his so we can treat him accordingly.

Honestly, I have some hope now because I know a normal kid is in there. That little piggy just needs to cooperate and let us in. We're going to find him. We're going to beat this.

In happier, normal times...
And now, our little space cadet

Friday, August 8, 2008

Any word yet???

Ryan gets a text message every couple of weeks from a friend with a few simple words in it - "Any word yet?" He's been sending Ryan these texts since Ryan's contract expired with the Bills March. And the answer is always the same - "No, not yet."

With summer camps around the country in full swing and the beginning of the football season right around the corner, we've been getting this question more frequently lately. The answer is still, "No, net yet." It's hard not to get discouraged by the silence. It's weird how every time Ryan's phone rings, there's always hope that it's the call that someone has finally contacted Ryan's agent with interest. His agent has reassured us that he's hard at work and that teams are indeed interested and that Ryan is on their "radar." But what does that mean exactly? What it means is that Ryan will play this year if a spot opens up on a team (i.e. someone gets hurt and they need a replacement). So it very well could be a long season of waiting.

Ryan amazes me. He gets to the gym every day and works out as if he was still on a team. Our friend Craig Nall lives nearby - he's a free agent quarterback who played with Ryan in Buffalo. The two of them get together several times a week to throw and workout together, even in the 100 degree heat. The disicipline Ryan exudes is just amazing. He's going to be ready when a team calls - no doubt about that.

I have to be honest about one thing - I don't miss the stress of training camp whatsoever. Normally this time of year, Ryan's in two-a-day practices. I scour practice reports to see if he's mentioned. I wait for his call to tell me he's okay and that he didn't get hurt. We'd anxiously wait on cut down days for a phone call (that thankfully never came in Buffalo). I DO NOT MISS THE STRESS OF TRAINING CAMP AT ALL!!! And I love that Ryan is home to spend this valuable time with his kiddos. I'd hate for him to miss all of Bryn's firsts. We cherish this time where neither of us is forced to work. We can enjoy being home with each other and our family.

So keep those prayers coming. Something is bound to happen. Someone will call. And when they do, I'll be sure to let you know about it!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Los Angeles, here we come!!!

We're so excited - the Neufelds are invading the city of angels over labor day weekend!!!

Ryan recently received an invitation for a bunch of UCLA football reunion activities. This is the first year he's been able to even consider going to the annual event because he's always been working. We looked at ticket prices and although they aren't cheap, they aren't outrageous. So we decided to take a family trip to L.A. so that we can all partake of the activities and visit my family. Of course, our tickets are refundable in the event Ryan gets picked up by a team between now and then, but for the time being, our west coast trip is on!

This will be Bryn's first trip to L.A. Will has been a couple of times, but I'm certain he doesn't remember. It should be a great time.

GO BRUINS!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tasty t.v.

When I was a little girl, I had one single aspiration in life - to be a superstar! My first car was going to be a red hot Ferrari just like the one my Barbie doll sported, and I'd get chauffered around town in stretch limousines. My mother saw some star quality in me and enrolled me in acting classes. I got a manager and was landing bit roles on shows like "Webster" and "Punky Brewster." Then something horrible happened when I was about 11 or 12 - I had to have 8 baby teeth pulled that wouldn't fall out on their own. I was toothless for months. For some reason, that break led to the dissipation of my aspiring acting career at the time.

Years later in college, I dabbled in modeling because I could and it was a fun way to make a little money. I don't even know if what I did should even be considered modeling - I turned into a resident video rat! LOL. I will forever be immortalized in videos featuring such folks as LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, Master P, and the up-and-coming group N Sync. I look back on that time and I'm angry at myself for not taking advantage of being in college in Los Angeles and really trying to pursue acting. Of course, acting was the furthest thing from my mind since I was on a path to law school. But I think I really missed a golden opportunity back then.

Years later, I've got my law degree and I'm licensed to practice - I can check that off my "to-do" list. But there is still that passion for acting that is ongoing and ever present. I was fortunate enough to find an incredible acting coach in Buffalo - Frank Rossi. I'd go to class every week and spend time with other aspiring actors and always had such a great time. Actors are a unique bunch - full of life and fun - I always left class having laughed a bunch.

I landed a couple of commercials in Buffalo, and even secured representation in Pittsburgh and Rochester. Shortly thereafter I got pregnant which meant I wouldn't be going on any auditions. When I had the energy, I went to a couple more classes before leaving Buffalo. Saying goodbye to Frank Rossi's acting classes were tough - he's a great teacher.

So here I am in Dallas, a much bigger market for modeling and acting. I have every intention of immersing myself in the business here. I've got a year to see what I can accomplish. Time is of the essence because (a) I'm not getting any younger and (b) I plan on sitting for the Texas bar exam next summer. So I've got a year. I'm fortunate that there is no pressure to run out and get a job right now, so it's the best time to try to see what this market has to offer.

A couple weeks ago, I popped on Craigslist to peruse the "talent" section to see what craziness I might find in Dallas. A lot of the jobs on Craigslist are usually sketchy - "seeking lingerie or semi-nude models" or "looking for models who are looking to expand their portfolios" which means there is no pay. I came across a listing that grabbed my attention - "The Bite" television was looking for hosts for a weekly show. Hm. Sounds interesting. I'm pretty good at hosting and I have some experience in that department. I decided that I'd submit my resume and picture and go in for an audition.

My initial reading went great. I had time to memorize the script and pretty much nailed it in the audition. I was invited back for a callback the following week. The callback was pretty competitive. I realized then that this was a legitimate job - there were people there with representation from the big agencies in Dallas. I heard one girl mention that she does the pre-game show for the Dallas Mavericks. I saw another girl whip out her page-long resume and heard her mention how she won't work for less than $200 a day. Several of the girls looked like they've certainly competed in pageants. And then there was me - the 32-year-old mom with two kids who happened upon the listing on Craigslist. There were about 20 women, and they were looking for one female host. I had my work cut out for me.

My first read of the new script went great! I received the script the morning before the audition and hadn't had a chance to memorize it which completely freaked me out because I like to be prepared. Luckily I got matched up with a great guy for my first read and it went incredibly well. Throughout the morning, they matched up different girls and guys to go in for the readings. As the morning went on, they started thanking people for their time and excusing them. But I was still there. Finally, three hours later, there is only one female left in the room, and it's me. I could tell the competition had come down to me and one other girl. I had a 50/50 chance of landing this job - much better odds than earlier that morning.

I go in to read with a different guy (they kept matching up different people to see how everyone looked with each other). That reading also went well. I was a bit intimidated by the guy I was reading with because he was GOOD! He totally had the Access Hollywood-host thing down! We finished are reading and were sent on our way.

The callback was Tuesday. After I hadn't heard anything for a couple of days, I became discouraged. Surely they made up their decision quickly and it probably didn't include me. But there was also some hope - well, since I hadn't heard from them yet, maybe I still had a chance.

Yesterday afternoon, I got the call. I've been chosen as one of the hosts for "The Bite." Turns out they had a really tough time narrowing down to just two hosts, so they've decided to go with four of us - two girls and two guys. We'll start shooting once a week next month, and I have to say, the pay is pretty decent! I'll sign a two month contract - when the contract expires, we'll get to renegotiate for more money. Hopefully by then, I'll have secured representation in the area.

Having a small income is great, but I'm overly excited about the exposure. This is a really great opportunity. And I'm convinced that I must have some sort of talent if I can go on my first audition and beat out a bunch of other actors and get the job.

So far the Dallas acting scene has treated me well - we'll see where it goes from here!