Thursday, July 30, 2009

The official Dawn Neufeld website...

Thanks to my good friend Jon Goldsberry, the official Dawn Neufeld website is up and running! Make sure you check it out!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It's that time of year again...

For the second year in a row, I'm dealing with the craziest emotions. You see, it's that time of year again - NFL training camps are commencing all over the country. On the one hand, I'm excited that the season is getting ready to start. On the other hand, every time I read friends' facebook status updates about their husbands packing up and leaving for camp, it's just another reminder that we're not going through that same summertime ritual again this year.

Amazing how things can change, and quickly. Just a couple of years ago, this time of year was full of anticipation and excitement. The stress of camp is unbelievable - at least it was for us. There was always a question of whether Ryan would make the final roster. I'd worry endlessly that he'd get hurt. But, my goodness - the joy and happiness that came with making it through training camp and onto that 53-man roster was amazing. It made all the stress worth it.

Now going into our second season out of football, the stresses are completely different. After living off of our savings for a year-and-a-half, money is a big concern for us now. I've certainly been delaying the inevitable - I'm going to certainly be looking at returning to the workforce full-time by year's end to make sure our bills our getting paid. Thank goodness I've got my legal career to fall back on - although finding a job in this market with a significant work gap on my resume won't be easy. And honestly, the thing I'm surprisingly struggling with the most is having to leave my babies. If you had asked me ten years ago how I felt about being a stay at home mom, I'd tell you straight up that I was a working woman and that my place would be in an office somewhere, not at home. Now that our situation is going to necessitate me working, my heart is heavy knowing that I won't be the one dealing with and witnessing little milestones, smiles, laughter and even snotty noses.

As usual, I get the question often - "So what's Ryan doing these days? Is he playing? What's his plan?" And as usual, we're in a holding pattern with his career yet again. Ryan met with his agent last week who assured Ryan he's still on team radars. That being said, there are no teams offering free agent contracts or showing interest in Ryan attending camp. Like last year, we'll be waiting for injuries - that is the only possibility of Ryan even getting an opportunity to POSSIBLY play this year. There are no guarantees. What is guaranteed is that this will be the last season we can afford to play the "wait and see" game.

No doubt we are nearing the end of our NFL chapter, and it's a hard chapter to finish out. I wish this story of our lives was more like a best seller - one that you don't want to put down because you can't wait to read what happens next. Instead, life is reading more like one of my legal textbooks these days - slow, arduous, and unbelievably uneventful.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This is more than a coincidence...

Two amazingly wonderful, and funny, things happened today. Both involved spontaneous vocal reactions from Will that just blew me away.

First - This morning, I burped. Promptly afterward, Will looked at me and said, "Excuse me..."

Next - At some point this morning, I yawned. Will responded by saying, "Mommy's tired."

Now, for parents of normally developing almost-five-year-olds, these utterances wouldn't be a big deal. To a mommy of a kiddo with autism who usually just repeats what I say or doesn't respond to things at all, these utterances are monumental. Will's little brain is clearly making appropriate connections and he's verbalizing what he's thinking. This is huge from a little guy who has typically been labeled as "non-verbal." These utterances give me great joy, and I dare say, a little hope...

About two months ago, we began a controversial treatment on Will called chelation. Often used to treat people with lead poisoning, it's use as an autism treatment is controversial because it's whole purpose is to draw toxic metals out of the body. And because the government and mainstream medicine keep telling us that there's no link between toxic metals like mercury and lead and autism, then this treatment can't possibly work. Right?!?

Will went in for his first treatment a while back in which the nurse injected a solution intravenously into Will's arm. The theory is that the metals attach themselves to the solution and expel from the body. After the first treatment, we received test results that showed the chelation pulled out elevated levels of lead, mercury, aluminum and nickel from Will's little body. There was actually three times the amount of lead in Will's body than what we should've seen. The results were shocking.

Within two days after the treatment, we heard one of Will's first spontaneous utterances. Bryn turned off the television, and without any prompting whatsoever, Will said, "No, no Bryn." Ryan and I just looked at each other in shock.

A few weeks ago, I geared up for one of my least favorite tasks - cutting Will's toenails. You see, for years, Will has had yellow, thick, fungus-y looking toenails - based on what I heard one doctor say at a conference, this is a common trait among autistic children. Will's toenails were hard to cut and just nasty. Imagine my surprise when I picked up Will's big toe and saw a pink nail. I looked at the rest of the nails - all pink. They are still a little thick, but they are pink like normal toenails. Coincidence? Or maybe it's the fact that we might actually be ridding his little body of those bad things that were making his toenails sick.

Yet another cool incident - yesterday we went to a friend's house for some food and fun. A neighbor commented on how engaged Will was with the other children. You see, the last time he'd seen Will was at a block party where Will just sat in a chair by himself for two hours. We all watched in delight yesterday as Will giggled and interacted with the other children.

And then this morning - "Excuse me" and "Mommy's tired." But that wasn't it. When I woke Bryn up from her nap, we did what we usually do. She waved to Will from the second floor then we came downstairs. I said to Bryn, "Say hi Will," which Will usually repeats (Say hi Will). Nope, not today. Will responded, "Hi Brynie Pie..." Again, this is so significant it just about knocked me off the couch.

It's hard for me to believe that these major developments we've seen since beginning chelation therapy are just coincidences. Maybe the treatment is actually working. Well, we're going to keep going with it until the tests show no more metals in his body. I've read the process can take a few months up to a couple of years, but it's worth the time and effort to hear these wonderful things coming out of Will's mouth. I'm looking forward to what tomorrow will bring!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The week in review...

It's been such a fun yet busy week - it's been hard finding time to update the blog. So here's my exciting week in review...

Last weekend, we flew to Nashville for the annual Teammates for Kids VIP weekend. Teammates is an organization we support and belong to. It is the brainchild of country superstar Garth Brooks. We love this charity because they triple match donations made by pro-athletes and 100% of the money goes to children's charities. You can't beat that!

We had a great time catching up with friends. Our amazing host, Garth Brooks, invited us to a barbecue in his "barn" last Saturday night. We had a great convo with Garth. We were talking about Will and he said something amazing. He said, "I've never thought of autism as a handicap. I think it's a gift because those kids are brilliant." WOW! I think I almost started crying when he shared that perspective with us. It was pretty cool.

After the barn party we ventured out to a club called the Tin Roof and listened to an awesome band. Sunday night, we had a tour and dinner at the Country Music Hall of Fame. After dinner, Garth did what he does best and sang for us in a small auditorium that only seats about 200. Another remarkable and memorable experience.

Last Monday marked my 33rd birthday. Or as I like to say - I turned 29 for the fourth time. I had one of the most amazing, low-key birthdays. Once home from Nashville (with a quick stop on our way home at my agent's office for an audition), we played with the kids and then went out for a family dinner at On the Border. Will even sang me happy birthday! It was wonderful. Then I met up with some girlfriends for cocktails to cap the evening off. Family, friends and fun - I can't imagine a better way to start my 33rd year.

Tuesday, we were back at the Bite. We found out this week our contracts have been extended through the end of the year - YAY! Here's a pic of me and my smashing co-host Hilary Kennedy.

We also had a special guest named T-Bone that day on set for one of our segments. He was such a sweet doggie.

After I left the Bite, I had a photo shoot for a Japanese machine company. It was so funny because I went from smashing t.v. host to sexy machine operator in about half an hour. Hey, work is work!

On Wednesday, Ryan left for L.A. - it appears my husband may have a second calling in acting. Well, he's in L.A. to shoot a Nike commercial. He's playing football in the commercial, so it isn't a big stretch for him, but I'm loving that my husband is making money in an industry I've been involved in for decades! He may actually be able to do a little something with this. I mean, check out his headshots - NOT BAD!

I had another audition yesterday, and I also found out I booked another job I'd auditioned for. Sweet! So work is definitely picking up!

Let's see - what else. So Bryn is walking - yes, walking. She only crawls when she needs to get somewhere fast. And Will seems to be doing great. We actually are trying chelation on him. Chelation is a treatment used for people with lead poisoning. The i.v. treatment helps draw out heavy metals in the body. Will has had three treatments so far. Each one has pulled out metals like lead, mercury, aluminum and nickel. Amazingly, his language has significantly increased since starting these treatments. I was shocked one day when I went to cut his toenails. For years, his toenails have been yellow and fungus-y (is that a word?). Well, I went to cut them nasty toenails and they were pink! I couldn't believe it.

And finally before I turn in for the night, I received the CD with the official Mrs. Texas America pictures on it. Here are some more shots from my first pageant. I have to admit, I rocked that night! Here's looking to competing again next year!

Phew, that was a lot - going to bed now but will try to keep up next week! Fitting it all into one blog post is exhausting!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our hotslings debut!

Bryn and I are officially on the Hotslings website! Check it out!

I had another fun photo shoot with the Hotslings people today - the shots were definitely more glam! I had full make-up with bright red lips and '40s style hair. It was awesome - can't wait to see those pics!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Almost 33, and I've still got it!!!

Yes, that's me doing the best cheerleader jump I could muster up into my friend Amanda's pool yesterday during her annual 4th of July shindig. I have to say - I've still got some hops in my old age. Blake, Amanda and I apparently couldn't get enough of reliving our cheerleading days of yester-years - we had to do a couple group jumps to complete the day.

And what's a pool party without a cannonball...

After fun times at the Nalls, we came back home and hung out with our friends and neighbors while illegally lighting fireworks and listening to Michael Jackson tunes. We finally called it a night, or should I say 'morning,' around 2 a.m. I can't even lie - I'm tired. That's when age starts to catch up with you. Late nights and little kids who get up at the butt crack of dawn don't mix.

Back to the grind tomorrow. This should be a pretty mellow week - I'm hoping to hear back some positive news from a few auditions I've been on recently. This past Wednesday, I received some disappointing news for a role I'd auditioned for. I'd gotten a callback, and it was down to me and two other girls for the lead. Unfortunately, I wasn't cast. I didn't realize how bad I wanted the project until I didn't get it. It definitely took me a couple of days to recover from the news, and I'm still not completely over it. But there will be more roles, more auditions to come!

On an exciting sidenote, Ryan actually ended up shooting a series of commercials last week - for the NFL!!! The NFL was shooting the commercials at the new Cowboys stadium and they were looking for "football players." Ryan obviously fit the role so I sent him to the audition and he was cast. He spent two days shooting, and it actually looks like working on that commercial could potentially lead to more work. He may have another shoot lined up that will require him to travel to L.A. for a week. He shoots two commercials and he's going to be eligible for his SAG card. I've been in the business since I was a tot and I'm not. Go figure!

Hopefully more fun and exciting news to come!