Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Growing Up

My daughter is halfway to her 16th  birthday.  When she was younger, I wanted to do everything for her. I treated her like she was made of glass.  I would give the other  kids a hard time on the playground if they weren't nice to her. I'll never forget when she was in second or third grade she told me, "I'm not going to call you mommy anymore, I'm going to call you mom."  It made me a little sad, but I got over it.  I was so tied into her that when she went to preschool at age 4, I would stare at the clock, waiting for her to come home from school.  My world at the time revolved around taking care of  her.  What I wouldn't give now for a day with 25 hours in it! As she's gotten older, I've had to learn to distance myself somewhat.  It's a slippery slope, you want to help, but how much is too much?   When she had to do a project making a lighthouse in elementary school, we went to the hobby store and bought some supplies.  When I went to the school to see what all the other kids made, I was astounded by the lighthouses with running water and electrical wiring.  They most definitely were not made by the kids.  I told one of her teachers that I thought the lighthouses looked pretty good.  The teacher said quietly back to me, "well, we know which ones were made by the parents."  I am proud to say my daughter did hers all on her own.  I'm about as creative as a pin cushion, I couldn't have helped her make it look professional even if I tried!   The other day she and I were discussing something and my hubby was in the room.  He looked over at us and said, "I  really don't understand "girl talk."  He never had a sister so most of the stuff we talk about is foreign to him!  My daughter and I have a great relationship - we are not each other's best friends, but we are good  friends.  With my new found medical problems she has been a terrific source of comfort.  She is amazing with her little brother.  She and her older brother have a great relationship. I'm glad she feels comfortable enough to share things with me.  I try not to ask too many questions, sometimes she just wants a listener.  I try to dispense my motherly advice only when asked.  One of the things I tell her the most is, "this is what I would do, but you're the one that has to make the decision."   I can't sit on her shoulder and make decisions for her, she has to learn on her own.  There are lots of temptations for teenagers out there - smoking, drugs, drinking, etc.  It's downright scary.  From here on out,  all  I can do is hope that she makes the right choices as she heads towards adulthood.  Isn't that what all parents want for their children?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Some Things are Out of Our Control

I am a person who likes to be in control, I readily admit it.  Well, on  the Monday before Thanksgiving, I definitely was not in control!  I unexpectedly ended up spending the night in the hospital.  I thought I was taking good care of myself, I've been walking two miles a day/five days a week  for about 8 years or so.  I've also been trying to watch my diet more closely.  I had noticed that about the past six weeks I was getting short of breath while walking.  I  thought  maybe it's because I was trying to talk too much at the same time I was walking (I do have a big mouth sometimes)!   I also had been having some chest pain (during those six weeks), but thought it was because I am usually trying to do two or more things at the same time.  I was at the hospital that Monday morning  for a Stress Test and Echocardiogram.  I was scheduled for those tests because  towards the end of  October when I donated blood to the Red Cross and was getting the mini-exam the nurse said, "do you know that you have an irregular heartbeat?"  She and another nurse counted three irregular heartbeats in a minute.  They suggested I see my regular doctor.  About a week later, the doctor did an EKG in the office, which didn't show anything, but she highly suggested getting the Stress Test/Echocardiogram  just to make sure.  When I went for the test on Monday, within about five minutes the cardiologist found I had one abnormality, something called, "left bundle branch block."  He suggested I get a heart catheterization since I was already at the hospital.  I was lucky there was an opening at 1 p.m. I went for that test which showed I had no blockages (thank goodness), but it did show I have a heart condition called "non-ischemic cardiomyopathy."  Shortly after the catheterization, they tried a heart medication to get my blood pressure down (it was kind of high).  Within about an hour of that I started feeling faint - I buzzed for the nurse and within a minute I had three nurses and a doctor gathered around my bed injecting a different medication  into my I.V. to bring it back up. It had dropped down to a pretty dangerous level.  I remember the nurse telling another nurse, "we have a situation!"   I've been called a lot of things in my life, but never a "situation."   Another word tossed around regarding my blood pressure, was that it "tanked."  To be sure I was okay, they kept me overnight.  Before I was released on Tuesday afternoon,  I asked one of the three cardiologists that I saw, what is the worst case scenario for my two heart problems, his response was, "heart transplant."   That's not really the answer  I was looking for.  The cardiologists are hopeful  both of my conditions can be treated with medications.   One gigantic lesson I've learned from this whole experience is that I can't always be in "control" no matter how much I want to be.  Life just doesn't work that way!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Tribute

This Saturday (November 26) has a special significance for me.  My beloved cousin that passed away  in March would have been 50.  She left behind so many people that struggle with the loss.  My cousin was one of  a  twin and she also has a younger brother.   My aunt (her mom) is one of the many people that loved and adored my cousin.  I have written about my "Auntie" before.   She was married to my mom's brother.  My aunt took care of her husband and at the same time helped to take care of my 101-year old grandmother until both of them passed away.  She and I talk a lot about what it is like to be the "caregivers"  in our families.   My aunt and I  have a really tight bond and we are incredibly close.  I cherish my relationship with her.  She has been a good sounding board for me and I hope that I have been the same for her.  She has been one of my son's biggest supporters through all of his challenges.  My kids absolutely adore her and when we visit the East Coast a visit to see my Auntie is always a must!!!   I think the loss of a child, no matter how old they are, must be the hardest thing to deal with in the whole world.  I can't even fathom how my aunt manages to handle that loss on a daily basis.  I know that  Saturday will also  be a very hard day for my cousin's two siblings.  My  twin cousins and I were pretty close growing up.   I remember one time they showed me a box that they said  held  our great grandfather's glass eye inside of it!  I don't know if it really was or not, still not sure to this day!  I always looked up to them because they were a little older than me.  Being twins, I always thought that was cool, because they always had a playmate.  My cousin left behind a daughter, who I am sure struggles with the loss a lot.  I still have my mom, so I really can't imagine what it has been and what it will be like for her in the future.  I will be thinking of you, dear, sweet cousin this Saturday and will be remembering you and loving you with all of my heart.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Group Hug

We recently had my stepson  fly in to town to visit.  He is an adult and on his own, but we always welcome him  back into the "fold"  when he comes.  We would love to see him more, but he is so busy with his job that we're happy for whatever time we have him.  We were lucky this time to be able to have him with us for four days.  We never know from visit to visit when we'll see him again, so we always try to make his visits a good time.  I have known him since he was 6.  He will be 28 in January!  As the saying goes,  time really does fly by.  He wasn't in our house five minutes before I was asking him if he would like something to eat!  I had a sandwich on the kitchen table for him within 15 minutes.  I love cooking and baking for him (I always have).  He appreciates it so much and always gives me  the best compliments!  How could I not want to feed him??   We made him an early Thanksgiving dinner, complete with pumpkin pie because he will not be with us on the actual day of Thanksgiving.    His returning flight left on Saturday at 9 a.m.   We all got up and out of our house by 7:30 a.m.  No easy feat for 5 people on a Saturday morning.  We chattered away in the car on the way to the airport all of us wanting to talk!  My husband was just going to drop him at the curb and I was like "no, you're parking the car and we're all going in to say good-bye!"  I was joking to my stepson that I should have made a sign saying, "Bon Voyage!"  He told me nicely that might have been a bit much.  Instead,  as we were saying our good byes near the security entrance we started hugging him one by one.  My 7-year old started to pull us closer together so I said, "group hug!"   So, the five of us did a  group hug.  It didn't matter to me who saw us doing that.  Some people might have thought it was something unusual to see at the airport, hopefully the people that did see it thought it was cool!  My stepson was very touched, so to me that was all that mattered.  He was feeling the love from us.  I love to give and receive hugs - that's just who I am!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

There is Always Something to be Thankful For

Hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is almost here.  It kind of bums me out that the day after Halloween all the Christmas and holiday decorations start coming out full tilt!  What about Thanksgiving??  It kind of seems like the forgotten holiday because it's wedged in between Halloween and Christmas.  Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks for all that you have.  When you don't have a lot, it's sometimes hard to find something to be thankful for.  When you have a lot, it's easy to forget to be thankful for what you have.  One of the many things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving is the incredible opportunity I have been given by MomsEveryday.com.  There are so many "mom" websites out there in the Blogosphere.  I have found their website to always  be positive, encouraging and nurturing.   I am thankful for my loving family and  friends.  This will be our first Thanksgiving without my mother-in-law.  I know that it will be difficult, especially for my husband, but we will make it through just fine.   It would be easy to over focus on the fact that she is not with us.  I choose not to do that.  In our family,  we talk about the special memories of our loved ones that have passed on.  I love that I have this blog to be able to share some of the many memories I have of my mother-in-law.  As we head towards Thanksgiving take a few moments to think of one good thing you can be thankful for, I know I will be!

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Definition of a " Special Needs" Child

I looked up in the dictionary recently what the word "special" means.  The first definition I saw was, "out of the ordinary."  I was thinking, well, that certainly describes my son.  He is anything but ordinary!   Ordinary means something that is the same.  Wouldn't the world be a boring place if everyone was the same??   I had to hear that our son was "below average" several times at his recent IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting in October.  The IEP is an annual meeting with usually the child's teacher, social worker, psychologist, speech therapist and the parents to discuss the special education services your child gets through the school system.  We were getting results of the many tests that were administered to get his current "performance"  level.    I had to hear that our little guy was extremely "below average", well "below average" and  that his language impairment was "profound."  I am realistic about his abilities and came to terms with him having Autism, ADHD and speech delays a long time ago.  Even so, to hear those words (and I'm all about the words) it was tough. We have worked so hard to get him to the point he is now.   I would love to develop an additional "test" that parents would get the results of at their child's IEP.  This test would list at least ten things that your child is "above average" on.   A few examples would be giving hugs, reciting the ABC's or can wave  bye.   For some parents that would be a 11 out of 10!  My own definition of a special needs child is that they are unique, "above average" and amazing!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Think Positive!!!

One thing I have tried my hardest to be throughout my life is a positive person.  The past year and half for my family has been a roller coaster ride.  I felt at times that I was in the front seat just flying at warp speed down the tracks.  Around this time last year,  my mother-in-law, daughter and son were all in the hospital in the same week!  I knew when the nurses and doctors started to recognize us in the Emergency Room that maybe we were there a little too much.  What I am realizing as I get older is no one goes through their life without at least one serious challenge.  It's how you handle those challenge(s) and how you come out on the other side is what separates the positive people from the negative people.  You can choose to let life's challenges weigh you down or you can choose to look at the positive side and learn from those challenges.  Negative people to me are just "toxic."  Life is way too short to waste time on negativity.   It's really just wasted energy.  When I found out my son was diagnosed with Autism at age 2 1/2, I could have chosen to be extremely negative and say why us???  I feel like my son chose us to be his family.  I had pretty much given up having any more children after my daughter was born.  I had two miscarriages after she was born and thought, okay, I guess it really isn't in the cards to have any more children.  When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I was stressed out every day that I would have another miscarriage.  I feel extremely lucky that I have him and feel honored to be his mom.  He has taught me to be more spontaneous  and shows me unconditional love every day.  Whatever challenges may be in my future, and I 'm sure there will be more, I will continue to try and see the positive side. That's really the only way I know how to be!!!!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Who Does She Think She is Wearing Those Shorts??

The title of this post is what I overheard an elderly  woman say about me when I visited my mother-in-law one time in Cleveland.  There were a trio of ladies that would hang out by the lobby and watch the people go in and out of the assisted living facility my mother-in-law lived in for about a year.  Those ladies would comment on everyone coming in and out, they really didn't have much of a "filter."  I didn't get too bummed out, because I walk 2 miles, 5 days a week, so I think my legs looked okay.  Later on though, it did make me wonder, what is my fashion style? Back when I was  in high school,  the style was bell bottom pants and platform shoes.  The "Izod" shirt was popular and something that I wanted all through high school, but never got!  I just wore whatever was comfortable, not paying a whole lot of attention to the current style.   I only went to college for a handful of semesters before I started working and going to college at the same time.  I  didn't pay attention to what I wore in college, because more than half of the time I went at  night and could just wear what I had worn to work that day.  I remember my boss at one of my past jobs demand that  I wear a dress or skirt because I was the receptionist.  That actually made what I wore easy!  When I started staying home with my kids over 15 years ago, my style became whatever was clean and not too wrinkled.  A few weeks ago I saw someone wearing pajama bottoms  at the store.  I was actually envious, at least she was comfy.  The only  time I get dressed up seems to be for special occasions or holidays.  I actually have to dust off my fancy shoes, because  about 80% of the time I wear my  tennis shoes.  I've started wearing socks with athletic flip-flops, but only when I'm going out  to get my mail or newspaper or driving the kids around.  I own lots of sweatshirts, t-shirts and a few pairs of jeans/shorts/capris.   I own t-shirts that I'm sure are older than my daughter.  Just last week my hubby and I we went to see a concert and I bought a t-shirt (a vendor was selling them dirt cheap, so I couldn't pass up that)! After thinking for a while, I've come to the conclusion that my "style" is  casual, sporty and sometimes "bohemian."  When a t-shirt and shorts/jeans are just a little too casual I like to wear a shirt that's got a pop of color.  Not so outrageous that you need sunglasses because it's so blinding, though!   I guess as I head towards 50 (less than 2 years from now),   I will stick with what's worked for me so far as an adult.  When it's time for me to be in assisted living (hopefully not until I'm about 90)  I'll be the one walking around in shorts (just to shake things up a bit)!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Age is Just a Number

My husband will be 60 next year  and I will be 49.  Being parents of three children so many years apart from each other we have heard just about every comment there is.  When a couple of girls in their late teens came to our house to buy one of  our cars a few years ago they were admiring a picture of the two younger "kids" we had in the hallway.  One of the girls remarked, "are those your grandchildren?"  I started giggling until I realized that would make me "grandma!!!"  I am certainly old enough to be my son's grandmother, but not to be my daughter's grandma.  When my husband went about a month or so to an eye doctor appointment, one of the technicians asked my husband if he was "retired."  He told her, "no, I have a seven year old."  He came home and said that  had took the wind right out of his sails. My husband exercises every day, does yoga and eats very healthy.  Some of my friends have already retired from the workforce and my husband has friends who already have grandchildren.   Having a child in elementary school, one in high school and one that is an adult has been quite interesting to say the least.  In the same conversation at our house,  we could be talking about Spongebob Squarepants, colleges my daughter is thinking about, and how my stepson's  job is going!!   My husband likes to tell people that he had a child every decade.  There are 11 years separating my husband and I.  It never has been an issue except when it comes to our musical tastes.  I like groups from the 80's and 90's, my hubby likes the music of the 60's and 70's.  We have a few groups in common, we have been to see the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, to name a few.  My little man and I love Kid Rock.  My daughter likes groups I've never heard of.  My stepson is pleasantly surprised when he mentions a group and I've heard of it.  There are about 21 years separating him and I.  My husband just yesterday was telling me that someone asked him how old he was and he asked the guy, "why, how old do you think I am?"  The guy told him 39! That made his day considering he is 20 years older than that.  My husband's hair color has changed from when I first met him.   He used to have dark hair and it has gradually changed to a nice shade of silver. Our 7-year old calls him "daddy, silver fox."  To me, age is definitely just a number.  Our children are what will continue to keep my husband and I young!!