Thursday, November 29, 2012

Powerball Mania

Okay, I admit it, when I heard the Powerball jackpot was over $550,000,000 yesterday, I kind of got caught up in Powerball "Mania." I made the hubby go buy one ticket for me. I could hardly wait until 10:59 p.m. to find out if I had won.  I had one number right, but I think all that will get you is a pat on the back :)

I can't even wrap my mind around what it would be like to win that jackpot. After I heard that two tickets with the winning numbers were sold in Arizona and Missouri, it got me thinking this morning, would winning buckets of cash make you happy? I'm happy that my basic needs are met everyday - a roof over my head, food on the table and clothes to wear. I am blessed with a loving family and many friends.  For many of the people that just lived through the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, it may be several months or even years before the most basic of needs will be met sufficiently. If I had won the jackpot, I would have donated about 95 percent of it to different charities :) It will be interesting to hear what the winner and/or winners plan on doing with their new found wealth.  One thing is for sure, it will change their lives forever!!!  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday "Traditions"

Last Saturday night, Lauren and I went to see the Nutcracker.  We started going back in 2009 and have been going every year since.

It is put on by the local ballet company in the area and they do a magnificent job.  We see at least one or more girls (or guys) that we either know or know of in the production.  Since this was our fourth year of going together, just the two of us, I guess you could say it has become an after Thanksgiving "tradition." With high school graduation about a year and half away and then college after that, Lauren was telling me we might not be able to go together every year.  Hopefully, that is not the case :(  For some families, making a certain kind of cookie during the holidays, putting up the Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving or going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve are "traditions."  Back before I met my husband, I would always spend Thanksgiving with my own family in Maryland and Virginia.  Once we started dating and then later married, we started going to Cleveland for Thanksgiving. Since both of my in-laws have now passed away, and my hubby is an only child, we don't really travel there too often.  It was just the hubby, myself, Lauren and Dominic for Thanksgiving dinner this year.  My stepson currently lives out of town, so he was unable to be with us. We cooked a turkey close to 18 pounds, so I think we'll be having that ALOT the next week :)  We have been living in the Midwest almost eleven years and I love it here, but a drawback is most of my family and a handful of close friends live back on the East Coast.  I keep in touch with them by e-mail, phone calls and Facebook, but it isn't quite the same as seeing them in person.  We have traveled back at holiday time to Maryland and one of my best and fondest memories is ringing in the New Year with my best friend and her family one year.  My best friend and I have known each other a little longer than I've known my husband and she is like a sister to me :) 

She opens up her house to my family and I when we travel back to the East Coast (usually during a holiday time or other special occasion) and it's become "tradition" that when we come to town we stay with her and her family.  I love it because I spend tons of time with my BFF and it makes up somewhat for all of the time we are not able to spend together normally.  It is really hard at the end of our visits to say good bye to each other :(  She is my best friend for life and I know that I am incredibly lucky to know her.  As the calendar creeps towards December and it gets busy with the holidays, what are some "traditions" that you and your family partake in??  I would love to hear!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A "Unique" Opportunity

I found out about an opportunity recently that I knew I wanted to be a part of.  The College of Human Medicine at the university located nearby were looking for parents to share their experiences with second-year medical students about having a child with Autism.  I think the main purpose was to give them some insight about how to treat their future patients. Yesterday morning, two other moms and I sat at a table in a lecture hall with about 100 or so medical students in front of us. One of the moms had been on the parent "panel" before twice, the other mom was like me, she had never done it before. It was a teeny bit intimidating and I was little nervous when I first started talking, but I soon got over the jitters :) After we got done sharing our experiences, the medical students could ask us questions. They read about Autism and other related disorders in books, but to hear from parents on the "front lines" is something all together different for them.  Looking out across the room while I spoke about Dominic and our family was a very moving thing for me.  I have to say, the whole experience was one that I will carry with me for a long time to come.  We only had a little less than an hour and after we were done talking, the medical students all clapped for us.  I wasn't expecting that reaction - I guess that means they appreciated us coming :)  As we left the lecture hall, one of the medical students came up to the three of us and told us that her brother has Autism.  She shared a lot of her own experiences with us :)  It was pretty cool to talk to her.  She will make a terrific doctor, so sweet and compassionate.  I'm glad that I participated in this "unique" opportunity and I hope to do it again soon!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Modern Conveniences

This is what our kitchen floors currently look like. We had a dishwasher that we didn't notice was leaking a little water until a few months ago.  We put it off because we had a bunch of other things going on.  When we eventually got around to taking care of the problem, it turned out we had mold under our carpet :(  One thing I found out about mold is that it's not dangerous unless you start disturbing it, which kind of happened when the old dishwasher was pulled out to make room for the new one!!  It cost more to "fog" our house to get rid of the mold than it did for the company to rip out our old cabinet and carpet!! We have been washing dishes by hand until we get the new dishwasher installed.  My hubby grew up in a household where his parents didn't have a dishwasher.  I grew up in a household that did.   I remember complaining one time to my grandmother (the one who lived to be 101) about having to wash dishes by hand sometimes.  Her reply back was "at least you have a dishwasher!!"  One of the many interesting items we found when we cleaned out the in-laws house was this:

I have no idea how old this is, but I'm guessing it's pretty old. The back of this thing says, "ideal for silks, hosiery and lingerie or handkerchiefs."  I'm so happy washing machines were invented - it's definitely a "modern convenience" I'm glad is around :)  My in-laws never got central air conditioning.  In my family that air conditioning was running several months out of the year. It's a battle of wills in the summer with the hubby and I about when the "air" should be turned on.  He doesn't like to be cold, I don't like to be hot!!!  One of my favorite book series to read when I was little were the Laura Ingalls Wilder books - she wrote "Little House on the Prairie" and other books.   Those to me were fascinating to read - she talks about what it was like - like using a fireplace to heat your house and cook meals.  Now we flip a switch for heat and use our stove, oven or microwave to cook and bake.  Thank goodness for those modern "conveniences!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Being Thankful

It was around this time last year that I had my unexpected hospital stay overnight.  I can't believe that it has been that long already!!!  I have spent that time reflecting and truly appreciating all that I have to be thankful for.  I am thankful to the nurse at the Red Cross who caught my irregular heartbeat in October of last year, when I was getting ready to donate blood.  Her finding that problem, necessitated an echocardiogram, which in turn, led me to get a heart catheterization, which showed I have the heart condition, non-ischemic cardiomyopathy!! Yikes, I really don't like to think what would have happened to me, had that not been caught.  Especially, since the cardiologist told me the worse case scenario for my condition is a heart transplant :(  I'm so very thankful that my four medicines I take are keeping my heart going strong! My husband told me recently that the whole experience of having me in the hospital was very "scary" to him.   For a guy who doesn't share his feelings too often, I guess it kind of shook him up.  I'm thankful for my family, extended family, friends who are like family, old friends, new friends and everyone else that supports and cares so much for our family.  I can't remember where I heard this, but it's one of my favorite sayings - "be thankful for what you have, not for what you don't have."  I have an appointment to donate blood almost one year exactly to the day that I was in the hospital last year.  It seems fitting that I do that.  I'm thankful that I have my blog to share my feelings and thoughts.  I appreciate every single person who reads it and if I can help or put a smile on even one person's face then I am ecstatic!! I don't proclaim to be an "expert" on anything, I'm just your average gal trying to embrace each day with a positive attitude.  I take the glass half-full, versus the glass half-empty approach. Thanks for coming with me on this journey/adventure that I call my life!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Too Set in My Ways??

When I go to the grocery store, I kind of get in the "zone."  I'm looking at my list, balancing coupons, looking for those good deals, etc.  Last week, when I was doing my shopping, I heard a voice say, "so, how is your week going?"  I looked over and it was the guy who stocks the shelves for Frito-Lay.  I have been going to the Kroger on Tuesday mornings around the same time for as long as I can remember.  I have bumped into my "buddy" on more than one occasion in the snack aisle.  I think I started chatting with him one time when his huge cart was in my way.  He's really nice and I asked him his opinion once about the flavor of the Lay's Dill Pickle chips, thinking he would have an inside track  :)  I told him that my week was going well and that I was going grocery shopping on a Wednesday just to shake things up.  He said, "it's not like we're in our routines or anything is it?"  We had a good chuckle, I grabbed two bags of my family's favorite potato chips and finished my shopping.  Good grief, am I so set in my ways that the Frito-Lay guy recognized me like he did?!?!  I know that I can pretty rigid sometimes (I'm working really hard on changing that part of my personality).  My hubby has been doing yoga every morning for over 30 years. It's definitely part of his morning "routine" and I've learned through the years to give him that space and time to himself.  I think it mentally prepares him for the day ahead.  There is very little about my life these days that is predictable.  I used to volunteer in the library at Dominic's school one day a week at the same time and on the same day.  I used to tell the librarian that even if the rest of my life was busy and unpredictable, I could always count on the sameness at the library.  I think it's good to be somewhat set in your ways, but also open to change.  Life is not always the same everyday and wouldn't it be boring if it was?

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Uncle My Husband Never Got to Meet

Uncle Eddie was my mother-in-law's youngest brother.  She was one of 13 children, but she and her brother were very close, given that they were the two youngest of all the siblings. Uncle Eddie fought in World War II and was killed in action at age 19. My mother-in-law would talk about her brother and how difficult it was when he died.  I can't even imagine what that must have been like for her, losing a sibling at such a young age.  I used to tell her a lot how I admired her for being such a strong woman. When we cleaned out my in-law's house in Cleveland, we found the items below.

Other relatives of my husband (including his own dad) were also in World War II.  When I found the Purple Heart that was Uncle Eddie's, I have to say it made me stop in my tracks. When I asked the hubby if I could write about his uncle on my blog, his words were, "I'm sorry I never got to meet him."  My husband's middle name is Edward (in honor/memory of his Uncle Eddie). So many of our loved ones have been or are in the military. I think it's important to take a few moments on Veteran's Day to remember those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mom "Radar"

I'm all for trying to make your kid independent, but I witnessed something this weekend at my local Target that set my mom "radar" off big time!! We were putting away our cart after checking out and were heading for the main set of doors to leave.  The kids and I watched as a mom and dad headed to the customer service area leaving their son (who looked to be not quite two years old) by himself near the shopping carts.  He started pushing the carts around, banging into people and all the other carts. Not once in about one full minute did the parents look back to see what he was doing. There was an older woman standing around, like us, looking at him and I think she was thinking the same thing, why don't the parents come get him and let him wait with them in the customer service area??  I was telling Lauren we needed to do something.  It was VERY busy right there near the carts, people coming in and out of the doors very quickly.  It would have been easy for someone to snatch the little guy up and take him right out of the store. That is one of my biggest fears with Dominic, is that he will get separated from us and not be able to tell somebody his name. We have worked really hard with him and he now knows his first name, last name and phone number :)  Before he was as verbal as he is now, the thought of him getting lost in a store really freaked me out!!  Since there was a clerk standing there by the cart area, I told her, "I think that little boy belongs to those parents over there" and pointed towards the mom and dad.  She led the little boy over to the parents and asked them if the little boy belonged to them. It would have been easy for the kids and I to walk out of the store and assume the little boy would know where his parents were or that someone else would do something.  If he was older, I might have done that, but he was so little.  It made me think back to when I lived back in Maryland and there were little kids sitting in a car all by themselves in a parking lot near a store.  I actually went up to the car and asked them where their parents were.  It was kind of a hot day and the windows were rolled down, but they looked pretty young to be sitting by themselves in the car, especially on a hot day.  I waited in my car until a parent came, got in the car and left.  I wanted to make sure they were okay :)  Even before I had kids of my own, if I saw something that didn't seem quite right going on with a child, it would really bother me. Maybe it has something to do with being the oldest of my siblings. I've had that maternal "instinct" from a very young age. I found my experience at the Target to be very disturbing and I'm glad that I stepped in and did something! What would you have done if you saw the little boy by himself??? Would you have taken a few moments to make sure he was okay??

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Not Everyone Embraces the "Differences"

The special needs bowling group that our family belongs to started up again in mid-October. The group meets once a month from October until April and is sponsored by one of the local area churches.

One of the moms that I met last year came up to me and we started chatting and catching up from the last time we saw each other.  She has a son with Down Syndrome and he is getting ready to graduate from high school :)  I love this mom, she always has a smile on her face and has the best positive attitude about her son. She also has two older children that are typically developing.  She was asking me about Lauren and how high school was going.  She was telling me about her older kids and I was telling her about my stepson and his job.  Her son has been busy getting his senior pictures done and with everything else the last year of high school entails. My friend and I were chatting so much, the hubby had to keep gently "reminding" me when it was my turn.  Even though her son is about ten years older than Dominic, she is a wealth of information and a terrific resource.  One thing she said she has observed over time, is that not all people have embraced her son's "differences."  Her son is so sweet and kind.  He and some of his buddies were in the lane next to us and when Dominic had a good frame (he got a few spares and a strike), he gave Dominic a "high five." Very cool to watch :)  My husband remarked to me that he really enjoys the bowling group because everyone is kind of in the same "boat." All the parents have one or more children with special needs.  It is a very comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.  We all understand if a kid has a meltdown, cries, accidentally bowls in the wrong lane, or doesn't wait their turn.  We are all very accepting of each other.  I was thinking to myself, that if it wasn't for Dominic, I would have never met this mom and her son.  Those people that don't embrace others that are "different" are truly the ones that are missing out :) 

My New "Relationship" with the Sun

Long gone are the days that I would sit on the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean for HOURS at a time with just baby oil on my skin for prote...