Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Give Them Wings, So They Can Fly

Lauren flew on an airplane recently to visit her best friend. She has flown before with the hubby and/or I several times, but she has never flown completely by herself.  Her very first plane trip was to Iowa to visit some of my friends just before she turned two.

This most recent trip comes ten months before she turns 18.  The best deal I could find for her was a non-stop flight that required us to wake up at 3:00 a.m. and get to the airport by about 5:00 a.m. When I booked the flight, given that she is now 17, meant that she could fly alone without paying an additional fee to have someone "escort" her to and from the departing and arriving airports.  I thought that I would be able to go all the way to the gate with her.  I asked two people at security about it and they told me to go back to the airline counter and get a gate "pass."  I was told I had to wait in a huge line, which I did for about 30-40 minutes.  Since Lauren had already gone through security, she was waiting for me at the gate and sent me several texts asking when I would join her.  I kept texting back that I was still in a very long line.  When I did finally make it to the counter, they flat out refused to issue me a gate pass.  I tried to explain that my daughter was already at the gate waiting for me and I hadn't even gotten a chance to hug her goodbye!  I was kind of bummed, but didn't want to create a scene. I had already witnessed a man get verbally abusive and two security guards coming to talk to him.  Guess I wasn't the only one upset with the airline!!  At least I had a little bit of entertainment while I waited in the long line.  Since I couldn't join Lauren,  I called her and told her what was going on.  The only way I would have been able to hug and kiss her goodbye would be for her to come back out of the security area, but then she would have to go back through again.  It was getting too close to when her flight was going to leave and I didn't want her to chance missing her plane.  Plus, the hubby was back at home waiting for me to come back so he could go to work (Dominic was sleeping).  It was difficult for me, given that I could see her on the other side of the security area, but I wasn't able to give her a hug and kiss goodbye.  She said she was okay with it all, so I had to be too :)  Lauren has been so excited to travel to see her friend and I didn't want what happened with me trying to get my "pass" to put a damper on her trip.  I called her when I was heading back home and told her to text me when the flight left. Her plane eventually left (an hour and a half late) and she made it safely to her destination.  I would have never let her go on that very first plane ride by herself, but I had absolutely no hesitation in letting her do it now.  Lauren and I have a super close relationship (which I treasure), but we are also independent of each other. It's a fine line of how much to "micro-manage" your teen as they head towards adulthood.   I have a tendency to want to help Lauren more than she needs to be helped.  Recently, more often than not, she has told me in a nice way to let her handle things more.  Lauren is starting her senior year in a few short weeks.  It will be a year of changes and transitions. She is planning on going to college, but wants to live at least one hour from us.   This time next year Lauren will be preparing to leave our "nest."  I'm confident that we have given her the "wings," so she can fly! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Parent's Worst Fear

About two weeks ago, an employee at a local shop nearby found a little guy about 6 years old by himself wandering around wearing only a diaper.  When the little boy left the shop and wandered into the street, the employee called the police.  When they arrived and tried to talk to him, he wasn't able to communicate, because he was non-verbal. When I heard that story, I instantly got a knot in the pit of my stomach and chills down my spine. Before Dominic learned to talk that was my absolute worst fear.  That he would get separated from us and not be able to tell anyone his name or anything else. I had a feeling the little boy they found had Autism.  Sure enough, he did.  Evidently, he was a foster child and somehow found a way to escape from the home.  Luckily, the foster parent came forward within a few hours.  Leaving, wandering, escaping or bolting from an area without permission is known as "elopement" and is a serious thing for typically developing children. It is brought to a whole new and very dangerous level when you have a child that is non-verbal.  Dominic sometimes tries to "bolt" from us, but it is usually when we are in an unfamiliar place. I just have to raise my voice a little and he knows he shouldn't try again.  I do get nervous when we are in crowded areas, but we kind of "tag team" Dominic, so one of us always has him by the hand or shoulders.  He used to know his phone number by heart.  Since it had been a while since I asked him, I decided to try on Sunday.  He didn't remember it anymore :(  That was my mission yesterday - drilling that number into his memory!  I can still remember my telephone number from the first house I lived in.  Guess it must have been drilled into my memory at one time.  I think all kids as soon as they can talk, should memorize their name and phone number.  At the very bare minimum, they should know their first and last name.  If they are non-verbal, then maybe having a plastic bracelet with their name, address and phone number would be good. A lot of young children and not just ones with special needs are extremely trusting and don't always understand danger.  Dominic still thinks it's hilarious to sometimes climb on top of our glass coffee table.  I wonder if he just doesn't think it's dangerous or whether he does it for the shock value! Most likely, it's the latter :) I quizzed Dominic Monday morning on our phone number and he got it right on the first try.  Whew, am I glad!  I also asked him "where" we live.  He told me the city, now I have to reteach him our address.  Have you taught your kids their name, address and phone number yet? If you have, at what age did you teach them? If they have special needs, do you have a special bracelet or another piece of identifying information they wear?  I would love to hear!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy Birthday to Dominic

When I found out that I was pregnant at age 40, I considered it to be a miracle.  After Lauren was born in 1996, I had two miscarriages, so I kind of figured it wasn't in the cards for me to have any more children. Those first three months of my pregnancy to say I was stressed, would be an understatement. Since I had lost my two other pregnancies before the third month, I was pretty sure it would happen again. Once I made it into my fourth month, I rested a little easier.  Dominic decided to come about two weeks early.  Today is his ninth birthday and wouldn't you know it, he woke up early this morning at 4:30 a.m.!! Good thing I'm an "early bird!" At first I thought I was dreaming, because I heard talking. Then I was thinking, okay, maybe it was the paper delivery person and they had the radio on.  Nope, it was Dominic, already up with all the downstairs lights on.  When I went down to check out what he was doing, he had pulled out a bag of Chex Mix and was helping himself.  I gently directed him to a better breakfast selection!  Dominic definitely has his own personality.  Lately, he has been telling me, "hi mommy" like a minimum of about 25 times a day.  He will keep saying it until I say hi back :) Dominic has also been administering lots of hugs and kisses to all of us here, as well as one of his teachers at summer school!  He is such a sweet and loving little guy.  We are so blessed and lucky that we have so many people that love and support us.  It means so much to me and our entire family.  I hope that through my blog posts you have gotten to know him (as well as the rest of us).  Every day is different with Dominic.  Sure, there have been many challenges in the past and I know there will be more in the future, but don't all children special needs or not, have struggles from time to time??  Whenever I feel just a teeny bit sorry for myself about Dominic having Autism, I think back to what one of his teachers (Miss "M"), told me when he first started school.  It is something I have never forgot and I don't think I ever will. She told me, "focus on what your child can do, not on what they can't."  She is a wise, wise woman and a gifted and talented teacher.  Miss "M" is also an awesome mom!!  We have been bugging Dominic about what he wants for his birthday all week.  He says, "cake with candles!" Easy to please, huh?  Dominic is all about the cake, ice cream and candles :)  Happy Birthday to my dear, sweet and awesome son.  Mommy loves you very much!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Perfect Day for a Bike Ride

They say once you learn how to ride a bike you never forget.  I have had a few bikes in my time, but my favorite was one that had a white banana seat with flowers and high handlebars.  Just for kicks, I did a quick search to see if there were any for sale on eBay. The kind of bike I rode back in the day is now considered to be "vintage." That made me chuckle a little :) The bike below is the one I currently ride.  If you can believe it, my in-laws won it in a contest they had entered! Pretty cool.

It has been pretty darn hot where we live lately, but this past Saturday, it was pretty nice (not humid) - a perfect day for a bike ride!  I have not been on my bike at all this summer, so the tires needed some air (thanks to the hubby for filling them for me).  I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could ride down to our local library and back.  It is not far, only about 3 1/2  miles round trip.  I had my cell phone, so if I had any issues I could call home. Once I put my helmet on, I was ready to roll. I started out fine, but by the time I got to the outer fringes of my neighborhood, I started breathing kind of hard.  I started thinking to myself, okay, is this because I'm trying to ride too fast? or is it because I have my different heart issues?? I came to the conclusion the heavy breathing was because I was trying to go faster than I was comfortable with.  Once I slowed down a little, I got into a momentum and I was fine.  I made it down to the library and went inside for a bit to "recharge" before heading back home.  I timed myself coming back home and it took about 14 minutes, which is slow, but it's not like I'm in the Tour de France or anything!  When I was coming back down our street, I saw the hubby outside doing some yard work.  I told him my bike ride was good, but I came to three conclusions.  #1 - if I plan on doing more bike rides, I need to get a seat that is softer.  #2 - my denim shorts I chose to wear, though cute, were not very good biking shorts.  #3 - I need to make sure I take some water! All, in all, the ride was a success and I'm really glad that I got out and enjoyed the beautiful day!  I see more bike rides in my future :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Rough "Re-entry"

We recently returned home after being "on the road" for about ten days.  We visited family and friends back on the East Coast and it was a great trip. Going to Maryland, we did it in one day - it takes about 10 hours. Coming back home, we stopped in Cleveland for the night. It's nice to break up the trip a bit, since it's only about 3 1/2 hours back to our house.  I'm glad that we have our minivan (especially on long trips), because it gives us lots of space. We have over 150,000 miles on it, but it keeps on going!!  Whenever we travel, the first thing we do when we get back home is unpack the car.  Since we were traveling for over a week, our minivan was packed with stuff.  It took a little while to unload everything.  The hubby is very predictable after a trip, he will take his suitcase upstairs, unpack it all, and then announce to me that he is already unpacked. This time, Lauren also unpacked her suitcase quickly, I think because she didn't have many clean clothes left and she was hoping the "laundry staff" would do a few loads.  A few hours after we got home, Lauren and I went to church and then headed to Kroger to get some essentials, like milk.  We got home and then the hubby needed to run a errand.  We had dinner in shifts, the kids first and then the hubby and I later.   On the Monday that we returned, the hubby went back to work, Lauren had an appointment and Dominic had music therapy.  On Tuesday, Dominic went back to summer school.  The rest of that week was jam packed and we all had multiple things going on every day.  I, like the hubby, am also predictable after a trip.  I NEVER unpack my suitcase as soon as we get home.  It typically takes me the better part of a week to fully unpack. Sometimes the suitcase makes it upstairs to my room, sometimes it spends a few days in the middle of the living room floor.  I think it's actually easier to keep it there, because it's only about 25 feet from the washer and dryer. Why take all the dirty clothes upstairs, just to bring them back down to wash them?!?!?! Yesterday, neither kid had anything going on all day - the first time since we've been back from our vacation.  The two of them just "chilled" all day - I think they were both completely exhausted.  I was telling the hubby that coming back from a vacation is kind of like "re-entering" the earth's atmosphere - sometimes it can be a bit of a "rough" landing!  You go from not really having a schedule or a routine to having one again.  How about you? how long does it take until you and your family are back to your routines after a vacation??  A few days?  a week?? longer??

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Preparing for the Next "50"

I turned 50 the first week in July. A half-century or five decades.  Lauren told me recently that the hubby and I don't look or act our respective ages (he turned 60 last November). That was a pretty nice compliment coming from our teenage daughter :) When I was her age, I definitely thought that 50 and 60 were ANCIENT!!!  I truly don't mind getting older.  I feel blessed for every day that I have. Getting up to see where the day will take me is pretty cool.  Life is what you make of it and it's about choices.  I have come to a few conclusions that I hope will prepare me for the next "50."  I really need to stop sweating about the small "stuff" so much. Life is too short to get bogged down by petty things, like when my friend of many years said something that I considered offensive.  If it is still bugging me the next time I talk to him, I'll let him know how I thought it was rude.  In the great scheme of life, it's not a humongous deal like I made it out to be. I'm also a maker of lists.  What I have discovered is that a lot of the time my lists are not realistic and then I get bummed out if I don't get everything done.  It seems like I try to do too much in a short amount of time and then I end up being late somewhere (like picking Lauren up at an appointed time) and that stresses me out!  I am going to work hard at allowing more time than I think I will need and maybe that way I won't be late!!  I also have to schedule time in my day to just "chill."  It's ultra important to find time to clear my mind of everything, even if it's just for a few moments.  I'm still a work in progress with that.  This school year will be a busy one, it will be Lauren's senior year of high school and Dominic's last year of elementary school. In December, the hubby and I will be celebrating 18 years of marriage. My stepson will be turning 30 this coming January. These first 50 years have been overall pretty awesome.  I can't wait to see what the next "50" have in store for me!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mom "Caves"

I read an article recently about women that had mom "caves."  We have all heard of men having their "cave" but I had never heard of women having one.  It was a pretty interesting article, one mom had hers in the laundry room. She painted the walls pink and put in other extras - it wasn't expensive - the whole makeover cost about $250.  Another mom had hers in a small corner of her kitchen that was painted yellow and looked out into her backyard. It got me to thinking, where is my mom "cave" in our house?  When we first moved into our house, it was a room downstairs in our basement.  That lasted a while, but, the room was so far removed from the upstairs where the rest of my family hung out that if anybody needed me or I was here by myself, I couldn't really hear anything down there.  I don't think I could put my mom cave in my laundry room.  I technically don't have a laundry room, where my washer and dryer are located is more like a hallway leading from the garage to the rest of our house.  We have a small kitchen so having a "corner" to myself isn't an option. I guess you could say my "cave" is tucked in a corner of our living room.  A handful of years ago, I went to a yard sale and found a really nice wood desk.  I talked the guy down to $15.00, which I thought was a super deal.  After I brought it home, I had to figure out a place to put it.  I never in a million years thought I would have a desk in a corner of my living room, but it works. Currently, the desk has a laptop, phone and lamp sitting on it and is about 10 feet from the front door. It is also close by to the steps going up to the upstairs, so I can keep an ear out for what's going on there.  It's near the laundry area, so I can go back and forth from there while I'm doing laundry.  It's very close to the kitchen, so it's an ideal place for me :) I think it's good for moms to have a special space/place of their own.  Where is your mom "cave?" do you have a separate room (like a craft room)? or do you have a special chair perhaps in a sunny corner of your family room?  If you like to garden, maybe it's a chair by all your flowers and plants, where you can just decompress after a long day.  No matter how big or small, fancy or plain - as long as it's a special place for you, that's all that matters!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

An Empty Seat Filled

A handful of years ago, an older gentleman that my whole family knows, lost his wife of over 50 years.  Her passing was pretty sudden and I remember being in shock when I first heard she had died.  The hubby and I went to her viewing to pay our respects.  When it came time for some prayers, I looked over and saw that there was an empty seat next to him.  I waited a few moments to see if anyone was going to sit next to him and no one did.  I decided to go over and sit with him.  It just didn't seem right that he didn't have anyone next to him.  We were unable to go to her funeral, but I kept thinking that there must be something else that our family could do to help him through this time of grief.  Since I love to cook and bake, the most natural thing for me to do was to do that.  Making him a meal and taking it over to his house would have been nice, but then he would be eating it by himself. I decided that I wanted to invite him over to our house for dinner.  I always make more than enough and our friend had very few food dislikes, so I could pretty much make him anything :)  He seemed very happy to come over for dinner that first time.  I can't remember what I served that night, but I do know that he was very appreciative.  When he was getting ready to leave and was thanking us, I said something like, "this isn't a one-time deal, we want you to come back soon for dinner!"  I think he was a little taken aback, because I'm pretty sure he thought it would just be that one time.  We invited our friend to dinner several more times after that first time.  A few years ago, he met a very sweet woman who would eventually become his wife.  The hubby and I went to his wedding and our friend never stopped smiling the entire time.  His new wife is super nice and the two of them make a great couple.  I had to really restrain myself to not be crying all over the place.  Now that he's a happily married man, we don't see him as often, but that's okay, the empty seat at his dinner table is now filled.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Knowing Your Child's "Limits"

We recently took a trip to visit friends and family. Traveling in a car, train or plane for long lengths of time, visiting unfamiliar places and restaurants can be challenging for any small child, but it is sometimes extra hard when you have a child with special needs.  Kids and especially those with Autism like their routines.  Dominic has been really good lately when we have taken him out to restaurants, we are basically able to stay as long as we want and chat amongst ourselves, while he entertains himself.  Well, on my birthday we tried taking him to my favorite restaurant, a Chinese place that I grew up going to.  The minute Dominic got to the restaurant, we tried to get him to sit in the chair next to me, that lasted just a brief amount of time.  He then went over to sit next to my brother, which would have been fine, but he kept lying down on the seat and trying to go under the table.  I decided I needed to sit over on the other side of the table with Dominic and he was able to be more focused.  All was well, until a giant fly went zooming past him. That was the straw that broke the camel's back!  Dominic jumped up from the table and started walking out towards the front door.  I gently told him we needed to get back to the table, so I could finish eating.  The more I pushed him, the more he resisted.  If you told a typically developing child to get back to the table, they would probably squawk a little, but would eventually go back and finish eating.  With Dominic, he still struggles with the "why" questions.  I asked him a few times "why" he didn't want to go back to the table, but I already kind of knew why.  He is terrified of bugs.  He sees one or hears one and it really flips him out.  He has a genuine fear of them.  It hasn't always been like that, so I'm still trying to figure it out.  Since there were a few chairs near the front door and a large fish tank, I decided to just sit there with him until everyone else finished eating.  Dominic calmed down some and kept asking to sit in the car.  I told him the car was hot and we were going to have to wait.  He didn't like it, but he waited relatively patiently.  It bummed me out about 5% that I couldn't finish my birthday dinner, but I also understood that we had probably pushed Dominic to his "limit."  What fun would it have been for me to take him back to the table?  He would have been really upset.  After a while, everyone else finished and we all left the restaurant. Haven't we all seen kids crying or upset at the store or at a restaurant and wondered what was going on?  Most likely, a kid had been pushed and gone beyond their "limits."  Don't we as adults get a bit cranky if we are pushed past ours?  It was fine that I couldn't finish my dinner the night of my birthday.  It made super delicious leftovers the next day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Caught Off-Guard, Part Two

My last post was about someone I didn't know who said something that I considered out-of-line and offensive. Well, this post is about someone that I have known a very long time saying something that was really hurtful in regards to myself and Lauren.  Again, I "shut down" and didn't know how to respond.  After I hung up the phone with this person, I was really upset.  It took me a little while to calm myself down.  I guess this person thought that he was being funny, but it definitely wasn't.  I have considered him to be like the older brother that I never had.  It has really made me seriously rethink if I even want to remain friends with him.  When you have someone that you have known a long time say something incredibly offensive, do you tell them that it really hurt your feelings or do you just move on, like it was never said? I have gone back and forth thinking today about it.  I have gotten over being really ticked about it (that only lasted a little while), but now I'm trying to figure out whether I should say something or not. He is a friend of the hubby's, so I could have him tell him that I was offended by his comments, but I feel like I should be the one to do it.  What's that old saying? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?  Well, I'm here to say that words do hurt!!  What about you? would you confront the person and tell them how it hurt your feelings? or would you just let it go?  I would love to hear!

Welcome to "Holland"

Have you ever heard of the "Welcome to Holland" story? I had heard of it, but never read it until about a week ago. It is wr...