Thursday, November 19, 2009
"I really hope you are not coloring in a reading book," I said, full well knowing that is exactly what I walked in on.
Aislynn looked up from her intentional rogue coloring activity. "But mom," she started, "I don't have any paper and I needed to write you a thank you note."
That was not quite the response I was expecting, but nice. This girl is quick on her feel, resourceful. These skills could come in handy someday. But back to the crime. "Well, I love when you write me thank you notes, but next time you need to ask Mommy for some paper."
Yeah, so here is the piece of evidence. Since when did writing your own name signify a "thank you?" I do love that kids mark the seen of the crime with their own name, very sneaky.
I guess I can be thankful that she was using crayon to write inside of a book, and not permanent black marker to write on the walls and herself, like I did as a child. The "Brooke writes with permanent marker all over herself and the walls" is a classic in our family. When my mom caught me and asked what I was doing, I responded, "I don't know." Apparently, by the time my dad arrived home, I had come up with a better excuse. My new answer, "I didn't have any paper." What can I say, like mother like daughter. I wish I had been smart enough in the midst of my crime to add that I was writing a "thank you" note too!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
2 weeks ago my computer suffered a stroke and died. Cause of death? Undetermined. It is still too painful and too fresh to go through all the details. All I know is my computer completely shut down, I panicked, tried to shock it-well not really, that would likely result in a fire-but I practically gave it mouth to mouth while screaming, "Don't give up on me...I love you!" Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, however this tragedy occurred at roughly 1:25am (Eastern time) and there were no conscious witnesses.
I spent HOURS the next day on the phone with I kid you not, THIRTEEN different HP/Tech/Tormentors. I was at about my breaking point when this conversation ensued:
(After already being forced by one phone tech to attempt to do open heart surgery on the computer tower, 10 techs later, and 6 hours later...)
*This conversation is real and actually occurred as stated below.
Tormentor: "Ma'am, please try to unscrew the screws that are attached to the side panel of the tower-"
Me: "NO!!!! I am NOT going through THAT again! No! I do not want to take apart the tower, that makes me feel very uncomfortable, I have a warranty!"
Tormentor: "Ma'am I need you to first-"
Me: "NO! The other guy already made me do that. He had me unscrew the panel, look inside and try to remove parts that would NOT come out. I do not have a screw driver that small! I am not a computer technician, I have a warranty! Why can't someone else take care of this problem!?"
Tormentor: "Ma'am I am trying to help you with this problem, but first I need you to tell me what you saw when you opened up the computer. What did you do?"
Me: Large Sigh. "Fine. I..." Told him everything I did.
At this point, Akael got sneaky, he started asking me if I did this or that when the tower was open...and, could I try to trace the bundle of wires attached to the mother board?
Wait! WHAT THE? He was trying to get me to take parts out of the computer again? I felt like I was in some sort of weird technology horror movie. I could just see all the bored computer technicians gathered around Akael's computer screen laughing hysterically at my almost mental breakdown. "Tell her to gently pop out the fan! Haha! Its screwed in! Haha! She'll feel like a dumb ass! Haha! Tell her to put her computer in the toilette! Haha..."
Although I was VERY near jumping off a cliff...or the couch, I indulged Akael as he gave me a crash course in mother board 101, computer lingo, and the hard wiring of a HP Pavilion Slimline. I could really give a sh** about all that, but if it got me to that beautiful point in the conversation where he would ask me for my warranty info I would endure.
I will spare you the gruesome details and the horrific things he made me do with the wires..unlatching wires..reattaching wires...all sorts of mad scientist stuff. I'll just bring you in to the end of the conversation, otherwise known as my full technology mental breakdown.
Me: "I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE!!! I HAVE BEEN ON THE PHONE FOR HOURS AND TALKED TO EVERYONE WHO WORKS AT HP! I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT! I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS! I HAVE A WARRANTY! WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME TRY TO REPAIR MY COMPUTER. IT DIED ALL THE WAY LAST NIGHT. THERE IS NO GREEN LIGHT OR YELLOW LIGHT ANYWHERE!!! AND I FEEL VERY UNCOMFORTABLE LOOKING INSIDE MY COMPUTER! I DON'T EVEN THINK WE ARE LOOKING AT THE SAME COMPUTER!! I CANNOT TAKE THIS ANYMORE! I HAVE A WARRANTY!!!!!
Akael the Tormentor: With a slight chuckle-no exaggeration.
Me: "I am not an idiot! I actually know how to use a computer pretty well. But there are major idiots out there who own computers! And I do not believe you make all of them open up their computers and take out parts. Half of those idiots don't probably even own a screw driver or know how to use one. Why are you making me do this? AHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Akael the Tormentor: Pleased that he had seen me crack. "OK Ma'am. I just need you to do one more thing for me. Screw the side panel back on and reattach the computer to the monitor and the power source and try to turn it on."
Me: WTF? You have GOT to be kidding me? Is that all? "Oh, is that all? Then what?"
Akael the Tormentor: Please Ma'am, can you do this for me and then tell me what happens.
After indulging Akael, I attempted to turn on the computer. Guess what happened? NOTHING!!! Just like I knew was going to happen roughly seven hours before that. When you see your own computer die before your own eyes, you know when its dead and its not coming back.
Akael's response to this: "OK, so it appears there is in fact something wrong with the town and it is not the monitor. I will now take down your information and someone will call you in the next 24 hours with further instructions. A box will most likely be shipped to you and you will mail in your computer tower in this box for repair."
What is this, mission impossible? At this point I was able to step away from the ledge. It only look 7 and a half hours and 13 people to get to the warranty info. I looked at my "HP care pack services" packet and now understood what the "In-home repair service" meant. I also scoffed at the picture on the cover with a grandfatherly man helping a family understand their computer problem.
Long story short:
Our computer is home safe-after being delivered in a not so safe box with little explanation of anything. I do know he had a heart transplant-AKA-the hard drive was replaced. On the plus side, I am thankful we actually had a warranty and did not have to buy a new computer. Although, I was seconds away from shouting, "Screw you Akael! I am going to the Apple Store! Take your HP Slimline and shove it!" On the minus side, I am very sad that none of our pictures, music, or documents could be recovered...or so they say. They are tormentors over at HP so who knows...
I don't know that I will ever get that image out of my head of my computer fully open and exposed, mother board and all, but I will try to heal and back up everything while I am at it! Oh, wait I currently have nothing to back up.
Me: Fists raised and on my knees "HP!!!"
Going for the dramatic finish.
PS: I have also learned I do not need a computer to complete me.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Just 24 days shy of four years old, Aislynn loves life.
Today in the car she announced, " I am SO excited!" full of anticipation about the playdate we were driving to, and the new friends we would meet. She actually had no idea what we would be doing or who we would be doing it with.
"How many friends will there be?" she asked.
"I don't know," I said.
She followed up, "What will their names be?"
"We'll just have to wait and see," I responded.
On arriving to our playdate with some new moms we were meeting, all but one for the first time, Aislynn was beaming. "Ooo..they have a park in their back yard!" she announced.
Park, swing set, what's the difference right? Aislynn proceeded to play, greet some of the children, wave at the moms, and even serenade some of them with her rendition of Amazing Grace.
One of the moms asked me, "Has she always been this friendly?"
And there it was, the question I never dreamed I would be asked in regards to this little girl. It was a question I only dreamed, hoped, and prayed a little less than 2 years ago that I might be asked someday.
I responded to the mom's question, and gave a mini synopsis of Aislynn's 180 degree turn around trip from anti-social, to social extremist. The mom of course, was very surprised by my response based on Aislynn's current extremely happy and social demeanor.
On the way home I started to think back. It was one of those retrospective moments. A moment where you are outside of a particular situation and you actually have some perspective, Rays of light finally shine through. You actually find some light at the end of an endless dark tunnel. You need those moments to give you hope for the other tunnels you still might find yourself in.
And so I realized that everyone we meet and have met in our new home in Bloomington Indiana will meet my extremely friendly, sweet, smart, kind and outgoing little girl.
They will never know that this same little girl who runs right up to people eager to introduce herself, used to freeze like a deer in the headlights when other children her same age approached. They will never know that she used to refuse to acknowledge other children and actually ran away from them.
This little lover of all new experiences and people used to cry when things were not "just so" or when new people were in the mix. I even remember the Christmas after she turned 2, celebrating Christmas at my in-laws when she refused to sit at the table with her aunt, uncle, and cousins the first night we arrived. She barely made it into the house. It was so extreme, we had to eat in the other room away from everyone else that first night. Those were some dark moments.
And once again I remember dreaming, hoping, and praying that someday, someday she might become more social. I dreamed, hoped, and prayed that she would find a way to enjoy other people, tolerate new experiences, love life, and tell me all her little ponderings while eating more than 5 foods. Many days, it seemed like an unattainable goal, and merely a dream.
But hope never died. We pressed on through the sometimes very dark tunnel because we knew there would be light at the end if we could hold on to hope. Life is not perfect. Aislynn is not prefect. But she is a dream come true.
NEVER would have happened 2 years ago. Now a reality...
Reading to little sis...
Hugging little sis...even though little sis is turning out to be quite the little bully...
Fireworks, loud noises...
Trying and LOVING new things...
Loving friends, being a friend.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Every night at the Fullers we embark on a journey through Aislynn's bedtime routine. It begins with a story and the extremely important choosing of a buddy.
Once upon a time when we were idiots, Andy and I lined up about 15 tiny stuffed animals on a long rainbow colored worm in Aislynn's bed as we embarked on "The Routine."
As time went on, the line up became increasingly large and insane. The "little buddies" soon required a specific order, a certain type of positioning, chaos erupted if a "buddy" fell off the worm or heaven forbid-fell on the floor!
Ever night I would think, this is insane! Why have we become slaves to this tiny little girl, the Little Einsteins, the entire Mickey Mouse Club House, Magenta, Valentine Bear, Lovey Puppy, as well as some stragglers? I couldn't take it any longer. Goofy refused to sit up straight. I never liked Goofy. I will not be Goofy's b**** any longer!
Then there was puke-LOTS of it.
One day in the town of Bloomington, Aislynn became the sickest I have ever seen her in her almost 4 years of life. She threw up intensely on 14 of the 15 buddies. It was a sad day at Mickey's Club House, particularly for Mickey. Genius finally struck when I realized that my child did not need to sleep with 15 tiny stuffed animals in a row on a large worm. Cleaning up 14 casualties from the puking incident really clarified my resolution.
So we implemented a "one buddy a night" rule when Aislynn recovered from an eternity of the flu variety show. She would be allowed to choose one special sleepover"buddy" a night. No entourage, no clubs, or gangs permitted-one lone character as a sleeping companion. I thought she would protest, I thought for sure she would fight for the WHOLE Club House. No fight, little protest, I think the causalities of the flu disturbed everyone including Aislynn.
I still shudder thinking about the implications of that flu.
Rainbow worm, may you rest in peace.
Monday, August 10, 2009
So now you know. I am truly ridiculous and thankfully married to an easy going guy who refrains from finger pointing every time I lose my ring. I made my confession, how about you?
A couple months ago, my bff sent me a message asking me if I "posted a secret." She was sure that one of the "secrets" was mine. My mind drew a blank. I hoped I didn't have any secrets floating around being posted in random locations! I clicked on the link she included in her message. It took me here. I scrolled through anonymous, postcard size images, each revealing a secret, confession, or unspoken thought. Intrigued, I briefly read post after post-or secret after secret. I scrolled through humor, regret, anger, anguish, joy, indifference, bias, happiness, excitement, etc. You name the emotion and there was a secret to go with it.
Do you know there are 12 definitions for the word "secret?" That's a whole lot of defining for a one little word. This post is not meant to analyze my secrets, your secrets, or secrets on a deeper level. I just thought you might like to get a little something off your chest in an anonymous sort of way, because everyone likes to be anonymous sometimes.
If you have a secret or unspoken thought you'd like to get off your chest just leave it as a comment on this post and click "anonymous." Maybe speaking the unspoken might just lighten your week a bit.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Over the past 2 weeks, I experienced a series of unfortunate events that pale in comparison to the events in my “one of the worst weeks ever” file, but these events were nonetheless, unfortunate.
Event Number 1: The lost ring.
If a wedding ring had nine lives, mine is on life number 5. Last week in a joyous reunion, I found my wedding ring crammed under the leg of the dresser in Isla’s room. I scooped up the ring, embraced-a beautiful moment. Before that joyous reunion, my wedding ring had gone MIA for approximately 2 weeks. Every single day I scoured a new quadrant of the house like an episode of CSI. Everyday I announced to Andy, “If I can’t find my ring I am going to go insane! Seriously, I am going to FLIP OUT.” To which he replied, “I kind of thing that already happened…” To which I replied, “Oh no, this is not flipping out, if I can’t find my ring you’ll see flipping out. Ah!!!” I think it’s safe to say that Andy too, felt extreme relief for a variety of reasons after my ring returned safely to my finger.
After the whole ordeal I reminisced about the other close calls: The time it went through the washer, the time it almost went through the washer at my in-laws’ house and fell onto the basement floor, the time I left in the GAP dressing room in December, the time it ended up in the dress up clothes courtesy of someone small, and all the times I placed it in spots I did not remember placing it.
Now I know you might be judging me right now, I would probably judge. Don’t get me wrong, I love being married. I love strolling through Target with my wedding ring properly in place as a sign of my love and commitment, and also a sign of my claim on the cute guy walking next to me. But for some reason I find it extremely difficult to complete many household tasks while wearing my ring, it’s a little loose, so I inevitably take it off and place it in a variety of semi-regular hangout spots for safe keeping…or not so safe keeping.
I wish I could promise to never lose it again. Believe me; I will TRY VERY HARD, all caps. If all else fails, I only used about 5 lives so far, so I'd say we've got 4 to go!
(More unfortunate events to come…)
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
In the spirit of "teasing," I thought I would do so about my upcoming blogging activity. Hopefully blogging tomorrow will fall somewhere after laundry, paying bills, catching up on life, and ballet class. We shall see!
So here's my tease:
Title: A series of unfortunate events...
1. Wedding ring lost (breathe) and found
2. Getting on the wrong train...out of Chicago
3. Shutting the trunk of our Saturn Vue on my face
All unfortunate. All blogworthy. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I am openly thankful and unashamed to proclaim that I won the lottery twice. I am the proud daughter of an amazing and very over the top father. Lottery win number one.
In my "husbandless" days, I wondered if I would truly find: A- the best mate to live up to my dad’s standard, and B- the best mate to be the best father to my hypothetical children. After all, my dad set the bar pretty high. Thankfully, my wandering and wondering led me to a man who is both the perfect husband for me and best father for my little girls-lottery win number two (QUITE post worthy…we’ll save that for another day...)!
When I was a little girl, I never wondered if my dad loved me. I never felt starved for attention. My dad kept a busy schedule, got up extremely early in the morning to get work done, taught overloads, and traveled to speaking engagements all over the world-literally. I was mostly oblivious to his insane work load. It never mattered how small a role I had in an “extracurricular,” my dad was there. For anything and everything I was involved in, he was front and center. Rarely were there any “schedule conflicts” because my dad would schedule right over any of his “conflicts” for me. There were even times I said, “Dad, its ok, this thing is really not important.” He would always say, “But it is important, you’re in it.”
I never once doubted that my dad valued me and anything that involved me. My dad always displayed genuine interest. My dad has listened to me ramble from one end to the other, anticipating my next word with genuine interest and response. In my younger years, I owned a long list of random extracurricular activities ranging from water polo, to student counsel, to cross country, to debate team, to choir and on. I never saw a sigh, rolled eyes, or boredom on the face of my father standing on the sideline. He enthusiastically cheered me on, no matter how beautifully I sang, or how horribly I ran. Excited, joyous, and supportive-that is how he felt about everything I did, no matter how insignificant or silly. Excited, joyous, and supported is how I felt.
Time, distance, and space have never mattered to my dad; whether I lived 2.5 hours away in Indiana, 1.5 hours away in Illinois, or 5.5 hours away in Southern Indiana. No distance has ever been too great for my dad to travel. On numerous occasions while living in Illinois, he would call to see if he could “swing by” for a bit. I never considered an hour and a half the “swinging” sort of distance, but to my dad, it was practically down the street.
One time, while living in Lafayette, the night before an important test, I found myself in a real bind. I needed to have a medical test done at 6:45 am and needed someone to watch Aislynn. My dad drove the 2.5 hours leaving home at about 2:30am to watch his granddaughter and support me. This is the example of the “over the top-ness,” for which he is well known.
The “over the top-ness” did not simply appear when cute granddaughters entered the picture. Over the top is his middle name, although he might argue it’s Robert. When I was in the 5th grade my dad read a mystery series with me, the “Mandy Books.” Every night, we read a chapter together. We made our way through quite a few books when my dad took a speaking trip to Japan for 2 plus weeks. This trip would halt our reading sessions for a while, I thought. Perfectly capable of reading to myself or displaying patience and waiting for him to return, my dad had other plans. He taped himself reading more than 14 days of chapters so that I could put in a tape each night and still have him reading with me. That is what extreme love and dedication look like.
I could go on and on about the times my dad has bent over backwards to be there for me or his granddaughters, or sacrificed time and money he didn’t have for me. I could recall his passion and deep love for me and my siblings in story after story. I could tell you about his endless love, joy, and concern for his grandchildren. In fact, I could right an entire post about my dad the amazingly over the top grandpa! But my dad would never call himself “over the top.”
My dad would never make a big deal about listening to me go on and on about my latest invention or creative idea. He would never pat himself on the back for making it to events, and games, and choir concerts when I was a child. He would never broadcast that on one particular day when all the ladies in my house were sick, he left his house in northern Illinois at 2:30 am to drive the 5 hours to Southern Indiana to “help me out” for the day, only to turn around and drive 5 hours back to his home that same night. No, my dad would never make a big deal out of any sacrifice of time, energy, money, or sleep ever made.
It’s truly not a big deal to him; it’s just being a dad. I could not have asked for a better dad in the last 364 days x 28 years.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
There’s nothing cuter than 3 year old little girls wearing leotards attempting ballet poses. Aislynn gave ballet a try this week with much enthusiasm. After a full week of talking about going to ballet class, followed by “practicing” for ballet class, the actual day of ballet class finally arrived. Fully decked out in ballet apparel a full 3 hours before class, Aislynn anxiously waited for 2:30PM to arrive (our scheduled departure time). When 2:30PM finally rolled around, she commented, “This is going to be GREAT mom!” On the drive over, I actually started to feel a little nervous, hoping this little 30 min ballet class would meet my little “ballerina-to-be’s” enthusiastic expectations.
We walked into the tiny ballet studio and met Mrs. H. “HELLO BALLET TEACHER!” Aislynn excitedly proclaimed. I am convinced Aislynn might actually be the most enthusiastic student to greet Mrs H. in her 39+ years teaching ballet. Mrs H. found some tap shoes for a grinning Aislynn to try on while waiting for the other students to arrive. 5 minutes later, 3 little girls decked out in leotards, ballet skirts, and hair bows walked into the room, immediately greeted by the newest and happiest addition to their class. Aislynn was actually entering the ballet classes 2 classes into the session and took it upon herself to make up some lost time with her fellow ballerinas. “Hi girls!” She announced vigorously waving as she approached the small cluster, “It's time for our ballet class! My name is Aislynn Rae Fuller,” then turning to me she asked, “What are all the girl’s names?” Her fellow classmates actually looked a bit surprised. I think they too, had never met such an enthusiastic little girl. I turned to the moms and said, “As you can see, she is very excited to be here.” They all smiled.
Finally the moment arrived. The tiny class of tiny ballerinas was under way. They started with a variety of body movements and marching with little tap shoes. Next, ballet shoes, some attempted leaping across the room, ballet bar, tumbling and rolling on a mat, and of course stretching. Mrs. H’s clear expertise showed, as she spent just the right amount of time on ever step to keep the girls attention. It was a jam packed 3o mins. filled with new things, unpredictables, music, concentration, interaction, and of course fun.
For me this sweet, simple 30 min ballet class represented a milestone. All the components of this day-the new faces, friends, activities, sounds, unknowns-that made it so joyous for my little life lover, would have sent her into a tailspin 1.5 years ago. Today as I attempted to tidy up and go through boxes on a search for my missing wedding ring (we’ll save that story for another day, hopefully when I am sharing how I found my missing ring), I came across a large blue binder titled, “Aislynn’s therapy notebook.” Flipping through the dense book evoked mixed emotions: Gratefulness and thankfulness realizing where we are at and how far we have come; anxiety and fear, remembering such an unpredictable and difficult time.
I remembered weeks filled with 4-5 various therapy sessions a week while caring for a very cranky, fussy baby Isla (see left, Andy working his magic on high maintenance baby Isla). I remembered exhausted, sleepless nights getting up with a newborn, wrestling with a possible autism diagnosis, and dreaming about activities I could do with Aislynn to help with her various delays. I reflected on the chaos of fear, while trying to find peace with what the future might hold. I actually felt my heart rate accelerate as I flipped open the book to the section entitled “evaluations.” I pulled out a report entitled “Initial speech language pathology report, 12/14/07.” At that time my now 3.5 year old socialite and enthusiastic lover of life, was a very different little girl.
At the time of this initial speech evaluation, Aislynn was 26 months old (see right, Aislynn 26 months playing in 10lbs of rice = sensory activity time). You can read a condensed version of Aislynn’s developmental journey here. I skimmed the report flipping to the “stats” on the last page and Aislynn’s delays laid out plainly in percentages according to the Rossetti Infant Toddler Language Scale: Pragmatics 35% delay, Gesture 23% delay, play 35% delay, language comprehension 15% delay, language expression 12% delay. This evaluation only dealt with language and socialization. We also had issues in the area of nutrition, feeding, sensory, and occupational therapy.
At that point in time-where I am standing right now-was nowhere close to being a reality, only a hope and a dream. Back then, it was in my moments of optimism, hope, faith, belief, and pleading with God that I saw glimpses of playdates instead of solitary play, joyful greetings instead of tantrums and refusing to say hello to others, and conversations laughing and talking instead of scripted and literal speech. It was in my most hopeful times that I dreamed someday my little girl might go to ballet class with other little girls and laugh, smile, and pose. Answers.com defines hope, “to wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment.” Today I am fulfilled.
This is the first "YOU CAPTURE" for me. After browsing blogs, I came across "I should be folding laundry" and thought, "How Ironic? I actually SHOULD be folding laundry right now!"
So here is my attempt to capture in a photo, the challenge word: EMOTION
I have 2 energetic excited, and emotional little girls. Yea...really looking forward to the teen years with these 2.
I love candids. Here's Isla (18months) "talking" to Grandpa, well...listening. He is very animated!
EMOTION: SURPRISE! (Grandpa must be funny) :)
Here's Aislynn, my little reader. I love taking pictures of her reading and watching her little facial expressions.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
You can look back at the meeting I am referring to in greater detail, but here are a few “Cliff’s notes” for those who are feeling a little lazy. In my second week as a Bloomington resident I met a mom at the children’s museum. The minute I saw her, I thought “she needs one of my baby carriers.” In one hand she held a very young baby, holding her other hand was a 3 year old little girl with very fine hair and an incision scar on the back of her head. This little girl was receiving proton therapy for her brain cancer here in Bloomington. She was 5 hours from home, and calling Bloomington her “home” for the next 2.5 months. The mom noticed a carrier I was wearing and we struck up a conversation, I gave the mom my number and waited. She called, we talked, we played phone tag, time passed, and we talked some more. She was very interested in trying out a particular carrier I make. Before a conversation involving cost and payment arose, I told her something I had wanted to say for weeks as I waited for the right time to say it. I said, “I just want you to know that I am making you a carrier as a gift. I don’t want you to feel weird, but the minute I saw you I felt like it was the right thing to do. I saw you had a little baby and a little girl with a scar on the back of her head, and I imagined that meant you were experiencing something huge. I cannot even begin to imagine all you are going through, but I can make baby carriers, and if I can do this small thing for you that can at least provide you some help and relief and freedom, then it is what I should do. I know we barely know each other, but we are both moms who love our children and we have that in common.” This warrior of a mom thanked me, and we set up a meeting just 3 short days before she would return home to Chicago.
I loaded up my special carrier, probably the most significant carrier I have pieced together, along with Miss Congeniality otherwise known as my sweet 3 year old, Aislynn. There was a time she would have won the Miss UN-Congeniality award. I never would have dreamed a year and a half ago when an autism diagnosis was a possibility, that this little girl would become one of the most congenial children I know. If you look at my previous posts about Aislynn you will see what I mean. With great enthusiasm, Aislynn accompanied me to “play with a new friend with fun toys,” in her words. We met at Jill’s House, a place where many families stay while receiving treatment. The little girl and her dad slowly walked down out to greet us. Immediate perspective punched me in the face. I wanted to burst into tears, but realized this family did not need my tears or pity; they needed empathy, listening ears, and a genuine heart. I sucked it up and said a warm hello. As we greeted one another, and walked inside, I followed behind Aislynn, noticing my own little girl’s long hair swaying back and forth with bows on the back of her head, walking next to a sweet little girl, her same age with very fine hair and a large incision scar on the back of her head. Cancer on its own is not acceptable. Cancer in a child is absolutely and completely unacceptable.
It was love at first carry. We put baby brother in his new cozy carrier while the girls played their version of go fish, completed synchronized puzzles, and shared chocolate milk. We visited and talked. I listened and tried to encourage, empathize, and get a few smiles and laughs in there. It’s a fine line to walk between genuine care and concern and prying; between not acknowledging the obvious and becoming fixated on the obvious. I have come to believe there is no ultimate right answer for how to interact with someone experiencing something huge. I do know listening, sensitivity and intuition help. For the finale of our little meet up, the girls took turns riding the tricycle down the long dormitory hallway. We said goodbye and planned on meeting the next night for our little friend’s going away party.
On the drive home I tried to process what a reality that involved fighting your own child’s cancer would feel like. My heart ached as I imagined that reality. I attempted to wrap my mind around a child enduring a hardship, a battle to live, that most people will never know. I replayed the evening in my mind and felt amazingly peaceful and passionate about my involvement with this family. I felt love, compassion and empathy for this little girl. I felt purpose.
We returned for the going away party the next night. We greeted the guest of honor as Aislynn announced, “I’m so happy to see you!” I felt proud and regretful all at once; proud that my little girl showed such genuine joy, regretful that I had not done more. I started thinking, “If only I would have called her more…if only I would have asked them to come over to play sooner…I should have brought them dinner…” I found my thoughts quickly interrupted as a balled up piece of gift wrap landed on my arm. A spunky little boy shyly apologized at the immediate scolding from his mother. I looked at this energetic little boy and noticed the band around his arm. I looked over at his slightly embarrassed mom and noticed the weariness. The regret I was feeling immediately vanished as I felt a new purpose.
I started to piece this situation together and asked this new mom flat out, “Are you staying at Jill’s House?” The response was as I expected. We continued our conversation, and I learned the little boy full of life and energy, attempting to break dance, was being treated for brain cancer. She would stay in Bloomington with her son while he received 22 treatments. The rest of her family, were back home in Tennessee. I then learned we were both married, we both had children the exact same age too. She had a little boy the same age as my Isla at home, and the little boy in front of me shared the same birthday week as Aislynn. My purpose was to be a friend to this new mom as I said goodbye to another mom where my purpose had been filled. I am learning about action. Making a difference, being a friend, doing something real and meaningful requires action. When someone is drowning, a good lifeguard doesn’t wait for the person drowning to swim to shore to be saved; the lifeguard dives into the water and carries them out. I by no means am "saving" anyone, I am just trying to be available and aware. As we became better acquainted, I volunteered my digits to my new found friend, which she quickly accepted.
The celebration continued full of pizza, presents, bean bag dancing, and swing set time. After Aislynn was thoroughly exhausted (although she would never admit it), we had to say our goodbyes filled with meaningful hugs. I felt an extreme mix of emotions, it was indeed bittersweet. Before we got in our car, the little guest of honor turned to her dad and asked, “Daddy, when we get back to Chicago can we come back and see Aislynn?” He quickly responded, “Of course.” As I shut my car door I immediately said a pleading prayer to God that we would see our little friend again, and that she would enjoy many, many more years of life supported by a family so clearly bursting with love for one another.
Once again, I started to process. I felt aware, where I was once unaware. It is impossible to un-see something once you have seen it. For me, I could not un-see this reality that these families faced. Filled with emotion, sadness, fear, passion, questions-I realized my new found friends lived these emotions multiplied times 100 every single day as they fought for the lives of their children. I thought about these moms. As I meet more and more amazing moms, I continue to conclude that mothers are amazing warriors. These moms fought passionately for their children to experience childhood and more. I am not done processing; I am not done gaining perspective. I feel passionate about the days to come with my new friend. Aislynn has already determined that she will play pirates with her new friend when he comes over to our house. I would not be honest if I did not tell you that I am a little scared. I But fear can’t get in the way of purpose.
There are so many factors about this situation that make it intriguing to me: The fact that I met two moms each with a child my own daughter’s age, both in need of a true friend. The fact that I on a whim, I took my girls to the museum 2 and a half months ago and met a stranger. The fact that the first mom, led me to the second mom. I could make a very long list of factors that you might find interesting. Some people might call it fate, or destiny, or a strange coincidence. But I don’t believe in any of those things, I believe in purpose.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
When Isla launched her bowl of pears across the room, WHY did it have to land all over the wall, ceiling, couch, floor, vacuum cleaner, carpet, and table. SERIOUSLY! That was ridiculous.
WHY did Isla launch pears across the room today in the first place?
WHY do the ants return, even after I have killed the queen! (according to the ant trap box, which guarantees a dead queen within 24 hours and a dead ant population).
WHY can't John and Kate just suck it up and fight for their marriage?
WHY can't Kate get that big chunk of hair trimmed?
WHY do I have such a disdain for my own foot maintenance?
WHY is my husband so hot? (no complaints!)
WHY do I seriously have idea ADD?
WHY do people become obsessed with facebook applications?
WHY can't I ever be neighbors with this girl again?
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Almost 10 years ago...when umbros and tie die were in (Disclaimer: We were playing powder puff football)!
Just to clarify. This post is dedicated to my BFF on her birthday...well, 5 days late. People write Eulogies when loved ones pass, so I thought, why not write a "birthology" and say a little something about our special person's life while she is alive and can actually enjoy hearing how great she is! Happy Birthday Ang, thanks for being born.
I was born on October 15, 1980. Seven months and 3 days later, my non-biological twin entered the world 2 states away. Though this story possesses the qualities of a Lifetime movie, it is completely and entirely 100% true.
Almost 9 years ago in August of 1999, I was standing on the 3rd floor of Shupe Hall-room 314 to be exact. I was wearing a navy blue tank top from JC Pennys and a khaki pair of shorts (that laced up the front-hot). Angie Marie Mabry strolled into the room sporting a short pair of blue jean shorts, and yellow Tommy tank accompanied by one ridiculous high school boyfriend. We spent an enter day perfecting the arrangement of our room (mostly due to my OCD room organizing affliction where I need to see 45 ways to arrange a room before picking the perfect arrangement of furniture for optimal space maximization). We stayed up obscenely late our first night together, cutting out colored stars to tape around the perimeter of our room and swapping life stories…well, 18 years of life thus far. If it was not obvious from our matching pajama pants, staying up late tendencies, similar music taste, rice loving ways that we would be BFFs; it was blaringly obvious when we both overslept during freshman orientation and missed a mandatory freshman test. We never made up the test and still managed to graduate.
48 hours into freshman orientation, everyone instantly assumed we were childhood best friends, that we grew up on the same street, shared birthday parties, and graduated from the same high school. Jaws literally dropped, and eye brows rose when one of us casually said, “Oh no, we were randomly paired, we just met 48 hours ago.” Actually, that was not entirely true. We did meet over a phone call when I received the name “Angela Marie Mabry” on my roommate assignment slip in the mail. We shared a little small talk while I conducted secret evaluations, checking for brand recognition by throwing out names like “Abercrombie” and “Doc Martins” into the conversation. She passed the test.
96 hours into the college freshman experience, and we co hosted our first party-a snow cone party to be exact. It was BYOI of course, “Bring your own ice.” You might say they were the ultimate freshmen mingling parties. Together, we invested about $10.00 a piece into a sweet hand crank plastic snow cone machine. It broke ½ way through one of these parties when the ice cranking got a little crazy. We actually ran out to replace the machine on the spot. We refused to disappoint our fans. When you are building a legacy, no price is too great!
2 years through college and we decided, individually, to study abroad. One might assume that best friends would travel to the same location, and buy matching “I heart ____” shirts. Since neither one of us was the “follower” in the relationship, we chose 2 completely different locations- China and Jerusalem. I tried convincing Angie to follow me to China, and she tried to convince me to follow her to Jerusalem. Being independent adventures, we decided to go our own ways. We broadened our horizons, stretched open our world views, and experienced life through different eyes.
4 months later we boarded planes, and exchanged souvenirs back on common soil. We shared culture shock, Boone’s farm, the hookah, tears, laughs, memories and stories together about our adventures.
2 years later, we graduated college (2.5 years later for me). We stood in each other’s weddings as we married college roommates, we gave each other “toasts” and pointers on marriage and all that it entails…
5 months into MY marriage (a year for Ang), and we both caught “the pregnancy.” Actually, I caught it first, and then prayed for Angie to catch it. Thankfully God answered my prayer and 3000 miles apart, we both were “expecting”-one boy for her, one girl for me. Through months of food cravings, body changes, swollen ankles, moves across town and the country, and first time mom preparation, we kept each other appraised of the play by play.
9 months later (10 for Angie), we birthed some babies V-style and so together we embarked on a journey into the hood, motherhood to be exact. Instead of taking pictures together, we now took pictures of our miniature people together. Baby O and Baby A even shared a few photographed baths together for blackmail purposes of course. We were neighbors by no means, living 2.5 hours apart, but you never would have known. Our friendship has never been one affected by mileage.
9 months flew by and Angie was surprised with round 2, growing Baby E. Although I did not catch the pregnancy quite as quickly the second time around, I caught my own surprise 9 months after that. We each birthed another baby-2 girls total-Ella, and Isla. We kicked ass going old school all the way-o-natural. No Epidurals here, C-sections not welcome.
2 days into Ella’s sweet little existence and a storm rolled in. Ella had a cleft palette, which made eating extremely difficult and near impossible. A new baby on its own can be an overwhelming experience for a mom. Throw medical issues, and a toddler at home in the mix and you’ve got a recipe for a break down. There were no breakdowns. Moms are the toughest creatures on the planet. My heart ached for my best friend as I watched her take on the unknown, stand up for her baby, and deal with hardships I had not experienced in our non-biological twin existence. Angie taught me about courage, faith, hope, and what being an advocate for your child really means. She refused to be managed or handled. She spoke up when it was necessary, kicked ass if it came to it, and refused to let any terminology, and diagnosis define her sweet little Ella. (Read more about this amazing journey and more over at Angie’s blog)
Almost 2 years later, the lessons I learned from my best friend proved immeasurably valuable when I heard the word “autism” uttered in the same sentence as my daughter’s name. With an extremely high maintenance fussy baby at home and a toddler with developmental delays, I was on the verge of my own breakdown. Bu there were no breakdowns. As I said, before, moms are truly the toughest and most resourceful creatures. After my paralysis at hearing such words wore off, I refused to let fear, ignorance, and possible denial define my decisions and so I dove head first into searching for answers for Aislynn. We scheduled our autism diagnostic and prayed. In the meantime we started developmental therapy, speech therapy, play therapy, eating therapy, and nutrition. Angie and I both lived through days and weeks filled with therapy, appointments, and quests for answers. I don’t think we both ever dreamed we’d have to wear the hardcore mother advocate hat so much in such a short amount of time.
Months passed, and it was hard. We rode our individual emotional roller coasters in the grand amusement park of life. I wanted things to be different for the both of us, for both our little girls. It was undeniably challenging but there was something slightly comforting knowing that we both knew what it meant to have 3 therapy sessions plus, a week and issues the average mom did not face.
Time passed and miracles happened. Ella proved to be just as strong willed and sassy as her mom. They said she would be blind; they said she might not hear, they said she might have major life altering challenges and never meet milestones. But they were wrong. Ella sees, she hears, and she is conquering those milestones. She doesn’t swear, but if she did I think Ella would say “Take that bitches! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!” She recently turned 2 and has been through and conquered more than most people will in a life time. She’s been through hospital stays, surgeries, therapies, and tests, all with one amazing activist and mom at her side. I have no doubt in my mind that Ella will continue to defy the odds and show everyone up. I am honored and proud to say, “Hey see that girl over there…yeah, the rock star mom with the fire cracker for a daughter, she’s my best friend.”
In March, 2008 I heard the most amazing words, “Your daughter does NOT have autism. “ Twins are supposed to share everything, even non-biological ones, so why not share some miracles. It was as if I could breathe again after holding my breath for months. Those were the words I truly in my heart wanted to hear, and I prayed I would hear, and then I heard them. Aislynn continued to receive all her developmental therapies and made great progress. She still goes to speech and has some sensory issues with food, but we have done a 180 like I only dreamed was possible.
Today I can hardly be surprised that 2 sweet and spunky littler girls with us for moms should defy all odds. I know you might be questioning if this is start of a screen play for a Lifetime movie, rest assured it is not. I cannot promise however, that you won’t see this story in a book someday coauthored by the two of us! I don’t believe in coincidence. Random things don’t just happen, and Angie and I were not randomly paired for roommates almost 10 years ago. I know what you are thinking, “Wait a minute! You said at the start of this life synopsis you were randomly matched for roommates?” But I looked up the word random: “lacking any definite plan or purpose.” It IS true that no one in the Bethel admissions office knew what they were doing when they paired the two of us. They saw we both were left handed and liked to stay up late and thought, “Why not!” I told people for years that my best friend and I were “randomly” matched for college roommates. But that’s not true. From day one to day 3,650 our friendship has never been random. It has NEVER been “lacking any definite plan or purpose.” It is the opposite of random, full of purpose.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
- A little junk in the trunk...ok. Junk spilling out of your trunk-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- Smoking 2 millimeters outside the entrance to the store I am trying to walk into with my small children-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- Taking your snotty nosed, coughing kid to the park or the Barnes and Noble to mingle with the other kids and give them bear hugs-THAT IS A BAD IDEA (at least try to keep it a secret your kid is sick).
- Licking bubbles off the floor (Isla)-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- Blue unitards for pregnant ladies-for anybody! THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- More than one patty of beef in a sandwich at any fast food establishment-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- The baby bjorn...for the most part-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- No deodorant-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- Touching a pregnant woman's belly without permission-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- Asking a woman if she is pregnant-even if she looks like she could give birth that minute-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- Touching a little babie's hand who is not your baby in the line at the store-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- Commenting on someone's weight gain-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- Using the credit card checks your credit card company sends you in the mail-THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
- Not heading my advice on all of the above items. THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I have a small garden. By "small" I mean cherry tomatoes, herbs, a pepper plant, onions (which will probably die), and purple flowers (I have no idea what they are called-serious gardener as you can see). By "garden" I mean 4 pots containing such items. So I am not particularly a BIG gardener, but in my heart I am! After a trip to the Bloomington farmers market in April, I became inspired to plant...stuff. I chose the items that had the best chance of surviving with me as the gardener and a life in a pot. I actually do not care for tomatoes one bit. I love all byproducts of tomatoes, but the tomatoes themselves, in their natural state-no thanks. I just can't get past the texture, and don't even try to give me any sort of sauce with chunky tomatoes in it. Hmm...imagine I should have a child with "food sensory" texture issues...we'll tackle that one another day, or week or month...
Even though I do not like tomatoes, per say, I optimistically dreamed I might just like cherry tomatoes if I grew them myself (no real logic there). After watching my 3 little baby cherry tomato plants grow into teen vegetable plants, I felt fulfilled and excited to see them blossom into ladies-or little sassy tomatoes. Things were great, me happy, plants growing, until a tragedy occurred in the form of AF launching (might be exaggerating) a medicine ball at my beautiful plant.
AF does a new "medicine ball" workout on the deck. He found "the ultimate medicine ball workout" in Men's Health while waiting for a prescription one day. He is on his way to becoming quite chiseled. Basically, I will be washing our clothes on his abs come mid summer. It will do wonders for our electric bill. Anyway, he does a series of "moves." You know, big circles, wood chopper, squat to press, rocky solo, toe touch, 45 degree twist, suitcase crunch, diagonal crunch, standing Russian twist, etc. The "standing Russian twist," that is where all hell broke lose! According to the swore statement by AF, while twisting like a Russian (no this is not a slur I am simply going with the given exercise name as best I can) AF was swinging his arms so passionately for the love of this "move," that he launched the 8 LB. medicine ball directly at exhibit A: My cherry tomato plant. AF claims the ball "slipped" out of his hands while twisting, thus landing in my plant, thus severing one of the cherry tomato plants, thus ending its short blossomless, tomatoeless life.
This is what I found when I happened upon the crime scene (below)
Notice the victim on the far right
After seeing this horror, I confronted AF.
Me: "What happened to my tomato plant? Did something happen when you were outside?"
AF: "Oh, is something wrong? I might have accidentally dropped the medicine ball on it. I thought it was ok though."
Me: "What! Why? How?
That's enough, we don't need to relive this anymore. But seriously ladies and gentleman, does this plant look like a plant that is "OK?" No. If a wrecking ball fell on your head would you be OK! I rest my case.
I admit, I felt sad. Other than this devastating event, my garden has thrived-or at least stayed alive, for over a month. This is a huge achievement and the longest I have kept a plant alive. Yeah...probably don't want me caring for your plants while you are away, or AF and his medicine ball for that matter!
What is the point of this story? There really isn't one. I just thought it was sort of hilarious that my husband smashed my plant with a medicine ball, seriously random. I just thought I would draw this out as long as possible, seeing that I have successful completed this goal, I can probably give it a rest. In all seriousness, AF felt horrible. He asked what he could do to make it up to me, buy me another tomato plant? I said, "No, let's keep this out of court, I'll settle for 5 grand and backrubs for a year."
MY WEDNESDAY WHYS AT 12:01 AM SHARP.
Why is Walmart like a black hole?
Why do kids NEVER (maybe once a year) sleep in?
Why am I STILL, 2 weeks later, thinking about this (See Why #7).
Why would anyone mail order a husband? I mean a wife I can see, but a husband?
Why do Eggo waffles taste so good?
Why does it seem like I barely get past the starting line in my long list of "to dos" by the end of the day?
Why do I find mom blog swearing so hilarious?
Why does the individual who shall remain nameless (because I don't know his name) who has led worship the last 2 Sundays (luck us-totally sarcastic) refuse to leave any hymn verses out? I don't even think Jesus meant us to sing ALL the verses!
Why does Chris Harrison, the host of the Bachelor/Bachelorette ALWAYS have to announce when it is the last rose? Like everyone is not already staring at that last rose. I mean seriously, how many seasons are we down now? I think we get the freakin' rose ceremony by now.
I would like to take a brief moment to dedicate this last "WHY" to hubs. AF, wherever you are (actually you re laying in bed behind me asleep while I stay up to late typing about you), know that this "WHY" is for you.
Why did hubs have to demolish my cherry tomato plant with a medicine ball? **
**Due the strangeness of this "Why," I feel it is as necessary to explain this "Why" further. See the following post.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
For today's post I have chosen to focus on the "Biblike Necklace" for the first ever installment of "That is a bad idea Thursdays."Granted, the adult bib jewelery is not the worst trend I have ever seen, and definitely not even in the same league as the trends Lindsay uncovered. My only hope as that you stumble upon this post and heed my advice before succumbing to one of these “trends” in the name of high fashion.
For the sake of full disclosure I admit that I am in no way a fashion expert and own an obscene amount of yoga pants. I confess I wore a lace up black velvet body suit in the eighth grade and there is documentation in the form of photographs of me wearing the silk shirt vest combo in my youth. I admit I wore overalls in college too. Now that we have that out in the open I would like to share with you some of my findings.
My first source for fashion guidance, Glamour Magazine. Admittedly, there were a number of helpful "Dos" and "Donts" that Glamour had to share. I wish they had chosen not to share with us trends like the "biblike necklace" and "harlem pants" (MC Hammer anyone?) trends.
1. The "Biblike Necklace." First off, any trend that starts with the word "Bib" should probably be avoided unless you are a baby. Glamour tells us that "you may think you DON'T need this trend but you DO." I am telling you, you may think you DON'T need this trend and you are right. Apparently "one of these bad boys will make your trusty old t-shirt and jeans look like a million bucks," according to Glamour. I am here to tell you that if you wear a "biblike necklace" with your trusty t-shirt and jeans you will look stupid. You will not look like a million bucks, you will look like you are half way playing adult dress up. Please DON'T wear this trend with a t shirt to pick up your kids from school. DON'T wear this trend to the grocery store with your favor t either. People will stare and not in a good way. DON'T do this.
THE BIBLIKE NECKLACE (Some recommendations from the "experts")
For $238 this beauty is all yours. (Disclaimer: If you want to wear this large necklace with an outfit that is in the 0.2% of outfits it could actual look ok with, I won't complain. Good luck finding the outfits!)
I just want you to imagine sporting this bad boy in your "trusty casual t shirt" Now unimagine it. Enough said.
A beautiful LARGE coral colored coral looking bib. Only $750.00
Why not look like the coral reef is protruding from your neck? Super comfy I am sure.
A steal! Originally $429.00! Can be yours today for $299.00 I call this Cleopatra meets Mr T.
Go and tour an Egyptian Exhibit at the museum and feel right at home.
Hey, if you're into crystals, why not buy this bad boy for $350.00?
Think of all the energy you could be sending off? Superpowers!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I love this shirt.
It says, "CALIFORNIA" all in caps.
I feel like every summer I have a t-shirt that is THE shirt of the season. The shirt that eventually ends up faded, with a bleach spot, and stains from the normal everyday life of a mommy.
The shirt eventually makes its way to the bottom drawer of the dresser transforming into a "sleep shirt."
Why do I love THIS shirt?
- I discovered it on the sale rack at Old Navy. What's not to love about a sale?
- It was marked "$6.99" which was acceptable, but rang up at $4.99. I loved it even more.
- Its a bright and cheery orange. Perfect for summer.
I wore the shirt on Thursday to a playdate at my new friend Lilli's house. She originates from California and I think she appreciated the shout out. The shirt now makes me think of new friends.
I wore the shirt the next day. Yes, I wore the exact same outfit unwashed, 2 days in a row-no shame. I wore it to honor my dear friend who is moving to California in 17 days. I think she liked my tribute. The shirt now reminds me of her.
I knew this shirt would be special when I found it on the overflowing sale rack. I even tried to find one or two more so I could share the love. The combination of the jam packed clearance items I was attempting to rifle through, and my 3 year old wildly pushing a stuffed dog in a doll stroller in circles around the sale racks (that is a story for another day) prevented me acquiring additional shirts.
I wanted to find a shirt for Michele to take on her journey to California.
I wanted to find a shirt for Angie.
The shirt made me think of how she lived in California and loved it. I thought of her birthday next week, and how this shirt would make her smile because it will be a tough birthday for her without her grandma. I'll just have to find another way to make her smile.
Basically this IS the shirt of summer. Have you found your shirt yet?
MY WEDNESDAY WHYS AT 1:00AM:
Why does anyone send their gold through the mail to “Cash4Gold?" Please tell me I am not the only one who has pondered this after this tempting commercial offer. And when you do send in your gold that turns out to be worth $1.34, do they really spend more than that in postage to mail out your “earnings”?
Why do people spend precious time, energy, and money to make beautiful creations and then post these creations on Etsy in blurry, horrible photos?
Why don’t I just call my landlord so he will come out and fix the leaky pipe underneath my sink, instead of emptying the small pool that has gathered in my collection bucket to then replace it for another collection?
Why is coffee on my mind more than water?
Why do people like Adam Lambert on American Idol so much?
Why am I so judgmental?
Why can't I stop thinking about that package of boneless, skinless chicken I trimmed last week that had 2 feathers on it?
Why do I stay up so late?
If we are in the “same boat” as moms, Why don’t more moms know we are rowing together?
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