Category Archives: family

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone – When Plans Change

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Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone – When Plans Change

Friends – I am sure that you are wondering where in the heck I have been… I haven’t posted any hilarious things that happened during the day and trust me… that was hard….. I have always been open on Facebook, so now I feel that I am at a point that I can solve the mystery (and dispel the rumors).

I am blessed to have the best husband ever. You know that one person who wants you to be happy no matter what it takes? Yea, that is the relationship we have – we want each other to be happy. So that is where this starts.

When I started working I just did whatever I needed to do to contribute and you know what? It gave me a pretty good foundation that I still use today. Denny did the same thing – he didn’t necessarily like working a machining job in the hot, hot days of summer and the cold, cold days of winter, but he was good at it, it provided for our family that we started so young (19 & 18) so he continued to do it. Everything happens for a reason, I fully believe that in my heart of hearts.

Three years ago, I absolutely LOVED my job. I loved the people I worked with, I loved the challenges it brought me, I loved that people listened to my ideas and valued them. My hubby? Not so much. He hated going to work, liked some of the people there, and then he was drafted to go to a facility three hours away to work the machines when their employees went on strike. Another reason he didn’t like his job, it took him away from his family. So, he began looking and looking at the bid board. He found a job an hour and a half away from our home. I was skeptical, I wasn’t sure if he would like it any more there, but it seemed to be right up his alley as far as job description and skills needed. Knowing how much he disliked his job, I wanted to give him the chance to be happy too. So, we moved. I had to leave my job for a lateral move. Lateral is not always bad, I wasn’t necessarily happy about it, but I learned some more things to add to my tool box of skills. Hubby liked his job, in the beginning. Sometimes in big companies they change your focus… that happened to him and he was given other things in addition to his project which weren’t in his realm of expertise and it left less time for the job he was hired for and it wasn’t what he accepted the job and move for. Now, by this point, I was working a huge transformation project that really utilized my education in organizational development. I loved it, but I realized that as time passes you forget more and more of what you were taught. It really, really called attention to that fact. I went back to school to complete my bachelor’s and master’s degrees so that I could use them to really make a career that helps make a difference in other people’s lives – by making their jobs more efficient, helping them to get their voices heard, etc. Most importantly it was taking time away from my family to do the education piece while I still worked full time. A lot of time. As I looked at what I accomplished with getting my education the hard fact was that I was still working a job that they don’t require a bachelor’s or a master’s degree for and all the informational sessions I had scheduled weren’t helping as I hadn’t gotten an interview for any of the 30 jobs I had posted for. And not like Vice President jobs either, some were a promotion, a few were lateral moves to get me in the HR door. But nothing, nada, nilch. Very disengaging when you are a hard working employee. I had to face the fact that this company that I had worked for so long for, wasn’t necessarily interested in my career future. Why would they be when I am doing management type projects at a supportive role pay? I started to feel that I had let those memories with my family go for nothing. I can’t let that happen, that has got to change. However, when you work for a Fortune 50 company:

You can’t just get a position at a consulting firm, because they want to work for your company. Additionally, you can’t go to contract/agency because they have non compete with the company as well. So, this meant that I needed to leave my company and you all already know that I did do that, so no shocker there.

Now, this epiphany wasn’t an all of the sudden realization. It happened in spurts. When we were on vacation in Florida, we just kept discussing how we hate snow, we hate the cold, cold weather, and we hate being from a state where the previous governors make your license plates. Let’s face it, Illinois is not on the top of the list of places where anyone wants to move to… but it is pretty high on the list of places people want to move from. We were in agreement about that, even before we moved from Decatur. I kept telling hubby every time it snowed this past (horrid) winter, you moved me the wrong direction, this is not right. We discussed on vacation and decided that it was time for a change. (Can you hear Peter Brady singing time for change in his squeaky voice?)

At this point, things had changed considerably any time that we made a major change in our lives:

– Alyssa is out of the house, living on her own.
– Brian just graduated high school, no more concern on what school districts we are in. This is exactly why we bought the house we did in Peoria, because of the fantastic school district!

Bottom line is that we so close to empty nesters it is not funny. We can now be a little more riskier!

Now the facts:

-The house we had in Peoria was huge. I couldn’t keep up on cleaning it.
-We hate Illinois and the terrible winter weather, taxes and such.
– Brian needs to be near a good college for his passion – television and film production. He needs guidance and an advocate.
– I wanted to really use my organizational development education and try consulting. I really liked being a part of that project it was invigorating.
– We lived north of Peoria so it was a longer distance and more out of the way for anyone to travel to visit us, so we didn’t get a lot of visitors, it was kind of lonely.

From this we decided it was time to downsize. From previous homes we have sold (4) it generally took about 60-90 days to get a contract. We would list the house for sale and decide the rest as it unfolded during the 60 -90 days. Well… of course you know the time we are counting on the 60-90 days, it sells in 48 hours to a cash buyer. Krikey!! So, now it was go time. What is next? Well, without the house payment and associated utilities to run the big monster, my income wasn’t necessary, so I put in my notice with the company. It was really, really hard to leave so many friends I had made and thoroughly enjoyed working with. But, it wasn’t fulfilling me, it was eating at me every day that I could be doing what I love, consulting, full time. It was a hard move, I still feel weird that I don’t work there any more, and I miss so many of the people I worked with, but I have been keeping busy with manual labor – I’ll explain later. This is where my mystery starts to be unraveled, so don’t quit reading yet.

Of course, you all know about my excursion to LA when Brian took the bus there unexpectedly. Let me tell you, I was a small town raised girl. I moved from mom and dad’s house in with my hubby. I don’t know real independence and the thought was completely terrifying. But you know what? I took the plane by myself, drove around LA by myself (until I picked up Brian that is) and Brian and I toured schools and called apartments to find there wasn’t anything available in his price range. We then had a heart to heart conversation about his future steps and he came back home with me. Well, our temporary home… remember we sold it!! I felt empowered, I felt like a big girl!! Never had that kind of an adventure without my hubby!! So, I am ready to sew some wild oats and get to chasing dreams!!

My hubby knew I wasn’t happy with my job position and frankly, he wasn’t really happy that I hadn’t been moved up either. He knows that I would love to work for Disney’s organizational Development department, so we built that into the plan. However, I need the job title or any consulting firm/OD position is going to be extremely difficult to obtain. He wants me to be happy and we can do this together and then we will both be happy! Thinking outside of the box, this is what we decided and where we are now:

I introduce you to DABL Consulting. While jointly owned by hubby and I, I will start the networking and obtaining work. In order to pave the path to someday working at Disney’s Org Development team, DABL is based in Orlando, Florida.

YES… we were fortunate enough to work with the moving company to store our items for a short time period while we decided where we would land and went to looking for a house to lease in Florida. Lease: Because I don’t know that DABL will be a success. I don’t know the area down here… if it works out, we have an option to purchase the house. If not, I can elect not to renew the lease. The catch is that…. We can’t afford to not have benefits and set income that the company still provides my hubby. He is still employed there and will continue to be employed there whilst I am kicking off DABL. (We have some awesome family members who are housing him near Peoria while we are in transition.) This gives him the opportunity to continue working the project that he is so passionate about – machinist training. He really loves that project.

Not only is Orlando near Disney good for me, it is also great for Brian’s education and growth. We had already decided in LA that he would live at home and complete his general education requirements, then transfer to University of Southern California where they have housing, meal plans, etc. Why didn’t I elect to have DABL in LA? LA is scary to me, it is not homey. Yes, I survived those few days, but I don’t want to do that on a long term basis and Disney’s Org Development department is based in Orlando. Orlando offers both Brian and I to be close to Disney. Additionally he has Universal, etc to look for job shadowing/intern opportunities. Oh, and I know people in Florida. I don’t know but a couple in LA and those are through Facebook. In Florida we have a couple of family members and several people I’ve met through Facebook. Not completely getting out of my comfort zone.

Now, where do we go from here? Will my hubby quit his job? Well, not right now… but, eventually, I certainly hope so… Our plan is to get DABL running so that we need BOTH of us to run it. You dig?

So, in the interim, I have driven down here, been unpacking, learning my way around, and learning how to keep my pool clean. I wanted a pool because it is so nice to get exercise in a pool when the weight of your body isn’t a factor and it is imperative I get into good physical shape to keep my MS MonSter at bay. Ain’t nobody got time for the MonSter!!

So, we are taking a risk that could be a very difficult time, yet it could be the most rewarding challenge we have ever encountered. And maybe a bit more riskier than we should’ve been… considering that we didn’t really know where we were moving when we sold our house… we were working on trying to get the DABL dream into the horizon, determining if it was a real possibility. We were able to make all of this come to a real possibility just days before we needed to be out of the house. So, the picture is about how I feel right now… I feel like I have on a brand new set of shoes and I am ready to take on the world!!

Oh, you wonder what DABL stands for? Denny, Alyssa, Brian, Lisa. Our greatest asset who’s worth cannot be measured – our family.

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PSA – Be A Parent

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PSA – Be A Parent

Attention, this is a public service announcement. I know several people in this situation just as I know several in the situation of not being able to share in their child’s lives with the other parent. Just as an FYI…. I use the word douche in this post. It was the NICEST word that I could think of… apologies if the word itself offends you. Even so, once you get to the end, I think you will agree with my choice of words and see where I could have went… I kept it PG13 with douche.

*If you are a child that missed out on opportunities with your other parent because your custodial parent had a vendetta (I know some of you as well), tell your side! If you are a parent raising a child/children solo because the other parent unexpectedly left the story (death, alien kidnapping, death serving our country, etc.) (know some of you as well) weigh in as well. And sorry, it is a long one, but it is for the kids, so….. here goes.

Children are NOT pawns for your pleasure and enjoyment to torture their other biological parent. They should not be subject of your vendetta against the other person. You should be grown up and be civil to the other person for the sake of your child/children. Be a role model, okay?

WHY: No one to blame for that person being their biological parent than you if it was consensual. At one time, you engaged in a physical relationship, whether you fell in love, were drunk, got married, didn’t know their name at the time… it doesn’t matter what that situation was, if you created a child/children out of said relationship, they are a product of… wait for it.. BOTH of you. YES, both of your DNA created this child/children. It takes two to tango and you were one of them, regardless of your intentions you made a baby. Now… if you think that you can just write that person out of their lives by being cold hearted, you are wrong. You may get away with it a little while if you are the mom, at least until the blood tests come back, but what does that really do in the grand scheme of things? If that other person WANTS to be part of their lives, LET THEM. Do you know how many kids don’t have a mother/father? For reasons other than the relationship went sour? Death, military, accidents, you name it they will NEVER know that other parent and here YOU are with a willing parent that WANTS to be part of their lives but you are playing cat and mouse on visitation, etc?? Who is really being impacted here? You? Not really because you are getting some kind of sick and twisted pleasure of putting the hurt on the other person… But get this… it doesn’t just affect that other person. If affects their families who ALSO love the child/children. AND most importantly, it affects the CHILD/CHILDREN. Even if they don’t appear to have any impact now… what are they gonna feel later when they see all these pictures and memories of gatherings past regardless of significance and they are not in them? All the person will be able to say to them is “Well, child name, it’s because your custodial parent wouldn’t let me have you during that time because it hurt me to keep you away.” Hmmm… pretty sure by that time, it could impact how they feel about YOU. Besides the fact that what goes around, comes around. If you won’t be flexible and let the other parent have the children for events in their lives that don’t fall on court ordered visitation, guess what the answer will be when YOU want them during THEIR visitation time? I am pretty sure if you are being petty… they are gonna say, “Uh, NO thank you.”

So, my service message is this… the holidays are upon us. Don’t be a DOUCHE!! Be a PARENT and a GOOD PARENT. If the other parent WANTS to be a part of your child/children’s life/lives – and I mean 100% in, not when they feel like it once every other year because that is a different kind of douche…. I mean that they REALLY care about the child/children… work out a schedule with them. BE a GROWN UP…. make good decisions that will create great childhood memories for them that are in their best interests and allows them to get to know BOTH of their parents and their families. It is NOT the child/children’s fault that you made a mistake, that you didn’t stay in love with that person. They are INNOCENT in this.. So again, don’t be a DOUCHE. Realize that you are LUCKY to have someone who didn’t have a child/children with you and leave you hanging! It doesn’t matter if they don’t pay as much child support as some other kids’ parents, or if they pay at all – maybe they can’t… Doesn’t MATTER!! A relationship is priceless and you are going to deny them that? They are the other parent and DESERVE a chance to be part of their lives. And the child/children DESERVE to have anyone that loves them/cares about them, be part of their lives… because it takes a VILLAGE to raise a child. And heaven help us, if you are being a jerk, that child/children will need a huge village to counteract your ignorance of their needs. We don’t need more people in the world that are douches like you.

Bottom Line – 1 person + 1 person sometimes equals 3 (or more!) If you are not equipped to deal with the issues that could arise if the relationship does not last… DON’T put yourself in a situation where pregnancy could happen!! USE protection.

If you still continue to be a douche, well, all I can say is… no one likes a douche. Probably not even your kids when they get older and realize what a smelly douche you are. Just sayin’. Besides, pretty sure that Santa doesn’t leave nice presents for douches. Pretty sure he poops in their stockings and their tree, and couch, driveway, cars, and pees in their milk jugs.

Both parents can’t have Christmas morning unless you get along well enough to be in the same room/house without vomiting due to your ill choices. If you can do that and share in the moment, that is awesome and high five kudos to you and your kid/kid’s other parent…. If you can’t, you are not alone, everyone has someone that they can’t stand to be around, it is just that not everyone has a child/children with that person. Relationships matter. Don’t rob your children of relationships that they were born with a right into. Be civil – it is such a better life than causing drama. Forgive and forget, everyone makes mistakes. Recognize that you both likely did stupid things and are both somewhat responsible for the relationship turning sour… and that you are both responsible for that kid/those kids!

DISCLAIMER: My parents are still married, I spent every holiday with them. I am still married to the father of my children and we spent each holiday as a family. I have seen family and friends be the recipient, and of being, the douche. It sucks either side. Don’t do that to your kids.

DISCLAIMER: I am making a general statement and aiming at children that were conceived out of consensual sex or via sperm donation clinic (after all you both chose to go that route, right?). The situation is different if it was a brutal rape type situation and there may be others I am not thinking of.

DISCLAIMER: Be a PARENT. And in that, I realize that there are some situations where this is not exactly in the child/children’s best interests… like if the other parent is a serial killer – yea.. you should probably not let them around that person and you probably should not be around the kids either.. At a minimum, you should like question your interviewing skills for potential sex partners. I mean, if you slept with a serial killer what does that say about the people you hang out with? And you lived, they didn’t kill you and they are a serial killer, so what is so wrong with you that the serial killer didn’t like, kill YOU? Are you that evil? lol. Seriously though, if you don’t think it is safe for them to be with them… have them get supervised visitation… be adult and discuss your fears and collaborate on a resolution. Give them both a chance to know each other. And being a parent means…. being involved in your child/children’s lives regardless of who their step siblings are, step parents, it doesn’t matter… Let them be part of their life!

DISCLAIMER: If you balk at the responsibility of your child/children by walking away and never contacting them again… newsflash for you… you are a douche too. And you don’t deserve time with that kid/those kids – they don’t need hurt again.

WARNING: If you are offended at this post, ‪#‎sorrynotsorry‬. I gave a heads up that I used the word douche in the beginning, so if you are offended at this post, you are probably a ‪#‎douche‬. It’s the only reason why you would be offended. No one gets pleasure out of keeping kids away from their parent to be a pain in the neck, except douches.
If you now recognize that you were a douche and your kid are now adults… all them and their other parent and apologize for being a douche. (Now, pick up the phone!)
Happy Holidays! Enjoy your family!

The Week My Son Went Missing

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The Week My Son Went Missing

So, here it is, it is Monday. Since it was my last week of work before embarking on an adventure to move my career forward in the fields of Organizational Development, I went to work and was diligently putting together standard work for all my job functions, cleanup files, plan what else needs to be done. Go to the chiropractor to get rid of severe pain between my shoulder blades, then go home and start to organize for our upcoming move. I enter the house and say hello to my Coco in the kennel and she just looks at me with a sad look…. I went to kick my shoes off and notice that the front door is cracked open…. Weird. Denny, my husband, ran to basement to check on Brian and ran back up worried because he wasn’t there and told me to check upstairs. I started freaking thinking someone came in and kidnapped him, but when I didn’t find him, his iPad, his phone, nor his clean jeans that were on the floor…. And then….. My heart skipped a beat when we called his phone and it immediately went to voice mail- it was off. Then we sent text messages to family and friends that were in central Illinois asking if they took him somewhere or heard from him…. No on both. While I called 911 and explained the situation 18 year old with Asperger’s, no government ID, no credit card, likely headed to LA unsure of how…. My husband was calling the airport and got nowhere due to the privacy act (who else thinks the HIPPA privacy act is a PITA??) (if not sure what PITA – you fill in the last word… Pain In The A**.). By this time my report was finished and I was listening for hope in my hubby’s conversation with the Amtrak station. I was hearing hope from the lady who understood his pain and worry, unfortunately it seems she didn’t know much about their system… “I see he purchased a ticket through the app via Galesburg but they wouldn’t let him on without photo ID so it was cancelled.” “Oh wait that was on August 1st, uhm, oh yup, same thing on today. You need to call Amtrak police and they can track this better and find him. Then she kept talking for like, FOREVER. So hubby handed me the number to call when it became apparent that this gal didn’t realize that he can’t call the train police when he is on the phone with her babbling about different scenarios of what he may or may not have done…. The Amtrak police were of little assistance telling me I need to file with local police.. “I just did, can help me before they get her to write it?” “No they will put out an alert and we will respond to that”. To me this was, “I’m really busy playing candy crush, about to beat level 141, and I don’t have time for your missing 18-year-old and I really need fired.” So I hung up and hubby STILL on the phone with the lady at Amtrak. He told her we called and they wouldn’t do anything. She then, bless her heart, asked Jason (last name unknown) to check the train and report back. Well, apparently Jason was busy reviewing what’s for sale in online Facebook groups because he NEVER reported back. Ever, even when the police called-stellar job performance dude. So, the police show up two officers. They search the house and didn’t find him. They ask questions about why we were concerned and then call their commanding officer to confirm we have an endangered missing person. Then, more police showed up… just a few….

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(Side note: if you have anyone that’s over 18, but they have medical issues- like autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, you do NOT need to wait 48 hours to call police and file a report because they are missing and ENDANGERED. You MUST use the word endangered, and so read on to learn what that lil word does- one word, HUGE response.)

Anyhow, one officer was looking at his Facebook account for clues-recently added people on his laptop that was left behind, because he’s always logged in and likely didn’t take it because it is SLOW as crap, but we made do. I looked to see if I could get lucky to get into his email account but no such luck. One asked command to ping his phone no luck. They then asked for phone records for activity. While the other officer and I called people on his recently contacted numbers through our AT&T Billing, unfortunately it lacked the most recent 24 hours. (Side note: Sorry to the two friends who we freaked out a little!). While this was happening, within 15 minutes three more officers, including their commanding officer, came to the house. The new policeman asked me if I could get into his email account or “find my iPhone” account. I told him I didn’t know the password. He asked if I could guess it. Then I thought of when Brian and I met my friend Jennifer at McDonald’s and he went to check his Facebook and was seriously typing for a minute straight. He takes passwords seriously.

So our kitchen became command central. Each officer was calling a different entity. One officer thought of taxis and asked if we had a phone book. We actually had just gotten one the week before. He looked through a few seconds, then asked, “I know I’m not old school, but what would taxis be listed under in the yellow pages?” I laughed because I asked on Facebook several weeks ago who still used the book. So he found it and started calling. No luck. They contacted Amtrak to get ahold of Jason, who was busy looking for Brian and would tell him to call back. It’s amazing to me that the response to the police on the phone was little to no response. They contacted the bus station, no luck. So they decided to go out and canvas the area. Jason…. Must have gotten lost or something because he NEVER called back.

By then it was 8:00 pm and it was just Dennis and I. While I was freaking out, he was hacking his email account. He had helped him set it up, so our email was the back up for lost passwords. Boom we were into the mail. Not much in the inbox, but found a reservation for a taxi he used to get to the bus station. We called the officer and advised. A little bit later, an hour or so, the officer called back and advised that the people at the bus station remarried Brian. He came in and was holding the door for people and talking to them. (Is it bad that at this point I was extremely proud of him for being helpful?!) He continued on to say they were working on confirming that he was on the bus and would keep me updated. At about 11:00 he called back and said that he is confident he is on the bus and is working with St Louis greyhound and local police to assist. Although with the riots in St Louis he wasn’t sure how much help from officers he could get. He asked what they should do if it is him, do we have court docs indicating he can’t live on his own? I know so many recommended guardianship and I’ll explain in a bit why I didn’t do that. The officer and I discussed options and ultimately, I didn’t want them to detain him because he is 18, obviously determined and if forced to return he would likely just run again… I don’t want to do that because it would just frustrate him more. He said he likely couldn’t detain him anyways. I told him my concern was that (1) he was SAFE, (2) that we could contact him, and (3) through contact find out what he has lined up when arriving at LA. So they found him on the bus and ensured he was safe and recommended he turn his phone ON and contact us. Which he did and he kept in contact with us via text. We talked about what next? Would we come to LA? Would we let him find out himself? Could someone local meet him? We decided to have a local meet him so that he had some autonomy. At about 2:00 am Tuesday I went to sleep, then got up at 5:00 am to get ready for work. I’m one of those people that will drive myself insane if I don’t have something else to focus on. While I worked, my husband stayed home keeping in contact with Brian. My boss told me any flexibility I need to handle this, just do it. And I thought about it, but Brian didn’t arrive in LA until 330 pm Wednesday, so I had soak time. It wasn’t until I spoke with my other boss (Yeah, I have two…) Anyhow, he called me to talk to him. Not about meetings needed, or anything regarding work. Just to specifically ensure I was ok and if I needed anything. I told him I was ok, besides the fact that I had minimal make up on (foundation only) and frankly I had done my hair better to scrub toilets, I was ok and would feel much better when he got to LA and I knew he had a residence (not a shelter, group home) and was ok. Then he said something that flipped a switch. “You should be on a plane to LA. It’s not a good place for him to be alone. Don’t be sorry later.” Sorry, meaning my son is permanently missing or killed…. Then I got to my desk and texted Denny. “I’m going to la if you don’t.” He searched options, I searched options, and I left work because there was a 6:00 pm flight out. It was 2:30 pm and I realized when I got home I needed to pack, grab essentials Brian would need (SS card, birth certificate) and would surely forget something if I rushed/ you know…. like my clothes. Important stuff. There was a 6:00 am flight and I booked it. I told my hubby I didn’t care how much it cost because I would pawn everything so that I know he is safe- I didn’t want to call Melanie Schelling, my insurance agent to collect life insurance.

I have never flown before alone, or driven in a humongous city like LA before… I won’t even drive in Chicago. :). So for me this was a new thing. I admit it, I was a little scared traveling alone, but had to keep my mind on the prize!! Not only was I afraid of just the travel, but also the fact that my flights could get delayed or cancelled them I would miss his bus!
So if you know me… Ya know, I don’t like getting up early, early and being somewhere before like 7:00 am but I do what I need to do for the things I’m passionate about. (So all you Decatur Cat folks that saw me at the plant digging around in a cooler for your choice of soda… Know that it’s because I love you all!!

And my hubby was on third shift for 9 years and I know he felt like the line ranger as far as things happening on his shift. Besides we had a fun time-serving dinners to ya!). So anyways, I set my alarm for 3:00 am. I got ready and while doing so, made sure I had everything we might need (SSN card, birth certificate, etc.). We got to the airport with NO time to spare, at 5:15 for a 6:00 am flight. Thank heavens for small airports and speedy processing, despite a change of security check in guards that delayed the line from moving for 10 minutes. Luckily, I had my shoes tied loosely, no belt, all my liquids in my carry on (no checked bags), boarding passes printed and license ready. So I made it… Now for a brisk walk to the gate, which for a small airport seemed like F.O.R.E.V.E.R. Away. But I made it, even got there before they started boarding. Yay!!

I have never flown before alone, or driven in a humongous city like LA before… I won’t even drive in Chicago. :). So for me this was new thing. I admit it, I was a little scared traveling alone, but had to keep my mind on the prize!! Not only was I afraid of just the travel, but also the fact that my flights could get delayed or cancelled them, I would miss his bus!

So if you know me… You know, I don’t like getting up early and being somewhere before like 7:00 am but I do what I need to do for the things I’m passionate about. (So all you Decatur Cat folks that saw me at the plant digging around in a cooler for your choice of soda at 3:00 a.m…. Know that it’s because I love you all!! ☺ Besides that my hubby was on third shift for 9 years and I know he felt like the lone ranger as far as things happening on his shift. Besides we had a fun time with ya!). So anyways, I set my alarm for 3:00 am. I got ready and while doing so, made sure I had everything we might need (SSN card, birth certificate, etc.). We got to the airport with NO time to spare, at 5:15 for a 6:00 am flight. Thank heavens for small airports and speedy processing, despite a change of security check in guards that delayed the line from moving for 10 minutes. Luckily, I had my shoes tied loosely, no belt, and all my liquids in my carry on (no checked bags), boarding passes printed and license ready. So I made it… Now for a brisk walk to the gate, which for a small airport seemed like F.O.R.E.V.E.R. away. But I made it. In fact, I even got there before they started boarding. Yay!!

So on my flight from O’Hare to Los Angeles, it went really smooth and I got WIFI! So since we have iPhones, I could text back and forth with Brian and hubby! I kept up to date on where the bus was in relation to my arrival time. My hubby was pinging Brian’s phone/ipad with the Find My Phone app through iCloud. If you have apple products and haven’t activated that app… do it. Now, we had originally told Brian we would find someone to meet him off the bus. It WAS the original intention but, after talking with my boss… I decided… Ya know what? It’s gonna be ME!! When you want something done and you kept up to date, it is best to do it yourself. Besides, I couldn’t inconvenience any of my people in Cali. Please note that it was not my intention to drag him back to Illinois, it was to help him set up shop in Los Angeles. If not, help him determine the next steps. However, since he ran away, I didn’t want to post that on Facebook because I was afraid he’d dart and get on a different bus. I know a lot of Facebook people thought I was crazy for not going… but I couldn’t let the cat out of the bag. When he asked if we found someone, I texted him and told him that “I have two prospects – one will definitely be there on Wednesday. You’ll recognize either from Facebook, I told them to wear a purple shirt, so they will and will call out your name. They both have your pic. :). Where are you at now?” So you can see that I kind of avoided the question. Ha! I really wanted to say… “My plane is above your bus! Wave!” But I didn’t. So we chatted back and forth a bit, and again he asked “Who’s gonna meet me at the downtown LA greyhound station?” I responded “Leslie”. Then he asked “Leslie who?” And I tried to step dance around answering it. Luckily I had to put the phone away because my plane landed and needed to pick up my car, or I should say figure out how to get my car! I found the shuttle bus, got my car and trusted Siri to direct me to the bus station. I made it, Siri didn’t let me down for once. Then after taking in the scenery around the bus station, I checked my messages and responded. “Sorry was on the phone. She’s in a maroon Nissan Maxima, wearing a purple shirt & jean shorts. What’s your location now?” He was still about an hour out… and let me tell ya, I thanked my lucky stars I flew out because that area was rather scary. I was happy he arrived at 3:30 pm, in the daylight… Homeless people sleeping all along the road, in parks, under bridges and when there wasn’t a person there, their shopping carts full of ‘prizes’ were left. The buildings had bars on all the windows and quite a group of people to watch. I saw this one gal that was rather chubby, wearing what appeared to be a tube top… as a dress. I mean for real… She was well endowed on the front and the rear. If she would’ve breathed in heavy, she would have lost both loads. I should have taken a picture, but I didn’t to protect her identity. There was a security guard posted right by my car so I stayed there as long as I could. While I waited I called several autism resources in LA to see if they can assist Brian in either talking out a better plan or helping find housing. One of them I left a message and the others needed an address within LA in order to provide services. I found this rather odd, as if I am seeking out housing, I don’t have an address.

At about 45 minutes till arrival, I went inside the bus station. Denny was pinging his iPhone and updating me on his location periodically. This feature came in handy because at one point, I asked, “Do I have time to pee??” He said yes, and I went! So when I finished with that necessity, I waited for the bus. LA IMG_6234It seemed like I waited…..and waited…. Then I started to worry I was at the wrong station, so to calm myself, I asked the lady at the counter if this was where route 1351 would arrive and if they were delayed. She told me she had no clue what route 1351 was….. So aggravating as later I found a board. They have one arriving daily…. Argh, good help is so hard to find. That’s ok, because I looked outside and realized, my wait was over, as the bus arrived!! I photographed the bus arriving and posted to Facebook so all my friends would know… Mom to the rescue!! So many were worried, so many had shared our missing picture and status and those that also shared it, who didn’t know us, were afraid for him. Since the original posting of the missing persons status, I had all my status updates as public. I know there have been times I have shared a status and you don’t know what ever happened – did they find them? So I wanted to be fairly transparent – except in telling everyone I was going to LA to meet his bus. That I had to keep a secret.

Since it seemed like it took forever to see him get off the bus, I will tell you why I never went to get guardianship for my son. I am a firm believer that labels create limits. I have always told my kids that they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up and I hoped that they would believe it too. When you have doubts, you can be your own worst enemy, keeping you from reaching your true potential. I was afraid of getting guardianship because I didn’t want Brian to think that I didn’t believe in him. Do I believe he can live on his own? Most definitely. Do I think he is ready now? No. I also know that he inherited my, what some would call stubbornness, while others would call it determination, goal oriented. What he wants he is going to go after and if someone tells him he can’t he is just going to show you otherwise!! Which in most cases, I would be so proud of him for being that way – independent. However, at this time, I knew he didn’t have a plan when he arrived as far as living accommodations and without a government issued picture ID and credit card, he wasn’t going to be able to obtain a hotel room, forcing him to sleep in a shelter or the streets. While I want him to learn about life, I don’t want him to learn about it in such negative ways that it scares the begeezus out of him. Remember he held the doors open for people? He is a kind person and I didn’t want someone to take advantage of that. Remember he had some cash on his person… So, in summary, I didn’t want to label him as needing a guardian. I think as parents we are always guardians, it’s our job to help teach them the ways of the world no matter what age they are. Labels can cause limits and I don’t want either of my kids to think that they have a limit to their potential… because they don’t. And, if you have teenagers, with Asperger’s or not, and lived with them when they are mad at you, because they aren’t getting their way… it’s not a happy environment! I want a happy home, not a hostile one.

So, it probably took about that long as Brian was looking at all the bags, went back on the bus to see if his bag was there, but he came in with only his back pack. I started to worry about what his reaction would be when he saw me. Would he be mad? Throw a tantrum and run? Would he hug me? Or would he just say “hi”. As he walked in, the guy was telling him where to go to check for it. He was looking around, without his glasses on I am sure everyone was a little blurry.

LA IMG_6240So, I called his name, and he walked up to me and realized it was me, he said, “Mom?!! How’d you get here so fast?!” And gave me a hug! Then I told him I flew because I wasn’t going to let him be alone in LA. ✈ I asked him if he missed me and he said yes, but he was just so shocked to see me!

So, first things first… LA IMG_6241
we took a selfie in the bus station to post on Facebook for all those that have been looking, praying and following knew he was in good hands. I looked terrible after traveling all day and getting up before the roosters, but I posted it anyways because I was so happy that he was happy to see me!! Then we went to the counter to check on his luggage, it was not there, but they have buses at 730 pm, 9:30 pm and 10:30 pm. They would call if it came in. (I had no plans of going there after dark!!) I told him we would see what we could find in the line of clothing if they did not find it by the next day. But first, we should go and check out LACC and see if we can get the assessment testing completed. The school was relatively clean and seemed to be on a nice street, and it was open. (The show “The Community” was filmed here.)

We went to the counseling office to speak to a counselor on what classes to sign up or, etc. They asked for his student ID, which surprisingly he didn’t have memorized. We needed that in order to speak with a counselor. They directed us to the kiosk and if that didn’t work, to the admissions office to retrieve it. We tried the kiosk but it was not helpful so we headed to the admissions office. The guy behind the window said that he didn’t give those, that we would need to go to room 105. As we headed to room 105, I saw room 101, 103, but no 105. So, we just went into 103, which was the assessment office. The gentleman was apologetic as he directed us to the admissions window for the number. I told him we had just come from there, but since we were here, we needed to take the assessments and could Brian do that today after retrieving his student ID number? He said that he didn’t have any openings until the 20th of August and that they fill up FAST. I had called previously on the assessments and while they didn’t have to be taken at LACC, they could be taken at any community college in California… just not in Illinois. So I didn’t get too upset since I knew we had alternative options. So, we headed back to the window, where the guy told us room 105… I told him that they sent us here, we have a number and we just didn’t know it. To which Brian handed his high school student ID and received the number. We then went to the counselor’s office, which closed at 6:00 and it was about 5:30. Luckily someone was able to speak with us and told Brian if he was planning to transfer to University of Southern California they liked A’s and gave the list of general ed classes needed along with the film and cinema program courses. She also explained the costs of tuition – in state vs. out-of-state and that he needed to establish a residence as soon as possible. I told her that was next on the agenda. She also directed us to the financial aid office that we should go into the courtyard, turn between those two buildings and then there are bungalows on the right, one is financial aid, the other is student services to discuss Brian’s IEP. As we walked to the first turn, Brian said that he was tired and I agreed, “me too.” He said he didn’t sleep for the last two days on the bus and asked what time I got up. I told him 3:00 a.m. and he said, “Oh my gosh, what?” I said, “Yes, I got up at 3:00 a.m. to get to a 6:00 a.m. flight to LA so that I wouldn’t miss your bus arriving. See how much I love you?” To which he responded, “I am starting to see that, yes.” Well, by this time we had turned the corner and I saw buildings for Radiology Technology and other things, but not the financial aid or student services building. Since it was nearing 6:00, I told Brian, let’s just come back tomorrow after we have gotten some rest and can maybe find the building? He agreed, so we left for the hotel. He did ask me if I wanted to see some sights that we didn’t get a chance to see when we were out here on vacation several years ago, like the La Brea Tarpits or the Santa Monica Beach? I told him we could do that if we got his apartment, college classes and job secure because that is what I was out there for.

We checked in and walked up to the room to find that the key cards they gave us didn’t work. So, we went back downstairs… and they gave us new keys. We went to the 8th floor and this time, they worked! Brian said he needed nail clippers and I said he needed a shirt that wasn’t able to stand on its own. There was a Walgreens caddy cornered from the hotel, so we went on an adventure. We got the clippers, a California t-shirt, some breakfast bars and chocolate milks to drink. Then we decided to walk a few doors down to Chipolte to grab dinner and return to the hotel to relax/rest. We got to the room to find that they didn’t have a fridge in the room. So, we just drank our chocolate milk like dessert. That was pretty much it for that day.

Tuesday morning I wake up rather early in California time, about 4:30 a.m. – it would be 6:30 a.m. in Illinois. So, I got up and got ready, then woke Brian up so we could go looking for apartments. First he tried calling Greyhound to see if they had his luggage, but kept getting a busy signal. Brian found two different studio apartments that he felt he could afford and would be relatively close proximity to LACC. We started by calling them. The first one, the landlord answered and said that he had no vacancies, but to check back at the end of the month and he may have some once he knows who gives their 30-day notices. I thanked him and called the next apartment. I got a message machine, left our name and number and what we were looking for. Then we started looking at other options. I looked up the second apartment on a review sight and told Brian it said that they intermittently shut off the water during the day with no notice, the electricity goes out often and that there was a considerable amount of gang violence. He said we could mark that apartment off the list then (the landlord never called back anyhow.) Brian found another studio, so I dialed it up. Lucas answered and was very helpful. He said he didn’t have any studios, but did have a one bedroom that rented for $2,900 a month. I told him that was a bit out of Brian’s budget (about $2,400 over). He looked at sister properties but they were all higher rent than what he offered. Then he gave us two great websites to use. The websites sorted by price and I started with the lowest and called about 15 different entries. Out of those 15, 12 had disconnected numbers. I told Brian that I was kind of concerned if they couldn’t keep their phone on! Two of them I left a message and the last one there was not a message machine – so it was crossed off the list. If I can’t get ahold of you to rent, how much better will it be when I have an issue in my apartment?? Then the person from the autism resource center that I had left a message for called me back. She was very helpful without being helpful. Again, since he didn’t have an address, she couldn’t help him because they serve by address and that it would take 120 days for intake to determine services needed, etc. I asked if she had apartments that would be a good fit for Brian but she said she did not. Once he establishes a residence, they can start the intake process and will offer life skills, budgeting assistance, provide student advocacy – all of which will be important for Brian starting out on his own states away from his family. So, we will keep that information for when Brian does go to LA. At this point, I had given up on apartments, but thought, a call to University of Southern California might be a place to try – if nothing we could get the assessments taken maybe?

This conversation was one of the most pivotal turning points. While they had no counselors on site (they just finished summer semester and everyone was on break until fall began) she said she could try to help me. Essentially I told her that Brian wanted to go to LACC, then transfer to USC and what would be the best classes to take, is there a documented transfer student plan, etc? She told us that USC really prefers that their students for the film and cinema production only take their general education requirements then transfer. They do not want them to take the film classes because they will not get credit for the class itself, only for the credits the class was worth. So, any film classes he would take at LACC would not credit him with film classes at USC, meaning he would have to take all the film and cinema classes over … again. At this point, I told Brian that a residence wasn’t in our cards for the day and I could not leave him to be on his own without a place to stay. Based on that, I looked at how much USC was a year (Wowza… $60k), how much LACC was a semester and housing. Then I drew up the cost picture for Brian. Since he wants to attend University of Southern California, I left it out of the picture:

Attending LACC (no campus housing)
In State fees $46/credit hour
Out of State fees $246/credit hour

Typical full time is 12 credit hours a semester – 12 times 2 = 24
Best case – say he has In State fees at $46/hour 24 x $46= $1104.00
Books $1500.00
Apartment – $500/mo. (best case) 24 x $500= $12,000.00
Food – $100/wk x 104 wks (2 years) $100×104= $10,400.00
$25,400.00

*He would have to work close to full time to pay his rent, tuition, and food bills.
*He needs to keep in mind he HAS to get A’s and B’s to enter USC
(Even once you enter USC, if you get a C, or below… you are dropped
from the program.)
*Mom and Dad cannot pick up costs, it is all on his pocketbook.

Alternative – take General Ed classes and live with mom and dad:

Tuition Mom and Dad pay $0
Books Mom and Dad pay $0
Housing – lives with mom and dad Mom and Dad pay $0
Food Mom and Dad pay $0

*Time – he wouldn’t have to work full-time, could work part-time if wanted. *Allows more time to focus on homework and get A’s and B’s.
*Saves him $25,400 minimum.
*Mom and Dad pay for ticket back home
*When general ed is done and accepted to USC, we will pay for his ticket out there and travel with him to get him settled.

He wasn’t enthused that it wasn’t working out in LA for him to stay, and it sucked to see him disappointed…. but he agreed that scenario two was the most cost-effective for him and agreed for me to book his ticket back with me. We did agree on a “to do” list for the day we had in LA:

-Go by Greyhound to see if they have his luggage
-Drive by first apartment building Brian found, observe area.
-Drive by second apartment building mom found, observe area.
-Visit Griffith Observatory
-Visit the La Brea Tarpits
-Eat at Yogurt Land
-Eat at Buca di Beppo
-Go to Santa Monica Beach if time
-Meet up with my fantastic scriptwriter friend

So the first order of business was to go to Greyhound. Low and behold, they DID have his luggage!! This saved us a bunch of shopping, as all his jeans were in the case and 29×34 are HARD to find on the shelves!

Drove by the first apartment, it looked like a possibility, as did the second. Then we drove towards Griffith Observatory…. I was not prepared for this drive up Mt. Hollywood…. I got sort of dizzy at the top and we couldn’t find a parking spot for anything so I begged Brian if we could just go to the tar pits. Reluctantly he agreed and I was relieved to be on regular roadways. The tar pits were neat and they really did smell like hot tar.

We took a few photos there, then headed out for Yogurt Land. After we left Yogurt Land, my scriptwriter friend, Lisa called us. She couldn’t meet us for dinner at Buca di Beppos, but did have a conversation on what Brian should do to break into the business. He will start looking at internships in the spring.

Then we took off for the Santa Monica Beach and to eat at Buca di Beppo, where the stars are seen eating at times.

Well, we didn’t see any stars at Buca di Beppo, but we ate a dish of cheese ravioli with meat sauce and headed out to the pier. We walked the pier, then walked the beach, then returned to the hotel and began preparations for our departure the next morning at 7:00 a.m. While this trip did not occur in a manner that I would have preferred, we did have some fun together after working to find a place for Brian to live. And he is still going to go to LA, it is just a matter of when. Brian says 5 months, but I don’t think he will get the general ed classes completed in that amount of time. I told him if he gets all the general ed classes done while living with us, going to internships in LA during the summers, when he transfers to USC, he will have housing there, food there and it will be an easier transition.

While we were in LA, I asked Brian if he remembered how he felt when he went out to feed the dogs and bring them in the garage because it started to snow and Beau was missing and he couldn’t find him before he got on the bus? He did. Told him that was how his dad and I felt when we came home and he was gone, times 100 at least and then we couldn’t reach him on his phone. I asked him to promise never to do that again. All I can do now is pray for the best and help him get his general education requirements done, scholarships applied for, and college admissions forms completed.

It’s tough being a parent. I have an Asperger’s son and a non-Asperger’s daughter. Each came with their own challenges. One thing I can say about raising an Asperger’s son is that he has taught me more about how to interact with others in the workplace – Asperger’s causes them to see things and understand things in black and white, they take things very literally. So, you have to be careful how you word tasks that need completed. In addition to that, not everyone thinks the same, sees things the same, and when you let all those different aspects out in a room, you can make some wildly innovative ideas. People might say that people with Asperger’s have quirks… I argue that we all do and we need to learn to understand each other.

I do want to add that I am so grateful that my Facebook friends shared my status when Brian went missing and how many kept following along, praying and keeping in touch to make sure Brian was found, that he was okay, and that we were okay. So many people messaged us and it really was heartwarming to know that there are people out there that do care about the safe keeping of others. Within an hour, I had 1,000 shares on my status. By 2 am, I believe it was up to 5,000. Simply amazing and we are overwhelmed by your concern and assistance in finding Brian. We even had people offer airline miles, to take a collection, etc. Not necessary, but so very heartwarming. Thank you for your shares, prayers, and concern!

Don’t Set Limitations For Yourself.

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Don’t Set Limitations For Yourself.

It’s funny how people can limit themselves by what they put in their mind. A comment made me think of this and it brought me back around to one of the people in my life that never let anything limit them from what they wanted to do. My Grandpa Hagood. Lisa n grampa h

Diagnosed with Diabetes, he still worked until he reached retirement. Even when his leg had to be amputated from just below the knee down, he didn’t let it stop him from living life. In fact, he made quite a few people uneasy when he climbed a ladder to fix a few shingles just a few days after being released from said amputation. He got his prosthetic leg and kept on walking. Even after he had to have first his big toe, then all his toes on the other foot amputated… he kept on walking, because he had things to do and people to see. He wanted to live life.

Then he was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure – at that time, it was a 3-5 years life expectancy. I don’t remember the exact timeline of when he was diagnosed with CHF, but I remember being pregnant with Alyssa and wondering if he would get to meet her because those 3-5 years were near. I especially wondered when he was still driving a car even after they took his license away. I guess he had things to do and the car keys were calling his name. And it did come that close. The picture of my Grandpa in the hospital bed, not a new story… he went in with a heart attack on 4th floor of the hospital and I went into labor and delivery on the 3rd floor of the same hospital. He wanted to come down, but being in ICU, that was not allowed, nor was bringing Alyssa to meet him. But, as you can see by the picture… it happened. Alyssa and I were released home and I got a call from a nice nurse – my Grandpa was going to die, expected in less than 24 hours, how soon can I bring the baby up for his last wish? Within 2 hours, my mom and I went to introduce the two. It was a sobering visit and one that I won’t forget. If you look to the picture of him in the green hat….that was a few weeks later. That yearning for life, the love and anticipation for watching that little bundle grow, turned his health around. We waited for a call of expiration that evening, but instead we got a call that he would be released in a few days. He had other plans, just like after the amputations… he did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to hold that baby some more.

Which he did for three years and he held another great grand baby, Brian in early August 1996. I would love to say that he was still here with us, scratching his head with a pocket knife, or driving through the garage because his leg got stuck under the brake pedal. (He did that twice, by the way, both times, just stood the back wall right back up.) But December 17, 1996, when Brian was just a little over 4 months old, we sat as a family at DMH, 4th floor, for a visit for the last time. Another time that I will never forget. 3 ½ year old Alyssa went to give him a hug and kiss bye, and she said, “he didn’t hug me back…” And later that night, the call of expiration came. My Grandpa was a deacon of the church and a man of God. It was at that time that He had things for my Grandpa to do…

Any medical condition that you have, don’t give in and be it’s victim. Take charge and show IT what your life will be like! Determination, motivation, belief, love, and a zest for living life to the fullest are all yours. It is up to you to choose whether you are a victim or whether you are going to be a survivor.

I am not going to succumb to any illness or medical affliction and miss out on my life. My Grandpa had an artificial leg in the picture of me with the cake – still photobombing. IMG_3676

Now, look at read my blogs, look at my social media updates… what do you think? You would be surprised at what you can’t see in a profile picture. There are days I am tired, don’t feel good, am mad, or sad or blue. Everyone has those days! You better believe that I won’t be sulking, I am here to live and live I shall!! Who’s with me??

Ahhh.. .the Memories

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My Mother is planning with her two brothers to clean out my Grandmother’s house. She asked me if I wanted anything out of the house. I had to stop and think, I couldn’t think of anything tangible that I would want from her house.

As I tried to think, I remembered way back to my childhood days. I lived only 6 miles away from them and our house was on the way to their church. They stopped by after church every Sunday morning and before and after church every Wednesday and Sunday evening. While these visits did get tedious at times, when we had other company, etc. I am really thankful that they did that. I know not everyone is blessed with grandparents or to live in such close proximity, like I was. Sunday after the morning service I would often get to go spend the afternoon with Grandma and Grandpa, since they could just drop me back off at home on their way to the evening service. 🙂 Every Sunday for lunch, rain, shine, snow, hail – it didn’t matter, it was burgers on the grill for lunch. If it was nice outside, I would play on the big wheel whilst Grandpa cooked. We always, always, had fruit after lunch/dinner. When I played outside after lunch, I loved the playhouse in their back yard. Since I was an only child, sometimes my cousins on my Dad’s side of the family would come down and we would play drive through or house. When they didn’t come down, I would play wiffle ball in the back yard with Grandpa pitching me the ball and every once in a while Grandma would. Occasionally, Grandpa would drive over to the Wedge in Illiopolis for an ice cream cone. Grandma and Grandpa would often take care of me when I was sick as a child so my mom could go to work. They took me to the doctor a time or two. What item in the house could possibly hold meaning to me?

Then, after I had given up trying to think of an item, it came to me like a ton of bricks. Something that I always did when I went there from the time I could reach it to the last time I was there… the cookie jar. It was the same cookie jar that I remember from way, way back. Grandma wasn’t always the best cook – once in a while she would forget an ingredient in the cookies. I think one time she forgot flour… but that is okay, I do the same – or mix out of order, or forget to set the timer…. For the most part, there was always some good cookies to nibble on. So, I asked for the cookie jar. Every time I look at it, I will think of the memories I have while eating cookies at Grandma’s house. And then I thought more broadly, outside of the house, to the many times they stopped by before and after church. One common occurrence was pennies. You see, usually Grandma would go into the kitchen with my Mom and Grandpa would go into the living room where my Dad was watching TV, sit in the recliner and pop off his artificial leg. Sometimes he would take the cushion off and rub his stump. This is one of those instances that became tedious if we had other company as it tends to really freak people out when someone removes their leg. 🙂 I would usually be in the living room, as that was where the window to the driveway was. Grandpa would pull out his coins and hand me the pennies pennieshe had in his hand. And he would always, always say, “Those are for you, but don’t tell your Grandma…ok? Or she will be mad.” Sure enough Grandpa! Of course I am sure you can guess what happened next. I would get bored with the men talking of car parts and other things a 7 year old wasn’t interested in and head to the kitchen. Once I got into the kitchen, Grandma would pull her coin purse out and do the same. There was only a dining room in between the kitchen and living room. It was open between, so I am sure that they each knew they were doing that… but who was I to second guess?? I was told to be tight lipped about it.. so I did. 😀

That was when I told my Mom if the coin purses are still around there, I would like to have one of them. Not because it is tied to money, but because I can visualize the coin purse perfectly. I think they always carried the same one. I guess I will find out if it has withstood the test of time, or if it has dissolved into a pile of dust.

My Grandfather mentioned above has been the subject of several of my posts about miracles. He passed away over 16 years ago, but it seems like just last year. In reality, my Grandmother has declined over the past year with osteopenia and dementia. After several instances of extreme confusion – once she was pulled over in a Kroger parking lot. The police officer was so concerned about her mental state that he had my uncle come pick her up. At Christmas she was her usual self, being less stubborn about using a cane but still as stubborn as a mule on using a walker. She had been so stubborn on both of those subjects for two years that she had a severe lean to one side and her balance while walking suffered. Every family talks about nursing homes, but at Christmas time, it was painfully obvious that the time was very near. She was becoming unable to care for herself due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Medicine was a huge concern – was she taking enough, was she taking it at all? Some of the vertigo issues could have been caused by an overdose on one of the meds. A few days later is when that day came.

Less than a few days after Christmas, my uncle took her to the hospital as she had fallen down four times before noon. There was no real reason medically for the falling but the confusion and off the wall conversations were happening all the time. She went to a nursing home from the hospital. While it is certainly in her best interests, it is still a sad state of affairs. I guess because it is change and a change that forces you to face the reality of the situation. The house will be empty or filled with a new family, but it won’t be Grandma and Grandpa’s house any more.

Life is all about change, isn’t it? I remember how excited pennies made me as a kid… as an adult, we may not even pick a penny up off the street. I hope that I am around my grandchildren enough to give them memories like I have of my grandparents. And I hope that they always have memories to remember me.

New Chapters, Stress and Looking Forward

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So, everything was going as normal… I loved the challenges of my job and especially the team that I worked with every day. Then my husband got offered another job with the same company an hour and a half away from our house. This meant relocation – to a new town – changing houses, changing doctors, changing schools, changing jobs, changing everything in life that I knew.

The first step was starting the process of finding myself a job in the new location. I am very thankful to work for a company, the same as my husband, that will assist in finding a job in the new area. This meant updating my resume – it may be horrible, but I don’t keep it up to date – if I like my job, why would I be ready to leave at a moments notice? So, I put my name out there, used my networking contacts and got the ball rolling. Now, the stress of hoping that in a volatile economy that I will be employed. All at the same time as house hunting – which is very difficult to commit when you don’t know where you will work or if you will have an income. Then putting the forces in place to start finding my replacement. I did not want to leave my team uncovered. Luckily, it went very quickly and I found a better than I could have even imagined replacement for myself. She is going to do even more things with that role and that in and of itself, helped me to be able to walk away from that desk. Thank God for her!

Second step, get our house on the market. We had grandiose plans in store for our house but didn’t implement so we were behind the 8 ball at that point. All the rooms were painted in neutral colors. Carpeting was replaced in the living room and downstairs guest bedroom. Cleaning was done… Light fixtures changed out, Deck railing replaced, Deck painted, Roof replaced (luckily the shingles were already bought), driveway re-sealed, front porch railing removed, front doors painted, front porch floor painted with epoxy, landscaping repaired and spruced up. It was an ordeal and a very labor intensive one at that. The house went on the market, finally. Now, if it would have just sold! At this point, we have one more week before we can take the option of the relocation company to purchase, so it is looking as if they will be the new homeowners.

Then, I found a job – similar position as I had, but with a little less responsibility. You know what? That was okay. The job I was leaving was a new position when I took it and I made it into a great responsibility with loads of opportunity and I could do that same thing again. It is all in the power of what you put your mind to. If you think your job is a rotten apple, then you are going to smell like one. For me, titles mean nothing and job descriptions just give you a minimum guideline – you can always do more, you can always learn more. Even with this positive attitude, it was still very hard to be in an admin assistant role. After all, people stop by your desk looking for conference rooms on your first day. My response was to chuckle and look at the person next to me, explain to the person that I was lucky to find my desk this morning since I am new, so let’s ask an expert. It was a good way to break the ice with new people. And I was fortunate enough to find a few faces that I already knew – they had moved before me. A few, out of a couple thousand, but those few faces mean a lot!

After looking at about 30 homes in the new location and getting input from co-workers, we found the best school for our son and a home to reside in. We were not going to be able to move close enough to the first day of school, so that meant that we had to hotel it for a little bit. The outside dogs were put into a kennel and we were fortunate enough to find a hotel that would accept our little Coco. After three weeks of hotel living, we finally got to move into our new house – let the unpacking festivities begin!

We have moved many times, but really, not more than 2 while I worked full time. As I get older, I realize how much more tired I am and I am not really for sure if it is just the age, or if some of the fatigue is not my MS rearing its ugly head. But, I will not be stopped, I keep going. I have to. I would like nothing more than to lay in bed and rest for a week, but I know that if I do, I will be even more tired when that week is over – I have to keep moving, I have to keep going otherwise, I am afraid that my body will forget how to thrive. Even better, it would be great to have the powers of Samantha from Bewitched or Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie and be able to have everything in its place at the snap, but I have not been able to find that magical ability, and that is probably best as we only learn and grow through these challenges.

Most stressful is the fact that our four pack family is now a three pack. My daughter had moved out a year before we moved, but only 2 miles down the road. With her school and work schedules, we rarely saw her even then in the short distance and this mom’s heart is weighing heavy because she knows that those times she sees her are going to be even fewer and farther between. The phone calls are a blessing, but just not the same… coupled with the fact that the boyfriend she moved in with does not care for us so much that he will not allow us in their house. I have no idea what her living situation is and while this bothered me two miles down the road, it is even worse now because I don’t see her in passing on the road, in the drive thru at McDonald’s (where she works), I only have texts, Facebook and phone calls to go on. It also brings an interesting perspective as it will be difficult to visit her, since we can’t visit her home. Since our family is spread out, for the majority south of where we originally lived, there is not a happy meeting ground. I will just have to wait for holidays or for her to visit us. In finding herself in her adult life, the time for parents is not nearly as frequent as when she was becoming a teenager.

My parents lived an hour and a half from us, but now a little over 3 hours – not quite the quick drive down to visit anymore. And with the MS, driving really tires me. I have not attempted to drive it, but know that when the house is in order and I am more comfortable with my setting that energy will come back a little and I will be more brave to attempt the trip.

Unpacking all this stuff really makes it harder. You find old treasures and trinkets that you had long since forgotten about. You reminisce about those times and the feelings of joy rush back, only to be dismantled by remembering that you are now farther away and those number of those memories will be harder to create.

All in all, I like my new town. There are more options of things to do, places to go, and shopping. It is just a matter of finding my way there. Today, I am very thankful my GPS has unlimited usage. Moving close to cold weather setting in and so much to do, there hasn’t been much time to get out and meet people, or really even to get out of the house. I really wish that I could get that magical power to snap my fingers or wave a wand and be completely settled in, no cardboard, no piles of stuff to be put away… I know I will have this done by Spring and believe me, I will be out and about then! It will be time to explore. Until then, I just have to quietly deal with my frustrations of being overwhelmed with all the newness of my surroundings… take joy in the blessings of my health, my job, my family I get to live with and those times I get to visit the family and friends that I don’t live with and my little Coco…

Ok, the pity party is over… time to bust to move on some boxes.

I Have Now Witnessed FOUR Miracles!

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Let me start out by saying that this is simply amazing and I am eternally grateful for God’s blessings in my life.

My mom’s family is relatively small. When we meet for holidays, there are 16 of us now that are official – blood or marriage – you know the people that have no choice and the people that didn’t get scared and run away, ha ha! When I was little, about 10 years old, that number was 7 in total. If you have read my post, “Have you ever seen a miracle” my grandfather in that post is the same that was part of the 7 people. So, that makes this additional story even more unique. From that 7 people, my parents and I were the only ones that lived in the next town over, in fact, the rest of the family lived on the same block as each other, and still do today. When we grew to 8, it was my aunt Theresa joining the family, then came 9, 10, and 11 with their kids Amy, Aaron and Chris. Then my husband and two kids followed. Here are the 11 of us – hey wasn’t that a show?

So, miracle number 1 was my grandfather turning completely around surprising the cardiologist who had given him less than 24 hours to live. (See “Have you Witnessed a Miracle” on my blog for the full details. Let me now tell you about miracle number 2, was my aunt Theresa after undergoing surgery what seems like yesterday because we were so scared, but really it was several years ago. She was in the hospital for quite some time as the doctors were trying everything to make her better. And they were successful. I was suffering from bronchitis that refused to go away so I wasn’t able to visit her so my recollection just isn’t as good as if I had been there so I could use my photographic memory. My memory is bad due to M.S. I guess, so all I know is that they weren’t sure she would make it and that uncertainty lasted way too long, just like my bronchitis. It seems like it was over a month. I had to depend on family to text me. This was in June, so we were really grateful at Thanksgiving time that year that she was there with us.

Number 3 is my grandfather’s son, or my Uncle Rick. It was Tuesday, early December, I had just arrived at work (that is not the miracle, ha ha) and somehow, I missed two phone calls and the two corresponding voice mails. As I noticed it, I looked at who they were from and told my boss, “uh, oh, this can not be good news.” My aunt had called me at 5 something in the morning and then my dad followed a voice mail at 7 something. So, there is only one way to find out – I listened to the voice mails. And I was right, it was not good. My uncle Rick was taken to the hospital via ambulance, he thought he was having a heart attack. Especially concerning because he is also diabetic, which is known for causing circulatory issues. My dad’s voice mail was just to ensure that I had heard about my uncle. So, I immediately called my aunt. Rick had felt the symptoms for an hour before he drove around the block to Steve and Theresa’s house to tell them that he thought he was having a heart attack. They immediately called for the rescue team. He was taken to a local hospital that just recently restricted the cardiologists that could practice there, you have to be a hospitalist specific to that hospital. The patients do not get to choose who they see – not a good move in my opinion, but nonetheless, they made the policy. My favorite cardiologist, Dr. Kola is not a hospitalist, so he was not able to see my uncle which really made me uneasy. I KNEW if Dr. Kola was in charge everything possible would be done, now I had to wonder. Since Theresa said her husband, my Uncle Steve, went to the hospital with him – I texted him, “How is Rick, if they haven’t seen him yet, load him up and take him to the other hospital where Dr. Kola can see him.” And the reply was that, “He is in recovery now, heart cath done and a stent put in.” Truly amazing since this was only 2 hours and 15 minutes since they called the ambulance. So, when Rick came out of recovery he told my uncle that he was feeling better. I went to visit him for a little bit before my next meeting. He was in good spirits. When I greeted him, I simply asked, “So, were you a little bored this morning?” And he chuckled and said, “I just didn’t want to go to work.” I just replied that “You know you can just fake it and call in sick.” Sarcasm and humor, that is how all my family rolls. 🙂 He said he was feeling better, but was aggravated he had to lay flat for 6 hours on his back. Yes indeed, as he should feel better. The doctor told Rick that he was “lucky to be alive”. His main artery to his heart was almost completely blocked to a point that very few survive the cardiac event. Especially given the amount of time that he had symptoms before he sought help. So, this was miracle number three that would join us again at the holiday table. Praise God!

Now, onto miracle number 4. So, my uncle’s heart attack was on Tuesday. A few days later, on Friday my husband and I went to bed at 10:30 p.m. (we are quite the party animals, I know). I awoke at about 12:30 a.m. by my 15 year old son, Brian, talking with his dad. All I heard coming out of my slumber was, “Alyssa” (my daughter), “accident”, “Aaron” and “ICU”. Well, that popped my eyes open faster than the alarm clock going off. I believe my response was, “WHAT?!” So Brian said he had gotten a text message from Alyssa asking if we knew my cousin Aaron had been in an accident and was ICU at the hospital. Uhm, no, we were not! Apparently she had seen something on Facebook. I went to bed early, so I was clueless. I immediately called his sister, Amy – is this true?? I was sincerely hoping for some prank of someone trying to be funny… but it was true. At that point, he knew he had a broken sternum and bleeding in the brain, but not much else. The dreaded answer to ‘do they think he is going to be okay’ was “they don’t know, they said it would be touch and go from here. they may move him to Springfield.” ugh, Springfield is the ultimate center – the one that you know things are really bad if they go there, (in my opinion). I then called my mom to make sure she knew, she was sleeping too and did not know. So, then I decided I would go back to sleep and go visit him in the hospital later that day. I thought about how I had babysat for him from the time he was 6 weeks old to a little over a year. Now he was married with an almost one year old daughter, Selena. He has changed quite a bit since then. All the memories danced in my head as I prayed until I fell asleep. I did visit him that day, the next and just about every other day as I could. It was rough. The first week he was in ICU and was sleeping or barely coherent. Then, the day came where they moved him to a regular room before they transferred him to Springfield for therapy, so I left at lunch that day to visit him before he left town. It was so great to see him looking more like himself, talking, moving around and playing with little Selena. She was full of smiles – it was the first time that she got to see him since before the accident. And it was during this time that I saw the stubbornness of our Grandpa (aka miracle #1). Aaron was having difficulty walking with his right leg so a bed alarm was installed to alert the nurses if he tried to get up. Already that day in the short time he had been there, he had gotten up and changed his clothes. During our conversation, he started to get up. His wife, Jessy, asked what he was doing. He needed to go to the bathroom. Jessy was going to get a nurse, but he was on a mission, so she tried to make sure he didn’t fall instead. She asked if he was supposed to go on his own and he replied, “they didn’t tell me that I can’t”. At this point, he was off of the bed and the alarm sounded… BEEP BEEP!! And I told them, “That would be a NO.” He made it to the bathroom with Jessy’s help just before the nurses got there. Later that day, they must have realized what a renegade they had on their hands and moved him directly next to the nurses’ station. Or maybe they learned who his grandfather was, as he was stubborn in the same way. He felt he could, so he tried! I told Jessy and Aaron that he came by it honest. Our grandfather climbed on the roof to fix shingles within 24 hours of being released from having his leg amputated from below the knee down. (Well, they didn’t specifically tell him he couldn’t, so he did!) Aaron was in that room for a few days, then sent to Springfield Memorial for therapy. Luckily, they deemed him able to come home and have therapy on an out patient basis. He was released on December 23rd. He was home for Christmas! Not that he was bouncing off the walls as he would of when he was a little kid, but he was there. Praise God again. From the look of the car, it is a miracle.

As my husband drove to my Grandma’s house for Christmas Eve dinner, I just thought of how lucky we were. We could have been two seats short of what Thanksgiving dinner was just a few short weeks before. God was good to us and truly blessed us with two more miracles, both in the same week. And so, I thought that this holiday could be called Thanksgiving/Christmas because we certainly had rights to be Thankful.

When you think about who you think will be next to pass through the pearly gates, you rarely ever think about these quick turns of fate that could affect anyone around the table – it doesn’t have to be the oldest person, or the person in the worst health, you just never know. A few years ago, it could have been my aunt after surgery. This year it could have been a heart attack and/or a car accident. Cherish your family and friends while they are here, hold them close and never take for granted the time you have opportunity with them.

I am a Community College Dropout!

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I am a Community College Dropout!

Can’t you hear the song from Grease as Pinky contemplates quitting beauty school? Well, I have been a community college drop out, not once, but twice. Sure we can blame it on getting pregnant, played around too much, didn’t focus on school or “taking time for myself”, but really, I think it was just another reason for people to validate why I dropped out. Those excuses really are not the root cause. If you are a teacher or a parent, maybe even a high school student I hope that this helps you. I know I use(d) these as a guide for helping my kids. Let me just start by saying that I do hold both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Management and Organizational Leadership from Millikin University and Benedictine University, respectively. So, it turned out okay, it was just far more of a struggle than I think really had to be. In high school I was, what I call an average student – A’s and B’s. I hold education important, so I don’t feel that C’s are ‘average’. To stay competitive, we really need to up our game in the educational system. So, back to the story. I started college with a summer course immediately after I graduated. Pshychology 101, at 8:00 a.m. three days a week. Hind sight is always 20/20, I am not a morning person by any means now, and as a teenager, sleeping until noon during the summer was a necessity. Why I chose that time, I will never know. But, I did great at it and got an A – woo hoo starting out college with a 4.0! Then the fall semester came and I was signed up for a full course load for the nursing program. I was kind of lost, as all my friends were drifting away. We went to the same school, but their class schedules were different than mine and I don’t think I was sure of what I should do. That is really weird of me to see that as I have always been an independent person. Growing up as an only child, you kind of have to be, but in high school my friends and I hung out between classes, hung out at lunch, after school, etc. It is something you wait for your whole child hood, but when graduation happens, you really aren’t sure what to do, who you are, where you are going. It can get lonely. I was struggling with my course load, keeping up with the assignments, my heart just wasn’t in it, so, I dropped all my classes. Not really a stellar time in my life, it didn’t really make my parents happy. Neither one of them had a college education, so it was important to them that I attend. They of course, were in the working world and saw the importance that college educations had. Me? Well, I was a teenager, and what do all teenagers think their parents know? Squat. Yup, like I said, hindsight is always 20/20. But, we have to learn those lessons on our own. Best lessons are the hard lessons you learn by making mistakes. The love of my life (well, at least the last year at this time) was in his second year of dorm life at a four year college an hour away on a full grant studying engineering. He struggled with some of the roommates he had, calculus classes, and I think that same feeling I had… Where are all the people that I know? Who are all these weird people? 🙂 When he lost his grant, during the summer semester, he obtained loans, but those were weighing on his stress level. Ultimately it was all too much and he decided to return home to attend community college, the same one I dropped out of. I was thoroughly enthused as I missed him VERY much! Well, I bet you can tell exactly where this is headed… we were in love, I was almost 18, he didn’t want to move in with his parents, I was ready to get out of small town living so we got an apartment together. Really intelligent, since I worked at K-mart part-time and he worked for his dad’s machine shop that had just opened a year before, part time. I wish that I had that same belief that everythign would be great and just jump into decisions like that…. We were invicible! 🙂 Christmas came and I learned that a few months prior, he purchased an engagement ring which he gave to me Christmas day. On December 27th, reluctantly I took a pregnancy test that turned out positive. Well, that kind of put a little bit of a damper on our cloak of invincibility, but everything happens for a reason. Sure the first thing our friends asked was, “What are you going to do? Keep it? Abortion? Adoption?” Dumb question in our minds, as abortion was not an option (I will have to blog another time on the story behind my being an only child.) No way were we going to give a product of our love for each other away to someone who may not raise them with any morals or worse…. We did it, we were already planning to be together, this just sealed the deal. We planned a wedding and were married about 6 weeks later on February 20th. I can publish this as I have never hidden the fact from my kids that I was pregnant before we were married. Remember I hold education very important, I wanted them to learn math and the gestation period for a human being. 🙂 Obviously the story doesn’t end there, I said in the beginning that I had a bachelor’s and master’s degree. And it doesn’t. Basically through living life without a college education, I learned that I was the one who didn’t know jack squat. Frankly, I didn’t know jack or squat. What my parents saw was what I learned. If you want to be successful in your climb on the career ladder you need a college degree. My husband learned first. He worked for his dad for my pregnancy and he had a dream to work for Wagner Castings as a CMM programmer, which came to fruition when Alyssa was just a month old. A full time gig with benefits, but on third shift. Almost a year later, he obtained a position at a Fortune 50 company as a machinist when Alyssa was about to turn 1 year old. This gave us far superior benefits as well as an 80% raise. He worked a lot of overtime in this job, many 12 hour days, many weekends. Started out on 2nd shift, then moved to third shift. It was rough on a family. I had worked odd jobs as needed to get a little extra cash and obtained a full time job at a local credit union. After a few months there, Alyssa’s respiratory infections got progressively worse until they just didn’t go away. Poor thing at 18 months old we thought she would cough up her toe nails. Many missed days of work for me as I couldn’t take her to the sitter when she was sick. This continued for several months. Meanwhile, we were planning on expanding our family and after trying for a year, when Alyssa was just about 27 months, I found out I was pregnant. I stopped working full time and focused on family. We found out when we switched pediatricians that she had Asthma. With that diagnosis and breathing treatments, life was hunky dory again. Well, remember my husband had two dreams, well, his third was to become a processor at the Fortune 50 company. However, when he talked to the supervisor about moving, he was told that he would need an Associate’s degree. He was really reluctant to get it, but I nudged him to go for his dream. He graduated from the community college and guess what? He did not immediately move up. Very aggitated, he kept applying with no success. He went back to talk to the supervisor again and this time was told that now it required a bachelor’s degree. He was throroghly aggrivated and refused to do so. After several times of being told the lack of a bachelor’s degree was what was holding him back, I finally nudged him to follow through. He graduated after countless hours of studying and weekend classes. After six months of passing around his resume, he finally got that dream to become a processor. Even better benefits, day shift job and the sense of achievement. And no loans, his schooling was paid in full by the company. So, throughout all of this, I worked several more odd jobs here and there to supplement the income since he was not working as much overtime. I worked full time at a criminal defense law firm, which was somewhere I never imagined in a million years that I would work at, much less enjoy. I took a correspondence course and became a paralegal and moved to a bigger, civil law firm. Another job that I really enjoyed the work. I enjoyed my co-workers. My boss? Depends on the day. This law firms method of employee retention was to pay far over what other firms pay so that the employees do not feel that they can take a pay cut. Well, several things changed during the time that I worked there. Push was on velocity and quality. Well, we all know what happens when you rush through things – you make more mistakes. These mistakes were simple errors in transferring of information, but in the legal realm of representing banks in foreclosures, it can mean thousands of dollars in fees and lost time fighting to correct the error. Each of these errors was never forgiven as if they were etched into the drywall. When you work in conditions like this and they continue to push for perfection at a higher velocity, the only thing that happens is the pressure causes more mistakes. My boss was your best friend one minute, but the second that you crossed her (in her eyes) you were the spawn of satan. In my four years working there, I called in ‘sick’ the day of work only when it was a true emergency – people, I came to work with strep throat eating ice cream all day if I could. I came to work with a respiratory infection that I took the cough syrup with codeine as directed when I got to work and ended up passing out in the break room. I had a spinal tap done that ended in a spinal headache, but I attempted to come to work. My boss saw the pain on my face and increasingly getting worse and told me to go home and get well. This day she was caring. when that headache lasted a week, I had become the devil. This was when the light switch flipped on. not only did her ridiculous reactions annoy me, but the spinal tap confirmed a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. This diagnosis meant that I can’t plan for the future as if I am invincible any longer. I had to start thinking about how my life could change in the next minute and not be able to walk or something as equally as strange. I needed to work full time to get my kids ready for college and if I was going to want to retire someday, I had to do something different. So, my husband knew how frustrated and upset I was getting with my Jeckel and Hyde boss and told me to do the same thing he had – go back to school. As I look back some things that I think would have helped me would have been: – Having a specific career goal by the time I was a sophomore in high school to work towards. I just took whatever was on the schedule, if I had a choice, I generally chose a study hall, which didn’t build any skills for me at all. Sure, it was a good time with the other students and the teacher if you chose the right study hall, but nonetheless, not very academically challenging. – Career Cruising Assessment available to determine my strengths and weaknesses (or really anything of that type). If you don’t know what Career Cruising is, please check out their website. This is a skills, needs and preference assessment to help you determine what careers you would be good in/happy in. If you want to learn more about it, you click on the career and it gives you a host of information – the job title, description, average earnings and the education needed to go into the field. The down fall is that your school has to participate in it and actively push it to the students. And, I feel incredibly old saying this, but alas, when I was in high school, we were just getting computers…. the internet was years away. But something of the same nature would have been a great tool. – Once completed, some type of mentorship program or job shadowing opportunity with someone in that field. – (Neither of my parents went to college, so they couldn’t guide me. Students with parents that have not been in school need the extra coaching and guidance. Or workshops for the parents, support groups.) – RCC programs – have classes in blocks that compliment each other. Instead of fitting the classes into your program when able to, a nice schedule to follow. – RCC Counselors to schedule classes to fit the schedule of the student. No 2-4 hour breaks between classes. Maximize their time, they get bored between – it is not high school anymore not everyone is free at that same time. It gives you time to realize you are alone…. When I returned to RCC, I talked to a counselor and they had me going every which direction. I took the course book home and courses required by the program and I did the schedule myself. Took out an unnecessary class and as a working mom, utilized the evening classes to maximize the time I was at school so I could maximize the time I had with my kids at home. – Positive support of teachers and counselors throughout school, starting in Kindergarten. Help support their excitement, show them how to get there. One of the times that I will neverforget, when I realized that the radiology program was not going to be an option, I sought out my Bio 202 teacher, Mrs. Godin to pick her brain on her thoughts. She told me, “You are smart, you can do Anything you want. Can you be a Physician’s assistant? No doubt in my mind. No doubt in my mind that you could be a physician. You are very intelligent and I know you would succeed at any of those.” That one moment in time, changed my life. I no longer did status quo. I went for the gold! Excellence in everything I did. – Job shadow opportunities in careers the student feels that they would like to be involved in. At my son’s IEP last year, he had mentioned Auto Tech and they were going to put him into vocational. I asked that they not, I know Brian and he would not like it. Later that week, my husband said that he needed to take his car to the dealer for an oil change. My son said, “Why don’t you do it at home?” My husband asked if he wanted to help? Brian said, “Ok, as long as I don’t get squirted with oil, I don’t want to be dirty.” If we had put him in vocational, he would have failed. With his Asperger’s he never would have come to us and said, “I don’t like that”. He would have just been non-compliant. For me, in school, if I had been given a job shadow opportunity, I might have fell in love, it would have been visual what I wanted to do, I would have developed the dream/goal. – I went thorough several degree options. Rad Tech, nursing, biology, legal. The biology is an interesting one. I tested in math placement at RCC and I needed FIVE classes to qualify me for the program, so I gave up and went to work full time thinking that I would never finish – That is two and a half years added onto my school time. When I started Millikin’s PACE program, I didn’t place any higher but I only needed two 10 week courses to fulfill the void. More expensive, but well worth it. RCC and Millikin should partner up and leverage the accelerated classes to help people get up to speed, get their degree and get done. The longer you drag it out, the more likely they are to get discouraged and drop. (I was discouraged twice and MAD when I found out that I could have taken 2 classes at MU.) Put the options in front of them instead of them having to figure out how to make their plan work. To me, the counselor was more focused on RCC profit instead of my school ‘career’. Anyway, not that any one of these things was the driving force, ultimately it was my decision to drop out. And it was my decision to return to finish my bachelors and masters degrees. Unfortunately not every one of the drop outs will return.

Have You Witnessed a Miracle?

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Have You Witnessed a Miracle?

It was August 1993, that I myself witnessed a miracle.  Something so truly amazing that it could only be from the hands of God.  Before I tell you the details, let me give you a little history.  My grandfather was a diabetic on insulin, had his leg amputated from the knee down on one side and his toes removed on the other foot due to circulation issues.  He had a heart attack and was later diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure.  Keep in mind that today, patients with CHF can live for a long time as many more treatment options are available.  Eighteen years ago, however, it was limited and the longest anyone expected these patients to live was at most 5 years.  However, most succumbed to the disease between 2-3 years.  It was mid-high school that my grandpa was diagnosed with CHF.   He lived less than 10 minutes from my house for my entire upbringing and my paternal grandfather passed away when I was 6, so I have many, many memories of him.  Since they lived so close, and were retired, they took care of me when I was sick or the baby sitter was not available so that my mom could go to work.  Great memories of pancakes for breakfast, playing in the playhouse and going to Dairy Queen for a full meal deal.  They always had one of the free dessert coins to give to me.  I loved those things!  Oh, and they always had a few pennies for my piggy bank.  Pennies don’t mean a whole lot now, but to a kid, they are a treasure!

About 6 months after I graduated high school, I was engaged and found out I was pregnant.  My grandpa was kind of excited to be a great grandpa!  During my pregnancy, his health declined and he was in and out of the hospital.  On a Saturday in August, the 7th to be exact, my mom called me and told me  he had a heart attack and was in the intensive care unit at the hospital.  I remember rushing to see him that evening and he didn’t look well at all, his kidneys were failing, his diabetes was difficult to control.  I remember seeing him suffer, losing his strength and praying to God to not let him suffer long.  I had planned to come and see him the next day, but my daughter had other plans.  I was due August 16th and she didn’t want to wait.  Late morning August 8th, I went into labor.  While my grandpa was on the 4th floor in ICU, I was admitted on the 3rd floor labor and delivery.  Alyssa was born at 11:26 p.m. on August 8, 1993.  One of the happiest days of my life and yet a bittersweet one as well because I knew how much my grandpa wanted to be there to see Alyssa.  But in the ICU, babies couldn’t visit and he couldn’t leave ICU.  We went home a few days later and I remember getting a call from the ICU nurse just shortly after arriving at home.  She told me that my grandpa was not expected to live much longer and as a last wish, he told the cardiologist, Dr. Kola,  he would like to see his first great grand baby.   Dr. Kola ordered the ICU nurses to quarantine the ICU and sanitize it so that I could bring Alyssa in and they were ready.  (This directive showing compassion and sympathy from a doctor could be considered a miracle all in itself, but that was just the beginning.)  I was a brand new mom and upset, so I called my mom – after all, it was her father and I knew she would want to be there as well.  She came and picked Alyssa and I up and drove us to the hospital.  We arrived and I was amazed at how many tubes and wires he had on and in him.    But his face really lit up when he saw Alyssa.  We put her in his arms and took pictures, Grandpa n Alyssa, day of miracle he kissed her and when we left, we said our goodbyes.  I went home and cuddled with my bundle of joy, as she really helped me through that tough time while I waited for the call to advise that he had passed away.  It was after 10:00 p.m. when the phone call came from my mom.  Dr. Kola had personally called my grandma to tell her that he witnessed the most amazing thing he had ever seen.  Since my grandpa held Alyssa, they had been pulling the wires and tubes away from him, he no longer needed them.  His kidneys started working again. His diabetes was controlled.  He was going to come home, and he did. IMG_3593 We were blessed that he was able to hold her many times after that day. 

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.  I wasn’t really supposed to get pregnant when I did, I wasn’t married yet, but if I didn’t have that bundle to bring my grandfather such joy I would have lost him that day.  And I also truly believe that a positive attitude is the best medicine.  He lived to see my Alyssa grow up and was feeling pretty good until Alyssa was about 2 years old.  His health then started to decline again.  A few months after her 2nd birthday, I found out I was pregnant again due August 2nd, 1996.  His health continued to decline but bounced back a little bit after I found out at 4 months along that we were going to have a boy.  My grandpa was even more excited to have a great grandson he would have one of each!  There were several hospital stays as my grandpa got worse with his CHF.    He went into the ICU again on July 30th, my Grandma’s birthday.  About 9:30 p.m. on July 30th my water broke, more so, it gushed everywhere.  Brian tried to be born on my Grandma’s birthday, but missed it by a few hours, July 31st at 3:55 a.m. Again, Grandpa was on 4th floor in ICU and I was admitted on the 3rd floor – I had a feeling of de ja vu.  This time, when he heard about Brian’s birth, he started to turn around and he was moved out of ICU, which meant we could go visit.   He got to see Brian and hold him, but his health did not make the remarkable recovery and sustain it as he did with Alyssa.  He got to come home, but this time, his health failed much more so than it had in the past.  When Brian was 4 months old, I remember seeing my grandpa suffer, losing his strength, losing his ability to get around.  Knowing how independent he had always been, I knew that this was a hard time for him.  This man climbed on the roof to fix a shingle as soon as he was released from the hospital from having his leg amputated.    I prayed that God would relieve his suffering.  This time God didn’t relieve his suffering by removing it, this time, it was to bring him Home.  I will never forget, the whole family surrounded his bed in the hospital room, he had severe edema and was not alert.  Dr. Kola even came and sat with the family for a little bit.  When we went to leave, as we always did, we went to tell Great Grandpa bye and Alyssa, as she always did, gave him a hug.  She looked at my mom and I and in a sad little 3-year-old voice and said, “Oh, he didn’t say goodbye.”  I know in my heart that my grandpa heard that and knew he couldn’t ward off death forever.  It was later that night that God took away his pain and brought him to heaven.  My mom called to give me the news as my husband was preparing to leave for his 3rd shift job at 10:30 p.m. It was a flood of emotions from tears to sadness that he passed to extreme relief that he no longer suffered.  He was a blessing in my life, teaching me the importance of family relationships, to always keep going, to work hard, to always look for the good and basically to enjoy life regardless.

A year later on the same date that he went Home, at 8:30 p.m. I put Brian down for bed in his crib.  At 9:00 p.m. he was sleeping soundly.  I know my grandpa felt the pain in my heart as 10:30 p.m. rolled around and I started to remember the previous year.  I know this because at 10:30 p.m. Brian started laughing hysterically, as if someone was tickling him.  I ran in his room and he was standing at the crib rails with his hands reached out in front of him and having a good time.  I know that my Grandpa was tickling him to tell me not to be sad for him. I picked Brian up and felt the love he just shared with his Great Grandpa.  I put Brian back down to sleep and went to bed myself knowing my Grandpa was still part of my children’s lives.

So, I have had prayers answered in ways that I did not expect.  God gives us the answers we ask for sometimes, sometimes He does not answer them at all and sometimes He answers them in ways we least expect so that we know He listens to our hearts. The first time God answered, he relieved his suffering by making him better.  Which was a true blessing to have him part of my daughter’s life and the first few months of my son’s life.  Not many people can say that they knew their great grandparents, but mine can.  They knew 3 out of the 4 great grandparents and still have their Great Grandma H.  God blessed my life in many ways, but truly by witnessing a miracle.  A miracle that I am truly thankful for, because of it, my children met their great grandpa.

My grandparents were each such a blessing in my life and I am so thankful that they were able to be a blessing in my children’s lives.  My Grandma B lived until just this past December, so she was part of their lives through their teen years.

Grandma B and Baby alyssa

Bub sitting on Grandma's lap

My Grandma H is still part of their lives and continued to host holiday dinners and lunches when family is in town until 2012. In 2012 she began falling and the day after Christmas that year she fell several times in one day. Her Alzheimer’s Disease started taking over and stopped her from doing regular daily tasks, like taking her medicines. From that day forward, she was in a nursing home. As of today, May 25, 2015, she is still in the nursing home and continues to decline in cognitive ability. But both my kids had many good years before that happened.  

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The ongoing instilling of the value of the roles that your family plays in your life.  I hope that you get prayers answered in ways that completely change your life, as they have mine.

Why?

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Have you ever thought to yourself “Why is this happening to me?” I have plenty of times, but as I sort out in my mind, I realize that everything happens for a reason- good and bad. If bad things are happening to me and as I dissect why, sometimes I realize that I am putting myself in those situations with the people that I surround myself with. From there I have choices and changes to make. And if you find yourself constantly in a state of drama, you are the one in control of that, you can fix it by not allowing yourself to continue with the root cause. Sometimes they are tough choices, but if you want to move forward in a positive direction, you HAVE to make the decision and be committed to following through. And sometimes we have to make changes within ourselves, first and foremost, to BELIEVE we deserve better. Instead of wondering why me you need to suck it up and move towards a more positive environment.

Ever wondered why people act the way they do? I have plenty of times! I’ve also wondered, “how in the world am I going to progress forward through this, maybe I could give up.” But guess what? I am way too stubborn and I have grown up with a variety of family members showing me that you just can’t give up, you have to keep going. My Grandpa had diabetes and had his leg amputated below the knee. What was he doing the day after he was released? Up on the garage roof making repairs. Maybe wasn’t the safest thing to do, but he knew it needed done and he wasn’t going to let his missing leg stop him. He fought several more toes on his good foot being amputated, but he kept going, kept walking and doing household activities. Sometimes I think that we get too involved in things we can’t control and let it change our perception of what we can accomplish. The truth is that we are our own obstacles sometimes. No, it wasn’t exactly the best thing for him to be on the roof, but he wasn’t going to let that obstacle he couldn’t control dictate how he lived his life. He greeted life with a positive, can do attitude and he survived many obstacles that another person may have let take over their life.

If you are a parent like I am, you have kids watching how you react. Whether I like it or not, I tell myself I HAVE to suck it up and deal with it and move on! My ‘why’ or my motivation is just that, to put forth a never say quit attitude to my kids. I am determined to do all within my power to instill those same values and strong work ethic that I have. Basically, you never know what life has in store next and if you haven’t dealt with previous issues and are sulking, you may just miss the beauty of nature changing around you. You are here for great things, believe it, see it, move towards it. Life is far too short to relinquish control and waste time sulking. Get out there and move towards the life you want. 🙂