Category Archives: Life in general

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.

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??

Technology Throughout the Years

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It is a little sad that I think back to all of the things that I did when I was a child that my kids will not experience. Have you thought of these? There are a TON of them!!

– I remember true team work, as you turn the antennae on the roof little by little until the three channels you had came in clearly.
– We had rabbit ears on the TV that you encased the ends with aluminum foil to get even better reception.
– We had to reference the TV guide for what shows were on TV.
– We had CB radios in our cars and houses.
– Yelling to get someone into the room to change the channel because you had no remote control and were comfy on the couch under the covers.
– Not having a VCR and missing your favorite show completely if you were gone. Oh, no hulu.com to watch it either.
– We had to watch commercials.
– We had a telephone with a cord, you can only go so far.
– The telephone had no hold button.
– We dialed the telephone, with a rotary dial. No push buttons.
– If your friends were not home, you just didn’t reach them. There was no machine.
– If your friends were on the phone, you just didn’t reach them, you got a busy signal. No call waiting.
– If you turned on your radio, you had to manually move the dial to your station. There was no scan or seek. Same thing in the car.
– We grew up with records and 8 tracks. Then came cassettes.
– We had to lock each car door individually, there were no power locks.
– We had to manually hand crank each window down and up, there were no power windows.
– There was no ABS braking system. You had to pump the brakes.
– There was no power steering.
– There were no air bags.
– There was no fuel injection – you had to pump the gas before you started the engine.
– There was no remote lock, you had to walk to the car and put the key in the lock and turn it. Then remember, no power locks? You had to crawl across the seat and unlock everyone else’s doors.
– There was no computers, internet, email.
– We hand wrote and received letters via the US Mail.
– We had to hand wash dishes, no dishwashers.
– We had to cook everything the long way – the stove – there were no microwaves.
– When we went out at 16, our parents had to know where we were and the phone numbers. We didn’t have cell phones to check in or receive calls. When we were not home, we were not home.
– We had to apply for jobs old school, by typing up a resume and hand delivering it or via US Mail.
– We didn’t have radar detectors.
– We didn’t have remote start on the cars, we had to walk to the car, unlock the door, pump the gas, start the car, and scrape the windows.
– We didn’t have GPS… we had maps. We had to read them.
– We could walk to the grocery store and buy 1 cent candy.
– I used an outhouse as a child when visiting my grandparents.
– We took pictures and had to wait until all 36 pictures were taken so we could develop them and see if the picture turned out worth a crap.
– We had paper books which we rented from the library that we used the card catalog to find said book.
– When we researched for a paper, we went to the library and used the card catalog to find books that we had to read to find supporting information.
– We didn’t have fax machines in our homes.
– We had black and white televisions.
– We didn’t have a Wal-Mart.
– We know what carbon paper is.
– We said the pledge of allegiance every day as school started.
– We had to flush our own toilets and turn on and off faucets to wash hands and hand crank the paper towels out.
– We didn’t have ATM cards. We had bank books. The teller would write down the transaction in your bank book.
– We wrote paper checks – no debit cards.
– Our typewriters were not electric.
– We didn’t have alarms in our schools.
– We didn’t have video cameras or cameras to take pictures at a moments notice.

But, we played outside, rode our bikes, watched cartoons on Saturday mornings, did our chores and we minded our manners so that we didn’t get spanked. We talked to grandparents on the phone and it was special. We made prank phone calls because there was no caller id. We didn’t have a lot of conveniences of today but we have memories.

Did I miss any?

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.

Overcoming Adversity

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I am sharing this for ALL my friends. I am a pretty positive person. I have goals and dreams, yet I have my own invisible medical combats fighting me all along the path to achieve those goals and dreams. This guy is truly an inspiration to me. Maybe he is stubborn like me, but I have always, always continued to believe I can achieve my dreams. I didn’t always believe in myself, but as soon as you reach the first milestone and you look back at what you have accomplished, wow, you know the next milestone is just within reach.

For me, it was attending college for the first time, and second time, then the third. I was an A, B, sometimes C student in high school. I didn’t believe in myself at that time. As soon as I graduated high school, I took Psychology with Dr. Bopp. Which is pretty funny since I am pretty sure in high school we prank phone called his house and sang “Unskinny Bopp” as soon as he answered. (For you young ins, that was before caller id.) But I let my insecurities down and I just enjoyed the class. I did my homework and I got an A. Wow… an A in my first college class. Then, I dropped out in the fall… I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I graduated, I didn’t have a goal or even a dream to follow, so I was meandering about aimlessly. Then, I got married and had two kids that I loved with all my heart. I knew deep down that in order to provide for them, I needed to get my rear end back in college and get a career. I took a leap of faith, as soon as Brian was off of formula I quit my part time job at Von Maur and enrolled full time at RCC for radiology technology which at that time was a co op with Springfield. I completed the classes – full time, while still taking on the responsibilities of being a mommy and all that entailed – through sickness and health. I maintained a 4.0 on a 4.0 scale. In fact, the hardest classes, Anatomy and Physiology 1 & 2, I scored more points than possible due to extra credit. Honestly in A&P 1, I missed very few questions, I flipping rocked it – broke the curve. I was a nerd… Sorry if you were one who dropped out, but for me, this was a reward for a job well done. You don’t get an A or a certificate for changing a diaper or mopping the floors. It was a satisfaction of knowing that I could DO IT! Then came the time for clinicals… in Springfield. After determining the hours of day care since both my kiddies were still too young for school, the lack of financial aid, I would be paying $250 a week in daycare without any income to back it up. So, I switched gears. I changed to looking at a bachelor’s in science. Then, I was again thwarted by the 5 math classes RCC required and I lost my focus and obtained a job in a law firm. Something that I never, ever thought I would do, but it was just as a secretary so I could do that. Ha ha. It was a legal assistant. I learned SO much from working there that I then took a correspondence course for a paralegal certificate. It was very interesting to me and I continued that same field until I discovered that I had Multiple Sclerosis. It was at that point, along with turning 30 that I realized – I don’t have any benefits at this law firm. I don’t have any paid leave if something were to happen. I don’t have an education to get me in another position, I am stuck unless I take action. And I DID. I looked into programs and found the PACE program at Millikin, the answer to my needs. One evening a week for almost 2 years and voila, bachelors in management and organizational leadership. I moved to working at a Fortune 100 then, now Fortune 50 company as a contract employee. The same month I graduated with my bachelors and was hired on full time with this company. And I just keep going, and going, and going. Much like this guy… my friends, it is inside of YOU. I could have gotten my diagnosis declared SSI and sunk into despair. Instead, I continued into my dreams and goals and I showed MS I was not backing down. Sure in the beginning it was hard to cope with the diagnosis, but after the first flare went into remission, I just kept thinking that I don’t know when the next will be, or if it will ever be, and I can’t stop my life for what might be. I must live it until I HAVE to stop. It has been almost 10 years since that diagnosis. Look at all the things I would have lost out on if I had just stopped and gave in? I have even connected with other MS patients and encouraged them to keep a positive attitude. They lifted me up by telling me that my story and determination helps them. They are the ones that encouraged me to share my story to help others, so that when they are diagnosed, they know that there is hope for them. That medicines are good, but no matter what you are facing in life, you can be your own worst enemy, your attitude most certainly determines your altitude. You can either settle for what you are given or you can show the world what you deserve. Look at this guy… no arms, no legs… yet he continues to overcome and shares that with people to help inspire them to overcome and achieve their goals. He is leaving a significant impact on every life he has touched… That is what this life is about, helping others, helping to make a change in the world.

This is Nick Vujicic. Take a look at yourself after watching this video. What can you overcome?

Kudos to the Kid

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Kudos to the Kid

I just got to give kudos to my son, Brian (aka Bub). When
we visited my grandmother in the nursing home, he got to sit by our
Grandma (on the right) and next to Virginia (on the left) who we
didn’t know. Now most 16 year olds would have either ignored her or
hightailed it out of there, especially when Virginia told him over
and over he was good looking and that he needed to stay there with
her. She held his hands, she kissed his hands, and she offered him
her dinner. He was very polite and courteous to her. He even had
conversations with her. Truly a proud moment for this mamma. I told
him that he really made Virginia feel special by giving her a
little conversation. At one point, an aide came over and was in awe
be aide she said Virgjnia never used her right hand, but she sure
was using it to hold Brian’s hand. What I really thought was good
was she asked him who he though was the most good looking at the
table. His response was, “I think everyone here is equally good
looking.” 🙂 I swear I saw him growing up before my eyes. Truly,
after being heart broken over my Grandma’s rapid decline, his
empathy and genuineness with Virginia touched my heart. Even though
Asperger’s is supposed to remove the ability to read social
expressions, it doesn’t appear to remove the ability to read
another persons heart through their eyes. Of course there were
plenty of other characters there. It’s almost as good as a soap
opera in a nursing home sometimes, and they were lively that
night!! But truly proud of Bub for giving Virginia good
conversation. ♥

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Like Sands in the Hourglass

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Like Sands in the Hourglass

I never was a fan of Days of our Lives, but I think that just about everyone thinks of that show when they hear the title of this post. During this move and unpacking box after what seems like never ending box, I have ran across so many things that have really brought back memories for me. Some of those memories had been buried by the sands of time.

I ran across a poem enitled, “Grandpa”. It was printed on a poster board and colored. I recalled this from hanging on the wall of my room when I lived with my parents. I read the poem and chills ran down my spine. I couldn’t remember if this was something that I wrote? As I got closer to the end of the poem, I realized that it just didn’t fit the timeline of my life. At the end, I had quoted the author, so I knew then that I had simply read the poem and identified with it. It’s funny how something that is written can invoke such feeling in your soul that you can actually live the words. The poem is about a girl who walks along the beach remembering her grandfather, who had passed. I have never walked along any beach with either of my grandfathers, but as my paternal grandfather passed away when I was only 6, he and I went many places in my imagination.

I ran across hundreds of old pictures of my family and friends. Even those invoked a mixture of feelings from within my heart. Happiness as I ran across pictures of my children as they were just little toddlers, while at the same time sadness, as those days passed way to quickly! Pictures and momentos of places we had traveled as a family, things we had done, and all the wonderful birthdays and celebrations we had together. Pride as I rifled through their report cards, sorrow that those days of receiving report cards for them are almost coming to an end. My daughter graduated high school over a year ago, my son only has 1 1/2 years left before he graduates. Again, the time just flies by far too quickly.

As I think about how they have grown, I reflect back on my marriage – we will celebrate 20 years in February. What a milestone. So much change has happened in the last two decades, it really just blows my mind at what we have accomplished. From living on bread crumbs raising babies, to realizing we needed to improve ourselves through higher education, supporting each other as we each went back individually for our bachelor’s degrees and together as we both studied for our master’s degrees. It wasn’t easy and that sure didn’t seem quick, but we jumped through the fire and over that candlestick. And through that hardship, we instilled in our children the importance of following through with college directly after high school to pursue their career goals. It is too hard, too much time away from your family when you attempt it backwards.

Through these 20 years, we have endured happy times – the birth of both of our children and, sadly, the loss of many wonderful family members. After I think of all these times, both happy and sad, I look at all the blessings of people – family, friends, and co-workers; careers – we both have jobs that we thoroughly enjoy; accomplishments – awards, anniversaries, pride, and love. We have been blessed with reliable transportation (I sure hope that doesn’t backfire on me tomorrow – literally), three dogs (even though 2 are a little bit weird), a house… no wait… a home. So many blessings that over run my heart with joy so that the only thing I can do is to be thankful for everything in the last 20 years. Every single occurrence has happened for a reason by some divine force and has created the person that I am today. I know that the future holds many more happy and, unfortunately, sad times ahead for me. I will embrace each one, as I know that they are going to make an impact on me. The impact, it gives will truly be up to me and how I react to the situation. I can play a victim, or I can be a heroine. I won’t come out and directly tell you which one I will do, but I will give you a hint… I am never going to give in, I will fight with everything I have… I am no victim. (Ok, so maybe that was more than just a hint. In case you didn’t read between the lines, I could not knowingly lead you into the rest of your life wondering which one I would use.) You have to make your own destiny my friends, If it is to be, it is up to ME! And I will leave this poem that I found in my grandmother’s things after she passed away with you, as I felt that it really sums up how this dance down memory lane has made me feel. 🙂

Another Blessed Day

Each night before I close my eyes…and into dreamland stray…I thank my God for giving me….another blessed day… it matters not what came to be … or how toilsome the hours… I place each bygone day among… my treasured field of flowers.. whatever comes or goes I know… God does it for the best… and so I must be equal to… the weight of heartache’s test…for life on earth is just a breath…a fleeting plaintive sigh…a prelude to eternity… that swiftly passes by.. So I am more than grateful for…each day God lets me live…in silent prayer I fall asleep…may God my sins forgive.

I wish each of you a blessed day.

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.