Tag Archives: children

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.

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There is no “ï” in “Team” But There Must be “Team” in Your Child’s IEP

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I will start with a *Disclaimer – I do not lump all people, all educators into this blog. It is not meant to insult educators. It is meant to highlight a parents perspective on the strides that educators will go to help children. In my experience some are below par and some are going above and beyond. The thoughts on how we are failing our teachers and our children are mine. That said, I think that when people dream about being a teacher, they think about how funny kids are, how eager they are to learn and summers off are a plus, but we all know that they don’t get into it for the high pay. Believe me, I do not feel that our tax dollars are well spent in this arena. I know I would not have the patience to deal with kids and feel that those that do, thus they should be paid a mint. And I think colleges that have education degree programs should prepare teachers for all students – high IQ, low IQ, special needs, accomodation and a class in the benefits of an IEP as well. I don’t think that they do that very well, if at all, which is a shame for both the teacher and student as both could be far less frustrated. That is a whole nother soap box and not the point of my blog today. And my other concern is the fact that people trained to recognize these issues are not allowed to tell parents due to the HIPPA act. This act is more of a pain than anything else, again, a whole nother soap box. Any how, they don’t understand up front that not all kids learn the same, not all kids learn easily, not all kids are “normal” (what ever that is). Some kids learn extremely fast and become bored with the material and some need introduced to the material in multiple learning formats (visual, audio, hands on, etc.). Some kids need structure, check lists, common processes to be successful. And some kids require a special level of learning styles that they normally wouldn’t implement. Teaching any grade level is not easy, it is sometimes very much a challenge and requires assisting those children sometimes more than others.

So, any how, to move to the real purpose of my blog is to share my frustrations as a parent that had a very intelligent child that needed the additional tools to succeed in getting good ‘grades’. So, this is my experience and may not mimic yours. When the time came for Pre-school screening, I was excited and sad at the same time – my youngest was growing up. Brian had been in day care and social settings, but didn’t really interact with the other children, he was very much self entertained. Which, by the way, is not necessarily a bad thing – I grew up as an only child, it was a necessity. However, when I had an opportunity to play with other children, I took it! He didn’t test well for pre-school. He very much had a fear and screamed when within a certain spatial circle to people he did not know. Even though I sat with him and held him, he didn’t know the proctor and screamed bloody murder throughout the entire event. I gave up, obviously pre school was not his calling. And amazingly enough, he learned some new skills and coping mechanisms besides screaming at strangers so that by the time he was set to start kindergarten, he was ready. Well, so we thought. Hand to eye coordination was difficult, so use of scissors was challenging for him. Another issue was that he didn’t favor one hand over the other, so he used them both, which caused him some confusion as his brain would switch over from giving instructions from one to the other. This we worked on. I didn’t force him to be right handed. He chose to write with his right and eat with his left. His kindergarten teacher was very frustrated because he struggled with the simple things – he didn’t understand lining up in a boy girl line to go to the bathroom. We told the teacher that we didn’t do that at home, so it is new for him. 🙂 But her main complaint was that he didn’t pay attention, he didn’t follow the conversation with eye contact, he didn’t pay attention. Since we didn’t notice him lacking in any of the lessons of the day, we told her to call him out on it when she noticed it. She did and to her surprise, Brian repeated, verbatim, the last 3 sentences she said. At this point, she changed her teaching strategy with him and the rest of the year was pleasant for us all.

Between Kindergarten and first grade, Brian read all summer. We were shocked when the first grade teachers (it was a co-taught class) said he couldn’t read. Well, we told them that he read all summer, but they said he couldn’t read when asked to in class. This little turkey had decided he didn’t want to be called on to read to the class, so he opted to pretend he couldn’t read. One day, they paired up for math story problems. There were several in the class that had problems reading. Brian was paired with another little boy to complete the problem. When they were done, each pair read the problem (if they could, otherwise, they shared how they interpreted it) and gave their answer. When it was Brian and his partner’s turn, Brian knew the other boy could not read, so he started reading the story problem and the teachers were elated. Brian had the eyes of a deer caught in headlights… the jig is up. They contacted us and said, “He can read!!” Of course we weren’t surprised at all, we knew he could. I for one found it very interesting and comical that he had pulled off his ‘inability to read’ that far into the year. A true indication that stubbornness truly does run in my family. 🙂 So, the cat was out of the bag, he can read. During his first grade year, we were offered speech services for Brian to help him as he had difficulties in spatial questions – Who, what, why, when, where and how. If you asked who, he would tell you when or where.

As we went from each grade to the next, I would meet with the teachers to discuss things that I notice in Brian’s learning in order to help them understand how they can help him. Through many, many parent/teacher conferences, we noticed trends that affected Brian the most. The WORST class room experiences were not in the lessons, it was in the structure of the class. The simple things – rules to follow, a schedule. The teachers who gave the expectation to turn in your work before you sat down, was good enough for him to note, and do every day. The teachers that varied between passing it up to the front, handing it in at the beginning, then at the end, and sometimes when they got their book out for the lesson. These were awful! He never turned in his homework. It was done, he was overstimulated by the surprise that he would forget where he placed it, etc.

Brian attended this school from Kindergarten to Fifth grade. We moved the summer between fifth and sixth grade as I had had far too many parent/teacher conferences that went absolutely no where. The IEP goals were created and ignored by the teachers. The IEP conferences were not attended by the speech therapist, the teacher, the principal, counselor, other services as it should be a collective environment to share in the child’s progress. We had one meeting with all, but for the most part, it was us and the speech therapist. For all those parent/teacher conferences, I could tell beyond a shadow of a doubt which teachers were caring and which ones found him to be a nuisance. First of all, they would contact me with a constructively detailed concern and looking to meet with me to resolve. They were looking for my help. Second, they would actually meet me before school started, I did not have to leave work to accommodate their “prep” period. And third, they would actually take to heart what I told them and involve me in helping him be successful. This school never once offered up resolutions that included them tutoring on a one on one basis, they just wanted to claim ADHD. Poo on ADHD, it is not the answer to everything.

His fourth grade year, we had been contacted on a daily basis in some form or another with a list of grypes from the teacher. One or two of the teachers mentioned learning disability testing several times, but my husband was against the testing for learning disabilities, he didn’t want to put Brian through that. But we talked about it and I told him, we have to be able to help him. I need a good resolution, instead of stumbling through every year. I knew that there had to be something that I could do to help him. I scoured learning disabilities on the internet, I finally came across something called Asperger’s – high functioning autism and it described him to a “T”. So, during fourth grade, I requested the learning disability testing and was told to go through my pediatrician. So, I did. As I discussed the issues, (and this is why I love this doctor) he got really upset with the ADHD reliance. The entire time we were talking Brian was sitting quietly, being good. He had this pediatrican from the minute he was born. The pediatrican then gave me the rights as a parent – if the school district is requesting it, they need to perform and pay the costs of same. Further, the Dr. said, “he does NOT have ADHD or ADD” and noted that in his file. I then shared Asperger’s Syndrome and he asked a series of questions and agreed it was a possibility. He gave us a referral to a psychologist. This took some time, as all of the school records and medical records were sent to the psychologist for review. This was referred in the spring of his fourth grade year and our appointment was the following fall. From there, we requested him to go through the testing for disabilities. Much to my surprise, we were denied the testing because he was “an average student” per said fourth grade teacher that contacted us daily. And she shared that we were taking him to a psychologist for Asperger’s determination. Of course the board said no, they didn’t want to pay for testing and it was their way out. Really? I was enraged!! Apparently “Average” is D’s and F’s and a C or B thrown in? It became painfully obvious to me that this district that I graduated from had lost sight of what was important – educating children. It is just sad first of all, to be competitive in the job market, the economy, we HAVE to start putting the expectations in education of our children. I believe that I told her and the principal face to face that if that was this school’s expectations from its students that instead of diplomas at high school graduation, they may as well hand each one a McDonald’s cashier application, as they would be lucky to get that with the poor education they were given. Because who will be running this country when we are in nursing homes?? They will! So give them an excellent education. This was a very emotionally enraging time for me as a parent, as a graduate of the school district, as an American, and as a human being. Second, if he is average, why were they calling, emailing and scheduling conferences to grype about how they can’t figure out how to teach him. I asked her straight up, “Do you do this type of correspondence with all of your other ‘average’ student’s parents?” To which, in true politician style, she back pedaled. OF course all this would be done during the school day, because 1 minute after the buses departed, they were outta there, the school was locked down. Very convenient for people who work a town away to leave mid day. Especially those that work in a cruddy office environment that expected you to make up every single second or take vacation time to do so – again, whole nother soap box. I appealed to the superintendent many times who refused to do anything because it was a “building specific” problem. Gosh, I thought he was the boss over all the schools?? I don’t think he had a clear understanding of his position, with the exception of when pay days were. (I still haven’t figured out what his job was and quit trying since we have moved.) We had it, the teachers were not helpful, the kids were unaccepting (he had one friend and many, many bullies, because the school tolerated it) so we made plans to move to another school district. A plan that took a whole year to implement, but well worth it.

At the IEP for the beginning of fifth grade year (where only the teacher and speech/social work teacher showed, I told them that he had been dx with Aspergers and poo, double poo on HIPPA because the speech teacher (God bless her, she made the most improvement on him over all) said, “I have suspected that from the first time we met.” Really? Because of HIPPA, she couldn’t tell me – if she could have referred me to a specialist it would have saved us so much heartache and really helped us to guide him better. She was truly the only thing I missed about that school district. Their culture was poor, there was no accountability, and all the people that I had been able to rely on assistance had retired 3 years prior. The WORST three years ever, by the way, as far as our children’s education goes – even my daughter was having ridiculous issues.

So, at the new school, we visited prior to the school year started. We were cordially greeted by the custodian who showed us to Brian’s new classroom. Along the way, she took great pride in her work, detailing how it was a mess right now, as every year she removes all the furniture from the class rooms and cleans ceiling to floor, including the walls, shampooing the carpets, etc. This to me was a sign of great things to come, as at the old school, the custodians would rarely ever look at you, let alone greet you. We met with the principal, who had reviewed Brian’s file already and had positive suggestions and ideas. We met with his 6th grade teacher before the first day, she was new too. She was excited and bonded with Brian very quickly. This was a very comforting feeling because I knew with Asperger’s the power of change was very unwelcome to Brian. He never liked the new school year. However, she was very empathetic and willing to go the extra mile to determine what really helped him. He never had an issue with changing schools, moving, which was a great relief. She highlighted his strengths to the other students and made him feel successful, she investigated papers that had missed 90% of the questions. She found that he was taking the directions too literally and when she applied his outlook, the answers would have been correct. So she took the extra effort to help him see what the instructions were really looking for. She contacted me a few weeks into the school year, not to gripe, but to express her concern over Brian’s troubles in math. She asked if we minded if she tutored him after school two days a week with a few other children. What a blessed day!! It was then that we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that moving was the absolute best decision we could have made. Brian felt like a champion, he made friends and the overall culture of the school was different. When we went to the first junior high open house, Brian had so many of his classmates saying hi to him and they had even nicknamed him, “Briguy”. So heart warming for us as parents to know that they made him feel like he belonged.

During 6th grade, the social work/speech therapist and I met to discuss Brian. When we discussed certain services for the autism spectrum disorder, she said that he was not eligible for them because the prior school district never gave him that label that would entitle him to them. I was enraged. So, in 6th grade, we completed the autism spectrum tests and paperwork to correct this issue. If you have ever taken these tests, they are full of questions like, “When child was 18 months old” “When child was 2 years old” “When child was 4 years old”. As so much time had passed by, many of the questions referenced things that aren’t in the baby book, activities, preferences, but my husband, daughter and I completed the best that we could. In fact, my daugther and I answered the question, “Does the child rock back and forth” with a no. I got up to put clothes in the dryer and out of the corner of my eye, Brian was working on the laptop, hands folded between his knees and rocking back and forth. So many of these actions had become a ‘norm’ for us that we just didn’t see them any more. I shared this experience with my daughter and we just kind of laughed at how we overlooked it. It is amazing the things you notice when you are asked if they happen. Since there were a couple of Asperger’s children, and the speech and social therapists were not too familiar, the school district sent them to a conference on autism and Asperger’s syndrome and they came back with all new ideas and strategies. It was a very ecstatic moment for us as parents to see the lengths that this school district would go to help its students achieve.

My wish is that all schools would go to this length. As teachers, educators, principals, etc., please remember that it is not always the algebraic equations that affect a child’s learning, sometimes it is just the culture and schedule of the class room. Being consistent may help improve some of the students that seem to be “unteachable”. Don’t write them off, spend a few minutes with them and get to know what makes them tick. They have so many strengths that other kids can really admire if you highlight them. Brian wasn’t picked to be in groups at first but once the teacher highlighted his intelligence and superb memory for facts and data, he was one of the first few chosen after that.

Don’t pass them to move them on to someone else, don’t fail them because they don’t understand the questions. Mainly because there may not be a someone else that will take on the challenge. They may all take the same road too and that fails these kids. These kids can all be successful in life, they just need someone to take a moment to believe in them, show them what they are good at and how to overcome their weaknesses. And if you are a parent in a similar situation – this is what I have learned. I should not have stopped at the superintendent, I should have attended every school board meeting and voiced my concerns as a parent. Talk to other parents, do they have the same issues? Get them on your cause, often parents don’t want to raise an issue because they feel that they are the only ones. And if that doesn’t work, I am just going to say that we lost money (thousands) on the sale of our house, but it was worth every dollar. In our new district, we gained time. Time not corresponding with teachers daily, not visiting the school to straighten things out, less time being angry and upset, less bullying (it is not tolerated there) and more importantly, I was relieved and delighted to know that my kids were cared for as people. When they were hurt, when they were doing good, when they were doing poorly, in all aspects, this school was in it for the education of the kids and that my friends is truly priceless.

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.

Life in the Fast Lane – New Parents should Buckle Up.

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Life in the Fast Lane – New Parents should Buckle Up.

Regardless of how much you try to enjoy life, it seems to go 300 miles per hour after you turn 18. I always heard that as I was growing up, however, when you are in school counting down the days to graduation, it goes on forever it seems. But, they were right, once I turned 18, it seems like my life has been a whirlwind. From waiting to graduation, I have gotten married, had two children, gained new family members through weddings and births as well as lost some due to death.

Now that my daughter is turning 18 in a few short months, I reflect back at the last 18 years, which truly seems like weeks ago. I remember vividly finding out I was pregnant and the pain with bone movements associated. I remember labor and delivery, especially the delivery. I can see this little baby sleeping in the baby swing and being awoke to the sound of rewinding it. It was so noisy! Then came crawling and eating people food. I remember how she loved peas, but her father and I did not. I gave her all the foods that I didn’t like because I wanted her to get a taste of everything.

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She started walking, running and then we had to get rid of the pacifier – oh my, that was horrible. I remember this little 20 month old girl with little blonde pig tails screaming, stomping and crying she wanted her “nanniefire”. But she couldn’t have it because it was causing her to get a rash around her mouth. That lasted about a week, then she adjusted.

It was such a joy to see the world through her eyes. One time, we got a really heavy snow when she was 3 years old.  When  she looked out the window she said, “Oh my! Pepaw made a mess!!”. I don’t know why she blamed my dad, but it was just hilarious.  Another time, she picked up a Polaroid camera and while directed at her, she hit the button, the flash went off and a picture came out. She ran to my mom and I and said, “It scared me so bad I almost peed my pants.” I saved the Polaroid. It was her first “selfie”.  🙂  Then she started school, made friends, did dance, gymnastics, learned how to read and write. She still was Mommy and Daddy’s girl. We were so proud of her. She cared about her friends and loved ones.  Especially her baby brother.  He was born just a week before her third birthday.

Baby number 2 on board!

Baby number 2 on board!

A few years later, when we went to the visitation for a grandfather of one of our friends, it was a good time to introduce her to the world of loss. When we entered the funeral home, she asked, “Why is that man in the box?” and I told her “Well honey, he died and went to heaven to be with Jesus.” And she just responded, “Oh, my, bless his heart.” She had never met this man, but still felt compassion for him. A very proud moment for parents.

I wish that we could have been at home more during their childhood.  Instead, she watched her dad and I both return to college to obtain our bachelor’s degrees, then our master’s degrees. Although that took us away from her and her brother, I know that this will instill in them the importance of education and making a solid plan for your future earlier in life as opposed to later. The one thing that I would change if I had a “do over” would be to finish my education so that I could focus all of my attention towards raising my family. But, we know that we can not do that. I do believe that did instill in her the importance. She is already planning on continuing her education at the local community college to become an Radiologist Technologist. She expressed that interest a few years ago and we worked to get an opportunity to job shadow. This is one thing I pressed hard for. It is one thing to have a plan to further your education but what a downer to get into the career and learn that you hate it. She observed two full days of different types of radiology, a very good experience. She has taken dual credit classes her senior year and work study to prepare for college.  Again, a proud parent moment.

What is the point in all this rambling? Well, if you are a new parent:

– Hold close the memories, big or small, that your children provide you with. Even the rough times, they can make you smile and proud.
– Take every opportunity to spend with your child. You have them until they are teenagers, then they start to sprout their wings and are no longer in need of your guidance, most of the time.
– Don’t be so quick to move forward. You always hear that you wish they could talk, then you wish that they would be quiet. Well it’s true to an extent. You want them to grow up and become a little person, but they grown into an adult faster than you want.

Literally, I feel like I have turned around, or blinked my eyes, and both kids went from toddlers to adults. So proud of the people my kids have become, but yet, still long for the little kids that came running to the door, so excited to see me and give me a hug. They are still in there somewhere and before long, they will come to us to ask us questions again. I think all kids do. 🙂