Marching to the beat of your own drummer.

Our oldest child, Thomas is 24 years old. It’s mind blowing some days and yet other days it’s perfectly normal for us to have a young adult son of this age. My own age blows my mind. I’m 50. There I said it. I don’t know how or when that happened…Seriously. But there it is. I don’t know if I look my age or not. Some days I think I look younger or rather I feel younger therefore I must look younger right? I keep my hair short and many days I wonder if the short hair ages me, makes me look older; who knows.

Samantha, our youngest child is 14 years old. To me it’s pretty wild that there is a 10 year difference between Thomas and Samantha. Eight years between Samantha and Alyssa. I remember when Samantha was younger, Alyssa adored her. She would take her out of the crib and give her breakfast and I would sleep in, it was glorious. I never had so much help when everyone was young at the same time.

People used to say to me when Thomas was young, “little kids: little problems.” I hated that. They didn’t know my son and that he/we had a little kid with big problems. I must say that the girls: meaning Alyssa and Lelly never really caused any problems; big or small.

Samantha on the other hand…man. I don’t know what to say some days. I am truly without speech. She gives me a run for my money. She’s the complete opposite of Alyssa and Lelly, is into video games and skateboarding and she’s a sneaker head. She definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. And I’m ok with that. I had to come to terms with the fact that she’s not a girly girl. That’s all I was used to with my older girls. Hair, clothes, manicures, getting them to NOT touch their own eyebrows, its ok I’ll have them waxed or threaded for you. Whew! With Samantha she’s into clothes but her own style of clothes. She loves sneaker shopping or even just sneaker window shopping. Oh and she likes going to the thrift store with me. She’s developed quite an eye for picking out the good stuff. That’s my girl!

People and Their Stories

Everyone has a story in their life. Whether it be something joyous, traumatic, heartbreaking or an event that has changed them forever. Working as a vaccinator, giving people the Covid 19 vaccine by injection these past 2 weeks had been a pleasure let me tell you. Everyone working the POD (Point Of Distribution) has been great and very helpful. There are designated leaders, a tech leader, vaccine leader and an overall POD leader. We even had a wonderful physician there yesterday to lob questions off of when unclear situations arose.

Yesterday this gentleman sat down at my station. We were waiting for the doctor as I had some questions concerning prescription meds this man was taking and the vaccine. While we were waiting: out of no where this man began telling me about his now deceased wife. How she died of breast cancer. He told me the story straight without breaking down and I was amazed at all he went through; that he loved so very much, still loved her. How he took care of her and was just there for her both physically and emotionally. It was truly a testimony of love and a testimony to marriage; “in sickness and in health.” After he finished talking the doctor became available and we cleared up the questions and I gave the man his vaccine. Before he left to go home he stopped by my table to show me a picture of his wife. She was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t cry yesterday but I feel teary eyed now retelling the story.

There was also a male client who told me he had an autistic son. I told the client I also have a special needs son in a group home and that Thomas adjusted very well to living in his group home. The man said they had a similar situation; his son adjusted wonderfully as well. He was quiet though, but not in a bad way, more like a man of few words quiet. And that was fine. I am always amazed at what a small world we live in and that you never know someone’s story until they invite you in. Yesterday I was privileged to be invited in to hear people’s stories.

Being a Vaccinator

Last week I was able to receive my first of two Covid vaccine doses. I had no qualms about receiving it, and I had minimal side effects just a mildly sore arm for a day or two. This past Monday, one of my nursing coworkers asked me to come to one of the local high-schools that is a “POD” (point of distribution) for the Covid vaccine. As an RN, I would be a vaccinator. Add that to my resume. I had to be vetted/background checked before they let me work. So I was asked to go home in order for the people in charge to speak to those higher up and it might take a while. They called me to return to the high school a few hours later to begin work.

The line of people registered to receive the vaccine is at least a block and a half long outside the school. It wraps around the back of the school where it ends inside the building in one of the main entrances of the school. The people inside still have to make it across the cafeteria to yet another line where they are then divided out to available nurses aka vaccinators to receive their dose.

After waiting for a couple of hours outside in the cold, people are so happy to see a nurse ready to give them the Covid vaccine. You would expect some grumpiness or sour attitude especially after a long wait, but no. I receive nothing but smiles and relief to be sitting at my station. The giving of the injection itself takes about 2 minutes. But I don’t rush anyone; most people want to talk a bit, and that’s ok. Then there’s the taking off of the outerwear and getting me access to their upper arm where the injection is given.

I have been having such a pleasant experience giving Covid vaccinations. The people working there have been nothing but nice; asking what do you need, what can I get for you? PPE is provided and so is dinner. What more could one ask for?

They’re All Different

Tommy and I have four children. They were all pretty much planned we know the biology of it all. Sometimes I think people assume at least one child was a “surprise” because we have over the average amount of kids that most of our friends have. But no, not the case. I used to get a kick out of people counting them when we were all out in public together. It was amusing on one hand, then at the same time it was a little irritating, I mean 4 is not an outrageous number. Now that everyone is grown and independent it’s not often that we’re anyplace together as a family anymore. The last time was over the summer when we got together with Sam’s grandparents and my mother for Alyssa and Sam’s engagement.

I find it somewhat interesting that my children are all so different. Thomas is a category all his own and the girls are more or less typical human beings. Thomas has a flair for being dramatic about things that happen in his life and has also been known to attempt to lay guilt trips on Tommy and me. We don’t entertain that behavior. We had ridiculous difficult decisions to make concerning our son when he was growing up. Decisions no parent should have to make and we did what we thought was best. I don’t regret what we decided; none of it. Thomas can also be very entertaining and sweet and just a nice person. I think he takes after Tommy in those respects.

My girls…well in my girls I see a total mix of the two of us. However each of the three of them have completely different personalities. I don’t think any of them look like me, the only semi exception would be Alyssa and some of Samantha. They both have fairer skin than Tommy but they tan beautifully in the summer. If they aren’t careful they could burn. They tan through sunscreen, like me. I am fair yet I tan. I also see my natural hair color in Alyssa. My natural color is maybe a shade lighter. I used to have very dark blonde/light brown hair. Alyssa has beautiful brown hair and red tone highlights. What she doesn’t get from me is the amount of hair on her head nor the thickness of it. I have thin, regular amount of hair.

My Lelly totally takes after Tommy looks wise in my opinion. She has more of his olive skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes. All my kids have light colored eyes. Mine are blue and Tommy’s are green.

It’s funny when Lelly was born my father in law, Chick was holding her and staring at her and said that she looked like his mother. Unfortunately Chick didn’t have any pictures of his mother. Sad. But I think it’s pretty cool that she looks like someone I’ve never met or even know what they look like. I know it made Chick very happy.

Personality wise I can’t say with complete accuracy who takes after who. Alyssa doesn’t like conflict and tries to keep peace around her, Lelly makes me laugh. She’s very funny and will tell it like it is. Thomas understands sarcasm so it’s fun to joke with him, and Samantha can be very serious and then be very fun. I can talk to her, she’s a great listener and when she’s in the mood will then be a great talker and you realize she can be very deep.

I like that they’re all different, it’s just amazing that they are as different as they are. Same gene pool, same parenting environment, same house! Go figure.

Grief

A friend posted words about grief on Facebook yesterday.

I took a screenshot. I had to. I don’t believe I’ve read anything about grief that was truer than this. I think about my dad who went to be with The Lord 3 years ago this February. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I’ve talked to him. I don’t think I’ve gone through the complete stages of grief for him because I can’t talk about daddy or write about him without crying. I have no idea if that’s “normal” or not or if there even is a “normal” when it comes to grief. A couple of months ago I had a dream where daddy and I were together and we were talking. I don’t remember what we were saying but at the end of the dream he held out his arm towards me and hugged me. It was amazing. I know it was him coming to me within a dream for whatever reason. He looked healthy and younger than he did when he passed away. It was so so nice to see him. Every now and then I’ll see a blue cardinal or some sort of striking blue bird at my kitchen window. It will make a commotion until I see it, then the bird stares at me for a few minutes. I’m afraid if I move it will leave so I stay and stare back. The bird then flies away before I can get to my phone to take a picture. I’ve told Tommy about the bird and we aren’t sure if it’s my dad or his dad coming to visit. I truly believe it’s one of them.

New Year 2021

It’s New Year’s Day. I know we are all more than happy to bid 2020 a firm goodbye and good riddance. It’s pretty exciting to begin a new year. New attitudes, new ways of looking at things, new ways of dealing with situations. Some situations never change; year in year out; the same thing that makes you stop and say, “hmmm, again…again?”

I’ve decided to not make any New Years Resolutions. I have made decisions. I have decided to realize what is and what is not within my control and act accordingly. Take the freaking fracking bio chem class. The whole thing was within my control. It was up to me to take advantage of the help that was offered and I did and I worked hard and I finally passed the class. It was all due to decisions I made and stuck to.

It’s my decision to continue my nursing education so I can be an even better nurse than I was before I began the bachelors degree program. I’m looking forward to finishing the program so I’ll be able to take advantage of nursing opportunities that require a BSN. I’m not looking to leave the Dept of Ed anytime soon, I love working where I am and I love my students. But to know I am eligible to take advantage of other options is priceless.

I have some deep decision makings concerning my son. Thomas will always be mine. I say that with such conviction because I never want it to be mistaken that just because he doesn’t live with me he is less than mine. As a person with special needs he will most likely always be “mine”. The girls will all hopefully marry. They will still be my flesh and blood but they will no longer belong to me. They will have their own families to attend to and have children that will be “theirs.”

Thomas was not pleasant to be around this holiday season. We’ve decided he won’t be staying over at our house next Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. Today my heart hurt for him and I called his home to wish him a Happy New Year. He apologized for his actions on Christmas Day, I accepted his apology and then he hung up on me. That hurt. I did not call him back. I have decided I’m not playing into his drama. He might be special needs but he’s smarter than most give him credit for. He knows it’s rude to hang up on me and I will deal with that behavior when I’m ready.

So here’s to a Jesus led, prosperous, drama free, productive, smart decision making year!

Bachelors Degree and Bio Chem

I announced on Facebook to everyone that I passed Bio Chemistry. It was my last class this semester and I passed with a day to spare within this year. I’m proud of my self and annoyed all at the same time. I began the class in July, and was supposed to end at the end of August. But I failed the final in August. This class was hard man. And my brain doesn’t/wasn’t working in the manner bio chem needed it to. I’m used to memorizing what I need to know and then apply the knowledge as needed. Nope not this class. It was like my mind was like a sieve and the words and definitions just slipped on through and nothing I did stopped it.

I began online tutoring sessions with these wonderful and very patient course instructors. There were countless times I would just say very bluntly, “Ok you lost me!” Lelly said she wouldn’t want to tutor me because I was rude. I wasn’t rude; I was getting my point across. Otherwise the instructor would keep going on and I would be even more lost had I not stopped him. I had endless homework assignments from the course instructors and I pushed on through. It wasn’t like any nursing class, like you can explain your actions and interventions with evidence based practice. In Bio Chemistry there are all these new terms and definitions and cycles, things that work better in an acid environment and those that need a base environment. Ughh!!! And I’m finished with that! I passed!!! Oh happy day 😊!!

Special Needs

It’s far from a secret that our oldest child, Thomas is special needs. He is not autistic, a question everyone asks since that is probably one of the largest populations of special needs persons. Thomas is verbal but speech impaired he does have a disorder that causes the speech impairment but to be honest I forget the technical speech pathology term it’s called. He isn’t that hard to understand if you just listen. Thomas has other diagnosis’ that affect his behavior. The one that impacted Tommy and I the most was when we were told that Thomas has “static encephalopathy” which essentially means he has brain damage that won’t get worse and won’t get better. We were not given a cause of the brain damage. We were told it could have happened while I was pregnant, during delivery, we will never know. We didn’t find that out until Thomas was 12 years old. It wasn’t for lack of trying to find out what was going on or lack of specialists. There were some doctors that we saw; some that as God as my witness I don’t know how they still have a license: they were incompetent in my not so humble opinion. I would have had more respect if any of them said plainly, “I don’t know what’s wrong with your child, here’s a referral”. That’s pretty much what Thomas’ main psychiatrist did. He could not explain all of what what going on with our son so he referred us to an amazing neurologist. No one (especially no other neurologist) was as thorough as Dr. Arnold Gold, neurologist extraordinaire from Cornell Hospital, way uptown in God’s country Manhattan. He gave my son such a neurological exam the likes we hadn’t ever seen before. Between that exam, taking an extensive history from us and studying CT and MRI reports, this doctor knew what he was talking about.

When you put Thomas’ diagnosis’ and special needs aside he’s sweet and funny and affectionate and pretty happy. However there are times he’s not so happy and sweet. I’m not talking about, “well not everyone is in a good mood all the time” scenario. I’m talking an extreme bad mood where he curses, blames everything that is wrong in his world on me and will raise his hand to me. I have been hit by my own child. I’ve not hit him back ever. I think that’s one of the most difficult things ever in my world I’ve had to deal with; that my son has hit me. I am not going into all the details. I still defend him, he’s still my son, still mine. And will always be.

I guess my point of writing this post is to uncover what is hidden and not often talked about; by me anyway. It’s easy to see my son in pictures on Facebook and love that he’s so happy. He has an awesome genuine smile. Believe me I am thrilled for him to be happy. God has given my son many gifts. One of which is resilience; the ability to adapt and adjust to change. If it weren’t for his resilience we wouldn’t have been able to get him the help he needed when we exhausted all the avenues we ran through during the times when Thomas lived at home.

I adore all my children. However it’s my girls who have shown me the “typical life.” Through them I have been able to experience the good, bad and sometimes difficult parts of parenting children without special needs. Thomas has shown me one world and the girls have shown me another. I think I’ve gotten the best of both.

Christmas with the kids

It’s so different when your children grow into adults/adolescents to celebrate Christmas. It’s sweet and beautiful when they are small, the wonder in their eyes that Santa had came! You and your husband are admiring that look at a very early time in the morning. It’s amusing that the presents you so carefully chose and wrapped and placed artfully under the tree are opened in a matter of minutes and the there’s wrapping paper everywhere.

These days it’s still sweet and wonderful but in a different way. It’s also a little bittersweet as it’s the last Christmas that Alyssa will spend with us opening gifts first thing in the morning and waking up with us. I still enjoy watching my kids open their gifts even though most of them they’ve picked out themselves. I still managed to sneak in a surprise present here and there for each of them and that was fun.

These days Tommy and I wake up before the kids. Thomas stayed over last night so he could open gifts with us in the morning. It was a bit challenging because Tommy and I don’t talk to each other before coffee. And there’s Thomas; awake and chattering up a storm like you wouldn’t believe. We managed to make it through the chatter and each have a cup of coffee somewhat peacefully.

Everyone was very happy with their gifts. I’m so glad. I mean I know the real reason for the season. And without Jesus in our lives things would be so different. It’s amazing how God’s presence in your life changes you. I’m a sinner, very much so in fact. That’s why I need Jesus so very much. He came to us to teach us forgiveness and to believe in Him; for without the Son you cannot get to the Father. I never thought I would *ever, ever* be a “born again Christian” but here I am. I’ve accepted Christ as my Savior, allowed God into my heart and I’ve been born again just as the Bible directs. It wasn’t as easy as those 2 sentences but well worth the journey I’ve taken to get there.

When I think of forgiveness and when I struggle with that concept I remind myself that God forgives me every day for my sins so who am I to not forgive others? It’s heavy when you really give it thought.

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Holidays, School and Bio chem

Christmas is fast approaching, every year we are all so surprised at how fast the month of December flies by; or rather from December 1st to the 25th. Surprisingly I’m ahead of the f game for once. Believe me I’m as shocked as the next person. Yesterday I finished up Samantha. It’s a bit difficult to keep up with equal amounts of gifts for 4 kids, I feel like I’m constantly tying to keep up in my mind who I bought what for. I’m not complaining I enjoy where we are today.

Thomas has been so, so pleasant to be around. He comes over every Sunday. I know he’s a creature of habit and lives for routine but this morning he called asking me to pick him up earlier than usual, to have lunch at my house. I can’t today and he understood thank goodness. I’ve even talked him into staying over our house 2 nights. Christmas Eve which he usually does and also Christmas Day which should be good because we’re going to my moms to celebrate and this way we hopefully won’t have to rush out of there to bring him back. Anyway it should be interesting.

I finished and passed my nutrition class and I’m back to freaking, dreaded Bio Chem. I have a serious hate on for that class. My brain doesn’t work that way it just doesn’t. The course instructors have been wonderful in tutoring me over the phone and via zoom/computer but some of them are so darn perky and all cheerleady for me “to pass this class!” And I sound like such a bitch because I don’t have it in me to match their perkiness and rah, rah!! During one phone tutoring session the instructor totally lost me and I blurted out very plainly, “Wait! You lost me, totally lost me…”. Lelly was sitting next to me and she said after that she wouldn’t want to tutor me, that I was rude. I don’t blame her but I don’t think I was rude I had to stop him from going ahead or I would have been even more lost. So if you’re thinking of me please say a prayer that I pass this Godforsaken class once and for all.