Upside Down

My dad is still in the hospital recovering from his surgery. From there he’ll go to a rehab facility to receive physical therapy as it’s been so long since he’s walked even a single step. But for now the concern is feeding him. He hasn’t eaten in 12 days according to my mom. Everything is in small steps and that’s ok. I wouldn’t expect things to suddenly be back on course so soon after such a surgery.

I feel as though someone took my world and turned it upside down. Like there we were going along just fine and there it is…cancer. And the worry that comes along with the word “cancer”. Because it’s not just a single word; it’s what “stage?”, are lymph nodes involved? and what does that mean? Google is not your friend. Pathology reports seem to take forever. And when the reports are ready do you really want to know what they say?  Of course you do. But there’s that part of you that doesn’t.

This song by Casting Crowns sums up how I feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dad

 

My Dad. He’s definitely one of a kind. I remember being at least 6 years old going to the store for him with him waiting in the truck outside. “Get me a six pack and a pack of Pall Malls”  I remember the counter being taller than me and sliding the 5 dollar bill across saying “this is for Walter”. Nobody would bat an eye in those days. Unlike today…

Growing up with my Dad wasn’t always easy he ended up with cirrhosis of the liver and that put an end to his Schaeffer drinking days. It also changed his disposition and attitude. My Dad became a lot more fun to be around. All my guy friends liked him and when we were teenagers my friends and my Dad would joke about eating all the “good cookies” from his private stash.

My Dad was a truck mechanic and by the time we (my brother, sister and I ) started driving there was no shortage of various cars my father would pick up from a friend here and there. My first car was a 1976 Buick LeSabre. A tank!  I loved that car, loved it! But the engine blew and well, bye Buick. There wasn’t a shortage of cars we were instructed to “drive the cars to the ground.” You know the saying the shoemakers kids go barefoot. Well the mechanic’s kids drove not so great cars. I’m aware of the irony here. But we lived and had many memorable car experiences to say the least.

My Dad always was and is quick with a joke and a smile. He never fails to find the humor in any situation and as a result people like to joke around with him. My husband and I are still close with a few of the guys from high school and they still joke around with my Dad. They’ll also have more “adult” conversations and that’s nice too. I find myself in that same balance with my Dad between joking and seriousness. He likes to tell each of the three of us “Well you’re my favorite” when another isn’t around. We all laugh and nod…uh huh.

It seeems the older I get the more I appreciate my parents and the more I see them in me.

 

 

 

And Poof! She’s 10.

It’s summer so it’s time for yet another one of my kids’ birthdays. The birthdays start in April with Lelly and peak in July (Thomas, Tommy and Alyssa) and end in August with  Samantha. Samantha’s due date was July 31st with her arrival being August 1st.  When I was pregnant with Samantha and she didn’t arrive on the 31st, my sister said she wanted her own birthday month.

I won’t say I can’t believe Samantha is 10. I do believe it. Being the youngest of all my children she’s probably the one I feel most present in her life. My first 3 children were closer in age to each other and with the added stress of undiagnosed Thomas some things are a blur with the older kids. Thankfully they have great memories and love to share things that happened when they were younger. Things that I seriously don’t remember. Not bad memories, just the opposite; happy times or silly things they did and my reaction. I do wonder if it’s the meds or the stress of the past that screws with my memory.

So she’s 10. Twelve  years ago I was getting over 2 miscarriages and wondering if I’d ever have another baby. God was so good.  The biblical meaning of the name Samuel is “God has heard” so it was only fitting that I named her Samantha. God did hear me and answered yes. When I learned we were having another girl I immediately thought, “no big deal we already have experience with Alyssa and Lelly”. Ha! Samantha is not like her sisters at all. She definitely walks to the beat of her own drummer preferring video games to dolls and challenging her teachers and authority figures. Things her sisters would have no part in when they were her age. Samantha was in the principals office when she was in pre-k!  Oh my gosh I wanted to die. What the heck?? Yes Samantha is definitely her own person.

I remember after I gave birth, Thomas was 10 years old. My bff said, “OMG when Samantha is 10, Thomas will be 20!”  That seemed like eons ago. And here we are. Thomas is 20. It’s amazing how fast and excruciatingly slow time can pass all at the same time. I hope to be present for the next 10 years not just for Samantha but for all my kids. They are all amazing people.

My own little world

We celebrated Alyssa’s birthday the other night by going out to dinner at a local family owned Italian restaurant. After dinner we walked the boardwalk of one of our local beaches. It was Tommy and I, the girls and Alyssa’s boyfriend, Sam. We had such a great time and it occurred to me that I always wanted our family to be almost it’s own entity. Our own little universe and world. The other night I realized I’ve got what I always wanted, or rather I’ve always had what I always wanted. My world begins and ends with my family. This is the way it should be.

I think back to when I was younger I didn’t recognize this wonderful group of people as being my whole world. I felt claustrophobic in dealing with Thomas’ issues and the way he was. I wished for a more “normal” family/world. I was envious of other families and wondered why was mine the way it was?  I never looked to change the girls, they were wonderfully typical (by girls I refer to Alyssa and Lelly, this was before Samantha was introduced to our world). I was fortunate that I found a wonderful online support system to help me with Thomas. And I’m even more fortunate that I’ve been able to meet just about every single person of that support system in person. Most recently, I had lunch in Manhattan with my dear friend Wendy who was in town from California.

I believe our “worlds” are fluid. People moving in and out. Even family members choose to drift out much to our disappointment. However, I don’t often believe the fluidity to be intentional. People move in to our lives/worlds for an amount of time and they move on. The only constant in our own universe consists of the core and we all know who our core are. The other night on the boardwalk I felt like we were our own bubble of family. Minus Thomas. The times I feel the most complete as a mini universe is when we’re all together. And I look forward to him moving to this group home so we can be complete more of the time.

 

Saying Thank You

I recently wrote a thank you note to my doctor. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that or rather the first time I ever felt the overwhelming “want” to. It’s not to say I haven’t had great doctors in my life but this one saved my life.

This doctor is my psychiatrist. I chose this doctor when I was in the middle of a horrible depression. Horrible. He listened to me, asked a ton of questions and was never  surprised by my answers even though *I* was surprised by my answers. And to have those answers be true… No. I wasn’t supposed to be in there in that spot.

I adamantly refused medication with the exception of an anti anxiety med. A mild dose that worked wonders for the anxiety but did nothing for the depression. I carried on like that for a couple of months. After a while I couldn’t stand the way I was feeling anymore.  We then discussed antidepressants. And I started my roller coaster of med trials and dealing with side effects, some more troublesome than others.  This went on for 2 years. Some meds did work for a while then stop or peter off. Some I had to give a full trial time of about 6 weeks only to report back that there was no effect good or bad. It was a crap shoot I felt.

It wasn’t until March 2015 did he finally hit the right combo and added an antidepressant I hadn’t trialed before. My mood was great I hadn’t felt like myself in so long I welcomed myself back. I can’t tell you the awe I felt to actually be in a good mood again. To not be a anxiety riddled depressed shell of a person.

My husband noticed that I was “happy” and I was/am. I joke and laugh with my kids. I can laugh at myself and I no longer fill my head with horrible untrue statements.

I say that I chose this doctor but in truth he was chosen for me. Dr. L was originally treating my son and I adored him for Thomas. When the crap hit the fan for me and I really needed a doctor, I chose Dr. L. He was put in my life,  in my path for a reason. Not soon after he was treating Thomas did Thomas go to residential school.

So today I wrote Dr. L. a thank you note. I thanked him for believing I would beat the depression when I didn’t believe it myself. I let him know I’m in such a better place right now and it is because of him.

 

And just like that…

And just like that today my boy turns 20. What’s sweet is that I have friends who remember me pregnant and remember my son when he was born. My husband and I have a good friend who is a big guy, we’re talking 6’3″ approximately and he’s no skinny drink of water. When we brought Thomas home from the hospital and Thomas would sit in that bouncy chair, our friend would pick up the whole chair with Thomas in it to see him. I’m guessing he wasn’t comfortable holding a small baby. It was so funny and the memory still  makes me smile.

And just like that my son was this happy, smiley baby. I love to think back and remember what he was like before the proverbial crap hit the fan. Before all the doctors and specialists, trips to Manhattan, MRI, CAT scan…When Thomas  and Tommy and I were our own little family. Optimistic and happy and close and together. Because Thomas was such a good baby we took him everywhere. I remember my inlaws were dying to babysit but I wouldn’t leave him, I never felt I had to. Thomas made me grow up. He made me a mom and me made me an advocate. He made me who I am today.

And just like that my son grew up. He went from baby to toddler to little boy, and so on. He wasn’t an easy child to parent but we did the best we could with what we knew. Tommy and I weren’t perfect I’ll never say we were.

And just like that Thomas is 20. He’s still easy going in his own way and when he smiles he makes you feel like a million bucks. He’s still teaching me ways to grow and I’m still learning.

Waiting on the group home and social media…

It’s been over a week since we visited the group home. We are now waiting, praying and hoping Thomas gets in. I haven’t heard anything from anybody. Nothing from the agency director and nothing from the pushy guy from the state. I guess no news is good news. I know for certain we won’t hear anything until God feels it’s time for us to know. I’m a firm believer in God’s timing. His timing is perfect and always *right*. This isn’t to say I’m not worried or anxious, I am but not in a frantic way. If Thomas doesn’t get in to this group home there will be another one out there that will fit him and us perfectly.

I’ve been reintroduced to Twitter. I started an account a while ago when I was selling at flea markets and such but then stopped. I have a handful of followers and that’s fine. I started following my daughters and their friends…haha! Should be interesting. I’ve also reintroduced myself to Instagram. I’m “Nayaudo” on Instagram if you’re so inclined to follow me. All this social media, whew! I finally feel caught up, a little.

Life is good. Still full of bumps and bruises here and there but overall good and I’m glad to be here. Scored some awesome finds at the thrift, that’s always a good thing. I’ve finally discovered my happy place, well one of them anyway. You guessed it the Thrift store. I don’t worry about anything when I’m there. I know I’ve written about this before. I just concentrate on the thrill of the hunt, what am I going to find? OHMYGOSH is that my size?! Just a sampling of what goes on in my head when I’m there. Every now and then I’ll text my daughters asking them if they want something I’ve found. Today I sent my Alyssa a picture of these awesome red jeans. Lucky brand no less and in my size! But…I had no idea how to style/wear them. Alyssa sends me back a pic of a woman wearing a black and white striped shirt and a black sweater over the top with you guessed it red denim. Low and behold I was able to copy the exact look at the thrift store. I’m thrilled and Alyssa got a good laugh and tweeted about me. One of her friends called me a queen. Love them, lol!

So here’s to hearing more about the group home and more awesome thrift finds!

Happy New Year

The end to another year. Another Christmas flown by. I rarely reflect at the end of the year. But this year I will.

I think I had a good year. For the first time in a long time I started getting back to “me” again. Feeling like myself, laughing with my kids. I started a new to me antidepressant back in March of this year and that was the final catalyst to enable me to feel better. I no longer feel like the depression is right around the corner waiting to get a jump on me. I can laugh and joke around without feeling false. It’s nice.

We also had an awesome time on vacation this past summer. We rented a large vacation house with two other families (the first time we had ever done that) at the Outer Banks, North Carolina and it worked out really great. We all got along and everyone just chilled. I was able to hang out at the pool for 2 solid days straight. I haven’t hung out at a pool being that carefree since I was a teenager. It was sweet.

This fall flew by I feel; literally.  It seems as if school just started and here we are at the end of 2015, almost half way through the school year. Alyssa graduates high school this year and that blows my mind a bit. We discuss colleges and went to visit a few. She wants to stay in Manhattan and that’s cool. I can’t blame her, I love Manhattan. Daniella started high school this year and I’m happy for her. She had a less than great time at Junior high and really needed the change. She joined the swim team and really enjoyed it. She loved the camaraderie of the team and competing at the meets.   Definitely a year of change for the better for her.

And finally Christmas of 2015. It was a nice enough Christmas. Thomas was home and was quite high maintenance. It was overwhelming to be honest. The girls and Tommy had a great Christmas, my parents came here for dinner with my niece and nephews. We had an unbelievable dinner of rib roast and lasagna. It was Tommy’s idea to have the rib roast and he totally hit the nail on the head.

The day after Christmas I took the tree down. It was drying out and needles were flying off everywhere. Besides as far as I was concerned Christmas was over. I still have the nativity out and that’s all that really matters anyway.

I’m looking forward to 2016 with hope. I’m due to be starting a bible study in January for Mom’s of special needs children and I’m really looking forward to it. I hope I’m a blessing to others and that the Lord uses me as he sees fit. More of Him and less of me.

So I wish everyone reading this a very, very Happy New Year!

 

Stitches and Moving

A week from today Tommy and I will have been married 20 years. No matter how many times I think about it, it still blows my mind. I think about our beginning years and having Thomas so early in our marriage. Then Alyssa exactly 2 years later. All in all it’s been 20 years, 4 kids and 3 houses. Amazing if you ask me. There were many arguments and tears along the way as well as much happiness and blind loving trust. Plenty of prayer.  A friend recently told me that Tommy and I are an anomaly. I laughed at that statement. Maybe we are. Especially with all we’ve been through with Thomas. I was thinking this morning about Thomas and the rough times. I was also thinking about the times of God shining through those rough times. There was one instance that Thomas fell flat on his face literally. (His reflexes are slow so if he falls forward his arms don’t shoot out as fast as yours or mine do.) Thomas broke his braces, his front teeth and required stitches on his upper lip and chin. When I saw him right after he fell I had to hold on to the bathroom sink to keep me from falling due to my knees going week. It was bad.

So off to the ER we went. And the staff there was wonderful to him and me. I managed to get a hold of our dentist and orthodontist who gave me instructions and were also wonderfully supportive giving me their personal cell phone numbers in case I needed them again. We decided not to wait for a plastic surgeon and the ER doc stitched Thomas up after numbing the area. I remember I was crying on and off for Thomas. I felt so bad for him. At one point I was holding Thomas’ hand and he was looking up towards the ceiling. He had a peaceful smile on his face and when I looked into his eyes I swear I saw the peace of the Lord. Thomas’ face was shining. I’ve never seen that peace in someone’s eyes before and I haven’t seen it again since. It was as if he just knew everything was going to be ok and everything was ok. The ER doc did a great job in stitching him up and the next day we saw the dentist and thankfully Thomas didn’t break his teeth far enough to require root canals. Our dentist was able to repair his teeth with bonding.

It’s time like these I know the Lord was with us. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday Thomas told me he saw an angel watching over him while in the ER. I know we’ve had many times in these past 20 years where the Lord certainly had his hand in watching over our marriage. When we moved back here from New Jersey I swear there was “something” working against us. There was roadblock against roadblock placed in our path during the sale of that house. Earlier that summer we had bought a storage shed for the backyard. According to the NJ inspector the shed was too close to the property line. So Tommy had to get all these guys from work to come over and move the dang shed. The inspector didn’t even want to measure the distance afterwards, just a glance and said, “Its fine”. I was so irritated I insisted he measure. The buyers pretty much demanded our refrigerator. It was not in the listing at all. They started threatening to cancel the sale if we didn’t include it. Somehow our agent smoothed it out that we were able to keep the fridge. And we didn’t even have a traditional closing. We did it separately where the buyers met with their attorney and signed the papers then Tommy and I met with our attorney to sign.It all culminated to an end where we had no house to go to for 4 days after the closing of the New Jersey house. Somebody dropped the ball and we to this day don’t know who. Luckily we had multiple family members who let us stay with them until we closed on the new house. But the Lord was watching us and got us out of the great Garden State. I know that.

So being married for almost 20 years I can say I’m definitely not an expert on relationships. And I wish I had pearls of wisdom to depart. I only know what I’ve lived and what our family has experienced and born witness to. 19 years and 51 weeks of marriage. Pretty cool.

Signing papers

I received a packet of papers from Thomas’ school via the US mail today. There were various consents forms I have to sign every year giving my permission for Thomas to receive various medications and treatments as needed. It struck me today that I’ll always have to sign for him. Tommy and I are his official legal guardians. (Side note: no one bat an eye when we took that baby home from the hospital without any sort of training or guidebook, but good gravy we were finger printed and background checked to be his guardians after the age of 18…) Tommy or I will always have to give consent for Thomas for one thing or another, or…will have to advocate against a situation or two hopefully not in the near future.

Alyssa is looking at colleges. She’s 17 years old and by the time she goes away to the college of her choice she’ll be a legal adult. The cord will be cut and it will be final. I’ll have no legal leg to stand on if I disagree with her decisions. It’s such an odd comparison between Thomas and Alyssa. When they were small the chasm between them was not that wide. I mean we knew Thomas had issues and that there was something wrong with him we just didn’t know what and had little to no help in finding out what that was at that time in our life.  To go from remembering them both as young preschooler and toddler to now acknowledging the adulthood of both of them. One on one end of adulthood and the other on another end of adulthood is a little hard to digest some days.

It started this afternoon when the mail arrived and I realized what Thomas’ school had sent me. I filled out the blanks and signed where I was supposed to sign. I called the nurses to question a medication change but all in all it was pretty uneventful except for the tug on my emotions that this is something Tommy or I will always have to do. Approve or disapprove decisions for Thomas.

Not soon after dinner Alyssa was talking to me about colleges and dorming (she is determined to dorm and that’s ok). I enjoyed our conversation. She’s worried about the financial aspects of certain colleges and we discussed that and other fears she has surrounding getting accepted to certain schools. I wanted to tell her to keep praying on it but I was interrupted by Samantha.  I will tell her tonight to keep praying to God about the colleges. To give it to Him. He will make a way when there is no other.

I have an interesting spectrum and definitions of adulthood here in my little family.