Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lift Me Up, Momma

It was said in such an every day tone of voice, full of confidence that of course I would lift him up. He needed up, and that's what Momma does. But it hit me with such force. I experienced that blinding moment of clarity that shakes you to the core.

"Lift me up, Momma." Such a simple concept. That is my job, my responsibility, my privilege. I am to "lift him up." We've always felt that our role as his parents was to make him a self-sufficient adult. But there are a lot of theories out there on how to do that. Some people advocate attachment parenting. They co-sleep, they practice child-lead weaning, and they see no need to go somewhere without their children. They say that they are making sure that their children are confident, that they will know their parents are always there for them. Other people go the other direction, Cry It Out, sleep in their own room from day one, let them learn that they can wait, etc. They say that they are teaching them self-reliance.

I'm not saying that either one is good or bad. I've done aspects of both. Both of these parenting styles are working towards the same goal. The same one that I'm working toward. A self-sufficient adult.

Finn clarified it for me the other day. My job is to lift him up. He has to learn to do so much on his own, and I can't do it for him. I have to let him do it. But, I can be there for him. I can guide him, I can encourage him, and when he needs it, I can lift him up!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

You'll have to forgive me for the long drought. For those of you that know me, it's been one heck of a summer. At some point, it will all come out, but I'm starting with one event. Actually, I'm not even starting with the event. I'm starting with the aftermath. The event happened. The after is where we're at now.

I've always known that I can be an idiot, that's not much of a shocker, but it hit me again a while ago how I was completely looking at something the wrong way. The end of July, my sister, June, had several strokes. She's out of the hospital, she's home and going through therapy. I was torn in my thoughts between she's going to be fine, and she's never going to be the same.

As an aside, at that last comment, I can only say, Duh! I'm not the same person I was last year, or the year before or 15 years before. None of us are, so that shouldn't have bothered me in the least. But it did. I worried for her and I worried about her. Mainly I worried if our relationship would be the same. Again, as if our relationship had never changed. Given how bitterly we fought, man, I'm glad it changed!

We spent a weekend at Mom's recently. She had gone down to get stuff from Grandma's house. We unpacked boxes of stuff in the garage. There were so many memories that came out of those boxes. We remembered where they were in Grandma's house. June and I remembered where they were in the houses on Margaret street, and Chris and Rhonda remembered where they were in Texas. June had a lot of memories to share of where things were at Grandma Great's house. We talked about how some of the things you didn't actually remember until you saw them. I think that's a great description for some of what June is going through right now. There are a lot of things she doesn't remember until she's reminded in some way.

There came a time in the weekend where there was something she didn't remember. It was very upsetting to her. We talked together for a while about it and what the doctor's had to say about it. This particular memory may or may not come back. I wish I could bring it back for her. I wish I could remember it for her. But, I can talk to her about it. I can tell her my memories of it, and maybe sharing other people's memories will help her.

See, I worried about not having the sister that remembered the things we shared as children. I thought that meant she wasn't going to be my sister. That's where I was the idiot. As if remembering those things make her somehow more or less my sister. Heck, I can do the remembering for both of us. She remembered the Haunted House, the Spirit of 76 parade, and our circus performances. She remembered that Finn had brownies for his birthday instead of cake. What makes us sisters isn't the memories. What makes us sisters is simply that we are. We always have been. We always will be.

I am a bit nervous for Christmas. There was this weird thing that we do/did at Christmas. I can't remember how long we've been doing it, but if we are in the same house Christmas morning, we get up at a ridiculous hour, think 3 or 4 in the morning. We make coffee or chocolate, we curl up in front of the tree, and we talk. We talk about our kids, our husbands, our hopes, our fears, our dreams, whatever we want. We're generally slowly joined by our husbands and siblings, and even Mom. It's such a peaceful, relaxing time. I don't know if I'll be at her home Christmas night, but I'm hoping we are. I don't know if she'll get up that early. (I could make sure I make enough noise to wake her up, but that seems a bit like cheating!) But here's the deal. We're adaptable people. If we don't get that time in the middle of the night, we'll find some time to sit and chat. I've noticed that it's not just Christmas. Somehow at every gathering, I manage to find some time where it's just the two of us. And that's time that I treasure. If our Christmas tradition changes, well, it's a good memory, and now we'll be building a new memory. One that we both share. There are enough people that will be missing this Christmas, so I'm pretty darn thankful that my sister June, isn't one of them.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A quick look

Every now and then I get down. It happens to all of us. This weekends happened at a hockey game. I'm willing to bet you are all shocked by that! Friday night the announcer names the person singing the national anthem. I don't remember his name, but what I do remember is that he was a 4 year old boy. He walked out in to the arena and sang the anthem. Well, as much as a 4 year old can sing that song! He knew the words, he wasn't phased by the feedback from the sound system in the first few lines. It was no problem to hear him, he didn't miss a beat. There were a lot of notes he missed, but nobody cared. He was given a resounding round of applause when he finished. People were smiling and laughing, agreeing that the team didn't dare lose with that kind of an anthem!

I confess, I had tears in my eyes. But they weren't from pride in that little boy's performance. All I could think of, as I watched in stunned amazement was what a difference our life was. Our 4 year old was at home, happily playing with his sitter. Not because Mom and Dad needed a break, we had looked forward to sharing our love of hockey with our little man. But he can't handle it. There are too many people, too much going on, the crowd is too loud for most of the game, and the horn sends him in to panic attacks. Despite a full year of speech therapy and impressive progress, he's still at least 20 months behind his age for speech. Sure, I can understand 90% of what he says, but not everyone spends the amount of time talking with him that I do. We wouldn't have been able to get him out on the ice. We don't go on the ice the times we've been there, and that kind of change takes time for him. Twenty to thirty minutes of time on a good day. He wouldn't have understood the concept of what was going on, and why he was supposed to sing. Had we gotten him on the ice, he most likely would have taken off, giggling and laughing, and shouting, "slippery Momma, slippery!" as he ran and slid across the ice. The crowd cheering and applauding would have driven him back in to our arms.

Saturday was Senior Night. Now, for years I've avoided that night. To stand there and watch moms and dads walk out and be honored for their contribution on this night was too much. Knowing we would never be there. We would never have a child to take pride in his accomplishments, to see them take the floor for the last time. We wouldn't have the first time, how could we have a last time. So I stayed home Senior Night. Then we got our miracle. I haven't made many Senior nights still, but now it's because I'm busy raising our own son. This was only the second one I've made since Finn was born. But we were talking about it on the way to the arena. In all likelihood, we still won't be attending Senior Night. Not just because hockey is unlikely to be on our list of sports because of cost and time commitments. Any team sport is unlikely to be in our future. But optimism was already raising it's head. It might not be hockey, but it will be something. Despite everything, at some point we will be able to stand there and nod at each other and smile, because "that's our son!" It might be Cross Country, it might be Eagle Scout, it may be the winter concert, or even graduation. There are a lot more parents that don't walk out on the ice for Senior Night than there are those that do.

The final weekend of the hockey season seemed to be nothing but a bunch of reminders of what we don't have. When I think about how many years I thought we'd have nothing, it seems churlish to be disappointed about the things we won't have. There are so many things we do have.

We have Finn. This wonderful, energetic, funny, frustrating, beautiful, mischievous, helpful, destructive, loving boy. Over five years since we learned that I was pregnant. That was a Christmas to remember. Seventeen years of infertility, three separate doctors and differing attempts to have a child, leading to acceptance that it wasn't going to happen, and then that amazing day. Not surprisingly, 5 years later, thinking about those first days too much can make me cry. All through that pregnancy I asked over and over, let him be healthy, let him be healthy (despite everyone that "knew" he was going to be a girl, I was positive it was a boy) let him be healthy. And he is. We have the occasional cold, one nasty bout of stomach flu, and seasonal allergies. But he's healthy and growing. Sometimes I wonder if I should have been more specific. Because autism isn't really a health issue. It can create some, but we seem to not have those issues. Finn was recently given an educational diagnosis of mild to moderate autism. It affects our lives in a lot of ways. But, when I really think about it, when I really look at what parts of life are important, I know that it doesn't matter in the least.

What matters is that right now, right this minute, there is a small boy cuddled up against me. He's watching Oomi Zoomi, and cuddling with his favorite blankets, his brand new,(chosen by him) racing flag pillow, and momma. What could Senior Night have that compares to being ranked amongst your child's things that make him feel safe?

February - a bit late

Well I didn't finish all of January's goals. Most notably I'm missing a couple of blog posts! But I did finish the vests, and the tupperware cupboard is still looking good. You might also notice that February is half over already, darn that short month! So here we go:
1. Blogging. since we're already halfway through, I'm going for 4, including this one.
2. Sewing - I didn't finish the tablecloth, or get the sewing room straightened out. To be honest, that's on the list for today! At least the straightening/organizing. Once that's done, I won't be surprised if I'm feeling a bit inspired to do some sewing.
3. Purging - and not food. Part of my plan for the sewing room is to bring up some storage stuff. I need to accept that I'm never going to finish all those half done projects and get rid of them. They are cluttering up my house, and my mind.
4. I ordered Chewies for Finn last night, so this one is done. To be honest, I kind of lost it when he chewed up another shirt so badly that I can't let him wear it any longer. To make it worse, it was a baseball shirt. When given a choice, he wants Thomas, CARS or a baseball shirt. Baseball shirts are not easy to find this time of year. So to the I went last night.
5. Give up Soda - ok, we know this is a process, but I'm down to less than 1/day. I think that's pretty good. Today I've had about 1/4 c of my diet Coke. (Yes, Ronda, I'm giving up the nectar of the Gods)
6. One "fix up the house project." I'm not sure exactly which one I want to do. I think it's too cold for the staining of the door frames. I know I'm not prepared financially or emotionally for redoing the floors in the living room/dining room or the wallpaper. But maybe, the stain on the trim of the countertops, or repairing the hole in the stairwell would be doable.

I've also been talking about Blogging about Finn, but I'm not sure where to start. The 17 years of struggling to accept not having a child. The shock/joy/terror of finding myself pregnant at 39, or the diagnosis of autism. It can't all go in to one post, and I think people would get sick of it if I talked about him all the time! I will say, he's adorable. He was worth every minute of my pg, and I wouldn't change a thing about him, even though I might say I wish some things weren't such a struggle, to change something would be to change him and I'm not willing to do that!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Resolutions: January

I decided that trying to change an entire year at a time was a bit overwhelming. So at the beginning of the month, I set myself a few. We're about 2/3 done with the month, so I need to figure out how to get the rest in yet!

1. Blog 5 times.  This one I'm going to have to hustle on. This is one, and I just published one on the store blog. So three left to go before the end of the month. I think I might blog about Finn for a bit. That could fill a lot. I love talking about my son.

2. Clean my tupperware cupboard. I finished this one! I was pretty happy about that. Everything has a cover, or a bottom, that matches. The odd strays, and ones that just aren't sizes I use, are in a bag. They'll go in next years garage sale. Probably a freebie box.

3. Sew the vests for Scott. I'm done with all but one. I'm still waiting for the lining material for that one. Scott needed vests for his employees. He needed the first group by Jan 1st. I had the rest of this month to get the other half done. I was pretty happy with this one. I needed to make my own pattern for the largest size one. I think it looks pretty good, and most importantly it looks a lot like the ones I had a pattern for. That's kind of important when it's a uniform.

4. Sew the remaining two portable bean bag games I have materials for. This is a pet project and I'd really like to get them done up. I don't want to just sew them. I want to write down the pattern and instructions. I think they are a pretty good idea if I say so myself, so I want to share. If this goes well, there may be more crafty stuff showing up in here.

Those were my goals. I still have a bit to do, but it's not unrealistic. I did get a bit sidetracked this month. We bought a dining room table, and I had to make a tablecloth. Train tracks and a 4 year old will scratch that up in a hurry! I used a piece of material that was just hanging around, so it was a win. I got to use it, and I freed up room in the storage container for more material! I also started working for Scott. I'm just filling in right now. He's got an employee out for surgery. But I have to tell you, after a year of sleeping in until whenever (generally 8,) getting up at 4:30 am to go to work is a bit difficult! But there are some nice benefits. I get a brisk walk in the morning. The first thing I have to do is go to the top and walk the ramp down to the booth. I'm looking for garbage, graffiti and vagrants. I have no clue what I'll do if I find the latter! Plus counting the cars. Then I can sit in a nice heated booth with a computer for the next 5 hours. It's mainly people coming in to work, so the first several hours are generally very quiet. I go online and do my editing for work. It's been really nice. I get a lot more of that accomplished without my helper. Then I play on facebook or babycenter. I need to hit the library, I think. I read a book that someone had left there, but I'm done with that now.

So the plan is to blog a bit about Finn, and a check in at the end of the month. That leaves one more blog, maybe a second one about Finn, he's worth it. I'm hoping that the material for the vest gets dropped off tomorrow so I can finish that. That leaves me a lot of time to finish the bean bags. This is doable. Of course, I need to start thinking about February's goals as well.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fantasy Football - a brief draft history at Paddy's Game Shoppe

We run a couple of Fantasy Football Leagues at the store.  We started the first football season that we were open. There were 10 of us. We were going to run a keeper league, so even this first draft was going to be important.  I went in feeling, well, unprepared. This wasn’t a completely new world for me. I’ve been playing ESPN’s fantasy games for years. The big difference being, none of those games were drafts where we were going to be competing for the same players! In the games I was playing, if everyone wanted Tom Brady for quarterback, you had him.

We had some white boards to write draft picks on. Which lasted about two rounds, and then they were full. Many times someone picked someone, only to find out they had not heard when someone else picked them. These days, we have Commish kits from Big graphs with our team names and logos (yes, we have logos!) and bright, color coded stickers with the players names on them. No more desperately trying to spell Houshmanzadah (?) or even BenJarvius Green-Ellis.  Troy who?? Pala –what-a? Now I just have to remember if he’s a wide receiver (white stickers) or a running back (green) only to sheepishly start digging through the yellow stickers to find him. Who takes a tight end in the 1st round??

Well that year, it was my Uncle Glen, and laugh at his strategy all you want. He took Jeremy Shockey in the first round of the expansion draft. I do have to admit that his next two picks, Tom Brady and Randy Moss, probably had more to do with his winning the championship that year than Jeremy Shockey did. But it stands in the league annals. The guy that took a tight end in the first round, won the championship.

In the six years the league has existed, we’ve never had a repeat championship. Five years, five winners and last year, it was me!  We have both An individual trophy and one that stays at the store. That way past winners have proof for their trash talking at the draft. Which is all part of the fun. The groans and moans and snickers as the draft continues. We actually have two of them. We have a Dynasty league and we have another league. That league has changed format and will be an interesting draft next year. Each person will be deciding how many they are keeping, but it’s only going to be revealed round by round.  I can’t wait to see how it plays out next year.

The end of the year, we have a party and watch the Big Game. You know which one I mean. The one in February, the one that comes with all the new commercials. We have snacks, and play games during the afternoon. We eat pizza and watch the game.  At half times, prizes and trophies are awarded. 

We have a lot of fun during the year. We chat online during the games. We sweat out scoring changes. We prowl the free agents. All for a silver trophy and our name on the plaque.  And the bragging rights. You can’t forget the bragging rights. Did I mention that I won last year?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sorrow and Joy

This has been one heck of a month.  It has had it’s ups and downs, and unfortunately, we are ending it the same way. We started the month with my getting hired for a full time work at home position. That was great! I’ve been unemployed since October and while I love being home with Finn, it was time for me to go back to work. Now I get to work at home, and see him on and off the bus every day!

Then we were burgled, burglarized? I’m not sure of the term. I know it’s not robbed, because we weren’t at the store. I’ve been informed that’s the difference. I’m not really hung up on the term right now. Someone broke in to our store and stole stuff. That’s what really mattered.

We had our Fantasy Football Draft on Saturday. That was a lot of fun. I got to spend the day with several members of my family, while the first draft happened. Then dinner with the family, and then I was in the second draft. I have to say I’m pretty happy with my draft. I was the league champion last year, and I think I had a pretty good draft.

But that was overshadowed by the worst news of the month. Our fellow card store owner, friend, and darn near mentor when we opened, Keven Schafer, was battling pancreatic cancer. We got the news on Friday, he was diagnosed last Monday. On Friday he was in the hospital and they were talking Hospice programs. To say we were stunned is an understatement. How could this be? Kevin encouraged us when we opened our store. He helped us find cases to hold the Magic cards. He helped us get shelves to hold the games. He helped us get a base of common and uncommon cards so that we had something to sell. He was always ready with advice and support. If you know Kevin, you know that came with a smile, a grin and a laugh.

Saturday night at dinner, Uncle Jerry got the call that they were going to take Kevin off life support.

That was it. Monday he was diagnosed, Thursday/Friday he went in to the hospital, and on Saturday, he was gone. I hate cancer. It was about fifteen years ago that my Grandfather H lost to stomach cancer. Five years ago, weeks before we found out I was pregnant, it claimed my father-in-law with colon cancer. Last year it took my cousin. A bright, beautiful, 17 year old young woman with her entire life in front of her. Colon cancer and brain cancer claimed her. I know it’s claimed many others, but those are the ones that stand out right now. And on Saturday, it claimed Kevin Schafer. Let me say it again, I hate cancer.

He was 54 years old. He loved sports. He was the most outgoing and friendly guy you’d ever meet. He remembered people and really seemed to enjoy everything he did.  He is going to be missed by everyone who’s life he touched.

In a month of up’s and downs, the last day of the month will be no different. Late Wednesday afternoon, we will go to open house for Finn’s preschool class. We’ll meet his new teacher, we’ll see his locker, and get excited about riding the bus again. We’ll rejoice as Finn is mainstreamed this year and we’ll anticipate the progress he’ll make this year. Then we’ll go to Kevin’s funeral and mourn the loss of our friend.  So ends August, joy and sorrow, as life should be. We’re just getting a closer look at those moments this month.