Archive for December, 2012

Little Toe Socks inside Insulated Socks

emily

My daughter, Marie, was chosen for a special snowboarding program for students with psychiatric disabilities.  A team of trainers from a local mountain have donated their time, and the mountain has donated the snowboarding equipment to coordinate a comprehensive, six week snowboarding school.  Marie, who loves the snow, skiing and snowmobiling, was thrilled to be selected.

I was thrilled for her to be chosen, not only because it will be a great program for her, but because for Christmas it also gave me something to buy a child who “has everything”.  My husband and I visited a local winter sports store that had a 75% off sale because of a recent fire, (yay!  I love bargains!))  I delighted in choosing snow pants, little socks with the toes in them, which are then worn under insulated socks, little gloves with fingers in them which are then worn under insulated snow mittens, insulated underwear, (tops and bottoms, of course,) a ski face mask, a warm winter hat with a brim, and, most importantly of all according to my husband, a snowboarding jacket.  He explained that snowboarding jackets are much longer than ski jackets because you spend so much time on your butt!   I was delighted with our purchases, although I later realized that I had forgotten the ski goggles.  We packed them all up in a Christmas bag which Marie opened to great excitement Christmas morning.  To say she was thrilled was an understatement.  She beamed.  She glowed.  She was going to be a snowboarder.  At the end of Christmas day, we packed up all of her presents and brought her back to her residential school.

In order to add a little excitement to her Christmas vacation, I took her for a weekend in Boston.  After I picked her up, we stopped at a Panera Bread for lunch before we boarded the train for Boston.  I was so surprised, (shocked, embarrassed) that she was dressed in ALL of her snowboarding gear, such as in the above photo I took of her.  I told her to take the mask off or she would scare little children away.  She looked around and saw no kiddos running from her screaming, and she told me she was fine.  I was mortified, (which is not an easy feeling for me.)  The only thing I could be thankful for was the fact that I had forgotten to buy those ski goggles, because she would have certainly been wearing them, also.

While in Boston, we had planned to go to the Aquarium, but she asked to go ice skating instead, which made way more sense than the aquarium. (I could envision the fish swimming away from her in terror!)  Unfortunately, no one had given ME snowboarding equipment for Christmas, so I only had on a light winter coat.  My plans for the weekend were to run from metro stop to metro stop doing activities indoor.  I was dressed for fish viewing and shopping, NOT for the cold weather.    But, as most mothers can attest to, I wanted to make my daughter happier, so off we went to the Frog Pond Skating Rink.

Being a little bit unsteady on my own feet, I convinced her to skate by herself and I would wave at her every time she skates by.  That’s LOTS of waving, by the way.  But there was happiness in my heart because every time she came around the corner, she would search for me, smile broadly,and wave.

Marie then demonstrated what Angel had demonstrated on Christmas Day.  She started helping people!  She would look for a child, unsteady on his/her feet, and then she would skate backwards and hold his/her hands.  Around and around the rink she would go, sharing her skating skills to help others learn to skate.  Once the child was steadier on his/her skates, she would go around looking for another person to help.  Then, to my amazement, she went up to offer her assistance to a young man with a severe developmental disability.  His skates were turned inward, ankles almost on the ice.  She helped him stand up, and, with his hands on her shoulders, she skated backwards pulling him.  Because of his disability,it was obvious that he was not going to be able to skate independently with any degree of skill.  So Marie stayed with him for over an hour.  They both laughed and when he was called off the ice to go home, he hugged her and smiled.  He apparently could not talk, but she knew he was saying thank you.  She turned to find me, and with a big smile on her face she waved.  I waved back.

I froze that day…my toes were not covered by little toe socks and insulated socks, my hands were not covered little finger gloves and insulated gloves.  I was not wearing insulated underwear, or snow pants, or a warm hat with a brim, or even a snowboarding coat which would have covered my butt so I would have been warm. However, while my body may have been experiencing hypothermia, my happy heart was keeping me warm.

I Have Raised My Children Right in The Most Important Area

I am sure that every parent questions how they have raised their children. I know I have.  I have not been strict enough in making them eat all of their vegetables and clean their rooms, (mainly because I don’t eat all of my vegetables and clean my room.) I know to some people  this is a major parenting faux pas.  However, I have raised my children right in the most important area…caring for others.

I volunteer with a recreational group of adults with and without disabilities.  We have a bowling league, then go out to dinner together, then have an activity at night, such as Bingo, Family Feud, or a visiting musician.  All of my children have come with me to this group,  starting with Francis when he was a baby and the group purchased a portable crib so I could bring him camping with us.  My children have been raised socializing with people with disabilities so that any disability is not knew to them.

Angel, my son with Dissociative Identity Disorder, has been my latest child to attend with me.  One of his “peeps” (as his calls his “parts’) I call the Game Show Host.  Angel is the one who calls the numbers for Bingo, or reads the questions for Family Feud.  He is hilariously similar to a game show host, right down to kissing the female “contestants” during a game of Family Feud. From the minute he starts an activity to the minute he finishes, we are all in stitches laughing.  Silly laughing.  Innocent laughing.  Heart beating fast with cheeks that hurt from laughing laughing. He is terrific, and I am so proud that he has learned to manage his disability in order to make others happy.

The happiest moment of all happened on Christmas Day.  All of our family festivities are on Christmas even, and Christmas Day is always a lazy one for us.  In fact, the children and I usually go to the movies.  Angel asked if it was okay if he invited a friend to the movies, and of course I said yes.  When we got there,  waiting for us expectantly, was Lisa, a 65 year old woman with a disability; the “friend” which he had invited.  She was dressed for Christmas…Christmas sweater, Santa Claus earrings, a Santa Hat and bright red lipstick. She was glowing as she hugged us all.  It seems that she has no family and had sat in her apartment alone for Christmas Eve.  Somehow Angel knew this, prompting his request that she come with us on Christmas Day.

We all laughed at the funny movie, and enjoyed a large popcorn, (mmmmmmm…movie theater fake butter popcorn!)  After the movie, we went out to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. (Duh!  Chinese restaurants are open…)  We had a lively conversation about anything and everything funny, and she beamed the whole time.  When we left her outside at her car to go home, she burst into tears.  She thanked us profusely. She said she was so lonely at Christmas, when everyone else had a family, that she had contemplated suicide because she had no one.  She said this was her best Christmas EVER!  Try as I might not to, tears slid down my cheek also.  Tears of sympathy for her and of pride for my son…a son who is seriously disabled himself, but who was still able to find the ability to care deeply for the feelings of this wonderful, lonely woman.

Yes, I have raised him right…

A Hug Award; My Kind of Award!

I am not one to generally accept awards.  I am pleased to receive nominations, but I do not generally post the award.  I strive to stay level headed and an every day person.  (Awards would tend to inflate my ego and I may start to sound “uppity”, which is not in my nature.)

However ,Michele Kearns who has the inspirational blog Joy Returns, nominated me for a very special award:

hug-award1

The HUG Award© was initiated by Connie Wayne at A Hope for Today athttp://ahopefortoday.comwhich promotes hope, love, peace, equality, and unity for all people.

The HUG Award© is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they:  Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity; Hope for Joy and Happiness; Hope for Compassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith;Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation; Hope for Oneness

The HUG Award© recognizes and honors those who help keep hope alive in our current world, which is plagued by war, natural disasters, and economic recession.  They nurture hope, in any of the above areas (in italics),  by the work they do, or in their personal lives with things such as blogging, public speaking, charity work, etc.

The HUG Award© is for anyone, anywhere in the world, who meets the guidelines and wants to be nominated for the award. Please leave a comment on this page if you are interested in receiving this award, or if you would like to nominate someone else for the award.

The HUG Award© is for people who, without giving up or compromising their own religious, spiritual, or political beliefs, are able to nurture hope and respect the dignity of all people.

The HUG Award© is for those who, without bias or prejudice, use their resources and gifts to make the world a better place for everyone.

The HUG Award©is for people who have a hope or an expectant desire that the work or talents they use in things such as blogging, public speaking, charity work, etc., will make a positive impact on the world.

These people do not have to actively use the word “hope” in their work or creative talents.  They only need be conscious of their desire to make the world a better place for everyone.

These people use their available resources–a smile, a hug, a helping hand, a listening ear, a voice, time, money, possessions, education, personality, talent, websites and blogs—to make a positive impact on the world and make the world a better place to live.

The HUG Award© is not a website or blog award.  It can be given to people in your community, at your employment, at your place of worship, etc.  Please make sure they have a copy of these Guidelines, and please don’t forget to submit their names back to this site.

I am pleased to share this award with everyone who strives for peace and to make the world a better place.  Is it such an honor, and little ol’ me is humbled.

Thank You for Your Christmas Gift to Me!

I would like to thank each and every one of you for your very precious gift to me…the gift of “listening”.  It is your priceless understanding that brightens my day every day.  It is your support that lightens my load, and your “likes” that provide encouragement. Without you, I would be a lonely, little old lady, (well, little middle-aged lady,) keeping a diary on my computer just for myself.  It would be nice to look back on someday, but does not provide comfort as life goes along.  You have provided that comfort for me. I look forward to each and every “like”, and I am always encouraged to move on through another day.  Your gift to me is greatly appreciated.

I am sorry I do not have such a valuable gift to you.  I can only share my thoughts on ways to live a more fulfilled and happy life and hope that somehow they provide a small measure of encouragement that you have provided to me:

Smile often.  Even if you are grumpy, smile as you hold a door open for someone.  Smile at the person standing in front of you at the bank, and the teller who waits on you.  Even if you were not anxious to smile in the first place, after several random smiles, it will come naturally and it will lighten your mood.  If you really want to feel good about yourself, smile at someone who has wronged you, the car that accidently cuts in front of you in traffic,   the person who has bumped into you, a person who has a growly look on their face.  You will feel much better having smiled at them than haven gotten angry at them.

Always take care of yourself if you are taking care of others.  I have hectic days with my kiddos and doctor appointments and school meetings and so forth, but every night I spend an hour soaking in the tub, fragrant bubbles popping all around me, drinking a frozen wine cooler, and playing Scrabble on my phone.  I take care of me because if I don’t, I will not be in the right frame of mind to take care of my family.

If you are married, place emphasis on loving your spouse.  It is easy in day to day activities to forget that you have a partner, hopefully a partner who will love you and support you no matter what.  But this support person needs to feel loved and supported themselves.  My husband and I make sure to plan quality time together.  It makes me feel good and loved and supported.  But it is something that I have to work at all the time.

If you are like me and you HATE to do the laundry, I suggest buying everyone there own style of sock…and only buy that one style.  For instance, Steven likes no show black socks, Angel will do with ankle black socks, Marie likes white sports socks, Raymond wears grey work socks, and I prefer black dress socks.  So these are the only types of socks we have.  I buy them in bulk.  It makes is SOOO much easier when folding clothes.  Not only is it easier to find a match, but it is also easier to know who they belong to.

Find the joy in  life.  It is everywhere you look.  It is in the squirrels collecting their acorns for winter, in the sun shining through the parting clouds, in the colors of the sunset, the sweet little old lady crossing the street with the cars all patiently stopped, in the smile of a baby when you make eye contact, in the stained glass window of the church, and in almost every place you look if you look at it in the right light.  Life is a joy that should be appreciated.  If we are not joyful, then how can we spread that joy to others?

Most of all, have fun.  Go bowling with the kiddos, even if the kitchen floor should be washed.  Play in the snow even as the dust settles in the house, and settles and settles… Watch a great television show where you can all connect and laugh.  (Our favorite, because of Marie’s deafness, is America’s Funniest Home Videos.)  Just do things together as a family.  If you have a child with a disability, you will have to try extra hard to include him/her, but please do.  Life should be enjoyable.

And my wish for you all if to find peace.  Peace with yourselves.  Peace with your families and friends.  Peace even if you have to change your standards and lower your expectations.  If you used to get angry at that person tailgating you…let it go.  If you used to get annoyed that the line you chose in the supermarket is the slowest moving line on earth…let it go.  If you used to get angry at your children for minor misbehavior…let it go.  If you look for peace, you will find yourself peaceful instead of stressed out.  I think my best quality is to be as stress free as possible in stressful situations.  I don’t worry.  I am peaceful.  And I hope to extend a little bit of that peace to each and every one of you, because I am so thankful of the gift that you have given to me.

Lets Agree to Disagree…Mental Illness and Violence

I recently received a response from a blog colleague who’s beliefs are different than mine.  It is normal for people to have different views on things, and everyone’s views are welcome. This is my version of  agreeing to disagree…

Dear 5KWD, I wonder if you would have any insight on the following. After doing a smattering of research I learned that virtually every mass shooter on record was taking antidepressant psychiatric drugs when they “went off”. The news media and many posting here are examining the mental illness angle, but we know that depression, asbergers, etc, does not cause homicidal behavior. However, it seems very plausible to me that these FDA approved psychiatric drugs, which have known side effects, may be inducing this behavior. I think it’s the drugs, not the mental illness. This makes way more sense to me than the idea that sometimes formerly quiet, law-abiding people are randomly “going off” and shooting rooms full of children.  artandlifenotes.wordpress.com

 

I agree that every mass murderer may have been on antidepressants.  It would go along with my theory that they have underlying psychiatric conditions.  All of my adopted children are on psych meds.  My oldest daughter has attention deficit disorder.  Prior to medication, she couldn’t pay attention, she was flunking school, she couldn’t pay attention to read a book, and she developed sever anxiety over her inability to function “normally”.  Once on medication, (which includes an antidepressant,) she brought her grades up to straight A’s, attended college, and has a career in her chosen field.  I understand that some people would say that the side affects of medication would outweigh the benefits, she calls me from time to time to bring her medication to work because she forgot it, and she cannot concentrate to do her job. My middle son, who was born addicted to cocaine, has been diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses, but I personally like to give him just one:  his brain and wiring is screwed up due to his prenatal exposure to drugs.  As an infant he would flail about and injure himself, he rarely slept, wouldn’t eat, and climbed out of his crib by 9 months old. (He couldn’t walk, but he could climb!) He would run around destroying anything in his path.  Without psych meds, it would have been impossible for him to attend school because he surely would have climbed out the bus window!  My youngest son, who was severely abused in his early childhood, has Dissociative Identity Disorder, (previously called Multiple Personality) a condition in which a child withdraws within himself/herself when abused, sort of “blacks out”, so to speak, but another part of the brain still feels the affects of abuse.  That other part remains in his “psyche”.  Hidden.  Buried. Showing itself from time to time in an angry, violent outburst, often requiring hospitalization. Without psych meds, he would not be able to function as well as he does.  He would be encompassed by deep depression and obsessive thoughts.  My youngest daughter has severe attention deficit disorder, and cannot sit still or pay attention without medication. Similar to my youngest son, she was abused as a child. Her hidden demons come back in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, tearful, angry aggression, often on herself, but sometimes against others.  Without psych meds, she would not be able to function.  She still has PTSD and “episodes”, but they are far less frequent than when she was not on medication and it would be a daily thing.

I understand people have different opinions about psych meds, but in my family, without them, it would have been impossible for my children to live life “normally”. I know that there may be side affects, but the side affects are far less intrusive on their lives than their mental health issues. The doctor always goes over the possible side affects, and not a single child has ever indicated they bother them.

Regarding your concept of not believing the idea that sometimes formerly quiet, law-abiding people are randomly “going off” and shooting rooms full of children, again, I can only point to my own children.  Childhood abuse, even verbal abuse, and non-loving parents, can permanently harm a child’s developing psyche.  Permanently.  Even counseling and medication may not be able to fully quiet the demons hidden in a child’s brain.  My son, who is the sweetest, nicest, most generous boy, often displays his “angry part”, a part so vile and violent that it reminds me of Linda Blair in the Exorcist.  He is unrecognizable and so angry that violence surrounds him…sometimes resulting in a call to 911 for assistance with restraining and hospitalization.  For my daughter with PTSD, her episodes are more invasive.  The slight touch, smell, or thought can cause her to fall back into anger of abuse, and she dissociates and becomes violent.  She is not herself…well, that’s not true because even when she is having flashbacks she is herself, but the self as a young child being abused.  Regarding the randomness of violence, case in point:  she was recently arrested for “assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon” when he charged towards her to get her to stop flailing about and screaming.  (She ripped a board off the wall and tried to ward him off.) She is living in a restrictive, “locked” facility with staff trained in behavior modification and restraints, but her behavior has horrified and shocked them.  It is not her fault, she cannot control it, but she is very violent.  Other people looking at her would never think such a sweet, friendly child could harbor such demons.

I know many people not exposed to individuals who are mentally ill to the serious degree of my children would find it hard to believe they just “snapped”.  No one never knows if a person who appears to be “normal and quiet” is really “normal and quiet” underneath.  I believe wholeheartedly that one has to have a mental illness, even if undiagnosed, to be a mass murderer. I believe no one in his/her “right” mind could possibly do such a thing!  Of course, this is just my one biased opinion.  I can understand, though, that there are different sides to every story.  Let’s just “agree to disagree”!

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane by Linda Petersen.

I Looked in the Mirror and I saw a Homeless Person…

My husband and I decided to go to our little cottage in New Hampshire for the weekend to rest up for the upcoming holiday festivities.  I filled the car with all of the Christmas present in order to wrap them in peace and quiet.

On Friday morning, we got up at 5AM so Raymond could spend a few hours working in a town a few hours from where our house is.  Those who know me or who have read my book know that I get carsick easily, so for the ride I generally spread out in the backseat with a few pillows and comfy blankets and snooze.  I was still snoozing when he got out to do his job, and, I’m embarrassed to say, I slept for another three hours!

When I woke up, I was desperately thirsty, and of course had to go to the bathroom.  I slowly sat up and looked out the windows, spotting a McDonald’s nearby.  I was joyous.  A hot cup of tea! A bathroom!  I maneuvered myself out of the backseat, threw on my husband’s old coat, (which looked to be warmer as it was snowing heavily outside,) and started walking toward the gleaming golden arches.  (Okay, that last part was a lie as they do not have golden arches anymore, but I was still half asleep, so I can’t be blamed…)

I have been suffering from an inner ear disorder lately; one which cause my balance to be “off”.  I wobble back and forth, and sometimes stumble and trip unless I have something to hold onto.  As I walked to McDonald’s, of course I was in open space, so my walking resembled someone who was drunk.   Embarrassed by my weaving, I snuck around the back of the restaurant and entered through that back door near the bathroom.  Once safely inside, I looked in the bathroom mirror, and I gasped.  A homeless person stared back at me, and it was ME! (And I mean no offense to the homeless…) One side of my head was flattened, complete with pillow marks on my face and a line of drool from my mouth.  The other side was fluffed straight out like half of a Bozo the Clown.  I wet my hair, and looked in the mirror again.  I looked like a drowned rat!  I also noticed that Raymond’s coat was way too big, had a pocket that was ripped, and had oil stains on it.  I was horrified!  Not so horrified, though, as to sneak out and go back to the car.   NO!  I wanted that caffeine too badly.  So, I wobbled out to the service counter, gathered all of my dignity, and ordered a hot tea.  It was poured and put on the counter, and I gave them my credit card to swipe.  (Isn’t crazy in this day and age that I always use my credit card for everything?)  The card was declined.  There I was, standing there at the counter, looking like a drunk homeless person, staring at the server like a deer in headlights.  What?  My charge is declined? I was mortified.  He was not going to budge.  No money….no tea.  With a huge sigh of relief I looked in my wallet and found that $20 bill hidden in that secret compartment in case of an emergency.  This definitely qualified…

I took my prize and wobbled back to the van, where I settled down again in the back seat, happily drinking my tea.

No Electricity?

Is there something wrong with me?  Our electricity went out this morning and my ONLY thought was that I would not be able to use the computer. No heat…fine. No cooking…fine.  Food melts in refrigerator…fine.  But no computer and I’m freaking out!

 

PS. As you can tell, the electricity came back on, I’m a happy camper now…

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