Friday, December 30, 2011

Counting on the Little Things

As 2012 draws near, I would like to take the time to remind everyone to make the little things count in the new year.



...Angus is "little" And he's "counting"...get it? *tap, tap* Is this thing on?

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gifts that Keep on Giving

Ah. Christmas Eve Eve.

I should be freaking out that my Christmas cards were never manufactured this year. I should be freaking out that the fragrant aroma of the Douglas fir is emanating from a Glade candle. According to Martha Stewart, there is a whole list of things I should be freaking out about.

But I'm not.

This will be the first Christmas of my "New Normal". Circumstances have given me the opportunity to see the absolute meaning of Christmas clearly. This year wasn't about the Perfect Picture for the photo cards. It hasn't been about scoring the most popular toys or video games. For me, it's been about being grateful for what I have despite the challenges. In the midst of my New Normal, my blessings are sure and abundant. Jesus Christ's grace and mercy are the best gifts of all.

Sure makes macing someone over an X-Box or pair of Jordan's seem trivial. Well, those things are, actually.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

To Kung Fu: Thanks for the Laughs, Love Julie Newmar

When "Kung Fu Panda 2" meets my little panda...

video

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Monster Hit!



Her face says it all.

Mariah was delighted with her extra special Birthday Cake this weekend. Icing Smiles, Inc., commissioned the Baltimore bakery, Cakes 2 A-T to create my Godzilla lover's ultimate treat.






Happy Birthday, Mariah. You totally deserved an Icing Smile this year and thank you Cakes 2 A-T for delivering it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Cakes 2 A-T", Fits 2 A-T

The local bakery graciously accepting the challenge from Icing Smiles,Inc., to design a dream cake for my dream middle child is none other than Cakes 2 A-T of Baltimore!

Icing Smiles, Inc., is a non-profit organization that coordinates with bakeries to provide Special Needs Families with Special Custom Cakes. (My friend's son is the little boy marveling at his fire-breathing dragon cake on the Icing Smiles homepage).

You can see Cakes 2 A-T's amazing work here. They have presented masterpieces to celebrities, children, weddings, showers - there seems to be no limit to their creativity.

We'll see their vision for Mariah's surprise "Godzilla" cake come to fruition next week. If their previous work is any indication, we should all be prepared: Run for your lives! It's GODZILLA!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Understand

This song has been ministering to my heart ~ its words getting down into my spirit. Restoring my soul.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Status Quo

Sharon went from being "married" to "none of your #$%@ business".

Facebook ~ that virtual place where people find it necessary to change their relationship status as often as they change their underwear. Before the smoke clears after a falling out with their Significant Other, they are "single". After only two dates they declare they are "in a relationship". In an effort to buck this trend, I have hereby decided to keep my relationship status under wraps. So no knee-jerk relationship updates.

As much as I rolled my eyes during the interview, I admire how coy, private, and protective Beyonce was about her relationship and subsequent marriage to Jay-Z. I'm not a bootilicious, International Super Star, but she taught me a thing or two about discretion (well - up until she felt up her Baby Bump on stage at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards). Rest assured: if I do meet a Mogul who steals my heart, you will hear it here first.

One Facebook friend said it best:

I'm not single and I'm not taken.
I'm simply on reserve for the person who deserves me.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Maddening Mobility


Friends and family rejoiced when I announced that - at 5 years-old - Isaiah was a walker. One comment that stuck with me was, "Get your running shoes on now, Mama!" Little did I know not only would I need a pair of running shoes, but also nerves of steel, strength of a body builder, plus the agility and reflexes of a cat.

My son is small for his age, but is - like many kids with cerebral palsy - freakishly strong. I found just how strong when he rocketed me off of his feet the other day, a la Barnum and Bailey Circus. As a certified walker, he's not very sure-footed at times. And quite often he doesn't look where he is going. But I appreciate the fact Isaiah has strength and some control over his muscles. He is able to walk with a purpose. He can evade with a purpose, too.

Savannah doesn't typically allow him in her room. The other day, she forgot and left her door open. Little Brother made his way in. I stood in the doorway for a good 30 seconds while Isaiah outmaneuvered all of Savannah's attempts to wrangle him. He went left, he went right, he twirled circles, staying just out of her grasp. When it finally looked like her victory was at hand (she had hooked both of her arms under his), enter The Boneless Chicken. Isaiah went utterly and totally limp - collapsing into a lumpy pile on Savannah's floor. Poor girl looked so frustrated. And that lil' stinker looked so pleased with himself. I laughed until it hurt.

Talk about a mixed blessing. Zay is mobile, but non-verbal. So if we are leaving therapy and he decides he wants to stay longer, he can't say, "Hey Mommy, can I play in the waiting area for a few more minutes?" I get a healthy helping of Boneless Chicken. One of 2 things follow: (a) coaxing him to get up with a bribe from my purse or (b) grabbing him up and carrying him out in my arms. I could always wait until he's ready to get up, but life doesn't always run on Isaiah's Time. For that reason, I keep his stroller in the van at all times

I appreciate that Isaiah expresses himself. The way he communicates. I will continue to modify and adapt The World depending on the situation. He has taught me the value of patience and perspective.

And the value of a good circus act.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

You Must Be This Tall to Ride

To say I've been riding The Emotional Roller Coaster lately would be an understatement. The highs and lows, dizzying at times. Unexpected twists and turns abound - taking my breath away. Plunged into sudden darkness only to be rocketed back into daylight.

Through it all, one thing is clear: I am still moving forward. Not always confident what's around the next bend, but strapped in, prayed up, and holding on tight for the ride.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Icing on the Cake

Sneaking frosting before it was time to blow out the candles was my typical birthday M.O. There's a picture of pinholes in the top of my 4th birthday cake (white with pink roses). Somehow I thought sticking one of my grandmother's sewing pins into the frosting and licking it off was a clever and clandestine method to sample the sweetness. The risk of getting my tongue punctured obviously outweighed by temptation.

When the time came, I poured myself into birthday planning for my own kids. Care and consideration going into every detail - the literal centerpiece being The Cake. But as the kids grew, so did the physical and emotional demands of Special Needs Parenting. Out of necessity and practicality, celebrations became simpler.

But in the coming year, I won't have to worry about The Cake. Icing Smiles, Inc. makes cake wishes come true for Special/Medical Needs children and their families. The bakers are local and turn out amazing custom creations for their most precious clients and their siblings. I was blown away by some of their incredible cakes - including a dragon birthday cake done for my friend's son that actually breathed FIRE. And they donate their time. The cakes are free.

Icing Smiles, Inc. has graciously accepted the challenge to wow my kids on their next birthdays, which means Mariah will be receiving her Dream Cake just a couple of months! And she has NO idea. Hopefully our baker can incorporate Mariah's Godzilla obsession in there somehow. I've got some ideas and I'm already dreaming up the themes for Isaiah's and Savannah's fantasy confections.

All birthdays are special. I am grateful there are people out their who understand the significance of what so many people take for granted - that their children will have a next birthday. The stress and sacrifice of their siblings. And want to make their dreams come true.

My personal Dream Cake? Haven't given it much thought. But based on my history, a giant Pin Cushion would seem appropriate.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Making it Work

I don't know how single Special Needs parents do it!

I don't know how Special Needs parents who work outside of the home do it!


~ posted by two Facebook Friends last week

I just finished cleaning up an epic toxic accident. Putting Isaiah on the potty and leaving him while I checked on dinner didn't turn out as stress-free as I had hoped. Because when he was ready to get up, he got up. Just because he was ready to get up didn't necessarily mean he was finished. So I spent a good part of my evening scrubbing tiles. Walls. Zaiah.

So when people ask me if I "work", excuse me if I scoff. I know what they want to know. If I am gainfully employed outside of the home. But I still like to make them squirm. "Work, you say? Where do I begin..."

Dinner still had to be completed and served. The laundry refused to transfer itself from the the washer to the dryer. Dishes had to be washed. Homework had to be accounted for. Of course, the Girls have responsibilities which makes me grateful that they are older now.

Especially now that I am considering a career outside of the home. My life is moving into a New Season. As God opens doors, I know the strength, faith, and courage He has been cultivating in me all along is coming to fruition.

How do single parents of Special Needs kids work outside of the house?

I have no idea. But if it is the Lord's plan for my life - I'll soon find out.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

Quiet Saturdays are our new "in thing". Nothing on The Calendar. No obligations. No showers necessary. All I ask is that the kids brush their teeth.

What matters is that my kids and I are spending quality time together. Our weekdays are filled. The three of them attending three different schools on three different schedules. Mix in Zay's various therapies, girls' homework, doctors' appointments, counseling sessions, etc...it's easy to see why we become Pajama-Clad Waffle Eaters a couple of Saturdays a month.

The kids have been back in school for well over a month now. Pulling Savannah out of public school last year is proving to be the best thing we could have done. Thank God for my mother. We weren't sure how Savannah would do with a full-day schedule. It would include Lunchtime. Which would mean crowds, noise, and eating in front of other people. With her Asperger's, that creates a nightmare trifecta. The day she hopped in the van and announced she had talked during lunch was the day my doubts melted away. She recently brought home her Progress Report - all "Excellent". The staff is so nurturing. And she is thriving.

Isaiah continues to push the boundaries of how much one can love a little boy. To hear people in our circle express their affection for him is beyond heart-warming. It's affirming. Makes me feel like I am not alone in caring for him. Few are immune to his big, toothy smile and loving disposition. The stubborn boy who, when faced with a task he'd rather not perform, will go completely and utterly boneless. As frustrating as it is (an act we've dubbed The Boneless Chicken), it is a testament to the will of a boy who has no words, but more than enough charm, wit, and personality to control the parts of His World he discovered he can. His communication for the past 6 months has been remarkable. He is making choices. He can express his discontent. He can bring me a banana for me to peel for him. And one day I was standing at the bathroom sink the and he teetered up behind me with a 6-pack of applesauce he wanted opened. When he wants a bath (one of FAVORITE things), he pushes me into the bathroom and shoves me to the side of the tub. He's taller and stronger, but more tolerant of new things. We found out from his teacher at Open House last week that he is staying in his chair and participates (read: cooperates) with the lesson.

Also wowing me this year? Mariah. She started a new school and is happier than she has been in almost two years. She is making good grades and new friends. She has expressed an interest in joining Chorus at school. I had no idea she could sing. That was until I heard her in her room one day singing along to a Godzilla video. Not only was she sweetly in tune, but she was singing IN JAPANESE. How did I get so preoccupied with the Special Needs Duo that I missed that The Typical One could sing ~ in a foreign language, no doubt?!

So I dedicate this Quiet Saturday to my Middle Child with a Heart of Gold.

Dōmo arigatō, Miss Roboto

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spreading my Wings

I captured this picture earlier this week near Arlington National Cemetery.



"Just when the caterpillar thought her world was ending, she became a butterfly."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pray Day

I wasn't living in the United States on September 11, 2001. J was stationed overseas and we were all enjoying the first of what would be two, 3-year assignments in Germany.

But I was fewer than 13 miles away from the Pentagon on that crisp, bright, not-quite-autumn morning.

At the end of August 2001, the girls and I had flown into Maryland. The plan was to stay with my mom through the beginning of October so I could attend the wedding of a good friend. Little did I know it would be closer to Thanksgiving before I would ever make it back to Europe.

On That Morning, I had awakened before the girls. My mother and brother had already left for work and I took advantage of the quiet to catch up on my e-mails. The phone rang. It was my grandmother. She asked if I had the TV on, which I didn't. As I was fumbling around to find the remote, I thought I heard her say "They blew up the World Trade Center." - which made no sense to me. But right there on Channel 7 was the unbelievable. Both towers billowing smoke. Holding the phone and unable to speak, I stayed on the phone until the South Tower collapsed. Then I sank to my knees and began to weep. The last word I heard my Grandmother say before we hung up: "Pray."

A lot can happen in 10 years. I have moved back to The States ~ twice. Lost several Loved Ones (including my beloved Grandnannie). Had a son. Run the course of my marriage. Started over. And still I pray.

Because I remember That Day. When we all stood as one. United in fear. In shock. In awe. When all we could do was pray.

Remembering the heroes and victims of September 11, 2001 and their families. Remembering the service members who gave the Ultimate Sacrifice and their families. Remembering those who continue to serve and the families who continue to sacrifice.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hand Wash Only

They say things happen in threes. Apparently, I am well on my way.

The a/c fan in my van quit last week. Mercifully, the worst of the summer heat seems to be over. This week, the latch on my washing machine busted. It fills with no problem, but won't agitate or drain without assistance. I have to stick my hand up under the lid and connect the circuit. So safe around sloshing water. Not to mention I almost lost a finger in the Spin Cycle.

Channeling my inner "Mama"-Gyver, I was able to manufacture a temporary fix with a Tide bottle cap. Then it was time to break out the big guns - Play-Doh and a sponge hair roller. There was no way I was going to let that machine beat me. Although, I felt like I was doing all the work. Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the term "wash by hand".

Guess I'd be an awful pioneer, too.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Face. Time.



Savannah

This is the face that welcomed me into The Motherhood 14 years ago. A face that has been inspiring me ever since. I thank God for blessing me with such an inspirational soul. I love you, Birthday Girl.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Queue the Locust

If they sold "I Survived Acts of God Week" T-shirts, I'd probably buy one. No sooner had Mechagodzilla stopped bobbling from the Earthquake - it was time to batten down the hatches for Hurricane Irene. We lost power overnight, but the kids and I channeled our inner pioneers and stuck it out (but Mariah would have been an awful pioneer). The basement didn't flood, thank God, and we only lost a few tree limbs and branches.

My mom maintained power throughout, so we were able to go over and juice up the electronics. There is just something about being back home with your Mama that brings a sense of security like none other - no matter how old you are. Just ask the kids how much I seemed to enjoy my 2-hour nap. Ooh and the home cooked meal. Almost makes me wish for an Act of God every week.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quaking in my Espadrilles

By most accounts, the Great East Coast Quake of 2011 wasn't a source of widespread devastation. It was considered a moderate and nearly unprecedented quake for this area according to the experts and a huge inconvenience for the locals. This is pretty much the extent of our damage.



Mechagodzilla is obviously more awesome than Regular Godzilla. But it wasn't all bad. I'm totally convinced the quake cured my garbage disposal. After a week of malfunctioning, it mysteriously began to work again after the quake.

A lot of the damage was emotional. I was sitting by a set of second-story windows waiting for Isaiah's therapy session to conclude. When the shaking started, I thought it was a central a/c unit about to blow. But the shaking grew more intense and the rumbling grew louder. I looked out of the window expecting to see a truck, a train, a plane...something. But nothing. It was a gorgeous, sunny day.

I rode out the quake petrified. Wanting to run, but not being able to move. In a flash,I thought about death. The office building was shaking and swaying in such an unfamiliar way that I knew it couldn't be anything good. I did not want to die - maybe it was the shock - but there was a peace surrounding me. I just wanted my kids to be OK.

No cell phone calls could go out immediately afterward, but I found out from my sister in Arizona via Facebook that my mom and Savannah were shaken, but fine. And my mom is apparently in the wrong professional. She should have pursued a career in body guarding. Or in the NFL. She didn't realize what was happening, but she knew she had to protect her granddaughter. So naturally, she tackled her. Mariah had been evacuated from her school and came home upset and concerned about possible aftershocks. We are still a bit unsettled over yesterday's events, so I was relieved they cancelled school today.

The earthquake gave me a crash course and what I know for sure is:

Earthquakes can fix things around the house

I am not truly afraid to die

My mother has a future with the Washington Redskins


Friday, August 19, 2011

Brownies Nation



Yes. Yes they do.

*Special shout-out to Jen in Cali for spotting this!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leggo my Eggo. Seriously.

When people hear the term "comfort food", they automatically think potatoes, mac & cheese...typical carbs. Somehow, around the 24-pack-a-week mark, frozen waffles went from lovely, occasional breakfast fare to my drug of choice.

What can I say? They are perfect. Warm, light, and toasty. Crispy and tender all at once. Their sole purpose is to bring me happiness. Oh ~ and poundage. My clothes have been shrinking ever since I arrived at Waffletopia. But that's OK. The view from Celeryville is overrated anyway.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Be Cuz of Faith



Here I am on First Cousins' Weekend with my cousin, Michele ~ Master of Library Science. Thanks to her amazing accomplishments, she and her family have taken a huge leap of faith. Uprooting their lives and relocating, we are now not only emotionally close, but physically as well. God is good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Tortoise in My Hair

One unnerving thing about living in a metropolitan area is the nonstop pace. Everyone is always on the go and quickly. Not exactly ideal conditions for a turtle attempting to cross a street.

But last Wednesday was one turtle's Lucky Day. That was the day that I happened to be driving down said street and noticed what I initially thought was a dead leaf resting between the bright orange parallel lines.

I've seen squashed turtles before. There was a big one at the end of my driveway just last month. I couldn't do anything to save him, but I was sure I could do something for that brown leaf that - upon further investigation - turned out to be a strong-willed (if not GPS-challenged) baby Diamondback Terrapin.



Instead of relocating him right away, we decided to take him home. We created a makeshift terrarium and an acceptable Baby Turtle diet. After his initial reluctance to eat (chalk it up to shell shock - sorry!), I was as delighted as a first time mom to see his Turtle Turds in the box the next morning. And by then he even had a name: "Crush". Partial Disney character; partial his lack of being so.

He has since been adopted by my brother and his family and renamed "Horatio", which is, quite honestly, easier to remember and much more suitable to that innocent, wise-looking face of his. My nieces are excited about their newest addition (joining his Beta sibling). I'm just excited I'm not any closer to ending up on an Animal Planet hoarding special.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Too Blessed to be Distressed

There's a scene in the original "Shrek" movie after he frees Princess Fiona and they are confronted in the forest by the king's henchmen. But instead of getting kidnapped, Fiona proceeds to kick their butts - as Shrek and Donkey look on in amazement.

I can appreciate that scene. Too often females are portrayed as helpless, weak, and poor decision makers (who runs from a killer in high heels?!)

There have been times in my life when I have wanted to be delivered from an unpleasant or even dangerous situation. Sometimes I want a Hero. But more often than not - I want to find my own way out. To see if I have the level head and courage to make good decisions. Even if it's the decision that I am in over my head. Like last weekend when my van battery died while on an outing with the kids.

When I realized I had drained the battery, I sat. Sat and thought. That's all I could do. J was out of town. And I really didn't want to feel like he had to save me, anyway. Then I remembered my Auto Membership. They could get me jump-started in no time. It wasn't like I was admitting I was in distress. Just ill-equipped to handle that particular situation. Make no mistake: I didn't need to be "rescued".

It was just by sheer coincidence that the company they sent out had the logo "Rescue Auto" blazoned across the back window. Oh well. Whatever makes them feel good about themselves.

I've decided to invest in one of those portable battery chargers. Who knows, I just might end up someone else's unexpected, but very welcomed Knight-in-Shining-Armour.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Waiting for Boaz

For all you single ladies who are in such a hurry to find someone, here's a quick piece of biblical advice: Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz. While waiting on YOUR Boaz, don't settle for ANY of his relatives: Broke-az, Po-az, Lyin-az, Cheatin-az, Dumb-az, Cheap-az, Lockedup-az, Goodfornothin-az, Lazy-az or Married-az...and especially his 3rd Cousin Beatinyo-az!

-Bill Johnson

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ohana



#17

My maternal grandmother had 26 grandchildren. Almost all were able to gather this past weekend for our first ever "First Cousins" reunion. It was 3 days of activities designed to reconnect, reminisce, and most importantly - eat. It was the first time most of us had been together since Grannannie passed away a little over 2 years ago. We took the time to introduce our families and welcome my new sister-in-law. Thanks to our living overseas off-and-on for years, some hadn't seen my girls since they were babies. Most hadn't even met Isaiah.

But the love and laughter that enveloped us practically made up for lost time. They expressed more than just their love for the kids and me. They showed their support. Reassured me and rallied around me like a "Love Intervention". They reminded me of my special place not just in our Family, but in our World.

The love and laughter live on

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Christmas in July



Well, not really. But a dose of winter weather would be welcome surprise right about now. We are in the middle of an oppressive heatwave that has kept the kids and me holed up daily until the sun goes down.

This picture was taken in early Spring of this year ~ when all I wished for was warmer temperatures.

All together now: be careful what you wish for.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dirty Dancing

Now I had the time of my life.
And I never felt this way before.



This past Monday night, I boogied completely out of my comfort zone. Ladies' Night Out was ON and it promised to be a night to remember. My friend, Amy, suggested we all take her friend's new Pole Fitness class. Apparently, chair and pole dancing are going mainstream. They are considered a workout...as in exercise - something I am typically allergic to. But there was just something enticing about it. Like The Lambada. So that evening, seven sassy Mamas piled into two vehicles and we headed over to the studio. And you know what?

These Mamas got skillz.



I embraced my inner "Lola" (that's her smack dab in the middle wearing black) and actually broke a sweat. Beth and Carrie from Polar Fitness were excellent instructors. So patient and encouraging - I almost forgave them for their ridiculously incredible physiques. After two hours of getting our shake, shimmy, and spins on, the Sassy Seven emerged a lot more confident and a little bit sore. We loaded back up and headed out for a nightcap at Sonic. Could this night have gotten any better?

Turns out, sitting around eating greasy onion rings and sipping a Cherry Limeade (with extra cherry flavor!) in the company of great women does make things better. Sharing our faith, our trials, triumphs - stories of healing and restoration was a source of comfort for me (one mom's blended family of 10 was especially interesting to me). Sometimes I worry about losing my married friends after my divorce. I have been coupled for 19 years - married for 16 of those. I've never been single my entire adult life. Now, my relationships are going to be different. My lifestyle is going to be different.

Along with *ahem* exercise, I'm making better choices health-wise. Like drinking more water. Which is a big deal for me because if I had the choice of milk, water, or orange juice with my dinner, my preference - in this particular order - would be (1) orange juice (2) milk (with Hershey syrup added) (3) make a pitcher of Kool-Aid (4) run down to CVS for a ginger ale (5) call Mom and see if I can swing by her house for some cranberry juice (6) choke down the water. But "Fiji" water has changed the game. I could afford a trip to Fiji for the amount of money I spend on this brand, but the taste canNOT be beat.

And I am not just flossing after I eat pork chops. I'm flossing twice a day. Sometimes more (especially if I eat pork chops). Now I don't have to fib to the dental hygienist. My doctors are happy that I am eating. Been craving fresh fruits and vegetables, too. I need to gain - get up to a healthier weight. But they haven't explained to me how to get those pounds where I want them. If it involves a chair or a pole, though, count me in.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Separation. Anxiety.

By sharing My Story, I pray someone is inspired, touched, encouraged, comforted, filled with hope, and truly blessed. This isn't about "putting my business in the street" ~ it's about knowing you are not alone.


I walked into the office with an agenda. Little did I know just showing up for that appointment would save my life.

Savannah and I were meeting with her new pediatric therapist - the therapist who eventually referred Savannah to "The Team" for a full evaluation which led to her Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis. As the questions for Savannah wrapped up and the therapist's attention turned to me, I could feel dread slowly creeping up on me. As she lobbed all the obvious questions at me, I knew it would only be a matter of time before she'd hit on that one that would strike a nerve. And sure enough, it happened.

She excused Savannah to the waiting area and shut the door behind her. She handed me a box of Kleenex: Before we can deal with what's going on with Savannah, we need to deal with you. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

That's when I let go. The Super Mom facade shattered. Before I could stop myself, I had let a stranger into my dark place of emotions - opening up about my crumbling marriage, the constant and total care of Isaiah, and Savannah's recent school and social issues. The trifecta that had pushed me to the edge. "You are overwhelmed. You are depressed. You need help.", she confirmed. I wanted to kiss her. Finally - validation. I am NOT crazy OR losing my mind. God had sent me an angel. He doesn't always boom answers into our ear. Sometimes He puts people in our path just when we need them most.

Thus began my coping. When dealing with depression and anxiety, research has shown that the best results are obtained through therapy plus medication. It's been a winning recipe for me, with a healthy and reverent dose of faith and prayer. I am healing. I am happier than ever leading the life God wants for me. It is an upward spiral through the depression, with every day a little better than the one before. Not that there haven't been setbacks. But I take comfort in knowing "this too shall pass". I am not alone. I thank God for my Support System, that seems ever-expanding. I am focusing on me. The gifts God has given me. The next chapter of my life.

There's hope. As long as there is breath in your body, you have hope. Things might not turn out exactly as you might expect them - very often they turn out better than you could ever imagine.

Believe.

Cause if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Why I Kan't Kindle

I like books. Actual books. Nothing against e-readers, but there's just something about the weight of a book in my hands. Turning its paper pages.

Growing up in a home that valued reading, books weren't just decorations or props - like something in an Olan Mills photo studio circa 1976. Our very real bookshelves were bursting and we were always encouraged to "Go and sit down somewhere with a book".

I guess I'll be urging my children to "Go and sit down somewhere with a Nook".

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Ni Hao Dee-Jay"



Meet "DJ", the Chinese Dwarf Hamster and newest member of our menagerie.

Mariah fell in love at the pet store during a run on bedding and vitamin C drops for Angus. In many ways a hamster, especially an itty-bitty one, is a much easier pet than a guinea pig (except at night, as we would all soon discover...) After much discussion during a celebratory End-of-the-School-Year family dinner and promises that she would be the primary and responsible caregiver - we welcomed DJ into our family. And his 3-story townhouse.

We introduced DJ to Angus without much fanfare. They sniffed and twitched, but there would be no epic faceoff or smackdown. I think Angus was more impressed with Mariah's toy Zhu-Zhu Pet. Savannah has assumed care for Angus. And I mean she really cares for him. She feeds him by hand through through the cage bars and gives him daily attention and interaction. She shops for his treats and the other day she actually asked me if she could touch him. That is HUGE for my Asperger's child. She even trained him to stand on his hind legs. (America HAS got talent!)

We just have to help Isaiah discern the difference between DJ's exercise ball and his other toys. This, after Isaiah's hearty kick of DJ's exercise ball across the room while DJ was in it. Gooooooooooooooooooal! It's probably best to schedule the hamster's workouts after Zay's bedtime.

There is no need for an animal hoarding intervention for me at this point. But if I ever Blog from my backyard that the animals have staged a coup and won't let me back in the house, again, you will know - It. Is. Time.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hair Raising Hosta

Last spring when I planted Patriotic Hosta in my front yard, I had no idea it was like catnip to deer. Imagine the look on my face the morning I expected it to be in full bloom only to discover it had been half chewed.

All summer, into fall, and covered in snow and ice through the winter - there it stayed. Forlorn and forgotten. I knew nothing of the species and had not idea if or when it would ever recover. And yet a few months ago - despite the mind-blowing, freakish heat and lack of rain - green leaves appeared again. I didn't hold my breath, but then the flower stems with lavender-colored buds began reaching towards the sky.

Now, this is the part of the story when the deer ruined it last year. Setting booby traps seemed a bit over the top, so I plucked some hair out of the girls' hair brush and sprinkled it around the flower bed.

It must have worked. Because almost overnight, this happened:

Monday, June 13, 2011

7th Wonder



Isaiah turned 7 today. Seven. And what a wonder he is.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When I Haven't Been Blogging...




...I've been playing with my kids. Not just "Uno" or Star Wars "Guess Who" - we're talking kickball. Volleyball. Sometimes in the same game.(In hindsight, the spontaneous match in heels after church Sunday against Mariah wasn't my brightest idea. But there's an app for that ~ called Tylenol). Even though two-thirds of the Brownies are still in school for another couple of weeks, we've gotten a jump start on Summer Goodness: basking in the warmth of the sunshine and the glow of fireflies.

I've picked up my camera and started taking pictures again. I never really stopped, but one day I realized just how much time had elapsed since I had even held the my camera. Photography brings me so much joy.

So do reading and writing. I've been a "reader" since I received my first Golden Look-Look Book. But I've recently rediscovered my first true love - with a vengeance. Currently on my nightstand: The Help, House Rules, and The Shack. I've already devoured Little Bee , but I keep it there. Well worth a re-read.

When I am able to tear myself away from the Best Sellers, I've been gardening and redecorating my house. I bought an indoor palm tree because it reminds me of my trips to Southern California and Gerber Daisies because they are so gosh darn cheerful. I'm vowing to keep the deer off of my hosta this year. It has finally rebounded from it's unauthorized "pruning" last spring.

And with the time I have left over, I've been learning how to be a joyful, appreciative, balanced, non-bitter Single Mom. It's not as easy as many parents I admire make it look. I salute you. It is absolutely not the same as being the Homefront Parent during times of deployments and other assignments that separate families - even though they helped pave the way. No, this is different. Not that all change is bad - I believe in God's promises - but it IS an adjustment.

Through it all, I continue to count my blessings. Every day brings me perspective and God's comfort. And that is definitely Blog-worthy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

14-Day Guarantee

Angus came with a 14-day "guarantee". PetSmart promised to treat him for any illness or disease and replace him if necessary if the unthinkable occurred during the 14 days following purchase.

Today is Day 14. I am relieved to report that Angus is alive, perky, and still a male. The kids are great with him - especially Savannah. Although she still refuses to touch him, she will make sure he has fresh food every morning. She also gives me behavior reports and nap updates. She cuts up kiwi for him and picks the greenest greens for him to nibble. We let him out of the cage every evening to run around in a sectioned off (courtesy of Zay's baby gate) part of the house. He wheets and "popcorns" like a parolee. Mariah supervises his recess and as a result, Angus has grown very fond of her as well. I am surprised at how the little guy has blended in so well with us. But I have to admit, Furry Pet Ownership has been an adjustment...

Recently overheard at my house:

Has anyone seen the hay?

Has anyone seen ANGUS?

But he doesn't want to wear the leash!

Guinea Pig on the loose!

Are those pellets under your bed?


I have never shopped the pet aisle at Target. I have never compared the nutritious properties of different hay. I have never debated the benefits of recycled paper bedding material over wood chips. Shockingly, I enjoy "Guinea Pig Today" as much ~ if not more than ~ "Glamour".

I have also learned:

A red-eyed guinea pig - when the light hits just right - can look possessed.



Isaiah loves Angus, but is also used to being Mommy's only "Mama's Boy"


Just holding Angus can lower my blood pressure





Angus' eyes aren't nearly as creepy with the flash turned OFF




A slumbering Guinea Pig is one of the cutest sights on Earth. Trying to get an actual picture of it is almost impossible. I guess if I my sole purpose for existing was as food for other creatures - I'd be a light sleeper too.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stepping Up to the Challenge

My very special Olympian brought home The Gold at his school's annual Challenge Day. This year they saluted our military. Invited service members escorted the classes in the parade, demonstrated technique, and presented the medals.

Isaiah's epic event was the Ruck Sack Hike. Typically, soldiers carry 40-pound backpacks and lug equipment for the 20-mile, all-terrain hike. Zay wore a hand-weighted backpack up and down a mat ramp.


Daddy was the class' official escort




Left, right, left, right, left!



My Hero



Two awesome students presented a "Proud to be an American" tribute featuring sign language...




...which was no match for America's bravest




Monday, May 16, 2011

Run! It's Anguirus!



Mariah is a huge fan of "Godzilla". While most girls her age are watching banal Hannah Montana repeats, Mariah is busy scouring eBay for classic movies featuring her favorite Tokyo-stomper.

It's no secret my kids want a dog. I know I said I had been considering adopting a shelter dog, but realistically - I don't think it would be a good fit for us right now. The kids have done wonderfully this school year and are old enough for added responsibilities. A pet. With more personality than fish, but is less work than a dog.

Enter Anguirus.



He is the newest member of the Brownies ~ my brown Guinea Baby, if you will. He is named after a monster from the 1955 "Godzilla" movie. And yes - you can guess who named him. It's pronounced ANGER-us, but I call him "Angus". He is adorable. He has a gorgeous rusty-brown colored coat and freaky, beady red eyes. There's nothing wrong with him. His irises have no pigment and are reflecting the red of the blood vessels (so says the Internet). But still, f-r-e-a-k-y.

But he is absolutely sweet as pie.

...which he will end up in if this Pet Experiment 101 is an epic fail.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Oh the Wonderful Things My Son Can Do


Mr. Brown can moo.
Can you?
Can you go like a cow?
Can you go, "Moo Moo"?


~ Dr. Seuss

Last week was Isaiah's annual neuromuscular team evaluation. While some experts in attendance wanted to recount what he still isn't doing, I was more than happy to share news of his amazing progress.

And have a little fun with them.

When the physical therapist asked if Isaiah could jump up with both feet clearing the floor at the same time (which is something he learned from his cousins a few months ago) I suggested that the best way to get him to do it was for them to all get up and jump up and down. I knew full well that Zay would not perform on command - no matter how hard they tried...or as was the case - how high they jumped. But it tickled me beyond measure to witness this display while Isaiah stood there looking all, "WTH is wrong with you people? One word: 'decaf'."

* Isaiah can, in fact, jump up clearing both feet off the ground.

* He is also giving hugs - at will. Walk over to you, put his arms around your neck, head hugs that threaten to burst my heart.

* He can now ride his school bus without his wheelchair. I know we were going to wait until this summer, but his paraprofessional triple-teamed me with the PT and the bus aid. One day last week, the ramp never came down. My son and his aid came stepping off the bus. Shock doesn't begin to describe how I felt. But nothing was stronger than the pride.

There can be so much negativity associated with the Special Needs Universe. Comparing our kiddos to "normal" kids. Anxiety over what our kids can't do. We need to remember to celebrate the inchstones as well as the milestones.

Sometimes it's nice to put the spotlight on all the wonderful things Mr. Brown can do.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Babies Booming: Part 2

Mother's Day was a little extra special for two more of my friends. Each Mommy celebrated with a brand new baby - the most recent additions of the huge 2011 Baby Boom.

Welcome, Brooks and Camden!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rolling up to The White House



On Easter Monday, Mariah and her daddy rolled up to the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn. Mariah ages out of the event later this year when she turns 12, so I was so happy she got this opportunity. It was an unseasonably warm day for late April, but she braved the heat for this unforgettable experience.

Score!



On the lawn



Mariah and "Top Chef" Carla Hall



Mariah and "Top Chef" Spike Mendelsohn



Willow Smith whipping her hair back and forth



Mrs. Obama's garden



Sasha and Malia's swing set



My beautiful Second Kid



Official White House Easter egg on the left; Egg Roll souvenir egg on the right. Eggs-trodinary!