Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Remembering Meagan

"It takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, and a day to love them, but it takes an entire lifetime to forget them."

Author Unknown

There are some people that just brighten your life just by being in the same room with them. They are loved by all who know them. They have a positivity and light about them-like a glow. They are just better than the rest of us. That was Meagan Toothman.

We found Meagan through a babysitting website and the moment she was with any of my kids everything felt easier. She clicked right away with our family. We weren't “weird” or “different”. She had the innate understanding that all children are the same in that they want to be paid attention to, loved, read to, sang to and she did all of these things effortlessly.

I remember the first time she went to the pool with us in the summer. I was always worried about taking someone new to the pool because it would send most running for the hills. Johnny can be, how do I put it, a handful. He enjoys sprinting along the edge of the entire pool, taking the food right from an unassuming hand of a toddler, and jumping off the board so close to the side your breath literally is sucked from your body watching him. And this is all within the first 10-15 minutes of arrival, but Meagan never missed a beat. She loved the joy he took from being in the water, never tired of chasing him, and wasn't fazed by the people who whispered, stared or made comments under their breath (in their defense, though, when Johnny sweeps in and rips a spiderman toy from the chubby hands of your two year-old in the baby pool, it can be upsetting for a new parent) As Adam says, the deck is stacked against you when you take Johnny to the swimming pool. He describes it like going one-on-one with Lebron, playing to 10 and spotting him 8, you are going to get beat. But Meagan just went with it. Meagan would take on any challenge with Johnny and come out of it making me wish I had half the patience she had. She may have been only twenty-two years-old at the time.
Oh, and how Elizabeth loved her. She was patient, kind, beautiful. They would read books, play outside, and watched cheerleading competitions. Meagan would put Elizabeth's arms up in the air and have her pretend like she was doing a cheer. Elizabeth would laugh and laugh.
I know that we were only a small part of her life, just one summer she was with us. She was also a coach, student, mentor, daughter, sister and so much more to so many people. I never have met Meagan's mother, but if I had I would tell her that her daughter was one of the most special people I have ever met. She was genuine, pretty, smart, kind, and funny. She was an angel even before she was taken from us.
This is truly a case where you can ask God “why” and you will never get an answer that will make your heart mend. Her spirit was uncomparable, her smile contagious, her energy was unmatched. We truly miss you Meagan!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ladies who Lunch

OK so maybe “lady” is a stretch, but I have gotten to go to lunch this week (and dinner last week) with friends, so maybe it is more of “inching closer to middle-aged girl who eats out with others.” Whatever, it has been spectacular. If you know anything about me then you know I LOVE to eat out, but it is somewhat frowned upon in this house to have no job and therefore no income and spend a lot of money eating food that is not made in this house (Booo!) But, it is my birthday week so yeah me, I am going out to eat. Now I get excited eating Chick-fil-a and Chipotle, even if it's in the car. So let's just say it has been an indulgent birthday! Anyway, outside of the food, which is apparently and maybe a little sadly, extremely important to me; I am also so overwhelmed on this day by the support and love of all of my friends/family, those actually taking the time to read this, and always-Adam. But most of all-my inspiration-those crazy kids that I can't believe actually do belong to me :/!

Life is good! (that last declaration was just a reminder to myself!)

Jerzees for 80's night and an early Bday celebration!
A delicious lunch!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Top 10

I was thinking today of how new inventions and modern technology have changed my life- definitely for the better! I know I have made fun of some of the “creative” or “tech savvy” skill sets in previous posts, but that is clearly a defense mechanism, merely trying to mask my own insecurity of not having any true skills. And sure, it may be a tad frustrating that I will not always have or keep up with the “newest” thing, but even the oldest version of the “newest” thing has made a significant impact. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I have decided to make a list of items that have certainly made a difference in my life and at the same time possibly kept me sane. Note: not all are technologically based. Another note, #2-10 could be interchangeable, but # 1 stands.

Top 10:

1.)  The skirted swimsuit; absolutely, unequivocally-yes.

2.)  Google-could not get Jake through school without it and/or might have to get my own library card

3.)  MAC lip gloss-try it and see for yourself (hint-long lasting, shiny, fairly inexpensive)

4.)  Any and all Apple devices and apps-Sure I would survive without them, but am thankful I don't have to.

5.)  Single packets of coffee, tiny kit kats, boxed wine- I cannot put these in any order, they are equally               important to me

6.)  Battery operated Thomas trains-spend 15 minutes in my house and you will see why.

7.)  “slimming” yoga pants-spend an hour in my house and you will see why

8.)  fire starters-great way to get through winter-brrr, I hate to be cold!

9.)  gift cards and social acceptance of giving them-lazy

10.) DVR-pausing live tv, never having to watch a commercial, getting to watch old Glee's with Corey                  Monteith=happiness

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Johnny's Favs

"Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg."

Paul Collins

Wonderful Quotes from Johnny's favorite author:
Dr. Seuss
"Fun is good."
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."
"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one."
"It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become."
"I'm afraid that sometimes you'll play lonely games too. Games you can't win 'cause you'll play against you."
"When he worked, he really worked.  But when he played, he really PLAYED."
"You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child."

Helen Keller

"I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers. "
"Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle."
"What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
"Self-pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cincinnati Reds Field Trip Extravaganza

I hope writing about this field trip is the closest to a PTSD episode I ever have. It was just a typical Spring day, breezy, sunny, a bit of a chill in the air; 2nd graders running about-baseball was in the air. It was a great day for a field trip to the Cincinnati Red's stadium. There would be tours, speakers, play time. This field trip was going to be great! The previous statement may have oozed sarcasm-in actuality it was a great day. Johnny, of course, would not be subjected to sitting and listening to history lessons and the like so Kathy (a fantastic aide in his classroom), Johnny, and myself strolled the grounds (mostly he was being pushed in stroller-that kid totally has my number), played in the museum area that was appropriate for kids, and ate our packed lunch in the actual place designated for lunch! Unfortunately, there were things I didn't consider (yes even after all these years, there were things I didn't consider). First, the field trip was all day, previous ones had only been a couple of hours. So I didn't think about changing a nine year-old in the public restroom and also that same nine year-old's affinity for bolting in a nanosecond. So the bathroom thing was no big deal, easy breezy, but if there was one instruction, one thing we heard throughout the entire day it was- “when we go around the baseball diamond, under no circumstances can anyone step foot on the field.” All the kids and adults nodded in agreement, over and over we were told and we understood (most of us, that is!). The instructions were clear- we would walk around the baseball diamond and not step on it. If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times that day. Turns out my Johnny-not much of a rule follower.

The tour of the field and dugout were highly anticipated by the kids and began uneventfully. We were walking along with the class, close to the rope which was the “barrier” between us and the field, and the environment was controlled. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha HA! Remember that nanosecond? IPAD dropped, attention diverted, Johnny sprinted to the middle of the Red's field toward a moving John Deere riding mower. Well, let's just say, the Red's staff did not find this as amusing as the fellow parent chaperones. The man on the mower screamed over and over at us, at him, to stop. As if? Oh my gosh, by the time I caught up with him he was rounding first headed for a double (not really, he has no idea where the bases are I just wanted to give you a visual of how far he got before I could catch up with him). My heart was absolutely pounding out of my chest. What's interesting is that he wasn't being bad, he could care less about a silly baseball field. He loves riding mowers! I should have anticipated it, should have seen it coming. I guess maybe I wanted to blend in that day, just a mom and her kid on a field trip (so ridiculous, I know). But Johnny always has other plans...........

As one dad put it, “Not many kids will ever get an opportunity to step on a professional baseball field,” and that is true and a good way of looking at it. He just saw and opportunity and seized it! Looking back, I still shake my head and smile cringe thinking about that day.

Yes, he perfectly capable of walking. 
But if you could ride, wouldn't you?

Playing in the museum before the great escape!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I got your social media

Check Facebook for the Instagram pic that I tweeted about. Right? I have no idea. I have just figured out Newsfeed on FB and struggle with not “liking” every picture. I tend to go overboard-I do really like them all! Then Twitter comes along with all the @'s and #'s and I have no idea how to follow or be followed. Frankly, I have trouble reading Twitter and couldn't tweet to anything if I wanted to, it is hard enough to read what others tweet as coherent thought. Then, Instagram makes pictures look all fancy and old- fashioned or does it? I couldn't tell you because I see the Instagram pictures only on Facebook, which is totally bizarre. That is not entirely true, I do have an Instagram account because my 11 year-old is on it and follows professional athletes which, to say the very least, is disconcerting. (Does anyone else see the irony in the name Incognito?) And no, I am not 85, I am almost 39 (depending when you read this). Excuse me? Oh, yes, of course I have a LinkedIn account. So what that it hasn't been updated since its inception and I have no idea how to make a “connection” or update a so-called “skill”. Geez, the pressure. I should just “Tumblr” on over to Pinterest to drool over the clothes I don't need, covet the house I will never have, and eyeball the crafts I couldn't possibly make. Oh well, I need to be thankful Vine wasn't around when I was a teenager (just said a little amen :-) )
Ok, on a serious note, I just never thought I would be the one that technology got away from, that I would sound (deep breath) like an older generation. I guess I should have gotten the hint when my babysitter kept comparing me to her mother and I could not stop looking behind me for the person to whom she was speaking. I think my eyes were particularly swollen that day because of lack of sleep-not because of my age or alcohol consumption! But it does take me back to a time when I distinctly remember my mom telling me -at some point in your life you will look in the mirror and wonder, “who is that woman?” and you will be talking about the person looking back. Mom, I cannot believe it, that time has arrived.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ah yes, the barking

That awkward moment when you realize you have turned your service dog into a spoiled rotten house pet. This happened quite awhile ago but because my dog barks so incessantly, I am reminded often of yet another quest where I have failed miserably. The quick background--my daughter Elizabeth was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 1. She had seizures quite often back then and we thought a dog that could anticipate and support her if she fell from a seizure would be a wonderful thing for our sweet girl. My mom and I went to Frankfort and Elizabeth and myself went through 8 hours of training a day for a week. This in and of itself was the most ridiculous thing. Elizabeth was 2, couldn't walk at the time and was so tiny and Red, our "service" dog was huge. She was supposed to bond with Red by feeding and giving treats to the dog, neither of which she was capable of doing. Needless to say, Red and I came home best friends. Now I love this dog like he is one of my children, but we managed to turn a perfectly trained dog at the time into one that I now spy sleeping and shedding simultaneously on my couch unless there is a faint sound outside and then he will get up and bark like a mad dog for 10 minutes. The barking happens when we say outside, spell outside, get shoes on, grab keys, grab a plastic garbage bag, head in the general direction of the door-well you get the idea. My mom asked me at the time (foreshadowing), "what if this doesn't work out with the dog?" My response, "well I guess it'll be like having a fourth child" (self-fulfilling prophecy).

When they say a picture is worth a thousand word-truth!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Reality Bites

That awkward moment when you really realize you'll never be Savannah Guthrie. It just happened to me seriously this morning. Knocking on the door of 39, I still thought somewhere in the back of my mind that if NBC just happened upon me (yep in Fort Thomas, KY) that they would realize I should be seated next to Matt. I thought it when I was watching Jane Pauley, Katie, Meredith and just today realized that it may, ok won't, ever be me. I know I could party with Kathy Lee and Hoda, shoot the shit with Al and Willie., totally hang with Carson (great addition by the way)-but it really is over. So what if I am a slightly overweight mother of three who lives in Northern Kentucky, has special needs kids and a home that is an absolute wreck-I think I really thought (you read that right), that I would someday get a seat at the table. I don't remember a lot about childhood, but I do remember my mother telling me I could be whatever I wanted to be. Well, mom, I haven't totally decided what I want to be when I grow up, but for the first time Today (pardon the pun) I realized it wasn't going to be a 7-9 gig on must-see morning TV-and that sucks. I guess it is time for a new goal-I think it will be to have someone look at me like Willie looks at Brooke when she guest hosts—utter awe. Man that would be something. Totally legit though, she absolutely rocks.-who knew?