Where Are We Going? I Have No Idea!!

Of all the things in life I could have never been; truck driver, CPA, that person that gets shot out of a canon at the circus….ect….the weirdest thing is carrier pigeon. Not just because I’m not a bird, but because my sense of direction, to put it mildly, blows.  Let me draw you a picture. When I first started blogging, I noticed that on the stats page there is a map of the world and you could see where in the world people are reading your blog. Pretty cool, right? Well, one day I noticed a part of the world highlighted that was attached to Canada but located off the lower 48 of the US. I was SO excited!!! Another part of the world besides the US and Canada was reading my blog!!! Ladies and gentlemen, that section of earth I was so hyped about? ALASKA! (At this point, my parents are probably beaming with pride! 😀 )

Yep, directions and geography are lacking in my brain. The following meme I found on Facebook describes my life with scary accuracy:
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Unless I’m looking at a map-with accompanying directional guide or physically holding a compass, when I go out into the world, the words ‘north’, ‘south’, ‘east’, and ‘west’ mean nothing to me. Since lacking a sense of direction is a point of anxiety for me, using these words, while it might seem helpful at the time, actually make my directional anxiety worse. The most helpful thing for me is to be guided by landmarks around me. The words ‘left’ and ‘right’ are the only directional beacons my brain responds to. Fortunately the man I married gets this.

A few years ago I had just moved from the big city to be nearer him as we prepared to get married. One day I needed to go downtown, a place within walking (or rolling in my case) distance from my apartment. I got lost. In a panic–and more than slightly annoyed–I called my fiance’ and asked him to come down and get me and just drive me to where I needed to go. Yes, I asked him to drive several miles to pick me up, to drive me several blocks. Anxiety can make you want to do strange things, my friends. Fortunately, my man is patient and kind and knows me well. He calmly asked me to describe where I was, the names of the buildings and streets. Then, using only left or right, he guided me to where I needed to be. My very own handsome homing pigeon.

So, if you are also one of the directionally challenged adults, take heart. You are not alone. Now, if you ever see me out in the world and I look lost, just be patient and calmly guide me to the nearest Ulta store. I need to replace my lost pair of tweezers
Cheers!

For the Love of All That is Pure and Holy DON’T TOUCH THE HAIR!!

This weekend our church held their annual fundraiser for the youth. The fundraiser included a silent auction and dinner. The silent auction featured gifts donated by church members as well as things donated by the community at large. These prizes included a basket of movie goodies for a movie night, a spa basket with mani/pedi supplies as well as other hand-made fare. But the most creative silent auction item, besides dinner hosted and cooked by the church pastors? Someone had bravely donated their hair. Yes. They allowed the highest bidder a chance to give their beard the heave-ho. The beard was shaved to the tune of $100. Now the person that donated the money wasn’t the one to actually shave the beard as the man’s daughter was too excited to do it herself. But the shorn hair was put into a nice jar and given to the benefactor as a lovely addition to their mantle. Or something. Yeah, I can’t even believe I just wrote that, but I swear that’s how it went down.

Anyway, on our way home from watching the above described “Event Of the Year,” my husband and I began talking about hair. Specifically the possibility of donating my husband’s hair as an item in next years auction. Apparently we weren’t the only ones to talk about it, as I’ve since heard rumblings from people in our congregation wondering how much it could possibly go for.

See, my husbands hair is kinda spectacular. A self-proclaimed “Metal Head,” my husband’s music of choice is Christian Metal from the 80’s. He also has the perfect hair with which to engage in head banging activities when the mood strikes. Normally it’s around the house when he wants to antagonize our oldest cat. And yes, I am as surprised as you that he’s managed so far to avoid getting his head scratched to bits by angry claws of rage. Not only is it long, but it contains natural, beachy waves that would make any girl with stick straight hair jealous.

So back to the conversation in the car. This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed the length of my husband’s hair and how it’d look if it were significantly shorter. No, this conversation has been happening, off and on, since we’ve been together. Next month this conversation will be 7 years old. This time around I again reassured my husband that it could look very handsome even if it was much shorter than he’d seen it before. I then jokingly suggested he just shave the whole thing off. In jest, he suggested that if I did the same we’d have matching shunt scars (he also has a shunt…long story…). At that point negotiations abruptly shut down. We were at an impasse.

Having the same conversation for nearly 7 years has taught me one thing. As long as it’s not negatively affecting his health, why should I goad my husband into doing something I’m not willing to do myself. Since growing my hair out for the last year, I’ve come to understand why some women cry when getting their hair cut for the first time in years. Growing long hair takes time, patience and work. To cut it off after all that can be seen as a bit of a waste.

So, as all married couples have to do from time to time, we settled on a compromise. This week we will both go into the salon….for trims.

I hope this helps you if you are experiencing an impasse in your own marriage. Remember you are not alone. I’ll see you again tomorrow.

Cheers!

stryper-club-nokia

*Stryper appears courtesy of: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/dc9/stryper-club-nokia.jpg&imgrefurl=http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/dc9/2012/05/michael_sweet_of_stryper_we_ha.php?page%3Dall&h=219&w=230&tbnid=wIYJLPAQTUF1-M:&zoom=1&tbnh=186&tbnw=195&usg=__fG8W0Rkq9i8Z2J4f-YY9t2_R_uA=&docid=IbOLTl0KanyciM&itg=1&client=opera

To the Parents of the Unborn Child Diagnosed with Spina Bifida

First things first: I know this sucks. You had plans for your child, plans for a wonderful future, and this diagnosis will maybe change that future to something unknown and scary. You are scared. But you are also not alone. My parents went through the same thing you are going through. In some ways it was worse for them since I was born pre internet, so they had to do lots of research on their own. There was no google search. There was also no way to know something was wrong until after I was born, although my mom tells me she had a feeling something was wrong, she just didn’t know what. They call it mother’s intuition for a reason. Since you were able to learn of this diagnosis before your child was born, use that to your advantage to prepare yourself as much as you can. 

As part of your research and preparation, get involved with spina bifida support groups. These groups exist to assist families with the myriad of issues that arise when your child is diagnosed with spina bifida. Seek out early intervention support as soon as you can, as early intervention therapy is crucial in helping your child live as normal a life as possible.

I know you must be thinking, “it’s my fault.” Even if you eat all the right things, take enough folic acid, keep yourself as healthy as you can, this can happen. It’s not your fault. This diagnosis does NOT make you a bad parent. If you have to stand in front of a mirror and repeat this mantra everyday, do it.

There is a bit of good news, however. Doctors are now able, in most cases, to repair the spina bifida lesion in  utero. Babies that are born after this surgery have a lesser need for shunts and an increased chance of walking. But if, for whatever reason, surgery is not an option, please don’t despair.

When I was born, there were many unknowns. The doctors told my parents I may never walk. I may never talk. I may not even live through that first night. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’ve been in the business of proving Dr.’s wrong for a long time now. Sometimes doctors are only able to speculate.

Adjust your expectations. In a child with special needs, expecting them to meet standard developmental markers in a certain time frame can be frustrating if these markers are not met. For example, the average age for a child’s first steps is 12-18 months. I took my first steps at 3 years old. Celebrate these milestones as you would for a non disabled child.

I know you are scared. You may even be considering termination out of fear that your child will suffer with this diagnosis. Please don’t. Trust me when I say a child born with a disability knows nothing else. They don’t see their life as suffering. Yes, there will be bad days, days when they look around and see their non disabled friends doing things they can’t or things that don’t come as easy to them. Let them experience this, and be a support to them when they need an ear to listen, or a shoulder to cry on. But in a way, doesn’t every child experience this? Pray daily for your child. For the Lord to grant them extra confidence to get all they can out of life. To try new things and explore. To be a kid.

You can do this. It’ll be a challenge, but I promise you have what it takes to make it through. We do too.

I hope you found this encouraging if you are indeed expecting a child with spina bifida. Please pass this along to anyone you think needs to read these words.

ALWAYS remember you are NEVER alone.

Cheers!

I’d like to thank my mom, Roxanna, for helping me write this through a parents perspective. Thanks for helping me become the woman I am today. I love you 

Dear School Struggler….Your Future is Brighter Than You Know

When I was a kid I swore I’d never work as a teacher because I didn’t like school all that much. The social aspect I handled just fine, but it was the work that I found to be too much at times. Especially math. I’ve struggled with math my entire life. Which is funny when you consider my dad worked as an Actuary, and my siblings were both academically advanced. I like to say that by the time I came along, all the numbers and logic genes had been taken.

Learning anything new was a challenge for me, and I felt many times that I lacked something my fellow peers had–the ability to know and understand the right answer. I also struggled with keeping myself organized, and was constantly losing papers I needed to turn in. I remember one time in 3rd grade we had an assignment to work on a small hand sewing project. This was a long-term project that we’d work on every day during story time. One day I discovered I had lost the materials–they must have landed in the same vortex as my lost homework and retainer–and panicked. Thinking that I wouldn’t be noticed, I pantomimed working on this sewing project, my hands under my desk, my head down. Of course I was caught. My memory becomes a bit fuzzy as to what happened next, but I still remember being embarrassed. My grades suffered due to my lack of organization and inability to recall facts. It wasn’t for a lack of trying though. I remember studying hard, but still coming up short.

As I grew older, my struggles continued. Mostly in math, but soon I added biology to the list. For biology I obtained the book the summer before class started and began reading. That’s the thing about struggling….eventually you figure out how to make things nominally better. And you follow through. Upon high school graduation, my grades were a tiny bit better. But the struggle remained.

I moved away to college. A place that is known for its intense academic environment. And wouldn’t you know, the darndest thing happened. I was passing all my classes. At the end of my 2nd year of college I had accomplished something I had NEVER done in all my years of school….I made the honor roll (in college they call it the deans list, which sounds even cooler 😉 ).  By the time I graduated college I had 2 deans list appearances under my belt.

So how did I suddenly accomplish academic success after years of struggling? Ah, young Padawan, your answer is in your question. If it weren’t for my struggle I wouldn’t have learned coping strategies that would help me be successful in college. Being able to tape record lectures and playing them back later–a strategy I picked up in high school–was one of my many life lines. Acknowledging my learning disability without shame was crucial to my later success. Oh, and that thing about not wanting to teach because of school struggles? I’ve worked in tutoring and child care for the last decade. See I have a useful tool for the classroom. Empathy for kids who are struggling. Kids that sit in classrooms every day and feel stupid. Just like I did all those years ago.

So, dear student, if you are struggling and have dreams of college, fear not. You are learning now the tools you’ll need later for college success. And that will put you ahead of the class.

I hope this encouraged you. Please share with anyone you know who is struggling in school.

Cheers!

wah-wah

*Peanuts image appears courtesy of google search

Dear Late Bloomer…..

I’m a late bloomer. For the first time since I was a little kid, my hair is long enough for a ponytail. And it’s even a longer ponytail than I’ve ever had. My hair is the longest it’s ever been, which is really exciting. I never used to understand why some women cried when they got their long hair cut….then my hair grew longer and I now have recurring dreams nightmares of getting a haircut. Everytime I dream this, I wake up in relief that it wasn’t real. My hair is also long enough to braid. Which leaves just one problem–I never learned how to braid hair….until last week. As I said, I’m a late bloomer. How late? Without giving away my age, I’ll just say this; I still remember where I was when The Challenger space shuttle exploded. 

I’m at a neat stage of my life, being a late-blooming adult. I have gotten into activities that as a kid were difficult for me. Mostly creative endeavors, such as drawing and painting. As a kid sitting in art class, I felt so inadequate. Anything I created turned into something unrecognizable compared to the other kids’. Of course that’s part of being a kid, but at the time, I felt like I wasn’t good enough. After awhile I resigned myself to thinking that artistic talent wasn’t going to be my thing. Then I entered High School.

In my Freshman year of High School, one of the courses that I had to take was environmental science. The last project of the semester was the creation of an ABC book about what we had learned that semester. The only catch was we wouldn’t get our books back till last semester of Senior year (they’d be used to practice walking with and holding a diploma during graduation walk through). Now I was nervous to get this assignment because of my history with less than stellar artwork. Yes, earlier that year in Bible class I had papier mache’d John the Baptist’s head on a silver platter, complete with doily, but it came out kinda creepy looking, with awful shag carpet samples for hair. Later on, my attempt at The Tower of Babel out of sugar cubes fared a bit better, but my teacher did say the tiny people on it weren’t up to scale.  So you can understand my reluctance to try to create a whole book of subpar art.

I decided my approach this time would be to draw an animal for each letter. Instead of drawing it directly onto the page, I’d draw it on construction paper or scraps of origami sheets, then cut it out. I have to admit, I really had fun with this one. I’m sure I procrastinated on it though because I do remember finishing up on the day it was due during a two-hour fog delay. But while creating this book, something funny began to happen. Each animal I created, I actually could ‘see‘ before I cut it out. Yes, I actually saw part of the outline on the paper before I began drawing. This had never happened to me before in all my years in school art classes.

I put in about 24 hours of work on this one book. After I turned it in, I was SO proud of myself. After I graduated High School, I put my focus on things other than art. I really didn’t get into art again until after I graduated college. It was when I was living in a large southern city that the art bug again bit me. I even entered a local art show where I won first place in one of the categories.

So, if you are frustrated at not being able to do something your friends can do, don’t fret a bit. Look for what you are good at and focus on that. I’m sure those other things will come in time. Just be patient. Oh, and that book I made in High School? I got an A. 😉

I hope you found this post encouraging, especially if you are a fellow late bloomer.

Remember you are not alone!

Cheers! 🙂

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*Late Bloomer quote appears courtesy of http://www.quotessays.com/gallery/late-bloomer-quotes-4.jpg.html

Poop is Universal: The Similarities Between Cats and Tiny Humans

A brief disclaimer: I’ve been wanting to write on the following topic but have hesitated because I knew that it’d probably elicit negative reaction from some claiming there’s a vast difference between being in charge of the daily needs of a pet, as opposed to the daily needs of a tiny human. I know these two are vastly different and parents of tiny humans have all my respect. At the same time, when it comes to caring for tiny humans and pets, I feel like there are some things that are more similar than you’d think. 

1. We Both Have to Wipe Butts!! If you don’t have a cat, you may not realize that sometimes, especially with older cats like ours, poop can get stuck in the fur at times. This will cause the cat in question to want to do the “Booty Scrape”; a disgusting dance move invented by cats where they’ll scrap their butt along the floor or carpet in an attempt to rid their backside of poo. If we are lucky enough to see the stuck grossness on their backside before they engage in the above dance, we are tasked with trying to wipe it off their butts before they hit the floor. This task is made all the more difficult because, A: poop clings to fur like glue and, B: cats don’t appreciate when someone is trying to wipe their butt and often attempt to run away. Because of this, it’s sometimes best to try to pick up the running cat and quickly swipe their butt. If the cat is averse to being held, it may take multiple people to administer the “Take Down.” But be on guard-cats, unlike babies, have sharp claws and teeth and will use them if they feel threatened.

2. Poop STINKS No Matter the Species it Comes From! As I type this entry, my oldest cat decided she needed to take a dump. It doesn’t matter that the litter box is far removed from where I currently sit. The scent of fresh poo, yes it has been changed recently, is wafting over my nose and I just pray it goes away soon–on second thought I may need to finish this outside, it’s a nice day anyway. It’s especially embarassing when she decides to poo when company is over…..which leads me to…..

3. Toddlers and Cats Can Act Inappropriately When Company Calls! Whether it’s busting out baby’s first swear word or taking a dump when company is over, toddlers and cats can behave less than politely at the most inappropriate times. Case in point, we had a visit with one of our lovely neighbors last year. She was wearing a dress and our oldest–and most social–cat proceeded to come up to her and walk under the gap in her skirt, sits down and…I can hardly type this next part….LOOKS UP curiously!! To ratchet up the crazy, she did this again the next time this sweet neighbor came calling. Now when company comes over, we encourage all visitors to wear pants as opposed to skirts and dresses. If they insist on wearing a dress or skirt, they are seated quickly.   

4. They Want Attention at 3am! Out of boredom, needing more food or maybe having a nightmare–I guess it’s possible–our furbabies can need attention at a moment’s notice…..at 3am. I remember once our oldest woke me up early, which usually means she needs food. But the bowl was full. She also had plenty of water. So I went back to bed. 2 hours later, she woke me up again. Same drill, still had food, water…etc. So I picked her up, rocked her back and forth, and sang her a song (at this point I realize how completely crazy I sound, but I really wanted to figure out what she needed so I could go back to sleep). When she woke me up again, you guessed it, 2 hours later, I opened the door and let her into our room. My husband had to get up early for work, so I made sure she didn’t wake him up as she came in. She jumped on the bed, walked over to my soundly sleeping husband, looked at him, then quickly turned, jumped off the bed and out of the bedroom. Turns out, she just wanted to see daddy! She didn’t bother me the rest of the night–or what was left of it.

5. They Have Unexplained Anxiety to Random Objects! Cats’ fear of vacuums has become a universal fact. For unexplained reasons, the noise perhaps, vacuums make cats scurry to the next room to seek shelter. But you can add to this list of feared items, anyone that comes to the door–including their own cat parents, shaking open garbage bags, house alarms, running water and riding in cars. Looking over this list, it seems noise aversion is prevalent. Still haven’t figured out the car thing though.

6. They Bring SO Much Joy and Laughter to our House! This weekend I came home from work and took my shoes and leg braces off. Our oldest came into the room and started pheromoning my braces. She really got into it to, rolling around on them. She does this often and I’m just waiting for the day that she gets her fur stuck on the velcro used to fasten them. At one point she stuck her entire head inside one, wearing it almost like a hat! She also thought my bottle of dry shampoo was the best toy ever last night, perfect size and shape for practicing barrel rolls. Then there are the times that both cats will run as fast as they can through the house, for no apparent reason. This spectacle is quite entertaining, unless they get the urge at 3am.

Whether we care for cats, dogs or tiny humans, I think we can all agree that it can be difficult at times, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Both paths are noble and selfless.

Remember you are never alone.

Cheers!

*realistic cat meme appears courtesy of: https://catmacros.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/youre-not-my-real-mom/