Friday, October 31, 2008
Writing about the good things encountered daily - but often not realized -I realized later that in doing this, it brought me a lot of peace of mind. Just to think of my cup as half-full, as opposed to the half-empty really brings about a big change of attitude, ya know.
Today though, I've decided to select two things in particular to look at and hopefully put them into a different perspective for others, as both of these things have certainly given me pause to stop, think and regard things in a much different light.
The first thing is something that often strikes fear into our minds, our hearts, when we hear it spoken. Especially when it is named to be present in a member of our family, close friend, even just an acquaintance -Cancer.
That word was one I feared for many, many years. Both my parents died of cancer as did one of my Dad's brothers, my Mom's baby sister. My Dad's baby sister had cancer too but fortunately, it was caught back in 1991, she had a colostomy and lived another 17 years to the grand old age of 91. (Ah, see there -already a "good" thing -with advances in science, diagnosis, treatments compared to what was available for my parents, uncle and aunt.) I've lost others close to me too over the years to this disease and no, it was never an easy thing to go through especially a very good friend who lost his life 20 years ago this past September to a very debilitating form of the illness -cancer of the jawbone. At the age of 44, with three children, family, friends galore, it struck him down way before his time should have come -just much, much too young, you know.
But in March of 2003, I found myself in similar circumstances. After having had a test -colonoscopy -there was my surgeon talking to my daughter, Mandy and me, telling us that the results of this test showed a tumor to be present in my colon and yes, there it was, out in the open, that big, bad old "C" word that I had lived in fear of for all my life, really.
And, as he talked about the tumor, then went on to tell us what he had lined up in the short period of time since he'd been scoping around in that part of my anatomy, he explained that in two days, I would report to the oncologist at the hospital to begin Chemo treatments and that the following week, I would go to Altoona, to see the radiologist there and begin radiation treatments to shrink the tumor. Then, probably in June -three months hence, I would have surgery to remove what he hoped would be a much smaller tumor due to the radiation treatments. After that, there would be a period of recuperation and then, I would begin more chemo treatments for six to seven months after that. He had laid out a game plan and time line for me to follow that would keep me very busy for the next ten months, at least.
He never laid this out as something I had a choice about but rather it was very matter-of-fact and in a "You will do this and you will like it" manner! And you know what? That was very much a good thing because had he given me any choice there, I most likely would have gotten up and walked away, probably would have not had any or some of the treatments he set up and very possibly, wouldn't be here today to talk about this either.
I have to confess one other thing here too and that is that only a month before this revelation of my medical issues, my younger daughter, Mandy, had told me that I was going to become a Grandma again - for the second time -and this new baby was due to arrive in October of 2003. At the time she filled me in with her news, I was already majorly depressed because I was unemployed, had been having terrible problems finding anyone willing to hire an older worker such as myself to begin with, not feeling very good because of physical issues -obviously related to the now known causative agent and my thoughts about a new baby were not what they had been six years earlier when my older daughter had told me I was going to be a Grandma for the first time. I'd been absolutely euphoric at her news. Mandy's struck a really bad, very sad chord in my head as I just couldn't bring myself to be excited over her news because I was too deeply engrossed in many other things around me, in my life then. And those feelings of not being able to get really excited over what should have been such a wonderful event about to come my way haunted me until the day after that baby was born and I held her for the first time!
It took a lot of effort to make it through that spring and summer to October that year. Not from the chemo, the radiation, the surgery so much as from the issues I had after the surgery when my back "went south" on me! Days filled with terrible pain, not being able to move, therapy, other issues that harked back to the surgery and problems that cropped up there and the three months prior to the birth of my granddaughter were things I wouldn't have wished on my worst enemy but ultimately, they all worked together to change my perspective about life in general and that is to be thankful for every day, every hour, minute even, when you DON'T have pain as a constant companion! That was just for openers!
Just to be able to finally begin to walk a little better, a little easier, to be able to finally drive again. Not major things to some but to me, back then, just made each day a little bit better. Today, I'm still frequently very stiff, very achy, but as long as I can manage to pull myself out of bed in the morning, see the things around me I love -my children, grandkids, other family, lots of friends, watch the seasons change yet again, breathe the fresh air, sit at my computer and play with words, e-mails, meet new people all the time via blogs and such, just to be able to do the very mundane, often boring things life hands us too -washing dishes, a little tidying up around the old place now and then, reading new books, learning a new skill or refreshing my memory on crafting things I haven't used in many years -just so many things, too numerous to name, all give me so much pleasure now to still be around to enjoy life, with its good, bad and indifferent things, and see this all as wonderful today.
The other factor that has come my way is also something that tends to strike fear, dread in fact, into the hearts and minds of so many who learn that their child (sometimes children) have been diagnosed with the disorder Autism. Yes, if you've been following my blog for any time at all now you know that the two younger of my three grandchildren have both been diagnosed with Autism.
Thursday (yesterday now) morning, watching the Today Show, they had a segment on pertaining to Autism and I cringed as I heard Matt Lauer describe the reactions of so many parents upon learning their child had received this diagnosis as it being a "tragedy." And I thought that is so wrong, such a fallacy. The only tragedy in Autism is ignorance.
Maya and Kurtis, my beautiful little grandchildren, are actually so much like any other child of the same ages, just a little more difficult at times to figure out what's going on inside them that makes them act, react, learn in a different manner than do other children.
They are both little imps! No two ways about that, for sure. Funny -oh my yes! Entertaining? No doubt about that either. Doing things that create messes? You better believe that too! But how does that make them any different then than my own three children were many years back now when they were 2, 3, 4, 5 years old? It doesn't!
Is it more difficult to try to raise a child with autism as opposed to one who doesn't have this disorder? At times, yes -somewhat. But I think the difficulty lies within the adult doing the raising too -in that we have to re-order our own thinking patterns to find a new, a different manner in which to teach the child the simple differences between right and wrong for openers. We have to re-order our thinking process to find a way to help the child to find his or her voice -literally and figuratively! Because they don't always react, respond the same way as other children may in learning how to talk, how to behave, to play, to react to other children and interact with them as well as adults, is not the end of the world. It is however often a thing that to cope, to counter at times, and to do it in a way that is best for all concerned, often brings about a major change of attitude, a higher level of patience then with it.
At least, that is one of the many benefits I have seen within myself that has come to me since Maya and Kurtis came into my life -into our home here. I am very much more patient today with them than I ever was with my three children when they were little! VERY much more patient! Not that I don't sometimes lose that patience level and get very frustrated at times but that is actually all a part of the process that comes with dealing with any small child -autistic or not! It's simply the nature of small children to test their limits by testing ours at the same time!
The very first time I laid eyes on Maya, held her in my arms, looked into her eyes, something spoke to me then and there that told me this child was very special and that she needed me. Not that the autism factor was known to us then -far from it -but there was just something there -a feeling that passed through me and told me this. It was her arrival that actually culminated my healing that year from the cancer, back issues, pain, nausea, etc., and enabled me to accept some physical limitations and change what I could in the process.
She provided the light, the inspiration to keep moving and deal with any setbacks by thinking positively about them. When a little over two years later her brother, Kurtis, came along, it just increased that positivity within me as now, I had two more joys in my life to watch, to assist in the growing process, to teach, to enjoy, to love without reservations.
Today, these two -along with the older grandson -my Prince -Alex -provide my life with so much beauty, light, acceptance and expectation, pride, and sheer love and excitement that there is nothing bettert than that here on this earth.
Cancer and Autism -two unlikely events that so many look on as being the end of the world and I see both of them as life changing, yes for sure, but all to the good!
They both have worked on me over the past five years to make every day, not just Fridays, very "Good Days" indeed!
Come join Shelley -and me -and start celebrating "Only the Good Friday" won't you?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
But no, my post is not about the Gettysburg Address -or anything else even remotely similar to that wonderful speech, so don't go getting your hopes all up high for something spectacular.
Nah, instead it's just another rehash of my day today. Or rather, just a little insight to how much fun it can be -and how irritating it can be at times too -residing with two pre-school age kids, both autistic.
This morning, Mandy had Maya all ready to go to school -heavy winter coat on over her nice little outfit and they stood outside for a while, in the cold, watching it snow, while waiting for the van to show up to pick Maya up and take her over to Clearfield for her classes. After waiting out there for almost 10 minutes, Mandy came back in to call the school to inquire if there was a problem that "Mr. Fred" wasn't here yet and that's how she learned that school had been cancelled for today! Hmmm. A phone call earlier in the morning when they decided to cancel classes would have been a nice gesture, don't 'cha think?
Amazingly enough, Maya -and Kurtis too -were both fairly civilized most of today. No meltdowns at the supper table tonight anyway, and a meal without a meltdown from one or the other child is ALWAYS a bonus day!
This afternoon, a good friend of Mandy's and mine stopped by to visit and have a cup of coffee with us. His given name is "Joe" but Mandy and , in the past, would often tease him, calling him "The Evil One." (Joe and I share a lot of similar traits -ok, mainly one -we both live for sarcasm!) But recently, he started to refer to himself as "Precious" -don't know what inspired him to do this but, it is what it is ya know. Maya knows him -knows his name quite well too. But today when he came to the door, we told her to go open the door and see who was there and she told Mandy and I, "It's Precious!" She said that as he was walking in and the three of us just cracked up that she remembered this was our pet name for Joe.
This evening, after supper, while Mandy ran into town to pick up some stick margerine for me -for my baking needs over the next couple of days -Bill was left to supervise the two kids, get them prepped for bed, etc.
Step one -give them both some pudding -laced with their meds! Maya gets a little bit of melatonin; Kurtis gets melatonin along with some cingular for his allergies, all stirred into a lovely little pudding cup. (Later, he gets a nice big old bottle with an extra dabble of meds -benadryl -which also helps alleviate the allergy issues and helps him sleep a little sounder -usually.
After the pudding, time for a bath and brother, the screaming that ensues with that announcement! Enough to make one go deaf! Prior to the pudding and bath time though, we had a smallish meltdown with Maya who didn't want to sit down, be quiet for a while (so Gram could hear the dialogue on the tv) and because of that and some other minor behavior issues, she was remanded to go sit on the stair steps again. Same as last night's visit to sitting there -screams, shrieks and crys of "I need parents! I need parents!" Don't know where this came from initially -why she decided that would be a good attention getter, but again, it too is what it is, I guess!
But after the bath -my what a difference some nice warm water doth make! Dr. Jeckyl and Ms. Hyde -a regular transformation! Sweet smelling, all smiles, sanitary! What more could one ask for?
Maya returned to the living room, all dressed in her snazzy little pajamas, dancing around and singing to me, "I'm number five! I'm number five! You're 64! You're 64!" Guess she figured at my advanced age, I needed to have this little reminder about my age!
Kids! Gotta love 'em though, don't 'cha?
Now, I know she had been asleep because off and on I had heard the strains of the music this particular DVD plays, over and over, once it is finished. And the only way though that it was actually playing the DVD when I went to go to bed was because Miss Maya apparently has figured out how to get it restarted on the dvd player on my new tv in my room! How she managed that, is beyond me cause I haven't even figured out anything pertaining to operating the DVD player on the new tv!.
Matter of fact, as I moved her over a tad in the bed to make room for Gram's fat self to lay down, I was looking for the remote and she looked over at me and gave me orders, very strict orders, "DO NOT change this because I am WATCHING THIS!" Guess she told me didn't she!
When she arrived home this afternoon from her school -shortly after 4 p.m. -she was in a bossier mood than her usual -telling Mandy she wanted her Mom to give her lunch. We told her no lunch now as I was cooking supper but she didn't like that answer. She came into the living room, tapping me on the arm as I was typing and then, shoved her little face right smack in front of mine and told me "NO! Lunch is now, supper is for later! You give me lunch now!"
I was making chicken corn soup with kluski noodles and biscuit-type dumplings but she announced then too that she didn't want soup but instead she wanted "Something with sauce on it!" Go figure! Apparently she wasn't joking either about not wanting soup because when Mandy put a little bowl of it in front of her, she promptly picked it up and dumped the contents on the floor. That action got quite a reaction then from both her Mom and Dad who, after they finished cleaning up the soup off the floor, sent her to sit on the hall steps and promised her she would be going to bed, minus any supper then tonight and how did she like those apples, ya know.
I'm really somewhat surprised that we didn't get turned in to Children and Youth Services tonight for "cruel and unusual punishment of a five year old" based on the sheer volume- and quantity -of her screams! She sat on the steps, screaming, shrieking, the whole time Mandy, Bill, Kurtis and I sat at the table and ate soup along with a couple slices of homemade Swedish Rye bread. Every now and then, she would interrupt her screams/shrieks by tossing in a sentence here and there, one of 'em being "I need parents!" Hmm, think she was trying to tell us something?
I told Mandy I fully expected her to crash really early this evening though because of her having been awake at 4 a.m. this morning, watching the damned dvd movie and I was right because by 7:30, she was sound asleep on the loveseat! I love it when I am right!
I've been busy this week working on the tablecloth I am embroidering. It has a cluster of flowers in each outside corner, then the same cluster at four point in the center of the cloth, with four small clusters in the middle of each side. Time consuming, very time consuming, but relaxing too. I do enjoy working on this! And after tonight, I have two of the inside corner clusters almost completed! Starting to see "daylight" as it takes on a really pretty appearance as I start doing the colors of the flowers -all in a lovely satin stitch! I know a lot of folks who do embroidery and say they hate to do satin stitch or lazy daisy or french knots more than any other stitch, but I really don't mind this abundance of satin stitches, for some unknown reason. Another "go figure" in the life and times of me.
Tonight though, I got a hankering for apple pie. Had a bag of apples I got the other day and two already prepared frozen pie crusts in the freezer, so I decided to peel and cut up all these apples and make us two pies -with an open top -more like making an apple crisp in many ways than a pie but I figured it would suffice.
However, as I was putting the apples in the pans and then, dropping dots of margerine, sugar and some seasonings on the apples, after I had finished getting one pie ready to pop into the oven and was starting the process on the second pie shell, it suddenly dawned on me that there was something wrong with the container of stuff I had shook over the first pie. Yep, something was wrong alright as I had inadvertantly grabbed a bottle of paprika, mistaking it for the bottle of cinnamon, and had sprinkled the pie quite generously with this paprika too! I was kind of worried how it would affect the fruit (apples) but when it was through baking -still very warm -I cut a big piece of it and slapped two big scoops of butter pecan ice cream on top of the hot pie and scarfed up this big hunk of stuff.
Gotta tell you this too -paprika doesn't hurt the falvor of fresh hot apple pie ala mode. Not. One. Bit! Matter of fact, Mandy was so impressed with the flavor that she said it was calling to her, demanding that she eat another helping of the mixture!
And now that I've given my report here for today and can barely keep my eyes open, I'm going to head to bed but since I don't hear any strange noises coming from there, Mandy must have figured when she carried Maya out there to bed tonight that turning the tv on to use to put Maya to sleep wasn't going to be the least bit necessary.
Wish falling asleep was that darned easy for me!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday afternoon, Mandy and Bill took the kids to a farm stand about 2 miles from here and came home with a pumpkin for each of the kids. Funny, isn't it, how a little adventure like that really gets the kids so excited over something as simple as a nice little pumpkin.
Sunday morning saw us doing something really new though -and for us, quite adventuresome too! Mandy and I took both Kurtis and Maya to church with us!
When Maya was a newborn -two weeks old -we started taking her to church with us and did that until May 0f 2006. She had done fine, was learning to behave a little bit, to sit fairly quietly throughout the service and we were really pleased with her progress about that.
However, when Kurtis was three weeks old and we decided to go to an evening service, all that peace and quiet -and attending church too for Maya -came to a halt when she went into a mini-meltdown as we drove into the church parking lot and then, escalated to a major meltdown as soon as we set foot inside the narthex of the church. From that day on, and for the next thirteen months, Maya stayed home while we went to church! She was, for whatever reason we will probably never know, terrified of the church!
But a year ago this past June, we managed to take her to a service and she did fairly well. Since then, she has been going to church with Mommy and Gram and getting better and better at her behavior most all the time too. However, Kurtis has been a horse of a different color -and because he is loud -really, really loud -doesn't care much for being restrained much of the time and well, pretty unreliable, we have always left him at home to sleep and Daddy would get him his breakfast when he woke up, in his own good time ya know.
However, this Sunday, Bill had things he wanted and needed to do, fairly early in the morning and Mandy debated initially if one of us would go to services, take Maya and the other stay home with Kurtis or if we could possibly give it a shot to take him with us.
We decided this day had to come sooner or later and may as well try to tackle the issues head-on and do it now. So, off we went with both kids in tow! We took two vehicles too because Mandy had to stay after church with Maya for Sunday School so when we went out to church, Maya rode out with me but after church, I took Kurtis, went to get the Sunday paper and a few groceries we needed and came home.
Kurtis did pretty good, all things considered. No, he didn't last the entire service in the sanctuary but when he started to get a little loud, Mandy just got up and took him out to the narthex or down to the library where they do have a speaker and you can sit there and hear the service while keeping little kids there so they dont disrupt the sermon and songs, etc., for other parishioners. She took him out twice and then managed to come back in with him in time for communion and then the recessional hymn.
At home -as well as in public -Kurtis is much different than Maya was though around people -be it family members he knows really well or strangers, his reactions to them can vary by the minute. One time, all smiles and friendly and in the beat of the heart, he can turn to being as miserable as can be, crying, screaming and not wanting anyone, regardless WHO it is, to touch him or speak to him. Today, he was apparently in one of his better moods, as he didn't immediately turn away from anyone who tried to say hello to him and kick, scream and rant but instead was very pleasant and friendly. Yay, yay! First church service was, all told, a success then!
Mandy was a bit worried though how Maya would react if she had to get up and take Kurtis out during the service but, ever the optimist, I said I thought she was doing well enough with church now that she wouldn't have a hissy fit if Mandy disappeared and that I would be able to keep her with me and also, keep her occupied and quiet.
Well, that sort of worked. She stayed with me -only giving a bit of a questioning look when Mandy took Kurtis out the first time. Then in a few minutes, she started to talk to me, asking me where they went and why. So I was trying to whisper my answers to her and keep her occupied with her coloring tablet and such. Usually, during the service, she has learned to try to whisper -well, as much as it is possible for Maya to whisper, that is -but this morning, she would usually only semi-whisper her questions and then, after thinking over my answers, would make her responses to me in a much louder voice.
Whisphered by Maya -"Where'd Mommy 'n Kurt go?" - Gram's response: "Mommy took Kurtis out because he doesn't understand how to be quiet in church and you know, we have to be quiet, and whisper." Maya -in a louder voice "I wanna be noisy too." And a little later, she asked again where Mommy and Kurtis were and I told her that Kurtis wants to run around and we can't do that in church. Again, in a voice well over a whisper, "Well, I wanna run around too!"
It was a very nice service today though -and a special event within our church too as it was Confirmation Sunday with three young people being confirmed today. One was the grandson of our neighbors down the street, another was a young man from the adjacent village to ours and the third, was the Kylie, the daughter of our next-door-neighbor and a young girl who Maya knows quite well as Kylie frequently would be over here with Katie. The kids did their parts in the service with no problems and after church, there was also a special cake in their honor too.
Walking out, after the end of the service, I glanced arouind us and didn't see Maya anywhere so asked Mandy where she was. Mandy said "Oh, she's over there" -pointing to the narthex -"with Alena and Oscar!" I always have to giggle when we mention "Oscar" who is our next-door neighbor's daughter's boyfriend because you see, his name is actually Chris but for some reason, unknown to any of us, from the first time Maya ever met him, no matter how many times we have told her his name and such, she always insists on calling him "Oscar." Fortunately, he's a very good sport about it, doesn't seem to mind at all her own name for him and for that matter, on some occasions in church when she has been restless, if she saw Alena and Chris there, she would leave Mandy and I and go sit between them.
We had a nice supper tonight -roast beef with kluski noodles cooked in the gravy and with the meat, plus a real treat for Mandy, my son and me -baked acorn squash! That's a vegetable my son-in-law isn't crazy about but Clate, Mandy and I love it! So we were able to really pig out on the squash since Bill didn't indulge in any of it which left of course, that much more for the rest of us to enjoy.
After supper, I had intended to sit and watch tv a while and work on my tablecloth I am embroidering however, my body decided differently for me and I promptly fell asleep in the recliner. I woke up after sleeping in the chair for about 3 hours to Mandy taking a picture but her focus wasn't on me -thank you very much for that small favor, dear daughter -but rather of Chino, the kitten, who was sleeping with me -laying on my outstreched legs as you can maybe see by these photos.
Yeah, Chino was totally relaxed, sound asleep and slept through all the picture taking done by Mandy!
Here's a couple other photos now too that Mandy took this afternoon while the kids were out in the yard, enjoying the fall weather while it lasts!
I just love this picture of Kurtis - his little sweater with the shirt underneath -looking so cute and very preppy!
Hope you all enjoyed a nice autumn Sunday with your families as I did!
Now, judging by the weather forecasts for the coming week, winter is about to arrive as snow is being predicted here sometime over the next two days or so. I doubt it will be any accumulation or anything like that -just a warning of what's around the corner for us though perhaps.
So here's this week's collection of Bushisms -something I know you just can't live without knowing what other screwed up comments this fine man has made to and for us.
Monday, October 27, 2008 -85 days left
"I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft."
--Second presidential debate, St. Louis, Missouri, October 2004
Tuesday, October 28, 2008 - 84 days left
"As you know, these are open forums, you're able to come and listen to what I have to say."
--Washington, D.C., October 28, 2003
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 -83 days left
"We all thought there was weapons there, Robin. My opponent thought there was weapons there."
--Second presidental debate, St. Louis, Missouri, October 2004
Thursday, October 30, 2008 - 82 days left
"I think it's very important for the American President to mean what he says. That's why I understand that the enemy could misread what I say. That's why I try to be as clearly as I can."
--Washington, D.C. 2004
Friday, October 31, 2008 - 81 days left
"I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better thn here in America. It's pretty darn strong. I mean, the people see a better future."
--Washington, D.C. 2004
Saturday and Sunday, November 1/2, 2008 - 80 days left and 79 days left
Bush is reelected for a second presidential term. He receives 59,054,087 votes and as was the case in 2000, a single state --this time Ohio --determines the election result. The electoral margin is 286-252.
--November 2, 2004
Just remember, he is trying to be "as clearly as I possibly can." Small comfort, isn't it?
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Penn State, 10; Ohio State, 6!!!
Ah yes, tonight you can believe there will be much celebrating going on it "Happy Valley" as State College, PA is often called.
For quite some time, Happy Valley could have been a modern-day "Mudville" in that there wasn't always too much to celebrate on football Saturdays. We've had more than our fair share of ups and downs over the past couple of years, no doubt about it.
And tonight, as the game -a really big game, by the way -between Penn State and Ohio State began, I actually sat down -embroidery in hand, coffee on the end table beside me -and started to watch the game. First time this seasons since I've thought about what time the game came on (if it was even being televised in our area) and remembered this too so I was ready and waiting for the kick-off to begin.
The first half, to me, wasn't all that exciting. When they went to the locker room at half time, the score was tied at 3-3. No lead to feel the least bit comfortable about there ya know. But then too, a lead at any time during a Penn State game is not necessarily something to feel "comfortable"about either cause I've seen them lose a game -a big game with Michigan just a couple years back comes to mind -in the last seconds of the game. Yeah, that particular game with Michigan was truly a heart-breaker! And one that I had to send out apologetic e-mails after the final score too because with about 30 seconds left in the game or there abouts, I had sent out Rah Rah, we won e-mails to lots of family and friends, only to be made out a liar in those last ticks of the old time clock! Never again will I do that. Makes me a firm believer in that old adage "It ain't over till it's over!" and that was one instance of the truth to that statement.
Tonight, as we neared the end of the game, things looking good with our 10-6 lead, it was tempting to send out a bragging e-mail but I restrained myself. Then, watching Ohio's last play, heart in my mouth fearing a re-run of the debacle a couple seasons ago with Michigan, I was ever so thankful to see that pass aimed at the Ohio player waiting in the end zone intercepted by a Penn State player!
Euphoria? Ecstatic? You betcha! (Yeah, toss a little Sarah phrasing into the mix. I figure Joepa might appreciate that, considering he very much leans to the Republicans.)
I hunted a little online for a picture of Joe Paterno and unfortunately, this is the only one I found -over at the Penn State Athletic Department's website. I was hoping to find something a little bit more recent of "JoePa" -the legendary coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions Football team. But time was running down on me and this was the only one I found and I borrowed it.
Actually, in many ways, JoePa doesn't look all that much different today -at age 81 -than he did whenever this photo was taken. For the games, he dresses the same, year after year, after year -so there's no mistaking him on the field.
This game though he coached from high above the stands in I guess, a press box. He was injured during a game last year and since then, has had some problems with that leg apparently. Hey, if someone wants to make a big deal out of that, let 'em! The man still manages to get the job done, doesn't he?
This win tonight makes Penn State 9-0 on the season -some stats we haven't enjoyed for a long time now and yes, victory is sweet, it surely is! A lot of the chit-chat between plays on the broadcast was about Penn State's standings now and how it does look like we are heading for a national championship season.
I don't want to jinx the guys on the team or anything like that, don't want to count chickens before they hatch ya know. But my, how sweet that would be to have that honor fall on us once again!
I did find this article online tonight though about JoePA and found it interesting -about his longevity as the head coach of the Nittany Lions, people clamoring for his head some years, wanting him to step down and retire.
Personally, as long as JoePa feels he can do it and is still able to get around, to coach, to inspire the players, let him be, let him go at it! For all we know, it may be that his staying on as coach is what keeps him going, energizes him, gives him that extra zest and zeal for life.
With 381 career coaching wins under his belt after tonight's game, I'd love nothing better than to see him continue coaching as long as he can!
Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Go Penn State!
She found some tile that is a bit off the beaten path you might say. It is mottled colors of browns, tans and little gold, a little green -sort of in a splash, then swirled look. Finding a paint color that she liked and which would accent nicely to the tile was a bit tough but eventually, she settled on a shade of green that is sort of a cross between a pale mint and a pale sea green shade. At first, I didn't know how the paint would look with the floor tile colors but surprisingly enough, once the room was all painted, it looks pretty darned nice.
This is a not too hot photo of the floor tile and the paint color but it does give a little idea of how the two do look against each other. Try to ignore the clothes someone had tossed in the corner though, will ya?
Anyway, before painting and putting new tile down, there was the job of ripping up the old tile and preparing the walls. What a mess that was! Especially when they took off the mopboards and discovered a little extra work would be needed before they could get to making the room look nice again. Seems with all the dampness created in the bathroom we had acquired an added problem -called mold!
So Mandy had to prepare the walls, scrubbing them down with some kind of stuff to not just clean the walls but to work as a mold killer too. Needless to say, it was a long, very drawn out process to get everything prepped and ready but it's done now. Thankfully.
We got some bath rugs last week in an ecru shade. Not exactly what we really wanted but it was the closest shade we could find in some rugs that were relatively affordable for the time being anyway.
Now, the wait (and watch too) is on to see how long it will take before Maya decides the walls are too bare and need a bit of her own special art work on them! I'd have to say considering all the work her Mother put into cleaning, painting, putting down the new tile and all, if Maya wants to live to see tomorrow, she best think twice before putting a crayon or pen to these walls!
Friday, October 24, 2008
About a week ago now, I got a little memorandum from Mimi -the Queen, ya know telling me not to forget about the BlogBlast for Peace coming up on November 6th. Yes, Mimi -I got your message and NO, Mimi, I haven't forgotten -just been busy and also doing what I actually do best, which is procrastinating!
But finally -today -I updated my Peace Banner and here it is for it's initial viewing. Nothing special -pretty much like I've had for almost two years now -just the date changed and slight a tiny bit of rearranging is all. I wish I could be creative and fix up a fancy little icon but doing that is not a part of my blogging talents. LOL -do I have ANY blogging talents is the question some would be asking about now!
But anyway, here's the reminder about the BlogBlast for Peace -just in case you didn't get one and would like to participate. Follew the directions as shown below and make yourself a little icon to display, notify the Queen, Mimi -at Mimi Writes, and presto magic, you're on your way to being part of this year's Peace Bloggers movement.
Here are the rules and the story.
(3) Tag at as many people as you'd like.
We will speak with one voice. One subject. One day.
Won't you join us?
November 6, 2008
How To Get Your Peace Globe In 4 easy steps!
1. Right CLICK and SAVE the peace globe below or choose from other designs here.
2. Sign the globe using Paint, Photoshop or a similar graphics tool. Decorate the globe anyway you wish. You can even include the name of your blog. Click here for hundreds of inspiring examples from previous BlogBlasts.
3. Return the peace globe to me via email ~ mimiwrites2005 at yahoo.com - Let me know your blog's name and url by leaving a comment here and signing the Mr. Linky. Your submission will be numbered and dated in the official gallery . Your globe and post will be listed on the Official BlogBlast For Peace website and The Peace Globe Posts page.
Here's the most important part.
4. On November 6, 2008 DISPLAY YOUR GLOBE IN A POST. Title your post "Dona Nobis Pacem". This is important. The goal is for all blog post titles to say the same thing on the same day. Write about peace or simply fly your globe.
Go HERE for the other 3 globe template choices!)
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............................................................................................................YOUR NAME HERE.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE TAGGED TO PLAY.
Please passing this meme through the blogosphere. Peace + Power
This is Mimi Pencil Skirt reporting from the lovely land of the Peace Globes.
Memeing the Movement.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Don't you just hate it when you get struck, full force, in the face, with your own senility?
But anyway -just figured I'd give you all a little bit of an update on last night's dinner and today -etc., etc., etc. (Have you by now figured out that "The King and I" is one of my all-time favorite movies? Etc., etc., etc.!!!)
The bread I baked turned out great -good texture, flavor -just nice. The city chicken also cooked up okay and was good -as were the potatoes, tossed salad, candied carrots -oh, and the Brownies, from a Ghiardelli brownie mix that Mandy used. All good!
We think Kurtis may actually kind of remember Pastor Carrie from his hospital stay since she was there with Mandy the day of his surgery for about two hours or so and even helped to hold him down so the nurses could replace his IV that he so nicely had pulled out of his arm. She was also there at the hospital the day before he was discharged and about a half-hour after she left, is when he suddenly started to drink fluids again. (Which, if you remember, was the causative that landed him back in the hospital in the first place when he refused to drink anything!)
Maya wasn't here for supper last night as she had been visiting with her Aunt Kathy during the afternoon and early evening and by the time she came home, we were dealing in dessert. Of course, that was fine with Maya as she had been eyeing up the pan of brownies earlier in the day and Mandy had put them up atop the freezer in order to prevent them from having all kinds of poke holes in the top of them -from Maya's little fingers trying to dig out a bite here, a bite there of one of her favorite food substances -chocolate!
At supper though, Kurtis was fairly well-behaved although his quirks about what he will and won't eat were evident -wouldn't eat any meat, potatoes or carrots but he did have a big helping of cottage cheese and some freshly baked rye bread with lots of butter on it.
After supper, after dessert too, Maya wanted to show Pastor Carrie the tents -indoor type -the kids have so she got out the Fire house tent and proceeded to start crawling in and out of it. To her surprise though she soon found herself being joined in the tent by Pastor Carrie, who had dropped down on her hands and knees on the floor and crept into one of the two tent opening! Kurtis saw her moving on the floor and immediately came running over to join forces with them too then. So for quite a while therafter, it was two little kids and a grown up playing in the tents and going on a "field trip" which is what Maya decided they were doing.
Don't believe me? Here, see for yourselves!
Now, do you believe me? Trust me when I tell you this, there was much laughter and merriment -squeals of happiness galore from both the kids as they crawled in and out, heads popping up and down in the top opening of the tent and well, lots of other laughter in the room too from Mandy and me as we watched all of this unfold.
Judging from this photo of Pastor Carrie, after the kids gave up the ghost and quit playing in the tent, looks like they may have really played her out, doesn't it?
And, considering how quickly both Maya and Kurtis fell asleep last night, I think it is safe to say that they were played out too!
Today has been one of those days though that just are kind of befuddling at times -when I am not sick or anything, but just have this feeling deep in the pit of my stomach of unrest, kind of sad, depressed, but no rhyme or reason behind it. I think it might be a bit of being tired, not resting very well as I woke up around 2:30-3 a.m. and couldn't fall back to sleep until near to 6 a.m. this morning.
Tonight, the two other children of the son-in-law's were here for supper. I tend to get a little antsy about cooking a meal for them as sometimes, they can be a bit persnickity about what they will or won't eat. They do much better now than they did a few years ago -which could be due to a bit of maturity seeping in there -or perhaps they finally adjusted to my "house rules" which are that I cook one meal for all -not several for a few people, based on individual taste buds. Ok, I do break that rule from time to time with Kurtis and Maya, in that if I am fixing something like roast beef or some other main course that I know they will not touch with a ten-foot pole, I do try to have some old faithful, macaroni and cheese, on stand-by, so they won't go hungry! If anyone would have told me 10, 20, 30 years ago that I would cook like that someday in the future, I would have very matter of factly responded that it wouild be a "cold day in Hell" that I would be cooking like I was running a restaurant here. And yet, that day has arrived -quite a while back too, now that I think of it -and made a liar out of me. My advice now is "never say never!" Tonight's menu consisted of Chicken divan (chicken and broccoli casserole made with cream of chicken soup, Hellman's mayo and cheese sauce -which even Maya and Kurtis ventured forward and ate -along with some more of Gram's homemade rye bread. Both the little kids, as well as the two bigger ones, ate plenty of the rye bread too!)
The son-in-law's ex-mother-in-law, who has custody of his two middle kids, told Mandy this morning that the granddaughter who lives with her had come home from school yesterday very upset. Seems the almost 17-year-old -who Mandy had the go-round with the other day and who gathered up some of her belongings here and is currently staying with her Mom -had given her younger sister her version of how unfairly she had been treated her by Mandy and the younger girl was quite put out by the whole thing. The grandmother had explained to her though that everyone has "house rules" and the smoking, being one that Mandy was adamant about the older girl NOT doing that in the house and especially not in her bedroom, sneaking around about it, etc., and that Mandy was not the villan in this whole deal the way the older girl had portrayed her. While the kids were here though, neither one of them said word one to Mandy about the absence of their older sister so apparently what their grandmother told them had sunk in and they were okay with her explanation of things.
I got a little surpise today though when Mandy and Kurtis returned home from a trip into town for his "Floortime" therapy session. Mandy had stopped and picked up the mail and when she brought it in, she handed me a box and asked what I had ordered from Amazon. "Well, nothing, that I can think of," I told her.
But as I opened the package and saw what it was, I knew right away where it had come from -without even seeing the slip inside the packaging.
It was a copy of the book "The Shack" by Wm. Paul Young. I'd mentioned in a comment recently that I'd heard a lot about this book and was going to put it on a list that I could pass out to my kids closer to Christmas of things I might just appreciate having -or else, I was also thinking of purchasing it for myself if need be too!
Well, seems my good friend out in Arizona took it upon himself to make sure that I did indeed get a copy of this book and I have already now read almost the first 100 pages of it -having started reading it almost immediately after opening the package. And yes, it is a story that really pulls you, draws you into it, deeper and deeper.
And thank you Keith, for the pleasant surprise and your generosity. I'll pass this on to Mandy when I finish it and most likely also to my older daughter, Carrie, too -as judging by what I've read thus far, I think both my girls will also enjoy reading this piece.
I've been trying to work on the current embroidery project too now -as much as possible, whenever I can. This is a tablecloth -larger than the other two I have already completed (52x52 iches square) and it is embroidery, not cross stitch, with lots and lots and yes, lots more flowers and leaves, all done in satin stitch with a preponderence too of centers in these flowers that require tons more french knots and lazy-daisy stitches. Anyone familiar with embroidery stitches will understand what I mean when I say LOTS of those particular stitches! So far, I have all the dark green and lighter green stitching done and am now working on the black floss areas which are either lazy-daisy stitches or french knots. Once I get those all done on the fabric, I will then start to stitch in the various colored flowers -crimson, Christmas Reds, oranges, gold and russet type tones -and those will all be satin stitches. The directions say that some of the flowers are supposed to be done using a "long and short" stitch but I have difficulty with that one so am going to just do them all in the satin stitch. Thankfully, so far anyway, the greenery done in satin stitch has all turned out a-okay!
And that is pretty much the extent of my life the past two days now!
I took some of my meds this afternoon too and the feelings in my gut are slowly disappearing too so apparently those little pink pills are doing what they are supposed to do -easing up my tension levels.
Time now for me to try to get a couple more stragetically placed stitches into my embroidered masterpiece while I can still manage to keep my eyes open. Hopefully, I'll be able to stay awake long enough tonight to watch one of my favorite programs too -"The Office!" Love the humor in that program!
And after that, I'm sure it will be "lights out" for my eyes very quickly -probably will be a close race between Maya and me as to which one of us will crash and burn first tonight cause I am beat!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Last week, there was the elation of Maya's break through -or so we thought -with the potty training. However, the next morning, there was a bit of an accident, if you get my drift and that led to no action in that direction -yep, you read that right, "no action" for the past four days. How she could do that is beyond me, for sure but she did. We tried about every trick in the book too as we tried to cajole her into sitting there, doing what we knew needed to be done by her but nothing. She did on several occasions go back to the bathroom willingly so that was progress, in a way, but still nothing happening. We were really getting worried too -so much so that Mandy gave her a laxative last night that was supposed to work within twelve hours but when 11 a.m. rolled around this morning and nothing had materialized, I had to call the van driver to tell him she wouldn't be going to school today because we were worried that the laxative might kick in while she was at school and well, might be a bit problematic then if that happened.
FINALLY, tonight around 8 p.m., Bill caught her in her now famous (to us, anyway) pose where we knew she was trying to do something and he picked her up, carried her to the bathroom and sat her on the throne. He said she was just stiff, trying her best to hold it in, but once he got her seated there, it was just too much for her and finally -for the second time in five days, she managed to "do the deed" and put it in the big potty. She was really excited after that and of course, we had to save the evidence to show Mommy when she got home tonight from a church meeting! (Yeah, we're maybe a bit strange about things like that I guess. But after struggling with this for so long now, be honest and tell me you wouldn't do the same thing too!)
Then there was the doctor's appointment and the drive to Pittsburgh with Mandy and I getting lost in the basement parking garage under the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center that has provided a little humor, lots of teasing about our sense of direction gone awry and such. I may have seen humor in all that walking, searching for the right level and for our car at the time but by the time Sunday rolled around, my legs were feeling the after effects then too of all that extra walking.
It was really enjoyable though Friday to have the opportunity to check out the new mall down by Washington, PA and also to meet Mandy's Autism Mom friend for the first time and for me, to have a chance to reconnect with my cousin Becky for a couple hours then too. The chance to shop a bit was fun as well. Who doesn't enjoy doing that every now and again?
Of course, this week has been a bit nerve wracking though with the flare-up yesterday between Mandy and her stepdaughter. The girl packed some clothes and left -went up to her Mom's supposedly to live. She did come home today for about 5-10 minutes -long enough to retrieve her majorette outfit and boots and a couple other little odds and ends that she must figure are "must haves" and that her Mom didn't have on hand for her. But nothing else was said by her while she was here so the standoff is still going strong.
But now, I'm a bit on edge about something else too. Mandy decided she wanted to invite our new minister down sometime for supper and it was decided that tomorrow would be the day -actually that would be today as I just happened to look at the clock here and it's almost 2 a.m. here now.
I was antsy about what to cook but finally got the main course settled on -"City Chicken" which of course isn't chicken at all but rather cubes of pork on a skewer. But it is something that has never failed me when I've fixed it before, is really good too and even looks nice when served up as well. I still haven't figured out what to fix for starch and veggies but Mandy says we have to make brownies for dessert because Pastor Carrie has professed to being a big lover of brownies so guess that is ironed out now.
But it's going to be hairy today to get all this accomplished because Mandy has a doctor's appointment at 10:30 for Maya and at 11 a.m., I have a meeting at church. The problem there is one of us is going to have to take Kurtis with us -either Mandy takes him along to Maya's appointment, which will be really rough for her to have to cope with both kids, simultaneously, at the doctor's office -or I get to take him to church with me for a relatively informal meeting of a church committee I am on. Either way, one of us is going to have our hands full, for sure.
At this rate, with all the other stuff that is sort of background noise but a bit nerve wracking nonetheless, and with worrying about fixing dinner for someone other than a family member -which could have me about to pull my hair out -I'm liable to have a major outbreak of little bumps all over my face and be in severe need of some kind of acne treatment! I've heard nerves can trigger an outbreak and this might all just be enough to set off one in me, ya know!
So just hope that things do end up going relatively smoothly between now and then and that I don't burn the main course -or heaven forbid, the brownies - and then we can sit back, relax, chat and enjoy the opportunity to get a little better acquainted with our new pastor.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Ok, a little bit of background information here.
The girl's mother and my son-in-law were never married. From the time the girl was born till she was about 15-16 months old -somewhere in that vicinity -she was in her mother's custody. But then, the mother was accused of not caring for her properly and the girl's great-aunt took custody of her as a foster child. The son-in-law tried at that time to get custody of the girl but the courts would not allow it then since he was unmarried.
When he married his first wife (daughter is wife #2), he petitioned for full custody of the girl and won. However, his first wife was not the best parent to the girl -nor to the two children she and the son-in-law had -and when they divorced, the son-in-law maintained full custody of the girl and the maternal grandmother of the two children from the marriage got custody of those kids.
The girl was about 9-10 years old when Mandy and the son-in-law began dating and was almost 11 when they married. Early in the marriage, the relationship with the girl and Mandy was fairly good but over the past 5 years or so now, there have been a lot of problems.
When the girl was around 13 years old, the mother tried to regain custody but it was denied. She has two sons -one a year older than the girl who had been in his father's custody for several years until he got into a little trouble and the father sent him back to live with the mother. She has a younger son to the guy she was married to but is now either separated from or possibly they are divorced now -not quite sure about that. But she now has the two boys living with her -and her boyfriend.
The mother has not been the best of parents -whether on an absentee basis nor when the girl would go to visit her. She's been known to give the girl a nice gift for her birthday (December date) or for Christmas and then, turn around and take that gift and give it then to one of the boys. She is very lax on any type of discipline, could care less if the girl goes to school, does homework, participates in any extra-curricular activities, had refused in the past to transport the girl to any things she was interested/involved in, including church and youth group stuff too until the courts told her if the girl was staying with her (visitation things) and needed transportation to something, she HAD to take her, not rely on Mandy and the son-in-law to go get her, take her places, bring her back to the mother, etc.
Mandy's tried to be consistent in her rules and regulations she expected the girl to follow while living here. Not oppressive, but strict in some respects. However, the girl is not overly ambitious, has a lot of pipe dreams about what she wants to do -now and in the future -but unwilling to do things in return for things she wants. Thus, she still does pretty much as she pleases here.
She does get herself up and off to school in the morning on her own. Gets up at 4 a.m. to shower, dress, do her hair and make-up in order to be ready to get the bus at 7 a.m. I personally think she is slightly insane to give up that much extra sleep time but then, that's my own personal thing as I would rather sleep till say 6 a.m. and then get up and shower and get ready for school. (Sleep ranks quite high on my priority list ya know!)
Over the past two years, there have been several incidents involving the girl, some of her friends at school and away from school that created a lot of issues between her and Mandy.
At one time, we found out she was taking pills -prescription meds of her Dad's, mine too -taking them to school and agreeing to sell them. She also about two years ago was stealing packs of cigarettes from me and selling them to other kids at school. During that time period, there were also some issues of money going missing from my purse, from Mandy's purse too and she eventually confessed to being the culprit in that as well as taking the cigarettes and pills and selling them. She is just lucky that we found this out before she was caught with any contraband stuff at school though otherwise, she could have gotten in some really big trouble with the school and the law.
Because Mandy felt perhaps she was acting out due to jealousy over Maya and then Kurtis coming into the family, Mandy sought and got counseling for her back then.
There's the issue of school work which she pays no attention to until her grades are so low that she is in risk of failing and denied permission by the school of participating in certain extra-curricular activities which has also resulted in special classes at the school after hours at times, and yes, more counseling. And each school year, she has continued in the same vein -not doing homework, not even cracking a book -unless it is fiction -not participating in the required extra coursework assignments, etc.
This summer, she spent a good deal of the summer with her mom -who now lives about 3/4 of a mile from our house, here in the village. It was during that time that Mandy learned -via various sources -that the girl was smoking. Mandy told her she couldn't watch her 24/7 -obviously -but that she was not permitted to smoke here in this house. She placed high emphasis on the fact too that she had found proof on a few occasions that the girl was smoking in her bedroom -using various make-shift items as ash trays and Mandy told her in no uncertain terms that smoking in her bedrom was totally off limits as she felt this was way too risky a behavior, aside from being illegal at her age too! (Mandy has very strong reasons for this belief too because you see, 17 years ago this past spring, my son caught the house on fire -did extreme damage to the upstairs of the house and we ended up living in a motel for almost four months until the house was repaired. Now, especially with the two little ones here and their being autistic, not always having the same cognizance about many situations as other children their age might have and plus the fact that they are so young, Mandy is adamant that the girl not disobey this particular house rule.
Yesterday, when the girl came home from school, the first thing Mandy told her was that she had discovered the girl is smoking in her bedroom again, tossing the butts out the bedroom window, also leaving the window wide open too, which is a bit insane when one considers the cost of fuel oil to heat the darned house too. So as a result of that, Mandy told her she wanted her to go outside and clean up all the butts she'd thrown out into the yard and again, told her to refrain from smoking in her room and preferably to not smoke at all too. And, if she didn't like this one rule for living here, then she could go live with her mother!
And so, the girl then packed some stuff and away she went.
Now the question here with us, with her aunt too (the son-in-law's sister) is how long will she stay at her Mom's house? Her aunt figures she will be returning back home shortly as she is addicted to the computer and playing with her "My Space" account. Mandy figures it won't take long before the mother will ask her to do something she doesn't want to do so she will come back and I figure it will be when she needs money to do something at school or after school and the mother won't fund her in any way along those lines so she'll slide back and suck up to Mandy and the son-in-law because she needs something.
Now, if this situation were in your own home, how would you deal with this stuff?
My kids were far from little saints when they were in their teens but the did have some responsibilities they were supposed to take care of without my telling them EVERYTHING that I wanted them to do every time something needed to be done. They were supposed to see to it that the dishes were washed and if need be, if I was in need of a little extra help with the laundry or a little cleaning up, yardwork, etc., they were expected to help out then. And usually, they did pretty good about doing most of these things. Usually, not always. But then too, I worked long hours, afternoon-evening shifts and they were here alone and left to their own devices to do these chores and to deal appropriately with their school work as well. (NO, they didn't always follow through all that well on the homework stuff and all three of them now see the error of their ways in that aspect. Yeah, Monday morning quarterbacks, ya know.)
So come on -those of you with kids -especially teens -what rules/regulations would you impose, what would you expect of an individual in this age range who expects to have things handed to her in the way of clothes, permission to go to dances, concerts, money for this, that and the other, and then turns around and does things in total defiance of the one and only real rule she has been expected to follow in the house?
Feel free to log in bets as to how soon she will be back or what will be the compelling factor that will most likely send her back home too.
This inquiring mind really wants to know.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Hearing about Beck's journey there really made me very proud of her -very proud to say this is my cousin who was willing and able to go there, to do that and try to help out in any way she could. Shows great spirit, love and compassion in my opinion.
She also told me a story too about a lady who was really upset over the pronunciation of her daughter's given name. First, I have to ask you this question. If you saw a name with spelling like this -Le-a, how would you pronounce it?
My guess was that it would be pronounced as "Leah" and Beck said that was her initial thought too. However, it seems the lady with the daughter whose name is spelled like that wants the pronuciation to sound like this "Lee Dash a" Interesting, huh? Worth a law suit though? I don't think so.
Actually, my daughter Mandy here pointed out that the symbol there -the dash (-) -well isn't that actually called a hyphen too? And if some people were to regard that as a dash, others as a hyphen, how would you know whether to call the girl "Lee dash a," or perhaps, "Lee hyphen a?"
Just some food for thought for ya!