Blue for Fellow Bluebirds

Whenever there is a gathering of cancer survivors, there is a common bond.  It goes beyond having had cancer.  It is not something as explainable as that. And there are some people that don’t take their mental growth it to the next level.  But many do.  Many come out on the other side, once it is in remission, not quite the same. And those that continue to battle it, do not either.

I think the fear of death is lessened.  Facing your mortality is something everyone experiences with a diagnosis of cancer. Looking at yourself in the mirror and realizing you have that C word is scary and early on, it is normal to question if the doctor is wrong and there is more of it in you. Will you survive the treatment? We all have heard of people that have died from the treatment and not from the cancer.  

The questions, the what ifs cause an unending bundle of nerves and anxiety.  The only way to gain some control is to let go of trying to control. What a paradox, having to let go when you want to control. Cancer teaches you that you don’t.  You didn't pick the time of your
birth and you won’t pick the time of your death. You can only choose the way that you live.

So you begin to evaluate the way you live. I think you gravitate towards survivors that have experienced what you have or people that share your sentiments, be positive with the life you have left. Negativity leads to sadness.  Anxiety and stress leads to illness and immunity issues.  Those lead to cancer and cancer kills. You learned that firsthand.  Let God pick your time of death, not you.  Poor lifestyle choices will make that time come much quicker.

One of the best places, I found, to surround myself with cancer survivors is Camp Bluebird sponsored by a local hospital, St. Thomas in Nashville, TN.  When I attend it is like being back home at a family reunion or with an entire collection of best friends, diverse but as close as can be

Instantly, upon arriving and being greeted with hugs, there was that immediate connection.  It is an unspeakable bond though most of the time our diagnosis is not discussed. You may wonder why and simply the reality is, because it doesn't need to be. None of us let our diagnosis define us as people.

We have lived through cancer, experienced it, we do not need to talk about it. Some there are still living with is, some may not survive it and some of us may get a re-occurrence
between now and the time we return.  Now is the time to rejoice in being together.  We want to cherish each other.  Living life,  every moment as if it is the last and reinforce each other’s attitudes about life.  We do this, energize each other because so many people in the world do not care to love unconditionally, will not listen to others non-judgmentally, will not hug for no reason or embrace unselfishly. We know this is needed;as Diana Ross sang “What the world needs now is love sweet love.” 

Now, when I am outside or looking out a window and I see a bluebird suddenly appear, I smile.   I think of all my dear friends at Camp Bluebird, of all we share and how we care.  I then say a prayer thanking God for the treasure of each and every one of them.   Link to Video from Camp By V. Gliatti

Nurse Staff at Camp that volunteer for free at Camp


Ava's Reflection

Mirror mirror you cannot tell a lie
You know that my age sometimes makes me cry.
And often times causes me to lie!
But wise mirror, you also know well
I am starting to look like hell.

Old age isn't always kind,
It hits and it's as subtle as Here's your sign!

I think it is only fitting
That as I try to age with grace,
That someone came into my life
To remind me of my youthful pace.
Oh how I use to have energy that knew no bounds,
And I seldom ever frowned.

Wow, was I ever really so full of that much fire?
Did I  have that much spunk?
Did I light up a room, 
Could I jiggle my cute little trunk?  

Nah, I think darling Ava,
Was from a different mold,
She came out unique,
Loving, laughing & bold!

She is front and center in my life,
That is for sure.
And her cute little innocence
Is still so sweet and pure!

I think it is so fitting, oh mirror,
That the fairest maiden in all the land you see,
Is none other than my granddaughter Ava, 
Who comes by it naturally!

It is possible to love her any more

I seriously think not,
From the tip of her toes,
To her little pony tail knots,
I would not change a thing
About my kids' little Ava bug.
Because nothing is as priceless
As a Ava bear hug!


Adult Children Still need Anchors on Earth

There is no rule book when a child grows up and becomes an adult how to have a relationship with an adult child. And yet, the mothers, they always remain in their hearts, their babies. And yet, they are not a child anymore, they are a self-sufficient, self-supporting adults no longer requiring their moms and dads to be in that same role they played for so many years. 

At times, this is an easy transition, for either a mother or a dad. Letting loose, living your life free of the responsibilities of parenting sound fun and carefree. But this change can be emotionally hard. When the road gets rocky, or when parents construe their adult children making mistakes in judgment that are going to cost them down the road, let’s face it, as parents they want to jump and give their two cents But these are different times, their children have different dynamics as a family and their children are unique.  They deserve the freedom and the confidence to be their problem solvers.   Rule one, butt out! It helps keep the peace.  Reality, interference will be reprimanded. Some adult children won’t see the love behind it and will resent their parents for trying to right a wrong.

As children, many of us raised our children in a Christian home that mandated going to church regularly.  Their anchor, you taught, was their faith in God, their family and all else fell behind that.  At a certain age, it is hard to watch but they may very well fall away from the church. This is so normal. But, when families begin to grow and little children come to the forefront, things change.  Many come back to their Christian beginnings where they were fostered in their faith.  They often times, begin the path of leading their children to Jesus.  Be patient.  God has a plan for these children of God, they were only given to their parents for a short time.

Trying to give marital advice can be detrimental big time.  Their marriage is sacred and must come before all others.   Confiding in parents is only presenting one view of the issues.  Giving advice is not input from an expert.   This puts their parents in a vicarious position, accepting the responsibility again of their adult children’s success or failure of something bigger than a Band-Aid fix.  The bias of a parent can’t be removed from input also.  Encourage counseling and communication and if they need help, let them seek out others.  Parents get burnt by getting involved!  They are not children. Ultimately, they want the respect of their parents as are now adults so treat them that way.  Rule 1, butt out.

It is hard not being in the know in their lives.  Many parents struggle with this. When children are young, mothers in particular are the master schedulers, the project managers of their children’s life.  Now the role is on the sidelines.  Most weeks Mon.-Fri. is a mystery unless a parent is told in advance by a grandchild!  In today’s world, adult children are leading hectic busy lives. It is hard to get everything done let alone keep their parents current with the timeline of their lives.  They tell their parents when they are out of time; keep them updated on news items and when they need to be where.  Be grateful for these snippets. It is like the song Cats in the Cradle in a way, leading busy lives is what was taught. Now it is playing out in their lives.  They are what they were taught.

What role is it a parent plays in an adult child’s life, friend or parent or both? How to know which direction to go?  This is tricky.  As they say, untie your apron strings, unless baking cookies. No longer are there curfews to be held over anyone’s head nor holding up car keys as punishment, or cutting back allowance.  The priority in their life is not their parents and it shouldn’t be. It does not mean the love is not there.  Now they put their own immediate family first, as they were taught behind their faith.  Extended family and then friends are next in line as important in their lives.  In the family category is also ‘chosen family’ which indeed includes friends. Some friends are as endearing as or more endearing than family.

Ironic that now the parents have the time and the desire to put a great deal more time into the relationship with their children and their child, now an adult simply does not have the time. It isn’t as if the adult child does not have the desire as they know their parent is aging and time is in shorter supply but time is not always a best friend. But, the parents can look at Facebook, hear updates on phone calls and reflect on families visits and see how rich their lives are.   This is what you raised them for, to have a blessed life.  Knowing this is a comfort and on a lonely day, this is important to remember.  Be grateful they are letting you share in it when they can.  Know the time frame doesn’t represent the love. 

Know that you will never stop being parents in a child’s eyes. In some far recesses of their mind, they feel it.  They may not even like it, they may hate their parent, disown them, and defy them but God chose their parent for a reason and they will always remain bonded.  That fact can’t be changed.  Obviously it is healthier if the relationship is a positive one. When in need for someone to fall upon, it is comforting to know a relationship that has been mutually fostered with your parent though-out all the years, keeps that unconditional love alive.  The adult child can always tap into it when in need. 

The past is over.  Embrace the now. The sooner it is done, the better for all.    Social media is a great source of information also.  Check it out and get with the times.   It is a new world and change is good.  Live in today’s world so that adult children can feel good about the relationship that is continuing to develop with their parents.  It should continue to grow and develop.

The best part about prosperous adult children is sitting back and seeing the legacy at work.  When parents are together with them, know it was a conscious choice to make time to be with their parents. Feel the love in the air and remember the feeling from all those years ago.  It is different in ways, being with your adult child; the child has grown but is now fostering those feelings into their own children. The love and bonding between parent and child is still felt, though at any age.  Cherish it, even now. See, some things really never do go away.  Parents are still the anchor right behind God.    This Link has some of my fav photos to 1 of my fav songs



New Chapter

Summer is ending and a new chapter starts.  It is the beginning of a new school year.  For two of my grandkids, it is a huge step. No longer are they walking in the front door of an elementary school as the littlest kids in the hallway. Nope, they are not kindergartens anymore. 

School is back in session and they are in the big league now, first grade.  There is no looking back. Now school lasts a whole day, no break, all subjects are covered and coloring pages are few and far between.  Sooner rather than later, they will find those dreaded pages to be ones they miss.  Now, days will be compounded with spelling quizzes, reading comprehension, math tables and homework projects.  But they will also learn and grow leaps and bounds as their young minds develop beyond where their parents even envisioned them being in one year.

Also, in another town, far away from where I live, I saw pictures of a cute little girl, through the wonders of Facebook!  She was embarking on a bus ride to kindergarten I presume, looking as pretty as her mom and not showing an ounce of fear.  Maybe having her male buddy, my grandson, at her side helped. They both were all smiles lighting up the picture as their parents took turns posing with them on that first day. She looked more than ready for the lesson plans ahead.  I doubt her experiences in the classroom will do anything but build her confidence level in her ability to do anything in life she wants to do.  I hope that attitude will make my grandson love school as much as her!

My other grandson headed towards big boy preschool. He had no idea that now he was going with non-autistic children. See, labeling is not something our family really believes in.  People are people, period.  God doesn’t label individuals so why should we?  Autism is a diagnosis of sorts, not a definition of a person.  And this handsome dude is performing so well, he is ready to be with other young children socially and academically just like he did in one of his 2 day a week classes last year.  So far, he is excelling and so well behaved.  Cheers to his future! He surprises us every step of the way.

The other grandchildren, they are all thriving too. They have enjoyed their summer and have each mastered new things and grown.  Vocabulary for the little one has expanded, as has his temperament. Would a child be normal if it hadn’t?  And for the 5 year old, he has become even more social and loveable.  This is so refreshing to see in a boy.  Our other one in Michigan we don’t hear as much about. His mom doesn’t keep us as informed as the other moms but through Facebook we do see pictures from time to time and looks happy. To us, that is what matters most, happy and loved!

Someone else who began a new chapter in life recently is a woman in my family who married a high school sweetheart in Michigan a little over a week ago, my cousin Bill’s daughter. Theirs was a relationship filled with the usual turbulence everyone goes through, the ups and downs, on and off again that make up real relationships. Who has the fairy tale beginning and ending story to romance?  Yeah, the Bachelor and Bachelorette Show, ah, Reality check! Donnie and Donna are the real drama of a relationship. 

They certainly had the culmination of a long time coming resolution of a long courtship.  The wedding was beyond beautiful.  It was touching, was ceremonious and yet had love, laughter and was a blast too! All in attendance would agree, the love that was felt at the wedding was simply mesmerizing and carried over to the guests. 

I have always considered myself a great judge of character.  I seem to have good intuition too.  Watching the bride and the groom interact, I was struck by the camaraderie, the ease at which they moved together. They seemed to move as one, such was the comfort level with each other.   And I know God was smiling because their daughter has a new beginning. Just after turning one, her mommy and daddy are married now!

Even more poignant to me was the level of love you witnessed at the reception in the groom and bride’s family. It was like watching a love-fest! 
Honestly, I have never seen families so outwardly affectionate towards each other.  It was quite moving to all in attendance, and made many of us envious that we were not part of such dynamic families.  The brother of the groom and the groom were continually in celebration that evening of the day’s events and yet, through it all, you could tell their commitment to each other.  Two brothers bonded forever.  Thus, the groom was starting a new chapter but was not leaving his brother or his family behind. Nor was the bride.  It was a beautiful blending of two loving families. Two families began a new phase in life, loving and sharing in each other’s lives that night and in the future.   

New chapters in our grandkids lives help us recognize that the world keeps on turning and, as it does, our lives are changing too, in a good way.  When we attend a wedding, we see the ending of one way of life for two single individuals and the start of a new world opening up for the married couple.  Time changes things and, as it happens, so must we.  It is a challenge we must accept. 

In both instances, just like in many things in life, beginning new chapters means picking and choosing what you leave behind.  History can repeat itself if you do the same thing you have always done. Wisdom is not doing so. 

What got those children to the front door of the school or the couple to the altar means far less than what they all do after they got there. The same is true of all of us. What you did yesterday is not nearly as important as what you do today.  For today is your new chapter. Make it a good one.  And remember, wonderful chapters are happening all around us; School is starting, a marriage began today, a baby was born, someone resolved their differences, a new job began, a child was adopted…

My video is simply images of the folks I mentioned in my blog…enjoy! I wish them all the best, every one of them! 


Tweet Tweet

Man, I remember hitting a certain age, I can’t say it, you can’t make me but let’s leave it at its a big 0-ne.  I felt okay about accepting it but wondered how younger people would look at me. Would they hear my age and act like my kids, “Damn you are old!” Or maybe the reaction would be more subtle; perhaps folks would just make a big circle around me when they saw me coming and think to themselves here comes the lady a month away from needing a walker! I do experience, even now, from time to time, someone will find it out and all the sudden, communication is short and sweet, “nice meeting you, have a nice life!”   And that is actually cool with me.  I am not concerned in the least with winning a popularity award.  Heck, I try to be different, not conform!  And Twitter is one of the best vehicles for putting age aside. 

Messing around on Facebook for several years and just being an outgoing personality type, I have observed some things.  Different age groups talk differently. Every few years, the buzz words change, and they change for different demographics, and for different generations.  It is all very confusing, I find, when you enjoy having relationships with a diverse crowd.  This is something I have always prided myself on, from when I was a child. I had a friend that was a disabled child with mental facilities impaired that went to our church. Other kids laughed at her as if she wasn’t there and couldn’t notice. I played with her and found it an honor to work with her. She was so sweet and appreciative of everything, unlike most people in my world.

There was a senior citizen lady who lived next to my grandparents also.  She was someone I could relate to, funny as it sounds and become a good friend to me, like a surrogate grandma too. I went to see her every time we visited them. She always seemed to be waiting for someone to visit her who never showed up. But I always came, unannounced, to her delight. And I was so excited to see her and would sit on her bed and listen for hours to her endless stories of her childhood.   She always said she thought she was boring me but my eyes told a different story and she knew it.  Louise, I loved that lady and she was the gift not I.

Talking to different people requires adjusting your language skills abit to match theirs for ease in understanding.  On Facebook, everyone stays well within in their comfort zone. Connecting with friends and family, neighbors and co-workers keeps life perfectly even keel, on track and no need to adjust our way of thinking too much.  If we don’t like something someone says, we can just defriend them, good-bye, so long!  Just pick up someone else in their place if you don’t think your friend list is long enough.  Heck, you can even find a new friend that has perspectives that match yours so you have the commonality.

Twitter is different however.   There is no real choosing what is coming through the steam.  I can see the injustices, but also the everyday heros, the hypocrites, and the news stories that are touching off hot buttons in others.  I read the words of the self-righteous, the philosophers, the researchers, the comedians and everyone in between.  So many of the people on Twitter are not folks we live by, have coffee or a drink with or have our lives entwined with other than the world of Twitter.  We may be thousands of miles apart, on a different time zone, an age gap apart, and completely separate on our views on many things but for the split second in time we communicate on Twitter, we are bonded, in that moment.  And that is sweet!  Technology at its best.  You can walk away or not respond if you don’t like it. 

Even with my age, even with the demographics being different, as it is, Twitter allows us to stand as we are, individuals, with no pretense, for many with no hidden agenda either, and captivate others with our honesty. Sure there are those that are all about promoting themselves, their business, and their ideology. We all know who they are, just read their read tweets a few days in row. They aren’t fooling anyone.  But Twitter is useful for that as well and does serve a purpose for reaching out to that crowd as well. Again, free choice, free will. Read what you want, follow who you will.

I find so much of the  sharing on Twitter is not as much about the mundane inconsequential in life as “ I just got back from the store and the traffic was hellious” or”Just cut my grass, it needed it so badly!”  It is more about things that are food for thought, things that inspire, things that alter our opinions or belief system, new information in different fields of interest and perhaps in areas we might otherwise know nothing about. It is also a chance to comment and communicate with individuals we do not have access to, be it politicians, celebrities, sports heroes, legends, idols, favorite authors, etc…

It is amazing the amount of information you can learn from Twitter! One day I wrote down each piece of new information I gained and shared it with a few friends.  They were astounded. I had not forewarned them where I had done my research. Not one of them is on Twitter, nor are they now. Some folks don’t care about that type of learning and that’s okay too. I have a continual thirst for knowledge, for others views, I enjoy the challenge of my thinking being debated by opening myself up to others opinions. I need to hear more about the world than my small piece of it. The news doesn’t tell it all, it is too jaded.

The sources for the best growth opportunities are not always where you think.  It can be something profound coming from a young adult.  Yes, they say the most inspiring statement, from the mouth of babes I suppose is so cliché yet so true. I make a point of staying connected to people younger than me always!  There are some individuals that simply delight in sharing new medical breakthroughs in areas like cancer research, that those of us, as cancer survivors, have no idea how to weed out fact from fiction. These folks are priceless on my following list.  The celebrities list is just plain fun, especially the ones that take the time to occasionally respond to their fans.  It makes everyone feel they are real and humble and grateful to their fans.  Too many simple have their site manned by a PR machine that just pumps out show dates and ticket information.  Anyone can get that from a website or venue location. Again, those in the spotlight that show that they put on their pants like the rest of us and share the normality of their lives by commenting on the news, tweets sent to them occasionally or things going on in their life, kudos.   

Too much hot debate is occurring on social media these days.  What a waste of energy.  We don’t need what goes on in the world scene to play out in the few areas in life where we get some of our mojo.  Let’s leave the fighting and debate where it belongs and draw a line somewhere so that we can just have a safe zone.  Twitter seems to fulfill that mission.  If all someone wants to do is bitch on Twitter, in general, not too many folks are going to listen.  Or respond.   Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have been attacked for my viewpoint on Twitter. Early on I made a comment that led to a string of what I considered hate tweets.  But it was something said with good intentions and with Twitter, you just have to apologize someone was offended and let it go. And it is history. And no, I was not ‘defriended.’ Infact, I still follow the person. Why wouldn’t I, I still value her opinions.

My followers and following list on Twitter, to date, consists of people of all ages. I am inspired by each of them for a wide range of reasons.  Some of them are just plain interesting. Many on my list, their perspectives, their ideas, and their posts amuse me, delight me, humor me, or force me to look at the world through their eyes.  I can only hope to do the same to them.  I am certain they, like I, are incapable of reading all tweets.   There is never enough time in the day and too many messages coming through.  Plus, if someone starts following me or comments on my tweet that is new to me, I want to review their profile to see if it is of interest and if we should possibly be connected.

Twitter is that simple, KISS principle is in full focus here since your character count is limited.  You have to love that. Long-winded folks can’t go into a soap opera. Say what you want to say, and then move on.  It forces everyone to be direct.  If you want to read more, put a link on to the article, blog or whatever.  Otherwise, be done with it!

On Facebook, I see most circles are people close in age. On Twitter, I see completely the opposite.  On FB I see demographics are the same. Again, on Twitter I see the opposite. I love that about Twitter also as it is replicative of my love of diversity and my ability to adapt to others. For me, I have always been known to have friends that cross all lines of race, gender, sex stereo-types, religious beliefs, backgrounds, etc. I have always believed being open-minded and have friends that are different makes me more worldly, not just a college education. You need an education on life!  How can you get it if you stick with just replicas of yourself?  I suppose too I think I am different, truth be known!  And I don’t believe anyone is quite as they seem. We all have a story behind our eyes.  I enjoy trying to find it.

I am grateful for all the followers I have on Twitter, from the youngest to the oldest. I respect and love the fact the folks I follow seem to be real, consistently representing their views and attitudes. But again, this is the internet so we can hide behind a façade so one never knows but that is true in face to face relationships too.

I would hope, at times, we are influencing each other’s opinions, and from time to time, changing other’s perspectives, moods, and attitudes.  But what is the most important is that we are just plain listening.  Too many people are caught up not actively listening. Tweeting a response of any size says, I heard you.  In a sense, you’re conveying to the sender that their message had value, it did not fall on deaf ears. 

It is great to retort to others tweets but also notable that it seems to be done with respect.  Wow, could so many in the public eye learn from this protocol or what?  I also love the fact that so often folks share divine messages that seem to come straight from a higher power, in my life that is defined as God. And so many comment on how touched and relevant these messages are. What a catalyst for change so many folks are on this media every day. There is really no way to calculate how many lives are affected by your one little Tweet. Something as little as “You are loved” could impact an entire workplace, a community, a city, etc…. showing your Tweet makes a difference.  So I guess in closing I say, keep up with the Tweet Tweet!


Four Years Can Make a Difference

 It is not easy being number three. When you have two cute siblings that get so much

attention, how in the world is there going to be time for any of your mom and dad’s friends and family to pour any attention on you? 
Well, I suppose the only way is to be just as cute as can be and try to be entertaining.  So, when I was born, I liked the fact my parents gave me a straight up, easy to say name Jake so no one would stumble trying to remember or say my name.  I am me, I keep it real, what you see is what you get.  Yes siree, I am as forthright as little boys can be.

Early on, I learned to ham it up to get folks to laugh. I cannot stand to see anyone down, especially my mommy or my daddy. At the least sign of sadness, I simply must come up with something hilarious to do.  Bet you didn’t know this but some children come by this naturally. I am one such child.  It is innate in me, I can just open my eyes, shut them and then open them back up in a way that makes everyone crack up laughing.  I can dance, giggle, talk funny, and act goofy on the spot, and make someone go from feeling glum to feeling happy. I delight in this and realize this must be one of my main gifts.

I am not known for having volume control but that is also for a purpose. In a house with two other children, within 2 1/2 years of my age, how do you expect me to be heard with a whisper? I have learned being loud gets you the attention. Thus, I can shout loud, repeatedly and with command that says “Hey, I am talking, listen; I am in control of the situation!”   For a short small little guy, it is amazing how bossy I can be when I want to.  Perhaps that is why mommy has come up with that chair she sometimes has me sit in that is placed strategically in the corner.  But honestly, let’s not get into that. I so seldom have to sit there. Why dwell on the negative.  And when I do, my darling little smile gets me out quickly!

I am a good eater.   Well, most of the time.   As a baby, I would eat about anything put before me. When I learned my siblings were picky, I decided, hey if they can get away with it, why not me?   However, I prefer to not go hungry so sometimes I dog that idea completely.  Plus I prefer to get head nods from my folks.  If the other two want to get reprimanded for not eating their meals, go for it! It just makes me look that much better! 

I don’t need anyone to help me fight my fights, though I think my sister would help me if I needed her. Well, maybe she would, when she wasn’t fighting with me herself.  I can stand up on my own though, quite well, daddy says. I came out of the womb with a good
strong left hook and I am not shy about using it.  I think my punch is as good as my bite.  And if I want something, I go for it.  I see it as being aggressive. In today’s world, I think my parents will see, in time, it is a good thing. Maybe they are right though, I do need to learn to rein it in a bit. But honestly, sitting in that chair sometimes to learn the lesson of waiting my turn and sharing gets old, especially when there is no TV in sight!

My vocabulary gets bigger as I grow. Heck, it is grower quicker than I am! I am not sure why but everyone seems to think it is funny when I say expressions all the time like Holy Molly or Oh my goodness. I have no idea where I picked those up but they seem to fit so many things I need to say so I use them quite a bit.  They sure seem to amuse adults when I say them too!

Oh and I did pick up a few, what Grandma calls, no-no words.   Boy, you should have seen her face when I said one around her.  Now that was funny, she turned a weird color on her face!  What she said next though wasn't too funny.  I don’t know where I heard those words though. Nobody in my family says those and I sure didn't learn them from church.  All I know is saying them is getting a great deal of attention but all the wrong kind!  I prefer laughter responses!

There is one thing Grandpa Jim loves about me. I am obsessed with equipment, building machines.  Oh you know, the boys toys that run the gamut. That would be things like bulldozers, firetrucks, and trains.  I bug him every chance I get to take me on a ride on his lawn mower, I fondly call it a tractor. I must use up a ton of fuel but he doesn't say a thing. I think that is because it gives us male bonding time.  I am sorta like his male friend, even though I am only 4, don’t let that fool you. I am still a pretty good companion and darn likable.  I am super easy to get along with.  Mom says the girls are going to love me. Heck, one of her friend’s little girls already likes to kiss me and that started when I turned 4. Can you imagine what it will be like when I turn 10?

I think Grandpa bought a Christmas train to put around his tree just for me. He will never admit it but he lets me play with it even though half the time I pull it off the track. That train plays the most irritating song over and over again but I don’t care, just as long as it chugs along that track over and over again and I get to run the controls. I am the conductor and that is pretty cool for a little guy. I put my head down along the train and yell, “Here is comes,” over and over again.  Wow, the only thing cooler than that is riding a tractor or playing with my iPad.  I think some people think I am obsessed with these things.  Don’t tell them this but there are worse things I could do.  At least I have an interest in something.  Some boys are boring.  I am interesting, and I am good at almost everything I do.  Did I mention I am really good at almost everything I do?

Many people don’t know that little boys can have special talents. One of mine is ventriloquism. Yes, I can talk out of the side of my mouth! Just ask anyone who knows me well. I can say anything, and make any sound out of the side of my mouth at any time.  It is something to see. I have no idea why my family laughs at me. When I make a lot of money paying for my education doing this as a side job, we will see who gets the last laugh. Frankly, I think they are just jealous.  Plus it comes in handy when I want to talk back.  They can’t make out what I am really saying or I can make it sound like it came from someone else in the house!

I think you can tell a lot about a person by who they hang with and what they say.  I hang out with mostly fun people. I don’t like negative kids because I am just not made that way.  I love being with my mommy because she is pretty and also Lindsey. She is a gorgeous little blonde that likes to kiss me. Oh, I may be small but I know a good thing when I see it!  My first words were things like Mommy, Daddy, love you and kiss.  I learned to laugh right at the same time I learned to cry. See, happy babies are satisfied babies and I am that, content.  I love life, I love my family and I love growing, learning and exploring. 
My personality is much bigger than my size.  And I do not need anyone to fight my battles.  I am not going to be bossed around by anybody, not even my big sister. I think this ticks her off to no end.  Sometimes mommy needs to set me straight on this because I forget my place in the pecking order and want to be the top dog.  She reminds me I am not the man of the house.  Oh, if I was, boy would I run things differently. We would all have candy every night in place of dinner.

When I look back on my life, thus far, I see images of a happy faced little boy. It seems I have always been smiling, always full of joy and always been loved. So, yeah, I may be the youngest of three, and I may not have gotten all the attention I want, but I have always gotten what I need.  I enjoy giving back what I receive and it shows.  It shows in the faces of those who know me and love me. This is something I have learned from my family and my family learns from me.

Grandma Ronni says my daddy use to say, when he was little, if he had to be an animal, he wanted to be a monkey. When she would ask him why, he would reply, because he wanted the ability to make everyone laugh so they would not be sad.   I love that answer because there is so much sadness in the world, but not in our house.   I feel just like my daddy does. I do want the world, my world, to be happy. And so, one day at a time, from the day I was born, till now, age finally four, I can say, without a doubt, I am living the dream, of accomplishing that! Every morning I wake up with a great disposition. I am happier than the day before. I came out yelling when I was born and everyone in the delivery room took it as me screaming from unhappiness but heck, I was just clearing my lungs and letting out my Wow, I am here “Hello World!”


Grandparents of Autistic Children Learning About Parenting All Over Again!

Last weekend, my husband and I had our grandson Ty for an entire weekend. It was the first time we have had him at our home that long.  He recently turned 5. That may seem strange to some folks but Ty has autism and taking him out of his normal environment for a stretch of several days was somewhat frightening. I am not sure who more to, him or us. 

Over the years, we have watched closely how to interact with Ty.  We have read a great deal about autism, asked many questions of our children to better understand Ty’s particular abilities as well as his brother Jake’s and bonded. Yes, we have found Ty to be something of a miracle in our lives.  He is a boy that has taught us more than we have taught him.  Who would have thought that would be the experience of a grandparent? 

What we have uncovered is the life of a grandparent of an autistic child, little by little. We are too often greeted by, “Is something wrong with your grandchild?”  Why not ask if you can help? Another line we hear is sorry.  We prefer hearing comments that state how blessed we are.  We are not sorry and find ourselves more emotional about these statements than the boys’ parents because these children are our legacy. They are what they get labeled. Do not label our grandchildren anything but miracles. 

I have often heard of the daily struggles of dealing with meltdowns on particularly trying days. I have witnessed them, deal with them during babysitting times and been advised on how to handle them as well. 

I consider myself not a novice anymore. However, having Ty for the entire weekend, I was not prepared for how many times these can occur, and over small incidents, inconsequential things.   And, within minutes, sometimes, they pass and he seems to have next to no recollection of them occurring.  And yet, here we are, Grandma and Grandpa, scratching our heads non-verbally saying “What was that about?” 

I think my kids must wonder how I ever raised children on my own based on my number of texts to them when I watch Ty.  But see, watching an autistic child is a brand new experience. The variables and perimeters are completely different. What works before, doesn't anymore.   Throw out some of what you think works and go to a new place.  These children do get disciplined but it is handled slightly different.   At times, they are not as aware of what they are doing and have a harder time getting control over their emotions.   And yelling or any form of aggression is a definite no-no! 

Our respect for my son and daughter-n-law (and their nanny) went up tenfold.  This is not a twenty-four hour job folks. This is a seventy –two hour job in a twenty-four hour time frame.  Think about trying to communicate with a child with limited communication all day long.  Or consider trying to routinely pull a child back into the realm of the real world when they want to pull into a small isolated space by focusing on something totally self-absorbed. After even just an afternoon of this, it can be exhausting.  

Ty has a limited vocabulary. Thanks to his parents aggressive approach in getting him the very best in therapy, he has some speech. Though limited, those of us close to him have found it so joyful to celebrate the few words we do hear, mommy, daddy, help, drink, etc..  And he counts, and Ty proudly says the entire alphabet. His brother Jake has mastered quite a lot more words!   Again, great therapy helps, but I have learned from my kids key is also awesome therapists. What I see, equally important is  parents that are very hands on when they with their children.Ty and Jake have this, I am proud to say!  Our contribution seems so small in comparison. 

We are humbled after this weekend.  All the sudden, we realize our children’s jobs are challenging. Well worth all the efforts yes indeed, but we totally think society needs and should embrace more all the families of autistic individuals.  Offer helping hands in any ways they can, as a community and in legislation.   Small things make a huge difference too, such as offering to aide in  transportation to and from therapy.  For our grandchildren, It is simply mind-blowing the schedule plans on a routine basis!  Even with it written down at home, we find it confusing.  It is impossible to believe the children don’t ever land up at the wrong place at the wrong time. If we were running the show, it is with certainty that would happen.

And yet, at the very basic level, this is your typical American family.  They love, they share, they eat as a family and they vacation. They spend time together, they work as a group on family issues and they attend Church.  They support one another, the children feel each other’s pain and do not tolerate outsiders hurting each other.  The older sister Ava is quite protective of her younger brothers.  

Let us not forget, family is where the heart is. Whether your home has a child with autism or not, love must abound for children to flourish.  It does in these homes with these children but the needs are plentiful here.   

Please take the time to understand who these families are in your community, your church, your schools.  Don't judge and assume every child in society acting out is not being disciplined when you see them in public. They could be having a melt-down issue.  Offer to lend a hand if you come in contact with one of these families. You will not regret it. It will enrich your life immeasurably!

Their true colors will come shining through!  Hopefully through the video you can catch a  glimpse.  Click here to go to YouTube Video