Saturday, December 29, 2012

Changing the rooms

Today Laura and Jeff switched Laura's room to what was the office. The baby's room is now Laura's old room. Laura's room was bigger for baby furniture. Also, Laura has a playroom downstairs so she can go downstairs and play.

They started working at 8:30am and ended around 5. It snowed all day so it was a good indoor job. I never saw them work so hard. I felt bad because I did supervise Laura and did tell her where things go, I couldn't do much more.

My mom purchased a baby furniture set from Craigslist for my birthday. I found it yesterday online and my mom checked it out and paid for it. So now our task is getting it to our house.

Jeff then cleared the sidewalks, had dinner and when we put Laura to bed started to watch The Lord of the Rings series. I forgot how long of a movie it is but getting through it.

Tomorrow is baby furniture day!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve! As a child, Christmas Eve was more a frustrating day because of the anticipation of Christmas. It was also a busy day for my parents because they were preparing for our Christmas party and Christmas morning. So I was often bored that day until we got ready for Mass.

Now that I am a parent, my perspective has changed. I enjoy helping Laura anticipate Christmas. We now have a Christmas Eve party to prepare for and excitement is in the air.

This year Jeff and I were exhausted. Laura had a really rough night prior and we basically only slept 3-4 hours. She ate some unusual food that obviously did not agree with her. The poor kid woke me up shortly after midnight in tears because she was sick to her stomach.

Jeff and I worked as a team. I took care of Laura and Jeff had the unpleasant job of cleanup. That meant lots of cleaner and lots of laundry. I got Laura comfortable in the living room, told her stories, held her and reminded her to drink water.

Around 2:30am she fell into a good sleep. Jeff and I were wide awake and sat on the couch to watch our favorite television show. By four, we decided to put Laura back in bed. I also needed sleep because I had to get up early to get a glucose test.

Jeff went to bed around six because he cleaned our humidifier and shower. I got up at 7 and my attendant took me to my glucose test. I'll write more about the test in another blog.

The rest of the day we prepared for the party. Laura laid on the couch recovering but not sick at all. We debated canceling the party, but decided it wasn't the flu or virus. She stopped being sick at two in the morning so I knew all would be safe.

We went to Mass with Jeff's parents and my dad. It was so crowded. After Mass, we relaxed and enjoyed our relatives and had fun!!

Before Laura went to bed, Santa left her a gift of pajamas for herself and a baby doll. How adorable!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Newtown CT - dec 14

Today was a sad day. In Newtown,CT a guy killed 20 children and 6 adults plus his mom. The children were in kindergarten and first grade. The teachers died protecting them. The principal and school psychologist were killed.

My thoughts immediately went to Laura. My dad and I were at the Mall when the details came out. It definitely hurt the Christmas spirit. I just wanted to go hug my daughter.

The horror of it is terrible. To think that anyone could go kill 20 kindergarten students, six staff members and his own mom is too much for a heart and spirit. I kept picturing the event, the fear in the students, the sounds and the parents.

When I heard the teachers protecting them and how, I felt like I was there. I was very impressed and touched. I hugged Laura and kissed her all night.

I find myself more patient and loving even every second with her. Life is precious. I feel terrible for the parents and families who lost people. I don't know how they do it.

Birthday and beta fish - dec 12

Today my Dad turned 64. I taught Zef today and he was tired. I have a feeling that he is catching a cold. Julie paid me. Jeff and I took Zef to Old Country Buffet for lunch before my OB appointment. He loved it the first time but the second time not so much.

Afterwards we stopped at a pet store to buy some things for our fish tank. Our fish wasn't looking so good. We had him since March but he just seemed not too good. The snail died and algae built up.

When we got home, Jeff made stuffed peppers for my dad. We had dinner, cake, and present time. When everyone left I helped Laura with her homework. After she went to bed, Jeff and I watched the concert for Hurricane Sandy.

Our fish died and Jeff ran out to get one that looked just like Jayden. Then he met his mom to get tickets for a casino.

Unfortunately, the new fish also died. Laura cried but she took it well. We are giving up on fish for awhile. We do better with our dogs and cats.

RIP our fish - dec 13

Today I had to make phone calls because I didn't receive my packet for the new payroll system for my attendants. I am on the right track but I haven't gotten it yet. I hope to have it tomorrow.

Jeff and I went to the Valley Forge casino. His Mom gave him free passes and fifteen dollars to gamble with. We were disappointed that it was not as fancy as we thought. But we enjoyed ourselves.

Afterward, we ate lunch at Wegmans. We talked about his new real estate business with his father. We went to Good Will and got a blanket for Jason. We also got a teddy bear for Laura to cheer her up because her fish died last night.

She was in an adorable mood after school. We played and watched TV. Plus we played with teddy bears and snowmen.

The Hobbit and my Saturday

Jeff and I went to see the Hobbit. It was pretty good. Some parts were slow and I dozed in some area because I'm recovering from a sinus infection. We also had breakfast with my dad,Laura and my nephew.

Laura spent the day with my dad and nephew. They enjoyed Jungle Wonder,crafting and watching Cats and Dogs. She loves her cousin.

After the movie, Jeff and I relaxed, watched tv,and napped. My sinus pain was back, but now I'm feeling good

When Laura came home, I played with her and she helped me clean the hall. I put her to bed to come out and see Jeff rearranging and cleaning our dining room. I love his drive because I have it too,I just can't always do it physically! He's busy working away as I write.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My missing voice

Living without my voice has been pretty common since October. The worst of it started the day before Thanksgiving, and it hasn't been the same since.

Every time I start to feel sorry for myself, I think of others who have cerebral palsy, autism, stroke or other disabilities that might prohibit speaking. I can totally understand the frustration and limitations.

I've always had a speech impediment. The people closest to me usually have no trouble understanding me most of the time. Of course, when I'm tired, sick, in pain, nervous or having a bad CP day my speech isn't necessarily the best.

I normally don't complain about CP, but I must admit having a speech impediment is annoying. People often assume you have no idea what you're talking about, treat you like a child, ignore you or even make fun of you. I try to speak as clearly as possible, but sometimes fall short.

Now with hardly a voice on top of my normal speech issues, life has gotten a bit more challenging. I believe Jeff liked the silence at first. What husband would not like a silent wife once in a while? But now I even think he misses my normal voice. I also miss reading to Laura and having normal conversations.

Luckily, I haven't had to miss work and managed to save up my voice to have fairly normal teaching days. I take breaks and try to rest my voice in between lessons.

Technology has helped. Texting, writing and even using speech app on my iPhone has been a big help especially with Laura.

My doctor said the issue is that I have acid reflux and post nasal drip. If I weren't pregnant, I could be on medications that would help. So until March, I just need to control it with diet and less stress.

In the meantime, I'll just continue to be patient and hopefully others will too. Come March I will have a new person to talk to!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

iWordQ word prediction for the iPad rocks

Technology has come a long way since I was a child. Like many people with cerebral palsy, technology improves my life a great deal. I am so impressed with what the iPad offers for those with physical challenges.

When I was six, I remember using a blue and gray typewriter with a blue molded key guard. I thought it was the best thing in the world. I could only use my right thumb, but I was able to get the job done.

At seven, I was given a Brother typewriter for my birthday. I wrote many stories, lists and could do more of my homework independently. I absolutely loved that thing. During the same year, we got a Commodore 64 computer. I know I'm showing my age now!

I believe when I was 9 or 10, my teacher introduced me to the memo writer. It was a small word processor that had tiny keys. It took some positioning work, but I could use it on my tray.

Fast forward to today, my husband just gave me the latest iPad for Christmas. It is amazing how much I can do on it. I can control my lights, tv, stereo and more without assistance.

I just downloaded the app for word prediction. It costs $25 but I am very impressed. It is called iWord Q, and it has increased my typing speed over fifty percent. I find it very easy to use, and highly recommend buying it.

Many word prediction software costs over $200 so this is a tremendous deal if you own an iPad. I can't imagine how much easier school would have been if I had this back then!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why I am thankful this Thanksgiving

This year has been very good for us. We started the year with a new kitchen,dining room, deck and bathroom. We went to Washington DC in January. In April, we visited my brother in Florida. For our anniversary, we went to the beach for a day. And in August, we went to the Poconos (wasn't the best trip but memorable.) Lastly, we just went to Virginia and had a blast. Yes, we like to travel.

Laura went from pre school to Kindergarten in a blink of an eye. She grows more beautiful inside and out everyday. Her intellect dazzles everyone and now she's reading. Her favorite subjects are math, science and art. Laura developed swimming skills and is doing great in Karate. We couldn't be more proud of her. Although I do feel sad to see her grow up, it's amazing to watch her blossom.

Jeff and I settled quite nicely and comfortably in married life. We have the type of marriage that I dreamed of having. We discuss conflicts and come out even more united. We move in the same direction and never leave the other behind. He's funny, smart, goal driven, active and ambitious. Jeff and I make a great team and also compliment each other. I can be set in routines and organization then he's spontaneous and reminds me to enjoy life.

We became pregnant in June. Pregnancy has been a bumpy road filled with morning sickness, coughing spells and quicker bathroom visits. However, we are having an amazing little boy in March. We are both healthy and on the right track. My mother in law pointed me in the direction of great doctors who have never looked at cerebral palsy as a problem, but just an aspect of me.

Career wise isn't so bad neither. Jeff is happy for the most part being a supervisor. Even though I'd love a full time teaching job, I find much satisfaction in teaching one on one twice a week, teaching fourth grade Catholicism on Sundays, writing, volunteering, caring for the house, being a wife and a mother.

So this has been a great year. Thank God each day for my life, family and friends!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The reasons why I'm against abortion

When I was little, I used to listen about politics and watched debates. I remember being pretty bored and often fell asleep. I was interested but didn't quite get it.In 1988, I understood and saw things a bit more differently. Dukakis was against Bush Senior. I heard my parents discussing them and the word abortion came into the conversation.

I was only twelve so I never really heard about it before. I asked them what it meant and I am sure they didn't go into detail but I will never forget my feeling of horror at the idea of killing a baby before its even born!How could we elect a president of a country that didn't even understand a simple concept of killing a human being in the womb? It makes no sense to trust an individual with missing compassion for the weakest members of society - a baby!I became equally horrified as I began to discuss it with other adults. Adults, that I assumed, would protect and love children from the very beginning of their existence. I found it wasn't the case. I started to hear the same arguments that I hear today - "my choice, my body", "keep government out of my uterus" and my favorite, "it's not even a person."All these arguments, to me, are very silly. First even a six year old knows that an unborn baby has a separate body than the moms body. When a baby is born, the mom doesn't fall out or lose organs. Second, the government should protect all human beings even the unborn. And the third, if an unborn baby isn't a person then what is it?? As early as even eight weeks, it's easily seen a tiny baby. At ten weeks, it's even more obvious that the baby is alive and having their own experiences.So after learning more and more about abortions, the more politically involved I became. I become disheartened when people say the same ridiculous arguments. And to this day, I cannot imagine why women are so into having a choice to kill their own baby? I hear the reasons but they lack logic and compassion to the baby.Yes, I get some women are in dire straights and believe abortion is the only way. However, if you do the research, many abortions are because the baby is the wrong gender, the baby is an inconvenience or they have a disability. Even missing limbs and the baby has a death sentence. Many women have multiple abortions.In every abortion debate, someone brings up rape and incest. There are at least two million abortions a year in America. Only one percent are because of rape and incest. What about the million or more others?These people who are aborted are unique individuals. If I was aborted, there wouldn't be a me. When you are dead, that's it. Imagine all the people were missing out on. They were never given a chance - thousands simply because they have Down Syndrome and other birth defects.How anyone can justify it or say if you don't like abortion, don't do it but let it be available - I will never understand. The same people get crazy about animal cruelty and homosexual rights yet can pass over millions of babies dying - many because of a disability - even minimum. Sometimes I just want to give up and just keep quiet. It gets tiring to hear the same justifications that are not factual and some are just heartless. However, isn't that what happened during the Holocaust? All those people were terminated and people ignored it and kept quiet. I may not be able to stop abortions from happening but I can do my part by praying, helping mothers who need it, promote adoption and speak up for the thousands that are being killed even tomorrow.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Free labels

For a limited time, you can by Christmas or holiday labels for free at Vistaprint! Only pay $3.63 for shipping and get 140 labels. You can use it for Christmas cards or to and from labels. I got mine!

Pushover or being nice?

I've been accused of being a pushover. I know that there can be worse things to be called. However, it made me think - are you really being a pushover when you are telling someone how you feel yet being nice about the situation?

Yes, I've been known to allow people to bully me to get their way even though deep down I don't agree. We all have. I think there is a huge difference between continually doing this compared to being reasonable and kind. Of course the exception would be physical/mental/sexual and any other kind of abuse.

If you always get what you want, then your the bully or mean person. If you're nice and try to be within reason, you are a pushover.

All I know is to stand behind your gut. Treat others you would like to be treated. No one likes a bully - even the bully themselves. Be assertive when necessary but think about the big picture. It's ridiculous to make a fuss over a small problem because you might find yourself standing alone.

Like the Rolling Stones say, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes - you get what you need."

God Bless.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Yes, I'm pregnant and have severe cerebral palsy

Last week I went to the pharmacy to get a prescription filled. As I was waiting, I asked the pharmacist of any suggestions he had as far as coughing. He asked about any conditions I had. I told him cerebral palsy and I was pregnant. He had this look of confusion, disgust, and disbelief. He immediately scanned my stomach with his eyes like he had x ray vision. Then he shook his head, looked down and mumbled to ask my doctor.

People have a difficult time dealing with people with disabilities living a non disabled life. I don't know if it's because it makes us more common than what they thought. Yes, we eat, sleep, cry, have sex and function like you but might need help or adaptations.

I felt for Laura on Friday when I went to watch her karate class. When I came in, I heard a classmate ask her what was I doing there in a teasing way. I heard Laura say she's my mom and she came to watch me. The boy stopped knowing Laura was serious.

It is natural to be curious about differences. However, it would be nice if people didn't assume the worse when seeing a disability.

My CP isn't mild by any means so I do tend to stand out. I need fed, and all that fun personal care stuff. So I guess seeing me pregnant is unique but it's nice to just hear "congratulations!" instead of being looked like I'm an alien.

17 weeks along pregnant and cerebral palsy

I am now 17 weeks pregnant. In many ways, the pregnancy is going fast and someways slow. Morning sickness is finally getting better although there are some foods I avoid. Plus I can't let myself get too hungry. But compared to a month ago, I'm doing a lot better.

Unfortunately, almost two weeks ago I caught a very nasty cough. It's honestly the worst cough I've had in my life and I'm sick a lot. It's been scary because I lose my breath, wheeze, or just can't control my cough. It has also caused me to vomit or lose bladder control from force alone of the cough.

I've been to two doctors who tell me it's been going around and nothing can be done. It's gotten better then worse then better etc. Today my nose has been stuffy. Tomorrow I see my OB doctor for a routine visit so I'm going to ask her.

Jeff and Laura have been great. I know my coughing scares them both. At night I hold Jeff's hand as I cough and it makes me feel calm. Sometimes the sheer cough makes my muscles ache! No fever though. No one else has caught it either.

I was obviously concerned about my little man but everything I read says he's fine in the amniotic fluid. It still makes me nervous because I'm a mommy!!

Paper towel deal

If interested in buying paper towels without going to the store, check this deal out at Staples. You can get a 12 pack of Bounty Basic for $8 with free shipping. That is less than $1 a roll. The offer expires October 13.

I picked a pack up. I try to avoid any shipping costs when buying online. I also like to save money so anytime I can find a good deal, I get it if I can afford it. With another baby on the way, saving money is imperative.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The baby is a boy

When I was pregnant with Laura, I had a hard time finding an OB doctor. Many refused me because they were scared of cerebral palsy. I guess they saw lawsuit instead of a person. I did find one and he was very good. This time around he stopped taking my health insurance a week before I called him.

Jeff's mom recommended a doctor to give a try. She said that they were very good. I switched my insurance and started going there in mid September. I was nervous. You never know how people will react or think. I haven't seen or know of many women with cerebral palsy who are pregnant the second time.

They led me to a handicap accessible exam room. I was beginning to feel better. I read about these rooms but never saw one. The room was big and the exam table was lower. The nurse talked to me and understood me. Jeff put me on the table and found out that you could adjust the table to make it more comfortable.

The doctor knew right away I had cerebral palsy and asked me questions. She didn't seem to have any problem and the exam felt painless.

Yesterday I met with a fetal specialist. I was under the impression it was just to tell me everything that could go wrong. I met with the genetic counselor who did just that but was nice about it. I told her I didn't want anymore prenatal testing because I wasn't going to abort no matter what. I said if knowing anything was wrong would help in delivery, then maybe, but she said it wouldn't impact delivery. That took an hour.

After the counselling, she said she was going to send me down the hall for an ultrasound. I was surprised and felt so bad for Jeff. I had an ultrasound scheduled later that day and Jeff adjusted his schedule to go. But the woman said it would be easier this way and then the other doctor could talk to me.

The ultrasound room was again very accessible. My attendant easily helped me on the table. As fast as the technician put the wand on my belly, a baby appeared. The baby was moving around and kicking the little legs. It was amazing to watch and think that person was in me.

She asked me if I wanted to know the gender. I said yes and she told me the baby was a boy! I had a feeling along with many others. I just felt bad Jeff wasn't there to enjoy the moment.

The doctor came in and was nice. She told me he was perfect and not to worry about weight because he looked great. She said to eat what I can and when I can but all is good. When I reach 30 weeks, I might need shots of blood thinner if I don't move as much so I don't get blood clots. Other than that, I'm set. When I reach 20 weeks, I go back for a more comprehensive ultrasound.

As a surprise for Jeff, I stopped at Target and got an adorable newborn outfit. I put it in a gift bag with the ultrasound pictures. I didn't tell him anything even though he tried until he got home. Then I gave him the bag and he was happy. We would've been happy either way but it's nice to have one of each!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Adjusting to school and proud karate mommy

Big adjustments and big changes are going on. I'm still getting pregnancy sickness and need to be careful. Making sure I'm eating and eating right is important. I'm also more emotional especially at night. Jeff looks at me like I'm nuts sometimes because I cry and laugh at the same time.

Laura is still adjusting to being at school all day. By mid week she is done with it. So am I but she has to do it. She does enjoy school though and is learning.

On Thursday, I discussed with Laura about a funeral I needed to attend on Saturday. She bursted out in tears saying that we never see each other. She begged me not to go. I ended up not going after lots of thinking and discussing.

On Friday, she had karate after school but at school. Parents are welcome to come and watch. So, of course, I jumped at the opportunity. I was a few minutes late because I went to the wrong building and then saw a friend of mine. When I went in, I looked at Laura. Her little face was beat red and eyes were teary. I mouthed to he what was wrong and she ran to me.

She cried in my arm about how long the day was and she didn't like karate. I found this surprising since she couldn't wait for it all summer. Then she whispered that she had a little issue needing to be taken care of in the bathroom. Her instructors were very nice and offered to return my money. Luckily I had a change of clothes in her bag and took her to the bathroom.

We talked about it was a long time between bathroom break and karate. I told her that no one will know since they are uniform pants and she can jump right back in. She was still apprehensive. We walked out and it looked easy for Laura to get back in and her friend encouraged her to join the group.

I was very proud when she went back in. Laura had a big smile and no one knew what had happened. Afterwards, she was disappointed to hear that she only had karate once a week!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

37 candles and a crazy birthday

On Monday I turned 37 years old! I don't feel 37 but then again, what does 37 feel like? I feel pretty good to still be alive considering my shaky entry into the world. I came out breech and alone. The doctor wasn't present causing me not to breathe. Luckily, another doctor saw me and ran in to revive me. The lack of oxygen caused cerebral palsy.

Jeff and Laura decided to celebrate my birthday on Sunday. They thought since he had to work and she had school, it would be better. They got me a necklace with a locket that says Mom in shape of a heart. Also a manicure plus pedicure gift certificate.

I'm a bit apprehensive about the gift certificate simply because of my involuntary movements. I had a manicure at my wedding and it wasn't the easiest. But Jeff thought it would be nice for me to do. We will see!

They also got me a chocolate ice cream cake! It was very tasty.

My actual birthday wasn't very good. It was pouring when I woke Laura up for school. Rain shouldn't be that big of a deal but when you can't put on a jacket, your wheelchair might break from being too wet, and your ramp becomes so slippery that your chair slides - rain isn't fun.

I had Laura wait at the bus stop herself as I watched from my house. Not far at all.. However, her bus stop changed and was on the other side. She was confused and ended up missing the bus.

My attendant and I ended up taking her to school. She comes at 8 so Laura was 15 min late and marked tardy. Later in the morning, I took my van in the shop because it was shaking. Here it needed new brakes, new tire, and a water pump. Certainly didn't expect all that or the bill that went with it. We were there most of the day.

When I returned home, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my dad. That made me smile. Then my second attendant went to pick up Laura from school only to find out she went by bus. The pick up line was so long too. We got back in time and I met her at the bus.

When she got off, her little eyes and face were red. I knew she was crying. She buried her head in my lap. She explained that the bus drove past our street but didn't stop. She was scared that she was forgotten. Laura made me promise to always pick her up. I did.

The evening went better. Jeff got me my favorite pizza and we all relaxed. My morning attendant said she would come in an hour early when Jeff goes in early to help me out. It's good especially rain and I don't look so haggered in the morning at the bus stop.

Friday, August 24, 2012

First week of school

Well, we survived the first week of school. The first day she went on the bus I cried after it left. I admit even on the third day as I walk back home, I feel a grip of sadness in my chest.

The first day I had help getting her off to the bus. The last two days Laura and I managed and did quite well. Unfortunately, as I get bigger in the pregnancy, getting in my chair is going to be harder. I get on my bed and then slide in my wheelchair. Then Laura helps me fasten my seatbelt and put down my foot rest. When I have a pretty pregnant belly, I am not sure I can even get in bed myself so I need to come up with solutions.

This week the bus came pretty early but next week it comes about 20min later. So we can both get a little more sleep. She wakes up pretty easily and showers plus dresses herself. She's very particular about her hair too. Then we go in the dining room and she eats cereal, rice cake and juice. Then we go out to the bus stop.

I like the special time in the morning. It's calm and flows very well. I'm only concerned about rainy weather. My wheelchair shouldn't get too wet, I can't put a rain jacket on myself and our ramp is hard to get up when wet. (Our contractor put it in not in code. We are working to resolve this but it's slow going.) Also, as I get bigger, getting in my chair might be a problem.

Laura likes school. This morning she told me that she misses me because she always misses me when I'm away. I said something positive to make her feel good. Walking back without her is sad. But I remind myself she's learning and growing. Her teacher thinks she's wonderful.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kindergarten crazy

As most  parents read this, you'll probably think I'm nuts. I feel crazy myself actually. I thought I'd write a quick blog before bed.

I can't seem to stop crying about Laura going to kindergarten. It happens at night and just hits out of no where. This is something I always knew was coming and even teared up a year ago just thinking about it. I never let her know and keep the excitement alive.

Why am I so emotional? I'm pregnant but can't even blame it all on that. I'm afraid of her safety on and off the bus. Why aren't there seat belts on buses? All 5 years she has been safely secure in a booster or car seat. Now her under 40 pound body will be on a bus without seat belts.

I'm not good with dramatic change when saying goodbye to someone I love. Yes, I'll see her at night but after devoting 18+ hours a day around her, this is a huge change.

I know logically she'll be fine and happy. It's just my emotions take over. I'm praying I'll be ok to see her off Wednesday because I know if I show any sadness then it'll be all over for her. And I definitely do not want to ruin it for Laura!

Pray for me!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Changes in us

When I met Jeff, I was 33 and he was 29! I felt very old compared to him. I was a widow with a two year old. He was single and living life to the fullest. I was too serious and he was too carefree. Somehow we balanced each other out.

He opened me back up that life wasn't all bleak and bad endings. Life can be gentle, kind and fun. Something I lost in a 5 year difficult abusive marriage. I grounded him that family life is fun and rewarding. Structure and routine doesn't have to confine your life but enhance it.

Up until about a year ago, we liked getting to go out without Laura and taking more adult trips. Then something switched. Now it's more enjoyable to have her with us and when she's not, we really, really miss her. Don't get me wrong that date nights are still essential for a relationship. However, we toned down our craziness.

He has been a wonderful help with my pregnancy sickness and Laura. He tries to make me food I'll eat and cleans up everything after I get sick without complaining. He's very supportive.

Jeff has really transformed. He researches baby furniture and talks about budgets. Today is his birthday. Last night we went out dancing for his birthday. We went to our normal place but it felt anything but normal. I felt queasy and out of place.

He is 33 - the same age I was when we met. He's not doing anything wild or crazy. He's making room in our room for my computer so we can start putting together a nursery. He already purchased a swing from a consignment store and we've been to baby furniture stores.

This is a new adventure for all of us - kindergarten and a new baby! Dancing shoes might get dusted off again in about a year but we will have fun!

10 weeks pregnant with cerebral palsy

One of the most common questions I get is about being pregnant and having cerebral palsy. It's amazing how many people don't even believe its possible to get pregnant and have cerebral palsy. CP mainly only affects the body's fine and gross motor control. All other systems are intact and normally work fine.

I feel so blessed to not only have one child but two. When I was pregnant with Laura, I could hardly eat and keep anything down. It was pretty rough. This time around I'm 5 years older so I expected a more difficult time. Honestly, it hasn't been that bad.

The first week I knew I was pregnant, my lower back hurt and I had trouble sleeping at night. That passed and right around 6 weeks, morning sickness hit. On average, I throw up about once or twice a day. Some days not at all. Poor Jeff helped me with it in the car a few times. That wasn't fun. He didn't show any annoyance at all though even though I know the clean up wasn't pleasant.

I'm learning how to curb it. I need to keep pretty full at all times. I have a supply of twizzlers with me day and night. I'm hoping in a few weeks it'll be behind me. I also remember to eat a meal every 3 hours or I'm in trouble. It's annoying when things taste differently and smells are so powerful it can knock you out.

Yesterday marked ten weeks. Other than sickness, my energy has depleted significantly. I try to push through but it's hard. I also have laryngitis because I have acid reflux disease and whenever I get sick, the acid burns my vocal cords. I'm on medication but it's having a hard time keeping up.

A lack of voice can be depressing, frustrating and annoying. My speech isn't that well to begin with then add lack of sound. Thank goodness for my iPhone. I can write down what I need to say. But I need my voice back because I go back to teaching in a few weeks! I also miss singing and talking on the phone.

With all this said, yes I'm still happy to have another baby. Nine months really isn't that long to put up with some things compared to a child! It's well worth it.

End of summer update

I've neglected blogging the last month, and I apologize. It seems like a whirlwind of events have happened. After I found out I was pregnant, I was preparing to go to Ottawa, Canada. Laura had a trip coming up and wrapping up camp. Needless to say, this summer has been busy, hot and fast.

For the baby and I finding a doctor was very important. I loved my OB who delivered Laura but it turned out they just stopped taking my insurance. So to make a long story short, my mother in law gave me some good leads and now I just need to wait until September for my appointment. I needed to switch insurances and it won't be active until then. So unfortunately my first appointment will be about two weeks behind a typical first appointment but I think we will be okay.

Laura has been amazing as ever. I think we gave her a good summer. 4 weeks of camp, amusement parks, 4 fairs, lots of swimming, lots of crafts, movies and a week away with her aunt, uncle and cousin to pirate week. My only regret was we didn't get to the beach but I was happy to hear she had a beach to play at in New York.

Laura starts Kindergarten officially this Wednesday. On Tuesday I take her to meet her teacher and see her classroom. She's attending the Renaissance Academy charter school. On Wednesday she goes on the school bus very early but I pick her up at 11. On the 27th, she goes full day until 3:30. I decided to pick her up after school because if she takes the bus home, she won't be home until almost 4:30. The school is less than ten minutes away.

In another entry, I will tell you more about the Canada trip, pregnancy and changes for Jeff and me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Share the love

When Laura was born, I simply couldn't imagine loving anyone as much as her. Now with another on the way, I wonder how it's possible to love like that double. Yet I already love this baby and put thought into all I eat and do to keep him or her healthy. I know it is possible because obviously there are families of even 10 plus children and have loving parents.

I've been catching myself spending more quality time playing with Laura. She's been the only one for almost six years. That and she is going to full day Kindergarten next month. I feel every moment is precious.We've experienced death, independence, growing, learning and a new family in those years. We have quite a bond. Our bond will grow even deeper with the new family member.

Last night we played hospital with her baby dolls. I love hearing her little voice come up with these great ideas and stories. She talked about surgery, shots, and heart monitors. It's really funny to hear it from her.

She's also the most caring kid I know. I have a bag in my closet where I keep little gifts for Laura like stickers, markers and little toys. I let her pick one on days she's been exceptionally good. Well, one night she went back in her room with a zip loc bag. She was back there for awhile and came out with a bag.

Laura covered both sides with construction paper so you couldn't see inside. She put in pencils, erasers and other odds and ends of hers. She had me help her write surprise bag and gave it to her older cousin. Her loving generosity makes me so proud that my eyes tear up.

Last week one of her favorite camp counselors had to quit because she got a new job. Laura was so sad and cried. She then went in her room and came back out with beautiful paper full of hearts. Asked me to write, "Marissa, I love you because you were the best camp counselor. I'll never forget you.". How sweet!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm pregnant!

On July 12, I found out that my life had changed. God has blessed us with a second baby. I couldn't believe my eyes when that second line came up quickly on the test. I felt so happy and terrified all at once. And of course, shocked.

Jeff is very happy but was shocked as well. We've talked about having a baby for a long time but when it actually happens, it's surreal. Laura was 2 when Jeff met her so this time, it'll be from day one. My fear is nighttime. Babies don't really sleep so good at night and I'm not a big help during infancy from a physical standpoint. So that should be interesting how that plays out.

I am soon going to be 37 and have spastic athetoid cerebral palsy. So both of our concerns are about how pregnancy will affect my body this time around. The first time, I was sick in the stomach about all nine months. My arms hurt so bad about the 7-9 month because they swell instead of my ankles. Other than that, it was pretty normal.

I am almost 6 weeks along now. My lower back aches, my CP acts crazy at night so I don't really sleep and I use the bathroom more frequently. No sickness yet but I know it can hit any moment so I'm trying to eat as much as I can now. Whenever I eat, I think about how good or not good for the baby. I am also taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid so I'm trying to keep us both healthy.

Unfortunately, the second day I knew I was pregnant, I was hit hard with a cold. It kind of took away from the excitement but now I'm feeling better and can get back in the game.

Laura is besides herself excited. In a way, I wish we told her when I was further along because 9 months is a long time. However, she needed to know to be more gentle and know why I might act a bit different. Plus she would have caught on to conversations and body changes.

Laura made the baby a box and puts little crafts in it and toys. She's so adorable. Every morning she asks me how many more days and always says, "well that's one less than yesterday!" She also kisses my stomach and likes when I tell her about fetal development. I think she will be an amazing big sister.

In fact, the baby now has a heartbeat. I think it's truly amazing. Of course I still know its early and anything can happen. Each morning I wake up and thank God for letting me have one more day with him or her.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Laura earned the green band

As many of you know, swimming is a big deal to Laura. I've had her in swim classes since she was 2. She hated it then but now loves it.

At our local YMCA they have a swim band level to indicate a child's swimming level. Pink is very shallow, orange is shallow and green is deep. Since April, Laura has been working hard on achieving her green band. This was especially important to her because I'm no help to her in the pool. So by being able to swim alone is a huge asset.

Last Monday she finally did it. I have to be honest, I didn't think she would. She can swim the length of a pool with no problem but treading water was very hard. That is the only area she failed in all the other tests. Last Monday she had camp 9-4 and then before the test, she had to practice twice. I was sure she would be tired out by test time.

I rooted her on and prayed. I felt so proud of her to try and never give up. I saw kids almost twice her age fail it and cry. Laura never did cry. She just vowed to keep trying. As she treaded, I cheered her on and cheered to keep her head up. She did it!!!

The best part was that Laura didn't realize she earned the green band until the lifeguard came and I said, "Laura, look what color you earned." Her eyes were huge and she was so happy.

I never saw her smile as much. She exclaimed, "I'm proud of myself!!" She even hugged her teacher. Jeff took her out for ice cream that night to celebrate. We had to convince her that they will give her a new green band every time she swims because she wanted to keep on wearing it.

Urge for heels

On Friday night Jeff and I went dancing to see No Apology at Molly Macguires in Phoenixville. The weather was extremely hot but we went anyway. I wore a cool dress. I call it my Cheetah dress because it is leopard print. I also wore black tiny heels that I love because they fit. I feared it was going to be crowded since it was First Friday - when everyone comes out and enjoys Phoenixville. But I was wrong - it wasn't so bad.

The band was good and I was impressed considering it was so hot. I don't think I could perform for 3 hours or more. I didn't dance right away. Even though I've came along way in confidence, I still fight the demons of jealously when a woman is dancing in high heels. I so want to do that. I try to fight these feelings and do the best I can.

Unfortunately, high heels has this insane representation of looking attractive. I'm not a guy so I don't get how looking taller and showing off calf muscles is so amazing. But they think so. I am pretty muscular but it often goes unseen unless you really look or know me.

So sitting down when all these women stand around me makes me feel like a square peg in a circular board. It's easy to lose sight that I'm there for Jeff, the band and not my ego.

On an episode of Push Girls, they were discussing if a miracle came and you could walk, would you do it? It's hard to answer. Many of you might think that it would be easy to jump at, however, being in a wheelchair gives you unique challenges, experiences and outlooks.

One thing I would love is to have more control of my arms and hands. Feeding myself, writing, driving, cooking, putting on my make up and so on would be so much easier. As a mother, when Laura was a baby, doing those baby things would have been easier as well.

So after I swallowed my pride, I danced. Drive By by Train came on and Jeff and I danced to it. One guy was pretty impressed and two other guys wanted to dance with me. However, I mainly danced with Jeff. I'd sure would love to experience dancing in heels but when I looked at the girls who were, they looked uncomfortable and had the dorkiest guys chasing them. Maybe it's not what it's cracked up to be.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hockey and my Laura

My weekend was very nice. On Friday, we went to the Reading Phillies game. I already blogged about the game if you scroll down.

On Saturday, I went to hockey practice, blogged lots, and spent time with my Dad and Laura. I belong to the Philadelphia PowerPlay which is a motorized wheelchair hockey team. I've been playing for one year and a few months. I was chosen to help represent the team in Canada in August. We've been practicing pretty much every Saturday since the beginning of June.

I like playing hockey because it is high energy, mentally and physically fulfilling. I feel even to the other players because we all use motorized chairs. I felt more confident playing during the regular season than now. The talent from the other players is amazing. Sometimes I feel inadequate but the coaches give positive feedback so I guess I'm not terrible.

My Dad watches Laura for me when I play hockey. She gets bored. They had a great time and Laura wanted to sleepover. They came to my house around dinner time to take me to dinner because Jeff had to work until 10. Unfortunately, Laura had a sudden belly ache. She said she was hungry so we tried the restaurant.

Big mistake. She knew she was going to be sick. I told her to run to the bathroom and I zoomed behind her. Poor girl. She threw up right before she got to the bathroom. She was so embarrassed but I told her that it happened to me too. We wiped her tears, she cleaned herself and we went home.

Laura slept well and was all better the next day. There is something sweet when she's sick. She sat in my lap, put her head on my shoulder, hugging me. It's nice to offer some small comfort to her uncomfortable feeling. Laura means everything to me.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Best date.

My first date with Jeff was not only romantic but fun. To think I almost didn't speak to him at all because of spam. The famous saying goes once you stop trying to meet the right guy, he shows up so unexpectedly. This was true in my case.

I decided to stop dating for awhile. I was just enjoying being single and being a mommy. I thought in a few months I would start again.

But then Jeff wrote me an email on MySpace saying that I was cute and should talk sometime. I almost deleted it because it sounded like spam. However, I just ignored it and a few days later, something told me to write back. I did. Then we started talking on yahoo messenger.

I found Jeff to be very interesting, unique,and outgoing. He is not a do nothing guy and not lazy. I am very active and did not want any laziness. I laughed to myself because he was 29 and I was 33. I never dated a guy more than a few months younger than me let alone years!

Jeff was in the same state of mind that I was in. He was very clear that he was sick of fake relationships and wanted the real deal. I hardly ever call a guy but at the end of a long conversation online for some crazy reason, I told him I wanted to call him right then. And I did!!

Calling people is one of my things I dread. Even being Ms. Wheelchair PA, I could deliver speeches but hated phone calls. My speech isn't terrible but I fear and anticipate being judged on my speech. Jeff did fine understanding me and finds my speech endearing.

Jeff asked me out on a date but for the following week. I'll never live down that I suggested to meet sooner so we knew if we liked each other in person. I didn't want to really like him or vice versa and meet and find out it wasn't going to work. He says I just wanted to get rid of him sooner.

Our first date was about 4 days after we first spoke. My friend babysat Laura and I was so nervous. I knew I was in trouble because I already enjoyed talking to him, finding his emails and just knowing him. He made me smile.

We met at the Iron Hill Restaurant. I could feel my heart beating and my hands were cold. He was there - right on time waiting for me outside. It was an unseasonably warm but cloudy November day. I didn't even wear a jacket.

As I drove up the ramp to the restaurant, I saw him and was pleasantly surprised how cute he was. His picture didn't do him justice. Jeff asked me beforehand about feeding me and what I needed done at the restaurant. Things went so smooth. Conversation flowed and we were both smiling and laughing.

Having a guy feed you on the first date is hard. Jeff helped make it comfortable. When all was done, he walked me to my van and asked if he could hug me. With little resistance, I agreed happily. I still remember how it felt.

Six months later, he proposed......

My worst date

As a disability advocate and woman with cerebral palsy, the most common questions that I receive are about relationships. Where do I find guys? What are the most memorable dates? How do I handle dating with CP? These are just a few questions and I'd thought I'd start by the most funny one: What were the worst dates I've been on?

Probably the worst date I've been on happened right before I met Jeff. I talked to this guy online for two weeks. He was in his forties, had a son, divorced. He wasn't exactly what I was looking for but we had interesting conversations and he was funny. I also liked how he spoke about his son and fatherhood. He asked me out to dinner.

I got all ready, my friend babysat. I thought even if I didn't hit it off romantically - we could relate as friends. We never really discussed cerebral palsy a whole lot but he knew enough not to be shocked.

So another friend dropped me off at the restaurant. I looked in the mirror and saw I thought I looked good. I went inside and he was seated. I sat across from him. He never offered to take my jacket. He smiled but I knew he was strangely uncomfortable.

He ordered and I ordered a drink. I could tell he was in no way ready to feed me and I didn't want him too. He sat there and didn't say a word. The food came. He ate and his hands shook when asking to just put a straw in my cup. I tried asking questions and trying to have conversation. Nothing.

It was the longest hour. Then he quickly paid the bill, said goodbye and didn't even ask if my ride was there.

I was so happy to get in my van, laugh at the situation and hope for better dates in the future.

Reading Phillies

Last night we went to the Reading Phillies game. We had a great time two years ago so we went again this year. The Reading Phillies is the minor league baseball team to the Philadelphia Phillies. My dad, sister, nephew were going to join the three of us but then the heat set in.

It soared up to 97 degrees yesterday. My dad canceled because of the heat, but my sister and nephew still went. Earlier that day, we went to breakfast and then while Jeff mowed the lawn, Laura and I played in the sprinkler (trying to keep my wheelchair controllers dry) and pulled weeds. I admit that it was feeling toasty.

We met my family at the park. We all wore cool clothes and prepared for heat. Ironically all the handicapped parking spaces were filled, but we were the only ones in handicapped seating!! Absolutely shameful and ridiculous. We had to walk a distance which isn't terrible but not the safest in a large hot group, a wheelchair and a 5 year old.

I took my tray for the buffet. For $12 a person, you can get an all you can eat buffet from 6-8:30. I had a hard time eating due to heat, but everyone else ate lots. The handicapped seating was excellent. We were almost on the field. Seeing was no problem.

My nephew is 9 and Laura is 5. They get along great. Laura made signs for the game out of construction paper,tape and sticks. She made one for everyone and liked cheering the team on. The Reading Phillies won!!

I like looking at fireworks but jump at the bang. Cerebral palsy makes your body react to sounds more than someone else. I was concerned that the post game fireworks would be too much for me. Jeff has a belief in me that I can't explain. He crumpled up napkins and put them in my ears.

To my surprise, it worked! The fireworks were beautiful and right overhead. I jumped a little bit but mainly just enjoyed them. Laura loved them too.

After the fireworks, my sister and nephew went home but we stayed fora Dave Matthews Tribute Band. It sure beat fighting through hundreds of people and sitting in traffic. Laura loved it and danced with us! We had a ball.

My suggestions:
- get to the stadium early for handicap parking
- drink lots
- bring bug repellent - lots of gnats until stadium lights go on
- they do have family bathrooms
- have fun

Friday, June 15, 2012

How disability friendly is Dutch Wonderland?

I remember going to Dutch Wonderland when I was 8. For some reason, it was just me and my parents. I'm guessing Andy and Julie were at school or out with friends. I had fun but remember being carried on every ride. My Dad was sure tired that day!

Jeff and I took Laura when she was 3. Dutch Wonderland is an amusement park that focuses on ages 3-10, in my opinion. My nephew just turned 9 and he may get one more year. When Laura was 3, unfortunately it was over 90 degrees. The seats were burning. She didn't quite like being sprayed with water so the water park wasn't that great either.

I felt very disappointed to see that the only accessibility improvement was they added one family restroom. Really? Now that was 2 years ago and nothing has changed!!!

On Wednesday, I went with my Dad, Laura and nephew. I wasn't really into going because I knew all I'd be doing is sitting and watching in the heat. However, my daughter gave me the look (like the boy in Real Steal) and said, "When I'm on a ride, imagine sitting with me and having fun!" She hugged me and melted me. She's only 5 once so I need to enjoy it.

They made us pay full price even though I could not do anything. Even if my Dad transferred me into a ride, there were about 5-30 steps to even get close to transfer. The train could easily have a accessible car but didn't. It was probably the most inaccessible park I ever been to.

Now I don't want them to close by any means. Laura had a blast. The weather was beautiful, no crowds and no lines. They went on some rides up to 10 times. We were there for 9 hours!

Seeing pure joy on my daughter's face was worth being hot, crampy from sitting in my chair for 12 hours, and dehydrated because I can't use the bathroom myself. It really was.

I'd like Dutch Wonderland to spend a bit of money each year to make a ride a year more accessible. Also if someone is severely disabled, they shouldn't have to pay full price. I know it's tricky because people fake it but there has to be some way around it.

Join me and write or call Dutch Wonderland to make it more accessible for children and parents with disabilities. 
Dutch Wonderland
2249 Lincoln Highway East
Lancaster, PA 17602

1-866-FUNatDW (386-2839)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jessica's coupon tips

Before I used coupons, I had outrageous grocery bills and used generic items that weren't really that great. Then I really wanted to save money, so I started using coupons. Shortly after I started using coupons, the show came out Extreme Couponing and motivated me and taught me more how to save more.

I impress myself how much my bank account has at the end of the month when it used to have nothing. On average, I have 50-70 percent savings at the end of the shopping trip.

My strategy:
- Get coupons by the newspaper and online.
- Organize coupons in a binder divided by category and few stores. Keeping coupons organized is imperative or you will be lost. Once a week, I go through my binder to take out the expired and restock.
- Look at the ads in the flyers and match up your coupon to the deals. For example, if something is on sale for $1.50 and you have a fifty cent off coupon for it and the store doubles, you can get it for fifty cents!!!
- Most grocery stores double up to a dollar. Check your store policy prior to shopping.
- Make a plan. Check the ads and get your coupons ready for that store.
- If you can live without it for a week, don't buy something for full price.
- Have fun. Think about it as a game and think how happy you will be when it says how much you saved at the end. 
In addition to cutting coupons, get the Saving Star App and once you save $5, you can get it put into your checking account, paypal account or as an Amazon coupon. 

Summer is about change

Laura has graduated from pre school and will be entering Kindergarten in August. Little milestones like these are important to a parent as well as a child. It's been a world full of changes the last two months. But I guess that is all part life we are guaranteed - change.

The weeks between school being out and camp were busy. We did lots of art projects, reading, teaching reading, baking, playing, going to the library and swimming. Yesterday was her first day of camp at the YMCA kinder camp. It's all day between 9-4.

I'm getting used to it slowly but I have to say that I'm not a huge fan. For five years, I have devoted my life around Laura. Now she's gone during most of the day, I feel lost and worried about her. It's a new phase. Part of the reason why I let Laura to go to camp, so we can get used to her being gone all day.

So my plan is to be the best writer I can be, volunteer somewhere, look for a job, volunteer at Vacation Bible School and practice hockey. I wish she could text and just let me know how she's doing. But I need to trust I give her all the tools that she needs to be successful and happy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My prom days

Our local high school held their prom over the weekend. It got me remembering back to my prom in 1994. It sounds like quite a bit of time ago but in my memory - not so much.

When I went to high school, inclusion wasn't so popular. It was in its starting years, and I was eager to be included. I think my personality is outgoing by nature but shy due to my speech and involuntary movements. When I'm greeted by acceptance or even patience, the true me comes out.

In high school, I was shy, at first. Being the only one in a big, metal looking, clunky wheelchair with a tray and laptop didn't help. I also had an aide that students thought was my mom. Not good. I did take journalism and the teacher allowed me to publish an article about me and cerebral palsy to set the record straight.

The true me definitely came out the end of freshman year when I entered myself in the school talent show. I danced on the floor to Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones to show that I could get out of my chair and was just a girl.

By the senior prom time, I had a steady boyfriend. He went to Perkiomen Valley and we were in the same grade. We met in the day that modems were popular with bulletin boards. I guess we had one of the first online romances. We only lived twenty minutes apart and saw each other every weekend. And probably like most high school romances, talked on the phone way too much and thought we'd live happily ever after. First love!

We decided to go to my senior prom. My mom took me to dress shop. I didn't want anything poofy because it wouldn't look right in a wheelchair. Dress shopping isn't easy because of changing and moving in small spaces. I picked a short, pinky fuchsia dress. I got it at the first store we went to and it was perfect.

That day was our AP English exam. We were so mad that we had prom on the same day of such an important test. My sister did my hair and make up. My mom and sister helped get me dressed. We did this at my grandmothers because she had a beautiful landscape for pictures.

I was nervous and excited. Eric wanted to take me in his Dad's nice car so my dad was nice enough to follow behind transporting my motorized chair. For some reason, I remember feeling embarrassed when Eric fed me but. I have no idea why.

Of course, I love to dance but he didn't. I would leave to dance and come back to our table to try to convince him to dance. I think I managed to pull one dance out of him where he stood me to dance a slow song.

All in all, I had a really good time and glad I didn't let CP hold me back. I can't believe in about 10-12 years we will be getting Laura ready for her prom!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My new dentist

Last week was busy, busy, busy! On Monday, I finally saw a dentist after two years. I know - bad me. Not to say all my excuses but basically my last dental visit went horrible. It left me in pain for two years but I didn't want to try a new dentist because I didn't want to be more damaged.

Basically I couldn't really chew on the right side of my mouth because the gum was being crushed every time I bit down. The bad dentist claimed I had a cavity(I now doubt I did) and claimed she gave me a root canal. My friend recommended a dentist to me, and I was able to get in a week later.

I could tell the new dentist was reluctant. I have cerebral palsy and it makes me move especially when I try not to. I explained the pain, and he hung with me trying to figure it out. I used all my strength to stay still during the x rays. My attendant even sat on my legs. He did different tests and finally figured it out. The other dentist gave me a bad filling causing gum irritation. He couldn't believe I dealt with it for two years.

He was cautious to do the filling but when he heard I taught myself to text, he said if I could do that, we could do it. He talked to me like a coach to an athlete and slowly but surely he did it. He also decided to do my cleaning and no cavities. He said that there wasn't a root canal on that other tooth either.

Now I can eat meat again and am happy.

Laura was with us. I let her bring the iPad and she played kindergarten math the whole time. She was also my cheerleader.

The dental assistant was nice but obviously had no clue that people with disabilities do more than watch tv. She asked me, "Was it hard with her having that?" I honestly didn't know she meant CP. I thought she meant the iPad. But it dawned on me and I educated her on the joys of CP in 2012.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Joys of motherhood: Happy Mother's Day

Sometimes you know why God created you. I am blessed to say that God let me know in my heart as a young child what my most valuable strengths are: being a mom and being a teacher. Both of these are challenging yet fun and full of joy.

I'm not going to pretend that Laura is the most perfect child because no one is perfect. On Tuesday, she had a pretty big tantrum over clothes that led me to physically put her on my lap and take her on my wheelchair to the van so she wouldn't miss school. However, these tantrums are not common. She lost TV for a week and that has hit home to her.

With that said, she is a remarkable child. On Wednesday afternoon, she sat in her room for almost an hour making crafts for me for Mother's Day. She was so excited and said, "I do love you, you know!!" Followed by a big hug and kiss. She makes me melt.

On Friday, her pre school had a Mother's Day celebration. When she woke up, she asked me if she could give me a card because she made two. How could I say no? So she ran in her hidden stash in her room (she hid a gift in the secret stash that her and Jeff got me on Thursday afternoon) and came running out with a card.

She cried at first because the tape came off. I calmed her and explained how to fix it. She made a book. It said I love Mom with assorted pictures etc. it was adorable.

At the school event, my heart almost exploded with pride. She sang loud and cute with her class. My attendant videoed it all with my iPhone. I loved her smile and the excitement when she saw me come in the class.

Through the year, the kids in Laura's class have gotten used to me but they still had questions. After the performance, they served refreshments. Laura sat next to Liam and I noticed them talking intently. Then Laura turned to me and asked, "Mom, can you explain why you can't walk?"

I thought it was so cute that she asked for my help. I talked to Liam until he seemed satisfied and they started playing Power Rangers.

On May 23, Laura graduates pre school. I don't know how my heart will stand the cuteness and bitter sweet reality of time. Happy Mother's Day! One of the best jobs ever!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Missing teeth and TSA

I know I haven't written in a few weeks. Like most Moms, I need two of me. One that can devote time to writing and career stuff, and one that can devote time to the house, Laura and Jeff. But that won't happen so I'll just do the best that I can with who I am.

Laura has lost two teeth now. The first one was during lunch before going to Florida. I had tears in my eyes simply because she's my baby. It's exciting to see her grow and at the same, hard to see her grow.

We did go to Florida for a week to visit my brother. I can't stand flying because the thought of an accident is terrifying. However, I don't hate it enough not to go anywhere.

Since I'm in a wheelchair, I need to get a TSA pat down. TSA pat downs have been on the news lots because people feel they are inappropriate and unjust. I, on the other hand, think they are necessary. The moment terrorists figure out people with wheelchairs might not have proper screening, they will use it to their advantage.

I don't like the pat downs though. Jeff hates seeing them handle me and just about touching my private areas. In Philadelphia, they were combing through my hair and taking samples of my hands. Some are more extreme than others. I just want the flight to be as safe as possible.

We arrived safe and sound. The flight was delayed though and delayed even more when the GPS on the plane needed tweaking. We like to fly Southwest. The prices and baggage prices are reasonable. They always put us on first. Laura is very good at travel. She loves to fly and entertains herself with a leapster, iPod and a doll. She did ask me quite frequently if we were there yet. The flight was just short 3 hours.

The week went by fast. I was apprehensive because we were staying at Andy and Kristi's house instead of a hotel. However, all was fine. Laura swam everyday, was helpful & polite, gets a long great with my brother and Kristi.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My little sick girl

I've been completely blessed with such a healthy daughter. She's athletic, eats healthier more than most adults and hardly gets sick. This school year she's been a bit more sick than other years.

In the fall, she was hit with a cold that led to allergies that led to asthma related allergies. She also had double ear infections. Just a few weeks ago, she had a stomach virus and a cold that led to allergies again.

On Mondays, I often make simple meals because of time constraints with her swim class. I made her pasta I know she likes. She looked at it, busted out in tears saying that she did not like it. I told her she had to eat it to get dessert etc etc. She became increasingly emotional and then laid under the dining room table.

After dinner, I parked my chair in the living room and she crawled over to me. She said she was so tired, I gave her some ice water and told her to relax as my attendant helped me change for the night.

When I came back, she was sound asleep on the couch. It was only 5:50 and her bedtime is at 8. I knew something was up. When Jeff came home 40 min later, he helped her change and put her in bed. I read her a story. We both noticed how hot she felt so he gave her a Tylenol.

Laura came out about twenty minutes later asking for food. We gave her something and she watched tv with us then bed. She seemed ok.

Laura woke up about 7:30 and seemed fine. After I got out of the shower, she came into the hall and said she thought she was going to throw up. I had her go throw up in the toilet and she did. I felt so bad.

I made a doctor appointment for 10:30. I didn't want to mess around since we are going away Sunday. She laid around. I had her sip on water. I was able to clean the bedroom as she watched Power Rangers.

The doctor diagnosed her with severe allergies and a virus. She had a 100.6 fever. They said allergy meds and prescribed a nose spray. The nose spray needs approval from insurance so still waiting.

Laura ate some soup,rice and beans. She fell asleep at the dinner table around 5:30 and went to bed. I'm not sure what this means for later tonight or tomorrow but she's asleep with her allergy and Tylenol medicine. Here's hoping for a restful night and a happy morning!

Laura earned the orange band.

Yesterday was a fantastic day. Laura enjoyed school, I got some errands and cleaning done. I found out that she can add in her head. For homework, she had to cut out five eggs to help her to her worksheet. It was one for adding. Laura cut them out perfectly but added everything perfectly in her head.

Yesterday was also her last crazy swim Monday. The next session I have things more spread out. Her first class is almost too easy and that is why she was bumped up a level for next session. Her second class was much more of a challenge. I personally think challenges are great. I grew up on challenges and it just made me stronger.

She had her wristband test. At the YMCA, they make children between 5-12 get a wristband so lifeguards can easily see what level swim they are. Orange is the lowest and then green.

Laura earned an orange wristband because she needs improvement on bringing her arms up out of the water. It means she can go in the pool by herself to under her armpits. I'm very happy with that and she worked hard for it.

During class she was fidgety with her goggles. So I quickly ran up to the front desk at the Y and bought her a youth pair. They were $7 but well spent because she said, "Thanks Mom! These are perfect."

We will miss the first week of the next session because we will be in Florida. But when we get back, she will be in the wristband class on Monday and then Ray classes Tuesday and Wednesday. She is also going to take a science and art class. I love the Y and it's only 3min away from us.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mommy and Laura day

Laura has been asking for a "Mommy and Laura Day" for awhile. A mommy Laura day means that it's just me and her. Last year they happened more frequently because my attendant at the time called out or left early frequently. Now my attendants hardly call out which is wonderful.

When my attendant would call out, I would secretly panic inside but play it cool with Laura. I'd call it Mommy and Laura Day and figure out getting her fed etc. We would eat lots of cereal on those days and anything else we could both reach.

Laura is getting older now and is pretty much self sufficient. When we remodelled the kitchen, we made one cabinet just for Laura. She has snacks, food, and some dishes just for her. She can also reach most things in the fridge.

On Friday, Jeff worked and my attendant requested off. I knew weeks in advance. On Thursday, I had Grace prepare sandwiches and plenty of juice / water cups for me. Laura has juice and water bottles.

On Friday morning, things went relatively smoothly. When Jeff went to the gym, I took a shower. Now that the shower controls are lower, it's so much easier. I picked out easier clothes to put on. When he got back, all he had to do was put my socks and sneakers on, deodorant on, and brush / put my hair up. I laid all this out for him. He also put cereal out for me and my chocolate milk.

Then he came up with a brilliant idea because he is always thinking about me. As many of you know, I'm more independent on the floor but I can't get in my chair myself. Jeff put the chair flush to the bed. So I could get into bed and then bump into my chair. Laura can click the seatbelt.

After Jeff left, Laura and I played lots. I finally logged her on to ABC She has been asking me for awhile to set her up but always forgot when I had time. She loved it (I'll write a separate review later.) Then I had her shower and dress. We decided to walk into town because we had to get a gift for her friends birthday.

Jeff's idea worked. I got in my chair no problem and we were off. It was very nice just spending time with my daughter. We talked, giggled and just had fun. People at the store were very nice and helpful. Laura got my credit card out of my wallet. It all worked well. They even gift wrapped the gift for free. I got Laura a set of plastic horses.

When we came home, we ate lunch, watched tv, played with the horses, cleaned the house and before long - Jeff was home! We had a terrific mommy, Laura day!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five year cemetery visit

On April 5 and 6 we remembered Israel's life and legacy. We use both days because he passed away sometime between the 5th and 6th and his birthday is April 6. This year the days matched up with the dates as the year he died so the memories were extra powerful.

Ever since Israel died, I have taught Laura who he is and showed pictures. I have tried to fill in the blanks as much as possible. But I can only do so much. No, I haven't told her that he took his own life, but I did say that he made a mistake and took too much medicine. One day I'll tell her. I know she will be hurt, angry and confused. However, why explain that to a five year old?

I took her to the cemetery on April 5. During the week we discussed it, picked flowers and had many conversations. I took her there before and she seemed to handle it pretty well. This year was a completely different story.

After school, we went directly to the cemetery. It was a bit weird feeling because the weather was like it was at the funeral. Burying your husband at 31 isn't something I ever expected. Coming to terms that I was a widow and a single mother was even more overwhelming. His funeral service was painfully fast and slow. I remember talking to my priest asking him not to make it drawn out because I simply didn't think I could handle it.

When someone dies, the choices and decisions keep coming. It's good in a way because it keeps your mind busy but at the same time - you much rather be doing something else. I remember sitting at the funeral home being asked so many questions. A couple just made me burst out in tears like do you want him to keep his wedding band? I personally didn't want it due to anger of the suicide but then I had to think if Laura wanted it. I decided to let him keep it. When he bought the ring, I remember him saying that he wasn't big on jewellery but if it meant that he was married to me - he would cherish it forever,

So back to the present. When we got to the cemetery, we found the grave stone. It already had flowers on it which made me feel good. Then Laura took out a picture that she made in the morning. It was a cut out drawing she made of herself, me and Israel. She laid that down and the flowers. She decorated the grave stone and walked around asking me about the others buried there.

Before we left, Laura bursted out in tears! She was so sad because she did not remember him. She knew how nice he was when she was a baby from my stories. She cried and cried. I explained that it's okay to be sad and I miss him too. I let her decide when she wanted to leave. In the van, she said she was more sad than losing her favorite toy! As her mother, I always try to make everything better but this was out of my ability.

She asked that when we go back to give her more private time so she can have a private conversation with her father. She said she is lucky to have two fathers but misses the one that is in Heaven.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Perkiomen Trail

My weekend was pretty good! On Friday, Jeff, Laura and I all had off together. The only plans we had was that Laura wanted to go to my Dad's house to sleepover and Jeff and I had date night. Jeff and I were recovering from a cold/allergy situation but did not want to waste a beautiful day.

Jeff made breakfast and I helped Laura write a story. She is getting so so close to reading. It's like she's right on the cliff. I was spelling words for her as she told me what she wanted to write. She had this whole complicated story but I had to tone it down or we would have been there a week spelling out each word.

It reminded me of when I was 8 and I got my own Brother typewriter. I typed crazy stories. One was multiple pages about a little five year old from China going to America to be a foreign exchange student. So, I was definitely excited about Laura's enthusiasm about story writing.

About noon, we all got ready and Jeff had the idea that we should take Laura biking and take Lady walking at the Perkiomen Trail. I was reluctant because I was not feeling 100 percent but he said the sunshine would do me good. I agreed so we loaded her bike and Lady, picked up some lunch and away we went.

I've heard about the trail but never went before. I'm glad we went. I was so proud to watch Laura bike. Just last summer, she wanted nothing to do with it. We even had doubts that she would ever ride it. Here she is riding really well and almost time to remove the training wheels. Sometimes I had a hard time keeping up in my chair top speed!

Lady did great too. She spent sometime off the leash and does really well. She usually walked right next to Jeff. If she got a little far ahead, she stop and look back.

As we were leaving, Laura's little legs were quite tired. She fell and did hurt the back of her knee. Again another sign of maturity, a year ago she would've cried, sworn off biking and insist I carry her back. This year she got back on and said, "I'm alright, mommy."

After the park, we stopped at the Phoenxville dog park. We went a few times before. One time we went when it was the end of winter but the snow/ice were still in the melting process. Well, after we were done, both dogs and all 3 of us were covered in mud. It wasn't our best ideas but a funny memory.

This time we went and no problems. We were all a little worn out but stayed for about 30min. It was just a great day to be a family and enjoy each other.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Yes, we have 7 pets

Whenever people visit our house, they always ask us how many animals. We always reply, "2 dogs, 3 cats, one fish and a snail." Then the usual response is, "You have 3 cats!!!"

I have always been a dog person. My family had at least one when growing up. When I was about 10 or 11, my sister talked my parents into keeping a kitten that she found. I think cats are cute but dogs are much more fun. I used to think cats weren't loyal until I met Gus and Grant.

When Jeff and I met, we each had pets. In 2008, I had Lucky, Hip Hop and my fish. I had a hamster named Daisy. She was adorable but required too much cleaning. Laura was just 2 so everything was really busy. Then I met Jeff who had Gus and Grant - both cats.

I found it attractive that he had pets. It proved he was responsible and caring on some level. When Gus and Grant first moved in, they were shy. Especially Grant. I was a bit nervous how my cat would act but they all worked it out. Lucky, my dog, just looked at me as if saying, "Really Jessica?"

Both Gus and Grant are the most loyal cats I've ever met. As soon as they hear Jeff's car, they run to greet him. When he sits, they both cuddle up to him and lay on him. I swear they say "Dad" when they meow. During the day when he's at work, they sleep and want an occasional pet. They meow when hungry but for the most part tucked away sleeping in a corner.

Now Jeff might be the cat whisperer, but I'm the dog person. I've had Lucky for ten years. She's smart, affectionate, stubborn and protective. Lucky also has epilepsy. She is on medicine but still gets seizures sometimes.

Jeff got Lady for me in May 2008. At the SPCA, I wandered around teary eyed wishing that I could take them all. Then I stopped at one cage and saw this cuddly looking black dog in the corner. I stopped.

The dog came quietly over hanging her head low. She sat down without raising her head but looked up to me with warm, patient brown eyes. My heart melted and knew she was it. Her name is Lady and she was just 4. When they brought her out for us to meet her, she came over, put her front legs on my wheelchair footrest and her head gently on my lap.

Lady follows me wherever I go. She likes to go out with us and can easily walk next to you without a leash in the right setting. She also looks like a teddy bear when she needs a hair cut. I can't believe she just turned 8.

All of our animals are important to us. Laura loves them and helps feed them. It's hard watching Lucky age. She has accidents now and never did before. The night Israel died, I think Lucky held it in for almost 48 hours!!! All we can do is give her the best we can and love her.

We will probably always have one dog and one cat for the rest of our lives.

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