Thursday, December 15, 2016

December is a happy time in a crazy world

December is my favorite month of the year despite the cold.  This December has been no different, but unfortunately, I've heard of some people dying unexpectedly.  My heart goes out to their family who is missing them especially around Christmas.  God has a way of planning even though it's almost impossible to understand.  I used to wish that in December no one would die. But can you imagine how terrible January would be? I guess He does have a plan for everything and everyone.

Jason and Laura are very excited about Christmas.  Jason is full of the magic in Santa Claus and just beginning to learn about Jesus.  Laura is in the spirit of giving to others and learning more deeply about Jesus. Both stages of maturity are wonderful in so many ways. We decorated our inside and outside of our house. Jason loves looking at everything while Laura does the decorating now.

Last Saturday we bundled up and all went to pick out our tree.  Jason thought it was the best thing ever especially when they tied it to our van. We went to two places, and found the perfect tree right away at the second spot. Laura enjoyed hanging ornaments after Jeff set it up and did the lights.  Later on, we went to the Christmas Village which is about an hour away and filled with millions of Christmas lights. Jason was taken back by a huge lit up Santa Claus. We were freezing and surrounded by hundreds of people, but we had fun and made memories. On our way home, we stopped for pizza and all enjoyed ourselves.

Jason had an ear infection right after Thanksgiving. He was on antibiotics but unfortunately it came back on Monday. Now he is on a stronger antibiotics and hopefully it'll cure him.  Nothing worse than a sick little boy.  He's a fighter though and brave. Even when he hurt the most, he handled it with grace. 

Last night Laura performed in her first band concert. She plays clarinet and does outstanding. Luckily, my friend could watch Jason so I could go.  Laura dressed beautifully and looked amazing. My neighbor always finds the best dresses for Laura. She looked stunning. We had to get there early because she was nervous.  I'm glad we did since we found perfect seats with a great view of Laura. The band played excellent for elementary and choir was wonderful. 


12 Gift Ideas For Someone With Cerebral Palsy

Do you have a person who has cerebral palsy or a physical disability on your holiday shopping list? Are you lost in what to buy them that will be helpful, and they would also enjoy? I have compiled a list of items in which I believe someone with a disability would like to receive.  But like any gift, keep in mind the person receiving and follow your heart and instinct. Not everything you give needs to be disability related.

Kindle - I love to read, however, holding a book is extremely difficult due to my dexterity.  Having a kindle has opened reading books to me like never before.  I like to read in comfort and independence.

Kindle case - If you know someone has a kindle, consider purchasing a kindle case. Kindles can be a challenge to turn on and off. My husband bought me a durable case that turns on when you open it and turns off when you close the case.  I absolutely am thrilled by the independence it has given me.

Massage gift certificate makes a great gift for people with stiff and spastic muscles. Massages help someone relax and have better movement for awhile. Please research to see if the massage place is wheelchair accessible beforehand or it will be a waste of money and time the person going to get the massage.

Pants that look like good but are easy to get on and off like leggings. If you're shopping for a woman, a good pair of leggings is an excellent idea especially paired with a shirt that matches.

Money is a great idea for someone on disability. Disability checks aren't very high and living off that money is not easy. So, having some extra money is always welcome.

Gift cards to places like Amazon are a huge help to anyone.  More and more people are using online shopping and the convenience is wonderful especially if you can't drive.

Heating blankets or wraps are welcome to someone that has difficulty with muscles or tight muscles. Heat helps calm muscles and relaxes.  Look for ones that are easy to turn on and off.

Homemade coupons offering your services. When you have a physical disability, you tend to feel bad asking for help and often don't ask. If you offer services such as lawn care, organizing closets, trips to the movies, trips to stores, carpet cleaning, basement organizing or help with pets are always welcome! Having the coupons takes pressure off from feeling bad for asking your help.

Anything soft is excellent for people with cerebral palsy. Feeling softness on the skin or in the hands not only feels good but good for therapy. Blankets, fuzzy socks, pillows, sheets, towels, slippers, mittens, hoodies and pajamas would all fit in this category.

Technology offers wonderful opportunities to people who have disabilities.  iPads, iPhones, remote control lights, apps and anything offering ease of independence.  Consider an iTunes gift card as an idea.

Visiting or offering to go to places is a perfect gift.  Going places can be a challenge if someone doesn't drive so if you offer to take them, it takes the stress off them asking for rides.

If you feel compelled to purchase a pet for them, please ask first. They might not be physically capable of taking care of a pet. So, discuss the pet first before purchasing.

15 Gifts for People With Breast Cancer

Holidays are fast approaching and so is buying gifts! If you have someone who has breast cancer or even a breast cancer survivor, you might be deciding what would be a good gift to buy them.  I complied a list of ideas that I think will hopefully inspire you to find the right gift for your family member or friend.  But remember to keep in mind their personality before everything else as you pick their gift.

Comfy clothes are a great idea for someone recovering or undergoing breast cancer treatment. Big hoodies and flannel button down fashionable pajamas are welcome. Fuzzy warm socks are also wanted and welcomed.

Moisturizers are a good gift idea because treatments can leave skin dry and itchy. Having a good moisturizer can make all the difference in the world.

A kindle is an excellent present for someone undergoing treatment or recovering. Reading is a great distraction from upcoming appointments, procedures and tests.  Kindles are also small enough to fit in a purse or bag to transport.

Word search books, crossword puzzles or any games that can be used for fun and as a distraction.

Candles and candle holders are welcome.  Nothing like a beautiful smelling candle to have in your room when you are trying to relax and heal.

Gift cards to grocery stores or any store for that matter just to help take some financial burden off the family.  Cancer isn't only miserable but also terribly expensive so any help is appreciated.

Speaking of gift cards, gift cards to clothing stores are excellent because clothing doesn't always fit or feel the same as it did prior a mastectomy especially a double mastectomy.

Home made gift certificates offering your assistance in services such as cleaning the house, cooking, gardening, help with child care, help with pet care, running errands and such will be a welcome help. No one likes asking for help so having these home made offers relieves stress. 

Heating pads and blankets are appreciated especially as we approach the winter months. When I recovered, I relaxed on a recliner and wrapping in a blanket helped me feel even more comfortable.

Inspirational breast cancer awareness ornaments, cups, shirts, earrings and just about anything is good for a breast cancer survivor. As I was going through cancer treatments, I didn't appreciate the pink ribbon as I do now. Now when I look at breast cancer awareness merchandise, I don't get a pit in my stomach. I look at it and actually smile that I had cancer, went through it and am still here.  

ITunes gift cards and anything with music helps the survivor and the person going through breast cancer.  Music carried me through just about all the seasons of cancer. Songs helped me through finding out, biopsies, lumpectomy to mastectomy. When I hear certain songs, I have a memory attached to the song.  I will always carry these memories with strength.

A day at the spa to get a massage, nails done and whatever else to make them feel wonderful makes a terrific gift.

For women and men dealing with cancer, adventures and helping them do things that they have never done before.  A chance to drive a sports car, amusement parks, the beach and whatever they wish to experience is so important. 

Movie gift cards are fun and a well needed distraction.

Hugs and visitors from family and friends are unmeasurable. Knowing that you are not alone and people have your back can lift your spirits and hope.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Family update

I realized that it's been way too long since I wrote about the little details about what is going on with our little family.  I've been very busy writing for my weekly columns, writing my book and raising two human beings.  Jeff now works the afternoon/evening shift since October.  It's been a huge adjustment for me and the kids. Bigger change than  what I thought.  I am happy he's doing something that he likes, and this shift won't be forever.

For me, I technically only have a break in my day when Jason naps. During pre school hours, I'm off doing errands, grocery shopping or writing.  I do miss when six or seven comes along and Jeff would take over completely and I'd do whatever I wanted until we both hung out after the kids went to bed. I miss him. We see each other during the day, but I'm busy with things and my attendant is here. When he gets home, I'm lucky if I can say a sentence I'm so tired. But we text and try to spend as much time as we can squeeze in.

It's exhausting being nonstop as any parent especially single parents knows.  Luckily, Jason does get to see him everyday since pre school is only a few hours three days a week. Laura can go five to six days without seeing him. They often text at night and she likes that a lot.  I do have a couple hours of help with dinner and getting ready for bed which I fully appreciate. Bed time can vary for the kids but usually they are both in bed by 9:30. 

Laura is doing very well.  Her grades fluxuate on the high end of honors and high honors.  I can't complain, and we study together each night.  She is playing clarinet and doing very well.  She is diligent with practice.  At first, I thought I'd lose my mind, but she needs it and I can see huge improvement.  Her concert is next week.  I always have guilt that I don't spend enough quality time with Laura because Jason is demanding at night. However, we do make the time whenever possible.  We love to shop together and watch certain shows.  Laura is very supportive of me being the only parent. She listens to me and takes my advice.  For that, I'm forever grateful and blessed now she's ten with a bright social life.

Jason loves going to pre school.  In fact, he would love it if it was seven days a week! I hope his enthusiasm to school stays with him.  At home, we've been working on letters, numbers and their meanings. He can spell Jason on his own and almost count to twenty without a mistake.  Even though his attention span is short, he learns and remembers amazingly well.  Unlike my daughter, Jason doesn't listen to me too well and would rather do things the extra hard way sometimes than taking my advice. But sometimes there are glitters of hope like letting me verbally direct him with a shower and getting dressed etc. He's been potty trained since September but needs reminders.  

Laura and Jason love music. Jason loves to play the Star War Theme or Hall of the Mountain King and just dance like crazy. He calls it rock it out.  Laura loves to sing and dance.  Jason sings nursery rhymes and some Christmas songs.  

Our lives are always on the go, and I'm perpetually tired but I wouldn't miss a moment. During the craziest moments when the living room is torn apart (again), kids are yelling, laughing as dogs race and I feel like I'm going to lose it, I tell myself one day I'm going to miss it all.  I don't regret anything though and love each second of raising my kids. 


Think Before Speaking to Someone with Cerebral Palsy

Today I had to walk home from my car repair shop because my brakes need to be replaced. As we were walking, my friend asked me why do people look at us strangely when I'm just walking in town?  I stopped noticing any obvious stares and live my life. However, it does make me wonder why people say and do when they notice someone different.

In my forty one years, I've learned to not let everything bother me when treated differently. However, there are some moments that stand out more than others.  I realize that it is natural to look at people you may not understand or just curious. Curiosity is natural to human nature. 

When someone says something about cerebral palsy out of the blue or says something about it totally unexpected, it takes me off guard. I know that I'm not alone when I say that people need to think before they speak. My only wish is to have a witty comeback after this happens. But I normally think of one as we walk away from each other. 

Here are some of my favorite situations where someone has said something completely unexpected.  I have plenty of stories, but these stand out the most

1. Doctor Express is an alternate place to an emergency room or you can't quickly get an appointment at your regular doctor office. I needed to take my daughter because I thought she might have an ear infection. At Doctor Express, after having Laura see the doctor and on our way to check out, I felt the doctor tap me on the shoulder. I turned to look at him and he says, "You're so brave!"  I told him thank you, but I really wanted to say was, "Really? For what? Laura is sick - not me."

2. As a writer and teacher, I educate people about cerebral palsy all of the time.  There is a time and place for that, and it's usually not a family gathering or party.  When people say, "I'd like to know more about your disease," I always need a second to think.  What I normally ask is what do they want to know.  But what I actually want to say is, "First of all, cerebral palsy isn't a disease. I have a disability.  I will be glad to educate you, here is my business card." 

3. Motorized wheelchairs seem to fascinate people.  Any place and any time. I can hear from a stranger, "Let's race!" or "Do you have a license for that thing?" Or, "How fast does that thing go?" Now to some, this might seem like a harmless joke.  I usually smile and a forced laugh. But I'm feeling irritated inside because I am trying my hardest to fit in and be myself. But you come along to remind me that I'm not.  My wheelchair isn't a car. It is my freedom and extension of me.  I really could not care less how it goes as long as it gets me where I need to be.

4.  It's rather sad to say how happy I feel when a stranger acknowledges my children are in fact mine.  They've been mistaken before as my siblings or friends. Then I am asked, "Are they really your kids??" I simply smile and nod.  But I really want to tell them is that I am more than capable to be a mother and I have the most amazing children in the world.

5. Since I've had cerebral palsy my whole life, I have no idea what it feels like to not have it. I simply cringe inside when I hear, "I can't imagine not being able to control my muscles. I think I rather die." I'm not sure why anyone would think that this is okay to say to me.  I'm very much happy to live and be here.  Sure, I feel frustrated when I can't easily do something, but everyone does. We all have strengths and weaknesses, but we are all people inside.

Please think about this article the next time you feel the urge to "race" someone in a wheelchair. Think about what they're really thinking behind the polite smile, and just ask, "How are you?"

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