Monthly Archives: March 2013

Back in the Saddle

The last Monday of the month and my friend Lori at LavenderLuz.com, challenges us to find, perhaps, the extraordinary in everyday, or just realize those little moments in your everyday where all is right in your corner of the world, for possibly a moment in time.

As you will read, my moments were not as much perfect as they were defining.

This is quite the task for me this month.  I got to ride on the wave of excitement and euphoria of being cast in Listen to Your Mother – DC for approximately, hmmm, let’s say five days.   It was a wonderful five days, full of excitement, good feelings and possibilities, that hey, just maybe I am a writer.  I was even practicing saying the phrase, “I’m a writer.”  While practicing this affirmation I was trotting around town on my high horse when all of the sudden, WHOA, WHAM…there I was knocked off that horse and flat on my back.

From atop of my high horse, I was then thrown on a busy street and continuously run over by truck full of very heavy items.  Once the trucks had their way with me, I was put limp and lifeless into a Cuisinart and pureed on high speed.

Yeah…I’ve been having fun.

I have to admit I’m a little ashamed.  I have experienced about the worst that a Mommy can, I have my days, but overall I consider myself a tough cookie.  So, why did one phone call, telling me I had to move in 60 days, turn me into a pureed mess?  Why was all the toughness I managed to gather the last 2 years slip away so quickly?

After working so hard this year to establish Johnny in a new school and everyone else into a new home, neighborhood and routine, I felt like I ran right smack into “the wall.”  You know the one, you can’t get over it, under it, or around it.  It is right there in front of you and you feel in a hopeless state.  The idea of Johnny going to yet, one more school, was more than I could take.  He is relatively happy (big for him) likes his school, has a great teacher, and the kids are great with him.  All of this money cannot buy.  I have worked Johnny entire little life for this scenario.  With this as my motivator, I got to work.

Having little pride and no shame, I cast my nets and put out my feelers, asking all I knew, if they knew of anyone moving from our neighborhood and if I could get the landlords information.  We responded to listings that would move us out of our neighborhood but thought maybe we could save some money.  What I learned in all of this is a bit disheartening.  Some of it you might not even believe, but believe me, like I say, I can’t MAKE this stuff up.

It was like I couldn’t give my money away.  And I was trying…very hard.  Landlords who knew their homes were becoming available, didn’t yet know what they wanted to charge, but they wouldn’t tell me what the current rent was because they wanted to increase but they didn’t want me to know by how much.  But they were “good landlords” they fixed the “big” things but not little things, like dishwashers.  Ummmm, no thank you.  I didn’t even bother to go over the definition of “good” with them.

Perhaps my favorite is the gentleman who, after learning where we currently live, won’t rent to us because he didn’t think we would be happy in his house after living in this neighborhood.  Are YOU kidding me, buddy?  What part of I have 60 days to relocate my family and your house keeps my Johnny in the same school did you NOT understand?   Perhaps you don’t know exactly what I will do for that boy!  And his brothers!

Saving the best for last…ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!  Finally, I find a beautiful house, in my neighborhood and I am Johnny on the spot, first phone call, on her door step, deposit in hand, completed life history for application.  Great, all looks great.  Then a couple of days later she informs me she is not taking my check yet, or anyones.  Me, “I thought you indicated you would rent to us?” Her, “Weelll, we’ve decided that my husband wants to review all the applications and then talk to everyone.”  “But I’ll pray about it and you do to.”  “Don’t worry, you’re at the top of the list.”

And with that, I had my moment, not my perfect moment, but a defining moment.  Something snapped, in a good way for once, and I got mad one too many times.  That is it, I hit my limit.  I will never again put myself in a position to beg for help in finding a place to live, or for the “privilege” of renting a home.  I will never put anyone else in that position either.

The praying landlord questioned if the timing of the move to her home would be too much for me.  I am not to be underestimated.  Lady, you have no idea what I am capable of.  When it comes to my boys I will do anything in my power to do what is in their best interest.  And right now, that is continuity.  I have lost count of how many schools Johnny has been to since he was 2 so that tells me it is too many.  His teachers “get him” and so do the kids.  Like I said, I have worked for 11 years to be able to write that sentence.  Oh yeah, and much to his dismay, he gets to be on swim team.  I learned, I can’t explain the value of this to others.  But it is important to me and that is all that matters.  We have had enough upheaval to last a lifetime, and we are done.

In that moment, I learned that even when it feels like I can’t get knocked any lower, I can.  Then, much to my surprise I learned that just when I thought it was impossible, I dug a little deeper and found my fight, my spirit.

Yes, I also learned to balance myself a little better in that saddle, reduce the chances of another WHOA, WHAM incident.

So, here I am, getting back on the horse.  This time with my piggy bank.  Cause now I have to go on down to my local lender and see how much of a down payment I can get out of this little piggy.

Balancing Act

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This is supposed to be “semi-wordless” Wednesday, but mine is actually, “Write on and on Wednesday” as I have much to say.  If you have been following Life According to Johnny you might be familiar with the “Krispy Kreme” symbolism.  And that sadly, you are aware that it does not mean I love, love, love donuts and can’t get me enough donuts!  In my “world” it actually symbolizes, ENOUGH, ENOUGH ALREADY!!!…I CAN’T TAKE ONE MORE BITE OF CRAP SANDWICH…AND I AM ON THE EDGE!  What edge?  That edge where people begin to refer to me in terms of…”you know…before she…really lost it, or…well, you fill in the blank.

If you are a little confused about how, when and why Krispy Kreme became an adjective in my life, read here, Krispy Kreme Memories.

Like then I have a certain amount of daily stress and other unseemly weight I carry with me.  I know, who doesn’t?  That said, as well as I “think” I may be doing keeping my life in balance, apparently that balance is of such a delicate nature that the tiniest items added to one side of the scale and WHOOOAAAA, I lose my footing on the tightrope, hit myself in the head with my balancing stick and go into a free-fall, thus becoming the previously unannounced act in my own 3 Ring Circus. 

The result, straight into Krispy Kreme mode and a property manager who has surely changed his phone number by now.

Try as I might, not a day passes that I do not feel the weight of loss and grief for Our Madeline.  I operate that that is a given.  I then worry about giving The Brothers a home where they know their sister is missed but that does not keep them from having a childhood and all the positive things you want for your child.  With all the upset and turmoil they have endured, I worry about yet more change.

As with a lot of things in military life, change is something that is usually out of our control.  The dominoe effect of one military persons move is truly mind boggling.  Last week we were reminded of that fact yet again when (seemingly) out of the blue we were informed that the owners of our house were to be returning to the area.  That phone call packed just enough power to push me right off that tight rope I had been walking with such precision.

Moving, in itself, I know, should not be considered traumatic but given the extenuating circumstances, I am just that…traumatized.  Funny, because I know I’m tougher than that.  After what I have endured this should be nothing but it has turned into a big ol something!  The thought of changing, anything on The Brothers, yet again, feels like too much.  Johnny has been doing so well and I pray this does not pile on a whole new level of anxiety and an escape into his Batman world, which I know feels safe and comforting for him, but not so much for the Mommy.

Our hope is to remain in this little neighborhood and right now I am dedicated to that cause.  So, if I show up at your door…run!

Sadly I know this is NOT the WORST.  I know the WORST and this in comparison is a minor inconvenience, if that. However, when you realize you are running on reserves the idea of an inconvenience seems like yet another bite of crap sandwich and frankly, I am full.

Be that as it may, I better chew each bite 20 times, drink some water, wait for another bite and in the meantime get back to walking that tight rope.

Friday Fun in Crazy Town

They like me, they really, really like me.  Or so she says.  Hilary at Feeling Beachie, invited me back to be the Michael to her Kelly!  I prefer to be Kelly (she has the better shoes) but Hilary has opened up her “home” on the super blogosphere highway, so I will let her wear the cute shoes and I will don my Brooks Brother’s pinstripe and sensible shoes.

Who am I kidding?  I can’t afford Brooks Brothers!  It might come as a shock to you but being a substitute teacher in a Catholic School isn’t exactly a lucrative career choice.  You pretty much do that job because, well, you lack good common sense and have a strange desire to take groups of 30 children to church.  Truth be told, it’s actually easier to take 30 children than The Brothers.  30 kids don’t try to hang on me, beg for donuts or ask for computer games.  They use that prayerful time to reflect on how they can make the substitute crazy when they return to class.

Speaking of crazy…at least I thought we were.  I am a nano-second away from catching the train to crazy town.  My train has no destination, you just go round and round on that track, just like under the Christmas tree.  The ultimate definition of insanity.  My best imitation of a hamster on a wheel.  That hamster’s got nothing on me.  And move over Thomas the Train, I’m coming down the tracks, or around the tracks actually.

Well, you could say I asked for this trip to crazy town.  Why?  I did something bad, very, very bad!  What?  You say, what could be that bad?  I did the unspeakable…I TAUNTED THE MOVING GODS… AND THEN THE MOVING GODS (OR THEIR SPIES) WENT AND TOLD ON WHOEVER IS IN CHARGE THAT I WAS DOING BAD THINGS.  What?  What did I do?  I BRAGGED!  Yep, that’s right, you’re not seeing things!  I went and bragged that I did not have to pack up all my belongings and move anywhere.  So you guessed it, the very next day I get the call, YOU HAVE TO MOVE!!!  I HAVE 60 DAYS TO FIND A NEW HOME, AND RE-PACK EVERYTHING I JUST UNPACKED.  If I am not making any sense in the writing of this it is because I am NUMB!  I don’t even know what number move this is at this point but I don’t think I can count that high.  I can count to 8 though.  Because that’s the number of months that we have lived in this current house.

Needless to say the amount of fun that I have on any given day should be illegal in 47 states.  Like I said, this willy nilly, in your face lifestyle is just not for everyone.  So it was only a matter of time before someone higher up lowered the boom, shut down the circus, made last call, turned on the lights and shut down the disco.  Cause I don’t have to go home but I can’t stay here.

I wonder if my dear co-host would mind if we came and stayed with her.  I think that’s what Kelly and Michael’s families do, right?  Then we could come back next week and have witty host chat.  Well, that is, if “Kelly” isn’t ramming her head into the rubber walls that I’m sure my family would drive her to.

On that note, I will leave “Kelly” to her peaceful abode and get on with the Friday fill-in fun!

P.S.,  Great shoes, Kelly!

The statements are:

1.       My first car was a _____

2.       My___ is so ____

3.       I would drop everything to _____

4.       I never tell people I once.­­____

Everything you wanted to know about me but were afraid I would tell you. In other words, my responses:

1.  My first car was a 1988 Honda Civic with manual steering and a stick shift, which I didn’t know how to drive but it was all I could afford.  Steep learning curve.

2.  My brain is so so very numb.  And when I resume feeling it is not going to be pretty because I can’t believe I HAVE TO MOVE AGAIN!!!

3.  I would drop everything to watch someone else, anyone else, pack up my house and move it.  To anywhere!  I don’t care!  I never want to see any of this crap again!

4.  I never tell people I once considered myself a sane person.  No one would believe it anyways.

Happy Friday, people!  Have a drink on me, then get yourself over here and start packing!  Crazy town is open for business.

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Blessed be the “lucky”

Days late a dollars short.  That sums it up.  Another one that crosses my mind, “the best laid plans of mice and men”…is that even a saying?  I think it is.  Or the absolute best, “Life, it’s what happens when you are making other plans.”  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Not the winning ticket, just the ticket.  Me and winning, we have issues…many issues.  Because that thing they call, “Luck“, well, Lady Luck and Mr. Winner, I believe they are a happy couple, possibly, a former neighbor, in some former life, that I have really ticked off and they are out to get me.  And let me tell you, they are relentless.

I will blame it on the time change, I think that is a given in this first week and I am doing the Timewarp on Thursday, instead of Tuesday, because while I was making my weekly plans, Mr. Winner and Lady Luck, they were beginning their pursuit.

My friend Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed hosts this party once a month.  The purpose to find a post we previously wrote, reflect on where we were when we wrote it and what has happened in our lives since.  Ironically, the theme this month is Luck.  In honor of St. Patrick’s day and how the leprechaun and shamrock go hand in hand with this day.

I chose this post from a couple of months ago.  It is entitled, “Darn the Luck.”

My tenuous relationship with the subject is evident.

I married into an Irish family.  I have the O’ name and everything.  But the luck.  My sister-in-law calls it the Kennedy Luck of the Irish, without the fortune.  As our family has endured many infant deaths and sorrow.

Possibly a reason I am a couple of days late to do the Timewarp as I have been ruminating on this subject.  See, I don’t know if I really believe in “Luck”.  I am wondering if it isn’t more about one’s circumstances, reactions and perception.  Because what you might “see” as “lucky” I might see as unavoidable circumstance that I am doing my best to “deal” with.  Or have been continuously working behind the scenes to create the illusion of luck.

I have fostered this belief after the last two years of gut wrenching grief and several years of Johnny’s life (and ours) with Autism.  I am often rendered speechless (not easy to do to me) by how others have been at the ready to remind me of how Lucky I am.

The best of the worst.  “You are “lucky” that you had Madeline for 16 months, you didn’t even expect that at first.”  I have said this before, if you have children, look at them, then tell me which one you have had enough time on this earth with.  Then get back to me on my “luck.”

Also that I am lucky I have three other children.  Yes, I adore them, I cherish them.  They are each as irreplaceable as their Baby Sister.  Although their presence can provide comfort it does not make up for or take away from the fact that Madeline is gone.  Easing grief is not, nor should it be, the role of my boys.

Another, “Oh, it’s just her heart, because she just has to have open heart surgery and she will be fine.”  Luck being implied.

I have also been told I am lucky that she could be laid to rest by her cousins and family.  While I am grateful this is true, and I know she is being watched by her loving Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles, I believe this falls under horrible circumstance that we are trying with all of our might to make somewhat bearable.

Johnny is considered “high-functioning” on the autism spectrum.  Yes, I know, I am “lucky” that “he does so well.”  He reads well, is able to mainstream and is considered bright.  People always like to tell me that I am “lucky” in this situation, they can always tell me a story of someone who has it “worse.”  I’m here to tell you, parents of children with autism are not in competition to see who has it “worse.”  Because actually, we love our children for who they are, the unexpected joy they bring into our lives and the constant lessons we are learning.

As far as how “well” Johnny does, this is not “luck” it is your perception of my circumstance.  Because what one might perceive as “luck” is actually the result of a great deal of hard work, sleepless nights, many IEPS, therapies and early intervention.  He has been a full-time student since he was 2.  Johnny is not just “lucky” he is one hard-working little boy and has worked hard for many skills many people do not give any thought to.  Although, maybe every child should have an IEP goal of raising their hand and waiting their turn.  Just saying.

Please do not misinterpret, Dear Reader,  I am blessed in many ways.  Those blessings include many friends and family who pray constantly and do many other behind the scenes good deeds so that I am standing upright, showered, wearing somewhat clean clothes, and am here for the Brothers and The Captain.

These Dear Friends and family members take me on runs, pour me a drink, make me soup, take flowers to my Baby Girl when I cannot, listen to me cry and then stand me up again.  And then turn around and do it all again.  Lucky, I don’t know…Blessed…definitley.

Moving Day!

Moving Day!

Being a good military wife and all, there is one of many skills that needs to constantly be honed to stay in tip-top, Military Wife condition.  Never wanting to be caught “off-guard”, we must stay on top of “our game”.  It is for our sanity and the good of our families existence. Without it, we would live in or out of a cardboard box…literally. That Dear Reader, would be the skill set to, on a moments notice (or less), be able to see at which warp speed and agility I can have my families entire existence packed into boxes and relocated to another “home” where, if I’m lucky, and not suffering from situational whiplash, at least 85% of our treasures will be unpacked and haphazardly “displayed” in said new “home.”  IF…and only if…I’m lucky.

Luck and other things like if the truck arrives on the right day, Johnny isn’t yelling at packers to stop trying to “steal his toys”, The Captain is with us, nobody is in the hospital, nobody is being potty trained and the sky isn’t opening up with snow or rain.  All true stories…but I digress.

But…as luck would have it The Captain has NOT been ordered to pack it up and move it on.  So here I am, left with nothing to pack, nothing to move.  And more tragically, no more excuses for my house looking like we just moved in.  Or my second favorite excuse…we are getting ready to move.

All that being considered, I did the most logical thing…I FOUND something to move.  My BLOG!  That’s right.  Just like a big grown up 18-year-old that has learned all they need to know and are ready to conquer the world, I have taken the big leap into the “real” world.  No more curfew, I can stay up all night, eat cake for breakfast, chips for dinner.  Heck, I can even do all that in the living room.  NOW, that’s what I call living the LIFE.  Well, that, and a little red wine…or more…that is situational as well.

I have learned from some of the best.  And their words of wisdom whispered in my ear.  Don’t be a FOOL, get all hands on deck.  Summons the troops.  Don’t go it alone.  And if you do, DO NOT coming whining to us.  Weeelll, they are some pretty awesome best, so they would still help.  But at the least, would definitly tell me to stop whining.  Or is that my Dad.  Anywho.

With all that in mind I called in the troops, the Professionals.  And with help from Jessica at Jelly Fish Web (http://www.jellyfishweb.net) and much cheerleading from the sidelines of the blogosphere, I have packed it in and moved on up.

That’s right.  Out there on my own.   And since my Mom wouldn’t let me change my name when I was 6 to Diane, like I begged, I am taking back my power and giving my blog a new name…Life According to Johnny.    I even did a little redecorating. Never called Nate Berkus once.  I hope you like what I did with the place.

You will notice I even hung up some pictures!  Thanks to Matt at Barrickphotography.com and his magical lighting and talent.  If you are in the D.C./Northern Virginia area, give him a call.  He can also make your family look perfect and well-behaved.

I am excited to invite you over and give you my new name and address.  Please write it down and stop by often.  I made sure I got extra space so all 10 of you can bring a friend.

Excuse the dust but please come by, have a drink, a laugh or a sigh and visit at LifeAccordingtoJohnny.com.  You should not have trouble finding me as I have a shiny new address sign as well.  Check it out:

LATJ Button 3

If you want one for your address book go to my front porch and take one of my calling cards, I got one for each of us.

Please forgive the mess while I settle into my new home.  Despite all of my bragging, I’m not so good at the unpacking business.  Pssst…don’t tell the Navy…they might make me practice!

 

 

 

 

 

My Say

Today, like many others, is very bittersweet.  Filled with too many emotions that drive me to distraction.  All around the talk of the Big Snowstorm.   So, here I sit, in  a daze, waiting for the big one to hit.  I have a stocked fridge, pantry and a really good bottle of red if it really hits the fan.  Cabin fever, that is…

Snowstorms sound so romantic, nostalgic, and kind of like a Hallmark Network feelgood movie.  Images of making warms soups, hot cocoa and sitting by a roaring fire.  Your wholesome snacking  enhanced by playing board games and putting together puzzles with your family.  Only taking a break from the warmth and hilarity to dash out and frolic together in the snow.  

I wonder where that family lives?  Because as soon as I get their address I’m heading over while the roads are still clear.

If and when this epic March snowstorm hits I’m guessing the Hallmark movie playing in my head is not the same Reality show that will play out in my home.  Yes, there will be lots of snacks.  Mainly me stuffing myself with chips and diet coke to ensure my sanity.  The warm delicious soups I want to make will only be consumed by me.  Because as Johnny likes to tell me, “me and my brothers only eat good food.”  If you can’t compete with Kraft Dinner and Tombstone Pizza I find it best to just wave the white flag and carry on.  Plus, all that homemade goodness warms my tummy and fills me with fortifying vitamins until a respectable time comes that I may, shall we say, partake of a bottle I’ve been saving for just the right moment.  That moment would be the moment just before my last nerve ending pops through my skin and my Hallmark movie turns into a Simpsons episode.

I don’t care how much space you live in, a lot of testosterone is just that…A LOT!

The brothers are, of course, excited about the possibility of a snowstorm!  Well, a SNOW DAY.  But really, who doesn’t enjoy a good snowday!  They are full of possibilities.  Like I said, when I find out where that family lives, I will let everyone know.

I would be excited just to be able to stay in my jammies and not pack lunches.

It has been a couple of years since we have enjoyed a good snow storm.  This predicted storm would be so simple.  All that I require I already have at my disposal.  I should be filled with anticipation, excitement, and a warm cozy feeling… right?  But I am not.

My heart does not feel light.  Something very heavy is sitting on my chest and is causing my constant ache to begin to throb.

For the last big snowstorm jammies and wine were not even on the list.  My list consisted of ensuring that all durable medical equipment in the house was fully charged.  That all trachs and supplies were fully stocked and all oxygen tanks ready to go, if necessary.  Checklists like, did we let the Utility company and Fire Department know that we have a child with a trach in case power goes out or our street becomes inpassible?  And then the moving of a mattress and all medical equipment to the family room to be ready for when the night nurse calls to say she cannot make it to our house and we are “on”.

That was the last snowstorm I remember.  It was nerve wracking.  It was scary.  It was exhausting.  And I want it back.

I want to still be that Mommy.  That Mommy that has a Baby Girl with an extra chromosome and all that comes with her.  All the extra  that made Madeline…Madeline.  It was hard work and she kept me going 24/7.  And I miss every damn bit of it, every damn minute of the day.  And yes, I would do it again.  And NO, I did not like my baby girl to suffer, to undergo all of the surgeries and other poking and proding but I miss HER.  I just do.  It is that simple…and that complicated.

Try as I might I am having a very difficult time finding a new occupation.  Someone forgot to ask if I was interested in getting a new job when the angels were sent to carry her home.  They forgot to ask if  I had my resume together.  Because the answer is no.  The answer remains no.

Really, someone should ask before they take the best job you ever had, and with no words spoken, inform you it is your last day.  Your services are no longer needed.    Because if they had I would have said, please let me stay.   I will do whatever is required and more.  I’ll be on call 24/7 and never strike.   I’ll work for snuggles and rasberry kisses and will not demand a raise.  Let my bonus be watching her first steps and her first day of school.  Let my vacation in the sun be the illuminating smile on her precious face.

But no one ever asked…so I never got to say.