Category Archives: Johnny P

Adventures in the chaotic with Johnny and his brothers. Add a little autism, a little brotherly love and the fun never ends!

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.

Perfect Moment – No whiners or quitters

Perfect Moment Monday with Lori at LavenderLuz.  A time to reflect on the crazy, chaotic and possibly disappointing times of the past month and realize the one moment when all was right in your world.

I started blogging not quite two years ago.  The result of not so gentle nudging by dear friends who insisted, after hearing the tales of my daily chaos, that I needed to start a blog.  A what?  I didn’t know much about blogs let alone writing my own.

Trust me, they said, this is good stuff.  You have funny kids and a compelling story.  If you write, they will read.  “You think so?”  “Yes, I know so,” was her response.  And with that I jumped into the deep end, with no life jacket and began to doggy paddle upstream through the blogosphere.

On a not particular schedule I began blogging away about Johnny, his brothers, and our Madeline.  Much to my surprise, it began to take on a little life of its own.  “Hey!” this blogging thing is kind of fun, I thought.  So, I blogged on.

I was holding up my end of the bargain by writing but the readers must have lost the memo on their end, because, well, the readers, they were playing hard to get.  That term “viral”, yeah, you know the one…has not happened.  No one has died of the funny and had to tell millions of their “friends” about what is happening with Johnnypsmom at Life According to John.

Offers to publish Johnny’s wit and wisdom, have not been rolling in.  But that’s okay because he has his own little cult following that he doesn’t even know or care about for that matter.

For the most part I have just continued to entertain myself, if no one else.  And if I questioned my own motives or direction I could hear my Dad’s voice in my head echoing the words I heard for 40 plus years, “I did not raise a whiner, quitter or complainer, so on I blogged.

 Then I got braver and hooked up with a few blog hops and even made blogger friends.  “What’s the secret?”  I would ask.  “There is no secret, just keep writing.”  Don’t give up, just keep writing.  Eventually opportunities will come your way.  For me?  I really began to question this line of thinking as I dove further over my head into the blogosphere.

Then one day I got really, really Brave and BOLD, and with additional cheerleading from Kathy  at  Bereaved and Blessed and others, I took a piece I wrote, made 4 copies and took myself over to parts unknown, Virginia to audition for the 2013 Listen to Your Mother-DC  show.  With a deer in the headlights look about me and fueled by anxiety,  I proceeded to read for a coveted part in the 12 person cast.

After a nerve-wracking twelve days of waiting , I had my perfect moment, one of a lifetime: 

Announcing the 2013 LTYM DC Cast!  And there was my name, on the list!  I am honored and thrilled to be a part of this show.  To have my voice be heard.

I guess my friend was right, after all, write it and the readers will read.  And, of course, Dad was right..”Don’t quit, Ames.”  “Nothing will happen if you quit.”

So, here I am, a non-quitter who wrote.   Dear readers I hope to see all 10 of you on April 28, 2013, to hear my voice and all 12 voices as we give a shout out to Motherhood!  Never know, could end up being your perfect moment to.

We all Scream for Ice Cream

When Johnny was about three or four I took he and Little Brother to a high school production of a musical featuring Disney songs and characters.  All the greats were there, Mickey, Minnie, Ariel, Nemo, Simba.  I was prepared for a morning of dancing in our seats and little boys with big smiley faces.

THAT is not what happened.

I believe it ended up being my first lesson in “be prepared” for ANYTHING… all the time.   Because there was only one smiling face that morning, Little Brother.  Johnny, well, it was hard to get a good look at his face due to his screams of terror, his thrashing in his seat and his attempts to escape.  So, I chased him up and down much to the audience’s delight and tried to engage him in the show.  NOTHING DOING!  This was HELL and he wanted out, NOW!

That morning ended with me pacing the first of many lobbies to contain Johnny.  Little Brother watched the show in another Mom’s lap.  It might have been the first, but it was certainly not the last time this scenario played out.

Johnny was already in a Special Education pre-school class for “developmental delays” but this added to my ever-growing concern that there was more to the story.  Outings of any kind were a crap shoot.  You never knew which environment he would enjoy and which would cause him to scream bloody murder in a panic like state.

What was going on?  Too much!  That’s what was going on.  Too many people, too dark, too loud, too bright, too much music, too much clapping, too much surround sound.

The scary part, when put in these situations, he would just run, out the door, with no concern of knowing where he was or anyone around him.  He just wanted out.  So he would run and then find a place to hide.  If it was a “familiar” place, I would at least have a peace of mind to know his “go to” places.  But unfamiliar places were a nightmare.  One minute he was there, the next minute…gone.  One time we were at a tailgate party and finally found him hiding in a port a potty.  THAT’S  how much he hated crowds and noise. Those drinkers waiting in line looovvved him.  That’s okay, they weren’t the first or last to give me the you suck as a parent stare.

It seems only logical that knowing this about him, we would keep him away from any and all crowds.  Problem is, that’s extremely isolating and I thought would only eventually worsen the problem.  But the biggest reason is I wanted so badly for us to be able to do “normal” things as a family, altogether.   But ever so slowly I began to accept that this would not be the case.  Our reality was different.  One parent went on the “outing” and one stayed with Johnny or took him to a “safe” place for him.  Which, at the time, involved any place with a train.

As he has gotten older, with different behavior therapy and some better coping skills (for everyone) most outings have gotten easier.  He can also be convinced to “tolerate” a place with the promise of a “treat”.  For him, this involves pizza or ice cream.  He will do most anything for  ice cream with chocolate syrup.

But lately I have wondered who it is for.  Me or him?  And is it “fair” to him to push him into these anxiety fueled situations?  Is it helping?  Is he really learning to cope any better.  Or am I possibly causing him greater anxiety?  And is that anxiety almost fear, like “no way out, I have no way out.”

Don’t get me wrong, we do not, on a daily basis, put him in situations we know cause such stress and anxiety.  But at times, it is unavoidable.  And at times one of us quietly excuses ourselves and remove Johnny from the “too much” of whatever is stressing him out.

I have been thinking about this in relation to things or activities that I greatly dislike and cause some stress and anxiety.  For example, last week we were going as a family to watch Big Brother play basketball.  On the car ride The Captain was listening to a CD of  heavy metal music.  I HATE heavy metal music!  I thought I was going to come out of my skin!  When finally it was turned off I actually said, “Thank God!”  I hate that stuff.

And this is only an occasional occurrence for me.  Unlike Johnny, whose whole world seems to be stress inducing.

This caused me to reflect on the expectations we put on him.  In the interest of what?  And for what… Ice cream?  Because I got to thinking, I would not EVER take a ride in a car with blaring heavy metal music by choice.  And certainly not for the promise of a stinking ice cream.  

In the end we do it for him, I believe.  For his future, to help him learn to cope with a world that  seems to have an unfair advantage over Autism.   Maybe the world and autism could meet in the middle…maybe, someday, for Johnny’s sake, and not just for ice cream.

Cause I’m YOUR Mom…

Cause I’m YOUR Mom…

...AND I SAID SO!

…AND I SAID SO!

Monday, Monday, Monday…What have you done for me lately? Except for that familiar feeling of screws being tightened really, really tight on either side of my head, I would have to say…NOTHING! But in all fairness, I don’t know who can claim the clamp on the screws, Monday or The Brothers.   They all are excellent handymen!  Very adept with the ol’ screwdriver, that’s for sure!

Depends on the Monday and which Brother, I suppose. Since everything is supposed to be all equal and no one EVER feeling left out I BLAME ALL OF THEM!!!! Cause that’s the kind of stand up Mom I am.

The screw began to turn slightly last night when Little Brother, wouldn’t stop his Irish jig and dropped my Kindle Fire HD on the ceramic tile…not a good combo;

Big Brother took his turn on the screws with the Science Fair project that won’t go away and Oh by the way, apparently points are deducted if you do ANYTHING other than the day before. Guess he’ll have an A Plus.

We’ll have plenty of time to discuss as he burns the midnight oil studying for a test he discovered at 9:00 p.m.  Guess penalties also apply for any early test preparation.  He’s really adding up some extra credit in the last minute, fly by the seat of my pants, make my mother scream category…I think that should be added to the grade card…then my boy can be creme de la creme.  Oh and Big Brother, thanks for that, that one screw was getting a little lose, so the tighter the better, I say.

And then there’s my Johnny, what would we do without my Johnny..I might just have to say he gave those screws on final, really tight go. Because we just can’t stay away…there we were… RELIGION Class!!!

I guess Johnny got wind of today’s events at the Vatican, because he tried to jump on the Pope’s Bandwagon to announce…”I want out of this program…I don’t think it’s my thing.”

Yeah, well, I DO…cause I didn’t schlepp you and your brothers to Mass every Sunday for nothing.  And I don’t really care what the Pope’s Mommy let him do, but as for me,  I still got some sacraments coming my way. So guess, what, Johnny? The Pope… he may be getting out, but YOU?…YOU’RE NOT!!!!

Subtle Ways

My Dad has been gone for almost 7 years.  I think a great deal about him  and have moments when I wish I could call and tell him something, especially about the boys.  They were 7, 5 and 3 when he died.  The Big Brother is really the only one who has a memory of him. Funny what he remembers.  “I remember Grandpa Ron was pretty cool, he ate my peas once so I didn’t have to when you weren’t looking.”  Grandpa, the “Hero”.  What makes this funny,  is that Grandpa Ron was the kind of guy who ate anything and didn’t have what you might call, discerning taste buds.  Also, proof that being a Grandparent changes a guy, this was a man who probably started The Clean Plate Club.  I’m pretty sure me not finishing my peas would not have been an option.

I do love to hear these little tidbits.  I remember him visiting and helping Big Brother finish getting ready for school.  My Dad was not that comfortable making small talk with small children but there were certain things that broke the ice.  A big one was that Grandpa Ron attended Catholic school back in the Scary Nun with Ruler days.  So, helping with belts, tucked shirt, combed hair, shined shoes.  That was his area.

I do wish he could know The Big Brother now as a “young man.”  Because although the Big Brother is a carbon copy of The Captain.  I mean the apple hit every branch on its way down.

Case in Point

Case in Point

Mere strangers and acquaintances have stopped to remark on the “mini-me” factor.  Except the Big Brother is not so mini anymore and is just a few pizzas shy of being taller than The Captain.

That being said, as time passes, and he is becoming himself, I have begun to think he really reminds me of a man I knew once…Dad.  Not big obvious ways but in subtle ways.  For starters, like I said, it is pretty much a done deal that he will soon be the biggest person in our house.  His wrists are the size of a forearm, and well, more than one  person has informed me…”That’s a Big Boy you got there.”  I’ve noticed something in his stance, which seems so familiar.

My Dad to was  a Big Ol Boy with wrists the size of a small person.  He was a guy’s guy, biggest sports fan you would probably ever meet.  But also could Waltz,  Fox Trot and loved musical theatre.  To this day when I smell Comet, I think of him cleaning the kitchen listening to “Camelot.”

He played softball as long as I could remember.   I remember he would always hit the ball but as you could say, he was not built for speed.  Not the best player but the best TEAM player.  Come to think of it, he pretty much did everything at his own pace, just like a certain Big Brother I know.

These  little  reminders hit me out of nowhere.  The Big Brother is not always the best athlete on the team but he is almost always the best sport.  Don’t get me wrong he can hit that ball, but like Grandpa Ron, not the fastest guy around.

Like Grandpa, Big Brother is a boy’s boy, that kid can take a punch and hasn’t heard the bad “pull my finger” joke yet.  He to, likes musical theatre and when he was younger was in Les Mis and Big River.

It warms my heart to see this “Gentle Giant” type personality coming through.

Grandpa Ron & Big Brother

Grandpa Ron & Big Brother

This morning at church as the ushers were picking up the collection I was hit by a wave of memories.  For as long as I could remember my Dad was an usher at church.  He was baptized in the same church his funeral was held so he was a familiar figure.  I was sitting having these thoughts watching the usher in a “sport coat” do his job.  On the hottest of days my Dad always wore a “sport coat” to church.  This brought a smile to my face to remember him tapping me with the basket to put my money in. (It was Scout Sunday and the Scouts were helping as ushers, unbeknownst to me. )   I then turn to see an usher with that familiar stance and forearm and feel my eyes fill to see Big Brother doing usher duty.

Not a HUGE event but it was one of those days that I wish I could run home and call and say, “Guess what Big Brother did.”    Almost as much as I would have liked for him to watch him play ball, I would have loved for him to see Big Brother as an Altar Boy, as an usher and in his school uniform  I think it is these little things that  were learned from his example, being passed on,  that would be the greatest gift for him to witness.

Krispy Kreme Memories

Behind every Crazy Mom wondering how they got that way is a friend, at the ready, to remind you exactly how you got that way. 

Let me back track.  I love to write this blog.  It entertains and comforts me to have my place to say what is on my heart and mind…or not.  Today was an or not kind of day.  I woke up with a familiar anxiety which tells me I need to write.  But alas the cold front hit my brain and I was out of ideas…until I got one.

Sue to the rescue…not the first time.

I asked for readers to throw out writing prompts.  Anything they might like to know or read.  I promised fame in the blogosphere.  Being one for glamour and the spotlight, Sue chimed in.  “What about your crazy pregnancy stories, you know the one… my favorite.”  Which lead to an exchange to determine which story she was referring to because sadly…there are many.  But I had that ol gut feeling that she would let me run but not hide from my infamous morning at Krispy Kreme.  So for you, My Dear Friend, I shall tell the Chronicals of Krispy Kreme…

The year was 2003 and I was pregnant… again.  The Big Brother was 3, Johnny was 18 months old and I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant with The Little Brother.  To add to the excitement, The Captain was deployed to Iraq, the War had just started and we had no date for any homecoming.

Oh and I was trying to potty train The Big Brother.  I reeeaaalllly needed him to go to pre-school and he needed to be potty trained.  Let’s just say The Big Brother was NOT on-board.

Because all of that wasn’t enough fun I had developed some crazy reverse morning sickness.  So I spent April and May yaking around the clock and sipping purple gatorade.  I think The Little Brother still has a purple tinge to him.

You could say I was beginning to come unglued or I had just driven my train into crazy town.  I’m sure my friends will clarify.

Military life being what it is, my friends rallied around me and I carried on, purple gatorade and all.

During that time our only hope was Playgroup.  This got us out of the house.  It gave the Boys other faces to look at and me the opportunity to use sentences with more than two words.  It also gave Sue an opportunity to invite me over to her house.  I lived for those invitations.  Okay…I’ll admit I mostly invited myself.

Anywhoooo…this particular morning our Playgroup was going on a field trip…to Krispy Kreme.  The kiddos were going to get a tour and see how they make the donuts.  All very exciting stuff.

I was supposed to be there at 10 a.m.  I lived minutes away.  If only I could get in my car.    In trying to get there I had just a few problems… I couldn’t stop throwing up, The Big Brother would only pee-on the floor-after he got off the potty and Johnny didn’t walk yet and was screaming in the pack and play.  I believe I might have been shedding a few tears as well.

All I could think….I’m going to be late, I’m going to be late, we’re going to MISS EVERYTHING!  Finally, I am able to unwrap my arms from the toilet, put some dry pants on The Big Brother, calm down Johnny and we are off.

Like a Mommy on a Mission minutes later I arrive at Krispy Kreme.  Only problem, I am about 20 minutes too late.  Nerves completely frayed and sanity long gone, I enter and am greeted by Sue who asks, “Hey Ame, where ya been, ya missed everything?”  Let’s just say, I can take a lot–two toddlers, pregnant, throwing up, husband at war — but that was the perverbial straw that broke me.  My Boys MISSED the donut tour.  What kind of a Mommy takes that kind of information without emotion?  Certainly not me.

So, I did the next natural thing…I stood in the middle of Krispy Kreme, 8 months pregnant screaming and sobbing uncontrollably, “I COULDN’T GET OUT OF THE F###IN HOUSE!!!!!!!”  AND NOW MY BOYS MISSED THE TOUR, THE DONUTS, AND EVERYTHING.”  Except I was in such a state it took an interpreter (and two good friends) to understand.   Weeeelll, I think the “F” word came out pretty clear.

I then proceeded to have a good ol cry and complete melt down in the middle of Krispy Kreme.  That, Dear Reader, is how Krispy Kreme became an adjective.  A perfect, concise term that describes all those moments when I can’t take it any more and all my hinges pop at once.  They are my Krispy Kreme moments, days and weeks.  Thank to  Sue, I now have this mug for all of those times…

photo

Nothing, and I mean nothing, says crazy quite like a Big Crying, Cursing Pregnant Lady in a Krispy Kreme.  Or as Sue said, as she laughed, “trust me, someday you are going to laugh about  how crazy you look.”

Well, Sue, I guess the day has come finally come…

Cape, please…

super sub teacherCareer woman…that’s me!  I have an illustrious career as a SUBSTITUTE TEACHER.  In the Catholic School, no less, so you KNOW I am making some pretty big bank.  Making bank–makes me sound pretty cool, huh?  Except the fact that I just used the word cool, pretty much clues you into the fact that I–am NOT!  I am okay with that…really.  I gave up that ghostlong time ago.  That…and any clothing item with the word skinny included.

Why, Substitute teaching?  Weelll, I kind of like it.  You’re like a Super Hero.  Coming in and saving the day, and the school, from potential chaos and collapse when Mrs. Regular Teacher has a sudden emergency.  You get to slap on your temporary I.D., sensible shoes, practical outfit, hop into your Super Hero Mini-Van and you are off to save the day.  Oh yeah, and shape and model young minds.  That took it a little far, huh?

Actually, I have learned A LOT substitute teaching.  Like,  I can think on my feet like nobodies business.  For example, the day the music teacher left lesson plans that called for an I-Pad.  Uh, problem, not an I-Pad to be found.  Solution…talent show.  Those kids are NOT shy.  Just have to remember next time to set better ground rules.  No hand springs or jokes that begin with…”So, these 2 guys went into a bar.”  But impressive talent.  Note to self, get The Brothers piano lessons.

And those notes the teachers leave to tell me who is line leader, etc.  Totally, not necessary.   I sub a lot in first grade and kindergarten.  Those kiddos are power-hungry and control freaks.  They give me that info before we walk through the door.

Lesson number TWO… I wish I would have paid better attention in math class.  Although I can think on my feet, it stinks when I have to use it to cover up that potentially 80% of the room knows way more than I do.

Oh yeah, and if anybody wants my opinion, technology is over-rated.  The smart board, weelll, turns out that stands for you have to be really smart to use it in the first place.  I had a student try to comfort me with the fact that, “It’s okay, my Mom had to go to a 2-day class to learn to use it.”  Thanks, kid.  I say, BRING BACK THE CHALK BOARD!  Those kids LOVE jobs.  If they think line leader is where it is at, they haven’t lived until they have cleaned erasers.

Also, the chalk board never requires a new bulb or a password that I can never remember.  Plus I have to admit, I love writing on a chalkboard.

Catholic school or not, those kids are a rough crowd.  You screw up once, and they are ALL OVER YOU!!  THAT’S NOT HOW MRS. REGULAR TEACHER DOES IT!!  “Yeah, well, do you see her here?”  Actually, that is just my inside voice.

They are pretty cool to.  Like the day an entire 3rd grade class took pity as we banded together to help Mrs. Substitute Teacher figure out the smart board.  Or in kindergarten someone usually throws you a bone and declares their feelings of utter joy that you are their teacher that day with a big gluey hug.   Weelll, just as long as I don’t screw up their schedule.

Today I took my life in my own hands and ventured into a complete new substitute teacher category…Pre-School.  They may look cute enough.  But they are the toughest of the tough.  I stood with a big, pre-school teacher smile, complete with sweet, peppy voice when one-by-one, I was greeted with, “Who are YOU?”  And their voice was not so sweet.  I was banished from “center” after “center” as I tried to find my place.  I was not wanted in the “kitchen”.  For the tea party I was admonished when I tried to “enjoy” my plastic cookie.  “It’s not time to eat yet, I’ll call you when it is.”

On I go to the lego table where I am flat-out told that “no, he did NOT like what I built.  And ripped it from my hands to show me the right way to do it.  I didn’t tell him, nobody likes a know it all!

Then I move to the sensory table.  Those kiddos were mesmerized by the corn meal flowing through their fingers…they didn’t even pay me the time of day!  I had had enough rejection, I moved on.

You want to know what you DON’T KNOW, go to pre-school.  For instance, I was so excited when the felt board was pulled out.  I remember thinking those were the BEST.  I did not hesitate to jump right in with Little “Joe” for some bonding and felt snowman making.  This was my place, I’ll be welcomed here!  I thought…WRONG.  Turns out, according to “Joe”  I actually stink at making felt snowman, and mine were immediately discarded.  Just because he made a felt snowman gerbil, he thought he was all that.

I felt badly though.  Turns out this snowman gerbil was made to pay homage to his Dear Departed gerbil who had moved on to a better place.  “I’m sorry”, I said, when he shared this sad tale with me.  “That’s okay, it wasn’t YOUR fault.”  Thanks, kid.

Snack time…NOW we’re talking.  I could pass that subject any time, any day, any grade.  WRONG…so excited that I received a personal invite to sit with the girls.  I happily pull out my orange.  “That’s your snack?”, they said, noses curled.  WOW!  I want my Mommy!

The best part of Substitute Teaching in a school with a crucifix in every room.  Instant behavior modification.  Just look at the kid, point at the cross and stick out your lower lip and declare, “would HE want you to behave this way.”  So, I guess, the biggest lesson I have learned…if you can’t beat em, join em….EXTRA RECESS?…anyone?anyone?

In the meantime, I will just press my cape.

To The Left

To the Left

Semi Wordless Wednesday…A LITTLE TO THE LEFT JOHNNY, A LITTLE TO THE LEFT…

The More Things Change…

Let’s do the Time Warp Again.”  On the second Tuesday of the month, Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed hosts a party in which the game is to look through your blogging archives and chose a previous post in which you mentioned the theme, then reflect on what has changed on your journey since that time.  The theme this month is Change.

At times I truly believe that old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Except I tweak it by adding…at least a little.

I have only been at this blogging business since May, 2011.  My first published post was on May 18, 2001.  When I started blogging (at the great and not so gently urging of friends) I wanted to be funny and witty.  I fancied myself a modern-day Erma Bombeck who would entertain with humorous anecdotes.  Mostly about Johnny and The Brothers.  I had always wanted to do that.

The problem…how was I going pull that off when I was only beginning to function a mere six months after burying our Beautiful Madeline.  Initially, I didn’t even plan to discuss her death and our paralyzing grief.  I wanted people to read and I thought if people tuned into all that, well, they wouldn’t come back.  But I am learning you cannot accomplish any goal if you are going against what is in your heart and on your mind.  That path leads to nowhere.

The post I chose is the first one I wrote where I mention Madeline.  I am discussing how Johnny is helping me cope with missing her.  It is rightfully entitled, “Just Too Much”.

Going back through my archives this what not initially my choice for this Time Warp, but when I read through I changed my plan midstream.  I read “Just Too Much” and couldn’t believe I wrote it.  Yes, the Johnny anecdote is one thing.  What struck me was the somewhat nonchalant tone I took when writing about Madeline and that experience that day.  It sounds so restrained and sterile…detached.  Because, believe me, I was there, that was NOT quiet sobbing.

I think when I started this blog I was so focused on what direction I thought I was taking my writing. The path that would save me.  The path that would put a band aid on what wasn’t broken and let me escape my own nightmare.  But somewhere on this path I discovered it was leading me in the wrong direction.  And I couldn’t keep up the dueling personalities any longer.

Today I like the path my blog is taking.  Life According to John is now reflects only ONE me.  The real me.  The me that likes a good belly laugh, especially at the absurd and most especially at the everyday absurd that is the chaos of my home.  But it also is the me that still longs and aches daily for Madeline…that still chokes back tears when everything seems to be too much.  

And now when it is just too much I dump it one here and each time I write about Madeline… her life and our life without her…I know I am taking a just one more step, a very small step,  on the path to Just Right.

Bethlehem, VA? The untold story – In rear view

Made it through the Holidays.  Partly in a fog with an elephant sitting on my heart. The business of grief is a tough one.  You work long hours without a break and the Holidays just add a lot of “work” to the day.   But…with the help of amazing friends I was not committed.  More on that at another time.

Six days into the New Year and I realized that in the anxiety ridden fog about the Holidays, leading up to the fog of the Holidays, it came to me that I was not as in tune with what The Brother’s were doing.  Oh, don’t get me wrong…they weren’t quiet or anything…I was just half-awake.  Now I am AWAKE and I realize I might have missed about 100 pages of blogging adventures because they have been very busy in the last weekend writing this blog for me.  I will try to adjust my rear view and give you, Dear Reader, the highlights.

Here goes:  In no particular order…

Johnny asked me this weekend why I write a blog about him.  I told him because he was an interesting subject.  Might I add this conversation took place while he was parading around proudly in his new Batman costume.  Oh, was his response.

The following day, he asked me if I could become a surgeon.  For a moment I thought to be flattered.  WOW!!!!  Johnny thinks his mommy is that smart and YOUNG!  Never one to inflate your ego, Johnny cut to the chase.  “I want you to be a surgeon so you can operate and give me Bat Wings and a tail.”  Um, why don’t we just go MAKE you a costume.  A lot less unnecessary cutting involved.  Oh, was his response.

Speaking of New Years Resolutions…because I was going to…I was attempting to make some as Johnny’s Mom.  I fear that I have been sleeping on the job and perhaps Johnny needs a little pointing in the general direction I would like to see him go.  You guessed it…because I like to make my own kind of crazy.  I seem to enjoy being a busy body repairman.  You know, I show up to fix things that  ARE NOT broken and then plant my face in my hands cause you know what you get when you do what you’ve always done?  That’s right, what you’ve always got.

However, let’s not forget, I AM NOT A QUITTER!  So on I continue to repair Johnny.

Resolution:  We must return to religion class.  As you might recall last school year Johnny attended religion/CCD classes.  It was informative and entertaining for all.  Well…maybe not for all.  It is very difficult to teach about God and Jesus (who are not seen) to a child who only deals in what can be seen and touched (unless you are Santa Claus).  But it is important to me so we tried.  We have not made it back this school year but will be re-enrolling ASAP.  This resolution due to recent events

Friday evening, The Brothers had an Epiphany Pageant.  This meant a lot of people crowded into the church with lots of singing, trumpets, etc.  NOT Johnny’s preferred outing, EVER!!!  Where two or more are gathered, Johnny is NOT.  So, I thought it best to warn him and give him the usual lecture on  behavior AND the usual bribes.  Johnny doesn’t work for free.

Johnny – What is this thing called again?

Me – The Epiphany Pageant.

Johnny – Oh. (of course).  What’s it about?

WHAT’S IT ABOUT???  Oh Boy, Houston we have a problem (I think).  My boy does not know the Christmas story, so I gently say, “Who was born Christmas day?”

Johnny – Stares blankly.

Me – JESUS, REMEMBER?

Johnny – Oh yeah, right. (read with zero enthusiasm)

Me – (Thinking, I better get to repairing this).  That’s right, Jesus.  And do you know where he was born?  Which of course brought the response of a blank stare.  So I continue with a great sense of purpose…IN BETHLEHEM.  Remember?

Johnny – You guessed it…Oh.

Me – Because I just NEVER know when to quit…AND do you know where in Bethlehem Jesus was born. ( And that is when I knew I asked ONE too many question.)  Proudly he looks and says, “Virginia.”  At least he didn’t say, “in the batcave.”  Now it was my turn and I responded…oh.

Sadly, that wasn’t even the catalyst for my New Years resolution because Johnny and The Brothers never disappoint.

Driving to church on Sunday.  The Brothers are having a discussion about the “Holidays” of the season.  Johnny was talking about KWANZA.  Why?  I HAVE NO IDEA.  In mid-stream he switches gears and tells us Christmas is his favorite anyways.  And I learned my lesson Friday so I didn’t ask.  Although it is obvious why, even to me.

BUT The Little Brother did.  The Little Brother is oblivious to learning lessons.  Not waiting for the answer, Little Brother offers a possible reason that Christmas is the favorite.  And proposes…”Johnny is it because Christmas has the BETTER SPONSOR?  (Silence in the van…please let him say, Jesus)  SANTA CLAUS!!!  Guess him saying Jesus would’ve really been the Christmas miracle.

The Captain and I roll our eyes and open the doors to release our beasts in the church parking lot and out JUMPS JOHNNY bellowing…for NO particular reason…”and there is PARTIAL NUDITY!!”  Dear God, Please let him mean, Baby Jesus….you know, the one from Bethlehem…NOT Virginia.