Archive of ‘Uncategorized’ category

Release

So it has been a coon’s age since I wrote last. (husband likes that saying) Okay maybe not that long, but since mid December.  I thought I would be brimming with things to write about over the holiday break. The magic of Christmas morning, the quiet hope of Christmas Eve night. Evan’s day time hippotherapy session, family parties, etc.

All of those things did happen, but….I felt a little harried and tired when I did have the time to blog. So instead I chose to sit in the playroom with Evan or catch up on DVR with Todd. Or spend an hour in the kitchen cooking or baking. (more on that later-you can pick your chin off the ground now) And I am glad that is how I tried to spend the little bit of free time I did have while off from work.  But my fingers have been aching to write, and I’ve been spending a lot of time catching up on other blogs, thinking, “I really need to get back into the groove!”

Hence, here I sit while Todd is playing with Evan in the other room on his new Ipad.  Todd has been fighting a nasty chest cold for about three weeks now. Maybe longer. I asked him if he could monitor Evan on the Ipad for a little while so I could have some blogging time. Of course he complied, but I can’t kick the feeling like I shouldn’t have asked. Like I should have just gotten Evan up from his non-nap and put my alone time off for a little while longer. I often feel that way. That I should leave a gathering early to get home, because Todd is caring for Evan.  Or if I go to a workout class, I feel like I am being a little neglectful as a mother and wife because I am doing something completely for myself.

Ok.

So I know most of you are probably thinking, get off it, Erin. You know you deserve your own time- we all do. Happy Mama means a happy child, etc. etc. And I do know that. I know it like I know I shouldn’t speed while driving. I know that brussel sprouts are good for me.

I know these things but I don’t necessarily live them or believe them deep down. I love this new Jazzercise class I am taking. LOVE it. The teacher is a friend of mine that I met through an early intervention program where our sons both attended. She is spunky, energetic, and a very good instructor. I leave that class sweaty and feeling lighter in my orthopedic sneakers. I’m kind of not exaggerating with that one. The first class I took she said something like, “this is your hour, right ladies??” and I thought, you know what, yes, this is my hour. If I want to jazzercise with it, I can.  If I want to reorganize Evan’s closet, I will. If I want to read endless recipe blogs, I will.

And this is why I decided that I need to Release.

My 2014 word is “Release.”

I’ve never done a theme word before. Too hokey maybe. Resolutions only last about ten days. But I thought, I want to try. I want to give myself a focus.  So I thought on it for a few days.  What would be a good word to keep in the back of my mind as I face new experiences this year, both good and bad.  I kept coming back to the idea of letting go.  Letting go of guilt. Letting go of worry. Letting go of doubt…. of insecurities, of pain, of comparison.

Release.

Like when you take a deep breath in with your nose and fill your stomach with air and then release it slowly, for at least five seconds.

That is what I want to think about this year. Releasing. So that there will be room in my heart and mind for better things.

Like this:

Happy mower

and this:

family shot

and all of these:

20130914_174033 charlene and me gran and erin singing T AND Z1836_10200589273470204_255729630_n

I know there will be plenty more of these moments in 2014, and I plan to hold them in my heart and mind and try my darndest to RELEASE the rest. Will you join me?

 

Our Land

Our land banner

I’ve been a fan of Kristi’s blog, Finding Ninee for quite some time now.  She is side-splittingly funny.  Funny in a way that feels real, honest, and filled with heart.  She is also serious in a way that I understand. One of my favorite features  is called the Our Land series.  She features guest posts that focus on acceptance, differences, and all the struggles and triumphs in between. I am so honored to be sharing in the series today.  I decided to write about the surprises that have come along with putting Evan in school for the first time.  I spent many hours this summer worrying about how he would do, if he would be accepted, if I would be able to let go enough to allow his teachers to do their jobs…..the list goes on. I wanted to share to let other nervous and scared parents know that it can be okay. More than okay.

Check it out over at Finding Ninee today! Leave Kristi some love too!

The Itsy Bitsy Purple Spider

That’s What Christmas is All About, Charlie Brown.

I don’t often delve into religion and spirituality on this blog. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t actively avoided it.However, I am a Christian, and I have definitely mentioned that fact. I am not ashamed, embarrassed or trying to hide my beliefs.
I have shared the awesome church experiences I have had in my adulthood and how it led to my becoming a Christian.
My understanding of God and the Bible is rudimentary at best, but I know what I believe. I just struggle with feeling like what I believe is the only way. And that is fodder for another blog entry.

Anyhoo….back to Charlie Brown. So Peanut’s A Charlie Brown Christmas has been a staple in my life since I was very little.  I try to watch it yearly.  Hearing Linus say, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” is a comforting and reassuring phrase to me.

Apparently it is to my son as well.

book nook(This is not A Charlie Brown Christmas, just an picture example of how happy Evan is to read by himself)

Last year after Christmas I bought the book version that has several music and sound buttons on the side that coincide with the story.  Each one plays a different tune or lines from the story.  This book did not make the holiday boxes because I bought it in January. Instead it lives in Evan’s toy box but lately it has been living on the play room floor where Evan can access it with ease. I was in the kitchen preparing food recently when I overheard the Linus speech ringing throughout our house.  Not once, but twice, and then a third time. I entered the play room to find Evan gazing at the book and listening intently.  As soon as Linus finished the speech, he would push it again.

And again.

Evan could sit by himself and listen to that speech over and over again. He likes to lay down next to the book and listen. And this was not just a one day thing. He goes back to it day after day.  He could push the music buttons over and over, or listen to all the different ones but he is choosing not to. He wants to hear Linus over and over.

Now hearing the speech has a whole different meaning to me. But the feeling of comfort is the same.

Thank you Charles Schulz.

 

Crazy Crazersons and Get the R Word Outta Here

We shopped until HE dropped. Poor thing….get me out of Shoprite mama.     
Sorry for the blip in blogging. I can’t believe how many people check this regularly- (Thank you!!) and I feel badly when I go a few weeks without writing.  Things have been good, but just so busy. And I do not like to blog tired, because that equals sloppy writing and non-thoughtfulness. 
Yup, made that word up. 

And even right now I do not have much time to devote to blogging because the house is in need of major attention and Evan is napping so that is the best time to whirlwind around and clean.
But I will share some ideas that I plan to write about in the coming weeks-

  • more on Evan’s speech and language progress and what has worked in all his therapies
  • planning for the fall…..UGH
  • day in the life 
  • more on perspective and the  constant battle to keep a good one
  • and of course more fun pictures and videos to keep you interested 🙂

AND…………………………………

Please take a second today and take the negative use of the word “retarded” out of your vocabulary completely. And while you are at it, talk to your kids about it. Next time you hear someone using it, don’t sit by and listen. Tell them politely that it is really a slur, the same as using the f word to describe a gay person or using the n word for an African American. I know that is hard to read, it was hard for me to type. It’s just unnecessary.  This has been a thorn in my side since I was a little girl. I recognize that it was a medical term at one time, but you know exactly what I am talking about. Using it carelessly to describe a TV show or the person in their class that they do not like- that is what I am referring to.
Check out http://www.r-word.org to see what I am talking about and take the pledge to get the derogatory use of the word retarded/retard out of our everyday speech.
Thank you for listening. Please know that I am not condemning everyone who casually uses this word. I know most individuals are not aware of the impact it can have. But that is why it is so important to take the time to stop and think about it. To consider how powerful words can be.

Gratitude November 28

I am thankful for……..
November 28: liberti church

(well actually God, but liberti was sort of the gateway to that guy for me)
Good representation of liberti church goers, lots of scarfs, belts, skinny jeans, bike helmets, and then me in my fleece. 🙂

Typical view from the back of a service

So I do not mention religion or my beliefs too often on this blog. And that is not entirely on purpose or entirely by accident.  I have always been a more private person when it came to my spiritual beliefs- probably because I felt and still sometimes feel that discussing what I believe in with folks would bring conflict and judgement.  That is unfortunate in my book, because I think a lot of people would explore their belief system much more if they felt they could do it without getting the stink eye from others. Without fear, they could pray before a meal in a public place, or wear a piece of clothing that represents their religion, or walk around on Ash Wednesday with a dark smudge on their forehead.

Geoff, the pastor who married us. His sermons stir things in me I didn’t know needed stirring…
Evan’s baptism at liberti Fairmount May 2012

I used to fall into the category of believing there was “something” or “someone” out there, but not knowing exactly what or why we were all here. I would get frustrated by family members who would push the gospel on me, telling me that my gay friends were not going to Heaven, or that I had to act a certain way in order for God to look kindly on me.  As I got older, I began to realize I did believe in God, and I knew in my heart that the story of Jesus was not some conspiracy theory or plot line in the DaVinci Code. I began to face very big obstacles in my life, and also experience some amazing moments that I knew did not happen by accident.  I could go on and on about my spiritual journey (I promise not to use that word as much as they do on ABC’s Bachelor), but I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude to liberti church.  Todd and I started to attend liberti Fairmount in 2007 after we had been dating for a bit. I had never regularly attended a church. I was one of the typical go to church twice a year Catholics who was dropped off at CCD as a child while my mother and father stayed home. I never looked forward to church, never realized that “normal” people went to church. I know that sounds ridiculous, and I am fully aware of that. I had this notion that you had to be this bible banging, drinking the kool aid type of person to attend church regularly. I felt comfortable with the “I believe in God, but not in church” mantra. Then Todd and I stumbled into a liberti service one HOT summer day in Philly.  The fans were blowing, there were about 20 people who showed up to the service. A bald man with earrings and cargo shorts stood at the front of the church.  I sat in awe of his appearance, his comfort in speaking, but mostly in what he had to say. He preached that day including some pop culture references, I do not remember each one. But what I do remember, is that I listened. I listened for the entire sermon. I didn’t tune out. I didn’t start thinking about where we were going to get dinner afterwards. I engaged. I felt connected to the words, and the words included references to the bible.  And the words also mentioned the word “broken.” He put himself in that category, not just me, the one who thought the church would go up in flames when I walked in. The people sitting around us were fully engaged too. I remember getting in the car and thinking, “Church can be like that?” That pastor is like me! A real person! (again, ridiculous, I know, but true.)
And the rest is history.  We became members of liberti fairmount and became very good friends with many of its members. I became co-coordinator of the nursery, Todd joined the finance team and helped to lead a search committee to find a new pastor when The Bradfords moved to NC.

Now we are part of a church plant of liberti on our side of the bridge in Collingswood, NJ. 

liberti Collingswood is starting preview services this month, on December 9th.  We have become friends with the pastor, Jim and his wife Emily.  Again, very REAL people who have flaws, strengths, questions, and beliefs just like the rest of us.  It was so eye opening to have a church community and administration that made me feel like it was okay to hurt, okay to be angry, okay to question. And also okay to love God and believe in what he does for us each day. 
I am thankful for liberti church, the amazing friends I have made, and how it has helped me to see Christianity in a different way.

Gratitude November 27

I am thankful for……….

November 27: Music 

 
Von Trapp Time

 Whenever I answer the deserted island question- you know, the one where they ask if you could only have 3 things what would they be? (ok so I don’t really answer it that often, just bear with me) I always think that some form of music would be number one. A way to be able to hear music while stranded on a desert island seems more important to me than food or a comfortable sleeping arrangement. I think since I was a little girl, singing to myself in my crib, I have always had a special spot in my heart and mind that is fueled by music. I am the type who hears the swell of classical music and gets tears in my eyes, the type that needed “getting ready” music in college before a night out, the type that could listen to the soundtrack to the movie “Glory” over and over and still feel an emotional connection to it.  I love to sing, whether it be in my car, to Evan before bed, or on stage- singing is freeing to me. I always wanted to learn acoustic guitar and do the coffee shop circuit.
Todd went one step closer than me, and recently purchased a guitar and is teaching himself how to play.  I love watching him practice- and so does Evan. He crawls over from wherever he is and strums the strings himself and smiles from ear to ear.
Children with Williams Syndrome have been noted to have a special affinity towards music and possibly even a tendency towards being gifted in that area.  Some experts think that statement is exaggerated  and can give parents a false hope that their child will be gifted in music.
One thing I am sure of, Evan LOVES music. He loves all his toys that play music, and is a captive audience if you sing to him. I hope if anything we can share a mutual love of music.
Which I think has already been established……

Making raspberries is music, right?

Gratitude November 26

I am thankful for……………days like today, November 26.

Fun with a hat

Off……..

On!

Wheeeeeeeeee!

Hey mom, did you figure out that my hat is on backwards yet?

Little hands exploring

I wanted to capture how his whole lower body was hopping up and down while he watched Zoey run around

Evan’s favorite girl

Checking out the fire pit

True love

Who needs to walk? I can crawl like the wind!

Gratitude November 20-25

So…..a week flew by and I was without blogging access while visiting family. I apologize for the brevity of this entry, but it does not mean I am any less thankful for them. 🙂

November 20: I am thankful for….. the internet.
This is a tricky one because it also has invited in open season for my obsessiveness over health issues and finding answers for everything, but on the whole, it has been a huge blessing in so many ways. The most obvious one being that I met my husband on Match. The second being the amazing group of parents I have met through the Williams Syndrome Support page on Facebook.  The past six or so months would not have been bearable without their support. I acknowledge the double edged sword that it can be at times, but I also recognize what wonderful experiences and relationships I have gained from its use.

November 21: French Fries
So while not the healthiest food, it has been one of my favorites since I was little. I remember one year I gave them up for lent and I tried to extend it for the rest of the year. I think I made it about 10 months or something, but man, was that a difficult 10 months for me. Our little dude tried them for the first time this past week and I literally felt my heart soaring when he eagerly chomped away, and actually swallowed the yummy treats. He kept reaching for more which rarely happens with food and Evan. 🙂

November 22: Our backyard

Z and E playing

Pop Pop’s tree

Who’s cold? Not this guy.

November 23: Todd’s job
This is a tough one, because it is not necessarily where my husband feels the most fulfilled, but for right now, with only his salary, we are able to have me home with the bug for an extra year. That is priceless and I am forever grateful he is gainfully employed and brings home the bacon for us each day.

November 24: My health
While I have had my ups and downs health wise- none have been life threatening and I consider myself very lucky to have the good health I do. It enables me to work, take care of a child, a house, and to get around as I choose. I know that is not the case for many, many people and I try to recognize that as often as I can.

November 25: The health of my family and friends
I have a multitude of very important people in my life who are in good health and if they are not, they are able to get the healthcare they need to be in the best shape that they can be.  And that is a wonderful thing. 

Gratitude November 19

I am thankful for…..

November 19: Time
April 2012
Boston trip April 2012

 I never thought I would hear myself say this, but time is a wonderful thing.  When you have months ahead of a difficult experience, like grief, or a job you dislike, or a surgery you are avoiding- time can seem overwhelming. But in reality, time is the only thing that moves on no matter what. It is a constant. We have
no choice in the matter, time is going to continue and we all get older and hopefully wiser.  These first two pictures are of Evan this past spring when we were struggling to figure out why he was vomiting all the time, and why he suddenly would not eat baby food.  When he would drink his bottles, he could only keep down about 2 oz at a time. We had burp cloths and towels everywhere because you never knew when he would get sick again.I included the picture of Evan sitting on the duck from “Make Way for Ducklings” because it reminded me of how floppy he was, how much he hated holding himself up on toys, that is why I am giving him so much support in the picture

 Enter time, 6 months to be exact, and here we are in November. Evan has grown significantly, has had two hair cuts, he climbs the steps, and can get on and off the couch himself with no support from us.  He can stand independently (albeit for a very short amount of time).  He understands cause and effect and action on object very well, and loves to practice all day with his toys.  He has tried a cupcake, bites of a cheeseburger, and chicken nuggets all in the past two weeks.  He would drink 6-8 oz of his pediasure mixture if we let him. He has totally mastered the straw and he loves it. He has become so snuggly and affectionate with us in the last month, too! He used to wiggle out of our arms all the time, and now he tucks his legs and arms under almost every time I pick him up.  I can’t tell you how much I adore that time with him.  I am mentioning all these things not to brag (well I did say last entry that I would do that freely though…), but to illustrate that time was on our side to help Evan to progress so much.  It  can be frustrating at times, to realize his delays and work with him over and over on things and see no progress. But- the progress IS there, he takes in so much more than I realize.  And some things really do “just take time.” 

November 2012-Drinking 6 oz out of a straw!

Over time, he started to sleep through the night.
Over time, I stopped feeling guilty for putting Evan in the pack and play so I could brush my teeth.
Over time, I stopped thinking of my father the instant I would wake up every morning.
Over time, Evan started to eat again without vomiting.
Over time, I realized I wasn’t so bad at this stay at home mom thing.
Over time, I fell in love all over again with my husband, watching him be a father to our boy.
Over time, I learned to be comfortable talking about church, being a Christian, and how it is possible to be me, and also believe in God.
Over time, I re-learned the importance of friendships and how crucial they are to helping me feel whole as a woman and a mother.

 Time….is on our side…..yes it is. Sing it Mick.

November 2012- first bites of chicken nuggets
Snuggling, our new favorite past-time
 

Gratitude November 16, 17, and 18

Meeting Courtney’s first born, Trent

I am thankful for……

November 16, 17, and 18:    Memories.
Yes, I am sort of cheating again- combining a few days of thankfulness. But I will say that I thought this one through and I am totally okay with it. I spent a large chunk of my day today going through my stepmom’s basement trying to help her clean it out. All of the kids have stored things in this basement at some point in the last 5+ years so there is a LOT to go through.  As one would expect, this was difficult at times.  It felt like pieces of my father were all over the basement in pictures, pieces of clothing, old sports memorabilia, roller coaster articles, etc. I spent a good 30 min just looking at all his name badges from the roller coaster conventions he attended over the years- many of which I attended as well.  I felt so many different emotions while going through all the boxes. Anger that he was taken too soon, warmth and happiness as I remembered the amazing trips we took, amazement at finding his program from the original cast production of Les Miserables in London in 1985. 
After carrying out box after box and wiping away the tears, a resonating feeling of gratitude remained. I kept hearing what Todd had said to me repeatedly after my dad passed, “You wouldn’t be so sad if you did not have such a wonderful relationship with your dad” “It hurts so much because your memories are so wonderful of him and your time together.”  
That was hard for me to hear and understand in the beginning but I sure do believe it now.  
Evan, just a few weeks old

Memories serve a very important purpose.  They are here to remind us what is important, why we wake up each day and fight on through tough times. And I am not just talking good memories, I am talking rough ones as well.  Watching a documentary tonight on Hurricane Sandy was heart-wrenching.  A mother who lost her son to a fallen tree said, “It felt like God turned the other way for a minute.” And I heard myself mumble, “Yup, it can feel that way sometimes.” And it can. But I can’t accept that the bad memories are to be forgotten, because without them, how would we appreciate the good ones? Comparison is necessary in this case. In my humble opinion of course. And you might want to remind me about this (gently) when I am feeling sad or frustrated. 

Some of the performers in the summer theater program I directed-during Alice in Wonderland summer 2008

I hope to learn from the tough times, learn to love hard, hug hard, and dance hard, and feel no guilt about it. I want to unabashedly brag about my son and sing at the top of my lungs in the car no matter how many strange looks I get.
So in honor of memories, I went through about 8 years of photos saved on this computer and picked a precious few to highlight.  I love taking pictures and having photographic evidence of anything and everything. 


My Mom and I on her wedding day this past March
Noah and Evan get to hang out!

Todd and I in Maine 2007

The Osage School Volleyball Team

Engagement picture 2008
Evan and Daddy at E’s first hockey game
Family on the beach Summer 2012

Fun with teachers 2007

First annual Knoebels Trip with E 2011

Charlene and I at an Eagles bar in Florida 2004

New Year’s Eve with Talia and Barb 2003
Evan and Andrew playing Halloween 2011
My god-cuz Maureen and I at a brewfest 2007

Swimming Lessons- Aunt Caitlin and Evan having their typical greeting
The cousins minus Lisa and Angelo Summer 2012

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