Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Breaking the news.

If you read my last blog you know I discovered while typing that it may be a good idea to explain what is going on to the girls. 
So when Natalie got home from Pre-K yesterday Carter sat her on his leg and started talking.  He explained that he lost his job and that is why he is not going to work. He told her not to worry about anything but that is why he was here a lot right now. Preparing her for the fact that eventually he will go back to work and not be here like this was also a part of it. Then Natalie looked at him and said. . .

"I want to tell you something... Team Umizoomi is in my room. They are tiny super heroes."
To which I responded "Well can they help Daddy get a new job?"
Natalie says "Noooo (like that was a silly question) they only help kids.  They help with shapes and Bot has a TV in his tummy"
And CUT! That's a wrap people. It went right over her head but at least she knows!

Cara's turn, Carter talked to her alone.  I was just in the other room so I could hear.  She was quiet and listened. When he asked if she had questions or if something was bothering her she told a story about how a boy at school said that he did not love her.
Enter stage left - lesson on what "love" is (the 6 year old version).
I tried to bring it back around and ask her how she feels about Daddy not working. She gives me a HUGE smile and said "I like it, he comes and eats lunch with me at school"
And fade to black. These children are going to be MORE upset that he has to go back to work!!!

Me too frankly. It has been nice having him here. We have only had 2 "disagreements" in these 2 weeks.  This time, for me, is being used to prove to myself that we can handle this.  We don't have to give in to the anxiety and other crazy emotions that are swirling. Keep those feelings "real", don't distort them into something they are not.  That is hard but I am excited to face this challenge. 

We are watching a lot more TV, going grocery shopping together and eating dinner at 5:00 PM. I am pretty sure this is what retirement is like!

Monday, November 15, 2010

And Sometimes You Do Nothing

Last week felt like a month.  At the end of the week we had 2 or 3 promising leads in the job department.  Carter was refreshing his email and refreshing the job searches constantly.   We have accomplished a lot as a family.

Natalie struggled at the beginning of the week (last week). I walked in to her Pre-K classroom to find her not in a chair. She was sitting on the floor and refused to leave. Her sweet teachers said "Natalie would not sit in the chair. She has not really been herself today". And with good reason.  Regardless of the positive of having Daddy here more, regardless of us not fighting, she knew something was wrong. We did not talk to the girls about this. I don't know that they would really understand.  They know Daddy is not going to work. Maybe we need to explain it to them, I don't know.  There are sometimes when I think it's better not to worry them. But then again, they don't know what this means so would it worry them? I was not looking to have a revelation while typing so give me a minute on that one. 

Today was relaxed and we spent most of the morning at Target.  It kept our minds off of the fact that it was Monday and that we could get a phone call or an email.  We did not get either.  Carter's suit is ready and his resume printed for one of the calls we are waiting for. He had a positive phone interview and they asked for a face to face.
Today, I discovered that Natalie can now play games on the computer all on her own.  She needs a smaller mouse though. That thing is huge in her tiny hand.
We have so far survived a stomach virus that could have spread from Cara to all of us.  That child is amazing. She knew something was wrong on Wednesday night and kept telling us her stomach hurt. Her final plea to her Dad had him taking her to the bathroom. Nothing on the floor, straight where it is supposed to go. She is so grown up even when she is sick.  It seemed to come to a screeching halt after the one episode but that night she woke me up several times.  Thank goodness she had no school the next day. I made her stay home on Friday despite her pleas to go to school and proclaiming that she was all better.

Tonight, I am going to sleep. Praying that the sweet dreams that my Mom always wishes me when I talk to her at night will be there when I close my eyes.

Tomorrow, I will need patience and peace of mind. I need to concentrate on taking advantage of the time that we have together.  It's so hard to stay calm when you are frustrated. I know that this is just the tip of the potential frustration.  If tomorrow I have to do nothing and we hear nothing, I hope I do it well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If You Just Don't Say It . . .

Have you ever been in a rough patch with bad things all around and done your best not to say "Could it get worse?!" or "What's next?!"?  Or maybe you said it and thought "Dang I just asked for it!". Well I am here to tell you that NOT saying it DOES NOT WORK!!!!!!!!!!

After Dad's accident I never said that. We were hit from all sides almost everyday with new problems. We did not have time to say it.  Mom found a great rehab place for him to go after Shock Trauma released him, 2 days after he was admitted there they called her and said "He is being released tomorrow". Ummm WHAT?  Speechless. At that time he was impulsive (nice word for unprovoked anger and inappropriate reactions) and hallucinating.  There was no way any of us could bring him home. For goodness sake they had him in a locked belt to keep him tied to the bed or wheelchair he was in. He could not go home by himself.  Not one bit of communication happened between us and the staff there.  This was the first time we had contact with his social worker.  The blow by blow is agonizingly long (even though it was only 2 weeks on the calendar) so I won't do it all. 

Honestly that is not even what this blog is about. 

We hit walls everywhere we turned. As I mentioned in my previous blog, when we reached out in desperation we were overwhelmed with people helping us problem solve and find solutions.  Phone conversations between my mom, my sisters and me were filled with a lot of exhaling, sighing and pauses when we just could not breathe.  
Here is a mini lesson in this blog - don't be an ass (pardon my language) all of your life.  You will need those people that you hurt the most. Be grateful, love correctly, give and it will be returned. If you are toxic - your family may just put you in a red hazmat bag an leave you on the corner.  Good lord that would have been easier but that is not what the good Lord wants from us.

Let's go back and remember - We did not say "What else could go wrong?".  It hit anyway.  Superstitions about God and life do not work. So say it or don't say it - it has no bearing.

Dad's full recovery was obvious last week as the evaluations for PT, OT and ST resulted in an "all clear".  He backed out of having 24 hour care and just has day time help.  I'm sure he will be able to stop it all together soon.

On Friday everything was normal. Carter had spent a late night at work Thursday. I dropped the girls off at school and headed home to clean the kitchen floor (yes Nana was coming. hahaa). On my way back to the house, Carter calls me and tells me he is coming home. His job was letting him go, and I don't mean just for the day.

For the sake of anonymity we will call his now former place of work "Paper Clips".  That is just in case I say something bad in the next few paragraphs. I would not want to obviously trash a place.

Immediately I called my mom. That pillar of strength named Sandra has been rescuing everyone in the family for quite a few years solid. I mean no breaks, no rest for the weary.  Not that she does not also have her own issues that need rescuing!  She needed to know what she was driving into but God knew when she planned to have a "Nana sleepover" earlier in the week, that we needed her.

I thought we had time to consider what we were doing. They gave him a choice between adhering to a 30-day Performance Plan or resigning and receiving a severance package.  After a lot of sifting through conversation, when I sent him back for a 2 o'clock meeting, it was clear that there was nothing left there for him.  No tears over that. Paper Clips had made promises and just a few months into employment it was clear that one set of people there wanted him, but the ones charged with using him did not.  That was the theme of the last year "Carter is under-utilized".  Carter clearly asked them at the meeting, if he met all of the criteria laid out in the plan, what would they do with him after. Clear answer "We don't know."  Take the resignation. At least that gives us more time than sticking around a place where you honestly don't have a job.

So far, each day has been different.  There is a focus on doing what is right now. A focus on everything - being open to all opportunities.  I don't like being in limbo but there is this strange peace that I have. It leaves me at times but not for long.  Carter is one of the most motivated people I know. He will not sit and let this hold him down. Again, he reached out and has gotten several phone calls and emails that bring back his confidence and his drive. We shall overcome!  God has prepared me for not being in control. I am ready to stay still and listen.  I may panic but that is not the overall theme of this journey.  At times I can joke (Just like during the thick of things with Dad. My humor returned.) and at times I can smile.  But all it takes to make me cry is a stranger smiling at me - for no reason. They may not know the reason but I do.

God is everywhere if you pay attention.  He was at Chick Fil A this morning reminding me that I have taken my time of silence on this and now it is time to share.  That man smiled at me and showed me that even though I have no idea what expression is on my face right now, there was a smile out there.  Take the chance when you feel led to do something like that.

I am sharing with the possibility of seeming weak, but I want everyone to see God working here.  We all have a testimony. What good does it do sharing our top of we can't share the bottom? You can look at me and know that if it ever happens to you - it is going to be just fine. I have to believe that there is something greater than me going through a sucky time happening here. I am human, I can't promise that I will always feel positive or hopeful.  I will however, still be standing.

My new mantra is "Open Doors, Close Doors". Every time I start to think too much I say it. In my head of course. I don't want to look like a complete nut walking around talking to myself. HA!

To close - I am calling on my prayer warriors again.  I need your support and for you to take my cares to God with me. You are being recruited because of the enormously great job you did with my Dad.  Please know that I will always do the same for you. I am not a good "receiver", I am much better at giving.  God is teaching me to lean, so here we go.... again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lean, Reach and Stretch But Don't "Jump".

Those of you that know me well, know that talking is not something that is hard for me. In fact being quiet is a physically draining struggle.  (Quit nodding your head now) God has been throwing a lot of lessons my way and here is one that sheds light on a way that I am quiet and I don't need to be.

My Dad's horrific car accident happened on October 16, 2010. As Cara was opening the presents at her 6th birthday party I got a hot tip from a friend there that something was amiss.
She was reading body language and actions. Noticing that a cell phone call that my mom answered sent my sisters actions shifting toward a quiet distraction.  Angie was whispering to Kevin and Ginger walked back in with her hair pulled back.  So I asked, thinking maybe that Dad had called mom and was being weird.  To hear "Dad was in a car accident and is in Shock Trauma"... not what I was expecting at all.  From that moment it was all a blur.  I tried to keep up with the party, getting everyone their parting gifts and saying goodbye.  I texted Carter (Isn't technology great? You don't even have to say it out loud for anyone to hear!) and then 2 other friends at the party who knew that something was wrong. On the ride home we ended up with Samuel, my friend Kelly had Cara's presents and Ginger had my jacket.  It all got done because all of the pieces were working - not on all cylinders as individuals - but as one machine that could still operate despite minor flaws in the parts.

My Mom, Sisters and I have always been able to do this. And do it quietly.  One of the parts may be taken out but the other 3 keep it going so that the 4th can just jump right back in like nothing happened.

Growing up, we were never loud about what was going on.  We made it all look like it was working. There were only a few glaring flaws that were visible - but only to the eye that was watching closely. Watching closely and questioning.  This is where we may have gone wrong but we are making it right.

No one wants to look like a fool, or weak or a failure.  Well some people do but I don't understand them.

After my Dad's accident we went straight to our means of pleading for prayer - Facebook and church.  When I ask for prayer on Facebook it is not merely a means of spreading news under the disguise of asking for prayer.  I REALLY WANT IT!    When I reply to someone and say I am praying for them I MEAN IT!  I challenge you to do the same. Don't type "Praying for you" and then not do it. I have been guilty of that in the past but that is more than over!

As a family we prayed for a miracle, prayed for the craziness that Dad creates to be over, prayed for his healing in every aspect. You would think that severe of a head injury would knock some sense into someone or knock all sense completely out.  We got neither (well so far, I still have faith that it is possible that there will come a day when he is healed of his mental building blocks).  What we did get was a miraculous recovery for Dad that has him exactly back to where he was before the accident. Amazing. It has not even been a month yet. If you know anything about Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), this is nuts. I have friends with experiences that prepared me for a long haul. Long haul of back and forth, progress and regress, relearning the basics. Yeah I got NONE of that! I almost feel robbed, but not really of course.  What takes months/years my Dad did in 3 weeks.  I am so thankful to God for that but mad at the unfairness of this life.

What I witnessed during that time was my miracle. I watched as people came out of the woodwork. People that are always at the surface of my life went into action.  They stepped out and screamed their support.  That support came in so many ways but the main ingredient was someone stepping out of their own life and reaching into mine to make a difference.  Whether they had experience with TBI or had no idea but were open to listening, it all worked. 
Anyone that says that Facebook is of the devil is obviously not using it correctly!!!!!!!!

I cannot even name all of the people that have helped my family in the last few weeks.  Frankly I may not even know some of them at all.  Each time we reached out we were overwhelmed with information and support. Countless responses from people who knew about this type of injury, what we were facing and where to go for services.  You have to ask for help. There are people out there that have something to say!  Don't be afraid that no one else has been through it and you will be alone. Life will easily show you where to put those that are not helpful.  The only way to guarantee that you will be alone is to try and handle it by yourself.  I learned this a little bit when I went through a miscarriage.  No one in my immediate family had been through one.  We were all at a loss. Once I opened up I found several shoulders to cry on that knew my pain first hand.  Even now when I mention it I discover that people I have known for a while have been through it. It's like Breast Cancer, same thing. As soon as you mention that you will definitely understand that you are not alone. Everyone knows someone that has been through it or going through it. Not many people are going to lead into their conversation with those topics so when you need help, YOU have to say it first.

Life is hard but it does not have to be THAT hard.  Lean, reach, or stretch. There is no need to "jump" but if you need to fall or sit for a minute, someone will be there.  Do the same for others. Take time to observe and listen and pray. If you have something to offer, big or small, do it. Don't be afraid.  It could save someone.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Books We Read This Summer (for your Winter enjoyment).

This summer I went crazy with suggestions from seasoned Moms who know this area well.  We did Open Gym, Pump It Up pop in play, free movies, Chick Fil A. These ladies know how to stay busy and have fun during the summer.  They wore me out and I had to wake up early a lot! It was definitely worth it.

My favorite had to be the Library. Something about taking your kids there makes you feel like the best mom in the WORLD!  I know I sounded smart when I told people that we had been there! (OK that is a little overboard)  I have always read to the girls but was not a big reader for myself. I just don't make time for it.

This is a list of books that we checked out this summer. I always like suggestions from other parents because it is hard to just go in and randomly check out books and have them be a hit. I only hit a few duds. Hopefully this helps guide you and can be used as suggestions for Holiday gifts!

My girls were 3 and 5 when I checked these out. Then they turned 4 and 6 so I would say these are suggestions for 
Ages 3-6:
Green - You MUST get this book 
Yellow - I Definitely Recommend
Orange - I Recommend 
Blue - It was OK

Sweet Books:

Max Lucado
The story of Eli (God) and his Wemmicks (us). Punchinello discovers that Eli does not make mistakes. He was made special to just be him. It deals with how others judge us and how we have the choice to let their words stick or to let them go. YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!

Max Lucado
Wemmicks again, this time they are trying to out do each other by having the most and the best. YOU MUST READ THIS TOO!

B. G. Hennessy
 Sweet story about a girl that finds out that "happily ever after" is different for everyone.
Holly Keller
Cara wanted a book about a butterfly and the librarian picked this one. It is sweet and talks about the changes as this duck and caterpillar grow up
Anne Mazer
I liked the illustrations in this book. It was also a pretty soothing before bedtime book (if you read it that way).
Susanna Davidson
 HUGE book about ballet. We did not finish it. It is beautful and perfect for any little girl that is in dance or ballet.  I think they have a smaller version of it now.

Margaret Wild
Nice book about a piglet that accidentally hurts his Dad and goes on a search to find if he is still loved.

Anita Jeram
I think this is by the same lady that does the "Guess How Much I Love You" book. There is another one we checked out recently from her titled "All Together Now". These were Natalie's favorites. Perfect length for reading a few books at bedtime.

Robert Kraus
 Haha I thought this would be good for Natalie but being smaller than everyone else does not really seem to bother her. It never bothered me either. Well except when I am in Walmart and I can't reach something.  It's a cute book, especially if you have a kid that struggles with being behind in anything.

Funny or Cute:
Margie Palatini
My sister Angie told me I had to check this book out. It is one of my favorite books to read.  At first the kids did not share my passion for it but after I read it the 2nd time they loved it.  It is longer and more wordy than some books I have read but this one cracks me up!

Mary Jane Auch
This was a little on the longer and wordy side too. But the illustrations are HILARIOUS!  The story is very cute too. We all liked it.

Mary Quattlebaum
Ehh it was wordy and long but not in a good way. It was not my favorite.  The story did not flow for me. Maybe I should have used my Jersey accent with it....

Mo Willems
All of these Pigeon stories are great. They are low on words but high on humor and interaction.

Robert Weinstock
I like this book about a run away meatball but the girls did not quite share my feelings. It was good but not a fav here.

David Shannon
LOVE LOVE LOVE the illustrations. This book reads just like the character, a little girl.  It incorporates fairies and pretend play and my girls loved it.

Sheena Knowles
Great rhyming book. The moral of the story is that it is best to be yourself but it is a good story that the girls asked for several times while we had it.

For Learnin':
Lori Coleman
This was over my girls heads. They were too young for the specifics of soccer. I thought it was good to show them that girls do play. I will probably try it again this spring when Cara starts soccer again.

Belinda Weber
Most reference book I went for had so many big words - I could barely read them, let alone translate for the girls. They were also loooong. This book was just right. It had big words in it but they were defined at the bottom of the page.  We read a few pages each night and made it through the book in about 3 bedtimes. You could read it all at once. We did that so we could get through 3 books before bedtime without falling asleep.

Jim Arnosky
 This was a good reference book for this age range also. They loved learning about different kinds of frogs. Cara was repeating facts from this book for weeks after reading it. The pictures are great too.

Elaine Greenstein
 Cara LOVES Ice cream. I am pretty sure this is the same author as "Caps For Sale".  It goes on to tell a historical tale of the ice cream come.  We really liked it and it gave me a refresher course on pronouncing names from other countries!

Very good book. In the back it gives you a short biography of Pele.  It is a good book to get kids excited about soccer. 

DK Publishing
 This was a decent reference book. Some of it was a little over their heads. The only reason I did not give it a yellow rating is because I don't remember it that well. It must not have been a hit. Natalie was in a rabbit phase and she did like it.