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About the Author

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Plainville, CT, United States
Having achieved my goal of becoming a published author, I contribute it to the fact that I have been writing since the age of 9. My boys were the inspiration for my children's stories and my life is the inspiration for my autobiography. I have a tendency to write about whatever I feel, relevant, interesting or not. I welcome any comments you may have, positive or constructive. Thank you so much for visiting and following my blog, My life.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

On the uphill climb......sort of.......

Wow.  Looking at my blog I'm a little taken aback that it has been so long since my last entry.  Life has a way of doing that sometimes though. Come to think of it, I think life has something against me because it seemingly finds humor in keeping me down and then kicking the shit out of me.

I'm pretty much used to it by now.  I used to ask myself "when is something good going to happen for me?"  Now, it's more along the lines of "How much time do I have before the next round?"

From childhood "trauma", to abusive spouses, brain tumors and raising grand kids, one can gain a lot of experience.  It may not be the best experience, but it is life experience, good or bad.  In my case, its pretty much been bad. BUT, it is a learning experience none-the-less.

Being unemployed when I never thought I would be has really left an impact.  I got to a point of depression that I never thought I would reach.  Did I let it effect my daily life? No.  I pretty  much kept everything inside, but unfortunately it was visible in comments, posts, etc to friends.  They knew something was wrong, especially my sister. Shoot, she even told me to get on meds lol.  Gotta love her.
And then there is good old Face Book.  What would I do without my network of friends?  It seems as though they are the ones I turn to when things go wrong, rather than those that are physically here with me.  Sometimes it's those friends that listen the best.

So now I am at a point in my life where while still depressed, not at the level I had been at.  I found a job making significantly less than I had been making, but I saw the potential.  There is room for advancement.  Not a lot, but if I can come close to making what I was, I will be happy.  Now we just have to lower our "means" a bit.  When you are used to living a certain life style and now you are no longer able to, that in itself is a learning process.  I was actually contemplating cashing in my 401k to pay off my bills so that we can "start over" again.  Oh it isn't alot.  I didn't start my 401k right away.  It took a few years, so I had only been putting into it for about 8 of the 12 years I was working.  Anyhow, as long as I don't kill my husband, there is his pension to fall back on when we retire if needed.  Lord knows we will - at the rate the government is going, social security will be out of money by the time we retire.

Once again I manage to ramble on in my blog instead of getting to the point.  Now if i can only remember what the point of this post was to begin with.  Oh yes. The job. Re-entering the status of "employed" with an entry level job......I guess I should be happy that it is a job.  I would have liked to stay on unemployment, but I have never been much of a risk taker.  Here was this job right in town, gas savings right off the bat, room for advancement, small friendly atmosphere.  Would something like that come along again?  What if I passed it up to stay on unemployment with the mindset that "another job like that will come along".  Knowing the kind of curve balls that life has been throwing at me, I would end up with even a lower paying job when my unemployment ran out.  I wasn't willing to take that risk.

So here I am, sitting at my computer writing a blog entry.  I should be finishing up what I have to do around the house and haven't had a chance to because I had a job.  Starting on Monday - that's the same routine I am going to fall into and won't get anything done.  But my life will be back to normal.  Well, sort of.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Catching the curve ball


Its a bittersweet moment when you realize that you no longer have a job to go to every morning.  That same routine that you repeated over, and over, and over again for 12 years suddenly disappears.  There is that part of you that sighs a breath of relief that your day wont be so hectic any more, but then there is that other part of you that shouts OMG! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO????
Now its number crunching time (yay for me the math major).  First we bundle the cable phone and internet and save ourselves 75.00 a month.  Then, we loose the data on one of the cell phones.  Mine.  I'm usually on the computer anyway and it can still pick up the internet if i am connected to a wifi.  Another 30 bucks a month.  Now to Verizon.  The mobile broadband we use when we travel to the outer edges of civilization in Northern Vermont and Maine.  Suspend that for 6 months and save another 67.00 a month.
Now on to unemployment....Have you ever dealt with unemployment before?  You may as well wrap a rubber band around your head and attach the phone to your ear because you are going to be on the phone for a long time. That is IF you can even get anywhere.  Now its all about what number your social ends with.  Oh sure you can file the claim on line, but if you don't have all the information and want to go back, you have to wait until the day that corresponds with the last digit of your social.  I mean, really????
Oh well, who am I to judge the way the great state of Connecticut handles their affairs.  I just live here.
Then you realize that there are things you wanted to do this year that you probably won't be able to do now.  You need to pinch every single penny.  No money can be spent making your dreams come true.  Once again, they go on the back burner.  You are in survival mode now because you used to be the big bread winner.  Now you are low man on the financial totem pole but you still have a family to provide for and bills to pay. So now the hunt is on for a job.  Tweek that 12 year old resume, get on CT Jobs and see whats out there. Try to squeeze into those business suits you used to wear and find something that fits in hopes someone will call you in for an interview. Then, just wait. clean your house, hunt for more jobs, cry a little, throw things, bury your face in a pillow and cry some more.  Then, get up, and try to figure out what you are going to do with yourself for the rest of the day.
Yeah, people say it will all work out in the end, something will come up, but thats easy for them to say.  THEY have a job......... I'm "old".  What employer is going to pick me over a sassy lil thang that just got out of college and now has letters after her name. I mean what IS it about those letters? I can run CIRCLES around these little sassy britches who think they know how to sit behind a desk just because they have a piece of paper.  I was sitting behind a desk and busting my hump when they were still playing with barbie dolls.
Oh well, I guess life has a way of throwing you curve balls.  Guess all that matters now is if you are going to try to catch it and move on, or stay where you are and get knocked on your ass. Personally - i played varsity softball....and i still have my glove.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Road to Sunshine



The Road to Sunshine
By MJ Williams

           
I have never thought of myself as old, and I still don’t.  I can certainly put my body through the wringer every now and then, as my mind tells me I am one age and my body asks what the heck do I think I’m doing!

I yearn at times to be “young” again, and I am speaking of chronological age, as well as physical body and ability.  To be able to run and play endlessly, eat anything I want and not gain weight, stay up late, sleep late, or if I choose, be up before the sun.  Not a care in the world.  The innocence of youth……..yes, I do yearn for it.  Then I ask myself, do I REALLY want to be a child again?  Sometimes I can fool myself into saying yes, but I know that if given the chance, I wouldn’t change a thing.

During my childhood,  I have certainly had my fair share of mishaps, bad luck, and heartbreaks.  Losing a beloved pet.  Breaking three fingers on my right hand horsing around with my little sister. (even though we weren’t supposed to be in the house), my first crush on a boy, only to find out that he liked my older sister.  Getting into the teen years and adulthood were even more interesting.  Splitting my knee open diving into home plate during a high school softball game.  Getting my first car, and losing it a day later because my stepfather wanted to drive it instead.  Moving in with my aunt and uncle at the age of 16, my grandmother at the age of 17, my friends from church at the age of 18 and 6 months later moving in with my fiancé.  Married at the age of 19, one son at the age of 20 and another son at the age of 22.  Thinking about it all, I never really had a chance to experience life.

Would I change anything?  No,  not at all.  I have two wonderful boys, and now I have a wonderful husband. (my second marriage).  I snowmobile; we take our dog Sadie out on the boat with us.  We go camping. Our lives are just so full!  Is our marriage perfect?  Of course not.  We say things in anger that we regret afterwards.  We both came from previous relationships that scarred us, so there is always that residue that is tainting our completeness. Neither one of us wants to get hurt again. But we love each other.  That’s what keeps us going, moves us past those painful memories, and helps us to focus on the future.  We have had our share of heartaches, losing three beloved pets all within a year, making us feel like all the sunshine had gone out of our lives, and filled us with only rain.

I can look at all the rain in my life and focus on that, or build on bringing back the sunshine. It is a tough road to travel.  Just when I am able to take 2 steps forward, something happens that makes me have to take 4 steps back.  Frustrating?  You bet.  Sometimes I wonder what on earth is the reason for my “bad luck”.  Then I focus on my “Sunshine”.  What exactly is my Sunshine?  My husband Bill.  My younger son Erik who is autistic.  My oldest son Michael, and the fact that I am going to be a grandmother for the first time.  Michael, is in the Navy and he and his wife Jennifer are expecting their first child in October.  October 2nd to be exact.  At first I go back to the earlier part of this story and think about how “old” I am, or how “old” being a grandmother is going to make me feel, and then I think about how much Sunshine this little child will bring to my life.  Being a part of his life, (yes, it’s a boy!)  watching him grow up, seeing the joy that he will bring to my son and daughter-in-law, thinking about all the ways I can spoil him and then send him home.  Hold him in my arms and know that this is MY grandson, and he will just capture my heart.  Knowing and feeling all this, makes it possible for me to leave all the rain behind and find my way along the road to sunshine.

  
©2008 MJ Williams    

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Society vs. ASD - Ignorance at its Best - Part II

So now the battle begins.  At this point, Erik was in 9th grade.  TEN years after the normal age of diagnosis for Aspergers.  I had a lot on my plate to deal with and had to prove people wrong that were supposed to be knowledgeable.  People that were supposed to provide for my special needs son when he stepped through the school doors, but were in fact trying desperately to prove that they didn't have any obligation to provide for him.  With so many years of being told by school officials that Erik was too "normal" for Aspergers, now I had the documented proof that they were wrong.  I was not well liked to begin with because I fought for my child, made them listen to me and I didn't take no for an answer.  I called IEP meetings out of the blue if I felt that Erik was being treated unfairly, that his needs were not being met, if his academics were poor (i.e. grades) amongst others. I had to be Erik's best advocate because no one else was going to be. I knew that the next thing I had to do was going to be difficult.

I gathered up what information I could, wrote up a summary of a plan that I wanted to see put in place for Erik and called an IEP meeting.  As I thought I would be, I was met with resistance, reasoning was demanded of me, but I finally got a date without having to go into too much detail.  The element of surprise was going to be my ally, but I needed some help to pull it off.

Now you need to know something about me.  I don't get upset easily, but when I do, I get very, very upset.  When I say upset, I mean angry.  I cry when I am angry.  I don't know why, I always have.  I also get extremely hot headed.  I knew that this could be my downfall so I wanted to be sure that I had someone there with me that could keep my emotions in check. I was basically alone in this as I was divorced and Erik's father was useless when it came to this kind of stuff.  I recently remarried but with Bill not being Erik's father, I didn't want to burden him with this. My family was all out of state so bringing one of them was just not an option so I did what I THOUGHT was the next best thing.  I brought a "professional" advocate with me. Oh I sat on my computer and googled advocates for hours.  I finally found one that was well known, had many years of experience and specialized in advocating for children with disabilities. Not knowing that there was FREE service available to me that provided advocates, I ended up paying this woman 100.00 an hour for her services.

Jean was well known within the Plainville school district and I was about to find that out.  When we entered the conference room at the high school, jaws dropped and Jean very calmly said hello to each member of the team, calling them all by name. Nice. I had a feeling that this wasn't going to go as bad as I thought it was. I was questioned by the Special Education director as to why I felt it was necessary to bring an advocate with me as she explained that they were doing everything they could to work with me and make sure that Erik received proper services.  With a simple "now is not the time, your question will be answered shortly", we began the meeting.  After several "I don't know why you called this meeting, we are helping Erik's needs get met, we are following his plan, in addition to other statements, I presented them with "I called this meeting because I have taken it upon myself to bring Erik to an outside Psychiatrist to have him evaluated.  As you are all aware, I have mentioned several times over the years that he be evaluated and tested for Autism.  Because he was normal as far as you were concerned, you dismissed my request stating that I didn't have all the facts.  Well now I do.  Erik was formally diagnosed with Autism.  Aspergers Disorder specifically, as well as PDD-NOS.(Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified) Now a new plan will be put into place for him that will include services appropriate for Aspergers."  Talk about jaws dropping.  I felt very proud at that point.  I knew that (for lack of a better phrase) I had them by the balls now.  Game on, ball in my court.

At first not much was said.  Oh we went round and round about what services I "felt" he needed, what the district felt they were and were not responsible for providing (i.e. pretty much everything that was not academically related from their stand point) and what I wanted out of this. I was fully prepared with an outline of a program with him, services that need to be provided to my son that the district is responsible for providing (per CT State law) and how I would like them implemented.  I got a firm "we aren't going to do this".  My reply to that was "And now the answer to your question Ms. Schiffer.  THIS is why I felt it necessary to bring an advocate."  I'm not going to go into full detail about the meeting. All I am going to say in summary is that Jean took over at that point, we made some concessions and modifications to the outlined plan that I provided and in the end, it was implemented into this IEP.  Going into further detail about the meeting really isn't necessary to get my point across.  I just wanted to add enough detail to show you that even though you are fully prepared and know specifically that State law governs what services the district has to provide, you are still going to get resistance from those in upper management/positions because now they know that they have to spend money.  It isn't about the kids any more.  It's not about what is best for them, it is clearly what is best for the budget.

These types of IEP meetings went on for the next three years with Erik. Some services were provided, others were not.  We went back and forth with his program, omitting one, adding another. With the late diagnosis, we really had a hard time finding a plan that would work as quickly as we needed it to.  The district was grasping at straws, trying to comply as they were legally obligated to, but also trying to spend as little money as possible.  I don't think that the team ever fully understood Aspergers.  I printed out as much material as I could to help them, but I think they saw it in a negative way.  AI's have a primary area of focus that they excel in.  Erik's is computers and electronics.  He loves to write (just like his mom!) so instead of using this as encouragement, if he did something that got him an in school suspension or detention, they took away his computer privileges for months at a time thinking that they would get through to him that way.  Despite my urging and prompting to use the computer as a reward, implementing the computer into his academics (i.e. writing assignments to be done on the computer, a PDA to be used for his schedule and homework assignments etc. I was given an explanation that a PDA is not allowed because it is an electronic device.  Personal devices are not allowed in school. Under the CT Special Education Laws, If an electronic device is necessary due to a disability, it is allowed in school.   Why is it that I know this, but school officials, that are heads of the Special Education Department do not?  It was beginning to become clear to me.  Despite the claim of knowledge of Autism, the claim of being "certified" to work with children that were on the spectrum, I realized that I was clearly dealing with ignorant people and it didn't seem as though it was going to change any time soon.




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Society vs. ASD-Ignorance at its Best-Part I

Autism. That word can send shivers down the spine of steel.  But what is it really?  You know, with all the research and development, theories and probabilities, I don't think anyone really knows. Sure they can all speculate but do they really know what Autism is?  
Now excuse me if I am not politically correct on a lot of terms, I am not an expert.  I am just a mom. And my son has Autism.
The general consensus on Autism is that the child or individual cannot function in society, can not speak, is disruptive and cannot process the simplest of things. This strikes fear in  many people. All that they see is someone that is different.  They do not see the extraordinary person that is inside. They do not know that loving individual who does not have the capacity to hate.  They do not know that generally intelligent individual who, if for lack of a better term, has a brain that has a short circuit somewhere and is in need of a software upgrade.  An upgrade that has yet to be written.  
Many people do not realize that autistic individuals are intelligent.  Those individuals that appear to "not be able to process anything" are in fact processing everything.  They lack the ability to separate and block out that which is not important or significant at the moment. Put yourself in their shoes.  You are at work in a busy office. You hear all the phones that are ringing, you hear each individual having a conversation on their phone, you hear the clicking of pens, the sipping of coffee, the voices of co-workers walking by, staplers stapling, etc. all simultaneously. YOU CANT MAKE IT STOP!  You cant sort everything out and you can't find your voice in all that jumble.  All you can do is blurt out a word or two, a noise here and there to express yourself.  You want to tell someone that you love them but all you can manage is a verbal blurb. Its not an easy life for AI's (Autistic Individuals),  But because we don't understand them, we shun them because they seem "different".
That's the extreme level on the Autism Spectrum.
Over the years there have been many diagnosis of different levels of functioning with Autism.  So now the diagnosis is not "Autism" but "Autism Spectrum Disorder" or ASD.  Different levels of functioning.  We go from low functioning, such as an extreme case of Autism to the high functioning Aspergers Syndrome/Disorder.  These AI's, seem normal in all aspects of their functioning.  They just get labeled as lazy, sloppy, stinky, dumb, weird and dopey. Enter Erik.  My son.
Most children are diagnosed with Autism when they are young.  Around 4 or 5 years of age.  Instead, Erik was diagnosed as psychotic, delusional, bipolar, and oh yes. Lets not forget the universal "we really don't know what is wrong" diagnosis.....ADD.  Keep in mind that Autism was not amongst the realm of possibilities because Erik was a normal kid.  He wasn't stupid. He had a high IQ. He had an extensive vocabulary.  He didn't have outbursts for what seemed like no apparent reason.  He could function.  So we just go with whatever we can find that might fit the symptoms at the time.  
To make a long story short, Erik did not receive the correct services when he was going through school.  I brought up Aspergers time and time again but the district stood their ground. He didn't have autism.  He was normal.  
Finally, after gathering enough information, I took him to a private psychiatrist.  He interviewed Erik and myself individually, then together.  I took a test, filled in some bubbles.  He gave Erik some tests.  Guess what the diagnosis was?  Aspergers Syndrome/Disorder. Along with PDD.  FINALLY the diagnosis that would help my son. But did it come too late? 
For Erik, implementing services when he was in high school was going to be tricky.  I knew I had a lengthy battle on my hands and I also knew that I wasn't going to be able to fight this battle on my own.........

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Leap of Faith

I have always been very personal when it comes to my writing.  I am careful who i let read my work and would never let any one in on any ideas that i may have for my next story.  Fast forward twenty or so years.
I still write and i am still a very private person when it comes to my material.  Could it be from the let downs, the put downs, the criticism and constantly being told that writing is stupid, i was never going to amount to anything and if i thought i was i was foolish? Could be.  Whatever the reason, i generally keep what i write to myself.
Recently, with the encouragement of a dear friend, i started sharing some of that material.  Reluctantly, i would post a little bit, talk about it and even pick up an old story to finish.  Wait, no negative comments?  This could be a good thing after all.
I take another step and create an author page on Facebook.  I'll keep this page for my material.  I go through the time line, start at the beginning of my "writing" and just go from there.  I post the very first poem i have ever written, the beginning of me as an author/writer.
Well that didn't turn out very well.  While i posted it on my wall and in MasterKoda, it didn't get as much traffic as i hoped even though i tried to solicit it amongst my on line friends and groups. Maybe i should have kept it to myself.....?
i wrote a piece of non-fiction a few years ago, but never really did anything with it.  That's what usually happens with everything i write.  It gets put away and doesn't surface again until i am digging through a drawer, going through old files on my computer, etc.  Well, remember that dear friend i spoke of earlier?  She told me about a book that was being put together for a child with cancer.  There were several authors, writers, artist, etc that were contributing material for this book.  What could it hurt?  She would even edit it for me......OK, so we'll give it a shot......
It didn't take long before she was done editing my story.  It was short but most of the editing was in my tenses.  I "sucked" as she so bluntly put it lol.  Good thing she is a dear friend or I may have gotten a bit pissed off.
Story edited, sent off to Inknbeans Press.  Now we wait.  I didn't know if this was a project for which every piece of submitted material was accepted, or if they actually sorted through everything and only picked what they felt was suited for the book.  I was very pleased to find out that they were accepting what was submitted.  Perhaps this is the beginning of something good for me for once.  It would definitely be something worth waiting for after all the bullshit I have gone through with my writing. Bullshit?  That's what I call it.   See the beginning of the blog - that's the general description of constantly being told that I didn't know how to write, etc.  you know, bullshit.
So we waited. And waited and waited and waited.  FINALLY the book was ready....I was very quick to order but would have to wait two weeks to get it as I couldn't afford expedited shipping.  The anticipation and excitement were overwhelming.  I shared with everyone and it felt good that they shared in my excitement.  Well everyone except the one person that I wanted to share in my excitement the most........
Not getting the congratulatory response I was expecting, my whole idea that I could finally become something quickly faded and I retreated back into my little private world.  No more posting.  No more writing.  I was going to put it to rest again, once and for all.  It was a stupid hobby anyhow.
Now fast forward to today. Just an ordinary day, but something strange happened today.  My brain was flooded with ideas for a story that I had no intention of writing for quite a while, if ever.  How was I going to write this story?  I had so many ideas pop into my head all at once and no time to do anything with them.  Working a full time job, taking care of a toddler and a home didn't leave me much time for writing.  But I HAD to put it on paper somehow.  But how?
I have "met" a lot of people on Facebook and in my Masterkoda group.  I have spoken to some more than others.  One in particular actually reached out to me.  I got a private message, an attempt to be friends as she wrote for young adults, and some stories for children. .  I had apparently mentioned that I wrote for  children.  I can't imagine what else would prompt her to reach out to me like that.  After all it was just  writing. 
Do I take a chance? Maybe.  Just maybe this would work.  She did after all show enthusiasm toward the subject matter of my next story, the Kangarillasaurus.  Actually stating that if I didn't write about it, she would.  This just might work.
I decided that I was going to take a chance.  Was she on line?  Nope.  I would have to PM her.....that would get her attention.  Just one sentence was all it took... "would you like to co-write a book with me?"  It didn't take long before she responded.  Very enthusiastically I might add.  Now I knew it was going to work.  I just had to test the waters a bit.
I gave her the ideas that flooded my brain while I was trying to work, and she would throw back a couple of her own.  By the time we were done, we had the makings of a children's story.  I was very pleased to say the least.  I had a good feeling about this.  Yes, there was that doubt, that fear that my ideas were going to get stolen but the more we exchanged ideas the more I knew that I had made the right choice.  The choice to take a leap of Faith.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sailin' With Sadie - Life with a Labrador

My husband and I have been together for 11 years this year, but married for 6.  During my previous marriage, I owned three dogs.  An Old English Sheepdog, a Shepard/Lab Mix, and a Rhodesian Ridge-back.  I had never owned a Lab, but my current husband is a hunter (for food only) and has only owned Labradors for pheasant hunting.  When I met him he owned a Black and a Chocolate Lab.  After unforeseen circumstances and health issues forced us to put the dogs to sleep only months apart from each other, I was in search of another Lab to fill that empty space in my husbands heart.  Ebony, the Black Lab was his baby and he was devastated that she was gone.  He didn't want another dog to replace her, stating that he didn't want to lose another and could never love another dog as much as he loved Ebony.  I was on a mission now.
It took me a few months, but I finally found a responsible breeder that only had three left and they were yellow.  A color my husband had never owned.  One was a female, a preference of my husbands.  I took a look at the dogs, and this female was quite the little spit-fire.  A personality all her own already at a young age, she was tormenting her siblings and then running away as if to say "HA - catch me if you can!"  I gave the breeder a deposit to hold the puppy for me.  Now the only thing to do was convince my husband to get another dog.
I managed to convince Bill to just "look" at the puppy.  It took a while, but reluctantly, he finally gave in.  I think it was for the main purpose of getting me to leave him alone about it, but whatever the reason I'm glad he went.
He looked at the puppies, not saying much and i pointed out the female.  He remarked at her coloring - she looked white with yellow markings.  The tips of her ears looked as if someone had dipped her in Yellow Lab as well as a strip on her back.
Next, as he was watching her, she was "attacking" a weed.  Biting it, yipping at it, pouncing on it and running around it in circles.  Then she would start all over again. She was entertaining herself.  Bill reached down to pet her and she immediately took the submissive position, belly up.  He rubbed her belly, looked at me and said "Lets take her home".  Mission accomplished.
Sadie has been a ray of sunshine in our lives from day one.  She has filled us with so much joy and unconditional love we can't imagine life without her.  The amazing thing is that she shows qualities of Ebony and Dillon (the chocolate lab) as well as qualities of her own.  Its as if we were meant to have her.
We have our share of experiences with Sadie that will always be memorable just because she never fails to amaze us with her personality.  I would like to share one of those moments with you.
the following story was written 5 years ago and t is the story that I submitted for The Gage Project and will be submitting to the MasterKoda writing contest for unpublished manuscripts.  Please, enjoy!


Sailin' With Sadie
By Melanie Ouellette

Wow, where do I start?  I can’t imagine my life without a dog.

We have had them all – A Chocolate Lab, Black Lab and now a Yellow Lab. Our summers with all of them were just so memorable that it would take me forever to list the wonderful things that transpired over the years. 

Our current Lab Sadie had just turned two. Never before have I had a dog with a personality such as hers.  She is truly an amazing dog.

 Last year, being her first summer with us, turned out to be quite possibly the most unique summer we have had in a long time with a young dog.  While she was past that puppy stage in her life, she was still quite full of energy and surprises!

My husband Bill and I love to take the boat out on the Connecticut River and on local lakes.  We decided to take Sadie with us, as she gets extremely upset when Daddy leaves without her.  Never having had her in the boat before, we weren’t sure what to expect, but we WERE up for the challenge.

This particular boat excursion happened at a local lake that we frequent every year.  Upon our arrival at the launch, I usually would help Bill unhook the boat and transfer everything from our truck into the boat, etc.  Apparently, Sadie felt that she should be the first one in the boat.  Without hesitation, she jumped out of the truck, onto the ground and then leaped into the boat clearing the sides with ease.  Quite the picture seeing that the boat was still on the trailer and is about 4 feet high!  With that being said, I knew this was going to be a very interesting day.                                 

After we finally got underway, we were in search of a nice spot to anchor and go swimming off the boat.  As we cruised the lake, Sadie took her spot at the front of the boat, ears flapping in the wind and her nose checking everything out. We would occasionally hit wakes left by other boats, causing our vessel to slap the water and jump quite a bit when we went over them.  Apparently, this was not a favorable motion to Sadie, as it didn’t take long for her to retreat from her original spot to a safer one, curled up under Bill’s seat.

Finally, we found a nice place to anchor the boat and decided to go swimming.  We usually throw a couple of life jackets in ahead of us so that we can hold onto them and stay in the water longer.  Bill proceeded to throw in a life jacket and the next thing we saw was Sadie flying through the air.  She landed in the water, grabbed the life jacket, and proceeded to swim back to us.   It was obvious that she had absolutely no problem with the Retriever in her!

She seemed to be struggling a bit getting back to us so Bill had to jump in and help her get back into the boat. He brought her over to the ladder and amazingly enough, she found her footing and with a little help from the two of us, managed to get back in the boat.


Thinking that the ordeal was over, Bill turned, proceeded to swim over to the life jacket and floated around a bit. 

Next thing we knew Sadie was back in the water! Back to the boat she went – with a little help from Bill - and this time the two of us told her to “STAY!”  Apparently she was a bit tired, as she didn’t try to jump in again. Bill was able to swim a bit and then once back in the boat, decided that if Sadie was going to continue to jump in the water, we should probably move the boat closer to shore so she would be able to find her own footing.

We were able to find a little island with a makeshift beach, which seemed like a perfect spot to anchor.  No sooner was the anchor in the water – there went Sadie again!  We both figured that at this point she obviously loved the water, so investing in a life jacket for her would probably a good idea.

Not having a life jacket for her, we decided that we would take turns staying in the boat to make sure that she didn’t continue to jump in the water.  She was getting fatigued and having trouble swimming back to the boat and this was probably the best way to handle the situation.

Before I tell you what happened next, I must tell you that our boat isn’t anything fancy.  It is a Tracker, 16 feet long, carpeted, and has a few holds and drains in the floor.  Those wonderful drains are a key factor in what happened next.

Apparently, in all our excitement, we forgot that dogs pee.  I was sitting in the boat with Sadie, reading a book and just chilling.  The next thing I knew she started to pace….then squatted! I began to panic because I certainly didn’t want pee all over the boat.  Using some quick thinking, I grabbed her in front of her back legs, swung her bottom end around, and aimed her pee into the drain!  Quite the interesting day this was turning out to be!

At this point, I decided that it was now MY turn to swim and Bill’s turn to babysit. He got into the boat and I as I threw my life jacket into the water – BIG mistake – it was promptly retrieved by a Flying Labrador!  This pretty much continued the entire day and I must say that on occasion, we purposely threw the life jackets into the water, feeling as much joy watching her as she felt retrieving each one!

I did finally end up going swimming and by the time we had our fill, we were absolutely exhausted.  We were certainly ready to end our day and go home.

I think Sadie would have been content traveling in the boat the entire trip home.  Once we docked at the launch, it took us a good ten minutes to coax her out of the boat and get her back into the truck.  She slept the entire ride, not waking until we got to the end of the highway close to home.

As for Bill and I, we just laughed at her character and personality and look forward to many more summers on the boat with our Flying Labrador!


                

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gotta love him.....

Another Axel tale: This morning, i was attempting to "catch" him to get his shoes on so that we can go to Miss Judy's (Daycare). Well, apparently when i say come here, it clearly means run in the opposite direction as fast as you can. 
I managed to catch him, and told him "we need to get your shoes on so we can go. I need you to be my "best helper." " Struggling with me the whole time i am trying to get his shoes on, i finally manage to accomplish the task. He gets off my lap and i tell him - "you need to stop being so fresh to me in the morning. I need you to be my best helper so I can go to work and you can go to Miss Judy's." He turns around to me, puts his hands on his hips and clearly states: "Well Moma, thats not the way I see it."
I couldn't really say too much after that - i was trying too hard not to laugh.

Monday, January 23, 2012

My SENSA Journey

I have been struggling with my weight for a couple years now.  After my surgeries, i found that i had gained a good 30-35 pounds due to the restrictions on my physical activity.  I tried Atkins, Weight Watchers, slim fast, etc.  I would lose 7 pounds and plateau, permanently.
Now i cannot exercise for fitness - i have a collapsed disc in my lower back that restricts the extent of my exercising ability, and a left leg that does not have 100% strength in it, due to a crushed sciatic nerve (caused by a ruptured disc).  Sensa seemed like my only alternative at this point. the only thing that was keeping me from it was the price.  I decided to take the plunge......I knew that it was going to be a little bit hard to manage financially, but i am determined to find a way to get the pounds off.

Prior to my hysterectomy in August of 2008, and my brain surgery in January of 2009, I weighed 150 pounds, and was a size 10 pants, and medium shirt.  Today, three years after my last surgery, i am 192 pounds, size 14 pants and XL shirt..... Following will be my Sensa Journey......



January 12, 2012 - I received my shipment of Sensa today.  I was so excited!  I had it delivered to me at work because i wasn't sure if i had to sign for it, and it came just in time for lunch!  I had brought leftover spaghetti to work with me (and it wasn't a little!), and after reading the directions, i sprinkled Sensa on my spaghetti.
Now keep in mind that Sensa works with your hypothalmus - sending a "false full" signal to your brain.  The key to Sensa is learning how to "listen" to that.... Now back to the spaghetti.
I ate almost the whole dish of spaghetti that i had brought, knowing full well that Sensa isn't going to work on the first day....or is it?  Later that afternoon, i realized that i hadn't snacked on anything.  Normally?  I have a handful of M&M's, a few slices of my cheddar cheese, some peanut butter on crackers, etc.  Hmmmmm.  Ok I called it coincidence.
that evening, i did my usual routine of picking up my grandson at daycare and then going home to make dinner. I can't really remember what i was making, but what i DO know is that while i am making dinner i am usually snacking on something.  Tonight.....i did not!
Sitting down to dinner with my grandson, i diligently sprinkled my meal - ah yes, now i remember.....i made a skillet meatloaf......And i didn't finish that either. Was it just my imagination or was Sensa actually working that quickly?  Too soon to tell.
Seeing as how January 11th was a wednesday - i was going to wait until Monday to weigh myself.  Give me a little time to get acclamated to the system........

January 16th - Weigh Day.  Almost through week 1.OK. we know that my starting weight is 192 so i was weighing myself after 5 days of using sensa just to confirm and record.....BUT I HAD LOST 2 POUNDS!  I didn't think that Sensa would work that fast......maybe it was just me..... but if not,  2 down, 40 to go!

January 23 - Weigh in - finish of week 2.......didn't lose anything.  Bummer.  I can't let myself get frustrated.  I can do this!  I have been sprinkling very diligently, even carrying my shaker around with  me if i go out on the weekends.  I have a tendency to get very frustrated very easy but i can't let that happen this time........I CAN do this.

January 30 - Weigh Day Week 3.................Down 5 pounds for a total of 7.   This is where it is suspensful.  I am notorious for only losing 7 pounds no matter what weight loss system i am using.  Yes, I am nervous but we'll have to see what next week brings.

February 6 - Weigh Day - Week 4........Nothing.  Here we go.  Frustrated, disappointed, you name it.  History repeating itself again.  I'll just have to hope that switching to the month two formula will trigger some more weight loss.......

February 13 - Weigh Day - Week 5...........Still didn't lose anything.  I have been very careful, watching what i am eating, being sure to sprinkle.  I post on the Sensa FB Page, and have been told to start taking my measurements, as i may be losing inches in stead of pounds.  I haven't tried that, so maybe that is whats happening.  I know that my pants fit looser, so there is a bit of "hope" in the inches department.  We'll see what happens over the course of the next week.

February 20 - Weigh Day Week 6...............Well, We are on vacation so i am using a different scale.  :)  Not that it will help any.  Weigh in produced the same results as the past two weeks - Loss = 0.  Still stuck at the 7 pound mark.  I am really trying to watch what i eat.  I don't drink soda, stay away from the sweets whenever possible, i have started eating multi grain cereals and breads, i drink carbonated fruit water (0 calories, 0 fat, 0 everything - regular water has too many chemicals in it).  This is quite frustrating.

February 27 - Weigh Day Week 7..............Almost two months using Sensa and i havent lost anything in the past 3 weeks.  This is extremely frustration.  I know it would help if i was able to exercise more but with my back and leg, i am really limited.  I started walking up and down the stairs as a "change up" to my routine, but not sure if it is going to help.  I guess the next weigh day will tell!

March 5 -  Weigh Day, Week 8.................Unless i am not reading things correctly - it appears that i have finally lost another 2 or 3 pounds (hard to see the small numbers - may need scale with bigger ones lol)!  WOOT! I made it to the 10 pound mark!

March 12 - Weigh Day, Week 9 - Start of month Three.......no weight loss this week, but content that i did not gain either.  I'm fearful that this will be another hump that will take me forever to climb up and over, but hopefully i will continue to maintain the will power, strength and determination to continue on my weight loss journey!

March 19 - Weigh Day, Week 10. Gained back the three pounds i lost two weeks ago.....now i am at the 7 pound mark.  I haven't changed what i am doing, maybe thats the issue.  I am having a terrible time, yet in the Sensa forums there are so many other people doing what i am doing and losing like crazy.  Not sure what is going on.  I don't want to be a twig, but i'm not pleased with the jelly rolls i have developed......Need to get back into my pre-surgery clothing......

March 25 - Weigh Day, Week 11.  WOOT!  Been under a lot of stress this past week.  Stress has turned out to work in my favor - i lost 4 pounds bringing my total weight loss to 11 pounds!  Lets just hope that when the stress passes, i don't gain it back again......

April 4 - Weigh Day Week 12.  Up three pounds.  not happy, not going to say any more.

April 11 - Weigh Day Week 13 - No loss, no gain.

April 18 - Weigh Day Week 14 - I think I am going to give up now.

April 25 - Weigh Day Week 15 - This is not good, and i'm not happy.

April 30 - Weigh Day Week 16 - I'm cancelling my subscription to Sensa.  4 months, lost 10 pounds and and haven't lost a single ounce in over a month.  I give up.  I'm destined to be fat.



Monday, January 16, 2012

Stepping Stones

There comes a time in your life when you have to sit back and realize that you are an adult.  Whether you like it or not, you are the grownup and no matter how much you don't want to, you have to start acting like one.  It can be very frustrating when  you reach this point, because while you have taken the step to "act your age", not everyone else is going to unfortunately.

I put this all into perspective this weekend.  I had a wonderful visit with my father and stepmother, traveling to Delaware to make the visit happen.  I brought along my two sons, and of course my grandson.  Jumping ahead a little, let me just mention that my sons ex-wife, (and Axel's mother) also lives in Delaware.

The ride down was a little stressful, not really knowing how everything was going to turn out.  Michael had every right to come, as we were visiting his grandparents.  Jennifer had every right to be there, she wanted to see her son. Well, i was afraid that i was going to pack up and go home before the visit even started.  I had a gut feeling that Jennifer was going to bring her boyfriend along and was dreading the friction that was going to be there between he and my son Michael.  Tensions were high, i was having anxiety, and to tell you the truth, was beginning to regret going.

We arrived around 10:30 Friday evening.  I was stressed, and to add to it, couldn't find my wallet, fearing that i had left it in the service area we stopped at a couple hours prior to our arrival.  (I found my wallet in the truck thank goodness!)

Saturday am was going to be the test.  That's when Jennifer and Kyle were going to come over for a visit.  I was dreading it, as on the ride there, she said that they would be over around 9 or 10.  That was too early, i thought 11-12 would be better (so we could wake up, eat breakfast, shower, etc), and she wasn't really accepting that, stating that "well, i will just call them myself".  Oh boy, here we go.

Around 10, Jennifer called the house asking if it was OK if they came over now.  This was a tremendous relief to me.  I had expected a knock on the door at 9 while we were all fighting over the coffeepot still.  One gold star for Jennifer.  stress level just went down a notch.

She and Kyle arrived about a half hour later.  Everyone was nervous, anxious and not sure what to make of the situation.  Understandable considering the circumstances.

Fast forward a few hours.  Michael and Kyle getting along great (weird huh?), Jennifer and I had a "heart-to-heart" talk, and Axel found a new playmate (Mommy).  Stress level about gone now.  The day was turning out OK after all.  I was pleasantly surprised......


Thursday, January 12, 2012

DAYCARE HORROR!!!!!

I never thought i would be writing about a daycare experience, as both of my children are in their 20's.  Circumstances changed though, when my husband and I took on the responsibility of caring for our grandson.  At first, a relative watched him, but once he turned 1, he got to be a handful, so we started looking for daycare elsewhere.
I sent Axel to a home daycare.  I wanted him to have the experience with other children, but not in a "center" environment.  Being in a home daycare is supposed to be relaxing, fun, etc.....just as if he were home.  Well, at first?  It seemed to be that way......
He had been going there for about a year.  I THOUGHT everything was going well. No, we weren't on the same page on everything, but then i didn't agree with a lot of what his caretaker was doing, and i was not about to force him to do something that i did not agree with, nor that he was ready for.  Not in this lifetime.
Now you have to understand that my husband and I do not always see eye to eye on a lot of things with Axel.  Where as I may be the one that tries to adhere to the routine, he is the one that is more lenient, and gives in more easily - probably because Axel has his grandfather wrapped around his little finger......
I was constantly being told by his caregiver that "he is never going to listen to me until he listens to you at home". We didn't have a problem with him, other than the typical i'm 2 so deal with it, behaviors..... I certainly didn't expect him to act as though he was older than 2, but apparently she did.
Let me just give you an idea of how things went:
-Upon Arrival at daycare, the children were expected to sit in their high chairs and wait for breakfast to be made.
-the "daycare" room was aproximately 9x10.  This is the room that the children were confined to during the day.  they were not allowed to play in the house. They were allowed out in the dining room or kitchen at meal times only.  any other time (with the exception of going outside to play), they were to stay in the daycare room.  There was even a split door so that they couldn't "escape".
-Lunch was at a specific time and if the child was not hungry, oh well.  Thats when you are having lunch and you are not having anything else until snack time.  Same went for breakfast.
-Nap time - naps were taken at a specific time as well, whether you were tired or not.  If you did not sleep, don't try to fall asleep later, because you will not be able to.  When nap time is over, you lose.
-Crib/pack n play vs. mat - Naturally small children under the age of 3 are generally still in a crib, as is Axel.  Well, a pack and play is defenitely not a crib, and Axel knew it.  He is extremely smart for his age....he knew that he could get out of the pack and play, and he did. Several times.  He would strategically grab the side rail, brace his feet on the netting and "flip" himself out of the pack n play.  Pretty good for a less than two year old i might add......
Well, seeing as how he got himself out of the pack n play, apparently the provider felt that he was old enough to sleep on a mat.  Well, apparently he felt differently, as he should.  there was no way in hell he was sleeping on that mat. He wasn't even in a toddler bed yet, so how she expected him to sleep on the mat was beyond me.
The fight was on at that point. He wasn't sleeping on the mat, so when nap time was over, it was over.  After a while of this routine on a daily basis, he was literally exhausted. To a toddler, Exhausted = miserable. Period.  Every time i went to pick him up he was in time out for something.  I was being told that he was hitting the day care provider, spitting, kicking, etc. all after i walked out the door.  Now part of me feels that it was an exaggeration on her part, but the other part of me now, feels that he was rebelling because of the military conditions of the daycare.
I understand that when there are three or more children, it is hard to "rock" or "comfort" a child to sleep, but you know what?  You just do it. If you have one that won't go to sleep, you wait until the other are (that apparently have no problem going to sleep) and then you comfort and rock the child that is having trouble.  Isn't that what a home daycare is all about?  So the child feels like he is surrounded by the comforts of home?
I don't know.  Maybe its just me.......
I felt alot of times that my grandson was 2, yet because he was smart for his age, he was expected to act like he was older.  He was expected to sleep on a mat, He was expected to share as well as the older kids. he was expected to listen and act like her perfect children. He was two years old.  I don't care how smart he was at that age, he was still two years old.  He is going to have tantrums, he is going to tell you no, he is going to give you a hard time and no, he is not going to share.
Well, December comes around, a week before Christmas and upon dropping axel off for the day i am greeted with "Wednesday will be Axel's last day".  Talk about a slap in the face. There was no warning, there was no "if things dont change i will have to excuse axel from daycare" no nothing.  I guess when you run a "home" daycare, common courtesy is something that you don't have to have any more.  Part of me was relieved in a way.  Every time i dropped him off i felt bad because he went from a car seat to a high chair because they were not allowed to play while she made breakfast for them.  I'm sure that sooner or later i would have been the one to take him out of there, but she beat me to the punch.
Now the race was on to find another daycare provider.  I had a week.  I called a few, was very honest as to the fact that my two year old grandson got kicked out of daycare for being two, and proceed to ask them how they would handle these types of situations.  After two or three phone calls, i found my new day care provider.
This one came across as perky, stern, but fun too.  She was the one that responded with the "home day care" answers that one would expect.  When i asked her "how would you handle my grandson not wanting to take a nap, and giving you a hard time about it".  Her response?  "I would lay him on the floor in the living room, put in a movie and eventually he would fall asleep.  I win." Gold Star.....  When i asked her about the fact that he climbs out of the pack n play "I have a crib so thats not an issue."  When i explained to her about the "behaviors" he was showing at the other daycare:  "He is two. he is going to act up". I knew that she was going to be the best choice, and i was right.
Fast forward to today.  Axel loves going to his new daycare.  He is three now, and going on his second year with her.  He has made a special friend, no longer sleeps in the crib, sleeps on the mat with no problems at all, because she didn't make him.  Axel chose to sleep on the mat when he was ready to and has ever since.   There is no kicking, spitting, slapping. There are none of the previous behaviors present.  As a matter of fact, there were not from day one.  The only issue was the separation anxiety - new daycare, clingy child.  Now i have to ask him for a hug when i leave!  But isn't that the way it is supposed to be?