March 3, 2015 Sunrise (and Friend)

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Shooting the sun rise

From my front door step

Oops! Shot video

Okay, that works, too

Hear noise behind me

Pan the camera

It’s trash day – cans out

Look at all the snow

There’s my little friend

Waiting for some nuts

Right behind me now

Scurries up the tree

She waits patiently

The Ease (Pain?) of Writing

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I love how the words just flow when you are writing about something that you enjoy, care about or want to know more about. I am in the finishing stages of my Civil Litigation class – the class ends Monday, and today I am putting together the final assignment.

For the Final Exam, we have been asked to write a letter to the fictional client, assuming it is just after the first meeting with her to discuss her slip-and-fall case. In the letter, we are to basically summarize everything we learned in the entire 7.5 weeks of class. We are to walk the client, step by step, through the civil litigation process. We explain to her what she is to expect, we are to cite references, and we are to explain things to her so that she can understand what will happen and what sort of relief she can expect at the outcome.

The project seemed daunting at first, but now that I’ve begun typing it up, I seem to be on a roll. It’s interesting to me that when you are writing something you enjoy (whether it’s schoolwork, blogging or writing a novel), the words just seem to fly from your brain and out of your fingertips. I have enjoyed the heck out of this class. Although I do not work in Litigation, the terminology was familiar enough that this class seemed easy. I will miss it when it’s over.

Even though I am struggling mightily today from a headache brought on by a medication that’s apparently not compatible with my system, the assignment (and this post!) both seem to be writing themselves. I would love to someday write a novel, but every time I sit down and try to do so, the words don’t flow. I don’t have writer’s block, but what I write is lame and difficult to get from brain to page. That tells me it’s not any good, and it’s not time to write it yet. I haven’t found the right character yet, and that character hasn’t nagged at me to tell their story. Once that happens, I imagine the story will write itself, and it will be right.

So I will now return to my client letter, and I will push through the pain in my head to write and deliver the very best Final Exam that I can. Cheers, everyone!

writingImage courtesy of Pinterest

The Advocate

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I used to be extremely shy. I’d run away from conflict. Confrontations scared me, and I was good at avoiding them. Most social situations left me tongue-tied and nervously sick to my stomach.

Having children changed me. Let’s face it, the whole pregnancy and childbirth process does much to erase shyness and embarrassment. You get over yourself fast. Having two little boys who had “issues” also made a big difference. ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, PDD-NOS, Executive Dysfunction, Celiac disease and Type 1 Diabetes (not once but twice). Having to deal with this boatload of issues at times seemed unfair and absolutely insurmountable.

But I learned, and I became an advocate. The most important thing I heard one of the Doctors (or was it a teacher?) say in the early days was that I had to advocate for my sons because they couldn’t do it for themselves. I had to be their voice. I took that advice to heart. So I listened, I researched, I read, and I asked questions. I went on instinct on more than one occasion. I asked for help and clarification when I needed to.

There would be hundreds of meetings over the years, and I started out attending those meetings feeling scared and uncertain. While I couldn’t speak up for myself, I could do it for my sons, however. At first, I hated when it was my turn to speak. All the eyes around the table would turn to me, and I’d stumble red-faced over what I had to say. I usually got out what I wanted to convey, but it was hard. I met with Doctors, behavioral specialists, social workers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, autism specialists, nurses, nurse practitioners, teachers, aides, administrators, Principals, school district representatives, and many other specialists whose titles and purpose I’ve forgotten. Most along the way were helpful, a few were awful, and a few were truly outstanding. All taught me something.

From the good experiences, I learned skills to help my sons adapt and adjust in their daily lives. From the bad experiences, I learned how to be stronger and fight even harder. Both boys made it through school, and I proudly watched them both graduate. Seeing them both wear their caps and gowns and walk across the stage with their classmates to receive their diplomas made me cry both times.

According to Merriam-Webster, an advocate is one who pleads the case of another, and a mother is a female parent who cares for and protects her children. Having two handsome and wonderful young men to parent and advocate for has made me a better and stronger person in the long run. I am still shy and awkward in some social situations, but I stopped running away. Inside I might still be shaking like a leaf, but I learned how to hide that. As I gained experience and grew older, I got more comfortable in my own skin. Forced to be outgoing and proactive instead of reactive, I grew to do things I never thought I’d do.

duckImage courtesy of Pinterest

Cruel Winter

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2-24-2015I’ve seen a lot of cruelty this winter. It’s been a long, hard, cold, cruel winter. I will be more than glad to see it go this year. I normally am a big fan, but this year it has overstayed its welcome.

It started out a bit early, but then it tapered itself back. In fact, we had a green Christmas this year. There was no snow for Santa and his sleigh. But since then it has made up for lost time. It has snowed and snowed and snowed. The temperatures have been brutal and below freezing. We have had several below zero days here with dangerous wind chill factors. I usually go out, resigned to my fate, and shovel out the latest snowfall so that the cars can get in and out. This year we can’t keep up with it. The driveway is full of ruts and quicksand-type snow. The snow piles on either side of the drive are piled so high that we have begun reversing in so that we can try to see better when we drive back out again. Even with a backup camera and motion-sensing alarms on the car, I’m terrified to back out into the road most days. The snow is heavy and hard, and it’s almost impossible at this point to widen the driveway any. The front step has become a hazard as well. After my son fell on it, I got out the bag of salt and spread gobs of it everywhere. I managed to dig free a few bare spots this morning. Mother Nature has been a cruel bitch this year.

My beloved birdfeeder has been abandoned. More cruelty at play. Because it is so God-awful cold out, my feeder has attracted a less-than-desirable crowd this year. It started with my neighbor’s favorite – the crows. Those loud and bold characters drove off the quieter birds. There have been no mourning doves this year. The cardinals have disappeared, too. The squirrels and sparrows struggled to find food after the crows decimated the offerings. It became a game to try to outsmart the crows. I tried changing the timing, but they got wise to that fast. I’d open the door at odd times to find several of them perched outside, watching the house. It was creepy. The real end of the feeder has been the hawk. How I hate that awful thing. I have had at least five sparrows meet their untimely end this year. I know the hawk has to eat, too, but I wish he’d grab his prize and leave. I am so sick of finding the gore outside on the freshly fallen snow that I have stopped feeding the birds altogether. It breaks my heart, but the deaths bothered me more. We have been reduced to standing outside with a small handful of peanuts which we toss to our squirrel friends one by one. I am hoping when the snow goes that the hawk does, too. It will be able to find food sources elsewhere so it can leave my birdfeeder alone.

This has also been a hard and challenging winter for us personally. I finally took on the school district on my son’s behalf. The straw that broke that camel’s back was when the administrators decided what was best for my son. For an autistic young man in a transitional program, learning independence and making adult decisions is the key thing. When administrators decide that he can only reach a certain level or should only do a certain type of job, then I get angry. After fighting them for the past 6 months, I put a stop to the entire program. He had been to a job site to look it over and see what he thought. They were proposing he switch jobs and start there (it was a retail store). He didn’t like it. He had his reasons, and he very clearly and calmly stated them. I agreed with his decision. The administrators did not. I received a phone call to tell me he was starting at the retail store on the next Monday, and while they realized he didn’t want to work there, THEY felt it was in his best interests. I blew up. I am a calm and non-confrontational person (in public) 99% of the time. Not that day. I yelled, and they finally listened and withdrew that proposal. Then we attended a number of other meetings, tours and events – all geared towards next year and putting my son on Medicaid and classing him as a disabled child for the rest of his adult life. Both my hubby and I disagreed with that plan. When my son and I went to the annual planning meeting before an entire committee of teachers, specialists, administrators and the school district representative, I finally had my say. In fact, I took control of the meeting before anyone in the room said their piece, and I politely withdrew my son from the entire program. We have been asking for this since September, but we just hadn’t told the people who mattered. So my son will finish out the program, and in June, he’ll finally be free. The transitional program seemed like a good idea when he graduated from High School in 2013, but it wasn’t. It did give him a few more years to mature, and now it will be up to him (and God) where he goes in life. He will have our support 100% (like he always has). I think he learned that this year when I stood behind all of his decisions and lead the way for him when he wasn’t able to get himself heard over the administrators’ incessant babbling.

Yes, it will be good to see this winter and its cruelty end. I am ready for sunshine, flowers, birdsong and warm breezes.

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