Today is Thanksgiving here in the US, and we are blessed enough to be together as a family, feasting and enjoying each other.
But what it makes me think of the most is my Grandma. She passed away a few years back and I hadn’t been able to see her for a few years prior to that. Growing up, the holiday celebrations were always held in her home. She had all her recipes to make everything from scratch. And from my perspective, everyone was always happy and got along. She had the best stuffing, with raisins and giblets. She made the most delicious duck, alongside ham or turkey. And she was always so sweet, and kind.
In her last several years, even though she wasn’t in the best health, she did a lot of volunteer work, mostly in senior centers. Always giving and caring for others.
She was the woman who taught me about hard work, by having me “help” with the operations of her and Grandpa’s motel. She was the woman who fostered healthy neighborhood friendships for me around her town, when I stayed there during summers and visited around holidays. She was the woman who set such an amazing example for me by sticking with her marriage through thick and thin. She was firm but loving, structured but fun, and was always an understanding parent to my dad and aunt as well. I can’t say enough good about her. I miss her dearly, and that is what this Thanksgiving is about for me. Honoring her, and my other passed relatives. ❤️
I love you, grandma. I hope you’re looking down on me from heaven and I make you proud.
When I was a little kid I loved animals. My mom had a black cat named Scorpio who I took naps with and played with every day when I was 3-4 years old.
Then we moved to an apartment where we couldn’t have pets. We were three for many years. I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian one day. Once we got out of there (when I was 12), we moved to a house out in the country and had many, many pets. Dogs, a bunny, a pig, an iguana, large aquariums, ferrets…. but specifically a great many cats.
The cats were mostly all outside cats. They weren’t spayed or neutered so they just bred indiscriminately. In the spring and summer we would end up with around 40 cats and kittens. But by the end of winter we would be down to 6-8. Between the brutal Iowa winters, disease, parasites, and the highway, there was a high cat death rate. At first I was naming all of the new kittens and getting attached to them all the time. But by the end of 4-5 years of seeing them come and go, I deemed myself NOT a cat person. To me they were too “disposable,” for lack of a better description.
Fast forward to 2010. I was living in an apartment with my older 3 kiddos. One of my friends down the hall had a cat who had kittens. I picked the only orange kitten of the litter. We named her Sunny. She became a permanent member of the family.
Andy and Sunny became inseparable. She claimed him as her human. We got 10 good years with Sunny. Unfortunately she was let outside during our stay in NC and disappeared. Despite all our efforts to find her, she never came home. Out of guilt I got Andy a kitten after that. No cat can replace our beloved Sunny. But Hera has brought Andy a lot of joy.
Then I started evaluating why I didn’t like cats. Yeah, litter boxes are annoying. But if kept clean they don’t stink. Yeah cats can be assholes, knocking stuff over and shredding toilet paper. But they can be the best companions. Then I thought back to the farm life and I understood where my opposition to cats as pets came from. I just didn’t want to get attached to something that was going to break my heart.
Longer story shortened, I decided to get a kitten for myself. I started looking around and found a lady here in town with several litters. I wanted a calico kitten originally. So I went to pick one out and immediately bonded with a grey and white kitten. So I brought both her and a calico home.
Meet Sage (grey and white) and Daisy (calico).
They have been with us for just about two months now. They are both absolute terrors, and sweet little cuddle bugs at the same time. I adore them both, but Daisy is a lot more aloof with me. Sage is my buddy. She sits on me every time I’m sitting down. She gets in my face and grabs my phone for attention. It’s adorable.
These kittens have brought a lot of joy into my life. I’m so glad I was able to move past the trauma of many lost kitty lives, and learn to allow myself to be attached again. It’s been so worth it!!
As of this month, September, we FINALLY have all our services on track for Felix back here in Iowa. It feels like it took forever, but we’re finally there!
• He has been evaluated and approved for physical therapy and speech therapy. He started PT this week, twice per week. The therapies will be done in “shifts,” such as a couple months of one, then a couple months of another. So he’s not overwhelmed with everything at once.
• He has an occupational therapy evaluation later this month, for which he will also be approved.
• I have the AEA/Early Access (Area Education Agency) involved, also helping with therapies at home, including feeding therapy, and eventually getting him evaluated and set up with an IEP for school.
• He will be eligible for preschool in February when he turns 3, but Jarrod and I are thinking he will start with the next school year in September 2022 instead. We want to give him more of a chance to gain more skills in his therapies first, since there’s been such a disruption due to our move.
He saw his developmental specialist yesterday, and he got a bunch of referrals for more testing:
• He has a sacral dimple that will be imaged to make sure it’s not affecting the function of his spinal cord.
• He will be getting another eye exam because I’m truly convinced he has issues with distance, still.
• He is going to get a swallow study done because his inability to chew and swallow properly is getting in the way of his ability to properly learn to feed himself.
• And finally, he has an appointment for genetic testing and counseling early next year (long wait on that one, it was scheduled in April).
Also with the appointment yesterday came a new diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder. It was bittersweet for me, because I have suspected this from the moment Felix came home from the hospital at birth. With the diagnosis I felt heard and confirmed. But the flip side of that… all the hope I had that he could grow and develop and come out of his delays has now been crushed. This is a permanent state for Felix. I’m not scared or intimidated by this diagnosis. I just know it’s going to be a lot of work. Then again it already has been. We’ve all adjusted to the therapy and appointment schedule. We already know tests will keep coming until we find answers.
The specialist said ASD is secondary to the real issue, and he believes the genetic testing will hold the real answer. Personally, my only concern in the genetic realm is finding something degenerative. That’s my fear. But I’m hoping for the best, and we will cross whatever bridge is laid in front of us when we get to it.
No matter what, this little boy is a blessing. I couldn’t ask for a better toddler. He’s sweet and cuddly, curious and strong, determined and stubborn. He’s growing and learning on his own time, and that’s perfectly okay. I love him unconditionally.
Four years ago today, knowing not much about one another, Jarrod and I hopped in a car and drove to Colorado together on absolutely no sleep. We arrived early in the afternoon, went into the courthouse in the town of Golden, and got married. Then we stayed at a beautiful little bed and breakfast called Meadow Creek Mountain Lodge for our one-night “honeymoon” of sorts. We would have stayed longer but we had obligations back home.
Since then, we have been through an extraordinary amount of ups and downs. More than any one couple should endure in a lifetime, I dare say. And here we are today, still together and back in Iowa, raising our own child together alongside our 6 teenagers, and making many plans for the future. Four years ago our family and friends called us crazy. No one believed it would ever work. Everyone assumed we would fizzle out as quickly as we came together. BUT WE DIDN’T. We love each other not only as much now as that adventurous day, but so much more. We have learned many life lessons with one another and from one another.
Today for our anniversary, with Felix along for the occasion, we decided to visit the zoo and then grab some our favorite cuisine for takeout on the way home.
Felix wasn’t a real fan of the zoo, but he did pretty well. We grabbed some creole food from Buzzard Billy’s for our anniversary meal. And we’ve been able to just relax alone at home together the rest of the evening while Felix happily plays with his toys. It’s been a great day together.
Life is ever-changing. Tastes change, circumstances change, people grow and change. I know where I am now, and what I do on a daily basis is far different today than it was a year ago. Or the year before that. So I’m going to make this post once or twice per year. This is a snapshot of what my life looks like today.
Today Felix woke me around 10:30am, which has gotten earlier over the past couple weeks. He was sleeping in until noon. He cuddles me for a few minutes before he goes to play, a morning tradition I cherish. He and I woke Jarrod, and then Felix played for a while while Jarrod and I checked our phone notifications.
Then Jarrod cooked some eggs for the three of us, and I got our drinks. Today we had cold cereal with our eggs, other days we have toast with peanut butter, bacon, or oatmeal. While we have breakfast we watch something on the iPad. News, game shows, reality shows, or sitcoms. Today it was Big Bang Theory. Once we were done eating, around 11:45am, Jarrod left for work. He works noon til 9:00pm right now.
Today we had no appointments. So we didn’t have much to do. I took a shower while Cory hung out in the living room with Felix. Felix played with his toys in the living room and rode his horsey all over the house. Cory played on my computer for a while and had a show playing on the TV. I chatted with him and cruised social media. I also did some light cleaning, and watched our kittens play. Around 3, Felix crawled up into my lap and passed out for a nap. He naps on me, Jarrod or Cory when he naps. Typically he sleeps for about 30 minutes, but today it was about an hour and a half.
Other days Felix may have a checkup or therapy, we may have friends to hang out with, or shopping to do. Sometimes my mom or Jarrod’s will visit, Evan or one of the girls will hang out for a while, or we will go out to eat. If Jarrod has a day off we usually find something to do outside of the house.
Once Felix woke up from his nap, I fed him lunch. After lunch he watched a couple episodes of the cartoons Pablo and Simon on Netflix while I placed an order online at Walmart for pickup, like I do a couple times per week. As of right now, COVID and RSV are quite common amongst children, and though everyone else in the house is vaccinated against COVID, I’m doing my part to protect Felix by reducing my contact with the public. So currently (again) I’m not taking him into stores much. So our trips to the store for pickup are regular outings as well.
When we got back from the store we had a snack, and I put on some music on YouTube for Felix. He LOVES Billy Strings, so I just put some videos on and he will watch and dance. That has bought me a little time to write this blog post. Even though Andy just decided to emerge from his room for the first time since I’ve been awake today. Nevertheless, I’m continuing to write because I’ve already had too many distractions over the last couple days. Once I’m done, I’ll get supper started.
We will eat late, once Jarrod gets home from work. Usually around 9:30-10pm. He will take a shower before he eats, and bathe Felix once supper is over. That’s their bonding time, since he’s gone for most of Felix’s waking hours. While that’s going on, I’ll get the kitchen cleaned up, and maybe tidy up a few other things. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Sims 4 in the evenings before bed. Jarrod will have Friends or some other sitcom playing on the TV and will play with Felix or look at his phone if Felix is busy playing. We will talk about the day and update each other on anything important or entertaining that happened, or anything coming up either of us should be aware of.
Felix is usually ready to sleep around 12:30-ish. So we will head to the bedroom, read Felix a couple stories, and he and I will brush our teeth. And then we will get into bed. I hold Felix until he falls asleep, and then lay him down on his mattress, which is right up against ours. Jarrod and I both stay in bed at that point too. And the day is over.
The therapies Felix has are Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. He currently has referrals to get his vision and hearing checked again, and has an upcoming appointment with the Developmental Specialist, and Genetics.
Today was a mellow, rather boring day. Not all days are like today. In fact, often we have so much to do that we’re all exhausted by the end of the day. But right now, I love where we are. I love how Felix is my best friend, and is so much fun to play with and go to appointments with. He enjoys therapy and all of our outings. There are times I feel overwhelmed by my lack of alone time, but then I just take a step back and remember these days won’t last forever. In fact, these days will be short and sweet, and someday not too far into the future I will miss my little boy and our fun times together.
This is a snapshot of now. I know things will change so much, so it will be nice to have this post as a little reminder of today.