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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Christmas Present

For Christmas this year I was really lucky to get so many gifts I absolutely love...clothes that fit, a AWESOME Caps jacket, some girly stuff and then two wonderful blankets. The first blanket was an early gift given to me by my husband. The damn thing is electric and it has different heat settings. Man does he know me! I am always in a constant state of being cold and for once...I am not cold when comfortably snuggled in with the setting all the way up. I also received another blanket...but this falls under not only comfort but sentimental mush which is something I am a sap for.

On Christmas day after my little family was done with all our Christmas activities at our house, we drove the LONG mile to my parents home. I had opened a few gifts when my Mom placed in front of me a rather large bag and smiled her little Mom smile at me. I was curious as I sort of already knew most of my presents per an annual Christmas shopping trip my sister and I made with her earlier in the month, so she certainly had my curiosity. I opened it up to reveal...the blanket. Its not just a blanket but a hand made crocheted blanket my Mom has literally been working on since I was a child. I remember her hand stitching the different squares and carefully storing them in old bread bags to preserve them from the rampaging children (aka my sister and I) in our old North Carolina home. From time to time when I would pass these bags of crocheted squares while going up to the attic in our North Carolina home or passing them in the basement once we moved to Virgina and wonder what my Mom was going to do with them. I now knew. She was saving them up, diligently working on a project that took essentially twenty years plus in the making to give my sister and I a priceless present made from her hands.

I stretched out the blanket marveled that the squares that used to be in pieces were now elegantly stitched into place into a beautiful blanket. My Mom pointed out different squares commenting how she used this yarn to make us doll clothes for my sister and I or used this yarn to make us all beautiful little dress capes to wear on special occasions. The sentimentalism (if you will) of all the different pieces and the fact my Mom made them was almost overwhelming but beautiful.

So I wrote a post on a blanket, but something more then a blanket. I marvel at my Mom's craftiness as I certainly don't have her talent (nor patience...geez it was a twenty year project) in making not one but two blankets for both my sister and I. It has already become a family treasure and something I will always cherish and think back on. Thank you Mom.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stressed Much? I am

So December hasn't shaped up to be a stellar month. There are so many stresses going on and really I don't know how much more can possibly go on, but I am DONE. I honestly just want to sit here and cry writing this post and am almost thankful I have my little blog to let it all on the table.

So here the last month or so in summary:

~My Mom has heart surgery...a scary heart surgery. Thankfully she is doing great. However...obviously thats stressful.

~My son gets kicked out of day care for thirty days. My husband and I both work full time and can't stay home for thirty days. We scramble to get care and my husband's Grandmother comes up to stay with us from Miami while looking and researching day care places.

~We get approved (THANKFULLY) for speech assessment. However with all the appointments and my boss being out and I can't take off work, my husband holds the bag on that one. He was awesome, but talk about my own personal guilt trip in not really being able to help.

~Grandma comes and although is nice...its hard having anyone come live with you when you're not used to it.

~My job...questionable at best on how long it will last and there are really no jobs (this includes constant searching and looking) that are reasonable to commute to or people just aren't hiring.

~Christmas drama...not the fun kind either, but that blows over THANKFULLY.

~Grandma walks out on us after a VERY (and I mean ridiculous) argument over saying goodbye to my son. We had to see if my sons NEW day care would let us start early...thankfully they are. I can't tell you how disappointed and hurt I am over her selfish actions when she knew we needed help.

~My son after an ENT appointment needs tubes put in both ears and probably his adenoids removed as well. There is a silver lining to him being able to hear and breathe properly, but it means surgery and this is my baby we're talking about!

~Did I mention I am forced to take some holidays (I'd take off for the major day like Christmas and New Years) and I am not paid for four days in December, which equals out to almost a weeks salary.

Today I am just done. I want to go home, shut my door, turn off my ringer and just vegetate with the people I love and that love me. I am hoping for a wonderful New Year because really it has to get better because this month really really really really really sucked (minus Christmas, my nephew, my husband and my beautiful son).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Foreign Movies

I have to say I am new in watching foreign films and am biased when I really only watch Russian films as my husband is Russian. I just like seeing the culture, the different ways another studio other than Hollywood does their films...its all just VERY interesting to me. This week I watched two foreign films that I would have to say I HIGHLY recommend for any audience.

'Kniga Masterov' or 'Book of Masters' is a Disney made movie based on a Russian fairy tale. If you like movies like Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings, this a great movie for you to watch. I know it is odd putting a Disney movie under the foreign films category, but this movie was filmed for Russians as it was written, directed and acted by only Russians. You will not see any actors or voice overs by any Hollywood name you know of.

Another great movie (I believe its almost a classic in Russian films) is Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (I inserted a link off youtube with english subtitles). I would categorize this as a chick flick as the story is told about three different woman's lives from young adulthood and them finding themselves into adulthood. I have watched this movie before but its one movie I have to say is on my list of favorites. Its interesting to see a piece of my husband's culture played out on film as I see certain things played out in my own life. For example, a Russian superstition would be before you leave to go on a journey (vacation) everyone must sit down for a moment for good luck...we have done that in my house. I also laugh at the beautiful decorated tables filled with good food and happy company as this is something I have witnessed frequently when going to my mother in law's house.

I also really enjoy watching 'The Irony of Fate' a while back, which is absolutely hilarious. The movie portrays a man who gets totally drunk during a party before his wedding (sort of like a Bachelor's Party). The guys in his group plays a prank on him and put him on a plane to a different city. Zhenya (the groom to be) wakes up and gets a taxi to what he thinks is his home and not aware that he is in fact in a entire different city. Its sort of a fun pull at the Soviet government as all housing looked the same, street names were the same in each city, even locks (yikes) and furnishings were government issued. I will not spoil the rest of the story, but it is a classic. My husband's Mom describe this movie as something you HAVE to watch every year. Sort of like how us Americans watch 'It's A Wonderful Life' or 'A Christmas Story' each year.

I am also looking into other great films the Russians have done. They love doing period piece films, which THANK YOU LORD is my favorite genre of films!

What foreign films do you recommend?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Traditions

I had to write another post (off my previous post about Christmas) to just talk about different Christmas traditions. I am just curious on what are your traditions this time of year?

One Christmas tradition that I hold VERY dear to my heart and just find it overall beautifully symbolic is during the Christmas Eve feast we set out an extra place during the dinner hour at the table and leave it empty. Its symbolic to show that if someone is to come to our door in search of food and a warm place that we would open our doors up to them. Remember Mary and Joseph were turned away from the Inn thus Christ was born in a manger. I don't think anyone will be giving birth at my house, but they will not be turned away from a warm dinner and a place to stay for a while.

What are your traditions?

The Christmas Spirit

Its that wonderful and most beautiful time of year again...the time of year to celebrate Christ's birth and spend some quality time with family and friends. I know most of us are swamped with running from store to store, wrapping last minute gifts and going through mini holiday dramas, but really it is that time to take a moment to really know what Christmas is all about.

It is a Christian holiday...obviously. Celebrating Christ's birth's and Mary's self surrender to God's plan is just nothing short but miraculous. Remember at this time Mary and Joseph were turned away from the Inn and the SON OF GOD was born in a manger...not a warm hospital or home that so many of us are so lucky to have. It is that time of year again to reflect on what we should be doing as humble ourselves in not thinking so much about ourselves but for what we could do individually or even as a community. It does not have to be huge sacrifices (although it would be nice but not always plausible), but think what you could do for someone else. Simple things like helping a lady load groceries in her trunk, bringing a warm drink to those working in the cold or opening your home up to someone who is a bit less fortunate. Its little things that could mean so much to a person...even something as simple as a smile. We are usually so busy with ourselves...our own lives that we forget to do simple things like help one another or just show the spirit of kindness. I know I am not exempt for forgetting these things, but I try to catch myself when I do remember.

What will you do for someone today?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Speech...worries galore

In previous post I have spoken about my son's lack of speech. He says perhaps a little over twenty words and although some are understandable to other people then his parents, it still isn't what I'd exactly call in the vocabulary range when you compare it to other children my son's age.

A little over a month ago I called Child Find, as they are a county organization that helps children in the preschool age range assess and help any children with developmental delays. I am so thankful and feel so blessed I live in a county that actually offers these services. Thankfully we were able to meet a few weeks after my initial call and during the meeting I had a few discussions with a social worker, an assessment from a psychologist and went in front of a small board to get the approval to move to the next step. I can not praise their professionalism or love of trying to help children enough. They really have an awesome system in place. Thankfully we were approved to go to the next step, which was to get a hearing test (for precautions) and meet with a speech therapist so she/he can determine the therapy needs.

I would say a week or two after we were approved by the board, I got two phone calls in one week to schedule the hearing test and the speech therapist appointment. I was able to get the hearing test scheduled THAT week and the speech therapist appointment would be after the new year (we were approaching the Christmas holiday which was obviously understandable). I honestly was so appreciative to see us moving towards that next step because I was told during the board approval meeting that I may not hear from them until maybe February.

I had to work (grrr) the day my son had his hearing test done, so my husband took him in. The kiddo is two and with two year olds (as most of us know) they are unpredictable especially in new environments. Unfortunately it was one of those days my little guy decided to pitch the BIGGEST fit of his little life. He was just not having it. Although the tests weren't 100% conclusive (because of the temper tantrum), basically it summed up that my son could hear louder tones but not lower tones. Now this could be because of the temper tantrum but having doing some of our own initial tests at home...he really can't hear when I speak quietly to him. That makes me sad....really sad. However, at the hearing test the lady told us there may be an issue with the middle section of his ear...perhaps fluid or ear wax and to go see an ENT. I should of saw one a while ago...why didn't I? Something I should have done...should have pushed for. Its one of those things you kind of kick yourself for not doing something earlier...but then again I was just waiting for my little guy's vocabulary to just explode almost overnight like I have read on so many forums, blogs, etc in that past when researching speech development for his age range.

So we're now on the hunt for a new ENT. Know any good ones? My husband tried calling one that day but kept being put on hold and then hung up on...not a good sign. I am praying and hoping like anything there is something that can easily be done about my son's ear...perhaps it just needs to have some earwax removed or something simplistic like that. I hope...and I pray.

I guess I sort of have a new connection with my Mom in this sense. Twenty six years ago she went through the same thing with me. I didn't hear and my speech was seriously lacking (though not as much as my son's) and very much garbled. I ended up having tubes three times as a small child. My son hasn't had them as his ear infection I guess were either too far apart and his pediatricians maybe just aren't the type to jump to surgery. I am okay with that...but if a kid needs it...I look for their professional opinion to guide me.

A story that pains me and makes me wonder about my own son is when I was very little and had just gotten tubes put in my ears. I had came home and was playing on the porch. My Mom noticed I was looking around as I heard birds chirping and had one of those "what is that" looks. My Mom summarized that I had never heard birds chirping and I was wondering what that noise was. Now it pains me to think...does my son not hear the birds chirping? Does he not hear the beautiful different quiet sounds of the little world he lives in? that hurts...and hurts deep. I wish like anything I could take that problem away from him and give him my "good ears" so he can hear properly. What a Mom wouldn't do for her children...I'd walk through fire for him.

So we're on the road to finding an ENT and figuring out what is the problem with my son's ear. I pray to God that this is easily helped. I feel as a Mum (I spelled it wrong on purpose)that you can never do quite enough to help your kids...especially in this situation. Obviously I am going through all the processes and procedures to do everything and anything I can for him, but its taking a while to finalize it. I wish I could do everything in less then a week. Obviously thats asking for quite a bit. I just want to fight like mad for him. Make sure he's okay. Do what I can for him and remember to have a little more patience.

So my advice to any parents reading this board...if your child has a speech delay and hasn't seen an ENT...go see one NOW. Also, contact Child Find because as much as it hurts your parental pride in admitting anything is not 100% perfect with your child...they really are wonderful.

I'll keep you posted on whats to come.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Changes

So this week was less then stellar. I had so many positive things to write...before Monday happened. I'll just keep that in the vault for another blog post another day when I am feeling more cheery, less stressed out and have reached a good level of sanity.

On Monday, I got the dreaded call from day care. Seeing them on my work caller ID was not very welcomed as usually getting a call from them means nothing but bad things. I was right as I picked up the phone and was informed that my son had bit another child while they were napping and I was to pick him up. I was further informed that he would be suspended for THIRTY DAYS! I knew this was possible per the last warning, but that was over a month ago and I figured the grace time was enough between the biting. I was wrong. I was further dismayed that the President who made this decision was not even available to sit down with me for a meeting or talk over the phone. That did it for me, my son was never going back. I called my husband to pick up our son because it was one of those weeks I had to work and to be honest I was quite emotional about stepping foot in that place.

Soon after my husband got home with my son, he gave me a ring. The front desk just told us he had bit a boy. However, we were further informed that my son and his cot was kicked REPEATEDLY by another little boy in the room. My son had enough and because his verbal skills aren't like the rest of his peers, he told him to stop the only way he knew how. I don't condone the biting, but it wasn't out of the blue either. WHY the heck the teacher who witnessed the multiple kickings didn't one protect my son bothered me a HUGE deal. It further nailed down that we would not be going back. They obviously can't handle two year olds.

So while I sat at work (feeling quite helpless mind you), my husband started seeing what he could do to solve our little 30 day suspension problem. I had a few VERY tearful phone calls to my parents about the days events (thank God there was an empty conference room) and was told that my Mom could watch my son three days this week. Thank GOD! Then God gave us an angel, because my son's GREAT Grandmother (who has more sturdy and energetic then I am) volunteered to fly up from Miami and spend the thirty days with us while we looked for another day care. She really is heaven sent because not only is she doing this and disrupting her life, but she's missing out on two very major holidays with her husband...Christmas and New Years. We had another blessing in the fact the plane ticket was NOT priced at an insane rate.

Tonight Great Grandma flies in, which is a nice relief. I am sure we'll be spoiled in our house with some yummy Russian cuisine (she likes to cook for her "kids") and mys on will see his beloved "Gaga" again. In the mean time we're touring day cares left and right to see what will be the best fit for my little guy.

There is a silver lining to all this stress, in that my son will have a fresh new start where ever he goes, "Gaga" will spend some quality time with the family and we'll be saving a few bucks on day care.

Life is so complicated some times, but in summary..."the will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Songs You Sing

Last night while watching a new beloved show (Glee), I was surprised to hear them sing an old song titled 'Smile'. It is a song known to me by watching My Girl years ago and was also sung by Judy Garland at one time. It is an old song, a classic to me, but I didn't think it would be "popular" enough of a song for the show as they typically sing a lot of pop songs. Needless to say, I was happy to hear a new generation singing it.

'Smile' has a special meaning to me. As a kid, when I watched the movie My Girl, it ingrained in me that I would someday sing that song to my children if I they were crying and feeling blue. I guess I live my life in some ways like musical (which I happily blame it on my parents need to show me culture and the arts) despite my inability to sing well, but that is what I imagined as a kid. So when I found out I was pregnant, I would softly sing my little boy the song "Smile" even before I knew it was a him. I would sit on a rocking chair in his nearly empty nursery, rub my growing belly and sing. Once my son was born and would wake up during odd hours of the night for feedings, I would always softly sing 'Smile' to his sweet, little, infant face as he filled his little belly and fell asleep to the melody. As he got older and if something scared him or he just needed that extra bit of TLC, I would sing softly again his little song. He always quieted down.

Now days my little boy typically wants to be held only for split seconds or at some rare moments will be held longer if something is making him afraid. He's usually too busy to be held unless it suites him. However, this morning was a little different. It has been a while since I last sang him our little song, so I scooped him up and sang. At first when I picked him up, he scrambled in my arms wanting to be free to do "his thing", but quickly settled down in a little quiet trance listening to me sing. We were at peace and he stayed with me tucked in my arms until the song was over.

I'll be honest when I say that I probably haven't sang him that song in months. There was no real reason to sing it to him as he is my little "go getter". Things hardly phase him now days. I just find it remarkable he remembers, that it still soothes him and that for a little while longer it can still be our little song together.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Christmas Season Has Begun!

It is that time of year again...its Christmas! It is truly one of my favorite holidays and something I look forward to each year. This year is a little bit more amazing as my little guy is figuring out what Christmas is all about. Seeing the joy and magic of Christmas through a child's eyes is nothing short but amazing.

This year I triumphed by decorating the house early and mostly by myself. Last year (after some lazy complaints by me), my husband took pity and decorated the house while I was away one day. It was a nice surprise, but it was also a week or so before Christmas, so I did not have the usual month long enjoyment of relishing in my decorations. I find that nothing is more joyous then turning on the much loved classic Christmas music and taking out sentimental Christmas decorations.

I don't decorate my house like Martha Stewart and I'm okay with that. I have different loves of snowman, Nutcrackers and St. Nick and have little figurines for each one. Snowman always remind me of the Frosty the Snowman cartoon and how happy and jolly he always was. Snowmen (and snowwomen) just make me smile. St. Nick reminds me of well St. Nick or Santa Claus, but I love having different representations of them from matroshka dolls, to painted "HoHo" signs made by my mother, to a real life representation of THE St. Nicholas would of looked like (staff and all). My lovely nutcrackers are a real representation of my childhood as I used to see The Nutcracker production every year at the Steven's Center in North Carolina. Radio City hall or any other production I've seen has never came quite as close to magnificient that one was. Every year as a child, The Nutcracker ballet would renew my love of my Mom's store bought Nutcracker as I would cradle it like Clara used to and would wish at night that I would be brought to the world of Sugar Plum Fairies and the Land of Sweets. Then there are my Moravian tin angels. I should say that too is another huge fragment of my childhood. I remember going to Old Salem (not the one you probably are thinking of) and walking through the cold streets of the old moravian village during the Christmas season. Often my family would take horse drawn wagon rides through the old town. I would also love smelling the aroma of bee wax candles as we entered the different shops. So each year as I take out my carefully wrapped tin angels from the box, a huge aroma of bee wax candles hits my nose and it always brings me back to those simpler times.

At last there is the Christmas tree. One of these years we will have a real one, per my husband's request, as he had real trees off and on as a child. I just really don't want to mess with them. I laugh every time thinking of my already pre lit Christmas tree when pulling it out of the box, because I was damned determined to get something already pre lit due to Dad's hostility each year with the Christmas lights. I did not want a repeat of that one. My Christmas tree, much like my decor around the house, isn't thoughtfully planned out in matching colors, organization or theme. It simply is yearly decorations I have received as a child into adult hood that have sentimental meaning. I have my American Girl Collection Samantha doll ornament that always reminds me of that one lucky Christmas I got my Samantha doll as a present from Santa Claus. I think that year was also the last year I truly believed that there was a Santa Claus. I have different assortments of White House ornaments that I have received over the years with one being dedicated to the Garfield administration. Enscripted on the ornament box with my Mom's beautiful (it really is beautiful) handwriting, she talks about the memory I had as a child visiting Garfield's home in Cleveland. In short, the memory was me being all excited about going, which surprised my parents. They finally figured out (after watching me look around for something in particular and then the disappointed face of their child) that I thought we were visitng the home of Garfield the cat, not Garfield the former President. I also have a ornmanet that is a little chipmunk selling hot nuts on an old vendors cart. That one always reminds me of our yearly visit the day after Thanksgiving to downtown Cleveland. Between Tower City and The Arcade, there used to be a deliciously smelling store that sold hot nuts and my Mom ALWAYS bought some yummy cashews. I have so many more memories all wrapped up in the different ornments that are hung around my tree...the trip to NYC with my sister and Mom, the angel my Aunt made, etc., Each have a story that belongs solely to them.

I am sentimental in my decorating and hope that someday the same decorations will have some sentimental meaning to my son and whatever children I have. What they will be, I am not sure quite yet. However, as the years goes on and the magic of Christmas returns each year, there will be surely more beautiful and wonderful memories that will be made and I can't wait to experience them all.