Just call me Jiji

…me, just pretending to be me ….now, where did I put that cape??

Archive for the tag “Disney”

Has it been a year???

Yup, and so much has happened. I haven’t kept up with this blog as well as I would have liked – You know, the whole “Life, getting in the way of life” thing…

As previously posted I plan to improve on that!  I feel as if I’ve left some ends dangling…

One of which has been Leon’s story. I’ve gone on and on about it, good and bad, but mostly bad.

So I wanted to make the time to talk about the wonderful progress we have made.

Here goes:

I am so very, very PROUD of my little man!!! He has been doing so much better!

Better in school, at home, and with his friends. Better in life!

I was so apprehensive about the new school year, but so far 2nd grade has been a breeze. And as much as I give credit to the new meds, that alone is not what has made the difference.

Not only did Leon made Santa’s List –

 “http://family.go.com/santas-list/video/86271-leonsmom/” 

 …but the principal’s too!!!!!

Here is a little background:

After having such a rough year in 1st grade, least not of which was a 6-year-old Leon leaving the school during recess undetected and walking all the way home by himself, the school quickly realized it would be in their best interest (and Leon’s of course) to re-evaluate their position. Afterall they denied him the 504 plan and refused to classify him the first time around (Oct 2008). After a long summer of waiting to find out what the school would be doing to assure his success this year (and hopefully for the years to come), I received the call the day before we were to leave on our 2 week vacation to Disney, a meeting was finalized for the day after we planned to be back. I spent much of my vacation on the phone with Dr. E. Petrosky and a Special Education attorney by the name of Brad Rosken because something that the director of the CSE said just did not sit well with me. When I had inquired about a parent member being at the meeting, she told me that, it was unnecessary as they would not be classifying him, and that this was to be his 504 meeting.

WHAT!?!?!? NOT CLASSIFYING HIM? WHAT???? 

I was very disturbed by this, after all not only did our doctor, Dr. Petrosky, recommend that he be classified but so did the Psychiatrist that they had sent Leon to, to be evaluated by. Dr. Petrosky is the one who contacted the attorney on our behalf because he felt that the school and CSE were not following due process. First of all the decision on what will be done with Leon is to be made by the entire CSE team, and as his parents, we are part of that team, so the decision to classify him or not, can NOT be made prior to the actual CSE meeting of which we must be a part of. Secondly they were calling for a 504 meeting when what we had requested was a CSE meeting. I was so worried that they were going to screw us and that we would have to borrow money to hire the attorney. Initially I wanted to reschedule the meeting so we could bone up for the fight I was expecting, but in the end the attorney suggested that we go to the meeting and just hear them out. If they were going to give Leon everything we wanted for him as recommended by the doctors who evaluated him, under a 504 plan than there would be no sense in rocking the boat, but if they were going to deny certain essential services then we should ask for an impartial hearing. We decided to follow his advice, and boy were we pleasantly surprised! Leon got so many of the recommended services that we have nothing to complain about. The only thing that I am still confused about to this day, is that with all the services that he was given, why then isn’t he classified? I mean anyone who knows anything about this and has read the final decision has said that it is written up exactly like an IEP yet because he isn’t classified it isn’t and can’t be an IEP. Friends who work with special needs kids have all said that I need to question why he isn’t classified, given all the services that he was given, but I am at the point where I just don’t want to rock the boat. He is getting exactly what he needs and that’s what’s important. I just hope he will continue to get what he needs…

As per his 504 Plan he has a BIP (Behavioral Intervention Plan) in place, a TA to accompany him to his ‘specials’ (ie gym, music, art, lunch, recess) and to help him stay on track in the classroom, he sees an OT once a week, and gets weekly counseling with the school psychologist, and in 2010 he starts social skills group every other week. He is in an inclusion class, which is wonderful because there are always at least two teachers in the classroom at a time, which is great for keeping Leon redirected when necessary. My most favorite thing about his whole school situation this year is not a thing but a person. Ms. Kelly, his teacher happens to have been a school psychologist, prior to becoming a teacher. Her love of the classroom prompted the unusual career change, and I gotta say I am so thankful for that. She is a wonderful teacher. She gets Leon, and she doesn’t fall for any of his shenanigans. She can see 10 steps ahead and cut him off at the pass. Because of this, life in 2nd grade is grand. I barely hear a peep from the school unless it’s about another PTA committee that I could not just say no to.

As for the meds he is currently on, Leon has been taking Concerta and Clonodine since Aug ’09 and they seem to work very well in helping him to control his ADHD. He puts more thought into things before doing them and he has mellowed out and isn’t bouncing off the walls every moment of the day, he is a new and improved Leon on them. But I do worry about the side effects. I really have to watch what he eats, or better said, I have to make sure that he does eat, he’s a stringbean to begin with, so the loss of appetite thing is a bit worrisome.  I used to have the opposite problem of him having a bottomless pit for a stomach, and hearing “Mooom, I’m hungry!” every five minutes. But now getting him to eat is a task and a half.  Then there are the mood swings. He can go from 0 to 60 (and back) in a matter of seconds. The side effects aside I am very, very, happy with his medicine regime. It has made a HUGE difference in his life (and mine too).

Between the meds and all of the accommodations in school and at home, the difference to his life knows no bounds.

In school, he does so well behaviorally, that Ms. Kelly and Mrs. Novick, the school psychologist, were hard pressed to find many behavioral issues from this 2009-2010 school year to base the BIP on. They based it mostly on the issues of the last school year. I give a lot of the credit to all the accommodations and services that are in place for him in school. Having such an intuitive teacher and a bunch of TA’s following him around certainly reminds him enough to stay on his toes. At our parent-teacher meeting in early December, Ms. Kelly let us know that academically he was doing fine. The only real issues were related to her being unable to read his writing and some of his test scores reflect that. Normally he gets over 100% including the bonus question, but the lowest grade he’s gotten so far was 60% in spelling because it was complete scribble. The answers were correct mind you, but it just was not legible. Other mistakes occur too, resulting in some lower grades in the 80’s and 90’s, as a result of his not taking the time to listen to the directions prior to starting the work, or his rushing through the work (often out of boredom and/or a fear of not being able to do it correctly – in other words, it’s too easy, so forget it and let’s just get it over with -or- it’s too hard, so forget it and let’s just get it over with). He ends up making very careless yet avoidable mistakes. Leon is still Leon afterall, he’s still always in a rush to get to the next thing, he’s just gotten a lot better at handling that -but improvement is still necessary.  As someone who did very poorly in school and was just happy to get a barely passing grade, I am very pleased with Leon’s grades. Even the 60 on his spelling test; I think it serves as a good lesson for Leon.

His report card, which was AMAZING, reflected all of this. The difference between last year’s report cards and this year’s is more than remarkable. It’s like he’s a different kid. He received mostly 4’s (meeting learning standards with distinction) and 3’s (meeting learning standards) with only a few 2’s (partially meeting learning standards) in only two areas. Whereas last year there were 2’s all over the his report card in several areas. The two area’s that he needs improvement in, are; “English Language Arts-Writing” where he received a 2 for ‘Writes legibly’ which he is working on in OT, and “Development of Learner Behaviors that Support Academic Progress” where his 2’s where for; Accepts suggestions for improvement, Follows directions, Organizes work space and materials, Demonstrates pride in the quality of work, and Approaches learning experiences prepared with necessary materials. Even the less structured areas like Art, Music, and Gym produced all 3’s and 4’s which was unheard of last year. I am more than pleased with Leon’s report card and all of his wonderful progress.

Behaviorally Ms. Kelly said that “While Leon still has his moments where his emotions get the better of him, for the most part he really is no problem at all, he is such a good kid that she wishes she had 10 of him in her classroom”.  

Ummmm? TEN Leons??? Really??? Are you sure you are talking about my kid????.

I’m kidding of course, but there was a time when that comment would have really shocked me. Now… not so much! He has grown into such an easy, pleasant child to be around. And by that, I mean not a “difficult child” to be around. He has grown and matured so much. Don’t get me wrong, he still has his moments. Boy! Does he ever, it’s like I said, Leon is still Leon, but now those moments come fewer and farther between. 

At home, life although still quite hectic and very chaotic, is more at peace now, if that makes any sense at all. He still gets very “emotional” about things, he still has yet to identify his emotions and learn to react to them appropriately. He still has his melt downs, and they do get quite explosive (perhaps even more so than before) possibly because of his meds, and possibly because like I said those moments come fewer and farther between, so when they come, they are BIG. Still, we are managing better.

So many things deserve credit for the changes we’ve seen . The meds help, of course; the absence of “reports of bad behavior” and the presence of constant “recognition for terrific behavior” from the school helps; the services and accommodations put in place under the 504 Plan at school help; the increased pride and new confidence in himself helps; and among so many other things that are intertwined and connected with it all; love being at the very tippy top of it; understanding helps.

Ours, his, and theirs. We; Ron and I, are doing so much better at handling the slip-ups, the outbursts, the emotional break downs, and the everyday-everything of it all (both Leon’s and our’s) because we understand so much more now. We make accommodations for him, for his ADHD. We run the house differently, we prep for “the next thing” differently, we talk to him and each other differently, we focus more on the positive and dwell less on the negative now, all because we better understand the nature of Leon, and his, …and this is important, HIS individual ADHD/ODD, differently. I stress individual because no two people with ADHD are exactly the same. similar yes, the same no. Leon, himself also understands. I feel Leon has such a better handle on himself this year as compared to last year because of his own understanding of ADHD, as much as a newly turned 7-year-old can understand it, that is. And because he understands that while he can’t control that he has ADHD/ODD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/Oppositional Defiance Disorder) he CAN control how he deals with it, things are that much better.

Leon has learned to put more thought into what he does now before he does it. He has learned to stop himself a bit better before his impulses take control. For the most part anyway, we do still have some of the “what were you thinking?” moments of the old days. But even that gets handled differently now because we are more understanding and accommodating.

Like when I discovered several wads of gum stuffed between the cushions of our couch and loveseats just a couple of weeks ago. Granted, the “what were you thinking?” award really goes to my mom who bought Leon a huge tower of gum balls in varying sizes (the large ones being the size of Leon’s fist) in the first place. But Leon got the runner-up reward, for sneaking them, then hiding them in between the cushions, and then lying about them when presented with the evidence.

 

I am not a huge fan of gum, but I do know that gum can actually be good for you – as it can help in the increase of concentration, and help prevent cavities, provided it is the RIGHT type of gum (specifically, sugarless gum). I knew that when he opened them as a birthday gift that there would be trouble. My instinct to take them away and hide them was right, buuut it was a gift from my mom for his birthday and it would not be right to keep it from him.

(Although I have to say ‘blatant disrespect of my wishes and rules for my child’ isn’t right either!) – sorry had to rant.

Rather than keep them from him, we came to an understanding, Leon asked me to trust him, and I agreed, so long as he followed the rules, (the same rules I have always had), which are; You must ask and have permission before you have one, you must wrap it in paper when you are done, and you must show mom that you are throwing it out properly. Yes, yes, I know, some what redundant and annoyingly controlling however, this is what I mean by accommodations. In the end when all was said and done, and Leon fessed up to it, things were calm and rational and fair. We didn’t yell and scream, although I was/am pretty upset about it. We discussed it and dealt him the punishment calmly. Leon didn’t cry or have a fit over it, (okay there were tears but he was trying to hold them back)he knew there were consequences and accepted them. I was actually quite pleased with how well everything went down. And all because we are understanding more and more each day about ourselves, each other, and his ADHD.

Socially, Leon is doing so much better as well. He has developed more meaningful relationships over the past year. He interacts with them so much better than he used to. His understanding of give and take has become more refined. And he gets more involved with the person rather than just the activity. He has a ‘best friend’ named Jason, who he gets along very well with. Personally I LOVE them together. For one thing, Jason is always a pleasure to have around, he is polite and kind, and always on his best behavior, and this rubs off on Leon. They both enjoy the same things; Disney, Star Wars, Lego’s, Stitch, Pokemon, and of course video games. They play very well together and don’t rile each other up too much, if at all. But the thing I personally enjoy the most about this pairing is Jason’s mother. She is a wonderfully caring person. We parent very similarly, she’s a great mom and a very good friend. Definitely a plus in my book. The behavioral specialist who observes Leon in class twice a month, tells me that he plays very well with him and another boy in particular at recess. I am glad that he does not focus all his attention on just one friend, else he might get hurt. As with any friendship there will be ups and downs. Just a few weeks ago Leon was upset because Jason did not like him anymore (he said that Leon was too annoying, and that he talked too much). I can’t blame the kid, it’s true! After a talking about it with him, I realized Leon was taking it so much better than he would have last year. His solution was “that’s okay, cause Nick still likes me, maybe Jason just needs a break from me”. And, based on the playdate they just had I would say he was right.

My biggest regret for Leon socially, is that I can’t get him and his friends together more often. He craves the company of other kids his age so badly and between my issues with my fibromyalgia and my working from home it makes things more difficult to provide him with that on a regular basis. Being an only child certainly does not help either. At least having a sibling around would alleviate some of the boredom and loneliness. Kiera my niece, who is here 5 days a week does help a bit, but there is a 5 year age difference between them, so it isn’t the same.

We are very lucky to have a few neighbors with children ranging in ages from 6 to 12 all around us. Luckier still that I have been able to become good friends with them. Leon plays a lot with Jackie and her sister in particular. Not only is she our neighbor but she is also in Leon’s class. I do have to admit that their friendship while not forced, has more to do with convenience of proximity and the fact that her mother and I have developed a very close friendship that extends beyond our kids. It makes me laugh because Leon has clarified that even though he plays with her a lot she isn’t his best friend because she is a girl. 

So beyond the “normal” social awkwardness of childhood friendships, Leon seems to be doing a lot better socially than he did a year ago when he so wanted to be friends with anyone and everyone just to be around other kids, but other kids could care less if he was there or not. I consider it a very marked improvement, when other children are actually asking him for playdates as well.

So there you have it. When it comes to Leon, Life is Good!!

I am excited and hopeful for his future… but a bit nervous too.

…with the Section 504 Committee scheduled to meet next week to review Leon’s educational services, I can’t help but be a little bit nervous. I worry that they may take it all away (or even just some of it) because he has done so well, rather than recognize that keeping the services in place is the key to keeping things going well.

ADHD/ODD is a lifelong neurological disability, full of unexpected highs and lows. I will always do everything in my power to make sure Leon has only a few bumps in the road on his journey though life.

Here is to keeping the highs, high and the lows to a minimum!!!

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Just a Quicky!

Been up to my ears in activity!!

I haven’t had time to breathe let alone blog about whats been going on. It seems everyday there is something to do. It’s life getting in the way of life. Today is just another really busy day, but I thought I would stop to take a quick breath and jot down a quicky blog post.

Boy this summer sure went fast! It started with crummy rain storm after rain storm, leaving us wondering when it would actually start to feel like summer. When the weather finally improved and summer activities could truely be enjoyed, we were busy with day camp, and summer festivals, days at the local pool, camping in PA with Leon’s grandparents, and of course all the regular ole’ daily grind stuff.

Camp ended last week just in time to remind me that “Oh crap, summer is almost over and I am not even ready for that!!”  

There are :

5 weeks till the Kids Kloset Consignment Sale – which I haven’t even started to prep for yet. Nothing like waiting till the very last minute. But I am hoping the $$$ I make will be enough to plan the next Disney trip — yes I am Disney Addicted

25 days till I start caring for my good friend’s 5 month old Nico – a new baby in the house!! Yay! I just hope Kiera and Leon feel the same.  I am thrilled about this. Not only am I helping a friend out, she is helping me out more than she knows. When I stopped watching V it put a huge dent in our finances and fueled quite a few arguments about money between Ron and I. After catching up from being so far behind in debt, we really don’t want to slide back into them again. PLUS – Nico really is the cutest baby ever (after Leon that is, of course!)

18 days till school starts -EEEEK! I mean YAY! I mean EeeeeeeeK! — yeah I have some mixed emotions about this, BIG TIME!  I worry so much about how this year will go for Leon. And I know the first few weeks will be busy just getting into the swing of things, I will have a CSE meeting to look forward to or to fear, I don’t know which yet. And to top it all off Leon just started a new medication today. Here’s hoping he tolerates it well!! I’ve got mixed emotions about this too.

8 days till we leave for Disney – I can not wait!! I still have so, so, so, much more to do before we go – packing, tie-dyeing, costume making, crafting, and more…

1 Day till our weekend in PA camping trip – I’ll admit, don’t love camping , but I do love getting together with family and makeing memories. It reminds me so much of my childhood with my grandparents and Aunt Kathi and Uncle John. GREAT MEMORIES! I am so grateful that Leon gets to make such wonderful memories.

2 hours till Leon’s “Almost 7” Birthday Party – decided on and planned at the very very very last minute – 5 days ago to be exact- because Leon “really really really wants a pool party and not just a boring party at home” – I think I am offended at that.  After all I am: “Da Mom!!” I throw the BEST birthday parties! Seriously if I were to start a buisness, that would be it!  Theme Parties are my specialty. I’ll have to share some pics of past parties some time.

But right now I have to get Leon’s Almost 7, Lilo and StitchStitchcopy Luau Pool Party packed up to go set up at the local pool. Fun, fun, fun!!

So much to do… so little time

tinkerbellkitchenBusy, busy, busy…

I feel as if I am always busy, always trying to accomplish something, finish something, start something, organize something, or clean something. Yet none of it ever seems to get done?

There are the things I don’t really want to do, but I have to do; like cleaning up the house, and grocery shopping. I am very very lucky in that Ron helps out around the house A LOT. I mean A LOT, a lot! And for that I am very, very grateful but I often feel guilty, embarrassed even. I love that he is so good to me and helps me out so much because of my Fibro, but sometimes I secretly wish he wouldn’t talk about it so openly to everyone else. Like when someone calls and asks what he’s up to and rattles off a list of household chores that he is planning on doing. Granted he is doing it to alleviate me and keep me from doing so much that I get a bad flare-up. But not everyone remembers that. I am the SAHM, I am the one who is supposed to be taking care of the household while he brings home the bacon, (although I do bring in some bacon). So I try to keep up with the house as much as I can on a daily basis. I hate when he gets home from a long day at work and sees the house is a mess and feels he has to clean it up even when I insist he leaves it because I will get to it.

It seems I just can’t ever get it all done. Having my 18 month old niece (whom I babysit on a daily basis) running around undoing everything I do gets exhausting. I feel like I am never, never done cleaning. It seems like while I am busy cleaning up one mess she is busy making another. My day pretty much consists of me sweeping up after her 2 or 3 times a day (she’s got a good arm, I’ve seen her fling chicken clear into the next room); mopping up spills, feeding her, changing diapers, picking up her toys over and over and over  again, all while trying to keep her entertained at the same time. By the time I am finally done and ready to hand her over to her mom, it’s time to pick Leon up from camp. Now my attention is turned to him. Given his ADHD and his need for things to be just so and for immediate gratification, life gets even more demanding and exhausting. I am his mom, his playmate, his personal chef, his maid, his sounding board, and his entertainer. By the time Ron gets home there’s a new mess to clean up and I am exhausted mentally and physically. With all the running around I do all day I end up with nothing to show for it. I HATE THAT!

Then there are the things I need to do but have a hard time accomplishing it. Like finding a good doctor for Leon to manage his ADHD/ODD meds that won’t cost us a fortune. This week alone I have spent about 6 hours on the phone between doctors and insurance, and CSE just trying to get what Leon needs. And I still have NOTHING to show for it. I need to find a child psychiatrist that works with children with ADHD/ODD and takes my insurance. I also want to get Leon in a social skills class. That should not be too much to ask, right?. Wrong. I started with calling MDs that were recommended to me by other MDs and parents of children with ADHD. That didn’t work. Then I called the insurance company and got a list of names. Most of the doctors are too far away, or don’t take my insurance anymore and the rest have yet to return my phone call. All that time and aggravation and still nothing! The MDs that come so highly recommended and don’t take my insurance or any insurance are unbelievably expensive. One quoted $675 for the first initial visit and $190 for every once a month visit there after. The one that CSE was helpful enough to recommend is in Manhattan and would give me a discounted rate of $200 (instead of $400) per visit –  Add the commute by train or gas and tolls, not to mention travel tome – it’s a steal! NOT!!! My insurance will cover 80% of what they consider  is reasonable and customary for out of network costs but only after we meet an additional$2300 out of network deductable.  So given the options the next step is to find a neurologist in network that has knowledge of children with ADHD. Hopefully this will go better.

I also feel I need to find a way to make more money. The obvious choice would be to get a job, but I already have a job – two in fact. my #1 job is as Leonsmom. Being a mom is an extremely hard yet fulfilling job. Being a mom to a child with special needs, a child who is disabled is a bit harder (and still equally fulfilling). My second job is helping my sister out by providing childcare for my niece (and for those of you who know me well and know my sister – you all know how difficult that can be).  Up until recently I was providing childcare to another little girl. But that ended in May around the time Leon was having so much difficulty with his ADHD. At the time I was fine with her leaving because I really needed to focus on Leon and what was going on with him. But now that things have settled a bit, we are really feeling a loss of that income. Idealy I would like to find another child to care for but I want to wait till school starts for that. In the meantime I want to find a way to earn some money for the little extras we want to do this summer like camping and waterparks and cub scout activities and our trip to Disney at the end of next month. The trip itself is all paid for already (less than $100 a day for all 3 of us including tickets, airfare, and hotel – can’t beat that!) but we still have to eat. Some things I’d like to do in the hopes of making some extra money is have a garage sale, collect empty cans for deposits, and create tie dye Mickey shirts to sell. I just don’t know where to find the time?  

Lastly are the things that I want to do, but just can’t seem to start, or if I do start them I just can’t seem to finish ’em. For lack of time, or funds, or talent, or whatever. Like have the garage sale or make the tie dye mickey shirts (not just to sell but for our trip as well). I also want to create some iron on designs for our trip.I want to find time to actually sit down and plan out our Disney trip and what we are going to do there. I want to put together an ADHD binder, with all the information that I have collected about this disorder and how it pertains to Leon. I also want to write up a detailed history of Leon’s ADHD in a handout that I can just give to whatever new doctor will be treating him. Something I can keep updated through out his life for whatever come up. I want to put my pictures together and make scrapbooks rather than just leave them in my computer.  Additionally I want to find time to blog. I want to blog about how well Leon is doing since being completely off the Zoloft, and about how our summer is going and the camping trip we just took, and my plans for Disney, I want to blog about the results of Leon’s assessment with the amazing Dr. Petrosky, and my hopes (and fears) for our CSE meeting. right now I am using Kiera’s nap to write this instead of making calls or cleaning 😦    And I want to do so so much more……

I have to…,

                       I need to…,

                                                 I want to…

                                                                   …but when???

 

There is some GOOD news. Ron and Leon are going to be away for the weekend on a Cub Scout camping trip, and I will be home all by my lonesome. I can not wait!! I plan to unplug the phone, blast the music, dance in my underwear, paint my nails, and oh yeah, one or two of the things listed above 🙂

Project11

There is a light at the end of the tunnel..

 

…and it’s got

Mickey Ears!!!!

 

Light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel

Yup, we are going back to Disney, …AGAIN!

Originally we had planned for a fall visit in Oct, for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. But given all of Leon’s problems in school I am wary about taking him out for 5 days mid-year. So we are leaving in 2 months. We will be there from Aug.29 – Sep.8. Unfortunately this does mean that Leon will miss the first day of school. It stinks, but it was the lesser evil. We can’t wait.

Things have been busy and hectic around here. Leon is completely off the zoloft and seems to be doing better, and by better I mean not as bad as he was. When people ask how’s Leon doing, I usually answer “he is doing good”, and in my head I am silently thinking “…well good for Leon, anyway”. He is more manageable, but the fact remains that he still has to be managed. Now that school is out, I think things may be a bit easier for Leon now because we will have alot of one-on-one time together. We still have not recieved any word on when his CSE meeting will be, but it should be soon. I am hopeful, the school psycologist seemed very positive about the outcome. We’ll just have to wait it out and keep our fingers crossed. I have yet to find him a child psychiatrist to manage his medication, we may go with a neurologist instead, it will all depend on our insurance and what Dr Petrosky thinks. We will meet with him once the school sends me thier neurologist’s report for him to include in his assessment.

 I am somewhat excited about summer but dreading it too. Summer vacation means I need to be even more ‘on’, for more time during the day, when it comes to dealing with Leon. Aside from the half day camp he will start next week, I am hoping to fill our summer with  play dates, trips to the beach, to the pool, free movies courtesy of REG’s Free Family Film Festival , and free bowling courtesy of KidsBowlFree.com. We are also hopeing to get away on one or two weekends to PA to visit his grandparents at the campground were they have a seasonal site.

For myself I would like to put time aside just for me,  to work on planning for Disney, organizing my photos, and working on my new hobby of digital scrapbooking. I’ve been promising to do a trip report on my last two Disney trips for some time now and I figure I better get to it before my next one. And since my photographs are what help me to tell my story I will incorperate my scrap booking into it.

Here is my first 2 pages:

feb20nyc-mco

gettingoofypg

I’m still fiddling with them, .. I am unsure if I really like the first one, but I think the second one is cute. What do you think?

 

TTFN

What’s so special about today?

It’s Ron and my 9 year wedding anniversary today, and with all that has been going on we all but forgot to celebrate. It’s been a rough couple of weeks and things just keep piling on. I’m emotionally and mentally spent with all that’s been going on with Leon because things are continuing to escalate with him. Ron is stressed over work both in the office and at home. Like I said it’s been a rough couple of weeks. We’ve had bad days before and we’ll have bad days again. So today, on our anniversary we barely mumbled Happy Anniversary to one another. I’m okay with that though, because today is just a day like any other day.

I mean really, what is so special about today? It just a plain old Thursday, a Thursday that just happens to be 108 months after Ron and I said I do.  That’s 469 weeks or 3,287 days ago. Wow! We have been married for 3,287 days! That’s a lot of days. I can’t say that every single one of them was great. Like I said we’ve had plenty of bad days, Ron has had bad days and I have had bad days, together and separately. Some how we always have been there for one another unconditionally – if it happens to him, it happens to me and vice versa.  And one thing I can say for sure, is that there have been many, many, many more good days then there have been bad. Both the good and the bad times have made us that much stronger and that much more in love with one another.

We’ve been married for 78,900 hours and while we haven’t spent every single one of those 4,734,034 minutes of that time together I have loved every single 284,042,097 second of it!!!

So what’s so special about today?

EVERYTHING!

 

 i love you, ron!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Pocketful of Sunshine! (slideshow)

Pictures from my life:

 


On turning 40…..

This has been A GOOD month, a fun month. So much has gone on, I have so much to tell,

Firstly…

              NOW…

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Funny huh? I can't take full credit though, I got the idea from a T-shirt, although that IS my real hand - LOL

 

 

 Besides turning 40, my niece turned 1. We had a wonderful Ladybug party for the little Love Bug here at my house.

I got my new computer! WoooHooo! Now I can make this site into more of a photoblog.

I got even more addicted to Facebook and passing “Notes”

I traded in the opportunity to get a new camera for my Big 4-0  for a weekend trip to Disney World on my birthday with my husband and son (sooo worth it – but still working on the camera).

Leon came back from our trip with the flu (we think) and had to miss 3 days of school (Ugh!!! I’ll be in the principle’s office soon enough.)

The monthended with me throwing myself a Narcissist’s 40th Birthday Party which was great fun! (Hey, I deserve to be Queen for a Day – or in this case a week or two or three) And the celebrations just keeps continuing.

 

I promise, I will go into our fantabulous trip to Disney in detail (and include our tale of woe which covers Leon getting sick) very soon!!! But right now I want to talk about my birthday. It is all about me after all!!!!

I have to say that this has been my bestest birthday ever!!! It even beat out my 25th Birthday which was up until now my bestest birthday ever. Ironically I celebrated that one for about two or three weeks too. My actual DOB falls on 2/21  but I would say I started celebrating it this year on 2/18 when my dear dear husband told me that I could go ahead and book Disney for the weekend if I wanted to use my birthday money towards that rather than towards a new camera. It was a hard decision given that I really, really NEED a new camera and I really, really wanted to go to Disney for my birthday, in the end I realized that I could have my cake and take a picture of it too, but I would just have to wait a bit longer for it to develop 😀 . Plus I am an immediate gratification type of girl (there’s that dang ADHD again). So we went to Disney from 2/20 to 2/22

Without going into too much detail about our trip now, I’ll just say it was nice to plan a trip to Disney that revolved completely around me, me, me! Of course I did consider Ron and Leon in my plans… but still even in doing that it was still about me, after all whatever makes my little one’s heart fill withjoy also fills my heart with joy. The planning fell into place and despite a few bumps while we were in Disney, I could not help but smile and think this is the bestest birthday ever the whole time we were there! And both Leon and Ron did everything in their power to make all three days ALL ABOUT ME (even when my poor little guy got so sick). I believed the hype so much that I even bought myself a little tiara in Disney to wear to my Pajama Party that I had invited the girlfriends who mean the most to me to. I even got caught up in the hype about the pajama party – I think it was at that point, when I bought the tiara that it became a Narcissist’s Birthday Party. Granted I was the one who hyped it in the first place but my friends certainly did help build the hype. As I stated in my previous post, my birthday wish not only included going to Disney World on my birthday but also to spend it with a small gathering of close friends, eating, drinking, and laughing the night away without spending a ton of cash.

My initial intentions of having a just a small get t0gether of 4 or 5 friends grew to about 11 or 12  friends. I realized that I wanted a fun ladies night in with the people who I feel a close or growing friendship with. Woman who have touched my life in a positive way at one point or another. I don’t neccesarily consider myself to have a lot of friends.  It can take a while for me to consider someone truly my friend. What can I say I don’t fall into friendship lightly – plus I kinda think that sometimes I just don’t generally like people 😉 – so for me to consider someone a friend they must be truly a genuine person. So while I may not have many friends, the friends I do have, fill my life with love and laughter and a genuine feeling of friendship and family. I could not think of any better way to celebrate ME and my 40th than with people who help make me who I am.

My close girlfriends are made up from different parts of my life and have all influenced me and become a part of me. I have known my closest and best friend for well over 25 years, we are so close that not only is she my best friend but we have become sisters by choice, she is my family. The only friend that I have known longer and felt just as close to as we’ve grown up together, is my actual sister by birth, whom I feel so close to, that she is not only my sister but also my best friend.  Another long time friendship is with someone I met when I started working for the airlines 20 years ago. We’ve worked together, traveled together, SCUBA dived together, and shared lots of laughs. We get together once a week to play games or watch movies. Then there are “my mommy friends”, a great group of  5 gal pals that came together from different but nearby towns and grew in friendship,  first by way of a mom’s yahoo group and then through the local Mother’s Center, because we all had the same thing in common, we were all first time moms looking to share our experienceswith other women who were going through the same things we ourselves were. We’ve all grown togetheras moms and as women over the last 3 to 4 years. And more recently I’ve been bonding with two women who started out as my neighbors and I am pleased to say have become good friends. I look forward to our friendship continuing to grow as we bond at the school bus stop over stories about one of our nutty neighbors, the PTA, how much the principle rubs us the wrong way, and on occasion a margarita or sangria (not at the bus stop of course). We are The Real Housewives of Blankity-blank Avenue & Blank-blank Dr :P.   …seriously you didn’t think I would give out my real street names. We watch out for each other’s kids and have get togethers for them and for us. And last but not least is someone whose company I have always enjoyed when our husband’s got togetherand we tagged along. I’ve always felt from the start that she is a genuine person and would make for a wonderful friend. Most recently she has come to my rescue more than once when the gremlins would attack. And for that, along with her friendship I am truly grateful. These are the woman who I invited to my Pajama Party on 2/28

My request of each of them was,  NO GIFTS!!!! Just indulge me in the whole Potluck – Pajama – Game Night– Party thing, by bringing a yummy appetizer, wearing pajamas, and be willing to play games. I was sad to see that not everyone could come in the end. The fact that my PMS hit that same day didn’t help when I started counting up all the cancellations. Let’s just say I was a little irrational and there were some hormonal tears and some mutterings about “nobody loves me, no one wants to come to my party” 😥 . But then people started showing up and I got over it. Besides those who could not make it all had very good reasons. I missed them and they missed a good party but I am sure we will make up for it.

We had a BLAST!!! The food was great. We had bacon wrapped scallops, stuffed mushrooms, brie & raspberry wrapped in filo, hummus, bruchetta, potato skins, shrimp and asparagus salad, taco dip, spinach dip and chips, brownies, and let’s not forget the CHOCOLATE FONDUE. Do you know how good Peeps are in fondue????? And then of course there was the Verdi (which I will have to admit I started early) and the Sangria!!!!(which became my drink of choice), regretfully I never did get to have a White Russian. Everyone came in their jamies and I of course wore my tiara with my favorite candy stripe PJ’s.

Me in my candy striped PJ's with Leon

Me in my candy striped PJ's with Leon

We played a game that I had put together called “You’re how old?”. Basically I printed out about 30 pictures of famous celebrities and everyone had to try to figure out if the person was older or younger than me. We also played “The Game of Things”, my new favorite game (although, apparently not everyone elses 🙄 ). I had another game that we were going to play called “How well do you know the Birthday Girl” It was a question and answer game about ME,of course, you know, to fit the Narcissist theme. But I guess I got a bit self-conscious when The Game of Things kinda went south. Don’t get me wrong it was alot of fun and the game did draw a lot of laughs (and snorts – there was lots of snorting!!) but I got the sense that not everyone was into it. I definitely had an awesome time and it definitely added to the fact that this has been my bestest birthday ever.  You know you had a good time when you go to bed giggling out loud to yourself. I am pretty sure everyone else had a pretty good time too. Apparently one of my friends spent the next morning giggling out loud to herself while blow drying her hair. Now that’s a sign of a good time 😆 

I did get gifts after all, although I really, really, did not want anyone to get me anything. The whole point was to have an inexpensive night out. Plus the best gift of all, that any of them could give me is totally free and I already have it from them. That gift is thier friendship! Although I am very thankful for the scanner that a few of the ladies chipped in for, the very nice tart warmer, the wine called “Mommy’s Time Out” (how cute is that!), the gorgeous orchid plant, and the invite for a night out. But I am most thankful for thier friendship.

I celebrated my birthday on the next night too, with my mother and sister. We went to a wonderful Hibachi restaurant called Wasabi. It was fantastic! Luckily the fact that I was starting to get sick did not get in the way of me enjoying the food or the company. Ron and Leon came too, of course and it was fun to watch Leon watching the chef do his thing. We had a really good time. Our family has had it’s ups and downs over the years but in my “old age” I have come to really appreciate them. My mom has been through so much in her life time and has sacrificed so much for my sister and I, I am very lucky to have her – despite our differences. And my sister, well I think we are coming full circle. We’ve always been there for one another and always will be. 

Next Sunday will be the last of my 40th birthday celebrations. We will be going to Ron’s parents house for a fun day of games and a birthday dinner. I look forward to going, we always have fun when his family gets together. I am very blessed to be a part of their family.

In the weeks leading up to my birthday I’ve done a lot of thinking about turning 40. I think everyone does when there is a milestone to celebrate (or for some people, mourn) . There seems to be this fear of turning forty that a lot of people have. I didn’t have that. I thought a lot about my life and where I am, and I am happy just being me. Granted I am not exactly where I thought I wanted to be but I am in a good place. I don’t own my house but I do have a great home, I don’t have 2 or 3 kids but I do have one very amazing son, I don’t have a high paying job that affords us a life of luxury but I do work from home making just enough to help keep up with the bills and still afford a few small extras. I like myself and I like where I am. I couldn’t always say that. I can honestly say that I am much happier now than I was 20 years ago. I have a home and a wonderful family and terrific friends! It’s good to be FORTY! It’s good to be me!

For me, turning forty has been a celebration of me!

What a week!!!!

I hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s weekend. I sure did. On Friday Leon fell and hurt his hand. When I asked to look at it he said no I had to wait till Valentine’s Day. When I asked why he “said well I’ll tell you but I can’t show you yet, it’s in the shape of a heart so you can only see it on Valentine”s Day”. I love my little man!!

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Valentine’s Day was very nice! I got some very nice cards from Ron and Leon. I gave Ron his gift with a note attached that said “Now we both have a nice set of cans” …I gave him two garbage cans. LOL.  The best part of the day was finally getting a new computer. A friend of ours “built” one for me. I think I am a little scared of it. I’ve got to learn how to navigate Vista and Open Office now. They are both new to me. I’ve got to say I really like Vista’s Windows Photo Gallery. I can’t wait to play with my pictures. And now I can truly make this a photo blog!!

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Sunday was a nice day too. I planned and hosted a 1st birthday party for my niece. I love planning parties, especially theme parties. My sister and I decided on a ladybug theme. We toyed with a few other ideas, but then we found the perfect ladybug dress and the decision was made.

 

 

 

The party was a success and lots of fun to plan. We used red, black, and green streamers and balloons to decorate my house. I also used red and black paper plates and black pipe cleaners with some scissors and glue to make  cute Ladybug decorations. Ladybug decoration made from 1 black and 1 red plate

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I bought some sun catchers for Leon to paint so that he could be a part of the planning.
 
 
 
This is the no sew tutu I made for Kiera and the super cute Ladybug hair clip I found at www.itsy.com.
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We found some cute ladybug soaps from http://www.bigdotofhappiness.com/ and my sister made cute chocolate lollipops to give out as favors. The kiddies got a separate bag of goodies too.
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We also put the chocolate ladybugs on the cake we ordered from BJ’s and set the table with a red tablecloth topped with black dots.
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The party was fun …

  …for more pictures of the party check out my photo website http://jillo.smugmug.com/gallery/7394040_dhHTR#476300226_ZXLLu

Speaking of Birthdays, mine is coming up!
I will be the BIG 4-0 this coming Saturday. Woo hoo!
I had originally planned on celebrating it with the whole family this Saturday and then on the following Saturday I plan on having a small gathering of girlfriends at my house for a Potluck Pajama Party Game Night. It should be fun. I’ve asked my friends to come in pajamas (like I said, I love theme parties)and bring an appetizer to share, I will provide the liquid refreshments and the game. It’s called the Game of Things and it’s great for a ton of laughs. I still have the decorations up from Kiera’s Party so I won’t need to decorate. Some friends (well actually only one) has expressed concern over the fact that I am throwing my own party, but really it’s just how I want to celebrate my birthday. A small gathering of close friends, eating, drinking, and laughing the night away without spending a ton of cash. That’s my birthday wish, actually my birthday wish was to go to Disney World again, but I just did not see that happening, so I planned a night with friends instead. 
Well guess what, I won’t be spending my Birthday this Saturday with the whole family, I’ll be spending it with Mickey Mouse!! That’s right Ron and Leon are taking me to Disney World for my Birthday. I just found out yesterday and we Leave the day after tomorrow at 6am. WOOOOOO HOOOO!!!  So now I’ll have to write up two trip reports. I am very excited to say the least. well, I’ve got to get packing now…
TTFN as my pal Tiger would say.

My first ever “Newsletter”

Today, I sent out a year end “newsletter”. My first ever. I’ve always liked the idea of newsletters. It’s a really nice way to keep up with what’s been going on in our lives. It’s unfortunate that life has a way of getting in the way of life. And as a result the tendency to lose touch with friends and family is inevitable, at least for a little while. So the newsletter just like this blog is my way of reaching out and touching someone. I wonder who will touch back?

Here’s a copy (with just a few omitions for privacy):

Hiya,

It’s still January so I still have time to wish everyone a Happy New Year!I did not get any Christmas Cards out, but I did manage to get a few New Year’s cards out. For anyone who did not receive one I apologize but either I did not have your address to begin with or I no longer have your address. 2008 was a pretty good year for us, although there were a few pitfalls as usual. This year we won a small (but very helpful) settlement from my car accident back in 2005. We were able to use it towards our debts and still manage to keep some aside to go on a well deserved trip to Disney World for Leon’s 6th Birthday, with the help of the money I am now making in my new position as full time childcare provider for my brand new baby niece. Yup I became an aunt this year, i can’t believe she will be a whole year old next month. I also sit for another cutie patootie about 20 hours a week. I don’t make as much as I’d like, but it helps pay the bills ( and got us to Disney!). We celebrated Ron’s 20th Annual 4th of July BBQ with friends and it was a blast, despite the rain. We are looking forward to this year’s BBQ and hoping for sunny skies. Leon started 1st grade, joined Cub Scouts and started taking Karate. He was having some problems in school in both Kindergarten and 1st grade as well as at home, but fortunately he is doing sooooo much better now after being diagnosed with ADHD and getting the proper treatment. Through testing we got conformation of what we already knew, but I have to boast anyway. He is in the very superior range with an overall IQ of 138 and he reads at a third grade level. Watch out Bill Gates my kid is a ROCK STAR! I was lucky enough to travel back to Germany for the first time in about 5 years, and realized how much I had missed going. I joined a Disney discussion board and made some new friends, I joined Facebook and reconnected with some old friends. Last month I started a photo blog which I intend to keep up regularly. Well, due to technical difficulties it is just a blog right now but as soon as I can start uploading pictures again it will be a photo blog with at least one photo per post. Hopefully you will check it out from time to time and leave me a comment or two.

It was definitely the year of technical difficulties. I almost turned Amish when everything electrical I touched turned to #@$%. My van died a few times this year (electrical problems), my camera was destroyed, and my computer died and was resurrected several times this year (thanks to Laurel) until it’s final dimise on Christmas Eve. Currently I am using a loaner until I can purchase a new one which should be very soon (again with many many many thanks to Laurel who is DA BOMB!). As a result of all my computer woes the worst of the worst of 2008 for me was losing all my files and photos!!! That included most of my addresses and phone numbers for everyone, some files I relyed on for info and about 90% of my digital photos from the last 5 years. YES, I KNOW, I KNOW, I AM AM ASS! I should have backed up my files! We have tried to retrieve them but no luck. It completely and totally breaks my heart!!! So much of Leon’s life was documented through those photos. Plus pics of Ron and I are gone, as well as pics of friends and family. The year ended with our magical vacation in Disney which I plan to fully document on my blog in a trip report, complete with pictures, information links, and one on one interviews with Leon and maybe Ron if he will co-operate, as soon as I get a new computer; a wonderful Christmas with close family at home, and a proposal. My sister said “yes”!

For 2009, I see myself getting a new tricked out computer (fingers crossed), a decent new camera (maybe for my birthday?), and going on at least one trip back to Disney for sure. At least that is my hope. I will have to bide my time and save up however because we also expect to have quite a bit of medical expenses coming our way over the next few months. And I predict that we will NEED to buy one if not two used cars. Both mine and Ron’s cars are on their last legs, err, I mean tires. But I am confident that we should be alright as long as we are careful with our spending. We have finally gotten to where we can actually pay our bills and I plan to keep it that way. I’ve been toying with an idea of maybe makeing some extra cash as a face painter for children’s parties – but for right now it is just a thought in my head. Once I get my new computer up and running I plan to keep my blog interesting with lots of pictures and of course my Walt Disney World Trip Report. I’d like to get into scrapbooking (calm down Heather), I mean digital scrapbooking, and begin making slide shows and home movies. (this is where the tricked out computer comes in). I am turning 40 next month, so I need to find a way of preserving my memories before I lose any more pictures or the rest of my mind!

I have a request, if you have any photos of Leon, Ron, myself, my mom, my dad, my sister, my cat, my mouse when I was 10, my teddybear, my grandma, my grandpa, my in-laws, my cousins, my friends, my whole entire family, my life …you get the picture, could you please send it to me?? Please contribute anything you think I would enjoy. Thanks!!!!

Here’s hoping the end of your 2008 was better than the begining and that this year will be even better than your last.

Send me an email or stop by my blog (yes, I am shamelessly promoting my blog all over this email), let me know how you are doing. And please include your info as well. Like I said, my computer wiped out my address book, so I need addresses, phone numbers, emails, birthdays, websites, blogs, etc…

Smiles,

Jill

Christmas is the reason…

…I have not been back here in a while.

Christmas snuck up on me this year.  I spent most of my year enjoying  planning for our big trip to Disney. We left for Walt Disney World on Thanksgiving morning and stayed for 10 days. It was wonderful. I came home with over 1300 digital photos, some great memories & stories, a bunch of souvineers, a much emptier wallet, and only two weeks till Christmas. Holy Cow!! I still had presents to buy (and wrap), a live christmas tree to find & decorate (twice it turns out, -it fell once and sadly, most of my ornaments – my grandma’s ornaments – broke), a home to decorate (inside & out) and a menu to plan for 16 people coming to my home on Christmas Eve. I love to go all out. It can be stressful but mostly it’s fun. I live for this stuff!

Every year my husband, son, and I, celebrate Christmas Eve in our home. We invite our entire family to to celebrate with us, to have dinner and to exchange gifts. As the years pass, our guest list has grown larger and larger. This year we had 16 for dinner. I was happy to do it. Christmas Eve at our house was a blast. We all had a great time. However coming home just two short weeks before Christmas really made things very hectic around here. Sooo…that’s why Christmas is the reason I haven’t kept up with my new found blog.

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