Beautiful Hannah Rose

MinnieHappy Birthday my dear sweet Hannah Rose! 

Eight years ago today you came into the world at 11:10 pm on your actual due date, making you the first female in our family to be on time for anything.  Dr. K. said it was the most perfect birth he had ever witnessed, and I *knew* that God was right there in that room with us.  When you were born, Dr. K. put you in my arms and you raised your little head and looked straight at me.  It was the happiest day of my life!

I love you more today, eight years later, than I could ever have imagined then.  You have brought a magnitude of hope and sunshine into our family.  I admire the way you see the world, your sense of humor, your gratitude and appreciation for life.  I am honored that I was chosen to be your mother and I just want you to know I so enjoy the life we have together.

This morning I noticed the note and picture you left on the fridge.  You drew yourself with me, Alex, Aubrey, Dad and three little dogs, and wrote:

“I love my family each and every day.”

hannah ballerina

Ditto, beautiful Hannah Rose– we love you too!

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Happy Birthday Hannah Rose!

autism home rescue 0510201201Dear Hannah Rose,
It is hard to believe it has been 7 years since you were born, my beautiful Hannie Bananie!  I am so proud of you in so many ways that I’m not sure I even have words for them all.  I still peek at you sometimes when you are sleeping, just so I can marvel at how tall you are getting and remember how tiny your feet once were.  You are a wonder and you constantly surprise and delight me with your views on the world and your creative ideas.  For your birthday today, I want to put into writing just a few of the many daily reminders I have about how incredibly lucky I am to have you as my daughter.

Over the last year there have been many changes in your young life.  You went from living in one home to having two homes- from living with Dad, Alex and me to alternating between Daddy’s house and my house and having Alex live away from us.  You welcomed Aubrey into our lives with open arms and a big smile.  You became an excellent caregiver for two chihuahuas and two new geckos.  You said goodbye to Mom Mom.  All of these changes had challenging moments, sadness and joy.  And we navigated them together and helped each other.  You helped people in ways you didn’t even realize, you helped just by being compassionate and thoughtful, trying again & giving people the benefit of the doubt when conflicts happened, and making us all laugh sometimes when we most needed to!

Each night at bedtime we say prayers.  We always start with something we are thankful for, and remember that we’re lucky to have each other and be a family together.  These are the things I am grateful for today:

  • the way you stole Aubrey’s hat, then told us that we could be a rock band because I had the sunglasses, Aubrey had the tattoos & you had the hat & could sing
  • your gentle pat on my arm this morning to wake me up
  • how you crawled into my lap after I lectured you about using nice words, and just put your head on me for a minute so I knew you heard me even if you were too stubborn to admit it right then
  • how eager you are to help and be part of what’s going on
  • the pictures you drew of all of our family members and how you told me that family is the people who are special to you, no matter where they live and if you were born with them or not
  • the way you talk to animals with respect and understanding, and how you always make sure they are as okay as the people we are with
  • your love of science and nature and your willingness to try new things, even if your first instinct is to stick with what you already know how to do

These are tiny examples, my beautiful Hannah Rose, of the many, many things that make me feel proud of you!  If I listed all the things I could think of, this letter would be as long as a big, fat dictionary!  For now, I’ll tell you one more thing and then I’ll leave my computer and go back to hanging out with you:

The picture below was taken at a little coffee shop a few weeks ago, on a day when you didn’t have school and we got to hang out for the whole morning together.  It was a Mom-Hannah day, running errands and laughing and planning and plotting.  When we stopped for this break, we shared a scone and you tasted my piece of quiche lorraine.  We talked about the decorations on the wall and what we liked about them, we made observations about the weather & the plates & tried to figure out what the other customers might be going on to do in their own days after they left.  We were just there, together, enjoying being mother and daughter.  It was somehow “timeless” for me, just a random moment that felt so good not for any particular reason, but because I love you and you love me.  And as you always tell me, that’s what really matters.

autism home rescue 0510201202

I love you Hannie Rose!  Happy Birthday!

:~) Quote for the Moment (~:

autismhomerescue11241101“Miss Rhode Island, please describe your idea of a perfect date.”

“That’s a tough one.  I would have to say April 25th.  Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.”

~from the movie “Miss Congeniality”

 

A re-publish of one of my favorite posts:  One hour in another time ….

 autism home rescue 0104201101

:~) Quote for the Moment (~:

autismhomerescue11241101

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

~ Thorton Wilder

Our first teacher tribute: Tigger Takes a Swim

… important things i do remember …

Happy Birthday Mom Mom!

“Beauty is a heart that generates love and a mind that is open.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Today is my mother’s 67th birthday.  Happy Birthday Mom!  My apologies for plastering your age all over the internet.  But the thing is, I think 67 is pretty darn young.  Be proud of it, you are beautiful.

This morning as I trekked to the train station in a foot of snow, the wind rushing through the trees sounded just like the ocean.  Each step forward, my boots sank into slushy snow and my ears heard another wave crash onto the beach as “ocean spray” stung my face.  It seemed fitting considering we had all spent Christmas together at my mother’s house at the Jersey shore.  Midday on Christmas day we took a drive along the boardwalk and watched the ocean.  My daughter and I played a game of “which do you like better?” and concluded snow and sand are equal in her book.  …..

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
hope owlWhen I logged onto WordPress this morning to write a new post for my mother’s birthday, I found the above already written from last year.  Begun, but never published.  Isn’t that the way life goes so often?  Projects started, plans made, but we’re all ultimately following our noses from one moment to the next.  That doesn’t make me feel sad, I think it’s actually the way things are supposed to be.
 
This year there is no snow.  Christmas was very different.  I feel optimistic about my family’s future.  And I know 2012 will bring wonderful things.  So to honor my mother on what would have been her 68th birthday, a list of the important things I do remember:
 
faith
  • God is always present.
  • Love never dies.
  • No matter what happens in relationships, the connections we feel & the memories we have are ours to keep forever.
  • Cats are companions, and they are not as aloof as dog-lovers would have you believe.
  • There’s a way to dice onions into perfectly square pieces & this is how they should be cut for Grandpa’s turkey stuffing recipe.
  • If you love it, buy it– it will work.  Trust that the colors & patterns you love will work together as long as you are following your instincts & the finished creation makes you smile.
  • Scents carry memories.  Cinnamon candles & Obsession perfume bring you back to me, Mom.
  • Everything has its place, and you can always make room for the important things you want to keep.
  • If it makes you feel better to be a little obsessive about keeping track of things, go ahead & do it, no one’s gonna mind.
  • Most everything can go in the dishwasher.
  • People who don’t like to sit on the porch & enjoy the weather with a cup of tea or a glass of wine just haven’t done it enough to really appreciate this simple pleasure.  Try Tension Tamer tea or Woodbridge Merlot.
  • Take every opportunity to travel the world & meet new people!
  • Take lots of pictures, keep your notes about trips– your friends will appreciate these reminders of happy times.
  • Laugh often.
  • Love much.
  • trust-your-heart-sampleThere is a plan for every one of us.  Trust.
  • Be respectful of your neighbors.
  • A couch in the kitchen is the best place for an afternoon nap.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • Women are just as capable as men.  If someone thinks otherwise, prove them wrong.
  • No matter what you remembered or forgot to buy to *cook-decorate-fix-or-update*  a  *meal-home-thing-or-outfit* you can always improvise and make something beautiful with what you already have.
  • Keep a spare key just in case.
  • Share.
  • Take a deep breath when people drive you nuts, and try your best to hear where they are coming from.  It doesn’t mean they are right, but it will make you feel better.
  • There’s always a Plan B.  Trust that truth, and don’t panic.
  • Be proud of your family traditions & the good things about your own culture & background– celebrating diversity means celebrating *everybody*
  • If you have hard day or you get stuck in a bad habit, destructive pattern or depression, forgive yourself & start over.
  • It’s okay to use cuteness to your advantage.  A sweet smile goes a long way.
  • You will remember everything that is important.  It will be okay.

Grateful!

tree of lifeIt is raining today, but still I am grateful.  All the people I’ve spoken with for work have been cranky & depressed & difficult, but still I am grateful.  I didn’t run, I had a crappy breakfast, I’m kinda tired & coming down with a cold.  But still, I am grateful.  My son is in residential treatment, family members are struggling with finances & lay offs, my dad is being treated for cancer. 

But I am oh-so-grateful today!!  Wanna know why?

Because today I saw a facebook post from a friend who is cancer survivor.  She said her friend Rachel is “hanging on to see her baby turn 3 tomorrow.” 

“Cancer sucks, I’ll say a prayer.” I thought. 

So I looked up Rachel and I started to read her blog.  Just a few sentences changed everything for me today.  Go read about her journey, you will find inspiration.  Because of a brave, honest, beautiful woman I have never met, my gratitude list is longer today.

Gratitude girl

Today I am grateful for:

  • The rain.  It makes me have to be more aware of where I’m driving, it is cold & wet & I can feel it on my skin.  I have to react to it, have to experience it, and it reminds me I am part of a bigger world.  Nature surrounds me every day whether I agree with it or not.
  • Difficult people.  They call me at work because they need help.  When they don’t have the strength or ability to be calm & rational, sometimes I can be the calm they need.  I could hate my job today & complain about them.  Or I could see their crankiness as an opportunity to do something positive or at least to find the humor in my daily grind.
  • Residential treatment.  I saw Alex yesterday on his birthday.  He was freshly showered, had soft new pajamas, was in good spirits.  A bunch of the guys there– all kids around his age with autism– were watching “Alvin & the Chipmunks” (Alex’s favorite movie) in the common area outside his room.  One of the staff turned the overhead lights down so the lights from the newly decorated Christmas tree were sparkling, making the whole room pretty.  The kids were smiling– and yeah, some were flapping or jumping or rocking, but in a happy way.  Alex’s room felt cozy, he liked his Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup plush pillow I brought him, he gave me a hug.  I told the staff the place felt peaceful.  And when I left, I felt peaceful, too.

 

Thank you, God, for giving me this life and not someone else’s.  I am so grateful for my physical health, for my home, for the material things I have that give me comfort.  I can hug my kids, I know that they are safe.  I have love in my life, I have friends & family who sustain me through challenging times.  I am a child of the universe & I can feel that & know it.  I can recognize miracles & have the ability to talk about them and share my good fortune.  Thank you, thank you for all of that. 

Please Lord, help me to remember how blessed I truly am and to never take these things for granted.  Amen.

 

manifesting

Happy 11th Birthday Alex

charming alexDear Alex,

Last year on your birthday, I wrote a blog post which included some of my favorite memories of you through your first decade of life.  This year, as you begin your second decade, you are living away from me at a residential treatment center.  My heart is torn about this whole situation.  I love you so very much, I want you to be home with me & with Dad more than anything else.  But at the same time I know that the people where you are living now can give you tools for healing that I am not able to give you by myself.  This year I don’t care so much about organizing your birthday letter to make it memorable or sweet or funny.  This year I just want to tell you from my heart all that I love about you, how much I believe in you, how no matter where you are a part of my soul travels with you and always will.

Do you know, my beautiful boy, that I have always believed in you & your abilities?  You have never liked it when I’ve talked about you to the doctors, teachers, specialists.  I know that you understand every word I say and that you & I have a special almost-psychic connection.  Just like any boy with his Mom, you get embarrassed when I boast about your talents, you get frustrated when I talk about your challenges.  Sometimes you roll your eyes when I try to kiss you in public, or you pretend you are too cool & don’t hear what I say– but I know you take in every word.  When I need to talk about you, I choose my words very carefully.  I feel that if I need to convey important information, it is my responsibility to represent you in the most respectful, truthful, loving way possible.  To you maybe it seems like I disclose too much information, but please know that no matter what words I use, in my mind you are standing right beside me whispering to me all the thoughts you aren’t able to speak yourself. 

Do you know, my beautiful boy, how much I admire you?  Whenever you have been faced with new situations, you have always made the best of it.  I remember the first day I took you to preschool.  You weren’t sure what the heck I was doing, but you didn’t cry that first day.  You put your game face on, you jumped right in and tried it, and you made it through to the other side.  The second day you were a bit taken aback that I was bringing you to school again, but you weathered that day, too.  After that, we had all the typical separation anxiety & insecurity– just like any little boy would have– but you got through it just fine.  In your short life, you have had to be more adaptable & flexible than any other person I’ve known.  Change isn’t easy for you, your life circumstances have often been confusing or scary, but you have always bounced back from the rough spots.  Your resiliency inspires me.

alex hannah snowy dayDo you know, my beautiful boy, how proud I am of you?  Wherever you go, you make new friends.  You help other people.  You remember your little sister.  You make people laugh.  You invite others to play.  You give hugs freely.  You use the words you have to express the important things.  You ask for what you want.  You have a compassion for others that is deep & amazing, and when you hear someone in pain, you want to know that they have friends, that they are being helped, that they will be okay.

Dad and AlexDo you know, my beautiful boy, that you are loved?  Ever since you were born, the world has embraced you.  You have a big, close, loyal family.  But more than that, you have helped to build a truly remarkable village which surrounds us all.  There are many teachers, friends, neighbors, doctors, helpers from each year since you were a preschooler who regularly check-in to see how you are.  Many of them read this blog because it is important to them to know that you are okay because you touched their lives in such a big way that they will always remember you & love you.  There is quote from my favorite movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” which goes “No man is a failure who has friends.”  By that standard, at age 11, you are the most successful person I know.

mom and alexDo you know, my beautiful boy, that I will always be with you?  From before you were born, you & I have had a special, unique connection.  When I was pregnant with you, someone told me that “to have a child is to make the decision to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.”  That probably sounds gross to your 11 year old ears, but what it means is that no matter where you are or where I am, I feel our special connection.  When you are happy, it makes me happy.  When you are sad, part of me cries too.  It’s like that feeling you get when you hold hands with someone and you know they are right there next to you.  That connection between us will last forever. 

alex workbookDo you know, my beautiful boy, how special you are to the world?  When you were very little, we started saying bedtime prayers together as a family.  Each night we would start with the same words:  “Dear God, this is Mommy & Alex, and tonight we pray to say thank you for making us a family together.  Please watch over all the people we love & keep them happy & healthy & safe.”  I told you then that God can hear all the words, even the words you have inside your head.  That is because you are important to the world, and everything about you was made to be unique & special.  I prayed that you would come into my life & be my son.  When you were born, I felt blessed in incredible ways.  But as you grew, I began to understand that Dad & I weren’t the only people blessed to have you in our lives, we were just the first two.  I realized that you are a gift to the world and that just through your being the person you are, you will change the world for the better in many ways.  

alex and mom in the mirrorDo you know, my beautiful Alex, how grateful I am to be your Mom?  I love you more than words.  I believe in you all the time.  And I look forward to sharing the next decade of your incredible journey with you.

 

Love,

Mom

xoxo

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