Archive for April, 2011

June is the New Spring

April Wrap Up: Wrapped in Love                          

In recognition of April being Autism Awareness month, Just Add Kids welcomes Colleen Nagle, a Burlington mom, as JAK’s guest blogger.

Autism is easy to misunderstand, misinterpret and mislead.  My son is the master of disguise and the best way to understand our kids is to assume nothing.  That is, assume only that they are kids, children, teens, silly, loving, intelligent and, well, simply put, no different than any other kid.

Everything I have been told about Autism is wrong. Everything I know about Autism I have learned from my son.  My son with Autism.  He loves me just like his typical siblings love me, he cries when he misses me and he smiles when we are together again.Read more…

He cannot speak.  He has never been able to express his favorite color or cartoon or game.  My heart longs to know him, to know the little everyday things: to know that he has favorites; to know that he likes the food I serve him; to know if he is happy; and to know that he loves me.

But he finds a way.  Always adapting, my son finds a way to let me know what is on his mind and surprises me with his creative way of reaching me.  Now it is my job to reach others.  I must interpret for the world what my son is telling me.  He speaks to me with his eyes.  In a single look I can tell what he is thinking: I know when he is hungry, when he has a migraine, when he wants to take a bath, and when he wants a hug.

My letter to my nonverbal son:  I Can Hear You With My Heart.

I can hear you with my heart.   I listen with my eyes because you speak to me with your soul.  A glance from you tells me what you need: your requests for food, attention, hugs, if you are in pain, sad, or depressed.  All of your inner thoughts become mine through a bond we forged while you were still growing inside me.  A bond that has strengthened and evolved due to necessity, for, for your survival, we must grow closer.

I must be on high alert at all times:  ready to feed you when hungry, hug you when you are sad, play a game with you when no one else knows you want to interact.  As you sit there in silence I must know what message you are sending me.  “Mommy, I am lonely” your eyes tell me.  So I color with you.  “Mommy, I am in pain” your eyes tell me.  So I hug you, but my hugs are not strong enough.  You want squeezes and deep pressure.  You seek what you need, as we all do.  All people have desires and needs, you are no different.  You squeeze me and I look into your eyes and say, “Ouch! Too hard!”, but I know what you are telling me.

You are no different than any other 13 year old boy: the puberty, the hormones, the temperament.   I think of your older brother and his daily needs and how his needs are being met, and yours are not.  I think of your brother at school, talking, to pretty girls and laughing.  While you notice pretty girls, all you can do is smile and blush.  I think of your brother and how he plays football at school, he and the other boys running, hitting, yelling, and laughing.  You have the same need to run, hit, yell and laugh, but your needs are not met.  You attempt to find your own outlet: rough squeezes, hits on our arms, pulling on teachers and tackling your peers.  But, you are misunderstood and disciplined and eventually expelled from school.  Alone, at home, we sit together, we work together, we learn together.  Writing in your notebook today’s vocabulary words while sitting at the kitchen table, you pause to look up at me with appreciative eyes.  I hear what your eyes are telling me.  My own eyes swell up with tears, “I love you too baby.  Someday you can go back to school and be with your friends.”  My heart breaks that only I can hear your voice:  the sorrow, missing interaction, friends, and being a child on the playground, running, chasing, laughing, and feeling free.  Tirelessly, I fight to be heard.  You are a loving and beautiful boy and someday others will understand your strong squeezes for the communication that it is, and not misunderstand it as misbehavior.  They are your outlet, your way of venting….your brother tackles on the football field, you tackle us on the couch.

The neighborhood kids run through the streets on their bicycles and scooters in front of our house, in front of your window.  They yell and scream, and they fight and misunderstand each other.  This is growth and accepted as a part of adolescence. Yet,  it leaves you wondering.  You wonder why when you make loud sounds that strangers make, even at school you are told to “shhh”.  You wonder why when you protest as other children so often do, your mom is called to bring you home.  Together we wonder when the world will see that you are just a child behaving like a child.  I see you for who you are. I love you for who you are. And I admire you for never giving up. For the way you keep smiling, laughing and loving.  Take pride in who you are my sweet child, for you are a genuine soul. I love you and I can hear you speaking to my heart.

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Focusing on the Family…

…The Extended Version                                 

Perhaps, this commentary will be long and extended.  I don’t know, I am just starting out.  However, the focus is on my “extended” former work family.

I lost a former co-worker yesterday.  She passed away after a half year battle with lung cancer. While I wouldn’t say Marie and I had a tight, on-going friendship, there still is and has been a special place in my heart for her, as well as other members of my Metroparent family. Read more…

Marie was hired only a few short months after I was back in 2000.  She, the creative director, whose talent was most evident from the reputable front covers of the monthly magazine.  And me, one of three full-time advertising sales reps.  In all, there were only about a dozen employees that pulled together and brought to the market several publications and special events…all women, with the exception of the head of our team, our publisher, “the man”.

It was a great place to work for many reasons.  Not only did we have the best products to sell at the time, we had some amazing people.  Not always a perfect office, however, there existed a code of respect and fun that superseded any short-term disagreements or animosity.

Between Marie and I existed a common bond….”Neighbor Dave”, her next door neighbor.  After having my husband work on her house,  her “Neighbor Dave”, became our “Neighbor Dave”, my husband’s new business partner.  Oh the stories we would tell!  Then, there was a couple of codes only she and I shared: “W” for when our fashions, including fingernails, were purchased at Walmart, and “JDBJ”…okay, there were a few others clued in on the latter.  I will NOT disclose.

Toward the latter part of the last decade, our happy little family, started to disassemble, most on their own accord.  One by one.  Finally, it was my turn.  I got the boot.  Yup, fired.  Okay, we’ll use the more p.c. phrase, which is what was used on me “you are being separated from the company, due to the need to reduce our workforce”. It was a beautiful August day, and after hugging a couple of my co-workers, I needed to exit the building.  Walking out out onto State Street and across the road to the parking slab, I heard a voice calling my name….”Oh my gosh, Paula”…it was Marie.  The look of shock.  Another family member gone.

Because of what I was up to (Just Add Kids) and yes, I was grieving a bit, I kept things/communication pretty low-keyed.  A few months later, our former editor hosted a great reunion  “Metroflashback” party in November of 2009.  Great time!  Hoping this isn’t insensitive, yet I store memories in my email.  Here is the email from Marie to the group.  She recapped our evening and her feelings:

OMGOSH! What a blast!!! Edie what a great party...

Anne-so GREAT to see you-you look great and I¹m so happy for you in so many
ways- you are very brave to move away from home and have new experiences...
Erica- You know how I feel about you! Miss you all over again!
Edie- You are still in the lead for BEST EDITOR of metroparent
Paula-It was Gods plan for you to get laid off- you look so relaxed and seem
so into family life.
Todd-The best boss ever. We worked hard, we had fun and we were HAPPY. Not a
lot of people get together years after like this. ( We really did work!)
I¹m sure we totally embarrassed you! Sorry. Lori looks so thrilled in that
last picture!
Nancy- You family is beautiful! Once I borrowed you glasses and saw that it
wasn¹t Anne¹s boyfriend!
Barb- WILD WOMAN! Be careful!
Jackie and Becky... Don¹t ever miss another party like this- Too funny!!!!

Marie

Another "family member" responded:"I agree it was a wonderful party. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. 
All the great memories made us all realize how lucky we were to work at 
Metroparent and great co-workers we had. Boy, we sure did have fun (and like 
Marie said...we really did work)."

When we found out that Marie was diagnosed with lung cancer in early October, our family pulled together, headed by matriarch Erica, and delivered food, gifts, movies, magazines, letters, and poured out endless prayers.  We communicated, probably weekly, with updates Erica received from Marie’s sister.  Some good news, some bad news.  Setbacks since Christmas time, and finally the word about a month ago that her time left on earth would be brief.

In the last couple of weeks, our mp family members created individual squares for memory prayer blanket, which has yet to be finished.  I got to see Marie for the first time in over a year last Wednesday and again, this past Sunday.   She was staying at a beautiful hospice facility, situated on a curvy parkway.  These both, I was told, were “good” days for Marie.  On Wednesday, she was sitting up, something she hadn’t done for a couple of weeks.  She was excited for her sister to visit, so that she could show her this victorious feat. Her dad strolled her outside in a portable bed.  She referred to it as her “cadillac”. Oddly enough, in the midst of this run of yucky weather, those two days  were gorgeous….amazingly, spiritually sunny and warm out.

As I reflect back on my few last chats with Marie,  in the last year and a half, I am reminded of the sun, a source of energy and warmth.

I’ll see you later, Sunshine.  I know you moved on peacefully.

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All My Children’s…

…Clothing: Corduroys and Boys                                 

I’ll just start out and say it…not a good match!

After having 3 girls in a row, I’ve had a lot of experience with the girly wardrobes.  My two oldest daughters are 22 months apart, so you know #2 got all of #1’s hand me downs.  With the exception of being  the projectile vomiter and having the normal diaper blowouts in her baby years, #1 did very little damage to her clothes.  Damage to mom’s and dad’s clothes absolutely!  It was as if a target was on us, with regurgitated or digested breast milk and rice cereal as the ammo. Read more…  But that was pretty much it.  Her clothes were quite impeccable, which interestingly, has carried over into her teenage years.  Poor  #2, rarely ever had her own original clothes.  That, however, has changed, now that she is a teenager.  There is a distinct difference in the fashion tastes of daughters #1 and #2, now 16 and 14.

So where does daughter number #3, next in line, fall?  With 6 years in between #2 and #3, there is a bit of a mix.  I saved some of my favorites outfits from #2.  Yes, some items did survive.  Though of course,  there were some clothing items that just couldn’t be resurrected, such as the bib overalls, once cute on a 5 year old, yet 6 years later…not so much.  Number 3, also, so much harsher on her clothes then her predecessors .  If I would’ve had a 4th daughter, very few things would’ve survived.  Biggest culprits: the paints and magic markers.  All four of my kids are amazing and passionately artistic.  Yet, #3 is a magnet for creating an equal amount of artwork on her shirt’s and dresses’ sleeves and bodices.

So now let’s go back to why we first came here.  #4, my one and only boy.  What a train wreck!  (and I say this will every ounce of love and adoration) Nothing survives this child. Stains galore! Holes, holes and more holes!  The worse culprit and the whimpiest item of clothing are those dang corduroys.

Last year , my son attended a private school where wearing either chino/twill or corduroy pants were in code.  So of course , I varied his Monday through Friday wardrobe to include a nice mix navy and khaki.   But dang, if sonny boy didn’t blow holes into his corduroys within a matter of a couple of wears.  It killed me!  After experiencing the throwing out of $25 week after week, I finally gave up.  No more stinkin’ corduroys.  The only exception would be, if I found a terrific deal at a resale shop, or they were a hand-me-down from someone.  Sure is fun dressing a boy.  And if junior is anything like his daddy, I’ll be dressing him for a lifetime.  Or at least, until I can pass the torch onto some other lucky woman.

Not that I was planning on a plug, but since I am on the subject of clothes, and I just so happen to be writing this commentary plopped in the middle of a huge clothing (shoes, toys, books and equipment) sale.   The Just Between Friends Children’s and Maternity Consignment Event is taking place today through Sunday at Wisconsin State Fair Park Exposition Center.  Need something?  Of course you do.  Check it out!

To learn more, you can follow this link to savings http://jbfsale.com/findevent/Wisconsin

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4-Casting Fun

What are You Doing April 9th?
by JAK Guest, Patty Gale
a followup to March 31st:
“A” is for April, and A Day 4 Dreams, Type A, and Amazin’

Whatever it is, clear off your calendar and put A Day 4 Dreams on it!

What is A Day 4 Dreams?

We are very privileged to have been working with Tammy Flynn of Elegance Salon & Spa to bring her vision of helping kids to the Milwaukee area.

A Day 4 Dreams is a fun, family fundraiser in which 100% of the proceeds benefit Children’s Hospital, Wisconsin and Make-a-Wish Foundation, Wisconsin.

Your whole family will have a ball meeting and getting autographs from local sports figures such as:  Read more

• Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers
• DeAndre Levy, Detroit Lion – former Milwaukee Vincent Player and WI Badger
• Brian Calhoun – former WI Badger and Detroit Lion
• Troy Dusosky from the Milwaukee Wave
• Anthony Pettis and Justin Lemke of the UFC
• Chris Oestreich – BMX Biker
• Adam Mania – 2004 Summer Olympics Swimmer.

Your All-Inclusive Ticket for this unique event includes the following:

Games and entertainment by Dave & Buster’s, Shutterbox Entertainment, Hype Dance Team and Art Milwaukee. Meet several Milwaukee Mascots including the Klement’s Sausages, Roscoe from the Admirals, Star Wars Characters, McGruff and the Crime Stoppers and Brad Beach from the Wave and much more!

Food and Beverage has been generously donated by Texas Roadhouse, Cousins and Pepsi. Radio 1250 will broadcast live from the event.

Donors Instead of Sponsors

Being a part of this event for the last six months has been absolutely amazing! This event is held with 100% donor participation, meaning that all of the sports celebrities, businesses and restaurants gave their time and services. There is no sponsorship whatsoever.

Tickets and Details

Don’t miss this event! Tickets are only $50 for a family 4 pack. That’s right.. 4 tickets for only fifty bucks and that includes lunch, too! Additional tickets (up to 3) are only $10 each. You would spend more than that at a movie, so clear off your calendar and make it a date to head to A Day 4 Dreams.

When: April 9th, 2011
Time: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: Crowne Plaza West, Wauwatosa

Tickets On Sale Now. Call 262-785-0880. It’s for the kids.

About the author: Patty Gale is the creator and owner of Inspired WebWorks. She’s been an internet entrepreneur since 2001 and is passionate about helping small and local businesses make the most of the web to grow their business.
Visit http://www.inspiredwebworks.com

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