Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Mystery of the Missing Bed Pillows

We LOVE pillows! In my mind each bed in the house has the appropriate number of pillows. Dave and I have a king sized bed, so I decided 8 pillows were the correct number. The first thing Dave and I do when we check into a hotel is see how many pillows there are then call housekeeping to have more brought up.  When my sister and brother-in-law used to babysit, the first thing they did was remove all but 2 pillows. It was just too overwhelming for them. They said they only sleep with 1 pillow each.  How can anyone sleep with just 1 pillow? Anyway, Hunter has a double bed – 2 pillows, Craig has a double bed and although I decided 2 pillows, he generally sleeps without them and sheets. Tracey’s old room has a queen bed – 4 pillows, Kevin’s old room has a king sized bed – 6 pillows, Hayley has a queen sized bed and she too has 2 pillows but chooses to sleep with her stuffed animals as pillows instead.

Hayley's bed


Going back two months ago I unlocked the green bedroom door (Tracey’s old room) and went in to get Hayley school clothes.  All of Hayley’s clothes are in that bedroom because she has an obsession with constantly changing her clothes and will literally stay up all night changing if the clothes were in her room.  I noticed one of the pillows was missing from the bed. Of course who did I immediately think took the pillow…..Craig.  He tends to take things that do not belong to him and bring them to his room.  I marched myself up there and demanded that he return the pillow to me immediately!  He said he didn’t know what I was talking about, he didn’t take any pillow. I still ranted and raved for a few minutes while my eyes travelled around his room. I didn’t see the pillow but there is so much “stuff” in his room it could have been anywhere. I walked through each bedroom not finding the missing pillow. I questioned Hunter, which was a mistake because then he got focused on the missing pillow and talked relentlessly on the subject.  I thought about it on and off for a few days perplexed where it went to. How can you lose a pillow?  The next time I went to Walmart I bought a new pillow and pillow case because that too was with the pillow. About two weeks later, I was putting Hayley’s laundry away and as I went to the closet to hang up clothes, I stopped in my tracks SHOCKED…..a pillow was missing. That is two pillows!  Iwent up to Craig’s room (he wasn’t home) and looked into and under everything, even in his bathroom.  No pillow.  I searched in Hunter’s, Hayley’s, even my room in case someone was playing a joke on me.  No pillow. This was absolutely crazy. In the back of my mind I was still blaming Craig. I eventually bought another pillow and had an extra pillow case left from the last pillow disappearance.  Several weeks went by and I went into room, to my utter amazement, a pillow was missing! I sat on the bed and thought…..this is crazy!…….how can this be?  I always joke that I am losing my mind, but for the first time I actually believed I had lost my mind. I didn’t even tell anyone this time that another pillow was missing, they would think I’m nuts.

Last Friday………After the kids got on their bus, I went upstairs to make the beds. My room first, Hunter’s next and Hayley’s last.  As I was stacking her stuffed animals, I happened to look across at her dresser. Now I know there is nothing in any of the drawers, but just peeking out of one of the drawers was a little piece of yellow cloth. I figured it was probably either doll clothes or one of the 10 blankets she has in her room (another obsession). I walked over and opened the drawer and to my surprise it was one of the missing pillow cases.

A missing pillow case

 I couldn’t believe it. I started opening all the drawers but nothing else was in them. I stood with my hands on my hips thinking if Hayley took the pillows where could they be.  Plus the fact, I doubted from the beginning she would have taken them because she doesn’t sleep with pillows and the door is always locked. All of a sudden I spotted the closet. I have not been in that closet for a long time because there are just a few miscellaneous items in there, part of a desk Katie used to have, a ratty american girl doll that was Tracey’s and Hayley hates, etc.   I figured I would peek in the closet not expecting to find anything.  But when I opened the door…………

The missing pillows!!!!!!!

Yup, the missing pillows. I was shocked, I never, ever thought to look in her closet because I knew nothing of interest was in there. I didn’t realize Hayley even went in the closet.  Boy, I will never underestimate her again, she is capable of anything. When she got home from school, after snack, I brought her upstairs to show her the pillows.  I said “Hayley did you put these pillows in here?”   Nothing.  “Hayley where did you get the pillows?” Nothing. “Hayley”…….she looked at me and said very loundly “KNOW WHAT?” which is her way of saying NO MORE TALKING !  She turned ran out of her room carrying a large polar bear, ran to the bathroom and threy the stuffed animal in the toilet and tried to flush.  Fortunatley it was too large to go down.  At that point I trudged down the hall, got the dripping wet polar bear into the tub and cleaned up the water.  Even though I found out the the whereabouts of the 3 missing pillows, I reallized I would never know the how or why. It is Hayley’s little secret.


When living with Autism, you must embrace the small things

Hayley in Florida

 When living with Autism, you MUST embrace the small things, otherwise you would find yourself spiriling down an endless chasm.  The stress is tremendous on each individual of a family, the family dynamics and your marriage.  The divorce rate of parents that have only 1 Autistic child is between 80 and 85 percent!  So families having 2 or more children on the spectrum MUST be much higher, it isn’t even mentioned!  Fortunately I have been blessed with an amazing husband. Not only is he running a business, worrying about or parenting older children, he is also coming home to children with a disability.  I give him so much credit.  Dave has not EVER, since Hayley and Hunter’s diagnosis complained, moaned, groaned or had a pity party for himself….. Unlike me…….  I HAVE complained, moaned, groaned and have thrown some magnificent pity parties for myself.  Dave sees the glass half filled, I see it half empty.  I tend to shut down, yet Dave will come home after a long day at work, load the washer, the dryer, fold clothes, empty the dishwasher etc.  I really don’t deserve him.  I will say since I have seeked professional help I am doing better yet Dave still continues to help me whenever he can.

Mothers Day 2010

Now to the small things.  I could not imagine life without Hayley and Hunter, I do believe God brought them to us for a purpose.  When the older kids were small we took many, many, many vacations.  It was just a given that we could drive, fly, cruise wherever we wanted.  We went out to eat alot and we would have people come over to our table to commend us as parents for the stellar behavior of Katie, Kevin, Craig & Tracey (of course they did not see behind the scenes).  On any given day I or Dave could say “go out and play” and they were capable of that.  We could get babysitters and have “date nights” or we used to on a weekend night say Mom and Dad are going to have a romatic dinner.  This consisted of me setting the table in the Library, decorating it with candles, turning on the music and fireplace.  We would close the blinds and have conversation and eat in peace.

Right now those days are gone. But I have to hope and believe not forever.  Now Dave and I look, listen I and see what small joys have occured each day.  Some of them have been:

The unconditional love that Hunter gives us,  he tells me he couldn’t imagine me not being his mother.  He is thankful to be in this “wonderous” family (yes he talks like this).  Dad is the best dad because he wrestles with me and builds dinosaurs.

The first time at age 8, Hayley saying “love mommy” and giving me a kiss.

Hunter getting up early on a weekend and having a major spread of breakfast items set out on the counter for me, Dave and Hayley.

Hayley just recently at age 9 saying 4 word sentences.

Hunter being able to control his anger at the girl on the bus that makes fun of him.

Hayley being able to understand Florida means:  Nova, Bernie, Katie, Bill, Beach, Purple Room.

Hunter each day asking Hayley to come to the computer and putting on her favorite disney cartoons and trying to teach her the mouse.

I could go on and on.  Are these very small things to the normal child, of course.  Do you take your kids for granted for being able to have a conversation, play sports, games, play with children, go to movies? I know I did when the 4 older ones were little.  Now I have a totally different perspective.  Just hearing Hayley say “love mommy”, or say “great room movie”.  Hunter showing us love and not caring if kids make fun of him.  The change in the older kids being forced to live with Autism and I will say change for the better.  They each have more compassion and are not so quick to judge.

None of us should take anyting in life for granted.  It is a gift that should be enjoyed.  Love the little things, enjoy life and the next time you argue with you child about homework, remember us…….We would give up everything we have to be able to have the argument with Hunter and Hayley……….

Embrace the small things!

Washington DC

Snow, The Elderly and Food Shopping

Why the day before any snowstorm do the elderly flock to the food store?  In general, I don’t understand why anyone does this.  We live in the United States of America where there are plows and salters for this event. Most of the time you can get out of your house right after the storm. Yes, people in south Jersey were not plowed out for days after the blizzard the day after Christmas, but I can’t tell you the last time this even happened. Even so, I would bet people withe 4 wheel drive did get out of their driveways and go to work. So why rush to the food store the day before a snowstorm, it’s not like you will never get to the store again, you are not going to be in a bunker for 6 months, and I think it is safe to say even if we did get stranded for a few days, we all have enough food in our house to survive.

Which brings me to the elderly, yes, they may have difficulties getting out to the store because of driving issues or counting on county transportation that may be suspended for a short period of time. They probably do not keep large amounts of food in their homes  anymore, but again, I am sure they would have enough for a few days. Even if they feel more secure by buying a little extra, ok fine.

 I had to go to Shoprite yesterday for a prescription, while I was there I did do some food shopping, but mostly because Hunter, Hayley and Craig had pretty much cleaned out our stash of snacks (Craig LOVES Scooby Snacks) so I really didn’t want to have a snow day without their favorite snacks.  BUT, if it were not for the prescription, I would not have gone to Shoprite. I do have cupcake mix and 13 tubs of Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough in the freezers, so I am confident we would have survived.

The store was packed like it always is before a storm and there were an abundance of elderly men and women.  Some were pushing carts, several were driving (or attempting to drive) the motorized scooters and I even saw one woman with a walker balancing a small shopping basket on top.  Each had various things in their carts, soup, crackers, cereal, tea and one elderly woman had a Glamour magazine in her cart (I was shocked but then I thought, more power to her). As I went down the bread aisle, several elderly people were putting the family size loaves of bread in their carts. Do they ever finish a family size loaf, do they even eat white bread?

The thing that perplexes me the most is the dairy aisle. I was going there to pick up yogurt for Hunter and Hayley when all of a sudden as I turned down the aisle, it was CHAOS!  It was a mob of the elderly. The mob was mostly hovered around the milk and eggs.  Two men were arguing about who bumped into who with their carts, several of them were buying WHOLE gallons of milk! Do they need a gallon, I can’t imagine them ever drinking all of it before one day they open the refrigerator to the stink of curdled milk. I bet some of them are even lactose intolerant! But…….it is the thing to do, the staple everyone supposedly needs.  Next were the eggs. Ok, a few bought the 1/2 doz. carton of eggs, I can understand this,many were buying a doz. eggs, I am thinking this really is too much,  BUT there was 1 man and 2 women that were going to purchase the doz. 1/2 carton of eggs.  That is 18 eggs!!!!  How are they ever g0ing to use 18 eggs!   It was madness………..

Check out was very busy.  When I found an ok aisle I pulled my basket behind two elderly women. They were arguing about who got to the aisle first, I really thought a fist fight was going to break out. The louder and nastier of the two finally claimed the spot and the other woman muttering under her breath moved on.

As I waited my turn to be  checked out,I couldn’t help to think, maybe the elderly really weren’t shopping because of the impending storm.  Maybe they looked forward to the hightened atmosphere, the challenge, the electrified interaction with others of the same age. Maybe it wasn’t about food or survival at all, maybe it was just about feeling alive……………….

Something about Maddie…….


Whew, this is going to be a hard one.  Madison who we often called Maddy was our first Golden Retriever.  In November 1993, Katie was 8, Kevin 6, Craig 4 and Tracey 2.  At that time we had a 6 yr old cat named Paw-Paw and a 10 yr old dog named Penny.  Paw-Paw was very elusive and would disappear when the kids were close by and Penny who was a Lhasa Apso was NOT kid friendly, so in essence the kids really didn’t have a pet they could play with.  They would ask for another dog from time to time, but Dave always said no way.  On Election Day, November 1993, when Christie Whitman was elected as Governor of New Jersey, Dave got home from work about an hour late.  When he got home, he told me and the 4 kids to go sit on the couch in the Great Room and close our eyes.  We ran into the room and sat on the couch from oldest (me) to youngest (Tracey). Dave came into the room and made sure we all had our eyes shut, when he said ok open your eyes, THERE was the most beautiful reddish Golden Retriever puppy that he had placed on the floor. All of us jumped up screaming, clapping and arguing who was going to hold her first. I actually got the pleasure, I picked her up and hugged her,  she was the softest most sweet-smelling puppy with heart melting eyes. It was instant love! I then passed her on to Katie, and as the kids were laughing, holding and playing with the puppy, I asked Dave why did he get he,r and his excuse was that Penny was getting old so he didn’t want something to happen to her and then the kids did not have a dog. For his tough exterior at the time, he really was a softy.  Now came the hard part. As the puppy was sleeping on the floor, we needed  a name.  We each threw a name out here and there, Goldy, Red, Brownie etc.  All of a sudden, Dave yells “I have the perfect name”!  Me and the kids altogether said WHAT………he said ” Old Yeller”….. yes that’s right, Old Yeller. The kids and I sat dumbfounded as he stood there beaming, obviously very, very  proud of himself for thinking up this name.  We as a family had just watched the movie Old Yeller a few nights previous so we guessed that is where the name came from.  I knew I had to tread carefully on this, I just calmly said, “it would be a good name except for the fact that this puppy isn’t a Yellow Labrador Retriever but a GOLDEN Retriever. Katie in turn (being Katie), said very loudly, “IT IS THE STUPIDIST NAME I EVER HEARD OF”!  There were also grumblings from Kevin and Craig, Tracey really was too young to care. Dave insisted it was a GREAT name and what difference did it make if they were different types of Retriever, a Retriever is a Retriever! After giving the kids the evil eye (particularly aiming it at Katie), I suggested we sleep on it.  The next day, Dave came up with the name, Madison.  Dave’s business is in Madison so therefore it was what she was named after.  We all LOVED the name, no one heard of it before and as a matter of fact, it was several years later that the name Madison became a popular girl’s name.

Madison, Maddie, Maddie-mc-faddie, Madsden, Faddie, She, Her, the dog answered to all of these names over the years. She was the best dog in the world. Great with kids, teens and adults. Maddie could never have been a guard dog, she loved people way too much.  Whenever we mentioned we were ordering pizza, Madison would wait at the door because the pizza delivery man always brought her treats. I think Madison would have given the whole house away for food of any kind.  Although most of her life she was strictly on dog food, we would once in a while sneak something to her. I remember one time when Madison was about a year old, she was hanging out in the kitchen with me as I was making blueberry muffins. She was sleeping contentedly  on the floor when I took the muffins out of the oven and set them on a baking rack on the center island. The phone rang so I went into the Library to answer it, it was my sister Linda calling.  We were chatting away when I walked back into the kitchen, I was leaning against the counter when all of a sudden I realized the WHOLE muffin tray was empty!!  I thought I was going crazy, I kept saying to my sister, what happened to the muffins, this is so weird, I know they were there.  I happened to glance over in the Great Room and instantly Madison popped up with her paws on the back of the couch and an empty muffin cup hanging from her mouth.  It was like she was saying “muffins? muffins? did someone mention muffins?  I was shocked, how could one dog take 12 muffins, I guess one at a time, eat them plus the paper excluding the one in her mouth, in less than 10 minutes? I walked into the Great Room and there wasn’t a crumb to be found, the only evidence was the muffin cup in Madison’s mouth.

Madison loved socks and would steal them whenever whe could. We would find mounds of them in corners or under furniture. The kids could lay on Madison, hug her and dress her up.  When Madison was 3 yrs old, we bred her.  To our great surprise, she gave birth to 15 puppies!!  There were so many puppies that the kids and I had to help with the feedings. No way could Maddie feed them all her self (nor did she want to). The kids and I  fed the puppies with eyedroppers and even had to set our timers and get up in the middle of the night to feed them.  Madison was very ambivilent about the puppies, the mothering kind she was not. Once the puppies were fed, she was out of there.  During this time in order to build Maddie’s strength back up she was fed, london broils, chicken, fish, hamburgers, hard boiled eggs, etc.  She was living the high life (which ended as soon as the puppies were weened). We wound up keeping two puppies, giving two to family and friend and sold the rest (but that is for another story).

My dad died 3 months before Madison had her puppies.  He LOVED Madison!  Because she was very red in color, my dad called Madis0n “the big red lobster”  and spoiled the crap out of that dog as he did the grandchildren.  When my dad was over, he always let this huge dog sit on his lap.  If I questioned this, his response was, leave her alone, she wants to sit here.  There was always something about Maddie everyone loved.

The years went by, there are too many stories to share.  Madison was the best dog every, not that I didn’t love my other pets, but there was just something about Maddie. Every meal I had, she would sit very, very quietly next to me with her nose on my leg, hoping I would share something with her which I usually did.  I always felt Maddie new when I was happy or sad and she would always layed quietly be by me.  In September 2006, we found out she had mouth cancer.  For the next 3 months she developed leg sores and had a hard time walking. We thought we would have to put her down in November of that year but she perked back up, Dave began feeding her like a queen and it was like having the old Madison back.  We totally spoiled her.  Months went by, Madison travelled with us to Florida, ran around the yard etc.  But, all of a sudden the middle of June 2007, the cancer was spreading, her sores were getting worse and it was getting very hard for her to get up.  The one thing was she was still a voracious eater!  One day I got up and she was sleeping on her bed in the kitchen, I made her steak and sat on the floor beside her.  She looked at me with those very loving eyes and then turned her head away……she could not eat.  I tried to get her up but was unsuccessful.  I called the vet who we had been going to for 20 years and she said it was time, Madison was 14 1/2 yrs old, never sick, was the best dog and that we owed it to her to let her go.  We waited until the next morning so we could spend as much time with her as possible.  We put Hayley and Hunter on the bus (Dave stayed home from w0rk), My vet and her assistant came to our house to put Maddie down.  We all sat on the floor, Maddie on her favorite blanket, we hugged and kissed her, told her how much we loved her.  She still weakly wagged her tail.  So with my arms around her and her head on my lap, we let her go………………….

Madison’s passing was an end to a very important time period in my life.  Homeschooling, raising the older kids, my dad, puppies, other animals etc.  I really hate change yet I know it is inevitable, Maddie was a tie to so many happy memories.  We all loved her, but I can say for myself  Madison held and still holds a very special place in my heart.  I will always love her and never forget her because, you know, there was always……somesthing about Maddie…..   xoxo

Maddie with puppies

Pop-pop and The Big Red Lobster

Autism and “Jersey Shore”

You ask, how possibly could Autism and Jersey Shore have anything in common?  Well generally speaking they don’t, but to me they do.  First let me tell you a little bit about our week, and only a little because I could write a whole book about our week.  It was a very tough week here, not the worst, not the best.  Frankly, even what we consider our best week is somone elses most horrible week.  Hunter wasn’t too bad, a bit mouthy yes, had Hayley in a headlock twice and complained about a dozen things.  His growling at me was at a low, as was his slamming of the doors.  Hayley on the other hand, well, was Hayley!  On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the best and 10 being the worst, her behavior was at around a 15 (remember this wasn’t the worst week).  I had daily struggles trying to get her medications down her, then having her get dressed and ready for school and onto the bus.  Yesterday Hayley came off the bus crying which led into the house and lasted on and off until we finally got her in bed at 7:30.  In between this behavior we had 2 big tantrums which contains dropping to the floor, rolling around, dumping toys and high pitched screaming.  She also got into her hysterical laughing state which includes running around wildly, dumping salt, spraying water etc. I could go on and on.  This is simply exhausting, upsetting and you start thinking you cannot go through this again tomorrow.  But of course we do go through it because there is no other choice.  So when living this type of life you need, or at least I do, a guilty pleasure.   Mine happens to be the tv show…………………… Jersey Shore

Jersey Shore

Yes, that’s right, Jersey Shore and I freely admit I love the show.  Now I know there are alot of haters out there, but I think the reality is that some of those haters actually do watch and enjoy the show but won’t admit it.  Look at the ratings on this seasons opener, over 8,000,000 viewers – MTV’s highest ratings ever.  So please don’t tell me that some of these haters aren’t hooked either.  I had  never heard of the show two years ago.  It wasn’t until a Sunday afternoon in February 2010 I collapsed into a chair in the Great Room because Dave had taken Hunter and Hayley outside with him.  I always love these breaks!  I enjoy reading magazines while watching something on tv.  I turned on the tv and MTV was on, Craig must have been watching it the night before, and there before me was this show called “Jersey Shore”.   I kept it on only because it really didn’t matter to me what show was on, in fact many times I have the tv on and watch it on mute (weird I know, Craig just can’t wrap his head around this).  I started throwing my eye on it and really couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing.  At first I was horrified, this show is terrible, awful, how could these kids (well it turns out not really kids) do the things they were doing, say the things they were saying? When the show ended I sat speechless.  Then the next episode came on and I later realized that MTV was having a Jersey Shore marathon.  Well I watched the second, found myself laughing at a few parts, by the third episode I started to decide who I liked and didn’t like, and half way into the 4th episode I was HOOKED.  I wound up watching all of the first season, the second season that was filmed in Miami and now have just started excitedly watching the third season that is back at Seaside (yay).  Is it quality tv, absolutely not.  Do I agree with all the language and “smooshing” (my vocabulary has grown with this show), again no, but for me as bizarre as it is, the show takes me totally away  from my life’s circumstances.  That is it.  If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

Now, how does this have ANYTHING to do with Autism? I have always liked Enrique Iglesias. I have many of his songs on my iPod.  The second season Jersey Shore opener featured Enrique singing his new song “I Like It” with the Jersey Shore cast dancing in the video.  I instantly fell in love with that song.  Since then I had my son Kevin put the song on my Blackberry as it’s ring.  It makes me happy to hear “baby I like it, I like it”, much to the annoyance of other family members.  But I don’t care.  Ask Hunter, I have been singing this song for a MONTHS around the house and when my phone rings.  He always responds “baby I don’t like it, I don’t like it.  Anyway, last night during a brief 20 minutes period of calmness, Hayley was sitting at the kitchen table with me doing a puzzle.  She loves to sing, so she sang Old McDonald, Three Blind Mice and then to my amazement she started to sing “baby I like it, I like it, baby I like it, I like it” perfectly in tune!  Should I be upset that she picked this up? No. Hayley has no idea what Jersey Shore is or any tv show for that matter. Even though she is 9 she still watches Elmo, Winnie-the-Pooh,  Kids Songs, etc.  When she sang this it just brought a smile to my face and I had a small glimpse of a normal 9 yr. old girl singing a song that is played on the radio. So the next time your 9 yr. old is belting out Snoop Dog or Eminem, you know it really isn’t so bad, at least in my world.

Hunter and Hayley

Cleaning and Memories

Mom's General Store

Kevin and Paw Paw in the Craft Room

Sweet Hayley

I have been in the cleaning, organizing and purging mode the last several months. We do not have a cluttered house or a packed attic, basement or garage (the garage is Dave’s sacred territory and it gets cleaned religously). We try not to stack stuff up or save too many things. We learned this lesson from my parents. After they died, me, Dave, my sister and brother-in-law had to clean out their house which they had lived in for 40 years, it wasn’t pretty. They lived in a tiny house, so it was amazing how much stuff they had in the attc, basement and garage.  I don’t think they ever got rid of anything. Dave and I vowed right then and there we would never do this to our kids. Even though we made and kept that commitment, over time “stuff” does still accumulate. We have cleaned out and organized the kitchen and pantry closet, the foyer closets, laundry room closet, all of Hunter and Hayley’s toys and stuffed animals as well as every piece of furniture that has drawers. Dave and I went through our bedroom, all of our and the kids clothes, all our closets and all the bathroom cabinets. Craig’s bedroom and bathroom are on the 3rd floor. He is on his own. If I even venture up to his room (which is very infrequently), I tend to hyper-ventilate because of the mess, so I try to save myself from having to endure that. All this being said, brings us to the last few days. We have a finished basement and one of the rooms is my beautiful craft room. I used to love to do crafts, paint, scrapbook etc.  When I was homeschooling the older kids we had so much fun in the craft room. We made things, painted shirts, painted gallery glass, decopaged  and made figures called gloobies.  You needed a glue gun to make gloobies and at the time I only let Katie and Kevin use the glue guns because Craig and Tracey were too young. On one of the days we were making them Kevin stuck the glue gun in his ear and screamed! I yelled what ARE you doing?  Kevin crying said he was only trying to see if the glue gun was hot, now Katie thought this was hysterical and the more she laughed, the more he cried…..Anyway, every Christmas for years we all painted plastercraft christmas statues that were signed and dated by each and displayed them around the house at Christmas.  These were such happy memories of the times I spent with the older kids,  yet I feel a certain amount of melancholy because it seems like only yesterday these times took place and it makes you realize how fleeting time is. But over the past few days of cleaning I have so far thrown out 8 black garbage bags of  things I have not used and will never use.  Once I get over the nostalgia of things, I am able to part with stuff at a rapid rate.  My mother had a wooden General Store that she had set up with miniature items, this was about 40 years ago when having dollhouses and furnishing with miniatures was the rage.  After she and my dad died, I took it home and put it on the top shelf of my craft closet and have not paid any attention to it for many years. Dave asked where it was a few weeks ago and I told where.  He suggested I get it down, clean up and fix up the inside, and maybe I should display it in Kevin’s old bedroom which has been redecorated with antiques and made into a guest room/writing room. I said I would think about it. Yesterday I did take it down and immediately the waterworks turned on. While looking at it I vividly remember driving to Lebanon to the Dollhouse Factory, which is still there, and my mother picking out different items to place in her general store. I was 10 at the time she started this and again, it seems like only yesterday.  I have decided to fix it up and I will proudly display it upstairs.  Yesterday I didn’t get as much cleaning done as I would have liked because I started looking at pictures. I have hundreds and hundreds of pictures in boxes. I enjoyed looking through them and remembering all the wonderful trips we took with the older kids, birthdays, holidays, beach, pool, Dave and I, etc.  I got to a box of Hunter and Hayley when we brought them home from Guatemala through when they were toddlers.  Through my tears I remember all of the plans, hopes and dreams we had for them. I loved looking at Hayley’s sweet face smiling at the camera.  This was before Autism set in and took her smile away, her eye contact away and any words she had.  We have come along way but we had to change our original plans, hopes and dreams for them and replace with new ones. I am sure as I go back and continue cleaning to-day I will find more things to bring back memories, both happy and bittersweet.


Why do I hate snow? I really don’t know but I have hated it since I was born. I was the odd kid on the block that NEVER wanted to go out to play or sled in the snow. All the other kids couldn’t wait for a snow day so they could spend hours and hours in the glorious fun filled snow, building forts, having snowball fights and sledding. Oh I would have liked snow days if I could have stayed in the nice warm house possibly reading or watching Gilligan’s Island or perhaps I Love Lucy. But no, I was forced outside with so many clothes on I could barely move. It was always sooo cold and I hated that just as much as I hated the snow. I would get my wooden and metal flexible flyer and trudge down the street to an open area next to a baseball field that had HUGE hills of dirt because of construction of a nursing home that was to be built. Let me tell you it was years before this was actually built, so in turn I had to endure years of torment of snow. Was it fun to sled down the hills? Yes. But the 15 minute walk back up the hill in my mind just wasn’t worth the 2 minute ride down the hill. I never understood the thrill people get sledding, skiing, snowboarding etc. I know I never will. Thankfully I married someone who’s busy season is the whole winter, so in turn could never enjoy any type of winter activities which is just fine by me. So, as a kid after many hours in the snow, my face would be frozen, my nose would be running and my gloves would be wet and stiff with snow. I couldn’t wait until I would be let inside after a number of hours went by that my mother deemed reasonable. Once inside I would peel the heavy wet clothes off to be faced with ice cold red limbs. At least my mother at this point would make me hot chocolate which I did enjoy. When the 4 older kids were little and they wanted to play in the snow, I would get them bundled up and send them and the 3 dogs out to play. I would check on them time to time and even take pictures and videos from the front door, never having to leave the warm comfort of the house. Now with two kids with autism, that cannot be done. I actually HAVE to go out with them. This past Saturday was Dave’s first Saturday working in “tax season” Hunter who doesn’t like to go outside in the best of circumstances kept badgering me about going out and playing in the snow. I just repeatedly said “let’s see”. I had NO intention of bringing them outside. I even went so far as bringing Hunter and Hayley snow inside the house in Tupperware containers to play in at the kitchen table. Isn’t this fun I kept saying? You guys can play in the snow without having to go out in the cold wet snow! I was very proud of myself. Dave got home around 3:00 when all of a sudden Hayley runs to the laundry room saying “outside snow, coat on, boots on”. When she uses her words we are supposed to give her what she wants (within limits of course). Sooo Dave and I are forced to go outside with them. In my mind I thought they would be out for 10 minutes tops and then beg to come in. Oh no, we were out for almost two hours! Hunter nicely gathering large sticks and making a fort, Hayley requests the sled and proceeded numerous times sledding down the front hill, climbing the red maple tree and making snow angels. I had to go in and get her a change of gloves and hats 3 times. Here I am never intending to go out in the snow wearing capris, Craig’s big old work boots (no socks), a tee shirt, Villanova sweatshirt and a freakish knit hat that should have never gone in the dryer. Meanwhile as this is all going on Dave is collecting big sticks for Hunter and taking pictures. At last we go in, peel the clothes of Hunter and Hayley, their limbs are cold and red but both are smiling which is a rare treat. My heart melts and I think to myself, maybe the snow isn’t so bad after all……