Thursday, December 16, 2010

More than just a Grandpa

When I was a small child we would go over my grandparents house and play.  At the time we lived in the same town, LaPorte, Indiana and my Mom's parents lived out in the country on several acres of land.  As a kid I never really noticed that the place was "run down" or unkept; all I knew was that I loved going out there because there was always kittens or puppies in one of the out-buildings and there were tons of abandoned cars and trucks out back to play in.  As an adult I realize that it was really a kind of junk-yard but as a kid you don't really notice those kinds of things.  As a kid, I thought that was pretty awesome.  All I knew about my Grandpa at that point was that he was always there in a pair of dirty work pants and a white t-shirt working on something in the big garage out back.  He was a bit rough but I loved that he would let me go get him a PBR from the fridge and sometimes, if Mom wasn't around, he'd even let me have the first sip.  He was just "Grandpa" and that's all I knew. 

When I was in 3rd grade we moved to Wisconsin and then to Iowa and on and on.  Our visits to LaPorte became far and few between and my relationship with my Grandpa, since he never came with Grandma when she drove to visit us, became non-existent.  We lost my Grandma when I was in college and my Mom and Grandpa had a falling out.  I won't go into the personal family details because it isn't important.  They reconciled a few years ago and I got the chance to see my Grandpa once or twice when I visited my Aunts in LaPorte.  By then he was a old man - still rough around the edges but what can I say, he was still just "Grandpa." 

Walter Becker - Grandpa - passed away peacefully in his sleep last week.  When I read the bio that my Aunt wrote about him I was stunned.  I had heard a little bit about his time in the military and knew that he had been a POW but I didn't really know the whole story.  I guess he was more than just a "Grandpa" after all...

Walter Becker was born in Cismar, Germany and came to America with his parents when he was about 1 years old. He grew up in Chicago and when he was about 17 he and his family moved to a farm in Hamlet, Indiana. As a young boy in Chicago he learned to play the drums and was a part of the Drum and Bugle Corps for years. He continued to enjoy playing the drums as an adult when he participated in a Senior Citizen’s Band. He often shared these memories with his grandson Steven, who is carrying on his fondness for playing the drums.

He and his late wife Maryalice were married for 47 years and raised 7 children. They were both active members of Tracy Immanuel Lutheran Church. As an involved member of the community he was a Boy Scout leader, a member of the Lion’s club, and one of his proudest memories, over 45 years of continued service to the Kingsbury Volunteer Fire Department.

As a WWII POW vet he was a lifetime member of the American Legion.

He, his sister Clara, and their brother Bill all served their country during WWII. Walter received numerous citations for "exceptionally meritorious conduct" as well as a purple heart for his services as a radio operator, maintaining communication with his commanding officer while under cross fire of 3 enemy machine guns allowing their patrol to advance aggressively across open terrain to obtain valuable information. He was wounded, captured, and sent to a German prison camp.

He was very proud of his service to his country and shared his stories with his family of his time in the war and his 18 months as a POW. He saw a sign in the prison camp asking for volunteer prisoners to go to a prison work farm and he convinced his 4 "city" buddies to go with him as he told them "it’s a farm we will be able to get food there" as they had none at the time. When he arrived at the prison farm there were 70 other prisoners there who were weak and sick as they had not been able to eat. The man who was in charge of running the farm had been sent to fight in the war and no one was left who knew how to care for the farm. Walter quickly repaired the tractors, mowed the hay so they could feed the cows, and showed them how to dig up the crops that were in the field. He survived 18 months as a POW and when the day came for them to leave the camp he was placed by the German guards at the front of the line and he led the march with his 70 fellow prisoners across Germany to LaHarve, France not knowing where they were going. When they arrived there they were given mattresses to sleep on for the first time in 2 years, a real meal, and then as he looked up from his food he stood up at attention bringing the other 70 men to their feet at the site of General Eisenhower who was there to thank them for their sacrifice for their country and to inform them that the war was over for them and that they were finally going home.

While he was committed to serving his country and his community, his life was spent providing and caring for his family as an excavator and eventually owner/operator of Becker Excavating. He will be remembered as a loving husband, father, and grandfather.
(written by Mary Becker "Aunt TT")

Rest in peace Grandpa

*Katie, my Mom, Will, and Grandpa

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More than a day of eating turkey

The other morning I was driving Jessica to Kindergarten and I asked her: "What holiday do we celebrate in November?"  She quickly answered: "Thanksgiving."  I started to explain that Thanksgiving is about more than just turkey and Mommy's yummy noodles - it is about being thankful for all that we have in our lives.  I went on to say that I am thankful for my family.  She quickly jumped in: "I'm thankful for my family too, and my friends, and my school, and Mrs. G, and my books, and my toys, and Jesus, and my dog, and my ...." and the list went on until we reached her school.  I've been thinking about those few minutes since then and wondering how we lose that innocent appreciation for all the blessings we have in our lives.  She was so genuine in creating that list and, more importantly, she didn't have to struggle to find things to list.  It was like she was looking at her life and listing everything that was a part of it as a blessing to be thankful for. 

As we head into the holidays most of us are filled with a mixture of feelings.  We are excited about seeing family and friends but we dread the logistics of fitting it all into the limited time that most of  us have.  We are excited about holiday parties and gift exchanges, but we are stressed about the financial burdens that they can cause.  But some people don't have a mixture of feelings as they head into this wonderful time of year.  Sadly, there are many people among us who can only feel despair.  Earlier this month I learned about a local family who is heading into this amazing holiday season completely devastated by tragedy.  In this family, the wife and mother of six young children, just lost a very sudden battle with cancer.  That poor man...those poor children.  I'm sure creating a list of things to be thankful for would be a little difficult for them right now. 

I'm not trying to be a downer - quite the opposite.  I just want everyone to take a pause as they head into this hectic holiday season and look around them.  Try to see your life with the innocent eyes of a child.  See your family as a blessing; see your friends as a priceless treasure ; see your home, car, clothes, and "toys" as true gifts.  I received an email yesterday from the head coach of Jessica's special needs cheerleading squad.  She is an amazing woman.  She has a young daughter with special needs and just adopted Anthony, a little boy from China. Here is what she wrote: 

"I would like to share what I am thankful for this year on Thanksgiving. I am thankful first for God and our country, we are so fortunate to live in the Unites States of America. God has blessed me and my family in so many ways and I look to him to guide my life. I am thankful for my family who makes me want to work so hard for them and make them happy and safe every day, they make me smile and fill my heart with joy. I am thankful for the new addition to our family. Anthony has already made a difference in all of our lives and I pray we make a difference in his. I am thankful for my team and my coaches and parents. You all inspire me everyday with your attitudes, patience and support! I am thankful for the Golden Key who has already made a difference and improved children's lives and accepted and included and loved them no matter what their disability. I am thankful for all of my friends who I don't get to say it enough but I love you and appreciate you very much as you put up with me pushing you to make the world a better place. I am thankful for American Elite as the gym welcomed our team with open arms and we are now in our 5th year.  I would like to ask you to also write down and email to all what you are thankful for! It really makes your heart smile when you realize just how lucky we are and how blessed we are!" (Coach Kathy)

I wasn't the only one who thought her email was inspiring...the responses started pouring in.  I'll share mine:

"Sadly, for each and every one of us, our lives are filled with challenges.  Some have more than others but none of us is given a free pass from life's struggles.  It can be so easy to become so overwhelmed with these obstacles that we lose sight of the many blessings that each and every one of us has in our lives.  God is good.  He doesn't promise to give us an easy life but he is always there when we need to renew our strength.  I am thankful for Kathy and the impact she has made on my life.  She is a true example of how a Christian should live.  Her generosity is endless and her leadership is inspiring.  I am thankful for my country where children like ours have a chance at a meaningful and productive life.  I am thankful for the men and women who give their lives to protect this great country of ours and I acknowledge the sacrifice that their entire families are making so that my family can be safe.  I am thankful I have a husband who continues to make me feel beautiful even on my most exhausted days.  I am thankful for my children who fill my life with immeasurable joy.  I am thankful for my parents and siblings whose support has made my life more manageable.  I am thankful for all the doctors, therapists, and tutors who work so hard to help my children reach their potential.  I am thankful.  I am thankful.  I am thankful.  I am thankful for all the countless blessings that I have.  Happy Thanksgiving." (Katie Cunion)

I encourage you to follow Kathy's lead and share what you are thankful for.  You can post it as a comment to this blog.  When you stop and really think about your life, you might be surprised just how many things you have to be thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I want to kiss you!

Last week I had to take Will to cheerleading practice with me and Jessica.  Bill had a late meeting on campus and was unable to do our usual "hand-off" at the gym.  Will was surprisingly good.  It was a little loud for him so he plugged his ears but he was obedient and followed my directions to sit nicely.  We had just finished our opening stretches and Will was on the mat with us.  A young girl on the squad - who is about 2 years older than Will and has always reminded me of him with her self-absorbed stares, difficulty following directions, and lack of social interaction - came over to us and smiled sweetly at my little man. "Is this your boy" she asked?  I'd been an assistant coach for over a year now and had never heard her say more than a few words so this interaction surprised me.  "Yes, his name is Will.  Say 'hi' Will." "Hi."  Again she smiled sweetly at him and it hit me...she thinks he's cute. 

Throughout the rest of practice she would periodically "show up" beside us with a smile but as practice was ending she came over and squatted down beside him and said: "I want to kiss you."  I smiled at her and said: "O.K. sweetie - that is very nice but no kissing at cheerleading practise, O.K?.  Say goodbye to Will and maybe you'll see him at another practice."

What a sweet story, right?  But it has stuck with me for over a week now.  We had practice again last night and I didn't take Will this time.  I found myself watching this girl and wondering, will she ever find someone that will love her despite her disabilities?  What about Will?  He is the kindest, most loving individual I have ever met in my entire life.  He has the purest heart with no hidden agendas or ulterior motives.   Will he ever find someone who will love him the way he deserves to be loved?  Someone who will help take care of him and look after him.  There is so much that we parents of special needs children have to worry about on a daily basis that I don't think we really focus too much thought on our children's future love-life, but after last week's practice it's been chewing away at my brain.  I think about all that I have been able to experience in my life: my first kiss, going to the prom, hearing "I love you," getting married, having children... and I wonder, Will my children experience those things.  I'm pretty sure Jessica will.  Holy Cow - you have to try to distract that child from her love of boys and she's only 5!  But will she be a target with her beautiful face and strong desire to be liked?  Will I be able to make her understand what is appropriate "interactions" between boys and girls and what isn't?  Will I be able to protect her?

But my fears for Will somehow seem scarier.  I guess because I have always been afraid to be alone and therefore, never have been.  The thought of him being alone someday seems unimaginable.  But he's not me.  Maybe he'll never have the desire for that type of a relationship in his life.  Or maybe he'll meet someone who will see him for who he really is - a beautiful person with a beautiful heart.   I might be a little biased but I think he's a good catch!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Soundtrack of my Life

I was charging my IPod and I got to thinking about how important music is in my life.  You see, I'm one of those people that if given the choice would choose blindness over deafness solely because the thought of a life without music is unimaginable to me.  I'm not one of those "music snobs" that only listens to classical or only listens to jazz...nope... I love it all (well, not the really heavy medal stuff where they are screaming vicious rants that can barely be understood - but that's probably because I don't really consider that music, but I digress...).  For me, the "type" of music I listen to at any given time, completely depends on my emotional state.  Am I sad?  Am I feeling sexy?  Am I angry?  Am I happy?  The right song can completely change my mood for the better or solidify it for the worse.   If you were to listen to my IPod right now you would be amazed at just how random the songs are, but they each fit a different emotional need, and I change the songs on my IPod accordingly.  But I started wondering, what are my favorite songs?  If I look at my ITunes "play count" I can see which songs have been played the most, but are they really my favorites?  I can think of a song right now that isn't even on my ITunes but is definitely in my top 10.   So I think for today I am going to list my ITune Top 10 Play Count Songs, and than my Top 10 Songs of All Time.  What do you think? 

ITunes Top 10 Play Count
1. Bring on the Rain: Jo Dee Messina
2. We are Family: Sister Sledge
3. Stand: Rascal Flatts
4. Wanted: Jessie James
5. You're Gonna Love Me: Little Big Town
6. See You Again: Miley Cryus
7. You're Not Sorry (CSI Remix): Taylor Swift
8. The More Boys I Meet: Carrie Underwood
9. The Lucky One: Alisson Kraus
10. 9 to 5: Dolly Parton

Top 10 +2 Songs of All Time (in no special order)
1. We Are Family: Sister Sledge
2. Seize The Day: Carolyn Arends
3. What a Wonderful World: Louis Armstrong
4. Bring on the Rain: Jo Dee Messina
5. I Will Be Here: Seven Curtis Chapman
6. Remember Me: Mark Schultz
7. Cheek to Cheek: Jane Monheit
8. Somewhere Over the Rainbow: 50 First Dates Version
9. World: Five for Fighting
10. Better Man: Pearl Jam
11. Adore: Prince
12. Let's Get it On: Marvin Gaye

Wow...that was hard.  There are several other songs that feel like they belong on this list too, but...I'm going to leave it at that.

Happy listening everyone!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Silver Lining

"Are you Kathryn?" I slowly turned around to see two police officers standing beside my minivan. "Ahh, yes officer I am." "We received a call from a customer complaining that you had parked in the handicapped space without a placard. Now I see the placard on the floor of the van - it must have just fallen when you tried to hang it up, but they were also complaining about how you parked." I took a few steps back to look at my parking job. Holy Cow! Which spot had I been aiming for? Or was I not aiming at all? There were two handicapped spots with a smaller spot in between them with stripes to give each spot a little extra room. I had parked with my van mostly in that striped spot but angled so that my front end was taking up a small part of the spot on the right and my rear end was taking part of the spot on the left. I looked back at the two officers who were studying me intently - probably trying to figure out if I was drunk. "We were paging you throughout the store but you didn't answer so we decided to wait out here by the car." They had been paging my name throughout Giant Eagle? Was I that exhausted that I actually walked through the store unaware that my own name was being loudly paged overhead? "I'm so sorry. I'm usually a good driver - I'm just reeeealy tired right now. I only got about an hour and a half of sleep last night." Probably because I looked like death warmed over, they cautiously studied me some more and then said: "O.K. just drive safely home."

Yep, it has finally come to that. I am so sleep deprived that I am walking, and apparently driving, around like a complete zombie. Bill keeps a sleep chart on the children because they both have sleep problems and the data helps their doctor. In any case, looking back over the data for September to the present, it is no wonder I can barely function these days. Bill and I try to share the overnight responsibilities but since our move I have been trying to take on more of them since Bill makes a long commute. He used to do the same when I was the one with the long commute. In any case, let me share some data with you to give you an idea of what I am talking about...

Let's take a look back:
Sept 1 up at 4:00
Sept 3 up at 3:45
Sept 5 up at 2:15
Sept 6 up at 1:30
Sept 7 up at 4:00
Sept 9 up at 2:00
Sept 11 up at 3:00
Sept 14 up at 4:00
Sept 16 up at 4:00
Sept 18 up at 3:00
Sept 21 up at 12:30
Sept 22 up at 2:30
Sept 24 up at 3:30
Sept 25 up at 3:00
Sept 26 up at 3:30
Sept 27 up at 4:00
Oct 2 up at 1:00
Oct 4 up at 2:00
Oct 6 up at 1:15

Just for the record, we count any night where my son sleeps past 5:00 a success and he NEVER sleeps past 6:30. The parking "problem" happened on October 6th. I had gone to bed at 10:30 only to be woken up by Jessica around 11:00 because she was "sleep walking." She was pretty fitful so it took me until about 12:30 to get her peacefully sleeping again. I had just fallen back asleep when Will woke up. So now we know why my brain was mush when I was attempting to park my car.

For most of you reading, this blog entry is just another "poor Katie" moment, but that's not why I wrote it. This post is for the many readers who just said: "wow, I'm not alone." Sometimes when I am following Will around at 2 in the morning I feel so alone. Not in the physical sense, but alone in my daily struggles. At those moments I force myself to remember that there are countless Moms out there who are just like me - sleep deprived, financially strapped, and terrified about the unknown future. I feel sad for their struggles, but also comforted to know that I am not alone in mine. I know that things will get better - I will eventually get to sleep, I will someday start a savings, and the children will one day become more independent. But in the meantime, I will continue to try to make the most of those early hours with snuggles, tickles, and if I'm lucky, a little leisure reading. Sometimes it is hard to find that silver lining but if we look hard enough, it is always there.

                   The Silver Lining!    

Monday, October 4, 2010

Think Before You "Speak"

I was thinking some more about my last blog about bullying and its link to technology, and it got me thinking about texting, emailing, posting on Facebook and get the point. Let me be the first to admit that I love Facebook. I love that I can keep in touch with people that I would otherwise probably lose track of. I love emailing, because it is a much more time efficient way of communicating and it also allows for editing - can't really edit a live conversation. I don't text, but that's only because the hubby thinks it is a waste of money so it's not on my cell plan:) But, like a lot of good things, the use of communication technology has also brought with it some consequences.

People now feel comfortable "saying" things via a post or text or email, that they would NEVER say in person. It doesn't take guts to post online: "OMG, Mrs. Smith is such a fat @#!$&. I can't believe I have her for Math class this year." People feel braver to be rude, thoughtless, or even malicious when the face-to-face component is taken out. Unfortunately this doesn't only apply to young people; although their fragile sense of self is at a higher risk of being destroyed by someone's thoughtlessness. "Grown-ups," and I use that term loosely, have also become seduced by the feeling of fearlessness that communication technology gives. For once, I am going to try to keep this blog brief. We need to lead by example. If we want young people to be kinder to their peers than we need to do the same. When I was growing up my parents would always tell me and my siblings to "think before you speak." All I'm asking you to do is to stop, before you send that email or before you post that blog, and think about whether you would actually "say" those things out loud? Would you actually say what you are writing to someone? If the answer is no - hit delete!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bullies: Wielding Their Mighty Swords

Many of you have heard the horrible story about the young man at Rutgers University who committed suicide. His roommate posted a video online of him involved in a gay encounter with another man. Within a matter of seconds everyone knew. Everyone. For me this story isn't really about homosexuality but instead about a growing problem we have in this country with bullying. As I thought about this awful story over the past few days I started wondering why...why are we hearing so many more stories of young people ending their lives over bullying? Bullying has been around forever, right? So what has changed?

For my generation - remember back to when we were in junior high or high school. There were kids that got teased and picked on, right? Kids that were different. Whether you were a part of that teasing or not, think about "how" that teasing or bullying was done. Through verbal exchanges at school. Through gossiping on the phone in the evening if your parents allowed you to have a phone in your room. And through the most popular method, passing notes in class. Wow - passing notes. Now think about today's generation. If they want to make some one's life a living hell all they have to do is post nasty comments on myspace or twitter or facebook get the point. The bullies of today can wield their mighty swords in a more profound way. They are going to be able to cut much deeper than we ever could.

I think a little bit of teasing and getting picked on is a natural part of growing up. Call me old fashioned. I think it is a part of adolescence that no one is exempt from. Even the most popular kids are subject to the occasional jab. But maybe today's teens are meaner or more self-absorbed (I think so) but maybe not. Maybe kids are bullied more aggressively (I think so) but maybe not. Either way, that's not the problem. The problem is the way the bullying is done. If someone passes a nasty note about "Joe" and "Kevin" caught kissing behind the school building, that note reaches one person. Then you have to wait for the gossip mill to pass the info along. Even when it does finally reach everyone - there's nothing tangible there. No video, no photos, no blog. But, if someone posts a video of "Joe" and "Kevin" kissing everyone knows immediately and even worse yet - now there is proof.

So what can we do about this? How can we, as a society, cut down on the senseless bullying-induced suicides that we have been hearing about? Corporations have sensitivity training but young people are much too immature to get the value of something like that. If anything, it would probably just fuel the fire. "Oh, poor Joe and Kevin. We're sorry you feel so misunderstood. Let's just all be friends." I can practically hear the sarcastic dialogue in my head. Then what? We can't take away the Internet. Like it or not, technology is only going to get bigger and better and young people are going to continue to be drawn to it.

It feels like this is the point in my blog where I'm supposed to say: "here's what we need to do" - but I honestly don't know. I think of my own kids and the likelihood that they will be the target of bullying someday because they are different. Especially Jessica whose whole world, already at age 5, revolves around (1) boys and (2)having friends and being liked. How devastated would she be if someone decided to play a "joke" and have a boy pretend to like her, only in the end for all their emails to be shared online for everyone to laugh at. How would she react? As a parent, all I can hope for is that she and I have the kind of relationship where she feels like she can talk to me. I remember running home after school and telling my mom all about my day. In high school she knew who everyone was dating; what the latest gossip was; in general, she was involved. Sometimes she had to pry it out of me, but she always "knew" when something wasn't right with me. She "knew" when I broke up with a boyfriend or when I was fighting with my friends. She paid attention. And I know she wasn't above reading notes she'd find laying around. "Privacy rights" were different with my generation. All I can hope for is that I am that kind of mom. It may not be an answer to our problems as a society, but right now, it's all I've got.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


"So, where are you from?" Such a simple question and one that is among most people's list of "small talk" starters. I've always struggled with this one because we moved so much while I was growing up. I was born in LaFayette, Indiana but moved to LaPorte, Indiana before the age of one. My family stayed there until I was 7, although I'll be honest, I don't have too many vivid memories from those early years and have never really considered myself a Hoosier. Next stop was Watertown, Wisconsin. Cute little town with a large German population. We stayed for about a year or so then moved on to Camanche, Iowa...not one of my favorite pit-stops along this journey. Luckily we only stayed there for a year then moved back to LaPorte, Indiana for a few months. The next move would be a good one...Mentor, Ohio. We moved the summer before my 6th grade year and we stayed all the way through my graduation, moving within days of commencement. My family moved to an adorable town called Hershey, Pennsylvania for a short period of time then on to Naperville, Illinios but for me these were only places to come home to on school breaks since I went on to Ohio University...Ohio remained my "home."

Awwww, OU! Now that was four amazing years! A recent article in the Plain Dealer really got me thinking about my time in Athens. My older sister attended OU and during a "Little Sibs" weekend I fell in love with all the cute shops & restaurants on Court Street and, let's be honest, the very active night-life. Keeping the tradition going, both of my younger brothers would also become Bobcats. There really isn't any place quite like OU. The campus is gorgeous and it really feels like you are in a world of your own since the school is nestled in the Appalachian hills of Ohio. My time at OU created some of my happiest memories and I've loved every chance I've gotten to go back and visit.

I graduated and got married and followed my husband to Illinois for 3 years but I was always eager to return back to Ohio...and we did. I guess I never really realized just how much I love Ohio until recently, when my sister moved back from Chicago. I found myself saying: "I'm so glad you've moved back home," and it hit me...THIS is where I'm "from." There are many gorgeous places in the world and I hope to have the opportunity to travel someday and experience all that they have to offer, but moving around as a child made me long for a place where I could put down roots - and that's what I'm doing.

So, I think the next time someone asks me where I'm from I'll simply say: "I was born in Indiana but Ohio has always been my home.

P.S. Hey Sibs - I think it's time for another trip to good old OU. Court Street is calling!

Friday, September 3, 2010

From furious to thankful

So I'm guessing my last entry was a little difficult for people to read because I haven't received a fraction of the comments that I usually do. I understand. What are you suppose to say, right? I get it. What was interesting to me though, was all of the amputees that have contacted me after viewing the cheerleading video on youtube and following the link to my blog. Side note: I have posted quite a few videos on youtube ranging in topics from autism, cancer, family fun...but I have NEVER gotten even close to the number of hits I am receiving now because the tag includes "cheerleading." It has been posted for two days and already has over 2,000 hits. Really guys?? of the contacts I received from youtube was a young woman in her early 20s who just lost her leg above the knee 4 months ago due to a car accident. She asked if she could email me some questions. Eager to help a fellow member of the amputee club I said yes and gave her my email. She sent me a long list of questions with a wide range of topics. What really struck me though was her last question:

"Here's a tricky one----how do you deal with guys? Did you lose your leg before or after you met your husband? If after, how did you tell guys you have an artificial leg? This is awkward for me to ask (and feel free not to answer it), but does your leg get in the way when you are close to a guy?"

This question almost broke my heart. As a woman - I get it. Publicly incorrect or not - deep down, most women know that it matters how they look. I was blessed to lose my leg after I was married but I was still nervous about whether he would find me as attractive as he did before. I knew he'd love me just as much - he's a good man - but what if the sight of my residual limb repulsed him? It wouldn't be his fault really. So after I read this woman's question I felt guilty for my belly-aching in my last blog. Yes, I have struggles but I'm not alone. I'm not out there trying to find someone to love me despite my disability. I said I would run again, but what if I don't? In the scheme of things does it really matter? No. It doesn't. I have a loving family. A family that has been there with me since the day I received the news that I would lose my leg. A family that has frustrated me at times because they try to limit what I do, but only because they are worried about me getting hurt - physically and emotionally. Being that loved is not too bad of a problem to have.

So, I still reserve the right to get angry when my leg interferes with my life, but I will always try to stay focused on the fact that - at the end of the day - I really am blessed.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I almost retired my pom poms today!

I was actually running! I couldn't believe it. Granted it had only been two strides but I can't describe how great it felt, until...I went flying through the air. Yep, I had tripped. When I went to plant my artificial leg and push off the ground to lift my real leg I didn't realize that the fake knee was still slightly bent - can't bear weight on a bent artificial knee because it just bends - so the knee bent and threw me forward. I hit the ground hard. The brief feeling of freedom that I felt was gone. It had been replaced by a feeling of being trapped - trapped inside a body with limitations - a body that, at that moment, I hated.

I'd been thinking about learning how to run for months. Other above-the-knee amputees have learned how to run and I knew I could too. I also knew that I would almost certainly fall a few times. Let me just say for the record - falling isn't fun - it hurts! Plus, I usually don't know I'm going to fall until I'm on the way down. With no feeling in my artificial leg I don't feel if I stub a toe or don't plant my foot on even terrain. I've fallen plenty of times, but I knew that falling while trying to run would really hurt because there would be so much momentum behind me...I had thought right - it did hurt! But the physical pain goes away fast. What hurts far worse is the emotional pain.

So why had I picked this morning to try to run? Last week an old friend from high school sent me a DVD of some random footage of us cheering together. I was so excited to watch it. I had loved cheering. What I wasn't expecting was how it would make me feel to see "the young Katie" - the Katie with two good legs. Sure, I've seen photos of me with two legs but I hadn't watched a video of myself. I hadn't seen myself jump or run or dance. When I turned on the DVD it felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I became transfixed with this video; watching it over and over and over again over the last few days. Rationalizing to myself that I was just watching it because I was editing it. I was cutting out extra parts and adding captions, blah, blah, blah. I just couldn't stop watching it. I wished I could whisper in young Katie's ear: "Cherish your mobility. Run every chance you get. Dance every time you hear a song that moves you. Keep moving! Keep moving! Keep moving!" But it's just a video and young Katie would probably have just said: "whatever!"

So this morning, after watching the video yet again, I decided I was going to try to run. I felt optimistic. It was early but it was already sunny out. The kids were playing in the yard happily and I felt confident that I could do this. You know the rest... I picked myself up from the cement and just stood there for a minute trying to regroup. This is the point where I usually channel my inner cheerleader: you can do this - keep going - keep smiling - don't give up! But this morning, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find that young Katie inside me. All I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs: "I WANT MY LEG BACK!" I felt angry at God for letting this happen to me and sad because I knew that no matter how loud I screamed, I would never get my leg back.

Right about now you are probably thinking: "Poor Katie." No. That is not why I wrote this. I know that I am still blessed. I had to sacrifice my leg to live. I'm not going to say it was a small price to pay, but it's a price I'd be willing to pay all over again to have the chance to raise my precious children. So why then do I feel the need to unload all of this on you, my readers? First of all, it is therapeutic for me to write about how I am feeling. But mostly, tonight, I want to tell you to not take your mobility for granted. The next time it you can't find a close parking place in the rain - feel lucky that you can jog across the parking lot. The next time you run up the stairs to fetch something you've forgotten - stop and think about just how easy that was. It is human nature to take things for granted. If I hadn't lost my leg I never would have thought twice about how lucky I was to play tag with my daughter or go to an aerobics class. So I'm asking, for me, try to appreciate the freedom of your unrestricted mobility. As I sit here finishing this up I already feel better. I know that I will run. I'll probably fall a few more times, but in the end, I'll run. Maybe my inner cheerleader isn't gone after all.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dear President Obama...

A couple of months ago the head coach of my daughter's special needs cheerleading squad had decided that we should try to get an invite to the White House. It would be a fabulous experience for the kids and once again bring awareness to all that our amazing children are capable of doing. So we all sent letters and included pictures of our kids. Here was mine:

Dear President Obama,

Hello. My 5 year old daughter, Jessica, is a member of The American Idols All Star Team, a special needs cheerleading squad that has been invited to WORLDS, a prestigious event that takes place later this month at Disney World with over 30 countries participating. This year they invited three special needs squads – only two are from the United States – and our team is one of them. I am not just a parent but also a coach. I know how hard these children have had to work to receive this invitation…it is truly a dream come true for many of them.

I am writing to you because we want to perform for you! In fact, that is our greatest goal. Please call our head coach, Kathy Catazaro-Perry (XXX-XXX-XXXX), and invite us to the White House to perform for you and Mrs. Obama. This would mean the world to the children.

Thank you for your time Mr. President.

God’s blessings,
Katie Cunion

Pretty clear right? Here is the letter I got back (I scanned it into my computer but this blog couldn't insert the letter as a picture so I cut and pasted the text):


July 1, 2010

Dear Student:

Thank you for your letter. I appreciate hearing from you, and
I am grateful for the opportunity to offer a few words of

Sometimes, we face challenges that seem almost impossible
to overcome. When you find yourself struggling, be reminded of the
founding promise of our Nation - that we as Americans believe all
things are possible for all people. If you dare to be bold and
creative, to love and be loved, to work hard every day, and to serve
your community, I am confident you will achieve your dreams.
(it wouldn't allow me to copy the signature of President Obama)

What the heck? If you are going to just send a form letter you could at least make sure that it makes sense. First of all, I am not a student. As I stated, I am a parent. Second of all, what is all this mumbo jumbo about offering "a few words of encouragement"...the challenge is that I asked for an invite to the White House. Therefore, YOU, Mr. President, are the current challenge & YOU have the power to help me overcome it by saying: "We'd love to have your squad come to the White House to perform". I wasn't looking for a lesson on overcoming adversity.

You might think I am just mad because he didn't invite us, or because I am an openly conservative Republican, but you'd be wrong. I am mad because this letter shows absolutely no concern for the letter I wrote. I know HE doesn't read these, but his signature is still at the bottom so he is responsible for the knuckle-head that he allows to read and respond to his letters. Very disappointing.

We have since been contacted by his Social Committee after we sent them a video, and they have informed us that they are considering our request to perform for the president. I still want the girls to have this opportunity - but as for me - I don't particularly care whether I get to meet our current Commander In Chief!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Love is NOT blind

Yesterday I celebrated my 13th wedding anniversary and it got me thinking about love...imagine that. I thought of the old phrase "love is blind" and how wrong it is. True love, the kind of love that can stand the test of time, isn't blind. If you love someone you really see them - better than anyone else does. You see all their imperfections, know all their dark secrets, and yet you love them anyways. Love isn't easy. You don't just fall in love and instantly you're blind to the fact that they refuse to replace the toilette paper roll, or that they've gained a few pounds. Maybe too many people expect to be "blinded" by love and then can't stand the reality that the person their with isn't perfect. I don't know... just my random thought for the day

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hell is too nice for some people

I kind of don't even know where to start today. If I was talking to you face-to-face you would be able to see the anger and sadness that I am feeling. Most of you have probably heard the horrific story about the mother who murdered her two children with Autism. As you can imagine, this story hits very close to home. Raising two children with Autism is a daily struggle (to put it lightly). There are days when I am so overwhelmed that I can barely push on...but I do. Not for me - not for my husband - but for my two children. You may think I'm heartless but I feel no pity for this woman. NONE! I know there will be parents in the autism community that will try to defend her actions as a cry for help, or excuse it because "no one reached out to her." Sorry...that's crap. The only victims in this story are the two children who stared helplessly at their own mother as she squeezed their last breaths out of them. I can't even imagine what must have been going through their little minds. This is the one person in the world who they were supposed to be able to count on no matter what. The one person who would always love them despite their disability. The one person who was supposed to fight for them with everything in her until they got the help they needed. It may not sound Christian, but hell is too nice for some people.

Autism destroys lives…but it doesn’t have to. As a mother of two young children with Autism, I know how overwhelming the effects of this destructive disorder can be on a family. With the financial pressures caused by expensive therapies and doctors’ visits; the heartbreak of seeing your child exhibit bizarre, frightening, and sometimes dangerous behaviors; the exhaustion of countless nights without sleep; and the paralyzing fear of what the unknown future holds, it is no wonder Autism is strongly associated with child abuse, depression, and divorce. Parents reach a breaking point where they feel completely helpless and filled with despair. Although there is no denying that Autism is devastating, it does not have to ruin lives. There can be a good life after the diagnosis – but it doesn’t come easy.

When you decide to become a mom you are agreeing to love and protect whatever child God gives you. No one ever promised me that I would be given perfect children. No one has ever been promised that. Being a mom is a gift but it is also a lifelong commitment. That child is counting on you to do whatever it takes to meet their needs - no matter what those needs are. So you've been given children with Autism....I agree, it's not fair. You have been given a challenge that a lot of parents will never have to face, but you haven't been given a death sentence. Your life is not over - your child's life is not over.

I am not an expert on all aspects of Autism and I do not pretend to be, but I am an expert on surviving its power to destroy lives. I have been the mom who locked herself in the bathroom and cried, afraid of the future, afraid of the day. But I have learned how to cope with my fears, and how to get on with the job of being a mom. The mother in this story isn't to be pitied - murder is murder. She wasn't sparing her children a life with autism - she was sparing herself a life with autism. She said she wanted normal kids. Who doesn't? I love my chidren with all my heart but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish they didn't have autism. I hate what austim has done to them. I hate how hard they have to work each day when other chidren their ages are out playing. I hate autism - but I LOVE my children.

So, I've ranted on and on long enough. I don't really know what else to say except that my heart breaks for those two children. Not because they had autism, but because they had a mother who was so selfish that she let her own needs outweigh theirs'. We in the autism community need to be outraged by this story. We need to let other mothers of children with autism know that there is a life after the diagnosis, but it is up to them. There is no easy fix for autism. The road ahead will be tough but they are Moms and Moms can't give up...ever!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Innocent Eyes

We've all heard the phrase: "don't judge a book by it's cover" but it's hard, right? We see someone and within seconds we've formulated an opinion about them. For that reason, as a society, we repeat another popular mantra: "you never get a second chance to make a first impression." So what does this say about us as a culture, that we try to live by both standards? I think it just says we are realistically-idealistic (which isn't always a bad thing). We are hopeful that we can take a deeper look at people and not make snap-judgements, but just in case they aren't living by this creed, we think we better be on our "A-Game."

If only we could all see the world through my son's eyes. The poor thing has many challenges ahead of him, but one blessed gift he possesses is the ability to see people for who they are. It doesn't matter what you look like to him. He doesn't care how you are dressed or how many presents you buy him. He isn't impressed with what type of car you drive (although if your car has a DVD player you might score some extra points) or with how much money you make. Will sees the world in terms of how they treat him. If you are kind, he will like you. If you pay attention to him when he needs your help, he will like you. If you treat him like he is special and important, he will like you. That's all it takes. Will judges the world by their actions, nothing more.

There are so many things that I wish I could teach my son, but this is one life-lesson, that he has definitely taught me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Lighten up Francis"

I was rereading some of my recent blogs to get an idea for today's post and I thought to myself: "Lighten up, Francis!"

...and that quote got me thinking...

Does today's generation of teens have the same type of shared pop-culture references that mine does? If I say "lighten up Francis" to a peer, it is almost a certainty that they will know that I am quoting the movie Stripes. Or what about if I say "I feel the need...the need for speed?" If you are about my age you are going to know that came from Top Gun. We have a shared reference guide of movies that almost all of us watched repeatedly as kids. It's hard for me to imagine that today's tweens will be able to do this in about 20 years. Movies just aren't the same. Yes, there are amazing action films and romantic comedies, but when was the last time you saw a movie like Breakfast Club? Would today's teens even want to watch it? Maybe I'm just biased but I think the 80's produced some fantastic movies - maybe not by critics standards - but movies that we could relate to. Movies that we wanted to watch over and over again. So, today I am going to share Katie's list of most quotable 80's films...but I'm only going to give you the quote. How many of these can you get before you click on the link? Enjoy!

1. "Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?"
2. "Ooh. Sexy Girlfriend."
3. "Yeah and your looks are kind of pretty. When your face isn't screwing it up."
4. "I thought this was a party. LET'S DANCE!"
5. "Oh, he's very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, d*ckheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."
6. "Don't threaten me Al! You're out of shape, I'll kick your arse."
7. "So, why don't you make like a tree and get outta here?"
8. "I don't know why they call this stuff hamburger helper. It does just fine by itself, huh?"
9. "You're a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot."
10. "I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen."'d you do? Did I miss any of your favorites? Feel free to share others in the comments section!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Not Funny

Brace yourselves! I am about to climb up onto my soap box and really rant!

...big inhale...

"You're such a retard."

"What, do you ride the short-bus or something?"

We've all heard these types of comments made in jest at the expense of someone who has done something stupid. Everyone laughs, usually even the recipient, like it's a hilarious jab. Our own president even joked on Leno that his bowling was like the special olympics. When did it become o.k. to make fun of those that can't defend themselves? I'll be the first to admit that as a child I probably made such thoughtless comments thinking that I was really dishing a good insult...but then I grew up.

These are real people with real struggles and yet somehow it has become witty for comedians like Bill Maher to make offensive comments like: "Sarah Palin agreed to do commentary at Fox News. Which is actually very similar to her day job - talking to a baby with Down Syndrome." Did I miss the joke? Who actually finds this funny?

Some of you might be reading this thinking - Lighten up's just a joke. Take a look at the picture above. That amazing little boy wants nothing more than to be loved. He loves unconditionally. I can't lighten up, because he is counting on me to fight his battles for him. So the next time you want to give someone a good a little more creative. Don't denigrate someone like my son just because you aren't clever enough to come up with anything original.

In other words, grow up.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Curve Balls

I was talking with a friend yesterday about life and how it doesn't seem to go the way we think it's going to. Most of us go through college and graduate with idealistic expectations. We can see our future...and it looks good. We honestly think we have it all figured out - that we can actually control our lives. If only it were that simple.

So then, we get pitched a curve ball by life. We swing and we miss. Now what? If you're anything like me, this makes you mad. This isn't the way things were supposed to go! I had a plan! I was supposed to be the stay-at-home Super Mom; taking the kids to the park and the pool; running around the backyard playing tag; & taking the kids for long bike rides. I wasn't supposed to be the Mom who can't keep up with her children. Having an artificial leg was not part of the plan. I was supposed to have these amazingly typical children that I would sit and do arts and crafts with and help practice T-Ball. I was not supposed to have children that scream and cry because they are frustrated that they can't talk. Autism was not a part of the plan either.

So the plan was shot to what? This is the point in life when we actually do regain control. We control how these curve balls are going to change us. First of all, let's all realize that NO ONE'S life goes exactly according to their plan. NO ONE is exempt from the curve balls of life. We are not alone in our struggles even if, at times, it feels like we are. We are all just trying to carve out the best life for ourselves that we can with what we've been given.

So the plan changes. Now the plan is to be the best Mom that I am capable of being. To make sure my children get the help they need to reach their individual potentials. To let these curve balls make me a better, stronger person than the person I was before. The new plan really isn't that bad - just different.

So yesterday was a huge victory for us. We had friends over for dinner. For most people this would be no big deal, but for us it was huge. How are the kids going to behave? Are we going to have meltdowns? Will we even be able to sit down and eat a normal meal with this couple or will it be a 3-ring circus all evening? We knew the risks but we gave it a shot and it paid off. The kids were fabulous - playing independently yet acknowledging that we had visitors. Bill and I were able to sit and eat while the kids played. The kids got peacefully tired and went right to sleep without a fight, allowing us to continue visiting until after 10 o'clock. When our guests left I looked at Bill and said: "that was perfect." I was so proud of the children. It was so nice to just sit and talk with other "grown-ups" for a change. In that instant I felt like we had a normal life, things actually resembled the original picture that I had in my head all those years ago. Maybe the plan had changed but maybe the outcome would be the same.

I know that today or tomorrow could throw me another curve ball. I could have another set-back with the children's progress or another in-your-face example of the limitations that my leg places on me, but I feel optimistic. I know that on those hard days I can stop and pull out the pictures in my mind from last night's victory when life seemed so normal. So the next time that I strike out, I will know to step right back into the batter's box.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Walking in my shoes...

I've always loved to read. I'll be honest and tell you that my favorite author of all time is Steven King - surprising I know considering what a big scaredy cat I am - but it's true. His descriptive writing just completely sucks me in every time and I find myself sitting at 2:00 a.m. unable to put the book down even though I'm sitting with all the lights on, completely terrified (maybe that's why I haven't read any of his books lately...I need my sleep too much). But I also love the typical "chick books." Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series is definitely a guilty pleasure. This series has adventure, laugh-out-loud humor and a ton of totally hot romance...a nice escape for any 35-year-old mother of two.

Unfortunately, even though I love to read, I don't get to indulge nearly as often as I would like because of my insanely hectic lifestyle. So when I do decide to read these days I have to make sure it is worth my time. I received House Rules by Jodi Picoult as a Mother's Day gift and so far I have not been disappointed. Without giving too much away, the story is about an 18-year-old boy with Asperger's - a high-functioning form of Autism. He is a senior in high school and still lives with his mother and younger brother...oh, and by the way, he's being charged with murder. First of all, let me say that I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan. I have read many of her books and love her writing style. This book is no exception, but it hits a little too close to home. I am only half way through the book and have already had to put it down many times because of the emotions it has evoked in me: sadness, frustration, fear...

As the mother of two children with autism I can't help but internalize this story. Picoult has done her research, because this boy is not just a combination of stereotypical autistic traits, but I can picture him in my mind and see him as a real person. Sometimes he reminds me of my son - sometimes my daughter - sometimes of a friend's child I know with Aspergers. But most of all, she has really hit on the fears that we mothers of children with autism feel. What does the future hold for our children? Will society ever accept them? Will they ever have friends or feel a part of our world? Are they really happy? Will they ever be independent or will they need us, desperately, for the rest of their lives? These are questions that I have asked myself countless times. What does our future look like as a family? Will it ever - ever - resemble anything normal?

I'm not done yet so I don't know how the book will turn out, but I do know that I can already say I would recommend it to everyone. Not because of the actual story - maybe I'll hate the ending - instead because it can help let people into my world, a world that completely and totally revolves around autism. It may not be a world I would have chosen to live in - but it is a world, unlike the mother in this book, that I fight daily to live in and not just survive. Like a lot of mother's of children with autism, she has no joy in her life and is just barely making it through the days. Autism has taken a lot from me, but I refuse to let it steal my happiness no matter how hard I have to work to create it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Count Your Blessings...

Jesus, bless me while I sleep tonight. God bless Mommy and Daddy and Will and Jessica, Nana and Poppy and Grandma and Grandpa, my aunts and uncles and cousins and all my loved ones. God bless all those that are in pain and suffering. Please help me to go right to sleep and to have a nice long peaceful night’s rest and help me to always be a good little boy/girl. In Jesus name I pray…Amen.

Every night I say this prayer twice - once with each of the children while they lay tucked snuggling beneath their blankets. I have recited this prayer to them from the day they were born, recently adding a pause at the end so they can say “Amen.” While I am sure they value the structure of saying this prayer just before going to sleep, I am equally sure that I am the real beneficiary here. Each night, it reminds me of all the blessings that we, as a family, have in our lives. Our family is blessed with a Mommy and Daddy who love and support each other; a son and daughter who bring joy to everyone who meets them; grandparents who are an active and positive piece of our lives; an extended family who is supportive and caring; and teachers, therapists and doctors who genuinely care about the children’s future. That is a lot of blessings. Life with Autism can be so overwhelming and hectic that we forget to stop and think about just how blessed we are. I am blessed. Blessed to have children who continue daily to amaze me with their strength and inner peace. Blessed to have a husband who never fails to make me laugh even on the toughest of days. Blessed to have family and friends whose faith in me gives me strength to get up each day and face life with an optimistic heart. Let me say it again...I am blessed.

It seems so simple and obvious, right? I mean, who isn’t grateful for the blessings in their life? But it is often harder than you would think. There are days when I am so overwhelmed with the heartache of Autism that I feel angry at God for giving my children such life-altering struggles. Why them? Why me? On really bad days these unanswerable questions can overshadow all the blessings that I take for granted daily: my children, family, friends, dedicated therapists and doctors…none of these are guarantees, and it is important to remember that.

So yesterday we went to my parents' house in the morning because my brother and his son, Woody, were visiting while his wife was out of town. I was holding my adorable nephew when Will came into the room swinging his Slinky Poptube wildly about. I said: "Will, say hi to Woody." Will stopped. Looked closely at his 9 month old cousin - smiled the most precious smile I've ever seen - leaned in slowly - gave Woody a soft kiss on the cheek and another little smile filled with love - and then went on his happy way. I thought we were all going to melt...what a special moment. I took a snap-shot in my head to pull out on tough days when I'm feeling frustrated by Will's struggles. This moment was a victory.

The hardships are obvious – you don’t need to look for them – but don’t miss the many blessings – they are there.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Take me out to the ball game

For as long as I can remember I have loved baseball. Although there are many other sports that I enjoy watching or playing, baseball is by far my favorite. I love its rich American history; its competitive, yet non-violent, game play; and most of all, the feeling I get when I'm sitting in the stands, on a beautiful afternoon - hot dog in hand - cheering for...whomever. I really don't care usually - I love the sport more than any one particular team - I just cheer for which ever team Bill is rooting for.

Naturally, when Will was born I envisioned a future filled with T-Ball, little-league, high school games, and maybe even college. What can I say - I'm a Mom - we dream big for our kids. When Will was only a few weeks old one of my brothers bought him his first baseball mitt. It was precious and it sat on his dresser for years, waiting to be used; until one day it became too small and the realization that it was never going to be used became too big.

It may sound silly, but of all the things Autism has stolen from me, this is one of the saddest. I know it isn't sad for Will; he doesn't even know what he is missing...but I do. I know that sounds selfish. He is the one tormented by Autism - not me. He is the one that will have to struggle with it for the rest of his life - not me. He is the one who has had his childhood robbed away from him - not me. But I can't help it. I drive past a baseball field and I see all these parents watching their children play and I'm jealous. I wonder if they know how lucky they are.

In the scheme of things, I know it is just a game. Rational Katie knows that it is silly to be sad about something so trivial when there are life-altering problems to deal with, but still, when I drive past a diamond and see all those little squirts with their way-too-big-baseball caps, I can't help but feel a little jipped.

This winter I decided I wasn't going to completely give up on baseball. I was looking at pictures from the previous year and saw a bunch with my brothers playing catch in the back yard at a family cookout. I thought - Will could learn to do that. I put a baseball mitt on Will's birthday list in February and he got one. It has been sitting on his dresser waiting for summer. He may never play on a team like I envisioned, but I would love to be able to one day say: "Hey Will, go get your mitt, Mommy wants to play catch."

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Resentment or grudges do no harm to the person against whom you hold these feelings but every day and every night of your life, they are eating at you (Norman Vincent Peale)

As I've blogged before, I am a very passionate person. I feel all emotions with an intensity that is, at times, almost overwhelming. Hurt and anger, are no exceptions. I have worked really hard at being the kind of person that can just let things roll right off of me, but there are times, justifiably so, when I can't keep these feelings at bay. Unfortunately this happened this week. You've already read my previous blog and some of you have sent some very nice messages of encouragement - thank you. I got my feelings hurt by someone I love - the details are not important. The point is...we have worked through it. The thing about "hurt" and "anger" is that if we don't allow ourselves to forgive the person who invoked these feelings, they will grow stronger and stronger until they consume us. Resentment is an ugly thing. Holding grudges is even uglier. Forgiveness is liberating because it allows us to truly release the hurt and anger that we feel.

I'm not saying that we should all be a bunch of push-overs and let others trample all over our feelings...quite the opposite. There are times when anger is warranted and so is an apology from the person who provoked you. But...once that sincere apology is received...LET...IT...GO! I try to live my life this way and I know that it benefits me just as much as the person I forgive:-) So, I don't feel deeply sad anymore - today I feel happy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I am deeply sad today

When did it become so important to share one's opinions. Especially if those opinions are malicious or hurtful. It seems, in our society, that we encourage people to pass judgement on others and point out all the ways that they are better than the other person. We view this as witty or clever. Why? Why do we feel the need to spread such ugliness? I'm not saying we should live in the land of Mr. Rogers, but there is a big difference between pointing out real injustices in the world: child abuse, poverty, racism...and taking cheap shots at other people to make us feel better about ourselves. There is just so much ugliness in the world - why add to it. Why can't we just lead by example - live our lives as a testament to the beliefs that we hold dear - let our actions speak for us.

I am deeply sad today

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Here's the thing about having a is great when you have great anecdotes or philosophies about life to is NOT great when you let it go for a while and it just looms over your head. The longer you go without blogging the more convinced you become that your next blog must be a GREAT one. So, I've let this pressure build for too long & I've decided to just get it over with and blog something so I can move on and start blogging again on a regular basis. Drum roll please.....

Yesterday afternoon, I had just gotten behind the wheel of my car and turned it on when a sweet little voice came from the backseat and said clearly: "Oh, Mommy I can't see. The window is all f*cked up." Visual jaw drop! I spun around in my seat quickly and calmly asked: "what did you say?" Again Jessica said: "It's all f*cked up - use the wipers to fix it." I paused and looked at the windshield...fog...she meant fogged up. "Fogged up sweety. The window is fogged up." "Yes, it's fogged up - use your wipers Mommy- I can't see."

Kids say the best things.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Drinking Problem

So we are already half way through March...let's check in to see how I am doing so far on my 2010 goals that I posted on January 1st.

1. make time to exercise --- NOPE
2. get my family on a healthier diet -- NOPE
3. finish my teaching license --- I'm student teaching right now
4. get a full-time teaching job --- NOPE
5. sorry, but this one's a secret --- NOT EVEN CLOSE

Wow...not looking to good for the Katester! I could make a bunch of excuses, but I won't. Instead, I have decided to tackle just ONE of those goals right now & boy is it a doozy. To be honest, I'm not even going to tackle the whole goal...just one aspect of the goal.

For those of you closest to me, you know about my drinking problem. I drink an absolutely insane amount of Diet Mountain Dew. I got hooked while I was making my long commute back and forth from Canton to Cleveland for over 2 years. I LOVE the stuff and can't start my day without it...but it doesn't end there. I don't just drink a can in the morning to kick-start my day. Nope. I drink 3 or 4 cans in the morning and then a few more during the day finishing up with a couple in the early evening (none right before bed...even I'm not that crazy). So, why do I tell you all this? Drum roll please................

I have decided to stop drinking pop.

Not cut back - but stop!!! No more Diet Mountain Dew (I almost can't type the words). So far, I've only been up a couple of hours and I am already completely dragging and crabby without my Dew. I have a feeling this is going to be rough...poor Bill!

So for those of you who may see or talk to me today - watch out - this isn't going to be pretty!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I know...I'm the worst blogger ever, right? Every day an idea pops into my head and I think - remember to blog about this tonight - and then the day gets away from me. If only there were a few more hours in the day.

Student teaching is going really well, but that's not really what today's blog is about. I decided to wear a knee length skirt today to school. The weather was nice and I was sick of wearing pants (that doesn't sound exactly right, but you know what I mean). I felt fairly sassy in my little outfit as I entered the school, but quickly realized that today was going to be filled with countless awestruck looks by little eyes. Just for the record, this doesn't bother me. I went through my day, answering questions from curious little minds, almost like a walking science exhibit.

Again, this doesn't really bother me...well, not too much anyway. Yes, there is a part of me that gets a little weary of being treated like a side-show. And of course, I would LOVE to have my old leg back. But, since my magic wand isn't working, that's not looking too likely. Here's the thing - in a lot of ways I prefer days when I am wearing shorts or a skirt. At least on those days people can see my leg and know why I am walking oddly. With one quick glance they say: "Oh, she has an artificial leg" (or as kids call it: a robot leg...that never gets old). In contrast, on days when the leg is covered, I actually feel more self-conscious because I know people are looking at me and wondering: why is she walking like that? What's wrong with her? On those days, I almost wish I had a tshirt that said: Fake leg. Get over it!

So today was pretty liberating. At least now everyone in the school knows why I walk so bizarrely and they can stop speculating. I will confess though that there is a part of me, the ornery part of me, that still has to suppress the urge to say: "shark attack" when people ask me - so,how did you lose your leg? What can I say...I'm rotten.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Good Daddy

You know those days where you wake up and you can just feel that it isn't going to be a great day? Maybe you don't feel well or you have something troubling on your mind...or all of the above. Yesterday was one of those days for me. I woke up with a horrible headache - the kind that makes you feel almost nauseous. My morning routine seemed off: I was running late making lunches and getting the kids out of the door. And to top it all off we had a mountain of snow outside and it was snowing AGAIN! Usually, after a couple of Diet Mountain Dews I catch my stride but not yesterday. I resigned myself to the fact that it was just going to be "one of those days."

I made it through the day at the school where I am student teaching and rushed out to the parking lot to hurry home before Will got off the bus. My car was covered in snow...ugh...and I almost slipped about a dozen times while trying to clean it off. Usually, Will's transportation van brings him home at 3:30 and with how slow traffic was moving due to the snow-covered roads, I was just going to make it home in time. Exhale!

I arrived home to find that my adorable 1-year old puppy had chewed up a couch cushion leaving white fluff all over my house! The day was just getting better and better.

3:30 came and went with no sign of the van. I figured snow was slowing them down too, but I was still getting nervous. Finally, at 4:00 my little man arrived home safely and I knew we had to hurry to pick up his sister at preschool. Without even letting him take his coat off, I rushed Will through the house and out the back door to get in the car. The snow was really coming down as I shuffled my way into Jessica's school. I gathered up Jessica and her rushed her out to the car.

The evening came and went and it was finally bed time for the squirts. Right before bed Bill said to me: "where's David?" David is Jessica's stuffed dragon. She sleeps with him EVERY night, takes him to school, takes him in the get the point. She says he is her best friend and she LOVES him dearly. He goes everywhere that she goes. I looked at Bill and in an instant I knew - David was still at school in Jessica's cubby. I hadn't grabbed him! We both knew this was going to be bad.

As if on cue, Jessica says: "Daddy, where's David?" I tried to explain to her that David was at school in her cubby. She started crying. We tried to console her but she kept saying: "But David will be so scared." My heart was breaking. Nothing would console her. We got her in bed, tears still flowing, and Bill said goodnight giving me a good luck look. I laid there with her trying to comfort her but she was heartbroken and so was I. I told her Mommy was sorry for leaving David at school - and to make me feel even worse she said: "It's o.k. Mommy. I love you."

An eternity passed - or so it felt - and the bedroom door slowly opened. Bill walked in holding David. I have never seen such absolute relief and joy on a child's face as I saw at that moment. Daddy had saved the day. Bill had gotten in the car and driven to the school hoping to convince a janitor to let him in. He had knocked and knocked and waited and waited until a nice woman came walking out the door carrying trash. He explained his problem and she said she would go look for David.

Long story short -- too late, I know -- my horrible day had the most amazing ending. All little girls should be so lucky as to have a Daddy as wonderful as my husband. He would do anything for his little girl even if it meant standing in the freezing snow pounding on a school door just to get a stuffed animal. He truly saved the day.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Katie's Random Thoughts for Today

1. Saw the best vanity license plate ever: ILRD8U
2. Why is it that when I lay down with Jessica to get her to sleep, I have to fight to stay awake while I fight to get her to sleep?
3. John Edwards is a complete slime ball
4. Feed me and Love me - if only people were as easy to please as dogs.
5. Last season of Lost is about to begin - I've loved it - the ending better not be lame and leave a bunch of unanswered questions
6. My favorite way someone has asked me about my leg: "so what's the deal with the leg?" I'm not even kidding - that's how she asked
7. If given the choice: no Internet for the rest of my life or no chocolate...I'd really have to think about it, but in the end I'm sure I'd realize: "life without chocolate...what's the point?"
8. At a cheerleading competition this weekend - Jessica and I waited with our squad as the team before us finished up. They were an amazing high school squad and I thought to myself: "I bet if I still had my leg I could still do all of that!" Since we'll never really know, let's just assume I was right:-)
9. There is no better feeling than holding a child as they drift peacefully off to sleep.
10. There is nothing sexier than a man who is totally "in-to" you and not afraid to show it -- you can keep your "hard-to-get"..."totally stand-offish"..."you're lucky to have him"...acting guys -- what are you ladies thinking?


Friday, January 29, 2010

Giving Republicans a Bad Name

As I have stated before, I am a proud card carrying member of the Republican Party. I am just about as conservative as a person can get (without being crazy - although some who have talked politics with me may debate that last point) and I make no apologies for the beliefs and values that I hold dear. Love me or hate me...this is who I am.

It is because I am proud to be a Republican that I was so disappointed in Rush Limbaugh's recent Letter to President Obama. Although I may agree with many of Mr. Limbaugh's core concerns regarding the President's performance thus far, I do not agree with the rude manner in which he delivered them. Whether you agree with his policies or not, he is our president, and with that comes a certain amount of respect. To address him by his first name is completely inappropriate, and to make light of his lack of a father figure is disgusting. This is not the voice that I want associated with my beloved party!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Looking for joy

For the last 3 years I have been creating a DVD picture slide show in January, to recap the previous years' events. This is truly a labor of love since I have hundreds of pictures to sort through and edit each year. This year I started the DVD with over 1200 pictures -- 3 hours in length. Wow ! That is a lot of memories. After much editing the final version was 42 minutes long and jam packed with joy. We had a birth, birthdays, holidays, vacations, and random fun spent with family. So why do I do this? I have all of these pictures in scrapbooks. These DVDs are wonderful reminders of just how blessed my family is. I may have struggles - my children may have struggles - but we have a very full life surrounded by family that truly loves and supports us.

It is so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day obstacles and stresses and lose sight of the big picture. Joy isn't always so "in your face." Sometimes we really have to look for it or make it ourselves. On really tough days I pop in one of these DVDs and I thank God for the amazing family that he gave me. I am not alone in my struggles or triumphs - in my darkest and brightest times, they are there with me.

So, I wanted to share a little of my joy with you. I have taken a very small snip-it of the video I just finished and uploaded it to youtube for all of you to see. Stop and think about your 2009 - I bet if you look hard enough you'll see that it was filled with more joy than you realized.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Feeling like a dud

Brace yourself because this blog is a bit heavy...

So I'm in a little bit of a funk these days. We all have those times when we aren't mad or sad necessarily, but we're also not totally happy...what is it? What has brought this mood on and why won't it leave? For me, being in a funk is torture. I thrive on being happy and optimistic and all that Mary Poppins mumbo jumbo. I can usually John Wayne my way through any bad mood - I just suck it up and power through until I'm back to my usual happy self. I've been trying to analyze myself. I started thinking: is it the gray, winter weather? or is it because I need to exercise? Maybe I miss having a social life or maybe I'm just tired.

The truth is - it's probably all of those and then some. I'll be 35 next month. I'm not one of those people who freaks out about getting older because I know that each birthday is a gift that shouldn't be taken for granted. But birthdays always cause me to reflect on where I'm at in life compared to where I thought I'd be...and this year, it just isn't measuring up. Today, instead of feeling like a vibrant, interesting, young mother of two I feel like a run-down woman with nothing of interest to offer the world besides being someone's Mom. I know that sounds horrible...I LOVE being a Mom. It is my greatest accomplishment and I wouldn't trade it for anything, but is that all I am? Am I just Will & Jessica's Mom? There are so many things that I use to be that I'm not any more. I use to be so passionate about horseback riding - leaving work and rushing out to the barn to ride before coming home to make dinner for Bill. I use to be so social - going out with girlfriends and cutting loose. I use to exercise all the time - a true endorphin junky. I use to feel like a woman and not just a Mom...someone interesting and fun to be around. What happened?

Reasonable Katie happened. Being a good Mom has always been my priority. I pride myself on putting my kids' needs first and with that comes sacrifice. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much money - after you take out the time and money needed for the children there just isn't any left for frivolous things like expensive hobbies or active social lives. That's just the way it is and 99% of the time I am totally o.k. with that sacrifice. The past few days happen to be that other 1% of the time. Not sure what brought it all on - why do I feel so uninteresting - but I know this mood won't last. But for today I think I need to channel my inner Stuart Smalley instead of my inner John Wayne, and remind myself that: "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!" We'll see if that helps.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I was feeling nostalgic today and decided to look through some of my old photo albums -- one of my favorite things to do. I was reminded of wild times at OU - partying with dear friends who I still cherish today; fun times with even older friends from high school who I still stay in touch with; and finally, special times with my brothers and sister who know me better than anyone else and yet still love me.

It was the last one that stuck with me as I put the photo albums siblings. I think about all that we've shared and experienced together and how much we have depended on each other at different times in our lives - I feel so blessed. But I also feel sad. I think about my two children and their relationship with one another. It is nothing like the special bond that I share with my three siblings. Autism steals so much from you & sadly this is just one more thing to add to the list. There are times when they interact with one another, but it is rare and superficial. There are no long talks - no arguments - not even unions formed to battle Mom & Dad. I know they love each other - at least I hope they do - but they are missing out on so much. Will they be able to turn to each other for comfort & support some day when life hurts them? Will they share secrets and dreams with each other that Mom & Dad can't know? Will they cherish each other the way I cherish my siblings? I hope so.

I know they are still so very young and have their entire lives ahead of them to build this treasured relationship, but it still worries me. I am so thankful for my siblings - they helped me become the person I am today. I pray that Will and Jessica can someday say the same.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Beautiful People

This story was too good not to share. Apparantly there is a website that is only for beautiful people. You have to be voted in and can be bounced back out if you let yourself go. There are a lot of people that are outraged by this, but I mostly just think it's sad. Granted, I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to take care of your appearance and wanting others to think you are attractive. We'd all be lying if we didn't admit that there is a part of all of us that's wants someone out there to find us desirable -- come on, admit it! But these poor people have let this desire consume them. How can they ever truly be happy?

Friday, January 1, 2010


Every month I post a quote on my website (well, not last month because I forgot with the crazy move). I select quotes that contain a thought or feeling that strikes a chord in me. This month's is a doozy. This quote completely describes how I live my life...full of passion.

Ever since I was a little girl I have been one of those people who does and feels everything with such intensity; whether it is love, determination, fear, anticipation, regret, or hatred. This isn't all good though. When you put your entire heart and soul into everything you are bound to get hurt from time to time; whether it's in your love life, your family life, your social life, your career get the point. No one wins all the time, and when you are truly passionate about something and you lose - it hurts. Life will disappoint us from time to time, but that's o.k. I can finally say, at the age of 34, that I like who I am. I like that I know who I am. I am a passionately stubborn person with strong opinions and beliefs. I can love so intensely that it feels like my heart is going to burst and I can feel such rage that I almost scare myself. This is who I am. I live each second of every day with all the passion and optimism of a small child and I hope that never changes.

So as I begin 2010 it is no surprise that I am overflowing with excitement and optimism. A new year means a fresh naturally I have set up some goals for myself. Some are life changing and some are small potatoes...but I know I will attack each one with the same level of determination. Here goes:

1. make time to exercise
2. get my family on a healthier diet
3. finish my teaching license
4. get a full-time teaching job
5. sorry, but this one's a secret

Now some of these are out of my control (which really burns me up) but they are staying on the list anyways. We'll check back in 12 months and see how I did.

Here's my challenge to you: try to live 2010 with more passion. What's the point of it all if you don't?