And the cow jumped over the moon

Jackson has a very special pillow.
We don’t go on any trip without it.
He doesn’t sit in his chair without it.
Well– truth be told it’s not really the PILLOW it’s a pillow CASE

Wait.

Let me go back about 7 years

Clay ( Jackson’s Daddy) is a MAJOR WWI history buff. Specifically the airplanes. He’s the type of guy that when you’re watching a movie says “Oh, that’s a Blah flippity blah blah but that couldn’t have flown THEN  because they hadn’t started production until…….”
Yeah. He’s THAT guy. So he had a t shirt that had an airplane on it. A WWII P40 to be exact. He LOVED this shirt, but it was wearing thin, and Clay was loathe to part with it because the design was so cool. No problem for a crafty dame like myself, I turned it into a simple t shirt pillow.

We weren’t prepared for Jackson to glom on to this pillow. But he did. It became HIS airplane pillow.

He sits in his chair and pats it.  He looks at the plane on it.  He asks for it.

It goes through a cycle of use, wash, repair, use, wash repair,repair repair.

All too soon the t shirt fabric is almost too thin to BE a pillow.  And the batting inside it matted and lumpy and misshapen from repeated washings.

Time to get creative again

I cut away everything BUT the airplane and salvage what I can.
I stabilize it ( oh how I love you SF101)  and affix it to a custom made pillow case that matches the colors and present it to Jack.

Thankfully it  passed the test. It’s been well over two years and its still going strong.

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But……… I have tried breaking the obsession.  I’ve tried introducing other pillows and pillow cases.  I want a back up.  I want something ELSE to be able to take the place……Just in case…

I’ve tried baseballs

I’ve tried Spongebob

Etc etc ad nauseum

I would place the pillow near him and I would get a resounding

Noooooo–ooooo
Loud and clear

But then. I found it

THE fabric that would TOTALLY captivate him!!

I smugly patted myself on the back, ordered the fabric and

TODAY made the pillow cases.

The fabrics? oh just…….Prints of Jacks all time favorite book Goodnight Moon ! Cows jumping over the moon! A red balloon in the great green room !! Pictures from the book.
Perfect images !!
RIGHT?! How much more perfect could it possibly be?!

You have to know–  there are at least 5 copies of Goodnight, moon! in this house.
2 ALWAYS within his reach.

I put one of the pillow cases on the spare pillow. I walk over to the chair.

He sees it and says, “Goodnight moon. La Luna”

I’m ecstatic
I put the pillow on his lap

He says, “No”

His respite worker says, “Jack , see it’s on your pillow – Goodnight moon on your pillow!”

He pushes it away and begins to make a noise that sounds like a vintage Plymouth trying to start on a cold morning.  His voice rises in pitch as he emphatically states . “Nooooo-oooooo!”  pronounced with several syllables.

I take the pillow away.

I am totally bummed  and I chalk it up to his obsession with the airplane pillow .
(Autism 1 Tina 0) I take pictures of the pillowcases and post on social media because I still think they’re pretty cool. And beautiful.

And that’s what we geek sewers do ☺️

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Now it’s night and   we are putting Jack to bed when I remember –” I gotta go retrieve Jacks pillows for bed — Aw heck. I’m not gonna put the old pillowcases back on. I’ll just leave the Goodnight Moon ones on. He never notices pillowcases on the bed.”

Wrong.

Wrong.

Wrong.

Jack  is getting into bed and all we hear is:

“Daddy. The cow jumping over the moon. I see the circles. The moon. The moon. La Luna. The moon Daddy? I see the circles. The cow jumping over the moon.”

His hands would flap. He would look at his pillow case and smile. He was animated. He was communicating. He was engaged and engaging. He kept looking at us.  He kept looking at his pillowcase.  It  went on and on long after the lights went out.

I made him happy.

I made Jackson very, very happy when I had absolutely no expectation to do so and wasn’t trying to.

I wanted Jackson to want that pillow case for his chair and enjoy it it THERE .   He didn’t.

And in my shortsightedness, that’s where I let it end. But that’s not where JACK let it end.

I wonder how often we allow our expectations to limit our enjoyment of something.

I know for Jack , whose head is resting upon pictures of the cow jumping over the moon, who went to sleep saying “Tina the moon the moon the moon Tina “– He taught me -once again – to live in the moment.  Be open to all the joy that is out there.

New Year, Same Disease

Last time around this time of the year I was full of hope for 2016

I had been invited to a blogging conference back east by the pharmaceutical company Novartis (#sponsored), Jackson had been making great progress by leaps and bounds, AND he had been seizure free for nigh on 3 years.

Then.  Then 2016 happened.

Say what you want about celebrity deaths and the election of a reality TV star to the highest office in the US–
In the TSC community?  Shit got real.

Let’s get back to that blogging conference.  Novartis contacted several of us “blogging moms” — whom I christened “the real Housewives of TSC” to come back east and discuss the disease : how we all deal with it ,  show us some things they were coming out with , get our input, etc.
There were five of us.
It was so exciting to finally meet in person these women who I had previously only met online.
It was the coolest thing I can think of to sit in a room with these women and talk so openly without explanation.  With understanding.  With empathy and compassion and KNOWING.
You got to to say words like “sega” and “rapamune” without tons of back story.
We kept in touch AFTER the conference too.

And you know what?
I can honestly say, without reservation:
2016 and TSC can suck it.
From each and every last one of  us TSC mommies.

Here’s Becky and Connor from Mixed Up Mommy.  How’s that for a September , eh?
Stephanie & Oliver from Lanier Landing hasn’t had a break in a long time and most of the recent holidays were spent in ER/ICU/Hospital.  Wheeeeee.
Heather and Maddie had their issues as well.
And last but not least there is Larissa and Emmaus’ who ALSO had their time in the ICU.

These are the TSC mommies I met at the conference. They do not include other families I follow and love like Brody’s Buddies and the lovable, awesome DAC.

And then there is us.  We are still dealing with the aftermath of Jackson’s broken leg and osteoporosis.

What I am trying to say is
THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.

So yeah, 2016? You can F*&K right off.
My TSC friends and I would like to raise a hail and hearty “F*&K YOU” And the genetic horse you rode in on.
Take your seizures, your invasive growths, and your neurological nightmares and shove them where the sun don’t shine.

2017 will find us fighting the good fight -as always. It is our way of life.

Oh.  And Novartis? Anytime you want to have us back, we will gladly come back, and come together, and share again.
If for no other reason than to see each each other , to revel in our bond, and to tell YOU and each other:
We are not done.
And we will never be done fighting.

 

 

Fertilizer isn’t just a bunch of crap.

It’s been 10 months since Jack broke his leg.
In that time we have been on a mission to learn more about osteoporosis, drug interactions, growth plates, bone structure, weight-bearing…..
The list goes on.
And on.
And we are laser focused on getting Jack to walk.

In the past month or so we got the go ahead to ramp up physical activity and get Jackson to move more.  To bear weight.  To exercise.
We go once a week  to physical therapy AND to swim therapy TWICE week.
At home I stretch his legs and make him move.
We practice standing up.
We practice putting our arms above our head.
We move.

Jackson and physical therapy is hit and miss.
He tolerates it.
He  is not thrilled with the constant movement.
It has no bearing in his life.  He cannot grasp the concept of these insane movements we put him through.

“Why am I moving over there and back again?  Why are you making me walk backwards? What’s up with this side step thing?!? Get that box out of the way….
Hey.  Just let me sit…….”

But WATER THERAPY!?!
Jackson would spend HOURS in the pool if we let him.

He floats.  He moves.  He’s supported and free.
He yells TIIIIINNNNNNAAAA!! THE WAAAATTTTERRRR! loudly and with joy.

His foot is weighted.  We walk.  We bounce.
We are making great progress.

This past Friday we were able to have Jackson’s teacher peek in on Jack’s physical therapy.  He was impressed.
AND inspired.
So much so that Monday morning when Jack was wheeled into class, Teacher Paul exclaimed, “Jackson!! So good to see you! I loved seeing you walk! Let’s walk!!”
So amid VERY LOUD protestation from Jackson, Teacher Paul and I raised Jack out of the “wheels” and assisted him to his desk, halfway across the classroom.

What happened next was so amazing.
What happened next was so inspiring
What happened next raised my faith in humanity a few more notches.

All the kids (and aids in the classroom) started cheering on Jack.

“You can do it Jack!”
“Go Jackson!!”
“I’m so proud of you Jackson!”

It was with great effort that Jack sat down . When he raised his head to the applause and cheering I was giddy to delight to find Jackson LOVING the verbal support.

He was smiling.
He was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

And the kids in the class were truly happy to see their classmate walking.

It was a spontaneous celebration and I was honored to witness it.

I have been so focused on the end result, I forgot about the journey.

And it got me thinking……
Why don’t we cheer people on more often?
When was the last time you saw someone struggling and gave them encouragement?
When was the last time you saw someone needing a lift and gave it to them?

Positivity doesn’t cost a thing.
And it reaps benefits beyond compare.
Encouragement is an awesome commodity.

Thorton Wilder once said:

“Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.”

I would possit that the same can be said of love and encouragement.
It’s the best fertilizer around.

Jackson and his classmates reminded me this week that you gain more by giving.

Spread that joy around.
Make things grow.

img_2334Jackson at physical therapy.

Other Choices

Other Choices

I’ve been busy.
Really, really, busy. I have been, as the kids today would say: ALL THE BUSY.

Looking back it’s been two and a half months since I last blogged. It’s not for lack of things to say, but lack of time that kept me away.

I work.  I am a mother.  I am a wife.  I am a “maniacal crafter”  and I sell my things (shameless plug).
I have friends I like to visit with. I have obligations.  I have places to go and people to see.
I have the occasional headache or ailment.  I have appointments.  I have stress.  I have housework.
You get the idea.
What I am trying to say is:  Life is full.

And so, the other day I was  scrolling through Facebook I saw a meme that left me laughing.  It left me laughing hard and gave me the resolve to dust off the blog .  The meme was from the good people over at Autism Hippie.  I immediately shared it over at Jack’s page.


It was this little gem:

Brilliant!

Brilliant!

Look at that.  No overly sentimental photo.  No cutesy pie pic. No vintage graphic.
Just those amazing words.

You see, special needs parents get this a lot.
HOW do you do it!?!

Do what?
Love our kids? Do what is necessary to see that they are healthy and happy? Make them a priority?
BE A LOVING AND CARING PERSON?

Make no mistake….I am aware that other parents get this.  A friend of mine has a set of triplets.  HE can tell you stories as well!

But I digress.  I am Jackson’s mama. I am Darrah’s mama. That’s some serious committment right there.
What other choice DO I have? When the going gets rough I cannot just up and leave. It’s not like I could pack up and move cross-country on a whim to escape it all.  It’s not like I could move to an ashram to navel gaze and find myself.
No.  That’s just silly.  You just pull on your  big girl panties and greet the day with love, joy, compassion, and a huge cup of coffee. Day after day after day.
You just DO.
There is no other option.
And since that is the case, I say — enjoy the hell out of it.
Enjoy the chaos, the clutter, the messy, and the struggle.
It’s what we are here for.  It’s what life is all about– putting yourself out there and greeting the day with courage no matter what.

You know who taught me that?
Jackson.
Make no mistake, life is not easy for the boy.  He’s got this whole brain tumors/autism/seizure thing going on and yet he gets up day after day with a smile on his face ready to greet the day.
He struggles, he fails.
He struggles, he succeeds.
He goes on no matter what, with joy in his heart.

How does he do it?
I am not sure he is aware that there is any other option.
And neither am I.
Jack and I?
We’re on the same page.

On the same page and on the same pillow, too

On the same page and on the same pillow, too