Monday, March 22, 2010

Fire Friday

"Fire Friday;" That was the catch phrase we used for the last day of the work week in our dwindling company when a manager would swoop in, at the very last minute, and, lay off another unsuspecting worker.

It was said in jest every Friday morning, yet, underneath, there was a hidden panic we all shared, but, never talked about. The mere thought of having your income cut off in such a shaky economy terrified us all, even more so, because, we all knew a salary that had taken years to build in the unstable field of construction, would be virtually impossible to replace at this time.

So, the tense expressions consumed our faces every Friday morning as we piled through the back door and politely greeted each other before scurrying into our empty offices trying to look busy before management's watchful eyes fell upon us.

It was a HORRIBLE feeling that I felt for a very LONG two years....
Two years of watching the clock and the door and wondering if today would be my "Fire Friday." It was a heavy sigh of relief, week after week, as the axe fell and missed me. Yet, my heart would literally break for others as I saw the looks on their faces and said my many tearful goodbyes.

By Monday, I would push the notion of losing my job to the very back of my head and distract myself with anything to occupy my time. Then, slowly, it would creep back to the surface by mid week and boldly taunt me all over again.

I knew it would happen eventually, but, like the rest of us, I was hoping to just buy some more time. I would tell myself I was well liked and I had dedicated eight years of my life, 40+ hours a week, to this place. I had volunteered for everything and I'm sure they have recognized my strong work ethic...That had to mean something, right? Well, it did, for awhile, but, I knew they weren't going to keep paying me because they liked me! It was a very obvious and harsh fact that we were not selling enough houses and even more cut backs were inevitable.

So, when my phone rang and the call was coming from my boss' office at 2:45 PM on a Friday afternoon, I should have known to expect the worst. However, I walked into his office still not expecting to hear THOSE words come out of his mouth. He could barely look at me as he softly informed me that he had been told to let me go. "Hmmm," I thought, "so, THIS is how it feels." I wanted to make him feel guiltier than he already did...I wanted to yell or plead, but, neither were my style. Instead, I left, I found a box, and, I quietly started packing up my belongings, so, I could slip out the back door unnoticed. I did not want the tearful good byes or pep talks. Nope, just let me get the hell out of here as fast as I can!

Then, a coworker and friend, who was in upper management and knew of my lay off, stood in my door way. Her eyes were on the verge of tears, and, I could tell she didn't know what to say, but, wanted to comfort me somehow. Okay, so, maybe I did want a little sympathy and was secretly glad that she was there to console me!

She and my boss helped me carry out my belongings, we hugged, and I got into my car. I looked at the building for the very last time and slowly drove away as I was still trying to take it all in. It took a good minute or so, for the severity of my situation to set in, and, my hands began to shake. I pulled off onto the side of the road and told myself to just BREATHE! You have survived harder things than this!

I had always taken a back road to work. It cut through the country and I loved taking in the view before walking into my office. Now, I was sitting there, on that same road, trying to figure out where to go from here. Then, I began to look around and realized I was in a place that had always brought me a sense of calmness when I needed it.

I put down my window and felt the breeze on my face as I looked at the pine trees that wrapped around the lake. There was a beautiful silence here. It somehow managed to escape from the bulldozers in the distance and I really appreciated the soft hum of nature that was very hard to find in this town. It was at that moment that I realized I was going to miss this more than the life I was about to leave behind. Despite the heartache I had just been through, the world didn't look any different. The sun was still shining, the birds were still singing, and I had a lot to fall back on.

When one door closes, another one opens, right? I just hope I can find that OTHER door fast!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lipsticks to Lollipops and Everything in Between......

You can tell a lot about a woman by her purse. Yes, her purse!

Not just the size and shape of it, or the label, or the color.... Although, all of those are very relevant in proper purse shopping!

It's the contents of the purse that really shouts out what a woman is all about. Think about it. It goes everywhere with you and you carefully pack it full of items you THINK you can't live without.

No, not the credit card receipts or the chewing have to dig deeper to find the real you in there, but, TRUST ME, it's there!

My purse, (a very sweet Java Blue Vera Bradley tote), which holds a large mixture of necessity and sentiment, is the inspiration behind the title of my blog. I playfully describe the disorganized clutter inside of my purse as,"lipsticks to lollipops and everything in between." Hence, my life, in a portable satchel of fabric I drag around with me everywhere.

Lipsticks: My extreme indecisiveness means I usually have about 4 or 5 of them rolling around somewhere in the bottom of my purse. I remember rushing into the parking lot at work after dropping my two kids off at two separate day cares and taking a final glance at myself in the rear view mirror before I opened the door. Now, you would think since I had several shades to choose from, I would always be color coordinated! Honestly, I would grab the first one I found, after digging and cursing for a good minute for ANY of them, and, that was as good as it got most mornings. However, a little bit of lipstick on this tired and busy woman's face before a long and expected day of chaos and frustration, seemed like a moment of...pure indulgence. Something that makes you feel somewhat presentable and a little prettier, well, the boss and the phone and the build up of paperwork, all seem a little easier to bear. So, lipsticks, and plenty of them, have become my little tubes of quick transformations, and, much needed instant pick me ups.

Lollipops: My side pockets always have a lollipop or two shoved in to quickly soothe or distract one or both of my children when they see fit to misbehave at an inopportune time. (I know, candy! Hey, it works like a charm, and, I have usually exhausted all other resources by the time I give up and yank one out and straight into their mouths!) It's funny, I am usually at my wits end with my boys when I resort to yanking a lollipop out, but, when all is well, and I catch a glimpse of one of them in my purse when I am hunting around for something else, they usually make me smile. They have become an instant symbol of my children, however good or bad they can be, and motherhood is a happy place for me. So, something as simple as a sticky and sugary confection on a stick, is a nice reminder I gladly welcome, throughout the day.

and, finally, EVERYTHING in between: Well, I guess that part, is best described as LIFE and everything it throws at you! The dreaded time of the month and a bounty of tampons stuck in there; the always leaving too late and rushing to work that finally caught up with me in the form of a speeding ticket; the daily progress report from my son's preschool and the mostly funny notes that it shared; the "hopefully" empty jars of baby food from my other son's feeding therapy session; the crumpled movie ticket stubs from my last and rare date night with my husband; the vet bill that hurt my wallet and sadly reminded me that my beloved bulldog was on his last leg;

Life. It's all in there whether you have noticed it or not. Take a look in your purse and see what it says about you right now.

Image credit: vintage purse ad found on

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Unexpected Answer

There is nothing worse to me than having a question without an answer. I am a person of faith but I also benefit off reason. So, I usually find myself in complete and utter turmoil when neither of the two provide me with a believable answer.
I spent months convincing everyone that there was an issue with my son's feeding skills. The majority (i.e. my family, the doctors, the babysitter) kept telling me that he would figure it out and did not share the same level of concern that I had.
I was not a first time mother, I did have some medical experience, and I am not inclined to assume the worst, but, none of that seemed to gain any support to my beliefs.
Then, it happened! I took him in for his one year check up and we saw another doctor in the same practice. He looked at his growth chart and realized there had been a significant drop in his weight. Finally, not just a new set of ears to preach to, but, a set of eyes that were actually really paying attention to what I was saying, for a change.
He admitted he did not have an answer for me, but, decided to delve into my concerns and suggested we send him to a therapist for an evaluation. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! It was the first time in 6 months I had felt acknowledged and hopeful with this situation. Could this finally be the answer to my question concerning his difficulty eating?
I scooped up his referral, thanked him sincerely, and didn't waste any time in setting up an appointment. In fact, when I was told they didn't have an opening for months, I called the doctor back and asked him to pull some weight and see what he could do to speed the process. It worked! I had an appointment, and, that in itself, meant so much to me.
Then, the day finally came. I had been granted 30 minutes to have a "professional" feed my child and see if I was onto something or not. I knew it was going to be the beginning or the end and I begged God to provide me with some kind of answer that moment.
The therapist listened to my concerns, performed her own feeding evaluation and provided me with a final conclusion. "Your son, undoubtedly, has a sensory issue." "Well, there you have it," I thought, but, "what exactly does that mean?"
She went on to explain, "that we all involuntarily react to our senses; taste, touch, smell....your son's brain is not telling him what to do with the food, so, the reaction to swallow is not happening with him. We will, literally, have to teach him how to eat." It was not the answer I was expecting, but, it was an answer!
He was sent to a children's hospital for a swallow study to rule out any physical issues, but, it came back with the same result. His issue was all sensory related. I was given a bunch of information, set up for feeding therapy, and sent out the door even more confused than I was when I first entered. It was not a "pop this pill and you will feel better in the morning" kind of situation. We were beginning a journey with no time line and no real way of understanding when we would see results.
However, I was praised by the therapist for my persistence. She told me that it is often over looked by the doctors and that many parents delay taking care of it because they, ignorantly, think it is admitting there is something wrong with their child, and, in time, they will grow out of it (which they NEVER do).
She gave me direction and hope that early intervention and therapy was the best method for his issue and I was willing to put EVERY ounce of trust I had in her to help him get through this. I have learned SO MUCH about sensory issues, myself, and my son through this experience:

There is a strong bond between your child and your self. There is such a thing as Mother's intuition and ALWAYS recognize and listen to the signals your child is sending you.

Be persistent and be prepared to try and try again, if necessary!!! Don't let your feelings be dismissed or go unnoticed. You owe it to yourself and your child!

Sensory issues are what they are. There is no rhyme or reason as to why some senses do not develop. So, get over the "how" or "why" and quickly dig into the "what can I do" and "where do we go from here" modes.

Unfortunately, there is not enough awareness or understanding about sensory issues until you experience it first hand. I have had to explain even more times than I can count that my son is not "autistic" or "delayed" or "not normal." Even when we were provided with a diagnosis, it was not a well accepted or understood reaction from others. Do not take it personally and see it as an opportunity to inform them of sensory issues.

Utilize EVERY resource possible in your community. There is an organization, provided through our local hospital and funded by our state, which has paid for all of his therapy for the first two years. Then, the school board has picked up where they left off.

My son is three years old now and has fully gained control of his sensory issue. He is able to enjoy all foods and there is no indication, whatsoever, of his earlier difficulties.

This website provides a wonderful explanation of sensory issues:

Image found on