Thursday, November 08, 2012

Speech Therapy

This afternoon, Gus's speech therapist (Rebecca) and his service coordinator from Babies Can't Wait (Atasha) came to the house for our first official visit. We didn't get to any actual therapy today, because we spent the time discussing goals for Gus and trying to nail down a day of the week and time for therapy.

We didn't specify a time for him, but we did pick Tuesday as our therapy day. I think we'll be doing around 11:30/12:30 but it's not confirmed. We will be in Florida next Tuesday, so instead of skipping a week, we're going to do Monday at 11:15 instead. 

I'm eager to see what can be done and what activities and games we can do with Gus to keep his speech going. He was very friendly with them today and was excited to keep giving them high-fives (his new favorite thing to do).

I'm hopeful and excited for Monday and hope that it goes well!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A New Road?

I'm in absolutely NO rush to get back to work, not by any stretch. However, the more I think about returning to work (eventually?), the more I contemplate returning to the classroom.

It's a really weird place for me, because I've always wanted to be a teacher. From the time I was little and in school, I knew that teaching was what I was called to do. I never had any doubt about my future and when I went to school, I got my degree in elementary education. I went to grad school twice and got two Master's Degrees in education. 

I taught for ten years and they were great. I learned something new each year and found myself really getting better as I matured into a "master" teacher. When I was named my school's Teacher of the Year in 2010, it was followed by being named a semi-finalist as county TOY and then I was named a Scholastic Book Clubs Teacher Advisor. I literally went out on a total high. The best came at the end, just months before Gus entered my life.

When I decided to stay home and not return to the classroom, the decision was difficult, but God made it easy for me. My school year was starting at the beginning on July and I was still not able to leave MI with Gus due to ICPC (Interstate Compact for the Protection of Children) clearance not being granted yet. Without any other choice, I had to resign because I wasn't there to start the school year and didn't know when I'd be back to NC.

Now that I've been home with Gus for 2.5 years, I don't miss the classroom. I don't miss a lot of the things that come with being a teacher, and if I'm being honest with myself, should I ever return, I don't think my heart will be in it the same as before Gus.

So it leads me to wonder, if not teaching, then what?? 

I can't see myself doing anything that I'm not passionate about. Which leads me to think about what I am passionate about. Teaching is in my nature, and the desire to teach others will always be part of who I am. So is there something that I can do, that will allow me to teach others, and still be something that I'm passionate about?

My conclusion is one that I think is pretty awesome, but makes me question it at the same time. 

I am passionate about adoption.

I need to figure out how I'd take my desire to help others with adoption and use it for a career. Ideally, I'd love to work for an adoption agency. Maybe not as a counselor, since I don't have the social work background and don't want to go back to school, but maybe something else? I don't know.

I've thought about helping adoptive parents create their profile books. I've seen a few different companies that offer their services and after looking at their stuff, I've said to myself, "I could totally make that myself." I've even started working on a profile book for our second adoption, but I didn't want to put too much effort into it since I don't know how or when it'd be necessary. If we use an agency, they often have specific requirements. And with Gus's adoption, we made a book and it never even went to use.

So... I'm not in any rush to return to work, but I'd love to have some guidance about how I'd pursue working in the adoption world. I just want to help others and I'd love to have a job that I get paid to do it, but it's something that I love doing. That's how I always felt about teaching.

Any suggestions???

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day

I'm still a bit in shock that we're at Election Day 2012 already. It seriously seems like a blink ago that I worked the polls (in NC) for the 2008 election. 

I can remember quite vividly, watching the tv all night (I was tracked out and didn't have to work in the morning) and being so hopeful that Obama would win. I remember really wanting him to win and feeling so emotionally connected to the election.

I also remember not being too concerned if he didn't win. Being a Democrat to my core, I wouldn't have given my vote to McCain, but I supported him and would have been happy with him as my President.

This year is different.

Maybe I'm different, and because my life has changed so much over the last four years, my views are not as tolerant. I don't know what it is, but this election has me worried.

While I'm not as emotionally connected to Obama with his re-election (in fact, had other individuals been named the Republican candidate, I may have given them my vote today), I just cannot, for the life of me, get Romney.

I don't want comments about him. I don't want to know why he's so great for women (BARF) or why he's "so much better than Obama" because to me, he's not. To me, he's worse than GW Bush (and that was PRETTY bad).

So tonight I feel a lot of nervousness about the outcome of this election. It's going to be a close one, and we may not know the results for a few days. However, I will eagerly watch to see who will be the 45th President of the United States.

This morning, Gus and I went to vote at 9am. It was raining quite heavily when I left the house, and had not stopped when I parked at the school where we vote. Fortunately, there was ample parking and I got Gus situated in the umbrella stroller and we made a mad dash through the rain to the school.

When I walked in, I was amazed. The place was practically empty. I was not anticipating an empty cafeteria! I expected at least some sort of a wait, but thankfully, we walked right up, got the voter card and headed to a machine to vote.

I don't know if you're supposed to take pictures of your ballot or not, but I took one anyway. In GA, we vote electronically and use a yellow card that goes into the machine when you vote and then the data is downloaded. Our ballot was very short this year (four pages total- eight items) and I was done in no time at all!

Voting cards and stickers

 I hurried Gus back through the rain and got into my car and the time that it took from leaving my car to getting back into my car was 13 minutes. It was amazing and I was so thrilled that I didn't have to wait in a long line with Gus.

We headed home and a little after 10:45 this morning, Gus threw up all over the kitchen floor. It was quite disgusting and I almost threw up cleaning it up. He has been fine for the rest of today, but I've decided to keep him home tomorrow and not go to the mall for our MC event there.

We played with dough tonight as we waited for Steve to get home from work. Gus was loving it. I'm so excited for Thursday because it's his first speech therapy session. I'm already loving the way he says blue "beeew" and orange  "oooooooar---ge." I'm eager to see what more he'll start to say with a little bit of help. I'm so glad that we'll be starting therapy before he's 2.5 (granted, it's three days before turning 2.5) because our pediatrician said if he wasn't talking more at 2.5 then we should seek help. Well, the help has arrived!!

That's it for me. I'm going to go to bed. I hope when I wake up in the morning, I hear that Obama was re-elected. If not, it's going to be a VERY long four years and I don't even want to think about the direction that our country will go.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Ten Years Ago Today... WOW

November 5th, 2002

315,569,260 Seconds

5,259,487 Minutes

87,658 Hours

3,652 Days

120 Months

10 Years

1 Decade

That's long long it's been since my divorce has been final. 

Some of my friends that I've met in NC and GA don't even know that I was married before. It's definitely part of my past, and not something I'm ashamed of, but it's not something that comes up every day.

I can remember this day, ten years ago. It was full of tears, anguish, heartache, and the feeling that my life as over. In a way, it was true. The life that I had lived for 26 years was over, and a new chapter and a new me would emerge.

I put so much of myself into the last few months of my starter marriage, that I wasn't even true to myself. I was so afraid of losing my ex, and being alone for eternity, that I was grasping at anything I could to keep him around. He, being the oh-so-stellar guy that he was, allowed me to bend over backward, and led me on to believe that yes, the relationship that we had been building for ELEVEN years (yes, you read that correctly) could survive.

However, on November 5, 2002, just one year, five months, and three days after we said "I do" before our Church, our family, and our friends, it was all over. 

Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" was the soundtrack to my divorce

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't wish a divorce upon my worst enemy. Granted, in order for a divorce to be hard on someone, they have to have a vested interest in being married, so I'm sure there are people who have been divorced who thought nothing about it. I'm not that kind of person. When I got married, I never expected to become a statistic and I never thought I'd have to ever say I was divorced.

It was the most difficult thing that I've ever had to endure. Even infertility, as awful as it is, doesn't compare to my divorce. Mainly, because I have Steve there with me to guide and support me through infertility, and we have a family. With my divorce, I was alone, uncertain, afraid, scared, and heart-broken. I didn't know how I'd survive it or how long it would take to get through everything.

With the help of my family and some amazing friends, I was able to somehow, manage to pick up the pieces and try to find some positives in my life. 

I was 14 when I met my ex. On my 15th birthday, he and I started dating, and since I wasn't 16 yet, he and I weren't allowed to go anywhere alone. My cousin Mary came with me on all dates as my chaperone (lol). When I finally reached 16, he and I were still together and able to do things without needing Mary (or another chaperone) with us.

My ex was the first person that I ever loved. He was the first and only person that I dated while in high school, and he went to school 30 minutes away. He was my first for everything, and when he asked me to marry him, there was no hesitation. Never in a million years did I think we wouldn't live happily ever after.

So in November of 2002, I was faced with the reality that I had never been on a date with anyone else. I had never dated really. I was 26 and felt like I had been frozen in time and suddenly defrosted and released to the hounds. It was scary.

But it was also FUN. 


I have some of the best friends in the world, and they scooped me up into their arms and took care of me. They helped me forget about the bad things, and helped me focus on finding me.

It wasn't always easy, and there were times that I longed for the stability of all that I had ever known, but I had no choice but to move forward. I found it really hard to date. I knew immediately if I could see the person in my life as more than just a friend, and none of them had any lasting power. 

I met one guy who, let's just say, wasn't the smartest. He was cute, and I liked kissing him, but he and I would never be a we. He's the first person who actually said I was damaged goods. Yes, I'm serious. He literally called me damaged goods, oh, and the cherry on that convo was that he thought I was cute, but said I'd be totally hot if I lost like 80 pounds. Yep. That was the end of that relationship (and yet, he was clueless as to why I wouldn't talk to him anymore).

 Yikes. It was a harsh reality check, that yes, for the rest of my life, anytime I met someone that I was going to date more than once, I would have to tell them that I was married before. I never knew that it could be something that would leave me branded, and no one even knew my side of the story-- no one knew that I wasn't the one who cheated and decided to leave.

Then there was Dan. Oh Dan. He was so sweet and was just awesome. I liked him the minute I met him and he made my knees go weak. He gave me hope that maybe I could find love again. He and I were in different points in our lives (I was teaching and he was in a fraternity and still in college with no graduation date in sight). He told me he loved me on New Year's Eve 2002. I was smitten, but I played it cool. He and I dated for a long time. Almost a year, off and on. I think my issues with my ex, and not trusting anyone caused some problems for us. He and his ex were very friendly (too friendly and my radar went off about her being bad news). He accused me of cheating, when all I was doing was spending time with B (my roommate).

After living in my apartment (alone) for a year, when my lease was up in August of 2003, I moved in with Amy and Beckie. We lived next door to Krissy, Shannon, and Jess, and the six of us were inseparable.

My heart was slowly mending, and I was dating, enjoying life, and finding myself. But I was still looking for the one and not getting any younger. 

I'm not going to lie. I went through a bit of a CRAZY phase. In fact, when I think back to things I did, I'm scared for myself, and yet, at the time, nothing scared me.

I was stupid. (If I'm being honest with myself). I think I gave my mom an ulcer and to this day, I cannot forgive myself for the anguish I put her though during those crazy days.

I mean, I did some incredibly stupid things, and I know I have guardian angels and spirit guides, because they're the reason I'm not in a hundred pieces floating in the Hudson River. But I digress.

One Saturday, the girls and I went to see a psychic. We all made appointments with her and had back to back times. I was the first to go in, and it was incredible. She told me that I would meet the man that I would marry when I was 28 (This was September of 2003 and I was 27 about to turn 28). She told me that he worked with the earth and his last name was at the end of the alphabet. She said he was tall, blonde, and had blue eyes.

Hmmm... so I was thinking he'd be this Dutch farmer with the last name Van something. LOL. Every single time I met someone, I'd ask if their last name was Van something and if they were a farmer.

Then I met Steve. 


We met in February of 2004, online, and then had our first date in March of 2004. He was an environmental engineer (sustainability manager) and worked with the environment (ah ha!). He is 6'2 and has blonde hair (somewhat brown in the winter) and gorgeous blue eyes. When I met Steve for the first time, I literally KNEW he was the man I was going to marry.

I NEVER had that feeling with my ex. 

When Steve and I met, one of the things that drew me to him was that he too was married before. Both of us having starter marriages, has made our marriage incredibly strong. We have never fought about small things, and when we have had disagreements, we've always worked them out.

My divorce had caused some damage though, and it took Steve a lot of time and patience to "tear down my walls." He used to say (in a Reagan-esque way), "Cathy Kramer... TEAR DOWN THOSE WALLS!!!!" 

Thankfully, he had the patience and love to give me the time and space needed to work through issues, and has been a constant companion since the moment I met him.

Ten years ago today, if you had asked me where I thought my life would be in ten years, I never would have dreamed I'd be where I am today. 

I am so thankful that God had a plan for me (and still does), and that while the divorce was painful, it was crucial for me to get to where I am. I needed those months BS (before Steve) to experience life, live it to the fullest, do crazy (and stupid) things, and get as much living out of my system as possible. I had a GREAT time as a single lady, and I enjoyed the time spent with my SSR geals. 

When I met Steve, I was ready for him. I was finally where I needed to be to catch the boat that was setting sail into my future. Steve is my Love Boat Captain (nod to Pearl Jam), and has never steered us wrong.

I can't imagine what ten years from now will look like, but I pray that I'm as happy as I am today, and that my life is full of love and joy.

Ten years ago today, I never knew I'd be happier than ever in my life, and that I'd have the most tremndous partner by my side.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sorority Girl

Anytime someone finds out that I was in a sorority in college, they usually have the same reaction, "Oh really?? You don't strike me as the 'sorority type' (whatever that means)." I guess because of what people see in movies and on television, there's an image that comes to mind of sorority girls. Usually the girl is super pretty, thin, super popular, and is on the ditzy side. Elle Woods from Legally Blonde is a typical example of what many think of.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen the sororities with Elle Woods clones. I think most people would be surprised to know that most people who join a sorority, do it with the purpose of making friends. Everyone wants to have someone in their corner, and regardless of how we meet our friends, it's important to feel connected. 

Just like there was more to meet the eye with Elle Woods (she wasn't as dumb as everyone thought she was), for a lot of women, there's more to being in a sorority than what meets the eye. 

When I decided to look at joining a sorority, it wasn't because I didn't have friends. In fact, I was a proud member of Phi Sigma Pi Coed National Honor Fraternity and had MANY friends. I was the president of the Alpha Phi chapter, when I decided to pursue joining a sorority.

I decided to pursue joining a sorority because I wanted to know what it was like to belong to a group of just women. I joined Phi Sigma Pi in 1996 when I first started at EMU. I KNEW it was a group that I wanted to join, because my suitemate at MSU, Mandy, was a member of the Beta Sigma chapter at State. She loved it and I thought it was an awesome organization. So when I transferred to EMU, the first group that I wanted to join was PSP. 

I loved being in an honors fraternity. I didn't enjoy having to explain that while yes, it was a fraternity, women were allowed in (thank you, Title IX). Trying to explain that I had brothers who were women was confusing for most people. My PSP brothers were my heart and soul. They "got" me and I loved that our tripod was founded on Scholarship, Fellowship, and Leadership. All three were so important to me.

But something was still missing. I went to an open recruitment event with my fellow PSP brother, Kate (she was an Alpha Gam from Central Michigan and had transferred back to EMU and rejoined our chapter of PSP). Kate and I went and I wasn't sure what to expect.

In fact, what I expected didn't happen.

I expected not to like anyone. I expected to feel judged, and I expected to feel like an outsider and like I could never fit in.

But none of that happened. In fact, I felt totally at home. I walked away and couldn't wait to go back. I prayed that they liked me as much as I liked them, and to my delight, they did.

My grandbig in PSP, Denise, her sister Brenda, was the president of AGD when I went through open recruitment. We shared a connection and I immediately liked her. I liked everyone that I met, and that same week when I was at the bar, Brenda came up to me and basically told me that I was "in." My whole night was made!

Being a member of a sorority was fun. I got to establish friendships with women who have become so very important to who I am today. 

Sure, we had a few members who liked to party with the fraternity boys more than others. We had some drama queens, and we had some members who I never got to know because they were not always warm and welcoming. But you'll have that with any organization. What I did have were women who looked like me, had similar likes and interests, thought that academics were important (I think there were more women in my sorority with 4.0s than in my honors fraternity!).

I loved the philanthropic portion of AGD. I loved doing things for others and I liked coming together with my sisters, to help others in need. I liked telling people about AGD and what we stood for, and why we were awesome. 

One of the greatest parts of joining a sorority was the connections I was able to make because of it. I made friends on campus who were in other sororities. I even (GASP) made friends with some fraternity boys who helped me see that I had a narrow view of fraternities and that I was guilty of putting them into the box that I was desperate to tell others NOT to put sororities into!

If I ever have a daughter, I would for sure encourage her to join a sorority when she goes to college. Maybe not right away, but at some point in her time there, I would want her to see if Greek life is for her. 

It's not for everyone. Committing to other people isn't easy. Maintaining good grades and being involved in various activities isn't something that everyone CAN or SHOULD do. It's hard work to dedicate your time to something that doesn't always benefit just you. However, there are so many great things that can come from joining a sorority. Things that I've taken into my adult life, and things that I used when I became a teacher.

I think more than anything, being a member of a women-only organization helped prepare me to work in a field that's 99% women. Knowing how to communicate with others, share opinions, and work together on a common project are things that I did in AGD, and things I did all the time with my female coworkers.

I guess my point in writing this is just to share that there's a lot more to a sorority than just parties. I was never hazed, and honestly, if someone had tried to haze me, I would have turned them in. I joined at a time when I was more mature, and had solid experience with PSP under my belt. I knew what a kick-ass organization PSP was, and I had nothing to lose by joining AGD. I wasn't desperate for anything other than a different experience.

When my ex-husband (we were engaged at the time that I joined AGD) found out that I wanted to join a sorority, he FLIPPED out. He was very much against it, and just knew that I'd turn into a cheating slut and only go to fraternity parties. 

He had the same negative stereotypes in his head that most of the general public has (thanks to all those who've made dumb choices and have given sororities a bad name). When he and I went through our divorce, it was my very dear friends from AGD who were there to help me through the most difficult part of my life thus far.

And I always defended why I, "bought my friends" to him, but every penny I paid for dues to belong to my sorority were worth it. The people that I am closest to today, were in my sorority.

This is not to discredit the friends from PSP. It's apples and oranges. The friendships through PSP are rock-solid and DEEP. So very deep. I have four people from PSP whom I still talk to regularly and still mean the world to me-- they always will. 

However, when I say I was in an honors fraternity, people usually think it's awesome and have a positive reaction. If I say I was in a sorority, it's usually not so positive. Both were awesome and both made me into the person I am today. And I think I'm pretty awesome. :-)

"How I love those Alpha Gams, so deep deep, so down down in my heart!"