The Job I Never Thought I Would Have

Being a stay-at-home mom is something I thought I would never be.  The fact is, and I truly hate to admit this, I never wanted children.  I thought I would be a happily married working wife.  God had other plans.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change my life now, but had you told me 8 years ago that this would be my life, I would have seriously laughed hysterically at you.

Dennis and I never really discussed children before and after we got married.  I was just under the assumption being that we were older that he didn’t want them and he was under the assumption that I did.  HA!  Nearly four years into our marriage, the subject came up……the conversation went like this:

Dennis: “I was just wondering…..when are we starting a family?”

Me: (Assuming we were a family), I said “what do you mean?”

Dennis: “When are we having kids?”

Me: (Thinking to myself….what? He wants kids? The honeymoon is officially over)…..”Ummmmm, I was thinking we wouldn’t have kids.  You want them?”

Dennis: “Duh, yes, of course, don’t you?”

Me: “Ummmmmm, no.”

Dennis: “Oh”

Me: (The conversation got serious here) “Honey, you need to pray for me then; pray that God changes my heart because as of right now, I don’t want them.”

What I didn’t realize about myself at nearly 33 years of age was how very selfish I was.  Probably the real reason I never wanted children was because I was selfish and didn’t want the added responsibility and to be honest, hindsight 20/20, life was SO much easier without the responsibility, but so not as rewarding!

Well, Dennis prayed for me and I prayed for me.  I prayed that the Lord’s will would prevail and if it was my heart that needed changing or if it was Dennis’ heart that needed changing, the Lord would change the appropriate heart.  Three months after the above conversation; it was my heart that was changed.  It changed so drastically too.  I never had a nurturing bone in my body.  I baby-sat some in high school but not often; just really wasn’t my thing.  I had only changed one or two diapers in my entire life and I recall putting them on backwards.  I never played with baby dolls, I was a Barbie girl.  I never have gone crazy, giddy over kids…..I wanted the career….you know the business suits, high heels (which I wore up until the day I gave birth) and the briefcase!  Children were not in my long-term goals, dreams or plans!  Like I said…..God had other plans for my life.  All of a sudden, I WANTED a baby…..I WANTED to be a mom…..I WANTED to experience having a child and I WANTED it NOW!  HA!  Be careful what you pray for…..God will sometimes give it to you sooner than expected and in a way more than you ever imagined!  The above conversation happened in June 2004, God changed my heart in September 2004 and we found out I was pregnant in December 2004!  Talk about life-altering, fast changes in our life!

Fast-forward to now and here I am a stay-at-home mom with a special-needs child and I couldn’t ask or want for anything more!  Don’t get me wrong, there are days that I truly MISS working.  I miss the money, the friendships, the lunches out at cute little downtown deli’s with friends/family.  I miss the accomplishment at the end of the day where you helped solve problems and completed important projects.  Now, my greatest accomplishment is cleaning toilets!  HA!  But, I wouldn’t change it.  I am blessed.  I have a husband that truly wants me to do what I want to do.  In fact, just last night he thanked me for what I do and added that he could NEVER do what I do.  To be honest though, I could never do what he does either!  The fact is, we were all meant to do something in this life.  God had a specific purpose and plan.  Everyone has a reason and purpose!  The thing is, sometimes we don’t get to choose what our purpose is…..like I said, I had something completely different in mind for my life; but God picked this for me…..you really can’t argue with the Lord especially if you totally surrender to His will.  When I prayed those 3 months, I truly and completely surrendered….I wanted what He wanted for me, so I know I am where I am supposed to be.  It isn’t always easy….there are days where I think…..”Really, this is my life?  Cleaning, cooking, laundry, chauffeur, nanny, bill-payer, etc.”  It definitely doesn’t pay well and it is 24/7 with no vacation or sick days and frankly, there are days that I wonder if I was cut out for this job.  But, then I look at my Hannah’s sweet face and I realize that I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I do have the BEST job in the world…..not many people get to do what I do, so I am thankful.  Yes, I know God has something else for me to do, but like I said in the previous post I am just prayerfully waiting to see what that something is.  Until then, I remain thankful that even though I am not accomplishing “important” things in Corporate America, I am in our little world and I am okay with that!

Martina McBride, Boompa, Hectic Life and What Next

WOW!  Cannot believe that it has been over a week since I blogged!  Life is too hectic and is getting in the way of my blogging time!  Ha!  Life around the Blankinchip household is finally back to normal….”our normal” anyway.  We run around all day like chickens with our heads cut off and crash at night.  Hannah goes to bed at 6:15 and we are usually in bed by 9pm….yes, my grandmother stays up later than we do!  But, complaining is not something you will hear from me!  I love “our normal” because it means that Hannah is healthy and we are moving forward and that is so much better than standing-still and dreading what is next!

Hannah LOVES music….country, christian, rock…..you name it, she loves it!  She especially loves music with a beat to it, because my little girl LOVES to dance…..she is a dancing queen.  My dad came over yesterday and Hannah danced and danced for “Boompa,” and insisted on showing him her scar; which I think Boompa would rather not have seen, even though he has the same scar too!  Anyway, Hannah loves music and every morning on the way to school she gets to pick-out which CD we listen to.  Lately, it has been Christian music….Mark Shultz, Casting Crowns, Charles Billingsley, etc.  Yesterday, she wanted Toby Keith…..she loves his music, so does her mama.  This morning, it was a Martina McBride kinda morning.  The song “So Magical” came on and I told Hannah to sing…..OH MY GOODNESS, if I could have video recorded it, it would have been posted on this blog!  She knew EVERY word to that song and sang it at the top of her lungs.  It was so cute and absolutely hysterical!  I am going to have to try to get it on video!  Kind-of difficult to do when I am driving…..HA!  Going to school this morning was so much fun with her!  Love our mornings together singing and dancing!

Well, now that we are back to our routine, I have been praying about and wondering what is next for me?  Dennis has his job and Hannah has school and I am just wondering what I need to be doing….what God’s plan is.  I mean, don’t get me wrong….I love coming home and getting my housework done, cooking dinner, doing laundry and going to the gym; but I know that I need to be doing something more.  I have our Foundation “Hannah’s Hope” that I work on in my free time (I will be blogging about this soon), but I know that there is more for me to do.  I am just trying to figure out what that is.  I don’t want to “work” and fortunately, I don’t have to.  Don’t get me wrong, the money would be nice and if something came my way that I could do around Hannah’s schedule, so not to take time away from her, I would jump at it……but Dennis and I both agree that my number one priority is Hannah, her schedule and what is best for her.  So, I am praying about what is next for me.  I have something I REALLY want to do…..but, I don’t want to talk about it yet, just in case it doesn’t come to fruition.  Sometimes God tells us to wait, so that is what I am doing….prayerfully waiting to see what’s next.

I was going through old pictures the other day and I came across one that I just love.  It is probably one of my very favorites of Hannah and I thought I would end this post with it.  She is about 8 months old in this picture.  I have to admit, I miss this age……my sweet miracle…..we love you!

Six Week Post-Op

Yesterday was Hannah’s 6-week post-op check-up with Dr. Marvin, her cardiologist!  We had a GREAT visit!  Not only did he see from yesterday’s ECHO and EKG that her heart looked great, but he also heard it with his own ears!  He said Dr. Dabal did a phenomenal job with her heart repair.  So good, in fact, that he took Hannah off her heart medication that she has been on since she was BORN!  Whoo-hoo!  No more heart medication, that thrilled this mama!  I know, no big deal to most people….but, when your child is on anywhere from 4-8 medications DAILY for 7 years…..well, getting rid of one or more of them is a HUGE deal!  Not only does it help financially not having to make that co-pay, but it also takes one more thing off that long list of “things to never forget!”  HA!  I had just had a conversation with Dennis a couple of weeks ago and I said to him, God-forbid something happen to me he wouldn’t know how to prepare her medicines.  I draw each day’s medications up the night before and place them in the fridge on napkins…..one napkin for the morning and one napkin for the evening.  He has never drawn her meds up in the syringes and he has never ordered them each month from Publix.  Not that he couldn’t do it, I have just always done it.  So, fortunately, one more medication is now gone!  Dr. Marvin also released Hannah back to all normal activities, which made her VERY happy because that means she gets to play on the playground at school again, which is her all-time favorite thing to do!

Dr. Marvin was so sweet and so happy to see Hannah and us and we were so happy to see him too!  We all three hugged him when we left.  I told him that there was no way that we would EVER be able to repay him for all he has done for us the last 7 years!  He is the BEST!  Another bit of good news was that he doesn’t need to see us back for 9 months!  We have always gone back every 6 months, so we were happy about that!

Hannah had a GREAT day at school yesterday and a GREAT appointment with Dr. Marvin and we couldn’t be happier!  Six weeks after MAJOR open-heart surgery, one look at our little girl and unless you saw her scar, you would NEVER know what she just went through!  God is so good!  He has been so gracious to Hannah and to Dennis and me!  We are beyond thrilled and thankful for the miracle of Hannah!  I know He has a special purpose for her; I know He has something big for her to accomplish and I cannot wait to watch her grow up and fulfill His purpose for her life!

What a wonderful and peaceful feeling it is to now have all of that behind us!  So glad that we can move forward and rest assured that even if there is another open-heart surgery in her future; maybe…..just maybe, it will be years down the road!  Right now, we are rejoicing in God’s goodness, thankful for His grace and mercy and living in the moment!

 

 

Blessings of Friends and the Magic of Disney

This is a post I have put off doing because I knew it would be a long one, but I had to share a blessing we received from very sweet friends of ours.

While Hannah and I were still in Birmingham we spent alot of time in that tiny apartment and Hannah spent alot of time watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  She has alot of the videos on DVD and on her iPad and then also the Disney Channel is all we watched each morning.  She kept telling me while we were there that she wanted to go “play at Mouse’s house.”  She also wanted to play with “Duck” and “yellow dog” aka Pluto; but she calls him yellow dog!  HA!  So, I figured “how much could it cost, why not, it couldn’t be that expensive.”  Little did I know when I promised her that we would go, just how much money it was going to be.

When we got home, I told Dennis that I wanted to take Hannah to Disney for 2 nights and 2 days.  Just to go to the Magic Kingdom on one day and Downtown Disney the next.  Figuring we could do that and stay at one of the Value Resorts for about $400 total!  HA!  I started planning our trip and realized it would cost nearly $400 just for one-day passes into the Magic Kingdom.  I seriously almost lost my religion!  I was dumbfounded how the happiest place on earth could cause me so much sorrow!  HA!  Well, needless to say, it wasn’t what I had thought it would cost and I am sure I have hinted in this blog at one time or another that Dennis and I are both VERY fiscally conservative….to the point, that we seriously HATE spending money!  Dennis is “cheap” and I am “frugal” but together we just don’t like spending it.  Plus, we know we have medical bills that will still be coming in, (we have received quite a few already, but there are more to come) and we knew that those bills were our priority.  So, with that said, Dennis and I agreed that now was not the time to take a trip to Disney.  What we thought might cost $400 would have cost in excess of a $1,000 and we just couldn’t do that right now.  The next time Hannah asked to go to “Mouse’s house,” I told her we would one day, but not right now.  Fortunately, she accepted that.

Well, that day I “vented” on Facebook about the ridiculous cost of Disney and how we just couldn’t “wisely” spend that amount of money.  I was just venting, never expected the blessing that was heading our way.  I no sooner posted that and Dennis called me from work.  His exact words were “what did you put on Facebook about Disney?”  I started laughing and read him what I had written, just venting about how Disney could bankrupt you.  I then asked why and he said that a dear friend of ours had read that and wanted to send us to Disney.  I was shocked and horrified at the same time.  I told Dennis that I didn’t put that on there for someone to do that for us and I told him to tell our sweet friend, thank you so much, but we cannot accept it.  Dennis agreed, and did that.  We thought at that time the subject was dropped.

Two days later, Dennis got a phone call from this special friend and he told Dennis that he and his dad had a connection in Disney and had gotten us courtesy park-hopper passes and Disney dollars to stay at one of the resorts of our choosing.  Dennis was in shock and so was I.  This time, we accepted and we were so excited!

So last weekend, we packed up and headed to Disney.  Hannah was so excited to go to Mouse’s House!  We also got a very special treat….when I called to book our reservation at one of the resorts I was able to book the Wilderness Lodge for the same price as one of the Value Resorts!  I was so excited because I knew that this Resort would be the perfect spot for Dennis (since he is that “country boy”) and it truly was so relaxing and peaceful!  Absolutely one of the prettiest, extravagant and yet rustic hotels I have EVER stayed in!

We had a wonderful time and there is truly nothing better than watching Disney through your child’s eyes!  I have to admit, when we got to the Magic Kingdom, I got teary-eyed watching Hannah.  We walked through those gates as they opened and Hannah’s face lit-up!  As we were walking down Main Street USA, Dennis even looked over at me and said….”it doesn’t matter how old you are, there is truly something special about Disney World…..something magical.”  I couldn’t have agreed more.

Another great thing about when we went…..there were NO lines!  There were NO people!  It was amazing!  We went to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios in one day; in 9 hours and we did everything we wanted to do!  We had a note from our doctor regarding Hannah’s immunity issues and heart issues and because of that we were issued a handicap pass so that we wouldn’t have to wait in any lines, but we didn’t have to use the pass, except for one ride!  It truly was a very special weekend with my sweet family!  We are so grateful for the opportunity that was given to us because of sweet friends that wanted Hannah to have a very special treat, and that it was!

In the last 7 years of this journey, the Lord has blessed us in so many ways.  Sometimes He has used a dear friend, other times He has used a complete stranger; but He has always provided.  We have always had all of our “needs” met and some of our “wants”.  We have been blessed with family, church, friends, Dennis’ work family, complete strangers and prayer warriors.  Through the good, bad and scary times I have never once doubted my Heavenly Father’s love for us, His provision for us or His hand upon us.  We have seen Him work miracles on more than one occasion and we have witnessed His love for us through the people who He has sent to minister to us and bless us.  Whether it has been sitting with us in the hospital (driving or flying hundreds of miles to do so, this last surgery), sending cards/emails/texts/FB messages, bringing us meals, sending us money/gift cards/gifts, sending us to Disney…..whatever the case might be; God has always sent just the right people at just the right time and we feel so loved and so blessed.  NOTHING could have prepared us for this journey and no one could have told me 8+ years ago that this would be our life…..BUT, God has provided and He has allowed us the ability to see the “good” through it all!  It has not been an easy road, but because of His faithfulness, He has seen to it that we have been loved and taken care of through it.  We can NEVER say “thank you” adequately, we  just have to somehow find a way to “pay it forward” and to one day be a blessing to someone else as so many have been to us.

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 

Ready….Set….Go…..

This week has been a whirlwind and I realized today that this is our “new normal!”

Over the summer, Hannah and I rarely left the house.  If we did, it was to go through Chick-fil-a’s drive-thru, go to the doctor or after Dennis got home for me to run a few errands.  Other than that, she and I stayed home the entire summer.  We stayed in so to keep her well for her surgery…..even keeping her in she somehow got Scarlet Fever….so even our “protective bubble” isn’t foolproof!  HA!  Then, in Birmingham, other than going for our 2-4 walks per day, we stayed in that tiny apartment.

Now, we are home and back in the routine of 6:15 pm bedtime (for Hannah not Dennis and me), up early, going to school and absolutely running around like a chicken with our heads cut off!  Whoo, makes me miss the summer….not the emotional and mental part of the summer; but the nothing-to-do-relax-take-it-easy, lazy day of summer part….that I MISS GREATLY!

Most people laugh at me….they don’t understand how someone can be such a HOMEBODY!  But, I am…..my favorite place in the world is my home!  Not because it is big or fancy, it’s not (remember people, I am married to a cop).  Yes, I even rather be at home than Steinmart or Target….I know, hard to fathom; but it is true!  I just love being home in my shorts and t-shirts with no makeup and my hair in a ponytail.  I guess most people think I probably sit around and “eat bon-bons and watch TV all day,” my dad used to tell everyone my mom did that; joking of course.  But, the truth is after watching the first hour of Fox and Friends and drinking my coffee, the TV is off until the evening.  There is ALWAYS something to do.  Laundry, cleaning, dishes, projects (like my desperate need to clean out all of our closets).  I have NEVER run out of things to do at home.

This week has made all my normal activities pile up too.  I haven’t had time to do everything I did this summer and I am already beginning to go crazy (to which Dennis will say doesn’t take much).  I just look around and know that there is so much to do, but have no clue where to start.  I will say that it should get a little easier, hopefully in the next week or two.  Hannah is only going to school from 9am-11:45am right now, so she can re-acclimate and continue to heal.  As soon as we are given the okay, she will go until 2:45pm, which will allow me so much more time to get things done at home before I have to go pick her up.  So, it will all get easier soon and hopefully I can hit the gym again as well.  I haven’t been able to go since June and well, it is starting to show. HA!

All of that to say, this has been a very hectic week.  I rarely got in the car all summer and this week it feels that is all I have done….drive.  I am not complaining though because my sweet Hannah is back in school, doing great and happy, happy, happy….what more could any mama ask for?

Back to School

I cannot believe that my sweet Hannah went back to school today, not even 5 weeks after open-heart surgery!  GOD IS SO GOOD!

Hannah woke up at 3:30 this morning, turned on her light and said “wake-up mama….school!”  HA!  I quickly informed her that we had 3 more hours to sleep and I would appreciate it very much if she would go back to night-night!  Fortunately, she happily crawled back in bed and went to sleep.   She was BEYOND excited to go to school this morning!  She walked in, said good morning to her teacher and her teacher assistant; hung her backpack and lunchbox on her hook and proceeded to go about her day with the BIGGEST smile on her face!  She was the happiest I have seen her in MONTHS, and she is always happy, but this was a different happy….almost as if she knows the surgery is finally behind us and life is moving forward again!

She has 4 new kids in her class this year and 2 of them are girls.  Hannah was the only girl in her class last year.  I got real teary-eyed, when one of the little girls walked up to Hannah, took her by the hand and walked over to the other little girl.  It hit me…..the great thing about ALL the kids in Hannah’s school is NONE of them see each other’s disabilities, they just see a person with abilities!  They don’t care if you have Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy or any other learning disability…..they just see a person.  Those 2 new little girls, who had never laid eyes on Hannah before instantly befriended her.  They didn’t stare at her or ask what was wrong with her….they didn’t see anything different about her.  They just knew that they wanted to help her fit in and to be a part of them and what they were doing.  It made my heart smile so big.  I don’t get many moments like that where I truly feel that Hannah is accepted by other children or adults for that matter.  So, moments like that are PRECIOUS to me because they are so very rare!

Hannah, Dennis and I are so looking forward to this school year and so thankful for Hannah’s school, the administration, staff, teachers and students!  Hannah was embraced this morning by everyone!  They were all so happy to see her and have her back…..what a blessing for Dennis and me!  Just the thought that Hannah is loved and cared for when she is in school is so important to us….to know that she is SAFE is the best feeling in the world!

I have to admit, I was a little excited myself this morning!  After nearly 4 months of isolation, we are FREE!  I ran some errands and enjoyed some time alone, which I so desperately needed!  Hannah is only going 1/2 days this week, but hopefully after her cardiology appointment next Tuesday, he will clear her to return to full-days….at that time, I will do my “happy dance!”

My Public Service Announcement

Okay, here is my PSA…..if I knew how to do video on this thing, I might have just done that, but here it goes….

Why is it that any person thinks they are better than someone else?  It is disgusting to me that people bully others for anything and everything.  What bothers me the most are people who bully those that are handicapped (mentally, physically or cognitively).

I remember two times growing up where I was “bullied,” although I would call it “picked-on,” because it was relatively calm.  I was not a skinny kid, rather “pudgy” as my mom called it.  I got picked on from 1st grade thru 5th grade and then the summer between my 5th and 6th grade year, my height caught up with me and I became a stick…..never had a “figure” through high school……just a stick!  Anyway, so I remember getting teased and picked on for my body shape all my life, not daily just periodically.   The other time was in the 7th grade.  I went to Stanton and it is a college prep school and goes through grades 7th-12th (at least it did when I went there).  My brother, Tracy, was there too but was in the 11th grade.  He was very popular and everyone liked him.  To this day, my brother doesn’t have any enemies (other than the ones he puts in jail now).  He is liked by everyone, almost is disgusting, but I digress!  HA!  Anyway, I was overwhelmed my first day of school and finally got on the bus to head home.  I sat on the 2nd row and Tracy was in the very back.  This boy named Jon (I will not post the last name, but I do remember it), he was Tracy’s age and sat behind me.  I just wanted a peaceful bus ride, but that was not to be.  Jon made it his mission to bug me to death!  He would put things in my ears and then tap me on the head with a stick.  He called me names and all because I was shy, young and a girl and he had nothing better to do obviously.  I eventually burst out into tears, which I am pretty sure was his mission and he accomplished it very nicely.  Well, a girl who saw what was going on and was a friend of Tracy’s went to the back of the bus and told Tracy that I was crying and that Jon was picking on me.  Well, Tracy yelled from the back of the bus, “hey Jon, leave her alone, she’s my sister.”  Well, immediately Jon became my new “unwanted” best friend.  He wanted then to sit with me everyday, carry my books, hug me, ask me how my day was and be my new BFF all because I was Tracy’s little sister!  HA!  What makes me sad about that today, is most people don’t have a big brother or big sister around to protect them.  People that get “picked-on” or “bullied” seem to be alone and it truly breaks my heart.  I had a protector, even though he would rather have ignored me, he was there when I needed him the most.  If you read this, Tracy, Thank You!

I say all that to say this, back 25+ years ago it was mild compared to today.  My little Hannah is 7 years old and has faced bullying already.  It crushes me that children and adults can make fun of my daughter and not think twice about it.  It breaks my heart that children and adults like Hannah, that have special needs, can be brutally attacked physically, verbally, mentally and emotionally!  The problem is, do you want to know whose fault it is????  Well, I am going to tell you….it is the PARENTS fault!

So, here is my PSA……Parents, PLEASE teach your children respect, kindness and acceptance of EVERYBODY no matter their abilities or disabilities!  The great thing about Hannah’s 3rd 21st chromosome is, that part of my training her, was included in that little chromosome.  I have said it before and I will say it again…..Hannah doesn’t see black or white; old or young; rich or poor; gay or straight; abilities or disabilities; Christian or non-Christian…..she sees people, and when she sees people she feels nothing but love…….hmmmmm, not too shabby for a kid with Down Syndrome.  Maybe my Hannah could teach “typically developed” kids a thing or two about what is truly important.  PLEASE teach and train your children.  Trust me in this, your children are going to emulate YOU!  So, if you bully someone or if you pick-on or make fun of someone “less fortunate,” YOU are training your children to do the same thing!  Agree or disagree, I am speaking the truth!  This is from someone who has learned from her child!

To end this, Hannah was bullied by a little girl at church when she was 5 years old…..Hannah didn’t know, but I did and truthfully I don’t think I will EVER get past it.  But this little girl walked up to Hannah and screamed, “you are stupid, you are ugly, you are RETARDED.”  (Just for the record, I HATE the “R” word and if it is said in front of me, I will attack….just fair warning).  Hannah just smiled and said “hi, friend.”  Now, who taught that little girl to say that or better yet who didn’t teach her like they should have?  HER PARENTS!  Parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children…..please do your part!  This world would be a much better place to live!

Today’s soapbox, over for now!