empty loss

Sometimes I just lay in bed and cry.  It hit me hard tonight.  Driving is very difficult at times, too, probably because, unless children are screaming, I’m left alone with my thoughts for 45 minutes.

I have to cry privately, it upsets the children.

I just miss her so much and my heart cries out for resolution.  Losing my other friend to cancer is different, we know where she went.  But we don’t know where she is.

And another friend said something to me yesterday that, at the time, didn’t register much, I guess.  But now, full meaning has arrived and I don’t know what to do with this information.

My brain is too full lately.  I don’t really have room for grief.  I push it away as long as I can get away with.

Today was a symbolic day of a year ago.  Rather, a year, one week, and six days ago.  We were all doing this same thing one year, one week, and six days ago and when we woke up the next morning we went about our day but soon the reality would come and change our lives forever.

I have so many things I want to tell her, so many things I want to ask her.

Oh God, please reveal the truth.  I’m not sure we can take any more of this.

Kodak Duaflex IV

I bought this marvelous little vintage camera on E-Bay over a year ago now.  I was looking for something specific for a prop – in good condition, smaller, from the 50’s or 60’s, and also affordable.

Here came the Kodak Duaflex IV!


I love this little thing, it is my favorite vintage camera I own and it is in very good condition.  Doing some Googling, I found out that the Duaflex IV was manufactured from 1955 to 1960, of course, was 4th and last in the Duaflex series.  Mine actually came with the flash attachment but I didn’t have a bulb for it so I’ve stashed that part away for now.  The camera takes 620 film for 2.5″x2.5″ sized photos.

I used this thing for a prop for a themed modeling shoot along with another camera and then used it as a prop in two bridal shows and a couple of other shows.  It was at a local show almost a year later that I finally opened up the film compartment.  Strange because my other vintage cameras have been opened right away.

I was surprised to find a finished roll of film in there!  There was no telling if it was any good, especially after how many years??  The film could be as old as the camera or as “new” as 1995 when it was discontinued.  I highly doubted anyone was using this camera that late in the game, however.

So I looked into getting it developed and found The Darkroom, I sent the film in.  I ordered medium sized scans and printed photos and shipped it off.  I thought that maybe some day I’d like to shoot some of my own photos with this camera, if it’s still working of course, and found that you can roll your own film for a 620 camera by spooling 120 film onto the 620 spool.  So I asked for the spool to be returned (it’s original metal) and they were happy to do so for me.  Maybe some day I can do that after we get our limbo-life settled.

I sort of expected to get a roll of nothing good, either unexposed or too old and ruined by now, but was delighted to get back 12 photos, 11 of which are pretty darn good, with only 1 that’s really blurry.

from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV from my Kodak Duaflex IV

Being the old fogey I am, it makes me wonder about the people who took the photos.  Were they on vacation?  Going somewhere for business?  Where?  When?  Why didn’t they ever develop the film?  The man in the 4th photo appears to have some sort of recorder, was he with the person taking the photos or was it his camera?  Or was he just someone they met on travels?  From his dress, I’m thinking the 1960’s sometime?  So many questions.  :)

I would love to find the family of whoever took these photos but I don’t think it will ever happen.  I ended up messaging the person I bought the camera from and she said she did know it had film in it and she didn’t know who the camera had belonged to before her, she bought it at some estate sale or something.  All in all she was pretty uninterested and unhelpful, heh.  Who knows, maybe some day someone will recognize that man.  How cool would that be…

Grandma’s granny squares

Yup, I like to crochet.  I’m a bit of a lazy crocheter, I like to make scarves, haha.  Blankets too.  I’ll make some really cute stuff then decide I never want to make it again, like this cupcake hat I did for someone or this owl blanket which is pretty epic but will never be repeated by me.  For one, I haaaaate weaving in ends.  Like I’m seriously allergic to it.

My grandma first tried to teach me crochet when I was probably in 6th grade.  I didn’t get far with it then and it wasn’t until after she passed away that I tried to teach myself again from the beginning.  But I was hopelessly lost on my own and threw it down in frustration.  Then, when my daughter was a few months old, some ladies held a crochet night at church.  Some, uh, of the more mature ladies, taught us younger ones and we just had a fun night.  One special lady who’s grandsons call “tubby moo moo” (don’t ask) and who is married to a man my husband likes to harass (it’s mutual, trust me) taught me all of the basic stitches and this time I picked it up right away.  After that night, I was finally able to really do anything I wanted to, I can now follow directions or a video tutorial to do anything I can’t figure out on my own.

So fast forward to today… well, last week.  My parents are also building a new house and are moving and my mom found what she called my grandma’s last project.  I’m pretty sure these 5 granny squares were going to be a baby blanket for one of the grandkids.  I like granny squares (as long as we’re not talking colors that came out of the 1970’s yuck) but have never done any with flowers inside them.  They’re really pretty.  There’s an odd number, however, and the only unworked yarn that came with them is a tiny little ball that could do only one or two more squares at the very most.

So now I’m wondering what to do with these.  I really want to do something with these where I can make them useful to myself in some way.  My grandma was always very special to me so I love having things that remind me of her.  Even my daughter carries Grandma’s first name as her middle name, the only grandchild or great-grandchild to be named after her.

I thought maybe I could turn them into a scarf, but I’m really not sure how.  For one, this is also a finer yarn than I’m used to.  I prefer worsted and this looks to be sport which is smaller and lighter and tends to frustrate me because I cannot move as quickly with it.

So now my thinking wheels are turning.  I had to finish up the fingerless gloves and scarf set I was making for my mom real quick, but I did that yesterday, so now I’m free to go in my crochet world.  Sadly, I don’t get to crochet nearly as much as I would like (especially considering it’s usually a pretty therapeutic and stress-relieving thing to do), but soon I vow to work these into… something!

one year gone

It has now officially been one year since my friend disappeared into thin air. A long year full of looking, waiting, worrying, crying, missing.

Actually, can I even call her friend? She is so much more.







Even distant family.

All that and more and I miss her so, so, so very much.

I often can’t even think of her anymore, I have to push it all away, or I cry. And when I cry, I will get a bad headache anywhere from immediately to 12 hours later. So when it starts back up, I have to take hold of my brain, my heart, and just shut it all down.  I know it’s not good to bottle it all up but I can hardly just continue to lose it when my little daughter asks me where she is or asks if we are still looking for her.

Even my image here is very emotional.  I took it as a screenshot during a video.  For several minutes in this video, we are goofing off and she is laughing nearly the whole time.  Sometimes I play it just so I can hear her again.  This video is precious to me more than most others.  It’s something only very few people have seen, I am selfish in a way, I want to keep it all to myself.

Just over a year ago on July 4th was the last time I count as when I saw her. I did see her briefly on the 6th and for a second, from a distance, on the 7th. My heart aches with the knowledge I have now, that I obtained about 11 am on the 8th. If only I had known 12 hours earlier, I would have dropped everything to go and stop this from happening.

I won’t ever forget that day.  I was at my laptop when I got the text from my husband that simply said “_____ is missing.”  My first thought was that she was probably off on some adventure that she is known for.  She can’t be gone.  But she is.  It sank in after that and I wanted to just crawl into a hole and pull it in after me.  Such a helpless feeling, knowing there’s something seriously wrong and you can’t do anything about it.  Or talk to anyone about it, either.  Because of my husband’s job, I sometimes find out things I can’t talk about.   (more…)

English as a second language

No, this isn’t on immigrants or tourists or anything like that. I’m talking about my own daughter, born in the good ole US of A and always exposed to English. However, it’s as if she has to be taught to speak it rather than her native tongue.

You see, her native language was made up of pretty much only the sounds “huh,” and “uh” at various inflection.

When she was 2, she was diagnosed with apraxia of speech which is defined as “Apraxia of speech (AOS) is an acquired oral motor speech disorder affecting an individual’s ability to translate conscious speech plans into motor plans, which results in limited and difficult speech ability. By the definition of apraxia, AOS affects volitional (willful or purposeful) movement patterns, however AOS usually also affects automatic speech.”

This is our journey through apraxia of speech thus far…

Our journey started before she was born, but I won’t go too far into that this time around. In short, she’s my little miracle in the first place, my “water” broke the day before 21 weeks but by the grace of God, she managed to stay “in there” until the day she was 29 weeks.  She spent just over 3 months in the NICU.  It was hard to watch other babies come and go while she stayed, even some that had been born younger than she had got to go home before she did.  This was because she was further behind than “normal” 29 weekers, due to next to no fluid to circulate through her lungs during those 8 weeks.

She had been born with a grade 1 brain hemorrhage and while at a year old when she had an MRI to check up on it and the doctor said he could not even tell that it had been there, we have no idea if this or something else is what caused her apraxia.  Either way, at the time other kids were forming sounds that would soon turn into words, my girl was telling whole stories with only the “huh” sound.  We even began to recognize certain words, like “butterfly,” based on how her inflection was, “huhh huuuh.”  She would come up to me, we’re talking 2 years of age, and wave her arms around pointing at things and “huh-ing”, just telling me a story.

We had an evaluation at a children’s hospital for both speech and occupational therapy and were sent with “we don’t know” to another hospital.  At this time, I was concerned that we were possibly looking at autism (there were other things that made me think this at the time) but 5 seconds into meeting her at the second hospital, the woman doing the evaluation said no, not autism.  At the end of the meeting we had our diagnosis.  From there, we were able to get some speech therapy at home through Missouri First Steps.  She was even able to have the same therapist that she would later get in the ECE program at the local school, starting when she turned 3.

Around age 4 I realized she wasn’t really progressing that much.  It kind of actually gave me a freak-out day.  That moment when you realize your child may never have her own words, may never speak without difficulty.  There were times her teachers would report that she had said huge words like “hamburger” and “pineapple.”  I was so surprised, she never pulled off anything even close at home.  We finally came to the conclusion that sometimes it was spontaneous, like if she wasn’t thinking about it, because she was never able to repeat it.  So we did two things to help her further along.

The first was to get her an iPad.  Sounds crazy but there is a great program out there called Proloquo2Go.  It was first suggested to us by her school therapist that she start doing something called the Picture Exchange Communication System, or PECS for short.  Simply, the non-verbal person uses pictures, usually labeled with the words, to form a sentence on the sentence strip to communicate what they need to say.  Very easy but I was worried that we would need this more long term and I thought it would be too difficult to keep it updated for her so I started looking for a digital version.  Proloquo2Go was the answer.  Of course, this was an expensive system to get started with, but it was fully worth it.  She picked it up quickly and soon was able to say things like “I want chicken nuggets” instead of just “huh-ing” or screaming at me.  The frustration level in our household due to non-communication went down about 50% at that time.  We even got some laughs from it – there was one time we were about to go into a store and I asked her if she was going to be good in there, it was just pure chance but immediately she hit a button that said aloud to me, “no dice.”  I about died, it was hilarious.

Secondly we started looking into private speech therapy and found a place that she would attend for approximately another year before we ended up switching to PS Kids in St. Louis due to crazy changes the first place made such as changing all therapies to a half hour max.  That really didn’t work for us, I was already driving her nearly an hour there then they’d take 5-10 minutes before and after talking to the parents which left 10-20 minutes of therapy during which there was “settling in” time!  Not just this, but they were having a crazy amount of turn-over with therapists.  I know it sounds like we’ve been to a lot, and we have, but this was excessive.  There was one week we were told “here is your new therapist” only to have a different one the following week, and that woman only lasted 2 weeks!  That was just too much.  We were able to attend the first place out of our own pockets at first but it was really expensive – our insurance has one of the higher co-pays, I’m told, for speech and occupational therapy – so it became impossible for us to afford it, we were hitting bottom in our checking account every week.  We took a little time off as school ended that year while I looked for a grant we could apply for.  I waded through a lot of stuff – I had a list of websites 5 pages long I’d picked up there but through the whole thing, I only found 2 that looked like we could qualify for.  Most grants wanted kids who were of “greater need” or had more extensive disabilities, some weren’t even about speech at all.  I finally found two and while we were rejected by the first, we were awarded a grant by Small Steps in Speech.  We were able to use this grant to pay our insurance co-pays the remaining time here.  I keep meaning to write a testimonial for SSIS, maybe this post will help get me moving along.

I had tried to apply for only one grant at a time, I really did not want to happen to get accepted by more than we could or should use, but due to some confusion with our address, I didn’t hear back from SSIS at first and applied with the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation and we were awarded a grant that we used at PS Kids, who I cannot speak highly enough of.  During this time, we had also gotten on the waiting list for the Walker Scottish Rite Clinic.  It’s really been amazing how this has worked out.  She was able to take a little time off then start at WSRC but when they lost their speech therapist at our location earlier this year, we went back to PS Kids on our second (and final) grant from the UHCCF.  We were already back there on this grant with occupational therapy but this time I had seen the foresight to apply to include both therapies in the grant (her first one was only for speech).  So it was back to PS Kids for speech as well and it’s only been recently that we have stopped going there.  I kid you not, this worked out perfectly: our last day at PS Kids, when the grant and our insurance limit ran out, was her first day back at WSRC with the new speech therapist.  I could not have asked for better timing! She will be in this program until she turns 7 years old, then she will have graduated out.  WSRC is not only half the distance to us but is run by donations.  It’s a bit of a change from PS Kids as it’s very one-on-one and a lot quieter as there are no other children there at the same time.  Not that it’s bad at PS Kids, it’s just different.  Both ways have ups and downs and I think that as we go into school starting this fall, the lower amount of stimuli at speech will help her not be so overwhelmed.

We are so proud of her progress, it has been really amazing to watch.  I think part of the reason she’s really started to make more progress since we started with private therapy was not just additional therapies but as she gets older, she has started to develop a real want to work on it herself.  She was just so little before.  Then one day, I tried to hand her the iPad and she said, “No, Mama, I talk.”  Of course, she still claims the silly thing, but now she only watches videos and plays games on it, we don’t even have the app on there anymore (not enough room for all her photos then, you see).

Our lives are not fully without frustration in communication yet, there’s at least once a day when I still have a hard time understanding her, but it’s a million times better than it was.  Though we are still working on some of the behavioral issues that have come up because of this (you know, the whole, “I can’t ask for it so I’m just going to run off and do it myself” thing), it’s so much better.  She can now really tell me stories.  She can tell me if something scares her or what she has dreamed about last night.  Now, in the mornings I hear “good morning, Mama” and at night, “good night, Mama.”  About 400 times a day – no joke – she says, “I love you, Mama.”

And besides all that, she can now talk to her friends and playmates.  She does tend to get along better with kids a bit younger than she is but there is one little boy at church who melts my heart – he tells his mom he takes real good care of her and he does.  Sometimes kids her age have looked at her when she speaks, or in response to some of the ways she acts, like she has three heads.  I know some of them don’t “get” her, but that little boy does, it’s so very sweet.  And now, she’s able to tell me that he’s her best friend.  <3