Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A letter to my 16 year old self

There is a Brad Paisley song "Letter To Me" that I have heard countless times.  But I heard it again on the radio today, and it got me thinking about what I, as an adult, would say to my young self if given the chance.  So, here it is:

Dear Cora,

Chase your dreams.  Don't hesitate.  Don't waste time on other fruitless ventures.  You know, deep down, where your heart is.  You will have a lot of people tell you that you will fail.  That you won't be able to pay your bills, or support your family, and the career won't last.  Don't listen to them.  They're wrong.  You're going to be great at it.  And you're going to love it, and you're going to be really good at it!  On top of it, you're going to meet some of the most amazing people because of it.

Don't chase him.  He doesn't define you.  And don't spend so much time sitting at home waiting for him to call, or come by.  Go out with your friends, go to parties.  Enjoy your high school life while you can!  You are going to get your heart broken, over and over again.  You can't make him love you.  He will give you one of the greatest blessings of your life, but after that, let him go.  You are only making yourself look like a crazed psycho! You are better than that!  He's not a bad person, he's just not good for you.  Some day, your Prince Charming will come along, just be patient.  He's worth it! (And your future husband is 5 years younger than you, so you have to wait until he's old enough to date anyways!) Anddont get behind the wheel of his little black truck on March 21, 1999.  It doesn't end well.

Don't buy that purple Cavalier.  I know you want it.  I know you can afford it, but just listen to your dad.  He will still be mad about you buying that car years later!  It will save you a bigger headache in the long run.  Just bite the bullet and drive the red truck for a while, it won't kill you.  And it will make your dad happier.

You can't save everyone.  Stop trying to.  You are going to get hurt, and trampled on because of your savior complex.  Not everyone wants to be helped. So just stop!  Not everyone has good intentions, and you are sometimes blind to that.  You are only leaving yourself open to getting taken advantage of, and it's going to happen a lot.

Put your cell phone down.  You don't have unlimited minutes yet (you will some day).  And you're going to have a couple of bills that are going to make your mom very mad!

Go see your Granny more.  Some day, all too soon, she will be gone.  The void that will leave in your heart is bigger than you could ever imagine.  You will miss her like crazy, so enjoy her hugs while you can.  Pick her brain about parenting.  Collectively, she has more parenting experience than anyone you will ever know.

From left, Kacey, me, Krista, Lex, and Melinda
at our Senior Prom.  All of these girls are still a
part of my life.  I am blessed.
Don't take your friends for granted.  Some of them will still be a huge part of your life into adulthood.  They will carry you through some of the darkest times of your life.  You don't know how lucky you are to have them.  Friends are the family you chose.  And no one knows you like those friends who lived your memories with you.

Appreciate your mom.  She is your biggest advocate.  She's not stupid.  In fact, she's pretty smart, and has a lot of very good advice.  Some day, you are going to look back and shake your head at the fact that you just didn't listen to her.  And stop treating her like crap.  She doesn't deserve it.

Don't waste time being angry, and holding grudges.  You can hold a grudge like its no one's business. You come by it honestly.  But it only makes your heart hard.  And that will eat you up.  People make mistakes.  Accept it, and move on.  You don't have to keep those people in your life, but hate and anger is like a cancer, and is so toxic.  It's ok to be sad about things that have hurt you, but don't lash out.  It solves nothing.

You're going to be ok.  You're going to be better than ok.  You are stronger than you think.  You are going to go through things that you think are going to break you, but they don't.  They will make you a better, more compassionate person.  Someday, you will have a family, and kids, a career, that you are so proud of!  Life will be great, and all of those hard times will be worth it.  When things seem like the end of the world, just remember, they're not.  You will get through it, and there will be a tomorrow, that is a new chance to start over.  Every day that God blesses you with is a new chance! Embrace it, and live your life to the fullest.

But most of all, find a way to love yourself.  You're worth loving.  And some day, you are going to have two ottos girls of your own that are going to need to see a strong, confident woman in their mommy.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 recap

The Cossel family, Christmas Eve 2014
(We got this picture in 2 tries!!)
This has been a very busy 2014 in the Cossel house! I've never been good at getting an annual letter out with our Christmas cards, actually, I never even make it as far as getting the cards out! Maybe next year.

It was a year full of welcoming new lives into the world, as 3 of my very good friends had babies this year, saying goodbye to others, laughter, and love.  Josie, Sadie, and Sydney all came into this world healthy and happy.  Two of these babies I still have not gotten my hands on, and I am so excited to do so! Thank heaven for Facebook so I can watch them grow and feel like I get to see them regularly.

In February, Russ and I got to take a trip to Las Vegas with my Aunt Carol.  We went to Cirque De Soleil "Ka", gambled, ate at an amazing restaurant called The Strip House, shopped, and did a ton of walking.  Russ and my Aunt Carol's "nephew", Billy hit it right off, became fast friends, and stayed out all night and part way into the next day exploring the strip.  I don't have that kind of energy, so I'm glad they had each other!  I adored Billy too, as he is pretty much the male version of me, what's not to love?!

May brought on Ichthyosis Awareness month, where we hosted another Ichthyosis Day at the K, raising money for FIRST with the help of some of the most amazing friends and family.  Then in June, we set out to Indianapolis for the bi-annual FIRST National Family Conference.  It is always so good to reconnect with our Ichthyosis family, and see the doctors we have worked with.  This year I made new friends, got to put faces with names that I have chatted with online, and of course, got to spend almost a whole week with Jordan, my "sister", who is absolutely one of my favorite people in the whole wide world (and the mommy of Sadie, born this fall).  My parents got to join us this year, and I was so glad they got to experience what we have at the past conference we attended, as they are a huge part of my support system.  I also got to spend an afternoon with one of my oldest, best friends, Krista, who moved to Indiana this year.  She came up and went to an indoor trampoline park with us, where she and I got into a pretty intense game of dodgeball with some preteen boys, and we were quickly reminded of our age and our lack of nimbleness!

The summer was the first that we got to have Logan all summer.  For the first time he got to play t-ball, which maybe I'm a little partial, but I see an all star in the making!  Gavin was in coach pitch as well, his last year, and next year will move on to full blown baseball.  Those ball diamonds are my happy place.  I have some of the best memories from my childhood on those very same ball diamonds.

In the fall, Ashlynne started middle school, Gavin 3rd grade, and Logan kindergarten.  Breckyn, being only 3, is still just attending daycare, but to feel as if she is a part of it all, tells us that she goes to "pretty school".  She is thriving, and is a full fledged "threenager".  She challenges her older sis and brothers, and her parents regularly, but we all take it in stride.  Ashlynne has started playing trumpet this year, and Gavin and Logan are both getting AMAZING grades and are making us so proud.

We welcomed a new family member into our home in the beginning of December, another puggle, named Zailey.  She is 18 months old, and the size we thought Hurley was going to be! Breckyn had taken to calling them "Big Hurley" and "Little Hurley".  Bill, the min pin, and Buddy Nixon, the cat, are not amused by this new addition, but Hurley is loving having a new play mate.  We took Buddy Nixon in to get her declawed and spayed in the spring, at which time we were informed that "she" is actually a "he" and they couldn't  spay Buddy, but they would be glad to neuter him for us.  This is the 2nd time this has happened to us.  We were told by the breeder that Hurley was a male and didn't double check that.  We don't have the best of luck in this department!

Work is staying busy for both Russ and I, which we are thankful for.  We continue to be very blessed professionally.  When I get tired, and wish things would slow down, I am quick to remind myself of the people I know who are without work, and that puts me in check rather quickly.

I have been blessed with another year with my grandma.  As her health has been very shaky for many years, this was a huge blessing.  We have tried to go up on as many Mondays as possible for short visits.  I think it's good for all of our hearts to get as many hugs in with her as possible.

We hope you have had a year as blessed as ours, and look forward to a fun, eventful 2015.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Welcome to Holland- a must read for EVERY parent

This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting another mom with a special needs child.  Her child doesn't have ichthyosis, but his is more a cognitive, emotional, and mental disorder.  I found myself amazed at the strength of this woman, listening to her story.  I was sitting there asking myself the question that I have had many people ask me, "How does she find the strength to do it all".  Then I remembered a short essay that one of Ashlynne's physical therapists gave me when she was just a baby called "Welcome to Holland" by Emily Perl Kingsley, and it reminded me of how we, moms of special needs children, do it.

I mentioned to her this essay, and she said she carries it with her every day, and told me that there is now a 2nd part that someone has added to it.  So, of course, I googled it.  I felt as if someone had reached inside of my head and plucked the thoughts right out of it to write this.  It was amazing to me how much someone who had never even met me could sum up my feelings, my life, in such a few, short paragraphs.

To sum it up, it parallels parenting of a special needs child with a planned dream vacation.  Your whole life (your pregnancy) you have planned this dream trip to Italy (said trip being raising your child).  Then, when your plane lands, and you think you're in Italy, all of a sudden they announce you have landed in Holland (Holland representing the parenting journey of a child with special needs), where you will stay.  And it is not at all what you planned.  But when you stop and look around, you realize the beauty there.
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place."

The 2nd part discusses, as time passes, how the author has come to accept Holland as home.  I would never change my home in Holland for anything in the world.  I have met some of the most amazing people in my life because of this journey.  Relationships that I could never replace.  Relationships that I hope are as beneficial to the others as they are to me.  I never envisioned my days to be full of Aquaphor, and hours of bathing and lotioning, and multiple doctors appointments, and physical therapy sessions.  But I also, never could have envisioned, how much I would love this little person that depends on me.

2 of my travel guides through my own, personal, Holland
"I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesn't matter where you land. What's more important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoy the very special, the very lovely, things that Holland, or any land, has to offer.
Yes, over a decade ago I landed in a place I hadn't planned. Yet I am thankful, for this destination has been richer than I could have imagined!"

To any of my friends that are struggling with raising kids, I want to say this:  I have 3 other children, and while rewarding as well, I can't say that I landed in Italy with any of them.  Parenting is hard,  Very hard.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  It is full of poopy diapers, vomit, sleepless nights, meltdowns, and fights.  However, it isn't without great joy.  I think at any given time, any parent may feel like they've landed themselves right, smack dab, in the middle of Holland.  So I recommend these essays to any parent.  And just remember, you're never alone in this journey.  Whether it's a child with physical disabilities, emotional/mental disabilities, or a typical kid, you're going to struggle.  But stop and embrace your own personal Holland.  God gave it to you for a reason.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why I won't turn off the Christmas Carols

I got an email from my corporate office this week stating that company wide, we don't have a policy on how to greet people for the holidays.  They don't specifically endorse "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays", but encouraged us to be cheerful and greet our guests with a smile.  How sad that they have to remind us to smile.  It's easy to get in holiday burn out mode working in the retail/service industry this time of year.  I have listened to so many people talk about Christmas and Thanksgiving when they are sitting in my stylist chair.  And what saddens me is probably 90% of the time, the only thing they are talking about is their Christmas list, or what they have or have yet to buy.  It's very easy to get caught up in all of that, I find myself doing it as well. That, I think, is why so many of us are "ready for the holidays to be over" or get so stressed out and burned out.  So when I get home, I crank my Pandora. (Pentatonix holiday station is the best!!) I know that Christmas music is another thing for people to get burned out on, but I'm not talking about cheesy Frosty the Snowman-ish music.

When you listen to most traditional Christmas music, rarely is it talking about the gifts, or the hustle and bustle of this time of year.  But it is talking about the cheer, the warm feelings, and more importantly, in line with the beliefs of our family, CHRIST.  They talk about the birth of Christ, and the religious aspect, and the family togetherness, which is what it is really all about. But being a Christian, I would never be offended if someone wished me a happy Hanukkah, or any other religious greeting.  In fact, I get more annoyed with the whole "seasons greetings".  We have created a society of a bunch of wimps who get their feelings hurt too easily.  When I wish someone a merry Christmas, it is not me forcing my beliefs on them, it is me trying to brighten their day.

So, whether it's Christmas, Hanukkah, or anything else that you might celebrate this time of year, shout it from the rooftops.  Say "Merry Christmas", or "Happy Hanukkah".  Because it shows you have cheer in your heart, and that's something this world needs a little more of.  And from the bottom of my heart....