Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fidelity



STM and I celebrate 20 years of wedded bliss today. Twenty. Years. That's a lot, don't you think? Feels like it to us, too. And that's why we went to Hawaii, because it is a lot. We're proud of ourselves, and without over-sharing, I'll just say, we should be.

Without a doubt, one of the best moves we ever made, was going through RCIA together, with Kathleen and her husband Jerry as our sponsors, and then joining the Church. It's not because it's Catholic. It's not because it's Christian. It's because it's an active, vital, loving, supportive community, right in our own backyard. It's our Cheers - a place where everyone knows our name, knows our story, loves and accepts us and supports us on our journey.

Say what you want about the Catholics (and I've said it all, and some of it I continue to say, so go ahead), but they revere marriage, and I think that's a good thing. There is much to support the institution inherent in the Church - again, a good thing. STM and I decided to milk some of that goodness yesterday, when we received a blessing from our priest, following the daily morning Mass. We had wanted to mark our 20th in some spiritual way, and asked the priest if he'd perform a blessing. We found a day that worked for everyone, and STM and I went to 8:00 AM Mass yesterday, surrounded by the holy elders, and basked in their goodness and wisdom. After they all cleared out, three of our favorite humans, all of whom happen to work at the Parish Center, stayed behind. Because they know of my love for Mary, we moved over to a beautiful statue of her, prayer candles aflame below her feet, and the priest performed a beautiful blessing, complete with a "You may kiss the bride," at the end.

The blessing came straight from the Book of Blessings, and it used the word "fidelity" several times. Both STM and I noticed, and talked about it later. Kathleen and I even dissected the word on our walk later that day. "Of course we have fidelity," I said, "we certainly don't have infidelity!" But I realized even as I was boasting, that just because we don't have that kind of infidelity, doesn't mean we both can't clean up our acts. Merriam-Webster defines fidelity as the quality or state of being faithful. Faithful - full of faith.

Isn't that, indeed, what a marriage needs to survive? Doesn't it need to be full of faith? Faith in each other? Faith in ourselves? And faith in something greater than ourselves?




* Photo from www.stmatthewcath.org

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Idea of a Good Time

Lately, after I get Rojo to bed, I either make myself a hot cup of this:
Or a big, round glass of this:



Light a whole bunch of these:



Throw something called an achy bakey in the microwave for three minutes, take out the fabric bag holding lavender scented seeds and place it on my leg that gives me fits, then watch a couple three of these:


I had always seen commercials for "Brothers and Sisters" but never watched it. Now I'm catching up, one delicious episode after another after another after another. At this rate I'll be through Season One by New Years!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Joy Boy



We have nicknamed Rojo Joy Boy. The boy just exudes (loudly) joy, pretty much 24/7. At times when I'm ready to strangle him due to the excessive (loud) joy, I remember that many a mom would give her right arm to have a child that is not only happy, but as I say, joyful (and loud). Moms that have never heard their children speak, never heard them laugh, sing, give glory to God in the highest while YouTubing church songs. None of that.

This is Joy Boy's favorite song in the whole entire world. Know any other fifteen year old boys that go around with their hands in the air and a smile a mile long, singing alleluia?

Me, neither.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Am in Here


I am on a reading frenzy, frenzy, I tell you. I can (and do) go months without finishing a single book, then every now and then I just can't stop. I have a stack of books as long as my arm of unread books by my bed, and am determined to get through the stack before I allow myself to even consider buying a new book.

I sat down with I Am in Here a couple days before Christmas, and despite the fact it was a couple days before CHRISTMAS, still managed to read the whole thing in less than 24 hours. I Am in Here is not just another autism book. I've had it up to here with your standard mom-of-a-kid-with-autism book. I've lived it, I don't need to live it all again in my free time.

Virginia Breen is the author, her daughter, Elizabeth co-authors the book. Elizabeth is unable to speak, but writes beautiful poetry that allows everyone reading the book to see into her mind, and by extension, have greater understanding of perhaps others that cannot speak. The book has a very Helen Keller feel to it, complete with Elizabeth's own Anne Sullivan.

What I liked best about the book was the spiritual component, it delivered it perfectly, without hitting you over the head with it. Virginia, like me, believes these kids are here to teach, they are deeply spiritual, wise, and enlightened beings here to help evolve us all to a higher place. I felt this book conveyed that with just the right touch.

To order your copy, or ready more about Virginia and her daughter Elizabeth, go here.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Giving



Rojo is super excited for Santa to come Saturday night, we've been counting down since the minute we put away the Halloween decorations. For the last few rounds of birthdays Rojo has been grabbing one of his beloved "friends" from the top bunk, shoving it into a gift bag, letting the recipient open it, "have" it for some specified amount of time (usually a couple of hours), then asking that they return it.

This year he's decided to take the giving idea and apply it to Christmas, too. He dragged me to Bi-Mart in late November to buy a gift for Elmo. "Elmo wants gummy bears for Christmas." We headed to the Christmas candy aisle and he decided to do all his shopping in that very spot. Within five minutes we'd covered his aunt, Papa, Grandma, Grammy, Woohoo, and STM. He nagged and nagged until I wrapped them, and they were amongst the first packages under our tree.

Yesterday STM called Rojo and asked, "Do you have a present for Mom, or do you need me to take you shopping?"

"No, I've got it, STM, I have Care's present all ready."

Hung up the phone and turned to me, "Care, will you help me wrap your present? But you can't look. You need to be surprised."

I found a big box, he ran upstairs and grabbed the three friends while I held the box open, eyes closed, then he put the lid back on. We went down to the ping pong table in the basement and wrapped it together.

To: Care
From: Rojo

We tied a green ribbon around the red and white polka dot paper, and put it under the tree.

Then the relentless quest to pin down the exact moment I would open it, began, with a fervor. With some amount of doing I managed to put him off for almost 24-hours, agreeing to open it today when Kathleen came by for our annual three-way gift exchange.

Minute that poor woman sat down (before she even got to taste the coffee or eggnog he insisted we have ready for her), he had me opening the gift.

"Never trust the box," he said as I peeled back the paper to reveal a box that said gala apples. When I pulled out friends 1, 2 and 3 nobody was more tickled than he. I think he thought I was genuinely surprised. I think he thought he'd really pulled a major gift-giving coup. I think he thought right.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice



In the beginning was the Tao.
All things issue from it;
all things return to it.

To find the origin,
trace back the manifestations.
When you recognize the children
and find the mother, 
you will be free of sorrow.

If you close your mind in judgments
and traffic with desires,
your heart will be troubled.
If you keep your mind from judging
and aren't led by the senses,
your heart will find peace.

Seeing into darkness is clarity.
Knowing how to yield is strength.
Use your own light
and return to the source of light.
This is called practicing eternity.

- Lao-Tzu
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

* Photo from http://www.earthrites.org

Friday, December 16, 2011

How to Start Your Own Support Group




Bear in mind I have "started" (been in on the ground level, really, didn't technically start), exactly one. This is not a manual, but a what-worked-for-us list.

If you are the parent of a special needs child, you need support. Period. You also need resources and a good group will do both - offer resources and support!

 1. Find 2-3 other people that also have a kid with special needs, even if they aren't the same as your kid's. You know 2-3 more. You just do. If not, ask your doctor, therapist, kid's teacher/principal/counselor, you-name-it.

 2. Meet. Could be a coffee shop (don't recommend that - the walls have ears). Could be one person's house every time (I actually DO recommend this, and I'll tell you why in a minute). Could trade off houses. Pick a time that works for the initial group of people, and stick to that. Others will join the group and suggest times that would better work for them. This is a no-win. You will forever be rearranging your meetings, frustrating everyone, losing consistency, and never finding a perfect time. Don't apologize. "We meet ________ from ________ to ___________." I do tell people that it's fine (and common) that people come late and/or leave early, whatever they need to do.

 3. Key is to meet when the kids aren't around. We meed the 2nd Friday of every month, 9-12 AM. Many of the moms do work. They arrange their schedules around this. I recognize this is not always possible, but you would be impressed with the lengths some of the women in our group go to. We (I) put out the schedule for the whole school year by September 1st, they block that time out and show up.

 4. Establish a strict what-is-said-in-the-room-stays-in-the-room, policy. This is key. If people feel like they can't be free to share, there is no point in having a group. I always e-mail a summary of our meetings and distribute it to the whole group, but never put on there anything personal or specific, just Websites, resources, etc. that were shared at the meeting, maybe even a question that someone in the group that wasn't there, could still answer.

 5. You kind of need one person to take charge, have all the information filter through, and keep everyone on track. A leader will rise. It may or may not be the person that gets the group going.

 6. Take an All Are Welcome approach. If someone comes to the group and wants to bring a friend/neighbor/relative/whatever the next time, always say yes. You can't control the size or formation of the group - this is organic and will take care of itself.

 7. Some people will come once, dump all their problems on you, and never return. This is not unusual. Likewise, some people will come many times before opening their mouths to speak. This is also not un usual, and is to be encouraged. They are feeling out the group, establishing trust and are sure to be invaluable "members" of the group.

 8. Sometimes have a topic and/or guest speaker, sometimes do not. I have found if we are too loosey goosey, or too all-business, it doesn't work.

 9. Each time a new person joins, do NOT go around the room and have everyone tell their whole story again. This will chew up ALL your time and the ones that are faithful and loyal and never miss, have to hear it over and over again. People will catch on. It doesn't matter anyway. You don't need the full story to be a strong support.

10. We have considered, and even tried to start, sub-groups. ADD/ADHD, ASD, Down Syndrome, whatever you may have a lot of people coming for support for. We've never been able to get this off the ground for whatever reason. There is something nice about the group that is "misc." Many of the people in our group ALSO attend specific group meetings, but they always like our group better. It can be pretty depressing when the whole meeting is about the same "different ability" - you hear the extremes and that can overwhelm and freak some people out.

11. Keep the e-mail list blind copied. I JUST started doing this and wish I'd done it years ago. Not everyone needs to see a new name on the list and start to speculate what all is going on in THAT family! If they want to know who else is in the group, they are welcome to come to the meetings.

12. I have found that it is more successful to just have all the meetings at my house every month. I make coffee and move the furniture around, someone almost always offers to bring treats, and if they don't, I open a bag of whatever is in the pantry and call it good. Some people that need the group most, are barely holding it together. If they think that eventually the group will need to meet at THEIR house, they may not even bother joining the group. Just like a natural leader will emerge, so, too, will someone that likes to host things at their house. Trust that this is true. Again, you could always meet somewhere where nobody is the host, but I think it's hard to talk about such personal issues, in a public place.

13. We have twice as many names on the email list, as typically come to a meeting. That does not mean they aren't valuable and contributing. People have posed all kinds of questions to the group, all the way from, "Do you know of a good math tutor?" to "What experiences have you had with Risperdal?" The e-mail responses are helpful and varied.

14. Have someone in the group be the recorder at the meetings (again, this could all be the same person that hosts and organizes, and communicates, but doesn't necessarily need to be). Keep track of all the great resources shared, and create a directory. It took me 7 years to figure that one out. Each time someone needed a good something-or-other, I was forever going back to the group to ask, AGAIN. We now have a many page document with names of acupuncturists, doctors, therapists, books, speech paths, Websites, etc.

15. Try to keep the support on special needs. Invariably "life" will hit people in the group - death, divorce, foreclosure, health issues, all of that. While it's inevitable some of the discussions will also include all that's going on in a family, the group is really gathered for one very specific reason, and needs to stay focused on that.

16. Don't meet in July or August because A) Your kids are home, B) Everyone's schedule is different, and C) It's good to have a break.


* Photo from http://cureanxiety.com

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

FroYo



Sorry for the lack of posting, just a little thing like CHRISTMAS keeping me from the computer these days. Shop, shop, shop, wrap, wrap, wrap! Was lucky enough to be given a pass to the Nike Employee Store (thanks, Janell!) and went there today to get the last few things I needed. For. Myself. Yes, I am fully shopping for myself this year, too. Really excited about the Mary necklace I bought myself from my friend Candace - the incredible artist/jeweler/Mary lover that she is. Really excited about the cute rain jacket I got at Nike today (not that anyone in Portland, Oregon needs a rain jacket or anything). Really excited about the new dish towels I got. TWO packs. Yep. Come Christmas day at least six of the nasty old ones in the drawer are getting shit canned. I have stacked all my gifts on the ping pong table in the basement with just a little Post-it that says, "To: Mom, From: ?" I'm going to get Woohoo to wrap them all up - no gift bags, either, I want boxes, ribbon and BOWS!

On another note, I think I've failed to tell you all about Rojo's full on addiction to frozen yogurt! You can blame Nancy. She could hardly stand his 3-a-day snow cone habit this summer, full of nothing but sugar and empty calories. She persuaded him to try frozen yogurt, and now, many $$ a week later, I'd say she was successful! Nancy is Rojo's favorite guest to invite to join us, and because she's a trooper, goes at least a couple times a week with us.

Rojo goes through the self-serve section in record breaking time, making a "graveyard" of sorts, with at least a smidge of every flavor offered. Then I sprinkle graham cracker crumbles, Oreo crumbles and 2 gummy worms on top (per his request). Times two. he eats both giant bowls before I finish my modest-sized bowl. It doesn't matter if the temperature outside is 34 degrees. It doesn't matter if we're the only ones in the place, it doesn't matter if dinner is right around the corner, if Rojo had his way, he'd go to the frozen yogurt place every single day and twice on Sundays.

I know Rojo's diet is terrible. Believe me, I know. But every year we inch it towards something "better." I don't have any aspiration of it being "healthy," just "less toxic" would be nice. At least the yogurt has some health benefits which I'm hanging my hat on. It's all relative.


Good for your bones:
  • An excellent source of calcium: (Based on 2 servings -8 fl oz) Adequate calcium as part of a healthful diet may reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Good for your tummy:
  • Helps maintain a healthy digestive tract
  • Increased digestibility for individuals with lactose intolerance
Supports wellness:
  • Helps maintain general digestive health and body immunity
  • Low Sodium: Diets low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a disease associated with many factors
Promotes a healthy lifestyle:
  • Packed probiotics to promote a healthy immune and digestive system
  • Low Cholesterol
  • Low Sodium
Other great things about YoCream Frozen yogurts:
  • All YoCream frozen yogurts are certified by the National Yogurt Association and proudly display the Live & Active Cultures Seal
  • All YoCream products are Kosher Certified
  • YoCream products are Gluten Free*
  • No high fructose corn syrup**





Saturday, December 10, 2011

Amazing Grace



I "run" a support group called the Amazing Graces. I didn't name us, the founder of the group did. She felt that it took a certain level of grace to mother these kids, and that the kids themselves were amazing. She had a need for support as she was raising a child with medical issues, and didn't feel that her friends with typicals could really understand or hold all that that entailed, so she went in search of those that did. Enter me. Sometimes it's great having a child that obviously is atypical, it makes me approachable to others feeling like they're the only one.

Our group started with four people: the founder with a child with medical needs, two moms with kids that had mental health-related issues, and me. Eventually the founder moved out of the state and I took the reins. We now have an e-mail distribution list of almost 50, and generally have 12-15 people at our monthly meetings. Of those 12-15 we have our 10 or so "core members," ones that come month after month after month, a few that come now and then, and almost always, someone new. We are all word of mouth and we now cover a wide range of different abilities, ASD, ADHD, mental illnesses, seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, you name it. I've lost track, but I think this is about our 7th or 8th year of being together.

One thing that has been coming up lately is the need for more support for the dads. We thought having a Christmas party might be a good ice breaker, get a bunch of the dads all in the same room, and just see if a men's group could evolve from that. By men's group I mean, going out for a few beers at the pub up the street. So, last night we had our party. It was awesome. We had people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. We had those born and raised in this very neighborhood and those born in foreign lands. We had nurses, doctors and attorneys, flight attendants, teachers, receptionists and self-employed entrepreneurs. We had plenty of those that once worked outside the home until the day our child's needs became so great, that was no longer an option. We had those with one child and those with four. The one thing we all had in common, was at least one child with special needs (many have more than one).

STM said it was the best party he's ever been too - couldn't stop talking about what a great group of people. Many of the conversations did revolve around our children, but many did not. There were a lot of laughs and a couple teary eyes. There were exchanges of information, words of encouragement, and much, much grace.

It was amazing.


* photo from http://www.chinese-symbols.com

Friday, December 9, 2011

God is Love

My cousin Julie sent this to me, thought I'd like it. I do. Think you might, too...


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Big Mary Day



Today, December 8th, is the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, that is to say, Mary, at the moment of her conception, was and remained so, free of original sin. Whether or not you believe that to be true, I think we can all believe that Mary was one special mom. Even if you don't believe her son was the savior, he was, nonetheless, remarkable. I think we can also all agree that what this world needs most, is the presence and healing of a mother's love.

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of they womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of our death.

Amen.






* Photo from www.saintwilliam.net

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Born For It



First of all, I feel it's important to mention that I'm actually living my ideal life. All I ever dreamed of doing was being a wife and a mother, and being able to stay home and take care of the needs of my family. I used to think I'd get a job being a hotel maid, because there are few things in life that bring me more pleasure, than making a mess tidy. So, for me, an unexciting day of taking care of house and home, suits me just right. In fact, I was born for it. Which brings me to my next stream-of-consciousness (no time for well-crafted posts).

Yesterday was our annual visit to Santa. Rojo wouldn't dream of not visiting Santa, telling him what he wants (a bear like Max but with a proper nose, remember?), taking a name off the giving tree, finding a gift for that person, having a snack in the food court, then looking at Christmas lights on the way home. STM and Woohoo find it brutal. 99.99% of the population would find it brutal. It is, in fact, brutal. Standing in line with a bunch of babies, toddlers and some kids as old as six or seven, then us. Rojo is now 5'7 and fifteen.

Our plan is always to hit the mall early in the month, and early in the afternoon (right after school). We arrived at 3:00 yesterday, and there was a long line already formed. I took one look at the family and decided I was the only one capable of snaking around the line, and that the others must start in on the giving tree portion of the evening. We separated, I stood in line and Rojo texted me every two and a half minutes for an update. Finally, when we were about four kids from the front, he joined me, meeting my new friends, four-year-old Jaden and his dad.

The 45 minutes in line had given me ample time to get to know Jaden and learn his family's story. Jaden's dad had lost his job, home and family all within two weeks of each other, several months ago. He was now living with his grandparents and had taken the bus there with Jaden to see Santa. He didn't know they'd charge for pictures. He didn't know there would be a small train tantalizing Jaden, but costing $3.50/person for a 3-5 minute ride (racket!). He didn't know that after hearing that story I just had to reach in my wallet and cough up enough money for the two of them to ride the train. After all, Jaden was all excited to ask Santa for a choo-choo train for Christmas.

I didn't explain to Jaden's dad why a mother of a fifteen-year-old would be standing in line. When Rojo joined us I let Rojo speak for himself. "Do you want to see the list I am giving to Santa?" His earnest expression and obvious excitement (and belief) spoke for themselves.

"Sure," said the dad.

Rojo produced the list we'd made the day before and put in my purse so we'd be sure to have it for the big moment:

Teddy Bear
Slippers
Hat
Gloves
Mittens
Warm boots
Mint candies
Flavored shampoo

As the man handed the list back to Rojo and he moved up in line that much closer to the goal of seeing Santa, a realization fell upon me, "I was born for this." It really doesn't bother me a bit standing there, holding hands with someone taller than me now, talking about flavored shampoo and teddy bears, reindeer and Santa. I'll take it.

I would not make a good soccer mom. I am no good at cooking, entertaining, decorating, working outside the home, having a house full of kids here doing what a house full of kids do, basically all the things my friends are super good at.

No accidents.





Monday, December 5, 2011

Top 10 Exciting Things I'm Doing Today

10. Drove the kids to school in my pajamas and slippers when Woohoo's car wouldn't start

 9. Calling a repair person to come fix the oven that sparked and made a big popping sound when I tried to turn it on. Now it won't do anything at all despite several attempts to flip the circuit breaker, because that's all I could think to do, so continued doing that long after it clearly wasn't doing anything to fix the problem

 8. Taking Flicka into the vet to have her anal glands expressed

 7. Putting on rubber gloves and removing 100 layers of grease and grime from our oven fan, because when I was checking out possible causes of the spark and pop, I discovered it had been quite some time since I got in there and scrubbed

 6. Changing beds

 5. Vacuuming dog hair

 4. Looking for all the missing dishes in Woohoo's room - wish me luck

 3. Wrapping gifts, gifts and more gifts

 2. Turning everyone's clothes right side out before washing them - apparently this is really, really hard to do and I'm the only one in the family that has learned the secret

 1. May "save" cleaning the toilets so I have something to look forward to tomorrow

Friday, December 2, 2011

Moving On


Went into Rojo's room two nights ago and there on his mini-trampoline, lying face down, was a framed picture of him at age two. Actually it's one of those frames with places for three pictures, and it captures him in rapid succession being all two - darling. Not a lot to love about him at that age, but I have always loved those three shots, because they remind me that although my memory tells me he was nothing but a pain-in-the-ass, he did have his moments. Three of them are captured for all eternity.

When I asked Rojo why he took the frame off the wall, he just said, "I didn't want it up there anymore." I took it down to live in the basement with all the other things we have framed and don't want on the walls anymore.

Yesterday I walked into his room and all but two of the framed pictures of himself that have been on his dresser for years, were turned towards the wall. The two that remained facing forward, was a darling picture of his godparents, Tom and Nancy, and a Bible verse my mom gave him when he got baptized in April. The ones now facing the wall were all of him as a baby or toddler. I turned them around again, just to see what he'd do. Sure enough, went in his room this morning and those same ones were turned towards the wall again.

I asked him, "Why do you keep turning the pictures of you around?"

"I'm sick to death of them," he said.

In all these years he's never said boo about what he wants his room to look like, what he wants on the walls, what kind of comforter cover he wants, what color the walls should be, the arrangement of the furniture, nothing. It's as though he's now looking around his space with different eyes, teenage eyes, growing up eyes, moving on eyes. And with tears in mine, I took all the smaller pictures down to the basement, too, and closed that door.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Induced ADHD



I have four blog posts started, and none of them are going anywhere. Started telling you about the dream I had last night where someone was asking for specific books on my bookshelf, and I was handing them over, and had some vague connection/realization that I do that a lot - just hand over whatever anyone asks for. Didn't finish that one because I got distracted.

Started telling you about all the gifts I am going to give myself this year, both "actual" gifts (exciting things like new kitchen towels), and "true" gifts, like permission to half-ass the Christmas shopping/wrapping/etc. Didn't finish that one because I got distracted.

Started telling you about how Woohoo asked that for Christmas this year, I "do my magic" on her bedroom, purge, purge, purge, "Just make it go away!" Didn't finish that one because I got distracted.

Started telling you that I think we're going to break down and get Rojo an iPad for Christmas for many, many reasons, not the least of which is the fact he sends approximately 2,000,000 texts a day and the poor people that get them and respond need a flippin' break. (Thank you Tom, Nancy, Kathleen, Aunt Julie, Meghan, Laurie, Ann, Jenn and many, many more.) Didn't finish that one because I got distracted.

Was going to ask you for your recommendations on must-have apps for said iPad, in fact, I'll just do that now before I get distracted. What are the must-have apps for an iPad? I want to load it up so it's good to go when he opens it.

Can't really finish this post, either, something else just caught my attention...

Monday, November 28, 2011

What's New Around Here



I am playing catch-up today after five L-O-N-G days with Rojo. I swear with every inch he grows, he gets one notch louder. His voice is changing, he's taller than me now, and has the "gift" my side of the family has, with a voice that really carries. It's impossible to find a place in our home where you can forget he's also in the home. Impossible.

Oh, and did I tell you STM wants to get a motor home after Woohoo goes off to college, so STM, Rojo, Flicka and I can travel together in a space smaller than our kitchen? Days on end in close quarters? "Ideally" with two TVs, so the boys can each watch their shows and I guess I'll be somewhere with earplugs AND headphones, and a giant Margarita? I have convinced STM that the first thing to do is rent one for a week and see how we all do. I'm taking bets now on who calls "uncle" first. I doubt we'll make it past the city limits.

Woohoo got into the university she was hoping to get into! WOOHOO for Woohoo! She has her colleges narrowed down to two, and they are apples and oranges. I am trying (rather unsuccessfully) to not sway her with my strong preference of one over the other, even though the "other" is where I went to college. Not a thing in the world wrong with that university, I just don't see how it would be the right fit for Woohoo. Actually "sway" is not the right word, I'm trying to not drive her so crazy that she picks the other one just to spite me.

I am pretty much living on pumpkin pie with aerosol whip cream and eggnog lattes. Every year I tell myself I'm not going to succumb, and every year I do. It's about a one-month thing that I am simply powerless over. If eggnog were available year-round I wouldn't touch it. It's my November-December "thing."

We continued our tradition of going out the day after Thanksgiving (I refuse to call it Black Friday, what TFBS), and cutting down our Christmas tree. I'm happy to report that our house is fragrant with the scent of a Shasta fir, and the stockings have been hung by the chimney with care. Our Christmas dishes are out and being used, and they make me happy. My pumpkin pie is extra yummy served on them.

STM and I had a "crisis" when the DVR was out of new things to watch and On Demand was down. We actually watched last week's "Modern Family" again, because we'd laughed so much the first time. Happy to report we laughed just as hard, or harder, the second time. That's the first show to come along since "Seinfeld," that really makes me giggle. My favorite is Cam, I belly laugh at every word and gesture from him. In fact, I'm having a chuckle right now just thinking of Cam. Cam. Cam. Funny, funny Cam!

We are going to see Santa next week, and Rojo is going to ask him for a little stuffed bear to replace Max, the one with a broken nose that I tried to fix, but to no avail. Let's hope Santa can put his hands on a new Max, because it can't be sort of like Max, it needs to be Max, but with a perfect nose.

So, some big things, some little things, your basic life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Back By Popular Demand




I wrote these YEARS ago, way before I even had a blog, and shared them with some friends. They continue to ask for them, so here they are (and they remain as true as they did then):

TOP 10 THINGS LIKELY TO BE SAID BY STM'S MOM ON THANKSGIVING:

10. The newspaper today was as thick as the Sunday paper with all those ads.

 9.  I think while all of those people are out shopping tomorrow, I'll just enjoy staying home.

 8. That button on the turkey already popped, and it can't possibly be done.

 7.  My mother used to serve creamed onions every year, and she was the only one that ate them.

 6.  I hope you all brought your Tupperware, there are going to be lots of leftovers!

 5.  The stores are all decorated for Christmas already!

 4.  That's enough salt, Papa!

 3.  This time we're having real butter.

 2.  I'm so full I couldn't eat another bite.

 1.  Who's ready for pie?




TOP 10 THINGS LIKELY TO BE SAID BY CARRIE'S MOM ON THANKSGIVING:

10.  Who thinks the new mayor is a closeted alcoholic?

 9.  What is going on with all these math labs? Do you realize the long-term implications of this epidemic?

 8.  There is a real spiritual deficit in this country. Did you know that Macy's won't even let their employees say, "Merry Christmas" now? They have to say, "Happy holidays."

 7.  Everywhere I go now there are these gambling places disguised as coffee shops. I thought we were keeping all this gambling within the Indian reservations to create jobs and help these poor people make something of their lives.

 6.  I am calling the cable company on Monday and canceling my subscription. Have you sen the rates?They just keep going up, while the quality of programming just keeps going down.

 5.  Who wants to call _______________ and wish them a happy Thanksgiving? I'm sure they are lonely and thinking of all of us while they are in rehab.

 4.  I can never eat enough to make it worth all the trouble of cooking a big Thanksgiving meal. Even if I could, who can enjoy eating knowing that one third of the world goes to bed hungry every night.

 3.  Oh, no salt for me! You know I have terrible blood pressure! I never salt anything, I haven't for years! Of course, I do love my chips!

 2.  I'm so full I can't eat another bite.

 1. I'm ready for pie!


Monday, November 21, 2011

THAT College


Lots of talk of college in our house these days. Every month or so Rojo reminds me, "You know, I'm not going to college." Just yesterday we were standing in the kitchen and he looked up on the wall where my favorite Corita Kent print is hung, and said, "THAT's the college I'm going to. I'm going to live here with you, and go to the 'Each child is special give lots of love college.'"

He'll graduate summa cum-laude, I haven't a doubt.


Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm writing about blue twos at Hopeful Parents today - won't you join me? Thanks!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Word Choice


I'm on a bit of a rampage, and we all just love a good rant, right? No? Just me?

A friend of mine called last week and was telling me how now that her son is seventeen, she needs to get crackin' with a case worker and start the arduous task of setting things up like Medicaid, transitional services, and SSI. These are things that are in our future, too, but I am letting my blinders stay on until Rojo turns sixteen, maybe seventeen, before crossing those bridges I don't want to cross.

When this friend finally got someone helpful on the phone (can you imagine the extent to which my phone phobia will flare up when I have to do this?), the kind woman on the other end asked, "What is his current eligibility?" My friend gave the initials that bring a tear to her eye and a choke to her throat each time, "M.R."

"Well, we aren't going to use that term," she said, "We'll use Developmentally Disabled."

Later, I was sharing all this with another friend of mine that has closely walked my story with me, and who is the aunt of a fifteen-year-old with Down Syndrome. "I like Intellectual Disability," she said kindly enough. At which point I bit her head off.

"I DON'T!" I said. "It's just another way of saying, 'not smart.' It's focused entirely on what we think of as intelligent, and doesn't tell us anything about the other intelligences the person may have."

I then proceeded to blast her with a long litany of people I know with high SAT scores, impressive graduate degrees, and by all standard measures are "intelligent," and frankly, make some of the most piss-poor decisions I've ever heard of in my life.

At Rojo's school they use the term "learning differences" rather than "learning disabilities." I love this, because that's just exactly what they are, differences. Rojo still can't tie his shoes - probably never will, but that boy is a wiz on his phone and computer. Nobody taught him. He innately knew how to make them do what he wanted them to do. Technology makes sense to him. It works in a way his brain can get itself wrapped around.

Rojo has a spiritual intelligence I've never seen in another person. Ever. I see plenty of "smart" people striving to attain a state of mental health and peace that he effortlessly just has.

I don't know, maybe when it's time for me to make that call I'll give them his "true" diagnosis of PDD-NOS, but maybe I'll just see what happens when I say he has "intellectual differences."


Photo from http://www.iqtestexperts.com


Monday, November 14, 2011

The A Dar Never Vacations




When STM and I were on vacation, we kept spotting the same family. They often ended up eating breakfast next to us, walking on the path next to us, you get the idea. Right away my A-dar went up when I saw their little girl, who was about six or seven. I can't even put my finger on it, it was just "something" about where her gaze was, how repetitive she was in what she said, "Mom is sitting here," "Don't sit there, Mom is sitting there, "Mom is sitting there," "That's where Mom will sit," etc.

The father finally said, "I know, you've told me repeatedly." He didn't sound mad, he didn't sound super annoyed (I was), he sounded resigned. Then I watched the same father go to the buffet and bring her back a plate of all white food: toast, rice, banana. That sealed the deal.

I saw the exhausted looking mom. I saw the exhausted looking dad. I saw the game-for-anything grandparents they'd brought along to help with the kids. I saw the older, typical brother. I saw the old me that would have tried to make a trip like that work (and did just such a thing when we took everyone, STM's parents included, to Disneyland when Rojo was that age). I saw the strain between the parents, despite the fact that they were "on vacation." I saw their future. I saw their past.

I didn't say a word to them.

I remember in the earlier years when someone thought they had a kid like Rojo, and they'd tell me their story, and pass along their words of wisdom. I found it presumptuous. I found it putting the cart before the horse - they were trying to give me input I was not ready to have. I found it hard to shake their words loose from my brain, and some lived to haunt me.

I also know they were doing it out of kindness, that they recognized something in him, in me, in us that resonated with them, and they wanted to connect from that place, but that is just not a place everyone necessarily wants to connect.

So, although the A-dar never takes a vacation, my tendency to "help," must.





Photo from: www.letschatautism.com

Friday, November 11, 2011

$180 Richer

We found the retainers! Rojo put on a sweatshirt today and there in the pocket were BOTH of them!

Thank you, St. Anthony!

Thank you, Don Wilson!

Thank you, concerned readers! I just KNOW none of us had any bigger fish to fry than this! : )

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Vacation Was Had by One and All


Okay, I finally have my caffeine-induced wits about me enough to tell you about our AWESOME vacation! Here's the thing about vacations - they're a good thing to take! Note to self: take one with spouse more than every 10 years. We went to Vegas for 3 days for our 10th anniversary, have had a night or two here and there since then, but have not been away for a whole week alone, for 18+ years. (Nine months exactly before Woohoo was born. Just sayin'.)

It's just a really nice thing to go away and remember why you ever thought getting married was such a hot idea to begin with. Thing is, I like STM. My love for him has never been in question, but it was really nice to just enjoy the heck out of his company. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but once you have kids, it's so hard to keep the focus from totally being on them, and then throw a special need or two (or 12) in there, and well, it's easy to become co-parents of a special needs child, and not much else.



Everyone keeps asking us what we did when we were in Maui. Here's the answer: a whole lot of nothing. We didn't go to "do," we went to "be." And "be" we did. We "be'd" at the beach, at the pool, on our balcony, on long walks and leisurely breakfasts. We did golf once (he golfed, I rode in the cart for an extra $35). We took nice drives around the island, did explore the other towns both near and far, but most of the time we just hung out.

STM read the Steve Jobs book cover-to-cover (it's a monster), and I read three paperbacks that were all wonderful. (Shanghai Girls, Secret Daughter, The Miracles of Prato. Put all three on your To Read list, and don't forget The Blood of Flowers, too.)

We slept 9 hours each night. We awoke before daybreak, got our coffee and sat on our balcony watching the sun come up. We had our beer and/or wine each evening at sunset and watched the glory of that. In a nutshell: pure heaven.

And the kids. The kids had a ball without us. Woohoo said, "No stress for a full week." Nobody asking her if she did this or that, nobody nagging. Somebody cooking sumptuous meals for her each night. Someone that let her take over our master bedroom and make it her own for a week. Someone that said, "Sure!" to whatever it was she wanted to do.

Rojo was blissed out, too. We only talked to him once for 2 seconds and had a couple of texts. He was too busy keeping our friend, liz, (you can call her the liz, but you can't capitalize her name) hopping. He had her going out for frozen yogurt, playing basketball in the living room while she played YouTube videos on her laptop to provide the appropriate accompanying music, listening to him play and sing church songs on the piano or keyboard, or just having "conversations."

When we got home it was 9:00 PM and we thought he was asleep. When we went up to check on him he was SOBBING in his bed. "Rojo, what's wrong?"

"This is liz's last day!" he said through his cracking, crying, voice.

I settled him down, went back to say goodbye to liz (and tell her how sad he was she was leaving), and when I went back he was crying even more - up out of his bed, pacing around the room frantically, in a total frenzy. "My heart is BROKEN," he said. "I have a sad life!"

Of course this tore me up inside and I couldn't sleep a wink that night, even after I saw he'd settled down and was sleeping peacefully. The next morning we discovered liz had left her cell phone charger at our house, so we dropped it off after school. Rojo didn't even want to get out of the car, I made him, he said his hello and goodbye and then was in a big hurry to get home and to the school yard before it got dark.

liz e-mailed me the next day, "If you're not lucky enough to be in the Rojo circle, you will never get why it makes total sense that he was crying his eyes out last night because I was leaving, but had absolutely no time for me today!" Exactly! Nothing personal! You were here, I was sad you left. I processed all that. I'm over it. No baggage. No attachment. In the present.

liz also wrote, "Oh, my hell of God... Rojo and I are even more solidly connected than before. I want everyone to love me the way he does... deeply, no strings... no agenda. Thanks for the opportunity to be with someone who touches my soul in a way that no one else ever could."

Thank you liz for being the perfect person to make it all possible. Rest up, Hawaii 2013 is already in the works (my 50th)!






Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top 10 Things I've Found While Looking for Rojo's Retainers

We had a GREAT vacation (more on that in another post). The kids did great (more on that in another post), the house looked great (more on that in another post), fun was had by all (more on that in another post). Only "casualty" of the time away was one set of retainers. They went all Don Wilson on us. Vanished. Thin air. Were right there and now they simply aren't. I know they'll turn up, but now the clock is ticking and I do NOT want Rojo's teeth to move while we wait for Don Wilson to return the damn things to where he found them. This could take months (and usually does).

So, I've turned the house UPSIDE DOWN looking for them (they are $180 to replace, not something I feel like forking money over for right now, or ever, actually). Have NOT found the retainers, but I have found these...

10. 29 bobby pins

 9.  Rojo's sunglasses he lost in July (which I did replace, so now he has a back up pair for next July, roughly the next time he'll need them around here)

 8. Nine of Flicka's "chews"

 7. Balled up Kleenex

 6. Screw thingies from a drawer that broke ages ago

 5.  Dust bunnies too numerable to count

 4. An empty Gatorade bottle

 3. An empty something else, not-quite-sure-what bottle

 2. My 5 lb. weights I've been wondering about

 1. Candy wrappers


Monday, October 31, 2011

All Souls



Running last minute errands this morning before we take off tomorrow morning for Hawaii, and had the radio on KBVM (K-Blessed Virgin Mary), which I've listened to on and off for years. Love the music. Like some of the discussions. Do NOT like some of the discussions. You can take the girl out of the Protestant religion, but you can't take the Protestant religion out of the girl.

Topic turned to Halloween, which precedes All Saints' Day, and then All Souls' Day. The woman on the radio urged us to be praying for all the souls in purgatory. I snapped that radio off so fast it would have made your head spin - did not want to hear one WORD about purgatory, a concept I have always struggled with.

Got to thinking, anything that made me react with that amount of energy, probably needed to be looked at a little more closely. Clicked it back on. Because there are no accidents, the whole conversation was about people's struggle to understand purgatory.

I'm not pretending I understand it any better, but it did get my wheels turning. I, personally, don't believe there is a heaven "up there," or a hell "down there," I believe that they are states of mind, and there are those who have figured out how to achieve heaven on earth, and those for whom this alludes. It then stands to reason that there is an in between, too, a place of purification, a place of struggle, and mental anguish. Doesn't that sound a lot like life? Or at least periods in our life? Is it possible that we experience heaven, hell and purgatory over and over and over again, sometimes concurrently?

The Buddhists believe in Samsara - a cycle of birth and rebirth, until one finally breaks free through enlightenment and transcends the cycle to a state of Nirvana. I like this concept, or maybe just the words sit better with me. I like the notion of "transcending," of breaking free from a cycle, be it lifetime after lifetime or just what feels like it, the issues we have that seem to haunt us and feel so old and ingrained we grow weary and doubtful we will ever transcend them.

On this All Souls; Day (Wednesday), I will light a candle for just that - all souls. May we all transcend. May we all move from a place of mental anguish and struggle. May we all "find" heaven.

Amen.


 * Photo from http://blissfullydomestic.com

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Top 10 Signs I Need a Vacation



10. I am virtually incapable of speaking intelligibly - even STM says, "Never mind, I know what you mean."

9. I needed to return something, put it in a box, closed it up, realized I had not put the paper work inside, opened it up. Closed it. Realized I had not put the paper work inside. Opened it. Closed it. THREE times!

8. Started packing two weeks ago.

7. Finding new ways to drive my loved ones crazy by micro-managing their lives.

6. Got super annoyed when someone took a bite of something that was "mine" in the fridge.

5. Can't be bothered letting Flicka sniff on our walks, must be marching forward at all times!

4. Until this moment, totally "blogstipated."

3. Totally becoming a hypochondriac.

2. Looking for things to worry about.

1. Forgetting to be grateful.



 * Photo from www.gohawaii.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blogcation

Didn't intend to start my blogcation until next week, when I will be sunning myself with STM on the beaches of MAUI, but I guess my fingers knew I needed a little extra time off. Just not a whole lot going on to report on, and that is a good thing. My resolution for 2011 was: boredom. While 2011 has been anything but, I am enjoying a nice little lull now, and let me tell you, it feels good.

Can't get enough of this:


And can't stop reading this:


And every now and then I pop up to use one of these babies, on a light fixture that hasn't seen the likes of it for oh, say, five to six years:


Did have an IEP meeting for Rojo at his new school, and this time he had to go, too. Just going into the basement and pulling out that box set off a PTSD episode, and I was dreading the whole thing something fierce. Here's the thing: it was great. They've found a way to tap into services through the school district this school is in (different district than we've dealt with for 15 years), and they will come to HIM, during school, and teach social skills! They are calling it "social cognition," which I am too busy drinking tea and reading my good book to Google and learn more about, but they both sound like good words, and coupled, they must be twice as good, right?

My tea is getting cold and this book isn't going to finish itself, so until later, TTFN!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Helicopter Parents




I don't know if I'd be a helicopter parent if I weren't a parent to a child that requires I be so (probably), but I do know I am, and I do know the minute I turn down the vigilance, things fall apart. Meds are not taken. Things are not brought to school that need to be, glasses are not worn, underwear is not changed, etc.

We have been highly involved in Woohoo and Rojo's schools, always. Auction chairs, coached sports, sat on numerous boards, organized/pushed for new programs, blah, blah, blah, so naturally, I was at the open house the high school held on Sunday, to help answer questions prospective parents might have about the program Rojo is in.

Ran into one of Woohoo's favorite teachers and was chatting it up. Learned Woohoo is pushing it a little on the dress code. Nothing major, hasn't been written up, but still, pushing it. All totally within the realms of normal teenage behavior, and we are not concerned, however, we did mention it to her. Her boyfriend happened to be over at the time. (What were the chances? Answer: high!) She wanted to know how we knew and when we answered, "Our spies told us," he said, "I'm so glad my parents aren't involved."

He wasn't been funny or ironic, wasn't going for a laugh, totally 100% serious. You could see the genuine gratitude he had for the way his parents have parented.

I am definitely less helicopter-y with Woohoo, but I do my fair share of hovering over her, too. It's a chicken/egg kind of thing - I'll never know which came first, the tendency or the need. Guess I don't even need to know - just touch it all with gentle awareness and see from where it all comes - love.


Photo from http://www.jetplanephoto.com

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spirit Week


It's homecoming week at Woohoo and Rojo's school, and that means another spirit week. Rojo lives for spirit week(s), and fortunately for him, they are a plenty in his high school. This is already the second "round."

Monday was OSU/UO day, which was a no brainer for him (I actually hate that expression, don't know why I used it). He has a surplus of both OSU and UO T-shirts. The only bet was on which team he'd represent, since truly he's a "platypus" as we call them around here, half and half with parents from each of the rival colleges, and a fan of both, enemy of neither. He picked UO. No telling what pushed him in that direction.

Tuesday was Celebrity Day. I don't think he knows the meaning of the word "celebrity," and certainly is not impressed by anyone that calls themselves a celebrity. I suggested we skip the day, as they are optional, anyway. "No, he said, I know who I'll be. I'll be Wayne Newton."

You could have knocked me over with a feather. WAYNE NEWTON? Where in the world did he come up with THAT one??? I refused to kill myself trying to come up with a Wayne Newton costume in less than 12 hours, so I blew the whole thing off and thought it would just go away. Tuesday morning he came at me with a Sharpie and Scotch tape and wanted me to write, "Hi, I'm Wayne Newton" on the tape and put it on his T-shirt. Naturally, I did. Naturally, that made him Wayne Newton. Naturally, it worked for everyone else, too.

Today is Red and Blue Day (school colors). Rojo is also "singing" with the choir at the Homecoming Mass, so he'll be wearing a red polo shirt with his black choir pants. I will be probably the only parent at the school Mass because I probably have the only high schooler that begged his mother to come and "watch" him sing. If he moves his lips even a little, it will be well worth it.

Thursday is Twin Day and he has worked it all out with one of his peer tutors to be twins. I think they are just wearing their T-shirts that have their high school's name on them. (Nothing could be more made than (most) boys and their lack of effort/attention/freak out they put into what they wear.)

Friday is Color Day - each class has a color, freshman are orange. He'll be wearing... yes, that's right, an orange T-shirt!





Tuesday, October 18, 2011



It's the 18th of the month, and you know what that means, it means I'm at Hopeful Parents today. See you over there!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Right Arm

There have been times in my life when all I wanted or needed to be happy, was to have my children be happy. As a friend of mine always says, "You're only as happy as your unhappiest child." So true. Right now I have two happy children. I am happy. And so, so grateful. Our village is vast and powerful, and I give it much of the credit for our collective happiness.


When Anxiety tries to get me to worry about what's "next" for Rojo after high school, I only need to look around at his ever-expanding village, and realize, it's not all up to me. In fact, "next" is already under construction. I don't know how it will look, but I know that something good is coming!


We took Rojo to the football game on Thursday night (no school Friday). We've been taking him to all the home games since Woohoo was a freshman. He likes to "direct" the band. The band has come to count on it, and some of the horn players are even able to continue playing through their smiling mouths. On Thursday we told Rojo he needed to stop hanging out with us, and go see his friends in the student section. He did. It was awkward. It was painful. It wasn't all that successful, but he did it. We watched as he tried to enter existing circles of conversation and one group after another patiently at worst, and delightedly, at best, spoke to him until he moved on to the next circle.

On the way home in the car he piped up with, "I love my life. I love my friends. I love my school. I just love my life."

I can think of at least ten moms I know that would give their right arm to hear their kid(s) say that.

That's so much more than "enough," that's everything.

Amen.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chinese Medicine


So, went to the acupuncturist and got the very abbreviated background on the rudiments of Chinese medicine. Learned a little about the way wood, fire, earth, water and metal are represented in our bodies, and how Chinese medicine is a way to bring harmony to the flow between them (not even sure I have that right, but something like that).

Anyhoo, my Fire and Metal are not happy. Also, there's the dietary thing. Turns out my main two categories of food, gluten and dairy, are both big no nos for me. As I've said here before, I knew dairy was not working for me, and so have really worked hard to eliminate it. Since it didn't do a lot to clear up my issues, I suspected gluten may also be a problem. It is. She wants me off both completely. Of course I am kicking and screaming and throwing a big pity party - and you're invited! I'll do it, but I'm going to complain for (quite) awhile. It is fair to say that everything I enjoy eating has gluten and/or dairy, and everything I don't, doesn't.

Guess it's time to learn to cook.

What happened when I had the acupuncture treatment, is I did deeply relax and had all kinds of wild visions/dreams in just 15 minutes. Then, what I also experienced but didn't count on, was a much keener focus. I did not ping from thing to thing to thing, task to task to task, I was actually able to calmly complete one thing (like bringing in a car load of groceries and putting them away), before moving on to the next (like emptying the dishwasher and reloading it). May not sound like much, but it felt so different (and good) that I'm a believer.




* Photo from http://www.complementaryhealthcentral.com

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Big Day



Yesterday was a big day around here. First of all, I took Rojo into the DMV to get an ID card. He is fifteen, and it's time to have official identification for whatever/whenever he needs it. I just sort of sprung it on him that we were doing this after school, and miraculously, he fully cooperated. I think most people assumed the DMV was closed on Columbus Day, so the crowd was thin and the wait blessedly short. He is fully IDd, now, all 5'6" 92 lbs. of him.

Then, Woohoo submitted her college application that has kept me up nights for months (needlessly, but nonetheless). Any of you wanting to light the Marys for that one, would sure be appreciated. Our hope and prayer is that she's accepted to this school - her first choice and ours, too. We think it is a good fit for her and one in which she can be successful. (The school has a radio station there dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Just sayin'.)

Last, but not least, heard back from my agent last night that she likes all the changes I made to the book, and she's ready to go "out" with it. Again, light the Marys! A bestseller would be nice, but we really just want to the book to "do" whatever it is it is meant to do in the universe. Let it be.

love.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Acupuncture



Tomorrow I am seeing an acupuncturist for the very first time. I'm excited. I can't wait to have her place needles wherever it is she places needles, and let them do their thing. I have heard it's very effective in treating anxiety, and that is music to my soon-to-have-needles-all-over-them-ears.

In the meantime, I am trying to be mindful of my breath and saying to myself, "With this breath I calm my body..." that is helpful. So is my favorite anxiety cure: distraction. I have decided that today is the day I need to create a directory for the support group I facilitate. Imagine the possibilities of six or even seven years worth of saved e-mails listing various naturopaths, speech paths, occupational therapists, neuropsychs, psychologists, psychiatrists, play therapists, social skills therapists, you-name-it. I can finally make a comprehensive list of who we have all used and liked and stop re-creating the wheel every time someone asks me, "Do you know someone that...." which is a question I get a lot.

Had a conversation with a fellow anxiety "sufferer" today. There are some pros to having anxiety, most of us "high strung" individuals do get a shit load of stuff done in a day - so hard is it for us to do "nothing." We find things to do that don't always need doing. Sometimes, in fact, they require un-doing because not only did they not need to be done, they shouldn't have been done.

STM is famous for looking at people like me and saying, "You're not watching enough TV." Let's just say he does watch enough. He works like a dog when it's time to work, and he rests (like an old dog) when it's time to rest. A lesson I have failed to learn despite his many attempts.

We do have an awful lot of good bad TV stored on our DVR, perhaps tomorrow after acupuncture... can't talk now, gotta go put that on the To Do list.








* Photo from http://www.grandstrandacupuncture.com

Friday, October 7, 2011

College



It is October 7th and on my desk is a huge pile of stuff for Woohoo's graduation in eight months, and that's not just because I'm neurotic.

By October 18th we need to submit our order for all things graduation related: cap and gown, announcements. There are senior pictures to select for the yearbook, and we need to dig out the baby pictures and pick one of those, too. College Night was last night, and now is the time to get all the recommendations in, finish up that essay, submit applications left and right, visit colleges, etc...

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Ruth, has a daughter just a year older than Woohoo. She said last December to me, and I've thought of this a million times, "Just call me next year and scream - I'll know it's you."

AHHHHHHH!!!

First of all, there are the 1,001 details that all need to get done really soon, not to mention the fact we have to figure out how we're even going to pay for college, but how is it possible that I my little girl is going off to college in ten months? HOW? I'm still driving the same car that took her to preschool, doesn't that automatically make her little? Will that car, indeed, drive her off to college? Probably. Where have the years gone?

Between a part-time job, a boyfriend, three AP classes and all this college stuff, she is BUSY. Already we hardly see her, which I guess is part of the natural order of things - by the time she actually leaves, it will be less dramatic, less painful, less upsetting, but nonetheless, just as poignant.

Adding to the poignancy is the fact that we're only doing this once. Rojo will not be taking and retaking the SATs and the ACTs. He will not be filling out applications. He will not need a roommate and a meal plan. We know, as we pass through this milestone year, it will be the only time that we do.

And that is the good news, because my old friend Anxiety, cannot do this twice.

And that is the bad news, because my old friend, Anxiety, is stressing already about What's Next for Rojo Instead.

Had our support group meeting at my house this morning. We talked about how we all struggle to enjoy the highs, fearing the lows. When things are even with our kids, when they are happy, in the right schools, have friends, healthy in all ways, we spend that time worrying about when they aren't, instead of celebrating that they are.

Woohoo is going off to college in less than a year. That is to be celebrated. Although it feels like everyone I know has kids that are in college or college bound, I have to remember that that is not the real world. It is a privilege and an honor to be headed to college, not the norm.

So, instead of screaming, instead of complaining, instead of worrying, instead of every other lower vibrational emotion or reaction, I am going to count my many blessings, not the least of which is I have a daughter that will be ready for college and gets to go.

Photo from http://blog.syracuse.com/college

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This One Goes Out to the Ones I Love



Just sent my agent my manuscript. "Just" as in 2 seconds ago. It's off my desk and on its electronic way to being on hers. That makes me happy. That makes me freaked out. That makes me insecure. That makes my IBS and racing heart go nuts (TMI?). That makes me feel accomplished. That makes me feel like a giant fraud - like I think I can pull off writing a book, ha! That makes me excited for everyone in the whole entire world to one day read it. That makes me want to DIE if anyone at ALL ever considers reading it!

Your basic head case.

After YEARS of having this book rattle around in my brain and make me all but pre-occupied and unable to do anything else, I FINALLY decided it just needed to get "out." However "out" turns out to be. If nothing else, it tells the story of our little family and the transformations in all of us as a result of the wisdom born of having Plan A turn into Plan B. At least from my perspective. Someday my grandchildren can dig it out of a box in the basement and argue over who gets stuck with it.

Rosie Thomas' song, "The One I Love," is in my ears and on my brain, both on a loop. This, ultimately, is my greatest wish for the book, my greatest hope, my greatest prayer. "Let this book go out to the one(s) I love. Mary, carry this book and place it into the hands of whomever needs to read it, for whatever reason (perhaps just to feel better about their own abilities as a writer - Shakespeare, it ain't).

Whatever may be, may be - let it be.

Amen.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Old Friend



My old friend, anxiety, is back. She is making my arms tingle, my heart race, my stomach churn. She taunts me in my sleep, awakening me in a dead panic at least once a night.

Struggled with anxiety my whole life, came to a peak almost ten years ago, exactly. Started doing the math yesterday (anxiety loves to run numbers), realized it was as I approached 39 that she really went nuts. I am fast approaching 49. She's right on time.

About to say goodbye to another decade and hello to the next one. About to launch my oldest off to college. About to see Rojo's years of formal education wind down, not up. About to move into a different stage with our marriage and parenting, while we will still have one at home (and may always), we will no longer be really "raising" kids.

We have three parents in their 80's, it's only a matter of time until their needs become greater and our roles shift in those relationships, too.

STM is concluding a project he's worked for years on. He will be starting "next."

Although I may need to revisit the idea of medication, I am hoping to avoid that. Scheduled an appointment with the naturopath. Going to try to do this "naturally."

Going to spend more time in meditation and less in my car racing from silly errand to silly errand (i.e. three trips to Safeway in 24 hours).

Going to take more slow walks with the dog - let her sniff to her hearts content and let that time be an opportunity for deep breathing, as opposed to utter exasperation.

Going to drink more herbal tea and less coffee.

Going to stop making lists of what I'm going to do, and just...


be.






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Friday, September 30, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Well, my perfect get-away took an abrupt U-turn. I ended up with either food poisoning or the stomach flu, but whatever it was, it wasn't pretty. Had to call my mom who had to call a friend that still lived over there, to come bring me supplies. Answering the door to let her in took it out of me for the rest of the day.

Anyway. I'm home now, and feeling much better. I guess it's a good thing I took my time-out-for-illness then, because since I've been home I've:

* Vacuumed approximately 20 lbs. of weightless dog hair

* Taken Woohoo's car through DEQ. Twice. Needed a fuse so they could run the test. Got the fuse. Got back in line. Fun times.

* Done 100 loads of laundry

* Been to Safeway three times, and Trader Joe's once

* Signed up to bring snacks for several different commitments

* Ordered black pants for Rojo so he can perform in the upcoming choir concert

* Watered all the sagging plants inside and out

* Worked the Snack Shack with Rojo

* Taken both kids to the dentist

* Brushed the dog like there's no tomorrow

* Walked the dog twice

* Put 20 other To Dos on the list from all the e-mails I've received since getting home

* Hyperventilated a few times

* Picked up something from Bi-Mart for STM that he needed immediately

* Several other things hardly worthy of mention, but time consuming, nonetheless

It's important to note I've been home just over 24-hours.

To all you working-outside-the-home mothers, I bow to you.

Deeply.