Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Idea of a Vacation

About to leave on a vacation - and it's the best kind, if you ask me, all by myself. I'm off to visit a dear friend. Our agenda? Talk. Talk. Talk. There are few things that tire me more than small talk, and nothing that energizes me more than true heart-to-hearts. We plan on four days of the latter.

In my suitcase? Sweats, pajamas, jeans and Target turtlenecks. Oh, and my Dansko clogs (one of two pairs), which if you don't have already, get yourself out there and buy ASAP. You'll never go back. Never. And when you're pushing 50 with a short stick, you won't care, either!

You'll also be happy to know that the world will be rid of all problems when we're done, yes, that's right, because we will be solving them beautifully!

So, obviously, with all those HDRs and world-problem-solving going on, I won't have much time to blog or read blogs.

See you on the other side!

Love, love and more love!

* Photo from

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Enough Already

Do you want to know what's better than a DVR? TWO DVRs! We bundled our Internet, cable and phone and converted to HD, and as a result we are the proud renters of two noisy and busy DVR machines, and it is making me happy, happy and more happy. STM has his shows recorded on one, shows you could not pay me to watch, and in fact, have made me run screaming from the room on more than one occasion. On "my" DVR there are a bunch of Oprah shows, Jerseylicious (don't judge), and a few new ones I'm trying from the new OWN Network.

Last night I curled up in bed with a cup of chamomile tea and watched, "Enough Already," similar to "Clean House" but so much better because it's not cheesy and schmaltzy and annoying. Now, don't get me wrong, I do not have a clutter problem, per se, am not a hoarder, and one can easily move from room to room, but I have a solid store room/basement PACKED with absolute &%$#.

My dad was like the people on the show, he basically lived in 2 rooms of a large home because the others were store rooms for only God knows what, things that at the end of his life we tossed with abandon. One does not need to wonder what is stored in my basement, it is all packed neatly in clear tubs and labeled accordingly. However, the sheer volume is nauseating. I probably have every letter you've ever written me. Every thank you note. Every baby tooth of both my kids (and both umbilical cords), every baby blanket, their cutest baby clothes, every photograph I've ever taken, every memento from every trip, decorations for every season and a disaster preparedness kit that is pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

What was helpful when watching "Enough Already," was the point the host, Peter Walsh, said that what we hold on to is either stuff that ties us back to the past, or that we plan to use in the future - either way, we're not where we need to be, which is in the present. True!

And although he said (repeatedly) that "Later is the best friend of clutter," I'm still not quite ready to part with the baby teeth or umbilical cords, but I'm a lot closer to ready than I was before.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Farmer in the Dell Gets Married!

I know what you're all thinking, Why isn't Carrie a professional photographer? Right? I know, I really do have the eye and skill, not to mention the fancy camera. Anyhoo. Some of you are already following my friend Andrea's blog, A Farmer in the Dell. If you're not already, you must, must I tell you. She is delightful on her blog and even more delightful in person.

STM and I were lucky enough to get invited to the wedding, and we had an absolute ball. Rojo was the one that said to Andrea when she told him she was moving to Massachusetts to work on an organic farm, "Oh, so you're the farmer in the dell, " hence, the name of her blog. But do you want to know what was the best part of the whole wedding? Their first dance together as husband and wife was to... yes... say it with me... The Farmer in the Dell! We all sang along! They danced! They smiled! They twirled!

And they shall live happily every after, I'm betting the farm on that one!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Word of the Year

So, I thought my word for the year was going to be surrender, but it turns out that Sabbath is making itself known as THE word for 2011. I guess I will surrender to Sabbath - kill two birds with one stone.

Had this quote pop up in my inbox from as I was sitting down to type this post, "Stillness within one individual can affect society beyond measure." Bede Griffith
Let me hear you say, "NO ACCIDENTS!"

Not enough can be made of these books which are not only affirming the need of Sabbath, but giving me some instructions on how to go about it, as well as offering wonderful things to read while "busy" Sabbathing:

Thursday, January 20, 2011


We saw our beloved developmental/behavioral pediatrician again recently. We've gone as often as monthly and as little as quarterly, for thirteen years. He's really good about celebrating our progress (which is gigantic) and pointing out our next goal or two. We are supposed to start getting Rojo as independent as possible, starting with going into a grocery store together, sending him off on his own to get milk, coming back to the cart and then going back for something else, etc. There is a little store in our neighborhood just a few short blocks away. The goal is that someday I will be able to give him $10, send him with a short list, and have him come back with everything on it (with as much help as he needs once in the store). This is a long way from happening, but we are baby stepping it now. At this point he is not willing to separate from me in the grocery store, but I can get him to find something in the aisle while I'm in the same aisle looking for something else. Like I said, baby steps.

The other thing we are supposed to do is get Rojo to express his opinion. The doctor explained to us something so obvious, yet I'd never thought of it in these terms: opinions use both the left and right sides of the brain. They take fact (left) and cross over for feelings (right), and make the two hemispheres work together. Right now when you ask Rojo what he thinks about something, he's likely to say, "Good." It's very hard for him to expand - to offer an opinion on anything. It's not hard to get my daughter to offer an opinion on literally, EVERYTHING, so it's comforting to know it's a wiring thing and not a bad parenting thing that is giving him such trouble.

This new task has helped to reshape my views on my own opinions and those of others. When I totally disagree with others' opinion I am a little better at saying to myself, "That is just their feelings mixed with some fact," instead of dismissing them as just plain wrong. The tricky part is when I agree with their opinions to realize that then, too, it is simply their feelings mixed with fact. It is not pure fact. It is not pure feelings. It is not pure, at all. It's an opinion. Nothing more, nothing less, but very worth considering, always.

* Photo from

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Team Orange

There is a young mother of three in our community that is battling cancer. Her favorite color is orange. She is one of those women everyone likes and respects, who is kind to everyone, has a loving, supportive husband, and should be enjoying the prime of her life. However, she is undergoing one invasive and scary treatment after another.

One of her friends had the idea that she'd get a bunch of orange vinyl ribbon, cut it into strips and put it in a tub outside of the school for anyone wanting to take one, tie it around their street tree, and show support on a particularly grueling day. I went by the school at 8:40 AM, twelve hours after the mass e-mail went out and less than an hour after the ribbons were put out, and I got the very last one.

The demand was so great they did a second run. Now you cannot drive through our neighborhood without seeing tree after tree after tree wrapped in a bright orange bow. On the street where this woman lives every house for a solid mile is decked out. Some people have tied them to posts on their house, one of the teachers at the school tied one to her bicycle, they are showing up everywhere.

The outpouring of love, prayers, support and help is enough to bring me to tears just looking out the window, and forget about it when I walk or drive through the neighborhood, it's an ugly cry every time. It's a concrete reminder that we do not walk alone. We are all tied together by invisible ribbons, weaving our stories together into One.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Season of Sabbath

STM and I had an interesting conversation after mass on Saturday night. I started off by asking him to be thinking of what we could do for Lent this year - either something to give up together, something to do together, something to do for other people together, something.

"Let's get a bottle of wine and show up on a different couple's porch each week and tell them we're coming in for a drink," was STM's first response. Sounds fun in theory, but no way on God's green earth would I ever do that, primarily because (with very few exceptions) I'd hate it if someone did that to me.

I want to be the person that is cool having unexpected company. I want to be the person that is already cooking a fabulous meal and has room and food for two more at the table. I want to be the person that can totally put aside what my plan for the night was, and go with what the plan for the night has turned out to be.

I am not that person.

"You know?" STM continued, "I want to give to myself for Lent. This week I spent Tuesday night helping blah blah do blah blah. I spent Wednesday night helping blah blah do blah blah, and I spent Thursday night helping blah blah do blah blah. The thing is, I'm giving, giving, giving, and have never needed me more."

I can't stop thinking about that, "I have never needed me more."

After posting about the Sabbath, the friend that I wrote about, the one that took a whole year and called it  the Sabbath year, told me about a great book that she and her husband used called, appropriately enough, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives. My suggestion to STM the next time this conversation surfaces, will be that we make Lent a season of Sabbath. Rest sounds heavenly, renewal needed, and delight? Not enough can be made of how delightful a little delight would be. I know that the key is not to go outside of myself looking for things that are delightful, but to open my eyes to all that is around me that is there to be delighted in, if only I slow enough to notice.

So, relax, STM and I won't be showing up with a bottle of wine and announcing our plans to take over your evening, but with any luck and a lot of effort, we will have looks on our faces you may not recognize - Sabbath faces full of rest, renewal and delight.

* Photo from

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Sadly, my friend's dear father did pass, and his memorial mass was held on Friday. I was lucky enough to get to be a part of the eulogy writing process. His children all wrote down their memories of their father, as well as the highlights of his life, and I worked with my friend to weave them all together.

It's really true what they say, no one says from their death bed, "I wish I'd spent more time at work." Here was a man that was a devoted employee and good provider for his family. He went to work right out of the Air Force and retired from the same company 39 years later. Those 39 years of committed service, however, only got one short sentence in his entire eulogy. The rest of the words spoke of a man committed to his wife, children, grandchildren, friends and faith.

I used to think the "success" of my life would be evident by the number of people who attended my funeral. The more lives I'd touched, been a part of and known, the better. To "only" have loved and been devoted to my family and closest friends, would not have been a life that had reached full potential.

The church on Friday was full. Clearly this man had made a big difference in many, many lives. However, it was the look on his widowed wife's face as she recessed down the aisle when the service was over, that said it all: This man had been successful.

Photo from

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Rojo has been asking to go to Tom and Nancy's house in the afternoon since last spring. It started innocently enough, they have a great swing on an impossibly tall tree in the backyard, and he loves to swing on it. At first we'd walk down on a beautiful day, take a swing, and leave.

Then it turned into him doing a bit of a concert and singing church songs at the top of his lungs in a falsetto voice. Nancy would come out from her kitchen and we'd sit around the patio table and visit. If Tom happened to be home, he'd join us, too.

Then our visit got extended and we'd stay for a beer (me) and water (him). Then snacks became involved. Then every now and then turned into him obsessing and begging to go every single day, which Nancy and Tom graciously accommodated as much as their busy schedules would allow.

Spring turned to summer and as summer turned to fall we thought the trend might die out. No. We just moved the party inside. Tom put away the patio table and chairs and instead of bringing Flicka and hanging in the backyard, we took over their family room. Soon Rojo decided there was more action in the basement (a computer, big TV, extra fridge with things Nancy bought just for him and even his own secret hiding place for his snacks so no one else in the family dare eat them).

Fall turned to winter and things got busy with the holidays. We still made it over there 2-3 times a week, though. Then Nancy's dad got really sick and was in the hospital. Rojo had a hard time understanding how it was more important for Nancy to be at the hospital each day with her dad, than being in her basement waiting on him hand and foot. "Nancy's dad is really sick, Rojo, he might die. Nancy needs to be with him."

He got quiet, thought about that a minute then said, "Does everyone die?"

"Yes, honey, everyone dies."

"I'm not going to die, I'm special," he said.

"There's no question you're special," I said.

I don't know if he's just heard the term "special needs" so often, or if he thinks he truly will beat death, or  that he gets that there is no beginning, no ending, only everlasting love, and that those that live in that love live eternally.

I'm betting on the latter.

* Photo from

Monday, January 10, 2011

Go, Ducks!

Conversion to high def? Check!

Snacks, snacks and more snacks? Check!

Beer, wine, Champagne and pop? Check!

Furniture re-arranged so everyone can get a good seat? Check!

Pizza pre-ordered and set to be delivered at halftime? Check!

All my favorite people about to be together in one room? Check!

Go, Ducks!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Riddle Me This, Rojo

Rojo continues to go on and on (and on and on) about our plans to move to California. It's down to the minutiae. While feeding the dog, "Mom, don't forget to pack Flicka's food when we move to California." While getting ready for bed, "Mom, who is going to read me books at night when we move to California?" When driving to the store, "Will they have Trader Joe's and Safeway when we move to California?"

"Let's not tell L. all about our plans to move to California, okay? Let's just keep that between us for now. You can tell me all about it, but let's not tell your girlfriend, L."

"Okay," he agreed.

Picked him up from school one day and first words out of his mouth were, "Well,  I told L. all about moving to California. She's down with it."

For the next 24-hours it was all about L. and her family and all the things and people they would bring when we moved to California.

Jenn came out to my car on Friday while I was waiting for Rojo and said, "I guess L. got a little freaked out about being told Rojo was going to marry her when she finished college, and they would be moving to California."

L. is fairly new to the school, and only in 5th grade. She does not know Rojo's whole gig. Frankly, if my 5th grade daughter came home and told me some 8th grade boy told her he was going to marry her, move her to California and have three boys: Alexander, Michael and Brandon, I'd freak out myself! Because there are no accidents, L.'s dad was handy right that minute that I heard about this, so I explained the whole thing to him and all is well.

Here's the thing, though, Rojo spent a good portion of his time in the Resource Room telling his teacher and aide about his big plans. He said things like, "L.s brother can come, too, you don't leave your siblings behind." He made enough "siblings left behind" comments that the astute Resource Room teacher figured out what was under all this talk of California. "Rojo," she asked, "are you worried about Woohoo going to college?"

"Yes!" he answered immediately.

"Because you are going to miss her?" 

"Yes! I am going to miss her!"

I explained the whole thing to STM and he said, "Wouldn't it be nice if he could just say, 'I'm anxious about Woohoo going to college, I'll miss her,' instead of talking in riddles?"

I've been down Wouldn't It Be Nice Road so many times I no longer need a map. And let me tell you, it goes nowhere.

Every time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


So Rojo went to school Tuesday morning, and I decided to use that time to dig in the basement for old photos of him for a school project. Found the towering stack of photo albums, but nine out of ten of them were of Woohoo. Simply cannot find any photo albums of Rojo from grades 1-5. Missing.

Looked through the baby and toddler albums of him just briefly, randomly turning to pages and giving them a cursory glance. That's was all I could do. To really go back and really look and really be back in those years is simply not something I'm up for.

Hard to believe that looking at that darling boy in the picture above, doesn't fill me with joy, right? I know. Just look at him. Could he be any cuter? And any healthier looking? And look at him eating a variety of food and textures. But pictures can lie. That same darling, healthy, happy boy I just happened to get a photo of, that boy didn't live at our house very much. The boy that lived with us then was always in my arms, on my hip, being jiggled, being stuck with a pacifier, and eventually being brushed with surgical sponges and having his joints compressed every two hours to turn on his sensory system and help him to regulate.

I don't have a lot of those pictures. Too busy to go get a camera and take a shot of any of that.

Thought I'd done okay with finding enough pictures for what I needed, thought I'd done okay skimming the surface of the pain without diving into the deep end, thought I'd done okay reflecting on those years and realizing that we are not there anymore, that we have a very happy, joyful, delightful, what-he-is boy living with us right now.

But apparently my body had another idea. As the day wore on I got sicker and sicker. Stomach cramps that felt like labor and hit with a force every 15 minutes for 24 hours. Ended up going into the doctor afraid of what she might find. She didn't have a firm answer, ran some tests and we will await the results. Feeling better now, but there is a lingering sense of non-wellness.

I still don't know what happened to the missing photo albums, and part of me mourns their loss, if they're truly gone, and part of me is relieved never to have to look at them again.

Monday, January 3, 2011

California or Bust!

Rojo goes back to school tomorrow after a 17.5 day "vacation." 2,000 races of MarioKart, a million trips to places like Plaid Panty and 7-11 later (to get random things, mostly gifts for people), he is packed and ready. Had his lunch made since 7:30 this morning. Uniform is hanging on his door knob. He actually said to me, "I can tell you're really ready for me to go to school tomorrow!" Then he proceeded to tell me more about his plans to move the whole family to California in seven years.

For the past 17.5 days I have heard quite a bit about the big move, and it goes a little something like this:

"Mom, we will move to California in seven years, when L. is out of high school (his "girlfriend" is in 5th grade). Before we have our three boys, Alexander, Michael and Brandon, I will be the ice cream truck man and L. will work in an office. You will help me drive the truck. I am not going to get my driver's license. Ever. L. will have a driver's license, though, and a cell phone. She will text. I will not text. I will not have a cell phone.

Everyone is coming with us. You, Dad, Woohoo, Flicka, Grandma, Papa, Grammy, Aunt J., everyone. Actually, Grandma, Papa and Grammy might not be around seven years from now, so probably not them. We will live in Anaheim. We will live in Disneyland. We will live in the hotel there. When I have my kids I will have a refrigerator in the room and I will just get my boys their drinks. I will get Alexander his water. I will get Michael his Vitamin Water, and I will get... who's that one on the left? Oh yea, Brandon, I will get Brandon his Gatorade.

We will need to get a gate for our yard so Flicka and my three boys can't get out. Let's buy a gate. Don't forget to buy the gate, okay, Mom? Promise you'll remember to buy a gate?

How long will it take to drive to Anaheim? Should we fly? What if I have to take a whiz? What if I am on the airplane going to our house at Disneyland, and I need to pee? How long is the plane going to take to get there? We will need to pack all our things and just boom, go straight to the airport when L. finishes  school.

L. is going to have a job in an office when we have our kids, and I am going to be the stay-at-home dad. If those kids start crying I am going to put them in daycare. If it is the weekend and L. is there I am just going to say, 'Hey, Babe, I'm going to Dairy Queen, I will be home in three hours. I can't take the crying.'

You are going to be Mrs. California, Mom, and I am going to be the Mr. My wife, L., will wear a bridal dress. She will be a bride.

What am I going to do with a pregnant wife? Who's going to go to the hospital with her? I'm staying at the hotel. You have to stay at the hotel with me. STM can go to the hospital with L. You and I will just wait at the hotel. Yea, STM can do that. I don't want to do that.

When my three boys are older they will have cell phones and they will text. I will not have a cell phone. I will not drive, but those boys will drive and they will have cell phones like L. But I will not."

I asked him just what was he going to do since he was going to use day care for the crying kids, not drive, not text, not go to the hospital, and of course the answer is obvious, he'll be at Disneyland!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Join the Revolution

Just got back from Mass and the priest said every time we hear "Resolution" this New Year, substitute the "s" for a "v" and join the revolution - the revolution of love.

Who's in?

* Photo from

Sorry Not Sorry

I'm sorry I keep pointing you towards BrenĂ© Brown's podcast,  Unlocking Us , but I'm not that  sorry.* I've appreciated ever...