Saturday, December 29, 2012

21-er

December 31, 1991

STM and I went out to dinner on Friday to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. Such is fitting for two middle-agers, we were home by 7:00, in bed by 9:00. That is not to say that we didn't have a wonderful time. We hoisted our wine glasses, looked into each other's tired eyes and STM said, "We've hung in, hung in, and hung in, and we still love each other."

It's fair to say we love each other more than we did when we got married, certainly more than when we thought we were first in love. And it hasn't all been "hanging in," there have been a lot of laughs along the way. Nobody can make me belly laugh like that one.

I can't, and won't even try to write the book on love. Married love, above all, is so complicated. (Parental love is simple.) There is no magic formula, it must work for the two parties involved and that is all - what is good for the goose, may not be good for the gander. There are double standards, silent agreements, spoken arrangements, and times when going to the mat is the only choice left. There are times when saying nothing is a sin, and when it's the greatest kindness you can offer the other. There are situations when retreating is the thing to do, and when being a dog with a bone is the saving factor. There is no road map and no key to the kingdom. It's trial and error, it's gut-it-out, it's savor the good and overlook the bad, it's for better for worse, it's forgive and forget, it's a spiritual covenant, it's a karmic relationship, it's a sacred contract.

I don't think all sacred contracts are meant to last a lifetime - some relationships, marriages, friendships, do what they were supposed to do - take us to where they were supposed to take us, teach us what they were supposed to teach us, then they expire. I do believe that my contract with STM is multi-lifetime, and that we came together in this lifetime, for very specific purposes (not the least of which was to have Woohoo and Rojo), and we have many more ahead.

At the end of January we will return to where this picture was taken - Kauai, 21-years later. We will celebrate my 50th birthday, and the people we are today, look back at the "kids" we were then, and look forward to what we will become. Together.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thank You


I woke up with the day-after-Christmas blues, one day late. Yesterday we kept busy, STM and Woohoo went back to work (she has a 3-week gig), Rojo and I went to yogurt with Kathleen and exchanged our Christmas presents with her. Then Rojo, my mom and I went over to visit my cousin and two of her kids that are visiting from Chicago, that was fun, and kept the festive feeling alive.

Today the it's-all-over-but-I-am-not-ready-to-put-it-all-away feeling crept in. I need to go to the grocery store. And the bank. And the drug store. And get gas. I need to do a lot of things that have been put off until "after Christmas," and the list overwhelms me, so I decided the thing to do was make an eggnog latte and sit down and write thank you notes. If I've learned anything, it's that nothing chases the blues away like a big dose of gratitude.

I gave Rojo personalized notecards for Christmas, and he was game to start using them today. He even embellished them slightly, veering from his standard, "Thank you, love, Rojo." As I sat down with my stack, lighted candle, pretty music and yummy drink, a feeling of deep thankfulness swelled up and washed away the blahs. The gifts themselves are lovely, and I appreciate them, but more than that, I appreciate the givers. I appreciate the thought that went into them. I appreciate, in four cases, that unexpected people gave me unexpected gifts that were right up my alley - and with no expectation of being given a gift in return.

And isn't that what a gift is? A gift? Not half of an equation, not part of an arrangement, not an obligation, not blind obedience to tradition, just simply an act of love?


Friday, December 21, 2012

12/21/12



Years ago when I heard about the Mayan calendar ending on 12/21/12, I went into a panic that rippled for quite some time. As we got closer and closer to the year, I got more and more worked up. Then a funny thing happened, as we turned our 2012 calendars to December and the 21st was just one more day before Christmas, one more day to get stuff done in a hurry, the last day Rojo had school, a day with things to do, people to see and places to go, it lost the feeling of being a day of any significance, and became just another day.

Then I spoke to my friend Val, and we decided it should NOT be just another day, it must be a day "marked by grounding and gratitude." We both feel that 2012 does, indeed, mark the end of an era, and that is a good thing. We feel the tides are turning and the winds of change are blowing. We might be wrong, but at least we'll be optimistic, hopeful, grateful and grounded while being wrong.

Val and are getting together for a couple hours today to meditate, share, hold each other's intentions for 2013, and do whatever the Spirit moves us to do. We'll each have Our Lady of Guadalupe candles, special books, and I'm even bringing my Enlightenment Cards.

And we will pray the prayer, that I think is the perfect prayer:

Open our eyes to see beauty,
Open our ears to hear truth,
Open our mouths to speak kindness,
Open our minds to seek wisdom,
And open our hearts to love.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Light One Candle




Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.
(From gratefulness.org)

I am still too shaken up by the back-to-back shootings last week to write with any eloquence. As we approach the darkest day of the year, and with that, the turning back towards the light, let us light our candles with hope and optimism. Don't let the light go out, don't let the light go out, don't let the let go out!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe Day

Our Lady of Guadalupe day was wonderful on Wednesday, just what I need (what we all needed) after Tuesday's terrible tragedy. I was only able to attend the last half of the day because my hairdresser was only able to see me that morning, or not at all in December, and that was simply not an option. You understand. Just a little something I like to call priorities.

So, because I missed the morning, I had to do my homework ahead of time, and do what the other women were going to spend their morning doing.  I was to make a SoulCollage card, answering this question:

"What is Guadalupe asking you to bring into being, now, in this time of transformation?"

For those of you unfamiliar with SoulCollage, it's just that - you design a collage, by listening to what your soul is trying to tell you. You are really supposed to use just images, not words, but I'll be darned if what popped out from my soul was not words, words, and more words! I got the message loud and clear, what I'm called to bring into being is as "little" as possible. I think there's something big for me around the corner, but first, a time of stillness, at least inner, if not outer. See the one that says, "The O List"? I took that to mean the zero list. No list at all. Just typing that sends me into a panic. Where would I be without my lists? I hear tell of people that get themselves through a day without them! Hard to imagine!


At twelve noon we sat in a circle with our red Guadalupe candles aglow, and prayed together while listening to "She Who Hears the Cries of the World," from the CD, She Carries Me. I had to wipe my eyes several times, so emotional and beautiful to be in a sacred circle, very different women with one common prayer: peace.

I was with the sacred group for two and a half hours. The whole world may not have been transformed, but at least a part of me was.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tragedy



By now you've probably heard about the terrible tragedy in Oregon, where a gunman opened fire at the mall. That is the same exact mall where Rojo and I were just 24-hours (almost to the minute) before. The people in line to see Santa fled, Santa ducked and covered, two people died, one person was seriously injured, then the man killed himself.

I don't even know what to do with all this. I, who never watch the news, watched for three hours straight yesterday, staring in disbelief at what I knew to be true, listening to the same information over and over and over, hoping it would somehow change.

Rojo had big plans for us after school - I was to pick up Nancy on the way to get him, then the three of us would get yogurt at the Clackamas Promenade, then go to Costco because we were totally out of Tree Top fruit snacks, and that was the biggest problem in our lives at the time. Nancy and I got Rojo at 3:30 sharp, and five minutes later his whole school went into lockdown. Can you imagine Rojo in lockdown?

As we drove the short distance to the mall, we saw police car after police car, sirens blazing, but we couldn't quite tell where they were going, only that they were coming from all directions. By the time we got to yogurt we'd seen at least 20, and more were on their way. As Rojo started in on his second bowl of yogurt, a man ran into the place and said, "What's going on at the mall?" The workers there said, "There's a gunman in Macy's. 60 shots have been fired." (That number turned out to be exaggerated, but that was the number that everyone was hearing at the time.) It was surreal. Nancy, Rojo, me, the only customers, two trapped employees and some guy off the street, gathering our information and plan, suddenly thrown together by fate.

We told Rojo we would have to go to Costco another day - we wanted to get home and off the streets, we wanted to get in front of the news. Rojo protested briefly, but quickly saw that we weren't kidding. I think even he was shaken up a bit, although he argued to the contrary, continuing to blather on about minutiae, as we watched from across the street, the number of ambulances and police cars continue to increase their presence at the mall.

I know of one friend and neighbor who had just been to a movie with her elderly mother. Because her mother needed to use the bathroom before going home, they went out a different exit. Had her mother been ready to leave when the movie was over, they would have walked straight out into the food court where the shots were being fired.

Another neighbor and classmate of Rojo's was at the food court at the time, she and her friends abandoned all their things and ran out of the building. They are shaken up, but fine.

A friend of Woohoo's works at the mall. She had to hide in the building until the All Clear was called.

Terrifying.

Horrific.

Lots of stories coming out about all the good will and cooperation that was shown, too. People helping each other. Store employees getting their customers in safely and then locking the gates. The elderly being helped to find safety, one man carried a pregnant woman while her husband picked up their toddler and ran.

Today is 12/12/12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Never have we needed her more.

Mary, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death.

Amen.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Follow Up

I know you're hardly able to carry on with your Christmas preparations, what with all the nail-biter cliff-hangers I've left you with, therefore, I'll fill you in on what you've missed.

Let's start with my role as the Eucharistic Minister, shall we? Let's just say I was incredibly nervous. I'd studied, read and re-read my list of instructions, and went through the process in my head multiple (like OCD) times. I asked to do the cup because I was way too nervous to try to do the bread, and give non-bread takers a blessing. It may take me months to work up to that one. When it was over, and I polished off the rest of the wine that was in my cup (per instructions), I put it down, bowed before the Tabernacle with the other servers, and sat down with waves of relief. Then, I didn't give it another thought (other than, phew!).

Mass was almost over, we were singing the song of sending forth, and the woman sitting in front of me turns around and says, "Aren't you supposed to be up there?" I'd totally forgotten that I needed to recess with the other servers, the priest, the deacon, and all the other VIPs, such as myself. I was mortified, but able to nearly sprint up there, do a quick bow just as I heard the cantor (Rojo's DD caseworker) say, "Verse one again." I'd taken so long to get up there, they'd run out of music. Everyone was waiting for me. Like, nightmare time, when the whole crowd is watching you screw up and things move in slow motion. Truly, horrifyingly embarrassing.

I haven't quite recovered. But here's the thing. We always sit in the same spot, way in the back on the right. This time, before church, Rojo had informed us we were sitting in a different place, behind two of his faves. If we hadn't sat there, I wouldn't have had the woman sitting in front of me that told me to get up there. No accidents. Still, it's a scene I keep replaying in my head, and no amount of STM telling me nobody noticed, will erase the moment of horror.

On a brighter note, the visit to Santa was as easy and pain-free as such a thing can be. We bolted to the mall after school, got in line behind about four other families. They were all so engrossed in grooming their (small) children and selecting photo packages, they didn't pay us much attention at all. The "elf" did look at us a little strangely, but I shut her down and informed her we were "just visiting," and were not going to be purchasing a photo, let alone a whole set of them. I told Rojo he didn't have to sit on Santa's lap, he could just go up to him and talk.

Rojo had spent the whole car ride, walk through the mall and standing in line time, debating on what to ask for. I thought we'd had that settled, he'd told STM he wanted pineapple licorice. Then he changed his mind to Thera-putty, then as we were walking through the mall and I pointed out the store where we were going next for jeans, he said, "Maybe I'll just ask for jeans."

So, that is how my 16-year-old stood near Santa, pointed to his jeans and told him he'd like a new pair, only longer, as he'd grown since the last time he'd seen him. "That couldn't have gone any better," he said when we were done. A few minutes later he said, "I don't think he recognized me."

"No, he may not have," I said, "but that's because you've changed so much since last year."

But really, he has only changed on the outside, inside he's still the sweet, innocent, thoughtful, grateful, easy-to-please boy, we all know and love.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Making God Laugh

So, you know what they say about making God laugh? Tell her your plans? Yea. A little like that. Rojo's plan to e-mail Santa didn't stick. He started back up with STM to go see Home Depot Santa. STM's sense of urgency and mine aren't quite the same, and by the time he did some checking, we learned that Home Depot wasn't going to have Santa appear this year. Again I tried with the e-mail idea, and again, it didn't stick. "We will just go to the mall and see Santa when we go to Bath and Body Works to get hand sanitizer," he told me, killing both of my ideas with one stone.

And so, friends, that's how it came to be that today after school, I will be standing in line with the babies and toddlers, and there will be even more of them, because we are going even later in the season that we would have if I had known this was the way it was all going down, and had any say in the matter.

Not only are we seeing Santa, and not only are we looking/shopping for MORE hand sanitizer, we are also attempting to buy him new jeans, and get a couple things I have been putting off getting at the mall, AND eating at the food court.

Pray for me.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

12/12/12



Our friend Tom sent me the latest Mary-in-a-tree picture. We never noticed her before. We think she's making herself particularly apparent now, what with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception today (12/8), and next week's Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You don't think it's an accident that this year, that is on 12/12/12? Who here doesn't believe there is POWER on that day, like no other, for the much-needed feminine divine? Bring it, Mary!

I'm just super excited. I'll be spending the day with 11 other women. At 12 noon we'll pray together. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing that day, won't you join us at 12:00 PST? I personally feel the future of this world hangs in the balance. Let's tip that mother!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Kissing My Own Ass



Rojo has an expression, "I'm kicking my own ass!" when he's killing himself, or otherwise driving himself crazy. Kathleen and I have taken it and run, but today I decided to give it a twist, because, basically, I am kissing my own ass, so pleased with myself, I simply must share.

First, I decided this year I simply could not, as in could. not. take Rojo to see Santa. For those of you that think it's cute and sweet that he still wants to go, I beg you to stand in line at the mall with the babies and toddlers, and your 5'10" 16-year-old, and tell me it's cute. It's not cute. It's brutal. Plus, Rojo had kind of opened the door to me not taking him when he said, "Would it break your heart if you didn't take me to see Santa this year? Would it be okay if Dad and I went to the one at Home Depot?"

I knew that STM's Santa-ability was even less than my zero ability, but I decided to make that Rojo's problem. "No, it would not break my heart. Work it out with Dad."

I asked a couple more times if he and Dad had a plan worked out, and Rojo would always say, "He's thinking about it." I knew that the longer it took to get the message to Santa, the more stress I'd be under trying to find whatever weird and random thing he pulled out of his butt to ask for, so I started getting panicky.

"You know, you don't always have to ask for something, you can just say to Santa, 'Surprise me!'"

Yesterday he was digging all over for "flavored" hand sanitizer, another of his obsessions. I had a stroke of brilliance. "Rojo! Why don't you ask Santa for flavored hand sanitizer for Christmas! He can bring you all kinds! AND, you don't even have to tell him in person, you can e-mail him! He just needs to know what you want, he doesn't have to actually see you."

"Do you just e-mail him at Santa.com?" he asked.

"Yes!" I said, having no idea if that were true.

I scurried to my BFF Google shortly after and found out that yes, you can e-mail ol' St. Nick.

Rojo's happy. Care is happy. STM is happy. Santa's happy. His clean, well-sanitized hands will be happy!

Then, the second big awesome accomplishment of mine, right on the heels of this one, was the Christmas card. Let's just say there were some bumps along the way, and in a frenzy I ordered a bunch without really counting how many I truly needed. When I printed out the labels I realized I'd ordered quite a few too many, and they weren't cheap (but I am). Here's the part where I get awesome: I made a list of people that weren't on the list, but should be. That was fun! They were, for the most part, people that are angels in Rojo's life, who aren't necessarily friends of the whole family, but they are his friends, therefore, ours. You know what I mean.

Ho, ho, ho!


* Photo from www.antiochchamber.org


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Contagious Personality


Rojo came home from school today with this list. Apparently his health class did some activity, where all the kids passed paper around, and the rest of the class wrote down what they liked about everyone. I'm having a bit of a hard time piecing it all together, as Rojo said, "I have no idea," when I asked him what the list was about. It was only after asking him if he wrote down things on other people's lists, that I got a few more details.

I love the list. I agree with the list. My favorite on the list, I think, is "contagious personality." I would have to agree that he's contagious.

His dear friend since kindergarten is in this class. It's the only mainstream class Rojo has (and he has a 1:1 student assistant). I love that Rojo and his buddy are together one period a day. I love that they try to crack each other up in there to make the day more fun for each other. I love that the friend wrote, "best buds 4ever."

Really.

Not enough can be made of that.

Contagious. What can I say?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Answering the Call


I recently went through a training to become a Eucharistic Minister - one that serves communion. It's something I've wanted to do for a long, long time. The winter schedule came out, and guess what? I am scheduled to serve communion for the very first time, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8th. That is the day that celebrates Mary's (as opposed to Jesus') immaculate conception, a woman free from "sin." Whether or not you buy all that, you've got to agree that Mary was someone that said, "YES!" to her calling, her purpose, her soul's journey.

Maybe it's the fact that I am nearly 50, but I have been spending a lot of time lately, thinking about just that. Am I saying, "yes," to my life? To what I'm called to do? My reason for being here? I know a woman that has had one impressive, and diverse, profession/calling after another, and she already knows what her next one will be. It, too, is exciting, and I couldn't agree more that she'd be perfect for it. Me? Not so much. When I was a teacher, I was a good one, but no part of me wants to do that again.  When I'm honest with myself, I've never really aspired to be "more" than a wife and a mother. Staying home and taking care of my family and home, has been my dream, and my reality. You don't get much more blessed than when that's the case.

I take comfort in the fact that Mary was not flashy in her time, she did one big thing in a quiet way - she mothered. She took care of a special boy so that he could do what he was called to do.


*Photo from stlouisreview.com



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Blunders and Absurdities

From Gratefulness.org

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 29, 2012

No Scarcity of Happiness

Rojo had a great day today. First of all, a friend of his needed a ride to school, and he needed it early. The earlier the better in Rojo's book, so he threw open the door at 6:40 AM and eagerly greeted his guest. He gobbled down his breakfast, happy to have a new audience member. (5 pieces of bacon, two pieces of toast with both garlic salt AND cinnamon sugar, a few rainbow-colored Goldfish, and a couple pineapple-flavored licorice. Just like at your house, right?)

By 6:50 we were out the door and headed to a Peer Mentor meeting, in which Rojo informed me he was "hosting," thus the need to be there at 7:00, and not at 7:15 when the meeting was technically scheduled to start.

On the way, in the car, he tells his friend, "This is such a great day, you need a ride, I am hosting Peer Mentors, we are going to play Christmas charades, and there is pizza for lunch! Ahhh... the happiness of the day never ends!"

As if that weren't enough, Nancy and I picked him up from school, took him for yogurt, AND to Costco so he could shop. I'm not even a member of Costco, but Rojo has developed "needs," so we drag poor Nancy there, too, in addition to all the other places we drag her. He told Nancy, "When I get to Costco we are going to look for pineapple-flavored licorice. Kate (at his usual yogurt shop) gave me some to take home yesterday, but I want to buy a big bag. We will find them at Costco."

Nancy told Rojo in all her many trips to Costco, she's only seen flavored--licorice once, and it was a special event, with its own portable display, etc. Rojo assured her there would be no problem. Entering Costo he instructed her to head for the candy section, despite her warnings that they didn't have it there, and if they'd have it at all, they'd have to go to a different part of the store. Not discouraged, he walked her straight to what? Oh, yea, pineapple-flavored licorice.

We are two 1.5 lb. bags of pineapple-flavored licorice richer.

The happiness of the day never ends.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Proofed



Okay, so I gave my proof to a friend that I didn't even know (but should have guessed) was a good proof reader, I actually gave her the book for a whole different reason (to pre-read it before it launches, so when we have our big party, she can bail me out when I get all tongue-tied talking about it, if you must know). But, alas, she is not only a GOOD proof reader, she is, the best. She found things in the manuscript that the umpteen people before her have failed to find. "Little" words totally omitted (to, of, etc.) Words that had an "s" but didn't need one, words that didn't have an "s" at the end, and did need one. Misplaced quotation marks, commas where periods should be, spacing errors, wrong word choices, a "who" that should have been a "whom," and vice-versa. 70% of the dog-eared pages are because there was some weird inconsistency with the quotation marks, as in, the actual mark. It shows up looking two different ways, with no rhyme nor reason. We think it's because of cutting and pasting, and I was using a Mac, and my editor was using a PC, and the two got their wires crossed.

Anyway. I have spent the better part of two days making each and every correction, LORD, HEAR MY PRAYER! If not, so be it. It's as good as I can get it. If you read it and find something wrong, I beg you, do not tell me. Do not even insinuate!

I am finally able to find some humor in all of it, and to see that this was not a waste of time, or exercise in futility. I learned a lot about myself, things I wanted and needed to know, and things I didn't want to know. Last night I was watching one of Oprah's "Super Soul Sunday" shows I'd recorded, it had Jean Houston on it, and she was talking about "The Wizard of Oz," and how we all have our tornadoes, things that pick us up, twist us around, and we have to go crawling back to where we think we want to go, which we had within us all the time. ("You're always wearing your ruby slippers.") I would say this book-writing process has been a tornado for me. One could easily say I ended up right where I began, and that would be true, but the journey has been life-changing.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Waiting

Where to start? Let's start with the fact that Mercury goes direct today, and this particular turn in retrograde kicked my *&% like none other. Small things, like two different people trying to text me, and instead, texting STM. Weirdly, neither had his number in their contacts, and obviously were not intending to text him. So why did he get them? Then how about me trying to print address labels for Christmas cards, and the printer printing only the top half of each page? EACH page! But the biggest show of Mercury's strength came in the form of my printed proof of my book. A small disaster, to say the least. One million (slight exaggeration, really more like a thousand) typos, omissions and just outright errors. The book has been proofed, edited, proofed, edited, proofed, edited, over and over and over again. I almost didn't even proof it this "last" time, but "fortunately," did.

I honestly don't know what the Universe is trying to tell me about the book, but one thing seems to be clear: slow down. I was all about getting it out in 2012. I was all about getting it out before I turn 50. I was, let's just be honest here, ALL ABOUT GETTING IT OUT. PERIOD. I feel like I've been pregnant with this "baby" for years and years and am so sick of waddling around with it, I just want it OUT.

Apparently, its gestational time is not yet up.

And I'm forced to ask myself the bigger question, is this a brick to the head? Is it simply, not meant to be "out?" As my cousin pointed out, it was important to write, but maybe it's not important to publish. I puff up my ego thinking the book will be of benefit to others, but really? And at what cost?

And so I sit with the question while I go ahead and tediously correct the errors in the Word doc., before deciding if I really want to upload it one more time and have it out. Maybe, being pregnant was and is the point. Maybe, birth is not.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Blog About It

Rojo's fetish for "flavored" hand soap continues. After church yesterday we bee lined for Bi-Mart to carefully peruse and make our selections. Technically, we were there shopping for the St. Vincent de Paul drive coming up, where they are asking for toiletries. As I picked out toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, etc., Rojo weighed his hand soap options very carefully.

Finally, after about 20 minutes of this, I asked if he needed help. He wanted me to unscrew the lids off a few so he could "taste." I grabbed one, obliging, "Oh, my God," he exclaimed, "that smells like a toilet!" Then he laughed at his own joke so hard he nearly wet his pants.

All the way home in the car he repeated his joke, "Care! That soap smelled like a TOILET!!!" sending himself into gales of laughter again and again. Shortly after that we picked Kathleen up to go to yogurt. Right away he told her his "toilet joke." "Care, you gotta blog about that, promise me you'll blog about it, don't forget to blog about the soap smelling like a toilet!

This morning, up at 5:45, he was after me immediately. "Care, did you blog about the soap smelling like a toilet, yet? You gotta blog about the soap smelling like a toilet! You gotta tell Kathleen and Nancy they need to get blogs, and they both need to blog about the soap smelling like a toilet."

Because he is standing over my shoulder now and won't get dressed for school until I blog about the soap smelling like a toilet, I am.

Not a mark on him!

Monday, November 12, 2012

I See How This is Going to Go Down



As everyone knows that reads my blog (thank you!), my dad has spent the last 16 years taking things from our home and putting them back later (sometimes after many months). As a child he'd have me go in search of something, and inevitably, I'd come up short. "Carrie, you're not bad looking, but you're a bad looker," he'd say. I'm convinced that his teasing from the other side is to remind me that he's there, and that I'm still a bad looker - what I need is right in front of me, I just can't see it.

STM's dad could fix anything, anything at all, but we were forever taking broken lamps to him, and other electrical things. Since he died we've had a slew of things break or go out: the doorbell, six light bulbs (6!) and three smoke alarm batteries (3!). You can't tell me that's an accident. He's on the other side now, too, but right there. Apparently we need frequent reminders.

Today, as I replaced the batteries and bulbs, I was able to offer up a prayer of gratitude that our loved ones never leave us, they just transform.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Best Medicine

Not a lot to laugh about over here lately, although, my mother-in-law and I were able to have a few giggles sitting in the hospital day after day, reminiscing. There's nothing like the death of a loved one to help you pull your head out of your *&% and have crystal clear (however temporary) insight into what really matters, and what, simply, doesn't.

I got my Christmas present early this year, and it was a biggie. I've had an varicose vein that I wanted removed, but it was "asymptomatic." I guess the psychological distress it caused me was not a "symptom." Anyway, because it wasn't causing horrible pain, we got to pay out-of-pocket, I told STM it could be my Christmas present, 50th birthday present, on and on and on. Just get that thing off my leg. Finally, on Wednesday, I got this sucker fished out. You don't even want to know more than that. Trust me.


By the way - see the cute pajama bottoms on my "good leg?" Those came to me from my friend, Amy, all wrapped in a Victoria's Secret box, complete with darling top, shortly after my blog post depicting the state of my sleepwear. Note to self: picture more things on blog, in a state of disrepair.

The day after my minimally invasive surgery, I had lunch with my friend liz, and her daughter, Andrea, aka, A Farmer in the Dell. Super fun with lots of laughs (and of course, yummy food.) Then, for dinner, I went out with three friends I met over 20 years ago. We used to all teach together, before I had Woohoo. We've been doing birthdays, Christmas and just-because dinners ever since. This time the occasion was Marti's recent marriage. For years we've been pushing Marti to marry her long-time boyfriend, whom we all adore (and so does she). Not sure if it was because we threatened offered to be bridesmaids, or what, but Marti up and got married by a justice of the peace without so much as how do you do.

Naturally, we took the proper actions. She had denied us the opportunity to be bridesmaids, but she wasn't going to deny us the opportunity to dress up and have some laughs.





A special thanks to my sister-in-law for providing three of the perfect dresses for the occasion. A special thanks to everyone that makes me laugh. A special thanks to all my good friends.

Love.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Love Story


I don't know about you, but it's a good thing this election is today, because I don't think I could survive one more day. So much hate. So much negativity. So much division. Please vote your heart today, then let us join hands and move forward.

Let me tell you a little love story. This is what 60 years of a happy marriage looks like. These two went on their very first date in 1950. A Halloween party. A blind date, I believe. A year-and-a-half later they married. The day they brought their first child home from the hospital, Don lost his job. The day they moved into their brand new home that they had just built, with their now three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son, Don lost his replacement job. The only two times he was ever unemployed, couldn't have come at a better time, in his mind. Time opened up for him to be with his new family. Time to paint the house and help Doreen get it all situated. Time to be useful and helpful and all-hands-on-deck for his family. Money was tight, but his family was tighter. Family always came first.

The next several decades brought all kinds of changes to the world, but very few to them. Simple was the name of the game. The never did "get all carried away." Each Sunday Don would read the obituaries, and scroll through the long list of accomplishments. "I don't understand how they had any time left for the family doing all those things." He was not impressed. He never felt less than. He always felt grateful that his family was happy and healthy and had what they needed: love.

Last Monday Don lay in bed with Hospice care. Doreen came to sit beside him and tell him the story of their lives together. She started with their first date, 62 years ago to the day, and worked her way through the highlights since. Moments later he died.

I've never known a more successful man.

I don't believe I ever will.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Keeping it in Perspective

So, our friend, liz, and I were taking Rojo to yogurt Monday after school. liz says to Rojo, "Rojo, isn't it exciting that your mom wrote a book about you and it's coming out soon?"

Rojo says, "Well, I have news, too! Wednesday is a Thursday schedule, and Thursday is a Wednesday schedule."

Hard to beat that!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Papa


Donald Edward Link
11/19/25 - 10/29/12

Heaven has a new angel, and his name is Papa. We lost STM's dad yesterday after a wild 18-day ride through ER, the hospital, rehab, ICU, and finally Hospice. Throughout the ordeal there has been more blessings than battles, more tenderness than toughness, and more love than loss.

The above picture was taken the day after Rojo was born - the three Link men. They had much in common, stubbornness being right at the top of the list. STM and I were joking about that several days ago, and he said, "The only other person on par with Papa for stubbornness, is Rojo." 

I asked, "What about YOU?" 

"They are 6A and I'm only 4A. True, I'm All-State 4A, but they are in a whole different league."

Papa's stubbornness got him through a horrible childhood - and instead of turning angry and having a victim mentality, he decided he'd be a whole different type of father and husband. And he was.

He lived on his terms and he died on his terms, full of gratitude, humor and thoughtfulness to the very end. Lying in ER after being put through the wringer, we asked how he was doing. "Doing OK, some people have it a lot worse." That was so Papa.

Once he was in the hospital on "the floor," he was in such pain, but always aware of and thinking about his wife of 60 years. "Can I get you anything, Dode?" he asked in his semi-conscious state. 

She joked back, "Yea, you can hop up and hang up my raincoat!" 

"If you're OK, I think I'll just rest," he said, before drifting out of consciousness.

One of the last "conversations" STM had with him, Papa said, "Now don't get all carried away."

"What do you mean?" STM asked.

"You know what I mean," he said.

Papa was practical. Papa was frugal. Papa was kind, loving, funny, and could fix anything, but he couldn't fix his worn out body, one more time.

We know what you mean, Papa. We won't get all carried away. But we will hold you in our hearts forever.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Light 'em Up



Please light the Marys and hold our family in prayer. We have a loved one in the hospital and need your good ju-ju for one and all.

Thank you!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Ex Factor

Bear with me, I am typing this on Roho's iPad, and I am a far cry from proficient with the "keyboard." Just had to share with you that last night STM and I went to an Estate Planning/Special Needs Trust info. thingy. A law firm and bank were presenting, and it was very informative, very comprehensive, and very overwhelming, despite the fact I knew a lot of the information already. We thought for sure we'd pursue guardianship, and that there would be no end to doctors, tests, case managers, etc. that would support the fact that Rojo will be "incompetent" as an adult when it comes to making his own health care and financial decisions (not to mention that he can't brush his own teeth or tie his shoes). Last night we got sold on the idea of having Rojo sign over a number of Powers of Attorney to us, upon turning 18. Apparently, that requires a whole lot less hoopla and expense, both initially, and forever more.

Rojo would need to be able to sign his name and agree that yes, we as his parents could help him as an adult. The attorney and notary present would have to decide that he was not under duress to agree. A "yea" would suffice, and a "signature" could be his all-printt, all-cap, giant handwriting that would never in a million years fit upon a signature line. We thought we had that one in the bag. When we got home from the meeting STM in a very round-about way asked Rojo if we could help him when he turns 18. Thinking for sure he would say yes, he surprised us by saying, emphatically, "No! You can't help me! I don't need any help! I will be married! My wife, my ex-wife and my kids will help me!

Where do I begin? With the ex-wife? With his adamant intention to have children? With his idea that his kids will help him, not the other way around? STM assures me that when the time comes, we can get him to jump through the hoops. I am not so sure.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Grateful

I've been 100% obsessed with the book, the book, the BOOK! I know how annoying it can get when authors go on and on about their books, so I am trying to spare you from all that. But let it be known, I have very little else to talk about. "We" and by "we" I mean Greg Koorhan, Toeless' husband, fixed the dpi problem, and whoever guessed that meant dots per inch, was right. It's just a really good thing I didn't know all that was involved before I started out, or I probably never would have done this thing. Now I'm too far gone to turn back. Of course there are already a million things I wish I'd done differently, and I'm sure there are books galore out there that tell you how to do this, none of which, of course, I bothered to read.

Anyway. We weren't going to talk about the book, but see? I can hardly help myself!

What I was going to tell you was about my friend calling, and us getting caught up after way too many months of being out-of-touch. We were best friends in high school, roommates in college and after, at the births of each other's children. All of that. I have known her and her family for 35 years. Turns out her mom has advanced Alzheimer's disease. Her mom still knows her husband and children but has them displaced in time. She doesn't think her home is her home, she thinks she's a guest. At one point her daughter found a note taped to the bathroom mirror, "Thank you for letting me stay here. Please let me know how much I owe you."

What has struck my friend and her siblings (7!) is that throughout this whole ordeal, their mother has never lost her sense of gratitude. She knows she has Alzheimer's. She knows where this is going - her father had it. She also knows that no matter what, there is much to be grateful for.




Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Head is Swimming

We are getting close to the big reveal of the book! Thank God for Laurie Harper, who has held my hand throughout this entire journey. Were it not for her, I would have bailed on this a long time ago. If you're a writer that needs help, really, on anything whatsoever, I would highly recommend you consult with Laurie. She is invaluable!

Turns out I need one company to do the e-book, and another to do the print version. Now I've got e-mails back and forth to both places and I don't know if I'm coming or going. So, obviously, the thing to do is fold laundry, type a blog post, have a snack, brush the dog, and in all ways avoid making important decisions. For instance, what do I want the cover to look like? How am I going to make the photo "pop?" What about the font? How many colors do I want? Do I want the title in a different color from the subtitle? My photo only has 200 dpi and it needs 300 dpi. HOW and WHERE do I get 100 extra dpi? And, more importantly, WHAT is a dpi? Now we can't have that quote on the front, but if we take it off it screws up all the ones in the back. But do we have to resubmit the whole thing? Can't we just tweak one little page?

Kathleen says it's like planning a wedding, a million details to anguish over, and in the end nobody is going to notice or care, they are just going to see two happy people getting married and have a nice time.

May this book live happily every after, too.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

There is Frugal...


and then there is CHEAP! Check out the armpits of my favorite "pajama" top. Got the T-shirt at Old Navy two million years ago (obviously). Probably paid $5.00 for it. CANNOT throw it away. WHAT is wrong with me. Never mind. Don't answer that.

Instead, look at Flicka's new friend, Layla:


Could she BE any cuter? She is Nancy's "granddaughter." We got to puppy sit part of yesterday (Rojo and I) when Layla's family all went down for the Duck game. See that afghan Flicka is lying on? Underneath are two pieces of an old foam pad we used to use for camping. (See? CHEAP! Why buy a dog bed when you have an ancient foam pad just sitting in the basement getting dusty?) I was at the kitchen sink and thought Layla was just lying there chewing on her toy, but she had gotten up and was trying to chew up Flicka's "bed." Flicka came and got me. Either she was pissed, or she was worried that Layla might ingest 100-year-old foam. I'm not sure which, but good ol' Flicka saved the day.

STM was gone this weekend, so Rojo and I were on our own. We had a lot of fun. Today we went to Walgreens to buy two of his friends birthday gifts. He labored over the cards, finally selecting two perfect ones (the Simpsons and Snoopy). For Rosie he picked shampoo (and not just Sauve, he isn't CHEAP like his mom), two bottles of nail polish and gum. For the male friend he picked out mints, and because the card he selected was a money holder one, we argued over how much money to put in there. He wanted $100 because, "Care, he's a good friend." We settled on 1/10 of that.

Came home and quickly wrote out the card for Rosie because we were picking her up in 10 minutes to have her help Rojo pick out a Halloween costume. She helped us last year, so now it's tradition. If there's one thing we do well around here, it's carve things in stone.

Inside the card he wrote, "I love you like a super star." I love Rosie like a super star, too. Because she is.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Keepin' it Clean

We have a pre-occupation with scents going on over here. It started with shampoo. Every time we'd go to any store that sold shampoo (ANY store), we'd have to take the lids off each and every one of the "flavored" ones and give them a good long sniff. We'd stand in the aisles of Safeway, Bi-Mart, Target, Walgreens, you-name-it, and just smell, smell, smell. Having trouble deciding on just one "flavor" we'd often end up with two or three. Our shower is fully occupied by all the various shampoos in all their stages of use.

Now he's added liquid soap to the drill. We have cucumber in the bathroom, vanilla upstairs and shea butter in the kitchen. He's got me making soap runs after school so he can buy them for gifts. "Care, Grandma really, really needs some soap." Apparently, Grandma did. She sent him a thank you note in the mail a couple days after I dropped it off, so touched was she that he would think of her in such a sweet way, and remember that her favorite fragrance was lavender. He bought one for his other grandmother, too, as well as both his primary teachers.

On Sunday we dragged Nancy on our hamburgers/frozen yogurt/soap shopping run. "It's like the shampoo," she said, having been dragged on more than one shampoo sniffing expedition, as well. We also picked out treats for his teachers, Hot Tamales for one (because she loves cinnamon) and gum for the other, because he swears she loves gum.

Got home and were getting everything in his backpack to take to school the next day, and the Hot Tamales had gone all Don Wilson on us (for those of you that are unfamiliar with that phenomenon, it's when things simply vanish from our house, usually showing up in an obvious place, way, way later). We looked in the car. We looked in the take-your-own-reusable-save-the-earth-bag. We looked in my purse. That box was goners.

Rojo obsessed over the candy for the rest of the evening to the point where I finally said, "Get your shoes on, let's go get her a new box." I suggested we go to a closer, easier, more convenient store than the one where we'd originally gone, but that was not flying. I think he thought the Hot Tamales might still be sitting at the self-check, all those hours later, just waiting for us. Frankly, I'm kind of surprised they weren't.

Off we went back to the store. Grabbed a new box of Hot Tamales and were heading to the self-check again when he said, "Let's just go look at the soap really fast." While he was sniffing and debating whether or not we also needed raspberry in the mix, I texted Nancy. "Guess where I am and what I'm doing," I wrote, "smelling soap."

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oh, Were it All That Simple

So Rojo has a retreat today at school - gone all day. One of those challenge courses, "Dress in layers, and wear closed-toed shoes," the directions say. Yesterday it was almost 80 degrees, today it's in the low 60's. I convince him to wear jeans. I convince him to wear a long-sleeved T-shirt. I convince him to wear a zip-up hoody. I cannot convince him to also wear his jacket on top, and then shove it in his backpack should he get too warm later in the day.

No. Way.

We step outside to get into the car. It's freezing outside. I try one last time, "Rojo, you're going to be cold in just a T-shirt and sweatshirt, take the coat, don't wear it if you don't want to, just take the coat," I plead.

"Care! Stop worrying about me! I am sixteen years old! I'm not a kid!"


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Planning Ahead

STM has been taking Rojo to the "truck store" for lo, these many years (like 14). That's what Rojo named Home Depot due to the fork lifts and other assorted trucks that are in and around the place. Typically, they go on a Saturday or Sunday morning, count the trucks, buy a bunch of candy at the checkout stand and come home. Each year Rojo makes it a little more complicated, now he'll pick a random one, nowhere near where we live, and make STM take him there. They've been to Sherwood, Beaverton, Mall 205, you-name-it.

Last weekend when they were there, STM asked Rojo, "Would you like to work at Home Depot when you finish high school?"

"No," he said.

"Think about it, and I'm going to ask you to tell me more about that later," STM said.

The next day STM asked again, "Have you thought more about working at Home Depot when you are done with school? Maybe you could greet people? Maybe you could help put things on the shelves?"

"No, I cannot work at Home Depot because when I'm 25 I'll have my kids, and someone will need to stay with them. If I am working at Home Depot, nobody will be home with my kids."

Hadn't thought of that.

"So, what about your idea of working in a preschool? How would that work? Who would be with your kids when you were at that job?" STM asked.

"They would BE in the preschool!" he said.

Obviously.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Generosity


It's interesting to note that when doing a Google image search for this Corita Kent print, I found it from own blog, long ago.  I was hoping to get a better image without the glass and glare, but go ahead and say it with me... there are no accidents! I was the source of what I was looking for!

Yesterday Rojo and I met with his new-ish Developmental Pediatrician. It was only our second appointment with her, and the first one was four months ago. He was all out of sort at that appointment, and she really didn't see the true Rojo. This time, she did. She was asking him about his summer, how school is going, etc.

"I worked in a preschool," he said. Then he went into a long description of how you get to the preschool from our house, by bike.

"Did you get paid or were you a volunteer?" she asked him.

"I got paid $5.00 a day," he said.

"What did you do with your money?" she asked.

"SPENT it!" he said with emphasis and drama.

"No, you didn't," I corrected, "tell her what you really did with your money," I said.

"I gave it away," he said. "You know how there is church at 5:30 on Saturdays? You know how there are lots of homeless people? They are really homeless. I gave my money to them."

The doctor teared up and looked to me to validate the story.

"Yes," I said, "he gave almost all the money he made this summer, away."

"Those people are really homeless and poor," he said again, "so I gave it to them."

"I wish I could clone you," the doctor said with love in her eyes.

I looked up and saw that since the last time we were there, she had hung up some art (she had just moved in the first time we were there). She had up the exact same art we have at home. The Corita that I got when I graduated from college in education. Long before I knew just how "special" the children in my life would be.

"I have that same exact Corita at home, framed exactly the same way. I've had it for almost 30 years," I told her.

"Mine is about that old, too," she said. "My parents had it in our house when I was growing up, when I became a pediatrician, they gave it to me."

Each child is special. Give lots of love.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Deserving

I had lunch this week with two friends I've known for 31 years. I am still shaking my head and marveling that we've gone from talking about boyfriends, to husbands, children, and aging parents, and right around the corner: grandchildren and retirement.

We were reminiscing, talking about life in the past and life now. One of them has a seven-year-old from a second marriage, he's a great student, easy, happy kid and she is grateful. "You deserve it," I told her.

"No. I don't deserve it," she quickly corrected me. "Nobody deserves anything. You don't deserve the good things that happen to you, and you don't deserve the bad. They are all just part of the story."

Have you ever heard anything so wise?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are you anywhere near as excited as I am for the "Gray's Anatomy" season premiere tomorrow? Were you also three, count 'em, THREE seasons behind until you got your priorities straight and all but pulled all-nighters with Netflix to get caught up? Are you, too, feeling like 2012 hasn't totally been in vain due to this significant accomplishment?

Well, if that doesn't impress you - how about this: I haven't had coffee in two days. I'm drinking TEA, and we all know how I feel about tea. I'll spare you the details and just say that it was quite obvious that coffee wasn't my friend. I'm hoping we can reconcile down the road, but for now at least, it's me, my tea, and "Gray's Anatomy!"


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Let us Remember



I get Rojo into bed, pull up the tangled sheet from the foot of the bed, re-arrange the comforter on top of his long body, go to shut the shades and he starts praying out loud, "In God's name we serve each other with kindness, justice and forgiveness. Amen. Now go write that one down before you forget it."

Done.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Amen

So, I thought the background I picked last week was artsy, but one of my most artsy friends said it was "nightmarish," so it's gone. Not trying to scare anyone, here! Someday I am actually going to figure out how to put photographs in the header that aren't super gigantic, but that day is not today (or the last several days I've tried it).

We had Woohoo home from college for the weekend (actually, it was Saturday afternoon until Monday morning). We all sat down to family dinner on Sunday (lest you be impressed, please know we have not sat down to dinner since she left a month ago), and we were all exhausted from a full weekend of Rojo. He was just extra everything this weekend, for all kinds of reasons I'm guessing, and having Woohoo home was "weird," he said.

So, picture us all crawling to the table, already on our last legs, then us turning to Rojo to say the prayer and him saying:

Lord,
May our souls be forgiven,
Our hearts be open,
and attached to each other.
Amen.


Amen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In My Path


Look at these four little beauties that literally, were right in front of me today when I went on a long walk. Couldn't help but see them. They were right there all along. Just like love.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Answering My Bell


When I decided that I was ready to wrap it up as the leader and host of the support group I'd been running for a number of years (6? 7? I lost count), the other women in the group banned together and presented me with a lovely gift. They gave me a trip to the beach and a gift certificate to a local spa. I was told I could take my whole family, a group of friends, just one friend, or go alone - whatever I wanted.

I, being me, chose to go all alone. I know some people think that's crazy or weird, in fact, I only know of one other person that also likes to take time away to be alone. I just do. In fact, I can't get enough of it. When I'm alone I don't have to answer the bell. For anyone. It is the only time I can be entirely selfish, sleep when I want, do what I want, eat what and when I want, talk when I want, be silent when I want, watch what I want, read what I want. Just what I want.

So, here I am, taking them up on their offer and enjoying the Oregon Coast. It's hot in Portland this week, so that means it's foggy and cool here - a 30 degree difference. I love it. I went on a walk after I arrived and had settle in. Sorry, my phone takes terrible pictures, but you get the idea. See all the other people walking on the beach, too? Exactly.

And look what I found just as I was heading back up the trail to the house. Just needs a period after it.





Come join me over at Hopeful Parents! Thanks!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Gold Star

We had a great weekend - Friday we went to Rojo's high school's first home football game. We wore our "spirit wear," he conducted the band, he followed the mascot around and best of all, he took off a couple of times to go hang out with friends.

Saturday morning I took Flicka over to my mom's early in the morning so we could drive down to Eugene to watch the U of O game. She said, "Sonam and Kunga are going to the game, too, look for them!" I didn't want to tell Rojo we might see them because I was afraid it would be too difficult and knowing we would arrive late in the first quarter and leave in the fourth, I didn't want to get his hopes up (and hear about it non-stop for the two-hour drive).

STM rode his bike from Portland to Turner (past Salem, like a four-hour bike ride), and Rojo and I drove down and got him on the way. Right before we made it to Turner Rojo says, "I'm going to text Sonam and tell her to call me at 12:30." Granted, driving to Eugene would make him think of her, but I had said nothing. He didn't hear back from her and I wasn't sure just what he wanted to talk to her about when/if she did call.

We got to Eugene, parked a long ways, hopped on our bikes that STM had all loaded up on the back of the car, and rode to the game. There's a foot bridge from the campus to the stadium, there were some other stragglers like us, arriving late at the game. All of a sudden, THERE were Sonam and Kunga, on the bridge!

Sonam was holding her phone in her hand, and was just checking it to see what time it was and if she should be calling Rojo right about then (it was nearly 12:30). Come on. WHAT are the chances of that? About 100% when your name is Rojo. We walked a ways with them, visiting, hugging, and telling them we'd hook up in the stadium at some point. Then we hopped back on our bikes and rode the rest of the way.

Got to the stadium and it appeared that people were sitting in our seats, so we went over to the student section and sat down in some empty seats. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a woman stand up to take a picture with her iPhone. "Is that Sonam?" I asked STM. Sure enough, there she was, about two rows down from us. I'm telling you, there were over 50,000 people in that stadium. HOW could we not be able to sit where we were "supposed to" only to sit RIGHT by Sonam? Long story short, she was with another family and so three of them were in their season-ticket-holding-seats, and she and a friend were "students."

Turns out no one was sitting in our seats and eventually a marshall pointed that out to us and had us move, as I guess he wasn't buying we were students.

So, today Rojo had me taking him all over tarnation, meeting his every request. We did yogurt with liz in Lake Oswego. We were at Trader Joe's and Safeway before most people were out of bed. We were at New Seasons. We invited Nancy over for Beer O'Clock which was really water o'clock. Basically, he said, "Jump!" and I asked, "How high?" all day long. Something new and different.

Cleaning up after dinner I spotted the chocolate bars he has me buy so he can give them away - you know the ones, the little three-packs that they sell at Trader Joe's? The ones that are just the right size? I pulled out two and asked, "Do you want to take these to your teachers tomorrow?"

"Care! You read my mind. You are thinking what I'm thinking. You have been doing that all day. You just know what I'm thinking and boom, you say it. You deserve a gold star."

Going to the drawer he pulls out a Post-It. "Gold," he writes on it, handing it to me, "You make a star," he says. I do. He puts the Post-It on the calendar on the fridge right over this weekend and says, "This was a gold star weekend."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Buddies


Rojo doesn't want to go to frozen yogurt with just me anymore. Passe. He wants to go with me and a buddy. He has many, but the ones his age are often busy when he wants to go - especially now that school has resumed. Fortunately, many of his buddies are also my buddies, and they are kind enough to go (not that they really have a choice, what with his twenty million texts/e-mails/Face Time requests).

We picked up Kathleen after school on Tuesday and took her to yogurt, and on Wednesday the plan was to take Nancy. Over the summer Rojo had me driving to hell and gone with Nancy for frozen yogurt, and then we tied it in with a trip to Target. One thing turned into another, and the next thing I knew he and Nancy were a pair with one list and cart, and I was on my own, shopping at Target (bliss).

So, Wednesday came and Nancy rode with me to get Rojo from high school, we went to the yogurt place next to Target, and then did our mutual shopping. Rojo had his very specific list: Pop Tarts, granola bars and Capri Sun, three things he considered "musts" for an early morning meeting he has next week, one in which he has already volunteered to bring the snacks. He's like me (times 10), doesn't like to have things on the To Do list too long, likes to get them on the list and OFF!

We had a pre-arranged time and place to meet (23 minutes later), and I got to the spot and they weren't there. Just then a text came through, "Care, we need five more minutes, please." I decided to go see what they had in clothing to kill time, found a Carrie Link dress and threw it in the cart. The extra five minutes cost me an extra $29.99, but watching Rojo and Nancy come around the corner and put their things on the conveyer belt without me, then walk out of the store together with is hand upon her shoulder? Priceless.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Music to my Ears

So, here's a little snippet that should bring hope to all of you raising kids that like to KNOW when things are going to happen, that like to have them happen the SAME way each and every time. Am I talking to you?

We left the house early today (couldn't be because I was dying to get him there or anything) and he noticed while driving, that we'd probably arrive 5-10 minutes earlier than usual.

"I'm not sure my classroom will be open yet, but that's okay, I can hang out in the hall or something. I'll just wing it."

And apparently he did just that. I never heard another word from him until I picked him up at our appointed time - at which point he kept me waiting 8 minutes.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Three Journeys

I was just curious how many posts I'd written between this blog and my old one, "Fully Caffeinated." Turns out I've written 1,661, over six-and-a-half years. When I feel like I don't have much to say, that must be why - I've said it all. Maybe I'll just start posting pieces that say, "Ditto."

That being said, there are always little things that come up that I think, "I gotta put that on the blog." I am not the TV watcher in the family, and if I lived all alone I don't think I'd even have one (but I'd have Netflix on my laptop). Nonetheless, Oprah has this amazing show, "Super Soul Sunday," and I never miss it. Each week she has someone on that says something I ruminate on the rest of the week. She's had Jill Bolte Taylor, Marianne Williamson, Michael Singer, and Reverend Ed Bacon, to name a few.

The most recent one I watched (I'm using my DVR to catch up), was Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, a Sufi mystic. Never knew a lot about Sufism, just knew I loved me some Rumi. Vaughan-Lee said in his interview, there are three journeys: the journey from God, the journey to God, and the journey in God. He didn't say this, but I have decided that the journey in God must equal heaven - being one with God.

Just me, or could you spend all day pondering that?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

This is the Day that the Lord Hath Made, Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad!

A friend just e-mailed me with that refrain from a favorite church song of Rojo's. And it's true, the Lord did make today, and it's every bit as true, if not truer, that I am GLAD!

Rojo is at school! He was super janked this morning and had me out the door WAY before time to go. We took the long way, we dropped something off, and still we were there way too early.

For the last few days Rojo has been telling me he hopes a boy we'll call K., will be one of his assistants this year. We kind of know K., his younger brother was in Rojo's class for a few years, and K. lives in the neighborhood, I am acquainted with his mom. We know enough of K. to know he's wonderful, let's just say that.

Anyhoo. Rojo got it in his head that life would not go on without K. as a helper, and so he somehow got K.'s cell number and began texting him multiple times to see what could be arranged. Today when I dropped Rojo off way too early, THERE was K., already there, standing outside ready to walk up to the car, help Rojo unload all his stuff, and escort him to his classroom, whereby I imagine he helped unpack all the stuff and make some sort of sense of things.

I teared up seeing K. there early, ready to help, answering the bell. More than that, I was reminded for the one trillionth time, that Rojo will be okay. It is not all up to me. He can advocate for himself. He can make stuff happen. He knows when he needs help and he's good about figuring out the perfect person to "offer" that help. HE WILL BE FINE.

Came home from this whole scene and was all wound up, put the leash on Flicka and took her on a power walk. Walked by my friend L.'s house. She came outside and we chatted. Told her the story of K. Told her how he was met with open arms and a loving heart. Told her that Rojo will be okay.

With tears in her eyes she looked at me and said, "Oh, he'll be FINE!"

And I believed her in the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Not a Mark on Him

So. We've made it to the day before the first day of school. We've survived summer camp, sending Woohoo off to college, and a whole host of other challenges this summer, but I'm not quite sure we'll survive the day. It's only 10:41 AM and I am already on my third just-get-me-through-this beverage. Since it's a tad early to crack a beer, I'm relying on the ol' standbys of caffeine/dairy/fat/sugar. They never fail to add that extra element of liquid stress to the already stressful situation, and I never fail to rely on them to do just that.

Rojo has, as I've said before, had a great summer. He does not want it to end. Period.

I do.

I am, by all intents and purposes, at his beck and call, every minute he's awake and not at work. "CARE!" he calls a million times a day, full of another great idea of how we can kill time, usually involving buying something junky to eat. Usually I comply. Usually I indulge, as well.

I think the first order of business, beginning tomorrow, is to go on a health kick. I told STM that. "STM?"I said, "I am going to go on a health kick when Rojo goes back to school." He looked at me like I had three heads and handed me a beer. Let's face it, we all like me better under the slight influence.

Can't talk now, gotta chug my Starbucks Double Shot and take Rojo to frozen yogurt now. We've already been to Trader Joe's. And Plaid Pantry.

Thank you for your prayers.

Amen.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

All in Good Time

Lots to tell you about, but I'm really just not in the mood. Rojo continues to say profound/spiritual/deeply resonating things several times a day, always at the moment you're ready to kill him and/or go for the bottle. I am too old/tired/emotional/menopausal to write them all down or even fully appreciate them at this moment.

We've had a great summer - our best ever. Rojo is not ready to go back to school, he's dreading the work, the homework, in particular. He would go on living his summer life forever, if possible: working at the preschool 9-1, riding his bike, swimming, going for frozen yogurt with his wide range of friends, being outside in good weather, finding the ice cream truck every day, etc. It's the good life and he's loving it.

The teacher at the preschool, Sandy, said this year he is much more of a leader, and less of a peer to the preschoolers. He is already talking about doing it again next summer, and God willing, Sandy won't retire and that will be possible. For sure when he is done with high school, I need to find him a similar job.

We had someone from Ride Connection come out to the house yesterday - she was going to chat with Rojo, and form a plan for helping him learn to ride the bus - alone. She would ride it with him for as many times as necessary, until he could manage it entirely on his own. We're not talking transfers and distant places. We're talking learning how to catch it two blocks from our house, go somewhere nearby (without me), and come home. Rojo was all for it. I made sure to get his buy-in before even calling them. We had it on the calendar, we talked about it several times. He answered the door when she came. Two minutes into it he said, "That's it for me, I'm out of here," and stomped upstairs.

Poor timing.

I should never have tried to throw this on him as he's transitioning from Woohoo being home, to Woohoo  being gone, as he's saying goodbye to summer, and hello to school, as he's barely gotten used to being 16, let alone ready to start talking about being 18. I rushed things, such is my way.

As my brother is always saying, "Slowly, slowly." There is wisdom in that, deep wisdom that I am able to occasionally tap into.

Slowly.

Breathe.

Slowly.

Breathe.

Repeat.

Amen.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Top 10 Ways to Run Into Everyone You Know

10. The night before you want to run into every person you know on the planet, say goodbye to your daughter as she goes off to college.

 9. Tear up several times a day for several days in a row

 8. Have one good ugly cry

 7. Drink one too many beers (which means 2, instead of 1) the night before

 6. Don't drink enough water for several days prior, be nice and dehydrated, and look older than your years

 5. Don't sleep well for weeks

 4. Do not shower

 3. Walk the dog and get all sweaty

 2. Be sure to wear a baseball hat to cover your dirty hair

 1. Go to the grocery store early on a Sunday morning, hoping you won't run into anyone you know

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Orientation

Where to begin? We took Woohoo to college on Tuesday evening, but she was really just leaving for a 2-day service trip. We had one hour to "drop"her stuff in her room, and then get her over to where she needed to be to head out for service. Because if there's one thing STM does well it's pack/load/unload, we had that girl fully in, in 1 1/2 trips from the car, thanks to STM's handy dandy hand truck/cart thingy. Then, today, I went back and met her after she finished the service immersion, and helped her really settle into her room. Actually? I put her clothes on hangers and tried not to tell her where everything really SHOULD go, since it's, let's face it, none of my business.

Went back later this evening to learn all about dorm life from the hall director, and bring her various things she's thought of that she needs, and haul more stuff out that she doesn't. Tomorrow and Saturday are full orientation days for parents and students, culminating with an all-school Mass on Saturday night and then the big goodbye.

Got back tonight and Rojo said, "So, do you miss her already?" There is something so different about knowing she's gone and not coming back, versus a typical day where she might be gone all day and I never even see her, but knowing she'll be sleeping in the room next to ours, eventually.

Rojo swears he doesn't miss her, but it's obvious he does. He hasn't been himself for days, first really edgy and crusty, and now really quiet and somber.  I'm starting to get to know Woohoo's roommate's mother. She asked tonight, "How is this for Rojo?" which of course bonds me to her forever because she gets that this transition affects us all, even, and maybe especially, him.

On the (big) plus side, Woohoo is obviously happy. I'd go so far as to say giddy. And I love, love, LOVE her college. I'd give my right arm to trade places with her, but alas, we are here, she is there, and we are all reorienting.

Monday, August 20, 2012

College Bound



WARNING: The following post is rambling and disjointed. As within, so without.

Tonight will be the last night Woohoo will sleep at "home," as she informed me. Starting tomorrow, college will be "home" and this will be, I don't know exactly, I guess the place where her family lives. For those of you that put your little babies on airplanes and send them off to college in far away places, I bow to you. Woohoo will be 30 minutes away and psychologically, that is just super helpful. Not to mention how practical and easy it is as far as managing her move and our juggling act with Rojo.

I'm having college dreams left and right - the latest one was finding out I'd missed the first three weeks of my high level Spanish class (!) and then discovering it met at 10:30 PM, ruling that OUT for me, as my bedtime is 9:30 (at the latest).

I am 90% excited and happy for her - truly, my four years of college were among my happiest and most carefree. I loved learning, loved my living situation, loved my friends, loved being "independent," loved it all. I am hoping the same is true for her. 10% of me is nervous. How will she manage? Will she find her calling? Her friends? Her "thing?" Will she not just survive, but really thrive there?

Today she is spending the entire day saying goodbye to friends, one right after the other. Tomorrow it's the grandparents. Although she will be close, and can come home for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions, we have told her she's entitled to be "away at college" and her attendance is not required.

Yesterday Rojo was a bear - super grumpy, snappy, sassy and generally difficult. Today he has kept himself away from the house almost the entire day. He will miss her. He knows that, but he cannot/does not say that. He doesn't know a home in which she is not an integral, day-to-day part.

Kathleen is taking her youngest to college this week, too. Above is a picture of our two little girls thirteen years ago. Good thing Kathleen and I don't look a day older than we did then, but boy, have our girls changed! Although she's been through this two other times, this time it's the hardest - her baby. "Forced retirement," she says, then end of full-time parenting for a woman that's made it more than a career (even when she's had concurrent jobs). And even though it is not the end of my parenting (not by a long shot), it is the end of something.

And the beginning of more.

Monday, August 13, 2012

More Rumi

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers 
within yourself  that you have built against it.” 
― Rumi

It's really true. I'm going through the fun, and sometimes crazy-making, process of coming up with a subtitle for my book. Believe it or not, it never occurred to me to have one, even though the first book I wrote, had one, all the other books on the planet have one, and I pretty much should have been thinking about this months ago. Nonetheless, I'm doing it now.

Words like "relentless," "embracing,"  "autism spectrum," and "grief." Have all (among others) been mixed and matched. Then my astute agent reminded me that the story is about, more than anything, the boy with a super-human ability to love. 

My posting will be spotty at best as I tie up loose ends of the book, and get a girl ready for college NEXT WEEK! 

Love, love and more love.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Day at the Beach

For those of you that are faithful followers of the blog (THANK YOU), you know that each summer we take a day and drive to Seaside, Oregon to do exactly (and only exactly) what we do each and every other year. We go to the arcade, drop $40 in about 4 minutes, go to a salt-water taffy place and hand pick a bag's worth, have lunch at Pig-n-Pancake, hit the beach, build a sand TV, throw a ball around, complain about how cold/windy/whatever it is, make a big mess, clean it up, then go home.

We arrive home exhausted from our day at the beach, with a bunch of things to unpack, hose off, wipe and clean.

This year (yesterday) I only loaded $10 on each kid's card for the arcade. Rojo went straight to "the claw" where for 25 cents you can "play 'til you win" a pice of candy. The machine must not have been working properly, because 10 minutes in he still had $9.75 on the card. I didn't complain. When he had a whole sweatshirt pocket full of gross candy, he headed for the Big Bass Wheel. He swiped his card (actually, I helped him), pulled the handle down nonchalantly, then while being totally distracted trying to get a piece of candy from his pocket, he won 1,000 tickets. He was mildly impressed, the three of us were beside ourselves.






After waiting an eternity for the machine to punch out 1,000 tickets, we decided to break from our tradition of giving away the tickets, and instead, went to the redemption counter and squandered all 1,000 on mostly MORE gross candy (and a Frisbee for Flicka).

Because both kids still had a ton of money left on their cards, the four of us played basketball, skee ball, rode on motorcycles, and had a ball. We gathered up a bunch more tickets in the process, and decided we would then return to our tradition. We looked around for an unsuspecting family to whom we wanted to give the tickets. Soon as we spotted a dad following a four-year-old boy with Down Syndrome all around the arcade while his two daughters played, we looked no further. The dad was so excited he almost cried.

We were the big winners.

Then we headed for Pig-n-Pancake and ate both. Rojo had a side of fries (and a bottle of ketchup). Ate every last one of them. STM did something totally out of character, at lunch he suggested we also go out to dinner. He had a place in mind. As soon as Rojo was assured there would be French fries there, too, he was in.

Over for the salt-water taffy (because we didn't have enough candy), and that, too, was fun and easy. No crowd, they had all his favorite flavors, and I got out of there for less than $5.00.

Off to the beach and we had fun watching Flicka have fun with her new Frisbee. She hardly ever plays, and it was so cute to see her run, fetch, dive into the water, roll around in the sand and just be a dog.

After about three hours having fun on a pretty chilly day, we packed up and went to dinner. For the second time in one day, the four of us sat around a table and enjoyed food and conversation with one another. I don't think we've eaten out together two times in two years (or maybe more like 5).

On the way home everyone (but the driver) fell asleep, and we enjoyed a quiet, relaxing drive home, plus, since we'd eaten there we not only missed the rush hour traffic coming back, but everyone was full and ready for bed.

Success all the way around.