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.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Intimate



I have a dear friend that lent me a book that is dear to her, WHEN WOMEN WERE BIRDS, by Terry Tempest Williams. This is the first TTW book I've read, as I am not one to enjoy reading about nature, much as I love experience it, I do not like reading about it. Sorry. This friend insisted I would enjoy this particular book, and so I read it.

Loved it.

Still didn't like the parts where she describes nature.

Loved the parts where she forayed into her own psyche, and even more interestingly, into the mysteries of her mother that died and bequeathed all her journals to her. They were blank. All of them. Her mother made a point of telling Terry she was leaving her her journals, but not a single one had writing in them. The rest of the book is Terry's attempt to come to terms with that and understand what the journals were and weren't. Fascinating.

What is also fascinating, is that my friend marked in the book lines that really struck her - passages, thoughts, ideas, perspectives. I got to know my friend in a way I hadn't before, and we've known each other for twelve years.

When we understand what matters to our loved ones, we understand them better. Thanks, Terry Tempest Williams, for helping me do just that.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Sign, Pt. 2

Last night was the final night for camp, and they had a Friends and Family BBQ. One of Rojo's sainted teachers camp up with a friend to visit him, and camp. She and the friend had met at that camp when they both worked at it for a summer a few years ago. Rojo was not very nice to her when she got there, he was visibly tired, hungry, overwhelmed by some of the sounds and behaviors of the other campers, and just overall unpleasant.

He seemed less than enthusiastic that STM and I drove all the way there, giving us a very lukewarm reception. He didn't eat a bite of dinner, and Ruby said he had hardly eaten anything all week - relying almost entirely on the jumbo-sized tub of Goldfish I'd brought just in case. He hadn't gone swimming, hadn't showered until THURSDAY, and said he'd had a lot of trouble sleeping because two of the boys in his cabin were really loud at night.

I asked Ruby if there was any other place he could sleep, and apparently two campers had gone home so he moved into a different, quieter cabin, and slept much better.

I drove to pick him up today, and he was more animated than last night, but not by much. Slowly as we drove home and he checked important things (like frozen yogurt flavors and the weather forecast, as well as the exact time) on his recently returned cell phone he came more and more to life. I asked him how much he liked camp on a scale from 1-10, he said, "3."

We drove straight to the frozen yogurt place before even coming home and putting on cooler clothing, he didn't have his usual two bowls, only one, and still he was not quite himself. He went straight for the TV/iPad combination and relaxed for awhile, then he was all about riding his bike to visit friends, seeing if there were dogs at the park, and going to the Little Store to buy stuff all on his own. When I mentioned I had to walk up there later he said, "Just tell me what you need and I'll get it for you." HUGE! AND, he did! (Romaine lettuce.)

He called Kathleen to ask her if she'd heard the ice cream truck on her street, and when she asked him how camp was, he said, "Great!" And he said it as though he meant it!

As I drove up the mountain this morning with a huge pit in my stomach after the BBQ last night, I saw another sign in someone's yard: "God bless you." I recalled a pep talk I'd had earlier in the morning with Rojo's preschool teacher, and a pep text message(s) from a friend reminding me that sometimes just because something is hard, doesn't mean it isn't good, and doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. Rojo didn't love camp. He missed us, his favorite foods, routines, TV, dog, bike, friends. He was pushed way out of his comfort zone. He wasn't very gracious or happy about it some of the time. He was, and is, however, so, so blessed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Deafening Silence

I feel like my right arm is missing with Rojo at camp, but in a good way - now. The first 24-hours were brutal. Neither STM nor I slept a wink (I don't think Flicka did, either). I had both phones by the bed and was on high alert waiting for them the ring. As we got through all the firsts: first dinner, first sleep, first wake-up, first breakfast, first shower, etc., I started to relax. Now I'm very relaxed (in terms of him), and just savoring the thump/hum/tap/yell/door slamming-free house.

Monday night I slept like a rock and had energy ALL day yesterday - amazing what a difference it makes having a morning where you can complete a thought/activity! Woohoo and I spent the whole day getting her ready for college - and I was patient and pleasant! Both! And we were wildly successful and got a whole lot of things checked off the To Do and To Buy lists! Love that!

Now I'm about to dive back into the manuscript and do my "last" (I keep saying that) go-through before converting it into e-reader format. I'm going to warn you now, the book is not perfect, but I love it all the more each time I read it. I laugh, I cry, I cringe, I have hope, and that's just me. I hope you will, too. Better, more diligent, more careful, more highly crafted writers abound, but this book has something to say and I am excited to put it out there to have it's voice.

love.