I Am

Yesterday, while HT was doing my job, I took off out of here like a bat outta’ hell, and saw the movie, I Am. It had been a long stretch of stealing an hour here or there for myself, but not getting a significant chunk of time alone. At 42, I finally, deeply realize the significance of that. I am a person who craves and needs solitude. Lots of it. Some people don’t. I do. That doesn’t make me wrong and it doesn’t make me a bad mother. It makes me a better one than I personally would be otherwise.

I love my friends dearly, and when I see them, I want three hours to have the most wonderful, deep, heartfelt conversations. Tell me everything and don’t leave anything out. But I don’t need to see them everyday or talk on the phone constantly.

I love going to movies by myself. My idea of heaven right now would be me, alone, in a cabin in the woods, and not another person to be seen for a week. I need at least two days before all the pressure melts off, and then I can get down to the nitty gritty of profound conscious contact with nature, with the Source who created me. I attempt to do it at home, but there are always interruptions. One time recently, I was interrupted four times during a twenty minute meditation. The awesome part is I never lost a beat, didn’t get upset. When I first started meditating years ago, that would have triggered me so hard, I would have come screaming out of meditation like a banshee….ironic, no? This time I kept my eyes closed, answered the questions, kept breathing….stayed in the meditative space. The kids are so used to seeing me meditate, they just tiptoed out of the room, (the other interruptions were animals, and they too, just settled down and joined me).  That might have been one of my most successful moments in life. To remain peaceful, while being interrupted four times while meditating.

Anyway….where was I? Oh, yes. I Am.

Great documentary. Fancy schmancy Hollywood director suffers serious head injury, and questions what is important in life. Changes everything. We’ve been led to believe in a “survival of the fittest” mentality, when in reality cooperation is the order of the day.

One of the things that sticks with me, was a point they made about indigenous cultures, and consumerism. In most indigenous cultures, if a person took more than they needed, it would be considered a form of mental illness. For instance…, if a lion attacked a whole slew of antelope, rather than the one he needed for dinner, wouldn’t that be odd? Wouldn’t he be a little “off?”

I got home from the movie feeling better than when I left. Todd had kabobs on the grill. We had a nice dinner. I have to admit, I do take some satisfaction in the fact that he is bone tired by the end of the evening, after doing “my job” for a day.

I appreciate his willingness to do it, and I look forward to that cabin in the woods retreat I swear I’m gonna do one day.

Music Sharing Day

Saturday was the kids’ music sharing day at The Cleveland Music School Settlement, where those receiving music therapy showcased their talents. It had been a very stressful week and the weekend was jammed full of things we needed to do. Todd was working, and I was feeling very overwhelmed. Music sharing day was one more thing to tick off my list.

Todd slipped in just as it was getting started, and Riley was one of the first to go. She showed a music video she’d worked on with her therapist Sarah. Riley played the music in the video. She planned the whole thing. Every scene. Every prop. The story line. She and her therapist introduced it together and the crowd loved it. She was so proud.

Seth, is the “typical” volunteer in Riley’s therapeutic dance class, and they included something of Seth’s in Music Sharing Day, so he would not feel left out. Seth’s video appeared right after Riley’s. In it, he danced full out…demonstrating his impressive MJ moves. The audience raved. It was so sweet. Both kids basked in all the positive attention.

Most of the other students played instruments with or without their music therapists. One student, when her name was called, came running up to the stage area, like a contestant on The Price is Right. She grabbed the microphone and jumped up and down repeatedly like Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch, saying, “I’m so excited! I’m soooooo excited!” She was so excited, and her joy was infectious. I don’t know what her “disability” was. It wasn’t Down Syndrome, but perhaps something similar. I could not tell you if she was 15 or 50. All I saw was joy, just beautiful joy exuding from her.

“I’m sooooo excited!”

Every care I had coming in dropped off, and I was excited for her too. Her light was contagious. She already had me. Then for her second number, she sang, The Rose.

I sat there, tears welling in my eyes, thinking of all the hard work every one of the precious people with special needs in that room had put in. Not just in music therapy, but in life. How many therapies? How many treatments? How many misunderstandings? How many obstacles had each of them overcome? How much had they taught their families and communities about unconditional love, about joy?

A little later, it was Ronald’s turn. Ronald is a beautiful young adult. His dance class is right after Riley and Seth’s and I always enjoy talking with his mom.  Ronald loves Jingle. Just last week they brought her a huge bone, which she devoured. Ronald is sweet, polite, and kind. And he likes rap music. He took the microphone, turned to the audience, and said, “I like to sing! I like to sing!”

Ronald went on to to performed Jay-Z’s New York, substituting “Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland!” for “New York.” The rest of the lyrics were also his own. He rapped about all the things he loves. His mom. His teachers. His sister. High school.

I seriously could not take it. I couldn’t look at Todd for fear of losing it completely. A huge lump sat there in my throat. I looked at the ceiling blinking away tears. It was the kind of thing where if  let it go…I didn’t think I’d get it back.

My kids sat there rapt. Seth bopped in his seat. He wasn’t being polite. He was loving it, for real. They cheered enthusiastically for Ronald. We all did.

What a gift it was to have the opportunity to be right there in the moment with nothing but love in my heart. Love for every student, every therapist, every parent, every family. I felt such gratitude for those who do this work. Those who recognize music is for everyone.

Ronald’s mom gave me permission to share his performance with you. I hope it blesses you as much as it did us:

Love.

Happy Birthday to Yip

I’m not one to celebrate the birthdays of our pets.

But my children are. And what the heck. It’s fun posting pics of puppies. Today Mr. Yip is one year old. That’s him above with his litter mates. The baby in the middle with the pink nose. The picture was taken by the breeder we got him from. She made us a whole album.

Aren’t roly polie puppies the best?

Here he is before he got his ears.

Now he’s nine pounds. Large for a Chihuahua, just like we wanted. Something a little hardier, for the boy.

He’s a great little dog. So cuddly and affectionate. Rarely barks. Murder to housebreak though. He’s still not 100% there. We take him out every hour or two, but if we forget, he just lets it fly. I’m so glad we have hardwoods for easy and sanitary clean-up, and not carpets. The one area of carpet we do have, on the stairs….he ruined it anyway…not by peeing but by chewing.  Ah…the price of having a puppy and leaving him unattended for twenty minutes.

We’ve had him for nine months. Seth’s love for him only grows stronger. He picks him up and kisses him on the head a million times a day. Todd loves him too. He gushes over him, presenting him to me for cuteness affirmation before he takes him out at night. After I give the appropriate, “Aw,” they go on their way outside. Riley loves him too. She holds him like a baby and talks sweet to him.

I think he’s okay. For a Chihuahua.

All right, I admit it, I’m crazy about him too.

Happy Birthday Yippee.

I guess I am one to celebrate the birthdays of our pets after all.

Girls on the Run Was So Much Fun!

Today was our fifth and final Girls on the Run 5K. We had to wake up before dawn to be there. As the race began, I felt euphoric, remembering how Riley fell on the gravel at the start of her first 5K. How she freaked out because others were running ahead of her. How she could not get it together and how we almost quit before the first mile…but she didn’t.

Today…she was all smiles at the start. She was happy. She was dancy. She was just one of the girls, so glad to be there and be part of the big event. Here she is (on the right) with her buddy Lisa.

As per usual at a GOTR event, there was hair…it’s all about the hair.

Riley chose not to do the colored spray and I’m glad because the rain dumped on us hard during the race. It would not have been pretty.

Riley only stopped two times, and she only walked about 100 yards or so each time. She was not worried in the least about who was ahead of her, or about falling behind. She actually loved the rain, saying, “Thank you God!” It really cooled us off.

When she got tired she grabbed my hand, and I sang Firework, and Born This Way and Don’t Stop Believing! We laughed at how bad I sounded, singing while running, and agreed I sounded kind of like a sick cat. But it was fun.

Three years ago, when we started Girls on the Run, Riley had a meltdown almost every week. This season, not a one.

This little guy has been dragged along to almost every session, twice a week for three years, and has never once complained. Of course he gets to play on the playground and have fun. It isn’t grunt work, but still….it isn’t about him. And he’s gracious. And I love him.

I learned so much coaching Girls on the Run. So much about myself, about community, about my limits, about my strengths (I’m really good at the opening circle and the self-esteem building part). I’ll admit…it was never my great dream to coach Girls on the Run. I am not a natural runner. But I had to be there the first season for my kid. She could not have gotten through it without me there acting as a one-on-one aide. And the program was really good for her. And if they didn’t have someone step up and coach, the program would not have continued the next two years, so there I was. Reluctant coach. Sometimes resentful coach. Especially when dealing with behavior issues (not my kid’s). Sometimes I felt defeated. Why do I, the special needs mom with enough on her plate, have to deal with this? Volunteering about six hours a week! It’s crazy.

But Todd would remind me, most of them are getting a lot out of it. Most of them really wanted to be there. Most of them are awesome. And the non-awesome? They are awesome too, but have a lot going on at home, which is not their fault. (Gee…I can relate. I imagine I was pretty disrespectful too as a kid. I know I was part of making one unlucky substitute teacher cry in elementary school). Truly there were days I had to meditate before Girls on the Run practice, picturing these little trouble makers in their highest, most Divine perfect selves. It was only right.

I want people to see the my own child’s highest self, even when it isn’t being expressed.

Here she is when she started. A little peanut.

Now look at her. A total tween.

I love this girl.

I would go to the ends of the earth for this girl.

I am so proud to be her mom.

I’m so blessed to be her mom.

Amen.

Karen Weaverisms

In honor of her birthday…I give you lessons from Karen Weaver, Director of Windsong, Cleveland’s feminist chorus…

1)Show up

2)Be on time

3)Asking forgiveness is easier than asking persmission

4)Encourage others

5)Stop talking!

6)Wait for your freaking cue

7)Observe rests

8)Work in pencil

9) Take responsibility for your own learning

10) Take risks

Bonus:  Never sing beyond the beauty of your own voice.

Making a Reader Out of Him

On Tuesday, Seth and I snuggled up on “our” sofa by the vending machine while Riley was at Music Therapy. We finished the fourth and final Indiana Jones book. I read the last sentence. There was a beat. I smiled at him, curled up under my shoulder. He looked up at me, grinned and said,

“What are we gonna read next?”

And I love it.

I hope books bring him joy forever.

Burzynski

I gave up thinking the FDA cared about me or my children (or yours) a long time ago. My motto is: above the government, above any doctor, trust your own God given inner guidance when making health decisions for your family.

While spending time in my kitchen just now, chopping and sauteing and stirring… (I’m making carrot ginger soup), I was listening to Dr. Oz on XM radio, and he was interviewing the director of a new film called Burzynski, and also Dr. Burzynski himself.

The movie is about how the FDA tried to block effective gene targeted cancer medicines called “antineoplastons,” and how they put the doctor who invented them through hell for years. I don’t know. Maybe you or someone you love is going through cancer right now. Maybe antineoplastons could help? Wanted to pass this along, in case it might be helpful to someone out there.

Lovingly yours,

MO’N

To read more on The Burzynski movie, click here.

iPod Touch for Lydia

Lydia is a young woman who has autism. Like many on the spectrum, there is great disparity in what she thinks, and what she is able to express verbally. She has speech, but it comes and goes, depending on how taxed she is.

Lydia is a college grad, but has had trouble finding employment she can navigate successfully due to all of her sensory issues and often a lack of understanding among co-workers and employers. I have learned a great deal about autism from Lydia.

So anyway….there is a fund raiser in progress to help Lydia get an iPod Touch which would allow her to communicate when she loses her words.

It gets me thinking about the scenario which happened on my LA trip, the one where a woman lost her purse, (and $600 +), and then everyone in the auditorium came together and gave just a a couple of bucks (which no one would miss) and the problem was solved in less than ten minutes. The power of the collective. It’s big.

If you’d like to be part of a collective effort to tangibly help one person with autism, click here to make a donation toward Lydia’s iPod Touch. Any little bit will help.

Happy Birthday Hot Toddy

The photo above is the drawing on Seth’s birthday card for his dad. The smiley face with the party hat and the…what? Sticking out of its mouth?

Yes, today is Todd’s birthday. He is presently sleeping in. If you don’t count the fact that he got up at 6 to take the puppy out. But he went right back to sleep, promise.

Both kids got busy just now making cards. Both seem to think he’s the best dad ever.

Here he is being cute when we lived in Virgina.

Here he is below being cute playing chat pack with the kids.

Here he is being cute scraping my van.
Here he is being cute at a restaurant.

We were planning to do something fun outside, perhaps the zoo, or a hike, but the rain is coming down. We have an ice cream cake ordered for later. Oh…and we might go to a Japanese restaurant and watch the show today. He doesn’t really care what he does, as long as it’s with us.

So, Seth…explanation?

It’s a noise maker.

“Those things you blow and they come unrolled?” Seth explained.

Not a cigarette. Not any kind of cigarette.

Thank you for clearing that up boy.

Thank you Todd, for working so hard for us and loving us so much, (and for never smoking). We love you right back.

Happy Birthday, my love.

Room to Bloom

I took this picture during recess at the homeschool co-op today. Riley is in the green shirt and pink leg warmers. I love how she’s smack in the middle of the play. Sometimes she hangs on the outskirts, but not usually.

People often ask the “socialization” question re:homeschooling, especially for Riley who per Asperger’s has more of a challenge than most when it comes to social situations. The thing is…now that she’s not having to hold it together all day in school, she is able to be a lot more social. The kids she comes into contact with get to see who she really is, not an anxiety riddled, fight or flight version of herself. Riley. Sweet. Kind. Maybe a bit quirky but not much more quirky than a lot of them. There is so much more freedom to be yourself within the homeschool crowd.

I also love the range of ages depicted in the photo. The kids, from teens on down to toddlers play together during recess…without any adult telling them what to do or how to do it. We’re out there, in case anyone needs us, but truly? They don’t. The big ones watch out for the little ones. The little ones experience such freedom and feel perfectly safe.

This year Riley and Seth have had the benefit of meeting a brand new baby. They’ve negotiated Lego building around sweet, but “Mine!” oriented toddlers. There are teenage girls whom Riley looks up to, and there is another girl on the spectrum just Riley’s age (a rare find) whom she really likes.

There are lots of boys for Seth to play with, and he is figuring out his way around that. He’s not used to rough and tumble, having only a delicate older sister..but today I saw him attempt to pile on. Interesting.

Homeschooling is working out well for them.

I’m so glad we gave it a try.

Set Me As a Seal Upon Your Heart

Being an autism mom has drastically reduced my tolerance for disrespect.

Our old dentist, had this thing going on with his assistant. He treated her like she was not smart. She took it, meekly.

It made me squirm.

Then…one day, when I mentioned Riley, her Asperger’s and associated anxiety regarding dentists, he said,

“The problem with kids and anxiety at the dentist is 99% of the time, the parents.”

And we were done.

I’ve avoided the phone calls from his office, wanting me to make appointments for cleanings for over six months. I had not found a new dentist and didn’t want to end the relationship (in case one of us got a toothache in the meantime) until we found a new one.

Referred by a friend, I went to a new dentist this week. He inquired about why I left the old one. I hesitated, not wanting to be negative…but then thought it might be good information for him to have. Do not blame autism parents, for our childrens’ behavior. You have no idea how long and hard we have worked with our children to help them. No idea.

His reaction to what the last dentist said was stronger than I expected. You see….he has an 18 year old son with autism.

This is my new dentist’s boy. He is non-verbal but proficient at sign language. He is signing in front of a crowd of 900 at a school assembly. Check out his killer smile!

Besides being dentists, his parents run a website called www.autismtutors.com, which helps match children with autism and tutors who want to work specifically with that population. There is a vast amount of valuable info on various autism resources on the site.

The cool thing is, I don’t think my friend who recommended this dentist, even knew he had a kid on the spectrum.

I love it when The Universe winks at us like that.

Johnny Barnes

I’ve been reading a wonderful book called Love for No Reason by Marci Shimoff. It is very inspiring, full of wonderful examples of unconditional love. I have folded over so many pages, and could keep myself busy for years just looking up all of the amazing and beautiful people she depicts in the book.

One such man is Johnny Barnes. He lives in Bermuda and for over thirty years, he has stood on a busy street, waving at commuters, blowing kisses and telling them he loves them.

He began his waving mission when he was an electrician for a railway company. Each day before work he would take an hour and and wave at people. Retired now, he wakes before dawn and takes up his post, waving and sending love for six hours a day. He’s been happily married for over fifty years.

Love for No Reason is a book that will open your heart. It just feels good to read!

I read Johnny’s story out loud to Seth just now, and he loved it. We did a little searching and found the video above. I am so appreciative of YouTube. I’m so happy to see Johnny’s face, and hear his voice, and feel his blessing. I love books and technology and this interconnected web of a Universe.

I love Johnny Barnes, all the way from Cleveland.

I love Love.

Imaginary Foes


My children never fight. Well…hardly ever. And when they do, they get through it very, very quickly. They would both rather be with each other than anyone else. They get along freakishly well. To the point where I sometimes wonder if it is healthy. I mean…they are together 24/7…shouldn’t they get on each other’s nerves once in a while? Not that I’m complaining. I just wonder if they’ll ever get along with anyone else as much as they get along with each other? Are they too exclusive? Neither ever asks for an outside play date. They just don’t. They’ll play with other kids if I set it up, but it seems they are perfectly content to just be together.

However.

Riley started having an imaginary friend a couple of years ago, and then last year Seth made up his own imaginary friend. I don’t get the gist these are imaginary friends the children really believe are there (I know some kids do that) but they have a lot of fun with them. Riley now has a few, and Seth has a few, and their two main ones have begun fighting. They are really vicious too. Name calling, insults, rudeness. It’s all there.

They seem to be working out some social stuff, without being cruel to anyone else or each other…because you know….it’s the imaginary friends doing it. Not them.

They draw pictures of these friends. They make graphic novels. They write tons of stories based on them. Riley drew this one. Her friend is in the middle. He’s a tough guy, and he’s taking his frustrations out on Seth’s imaginary friends(who are obviously cats). No fear, often Seth’s friends are the ones dishing it out.

Sometimes I cringe at the tones and words they use but my instinct tells me to stay out of it.

On the surface, neither one of them has a mean bone in their body, but we all have shadow sides. I think it is okay for them to connect with theirs once in a while.

Let’s Call Him Chip

I woke up with a large chip on my shoulder. Trying to snap out of it, I took Jingle for a long walk. It is a gloriously gorgeous day here in Cleveland, and I surprised myself, by just how miserable I could be amongst all the spring beauty. The blossoms. The lake. The blue sky. The breeze. We all know happiness does not depend on place. You can be happy no matter where you are. Well, you can be grumpy no matter where you are too. I was once really grumpy while in the Bahamas. I snapped myself out of it pretty quickly, but still.

So today….people with their dogs off leashes irritated me. Their dogs were friendly, but they barreled down on us and Jingle, being restricted on a leash (like the law calls for) was threatened, and growled, and barked, and the big dog, nudged into me repeatedly trying to get his nose in the bag of treats I was holding.

I glared at their owner. Why? Why do people have to let their dogs run off leash in public places? It is so stressful for me to feel like Jingle might, out of fear, attack their dogs at any moment.

Why are people inconsiderate?

And why am I so angry?

Knowing intellectually how perception is a mirror, yada yada, I tried to think about areas in my life where I am/have been inconsiderate.

Couldn’t think of a thing. LOL.

My beef started yesterday with someone I encountered who has a history of acting pompous with me. It’s not just me, it’s pretty much everyone he encounters. Boy do I not like pomposity. It’s a big trigger. So let’s disect it from a LOA standpoint. I don’t feel I am arrogant. But what does an arrogant person really feel inside? Insecure. Bingo. We’re a perfect match. If I were standing in my power, really knowing Who I Am, someone else’s arrogance would feel amusing to me, not insulting.

Thank you pompous person for showing me where I still need to heal.

P.S. I still can’t stand you.

Lucky to be their mother…

Today I was greeted with sweet smiles, homemade cards, a chocolate croissant and a steaming cup of coffee in bed.

I was instructed to stay in the bedroom while they prepared their “surprise.” I did a meditation and focused on each of my kids. What they were like as babies. Riley so very needy, huge desperate eyes, watching me like a hawk, feeding constantly to soothe herself, spitting up after every nursing session because she was not hungry to begin with. The sweetness of her essence, underneath all that anxiety. It was there. She was so, so sweet. So smart.

She was all cheeks and thighs and eyes. Todd and I would just hang out and watch her, stare at her, and marvel at her mere existence. We were, have been, still are, in love with this girl. She’s grown 3/4 of an inch in the last three months. Oh, what she has taught us. Oh, how lucky we are to be her parents.

Then there is Seth. He came into the world with a gentle cry. His daddy held him, and with a quiver in his voice kept repeating, “Hi Buddy. Hi Buddy.”

What would I ever do without Seth? He is the yin to his sister’s yang. He is a deep, thoughtful boy. He is kind. He is good. He is…dare I say it…cool. I just love watching him walk. His little frame with the loose “silky” nylon running pants. He will not do any clothing that is uncomfortable. His loose shirts (no buttons). And of course his hats. My sister has given him the title of “Fedorable.”  When he was a baby I learned infant massage and the way he used to stare into my eyes as I rubbed his pudgy little legs…it was as if he were “in love.” I was in love right back. Still am.

How is it possible for each mom to get the very best kids? ‘Cause seriously….mine are!

Of course there are a lot of other folks around here I am blessed with “mothering.”



As a little girl I wished for animals. Animals that would not get killed on the busy road we lived on. Animals we would get to keep. Check that. Of course these animals are for the children.

Today I honor my mother and my grandmother. Each had the task of mothering, under extremely challenging circumstances. Both relied on a power bigger then themselves to carry them through.

I could never be the mother I strive to be without this guy.

If I am at all a good mother it is because of him, and his unconditional love and unwavering support. I don’t know how people who aren’t married to Todd do it. But he’s mine, all mine and you can’t have him!

He took the photo below this morning, just after my shower, just after my chocolate croissant.

It is a gorgeous day. I’m sitting here on our balcony, typing away, stopping once in a while to glance at the trees. The branches sway in a gentle breeze. Todd has to go to work soon. Later the kids will come with me to chorus. They’ll play their DSis and not be a bit of trouble.

My heart is wide open. I feel so appreciative.

Happy Mothers Day.

Love.

OM

Update:

We went. Had the place to ourselves. It was very cool. The kids especially loved the audio. I especially loved the variety of recycled fabric the artist used. Those little straw kids wore some funky clothes, made of shirt sleeves, socks, bandannas, even underpants with sharks on them. I can’t imagine how much work went into dressing these children! And yes, Australia has only nine million children under age 15.
_____________________________________________________________________

We’re going to check out this interactive art exhibit after homeschool co-op today. My friend Jancy told me about it and suggested I take the kids to see it, and I do whatever she says.

OM from Melissa Daubert on Vimeo.

It looks pretty cool. One sculpture represents one million of the earth’s children. Except where there are no children, then there are penguins. And just looking at the exhibit on the website, could it be true Australia is low on kids? We’ll find out.

It should be fun. Later gators.

Om………………………………………………………..
(Seth decided these four represented our family).

The day Mommy went for a ride…

So yesterday…I was on the treadmill, mindin’ my own business. Listening to Mozart, not a usual pick for me but there it was, so I put the CD in my “Walkman” (yes Walkman…Riley is the only one in this house with an ipod), and I was moving along at a fast clip. Riley’s tutor was set to arrive soon, so for a brief second I hopped off the treadmill to open the window shades so I would see her pull into the driveway. Stepping back onto the moving treadmill I was careful to place my left foot on the edge, then I swung my right foot over to the other side, to get my bearings before hopping back on the moving conveyor belt. Only thing is, my left toe hit the belt, while my right leg was still swinging mid air toward the other side.

Smack!

I wiped out good.

Landing on my right elbow, my left hand, my right knee and yes, my butt, I quickly was taken for a ride, the length of the conveyer belt and spit off the treadmill onto the floor. My Walkman went flying and crashed. Mozart, the headphones, and the batteries parted ways…all in different directions.

The cat rose from his position on the bed, concerned.

It took me a second to realize I was not seriously hurt, and then I just laid on the floor laughing hysterically. My children were in the next room, singing at the top of their lungs along with Riley’s ipod to new Glee songs we’d just uploaded the night before. I could have been dead and they would not have noticed.

The cat readjusted himself, and sunk back into the down comforter on our bed.

The tutor came. I acted cool.

This morning, everything hurts, especially my pride.

This is my finger today. Swollen and purple. Can’t even begin to get my rings off.
(Thank you macro lens. Do I need to start shaving my knuckles)?

In other weird news….Seth has this thing where he rolls his eyes back to freak people out. It lasts just a second and he enjoys the reaction he gets. I said to him, “Seth…you can’t really see what that looks like, ’cause your eyes are in the back of your head. Let me take a pic to show you.” He was all for it, until he saw it.

Perhaps no one has been more freaked out by it than Seth himself. We’ll see if it stops.

This morning another strange thing happened. When we woke up, Riley and Seth were downstairs, fully dressed and ready to roll. Getting dressed has always been a difficult process for Riley. There is so much to worry about with it. Do things match? Might there be the tiniest speck of a stain on something? Is what she picked appropriate for the weather? Does it itch? Might there be a fuzzy on something? The list goes on and on. But today, there she was, proud as a peacock. Fully dressed,

“And I told Seth to get dressed too,” she beamed. Both of them stood there, full of themselves, and Todd and I reacted with huge,

“WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHO ARE THESE GROWN UP KIDS?”

So I may be a little achey. But I am grateful I wasn’t seriously hurt. I may have a weird son, but he’s also the sweetest little guy on earth. My kids might not notice a huge thud and their mother crumpled on the floor laughing hysterically, but they got dressed this morning with no drama.

The sun is shining brightly in Cleveland, and today is a good day.

P.S. It went a little something like this, minus the dancing.

Ten Grands


I stumbled upon this the other day. Ten pianists. Ten grand pianos. Raising money for kids in Oregon and Washington who otherwise would not get to take part in the arts in schools due to budget cuts.

I love when something which appears to be a limit, causes something beautiful to happen, and it’s like, “Yo…limit? You mean nothing.”

How cool to see ten grand pianos being played at once. Though on the video one must be off camera ’cause I swear I’m only counting nine. For more info on Ten Grands check out The Snowman Foundation by clicking here.

And when you see a limit today…remember…there is always a way around it.

Plans for Camp

A friend recently sent me an e-mail about Bittersweet Farms. I love knowing a place like this exists. In looking for the YouTube code to embed the video above, I came across a number of programs which beautifully serve kids and adults with special needs. One after another the videos popped up.

Riley has attended an inclusive music day camp the last two summers. She’s done really well, but felt a bit left out because the special needs kids were relegated to mornings only. All the other campers got to go full day. She was adamant she go full day this year, and I knew if I couldn’t get her in full day, she would likely balk at going at all, because she’s “not a baby.”

At every turn, people show up to help.

The wonderful aide who accompanied her the last two years has agreed to go full day with her, but still…the structure of afternoons is completely different. Would she be able to handle it? And what about the hurdle of the policy in place… about special needs kids only going in the morning? There has been a lot of discussion amongst the camp powers that be.

Riley’s music therapist…the one who teaches hip-hop dance, has been working to prepare her. She’s been teaching her various steps in isolation, then throwing them together every which way…to get her used to thinking on her feet and being flexible. To get her used to being unsure, and frustrated, and be able to recover quickly. The whole time, I’ve felt whether or not she gets to go full day, everyone was rooting for her and looking out for her best interest. It would not make sense to send her full day and set her up for failure if she truly wouldn’t do well.

Riley’s other music therapist has also been working on recovering from mistakes,…(acting like it’s nothing and moving along) while making music recordings and videos, letting Riley have all input into the creative process. Riley plays the drums, the piano, lots of other instruments, sings into the microphone, etc. She loves it. She’s doing well.

So.

The camp has made the decision to let Riley go full day this summer. She is the first camper with special needs to do so in their very,very long history.

And I think of all that has gone into this. And I think of the video above. And I think of what goes into parenting and supporting all of the kids with special needs who are here on the planet in droves, and I feel so much love for parents and professionals, friends and neighbors, who open their hearts wider, and make room for our kids.

And I have faith.