100% Huggable

I am feeling moved to write about the Berard Auditory Integration Therapy Riley received when she was little. When I have those little winks to share something, I tend to think there is a reason.

This little baby was debilitated by certain noises. Her life sucked because of it. We all walked on eggshells, waiting for the next auditory assault (a sneeze, a baby crying, etc.) and the horrifying screams that would come as she writhed in pain.

We did Berard training at McLean Speech and Language in the DC area. They know what they are doing. Unfortunately, not every practitioner does. She had two 10-day rounds. It cost us a fortune. Big gains each time, not only in reduced sound sensitivity, but also in balance.

In the photo above, Riley is wearing her then favorite shirt. It had a Care Bear on it and said 100% Huggable. At the time Riley would allow hugs but had never hugged anyone on her own initiative. The third day into the therapy, Riley went in the door of McLean Speech and Language and walked up to Susan Glaub, the therapist that was doing the treatment, and hugged her around the legs. She also began to wake up from sleep without screaming, which was a first.

The woman that brought Berard Auditory Integration Training to the US is Annabel Stehli. Her daughter had autism, and then she didn’t. She credits the auditory training for the change. Back when Riley was tiny and suffering, I found her books so inspiring. One is titled Dancing in the Rain. Another is The Sound of a Miracle.  I didn’t know she had a third book out in 2010, The Sound of Falling Snow. It is about children who have recovered from autism. I plan on getting it.

Maybe your child is suffering from sound sensitivity. Maybe you know someone who needs help? I can’t say it will work for you, but it might. I know at least two adults that did the therapy and felt it helped them. It was worth it for us. It was a big deal and vastly improved the quality of Riley’s life. Sound doesn’t bother her any more.

And there you have it.

BTW….she’s 12 now and still 100% huggable. Always has been, always will be.

Rachel’s mother danced…

I’m officially blubbering my eyes out. And you can too! Click here, and watch this beautiful video about a little girl named Rachel who wanted to help people get clean drinking water.

She died in a car accident, but her spirit was so strong, she managed to lasso the love of the world and ended up providing drinking water to over 60,000 people in Africa posthumously.

Nine year olds are powerful people. They still have magic. They believe. They can do anything!

What brought me to the ugly cry in the video was when Rachel’s mommy danced. When you lose a child, how do you ever dance again? But she did. She danced in honor of her baby.

God’s grace.

God’s grace.

God’s grace.

And the people have clean water to drink.




Bite Your Tongue? Or Save the Cheese?

“He’s a smart man. I don’t get it?”

I was talking to Amy about HT. Lately, after almost 15 years of marriage, he’d taken to leaving blocks of cheese in the fridge drawer, unwrapped.

Amy was sympathetic. She shook her head and said, “Phil would never do that. Cheese means too much to him.”

“I know, right?” I sighed.

Every time I happened upon a block of cheddar, the end all rubbery and unusable, I’d shake my head, and take a breath. I rationalized, there are lots of things I do that probably make him nuts. I leave a wad of hair in the shower drain. I never replace the soap. He doesn’t complain.

But cheese is like, five bucks a block! He’s wasting it. And why now? What made him get cheese lazy after all this time?

Finally I could take it no more. Very gently, I approached the subject.

“Um, Honey? Why do you keep leaving cheese un-wrapped in the fridge?”

He looked at me like I was high, as Seth quietly skee-daddled out of the kitchen.

Sometimes it’s good to bite one’s tongue. My gramma always said, “If you can’t say something nice….”

On the other hand, it’s good to talk and air things out. How many blocks of cheese would have been sacrificed had I not brought it up? 

Seth never just went into the fridge and helped himself to hunks of cheese before. Apparently, now he does. Who knew?

HT, I apologize for ever doubting you. And I’ll try to be more considerate about the hair in the shower drain.



Chewy’s Revenge

Before Seth had Yippee, there was Chewy. Chewy is the Webkin stuffed Chihuahua he carried around and slept with and placed all his wishing-hoping-longing dreams of having a Chihuahua on for years.

Chewy got seriously kicked to the curb (or the bottom of the stuffed animal bin) as soon as Yippee arrived. It was for his own protection, because puppies chew. Yip is now two years old, and for for some reason Chewy has resurfaced this week. Chewy has been “talking” to Yippee through Seth’s voice. It’s not annoying in the least.

Anyway, yesterday..Seth begged me to take a picture of Yippee and Chewy together. My camera was within reach and since I didn’t have to go downstairs to get it, I agreed. I went in, barely looked, snapped the photo. Seth was happy. The end.

It wasn’t until today that I actually looked at the picture.


Is it just me, or…? Never mind. Talk amongst yourselves.

I’m going to quietly tip-toe out of this post.

Skinny Kitchen

One of the ways I like to make myself crazy is by fretting about my small kitchen. It’s one of my “if onlys.” If only my kitchen were bigger, all my problems would be solved and life would be perfect. Sigh. I feel foolish having bought this house, with the skinny little galley. We were off all special diets. I was sick of cooking. I loved the rest of the house and didn’t care about the kitchen so much. What was I thinking?

Recently, we had the counter tops replaced and a dishwasher put in, and that has taken a lot of pressure off. It’s livable. It’s do-able. We are back on the Specific Carb Diet though, and I am always in the kitchen, and often fall into the trap of victim over it. Two people can’t really work in it. A kid coming in and standing around while I cook is annoying as hell. We have a barstool shoved into a corner and they are allowed to sit on it or get out. It seems they are forever in my way. Todd and I do alright. We have no problem brushing up against each other, grabbing each other by the hips and steering one another out of the way. We have a rythym. Anyone else and it feels like we’re billard balls crashing into each other.

But the kitchen has many good qualities. The cabinets are old and sturdy and deep and there is ample space. I’ve got cabinets that are still empty. Who can say that? And there is a good deal of counter space. And my dishwasher door opens to within inches of the sink across the way, so there are no drips on the floor moving dishes from sink to dishwasher. And my new countertops are pretty. And there is a generous eat in area just around the corner from the galley. And, HT put in a window unit a couple of weeks ago so I wouldn’t melt to death during the heat wave. And we have plenty of food. And running water. And life really isn’t so bad.

This morning, I was sitting on our deck, having coffee and ruminating about my kitchen. Doing the “if only.” And I thought about a family I saw in O Magazine. Oprah had visited India and a family of five was living in a 10 x 10 foot room in the slums of Mumbai. Their whole living space was about the size of our eat in area around the corner from the galley. It was their kitchen, living room, bedroom, their everything. Three kids. Two adults.

I decided I would print out the photo and hang it in my galley. I decided I would look at it every time I felt myself about to complain.

One day I do want a really kick ass kitchen. I’m not giving up on that dream.

But for now, I will look at that photo, and appreciate the heck out of what I already have.

MJ Cirque de Soleil

We bought tickets over a year ago, thinking they were for Seth’s 9th birthday. It turned out the show wasn’t for another year, and so Seth? This was for your 10th birthday which is coming up in a couple of months.

I thought since we got the tickets so very early, our seats would be great, but alas, they were just slightly lower than nosebleed. I felt bad. As we waited for the show to begin, I looked down at the section I would like to be sitting in and felt a little resentful. But then, my boy, he was happy. He was thrilled to be there. He didn’t care where we were sitting. I didn’t want my dissastisfaction to rub off on him so I vowed not to say any more, (Todd and I had already commented on our seats) and just enjoy the show. I thought how blessed we were. How lucky we were to get to come at all. How lucky we were to be all together. How amazing it is to see your child be so excited about something. I just tried to milk every little thing I could appreciate about the moment, and I did feel better.

And then, an usher came up to our row, and made a little anouncement out the corner of her mouth.

“There’s a lady in a grey shirt that is giving away seats on the lower levels. She’s just outside the doorway.”

Of the few of us that heard her, I’m the only one that initially hopped out of my seat. Riley and Seth hadn’t even heard her and wondered where the heck their crazy mother was going? The show was about to start! It sounded too good to be true.

It wasn’t.

I came back with the tix and a smile and then a few people around followed my lead.

We wound up in the section I had been coveting moments before.

And that is how Law of Attraction works. Let go. Appreciate the good you have and more good comes your way.

I do believe we had the best seats in the house.

And Seth. He loved it. He was rocking out! He could barely contain himself in his seat and thank goodness eventually everyone stood up and danced. It was as if no one was there but him, the way he was so into it. Throwing his hands in the air. Focused so sharply on what he was seeing. A tribute to his beloved MJ.

The acrobats and dancers. The special effects. The huge screens with images of MJ. The sound of his voice talking. The photos of him when he was little. The musicians. Seth was in heaven.

During Thriller, Riley leaned over to me and said, “I feel sorry for all the little kids that are here.” She was worried about children who might be scared.

Then, Seth, on my other side, leaned in and said, “I feel bad for the little kids.”

Both of them sharing the same concern, without knowing the other said it. Both super empathetic as a result of being touched by autism.

On the way out, Riley said, “I could not have handled that when I was little! But now I’m fine! I loved it!”

There was a human dressed up as a chimp as part of the show. Seth asked about it on the car ride home. We told him about Michael Jackson’s “Bubbles” and he said, “How come I never heard about that before?”

We talked about the Neverland Ranch that one of the sets was designed around. Again, he had no idea. For him it’s always been about the music which speaks to his heart, and of course, the dancing.

He knows that MJ died of an accidental drug overdose. He knows about the crazy propofol situation. The plastic surgery is obvious. But there is a lot about MJ we’ve protected him from.

Todd started to say something about the “stories” surrounding Michael Jackson, but I put my hand on his leg as we drove along, signaling him not to go any further.

“Not tonight,” I whispered. He immediately agreed.

Seth had the time of his nine year old life.

For now, we leave it at that.

50 Years

A big party was planned for Todd’s parents 50th anniversary. We were heading to NY state for the event on Saturday. About 80 people were coming. Thursday night, his mother wound up in the hospital with a viral infection, a fever of 103. The first words out of her mouth to her doctor were, “I need to get out of here. I have a party I need to attend.”

And she did get out of there.

And the party was fun!

A lot can happen in 50 years. They raised three children, who turned out good. They never missed a Little League game. They never miss Catholic mass. They took her father in while he was dying of cancer, and cared for him until he made his transition. He lost a beloved sister. They were devoted to both of their mothers as they aged and eventually passed. He lost a beloved brother. They help manage the life of another of his brothers who has some special needs.

They’ve lived in the same house for almost 50 years and have taken immaculate care of it.

They have eight grandchildren, the first is set to graduate high school next year. They’ve traveled to Italy and Hawaii and many other places.

And here’s the thing about these two. They are still in love. They still enjoy each other. He tells the same jokes for years, the kids (and grandkids) roll their eyes at hearing them, but she laughs. And he adores her.

Todd’s brother did a nice toast, thanking them for all they have given their family. Todd’s dad cried. His mom did too. She made it to the party. All their friends and family were together.

And they were very, very happy.

My Magic Mike Review

Wednesday night I went with my friend Melinda to see the movie Magic Mike(her idea). It was an epic week, since I went to the Market Garden Brewery Reading Series featuring the talents of Phil Metres and Loung Ung the night before. Two nights in a row, baby. I was out there.

So, Magic Mike.

For the record, I haver never been to see male strippers (or female). A certain someone in this house can’t say the same, but he was young and single when he had his arm twisted and got dragged along with friends, which is his story on how it all went down. Em, hmmm. I know some women love it, but I would die of mortification if a stripper dragged me on stage and shook his “stuff “in my face. No thank you and yuck.

That being said, the movie had merit. There was an interesting enough story line, a lot of humor, and a bit of romance. Much of the dialogue seemed to be improv and the actors carried it well.

Channing Tatum was beautiful and adorable and charming and so was the other young buck whose name I don’t know (though he looked way older than the 19 year old character he was portraying). And Matthew Mcconaughey. Well, let’s just say he found the role of a lifetime. I think his performance was Oscar worthy. I am generally not a big fan of his. There is something a little smarmy about his brand of southern charm, but the role he played of the slightly over-the-hill-top-dog stripper, he nailed it. Hard. Repeatedly.

Wait, where was I?

I would suggest not going to see the movie if you think you will have a problem with the image of Mcconaughey’s butt cheeks (close up, bending over in front of the camera) being seared into your brain. It’s been two days and I still can’t seem to make it go away.

When I got home that night, HT was hopeful. I looked him in the eye, shook my head and said, “Two words. Matthew Mcconaughey’s ass.” I know, that was three words, but I was still in shock from what I’d seen.

HT, knowing how I feel about Mcconaughey, understood. There would be no Magic Mike induced hanky panky.

Getting out of the house two nights in a row is fun, but it is not without risk.


Apologies to Phil Metres and Loung Ung for being included in this post about Magic Mike and Matthew Mcconaughey’s ass. I promise I won’t let it happen again. I blame Melinda.

*Image is from MTV.

Write Me a Poem

A poetry reading last night. My friend Amy’s husband presented. He read poems about torture, poems about racism, poems about his beautiful daughters and a very gorgeous viscerally romantic poem about his wife.

When I got home, I took HT’s hand and led him to our back yard. We sat on the bench and looked at the stars and I told him about my night. The temperature was perfect. A slight briskness, always welcome after hot summer days. I leaned against him, stretched my legs out on the bench, his arm around my shoulder.

“How come you never write me a poem?” I asked.

He laughed and came up with a title, which was our mutual nickname I’m not allowed to divulge, said in the tone we use with each other when we’re exasperated. We say it with hands in the air, beseechingly. Someone didn’t replace the toilet paper. We say it. Someone locked the other one out. We say it. Someone forgot to put sunscreen on the kids before sending them off to camp. Hands go in the air and we say it.

We say it, but we aren’t really mad. We say it knowing full well it could have been us, just as easily as the other, making the same mistake.

HT’s read three books in the 16 years I’ve known him. He’s not a writer. But there is poetry in his love for me. Poetry in him standing at the stove at 11PM, making Seth’s homemade ketchup, (when he has to work at 6AM) just to take the edge off the things I need to do  tomorrow. Poetry in him folding laundry while he watches Sports Center.

Poetry in his ability to remind me Who I Am when I forget.

I’m not going to lie. And I probably “shouldn’t tell,” but we did some kissing on the bench in our back yard under the stars last night.

His steady love. His devotion, all the poem I need.

Change of Focus

I’d say I’m about halfway back to my usual self. Not bad for 24 hours.

I’ve been spending hours every day researching the latest treatments for Seth’s PANDAS. I feel like I’m on borrowed time. I fear if we don’t get to the bottom of it there will be long term repercussions. How long can one’s brain be attacked without a price being paid? I’ve been making all our food from scratch, in a tiny kitchen, in the middle of a heat wave. I’ve been taking the supplements in advance of giving them to him, to be the guinea pig, and am going through detox. I love that my kids are at camp, and that I don’t have to work around them making a whole bunch of food every day. But I’m still making a whole bunch of food every day. My kids are growing and like little Pac-men, chomp chomp chomp always hungry. I can barely keep up.

Last evening at dinner, I told the kids I’d had a bad day and explained very briefly/lightly why, and my Riley put her fork down and patted my hand and said, “Mom. I’m sorry you had a bad day. You are a good person.”

The sweetness of her offering comfort to me, well.

My sister called a little later and got the full blubbery treatment. It helped, talking with her.

Take a breathe.

Today while the kids were at camp I took the little dog for a walk. I had a moment of wanting to carry a sign qualifying, “Not my dog. I didn’t pick a Chihuahua.” But then, Yippee was so well behaved and cute and appreciative, smiling as he trotted his little legs so fast. On my walk I decided to lift myself up by looking for signs of abundance.

There was an abundance of sunshine today.

And abundance of cattails on the lake.

And abundance of blue in the sky.

An abundance of leaves on every tree.

An abundance of ripples on the water.

An abundance of health in my body, step after step after step.

An abundance of time in which to walk.

An abundance of stones on the path.

There was an abundance of air to breathe.

There was an abundance of Queen Anne’s Lace in the field.

A heron waited until I was just 15 feet away before taking flight. He flew with an abundance of ease, flapping his wide grey wings.

So much is good and right.

Breath, after breath, after breath,

there is abundance.

feeling BAD

I’ve never killed anyone.

I’ve never assaulted anyone.

When I was a kid, I was a bit of a bully. Not anything long standing or physical, but I would scorn children I deemed weak.

Once when I was teaching a class at a community college when I was about 25, I once mocked a student very subtly, because he was annoying. I don’t think he even got it, but some of the class did. In retrospect, I think the kid ever so slightly might have been on the spectrum. I didn’t know how to teach a college class. I was a last minute ringer for the semester. He kept throwing me, interrupting with irrelevant information. I smiled at him sarcastically and said, “That’s nice.” A girl in the back laughed. I still feel bad about that.

In my early 20’s I skipped a friend’s wedding reception because I was having a panic attack. I got in my car and ripped off my too tight dress and got on the highway and headed out of town toward home. I didn’t fathom the fact that it might take some of the joy out of her day if I went missing. I’d done a reading at the wedding. I wasn’t just a distant guest. This was before cell phones and I couldn’t call and let her know I was okay.

Years later, against my better judgement, I agreed to a bachelorette party about a month before my wedding. And then I agreed to the party leaving the place we were, and showing up at the bar where Todd’s ex was sure to be that night. Once we got there I felt like shit. We didn’t stay long. But I went. I didn’t stop it.

I once fiercely accused a friend of being competitive with me and it hurt her deeply.

I’ve kicked myself a hundred times for admitting as a guest blogger on another site a few months back to being hurt that some of the people I hoped would support my book, didn’t. Like seriously kicked myself, like I’m the biggest loser ever for admitting I had any expectations or that I felt hurt.

I recently had to address an issue involving a teacher and my kids, and felt like I was the one who should apologize, just for stating my valid concerns. I addressed another issue at camp this week and am having the same feelings.

Today I caught a whiff that I had stepped on a friend’s toes. Didn’t mean to, but I can see how she might be offended looking at it from her point of view.

A little mis-step like that can send me reeling into all the ways I am a bad person.

I seriously could go on and on.

But I’ve never killed anyone.

I’ve never assaulted anyone.

There’s that.


I’m turning off the comments on this one. Otherwise it just seems like I’m begging for a pep talk and then I’ll feel bad about that. I’ve thought what’s the point in even publishing this, but I think there is value in knowing we all go through it to some degree. I hope next time you are feeling “bad” you will remember what you would have said to me here, and instead, say it to you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go do the work to get myself out of this awful spiral. I’m going to take a breath, and start here.

Part of Me

I’m just going to come right out and admit it here amongst friends.

I saw the Katy Perry movie on Friday, and I liked it.

I never expected to. My little darling tween, asked if she could see the movie and for the first time ever if she could bring her friend L. And when your child asks for the first time ever to bring a friend anywhere, you do it. You do it gladly. Even if it’s the Katy Perry movie. Even if it’s in 3-D. Of course you force your husband to go along too, because you shouldn’t have to be the only one to endure it. So Friday it was Riley, L., Seth, Todd and I with our 3-D glasses and a purse full of snuck in healthy snacks (cheese sticks, grapes, cashews, coconut water) gearing up to watch the show.

There were previews. Many previews, and to that I said, bring them on! I will preview all night, because the air conditioning was so delicious. I could have slept there. I could still be there, and I’d be happy. After one of the previews, Riley leaned in and whispered to Seth, “That looks good, but a little inappropriate for us.” It did look good. And it was a little inappropriate for them. Good call Riley.

Finally the show began. I always thought of Katy Perry as kind of a silly, bubble gum princess. Imagine my surprise to find our she’s a real person? And even more surprising, a real artist with integrity. Now I realize the Katy Perry movie is designed to make her look good, but I really did end up liking her. Of course what’s not to like about Firework, but there is much more there. She’s really a sweet person. And honestly, the world could use more silly. More bubble gum. More happy. And that’s what she gives her fans. She makes them happy.

Riley and her friend didn’t stop chitter-chattering about it the whole way home.

“That was awesome!”

“I feel like I was actually at the concert!”

“It was sooooo good!”

As we rode along toward home Riley turned to her brother and with deep sincerity said, “Seth, I really hope you are a famous performer one day. I hope you live out your dream.”

Todd and I met each other’s eye and quickly looked away, smiling. If as children either of us had expressed a dream to be a famous performer, (which let’s face it, it’s a dream every kid has) to our siblings we’d have been quickly put in our place and laughed out of the room. The sweetness of their relationship still amazes me.

Part of Me was way better than I expected and definitely worth seeing. There were parts both happy and sad that were so poignant, I felt my throat tighten up. Call me surprised.

Riley initiated a shared experience with a friend for the first time ever, and walked away from the experience feeling inspired. She is still talking about the movie.

That right there is worth the price of admission.

My name is Michelle O’Neil, and I like Katy Perry.

Blessings at the Worst Post Office Ever

Our local post office is run by people who simply don’t give a rip. Often I drive way out of my way to go to the post office in the next town, so I don’t have to deal with the low energy apathy of our post office. The lines are long. The workers are often rude. It almost seems they take perverse pleasure in going as slow as they can.

So I was in a good mood the other day and felt I had enough emotional fortitude to deal with our post office. I went in and per usual the line was long.

At one point there were about 20 people waiting and only one employee working the counter. Then another employee came out and it seemed like relief, but the very next customer needed a passport, and the wind got sucked out of our sails.

But my good mood was there, and I began staring at the back of the head of the woman in front of me. She was a black woman with gorgeous, silver hair. I admired the color. She had her hair swept up off her neck. I dream about having a nice head of solid grey hair. And I’ve been trying to get braver about mentioning it when I admire something about someone. I think it is a good thing to do, whenever possible, but I don’t always do it.

At one point, she turned toward me and I blurted out, “I really love the color of your hair.”

She smiled and said she used to color it, and then she had two aneurysms in her brain, and needed surgery, and allowed it to grow in naturally, and wound up liking it. Then she told me the story of her aneurysms. No symptoms. She went in to the hospital for a pain in her leg, and a doctor she didn’t know came in and ordered an MRA. She thought he meant MRI and didn’t understand why she would need that for her leg.

Her own doctor came in the following morning and asked, “Who’s this cat that ordered the MRA?” (Direct quote, “Who’s this cat….”  Don’t you love it)? She told him she didn’t know.

Her doctor said, “Well, why don’t we go ahead with it.”

They did. And found two aneurysms, about to burst. She says the doctor who ordered the procedure is still a mystery to her. She says he was an angel.

This was just one of the stories she told me standing there in line.

I asked her name, and she said she goes by Fluffy. A nickname. I thought about telling her my name was Effie. Sometimes I sign my emails to select friends as “Effie” in honor of my finesse with, and love of, the F word.

I chickened out and told her my name was Michelle.

On my way out she was stopped at a table, fixing something or other, maybe her purse or another package, I don’t know. I said, “Good-bye, it was nice meeting you.” And she smiled at me and said, “It was nice meeting you too.” And then she said, “God bless you Michelle.”

And I felt it. I really did.

Right there in the worst post office ever, I felt blessed.

High Fructose Corn Syrup,Red #40, Yellow #5, Yellow #6 And Blue #1.

Camp is rolling along fine, and then it isn’t.

We’ve been back on the Specific Carb Diet for a couple of months(working our butts off). The kids are eating like champs. Lunches are brought from home so no big deal. Camp gives out snacks but I send substitutes. No big deal. They tell me when it’s going to be a special occasion and I send something special for the kids. Except when they don’t. Except when they out of the blue decide to give out popsicles. And I didn’t send anything popsicle-like for my two.

Seth couldn’t care less. He ate the apple he brought. Riley does not care about the food, she’s not craving the popsicle, but she cares about looking different. The first time this happened, she took the popsicle, and held it, pretending to eat it, then gave it to a friend. I was not aware it had even occurred.

But yesterday, it was too much. She did not take a popsicle, and then she had to field questions, “Why aren’t you eating a popsicle?” The questions were too much pressure. She ran and hid.

Then a group gathered around asking if she was okay, and that was the worst. More pressure. She cried. And then got a runny/bloody nose. And got a bit freaked out because everyone was looking at her and because she was crying in front of the little kids, “And I want to set a good example!” she wailed when she was explaining the whole thing to me yesterday afternoon.

Lying with Riley on her bed when she got home, we talk it through as she decompressed. My heart ached for her as I heard the tale. I fear they won’t let her be a counselor one day, (her dream) if she has problems at camp. We come up with a plan for homemade popsicles. Her aide had suggested it that morning, and I’d already called HT at work and asked him to stop at Bed Bath & Beyond on his way home to buy the molds(I’d already driven to Target for them but they didn’t have them), but we weren’t enough steps ahead. We missed it by a breath.

And even with homemade popsicles, we are not out of the woods, because these popsicles will look different than the popsicles they may or may not give out on any random day at camp. And there will be questions about the homemade popsicles. And questions are too much. Questions put you on the spot when you already don’t want to be different.

She liked the idea of the homemade popsicles, but still wasn’t sure she could manage the questions.

I asked her, “What if there were a little camper with diabetes and they couldn’t have the popsicles. Wouldn’t you feel good that you set an example of eating something different and healthy?”

“Yes, but there are no little campers with diabetes.”


We talked about how hard we’ve worked for her to be healthy and how hard we’ve worked to get all kinds of toxins out of her body and why would we want to dump a bunch of red-dye and chemicals back in?

She wailed, “I wish people would stop giving kids junk and then I wouldn’t have to be different! Why can’t we just have watermelon!!!” 

Some days they give out fruit and then she can partake.

I explained that I wished that too, but it wasn’t our job to be food police for the world.

I said, “Riley when you were little we did this diet for you, and our whole family did it to support you. And now, if it were only you, I’d probably just let you have the occasional popsicle, but now we are doing this for Seth. What if when someone asked you about your different popsicle, you said, “My brother is on a special diet and I am supporting him. Would that be okay?”

Magic words. Big smile. This she could get behind.

I called Seth in to make sure he was cool with this, and he was fine. Couldn’t care less.

We practiced, roll playing the scenario several times last night and in the car this morning.

Off they went to camp, with their homemade popsicles. I went to yoga.

I walked in the door at 11:09, just missing the call that came through at 11:07.

It was Riley on the answering machine.

“Mom. I’m having a hard time at camp,” she said in a sweet, sad little voice.

I called back and they said she was already back in the game. She’s fine.

I don’t know what the hard time was.

I don’t ‘effing know.

Five Wishes

HT and I watched the film Five Wishes recently. It is based on the book by Gay Hendricks and was featured in The Spiritual Cinema Circle in 2007.

In Five Wishes, a man has a poignant conversation with a stranger he meets at a party. The stranger asks him this question. “If you were on your death bed, and you felt your life had not been a success, what is the one thing that if you had done it differently would have made it a success?”

I’m not feeling ready to post my answers here, but wanted to share the question.

I dug around a bit and found the short film here if you are interested in watching it for free. This is the link to the book.

For me, it was a question worth pondering.