Relationship Goals

Same day, different observation. The two pictured above walked from the sand toward the shore. He in his little bathing suit. She in her bikini. I would say they were in their 70’s. They stopped several yards from the waves and lifted their arms up toward the heavens. Then, they began what can only be described as calisthenics. Arms up and back. Swinging. Bending. Clearly a routine they both knew. Describing it to HT he said, “Like Jack Lalane?”

“Yeah. Exactly.”

There was vibrancy in how they moved.

They appeared to be reveling in being active. In being active under the broad sky, looking out at the ocean and the horizon. They did not care about what they looked like. They weren’t hiding or covering anything up.

After their routine, they went into the water. She hanging back a little, going slow. He, diving in.

Their whole ritual took maybe twenty minutes. And they were off.

I was happy for them.

And I hoped HT and I get there some day, free, and happy, and out there in tiny bathing suits, not giving a rip about anything but the joy we feel in the moment. Not caring who knows it.

Rampage of Appreciation

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There is a little park in the neighborhood where our son goes to school. The school is about 30 minutes away from home. I drive all over the place teaching, and often there is a window, sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes two hours, where it does not make sense for me to drive home, and then drive back to get him. I go to the park. I went today.

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I bring my little beach chair, which is always in the car. I sit. Sometimes I close my eyes and meditate. I always have my Kindle. The cat tails sway in the breeze. I pay no heed to the “Beware of Alligators” signs. I just don’t think I’m delicious enough to worry about them. And I’ve never seen one there. Just iguanas. And ducks and pelicans.

There is public restroom at the park, which is vital.

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Today I was doing kind of an informal, open-eyed meditation. Just observing my surroundings and I couldn’t help but go into a rampage of appreciation. If you are familiar with the work of Abraham-Hicks, you understand the term. It’s an appreciation binge.

Suddenly, I was so very aware that someone(s) had planned this park. There were likely lots of meetings and red tape. Someone had the idea for it. Others built it. They cleared the space. They planted. They constructed. They mapped it all out and brought it to fruition.

All I had to do was show up.

They brought plumbing in for the bathrooms. They paved the sidewalk and the parking lot. They mow the grass and trim the shrubs. They maintain the dock that I sometimes sit and meditate on.

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And don’t even get me started on the natural beauty given freely from the Divine. Every leaf. Every ripple in the lake. Every bird song. The smell of grass and earth and blossoms. The cat tails in all their forms as the seasons change; the sound they make in the breeze. The cloud formations in the sky; a different show, every day. A pelican streaming head-first straight down into the water for his lunch. An iguana basking in the sun. The feel of a cup of warm tea in my hands, and the taste of a chocolate cookie, bought at a nearby bakery.

A quiet moment. A break in the day where I can take it all in.

We are surrounding by blessings.

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

-Meister Eckhart

15,779 Days

Standing in the kitchen with a calculator, my daughter informs me I am 15,779 days old. I’ll take her word for it.

My heart has dutifully pumped for 15,779 days. My lungs have breathed. Blood courses through my veins. I’ve rarely been physically hungry (unless self-inflicted).  My bones and muscles have held up my body. I walk. I smile. I cry.

15,779 days and my skin has miraculously healed every little cut, every big incision.

Babies grew in me.

I’ve been able to feed them every single day.

I’ve slept.

I’ve woken up every day.

I’ve given love and received love.

I’ve laughed.

I’ve been in pain.

I’ve caused pain.

I’ve sung a solo.

I’ve written a book.

I’ve ridden a dolphin.

I’ve looked into the most beautiful eyes in the world.

I’ve bathed in bliss.

I’ve steeped in angst.

I’ve touched the fur of a bat (softest thing I ever felt, second only to a giraffe’s lips, and my babies’ bottoms).

I’ve water skied, gotten up first try, and never water skied again in thirty years.

So many lifetimes packed into 15,779 days.

15,779 days, and still so much to do.

So much more to grow.

So much more to learn.

So much more to love.

The Makepeace Brothers and other good things

The Makepeace Brothers performed at the Agape Revelations Conference.

Listen to their song Thank You here. They are dreamy young men with a sound similar to Paul Simon.

Talk about a rampage of appreciation!

It was so good to go to the conference, and it is so good to be back. I’ve spent the last 24 hours breathing in my children and my husband.  One of the processes Abraham recommended at the conference was to enter any situation and find ten things to appreciate about it. So…I’m sitting in my kitchen presently, and here we go:

1) I love my childrens’ art all over the walls.

2) I love the black and white photo of my grandmother and my brother Donny when he was three. He is so little and adorable and I loved my grandmother.

3) I love the back story behind the photo, how Donny’s twin refused to be in the picture. He was mad at Gramma. I love that even then, he stood his ground and knew who he was.

4) I love the water cooler/filter that gives us pure clean water to drink without ever having to lug jugs around.

5) I love my baking stones, acquired over the years. A sheet, a muffin tin, a pizza stone. Heavy as hell, all piled on the shelf above my oven.

6) I love the clay plates the kids made. We use them a lot.

7) I love the string art Riley has been making with her tutor and I love how she is handling her emotions when she gets frustrated doing it.

8) I love the mats under the dog bowls, because they remind me of the concert we had to raise money for Jingle and all the love that poured toward us the second we surrendered and asked for help.

9) I love how Riley is playing Lego with her brother and how she is willing to join him in his passions.

10) I love my computer, and how easy it is to take and download pictures.

Ten things.

Easy.

And it really lifts your mood.

Gotta go read Harry Potter with the kids. We’re starting book four today. Wishing you a delicious day, filled with wonderful things to appreciate.

Love.

All is well….

Green mat, third in on the left, closest row.

I’m in LA. Typing this from my balcony on the 17th floor. The picture was taken yesterday at 7AM from my friend Kathy’s room. We are at the Agape International Spiritual Center’s Revelations Conference. Amazing speakers. Incredible music. Abraham was here today. So much to take in. So much expansion. So much love here. The energy is incredible.

I’ve met many wonderful people. I’ve been prayed for. I’ve been massaged. I’ve had energy work done on me. I’ve been singing and dancing.

I’ve talked to my Hot Toddy and the kiddos on the phone, and felt the love from there. I am so very full right now.

My life is a good life.

And it is only getting better.

I love my family. I love my friends. I love the breeze blowing through my hair. I love my understanding of spirituality.  I love knowing I am one of God’s perfect ideas, and so are you. I love the sounds of happy people swimming in the pool 17 stories below. I love knowing I will be going to a banquet tonight, and there will be music. GOOD music, and I love knowing I’ll be dancing.

Ripples and ripples of appreciation for it all.

Amen.

Virtual Choir

Okay, I know this is really gorgeous, but it’s also somehow unsettling to me. Yes, the music is hauntingly beautiful. But I have to admit, the balls floating around with all those faces in the videos do wig me out a bit. All those heads bobbing around reminds me of the pictures hanging on the walls in Harry Potter, where the people in the paintings are alive.

It also drives home the fact that we are, have already, moved into a different world. It makes me think of a time in the future, when the earth is uninhabitable and we’re all floating on space ships or something. Perhaps Mommy’s watched too much Wall-E? I heard somewhere recently (was it Gayle King on XM radio?) that people today receive 300 times more information in a day, than they used to in an entire lifetime.

Technology.

I love it. I love how we can connect with people all over the world, but it seems vitally important to deliberately make time to back away from the screen and connect with real people. And I know that sentiment isn’t anything new. We all say it. And I am a big offender of too much computer time.

It’s just, no matter how beautiful a “virtual” choir is, you can’t beat the real thing.

But then again, that kind of thinking is limited. It isn’t either/or, it’s AND and MORE.

In the ever evolving expansion of the Universe, there is room for it all.

We get to have both. We get to have everything.

And that is good.

The Tutors Have Arrived

So I think I mentioned here before how Riley was granted the Ohio Autism Scholarship. What that means is we now have two different tutors coming to the house a total of 8 hours per week, and they are teaching math, science, and Spanish (using music and art). They are seasoned teachers. They are loving and warm. They “get” Riley, and let me tell you the teachers who get her always fall in love, and that process has started.

While Riley is working on math with her tutor, Seth and I read a bit of Indiana Jones, then we do other important things. Sometimes we do a meditation, sometimes we do an abundance/appreciation exercise, sometimes we have a tickle fight. Sometimes we put our faces very close together and say, “You have one eye,” over and over. Seth and I rarely had time like this when he was tiny.

Your hat’s in my eye.”

Former State Rep. Jon M. Peterson, (a Republican!) is responsible for the creation of the scholarship Riley is receiving. I’ve heard he has a daughter with a form of autism. It is one of the first special ed voucher systems in the country. Parents who decide to pull their kids with autism from school may receive up to 20K per year in tutoring services by approved providers under the scholarship. Services must coincide with IEP goals, and therapies not specifically written into the child’s IEP are not covered. The school district is getting money (a lot more than 20K) from the state for Riley. It is only fair some of it should be spent on her, especially since she was not thriving in school.

It’s been two weeks since the tutors arrived. We are enjoying the support. Riley is fully engaged. We’ve learned as far as education goes, not to look too far ahead, but for now we’re in a good place.

If you’ll excuse me I’m going to go do something I’ve never done before. Write a thank you note to a Republican.

Riley’s always teaching.

This Cat

We got her at a shelter when we lived in Virginia. She was the lone calico kitten, and Riley wanted a calico. All the other cats were crammed together in little rooms, but she had her own cage up front, and she was chillin’ in a hammock…the kind you see ferrets lounging in at pet stores.

She’s a bit of a prima donna. Very vocal. For the first few years, she would sit beside you, but did not want to be held. If you pet her the wrong way, she let you know it. Now, suddenly, being held is acceptable. She doesn’t fight it.

She drove the stray we took in after her, to a nervous breakdown, trapping her under Seth’s box spring and not letting her out. We wound up giving that cat to my sister. (No need to thank me Kelli).

I’ve had good cats in my life. The kind who melt in your arms, and purr at your feet. She’s not one of them. I’ve always had the feeling she’s out for herself. We humans are a means to a full food bowl, and a clean litter box and nothing more. Riley loved her unconditionally anyway. She didn’t know any other type of cat. She doesn’t know any other type of love.

Meow.

Meow.

MEOW!

But lately, lately…this kitty is softening up. She’s getting cuddlier. She sits in my lap and snuggles. She doesn’t squirm when you pick her up.

Who is this affectionate bundle of color? And what have you done with Ms. Cranky Pants?

Nevermind. I don’t really want to know.

Whatever is making her happy, we’ll take it.

Beautiful Friend

Yesterday I received a package of photos of my friend Clarissa, who died of cancer in November. The box sat there all day. I was not going to open it with kids clamoring all over it/me. After I put them to bed, I locked myself in our bedroom and with little kid scissors, began cutting the tape off the large box.

It was strange. I almost felt like I was opening her grave, but she doesn’t have a grave, and I knew she wasn’t in the box. I felt a little shaky.

Clarissa and I were friends since 1992 or 3 when I moved to the DC area to try my hand at radio. We worked together at the Unistar Radio Network and stayed in touch over the years. I always felt kind of lucky and honored that she liked me. She was a private person and didn’t let a lot of people in.

She moved a couple of times since we worked together but most recently found herself back in the DC area, in Northern Virginia.

We stayed in close touch via e-mail and phone but had not physically seen each other in years when we decided, in 2009 to meet halfway in W. Virginia and have a girly night. We stayed in a hotel, ate dinner(Indian food), walked around, looked in art galleries. We stayed up late, talking. She didn’t appear ill at all, she walked faster than I did. We knew her body was wracked with cancer. They weren’t trying to cure it anymore, just buying time.

If there is someone you are wishing to see, make the time. I’m so glad we did this. I can’t even explain how glad I am we did this. To have seen her. Hugged her. Driven around with her in her old VW with the windows down, hot wind whipping through our hair. It means everything.

Clarissa was devoutly unsentimental, but she was an exceptionally good person. She worked hard. She did the right thing. She was a devoted daughter, tenderly caring for her elderly mother in the years before her mom died. Neither she nor her beloved mother ever suspected at the time that Clarissa would follow so closely behind her.

Looking around our home, there are so many reminders of her. Little mementos. A picture on our mantel of two hands forming themselves into a heart. A wall-hanging in my kitchen with a poem. More love. A book she sent me on “civility,” a subtle hint about swearing too much on my blog. Don’t get me wrong, she could swear like a sailor, but she’d not do it in writing! She read my blog every single day. She loved it. No higher an honor. No better validation than Clarissa Douglas approving of your writing. She was an incredible writer. She was a radio anchor for decades, her voice a soothing gorgeous alto.

I miss her most, when I think of something I want to share with her; a book, a movie, (she loved books and movies) and then realize I can’t.

Speaking of e-mail, when I’m in my address book, if I  happen to hit the first letter of her last name all the “D’s” pop up and hers in first on the list. My stomach sinks seeing her name there, reminding me she’s not here.

She was a beautiful woman. I was so blessed to be her friend.

Today I’m feeling a little tender about her. HT has the morning off and I’m spending it in my office, just being with it, allowing the feelings. Clarissa would be like, “Fine, take the morning, but no wallowing. Get on with it. You’re not the first person to have a friend die.”

But she never had a friend like her.

Would the teenage part of yourself be happy with who you are now?

Last night I had the good fortune of seeing Troubadours of Divine Bliss at Unity Center of the Heights. They are hard to explain. Kind of like The Indigo Girls but their songs mostly speak of Divine love, and with an accordion.

They were awesome! I have to say, I’ve been manifesting so many wonderful things as of late. I’d never heard of this band before, and suddenly there I was, blissing out listening to their inspiring music! Honoring the concept of Law of Attraction, whenever I am enjoying something lately, I’ve taken to appreciating myself for manifesting it. Go me! I figure I blame myself enough when things go wrong, it’s only fair to take credit when they go right!

During the set, they mentioned a question asked of them in a recent interview:

Would the teenage part of yourself be happy with who you are now?

Food for thought, no?

Not trying to sound conceited, but I believe my teen self would think I’m awesome. I have busted through so many barriers. Physically, mentally, educationally, financially, emotionally, spiritually. My teenage self didn’t think she was worth a damn. She had no idea Who She Was.

I’ve become the parent my teen self wished she’d had. I say that not with blame, or to inflict shame. My parents were 17 and 18 when they married. My father suffered horrible abuse as a child. My mother carried her own pain. They were unhealed kids, hoping the other would fix it, and neither had any tools.

Back to me….LOL. I’m so much more free now than when I was a teen, and I keep on growing in that area. Riley did that. Oh how I fought against it at first, but my daughter taught me how “different” can bring great freedom with it. She can’t be like everybody else. It’s not what she came here to do. Parenting her like “everyone else” was never going to work. Letting go has brought such richness to our experience.

My teenage self was dealing with so much. She acted tough, but she was always so afraid. I think she’d be happy to know I led her safely to 42. I think she’d love the kids. She always loved kids. I think she’d tell me to dress cooler and wear more jewelry. She’d appreciate HT’s integrity, and love who he is as a father. She’d insist I dance more.

I think she’d say, “You’re doing good.”

She knows proper grammar, but has never been a stickler for it. Kind of an “in your face” to a system that underestimated her.

She’d be glad I write.

She had a lot to say.

U23D in Cleveland

So we’ve been living here in Cleveland for over three years and had yet to make it to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Yesterday was the day, and I’m so glad we waited.

Our impetus for going was the Michael Jackson exhibit, for Seth. And yes, he got to see Michael’s glove. His red jacket for Thriller. A couple more outfits. One of his Grammy awards.

The museum is expensive. It cost about sixty bucks for us to get in, and Seth was free. Plus, they don’t allow cameras! We took the above photos in the lobby, but they wanted you to check your camera at the entrance (hell to the no…I respect your rule but I ain’t givin’ you my camera. She spent her time in HT’s pocket). There was a lot to see, and if you are a Rock & Roll connoisseur, maybe it is worth it. I picture it being really meaningful if you work in a record store, or in the music industry. I liked seeing Stephen Tyler’s microphone stand with the scarves up close. I liked seeing the dresses Stevie Nicks had worn. Some of Mick Jaggar’s clothes. The Elvis stuff. I mean, it was interesting, but not all that.

Then we went to see the U23D movie.

And it was worth the cost of admission. It was phenomenal. This isn’t like any old 3D movie. The technology was unbelievable. I’ve seen U2 in concert and this was better. It was like being two feet away from the band. You could see the hairs on The Edge’s arm. Bono practically touched my face at one point. He was singing to me. He wanted to wipe my tears away. My tears. It was freaking amazing.

I’d been neglecting U2. Taking them for granted.

Never again.

Up this close,you could really witness the relationship between the band members. The four of them are soul mates. The love between them, palpable. No question Bono is the star of the band, but he relies on the others, he draws energy from them. He is so demonstrative, constantly touching them, leaning on them. There is great love and respect between them. They are a powerful presence and their message is so positive and good.

And the crowd! This concert took place in Argentina, and the crowd was one big organism.

“One.”

Such love in that audience.

I’m not ashamed to admit I was ecstatic during this movie. Sitting there with my girl on one side, my boy on the other,HT on the other side of him. My girl at a U2 concert! Loving it! She was in it. Not overwhelmed at all. And I would know because she held my hand the whole time and if she’s scared she squeezes it. Seth sang along. Who knew he knew the words? How cool are we? The O’Neils at a U2 concert on a Friday afternoon.

Okay, yes it was a movie. But still!

If you get the chance to see U23D, do. You’ve never seen anything like it.

If you weren’t a U2 fan already, you will be.

Jancy

This is Jan C. Snow, aka Jancy. She’s a writer, an artist, a musician, a mother, a grandmother and a friend. She is one of the MVP’s in Windsong, Cleveland’s Feminist chorus.

Jan knows all the fun, (and often free) things to do in Cleveland.

For instance, a couple of months back, we enjoyed a Wednesday lunchtime performance of the GroundWorks Dance Theater at Trinity Cathedral.

Last week she was with us at Orchid Mania at the Botanical Gardens, free if you have a season pass, which we do.

She recently went on vacation to Florida and Peurto Rico, and provided us her itinerary, so we could make a homeschool thing of it. We learned about the Burmese Python problem in the Florida Everglades, and the bio-luminescent waters of Puerto Rico, among other things.

She is well traveled and gave us a bunch of coins from all around the world to use as inspiration for our homeschool endeavors. The kids have especially enjoyed learning about the Maori people of New Zealand.

Jan is a very sensitive person herself and she really “gets” Riley. Jan also refuses to sit next to me at chorus if I have on scented lotion, if I’m chewing Juicy Fruit gum, or if there is too much cat hair on my clothes. She has perfect pitch and thinks nothing of leaning over to correct you if you are off your note. Prior to Riley, this might have offended me. Now, I love Jan all the more for it. Jan “gets” Riley. I “get” Jan. We’re all good. And really, I need to know when I’m not on my note.

Jan is the one who wrote the song I mentioned in this post, about giving yourself permission to set some things down when you are carrying more than you can handle.

She also wrote one of my very favorite songs Windsong performs, called Away Ye Merry Lassies. Give it a listen. It is so much fun to sing. And yes, that’s Jan, playing the dulcimer on that track.

She recently taught Riley how to knit. After her first lesson, as we were leaving, Riley stood on Jan’s front porch and said,

“Jan, you really inspire me.”

Yes, Riley. That about sums it up.

Meandering


It had been a long week. Too many appointments. Not enough down time. HT had to work the weekend, and yesterday I woke, not quite wanting to climb back into my life.

“When is your next day off?” I mumbled to him.

“Tomorrow,” he said.

I closed my eyes and nodded. Good.

“It just happens to coincide with your next day off,” he added.

With that, I hoisted myself into our day.

It was a big one for Riley. She’d been invited to a party and was going unaccompanied by me. I had to skip chorus to be available at a moment’s notice. I love chorus and quietly resented missing it. But she is not invited to many parties, and this one was with a mom I trust implicitly. It was a good one for her to forge on her own. Still, if she had a hard time I did not want the mom to have to deal with it, and take away from her enjoyment of her daughter’s party. I was on call, just down the street.

Seth and I stayed home, had rare and precious one-on-one time. We made snacks. We watched a movie, all snuggled up together with Yippee the Chihuahua and Sam the cat on his chest, together in perfect harmony. (Yippee usually chases Sam). We also got Seth started on his second oil painting. This time he’s painting the same thing he painted last time. Another portrait of Yippee. From a different angle. A profile. What can I say? He’s passionate about his puppy.

Riley did beautifully at the party, BTW. She had fun. Not enough can be made of that.

So today is my “day off,” though I do have to coach Girls on the Run later. I went for a long walk this morning over crunchy snow. It felt good to have the sun shine on my face. Forget sunscreen. I just want to feel it beaming into my skin at this point in winter. Suck up that vitamin D.

Despite the lovely time with Seth, by last night I was feeling caged in. I get that way often enough. Not so much since Todd changed his schedule and is no longer working a 7 day in a row shift. But there it was. This feeling of a total “disappearance” of me.

I firmly believe I’d be a better mother if I could get out of here and work part-time. We have not yet been able to figure out how that would be possible with Todd’s all-over-the-place work schedule, and our kids who can’t be left with just anyone.

I know it’s all relative. Some women wish they could stay home with their kids. Do I have a right to my feelings, anyhow?

The other day a FB friend complained about her  kids being home from school, (snow day or such)and how it interfered with her work at home schedule, and it hit a nerve. I wanted to yell through cyber-space BUT YOUR KIDS CAN GO TO SCHOOL, CAN’T THEY? THEY’RE HEALTHY,RIGHT? YOU DO HAVE AN AMAZING CAREER, DON’T YOU?”

Again, it’s all relative, she has a right to her feelings too. Of course she does.

The grass is always greener. No path is perfect.

Very few men have to juggle work around their kids. I feel victimy about it sometimes, but I know men have their own vulnerabilities and pain. Todd would actually love to be a stay at home dad. Working in a hospital pharmacy is not his dream, no matter how good at it he is.

Today on my walk, I visualized the life I want. If I could choose it out of a catalog, what my schedule would look like, what the kids would be doing, etc. How much time I would need to really feel a balance between being me and making sure their all encompassing needs are met.

We’re really not so far off.

It’s possible.

Seeing it is important.

Appreciating all we do have, is the key to unlock the door.

And so…off I go to do my daily rampage of appreciation.

Ciao. May you have a beautiful day.

Talk Nerdy to Me

‘Cause I love having my mind blown…

And this is one reason why homeschooling does not scare me that much. We have no idea what world they will be living in or what we’re even preparing them for. We may like to think we do, but we don’t. It’s changing so fast. All I know is Riley, Seth (and I) are constantly, enthusiastically learning. We don’t know of boredom.

  • Mother
  • Spiritual growth enthusiast
  • Married to a great guy
  • Law of Attraction buff
  • Writer
  • Thinker
  • Traveler
  • Nature lover
  • Friend
  • Likes to help
  • Sets healthy boundaries
  • Autism resource
  • Choral singer
  • Yoga student

What words will appear on your shirt in the future?

*P.S. If you watch the video, wait ’til after the applause for a couple of questions and imagine how this technology might help those with autism and others with communication difficulties.

((Hugs))

The only thing better than being a boy obsessed with Lego, and having a new Lego to put together…

is when your sister, whom you adore, suddenly, inexplicably, begins sharing your interest with you.

Here they are, beginning to work on one of Seth’s Christmas presents. We like to space things out. Save some for a snowy day. Seth is so happy she is playing Lego with him. Letting him lead. He is the Lego expert you know.

In other news, Riley hugged HT the other day. She is not a cold unaffectionate person by any means, and always allows our affection, but it was the first time she spontaneously hugged him, and he could not wait to tell me. It’s one of those things an outsider just does not get. If you were hanging out with us, you wouldn’t assume she’d never hugged her dad on her own before. It would be a given for most kids.

My dear friend’s husband died when her son was just five. She says, one of the hardest parts has been…the feeling of there not being another person who knows stuff like this. Shared intimate moments about your kid. Only Todd and I know what Riley looked like the morning when she was six months old, and he returned from a business trip and we lay in bed, and she showed him how she had learned to clap while he was away.

Only the two of us remember when Seth used to say, Yi Yuv You Yie-yee, (I love you Riley).

So when he tells me she hugged him, I get it. The depth of it, reflected in the glint of his eyes as he smiles.

When she shares her brother’s interest, we know what a big deal it is.We’ll remember it.

The gift of autism, for us, is we don’t tend to take things for granted.

I mean, sometimes we do, but typically we don’t.

She makes our lives so much richer.

Just ask her dad.

Who Do I Think I Am?

Last week the living room went from garish yellow to cappuccino. I like.

Today The Maids came. My sister bought me a gift certificate almost a year ago and I never used it ’til now. And only now because they called and said it would expire soon. And I knew I’d catch hell if I let that happen. And I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, because I’m not.

You see….I dream of having a cleaning service. I wish for it all the time. But there is always a reason not to. Money. That’s the big one of course. I never could justify it.

But wait, there’s more.

Today when The Maids arrived, I cringed at their big yellow car with its big advertisement parked in my driveway.

The neighbors will think I’m too lazy to clean my own house.
The neighbors will think we’re loaded.
The neighbors will judge me, I mean, I’m not even employed outside the home.
The neighbors will think, the neighbors will think, the neighbors will think.

Ludacris, I know, but there it was.

A team of four piled into the house and immediately set to work. One in the bathroom. One in the kitchen. One upstairs, one downstairs. They were hell on wheels. Two hours, four people scrubbing my house spic and span.

The maids are probably disgusted with my house.
The maids have probably never seen so much dust on a ceiling fan.
The maids probably resent having to scrub someone else’s toilets and floors.


I hid in our bedroom with the kids and the dogs, frantically e-mailing HT and my friend Betsy for pep talks. They delivered. ((LOVE)).

Yesterday, I spent a considerable amount of time, removing clutter from dresser tops, the dining room table, etc., boxing it up and putting it in the basement or my office so The Maids even could clean.

How am I constantly de-cluttering and still always finding more stuff piling up? Actually I recently figured out using the term “de-cluttering” is part of it. The energy behind the word is “anti.” I need a new word. I am not de-cluttering, I’m creating space. I’m organizing. I’m beautifying.

Anyway…this whole experience of having The Maids here was very eye opening. Very ridiculously stressful. Very shining a light on unhealed aspects of myself and saying, “Yoo-hoo? You ready to deal with this? Is now a good time?”

Before answering the question, I ran to the kitchen cabinet and ate four cookies. I knew I was emotionally eating. I knew. But you know what? It’s okay. I’ve done a lot worse than four cookies, and there was awareness, even as I dunked those babies in my coffee.

This isn’t about the neighbors. This isn’t about the maids. This isn’t even about money.

The issue is worthiness. It always is.

Who am I to have a good life?

Who am I to have help?

Who am I to ask for and/or receive support?

Who do I think I am?

Sitting here in my nice clean house, I am thankful.

One more layer peeled off.

Thankful to have this experience.

Thankful to have the luxury, the time and space to think about my response to these questions.

Homeschool Co-Op

This is Riley, (below right), enjoying a quiet lunch with two other girls at the homeschool co-op. The three of them decided to excuse themselves from the busy gym and eat in one of the classrooms.

“Mom, can I go eat with A & H please?”

Um, yeah. Why yes Riley, you may.

Friday was the last day of this session, (our second with the group) and it was sharing day where tables are set out and everyone can look at what the kids were working on in each class. I taught a class on dogs this time around.

We learned about service dogs.

And breeds.

Grooming (everyone got a turn brushing Jingle)

And lots of other things like canine body language vs. human body language, how dogs see, taste, hear, etc. Where dogs come from on the evolutionary scale, how they got to be domesticated, and on and on. You should have seen me pulling curriculum out of thin air! It was a stretch coming up with eight weeks of material, but mostly it was a success.

Children in the co-op sign up for two classes each, with an hour for lunch and recess in the middle. My kids were in the dog class for block A.

Jingle lives for co-op.

For block B, Riley enjoyed a scrap-booking class, not taught by me. Or assisted by me. Or requiring a single thing of me. The whole time.

Me? I sat outside of the class and worked on material for my next week’s dog class. Like it was nothing! Just another mom, not having to be in her kid’s class with her. That’s right baby, check me out!

Seth took a class called Discovering your Artist’s Eye. He learned about positive and negative space, drawing using different sides of the brain by turning objects upside down and sideways. Using grids to ensure correct proportion. That kind of thing.

Other classes offered included Spanish.

Oragami

There was even a class on “How to be a knight,” which was adorable. A bunch of rambunctious little boys learning how to be chivalrous, all while using homemade swords they helped saw, and shields they cut out themselves. They even sewed their silver knight costumes!

There were other classes too, one on theatrical and other games, there is a Girl Scout troup that meets during Block B. A nursery for the little ones and a class for preschool age kids. I’m probably forgetting something. Classes change up every session and parents are expected to teach or assist or help out with set-up/clean-up. There are between 40 and 60 kids in this co-op at any given session. I’ve so enjoyed meeting all the parents.

It has truly been a blessing to us. (HT got verklempt the first session, seeing Riley sitting in a small classroom, relaxed, engaged, learning without intense anxiety and fear).

On the way home Friday, in the van, I said, “Riley, I am so glad you have Asperger’s. There was so much about school that didn’t make sense for any of us, but if you’d not been such a sensitive person we never would have realized it. It’s because of you that we are homeschooling, and we get to go to co-op, and do so many other amazing and fun things together, and spend time with so many nice people. I appreciate you.”

She’s taken us down a different path and many gifts have come with it. She is such a blessing.

She thought about this for a minute, then said,

“And I couldn’t do all the things we get to do without your support. I appreciate you, Mom.”

Imagine, from where we’ve been, to this?

A sense of calm came over me. We’re okay. Rolling along, I felt all doubt melt away. We are where we need to be right now.

Things have a way of working out.

Sometimes I feel like such a boob

What is it about this moment that is so delicious?

I’m in my office. Todd has taken the kids with him to get groceries. It is quiet. It is the first moment of solitude I’ve been able to carve out in two weeks. I’m sitting in a chaise, laptop on my lap, and the sun is making a spotlight beam with dust flakes dancing through it. My office is a mess. Papers on the floor. Not such a mess though that I couldn’t get it together in twenty minutes. Lived in, not completely run over.

I like this space. It is mine, entirely mine. A pink oxford shirt hangs over my desk chair. Odd because I don’t usually wear that style, a bit preppy for my taste, but there it is. I was cold and pulled it out of my closet that day and it’s been hanging there for a couple of weeks.

Two plaster casts of my pregnancies sit atop the highest book shelf in my room. What was I thinking making sculptures of my enormous belly and boobs? Why didn’t HT stop me? I was watching A Baby Story on TLC a lot and everyone was doing it, so there you go. It was so important to me at the time, and felt so artsy, and now it just seems hilarious.

Makes me wonder, what am I taking so damn seriously now, that will be comical to me in ten years?

Lighten up, baby.

That’s my motto for today.

When I feel anxious, I’m just going to think about my boobs-o-plaster, and tell myself, this too shall pass.

Appreciation Saturday

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While the guy is painting our living room downstairs, Riley, Seth, Jingle, Yippee, the cats, and I are piled into the bedroom. The kids are watching TV while I type away. Seriously, why don’t we do this every day? So cozy and fun! I am in love with technology. How is it I can sit here wireless, writing under a big down comforter? It is still such a miracle to me. How is it we have electricity? Phones? Cell phones? Plumbing? It is all so amazing. Someone figured it all out, and I didn’t have to. I don’t have to do everything! I can just come along and reap the rewards. The Universe is abundant, I tell ‘ya. People who invented these things, wherever you are…I appreciate you. I love brilliant minds. I love learning.

Did you know there is a website called Khan Academy where you can learn just about anything?

I am really loving the whole learning at home thing lately. I admit we did it out of necessity initially, but more and more it makes sense for our family. And cue sunshine and rainbows please….we recently were approved for the Ohio Autism Scholarship for Riley which will allow us to have a tutor come to our home during the week to teach her(at no cost to us). I cannot tell you how much this will help our family. This is the best case scenario. She gets to be home, but we don’t have to bear the full responsibility of teaching her. We don’t have to do everything! This will afford us more one-on-one with Seth, and allow me to get things done around the house while the tutor is here.

I used to joke, “I’d love for her to be homeschooled; I just wish someone else would do it.”

Dreams do come true.

I’ll never forget the relief I felt in her pre-kindergarten year, when the wonderful private teacher we hired said, “I’d like to take care of the educational piece, so you can just be her mom.” She was a special needs parent too, so she knew. For so long I’ve had to be everything. Doctor, advocate, attorney, teacher, nutritionist, coach, you name it. I am feeling sweet relief.

We are finding now that Riley doesn’t have to keep it together 35 hours a week at school, (with homework on top of that) she is much more sociable. She is starting conversations (in small groups). She is joyful. She can follow a conversation through lots of twists and turns. We belong to a co-op which meets on Fridays and has anywhere between 40-60 kids each session. There are very small classes. Each child picks two classes and there is an hour long recess in between where children can eat and play. At first she stuck with her brother like glue but the last couple of weeks she’s been hanging with the girls her age. An outsider looking in would never be able to pick her out of the crowd as “the kid with autism.” She is more relaxed. Part of it has to do with the company.

This is what I’ll tell you about the homeschooled kids we have met.

-They are polite.
-They are kind.
-They do not feel “entitled” and are respectful not just of adults but of other children.
-They are not particularly competitive.
-They are creative.
-They seem to nurture each other.
-They happily eat nutritious food.
-They are accepting.
-They are happy with a big long thick rope, playing tug of war. Piling on. Dragging each other around, all over the gym, for as long as we let them.
-They are enthusiastic learners.

So, it is going well.

And of course, one of the very best things about being home is the ample time the kids get to spend with their animals.

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Some days are more challenging than others, but today is a good day, and it deserves a mention. Good coffee. Good kids. Good dogs. Good computer. Comfy bed.

Date night tonight with Hot Toddy. We’re seeing The King’s Speech.

Life is good, yo.

For real.

Love.