Thursday, December 31, 2009


Today, the eve of a new year, is a blue moon. No accidents. Let's make next year rare and special in its love.

Are you in?

* Photo from


And happy 18th anniversary to me! Can't talk now, off to celebrate wedded bliss, but I'll leave you with this thought for 2010, a great quote from your friend and mine, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama:

"May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those that have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Portland got a sneak attack of snow today, at least I hadn't heard a word about it. Could be it was blasted all over the news: TV, radio, Internet. I wouldn't know. I was stuck in front of MarioKart. All. Day. Long. Anyway, long about lap 2,002 Rojo caught a glimmer of something out of his peripheral vision, and announced it was snowing. Sure enough, it was, and it kept up until we had quite a few inches accumulate.

I'm grateful we were all home, safe and sound. When I finally did turn on the news it was filled with nightmare stories of traffic at complete standstills for hours, five minute commutes taking 3 1/2 hours, accidents galore.

What gets me most about the snow is the quiet. After a day of listening to electronic sounds buzz, cheer, crash and race, the quiet is a relief from all that. There is a stillness that snow enforces, and I welcome that.

And it better all be gone by tomorrow because I have plans.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Wooho has her dearest friend, K., visiting for the winter break. Her friend lives in China now, but comes back to Portland each summer and December. The two girls pick up right where they left off and there isn't a doubt in my mind they will be friends for life, and indeed, are soul mates - mates of the soul.

K. is the same friend of Mary Christ fame, an expression I've stolen and am now passing off as my own on a daily basis. I actually cooked dinner tonight and the five of us sat around the table and enjoyed the time together. After STM and Rojo excused themselves, the girls and I got into an interesting discussion about God, Jesus, heaven, hell, souls, reincarnation and angels.

K. asked if we'd gone to Mass on Christmas or Christmas Eve and we said no. Then Woohoo said, "I don't believe in that. I don't think you have to go to church. I don't believe you'll go to hell if you don't. I don't even know if I believe in God."

"I think Jesus is a myth," K. said. Woohoo quickly chimed in with her agreement and promptly added that the last 10+ years of religion classes are all a bunch of bull, and Jesus didn't die to save us, and that doesn't even make sense.

I got to quickly throw in my theories on enlightenment, reincarnation, Jesus' personification of love, and that indeed, I believe love WILL save us, and perhaps that was the message.

"What's up with angels?" K. asked. "Are they dead or are they alive? Are they here or not? I've been meaning to ask you that."

"Both," i answered. "I believe angels are enlightened beings. Some have chosen to remain in this realm to help us in a tangible way. Some are in the spirit realm and help us in other ways. I think there are angels among us and angels all around us. Both."

"Like Rojo," Woohoo said, "although I can't believe any angel would swear as much as he does."

* Photo from

I'm a routine girl. Give me a routine and let me stick to it, and I'm a happy, happy girl. I'm out of my routine during this l-o-n-g winter break. Way out. So far out I can't see my routine from here. This happens every vacation and I fight it every time.


This time I'm trying something new. I'm trying to detach from my routine, knowing it will be there waiting for me in seven (short!) days, and I'll be able to pick it back up and cloak myself in it soon enough. In the meantime there is a new routine to accept - the no routine, routine. The one where instead of doing laundry and emptying the dishwasher as my compulsive nature would so glory in, it has me playing Mario Kart on the Wii with Rojo before I've even had breakfast. It has me not making any plans so that I can go with the flow of the day as it unfolds, instead of forcing a clock on a day that has no sense of time. It has me walking by rooms that need cleaning, rugs that need shaking, gifts that need to be put away, and counters that need wiping. It has me walking away from what doesn't even matter in the scheme of things, and straight into the arms of what does.

Rojo looked at me yesterday after we'd been hanging together, spontaneously made the sign of the cross on his forehead, chest and shoulders while saying, "Cross my heart and never die, mother of Jesus."

I would have missed that if I'd been anywhere but right there.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


STM tried to get Rojo out shopping for me for Christmas. "I know what she wants," he said with assuredness. "I don't need to go shopping. I'm going to give her a big hug for Christmas."

He was right.

That's what I wanted. I hope you all get what you want, too.

I wish you all the merriest of Christmases, the happiest of holidays, the brightest of new years.

Love, love and more love.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Rojo is in 7th grade and already his friends are talking a lot about where they're going to go for high school. We don't know where Rojo is going to go to high school (and all prayers/candles/burnt offerings are welcome). We dodge the question every time he brings it up. He's already established the fact that he's going to go to college here in Portland, live at home, and just be gone from 8-3, same as now. From his lips to God's ears.

Today, driving all over town with me he piped up from the back seat, "I don't think I'm going to go to college after all."

"Oh, you aren't?" I asked.

"Noooooooo," he answered rather sassily, "remember? Duh? I'm going to get MARRIED? I'm going to be a DAD? Remember?"

"I didn't forget, but I didn't know you were planning on getting started so soon!"

"Yes, I am. And I'm going to wear a nice dress at my wedding."

"OH!" I said a little too cheerily.

"Yes, remember how for the Advent program we had to wear a nice dress? I'm going to wear a nice dress for my wedding, too."

Got it.

* Photo from

Monday, December 21, 2009


Rojo spent Friday night at my in-laws. Bright and early Saturday morning, in anticipation of seeing Kunga, he persuaded my mother-in-law to brave the mall and take him Christmas shopping for a gift for Kunga. 8:50 AM had them outside Barnes & Noble waiting for them to open, and to their joyous surprise, they already were. By 9:30 they were already home and wrapping Kunga's gift.

This is the first and only time Rojo has initiated picking out a present for another person. He's been badgered into picking something for others but has never actually stopped to consider what they would want. Until now. Apparently he really took his time, looking carefully at several books before making his selection. Rojo himself is not big on books, but he knows Kunga is.

The gift tag said," To: Jo Jo From: Jo Jo" in Rojo's writing. The Tibetan's use cho-cho for brother, Kunga and Rojo call each other Cho-Cho Kunga and Cho-Cho Rojo, but it sounds a lot like Jo Jo.

The minute, and I do mean minute, Kunga walked in the door, Rojo handed him the gift and said, "Here, do you want it?"

He did.

Rojo had picked out a book about puppies - just right for a four-year-old. Just right to give a Buddhist for Christmas. Just right from one brother to another.

* Photo from

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Had a great weekend - my brother, sister-in-law and the cutest four-year-old in the world came up. Forts were made, food was eaten, kids chased each other around the Christmas tree. It was perfect.

Rojo had us all gathered in the living room several times for "church" - a variation on the "yelling game," whereby he mostly sings, "Glooooory, glory to God, gloooooory in the hiiiiiiiiighest" approximately 321 times. In a row. My nephew Kunga prevailed, however, and "church" became a sing-along. We sang "Frosty the Snowman," "Jingle Bells," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Deck the Halls" (with bows of jolly), and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas!" My mom came over both days and it was just plain fun.

After Kunga and Rojo went to bed last night we watched a silly movie then old episodes of "Bewitched" On Demand- took my brother and me right back to our childhood like nothing else quite could, and to a good place.

My brother reminded me of a Christmas Eve service my mom dragged us both to as adults. The service was so bad, the singing so off-key, and the whole thing so hilarious, we both got the giggles and embarrassed my poor mother to death. To this day all my brother has to do is start to sing "Tiny King" and I'm hysterical with laughter.

It's good to be together again with your family of origin every now and then, to see where and who you were, where and who you are, and where and who you're becoming.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm at HOPEFUL PARENTS today. See you there!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I don't have time to tell you about the pipes that burst over in Sisters and the 3-5 inches of standing water throughout that has rendered the house a disaster area, literally.

I don't have time to tell you about all the great song lyrics playing on my i-Pod that are sustaining me through the day, bringing me insights and wisdom I want to share with you - eventually.

I don't have time to make clever Top 10 lists.

But I do have time to tell you about a good man. This man is the 5th grade teacher at Rojo's school. Both my kids were fortunate enough to have him, to be surrounded by his gentle, gracious, kind and pure love. For Woohoo his project-oriented curriculum was a refuge - a way to demonstrate her knowledge that accentuated her strengths. She learned to work cooperatively with others to build, to create, to learn and to grow. She gained self-confidence in herself as a student, as a "tween" and as a person.

Rojo bloomed under this man's grace, too. His friendships really took hold and were nourished by a man that valued cooperation over competition, community over individuals and love over fear.

This good man announced on Monday that he's retiring for personal reasons. Immediately. He will not be back after the winter break.

I don't even have a kid in his class, and I am reeling. It's a loss. It's a loss for the kids that have been with him since September. It's a loss for the kids that have had him and love to come back to say hi and be welcomed back into his warm presence. It's a loss for all the students that won't have him in the future. It's a loss for the staff, for the community. It's a loss.

We will miss him.

We will remember him.

We will thank him.

We will love him.

* Photo from

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Jenn, do you talk to God?" Rojo asks his wonderful aide.

"Yea, Rojo, I talk to God."

"When?" he persists.

"In the morning and usually at night," she answers patiently.

"You should talk to God right now, out loud, I want to hear you talk to God."

"No, Rojo, I'm not going to talk to God right now out loud, it's private."

"Just talk to God right now, Jenn, just let me hear you talk to God right now. Just let me hear you talk to God!"

They back and forthed a few more rounds before she asked, "Rojo, how about you, do you talk to God?"

"No," he answered.

Maybe he doesn't talk to God, out loud, with words, but the boy has a direct line to God the likes of which I've never seen before.

Talking's over-rated.

P.S. We have only one spot left in each of the writing classes Deb Shucka (Catbird Scout) and I are leading in January. If you're interested in an in-person class in Portland, or an on-line class from wherever you live, please let me know! We'd love to have you join our circle!

* Photo from

Sunday, December 13, 2009


"Knock-knock," I say.

"Who's there?" he answers.


"Danielle who?"

"Danielle at me, I heard you the first time!"

Rojo laughs, "Don't YELL at me, I heard you the first time!"

We've been working on knock-knock jokes for many years. Could it be that they're starting to click? I try again.


"Who's there?"

"Frank's eye."

"Frank's eye who?"

"Frank's eye needed that."

"THANKS, I needed that!" Rojo squeals.

And that, my friends, is what you call delayed development, not absence of development.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I'm telling you people, the feng shui stuff really works. I mostly worked on my prosperity and helpful people areas of my house (which, of course, are opposite each other and directly affect one another). It took me all of five minutes. Maybe ten, including digging out the old Monopoly game and sorting through the pieces until I found Park Place.

Tuesday I got a call from the behavioral/developmental pediatrician's office we've been frequenting for eleven years. I assumed (never do that) that they were calling to confirm Wednesday's appointment. No. It went a little like this:

"Hi, Carrie, this is Robin. You called a few weeks ago because your insurance had denied a claim and you wanted us to re-code and re-bill? Well, I did, and we've been reimbursed, so you have a credit now."

"Oh! That's great!"

"Yes, well, actually I looked into several of your old bills and realized for quite awhile now you've been being incorrectly billed. You have a $492 credit."

Could nearly $500 come at a better time? No. It could not.

I'm not allowing myself to even go to the place that bemoans the fact that this problem goes back a very long way and nobody has caught it until now, I'm just super thankful for the most helpful of people, Robin.

I needed the chimney cleaned and was getting the run around from one company. Finally I sat down with Mary, calmed myself and she said, "Start all over." So I went back to Googling and called the first place that came up with the new search information. The woman that answered the phone? Carrie. Spelled the right way, too. Carrie was super helpful and my chimney was arranged to be cleaned the very next day with zero run around.

Next I needed to get a referral for Woohoo from her high school counselor. Her name? Kerri (spelled the wrong way, but still very cool, don't you think?). She was exceedingly helpful and happy to be so.

THEN I had to do some banking and was vibing which branch, what time to go, which person to form a line behind, and guess where I ended up. Go ahead, guess. Behind Carrie's line. She didn't have a name tag, but when I gave her my bank card she said, "Oh! Your name is Carrie, spelled the right way, you'll get the Carrie-to-Carrie service today!"

All within 24-hours.


Get the book.

* Photo from

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Took the kids to see Santa yesterday at the mall. A family tradition that won't die just because they are now fifteen and thirteen. Rojo is as excited this year for Santa as he was... last year.

We told Woohoo she didn't have to actually go tell Santa what she wants this year, she could skip it, just watch as Rojo sat on Santa's lap and told him what he wanted. But being the super kid that she is she said, "No, it means a lot to Rojo. I'll do it." And so it did, and so she did.

Rojo plunked himself right down on the armrest of Santa's generous chair, and Woohoo plopped down on the opposite armrest. I wildly took pictures and STM held our coats.

"What do you want for Christmas?" Santa asked Rojo.

"I... I.... What do I want, Mom? Oh, um, ah, I want a big Cookie Monster," Rojo said with hesitation, even though he's been telling me for three straight months he was going to ask Santa for a big Cookie Monster. Buckled under pressure.

And yes, Rojo will be getting a three foot Cookie Monster for Christmas - just like the one in the naturopath's office that started this whole thing (don't even ask how much this costs and how hard it was to find). I said to STM, not believing my own words as they flew from my mouth, "Are we actually going to spend $_______ getting a three-foot Cookie Monster for our 13-year-old?"

Then we both said in perfect unison, "Yes."

Because he wants it. He really, really wants it.

And it's Christmas.

And he asked Santa.

And he's expecting it.

And there are worse things for thirteen-year-old boys to want.

And we love him.

* Photo from

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Let us accept the invitation, ever-open, from the Stillness, taste its exquisite sweetness, and heed its silent instruction.

Paul Brunton

Such a hard time of year to find stillness, isn't it? I am fighting the chicken-with-my-head-cut-off urges with every shallow breath I take.

My 2,000 item To Do list is going to have to wait. Wait until I've taken at least a few minutes to heed the silent instruction of Stillness.

* Photo from

Monday, December 07, 2009


Met my best friend from high school for coffee Saturday. Friends for 32 years now. She has actively stabilized my life more than once and I am forever in her debt.

She is one of the few people I can say, gladly, hasn't changed a bit. She is the same rock solid, clear thinking, ego-less person she was when she was fourteen.

She has a daughter a year older than Woohoo - in fact, I was visiting her sixteen years ago when she went into labor a week early, and stood outside her hospital doorway as she quietly gave birth without one drop of medication. That's who she is.

Our second children were born within three months of each other, and for a few years we made the effort to get our four kids together as often as possible, despite the two hours that separate our homes.

But then it just got harder. Harder with the kids' schedules. Harder with busy lives and careers. And frankly? Harder with Rojo.

I've been thinking a lot about how we were friends that saw each other daily, then roommates in college, then roommates out of college, at each other's weddings and at the births of our children, and now it could be 6-8 months between phone calls. More than the busyness, more than the geographical distance, more than anything, its that widening gap thing again.

When we gave birth to our second children our lives were parallel. Thirteen years later we're not fooling anyone. We're on two very different paths as mothers, as women, as travelers.

It was really good to see her again on Saturday. It was really good to see all the ways I still need her to ground me. It was really good to see that although we no longer travel the same road, we are still on this same journey. Together.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

OMHOG, you have to watch this video. Get out the tissues.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A must for all those Quan Yin/Tara/Mary lovers on your holiday list! She Carries Me.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I'm back, did you miss me? I missed you too, perhaps more than is healthy.

STM and I took a 48-hour break from life to celebrate our nothing-but-bliss eighteen year marriage (plus six years of dating, but who's counting).

We didn't go far, we didn't spend a lot of money, we didn't do a lot of anything. But do you know what we DID do?

We laughed.

And laughed.

And laughed.


Photo from

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Was hurrying through New Seasons right before Thanksgiving and the clerk asked if I'd like to donate the cost of one Thanksgiving dinner for a homeless person. I said yes. Total cost? $1.88.

Day after Thanksgiving we were all in the car and drove up next to a homeless person on a corner with a cardboard sign. "I am really homeless. I wouldn't lie to you," the sign said. We rolled down our window and the dear soul hobbled over and averting our eyes, gratefully accepted our small donation. Then he turned, looked right at me (in the passenger seat) and said, "And thank you for giving me such a nice Thanksgiving dinner yesterday."

* Photo from