Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't forget, I've moved! Come see me at love.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I've moved! I'm over here, now: love.

Monday, July 05, 2010


Four years ago I was all about being fully caffeinated. Started a blog and an e-mail address and went big with it. It was perfect for that phase of my life, and as is the nature of phases, they pass. About the same time I  also "accidently" found a website that sold love. T-shirts. Unfortunately, it looks like they no longer do. The quotes they e-mail you are a must, however.


love. was the next thing I decided to go big with, and happily, I don't believe that's a phase.

Couple of years ago my fully caffeinated e-mail address just stopped working. Kaput. Last week Blogger stopped letting me post on my Fully Caffeinated blog. Kaput. Nothing if not tenacious, I found a way to post using an old draft and changing the date, but let's face it, that is going to get old in a hurry and besides, there aren't that many drafts left. I can take a hint when Mary gives me one, and she is giving me one.

Time for a new blog, so ladies and gentleman, I invite you to join me here, at love. Please change your blog rolls, favorites, bookmarks, etc. so you won't miss a single word. That would be a shame.

We'll talk about Mary. We'll talk about Flicka. We'll talk about Rojo. We'll talk about Woohoo. We'll talk about all the things that won't go kaput, and are not phases - the stuff of love.

* Photo from

Sunday, July 04, 2010


Been trying to get Rojo into a body of water for almost fourteen years. This summer he decided to be Water Boy. We've been coming to the same community pool every summer for his whole life, a place with a "big" pool and a "wading" pool (1 1/2 feet deep at its deepest point). He's never wanted anything to do with it. Any. Thing.

But not this year. This year he's all about being king of the wading pool.

He likes having the whole thing to himself as he can kick and sing to his heart's content, but he really prefers it when it fills up with 2-5 year-olds. Without exception he goes up each child and gives his spiel: "Hi, my name is Rojo, what's your name?" The child supplies their name and Rojo instantly creates a nickname. Cooper becomes Coop. Daniel becomes Danny. Elaina becomes Lainie.

"Hi, (insert nickname), how old are you?"

"I am thirteen but I will be fourteen on July 14th, my golden birthday."

We're very excited around here for the golden birthday.

And for our golden boy, who has discovered the freedom of water.

* Have been having all kinds of fits posting on Fully Caffeinated. Am thinking it's time to re-name/relocate the blog. Stay tuned for a new address.

Happy 4th of July, Everyone!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The five of us (four humans and Flicka) climbed to the top of this today, Black Butte. Truth be told we drove halfway up, and climbed the rest. Truth be told it took us nearly two hours. Truth be told there was a lot of complaining and "I can't do this..." But. We. Did.

We climbed a mountain, or more accurately, a butte, but we climbed it.

We climbed it.

View from mid-way up - the Three Sisters.

View from the top.

View on the way down.


* Top photo from

Monday, June 28, 2010


I had a check to deposit and Rojo likes to use the ATM, so off we went.

He punches in my PIN.

He punches in  a series of Yeses, Nos, and finally we come to the amount to deposit. I am holding the check, he hasn't laid eyes on it.

"Put in $72.36," I say.

He stalls.

"7-2-3-6," I repeat.

He doesn't move.

"What's wrong?" I finally ask.

"I'm going to put in $72.35," he says.

I start to argue, not wanting to enter the wrong number and mess everything up, but get the urge, instead, to re-examine the check.

Don't you know it, the check was for $72.35.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Rojo looked at the weather forecast on the Weather Channel (something he does several times a day) and declared, "Summer worked! It scared the rain away!"

We have had rain.

And rain.

And rain.

And rain.

Cold and grey rain, not summer showers. The weather men have been calling this Junuary.

I am a born and bred western Oregonian and can take a LOT of rain, but what we've had has been biblical.

But now summer has "worked" and we are enjoying perfect weather here in the Pacific Northwest.

Rojo and I are outside all day every day, for the most part, and we're tweaking his ADHD meds so they wear off by noon, making him hungry. It's working. He's eating like a horse, but wants only junk food. We're forever in negotiation about that. "You can have __________, after you have ___________. I want you to have real food. I want you to gain weight!"

Finally, after about the 25th round of You-Can-Have he said, "Be nice to my weight! Do not hurt my weight's feelings!"

Not enough can be made of the fact that he gets he is not his weight. He is Rojo. His weight is what it is. He doesn't want me to hurt his weight's feelings.

And neither do I.

Friday, June 25, 2010

And I saw the river
over which every soul must pass
to reach the kingdom of heaven
and the name of that river was suffering: -
and I saw the boat
which carries souls across the river
and the name of that boat was

- Saint John of the Cross

* Photo from

Thursday, June 24, 2010


When I began memoir writing four years ago, I had one thing holding me back: how do we write about those we know and/or love, without hurting them? Even if what we write is kind and true? Is it fair? Is it our story to tell? All the places where our lives overlap, how much is ours?

Anne Lamott says she writes several concentric circles away from the core of her life - she does not write about the most intimate and personal details. One may argue that after reading her writing you can't believe it gets several shades more nitty gritty than that, but apparently it does.

Other writers have argued that the more personal, the more universal (and I agree), and that the truth is the important thing - freeing it. The thing is, what's personal to me affects more than just me - even my thoughts are not solely mine, and the truth? Whose truth?

A big reason I decided to pull Unstrung was that while I felt it would help a lot of people, I felt it would hurt at least two, and as Hope Edelman says, "Sometimes the professional gain is not worth the personal cost."

I just finished reading one of the books on my summer reading list: The Journal Keeper. To me, it is one of the best examples of a deeply personal story, that keeps it about the author. While there are things I'm sure her husband would rather not be in print for all eternity, she maintains his dignity at all times - when they have problems, it's her perception, reaction, evolution that is at the crux of the writing.

As a writer this book helped answer a big question that has been holding me back for four years, and as a woman this book helped answer about a million other things that float through my brain at any given time. For a deep, satisfying, provocative, pleasant, want-to-read-all-over-again book, this is it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


So, I went to the reunion, and Someone I Once Knew was not there. This reunion is for the school where I used to teach before Woohoo was born, and is held every year, and each time I've gone, SIOK has been there. Not this time. I'm flooded with relief and guilt - just sure she somehow found my blog, read it, and didn't come because of that. Another side of me says,  "Make no assumptions." Then there is the side clamoring, "No accidents." I feel guilty for sharing our personal story on the Internet, yet the tugging emotion is that maybe it was helpful in the overall scheme of things, regardless of whether she read it or not.

I don't know.

What I do know is the 20 or so of us that were there, ranging in ages from 47 (love being the youngest at something) to a good 77, sat around a long table and gave our reports for the year. Many told of their grandchildren, how old they are now, what line of work their kids are in, who has graduated and who has gotten married. The easy stuff, and believe me, the stuff I was eager to hear.

Wasn't until one of the people seated at the far end with me had her turn and shared that her six-year-old granddaughter only had two more treatments for leukemia, that things went from Level 1 to Level 10 in a hurry.

I shared that we had gotten a retired guide dog for our son with special needs, and that most of my life was consumed with the caring, planning, advocating and recovering for and from his needs. Turns out the man sitting right next to me (that I didn't know - he left before I came to the school), started his career in special ed. He used to work at one of the local hospitals training doctors to be more compassionate and humane in dealing with parents getting diagnoses for their kids. Straight to heaven.

I talked to the woman whose granddaughter was at the end of a two-year ordeal for cancer, and learned that her grandson (younger brother) was showing signs of autism. The grandmother (retired teacher) could see the red flags but her daughter was understandably overwhelmed with the needs of her daughter, and was not quite there yet. The grandmother asked me a bunch of questions to which I reluctantly said yes, yes, yes. How do you tell someone that yes, it sounds as though their grandson has autism and as soon as their daughter is out of the woods, they can join that club, too?

There is suffering: First Noble Truth.

What people say when their turn comes up to report on their year is not all there is to the story.

I believe, now, that SIWK and as some of the commenters pointed out, I would find many things we have in common as parents, as women, as fellow sufferers, if we moved our egos and pain bodies out of the way and let the understory emerge.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible.

Tenzin Gyatso
14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Someone I Once Knew,

I will see you tomorrow at the reunion, and I will remember how we were pregnant with our daughters at the exact same time, and then two years later, our sons.

In those early years we tried to get together with the girls, but by the time the boys came into the story, we were on such divergent paths that it was hard then, impossible now.

Tomorrow we will hug, you will say how great it is to see me, how you think of me all the time. But you will not ask about my kids. You will tell me all about yours - the daughter too smart for her age, skipping a grade and no longer my daughter's peer. I have heard that story, but you will tell me again, how advanced she is and how school is just not challenging for her.

I will recall my years of teaching Talented and Gifted and pull out some dusty compassion for what I know to be a difficult row to hoe, too, the likes of which I cannot imagine.

You will tell me about your son, also brilliant and a gifted athlete, a year ahead of my son in school, although only a month older. He is darling. Popular. Keeps you busy, busy, busy running him to all his friend's houses and his sporting events, the likes of which I cannot imagine.

You will tell me about all the places your family will go on vacation this year, all the fun things you like to do, the activities you enjoy, the way your kids are natural travelers and how great it is that summer is finally here so you can all spend more time together, the likes of which I cannot imagine.

You will tell me how you cannot believe in four short years you will be an empty nester, how you and your husband are looking forward to an early retirement and trips abroad, the likes of which I cannot imagine.

You will not say, "So how are your kids?" I know it's not because you are callous. I know it's not because you don't care. I know it's not because you are selfish. I know it's because you don't think about how every word out of your mouth is fresh salt in my old wounds. I know you don't know how it is you, and only you, that has this effect on me - we were doing this together, and I broke the pact, by having kids with differences.

It's not your fault. You know your world and I know mine, and we have both met many comrades in our respective worlds, friends that get us through, friends with less history, friends that didn't break old pacts but made new ones: to imagine.

* Photo from

Friday, June 18, 2010


Dreamt last night I was in a road race (in a Honda Element) with the most unlikely co-pilot (someone I can loosely define as a friend). Within a few miles of the road race I took the wrong turn and was hopelessly lost.

Poof - gone was the co-pilot, gone were the road signs, gone was every sort of navigational help. I was actually driving in and through buildings I was so lost.

Pretty sure the dream has something to do with how I'm feeling about summer vacation, which starts at noon today for Rojo - Woohoo has been out over a week.

I don't have a road map. I don't have a co-pilot. I don't have a lot of road signs showing me the way through to September.

That's what I fear, but the reality is I do have a road map - a calendar with plenty of things to break up the three months. I do have a co-pilot, several, actually, STM, Flicka, Above and Beyond, babysitters, aides, friends, relatives. And I do have the road map: love.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Under every moment of anger is an enormity of sadness,
 and under that a sea of compassion.     - Stephen Levine

The Greek word for forgiveness means to unbind.


Be not bound.


* Photo from

Monday, June 14, 2010


First AbFab Geek recommended I read it, then my friend Toeless sent me the book, so I finally sat down one day and started it. I'll be honest with you, the subject of Rwandan genocide was one I was happy to avoid, but Toeless and AbFab both said I would love it, both said it would be life changing, and both have my best interest at heart, so I trusted them and dove in. I barely came up for air.

The book is amazing for many reasons, but what struck me the most was Immaculee's ability to forgive. I am telling you, if you are struggling to forgive someone, this book will help put it all in perspective. If she is able to truly forgive and find peace, there is hope for the rest of us.

Immaculee has two other books which I just picked up and can't wait to start reading, and the third one is all about Mary.

Say no more.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


My dad died just a few weeks before Rojo was born, and nine years before Kunga came along, and yet there it no denying his role, his presence, his spirit when you get these two "brothers" together.

Kunga has been dreaming about my dad lately, waking up and saying he misses him. He spontaneously told both Woohoo and me this, too.

"I miss my granddad," he said.

"Do you remember him?" I asked.

"Yes. I remember him."

"Tell me about him," I pressed.

"I didn't know him, he died before I was born, but I remember him," he clarified.

And there isn't a doubt in my mind that he does. Nine years together on some other plane is hard to forget.

Rojo, who had to be told by a newly five-year-old that his shoes were on the wrong feet, said one profound thing after another this weekend as we spent our time in my father's old house - indeed, the house in which he died.

STM simply asked, "Hey, Rojo, what time is it?"

"You'd know if you had harmony in your soul," he said.

After playing with a ball in the back yard, Woohoo said, "Rojo, where did the ball go?"

"I affected your energy and now you can't find it."

My dad was a piece of work, but after fourteen years only the fond memories come to mind now when I think of him - there's been time to heal. The "brothers" only know the funny stories, and there were plenty. They have a divine connection to a man that is their grandfather, a man that affected their energy.

A man whose soul has finally found harmony.


Thursday, June 10, 2010


We should make all spiritual talk
Simple today:

God is trying to sell you something,
But you don't want to buy.

That is what your suffering is:

Your fantastic haggling,
Your manic screaming over the price!

From the book I Heard God Laughing, Poems of Hope and Joy
Renderings of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Wrote recently about playground miracles. Am almost embarrassed to tell you this, but they just keep happening, and happening, and happening. Feeling like it's being revealed to me why Rojo is so insistent that he, Flicka and I go to the park every night: we have work to do.

Rojo performs his magic on the play structure, delighting the 4-8 year-old set, and Flicka makes it possible for me to meet people I would not otherwise meet.

Other day Rojo and I couldn't find any other kids to play with at Park #1, so we walked down to Park #2. There was a mom and her daughter swinging on the only two swings. Rojo and I took the teeter-totter. Pretty soon the little girl left the swing and came over to us. That turned into her teetering her 7-year-old self with Rojo's tottering nearly 14-year-old self, and me trying to balance the two out, with some degree of success.

Off the teeter-totter and on to tag, the mom and I were left to talk. She started asking about Flicka, and next thing I knew I was telling her all about how we got her. That story has a couple of versions, the just-the-facts one, that's not bad, really, and the woo-woo one complete with every no accident detail. I went for version #2.

"That's what happens when you put it out into the universe, the universe rises up to enfold you" she said.

I knew I'd found a friend.

We talked for two hours, don't you know it, New Friend has a child with special needs. We eventually moved back to Park #1 when my friend, Above and Beyond called to say she'd brought the ice cream "truck" down there. I introduced New Friend to Above and Beyond, and after I left, they did more talking and sharing of resources.

The other day I was at Park #1 and I noticed something going on with each of the kids that were chasing him in a rollicking game of hot lava monster. All these years I've been bringing him to the park thinking he was the only one with special needs, and just assuming everyone else was neuro-typical.

Can't believe this far into the game I still don't have the Make No Assumptions thing figured out.

One thing I have  figured out is that Rojo, Flicka and I will continue to go down there and play, as long as there is a bench to sit on.

And to listen.

* Photo from:

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


"I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you..."

From the song "For Good" from the musical, "Wicked"

I do know I believe that's true.

Been thinking so much lately about friends, and without exception, they've all changed me for good, and for good.

Eavesdropped today on two elderly women talking about hearing aides. "Well, Sue just had so many problems with hers, I don't know, I don't think I'll get one," said the one with a freshly coiffed grey bob.

"Oh, that's ridiculous," said the one with impossibly red hair. "What kind of problems? What do you mean problems? She's probably just not using it right! You know you have to get it in just the right place in your ear or it doesn't work."

"Oh, I don't know," said Grey Bob, "Maybe if I get to a place where I really need one, I'll do it."

"You ARE at that place," said Impossibly Red.

I instantly vowed to be Impossibly Red, and not Grey Bob someday. Maybe even starting tomorrow.

A tricky thing, though, honesty. Not much good unless it's coming from a place of love and requested. I've tried to force it down other's throats. I've tried it at the top of my lungs. I've tried it with righteous indignation. Doesn't work.

What is our sacred contract with each other, to hold space? To listen? To observe? Just to love? To call BS on? To declare, "You ARE at that place?" What's the role of a friend? Does it depend on the friend? Probably.

Consider yourself warned, however, if you ask me what I think, I'm likely to tell you.

Friday, June 04, 2010


Got an e-mail from a friend with a special needs child. They'd had an incredible conversation about God/Mary/Jesus. Deep. Meaningful. Enlightening. In about 10 words.

Had a conversation with someone yesterday about ego. For me the definition of ego is our false self - who we think we are. Thinking being the operative word. The ego loves to think. Think, think, think, that's what it's all about. As a society we value thinking, because we equate it with intelligence, and we equate intelligence with superior - the more intelligent, the better.

It is my firm belief that kids with special needs are here to help us break from our own egos, by showing us the way. We use all kinds of disparaging words to describe people with lower "intelligence," because A) we define intelligence in an antiquated way, and B) it makes our egos feel better to be superior to others (it's also socially acceptable to do this, but that's a whole other blog post).

These kids are special. It's apt that they be called special. As for the needs part? Hmmm... they certainly have specific needs, which are special, but the special part is really in their gifts, not in their lack. If they lack anything, it's an ego.

And that is special.

To listen to Eckhart Tolle talk about ego and thinking, click here.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

An interview with author Tanya Savko

I'm pleased to share a wonderful book with you, Slip, by my blog and real-life friend, Tanya Savko, from Teen Autism. You could say it's a book about autism and the coming to terms with it. You could say it's a book about one family's transitions and transformations. You could say it's a book about the universal message that love heals. No matter what you say, it's a beautifully written book, by a beautiful woman with a beautiful story to tell.

1) Tell us about the actual writing of Slip, how long did it take you to write. How does a single mom with more than one job and more than one special needs child, find time to write?

I started writing Slip almost six years ago and finished the first draft within a year. I spent the next three years working on subsequent drafts and editing. It went through some changes! At times I was able to focus on it consistently, and other times I had to set it aside for a while, just depending on how full my life was at the moment. My usual writing time is at night, after my sons are in bed - if I'm not too exhausted by then!
2) Tell us why you decided to fictionalize your story, rather than writing straight memoir?

I chose fiction rather than memoir for a few reasons. Mostly, it's because I just love to write fiction. I love creating characters, getting to know them, and seeing how they develop. Although the main ideas of Slip are memoir-based, the characters often say and do things differently than their real-life counterparts did. And in that way, it was more cathartic for me to write a novel instead of a memoir.
3) Tell us about starting your own publishing company and self publishing. What made you decide to go that route, and what's your advice for writers out there looking to publish?

Whew! Starting my own publishing company was even more of a labor of love than writing the book itself! It's considerably more involved than having Lulu or some other company publish your book, which is actually what I would recommend to anyone wanting to self-publish. Don't do it the hard way like I did! I don't regret it, though, because I had my reasons for doing it that way - namely, because I wanted to start my own publishing company. It had been a  childhood dream of mine to publish books, and not just my own (eventually I would like to publish the work of other people). Another motivating factor was that I had been working with another company, and the typesetting job they did was terrible. But starting your own publishing company is much more labor-intensive (not to mention a lot more expensive). So if you're not driven to start your own publishing company, my advice would be to self-publish via Lulu or something similar.
4)  In the book Andrew, the father, has a four-year relationship with a woman named Brooke. We love and hate Brooke, we love that she loves Andrews kids, we hate her drinking and drugging and violent temper. Did you have a "Brooke" in your life? If so, did you find it as hard to end the relationship as Andrew did? Why or why not?

Interestingly, Brooke is probably the least fictionalized character in the book. There was definitely a "male Brooke" in my life. It was very difficult to end the relationship, and I dragged it out much longer than I should have. I think it was just during a really vulnerable point in my life - a lot of rationalizing went on. You come out of a relationship like that feeling chaotic and shell shocked, very unsure of yourself. It was easier for me to write about it in fictional form - happening to someone else - than memoir.  

5) The Andrew character recovers from depression and OCD, are these issues you've dealt with, and do you think you can ever fully recover, or is it a matter of them going from debilitating to manageable?

Yes, I have been diagnosed with depression and OCD. Both have been present throughout my life in varying degrees; the worst was 12-13 years ago, during the time that my sons were toddlers. I was on medication for almost two years, and that helped immensely. I think, for me anyway, the most debilitating effects of those conditions were largely situational. I was completely isolated, caring for two toddlers with special needs, and in an unsupportive marriage. Several things coincided that helped me to get better: the medication, going back to work, and my sons being enrolled in therapy programs. These days, both my depression and OCD are much more manageable, although some milder symptoms remain with me.  

6) You make the mother, Erica, a bartender with a family history of alcoholism. Do you think that was Erica's way of exerting control over alcohol in her life? If so, did it work?

With Erica, I tried to portray the effects of childhood abandonment in one's adult life, in which control issues are often present. I think it was a subconscious defense mechanism for her to exhert control over the alcohol in her life by being a bartender. In that sense, I think it did work for her, especially since she was the manager. She is controlling in other areas of her life as well; she has a hard time on the few occasions when she's not calling the shots.
7) Tell us more about the title of the book, and what advice you have for other "SLIPS?" (Singe, low-income parents.) 

As for the title of the book, although the main reference is the acronym "single, low-income parent," there are several other references to the word "slip," such as "one slip in a small town and everyone knows" and asking how does a child "slip into autism." I had also thought of including a Freudian slip, but that probably would have been too much!
My advice to other "SLIPs" is to a) find emotional and physical support, whether it's in the form of extended family, friends, church, or respite care, b) find financial support in the form of government programs - they are there for a reason, and c) find spiritual and mental support, by taking small steps to achieve your dreams and goals, taking care of yourself, exercising, and meditating.

8) Now it's your turn, Tanya - what do you want us to know about this book that I have not asked yet?

For years now, we've been saddled with statistics about autism and the divorce rate. I wanted to write a story that clearly illustrates that the link isn't always there, that so many other factors can contribute to a divorce, even when autism is present. Yes, it puts stress on a marriage, undeniably so. But autism should not be a marriage's scapegoat. With Slip, I wanted to look at the underlying causes, how complicated and intertwined they are, instead of just accepting the statistic as the ground rule.

To order your copy of Slipclick here.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Went to see "Sex and the City II" last night with three HOT friends. Same group of us went to SATC I two years ago, same group of us watched Season 6 with tears, laughter and champagne a few years before that. Same group worked on an auction together seven years ago. Same group had our little girls entering kindergarten together almost eleven years ago.

Same group.

My favorite scene in the movie is when Miranda gets Charlotte to drink and share her frustrations with motherhood. Both women recognize how hard it is, and that is with help. They raise their glasses and toast to all the women that are doing it without help.

The four of us have not had "help." But we've had each other.

That counts.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010


We were away for the long weekend - actually, STM left last Monday and had four well-deserved days to himself, and the kids and Flicka and I joined him after school on Friday. STM and I have never sat down and said, "Okay, you do this and I'll do that, and it'll be fair," but over the years we've done the special needs parent dance long enough that we rarely step on each other's toes now. As it is, he gets up early with Rojo and Flicka because he is not even awake at that ungodly hour (5:30-6:00), and is happy to sleep walk through the whole bacon, sourdough toast, praise-the-Lord, kicking, humming, what the BLEEP, morning that is Rojo. That is the time I, too, get up early, but have to myself. I meditate, read from various inspiring and helpful books, and in all ways "get the energy right" for the day - starting with the perfect cup of coffee I brew in my own private coffee brewing quarters. I take over around 7:30 when STM goes to work, but Rojo leaves for school before 8:00. On the weekends STM still takes the first shift, and I come on board later, we switch off throughout the day.

On weekdays I take the afternoon/evening/night shift. I have Rojo from 3:15 - 8:00 when he goes to bed, which although it sounds like more, is an even trade. STM has him unmedicated and super hyper, janked up and in a good mood (Rojo's words to describe himself), and I have him in search of parks and for the most part, tired from his busy day.

When I woke up and heard Rojo singing at 5:59 on Saturday, I couldn't believe my eyes - and feet. STM was still in bed. I decided to get up since I needed to pee anyway, and then I just went ahead and started the morning process I'd been doing in STM's absence the last few days. Rojo sang. Rojo tapped. Rojo hummed. Rojo swore. Rojo praised the Lord. Rojo ate 34 pieces of bacon and two Luna bars. I drank two cups of coffee here and there throughout the process, cleaned the coffee pot, put in a new filter, fresh, cold, filtered water up to the 6 cup mark, scooped out the perfect amount of freshly ground coffee and had it all set to turn on the minute I heard STM emerge from the bedroom. When he did, I pushed the button and was so proud of myself. I let him sit quietly in a chair getting his wits about him while the coffee brewed, and when it was done I put it in his preferred mug and brought it to him.

The next morning, Sunday, when I woke to singing I looked over and the other side of the bed was empty! Yea! My turn to sleep in! I slept another 45 blissful minutes, and when I staggered out to the kitchen my first words were, "Is there any coffee left?"

"No," STM said,"but it's all ready to go. You just need to clean out the coffee pot, put in fresh water, and add the grounds." He was dead serious. He'd thrown out the old grounds and put in a new filter and to him, that was "ready to go."

I laughed.

"Are you making fun of me?" he asked.

"No," I said, "I just love you. You and I are different, and that's what makes us work."

* Photo from:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. 
 ~Joseph Campbell

* Photo from

Thursday, May 27, 2010


We know our friends as our friends, we may know them as spouses, even siblings and children, but to me, the greatest gift has been knowing my friends as parents. I'd say some of my best parenting practices have been stolen outright from friends that I admire.

I have a dear friend that lives 3,000 miles away - has for nearly fifteen years. About once a year, however, we've managed to see each other. Fortunately for me, most of our visits have been in her home, which has provided me with not only a break, but a chance to really live and learn from a master.

It was one of the very earliest visits, at the time this friend had a four-year-old and a two-year-old. Doesn't sound fun, does it? But it was. She thoroughly enjoyed her kids at those ages, just as she does now, at fifteen and seventeen. At that time there was tremendous stress in her life, you could almost say it was crisis level. I'll never forget what happened, though. Her husband came home and asked her about the day, and she said, "We had a lot of laughs." Of course my friend and I had had a lot of laughs, but that's not what she was referring to - she was talking about the day spent with a toddler and at that time, hard to regulate four-year-old.

"We had a lot of laughs."

I've thought of that so many times through the years, marveled at her ability to just be present with her kids, to enjoy them, to laugh with them. I've fallen short of this goal to have a lot of laughs with my kids each day, but I can honestly say that that one small scene has made me a better parent, has shifted my thinking, has, best of all, brought about a lot more laughter in this house.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


One of my friends has the greatest quote, "Everyone wants to be normal, but nobody wants to be average." Isn't that just so TRUE?

* Photo from:

Monday, May 24, 2010


Tonight Rojo wanted to go to the playground, and I heard myself agreeing without a grumble -  something just went off in my head that said, this is important.

Got there and immediately ran into two friends, one being "Above and Beyond," aka the ice cream truck lady. Also there was a man I've known since Rojo was born, and now he, too, is the parent of a special needs child. 

I had Flicka sitting next to me, and kids kept coming up to me and asking if they could pet her. Next thing I knew a little one asked if he could take Flicka on a walk. I said sure, and got busy solving the world's problems with my friends on the bench. Occasionally I would look up to make sure Rojo was fine, and that Flicka was within sight and doing okay with her new role as Pied Piper. Each time I saw her she had gained another follower. One would return Flicka to me and then the next would ask for a turn. We finally established a little routine, a route, if you would, to make it fair. They could take Flicka once around the loop, bring her back to me and then it would be the next person's turn.

I was aware that a young dad had two kids, a boy about four and a girl about two, now in line for Flicka. The little boy had a Scooby Doo Band Aid on his check, and when I asked him about it he awkwardly touched it. The dad said, "M., ask what the dog's name is." The boy didn't ask. "Ask how old the dog is," the dad prodded. The boy didn't ask. "Ask if you can pet the dog, M.," the boy didn't ask. I didn't think too much about it. The dad and I got to talking and I told him Flicka was a retired guide dog. He marveled at her beauty, her shiny coat, her sweetness, how young she looks.

Suddenly Flicka was up on the play structure, so I jumped up to get her down - can't have her scaring the kids up there. All the followers were trying to get her down and there was some degree of temporary chaos. The dad followed me. Once down, I turned to the dad and said, "I think Flicka was checking on Rojo, he has special needs, you see, and that's why we got her. She knows she's his buddy, and she was probably worried that she hadn't been with him for awhile."

I saw the look in the man's eyes. The look. The look of one that walks the path. "Your son has special needs? My son has special needs. Did the dog just automatically know that she was there for your son, because I can tell she understands my son, too." I told more about the story of Flicka, and how yes, she knew she was there for Rojo, and that their bond was a thing of beauty.

We chased kids and dogs, passed the leash, made small talk, and then I asked, "So, what's going on with your son?" 

"Well, we're just finding that out now," he said, giving me the look again and smiling a little too broadly.

"It's so hard," I said, making eye contact with him, and noticing tears behind his eager smile.

"Yea, looks like he has dyspraxia, sensory processing disorder, maybe autism... does you son have any of those things?"

"Check, check, check!" I said.

Our conversation went on and he said how he wished his wife could meet me, as she is desperate for other mothers to talk to about things like this. I told him about the support group I run and that his wife is welcome to join us. "Oh, that would be SO great," he said about four times. 

"I don't have anything with me to write down my information on, do you?" 

"No," he said, "but do you come here very often?"

"All the time," I said.

I have no doubt that Rojo, Flicka and Mary will make sure our paths cross again.

And I'll have a pencil and paper when they do.

* Photo from:

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Hadn't been to my beginner's yoga class in thirteen days. Was really feeling the lapse - what had been effortless just two weeks ago, was not today. Effortful it was, and I was determined to fight through it. No matter how many times my Lithuanian instructor cautioned us to listen to our bodies, and that doing so was a sign of strength, and not of weakness, I pushed on, ignoring her. Ignoring my body. Ignoring the wisdom.

Classic Carrie.

And while I have come a long way in learning to listen, I still have a long ways to go, also in redefining weakness and strength.

When we were in one particularly challenging pose (no idea what it's called), she said, "Find the ease. Now find the challenge. Put them together. Take the ease, put it with the challenge. In your mind, move them on top of each other, let them work together. That is how you get stronger - combining ease with challenge. Now, when you are in your challenge, breathe ease into it."

What if I were to take the ease of love and put it on top of the challenge of apologizing? What if I were to take the ease of laughter, and put it together with the challenge of forgiveness? What if I were to take the ease of caring and overlap it with the challenge of non-judgment?

How much can I truly bend?

*Photo from:

Thursday, May 20, 2010


So Rojo has been obsessed (is there a stronger word than obsessed?) with the ice cream truck for many, many, many, grey-hair creating years. He takes a short break from talking about it between the months of November and February, then it's back up for grabs. He plays various ice cream truck songs on his keyboard, on our piano, taps and hums them while he eats his breakfast, plays them on a recorder, kicks the breakfast bar to the beat of them when he eats his dinner, sings them in the car, listens to them on YouTube, loudly and repeatedly, on and on and on and on.

I've got "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" and "The Entertainer" coming out my ears.

"Mom, where does the ice cream truck live?"

"Is the ice cream truck coming to our house today, Mom?"

"What time is the ice cream truck coming to our house today, Mom?"

"Is it going to be hot today? If it's hot today, will the ice cream truck come to our house today, Mom?"

I'm going to go ahead and conservatively guess he asks an ice cream truck related question, twenty times a day. Every day. For eight months of the year. For at least the last six years. Not a mark on him.

So on Sunday we were walking back from the park/neighborhood school playground, and we ran into a friend of mine. She has a child on the spectrum, and although our boys don't know each other, we know all about each other's boys. You know how that goes. Rojo asks her, "Did you see the ice cream truck at your house? If you see the ice cream truck come by, make sure you tell them to come down to our house. Don't forget. Promise you won't forget."

"Well," she says, "you know my boys have a lot of food allergies, so sometimes I get the kinds of treats they can eat, put them in an ice chest in the wagon, and we walk around passing those out to the neighbors."

That's all it took.

"Mom? Can we go to Mrs. F.'s house and get ice cream after school? Can we go to her wagon? Can we just go there right after we pick up Woohoo and just go straight there and get ice cream?"


So Monday I e-mailed Mrs. F. and asked if we could swing by, and would it be possible that Rojo give her a dollar for something she had in her freezer.

She e-mailed back and wanted to know just what it was he liked, what was the exact song he preferred the ice cream truck to play, etc.  When we pulled up to her house at the designated time (3:45), she had the wagon all out, had made a big sign to put on the outside, displaying all the kinds of treats they had (and that she'd driven all over town shopping for) and as we got out of the car she grabbed her i-Phone, pushed "play" and out came "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" WHO DOES THAT??

Then, because she'd created a monster, and the weather here is down right wintry this week with unbelievable rain, she has taped the sign TO HER CAR, and driven TO OUR HOUSE, three days IN A ROW at Rojo's preferred ice cream eating time.

And she even lowered her prices, $0.05.

But truly, those popsicles and that friend? Priceless.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Had to spend a whole day at home earlier this week. STM was expecting an important package to be delivered, and it required a signature. I looked at my calendar and I didn't have any appointments, no errands that just had to be run that day, so I said I could do it. After all, I don't "work."

Cannot tell you how many times I had the urge to jet off somewhere, to take care of some annoying thing on my list, to go out into the backyard (where I would not be able to hear the doorbell) to pull weeds that had not made my radar until that very moment. On and on it went. The more aware I was that I couldn't go anywhere, the more I felt the need to.

Kept having to ask myself, "Why am I here? Oh, yea, to receive the package from UPS."

Asking myself "Why am I here?" all day?

Not a bad way to spend the day when you think about it.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Wrapped six presents for STM's birthday tomorrow
Loaded, ran, unloaded the dishwasher
Did three loads of laundry, washed, dried, folded, put away (nicely)
Made beds
Vacuummed the whole house
Cleaned the kitchen
Answered a million (give or take) schedule related e-mails
Set up three appointments
Paid bills
Made a grocery list
Washed all the windows I could reach without a ladder - inside and out
Redeemed miles on-line
Ran to the store to get a few things and the guy says to me, "So, you're not working today?"

* Photo from:

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Had a big important meeting Friday morning at my house. Did a little morning meditation to get my energy right, asked for Mary's help. Mary's peace. Mary's presence.

Showered, grabbed a skirt I hadn't worn since last summer, reached in the pocket and there was a Mary seed.

Went downstairs to light candles, put on music, and again, make the energy right in preparation for this meeting. Pushed the button to eject the CD already in the stereo, and out came "Feasts of Mother Mary." Shoved it right back in and pushed "Play."

Finished fussing around the house, had nervous energy left over, turned on the computer to check e-mail. Eyes landed right on one from a customer service rep assigned to a return I needed to make. Her name? Mary Precious Grace. I. Kid. You. Not.

Next e-mail was from a friend that had just had surgery, writing to tell me her pre-op nurse's name was Mary, so she knew she was in good hands. She was. Her surgery had the outcome we'd all hoped and prayed for.

Meeting went great.

No accidents.

Friday, May 14, 2010


There's a local chain of discount stores in the northwest called Bi-Mart, where for $5.00 you can buy yourself a family membership. For life. Course you don't really need to show your card to get in through the gate, as the people that operate it know everyone that's a regular. Like me.

"Buzz" goes the button as soon as they see my face. Pushing the red half gate to the side I cross through to an alternate universe. The music, the items, the people that work there, the customers even, are from another era.

I love it.

When you are ready to tackle your gardening needs, Bi-Mart is the place to go. They have everything. Cheap. And what I love best is all the kinds of soil, mulch and manure are stacked on pallets in the parking lot, with an empty sample bag tacked up on the wall above the doors. Crudely made signs tell the cashiers the product code of each bag in big bold numbers so they can quickly glance and enter them into their cash registers.

"I'll take two bags of Steer Plus," I say.

"Just two?" the woman with hair from the 60's verifies.

"Yep, two will do it," I say, "didn't have quite enough as it turns out, need two more bags."

She rings me up, $2.19 times two, adds up everything else in my basket: Kleenex, toothpaste, sponges, laundry soap, a new nozzle for the hose, and prints me out my receipt.

That little piece of paper that nobody ever looks at again is all that keeps me from robbing Bi-Mart blind. From that point you go to your car, drive it around to the pallet of choice and take as many bags as you say you paid for.

Honor system.

Not enough has been made of a system that relies on honor.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear but
around in awareness.
- James Thurber

Jess at A Diary of a Mom wrote today about the phenomenon of walking into your child's classroom and seeing all the support they're getting, and how surprisingly, it surprises you (my words). She wondered if one ever gets used to it.


Hate to sound negative, discouraging or in any way disheartening, but the reality is you don't get over the shock. It continues to hit you like a ton of bricks. Other kids are doing things one way, your kid is doing it a different way, or not at all.

So, no, you don't get used to it, but you get okay with it. You learn how to stop looking back with anger and resentment, stop looking forward with fear and anxiety, and start looking around with awareness and acceptance.

Your child is different. That's the bad news and that is the good news. Except there is no bad news and there is no good news, there is just news and our interpretation of that news. Your child is different. Period.

We need different. Look around. We badly, badly, badly need different. It's my personal belief that these kids are here to help heal and evolve our planet.

I know they are helping to heal and evolve me.

* Photo from:

Monday, May 10, 2010


Somewhere around the third park of the day I began to settle into it: this is my life. Thought it would be one thing and it is quite another. Didn't imagine spending my days going from park to park to park with an almost fourteen-year-old, fighting down my ego that struggled to watch him awkwardly play with three and four-year-olds while discerning if we are actually getting funny looks, or if I was just imagining it.

When he wasn't on the play structures, we were looking for drinking fountains. Four parks, seventeen drinking fountains, each one sipped from once, twice, three times.

Miles we covered and my mind and soul fought with each other with every step: I should be folding the three loads of laundry that sits on my bed right now. I should be wrapping Mother's Day gifts. I should be vacuuming dog hair. Cleaning bathrooms, spending time with Woohoo, and STM, returning a call to a friend, writing a card to my friend about to have major surgery, returning e-mails, fixing dinner, reading the book for book club, grocery shopping, changing beds, should, should, should. My mind said I should be doing anything and everything but being right here in this moment. This perfect moment.

Eckhart Tolle (my hero, he and HH, the Dalai Lama, two enlightened living beings, I'm telling you), talks about the symbolism of the Christian cross. I think I've blogged about it before, but if I can't remember for sure, I'm hoping neither can you. He talks about how we, as humans, mind-centered, live in a horizontal line, always in the past and future, and very seldom living in the moment. Consciousness/our souls/higher selves live in a vertical line, connected to God/source/all that is holy/the light. When we are living in the present moment, the now, we are where those two lines intersect, the center of the cross, the place of the Divine.

Rojo is going to keep dragging me to parks until I stop fighting it and am one with it. That's his job, to make me conscious, to line me up, to bring me to the center, to connect me to the Divine.

* Photo from:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to all of you.
You are mothers, you are children of mothers.
You've been well mothered, you've been badly mothered.
You've raised your children, you've raised someone else's children.
You've given birth, you've adopted.
You've given your children up for adoption, you've been reunited. Or not.
You've lived your lives with what ifs? and thank Gods.
You've longed for children, you've chosen to remain childless.
You've struggled to get pregnant, you've got more kids than you know what to do with.
You love this day and all whom it celebrates, you hate this day and all that's gone missing.
You are actively raising children, you are empty nesters.
You are beginning the journey, you are nearing the end.
You are raising typical children, you are raising those with special needs.
You can see the end in sight, you know there is no end.
You love some of mothering and hate the rest, but accept it all,
As part of the journey, wherever it's taken you.