Friday, April 30, 2010

Check In

I had to reschedule dinner with new friends because the house is clean, but not clean by hubby's standards.

G made me so proud at Author's Day yesterday. He was the first reader, and after the group recited their collective poem, his teacher asked him if he was ready.

"Sure," he answered and rose to the challenge.

His story was one he wrote by himself. My six-year-old talking about how he loved playing Wii Fit Plus with his mom and brother, how he particularly liked yoga and how the sun salutation and the push up and side plank are his two favorite things.

He read and wrote it himself, this child who had me so worried academically six months ago.

When the audience of parents, grandparents, siblings and 5th grade buddies thanked him for his story, he smiled and said into the microphone,"You're welcome."

My sunny, self-possessed 6-year-old blew everyone away, particularly the psycho fellow room mom who noted just minutes before in disbelief; "HE plays t-ball?"

"He sure does," I smiled back, wishing her a tall cool glass of Bite Me.

We had a nice afternoon, the boys and I. I picked them up today and ran some errands with them before finishing up with some mini golf, elevator adventures, and dinner--Nic's favorite, green pasta. If he had any idea that I infected his pesto with spinach he'd never eat it again.

Ah well. And evil B is now Nic's friend because apparently the principal issued some sort of ultimatum. Whatever. As long as we head into a quiet end of the school year, I am happy and hopeful.

It's wine o'clock, time to exhale.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Quick sort

I went to church alone this morning. I need clarity.

This always happens when work enters my picture. I have worked throughout my kids' lives, and it has not impacted my family life (much). I have thought that moving my work outside the home would be an improvement.

Note to self: if you bring it home, it's not good.

So I throw my cards into the air and am in the process of putting them in order, not unlike Nic assembling his note cards on Andrew Carnegie for his class project this weekend.

In the mix I am reading The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Her vision of the afterlife and its connection to the living are probably the closest thing to explaining what I believe and why I believe it. Not exactly, but I find myself nodding in agreement.

When we went out to my friend's old place of work, an auction house, he said he was afraid of being in the basement at 1 in the morning cataloging, because of the people who used to own those things.

"Oh J," I laughed. "Spirits don't follow their *things.*"

He looked at me like I sprouted another head. Hubby suppressed a chuckle.

This is all connected, with the work sitch and my life. I am sorting what matters from what doesn't. I know my days on earth are numbered, but I don't know the number. I know I will miss the tactile pleasures of snuggling with my kids--I miss these already, since those days are by and large behind me.

I found a flyer in our church bulletin for St Vincent de Paul--and I will be clearing out our abundance of stuff for people who can use it.

I'm figuring what to do about my kids' religious education.

I feel like I am tying up loose ends. Work will be what it will be. But it's not the only thing. It's not even the most important.

Speaking of that, home fires to put out. But this was on my mind and I needed to at least sketch out my thoughts to see where I needed to go. Not high lit, but I accomplished what I needed to.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

(Chance for) FREE STUFF!

On May 6, Special Guest Val Hobbs will be on my page to talk about her awesome new book "The Last Best Days of Summer." Tell your friends to come visit and post that day, as there will be FREE STUFF--fun give-aways to kick off the launch of this great read. For every comment a chance at a raffle for books and tee-shirts.

For more info, stop and and say hi to Val (tell her I sent you) at

Friday, April 23, 2010

Head Re-set

Okay, I'm at the far side of the work week with my usual side stuff going on. I really need to think long and hard about how the next few months will look for me and whether this new look is really one I want for my life.

The whole point to me working anymore is to bring in an income. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. I will give everything to the job as long as I am on the premises. My family time is sacred, and the whole point to me working set hours is that there is no spillover.

This is what I walked in with as I understood it. If that changes, then this situation will change.

I will be patient and have the necessary conversations on Monday. In the meantime, I suspect I will be thrown under a bus.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I'm just sitting here in my favorite seat destressing. Well, maybe not just that, although the tension draining out of me while I sit here is palpable.

(Time out for some Sun Salutations with G)

Okay, Yoga has to come back into my routine. That felt good.

So, for the time being I am doing a new project in addition to my writing. I like the structure and set hours, but the environment is some rough going. I am concentrating on the bigger picture and opportunities that may come from that. In the short term, I'm taking control of our financial picture, but I have bigger plans in mind.

Who knows, my bigger plans have always melted into OTHER bigger plans, and that's worked out for me, so far.

I spent last night cooking, which will bring us into the weekend. I have to get this place cleaned up for company next week.

For right now, I am simplifying, decluttering and working yoga back into my life.

Monday, April 19, 2010


We were driving along minding our own business when a golf ball shattered our moon roof.

As inconvenient as this is, it's better the moon roof than my head, which would have been the alternative had the moon roof been open.

There, but for the grace of God....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Walking the Walk

As we drove down Broad Street to Citizen's Bank, hubby proposed we find a diner. I'll spare you the events that came to this moment, but I shrugged and said. "sure."

I knew there was not going to be a good outcome, since neither of us knew where we were going. So when we ended up on 95 South heading toward the airport, all my men filled the air with all variety of invective.

"It's really not that big a deal, guys," I told all of them, meaning it. "We turn around and go back."

Hubby continued fulminating in the driver's seat about wasted time and gas, and then leveled his barrels at me. "And I am tired of everything being all sunny and bright with you!"

On some level, I knew that punch was coming. "You need to ask yourself whether this is really worth getting balled up about," I replied. "And my answer is no, it isn't."

He grumbled, and launched about a half dozen half-hearted salvos along this theme, but the kids in the back had stopped complaining and were listening.

"I'm telling you, it's not worth it," I replied with finality.

As I was riding around earlier that day, it occurred to me that I am living as if I am in the last year of my life. I genuinely do not sweat the small stuff (and you would be amazed at the sheer volume of small stuff there is if you ever stopped to consider what sets you off on a given day), I will not meanmouth anyone for the sake of meanmouthing some one, and I do my best with everything--including house work, which my husband will attest that I am not good at at all, but I am not sweating that, either.

So after the game as we were riding home, I said, "I have something to say."

He knew where I was going. "I'm sorry, I was just annoyed."

I continued, "There's no point in telling the boys that they need to keep it contained when some one is trying to set them off if they see *you* pop off. I'm walking the walk. If they see that I am not getting worked up about stuff that happens, they'll eventually learn not to, as well."

Hubby was quiet.

"This is important. This is everything," I continued. "They are watching you, whether you notice it, or realize it or not."

Honestly, I didn't realize that this was what my head change was about until I said it to hubby. This is all stuff I was just *doing*. I finally figured out the *why.*

The *why* is actually a pretty good reason. Live each day as if it's your last. Enjoy the hugs and cuddles of the kids around you--yours or some one else's. Laugh. A lot. Smile. Even if it's just on your mouth, it eventually reaches your eyes and heart. Love. Even if your heart breaks, it was already made to heal because you loved.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Answer

I had an interesting note happen in my inbox yesterday, some one who apologized for (she thought) pissing in my cheerios.

She called me up to explain what happened and why she is struggling. I was pondering this in my head and heart as a car pulled ahead of me on the turnpike.

Psalm 22 was on the license plate.

What I need, when I need it. Here we go.

Psalm 22 (New International Version)

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel. [a]

4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 "He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother's breast.

10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me [b] in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced [c] my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save [d] me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you [e] will I fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.

Psalm 22:3 Or Yet you are holy, / enthroned on the praises of Israel
Psalm 22:15 Or / I am laid
Psalm 22:16 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint and Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts / like the lion,
Psalm 22:21 Or / you have heard
Psalm 22:25 Hebrew him

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


It was inevitable. I was handed part of the audit to manage, and I ran with it. And got it done by COB.

My partner in crime noted that I did the managing thing before. Sure, it's been 10 years, but it's not something you forget how to do.

It feels good.

I was thinking of something today, a phrase I heard a lot when I was growing up. "Put away."

I pictured getting stuck in a cabinet, some one shutting and locking the door, and whomever was in it never getting seen again. Actually, institutionalization kind of worked like that--if you had anything wrong with you, something as mild as anxiety, or as severe as autism, got you a one-way ticket to the inside of the cabinet.

Then they closed Byberry and all the state hospitals. I remember when that happened. Oddly about the same time they stopped corporal punishment in parochial schools.

The reason I bring this up is because of something that hubby said about how people treat our kids, how they sort of back up and get a pitying look about them when they realize that our kids aren't 'normal.'

What is normal, anyway? My kids are fine, and doing better all the time.

And I sense sometimes the resentment of those around me, having to be 'subjected' to my kids.

Ah well. All I can say is that they better get over it at worst and get used to it at best--because my kids? They will not be 'put away.'

Like it. Or lump it.

(And I reckon some will lump it. Oh well)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Nic is going to States

It's official, Nic is going to state finals, and he'll be one of the youngest ones there.

My mind is a bit blown by the prospect, for a few reasons.

I'm thinking that this may mark are a fork in the road, for a lot of reasons, none of which I can go into right now. I just saw his face during the proceedings, and I recognized that look, because I have felt that way, and know why he was feeling the way he was.

Just finished talking to hubby about other things that we will have to deal with, which may or may not pertain to things I saw this afternoon.

Time to get some more things going. And time to bring in reinforcements.

Things are definitely going to get harder before they get easier.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Lately it seems my life is converging along a few lines—the compartments seem to be broken, and everything spills into everything else. And as messy as that sounds, it feels right. Everything feels right.

I don’t think I have ever been able to say that with a straight face, before. Ever.

My dreams unroll like movie reels, and indeed they feel more like stories inside my head than anything relevant in my subconscious. Maybe because I don’t bury stuff there anymore. I don’t know. Everything is out in the open, taking the air, and my head and heart have been better places for it.

Thinking back on my radio interview with Dr. Dan, he seemed slightly surprised by my upbeat demeanor. When I discussed it with my mom the other night (yes, she *was* verklempt when she left that phone message), she pointed out that there wasn’t any self-pity about me.

That’s where I am totally her kid. She was widowed at 35 with 5 kids under the age of 11, and people quickly resented her for not being more pitiful. I knew she was grieving—hell, I saw it first hand. But that’s not the face she showed everyone else.

I guess I showed a different face for a long time, too. But you fake it until you make it. And I’ve made it, because the radiance I feel is real, and other people feel it, too.

You can’t fake that.

So to what do I owe my joy? Well, certainly not wealth or fame, since I lack both. Hm. Define wealth. If I were to define wealth by the sheer joy that the people around me bring, I’d be the world’s wealthiest person. I am surrounded by good people and whatever I am feeling is divided or multiplied among them. My presence in their lives is making a positive difference—and I can actually SEE it.

The kids can, too. And I know they are watching and learning. In light and love.

Now if only I could get them to pick their stuff up and put it away without asking them 200 times....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Do You See It?"

Before Fr M, I did meet another holy person. Her name was Sr Deodata and I met her during a particularly bad time in my high school career.

I was called down to the guidance counselor with two other freshman (can't remember who they were) and one of the first things she did was look for St. John Neumann medals for us. She had two. She looked back into her little purse and produced a third one...

I recalled this moment on Thursday, when we were on our high rise perch looking out at the city. I bought snacks for the boys, but didn't bring water. There was a machine selling water and soda--for two dollars each. I managed to scrounge up $1.70.

"That isn't enough," Nic observed.

"Let me look again," I stalled. I had already combed through every inch of my wallet and purse, but for the sake of forestalling an inevitable meltdown, I open my wallet again.....and found .35. That quarter and dime weren't there the first time--I KNEW they weren't.

"Here you go!" I said cheerfully, giving Nic the money and dispatching him to the machine. And I recalled Sr. D finding that third medal, insisting that she knew she only had two.

It only took me 30 years, but I finally believe her.

I don't remember exactly what she said that day, only that she talked quietly and gently insistently asked us "Do you see it?" after each pronouncement. I remember the warm light that seemed to surround her.

She was the real deal, and it only took me until now--actually Holy Thursday--to understand.

Yesterday with B was brutally difficult, but Nic pronounced it a success. We saw a movie, then he came to dinner and mini golf with us, my treat for all. It really wasn't until the end of the evening that Nic was really relaxed and he and B were jostling each other in the back seat.

We dropped him off and watched him and his brother offroad in their front yard. "You guys are really good offroaders!" he shouted as we left.

I dropped my own boys off and headed out to get Nic shoes for today, since we are going to be scrutinized. I spent a good 20 minutes browsing the shoes, and finally I found a dressy casual pair that could work. And I couldn't find his size anywhere.

I heard a voice tell me to keep looking. Literally.

And sure enough, the last possible pair was exactly Nic's size.

Do I see it?

I went over to Ross's to look for a pair of shoes for myself--a little retail therapy to end my emotionally exhausting day. I found two pairs of sandals that looked cute on the shelf, but looked and felt awful on my feet.

Keep looking, the same voice said.

And lo and behold, the perfect pair of slides in my size were on the floor under the racks.

I always get what I need, when I need it. I know the material is a bad analogy to use to the spiritual, but this was the perfect way to describe the spiritual and emotional state I'm in these days. I *DO* see it.

And for those days that I don't, I will keep looking. Because the persistence always pays off.

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chip off the Old Block

I still don't know how I managed to get three splinters in my foot, since my shoes never left my feet yesterday.

Anyway, I limped downstairs to give Nic our schedule today and interrupted myself with a complaint about my foot.

"You have a splinter?" Nic asked. He jumped up and raced upstairs, calling over his shoulder. "Don't worry mom, I'll get it out."

I put on a light and moved under it so he could see better. Nic raced back down the steps with a pair of tweezers. "Okay mom, let's see."

He examined my foot with a seriousness that made me smile. "You have three here, mom. Okay, hold still."

And as quickly as it took me to type this line, he had all three out, lined up neatly on the coffee table. He picked up the biggest one and held it out to me proudly. "This is the one you told me about, but you had a couple others."

I made a fuss over him, thanked him profusely, kissed him on the cheek, and he blushed a little and raced back into the den to play on his computer. This called to mind an incident more than half my lifetime ago, in an old apartment building in Mount Airy when his dad did the same thing. It was a bigger splinter, took a lot longer, and I had Art and Hannah's cats curled up around me to give me comfort.

Like father, like son. Too damn cool.

Friday, April 2, 2010


This gorgeous day, coupled with enforced time off, inspires me to take stock in where we are as a family today. As I walked through my neighborhood and enjoyed the sounds of the birds and the sights of nature's fireworks as buds burst into bloom, I considered the fact that things that were not options a year ago *suddenly* are.

We are overnight sensations, nearly a decade in the making. Yet we blend in almost perfectly with everyone else. And THAT, the blending, is the secret of our success. Perhaps I am a bit premature, but we are definitely on course to independence and fully realized lives.

The conference last weekend was an eye opener. I've been living the inclusion gospel for years, but even in some ways, I was still buying into the 'separate but equal' myth. I constantly need reminding that I don't know it all, as much as I'd like to think that I do.

This includes my own assumptions about B. We went ahead and took our trip into the city as planned, and of course his mom called after we had left. Hubby called me a jerk. I reminded him that we upended many a plan based on a phone call that never came, and I said as much to mom. So we reset for tomorrow, and hopefully that will work out.

Yesterday, we took a trip into the city that was our most successful ever, owing mostly to the boys' emerging independence and taking responsibility for themselves. We had our adventures, and Nic needed minimal etiquette coaching. Dinner at a fast food joint was a delight, because not only did Nic take his brother to the restroom, he also cleared and saved a table for us, then helped me bring the food over.

Not a big deal, on one hand, but once upon a time, a stop like this was onerous.

A woman waited next to me at the counter. She told me she was getting a tea and asked if I were from around here. I feel a little guilty, because I might have engaged her if I were alone. I noted later that she had dumped half a dozen or so creamers into the tea and that she was eating ketchup out of the packets.

I'm slow at processing. I was walking along with the boys a half hour later when it registered that she was obviously hungry and subsisting on next to nothing. She clearly had some kind of cognitive disability. I spent the ride on the train home beating myself up for not registering all this sooner, for not going over and asking her what I could get her for dinner, for not doing something besides registering her presence while I rode herd on my kids, making sure they behaved.

I'm not excusing myself. If I see her again, and perhaps I will, I'll make sure she gets a decent meal. And that she's okay. And if I don't, I'll pay closer attention to what's happening and act faster next time. Because there is always a next time when it comes to meeting people in need.

All this is tied into how our situation has evolved. What were not options before are possibilities for us now. Where these possibilities open up, it makes more community engagement possible. My kids are starting to notice these things, too, and the best example I can set for them is to not 'try' but to 'do.'

Because the more that they can DO, the more that they will DO.

But I missed an opportunity. And that will haunt me.