Sunday, May 3, 2015

Break A Leg

I woke up this morning to a new teenager in the house. I'm pretty sure I went to sleep debating his preschool choices but suddenly we are making plans for high school. Ben was born on a Thursday afternoon and we were granted one day of Italy before we got sent to Holland*. In the space between, I video recorded the new father sharing his happiness and reflecting on the events of the day. I tracked it down to show Ben how thrilled we were to be his parents. He asked how that could be when we didn't even know him yet. I tried to explain the beautiful mystery of parenthood. Loving without limits, knowing without facts, and humble gratitude at being privy to a miracle.

I still feel so blessed at being granted a front row seat to the Ben show. I know as he follows his path out of our theater he'll gain new fans and critics of his dramas and comedies. He'll have new directors and managers in unforeseen roles. I wish him moving monologues, a cast of supportive friends, and maybe one day a brave and beautiful leading lady.  I wish him adventuresome scenes, bombastic final acts, and glowing reviews. I wish him more. 

* Welcome to Holland is a poem well known to parents of children with special needs. I'd just like to add that having one kid in Holland and two in Italy requires extra finesse and there are cultural casualties, but that's a post for another midnight.


Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." 
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

God Moment added evening of May 3rd: I wasn't able to go to Mass with the family in the morning because I was teaching Sunday School, and then Jason got called in so I couldn't go to the eleven, so I found myself sitting down in church this evening to the realization that it was the 6 o clock hour on the 3rd of May, the moment when Ben pulled his Lazarus impression thirteen years ago. Whenever we pass that spot on the planet in its orbit, I get weepy. So I was boo hooing my way through Eucharist, kicking myself for sitting in an exposed pew where I couldn't hide from my tears, when the second communion song began. It was the hymn Jason and I have sung to Ben at each and every hospitalization, a tradition we began the night of May 3rd, "Seek Ye First." Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you. Man must not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  I know all these things to be true. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Just Doing Life

Vernal warmth has awakened the earth breathing up a new season and old habits. Since my kids have not yet developed the skill of dressing for the weather, I've hidden the sweaters and freed the shorts from their off season tubs.

The first scoops of frozen custard have crossed our lips.


Ben, on the brink of teen hood attended his first middle school dance mixer.


We dismantled the deck, diving into this season's marital test.

I feel...

Our tires are pumped.

Baseball is back.

Let's Go Caudnuls!

"I see the Auch!" 

Cub Scout night at the ball park.

I love that I can easily walk to the library, our church and school, the farmers market, and many local small businesses and restaurants. I remember wishing for that long ago, and without really meaning to, I've landed in that dream. And until the heat of summer remembers us, it's so much easier to find the time for errand walks. In part to relish the now, I'm aiming to see the present and capture the good on my walks. Scenes from my last two leg stretchers:

Noticing details (and collecting nerdy friends) creates the proper equation for carrying away a trivia night title.

(Ellen's photo) You'd think we'd know which 
Cardinal earned the most recent no-hitter though, right? We do now.

While I was storming my brain with musical groups that begin with the letter R and identifying best selling toys from the 80s, Jason was living on the land with Alex and Gigi at Cub Scout family camp.

A girl and her canteen.

Kid Quotes:

Gigi: Let's play science. Touch your nose.
Gigi and Daddy both touch their noses.
Gigi: Science didn't say!

Gigi: Will someone please help me spill the cereal?
Mom: Spill?
Gigi: Not on the floor, spill it in my bowl.

As we waited for some turkeys to pass in front of our car Ben said, "Hey! It's poultry in motion!"

Mom: I need you to pick up these toys.
Gigi: But that will take for one whole ever!

Alex wanted to climb a large boulder, but the height of the drop behind was not apparent, so he was denied permission.
Alex: But it's a dream rock!
Ben: It's my dream too. A nightmare, but still a dream.

Dad: How do you want your french toast cut?
Gigi: Like a unicorn.

Gigi (tearfully): Mom, I have something to tell you. Give me your ear. (whispers) I am not your best girl anymore. I didn't listen to my heart. I ate four chocolate eggs and you said three. Do you a'give me?

Ben: How does everyone else just know how to do life?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Upper Room

Alleluia time

Deep in a Berenstain Bear Phase

First Hot Rollers

Resulting in two minutes of curls, just like her mom.

At the post Mass egg hunt she fell in a hole and upended her basket. I stopped to snap a picture and she looked up in exasperation saying, "How about a little help here?" 

He was lost, but now he's found.

Cousins bonding over pink.

My mother took a picture of a reluctant Gigi at dance class and a friend of hers created a painting from the shot. It hung in a gallery for a bit and then was given to us. It makes my eyes wet

The original phone shot

The bulbs tossed out by the Jewel Box live on.
Easter Monday I was met with a challenge I hadn't seen coming. It has shaken me up and caused me to dig deep seeking the right response. The answer came much faster than I anticipated. The answer is gentleness. Every being in every state can be helped by a gentle touch, a kind word, a soft heart. It can't hurt, and that's the point. Don't hurt.

So though I may wish to stay safe and hidden in my upper room, surrounded by others that think like me and know what I know, that is not what Easter is about. We are all called to know, love, and serve and not just to those in our rooms for He is risen, indeed.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Seek Light

I've been reminded lately of my call to stay on the path and seek the light. It's so easy to lose the drive to stay on track. As another Lent draws to an end, I'm left feeling like I didn't quite capitalize on the opportunity to dig deeper and grow more. I should have done more to put God in the center of my life. I should have been more reflective and charitable. I should have been less ensnared by worry and selfishness. Holy Week is here. I resolve to give it my best by beginning with a reflection in gratitude.  I looked through some pictures taken in the last few weeks and sought out my reasons to be grateful. Despite our troubled world and the many instances of evil and darkness, strife and division we encounter or learn of daily, there is always light to be found. There is hope and reason to persevere. Capture those reasons. 

Four Great Reasons. Thank you for family.

He was sick, but got better. Not BETTER, better, but better enough.
Thank you for Benjamin and bettering. 

I made this while surrounded by laughter and feminine goodness. 
There are always helpers. Thank you for friends.

She is driven and graceful and joyous and adventurous and creative and intuitive.
Thank you for Gabriella.

Tradition and fun are valued. Thank you for a loving and supportive community.

This behemoth chair went back to the loan closet and I don't have to lift it ever again.

Creativity, science, and community were found at the rain gutter regatta.

Abraham Lincoln was misunderstood, smeared, and hated in his time. Unity and truth prevail.

A day that began with mistakes and worry turned into a memorable gift.
Thank you for outstanding teachers.

He is boisterous and kind and obedient and affectionate and spontaneous and spiritual.
Thank you for Alexander.

My spitfire built a girl fire at the boy scout camp out. She allowed boys to help.

Spring is smiling. Thank you for the beauty of the earth. 

Traditional camping is out for Ben now, but he doesn't let that stop him from being a scout. 

Walking softly and carrying a big stick and some plushies,
my life companion makes it so easy to return to joyfulness. Thank you for Jason.

Self-sufficiency, respect, and teamwork are still being taught. 

Hosanna! We have the hope of salvation and perpetual joy.
 Thank you for forgiveness.