Thursday, December 27, 2007

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

Hey. So you're expecting a post or something, this being a blog and all, yes? Fasten your seat belt.

Tomorrow (or rather, today) we're flying South for the kids to have time with their dad and for me to delve into the remains of our family stuff, now simply the contents of a storage unit. (Could I maybe wake up and discover this has all been a bad dream? Please??)

K threw up several days ago but was feeling better almost immediately. E spent Christmas Eve on the couch, watching whatever TV anyone turned on or off for her, eating nothing, drinking a little, but feeling pretty well recovered by Christmas day. Last night, or rather during Wednesday's wee hours, Q started throwing up. This was complicated by the fact that S was in my bed, too wound up to properly sleep. Never mind Christmas, soon they'll be seeing daddy.

So Q's been cranky all day, it's been tough to pack (though the big kids, the ones who'll be off with their dad, are all done and ready to go), and then there was the last minute shopping trip. Gathering the last of the prescriptions and supplies. One of Q's scrips can't be refilled yet, but we'll run out while we're gone. Argh. Thankfully, it's not a seizure or startle med. You know, I once totalled up the monthly expenditures on prescriptions here. Not including meds for the nebulizer, it runs around $400 per month. Good grief.

I've been noticing that whatever radio station I happen to have on these days seems to have some sort of notions about being the soundtrack to current activities in my daily life. This has included strange runs in songs: Nice day to start again.....Don't mean nothin', no victim no crime, Don't mean nothin' 'til you sign it on the dotted liiiiiine.....She used to look good to me but now I find her (and our food arrives at the little drive-in of my erstwhile college years as we hear playing:) simply irresistible. As the kids are initiating a conversation about what happens when you're old and you die: Feels like I'm knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door.....Come on Baby, don't be afraid.....Seems like only yesterday but it was long ago.....Runnin' against the wind..... Driving away from my grandfather's funeral and that little town: The things you say, you're unbelievable.....We could make it better now, Tell me boy wouldn't that be sweet.....Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you.....Love me when I'm gone.....All you do is call me, I'll be anything you need..... That was a great concert. Fifteen years ago, was it? So was: East end girls, West end boys.....

And tonight: R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (sing with me) Rockin' in the U.S.A. As I was pulling out of the parking lot to race home, divvy up the stuff and pack like mad, it made for a good upping of the adrenaline kind of song. The ubiquitous Christmas music has probably kept me from losing my mind listening to all those old lyrics. Silent Night is pretty predictable. And peaceful. And welcome.

So my mom has just finished sewing bibs for the drooling Q--one is a super boy bib 'cause it looks like a cape. For him to wear when he's feeling super, of course. The bibs will go into the bags. I had a nice chat with the airline about how to do things with a special needs kiddo. We'll be getting there early, of course, and have a little extra time for boarding in order to get all the stuff stashed appropriately.

Please pray that Q feels better. It's so hard to have the normally happy little guy feel so very bad. It just breaks my tired heart.

I was packing like mad a little while ago when the news was on. Guess what. Oh, come on. Guess.

It's going to snow while we're sleeping. Enough to complicate traaaaaaaaffic. And make us take extra time and maybe detours to get to the aaaaaaaairport. At least it isn't like last year's holiday trip to see daddy, with all it's fun of trying to get four kids ready to travel during our five days without power thanks to the wind and freezing rain.


This is funny, isn't it? I mean, isn't it?? I'm sure we'll muddle through just fine and be no worse for the wear. It reminds me of the day we had when we were flying from Salt Lake City, the day after the post 9/11 regs were instated. Since the Olympics were about to happen there, of course it was the tightest of all possible airports that day. K had an ear infection, G and E had recovered, I was pregnant with S. We got there the full 2 1/2 hours ahead that they'd recommended only to find that the line to check in stretched at least five times the distance it usually would. We spent the day in the airport. K hadn't wanted to eat, even though the antibiotic was making her feel obviously better, so when she wanted to drink from the 44 oz. cup of Sprite, her daddy let her. She sucked it down and we smiled, thinking, "Thank God she's feeling a little better. Maybe food will be next!" Nope. She started running around, chasing G and E. Then she started to cough. And cough. She coughed so hard she threw up all the Sprite on the floor of the silly little airport restaurant. When a certain someone tried to get the attention of the employee behind the counter to ask for a mop, etc., she couldn't understand him. It seemed there was a language barrier. Eventually, he said, "MY DAUGHTER THREW UP ON YOUR FLOOR." Someone else came up from the back to take care of it. Rather quickly. (Heh.)

I'm sure tomorrow will be nothing like that, though. It'll be smooooooth as can be. We just have to get through security with all our prescriptions and Q's special foods (hopefully the Dr's note will arrive via fax first thing in the morning), and we'll be fiiiiiiiine. And anyway, even the potential crummy scenarios are sweet because of whom they're shared with. Even the strange and stressful stuff can be oh, so precious. Even really, really funny.

I'll be "out" for a while. I've no idea when I'll be next to an internet connection. Perhaps not until January 12. While I'm "out," go take a look at this nice person. She's come across some cool stuff about the female brain and has said she'd be writing about that, among other things. Compelling stuff, that neuro function thing. We had her Chocolate Bread Pudding -- made with croissants -- for brunch on Christmas Day. (See my eyes rolling back in my head?) Maybe if you ask nicely, she'll post the recipe. She's nice that way.

Have fun. And a Happy, blessed, peaceful New Year. Thanks for thinking of us all. I'll be back soon.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Winged Grace

There are angels hanging out nearby.

I received the loveliest note in the mail last week. Inside was a check which has already purchased clothes for the girls and Q (love those clearance racks!) and will buy G a chemistry set, maybe some pants for those mile-long legs. And yes, we'll use some of it for something plain old fun. I'm still reeling and can't seem to come up with any really super ideas. Any suggestions?

To whomever sent it: thank you and thank you and thank you. And a very Merry Christmas.

When we went over for Grandpa's funeral, G got an impromptu Chemistry intensive. During the soup lunch provided by the church, he was sitting with the son of friends who both teach at the once college, now university. Their son grew up, got hooked on chemistry himself and now teaches there. G and this very nice young man got to talking about things they're interested in and the chat resulted in an offer from the budding professor to show my boy around a college Chem lab. (Woohoo!!) They got so interested in their minor explosions that they lost track of time and showed up about three hours later instead of the one they'd been granted. Thankfully, everything is walking distance from everything else there and they knew where we would be, so they just wandered in later in the evening. G was glowing. And not, as he pointed out, from anything radioactive. Heh.

We ended up bringing home a high-school chem textbook that had roosted in the teacher's office and lots of bolstering for a young man's fancy. G has spent many years honed in on Biology, but this Chemistry thing could just take all his interest for a good long time. He asked if the teacher could be his Chem tutor, so they seem to have worked something out there. G plans to email questions. When we arrived home after six hours of travel, the first thing he did was go pull out his tiny beaker, two droppers, and the pH papers so he could start "noting things." It was 9:30pm. I was somewhat less enthusiastic than he at that point. Nonetheless, wow. Have you ever seen lithium burn? It's a gorgeous red. The copper was pretty too, but that lithium gives off some kind of color. It's not hard to see how such hands-on activity could jump start G right into a pure fascination.

Of course now he wants to go to the garden section of whatever store we're in so he can look for bags of sulphur.

What should one do when one child was throwing up, another feeling just cranky, this resulted in missing the church's Christmas breakfast and on getting about four hours of sleep? Well, first off, one should clean things up, including one's make-up and the contents of the bathroom cupboard which had been moved to the counter top (which the girls had so thoughtfully removed and sorted in the interest of "getting rid of stuff we don't want anymore"). One should then try very hard to get the Gentian Violet off one's fingers -- because, dear ones, when rinsing a bottle of purple dye under warm water, one should remember that unless the bottle seals perfectly, the warmth of the water will cause the contents of the bottle to expand and, you guessed it, leak like mad and turn one's fingers really, really purple.

So, what should one do? The washing machine ran, the kidlets had meds, and we made marshmallows. Of course.

We made (thank you C) a pan of pale pink creme de menthe (not very minty), a pan of slightly darker pink peppermint (yummy), one of butter rum with vanilla and nutmeg, and one that's sort of like gingerbread. My favorite is the butter rum. See my eyes rolling back into my head? It would go very nicely with some steaming chai, as would the cinnamon ginger. The first pan was cut into angels, the second into small gingerbread men, the third into pears, the fourth into old-fashioned doughnut shapes -- so you get the doughnut shape for your drink and the center to eat.


1 packet unflavored gelatin
1/3 c cold water
1 c sugar
1/4 c water
pinch of salt
food coloring (a few drops)
flavorings (1/4-2 t, to taste)

In a large mixer bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 c cold water and let stand until softened, about 5 min. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan (not too small -- it can cook over) combine sugar and 1/4 c water. Stir over med-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush down sugar crystals on sides of pan. Place a candy thermometer into mixture. Boil without stirring until syrup reaches 238F (soft-ball), about 10 min. Pour into gelatin. Beat with a whisk (not by hand, silly, your arm would fall off) at med-low speed until slightly cooled, about 5 min. Increase speed to med-high and beat to soft peaks, 12-15 min. Coat a jelly roll pan with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch (we greased first but will try it without next time) and spread the mixture out evenly, sprinkling with more of the mixture. Let rest overnight (depending on humidity) and then cut into shapes with cookie cutters or just slice into squares. A double batch would fill your average jelly roll pan. Loosen the sides with a knife before trying to remove from the pan.

Our next project will include making a quadruple batch to fill a 9x13 pan so we can cut them into giant cubes! We hope to make marshmallows so large that even our giant coffee cups will barely contain them!!

Clearly I need some sleep.

Which brings us to another topic. We seem to have entered into another round of "let's see how little sleep mommy can get and still enunciate c-l-e-a-r-l-y." Last night, at 1 something, was the earliest I've gotten to bed in weeks. The more usual has been 2 am, with Q waking up around 3 or 4, usually just to nurse. And nurse and nurse and nurse. Or sleep on me and nurse. Or not sleep at all from 5 to 6 am. WAH!


Anyhoo, I've taken to keeping the teething tablets close by as they seem to do the trick. Still, one would need to remember that one had placed them right next to the bed before turning out the light in order for them to do any good at 5 am, now wouldn't one?

Q had OT this morning. When I gave his nice OT the little baggie of gingerbread shaped marshmallows I told her that some of them were a little maimed -- missing an arm, mostly. (It was a very small little cutter and marshmallows are sticky, after all.) She said, smiling hugely, "Oh, they're little disabled marshmallows! I made cookies that were 'limb-challenged' myself. It was pretty funny until they started losing their heads." Dontcha just love her?

Q got to go to the computer again this morning, following his big stretches. He loved the games and songs and his lovely OT was impressed at how quickly he caught particular details. This is good, because he'll have more time then and since he's not taking months and months to grasp the most basic responses, he'll be able to move more quickly on to ever more complicated stuff.

The Christmas tasks are about done so maybe I'll just sneak off now and sleep. Maybe I can get back to finish writing when the kids are all fascinated with their toys.

Merry Christmas to you -- I hope you're asleep now and reading later. (smiles) Hugs and Blessings, people. And thanks for being my cheerleaders.

Friday, December 21, 2007


So you've probably heard about the family lost and rescued from their trip to get a Christmas tree?

Yes. Well. Once Upon a Time, in the frozen west, a certain family set out on a Saturday afternoon to cut down their own tree.

It was Thanksgiving weekend, the traditional time for us to get started decorating for the season, and we were stoked. We'd done church and lunch, packed up all sorts of good, warm clothes. The kids knew we'd be driving for quite awhile to get where we wanted to look, to the area in which the permit was good, so they'd been bribed (shhhh!) with promises of hot chocolate and supper from a fast food place -- a rarity. The kids were good. S behaved herself nicely in utero, K was her usual easy-going self and napped in her seat, G and E listened to stories and played, safely buckled in their seats. We flew up into the mountains, across steel colored highways splotched with just enough black ice to keep one alert, then onto ever smaller roads packed deep and white. When we turned into the area we'd aimed for, the trees were thick, covered like wooly sheep, a perfect array of choices for cutting. The snow, plowed off the roads, was piled about three feet on either side. It had taken us two hours, maybe a little more, to get into those roads where snowmobiles were cavorting. The light would soon be fading.

A certain someone got himself together to tramp out into the snow. He had layers on, plus gloves, hat and a good down coat. I insisted (silly, pregnant me) that in addition to the two-way radios we had, he take with him a water bottle and granola bar, just in case. He was sort of rolling his eyes at me. Rather, he kindly did not roll his eyes at me, though I'm pretty sure he wanted to. (Heh) He agreed that yes, indeed, stranger things had happened than someone getting lost looking for a nice tree to complete their Christmas revelry, and yup, it's not a bad idea to take emergency supplies.

Off he went. We were parked on the side of a forest service road, the snow packed pretty well. It began to snow a little after awhile. I ran the van again to warm us up as the kids bounced around inside to entertain themselves. Somebody had to go potty, so we hopped out and took care of that. We listened to Christmas carols, sang our favorite songs, talked about all sorts of stuff. K needed a diaper change, that got done. The number of snowmobilers began to dwindle. I began to wonder what was taking him so long.

Finally, after something like forty-five minutes, he checked in via radio. He was tromping back through heavy snow. He was pretty cold, his calves and feet wet by now, and he'd just passed the place where he had originally marked the Perfect Tree. He was walking in circles. It was dark.

Hmmm. What to do. My squirrel brain began to go a little wild. Did I mention that I was pregnant? As he was striving through drifts with great effort, I was trying to think how I would contact Search and Rescue. Was there a house near enough that had a phone? Was that last building we had passed a restaurant? Surely by now, whatever nearby officials had been out for the day were back home, and far away. Pray, pray, pray.

A certain someone heard a snowmobile approaching -- Tell me when you hear it, he said. Minutes passed. So, so slowly. Finally there was the snowmobile. Oh dear. That's rather farther away than he'd thought. ('Scuse me while I have a stroke.) He asked me to honk the horn. I did. He couldn't hear it.

I swear my heart stopped beating.

After I recovered enough to think, I put the van in reverse, figuring that in a FWD if I could keep the front wheels out of the deep snow I'd stand a better chance of either not getting stuck or getting unstuck. I was feeling a little rattled by now, shushing the kids so I could better concentrate on backing a mini-van through the dark, avoiding the occasional snowmobiler, honking the horn periodically, waiting to see if he could hear us. The batteries in the radios were beginning to wane, his first of course. We discussed whether or not we should turn them off and check in at timed intervals in order to save the power.

Okay let's back up a little more, there's a wide spot in the road, back into it, it's been about a mile and a half down the road, time to think what we should do now. Pray, pray, pray. Honk the horn again, he said. I did.

He heard it. (Oh, thank God.)

A few minutes later he emerged from the darkness, into the headlight's safety. The kicker? He hadn't taken the saw with him because he wanted to find the tree without having to haul it along. He'd marked the tree and was going back out to get it.

What? I wanted to just forget the tree, no stoopid tree is worth losing life -- husband, daddy -- over. But no. He knew right where it was and he was going back out. He did go, he did know, he returned victorious, tree in hand, and only a little time had passed. (It felt like hours.) But he didn't even need the granola bar, so that was good.

As he was tying the tree on to the top of the van, someone had stopped and asked if we needed any help. (Well not now, I thought.) They talked for a few seconds before the guy went on. The poor, half-frozen, timber-felling, hero of a man somehow got the tree secure. His fingers had to have been plain old numb by then. He managed it, though.

I was thinking that he'd be driving then, since we were all set to go and my adrenaline levels hadn't yet returned to normal, but he was wet and cold. He needed to strip off the wet layers and focus on getting warm while we beat it out of there as quickly as we could. We'd heard some vague reports of a snowstorm coming late that night and we had still at least two hours to travel. As we pulled out of the area, it began to spit little bits of snow. The kind that blows everywhere instead of sticking. The wind kicked up. As I returned to the formerly bare and dry roads, I could see the occasional patch of black ice. Pray, pray, clench the steering wheel, pray. The snow was thick in the air, swirling opaquely on the road. I slowed from forty to thirty to twenty-five. I was using the reflector posts on the side of the road to indicate a general field in which I could safely drive. When the surface of the road did become visible, it was for a few seconds at a time and I was usually pretty close to right over the center line. The kids were pretty still while I hunched over the steering wheel.

He was slowly warming up, having peeled off his wet layers, the heater on his feet blowing full blast. The kids and I had removed some layers so he could keep the heat up high without frying the rest of us. Thankfully, he had no frostbite, though his feet were pretty tender.

Eventually we made it back to the nearest town, got the kids their hot chocolate and some food. As we were getting gas, he noticed the sign across the road at the motel -- hot tubs. He joked that we should just head over and get properly warm (never mind the three punkins in the back seats). Grinning at both the joke and our relief at still being able to share them, we hopped back in and got on the freeway again.

The wind was worse, the trucks were driving like they were being chased, the black ice seemed to be gathering with every revolution of the wheels. I couldn't do it anymore. I was too shaken, too tired, too pregnant, and it was now nearly eleven o'clock. I asked him if he thought he could drive now. He thought he could and I pulled over so we could switch. We crept home, driving as fast as he reasonably could, and we pulled into our driveway at just about midnight.

It had started to snow big flakes as we came down the mountains, things turning slowly white, ordinary objects gaining grace as they lost their shapes in a coat of fluff. We left the tree (stoopid, lovely, most perfect tree ever) on the van roof, both of us just too flat tired to take it in that night. I believe we both said that if anyone needed it so badly that they were out in that kind of weather, they should have the thing.

When we got up in the morning, there were about six inches of snow dampening the sounds of the world. The mountains had gotten several feet overnight. (Gulp.) The roads had closed shortly after we passed over them, not to re-open for several days.

He took the tree off the van roof, shook the snow off and set it up on the porch to drip a little before we set it in it's stand.

It turns my stomach to think what a close call that was. Of course he had his considerable wits about him (did I mention I was functioning with that pregnant brain handicap?), was probably not nearly as worried as I was (using the snowmobile sound to orient himself, etc.), we were both praying, and he was strong and young and healthy. Oh, thank God. Thank God.

It really was a lovely tree.

Friday, December 14, 2007


From Good Poems for Hard Times, I present the following in honor of my personal cognitive dissonance. In honor of my struggle with grace, mercy, and the application thereof. And in honor of the previous post.

The Happiest Day
Linda Pastan

It was early May, I think
a moment of lilac or dogwood
when so many promises are made
it hardly matters if a few are broken.
My mother and father still hovered
in the background, part of the scenery
like the houses I had grown up in,
and if they would be torn down later
that was something I knew
but didn't believe. Our children were asleep
or playing, the youngest as new
as the new smell of the lilacs,
and how could I have guessed
their roots were shallow
and would be easily transplanted.
I didn't even guess that I was happy.
The small irritations that are like salt
on melon were what I dwelt on,
though in truth they simply
made the fruit taste sweeter.
So we sat on the porch
in the cool morning, sipping
hot coffee. Behind the news of the day---
strikes and small wars, a fire somewhere---
I could see the top of your dark head
and thought not of public conflagrations
but of how it would feel on my bare shoulder.
If someone could stop the camera then . . .
if someone could only stop the camera
and ask me: are you happy?
perhaps I would have noticed
how the morning shone in the reflected
color of lilac. Yes, I might have said
and offered a steaming cup of coffee.

Catherine Doty

It's about the blood
banging in the body,
and the brain
lolling in its bed
like a happy baby.
At your touch, the nerve,
that volatile spook tree,
vibrates. The lungs
take up their work
with a giddy vigor.
Tremors in the joints
and tympani,
dust storms
in the canister of sugar.
The coil of ribs
heats up, begins
to glow. Come

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ahhhh. . .

The last few days have been a blur of medicines, tea and sleepless little congested people. I believe they're called children? I think I've conquered the fifth and final dishwasher load of cups and mugs, all the tea bags have either been tossed or have gone into hiding, and the youngest of the bunch have re-learned what we do with gunky Kleenexes. I know, it sounds lovely, doesn't it? Whatever. We're all happy and nearly healthy again. Y'all have to know a mere virus couldn't take us out for long, right?

Today all of them were well enough to do school again so off we charged, full speed ahead. K confessed that the phonics book "makes my tummy hurt." We chatted about why, and I reminded her how much more easily she's reading all her books, school-related or not, these days. As we talked, her smile grew broader and broader, even as a little tear appeared in the corner of one eye and she ducked her chin. Aw, sweetie pie. Then she wanted to do two lessons. So we did. She's such a little trooper. Maybe being in the younger portion of the local demographic has fired up her will to work harder and longer. I'm pretty sure that's part of what's up with S, too. Almost two years ago, when we were hauling tree parts away from the one that fell on the house, she just went after them, dragging pieces the bigger kids didn't want to take on.

G and E are getting into tougher work for both of them, often it's more than they'd prefer to do. But we can look back and see how far they've come in each subject and relish the payoffs of hard work. It's a really useful thing, to have such experiences. And to (loosely) quote a fellow mom of five: "When you have a bunch of kids, you have evidence that the first one got out of the nose-picking, pants-wetting, ankle-biting stages. So by the time the last one is in the midst of those stages, it just doesn't phase you the same way." And she's right. Of course, one could always just refuse to be phased at all. Is someone whining about work, chores, or perhaps, each other? A little gut-busting laughter in the midst of the pre-teen glaring showdowns seems to be particularly effective. At first it annoys them, but they can't help laughing too and, voila -- the moment passes, on we go. And smiling, at that.

I've been thinking lately about "stuff." It occurs to me that too often, all the To Do lists take over. We get annoyed when we don't get our ducks lined up, then get snappish with the lovely folks around us. I'm just going to say it: consider this an admonishment. Ready?

Say yes.

When your kidlets want to throw you a picnic under the trees or on the living room floor, give up your agenda for a few minutes and say yes. When there are rainbows to chase, give chase and take a camera. When a curious child wants to toss everything but physics, find a way to work it out, at least temporarily. When your honey is catcalling and whistling at you from the shower as you finish getting ready for your day and you suddenly think, "What if I just jumped in there fully clothed and attacked him?" Do it. Say yes. The kids know where to find breakfast and probably won't burn the house down while you remind him how much you've always been, erm, attracted to him. You might want to lock the door, though.

You do know that even if things get a little off track, the world won't stop spinning on it's axis, right? Sometimes we get all wrapped up in the progression of things being just so that we forget why we invested ourselves in the order of the progression to begin with: the success and happiness of the family, for goodness sakes. Sometimes the success and happiness of the family are rather more closely tied to cutting loose, even making a really big, happy mess, than to getting things "right." Sometimes getting things right means just saying yes to the people you grow to love more every day, those you love more than you could ever have imagined.

I'm just sayin'.

My folks headed out yesterday to help get things in order for Grandpa. We'll take off after the girls sing for church. The funeral is Sunday morning. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers and condolences. Blessings back at ya.

Here's hoping all the sweet punkins sleeeeeeep, for all of us. 'Night.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Several of us are working on putting together a service for Grandpa. The next few days will be full of phone calls, arrangements, plus rounding out school before breaking for Christmas, therapies, etc. Busy, busy. My brothers and I are already remembering some of the moments of great hilarity we all enjoyed. Sometimes you have to laugh.

Q had the remaining scab from the perforated eardrum sucked out of his ear today. He didn't like that much, but eventually forgave the very nice ENT. He did like having therapy in the pool and playing with his EI teachers. One of the EI teachers is going to live in Frankfurt. Her husband is realizing a life-long dream in a rather specialized service of the U.S. government and their family will enjoy quite an adventure. Q's new EI teacher seems like such a sweetheart.

I think we've managed to survive the first week of the reduced clonazepam dosing. There were several nights/days in which he was going down around 2am, or getting up several times in the night, or not napping at all--which seems to make his sleep issues worse. His tone and attention are better (I think), which is what we were hoping for in eliminating the morning dose. Of course, I'm dog-tired, but I'll be okay. (smiles) At least there seem to be benefits already--he's been really responsive to commands. He kicked in the pool today when his PT asked him to, he grabbed for and released the swing ropes in OT on Monday when asked to, and his overall motor planning and responsiveness seems to be just a few seconds faster. He seems to have noticed these things and is going after all manner of stuff. This would line him up a little more closely with the goals for development of a "typical" toddler his age--mostly getting into trouble. Heh. He works so hard to accomplish what he wants to do. It both thrills a mama's heart and drops it like a stone. How cool, how terribly, impressively cool that he has that drive to do stuff. How stunning it is to realize how much he must struggle to achieve the most basic of goals.

So much for a quick update, huh? Argh. I've got to get to bed. Church and choir practice come early in the morning. Let's wrap up, shall we?

Check out this blog--she's doing the Twenty-five Days of Christmas. Go back and read from the beginning. See what you gather. No doubt everyone has his or her own take. Then come back and comment, if you like.

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.



Thursday, December 06, 2007


The kids did so well at their recital tonight. They were well-practiced, accomplished, comfortable. And it showed. Plus, their trio (G, E, K) was just sweet. Sighs of mama pride.

Q is feeling better. The dropped morning dose of clonazepam plus whatever bug was, erm, bugging him, seem to have both leveled out. I cut his hair this evening. Funny how trimming Q's hair makes the haircuts I used to give G and their daddy look like a picnic. G, squirmy as he was at the same age, was no moving target. Their daddy, even with the thick curls that Q seems to want to grow, didn't have splotchy growth like Q does just behind his ears. I never felt like I did a good enough job, but no one ever complained. Q thought the sound of the scissors by his ears was too much to pass up looking for, so he has a little tuft left just behind each ear that I couldn't get to. If he were sleeping more soundly these days, I'd cut it off now. As it is, there's no way I'm going to risk waking him.

And then, my grandfather passed away at about seven this evening. Just as the recital was ending. Just as we were packing up our cameras and heading out for frozen custard. We got the call just after Q headed for the tub to wash off the lingering bits from the haircut.

The man had a good life. I wish very much that he'd been more able to show us that he appreciated that and the people around him more when we were all much younger. I believe I mentioned before that in his case, Alzheimer's brought with it a kinder person, one who delighted openly in his offspring, all the generations of us. Knowing him these last few years was a real hoot. Planes flying overhead were an excuse to discuss his considerable knowledge of all things airworthy. He loved John Deeres--a holdover from his ranching days. Creamed peas and new potatoes, a seemingly universal harbinger of spring for his generation, were a much anticipated treat.

There's plenty in the family history that's complicated, painful, fragile. But the guy loved peanut butter loaf. With cheese. It was one of the things he and my grandma reminisced about when they'd stroll leisurely back through time, conversing almost as if the rest of us weren't there, reliving their younger years. They worked, traveled, believed. They made a family that struggled, faltered, and ultimately flew. True to it's own path, it has taken on a life, or several lives, of it's own, in each of us who are now parents to that patriarch's great-grands.

His last perfectly lucid Christmas was just hysterical. We were hip deep in the family white elephant gift exchange, the living room packed with people, when it was Grandpa's turn. Somehow he ended up with the gift that if I remember correctly, had been mine? It was a stretchy, black lace nightie. He held it up and waved it a little, then stood and pulled it over his head, down to the usual arrangement for a nightie, then did a little wiggle. A certain someone was videotaping the whole event and had a hard time keeping the camera steady. Man, we all just rolled with laughter. I'll have to look for that tape now. I think we'd like to relive those events as Christmas approaches again.

The kids used to sing with him (and Grandma) over the phone, in person, on his lap. Among his favorites:

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You'll never know dear how much I love you,
Please don't take my sunshine away.

The other night dear, as I lay sleeping,
I dreamt I held you in my arms.
You'll never know dear, how much I love you,
Please don't take my sunshine away.


I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.


Somebody, please put me to bed...

I'm still praying that my friends won't be needing these titles, but someone else may (sadly), so here they are:

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce
What About the Kids? Raising Your Children Before, During and After Divorce
and, for extra fun: Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce

I found all three to be excruciating reads, since I'm in the midst of a divorce myself. A circumstance which I didn't see coming, would certainly not have chosen for my children and can't seem to force myself to be happy about. All of the above are well reviewed, extremely thoroughly researched, and in my opinion, absolutely necessary reading for adult children of divorce as well as any parent contemplating putting an end to his or her marriage. Even if you'd rather be biopsied with a grapefruit spoon, if you're in a related situation, read these books. Send them to your friends and family. Christmas is coming up, you know. Now there's a way to make sure you'll enjoy a lively discussion around the tree.

I don't know what to say about them by way of reviewing them. Except that there are so many misconceptions about how everything in the world of divorce and families works. Someone has to take this seriously, someone has to see these kids as they are, stop the "happy talk" and deal with their reality as it stands. Quickly. Before they grow up, maintaining high internal ideals for themselves, intent on not making those mistakes of their parents, but going on to do the same or worse, because they can't understand the rising tide of panic that tastes like bile. They can't see themselves as they are--often ill-equipped to stand in the midst of the regular stuff of life.

Being as objective as one can be under the circumstances, the interpersonal issues here fascinate me. The predictability with which certain things unfold, the choices which lead to havoc or haven, how kids turn into adults who seek out and also create healing. All are enormously complex and yet simple as can be. Maybe a little like fractals. Or how I imagine fractals are.

How about some happy thoughts? I'm grateful for a warm bed with flannel sheets. The opportunity to sleep, perchance to dream of nice things and people, maybe even a less complicated place to be in life. Also, Q is out. The girls went down quietly tonight. G is making progress with work he'd rather pretend isn't there. Piano recital is tomorrow night and they're all well prepared. I'm still here and in (checking...), yup, in one piece. I can't say enough how grateful I am for the folks who, when things get really weird or nuts or overwhelming, are just kind. Thank you all for reminding me that I'm not crazy. And of course, with the horrible floods in the Northwest and shooting in Omaha, I'm glad that the people I love are all safe. I sure wish I had something besides good thoughts and prayers to offer to those poor folks.

Well, the kitchen is as clean as it can get without waking people up with the noise of it, so I'm off to bed. I'll have to post an honest to goodness update later.

One more thing--I could use some prayers for not puffy eyes in the morning. Maybe by the time the kids are up? It's been a tough evening. Stuff Which Must Be Done sometimes leaves a person a little raw. Yuck. And then there was the phone call from the other side of the state about my grandfather. My grandma was called to his side earlier this evening. The care facility thinks it's only a matter of time. Of course, the last time we thought that was in the summer. We all got there as quickly as we could, only to find him cracking jokes, slurping milkshakes (with help), and grinning at the touch of little squirts' hands. He just lit up when Q laid his head down on his great-grandpa's shoulder. He's a tough old rancher, pilot, engine-repairing, tool-selling guy. But mostly, he just wants to see Jesus.

Uh-oh. The eyes might be puffy after all.....

Hope y'all are well and snuggled in tight with your beloved tonight.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Rabbit, rabbit

Happy December! The race to Get It All Done is now officially on. Good luck with that.

I wonder if the kids remember the year that their daddy was on call on Christmas Eve, so we finished up our ongoing reading aloud of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever with him miles and miles away in the call room and us holding up the speaker phone so he could hear too. Maybe they were too young to really recall the whole thing, but we all laughed like crazy. They got such a kick out of having him "there" via phone and doing prayers all together after... It's a great book. Maybe we'll re-read it this year. We've also done One Wintry Night, several years running now. I wonder if the littles would be thrown into nightmares by A Christmas Carol?

The morning will find us off to church, children's choir, and participating again in this year's His Kids event. It's something many churches around the country do. G is somewhat reticent this year, but we'll see. S is still a little too young to participate, I think. It was a good experience for G and E last year, and hopefully for the two busloads of children who came and took part, and I'm sure it will be again this year.

Have a good sleep.