Sunday, May 31, 2009
As the runners took their marks, it was crowded and loud. The race started on a gravel stretch, so the footing wasn't good. Squished in the middle of the crowd, Riley nervously covered her ears waiting for the horn to sound the start of the race.
When it began, many of the girls from her team sprinted forward with lots of energy, and Riley quickly got behind, what with covering her ears and the not so easy gravel to navigate.
"WAIT! WAIT! WAIT!" she yelled to her team members, who were far enough ahead not to hear her.
She began crying, and screaming.
Talking her through I said, "Riley, c'mon. You'll catch up. They started fast, they'll likely slow down. We can still get them."
"I THOUGHT WE WERE STICKING TOGETHER!" she sobbed.
"Riley, everyone goes at their own pace."
Why didn't I think of preparing her with a social story before the race?
"They hate me. They aren't my friends."
We chugged along, her losing all her energy to fretting, feeling left out and defeated.
This went on for a good 1/2 mile, Riley screaming, and crying but somehow plugging along. She just could not seem to get it together. When all my rational pep talk attempts failed, I lost it on her,
"RILEY. YOU COULD HAVE CAUGHT UP TO THEM BY NOW BUT YOU ARE WEARING YOURSELF OUT BY FREAKING OUT. YOU NEED TO KNOCK IT OFF RIGHT NOW. WE HAVE WORKED SO HARD TO BE HERE TODAY AND YOU ARE GOING TO RUIN IT! I'M NOT GOING TO LET YOU RUIN THIS!"
She could not hear me. She continued to jog along, sobbing.
Just when I was losing all hope, we caught up to one of her team mates (a Circle of Friends girl) who was walking by now. Riley was still crying.
"Riley, look. They didn't wait for B either. She is walking. It is okay to walk. Everyone goes at the pace that is right for them."
B started to run with us for a bit, then she needed to walk again.
"Riley," I said. "You have a choice. You can continue to walk with B, or you can run at a pace that feels comfortable to you."
Riley was torn. She wanted to run but didn't want to hurt B's feelings.
B said, "Riley, it's okay if you want to run."
Suddenly Riley "got it."
She decided to run, leaving B behind. Knowing it was okay. She didn't hate B. Maybe the other girls didn't hate her? Maybe they weren't trying to be mean and leave her out? Maybe it was all okay?
Riley finished the race. She ran almost all of it, stopping to walk just a few times and not for very long.
She did it. She'd been sick and hadn't run in a week and still, she finished in the middle of the pack of roughly 90 girls. HT and Seth cheered us on through the finish line. Then, Riley cheered like nobodies business for the girls on her team who finished after her, and there were several. It hadn't occurred to her (or me) we had left some team members behind at the start as well.
Girls on the Run is a great organization. Every girl gets the same # 1 on their shirt and every girl gets a medal when they go through the finish line. Every girl is encouraged and celebrated throughout the season, and especially at the race. It was a wonderful experience.
I am so proud of my girl.
We both learned a lot today. Riley learned she can complete a 5K! She also learned new social concepts.
I learned peers are amazing teachers.
This afternoon was my chorus concert. It went well and was so much fun. It was held in a big church and tall people kept sitting in front of Seth and he couldn't see. Therefore Todd let him stand in the aisle, and he couldn't help himself,he had to dance. He got a lot of compliments after the show.
It was a beautiful day in a very full life.
I'm going to bed early.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
We tell her everyday, there is nothing she cannot do, though she might have to work harder than others at some things. There are no limits.
She broke her first board today. She was so proud. Last time she was devastated the teacher had to help her do it, especially because Seth needed no help, "and he's younger than me!"
Today she kicked butt.
Seth did a great job too. He practiced a lot for this exam and he remembered all the steps in his form, even though he was struggling just two weeks ago.
Tomorrow is the 5K.
You're so yesterday.
*Riley is the yellow belt up front. Seth is the tiny blond boy with the yellow stripe.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I DON'T WANT A SWAB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
With just two weeks left of school, both kids have been home sick all week, vomiting. It's been fun. Then, Mr. Seth c/o ("complained of" for you non nursing types) a sore throat, and Riley followed suit.
Getting them dressed and ready to go to the walk-in clinic, Riley started,
"I don't want a swab!"
"I don't want a swab!"
Getting their jackets and Crocs on,
"I don't want a swab!"
"I don't want a swab!"
"I DON'T WANT A SWAB!!!!!!!!!!!"
She got swabbed. I held her arms and she screamed, which makes swabbing all the easier.
Next it was Seth's turn. He opened his mouth like it was nothing. Got his swab.
Riley was livid.
"HE'S BEING BOASTFUL ABOUT BEING BRAVE FOR HIS SWAB!"
+ for strep.
Both of 'em.
Folks, it's been a looong week.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
When I was in my twenties, I tried to face my fear. It's just a movie. If I watch it, maybe I can put it in a different box. I can note the special effects. I can laugh at how ridiculous it is. I didn't make it through the whole thing that time either.
Imagine my surprise when I clicked on The Daily Puppy, and saw a link for The Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation. Couldn't be, could it? 'Tis.
As thoroughly messed up as it was for my father to take me to that movie, I have to wonder who thought it was a great idea for their child to act in it? What was up with Linda Blair's parents? And who in Hollywood thought it was okay to put a little girl in that situation? To be the face of The Excorcist for the rest of her life? No way around it, being that girl, had to have wounded her.
And what about the audience? Give the people what they want, right? Who cares who it might harm in the process.
Todd and I have made a conscious choice to avoid scary movies. We don't watch scary TV shows. We don't find bloody crime scenes entertaining. We don't find violence and victimhood entertaining. There is no place for that kind of energy in our home. We don't invite it into our lives.
Watching the video above helped me. I love that she is working with rescued animals. I hope she has a good life.
Peace be with you, Linda Blair.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Bread pudding. I didn't see any in this video.
Focus Michelle, focus.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Windsong, Cleveland's Feminist Chorus is having its spring concert and the Columbus Women's chorus will be joining us. There will be seventy women raising their voices in song! This Sunday, May 31, 4pm at The Church of the Covenant on Euclid Avenue in University Circle. Advance tickets can still be purchased online at www.windsongchorus.org ($12 advance/$15 door).
This is my first season singing with Windsong and I have loved every minute of it. They are a talented bunch. I arrive each week for practice, hold on for dear life, and try to keep up with them. There will be an amazing guest soloist, also a fiddle player, and a sign language interpreter who combines the lyrics and music with beautiful movements.
We all have to wear black. I look like death warmed over in black, but don't let that scare you. I'll put on a little extra blush. It will be fine. Trust.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
On children:"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from
And though they are with you,
Yet they belong not to you."
On marriage: "Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you."
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Inside, the snacks were ready. Fresh fruit, pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries. Mild cheddar cheese and crackers. HT picked up the food for me this morning. He feared it was too much. It wasn't.
We did a short little breathing exercise, ridding our bodies of "noise" in all its forms.
With Riley's permission I talked briefly about Asperger's. About how it's sometimes like the brakes on Riley's emotions don't work as well as they do for most. She isn't a cry baby. She feels things bigger, and it's harder for her to recover from upsets than it is for typical kids.
We talked about sarcasm, and humor and how sometimes she doesn't understand those things. Lots of kids with Asperger's don't. Some of the typicals said they don't understand sarcasm either.
We talked about non-verbal communication, and how Riley needs the words, because she doesn't always take in the affirmative nods and other body language.
We talked about how hard she has worked to be where she is today, and what a great job she does, and what a terrific kid she is, and how she would never ever EVER hurt anyone's feelings on purpose, and how just as her emotions are strong, her caring is strong. She cares deeply about people, and animals, etc.
She is a good friend.
We passed around a bag, and each girl pulled out a slip with an emotion on it, and then told the group about a time they felt that emotion. It was a good exercise. The girls really shared. They were attentive to each other.
Riley's arm tic, the one that happens when she is stoked, happy, excited, was going full throttle, so I whispered in her ear and asked for permission to talk about it. She said yes. I know at least one other little girl in the group has had tics in the past(her mom told me). I hope it helped her feel better about them. Riley was so brave and open. I couldn't be more proud of her.
I asked the group if they might be people Riley could go to, if a social situation presented itself that confused her. People she could trust to ask about what it might mean. They all nodded vigorously.
After the formal stuff they all piled into Riley's room to play Littlest Pet Shops.
Two of the little girls do not want to wait 'til their scheduled turns to play with Riley again. One of them has an idea about us making Friendship Bread, where everyone takes some of the dough something or other...she is excited to do this with the group next time.
I told her it sounds like a fabulous idea.
Riley, there in the tie-dye, had fun.
She says the best part was playing in her room with the girls. Let's hope this is the start of lots of that.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Seth was especially thrilled when they got to the Michael Jackson song. Michael Jackson is his "favorite singer." Since Seth is a wee six year old, we have not filled him in on the sad way Michael Jackson's life has unfolded. And Seth has good taste. Michael Jackson's musical talent can't be denied.
But this isn't about plastic surgery and Neverland, this is about the Voca People, and while the white outfits are a tad creepy, I am a sucker for a capella.
Monday, May 18, 2009
I'm not even going to show you Mad Guy or Furious Guy or Dead Guy. They are quite disturbing. Oh, alright, if you think you can take it...
Of course there is also Love Guy (note his heart pupils).
And no gallery would be complete without a self-portrait.
The resemblence is uncanny. I love what you've done with the eyebrows here, Mr. O'Neil. Now back to Love Guy, who did you say your inspiration was?
Your mother? How wonderful.
Of course she no doubt was the inspiration for Mad Guy and Furious Guy too.
Channel XM 156
By taking just a teensy bit of time, you could help kids affected by autism receive bio-medical treatments, and it won't cost you a penny.
Lend 4 Health (on my blog roll if you want more info)provides micro loans to families so they can get bio-med care for their kids, and they have been nominated in a contest on www.changemakers.net. If they win, they will receive $5000.00 which would help Lend 4 Health do what it does.
You have to register, and login to vote. It's a pain, but no more a hassle than it is to register to leave comments on Live Journal or Word Press or a number of other blog host sites.
We made several very small loans to Lend 4 Health a while back, and the cool thing is, the families keep paying them back, which allows us to re-lend the original money. We're talking small loans. No more than twenty bucks a pop. Anytime you want, you can decide to just keep the money you loaned, instead of relending it, but we prefer to look at it as a donation that keeps being recirculated.
So lend if you want to, but this post isn't about lending, it's about voting.
Whaddya say? Go here, and right above the nominees it says "register or login," so you register, and then you log in, and then you have to vote for three of the nominees. And keep your fingers crossed for Lend 4 Health! The contest ends May 22. $5000.00 would go a long way for this amazing organization. Thank you so much for voting.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
On the way home in the car, we were congratulating her, and Seth said, "If you watch the video tape, and you hear someone saying, "Go Riley! Go Riley!" it was me.
Random Saturday morning before everyone else wakes up, trees swaying out the window, looks like rain...
The girls we invited, having been made aware of Riley's challenges, are already making efforts to include her in free play, at least at Girls on the Run.
Hmm. You mean the kid standing on the side, with her shoulders slumped, staring at the ground wants to join us? Who knew? It didn't appear that way.
Meanwhile, Riley's first horse show is today. If all goes well, the girl who is afraid of heights will somehow magically hop up on a big horse (it still baffles me) and demonstrate her riding skills in a big ring with lots of people watching. She will come home with a ribbon. Every kid gets a ribbon. Every one of them has earned it.
Oh, before her "fancy" recorder concert for the parents the other night, after the incident during the day, she was ramping up, repeating, "I'm so nervous, I'm so nervous," and you could just see her getting very close to losing it, and one of the girls who will be coming to the group came over and exclaimed, "Riley, I am SO nervous!" and that is all it took. Her shoulders dropped. She took a breath. Someone else felt like her. The grin that ensued! It was like someone told her they were long lost twins. I find this helps Riley a lot. If I tell her a story about when I was little, and something similar happened, and how I felt, it really seems to soothe her.
Anyway, HT's raspberry swirl birthday cheesecake beckons me (just a sliver)for breakfast. I wouldn't, would I? You know I would, and not just a sliver. The question is milk? Or coffee? Okay milk first, then coffee. Definitely the way to go. Oh would you look at the time? Gotta run. Ta ta!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
In our imaginations we go on a beautiful and predictable walk and then climb into another world, something unpredictable, somewhere in the future. Sometimes they are adults. Sometimes it's just a month or two out. I usually have no idea where we are going when we start the meditation, I just wing it, whatever comes to me. We've been on many, many adventures this way. It usually takes between ten and fifteen minutes.
The kids plop their little legs in my lap, expecting a nice foot & calf rub during the visualization. They are encouraged to breath and relax throughout. It is a soothing way to start the morning, and though you'd think there would be no time for this in the rush before school, we find it makes the whole routine run more smoothly.
Today we went to Big Sur and slept in yurts overlooking the Pacific. Jenny Rough wrote about it a couple of years back, and it popped into my brain this morning, so off we went. We've been to Bali (think Eat, Pray, Love). We've been to Disney, we've been to the Grand Canyon, we've been to Riley's wedding, we've been to Seth's high school graduation and his first guitar concert, and on and on.
In every case, the kids are thriving. They are healthy and strong and there is no reason in this world to ever doubt their well being. I see it. They see it. We breathe it. We know it. We do it because it feels good, not to force any outcomes.
This morning when we wrapped it up, I opened my eyes and Riley and Seth were holding hands.
"Namaste Mommy!" they said.
"Namaste, sweet babies."
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Then the hot flashes. 2-3 an hour. Intense ones. Round the clock. How long would it be before I snapped at one of the kids? Been there, no interest in going back. The prickles started at my sinuses, traveled across the top of my head, then down my spine before my body broke out in cold sweats.
Found the perfect doctor, but she couldn't see me 'til late June. Our marriage counselor recommended someone for the interim, and in one visit he told me I was overdosed on thyroid medication. The previous doctor had taken me from hypo to hyper. Plus, (or as a result?)my hormones are messed up again.
He did some tinkering and I am okay, much better, until I can get in with the the specialist next month.
Then, just as I was making a spectacular recovery, I got strep throat. You know how I don't like to tell you about these things while I'm still contagious. Wouldn't want to get you all germy. But it looks like I'm on the mend. See? I can swallow again. Now that I think of it, maybe it was a tiny little bitch and bastard strep cell who caused all the ruckus in Niagra Falls?
Hormones are powerful things. If you feel crazy, get 'em checked. All I'm sayin.'
While we're talking about our ailments, HT has arthroscopic surgery on his knee today. Phonetically, the surgeon's name sounds like "Chicken Dance." Send love.
Yesiree, back in my day, we had to just plain deal with the goiter and the bulging eyes and the hot flashes and the strep, and cut the damn leg off if yer knee gave you trouble. You spoiled kids have it made...
We do. I know we do.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
We talked about not knowing why she slapped him. Perhaps he did something inappropriate. After all, it is not in A's nature to just slap someone for no reason. We talked about how if a boy touches you in a way that violates your privacy, you have a right to defend yourself.
"For instance Riley, if a boy ever came by and touched or pinched your bottom, you would be entitled to slap him," I said. "You have every right to defend yourself."
She began to sob. The thought of slapping anyone for any reason was beyond her comprehension. We talked about how it's possible to not like something someone does,( like A hitting the boy), but still like that person.
She was a wreck. It is all so confusing to her. She didn't want to go to school this morning because of it.
It's confusing for me too. If I teach her it is okay for A to hit, to defend herself, will she interpret it as, it is okay to be hit? After all, we can dislike something someone does, but still like the person. How do I teach her to stick up for herself? The great spiritual teachers, like Jesus and Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. would not have taught anyone to hit back. It doesn't resonate with Riley either.
I haven't yet mentioned to her that Mommy was a multiple graduate of DC IMPACT and a teaching assistant for the same program and is trained to incapacitate and knock out would be assailants with various a kicks to the head. Wonder how that'd go over?
But wait. Maybe it would. Maybe I could explain how having had this training has actually made me more peaceful. How knowing I can protect myself, allows me to carry myself differently, making it less likely to become a victim in the first place. When you are truly confident, you don't need to stick around to prove a point, potentially getting yourself in harm's way.
Or even, even, how you can't hurt someone without ultimately harming yourself. So by stopping someone from hurting you, you are actually protecting them from their own further violence which will only boomerang back to them. If you are hyper empathetic like Riley, it could be, I care about you, so I'm going to stop you from hitting me, hurting me etc.
My wish and prayer is to teach my girl to value herself, and care about herself as much as she values and cares about others.
If only the rules were as black and white as she is.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Clarissa didn't care I wasn't a biggity-wig. We got on fabulously. Crab cake lunches at the Quarter Deck in Rosyln! Woo-hoo! Matinees at The Arlington Cinema and Draft House. Bring it!
I'd do something crazy, (being 22 & all) like send an inter office email to the whole department, calling the men big fat bald chauvinists(looking back, in their defense, not all of them were bald); she'd somehow smooth it over. She really looked out for me, and rooted for me. She's just that kind of friend.
She moved to Texas, and then to NYC to do her biggity-wig stuff, and you all know what happened to me, nursing school, Todd, Riley, Seth.
Clarissa is back in the DC area now, and she has been undergoing treatment for cancer, and she has been one of the bravest people I have ever known (like you Kelli), and she just somehow keeps so positive. It is amazing.
And with all she's going through, she's still rooting for me, only now she's rooting for us, rooting for Riley, and Todd and Seth.
And it's just so nice to have a friend who roots for you like that.
I'm rooting for you too Clarissa. Big time.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
The next day, she decided to trust me. She slid off the pool edge and into my arms and I carried her. When a wave came, I bounced my feet off from the bottom of the pool and we went with it. Floating and spinning, her clinging to my neck. I think there was some singing, and some "whoas and wheeees" going on too.
We were having fun. Time didn't exist. She and me, in the water, spinning, spinning, hearts connected in joy, together.
This is one of my go to "moments." If I am having a hard time, or a negative emotion, if I can think of that one time, in the pool, fully present with Riley, not worried about the future, not thinking about the past, if I can think of it for even twenty seconds, better if it's a whole minute, even better if it's two, the whole day can be turned around. It doesn't take much to move out of a negative space.
Focusing on a moment like that, can change things.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Our last breakfast. The buffet was to die for! Fresh fruit, cheese, pastry, eggs, bacon, omelets, you name it they had it, and it was delicious.
We sat at our table, enjoying ourselves, having a grand old time.
I took a sip of coffee. Okay, maybe a gulp. The coffee was good. Not too hot, not too cold. Everything was perfect, and then, for some strange reason I can't quite say, it caught in my throat, and came projectile spewing out of my mouth, spraying all over Todd's breakfast and the wall behind him.
Yes folks, I choked on coffee.
A man from the startled couple at the next table, hesitated. He wasn't sure if I needed to be Heimliched. Note HT never came close to Heimliching me. He said because I was laughing, he knew I wasn't dying.
And I was laughing. As the coffee dripped down the wall behind HT, I laugh/coughed so hard tears streamed from my eyes, making me glad I'd forgotten to put on mascara.
Todd suddenly lost his appetite and set his breakfast aside. He doesn't like coffee and won't even tolerate a little of it in his eggs. He's such a baby.
In my forty years on this earth, nothing quite like this has ever happened to me. Projectiling in a fancy restaurant was not on my to do list.
Who chokes on coffee?
Apparently, I do.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
She got the supplements in. She got a very ramped up Riley into school on Monday(no small feat). She packed lunches. She did dinner, "I'm sorry Aunt Kelli, I don't want to hurt your feelings but I don't like this food you cooked," squeaked Riley.
Despite the rejection of her "cooking" (same chicken nuggets, broccoli, and fries I always feed them) Kelli was taken by the overall sweetness of my kiddos.
Did I mention she was up all night two nights in a row due to the newly spayed kitten who is sequestered in my office and not afraid to meow about it? Ooopsey. Oh yeah, she also did the litter boxes and even took out the garbage!
We were able to share a couple of days with her before and after our trip, and it was so good to have her here, seeing our neighborhood, eating dinner with us, witnessing our lives. She even went to chorus with me on Sunday!
Right now, she's asleep in Seth's bed, Seth is asleep on an air mattress in Riley's room, Riley is asleep in her bed, HT is asleep on the king size, the cats are asleep somewhere in this house, and I am awake, at 5AM, typing away, appreciating my sister.
Thank you Kelli.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009
-An excerpt from writer Lisa Romeo's wonderful Depression-Era Quilt essay on Skirt!.com.
Read it in its entirety here.