Wednesday, March 25, 2009

May the Man keep you Forever Young

Richard D. Buenrostro
Nov. 8, 1981-March 20, 2009

Words cannot express how much you will be missed.
Please make sure you tell the man upstairs the story about your Grandma at Walmart, about the best halloween costume EVER and the tales of Heidi and the Pub.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Winter in Savannah

I know I am behind in posting pics of our trip to Sugar Mountain in South Carolina from earlier this month. I swore to myself I'd upload pics off the camera each day and then I would get sidetracked and I would forget. By the time I did it I saw pics from before Christmas all the way up to this past weekend.

So, this is one of the few group shots I got of the kids. No, I don't have 4 kids. The one in the purple jacket is my niece. This particular pic was taken on our last day there and in one of the few patches of snow left where you could pull together a very humble snowman. Not long after this picture was taken the girls and I kicked it apart. It was like that scene in A Clockwork Orange...well, it was like a lot of scenes in that movie. All we were missing was the Beethoven.

A weekend in the snow was fun. Everyone had a good time for the most part and a few of us got our fill of snow and cold and we'll now be all set for at least a year or 4 until we need another fix. Actually, the kids loved being in the snow. There was a certain amount of disappointment in their eyes as we drove off the mountain and the questions about possible snow in Savannah ramped up tremendously once we got home. I have seen snow in Savannah and in South GA but I only have memory of it being enough to make a snowman once or twice. Once when I lived in Cairo, GA, the change in weather patterns after Mt. St. Helen erupted caused us to get snow. It was sort of grey colored but it did make a nice petite snowman. Our 2nd GA snowman was made when in was 8th grade. That snowman was even more petite and was fashioned on top of a picnic table in the playground at school. Nothing fancy but as a southern kid it was a joyous occasion. I told Julia about these experiences and at the end she was both excited about the ever so slight possibilities that she may see snow without having to be in a car "forever and ever and ever" and also disappointed over the fact that the snow I experienced down here was not enough to fulfill her dreams of snow drifts and days of school closings.

Because I am a loving and kind mommy I also shared my stories of living up in Michigan and about the winters there. She got the story of how our snot would freeze on our faces while waiting for the bus. She cringed at my details about how school didn't close at all and that you got on that bus even if the driver had to kick and force the door open at every spot. Her little heart hurt for me when I talked about how some kids had snow shelters to wait in at their bus stops on the coldest days but that we did not. Julia got excited again when I described our snow gear, Moon boots, and scarves and mittens in a rainbow of colors. I left out how hard it was to get in and out of and that once you had it all on it was a 100% guarantee that you needed to either pee or poop so bad your eyes watered BUT you couldn't go because you'd just been kicked outside to go walk up the street and wait for the bus. Oh the horror and pelvic pain! At this point in my tale Julia started to drift away a bit. To bring her back around I did talk about the insanely fun sledding and walks on the frozen lakes and about how beautiful falling snow is and how unbelievably quiet it can be during a snow storm. There is definite beauty in a true winter.

Now I'm getting all misty eyed just thinking about the fun times we did have pretending to be Northerners for a few years.

All in all I am a Southern Girl. I prefer warm temperatures and a nice sea breeze during the summer. I find comfort in sandals and layered tank tops. I don't want to wear anything heavier than a sweater or a light jacket. That's just me. I can see that my husband and my boys love the colder temps and I can appreciate our differences. It is a treat to have all 4 seasons and we often don't get that here in Savannah. Our beautiful azaleas and our knack for AWESOME Sweet Tea make up for that in my eyes though.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Today I've been truly amazed but the tiny little ways we are all connected. Not only are we connected but we are constantly touched by the actions of others that have no idea we even exist. That means that even YOU are making an impact on people that you have never even dreamed existed! Really! I know this seems such a simple lesson but it's one that I often take for granted and that I don't think about as often as I should. Recently I have made a conscious effort to thank people for the little things whenever I can and I am also trying to do right by other people in the hopes that I can pass on the kindness I have received. Not that I ever do things to be mean or hurtful or any of that stuff. I am generally a kind person and the only person I hate on on a regular basis is myself. Hey, I'm working on that too btw.

Tonight I ran into a couple that I met about 2 years ago. They showed up one morning not long after Logan, Beren, and I had gone back inside after playing outside. They didn't come to my front door like other solicitors do but they came to the back door like family and friends do. They were kind looking and by their dress I had an inkling of what they were here for.

Now, let me say this now -- I am not a very religious person but I have a healthy quest for knowledge and I take opportunities to learn about spirituality from some unlikely people and places. I don't want to form concrete opinions about God and define what he/she is/isn't but I want to know about religion and I want to have faith. I'm a work in progress LOL...

This couple were Witnesses and they wanted to talk about Jehovah with me. My first reaction was to be polite and take their publication but to tell them I was not interested in talking. Then something in me decided that their decision to approach my house differently, the fact that I just felt comfortable with them and that they didn't automatically start in on their message made me stop. We chatted for a few minutes outside and they asked if they might come back by sometime so that we could chat a bit more. I said sure but I don't know if I thought then that they would come back. They did and for over a year and a half I talked to them often. They taught me about their beliefs and they answered my questions about their faith with patience and honesty. I kept an open mind throughout our conversations and I felt that they did the same with me even though I didn't share their convictions or passions. Eventually, despite our connections on a more friendly and social basis, we decided to take a break from talking religion. It was a hard decision for me to make because I really liked this couple a lot but there was no way I could be Witness and I really had run out of religious questions for them. After that we stayed in contact through e-mail and I saw them occasionally at the grocery store or other places.

Tonight I ran into them again and I took this opportunity to thank them for the time they spent with me and for all that they shared with me. Although their religion was not for me I learned a great deal from them and I appreciated their openness and willingness to share with me even when it was obvious I was not like minded. The wife then stunned me. She thanked me for all the time I spent with them. Their time with me brought up a lot of things for them to think about and a lot of unanswered questions that they had within themselves as well. For them it meant the beginning of a new spiritual journey and they were excited. I don't know if she was just being nice but I was really touched. Not touched because I had made them question their faith. I don't want to give the wrong idea here. I am touched because the three of us made a connection. We just did what we normally do, day in and day out, but in doing that we made a difference in someones life.

Another example from today has also left me with a warmed heart. Last week in lecture our professor showed Romania: What Happened to the Children? (Turning Point, 1997) which was about families who adopted Romanian orphans in the early 1990's. It focuses on how many families discovered that thousands of the adopted orphans suffered from childhood trauma and neglect that would be irreversible. I remembered seeing this program when it originally aired and watching it again so many years later really threw me for a loop. Now I am the mother of three and I have lived so much since then. I felt so strongly for the parents of these incredible children and also for the plight of these orphans and for the kids that had been adopted. All week one little girl from the program stuck in my mind. I remembered her name and where her adoptive family lived at the time of the Turning Point program so for kicks I put that into Google. Immediately I found a few articles about this particular young woman (now in her late teens) and I was so amazed and unbelievably proud of how far she has come. She began her life as a neglected infant and toddler in a severely overcrowded orphanage in Romania. At the time of her adoption at the age of 2 she had the basic abilities of only a 6 month old. She could not feed herself, stand up, or communicate. In the Turning Point program she was in school but it had been shown that her brain function was terribly altered by her early years of neglect. This did not sway her mother though and she was a true champion for her daughter. Now this girl is a straight A student and she has grown into a beautiful and accomplished young woman. When we discussed the program in lecture this evening it was exciting to share an update about this particular girl. You'd have thought she was my own kid the way my smile beamed for her!

I sent this lovely young woman a brief e-mail to thank her and her mother for sharing their story. I was so moved by it and since our world has grown ever so much smaller with the advent of technology I felt compelled to thank them. And you know what? She wrote me back this evening! I am indeed on cloud nine this evening. What a great experience this is and it makes me feel so positive.

These are just examples from today but there are so many tiny connections that I am becoming aware of on so many levels right now. To those of you reading this please let me thank YOU for coming by and for just you being you!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Slacker or Not a Slacker?

A slacker can be defined as a person who procrastinates or is lazy.

I call myself a slacker almost daily. Mostly in jest but if you go by the above definition then I think I fit. I am a major procrastinator. This sometimes equates with being lazy as well. Another definition of a slacker is "one who is in fact suffering from clinical depression, resulting in a lack of motivation." At times I fit this definition extremely well too.

Am I really a slacker though? Today I have been a busy bee working on several things that need my attention and focus. I have also juggled this with a very demanding 3 year old and various other household details. That's not being lazy. I've not procrastinated today and things are actually getting ticked off my to-do list and balls are rolling in areas that need attention. Yet, with all that is going well today, I have put other things off a bit. They are not huge things and they are not time sensitive but not giving them attention right now makes me feel like a huge slacker. They are little tasks that make me feel as if I am not organized or able to juggle my responsibilities properly.

So, even though I am in the middle of some issues I am here noodling "out loud" and giving myself a pep talk. Why I am doing it here, I am not sure. Maybe it adds validity or maybe I want feedback. I don't know and please don't feel like you have to comment on any of this at all. We could just pretend this is all staying in my head and IF you do comment it's just me talking to myself. Or not pretend. It could be happening that way. I told you I was special. I'm also excellent at entertaining myself with nothing but my crazy mind.

Back on task. Am I really a slacker? No, not really. Or probably not. How can a mother of 3 be a slacker? If I were a true slacker I would not have completed 7+ years of higher education and still be at it cramming even more info into this head. Would a slacker have 5 cats and a one eyed fish? If I were a slacker would I have owned a business? How can you be a slacker and take charge and care for peoples needs?

If not a slacker then what am I?

I guess I am laid back. I go with the flow. I see that there is an ebb and flow, dips and curves, twists and turns to life and I try hard to not let the little details and the big details get to me. Bryan is the same way. Although we are not overly religious people we operate on a basic faith that things happen for a reason and that there are things you can't control. There are things you shouldn't control or they will make your life harder than necessary. Going with the flow of life and doing the best we can in situations that come our way has worked very well for us. Now, as life twists again we are trying not to get too worked up and we are laying the groundwork that will lead us through in a calm fashion. Not a slacker way of doing things, right?

I need to get out of the habit of calling myself a slacker. I need to not think negative things about myself and be my own worst enemy. I can be laid back and still be a positive go-getter. I can still cut short jokes on myself and be silly and not break my confidence down. I can do this without compromising my need and desire to help and please others too. Or I would like to be able to do that. I am going to try.

So, not a slacker? I will continue to be terrible at cleaning, putting away laundry and organizing things but it's not out of laziness or procrastination. I'm going with the flow and taking care of important things first. Bryan, the kids, family and friends -- these come 1st and I'll work from there.

Sorry for being scattered with this.

I leave you with some favorite short jokes:

Sara lives in the 10th floor and when she needs to get to the 10th floor from the bottom she has to stop at the 7th floor and has to climb to the 10th floor by stairs. Why? Because Sara is to short to reach the #10 button in the elevator.

I'm one of the few people to have my feet showing in my drivers license picture. Me and Little People have that in common.

Short people are the last ones to get rained on, but the first ones to drown.

Yesterday, a basketball player and a jockey robbed a shop.
The police are searching high and low.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I have been working on a post for a few days now but I've just not had time to finish it up. Since the weekend I've had a particularly nasty case of pharyngitis and besides it making it difficult to swallow it has made it difficult for me to put two thoughts together. Hell, I've not been able to put two thoughts that have anything in common with each other anywhere near the other. Christa can attest to my inept state of mind. Not that I need a witness or anything but sometimes it is a comfort to know it's not all just some running joke in your own head.

I will work on the original post after the weekend trip coming up and hopefully I'll have my brain back in tip top working order by then. OR, I will maim myself horribly while trying to show my kids how to ski/ice skate/sled in the hills of North Carolina. Either way I'm sure there will be pain, pictures of smiling wee blond chillins, and a self depreciating epic tale in there for us all. Win win situations like that are just wonderful.

On a side note -- this week has brought some very sad and scary situations to my attention and I want us all to take a moment and hold our loved ones close. Kiss your kids. Call your mom and dad and siblings if they are still around (and will accept your calls).

Several blogs and e-mails asking for prayers for some amazing little people crossed my desk. Although I do not know any of these people it doesn't lessen the emotion that goes through me when I read their journeys. This week saw the passing of a toddler who battled with cancer. She leaves behind a twin and a family so full of love for having has this little girl in their lives, even if it was just for a brief period of time. For another family it's the beginning of a long wait to see if their child will make it through a bone marrow transplant with success. These are things that so many people face on a daily basis and yet so many others take their good health and situations for granted. I'm not pointing fingers in any way but I am taking this as a lesson for myself to continue to love those around me and to tell them so as much as possible. I love you people!!! I will continue to shower love and affection on my kids even when they wipe my kisses off. I'll take that as them just rubbing them in.

Daily life hits us with adversities right and left and as humans it's part of our job to keep our chins up and our hearts open. Each day is a gift that we should not throw away or squander. It's too easy to not care or to focus on just yourself and your immediate needs but it carries great rewards to open up and share your thoughts, concerns, and love and prayers with those around you.

I apologize for rambling today and I am not sure if what I really want to say is getting out. Blame it on my fuzzy head and my first successful cup of coffee in 5 days perhaps. Or, more likely, it's that I am so profoundly touched by the sharing of complete strangers during the hardest moments in their lives that I am both wordy and speechless.

Please hug and share love with those around you today and if you can spare some thoughts and prayers for a few of these families I'm sure it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you and you know I love ya!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That

This beauty to the right is our dear daughter Julia when she was about 4 or 5 years old. Julia is definitely our family princess. She is also almost 10 years old now and she is on the verge of becoming a very kind hearted and amazing young lady. At the same time she is showing signs of the coming change and the Jekyll and Hyde moments are cropping up with some frequency. So far it's nothing too bad but we can see that some interesting times are ahead.

Yesterday was a half day for the kids and Julia and Beren came home at 12:30. Things started off going quite well and I was very proud of how mature Julia was being in helping keep Beren entertained and also helping him out with some computer activities. This continued for over 2 hours. I was lulled into believing it would last until Logan and Bryan made it home after 6 P.M.

Oh, my friends, I was so naive. I was also not prepared for the meltdown that would begin with an ear piercing scream from one child and hysterical crying from the other. I was in an adjacent room and for a split second I was utterly confused. How could something that sounded so horrible be happening to them when just moments before they were exclaiming their joy over rediscovering the Crazy Frog videos they had bookmarked months ago? What was the problem in there? Julia, being the family princess AND the family tattler, ran in to sing the perceived misdeeds of her younger brother. Bear remained crying in the other room so Julia was obviously the screamer. Seems like that would have been obvious but the unnaturally high tones they reached at the moment of insanity was near the decibel level that only dogs can hear.

The problem? At first Julia's ramblings weren't connecting with me because of the crying. Checking on Bear became mission #1. I came around the corner and he's still hollering and he's red in the face but he otherwise looks okay and he's sitting in the chair in front of the computer. A look back at Julia gives her the opening to throw her bro under the bus. In the end the battle and explosion was caused by them not being able to share the chair any longer. WTF? The intense emotion they let out over this slight after being able to share said chair for the previous two hours had me completely befuddled. I still don't get it.

Solution? I can now think of several things that would have done the trick. Separate them. Make them get off the computer and do something else. Tell them to go outside and play. Time out could have been called. Did I do any of these things? Nope. What DID I do? If you know me, as many of you do, you will guess right away what my initial reaction was. Well, initial reaction is always to make sure no one is bleeding or maimed so I'm getting at my 2nd reaction here I guess.

I laughed.

I let out the kind of guffaw that expelled most of the air in my lungs and caused me to snort painfully as I tried to draw a breath. This, the one thing that infuriates my dear loving daughter (and also her father if I must tell the truth) and makes her give me the evil eye before storming off to pout and work on her voodoo doll of me. What was I thinking? Here's the deal -- I wasn't thinking. I could NOT help myself and could not have stopped the laughter from erupting. I laugh at stuff my kids do all the time. I laugh at appropriate times but I am more well known for laughing at the kids when they will find it terribly inappropriate. Julia often accuses me of being mean when I laugh and she feels it is at her expense. That does suck but I really can't control it sometimes.

Hmm, I'm totally leading this in a completely different direction than I had planned. If you've come this far then I applaud you and I make no promises that the end will connect with the beginning in any way, shape or form. I also do not guarantee you a cookie if you finish it all. Will you accept a hand full of old Halloween candy instead? Come on, work with me here.

Laughing is one of my primary defense mechanisms. I was the kid with the nervous giggle in the doctors office. As a kid I suffered through some intense ear infections and at the doctors visits I would cackle as the doc looked in my ears. Want to confuse a waiting room full of people at the dentist or OB/GYN office? Laugh your ass off during your exam. Laugh like your sanity depended on it. They will move out of your way as you come out to leave, nurses behind you pointing you out as the culprit. Now, I don't want to give the complete wrong picture of myself. I may have only freaked out a waiting room 2% of time and I have never laughed in the company of anyone in a medical situation that was not my own. Still, my moments of mirth have been memorable.

Making my child or my spouse or anyone uncomfortable in any way, especially with laughing, is never my intent. Bryan gets this and he can let it slide. 99% of the time my laughter is not misplaced or oddly timed so there is not a big deal made and everyone joins in. Julia is the one I offend most often. She takes it personally and to the heart and until you go chase her to her pouting spot and explain your case she is a sad girl. Yesterday I made a deal with her that I hope we can both follow. I promised to hold my laughter in check with her until I get situational details and she promised to remember that I mean her no harm and that emotional scaring is not what I am after. This was a good talk. I don't know how long our deal will hold out considering her changing hormone levels and my inability to take life to damn seriously. Fingers are crossed on both sides though.

Next we need to get Julia enrolled into some sarcasm lessons. With laughter and sarcasm as your weapons how can you not excel at life?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chosen Family

Recently our daughter Julia asked if my best friend's step kids are her cousins. If you look at blood relations then Julia only has one cousin and that will likely be it unless her other uncle decides to change that. But if you look at it from the perspective of the heart then these kids are truly her cousins and she belongs to a very rich and diverse group of "chosen" family. My best friend and her family have been a part of our lives for going on 27 years now. You invest that kind of time and emotion in people and they become a part of you.

To explain it to Julia I told her that each of us has people we are related to by birth. These people are yours whether you like them or not. At some point you can decide if you want to interact with them or not throughout the rest of your life. Really though, until circumstances change or you grow up you are stuck with these blood relations. As you grow up you will meet a lot of different people and hopefully you will make some good friends. Some of these friends will become a part of your family and a part of your heart. These are chosen family and if you have some of these in your life you are surely blessed (by FSM or Buddha or whatever you look up to). Julia seemed to get the message and she started naming the people we have considered a part of our family for many years. She was really surprised and impressed at the number of people we hold close that are not blood relatives.

I have very few blood relations that I would not associate with. I come from a very loving family and I have the best immediate family that anyone could ever ask for. My husband also comes from a great group of folks that I am pretty sure have never met a stranger in their lives. Each family is unique and special in their own way and so far the blending of them all has given us 3 wonderful children.

Okay, I'm not looking through rose colored glasses here people. I will admit that some of us are quirky as all get out. It's part of what makes us special. Special and unique, not short bus special.

The whole conversation with Julia has been on my mind a lot today. I'm feeling bad that I don't keep better touch with some of my chosen family and I aim to fix that. Amazing people have shared their lives and hearts with us and I am a very lucky girl. Lucky is not a strong enough word really. Not adequate in helping explain how much I value these people and the role they have played in shaping who I am and also adding so much love and joy to my life. I will put on my thinking cap and see if I can come up with something to tell these people how much I love them. If you have people like this in your life let them know how much you love 'em.

Awe, dammit. I'm out of tissues and this paper towel is harsh on the face.