Thursday, March 25, 2010

I've Moved

Today was moving day.  I packed up my blog posts and moved them over to Wordpress.  Nothing against Blogger or anything... but Mothers With Cancer is over at Wordpress, too.  Plus there are some pretty nifty things one can do with a blog in that other neighborhood.  Which, of course, means I'm still reconstructing things a bit.  But it's presentable...  So drop on by...

So I've moved my diggs.  I can now be found at  Don't forget to bookmark the new site. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Dream

I'm still in the throes of the dream I had this morning.  It was like a combination of every bad dream I've ever had.  I was a child.  I was an adult.  My mom was there. And my sister.  And my Dad.  At times my boys.  Even my BFF was featured in a phone call.

There was a tornado.  I was at my mom's with her and my sister.  We watched the sky storm and clouds gather in amazing  black, greys and purples.  The Weather Channel was on.  I was in my mom's house calling updates through the window while she and my sister corraled the animals.  My boys were running in and out of the livingroom "Mom!  Mom! Moming" me to death.  The Weather Channel showed two storms combining.  Outside the funnel began dropping.  Inside the child me, my sister and mom all huddled in the bathtub together.  When the tornado was gone we went looking for my Dad as if he were a wayward puppy.  We found him on the back deck uninjured but no less dead.  And I knew it would happen like that. 

In the aftermath of the tornado there were huge fires.  Magically, the three of us and Ben were at a favorite steak house in my hometown that had caught fire.  We broke in to get the dogs out.  ???  I found a steno pad with the owner's number and was busily calling him when an angry man started berating me for being on the phone.  I cursed at him and kept on with my business.  There was a lot of frenzied activity and fire putting out going on.  Soon I'm about a quarter mile away looking on the scene.  The restaurant is in the middle of a field of ripened hay looking very much like 3 red barns clustered together.  There was singeing around the edges and vibrant pastoral colors.  The adult me felt a very physical craving for my camera. 

Then the scene changed to one in the center of town.  Everywhere there was devestation. All over were the dull greys and browns of collapsed buildings and flying dust surrounded by the vibrant green hills of springtime.  I was in a 50s style diner that I think was made out of a bus or train car or something.  I was on the phone with my BFF retelling the events of the night/morning.  I don't know where my mom was but my sister was outside in the street talking with the milling people.  As I walked to the steps leading outside I glanced over the hills.  There I saw a jumbo jet flying very low and very upside down right towards us. 

The dream shifts into that frantic slow motion disaster speed that only dreams and real-life tragedies can somehow manage.  I dropped my cell and began looking for my sister.  I jumped clear of the diner as it is demolished in a fireball of plane and screaming people.  My sister is doing that looking-over- the-shoulder backwards run from the movies.  She's trying to outrun a crashing jet!  I scream to her to run to the side!  Like a riptide!!!!  Get. Out. Of. It's. Way!!!!! 

And we're fine.  But the world is a flaming, smoking, disaster.  And I need to find a bathroom.

I don't think it takes a genius to see the symbolism there.  Tragedy is surrounding me.  My friend Sarah is suffering a recurrence of her breast cancer.  Susan is waiting on her biopsy results after a bad scan.  My own yearly scan is this morning.  Everyone I know is in financial turmoil.  There is devestation everywhere I look these days.  And beauty.  Undeniable beauty that I feel a physical need to document.  And we come out on the other side.  We're fine. 

I'll hold on to that.  We'll be fine. 

I do wonder where my husband was, though...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Soft Sand, Stinky Seaweed and a Butterfly

I finally made it passed the six mile mental block on my walk today despite Daddy-o's lame advice and kid duty.  I did manage 6.25 miles but I had to work at it.

I've had a couple friends tell me I should try walking out by the sand spit.  Daddy-o took Ben out there with his friends a few weekends ago, too.  Even he was singing the area's praises.  So last night I mapped out a nice 6.5 mile walk from the house to the sand spit, around in circles a few times for good measure and back home again.  Unfortunately, I had a 1.5 hour time limit because the boys had batting practice. 

So I headed out this morning about 9:30.  It was beautiful and sunny.  I ran into one of the school moms and stopped to chat (for a tad too long) and lost about 20 minutes.  Yikes!  I picked up the pace and hoofed it through the golf course to the trail head where I soft sand.
Ugh.  I specifically asked Daddy-o if the trail was sand or not.  He told me to walk out there and see for myself.  Humph!  I don't necessarily mind soft sand... if I'm on a leisurely stroll or actually, you know, on the beach.  I was not thrilled to wade in for my morning power walk.  I sucked it up, though, already planning on cutting my walk short at the nearest, pride-sparing opportunity.  Just to add insult to injury, the fog was rolling in thick.

What's the big deal about soft sand?  It's a better workout as Daddy-o was so happy to tell me.  I, however, am working for endurance and distance, not strength or whatever one gets from a "better workout".  Plus, the going is much, much slower in loose sand than hard pack and I had a deadline this morning.  Worst of all, though, is the fine, silty sand that works it's way through your shoes and socks and nestles in between your toes.  Yech.

Anyway, I sucked it up and turned back to civilization just as soon as possible.  Turns out there is some beauty out there after all.  The trail meandered into a grove of Eucalyptus trees that were peaceful and full of soft morning light. 

There were two rope swings in there that I took Danny back to in the afternoon.

And some beautiful giant Eucalyptus...  And since I've discovered PhotoShop Actions this week I'm going to show you the same picture with at few different actions... just to show how different it can make a picture appear...

The second one is my personal favorite.

After I hit the pavement again I made much better time but was dangerously late so I walked to the ball field to meet Daddy-o and the boys.  He cut me loose for the rest of the walk.  Yeah!  Now I just had to make up some mileage. 

I took a meandering route my the way back bay where I was bummed to be assaulted my the smell of low tide.  Stinky seaweed.  Yum.  I was also privileged to find a tiny Monarch Butterfly sitting on the trail.  It let me hold it on my finger and check it out for the briefest of minutes before it fluttered on it's way.  Simply beautiful.  There were lots of these poppies everywhere too. 

All in all, a great walk, stinky seaweed and soft sand aside. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Strutus Interuptus

Have I told you lately how much I'm enjoying my training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer?  There are so many reasons to love it I can't list them all here.  I am getting loads of quality Me Time and a giant infusion of upbeat Disco, 80s and Lovely Lady Lumps/Baby Got Backish music from my iPod.  Plus there's the whole pre-summer tan thing I have going on...  which, by the way, is good for me because Vitamin D is good for me and every other woman in the world.  Did you know there is an association with breast cancer and low Vitamin D levels???  Just sayin'.  There's also the photo opportunities.  Oh, the photo opportunities!!!  That's a post or twenty in and of itself.  Plus, I'm outside.  In nature.  With wildlife.  I'm appreciating this in ways I never have before.

Every day I am bombarded by nature: blooming wildflowers, budding trees, nest-building birds of every feather and largish rodents by the many, many dozens.  I routinely see rabbits and ground squirrels in a panic-induced sprint at the mere sight of me walking their way.  It's laughable, really, because if I'm so all fired scary, why do they always run completely across my path to get away from me?  Also, they're just too Chip n' Dale-y not to laugh out loud when I see them. 

Today my walk took me by two different gangs of turkeys.  Apparently it's wild turkey breeding season around here because each gang had 4-6 females and a single male trying mightily to impress them.  I wish I'd had my camera.  The males were really strutting their stuff.  Their body feathers were all puffed up making their heads look all itty bitty.  Their giant fan-like tails were proudly unfurled while they each sauntered up and down the roadway in front of the females.  The females, on the other hand, were busy scratching at the ground looking for whatever it is turkeys eat. 

I found it immensely amusing to see the males slowly shrink back down to size as I approached.  I passed each gang twice.  Every time it was the same thing...  strutting guy-turkey showing his wares, hens busy with dinner, irritated male glares while suffering from visible shrinkage and slinks off the road.  It was strutus interuptus at its finest. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Yesterday was a big day.  I went to observe a kindergarten class on Danny's behalf.  A Special Education Kindergarten.

I'm always amazed when something offends or bothers me because I'm usually so whatever about stuff.  The first time his Orientation & Mobility therapist brought a cane for Danny to use he paused before showing it to him.  He looked to me and asked if I was ok with it -- the cane.  I didn't understand what he was asking at first.  I was too busy being excited for Danny to examine my own emotions.  I hear a lot of parents get a little freaked out when they see their little ones using a cane for the first time.  Meh. I wouldn't know. 

There's a possibility Danny is somewhere on the Autism Spectrum.  It's never bothered me.  Whatever.   He is who he is and a label on his quirkiness isn't going to change anything.  What it may do, though, is identify other tools we need to provide for him to be successful.

We have always planned on mainstreaming Danny.  In theory, he's just like every other kid only he can't see.  Why make any more concessions to his disability than we have to?  Life moves fast so try to keep up.  Blah, blah. blah.   Daddy-o and I don't cut either of the boys much slack in the expectation department.  Sink or swim.  Right.  Right?

This school year it has been particularly difficult to find an aide (para-educator) for Danny.  They spent a good amount of time interviewing before school started.  When I finally got the gal's name I Googled her for some reason.  What came up was less than comforting.  There were at least a dozen sites where she professed to be a Wiccan into Paganism and the Occult.  I totally lost my cool.  Turns out our school district doesn't Google their potential applicants.  We're on our third aide since September.  The Wiccan didn't make it out of the gate so we had the Para-Educator's educator working with Danny until they found someone else.  That someone else was a guy who had been aiding in the preschool class for a while.  He was enthusiastic but had no formal para-education training.  Danny loved him.  Turns out it was because he was an enabler that didn't challenge Danny at all.  Which brings us to our current aide.  I'm not a fan.  Danny seems fairly ambivalent.  She strikes me as a clock-puncher.  She has no investment in Danny's successes or failures.

Danny has done a good amount of backsliding as a result of all this instability.  Our case workers have been urging us toward placing him at their main school - the one for special needs kids.  That translates two ways to me.  Sending him to their school would relieve them of hiring someone specifically for Danny.  Also, the more kids in their school program the easier to justify it's existence.  It would also mean a long bus ride each way because it's in the neighboring town.  Seems like a little much for a 4 year old.  Plus it wouldn't be very convenient for us.  I guess the whole Special Ed thing was a big component in my resistance as well.  Hey, no one is more surprised than me. 

When push came to shove and The Kindergarten Decision had to be made, I had to acknowledge that Danny is just not ready.  Not for mainstream kindergarten, anyway.  But I didn't want to stick him back at the State Preschool again next year  The class makeup could be anything from mostly 4 year olds to all 3 year olds or somewhere in between with Danny 5 going on 6. 

So I went to check out the Special Ed Kindergarten yesterday.  There class consisted of 6 kids of varying  abilities... heavily weighted towards the Spectrum side of things.  Initially, I cringed to hear the lack of verbal skills from 5 year olds in the second half of kindergarten.  Surely, Danny doesn't belong here, I thought.  But then I saw 1 teacher and 3 para-educators to 6 kids.  And saw the required peer interaction to earn free play time.  I talked to the teacher about how they spend inordinate amounts of time with each new activity or event; practicing and perfecting each routine until all are confident in their ability to perform.  I wondered how often Danny feels drug through life... a traveler on a journey he has no control over.  And I realized that was the place for him. 

In August my son will start Kindergarten in a Special Education class.  He'll be surrounded by children with Autism and mental and physical disabilities.  They will be his friends.  He will thrive.  And I will be a proud Mom.  I'll be all whatever again for the next big thing.