Thursday, May 28, 2015

the ripest fruit

We approach the end of the longest shortest week ever. At the end of Tuesday I couldn't believe how fast the week was going. And then this morning I couldn't believe it was STILL THURSDAY. And now as I write- it's still NOT Friday. But maybe by the time you read this it will be, so well done you. Way to go making it through another profound and ordinary week.

I went on an evening walk tonight. I realize it's my soul food and something I need to do regularly to clear my head. No music. No phones. No kids. Just me. And I walk and think and think and think and walk. And then even my thinker gets tired and I can finally just BE. Ahhhhhh. Tonight as I walked I paid attention. After spending my first 25 years in Missouri- Palm Trees still absolutely WOW me. I can't even believe I live here in this land of everything. Fruit trees almost blow my mind. They have God written all over them and I can't think of a more perfect design- Fruit on a TREE. Crazy-right? It's kind of like Willy Wonka's flavored wallpaper- but instead of licking flavored wallpaper to taste fruit, you get to actually EAT part of a tree. Tonight I saw fruit everywhere, some once ripened now rotting on the earth and even that is beautiful. I heard/read/saw something the other day. Something I've probably heard a million times but this particular time it cut through the clutter of my mind and planted itself in a way I could relate to in my life. The ripest fruit is found on the top of the tree.

Woah.

Because here's the thing. Most of us are so starving for fruit that we just grab the stuff that's the lowest hanging. Heck, we even grab the stuff from the ground because we can't wait. It's hard to delay happiness. Especially when we are emotionally drained by life and in fast need of a fill er up. It's not always easy to do what's right when what is easy is right in front of our faces. We do it all the time though- right? Eat that rotten fruit because it's so much easier than climbing to the top of the tree. It's so much harder to delay that instant happy and force ourselves to climb to the top. What if we fall? What if we get beat up and scratched by branches? What if we get all the way to the top and there isn't any fruit there- despite what our rationale tells us is true?

Yesterday the whole family joined Greyson on a field trip at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Sometimes I dread going to the zoo- you know- parking, waiting, running, CHASING, yelling, more chasing all whist begging the kids to pay attention to a single animal. Today all of our ducks lined up. Literally.

 photo _MG_1455_zpsxrruvvpp.jpg
Ok- fine- those are geese. But for some reason nobody seems concerned about getting their geese in a row.

 photo _MG_1336_zps8fr3myd0.jpg
Turns out to be our best trip to the zoo yet.

 photo _MG_1324_zps7int3m1j.jpg

 photo _MG_1329_zpscbu7a3e2.jpg
Both boys loved watching most of the ah-mals.

 photo _MG_1332_zpsn9ktwgoc.jpg

 photo _MG_1355_zpsdmyzpymb.jpg

You guys- I'm not kidding. I'm pretty sure the versions Parker sees in his head- are alive. His whole self breaks into a smile as soon as he would see the animal statue. Then he would go talk to it and love on it- like they were the best of buds.

 photo _MG_1361_zpsiscn80zf.jpg

 photo _MG_1375_zpsr0jsnfgh.jpg
Sea Lion Cove is my favorite. Theirs too.

 photo _MG_1376_zps0nvawlb7.jpg

 photo _MG_1378_zpspqhj3osq.jpg

 photo _MG_1370_zpsuudoohzi.jpg

 photo _MG_1415_zpslke1gcma.jpg
Reptiles and fish. Wonder and awe.

 photo _MG_1421_zpsexqw1ue0.jpg

 photo _MG_1447_zpslwtumedo.jpg


I ask myself, do I want what's best or easiest? And truly- I really do want what's best for my life. I want happiness that sticks around. So I will do my best to climb to the top of that tree, no matter how tall, and get the fruit that's best for me. I deserve genuine happiness. And so do you. Why is that so hard to remember sometimes?

Happy Friday-ish,

Chrissy

Thursday, May 21, 2015

antisocial (media)

Every day, every scroll, every check- it bubbles and builds up. 

The tiniest of brick is placed on top of the preceding little tiny brick. It's all so tiny it's hard to notice at first. And then suddenly every few months I feel like I am going to explode. The bricks added up and created a divide between myself and reality. I have to take a step back- a step away from the Internet and my phone and back into my real life.

My husband travels each week for work and my kids can't talk. There are many days that the only people I talk to are therapists, baristas, and Siri. This often leaves me desperate for human connection. Authentic, meaningful soul-food conversation. Social media often gives me a false sense of connection and community that I crave. That doesn't mean that community can not exist within this network, it just means it can't replace real life like I try

And there are those of us (ahem) that unknowingly attempt to make that switch on the daily. I try to substitute the cyber world for real people because it's convenient, can be accomplished in three minute intervals and is always at my disposal. Real people have their own messy lives and schedules and obligations that usually don't gel with mine. And then in small ways I trade real life for the Internet. And for me social media can be a trigger for a cascade of awful feelings. Jealousy. Fear. Inadequacy. Anger. But I think the biggest one is judgement.

I'm glad you're on vacation- I don't care! Enjoy your vacation and get off your phone. I don't need a play by play. 

Oh look! Another selfie. Why is a 30 year old woman posting selfies in the first place? 

And another picture of your kids! I get it! Somebody needs attention!

Mrs. McJudgey is awesome at Social Media. But I don't really like who I am when she is me. Especially because she is just as harsh of a judge to me as she is to others. I'm never grateful or joyful when she's around. 

We are desperate for validation and attention. And we get that in small amounts when we post a picture. You look fabulous! You're such a good mom! Your children are so cute! And then we grow hungry for that same validation so we post more. And then it's just never enough, because most addictions -even the tiny ones- never feel filled.

And so often the things we detest in others are the very same things we hate in ourselves. I am desperate for validation. (Ewwwww- that feels so weird to admit out loud!) I love to hear- You're a great writer! Photographer! Mom! Yes! Yes! Yes! I am worthy today! 

Life is work- and it's hard, as work often is. We don't often get raises or kudos or awards for being human, so when we do it can feel good. But then it's never enough. It's never enough for me. I pour my heart out into my writing and I takes things very personally. Why did you like me yesterday- but not today? Mrs. McNeedy says. The more I get the more I need -and then I don't believe you. Because the only validation that is real- is when it comes from the inside of me. We have to feel like enough. We have to make choices that make us proud of ourselves. We have to go easier on ourselves. 

I'm desperate to live in the present moment. I am also desperate for escape. Sometimes those two ideals get into a tug of war. This week I've been feeling out boundaries and working to be more present. In the middle of a moment with my kids I don't want to think- this will make a great picture/share. I want to think- this is a great moment. I am a chronic oversharer. I try to share the good and the bad but I'm still searching for my own personal boundaries. Every so often I have to disconnect and remember why I write and what I want to get from life. I have to remember who I am and who I want to be when I grow up.

 photo _MG_1256_zpsjtwvu4z2.jpg
Life is full of so many precious moments. But here's the thing- we don't know in advance which ones are important until after they happen. And they are so easy to miss when you just aren't paying attention.

 photo _MG_1279_zps17cwmcsh.jpg
Regular everyday life is my favorite. I can't imagine how it would have felt growing up if my parents always had one eye on me and one eye on a phone. Or if they jumped to check the phone with each ding of a new text.

For me- social media can be incredibly antisocial. I can hole up in my car or my home and detach and scroll. Scroll, scroll, scroll. I've thrown countless precious hours into the trash looking at pictures of people I don't know or reading a million different two minute articles - "Two Foods That Are Making You Fat", "The Questions That Will Save Your Marriage", "The Mistakes You Are Making in Parenting". The person writing those articles are just like you and me- and they are not an expert on our very specific lives. I think that so many of the answers to what we need are already inside ourselves- we don't need a stranger to tell us what is real. 

I crave the authenticity that social media cannot provide. The introverted me has no idea how to use it. I want to know YOU. Your favorite non-chocolate candy. What makes you cry. What's your favorite day of the week and why. How do you feel about God? 

I'm no good at surface. 


I know we are all raising the next village of impressionable boys and girls- and in order to teach healthy habits- we must have healthy habits. Our phone is gaining more and more importance in our lives- my phone now is equipped with the ability to store my medical files. We can pay with it at McDonalds and the grocery store and a variety of other places. There are so many great medical and technological advancements that our phone allows us. But we have to make sure it isn't coming at the price of our own personal compass, our ability to focus on the present and our self-esteem. No technology can replace those things. Last week I deleted my Instagram account. I'm limiting the places where I need to check and share. When it comes to Social Media, I don't have all the answers. I mostly have none of the answers. But I am willing to try, fail, analyze and then talk about it with you. 

As always you can email me. I love hearing from you. lifewithgreyson@gmail.com



Friday, May 15, 2015

distractions

Many of us assume Jesus doesn't talk to us. 

Maybe we don't remember how to be still and listen anymore. It's easy to blame life or schedules or even our phone for not plugging into real life. Our phone is humanless. Blameless. We are our phone because we control it. Maybe we are just being too busy with the business of life. I hate it when life gets in the way of Life. It makes me forgot why we are even here.


 photo jesus_zpsyfd2wfys.jpg
(image from pinterest)


Jesus doesn't show up to our day in a toga with Jesus sandals. I'm guessing he thinks that's hilarious. Dude- that's so 30 AD, he would say to us with a gentle pat on the back, with eyes so kind they feel like home. He can't really show up in a physical Jesus form- like in the movies or something. 

I think he shows up as a song, when we realize for just a moment we are at complete peace. Our windows are down and the music brings us to a place so beautiful it almost feels like pain. He shows up in a cashier that wants to have an interaction with us but we are busy with the distractions of life so we never connect. He shows up as a homeless woman you don't want to make eye contact with- and what she really needs isn't our quarter or dollar. She doesn't need us to judge what she will do with the money she gathers. It is our job to look her in the eye and not be afraid of her need. It's our job to offer her a smile, and maybe if you are comfortable- a word of encouragement. Her journey is hard. We do not know it. We know connection and compassion though- and that also means we must share it.

Here's the deal. You are busy, I know. We too. Every last one of us. But we must make time for what matters most to us. We can't say friendship or God or marriage or health or mental well being is important to us - if we aren't doing a single thing to contribute to that pot. We pour time into the things most important to us. What are you pouring your time into?

How much of life do we spend so distracted that we don't even notice Jesus in line at the grocery store? As a society we are so distracted from what matters most. Filling our empty with crap that doesn't matter and only grows that empty bigger. I think we are all desperate to remember how to listen again.

 photo IMG_4233_zps2gfiv790.jpg

Turn off the phone. Turn off the TV. Turn off the constant thinking and doing and guilting and busying. Pull out a notebook grab an actual pen and number 1-5. What matters most to you in the world? That is what we should be pouring more time into- those five things.

How do you want others to describe you? If you were writing the ideal story of a girl or boy named you- what would your character do? What would she focus on? Is the real you doing the same thing?

Why not?

My mantra this week- invest in the things, people and activities that also invest in you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

the beauty and the pain of time

Being the mom of two little ones feels like treading water. Being the mom of two little ones with autism, feels like treading water with weights on. And cement boots. And I'm just so tired. So fricking tired. Greyson got the flu last week, knocking us both on our butt. Midnight projectile hot dog vomiting every 45 minutes is what all the cool kids do. And Michael was out of town, of course. Because he coordinates his travel plans with whatever virus of the month comes along. He's pretty psychic that way. I couldn't get on top of it or catch up on life, and then it hit me early Sunday morning. And I woke up at 3am in a panic. Rapidly swallowing. Terrified about the next 12 hours that would surely be spent heaving on the bathroom floor. Sweating. Freezing. Begging for mercy and my Mom. My Mother's Day was spent in bed.


 photo IMG_4216_zpsu88j9gmc.jpg
With a loop of Lifetime movies, ginger ale, trashy magazines and sleep. (THANK YOU FOR THE CARE PACKAGE LISA!!!!!!!! I would be dead on the bathroom floor without you.)

And I long for that space of time where I feel caught up. I claw my way to it. I chase it with a frenzy that I detest. I curse the pile of mail threatening to avalanche, the dusty foot prints and dog hair on the floor I already sweep daily, the unfulfilled grocery list- growing by the second.

You see, this is why I can't be sick, I want to yell at someone- I don't know who? while I gesture around at the chaos wildly. I am a Mom and now I am so behind on my job. I take myself so seriously in these moments. In these moments I take my Target errands and therapies and tasks and appointments like life or death stuff, folks. SERIOUSLY. But it isn't. And I cry for reasons that feel justifiable at the time but would be so embarrassing to explain. Because they seriously don't matter to me. So then WHY do they matter? WHY AM I FREAKING? But sometimes they do make me cry- and it's outright war between the way I am acting and who I want to be. Who I think I am. When my insides and outsides don't line up it's unbearable. Like tights two inches short in the crotch. All day long, unbearable. Uncomfortable. Can't I just clear the clutter in my mind and start over? Can't I just rip off the tights? Slice them with a scissors and hear their prayer of release letting me breathe. I sweat the small stuff daily. I long for that break, that fulfillment, that solid chunk of quiet and contentedness of boxes checked, and ducks in a line of perfect so I can hold it in my hands- my worth, and run my fingers over its smooth corners and feel justified, feel productive, feel enough, feel alright, please, for just a few seconds.

But it never comes.

And something happened recently. I realized my tiny little babies are growing up.


 photo IMG_6157_zpsub7fceni.jpg
Four years ago now.


And today...

 photo _MG_1090_zps7bslovvn.jpg


 photo _MG_1061_zpsct1clh9v.jpg
It went by faster than a snap. And one day we will look back to these pictures of now and think- they were so little.


And I realized the time DOES go by fast and it DOES get easier the older they get. You seasoned mommas repeating these mantras were unarguably correct. They are seriously EASIER. I can't believe it myself. I am no longer forced to have a come to Jesus in the car before I can even step foot in Target with my two boys in tow.

Please Jesus, I just need baby wipes. And processed snack foods that are bad for you. And sugar. And a cute shirt I don't need but will think I need when I'm thick in the throes of the red and white. Please do not allow:
tantrums
melt-downs
the dumping of an entire bag of chips or box of cereal 
grumpy old ladies 
diaper explosions
cart flips
anything made of glass anywhere near my boys

Please Jesus- At least for the next 23 minutes this is my prayer as I run through aisles of Target grabbing things I need and couldn't possibly ever need, shoving stuff into my cart so I can be back in this very car unscathed in just a tiny short while. Amen. 
PS- Do you think I have time for a Starbucks while I'm in there. Please, show me a sign. 


And wasn't it yesterday that I swore I couldn't nurse for one-more-minute, I couldn't change another gosh blessed diaper? And now, today- there is no more nursing. No more daily diapers in two different sizes. And instead of exhilaration, I feel... Sad. So maybe what I want, isn't what I want at all sometimes.

I just want to be present, grateful and alive. It's so simple. Why do I make it so complicated?

Time. It's the one thing that never moves fast enough for any of us. Not while we are waiting in line. Not while we are in traffic. Certainly not at the post office or the DMV. Not while we are waiting for Summer or the end of 40 weeks or for paint to dry. Not while we are learning something new or waiting for this phase to end. Not while we are waiting for something to be created or built. Not while we are destroying and starting over. Not while we are moving. Not while we are moving on. Not while we are healing. Not while we are waiting for outcomes or answers. Not while we are nursing or diapering or cooking or cleaning or painting or lawyering or working on a project. Yes, we curse time because it just isn't fast enough.

But when it comes to our lives- our real actual- this is what's most important to me in life- lives- time moves so fast we just can't keep up. We beg it to slow. Time only has two speeds, too slow and too fast. And neither are up to us. What are we trying so desperately to keep up with in the first place? Because the babies are growing and the friendships are there waiting to be watered. This world is incredible. Magnificent. The choices we have line in an endless row of infinity further than my eyes can focus on. There are still so many places I want to visit. Foods I want to try. Friends I want to drink coffee on a random Wednesday with and have Margarita Fridays next to. I want to pause before I sweep those damn toddler size 9 footprints off my floor and take a moment to praise God for this tiny little life that lives under the same roof as me.

The bills will get paid. The floor will be swept. The errands will be ran. The marriage will be watered. The friendships will be cherished. The Thank You cards will be written. The sheets will be changed. The paper work will be completed. The yard will be mowed and the fridge will be filled. But here's the thing- never ever at the same time and that's ok. We are crossing off items at the bottom of the list while we constantly add things to the top. Let this awareness set us free. There is no reason to hurry. Your worth is not an accomplished to do list. People are CRAZY about you in this world. And not for what you do or accomplish in a day. For who you are. Say that sentence slowly- I am loved for who I am. (Don't feel stupid- I'm saying it too).You are not simply "enough". Or ample. Or adequate. Or sufficient. You don't have to strive to be enough because you already are- AS IS. The flaws just prove we are one of a kind and hand made. Besides- who wants to simply be enough when you are already remarkable, unique, awesome, astounding? God gave us all these gifts that we downplay. It's so rude to criticize gifts someone gave to us. At least for today, let's enjoy the gifts and screw the lists.

So Much Love,
Chrissy

 photo budd_zpshsu5ubal.jpg
Notice no mention of to do lists.


Friday, May 8, 2015

How I Know He Loves Me

How do you know he loves you? Does he say those three little words?


 photo _MG_9602_zpsfwmlt5p4.jpg

He doesn’t use his words, but he tells me he loves me, a hundred times a day, in a hundred different ways. He tells me with his eyes, when he wakes up and I’m the first person he sees. He smiles the faintest of smiles, with his puffy morning-eyed slumber and I know I’m the luckiest person in the world. I sneak in a snuggle and breathe in the smell of life from the top of his head, and I wish I could cancel the world and stay in bed with him all day.


He pulls me over to the swing, and gestures to help me place him on the seat. I push and push and push, until my arms want to fall off, his entire body at peace. I push him on the swing 100 times in a row. And then one more push after I swore I was done. His happiness, his calm, his squeals of delight- is nothing but a big huge, I love you.

 photo _MG_9826_zpstbqv71xz.jpg


He tells me I love you with his unstoppable strength, when he doesn’t want to work and he is so sick of another session or appointment or therapy. He aches to play outside and be alone. He screams and cries and looks to me to rescue him. I don’t, I tell him, you can do this and I am so proud of you, even though sometimes I really just want to grab him and run away. He tells me that he loves me when he calms down, stops crying and starts to do what is asked of him. His face says, I don’t want to do this today, but I trust that you know what’s right for me momma.


When he falls down and gets hurt, he rushes right over to me, and it makes me feel like I just won a prize. He cries while I hold him, and whisper- it will be okay. He lets me hold him tight while we rock back and forth until his shuddering stops. His arms around my neck, his ability to find his calm in me, tell me without a doubt that he loves me with all his heart.

He tells me that he loves me with the relief in his eyes, when I am able to figure out exactly what he is looking for, or what he wants, or needs- even if he is not able to say the words. I know when he is hungry or sad or frustrated. I know when he is hot or cold or excited, all by just a look. I know he is anxious when he can’t stop humming, ticking and moving and he is covering his ears. I know he is happy when he jumps up and down and flaps his hands and makes high-pitched noises. I’ve intently studied all of his non-verbal cues over the years and sometimes I think I know him better than I would if he could speak.


He tells me that he loves me, when out of the blue, for the first time in months he tenderly grabs either side of my face with his sweet little hands, he places his warm soft forehead against mine and looks so deeply into my eyes that it steals my breath. I know you are in there, baby, I whisper with tears threatening to jump out. I will never give up on you. I love you too.

So no, he doesn’t speak the three little words, "I love you",  but he tells me all the time. He loves me, and I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the incredible Warrior Mommas out there. Always remember, although they may not be able to say it, you were chosen and you are so loved.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

There is Magic in the Water

 It's not often that you meet someone and have no doubt their friendship is a gift straight from God. That's why I'm so excited to introduce you to my friend, Wendy, because she is that gift to me. I met Wendy almost four years ago, soon after we moved to the Central Valley of California. She is the calm in the stormiest of storms and truly the most grounded and open minded human I've ever met. I implicitly trust her advice on parenting, politics, books and wine. Wendy has an enviable grasp on love and life, gratitude and mothering, and every time I talk to her my life just makes so much more sense.  I'm so excited to share her words and heart with you, as well as her incredible story. So cozy up, read, and count your blessings.

________________________

There is Magic in the Water...I feel it every time I get in.  My hands slice the surface of the pool, arms in rhythmic motion, a sensation I can never feel walking on solid ground.  I swear the pattern of the black line beneath me lowers my blood pressure despite whatever swimming workout has been put on the coach’s whiteboard. The most eerie thing of all is that this magical medium that gives me peace is the same one that almost took it away.  It is impossible to know, and fruitless to question, why second chances are handed out. What I do know is that our entire family of 6, was granted one of these second chances almost 6 years ago.

The details of the day remain so clear in my mind. It started out to be a lazy Sunday.  We all went to Mass, where I chased two year old Matthew outside most of the time, he could never sit still.  My grandma turned 90 that Labor Day weekend, the kids had only been back in school a week. There was an ambulance and tow truck cleaning up an accident that had occurred at the intersection outside our church when a white car failed to yield at the left turn and an oncoming truck broadsided the white car. As car accidents tend to do, it gave me an ominous sense and I remember saying a little prayer for the people whose day had already gone so off course.

We headed home with no plans, just to relax, swim and do what all parents of young kids do, enjoy the break of the little ones eventual nap time. After almost two hours of swimming and my husband Ryan tossing kids high enough in the air to take all of our breath away, we decided to make lunch. We made all the kids get out, I carried Matthew in my arms, wrapped in an oversized towel outside the pool fence, the gate slammed shut behind us, making that annoying wrought iron sound that my ears hate, and Ryan and I went in to make lunch. Matthew’s new obsession was sitting in his beloved green and orange Dora car, the kind that you drive like Fred Flintstone, and slowly cruise all over the brick driveway. Allow me to digress and say, 2 year olds are never safe and I should have taken him inside with me. They were playing, all four together, but little ones must be watched by an adult, always, lesson learned the hard way.
   
Does it take 3 minutes, 5 minutes or 10 minutes to make a slew of PB & J sandwiches?  I still can’t answer that question. Whatever the answer, it took too long. I remember a random feeling of panic, like one I hadn’t experienced as a parent before but have had now many times since, it is almost what I imagine PTSD is like. Its an intrusive and fearful feeling that makes me catch my breath and bolt toward my kids if they are anywhere near me. That day, it made me leave the kitchen and quickly head out the back door, into the shaded yard to check on all of them, carrying whatever sandwiches were finished with me on flowered paper plates. The first thing I noticed was that Matthew was not in his Dora car. Why was the pool gate open? Why was 4 year old Kate standing inside the pool fence, gazing down into the pool?  I made my approach, still unaware of the gravity of the situation. “Mommy, Matthew is swimming.”  Kate says in her sweet little 4 year old voice, oblivious of the catastrophe in her midst.

Looking back on it, I thank God she didn’t jump in too. I don’t know how she had the instinct to freeze. I worry she will hold that vision forever and it will haunt her like it does me, his lifeless little body at the bottom of the pool, next to the side wall, 5 feet deep.

Sandwiches and paper plates flew everywhere.  I don’t know if a sound escaped my mouth before I was in the pool pulling our precious, innocent and unprotected boy from the bottom. As I carried him across the hot pool deck and out onto the lawn, I shouted for Ryan to call 911 but no voice came out. It felt like a slow motion scene from a Lifetime movie.  Ryan says his fingers tried to dial the numbers but that it took him what felt like an eternity to get the call out. I wouldn’t know, I felt an amazing strength and calm come over me and I was already working on Matthew. I hadn’t taken CPR in 15 years but I knew what I had to do, I had to make him breathe again. I pumped his fragile 2 year old chest, placed my mouth over his, and blew into his colorless lips.  I will never forget the eyes, they weren’t his, they rolled back, he wasn’t there.

The sirens were coming, I could hear them like they were in a tunnel. Breathe...water was coming out of his tiny mouth...that was good right? I heard a cough, a muted ugly scream, please don’t die. Firemen rushed in and took over. I pleaded with God, on my knees, prayers, other worldly thoughts. The sheriff was asking me questions. Was I going to get arrested?  I probably should I thought.  This was all my fault, I was negligent, I know better, how could I have let this happen.  He is not fine. This went on for what could have been 5 minutes or an hour.  I don’t know, what I really remember was being on my knees, in my yellow bathing suit on the same brick driveway where he liked to drive his car.

 I looked up from the corner of the driveway where I had been praying, they day floated like a scene from someone else’s life, and saw 3 beautiful faces that had just witnessed a tragedy that would only get worse if their brother didn’t survive. Their lives would never be the same either.  The imprints of the scene had tainted their idyllic childhood, their little brother lay screaming in a muted, haunting scream on the hard back board with horribly scary looking neck and head hardware holding him in place.  Later I heard from our neighbors that they were all praying as they watched Matthew be loaded onto the ambulance, with Ryan climbing in after them, and they sped away to the nearest hospital. I was inside, comforting the other kids, arranging for their care and putting on clothes so that my mom could drive me to the hospital where I would find out Matthew’s fate.

After getting Matthew stabilized, through a CT Scan, X rays and breathing normally, they transferred us to Children's Hospital Central California and checked us into a room on the second floor for the night. They were still monitoring his blood oxygen level and watching for signs of dry drowning, a condition that occurs when there is still water on the lungs, and can be fatal. We learned from the nurses that most near drownings are checked into ICU, with signs of brain damage, paralysis or other injuries that can last a lifetime. Matthew’s vitals, CT Scan and X-rays were all normal!  The very next day, September 7, 2009, we got to watch our little boy walk out of the hospital holding each of our hands.

 Eerily, he remembers a lot from the day.  He asks questions and has a love/hate relationship with firetrucks and the sound of sirens.  One thing he is not and never has been is afraid of the water. So many things in our lives can cut both ways.  I crave the silence of the water, the sensory deprivation that it provides.  I wonder if Matthew wasn’t, in some way unknown to him, craving the same thing. I see so many parallels between us, with his aversions to sound, crowds and other overwhelming stimuli.  As all parents do, I enjoy observing the traits we pass on to our kids, I’m sorry for some of the more difficult ones I have passed on to my children, many of which Matthew seems to have in greater supply.  It is always fun to dream of all four of their futures, but we learned from that dreadful experience that today, even this moment, is all we are promised. Live in it, soak it up.  I will never know why my mistake only resulted in a difficult twenty-four hours when so many pay the ultimate price.  All I can do is honor the gift we were given with love, respect and attention to each of our children.  Thanks to Matthew, we all use our time a little more wisely and smile a lot more when we see him out on his boogie board enjoying the waves.

_______________________

 photo _MG_5334_zpswmb1rt0i.jpg
And here is Matthew today.  I could write a novel on this kid's insight and heart.

 photo _MG_5343_zpsmvgix7zf.jpg
Wendy and Matthew.

Praise God for second chances. Thank you so much for sharing, Wendy.







Wednesday, May 6, 2015

feeler, fixer, finer

The sun splashes like tangerine nectar across the sky. The golden light kisses trees taller than my eyes can see lining the streets we live on. I walk with my face parallel to the sky so I can take it all in. I have been known to walk into parked cars I get so distracted by life sometimes. Just a few Magnolia blooms are still evident from Spring. My blood is pumping and tingling through my legs and bringing my hips to life. Heartache resides in our biggest joints, and it's important to release it. I have a moment- a feeling- that at least for today- life is so good. Every day I must remind myself to live within the parenthesis of just this 24 hours of time. The past- too over. The future--too uncertain. Today- just right says Goldilocks me. Today is regular life, everyday imperfect, chaotic, boring perfection.

Every so often I realize I have been deeply neglecting myself. Not in the- oh I never take time for me, today I volunteer at Grey's school and made home grown organic pie for the boys and barely had time to clean- super mom malarkey. No- much bigger and deeper than that. It's like my head goes from color to black and white. Everything is so hard. I still shop or go out with a friend or do "things" just for me but I still feel empty. Like someone took my favorite things and sucked out the joy from them. That's how you know you are not ok- when your favorite things don't even feel amazing anymore.

I am filled with gratitude that I am NOT in that place right now. Wednesdays are so boring they can be exhausting. I'd rather be on the go than tethered to the home all day. 

This moment wasn't boring at all. In fact, I held my breath while they sat so close. They don't play or interact much at all- so when they do, I notice. I feel amazed.

 photo _MG_1146_zps6yftr8il.jpg

I used to feel sad all the time because they didn't have the type of brotherly bond I had expected and hoped for. And then one day about 6 months ago I was picking them both up from therapy. Parker didn't want to leave so he sat on the sidewalk crying and wouldn't get up. "Bye Parker. I'm leaving." I told him as I turned to walk to the car. "Puh-kerr", Greyson said. And he went and stood by Parker and wouldn't leave without him. It was then I realized that they have a brotherly bond deeper than blood and bigger than anything I can see with my eyes. I don't have the same super powers as they do to be able to experience it- but I realized that day- it's there.



Parker has Behavior Therapy at the house from 9:20-11:40 while Grey is in school.

 photo _MG_1157_zps0qnoxylq.jpg

Parker is working on toy imitation, expressive actions, attention during circle time (they count how long he can sit and how many times he has to be redirected) and requesting using three words, "I want ____." . We lunch and then get Grey from school.

 photo _MG_1168_zps5w8qcmut.jpg
Totally too cool for school


Today we went a few minutes early to bring Grey's Teachers Starbucks. I wanted to do a little something for Teacher Appreciation Week and I am not very Pinteresty. These ladies are awesome, patient, kind and deserve to have people bring them treats all day long- not just this week. If you don't have time to do or make anything for Teacher Appreciation Week- give your kid's Teacher something they would probably like even more than a thing. Write them a quick note telling them how much they mean to you and your family. Teachers are as important as Doctors yet paid a million times LESS. Luckily we can help by paying them in words.  

Grey then has therapy from 1:45-4:15. By 4:30 I am so tired from nothing and from talking to no one. Like barely keep my eyes open tired. But it's emotionally tired because no amount of sleep can fill that hole. Michael travels frequently for work and when he is gone I get a sitter for myself for a few hours so I can catch up on me. This evening I forced a walk, a task that sounded awful, but it filled that tired so much I almost overflowed confetti. Sleep fixes physical tired. Energy fixes emotional exhaustion.

I am grateful that today the things are lining up, and the things that aren't are just fine exactly the way they are. I think that when I attempt to mask discomfort by taking care of my body - it never works because what I need to be doing is taking care of my soul. CS Lewis so wisely said, You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body. Ever since I read that I have been focusing on pampering my soul. So this evening I found myself walking through cotton candy skies, smelling gardenias, hearing the faint cheers from a High school nearby, while birds chirp and sing. I hear the crunch of gravel on the street and I take a deep breath in and remember that this- yes, this is what it feels like to be alive. This is what it is supposed to feel like, I am certain. It's not perfect. It's not free from dirt and sadness and crap. It's real, but it's good. All at the same time.

You see my friend, I am a feeler, fixer, finer. (Dude, I should totally trademark that.) I feel things BIG. So big. I cry- sometimes daily, and often from joy. I feel like wounded people bleed. I've never ever been able to keep my feelings inside. They swell and overflow. I learned the only remedy is to get them out. Share them. Feel them. Run them. Sweat them. Cry them. Try not to eat them. Don't be afraid to feel.

 photo powerful-photos-5_zpsmrdakvq3.jpg
This picture has made me feel all day. It's one of the most hauntingly beautiful pictures I've ever felt. It makes me want to know everything. I was searching for a picture of children playing violins for Grey's communication program on his ipad. His Teacher told me that he loves to watch the strings practice in the cafeteria, and I wanted him to be able to ask for that if he wanted. And this image showed up when I Googled and I just stopped breathing. This child, Diego, is crying at the funeral of his mentor and teacher who helped him escape poverty and violence through music. The most incredible thing- is that even though Diego is clearly in so much pain- he is still creating something beautiful to share with others. In fact- his ability to feel made his music even more beautiful I'm sure.

Then I am a fixer. Is there a problem? I will take care of it. I will fix it! I love new tasks and fresh spreadsheets and check lists. Sometimes I love fixing in slow and small ways. But often in big OCD, Type A ways. About a month ago I adopted a new way of thinking. One good thing, that's all you need to do today. One good thing to nourish your mind or body or soul. The next thing you know I am now walking outside, doing yoga, going to church regularly, taking vitamins, eating less candy and more vegetables. Slowly, one by one I adopted new things to fill my body and soul. Heck- this week I even had a dentist AND gynecologist appointment- so you can see I am taking care of myself from mouth to vagina head to toe.

And here's the thing, when my soul is good, I am good. A good that I know I could never fake. Tonight on my walk I saw a bitty girl on a bitty bike. So precious. She was going slower than I walk which is pretty darn slow. She hollered out to me, "I am riding my bike!" I felt - exhilaration. "Yes you are going SO FAST!" I exclaimed. Her Mom looked up and me and we both smiled so big. Void was any jealousy, any pain about what my boys can (and cannot) do. There was only joy. Oh Momma, I thought. Isn't that just DIVINE?! Look at those gross motor skills, hand eye coordination, core stability, balance, and well-established vestibular and proprioceptive system! And expressive language, all while riding her bike! Isn't development a MIRACLE?!!! Of course I didn't say that, because mostly I would have frightened this momma into thinking I was a big weirdo and she probably doesn't realize any of details because she never had to. And that's ok. That doesn't make me better, it just means our story is different. I was suddenly so grateful for the recognition that every single little step is magic. And guess what- one day my boys will be able to ride a bike and that is a joy I can already feel!!! I am still glowing from yesterday which was Parker's first accident free day since beginning potty training 7 weeks ago. A downright miracle!!!!!!I don't want this newness to wear off, because it is coloring my world gold.

And lastly, I am a finer. I need to get to the place of fine before I can exhale. Where I can say, I'm fine, because I know that particular battle has been won or processed or made fine. I often can't rest or relax before I hit fine. And quite often, life doesn't get fine that quickly or easily and we are forced to rest in the painful in between. And like many of us, sometimes I rush the fine. "I'm fine" I say with a smile, like a big fat liar because I don't want to complain or feel weak. I try to fine myself into fine. But fine can not and should not be faked for the people who really know us. And we should never try to fake it to ourselves.

Maybe you are a feeler, fixer, finer too. Sometimes it feels like a burden, but really, sometimes I'm certain it's just the work of our soul. And that can never be wrong. 

Big Fat Hugs,

Chrissy

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

dear Jesus

Dear Jesus,
Another profound and ordinary day comes to a close. It's funny- but as I sit here and chat with you all that stands out from the day was good. I don't know if that's because it actually was good or if that's because my current perspective, attitude (and hormones) are in the right place. Whatever it is, I will take it. I don't do this much- just talk to you like a pal, but I want us to be that, so here is my first attempt.

Today we had a meeting for Greyson at his school. It's called an IEP- a document created so schools know best how to educate each specific child with Special Needs.  It involves a lot of charts and assessments and evaluations. It's the third IEP we've ever had. I was so scared before the first two and this one I felt you there with me the entire time. (And yes, I know you were also at the first two- but you know I have a tendency to get inside my own head.) Of course you already know that- because you made me.


There was an entire room full of people at this meeting- all for Greyson. Do you know how happy that makes me feel? And this is the note we started on. The school Psych even drew a picture. 
 photo photo 2 14_zpsjop2379c.jpg
She really gets it. I'm so glad she was there. She even talked about how much she loves Greyson's hair. She spent a good minute telling me how amazing it is. As you know that's about 19 minutes too short to do Grey's hair justice, but it will do. 

The way the team describes Greyson makes me so proud that today I didn't even care about tests and assessment scores. Sometimes they form a tsunami of sad and fear and pain that threatens to drown me, but today- it was all good. He does what he does- he can't work any harder than he already does. There is no "more" we should be doing and I am at peace with that. His growth and development is happening in little baby hummingbird wing flaps every day. 

 photo _MG_0697_zpsdljvjhl4.jpg

He's exactly who he is supposed to be. When it is time to add, change or remove from his life, I know you will always show us the way. You are pretty insistent about that stuff. Grey amazes me daily and I see you in the actions and heart of the people that are lucky enough to interact with him. I often think my boys are actually closer to Heaven then us typical folks. 

 photo photo 2 15_zps9oadqwrx.jpg

This statue is in a garden down the street from our house. Parker talks to you every time we see you there. He grabs your hands and looks into your eyes and just starts babbling non-stop. Last week he stayed there with you for at least ten minutes. Parker moves so constantly that I don't think he does anything for ten minutes long. He just talks to you as I stand there in awe. 

 photo photo 1 13_zpsoqeqo0mx.jpg
He even listens too. In fact, he spends more time listening than talking. I think that he's on to something important with that. He is teaching me to listen more to you too. Thanks to my boys I see God on earth. How amazing is that? My eyes well up as I think about all the important assignments you've given me. Thank you for trusting me- I couldn't imagine my world without Greyson and Parker. They are exhausting and amazing.

Parker raises his arms up to me numerous times throughout the day.

 photo _MG_0686_zpswmqhajax.jpg
"I- up!" He tells me. And then as I bend down to get him he squeals in excitement and shudders he is so happy. Thank you so much for making me his mom. It is amazing. Thank you for making him be that happy, and thank you for letting me be the cause. It's so overwhelmingly good.

We've been potty training Parker for the last 6 or so weeks and it is finally starting to click to the point that our successes are outnumbering our accidents. 

 photo photo 1 11_zpsf1gf6isa.jpg

Incredible. It's the most grueling parenting thing I've done in a long time. Not because of the physical- but the emotional drain. Does that make sense? In the middle of something big like this I always lose hope and feel like it will never ever happen. I'm certain it won't. And then- long after I ever expected it- it happens. That seems to be a recurring lesson in my life.

 photo _MG_0706_zpsde32bupp.jpg
Good thing we had chocolate to help us.

I'm blown away by the enormity of being alive today. I went for a walk with a friend this evening as the sun was beginning to set. The light was golden and perfect. I took a million pictures with my mind. We talked about you and life and it felt like therapy. Life is astounding, and most days I don't even remember that. Today I am grateful I remembered. 

The other night I was getting ready to fall asleep. I set my alarm, took a drink of water, plugged my phone in and grabbed our dog, Jack like I always do. I buried my nose deep in his fur and breathed him in. I'm certain my blood pressure lowers every night at this time. He's been with us for 7 years, and I don't want to be on earth without him. The love I feel for him just washed over me and I started to cry. Big fat tears dropped onto his fur. All I could think was- I love him so much. Why can't dogs live as long as we do? I cried thinking about the day that I won't even remember his smell. How will I live then? Love and pain lie so close together sometimes, Jesus.

My friend Wendy sent me this quote today and it spoke to me in my core.

 photo photo 33_zps6gashqzw.jpg

I usually get so caught up in the human stuff that I forget what matters most. 

 photo _MG_0804_zpsoxses9ko.jpg

 photo _MG_0740_zpskn9vbeb1.jpg


Today I'm glad I remembered. Thank you.

All my love,

Chrissy