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Showing posts from 2011

2011 in Review

So here we are on the penultimate day of the year. I survived the Christmas holiday . I even went to church. More on that in a future post (possibly). The last week or so has been a wonderful combination of relaxing and productive. I admit that I haven't blogged much but I've been busy with other projects at home.   In thinking about the close of the year, I considered a collection of lists. I've been enjoying all the other Top 10 Lists populating the Internet these days but when I considered my own, I felt horribly inadequate. I've only seen from 1/3 to 1/2 of the movies that people are talking about on their 10 best list. I don't think I even saw 10 movies in the theater this year. I wouldn't be a good authority on movies. I've read a lot of books this year but I've already reviewed those books on my blog . You can always find me on Goodreads to get an idea of what I liked or didn't like.  Music. Well, I listen to a lot of music and my tast

Finding Peace at Christmas

People have been checking in with me and Roger a lot lately.  There is the usual banter: "Are you looking forward to Christmas ?" (Um. Sure. I guess.) "Are you ready for the holidays?" (Yeah. We kind of play it low-key in our house. You know.) "How are you doing?" (I'm hanging in there.) Some questions come out of run-of-the-mill small talk. I realize every day how many people I work with or see who don't even know my story. They don't know my truth . And sometimes it's just too difficult to explain. Other comments come from genuine concern. We have a gentle and supportive circle of friends. It is helpful. I am glad that other people remember.  I think about it every day.  I have thought a lot about how much I wanted to push myself during the holidays. Roger and I have had many discussions.  Do we put up a tree? (the answer this year was no)  Do we send Christmas cards? (not this year)   Do we give gifts? (not really)  Do we

A year of memes

Can you believe that it's been a year since I started my blog? My first post was December 13, 2010 (Yes, I realize that's technically not until next week but I'm writing about it now. Deal with it.) Here's a few stats for the math nerds: 88 posts (this one will be 89) 26,000+ pageviews 352 Twitter followers Where do these readers come from? While most of you hail from the U-S of A, I've had people in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Germany, India, Romania, the Philippines, and the Netherlands read this blog (hi y'all!) This was my most popular pos t, thanks in part to some interesting conversation generated within the comments. This was the next most popular post  but I think this poem was my favorite post of the year. I read an article on Mashable today about the most popular Facebook status updates of 2011 (Facebook's memes , if you will). It looks like I covered about half this list.   For your review: Here are my comments o

On Newsstands Now!

Something to do while you are out this weekend pursuing your holiday shopping: Step 1: Get the latest issue of Richmond Magazine  at your favorite local Richmond retailer Step 2: Turn to page 79. Step 3: Read my essay on generosity in the Richmond community. It's part of the Best of Richmond feature article.  (The rest of the magazine has some great articles too, including a piece on the lack of community services available for adults with autism in the Richmond area.)

The First Moment

December 1st is one of those days for me. I don't know if all mothers mark this day, but for me it is one that I will never forget. This was the day in 2004 when I realized I was pregnant. This was not an easy journey. We had been trying to get pregnant for over three years. Many medical tests, fertility treatments, and months of disappointment later, we had essentially given up. The doctors had said that without major medical intervention (i.e. in vitro or use of an egg donor), we would probably not get pregnant.  I wasn't ready for that battle. My body was tired. I was emotionally tired. We didn't have the money and I didn't feel like I could handle the emotional ups and downs of an in vitro process.  In early 2004, we decided that our best option was to pursue adoption. Roger and I enrolled in foster/adoption classes with a local agency and we had started what we thought was our journey to parenthood.  I put away the pregnancy tests and we started talking about h

Time Travels

While on our vacation , I spent a lot of time reading.  Here are my reviews: 11/22/63 by Stephen King My rating: 4 of 5 stars I'm so happy Stephen King isn't really "retired". 11/22/63 was an epic novel (690 pages!) that did not disappoint. King is the master at spinning a good yarn. In his latest book, he creates a time travel scenario just this side of plausible with characters who are believable, likeable, and still genuinely human (i.e. flawed). As protagonist Jake Epping attempts to make good on a dying man's wish to use a found portal into the past to stop the JFK assassination, he embarks on a journey that is part history, part fantasy, and completely engaging. Through the lens of the early 1960s, 11/22/63 explores the possible implications of time travel, examining that age-old question: are we masters of our own (or someone else's) destiny or is life more about a predetermined fate. As narrator, Jake repeats two mantras throughout the journ

What I learned on my vacation

The vacation is officially over. Roger and I had a wonderful and relaxing time.  A few lessons learned: Lesson #1: Air Tran provides excellent customer service. The weather in Richmond delayed our departure and we missed our connection in Atlanta.  Fortunately, Air Tran put us up in a local hotel with a meal voucher and a flight out the very next morning. Unfortunately, we didn't get to the hotel until almost midnight and needed to leave  the hotel at 6 AM to make our shuttle. We didn't get a lot of sleep and the hotel had some bizarre issues with the room: the remote control for the television just advanced the channel regardless of which button was pressed (including volume).  Plus, the telephones were disconnected from the wall jack. When we connected them, the dial tone didn't seem to work. Good thing we had our phones and didn't need a wake-up call.  It was clean, though, and it was better than sleeping in an airport terminal.   Lesson #2: Social Media is wond

Beating the Odds

On this day in 1997, Roger and I got married, surrounded by 120 (or so) friends and family.  It was a simple, beautiful, and fun event that marked the start of an amazing adventure that we call our life.  As I thought this week about what I might say in a blog post about our marriage, I had many ideas. I could list the reasons why I love Roger. I could share the things that I have learned about relationships in our 14 years together. I could recount many of the memories (good and bad) that have become our lives.   None of it seemed to hit the right tone. I don't know if there is a secret to our successful marriage. I've seen other friends and family get married. Many of them have also seen divorce. Our lives have seen joy and loss, success and failure. Is our marriage successful because we are a good match or is it because we do the right things and make the right decisions? I'm not sure. Every day I feel lucky to be married to one of my best friends. I don't thin

Recent writing

In case you've missed it, I've been busy blogging over at Insert Eyeroll and Richmond Mom .   You can find out the latest news on movie releases , new developments in anthropological research , and more options coming soon to a video kiosk near you.  On the serious side, I also wrote a short essay on the lessons Robert taught our community in response to recent events.   Stay tuned for more reading material. The book is still "in process" and we are hoping for an early 2012 release! Don't forget that it's Election Day. Perform your civic duty and vote, even in the uncontested elections.  

It's that holiday season. Again.

Now that Halloween is over, it seems that the end of the year holidays are clamoring for attention. Our stores were filled with Christmas paraphernalia before the Halloween candy and costumes even managed to walk off the shelves.  Everyone complains about it but it doesn't seem to change the mind of marketers. It only seems to spur them on.  I've been ambivalent about the holiday marketing onslaught for years. It seems that the focus for these holidays moves a little bit more towards conspicuous consumption and away from the true Reason for the Season. For almost 10 years, Roger and I have been gradually paring down our holiday gift giving. Our "gift" to friends and family has been a donation to a worthy organization in lieu of presents, sometimes accompanied by a symbolic token representing the organization. The first year, we donated to Habitat for Humanity and made simple but artsy pictures frames out of hardware materials (washers,bolts, and nails).  Another year

Living Without

One of my never-ending sources of inspiration is Miss Britt .  After discovering her blog, we were fortunate enough to meet her and her family in real life  during the first leg of their cross-country RV adventure.   This past week, she wrote a piece for TLC Parentables  about the things her family has learned to live without. I am constantly grateful for all that we have. More and more, I have been feeling this pull to minimize and scale back. While there are some things that I love and can't seem to live without (more on that later), I find myself asking the question, "Do I really need that?" quite a bit lately. Britt shared the things that her family has eliminated from their life (without much sacrifice) so I thought I would share my own list: 1. Cable TV   We dropped our cable in July and I haven't missed it. There are times when I wish I could watch something on NBC (our antenna doesn't seem to get a good signal for the local affiliate). I'm sure

Waiting to exhale

This has been a difficult week but it ended well. On Sunday, I heard the news that a child was missing in the woods north of our house.  Not much later, I learned that the child in question was Robert Wood, Jr. For those of you living outside the Richmond area, Robert is an 8-year old with autism. He is nonverbal and his skills are somewhat limited.  He wandered away from his father and brother during an outing at a local park on Sunday and they have been searching for him all week. I was nervous as a parent who could only imagine how challenging it would be to know your child was missing.   I was riddled with anxiety as someone who works regularly with children with autism.  I know that these kids can sometimes bolt and run, even when you are providing conscientious care.  Any time a child goes missing it is stressful but when that child cannot communicate effectively, the risk is that much greater.  I was also sad and scared because I know Robert. I know his personality. I know h

Therapeutic Writing

I attended a writing workshop this weekend.  It was led by Carol Henderson , an author who has made a career of writing and helping others learn how to be better writers.  She also happens to be a mother who has lost a child. The workshop was organized by Noah's Children  for mothers and grandmothers who have lost a child (or grandchild).  We were a small group, bonded by our own horrific events and looking to explore our grief through writing.   While the intention of the workshop was not to be "therapy", the writing was a great way to tap into those complex experiences that surrounded Charlotte's death and the grief process.  Of course, there were tears all around but it was a safe space in which to share.  It was good to write and have the option to share...or a room that could carry the weight of our grief.   The seeds of some interesting thoughts are germinating in my new writing journal.  Many of these kernels of truth may never see the light of d

Follow Friday: A few new favorites

Happy Friday! What a busy few weeks it has been.  Considering today may be the end of the world...again...I guess everyone is just trying to make the most of it.  If you missed my Instructions for the Apocalypse the first time the world was supposed to end this year, you can catch a refresher. No reason to leave the Earth unprepared.   In case the world doesn't end today, here are a few books to add to your reading list: Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland My rating: 4 of 5 stars What a great read! I have always been fascinated by Louis Comfort Tiffany's artwork and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel of historical fiction. Told from the perspective of Clara Driscoll, one of the lead designers for Tiffany's windows and lamps, the story was built on the historical information left from the day (personal correspondence and other documents). I loved the author's meticulous detail in describing the methods by which the women created these amazing works of art. It

Adventures in Domesticity

We all complain about housework. There are a few rare birds out there who love to clean. I admit that this is a huge weakness of mine.  It's not like I don't know how to keep house. I like to be organized. I know how to clean. There are some aspects of cleaning that I don't even mind.  It just doesn't seem to happen.   Cleaning just constantly sinks to the low place on the totem pole.   Here are a few of my stumbling blocks: My husband and I both work. A lot.  Roger's jobs have him running around, away from the house, 45-50 hours a week, including evenings and weekends. My primary job has me working 40 hours as well.  On top of that, I usually come home and tackle CJSTUF duties in my spare time. By the time 9 PM rolls around, I'm not in the mood to clean the bathroom. When I have a free day on the weekend and nothing  else is scheduled, I can get a lot of cleaning accomplished.  Those days are few and far between.  I frequently quote Miss Scarlet

Battle Scars

I'm very eclectic when it comes to movies. I like dramas, comedies, and thrillers. If you checked my Netflix queue, you would frequently find foreign films, independent films, and documentaries rounding out my list. I even love a good slasher flick every now and then. It all depends on my mood.  Sometimes you know what you're getting into with a movie. Roger and I went to see  The Blair Witch Project right before going camping in the middle of a Virginia State Park. Not one of our smarter moves. If I ever need a good cry, I just pop in Sophie's Choice or ET . If I need to laugh, I put in anything by Mel Brooks or Monty Python .  These days, I tread lightly when it comes to films that revolve around death or illness. It can be a slippery slope. There can be a certain amount of catharsis  in watching these films and I think that's healthy. At the same time, it can open up old wounds. You have to be ready to cry. The other danger with these types of movies is