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Showing posts from 2013


As 2013 draws to a close, everyone is focused on wrapping up the year and setting their sights on 2014.  Goals will be set.   Resolutions will be broken .  Lives will be changed one way or the other.  All of this goes without saying. This time of year has been difficult for me since 2009.  In fact, it's only been the last year or so that I approached anything resembling "normalcy" when it comes to acknowledging the holidays.  Just when I started to get my sea legs back, I was struck last year at this time with the sudden death of a good friend.   This year, there is an added wrinkle.  We have spent our Advent season most appropriately, anticipating and preparing not for the arrival of the Christ but for the child or children that UMFS may place with us once we officially open our home on January 13th.  Most of the physical preparations are done.  There are 2 rooms ready (at least generically) for up to 2 children.  The locks and safety equipment have been placed

Going Home

As we shift out of the last few hours of a long holiday weekend, I'm going to share a few highlights from my hometown vacation.  Where to begin? First, the weather was perfect. While back in RVA they were facing freezing temps, I was happy to leave the house in a light fleece or t-shirt and cropped pants.  Any day you can wake to hear the roaring sound of the ocean from your bedroom window is probably a good day, don't you think?   Second, I was fairly spoiled by my family and friends.  I ate way too much (who didn't this week?) but it was all sooooo good.  My biggest problem (admittedly a first world problem at that) is that my mom doesn't have a coffee pot so we had to forage daily for our cuppa Joe.  Thankfully, there's a 7-Eleven ( Oh thank heaven!)  at the end of the block near my parents' house which forced me into a daily walk routine as well.   I think I might have been the Queen Dork of my high school. I can admit this now.  Aside from

The Next Big Thing

So unless you've been completely out of the loop for the last 6 months or so, you know that Roger and I have been in the process of training and approval to become Resource Parents (foster/adoptive parents) with UMFS .  On Wednesday, we crossed another threshold with our "opening meeting".  At this meeting, we signed all the final paperwork (Yes.  MORE paperwork!) to become Resource Parents.   Now we wait.  We could have opened our home immediately. In fact, they told us that they have some referrals "in mind" for us already.  However, we needed to get through the holiday season and (more importantly), January 7th before officially opening our home.  I know that these dates and anniversaries will come our way again; however, Roger and I both felt that it was important to get our minds set before welcoming a new child into our home. Am I excited? Yes.  Am I terrified? Heck, yes! But most parents are when waiting for a child to enter their lives, right

Extended warranties and expiration dates

On the week of our 16th wedding anniversary , I have been thinking a lot about expiration dates.  Does that sound scary? Trust me. There is no need to panic.  In fact, I think about all of the things that our marriage has witnessed in 16 years.  We have lived in 5 homes in 4 different cities. We have gone through six different vehicles. We have replaced appliances, silverware, plates, sheets, dishcloths, electronics, and countless batteries.  We have remodeled a kitchen and a bathroom, replaced a roof, put in a new heat pump, and cut down numerous dying trees in our yard.   We raised a child through her fourth year and watched her die . It seemed like a lifetime, yet it was far too short.  Many things in our lives come with expiration dates.  Some have warranties included.  I admit that I frequently get suckered into purchasing the extended warranty for my appliances and higher end electronics.  There is always the question of, "What if?" Sometimes, it has actually wo

Ghosts and Saints

It's an odd time of year. The seasons are in flux. The days are getting markedly shorter. We have shifted from waking up in the dark to driving home in the dark.  One day, the weather requires jackets and gloves.  The next day, you're wearing shorts and sweating in the sun.  All of this chaos seems to breed instability.  I am all but convinced that is why our collective unconscious uses this time of year to celebrate the dead .   Does that sound morbid?  Halloween in itself is a dichotomy between fanciful fantasy and morbid horror.  It's a day to be someone (or something) we are not. For some, that could be a kitty cat, a princess, or a cartoon character.  For others, it's a zombie or a grotesque monster.  Are we communing with the dead, scaring away the demons, or just playing make believe in an effort to escape that which we fear?  In the Christian tradition, Halloween is followed by All Saints Day. Although technically celebrated on November 1st, the first Sun


This week, I started something pretty amazing.  I am honored to have been selected in ENLP Cohort 7. We're a rowdy bunch! the latest class of the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program  (ENLP) run by the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence here in Richmond.  This 9 month program allows me to go through leadership training with a cohort of 19 other nonprofit leaders serving a variety of organizations in the RVA.  Every month, I will take a day (or so) out of my work schedule to learn more about leadership, about my strengths and challenges as a leader, and about the Richmond nonprofit community as a whole.   I couldn't do this without the blessing and support of my bosses at Commonwealth Autism Service .  I am the third employee from our organization to go through the program and I am grateful that they have allowed me both the time away from work and the funds to make this professional development possible.  I'm 40 feet in the air (on the left) ready to walk the cabl

Preparing for Change

As the weather turns slowly from summer to fall, I am increasingly aware of other changes making their way into my life.  I don't fear change. In fact, I know that change is a "normal" part of the life process. If we push too hard against inevitable change, we meet resistance and frustration.  Sometimes, though, changes come on so slowly that we don't even notice the gradual shift until the "new" has been fully replaced by "the old". Some gradual changes... I'm writing less on a formal basis these days. There was no conscious decision about this. I have just become more involved in other things.  I still think about writing quite a bit and I often write "for myself" (journaling, etc.) but I am blogging on a less frequent basis and my writing for other publications has slowed down. It's ok because I know that everything cycles back around eventually. I'm reading more.  I had gone for a long time without reading f

David Sedaris: Yoga Instructor

As I mentioned previously , Roger and I recently joined the local YMCA.  Our primary impetus was access to exercise equipment so that Roger could rehab from his recent knee surgery.  It has been a good investment, though.  I'm certainly not averse to exercise. I just have trouble making time for it with everything else going on in my life.  It almost always shoots to the bottom of the priority list.  Now I have no excuse. Generally, I don't do a lot of group exercise. On any given day that I visit the Y, I like to get about 45-60 minutes of cardio in while I read the latest selection from my local library and then do a little bit of strength training. My favorite part of joining the Y so far, though, has been regular yoga classes.   I love yoga because everyone gets to set their own pace. The best yoga instructors know how to make adaptations for the less flexible in the class ( Yep. That's me. ) and, when all else fails, it's the most serene 60 minutes of my w

Writer's Hiatus

I will admit that I have been distracted. It has been WAY too long since I've blogged and the writing aspect of my life has been swept under the rug, placed on the back burner, pushed to the side, and every other procrastinatory metaphor you might imagine.    Procrastinatory. I thought I had just made that up but apparently some online dictionaries actually recognize it. Who knew? It's not that I haven't thought about writing. I get ideas almost every day.  Some go in my notebook. Some just get locked away into my brain for later use.   In my constant pursuit of balance , I have realized that I can't, unfortunately, do everything I might like in a 24 hour period and that I do need some opportunities to relax or my head will probably explode.   So to recap, here are a few things that have been taking up space in my brain in my life recently. Becoming a parent. Again. Our process towards becoming a Resource Parent with UMFS continues.  We have finished our ini

Into the Wild

I have been in vacation mode for the last week and it has been WONDERFUL.  I started my break with a four day retreat camping at Bear Creek Lake State Park .  Roger and I hadn't been camping in almost a decade and we had definitely missed it.  It takes only a few days in the wilderness to remind you of a few important life lessons. Home Sweet Home for just a few days Plan ahead.   Everything takes longer when you're camping.  To get from our campsite to the bathroom, it was a 200 foot walk, uphill . It was definitely not wise to wait until the last minute.  Also, cooking over an open fire takes a while. Don't wait till the last minute to decide that you're ready for some dinner.  There are no microwaves in the great outdoors.   Learn to make do.  When you try to pack light, reduce, reuse, and recycle is the name of the game. Our fast-drying camping towels worked to dry our pots and pans after eating and our bodies after showers.  We only needed one spatula, 2 fo

The Journey Continues

With so much going on this time of year, sometimes it's easy to forget about upcoming days that can send my emotions into a tailspin. Then it hits me in the oddest ways.  I have felt the impending gloom regarding Charlotte's July 9 birthday creeping in slowly and stealthily.  I'm totally fine. And then I'm not.   Losing our daughter would have been challenging regardless of the circumstances but sometimes I think I feel the loss even more profoundly because she almost didn't exist.  I'm not sure how many people know the details of how Charlotte came to find our family.  Don't worry. This isn't some salacious tale of where babies come from .  Our journey to parenthood started with challenges.  Back in 2001, after marriage, grad school, and achieving a sense of stability in our lives, we abandoned the birth control and examined our fertility.  Unfortunately, my body didn't want to cooperate.  By early 2004, I was seeing specialists who delivered m

It was just yesterday!

This week marks 20 years since I graduated from Spruce Creek High School.  Yes. You read Class of '93. I haven't changed a bit, right? that correctly. Two decades.  I know. I can't believe it either. While you are recovering from that shock, I thought I would share some of the thoughts that have been floating around in my brain as I knew this anniversary approached.   First, a few surprises: I'm not exactly where I thought I might be career-wise.  I thought I would be a music teacher.  I left high school and entered college as a music therapy/music education double major.  Somehow the music ed degree was left behind.  That being said, I still work in education. I guess it's not that much of a stretch. I did, however, think I would do more with math.  I loved math. I still love math. Yeah, I'm that kind of weirdo .  I ended up minoring in math in college, thinking that with the aforementioned music education degree, I would always have a way to teach

PIck myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again

As the media reeled this week with stories of disaster in Oklahoma, I was especially touched by a story I heard on NPR last Thursday .  The Phillips family knows what it is like to experience loss.  In 1999, they lost their home to another tornado that hit the Moore area.  They rebuilt two miles away only to see their home destroyed by this latest natural disaster.  An aerial view of some of the Moore, Oklahoma destruction. (Source) The entire family is safe and sound. Nobody was hurt. Nobody died. But they have essentially lost everything.  A hall closet filled with linens seems to be the only structure that escaped the scene relatively unscathed.  As I listened to this family speak with cracking voices, you could hear that combination of resilience and sadness that inhabits those who grieve.  Rena Phillips told the NPR reporter, " I ran last time, I'm not running again," she says. "It's like why run? You know I still had a little fear, but God deals with

Even superheroes get the blues

Last week, Roger and I had a rare date opportunity so we actually got to see a movie. In the theater.   What a treat! We seized the chance to see the latest Iron Man flick.  It is rare that we miss a superhero movie. Admittedly, some sequels are better than others ( Batman and Robin , anyone?) but it's tough to screw up a good superhero story and the latest crop has had a good track record. Iron Man 3 was no exception. It had just the right balance of action, violence, romance, callbacks to previous films, and hints of what is probably to come in the forthcoming Avengers sequel.  Here is what I didn't expect: apparently Tony Stark and I have a few things in common. No, it's not the endless supply of revenue.  It isn't the supersonic brain that slips into hyperdrive and invents objects that in the "real world" would be worthy of a Nobel Prize. It isn't even his ability to charm the pants (literally) off of most members of the opposite sex.  Our commo

Be the Good

What a week! It's hard to believe that last week at this time, we were all oblivious to the crazy events that would unfold.  First there was the earth-shattering news of the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday, followed closely by the Ricin-laced envelopes sent to President Obama and a Mississippi Senator.  Then, a fertilizer factory in West, Texas decimated a tiny town with barely 2700 people.  While we were trying to take all of this in, Boston was shut down for essentially two days as events we previously only witnessed in Jason Bourne movies played out on our television sets.  By the end of the week, my friends and I were emotionally exhausted and we were not even living in the cross-hairs of all this drama. We were merely spectators of unspeakable and unimaginable tragedy. When tragedy strikes, it is easy to think of everything that has gone wrong. You think of the sadness, the senseless violence. You think of lives that were changed in an instant.  I found myself leaking

Jesus is Just All Right With Me

Here we are at Holy Week.  What a crazy Lenten Season this has been.  There is a new Pope on the block . Although I'm not Catholic, the transition seems to have implications across faiths and around the world and Pope Francis is an interesting guy, to say the least.   Sometimes, you just gotta go for the grilled cheese with fresh tomato and basil.  I gave up french fries and soda for Lent.  It was a good choice because I found myself falling into bad habits with my eating and those are two things that can be vices for me.  I only cheated once.  I really really  wanted a grilled cheese sandwich at this restaurant in Charlottesville and there were no "side substitutes".  Yes, I know I could have just not eaten the fries .  I cheated.  I will say 2 Rosaries and 3 Hail Marys.  Oh yeah. I'm not Catholic. In all seriousness, though, my view on Lenten sacrifice is that whatever habit I choose as my focus, whether it is giving up something bad or trying to do something