31 October 2010

Never fear, I have been warned by my dear prosecutor friend about the hazards of "online dating" I will be careful and taking precautions.

It is 9:39 and Julia is still asleep. I am astonished but at the same time, I've been saying that she is tired and needs sleep. Sleep, like food, cannot be forced.

We need to do pumpkin carving today, and get Julia ready to be a dinosaur tonight. I have a story with her costume, but I will tell it when I put up some pictures.

Gardening did some good for me last night. I slept. Unfortunately, I had planned to get together with a neighbor to watch a movie after Julia went to sleep. Instead, of calling her when Julia fell asleep, I fell asleep, waking up far too late to call anyone.

For the past week, I have been out of the grove of listening to SW lectures. I am behind. First, it was because of the LEND course work and then I just got lazy. I am enjoying the SW lectures but they are just not as good as Netflix. A wee bit more discipline is called for.

The day is bright. I am treating my neighbor to brunch. And if the pumpkins go well, I should get back to the garden and compost (I didn't touch my compost piles at all this spring or summer except to add to them, and I have the darkest, richest, and most fine compost. Ah, nature at its best!) and leave and fallen branches and piles and piles . . .

Just one more thought. I have had cable tv for about 8 months, maybe a bit more. At first, I watched a lot of junky reality based shows -- I can watch anyone buy or renovate a house. And a few shows. And a few movies. Since I started school, and because Julia doesn't really like tv in general (although she is hooked on movies) and there is not a lot on for her when she is available to watch, I am considering canceling it. Netflix and Hulu seem to be enough for me.

30 October 2010

So, I am a little embarrassed about this but embarrassed or not, I want to write about everything.

I joined Chemistry.com. Yes, a "dating" service. There is a personality test that finds matches that can then be contacted. I never imagined doing something like this, but frankly, I don't meet single men, I don't know whether I am ready to do the face-to-face thing yet, I am not ready for romance yet but I miss male companionship. I just miss men, their point of view, sense of humor, their adult companionship -- wait that might have come out wrong. LOL.

So, I joined, answered a bunch of questions, wrote a little about myself (which I have tweaked a number of times now) and waited. I have been sent matches and sent "I'm interested" messages (just clicking on that button) to about 50 men. I am not looking for a partner for the rest of my life, just an interesting guy. Lots of people look interesting to me, so why not?

The disappointing part is that I have only gotten one reply. Not that I think I am such a hot catch, not at all, but what's a few emails, a coffee, a conversation, some text messaging? It has crossed my mind that some of the matches may be very out of date, and some may not spend time on their computers. And then, I remember how few men I really clicked with. Very few -- most of those few really interesting and wonderful, but few.

Oh well, I figure that my desire is also out there in the universe. And it will be answered one way or another. And, it is good to try new things. Wild women have to try new things!

Oh, and I am open to blind dates.
The boxes of David's papers that I've been sorting this week have been filled with teaching material -- he taught writing and film at IUPUI, one course a semester. I intended to throw all of that away but I found his lecture notes and single page hand outs about lecture topics. The single page handouts are beautifully written and full of his love of teaching and his students. And so, some of those boxes go into the saved pile. I am not sure what I am saving these pages for. I'll decide later.

29 October 2010

New art supplies

Just two of the many from yesterday. Julia is having so much fun with color and feathers. She draws things like this from memory. She looks at no pictures to copy or for reference. She just starts drawing. She may start with the head or a leg or the tail, as if she is tracing. She edits and corrects. Someday she will learn to sketch, or discover it, and her pictures will change again.
Sitting in a "town hall meeting" at the Waisman Center about WARF, an "agency" affiliated with UW which serves as a foundation for scientific discoveries at the university and nurtures discovery and invention. Intellectual property. Patents and licensing for technology, investments in research and small business, gifts to the university out of long time investments, the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. The first legal-related discussion I've heard here, and I am one of the few people who do not have a confused look on my face. It does seem that scientists are ill informed about legal info. No different from lawyers and science. Should smart people be required to have more general knowledge?

I do love this place. The Waisman Center. Being on the inside, even as a mere trainee, the opportunities to learn and grow is just fantastic.

Checked in with a LEND faculty person, not my mentor because she is ill, about my leadership project. I have been wondering if I moving in an appropriate direction. I told her that I was interested in working for the International Adoption Clinic on the new research team. I am reading on trauma and brain development (and I hope a bit on cultural difference) and intend to use the IA clinic people to focus some of my reading if they are willing. And then for a product of this study, I want to develop a series of fact sheets for parents/teachers/medical care providers about trauma and kids and/or write the Julia Dinosaur for kids with trauma.

I am hoping, especially after this week, that I can do this much and still keep up with the other LEND work. This week the work was heavy and I did nothing of my project. If I have about a day a week to do my own research, I don't think the project is too broad, but without that time, I certainly am biting off more than I can chew.

And I still need time to keep the rest of life going -- fall gardening and raking leaves is the latest must do. And I should have done it today according to the weather. Oh, I hope we get one day this weekend that is really beautiful. Or 3.

27 October 2010

Julia is doing well. I am keeping up with school work, but man, I have trouble with the juggle. School work okay, but body is awful right now. I need exercise or physical work. House is tolerable but I didn't sleep well last night and I am a mess right now. And my brain in whirring too loud. Just hard to keep all the balls in the air and keep an eye on all those whirling objects.

Back to sleep for a little while. Then coffee, then a plan for the day.

300 Pieces!

Yes, indeed. Julia worked on -- with the help of a few grownups -- and finished a 300 piece puzzle. It took a few days and she only had one instance of having a hard time stopping. It was great to see her work and take breaks.
And my goodness, that child has such an eye. She is a total visual person! After working for awhile, she would pick up a piece and know exactly where it went. We are going to have many winter nights in front of a fire putting together masterpieces!

Di Di Chi and her big sister

Have not posted a picture of Latkah in a long time. Here she is watching her little brother. She just had a puppy cut and is ready for the winter.
Another view of Latkah watching Di Di Chi eat. Feeding is still a challenge. The dog loves the cat food and doesn't seem bothered by it, but it can't be good for her. The cat wants dog food but gets sick when he eats it. I am trying to put the food dishes down for a short time twice a day. When the animal leaves the bowl, I pick it up. Neither one seems to be starving yet.
Do, here is a cut kitten at the end of a hard afternoon.

And here he is in his full kitten glory.

25 October 2010

Monday morning. Julia was out at the bus stop on time. I keep waiting for the excitement to fade, and it doesn't. And I smile for another day. Looking forward to the next teacher conference -- the first one to really look forward to expecting some good news. Small gains I can see -- I asked what she was studying in science, and Julia answered "Rock" and paused. And added, "And minerals." I almost don't care if she learned anything about the rocks and minerals, she knows something of what is going on in school.

Of course, I will become interested in exactly what she is learning very soon.

I indulged myself again this morning with extra sleep after the bus left our corner. I am still sleeping in huge gulps. Last night, I woke up a few hours after I had fallen asleep and I was strangely stiff and uncomfortable, as if something had pressed me into the bed. I thought of "heavy sleep." And wondered.

I spoke with my old friend, Jan, last night, and was able to laugh and be a bit concerned about his life. Thank goodness, reciprocal conversation is coming back into my life! He told me I sounded good, better than in a long time. And I realize that I am better than I have been. Sitting in church on Saturday evening, I felt lighter and able to really be with myself without sinking into great sadness. Grief has not been depression, not physical pain life an injury or an illness, but it has been very heavy on my heart. Grief deprived me of so much joy, the kind of optimistic joy that I take totally for granted in my everyday life. I was observing beauty, taking in the joy of others, appreciating kindness and love, but could not feel/ experience/ make it a part of myself.

I wrote a bit ago of the blanket of grief that was moving to the core of my being. Grief still exists on my levels -- a passing remembering of something we did or said and pain, the ache of being so alone, the wish of what I want David to see right now -- but the most painful grief has moved to a very deep place. Grief has been added to the very essence of who I am. And that is really not so bad. Call it a scar, but not really a scar from injury. Like a warrior, I relish this scar because of where and how I received it.

On to homework.

22 October 2010

A perfect adoption

The new kitten, Di Di Chi, is home for 49 hours. He has learned to stay by me as much as he can. He is at my hand, on my lap, under my feet, and snuggled between my legs and the couch as soon as I sit down. He likes watching the computer screen when I type. He is attaching nicely.

I did not really think about attaching to him, but kittens are cute, Di Di Chi is wooing me with his interest in me, and so my heart is opening. Already I am beset by the feeling that he belongs here and has always been part of the family.

Di Di Chi knows how to annoy his Jie Jie (big sister) Latkah, and there is definite sibling pecking order being decided. He sits in her day bed and she sits outside it and stares at him. He tries to eat Latkah's food, drink her water, and play with her ball. Latkah chases and makes annoyed noises, and has not refrained from growling and coming to me as if asking if this little pest is really staying. Latkah should know that adoption is final.

And Di Di Chi is beginning to test boundaries. Jumping up on anything he can, spilling a glass of water, messing up Julia's puzzle. We pick him up and put him on the floor. Chide him when we can. He does not listen. He is learning to fit into our human-dominated family. We are all bonding.

Di Di Chi is a rescue kitten, so I don't know anything about where he came from. He is only 8 weeks old so he probably was not nursed for long enough. I did not ask how old he was when he was rescued or if he came with other kittens. His life, for me at least, started when I brought him home. But then, I don't expect him to be asking about his life before he came home either.

He was kept at a vet's clinic waiting for adoption. It was a clean, rather bare, room. When we met him on Wednesday, there were two other kittens still waiting. I think there were 6 or 7 kittens in the adoption class. The room was clean, there was food and water, there was a climbing tree with soft places to play and sleep. He was not fostered but the receptionist told me that he liked to sit on the back of her chair from which I can assume that he had been out of that clean room and had some friendly human contact.

This has been, after 49 hours, almost a perfect adoption.

Do I need to make the comparison between my cat and my kid? If only my darling girl, and so, so many others, had the possibility of a family at 8 weeks old, was given adequate food, pleasant surroundings, and attentive adults as she was waiting, and came with an adoption fee equal only to the cost of care during a very short time. Would our attachment and bonding be closer to that of my Di Di Chi? Of course, humans are so much more complicated than kittens, but neglect can hurt kittens as well as children. How many people would be appalled if kittens were warehoused like some of our children are and have been? If it were in my power . . . but then, what is in my power? How can I not . . . I am not sure what . . . but something. For the children. Abandoned. Alone. And needing a family.
I am humbled by the amount that I don't know. Listening to a lecture today about what I was complaining about this morning. Testing, diagnosis, evaluations, prodromes, biological markers, symptoms. And then about insurance, the waiver program, policy. Watching a video of the administration of an evaluation, and I am sucked into the kid's world.

I am ready to cry out, why did it take so long to learn about this world?

Okay, somewhat dramatic.

Because of the reading and the lecture, I now see why Julia was so hard to test. Not being an English speaker and more, having a shaky grasp of Western family life, had the potential of squewing the results. Culture and language are hard to factor in -- and what had she been taught. That we will never know. A child who has never been played with, has never shared attention with a caregiver, or who has never been rewarded with smiles for eye contact or cooing, how can this child be judged at all. What score makes sense? We were lucky. We had no idea how lucky that Julia was diagnosed and that therapy was what she needed. She had some very lucky stars in her corner. No other way to describe it.

I am excited by the possibilities. Still too new to make any decisions or see the clear directions, but very happy being carried along by the current. Absorbing what I can and knowing for sure that I will have to revisit much of the material that I am reading. I just don't understand it on any deep level at all. It is as if I am skimming and at times I do because my grasp of the material is so shallow.

Hopefully, I will be able to see one or more evaluations in person. Hopefully, I will soon find a policy to work on. Hopefully, I will soon have a grasp on how my leadership project will be shaped.

There is a new online course on ASD that anyone can watch. I want to watch it right away but I have to finish my SW course before I start. I can't take on more right now. But maybe I can preview it a bit and see what I can learn there.

And Julia: She is feeling a bit better. Her cough, though still sounding awful is less, and her spirits are definitely higher. She went on a class trip today and I got an email report which sounded good. Julia did need to leave a space when the music was too loud. I want to find out whether she asked to leave or just acted like she couldn't stand the sound. I have to ask. Right now, she and her therapist are working on a 300 piece puzzle which has been worked on over the last two days. It will take a few more to finish it. Julia has given full attention to the work but has also transitioned out of the work when asked to.

I write of all these successes. And I am so happy about them. But I know she still has so far to go. I do dare to dream that one day she will "catch up" and join her peers. I do dare to think about her future.

And of course, then I hear the shouts of "No-o-o-o" from downstairs.

Good reality check.
How did it get to be Friday already? I know, I know, most of time I/we/most people can't wait until Friday, but I am not finished with all the reading for this week and class is in a few hours, and I need to write a bit for my own sanity. I have an extra dose of reading this week due to the fact that my group is getting some extra autism training today -- which I have been looking forward to for weeks but now feels like an undue burden. I haven't made a phone call I was supposed to and did nothing to further my leadership project this week. UGH! Stress. And I did it.

Anyway . . . .

It is all fine. Really. I can catch up next week.

The reading that I am missing is mostly centered on autism diagnosis, how early, what signs, what signs can be developed (a theory about larger head size early in growth). The reading follows the design of other information that we are receiving. What is disappointing right now is my own yearning to know more about the conditions and the therapies/adaptations/ counseling/etc., and not so much about diagnosis. This may just be the first round and I should ask my mentor about it. Just a note, however, to say how it is going right now. Given my proclivities, I would have rather started on some back end of DD in childhood and track backwards and forwards to infanthood and adulthood.

But this is probably just me. And me in the middle of Julia's childhood and seeing other kids with DD in their childhoods. (DD Developmental Delay)

So, news is that a new spirit has moved into our house. I will get some pics soon of DiDi Chi -- didi is little brother in Chinese and Chi is energy and life force. We adopted a tiny kitten on our way home on Wednesday. (I had been scouting places to find a kitten and already to talked to people who ran the rescue center that DiDi Chi comes from.) Julia did so well with my sister's cats and big dog during our weekend -- was it because she was sick and confined pretty much to the couch and was too weak to resist having a cat snuggle with her? -- that I thought I would seize the moment. It was also the right moment.

After two days at home, this feisty kitten has made himself at home. He and Latkah are still trying to figure out the pecking order. Latkah is nervous but I do think she enjoys having someone to chase around the house with. DiDi Chi insists on being with me whenever he can, and loves watching me type on the computer. An adoring audience? What writer could ask for any more?

Julia is thrilled. She is a bit scared of DiDi Chi but she can control her fear, and the fear is mixed with love and caring. Julia is amazing.

Have I said that before?

Got to read now, but will write more of the week and weekend later.

18 October 2010

Julia is sick. Fever and puny. She asked to lay down after breakfast which amazed me. She never, ever does that. She is drawing at the kitchen table now, and happy as she sniffles and coughs. Cheshire and I are seeing David's folks alone. No need to bring a 9-year-old Wisconsin germ delivery system to her 90 year old grandparents. We'll have an early dinner with Dad and Claire and come back to Barbara's house.

This is not an easy visit. I have a willing mind about all the visiting, but it is hard. David is just not here. And I don't really want to rehash his death and memorial, but I feel like I owe it to his father, and maybe his cousin too. I hope they are kind to me.

Life, this experience of it, does not cease being amazing. Hard as some of these experiences are, I can do them. And I can learn from them as well.

Something is coming. I can feel it. Something of a surprise, some unknown notion, something. And I hope my arms are raised and eyes are trained to catch it.

17 October 2010

Julia and I still in Cheshire's bed lazing on this Sunday morning. I with my laptop, Julia with her Leapster. It is too funny to have her beside me doing her version of what I do.

I need to get the day going -- David's Dad and then a big family dinner at my sister's house -- but the morning peace of Brooklyn is just too lovely.

Last night, Julia went right to sleep very early, dead tired after traveling all day and walking around with her backpack filled with all her clothes and toys. Cheshire and I stayed up and watched goofy movies, eating Cheshire-made chili and champagne sherbet, and just being together. My recent fears about loneliness -- an unremitting, unseeable depth of missing -- have been dispelled. Right now, Cheshire and I am sure a few other friends can fill that pool to a bearable level. I have instinctive anticipation that I will find resources to heal.

Okay, up and at 'um.

16 October 2010

Julia and I are in Kansas City Airport for another 2.5 hours. Our direct flight to Newark was cancelled and so instead of getting into Newark a bit before 11, we will be in NYC a bit after 7. Oy. And we wind up at LaGuardia. Double oy. But the internet at the airport is free and we have G-Force on Netflix. Life is just not so bad.

And the closest bed is at Cheshire's house, and so we will stay there to the night and go into Jersey tomorrow.

Julia was not too crazy about taking this journey. She would have preferred home, and I have to admit that although I was looking forward to getting out of town, being gone next week means that I will miss a LEND team meeting at our agency and a lab meeting that would have been my first. But since I knew nothing about any of this just a few days ago, I am content to miss.

Julia is doing more amazing things. Her speech teacher at school wrote to me to let me know that Julia is really enjoying speech, is willing to go with her when she shows up at Julia's classroom, and was asking some socially appropriate questions to a student speech therapist. The work sheets that Julia is doing now is about "above & below" or "big, bigger, biggest". This is so much further along than she was last year! She was still working on taking turns and sequencing three pictures. And the pages are full of Julia's circles or coloring and there are stars all over them.

And just now, as we are watching the movie, Julia tells me she wants to talk to me and insists that I look at her before she will say anything. Just wow!

15 October 2010

Down to packing our bags, hopefully backpacks to carry on. Jersey by noon.
Some days, most days, I can be so wrapped up in myself and Julia that when someone asks how I am, I will tell them and then not ask them a thing. No reciprocal exchange. I walk away and realize how self-centered I've become. But then, at those times, I almost cannot take in information about another person. I am so overloaded with my own. This morning I'd like to apologize to everyone who greets me pleasantly and with interest for my lack of social skills. In a while I will remember them again.

Magic day yesterday. I may have found my way into some research at Waisman that I can do as part of my LEND leadership project. I met two really dynamic women who are interested in having me help with a new research project. Maybe best of all, at least at this point is an invitation to come to full lab meetings that the International Adoption Clinic holds each week.

Also, met with someone who works at an IA clinic in Milwaukee, doing what we needed when Julia came home. Looking at development and behavior and supporting families. She too had some great ideas bounce around.

Later in the day, I went to the first meeting of the Parents' Council -- a new committee of our School Board. One representative from each school will attend months meetings to talk about upcoming policies and programs. Interesting to meet a whole bunch of type A parents. Very dynamic group right from the beginning.

It was a very exciting day, to say the least. It made me pretty happy.

13 October 2010

Our at home therapists -- that is, those who come to our house -- are wonderful and smart and caring. Each one brings some special talents and two of therapists have graphic art talent. This is so good for Julia -- it is not so much like art lessons but more like working beside someone who also enjoys making art. Julia is taking a bit of instruction from these young women but most of it is in the form of suggestions or Julia watching and coping. Last night, Julia did a painting and for the first time she painted the entire sheet of paper. I am sure part of doing that was Morgan's doing. This morning, Julia and I talked about the painting over breakfast. Julia wanted to hang it up, but instructed me to buy some "glass" to put in front of the picture. Julia is growing to appreciate her own work. I like that.

Yesterday, I sat on a panel of parents of kids who have disabilities -- mostly autism. There were 10 or 12 of us talking about 6 or 7 kids. It was such an interesting group that I sent a sign up sheet around to get their emails. I'd like to get together with these people. Seize the moment!

One question that was asked was what we wished for our children. I answered that almost without thinking that I hoped the Julia found mentors -- people who do what she wants to do, and know more about things than she does who can guide her. And yes, this is true. We never managed to really connect with her art teacher from Franklin last summer -- David's death was the main cause of that. And I don't think the Randall Art teacher is taking any particular notice of Julia. I'd like to find an art mentor for her -- someone who can offer some guidance, some information instruction, someone to work beside her and to have their own work that is fascinating to Julia. Likewise, I'd like to find someone who knows more about dinosaurs and bugs than Julia does who would take her under their wing. I hope I get to share Julia with people like this. If they are interested and take the time, I know it would benefit them as well as Julia. I know this because I know Julia.

Yesterday's PTO meeting, which could have been contentious went very well. Good discussion. Good turnout. Good ideas. This is a good PTO year. Tough in terms of volunteers, but good in terms of working friends. There is an amazing group of parents who work for our PTO and I am so fortunate to be working with them. I am so grateful for this work.

11 October 2010

A few things today, a day of not doing -- that is, a day of plugging holes in the dike and a bit of talking but not feeling like I made much headway in life. Can't do that every day but it can be frustrating when I can't see forward movement.

So, (1) I wrote emails to two people who know about trauma and kids. I will see them both, separately, on Thursday. Yahoo! I am starting on my project. Who knows just what it will be, but I will get the chance to talk to two people who know much more than I know about trauma who may be willing to offer me some guidance.

(2) My friend Maryann, from Australia called this evening as we were sitting down to a late dinner. I had been thinking about her since last Thursday when I worked with the Energy Therapist. Maryann had guided my last past life regression, and I wanted to tell her what Ellen said to me about past lives. And she called! We chatted, way too briefly, but so good to hear her voice. She commented that sometimes souls that had been together for many lives decide that one needs time alone to develop. This makes such sad sense to me. It is what I feel like I am doing.

(3) Sads and Lonelies have set in again. While I was driving, I thought how I would never see David again, and a bucket of sadness was dumped on my head. I could feel it oozing down until even my toes were sad.

(4) Pissed off like crazy today! I've been glancing at obits in the Times recently. Not really reading them, but looking at the online front page. And what do I see -- people who are 91, 68, 80, 77, 101 dying. 55 is a totally unfair age to die!!! Can I lodge a complaint with anyone?? I don't care if it was his time. Yeah, real irrational. I know.

(5) More irrational pissed off-ness. Old friend who was an incredibly good support for me for a bit more than a month, but had to stop because his wife didn't feel comfortable with my writing her husband. It was email! I was pretty needy. Am pretty needy. And a shoulder I knew was a comfort. Threat? Me? To a 25 year marriage? Right. I had no trouble saying fine, okay, I understand. Now, I am pissed. Yeah, irrational, and I would like to think that David would have done the same -- given up an old friend because of my probably not rational discomfort. But then, I bet he would have said, suck it up and have a heart. I hate being the one to suck it up and have a heart.

Now, on to Julia, (6) She cried today when I picked her up from school to go to OT. She was not angry or out of control. She was sad and she cried. How great is that! On two level: First, she was crying because I was picking her up from school!!! And second, because she was able to have the clear feeling of sadness without anger or fear. This feels like a giant step for her.

(7) Julia's OT asked her to make a list of three things, and expected that Julia would draw the three things. Julia asked for help with the spelling of the three words. Julia wanted to make a word list. My heart sings!

That's all that I am thinking of. Oh, a very strange dream last night, early this morning ,really. I must write it but not tonight. Tired, with a busy day tomorrow.

10 October 2010

Am I the only person in the world who cannot change the filter on a Brita pitcher? I have read the directions, googled for help, tried everything I can think of, and to no avail. This is why I don't want to live alone! I don't need brawn, just another set of eyes and hands. Just someone who would laugh at me and tell me how easy it really is. For now, I stew and stare. I may have to post pictures to get step by step directions.

Oh, I can be an idiot!

Yesterday, at church we had a guitarist doing the music. Joe Harris. I've heard him before but not in the small auditorium and with a smaller group of people. It reminded me how much I miss music being played at home. All my music makers are not at home anymore. I loved the acoustic guitar; I loved that the tunes were original; I loved the picking. Years ago, my dreams of great wealth included being able to afford someone playing music in my house. Both David and Cheshire did that and I haven't thought of that wish in years. Maybe if I ever have a house big enough for a room mate, I should make that a requirement.
Thinking that I have to get out as a grownup. I have not done anything to facilitate that. To trivialize a quote, if not now, when?

09 October 2010

Autumn outings

Julia and I went to a farm to pick apples and pumpkins. The farm was in Fitchburg, and it was the first time we were at this particular farm. And it was hot! Julia and I were dressed for a sort of early Fall day, but the temperatures went up to the 80's. So, instead of the wind burning our cheeks and rushing to find our pumpkins so we could get into the warm, we were sweating and the bugs were all over us and everything else. And Julia is just not an outdoors girl when it comes to walking around in the dirt. She would have preferred to have the pumpkins cleaned and the apples bagged. Still, she was a good sport, picked apples of various kinds and then went to the pumpkin patch to find out perfect Halloween pumpkins.

She told me that she was not, NOT AT ALL, going to pick a big pumpkin. However, she was willing to sit on a few to let mom get a few pics.
This morning a great burst of energy after way too little sleep. The morning has been most productive doing PTO work. OY! I was so behind. But email has been speeding away from my screen, agenda for next week's meeting almost done, article for newsletter almost done, and intro to food discussion (which may be very exciting and contentious) is started.

This afternoon a pumpkin picking for us, then church and a potluck dinner. Then home to blessed sleep which I am almost sure I will do tonight.

And I thought I was going to do some research this morning . . . .
Not sleeping tonight. Listened to a lecture and watched a movie. Each time thinking I would fall asleep. But no.

Worked with an energy person on Thursday. All by phone. She was amazingly intuitive. She hit on things, told me things that surprised me she knew. She did my chart before we spoke -- told me giving myself away, my motto of the year, is totally wrong. Told me that I needed some ego to fasten my feet to the ground. Told me that I built too much of myself on relationship to people, positions, work. Then she took me through a clearing to separate my energy from David's. Told me that we were so intertwined that where one left off the the other began was invisible. It was not easy letting go of more of David, but as determined as I am to heal, grow, and make this life mine, I went boldly forward. And it was true that saying the affirmations that I wanted to claim my energy. I wanted to find my own desires. I wanted to stop sharing with David. None of this diminished love.

It left me lighter, maybe more fragile. Weak, like after a long illness, but not physically. Maybe somewhat physically. I have not left the stage of living day to day, of trudging through days grateful for the night and blessed sleep. But I have an inkling, the lightness of being that lingers, that suggests some other way of being. The wild woman that I embraced soon after David died is still alive and very much what I want to be and do.

I'll do some reading now, but first . . .

For a few days, the words to an old song have been coming through. The magic of the internet, I could call it up and listen to three, four versions. Finally, I heard the one that was playing inside my head. It was Carol Bayer Sager singing the song that she and Melissa Manchester wrote. I'd hum it now, imagine humming, but I'll just copy the lyrics:

Well, hello there

Good old friend of mine

You've been reaching for yourself

For such a long time

There's so much to say

No need to explain

Just an open door for you

To come in from the rain

It's a long road

When you're all alone

And someone like you

Will always chose the long way home

There's no right or wrong

I'm not here to blame

I just want to be the one

Who keeps you from the rain

From the rain

And it looks like sunny skies

Now that I know you're alright

Time has left us older and

Wiser, I know I am

'Cause I think of us

Like an old cliche

But it doesn't matter

'Cause I love you anyway

Come in from the rain

Am I singing for myself? To myself? I don't know. Just singin', just singin'.

08 October 2010

LEND report

In LEND today, we had our second presentation about affecting policy. The panel was impressive and interesting. Lynn Breedlove, the director of Disability Rights Wisconsin, spoke. He was upbeat and bright. More optimistic than I am. [After all the time I spent when I first moved to Madison, trying to get a job at his agency, there he was sitting right in front of me. They do so much of the advocacy work that I would love to do. The problem seemed to be that I was applying for non-lawyer jobs and no one would believe that I would be satisfied doing that. Of course, that might have not been the only bar to employment.] Mark Miller, state senator and co-chair of the budget committee, and a woman named Liz, of whom I need to check my notes, filled out the panel. These three have worked together often on disability issues, and talked about their experience getting funding for the family care for children and other disability issues. Doing some work involving policy is very alluring. I would love the research arm of it, and I would probably like the advocacy once I understood issues. However, putting myself in a policy position would be too much like going back to legal work.

Still, I hope to learn a bit about this kind of advocacy.
Julia works on memory with her therapists. They play memory games, turning over cards to find matches which is an especially good game if it is with dinosaur cards. Julia is asked each day to name three or four things that they did together that day. This talk about what she did a few hours or minutes ago has not come easily. How much in the present this child has lived. They say -- and it is the experts here, those who know about trauma and neglect -- say perhaps there was nothing to remember, perhaps memory would only serve to re-traumatize the child. And so those nooks and crannies of the brain where memories are stored are empty or blocked or they have never developed at all. For Julia, however, there are now scores of games and walks and bounces on the trampoline and white cake with chocolate icing making impressions. Creating the nooks that will store all there is to her life. I will endeavor to fills those nooks with the sweet of life now.

And talk to her more.

It is not that I don't talk to Julia. I talk all the time, but I fear that I am not sharing my days with her. She at least heard about my day and David's day when we sat down to dinner each night. But these days, I am exhausted at the end of the day and not inclined to recite my doings to someone who does not offer response.

but I will because I need to do it. Julia needs the modeling that it can provide. And so . . .

07 October 2010

Good to write in the morning. I am much more optimistic. And I have no idea what will steal my day. Monday was absolutely stolen by taxes, but I did it. Another chit on the page of independence.

Last week, sorting through some papers besides David's desk, I found our tax work. David has done our taxes for years and years. He sort of liked it; I couldn't stand it, so it was a good division of labor.

In late March, he filed for an extension, and completed our fed and state taxes in June, but when I checked Cheshire's tax forms, I found that he had not filed them. Last week, I was sure that the deadline for filing was not the 1st of October, and so I scurried to do something with hers before the 1st. I tried filing it electronically because we usually use Turbo Tax, but her forms came back to me because of an error on our tax forms. I checked out form and found that David had included Cheshire as a dependent. To be honest, it would have been the first year that she was not a dependent, but it also made me realize how much David was not really ready to do work that ordinarily he would have done. A well David would have never made that mistake. I would have, but David proofed everything and caught things like that.

So, I generated amended tax forms, called and talked to an accountant who I will use for next years taxes, and mail my amended and Cheshire's originals out. I don't complain about paying taxes generally. I have a deep belief that we need to pay for the services that we use and it is a responsibility that comes with citizenship. However, something was not really fair. My first thought to fix the forms was to have Cheshire not declare herself and pay the extra taxes myself, but when I calculated that, Cheshire would have owed and extra $1500 in taxes. When I calculated what our taxes would be without Cheshire as a dependent, I owned a bit over $500. And I wondered if the tax should have been closer to the same.

Please, no one explain it to me! I don't even want to know now. Maybe in 6 months. I just amended, wrote the check and mailed everything. I may have made mistakes on Cheshire's NYS taxes, but hopefully, not too badly.

The accountant does it for 2010!

I owe email and I am having trouble keep up. Too many PTO mails. I will get to the more social mail soon.

Change of topic

Julia and I were up late this morning again. I may have to set an alarm clock across the room! I've never had to do that, but these days . . . The child was intent on making it to the bus, and she did with most of breakfast in her stomach, dressed and combed, and with a packed lunch, but it was not easy. We can't keep doing that. Even once a week is too much.

Another change.

I have to get used to the fact that Julia and I are going to be eating supper at 7 during the week. It is way too late for a little girl who takes forever to eat and who goes to bed around 8, but with her current therapy schedule, it is necessary. I have been fighting it, if only in my head, since the reality has existed since school started. I just have to accept, give her a hardy snack right after school, and let it go. We are almost mid-way through the intensive therapy (we get three years from the state) and it has done so much good for her. And probably for me as well -- relieving me of the intense work/play times with Julia. I can structure life around the therapy for as long as we get it.

About a week ago, Julia received a card from Abby, her "best friend" in China. Julia is still talking about it and if nothing else, this weekend, we will work on a reply. Here too is an example of what therapy makes impossible. I could ask one of her wonderful therapists to work on this with her, but I am more inclined to have the two of us do it unless Julia brings it up as a project she wants to do with someone else.


I am lonely. Still. There is a hole no one fills. I drift further, grow independent, curse the fates, and pick up and move on.

06 October 2010

Morning. Getting out of bed later than I should, but we have the down comforters on the bed these days and I changed the sheets to flannel. It is Wisconsin, after all. I struggle to put on jeans and a sweatshirt, and pick out clothes for Julia. She asks what is becoming her morning routine, "What do I do today?" And she springs forth when I answer school. I help her dress, do her hair, and leave her to brush teeth and wash her face. I descend to get meals ready.

Breakfast is a bowl of rice -- jasmine rice, Julia's favorite and the only think I can serve her right now. I put leftover rice in a bowl and water and microwave. She is down in time for the timer to go off and she opens the microwave herself and takes her bowl, cooing and making very happy sounds. Would that she always gets such joy from simple things. She gets her spoon and sits to eat rice. I take frozen waffles out of the toaster, butter and syrup them, put apples on the plate and serve.

Then I gather her lunch. Today, sweet potato. bok choi with ginger and onions (another leftover), and slices of apple with lemon. Not a big lunch, not as big as I wished my skinny girl would eat, but when I give her what I think she will eat instead of what I hope she will eat, there is a better chance that she will eat everything. No guarantee. No guarantee at all, but a chance. I heat, I pack, remember a napkin, and zip it all in together.

And then, pills. Three medications -- that I fought against so hard, but have worked the same hard to get right -- fish oil, with a side of chocolate, and vitamins, and all with milk -- at least, a half glass. And time for her warm sweat shirt, pack on her back, and practice crossing our very safe street to the bus stop.

Julia dances in the falling leaves and acts more like a first grader than a third grader. And I don't care. I am so happy to see her happy, that a bit of maturity difference means nothing. She calls herself "Twinkle Toes" today and "tip toes" on grass, leaves and hot lava. Yeah, hot lava. Julia cheers when she sees the bus turn the corner, and is second in line to get on. She bounces on board, greeting the driver and settling into a seat. She throws kisses at me out the window and waves with delight as the bus pulls away.

For me, I chat with parents, some who manage to bring coffee cups to wait for the bus. I can see how this is a very efficient way to spread gossip. There was some controversy on our bus. The driver "touched" one of the kids when the children were being noisy, and some parents are upset. The driver is an Asian -- possibly Hmong, because we have a good sized Hmong population in town and because he has an accent -- some kids don't understand his English. It sounds like he was read the riot act by principal and employer and I doubt that it will happen again. I, for one, like that man. He has been very kind to Julia. He definitely approves of me. We smile and exchange greetings twice a day. I am grateful that he takes an interest in Julia, says hello and good bye to her. I am beginning to see how deep cultural differences can go, and how we all struggle with them.

And so, now I am back in bed, under warm covers, tapping away at keys. I will sleep for another hour, and then start my day. This is extravagant and I will not deny myself. Not now. there will be plenty of busy times when this is not possible.

I have reading today. I hope I can do it. I want to get my hair cut before I go to Jersey. No reason, but good to put a deadline on things like hair cuts. It would -- the hair -- be down to my waist if there were no deadlines.

This life, this new experience of life, falls into patterns again. The patterns are lightly etched on . . . like a wave washed beach. The old patterns are still visible, indistinct, growing distant, but not disappeared as of yet. "Let go, let go," the moon directed tides sing. I listen. Sigh. And take the first steps to acquiesce.

05 October 2010

I had planned to do my Friday reading for class and then research today, and I got most of the reading finished, but I dithered during the day and did not do much research. I made a list yesterday of articles and books that I've read or to be read about topics around trauma/attachment. I need to go through some of the books that I haven't looked at since Julia came home. They were how we began with Julia. But I did little with the list apart from making it.

It disappointed me. Where is my discipline?

But it is another month, another anniversary, another day of thought. Three months ago. Three months without David. And it is becoming more normal. Damn. To be normally without David. To be normally alone. It is. It is. I think that I -- my body, my not conscious mind, my soul -- knows to keep the day without letting what is left of me know.

Sense? I don't know. But some form of my reality.

04 October 2010

We had friends over for dinner last night. An almost last minute affair -- a neighbor was planning to come over and I almost cancelled it on Saturday. Friends from church invited me on Saturday to come for Sunday dinner and at the moment that I answer their email, I decided to have dinner for whoever came over. And it was very nice.

Maria, my neighbor, has been over before, but Anna and family, plus Maria, felt like entertaining. And I did it. I did miss David. I missed his voice last night -- and here and now, I admit that I listen to his very short outgoing message on our land line message machine to hear his voice. It is the only reason that I keep that phone plugged in. And the only reason I do not list it to sell on Craig's list. But last night I missed his comments, his getting up to start tea, and more. How many times to have taken that for granted. And of course I did after so many years. Now, I find that I can do it alone. Not as well, as we did it together, but . . . .

This morning phone calls, answering email, writing a short article for the newsletter, and a few errands. I hope I can get to research reading by the time Julia is in therapy.

Notes on grief: It -- the grief -- is. Still is. It has settled inside, still moving closer and closer to the core of me. But it is not always on the outside for all to see. I have practiced saying, "my husband died this summer" and I can now say it without a flinch. True sometimes that flinch, the catch of voice creeps up on me, but not right away. Still, too, when I am very quiet in myself, my grief bleeds out and my skin is clammy with it. But most days in most circumstances, I feel my energy returning, I cannot be sad all the time, I laugh more easily. Right now, I cannot wonder if I will ever be happy, totally happy again. If it happens, it is in a future that I don't know and cannot imagine. I am finding some peace, some coming to terms, some contentment.

03 October 2010

Sunday and Julia and I were up and out to get to church early for the 0'clock service. I was doing announcements at the beginning of the service. I did it twice this morning and between services, we went to panera for breakfast and shopping for tonight's dinner. I am filling up my weekend. And that is good.

It is another beautiful fall day, and we will, I say WILL, get outside. Either to walk somewhere or go to a playground or do some gardening.

Julia sat in the back of church, outside the main auditorium, but still in my sight and colored while I began the service. She did it twice and she did a great job. It reminded me of Cheshire, much younger, but going with us or me or David and being left to amuse herself while we did some kind of work. Cheshire at 5, taking a case book off the shelf in the library at law school and trying to copy a page, with headings and all. We asked her to be responsible for a bit of time and she was. I am just starting to ask that of Julia. I am so very happy that she did it today.

Even her church school aide, Erin, sees a difference. And Erin has seen it all with Julia, this being her third year with Julia. She was there with Julia screaming and hitting, Julia not wanting to do anything including sitting. Erin is almost finished with college and wants to go to med school. I hope she becomes a pediatrician!

I saw an announcement for the formation of a writers' group at church. Immediately, I thought of something to write. Oh, I can laugh at myself. I renounced the title of writer, all titles, a ways ago. But as some one who almost compulsively writes, what else can I do but join.

Notes on an Idea. Yes, I want to join.

02 October 2010

It is one thing to write what I wrote for my project, my goals and vision statement. It is another thing to share them there, but then for most of my readers, I don't have to look at their faces, and really, I am never sure who is actually reading what I write. But then, it is so another thing to share what I want to do short term and longer term with my LEND team and the bigger LEND group. I was nervous to do it. I can laugh at myself. But it is bearing my soul, wearing my heart right out there in front. And waiting to be knocked down.

Okay, that last is true. And why? Is that what I bring, from my raising, to my crazy ideas? I know those ideas are big and very way out of the box, but those ideas are from inside of me, and in some way are very sensible and easy for me to see and believe.

And no body laughed or told me that it was impossible.

Daring to dream.

I had a splendid time at class yesterday. So much so, that when I left class and headed home I felt rather guilty for not thinking about Julia for a few hours.

We talked about policy -- not that I know much about promoting policy but the core of the lecture and discussion was government. And I KNEW about that. I must say that the idea of picking and promoting a policy, as we are supposed to do, is rather daunting. But as it is my assignment for the week, the picking right now, I will find one.

This program is forcing me out on one unsteady limb after another. Is this how you train leaders?

I am finally comfortable enough with the people to say and ask what I need. My mentor was not there yesterday, sick and at home. So, I corralled another prof, to go over my assignment before I read them to my class. I wanted to make sure they was "okay." Yes, I still need the reassurance. And well, of course I do. I am a floppy fish and very far out of water. But I am seeing how I bring my sensibility which is unique to this group. Maybe they should include a lawyer in every group? I might just suggest that. This crazy world that segregates medical/caregiving professionals from business and law professionals is wrong. We wind up as two very different groups who have a lot of trouble understanding each other. There is so little reason for that.

I thought of this as a free weekend and then went ahead and filled it up with activities. Julia has therapy both days -- I was thinking of cleaning outside or in. Today, we have church and I am doing the announcements for the first time. Tomorrow, I do it for the 9 and 11 o'clock service. I am nervous, but this is exactly the speaking that is one of my leadership goals. I mean, speaking in church is not a goal. But getting comfortable speaking -- this is something that I have never done. A good way to start crawling out on another limb. And I think this is a rather familiar limb.

Tomorrow, after church, I have a PTO meeting and then dinner with a neighbor. And the weekend is over.

These weekends are not easy.

I need more ideas about cooking. Julia is so hard to please -- or maybe so easy. Too easy. Give her a bowl of rice or some pasta, and force her to eat some protein, and fruit or some sweet and she is finished. Maybe if I ate like her, I'd look like my skinny girl. But it is awful boring. She doesn't really let me pack any of her foods with extra calories. When I try I wind up eating that stuff -- Hate to throw good food away! But then don't need the extra calories.

A bit of house work now. And then some research. Marilyn gave me a few books to start with and Ann gave me the name of a prof who might be doing something about trauma in kids. I want to get started. And the house will still be dirty and the garden untended -- but those are the inside the box stuff! And I am breaking that box open!