Sunday, June 10, 2018

Eat. Share. Connect.

My brother, Matt, and I were talking a little about this and it got me to thinking.

Here is what I hope people are able to do with the sudden loss of Anthony Bourdain.

Eat with people. Eat with people you don't know. Eat with people you love. Prepare food with people. Share your stories. Be respectful. When in a new place, try new things. When someone offers you something, try it and thank the person for sharing it with you.

We have so many commonalities. Sharing a table, sitting and taking the time to listen, it helps us see these commonalities.

In an interview on Fresh Air he talked about his sort of kind of iron stomach and that if you see locals going to a street vendor, no matter if it seems dirty, go there. You are likely to get a good meal without any gastrointestinal distress. It is the caesar salad in the hotel restaurant that is more likely to cause a problem.

Be brave. Try new things. Learn about people. Share yourself with others. Connect.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

A long time later, and yet just the blink of an eye

I wrote this e-mail on August 15, 2005. Irene's first day of kindergarten. 

She graduates in 14 days. FOURTEEN. On August 14th, we'd been in our house for a *very* short time.

*********************** was Irene's first day of kindergarten -- what a huge
milestone! how did this day get here so darned quickly?? wasn't it just last
week when we were bringing home that 8 pound 9 oz baby girl? sheesh...ah
well. she was HUGELY ready for today. after irene's meet 'n'
greet/assessment with her teacher (ms. romaggi), ms. romaggi said "she is
REALLY READY for kindergarten!" Ms. R is happy to have an older kid or two
in the class b/c she apparently has a very young class this year.

Irene had her outfit picked out for several days prior to the start of
school - we had some gymbucks (thanks, gramma moni!) to spend and this
outfit was on an amazing sale - HOORAY! and the shoes are pink and they
light up and she's only worn them a few times since papa and gramma got them
for her, so they are still, surprisingly, white!

the fairies left her some goodies last night along w/a little card -- she
got a fairy tea set that is a weeeeee leeetle thing - bitty teapot and two
teensyweensy cups just big enough for fairies, and they left some glow in the
dark butterflies on her walls. she thought that was mighty fine and made a
card for them to find as a thank you.

One of the cool things about rob's current job is that he usually has
mondays and fridays off, so he was able to come to school on this very
important day. We got there about 10 minutes early or so and Irene (along
with Rhys) played on the play structure. Soon after we arrived, Irene's
friend from swimming arrived. Irene was so happy to see Brianna and gave her
a big hug. It was very sweet. When the bell rang, the two of them held hands
into the classroom and sat next to 'theirchother' to listen to Ms. Romaggi.
Soon after the kids sat down, Ms R told us that we could leave when we felt
our child was ready. Well, having been on the other side of this w/my
toddler and preschool classes, i knew that irene was fine and happy and so
we all gave her kisses and loves and said our goodbyes. poor rhys. i think
it might have been the roughest on him "renebean is??? my renebean is?????"
he asked a few times during the school hours for her. poor guy.
i only got a bit choked up as i was driving and asked rob how irene got to
be old enough to be in kindergarten.

so, at 11:40, i arrived to pick her up and she was all smiles and very happy
and looked a bit tired. i got a picture of her w/ms romaggi and then home we
went. she said she had a lot of fun and told me a bit about different places
in the room (there's a special reading area, they sang 2 songs, they had
outside time, etc). THEN --- as if going to kindergarten weren't enough to
make this a big day, as i was helping her floss her teeth tonight, i
realized that one of them is LOOSE!!!! it's the very first tooth she got
when she was 10+ months old - bottom left.

she went to bed SO jazzed about that. as i left the room i heard her say "OH

so that was our day. yup, i'm a proud mama who is still in sheer and utter
disbelief that this could have happened already. *smile*
13 years later and I'm still a proud mama who is in sheer and utter disbelief that we could already be at this point. 

I look forward to her adventures in college and beyond! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky - or, Lydia Netzer is amazeballs!

It is no secret that I adore Lydia Netzer. She is an amazing person, a wonderful and true friend, and a truly brilliant author. I've known her now for more than 15 years. I've been overjoyed with the success she found with Shine Shine Shine. I loved seeing bits and pieces of what I knew buried inside the pages. 
Shine Shine Shine did very well! And then there was the long wait...the wait the wait the wait for Lydia's next book.

The time arrived - July 1, and How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky launched for the world to read and enjoy. I was actually lucky enough to read an advanced copy of it. I love it. I love the quirkiness of it, I love the characters, I love that there is a George and an Irene. I love that there is magic and science and a girl who speaks in whistles and that there are black holes and there is love.

I wanted to post some of the reviews she has gotten for this book because I am outrageously proud of Lydia, and I want others to read her books and see how great she is too!

Here is a really good review that was in the Atlanta Journal Constitution -- it's behind a subscription wall so I am sharing it here: 

In her second novel, “How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky,” Lydia Netzer returns to outer space, the setting for her acclaimed debut, “Shine Shine Shine” (2012), for another look at the human species as it attempts to bridge the gap between life on earth and life beyond the stars. Once again, fate plays havoc with science. 
Netzer has a thing about programming. In “Shine Shine Shine,” a feral child was taught to understand facial expressions and how to make conversation; in later life, he became a robotics expert who engineered robots to be more life-like. Now, Netzer asks if people can be similarly encoded to fall in love — in a match made not in heaven, but on earth.
+“How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky” by Lydia Netzer
It all starts with two precocious 12-year-old girls who think it would be cool to have babies born on the same day, then groom them to eventually marry each other. “Think what you could do for them,” Sally says to her best friend, Bernice, “to make that marriage awesome.” 
Gulp. Like my tweenage plan to marry Ringo, it’s a fantasy most kids would abandon by about age 15. But these two grow up to carry out their scheme, right down to separating their twin toddlers so they won’t remember each other when they finally do meet. Thank goodness, before that can happen, something ruptures the mothers’ friendship, and Sally orders the whole wacky idea scrapped. 
We don’t know much of this when the novel opens 29 years later. Astrophysicist Irene Sparks has been recruited by the prestigious Toledo Institute of Astronomy because of her research into black holes, and she moves to take a position there. Her new colleague, George Dermont, a cosmologist and professor at the fictional institute, is also on the brink of revealing his revolutionary theory — it involves a gateway to a parallel universe — but has yet to prove it. 
Irene is deeply skeptical of love and, despite a live-in boyfriend, steers clear of emotional and sexual intimacy. By contrast, George, who was given a description of his future beloved by an astrologer, has been desperately auditioning every woman who fits the bill, to no avail. 
The moment he spots Irene, “every electron in every atom in the universe paused, breathed in deeply, assessed the situation, and then reversed its course, spinning backward, or the other way, which was the right way all along. And afterward, the universe was exactly the same, but infinitely more right.” Equally floored, Irene pictures her sudden and overwhelming attraction to George as shocking as “unfolding an envelope and finding water.” 
Fate insists they were meant for each other. But real life has other plans that force the young lovers to look for answers in a shared past they have both mysteriously forgotten.
Into Irene and George’s blossoming romance, Netzer deftly braids another star-crossed tale: the history of their mothers’ troubled friendship. Irene’s late mother, Bernice, kept her emotional secrets under wraps with alcohol; the once open-minded Sally is now a high-powered attorney with unexplained anger issues. As we learn the truth about their relationship and the particulars of their children’s births, Irene and George close in on the reasons they feel so connected. 
A couple more twinned souls round out the cast — Irene’s Hulk-like boyfriend, an online game designer, leads a double life as Belion, Archmage of the Underdark; and George’s girlfriend, a math whiz named Kate, was raised by her father to communicate only through music. Like the rest of the characters in the novel, they’re as likable as they are flawed.
The good news: You don’t have to be a physics major to follow the thinking in this geektastic book. Granted, “How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky” piles on the big questions. It asks whether “religion and astronomy and astrology all used to be the same thing” — and might still be. 
But Netzer keeps things grounded by blending astrophysics and cosmology with tender, illuminating insights into human relationships. The novel’s black holes are both literal and figurative — like the “whistling chasm” in the lucid dream world Irene visits each night in search of her mother. And its parallel universes come in various personal shapes and sizes: Gods and goddesses have shared George’s waking life since childhood; and in an online city of his own making, Belion stalks a mysterious virtual maiden. 
Every so often, the narrator steps out of character to clarify or sum things up, offer advice to the reader, and to point out the less-than-obvious. These soliloquies seem right at home in a wickedly funny novel that plays like a Shakespearean comedy — complete with spirits and deities, fickle stars and planets, mixed signals and missed chances — at its core, a story of ordinary mortals looking for love in all its many disguises.
 Here is a link to the lovely review in The Boston Globe.

Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+ which is mighty fine.

Pop Goes the Reader mostly reviews YA novels (another of my favorite genres), but she decided to read How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky and I'm so glad she did. She has links to other reviews as well.

I love this review by RT Book Reviews - especially this part: 
Seeing how well that book did was great, but Netzer's sophomore effort (if we don't count June's novella "Everybody's Baby"), How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky, is astounding. Netzer manages to take a blend of magical realism, the quirk factor of her previous novel, and her own unique voice to create a novel that stands out from the crowd being created by authors like Matthew Quick and Graeme Simsion.

Clearly, I highly encourage each of you to run to your local indie bookstore or download it onto your kindle (or nook, or iBook, or whatever you happen to use as an e-reader). Oh! And if you want to not use amazon (or bn or apple) to buy your e-book, you can check out Lydia's blogpost about that here.

And did you know you can also buy the audiobook? Joshilyn Jackson (another author you should read, if you haven't yet) reads the book. It is wonderful. You can hear a sample here. She read for Shine Shine Shine as well. She is amazing at narrating these books. 

If you are on Facebook, I highly encourage you to go and "like" Lydia Netzer.

I am looking forward to my book club in September when we will be discussing How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky. Now to think of what to eat and drink at this fabulous affair. Perhaps I'll ask The Lovely Lydia!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

5th and 8th grades starting soon

Hard to believe that I have a 10 year old and a 13 1/2 year old. Rhys will be starting 5th grade on Monday and Irene will be starting 8th grade. Both kids are nervous, and I *think* both kids are excited.

It feels like the summer went too quickly, which is funny, given that Rhys had the longest summer he's had since beginning elementary school. Our district has gone to this new "balanced" calendar. No more full months off during random months, but also, a little longer summer and BOTH kids are in and out of school at the same time.

We begin school 8/12. We get a week off in October (10/12 - 10/20 - I've included weekends). For Winter Break we get Friday 12/20 through Sunday 1/12. Spring break is 3/29 - 4/13, and the last day of school is Friday, June 13th (heh, they finish on Friday the 13th!).

It will be a change. Rhys' school is also going from multitrack to single track. I am looking forward to seeing how the classes got divided. Rhys was with the same group of kids from first through fourth wasn't really a good thing. While Irene had a great class all the years she was tracked with the same group of kids, Rhys' was not so much great. There were definite issues there. I am delighted that he got the teacher we really wanted.

Went to Target yesterday and spent a small fortune on school supplies. We will go to Office Depot on Saturday morning and hopefully spend less of a fortune there for the rest of the things we need.

Irene has most everything she needs, but I'm going to get her some cool colored lined paper. More spendy, yes, but she likes it and anything that will help with note taking and homework, I'm willing to do. Especially when it is as easy as bright lined paper.

meh - been a long time since I last blogged. I'm out of the habit.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Maurice Sendak

It's funny. Rob told me that Maurice Sendak had died and it felt as if I'd been hit in the gut. How could it be? Maybe this is what people felt like when Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson died. Those deaths didn't really affect me much. It seemed like both had made some incredibly bad choices in their lives and while incredibly talented, I didn't really understand what the sudden saint-like pedestals upon which they were put was all about...weren't these the same people that had been ridiculing their lives? Anyway, back to Maurice Sendak...

After dropping Irene and Rhys off at school, I got in the car to run a few errands. I turned on Fresh Air and Terry was remembering Maurice Sendak. I listened to the whole interview. I can only begin to imagine what people must've been thinking as the went into the bank and came back out of the bank seeing me, sitting in my car, crying. I was there for the last interview that he gave to Terry. It was poignant and dear. It was clear that Mr. Sendak was pretty sure this would be his last interview with Terry.

I can remember being with my parents at one of their friends' houses - I must've been very young - and they had a hardback copy of Where the Wild Things Are. I can remember the sleeve of the book and looking at all the pictures.

When Mom and Ken got married, they went to Carmel for their honeymoon. They came back with a gift for me - The Juniper Tree - I still have it. I loved the pictures. I didn't realize when I got it that the illustrator was Maurice Sendak. I bought a copy of it when Irene was little (mine is very well loved and wasn't going to survive being held by a 4 year old looking through it over and over again). We read many of the stories and she enjoyed the illustrations as well.

The first time I read a book aloud in Spanish, it was Donde Viven Los Monstruos. I read it to one of the Head Start classes in 1998.

He talked, in his interview on Fresh Air, about being an atheist, and I loved when he talked about Emily Dickenson and Herman Melville and William Blake and Mozart being the people in whom he believed. They were his gods. Of course, mentioning Melville made me think of my friend Lydia Netzer.

I love that Sendak said that he never wrote children's books. "how do you set out to write a children's book?!" You can see it here on TateShots.

I love his creativity. I love his imagination. As long as children read his books, as long as they share his illustrations, he will continue to live on.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

two steps forward one step back

Actually, it's been more than two steps, but when you get the backtracking steps, it feels farther. Not entirely sure what is going on, but anxiety has reared its ugly head again. Trying hard to beat it down. The usual things aren't working so well, so trying some other things as well.

What's totally bizarre is that I'm really excited about the upcoming trip. Perhaps it is that I'm driving a long distance and haven't done that now since before surgery. I think the last time I did this drive was in June of last year. That could be it. It will get better again soon, but the waiting for the better just pretty much blows.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Happy Birthday, Gramma or...What's the deal with the Kentucky Fried Chicken?

Today is my gramma's birthday. She would have been 97 years old. She was born in 1915 to Irene Peace and Max (Bobby) Romig in San Diego (I believe I have that right). Yes, that is where Irene gets her Irene and Peace in her name.

The pictures are all in a wonkified order - but that's okay. They are also just the pictures that I have on my computer right now. 

It's funny that Kentucky Fried Chicken is what we have (not just us, but my mom and uncle and probably Jer and his family as well) on Gramma's birthday. She never really enjoyed cooking, which is funny to me, because she was a very good cook. Anyway, the last years of her life, no matter how sick she was, or how little she'd wanted to eat for days on end, if we brought some KFC, she'd eat it. ALL of it. The chicken (extra crispy), the cole slaw, the corn on the cob, and the yummy yummy biscuits. 

When we had her funeral (a lovely graveside burial) at the cemetery where my papa, Homer, great uncle Barney, her parents, her aunts and uncles, and her mother's best friends are buried, we laid our picnic blankets on the ground (the neighbors are all very kind and didn't mind at all when we put our blankets over them) and ate a delicious feast of Kentucky Fried Chicken and other goodies that people brought. I wish I could convey the peacefulness of Greenwood Cemetery. It makes me happy thinking of her there with her family - not that she's really there and all that... 

Dinner for tonight to celebrate Gramma
Mom, Irene, and Gramma
The above picture was taken in July 2002. Mom was 57,  Irene 2 1/2, and Gramma was 87. Gramma always found the fun in everything. Even when her short term memory was shot to hell, she had fun and she could laugh at herself. She adored Irene. She was at the hospital when she was born. It delighted her that Rob and I had named our girlie after her mother. I don't have those pictures on my computer right now, so the above will suffice.

One of my favorite pictures - I love Gramma's 88 year old hands juxtaposed with Rhys' wee one month old baby feet. She fell asleep with him like that.
When Rhys was born, it was more difficult for Gramma to travel, so she wasn't there when he was born. Instead, Mom and Vicki drove the Grannies up from Escondido. She was delighted with her newest great grand.

Rhys and Irene at Gramma's funeral. Irene has sweetpeas - Gramma's favorite flower. Jalen is in the background
Lots of family at Greenwood Cemetery. That's Janty (Gramma's sister) in the hat.
Gramma on her 93rd birthday in 2008 - KFC for dinner and Sam wanting a taste.
I spent Gramma's last birthday with her. I bought her some KFC and she was very very happy with it. Sam, the black kitty, enjoyed a wee taste as well.

The Grannies enjoying their KFC on Gramma's birthday 2008
This is at Janty's 90th birthday celebration, so Gramma is 92. She and Mom are looking at the
class picture of Grossmont High School in La Mesa.

Me & Gramma

Three generations

Four Generations
Gramma and Vicki watch Janty's special photo montage
 For Janty's 90th, just as we did for Gramma's, Rob and I made a photo montage of Janty's 90 years. We received photos from everyone in the family. Because of Gramma's short term memory problems, she asked to watch it again and again and it was like new each time *smile*

In the Palomar Mountains
In the summer of 2004, we decided to have our "Romig Women Quilting Days" at a wonderful cabin in the Palomar Mountains. From 1998 - 2004, we made quilts every summer. This was the last summer that we did that.
The Grannies embroidering hearts for future Great Grands

At Gramma's funeral - it was wonderful walking to the gravesite - we followed the sound of the bagpipe

Setting out our picnic blankets and eating our Kentucky Fried Chicken

Mom and Gramma the summer of 2005
After the summer of 2005, we moved The Grannies up to Concord, where Vicki lived. That meant it was only 4 hours for the kids, mom, and I. It was nice to be able to know where they were and know that we could (relatively) easily get down to Concord for visits or when they were sick. We all worked on the garden outside of "Penny's House" where they lived. It was a nice spot with happy rooms and lovely helpers.

Gramma lived a long and wonderful life. She was married to the love of her life, she traveled, she explored. When she was in school, she had a friend who was gay. Other people, she told me, were mean to him and made fun of him, but she couldn't see the sense in that and befriended him. People love who they love. When Martin Luther King was shot, she joined the NAACP.

She was the person, that even during my teen years, I knew loved me unconditionally. As a parent *now*  (and even when I was in college) - I know that my parents (all four of them) also loved me unconditionally, but as the teenager in that moment, it was Gramma that I knew, no matter what, loved me and was on my side - whatever side that might happen to be.

It was with Gramma that I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time. We had arrived about 10 minutes into it (just passed the rolling ball scene). When the movie ended, she turned to me and said "Shall we stay and watch it again?!"

From Gramma, I got my height (or lack there of). She was also left handed, like me, so she's part of the genes that helped that happen as well. I wish I had her sewing skills. She was a seamstress like no other. I also wish I had her green thumb. Mom has that, but somehow, it skipped me.

Anyway, I could go on, but I'll stop there. I love her and I miss her. Happy birthday, Gramma.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Eek! It's been more than a month!? and check out Kaylie!

It's true - more than a month has passed since I last posted. Sorry about that. Many things have happened...I've been working a lot which makes walking as much a little more difficult, but I try to make it happen as much as possible. We had Rhys' Blue and Gold Banquet and Rhys earned his Bear award (eek! next stop is Webelos!), then came World Thinking Day 2012 which was a huge success - a lot of this is because I had a great committee working with me - Carrie, Peggy, and Tonya. It's one of my favorite events that we put on as a Service Unit. Then came delivering Girl Scout cookies, and tonight, it was our first Cookie Booth of the season. YEA! So that's where I've been - work, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, being a mom, being a wife, walking, etc.

On another note, one of my Girl Scouts (okay, she moved, so she's not officially in my troop anymore, but I still think of her as in our troop), has worked incredibly hard to earn money to get both herself and her mother to the 100th Anniversary Rock the Mall. She has entered the Girl Scouts Rock the Mall contest and this is where you can come in - she needs lots of people to watch her videos as many times as possible. She has "They Say" and "Kaylie Rocks the Mall" and I am incredibly proud of her for what she's done. I especially love the lyrics that she wrote. Here are the words to "Kaylie Rocks the Mall"

Girl Scouts, Let's Rock The Mall!
Girl Scouts, Right Now
Earning Badges, doing journeys
Working on our awards now
Earning Money selling cookies
learning how to reach our goals
Girl Scouts Let's Rock that Mall!
Volunteer now, that's what it's about
Brighten up a sick child's day now
Plant some flowers, clean up a park!
on this big blue earth now
Girl Scouts, let's rock the mall
Girl Scouts, Right Now
Let's turn this blue planet green
Keep our rivers clean 
Recycle Christmas Trees
Let's Reduce, Let's Reuse, Recycle
Girl Scouts, Let's Rock the Mall!
Girl Scouts, helping people everywhere
Girl Scouts, a sister to every girl
Changing Lives around the world
Girl Scouts!
The lyrics make me smile. There are so many things that she did with our troop, and now she's doing great things with her new troop. Kaylie really is an amazing Girl Scout. So -- please go and view her youtube videos.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is it Wednesday already?

Things are mostly back to normal here at Chez De Haan. I am having little bouts of anxiousness, but part of that, I think, is the adrenaline overload from last Friday. It was interesting to me to realize that it was hard to take the kids to school on Monday. Driving past everything I went past on Friday when I thought that Rhys was missing. I took two colossal cookies to school that said Thank You on them for the staff. Many people stopped us on the way to the classroom, lots of people were very happy just to see Rhys. It was good.

Yesterday and today I've kept Rhys home. He's been fighting something, nothing awful or huge, but a bug of some sort. He had a slight headache on Sunday and had a runny nose that started on Monday but got worse Monday night and Tuesday. He has no fever. I had a sub job yesterday afternoon, so, happily, Mom was able to come over and watch Rhys for the afternoon while I worked. He had nearly no computer time and no TV time all day. He and I worked on his Lego Hogwarts Castle, then he worked on it with Nana. It was a quiet and thoughtful way for him to spend the day. I had high hopes that he'd go back to school today. He went to bed earlier than usual and slept really well. Alas, this morning, he sounded snarfly and was coughing. I figured the better part of valor was to keep him home one more day. We've got his math book, so he's all caught up there. Not sure what else he is missing today. We went through all of his lines for the 3rd grade musical/play. He's doing great with it!
I got a call to work in 4th grade today. Sad I couldn't take it. I don't like having to say no to jobs.

It's been hard for me to go walking the past few days - happily, Irene is 12 and able to watch Rhys while Rob and I go for quick walks after dinner (just here in the neighborhood - Irene with her phone, us with ours - always just a max of 5 minutes away), so that's good. I will need to walk more this weekend to make up for the short walks :)

I need to head to the grocery store to get some butter - thought I had plenty in the fridge, but that is not the case. I'm going to make some toffee crunch for the school police officers that helped on Friday. Had hoped to do that today, but now it's on the docket for tomorrow.

And on a completely different note -- today, Joshilyn Jackson's book A Grown Up Kind of Pretty launches! Hooray hooray!! I can't wait to get mine! And perhaps tomorrow, I will go to BN and find her books and make sure they are all facing outward - not just the spine showing, but the beautiful picture. Perhaps I should call the independent book stores around here and see if they have it already too. Then I will go in and talk her up in a big way. Because I've actually met her in person and talked briefly with her on the phone and been on a yahoogroup with her for *gasp* 11 years, AND I've read all of her books and I have the audiobooks for Between, Georgia and Backseat Saints which just happen to be read by Joshilyn, I feel like I can talk her up honestly and vociferously!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lost and Found and Humble Thanks!

This afternoon Rob and I had, what I believe was probably, the *worst* 3 hours that felt like days of our lives. Rhys was missing. I will state right here, right up front, that he is fine, he never knew he was lost, he was with a dear friend, and they both did exactly what they were supposed to do.

It started yesterday afternoon. Mom, Irene, and I were planning on going "over the hill" to my sister's so that we could celebrate my nephew's birthday. So I called my dear girlfriend to see if she could pick up Rhys and then Rob would grab him after work. Late in the evening, Mom and I decided that the weather was going to be too awful to drive in safely, so we'd stay home. It was late, so I didn't call.

Next morning, early, I got a call to sub. Did the quick groggy run through in my head, remembered we were NOT heading to the Bay Area today, and said yes. Totally and completely forgot about other plans other than, I need to get showered, get the kids breakfasts and lunches, and get them out to the bus. I told Rhys and Irene that I was going to pick them up from school (previously, I'd told Rhys that our friend was going to pick him up).

I got to school. There was Irene, with her friend, by the flagpole. No Rhys. No biggie, it usually takes him a bit longer to get around the school.  Nope, still no Rhys. Checked in briefly with his teacher, she saw him walk out the door with his great good friend. Okay. Well, I just need to get home before the bus does because he's going to be worried that a) Irene's not on the bus and b) that I won't be home. So off Irene and I zoomed. We got home just before the bus. I went to grab Rhys. Came home, called school, spoke with Margaret, the wonderful secretary. She did an all call at school. No Rhys. Then she called transportation. No. Not on the bus. Serious panic begins to set in. Where is my child? He is my worrier. My "gotta know the plan" boy. My "hey! the busses are leaving and mama's not here, so it's time to go into the office because she's subbing and sometimes it takes a minute or two more to get here" boy. He is not the boy who goes wandering off with a friend, walking home by himself (does he even really know the way home?). I called my mom to come to my house to be with Irene (who was really really getting more and more concerned by the minute) and tried to stay calm for her. I was then on her phone, my cell (with margaret), and Irene's phone calling Rob to say that Rhys was missing. Come home. I then went to a friend's house who maybe, just maybe, if Rhys had been on the bus and realized I might not be home and Irene wasn't on the bus, he'd be with her...nope. not there. Went to another friend's house to see if somehow, just this once, Rhys went home with someone else without thinking about calling or telling me. No. Not there either. Margaret stayed on the phone with me the whole time. I then headed to school. I was met with people already combing the school and looking outside.  I think Carrie met me outside where I broke down. The principal, Prim Walters, was right there too. Rhys' teacher was already in the office trying to piece together what could have happened from the moment it happened.

So much now is blurring in my head already. It felt totally surreal. This stuff doesn't HAPPEN in real life. This happens in movies. My brain was on overload and I was trying to stay calm, but as more friends and more people were coming to help, I would hug and hold and cry. So many people were there asking what they could do. I sent Carrie all the recent pictures I had on my phone of Rhys. She put it on facebook. Suddenly people who didn't know me or Rhys from anything were ready to help too. The school police came and started asking me questions. I couldn't remember which sweats he was wearing - his teacher absolutely remembered. I knew he had on his super cool sweatshirt that Mom had made for him and was pretty sure he had on a green shirt (his favorite color). 

I just can't say enough about our school and friends and the school police. And I was awful. At one point, I said (and truly, it kills me that these words came out of my mouth) "When can we call the real police in?!" Ms. Walters came out and let me know that they are real police and I KNEW that - good lord, whatever possessed me to say it?! I quickly apologized, but that doesn't take it away. As another friend said, these are the people that deal with these kinds of things on a regular basis and I'd just treated them in a horrible and horrifying manner. Please, when you see those school cops around, THANK THEM for being there for the kids! There is nothing I can do to take back those words, and I feel truly awful. Meanwhile, Ken (my step-dad) arrived, Rob arrived, Cub Scout friends and Girl Scout friends came and were doing everything they could - they were driving the streets, they were calling friends, they were walking the neighborhoods. Teachers came back from their homes, or never even left school to help. There were 4 different people who thought they saw him on a bus - on their bus, on the wrong bus, getting off at the Raley's bus stop, he realized that I wouldn't be home, so he was going to go with the neighbor kids on the bus to their house.

The teachers and staff called every parent from Rhys' class, Ms. Walters talked with Rhys' best buddy in his class (bless that sweet boy) who, as we found out later, was spot on. Rhys walked out with J, then a "girl" called his name, and Rhys walked over to the "car circle." Ms. Walters had put the Connect-Ed All Call out to all parents in the school. Pictures were printed of Rhys, what he was wearing was added to it. Teachers and parents were going door to door. People were canvassing everywhere and I was attempting to keep it together and feeling totally lost in my head. I thought of other kids who might know, Margaret made more calls. Still nothing. 

After way too long, I looked at my phone and thought of my friend - I said "I KNOW WHERE HE MUST BE!!!" and proceeded to call her. No one called anything off just in case I was wrong. Then, the blessed voice of my dear friend answered and told me what I'd been longing to hear - "Of course, Rhys is here! I told you I would pick him up." I explained the situation as best as I could to her and told her I'd be on my way. I told everyone and the whole office erupted in cheers. You can probably imagine how I felt (and how Rob felt) when we heard that he was safe and sound and exactly where he was supposed to be. I felt awful that I'd started this whole mess - that I didn't even know where my sweet boy was when I SHOULD have thought of that. 

The school police were already on their way over to the house and they brought Rhys back to us, while we waited knowing everything was miraculously okay. I was so totally overwhelmed by the outpouring and love in our community. Carrie said it best. I was humbled. I hugged just about anyone who would let me. 

When I saw Rhys, I gave him giant ginormous hugs and let him know that he had done everything right - because he had. It was my mistake - first that I didn't call last night, that I didn't remember this morning to call, and then, why didn't my brain turn on and remind me that I should absolutely call her first thing? 

While Rob and I were doing that, Irene was home with Mom - both comforting one another. It is not easy to be the big sister. I just knew I needed someone here just in case somehow Rhys was late getting here to the house.

I want to thank my friends far and near who called, texted, posted on facebook, sent up prayers and thoughts. It means the world to me. More than the world. Thank you to all the staff at Spanish Springs Elementary School for zooming to action so quickly and for brainstorming different possibilities and places to look. For answering and making calls. To the police - all of them, thank you. I know that many of you were working from the wee hours of the morning and were not getting to go home tonight for quite a while. And to my dear sweet friend who did exactly what she had told me she'd do, thank you to the ends of the earth!

I know that there are similar stories that don't end up nearly so well. I send my prayers and thoughts out to those parents and the friends of those parents.

Right now, I'm happy to have my family all snuggled in.

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

weight & health & ramblings

I can't remember many times in my life when I've not been worried about my weight. Maybe when I lived in Spain and walked everywhere and lost quite a bit of weight. Definitely not when I was pregnant - man, did I ever LOVE being pregnant! Never did I feel so good as those 18 months! There have been a few other times off and on.

I often wonder what the heck I was thinking back in high school when I was sure I was fat. Amazing what a person's head does to us. I love the fact that I have curves. I love having an hourglass figure - even if it is a larger hourglass than I'd like to have. I am content with the knowledge that if I ever got to the BMI weight that is supposed to be healthy for me, I'd look like Skeletor, and there is nothing pretty OR sexy about that.

One of my goals is to get more fit - more healthy. I'm working hard at that. I'm using the map my walk app ( on my iPhone. I'm greatly enjoying going on walks with Rob. It is nice to walk and talk and just enjoy one another's company. It is also nice to have a twelve-year-old daughter who I trust to watch Rhys. I can remember that Jeremy and I would argue when our folks were home, but when I was watching him, everything went smoothly. It seems like that is the case for Irene and Rhys as well.

While the kids were off track, Rhys and I went on many walks together. It was something that I greatly enjoyed. We did shorter and slower walks, but they were precious and dear to me. It was time that he could just talk and I could listen. There were lots of discussions about the animals, particularly lizards and snakes, but also bees and colony collapse disorder, and ants. We talked about heaven and what he thinks it might be like. We talked about The Warriors books that he loves and wants to discuss and talk through, but it tends to drive Irene a bit insane. Now that they are back in school, I'm missing that time we had. But he's doing karate (and LOVING it!) 2 - 4 times per week, and it's hard to figure out where to fit it in. We will figure it out in time.

Today, it was 10 degrees when I put the kids on the bus. I knew it was going to be cold. When Rob left for work, it was 7 degrees. Yes, seven. So I had to plan what I was going to wear to make my walk successful. I put on my cuddle dud top, another long sleeve fitted shirt over that, a sweatshirt, my wool hoodie, a lovely handmade scarf, my jacket, and gloves with mittens over. On my lower half, I decided that because I couldn't find my cuddle dud bottoms to wear under jeans, I'd suck it up and wear the LL Bean fleece lined jeans that I've had for 6 years now that have never fit comfortably. They always took me laying down flat on my bed or hopping around to get them up and zipped. Once on, they'd be fine, until I had to sit down, then I'd have to think about the setting and figure out if I could tactfully unbutton the damned things or not. So, today I put them on. They fit. I didn't have to take a deep intake of breath to make my lower half skinnier than usual - I didn't have to wriggle them over my ample hips. I just put them on. And right now? I'm sitting on my bed cross legged and still wearing them. They are still feeling fine! As if they were any other pair of jeans that I own. Astounding. This morning, I was 3 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant with Rhys. That's still a good 20 - 25 pounds heavier than my happy happy joy joy weight (which is still probably considered overweight according to my BMI), but it is less than I've weighed in a  really long time. So - yea me!

So - back to my walk in the 10 degree air...Taking those first breaths outside in the 10 degree air was sort of crazy. felt like breathing in ice. But I had Pandora set to the Erasure station and blissed out on *MY* kind of 80s music (erasure, depeche mode, the cure, duran duran, new order, naked eyes, thompson twins, yaz, OMD, when in rome, etc etc etc), and focused on walking and not falling on the ice. It was good. I went farther than I thought I was going to go - and I know it looks funny if you see the loops and twists and turns i make, but it works for me - and faster than I've gone to date (probably because it was cold!).

For me, it never did. Give me the curves and some extra flesh.
I got the above picture from Carrie's fb page. I really don't think it is the men that feel this way. Men that I know like for women to have curves. So, I'm just going to look at that bottom half and think of that. And, I'll keep on working on healthier living and being.

And now, I *really* need to get some things packed up so that I can ship some woefully late presents out as well as ship the ebay item to the winner so that I can head to school and work in the kids' classrooms.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Books read, reading, and to read

I've seen other people do this and I have yet to remember to do it, so I'm going to write down the books I've read this year.

So far I've read:
Gregor the Underlander series (5 books) by Suzanne Collins (of Hunger Games fame)

  • These were fun and well written books. Not as intense as The Hunger Games. More of a Hunger Games "light," I suppose. The books were a quick read - I read them in 5 days. Helps that I was able to stay up quite late and read them.
Discussion of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

  • This is for my book club. I read it in a few days. It was a very interesting read. It's written from the point of view of an autistic teenager. It's probably not a book I'd have picked up for myself, but I enjoyed it very much.

So - six books so far. I want to re-read The Hunger Games before the movie comes out, but I'm waiting for Rob to finish them the first time around. He's on the last book. I bought my sister, nephew, Irene, and I Hunger Games shirts from Irene and I are REALLY excited about this movie and desperately hoping that it's good and doesn't add a bunch of bologna that isn't necessary and isn't in the books. The actors I know in it, I think are spot on for the characters they are playing. That's a good sign.

On my Currently Reading list I have:

Book 2 of Game of Thrones. I had to stop reading this for a while because it was giving me graphic dreams when what I really needed was rest.

The Anxiety Cure which was recommended by Dr. C-H.

The two books I am most anticipating this year?

Lydia Netzer's Shine Shine Shine which comes out in July (AND, I am hoping beyond hope that she really is able to come to Sparks and do a book signing - it is my desperate and fervent hope, not only because I want EVERY SINGLE ONE of my friends and acquaintances here in this town to meet her and buy her brilliant book, BUT, she is also a very good friend of mine and she lives far far away in Virginia, so we don't get to see one another nearly enough). By the way, the first Shine link is to the FB page. The second link is to the contest to WIN Shine Shine Shine

The second book I am greatly looking forward to owning is Joshilyn Jackson's A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Joshilyn (the h is silent, for new readers of ardent peace) has also written gods in Alabama, her first published novel which started out with quite a bang! Next came my very favorite so far, Between, Georgia, then The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, and her last book (previous to A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty) is Backseat Saints. One of the very very awesome things about Joshilyn's books is that if you choose to get the audio version, she has been the one to read all of them except for gods in Alabama. She is amazing.

Monday, January 09, 2012

A goal or two

In the past 4 - 5 months, I've lost close to 30 pounds. Some of this was because of not feeling hungry/feeling nauseous/worrying. Some of it has been from paying more attention to what I'm eating, some of it was from surgery and being in the hospital for 4 days and not getting to eat for most of that time. But, I've been *out* of the hospital now for 8 weeks. And in that time, I lost 5 pounds(ish). So...
One of my goals is to average 5 walks per week. I'd like them to be at least 30 minutes long. Last week I walked 10 miles and did indeed walk 5 days and 6 walks.

Now I just need to keep it up. Because of the weather, it's been easier to do - no snow/no ice. I'm sure that at some point, the snow will come pouring down and it will be trickier, but it's a goal. I will do my best to achieve it.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


So - I decided I needed to have some outside help. I found a therapist. She was able to see me right away on the 26th. I've seen her 3 times and it has helped tremendously. I am still dealing a bit with the anxiety - it really is more anxiety than panic. I've had true panic attacks, but didn't really realize the difference until talking to Dr. C-H. When Rhys was lost at Hendy Woods, what I had *then* was a panic attack (breathing too fast, feeling like something was pressing down on my chest, feeling like I had tunnel vision). Panic attacks are relatively fast. This that I was dealing with seemed to go on for a long time.

I've been listening to some relaxation tapes (is it still called a tape if it is on my iPhone?), reading a book called The Anxiety Cure, and working on different techniques to keep the anxiety at bay. Right now, I seem to be winning.

The Bloggess recently posted about anxiety/panic/self-harm. It is an amazing post that I highly recommend. A few days later she posted this - another good one.

So - school starts back for the kids on Monday. I will miss them. It's been nice to have them home during their track off time - even if I was down and moving slowly for a good chunk of it. Rhys and I have gone on some lovely fun walks together - he's 8 1/2 now and needs opportunities to just talk, so the walks give us about 1/2 hour of talking time (well, talking for him, listening for me).

And now, I need to leave. The Cookie Rally is today - that's right, GIRL SCOUT COOKIE TIME IS UPON US!!! Beginning tomorrow, let me know if you have any cookie needs - Irene will be happy to supply them if you don't have any Girl Scouts in your neck of the woods.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Long time no post

Wow - it's been well over a year since the last time I wrote anything on here...and i'm just going to be all me me me here for today's post.

On 11/11/11, i had surgery - it was a resection of my colon. 1' of it was removed - hopefully all the diverticulosis in my intestines is now gone. It's been quite the recovery. I thought it would be like my c-sections. um, Much more difficult - partly, I'm sure, because I don't have a sweet baby to hold, nurse, love, and care for.

I was diagnosed with diverticulitis in October 2009. That is when my panic/anxiety attacks began as well. I'd thought I understood what people meant when they said panic attack/anxiety attack. Boy. I knew nothing. Not A Damn Thing. After having my first one, I understood. Holy hell. They are awful and debilitating.

So - had my surgery. Things seemed to be going well, then, out of nowhere, I had a reminiscent pain that I shouldn't have that is what i associate with diverticulitis. It threw me into a panic attack. I'm now trying to drag myself out of them. Last night I finally took one of my generic xanax pills. It's only the 2nd time I've actually taken one. I took another one today because my mom offered to come over and make cookies with the kids. I slept for a good 3 hours.

I had a few friends call with a few ideas. I will try them and see how it goes.

wow - this was a happy and uplifting'll be better next time.

I'm trying to figure out ways to talk myself out of these panic attacks. it's really hard to be an