Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ten Things I Love About You...

Yesterday was my daughter, Kelsey's seventeenth birthday. I wanted to blog about it, but was a little stumped about what I wanted to express. I could have told the story of her birth (which was a fun ride on it's own!), or I could have talked about how special the last seventeen years have been. Maybe detailed her achievements (she's a gymnast, has been a cheerleader, does great in school, and so on). But today, while driving around running errands and letting my mind wander, the idea of what I really wanted to say just dropped into my head.

Here it is. I hope you enjoy it, but really, I hope she does.

Kelsey, my sweet baby, here is my gift to you on this, your seventeenth birthday.

The Top Ten Things I Love About You

  1. I love you for saying, "Yes" so willingly when I ask for your help - no matter what it is
  2. I love you for how you talk to Kameron
  3. I love you for the way you overcome your fears and do scary things anyway (like the bars, and sleeping in your own room)
  4. I love you for staying up late with me so I won't be lonely
  5. I love you for rubbing my feet and giving me pedicures (and neck rubs!)
  6. I love you for sharing your My Space page with me (brave soul!)
  7. I love you for telling me what you worry about
  8. I love you for your loyalty to me, your family, your friends, and God
  9. I love the way you love Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives and Seahawks games
  10. I love you because you love me, just as I am

You are a beautiful, gracious, funny almost-woman and I am truly a better person because you are in my life.

Happy Birthday, baby.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tomorrow is not promised...

Things are slowly returning to routine. The extreme weather has settled down, reverting to it's predictable winter forecast of rain. Who would think we Seattleites would embrace 40 degrees and rainy?

The kids had their first full day of school yesterday and I got some work done. I have a full weekend of showings booked, which always makes me feel more financially secure. It occurs to me that I've been living by faith for a lot of years now. I haven't had a "real" job since 1994 when Kris, Kelsey, and I left Seattle for Colorado Springs to attend Bible College. I was thirty three, Kris was six, and Kelsey was three.

My friend pointed out yesterday that really, everyone is financially insecure...none of us knows what tomorrow will bring. As the Bible says, we aren't promised tomorrow. I don't know if that encourages me or scares me more!

Depending on my mood, I guess I could go either way. But if I look back over the years of my walk with God, I clearly see His faithfulness to me, and to my children. That doesn't mean I have bunches of bucks in vast accounts - I don't have any savings, actually. And that does sometimes keep me up at night.

But, I know He is faithful, and He is working on our future here and beyond. I trust Him. Even though I'm getting older, and don't see how all this will work out. My biggest failing (as I see it today) is in not fully appreciating each day I do have. I really want to live while I'm alive...

In that spirit, I'm going to try a few adventures this year. For one thing, I love to snowboard, and plan on getting back out to the mountains at least once more this winter. We got in some night boarding the day after Christmas. It was GREAT snow, and I did better than ever.

Can't wait to get out again.

The other thing I really want to try is kayaking or rowing one of those boats that have the moving seats...I'm bound and determined to. Stay tuned for more details!

But my major, major goal is to finish my book. One way or another, it's gonna happen - if I have anything to say about it!

Current Status: Trusting God
Listening to: My little rat-dog, Ricky growling at Kameron (Ricky has some trust issues of his own)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


My son, Kameron got fit for a wheelchair last week. It's taken me almost seven years to allow it, but I finally gave in.

Kam's been through a lot in his little life. Born three months premature because his mom couldn't resist smoking a little crack to ring in the Millennium, he started life with a inter-cranial hemorrhage, optic nerve damage, retenopathy, virtually no lungs, and heart issues. Despite this horrific start, Kam refused to die. Thankfully, his biological parents were stripped of their rights to him, and he was placed under the care of the court. Eventually, Kam was trached and put on a ventilator at Children's hospital in Denver.

He spent his first year there, with tons of wonderful medical care and volunteers who tried to nurture him. When I met him in November of 2000, he didn't have a lot of charm or "cuteness". His head was huge because of the brain bleed, he was largely unresponsive, and had a two huge tubes tied onto the trach in his neck attaching him to a ventilator that made a lot of noise and occasionally started alarming.

But he captivated me.

I spent the next two months fighting to get him. I had to get his room set up, set up supply companies for oxygen and diapers and meds, find and hire 24 hour nurses, physical, speech, and occupational therapists. I had to drive the 120 mile round-trip to Denver countless times being trained to trouble-shoot the ventilator - his respiratory therapist trained my then fifteen-year-old son and me how to tear it down and rebuild it, and we had to learn how to change the trachs in his neck, how to suction out secretions...and on and on. January 8th, 2001 he came home.

In short, loving Kameron was an investment from the start. But so worth it.

Three years after he came to us, the feeding tube, trach, and ventilator were all gone. He was learning to talk, laughed his head off, loved everyone he met, and remembered us all.

He came to life.

His growth was phenomenal. Then, just over a year ago, he had what looked like a bad case of the flu. No biggie, everyone in our huge family was sick. But, Kam didn't get better, and that night he had a grand mal seizure. Surprisingly, with all his issues he'd never had seizures.

I called 911. Weeks and weeks went by. Kam was in and out of intensive care. The long and short of it is that he had multiple, huge, arterio venous malformations (the things that caused that Senator to almost die recently). They were actually cutting off the normal flow of blood to his brain. The blood was pumping into his head, but couldn't get out so the pressure was building up and causing stroke-like symptoms. Our local hospital didn't know what to do. They were going to attempt brain surgery, but didn't expect that Kam would survive. There were too many huge blood vessels clumped together in his head and he would most likely bleed to death trying to remove them.

Again, God had other plans for our little survivor. A doctor in Denver was "found" who specializes in treating these rare malformations using angiography (like for heart patients, but going up to the brain with the catheter) and embolization. Essentially, the doctor would insert a catheter in Kam's groin and go up into his brain, using dye and "materials" to try to shut off all the offending, unnecessary arteries and attempting to restore more normal blood flow.

Sixteen of these procedures later, Kam is finally doing better. He's been close to death many times, and I've tried to let him go, but for now, he's better.

Anyway, back to the chair. So, for more than a year he's hardly been able to hold his head up, let alone pull to stand and try to walk. He is gaining ground again - with assistance, we can get him to stand. He uses a walker-like device at school...but I'm finally realizing that maybe my stubborn refusal to get him a wheelchair is not helping him, but keeping him from a measure of control and freedom.

It feels like letting go of a dream. Maybe, in letting this go I'm being a good mother. Maybe, letting him run around in his yellow and black (to match the school bus) Quickie (what a name for a wheelchair) and letting go of my dream for him to be able to walk out back and climb up on the tramp by himself...maybe that's the best we can do now.

But it's hard.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Things that make you go hummm...

The view from my desk today is beautiful. Icicles are hanging from the overhang that covers my deck, there is still some snow clinging to the bare trees, and the sun is out, making it all look shiny. Lovely. Good work, Father.

I've been reading a book called Intuitive Eating. The premise is to get out of the diet mentality and feed yourself, not just eat. Food is apparently not the enemy! Meal time is not supposed to be a war between it and us. Hummm. Interesting idea.

The two authors are nutritionists, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. They make a lot of sense. They say that years and years of habitual dieting can cause us to distrust ourselves where food is concerned. For some of us, that distrust can lead to a general feeling of "loser-ness" and a sense that we can't control anything about ourselves or our lives. Not a fun place to be. This can lead to rebellion, which can lead to more eating. Hummm. I can identify with that.

I like their approach. I think it makes sense. Food should be a pleasure. They talk about enjoying each bite and only eating what you REALLY want (not what you think you should have). Then, you won't eat as much because you will be satisfied emotionally and physically. When you eat what you "should" eat you tend to feel unsatisfied and deprived, and will probably pig out later on what you were really hungry for. Might as well eat what you wanted in the first place and save time (and calories).

How are you supposed to know what you really want to eat? I have so many "forbidden" foods on my mental list now, I don't know what I actually like anymore!

At this point in my life, I'm pretty tired of dieting. I feel like I can't win the war, so what the heck? Surrender to middle-aged fatness. It's okay, really. I don't mind looking like a frumpy, boring old lady. Really.

But Tribole and Resch say I can eat whatever foods I
really want, be satisfied, and may lose weight naturally. I'm supposed to focus on the eating, not the avoidance thereof. Well, that sounds kind of fun. It flys in the face of what I tell myself about food every day "you can't eat that, you shouldn't have this...". Kind of scary to consider dietary freedom...

It's definitely more appealing than yet another freakin diet and all those stupid rules. I have way too many diet rules banging around in my head as it is after all these years. And like I said, I'm a rebel. If I'm going to eat, I might as well like it!

Meanwhile, I'll keep reading.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Snow Day!!!

Hi Gang! surprise, it was a snow day. Witness my front yard:

Truly a beautiful day here. Sunny, crisp, and slippery. We spent a lot of time this afternoon watching cars slip and slide and get stuck on my street. I would have set out lawn chairs and broke out a thermos of hot chocolate, but I don't have any lawn chairs yet. I left them in Colorado - you know, that cold, snowy state?

It was challenging getting any work done. Funny that the little people you are working so hard to support have no clue why you can't spend every spare nanosecond paying attention to them. It can be really hard working at home...but it's worth it. I did end up getting some showings for Saturday. That makes me feel better. If I don't have a client looking at homes, I don't have a deal on the horizon. That's our paycheck.

I got some work done on my book yesterday. The main character keeps changing (I hate the word evolving, but really that's what she's doing). She's morphed from a petite young strawberry
blond to a thirty-ish somewhat round woman. Her name has changed, her position in the birth order of her family, where she get the picture.

Maybe I need to just make some firm decisions and go forward...

Then again, maybe I should just hang out here on the fence a little longer...

Decisions, decisions.

On the TIVO: Grey's Anatomy (a new episode)
Status: Content with my lot.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's Snowing in Seattle!

It's so funny. I move here from Colorado (record snow so far this winter), move home to mild, rainy Seattle, and here comes the crazy weather! This is the second snow here since November. Definitely not the norm.

So here I sit, laptop on lap, feet up...surrounded by my kids doing early-evening after dinner kinds of things while I think about what to blog tonight.

The Left Coast Crime Convention is coming to Seattle next month. I've never been, and since it's so convenient, of course I'm going. Four days of seminars on various aspects of mystery writing. Very cool. With all the distractions in life, it's easy to put my writing on the back burner every day. I'm excited to get around writers who are "doing it" (getting books written) and fellow wannabes. At this point, I'd like to really dig into the process.

Well, I dawdled long enough that the kids are heading off to bed. I love the quiet when they go down, and always think I'll be able to get a bunch done, but usually I'm too darned tired and fall asleep in my chair. Makes me feel tres old.

Makes my neck hurt, too.

I think I'm going to work on my book for a while. Hopefully when I nod off it won't be over the keyboard. Drool is probably not good for it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

This wasn't my original idea

I missed posting last night. Got caught up watching Rudy on the DVR. Such an inspirational true story. I'm a big beliver in overcoming and "doing it ANYWAY". Down with naysayers and those who say we should just accept our lot in life and be content...grab life with both hands and full speed ahead!

Maybe that's why I'm such a good fit for the kids God's brought me. Some of them looked pretty hopeless at first, second and third glance. Some of them probably still seem that way. Not every child I had in foster care over the past nine years wanted my help. They might have resented it. I think some of them might not have even realized I was trying to help, or thought they needed it.

By the time some children reach foster care, they're so tweaked by the horrendous lives they have, they don't know what "normal" families look like or act like. I had one little guy in my home who'd been in over twenty homes by the time I got him when he was ten. It makes your heart scream and bleed. I remember sitting in family court listening to charges being read against a man and what he was accused of doing to his son. The judge was a woman. As she read that long, horrible list I remember wondering how she could do her job. How do you stay impartial and fair when you see this truly unbelievable side of humans and how they treat their own young? I wanted to jump on the guy and pound him senseless. I wanted to scream. I did cry, and as previously mentioned, I don't do that often or well.

My heart has been permanently changed by the things I learned as a foster parent. I can't say right now if it's for better or worse. Just changed.

I love all the children it's been my privledge to care for over the years. Some of them are now legally mine. I'm not the best mom in the world. I worry and I work too much, and I still don't spend enough "quality" time with them. But, I'm pretty sure they all know I love them. And I know that having a permanent single parent, while not the ideal situation, it is a whole lot better than where they were before.

We have years ahead of us, trying to learn together how to mend and live with the damage done to them by the parents who brought them into the world. But, I'm betting that it will all be worth it. For all of us.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

How God Meets Our Deepest Needs

Church today. It was good I guess. If your definition of "good" includes crying like a little sniveling girl.

I don't know about you, but when God whispers to me -- and you always know when it's Him -- I am almost always moved to tears. Maybe not the bawling, snot-running, red-faced kind of tears (not often, anyway), but moved enough to need a Kleenex and mess up my mascara.

My heart kind of gets all big and swollen and I cant' stop smiling and I find myself crying.

I'm not a big crier. I guess with all the freakin' responsibilities I have, it just isn't an option. You have to try to keep it all together, you know? I think maybe we feel sometimes like if we start "losing it", we won't be able to stop and the world will fall apart or something.

But when God puts His arm around me and starts talking sweet and low, I melt a little. He's telling me I'm not alone -- no, not ever. And He's telling me He loves me way more than I could ever imagine. And He's telling me that He is completely in my corner no matter how much I think I screw up, no matter how much I actually do screw up. He's my Man, my Daddy, my Friend and I'm His girl.


That's how it was today. Just an ordinary Sunday service, but all the words I really really needed to hear. Isn't it funny that when you hear them, and they get all up inside you, it's almost a surprise, because you didn't even know you needed to hear them.

But God did.

As my baby boy, Rain would say. Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

One of God's many names in the Bible is Jehovah Shammah. It's in Ezekiel 48:35 and it means God is Here. Always and forever. Always present, now.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
That's my prayer for all of us, hope. His hope. None like it!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Where in the Heck Did I Put My Magnifying Glass?

Did you ever try to clean the smudges from your glasses and realize that they're not dirty? That happened to me today.

Unfortunately, I think my eyes might be in need of a little pick-me-up prescription. That stinks, because the eye doctor told me last year that this prescription would last for many years to come...liar.

Things that make you feel old:

Having a six-year old son
Trying to read the itty-bitty street names on the Thomas Guide

There are more, I just can't remember what they are right now.

The six-year old son has been a huge challenge lately. I just don't seem to be as adept as I used to be. He gets defiant, and I yell. He puts on his ANGRY face and stares at me, arms crossed. I yell. My pithy lines include things like, "Do you want to go to your room?"and , "Do you want me to spank you?". What's he supposed to do, say yes?

I'm acting like the mothers I've talked about most of my life.

This morning, we had another little battle of the wills. I eventually prevailed, but the mental effort was enormous and made me tired.

Geez, I wondered, what's wrong with me? Revelation: I didn't actually participate a lot in my older children's defiant years. As previously posted, I worked a bunch. That means other women dealt with most of this messy, inappropriate, endlessly annoying behavior. Really, this is the first time I've had to put up with it on a daily basis. In retrospect, I don't think I paid them enough.

A little voice in my heart keeps whispering, "You asked for this, remember? You wanted to be a stay at home mom..." Yeah, what's that got to do with anything?

As for the Thomas Guide - that's the big map book we Realtors {insert trademark here} use as our bible (well, those of us who can't afford GPS). You might have seen them, hundreds of pages mysteriously coded and "logically" broken down into bite-sized chunks of the county. They take about a 1/4 mile section at a time and put it on two 8 1/2" x 11 pages all bound together in a nice, spiral book.

The streets look like bits of stray cat hair stuck on the page. The street names are even smaller.

I go out pretty much every weekend with clients, showing between three and five ( my one-day record is eight) homes to each client, each day. They are, of course, spread all over creation.

Now, remember I just moved back to the Seattle area after a twelve year absence. I wasn't all that familiar with King County then, I'm SURE not now.

So, in order to seamlessly guide my clients from one home to the next in an efficient, timely, and logical fashion, I spend hours pouring over the Thomas guide, planning our route.

My sweet clients think I'm super-organized and professional. They don't understand that my mind just isn't as lightning-fast and adaptable as it used to be. It takes a lot of time to look that effortless.

It also takes a magnifying glass.

Status: full of tummy and content
Today's reading: Elizabeth George's A Place of Hiding

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Love is...

Things that make you curl up and purr like a little kitten:

getting your back scratched
getting your feet rubbed
getting your back scratched while getting your feet rubbed...

You get the picture.

I have a wonderful almost seventeen -year-old daughter who has tireless fingers. She can scratch and rub for endless hours. Not only can she, she does! What a blessing. I think she loves me.

Today was a good day. I got some good client contact in, set up a seminar for first time buyers (did I ever mention I'm a Realtor {insert trademark here}?), and showed two condos.

I also got some work in on the book, edited a few pictures from Christmas, took a long bath, AND had a nap!

What a lovely day.
Does it get any better than this?
I am woman, hear me purrrrrr...

On the TiVo: Firday Night Lights
Scripture for today, Romans 5:1-10

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Things I Did Right Today

It was a good day...I spent some time working and some time reading.

The kids went back to school FINALLY. Not that I don't love my children, but long periods of exposure to each other during rainy weather (when the trampoline and back yard are under a few feet of water) tends to make us all a little tired of togetherness.

We had a good Christmas. My son, who turned twenty today, came to visit for the break. He makes everything happier. He's a typical guy who loves anything Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell. He's going to college on a partial athletic scholarship for basketball. I know that if he could avoid the educational part, and just play basketball, Halo, and snowboard, he'd be a really contented camper...oh well. Wouldn't we all enjoy life more if we could play all day?

His attitude is so refreshing. It lifts me out of the intense "reality" of daily life and helps me relax. He flew back to Colorado on New Year's Day...I miss him.

He lucked out, the b-ball practice he flew back for was canceled (due to snow), so he and his friends spent one day on the streets of Denver sledding (!) and a second day snowboarding at Beaver Creek.

That I raised him - alone - for seventeen of his twenty years, and that he is a well-adjusted, happy young man who is in school, keeping his grades up, figuring out his future, and having fun makes me feel great.

That's what I did right today. I had a baby boy twenty years ago tonight. I wasn't (and still am not) a "perfect" mom. I yelled sometimes when I was scared, tired, and lonely. I never felt like I was there enough -working two and sometimes three jobs, going back to school at night when he was five. I tried to find creative ways to be a "real" mommy: I made cakes from scratch for his first birthday one for the daycare and one for us, signed him up for baseball, and actually coached his pee-wee soccer club for a season. Considering I've never played soccer, I thought that was above and beyond the call. Thankfully, he's turned out alright in spite of my efforts

More than alright. He's something I really did do right today.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

How it's going...

Well, day one. Things I did right today:

I jogged in my living room 200 steps (actually, it was 400, I only counted the right foot).

I worked on my book. Just how many times I can change my main character's name remains to be seen.

I only ate two pieces of cake rather than the three I really wanted.

And, I wrote out the monthly expenses for my eighteen year old foster daughter to see (thus working on the financial control goal). This really is progress, because usually I try to avoid thinking about just how far short I am each month of actually having enough to pay the bills. Writing them down is half-way to a budget, isn't it?

Oh, and I posted here. That's the fun part of the day. That, and finding the name McCormickhuentelman in the Dex white pages for the metro Seattle area. True story. Check it out. Page 751.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Another New Year...

So here's my take on this New Year thing. After more than forty of them, I'm kind of maxed out on the resolution deal. Too many promises to myself that I've broken.

I don't want to "resolve" anything this year but to keep track of What I Did Right Today.

My current lifetime goals are:

1. To take care of myself
2. To take care of my children

The things that I want to do that fit into those two categories are:

- Writing daily
- Losing weight (moving my expanding butt in some fashion EVERY day)
- Keeping my house from falling apart (literally)
- Getting our finances under control
- Staying in relationship with God
- Working on keeping on top of all the appointments and stuff the kids need (since they have some special needs, that is important, but can really be consuming)
- Having FUN every day

I (like most of my fellow humans) tend to focus on all the undone piles of crap (literal and figurative) at the end of every day. This can lead to strong impulses to slam my head against the wall. You know, I've never noticed dogs looking frustrated or depressed by this kind of stuff...but that's a topic for another day.

Hopefully, keeping track of the Things I Did Right Today will train my eyes to focus more on the positive movement -however minuscule - toward my goals, and help me keep my cranium intact.

God bless us, every one in 2007!