Monday, June 29, 2009

Steppin Out at Seward Park - Parte Due

Manager Kimi was sick last week so we haven't walked since last Saturday, I think. It was the day before Father's a little more than a week. Today, we were back!

I won't lie, it was hard getting out of bed and pulling on the warm ups. Had trouble finding my socks - it is difficult to see without my glasses, but I like to ease into morning - finally got the assorted clothing assembled and on, then realized I was almost out of gas. No problem, isn't that what the lawnmower gas is for? Am I right??

I got to Manager Kimi's house maybe ten minutes behind schedule, which seemed to be a reasonable amount of lateness, and off we went.

It was an amazingly beautiful morning at Seward Park. The sky was a clear, serene blue; Mount Rainier was out (she's a bit shy and is often hiding behind a veil of clouds); Lake Washington was softly nudging the shoreline; and the early morning walking temperature was a perfect 60-ish degrees, with an ever-so-gentle breeze.


We saw a few of our regulars: there's a group of women we see fairly often, sometimes with four ladies, sometimes with three, but always with this one older, skinny white lady who does most of the talking, and one black mid-size lady who jogs along with the other women who are walking. It's a very slow jog.

Two of our older gentlemen - we'll call them Walter and Roger - were sitting on one of the countless benches scattered along the shoreline chatting. There are several groups of older people who walk at the Park, all different ethnicities, all different shapes and sizes. It's fun to imagine who they are and what their history might be. . .most of them were probably children during World War II.

We missed Rasta Runner, but kind of expected that, because he's an early runner and we were fifteen minutes later than usual.

We watched people and their dogs. There are adventurous dogs (the ones that will swim halfway across the lake to retrieve a stick), and the not-so-adventurous dogs (the ones that sit on the bank and watch the other dog retrieve the stick). There are itty-bitty dogs that can barely keep up with their owner walking, and BIG dogs that drag their owner as she runs to keep up.

Often, there are parents with their kids on the trail. Today, we saw a dad with his two sons. One of the boys was probably around eight or nine and on a wave board (per Manager Kimi), the other little guy was maybe three and on his little Spider Man trike. He looked like a future football player, kind of a mini-Warren Sapp. Their dad was trailing a bit behind them, trying to keep up.
Another dad was convincing his pre-teen daughter that yes, those tall closet-looking things by the side of the path were, in fact, the bathrooms. Not sure how that panned out.

One interesting factoid that I keep forgetting to mention is that, while MK is a Crow Whisperer, she is NOT a fan of Canadian Geese. I think it dates back to some incident in her childhood. . . geese can be meanies.

There were many geese at the Park today.

We saw a blue heron, possibly two, or possibly the same one twice. They are crazy-cool looking birds.

We saw and heard an angry squirrel chastising and chasing another squirrel out of his tree. Loudly.

Another really awesome thing we saw today was three eagles. They were initially all together flying over the Lake - looking for fish, I suppose. As we walked, they flew over us and perched in some really tall pines nearby. Then they started to talk. You can't call what eagles do singing, I think. I can't describe the sound, but it is very distinctive and memorable. I imagine that all the birds listen when eagles talk. . .
Even after a one-week layoff, Manager Kimi and I completed our two-lap, five mile journey. That sounds impressive, at least for those of us that are athletically-challenged, but it's even more impressive when you consider how much time we spend looking around us and keeping a commentary going rather than concentrating on "exercising".

I can't wait until Wednesday. Who knows what we'll see then!

How about you? Do you have a favorite outdoor spot where you live? What's it like? How often do you get there?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Making Eye Contact

I've had to cut my Therapist Lisa visits back to twice a month (due to significant budget constraints). In my last visit with her she had a few challenges for me. Unfortunately, I didn't write them all down. Since my mind is getting full (you realize the older you get the more junk you have in there so it gets much harder to find those little memory files, right?), I don't remember all of them. I'm pretty sure there were three. One was to "continue to feel". This was in response to the yucky grieving over Andrew's leaving.

I still say feeling is highly over-rated.

I can't remember the middle one.

The last one was a challenge to make eye contact with. . . men. There, I've said it. Right here in cyberspace for all to see. Crap.

I don't talk much about the "single" part of the parent thing, do I? Which is kind of crazy since I've been one for nineteen (yes, NINETEEN) years. There are many excuses that could be made here. Busy, busy, busy!! Family to raise!! All the "good" ones are taken!! I don't trust myself!! And so on.

But truthfully, I never wanted to be a single mom. All that bs spouted around about how we are just another type of family is just that: bs. There is nothing fun, glamorous, or romantic about raising children alone. Kids aren't all that keen on it, either (speaking as a person raised by a single parent).

Face it, we are designed to need two parents. We are needy beings and we suck a lot out of one person. Plus, moms are generally the nice ones. It's hard to do both nice and nazi. Confuses the kids and the mom.

Of course, this is a fallen world there are tons of reasons why we end up with only one parent. Some two parent families would do better with only one. And somehow in spite of the statistics, lots of kids from single parent homes grow up pretty well. It still amazes me how awesome my older two are.

BUT (and this is a big but), I personally hate being alone. Not just for all the kid-raising, house maintaining, someone to rub my back reasons, but because I'd like a man to share life with. Someone to listen to who likes listening to me. Someone to hang out with.

This is a place in my heart that I haven't spent much time exploring. I think it's one of those "feeling" areas I'd rather avoid. But if I ever want the situation to change, I probably need to at least take a peek at it, right? Yuck and more yuck.

So the Therapist Lisa challenge is to make eye contact with men.

Something about being available engage in a conversation or something like that. EEEEWWWW. Who the heck thought it would be so tough to just look a man in the eye??

I hate it when I am exposed as a little girly girl. Weak underbelly? Um, YEAH!

I may or may not keep you guys posted on this. Let's see how it goes.

What a wimp.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I'm struggling today with what to post. I want to write something profound and moving, something that will make a difference in your lives, my faithful readers...

But I'm coming up short. Profound isn't on my menu today. Must be an overload of profundity in my life lately. This is what I came up with instead:

The awesomeness of Seattle Sourdough bread - if you've never had it, it's amazing, especially with sharp cheddar cheese - or a post about my favorite things, like photography, large bodies of water, sunflowers, big dogs, and calligraphy. Or I could write about friendship: how difficult it can be to find and keep good friends.

I considered telling you how my Italian lessons are progressing - bene grazie; or, about Seattle in the sunshine (glorious - green and blue and around seventy degrees).

But I think today I'll take a break. I finished a chunk of my work-at-home job, and have several good books waiting to be read. So, that's what I'm going to do this Saturday afternoon.

Thanks for bearing with me, people. You have no idea how much I appreciate you all.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What to Do? What to Do?

I feel like I've spent years and years trying to decide what to be when I grow up. Which is a little sad, because at my age, I'm not growing up anymore, I'm due to start shrinking. Well, in height, anyway.

But I've never had a distinct sense of direction in my life - with a few exceptions - and now that Andrew is gone, I'm back at the fork in the road. Do I continue to foster extremely high needs children? Do I simplify my life, and stop fostering? Is there a middle ground?

On the one hand, I am very good at helping kids with intense behaviors. On the other, I have three children at home - two who are still very young - and I'd like to spend some time with them. They have needs, too.

But what do I do for income?

And what are some of my longish-term goals? As my children get older and move out, where am I finding that "abundant life" I long for? How much time do I spend even pondering it?

I came across a meme the other day. 101 things to do in 1001 days. It's not new by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, one of the oldest posts I found on the site went back to 2003. But it is new to me, and I love the concept. Check it out.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking and praying about what to do next. I can't seem to get away from these children in distress, so it's doubtful I'll completely stop working with them. But I also need to regroup after losing Andrew. So do my kids.

I will say that everyone who can help a foster child, should. There are so many children in our communities that remain in dangerous and deplorable circumstances because there is nowhere to take them. There is always a shortage of foster homes.

Please consider stepping out of your comfort zone and taking in just one child. You don't even have to be a full time foster parent. You could provide respite for other foster parents. That means taking someone else's foster children for a few days so that the actual foster parent can get a break.

You will be making a difference. It's like throwing a pebble into a still lake. The ripples of your one act of kindness will spread far beyond your reach, far beyond your imagination.

Think about it.

Much love and respect my friends, I'm sure I'll keep you posted as things develop.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's...

Kameron my nine year old, is, to me, a superman. Well, maybe a superboy. It's been awhile since I told his story I think, so I'm going to tell it again - hey, it's my blog, so I can indulge right?

Kam was born Kenny in Denver Colorado on January 1st, 2000. Now, before you ooo and ahhh about how cool that birthday is, I want to warn you that he was born THREE months early. Yes, three months. At birth, he weighed a little over one pound. He had a brain hemorrhage that contributed to the calcification of 45% of his brain. That means almost half his brain was turned essentially into bone. He couldn't eat, his optic nerve was seriously damaged from the hemorrhage, his lungs were short, Kenny was a mess.

His mom and dad were encouraged from the get-go to disconnect the life support from little Kenny. They declined. Soon, it became evident that mom and dad were less than stellar parents (I believe they had a fist fight in the NICU), and the courts stepped in with a protective order for him.

Within three months, the hospital declared him well enough to be discharged to a foster home. His first foster mom disagreed. Kenny was supposed to be bottle-fed, yet he wouldn't/couldn't suck; he still had significant breathing difficulties, and was on oxygen, but it didn't seem to be helping. She was concerned about his listlessness, his pallor. It seemed to her that the hospital was trying to discharge him so that he might finally die. She wasn't into that happening on her watch. The social worker must have agreed with the hospital, because she didn't want him back in the hospital, and so Foster Mom #1's agency moved Kenny to another home. Thankfully, this Foster Mom was newly licensed because she'd just left her former career as a NICU nurse.

She took one (okay, maybe two) looks at Kenny and whisked him off to Children's Hospital in Denver. There he was put on a feeding tube and a ventilator. Eventually, he had surgery for his retinopathy (eye problem, not the optic nerve damage though), and was diagnosed as having bronchial malaisa. Basically, his bronchial tubes weren't formed enough for him to breathe.

He stayed at Children's for the next year. He grew, and his lungs matured a bit, but not enough to get off the vent. Parental rights were terminated (his mom and dad stopped visiting shortly after the ventilator was attached to Kenny's throat via a tracheotomy). And Kenny finally stabilized.
Here I come. Crazy Foster Mother to I don't remember how many at that point, and really wanting a baby. Now, I guess that most people, when they think of a baby, don't think of a baby with Kenny's special needs. Actually, I didn't either. But from the moment I saw him in Denver, I knew I wanted him.

Anyway, long story short, Kenny came to live with us. It took many weeks, months maybe, to get the house and us ready. We had to hire a private duty nursing company to take care of his still significant medical needs, occupational, physical, and speech therapists to try to get him functioning at any level he could achieve, a special chair was ordered that would hold both Kenny and his ventilator and two batteries for our trips out of the house. And on and on. We had a ton of prep work for this little boiyo. In the end, it took us a little more than three years to get him off the vent and the feeding tube, and right after that, his lungs were declared healthy enough to be off oxygen completely. He was doing terrific. Better than anyone expected, especially his doctors.

August of 2003, Kenny became Kameron, and an official member of my little brood.

Then, when he was about to turn five, all heck (and I mean the other word) broke loose. It was Halloween, and Kam had been sick all day. It looked like the stomach flu, which made sense, because several of the other kids had been sick. But around dinner time, Kam had a grand mal seizure and I called 911.

Weeks in and out of ICU in Colorado Springs, and no one knew what was wrong with him. Most of the professionals agreed that he'd just begun having a seizure disorder. After all, look at his CT - look at all that brain damage. I disagreed. Kameron had never shown any hint of seizure disorder, and even so, the way he was seizing didn't look to me like a typical disorder.

Eventually, some technician saw a shadow on an MRI, and it was decided he had an Arterio Venous Malformation: an AVM. Some of the symptoms were migraine headaches, seizures, possible hemorrhage, and stroke-like features. We almost lost him several times.

More long story short, some serious brain procedures - like thirty or thirty-five - later, and one brain surgery last August, it looks like maybe the AVMs (turned out to be a ton of them) are shut down and not growing anymore. Yay!

Now nine and about as healthy as he's ever been, Kameron is finally getting a chance to grow and develop. He is in a wheelchair, but can use his legs, and if the medical equipment powers-that-be could hurry up a bit, he will soon have a walker to use. The idea of him standing and walking on his own is beyond thrilling.

Also, this little boy who wasn't supposed to live, then wasn't supposed to ever talk or eat or have any signs of intelligence, not only talks (a LOT), he remembers people and their names, he sings a ton of songs, he remembers scripture verses, loves basketball, and on and on. AND he is learning addition (ask him what 3+5 equals and he will tell you 8), and just the other day I posted a pic from my phone on Facebook showing Kameron reading on the toilet. Now, this wouldn't be extraordinary for most kids, but Kam, with almost half his brain severely damaged and about nine years behind the rest of the pack, was actually reading the words - all of them - in the book. Not bad for being "blind".

I guess the moral of his story is that you just can't count anyone out. No one told Kameron he was supposed to die - many times over by this point. No one told Kameron he couldn't read or learn math. No one let him know he shouldn't be able to dribble and shoot a full sized basket ball. He just keeps on going. Who knows where he'll end up? I can't wait to find out.

As always, thank you so much for reading. I know you have your choice of blogs, and am grateful mine is one of them. Much love.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thinking Upon These Things. . .

No secret, life's been tough lately.

Andrew leaving. My twenty-two year old son, Kris, settling into Oregon and getting married next month. His sweet fiancee moving from my house back to Colorado to prepare for the wedding...all within a few days.

Who knew how much this stuff would hurt? Let me tell you, it sure does. And all the avoidance methods I've worked so many years to perfect aren't strong enough to hold back the pain. Crap (and by "crap" I really mean the other word).

Denial - pretending I don't care - nope. I do care.
Distraction - TV, books, hot baths, sleep, excessive use of Mafia Wars, and the like - nope. Just not fun enough or important enough.
Drunkenness - let's see...well, since around 1989, that's lost its appeal. Thankfully, I can enjoy a glass of wine or two, but the total obliteration of getting wasted is not an option.

So that kind of leaves another "D": Dealing with it.

This is really no fun, but I don't see a way around it. As a Christian, I know I need to "turn to God". What does this look like? I mean what, exactly, does that entail?

Most of us will say, "Pray, and read the Bible". That is a standard reply. But does it work? When we pray, does He answer? What kind of help is it to pray, really? What practical help in relieving my intense psychic and emotional pain is to be found in the Bible?

Well, for the past many years, I probably wouldn't be able to answer that. Even though I've been with Him for twenty years, the last...umm...ten, maybe, I've been angry and resentful and bitter. God hasn't done what I wanted Him to do. I had big plans for what He'd do through me - the ministry I thought He had for me. When it didn't pan out the way I thought it should, I got pissed.

At first, it was just around the edges. A root of doubt - a whisper - planted in my heart. "Did God really say He loves you? Then why didn't He help you with this? Why didn't He save you from that? That doesn't seem loving at all, does it?"

And that awful root, un-dealt with, grew larger and stronger, like some crazy kudzu wrapping itself around my heart trying to kill the Life in me. Every disappointment, every perceived "failure" on God's part only fed the nasty vine. My prayer life withered and almost completely died. My time in the Word - ditto.

These two activities used to literally be my life-lines. I hungered to spend time with God every morning. It fed me, kept me stronger than Wheaties ever could! Losing this very nearly killed me, I'm realizing. I can't explain what it's like, that connection - but it's real, and good, and necessary.

So now, just as I'm recognizing this massive black hole in me, along come more "challenges" to my weakly fluttering faith. And the temptation is to once again, get angry at God for not making things go the way I sincerely think they should.

But I am not God. I do not know the whole story. Frankly, I don't need to or want to. And that's the truth.

How do I combat the temptations to doubt Him? I don't have that totally figured out. That's what church and Therapist Lisa, and Manager Kimi, and my Gorgeous Son, Kris and my Awesome Daughter, Kelsey are for. They are helping me pull my eyes off the things I can't have. They are helping me fix my eyes on what I do have. Like a friend to walk in the park with. Like a therapist who prays for me, like a sweet son who likes to spend time with me, just talking, and a daughter who will rub my feet and yell at the little kids when I am too worn down to.

I also have some really fine memories of my life this far. The kids that have come through my homes ('cause we've moved a lot), times spent at gymnastics meets and football games, reading to the kids and praying with them before bedtime, camping in the rain at the beach, Awesome Daughter Kesley making Thanksgiving dinner when she was fifteen because My Precious Boy Kameron and I were in ICU - again! I have so many many things to be grateful for.

And I am.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How do I Detach from This Outcome?

I've been a little quiet the past several days. I'm not sure how many of you've been following my Andrew stories, but to recap, he is my sweet four-year-old foster son. Well, "sweet" may be pushing it a tad. But, I think he's sweet.

Andrew came into our home November 1st of last year. At the time, I was contracting with the YMCA Family and Mental Health Services agency to provide a temporary home for kids who were in crisis and needed more structure and supervision than they could get in their home or in a "regular" foster home - a place to calm down and stabilize. Some of the kids some were having trouble maintaining at home or in a foster placement, some were just out of the hospital; and some should have been hospitalized.

A few of the children that came in fell through cracks in the system. They were children under six, because six in the Washington State foster program is a magic age. That's when kids can be classified as needing significant behavioral support and get more funding. Not quite certain why behaviors they've been having for all the previous years aren't enough...but hey, it's a Governmental bureaucracy. It has to have a few kinks in it (cough, cough).

Because of this rule, some of the littler kids needing intense supports don't have a place to go. Their "families of origin" can't handle them, and none of the treatment facilities will take them without the higher level of funding. My house became kind of a loophole in the system. Our program could provide the higher level of care and services, but only for ninety days.

So, here comes Andrew. At four years old, he's my youngest yet in the program. He'd been in seven placements already. The previous placements were all family members and he'd been abused and neglected in each of them.

He came into our house one ANGRY little guy. Huge behaviors, spitting, kicking, throwing things, hitting, crying, CUSSING like a serious longshoreman. His tantrums - and I use that term loosely, because they were really rages - lasted up to three hours. For real.

This went on for weeks. Every single day, at least once a day. Sometimes, two or three times. It was a bumpy ride for us all. We went past the ninety days, and I changed the classification of my home so that he would not have to move again.

Eventually, we wore him down. Consistently saying what was okay and what wasn't, sticking to easy, clear rules: "We chew with our mouth closed, Andrew" "We stay at the table until we're done, Andrew" "We don't use words like that, Andrew" "We flush and wash, Andrew" and putting some structure into his life helped him feel safe and he started to relax.

It got so that tucking him into bed (which used to be an ordeal lasting a few hours), turned into one of the highlights of our day. He would get his jammies on and brush his teeth, go to his room to pick out a book, and get under the covers to wait for me. We had a whole routine worked out.

Ditto in the morning. We had a getting ready for the big boy's bus schedule. Having consistent things - even "little" things - to look forward to helped make his day (and mine) smoother and more predictable. He loved these things.

Four weeks ago, a judge who's never met Andrew, decided he was ready to go back to his mother. He hasn't lived with her for the last three of his four years. He is scared. He doesn't know her. And as of last Friday morning, he's living with her.

I can't go into the details of the case; not because I'm worried about confidentiality, but because I don't want to, and I don't feel it really matters at this point.

What matters is that Andrew got under my "professional" foster mom skin. What matters is I love that little boy. What matters is that, when I tried to pack his little plastic forks and spoons that he got for having good table manners, he said, "No, leave them here for when I come back". What matters is how hard he hugged my neck when he left, and how hard I cried after I closed the door.

What matters is that I keep listening for the sound of his rattly, plastic Big Wheel tearing up the sidewalk in front of our house; that I keep waiting for the sound of his voice, asking me a thousand whys: "Kath-a-leen, why does Ricky have eyes? Kath-a-leen, why does Klaryssia get mad so much? Kath-a-leen, why is your car that color...?"

What matters is how empty my lap feels sitting here at this computer because he used to, just last week, just a few days ago, come running out here to my office, flat, bare feet slapping on the hardwoods, to push his way up into my lap, to sit with me while I wrote. Always asking me, "Why"?

I don't know why, Andrew. I have no answers for this one.

I love you, little man. You will always be a part of me, and I hope and pray that somewhere in your little man heart, you will remember me, too.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm a Tricksy Girl

Here's a quick update on the TV fast. If you recall, I let it slip to Therapist Lisa that I tend to over-watch television. Kind of a turn it on and tune out thing? So, she challenged me to turn it off for SEVEN days. At the same time, in church, I kept hearing about us trying to find comfort from stuff (any stuff - TV, drugs, drink, food, friends, etc.) rather than face our pain and junk and take it to God. So, knowing that I have many many "comfort" things that help me not at all, I agreed to turn it off.

I actually did pretty well with the no TV thing. Only watched one lateish night, started with a DVR'd Law and Order - I do love that darned show - and then watched Marley and Me, which of course had me sobbing.

That was helpful. I need to cry more.

The thing I noticed immediately was my computer time increased. Not so much Facebook or Twitter, which surprised me, but def more time cruising and exploring: reading other people's blogs, looking up random stuff, checking out Italian learning programs and sites. I didn't work on my writing like I wanted to, although I had some more ideas on framing my story. 'Course, ideas don't do diddly if you don't act on them.

But, I also noticed that I have spent more time talking with God and reading His Word. So that's a huge positive. And, I did tackle a big personal project that I've been avoiding. It's not quite finished, but it's about two-thirds of the way done.

I'm really working on recognizing baby steps as positive progress, and not slapping myself around for not "accomplishing" anything because of some nebulous, fictional, grading scale I have that says unless I get it all done - preferably now - I've failed.

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

- Micah 6:6-8 esv

Okay, I can work on those. Oops. I'm supposed to be "being" more and "doing" less.

See how my mind works? Now I'm stressing about being and doing. UGH!!! Where's that remote??

Love you guys, thanks always for reading...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Steppin' Out at Seward Park

Okay, so I've told you all about the walking program with my little Manager Kimi, right? One of the three out-of-the-house-with-another-person things I'm supposed to do? So, here is an update on that activity.

I mentioned that we are walking at Seward Park, it's a really beautiful place on the south end of Seattle. It's situated on a little penninsula jutting out into Lake Washington. For those of you who don't know, Lake Washington is an amazingly beautiful body of water that curves along the east side of the city of Seattle. It's huge - 22 miles long at one point, and 214 feet at it's deepest. When the sun is even remotely out, the lake is filled with boats, Seados, and brave swimmers along the shore.

The University of Washington butts up against part of the western shore, and their boat house is there, in the shadows of Husky Stadium and Hec Ed Pavillion. In the early morning hours, if you are nearby, you can see the crew racers out practicing. They look like big water skeeters. It seems like they barely touch the surface as they speed along.

Lake Washington and Lake Union (another beautiful body of water, the one with all the houseboats) are connected by the Montlake Cut which runs between Husky Stadium and the Montlake neighborhood, then meanders under the University Bridge. There are tons of waterfront businesses dotted along here, kayaking clubs, little restaurants that you can boat up to and tie up for a meal. Lake Union has GasWorks Park, a very popular - read thousands of people - place to view the fireworks at the Space Needle on July 4th.

These are some of the reasons I love my home. Walking with Manager Kimi at Seward Park is reminding me of these reasons. That's just one of the bonuses. She and I are up to two laps around the park, that's five miles - yay us!

We take it fairly easy, and talk a lot (mostly me, I'm afraid), but we've noticed our time getting better. We are also having fun. There are regulars: Rasta Runner for one. He's there every time we are. He's always wearing his hat and brightly-colored shorts that match. He is VERY thin and musclely. I imagine him running across deserts in Africa. . . he always says hello, every time he passes us. Funny, he is always running opposite of us. Seems like the regulars all go in a regular direction, too.

Manager Kimi has a here-to-fore secret calling: she is a Crow Whisperer.

Did you know such a thing exsisted? Me either. But she is one. I've seen her in action. See, she talks to the cawing crows, and they stop cawing. They seem to know that she has wisdom to impart...kinda creepy, if you ask me, but I still like her.

There are a lot of crows at Seward Park.

We've noticed that our fellow walkers/runners seem nicer on the weekdays. Everyone (really, everyone) says hello and smiles as they pass. Even the ones that are really huffing and puffing. It's awfully nice to have that degree of friendliness within the city.

There are sweet groups of older people, men, women, both together, that stop along the path to chat. They always smile and wave, too. Many many dog walkers - some with up to three - and dog runners. One guy had his dog tied around his waist. They both looked like they were ready for a marathon.

One of the oddest things is the "skirt runners". On any given day, we can be sure to see at least one woman (one day, it was three different women) wearing a skirt. I'm not talking sporty, tennis player-type skirt. I'm talking maxi-length, cotton or cotton-blend type skirt you might wear to church or something. Really a bit odd.

But for me, that is part of the charm. The people we see enjoying Seward Park, are who they are. Most of them aren't there for anyone but themselves, and by that I mean they aren't dressing to impress, or making sure their dog looks good. Well, for the most part.

Bottom line, they are there to enjoy this great space in the middle of our city. That makes me enjoy it, too. Yay for Seattle, I say.

For more Pics from Steppin' Out at Seward Park, see my Picasa album.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Nothing Earth-Shattering to Say...

Hi guys -

Nothing major to report on tonight. I just wanted to move past my last post a little!

Tomorrow in the early morning, I'll be walking with my friend, Manager Kimi at the lovely Seward Park. I will be taking my camera along so I can post tomorrow night and show all of you who aren't familiar with Seattle how gorgeous it is.

Now, of course, the weather has shifted a tad from the hot sunny days we had early this week. The cloud cover is back, and it's a bit dampish. But, hey! That's why we have such greenery, right? I think it's also why we have so many birds - all that dampness encourages worms and so on.

Andrew is at his mom's for the whole weekend. From yesterday through Monday afternoon. He's called both days and I'm not sure how he's doing. He can be a bit dramatic. But those of you who pray, I'd appreciate it if you'd pray along with me in this. We love that little guy, and really want what's best for him.

Meanwhile, Kobi's ninth birthday was Thursday, and I'm taking him and a few friends (his and mine!) to see Up. I've heard terrific things about it, and it'll be nice to have a little diversion during this seven day no TV thing. She didn't say I couldn't do movies.

Kris and Kami are moving him into what will be their new apartment in McMinville, Oregon this weekend. Kami goes back to Colorado with her mom next week to do the final wedding prep. All this change is coming down fast and furious!

Where'd I put that trash bag??

Scripture for the day/week/month/year/rest of my life:

" Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Philippians 4:11-13 esv

Well, obviously, I haven't learned to be completely content, but I remember where contentment lies. I'm working on that. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me".

Much love my faithful readers and friends.

Note: sorry about the funky formatting. After I changed it for the scripture quote, I couldn't get it off italics. Argh. Oh well!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Feeling like a Lumberjack

In Matthew chapter 7 verses 1 through 5, Jesus says:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. ESV

I have to say that this passage has been popping into my head a lot lately. I've been working on what originally was to be a memoir, but may be morphing into a series of essays on my perspective of life - kind of reflections on what I think I'm learning and where I've been.

As I'm considering and praying about what I'd like to say, God is showing me some more opportunities for growth (as we Christians like to say). One specific place is in my judgmental heart. Christians tend to bristle and get a little defensive when people say we are hypocrites and judgmental. But see above? Jesus was calling the religious folks of the day hypocrites. And this teaching is preserved in our Bible for those of us who care to hear today. Since I am a follower of Christ - albeit a lame one - that means this message is for me. I really do want to honor Jesus and walk well, so that means I should be listening up here.

I digress. The specific place I'm feeling like a log-toting hypocrite has to do with two of my sons: Kameron and Kristopher.

Kristopher is my first-born. He is now twenty-two, totally gorgeous (I can say that, it's true), and getting married next month. He is an amazing young man, and it blows me away to think I somehow (with a GREAT deal of God's grace poured out on us) raised this guy.

Kameron, as you may know, is one of my unholy terrors. He is one of three little boys I have at home right now. Andrew, the youngest, is a foster son, and due to return to his mom soon. Kameron is nine, and Kobi is nine (today). They are my adopted sons. I've had Kam since he was a year old and on a ventilator. He was born three months early.

Now, at this point in the story, I usually make sure to mention that Kam was born three months early because his biological (what a clinical word) mother was smoking crack on New Year's Day 2000, and Kam came too soon. He was born with a lot of problems, not the least of which was a massive brain hemorrhage and horribly under-developed lungs. The mom was found unfit and the rest is a story for another day.

Okay, here's the log part. When I was pregnant with Kristopher, I was a different person. I in fact, used a variety of street drugs, including crack. All this while working in a stock brokerage firm as licensed assistant to several Vice Presidents. Kind of a double-life. Now, to my credit (if you can call it that), while I was carrying Kris, I backed off drugs, mostly. And I mostly didn't drink. Mostly. Except of course for the little celebrating I did on New Years Day 1987. Crack and Champagne. Kris was born two days later, almost three weeks early, and thankfully, he was okay.

The parallel God's been gently reminding me of though, is that in the eight years I've had Kameron, I've harbored a hugely judgmental, critical, holier-than-though attitude toward his mom.

For this I am sincerely sorry. I don't know any of the circumstances of her life, and really, they don't excuse the choices she made. But, obviously, my choices were pretty wrong and horrible, too. It is only by the grace and mercy of God that my son was spared any catastrophic consequences from my - let's call it like it is - sin. For me to constantly put her down and bring up her failure again and again is wrong.

I also need to ask forgiveness of my son for risking his life when I was carrying him; and God's for my hypocrisy.

Alright folks. This is probably enough honesty for today.

Much love, and thanks as always for reading.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Jesus liked to repeat things. I think it was one of His ways of making sure we peeps down here would possibly, hopefully get the messages He was trying to get out. Kind of like we have to do with teenagers. And toddlers. And old folks. Heck, I need to hear things a million times, too. Guess it's just a people thing in general.

So, when Jesus says something a bunch of times, that is supposed to be our clue to pay attention. One of the things He said many times was, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." It was kind of a tag line at the end of some parables.

I talk a lot in this blog about the stuff in my life, the processes God seems to be guiding me through to help me make some sense of my heart, my head, and my relationship to Him. We've had a bumpy ride, He and I. He's been faithful, I've been running ahead; He's been patient, I want results and I want them NOW; He's been tender, I turn my back and pout. It pains me to admit this stuff, but it's where I'm at - it's like I'm holding Him off at arm's length while wanting Him to never leave.

The "why" part, I don't know. And by that I mean why I'm holding Him off. Maybe I never will. Maybe I just need to keep inching closer and closer to Him until the reasons for my hurt and anger are all just melted away in the heat of His glory, and my frozen heart is again soft and vulnerable in His Hands.

At any rate, I'm feeling like He's stirring all around me and in me and patiently, graciously, waiting for me to once again be open to Him and to all He has waiting for me - which is all of Him.

To come away from all the distractions and cares of this world, and to hear Him. To have ears to hear.

Much love, and thank you for reading.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Well, I think I put my foot in it today. Tuesday morning is Therapist Lisa time. Today, I went with no agenda in mind, just open to what ever God and TL had for me. Big Mistake. Huge.

Somewhere in the convo, I let it slip that one of the things I use as a major distraction is TV. Like enough hours every night that I wouldn't tell her how many. Darn it. Me and my big mouth.

Of course the first thing she does is challenge me to keep it off, yes OFF, for the next seven days. Whoa there! Seven days, cold turkey? I don't think she realizes what she's asking. No television at all? Can't we just taper down or something? I don't know if I can fall asleep in a quiet room.

What will I do with the empty hours? More importantly, what will The Mentalist and So You Think You Can Dance, and NCIS do without me??? Besides, I just discovered Burn Notice and In Plain Sight...


Well, we'll see what transpires. I do have a to be read pile that's about two feet thick. And, I am supposed to be writing...and Therapist Lisa says that going to therapy and then going home and spending all that time watching TV is completely counter-productive. More of that distracting avoiding behavior. Blah Blah.

Good thing I didn't mention Mafia Wars.