Friday, October 24, 2008

Life's Laundry List

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11 . Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry
13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will. Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.


I feel Unamerican in saying this... but I am so darn tired of all the political ads and all the finger pointing that the various candidates employ to make their point. It is all so negative and seems very immature. The only bright spot in this whole thing is Saturday Night Live!!
I wonder if these TV ads make a difference in how someone actually votes. How do we sort through the "he said/she said" of the accusitory campaigns?
This all seems to bring out the worst in folks. In reading some of the blogs lately, there is so much bickering and name calling. Jim says, "Crazy Times".
I don't see myself as very politically astute; but I have wondered lately if I should run for some local office...... My experience of running a household, being a wife, a mom, managing our finances, raising successful children, and having a somewhat annoying ability to say what's on my mind.......generally being "Queen of the Hill" up here, all qualify me to hold office and have a say in governing something out there!! I think I could do this as well as anyone else I've listened to on the TV commercials. Jim thinks that the fact that I leave my dirty clothes on the floor negates my qualifications; I don't. A willing political intern can pick them up for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jana's Unfortunate Boring Blog

I was hoping that my adventure in blogville would hit a large vein of creativity and I would be on Dave Olivera's list of favorites in his Huckleberries blog. My goal was to be cited there; as all the blogs I follow are somehow connected to that one; the Mother-of-All-Blogs......

I have realised, however, that I do not have fascinating or inspiring tales, am not politically profound, and do not have persuasive opinions on, or arguments to, any of the day's burning issues. So much for aspirations of Huckleberry Fame. I will continue to write as my mind drifts, and record our simple days and travels, and rejoice in the fact that we can live as we do. There is no more important record than that of our family and friends, our simple joys and sorrows, our somewhat boring day to day lives.

We have so much, and it is easy to lose track of that, with all the fabulous blogging on exotic travels and high living. We are busy with life....our life..... and I figure it is as important as any others. So, I will persist, and perhaps at some point have a flash of brilliance or a profound thought. I just hope Dave Olivera is listening.....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Methow River Trip - Jim

We were on the Methow for the weekend. Beautiful weather, great fishing, fall colors all around. The nights were cold, but since I ended up in bed by eight PM, who cares!! Watching Bo cast that Spey rod is a treat. He is truly a master. We have so many wonderful fishing/camping areas so close by- in all directions- I hope there is enough time in this life to see most of 'em. Next trip will be to the Grand Ronde.... my favorite.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Moose on the Loose

Woke up to Mom and Baby moose trimming the rose bushes in the neighbors yard today. Gives new meaning to "the last rose of summer". They're all gone now!! Off they went, in search of other goodies. The moose rule up here.... really rule. Stay out of their way, they come and go as they please, and can be mean. They are such a treat, though, and provide tons of photo-ops!! Something about them is so intriguing; size, strength, power, and the fact that they are so homely..... it's all part of why this is such a great place to live.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pendleton Roundup 2008

We look forward to Roundup every September, I wouldn't miss it. The Rodeo is the best, the Native American Pagentry, and the Main Street HooRah all create a feeling of time turned back 100 years. We take hundreds of photos, then spend aall winter reliving the events, looking forward to the next year.

Email Family

As I said earlier, I am really lousy at keeping in touch; I hate talking on the phone, can never sit long enough to write letters, and never can find stamps. So Email is my best option for keeping in touch with my family and friends. Unfortunately, my email box fills up with spam so I only look about once a week. But, today was a goldmine!! There were notes from three of our grown kids with pictures, and a wonderful piece that my brilliant granddaughter, Danielle, in Gig Harbor has written to present at her Debate competitions. I'll try to put it in here for all to see. I now have a new snapshot of Lisa and her boys at a Cleveland Indians game, and a nice picture of Baby Caleb on the Floating Boardwalk on Lake Coeur d'Alene. It seems that the more mobile our society has become, the more we need to rely on the technology to maintain the perception of the extended family unit.

When I was six years old, living with my parents and brother in an upstairs flat on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York, my grandparents lived downstairs. We were all close... just a shout away...and I remember life being simple and unfettered by gadgets. Everyone I cared about was right there, no need for gadgets then.

I guess the gadgets allow me the privilege of being "a shout away" from the kids and the grand kids, from my brother and his family, from Nephew Brandon (the family clown), and even from my oldest- in duration not age- friend Susie Speyer, who, like me, left the simpler days of Delaware Avenue for San Francisco.... thanks to this email gadget, we can still play together.

Daniell's DI

This is the draft of Danielle’s dramatic interpretation (DI) that she will perform in front of judges and students at school debate tournaments. Basically it’s a book that she has condensed down to an eight minute monologue / performance. She’ll have to recite the whole thing from memory dozens of times throughout the next debate cycle. She is so awesome. I’m so proud.
WARNING: keep a box of tissues handy. If you’re anything like me, and I know I am…

How I got to this point, how we all did-Lorne and Sam and me-began three years earlier, on April 18, 2002. There is no hyperbole intended when I say that was the worst day of my life. Had you asked me the day before, I would have told you that I was one of the happiest people I knew. With my eight-year-old son Sam and my five- year-old daughter Grace, they would climb into Sam’s bunk beds at night. Sam on top, Grace on the bottom, and we sang Beatles songs until they fell asleep. That’s what we did one April night…Forty-eight hours later, Grace was dead.

A friend of mine with a chronically ill child once told me that a hospital’s walls are lined with mothers’ screams. Mine began there, in that ER. There is a room off the pediatric ICU where families wait for news. A chaplain came to us there, Then a social worker. I knew that they were the staff in the hospital who prepared families for death. I could not stay there. Instead, I kept running through the automatic double doors to the doorway of the trauma room where Gracie lay vulnerable on a gurney, as people worked on her hour after hour. Eventually, I lay down right there, in that doorway. A nurse found a chair for me and pushed it into the corner of the trauma room and ordered me to keep quiet. As she lay in the ICU, the nurses told us to bring in some of her favorite music. My husband ran out to the car and grabbed 1 from the tape deck. Then he put it in the hospital’s tape deck, and we climbed on the bed with our daughter and sang her “Love Me Do.” Despite the tubes and machines struggling to keep her alive, Grace smiled at us as we sang to her.

(At one point a doctor looked at me and said, “This is going to be the longest night of your life.” So many times after Grace died I have wanted to call that doctor to tell her that she was wrong. In fact, that was only the first of months and months of long, endless nights, gripped by fear and grief. Nights that seemed endless. Nights that only led to mornings without Grace there.) Suddenly, I woke up to blaring lights and foot-steps racing into the room and shouts. I jumped from my chair, stumbling. “What’s gong on?” A nurse met my eyes. “We’re losing Grace.” She said. Then the doctor yelled for someone to get the mother out of here. The mother…Me. I found my husband and the two of us watched helplessly from behind a pane of glass. Over the intercom a voice called for a cardiologist. “Grace Adrain is in cardiac arrest,” the voice crackled calmly. I beat that pane with my fists. I screamed, “Gracie! Gracie! Gracie!” so loud that my throat remained dry for days afterward. A day and a half after I carried her into the ER, Grace died. At her memorial service, Sam stood in front of the hundreds of people and sang “Eight Days a Week” loud enough for his sister, wherever she had gone, to hear him.

If watching your child die is a parent’s worst nightmare, imagine having to tell your other child that his sister is dead. Although I am certain that he cried, that we all cried, what I remember more is how we collapsed into each other, as if the weight of our loss literally crushed us.

We had to find a plot for her. We had to make decisions in the days after she died, when I could still not believe that she had died. Who could believe it? Five years old. Beautiful and funny, and smart. And healthy. People came with questions that needed answers: What music did we want played at the service? What facts did we want in the newspaper? Did we want a viewing? Could we send clothes to the funeral home? Which Bible verses did we want read? Who would read them? Did we want a party of some kind afterward? Where did we want to bury our five-year-old daughter? “Here.” My husband said, and he drove me to that beautiful cemetery where a few weeks earlier he had taken Grace and Sam bike riding along its graceful, curving pathways beneath just-flowering dogwoods. That is me the last afternoon I went there on my own: warm sun, the smell of dirt and flowers and heat. That is me, stepping from my car, walking on wobbly legs toward the spot that we chose. It is a blanket of dewy grass, freshly dug, freshly covered. That is me, the woman who is throwing herself on that spot, flinging her body down, and clawing at it, weeping. Dirt under my nails, grass in my mouth, hair wet with tears. That is me, vowing never to go back alone.

Grief is not linear. People kept telling me that once this happened or that passed, everything would be better. Some people gave me one year to grieve. They see grief as a straight line, with a beginning, middle, and end. But it is not linear. It is disjointed. One day you are acting almost like a normal person. You maybe even manage to take a shower. Your clothes match. You think the autumn leaves look pretty, or enjoy the sound of snow crunching under your feet. Then a song, a glimpse of something, or maybe even nothing sends you back into the hole of grief. It is not one step forward, two steps back. It is a jumble. It is hours that are all right, and weeks that aren’t. Or it is good days and bad days. Or it is the weight of sadness making you look different to others and nothing helps.

Time passes and I am still not through it. Grief isn’t something you get over. You live with it. You go on with it lodged in you. Sometimes I feel like I have swallowed a pile of stones. Grief makes me heavy. It makes me slow. Even on days when I laugh a lot, or dance, or finish a project, or meet a deadline, or celebrate, it is there; Lodged deep inside of me.

(Grace was born the Year of the Rat. Those born in the Year of he Rat are sharp-witted and funny. They are charming too, and considered good luck.)

It was exactly two years after Grace had died. It was summer that my husband and I camped out together on a beach in Maine and he said, “I have the craziest idea.” “So do I,” I told him. “Let’s have another baby,” I said. And he said yes. Then we cried. Not a baby to replace Grace. Losing her had made it clear that she was, indeed, irreplaceable. But a baby to bring us joy again. To fill the long, sad hours when Lorne was a work and Sam was at school and I was left alone with my grief. Once we began researching our possibilities, something settled in me. Somehow, adoption felt like the absolute right path for us. After talking to friends, and friends of friends, about their experiences adopting, we decided to adopt a baby girl form China . It is hard to explain how, in the midst of such overwhelming loss, I somehow knew that finally there was hope waiting for us again. Even knowing this was restorative after feeling so hopeless for so long.

The call we waited almost a year for came on a rainy January morning. I was in Boston , comforting my lovesick cousin, when my cell phone started to ring. For the first time in almost three years, something like joy was creeping at the edges of my heart. I started to cry. “I’m looking at the picture of your daughter,” Stephanie said. “She’s adorable. And she looks really healthy.” And then Stephanie said:
“Her birthday is April 18.”
“Oh no.”
“Is there a problem?” Stephanie asked.

Lorne and I had enlisted the opinions of both Sam and Lorne’s fifteen-year-old daughter Ariane in the selection of the baby’s name. Somehow we had come up with Mamie when Sam asked why we couldn’t use Grace’s middle name, Annabelle. “It’s the prettiest name in the world,” he added. A name to honor Grace, a name we all loved. I looked at that face looking back at me and saw that she was indeed, Annabelle.

We will never know Annabelle’s story. We only know this: the date they gave her as her birthday-determined by the age they guessed her to be on September 6, 2004; chosen as an even number because even numbers are lucky-that birthday, is April 18, the same day that Grace died. Annabelle, like me, was born the Year of the Monkey. Monkeys are intelligent and are known to have a great sense of humor. Monkeys and rats are said to be the best of friends.

I have had five Mother’s Day’s without Grace now. And on each subsequent one, I think of her. And I think about this woman I will never know. I, of course, thank her, and praise her strength in doing this seemingly impossible thing: giving her daughter to me. She will never know that I have her daughter because I lost Grace. She will never know the road I traveled to get her. This Mother’s Day, I lay in bed feeling that strange mixture of grief and joy. Down the hall, I hear Annabelle’s high, squeaky voice and Lorne’s lower one. I picture Grace in her smudged glasses, her tangled hair, her wry smile. I feel tears building in my eyes, even as I hear Lorne and Annabelle’s futile efforts to make Sam wake up. Then there are footsteps, and Annabelle is at the side of the bed, clutching a pink rose.
“Happy Mother’s Day,” she says, grinning.
Annabelle lifts her arms to me and I pick her up.
“Mama,” she whispers.
“Daughter,” I whisper back.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Entering Blogville

It seems like the right time to join the blogging community and record the "life and times" of our family, and have a forum for our thoughts and opinions..... as if anyone really cares!!

I think, though, that this could be a place where friends and family can peak in on us from time to time, and hopefully be more of a part of our lives. Perhaps, I am creating this as a guilt offering.... I am so bad at phone calls and letter writing.

This will also be a place where I can comment, rant, and vent on issues of the day; and throw it out there in Cyberspace, thus preventing the physical and emotional trauma that is caused by internalizing the fear and trepidation caused by reading the daily news or checking out at the grocery store.

So, with that being said, I look forward to dialog with all!