Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fireflies Are Magic, aren't they?

The other day I got up early to work in the bakery.  Brushed off flour and dashed over to the highschool to take care of T's final IEP.  Got back to the bakery, worked, then ran to the middle school, right when we closed, to Rose's middle school awards assembly.  We slipped out after seeing her recieve her awards, drove back to the house to assemble picnic items, grabbed birthday cake and hula hoops and drove east to Marathon.

It was R's birthday and we wanted to celebrate him at the Post park.  Nestled in the foothills is a little oasis, a dammed up creek, picnic tables, grass and great big trees.  Freshly milled, whole grain breads, all the good sandwich makings, a spice cake, dogs and water and inner tubes. 

Once kids had their fill of cold water, we sat down to a feast.  Imagine our delight when the firelies began to sparkle around the edge of the creek! 

After such a busy, hectic day, I felt peace settle around us, as if the fireflies had sprinkled us with magic fairy dust.  I wish everyone would take the time out of a crazy week to pause in a beautiful spot to eat with loved ones.  It is very good medicine.  Sure am glad R had a birthday to give us such a great excuse!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

700 Posts?!?!

After I hit the publish button for the last post, I noticed on the sidebar that I have published 700 posts and 20 drafts that never made it into posts.

For some reason, that kind of makes me happy.

Going Back to Move Forward

We have been running a marathon here in Alpine.  What with end of school activities for five kids, running a bakery, managing a property in Virginia, working on getting financing for our home here in Texas, graduation, college plans, etc, etc, I have been setting aside the non-essentials.

Blogging would have to be considered a non-essential.

So I feel rusty and a bit blocked up.  Bear with me, and maybe if I can get back in to the practice, things won't be so choppy.  I admire those of you who edit!!! 

We are heading to Mom and Daddy's tomorrow, HOPEFULLY, and after a couple of days there, the truck should drive east toward my sister's and then to Virginia.  It is time to empty out the attic and the rest of the bookshelves.  We plan on taking the farm off the market to lease out for a couple of years.  We all eagerly anticipate spending time with our VA friends.  And I begin to pray for us all, especially the kids, as I remember how much pain I felt back in January upon stepping foot on the farm.  I hope it won't be more than the kids can bear. 

But in the meantime, road trip, here we come. 

How Can My Little Boy be a Graduate?

On June 1st, Thomas graduated from Alpine High School. 

My mom and dad and sister came to watch him receive his diploma.  Christine asked me if I was happy.

At the moment, there were so many emotions, I elected to not fully feel, since it would have been rather embarrassing to fall apart in the event center.  I was proud, and happy, yes, but so much more.

That night, R and I sat down at the table and I began to cry as he held my hand.  I wept as I told him I wanted to have Thomas be 5 years old again, coming up to me to tell me he loved me and wanted to marry me.  I told him I wished I could have him be little and come climb in my lap for stories.  I sobbed as I let my little boy go, knowing that this rite of passage meant that life as we knew it would not ever be the same.

And with all of that, I was proud, and so full of gratitude, my heart wanted to burst. 

The night before graduation we invited some of our friends over for a cookout.  Mostly friends from our little Episcopal church.  These dear people, kids up to 80 something year old, all joined us for burgers because they love Thomas.  They have been willing to allow Thomas to be himself.  When he got overloaded with all the noise and had to retreat to a corner, unable to talk to anyone, no one was offended. 

We have some amazing folks who have been there for this kid.  And over the years, it has been a joy to see how Thomas has been there for other people.  Like the way he always got his history teacher's jokes.  Like the way he would play peek a boo with our little friend Mec.  The way he would get in the kitchen and chop and cook up the most amazing ramen noodles.  With celery and onions and garlic and mushrooms and cabbage!

I still don't know quite what to do with the idea that Thomas has ended one chapter and is beginning another.  Today we drove to Roswell, NM, to continue getting him ready for the Occupational Services program at ENMU.  It starts in August.  He wished to train in the Food Services dept.  We also met with the orthodontist.   

I guess I have too many other things to worry about, so I s'pose I will choose to be proud and happy for the moment, and when a safe opportunity comes, I will probably have a great big cry. 

I Always Knew He Loved Me, but a Reminder is Pretty Nice! Or "Apricots"

This spring we noticed a smallish tree in the backyard had blooms.  We assumed it was an ornamental.  Pretty, but no substance.

As temperatures rose, we noticed small green balls hanging from the branches of this little tree next to the gazebo.  Not peaches.  Not apples or pears. 

What could they be?

A couple of weeks ago the little fruits began to blush.  A rosy blush like the afternoon sunset.  A sweet little blush, warm and orange.  We took a nibble of the unripe fruit and made our discovery.


I have always wished for an apricot tree. 

For Thomas's graduation party I made fresh apricot tarts, with our favorite french recipe.  (Thanks, Mom for pitting and halving!)  We have eaten them fresh, right of the tree.  We have discovered that we sure do like the ones that are almost ripe, but not quite, because they are like sweet tarts.

The plan is to pick them all tomorrow and take them with us to Mom and Daddy's.  I will make jam and apricot jalapeno jelly.  Mom will hopefully make apricot fried pies.  Have I ever told you about apricot fried pies?  Shucks.  Guess the diet will start AFTER the apricot fried pies. 

Thank you, God for apricots!  And for the Turners, for planting that tree all those years ago.  I feel loved!

Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

I have worshiped God this weekend. (Last weekend of May)

It is fairly easy for me to worship the creator on a regular basis, as I watch the changing seasons, enjoy grandeur of our local scenery, and as I see grace poured out in my life every single day.

However, there are certain moments that are life-changing that propel me to deep in my bones worship, and being a part of Special Olympics this weekend would definitely fit that category.

Last fall, one of Thomas's special ed. teachers began to promote Special Olympics.  She rounded up several volunteers, other parents, kids from the local University.  She organized the fundraisers and practices.  She advertised.  This is a very busy single mom, full-time teacher with a special needs daughter of her own.  She is working toward graduation of her daughter, just like a lot of us other parents in town.  I can't imagine how she managed, but she pulled it off.  Thomas and his team went to the district Special Olympics competition in Odessa and they came back with a big pile of gold and silver medals.  And an invitation to participate in the State Summer Special Olympics in Arlington, TX.  Along with over 3000 other special kids from all over the entire state of Texas. 

I took off work in the bakery on faith, trusting that somehow it was much more important to support Thomas and the rest of the team than to earn money through bread baking.  I took the kids out of school on Thursday, trusting that the education of Special Olympics would be more valuable than the school they would miss. 

It was mostly about Thomas, seeing as this is his Senior year and he may  not be living with us anymore, come August. 

We drove over 8 hours to get here. We checked into the hotel and ate pizza, got the schedule from the coach and and hit the pool. I think we began to get an inkling that this weekend might be bigger than us and Thomas when we pulled into the hotel parking lot and saw hundreds of special needs kids lining up to check into the Holiday Inn Express. With uniforms on and surrounded by patient coaches and friends. Early next morning we drove to University of Texas Arlington Stadium to cheer on Thomas in the prelims. The moist air surprised us and the wind blew the hair out of our face as we waited on the south side of the field for Thomas's leg of the relay. We happened to get there early, which was a blessing. Other teams lined up in position to race. We found ourselves staring down into a picture of joy, courage and true grit. Kids with various disabilities ran around the track and we cheered for these strangers , rejoicing as they ran, eyes gleaming, smiles shining, arms and legs and prosthesis pumping. All of a sudden I realized this was much bigger than Thomas. Bigger than Alpine high school. I know the kids got it too and in that moment it was obvious this was a lesson that would more than likely change our life. We yelled and cheered and jumped with joy and I remembered my Aunt Linda, Daddy's baby sister with Down's Syndrome. I rejoiced in her life and thought of  my Grandma Rowe who so patiently taught her and the profound influence they had on my life.

The day grew long, the sun grew hot, and I had to remind the kids that our big trip to Arlington was not about us having fun doing leisure activities.  The shade disappeared and volunteers continued to measure and time and athletes ran and leaped.  We returned to the hotel to shower and change and get back to the Stadium for Opening Ceremonies.

The music blared, the teams were announced, and they marched onto the field, group after group.  Some schools only had one or two students.  Others had dozens.  Before you know it, the stadium field was completely filled with a rainbow.  Thousands of athletes, volunteers and law enforcement officers, flags and banners, brightly colored t-shirts, dancing kids, smiling faces, thumbs up. 

At that moment, I was filled with awe.  I was in the presence of the kingdom of God.  The athletes were there to compete, in a safe environment.  They were cheered on by people who loved them.  They rejoiced in the ability to move their bodies.  First place, or last, they gave it their all. 

I hate to dash off these unedited notes because the event merits a well-written article.  I have so many thoughts banging around my head.  I wish to do it all justice, but if I wait for that moment, nothing will get written at all.  So, bravely I forge ahead, wishing to say that Special Olympics changed my life.  I am proud that I had the opportunity to cheer on those kids.  I am proud of Thomas running and winning silver medal in running long jump, a ribbon in the 200 yard dash and bronze in the 4oo yard relay.  I am proud of the many volunteers who gave of their time to love on our kids.  And to encourage them to go for it. 

I want to live my life a bit more like those kids.  Willing to risk a little, regardless of my limitations.  I want to aim for the gold, but not be paralyzed if bronze or a medal is as far as I might be able to reach.  I want to run my race with joy and exhilaration. 

There is more.  But I guess I  might as well hit the post button so this doesn't get buried with the many other partially written posts I never get back to!  It was a huge blessing to be a part of Texas Special Olympics Summer Games.  If you get a chance, spend some time with someone with special needs.  I bet you will learn something wonderful about them.  And I bet they will teach you a few lessons that will help you in your own life.