Monday, July 18, 2016

Need More Books

Public message for anyone who likes to fuel my eldest's voracious appetite for literature...I think we can skip the abridged versions of...anything. Tonight at bedtime Cadence turned to me and said:

"Mom, I read three books today. Oliver Twist, Moby Dick, and The Odessey."

...and she also had a ukulele lesson, made cookies from scratch with Hazel (and used the oven solo for the first time), rode her bike to the playground with her sisters, ran errands with James, and learned how to play super mario bros.wii.

At this rate, we're just going to need to reserve her a library of her very own.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

We are not our bodies, by Hazel

"Mom, sometimes I feel like...I don't really know how to explain it. It's like, it's my body, but it's not wow, I can move these arms and this body, but I am not my body. Like maybe there is one molecule inside that is actually me, and the rest is I can control it, but that one molecule that's me is surprised and doesn't know how it's doing it, because it's like...operating it. and sometimes It's like, my body is here but I'm over there looking at it."

-Hazel Rose, age 6.

I can't describe how much I love this kid.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Happy birthday, Dad!!

My dad has always been an adventurer, and that hasn't changed. Today he is celebrating his birthday off on another wonderful adventure, spending some time at the YMAA retreat center in the mountains of Northern California where cell reception is spotty enough to encourage unplugging.

I may not have been able to call to wish you a happy birthday, but I have birthday gifts for you here...(and still have a couple letters the kids wrote and your Father's Day stuff...clearly making it to the post office is not one of my strong suits). But in the meantime, I thought you might like to see some of the pictures I found in our old photo box!

Dad, Al, Mom, Me...I have no idea where this was or what that box of "pink peppermint" is.

Sandy, Al, Dad...I kinda like how the water looks like a view coming off the hat!!

The back of this says "Scott and Al surfing the San Juan"

Dad with his Grandma Rosie - who never did like having her picture taken...

Molly, Dad, Me, Grandma Carol, Meghan
Happy birthday, dad. I love you!!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

One degree of separation...

I have been waiting for an opportune moment to share this; but I am realizing there will never be one. This world is crazy and fractured, and we have the power to hold each other up or tear each other down...

This documentary hits hard for me. I know it is long for our usual western media attention spans, but these stories are important and so worth the listen.

It starts out in the port of Pireaus, which is where my own journey working with refugees in Greece began, and ventures through many other places (some of which I also visited) and ends with a discussion with siblings Ali and Wisam - friends of mine, that I met in the refugee camp at Idomeni, along the Macedonian border. 

When I met them, they graciously invited me into their home for a drink. I was so honored to be welcomed in, and so impressed with how they had managed to build such an impressively functional community space with so little - and I really do mean build...they had branches and wooden structures to create gates and other sufficiently home-like amenities out of repurposed was pretty cool, even if it was born of necessity. It would have been even cooler if that was just a sweet hangout, and not the home they were stuck dealing with...but Ali said something to me as we talked around the fire that really stuck with me:

We were talking about whether or not it was a good idea to get on one of the buses taking people to new camps, where there could potentially be better conditions and an opportunity to get paperwork through to begin the relocation process. His point was that the people stuck in Idomeni -most of whom had been there for weeks or months - had no reason to trust the authorities (true, misinformation was rampant enouh to be considered the norm), and since no one could even tell them which bus was taking who where (also true, I think because they didn't want to have people start fighting about who went there the drivers were not allowed to tell anyone where they were taking their passengers...I'd be pretty creeped out by that, too!), why on earth would they want to take the risk, when "at least here, we have our family and our friends, we've built a community that we can trust and rely on...why would we ever want to give that up?"

The conditions may have been bad, but they had the human connections that make life worth living there, and that would always matter more than having a slightly nicer tent even farther away from their desired destinations.

Take a listen, and if just hearing the stories of unknown individuals is too abstract for you, maybe the fact that, through me, there is only a single degree of separation between you and the very real, very kind, hardworking and intelligent people who are living through this hell will help you to feel the connection.
The only picture I have of Ali and I, along with our friend Christina...the polaroid was part of a project she was working on.
ADDENDUM:  I am not going to mention their current locations in order to protect their safety, but Ali and Wisam have since been separated, and are still working to reunite their family.  The situation is awful, there is a very real potential for them to be prevented from bringing the two separated groups of their family together for at least five years, and the saddest part is that their story is anything but unique in this regard. There has to be a better way to help families escaping crisis than tossing them into a bureaucratic nightmare where they are objectified and left stuck, no way forward and nowhere to go back.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

My Daughter Is Nine Years Old Today...Cadence, Take it Away...

Dear Cadie Lady what to say to you?
You have your father's eyes,
You have my mother's name,

When you came into the world, you cried
and it broke my heart

I’m dedicating every day to you
Domestic life was never quite my style
When you smile, you knock me out, I fall apart
And I thought I was so smart

 You'll come of age with our HEALED nation,
We’ll bleed and fight for you,
We’ll make it right for you
If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you,
we’ll give the world to you
And you’ll blow us all away…
Someday, someday
Yeah, you’ll blow us all away
Someday, someday

 Oh Cadence, when you smile I am undone
Look at my SUN.
Pride is not the word I’m looking for
 There is so much more inside me now
Oh Cadence, you outshine the morning sun
My sun
When you smile, I fall apart
And I thought I was so smart 

Our nations hearts have been blind...

I swear I'll open my eyes for you

 I’ll do whatever it takes

 I’ll make a million mistakes

 I’ll make the world safe and sound for you…
…will come of age with our HEALED nation
We’ll bleed and fight for you,
we’ll make it right for you
 If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you,
we’ll give the world to you
And you’ll blow us all away...
Someday, someday
Yeah, you’ll blow us all away
Someday, someday

Watch out world, she will be enough!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A touch of mom-time, thanks to modern tech.

Me and my Mama, before e-mail was even a thing.
Around the time that I lost my mother to the evil that is cancer, about 2 and a half years ago, I stopped being able to function on a simple level. It was like motor skills...I'd lost my fine motor but could still haul myself through the gross movements...anyway, I kept myself and my family going but some of the finer points of being functional were all but absent. 

Like dealing with email. 

I used to have a pristine inbox that was never overrun. If I had 45 unread messages I felt so far behind it wasn't even funny; and I paid each bill the moment it hit my screen, replied to each message as soon as I was able... I remember seeing a friend's inbox screen once and she had over 300 unread messages and my heart sank for seemed like an impossibility to function with that many unread, unaddressed conversations in there. 

But after we said goodbye to my mother, I just...couldn't. Mortified, I watched as my inbox filled up with the messages I was usually able to filter and delete or address with relative ease in no time. They began to pile up. Pretty soon the number was in the hundreds, and I thought, I can deal with this once I'm through this fog, it is ok. 

The number rose. I still tried to grab the relevant ones where I could and not loose anything important in the hubub, but even that is a skill that took time to figure out. Meanwhile, the number kept rising.

Once my inbox had over 1,000 unread messages, I admitted that it was a part of grief. 

Once the fifth digit entered the picture, I reconfigured my inbox in order to cope with the influx. This had the dual purpose of making it easier to find those important messages in the mess as well as hiding so many of the unaddressed messages in side categories; "promotions", "social", "forums"...and the number suddenly only reflected the number in that particular category and gave me a false sense of "it's not thaaat bad..." even though each category was in the thousands, at least. 

I decided that my mother's day gift to myself this year was going to be reclaiming control of my inbox. A seemingly silly little thing that has massive psychological implications for me personally...I was going to reclaim control over this small part of my life that is such a big, important tool in my daily operations. 

Occasionally, I'd stop and think; I have to get this under control!! but I could never work fast enough to get ahead. I even considered abandoning the account and starting fresh; but that was never a smart idea and even in the midst of my overwhelm I knew it. 

The numbers just kept rising. And I just kept mitigating the disaster. Rise and deal. Rise, and deal. 

Yesterday, though, for whatever reason, I started to clean it out. The total number of unaddressed messages had risen into the six figure range by this point...yes, we are in fact talking about hundreds of thousands of unaddressed messages dating back two and a half was horrifying. (...and made me mentally apologize to my friend for having silently judged her mere hundreds...) 

This time, however, I discovered that Google had added a bulk selection option...a new feature that I hadn't encountered before...and for whatever reason, it gave me the shove I needed to be able to dig myself out from all of that. All the store promotions, all the facebook notifications, all the homeschooling listserve messages I never quite got too...gone, in an instant. And suddenly, I had the motivation. Search, select, delete, search, weed out the relevant bits, toss out the rest... 

So I spent all weekend on this project. Search, keep the few that I need, dump the rest...over and over and over, for two days. I took breaks to enjoy my family, James made Jiaozi and the kids helped him make a big chicken dinner...I sat with the cats and I deleted and addressed and deleted and addressed...and I did it. After two days of ruthless culling, I have finally whittled down my inbox to a mere 19 messages. Most of those are articles that James has shared with me over the years that I'd still like to read, a couple are from friends that need to be responded to, and one is there to remind me to vote in the current elections for the actor's union.That much, I can handle. 

So maybe the kids forgot it was mother's day this year until James stopped a fight by reminding them about it (and then they all piled onto my back with giggly vigor), and maybe I spent my whole mother's day in front of the screen while the kids rode bikes and scooters outside, and maybe we didn't prepare for our impending trip as we probably should have, but gosh darnit....last night I dreamed so vividly of my mom being around again, and it was so wonderful to see her, and spend time with her...and today I have that memory, and I have my inbox back. 

 And really, that's the main reason I care...because I know my mom would be proud of me for doing that. As much as I know she loved me unconditionally, I also know that I never met her standards for housekeeping or organizing my even though this is a kind of silly, stupid way to spend the holiday, for me, ignoring the holiday almost entirely and getting this major task accomplished was the perfect way to kinda spend it with my mom. 

Thanks for helping me clean up that mess, mama. I miss you so much, and I love you more than I can ever say. 

Happy mother's day. 

PS-don't worry about me not celebrating for myself...We are taking the kids on a special vacation after their uncle's wedding next week...there will be more festivities than we can handle, and I'll get my major fix of kid magic and smiles in there. I'm ok sitting this one out.

Plus, the 4H club project this week was to make mama wellness tea as gifts, so I had that, and our kiddos got completely smitten with the world of the vitamix, so they got us one as a combined mothers and fathers day gift. There will be ALL THE SMOOTHIES. I'd make one for you right now if I could. 

I hope you know how much these kids love you. They talk about you all the time, and often cry because they miss you.  And they each have things they hold sacred because they remind them of you...and they take pride when they realize that something about their being is akin to you. 

You may be gone physically, but you are so, so, SO not forgotten, but are loved and included every damn day. 

I miss you. 
and love you.  
and will take the chain from off that door, anytime. 
 Katie Rose

Monday, April 25, 2016

Elliniko Van Update!!!

Thank you to absolutely everyone who saw our call to action  and helped however you could, whether it was a monetary donation or simply helping to spread the word...Today I received this very very happy update from the members of Allied Aid.

You guys, I love you all.  As I said on TheFaceBook:  I am SO PROUD of you amazing and wonderful people; who dove into this head on...and triumphed hardcore.

These folks restore my hope for the future...

Love, Respect, Solidarity.