Friday, November 29, 2013


     I think there's no better way to end the Thanksgiving holiday than to remember two of the best ladies in my life, my Grandma and my Mother-in-law. They never got to know each other in life, but wherever it is the best of the best go after this life, I'm sure they're having coffee, comparing notes on their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They would have been two peas in a pod, and there would be laughter... and cookies. :)

     Grandma was the strongest woman I ever knew. She came up out of the Great Depression, married her one great love, and made it through some incredibly hard times... but she was also the kindest, warmest light in my life. No matter how chaotic or hard my home life may have been, once we rounded the corner into the farmyard and heard her hearty "Howdy do!", we were home.

      Her face would light up when we came tumbling into her, and her arms made everything bad go away. Every child should have that. As it was, I got to share her with my own daughter for all too short a time. We  lost her just as Steven was born, the day after we found out he would pull through and survive his early birth. Even though she never held him in those arms in life, I know in my heart she has carried him more than once when he needed her.

I wasn't amused?

Laura and her Gammy

    I worried Steven would miss the start in life Laura got with her "Gammy", since my own mother just wasn't  the type, but the minute my mother-in-law laid eyes on him, there it was. Vivian was just a smile come to  life. The first time I met her, she sat down and pulled a pair of shoes out of her purse, and we were friends from that moment on. 

You never knew what she might pull out of that handbag, heck, it was often a surprise to her! I'm pretty sure the kids thought it was magic, as if she might fall into Narnia if she dug too deep for things to occupy them in church.

She gave them the love I had from my own grandmother, along with some purse-raisins and a story. We all knew that under that veneer of Church Dignity, that twinkle in her eye was just a giggle waiting to escape.

I don't remember exactly what she said to crack everyone up, but it may have been a wee bit naughty.
She was full of surprises. :)

I'm not sure how I got so lucky to have had these wonderful women in my life to teach me, but if I'm ever blessed with grandchildren, they have my back.

Thankful doesn't even begin to cover it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Margaret Cho is in town, why we won't be spending our money on her.

It's no secret, I love stand-up. The Chick Magnet loves it too. :) Fargo has been bringing in some really great acts in recent years, and my Netflix queue is loaded with laughs. Our motto is, "Why cry when laughing is so much more fun?"

Margaret Cho is a gifted, talented performer. She shares the most painful aspects of her life in a way few can match.

So why, you ask, am I staying clear?

Sometimes you learn more about someone from a slip of the lip than their carefully-crafted words. I just can't get over her comments about having a "retard" baby.

Her words from an interview promoting her tour, called "Mother", stick in my heart. :

 "My period comes like twice a month. My eggs are jumping ship,” she said. “Seriously, they’re like, ‘the last one out’s a retard.”
“I get worried about that, as an older woman, I don’t necessarily want to have a retard,”.

No matter how she tried to explain her words away, there they are.

They sit in my heart like a rock.

She made apologies in her blog, but I can't really tell, in places, whether her words were meant more to salve the wounds of those she hurt... or her own.

Part of me understands the fears and wants to get past her words, but every time I look at my son and his friends I see the triumph more than the struggles. I see the joy and the gifts more clearly than the hurts.  I try to remember that Steven taught me to do that.  From the outside, it looks like an overwhelming, never-ending, climb. I get that.

To fear the unknown is natural. To demean and reject children with special needs because of that fear is heartbreaking.

Words can leave scars.

I'll leave you with both sets of words and let you think about them on your own.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Best Kind of Rash.

Did that get your attention? :)

It seems an outbreak of random acts of kindness has hit our area, and I hope to help it spread.

We went out for an early supper after Steven's adaptive bowling game last Saturday. We chose Famous Dave's, and settled in for some barbecue.

Steven loved his seat, since he could see alllll the ladies moving in and out of the kitchen to serve tables, and his whiplash even made the people at the next table crack up and cheer him on. It was hard to even hose off the sauce on his face, since it was a moving target.

I was content to make googly-eyes at the adorable baby with the family seated behind us. <3

Steven tends to be the party wherever he goes, but it was time to go... but our server approached our table empty-handed.

He said someone who wished to remain anonymous had already paid for our meal.  The look on Steven's face was priceless, and I'm sure I looked plenty surprised as well!  I think the server was enjoying it, teasing us a bit that they may or may not still be in the building, but they didn't want us to know. :)

I told him to make sure to thank them if they were, and tell them we appreciated it.  Not knowing who to thank is an odd feeling, but it sure does color one's perception. Since it could be ANYBODY, it makes you remember that we all have the potential to be kind and generous. It feels like a glimpse of how Steven seems to see the world, where everyone is his friend.

I like the way it looks from there. Was it the table enjoying his antics? The family behind us? Someone we didn't even interact with? I'll never know, but I appreciate them.

There's more!

I recently read a letter to the editor from a friend of mine about her own experience in Walmart:
By: Brenda Schmid, Fargo, INFORUM

To the kind man at Wal-Mart:
Sunday (Nov. 3), I was shopping at Wal-Mart on 52nd in Fargo with my daughter Hannah. When shopping with Hannah I push her in her wheelchair and pull a shopping cart behind us. We are a “small train.”
During our shopping outing, we were “huffed” at by a woman as she burned by us with her cart, obviously in a hurry; we were in her way. Rounding a corner with a truck-like turn we were greeted by another shopper. I apologized for taking up so much room. She responded with an eye roll as she backed up so we could make the turn.
Further down the aisle I said, “Excuse me” to a shopper as I shuffled Hannah and my cart to one side so she could pass. She passed without word or glance.
Hannah was unfazed by the shoppers’ behavior. She vocalized and smiled at all who passed by. You see, we tell Hannah the reason people stare is because she is beautiful and her smile is worth an extra glance, which is true.
I silently asked, “What is wrong with people? When did this world become cold and selfish?” Thankful my shopping list was short, I made my way to the express checkout lane, head high, pretending not to notice the stares. Most days these things roll off, but some days they hurt.
In line Hannah was greeted with a smile from the woman in front of us – finally a spark of humanity. Usually 20 items or less means express checkout. Not this day. The nice woman ahead of us was patient with the clerk who struggled with his till.
Then it was our turn. I placed my household necessities on the counter, reached for my purse and, BAM, the gentleman behind me swiped his credit card through the scanner. I thought he was confused, so I asked him what he was doing. He said he wanted to pay for my items. We had a conversation that consisted of “you don’t have to do that,” and his response, “I know. I want to.” I asked his name, but he shook his head. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. I introduced myself and rolled Hannah back to him and explained what he had done for us. She smiled a big “thank you.” I thanked him again for his kindness and generosity. (My merchandise cost more than $50.)
I said goodbye and wished him a blessed day. Tears rolled down my face as we walked to the van. How did he know I needed a dose of kindness? That’s the thing. You never know what others are going through. Maybe the shoppers I met that day had heavy hearts. We’ve all had bad days; no one is exempt. But not everyone gets to experience pure kindness like I did.
Some might conclude he did it because Hannah is in a wheelchair and he felt sorry for us. I’ve seen the “pity look,” and there was no pity in his face. I don’t know his name, but I know his heart. I wish he knew how he healed my heart that day.

One of Hannah's smiles would be a reward to treasure, that's for sure. <3

So thank you, whoever you are, and know how much you matter.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Stevenism of the day, on Skipping Holidays.

After Joe's appointment today, we decided to hit the mall for a while. Christmas had taken over, and when we made our way through the JC Penney, we noted clearance Halloween items and full-blown Christmas fever on display.

"Where's Thankgiving?" he asked.

I thought that was a very good question... but before I could say anything, Steven proudly announced "I guess I AM Thankgiving because I'm a TURKEY! GObblegobble..."

I couldn't argue with logic like that, so we gobblegobbled our way out of there. I have NO idea what people were staring at. :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Daddy's Boy.

Today would have been Jeff's 48th birthday. It's hard to imagine that 18 birthdays that have come and gone as the kids approach the age he was when he left this world.

As friends and family know, we had our struggles, but the one constant was his love for his children. His gift to all of us is the zest for life he passed down to his son. As Steven grows into a man, there are echoes of his father's voice, his smile, and that twinkle in his eye that tell us Jeff is never truly gone.

His proudest moments were Steven's birth, Laura's adoption, and the day he pulled into a friend's driveway and overheard their kids refer to him as "Laura and Steven's Daddy".

Happy birthday, Daddy.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


A lot of my friends on Facebook have been posting daily updates on what they're most thankful for. I have two parts of me who need a whole lot more. It seems a bit early to break out The  Peace on Earth Christmas Picture, but I had to. ;)

Steven and his co-conspirator, the object of his torment and his undying devotion, Laura, are the best things in my life. She's the one person in the world who has his back with the same passion I do, and he's her biggest fan next to me.

There were times I felt such pangs of guilt for shortchanging Laura of time and attention due to her brother's needs, but little moments will stick with me forever that gave me a glimpse into her mind and heart.

(Brace yourself, Laura... it's about to get cute and mushy...)

One afternoon, when Laura was about eight years old, she came out of her room nearly in tears. Before I could ask what was wrong, she blurted out "If I'm with Steven and a bad guy tries to take him, I'll tell him 'Take me and leave my brother alone!."

We both started to cry as I hugged her and wondered where that came from. Apparently, they had gotten a talk on stranger danger in school that week, and she had been mulling it over for a while.

That's the way she's always been. When she was even younger, barely over two, she showed her empathy. I had been watching a heartbreaking movie about a homeless mother who had to abandon her daughter to get any help for her. My tears were flowing as my own little girl played contentedly by my feet.

She got up and went toward the back of the apartment without a word. She came back and handed me a square of toilet paper to dry my tears. You can imaging the waterworks that came from THAT.

She went back to fetch more, and emerged with a tile comet of TP that was still attached in the bathroom. :)

My Superhero

Best medicine.

It hasn't always been easy for ANY of us, but I'm so proud of the adults they have become. I have the satisfaction of knowing I didn't mess them up or scar them for life TOO badly... and I'll be leaving the world a better place for bringing them into it.

What else can a Mom ask for, when all is said and done?

*edited to add more cuteness*