Monday, December 25, 2017

Emotional Anniversary

I realized what an emotional anniversary was the summer I turned 12.  I lived in Forest Lake and my sister and I would often bike the short 1.3 miles to the Tom Thumb gas station in Lino Lakes.  The town of Lino was so small, it only had that one 4 corner stop and then additional stop signs at the end of of each road that met up with the main drag called Lake Drive. One beautiful summer day, my sister and I neared the four corner stop intersection.  I felt strange, a little light headed and filled with fear. The four corner stop was approximately 200 feet away. I was almost there. There. The four corner stop. I quickly braked, came to an abrupt stop and put my feet on the gravel. I burst into tears. I gulped for air. I felt like I had been punched in the chest.  I saw my sister stopped at the four corner stop and turn to look at me. I stepped off my bike, pulled it into the weeds by the side of the road and was able to realize what all of this sudden fear was about.

Two summers prior, my sister and I had been gifted amazing 10 speed bikes from our parents.  I loved my bright yellow banana seat bike, but was thrilled to have a new shiny bright red 10 speed.  My father loved riding and we knew he had lofty ideas of my sister and I eventually joining him on his summer Tri-state 300. I was still getting used to the bike that summer and struggled getting used to the hand brake rather than the step back brake on my old yellow bike.  I approached the 4 corner stop on the way to the Circle Pines Library (quite a trek for a 10 year old) and knew I would need to brake and be careful as there would be many cars and large trucks also approaching the intersection.

I panicked the closer I came to the sign.  Squeezing, squeezing the brakes as hard as I could to stop and my bike keep proceeding forward.  I wasn't squeezing the hand brake, I was squeezing the handle bars. I slammed full force into the stop sign and fell to the ground.  My dad catapulted himself towards me to assess how hurt I really was.  Gravel embedded in my shins, knees, and in the palms of my hands, blood poured down both legs. Nothing was broken. My tears fell and I couldn't catch my breath. I was in so much pain. I swiped tears with my dirty blood stained hands and wiped blood into my right eye.  I was overwhelmed with pain and disbelief. My dad cleaned me up with handkerchief and water from his drinking bottle. He pulled as much of the loose gravel from my bloodied body as he could and tried to reason with me about why this even happened.

My dad explained that I had been squeezing the handle bars and not the hand brakes. He showed me how to do it again, but I could barely see what he was doing from my dirt smudged eyes. I waited a bit an worked on controlling my breathing and he handed me another handkerchief to clean my face. I was still dealing with dripping blood from my legs and my hands were on fire. Once I caught my breath, I told him I was heading home. He asked me to continue with him and my sister to the library. I just couldn't do it. I explained that I was going home. I could see the disappointment in his face, but at the point it didn't matter to me.

When I got home, my mom came out to the front yard to meet me. My dad must have called her from the gas station to tell her what happened. (This was way before the days of cell phones.)
My mom brought me a nice tall glass of water and we went over to the garden hose and she washed me up as good as she could.  My mom was so calm and caring. But said something that surprised me. She told me the best thing that I could do was to get right back on that bike again. What? She had to be crazy. Ride a bike again?! I was never getting on a bike again. So much blood and so many bandages gave me every right in the world to never mount that shiny new red ten speed again. She hugged me and loved on me, and told me to think about it.

I didn't sleep well that night. All I could think about was that both my mom and dad were right. I needed to get back on that bike again and soon.  I also couldn't sleep because even the light sheet hurt my wounded body.  In the morning, I moved slow, I moved at a snails pace. I needed to take my time. I showered again and continued to remove more loose gravel from my knees. I ate breakfast and got dressed. And then it was time. I told my sister I wanted to ride to the gas station and asked if she wanted to come with me. She looked at me dumbfounded, but quickly replied yes.

The ride to the gas station and through the 4 corner stop was uneventful and life giving. It was the most restorative experience that I may have ever had so far in my very young life of 10 years.  I may have given up the day before. But not the next. I got back on the bike and proved to myself that I could do it.

The summer I was 12, these memories came flooding back to me. Not in bits and pieces, but as fast as I crashed into that stop sign.  All that emotion, all the pain, and all the self doubt bombarded me. But then so did the feelings of strength, of self determination and of perseverance. I was literally knocked down and got up again.

I calmed myself, wiped my tears and regulated my breathing. These memories were empowering. They showed me where I had been and where I was now. I was strong. I was able and I can keep going.

This emotional anniversary happened to be the first of many.  Some so amazing, some completely heart breaking. Each serving a purpose, each making me into who I am today. When a memory seeps into my mind, when a date on the calendar brings tears to my eyes, when a heart to heart hug floods my skin and bones with fond remembrance,  I no longer ignore or hide them. I now embrace, experience, savor and often enjoy those Emotional Anniversaries. Because each one will always serve a purpose.

Zach and Sondra

Our son Zach is 14 years old and attends 9th grade at Chanhassen High School. He is enrolled in the Autism In Motion program. The other programs in the Special Education Department are designed for kids with other special needs such as Down Syndrome, Significant Learning Delays and Severe Physical Impairments.

Zach loves school. He loves adaptive phy-ed where he enjoys basketball, tennis and occasionally floor hockey. He also enjoys walking on the indoor track on the mezzanine level of the gym and riding a three wheeled adaptive bike.  He enjoys digital photo class where he is given a scavenger list and must find specific things in his school to take pictures of each day.

During quieter times, Zach enjoys work boxes and his job skills class. Zach enjoys his classmates but tends to gravitate towards quieter friends who will not have sudden loud outbursts or upsets.  Zach wears his headphones most of the time at school to block out said sudden loud noises.

Zach's best friend at school is Sondra. Such an amazing sweet girl with a smile on her beautiful face from ear to ear. Sondra has Quadriplegic Spastic Cerebral Palsy, is wheel chair bound, isn't able to speak much, but is able to communicate her wishes and emotions clearly.  Zach and Sondra moved from the junior high last year to the high school this year together.

Sondra and her mom Ashley met us a couple of times at the library this past summer. The kids enjoy being silly together and Zach will get down on the floor to kneel at Sondra's eye level and say, "I bet you've never seen an orange rhino before!!!"  And the two will laugh and laugh as Zach says it to her over an over again. Ashley and I as their moms, have no idea where this amazing affection for each other has come from. But we are so very thankful for this authentic mutually beneficial relationship.

Zach will not seek out the companionship of other kids. He will sit near them, be kind to them, but never try to play with them or interact with them unless they are prompted. But with Sondra, he will seek her out, find her and wheel her to a place where they can sit together. He will push her wheel chair around the track and bring her indoors if he is cold, as she may also be cold. Often without saying a word, he watches over her, protects her and entertains her.

Zach enjoys reading, but only for short periods of time and only about things he is interested in. Holiday books are a big deal for Zach. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Fall and Halloween. He can't get enough. We check the same books out of the library multiple times every year.  Reading book after book after book. Occasionally taking a break to talk about orange rhinos. I love this picture and will treasure it always.  They both look so genuinely happy.  To be with a friend and have a great book in hand. I can't think of anything better.

No, Zach will probably not graduate to chapter books or ever read a novel. But then why would he want to?  The simple sentence beautifully illustrated books which can entertain the kids for hours brings them both so much joy.  And I adore that these kids can and will find a way of communicating with each other by just being next to each other and reading with each other.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Why I Don't Make New Year's Resolutions

I often overhear people discussing what their goals are for the New Year. Resolutions come in so many different forms.  Read more, drink less, exercise 5 days a week.  Spend more time with friends and family, spend less money on frivolous items, eat healthy foods.  The overall theme that can be found in each resolution is More of Something or Less of Something and usually involves some sort of Self Improvement.

I have been asked twice this week what is my New Year's Resolution.  My honest answer? I have never made a Resolution and probably will not this year.  When questioned further, I explained that I am not afraid that I won't be able to commit to the Resolution or that I would fail, rather I have made the conscious decision to avoid them.

I remember as a child I saw adults exercising, but not really enjoying it.  I saw women drag themselves to countless social gatherings and never even want to go. Why would an adult force themselves to do something that they didn't want to do and do it if it wasn't going to bring them joy? That seemed silly to me.

Absolutely, it is important to set goals, assess goals and reevaluate what is important to us as individuals. But why do we wait until the New Year? Why in the month of June, would we say I want to do a better job of intentionally reaching out to friends, but then decide to wait until January to make any changes?  Are we putting it off and naming the goal as a New Year's Resolution just so we don't have do anything about it right now? Delaying something that requires time, effort and planning so that we actually don't need to spend any time, effort or plan right at this very moment?

Ancient Babylonians and Romans made Resolutions at the start of a New Year which was usually celebrated with an 11 day festival in March, around the time the crops were planted and after the Nile flooded. The Babylonians and Romans probably had the same problems keeping resolutions as people do now. Only 8% of Americans keep their New Year's Resolution. Why?  Mostly because they like the idea of having a Resolution but also don't really want to have anyone hold them accountable for the follow through.

With the ever present rise of Social Media, American's feel an even more immediate need to state publicly what they would like to change, improve or do differently.  But does anyone else really care? I have never once decided to ask someone, So how is your 5 days a week at the gym resolution going? Usually because they already posted their Fitbit Steps for the day and checked in at the gym on Facebook. And if I asked about a goal, and they were failing miserably, they would probably feel bad and want to crawl under a rock.

Some say it is about seeking out friends and holding each other accountable. But let's be honest. Chances are you will begin to begrudge that friend when they make you get off the couch and go to the gym after you have settled in for the night.

So this year, rather than make a resolution, choose to make a life change.  Choose to inspire and impact those around you. Help someone else this year. Great. Keep your gym goal. Keep going. Remember your gym goal is for you, not for others.  Your muscles will not make me want to start lifting. But if you want to make a difference, and start helping the local community in need, strategize and organize now! Find out more about organizations that need help. Volunteer your time and your talent to help where help is needed. Talk to your friends. Share your passion with them about your vision and specifically ask them to help. You may be surprised at how many people are just waiting for an invitation. Collect food, collect clothing, collect school supplies. Talk with your neighbors about ways that they can tangibly help.

Call a local school or contact your child's school and find out if there are areas that they desperately need help in. Re-shelfing books, serving lunches, organizing work packets and projects, decorating for holidays or special events, meals for teachers and staff. Contact your local church or even your own. Wash those pews, offer to clean the pastor's home, volunteer your painting and remodeling skills. The list of ways that you can help in the local schools and at local churches is endless.

My daughter enjoys filling the Little Pantry in downtown Chaska with groceries and personal care items.  My son helps by baking for local families who have experienced hard times and could use a little extra love and encouragement for a season. Kids can make a difference and they do every day.  It just takes some helpful suggestions and often times modeled behavior to influence them for a lifetime.

All of this say, let this year be the year you change your idea about Resolutions. Rather than focusing on self, focus on others. Find a way to make a difference and make a positive change in your life and in the lives of others. And look at that. I suppose with the New Year pending, now is as good of a time as any. I mean the Nile hasn't flooded, and we will be experiencing our Arctic Minnesota winter soon rather than planting crops. But today is a good day for change.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas tree lights

There is an eternal argument that occurs at the Gavin house. Colored lights or white lights on the tree. The kids and Josh like the colored lights and I want my department store tree with white lights. Josh bought a pre lit tree this year with both colored (super bright) and white lights. 8 settings on a remote. I do quite like the tree and the rare occasion that I get to display the white lights. Zach is silent about it and just changes the tree back to the colored lights.
Lily is constantly trying to convince me that the colored lights are better. This morning went something like this.
Lily : Mom, is that your new shirt? I like it. Look at the purples. Oh my gosh. It is almost like you match the tree. Like you were trying. See why those lights are better?!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Zach and His Christmas Drawings

Josh and I are absolutely amazed. First, it was Zach's affinity for all things letters and numbers. Then it was the perfection of what we call The Zach Font. Then he figured out a way to research every 3 step Blue's Clues clues and 3 step directions from Dora by Googling each individual show and then placing them all in order based on original release date. And today, we observed that Zach's Christmas drawings were near perfection. From the twist of ribbon in the candy cane, the swirls on the bottom of the sleigh or dimension of Santa's eyes. Zach's artistic talents continue to increase! ❤️  (Zach loves taking drawing classes on Kids Art Hub, types in anything he is interested in and then learns how to draw whatever he wants!) Amazing!

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Yesterday was a tough one for Zach. He was flustered and belligerent most of day. The simplest of tasks weighed heavy on him and he hit himself twice. Those are the moments that hard for me as mom. We work very hard to fill each day with as much joy as possible for this kid. We want him to know that we are his safe haven. That we can comfort him when things seem overwhelming and stressful. But some days we fail. Yesterday being one of them. Today, Zach's mood has changed, he was thrilled to sing worship songs at church and hug friends whom he loves. Perfecting his silly faces and taking pictures he loves that I could put them all on one page to view. Modern technology never ceases to amaze him. He keeps saying wow, that's me. That's mom. That's my Christmas candy cane. I think today will be a good, joy filled day for Zach.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

How Zach Wins The Game


The kids and I spend many a Saturday mornings in the months of November and December scoping out all of the local Holiday and Christmas Boutique's and Sales. From vendors, to crafts, to exquisite art and homemade treats. There are often many smiling faces, a goody or two for the kids, and an occasional cup of coffee for myself. Lily and I enjoy looking at handmade jewelry, discovering which vendor has the best deal and figuring out what items are to be purchased that day. I often stress the importance of supporting local small businesses as  I own two of my own.

Today at Cy's in Chaska, we found the party room full to the brim. Candles, jewelry, lamps, book marks, mircowaveable bowl holders, scarves, wreathes and Christmas decor, hats and purses and even the dish cloth lady. We found the lady that sells the chocolate pretzels and I bought one for each of the kids. I bought a few dishcloths, a shark scarf for Zach to help cover his mouth at the bus stop, a pair of earrings and a bracelet to give as gifts. I finalized my sale, got my change and my purchases were bagged. I turned to Lily and asked where Zach was.

Zach often goes missing for short amount of times. He bores easily and often wanders in search of bigger and better things. There isn't a boy I know that likes candles and tinsel wreathes.  I turned quickly with Lily in tow. As I rounded to the entrance of the party room, I saw a long leg stretched out on the floor and then Zach's body. My mom heart panicked for a brief moment as I thought he was hurt or had fallen. Oh no, Zach was absolutely fine. He had his head positioned right in front of the hole on a pool table where the cue ball falls. He was placing the ball on the green felt then sliding it into a corner pocket and quickly throwing himself on the ground so he could watch the ball slide down the eternal drop of the table.

I watched for minute, fascinated with my sweet 14 year old boy.  Zach's mind is amazing. He cares more about the how rather than the why. He was convinced that that game was all about dropping just one ball into the pocket and watching it fall to the opening. His made up game gave him such satisfaction. He turned and saw me smiling and watching. "Ha! Mom, look at that ball! I love it!"

He stood, pulling his tall almost 6' 2" frame up with him and headed for the entrance of the building.  And just like that, he was finished.  As we walked out the back door and descended the old wooden stairs, Zach exclaims, "Did you see that?! I won the game!"  Yes you did Zach. Yes you did. Between running errands and getting Lily's glasses tightened and straightened and heading back to the library to read to the therapy dogs, I am so very glad that we made time for Zach to win the game.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Chocolate Syrup

At any given time, you will find my purse, mittens and possibly chocolate syrup sitting on the front seat of my van. Many of you know that Zach doesn't possess a food off switch. If it is something he enjoys, he will continue to eat it until it is gone. Blue flax seed chips, veggies straws, rice cakes, vanilla wafers, gold fish, dried cranberries, voortmans cookies, apple juice boxes, saltine crackers, granola bars, fruit snacks, popcorn, the list goes on and on. All these items are locked in my van at all times to prevent one sit down where Zach consumes it all. In the winter months we are also thankful for exterior refrigeration, so we lock cheese sticks, go gurts and the chocolate syrup in the van. The serving suggestion says that there are 18 servings in that bottle. Zach sees that and says, "Challenge Accepted and I will show you that I can do it in three." #nolie #cantmakethisstuffup

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I Don't Even Care Anymore

Lily came home from school all a flutter. So much to tell me.
Lily: Mom, I am one of 7 kids still in the running for the spelling bee.
Me: Cool. Out of how many?
Lily: 7. I told you.
Me: No, Lily. Out of how many.
Lily: Oh, 21.
Me: What grades are those 21 in?
Lily: My class.
Me: So there's technically more than 21 kids involved? The 21 were just in your class?
Lily: I don't know mom. I am just really having a hard time telling you this story, and now I don't even care anymore.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Parking Lot Snafu

3 errands before work. Apparently the idea of stopping at Michael's to get two things was a ridiculous idea. I got hit by a car pulling out of parking spot. I hollered and slapped the back of the car. For real. She was going slow, but the bumper hit my knee. I wasn't hurt at all, gathered myself and kept walking. Couldn't even turn around because I wouldn't have been able to tame my tongue. I kid you not, she rolls down her window and says, "Sorry, but you shouldn't walk behind moving cars."

I turned around and looked at her. My head tilted to the side, eyes squinted behind my sun glasses in disbelief of what I was hearing. I replied, "Remember your Christmas errands that are so important won't be as important if you take out a pedestrian in a parking lot. I hear killing someone weighs down on person heavily this time of year." Stunned silence. I walked into the store. She followed me in. No lie. She parked her car and followed me in. She then began with," I tried to apologize and you are fine. No harm no foul."

The woman from the register promptly bolts over to us and asks if there is a problem. I told her the woman needed to be removed from the store. She about lost her mind. I continued to walk into the store because I needed to get my stuff and go to work. The employee repeatedly asks the woman to stop yelling and kindly leave the store. I call over my shoulder, Merry Christmas! Because it is Christmas and that this is what nice pedestrians who walk behind moving cars do when drivers yell at them and won't leave them alone. 🙄 #cantmakethisstuffup

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Inside Voice

I think of the number of times I have asked my children to use their inside voice. Time and time again they have proven to me that they either have no idea of what an inside voice actually is, or they will never be one possess such a treasure.  My inside voice ranks pretty high up there. Not only can my voice be extremely quite, (while reprimanding my children and instilling the fear of God) I have also mastered the art of lip sinking and whispering.  My husband is deaf in his left ear, so often when the kids and I are repeating ourselves, our voices tend to be elevated. I blame this modeled practice as the culprit for my children shouting whenever they get the chance.

I have now said bizarre things such as, "Only raise your voice if you are hurt or in danger. " Or, "That loud voice should be used only in your room."  Once again, I have made a grave mistake with both comments.  My children and I clearly have different definitions of "hurt or in danger".  Also, going into your room to yell at me or your sibling isn't exactly what I meant.

I have also discovered that some families, with just one small little one in tow can struggle with volume control just as much as a family with 5 kids.  It all has to do with the family dynamics.  There are also families filled with loud talkers. Where every last one of them talks louder than the next and obviously missed the day God was handing out the volume buttons. The mom, dad, and every single child can talk so loud it is deafening. I will go home, medicate, cover my eyes and retreat to dark room with strict instructions to not be disturbed after experiencing such a family.

One of things that I have also observed is that some younger siblings will talk much louder than their older siblings.  I often believe this is because they want to be heard. They believe what they have to say is important and don't feel that they will be heard unless they increase the volume of their voice.  But then again, there are those that always have to fight to be heard, and feel that yelling, as ineffective as it can be, will not only enable them to heard, but justify what they have to say.

And then there are the parents that do not possess an inside voice. The burdened, overworked mom who needs a break and feels outnumbered and at her wits end. She raises her voice more so out of frustration and also in hopes of her children will do what she has asked of them. (I am so very, very guilty of this.) Or the tired dad who works hard to support his family, comes home to emotional and tired hot mess children and desires to set some guidelines for behavior and discipline. Kids shut down when we as parents raise our voices.

Not once, do I see raising your voice to be heard as an effective means... of being heard!  Let's take a minute here and break it down.  Being heard is also about listening and extending the same courtesy to others.  To have a two way conversation, it involves controlling the volume of our voice, asking questions, listening to answers, replying to questions asked and providing additional information. But is also involves kindness and humility. It involves letting someone talk, and sometimes talk too much but still being kind. It sometimes involves listening to things you don't care much about and waiting your turn before changing the subject matter. But mostly, it requires not having to be right all the time and being okay with the idea that your voice doesn't always have to be heard. Just be good to each other.  Just love each other.

Above all else, please stop acting as if you are always inside of a helicopter surrounded by running chainsaws. #icanteven

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Small Town Christmas Wearing Headphones

We live in Carver, Minnesota.  Chaska is actually the county seat of Carver County.  Odd and confusing as it may be, I, too, had to get used to it when we moved here from Chanhassen 15 years ago. I grew up in the then small town of Forest Lake, now a huge town with every store and restaurant you could imagine. I ended up in Carver County 24 years ago when I went to Crown College in St. Bonifacius. Except for small stint in Excelsior (Hennepin County), Carver County has been my home for my entire adult life. I love small town living. I love running into friends and family at Target or the other local shops. I love knowing the name of the butcher. (I call him Butcher Tom, and now just pray that that is actually his name.) And being greeted by name when I go into one of the many quaint store fronts that draw people out into our neck of the woods. 

During the Christmas Season we enjoy Christmas Light shows set to music, large trees decorated in the the local park, giant trees by Curling Center that greet us as we enjoy a slow stroll on the Boardwalk at Fireman's Park, craft sales for the Girl Scouts, the Moravian Auburn Home Christmas Boutique, Carriage Rides, hot cocoa and carolers. And this is all this weekend in Chaska!  SO many fun things to do.

The kids and I often leave the house early on Saturday mornings so that we can participate in as many activities as possible. This morning we picked up our Christmas cards that were printed in less than 20 minutes at Walgreen's, went to two boutiques, dropped off consignment items at the store, returned Redbox movies and now we are lounging at the local library.  Every Saturday, our morning involves the library in Chaska.

Zach adores it, he can look at movies and books, and Lily quickly signs him on to computer 15. She settles onto computer 13 and always chooses a few good books before we leave.  I drink coffee, read, write, complete my bible study, answer emails and often search for every elusive popular books. Our Saturday mornings involve a whole lot of technology and whole lot of fun.  We usually stay for about an hour or an hour and half and then head home for lunch. 

Zach, (14) has Autism. He thrives on structure and knowing what comes next. He doesn't like when we vary from specific plans established for the day. So Lily (11) and I remain flexible and stick to our planned out days as much as possible to keep the peace with Zach and to enable all of us to have a joy filled day. Zach struggles with babies crying and loud children. He can't handle it.  He wears headphones to block immediate sound and they provide a bit of pressure to enable him to cope in situations that he perceives as stressful. Many times Zach feels so comfortable wearing his headphones, he forgets to take them off when we get back in the car or are just by ourselves. I remind Zach to remove them, so that he can take in more of the conversations and happenings around him. 

Zach loves Christmas. Lights and trees and ornaments. Wreaths and decorated homes, goodies and Christmas Carols.  While at one of the boutiques this morning, Zach quickly removed his headphones and ran to me. "Mom! Mom! The song!  It is Christmas! Walking in a Winter Wonderland!!!"  Zach exclaimed in a loud booming voice. 

Zach is a handsome, very tall 6' 2" man sized child. He is often noticed by others because of how much joy he finds in the mundane. He was soooo excited about the music that was being played. He began to quickly scan the room trying to locate where the music was coming from.  He located the speaker, barreled to it and began to sing and dance.  He turned to smile at me as he sang.  Many of the women surrounding us turned and smiled at Zach and then smiled at me. One woman stopped me and touched my arm, "If only all children loved Christmas as much as he does!"

While walking a few blocks this morning returning to the car from the Christmas boutique, Lily and I were chatting as Zach was about 20 feet in front of us. His long legs and huge strides will never allow for Lily and I to keep his pace. I saw Zach stop in tracks and whip his headphones off again.  He stared up at the large tree next to the sidewalk and pointed up at it. "Mom! Listen! The birds are talking!"  Lily and I approached and we could hear the birds. Two of them having what appeared to be a conversation. Tweeting, more like squawking back and forth, the birds got louder as we drew near.

"Mom, I love the birds!" Zach explained.  I, too, have a genuine love of birds. Zach wasn't ready to move on as of yet, he only had eyes for those loud birds.  I started thinking about all the times I have become frustrated with Zach's headphones. All the times I have tried to pull him into our world and have requested that he would remove them.  Zach can still hear when he is wearing his headphones. He can still hear what is important. What is important to him. He heard the Christmas music that he adores. While others shopped, he took the time to listen to music, sing and dance to it. While Lily and I chatted about what we wanted to accomplish today, Zach heard to the birds high up in the tree, stopped rushing back to the car and took the time to listen to an exchange that only the birds understood.

Zach wore his headphones last weekend when went on the horse drawn carriage rides in Carver.  He wore his headphones when we picked up our Christmas Cards this morning. He will probably wear his headphones at the tree lighting ceremony in Chaska tomorrow. The headphones bring him comfort. They bring him calm.  Zach is still able to take in all the sights and sounds of our small town Christmas, but only in the way that he is able. And that will be alright with me.  Because he isn't interested in small talk. He isn't interested in the hustle and bustle that this time of year seems to revolve around.  He is interested in the lights and silence is all around him. He is interested in the music of Christmas celebrating a Saviors birth. And he is interested in the birds excitedly conversing in the trees overhead. And those things, seem so very important to me.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Tu Me Manques

Throughout my life, I have found myself missing people, missing places, and sometimes even missing things.  Sometimes a physical absence from someone you care about occurs because of a move. Other times, a loved one has passed away. I have found myself missing a place or location where fun times were had.  A vacation location, a favorite now closed restaurant, the shade of a tree no longer on land that is open to the public.  I miss you is a phrase that often leaves my lips if not thought of and not verbalized.  In French, it is Tu Me Manques, or You Are Missing From Me. That expression appears to be more of an accurate description.  A piece or a portion has gone missing from me.

My mother passed away 4 1/2 years ago.  Daily, hourly even, I miss her. I ache for her. I wish I could speak to her on the phone.  I want to meet her for lunch, see Christmas lights with her, enjoy a game of scrabble and enjoy some cocoa. I loved singing with her and laughing with her. I loved watching her play with my kids and reading to them.  I loved cooking with her and making chocolates at Christmas with her. And knowing that she was always available to help when a tough week approached.  A rare form of cancer took her from us in a short 2 1/2 months. Tu Me Manques.

My friend Laura, her husband Chris and children Emma and Copper, moved to Georgia 1 1/2 years ago. A necessary move due to a job change separated us and I miss her daily.  All the text messages, phone calls and face time sessions in the world do not fill the physical void of her absence. I have enjoyed three trips to see her in the past year and will see her again after the New Year. But to go from seeing each other all of the time, going to church together, enjoying bible study together and doing life together, to seeing each other every few months, makes me realize it all the more. Tu Me Manques.

My parents divorced when I was 12. When I was 14, my father moved from Minnesota to Washington. He made a life for himself, remarried and loves his life in the mountains. He has had a lot of physical problems and surgeries. He doesn't travel much and it is difficult for my family to plan the logistics of travel and housing with Zach. (Our special needs 14 year old son) I have seen my dad maybe 6 times in the last 25+ years.  I miss him always.  Phone calls are occasional as my days are so full with work and kids and all my side hustles.  I need a parent. Even at 42. I need a parent. Tu Me Manques.

I miss the white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico in Narvarre, Florida. I miss the warm water, the way the time doesn't matter, how life just slows down and makes room for enjoyment. Lazy days in the ocean, relaxing evenings poolside. Tu Me Manques.

I also find myself missing characteristics of a person or aspects of a relationship. The way he held the door and my hand. The way she and I laughed until we cried. The way they looked at me and earnestly listened as I poured out my heart. I miss his laughter. I miss her generosity towards my children. The way we played together hours on end. I miss that. I miss it a lot. Tu Me Manques.

I lost 4 handkerchief's in a move from Chanhassen to Carver 15 years ago. Normally, this would be something that didn't matter. It matters so much to me because they belonged to my Grandma Collova. I may have never used them, but I treasured them. I would run my fingers along the lace lined one and think of my childhood spent with Grandma. I often still pray they will show up somewhere, full well knowing I made a mistake somewhere along the way and they probably found their way into the donation bag.  Tu Me Manques.

Maybe I have become more sensitive in my old age, maybe just more aware of how people, places and treasured things make me feel. That is why Tu Me Manques sounds more accurate to me than an I Miss You.

I Was There To Hold His Hand

     Our dad is dying. He is in his final days. My sister Angela is doing an amazing job caring for him in her home. She is overseeing care,...