Category Archives: life

Leaving for Foster

I didn’t have to do anything except gather the plastic bags full of his shirts and pants and socks and underwear and shoes. Bags with books and teddy bears.

All he had.

I stood in the room with others, including his foster Mom.

We just waited watching him weep. Watching a child’s heart break.

He wept so silently and so constantly.

He didn’t know how much love sat in that room with him.

He doesn’t know that today may be the greatest day of his life. The day that changes everything for the better.

Tonight all I can think of is a boy who is in a house that isn’t his. No matter how bad that one was, this one isn’t his.

I’m sorry for what life has visited upon you. You touched people today who will think of you always.

Sleep tonight little man.

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Profoundly Resilient

Today is Brigid’s 16th birthday!

It is hard to believe that just four months ago this happened:

crash volvo

Brigid was in the back seat behind the driver.

Here you can see her car door stuck to the grill of the car that hit them.

crash truck

 

We were in the hospital for 10 days.

That's Oregon Health Sciences University up on the hill.

That’s Oregon Health Sciences University up on the hill.

Brigid in her bed, hooked up to tubes and monitors, being poked and prodded.

brigid rm 24

After five days, the pain was so great and the healing so limited that they operated on her and put in a plate to stabilize her pelvis and six screws to hold it in place.

Last week I took Brigid to a see a counselor, believing that any teenager who had been through such a trauma and had her life changed so drastically (missing months of school, not dancing anymore, etc.), might need to work through some of it. Jan, the therapist who I trust and respect, met with me and Brigid for a few and then I left and she and Brigid talked. I came back at the end to be told “Brigid is profoundly resilient.” Jan credits me with staying by her side throughout, the fact that Brigid has no memory of the accident, Brigid knows and accepts that she is deeply loved by family and friends, and Brigid is Brigid. Profoundly resilient.

Yesterday we went to lunch and birthday shopping.

brigid16

“And I got a birthday bracelet from Tiffany!”

I went for a walk in the woods early this morning and thought about Brigid and her 16th birthday. At one point, I was overcome with emotion and gratitude; grateful to God for blessing us with Brigid back in 1999 and again for watching over her the night of the crash in April.

Brigid, I wish for you a long life filled with love for family and friends, quiet kindnesses and raucous celebrations.

Happy Birthday my sweet girl and many many many many more.

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I Got that Call

I’m typing this from Brigid’s hospital room. Early Sunday morning, she was in a car going back to her friend’s house from a run to McDonalds. A drunk driver blew through a 4 way stop and t-boned the car. Brigid was in the back seat on the driver’s side and took the bulk of the impact. She has a fractured pelvis which we still don’t know if she will need surgery to stabilize it. In the big picture, she is fine.

She had on her seat belt and because of that, we are in the hospital and not the morgue.

The drunk driver went to jail. I don’t know much other than that. There are no skid marks on the road so he never even thought to stop. Brigid’s friend’s (the driver of the car) mom has pictures of the car that Brigid was in as well as the drunk’s car. I don’t want to see them but I have heard they aren’t pretty.

Please make sure you and everyone you know and love wears a seat belt at all times, front seat or back. Every damn time you are in the car.

 

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Welcome to PDX, Your Winds Will Gust to 58 MPH

Sorry it has taken me so long to check in upon my return from one of my most favorite vacations ever. I haven’t known how to blog about it. So I will write it as I have been telling it.

I will start at the end. We had such a fabulous vacation. Nevis is a wonderful place with traffic patterns decided by wandering goats, donkeys and cows.

What? Do you need this road?

What? Do you need this road?

It’s a very long trip from the West Coast of the U.S. down there but definitely worth it. Nevis is a third world country, tiny, poor and also friendly and well-educated. I could live there as long as I was living in the ocean front villa that we stayed in. I was feeling quite proud of my new found attitude toward less than thoroughly western comfort, ass-in-butter conditions and then we got to our hotel for our lay over in Charlotte NC.

Nevermind.

I still need luxury and the $85/night airport hotel that I found in Charlotte? In an effort to prove how frugal I can be? No, that didn’t work at all and I wasn’t comfortable going barefoot in the room.

I’m still me.

We flew from St. Kitts (the island federation is formally known as St. Kitts – Nevis) to Charlotte, spent the night and then on to DFW and then to Portland. While sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for our next flight, the thought “this isn’t going to go well” popped into my head.

I was right and I was wrong.

We had a smooth flight, as all of our flights had been, going and returning. It got really bumpy closer to the Portland airport, which is surprising because Portland doesn’t have one of those airports where you think there will be issues. I was reading my book and noticed the bumpiness but thought nothing of it, we were almost on the ground. Wait. I looked at Derwood, “he’s going back up?”

Yep, we couldn’t make it down and then we spent what I think was another 30 minutes circling around and trying to get to the ground but the wind was tossing a rather large plane around like it was made of paper. The plane was completely silent except for the woman barfing in our row, poor thing.

I asked Deren “why isn’t he saying something?” He figured the pilot was busy flying the plane. Finally the pilot came on and said, “I guess you all noticed, we didn’t land. I’m going to go around again and land this time.”

Oh are you? It was the 2nd scariest experience of my life after the beach incident with the girls. The more we circled and tried to get below the clouds and then being thrown back up, the more freaked out I got. I was clinging to Deren and praying my Catholic ass off. I really don’t care if I die, I’m not scared to die but I can’t die because I can’t leave my girls. And that’s all I could think of as I spoke to my parents, this is NOT the time for me to check out.

Deren doesn’t often get strict with me but he said, “Maggie, you have to sit up straight.” And I thought, well shit, we are going down and I have to be ready for that. It was horrible, absolutely terrifying.

As you know, because I am typing this, we made it down.

Everyone cheered when the plane hit the runway. The pilot came on the PA and said, “I have landed on an aircraft carrier in winds of 50 knots and this landing was worse than that.”

Glad to hear that, once we got down.

So tomorrow, I’ll tell you more about this place:

sunset

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Fiddy

Last Thursday the 26th was Jackie Gleason’s birthday so we all know what that means.

Last Thursday was my birthday. Fiddy. Five Oh. Half a hundred. I am 50 years old.

Fifty. Years. Old.

It’s not bad at all. I was caught by surprise at how much I missed my mother. I wish she were here, there are times you want to share big events with your mom.

I started the morning with a good long walk with my boyfriend, Mudd.

I have binge watched “Scandal”.

I'm not kidding.

I’m not kidding.

I went tanning because we leave for Nevis on the 6th and I want to have a base. Nice thing about being 50: when the young man, who wasn’t even born the last time I went tanning, told me he likes to tour new customers around so he can charge them more money see which bed is the best for the customer’s skin type; I had no problem saying “I really don’t want to do that.” Done. Six minutes of tanning and I’m on my way to my tropic skin cancer bronze beauty.

Another being 50 bonus: I readily give myself a break. I have already broken my vow not to eat bread during Lent. Duh, Lent is hard, I wouldn’t have lasted 20 minutes in the desert.

I will be celebrating my birthday for a couple of weeks. I was in San Francisco this past weekend with my other spouse, Lisa.

Someday we are going to have to send out our own Christmas card.

Someday we are going to have to send out our own Christmas card.

We had a really great time. I got to meet some of Lisa’s friends and we spent time with Jane T. my Colgate pal.

mejanegoldengate

Golden Gate Bridge in the background

 

I went out to dinner with two of my oldest, longest…how do you say that? I have known Julie since 1972 and Gretchen since 1977. We go back a ways and that was hilarious as our monthly dinners are.

I had lunch at Danni’s yesterday and got to snuggle her 6 OUNCE foster kitten and play with her two roly poly foster puppies and eat bread.

Magnolia Kitty

Magnolia Kitty

I got cards and flowers and lovely gifts and it was a happy, happy day. And then I watched more Scandal. And then I realized I have no idea what the hell is going on on Scandal.

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Misc. January

Brigid is no longer a student at Lake Oswego High School. She’s not a student anywhere right now but we will get her registered at her new high school tomorrow. You know the best thing about withdrawing your kid from high school? When the counseling office admin says, “Don’t take this the wrong way but you have such a cute figure, you look great in those leggings.” Here’s news, there is no wrong way to take that. I will now strut my stuff for the rest of the day!

Unless you are me, of course.

Unless you are me, of course.

This month is the three year anniversary of this blog. I have over 5,000 followers and I think some of the new ones are real people. I tried to write my Dear Judy blog but it didn’t work. I couldn’t write it. Isn’t that odd? It’s just typing in the same program that I’m typing in now but the voice was different and I couldn’t get comfortable. I’m happy to be back here and I thank all my pals for sticking around for the past three years and am happy to see some new regulars.

Now that Annie is in at AADA, I have decided to bother with financial aid. I have done absolutely ZERO research into how all of that works. My strategery there is “if I look into financial aid, I will jinx her getting in…. so do nothing.” And hello, it worked!

Derwood broke the computer. We have no computer at home. He dropped the laptop and the screen broke inside. It’s a bummer and I need to buy a new one but it is also quite liberating. I’m free to do a ton of other things because I’m not looking at the computer. For those who are new here, I don’t have a SmartPhone so I just go without the interwebs! This past weekend, I had no email or Facebook or Google or IMDB, it was just fine.

broken computer

The shit got real when the wifi went down and I couldn’t get Hulu. Hulu is my new thing. I found “Devious Maids” there, which is fabulous trash. Hulu has Bob Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore. I tend to live in other decades sometimes so those shows are perfect. AND! I have started watching “The Mindy Project” which is laugh out load, choke on it funny. Then the wifi went down. I called Comcast. The computer told me they were aware of the problem and that I was not alone. It was my “area”. My “area” was down. This was the part of the weekend where I started seeing spiders and picking bugs off me. I’m nothing without my wifi. I tried On Demand but “Mildred Pierce” was too theatrical, too sophisticated.  And I think Kate Winslet got thin. No one fell down or had ridiculous birthday parties with a best friend in a wheelchair or looked like a normal size woman. None of that happens in “Mildred Pierce”.

It took an hour or so but the earth returned to its axis; “The Mindy Project” and all the other joys of Hulu returned.

I’m also reading. Finished my 2nd book of the year The Secret History by Donna Tartt. She is one of my new favorite authors. She is a gifted storyteller. I highly recommend this book. I also highly recommend that when you hit the last 50 pages or so, make sure you have peace and quiet to read them. You don’t want any interruptions. You don’t want people coming in and out of the room where you are reading to see if the IPhone they found is working or if that is the old one or why it rings if you call it from the same number on the new phone. You don’t want that. Trust me.

credit to Geek Blogger 04

credit to Geek Blogger 04

 

 

She Did It!

This post is just a little bit of crowing by a proud mama.

Annie got into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City! She starts in September!

GAHHHHHH!!!!!!

annie behrens green

I am so proud of her. She has had a rough four years. Aside from the highs and lows of being a teenager, she has also battled anxiety and depression. She has struggled academically. Annie doesn’t test well and she has trouble memorizing information.

Unless of course she needs to memorize a script. That she can do and it makes her come alive.

I was concerned that she wouldn’t be ready for her audition this past Saturday because she was deep in depression in November and December and we were working to get her meds right. The meds kicked in. Annie had great material. She was in the audition/interview for about an hour while her father and I sat outside and waited.

I will never forget her walking toward us after the interview. She knew the woman from AADA was right behind her so she was mouthing, “I NAILED IT!!!” After all of her struggles, she nailed it and she knew it.

The audition was on the 17th and she was accepted yesterday! What? After jumping up and down and calling people to shriek “She got in!”, I went and looked at the school’s website. The auditions are being held around the country and in Europe till the end of June. AADA has rolling admissions so they accept people into the program as they go. I’m guessing they really wanted her because they could have just waited to see who else auditioned and then let her in.

Whatever, I’m just thrilled to pieces. The one thing I did in all of this was to get out of her way. She has the talent and the drive and she is on her way!

Last week I posted this on Facebook:

An entry level engineer just turned down our offer of employment. Not enough vacation time (10 days a year) for him and he “really likes to get out and do things”. I weep for the future.

To set the scene:
Last week a fresh-out-of-engineering school job applicant declined a job with my company. Anyone who has read this blog knows I’m here for the health insurance but it’s not a bad company. The company that I work for is a niche firm specializing in hydraulic and hydrologic computer modeling. I can make an educated guess that the compensation package offered to “Scott” (his real name), a recent graduate of the Univ. of State at City, included: salary of at least $50k, 10 days of paid personal leave, 10 paid holidays including St. Patrick’s day (which is dumb….should be the 18th for hangover care), birthday day off, employer paid health insurance, 401K, Roth IRA and probably other stuff but like I said, I’m here for the insurance.
My comment on Facebook reflected my opinion that the current generation of American 20- and early 30-somethings is looking for a work/life balance that prior generations had not thought of till later in life. In my opinion, they earned it. I think that we have a generation of “kids” who were given trophies for showing up. No winners. No losers. Just curry that self-esteem. I think they have been taught that they should have what they want when they want it and not let work get in the way.
bigboyjob
I’m going to share some comments from Facebook and my thoughts on the repercussions of this generation’s decisions. I would also like to know what you, my brilliant readers think about this.
I had a few comments like the following:
“Ah, the Age of Entitlement. The saddest era ever.” and “He must have received a 10th place trophy as a kid. You can’t just give it to the team who wins.
But for the most part, my friends supported “Scott’s” (I think, that’s his name) decision to look for a job that offered him the free time he wanted. There were also comments from people who live/work in Europe or work for European companies. That is a topic for another day. For the purposes of this post, we are discussing the United States in the here and now.

So, here are some of the comments from Facebook:

I guess I see it differently, I’d say good for him! He’s probably in his early 20s, why should he settle for employment that won’t leave him fully satisfied? Engineer jobs are aplenty and he has a good 40 years or so of work ahead of him. I recently turned down a job with a $23,000 pay raise for another job that gives me more time off and I still feel like it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.
If he can find an equally good job with better vacation, why not? Sounds like he is just taking advantage of a free market where he has options.
Oh you and I could have a long conversation about this I’m 26 and just resigned from a FT position, some of the reasoning behind it was how much time I was selling my life to work!

I say good for him too. I actually applaud him for not settling for something that doesn’t fit into the lifestyle that he wants for himself. Maybe he doesn’t measure his self worth by how much money he makes, but by his life experiences. He may not need “things” like the rest of us do. He may have impeccable work ethic. He may have already figured out how much money he needs to survive, support his lifestyle and what he’ll need to retire and when. If all of this is the case, we should all take a page from his book and maybe we’d all be happier and fulfilled.

 

I know the people who wrote these comments and I can comfortably say that almost all of them have taken on great mental, emotional and financial responsibilities for themselves, their families, and their country. And if they say, let the next generation or two take it easy, that is their prerogative.
My thoughts on the subject differ from theirs (as you knew they would).
Scooter Scott, I understand that you would like more time to “get out and do stuff” and that is your choice. I want you to understand a few things, though.
1. You still need to pay off your student loans. I know they are onerous. Actually they are outrageous but you signed the papers. When you default on loans, it costs the rest of us money.
2. If, after you have received your degree in history or Aztec studies or ecological poetry or water resources engineering, you don’t get that “meaningful” job with plenty of vacation time to hike things, don’t go live in a tent in a public square and compose rants on your IPad against the 1 percent. There are plenty of 1 percenters who worked their asses off to get where they are.
Well there are, I should know.

Well there are, I should know. Except I don’t get paid $50k to blog and play Friends with Words.

3. I don’t want to pay for your insurance. If you drive a car, can’t afford insurance and get into an accident OR blow your knee snowboarding without any health coverage; my insurance premiums go up.
4. If somewhere 10-15 years down the line, you change your mind and decide you do want to buy a house instead of renting but can’t qualify for a mortgage because you don’t make enough money or your credit score is inadequate; don’t complain that it’s not fair and demand that mortgages be easier to obtain. Subprimes are no one’s friends.
Scott (if that is your real name), I understand that you want to have more time to enjoy life. Don’t we all? Go! Go Carpe Diem, Carpe hard! I only ask that you realize that your decision comes with its own implications and you are not freed from society’s responsibilities simply because you want to get out and do stuff.
whatyouwant

I couldn’t get the YouTube link to work.

What say you?

Note: I have no idea what is wrong with the spacing on this post but I’m done fighting with it. Done, I tell you!

 

Life/Work Balance with a First Job. Too Much to Ask?

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You’re It!

December sucked.

I got sick midway through and the cough is finally clearing up. My nose is raw from blowing snot out of it for weeks but I am just about done. I didn’t go to one festive holiday party. Not one.

Deren and I weren’t getting along. Mostly due to other stresses in our lives and we were not being properly supportive of each other. It happens, having a successful marriage can be hard work.

The girls were having their own issues whether it was hating school, prepping for the Nutcracker, depression…being a teenager is hard work.

I know of three kids in our community who died in December. One of them was a childhood pal of Brigid’s who suffered with bipolar disorder and killed herself. Shea was 16. Another boy, a 6th grader, died a couple of blocks from my house when, during a wind storm, a tree came down on the car he and his mom were driving in. My heart broke for those families and it knocked the stuffing out of me for a bit. I just wanted to wrap my girls in bubble wrap and not let them out of my sight.

Through all of that, I was forging full steam ahead to make sure everyone had a Merry Christmas, goddammit!

xmas vacation

The stove finally bought the farm New Year’s Eve and we still don’t have one. We do have a new one in the kitchen but it doesn’t work and Sears isn’t returning my phone calls. I love that. Never buy anything from Sears ever, no wonder they are in such an awful financial position, their customer service consists of “that’s your problem”.

I whine about tell you all of that, to tell you this.

This past Friday I was one of the drivers to the girls’ Confirmation retreat. Friday evening everyone met up at St. Thomas More to load up kids and food and sleeping bags and head to Mt. Angel where the retreat was being held.

When I walked into the parish hall where everyone was gathering, I noticed a girl standing against the wall holding a baby doll. The group is composed of high school students. This girl had on Mickey Mouse ears and was holding a doll. I smiled at her and then waited for my carpool assignment. The coordinator told me that Mary was coming in our car. Mary with the mouse ears. I don’t think she has Down’s Syndrome but she has “special needs” of some sort. Her speech is garbled but she is very talkative.

We packed Mary’s stuff in the car with Annie and Brigid’s gear and hit the road for one of the most delightful drives I have ever had. Mary’s picked her Confirmation name. It’s Brian. I think. She loves Disneyland but I’m not for sure on what her favorite ride is. She has a brother named Brian, maybe. She crowed like Gob in Arrested Development

Not long after we set out, Mary reached over and tapped Brigid on the shoulder and said, “You’re it!”

hahahaha

How fabulous is that?! For the next hour, the four of us would randomly tap someone and say, “You’re it!” I could only tap Annie because she was in the front seat and I was driving, so safety first.

Mary is never going to live what most of us would call a “normal” life but she reminded me of the simple pleasures. How much fun to tap someone on the shoulder, “You’re It!”

Life isn’t so bad when you’re It.

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Dear Katie,

For my readers who don’t know Katie’s story, please refer back here and here. Katie has been home for a few months and returns to school today. She is still working so hard and has come so far and her reward is a touch of normalcy, she gets to go to school half time for the rest of the year! Go Katie, Go Katie!!!

 

Dear Katie,

What a huge day for you after so many months of struggling and fighting! Congratulations on your return to ol’ LOHS!

I think about you and your family everyday and I am not the only one. Can you believe there are 2083 followers of your Facebook page? And I know the number of people who know and care about your story is much larger. I have friends around the country who know about you and ask me how you are doing and pray for you. There are THOUSANDS of people around the country and around the world who think about you and pray for you and are cheering for you. Isn’t that something? Why do you suppose that is?

Well, yeah there’s the whole interwebs thing, but bigger than that. Why are there literally thousands of people, many of them strangers (unless you know waaaayyy more people than anyone else I know) who know your story?

I have some ideas.

1. You’re a good kid. By all accounts, from my daughter, Annie’s, first encounter with you freshman year — to all the stories I have read in the past six months. You are regarded to be as nice, as kind, and as enthusiastic as your reputation would have us believe. The real deal! When nice people get hurt, other nice people and even not-so-nice people, wish them well and pray to whatever god they believe in for healing. You are young. People want young people to have long, happy lives. I haven’t met you but I can see there is a vibrancy to you that the world needs.

From left: Katie, sister Annie, and mom Trina (although I am just guessing that's Trina because she doesn't look much older than her girls.)

From left: Katie, sister Annie, and mom Trina (although I am just guessing that’s Trina because she doesn’t look much older than her girls.)

2. Moms. I know there are dads following your progress and praying for you but I am a mom and I will speak to the Mom part of this equation.

Katie's dad, Dave, the day in December when though in a coma, Katie signed "I love you".  Dad's rock.

Katie’s dad, Dave, the day in December when though in a coma, Katie signed “I love you”. Dad’s rock.

From the moment a mother knows her baby is on the way, she is protecting it. Taking folic acid and eating right and exercising (unless you’re me and then you eat tater tots and ice cream and grow to the size of an NFL lineman). We read to our babies inside us. We plan rooms and buy the right cribs, buy darling little outfits and blankets and little hats to keep the little baby head warm. We make sure the car seat is installed correctly and the baby faces backwards for a year. Katie, moms make sure the house is baby-proofed, that our little people wear bike helmets, and walk on the sidewalk, we practice letters and numbers with our tiny scholars, and make lunches and beds, and apply sunscreen.

Mothers do every single thing we can think of to keep our children safe from bruised knees, broken arms, broken hearts. Unfortunately we can’t control everything and we aren’t meant to. The goal of all this tending to our children is so that they will eventually grow up and take care of themselves. Slowly, children gain more and more independence, from putting their shoes on by themselves, to making their own toast, to walking to school, reading alone, the list goes on and on. We have to let you go out into the world and roll the dice.

And sometimes when you go out into the world horrible things happen.

Katie, this is why there are so many people praying for you and thinking about you daily. Because you are all of our children. There isn’t a mother worth her weight in varicose veins, who doesn’t realize it could have been our child in the accident. You have become a daughter to all of us. Especially to us moms who have teenage daughters, you are the beautiful girl that owns our hearts, who we have to set free.

And your mom is all of us.  We have all cried for your mother, not knowing anything else to do. We know the fear that goes with injury to one of our cubs. Moms can make all the casseroles in the world but that can’t fix an injured child or replace the ferocious love we have for our children. We all feel for your mother and we all thank God everyday that we don’t have to be as strong as she is. And we all know the strength it takes to keep all the balls in the air, the hospital, the house, the doctors, on and on. And there is your sister and your dad, and the mom has to take care of everyone she loves. It’s a big job and we are all so proud of Trina.

lenin mom

3. Renewal. Life is rough. There is so much bad news every damn day. Plane crashes and tornadoes, politics and business, it can all be so overwhelming.  In the midst of the 24-hour news cycle madness, life can still get through to us. At the most unexpected times, in the most unexpected ways, life brings renewal and hope and awareness of a much larger picture. The spiritual journey that we have traveled with you through a Facebook page has been uplifting and uniting. I’m Catholic and have a deep faith but as a Catholic, I’m not much of a bible reader. If I need to know it, it’s probably in the missal 🙂 I have read some beautiful passages from the Bible on your Facebook page, most I have never read before. Those passages have lifted my spirit, as I hope they have lifted yours.

Your life these past almost six months has inspired thousands to remember what is really important during our time in this world, that can all too often be much too short. You, Miss Katie, are a miracle. Not just for being on this planet today and walking (!) into school today but because you have shown thousands of people what true character and might look like. You have reminded us to love our children and our parents.

I hope to meet you and your family soon. You have all had a great impact on me, on my parenting and on my faith.

In advance, please excuse me if I completely fall apart when I finally lay eyes on you. I’m like that.

Happy Friday Miss Katie!

xoxox

Maggie

 

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