Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

What to do on the last official day of summer last week? Eat an ice cream cone outside, of course!

He is laughing at my notion that I should get a bite.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Like a Bad Casserole

Recently I had the pleasure of running some errands with A, my older son. I always enjoy our one-on-one time because I like the opportunity to glean something of what is going on in his life. Sometimes he throws out the most interesting opinions, and I get to hear whatever he is ready to share that day. As he has gotten older, these chances get fewer, so I cherish the times I get.

If he rides with me on these occasions, he usually brings his own music and politely asks if we can listen to it. He has learned what I like (and what I don’t—“That one would make you too nervous, Mom”), and his taste in music is so broad that what he brings to my car is always something that broadens my interest, too. This day he brought a mix, and my favorite on there was a tune by Vampire Weekend (check them out, I really like them). Now I happen to have my own Vampire Weekend CD.

Anyway, about this particular day, we were discussing the music on the radio (which is what I usually put on), versus his Indy band music. He has strong opinions about pop music. He began telling me that he can't listen to a lot of the music on the radio because the way they mix their sounds irritates him. Really? “Yes, they put the vocals really high in the mix, because in our culture, the focus is on the singer, but for some reason producers seem to think that they need to fill up lots of empty space behind the vocals with whatever they can find, like a few improvised ingredients in a bad casserole.” I was shocked by this, not because of the music, but because of the bad casserole. How does he know about those? From my kitchen? Oh, I hope not . . . but I had to ask about that later, because much more followed.

“When you try to listen to what's behind the vocals in most radio pop songs, you'll find that you can't really pick out what's being played, but it's likely a boring, inoffensive mixture of several dull-sounding guitars playing four chords, a bass playing four notes, and a superfluous string section that you have to listen very hard for.” Ooohhh. Wow, this dude is really listening. I think he hears things most people don’t hear. Does he listen to all my wisdom this closely? Hmmm.

“I'm not trying to tout the superiority of technical musicianship over vocal skills - the human voice is one of my favorite instruments. Go listen to "Jolene" by Dolly Parton - you can hear the urgent guitar-picking, drums, bass, and piano and fiddle coming in and out as needed. Obviously Dolly Parton's voice is the most important feature since she is the singer, but her producer didn't feel the need to fill the space behind her vocal, like some last-minute dinner dish being filled out with bad ingredients to serve more people.” (More shock. Have I ever done this?? He is making some excellent points while I try to make this about me.)

Now I have to listen more carefully and see if I can get this. But I did also need to check on my son’s perception of the meals that come out of my kitchen. He ended up saying he had not had a bad casserole from his mom, but could not say exactly where he had had one. Makes me wonder. I’m going to go listen to Jolene. She wouldn’t serve you any bad casserole.

Here is Jolene if you want to listen, too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Woman I Admire

Recently I had a good talk with a friend who is quite an unusual woman. I first met her when N was just a baby. She found our new mom’s group through the support group and she became a “regular”, faithfully bringing her little infant, who was only a matter of months older than N. This baby was an adorable little fair skinned girl with a shock of black hair, and her momma loved this baby’s Down syndrome. In fact, she asked for it. She requested it. Yes, as a single mom, my friend sought to adopt a baby with a disability. And I could only marvel at her.

Those two have been through much together—major heart surgery, eye surgeries, discovery of significant hearing loss, ear surgeries, and now, glaucoma (all for the tiny one). This mom does not live in my city any more, but she does come here often for appointments. Several years ago, she let me know that another adoption was in the works – her heart would not rest until she received a certain little girl from China who had low vision. So she excitedly added to her family. She completely accepts her girls for who they are, challenges them, encourages them, and yes, loves them so well.

Only a few years ago when we updated, she asked in a laughing tone if I thought she was crazy that she yearned to adopt again. I told her she would be crazy to ignore it if this is what she thought God was calling her to do. She said she had felt for some time that God gave her the desire for these children, they were her purpose, and she wanted one more. And now, for over a year, a darling boy with Down syndrome graces this once all-girl family. Evidently, he has brought a lot of spark and energy as only a male child can! (She was trying to extract a toy tool from the DVD player as we spoke.)

Her selfless approach to living a life devoted to these children leaves me speechless, wishing I could be half the woman she is . . . There are a lot of things she could have chosen to do with her life, and she gives it to 3 precious ones whose parents did not choose them. But she did. And she chooses them every day, laughing at their antics, cooking their favorite foods, taking walks with them, and teaching others to accept them. My hat is off to her. No, to be more honest, I adore her, and I thank God for people like her in our world.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What's a Swamp Mother to Do?

I hardly know what to say about N’s school so far. I haven’t written much about it, except that we did not send him back to our regular school district this year, and that my coping with his entrance into high school has sent me in search of chocolate and purses. This education thing is hard. And the cumulative effect of all the years of being on guard and in defense posture may have made me a little wacky . . . and very wary. (You may think I meant “weary”. That, too.)

Seeing as our district made it somewhat clear back in the spring that they were going to assign him to a certain high school, I began to search out other options. I only did that after I spent several days at this school trying to figure out how it could possibly work for N. To say that the facility is woefully inadequate would be putting it mildly. The basement is mostly reserved for the students with special needs, and it is routinely called “The Swamp”. I spent time in the swamp, I sent N to “shadow” in the swamp, and I interviewed others who had swamp experience. I even have depressing quotes from a former swamp teacher who asked me not to repeat them. What is a “would be” swamp mother to do, except go rogue?

We left the district. Where we are now provides no special services. But they are more than kind and are accommodating in every way. The whole thing was the idea of my Neighbor Friend. (She is her own form of a super hero . . .) And she approached this very unusual school with the idea. And they said yes! Actually, not only yes, but, How can we help make this work and work well? Wow! We can scarcely believe it. The swamp mother thinks she likes life outside the swamp.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another Summer Fav Photo

The days of meets are over, I think -- too nerve wracking for him. At least he still swims laps with his dad . . . and has some biceps that I wish were mine.

More great photos to see here at Special Exposure Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

A Fond, Fond Farewell to Summer

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