Monday, September 26, 2011

Media Monday - Loving Lampposts

A year ago we cut our satellite TV service.  After all, why pay for something  you can get muuuuuch cheaper (or even free!) online?  Every Monday I review a movie or TV show I have found online (Hulu, Netflix, or some other service) that I enjoyed and want to share.  It could be thought provoking, moving, or just plain silly.  As long as it entertained me!  

Loving Lampposts
(available on Netflix and Hulu)

This documentary explores the world of autism, through the eyes of autistic individuals and their families.  When his son is diagnosed with autism, filmmaker Todd Drezner sets out to discover all he can about the controversial condition.  He interviews several children and adults who are on the autistic spectrum, as well as their parents, spouses, and medical care providers.

This is a fascinating look at autism, presenting all sizes of the often controversial diagnosis with objectivity and very little bias.  The film addresses the 'vaccine issue', holistic methods of treating the condition, and explores the different theories about the causes of autism.  It also looks at the theory that autism is not a treatable and therefore preventable medical condition, but rather a unique wiring of individuals' brains.

'Loving Lampposts' also delves a little into the history of autism, challenging the statistic that its prevalence has grown over the last few decades.  There is a compelling segment about an autistic man, born in 1951, whose mother was told by doctors that he would never speak.  She was advised to institutionalize him and "have other children".

'Loving Lampposts' is a great film if you are curious about Autism Spectrum Disorder.  You can count on it giving you an unbiased look at all sides of the controversy surrounding this mysterious condition, and you will come away from it with an appreciation for the individuals who are diagnosed with it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Coming Home

I  spent the past week in my childhood home.  Or, should I say, my American childhood home.  Nestled among the cedar trees and live oaks of the Texas hill country, this old house has always waited patiently for us to come back to  it.  Even when someone else was living in it, it still stood as a testimony of permanence, standing there like a promise that we would all be together again, some day.

Mom and Dad have moved back in for a time, and my sister has, too.  When the kids and I pulled up and parked under the hack berry tree, whose uppermost branches I used to share with the wind, the house reached out and welcomed me.  The five year old Danica, the fifteen year old Danica, were in there too.

After the clatter of greetings and hugs for everyone, the weight of my life and memories settled down on me.  Parts of me were hiding all throughout this house.  There between the railings on the landing, the four year old me dangled  her feet.  Three year old Danica bumped down the stairs one by one on her butt.  The fourteen year old was hiding up in the corner bedroom with her dreams and castles.  And there I was in the middle of it all, trying to figure out where I fit in, now.

The oddly displaced feeling lasted through our week long visit, and followed me back home to the desert.  The kids and I tumbled out of the car on the tail end of our 12 hour trip.  I watched as they said, Hello I missed you to their childhood  home.  But I still felt disconnected.

The next day, we waited eagerly for Daddy to come home from his conference.  The kids drew with ice cubes on the sidewalk and I watched from the shade of the porch, as we kept a lookout for his little red rice burner.  Finally, it appeared around the corner, and we all jumped up as he pulled into the driveway.

I was the first one in his arms.  And in his arms, I was finally home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Taking Some Time

Hello my friends,

The kids and I are taking a week long vaca, heading across to the state next door to spend some time with the grandparents.  I probably won't be posting much for the next several days, unless the inspiration hits me - and even then, I'm going to try to resist, because I want to really use this time to work on my manuscript.  So, adios amigos, and see you all on the flip side!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

God Bless America

My first day of high school in America started out with all of us standing, and repeating the Pledge of Allegiance together with the loud speaker.  My heart swelled underneath the hand I had placed over it.  I was filled with a sudden, fierce pride and gladness to belong here.  To this day, that feeling of pride and gladness still comes over me when I repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.

America really is a beautiful country.  I'm not talking about the landscape, although she boasts wide plains, high mountains, the Grand Canyon, numerous rivers, lakes, streams, Yosemite, Yellow Stone, Niagara Falls. I'm talking about the people.  America's people are beautiful.  I love all the blended colors, cultures, and yes, languages, that come together to make our country what she is.  I love the fierce determination, hard working spirit and generous hearts of our people.  I love what our country stands for:  liberty, and justice for all.

God Bless America.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Control? Or Trust?

I've been thinking a lot about my miscarriages lately.  When they first happened, I blanked them from my mind. Just forget, get over it, move on.  Then, months later, guilt started creeping up.  What if I had done this differently?  Should I have done that?  And now, most recently, comes an understanding.

People like to think that if they do x, y, and z, if they live their lives according to whatever checklist, then good things will come their way.  God will bless them.  It makes sense.  I mean, you hear all the time, God wants to bless you.  So if I don't perceive that I'm being blessed, I must be doing something to get in His way.

Only, in my reality, life doesn't work that way.  Good people die from cancer.  Bad people keep on living to screw up more lives.  I lose my baby.  Another girl smokes meth through the first trimester and into the second, and the baby's born healthy.

It's even more frustrating because this body, this tent that I live in, is mine.  Or so I think.  I feed it, I exercise it, I've lived in it for three decades.  I know it pretty well.  So when a baby starts growing inside of you, and then suddenly stops growing for no apparent reason, it's hard to take that you didn't do something to cause it.  Or couldn't have done anything to prevent it.

But I didn't cause the miscarriages.  And I couldn't have prevented them.  So there you have it.  Where can I go from here, this place of recognition that I have absolutely no control over this thing we call life?  I can't cause life, I can't will it into existence.

This understanding that I'm not in control has led to a deeper understanding that the only One in control is God.  He gives.  He takes away.  He is God in Heaven.  I'm not.  I don't understand why He does things, or allows things to happen.  But it's not my place to question Him, any more than it is my kids' place to question me, when I can see so much more clearly through my greater experience and knowledge.

So the question then becomes, do I trust Him?  Do I trust Him when my baby dies?  Do I trust Him when my dear friend dies from cancer, leaving three teenagers?  Do I trust Him with my present circumstances and my future plans?  Do I, in other words, have faith.

How about you?  Do you control?  Or trust?

(edited to add August 2013) ---
I'm digging around my blog, looking for old posts about my miscarriages, when I came across this one.  It still rings very true to my heart, except for the last bit, where I wrote, 'it's not my place to question Him'.  I used to believe this, but I have come in  my journey to a place where questioning is an important and valuable part of my faith.  I don't think God sits back when I ask him, 'Why' and says, 'How dare you question or doubt ME?!'  God can see more clearly, and dwelling on the 'why' too much can lead down a dark road of guilt and shame, but I don't want to discount the importance of the freedom to question and doubt.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Awakening to the Day

I woke up this morning to this status update on my newsfeed:
gratitude list:  my children, their great schools and teachers, our home smelling of back-to-school blueberry muffins, my hubby's hard work, my savior-jesus, health, espresso, water to drink, knowing gods word is true, work, friends and sleep with dreams.
For some reason (maybe the mention of espresso, blueberry muffins, and dreams?), this brought to mind morning time on Luaniua.

I would wake every morning to the shake-shake-shake of our house, rocking on its stilts as the family started to stir.  Mom coming from the rain tank outside with a pot of water, heading towards the single Bunsen burner where she did all her cooking.  The subsequent click, click, click, wooooosh as it caught flame.

It was up to us to get our business done before Mom had breakfast on the table.  The day would officially start after we had all gathered around the Formica-covered plywood that was bolted to the wall of our veranda on hinges, raised during the day to save room.  The veranda, running across the front of the house, was barely 8 feet wide.  At breakfast and dinner, we unlatched the table from the wall, lowered it on its hinges, and clustered around it on canvas chairs and stools made from upturned buckets.

I crawled down the ladder of my loft, and headed out the door to take care of my 'morning business'.  The sun was just peeking through the coconut trees, rising into a sky that was already so deep you could get lost in it.  There were rustlings from the hut next to ours.  A sleepy baby cried before being put to breast.  Chickens were scratching in the gravel path.  Smoke was filtering through the thatched roofs of the huts, the air heavy with the scent of morning cook fires and dew.

I traveled down the familiar path to the beach, relishing as I did every time the moment of breakthrough when the last stand of trees parted and the ocean lay before me.  Cool still from the night, a soft breeze swept off the water to greet me, its clean, salty scent awakening my senses to the day.

Connected By Loss

Most TCKs feel alone, but we're connected by our shared experiences of loss.

I came across a fledgling blog the other day.  It's written by another TCK, and, curious, I stopped to read a while.  Soon (very soon), I was pulled in by 'iTCK's' raw, heartfelt writing.

What I love about this blog is that its author is (or could have been) ... me ... a few years ago.  She is just starting her journey to healing and wholeness, trying to make sense of her experiences and multiple transitions in her life.

Here's a snippet from a post titled, 'Loss':
It's amazing how much a simple, material item, can mean so, so much.  My parents recently removed a couch from my room that I had always known was only a temporary establishment.  But when it actually came to them removing the item I felt another piece of me, somehow taken by that event.  I keep thinking, I always knew this would happen, and, we need the money so selling this will profit everyone.  But my thoughts keep turning back to the loss. 
Loss.  No matter material, like the couch that I just lost, or friendships or the physical aspect of moving from one space to another as so many TCK's experience - hurts.  We all grow and handle the situation in our own way but loss, in whatever light you put it in, is loss.  
If you're interested in more, you can find her at  Go check her out!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Media Monday - 'Big Brother' Week 8

Welcome to what used to be called, 'Netflix Movie Monday'.  This is where I review a movie / TV show / documentary that I have discovered, found interesting, and want to share.  As Big Brother is my annual summer time obsession, and it's on three times a week, Media Monday will be dedicated to BB recaps while the show airs.

Sunday, August 28 - Head of Household Competition, Nomination Ceremony

After last Thursday's crazy double eviction episode left the house guests reeling, Porsche comes out on top winning HoH.  Jordan and Rachel, the last remaining vets, all but give up hope since they are now outnumbered four to two, and don't have the power.  Jordan is deeply hurt by Shelly's backstabbing vote to evict Jeff, and goes off on him.  I was proud of her - it's the first time in two seasons I've seen a real, strong emotion from her.  Shelly is turning out to be a real snake, but I understand her wanting to split up Jeff and Jordan.  There's no way either one would take Shelly to the final two if it were Jeff, Jordan, and Shelly in the final three.   Couples are dangerous in the game of Big Brother!
Pandora's Box was reintroduced into the house, and of course Porsche decided to open it.  She won $10,000 to share with a friend (she chooses Kalia), but unleashed the couple's twist back onto the house for one week.  Jordan and Rachel are ecstatic, because it means that if they get put up on the block, and one of them wins the power of veto, BOTH of them are safe!
Porsche nominates Jordan and Rachel anyway, despite the couple's twist.

Wednesday, August 31 - Veto Competition and Ceremony

The Veto competition is an endurance challenge, where the house guests have to hold onto a dummy with the face of their old partner while suspended in the air.  Porsche has to hold onto a dummy with Keith's face and says if she never wants to have to see him again in her life.  Which is funny because she thought flirting with him was the way to get ahead in the game!
Rachel wins.  "I looooove to wrap my legs around my man!"  Ugh.
At the Veto ceremony, Rachel uses her PoV to take herself and Jordan off the block.  Porsche nominates Adam and Shelly, the only remaining couple, to replace them.

Thursday, September 1 - Live Eviction Ceremony, Head of Household Competition

Shelly does some major scrambling, promising everything from being Jordan and Rachel's total slave, to giving Rachel her (fake) diamond ring, but it doesn't save her.  Rachel and Jordan  are out for revenge, and vote to evict Shelly at the live eviction ceremony.
The Head of Household competition gets underway.  The house guests have to wade through an obstacle course to deliver donuts from one side of the yard to another.  It looks like hard work.  We are left with yet another cliff hanger, as the house guests battle it out for HoH.  But wait!!  If you pay the subscription price of $14.99,  you can watch how the competition plays out on CBS's online, live feed.  Aaaaand that's how I'm convinced the show makes it's real money.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Very, Very, Very Fine House

The first sound on the periphery of my awareness was the fussing of a rooster.  Its preemptive squawking was accompanied by a chorus of clucking and beating wings.  I opened my eyes.  The assaulting sun pin pricked a diamond pattern through the filtering mat wall at the foot of my bed.  Three feet from me, my sister was a huddled mound on her loft bed.

The bedroom we shared, a scant 9 feet by 9 feet square, also doubled as our home's library and pantry.  Anna and I each had our own loft bed, built three feet apart into opposite walls and elevated to fit a desk and a storage crate under each, with a foam sleeping pad on top.  This was where I did my school work, and kept my clothing and personal things.  I had glued some little erasers a supporter in the States had sent us in a row along the 2x4 beam that served double duty as wall frame and shelf for my desk.  The little rubber rainbows and unicorns kept me company as I worked on long division and adverbs.

The wall that didn't have my sister's and my beds against it was delegated to our significant book collection. Picture books filled the bottom three lumber shelves, followed by four shelves of paperback novels.  This treasure trove was right at the foot of my bed.  Every morning, L.M. Montgomery, Madeline L'Engle, Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Daniel Defoe, Jean Craighead George, Gary Paulson, along with scores of others, would greet me like so many old friends.  I considered myself lucky to have 'the bed with the library'.  My sister's ladder abutted the food safe, a screened box where we kept our leftovers.

The interior mat walls in our house rose only 9 feet, with boxes of canned goods and supplies stacked on the shelves running across the top of them.  Here was everything we would need over the six months we stayed in the village.  As the months drew out, the piles of boxes next to the roof dwindled, until finally the ship arrived at the island to carry us back to Honiara.  Christmas and birthday presents were hid here too, bought months in advance and smuggled out to the village.  For this reason, we weren't allowed to climb up to the rafters and explore the shelves.

Sometimes we did, anyway.  We had a game resembling 'tag', where we would chase each other around the house.  The only rule was you couldn't put your feet on the floor.  Up and over walls we would climb, spider-walking from one beam to the next.  The entire house would sway on its stilts until Mom got back from the beach and put a stop to it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 Goals Revisited: September

Who out there was wondering if I'd abandoned my goals??  I have to confess something:  I did.  For three months.  Well, not all of my goals, but some of them, and I also abandoned blogging about them.  Why?  I needed a break from the pressure to perform.  I needed some breathing room.  I needed a summer vacation.  So I took a vacation from the two goals that are the most work for me - my writing, and my exercise/weight loss.  This summer I focused in on my family and marriage.  Here's an assessment of where I'm at now:

1.  Focus on Scott

Our small group is doing a marriage study right now called Boundaries in Marriage. It has been incredible.  Going over the curriculum at the beginning of the summer, I have to admit I had some major reservations about getting into it, mostly because some of the topics discussed hit way too close for comfort.  I was very happy where I was at, thankyouverymuch.  No need to go stirring all the ugly up!  But let me tell you, I am so happy we are doing this study.  Scott and I have gone to a completely new level in our marriage.  I highly recommend this study, but only if you have the courage to look at your own 'ugly' face to face!
Here's a clip:

My grade for this goal:  "A+" for all the hard work!!

2.  Focus on Sophie and Xander

All summer long, the kids and I hung out.  We swam.  We played.  We went to the library and then ate picnic lunches underneath the cottonwood trees outside.  This summer turned out to be a beautiful time of bonding for us.

3.  Focus on our family

We milked the family time during the long, lazy days of summer, as well.  We took several day trips to the near-by 'big city', got ice cream cones at Sonic after dinner, swam for hours.  We went through two boxes of Otter Pops, watched the city fireworks from our driveway, watched God's fireworks from our driveway.
"A +"

4.  Focus on my writing

Meh.  I was pretty sporadic this summer about keeping up the blog.  Some months I did awesome, some months I hardly wrote at all.  The reason?  I just needed a BREAK from the pressure of having to produce, to perform.  I have to say, it was pretty nice!
I'm giving myself a solid "C", for not giving up all together.

5.  Focus on my body

Wait, what?  This was a goal?  Yes, I must sadly report that I ran only sporadically this summer.  I did pilates even less often.  The majority of the exercise I got (if any), was swimming.  I made a point to tread water for 15 - 20 minutes every time I got in the pool.  Still, I gained 6 lbs, and am now back out of my goal weight range.  So, it's back on the diet for me (which I really have missed, no matter how yummy that ice cream with homemade fudge sauce may be, because the diet really does make me feel better).  My alarm is set for 5:00 am, and I am determined to work my running endurance back up!
"F"  (the most enjoyable "F" I have ever earned, might I add)