Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Photo: Photobucket

I’ve been having such strange dreams lately. The other morning I woke from a dream in which I was trying to take a picture of PepperKitty as he ate clown confetti sprinkles in the street. The camera kept taking what I was focusing on in the middle of the shot and sort of “throwing” it ahead 200 yards so it couldn’t really be seen. I have no idea why I was dreaming something like that, but the clown confetti sprinkles comes from the decorations on a cake Timmy received last Friday from the people who run a camp during the summer that he and Ryan attended. (Isn’t that sweet? They like to keep in touch during the rest of the year, so they come by now and then, even on birthdays!)

Sometimes these dreams are so real, you wake from them and feel like something really happened. You feel the fear or irritation or confusion or happiness, and sometimes physical sensations, just as if they really happened. You know they didn’t.

So, yesterday my weird dream was that Phil and I were bank robbers, and we went in first thing in the morning, ostensibly to rob this bank. He held the gun on the teller while I waited for the money. She came up with almost nothing, and the teller next to her came over and brought her till’s contents, a ten dollar bill. Two other tellers came up with fistfuls of change. I was holding a white envelope open so they could put the loot, and I use that term lightly, in the envelope.

I remember thinking, Wow, this definitely was the wrong time to rob them; they don’t have enough cash this early in the day.

Now don’t go looking for my photo on  the Most Wanted posters; I’m not going to be robbing banks any time soon. At least not at that time of the day. For $11.47, it just ain’t worth the trouble. I could probably come up with more than that in between the couch cushions.

The night before that, I had a dream that we were Amish, but Phil needed more money to support the family, so he was going to take on this job as a trucker. He took me out in an eighteen wheeler to show me the route he would be driving, and it was supposedly extremely dangerous. The route was along a highway, and the pavement went up and down, very hilly, but also had hairpin curves in it. Bad enough, eh?

Well the highway wasn’t on solid ground; it was like a very long rickety wooden bridge with hurricane force winds making it move all over. It just looked like a regular highway. As Phil’s showing me the route, and we’re barreling down it at breakneck speed, I was holding on, terrified, thinking, We don’t need money that badly, do we?? We Amish, we good with the earth, ain’t so?

I was so scared I almost peed myself. Almost. And then I woke up. Maybe it was the moisture on the sheets. ;)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My Messy House

My darlings. <3

The other night, I was in the kitchen getting something, and of course, as a mom, seeing the mess and clutter. It was late, and I was so tired, and lately a lot of health issues have been acting up, making life a little more difficult. As well as the ever-present insomnia. Blah. Made me feel so insufficient and inept.

So on Timothy's birthday, as I stood in the kitchen and looked around, feeling my pain and exhaustion and seeing the things that needed to be done, this poem came to me. Seriously, this is exactly what happens; a poem comes to me in a flash, and I literally scramble to find pen and paper to get it down before it disappears.

So, here it is, without further ado. What I learned through the "flash poem" that I myself believe God gifted me with, was that He wants to teach me that I am who He created me to be; I am doing what He has called me to be; and I am doing my best, with what I am dealing with, which is what He gave me Himself to begin with. And it is enough.

My Messy House

My house is a mess,
No silverware clean;
The laundry piled up
By the washing machine. 
The pans on the stove
Are crusty and cold,
While a bowl in the fridge
Slowly grows mold.
Cobwebs in corners 
And pillows on floors;
Smears on the mirrors 
And smudges on doors.
I look at all this,
Wondering what I should do;
But seeing my kids
Always gives me a clue:
I’ll make them some supper, 
It’s pizza tonight!
Have them all help me
And to my delight,
I’ll hear them all chatter
Like little grey squirrels;
Believe it or not,
The boys more than the girls!
We’ll cook it together
And as if with a wand,
I’ll forget all the mess,
For I’m building a bond. 

~VJC 10.24.13~

I love you, Megan Heather, Caitlin Elizabeth, Ryan Anthony, and Timothy Richard. <3

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah

I had been listening to some Damien Rice yesterday, one of my favorite singers/songwriters, and while his tribute, singing Hallelujah, was is just not Leonard Cohen singing Hallelujah. 

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the meaning behind the words of this song, whether it’s religious, spiritual, or just plain sexual. 

What does the songwriter himself have to say about the meaning of his song Hallelujah?

 "This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can ... reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that's what I mean by 'Hallelujah.'" -Leonard Cohen.

Exactly true and what the song has always meant to me. All you need to do is listen to the words. 

Sometimes I feel like I’ve made so many mistakes in my life, and a sense of hopelessness at times would weigh down on me, on my very heart and soul, like a concrete block. It’s a burden I’m convinced God doesn’t want us to carry. 

A scripture that has meant a lot to me over the years is Ps. 103:14: “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” God doesn’t expect us to be perfect; He knows how human we are. 

And when we make mistakes and do mess things up, God is there. He is there to pick up the pieces and forgive us, and tell us to move on from there. He offers us grace, and mercy, so that even though it seems we’ve failed at so much, made such a mess of things, we can go on, move forward, and start another day anew. 

Because while we can’t fix things, while we can’t change what has been done…HE can “restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.” Joel 2:25. 

Reconciliation, redemption, forgiveness, restoration, love, grace, mercy….

We can say “Hallelujah.” 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Love Doesn't Count Chromosomes"

Okay, I know it's late, and maybe no one will understand, but...I needed to reply to an email including info about my daughter Megan. So in explaining something, I was mentioning the world renowned Down syndrome expert, Dr. Siegfreid Pueschel, who diagnosed Megan on the day of her birth and followed her for many years at Rhode Island Hospital. I wanted to make sure I spelled his last name correctly, so of course I Googled it, and it was then that I discovered that Dr. Pueschel died a month ago. I felt like I had been punched in the gut.

Dr. Pueschel gave me my first book about children with Down syndrome, the very one that he himself wrote. It was such a special gift to me, especially knowing that he himself had a son with Down syndrome, Christian. Years later, I then gave it to a friend in Romania who had a child with DS younger than mine, who had no real information or help in her country to raise or help her child with DS.

Photo: Saving Down Syndrome

Dr. Pueschel gave himself 110% to the cause of educating the world about people with Down syndrome and trying to gain the world's acceptance of people with this "disability."

The fact that his own son had Down syndrome meant so much to me. The fact that I looked at his beautiful son in Dr. Pueschel's book meant so much to me.

He was passionate about teaching the world to understand and love those with DS. To realize that having Down syndrome is not a's a blessing. There are things we can only learn through being in contact with a person who has Down syndrome, or any other disability.

A year old
Like true patience. True acceptance. True love. Life in what I have often called “the scenic route” since my daughter Megan’s birth, is a lesson in what it means to truly love. I don’t always succeed in the patience…but you can bet that my love for my daughter Megan is so fierce and strong, that I would lay down my life for her and fight for her like a rabid dog.

Age 2 1/2

Dr. Pueschel, crusader for people with Down syndrome, impacted my life in a way no one else could have. Chris Burke, actor with Down syndrome who starred in the television series Life Goes On, was another. I had the wonderful opportunity of listening to Chris Burke speak at a seminar of a Down syndrome organization, along with his parents. Chris wrote his own speech and gave it, and it was wonderful, inspiring, and enlightening. I later had the pleasure of speaking with Chris, and of course, posing for a photo.

Singing in the homeschool
group choir.

But the person who has most impacted my life in the world of Down syndrome, is, of course, my very own daughter, Megan Heather. She is the one who, while in my womb for all those months, had the hiccups a bazillion times a day. She is the one who alerted the nurses, not the doctor, after her birth, that she was suspected of having Down syndrome. She was my first child, and I had just turned 23. I never expected to be given the news that my child had Down syndrome.

But then again…

I never expected to laugh as my baby splayed her arms and legs out like an airplane and blew raspberries while doing so.

I never expected to watch as my baby, then two and a half years old, took her first steps as my own mother captured it on her camcorder. And I felt like I was on cloud nine at the amazing accomplishment.

I never expected that I would put a final diaper on my four and a half year old child for the last time during the day…and celebrate her mastery of daytime continence.

Cooking with me.
I never expected that I would clap and celebrate as my child would say a complete sentence, with mostly real words and hardly any “nonsense” words, at age 6. And call to share the news with my family and friends.

I never expected that when my daughter was ten and a half, she would finally be toilet trained at night and I would cancel the running order for adult diapers from the medical supply company.

I never expected that seeing my child ride a bike…

or catch a ball…

or draw a “flower person” …

or walk up or down the stairs herself…

or buckle her own seatbelt…

or memorize bible verses…

or pour her own drink…

would excite me beyond words and thrill me so.

I just never expected to learn about true love the way I did, through my sweet beautiful daughter, Megan Heather. I love her so! I love my other children too; Caitlin Elizabeth, Ryan Anthony, and Timothy Richard. But there is no denying it; there are just some lessons that I could only have learned through the blessed gift of being Megan’s mother.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. Think about what a bare and bland place this world would be if there were no people with Down syndrome. I’m sure you must know someone blessed with it. Go hug them. “Like” a Facebook page dedicated to educating about and celebrating people with Down syndrome. Read about Dr. Pueschel and the wonderful work he did in his life, and comment on his Facebook page:

Megan doing one of her favorite things:
playing with her dollhouse people. <3

Other links you may enjoy:

Monday, October 14, 2013

School, Toilets, and Purses

Last night I had a dream that I was searching for the perfect purse. I’m not sure exactly what I had in mind, but I do know that I was trying to get something with colors that would go well with the colors of the clothing I wore, and I didn’t want it to be too big. In real life I’m very particular about what kind of purse I buy, and I was no less particular in the dream. When I do buy a purse, I use it for years until it finally gasps and gives up the ghost and I go buy a new one.

In my dream, I looked at dozens and dozens of purses. It seemed that everywhere I turned, more would be hanging on racks or sitting on display shelves. I found several that would have gone well with what I was wearing, which was some garish mish-mash of aqua, salmon, red, and dark blue. But then there would be something about them that didn’t measure up. Too small and practically a coin holder,  large enough to fit a family of four inside (with pockets for the cat and dog), no strap (I hate clutches), broken zipper.

Suddenly I came upon a smallish purse that was in the shape of a backpack, and it had a cute cloth doll attached. The purse was bright grass-green, with yellow straps, and the doll wore the same color green dress with an elf’s hat atop her blond braids. A tag proclaimed her name to be Mary Kate. I stood there holding this outlandish thing, and the doll looked so cute, I decided this was the one for me. But I couldn’t find a price tag anywhere on it.

I put it back on the rack and went to find someone who could help me, but by the time I got back to the rack with a store clerk in tow, my precious find was nowhere to be found. I looked all over for another, but it wasn’t to be.

Then I woke up and marveled at the clarity with which I remembered this strange dream. Sometimes I wake from a dream and can only grasp little snippets of it, or even just a general sense of the atmosphere of a dream: weird but not scary; pleasant; nightmare-trapping-me-in-bed-with-paralyzing-fear; you get the idea.

Photo: Acid Cow
What I've found common in my dreams is that I dream about school. A lot.  And last year was my 30th reunion. So one would think I’d be past school dreams by now. Nope. I dream that I’m trying to find my class and can’t, or I can’t find my locker, or I finally find the right class, but I can’t find the right page in the textbook. And then usually I’ll be sitting in class listening to the teacher, when suddenly I realize I’m in my underwear and bra. Everyone else is clothed and in their right mind except for me! Well, the “right minds” bit might not exactly be true. ;)

So I quickly start throwing a shirt on, which seems to evaporate the second it makes contact with my body, and try to inconspicuously pull on pants or a skirt. Usually I end up going to the lavatory, but as I’m sitting on the “throne” in the stall, the walls suddenly are not there and people are walking by me as if it’s perfectly normal to have a woman sitting on a toilet in the midst of a crowd. Mm-hmm.

The other night I did have a school dream that strayed from the normal path mine usually take, though. I dreamt that I was my age now, and in my senior year of high school, and it was the weekend. I was in the house with my mother, and I told her that I was going to take Monday off from school. She said okay, but then I suddenly realized that I haven’t done any homework in so long (years, literally, haha!) and I’m scared to even show up in class without it all. And if I take a day off from school, I’ll be even further behind. What if I don’t graduate?? I’ll have to go to summer school just to get my diploma. A 48 year old sitting at a desk in summer school!

Then I woke up. And realized it was just a dream, I wasn’t back in school again, I did graduate, yada yada. My heart rate slowed down, and it hit me: I dreamed, therefore I slept! Yippy skippy! I got some sleep!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Some Fone Fun

1973 (Photo: Rico Shen)

Cell phones…sometimes it seems as if they’ve always been in our lives. They certainly have made my life easier; I can’t imagine what I’d do without mine. It’s funny to think that they haven’t really been around that long; prior to the 90’s the cell phone as we know it didn’t really exist. Unless you count the portable phones that made it look like you were holding a small boom box to your ear and talking to it. ;)

Timothy recently asked me how old I was when I got my first cell phone. I had told him that a nine year old didn’t need one, so he asked the question, probably hoping he could use that against my argument that he was too young. “I was about 40,” I replied. Timmy wasn’t thrilled with that answer.

1984 (Photo: Nokia)
Lately Caitlin’s biggest botheration in life has been the troubles she’s had with her newest cell phone. She had gotten a  Straight Talk model after doing a lot of research for the one with features she wanted. It was great for a few months, but then the port in the phone for the charger plug refused to work, so her phone kept dying. She contacted the company and was issued a replacement, which turned out to be a refurbished one. That’s their policy, and I think it’s unacceptable, but what can you do?

Well, the replacement phone had a problem. No one could hear her when she called anyone. So she went through the rigamarole again and was to receive a replacement for the replacement. All the while, which lasted weeks and weeks, she plugged along using her old Tracfone and texting, buying a minimum of minutes to avoid shelling out any more money than she had to. Today was the day her replacement phone was to come in the mail, and she was so anxious for it.

1997 & 2011 (Photo: Ben Schumin)

This afternoon she texted me from work asking if it had come in. Phil and I, being tired and generally in a silly mood, decided to have a little fun with her. We love goofing on our kids; it’s one of the pleasures we share this late in our lives, and doesn’t the Good Book say that a merry heart doeth good like a medicine? We’re hoping to live a little longer and if messing with the kids helps, then we’re up to the challenge. ;)

Here is how it went:

Caity: Hey, have u noticed my fone? ;O

Me & Phil: Guess what? A brown box showed up. Phil sat on it by mistake. So we gave it 2 the neighbor’s dog. Sorry. 


Me & Phil: We really really r sorry. We don’t think it woulda worked anyway. 2 make up 4 it, we’ll give u a mint, a tootsie pop and a hair elastic that was stuck to it, & a nickel. Phil doesn’t think he can catch the dog.

Caity: :( I don’t want that stuff. :(

Me & Phil: But it’s the best we can do. Unless u want 2 tin cans & a long string.

Me & Phil: O wait, I c Phil now…he did get the box, but the dog is still attached 2 it.

Caity: Haha just brush the dog off. ;)

Me & Phil: That’s gonna b a little difficult. It’s a Mastiff. U can just consider him 2 b the toy that comes with the Happy Meal.

She didn’t respond.

Oh well, Phil and I were in a fit of giggles over it. At least we know we’ve taken our medicine today. ;)

Caity with the replacement's replacement