Ten More Years!

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Ten years ago today I did the smartest thing I’ve ever done…

I married my husband Scott Shriner on a deserted beach in Kauai, during a half-cloudy sunset, with a double rainbow above our heads.

I was SO stressed out because we had gotten rained out two days in a row. Remember the days things like rain in Hawaii would stress you out? Remember being that young and that much of a dumbass? Oh, for three rainy days alone in Hawaii with my husband now. I’m not scared of the rain anymore…

In fact, I’m no longer shaken by most of the things that rattled me back in the day. I used to think that my first novel not getting published would kill me (it didn’t). Also, I used to think you can get anything you want if you just try hard enough (you can’t). I thought I was soooo busy (I wasn’t). I used to think we’d get pregnant roughly five and a half seconds after that beautiful, borrowed dress was hanging back in the closet (we didn’t, we got our perfect son instead).

Here are some things I knew then that I still know now…

I knew that I would never tire of looking at Scott’s face at the end of the day. I knew he was an honest and good man, with integrity and courage. I knew that if the zombies ever did finally come, I was exactly on the right team. I knew I stood taller and stronger when I walked into a room holding his hand. I knew he would always make me laugh. I knew he’d be a remarkable father. I knew we’d never see eye to eye about electronic equipment. I knew I should just let him get the gigantic TV because really it isn’t all that important in light of that fact that my favorite part of every day is lying in bed with my head on his shoulder and dreaming, hoping, gossiping, complaining…all of it. I knew that this was the person I wanted to do this life thing with. That this was my witness and my love.

I guess I wasn’t such a dumbass after all.

Honey, I am so glad that in a life full of monumentally bad decision making, I did this one thing, the most important thing, so very right.

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and joy this morning for our beautiful life together, for every peak and valley we’ve traveled hand-in-hand along the way.

Ten more years? What do you say?

 

 

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Cyborg Dinosaur Island

Tariku wrote, directed, starred in, and scored (with a little help) this movie. All the percussion you hear is him playing! We’ve been working on it on and off for a year now. It’s definitely had its challenging moments, but overall the experience was such a blast, not to mention a terrific family experience with Project Based Learning.

It’s about two rival cyborg dinosaur brothers, who find connection and redemption through rock and roll. I love the message of using art to creatively express difficult emotions.

Hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it! Let us know what you think!

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Baby J: The Sequel

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Baby J. came to stay with us again, for a week this time. Yesterday morning I kissed him on the head and buckled him into someone else’s car seat and watched him drive away.

Afterwards, God and I had a big long chat and let me tell you, it was not polite. I won’t reveal the exact content, but I will say there was lots of swearing involved.

When Scott and I got the call that Baby J. needed a week of respite care, we looked at each other with less of a sense of adventure and curiosity this go around. After the baby left us last time, I felt like someone had disemboweled me with a butter knife. I pulled the car over to cry about every seven minutes for two whole weeks.

We knew that the phone call basically translated to: “Would you like to take this baby and not sleep for a week, until everyone gets cranky and starts snapping at each other-because you’re taking care of a baby and babies are annoying, even awesome ones. Oh, and this baby is particularly awesome and you will fall madly in love with him and then he will leave you and you may never see him again. Whaddaya say?”

Well, shucks, yeah! We thought you’d never ask!

Of course, we said yes.

We had such a fun week with him! We hung out and made little drum beats with him for hours on Tariku’s old toy drums. We took him to the school carnival. He brought the house down at Whole Foods with his epic cuteness- I could barely get my shopping done. And we all got grouchy and stressed and sleep deprived and sick with baby cooties. All that good baby stuff.

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And then we said goodbye, again. And I cried a lot a lot, again.

I’ve been thinking about how to model dealing with loss. I really like plans, so I tried to come up with one, but I just couldn’t. It all happened so fast and we were in survival mode. So instead, I simply told Tariku the only way through loss is through it. We cry and have our feelings and hold each other and talk to each other and take care of each other when we’re not strong. And we breathe and breathe and get up again the next morning and make breakfast. And everything eventually changes- it doesn’t hurt this much forever.

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I’ve been thinking of the nannies in Tariku’s orphanage: tireless, strong-armed, their heads covered in blue kerchiefs- who held and bathed and fed my son, and showered him with love. They kissed and kissed his face, even though they knew the day would come that they would likely never see it again.

There were also the anonymous women who held me for the five days in between when I was born and when my family came to adopt me. For five days, someone I will never thank held and loved me.

I tried to look at this time with Baby J. as my thanks to them. With every round of our “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” I did my best to honor their strength and generosity of spirit.

And I breathed and got up this morning and walked past the empty space where the pack-and-play was the day before. And I made breakfast.

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The Last Five First Days

I did a little round up of the last five first days of school…

  1. 2010. I loved his little outfit here. He lasted exactly 4 days at his first preschool. He was not, as the director put it, “Ready to contract when the group contracted.” Which is hippie language for sit still during story and snack. He was definitely more of an expander than a contractor. There were tears. Mostly mine.

 

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2. 2011. This year he was an honors student at the School of Life! Mostly because he’d bite ya. A lot. So school-school wasn’t so much his thing.

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3. 2012. The first year he lasted! We finally found him the right school and he’s still there. It was a rocky year but he got a toehold and it’s been getting better and better ever since.

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3. 2013. Kindergarten.  He had one of those miraculous life-changing teachers who helped him turn the corner. Thank God for gifted teachers who cherish the kids that need a little extra help, and just shower them with love. She believed in him and he shone. fd2013

4. 2014. First grade. Another great, nurturing teacher and a year with much progress.

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5. 2015. Today folks. Second grade. Bless him. Look at that face.

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I can remember each of these days so clearly. Mostly because we were so worried about him. Transitions are Tariku’s toughest thing, and back-to-school is a seismic shift. In the past, the resulting tremors have shook our home to its very foundation. For years, he came home from school ricocheting off the walls. There were daily talks with his teacher. We thought the rest of our lives were pretty much going to be spent in a parent-teacher conference, like we were stuck in some existentialist play: You just think you’re at back-to-school night, but really you’ve died and gone to hell and you’re never leaving.

But Tariku went off for his first day of second grade today, and on the ride home, Scott and I were pinching each other. “Did you see how he walked in there like a champ?” “Did you see how he said welcome to the new girl?” Did you notice he didn’t say anything bizarre or inappropriate?” “Did you notice his body was pretty calm?”

I’m actually not surprised it went so smoothly. I’ve suspected this year is going to be different. Yesterday he woke me up at five in the morning and said, “I’m nervous for my first day of second grade.” He crawled into bed and we cuddled. I told him it was totally normal and fine to be nervous and that he was brave and I was proud of him. We talked about some of the things he likes at school- his friends, playing bounceball, pizza day etc. This little scene may seem totally mundane, but it signals something is changing for Tariku. It’s a huge leap for him to identify anxious feelings and talk about them.

Then we Googled dinosaurs for what seemed like 11 hours and when I looked up it was somehow only 7am. I’m really ready for school to start.

I’ll still be biting my nails until the pick-up, but mostly I’m heaving a huge sigh of gratitude. As if I’ve been holding my breath for five years, and I’m finally allowed to breathe out. How lucky we are for all the help we’ve received along the way. How blessed we are with this amazing kid, who teaches us every day about healing and hope.