Sunday, October 31, 2010

Writing his own script...

After 10 years of Halloweens with Nolan, we've finally figured out how the "script" will play out.  But man, we've taken our lumps along the way.  Nothing spoke epic fail to me as a parent, as did halloweens of our past... 

Ironically, his first Halloween was probably the smoothest.  As young parents, we just didn't know it yet. He was a pumpkin his first Halloween.  But due to the time change?  When it finally got dark outside at 6 o'clock, he fell ASLEEP and promptly missed the whole thing. We were so disappointed. He sure made a cute chub-cheeked pumpkin, too bad nobody got to see him.  


By the next Halloween I was newly pregnant with Colton and in the throes of "all day"  sickness.   We decided on an impromptu visit to Minnesota and as I type this, all I can think is... "what were you thinking?"  My sister-in-law loaned us a fuzzy lion costume for Nolan. And act like a lion he did! He clawed at it trying to get it off. He howled and whimpered and finally roared until we took it off. Here is the one rather pathetic photo we got of a worn out nauseous mom struggling to hold her little lion cub! Pretty sure I was praying hard for this next baby to be a girl... princesses don't roar, do they?


And so the saga continued. The next year Nolan decided on a Buzz Light Year costume and Missy came to the rescue again providing a tricked out Buzz costume. We practiced every day for a week trying it on and getting used to wearing the costume.  But come Halloween night our little buzz never saw the light of day let alone the outside of our house.  How could we keep getting this so wrong?


I stopped being able to remember exactly which year we finally made it at least around the block once but not without at least two complete meltdowns before we got outside.  I also gave up on taking pictures...   But, then Colton came along. He may not have been the "girl" that I had hoped for, but he was the sweet, flexible, easier temperament that has been a breath of fresh air for us all. And he helped smooth the way. He was the one not afraid to go up and ring the doorbell as Nolan cowered behind him. Little brother led the way and slowly big brother gained in courage.

And as for mom and dad? Well we have grown some very thick skin and a sense of humor.  Last year, Nolan was in rare form. He was ready in his costume by 5:05 pm and although it was light outside, he couldn't understand why we declined to take him just yet.  We told him to watch for the outside house lights to come on and he just couldn't take it any more. He went in the house and took off his costume and proclaimed Halloween OVER. But much to his dismay, mom and dad have now been around the block a time or two and only stood outside laughing.  Within maybe 5 minutes he was dressed again, composed, and ready to go.  

 And Colton, completely oblivious to the shenanigans of his brother, was gleefully happy in his green power ranger costume and without any prompting leapt for joy when the camera was pointed his way. They have such different ways of being in this world. 

Who knows what this year will bring?  Rumor has it that 10 year-olds don't always go trick or treating anymore.  And suddenly, that idea feels okay with me.  Instead of the script we tried for years to get him to follow,  he is writing his own.   

What does your Halloween script look like?  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


The boys call him dad. But Superman might be just as fitting.

His cape, once resting across shoulders easily 80 miles wide, has only continued to widen over the years. Oh it's tarnished, weathered, frayed at the edges. It's lost its luster. But its protective qualities never fail.

Just last week, it stretched again, when he saw the disappointed look on another dad's face who was too strapped for money, to sign his son up for sports. He recognized the crestfallen look, the lines of worry and stress, the burden this dad must feel. He lifted a tiny bit of that weight, paving the way for the boy to play sports this winter. Superman did so, anonymously, with no fanfare, and just a hint of his Clark Kent glasses peeking from his pocket.  He'll even be a bit perturbed at me for telling on him, but I'll take that risk.  

I'm outing him, because most of the time his talents are hidden. He is a behind the scenes kind of person, and enjoys giving the spotlight to others.  He is notably absent in these photos... but really he is there.  He loves us through his lens, his eyes with x-ray vision for our best qualities, even when we make it really hard for him to find the best in us.  







It was the 4th of July when we took these photos at the big tree.  I first took photos and wrote about that very tree here, the day our beloved Dakota passed away a little over a year ago.   Little did we know, the second time we visited the same tree, just over 24 hours later, my father would pass away. 

Even Superman's super powers could not shield us from the sadness and loss, his cape seemingly inadequate at that time, although those 80 mile wide shoulders were leaned on heavily by me.   But months later, while searching for these photos, I found a hidden treasure...  3 videos he took of Dad on this same July 4th afternoon. I'd thought they perished when the old Mac died on us. But the files were just hidden, thoughtfully tucked away on an external drive, left for me to find, exactly when I would need them the most.  Superman strikes again...


This time it was right before my eyes, in plain sight.  You see, that "S" on Superman's chest? That "S" on the shield is actually Kryptonian for the word "Hope."   

I'm joining a new link party today over at "the habit of being."  If you haven't met Amanda, you really should. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear boys,

Dear boys,

I can't believe I am going to say this, but I loved going to parent-teacher conferences this year.  In the past I've been a little worried about some of the things I might hear.  But year after year those concerns have been largely unfounded.  Sometimes as parents, we need to be reminded of all the things you have accomplished and achieved, instead of focusing on how much you have yet to master.

Nolan, your teacher thought you were a conscientious learner, a role model for other students, an enthusiastic learner and an all around great kid. She pointed out two test scores that seemed representative of you, and one lower one she explained with "he must have just had a bad day, because this isn't the Nolan I know." Perfect, I love when someone gets you. I hope you know how lucky you are to have Mrs. R for a teacher, Nolan, and that 4th grade continues to be a great year for you. We are so proud of you.

These pictures sent by our friend Kim, were just icing on the cake. Even though a trip to the zoo became a trip to the park, you seemed to handle the disappointment well, and found it in you to be a good "big brother" to a little girl who looked to you for a little help.  (Btw, could Kenzie be any more darling?)


even though I don't have pictures to accurately portray what a great kid you are, I have a story to share.

It didn't surprise me in the least to hear that you have 100% accuracy on all of your tests so far. School has always come easy to you. But what Mrs. L really focused on? Was how humble you were about it. She says instead of bragging, when you finish with your work, you offer to help the others around you do their work. In fact, the one you help the most is a boy who is nonverbal, and you have taken him under your wing. This boy's name was the first one on your list of "friends" you have in class.  Colton, that means more to me than all the 100 percents combined.

What I really walk away with?  Is how lucky we are to have educators that work so hard at their jobs to foster more than just academic growth and achievement.  It isn't the easiest thing to do, to find the positive aspects to focus on when it comes to some of the challenges our kids present to their teachers.  But they do, year after year.

So even though, boys, I yell at you for leaving the hockey gear in the truck overnight, or get frustrated with the stains in the sink from the "food coloring experiment," please know, underneath it all, who you are becoming is worth it all... every stinky, colorfully stained part of it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

52 card pick-up...

Louie L’Amour once wrote, “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” (Maggie, did a beautiful post incorporating these very words here.)

Do you remember learning the hard way what the card game "52 card pickup" really entailed?  You eagerly accept the chance to play a brand new to you game?  And then you watch, dumbfounded as the cards twirl to the ground in messy disarray, and you picking them up isn't such a fun game to play?  I just remember how obsessed I was in organizing the cards into suits to be sure I had found them all.  Something about cards and order have always married well in my head.

Dad's illness and passing this summer, were like a giant game of 52 card pickup.  After Dad's funeral, I remember how desperately I wanted to get back to my "normal."  The routine of a SAHM and the daily household activities I thought would be a solace somehow to a battered spirit.

But, I am finding lately, my cards won't go back into the deck in their proper order. I was invited to join a mail art group, and envisioned myself sitting at the table creating pieces of mail art to send the world over... except I haven't.  Instead of sitting still for very long, I've found myself wanting to be active, wanting to leave home, instead of stay home.

When the EMHE show came to town, I leapt at the opportunity.  I wanted to do, to be, to have, instead of contentedly watching it all from the sidelines.  Its not my "normal."  

Last weekend we kicked off our hockey season with a hockey social. In the past, I was happy to attend and socialize, but when the music came up and the lights went down, and the floor filled with everyone dancing, I was ready to leave. I'd left that chapter behind, it was finished.

But there I was this last Friday, and I am not saying it was a sight to behold, but I leapt onto the dance floor. I simply wanted to move, to be, to do. So I did. Fleeting images of a former party girl hovered about, as the 80's music I had grown up with, thumped through the floor.

Who is this girl? This woman? I recognize her, but have not been acquainted with her for some time. She grew into this mom who laid down her life and lived for her kids and felt blessed the entire time.  But lately, through this game of 52 pick up, she is seeing a new possibility. What if those cards aren't meant to go back into the deck in the same order?

She watched her oldest take his first communion.  His first step into growing his own relationship with God.  And she was so proud of how willingly he embraced this first stepping stone, this milestone. And this woman knows these steps towards his independence are just a beginning of more new steps towards a life outside of hers. His beginning.


And when her father's grave marker arrived, she went to see his grave now complete.   The grass will fill in over the top of it now and the marker will become scattered with leaves and twigs.  His story of his life on this earth is finished.  The end.  


And what she is realizing, reflecting upon, is this idea.  This is where she will begin.  As T.S. Eliot writes "...the end is where we start from."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Something Beautiful..."

My feet are moving closer to the earth.  My emotions still swirl around like the leaves shedding from the trees when a gust of wind whips by.  The last of the crew from EMHE left yesterday morning.  Its been a full 24 hours now, since I've heard from any of them.

Before that there were calls for rides, and laundry that someone needed done and my phone was constantly buzzing with texts and ringing with calls.  And always, the invitation to come "party" with them and hang out, which I continued to politely decline, but which made me feel included nonetheless.

Monday was the last day I went to the site of the Grommesh house.  The crew offered me a tour of the house and I declined, already feeling like it would be somehow invasive for me to be there, even though there were several groups of people going through.  I like a good surprise and will watch with anticipation for the reveal of the house along with everyone else when the show airs.

So instead I sat watching the crew take down the tents in front of Coco's house, and heard her say, "But I like having this dining room in front of my house..."  The sadness in her words was palpable.  I couldn't stay long.  I got the last of my "Hollywood hugs."  I went from giggling last week,  about strong scandinavian people giving these more-than-a-thump-on-the-back- kind of hugs... to realizing it wasn't about what I was giving, but what I had received in the end.

Through all of the celebrity sightings, the television cameras, the hoopla of Hollywood productions, a "family" of sorts emerged.  It was about camaraderie and pulling together for a common good.  It was long and intense hours, red bull by the caseload, and blurry eyes.  It was about celebrations and parties that lasted till the wee hours of the morning.  At the center of it all it was about a boy and his family who only wants him to feel that his life and options for life are limitless, without bounds, even in a wheelchair.

Each person who engaged in the EMHE process, has a different take away.  Most are proud of contributing something to the building of the house, or helping with something for the Grommesh family. Some can't wait to see if they made the cut and will make their national television debut.

I realized for me, it was something entirely different. It started as a kind of living story. And then became a layered story within a story behind another beautiful story.  Half way through the journey, a space was opening inside of me.  A lightness surrounded the dark remains of grief inside of me and joy walked in.  A part of me that had still been walking wounded, came back to life.

For a long time after Dad died, I prayed for "Something Beautiful," to touch me.  I listened to Needtobreathe repeatedly in the way of a mantra of sorts.   I just had no idea this is how it would come to me, but it did in an over the top way.

And now, I find myself in limbo.  Going to get groceries feels sort of mundane, just like cleaning my house and helping with 4th grade math.  My phone is quieter, the streets are emptier.  My feet, nearer the ground.

Yet, theres this...

On my way to church last night, I traveled past the Grommesh house for the first time in a couple of days.  There it was in its natural setting.  No cameras streaming live images to our computers.  No spectators, and no flood lights beaming down.  Just a beautiful house, with a single car in the driveway, like every other house on the block.  And me in my car driving by, with a only a tinge of sadness, as the joy bubbled through the memory of my something beautiful.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Welcome Home Grommesh family!! The Big Extreme Makeover Reveal!

I'm short on words.  My day started at 2:30 am yesterday after two hours of sleep, and I was dragging by the time I arrived Sunday morning for the big reveal.  But here's a few words... amazing, awesome, exhausting, overwhelming... my body is still humming and vibrating with stimulation even today.  And it shows in my photos... I was too far away, and too tired to work at getting closer.

But I also saw so many friends close up that I knew somehow I'd get photos.  And Jackie's photos say it all.  So enjoy, compliments of Jackie.  The tears that evaded me yesterday?  All arrived in a rush this morning after seeing the raw emotion of Jackie's photos.  Enjoy everyone.  I'll share more as my feet come closer to touching down on the ground.

Matt Cullen, #7 of the Minnesota Wild arrives.  Matt and the Grommesh family are well acquainted through Matt and his wife Bridget's foundation "Cully's Kids."

Bridget and Matt Cullen

This Adair thanking everyone in the crowd, right before the bus gets moved... its approximately 3 pm by this time.

Ty asking them if they are ready to move that bus?  We've been chanting it on and off for an hour now, but the family has only been here a portion of that time.

These next few are pure emotion, some of the few unstaged, raw moments... are you ready?

That bus moved!

After this, the family moved inside and Jackie said her camera card said "full."  Plus, the filming inside?  3-4 hours long.  This is when the crowd started leaving.  

The next two photos are mine from where I stood and what I saw.  I was battling a migraine, and just happy to even be a part of it. 

Last shot of the house before I left.


Last shot of the bus before I left, and so did the bus.

One last request we made of security... can we see inside the bus?  With a quick look around them and a small nod and smile, we get our 1 minute tour of the bus.  The driver is the one seated and he is plotting his map for the drive to Ohio.  There is only 1 extreme bus, and it travels back and forth between locations during the week of filming.

And then the bus moved, one last time as we stood waving.

I am still processing my emotions and thoughts and hope to come back soon and share more...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 6 Extreme Makeover Home Edition: Ty and a new Guinness World record

There were several parts of the day today that were really amazing.  The first of which is the fact that it is October 8th and it was 85 degrees outside today.  I think that may be the first record that was broken today... more on that later.

I had little intention of going to the site this morning. But my sister-in-law called. Her company had some VIP credentials, and she could loan them to me for the afternoon. I was over there in 5 minutes flat. Its the one vantage point I haven't been able to get to. Missy, you rock.


Finally, a side view of the house I normally can't see.

Not more than 5 minutes later, Paulie walked by having just gotten back from Washington DC on his secret mission.

A few minutes more, and Ty came onto the site.  He took lots of pics with the crowd and then quickly left the site.


Bye Ty...

But Eduardo was still hanging around.


This is the VIP tent, and inside is catered food, cold beverages, couches, and even a chandelier.  Very chic.


This is the adorable neighbor family who sold lemonade for a fundraiser for Garrett's family.  They donated all their proceeds from the sale.  I was their first customer and by the time I left, their bucket was overflowing with 10's and 20's... yea for the Grommeshs.

This was a class from the school where Garrett used to attend.  They were all waiting for an appearance of a cast member, but nobody was able to come back to the site... because

Gitz, this is for you :)

... there was more than just a heat record attempted today... this afternoon, everyone headed here to the Miracle Field to attempt a Guinness World Record.

Paige went up here to direct everybody.

Every disabled and every able bodied person with a wheelchair was invited to attend.

The hope was that 250-300 people would show up and form the world's largest wheelchair logo, which spelled out the word HOPE.  Hope is the name of the Grommesh's nonprofit organization for disabled kids which allows for them to be able to participate in all kinds of sports activities.  You by now are beginning to see why this family was chosen.

We arrived at 2:30 and I am not kidding you when I say the sun went down and we were still taping.  Ty, trying to learn his lines...

Ty forgetting those same lines...

Ty laughing as he looks into the camera and calls them the "Garrett" family... oops. Take 4.

Everyone in a wheelchair lined up in their letter waiting for the "shot" to get taken.

Paige and crew getting the right look for the shot.

Crowd waiting for their cue for applause.


The official from Guinness... 

More shooting because the production crew told us this was "good light" for shooting so they were taking some extra shots.


I didn't have a wide enough angle for you to fully see how many were on the field.  Its was an awesome sight to see.

And just as we were wrapping up, the sun was going down and a formation of geese flew overhead, in the most fitting of endings on this day.

As for the Guinness World Record?  Oh yeah, we so got it!  

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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