Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fellowship of the ....

Ring. Right.

Wasn't it all about traveling together (even though sometimes the friends were apart on different paths)?

Wasn't it all about being right in the middle of something completely scarey and unpredictable--life-threatening even--and trusting the cause was greater than the sacrifice?

Wasn't it terrible, cold, disappointing, discouraging, a drag, and exhilirating, inspiring, engaging, and perfect all at the same time?

I am aware as I zig and zag on my own adventure that others in my fellowship are enduring something I am not. Even though we are together we may be apart. I am sensing the danger and helpless to prevent it.

Nevertheless, we are pressing on...together...

Friday, November 13, 2009


In a previous chapter of my life when appointments with people populated my planner...I coined a phrase for myself: surfing the chaos.

There seemed to arise every so often--a day, a week, a month--times when the line between peace and panic would fade and catastrophic chaos loomed. During those times, I grabbed my board and caught the wave.

Those on the shore watching the activity were amazed; it looked so smooth and graceful and choreographed on the surface!

"How does she do it"? They would ask outloud to no one in particular.

The answer is: I had no idea. All I knew to do when faced with those circumstances was stay on the board and hang on through the curl of the wave, mist in my face, roar of the ocean, threat of imminent peril crashing overhead.

In the end it was almost always exhilirating. Sometimes it was dibilitating. Fairly often it was excruiating. But, what other choice was there?

I don't know if it's El Nino, the Mayan Calendar, or the Harvest Moon...but, it's been one of those weeks. Midterms, lectures, office hours. Budgets, evals, baby showers. The lines in my forehead and shadows under my eyes give me away: sleep has been sweet but all too short recently.

My life's current chapter has a different theme, but the predictably random nature of the chaos wave has not changed.

Surfs Up!

Grab your board...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Occupational Therapy for All (forthcoming)!

Hey, ZigZag fans near and far--

I got some good news on Thursday; AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association) is publishing a collection of stories about therapy...and a submission I sent to them earlier this year will be included in their finished work!

This is exciting on multiplie levels: Wylie's story gets a wider audience, understanding and awareness regarding Asperger-related issues will increase, and the fabric of my writing career has one more thread of credibility stitched into it.

Once the particulars are finalized, I'll be sure to pass along the link and info.

Next writing project: final draft of my GIS/teaching research paper sent off to Journal of Economic Education (before Christmas)!

Thank you to all ZigZag readers for encouraging me to this point.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Later in September

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life Transformation

Want to fill your bucket? Watch this amazing work by Robbie Carlson capturing real life change here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Buckets, Brains, and Drains

My church, the church I also work for part-time, SGCF, sent me to The Leadership Summit for the second time. What a smart investment. It is--without a doubt--the most powerful conference I've attended in the last 10 years. The collaboration of brilliant leaders from within and outside the church domain is unprecedented.

Lots of big brains.

The list goes on and on. All of these hosted by Bill Hybels, one of my mentors in faith.

What a privilege to attend.

Hybels confessed the downturn in the economy has created another full-time job for most leaders: how to navigate through this new reality. And, in his humble way, he also confessed his natural response to all of this was to work harder. In his own words, he said the life he was living was not sustainable. He had to make adjustments.

He drew a bucket on a paper. It's so simple. All of us have a bucket that holds our sense of peace and well-being. When the level is full or nearly so, we can lead, work, love, give and perform at our potential. However, the very act of doing these things drains the bucket. Add to this the people that we all must deal with that also have a "draining" effect on our energy, and you very quickly can begin to see the levels of peace, fullness, satisfaction drain away.

We have to re-fuel. We have to renew. We have to proactively take responsibility for the filling of our own bucket. For those of us who follow after God, this necessarily involves time with Him, with scripture, prayer, and truth. And, of course, it could involve engaging in more of the activities that are energy boosters (exercise, hobbies, time with family, etc.) and adequately monitoring the energy drains.

This is just one simple, but profound "take-away". More to follow; my bucket is spilling over.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

All Over the Map

The next few weeks are "full".

  • Our WILDlife Family Camp kick-starts Friday up at The Oaks in Lake Hughes, CA

  • Upon returning home Sunday afternoon, Tim and I take off for San Diego so I can attend my first ever User Conference with ESRI the 12th through the 15th. My presentation slides are here

  • Got to go to Disneyland for my birthday next week to get my gift card

  • Campbell has a swim meet in Hemet the following weekend

  • SGCF has another event planned for 4th-6th graders on the 22nd...it will be "cosmic"

  • Prep work for a new course (to me) at CSUSB should begin later this month: Econ 335 "Tools of Economic Analysis". I'll be teaching one of my favs as well "Economics of Sport"

  • Anticipating some new contacts after my GIS presentation which will hopefully lead to some more productive research in this area and a finalized paper submission before school begins

That's just a snapshot. I know your summer is full of jam-packed-action, too. It's a good thing we're all on vacation???

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finish Well

One of the lessons (if not the most important one) I'm learning from the death of my father-in-law is the importance of finishing well. Those who knew Bud well were not blind to the obvious blunders and areas in his life where he had fallen short and missed the mark. But, many--far more--beheld a man pressing forward, forgetting what was behind, reaching out for the prize--the upward call of Christ. This was captured poignantly by the dark-haired 6th grade boy who got up to speak at Bud's memorial. Trembling and scared, this little man expressed beautifully the importance Bud's example. He spoke of Mr. Ray's ability to tell the stories of the bible well. In particular, he recalled the story of Easter. Because of Bud's passion for Christ and his commitment to teaching Sunday School week after week, this boy came to Christ and has unlimited potential in the kingdom of God. His testimony obliterates any notion that somehow there is a scale of justice where our sins, our mistakes, the trash of our lives (of Bud's life), are somehow weighed against the trivial "good" things we think we do. If there is such a scale, no one "not even one" would prove righteous. Instead, this boy's testimony reveals what it means--for any of us who call ourselves Christians--to be redeemed. Only Christ can take the trash, the blunders, the mistakes, the missed marks and transform them into something...wonderful. Something purposeful. Something eternal. The sooner we grasp this lesson, the sooner we can all get on with finishing well.
Philippians 3:13

Friday, June 26, 2009






Words we attach particular meaning to.

Each requires perspective.

Yesterday, on the way to swim practice with the boys, the merits of swimming and practicing more during the summer were being discussed. The main idea being: the more you swim, the better you swim. The boys, however, being 11 years old and inclined to just a bit of summer-time laziness took issue with the main idea. Using their keen logical minds one of them said:

"so, if I swim four days a week I'll be as good as Michael Phelps?"

I replied with something equally logical but parental:

"Not every great swimmer is an Olympian like Michael Phelps. There are far more great swimmers than there are Olympic swimmers".

We went back and forth. Finally, we did agree if you want to be a better swimmer it will most likely involve more swim practice. And, four or five more years of swim practice would make them both better swimmers.

Since Campbell just posted some much improved times at his last meet, it must have inspired Wylie to prophesy the following:

"Well, in five years Campbell can be an Olympican (pronounced o-limp-i-can) and I can be working at McDonalds with my best friend, Thomas".





Words we attach a particular meaning to....


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Every Mile a Smile?

(This is a finisher's story I wrote for the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon website--)

This was my first marathon. Just before entering Hwy. 163, I thought it might be my last. I've been training for about six months--following a modified schedule I found in John Bingham's book "Marathoning for Mortals". A life-long recreational jogger, I truly embraced the challenge of the longer runs and found the training was becoming satisfying on its own. The race was the catalyst that got me on the running journey.

Although I was not running for a specific cause, I picked up an idea from an article about former Presidential Candidate, Mike Huckabee. He completed several marathons by dedicating every mile to a special person. I adopted this into a personal theme "every mile is a smile". and even laminated a card with the names of my special people. In this way, the race became more than just a personal quest, it had taken on a life of its own and all the people who knew about it in my life were becoming invested with me.

About a month ago, after an 18 miler, I injured my i.t. band. I did everything I read about to treat it, resting as much as possible while still trying to train. In spite of all the rest, icing, elevation, stretching and focus on form, I was persistently having trouble with my left leg after long runs.

Consequently, I showed up at the starting line in San Diego knowing there was a strong possibility the left band could flare again. I began the race conservatively, certainly working on a negative split (about 13:20 overall pace). Just before we left the city-streets to enter 163, the i.t. band started "barking". Another mile or so and it was obviously not going to subside.
I was faced with a decision right then and there in the middle of that highway: 1) quit or 2) press on and see if I could finish. I found that if I changed up my run/walk breaks, I actually could make steady progress for stretches of time with pain below my "threshold". I adapted my race-day strategy from "work on a negative split" to "work on putting one foot in front of the other".

Obviously, I lagged behind the pace group I had optimistically hoped to follow. Still, after about 16 miles it became obvious to me that I was in no danger of missing the time cut-offs, so all was not lost.

By mile 21 I knew I was going to finish no matter what. My left leg was stiffening and my right foot was suffering from the unplanned additional walking, but for me that mile marker was a true point of no return. (Strangely enough, the laminated card with my special names/miles got lost when I grabbed my last gel pack! But, I knew who the last miles were for and that strengthened my resolve to leave nothing on reserve). I was all in.

Mile 25 to the finish I'll never forget. I saw people struggling to stay upright. I saw a lady just ahead of me who had to be in her 80s going strong and at the same time I saw a young college kid drop to the curb on my left. This last mile was no respecter of persons. When I felt the stabbing pain in my left knee more severely than any other time on the course I said outloud to no one in particular and to God: "Please, I just want to finish strong". And, right then a marine at the entrance to the depot looked me in the eye and said "you're going to make it, runner".
A half-a-mile more and I saw my husband, kids, and friends waving to me and shouting out in pride. Through the tunnel on the other side I saw the Rock n Roll logo and I swear the pain went away for the last few steps across the finish line.

One day later, I'm icing my knee and wincing through stretches. I've got a blister under my toenail, and all across the back of my right heel from the adapted walk/run technique I defaulted to on mile 10. I know I'll have to figure out a better way to run to avoid the i.t. band problem. There's work I'll have to do to fully recover.

However, Bingham wrote in his book that somewhere on the course what you believe about yourself will equal what is true about yourself. Somewhere around mile 10 I decided to keep going even though it hurt; at mile 21 I believed I would finish. At mile 26.2 I experienced the truth.

It was all worth it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Living Museum Comes Alive!

Here's just a few shots from the Living Museum at Calimesa Elementary School May 21, 2009!

General George S. Patton gives a briefing to his Grammy SB and father, Lt. Col. Tim Harris

Davy Crockett: ready to secure life, liberty, and property!

Clara Barton (Miranda) has been a classmate of Wylie's since the 3rd grade. She is precious! So smart and stands maybe 4 foot 6inches tall.

Davy and Dad strike a pose. Grammy in the background! What an awesome day for the 5th graders!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Living Museum Updates

The boys have been hard at work on their display boards and "dolls" for the Living Museum later this month:

The actual Living Museum Tours are Thursday, May 31st 9:30 to 11:30 at Calimesa Elementary School. I guarantee you it will be a good time!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mother May I?

For many reasons, this month of May is extreme for me.

Two courses at CSU are underway and three courses at U of R have begun. For college professor types, this number of courses would be commonly called an "overload".

M-W-F mornings I'm on campus at CSU; every other Monday night and every Tuesday and Thursday night for the next six weeks I am on campus at U of R.

Combine that with my part-time work for SGCF, being a wife/mom, wannabe marathoner and you get an extreme month.

I knew it would be like this. But, knowing it would be and being in it are two different things.

This Sunday is Mother's Day...

If you were playing the childhood game...what would you ask?

Right now, I'd ask for the little charm Hermoine had in Harry Potter where she could go back and forth in time....

Mother May I?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


One of the fun things I get to do (occasionally) at my church is teach! Last Sunday my message was "Esther: Courage". Here's the link if you want to listen in....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Living Museum

The boys are in classes with teachers who team teach science and social studies. This works nicely for a mom of twins: at least there are not twice the assignments! Coming up in the next month is a social studies assignment called "The Living Museum" where the boys will select a person to "play", research them, put together a display board and then "become" this person for the museum.

This is right up both Campbell and Wylie's alley...

These are the two personalities the boys have chosen:

General George S. Patton


that would be Davie Crockett.

So, test your knowledge of Cam and Wise....

which one picked which man?

We will post the progress of their research as the assignment unfolds...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Two for the Road

Some are inspired to clean during this season. Others to fall in love.

Not I.

I was inspired to facilitate the mastery of that all-important life skill: riding a bicycle.

Ladies and Gentlemen...I give you....

Two for the Road

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Breakers

The Harris kids are on spring break!

So far they have:

swam in the pool at the Mission Inn
taken Tim's "unofficial" tour of the Mission Inn
sat in President Taft's chair (all three of them at the same time)
hiked to the top of Mt. Rubidoux
visited the Riverside Natural History Museum
sat in our hot tub
watched Monsters v. Aliens
played catch
played basketball
hunted for bugs
found bugs
lost bugs
watched movies
played video games

Week #2 begins tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Diary of...a not-so-whimpy-Kid

There is a book series out for elementary kids called Diary of a Whimpy Kid that is cute and very readable. Wylie has been engrossed and was close to finishing it yesterday. This birthed the following exchange:

Wylie: "Mom, I want to do a scrapbook of my life--you know--with pictures and stuff".

Me: "Ok, I have a scrapbook upstairs--I think--that you can use". I replied to him as I was tidying up dishes in the kitchen and getting ready to sit down for the first time on Tuesday to relax a little.

Wylie: "Can you get it now?"

I realized, resistence was futile.

A reformed Creative Memories addict, of course I had scrapbooks upstairs he could use (along with 100s of dollars of other scrapbooking "stuff" that I had to have and haven't used in over 3 years....) Finally, I found a scrapbook I purchased for the boys hoping one day they might want to make their own book. See? How prophetic I was???

Once I got out the materials and supplies, Wylie began his "diary" in earnest. He worked on layouts, cutting pictures, writing narratives, drawing pictures, recalling trips, holidays, school mates....he was "focused". I had to cut him off at 9:30!

Here's five things I love about this recent development:

  1. Wylie was inspired by something he read

  2. Wylie wanted to create something using his own imagination and ability

  3. Wylie drew pictures and wrote sentences for something other than required homework assignments

  4. Wylie used scissors (a hat tip to his years of Occupational Therapy) without complaining

  5. Wylie did not play a video game or watch a show on Tuesday after swim--he literally, read a book, listened to music, and "scrapped" until bedtime....

Ladies and Gentlemen....it's the dawn of a new CTI era....

Stay tuned (and pass those die-cuts over here.....)

Friday, March 13, 2009

No Cowboy UP!

So, this very cool cowboy/rodeo champion, Ty Murray, is on Dancing With the Stars this season (although, it has to be said...not for long....). During his introductory video history it showed him riding bulls and all the other stuff rodeo dudes do. Wylie has seen his share of rodeo dudes bite it on "Destroyed in Seconds" and other such shows on Discovery channel.

This morning, on the way to school, I asked Wylie if he thought he might want to ride in a rodeo someday....

"Not me! Those guys get smashed by bulls and need a lot of surgeries for like....spine removal, brain-mushing, and amnesia".

I'll take that as a no. Especially the spine removal part...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scarecrow? Lion? Tin-Man?

Wylie is smitten with our "Wicked" soundtrack. Today he asked (on our way home from school where most interesting questions arise) which character would you be in The Wizard of Oz and/or Wicked?

I think it's a great question.

Wylie says he would for sure be the Tin-Man (a.k.a. Bach in Wicked).

So, which character would you be???

Monday, March 9, 2009

Except for the Nose Thing

Wylie put in a purchase-order request for "Pinochio"...the latest edition of this timeless tale from Disney. In justifying his request he said, unequivocally, "I'm just like him; well, except for the nose thing".

How can I refuse a real boy?

In other Harris kid news...

Campbell had the best swim meet of his young life! He posted improved times in all events and even took first in two heats. He earned some solid points toward his trophy. Wylie gave his all on the breast and free. Though he was DQed on the breast for a late second hand touch (you've got to touch the wall with two hands simultaneously), he took the criticism with respect and announced afterwards "what do you expect--it's Redlands, I always get DQed at Redlands".

Mortal Marathon Training Update: finished a 10 mile run last Saturday at Hangar 24 (my husband is a fan) and felt great throughout. Even tried a chocolate gel pack for my nutrition! This weekend it is a 12 mile run...where will I go? What will I see?

More later this week...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quotable Wylie

2009 sees me trying to be a good example for my children ( in earnest) with respect to overall health--in particular nutrition and exercise. It's no secret I am training for the San Diego Rock n Roll marathon in May; it's also no secret I am a recovering Diet Dr. Pepper addict. At my worst, I probably was five or six cans a day. And, it wasn't just diet stuff in the house. I'd have real Coke sometimes, too. So, the kids (and especially Wylie) had access to soda more than was probably optimal.

I gave it up in January.

I'm not completely caffeine free (I will take a drag off a coke or coffee occasionally and buy one when out for a meal), but I have ceased buying diet sodafor myself or any soda with caffiene for the house. Only 7 UP and root beer for Campbell.

This met with some unhappy protests, but has basically been adapted to by everyone at the Harris Ranch.

Today, though, here comes Wylie:

"Boy, this living without caffeine stuff is really driving me crazy".

My (now) 11 year old boy is coping with his withdrawls just fine. I'll continue to update on our quest for the best in 2009....stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

He Said He Said

Everyone in the Yucaipa Valley experienced the fairly extreme weather on Monday. Today's clear skies were a sharp contrast to yesterday's damp, grey, wet, winter, rain-sleet-snow-mix. The differences were not lost on both my sons.

We did not swim yesterday due to the weather. With all the combined family activities last week, the boys were only at the pool one afternoon (as opposed to 3 workouts generally).

Today, we were on our way up to the pool. I'll leave it to you to figure out which he said what en route:
He said: "Boy, I hope we do breast stroke today".

The other he said: "Boy, I hope I don't freeze my butt off today".

I laughed all the way up the hill...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rain Running

Southern Californians are generally ill-prepared for inclement weather of any kind. Take rain for example...

This weekend, I drove down to San Diego with some of our brilliant team from SGCF to attend a Children's Ministry Conference. It had been raining off-an-on the day we went down. We counted six accidents on the 15 South. Then, on the way home, two more accidents.

I have a cautious streak that's pretty wide, so I slow down in the rain. And, I'm not inclined to run in the serious rain. 1) I don't have sufficient rain gear and 2) I really don't want to slip, fall, pull something, twist something or otherwise injure myself.

So, today I ran on the treadmill at Reps For Life (a local gym I joined in January to help compliment my marathon training). My workout assignment was just 45 minutes of running at about 60% of my maximum heart rate. In other words, an easy run where I could "theoretically" hold a conversation.

This "rain running" caused me to think about a few things...

1) since I was in control of the incline and speed on the treadmill, I had a sense of command over my environment and my body--that was cool for the first 15 minutes, and very boring for the last 30 minutes

2) even though I was running a good pace for me, the extremely fit gal 4 treadmills over was totally going for some kind of record and I couldn't help but occasionally see her in my peripheral vision and get that jealousy vibe

3) just when I imagined I was finishing mile 26 in my race and the endorphins were pumping and Paul Coleman Trio was singing me to victory...I hit my ear-buds with my hand and dropped my entire ipod on the floor which resulted in me having to do the "straddle" on the machine--it completely broke my rhythm and gave gold-medal gal a big advantage

4) all-in-all, I prefer running outside. I think we are made to enjoy a little bit of uncertainty, to travel while we exert ourselves (versus "standing still" on the mill), to feel the wind in your face and wonder whether you can make it home instead of plodding along...knowing you can hit the stop button anytime

Rain, rain...go away.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Evidence of Excellence-part 2

Evidence of Excellence

My daughter has skills:

This is just one illustration she has done for an honors english project. It's a short story about an 30 gig ipod that reads people's thoughts...very entertaining.

You read it here first.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Some Super Bowl Fun Without the Game

Thanks to a tweet friend, you can watch the commercials here without wading through the entire game! Pretty cool. Let me know what your favorite was by commenting on this post! Go Steelers ( I guess....not really a fan but The Brownings would never forgive me if I didn't give them some love today).

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Bug's Life

Some time last summer, Wylie got a Bug "geo-dome" (for lack of a better word). He took it to a swim meet and it was a huge hit with kids of all ages. They found several bugs that day that got a one-way ticket to indoor-living.

After that time, Wylie set his mind on the Bug Vaccum: a device that allows one to suck up bugs to more easily relocate them in the geo-dome. So, this has been six months or more of longing after this device.

Today, the search ended. We have the bug-sucker! Alas, we got home just after sunset so Wylie did not have sufficient time to vacuum the backyard. Still, he's already got 3 little critters from right inside Harris ranch. Kind of creepy--if you think about it.

I suspect tomorrow, after church, there will be quite a bit of bug-sucking going on. The prospects of populating the insect geo-dome makes me more than a little nervous. Perhaps I will double-check the seals on those plastic domes. With Tim on an extended trip, the scenario could rapidly degrade from the cute "A Bug's Life" to the more sinister "How the Bugs Bit My Wife"...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Moms and Their Pinky-Swears

"Did you talk to Ms. Peterson about your math problems"?

"No. I forgot".

"Wylie! We pinky-swore this morning you would talk to Ms. Peterson for extra help".

"I know. I told you I forgot".

(Insert 5 minutes speech about accountability, doing our best, asking for help, complete with reminders about how Ms. Peterson loves when he asks for help and goes back to the desk for practice, etc., etc., etc.).

Campbell chimes in: didn't you have more testing with Mrs. Ferguson today, Wylie?


"So, you were out of class today with more testing? Why didn't you say so, I'm sorry I over-reacted".

Wylie mutters under-his-breath:

"Moms and their Pinky-Swears..."

(Somehow I picture this post as a comic strip....I swear).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Misadventures of the Mortal Marathoner-part 1

I have decided to run in the San Diego RocknRoll Marathon in May.

With this decision comes a commitment to run/train differently than I ever have in my life.

I actually like discipline/structure/schedules etc in this area, so that part is not hard for me to adopt. Typically, my runs are fairly predictable, smooth, and invigorating affairs.

Today, though, tested my nerve.

Today was rainy. No matter, I have suitable attire to run in the rain and not get too wet/hot. I bundled up had my gear all stowed (ipod, water bottle in fanny pack, gum, etc). I started out on my 6 mile quest.

Mile marker < 1: rock in right shoe.
This generally is a non-issue if the pebble is small. Small pebbles move around and sometimes exit your shoe just like they enter it. I wait a few more steps thinking I can handle it. No. Had to stop, take off shoe, find rock, put shoe back on, get laces right. Continue running.

Mile marker 1.5: burping my tiny breakfast ( I usually don't eat before running, but the new schedule suggests I practice since you must eat before a full-marathon).

Mile marker 2: practice drinking water on-the-fly every 15 minutes. Goes pretty well.

Mile marker 2.5: big truck blows past me knocks off my hat.

Mile marker 3: take another swig of water successfully. Feeling like real athlete now.

Mile marker 4: due for another drink of water I reach back for my cool water bottle out of my pack...it's gone!

Mile marker 4.1: I say outloud to no one "CRAP--RATFARTS" and think to myself ...do I go back and look for it? when did I lose it? Now, I don't have water for the last half of my run...decide to cut losses and keep running.

Mile marker 4.5: rock in my other shoe--no kidding! This one takes not just one stop, but two as the first fix had my shoe lace way too tight and your feet swell while running so there's no way and I have to stop again and fix it.

Mile marker 5: rain gets harder/wetter. I decide to peel off up 10th street and cut my last mile which is a bummer, because in spite of everything, I was feeling like I could go another mile or two!

It was a Murphy's Law run.

Epilogue: once I got home and stretched, etc. ...I did hop in my truck and re-trace my route looking for my silly water bottle. I mean it was only used 3 times and it is custom-designed to fit in my custom little pack and the thought of my little water bottle out on the road, cold and alone...it was too much for me to bear!

I found it; right across from the smog station on the Blvd and Sand Canyon for you Yucaipans.

No doubt there will be other misadventures. I'm glad I've already decided on my marathon mantra: every mile is a smile.

Today, though, it was more like "every mile is a trial".

There's some kind of metaphor for living in this post....

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Path With a View

I know it's usually a room with a view...

But, today on my little hike behind our neighborhood I discovered a view on the trail I had never fully appreciated before. It was magnificent. The peak on the trail positions you perfectly to overlook the lower end of the Yucaipa Valley. The Crafton Hills are on the north side of the trail and are so close at that point you can quite literally touch them. To the southeast, the flat mesas of the hills bordering Riverside County are lush green. The tall grass on those mesas is juxtaposed against a pristine blue sky with fluffly-white-cotton-candy-clouds. In a word it was: breathtaking.

I stopped and took a mental picture of that view. I want to remember it and be able to see it perpetually in my mind's eye. For a few moments I breathed in all that beauty and exhaled gratitude. Suddenly, I had twice the stamina and energy for the rest of my hike. Twice the mental activity and creativity to complete the paper I'm working on. An improved attitude, state-of-mind, sense-of-peace. And, all of this a full 20 hours before Obama is sworn in tomorrow...

Everyone needs to find a path with a view.

I can't wait to take Wylie, Cam, Ken and Tim up there!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Wylie's 3 year IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is coming up in early March. His teachers, his speech pathologist, the Occupational Therapists, the school psychologist, and I all have some homework to do in preparation for this meeting.

I mentioned some time ago in this blog that Wylie had a pending appointment with the neruologist at Loma Linda. We had that appointment in early December and I haven't written about it. Suffice it to say, the doctor officially diagnosed Wylie with an "autistic spectrum" disorder. What this means is simple: he can continue to receive services through the public school system now.

It's all about labels and categories. Up to this point, Wylie qualified for services under speech and language pathology. This is because, 7 years ago, Wylie's biggest challenge was in social communication. At that time, I completed a homework study on him and the county psychologist did an in-home and school site visit, etc. All of this resulted in his move into a special day class and the beginning of all the support services he receives.

The really cool thing is...he has progressed so well that he would no longer qualify for services on speech anymore. So, there had to be a diagnosis. Thus, the visit to neurology in December and the new round of homework.

I'm impressed with the team assembled for this IEP. I trust we will arrive at a plan that is best for Wylie. They always ask (at the end of an IEP) the parent "What are your goals for your child".

I always answer: "To see him reach his potential".

And, that's why I'll be completing my homework this weekend.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fathers and Sons

I have been reading a book called "Why Men Hate Going to Church". It's very good. The church I work for strives to be a man-friendly place--which is to say--not too feminine, not too safe, too soft, or too touchy-feely. We have work to do on this, but it is one of our specific goals.

At any rate, one of the things the book mentions is that boys follow men, not religion. And, I believe this is true. It's one of the reasons single-parent homes struggle with leadership issues when it comes to raising teenage boys. And, it's one of the reasons I am very committed to attracting men to our Treasure Island Kids experience...I want the boys to have men to follow. This is not sexist. This is not "old-school". This is just social anthropology.

As an example, last night I encouraged Wylie to pick up a book we bought about a boy named Avi and the battle between the Merrimac and Monitor during the civil war. Now, I got this book (and I do have quite a bit of the male-warrior spirit in me), but my suggestion last night that he start reading it was not what ultimately got him to begin doing so.

It was his father's interest.

Tim is a manly man. He's a pilot. He is an athlete. He is big and strong (and handsome!). And, he maintains an interest in a lot of very cool stuff. One of the things he was interested in as a boy was the Monitor and and the Merrimac. So, Tim starts talking about the subject....

Wylie is all in. He conquered five chapters of the book in one sitting because his dad engaged him on the subject.

Boys follow men.

It stands to reason if we want our sons (or any boys) to follow after a particular set of ideals, philosophies, or beliefs, we better find some men who cling to those and encourage our boys to follow them.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wylie Harris: Brownbeard!

Hot of the Press:

Wylie has been cast as "Brownbeard" in the upcoming theatrical debut of "Pirates: The Musical" at Calimesa Elementary this spring.

He is very proud and excited. He had to memorize a short poem (along with all the other students in chorus) to audition for a role. Mrs. Thatcher did not know what to expect--she has Wylie for Social Studies and is familiar with some of his issues. But, he wanted to audition and so she included him.

That particular day, after the try-outs, she came to me personally and said, "You would have been so proud...Wylie was the loudest and clearest of all the kids and he knew the whole poem"! In short, he surprised everyone. And, he has the part he wanted.

This will undoubtedly be a very entertaining chapter of the zigzag chronicles.

Stay tuned...


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Expecting the Unexpected

A less-demanding teaching schedule this term has opened up more time for me to breathe. Silly me: I thought that would result in breathing more. But, so far, the last few weeks have been an exercise in something I used to call "surfing the chaos" but shall be called "expecting the unexpected" in this post.

I'm not complaining. Just relaying the facts of the matter. We had the flood (I have contractors in my house this morning as I write working on drywall repair, etc), the normal rush of Christmas and Ken's birthday details, my truck battery died the day we were to go to see Wicked, the first few days of 2009 had me down-for-the-count with a nasty flu-bug. So, it is with expecting the unexpected. Everyday is....an adventure!

What will it be today?

I suppose one of the reasons I truly enjoy my children is they are more accustomed to living this way. There is nothing truly expected about their lives really. They are more open to chaos, change (except for Wylie), adventure, mishaps, scrapes, bumps, bruises, then we are. Well, then I am.

I used to be a kid (didn't you?) so when did we cross over the imaginary line and come to expect that life would be predictable, safe, well-planned-out, and somehow under our control? Maybe you don't have these expectations. Maybe I am the only one holding onto to some form of this delusion and that's why I am learning this lesson (again).

The New Year is a time for planning and mapping out your days. I confess: I love this. I always have. Visual reminders and calendars are important to me because I feel deeply committed to making the most of my time. There is a biblical precedent for this. However, we all know it can be taken to the extreme.

This year may well be the one where I make my plans, but fold them up like a map and tuck them in my Indiana Jones fedora. Instead of consulting my to do list, I may just get up crack my whip every morning.

What will it be today?

There's no way to know for sure, but whatever it is...I won't be expecting it!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Up-side of Being Down

Today, I feel human again.

I walked downstairs to say good-bye to the boys as Tim took them to school and Wylie said to me:

"Mom, where have you been? I haven't seen you for a whole day!"

Beginning at 2:30am Saturday morning--I did not feel anything remotely close to human. Some kind of germ got a hold of me and was unmerciful in its complete and total control of my body. I will not go into details, but there are a few more foods going on my "never again" list.

During the worst of those hours, one single, dominant thought became my prayer: normal. I just want to feel normal!

I am closer to normal today; I am so profoundly grateful. If I had not just fought the flu-devil and won, I would probably not have this profound sense of gratitude washing over me.

I guess that's the Up-side of being down.

I missed a day of work at Solid Ground. And, I was really looking forward to leading worship.

I heard my band-mates did fine.

I missed connecting with all the kids in Treasure Island.

I missed hearing stories, exchanging smiles, offering encouragement, praying together, taking communion, and expecting God's next best thing...

I don't think anyone enjoys being sick; but, it has to be said: once you are down for a bit, there really is nothing like normal!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My New Year Theme (In Others' Words)

Happy New Year!

See how many of the following quotes you can identify (speaker and/or movie/book)... I will have a Barnes & Noble gift card (or itunes or Starbucks) for the reader who scores the best!

It's time to take it to the next level...

It's time to try defying gravity (see last post)...

We are men of action; lies do not become us...

I am no man...

As One! As One!

How wonderful life is...now you're in the world...

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come...

The heights by great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night...

Only a life lived for others is worth living...

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be...

Interesting reaction...but, what does it mean?

Suddenly, the world seems such a perfect place...suddenly it moves with such perfect grace...suddenly my life doesn't seem such a waste...it all revolves around You...

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities...

We should pray...