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's gone!

Mile marker 4.1: I say outloud to no one "CRAP--RATFARTS" and think to myself 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 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 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 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 all revolves around You...

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

We should pray...