Thursday, May 29, 2008

Head Song Friday - Red Clay Halo

There aren't many women that I'd like to be, other than myself. Sure I'd like to be thinner, or richer, or something, but mostly I'd just like to be my own version of that. But I have to say, right here, I want to be Gillian Welch. Just crawl up her skinny butt and be her. That angular face, that halo of red hair, and that talent - not just singing, but writing the way she does, like she's just been a receiver of the world's wisdom. And she and David Rawlings, with all of his bony angles and shy smiles, well, when they play together, they look like they just about max out the fun meter.

This song was on heavy repeat around here for awhile, as it was one of Joe-Henry's faves. We like to sing it at family hoot nights, and I can listen to it again and again, and still want to hear it one more time.

Turn it up and enjoy. Play it a time or two. Then a few more. Sing along, no one's around!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oh My.

That about sums up our weekend road trip.

Let's see what we had going on:

Good travel companions - check!

Roadside Attractions - check

Beautiful Scenery - check

Naughty Road Food - check

The destination was my home town. The place I grew up (well, as much as I did), and the place my brother still lives. My parents are buried there. It's a fairly small town, and I was eager to leave when I got out of highschool. But driving back, I felt like something inside just opened up. I soaked up the scenery. I took about 8 billion pictures of the clouds - the way they cast shadows on the hills and the water, the pictures they make in the sky. Here's just one, if you desire more of this, hop over to my flickr page, there are 7,000,000,999 more.

And being with my family, with Joe-Henry along for the ride was... I can't put it into words really. It was more emotional than I bargained for. One of my siblings didn't go, and he was so missed. It's funny to see the picture of us - who are those people? We're still "the kids"! Being with them made me wish that Joe-Henry wasn't an only child.

Luckily, he has cousins, who are older than he is, but younger than I am, doing their part to keep him supplied with fresh playmates! My niece Amber, my brother's wonderful daughter, and her brilliant and funny and beautiful baby came over, and Joe-Henry was completely smitten.

He feels the same way about my brother that I do, too. He just loves to be around him. He's mellow and funny and kind, and he makes the best spaghetti I've ever tasted (with apologies to my MIL, who runs a close second). I don't know how I managed to leave without the recipe, but I'm making it my mission for the next trip.

And there will be another trip this summer. Somehow. Because it's not just a drive, it's a roadtrip. And it's not just a place. It's home.

Friday, May 23, 2008

HeadSong Friday: Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)

The bass line here just gets my heart racing, and nothing is cuter than Robert Plant when he does that little run. This collaboration was so exciting in so many ways: two artists from very different genres, both bringing different audiences together, not to mention they both have gorgeous hair.

Heading out this weekend going to my hometown. Taking a long road trip with my sister and Joe-Henry to see my brother, my niece and her baby. I haven't been there in, well, over eight years. Way too long. I'm looking forward to the time with family, and to meeting the newest addition to the clan. So is Joe-Henry - he wants to be a big brother in the worst way, and this is as close as he'll get, I'm afraid, with my withered old eggs.

We'll take cameras and snacks, and you better believe this cd will be on deck.

Have a memorable Memotional Day weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Coming out of my funk, finally. The last month or so has been pretty emotionally draining at school, and yesterday I felt like I was going to fall asleep walking down the hall. There is one particular situation that has been so awful, so sad, and so completely out of our control that it just seems to be draining my energy. When I come home I just want to sleep. It's taken all my effort just to be present, much less engaged. And the guilt from just being half-there for my family was eating me up.

But the other day, when we got the worst possible news about one student, I finally cried a bit on the way home, and some still small voice said "just do what you can do", and I've been trying to listen. And yesterday, after I got home, I had sort of a renewed sense of energy, and felt that I was finally, finally in the room with my loved ones.

Last night, I fell asleep with Joe-Henry after we played a game of "Yahtzee Wild", and I woke up at 2:00 a.m. Blinking, I looked up and saw the glow-in-the-dark stars in the milky way pattern on his ceiling. They looked so pretty, and I'd never seen them so bright. He must have sensed that I was awake, because in his sleep, he snuggled closer, and doing something he hasn't done since he was a baby, he wrapped his fist in my hair. I laid there five minutes, soaking it up, before extricating myself and padding down the hall to my own bed, where the cats were doing their best to keep Charley from taking up the whole bed.

I feel more rested today than I have in a long time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Music, Music, Music

We have been looking for the right sort of lessons for JH for a while now. He seems to have laid down his axe for now, which makes us sad, but we know better than to force him to pick it up again. He will. But we really think that music is his thang, so we've been looking for lessons for a while. He didn't want to take guitar, but he did ask about taking drum lessons. At some point I think we'll honor that, but for the time being, we've settled on piano.

Through his kindergarten teacher, we found a wonderfully talented high schooler who teaches piano lessons for a great price. She's amazing, and has him so eager to learn, and now my favorite part of the day is when we sit at the bench together while he practices. He's already memorized his first piece of music for his recital, "The Hungry Spider", and decided at the last minute that he would do the same piece for his school talent show. He was so nervous for the "audition", but was a little disappointed to find out that it was only his teacher in the room. Not the panel of grim judges with arched-eyebrows that he had prepared for. We don't know if he's in yet, but I guess he did alright, because he tells me his teacher said he was "amazing and fantastic".

I'll let you know how it goes. Hopefully this year, he'll go through with it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime....

Considering that less than a month ago it was snowing, you'd think I'd be grateful for the sunshine. But it went from freezing cold, to chilly and raining to NINETY SIX DEGREES.

I'm half expecting the record snow on Mt. Hood to melt and drown us all in a few days.

Until then, though, we'll have to just keep cool the best way we know how.

Friday, May 16, 2008

HeadSong Friday: The Be Good Tanyas - The Littlest Birds

This one's for Joe-Henry. He coined the term the other morning when he woke up saying "Mom, I have a Star Wars Headsong going on..."

I loved the term, so I wanted to steal it for the blog. And because he gave me the idea, and because this song reminds me of him everytime I hear it, not only because he is my little bird, but because he thought for the longest time that it was "The Little Ass Birds...", and well, that makes me smile almost as much as the song, I dedicate this first HeadSong Friday post to my sweet little bird.

(Also, I didn't want YOUR first headsong to be a Star Wars Battle Theme - isn't that nice of me?!)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lame, Lame, Lame

I know. I haven't posted since Sunday, and tomorrow is Friday. I know.

I have no good reason, except no time and too much to do, but it's not stopped me before, so what's the dealio Ms. McQ?

Well, let me give you a hint: listen closely. Closer, please. Put your ear right up to your computer screen...

Now do you hear it? That sucking sound? That's the sound of my brains being sucked out of my head by my life right now.

I'm not complaining at all; on the contrary, I'm loving it. My energies are being called upon to be find creative ways to communicate with kids at school, and it's been so exciting. I was recently assigned a new (to me) student to work with in the afternoon. He is mostly non-verbal, but makes a lot of really cool noises. He's cuter than skidditch, and today when we were working together, he actually said my name. I might have burst into tears right there if I didn't think it would scare him.

But there have been some really challenging times there the last few weeks, due to life being just out of control for some of these kids. It's like a domino effect: one kids' behavior or situation gets hard, and it affects the rest of the class as well. Add to the mix that most of them have sensory issues and/or difficulty expressing themselves appropriately and, well,my emotions bubble a bit close to the surface. Luckily, I have a friend at work that I can count on to help me out.

He's 9, and I've been working with him all year. He's really verbal, but has had a really difficult time in the past with inappropriate language and actions. He's super bright, and knows everything about the geography of the United States, including where all of you live (seriously. we talk about it at recess. luckily, I don't have any of your addresses, but if you happen to live in Naperville, IL, you might want to keep an eye out for a lanky blonde nine year old boy with huge blue eyes asking "where you LIVE?") Lately, though, he's been doing so great, using amazing language to convey the fact that he's "confused" and "sad" and he misses his friends. When school started, there were four kids in our group, and over the course of the year, three of them have moved to other schools. He's so social, and he's so lonely. Two days ago, he just started sobbing and said he "missed" his friends. Today I had him journal about it during class time, instead of doing the worksheet I was going to have him do. Luckily, the teachers in our class are just incredible and intuitive, and they had another general ed kid come join him for part of the afternoon, and they are hitting it off like crazy. It's so breathtaking to see my friend with a friend his own age - a friend who is as verbal as he is, and interested in the same stuff.

It's like whipped cream: I just eat it up.

Then there's my family. I have been trying to save some brain space for them. I love hanging out with them so much, and have been having the best time with Joe-Henry after school. But it seems like there isn't enough time to just BE. I'm always doing something - laundry, dishes, mowing the lawn, working in the yard, picking up the house - and the beauty part is this:


Yes, if I were more organized, it would be easier and better, I do know that is true to a certain extent. But I also know that no matter how organized I am, there will always be things undone. And I'm trying to get JH to help around the house, starting with his room, and he does occasionally do something without asking, but if I ask for his help you'd think I were asking him to put a hot iron on his hand. OH the wailing. I'm really done with it. I actually swatted his bottom in full view of the neighbors today. I must have looked like a crazy woman. I was mowing the lawn with our crappy mower, and my face was purple, my hair was sticking out everywhere, I was dripping with sweat and praying the mower wouldn't give out on me half way through the job, and he was just screaming at me to come in and help him look in his room for some toy. He doesn't like to go in his room by himself because he gets scared, and if I have to turn off the mower and go all the way in with him to get it himself, well, what is the point? So I told him I'd help him, but he'd have to wait for me to finish up (I was almost done), and he just kept screaming, and he came over and started pulling on my arm, and well-

I. Just. Had. It.

So he got a swat. And I did NOT feel guilty.

Yes, that's a lie. But more than just feeling guilty about swatting him, I felt guilty that I had set him up to fail. I clearly haven't spent enough time empowering him to be independent and giving him the patience and time to show him how to do things for himself in the first place.

So yeah. That's pretty much why I haven't been blogging.

And in the time that it's taken me to write this post, I've felt guilty that I wasn't doing something else.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Day So Far....

Mother's Day started around 5:00 a.m. here, with Joe-Henry clutching his stomach and his chest and saying he felt terrible. I was convinced that we would be going to the emergency room, so I woke up Charley to quell my panic, and he reminded me that this has happened before. We had taken him to the e.r. where they diagnosed reflux, and so Charley brought in a children's mylanta, and I read him a story, and all was well. In fact, all was really great for him, and he wanted to wake up right then. Yawn.....

Alrighty then.

He had been begging me all week to give me the present he made for me at school, and now I know why - isn't it beautiful?

Then we got dressed up and went out to brunch....

Do you like my new bag? It was a gift from my sweet husband.

There were mimosa's for mom at the restaurant

See how happy mimosa's make me!

But nothing was quite as nice as getting lots and lots of these today...

Happy Mom's Day to you!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fate At Random

white doorknob
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
I don't normally spend a lot of my time feeling hopeless. It's truly just not in my nature. I'm pretty good at coming to grips with reality and the lack of rhyme or reason involved in one's daily life. But lately I can't help but think about the randomness of things. The idea of "why". "Why" some people are born into loving, nurturing families and others are born into families where there is nothing but craziness and poverty and brutality? Or war? Or...

And what about "grace"? How do some, by the "grace" of whatever you believe in, manage to rise out of those situations to be amazing people, partly because they've played the hand they've been dealt particularly well.

Mostly, though, I've just been trying so hard to remind myself that no matter what I do, or how much I care, or how hard I work, there will always be things I cannot control. I'm not even talking about things that happen to me. Just the normal shit that one witnesses the longer one lives.

And I've been trying to not turn off how much that hurts, or seems unfair, and redirect it to something hopeful.

To dance with that, and sing with that.

Even when I just feel like crying.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


It's been an intense week, and I'm out of words for a bit. Well, actually, there's too much to say, and so much I want to write about but can't. I'll just say this: I love my job, but it can be an emotional roller coaster.

Yesterday was spent douching out the basement, moving furniture, trying to make it a better living space. I had to laugh at MM's comment about our living room. Of course I'm taking pictures of the only part of our house that looks decent. Someday, when I'm brave enough to keep it real, I'll take a picture of my desk. Or my kitchen. Or, God Forbid, our catcrap splattered bathroom in the basement. Then again, no. I won't.

But this morning, the sun is out, the skies are miraculously blue, and our dogwood is at the height of it's glory. It called to me to come out and take it's picture, so I did.

As I blinked my eyes, and squinted in the sunlight, I noticed that our Rhododendron had bloomed too....

As I leaned in to snap it's picture, I noticed a lovely scent in the air. Could it be? I followed my nose to the backyard, where I was rewarded with this...

Then I noticed JH's ball, sitting so pretty in the green, green grass, so as I was lining up to take a shot, I felt playful...

Then, uh-oh... What's that I just stepped in with my bare feet?

Whew! It's only mud. That was a close one.

We're off to Oaks Park, for a much deserved treat for the boy. I'll leave you with this:

Happy Sunday to you all!