Fall Sunrise

Fall Sunrise

Monday, October 1, 2012

Welcome October

It's my favorite month of the year, October. I'm sure you can't tell this by my graphics. *grin*

Especially after the drought this year I'm ready for the crisp air and the cool sunshine.
I'm ready to have the windows open and the a/c off.
I'm ready to wear a sweatshirt and have my nose be a little chilly.
I'm ready to see the trees turn the hues of autumn.
I'm ready for pumpkins, gourds, mums, apples, hot chocolate and cider.

October is a special month for me. Tomorrow is my birthday. I'll be 40. Most people fear 40 or at least a big deal is made of it. Not me, I welcome tomorrow like I welcome October. It's the turning of the wheel. It's part of the cycle of seasons. Now is time to harvest or plant crops to harvest in the spring. Most people forget about that last part. They forget that Spring and Summer are not the only seasons in which things grow and mature. Kind of like life, there is life after 39. Hmm. Maybe I'm weird that way, it never occurred to me not to keep going, pursuing knowledge, learning, maturing, making a difference in my life and in others.

I plan to spend a lot of evenings this October out on our deck with a fire just sitting and listening. To me October brings the year to a close. Following the Celtic calendar, the New Year started on November 1st. October was harvest time and time to wind down on the year's activities before going into the winter. I get that. It feels right.

October will be a journey for me this year. I have several topics I wish to write about and explore. I have started a few drafts to use this blog as a sounding board.  Let's see where the journey leads.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Your Kids Do What?


Our eldest, Katie, has Asperger's Syndrome, which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder. She also has several other mental and emotional conditions including Mood Disorder (we fear Bipolar, but until she is older and the symptoms more pronounced it will not be diagnosed as such), ADHD, General Anxiety Disorder, and Sensory Processing Disorder. Her therapists told me to put her in either dance, karate or swimming.  

We thought dance would be our best bet. Katie doesn't have the traditional dancer's body or coordination, but we have a strong Celtic influence in our home. William is a Celtic musician which meant the music was nothing new.  Katie had seen Riverdance and loved it. Off we went. We knew it wasn't going to be easy for Katie, but hoped her love of music, desire for precise rhythms, and ease of memorization would help her overcome the lack of strength and mixed signals her brain sends out.

As with all things there were bumps in the road and as special needs parents will tell you it felt like mountain ranges to climb and chasms to cross. We had a very long journey that took us many places and after about five years we finally found our home with the Driscoll School of Irish Dance. Bridgid Driscoll, owner and instructor welcomed Katie with open arms and a bright smile. For the first three weeks Katie, at 10 years old, spent most of the practice time under the table too frightened to join the class. That was the beginning of April 2011.

Under Bridgid's gentle, but firm instruction Katie started thriving. She saw the older girls in the studio as role models and wanted to be like them. It also really helped that she was finally stable and doing well mentally and emotionally. She was able to set goals and achieve them.  She was no longer held captive by her anxiety and fears. She set her sights on the school velvet dress; you have to earn that dress by moving up in skill level. Katie currently performs in the school beginner costume.

About the same time our son Jami started dancing at the age of 6. He also loves it. Like his sister he feels the music deep in his bones.  Timing isn't an issue with him. He just has to wait for his body to catch up with his brain. He's still a bull in a china shop. But there is so much joy there that you don't care that he's not perfect. You watch because he loves it.  He doesn't walk anywhere, he Hop-2-3s. And if you are in our house long enough he'll show you his 'Boy's Only Reel.'



St. Patrick's Day 2012, the Driscoll School of Irish Dance opened for The Elders  at the Uptown Theater for their annual concert. It was a packed house of 1700. The school had been performing a lot in the weeks before St. Pat's, so the night of the concert they did basically the same show they had been doing. The difference that night is that Katie and Jami were the only two from the beginner's class there. They went on by themselves for their part. My two, sister and brother, Aspie and neuro-typical, went out on that stage in front of 1700 people on St. Patrick's Day and danced alone and with the other girls from their school. It was a beautiful thing.

It's August now and less than two weeks from the Kansas City Irish Fest and the Kansas City Feis (Irish dancing competition). Both kids are heavily involved in both events. Five months ago I couldn't have told you what a Feis was. I didn't know anything about wigs, sock glue, arch-support poodle socks and which online supplier to buy shoes from. Katie and Jami are now solidly into competitive Irish dancing.  When each Feis is over they want to know when the next one is. They look forward to the next dance class. There is always some sort of dance music playing in the house, usually with a computer game going at the same time. This fall Jami will be taking two dance classes a week and Katie three.

So when people ask me what my kids do I proudly say they Irish Dance.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Growing up in the 21st Century



I'm still a couple of months from 40. 40 isn't that old. I still feel like a young person that has an older person's body. Maybe not body, but definitely the responsibilities. A couple of things happened this week that reminded me that the world has radically changed in the last 10 years and added a ton more silver hairs. To those of you that have older kids this is probably old news, but to me it rocked my foundations.

I admit we waited until later to have children. I was 28 when Katie was born. Not old, but not young either. I had more mileage under my belt and felt I was more prepared to raise a child being by a bit older and mature than a child myself. Not by any means grown-up, but at least I'd finished most of the college degrees and held a job and worked out the worst of the kinks in my marriage. I also knew that if we waited too long I wouldn't be able to get up with the 2 am feeding without totally not being about to function the next day.

Lately I find myself saying "back in my day" or "when I was in school" we did this or that. I sound like so old. It's like a different person talking, not the person I feel like or hear in my head. I can only imagine that the kids hearing me respond like I did when I heard my Mom or older generations relating their stories. That's nice, but you don't know you're just Mom. I remember thinking that about my own Mom when I was a teenager. What could she know, it was a different world, she was too old and slow for how the world worked today.


Katie started the 6th grade this past week. In our school district that means that she will be in middle school with a locker, changing classes, the works. This fall she also starts taking dance classes three nights a week. She is just becoming a more active preteen. Her father and I decided it was time for her to get a cellphone so we could stay in communication with her and she with us.


In my world of middle school becoming more active just meant that you took 'roller skating' money with you, which was just enough money to call home from a pay phone. There weren't such things are cellphones, cordless phones, room size tvs or even computers when I was Katie's age. When we decided to get Katie a cellphone the discussion went from we'll talk about it to getting her a basic one she could call us on to one that had texting to a fully functioning smart phone in about 24 hours. We ended up getting her an HTC Vivid, which is a very similar phone with the HTC Inspire that I use. We chose it because it is in the HTC family and shares the same chargers and Katie already knows how to work it because she has mastered me phone.


Once the found her phone she went to town starting to customize it. Then she went all cute on me and texted me while we were in Target telling me she was done in one department and was going to the another department to look for something. It caught me by surprise and proved to me what we did the right thing. She does know how to use it responsibly.


The next morning after she left to walk down to the bus stop I texted her to tell her I loved her and to wish her a good day. Part of me felt it was the oddest thing to do, but the other part really liked having the connection to my girl. I also know that Katie will fully utilize the technical aspects of the phone. She doesn't think twice about looking up something she wants to know more about on Google. She has her own gmail account. She has her practice music easily accessible on YouTube. She's downloaded several games to occupy her time while waiting. We will be putting all her mp3s on the phone just to keep everything in one place.


We have made sure she has the family phone numbers and email addresses to be able to contact us. And you know what? She does. I've been receiving texts from her daily just to say Hi and here's what I'm doing and when you can expect me home. This isn't at all what I thought having an 11 yr old would look like. I guess to be honest I didn't know what what the world would look like. None of us did.


What a ride the next ten years are going to be!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Journeys


It's the first day of school here on Osage.  Katie, my eldest, began middle school in the 6th grade, and Jami, the youngest, barreled into 2nd with all the energy of a freight train coming down the tracks above.  I chose the picture above because it signifies journeys, movement, change, the unknown.  Looking at that picture I want to walk down track and see what's around the bend.  Because I'm a Fall Person I love the colors of the tree and the way the sunlight shows through them, but eh, that's just me. :)

Like our children it's the first day of a new journey for us too. While we're not going back to school, each day we choose to walk a path. We can either look backward, look at the ground, stay stationary and look at everything around us, or look forward at what's around bend.  I'm choosing to look forward because it is only in the continuing to move ahead that I can become the person I want to be.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Back Forty

I can just see you scratching your head wondering what it is I mean by "Back Forty." If you know me in real life or if you read the blurb over there on the side you saw that scary phrase 'research historian.' To most people that mean lots of books, papers, names, dates and boring stuff, but not to me. I'm a social historian - material culture (tables, chairs, houses, clothes, that sort of thing). I look at the stuff we use every day and how that had developed over time to make up who we are today. That also includes the the shaping of ideas and thought mostly through society and culture. I once had a professor tell me I wasn't 'Ivory Tower.' I took me some time to decide if that was a slap in the face or a compliment. I take it as a compliment. 

Back to the phrase at hand. LOOK Squirrel! Yeah, I do that a lot. As a historian I collect stories and I like to share stories. It's what makes us who we are. If we are going to learn from our past we need to understand it and teach it to our children and carry it on to as many generations as we can.The phrase 'Back Forty' in popular culture refers to the back part of one's land or one's Forty Acres. In the later part of the Civil War General Sherman issued orders that freed slaves would be given "forty acres and a mule." While the orders didn't last longer than a year, the phrase became a part of our American lexicon. Through the years it has become shortened and manipulated as only Americans can as our culture has had more twists and turns than a tornado slide, but it's basic meaning is still the same: the land over there.

Now I introduce you to The Back Forty of Osage Acres. We live in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, on a decent size piece of property in the middle of town. My husband's family has owned the land since 1952, when they purchased it from probably only the second owners.  Water was run to the property in 1936 according to the records I was able to find. The original farm house was built in the Tudor style of the ca. 1930, 5 years either way, based on the pictures we have from '52 and what we know of the original structure/furnishings in the home. There are many, many stories from the Harris/Morris family about Osage (as we refer to our home) and how the land around it developed.

One thing that has not changed since Uncle Vance and Aunt Lois bought Osage is that our home is still in a constant state of change. We are always working on projects inside and out. We do all the work ourselves, unless we need extra hands or due to illness/injury.

Without further ado and before I get distracted again. Welcome to Osage Acres. Here is our garden for 2012, before the heat and drought destroyed it in July and August.


One of my favorite views is from the back of our property looking at the house. William, my ever so patient husband, built us a two level deck many years ago and I have been working on the flower gardens around it adding perennials every year. This picture was also taken in the Spring before the heat set in. We had a very early Spring this year, so everything greened up and bloomed early.



I also wanted to use the phrase 'Back Forty' because that's something Wm and I will say to each other when we go out to walk our property, think, take in the world and just be. That's one of the things I want to do with this journal. Some of the posts will be public with things I want to share, as well as things I want to remember. Some will be private. My own way of blowing the cobwebs out. I've made a commitment to start writing more and I plan to honor that. Here's to wandering the 'Back Forty' and seeing what I discover.

Monday, August 13, 2012

It feels like Fall

There was a change in the air this morning.  As I stumbled out of the bedroom bleary-eyed and not wanting it to be Monday the house had a chill to it that I wasn't expecting to feel.  It was grey outside with a breeze and sure enough there were leaves coming off the redbuds and the maples.  Not surprising given how parched our land is from the intense heat and drought we've experienced this summer.  What caught my attention as I gazed out the front window was the subtle change in color on a few of the maple branches.  The reds and oranges beginning to take over the greens of the leaves.  It took everything I had not to run to the basement and pull out the fall curtains along with the rest of the traditional fall goodies.

At noon it was still 70 degrees.  I was pinching myself thinking it was a dream.  We've had a very hot summer here in Kansas City and we Fall People have not coped well.  I am pleading to the weather gods not to burst this wonderful bubble just yet.  I finally feel like I'm groovin'.  It's been a summer of pullin' yourself up by your bootstraps and doin' what you have to do because you're the responsible adult, not because you like it at all.  Today is the first day in probably three months I feel like I'm walkin' on water, gliding through the day, lovin' life.  

And what have I done with my day you may ask?  I've been feeling the need to write again.  Google had me merge my accounts and I lost access to my old blog - Musings from Osage Acres.  I was a bit upset about it at first because that's the one I started in 2006.  My original attempt at blogging, but we've grown as a family and I'm in a new place now as a person.  I came to the conclusion that it was time to start fresh, link to the past, but begin a new blog with where I want to go now.  We still live on Osage.  I am still married to the same person with the same beautiful children.  Our menagerie has grown however to include zebra finches and guinea pigs.  We did mourn the loss of our first Schipperke, Shiner, as she has passed over the Rainbow Bridge.

There is a lot more to write.  I want to do a "Brain Dump" to work out some things that have been rolling around in my head.  Now isn't the time though. While I've been formatting this blog, picking the theme and writing, the clock has been laughing at me reminding me that the chores need to be done before it's time to head to dance practice with the eldest.  Small steps as I keep telling myself.  Soon enough the blog will look like I want it to.  Someday I might believe it. :)