Momalom’s Five for Five

Posted in Five for Five with tags on April 19, 2012 by czriley

Well, hallelujah! Momalom (an amazing blog by two sisters that I highly recommend) is hosting Five for Five – their gift to all us bloggers that need a little inspiration. Basic idea – they give us five topics and they write about one each day for five days. Those of us playing along do the same. Then we all read each other’s posts. And this way we get something to blog about – which I desperately need – and get to “meet” fellow bloggers and have a big discussion on whatever the topic of the day is. And you, dear reader, actually get something to read on my blog! Amazing!
Here are the topics – the fun starts next week on Monday (April 23rd) Can’t wait!!
Monday – Change
Tuesday – Words
Wednesday – Pictures
Thursday – Age
Friday – Listening

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Did You Miss Me?

Posted in Politics with tags , on January 19, 2012 by czriley

Ok,, the protest is over and I’m back online. I tried to avoid using the Internet at all yesterday. No Facebook, no Twitter, no YouTube, no WordPress. And mainly what it did was show me just how much time I spend on my computer – TOO MUCH! But it sounds like the overall protest did make Congress sit up and take notice, which is good. One local Congresswoman even joined in, which is great! Hopefully they will all step back, and figure out some law that actually just stops online piracy. Because online piracy is definitely a bad thing. But so is censorship. It will be interesting to see what happens next!

SAY NO TO SOPA!

Posted in Politics, Rants with tags , on January 17, 2012 by czriley

Wednesday, January 18th, many websites will be dark in protest against SOPA and PIPA. Other websites and authors have done a better job describing the situation and the reasons for the protest than I can. In particular check out George Takei at http://www.allegiancemusical.com/blog-entry/day-no-takei Basically, what is being sold as a way to end internet piracy can, in fact, seriously curtail freedom of speech. I wasn’t able to figure out any of the fancy plug-ins to make my page show some cool graphic, or re-direct you to a site that explains more, so I’m just telling you about it.
I know, I know, me staying off Facebook, Twitter and WordPress will not have world-shattering implications. I suspect I’m the only one who will notice, quite honestly. Even so, I want to stand up in my own small corner of the web and be counted with the rest of the people who believe in freedom of speech. Censorship is wrong, and completely un-American. Stand with us, and tell Congress NO on SOPA!! And join our protest. Even a drop of water will wear away a stone eventually – imagine millions of drops. See you after the 18th.

In the Night

Posted in Deep Thoughts with tags on November 28, 2011 by czriley

It’s late at night. The kids are finally all in bed. Even my husband has gone to bed. So it’s just me and the animals (4 cats, 1 dog) I’ve been sipping a lovely cup of hot chocolate with a generous splash of Bailey’s (yum!) and listening to some amazing piano music (http://soundcloud.com/grantwilsonpiano) Peace settles over me, over the house. It’s so wonderful, this all too brief moment when I can just sit and be. No demands, nothing I have to do right this minute. Bed awaits, and I will go there soon, but for now I just want to take some time to revel in this quiet. The day’s stress falls away – mere background noise. It will all be there, waiting for me when I wake up. But for now, I can ignore it. It brings tears to my eyes, this sense of peace, of relief from the usual day to day hassles. Everything falls into place, somehow, and the world feels right. And I can remember, not the petty annoyances each child has caused me today, but how wonderful they all are. How much I really love them. Of course I always love them, but in the middle of an argument it can be hard to remember. Right now, in the peace, it’s easy.
This feeling reminds me of a line from one of my favorite Dorothy L. Sayers novels. It goes something like “Here in the still center of the world” That is where I am tonight – the still center of my world. And it is a beautiful place. One I need to visit a lot more often. May you find your own still center.

“Inspirational” Videos

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Parenting, Rants on November 27, 2011 by czriley

If you are on Facebook, I’m sure at some point you’ve had a friend post a link to a video. Usually silly, sometimes they post videos that are supposed to be inspirational or moving. I don’t always find the video as funny or inspirational as the person who posted it, but the worst that happens is that I waste a few minutes and go on with my life. Not this time.
A friend posted a video with the title “How One Family’s Horrific Tragedy turned into an Unbelievable Miracle – a Must See” Sounds very inspirational, right? How wrong I was. The horrific tragedy? Mom driving 3 small children in mini-van when they get in an accident. With a huge truck. The picture was chilling – the back part of the mini-van was barely recognizable. And I’m thinking that the miracle must have been that the kids survived somehow, right? Please? Wrong. They slowly go through the sequence of events, as this family loses all 3 of their young children. And I’m sitting there, stunned and crying. I have 3 kids and I drive a mini-van – I can only too easily imagine myself in their shoes. My heart is breaking for these people I will never know. Where the heck is the miracle in all of this?  You are then subjected to what seemed like HOURS of photos of the adorable children, while really sad music plays in the background.  I wanted to yell at the screen “Okay already, we get it!  They were adorable!  They’re all dead now.  WHERE IS THE MIRACLE??”  Finally, in the last minute or so of the video, we get the miracle.  The parents had triplets 2 years after losing their other children.  And the triplets are the same genders as the children they lost.

Of course I’m happy that this family has more children to love.  And, yes, I believe it’s outside the realm of coincidence that they had triplets who are the same genders as the children they lost.  But did I find this video inspirational?  Hell no!!!  Well over 5 minutes of horror and heartbreak, 2 minutes or less of miracle.

What’s my point here?  I’m not sure I know, exactly.  I guess it’s a cautionary tale – be careful what videos you watch, hug your children and tell them you love them because life has no guarantees.  But I’m still left wondering – where is the miracle in all this?  Because in the end, these parents went through horror and heartache beyond imagining.  And nothing can make up for that.

The Perfect Parent

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Parenting with tags on April 28, 2011 by czriley

Do you believe in the myth of The Perfect Parent?  I used to. I spent many years, blaming my parents for all the things they did or didn’t do. The mistakes, the unkind words, the ridiculous rules. I could cite every instance where they hadn’t done the right thing, the thing that I most needed them to do. Poor me – what awful parents they were! They didn’t understand me, they didn’t give me the love and compassion I needed, they just didn’t do anything right. Ever.
So there I was, stuck.  Angry with them for all the things they weren’t, and all the things they were. Why were they so awful? How could they have done this to me? Then there came a day where my therapist (yes, I was in therapy, though not just because of my awful parents) suggested that, just maybe, my parents had done the best they could. And that, really, what more could I ask of them? Treason! Heresy! They should have…. But, wait. I started to think about that. What a radical idea – my parents did their best. But what about the time…. Yes, even then. And gradually, it dawned on me. My parents? They’re HUMAN! And like any human, they are NOT perfect! So, no, of course they weren’t the perfect parents. And they had a lot working against them. A couple of young, rebellious kids from a tiny town in the Midwest. They got married as soon as Mom graduated from high school, then became parents 2 days short of exactly 9 months after their wedding. Mom was just 19, Dad was 20. What kind of parent would I have been at that age? (I shudder to think) They struggled for years with little income as Dad went to college, added another child a few years later. We lived in married student housing with mice and cockroaches, and those years are some of the happiest memories I have. But I digress. The point is – they had things hard. And they were so young. They barely had time to get used to being married and adults, and then they had to be parents as well. And I’m certain I was not exactly an easy child to raise. So, yes, they made mistakes. They did not give me everything I needed emotionally. They were never perfect – and they still aren’t. But they did the best they could. And I came to realize that their best was enough.
Now I am a parent, too, and this whole thing comes into clearer perspective. God only knows I wish I could be the perfect parent. Never yell and lose my temper, never say or do the wrong thing, always be exactly what each of my three children needs me to be. Yet, no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I love them, I can never be perfect. All I can do, just like my own parents, is my best. Some days that might not be saying much. But what more is there?

My parents love me.  And they did their best.  And now I understand just how much that means.

In Support of CCI

Posted in CCI with tags on February 7, 2011 by czriley

As some of you reading this know, I am a volunteer for Canine Companions for Independence. I am a Breeder Caretaker, which means I have custody of one of their breeder dogs. My job is to take care of her, help her whelp her litters, then care for the puppies until they are 8 weeks old. Now that my breeder is retired, meaning she is done having her litters and has been spayed, my only job is to take care of her.
Lately there has been much negative publicity about CCI, including some really hateful comments on the CCI Facebook page. The basic story, as I know it, is this – A doctor had a CCI Service Dog. He was doing something with the dog that CCI thought endangered the dog. I don’t know exactly what he was doing, but it sounds like part of it was allowing the dog off-leash in unenclosed areas. CCI worked with the man for a year to try to resolve the problem, and apparently the man did not change whatever it was that he was doing. So CCI took the Service Dog away from him.
Let me say first – I feel sorry for the man’s loss of his dog. I’ve seen firsthand how much these dogs mean to their people and it must be heartbreaking to lose one. I also feel sorry for the dog, who must be missing his person and his job helping that person. But I also know that CCI would not make this decision lightly or arbitrarily. They worked with this man for a YEAR, and yet he refused to change his behavior. The man knew if he did not change that the dog would be taken away, and yet he refused to change. Now he’s been quoted as saying that if all it takes is making sure his dog is on leash all the time then he’s happy to do that. But, if that was all it took, then why didn’t he do that before?
I do not believe that CCI is staffed by saints, but I also do not believe that it is staffed by cruel, heartless people. As far as I can tell, both from my own perspective and from talking and listening to other volunteers, the reason we’re all involved in CCI is because we want to help people. And because we love dogs. And CCI has been helping people, thousands of people, for 35 years now. And they do it for free. These dogs, specially bred and highly trained, are given to the people who need them completely free of charge. Yes, CCI does retain legal ownership of the dog, but only so they are able to protect the dog if the need arises, as it seems to have in this case. And I have to say that, as a breeder caretaker, the thought that CCI continues to watch over “my” puppies when I no longer can helps me sleep at night. I love every one of the 39 pups that were born here, and letting them go was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Knowing that they would always be safe and loved helped.
Everyone involved in CCI, from the Breeder Caretakers and Puppy Raisers to the trainers, vet clinic, and kennel staff to the people who staff the regional and national offices pours their heart and soul into each and every one of these dogs. I think that’s part of what makes them so special. CCI makes it clear from day one just what they expect from those of us they trust to care for one of their dogs. I love my dog and would do whatever it takes to keep her – why would this man not do the same?