Ah, the token pumpkin-fall pics.  Yep, we got them. Janneke's class visited a local farm this week, and Rachel's class had in-class fall fun this week.  The school staff hooked Rachel's switch to the mixer in their cooking session.  She loved being a part of the action! Rachel brought home pumpkin pie tarts that we devoured.

Em and Soph had the day off on Friday, so they came along on Janneke's class trip.  Janneke gave us all a big smile, and she preferred to lay her head on her sister's lap instead of sit up for the wagon ride. Watching the sister interaction is always a treat.

Sometimes I am asked what I do with my time.  At this point, I am not working outside the home due to family circumstance, and there are times when I mourn the gap between my BA and almost-MA with my typical day....  I didn't think my university education would be preparing me for this.  

Yet, the days are filled with such a variety of experiences, it's like a liberal arts life.  There is no set routine, and a day (when the kids are healthy) might include anything from volunteering at the kids' schools/centre to phonecalls with a doctor about a prescription and upcoming appointment to parent advocacy meetings to staring out the window at nothing in particular (due to consistent wonky sleep schedule ) to visiting with a friend - and then there's the laundry, the family needs supper (again?), and looking after Luna (the dog).  Who ate glitter again. 

This week, I co-led a parent presentation with a social worker friend of mine.  From time to time, Ralph and I are asked to share our story, and I find each session to be memorable.  We don't share our story to draw extra attention to ourselves; we share our story because we wish for more parents to tell their stories. Each time we gather together, someone mentions how the words that were shared have helped them articulate their own feelings. It's the "I'm-not-alone" realization that brings tears and laughter among strangers. 

The group of parents I met this week all have different stories from mine, but we share a common bond in our kids being unique from "normal" - and we are all on a journey of creating a new normal.  One mom shared that for a time, she thought she was looking for balance, yet, more recently, she has changed her quest - not for balance but for harmony.  Her life and the complexities of it were teaching her that there might never be a balance of good and not-so-good or a balance in time, sleep, activity, stress.... Instead, she was learning all of the bits and pieces in her life could create a kind of harmony.  

I think many of us, no matter the circumstance, are anxious to create meaning from what unexpectedly happens to us.  We seek to draw lines around the story, so we can find balance and something familiar.  Maybe it's fear of the unknown and of the future that drives us to desperately find the meaning and purpose.  In trying to find balance, we become more frustrated. There may never be clear meaning in this earthly life; trust and hope become big words to swallow.    

So harmony it is.  Learning to let all the stuff -good and not-so-good- create a new song, a new normal that isn't always familiar, isn't always what we want, and isn't nicely balanced.  But, there's still good in it.    

I loved these two photos sent to me this week.  They show Rachel reaching new steps in her life - being willing to experience autumn with her feet and hands.  Pumpkin seeds and leaves.  So cool.

I want to hang on to these good bits, so when the not-so-good creeps in again, I am encouraged to hope and trust.  This week, I read an article about a mom who wished her son's life hadn't been.  Her adult son with special needs cost her much joy in their family's life, and you could feel the enormous heartache through her story.  My heart hurt so much -for me and for her- when I read her words. Though her journey and decisions are different from ours, some of her anger and sorrow is familiar.

We give thanks for the lives of our girls, and we give thanks for the support that comes from family, friends, and parent presentations that turn strangers into friends.  Life isn't meant to be lived independently.  Sometimes, when it's a tough moment here in our house, Ralph and I will say to each other, "Remember, we're in this together." Not alone.

wishing for peace,