Momma Monday- The advocate in me wins out

While I myself am no sportsman, a dear friend of our family, John Motoviloff ; is an avid hunter, fisherman and outdoor writer. Many of my happy memories of Madison involve home-cooked, hunted and gathered meals and the ensuing discussions of the meal itself with his lovely family. I can relate to food and where it comes from and have a great appreciation for that now. While I would sadly have to become a vegetarian if I was responsible for the hunting and gathering in my own home- knowing John and his pure appreciation for nature, animals and the world around us has helped me to see that not all hunters are just out there for the joy of shootin’ somethin’ up.

When we lived in St. Louis, Missouri; I had the pleasure of working for a wonderful organization called- The Recreation Council of Greater St. Louis. In my tenure there I had the opportunity to participate in many outings that were arranged to provide recreation and social opportunities for all individuals with developmental disABILITIES. Their mission is to ensure that all people, regardless of ability are aware of and have access to activities and programs of their choice. This is one of the kindest, cleverest and energy-filled groups you could hope to work with. If there is an idea of an activity that someone likes to do- they will help figure out how to give everyone the opportunity. While there, we participated in sailing and bicycling expeditions as well as working closely with the local parks and recreation departments to make sure that the local parks were available and accessible to everyone. They also would assist individuals and families financially to make their recreation hopes and dreams come true with funding for activities and camps of their choice.

It is in the spirit of these two paths in my life that I want to point out another organization that is providing recreation around the country to people with disabilities or critical illnesses. Last week I heard a promotion on the radio for a non-profit organization called United Special Sportsman Alliance. They can be located at The woman who was describing their organization talked about how they are able to fill a void that is in the scheme of The Make-A-Wish foundation. Make-A-Wish deems hunting and fishing too dangerous of a dream to grant. USSA grants wishes to children who are critically ill or have a disability that are dreaming of the opportunity to try hunting or fishing. They schedule events all over the country where professional hunters and anglers donate their time and their tags to help make these dreams come true. They even described an upcoming bear hunt where people who have waited 10 years for their name to come up in the lottery to get a tag have donated them.

If you know of a child who has an interest in hunting or fishing and hasn’t had the opportunity due to accessibility issues such as the child uses a wheelchair and you aren’t sure how they could get on a boat or out in the woods to hunt- contact this organization to see if they are near you. They have the experience, the equipment and the heart to help! Way to go USSA!

Gratitude Journal



PICT0833Sundays are going to be dedicated to appreciating my life. Many moons ago when Oprah talked about starting a Gratitude Journal the idea resonated with me. I’ve made repeated attempts since my early years to keep a journal or diary and always ended up disappointed in the mundanity of my thoughts when I would look back at it. Was I really that aware of having had pizza and cookies for school lunch on fridays (well knowing me I was).  I’ve often found I have little time for reflection. And reflection is something I want to invite into my life. Early on in graduate school we were encouraged to keep a Gratitude Journal. To think of 3 things we were grateful for each day. Since then, I often find myself making these lists in my head- ranging from the beauty of God’s green earth- to the green peas on my plate- to the episode of Arrested Development that made me laugh out loud. Typically nothing too lofty- but somehow as a whole they seem to show a more accurate reflection on my life at that time when I look back at the lists then prose I tried to create. These lists are simple, concise and effective at drawing up a pleasant memory of that time. So it seems only right that here in The Tao of Tulips I should take some time each week to reflect back on what I was grateful for- in hopes of drawing more of it from the universe in the days to come.

This week:

1. 9 years with Lovey

2. Calhoun Corner’s fresh bread and butter

3. a steady growth curve for The Quail

4.  a job in this economy

5. dear friends inviting us to share their meals

6. chocolate soy milk


8. antibiotics

9. raspberry coconut twists from The Village Baker

10. Broccoli recipes from dear Pam

11. laundry to fold

12. Jodie

13. Big Cookies

14. Sookie Stackhouse

15. Naia

16. Down Syndrome new Mama

17. Edamame

18. cell phones

19. kind police officers offering statistics on auto injuries rather then tickets

20. my blog

21. my family

Letters to my Loves

Zuzu talking to Momma October 2006

Zuzu talking to Momma October 2006

Dear Zuzu-

I promise to have a conversation with you that will last a lifetime.

Everyone speaks about the difference in the first year of growth and the second year of growth. But not much is said about the third. What you hear about is the physical changes that go on. But you, my dear Zuzu have soared in this last year. Not only do you barely physically resemble the toddler you were a mere 10 months ago- but your ability to make yourself understood at such a young age continually astounds me.  When you were born- you came out hollaring. You would be heard. You were being induced out of me at 41 weeks of gestation and you were not pleased. You let us know how you felt about it and we listened- all day and all night- for many weeks. The first time you said Mama was during one of the nights you had a horrible fever and we had you cooling in a tub. You again did not want to be out of mamas arms and you let us know. These days there is rarely a one word sentence that comes out of your mouth. It is more like a paragraph- and typically one that I recited to you earlier in the week. I love it. I love how free you feel to tell me what you know, what you think, what you want and what you feel. I know I don’t always deal with it well in the moment. Sometimes it is hard to hear past my own needs for sleep or food or quiet. But trust me- I hear you and I am so very grateful that you are talking to us. Hearing your words, your tone, your exact mimicry of myself is astounding to me. It makes me want to be a better person and it pushes to me there.

One of my favorite things in life right now is your early morning chatter. Since you were able to put two words together you have always been chipper in the wee hours of the morning. When you wake up you tell me that you had a good night, you had sweet dreams, you love me and your daddy and your “stister”. If your sister is up before you; you coo over her about what a good baby she is, how she is your best friend, how much you love her and what a good job she is doing. I know these are all things you have heard us say to her and have made these words your own. You say them to her with such joy and caring- well beyond your almost 3 years. Hearing you makes me realize that we have done something right as frazzled new parents and ironically it is something that no book could have taught us. We’ve talked to you continually since you were kicking in my belly and you have answered back. And now that you have been transformed into a big sister you have embraced that with the same vivaciousness that we have embraced you. You are an amazing big sister- so caring, concerned, sensitve, fun and loving. I know that these qualities have been engrained in your character- because they all flow from you towards us and your sister unprompted.

Our conversations get more and more involved- already- at two! You are my mirror- you reflect back to me what I have shown you or what you have viewed in me- whether I was aware you were watching or not.  And now with your enhanced vocabularly-you are often able to remind me when I am not being my best self and to call me out on it. Just yesterday you said- rather calmly, ” Mommie- you make people sad when you are frustrated with them.” You can only guess what was going on that prompted that commentary from you. I love, love, love though that you can hear my frustration – (definately not my best self when I am airing it to you)- and calmly and so objectively and rationally point it out to me to give me another chance to be the good momma for you. Hearing you say that reminds me that I don’t want to sound that way with you and I do have other options. I learn so much about being a good person from you and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead of us in our futures together.  You have so much to say already. You know yourself so well and have such a sense of self and confidence. I promise to never take that from you. And I promise to listen to you, your words and your heart. And if I forget- just keep reminding me!

Love, Momma

Foto Friday

Local Produce

Local Produce



One of the activities I do that I would consider an interest or hobby is to take photographs- primarily of flowers or my small ones. I love, love, love looking at them and you will find a number of them printed and framed all over The House of Two Gables if you come and visit us! This one is from August 2005. Since moving to our little nest south of the Foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains; we have tried to become good Southern Gardeners. Our yard has rebelled with force. The general rule of green thumb here is- if it was planted by Ms. Lillian before we lived here- it stays and blooms with abandon, if we tried to plant and cultivate it after we moved here; it will return to the Earth.  Sigh….many, many lovely plants from  local nurseries as well as the Jockey Lot have met their Maker under our care. But the lovely pomegranate tree that Ms. Lillian planted many moons ago still produces it’s super fruit. Now if we could just figure out how to get them down.

The Quail- Pure Joy





I feel such a sense of peace, calm, joy & completeness since The Quail has come into our lives.  I can’t imagine if I hadn’t gotten to have Zuzu & her in my life what could possibly bring me that feeling. It’s like my life has always been working it’s way up to this place in time and I was just impatient to get there. When I think back on my childhood, my education, my work history, my life with Lovey pre-children- I now can see my life as a whole- as a path or journey that I have been on since it began. I’m meant to be where I am, I’m meant to have the life I do. I am so very blessed. I can feel that there are more positive changes to come in our future and I’m finally able to relax and wait for them rather then feeling like something was missing and wondering what it was. 


When Lovey and I were first dating, well over a decade ago,  we used to take a lot of long car trips. And just about every trip I would try to engage Lovey into the same conversation- “What if we have a child who has a disability?” Well Lovey has never been one for hypothetical’s. He always responded that we would deal with it then. It is a strange conversation to start up repeatedly with someone you are only dating- I see that now. But it seemed to be subconsciously important- since I would return to it again and again. Here we are 13 years later- happily entwined in our remarkable lives- and ever so thankful for them and the people in them. Love, joy, contentment and presence- what more can we ask for out of our lives.


Ps- and in case that sounds too lofty, pretentious, sappy or the like- yes- we still get mad when the milk spills all over the floor, the baby throws up and poops on my just washed pants, I’m running late yet again, I’ve lost my car keys for the 13th time today, there is no milk in the house, the mouse evaded the trap but managed to eat the cheese, the laundry hasn’t folded itself, I have a blinding migraine and my toddler reminds me for the 4th time today- “Mommy you have to be nice to people who are trying to take their shoes off.”. We are after all only human.

Anniversary Song

anniversary dance0002

Have you ever seen a sight as beautiful
as that of the rain-soaked purple
of the white birch in spring?

Have you ever felt more fresh or wonderful
than on a warm fall night
under a Mackerel sky,
the smell of grapes on the wind?

Well I have known all these things
and the joys that they can bring
And I’ll share them all for a cup of coffee
and to wear your ring

Have you ever had the pleasure of watching
a quiet winter’s snow slowly gathering
like simple moments adding up?

Have you ever satisfied a gut feeling
to follow a dry dirt road that’s beckoning you
to the heart of a shimmering summer’s day?

Well I have known all these things
and the joys that they can bring
And I’ll share them all for a cup of coffee
and to wear your ring

And I don’t know how I survived those days
before I held your hand
Well I never thought that I would be the one
to admit that the moon and the sun
shine so much more brighter when
seen through two pairs of eyes than
when seen through just one

Have you ever seen a sight as beautiful
as a face in a crowd of people
that lights up just for you?

Have you ever felt more fresh or wonderful
as when you wake
by the side of that boy or girl
who has pledged their love to you?

Well I have known all these things
and the joys that they can bring
And now every morning there’s a cup of coffee
and I wear your ring

-The Cowboy Junkies


Thank you for 9 delicious years of love, laughter and adventure-

Forever yours- Cole

Zuzu- A girl and her tutu


Zuzu has been an aspiring ballerina for many months of her small life now. She is very near the glorious age that allows her to participate in the real deal- Dance Class- she is as excited as I have seen her to date. Every morning she wakes and says, “Momma- Miss Fain called and we have to go to Dance Class now!”  Soon, dear heart, soon…