Monday, May 23, 2011

Wounded Warrior Project Alumni Summit

How awesome is it that I can blog from the passenger seat in the car? I can remember talking about how cool it would be to have hand held computers someday in some years past, and look at this! I call it a phone, but its a computer.  I don't remember how long ago it was that a
handheld computer seemed impossible. But I do know that technology isn't the only thing that has changed since that time. Our world has changed, our communities have changed, our families have changed. Even we as individuals have evolved. Our values, beliefs, friendships, activities; nothing is really the same. There is beauty in that. We each have been shaped by our experiences, whatever they may be.
This weekend Cave Dude and I were invited by Wounded Warrior Project to participate in the West Coast Alumni Summit. What a wonderful opportunity to learn about the programs WWP has to offer, why they offer them, and who potentially qualifies for the various programs. We were encouraged to participate, spread the word, and be an active part in this community of military service members. Who makes up the community? Former and current service members who have experienced an illness or injury as a result of military service post 9/11, and their caregivers.
It was wonderful to find peers within this community of people who have acknowledged that they don't want to be defined in a negative way by their experiences as a warrior or caregiver. The WWP brought with them fun, information exchange and networking, and healing opportunities. The warriors and caregivers brought with them a willingness to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
My favorite part of the weekend was meeting as a group of careg with Lisa of for a wonderful presentation about finding happiness within the circumstances that we find ourselves, realizing our intention for happiness, and understanding that happiness is not one-size-fits-all! I could have done a full two-day seminar with Lisa...she exuded kindness and respect for humanity. I loved her statement/advice:"if its kind and its legal, go for it". Lisa is also the founder of which is the Harvesting Happiness curriculum, with emphasis on helping those suffering the emotional wounds of war find their happy identity once again.
During the session Lisa mentioned allowing our problems to wash over us like waves.  I loved that visualization. Not only am I a born and bred lover of the ocean, but we were just steps from the ocean during our stay, and the metaphor struck a chord in me.  Here's why; Not long ago I shared with CaveDude the advice I had received as a kid learning to surf: if you get caught in the impact zone, if you're being tossed around like a rag in a washing machine, cover your head, relax, and let the water bring you to the surface. As I have found myself contemplating the idea of considering problems as waves I realize that waves are the perfect analogy. They are real, they are abundant, they can be powerful. The wave's act of washing over a beach changes the beach. Sometimes the changes are subtle, barely noticeable to the naked eye, other times the entire landscape is changed permanently by the destructive forces of a storm or tsunami wave. But the inherent truth about waves, is that no matter how powerful, no matter how destructive, no matter the size, shape, or path of the wave, the wave never has the power to convince a rock to quit being a rock, or sand to stop being sand, but it does have the power to create something more beautiful out of the rock and sand as the elements clash together in the tumbling action of the sea.  There's something in that thought for my soul, and my soul is strengthened by the thought. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to listen to Lisa's perspective on harvesting my happiness, and I see that my seeds are beginning to sprout as I take comfort in knowing that happiness can be my very own version of joy.

Walking down the road of discovery with Wounded Warrior Project and the other Alumni opened my eyes to more possibility than I had imagined existed.  This is an organization who has truly made every effort to look at the needs of a service member turned civilian in the context of our post 9-11 world from a 360 degree view.  As a designated caregiver, a title I have struggled with, I could recognize that not only do they want to treat the warrior as a whole person (mind, body, spirit) but that they also make every effort to heal the family of the warrior as well.  At the Wounded Warrior Project, West Coast Alumni Summit, I could see that they take their mission very seriously, which is to say, they also know how to have fun, big time.
For our Minds we were treated to a talk and meet and greet with medal of honor recipient Tibor "Teddy" Rubin who told humorous stories about his survival as a teenager in Nazi concentration camps in his native Hungary and again as a private in the US ARMY in Korea.  That's right HUMOROUS stories, about being a prisoner of war.  For our bodies, we enjoyed hour long massages and a eucalyptus steam bath (remind me next time to wear my swim suit so I can really enjoy that steam!) I dare say, for our bodies we also enjoyed the best bed I have ever slept in, everybody was raving about the awesome beds at L'auberge Del Mar.  For our spirits we were treated to team building exercises (you know the one's you never want to do, but are always glad you did later in the day when you realize you have a new friend, and you might not have met that person without the stupid games you had to play together?) and of course our spirits were also fed with fun and good food.  The ocean at our back door didn't hurt either ;)

For more information about the Wounded Warrior Project, their programs, who qualifies to receive services, or to donate, visit  For more info on Harvesting Happiness or HH4Heroes visit or

Friday, May 13, 2011

And we get to watch a movie about PUBERTY!

Or...roadtripping with boys.
Or...conversations I will let you finish with your own parents. to derail a perfectly nice conversation in .28 seconds
Or...when three boys chanting "fart, fart, fart" is actually more enjoyable than what was happening just moments ago tweenage boys can make a young lady blush
Anything but this topic on a road trip, please?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Diagnosis: hypocrite

Not too long ago I wrote about how wonderfuly empowering asking for and receiving mental health care has been for the adult cave-people in this clan. I like to think I am relatively good at followingy own advice. When a need exists, it is strength, not weakness that permits one to cross the threshold into the professional's office and sit down in the big comfy chair.
But I find myself conflicted as I turn over again and again in my mind the suggestion that there is something wrong with my son that is greater than just not trying hard enough, or as simple as being emotionally immature.
I have counseled with teachers, administrators, friends, and friends with personal experience. It seems the general consensus is Cave dude jr could use some professional help and it should start with somebody who can diagnose Asperger's syndrome. Its hard to hear. Its even harder because the suggestions have been made in such a loving and concerned way. It makes it impossible to be angry or in denial when people act genuinely concerned that a child gets every resource he needs to be successful and that they just need him to be diagnosed so they can give him more.
But the part of me that is insecure and feels the need to interpret every challenge as first : proof that I'm not trying hard enough, and second: an opportunity to try harder, wonders if we just aren't effective enough in our parenting? What of all he needs is _________? What if seeking a diagnosis really is just seeking to absolve a couple of cave people of their neanderthal parenting style?  What if he gets diagnosed and now suddenly he's allowed to get away with murder at school, and poor grades from a previously above average academic student are now acceptable because he's. " special".
It all stresses me out. Friends in the know have advised to proceed with caution, other friends have said what can it hurt? At least you'll ha e a better frame ofreference for his " normal". Other friends have supported the "try harder" theory.
Even as I write this,  I know the right answer is to consult with professionals. But part of me is scared. What if being labeled steals his dreams for his adult life? How do I answer that? What if not being labeled and therefore not receiving additional learning and social resources steal his dreams? What if, what if, what if?
In the meantime, this wonderful little saber-toothed cub is home from school for two days while we try to discipline him in a way that makes a difference and curbs future outbursts, a task that has previously proven itself difficult at best. And what do I want? First to pike up this headache that is ravaging my brain and bowels, and second to talk with my counselor, stat.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cute recycled craft gift boxes for Mother's day

These cute recycled gift boxes for Mother's day couldn't be easier, or more fun to make!
Truth be known, these lean more towards the repurposing or reusing side of the whole "reduce, reuse, recycle" trifecta of greenery (what!? What other word do you suggest I use as a verb to describe the act of being "green"?) I have always loved little boxes. I have a very difficult time convincing myself that cute little boxes do not need to be kept. So when I purchased some small wheels of brie a couple of months back I knew I would be repurposing the cute little round boxes that contained that delicious buttery cheese. (By the way...brie baked with a little ChefTess' onion and balsamic jam is to DIE for...)
Happy Mother'S day! My mother and Cave dude Sr.'s mother will each be receiving one of these cute boxes filled with something wonderful. (Mom, if you read this...I'll hand deliver two weeks late! )
If you want to try your hand at recycling or repurposing a cute little crafted box for yourself or your mother, here is what you'll need :
-box of any size or shape in good condition
-mod podge™
-foam brush
-colored or patterned paper of multiple types
- sharp scissors
- hole punch for dots
Opptional- permanent markers, glitter, sequins, rhinestones, etc.
Start by choosing the first surface to work on an coat it thinly in mod podge™ then cover box in preferred  base paper (try picking a patterned paper for extra interest!)
Be creative as you add layers and shapes and textures for your own unique results.
-Cave Mom

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Twentyfirst century digital boy

Twentyfirst century digital boy or "When cave dudes go techno".
As cave moms go, I like to consider myself not exactly a tech-head, but certainly willing to adapt to new technology. But the recent acquisition of a smart phone has, well...kicked my techno butt.
When I say my 8 year old has picked up the device and quite intuitively operated it, I don't pretend that we are somehow unique, jokes about kids setting vcr's for grandpa have made the rounds for decades. Its normal and right. Kids have adapted to technology faster than adults, probably since the invention of the phonograph (heavens what would they think of ipods?).
However, even a mom like me who knows none of this is unusual, can still be momentarily taken by surprise by an unexpected tech-y moment, like when jr. Cave dude asked for his allowance to be loaded onto a prepaid debit card. A what?! A prepaid debit he can make purchases online, because "  there's better stuff online and sometimes its cheaper too."
While I appreciate the argument,I wonder how that practice would translate into developing a real sense of the value of one's earnings?  I am absolutely positive that it is possible for him to learn the lesson in a way that is different from the way his parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents learned the value of their earnings.  The problem lies  with the teachers. As adults we have easily adapted to the evil that is money you never get to see. Our parents and grandparents warned us that ATMs weren't a good idea, that having such easy access to one's money could only spell disaster. But what did we do with those lessons? We gave them an "awe mom stop being so old fashioned" followed by a quick 4 digit pin and twenty bucks shooting out a magic door. We walked contentedly away from the magic money machine and set  ourselves on course to become perhaps the worst generation of money managers since...ever?
As parents, even cave dwellers want something better for our babies than what we have had. And so for now, lacking any other strategy in our arsenal of money management skills,allowance will be paid in good old fashioned green stuff...even to that twentyfirst century digital boy who thinks a debit card is a perfectly appropriate allowance handling system for an eight year old.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Kung-Fu zen wierd

I'm pretty sure when your husband says "I don't want to scare you, but I kinda want to get weird, like kung-fu-zen weird" you should expect change on the horizon.  What will that change be?  Who even knows. But I have to admit, if kung-fu-zen weird is the direction we're headed, I can deal with that.  It sure beats tattooed freak biker wierd. At least we can assume that kung-fu-zen weird is a peaceful existence, I can be down with that.