Tonight a little old lady passed away at a nursing home. She was my Aunt Sarabeth and she was my favorite.
I haven't written anything for a while, I haven't felt much like it. Life has been busy, new job, new responsibilities, growing kids and so writing has fallen to the wayside. But for some reason I feel like I want to talk about her as she was very special to me.
Over the last several years Aunt Sarabeth has had dementia. She didn't always remember people or things that had happened. The last time we spoke was when my brothers went to see her and they face-timed her to me. Happily she knew who I was, she even remembered Stephanie, of course she thought she was 4 and was surprised when I said she was a teenager, but she let the surprise pass and went on to tell me in her sweet southern drawl, "I sure do love you baby girl" (this should be pronounced: I shor du luuuuuvv you baybe gurl).
My childhood was spent taking many trips to Louisiana to visit my Dad's side of the family. My Aunt Sarabeth who was my Dad's big sister would always take me and my brothers to do the fun things, we would spend the night with her, she would take us to eat food at random open restaurants on Christmas evening, to see movies or we would just visit and spend time together. But more then the things we did together when I was little, she was so funny. She was so southern, so politically incorrect, so good at using words in a way that I'll never master.
When Ryan and I were just dating (well we were living together, but nobody in the South knew that at the time) I took him to Louisiana for Thanksgiving and to meet my family. Ryan and I went to my Aunt Sarabeth's house for a visit and she gave my husband an epic first impression. She had polio as a child so walking was hard and she mostly used a wheelchair or just sat in a chair in the living room and hollered at whoever was nearby. In this case it was her dog Quinn. That dog was beautiful but kind-of naughty. He was big and acted like a toddler who just learned to walk and just discovered that there was a world to explore. Her was of controlling him was to spray him with a water bottle, but with her drawl, way with words and excited giggly voice, it was hilarious. Ryan, my California born and bred boyfriend was captivated and still to this day talks fondly about that visit to her house.
The last time I went to Louisiana was in 2006, Stephanie was 14 months old and we went to visit my Granny who was in an assisted living facility. When I was there, my Aunt Sarabeth pulled me aside and told me how much it meant that my mom and I would send Granny pictures and how much it meant for us to come down as Granny would love to just look through all the pictures we would send. I remember hugging her and saying how I wished I could visit more often, she just said simply, "me too baby girl". She had a way of being comforting with only a few words / but also feel quite guilty for living far away, all at the same time, it was gift I haven't figured out how to do....yet.
When I was grieving the loss of my Granny I was speaking with my Aunt and all I really wanted was a picture I remember seeing on her dresser which was my Granny in her wedding gown. Whenever we visited I used to sleep in my Granny's room so I used to alway look at that picture. She was so sweet to give it to me with a little note that I keep in the back of the frame. I love the letter, only my Aunt would mention how much my Granny weighed when she was married.....78 lbs....(btw, I say no chance, that is less than my 11 year old very skinny child). But if she said it was true, then I suppose I'm not here to argue.
I'll miss having her on earth, but I know she is in my Granny's arms and for that I am at peace. I suppose it's time for me to plan a trip to Louisiana. I could use a big dose of some of my favorite southern cousins....xo
Hi Sweet Girl,
Hard to believe it has been 2 years since you went to Heaven. Today we celebrated your life, your friendships and what you meant to a group of kids and to our community.
Your friends are all growing up so much. The gang is all turning 13 this year. Steph drives me crazy on most days, apparently red-headed hormones are the worst kind of spice and let me tell you....mama's getting old trying to raise this one! But as spicy as she gets, she misses you, and when we talk about you, her voice is soft, her smile is big and her heart is full.
I see you everyday in your friends and their friendships. They are all so close. I don't remember ever having such a big group of friends when I was in middle school. They text A LOT and make the most ridiculous Instagram posts with odd quotes under them and most of them are of their backs with them staring in the distance...I don't get it, I just want to see their faces!
See what I mean? They are always touching and hugging, except for maybe Hailey who apparently Steph calls "Hailey who loves hugs", but really hates hugs?! I don't know, I stopped trying to understand. You'd be so happy to see those two friends again. I wasn't sure it would ever happen, but much to my surprise, they are pretty close....Did you have something to do with that?
The crew is huge and spans schools. They love going to the dances together and seeing each other when they can. Your girl Kiana is pretty fun and is probably one of Steph's favorite friends. Except every time she comes over, there is some sort of cooking or slime project that makes a mess. But she gets away with it because she just laughs that contagious laugh and then I forget. She's a good one. Your glow radiates through her.
Bella, 2 years ago I wrote that, you made my drama queen, calm. You made my sassy redhead, kind. You made my, at times selfish child, selfless. Well, your friends learned from you what it takes to keep the lessons alive. The person you were, taught all these wild and crazy kids how to instill those qualities in each other. You are with them always sweet girl.
With love and peace in my heart -
Bella's Bench - March 8, 2018
The first year I worked as a Child Life Specialist, I worked in the playroom covering most of the sessions. With that I knew almost every kid that walked through the doors, I really was known as the "Play Lady" and I was totally OK with that. I often had a group of teens come by late in the session and do what teens do, socialize and hang out. I knew that a few of them were nearing the end of their lives. But I just let it roll and tried to pretend it wasn't really happening, because honestly I had no idea what to do when it did happen.
Then one day, my co-worker came to me and said, we are getting close for our friend. I just looked at her and said, "I don't know what to do," she said "follow me" and we went to his room. She walked in with confidence and I stood in the doorway hoping that the family didn't see me shaking. She looked at me and gently took my elbow and said, "we just sit". OK, I can sit.
Spending time with a child at the end of their life, was not something I ever thought I would do when I decided long ago to dedicate my life to working with children. But now I know it's part of the package and I can handle it.
I can handle it because I had help, I can handle it because a Child Life Specialist before me knew what to do, I can handle it because since then I have had the same talk with Child Life Specialists who came after me.
It means more than you know to be a part of a team. It means more than you know to have a group of colleagues who "get it" when you give them that one look. It means more than you know to have work partners who find humor in the most ridiculous and sometime inappropriate times. They are quite a crew in a dysfunctional family kind of way......and I wouldn't trade that for anything!
Happy Child Life Month to to all!
Now you can have that Boyz to Men song stuck in your head too - you're welcome.
But seriously, saying goodbye, it's no joke. On Sunday, December 3rd the Forever Young Zone Playroom at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford will close forever. The new hospital opens the next weekend and we have to move everything into the new and improved 3 playrooms. The new Forever Young Zone will now be on the 4th floor of the new building and only used as a Teen Lounge. A pretty cool, pretty fancy teen lounge with it's very own Recreation Therapist, who is also pretty cool, young and has a million fun ideas for the area.
I remember visiting Lucile Packard in the Fall 1996 as a undergraduate looking for an internship. I met with a young Kirsten who gave me all the low down on what it was like to be a dually certified CTRS and CCLS. Unfortunately the timing for the internship didn't work out for my University, but I always knew in the back of my mind that I would be back.
And I was, fast forward to Summer of 2000 and I was hired as the newest Recreation Therapist running playrooms for the hospital in the brand new Forever Young Zone, which had just opened the year before by Steve Young the former SF 49er and his Forever Young Foundation. For 17 years that playroom has been home base, the meeting spot, the gossip corner and the place of normalcy for the thousands of children and staff who have walked through its doors.
I'll never forget the first time a mom told me her child with a respiratory illness was dying and that they were taking her home. Her mom thanked me with tears in her eyes for giving her daughter a place to forget about being sick. I remember looking at this sweet girl playing and thinking, "all she wants to do is play, I hope she get's to play a little longer". Who knew a room could have that kind of power?
I'll never ever ever forget when my co-worker Lisa, who had several times over denounced ever having children opened a cake box during staff meeting stating, I'M PREGNANT. The shock and screams that followed were exhilarating. Who knew a room could embrace such joy?
I'll never forget running a busy playroom and one of my Oncology kids turned and threw up on the floor behind her seat, looked a me with a little embarrassment and said, "I don't want to go back to my room, can't I stay?" and me throwing a towel over the mess, saying, "Of course, I got this" and she continued on. Who knew a room could be so forgiving?
I remember all the children and families meeting celebrities, athletes and artists. Cherishing all the signed memorabilia, feeling the love of others and embrace being spoiled for the day. Who knew a room could hold such treasures?
I'll always remember the hundreds of pot lucks our department has had, celebrating birthdays (with the old school birthday song that has already been retired), babies, marriages, retirement parties and goodbyes in many forms. Who knew a room could marinate such bounty?
It's a bit surreal to know that it's closing, but I am grateful for all the memories, for all the friends, co-workers and kiddos who have filled my heart with power, joy, forgiveness, treasures, bounty and a million other emotions. I am rich because of it.
Thank you Forever Young Zone Foundation, who knew your donation would mean so much?
Holy Smokes y'all....I just hit SUBMIT and turned in my final project for my last class! YASSSSSSSS I am doooooonnnnnneeeee - (it helps if you sing that last word)
While I was on vacation week I got the official email that I passed review for my graduate portfolio that proves mastery of subject matter! I was crazy happy when I got that email and could do a cartwheel (except I won't because I would break my leg) now that I have finally turned in the last assignment!
So what's next?? Great question. I had hoped to apply for a new position that was just created in our hospital managing the Family Resource Center (which covers the media center/ broadcast studio). Apparently HR doesn't think my 20 years of experience is enough to be a manager (the job description states you need 3 years as a manager) I'm disappointed, but not discouraged. Lots of opportunities are on the horizon. I need to spend sometime looking at my options....but not right now.
RIGHT NOW, I'm counting the days (12 to be exact) that I get to play in Seattle with some of my favorite friends on earth. We've been friends for 25 years and haven't all been together since 2004. That last time together I remember calling my mom from the airport crying saying that it was the most fun I'd ever had, then going on to cry the entire flight to San Francisco. These girls are my sisters and I can't wait to see them!
Thanks to my family Ryan, Stephanie, Claire, my Mom and Dad, John, Cherie, Robert, Ron and Michele (the in-laws) for always being available to listen to me and for being proud of me, I am so lucky to have you all in my life. To my friends you guys give me life and I love you for it! To my colleagues, my Child Life family and my ED family, I have no words except that you humble me and I admire you all for the work you do!! Thank you all for cheering me along and helping lift me up when it got to be a bit too much. I am so happy to close this chapter and open a new one....always exciting when you have no idea what the chapter will be about.
Kristen Beckler, M.Ed, CTRS, CCLS
You know that saying, "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse", Well today I would eat just about anything someone put in front of me. I have been working like a horse over the last few months to get in shape and lose some much needed pounds. I have tried a lot of things, but most of my success has been from learning how to eat right. So far I am down 25lbs from learning about what food works best with my body while doing the Whole30! Whoop whoop!
While exciting I've hit a wall with the loss so I have turned to some of my friends for help.
My friend Nancy is a Beachbody coach and so I started a fitness plan at home. It's been really fun and much easier than trying to find time to go to the gym. Plus Nancy is a super smart Nurse Practitioner and having her on my side helps with staying accountable. Oh and I really like that Shaun T guy. He is teaching me how to be a hip hop dancer, I'm pretty sure Beyonce will be calling soon.
My friend Tiffany is involved in a nutritional program, so I am trying out a 9 day cleanse. The nutritional shakes are delicious and on those days life is good. Then there are what they call "cleanse days" which is what I am in the thick of today. That means for 2 days I drink a mix all day and have very little food (for example...one apple....all day) It's been Ok. You know when you are starting to get a little hungry about 20-30 minutes before you go and eat and you think, "yep, getting hungry...need to think about getting some food soon" that's how I have felt all day. The drinks tide you over a little and the bite of food here and there do as well, but still...........mama could eat!
They say, keep busy so I am, so far I have gone to the farmers market to prepare for Monday when I can eat again. I have sorted and folded all the laundry. I have switched over my blog because with Weebly I can make it pretty and have more control over the look and feel of the page. Next I think my kiddo and I are going for a walk, hopefully that doesn't make me too hungry!
I think it's about time for my apple slice - Until next time!
Oh boy! Oh boy!! This is it. I just turned in my last paper for the semester, paid for my summer class and then, stick a fork in me I am D.O.N.E!! I love getting all the, your graduating emails. I can't believe it's finally here. While I loved school, I am over school!
This semester was quite the challenge to say the least! I took 3 courses and like the other semesters 2 were 8 weeks and 1 was 16 weeks. The 16 week was Intermediate Web Development. I never thought I would love coding so much and have found that I am looking forward to creating a little side business creating websites for friend, family and educators. Keep an eye out for KBeesCodes coming soon! I learned some cool tricks in this class. If you are so inclined you can check out my projects here. I also took Electronic Portfolio Development. This was where we put it all together for our final evaluation proving that we learned something. My project goes for review on July 1st. I think it looks pretty good and feel confident that it will pass. Here is that link. The last class was probably one of my toughest courses. You would think by the title "Learning with the Internet" that it wouldn't be so difficult....yeah not so much. Lots of reading, lots of writing, lots of projects. I did learn a lot from this course about leadership and collaboration that will be priceless when I take the next steps in my career.
So what's left?? This summer I will submit my portfolio and take an Action Research course. The last day of classes is July 29th and I will receive my degree soon after. Then a few days later I will head to Seattle to celebrate with my CKC tribe. My besties from college and I will be all together and celebrating our "friendiversary" of 25 years! I can't wait!!
Thank you to my friends and family for all their support during this 20 month journey, I couldn't do it without you!!
Onward and Upward!!
Over the weekend Steph was being a jerk. I know I know, not that unusual. But more than that she was being emotional, crying about being mad a a friend, something didn't go right, missed connection. She was going on and on and for the life of me I couldn't figure out the real issue. Finally I just yelled, WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?! She started sobbing, climbed her almost 5 foot body into my lap and said very softly, "Mom, I miss her so much" and I realized she was talking about you.
Tomorrow will be 1 year since she said goodbye to you.
I think about you a lot, but mostly I think about your family and how they must feel. I think about your mom who is so beautiful and amazing. She is always so sweet to invite your friends to your sister's birthday and other events. She looks happy when I see her and always offers a smile or hug to the girls. I think about your Aunt Sarah and how committed she was to your care and to supporting your family. She loved you like no other. I always wished I had an Aunt like her in my life. But I didn't... so its nice to see that kind of love, a love I never knew existed. I think about your Grandma Cindy. I sometimes feel like grandparents carry the heaviest burden. Not only is she grieving you, but she is grieving for her own child and her pain. Stephanie loves your Grandma, asks me all the time how she is doing and loves seeing her when she comes to the school or around town. I think about Kiana. That girl is so fun! I know why you loved her. She and Steph have developed quite the friendship. But I know and Steph knows that you will always be her soulmate. I think about Ms. Arai and her hilarious encounters with you as your teacher. I don't think I've ever met a teacher like that, one that has gone so above and beyond the call of duty. I think about your friends at Cabrillo and how abnormal it is to say that they lost a friend at 10 and how much they love you and miss you.
I think about how lucky I am to be a part of a community who took care of each other, supported each other and supported you. You are remembered and so very loved.
Wishing you peace...always,
Ok I'll join the movement today to wear red in support of education, but let's be crystal clear, I am not happy about it!
Why? Well it is an insult. Why do we need to raise awareness of school teachers? The reason you are what you are is because...gasp...you went to school! You had teacher who....wait for it....had a ton of education and knows more than you!
If you say to me, well we need to start thinking outside the box when it comes to education. My response to you would be, I agree and I hear you loud and clear. BUT you still need someone who knows how to put the box together. Why in the world would I want someone in charge of education, who doesn't know education?
I ask you this:
I didn't think so, we expect our professionals to have the education and experience to be our leaders. Educators, teachers and educational administrators are the ultimate leaders. They taught you how to put your box together because, well....they are educated to know it all!
I'll leave you with this. I have a BS in Education, 20 year of experience working with children, and am wrapping up my M.Ed in Education this year. I have more experience and education than Ms. DeVos. #heshouldhavepickedme