Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Gift from an Otter

Poor old angry bear,

Torn and tattered,
banged-up head,

Knocking on brick walls again.

Rest, my bear friend,
The otters are here,

So you can float free
For just a short while.
Grab the hand of that small one fuzzy bear,

The one you have hugged so often,
Hug her again, so she too can rest.

We will hold you up,
We will hold you both.

Otter Cynthia

Bear in Mind

The bear is back in my mind
a grizzly wrizzly izzly bear
with a flurry of surly wurly feelings

that want to grow
and growl
and snarl
but they can't
because there is nothing
and nowhere to place
the snarly warly barring teeth
feelings so real.

I have no fairy wand to wave to make life better
- to change what has been done to 45,000 children a year in this country.

Under the hearts of those who may say they love them.

I want to shout loud and clear that

while pregnant must stop
and . . .
that the person you are growing matters.

That this person matters to me
and to ther others who will love
and care
and hold the little he or she.

The bear is back in my mind as I remember when you came
so small,
with arms so thin and legs
so small
you were 'bearly' a northing at all

except a very big voice.

Bear in mind -
A growling raging voice proclaiming your incidious beginning.
And not yet half a year you vomited every thing you tried to eat
until we found the special foods so you could survive.

And the mama bear in my mind went looking for answers
to help you live
and grow.
And you did.

Bear in mind -
A growling raging voice proclaiming you could not be touched
or held
or cuddled

and I wanted
a snuggly
buggly child
who I could hold

- and so the mama bear in me found ways to enjoy you
and realize that you loved the best you could

- until we learned about how your body worked
and the sensory issues at twelve

- how could a mother not know or doctors or others so educated
- the bear in mind was there searching
- but not finding
- asking with no answers because I did not have the right questions.

Bear in mind -
A growling raging voice proclaiming that fun things to do
were too intense and yet you my child were the most intense of all

- and I learned to calm and quiet all the grizzly voices in my mind
and not add energy to energy so you could learn
and grow
and go
and do like other children

- and you grew into a giving, loving, forgiving child
woven with the grizzly bears of your mind
we did not understand.

Alien in a world I understood that could not understand you.
With media and advertisement undermining all we said
- because they knew
and we didn't
and they were the truth.

Oh the bear in my mind wants to pound my chest
and more than growl.

Do bears roar?

Bear in mind -
You grew
and you grew
and you grew away
we were not who you wanted to be
- could be
- would be

The bears in our minds no longer be silent
- pushing each other away
with our snarls
and growls
and stares.

We were not the MTV family
or the Bratz
or the Glamour girls

- we were happy in our litle den
with our close friends
doing close friend things

- while you my little cub needed to run and explore what you believed was pots of honey at ends of rainbows that did not exist except in the media of music and video.

The bear in my mind watched as you worked your way through your imagination
of Truth with brain injury caused by alcohol to the unborn
- 100% preventable -

I asked my child what happens
when you go around the same tree over
and over

and in her wisdom she shared.
"I fall down like a nut."

I smile.
I laugh.
And I know there is hope.

Bear in mind -

I hope you have come to the end of yourself dear little baby bear
- your spirit still intact
- so that it can change the course of history for others
- you my child are one
- only one of many
- too many
- 45,000 a year too many.

The bear in my mind wants to hybernate
- to go away and sleep it all off as a bad dream but there must be no hybernation
- we mother and father bears must remain awake.

We must embrace the voices of those
45,000 a year
450,000 in ten years

- we must stand together with all our bears in our minds
and change the course of

Friday, November 9, 2007


With the weather changing
they wear fall colors
in heaven. . . .

a bright orange and warm sweatshirt. . .
a pair of bright orange and warm pants . . .

plodding in slipper
- leaving behind the stupor
laughing with renewed acquaintances
who come
and go
when it gets cold

warm food
- clean sheets
- a shower
for 72 hours a piece of heaven.

I watch my daughter and wonder
- did you decide to come as you say to protect yourself from yourself and the streets and the bus ride home or were you transported
- like so many others.

There is a shipment tomorrow
- some will leave the state hospital awaits its new guests
- guests with thin upper lips and ears not quite right
- guests with beautiful smiles and innocent laughs
- my daughter is the youngest
- most are in for the first cold snap
- Minnesota is hard on the homeless
- those who lost their battle to alcohol before they were born.

I look at the faces
- the placement of the eyes
- once innocent now filled with street pain.
I look at the scars and gashes and nashes of white streaks
on dark skin and dark streaks on white skin
- scars have no mercy
- they remain.

Most are older
- perhaps many have children
- how many children
- it is easy to make a child

when you are lonely.
when you are scared.
when you are hurt.

It is easy to confuse sex with love.

It is easy to hurt a child when you don't understand.

I understand that my daughter is struggling with deep pain as she says hello to people she
met three years ago. She is not afraid of these people
- I have walked with her as before in odd times and odd places
as she recognizes a friendly face

- She says hello
- at a clinic or a store
- or perhaps the back alley on the way into church.

Had it really been three years since she came up the grey elevator to heaven
- for some people
- life on earth is a hellish struggle
- yet they laugh
- and smile here.

For a blink they are safe and warm and clean and the people who work here are good.

Her birth father told her he looks forward to the safety of heaven -

She talked to him this time
- to let him know she was his daughter
no not yet? will he believe it is really she here
the daughter he gave away.

- Perhaps it matters less now.
She knows and understands.
in the span of three years his mind has gone further away
and now once again he is safe
within the structure
and the rules
and the walls

within the boundaries of the orange clothes
and the grey elevator.

Hidden inside the tan building
- surrounded by trees turning orange for autumn - - -

the hopeless who pray to turn orange
before the frozen truth is exposed.

Who dare explore this truth.
Are we smart enough to seek answers.

My daughter smiles her beautiful smile.

Tomorrow her social worker will pick her up.
It will be time to go. . . .


when you are lonely.
when you are scared.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Man's Best Friend - Limey Boy

Ever since our Life in the FASlane Teen Adult Camp for persons with FASDs (August 3-6, 2007) a young adult with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders has been working with Knarlwoods to develop a Psychiatric Service Dog Program for FASDs.

Today is day two of introduction to PSD (Psychiatric Service Dog) training for Limey and his new handler. Yesterday we spent time being a part of the community.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Life for the Yurcek's has never been easy, but two years ago October the Yurcek family faced a crossroads and Ann Yurcek decided it was time to pull out all her journals and snippets of paper and finally write "that book!" Many people had encouraged her, yet with 11 children who could find energy or time to write a 470 page memoire?

Afterall she was "just" a mom.
But "just a mom" had a story that needed to be told.

Then the struggles began.

Ann fought for her story with the same tenacity she founght for medical and mental health provisioning for her children. It was crucial to her that the whole story - three complete separate stories - remained intact. It was vital that it was written in "just a mom" vernacular and script. It was pertinent that no embellishment of truth happen. Afterall this was simply an American family with and extraordinary life experience. A life so complex that for many it would be easier to believe it was fiction. But Ann had armloads of proof to prove every bit was true.

Themission of the Mom's Choice Awards (MCA) is to recognize authors, inventors, companies, parents and others for their efforts to create quality family-friendly media, products and services. Tiny Titan by Ann Yurcek publishd by Better Endings New Beginnings has brought smiles and laughter, hope and encouragement to all who read it.

"We're delighted with the outstanding works represented in this very special group of recipients," said Tara Peterson, founder of the Mom's Choice Awards.

FINALIST IN YOUR HEART OUR HANDS (for philanthropic spirit)

Recipients are profiled in a special limited edition of Entro produced exclusively for the Mom's Choice Awards. The publication is available by special order from major retailers nationwide, via the online retailer and from the MCA website.

Congratulations Yurcek Family You represent America at its BEST!!!!
We're glad we resisted all those edits and you stuck to your strategy!

Jodee Kulp, Publsiher
Better Endings New Beginnings

Monday, October 1, 2007

Parenting Isn't Pretty: The book that kept me reading all weekend

Parenting Isn't Pretty: The book that kept me reading all weekend

We really appreciate Terry Mauro who gave us the boost of getting the word out about Tiny Titan by Ann Yurcek. Ann and I both took a leap of faith when we joined hands to produce this. What an accomplishment. Read Terry's great review.....

Today we learned we won Best Adult Non-Fiction by the Mom's Choice Awards - Best Adult Non Fiction...The Yurcek family's complex life experiences are shared so that others will have hope.

Congratulations Ann!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fly Away Dear Mother

Good morning dear Mother
- I am safe
- I did not die
though I wanted to,
hoped to
and almost tried.

But I stopped
because you taught me how important living is.
And I want to live.

And not be bound by all the trappings of my mind that spirals down into abyss twirling and swirling and spinning until I am small so very very small and alone and only alcohol takes away the pain - like when I began in a liquored sea under my mother's heart.

I stopped myself mother because you took me from a place of empty arms into your home and
into your heart and you poured everything you had to give into me
- to help me and now I want to change and grow again
- to get up from where I have fallen back and back and down.

Pray for me mom
- that I find another man
- I cannot be alone at night for I am scared
- so scared to be alone and so I go alone to where a friend stays and never leaves
- an old friend I met not long ago but for always
- my bottle friend
- who comes when I am in pain
- to relieve my mind of the twisting and turning and twirling. It does not let go because I come
back to open the cap and drink the drink and feel the forgetfulness I seem to need when nothing matters anymore and I cannot go on, but then I must.

I must wake up and I want to live and not continue in such a way as I have done once again
- once again I fell so hard but this time I saved myself not you mom not you chasing me
- finding me
- picking me up from places you have never been,
nor would ever go because of who you are.

But you went
- each time before because of me.
Because you loved me
- you came to find your little one
- lost, hurt and alone..

So mom I called you this morning. Because I know that you're love is real and you do not forget the little girl who did work a job and did graduate from high school and did learn to do so many things others said I could not do. But I could. And I can do them again - I can you will see. I will try to fly again. Perhaps there is another way.

This place is safe mom - you put me here to keep me safe when I was just a fledgling adult
- a child really now I know, but I am 21 and oh so much wiser
- perhaps.

Perhaps not.
I dunno.

I asked for help to come where I knew I would be kept safe and warm and cared about
a place where people like me with no one come when they are scared and alone

- those who come regularly call this place heaven.

Those who live on the street and under bridges and sleep with plastic bags for quilts. Once again I see my dad, the man who gave me life
- yellow and withered
- here in the place he told me was heaven
- county detox
- his life so hard. He's over 50 and he still has not learned to read!

I cannot call it heaven mom for I have a home
- an apartment -
I have a family and 13 birds that call me their mother
- birds of every color of the rainbow that sing me to sleep
and wake me in the morning to their songs.

What will happen to my birds mom?

Will you come and care for them and keep them safe and warm while I am here
- becoming once again the me I lost
- the me lost to the bottle before I was even born.

I want to fly mom.
I want to fly fly away and be safe.
Life is so hard
....but I won't quit.

Perhaps we can all pray for all our young people with FASDS who try so hard.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

FASD Day 2007

If only it shoulda woulda coulda been different.
Not that I really want everything different but one thing.
If only my daughter's mother would have abstained from drinking -
at least for a moment -
at least for enough time to allow this beautiful child
to be born whole -

I can't put back what she was never given.
Some gifts are only given once.

In essence I have done my job, done it the best I could. Laid my life down so to say, as have so many of us. So so very many.

My daughter has the best laugh in the world - it is a laugh that can burst a rainbow out of a thunderstorm. Too many thunderstorms today I have no laughter.


I shout to the heavens, because the world is not hearing. Everynight another mom
shares a bottle with her unborn baby - somewhere - someplace - celebration, in pain, in joy, in sorrow - there is always a reason.

Alcohol has lots of friends.

I want to run away - I want to grab myself a box of Oreo's or Chocolates or Boston Cream pie - but instead I take my vitamins knowing that is what I truly need -
to pass another day
- another test
- of who I am
- what I am capable of giving and forgiving
- not what I want.

I want to drink a whole pot of coffee
- so I pour myself a cup of Camomile tea.

Perhaps that will ease the pain of another derailment
- another collapsed bridge
- another twin towers.

For you or I life is so simple because we can see the complex.
But what it you

I want to grab my own bottle or chemical and numb myself from the pain
- the chaos, the confusion of consequences of her trail of tears
- but I sip my tear and instead weave a word tapestry
for others to understand the pain and nonsense of FASDs.

My daughter walks on a very very narrow line to maintain a piece of normalcy.
A push or shove however slight can tip her balance.
Balance for her is still in full pendulum swing
- back and forth
- back and forth
- back and forth.

I want to cry but I know if I began I may never stop
- I have held and counseled too many other parents and friends and families as the reach out for support. And I have been strong for myself and for them. In the journey with my daughter

- I have been prepared to understand for others.
And like Alice in the rabbit hole
I fall once again into my daughters madness....

Oh if only she reached out instead of came because she needed a crew to clean up her demolition site. In a whirlpool she is sucked into things unfathomable. Mom I found a job I can be a dancer for an agency - translates to a stripper for a pimp. It was such fun and it's very easy work. And this my dear boss sir is what I've found on my own to pay my bills because I used the passcode you gave me to help you out. I was only being kind. You did not tell me the passcode was a
secret - when you were busy you recited it aloud so I could type it in. I am proud of using the computer - I can do that now and I have learned new things - I even memorized your passcode. The one you now tell me is a secret and I am not to know it. But you told it to me and you had me enter it, again and again and now I don't understand why I am fired.

I try so had to control myself - I limit what I eat, where I go, who I am with. I even limit the amount of alcohol I drink to numb my own inadequacies - a twenty ounce water bottle is now only half full - It's half empty - I used to drink the whole bottle - but not any more - I am doing well - so well - only trouble is I need it more often now now that I don't have a real job. I was proud of my job - I made pizza's - I topped them and made them pretty. I liked my job. I wanted to do in my way on my own. But then I entered the passcode - on my own was what got me in trouble one more time.

My head hurt so I took a pill - mom had invited me to dinner - and we had talked during the day nicely - but the pill I took was not an aspirin
- I don't want to die I want to live
- and at the restaurant in front of my family
- I slipped from being me to someone else
- my brain and my chemistry turning to mush - but I was not drunk
- I didn't drink.
I tried to act grown as I became a child.
No I didn't I maintained my composure
- but they said there would be no more dining in publics with them.

My "friends" dropped me off at my mom's and dad's but they weren't home and I was cold and wrapped up in a table cloth she had on her stoop.
Stoop too low sometimes don't I.
I want to go home
- so mom takes me home - alone - now I have no boyfriend
- we had been together for other two years - he is my best friend's lover now.

Did I say best friend .... well maybe not anymore.
Her sister helped me get some money - dancing - dancing - it was fun.
They let me drink - I am adult - I am see I can prove it too you.
Oh I forgot - maybe I cannot prove it
- my wallet was stolen at the party
- my ID and my social security card.
I kept my SSC when I got my job
- This time I am an adult so I didn't give it back to mom. I am 21....

I would have had money - all the money I ever needed but mom locked down the check book
I took from her office.
It had my name on it. - It was mine - she said it was ours.
I bought nice things with the checks
- things I wanted - or thought I needed.
It didn't take long to spend a lot of money.
It didn't matter to me there was only $15.00 in the balance.
What is a balance? The bank always has money.

My bruises - well - I have not been eating well
- I have been drinking too much
- I have not taken care of my birds
- don't worry it was better when I was working
- when I had to be someplace on the same days
at the same time sober and looking healthy.

Do I care - no yes I mean no. I dunno.

.....I dunno ---- I dunno.

As a mom I leave the groceries at the front door, with her and a friend 'a safe friend' to clean and repair and help her get back onto the ridge. Walking on a ridge is always hard - dips and turns and stones and crevices to jump. Those of us who raise children with FASDs understand all too well the death toll of Liberty Ridge. It is a hard climb and even with the most experienced climbers working together - few make it.

I will stand on the other side of this new crevice - looking for the next piece of gear to help her. But it has been an arduous climb and I am weary. Like so many of us no matter how well I care for myself - I need rest. I need strength and fresh water. I didn't go to a FASD celebration yesterday - I couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't - yesterday I had nothing to celebrate.

Jkulp 9/2007 - Happy International FASD Day