DecemBLUR Magic!

We’re off for a week in Miami to visit my older brother, Pablo, and his family. Dan, Jack and I are beyond excited with the idea of getting out of town for the holiday and spending time with family in weather over 30 degrees, but Anna gave me a little bit of a hard time, “We’re gone on Christmas? What about Santa?” I did hesitate for a quick minute before realizing that she was more concerned about missing fun parties than the old man with a white beard not being able to find her stocking.

The truth is that I don’t think our children ever believed in Santa Clause.

And I can’t even blame ALD. Long before ALD entered the equation, our kids were realists. They went through the motions, but they weren’t fooling anyone, “Mom – it just doesn’t make any sense.” It’s as if they came into the world a little jaded.

Or, maybe it’s just that Dan and I were too lazy to create a truly “magic” holiday.

Sure, we’ve always gotten a tree and decorated the house. We even put out cookies every year – and carrots for the reindeer. But, Jack and Anna always knew it was a charade. They went up to bed early on Christmas Eve without a fight so that Dan and I could set things up for the morning, and neither could really mask their rolling eyes as they saw the plate of half eaten cookies and the note left from Santa (even since ALD, Jack can still roll his eyes when he needs to).

Dan and I love family time and creating traditions and memories, but we aren’t very good at all the hocus-pocus required to create real holiday magic. Once we get through the planning and the cards and the gifts and the decorating, we’re too exhausted to keep up the performance. We also have done a terrible job at focusing attention on the religious stories behind the holiday. Yet another thing we have managed to mess up.

Despite scaring our children by not fulfilling our parental duties, we do appreciate the holiday season around here. More then the trees and lights and candles, it’s the holiday feeling that I most appreciate. Opening the mail every day and seeing whose faces are hiding in the envelops. The music that is always lingering in the air. How (most) people take an extra moment to thank you and wish you a “Happy Holiday”. With all the ugly in the world right now, a pleasant moment with a stranger can be a pretty magic thing.

Try to pause for a second this DecemBLUR – look past the lights and the trees and appreciate all the real magic that is around us.

Wishing everyone a very MERRY, HAPPY and JOYFUL season!


Love, Jess


the book, social security and magic


It’s been high excitement over here for a couple of days. The book is approaching the finish line and there have been head shots, cover art and websites. And, there’s been social media – Facebook has been like a birthday, only better.

In the middle of all of this, I got a phone call. “It’s the Social Security Administration. May I please speak to John Torrey?”

Deep breath, “I’m sorry, John doesn’t speak. This is his mother, Jesse.”

“Mrs. Torrey, John is over 18. I need to speak with him.”

Count to ten, “Sure. I can put him on the phone. You might get a smile out of him, but I can assure you that he will not speak to you.”

I could hear the shuffle of papers in the background, “Okay, sorry. John got approved for benefits. Can you come in tomorrow morning to finish the paperwork?”

My mind raced thinking of all the things I had planned, but I found myself saying, “How early should we arrive to make this as painless as possible?”

That’s our reality. We have priorities that can’t be put on the back burner.


So, this morning Jack and I left early enough to be there before the Social Security Administration office opened. Determined to get in and out quickly enough so that Jack didn’t miss too much school and I didn’t miss my very important hair appointment. Unfortunately, we were far from the first in line, so we sat. And sat. Jack and I were busy taking selfies and making each other laugh, when I noticed the couple behind us admiring him. Jack has a way of making friends wherever we go. The man offered Jack some gum, which Jack grabbed without a thought and popped into his mouth (yes – Jack takes candy from strangers and I let him). We started talking to the couple and before too long they shared that their son had Down Syndrome and that they felt so blessed that he is not just doing well, but is happy, “Just like your son.”

We talked and talked – enjoying our visit so much, that I was almost disappointed when we got called to meet with our representitive. We exchanged goodbyes and off we went. As Jack and I sat waiting for the paperwork to be done, our new friends stopped by to say goodbye. The man reach into his pocket and handed Jack his pack of gum, “This is for you Jack. Enjoy!”

Jack gave him a high five and I thanked our new friends and wished them well. Then, as he walked away, the man turned around and said, “Oh, and Jack – take your mom out to lunch.”

I looked down at the gum in Jack’s hands and there was a twenty dollar bill stuck in the pack.

Our lives are complicated, but sometimes I feel like magic follows us around.


We made it home in time for Jack to go to school for a couple of hours and for my hair to get back to being sassy. Now I have the task of reading the book one last time before it gets printed. As I travel back to the early days of Jack’s diagnosis, I am trying to remind myself of all the magic in our lives and just how lucky we are.

Check out my  “author page” – this is really happening!

Love, Jess

PS  We made a donation to CaringBride today. We love to “pay things forward” and without CaringBridge there would be no book.