Thursday, December 12, 2013

Life Goes On

"There I am in younger days, star gazing, 
painting picture perfect maps of how my life and love would be
Not counting the unmarked paths of misdirection
My compass, faith in love's perfection
I missed ten million miles of road I should have seen."
 -- Indigo Girls

Tonight I was talking with a friend and found myself sharing the details of the day my father died. It snuck up on me a little, this diving into a memory so sacred and sad.

My dad was one of the finest people I've ever had the pleasure to know. To be breezy about it, I thank my mom a lot for choosing him as my father. To be more authentically deep, I must have done something really special in a former life to have been blessed with this person as my caregiver. As if God rewarded my past life behavior with not only a blue ribbon, but also a championship trophy and a full-ride scholarship to the world's best university.

He really was that great. Ask anyone who knew him.

I vividly remember that April morning, waking up to a phone call from my sister, "You have to come. Get here now." I was in San Francisco, my father was lying in a hospital in Seattle. I moved mechanically around my room, packing inadequately for what I knew was going to be a bring-you-to-your-knees, change-everything kind of day.

I held my breath. I hit Pause. I floated through that journey to the airport, on the plane, and landed in Seattle greeted by two sisters, eyes red-rimmed with the enormity of it all. This necessary loss that was supposed to happen when he's 98 and we're all grown and settled and secure with families of our own. And after he saw us all married, walked us down the aisle to our grooms. After he met all our children. After all that. Not now, not yet.

Life does not take orders.

I survived my father's death. I continue. Someone, or some thing, un-Paused my life and it kept moving. It keeps moving. I did get married, walked down the aisle by my father's brother into the arms of my father's father who presented me to my darling groom. I have children of my own. One is named for my father.

But...would I have my life today if my father hadn't have died when he died in the way he died?

If I am to be truly in love with my life today, and I am, then I must love and embrace all that came before. For this is the path that led me here.

And here looks pretty damn good:


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Not Facebook

It's Dec 10 and this is my seventh post of the month. While it's not posting every day as I set out to do, it's still wildly successful to where I was for the bulk of 2013. When I got out of the habit of writing several times a week, I replaced the real writing with mini posts on Facebook about the antics of Turbo and Smiley. As I was doing these abbreviated Facebook entries, I was still writing the backstory in my head. It felt lazy and I carried the guilt. 

This blog is better for me than Facebook. There is great joy for me to have an itch of an idea work its way to the surface of my brain and then sit down to assemble the jumbled thoughts into something consumable for an audience beyond myself.

Thank you to whomever reads this. Thank you for taking the time to skim or fully consume.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Always Be Closing

It's been a while since I've seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, but I do remember one important piece of advice - Always Be Closing.

Our family is going to The Nutcracker this month and mom and dad are excited to share this holiday favorite with our kids. The Pacific Northwest Ballet's production is particularly exciting because the sets are done by Maurice Sendak. I haven't been in years, not since having kids, and I am giddy with excitement to see this Christmas tale again.

Not so much excitement for our boy Turbo. Emphasis on boy.

When we told Turbo we were going to The Nutcracker ballet, I think all he heard was blah-blah-blah ballet, because his only comment was, "Yuck. I don't like girl stuff." And he wrinkled his nose and sneered a little and looked at us like we were nuts.

Then Turbo got invited to a birthday party, which happened to be at the same time as The Nutcracker. When we told Turbo that he couldn't go to his pal's party because we were going to be at the ballet, he reminded us again about his strong dislike for this girl stuff. And he through in some frantic eyebrow maneuvers for good measure.

Last night I took a different approach. I put on my sales and marketing hat and went to work.

Me: "Turbo, we're getting our Christmas tree on Sunday."

Turbo: "Yeah!"

Me: "And then we're going to The Nutcracker in Seattle."

Turbo: "Mom, I already told you. I don't like that girl stuff."

Me: "You might be surprised. Did you know there are bad guys with swords? There is a Rat King who fights some soldiers and maybe some of them even die."

Intrigued eyebrows shot up.

Then Turbo and I watched a YouTube clip of the Rat King fighting with his swords. And Turbo saw what a ballet really was - he pretty much had the wrong idea, whatever that was. I boiled it down to this, "It's people dancing to music with no words and they tell a story. Some of the stories are for girls and some of the stories are something everybody could like."

Sold. Always Be Closing. ABC.

Here is how mom and dad are selling The Nutcracker to our very different children:
Selling ballet to a 5 year old boy

Selling ballet to a girl

Lipsie Returns

She's baaaack!

Last year we started doing the Elf on the Shelf thing with great success for our then 4 year old. This year both kids, now 3 and 5, are totally into the whole experience. Shrieks of delight pepper our quiet morning home each morning as Lipsie's new location is discovered.

Each morning they run downstairs to find Lipsie - still love this name that Turbo chose last year! - and Turbo usually finds he first and then wakes a bleary-eyed-but-smiling Smiley to "let" her find Lipsie too. Turbo is not great at secrets, but, then, what kid is?

Here is Lipsie on day one - with a healthy reminder to mom and dad to get rid of this old plant that decorates a high, forgotten shelf in the kitchen. Three days in and the plant is still there. Yeah, we have other priorities around these parts.
Hey, Lipsie, can your Christmas magic bring that plant back to life?

Cross-cross applesauce in a partially finished Lego toy

Reminding us to wear warm hats on this 20-degree days

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Speed Goldbug

Richard Scarry, I love you, but your books are looooong.

When I was a kid, the book titled Cars and Trucks and Things That Go was referred to as "Where's Goldbug?" Because the point of the book was to find this little tiny gold bug on every single page. Sure, there were also fascinating vehicles like the pickle car and the alligator car and the lemon car, but also, cleverly hidden on each and every page, was Goldbug. Often his little eyes and antennae were the only bits of him peaking out of a hot dog or ambulance or train so it could take a while to find him.

Where's Goldbug?
I loved these Richard Scarry books as a kid. I used to spend a lot of time wondering what it would be like to grow up and live in a shoe, or drive a banana mobile, or visit zoos where the animals held balloons. Even today theses books are one of my favorite gifts to give kids, and yet, when my kids are allowed one more book before bed and they choose one of these lengthy tomes, I inwardly groan. To my kids I say, "OK, let's do this." But really I'm checking the clock to see if we even have enough time to get to the middle of the book.

Now don't get me wrong, I really do love the details in these stories and if it's the first book we choose I usually enjoy it as much as the kids. It's when we're done reading and it's truly time for bed and I let the kids talk me into another book (because I also secretly love bed time snuggles and books), that I hope and pray for a shorter read.

Turbo knows this. When he's on his last book, whether it's an extra one or just the last of his allotted 5 books, he seeks out the longest book he can find. In the light of day I'm flattered. He wants to spend extra time with me? Ahh, shucks! But I know what he's doing, cheeky fellow.

Once daddy takes Smiley to bed, Turbo and I have time for one more book with just us. Tonight when the final book selected was the Cars and Trucks, I told him we didn't have enough time to do the whole book.

Turbo: "When I choose a book, we have to read the whole thing."

Mom: "Um, no. But I'll tell you what. We can play Speed Goldbug and do as many pages as we can in five minutes. We won't read the book, but we will look for Goldbug on each page."

Game on. Turns out we both had so much fun finding Goldbug that we laughed our way through the novel and I didn't look at the clock. Nicely done, Mr. Scarry. Nicely done. Thank you for spanning generations and providing opportunities for more quality with my children.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Know Everything

It's fitting that in the month of the celebration of Jesus's birthday, Turbo would ask me this question, "Mom, when we get to Hawaii, can you teach me how to walk on water?"

Um, sure. I know you think I know everything, kid, but this one is out of my area of expertise.

A little digging and it turns out that one of his classmates surfed in Hawaii. Oh, surfing on water, not walking on water.

I love the kid logic of surfing = walking on water.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Creating New Traditions

I love Christmas.

My childhood Christmases were filled with homemade ornaments, garlands of freshly made popcorn strung with cranberries, and cold boot-wearing treks through snow to chop down our own trees.

And, no, I did not grow up in a Normal Rockwell painting. But it was pretty great, if you ask me.

For the memories of Christmas that I love, I want to repeat all of these treasured details with my own kids and yet I also recognize the value of creating our own traditions.

We live in a neighborhood with lots and lots of houses decorated with lots and lots of Christmas lights. There is also a plethora of lit-up woodland creatures, various snowmen (and snow-women and snow-children), and countless Santas... Construction Santa, Chimney Santa, Sleigh Santa, Shovel Santa, Santa-and-His-Reindeer Santa, Climb-in-Your-Window Santa (erm, the non-creepy kind).

Driving home from the kids' school last night I look at left instead of a right. Turbo, ever my alert observer, said, "Hey. This isn't the way home." To which I quipped, "No s***, Sherlock."

Kidding! Sheesh, I hope you didn't believe me.

To which I replied, "That's right, honey. I thought we'd go see some Christmas light before we go home."

Both Turbo and Smiley squealed with delight at the first house, which, by design of my genius left-instead-of-right move, brought us to one of those thoroughly decorated homes where the owners probably need eye masks to block out the light while sleeping. And I squealed too. I love these crazy decorations. Or, as Smiley said, "Oh, mom! Yook at all dose decowations!"

Sample house. Not actual size or neighborhood. 

I told the kids that we'd go find new Christmas decowations every night after school. We shook hands to make it official.

One day later... on tonight's drive home I was feeling a bit tired from a long day at work and considered driving straight home. Maybe the kids won't remember, said the little voice in my head.

Turbo, "Mom, remember how you said we were going to look at Christmas lights every day? Take a left, mom."

And I took a right, just to show him who is boss, and drove around a few loops near our house and both Turbo and Smiley provided a play-by-play of the lights outside of their respective windows - ya know, in case I wasn't looking at the same set of lights.

I think I'm going to like this new tradition.