Back from Summer Vacation

I took an unofficial break from blogging for summer vacation. So, pardon, the, punctuation issues! or grammatical mishaps, as I am rusty on the writing front. I didn’t really decide to take a break “officially” – it just happened and in the moments when I thought about writing, I had a smorgasbord of thoughts:

…”It’s midnight, nothing good would come of me staying up late to blog…maybe another time.”
…”Wow. I love being able to read what people are thinking about that resonates with me, or things that have inspired me, or things from witty sports columnits on ESPN that are into the same music I am. Like here at the Mommy Revolution. And here where it’s all quotes from Jonathan Safran Foer. And here. Waitasecond, I have a blog somewhere, right?” (Does that mean I was inspired to write? No, just inspired to share their links.)
…”Hmmm, my poor neglected blog. I have nothing to say.” (Or maybe I was just in the ridiculously addictive habit of updating my Facebook status if I have nothing to say instead.)

The things that really kept me away though are people. Three particular boys especially. And our summer of activities, sickness (yeah, what?) and the ups-and-downs of life that I just didn’t necessarily feel like writing about. I had a few moments when I did feel like some blog-processing could fit in, but overall, I just needed some processing space and “being in the moment” space that doesn’t always happen if I am thinking-borderline-concerned with writing it out for 2 people to read. Ha.

So what did me and the three boys do this summer?

Well, the slightly-abbreviated and glossed over version of our activities includes: serious (quantity & quality) time with sister, two weeks at Cannon Beach (which in itself included numerous hikes, BBQs, a parade, lots of my favorite people time and much more), a phenomenal Coldplay concert, a garage sale with five of my favorite families, keeping up with a 1 year old that never walks – only runs (usually in the opposite direction from a parent-type), extreme heat, eight birthday celebrations, two trips to IKEA, setting the BBQ on fire where the fire doesn’t belong, enjoying a new adult beverage thanks to the “Georgia Aunts” (technically not my aunts, but they don’t go by any other name in my mind), some awesome dates with the husband, three days of the boys at Grandma Terry’s, one Harry Potter movie, six completed books, at least a dozen movies including a Bourne-Binge, lots of watching of sports, trips to the skate park, bike rides, a garden that gave me 16 green peppers and 4 zucchini (huh?) and a very satisfying amount of cherry tomatoes.


 Iam sure that if I put a little effort into it, I could have come up with some quip or witty title for this blog post. Instead, I’m opting for a brain-dump-ish type post, a “write this down before I forget” and revisit it later thing.

I’m once again amazed and humbled by my nearly 5 year old son figuring life out. He’s a smart one that little E. Smart and sassy. Smart and defiant. Smart and more smart. Here’s today’s story. This morning I had to run by my office to drop off some receipts. I needed to go to the main office to fill out the paper work, so I decided to pretty much lock the boys in my office while I hustled down the hall to get it done since they were having some ‘listening & obeying’ issues in staying with me. I said, “I need 5 minutes. Play with the trucks, read books, color, sit in the chairs…whatever, just take care of each other and STAY IN HERE.” I just needed 5 minutes, right? While I’m standing at the copier I hear the shrieking and screaming of little C. Shrieking and screaming from the small one means the big one did something. It’s a given. And he did. So, 30 seconds into my 5 minutes I went back down to the office and sure enough, big one is aggravating small one. So, I remind him of his responsibilities and leave again. One minute later, I hear screams again. Oh come on. I walk the 50 feet back to my office and say, “Really?” (Yes, I’m awful and sarcastic to my children sometimes.) Yes, really. So I say, “Okay, I’m taking C with me and you are going to stay here by yourself. I want to leave soon, too, but we can’t if I can’t get this done. You stay here and I’ll be back in 2 minutes.” There were tears and anguish at the unfairness of it all, that brother got to go with me and “WHY CAN’T I COME TOO???” “Well honey, I need to see that you can be a good listener when we come here and so far today you’ve run away from me two times. So, you have to stay here so I know you are safe and not getting into things.” Sure enough, I was back in 2 minutes and we started to gather ourselves to leave.

As toys were being put away I noticed on the floor the little plastic end piece that goes on the cord for my window blinds. Hmmm. “How did this happen?”

“I pulled it off.”

Hmmm. “Why did you pull it off?”

“I was angry.”

“What were you angry about?”

“I was angry because I had to stay in here.”

(I love the honesty in this moment.)

“I understand that, but it still doesn’t mean you can break things, especially things that aren’t yours.”

And here’s the stop-me-in-my-tracks question:

“So what should I do when I’m angry?”

Um, are there any super-parents out there who would like to take over this conversation now? Anyone? Bueller?

I told him that is a really, really great question and that I would think about it because I am so proud of him for asking it, and I think it’s an important question. I told him I know that there are times we have to do things we don’t want to do and it’s not fun, but we are going to keep talking about this anger thing. Oh my gosh, I’m raising boys. Smart boys. Boys that are going to kick my butt, because I suppose I get to think about this as more than an answer or conversation where we talk about it, but I’m going to have to live out my reply. Yowza.

Pows & Wows of 2009

In the unexpectedly, delightfully simple Christmas celebrations we had, I actually had time to write a little ‘year end’ note to put in most of our holiday cards. (I don’t do “Christmas” cards, they need a more generic term in order to make it work for me since I usually end up still delivering them well into January.) As I shared in that note, part of my brain is apparently much too tired to remember a good portion of the year. But now that I started digging into those cavernous spaces, I find myself remembering some good things. It’s not that I only wanted to share good things in that note (as Nate and I both tend towards wanting to share the real rather than the sugar coated version of life) but the act of remembering the good things was one of the things I would have shared, if I had remembered. Ha.

Pows & Wows

During our summer vacation at Cannon Beach, Nate instigated a new family tradition that has actually stuck: Pows & Wows. He got the idea from some retreat he went to, and we adapted it for family dinner time conversation. Call it a game, call it an exercise, call it a kid-friendly version of some sort of spiritual discipline. Whatever it is, it’s been a good thing this year. Each person has the chance to share a “pow” and a “wow” from their day. A pow is something that was not fun, not good, a bummer, a negative part of the day. A wow is the positive, the good thing, a good experience. There has been something really meaningful in bringing this to our family dinner time. Especially because family dinner time is usually one of the biggest “pow” parts of my/our day. Whether it is the battle over the food, the manners and lack-thereof, the whining and arguing and having to sometimes shout our wows as we attempt to ignore it all…ugh. It can be un-enjoyable.

But one of the ways we try to make it enjoyable is this act of reflecting. We try to say our Pows first because usually those are what are so fresh on the mind and heart. And it makes way for celebrating the wows.

With that, the 2009 Pows (the short list):

1. I did not see my soul-sister friend Freya in person one time. Absolutely unacceptable. Explainable, yeah. Sickness during the planned visit. Hundreds of miles between us; young, dependent children; responsibilities and various roles that don’t necessarily leave a lot of time (or money) for traveling and leisure time with dear friends…but all the same, this is one serious POW that has to motivate change in 2010.

2. Which leads in to the time with community thing. This past week afforded the opportunity for us to have a few hours with some of our dearest friends in a couple of settings. These are Wows. But overall, I would say that I (we, actually) often find ourselves longing for more quality time with people that we are honored to call friends. In all honesty, Nate and I sometimes get caught thinking that people don’t like hanging out with us. I can try to wrap it up in a joke, but I think this is one of the hardest things that we go through individually and sometimes as a couple. This is a recurring Pow, because I sometimes lay in bed at night wondering if people actually like me or if they have to put up with me. Sometimes I don’t think that but still just long for time sharing both the meaningful and trivial parts of life together. Then I get caught into thinking that I should be grateful for what I have and then I start to spiral into feeling bad for feeling bad and it just gets messy. But I think that we (at least me and the husband) are wired for connection with people and are ultimately trying to figure out how 24 hours in a day are optimally used given this desire.

3. Which leads to accounting for the unexpected. Definite Pow for the year is having a loved one dealing with the darkness of depression and addiction, which is much like a Category 5 hurricane with its ability to completely level “normal” life. Without going total Debbie Downer, this actually brings me back to the point of Pows and Wows. As I’ve recently been reading on the disease of addiction, one of the aspects of healing and recovery has to do with “accepting life on life’s terms.” I had to stop and re-read the statements as this ties into control and self-will issues versus acceptance. By no means are people with addiction issues the only ones who face this battle. Accepting life on life’s terms resonates because there are some parts of life that are just plain awful, major Pows…there are tragedies, self-inflicted wounds, thoughtless mistakes and plenty of longed for do-overs. I’m not trying to trivialize pain, but recognize that the whole point of our almost daily Pow & Wow sessions have been to find the reasons for thankfulness, for hope, for laughter and lightness of spirit. I hope that if we can teach our boys to recognize that Pows & Wows can co-exist, than perhaps that battle for the necessary acceptance of life sometimes will be easier for them.

So yes, some days there are countless wows and some days it takes some serious effort to think of just one. But that’s especially part of why I like it so much. Because truly, at the end of the day, we all have a wow to share. Don’t you think?

E: “Calum, do this!”

Instead, he shrieks.

WOW = Cannon Beach

Speaking of Cannon Beach in July…which I was, about 5 paragraphs ago…. I love Cannon Beach and this year when I think of CB, I also think of my sister. She was able to join us for most of our two weeks there in July as well as for a few days in March. I’m so thankful to have an almost 20-year old sister who wants to hang out with me and my family. Sure, the house is a sweet hook-up for her ;) but I’m so grateful that I have had such quality time with her in 2009. Definite Wow.

Being silly…on the roof.

And also about CB in July… it is a place of beauty. It can be breathtaking at times. I hope I never lose my awe for God’s creation and creativity. Who thinks up things like starfish, let alone two-toned starfish?


One of my favorite (repeated) times of life: Sunset at Cannon Beach

WOW = Coldplay concert

I love Coldplay and I love an artistic concert experience. I love that I got to see Coldplay and their return on the $100+ investment was such an incredible experience. And I especially love sharing that experience with good friends, sister and parents who also went. Oh, the bonus? The mini-stage about 20 rows ahead of us that I BOLTED to the moment they came towards it. (Yes, I used the stiff-arm a few times to get there. But who wouldn’t???)

Hello boys. So.Good.To.See.You.


WOW = Trying out for Wheel of Fortune

Does it count as a try out if you don’t even get called up on the stage? Sure, why not!?! This isn’t a huge, momentous “wow” like vacations and concerts, but it represents a part of life that I want to celebrate: being spontaneous, courageous, silly and willing to follow a dream no matter how absurd that dream might sound to some. I have always loved Wheel of Fortune. So has my sister. We trekked to Chinook Winds, along with a couple other thousand people and gave it a shot. Did we make it? No. (Sister got a call back though! I think it had to do with the form I filled out for her, I said some of her hobbies were sketchbooking and daydreaming. They were well stocked with thirtysomething moms of young children I found out quite quickly during the audition games.) Anyway, I am sure some people thought it was borderline ridiculous that I packed up little C after church and drove an hour and a half for a very long shot at something so random, but I did. And it was worth it. It serves as a fun memory and little spark of motivation as I hope to follow more dreams and not just rationalize life away to the confines of only practical and logical living.

I guess the reflection on Vanna is the giveaway that she’s made of cardboard.

WOW = Civil War with my Dad

I Love My Ducks. (Love them, love them, love them.) Prior to the 12/3/09 Civil War, I had been to two Duck games. One was with a friend during her freshmen year at UofO, and I wasn’t as avid a football fan as I have become in the last 10 years. The other one was the stinkbomb the 2002 team laid against WSU (the week after they beat Michigan.) The score was 35-2 at the half. Yes, that’s “2″ as in they only scored a safety. Anyway, back to this year. There was no stinkbomb at Autzen this time around from my Duckies. What a great game. (Seriously, the Rose Bowl loss is barely 24 hours old, and I can still get a warm fuzzy feeling from remembering the Civil War!) This was a “wow” for so many reasons. Yes, they won, it was dramatic (hello two fourth-quarter, fourth down conversions?), it was historic, hard fought and inspiring (hello Autzen crowd while the team is on D). It was an amazing finish to the regular season. And I got to go with my Dad because my Mom is so great and shared her ticket with me! I can’t remember the last time my Dad and I had time together doing something special. I know when I was in high-school he had to help me at the emergency room when I was quite sick…but that doesn’t count. When it comes to some of my passion for sports and especially those Oregon Ducks it’s easy to figure out where I get it from, so I am so glad that we have this memory to share.

Ducks 37 – Beavers 33. A bit excited.

And to close, a few more random WOWs, in picture form…

The boys like their books.

“Santa’s Superhero” – with the power to spread Christmas spirit

Day trip hike at Silver Falls

Celebrating the New Year, “Brazilian”-ish style.

Add comment January 3, 2010

Advent vs. Real Life: Round 2

Round 2 of Advent vs. Real Life begins with Getting the Christmas Tree (The Almost a Complete Disaster Debacle). I just wanted to get a Christmas tree last Saturday. Not too complicated, right? Not too strange of a desire on December 5th? We borrowed the truck, bundled up, and headed up the hill to our favorite spot to cut the tree…the same place we always go. (Ahhh, there’s the key word: “always.” It is the cue for Plan B to be set in motion.)

“Oooops. We forgot the saw. Oh well, Ray (the property owner) always has a saw on hand to help.” Up the hill we go. To the lot we pull in…and oh…there’s a chain with a lock blocking the entrance and no sign of Ray. Hmmm. We look longingly at the trees just sitting there, all peacefully rooted in the ground.

Ray’s Christmas Tree Lot: CLOSED

“Where do we go next? I have no idea. Do you have an idea? I saw a sign down the road…” Oh hang on you are calling your mom and getting 14 different ideas while the boys begin the “Where are we going? What are we doing?” distress signals. (Tension building.)

Skip said tension and jump ahead to finding a new lot to get a tree where “U Pick, We Cut’ thankfully. Oh look! I asked the boys to smile for a picture and little C goes back to stand next to brother to have their picture taken! This never happens!

Wow! They are both smiling in my general direction!

The selfish mother I am asked for more. (Dun Dun Duuunn.) Next picture (in much better lighting mind you) involves big brother putting little brother in a headlock and slamming him to the ground, head first. Yes, I was snapping a photo at the beginning of the moment.


The next 10 minutes involved soothing, consoling, the use of the words “ridiculous” and “awful” unfortunately said aloud too many times, a quick finding of the tree by me while Dad and big brother were in timeout, an agreement that this tree would work, a cutting, payment and hoisting into the truck. Follow this with screams of pain from little brother as we put him back in the carseat. The 5 minute drive home determined the need to go to Urgent Care because little brother wasn’t moving his right arm. Just like the time he got “Nursemaids Elbow” last year. So, forget the afternoon of the family being at home together for a much needed change of pace and family time, and Plan B included Family Time in the small cramped room of  Urgent Care while kind Dr. Cal checked out little brother. Yes, I made big brother come on the sad adventure because I wanted him to see the pain his younger brother had to go through, especially if anything was broken, because I am so.tired. of big brother’s use of physical force on little brother. And there was no way big bro was staying home having fun with Dad while little brother was dealing with all this. Consequences, my dear child, consequences.

Fortunately for all of us, the second try of reattaching the elbow tendon or whatever it is called worked, and within minutes, my little man was restored. Nothing broken. No x-rays needed, just a painful and awful-to-watch twist and bend of the arm. Not to mention it was now 2 o’clock and smack in the middle of what would have been naptime and lunchtime was already missed because Urgent Care is a 45 minute drive from home. Consequences, dear me, these are the consequences of life with children.

Yes, my mind had visualized a day of fun, togetherness, doing Christmas-y things as part of celebrating and preparing for Christmas, but apparently, togetherness and “making Christmas memories” involves Urgent Care this year.

Hello Urgent Care

Both elbows in working order…