Saturday, December 25, 2010

Believe

With help from NORAD, we tracked Santa......the magic of Christmas and the magic of technology came together to keep the spirit of the season in their hearts.



Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Peaks and valleys

In the textbook of emotional physics, there is balance to be found among the ups and downs even though sometimes the downs seem absolutely untenable and heartbreaking.

To love a pet deeply requires pragmatism and an open heart, because we invariably outlast them and we have to accept that there will be pain and sadness at some point. But there will also be opportunities to love that deeply again in a lifetime, and I just can't imagine missing the peaks in order to avoid the valleys.

When the climb to a peak comes so effortlessly, and seems like it was meant to be, I sure can't question the why or the how.


Samantha, I don't doubt that you were nudged our way by a very special power in the universe. I'm grateful that our paths have crossed, and promise to always love you deeply.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Too soon a memory

There's a saying that when a loved one becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure.

Sydney, you will be a treasure in our hearts forever and your sweet spirit will always be at our side as we make our way through life without you.




We're finding comfort knowing you're in good company on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, and that you've also got a special someone there who will throw the frisbee to your heart's content.

RIP, sweet pup.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's only hair...

October 9 was the big day...the day I donated my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. To me it was a tangled mane of extra work...hair that WILL grow back...but to a woman who has lost her own hair to cancer treatments it's pretty darn special.

Two ponytails. The blessing of thick, fast-growing hair.
A special reason to make this donation...in her honor...


...wishing I had even half of her courage.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An old friend

We introduced ourselves to you on our first trip together as a couple, just 6 weeks into our relationship. You were a lovely host...providing sunrises and sunsets that took our breath away.

We enjoyed our first trip so much, we joined you again for our honeymoon a year later.

A few years later, we met up with The Best Man and his family within the confines of your lovely village, and found out that their three would soon be four.

And we last visited over five years ago...which is silly because we used to make at least an annual trip to see you.
We're excited to see you again, old friend.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oh my cabernet.

...or, Living in a Cul de Sac: Neighbors are Overrated.

We're a circle of seven homes, trapped by channeled through a single entrance. Two homeowners are originals...been here for over 11 years, and knew the area when it was a big pile of dirt surrounded by cornfields. Another one moved in about two years before us. The other three have moved in since we got here, which is almost five years now.

There are kids who would really just love to play together and sort things out on the playground like it's been done for decades. But alas, they are being raised by graduates of The Helicopter School of Parenting...who also have a raging case of Not MY Kid.

Other parents were good friends of ours...before they started behaving like petulant 4th graders whose desk is no longer in what they think is The Best location in the classroom.

And one parent, who is struggling to find her way in a brand new world outside polygamy, wants to understand why helicopters and overgrown 4th graders are playing such an invasive role in her life right now.

We, for our part, want to be far less disgusted with the behavior of some of our neighbors than we currently are.


Personally? I'm partial to a Cabernet-Shiraz blend.

Friday, September 17, 2010

No, actually I'm *not* borrowing my teenage son's car

I drive one of these:


And am married to this sense of humor:


And he buys parts to fix these:


So he gets free stickers like this:


And this:


And...*sigh*...this:


I never know when a new one will show up in prime viewing location on one of my windows, although it's usually after a weekend of this:


Because these two:

Just can't be trusted.

Oh, yes. It's a laugh a minute here in Schaererville.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I plead insanity, Your Honor

Sept. 17 - Peggy arrives

Sept. 19 - Mr. O leaves for South America on business

Sept. 25 - Mr. O returns from South America

Sept. 26 - We leave for a family trip to Yellowstone National Park

Sept. 29 - We return from Yellowstone National Park

Oct. 1 - Pops and his Pensacola Hobo Wagon arrive

Oct. 3 - Mr. O leaves for Mexico on business

Oct. 4 - Pops heads back into the wild blue yonder

Oct. 9 - Mr. O returns from Mexico

Oct. 13 - Peggy heads back to Switzerland

Oct. 13 - I head home for 25th reunion festivities

Oct. 14 thru 18 - Kids off school (fall break)

Oct. 19 - I return to Schaererville to survey the damage

Oct. 22 - Family camping trip to the San Rafael Swell

Oct. 25 - Finish extracting dirt from bodily orifices after camping trip

Oct. 26 - Meet new roommate at the funny farm, because that's where I'll be

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Delilah, grab your scissors

I've had so many lessons to reinforce what's truly important and what is not.

Like when our first-and-supposedly-only was born with aplasia cutis. It's a very simple absence of skin on the scalp, a minor affliction that - in her case - healed in the form of a quarter-sized bald spot on the top of her head that was of more concern to us than to her at the time.

Always looking for a cause, I decided that I was growing my hair out to donate...just in case, when she got to an age when a small bald spot could be the harbinger of doom and potentially the end of the world, I needed material for a teaching moment.

I grew it, and grew it, and grew it. When I found out she would have a baby brother almost 4 years later, the benefts of prenatal vitamins made me into a Lady Godiva-in-waiting.

And when I knew I couldn't take it anymore (4 weeks before Muggsy was born), I donated two 14" pigtails - the blessing of thick hair - to Locks of Love.


Not making appointments for haircuts more than once a year leads to ponytail hair, and though ponytails are boring, they are certainly practical and I'm all about practical.

Since it was already almost long enough to donate, last fall I shrugged and thought it couldn't hurt to make another donation to Locks of Love so decided to give it another year to grow. I didn't know it then, but it turns out there's another personally meaningful reason to donate my hair this time (there's always a reason...so take that, stoic therapist).

Although my sister was able to get her own wig through a wonderful and generous shop right where she lives, there are so many others who are not as fortunate. So this time, my donation is going to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

And, with October just a few weeks away...being Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all...I think it's time for a haircut.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sure - just let me know and I'd be happy to help.

My writing muse is back, and apparently she's brought a friend: the creative paper fairy.

Not a moment too soon, either, because I've landed myself a PTA gig. The competition was fierce - in the end, I beat out every single other mom who, uh, didn't volunteer for it.

It's a disease, I tell you. Because - you know - I do need one more thing on my plate these days. I'm the Birthday Commissioner - among other festive duties, the provider of birthday treats and cards for all 63 members of the team that keeps MiniMe's elementary school spinning like a top.

Of course the cards are handmade. I've also created a female version and a male version. Since I'm just sadistic like that.

So, I'm in the middle of making 57 of these for the women:



and 6 of these for the men:


And lucky me - when I'm done with this, I get to tackle the other part of my PTA Birthday Commissioner responsibilities: planning, inviting, and decorating for the principal's monthly lunchroom celebration for each month's birthday students.

That one may very well put me right over the edge.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Heart

Yeah, I've been messing around with the blog again. Finally.

My Writing Muse had been on extended leave...vacationing somewhere due east of Nowhereville, apparently. But she's back, though I'm not thrilled with the impetus for her return. She sits faithfully on my shoulder only in times of crisis or stress - my tool for working through it all.

And there's an awful lot to work through right now.

I get twitchy when I need to write and can't. And for this round of trials, I couldn't write about it for six whole weeks. There were others who had to be told before I could put words to my devastation, and reading a public blog was not the way for them to find out. The process of having the conversations was convoluted. The list included parents, step-siblings, offspring, in-laws, outlaws, friends and co-workers - taking place in a certain order, using delicate timing.

So I spent the time trading texts with her, getting details, and then stirring up an interwebz smorgasbord of information with Chef Google. Sifting through medical lingo and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious pharmaceutical names was somehow comforting. I added links to my favorites at a lightning-fast pace.

I found Caring Bridge, and started the uphill battle of persuasion...she insisted that no one needed to know, or cared to know, about her progress.

But I'm a writer. I told her it was for me.

She's gotten messages of love and strength from so many people, many who don't even know her...but they know me. I'm touched to the deepest places in my heart to know that my friends would reach out to her in this way.

And then...I found my own place in the battle. Being so lost, unfocused, wanting to do more but being so far away...it was comforting to be able to choose my warrior symbol:

I'm standing strong. And writing strong. And just trying to be strong. Because we have each other. And I think she needs me.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Generations

The chin-length bob. With its neatly trimmed bangs, it's known as a stalwart, low-maintenance friend to moms who care more about practicality than fashion in those post-toddler years.

Me - 1971 - age 4
Handed down from generation to generation, it's timeless and classic - with subtle shaping that identifies its place within a decade.

My mom - 1947 - age 4
And the autocratic practicality vs. fashion conversation doesn't really become a battle of wills until well after these years have passed.

MiniMe - 2007 - age 4
Maybe it's less about practicality and more about an innate sense of how a certain style works with a genetically predisposed round face with almond-shaped eyes that turn down at the corners.


Although I can't imagine the newest member of this timeless and classic generational club ever having a practical bone in her body, who knows? Maybe it only surfaces when there's a new genetically predisposed head of hair to be managed by the hands of her mom.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ol' Blue Eyes

Fly me to the moon

Let me play among the stars

Let me see what spring is like on

A-Ju-pi-ter and Mars

In other words, hold my hand

In other words, baby kiss me

Fill my heart with song

And let me sing forever more

You are all I long for

All I worship and adore

In other words, please be true

In other words...


I..


love...


you!


It's past August 28, but still not October, so technically I'm not late. Hon, it's been 11 years of love, marriage, friendship, parenthood, and everything in between. I'm a lucky girl!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Warriors in Pink

I can sit in front of my therapist, being the truly cockeyed optimist that I am, and insist that there's a reason for something. A BIG, MEANINGFUL, KARMIC reason for something. Even when that something is kinda like a bag of rotten tomatoes being dumped over my head as I'm standing naked in the town square in front of my freshman algebra class.

She'll sigh and tell me - yet again - that sometimes crappy things just happen and there's no hidden meaning so I should focus my energy somewhere else.

I never listen to her, and the cycle begins anew. Job security for her, I guess.

This time, my bag of rotten tomatoes is not financial, or job-related, or litigious, or an unexpected [but thoroughly adored!] addition to the family.

Those are all so very, very small by comparison.

This time it really is a matter of life and death.

Cancer. My sister. A Warrior in Pink. It's a ravaging feeling - this sense of being unable to help.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seriously? Again?? I have to singlehandedly right the wrongs of the world AGAIN???

I watched her on Day One, pulling up to the curb where signs clearly communicated that it was a loading and unloading zone for BUSES ONLY - no parking. Five minutes past the second bell. She's still learning, I told myself.

I watched her on Day Two, pulling up to the curb where signs clearly communicated that it was a loading and unloading zone for BUSES ONLY - no parking. Five minutes past the second bell. I should really tell her, I told myself.

On Day Three, as she pulled up to the very same curb, with the very same signs clearly communicating that it was a loading and unloading zone for BUSES ONLY, again five minutes late, I approached her window.

With doe-eyed wonder, she seemed genuinely surprised when I told her that the safest drop-off area was in the supervised circle to the south of the main entrance on the other side of the building.

"But they're only in first grade!" she protested, the expectant faces of her twin boys looking up at me.

I had watched dozens of very capable first graders step off the buses, head for the stairwell to the line-up area, with no parental guidance or protest evident.

I took both boys by the hand and walked them up the steps to the front door, pointed them down the hall, and watched as they very capably walked toward their respective classrooms.

Heading back out to my post at the curb, I heard her ask another parent volunteer what time school actually started.

Because she didn't get the same packet every parent got...including the bright pink sheet that outlined the schedule for first bell, second bell, recess times, lunch times, afternoon bell and drop-off/pick-up policies?

I wondered if her other vehicle was a pearl white Escalade with shiny 24-inch custom wheels. But I couldn't see her rhinestone-encrusted Crackberry, so I just wasn't sure.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pink Shirt Day

My eyes were tired...vision blurred...it was at least an hour before my normal wake-up time and I had a killer headache.

From somewhere in the scratchy depths of half-sleep, I remembered: it's Tuesday.

I dragged myself into the shower, really felt the warmth of the water and let it remind me to just enjoy that moment, then pulled my newest pink shirt from the closet. I've never really been a fan of pink.

The kids struggled with Day Two of our back-to-school routine. I needed full cooperation today so I could get over to take my place with the other parent volunteers at the elementary school, making sure the buses unloaded in a civilized manner and each kid used his or her walking feet. Running? Not allowed. My voice was hoarse after 15 short minutes.

My pink shirt blew in the morning breeze, reminding me.

Deadline, conflict, challenge, delay...the jarring cadence of dischord at work today kept me on edge. I sighed, growled, frowned, and threw up my arms in frustration.

And caught a glimpse of my pink shirt, reminding me.

Escaping my day at work, I arrived home to the cacophony of two kids each trying to share their Day Two tales with me before the other. I yanked my bag and purse out of the car, slamming the door...on the tail of my pink shirt, reminding me.

The laundry monster was clawing its way out of the overflowing baskets onto the floor, so I heaved a sigh and took my place at the bed to fold at least 7 recent loads that had gone largely ignored. I sorted little boy shorts into one pile, big boy underwear into another...Hannah Montana t-shirts into a pile, and camisole tanks into the other. Thinking I ought to get out of my work clothes, but not quite ready to take off my pink shirt because it reminds me.

One last load of laundry to the washing machine and I could relax...but within 10 minutes there was a small flood in the laundry room because of a ruptured water line on the washing machine. As I looked to the heavens, wanting to cuss a blue streak, I saw the water spots on my pink shirt, and it reminded me.

I wear pink on the Tuesdays that she's having chemo. To remind me...that I shouldn't sweat the small stuff.

Lessons learned.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

As trial marriages go, it wasn't a failure

My relationship with him was a great way to spend my 20s. But compared to where I am now, it was a life that was so. radically. different.

Married shortly after I turned 22, I gained a step-daughter who is 18 months younger than me. My new husband - her father - graduated from high school the year I was born.

A few months after I married him, she herself got engaged. Since her mom (a wonderful parent though just 16 years older than her) was geographically distant, she asked me to join her and help choose tuxedos.

We shared a giddy adventure that day.

The sales rep guessed we were sisters. We gave each other a knowing look, then laughed a bit too loudly, and he tried again. Roommates? Neighbors? Childhood friends?

She told him I was her stepmom. He chuckled, trying to get the joke, and then started shifting in his shoes when we didn't offer a punch line.

He somehow managed to complete all the paperwork while we delighted in his discomfort caused by our non-traditional relationship, and we went out for lunch afterward to celebrate and giggle some more.

It's been 23 years since she and I first sized each other up in the kitchen of her dad's house. Ours is a friendship born of circumstance and nurtured with love - one that survived my phone call 15 years ago, telling her that I had to leave the marriage.

It even survived my explanations, over a decade later and unknown to her until then, as to why I had to leave.

Although I should have been expecting the message she left for me a few days ago, it still caught me off-guard.

She's convinced that he's not going to live to see his 61st birthday in October.

It's bad. His demons may have finally won the war.

Truthfully, my heartstrings resonate with only an off-key chord of sympathy for him. My biggest concern is for her - for the happy and balanced life she's built for herself, for her two amazing children, and for the drama-free life she lives without his influence.

Still...I have albums of photos...nine years of both adventure as well as threads of everyday life. These are fibers woven into the fabric of my being...a fabric that reflects many lessons learned...like knowing what I wanted when I found it on a mountain bike trail 12 years ago.

Wishing him well...I guess. Whatever that means for him.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Taste buds

The relationship had fallen into a flavorless menu of the weather, the kids, and the effects of the economy on our respective lives.

When we needed something spicier, we peppered our infrequent conversations with a little armchair wisdom based in the perceived maladies -- both physical and mental -- of our parents.

My eyes rolled by habit when I described her in casual conversation...oh, we're SO different.

I imagined she did much the same...Her? Well, we just don't have very much in common.

But really? We have each other.

When we each separately, as independent adults, got The Call from our folks letting us know they had filed for divorce after 28 years of marriage, we intimately conspired to meet just about halfway from ground zero to get our sibling ducks in a row before meeting with them.

She always made her disdain for him clear. I never gave her credit for her fierce loyalty to me.

Approaching 30 and on my own for the first time since age 19, she hosted me in her small-town resort community and then held my hair while I prayed to the porcelain god of relief as an unpracticed victim of The Power of Tequila.

When I was stuck in a dead-end casual relationship and needed her unabashed, high-energy social influence, she came out to visit me for a girls weekend of epic proportion.

Four months after she gave birth to her first child, I asked her to travel many miles with her husband and infant son to stand at my side -- for a second time -- as I vowed in sickness and in health to love and support the right man. And she did, no questions asked.

Then...the long, cold winter. The season of our discontent.

Almost 5 years between visits, a time when we called it good to trade gift cards at Christmas and lazily swirl our flavorless, decaf sibling coffee into a non-descript shade of mellow tan on a decidedly irregular basis.

We did reconnect here in Schaererville a few years ago...but we were still so different.

Her boys wanted to ride our redneck ATVs in the cul-de-sac. She screeched at them to slow down and GODDAMMIT WEAR THOSE HELMETS!

I wanted to hike. She made us wait an extra hour because she had to re-paint her toenails.

We threw burgers on the grill, wanting to relax on the deck and enjoy the sunset. She asked when we'd be heading downtown to the clubs.

So different, and the flavor hadn't changed a bit.

Until the message a few weeks ago...the one that said, "Hey, call me when you have a minute. I have some not so good news to share."

And with that, the recipe no longer mattered. We had each other. The journey ahead would depend on that.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's been...awhile

Thanksgiving has passed.

Christmas has passed.

A new year's celebration welcoming a new decade has passed.

I haven't managed to get myself near a keyboard to note anything momentous.

But now, as February 2010 brings us the opportunity to remember that the world isn't really so big after all, and that athletes have the same collective heart no matter what country they call home, the XXI Winter Olympics are here.

We were part of it in 2002 here in Salt Lake City.

The next two weeks will be good for me.