Posts Tagged With: Friday Letters

 
 

Apples and Other Things

 

Monday Friday Letter to My Kids – September 25, 2017

Dear J, J, L and L,

I know, I know, it’s not Friday. And I haven’t written to you for ages. I figured it must be about time. And besides, why wait until Friday?

I ran across this quote recently.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ~ Louise Erdrich

It’s not exactly the kind of thought a mother wants to talk to her kids about. Nope. A mom wants to talk about hope and happiness and all that good, sticky, lick-your-fingers kind of stuff.

But there it is.

I’ve tried all I can to protect you. From day one it was my main instinct. Still is.

At this point in your lives, and in mine, all I can do to provide protection is pray like your lives depend on my ability to call down the powers of heaven and surround you like a giant cone of cotton candy. But, no matter how much faith I have, or how hard I pray for you, I know the cotton candy part isn’t always, or even often, in the equation. Although I do believe there’s divine help made available in abundance.

fullsizeoutput_aa2I know you have faced down some hard things in life, even as young as you each are. I know the road has been broken and has worn down countless pairs of shoes for some of you. I know you’ve felt swallowed up and beaten down.  I would take and carry it away from you if I could. But motherhood has its limitations.

Thankfully, I also know you’ve felt the opposite of all that heartache. Joy beyond measure! I remember big J’s words as we left the hospital to get some breakfast after little H arrived. You said with every bit of energy of your soul, “What a beautiful morning to be born!” I know you’ve each shared a similar outpouring of happiness beyond imagining.

Mostly your days bring that mixed tangle of laughter and frustration, just like it should be. Some days you stagger under the weight of it all. Other days it’s like you have wings and the world is alive with hope and energy.

Every experience you have is another bite of one of those apples. Sour, juicy, tough skinned, sweet, worms, bruises, crunchy, crisp, laced with cinnamon and sugar, tasteless, tangy, tart, cold, mushy, magnificent, tiresome.

fullsizeoutput_a9cI pray you taste as many as you can, as often as you can.  I hope you love, often and deeply and with wild abandon. I hope you occasionally have the chance to sit under the tree and savor the smells and sounds.

I’m working on my hugging-more and worrying-less experiences. Those are the apples I need to taste more of.

Now I feel like baking up some apple crisp. And then adding a pile of vanilla ice cream on the side. Sounds like the perfect breakfast, doesn’t it?

I love you wildly,

Mom

~~~~~

640px-RedDelicious

 Photo by Brian Arthur

“And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”
~Kahlil Gibran

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Categories: Family, Food, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

Friday Letter to My Kids: That Was Real In Tents

March 25, 2016

Dear J, J, L and L,

Sorry for the bad pun in the title. I couldn’t help myself. But this letter happens to discuss tents. One tent in particular.

IMG_5982

Very handy

Your father and I recently went camping. Yes, camping in March in Arizona. We got up in to the pines but not into any patches of snow. We’ve done that with L and L as I recall. That was the “Little Muddy Foot” and “Queen of the Flame” with snow patches around us trip. That was cold. Oh, and once with Aunt Ny, up American Fork Canyon in April. Brrrr.

I digress.

So, as I was saying,  your dad and I went camping. Instead of the two-man tent, which is pretty snug and requires crawling around and barely allows kneeling upright, we chose to bring the good ol’ six man tent. You remember that one, a big yellow and white dome with a gray rain fly. Yup, that tent. It’s big enough for standing up to get dressed and maneuvering around in. It’s a spacious and comfortable temporary abode for two people.

For six people, it’s a snug fit. Oh, but the warmth generated inside there is awesome on a cold camping night. We’ve had a few of those in that tent.

IMG_5974

Ponderosa Pines and sunshine!

If I put my brain to it I’m sure I could almost come close to remembering all the times we’ve put up that tent and slept in it. We’ve slid the poles through the sleeves on that tent in a bunch of states. Washington, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, (oddly, never Colorado) Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennesee, and North Carolina. Let me know if you think I missed any.

I remember a Thanksgiving in North Carolina with raccoons visiting during the night. And two days of rain camping also in North Carolina a little too near a stream that rose a few feet. There’s the New Mexico fiasco as part of the camping our way across the country. Pitched our tent across the lake from a nuclear power plant in Arkansas, where I was sure I was gonna die but somehow didn’t. We’ll never forget rain camping with a grand mud fight in Oklahoma.

We’ve had some grand adventures in that tent. We’ve also experienced angst and anger, aggravation and sheer boredom in that tent. If that tent could talk, imagine the tales it would tell. We’ve owned that creative piece of engineering genius made from fabric since October 1989. That makes it 27 years old. That’s quite a long life for a tent.

How can I be so sure of the year and month? Your Dad called me from Oakland, California where he was working in a skyscraper on October 17, 1989 to tell me he was in an earthquake. We decided in the days following that disaster that we needed to be more prepared for whatever the world and life threw our way. Owning a tent and some camping equipment would make us a bit more self-reliant if we ever found ourselves evacuated or homeless for whatever odd reasons life comes at us with.

One of the best investments we ever made was that tent and those sleeping bags. I hope you agree.

IMG_5981A few years back the rainfly became a congealed mass of guck. I think it spent a month too long in the back of the truck on an extended road trip and the heat did a number on its chemistry. The manufacturer no longer made that tent or rainfly (imagine that after 27 years) so we didn’t haven a replacement.

On this most recent camping trip we jury-rigged a rainfly out of a blue tarp. We did that not for any rain in the forecast, but to keep the heat from escaping out the mesh panels at the top of the tent. It looked a little amateurish, but it served its purpose.

Breakage kind of defined this camping jaunt. Luckily no bones were broken. But one of our cots broke, which was inconvenient but not unbearable. And one of the camp chairs collapsed while your dad was sitting in it. That was inconvenient. (I knew we should have thrown in an extra one.) And then after nightfall a zipper broke on one of the tent doors. As a quick and dirty fix we simply duct taped it shut. (Red Green would be proud.) But by morning the wind had kicked up and the duct tape didn’t hold things together in all that swaying. I woke up to a cold breeze blowing through the tent.

IMG_5977

My sewing job included a needle poke and blood.

We debated what to do about that, since we wanted to stay another night. I dug through my backpacking pack and found a sewing kit and guess what? I sewed that broken zipper opening shut! Was that clever or what? I was pleased with myself. Luckily that tent has two doors, so we simply used the other one.

Between the rainfly and the tent door we got the hint that it’s time to retire the old reliable family tent. I knew you’d be broken hearted to hear this. Or at least semi-interested. So I thought I’d let you know about it before we give it a fitting farewell. It almost feels like we ought to be respectful and burn it, but I don’t know if I could watch that happen. Saying goodbye is a tough thing.

Of course, we need to buy a replacement tent before we do that. I’d like a four-man tent that you can still stand up in, at least in the middle of it. I think we’re past the backpacking stage, but you know your dad will want to camp in all four seasons, so it’ll need to be a rugged piece of equipment.

FullSizeRender-3 copy 4

These Flutterbys were everywhere!

I have so many happy memories that revolve around that tent. We had some great times camping, didn’t we? I’d love to hear about some of your favorites sometime. To me, they were all epic and made us the family that we are.

Even though three of you are out of state this Easter, and I’ll miss coloring eggs and putting olives on our fingers during Easter dinner, I’ve been feeling a strong connection to you this week, thanks to that old yellow tent.

Thank you for always being willing to go along on those outings, and for being part of the joy of the outdoors that’s such an integral part of who I am. Here’s hoping that a love of nature and camping has woven itself affectionately around your genes as well.

Love you each beyond expression,

Mom

~~~~~

“My tent doesn’t look like much but, as an estate agent might say, “It is air-conditioned and has exceptional location.” ~ Fennel Hudson

 

Categories: Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Forever Young

Friday Letter to my Kids – July 17, 2015 –

Dear J, J. L, and L,

A month ago, consistently and often, well-meaning sales associates, grocery baggers, repairmen and strangers insisted on offering me their senior discounts. What a sweet gesture to want to help me save ten percent on my purchases and services. Unfortunately, I always walked away from such encounters deflated and more tired than I already felt. I didn’t think I looked all that old.

Then one day in less than four hours I was referred to as “young lady” a dozen times. I wasn’t sure how to take that either. I’m no spring chicken, so the reference felt a little odd. I should have accepted it as their way of being polite without making me feel old.

Surely there’s a balance between “senior discount” and “young lady”. I’ll let you know when I discover what it is.

Mom circa 1957

Mom circa 1957

Yesterday morning I spent some time with my mom, your Grandma M, looking at some of the many photo albums she’s compiled over the years. Next time you’re up her way you should ask her to show them to you. (They’re in the living room closet nearest to the front door on a shelf, if she forgets.)

One album my sister N had put together for them as a gift. That album had  photos of your Grandma and Grandpa as kids and as teenagers, as newlyweds and as young parents. I wanted to snap photos of all the photographs but restrained myself to just a couple.

Those pictures bore witness to the my mom as a clarinetist in her high school band and as a smartly coiffed, high-stepping majorette. She also competed in the first Miss Morgan beauty pageant with four other contestants. Ooo la la! I’ll bet  you didn’t know that about her.

Dad circa 1956?

Dad circa 1956?

We stumbled across some postcards with a 1947 postmark that my dad and his brother had painstakingly written to their mother (your great grandma M) who had apparently gone to Illinois to visit someone who’d had a baby. Grandpa’s handwriting improved drastically when he became an engineer and had to hand letter blueprints for the DOT. You’ve probably seen his distinctive penmanship, which could pass as a typesetting font.

Some of my favorite photos in the albums were of Mom and Dad’s courtship days. Such smiles! Such innocence! Such true love!

The photo albums sparked remembrances located mostly in the recesses of my brain, such as:

  • my Dad riding a tricycle with his knees on the back stand and his hands pedaling, quite a feat of dexterity for an adult
  • my Mom hanging sheets on the laundry line or holding my hand on a hike
  • my Dad riding motorcycles on mountain trails
  • peeking in on my parents when they hosted a card game night at our house, laughing raucously with their friends like they never quite laughed with us kids
  • Mom holding a newborn baby after each of my five younger siblings were born
  • Dad’s ear-piercing  whistle that we could hear from the bottomlands of the local park

They were quite a team, raising such a gaggle of offspring. Almost sixty years later, they depend on each other like never before. Dad tries to fill in the memory gaps and missing sequencing ability that Mom’s strokes have destroyed. He makes breakfast every morning for her and she provides background music on the piano throughout the day. She insists on her independence as much as life allows. He still teases Lulu the cat as if he were a sixteen year old. She still makes jokes and laughs at the funniest things. Dad still has a wanderlust and needs to go somewhere every day in the car, even if it’s just to town or the grocery store.

Despite what my eyes show me when I visit them, in my mind they will always be forever young,

They’ve seen a fair bit of the world, from Russia to Cancun and a lot in between, which for a couple of western kids born in the 1930’s says a lot about their willingness to try new things and step outside their comfort zones.

In my mind, my parents remain that young newlywed couple with a future laid out bright and wide before them. There’s no other way to think about it. Anything less is unfathomable; forever young and together forever.

It’s what I’d wish for each one of you. May you also be forever young.

All my love,

Mom

p.s. Here’s a cover version of that famous song by Bob Dylan. Listen and enjoy a wonderful song.

“Forever Young” by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

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Not a Cookie Cutter Holiday

Friday Letter to My Kids ~ May 8, 2015 ~

Dear J, J, L and L,

You know how I was always such a grouch about mother’s day? I’ve decided to give up that silly notion and move on, finally.

I don’t know about other women, but I feel like I came from the planet Venus. Not because I meet some arbitrary list of ideas that some author came up with, but because I’ve never met anyone else like me. There may be other Venusians out there, other Kami-like creatures, but I’ve yet to run into one.

What does that have to do with Mother’s Day? I suppose it’s that I’ve always felt a bit out-of-place and not in my element. I surely never felt like I fit any Mothering Mold. But I’ve come to believe that there isn’t a cookie cutter for Mothers.

Closest cookie cutter shape to a Mom that I could find.

Closest cookie cutter shape to a Mom that I could find.

Mothers take on the shape that they must to meet the needs of their children. At least, most of them do. (I’ve met a few who don’t.) I tried to shape myself to your needs, not consciously, but instinctively. Whether I was ready for the job or not when each one of you came along I molded myself to fit your little fuzzy head and squalling cry. I moved and shaped my days and years to do what I could to make your life a happy one.

Naturally I fell short in that effort simply because I’m a human. And in that shortfall I often felt I’d let you down somehow. Not that I could have done things any differently than I did. I think it’s just part of life that we disappoint those we most love in spite of our very best efforts.

And that’s where my head and heart sat every May when that greeting card angst-riddled holiday of Mother’s Day rolled around. Feeling that I didn’t deserve honor or accolades or chocolates or flowers. Silly, don’t you think, that I’d hold myself to some standard of perfection? I can see now how nonsensical that was.

But having some close calls in losing my mother the past year or two made me think more about mothering. I never felt like my Mom let me down or fell short. She gave me life. She shaped me. She answered my cries in the middle of the night, cleaned up my messes, worked hard at everything she did and somehow still kept loving me in spite of stupid and hurtful choices I made. Amazing!

And that made me think about how much I love the four of you, each in a different, but intensely personal way. I’m proud of each one of you. I became who I am because of your influence and shaping and needs. I’m blessed beyond words to be your mother.

No gifts are necessary. No cards or words or hugs, either. You are my gifts, my jewels, my crowning joy.

Thank you!

All my love forever,

Mom

~~~~~

"Bluebird of Happymess"

The Bluebird of Happymess

Categories: children, Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Friday Letters to My Kids, mother, motherhood, mothers, parenting | Tags: , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Nameless: The Bear Who Still Lives, Sort of

Friday Letter to My Kids – April 17, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

When I need to get some conversation started with someone I don’t know well I often mention my Grand-dogs, Blondie and Pabst. Almost everyone can relate to dogs and dog stories. They always get a chuckle out of the term “grand-dog.” For sure it’s a real thing. I bought some doggie treats the other day to have around the house. Is that a Grandma thing, or what? It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to dog ownership given your dad’s anti-dog attitude.

Kind of along the same lines as pets, with an imaginative metaphysical leap, stuffed animals fall in a similar category.

This one's on ebay and labeled Vintage.

This one’s on ebay and labeled Vintage.

The first stuffed animal to join our family back in the very early eighties was Peter Cottontail. I know you all know him only as “That Creepy Bunny” but he once had led a charmed and happy life. When Peter first arrived, Big J had also just arrived. (Hard to believe the man i stand on tip-toes to hug was once such a tiny snuggable babe.) If you wound up Peter’s key he’d play the song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” in sweet music box chime, while his head moved from side to side with the music. His fur was soft, his blue velvet jacket removable, and his whiskers ever so cute.

After a few years, in an attempt to keep him from getting destroyed, Peter spent some time in a box or two, and in storage more than a couple of times. Then he became an Easter decoration. Somewhere along the way his blue jacket got lost, his whiskers bent and his head movements grew jerky and odd, more like a tick than a dance. Oh, and his song kind of warped. In fact, I haven’t seen Peter for a while now. I’m a little worried about him. Probably made the migration to another box in the garage. I’m not sure he’s going to get to be a real bunny. But that’s another story.

Other stuffed animals came to stay, most for a long time. The Care Bears that your Grandma M made captured my heart. And Sparky moved away with Big L and now frolics with her littles, flatter and smooshier than he was when he got named by Grandpa M.  And then there’s Lambie, a few years younger than Peter and much fluffier with a wind up chime that still plays. Where did Lambie go anyway? Hmmm.

Then there’s this guy…

Big enough to sit up in my office chair.

Big enough to sit up in my office chair.

This bear came to me in my early teen years. A snuggly friend to hold and talk to when I felt friendless and forlorn. (A common malady called puberty, if I recall correctly. As per Baymax.) Somehow I never named this bear. How strange is that? He came along with me when I moved out of my childhood home, but shortly afterwards developed a leaky foot. Pieces of stuffing bled out of him in spurts and squirts and made a mess. He got put in a mending pile, then the mending box, then a box of his own. I finally, finally, finally fixed his owie last year so he doesn’t leak. But still, no one really plays with him. Is he too big? Intimidating? Lacking a personality? Maybe if he had a name he’d seem friendlier and more approachable. Maybe he needs a little messenger bag that hold treats and chocolate, a kind of bribery for friendship deal. I just don’t know.

He probably needs to hang out on the couch so he can pick up some pointers from watching Netflix, TED talks and PBS. Frankly, I’m a little sad for him.

The playgroup?

The playgroup?

Maybe I can get a playgroup going between him and the White Tiger, Beremy, the Huggy Bears, Chicken, and Giraffe. Red Pig and Crocodile will want to be part of the gang. Maybe Lambchop can join in too, if he can promise not to sing that endless song.

I’m a little worried that I’m even considering such things. I’m sure I just need to get out more often. It might be time for me to find a paying gig. Or go back to school.

I’m fine. Really.

In the meantime, If you have any ideas for a good stuffed bear name, let me know. I’m open to suggestions.

Lots of love,

Mom

~~~~~

P.S. Do you remember The Teddy Bears Picnic? Click here to listen to it again. Good times!!

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Light and Dark

Friday Letter to my Kids – March 27, 2015 –

*****

Dear J, J, L and L,

I wish I could dispense amazing tidbits of wisdom and peace in these letters to you.

Although, that’d probably just come off as advice, which I really don’t want these turning into. And I’m not really all that wise, just old. Older.

Think about it. In twenty years a couple of you will practically be my age and I’ll be my mom’s age, give or take few. That ought to blow you away a little.

Here’s the thing. Time doesn’t always equal wisdom.

Time amounts to experience, which some people confuse with wisdom.

Compared to some people’s stable, lived-in-the-same-town-forever lives, I’ve had a bunch of experience. But compared to other lives, I live a sheltered existence. The closest I get to some things comes across a flickering screen. And that’s fine with me. I don’t want those kinds of experiences.

A couple of weeks ago I read this thought that hit me full on in the face with how simply profound it felt.

Don't know who to attribute this wisdom to.

Don’t know who to attribute this wisdom to.

Wish I’d had that a year or two ago. Wish I’d known and believed it twenty years ago. I’m certain I’ll need a reminder of it in the future as well, dang it.

We all need reminders of certain things. This one now serves as my big reminder about who am I, where I’ve been, what I want, what I’d like to overcome. Hopefully this reminder will help me.

Maybe it’ll help you sometime, too.

By the way, you’re each part of the light I learned in. Thanks for that.

***

All my love,

Mom

~~~~~

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.” ~ Mark Twain 

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Mugging It for the Camera

Friday Letter to my Kids – March 20, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

A solid, deep blue basic. My go to mug.

A solid, deep blue basic. My go to mug.

I went through a kitchen cupboard this week in my continuing efforts to downsize, declutter and dejunk. I also sorted and organized one of the messier drawers since Dad couldn’t find a twist tie and I knew we owned at least a thousand of them. What a tidy drawer the plastic bags and foil and waxed paper have to live in now.

In my defense, most of what resides behind those closed doors and drawers exists for those mythical and rare times when the entire family gets together. Your Dad and I only need a few of everything, even on our wildest cooking days. But when it’s time to fondue, or holiday dinner or family barbecue then we need more than a dozen plates, a zillion drinking glasses, multiple forks and knives, myriad amounts of pans and bowls. But for the other 361 days of the year we have far too many things in our cupboards.

Might be a collector?

Might be a collector?

This particular cupboard received a comment probably half a year ago. Something having to do with owning more glasses and mugs than a small nation needs. It’s true. Between the glass cups I prefer and the blue plastic ones Dad likes, the sippy cups for the littles, and all the other odd mismatched ones it’s an overabundance of drinking paraphernalia. That doesn’t even include the mugs and teacups.

I pulled all the mugs out of the cupboard first. Ah, such fun memories. I have a bit of a collection, one that could be on display except that it’s not classy like china. Granted it isn’t a shot glass collection, or salt and pepper shakers from around the world. It’s just a small taste of my past life. I admit I’m a bit of a hot chocolate fiend. Having the perfect mug that fits my mood when I mix the elixir simply adds to the pleasure of the experience.

I though if I paraded my mugs perhaps it’d help me decide which ones to let go. Maybe you want to claim one or two for yourselves. I think a couple actually belong to you guys. Let me know. I’m happy to pass them on to a new life.

I have a few more around the house that became pencil holders when the handle broke or the lip chipped. A purple Venus, a silver snowflake, a blue speckled tin. I can’t seem to let things go. isn’t that weird? I think so.

There’s some history in these mugs. Lots of cold mornings with a steaming cup of cider. Some snowy afternoons with hot chocolate to thaw your toes from the inside. Plenty of sick days with Russian Tea warming the mug and soothing your throat. It’s been fun looking at them with you.

You know, it’s not the mugs I’m hanging onto so much as it is the memories. Seems like that’s what it all really comes down to in most decisions. People, not things.

Love you all,

Mom

~~~~~

“Hot chocolate is like a hug from the inside.”

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One of the Coolest Kids I’ve Ever Known

Friday Letters to My Kids – March 13, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

One of the coolest kids I’ve ever known showed up in my house the other day. Actually, it was a photo of him.

In it he’s about six or seven years old. A first grader I would guess, or maybe the summer before second grade. He’s got a great set of wheels, complete with hand brakes. The Northwest sun reflects off one of his slightly chubby cheeks, which he inherited from his Mom’s side of the family.

Is this cool, or what?

Is this cool, or what?

He’s smiling, but just barely. I’m not sure if the camera simply captured him before he reached full grin or if he was going for a certain look.

He’s got a James Dean confidence in his stance, on his face, in the way he rests his hand on the bike. And, this important detail, he ain’t wearing no sissy helmet.

Not that the little guy on the right is a sissy.  He probably went on to rock the quarterback spot of his High School football team in Gig Harbor.  I liked his family. Nice people, salt of the earth people. I feel bad we lost touch with them.

Big J here, on the left, loved riding that bike. A year later he got a Joe Cool skateboard because, frankly, I’ve always thought of him as a Joe Cool. Suave, relaxed, charismatic, able to master any skill he set his mind to.

He’s still that way. Except the bike is way flashier and a helmet would not be a sissy thing at all, not at those speeds. And he has a hot blond who rides on the back with him. He can also do anything. At least, I think he can. Change out an engine on a car? Why not? Design, engineer and build a custom part for his ride? Easy. Make a computer do whatever the heck he wants it to? Cake. Need any kind of repair in the house done?? He’s got it handled. No problem.

On top of such coolness he’s a nice guy, too. He’s one of the first to stop and help push a car to the side of the road if they stall out in an intersection, or do a gas run for a car on empty. He’ll go out of his way to help a friend or a member of his family, even if it means missing out on sleep or giving up something he wants. How cool is that?

You might not be able to tell from this picture, but he’s got a bit of a teasing streak and loves to laugh, too.

This kid shows up at my house on a pretty regular basis, live and in person. Am I lucky or what? He’s still just as awesome as this picture shows.

I sure do love this kid.

Love,

Mom

~~~~~

“Dream as if you will live forever; Live as if you will die today.” ~ James Dean

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Are Your Edges Tucked in Neatly or Sprawling?

Friday Letter to my Kids – March 6, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

Last night your Dad told me I’m predictable. This floored me. Sure I like to have some stability in my life, some routine. I seem to function best when I can anticipate and plan. Aren’t most people that way?

And you four, of all people, know my life has been mostly anything but predictable. I’ve learned to be a chameleon, adapting to all the various hues life’s thrown at me. Sometimes, I’ve felt like one of those Color Race runners, smeared in so much color it’s tough to figure out who’s who. I’m flexible and easy-going. That’s not predictable, is it?

In homage to my perceived unpredictability and spontaneity I even changed my mini chalkboard to this quote recently:

This week's thought...

This week’s thought…

Compared to your Dad, I suppose,  I’m a brick of predictability, a Stonehenge-sized rock of boringness, an Easter Island statue of immovability.

People keep holding up these mirrors that show me I’m not who I think I am. It’s a little unnerving and discombobulating and confusing and annoying.

I am cheerful though, usually. I at least try to maintain cheerfulness amid my staunchly dry toast without butter demeanor. Sitting here at my freshly cleaned up desk and pristine “writing room/guest bedroom” I look at my bulletin board and read these thoughts which daily remind me of my wish to be contagiously happy and sunshiny.

See, cheery thoughts that I look at multiple times a day. I might be predictable, but at least I’m smiling.

Why do I see being predictable as something negative? I’m not sure your Dad meant it as a negative. He probably said it as a fact, something with no value judgment attached at all.

There’s much to be said for predictability, stability and stick-to-it-iveness. It’s pretty much what keeps the world going forward. But then, so to, the unpredictable, unstable, outside-the-box-thinkers, who never want to color inside the lines or conform to anything. That’s where innovation and invention lives and produces. Mostly, anyway.

This saying also hangs within view from my desk:

photo 3-5 copy 11

A good idea.

It should probably be in Dad’s office and not mine. He has bigger dreams than I have. Mine are tiny and tentative and his are the epic kind that can change the world given a foothold. Or I could make one for each of you, since you’re young when dreams have such promise and possibility.

I guess I’ve always seen myself as a creative thinker. But, really, I’m a schlumpy, by the clock kind of person. I like to be on time or early. I like to have things to look forward to. I like a schedule and a plan. Even if I’m not great at following through with those plans. I need structure.

Where each of you fit on that spectrum, I’m not certain.  I know I’m wowed by what you accomplish and by how fearlessly you face forward. As always, I’m amazed that you’re my kids. I think you’re more like your Dad than like me. And that’s a good thing. A very good thing.

Really, you’re each simply a good mix of both your Dad and me and a bunch of stuff that’s uniquely your own. It’s fun watching you be you. Not a one of you has been predictable yet.

I sure love you!

Mom

~~~~~

“In fiction: we find the predictable boring. In real life: we find the unpredictable terrifying.” ~Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Categories: Friday Letters, Friday Letters to My Kids | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Curing my Paper Addiction

Friday Letter to my Kids ~ 2/13/15 ~

Dear J, J, L and L,

photo 1-6 copy 11My favorite three-year old gifted me these origami cranes a while ago. No, she’s not an origami master, but her mother’s pretty handy in all things crafty. They’ve got a few of these hanging around at their house. Using paper that’s been previously written on adds value to the pieces. I can make out a few words but would have to completely dismantle the crane to read what it actually says. That’s kind of where origami began, as a way of sending a message where the reader would know if it had been read because the folding sequence would be out of whack.

I love paper. Notebooks, book books, notecards, drawings, sticky notes, envelopes. (Not so much a fan of mail though, bills, advertisements, newspapers.) You probably knew that.

I’ve always liked the idea of handcrafted papers, I love their textures and the uniqueness of each page. It’s as if the blank paper is already art and whatever you write on them enhances or is enhanced by the medium it’s written on.

Did you know paper once was a very rare commodity? I learned that recently. Kind of made me want to hoard a few notebooks.

Oh, wait. I already have a paper stash. Actually more like a used paper warehouse. But you know that. You lived with it all your growing up years. And it’s not really a stash, it’s more of a paper monster.

Not sure if this is the paper monster or me afraid of the thing.

Not sure if this is the paper monster or me afraid of the thing.

I’m slowly getting it tamed. Pulling such a beast into a submissive state takes willpower and courage and a few other gifts I’m rather sketchy on.

Several weeks ago I finally cleared my desk. By clearing I mean that I took everything off the desk and made a ginormous pile behind me to sort through. I’m hoping most of it ends up in the recycle bin. A few too many papers have migrated back to the desk already, in no particular order. And a smaller “to be sorted” pile emerged from the first gigantic “to be sorted” pile.

Your dad says he can see progress. He’s so kind to me. I’m not so sure there’s any improvement.

Also, in the garage, I plan condense a shelf of ten boxes of random papers into one or two file boxes of organized documents, and then fill the recycle bin to the top two or three times. I think I have twenty years worth of Christmas cards among those boxes. Pretty certain I don’t need them all.

Do you ever wonder if a hundred years from now paper documents will appear on Antique Roadshow as something stunningly rare and worth zillions. If future archeologists uncover my garage or my office they’d feel like they found the mother lode of paper.

Here’s the thing, which probably sounds like justification or excuses to you, but it’s the truth. Bunches of those papers have this magical power over me because they’re from one of you. I could probably part just fine with the school papers and class assignments. But the notes you’ve written to me or your dad, the pictures you drew, those snippets of “who you were” need organizing and special care. Does that sound dumb? I’m sure it sounds so stupid.

Simply letting all those papers go into the recycle bin somehow feels as if I’m letting parts of you slip through my fingers. Nonsense, yes, I know that.

If I could approach the task as a museum curator perhaps I could finally succeed in whittling away the amount of papers I have squirreled away.

cu·rate
ˌkyo͝oˈrāt  verb
  • select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition)
  • select the performers or performances that will feature in (an arts event or program).
  • select, organize, and present (content, information, etc.), typically using professional or expert knowledge

Perhaps, with that sort of thinking I could manage the task of taming the paper monster. Maybe my kid museum could be one binder per child. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

I’d classify my interaction with paper as a love/hate relationship. As I attempt to tame the monstrous paper fiend that hides in the garage (and the smaller but equally tenacious paper boogie man in my office) I hope to find some balance and health in the process.

Photo By Ron whisky (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My paper monster could someday look just like this, ya think? Photo By Ron whisky (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I could whip that paper monster into shape until it’s a warm, fuzzy, unthreatening thing in my life.
It could happen.
I think I’ll hang the cranes over my desk as a message and a symbolic reminder that I’m a curator and not a hoarder. Wish me luck!
Hugs and Love to you each,
Mom

 ~~~*~~~

 

Categories: Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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