Archive for June, 2011

18 Jun 2011

Flawless Saturday Question

16 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. Tell me about a dad in your life. He can be a friend, your husband, your father, an uncle… You get the idea. Help me celebrate fathers and tell me,

Who is a dad you admire, and why? Great stories are strongly encouraged!

Let me first say, I married a man who turned out to be not only a stellar husband, but a miraculous father. He is already creating memories with our son, which will stick with him always. He is beyond silly, immensely patient, always optimistic, and incredibly warm, kind, cuddly and loving. Garrett is so fortunate to have a father like Russ, and I am so lucky to get to watch their special relationship unfold. I know how lucky G is, because I was that lucky with my own father. Happy Father’s Day, Russ.

This will be my first Father’s Day without my dad. Those of you who are regular readers know how much he means to me, and what an incredible dad he was. Here’s one of my favorite and funniest memories:

We had just gotten a new dog from the pound. His name was Max and he was a mutt, mostly shepherd with some golden retriever thrown in, I think. Great dog. We knew he was for us the second we saw him. My dad tended to love the Family Dog almost as much as he loved the Family. It was one of those awesome things about him.

Now let me back track for a second. About two months before we got Max, my mom furnished her living room for the first time since my parents bought the house 14 years earlier. See, my folks kept the living room completely open for that ENTIRE time so that my brother and I could have a rehearsal space in the house. They loved having kids come over to rehearse for school festivals, drama camp scenes, and our sketch-comedy shows. Now that Bob and I were both out of school, my parents finally furnished that space.

The biggest purchase was an off-white, half-circle, silk couch that was my mom’s prize possession. When we got Max, (who she also loved dearly), she insisted that we keep him away from that couch. Her only request: “I waited 14 years to get this couch. Please don’t let that dog ruin it.”

So, it was about a week after getting Max and I had just come home from work and he clearly had to pee. I ran him to the back door, through the living room, past the couch…

He peed on the couch.

He lifted his leg and peed, right there on the side of my mom’s new, off-white, silk couch.

I stared at him, my mouth agape, my head reeling. “MAX! NOOOOOOOOO!”

Now what do I do?

I ran to the kitchen to call my dad, who worked about three miles from home at the time.

“DAD! MAX PEED ON THE COUCH! HE PEED ON THE COUCH!”

“WHAT? (deep breath) Oh my god. Okay. Is it bad?”

“It’s really bad. Right on the side coming in from the family room. It’s bad.”

“Okay. Don’t do anything. I’ll call an upholstery cleaner and I’ll be home in ten minutes.”

Ten minutes later, my dad walked in and looked at the stain.

“Oh, shit”, he said.

“I know”, I said.

And then we laughed our asses off. I think we were both so nervous about what my mom was going to do, we couldn’t help but laugh.

“You can’t ever, ever tell your mom about this. If she sees the stain, we lie. We have no idea what happened. It’s probably just an irregularity in the silk that we never noticed, okay?”

“Okay!”

Just then the doorbell rang and the cleaner came in. He spent about an hour doing his best and when he left it was still pretty bad.

And there we were, standing next to the stain, petting Max and praying for all of our souls.

My mom noticed the stain within a month. My dad and I acted like we had always seen it, and that the couch just came that way. My mom thought something had happened, but we convinced her it was fine.

It was about 12 years later that we finally admitted what happened. Max had already passed away, so he was free. My mom couldn’t help but see the humor, because she has a great sense of it. But I know she was a little pissed. I was happy to have had that secret with my dad. Another example of how he made every crappy situation a whole lot better.

Just writing that made me laugh my ass off. God, I’m lucky to have had him as a dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.

14 Jun 2011

Patience

6 Comments Toddler

Patience is something I do not have a lot of. I am not patient-rich. I never have been. As a matter of fact, you could probably call me “impatient” and I wouldn’t correct you.  It’s one of my many flaws.

God blessed me with a child who, up until this point has required very little of this patience. He’s good. He’s super good. He listens, he sits quietly in restaurants, he’s polite, he’s smart… You get it. You’ve read about it here. I have a really good kid. And he just came out of my womb that way. (I mean clearly there’s some stellar parenting going on, but for the most part he was born that way.) He has an incredible temperament. We’re very lucky.

But now he is starting to display some (completely appropriate) toddler-like behavior.

When I ask him if he wants cereal or french toast for breakfast, he stares straight ahead and mumbles something about Spongebob.

When I tell him it’s time to get ready for school, he has a mini fit and throws himself (ever-so-gently) to the ground.

When I’m getting him dressed, he pulls away to make muscles. “Look at how big I am!”

When we get to school, he needs several minutes to finish the masterpiece he’s drawing.

“Garrett? Garrett?”

“I need to finish this.”

“Buddy, we have to go.”

“Look at my muscles.”

“They’re very impressive. Can you show me more when you get home?”

“I don’t wanna go!”

“Buddy…”

All of this is typical, normal stuff. I know that. And it’s not even bad. Most of it is very cute, especially when I’m not in a rush to get somewhere.

But the thing is, I forgot to save up all of the patience I wasn’t spending over the last 3-and-three-quarter years, so I have none in the bank. And because I have none, I suck at being patient. I think I’ve been huffing and sighing a lot. And I don’t want G to have a huffer or a sigher for a mom.

So my newest goal is to try to be a bit more patient. I mean, he’s earned some vacation time from being perfect. So now I have to start picking up the slack. I just have to find out what works for me. It might be slow, deep breaths (but I’ll be careful not to make it sound like a sigh). It might be pirouettes in the middle of the living room. It might be a splash of cold water on my face. Or it might be making my husband get up to get him ready for school.

I’ll let you know as soon as I figure it out. Just be patient with me. Thanks.

11 Jun 2011

Flawless Saturday Question

15 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

Today’s question is not a question. NAY, ’tis a challenge!

I want you to do something positive this weekend, TODAY or TOMORROW that is completely out of character for you.

For example, if you are usually shy and demure, I want you to say “hello” to three strangers.

If you haven’t cooked or baked in years, make yourself some chocolate chip cookies or a fabulous dinner.

If you never call your brother… Do it.

See where I’m going? Find something different to do this weekend. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or life-altering. It just has to get you out of your comfort zone, if only for a minute.

I don’t know what my challenge to myself will be yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

Let me hear how it goes!!!

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UPDATE

Okay, so I took my own challenge and did a couple things that are completely unlike me. First, I used to be a whole lot more spontaneous, but since having G it’s rare that I do anything without planning. And planning. So yesterday we had plans with friends for dinner and I tried to think of something that we never do.

Ten years ago, Russ and I ate with my parents at a great restaurant on Olvera St. in down town L.A. We’ve always wanted to go back, but we haven’t. So I suggested we get on the bus to the train to Olvera St. and go! He was immediately into it and so were our friends.

There’s a couple layers here for me because we really don’t ever use L.A.’s public transportation (sadly). As a matter of fact, I think this was my third time ever. And we’ve never taken it this far. We were so impressed by how many people were using it! And we loved that we weren’t wasting gas.We also rarely get out of the areas we’re familiar with, and we’re pretty much never spontaneous like that. PLUS, I’m a bit claustrophobic so standing on the crowded bus was not something I’d usually choose to do. But I think I could get used to it.

We all had a blast on the train. G was a little freaked out by the sounds at first but we turned it into a game and he was (literally) on board after that. Olvera St. was beautiful. The food at the restaurant was incredible. It was a great, spontaneous, fun, and exciting evening for all.

I might try to do one more out of the box thing today, but I’m not sure. Last night was great for my psyche. I’m happy G got the experience, and I think we’ll be doing a lot more of it in the future.

10 Jun 2011

No Grow Up

11 Comments Toddler

Was just having a conversation with G about getting older.

“Mom, I don’t want to get any older. I just want to stay myself.”

“But Garrett, you have to get older. And you’re still gonna stay yourself.”

“But I don’t want to get older.”

“But honey, remember your third birthday party? The dinosaur party?”

“Yes.”

“Well that was because you turned three. And soon you’ll be four. Then five, then six…”

“Then seven?”

“Yes!”

“But I’ll still just be me?”

“Yes! And think of all the stuff you’ll be able to do. When you were one, you couldn’t even walk or talk yet and now look at all the neat things you can do.”

“Will you make me and my friends chocolate chip cookies?”

“I promise.”

“Okay. I can get older.”

I’m going to be 40 in November. Can someone please bake me some chocolate chip cookies? Apparently that makes it less daunting. And, yes. I’d like to please just stay me. Thank you, Garrett. You make everything clearer.

08 Jun 2011

No Regrets

2 Comments Personal Crap

I was perusing one of my favorite blogs, Smacksy and came across a post which led me to this article about people’s top 5 regrets from their death beds.  Russ actually mentioned it to me the day of my dad’s unveiling and lovingly remembered the one and ONLY regret my dad imparted to him on my father’s last trip home from the hospital, ten days before he died:

“My one regret is that I’m not going to get to see the next season of Breaking Bad.”

You can deduce one of two things from that statement. Either my father was incredibly selfish and didn’t care about anything or anyone in his life and could only think of a television show in his last days. OR my father lived every second of his life to the fullest, embracing those he loved with compassion, understanding and deep love and spending his time with those he loved the most, only working enough to live comfortably and enjoying all the fruits of life.

I can assure you it is the latter.

So try to start today to live your life the way it is meant to be lived. Realize that you can’t do it every second. We all have back slides, we all make mistakes, we all get impatient and angry, we all wish for better. But take a tip from my dad and love the people in your life with all your strength. Spend your time being as happy as you can. Yes, we have to work and there is a daily trudge through life we all must endure, but in those moments between… Live.

Russ and I have the Breaking Bad dvd’s and we have to start watching. I mean, according to my dad, it’s a damn good show.

06 Jun 2011

11 months

10 Comments Family, Personal Crap

Last year on July 14th my father passed away.

Yesterday my family and my parents’ closest friends met at the gravesite for a Jewish tradition known as “unveiling”. It traditionally takes place any time after 3 months from the date of the death, but usually around 11 months, never longer than a year.

The tradition involves unveiling the grave marker, saying some prayers, and letting anyone speak who has something to share about the deceased.

It was a very difficult morning.

I hadn’t been to the cemetery since the funeral in July.  I pass it a lot on the way to friends’ houses or work. Whenever I do I think, “Hi Dad”. Then I think, “Why did I just say that? That’s not where my dad really is. That’s just where his body is.” Then I think of him the day he died. Then I think of the funeral. Then I get angry for thinking of him like that and I remember something great about him like his smile or his laugh or his unwavering love and support. Then I cry. It always, always happens that way.

So yesterday was my first visit back there. Russ and I dropped G off at a friend’s house because we didn’t feel he needed to see us cry like that. We’ll bring him there when he’s old enough to grasp it. As we stepped out of the car we were both overcome by how surreal it is that he’s gone, that it’s been close to a year, that life continues.

My brother ran the ceremony that had been lovingly researched and printed up by my sister-in-law. We sang and prayed and then we spoke of my father. My brother, myself, my mom, my cousin and two of my dad’s best friends made short speeches.

I basically said that, even though I truly ache every day to see my dad again… Even though I am sad and I miss him so much… It is a testament to him that this last year has still been happy and wonderful. My dad was so positive and full of joy and he would be devastated if we didn’t honor him by following in his footsteps. So we have.

My dad’s best friend said that my father was the bravest man he ever met. He was brave in how he faced his illness, how he faced his death, and in how he loved his family and friends. I will remember those words always.

The ceremony was about thirty minutes and it was a perfect, fitting tribute to him.  It’s another tradition that someone smart once of thought of, because it was at the same time sad and joyous, celebratory and cathartic.

An unveiling is supposed to mark the end of mourning and the beginning of “getting back to living.” I am not ready to stop mourning, but I got back to living a long time ago. And that is because of my beautiful dad.

I love you, Daddy. For always.

04 Jun 2011

Flawless Saturday Question

17 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

What do you do to help the environment? What do you want to start doing to help?

Garrett and I just spent a few hours at a local “green” fair where we sampled some yummy organic food, bought some reusable lunch baggies and took a nature hike. There were tons of booths with great info on conserving and recycling, etc. It got me thinking about what else we can do in our house to be good to the Earth. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Recycle

Use less water

Turn off lights

Buy organic meats and produce

Buy a lot of organic dry goods

Use reusable bags at the grocery store

Put reusable containers in G’s lunches

I’m very proud of what we do in our home, but I’d like to do more. I want to hook up power strips to our computers and TV’s so we can turn all of those off at night. I’d like to start unplugging the toaster and toaster oven. I should take shorter showers (good luck) and get regular maintenance for our air conditioning. I should also waste less food, and make sure to only buy what we need and eat what we buy!

So, what do you do now and what would you like to improve to help save energy and do good for our world?

03 Jun 2011

Perspective

5 Comments Personal Crap

About an hour ago I was picking G-Man up from school. Many moms and kids were in the courtyard, playing, talking and laughing. We were discussing what plans we had for the weekend and whether or not our kids finished their lunches today.

Out on the street we heard what sounded like a pretty bad car crash. We went on about our business, getting backpacks from cubbies and signing out for the day. On my way home I passed the accident and saw ambulances and banged-up cars.

The people in those cars were on their way home, or to the grocery store, or to a friend’s house. They were going about their business, having whatever kind of day they were having. And neither of them had no idea that their entire day, possibly their life, was about to change. At the very least one of them was taken to the hospital, and the other will be dealing with paperwork for months. At the very worst… I don’t even want to think about it.

So here’s my cliche’ thought for the day:

Everything can change in an instance. One moment you could be complaining about all of your errands, and the next you could be wishing you were able to do them at all. At least once a day all of us who are healthy and happy should thank our luckies that we are. I was already feeling grateful today. I woke up thanking God for all the good stuff in my life. I pray those people are okay, and I will be even more grateful for what I have today.

Think of what you have today. And be grateful.

01 Jun 2011

Amusement

13 Comments Family, Toddler

Yesterday was our first family trip to an amusement park. Yes, I know. G-man will be four in September and he should have been to Disneyland three times already. But we don’t necessarily feel that way. We are more of the mindset that spending an exorbitant amount of money to take G somewhere before he’s old enough to appreciate it is just plain silly. So yesterday was our first foray into the amusement medium. We chose Knott’s Berry Farm and we went with our very good friends and their fantastic kids.

We bought the tickets on-line a few months ago and they just happened to expire today. Translation: We had to use them by yesterday! It was $99.00 for the three of us and it was well worth it. It was a great day to go. No ride was more than a 5 minute wait and it was a perfect 75 degrees.

I stressed the night before, looking up sites where I could get info on taking a toddler to an amusement park. I like to over-prepare. So in the morning, I packed up G’s Ironman backpack with a full change of clothes (warmer than what he had on), including socks and underwear, a long-sleeved shirt and sweater for me and a jacket for Russ. Oh, and a first aid kit. And three kinds of sunblock. And a hat for G. And tons of hand wipes. And clorox wipes in case anything needed a wipe-down. And tissues. I used about 5% of what I brought. But I COULD HAVE needed all of that stuff. You never know. G did don his sweatshirt for about an hour of the day, much to our dismay. It was quite warm and the train we were on made it even warmer. But he insisted on his sweatshirt on, hood up, and sunglasses. It was very unibomber-ish. Odd, no?

Camp Snoopy has every toddler ride you can think of: planes, race cars, hot air balloons and trains. It took G a little while to warm up. His friends have already been to these types of places and they were ready to go. G chose to watch them on the first couple rides. Then we decided to just go for it and get on the log ride. I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure how he would react but, as we tend to do as parents, I pretended I was nothing but excited about getting in one of the logs.

Our little guy was NOT happy in the pitch-black tunnel part of the ride, but he loved the rest of it and was clearly full of adrenaline when we got to the bottom of the water slide. And just like that, he was no longer an amusement park newbie. After that came the race cars, the giant merry-go-round, the pricey lunch, lots of walking around, snacks, Icees, lollipops, the hot-air balloon ride, the coal mine ride (this did not go over well. It was mostly pitch black with a loud announcer you couldn’t understand and creepy mannequin-like coal miners. not good. not good at all.), a train around the park that bandits jump on to (G liked this only after one of the bandits gave him several high-fives.), a stagecoach ride, more race cars and hot air balloons, and finally, after eight hours in the park… A fried chicken dinner.

Right around 1:30, smack-dab in the middle of Garrett’s normal nap time, he was ready to pack it in and come home. He could’ve curled into a ball in the middle of the park and gone to sleep. But we knew we had to rally on, and we encouraged him to do so. For the next half hour he kept asking if we could go home but with a little sugar and a lot more rides, he got his second, third, and fourth winds.

G fell asleep about twenty minutes from home, but still insisted on a shower before going to bed. The first thing he said to me this morning, when he woke up at 6:15 even though he partied for 12 hours yesterday and had no nap, was, “I had a really fun time at Knott’s Berry Farm, Mom.” I think that might have been one of the best parts of the whole thing. And we had a damn good time, too.

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