Friday, April 25, 2014

A Tale of a Birthday Lunch

Today is my eldest daughters birthday, I wanted to something a little special for her so I made her a cupcake sandwich.
The sandwich has Nutella in it and the rest is very straight forward with apples and goldfish crackers. Simple, right?

At lunch I also took cookies and 8oz bottles of water to her class. Birthday girls' choice. 
It was a busy day but well worth it to see her smile. 
Happy 7th Birthday To my first born! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Tale of Being Thankful

I got a text today from my husband that simply said "Mike passed away yesterday" while I was leaving my neighborhood Starbucks. I sat in the car and cried like a baby, or as I am sure the customers leaving Starbucks thought, I cried like a crazy lady. Well, my apologies to the fine people who happened to pass me at that time but sometimes these things really can not be helped. 

Here are some things you should know about my friend. He was a really good guy. A devoted husband, father and musician.  He had an amazing memory for the names of designers, strength beyond his size, and an uncanny (some might say slightly freaky) ability to look at a woman and not just guess, but KNOW their dress size. I don't know how the hell he did that but it was truly amazing. Mike also had the ability to make people feel welcome and I know there was a large group of the local community who loved going into his shop to spend time just talking to him. That's the kind of guy he was. 

Here are some things, beyond what I wrote above, that I admired about Mike. 
The way he looked at his wife. He was one of those guys who you knew by every thing he did, that he really loved his her. 
The way he openly adored his son. 
The way he talked to my kids like real people. 
His energy and enthusiasm. 
His excitement for, and knowledge of good design. 
His ability and willingness to listen to people. 

OK. So to be honest I know he was not perfect. None of us are. 

The last time I saw Mike was a couple of months ago when we got together for breakfast. This was something we had come to do over the years, we would go to their house, they would come to ours or we would meet at a local restaurant or a museum. This last time was just after he had finished up some treatment or another and before he went in for surgery on his neck. He was in pain and had been sick for a while. If it were me I would have been just grumpy and totally miserable to be around. Not Mike. He was his normal affable self. Ill never forget some of the things Mike has said to me over the years. 

No one lives forever. It may be a disappointment to some but I simply can't believe there is a magical after life we go to after this. I believe that it's what we do in this life that is so very important. It's who we love, who we help or learn from, what we do that counts. Perhaps this is too simplistic but I believe that as long as I remember those I have cared about who pass that they live through me. As long as I remember the lessons I have learned from them and share those lessons, they live through me. 

I am a better person for having known Mike. Not because of his death, but because of his life. Honestly I don't have much more of a tribute to pay to anyone. I am thankful that I knew him. 

My hope for all of us is that no matter how much time each of us has on this earth that we are able to love whole heartily, listen when children speak to us, find the time for our family and friends, and face each day no matter what it brings with an energy and enthusiasm like Mike would. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tale of a Traveling Octogenarian

I realize as I sit here and type this that my parents are prepping me for when my children are older and begin to leave the nest. Anyway that is what I am telling myself. 
I also say things like "This is good practice." 
or "It's all part of the cycle." and "You can't hold on too tight." The last thing I want to be is one of those helicopter children. 

Well, easier said than done. Back in late January my dad announced that he was going back to the mid-west to see his sister and aunt and to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade in his boyhood town. So I'll tell you the truth, I was nervous just thinking about it. Having just visited this same state myself less than a year ago I know that there is nearly no way to get a direct flight, that the weather is unfriendly at best, and frankly that it's not the place he remembers. I find facing TSA daunting and I fly fairly regularly! 

I can only imagine what you are thinking right now as you read this- He is an adult. The man is in his 80's! He's educated! He worked in aerospace and traveled all the time! Heck, he took me on my first trips to Europe!
Here is my dad as a fresh faced young man
He was a police officer and faced bad guys! He raised two daughters. Even more impressive he was on the S.W.A.T. Team! That man traveled across the country on route 66 to get to California. And to top it all off he survived the depression! What is my problem?! It's not as if he has not been around the block a few times and I know it. 

Over a few weeks we worked details out.
Flights (booked)
Rental Car (booked)
Airport shuttle (booked)
Place to stay (organized by my aunt, thank you!)
Packing instructions, reviewed, explained, and discussed several times. 
We talked about it all. What shoes to wear to get through TSA quickly, the weather and the appropriate clothing to pack. EVERYTHING. If I had been sending my 6yo off to visit family in the mid-west I could have just done it for her and it would have been less worrisome in several ways. 

Time to admit something I guess. I am constantly worried for my parents. I think unfortunately for me I often project negative outcomes to situations which they seem to pass through with little to no damage. I know this, but that does not calm my fears. Who am I to discourage him? He and my mom had allowed me to study abroad at 21 (I know that technically I didn't NEED their permission but that's beside the point) and he has been supportive of my career and the traveling I do. When the time came I knew I had to let him follow his heart and that everyone involved would regret it if he didn't go see these important people in his life. I told myself "Flying to see Aunt B isn't hurting anyone." I also reminded myself that "there would be help at the airport if he needed it and he would be with friends and family once he arrived at his destination." 

D-day came and went. I saw a few photos that my cousin and aunt posted on social media but that was about it. He was scheduled to be gone 12 days. On day 11 I phoned him to let him know I would be at the airport to pick him up as planned. He sounded happy and ready to come home. What more could I ask for?

The next night at 9:30 I headed out to our local international airport to pick up my Dad. 80+ years old and still traveling here and there. Maybe with a bit more support, but getting it done just the same.
Just returned from his trip to see family in the mid-west.
It warms the heart to see people you love do what makes them happy. Don't you think? 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Tale of an Ocean Themed Spring Break

This week my kids have gone back to school after spring break. After a week, it's a shock not only for them but for me too. Homework, alarm clocks, backpacks and lunches. OH MY!

Not that we did a lot, vacations are more stay-cations in our house. My husband and I both had to work so the kids were home with their babysitter all week. But never mind that. L, my 6.75 yo started a unit on the Ocean in her 1st grade class and so the one thing we did over this break was visit an aquarium and then have a short, and chilly afternoon at the beach.
The 4yo and the 6.75yo ham it up at the Cabrillo Aquarium in San Pedro, Ca.
It was a fun day but the altered motive was to get the girls excited about ocean life and this precious resource. L has a diorama to do before the end of the month and frankly I was hoping she would get inspired. 

To keep things ocean-ish I have also been trying to send her with ocean themed lunches (SHOCKER!) So here we go, here was Monday's lunch. 
PB & J Angel Fish and Manatee along with apple slices, string cheese and bear cookies (so frustrated that we didn't have goldfish crackers)

Close-up of AF and Manatee
IDK if this will help her get going on her diorama but at the end of the day we had a nice day and put our toes in the sand. Thanks Cabrillo Aquarium