One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Perfect Timing

We rolled into Portland at the perfect time. Perfect for stand-still traffic anyway. Christmas traveling is hectic at any time of day, but rush hour in the big city makes it even worse. Our Garmin map told us Grandma's house was fifteen minutes away, but the road signs warned it would take forty-seven minutes just to get to our next turn. Geddy was grumpy; I wanted to stand up and stretch. The rock station on the radio kept turning out disappointments for Luke and he sighed, "What we need right now is a Rush song." Three seconds later his wish came true. As he cranked it up and Geddy Lee started singing, our Geddy started bobbing his head. "Perfect timing!" Luke exclaimed, happier than he had been in miles. Thinking over our long day, he realized that we might have had perfect timing more than once.

Luke's Christmas shopping procrastination had caused us to be sitting in the car that morning, waiting for a store to open, when we should have already been out of Boise. When ten o'clock rolled around and the store still wasn't open, we were feeling out of luck. One last check at the door and Luke came back with a story. The employee had gotten locked out of the building and it would be half an hour before someone got there with a key. We went on to a different store, bought the present, and got on the road. A few hours later, while stopped in traffic on the freeway waiting for an accident up ahead to be cleared, we felt thankful we hadn't been involved. Leaving late might have been the perfect time after all.

Days later in our vacation adventure we probably did come close to being a traffic accident, or at least getting stuck in the snow. As the wind blew the powder in vicious waves across the road I thought we were definitely in the right place at the wrong time. We made it to the country road, ready to go visit Luke's father at his ranch. It didn't take long before we found ourselves backing up to get out of the drifts that quickly engulfed the previously plowed path. We paused, weighing our options. Should we continue? Maybe we would just make it in time before the road disappeared. But maybe we would get stuck, too far from the ranch to walk in that weather and too far from town and without cell service to get help. The deciding factor was when a much larger vehicle had to back down the road as well. With sighs we headed back to town. The drifts and whiteouts continued but we made it safely. It all worked out except we didn't get to visit family. (The good news is we heard today that roads got plowed and he got his groceries!)

The new year bursts to life in a matter of hours, ready to flip the calendar and give us no excuses for the perfect time to do everything better. Regardless of the year change, every moment we get choices. We can choose what we eat, what we buy, what we do with our time. But sometimes no matter what we choose life is just plain out of our control. Talk of God's timing often frustrates me because, what the heck, why can't he operate on my timeline? I don't see his perfect timing when I'm in the storm. I don't always give him credit for his perfect timing when all goes well.

I suppose what I want to say for this coming year is that it's the perfect time to be grateful and to focus on patience and faith. I don't have a magic wand to make things work out or a secret knowledge of what God might do each step of the way, but I have hope that loves shines bright on the horizon.

We had perfect timing to view a gorgeous sunset around Mount Hood.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Just Breathe, and Color Outside the Lines

Impatience and frustration rear their proverbial ugly heads in my psyche a little too often these days. Motherhood seems to have breathed life into these nasty twins. With other people's children I can handle a lot of trying situations without bother. When I taught little ones, I found them amusing, gifted, and pleasantly rebellious when they would, say, tell silly jokes instead of work math problems or color outside the lines. I didn't mind if they giggled loudly in the hallways. Even more serious offenses, like not getting their homework done, or lying to save face, didn't ruffle me. I was there to love them, teach them what I could, and model kindness and patience. (Notice I said little ones. My teenage students pushed my buttons!).

So I figured I could keep it up when I had a child of my own.

Well, now, you shake your head and smile.

What is the truth? I tell my son to "Hurry" so often that he has made a game out of making sure I don't quit saying it! "Mommy, say, 'Hurry' " he demands, as he moves like a snail when we should be out the door and in the car already. I get frustrated when he won't stop running around the kitchen long enough for me to wipe the food off of his hands and face. I growl when he splashes around in the sink instead of opening his mouth for me to brush his teeth. I even get a bit mad when he lies and says, "NO POOP!" and there is really quite a lot of it.


It certainly puts me to the test, shows my true colors, brings out the worst in me—any more hackneyed phrases?

But—and probably my husband should get all the credit—somehow, this tiny human I love like crazy who brings out my crazy, oozes a whole lot of empathy and love for his mommy.

Every other day he tells me, "Don't worry, Mommy." Every other day, and sometimes a couple of times a day, he leaps forward and hugs me tight after a particularly bad bout of mommy frustration. Every day he says, "It's OK, I don't mind about it," when I say phrases such as, "Don't get your shoes wet!" and "You'll be cold without your jacket!" and "You'll be hungry later if you don't eat something now."

I mean, this boy, he's up on reading my body language too. He knows when Mommy is stewing.

Recently we were supposed to all leave the house early for a trip. I wasn't quite ready on time, but when I finally was, Luke was upstairs singing and playing guitar. I knew we had to get on the road, especially because he had told me what time we should leave. Luke didn't get frustrated with me, when I missed the time, but boy was I at peak impatient-boiling-into-frustration when he wasn't ready. I didn't say a word, however, trying to be calm and kind, but Geddy sensed it. He looked up at me and said, "Don't worry, Mommy, I'll go get Daddy." He ran upstairs and told Luke we were all ready to go and then—get your Kleenex box—he came back downstairs and hugged me and said it would be OK.

Well. May I remember this daily and keep my priorities straight. It really is all going to be OK. Just breathe. And love. And let go of the little things, because really, wet shoes, skipped dinners, slowpoke little boys, are so not things to lose my cool over. It's all "coloring outside the lines," and we need more of that.

Creative Commons: flickr Sami Ben Gharbia

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dirt's Best Friend

Sometimes, in spite of living in a sprawling old neighborhood with a big park in our backyard, we feel the itching need to escape our little big city and go touch the land. We especially want our son to experience the wide open wild that we knew as children. And we want him to laugh and play and get into mischief with cousins. Fortunately, this time of year dirt and cousins are not too hard to find.

This weekend in the wilds of Eastern Oregon, we watched in amusement as the kids tromped through the corn maze, chased each other around straw bales, and got to pile on for rides on the four-wheeler with their Nana/Great Aunt. But even with so many activities to choose from, the kids also loved just playing in the dirt.

They crawled in the dirt.

They rolled in the dirt.

They made piles of dirt.

They kicked and scuffed their shoes to make trails in the dirt.

They picked up handfuls of dirt and let it sift through their fingers and blow in the wind.

They threw dirt on each other and on their own heads.

They buried their legs in the dirt.

I even saw one tiny cousin cheerfully eating the dirt!

We parents, meanwhile, tried not to think of the mess that would be in the car, the dirt ring that would circle the tub, and the snotty dirt that would be coming out of noses for days. We remembered when dirt was our friend too.

The dirt-clod wars we had.

The dried mud pies we sampled.

The dirt and brush forts we built.

The dirt roads we made with our toy cars.

Every dirt memory surfaced with each cloud of dust the kids displaced. Dirt used to constantly live under our fingernails.

Our country-escape-turned-dirt-reunion ended long after bedtime. As we said Good bye to all the cousins and family and drove off into the dark and the sage brush, our son said: "We're going to get lost! There are no lights!" My husband explained: "This is what's called the country. This is where I lived when I was little like you. I know my way around."

And then I think I heard the dirt whisper, "Take care, old friend, and come again soon."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rabbit Hole

Sometimes I find myself thinking so much that it leads me on a journey to the bookshelf, and I want to suddenly reread all my favorite books or read others again that I hadn't put much thought into before. One idea reminds me of that one part of that one story, and then I wonder if I still have that other book that I held onto for years but probably finally donated to the library. With excitement I relish the idea of revisiting the poignancy of the pages.

This was my Monday, pulling out Franny and Zooey, digging through the boxes in the garage looking for a college text about the New Testament letters, and thinking that my husband had a good idea in rereading Tuesdays with Morrie. Then I found a children's book in French that I forgot I owned, which got me to thinking about pulling out all my French texts to study through, and then I wondered if I read my French Bible would I gain any insight I couldn't get in English.

The pile of books on my desk was growing. I immediately saw the danger of getting overwhelmed by the stack and leaving it there to go and do something far less intellectual than start reading. But where to start? I wanted all the information and brilliant revelations in my head RIGHT AWAY. It took some nudging from my husband, but that evening I chose to begin with Salinger instead of Netflix. Then on Tuesday I spent an hour in the sand pit of the park reading Zooey (having gotten through Franny just barely, the night before, as I tried to stay awake), and found myself transported on my journey back in time to who I was when I first read it. (I didn't stay back there too long because my son kept throwing sand my direction!)

What a strange feeling, though, to read a text and be transported in time to my past self. I can't exactly explain it except to say that I felt at one time all important and intellectual and completely confused and not at all wise. The "wisdom" of my younger self fell dead at the feet of the present me who realizes she knows nothing at all. I was at the same time deliciously nostalgic and sad that I hadn't gotten anywhere.

I suppose these conflicting feelings have a lot to do with what I was reading and why I picked it up to read again. I wanted an answer, that I thought I had found a long time ago, and I wanted to remember it and be all the better for it. Maybe I will still get there—have to finish the book first—but perhaps what I am to learn from this experience, if anything, is that what I needed to know back then is not necessarily what I need to know today. And perhaps feeling less wise is actually being more wise.

In the long run, then, this journey should lead to more self-discovery. Then in ten years I can go back and read these books again and maybe remember where I was at the second (or third or fourth) reading and find that I have learned after all. It makes me wonder what it is like for the authors. They have—presumably—read their books so many times in the rewriting and editing processes that they may be too sick of the stories to read them ever again. But what if they do? Ten or twenty years down the road do they sneakily pick up a copy of one of their books in the library and start reading it? Do they find themselves taken back to that first time the idea popped into their heads for the story? Do they smile with nostalgia and cringe? Do they learn something new and wonder how they could have missed it the first time? Do they wonder how they ever thought they knew anything?

I don't know. But for now I think I'll keep going down this rabbit hole; it's too much fun to stop. I want to know how I will feel when I pick up the next book. What will I think or reconsider? I'm not disenchanted any more.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Ocean Cure

Standing on the beach, staring at the vastness of ocean, I felt calm seep into every pore. Every inch of me breathed peace. The madness, murder, and mayhem of the world did not exist. Neither did laundry, bills, politics, and other grown-up burdens. I couldn't even focus on anxiety. My husband felt it too. He couldn't believe how the tension and stress of life just disappeared.

But how strange. The ocean could swell and pound the sand and make us disappear, if it wanted to. We looked out at the tips of the hidden forest of Neskowin, visible only when the tide was out. Long ago the trees had stood proudly on land before the water rose and consumed them. The ocean is not safe. But, oh, it is good for the soul.

I hardly need to explain; for, anyone who has ever been to the coast must feel the same. Yes, one can surf or fish or go on a cruise, but how many people want ocean-front property just so they can gaze upon the water? Why are we so drawn to it? What power does it have over us?

Why am I not equally drawn to God? Is it because I cannot see him? He's vast; he's everywhere. He's powerful, mighty, and not exactly safe. But he is good. And he is love. He could wipe me out, like erasing a mistake, but he doesn't. When I do take the time to sit with him, I start to feel the calm and the joy and the peace that he desires for me.

The news and the traffic and the Internet get me so muddied up that I stop seeing that God is everywhere. I just want to run back to the ocean where I can forget all that other stuff exists. My sense of sight really does take control. Maybe that's why God said to meet him in private, in a closet, in the quiet. When I've gone to a crowded beach by a big city with lots of shops and noise it is true that I sometimes get distracted. I forget that the ocean is trying to offer me peace, and I busy myself with other pursuits. Then I go home from vacation feeling exhausted and not refreshed.

Maybe I should put a bottle of sand on my desk as a reminder to close my eyes and see the ocean. To meet God on the waves. He will calm the storm.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Little Helper, Big Lessons

"I'm a good helper. Can I help you, please? Please?"

Words from Geddy, more often lately as he matures into his three-year-old self, come sweetly. He, through personal motivation and probably a little Daniel Tiger inspiration, wants to help make dinner, help select grocery items and bag them at the conveyor belt, help dig weeds, and help when Daddy doesn't feel well. I'm learning to let him as much as I can. It's true; he is a good helper and can do so much even though he's still so small and not always very coordinated. (But hey, I've broken numerous dishes in the kitchen over a few short years so I'm not so very coordinated either!). He lights up to discover what he is capable of and how he can bring smiles to his parents.

Today he wanted to help make someone else feel better. I almost didn't include him, but he asked so earnestly and I realized what a great moment for him to use his helpful spirit outside of the family. I've been wondering lately how to model compassion and a giving spirit in ways that he will see without me having to schedule a service opportunity the same way I might sign him up for an art class. In other words, I want to fill his day with meaning without putting something on a list to check off.

This is what I need for me too. I want to act on the nudges from God to be that "good helper" without thinking I need to go out looking for a specific opportunity to do a good deed. The moments are all around for kindness. I need to just let them happen.

I also want my son to learn that joy in seeing someone helped is all the reward we need. I cringe when I recall high school honor society and how we got points for "helping" our community. It felt a little wrong to me at the time, but still I submitted my slips of paper detailing what I had done so I could get those points, earn that letter, wear that collar at graduation. What the hell was that all for? Most of what I did I was going to do anyway. I didn't do it for honor society, but I certainly used it after the fact for my own interests. And who cares which people were in honor society in high school and which weren't? It didn't make any difference for when I applied to college. It didn't help me get a job somewhere. And it shouldn't have anyway. Why should we get real or pretend awards for doing what is right?

I try to let it go, not be bitter about old stuff, not feel guilty for how I acted in high school but learn from it, especially as a parent. I really shy away from rewards of any kind. I'm hesitant to potty train my son by using treats. Yes, I know it works for many, and I really am not mentioning this to judge any one who does this. I have my own personal history I'm battling with. I have no perfect answers on how to raise a child or teach him to poop in the potty and not in his diaper. I just want my motivations to be pure and to pass that spirit on to my son.

He's on the right track, I think, but then he's not perfect. He whines when he doesn't get his own way. He expects, and quite often does get, praise. That's not a lot different sometimes than something tangible. But he and I are a work in progress. And each day is a new day. And he really is a good little helper! He helps me practice patience, learn to let my lists go unchecked for a little while, laugh, and love life even in the hard moments.

("Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" is a children's show on PBS, modeled after the show "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood", which I watched more than religiously as a child.)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Board has Changed My Life

(Guest post from my husband, Luke Hindman. He shares where his hobbies and interests have led him over the past five months and what it means for the coming year in his personal and professional adventures. Check out Adafruit and follow this link to see what the circuit playground board is and how you can get one:

It all started last November as I watched Ladyada walking through the design process of a new board we weren’t supposed to ask any questions about. I tuned in for every session to learn more about the design process. Then there was the prototype build and sessions on how to solder surface mount components by hand. I have loved electronics and programming since a very young age, so I thought this board was a brilliant idea for teaching kids.  

Later on, my wife and I invited a few friends over for New Year’s. My friend Shane, who is faculty at Boise State University, told me about working with a local middle school to start a programming club. Once I learned what he wanted to do, I told him about the circuit playground board and sent him links to the videos. I also showed him several of the wearable projects I had made for a steampunk gala my wife and I attended in 2013.

Shane and I exchanged many excited email messages, and he persuaded me to help him create an engineering club at the middle school. I’d never taught before, but it sounded fun. Instead of just programming in a browser, we decided to teach programming using wearable electronics. After many requests for a possible release date for the circuit playground board from Adafruit Customer Support (great people, but they unfortunately “didn’t know” anything about a circuit playground board), I designed a kit using NeoPixels, Flora and a few small sensors.

The class was 6th, 7th and 8th graders and they were blown away by what they could do. We had them customizing the sample code and playing with color gradients by the end of four weeks. They eventually built their own wearable projects and we taught them how to solder everything together. It was such an incredible experience.

While all this was going on, Shane was trying to persuade me to apply for a faculty position in the Computer Science Department at Boise State University. I told him there was no way. I am an engineer, not a teacher. As the months went by, February became April and I realized that I could in fact see myself as a teacher. After an application, interviews, presentations and an awkward conversation with my employer of seven years I am going to be teaching CompSci Fall 2016!

It is now the end of April and the circuit playground board went on sale this afternoon. I felt it was time to step back and reflect on the past five months. The November 2015 version of myself would not have believed the path that those late nights watching deskofladyada would lead to. All of that education and growth and the board wasn’t even released yet. I can’t wait to see what happens when it arrives next week!  :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Wild Indoors

One of our greatest joys as parents is witnessing our son's amazing imaginative play. He morphs from puppy to lion to bird over the course of five minutes and a bowl of Cheerios. Or he transforms carrots, rocks, and washcloths into precious babies that he tucks into the couch where they are "shhhh, sleeping!" and we must turn down the audio on our voices.

Naturally he can't go about having all the fun and drags us into his pretend world with a simple, but persistent, "Pretty, pretty please." Soon we are crawling on the floor or hiding in the closet or opening the back door to boot monsters to the curb.

A recent adventure involved one of Geddy's favorite activities: going to the river to throw rocks in. He had been tossing and splashing and "getting all wet" for a little while when he tugged at Luke, engrossed in his laptop screen, and asked him to come to the river. Luke rose from the dining room table and walked three steps to the living room where he had to catch himself before slipping down the bank and falling into the swift flowing water. Geddy started pointing out the "big ones," so Luke squatted a bit and lifted a large rock to his shoulders and then, shot-put style, heaved it into the river where it made such a splash that even I got wet in the kitchen.

This imagination thing got so intense that as I went upstairs I heard Luke say, in all seriousness, "Geddy, don't throw rocks at me." I turned around and chimed in, "No throwing at people." Luke started laughing. You know you're a little carried away when you start admonishing your child for imaginary rock throwing!

"That very night in Max's room a forest grew" Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Geddy's World

Geddy: "I see the moon!"
Me: Hello moon!
Geddy: "It doesn't have eyes. It doesn't have a mouth to talk."
Me: Oh.
Geddy: "Is it coming to see us? Is it?"
Me: What would you do with the moon?
Geddy: "Play with my toys. It can pick them up."
Me: If the moon had a name, what would it be?
Geddy: "Hmmm, how about Pink? And blue nose and green head."
Me: And it could talk?
Geddy: "Yep."
Me: Where would you go with the moon?
Geddy: "A restaurant with Daddy with the moon."
Me: What would the moon eat?
Geddy: "Cheerios, I think. He will like Cheerios. He will like peas."
Me: Do you like peas?
Geddy: "No I don't. They make me like not yummy. They yucky."
Me: Why are peas yucky?
Geddy: "Cause, um, like a circle! Like peas!"
Geddy was picking up all of his toys in the living room and tossing them into a cardboard box. All the while he had a running dialogue with himself (or maybe it was his toys talking):
"Did you say marshmallow? Yep I did say marshmallow. You got it.  Duper. Did you say duper? Ya I did. Super duper."
Geddy burrowed his toes under the blanket at bedtime.
"Toes not sleeping. They're working in the garage."
Me: Ok, but Geddy needs to sleep.
Geddy: "Not toes. They're working."
Me: Ok, not toes.
Before church: "Mommy, can we go to the river after church?"
Me: Maybe.
He turns to Luke:"Daddy, can we go to the river instead of church?"
Luke: No, we are going to church.
Geddy: "I don't like people."

Monday, April 4, 2016

Dissecting the Rainbow

Ask me what I do and I might say I take care of my family, stay home with my son, and write a little. But I should add to my resume that I also work on the many projects that my husband would like to do but just doesn't have time for.

Oh, like mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, and buying parts at Home Depot?

No, he's all over that stuff. (Especially the Home Depot visits.)

I mean like dissecting rainbows.

See, pillow talk last night revolved around Luke wanting to know if it is possible—and how—to separate the red and the blue from a mixture of purple paint. He wondered if the colors really merged together or if, by using a high-powered microscope, one could distinguish the red and the blue as distinct separate specks, such as digital pixels. He also wondered if it could be done without adding anything to the mixture. I didn't know. I just told him that paint is really sticky. I thought maybe a chemist could do it. We then both pondered the idea of using a centrifuge or something like to sling apart the individual colors.

So far I haven't put in an order on Amazon for any materials, but my research online brought up the word chromatography. Something in the back of my mind tells me that I may have played around with paper chromatography in art classes way back when. Here's a page to explore for doing cool experiments at home: Colorful Chromatography.

When it comes to paint, however, is it all chemically bonded and thus cannot be separated? This may be the case.

I have a feeling if I need someone to help me figure this all out I can employ Geddy, our in-house color expert. He knows his colors and enjoys using chalk, crayons, and Play-Doh. We haven't done much with paint yet, but we could start with his Play-Doh. The problem is, he's more into color amalgamation than separation.

If we can separate this hodgepodge I think we deserve a prize. And a break from all these extra projects.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Three Vignettes of a Mom at Home

The Delivery

The doorbell rang. Out on the front step was a giant box, one I had waited so long to get—two whole days with Amazon Prime. I couldn't wait to open it, but wait I did until Monday morning when Luke was at work and I could be alone with my prize. Geddy was there, of course, to share in the excitement and cheer me on as I removed the packaging and assembled all the parts to—wait for it—my new vacuum cleaner!

OK, I am officially boring. Don't jump to conclusions, though. I still want something less appliancey for my birthday. I still like roses. But this vacuum is a relief to my back, an answer to clean floors, and a reason to dump everything out of the closet and clean from top to bottom. Spring cleaning, here I come!

The Mess, in 79 Words

"I love you," I told my husband, and hung up the phone. Another late night at the office meant dinner for two not three. The salad dressing waited as I answered the beep of the oven timer; the bread was done. After filling Geddy's plate, I turned back to my salad. Ah yes, the dressing. I gave the bottle a vigorous shake to mix up the oils and spices. Except, huh: I forgot I had taken off the lid. 

The Bathroom Break-in

Jokes abound online about moms needing time alone but only getting it when they can escape to the bathroom. Of course along with those jokes comes the punchline that with small children at home, time in the bathroom is rarely a solo routine. My son makes sure that I am not the exception to this scenario. 

The other day we were all downstairs when I said I needed to go use the bathroom. I didn't make any special provisions for Geddy because Luke was there. In other words, I didn't check to make sure the stove was off or force Geddy to be on my side of the locked gate at the top of the stairs (so he wouldn't escape to go to the park while I was occupied). But I should have shut that gate for my protection. 

I settled in for a nice rest when outside of my door there arose such a clatter. Moments later there was Geddy, dragging in one of his chairs from his room. What are you doing? I foolishly asked. "I just watch you," he said, smiling as he plopped down on his chair and started swinging his legs. 

There we were, both seated, for the duration. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Our Son is Rock and Roll

"How did you pick the name Geddy?"

We get this question a lot. The most recent asker was about to cut Geddy's hair. She was fortunate to have some atypical salon chitchat.

I told the tale quickly, focusing on the most straight-forward answer: we stole the name from the lead singer and bassist of Canada's preeminent rock band, Rush.

When the name first struck us as a good idea, my husband had some reservations. Did he really want to name his son after a rock star? But the name was too good to pass up. We bestowed it on our son with no strings attached.

But even though we have no dreams of pushing our son into stardom, he is growing up with a musical library at his eardrums. Since his daddy has quite a talent for guitar and loves an eclectic supply of tunes, Geddy has heard a lot of music—live and canned—in our house. While only a few weeks old he kicked his legs vigorously to Lady Gaga. And every month of his life he's jammed to his daddy's guitar interpretations of Matchbox 20, Gaelic Storm, Garth Brooks, or, of course, Rush.

When Geddy was a baby and I would leave him home with his daddy while I shopped, I would return to a house blaring with music and a happily sound-asleep boy. He spent many months where he couldn't sleep without at least a little music at night. We opted for the quieter Norah Jones when we wanted to sleep too.

Now that our son is older and able to ask for what he wants, we often hear his voice in the backseat of the car asking that we make the music "louder." His favorites now range from the Christian "Lighthouse," from Rend Collective, to the pop rock "Shut Up and Dance With Me," from Walk the Moon. He loves to sing along and belt them out as loud as he can.

I was surprised the other day when I heard my little boy running around the house singing out, "Beat it! Just beat it!" over and over and over. One little viewing of a Michael Jackson video with his daddy and he was hooked on the, well, beat!

The funniest rock moment, however, happens frequently. Our son dearly loves the Pixar movie, "Planes: Fire and Rescue." Whenever he asks to watch it he usually says something like, "Want to watch Fire Rescue, the SOFTER one!" What he wants, as he breaks into a singing chat of "Softer! Softer!" is to get to the part of the movie where AC/DC belts out "Thunder! Thunder!" Why he thinks it's "softer!" is anyone's guess, but he loves to rock his head up and down and run around in crazy excitement.

Our own little rock star after all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"Making Friends With Shadows on My Wall"

"Daddy, I need my hat! I left it in the car!" My son's first words as he woke up to the rat a tat rain on the trailer roof and two sleepy parents on either side of him. Minutes later he was off the bed and going to the door saying, "I go get it. Be right back. I come right back!" No, nope, wait, I mumbled. Even though he had let us sleep in after a full day and a late night up, we were not ready to dash out into the rain so he could play, or get a hat, or see his cousin's sheep. I found a flashlight on the counter and handed it to him, then slumped onto the pillow again.

He started to explore the closet and pull out more pillows that he said I needed. Then he sweetly threatened to turn on the light above our heads. No, no, not yet; I covered up the switch with my hand. "It's not dark anymore!" He answered back. I don't care; I'm not ready to be awake.

Soon I saw the flashlight orb on the ceiling, light swirling around while his fingers danced. I got sucked in despite my sleepy state. What's that? A bird? "Yep, you got it!" He laughed maniacally, "Muah ha ha ha!" We had brought along our mad scientist apparently. From bird to dinosaur the shadow puppets flitted this way and that with an occasional flash of light in my eye. Not in faces, I reminded him.

Why, I wondered, did I have to lose this innocent joy over small things like flashlights and shadows? It stinks, this growing up, where worry washes over every surface. Right now, as I remember the events of our hectic weekend—the fun and the frantic—my boy is playing with a piece of fluff on the floor. He blows it around then calls it his marshmallow. Before that he was making paper airplanes and taking them to the bathroom in the cupboard. It's the simple and the silly that bring delightful sounds from his lips.

Whatever it is that he's got, I need to go find it again. Maybe it waits out in the rain, deep inside a mud puddle that wants to be splashed.

(title credit: Matchbox Twenty and song "Unwell")

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Nearly Crushed Me

Reminisce with me. Rural Idaho, the late 1980s: two young girls sit with their tape recorder playing the audio they have recorded from some corny little movies known as "Star Wars." They memorize the lines, act out the roles. Then they return to their VCR and re-watch the video tapes they made from the TV showings of their beloved movies. They love Chewbacca, Han Solo, the Ewoks. They fight over who gets to be Luke and Leia. The younger sister never wins. The older sister names her cat Princess Leia. Good times.

Let's fast forward. Three more "Star Wars" movies come into existence, much to the initial delight of the girls, now all grown up, but then they watch them, one by one, over the years ending with the last in 2005, and they grumble. They return happily to their VCRs that still work (yay!) and decide that they need Luke, Leia, and a Wookie to be in their happy place. The little sister still loses. She still has to be the woman with only one line.

Jump really far ahead now. There is a new disturbance in the force. Disney is taking on the "Star Wars" legacy. Will there be singing? Dancing tea cups? Magic carpets? The sisters are skeptical. It didn't go well the last go around. The little sister is now married to another "Star Wars" fan (though named Luke, he's really a Trekkie at heart), and he has the original, unadulterated VHS tapes of the best three movies. The older sister now has a (nearly) grown daughter and has indoctrinated her well into the love and the lore. Everyone decides to give the seventh movie a try. The older sister goes to a premiere, dressed as Princess Leia (no, not slave Leia!), and takes her daughter, who is dressed as the new character, Rey. They LOVE the movie. The little sister sends her husband to see the movie on his birthday, with a friend. She plans to go with him for his second viewing. The older sister sees it twice. It is finally time for the younger sister to see the movie.

OK, travel now with me, the younger sister, to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." I go with my husband. He is excited to see it again and this time with me. I am excited too. I've heard great things from a reliable source: my older sister. The action begins. I'm laughing with Solo and Chewy. I'm cheering on Rey. I'm waiting with everyone to see where Luke the Jedi Master is. Then I start to cry. And I. Can't. Stop. Through the credits I fight to regain control. My husband waits patiently with me. I try. I try again. I think I'm there, but nope. I feel as if my heart is tearing from my chest. The walls are closing in. I fight to breathe. Why? Why, when the movie lived up to all I had hoped. When it was like a return to all I had loved as a child when watching the movies. What makes the difference?

I am now a mother.

No matter how often my sister got to be Leia when we played as kids, I am now Leia too. I look at her: one who raised a son to know the force, the truth, the light. That is what I try to do with my young son. Did she do everything right? Did she fail? Where did it all go wrong? I see her pain and I can't shake it.

My son, God bless him, will also have a choice. What will he choose?

I think about the unknown mother of Finn, the storm trooper. Her son was taken from her, as an infant. He was indoctrinated—brainwashed—into being a servant of darkness. That was all he had ever known. But one day. One day he takes off the mask and says no more. What does he know of the light? He doesn't, but he chooses it nonetheless.

My childhood innocence is gone. Being a mother has wrecked me, in the best way, in the hardest. It's the closest glimpse a person can have to God's agony and his delight. I don't see "Star Wars" as a fun fantasy anymore. I see it as the test we all have. The test we can't take for our children.

Heartless storm trooper or loving mother? 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015 Reflections

Travel started off the new year. I took my first trip away from Geddy (and I haven't taken one since!). Only a little over 24 hours, but that meant a night and a morning that my little boy couldn't find me. He did well with his daddy, but they both missed me a lot. When I returned and Geddy was angry at me, it hurt, but we have healed. He has grown and changed so much over this year, but he tells me often at night, before he sleeps: "I need you. I want you." I say, "I need you too. I want you too."

What I remember of February was lots of illness and tissues everywhere! Fortunately March was better and we traveled to Aunt Tammy's wedding. Geddy was so exhausted from playing with all the cousins, though, that he slept through the ceremony, clinging to his Daddy-roo!


April meant more travel, this time to see family in Oregon from the bottom to the top, the West, to the East. Of course that included beach time! In May, Geddy turned two and had his first official birthday party with kids and ice cream and lots of playing time outside. The grandparents came as well to make the day extra special.


Mommy's birthday and Father's Day were the same day in 2015, so it was a super special time. Fun at a nature center and lots of good food made it a perfect day with family. July and August offered camping adventures in Idaho and Oregon. Geddy had so much fun that we are eager to camp again this coming summer. But we need better sleeping arrangements . . . .


In September we got to see the beautiful "boon boons" over two days. I'm hoping to take Geddy up in one next time, since they have a free day for kids! October was pumpkins and friends and two dates for Mommy and Daddy! I think we are getting a little better at prioritizing those! The holiday season rolled in and we rolled away in the car again to spend Thanksgiving with family, seeing many friends along the way. We cherish those days and memories as they were shadowed by sadness soon after with the loss of Grandpa Jerry. But we know we will see him again one day.

Christmas came quietly. Wait, not with Geddy it didn't. Luke and I were rather sick, but we had a nice day at home, just the three of us. Thankfully the sickness didn't last long.

Welcome 2016. We are ready for more adventures!