Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Not a Dinner Table Night

I have two teenagers, one of whom has his very own car. And it's summer. So you'd think these guys would be flitting about from friend to friend barely acknowledging their mom's existence — a.k.a. me at their age. I'm lucky to have two homebodies who occasionally hang out with friends, are here most every evening, and understand the significance of a home cooked family meal at the dinner table. Tonight was not a dinner table night.

We've learned to work around each other's schedules, and this appears to be "accommodate our working mom" week. Due to a dismal economy, the magazine's ad department will take anything, even if it's just a few days before deadline. Which is the case this week. Great timing ... my week with the kids before they're off on a two-week camping trip with their dad and I'm forced to work brutal 10-hour days. I return home at 7:00 and feed my daughter cheese, crackers, veggies & dip for dinner — my favorite meal and fast becoming hers. We're in "Flight of the Conchords" mode. Cliffie comes home from a card game and we're all watching this hilarious episode starring the bumbling Bret and Jemaine.

Bret: She works down at the cheap zoo
Jemaine: The pet store?

Then the outtakes. Here's one:

I'd seen this before, but watching it with these guys brought it to a whole new level of funny. Belly laughs, I swear. I love that they get the humor. I ask you, what's better than laughing — I mean REALLY laughing — with your kids? Not much, in my book.

Stress? What stress?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A better "to do" list

Chore day — and things have gotten way out of hand here at the house. On the agenda: things like scrubbing bathroom tile grout and hard water deposits, dusting and organizing 16 bookshelves, cleaning out the fridge. As if transforming my home to Martha Stewart perfection will simultaneously create order, direction, and purpose in my life. Reality: Inside I'm a mess, even after my house is sparkling clean. Think how great I'd feel if I accomplished everything on a list like this: 

1. Draw a picture using crayons on construction paper.
2. Go to beach and hunt for seaglass.
3. Select pastry at local bakery.
4. Find a three-year-old to play with and follow her agenda.
5. Create stellar playlist on i-tunes. Purchase new songs if needed.
6. Find some good smooth rocks at the tidepools. Go home an paint at least one.
7. Find and memorize a significant line of prose. 
8. Choreograph a dance to Wham's "Young Guns."
9. Play a card game with at least one of my kids.
10. Reread "Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock." 
11. Walk the neighborhood and photograph all the birds I see.
12. Pick a wildflower bouquet and deliver to a deserving friend.
13. Compose a song by tapping on glasses filled with water. 
14. Telephone boyfriend and field his responses to 10 random questions.
15. Find a perfect spot and have a heart-to-heart with God.

It would be the best day ever. And soul cleansing at that. Maybe tomorrow ...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fog & Ray Charles

Written five months ago... 

I love my Saturday morning hikes out to the ranch. I not only get to work off the few pounds I’ve likely gained during the week, I also enjoy quiet time with my “maker” taking in the sights and sounds of perfect beauty. No time limit, and I always come back energized both physically and spiritually.

It was crisp and sunny when I left the house, and I cranked up an upbeat Cowboy Junkies tune on the ipod. What could be better? But just before I rounded the corner leading to the ranch, I noticed a chill in the air and dense fog rolling in. Jogger guy barreled by me, scaring the lovely family of deer in the small clearing entering the ranch. And — oh great — the ground was damp and muddy— I’d have to trudge through it, and navigate around the trees that lay horizontal in the path in front of me — victims of the last brutal storm. This’ll be fun.

I write little essays in my head during these walks. What could all of it mean, I pondered, on the way to my “quiet spot.” “I’m pretty much in a fog most of my waking hours?” Nah. Lame. True, but lame. Just walk, Kirsten. And turn off the damn ipod. It’s still God’s country even though I’m in thick fog and can’t see ten feet in front of me.

Made my way to a bench I like to sit on that overlooks the ocean. No ocean in sight today but the sound of the surf coming in loud in clear. Sitting for a long time reflecting on the usual things: Love and loss. Then my brain was told to shut up by my higher power and I experienced all that was around me at high intensity. The sounds of waves crashing, birds chirping, and something scuttling in the pine tree next to me. The smell of sea air mingled with pine scent from said tree. After a while, the taste of my tears. And am I delusional or did I feel the comforting touch of someone holding me in his arms? I’d been to this spot hundreds of times, but never before had I experienced the loveliness around me in such depth or with such reverence.

All of this and no ocean view. “Damn you’re good,” I said to God. He replied, “I was blocking what you normally focus on so you could experience these other things more fully.” “Oh, duh,” I said. Hence the theme of my essay. (No, it’s not “oh duh.”)

I’ll call it the Ray Charles factor. We all know Ray was an extraordinarily talented musician who experienced and performed his music with unusual depth. Being blind, he developed a capacity to react to his world through sound rather than sight; and the result was, of course, off-the-charts brilliant. Maybe that’s the way it is with my own personal losses. (Stay with me here.) I want things to be like they were before — when I clowned around with my little bro or had a good heart-to-heart with Dad. When my marriage seemed like it was perfect. Yeah, sad those days are over. But because they’ve been blocked from my view, might I be more able to more fully experience all of the other wonderful blessings God has bestowed on me? Or even notice them? I think yes. Not to mention the great stuff just around the corner I don’t even know about yet.

Who knew that in the middle dense fog I could come to such a revelation? Duh.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bizarre room tour

I'm beginning to think (beginning?!) I'm one of those parents who trumpets on and on about the virtues of my kids to the point of everyone's utter horror. You've been warned.

Once every couple of weeks our house serves as the local Dungeons & Dragons meeting spot. Totally my son's thing. (And so NOT satanic, for anyone with concerns about that.) My son doesn't play sports (except for a bit of tennis) and while most kids in school spend their waking hours worrying about who they're going to ask out, what party they're going to, or what they're going to wear the next day, he is imagining other galaxies, creating role-playing scenarios for the next D&D session, reading science fiction books, and listening to podcasts of vintage radio shows. I love that there are at least five like-minded boys at the local high school who are happy sitting around a kitchen table playing a mind-challenging, role playing game in their spare time. And I'm more than happy to support this in the way of ample supply of Cherry Cokes, pizza, pretzels, popcorn, brownies, cookies, etc. etc. You don't know the meaning of a challenge until you've tried to keep six young men fed for a day!

If you've been following my blog you will know that my bedroom is, in fact, in my kitchen — so when the D&D boys arrive, I'm banished to one of the two upstairs rooms. On this particular night, with my girl home and very involved the social networking mecca that is her room, I was forced to hang out in my boy's pad for the evening. And let's get this straight right off the bat: I'm NOT the kind of mom who ever snoops around my kids' rooms for any reason — I vividly recall my own teenage years and would have been mortified if my mom went drudging through any of my stuff. (To her credit, she never did.) But everything in plain sight in my son's room is, well, just so incredibly cool, and speaks volumes to who he is. He is huge pieces of my highly creative, big-thinking father and introverted and artistic mother. On his dad's side he's off-the-charts smart and questions authority like his grandfather, and friendly and accepting like his grandmother. To top it all off, he's blessed with his dad's dazzling smile. What he gets from me I'll never know. 

I'll write about my amazing daughter in another blog. But for now, suffice it to say God has bestowed upon me two exceptional children. I feel it my sole life's purpose to recognize and convey to them their every attribute. They must know just how much they have to offer in this world. 

By the looks of the stuff in my son's room, he's well on his way.

The king and his court

Comic books in a row

Fruit of his "pointless" crafts class. Seaglass chess board. Priceless.

Mom's x-ray = really nice window art

More than just random meaning here.

Neatly stacked Magic cards, never mind the dust.

Friends and pastimes

Jemaine & Bret approve

Apparently taking out the trash doesn't apply to his own room

Ninja guards the deck