Monthly Archives

January 2015

History is a Present


My wise Dad dressed up at Halloween as evil Geppetto


Craig and Zak came to cheer for Ben’s team

We just finished a great hockey tournament weekend in Portland. The tournament was definitely an embracing of the joy and love of the game (this is our method of emotional coping when we lose every game except the last consolation game). We had a great time watching our beloved Capital Thunder team play passionately and work hard while learning the agony of defeat and that sometime the biggest growth comes from learning from losing.

Anyway, we got to have an amazing time visiting with our dear friends that live in Lake Oswego, The Simmons family. We love them so much and every time we get together with them is such a joy for me. You know those people that you just feel good around and that make you feel so wonderful just by being in the same room with them? This family is that for me. I just feel really good in my guts when we are with them. Their kids are real, they all treat each other so kindly, and what’s so special to me is that Craig and Mona let their children know how valuable they are as humans. Their children feel loved and in return, they like to hang out with their parents, which means that by default, we got to hang out with these really cool kids.

On this trip, my dad was able to drive up to Oregon with us for the tournament. It was so special for Ben that his Papa came all this way and took time out of his busy schedule to watch him play, and it was so special for me to listen to my Daddy telling our kids about his growing up time in Oregon. He would point things out along the drive through the state that were special to him, or that he had a memory of, or where his family lived.

The coolest thing about this trip for me though, was something that happened when Mona and Craig started telling us about their recent trip to Thailand, and their time in Vietnam was brought up. Mona found out that my dad had fought in The Vietnam War and began asking him questions. We talked for quite some time about my dad’s experience. This was very special for me because growing up, my dad didn’t talk a lot about his time there. I had alway assumed that there were just too many painful memories for him to talk about, but after this weekend, I think it was also maybe because I never really asked.

Yesterday, we girls were having such an enjoyable rainy Portland afternoon, talking over chai tea that Mia made for all of us (the best chai tea I’ve ever had, Mia Girl!) and Mona mentioned that it was such a shame that The Vietnam War and other important historical events are not taught in depth in American schools when there is so much personal, human information to be absorbed by our children today. She mentioned how lucky my children are to have first hand information in their lives from someone who experienced it. Wow. I had never, not once, thought about how amazing that is for our family. My dad is a strong, bold, affectionate, innovative, smart, kind leader. I have admired many things that he has done in his life, like how he and my mom rode their bicycles across the United States, or how he knew how to build a whiskey-barrel swivel chair and install it in our big, blue van without looking at directions, or how he could get our dumb dog, Noyo’s head unstuck from inside a big pickle jar without cutting him, but never have I realized the very real first hand access to American history that is stored inside my dad’s mind.

This realization that I have been missing a great opportunity to learn about these experiences from my dad, along with the changes that our family is currently experiencing in this season of my aging, has got me thinking about what things I should be embracing that I am not, for both my family and for my personal self. As Hannah is preparing to leave for college, my son is non-stop reminding me that he is a mere seven months from having his driver’s permit, my sister and brother-in-law and my precious nieces and nephews are preparing for a move to far-away San Antonio, Texas, and other changes that are not significant in distance or quantity but are still mighty in their value, I must ask myself what I can do to keep my eyes on the important things that I might otherwise be neglecting. Family, tradition, and collecting history from the loved ones that lived it are what I wish to embrace at this season in my life. I want to celebrate and embrace the changes that are happening, while cherishing the history of my family and loved ones. This is what our life is for; celebrating the people we love, learning from our past, cherishing our present moment, and embracing the future. I want to live that way everyday.

Embrace You!

I got the unusual Sunday morning privilege of bringing my son to hockey this morning. Usually, I go to church to hear Hannah sing on the worship team while Jeff brings Ben to the rink, but today Jeff had some things to do and Hannah is in India, so I got to be the lucky hockey mom (that was not sarcasm. I really like it). While Ben was getting his gear on, I decided to go to the car wash before it got too busy. It’s a familiar car wash, on a familiar road, in a familiar town. During our homeschool years, this was our place. We spent many hours driving between the rink, the rock climbing place, guitar lessons, Lego-robot building class, and our very familiar eating establishments, where we spent many hours studying and learning vocabulary while eating mac and cheese.

I’m not sure why today my mind has decided to take a walk down memory lane, but nevertheless, we know as moms that our minds have a mind of their own, and mine has decided to slam me with memories this morning. Maybe it’s because while Hannah has been in India we have spent some time doing some of Ben’s old faves; rock climbing with a friend after the game last night for example. While driving from the rink to Granite Arch, Ben started pointing out our old hangouts to his friend– “This is where we ate lunch after guitar lessons on Tuesdays”, and ” “Hey, I remember we would go to that Pinkberry a lot” (apparently we spent the homeschool years constantly eating…). While Jeff was belaying them while they climbed, I sat and read a book on that familiar orange faux leather couch at Granite Arch, the floor heater churning at my feet; the heater that the owner brought in one day FOR ME years ago because he noticed me shivering during Ben’s lessons every week. “Hey!” I said to Jeff. “That’s MY heater! I sat here and read The Bee Eater by Michelle Rhee right here with that heater at my feet. He smiled at me. Jeff knows by now that those statements that I make from memories may very well lead to an emotional heap of misty tears on the bathroom floor. He is happy at the memory, but concerned at the effect of it on me these days.

And of course, poor Ben has had to tolerate (he didn’t hate it though, I hope!) my constant voice in his ear while Hannah’s been away. “Want to do Legos?” I ask him while he’s deeply enmeshed in his Xbox single player driving game. “Want to switch games and we can play a double player like we used to?” He gives me the same smile Jeff keeps giving me. “How about in a little while?” he says. “Of course, Benny”, I tell him. I’m happy he’s having a great time.

But, on the way here today, something strange happened. I got to the bottom of my travel coffee cup and tasted strong sugar. You know those smells and tastes and sights that take you back to a place that you didn’t know you had a connection to? Like Suave hairspray makes me think of my large-banged 80’s days wearing Z Cavaricci’s and sharing mushroom swiss burgers with my Jill before football games. Well, that strong sugar and strong coffee in the bottom of my cup did that for me.

We Three Muskateers were in the car a lot for various reasons during the kids’ homeschool years. We drove to LA many times for auditions and jobs; we took field trips to break the monotony of having school in the house; we had season tickets to Discovery Kingdom and went there often; the kids took ski lessons and we drove up to Sierra in the early mornings week after week in the winter. As I took that swig this morning, specific points in the road raced into my mind; the stretch of road before reaching the turn for the 505; the exit for getting gas in Santa Nella, passing the turn up to our old house in Brownsville on the way to Sierra (sitting in that lodge is where I wrote the first VGK blog that would change the view of our future). These places in the road are where I would always get to that last drink of coffee in my travel cup on those journeys. These spots that mark my past on the road that lead to this future. And I’m not feeling, wait for it, it’s a shocker: I’m not feeling like crying! Something very important entered my head for the first time ever. I can’t believe I’m about to say it! All those trips, all those events that I made happen for the kids benefit, all those full days that Jeff and I created so that the kids could look back and feel good about, well, they were about me too! Mommies! Those times were meant for us, too! We must embrace each moment not just to provide for our children, but to instill foundational memories for ourselves. We matter and it matters that we know this!

I didn’t know it then. I didn’t know that the intention of my mommyhood would be to provide care, love, experiences, joy, discipline, and guidance for Hannah and Ben, but also to create spaces in time that were for me! Those times mean something to me not just for what they did for the kids, but also based on my enjoyment of them. Even if the kids didn’t get as much out of them as I had hoped, they are still important, just because I am important! The sooner we understand this, the more rich the moments are. The times we don’t embrace as our own will be lacking a vital piece of the puzzle.

In fact, I chuckled in the car when I took that last drink of my coffee today and Ben asked my what was funny. I smiled and told him it made me remember this car ride, and that trip to here or there. I mentioned the homeschool trips to Discovery Kingdom, and a look of confusion hit the boy’s face. “I don’t remember that”, he says to me. My forehead wrinkles and my eyes squint in immediate frustration. “You don’t remember?” “Nope”, he says. And at that moment, a weird peace came over me and my scrunchy face relaxed. “That’s okay,” I told him. “I do”.