Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Almost Theres

"There's been trials and tribulations
You know I've had my share
But I've climbed the mountain, I've crossed the river
And I'm almost there…"

—"Almost There" lyrics, Princess and the Frog


Isn't that always the way it is? You've worked hard all year and you're finally on the verge of success, or maybe ultimate glory, or maybe partial nirvana, or maybe incremental awareness, or maybe you turned a blind corner blindly...

Ah yes, you're almost there. But where is almost there?

Life is like that -- sets of disparate swirling scatter plots, loosely correlated and connected in a vast universe that sometimes feels really small, accessible and attainable; while other times it, does, not.

But now that I've lived nearly half a century, fairly unscathed by violence or mayhem (except as a child and that which is emotionally self-inflicted as an adult), and surviving multiple economic swings -- everyday is a series of scatter plots, infinitesimally intimate mulit-colored actions and reactions that take the shape of moving pictures like "Dear Diary" flip books.

And we do love collecting flip books, don't we. Especially at Christmastime, when reflecting on this year and years past ups and downs, always heres and almost theres is the perennial pastime.

My "almost theres" are the three points of bright light that keep me moving and loving, hopeful and happy.

Merry Christmas my dearest B-hive. Keep the flip books coming.



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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Does anyone have a hurt or hurt feelings?

“Just don't grow up so fast
You don't want to know what I know yet
Maybe on paper it looks better way up here
Don't you hurry, try to take it slow
You will get there before you know it
Ain't just the bad times, the good times too shall pass
So don't grow up so fast…”

—Train


And so it begins, innocent as it was. One of Beatrice's friends and classmates smirked when she heard her last name.

"Your name is gross?"

"No, it's Grossman."

Her friend laughed. And then they both moved on to other little girl playtime. Beatrice didn't get it; she was literally all about her last name and how to say it, not knowing what "gross" meant. Yet. We worry because Beatrice may always be more naive than her classmates, and the eventual fallout to come once she realizes that someone is really trying to hurt her could be devastating.

Again, this time it was innocent enough, but the ramifications of future hurt feelings are more and more evident as she, and her little sister, get older.

Yes, that's life when we're growing up, and they'll need to go through the hurt and the happy, the sporadic bad times and the sometimes fleeting good, no matter how much we want to protect them. Yes, they'll have to learn how to be resilient, to adapt and to overcome.

We're still on the front end of awareness, of them flailing about because someone was purposely being mean to them, supposed friend or not. But that'll come soon enough. It always does.

In the meantime, let the children play, right? Hey, the doctor is in anyway. Funny how what we grew up with is new again to our girls. A Charlie Brown Christmas has become a big hit in our house, and although the girls only have a vague awareness of how Charlie Brown is treated, they got it enough to know how Dr. Lucy was trying to help Charlie Brown. Kind of.

Does anyone have a hurt or hurt feelings? Dr. Bryce is in.




Thursday, November 27, 2014

Grateful For It All Either Way

“…even my wonder, even my fear, only amount to a couple of tears. There is a rhythm, it's near and it's far — it flows through the heart of us…” --Duncan Sheik 

We fixate so much on the crazy and what's broken that we nearly all but negate the good and what works, of how far we've actually come.

I'm reminded of this everyday with my loving, pragmagical wife who keeps our family propelled in a healthy direction, and me grounded in the good, since I tend to drift from hopeful romanticism to flippant defensive posturing in times of stress.

I'm reminded of this everyday with our caring, smart, uniquely (head)strong, and beautiful little girls who keep me hopeful of a potentially utopian future they'll help create, and who keep the Pop hopping popping.

These words may not console those who struggle daily with any and all the miserable facets of tragic human fallibility, but I'm thankful we all have the capacity to elevate the haggard human spirit when we really need it, and even when we think we don't.

And of late, some of us really need it. I'm grateful for it all either way.

Godspeed and Happy Thanksgiving.





Saturday, November 22, 2014

Keep the Pop Hopping Popping

HOP POP We like to hop. 
We like to hop on top of Pop. 
STOP You must not hop on Pop.

--Dr. Suess

No, actually they must hop on Pop. You can hear it in earnest, in their gleeful squeals.

"Daddy, we want to jump on you!"

All right. Fine. Jump, jump, jump around. Jump, jump, jump around. Ugh. Whoosh--

That was the air rushing out of me as Beatrice, nearly twice the size and weight of her little sister, jumped on my midsection. Even with pillows and stuffed animals galore on top me, the physics of impact are inescapable. At least Beatrice telegraphs her jumps so I can plan for impact and the roll off.

"Daddy, more jumps!"

Bryce, on the other hand, is much lighter and easier to deflect, but is more fearlessly random than her big sister. There's no time to set or reset with her -- as soon as I think I've got her pattern figured out, I don't, and the shelling of Daddy mountain commences while my core workouts continue.

"Daddy!"

"No more jumps."

"Yes, more jumps!"

And then there's the daddy-handling of picking them up and flipping them upside and landing them safely on our couch or cuddle chair, kind of like a kiddie catch-and-release program.

Sigh. But of course, I wouldn't have it any other way, even if days later I feel beat up, bruised with specific muscles and tendons contorted and sore.

I know these days will one day pass, and that the Mama and I will reminisce about them all while the girls grow into young strong, caring women and have lives of their own.

But these days are now, and I want to ensure they have a strong, caring male role model and an involved father in their life they can trust (even if I'm a little gruff sometimes), one that I never had as a child, only experiencing later as a teenager with my Pop (although I never hopped on him, of which he was surely thankful and grateful). Their pragmagical Mama's got everything else covered, so for that I'm always thankful and grateful.

Yes, these days are now, so let's keep the Pop hopping popping.

Stop, Bryce! You must not hop on Pop. Ugh.




Sunday, November 9, 2014

Why the B-hive's Going Green

"…he wrote me a prescription, he said 'you are depressed, but I'm glad you came to see me to get this off your chest. Come back and see me later — next patient please — send in another victim of Industrial Disease'…"

That's how we power ourselves. We over-process and burn our own emotional fossil fuels, continuously drilling for the bubbling crude along the barren plains and deep blue seas of our hearts.

Unfortunately, the carbon footprints we leave threaten our mindful presence and the relationships that are supposed to be very natural resources critical to thriving.

This is why we sometimes convince ourselves that we're championing for others, our intentions seemingly admirable, when we can't help but pollute each the others' airspace, not completely aware of how self-serving our actions actually are, of how much we're poisoning the world around us.

It's this pollution, where for too many the damage has already been done and the pipelines have long ago gone dry, that leaves them running on their own toxic fumes.

They're misguided, ungrateful, selfish and sometimes even unknowingly vengeful with no validity whatsoever. Their perceptual global warming contributes to adulthood's unfortunate industrial disease, one that can take years to clean up and cure, if ever. God help you all.

Amen that our children can terraform. That's why the B-hive's going green.







Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Mama's Pragmagical Muddy Puddles

I imploded. The frustration of not knowing what to do sprayed my gut like poison shrapnel, my heart buried in the rubble. The years of adept coping lost in a moment of weakness.

The poison seeped and seethed in my bloodstream until it reached the damaged language centers of my Cro-Magnon daddy brain, doing nothing more than igniting another series of fresh implosions, the poison ultimately reaching a lethal level. My heart was nowhere to be seen.

Finally, the Mama asked, “Are you grumpy again?”

The poison poured from my mouth; the caveman pounded my front lobes with his gnarled club.

“Yes, I am! I’m tired and hungry and I had to deal with Bryce screaming and again pounding on my face and chest like a mad woman while we were in line in the store. And I don’t know what to do about it. How am I supposed to just smile and use the whole positive discipline parenting approach and ask ‘what’s your idea?’ when all I want to do is smack her across the face!”

I sighed aloud. “Mercy, I actually do feel better now.”

The Mama gave me an uncomfortable smile, as if to say, Why didn’t you just tell me that in the first place, butthead?

There we sat in the Trader Joe’s parking lot, us in the front seats, and the girls giggling in the back, oblivious to my angry outburst.

“Are we going to the harvest festival?” Bryce asked.

“Yeah, the harvest festival!” Beatrice echoed.

“To jump in muddy puddles!" they called out together.

“Yes, we are,” the Mama answered.

I remained quiet, still recovering from internal damage, but off we went. While I drove us onward, I reflected on my immature and impulsive delayed reaction, still struggling with the positive discipline parenting approach overall, especially when Bryce’s reactive tantrums explode in our faces.

I know the Mama struggles too, sometimes having a smack attack on Bryce when it’s just too much, which in turn only causes Bryce to strike back harder until she becomes a boiling sea of tears.

But that’s not why I was reflecting this time. Bryce is only four, and a much different animal that her older sister, and the fact is that we’re doing everything we can to instill positive and healthy “responsible” responses to anything that either girl will have to deal with short and long-term. Self-awareness, mindfulness and impulse control over destructive behavior takes time and a maturity that many adults can and do struggle with.

Like me. Although I’m light years from where I was before the Mama met me, the same pattern of internalizing angst until it implodes as referenced above still happens from time to time. It’s like having flashbacks from bad hallucinogenic drugs taken in an already fragile state of mind.

At least, I’ve heard from friends...

You get the point. I internalize. I implode. The poison seeps and seethes and hurts me and those around me. I expel it all as if exorcized. Then I’m better again.

The Mama’s always been better at being under control and direct in the moment, at quickly adapting while retaining a pragmatic and almost magical approach to every facet of life, but I’m getting there; I have my moments. A work in progress since the day we met over 17 years ago on the beach…

Sigh. Snap – wait, that’s it! For those of you keeping score at home, yes, I’ve seen the Mama meltdown (she is a lovely woman and human being), but it’s the “pragmagical” planning, execution and resolution that I now aspire to, before I implode!

And all it takes is a big, muddy puddle and harmonic convergence. Yes, that’s it. What a woman that Mama is. And for me, Bryce is the key as well, like malleable molten metal that can be easily turned into a precision tuning fork.

After Trader Joe’s, we did go to the Wilder Ranch State Park 40th Anniversary Heritage Harvest Festival and had an amazing time (which we usually do). It rained earlier in the day, which us West Coasters desperately need, but then the sun came out in the afternoon and it was gorgeous.

Thank goodness, 'cause Daddy Goat Gruff needed a little vitamin D and some family B love.

The Mama's the queen of the pragmagical -- planning ahead and bringing an extra change of clothes for the girls since we planned on letting them jump in the muddy puddles. We always do. It's incredibly fun and cathartic. I only wish me and the Mama would have joined them. (And if you and your kids watch Peppa Pig, you know what I'm talking about.)

Yes, B-come the tuning fork that needs to reverberate (and release) immediately in a big, sloppy, muddy puddle -- real or imagined -- before the implosion happens. That's the harmonic convergence I've been looking for.

So, if I just bend Bryce just the right way and hold her up to the glorious sunlight and jump...

Sigh. Splash!