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, May 29, 2011

Let the family love in before you pass out

Let the family love in.

Because when you're coming back claustrophobic in the slow moving beach-goer current after a day trip over the hill inland without the traffic, you wish you would've stayed home instead. ("The hill" being the Santa Cruz Mountains and the "day trip" being to Happy Hollow in San Jose and back again with two little girls, the Mama and the Daddy.)

Although most parents do everything they can to plan for the most painless trips to here or there with their little ones, the reality is you can't plan for when patience runs out and little emotional volcanos need to vent, and how that venting drives the dormancy out of the adult volcanos as well.

Especially when you knew the traffic would be bad coming home, and your foresight overshadowed the hope of quiet, happy kid camper, safe passage.

Earlier that morning when we left for Happy Hollow, I asked Bea, "Where are we going?"

"Zoooooo!" she answered. Bryce squealed and cooed.

Blink. We were on our way. Smooth sailing with the exception of a little scary foreshadowing -- there had been a horrible accident going the other way on Highway 17. Emergency vehicles everywhere. Multiple cars pulled over, some with visible crash marks and one car was on fire. The backed up cars behind it looked like a parking lot.

There was a pop from the burning car and Mama said, "Speed up and get by this, please." And so I did.

Blink. We were there. At Happy Hollow. Riding the Merry-Go-Round. Running to the goats, to the miniature horses, to the cow, to the turkey, to the turtle, to the monkeys, to the meerkats, Bea throwing the food pellets to the ground in front of the animals because she was scared to feed them -- then to the swing ride, to the slide area, having lunch on the grass, then back to the Merry-Go-Round for one last ride.

Blink. We were on our way again. Back in the car. Going home. Moving along nicely until --

We weren't. Memorial Day Weekend gridlock stopped us cold, inching towards the mountains, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and other coastal drifts.

Inching along with Mama in the back between Bryce and Bea, doing everything she could to distract and entertain. But then the toy luster wore off and the DVD player locked up and the iPod Touch lost juice and only my iPhone remained with just enough kid video misdirection for Beatrice to relax the rest of the way, poor little Bryce blew.

Her patience had run out miles back and her unhappiness eruption spewed all over the back seat, covering her and the Mama, but thankfully not Bea. Mama kept it together and sang to Bryce (although I did see a thin stream of red lava flow down from the top of the Mama's head). That calmed Bryce down enough to survive the final 20 minutes to get across town to home, which was painfully glacial for me because by that time I was ready. To. Get. Out.

Blink. We were home again. No more crying. All laughter and smiles. As if nothing happened except the fun family memories we shared.

Right on, sister B-hive. Right on.

Let the family love in before you pass out.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

The cure-all of Brycillius Interruptus

Ignite sleepless nights with comfort and love, with a lullaby glo-worm sent from above...

Because when you're going crazy with Brycillius Interruptus -- an actual viral infection that affects parents of babies 6-12 months old who are teething, going through all sorts of crazy developmental brain activities, eating everything because it's new and tasty, battling a snot-nosed cold (that we of course are all sharing), tooting, slobbering and crying -- your skies become heavy and dark.

The first time around with Beatrice was tough at times, but with the first one it's all new to us as well, and there wasn't another one under the roof.

However, ever since Bryce, we've been scratching our heads wondering -- Wait, did that happen with Bea, too? Well, did it?

Bycillius Interruptus sends rain clouds though the neocortex that erupt and wash away memories to the deep blue sea of emotional discord and complete breakdowns. It's bad enough that we constantly reconstruct memories over time, but when you're really friggin' tired (just ask the Mama), you forget you're...

Wait, what?

*scream*

[crying jag]

"I'm sorry; don't touch me."

The grand Daddy experiment started this week with me taking over at night with Bryce so Mama could get some decent sleep, because long-term total sleep deprivation has caused death in lab animals, and Mama's done it for weeks now. Not something Mama's (or Daddies) want to hear when they're just trying to take care of their babies...

But still.

So the past few nights I've cared for and coddled my little Bryce bugger, and even with me now suffering from a little sleeplessness, there are moments with her, just like with Bea, that are etched in my timeless mind's eye, where no amount of stormy weather will ever wash them away.

Like my baby resting against me on the bed while eating the face of a lullaby glo-worm doll, as she turns to me and smiles, snot dangling from her nose.

The cure-all of Brycillius Interruptus is just a little love and patience.

And sleeping separately in the soundproof garage guest room.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

It's hard to listen to someone you love die a little more each time you talk. Especially when you know her as well as I do, who for almost three decades has lived with a rare genetic disease called Porphyria as well as having multiple back surgeries, chronic pain from various syndromes, and other bodily dysfunctions, breakdowns and depression that are interconnected like a rusted chain anchored to the bottom of a red tide sea.

It's hard because for the longest time the collective "we" felt that some of this could've been prevented with lifestyle changes and taking better care of herself. But although today I still made recommendations of taking it easier, today was the first time that I conceded to this fact: that I can't change a thing at this point, only listen and love and do what I can to help.

However, no matter where I'm at with it all, it's still hard to comfort someone in such a broken physical and emotional state, especially when that someone's your mother.

A beautiful mother who's strength and courage survived over 12 years of domestic violence with two little kids to care for, my sister and me.

A loving mother who finally found the man of her dreams, only to have their love's foundation rocked multiple times with his unfortunately stroke, heart and lung problems over the years.

A proud and stubborn woman who always wanted the greater family to appear as such, a family, at any and all costs.

A caring grandmother who loves my sister's kids as her own, who was devastated when we weren't going to have children, and then just as devastated when distance and illness relegated her to phone calls and Skype video chats with the B-hive.

A faithful servant of God, even in the moments of destructive doubt and belittled will to live, which seem to be coming more frequently now.

I don't have the same faith as her, and even though I tell her I pray for her, which I do, I'm just not convinced of God's intervention in our physical world. Don't call me faithless, though; love and hope and humane action are faith enough for me.

And speaking of faith, this morning I looked through my photos and I found an old one of my mother with my beloved childhood dog, an Australian shepherd named Poco.

These were two things I loved the most as a child (besides my little sister, of course). The two things that kept me grounded and safe in the otherwise violent dysfunction we grew up in.

When we left my birth father, we had to leave Poco as well. That was hard for a 9-year-old boy.

As I fly across the county tonight, I know I'm losing my mom a little each day, and that's hard for a 45-year-old man.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you and miss you.

And I'll keep praying for you.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Because we must always remember not only the what and when, but the why and where to

I remember exactly where I was.

Being away on a business trip for the weekend I was still askew from time zone travel, with yet another trip the next day on the horizon.

My mother-in-law had just told me it was on the news, that the President would be out soon to announce it.

So Beatrice and I sat on the couch, her playing games on my iPad and me watching CNN, while Wolf Blitzer told me that he was dead.

As if all our ghosts would finally come home to rest. As word spread, we cheered, but that's not the way it works. Ghosts never fully flee, they just move to different rooms of the heart, usually the darker ones without windows or air, with painted blue sky on the ceilings, where they sit and wait and remember.

I remember exactly where I was.

Working on my computer at 6:30 a.m., years before we built the B-hive. A co-worker emailed me to turn on the TV. There were planes flying into the World Trade Center.

I couldn't believe it.

The sky was so blue that morning. I couldn't get my head around what I was seeing. I emailed her back.

Jesus Christ.

I remember exactly where we were, a month and a half later, ordering lunch in a deli in Venice, when the man behind the counter stopped, his face solemn and washed out around the edges, as if painted with watercolors.

He asked, "Americans?"

We answered, "Yes."

He stiffened; I thought he was going to salute. Instead, he held his heart and said:

"God Bless America."

Nearly 10 years later and another 6,000 sons and daughters...

Bea and Bryce will know these stories someday, and then they can tell their children. Because we must always remember not only the what and when, but the why and where to.

Then maybe someday the ghosts will paint the ceilings black.