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, August 21, 2011

Number 1 Is Fun!

Fun, Fun, Fun!

Happy Birthday Bryce!

(OMG, why are all these people here?!? And why is my sister blowing out my candle?!? And what are presents? And why does this cake taste so good? And who are Barbie and Ken?)

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Space travel, matching babies and warm fuzzies

Space Travel

Family space travel can be grueling. We were in orbit twice as long as we were scheduled to be; the B-hive melted down and the Mama and me hallucinated, our bodies slick with dirty sweat.

No, space travel is sometimes not glamorous. At all. Especially when you have to deal with poor customer service. You can read about it here and here if you're interested.

Mercy, there is no better place to hold on to the why of wonder and laughter.

We did eventually reenter the earth's atmosphere and landed on the banks of Mississippi, in America's Heartland.

Unlike our family vacation with my folks in Oregon, this one in Illinois/Iowa was filled with lots of extended family -- Mama's mom and grandma, aunts and uncles, cousins and baby second cousins.

As I've written before, some of my fondest family memories are those when our entire extended family on my mom's side would gather for Easter, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Second only to the holidays themselves, being a little kid snuggled safely in the family bosom was the only place I wanted to be. That didn't mean there wasn't family friction and other varying forms of family dysfunction, but the family bosom was still safe and warm.

My family is splintered everywhere now, the greatest concentrations being in the California Central Valley and Southwest Missouri. And although we've talked of getting together more over the years, to revisit the days of old, it just hasn't transpired.

But with the Mama's family, both in Illinois/Iowa and Nevada, it has, partly because there's been a greater connection between her and her family and the effort more effortless -- bidirectionally -- the bosom still safe and warm. There's a reality that the maternal bonds are stronger than paternal in extended families, at least in my experience. It doesn't mean I don't care about my family any less, it's just the reality we live.

This latest family vacation was still hard with two little girls in tow, because according to the baby regression table, after 7 days away from home, Bryce was back to waking what seemed to be every minute.

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However, that didn't take away from the every minute of family joy, particularly when all the cousins' babies played together in matching outfits (made my none other Auntie Jill, Mama's sister). C'mon, you know you can't get enough of matching babies. They line the family bosom with warm fuzzies and protect us during space travel.

Sadly we haven't had many warm fuzzies near us since we've birthed the B-hive, with the exception of short stints from Mama's mom and niece. Maybe it's time to change that.

Maybe...

Back to family space boot camp we go. Because space travel can be fun, too.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The why of wonder and laughter

The answer for me is easy when I look at my girls.

Although some may ask why would anyone bring children into this ever-complicated and unforgiving adult world, I would ask the converse.

Why not?

When the why of wonder and laughter is what can power our hearts, when nothing we've tried is ever in vain, and when everything we've done is forever accomplished, then why not?

But I'm not naive; I know that the world is a perpetual tinderbox one spark away from violence of every kind, and that weekly economic volatility is the new and true normal these days.

The answer for me today is still easier than it's ever been. In fact, I joked the other day that while on family vacation, I had half a mind to find the other half.

I already have. That half is the one that compels me forward to make even a chicken scratch of a difference, via wonder and laughter.

Amen.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Lost Art of Not Fast Forwarding Life

She pushed her down, then gave her a hug; the inverse relationship of a warm and cuddly contradictory B-hive.

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And so it goes for siblings -- brothers and sisters alike from any background. I showed some colleagues the other day pictures of Bea and Bryce roughhousing on the couch, and then we all joked about how it's the eldest sibling's responsibility to keep down the younger while protecting her at the same. Or more precisely, the alternating keep-down-protection plays that occur with regularity throughout life.

Because it is theater of sorts, the dramedy of watching your little girls become aware (and wary) of each other, the elder watching the younger with sick fascination.

Now that Bryce is only two weeks from turning one, and pretty much walking and squawking, soon she'll be able to keep up with her big sister at every turn.

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Push down -- hug -- push down -- hug -- push down -- hug -- pull up -- love -- hate -- love again --

If you have brothers or sisters, you've lived it out. Same if you have children of your own.

Watching them laugh and play and cry together (Bea always plugs her ears when Bryce cries), I can only hope that dramedies that play out through childhood, teenage-land and adulthood never escalate to familial excommunication.

The Mama and I keep each other in check about fast forwarding too much, to instead live in and through each moment. We'll try to instill this in the girls as well. But that doesn't mean we don't plan ahead; planning ahead today means being highly adaptable and flexible.

It's the escalation to excommunication that can never be planned for though, and where adaptability and flexibility come in mental-health handy. We grow up and out, and as parents can only hope that our children can let go, forgive and forget, regardless of what happened. Since as siblings, some of us lived through it, and the reality is we don't really ever let go, forgive or forget, we just live in relative shades of each that cast shadows on our hearts. Blood and friendship can separate with age, to never mingle again.

Rewind to now and the love and beauty of our daughters' budding relationship.

Mama, break the fast-forward button. Please.