Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snowflower Campground (A Forgotten Summer Photo Album)

This post was in my draft folder,
 forgotten along with hot summer days.

A camping trip last summer, 
a forgotten post of a much loved trip

It is crisp in my memory...
The smell of bacon and pancakes, and the song of hungry, waiting blue jays.

Sweet morning faces, puffy eyed, froggy voiced.

Fishing with pancake scraps,

trying a thousand times,

to finally catch one little fish,
then let him go.

Dirty faces,

 stick dolls,

and the perfect walking stick.



and mayhem?!

Of course not!

It's pretty amazing what a teenager will do if you unplug them.

If you have ever asked yourself "Can a 5 year old splash too much?"
The answer is a certified no.

Sweet, baby feet, and chubby fingers. 
 When you are two, pine needles are "shishies" you can actually catch.

And even sweeter memories. 

But the best memories have no pictures to go with them.  
They were ones out under the stars,
 in the quiet and still;
The children content, safe and asleep,
 the moon shining off the lake,
 the stars outlining the black pine trees,
 and me resting in my sweetie's arms.

The James Gang

When I was a kid we would get together with all of my mom's family every New Year's Day at the house of an uncle or aunt.  There was always cheesecake and carrot pudding (ew?  No! Not ew!  It's like in the song "oh, bring us some figgy pudding" only no figgies.  It's a dense, rich cake.  You'd love it.  I'll make you some).  The uncles would laugh their heads off and show off photos of their latest passion,; cars, dogs, ham radios... dude stuff.  The aunties would chatter and help children and keep the chips and dips and food coming in a steady stream.

I was in an awkward spot age-wise amongst the cousins.  The bigger kids didn't really want me around, and the kids younger than me were all smelly boys!  I spent a lot of time just listening to the grownups telling their wonderful, silly, crazy stories and watching them laugh.

That's what I remember the most.  The laughter!

Then one year someone suggested that we should move the reunion to the summer for this reason or that.  And without anyone realizing it, we had had our very last reunion.  The summer came and went, as did the following New Year.  We would not be gathered again till many years later at my uncle's funeral.  By then only a handful of cousins could come, and the bonds and friendships had faded into a smattering of childhood memories.

My own family, my folks and all my brothers and sisters, (The James Gang, as we have long been called) have gotten together from time to time; for a wedding, for mom's funeral, for dad's 80th birthday.  But trying to figure out a date that would work for everyone to get together just hasn't been easy.  There is always some work conflict or scout camp pushing it's way in.

Last year, I thought about the New Year's Day of my childhood.  I'll admit, I am more than a little bit sentimental.  I longed for the monster hugs of my brothers, for the soft lilt of my sister-in-law Tracey's lovely South African accent.  I ached to fall deep into a tangent-ridden conversation with my missionary-companion-turned-sister-in-law, dear Julean.  I wanted to see cousins playing together and babies being held.  My brother's horrifying admissions of the naughty things they had done when we were small.  My sisters, elegant and down to earth, with wisdom and no-nonsense ways.  And Dad.  I always miss Dad.  He loves unconditionally.

I took a chance.  I invited everyone over for New Year's Day.  Not everyone could make the trip last year, but some did.  And it was wonderful.

It was the same this year (but some is better than none!). We missed dad, who didn't feel up to the trip, and Julie and Caroline who are out of state.  Waaa.  But there was the food, and the cousins playing and oh, how there was laughter.  Full disclosure.  I may or may not have peed a little.

When Guy and I first got married we hurried off out into the world, not really making choices about where we would live based on proximity to family.  Now, I'm sad by how spread out we all are, and I'm just grateful that some of us still can get together for special events.  I mean, who wants to wait until someone DIES?!  First, HOW SAD!!!  And second, everyone has puffy eyes and red noses in the pictures.  That's quite unacceptable.  Sometimes ya' just gotta see each other.  Just because.

I am so blessed to have a large family that all gets along.  I know of so many that can't talk on the phone, let alone be in the same room together.  I have truly been blessed with in-laws that are loving, kind, unpretentious, generous and fun, and sibs that are gregarious, helpful, supportive and pretty dang good lookin'.  Just sayin'.

I'm looking forward to the next time.  Who says it has to wait till New Years?

These pictures were taken right after a laugh fest that nearly collapsed my lung.  You wouldn't know it by our faces in these pix, though.  I think we wore ourselves out.

It's all about

Till next time!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

On Cleaning Out Closets

Guy and I have spent the last year re-inventing; putting a concerted effort into our marriage.  We have always gotten along well, but you know, everyone can try harder to be better, especially me. 

Also, we have maybe possibly developed some not great habits. We have silent conflicts... the kind where you can hear crickets chirping. Which isn't the same as not arguing, because we have the argument alone in our own heads, which, due to our unfortunate inability to read minds, gets us a whole lot'a nowhere. 

You know how when you decide to organize a closet, it can get pretty messy as you unpack years of "stuff"? Yah, same thing with marriage.  It doesn't mean everything is falling apart, but true self examination can be like cleaning your mirror and realizing you really need to pluck your mustache. Add to that some major "out-of-our-hands, and not-to-be-blogged-about" crises, and it piles up to a more challenging year than most. 

My closet cleaning has led me to learn a bunch about codependency.  I always thought codependancy was extreme, like when you are the 700 pound person stuck in your house and your spouse is the one bringing you 8 pounds of chow-mien and four pizzas a day.  Well, I don't do any of that, so I'm good, right?  

Uh, yeah, not so much.  It's a whole attitude thing.  While one action done in a certain frame of mind might not at all be codependant-y, the exact same action done with a different intention may absolutly be (you might not understand the technicalistic-ish lingo I am using here. I would never make up words to try to sound smarter. I'm pretty sure codependant-y is in the dictionary). If I bring you a brownie to be nice, thats, well, nice (unless you're on a diet, then that's just mean. Mean brownie-ing). If I do it to secretly obligate you to do something for me, say, pumice the barnacles off my scaly heals, that's a no-no.  Which seems cut and dry, but can be way harder to figure out when it's tiny little behaviors spread over two decades, let me tell ya. 

So to honor our year of marital closet cleaning, Guy and I threw together a last -minute anniversary get-away.  I hurried out that morning looking for an anniversary card that would magically fit the occasion, and I found SQUAT in an envelope for $4.99. Sometimes I would pick up a card and loudly moan at the 14 stanza syrupy soliloquy inside, before returning it to the slot it came from (only it wasn't the right slot, because the slot had mysteriously vanished, and I am mad at the card company now for wasting my time, so I don't care if I put it back in the right darn slot anymore).

Suddenly, I'm feeling snarky at everything.  Each card seems to be a lie. I can't buy a card that says, "Here's to another year of wedded bliss!"  It's wedded hard work!  And two rabbits in clothes making a toast isn't gonna cut it.

The anniversary cards are all in one little corner where the air conditioner is mysteriously making some eardrum bursting sound that apparently only I can hear, and now I am sympathizing with all the dogs I have tormented over the years with those silent dog whistles. The lady in the little store vest is doing the fakey-fake cheerful voice to everyone who walks in, and when she asks me if I'm finding everything I think I might have to punch her, because I don't need a card that says, "Pookie pie, our marriage is like a day at Disneyland and we both poop rainbows and I am now a wonderful person all because of YOU!"

(Wow, now I'm really crabby. Closet cleaning makes card buying hard.)

I need a card that says,

"Holy crap, dude.  That was a rough one.  Thanks for hanging in there with me."

I settle on a card that says, "Damn, I'm lucky."

Tessa scolds me for buying a card with a curse word on it.  Great, now I'm a crabby wife AND potty-mouth mom.

In the end, we had a nice little overnight escape.  We talked about our growth over the year, and consoled each other over the rough bits. We ate grown up food and a lot of chocolate, and wandered around in stores we would have been thrown out of if we'd had the miscreants with us.  And not once did I have to tell Guy to stop climbing on anything, so, yah, pretty good.

I think when you pile on a few years, you start getting better at certain things, and so God says, "Ok, they're ready for the next challenge", and something hits that would have turned you into a puddle a few years before.  I'm glad they don't all come at once. And I'm glad I have this good man at my side to ride the waves with, storms and all. Even if he still can't read my mind. 

Yup, I'm pretty *cus'word* lucky. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Tree Pickin'!

When you go to a pumpkin patch, you pick the biggest, roundest pumpkin you can carry, trade it out a few times for ones along the way that you like better, then you walk out of the patch smiling, sure you have THE BEST pumpkin on the planet, or at least in the patch.

Yeah, that is NOT how it works with Christmas trees.  Maybe it's because we are evil and should not kill an innocent tree for a leftover pagan ritual turned modern consumer trend.  I don't know, but it would seem that two tree snobs like Guy and I should NOT have to go to 5 tree lots to find a dead tree we both like!

(Maybe you should have started looking sooner than the 16th, you say?  Shush.)

Eventually we found ourselves back at the same hardware store parking lot that we have ended up at every year for 11 of our 12 Chrismas's here, regardless of where we start.

Guy found a tree he liked.  His priority was Fullness.
I found a tree I liked.  It had a nice top.  I'm a top girl.
Guy and I each held up our trees.  
We counted to three and told the kids to point at the one they liked...

Which cracked me the heck up.  
My tree was victorious!  
(Nano remained neutral.  I think that was wise).

Back at home the lights magically appeared on the tree (or I spent a really long time, profanity-free, of course, putting them on).  Yeah. Magic.

And *poof!*, it was decorated, without any squabbles or broken ornaments or anything.

The tree lost half it's needles by Christmas.  It sort of looked like a really tall tumbleweed.

Maybe Guy's tree would have been better.  
(shhh.  Don't tell him I told you so).