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I Found My Peace Among the Kitchen-Aid Mixer and Melted Chocolate … Happy 70th Birthday Dad

31 Jan

70 is a big birthday. It’s a time to reflect on your life, think about vacation plans, hobbies, or things you have yet to try, dreams you have yet make real. At least that’s what I imagine it to be … a big cake, surrounded by family and friends, some chaos of course, but making an awesome wish and blowing out the candles anyway.

This, of course, did not happen.

I spent the early morning running at the park as the sun peaked out for its daily appearance. I took some time to pause for a moment and wonder what he would have been up to or what conversations we would have had that day if he was still here. I imagine I would have woken him up to take a morning walk and then possibly taken him out to breakfast.

Nothing flashy, but just time well spent hearing stories I had yet to hear.

My Dad would have turned 70 years old yesterday and as it happens every year his presence is missed even more on this particular day. Father’s Day and Thanksgiving are big ones of course, but his birthday celebrates the day he was brought into this world and the day his journey, and ultimately mine, began.

Birthdays are times for celebration and remembering the best parts of the life cut short, but I couldn’t help feel that nagging twinge of pain, the kind that never goes away when you lose a parent, or loved one. The thing is you’re not supposed to be in mourning, you’re just not. But there is a moment of sadness that grips my heart because he’s not sharing the same sunshine.

And I tried not to let it hold onto me too long, because the sadness can linger all day or all week. You miss them. You just do and you’re always going to miss them because their presence was more powerful than the butterfly effect. It directly impacted your future and your kids’ future.

It wasn’t until I was alone in the kitchen mixing up Julia Child’s chocolate almond cake with hot cocoa almond frosting that a calmness settled in. I knew he wasn’t going to be there to enjoy a hearty slice or two with his cup of coffee. I knew there would be no stories and laughter at the table.

Then why do you celebrate someone who’s not there?

I celebrate because I remember when they were here and it mattered. His imprint and voice still effects how I live my life, and how I dream my dreams. I celebrate even though I’m sad. And even though I couldn’t hear his laughter that day and see him blow out his candles I knew my kids would.  I knew they would have a couple of slices and that there would be new stories at family dinner.

My Dad on his adventure

Not many people in my inner circle know how this pulls at me in different directions. I don’t speak much about my dad’s birthday with others when they ask, hey what are you doing today?

I don’t mention the cake, or balloons, or dinner of his favorite treats. I tell the kids, of course, but I keep it pretty hush-hush which is weird because I write about him and his birthday a lot. Don’t know if that happens to other people, but writing about it feels better than talking about it. At least to adults anyway. The kids just … they just seem to get it. They get that birthdays are important. It’s simple for them. Frosting is required when things are important.

And so …

I found my peace among the Kitchen-Aid Mixer, melted chocolate, butter, flour, the egg whites, and sugar. I remembered some of the stories of him playing soccer when he was 10, or of his dream of taking his mother back to Spain, I remember his affinity for corn-beef sandwiches on rye bread with a pickle for lunch, or his cup of coffee before bedtime, or his random call just to say hello. I remembered some of the stories yesterday and thought about him as the breeze blew and I felt the wind on my face as the sun shined.

I thought maybe that was his way of blowing out the candle, while we sang Happy Birthday.

But it could have been just the wind, like my kids said. And I needed to hurry up because the candle wax was dripping and it couldn’t melt on the cake … you know … because frosting is important.

 

Buen Camino my friends.

 

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Not A Lot of Luck, But Don’t Forget About The Heart

10 Dec

I thought I used to be somebody.

You’re nothing. Never gonna be nothing. Never gonna go anywhere.

When you’re at the bottom … that’s when big changes start.

For someone that didn’t have much luck he had a lot of heart, and that’s what made me root for him. He reminded me of me.

Heart can be the difference.

Recently I had forgotten how important that lesson was until I saw Invincible again. I forgot how important heart is,  not that I didn’t think it was an important value to have, I’ve always thought it was, I’ve always had it. But others hadn’t seen it in the same way.

There were people around me who felt that “resume” values had more weight in life than “eulogy” values. The corner office, the nice ride, the nice house, the big account … don’t get me wrong it would be nice to have that, and everyone strives for financial security and a stable life. Everyone is out there hustling for it, including me, but heart came in third or fourth for some of those people. Maybe because they valued it less.

I saw the movie at the right time and at the right moment. Just to set me straight. Just because others see nothing, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something there. Everyone has a comeback inside of them, behind the disappointment, bad luck, and heartache. Everyone has one.

One of my favorite moments of the movie was when Vince turned one of the most painful moments of his life into motivation. He turned it into something … into this force inside of him. He dug deep and found his heart.

His wife left him and in the empty apartment left a note … You’re nothing. Never gonna be nothing. Never gonna go anywhere.

He turns that into something.

He doesn’t throw the note out, or burn it. He brings it with him, and it stays with him when he tries out for the Philidelphia Eagles. He puts it in his locker. He looks at it everyday.  It drives him. When he’s at the very bottom he still has his heart.

Never really much luck, but a lot of heart.

I like that moment. I like that he turned something painful  into something good. He embraced that eulogy value when he had nothing, no resume values.

But in the end you remember what people were like, how they made you feel,  and how they treated you, not what kind of job they had, or how much money they made. You remember if they were gracious during good times, or spiteful and hurtful during bad ones.

Heart. And the power of the underdog. Those are some eulogy values I hope to pass onto my kids, the same values I hope not to forget again, the ones I hope will continue to drive me.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

All Because I Dropped The Whipped Cream

25 Nov

It was the sweet, white, cloud of goodness you’d expect to melt in your mouth along with the pumpkin pie. The homemade tastiness of whipped cream, the kind that Julia Child and the whole Food Network crew would be proud to see.

And I thought it would be safe in the fridge.

I thought.

But as I opened the refrigerator door the large silver mixing bowl came tumbling down and plopping my fluffly delight all over the kitchen floor. It was like a slow motion car accident in a Michael Bay movie and all you heard was a distorted noooooooooooo coming from my mouth as I tried to prevent this kitchen catastrophe. But my reaction time was not fast enough. I couldn’t save it. It was 4:50 p.m. I’d have to go back to the supermarket and try to find some glucose infested spray can of Reddi Whip dairy topping.

And so in this defeated state, I prepared myself for the worst crowd ever. As I drove I turned on some tunes to try and find the bright side of this voyage and I caught a commercial that made me think of the most important dude on Thanksgiving.

My dad.

There I was crabby and irritated that there would be no whipped cream left on Earth and that the family would look at me with those I-can’t-believe-you-dropped-the-whipped-cream-on-the-floor-you-ruined-dessert-on-Thanksgiving look.

My dad on the other hand would have laughed about it, patted me on the shoulder, and then given me a ride. Just like that.

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My Dad 🙂

That would have been his attitude.

So it was fitting that on my way to rescue dessert I heard a commercial about the free-range turkeys my dad used to sell for Thanksgiving. Hundreds and hundreds of them stored in the large Rocky Balboa type fridge, and me freezing my butt off taking inventory and helping my dad. 10-12 pounds. 12-14 pounds. 14-16 pounds. 16-18 pounds. 18-20 pounds. All the way up to 34 pounds. Those boxes were heavy. I hated those boxes. Those boxes were my high school, college, and post graduate school life. I inventoried each and every one. I hated those inventory cards. Every year, those cards would come out and I would dread it.

And now that my dad passed away, the cards are gone, and so are the boxes. They are no longer a part of my Thanksgiving. We would have to buy the bird. Diestel of course. But everything else was gone. They usually don’t make commercials, I had never heard commercials for these birds, like ever … until Thursday.

And so I pulled over to the side of the road and listened as the universe sent me an extra hello from my dad. It was the smallest of the smallest things, but it brought him back to me again.

It was just a commercial … I know, but it was a commercial I needed to hear on Thanksgiving Day … a commercial I needed to hear as I was on my way to pick up some not-so-fresh whipped cream … a commercial that made me smile when I really needed it.

This is not to say that I wasn’t thinking about him, I always do, especially on Thanksgiving. It’s his holiday. But this was something extra. Something that might not have happened if the whipped cream disaster hadn’t taken place, and so that was something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend.

Whipped Cream disasters, radio commercials, a supermarket parking spot at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and a can of Reddi Whip.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

The Dodger Blues on Dia de Los Muertos

3 Nov

Heartbreaking agony the kind that brings that pang-pang-paning in my chest that only a true fan can feel.

The Blues.

When every fiber of your being is crushed because you dreamed their same dream and wished for them to make it to the top of the mountain, you’ve been wishing for it ever since you watched them take it in 1988, but it looks like you’re gonna have to wait a little bit longer.

Just a little I tell myself.

But through championships and heartbreaks I’m still with My Boys in Blue and remain a fan … always.

A fan who takes at least 24-48 hours to recover from this, a fan who was celebrating Dia de Los Muertos yesterday and feeling the Blues of a dream gone wrong throughout the day.

But things looked better today, don’t know if it was because of Friday, but the feel-goods were trying to make a comeback. They didn’t quite pierce through, but the agony is gone yet disappointment remains. And there are all kinds of people with their what-if-scenarios blabbering about on social media as if they have MLB coaching skills and experience, but no one can really predict the outcome. You can HOPE, based on what you believe to be true, on past performances. But in baseball, as with other sports, there are all kinds of variables that affect the scoreboard. All you can do is believe and give it everything you got. Grit pulls you through when every other avenue seems to be failing. My boys fell short but they made for an epic World Series run.

And as their season was laid to rest on Nov 1st, the next day came about … the last day of festivities for Dia de Los Muertos and it seemed somewhat fitting, you know … The realization of the death of a dream to fall on the Day of the Dead. And so I made my way to the cemetery, wearing my Dad’s Dodgers cap and settling in for a long talk about our beloved team and the insane ups-and-downs of the series.

I talked about other things of course, how big the kids were getting, how he would have enjoyed my son’s hockey games, or playing catch with my daughter, or the pumpkin patch adventure. He would have smiled at the sound of their laughter and exhaled loudly during their play-with-me-you-never-ever-play-with-me exaggerated arguments between each other.

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The kids bringing their best …

We brought things that might have lifted his spirit after the Dodgers loss. Purple and green jars with the festive nature of this holiday, plants, flowers, surprises, and decorative vibes all in an effort to send him messages of love and reverence. Messages to let him know that we remember him and pray for him during his spiritual journey were something we sent his way and I hope he felt that.

Buen Camino my friends … Buen Camino

 

 

 

 

Feel-Good Flashbacks, Dodgers Baseball, and Freshly Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies

26 Oct

As a kid there are certain flashbacks that warm your heart and make you smile, that give you that feel-good-feeling vibe … like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Flashbacks you hope  last longer than a flicker. You try to hold onto them because they feel so good, they’re filled with love and peace, laughter and heart. You want to keep some of that. Unfortunately there were no Kodak captures of these nights, but I remember them and the pictures in my mind feel like old Polaroids. Faded, but cherished. And there are a few things that can help enrich their color and bring them back to life, to help me feel what I felt back then.

And it happened.

For two nights in a row, I felt the magic of the past.

The power of sports brought him back to me and I was grateful for the memory. I traveled through time and all it took was some Dodger Blue.

1988. That’s when it happened.

It was the biggest event of my city and everyone was watching. The world didn’t stop, but my city was focused on one thing and I was with the most important dude in my life when this happened. I was hanging out with my Dad watching the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

I didn’t realize how big that moment would be until I got much older and had kids of my own. But that game wasn’t just a game, it was a memory that would come back to me and remind me that family shares big moments, high-five moments that fill your heart when it’s on empty. They give you something to hold onto when you need a line.

Orel Hershiser took the mound and eventually pitched his way into a World Series Championship. I wanted Fernando, I’d watched Fernando for a long time and we were big fans. He was one of favorites, but that series belonged to Hershiser and I remembered my Dad’s excitement after the win. Witnessing something big like that brings you closer together somehow. You experience a magic that may not ever happen and it’s amazing.

Hanging out in our old apartment, the one with chocolate shag carpet and the television with rabbit ears antenna didn’t seem that special at the time, but it’s one of the most awesome experiences I’ve had. I remember beating Conseco and just feeling the wow in the air because of that victory. The city was behind them. Excitement was everywhere. We believed.

And I remembered it. I felt it again.

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🙂

I remembered it when the Dodgers won the NLCS Championship game this year, I remembered it after their first 3-1World Series win over the Astros and after the second game where Houston evened it up in a most epic battle going into extra innings. I remembered it, because my son was sitting next to me, and my daughter was standing in front of me. I wore my Dad’s Dodgers cap and remembered it as I sat on the bed. I remembered it as my son watched the game with me and we rooted for the Dodgers to take the lead. I remembered the moment and tried to hold onto that flashback as long as I could, but it disappeared. But I was glad to have lived in it’s presence if only for a few minutes.

I looked at my daughter and son and hoped that they’d want many flashbacks. I’d hoped they’d want to hold onto them too. I hope that 10, 20, or 30 years from now they remember the time they watched the World Series with me and it was just as good if not better than freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

Windmills, Æbleskiver, and My Uncle Erick

23 Sep

A ride along the coast through windy roads and mountain tops, through heavy clouds and mist, I found the small town that sparked the sunshine and gave us smiles good enough to be sealed in by the Jar of Awesome.

 

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With all the wineries and quaint feel good vibes of this small town, I had a flashback of Miles from the movie Sideways and his wine-tasting montage, without the comedic angry outbursts, of course. I was out and about on a quick getaway to find out what this Danish Days Festival was all about, and in the process I discovered the awesomeness of Æbleskiver.

 

 

Now I couldn’t even pronounce it. But they knew what I wanted when I got there and this was the place to get them. I was lucky to come before the lunch time rush and I only had to wait about ten minutes in line. But after I got my order, the people behind me weren’t so lucky. The line got pretty crazy and they were there at least 30 minutes.

Yeah. They were that good. Flaky, fluffy, sweet, tasty treats sprinkled with powered sugar and hitting the spot.

Now normally I wouldn’t drive about three hours anywhere for food I could probably buy in the melting pot of our culinary city, but this little town was a place my Uncle Erick liked to go to when family visited from out of town. He enjoyed the drive along the coast, the vibe of the place, the peace of a small town, the wineries, pastry and coffee shops on every corner. He enjoyed feeling like a tourist as he walked around admiring the architecture and enjoying the food. He smiled when he was there. It probably reminded him of his trip to Europe, and he liked the quick three-hour getaway down memory lane. I felt it would be a good excuse to go, Danish Days Festival, I mean come on … Viking stuff, Legos, woodcarving, music, dancing, kids jamboree, parades, and tiny wooden shoes.

This spoke of adventure. As soon as I told my kids Legos and food with powered sugar was involved they were on board.

 

 

And so we toured the place and felt the vibe. I could see what my Uncle Erick enjoyed about it, but most of all I remembered my Uncle Erick and his willingness for three-hour road trips just to get the family together, just to try something new. I remembered my uncle as I watched the woodcarver make art from blocks of Redwood, I remembered my Uncle Erick as we watched the parade, I remembered my Uncle Erick as I saw the windmills and the city sign, I remembered my Uncle Erick as I sat to eat the Æbleskiver,  I remembered my Uncle Erick, the dreamer who always wanted something better and never stopped looking for it, the one who loved his daughter above all else, the one I looked up to as a kid, and the one my kids never met because he died before they were born, but I know he would loved to hang out with them.

I remembered my Uncle Erick and told stories about him all day.

Buen Camino my friends.

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Inspired by Hanna-Barbera … Duct Tape Adventures Return

3 Sep

I look forward to this adventure every year, it takes me back to my seven-year old self, the one watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons on Saturday mornings.

I’ve told you about this before, my love for these kinds of races and the origin of it all …

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Cartoons were a big deal to me back then, that’s where I got most of my fantastic ideas. And this one — the Wacky Races —  has always stayed with me. So when I heard about this cardboard boat regatta down by the beach a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance to participate in the fun. It’s actually turned into a family tradition. Something I hope my kids will look back on fondly.

The entire process jazzes me up. From conception to creation to craftsmanship. The annual cardboard boat regatta challenges the small artist I have in me. I’ve learned to enjoy the process, the trials and errors, the measure twice and cut once philosophy, the entire duct tape process, being present, and enjoying the building part with my kids was one of the many takeaways from this experience. I’ve been grateful enough to remember it every year. The actual race takes about five minutes so enjoying every bit of the process leading up to that helps slow time down and increase the gratitude factor. I’m glad I can remind myself of this, but feel even happier that I’ve introduced my kids to this life lesson. So it’s a win-win.

Creativity happens here and I’ve learned that it involves duct tape. I look forward to the seven rolls of duct tape that make my vessel seaworthy. This year it was five rolls of Gorilla Tape and two of silver duct tape, not that it matters or anything, but thought I’d share the supply list in case you wanted to get creative too.

The multiple trips to the local Do-It-Yourself Hardware Center become a weekly adventure during our creative process. I enjoy seeing whether or not the finished product meets my kid’s expectations. Most of the time it does, last year, it was so amazing that I even patted myself on the back. This year was a little trickier, considering inspiration came from Despicable Me 3, Gru’s car, and his minions of course. But we managed and came up with this …

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Gru’s Car/Speedboat

Cardboard and duct tape. Total Festivus Miracle! And not only was the creative process enjoyable, we also ended up winning our heat. For the second year in a row, after losing the first few years, we paddled our way to the finish line first, without sinking and eventually placed third overall in the parent-child category.

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Making it to the finish line … smiling all the way.

But in addition to paddling our way down the pool, hanging out with and talking to the other boat makers was so much fun. I enjoyed seeing some of the masterpieces and listening to the inspiration behind it all.

 

 

My son really enjoyed the Star Wars vessel and my daughter loved the Moana boat, but I have yet to recover the picture for that one. My favorite was of course this white one.

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AMAZING!

 

I couldn’t believe it when I saw this whole boat made out of cardboard, but it was only for display and not for racing purposes. The creative process on this one must have been great.

 

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🙂

Everyone ended up having a good time. Don’t know if they were inspired by Hanna Barbera, but something inspired them and the inventiveness came through in the form of cardboard and duct tape creations. Remembering that the process and being present were just as important as paddling to the finish brought sunshine to my heart.

Buen Camino my friends!

The Year of Eight … A Year of Firsts And Freeze Frames

19 Jul

Cupcakes after midnight …

A buddy of mine left this awesome flair for words for me last week. Sounds accurate … on so many levels.

I find myself again … baking after midnight and preparing for the first day of being nine and reminiscing on the last days of being eight. I think about him knowing my Dad the first two years of his life only, but having good thoughts about the time spent together.

Eight was a good year, some ups and downs, but overall a good year. A year of firsts.

 

The Year of Eight we took to the ice. First time playing hockey, first time scoring goals, first time for a hat trick, first time a sport gets his complete undivided attention. First time we have to wake up at 5 a.m. to be at a sporting event at 6 a.m.

First time for Boy Scout Adventures in the Great Outdoors and earning badges. First time for Pinewood Derbies and being proud of the green roadster we constructed. First time for Rocket Academies, archery and BB guns. Rockets being the favorite as we successfully launched them into the sky.

First time for reading Roald Dahl and loving Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, first time for reading all his books. First time for exploring so many books that I lost count but he continued with science adventure books about kids being his favorites.

First time for learning tough lessons about friends in third grade, and how sometimes they’re not so friendly. First time for brushing off the disappointment and then learning to chug along.

First time I hear that he wants to slow time down because things are going too fast, so I teach him about daily gratitude and being present in the moment. First time he tries it and it works. The sweet spot of Jar of Awesome moments last longer and time slows for a moment.

First time for jumping off the diving board at the swimming pool, took the swim test and passed the first time. Best cannonball ever. First time we won our cardboard boat race, it was the Dalmatian Monster Mutt that took us to victory. First time for Sandbox List Adventures to be crossed off, like being an America Ninja Warrior for the day, trying to climb that warped wall and tackle the obstacles. The first year for The Jar of Awesome …

The Year of Eight was a great year of firsts for my kid. I’m grateful I get the chance to write that letter for him and remember these things. I try to catch them in this time capsule because even though I slow things down, slow is too fast for these moments. Freeze frame seems more appropriate.

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But it just wasn’t a year of firsts there were many seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths … I remember all the times he got lost in the world of Legos, creating cities, battles, movies, and Star Wars scenes. I remember all the mini-figures he mixed and matched to create new characters in stories. I remember him wanting to play chess and always ready to setup the Star Wars chess set. He always wanted to be the good guys. I remember his love of chocolate, all kinds of chocolate, Kit Kats, Snickers and M&Ms being some of his favorites, although he also likes Doritos and discovered the wonders of Extra Spearmint Gum. I remember him discovering Minecraft, Minion Rush, Star Wars Commnader and Fruit Ninja on the iPad. I remember him waking up before 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings just to watch cartoons, The Jungle Bunch, Lego Star Wars Freemaker Adventures, Pokemon, Wild Kratts, Star War Rebels, SpongeBob, and The Lion Guard just to name a few. I remember how he always looked forward to Shark Week every year, marking the calendar and having a countdown of his own. Great White Shark is his favorite. I remember how he still wants to be a firefighter when he grows up.

I remember dancing to his feel-good songs and him cutting loose, every time. He feeeeeeels the music and he is the best Solid-Gold-Soul-Train-dancer in the house. Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal and Bruno Mars are some of his favorites. Although 80s always rule in the house. 80s and The Beatles. He smiles as I watch him dance and it’s priceless. I loved the Year of Eight dance moves.

I remembered all that tonight and more …

So tonight I hugged my eight-year old one last time before going to bed, one last time before he turned nine tomorrow morning. I hugged him extra tight, and took an extra breath as he was squished between my arms. He smelled like Dove soap. I held him tighter. I was trying to freeze-frame it. I asked him how his last day as an eight-year old turned out to be and he said it was awesome …

 

I rode my bike in the morning. Played some Legos. And then went to the Ninja Gym and did some America Ninja Warrior stuff, I got to the fourth wobbly cube, the green one. And then we had ice cream for dinner. It was awesome. Tomorrow I’ll be nine. I think it’s gonna be great …

 

The Year of Eight was good and now The Year of Nine begins. It begins with me baking, not cupcakes this time, but cake … cake after midnight. Chocolate, of course.

 

 

 

 

Simple Moments and Evacuating The Premises … Immediately

7 Jul

Feeling miserable isn’t one of the things I enjoy talking about, you just wake up and that ugh feeling is staring at you. You try to get your inner Wonder Woman vibe on and you feel it somewhere, you know you’ve got it, it’s just hitting the snooze button I guess.

I mean I was feeling good with that 4th of July fireworks extravaganza and ball game, where my favorite pitcher on Earth rocked it and the fireworks just wowed the kids and myself.  You were toe-tapping to R-O-C-K in the USA by Cougar-Mellencamp and just feeling the vibe with Ray Charles singing that America the Beautiful.

That whole experience made for an awesome holiday, so I couldn’t understand why I woke up flat and just feeling the blah … of the day. That bad mood voodoo took over and funkified my whole outlook. And you know it’s you, when nobody does anything and everything seems to irritate you, like the kind of irritated you get when you’re hangry. 

I had to check myself.

I needed to evacuate the premises immediately.

So I grabbed the Coppertone 1005 SPF and the swimsuits and headed for the pool. The beach was too far and the freeway would have made the irritability worse, so I needed a fast fix and the pool seemed to work it’s magic. Nothing like racing your kids on the blue and red water slides to help bring your inner Wonder Woman mojo out.

The fact that we were not sweating out the 104-degree heat at home brought a smile to my face. I sat on the edge of the pool with my legs feeling the light resistance of the cool water and I looked up. I felt the warmth of smile as I watched my kids enjoy the Willly Wonka-like splish-splash structure. And it was good. A calm feel-good vibe sat with me, and I enjoyed the simplicity of the moment. I forgot about the morning moodiness and that’s always a good thing to put in your rear view mirror. If I had that gratitude journal right there, I’d mark that moment as the highlight of the day, bottle it up for the next time.

It wasn’t anything fancy, rich, or epic. It was just old-school and simple, like the times in the old neighborhood when we’d splash around Marisolita’s giant plastic pool from K-mart. Everyone from Apartment 2 all the way to Apartment 9 would be out there swimming around for hours. And when it was time to go because our fingers and toes pruned up, we’d ask for five more minutes. Just five more. Then we’d empty out all the water on the stairs to create our own make-shift Raging Waters slide adventures.

Simple stuff, but pretty awesome when you’re in the moment. So I’m glad I caught it.

Evacuating the premises appeared to be good idea … that and cannonballs.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

Road Trips and Rain Man

1 Jul

Road trips make or break a family, whether it’s an hour escape to the beach, three-hour drive to Legoland, or a longer one across state lines. They often remind me of Chevy Chase’s quest to have a great vacation for his own family.

So when I recently packed the car, filled up the gas tank, and took off, I went with fingers crossed that I wouldn’t have to stop the car and resort to my “mom” voice. Road trip adventure. Definitely a Bucket List item, but one I feared. Road trips. I love them and hate them. I hadn’t taken the kids on a road trip this long, four hours had been the maximum, so when this unexpected trip happened I wondered whether we’d make it up Highway 5 for six hours. I remember taking road trips in the 80s, when my dad would pile us in the brown station wagon, no computers or Game Boys back then, just hangman or sleep.  Three hours back then seemed like forever, but now I was on the verge of a six-hour adventure.

Woo-Hoo!

And whenever anyone goes on a road trip, some memories stand out more than others. I enjoy the pictures, some of them help me remember things that belong in The Jar of Awesome. Everyone has different highlights of their family trips and some end up being spectacular National Geographic photos, while others get sent to the recycling bin. I get lucky and take one awesome shot from time to time. But this was more of my Rain Man adventure.

I love that movie. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, and Dustin Hoffman rocked it. I still have it on VHS and I crack myself up that I still own it this way.

Anyhow during the movie they go on a road trip and Rain Man documents the trip with a camera. He takes pictures of important things and then pretty random things. He’s taking it all in. His pictures come out at the end of the movie when the credits are rolling. Some of the pictures that my kids took reminded me of  that scene. Landscapes. Sunny faded out landscapes. It brought a smile to my face and helped me remember the different points along the road.

The pictures reminded me to keep things slow, that sometimes random moments are good ones, that patience on a road trip is essential, and most of all unplug myself from the world when I can, which in truth comes fairly easy because the Internet and social media aren’t really all that important. Netflix and mobster movies … well that’s something else. And you can’t really blame me either, I mean Rain Man could not even unplug himself from Judge Wapner. Five minutes to Wapner. Five minutes to Wapner.

Buen Camino my friends!

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The Beginning … sort of.

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 … of our long windy road …

 

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running into multiple farms on our way …

 

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… taking our best Rain Man photos …

 

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… on our five-six hour journey up the highway …

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… with a couple of pit stops on our way …

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To our final destination …

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