Tag Archives: celebrating birthdays

Celebrating With Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dances on Cloudy Days

15 Jul

So I stood there with my chocolate cupcake and chocolate frosting stopping time. Thinking about a day filed with tropical fish, jelly fish, penguins and sharks thinking about the seven years this amazing person has been in my life, mixed in with the eight-year anniversary of an awesome person leaving.

My daughter’s 7th birthday and my Dad’s passing.

It’s not a fun thing to feel a twinge of sadness on a day marked for happiness. It helped to remember that he liked to celebrate life on birthdays. My Dad enjoyed the sweetness of chocolate cake and frosting. He battled depression, but enjoyed laughing and feeling good. He didn’t like sadness and wanted to feel good, so he did what he could to make that happen. And that hard. He had his ups and downs, but he tried and succeeded on most days. Any chance at smiling he took it.

And so … on my daughter’s 7th birthday I did just that.

Any chance for smile and I took it.

Turning seven … that was something to smile about. The adventures of this little Ninja Warrior take me beyond smiles and go deep into laughter. She’s been the Rainbow Brite of my life during cloudy days.

On the last day of being six she mastered the blue and green water slides at the pool and cannon-balled her way to the 4 1/2 feet section of the pool.

“You don’t need to catch me,” she says.

On the last day of being six I didn’t catch her. But on the first day of being seven, I gave her the squishiest hug and the funkiest dance as we listened to the Beatles sing Today is Your Birthday.

I celebrated her contagious laughter and her impromptu Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dancer caliber happy dances after something good happens to her. I celebrated the awesome softball player she grew into. I celebrated the love she has for art, painting, drawing, coloring, and anything in the Bob Ross world. I celebrated her love for Multi-Grain Cheerios as her favorite breakfast meal, and Mortadella and Salami sandwiches as her favorite snack. I celebrate her enjoyment of baking cakes, cookies, and cupcakes, and laugh when she doesn’t want to eat them and just taste the frosting. I celebrated her adventurous spirit and willingness to give any kind of rollercoaster a try, as long as she meets the height requirement. I celebrated her love for hugs, that part I think was passed down to her from my Dad. I celebrated her love for the If You Give A Mouse a Cookie series of books and TV show. I celebrated her for being a caring sister who loves her brother so much that sometimes she bursts his personal space bubble. I celebrate her for being smart, strong, and sensitive at the same time. I celebrated her love for penguins at the aquarium and her first time touching baby sharks.

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We celebrated turning seven with a Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dancer caliber happy dance and that made any twinge of sadness disappear. I laughed and felt joy and I knew if my Dad was watching that day he would be cracking up too and feeling joy. His spirit still lives in me and in his granddaughter.

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

Dude … The Magic of Garth and Shark Week Living on 42

30 Jul

I felt like I was riding a wave of electricity in a thundolt-filled sky.

The energy brought life into my life, and for the third time in my existence, I crossed off a Bucket List Item in honor of my birthday. I wasn’t sure how I would celebrate the big 42. I wasn’t worried as much as when I turned 40. Not because it wasn’t a big day, it always is, but because both Jackie Robinson and James Worthy wore No. 42 jerseys, so that had to be a sign of awesomeness to come in my year of 42 … At least that’s what I thought.

But it was even better.

The Magic of Garth can overpower any bad spells on any given day, and turn a good day into a great night — the unforgettable ones that belong in The Jar of Awesome.

In spite of a couple of personal snags that evening, which could have sucked the blue out of the sky, I was still … STILL able to enjoy the sparkle and wonder of the Big Magic that is Garth Brooks. I had a little bit of it sprinkled on me as I experienced the musical testimony of of this cowboy dude. He had the power to erase bad conversations, frustrations, anger, and ill thoughts. He had the power of the ocean.

Two Pina Coladas. That Summer. Thunder Rolls. Unanswered Prayers. Shameless. Friends in Low Places. And … And his new song  Ask Me How I Know. Not to mention his duet with Trisha Yearwood and her solo songs that night.

And it was awesome. He left it all out on the stage and it was inspiring, contagious, live-your-life-like-this energy.

Definitely a great way to celebrate a birthday and live in the moment, in that live-your- life-like-Shark-Week moment I was talking about last week. Every single person surrounding me surged with the good vibes of country music’s finest.

 

I had never been to one of his concerts before, and now I know what I’ve been missing out on. It was a never-disappointed nighttime adventure.

The birthday celebration began with the greatness of the sandy beaches on a California coast with my kids, coupled with good food. Then the night …the night was filled with The Magic of Garth.

It was the kind of birthday weekend I like to imagine. It gave me a day to spend with my family and live the best mom life on the beach, riding waves and building sand castles under the Californian sun, and then The Night with Garth which fed my feel-good feelings soul of the regular Chapsiptick girl in me.

Blowing out birthday candles, wishing for big dreams, and Bucket List Adventures involving The Magic of Garth Brooks was a good way to ring in the Year of 42. Shark Week Living and Garth Brooks … Definitely a great combination.

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

Looking Through The Right Lens …

29 Jul

Turning the corner feels so good, when the day before seemed like such a nightmare.

I was secretly hoping things were going to get better but I didn’t want to jinx myself. It’s weird when people think like that, I know. But I was just hoping for a little luck from the universe, and it turns out, the universe was definitely conspiring with me that day.

Even though we had to cancel our Bucket List Adventures that day, turning 41 ended up being pretty good. I found so many tiny blessings that added up to such a cool day, small moments to be super grateful for, and if I hadn’t been looking, my perspective would have been so different. So glad I was looking through the right lens …

beach

🙂

 

101-degree fevers and vomit gone …

No traffic on the way and Flock of Seagulls on the radio …

Realizing it’s 99 degrees where you live but a cool 77 on your beach spot …

Warm sand, low tide, cool waters, and no beach space invaders …

Catching some awesome boogie board waves that make you feel like you’re on a the Travel Channel Special, in slow motion, and Morgan Freeman is narrating  …

Great picnic with no sand in the sandwiches …

Splashing in the waves, hearing my kids laugh, hearing my own laugh …

Relaxing on a Tommy Bahama Beach Chair and taking a moment, a couple actually, to check out the peaceful scene …

Driving out for an early dinner and not getting lost on the way …

Eating the best fish tacos I’ve had in 12 years … Duuuuude.

Driving home, in traffic, but kids watching Despicable Me and I’m bopping my head to The Boss, The Zac Brown Band, The Rolling Stones,Tears for Fears, The Beastie Boys, New Edition, and La Pollera Colorada … ahhh best mixed tape ever …

Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, flan, triple chocolate mousse, one candle, a happy birthday song, and a great wish waiting for me at home …

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

Small Moments On A Buen Camino …

25 Jul

101-degree fevers accompanied by vomit and tears?

It might end up being a tradition.

Maybe.

Three years in a row when everything that can go wrong does go wrong on the night before? Yeah, maybe. It’s Birthday Eve and I’m remembering last year and being in a somewhat similar position where things beyond my control were out of control. Well it’s happened again, only this time I had to cancel a trip because of it.

sea-cave-kayaing-santa-barbara

Image from Santa Barbara Adventure Company at Channel Islands National Park

 

No bucket list adventures for me this time around, no sea cave kayaking off the coast of California to ring in another year. The Birthday Eve bad luck bandit has struck again.

But …

It was Birthday Eve … it was Birthday Eve two years in  a row where I had to ask for grace and work hard to find the bits and pieces of gratitude throughout the day. It happened on Birthday Eve and I expected it continue onto the next day. But come sunrise things changed.

The universe decided to rain sunshine down on me and helped turn things around. I found spectacular moments to be grateful for on my adventure last year, and so I’m counting on that happening again. I’m counting on all that bad luck hitting the night before, making way for blessings and happy moments for the next day.  The day.

I was sad about cancelling our trip, our little get away on such short notice, but vomit, fever, and kids are unpredictable on vacation. So no hotels, no kayaks, no sea adventures.

So now Plan B is in full effect …

They’re turning the corner and health is looking up. So day trip is in my future tomorrow. Just a single day trip with small moments of happiness and gratitude throughout. That’s  what I’m hoping for …small moments that will eventually add up … small moments that turn the corner on a Buen Camino.

 

1

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superheroes To The Rescue

16 Jul

The emotional highs and lows of this weekend was more than any chocolate could handle. It took superhero strength to get me through Saturday and Sunday … the Batman and Wonder Woman kind.

 

:)

🙂

 

Celebrating my kids birthday party one day and then remembering the anniversary of my father’s death the next definitely took me for roller coaster ride of monstrous proportions. Thinking about my dad and knowing how much he would have loved our Superhero Bowling Party made it difficult for it to be a cartwheel-worthy experience.

Seeing my dad laugh and give my son a high five on his spectacular spare would have been great. Having him teach my daughter how to roll the ball down the lane and hit that one awesome pin that would eventually wobble and fall would have been even better.

 

My dad with my son ... thinking about future Grandpa stuff.

My dad with my son … thinking about future Grandpa stuff.

 

Not seeing him on lanes 11 and 12 celebrating my little Guats birthday party was a little difficult to handle, but seeing my son and daughter dressed up in their Justice League attire creating their own high-five moments made it a little easier. I don’t know how it’s possible to be happy and sad at the same time, but I was … emotions were all over the place, which was why I took a three-day weekend away from writing.

Luckily my two superheroes created moments that I wanted to witness and be present for, stuff like tiny bowling shoes, rolling their first strike, bustin’ out their best Justice-League-Defend-The-Universe pose, blowing out the candles on their awesome superhero cake, playing arcade games and being able to hit the 100+ ticket jackpot in the Slam-A-Winner Game that sent everyone in high-five mode. That was the stuff that helped me get through the day … well that and the craziness of a freeway closure due to an overturned semi-truck that made many people late to the party.

In addition the chaos of preschoolers, their parents, food party platters, and the bowling alley staff kept me busy enough to keep my emotions from spilling over in public. Although I don’t think that would have happened, I had more of a private chocolate-induced coma at the cemetery the day after the party. Those kind of emotions tend to put a damper on the Happy-Birthday-To-You moment as well as the unwrapping of the presents, so I kept them reserved for the next day. This was my weekend of roller coasters, so glad I had Wonder Woman and Batman riding along with me.

 

A little souvenir to get the party started ...

A little souvenir to get the party started …

 

Waiting ... waiting ... waiting for people to get passed the Sigalert on the highway and make it to the party.

Waiting … waiting … waiting for people to get passed the Sigalert on the highway and make it to the party.

 

My little Wonder Woman waiting for her turn to knock down some pins ... she bowled an 85 that day :)

My little Wonder Woman waiting for her turn to knock down some pins … she bowled an 85 that day 🙂

 

Getting reading to put the candles on the birthday cake ... so hoping I wouldn't drop it when I took it out of the box.

Getting ready to put the candles on the birthday cake … so hoping I wouldn’t drop it when I took it out of the box.

 

The Jackpot

The Jackpot

 

My daughter helping her older brother cash in his tickets

My daughter helping her older brother cash in his tickets

 

While opening his presents I made sure he opened all the cards. As a knock-knock enthusiast I was glad that my card cracked him up.

While opening his presents I made sure he opened all the cards. As a knock-knock joke enthusiast I was glad that my card cracked him up.

 

:)

🙂

 

Dozens of Argentinean and Chilean Penguins. Eight Stamps. One Nerd. And One Bike.

19 Jul

Today brought together a motley crew of highlights that seemed to blend together at the end of the day and make me smile. It was a fun-filled day, officially my son’s fourth birthday, and an awesome adventure for the nerd in me at The Aquarium of The Pacific.

The Aquarium

I mean really Argentinean and Chilean Penguins? I had no idea that penguins existed outside of arctic, glacier-filled environments, and said stuff like “Oye, todo bien, Che?”

I mean who knew? The Aquarium people knew. They got skills. Mad penguin and ocean animal skills.

Stuff like that seemed to fascinate me, it’s the nerd in me. Apparently there are seventeen kinds of penguins on Earth and most of them live in temperate regions. The ones I got to hang out with today were the Magellanic Penguins, which sadly happen to be an endangered species. I’m glad I got a chance to hang out with the Oye Che penguins.

The Penguins

But this little fact wasn’t the top contributor to my escalating nerd factor of the day. It was the stamps. The eight stamps. White Sea Bass, Pacific Seahorse, Collard Aracari, Whitetip Reef Shark, Magellanic Penguins, Anchovy, Dragon Sea Moth, and the Bonnethead Shark. I mean even before I put my hands on the Map & Visitor Guide I was vaguely familiar with half of these creatures, but by the end of the day I happen to know certain Trivial Pursuit-Jeopardy! type of information. It happens when the nerd comes out. It happens when you get stamp crazy.

As soon as I got that Map & Visitor Guide it was on. I saw the empty circles hanging out on the top-right corner of the pages. I mean I wasn’t a middle-school student trying to finish an Earth Science assignment for my third period teacher. I wasn’t going to get a prize from the aquarium volunteers for getting all eight stamps. But I was still on a mission to get all of the embossing stamps on my map and visitor guide. My son found this scavenger hunt pretty enjoyable, but in truth it was the nerd in me that enjoyed it too. Maybe more than my son.

At the end of the day I was missing just one: The Pacific Seahorse. It was past lunch time. Past nap time. But the nerd in me overpowered the mom in me and I took an extra five minutes to return to the Southern California Baja Gallery to look for the embossing station. And there it was hanging out by the exhibit, being used by elementary and middle school students. I was last in a line of three.

The Guide

As I finished getting the last stamp in my book, I felt a woo-hoo! resonate in my Pointdexter soul. I smiled, excited to tell my son who was hanging out by the Nemo tropical fish tank. As I turned to see other kids waiting to use the station I felt a little out-of-place. But then I noticed two adults holding onto their visitor guides. Page 11 sticking out, ready to get the stamp and then it was all good, because the visitor guide brought out the nerd in everybody.

And yes he was as excited. My son was as excited as I’d hoped he’d be. Maybe not as excited as when he got his miniature scuba diving guy for the bathtub, but nevertheless excited. Mission complete.

But his birthday wasn’t quite over yet we stopped by Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., which is awesome by the way. So awesome that I might have to write a separate post on this restaurant tomorrow. They sang him happy birthday and he dove into a hot fudge sundae.

But that wasn’t even the best part …

The Red Racer

We made our way through traffic, which sort of dazed the excitement factor, and finally made it home. And there it was sitting in the patio waiting for him.

A red Specialized super awesome bike, to replace the one they stole. No SpiderMan decals this time, just a clean read bike. And an ecstatic four-year old with his Lightning McQueen helmet.

Dozens of Argentinean and Chilean Penguins. Eight stamps. One nerd. And one bike. This is what my son got for his fourth birthday.

The Initiation of the Little Guat

13 Jul

I didn’t get there last time and believe me, it wasn’t because I didn’t try. We were making all kinds of traffic infractions, but I just didn’t make it. The process happened so fast so I missed the window of opportunity.

Even though people tell you, you forget the pain, they lie. Because you recognize it when it hits your abdomen. Then comes your back. Your aching back. It’s so excruciating that profanity constantly fills the room. You try not to, but it just comes out. Even in a Catholic Hospital.

Granted everyone’s experience is quite different, but everyone feels pain, even a little. If they say they don’t, that’s probably because the drugs are working.

These pains caused me such agony that I was calling on all Gods and Powers that be to make sure I had made it in time — made it to the window of opportunity. The Epidural Opportunity.

Now I’m not a wuss, and my pain threshold is pretty high, but there was no need to test my limits. Really there wasn’t. I had gone through that entire process before and let’s just say that I’m not a fan pain. Just because I can take it, doesn’t mean I should do it again.

And yes … yes this time, the window of opportunity was still there.

But all that pain, agony, swearing, and needles shoved into my veins brought me the joys of motherhood once again. A year ago today my daughter was born, and we celebrated her initiation into The Guat Family with a little cake, a little bouncer, and a few games. Her big party, along with my son’s is on Sunday, but the memory was created today.

Trying to play some games

One year of limited sleep.

One year of 2 a.m. feedings.

One year of 6 a.m. wake up calls.

One year of washing 20 Doctor Brown baby bottle parts a day.

One year of dirty Huggies diapers.

One year of random screaming.

One year of purchasing multiple pacifiers.

One year of people trying to give me pink things even though they know I hate pink.

One year of baby-proofing stuff that is never really baby proof.

One year of vaccinations and the crying that goes with it.

One year of crying because she’s sleepy.

One year of crying because she’s hungry.

One year of crying because she’s teething.

One year of crying for no reason.

One year of losing my mind.

One year of giggles.

One year of enthusiastic screaming when I enter the room.

One year of baby dancing when she hears music.

One year of watching a brother love his sister.

One year of smiles.

One year of puppy-dog eyes.

One year of ten tiny toes and ten tiny fingers.

One year of another little Guat hanging around.

One year today.