Get Swept Up In Seahawks Fever For The Right Reasons!

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I am adding this pre paragraph post game:  Wrote this before the game but as chagrined and devastated as I am by the way this game played out in the last 24 seconds – I still love these guys.  Bless them and their big ol” football guy hearts.

So here we sit a mere two hours from the start of the Super Bowl.   Silly as it is, I am nervous and excited and proudly wearing my Seahawk shirt (stolen from my son’s drawer).    I have followed sports my entire life thanks to the influence of four brothers – in particular the two who were closest in age to myself.  They spent entire car trips tutoring me in the names of Pro Franchises and their nicknames and their starting quarterbacks. Those names may no longer be current – but the interest in competitive

tvsports was sparked and thus began a lifelong love for watching and participating in sports of nearly any kind.  Being the kind of brothers that they were, they also spent many patient hours tutoring me in the mechanics of how to throw a football and baseball and patiently explained the rules of games as we watched them on our little black and white TV with the rabbit ears.   If memory serves me correctly, as the youngest I believe I was also ordered to be the person who held those rabbit ears at various angles for hours on end to ensure we could have continued coverage of televised games, but the thrill of being included in my older brothers activities seemed to be payment enough for cramped arm muscles at the time.

I will admit that I have been “Fair Weather Fan”  of the Seattle Seahawks.  But really?  Who cares?  Aren’t we allowed to jump on the bandwagon and run amok and immerse ourselves in the fun?  It is not like I have been unaware of them over the years.  My oldest prodigal son has been reading the sports page since he was four and quoting statistics and names at me so I have kept abreast of trades and options and players on the Seahawks and Mariners.  Even on the day when my Mommy instincts were to run from the room screaming “I don’t care about Jay Buhner’s batting average!  Stop the madness!”   I would smile and nod and pretend interest because it was so important to him.   At a certain age he finally noticed my glazed look and waited until his Dad got home to discuss these world changing events and I actually missed those conversations.

mojo seahawk scarfBut I digress.  Today is all about the Seahawks. Seattle is swept up in a fit of green and blue madness and it could not be more fun!   My crafty friends have delivered customized dog scarfs for the neighborhood canines to proudly flaunt, fingernails are being painted in a myriad of blue and green and custom designs, and downtown lights have become custom green and blue with 12th man flags and signs everywhere.   My brother reported that at Costco yesterday someone started the familiar “Sea”  “Hawk” seattle citychant and soon the entire populace of the store had picked up the chant and it echoed around the entire store!   My sister reported that on a flight into Seattle the flight attendants started the chant and she almost (almost) felt sorry for the persons on the plane who weren’t from Seattle.  One of the bands at our high school jazz event last night dressed entirely in Seahawks attire and one cannot walk forty feet in public without seeing at least five people dressed in trademark blue and green apparel.

How can you not get caught up in the fun?

Which is the question I wanted to ask the lady at the gym on Thursday.

My Thursday cycling class is taught by a Seahawk maniac.  She loves her team and makes no effort to conceal her pure adoration of their gamesmanship.  She dresses in blue and green, dresses her cat in blue and green, decorates her apartment in blue and green – she may even sweat blue and green.   She yells at us to go “Beast Mode” in class, has certain moves that she has named after her favorite players and admits to feeling a bit creepy that she thinks Russell Wilson is hot even though she’s thirty years older than him.  But she is fun and sincere in her excitement over this football team and 90% of her class has dressed in Seahawks gear for the last several weeks.  Again I ask, “How can you not get caught up in the fun?”

The answer to that question would be “I guess if you are the snotty brunette at the gym with the superior attitude.”

I overheard a conversation at the gym last Thursday as we were leaving class in a pile of laughter and sweaty blue and green clothing and yelling “Go Hawks!” to one another that had me shaking my ponytail in frustration.

One perfectly made up woman to another “I am so sick of this whole Seahawk thing.   It’s just a bunch of dumb jocks running around trying to hurt each other.  I won’t allow it in my house.  My children are not going to be raised witnessing that kind of brutality.”

I stopped dead in my tracks and whipped my head around to see if she was joking.  Nope.  Miss Too Much Makeup At The Gym was pursing her molten red lipsticked mouth and shaking her hair sprayed head as if she were being interviewed for Fox News.

I stood there mouth agape and nearly laughed out loud. Really?  I gave her a raised eyebrow “What the F look” but she was too busy being righteous to notice so I dismissed her and continued on my way in my sweat soaked Seahawk t-shirt and headband, but the whole scene has been niggling at my consciousness for three days now.   I’m not one to pick a fight in public (I do not need my family commenting about this.  Principled indignation and sticking up for one’s self can be completely necessary sometimes.)  Needless to say – I am now ready to formally reply to this statement.

Dear Uptight Lady At My Gym,

I am so sorry to hear you criticize the inclusive fun and joy that the amazing Seattle Seahawks have brought to our town.  It is too bad that you feel so moralistic and justified in your condemnation of persons whom you do not know personally but refer to as “dumb jocks” because if you would bother to read or watch any of the commentary about these players you would understand that most of them are intelligent, generous and amazing human beings who would be fabulous role models for your children.

marshawn-lynch-geeksandcleatsIf you were to look away from your moral high ground, you might see that Marshawn Lynch, aka “Beast Mode” our infamous running back known for his ability to consistently move the ball up a virtually impossible field of play, eat Skittles and avoid the press, could teach your children a variety of life skills.  This is a guy who grew up in the slums but didn’t succumb to the gangs, drugs and violence.  He found a passion, went to college, graduated with a 3.2, saw a vision of a better future and did not look back.  Sure he’s made mistakes along the way, but he has learned from them and remained absolutely true to his own ideals.  He has started a foundation which helps kids from his ghetto neighborhood value education, learn to write a resume, learn to take responsibility for their actions and help them realize a different expectation of their lives.  He brings underprivileged kids to Seahawks headquarters, teaches free football camps to low income kids and is generous with his wealth and time.   Maybe you could teach your kids that his “not talking to the media” is a quiet statement about how ridiculous the media and the moneyed are hyping up the non-important aspects of his job and that his silence is more powerful than words.

Richard ShermanMaybe you could talk to them about Richard Sherman, our fast talking cornerback, born and raised in Compton – the scariest part of L.A.   Smart as a whip he knew he needed a vehicle to get out of Compton and decided to use both his intellect and his athletic prowess to achieve that goal.  He  graduated with honors from high school got a scholarship to Stanford, no less, and proceeded to not only own the football field there but graduate from Stanford with a degree in communications.  He’s known to be brash and vocal and talk trash.  You know what else?  He’s known to be a team leader, a nice guy, a generous soul and spends much of his off field time with his foundation that serves children who need help.  He is the teammate that knows how to build confidence among his fellow players, rally enthusiasm, establish goals and keep everyone on point:  traits that everyone could use in any job in the world.

russell-wilson2We could talk about Russell Wilson – who was supposedly not “pro material.”  From him your children could learn class, dignity and humility.   This classy young man believed in his ability and shows a self-discipline and work ethic that brought him from the 12th round draft pick to the Super Bowl in just three years.  Despite his cataclysmic rise to fame he spends every Tuesday playing games with the kids at Children’s Hospital in Seattle and quietly leads a life which included a trip to University Church with a bunch of college students following his amazing comeback during the NFC Championship game.  (not a publicized fact by the way – my friend’s daughter was there.  He doesn’t share these moments with the media.)  He studies the game with a scientific intellect and is humble about his abilities and generous to praise those around him which have developed his ability to be a beloved team leader.

I’m not saying the entire team is made up of rocket scientists, and I am not denying that football can be pretty rough and that perhaps more should be done to keep players from injury – but if you would allow a minute to get over yourself – you might see that this is a group of kids who are doing what they love and that their fun has united our region and brought us all together in a good way.  After mudslides, fires and school shootings this past year – isn’t it fantastic that we get to celebrate the joy with this team?

Sincerely,

The Sweaty Lady In The Seahawks Shirt

  1. Go Hawks. Thank you for your moral victories, your innate goodness and pure joy in what you do.

PPS – I could go on about Pete Carroll, Earl Thomas, Doug Baldwin, Bam Bam Cam and the rest of our world class team – but you know what?   I have a game to watch!

The Price of Parenting In Today’s World.

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January 17, 2015

empty walletI adore my children. Truly!  Every single minute of every day I am thankful that they are in my life.   But today I am seriously questioning our return on investment in the fundamental parenting cost outlays.  I am talking about my oldest prodigal son, bless him, I love him with all my heart and soul.  He is smart, witty, kind and living in a bubble of collegiate existence completely oblivious to daily life in the real world.   I would take a bullet for him and God forbid anyone tries to purposefully hurt him – Mama Bear will make them pay.  But as we sit here trying to balance our checkbooks and look at the financial outlay in electronics for this child in the past month – I can’t help but wish for a time machine to take us back to parenting in the day and age where the essentials of survival did not include things with a charging device. I suspect we may be singlehandedly keeping the economy afloat with our direct monetary bleeding this past month.

It started with a heart-sinking phone call in early December.   My big boy’s laptop had been stolen from his room in the fraternity.   He had finished a twelve page paper, set the laptop aside, threw some clothes over it so that it wasn’t sitting out in direct view (the apparent frat boy method of “security”) and came back a few hours later to find both pc and paper had vanished.  He reported the crime to the police, questioned his house mates and blustered on twitter about everyone being on the lookout for a black laptop with ski stickers all over it – but to no avail. The paper had to be completely re-written and the parents had to start looking at all the newspaper inserts for laptop sales. Collegiate activity pretty much requires a computer in this day and age and our suggestion of paper tablets and Bic pens for the next semester was not found amusing.  Therefore, part of December entailed researching and purchasing a new computer so he could continue being an academic success rather than that guy in the gorilla suit holding the mattress sale sign on the street corner.    $Cha-Ching.$

The other item seemingly essential element to collegiate achievement is a cell phone.  Our prodigal son was set up with an extremely expensive smart phone late last summer since the previous one had lived a long and fruitful life.   Clever old Mrs. Santa Claus gifted him with a portable charging port in his stocking for Christmas.  Upon first use of this nifty little gadget, said expensive smart phone shorted out and expired.  The not very helpful persons at the TMobile store were unsure if it was the charger itself, a fault in the cell phone or a single act of God that caused the demise.  Nonetheless, my Usually Lovely Husband was forced to fork out another $800 for a new phone three days before we sent the prodigal man child back to University.  $Cha-Ching.$ He also purchased the not-so-inexpensive insurance plan for the phone $Cha-Ching.$ and pointed out (not for the first time) that he himself, the guy who kept doling out cash for electronics, now had the most outdated phone and oldest computing device within the family unit.

(Historical Note – the youngest prodigal son drove off and left his rather old and outdated phone on top of his car in October requiring a new upgrade and phone as well.  Accident? We’ll never know.) More $Cha-Ching.$

The oldest son returned to his university with state of the art phone and computing devices last Saturday and my Usually Lovely Husband shook out his wallet, waggled his head, mumbled a few times about being mistaken for an ATM machine and we all continued on our merry ways.

Tuesday afternoon I was carefully working my way through my usual tasks when the house phone rang and I saw that my U.L.H. was calling.  I cheerfully answered and was BLASTED with an earful of profanity and a ranting diatribe so loud that my deaf old dog actually raised his head from across the room.   From what I could discern through the spitting and blustering on the other end – some type of electronic mishap involving a toilet had occurred.  Oh. My. God.

talking-on-thephone-on-the-toiletBut indeed.  The $800 cell phone which is fully insured for everything except water damage had been submerged.  I shudder to think about what those fraternity toilets may contain.  Water damage could be the least of that phone’s problems.

Needless to say The Bank of Dad has reached a maximum withdrawal status.  The president of that particular bank is currently rendered speechless and may need heavy sedation in the form of wine or vodka to speak in pleasant verbiage about the joys of fatherhood anytime in the near future.  Before we even decide how to move forward dealing with “the poo phone” (as the younger brother has now dubbed the unfortunate cellular device) our current output of funds on electronics for ONE child is more than a full year of tuition back in the Stone Age when I attended university.  Does anyone else find this shocking?

CMW - TP in phoneMeanwhile, the eldest prodigy seems to think that Samsung, TMobile and his parents are without humanity for not handing over a new phone to him.  It will cost $150 through the device insurance for him to get a replacement phone. As the family finance coordinator – I happen to know his bank account balances.  Dismal.  “Social fees” have taken a toll on his summer earnings.  His current logic dictates “all the jobs he has applied for can’t contact him because he doesn’t have a phone.”  He may have to sell his plasma to get this kind of cash in a hurry.  Are we bad parents for giving him the insurance information and the address for the closest TMobile store and telling him “Good luck”? Will he survive these formative years as a pariah without cell and internet service at his fingertips 24/7?   I am sincerely missing the days when the biggest issue with this child was trying to get him to eat a green vegetable.

So here we sit wondering how he’s doing across the state.  I already deeply miss my regular text communication with him already but my conscience feels it is time for him to make choices and feel the pain of digging deep into his pocket and finding lint.

It’s a conundrum.  What would you do?

Side Note:  We have now found out about renters insurance through the University which is inexpensive and helps cover things like theft and damage.   I encourage all persons who have students or who are a student or who may someday have a student at University to purchase this.   I also slap myself upside the head for automatically thinking our home owner’s insurance would cover these things.  They do – but with a very high deductible and the almost assured risk of having our rates go up if we claim anything.  My U.L.H. voiced irritation over this expense as well.  We’re having some “lively” discussions at my house these days and many of them seem to end with my U.L.H. reminding me that I was the one who wanted kids.  He simply wanted a boat.

boat

My Preference Would Be a Blizzard or The Day of the Lockdown

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Welcome to the age of being a parent in 2015.   It used to be the only school notices we were compelled to worry about were snow closures or on a very rare occasion – storms which caused power outages, but today as I was readying to depart for my Wednesday morning gym class my cell began tweeting, the house phone began ringing and the email box chimed with several incoming emails highlighted in red.  The robo call, text and email notifications simply stated,  “All Schools within the district will be closed today and all students who are already in school buildings are on lockdown.  Any child on a bus will be diverted to the district office buildings.”   No explanation.  No reassurance. Nothing.

My mouth went dry, my blood pressure spiked and my palms started sweating. Although I tend to not usually go all panicky, my mind could not help but go to worst case scenarios.   Our home is nearly equidistant between the Seattle Pacific University campus where a gunmen shot four students last June and Marysville Pillchuck High School where a young student shot and killed four classmates before turning the gun on himself in the cafeteria just two and a half months ago.  I’ll give you one good guess as to the mental pictures that instantly were painted in my head.

My fingers typed like a whirlwind and I pulled up local news stations, internet feeds and the district website.  No information available.   I texted and called my son at the local high school.  No answer.  I tried to talk to myself logically.  Didn’t work.  I called my Usually Lovely Husband in a meeting to see if he had heard anything on the radio driving into work.   He had not, of course, and now his voice became pensive as well.

Several minutes later another notification was sent saying an armed man had been seen on a school campus and all schools were responding to the threat.   At least now we knew that nothing horrifying had actually occurred.   My heart started beating at a regular rhythm once again.   Still no word from my high school student however.   My logical self knew that he was perfectly safe, my mommy brain still had that niggling edge because my baby was somewhere unreachable.

After a series of texts with my U.L.H. I decided to continue to my spin class at the gym and keep my phone available through the class.  By this time the “mommy network” had started and texts were flying between parents.   Speculation was rampant but there was no definitive information.

Ten minutes into my cycling routine my phone rang.   I snatched it up and heard the next robo call from the school district.   “All students safe within their schools.  The lockdown will continue until further notice due to an armed man in the area.   Police have surrounded the schools and all students are safe at this time.”

Reassuring?  Well, yes – because I know that the teachers in our district are remarkable for the most part and will take great care of the kids, but realistically, I was still spiking some extra heart palpitations that had nothing to do with my spin class. On the one hand, no violence had actually occurred.  On the other hand, our resident precinct officers walking around with loaded guns is not a picture I like to think of either.  Their normal operations involve hassling teenagers in the local park and pulling over offenders for doing 29 in a 25 mile an hour zone.

I spent the remainder of my spin class checking my phone and trying to keep my sweat from dripping across the keyboard while I read the dearth of text messages from parents trying to piece together a calmer scenario than what our imaginations were skirting around.   Driving home from the gym my son managed to send me a text from a friend’s phone that had better reception informing me that he “was fine but his phone wouldn’t send.”   Again, although my logical brain lobe had told me he was perfectly secure, seeing those words caused a palpable sense of relief that I was not expecting.   I scolded myself for internalized fretting.  In my defense, he is still my baby – despite the 10 inches of height differential.  I also was raised Catholic and worry and guilt are inherent qualities.

cops at scThe next surge of robo calls, texts and emails came moments later.  Children were being released to parents or, in the case of my teen – allowed to walk to his car in the parking lot and drive home.   Heavily armed guards surrounded the school.   These were not our local officers.  This is an actual photo. They were not screwing around – even if these guys are mugging for the camera.

By 11:30 a.m. my house was filled with teen spirit.  A group of boys had descended to play games and fraternize and discuss the cool factor of the heavily armored police presence around the school.   Rumors of suspects being apprehended were spread across twitter and facebook.   The “mommy network” continued to maintain contact – especially after it was determined that the suspect shown on the news being put into a police car early in the afternoon was not the perp.  (note my TV induced official police jargon)  At 5:15 p.m. the Superintendent of Schools sent out a notice FINALLY clarifying the situation.  It read:

At 7:20 a.m. this morning Shoreline Police responded to a report of an armed male seen on the property of Meridian Park Elementary School. This unknown male made a statement that indicated he would go to all of the schools.

The Meridian Park campus was immediately placed in lockdown. Shoreline Police responded quickly and took control of the situation. Based on the threat to all District schools, the lockdown was expanded to the whole district and subsequently the decision was made to close schools for the day. Students who were already on school buses when the incident began were brought to Shoreline Center. After consultation with the police, the lockdown was ended about 11 a.m.

According to police, no suspect has been identified or arrested. The investigation will continue and anyone with information on this incident is urged to call the King County Sheriff’s Office. 

We plan to have school on a normal schedule tomorrow. Shoreline, Lake Forest Park and King County Police will be enhancing their patrols with a focus on our schools. The District appreciates the support of our law enforcement partners.

I am not sure if I feel better or worse at this point. I had been thinking all afternoon that perhaps this was an incident that had been blown out of proportion.  Nope.  Not at all.  And the crazy dude was still out there.   I also had a meeting at the high school at 6:30.   I clarified with the activities coordinator whom I was meeting that this was still a good idea. No worries on her end so I text-ed my U.L.H. and told my children that I loved them in case anything happened to me.  One never knows after all.  They rolled their eyes but I felt better for the gesture.  I then gave brief consideration to taking the geriatric canine unit for protection but realized that #1 – he would hide behind me even if he was still fully functional and #2 – he wouldn’t be able to walk the 25 yards from the car to the front door of the school in under ten minutes and I would be late.

Needless to say, the meeting went fine, I returned home without incident and at this point everyone is safe and sound.  At my house and across our neighborhood bodies are tucking into bed.  Although I think there is a niggling worry in every household who has school age children or loved ones who work in the district about tomorrow and sleep may be uneasy – I think there is also some hope. Why you ask after seeing my obvious agitation?  Our teachers and our schools.  They are prepared, they are compassionate and they have taken the world on their shoulders in caring for our children.  I am quite certain that teachers and principals would rather worry about snow days as well.  Today was scary, tomorrow possibly will be too – but there are lessons beyond Math and History that our kids learned from their educators today.  They learned how to be strong in the face of a crisis, they learned how to be compassionate in a stressful situation and they learned how to not let fear determine a negative outcome.   The teachers at my son’s high school continued their lessons through the allocated class period times. When the lockdown continued they played games with students, joked, googled ski conditions, talked sports, allowed music and did tutorial lessons.  One teacher even played Ferris Bueller’s Day off.

I think it is easy to have a heavy heart in today’s world.  But I also hope that we can move beyond the negativity that is easy to let permeate our spirit and see the greatness in people. I’m thankful for the quick thinking of district officials and the kind and calm manner in which the teachers handled their students in a tense situation.  I am pretty sure when they were taking their education classes in college they did not foresee a day like today, but they handled it with grace.

I do have one last wish though.  The next time district officials send out a robo call /text/ email closing the schools and instigating lockdowns and security can they please preface the information with something along the lines of  “No serious incidents have occurred” so that the need to visit my colorist isn’t so imminent?   These grey hairs are getting harder and harder to cover up.

Ditch The Snitch During Christmas

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December 26, 2014

Happy Boxing Day; the official holiday of surviving the Christmas Day maelstrom. The recycling bin is full to the brim with boxes, wrapping paper and one or two premier empty wine bottles, we have laundered the pajamas we spent all day in and the Toblerone bar has been opened and demolished.   (Okay, the Swiss chocolate eating was all me – but it is a tradition that Santa puts a Toblerone bar in my Usually Lovely Husband’s stocking each year and I find it and eat it.   I am a stickler for traditions after all.) New clothes are being jauntily modeled and the one size fits all gift my offspring most wanted this year has been tucked away into their wallets. It was a successful Christmas day with only one family dispute and one animal vomit.  What Christmas is complete without the kids insisting that the dog must try each one of the new treats that Santa brings and the cat gets all hopped up on catnip and one or other leaves us a warm oozy Christmas gift on the floor?   And I defy you to find one household that does not have an emotional outburst from extended family togetherness or a breakdown over some new gadget installation. Joyous Noel indeed.

elf-on-shelfSpeaking of holiday traditions – I feel I simply must go on official record as being completely against the newest small child commercial gimmick that is buying shelf space (literally) these days.   Have you heard of this “Elf On the Shelf” Phenomenon? It’s this creepy little elf doll with heroin addict eyes that sits around your house staring like a child predator at your offspring and then supposedly reporting back to Santa their evil activities throughout the day.  The public gets all up in arms about the NSA spying on citizens and creating paranoia yet no one has mentioned these disturbing little elves which may be causing psychiatric harm to our youngsters with their prying eyes and tattle tale scare tactics in a much more sinister fashion.elf-warning

In case you haven’t been privy to the “Elf On The Shelf” fright campaigns for children during the month of December, here is the down low. This is the label on the back of t
he box this little psychosomatic trauma comes in.

So this freakish mother named Carol had this elf doll that she told her kids was a “Scout Elf” from the North Pole sent to keep tabs on their nefarious behaviors in order to make sure Santa knew whether or not to put them on the good or bad lists at Christmas.  The kids are not allowed to touch the “Scout Elf” but they can tell him all their secrets so that she can sit in the next room and eavesdrop while they talk to this doll like a priest in a confessional.   The elf moves secretly around the house each day so that the children are never sure where it’s prying beady little eyes may be watching them from and quickly learn that no room provides sanctuary.   Carol “unwittingly learned that an added benefit” to this elf doll spying was that it “helped the children to better control themselves.”

To top that off.  This is the letter that comes with Captain Creepy Doll to your beloved children.elf-return-letter-printable

Oh. My. God.   This woman must have been pretty desperate to get her kids to behave. Obey your Mom and Dad?  Sounds like the words I would not allow at my wedding twenty five years ago. I think we all know which Mom at the preschool Carol was and we steered our kids clear at birthday parties and field trips from her little monsters. Carol is now filthy stinking rich from mass producing this infiltrator because parents everywhere are buying this ugly little goblin in a red and white suit and telling their kids that their moves are being monitored “AT ALL TIMES BECAUSE THERE IS A CREEPY LITTLE GNOME OGLING YOU RIGHT NOW”. Wow, Edward Snowden and Michael Rogers (Director of the National Security Agency) got nothing compared to Carol.

I know that many of us grew up knowing that Santa was magically aware of naughty and nice behavior, but you never felt his eyes physically following you across the room when you pinched your brother and ran away. Talk about developing paranoia from a young age.  We had better hope that the benefits for Mental Health improve dramatically by the time the wave of young children involved in this current elf trend reach adulthood.

When our progenies were young, Santa was the guy who made your stomach super nervous when you saw him in person and whose booming voice apologized over the phone when the Lego set you wanted more than anything in life was not available that year. (Thanks Uncle Ralph) He was kind, a little scary and magical all at once. He never would have sent spies to our house to specifically seek out bad behaviors to report back each night. It almost seems that this “Scout Elf” is just daring you to smack your sibling in the head with a Tonka truck.

catSo kids, come on round to my house. My cat may stare at you unblinkingly after she gets some good hits off her new catnip, but she won’t be reporting your nose picking and extra cookie snitching back to the North Pole. Santa in my world will be benevolent and continue to turn a blind eye to the avarices of small children because he knows in his soul that there is good in all of us.

PS – if anyone has truly had luck with The Elf On the Shelf curtailing disreputable activities could you let me know?   I hate the whole disturbing shelf elf trend, but I may just stick one in the fraternity house where my oldest son lives if there is a glimmer of hope that the college guys may stop and think once in a while. (Love them!  I mean it!)

Holidays. Ho. Ho. Ho.

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whistlerIt has been FAR too long since I’ve shared the thoughts in my head.   I am sure that the reason I have been wide awake from 2 – 5 a.m. is the small novelettes that are swirling through my cerebrum. Life has been hectic and so I do apologize to my own self and my regular readers for not unloading my brain onto the pages of WordPress.

I have been relaxing in Whistler BC the past few days and am enjoying watching my three ski bums wear themselves out, appreciating the breathtaking views, taking cleansing breaths of crisp frozen air, eating and drinking far too much and removing myself from the chaos of pre-holiday madness.

A quick synopsis from the past two weeks: One part time working mother trying to organize and finalize all the traditions that SHE feels obligated to continue. Since this ski trip involves five days of off-site eating and we return on Christmas Eve this also includes list making, food shopping at several different grocery stores and complete organizational packing and pantry stocking. I blame only myself for this stress – the prodigal sons would survive off granola and top ramen and my Usually Lovely Husband is kind enough to eat whatever is around as long as we are well stocked on wine. I try to beat back my Martha Stewart gene, but I truly can’t stand eating prepackaged food or crappy instant things and I personally enjoy sitting around the table with my family so we tend to eat well on vacations where I have a kitchen to knock around in. Green curry chicken, Pad Thai, risotto, and on Seahawks Sunday BBQ Chicken Fingers and Sweet Potato fries were on this weeks menu. Easy to throw together but preplanning and shopping required.

I am going to skip the elongated discourse of how my elderly four legged best friend fell down the stairs the day before we left and the ensuing anxiety of hours at the vet and the 150+ daily text messages with my dog sitter to keep abreast of his condition while we have family time without him. I attempted to write a blog about this a couple days ago and the one ply tissues in this condo were too ineffective to continue.

Leaving for five days right before Christmas Eve also means that all presents must be purchased, wrapped and labeled for hasty Christmas tree distribution on Christmas Eve when we return.   As the default parent for shopping and eating – this duty pretty much falls on my small sized shoulders and I would not have it any other way.   This does not mean I don’t blow a gasket somewhere along the way since I feel everything must be perfect and all traditions and things that lit up my small sons’ eyes on Christmas Day in the past must be preserved. Thankfully all three of my men humor me in this and pretend to still be excited about unwrapping underpants from Rudolph and finding footprints in the ashes of the fireplace Christmas morning. Apparently I am not the only one who has specific standard traditions that make Christmas complete however; last year I actually had the audacity to suggest that I cook something different than salmon with spicy wine sauce and lemon bowtie noodles for Christmas Eve dinner and both of the offspring nearly had heart failure. Since my men children have been wee – we have dressed up on Christmas Eve, had a formal dinner and given our gifts to each other. Santa comes in the night (of course) and Christmas morning is for stockings and Santa Claus magic.

I still laugh about being somewhat looped from a fabulous bottle of wine (or two) enjoyed with Christmas Eve dinner when our oldest prodigy was two and had been safely tucked into bed in his new footie pajamas. (Complete tangent: another Christmas tradition learned from my sister. Always give new pajamas as gifts on Christmas Eve so that the Christmas morning photos don’t feature faded and torn jammies. However, be sure to prewash them as the one year I forgot to launder them my youngest son woke up Christmas morning with a rash from head to toe and spent the day miserably itching.)

LITTLE-TIKES-SLIDE-ACTIVITY-CUBE-GARDEN-20140418003213Anyway, two year old tucked in footie pajamas. Two tipsy parents attempting to put together apartment sized plastic slide and playhouse until 3:00 a.m.   Two year old wakes up at 7:00 a.m. and squeals and clambers all over new magical play set’s packing box for several hours while parents sip coffee and take Advil. The Magic of Christmas indeed.

Fast forward 20 years – now my two adorable babies are shaving and wearing size 11 shoes. Their smell no longer elicits memories of Johnson’s Baby Powder. We take ski trips where they check out girls in bars and my oldest saunters to the market and purchases his own beer. I miss the delighted laughter of little boys finding their Christmas cookies missing and racing to the window to look for signs of reindeer hooves, but I treasure the incredible young men who pick me up and swing me around when they hug me, discuss current events with heated opinions, and make me laugh out loud with their bawdy humor.

The_Polar_ExpressI was reveling in mommy emotions of time spent with my family last night. The boys had spent the day skiing like banshees and re-discovering their sibling connection. My U.L.H. and I had walked the village in the snow and searched through bars for the perfect Irish coffee. My family was around me and my Mom was smiling from the stars. We watched the Polar Express movie together, did a little dancing to mutually agreed upon current music, had dinner together with no electronic diversions, and laughed hysterically playing dominos and Crimes Against Humanity.  The evening was magical and I was feeling peaceful and grateful.

The prodigal sons were still up tweeting and farting and doing what boys do as Ma in her kerchief and Pa in his cap settled down for a long winter’s nap.   My U.L.H. was exhausted from skiing and I was still catching up on zero sleep prior to our mini vacation and feeling all warm and cozy about another family bonding evening, so we were out like a light within seconds. Suddenly the door to our bedroom burst open and the blond bombshell sixteen year old screamed, “Dad! Help! Our toilet is overflowing and it’s bad in there!”

ToiletRun03-274x289My U.L.H. leapt from bed like an agile reindeer and all hell proceeded to break loose. I wriggled down a little under the covers in the hopes that I could pretend nothing was happening, but the profanity stream emanating from the other side of the condo was hardly in keeping with the “spirit of the season” so I cautiously tip toed out of our bedroom.  Splashing sounds could be heard and the yell of “For Christ’s sake, I don’t need a coffee mug, I need a bucket!”  I glimpsed offspring #2 racing from the kitchen with a loaf pan in his hands and beat a hasty retreat back into my own bedroom, found every available towel and piled them neatly into a tower outside my bedroom door before closing the door. I may be the default parent for eating and domesticity, but my U.L.H. is clearly the default parent for plumbing emergencies.

“No need to get involved”, I thought wisely to myself. This decision was definitively confirmed when my youngest popped his head in the door asking if I had any more towels and his response to my question of whether or not I needed to call Housekeeping was “No. We just both took really huge poops.”

This was definitely a male situation.

Trying to hold on to my warm and fuzzy family evening, I snuggled down in the King size bed and watched the snow falling outside.   Sometime later my U.L.H. stomped in with his pants rolled up to his knees muttering and cursing and ranting about why we had children instead of just buying a boat. I tried valiantly to be supportive and not laugh out loud at his damp ankles and inquired again if I needed to call Housekeeping.(my response to everything, even when in my own domicile.) He stopped in his march into our shower only long enough to retort, “No – apparently the thought of picking up the plunger next to the toilet did not occur to anyone until there was two inches of water on the ground.”

I only let loose my raucous laughter after I was assured the sound of the shower would drown out my guffaws and thankfully managed to compose myself back into serene tranquility by the time he returned. I was completely sincere when I asked if everything was copasetic now.

Thus, another magical Christmas moment that will remain in the annals of our family memories.   The funniest part is – I’ll treasure this one too. Perhaps over time my Usually Lovely Husband will even find a tidbit of humor when we reminisce about family togetherness during Christmas of 2014.

I hope you are finding your own magical moments this holiday season.

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The Middle Aged Hit the Hipster Scene

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December 7, 2014

Last night my Usually Lovely Husband and I tossed aside our normal agenda of collapsing on the couch and going to sleep in front of poor television programming in lieu of pretending to be “hip” and plunging into the live music scene in downtown Seattle.   A friend had called Thursday telling us he had two extra tickets to see a band at the Crocodile Café on Saturday and kindly invited us to join up with them and another couple. Glancing at the permanent indentations on the family room couch, I gave this about .04 milliseconds of consideration and promptly texted my U.L.H. and told him I was accepting the invite unless he had to accept the next Nobel Peace Prize or something equally important. Suffice it to say, it has been a long time since we went to a live music venue together that did not feature the words “High School” in the band name, so I was pretty stoked!

Side note – This is in no way meant to disparage the prodigal sons’ high school band concerts. I have heard some amazing music played in the High School Performing Arts Center over the years and both offspring possess considerable talent in the musical department – especially in their highly accomplished Jazz Bands. (Obviously this musical prowess comes from my side of the family by the way – my Mom practically baritone_brass_01_1_2[1]owned her own bench seat in the high school gym for band, choir and theatre performances; and no one could blow the Baritone Tuba like my brother Paul. There will be an argument at my house after my U.L.H. reads this; after all, he always tells me, he did work in a Record Library while in college. Mmm hmmm.  But I digress…)

The band we were going to see is called My Brightest Diamond, featuring singer songwriter Shara Worden. Not being familiar with her work I googled a couple of YouTube videos and found her voice masterfully intriguing.   Good sign. They were going to be performing at The Crocodile Café, one of the oldest armpit clubs in Seattle where big names such as Soundgarten and the Foo Fighters got their start. Dave Matthews and Dave Grohl drop by the club regularly and jam on stage. It is a total local hipster scene and I had never ventured inside.

We were to meet our four friends for dinner beforehand at The Green Leaf.   Concerned this might be one of the Medical Pot Dispensary’s that dot the Seattle landscape lately, I googled it beforehand. They served Spring Rolls and Udon Noodles. Another good sign.

When Saturday night arrived the first problem arose. What does a cool middle-aged  gal wear out “clubbing” these days?   I posed the problem to a friend I ran into earlier in the day. She had been to The Crocodile Cafe with her daughter the week prior during an all age concert. Her immediate response was “nothing you can’t wash or sanitize promptly afterwards.”   At least most of my closet fits that category.

Clad in jeans and boots we headed out to meet our friends.   After seventeen hours fighting the usual Seattle traffic, we arrived at the non marijuana dispensary 348s[1]Vietnamese Restaurant.   Located in a properly derelict basement setting – we caught up over icy cocktails and delectable vegetarian spring rolls; laughing and nearly forgetting that we actually had a “part two” to our evening out. When our host suddenly realized it was 9:00 and that the opening band was starting at 8:00 we settled our tab and trudged up the hill to “The Croc” knowing that regardless of whether or not we liked the upcoming music we were having a great evening out.

None of us had ever been to “The Croc” before so there was a bit of anticipation as we handed over our ticket stubs, had our right inside wrist stamped and tramped inside the joint. Hmmm. One would definitely not assume that righteous music had been created here, but we joined the throngs on the cement floors and moved in. We settled in a back corner, got a round of drinks and began the people watching parade.  I realized instantly that I need not have worried about dressing to fit in. Firstly – there was definitely not a uniform look here – from the Charlie Chaplin look-alike to (and I am not kidding) the leprechaun to the couple who looked like they just came from their engagement party at the rotunda – every “style” was represented. Secondly, we appeared to be invisible to the majority of the patrons in the room – this was particularly noticeable as the band appeared to play and at least 90 people walked directly in front of us and stood. Being an appreciable height of 5’2” in my boots – this was somewhat disconcerting.   My view:20141206_215803

One of my girlfriends suggested crowd surfing for a better vantage point but I demurred based on the fact that I would be horrified if someone hoisting me inadvertently grabbed my muffin top.

A man and woman on stage began to play. She had a violin and he was on keyboards. Craning my neck I caught a glimpse of a gamine like face and dark pixie haircut. Not being familiar with the singer from My Brightest Diamond except for a brief view during my YouTube snooping, I figured she must have had a complete makeover since filming her last video. They launched into their first song.  The woman had an amazing voice and sang in a furious opera range while simultaneously playing the violin like an enraged dramatist.  It was very bohemian and I felt like I should be wearing a black turtleneck and a beanie. The beat, tone and rhythm were purposefully discordant and we were all somewhat wide-eyed watching.  We were standing near the door and the constant flow of traffic, most of whom stopped directly in front of us to watch for a song before moving on to a better vantage point, was quite a cross-section of humanity. Not being able to see the stage and being slightly preoccupied with not getting trampled by one of the cast members from Duck Dynasty, I was enjoying myself but pretty sure I would not be purchasing the group’s cd any time soon.

The set ended fairly rapidly and we blinked at each other. Our host who had discovered the group said, “Well, that was interesting – although not really what I was expecting.”   One of our group excused herself to the restroom (a fairly risky move in that place) before we headed back to our cars. It was around 10:30 p.m. and we were jovial after an evening out.  As we were donning our coats our girlfriend rejoined us.  She was laughing hysterically.  While in the restroom she had encountered the lead singer and got to chatting. We had just watched the warm up band Rabbit Rabbit. What could we say? Bunch of old fogies thought the evening was over at 10:30…

We hastily discarded our jackets and decided the opposite side of the room would be more advantageous for viewing since it was farther from the entrance. We settled into our new standing area with a new group of intersting people to ogle. My view of the stage was even slightly better.  20141206_231917

Equipment was being jostled around on stage and a much more familiar looking female vocalist settled in. Aha – the woman from YouTube! The lights dimmed and she lit into song. Magical.  Trained in opera and classical composition, Shara Worden and my-brightest-diamond-1[1]My Brightest Diamond captured us with the first note.  Her stage presence and energy combined with crisp bright lyrics and a wild rock beat were unlike anything I had ever seen. Not only did she have a dazzling vocal range – she could play that guitar like a female Eddie Vedder.

The only distraction from her performance was the continuous drops of moisture that were dripping from the ceiling.   The incessant surprise showers also explained why there were so many gortex clad dancers in the audience.   They were obviously “Croc” regulars and knew to wear protective outer wear to stay dry on the dance floor. I had actually been laughing to myself earlier about the amount of Seattleites who wore gortex as club wear and now I knew why. We were sincerely hoping it was condensation and not plumbing issues – especially after one of our beers became a direct target.

By the time the performance had ended all six of us were all completely hooked on My Brightest Diamond. We stumbled out into the crisp air at 12:30 star struck and exhilarated. “We old farts” had been standing for nearly three and a half hours and my bad foot was killing me and my knees and back were aching – but that two-hour performance was all completely worth the Advil waiting at home.

While my exceptional evening out may not be all that stimulating to you my dear readers – what I do hope to convey is that sometimes you just need to give up your squishy place on the couch cushions and go experience life. Quit worrying about what to wear, how old you are, the drips from the ceiling or the risk of trampled toes. Grab your friends, your spouse, your kids, your neighbors and find an adventure outside your regular comfort zone. Just go, just do, just enjoy – your Brightest Diamond is waiting for you.

Links to My Brightest Diamond.   I encourage you to listen. She’s brilliant. And how can you not love someone who records on a label called “Asthmatic Kitty”?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLpIk7Gw4Xo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CePpTXIuQzY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXeTsIFJ3I8

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December 4 – Remembering RVOD

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Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the state of Washington for youth 10 – 24 years old and the third leading cause of death nationally.   Shockingly, there are nearly twice as many suicides as homicides of youth in this same age range.

Today’s blog is a tough one to write. I’m not even sure I will post it – but I have learned that letting your feelings out rather than keeping them in aids in the grieving process, so I am letting my words spill out onto paper.  I also hope that just maybe someone will read this and it will help them too.

One year ago today a friend of both my sons, the same age as my oldest, committed suicide. My oldest and he weren’t BFF’s, his passions were long boarding and soccer and my son’s were baseball and music, but they had hung out in the same circles as long as forever. His Mom and Dad are my friends, we have sat in numerous sports venues cheering on our boys together, laughed at parties, suffered through PTA meetings, and bonded over little boy’s birthday parties and Homecoming photo sessions.   But a year ago their charming, smart, funny boy decided that he could not endure any more of the sadness that had settled in his head and took his own life.

Just writing these words feels as if an enormous band aid has been wrenched off of my heart. It’s a wound that will not ever heal and my heart and my head hurt for our entire community, his parents, his amazing sister and the realms of beautiful young people who were his friends.   I suspect by the time I decide whether or not to share this blog that a viral wave of media will have swept across the internet with poignant sadness sharing love and remembrance for the boy who will always be known as RVOD.

Even though my heart is breaking with this virtual remembrance, I am overwhelmed by the love and am so grateful that everyone can reach out to one another across the world and have one big group hug on this day.   I know that literally hundreds and hundreds of people are thinking of him with a hole in their hearts today – because he was the kind of promising young man whose radiant smile touched your soul and made you feel special. As one counselor said to us last year, “You will never go back to normal – but eventually you will start living a new normal around that empty space in your heart.”

I’ve learned a lot in the last year about teens and depression. I’ve learned more than I want to know but recognize I should continue my education.   I’ve learned that depression affects one in nine kids between the ages of 10 and 24 and I’ve learned that mental illness most commonly begins its occurrence at age 18.   I’ve learned that long lasting changes in personality, mood and behavior are red flags of a deeper problem and not just “teen angst”. I’ve learned that kids who have been part of my sons’ friendship circle for an eternity, who are popular, athletic, 4.0 students, team captains and liked by everyone are just as likely to have problems with depression as anyone else.

My boys and I have learned that if you think someone is considering suicide, the hardest but single most important thing you can do is ask them, “Are you thinking of ending your life?”   We’ve learned that by asking that question you can provide a critical outlet for someone who thinks that no one would understands and that they are relieved to share their thoughts.   And we have learned that if they say “Yes” – that they need help from a professional immediately.

One of the hardest things about losing someone to suicide is finding blame. When a life is lost to cancer or a car accident your mind automatically blames disease or a slippery road; however, losing someone to suicide is also losing someone to illness.   Unfortunately, depression is a silent disease and our society is not comfortable talking about it. This needs to change.   If a teenager has stomach pains we would ask them what is wrong and try to find the necessary medical solution. That is the same response we should have if we sense a teenager has anxiety, moodiness or depression.   All of these things are treatable albeit much harder to recognize or diagnose.   Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions and don’t be afraid to hear the hard answers and practice saying those questions out loud so that you are comfortable with the words.

I’m not an expert on teen depression or suicide, but there are volumes of information online and through local health experts that can help you understand. Here are three links I recommend http://www.intheforefront.org/ which is through the University of Washington and http://866teenlink.org/ The Teen Link Crisis Clinic and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.   Also if you live in the Seattle area, carry this number (866.TEENLINK / 206-461-4922) for Teen Link in your phone and put it in your kid’s phone. It’s a confidential helpline for teens run by teens through the Crisis Clinic. If you are not a Seattle Area resident – find the local crisis line number for your area or use the National Suicide Prevention Hot Line at 1-800-273-8255.

I urge you to not brush off a basic understanding of teen anxiety and depression.   You may be able to help yourself, your own family or friends with just a minimum of knowledge. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.

RVOD – You will be in our hearts forever. I wish that you could have known that there was light waiting for you on the other side of your darkness.

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Forefront Organization http://www.intheforefront.org/

Teen Link Crisis Clinic http://866teenlink.org/

Teen Link Crisis Phone Number 866.TEENLINK / 206-461-4922

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/   1-800-273-8255

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving-peanuts-452773_500_375[1]Thanksgiving November 27, 2014

I know it may seem trite to list the things I am thankful for on this fourth Thursday of November, but amidst the tumultuous upheaval in our nation and world – I would like to take pause and reflect.

Here goes:

I am thankful for my Usually Lovely Husband. He’s not perfect, thank God, because neither am I and so that makes it work. He’s kind, hard-working, smart as hell and even though he snores like a hippo in mud – still puts up with me and my teensy weensy little idiosyncrasies and refills my wine glass when necessary.

I am thankful for my two amazing children. They have beautiful hearts, are empathetic, kind and smart. They make me laugh hysterically, hug me when I’m sad and fill my world with joy.  I am proud of them every day and I have loved nearly every minute of being their Mom. (okay – admittedly I did not love the times when they had stomach flu or had super nasty poopy pants.) I look forward to watching them become men that will change the world.

Halloween Puppy 090I am thankful for my sweet, wonderful furry best friend.   He has given our family thirteen years of love and has carved out a niche in the doggie hall of fame in our hearts.

I am thankful for my own Mom.   Even though I miss her every day, she gave me the vision to love my family and appreciate what we have. She also gave me six really awesome siblings to share life with.

I am thankful for my sisters and sister-in-laws.   They support me and provide an amazing network of help in raising two boys. They laugh with me, give me advice and spoil my kids. (Especially the one who is making my youngest son White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce for Thanksgiving dessert)

I am thankful for my brothers and brother-in-laws.   They are truly the nicest group of men in the world. They are superior role models for my boys for which I will be forever grateful. They can also talk sports with the offspring thus giving me a break from pretending like I care about statistics and tactics.

I am thankful for my nieces. Each of them carries a little bit of my Mom and it is joy to see that within them. I am lucky enough to have them as my friends and they have now provided us with the world’s cutest new generation which I get to adore and then hand back when their diapers are full.

I am thankful for my nephews. From brew masters to doctors to police officers – they are amazing and fun and as nice as my brothers.

I am thankful for my friends, even the ones who don’t read my blog. (ahem) My circle is wide and chock full of intelligent beautiful souls who nurture me and fill my days with compassion and fun.  Thank God for the women of this world who can laugh or cry with each other, toast together and pick up your kids from the soccer field when you are running late or stop by to let your dog pee when you need to be gone all day!

I am thankful for wine, cheese and chocolate – and because I am thankful for that I am thankful for my Cycling Instructors. I am not thankful for the music that yesterday’s substitute played however – one cannot spin happily to Michael Buble.

I am thankful for moisturizer. Well. I am. I am over fifty after all.

I am thankful that this year I finally got the guts to start writing again. It is not easy to throw your words out to the wind and wonder if anyone reads them.  I am thankful for the people in thirteen countries, including Senegal, who have taken the time to read my words and for the over 1700 times people have logged into WordPress to read my blather.   I am thankful for the 78 people who have signed up to get an email each time I post something or like my post when they see it on Facebook. My fragile ego hopes you are actually reading it. I am also REALLY thankful for the people who comment, like or repost my blogs. Wow. You are the wind beneath my wings. (Snort – I do promise to not get all Bette Midler on you.)

I am thankful that my sister is cooking Thanksgiving this year and I do not have to deal with that stupid bird carcass which I never know what to do with. And on that note – I am thankful that I get to go bounce my kids out of bed, pack them into the Mom car and head out.

Happy Thanksgiving. Do what you love and surround yourself with your loved ones today and every day.

Peanuts-under-a-tree-peanuts-6273380-500-375[1]

 

Is The Cell Phone Helpful or Hazardous to Parenting?

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November 23, 2014

Has the cell phone made life as a parent easier or harder?   I’ve been pondering this question all week. As a parent there is a sense of relief that you can always contact your child at any given point with the touch of a button. They aren’t home on time? A quick text, “Where the hell are you?” can ease that nagging worry.

Never mind that sometimes you don’t really want to know where the hell they are. For example, a couple of years ago when my eldest Prodigal Son called three minutes before midnight and whispered, “Mom. I’m not going to make my curfew. We climbed up onto the roof of the high school and now there are a bunch of police walking around the building so we have to stay up here until they go away. I’ll be home as soon as they leave and we shimmy back down.”

Honestly? WTF? Did I need to know this?

I am not sure which circumstance would have been worse; laying wide-eyed in bed fretting about why he was not home on time or hearing the detailed facts and worrying that he was either going to #1 – fall off the roof and I would be spoon-feeding him applesauce the rest of his life or #2 – that my next phone call would be from the local precinct. The visuals were blood curdling.

Admittedly I absolutely love semi daily contact with my baby boy while he is at University. We have a running text stream from day-to-day involving his classes, our dog, his brother and daily events. Nothing makes my mommy heart happier than imagesCANR338Rwhen my phone rings and it’s my sweet little six-foot child calling me from across the state because he’s walking home from class and just wants to hear my voice.  I have definite memories from my own college days when I wanted nothing more than to just hear my mommy’s voice. Back in the Stone Age I had to wait until after 10:00 p.m. when the rates were cheaper and then stand in line to use the rotary dial hallway phone in the dorm for a quick two-minute conversation usually while someone stood in line behind and eavesdropped. Not exactly an intimate chat setting; particularly when I could practically hear my Dad timing the call and counting the pennies adding up on his phone bill in the background.

While I do cherish this constant contact with my son, I have found myself wondering if perhaps our kids would grow up a little wiser without a world of instant parenting.   When my son texted that his fraternity brother had spilled a coke on his brand new white sweatshirt and “what should he do?” – I instantly googled stain removal techniques and sent him links and diatribes on how to take care of the problem.  That is what a mom does right? Or should I have let him figure it out on his own and perhaps be wearing a brown tinged sweatshirt yet learn how to use OxyClean for future mishaps?   Maybe our kids would learn more responsibility if they had to problem solve and google their own stain removal tactics.

Instant communication is supposed to be reassuring right?   This week my wee bairn was travelling across the state to come home for Thanksgiving break – a six-hour drive involving mountain passes, long stretches of two-lane road and some distinctly awful areas of icy highway.  It’s a hideous drive in the winter and was the only reason that I was secretly hoping my son did not pick this particular University for his secondary education.   He had lost a friend two years ago on that drive and has another friend who was lucky to survive a rollover accident on it last year. My anxiety about this trip in the winter months is not unfounded.

Our original plan of having my Usually Lovely Husband pick up our college boy and drive him home had been waylaid by a fishing trip. Unfazed by this change of plans, Mr. University Man had found himself a ride with one of the 5 zillion students who were returning to the Seattle area for Thanksgiving Break. I had been fretting and sending probing questions via text all week. “What is the full name of the driver?” “What kind of car does he drive?” “How many times has he made this drive?” “Is he a careful driver?” “Do you feel safe in his car?” “How many people will be in the car?” “Does he have enough seatbelts?” “You guys aren’t going to be fooling around and being loud or anything while he is driving are you?” My questions became increasingly hysterical as the week wore on. The prodigal son dutifully reassured me, no doubt rolling his eyes and sighing, a look that may be just a teensy, tiny, little bit like his mother would have made in similar circumstances.

Friday morning arrived. I knew he had a presentation at 10:00 a.m. and a paper to turn in at noon. I was trying to be cool and engrossed myself in work to avoid dwelling on the upcoming journey. I texted him around 1:00 to ask “how things were going?” (Mom code for “Where the hell are you?”) No reply.

Meanwhile, my U.L.H. was leaving around 3:00 to drive the OTHER direction over the pass for a weekend of fly fishing. We exchanged a couple of messages as he was heading off for a weekend of guy stuff.  Still no response from the eldest prodigal son.

I sent a more urgent text message to the boy. “Have you left? Where are you? Who’s in the car?”

He finally responded that they were leaving in half an hour. Sigh. I now knew it would be dark during the majority of the scary driving.  I did a cleansing breath, squared my shoulders, admitted I had no control over the situation and fully immersed myself in work convinced they would be fine.

141122_i90_wa_wx_pass_2[1]The phone rang. The U.L.H. was calling. He was at the top of the first mountain pass. Snow had moved in with a fury. Cars were piled up everywhere. Chains required.  Shit.

The prodigal son and crew were still a good five hours from this portion of the daunting drive and the conditions were going from bad to worse in mere seconds.

Myself and the U.L.H. were now both calling and texting the Prodigal Son with urgency. He finally answered. Phone conversation was nearly impossible due to whooping and loud music in background. This was not reassuring to the parental set. As news of the snow storm grew four sets of parents were calling and texting boys in the car. The Animal House Quartet and the two other cars they were caravanning with suddenly realized the gravity of the situation – particularly after they passed the scene of large accident.

My Usually Lovely Husband checked in with me about every thirty minutes. Driving grew more hazardous as more snow fell and temperatures dropped.  At this point the highway was closing in both directions due to multiple accidents and I was feeling positively sick to my stomach. I knew my U.L.H. would be okay – he grew up driving in snow and was driving a humongous four-wheel drive SUV – but these boys… God love them, but twenty year old boys are not the bastion of intelligent decision-making!

i023282[1]The pronouncement was ultimately made that the boys would drive to the medium-sized town that lies about an hour before the last mountain pass and stay in a hotel for the night.   I talked to prodigal son yet again.   Apparently this caravan of three cars/twelve fraternity boys all considered this hotel option to be not only an intelligent one but a fabulous diversionary celebration. I was no longer worried sick about their driving but wondering at what point the local police department would be phoning me. I then sent at least 25 text messages reminding him of rules, regulations, laws, damage deposits and that many people may not appreciate listening to the noise of twelve boys in one hotel room.   I also texted and reminded him that I knew he was rolling his eyes and that they would get stuck in his head if he did it again.

Suffice it to say, they did make it home on Saturday. Apparently they were awakened by a parental phone call from another diligent mother at 7:45 a.m. the next morning and told to get their cute little asses moving as the pass had re-opened and more snow was expected in three hours. They arrived looking a little worse for wear and not smelling particularly pleasant – but I still hugged my young man for a good 90 seconds as soon as he got out of that car – even if I did have to discreetly hold my nose.   (Sidebar: If you do not have boy children – a 90 second hug is like the world record amount of time they will allow you to fawn on them in front of friends.)

It was a long, grey – hair inducing day and I am relieved it all ended safely; however, I cannot help but wonder if I would have been saved the wrinkle lines and the same result would have occurred without the 4,007 communications between driving university boys and parents.   Obviously the boys would have figured out that the pass was closed at some point and they would have managed to find a hotel room on their own at which point they would have used a land line and called their parents who would have been home oblivious to the dangers and minding their own business. Clearly we would still have been worrying about them making that vile drive, but we would not have been involved in an all-consuming minute by minute drama played out on tightly gripped cell phones. Moreover, the boys would have had to utilize the independent decision-making portions of their undeveloped brains and figure out how to cope without their parents advising them every step of the way.

Truthfully I am not going to change the regularity of my communication with my boys any more than I am not going to cook all of their favorite meals when they come home; but it does leave one to ponder if I would save money at the hairdressers covering up all the grey if I did not know so many details and if my guys will be better equipped to become men if I back off just a bit.  Just a thought.

First World Problems

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November 14, 2014

Talk about your “First World Problems”!   I was in a complete twizzle last week because my Usually Lovely Husband was repainting our master bathroom and had turned off the heated floors and heated towel rack for nearly a week! This coincided with a shift in the mild Fall weather we had been experiencing and temperatures outside had dropped into the low thirties. Honestly I had no idea I was such a pansy! We have a gorgeous slate tile floor which I picked out in the “Big Re-Model” eight years ago. When the floor was installed we also invested in an electric matt which resides beneath the slate and silently keeps our stone floor at a moderate 70 degrees. I have mindlessly taken temperate footing for granted ever since and happily walk barefoot around the bathroom day in and day out oblivious to temperature changes outside. Apparently I possessed zero knowledge of the depth of frostiness natural stone can hold. I looked like Wonder Woman taking the leap from the shower stall to the carpeted bedroom every morning during the painting phase. The few times I was actually sans socks or shoes on that glacial floor involved intricate tap dancing to a silent booty base of about 140 beat music.

In the middle of this painting upheaval, (which admittedly I had requested because I wanted a “warmer color” to reflect my aging skin in the mirror) the heated towel rack had to be turned off. When my U.L.H. presented that metal monstrosity to me for Christmas a number of years back, I was admittedly quite skeptical of his intentions and gave him the “wrinkly nose look” from under my lashes. He installed it that Christmas afternoon and I have not looked back. Grabbing a fluffy warm towel to wrap up in after a shower is truly one of the finer things in life. When it was disconnected this past week I was decidedly horrified drying off with a cold, flat, lifeless piece of terry cloth.

The bathroom has since been returned to its former toasty state although it remains freezing cold outside. I was feeling pretty smug yesterday as I exited the shower, took my time drying off in my warm towel and wrapped up in snuggly fleece and wool socks and headed downstairs where my coffee was already brewed.  After pouring my cuppa and booting up my computer, I tucked my slipper clad feet under my chair, heard the heat come on and gave a little shiver as I glanced out the window at the frozen tundra of my back yard. I started reading my email and in an instant my smug attitude was as frozen as the landscape.   A friend had sent me a request for help.  She works with Youthcare, an organization in the Seattle area that aids homeless teens. They had run out of coats, hand warmers and sleeping bags. My blood ran cold. I had been imagesCAEM01LIgrumbling for five days about a chilly floor after my shower while twenty minutes away teenagers were literally freezing to their deaths on icy sidewalks. We do not live in a third world country. This is Seattle – a prosperous community of high-tech employees and engineers. My definition of “First World Problem” has changed permanently. I am not blaming myself or anyone else for not realizing these kids are out there and in distress. Our media is so busy worrying about the one doctor entering the country who has Ebola that it does not point out the suffering that is right underneath our very noses.

My purpose in blogging will never be to politicize or proselytize; however, just this once – I am urging you to choose action over inaction. These CHILDREN are out on the streets in the cold without jackets or hats or mittens or any of the other warm items that I, as a mommy, still insist my babies wear when it’s chilly even though they imagesCAV8XZPSare sixteen and twenty.   The reason why these young people are homeless is certainly not important. Bad circumstances or bad choices – it matters not at all. What matters is that we can help them and we should. Whether you live in my neighborhood or not – homeless youth live near you too – let’s help them all.

Go through your closets – find all the hats, warm 20141115_130514shirts, coats, socks, sweatshirts, and mittens that you do not wear any longer.  The sweater which never really fit right – put it in the bag. Look for that old sleeping bag without a camping trip in its future that has been in the corner of the storage room for years. Pull out the blankets that no longer match your new bedroom décor that are tucked away in a bin. Ask your friends to do the same. Gather all these items and drive them to your closest youth shelter.   If you live anywhere near Seattle I encourage you to help Youthcare.   There address and contact info is:

logo[1]YouthCare  2500 NE 54th Street Seattle, WA 98105 www.YouthCare.org.

If you are a Type A personality that keeps your home clean of the detritus of outgrown or unused clothing and blankets or you simply wish to do more – Youthcare has a direct link to Amazon where you can purchase needed supplies to help.   http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/142HXP7QZ5ML4/ref=cm_wl_search_bin_1_1

For the rest of you gentle readers who are intrepid enough to read this far but don’t live in the Seattle area – here is a link to the national directory of Family and Youth Services.   http://familyorgdirectory.fmhi.usf.edu/    Find your city and find a way to help.

I am not asking you to give up your heated floor or your warm towels – but I am sincerely wishing that the generous hearts which I know you all have can take a moment to help some kids who are not as fortunate as mine. Not only do these kiddos not have a mommy to chase them down with a jacket when they leave the house in the cold – they do not have a house or a jacket.

So today please take the time to help.   If you live by me you can bring your donations to my house and I’ll deliver them. Forward these links, this blog or this message to everyone you know.   We may not be able to cure Ebola, but perhaps we can help a few teens stay warm.

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