Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bits of Life

I have an urge to write tonight; I have words and thoughts bursting to be released. I am always finding complexity in the simple things of life, or simplicity in the complex. Sometimes I feel sorry for the people that are around me most; I get lost in thought and forget the more important pleasures of relationship.

I am never bored alone, but I am afraid folks might find my company rather boring. Alas, this is the pleasure and the curse of being introverted.

Though words and ideas are plenty, I must often refrain from making those public. It's so easy to quietly type away, but not so easy when someone wants to "talk" about my posts. I have found that I am occasionally misunderstood, or that people feel entitled to more of my life because parts of what I have communicated is on a public forum. I don't mind though, for the most part. It stretches me to be careful, general, sensitive, and humble. Mostly, I have found that our experiences (and all our struggles, hopes, and fears) are more similar than not, and meaningful connections in life come when we make ourselves vulnerable. And of course, by definition, vulnerability comes with risk. This risk has been good, though, because I have also discovered that many here simply choose to love me, or just find camaraderie, or connectivity in one way or another.

Still, I often get nervous about writing! So tonight I'm just going to play it safe and record memories and experiences of this season as wife and mother, or just as a person. Most of the time I feel like just an awkward girl who doesn't know much about anything. That also makes me so totally thankful for new mercies every day.

I'm liking this season of life. There are both simple and complex aspects to it; I'm always on a quest to find beauty and appreciation in the mundane and simple aspects, and recognize that simple faith in our great big, and very good God takes me through the complex.

I want to savor this life God has granted, and writing helps me to do so both now and in the future. Jacob, for instance, is such a sweet sidekick-friend and I'm savoring this sweet time of life with him. It is evident that my other three, now all teenagers, are doing what is natural in becoming more independent and less needful of my entertainment. But Jacob remains my little daytime companion. He likes to just hang and talk (and talk and talk). He joins me when I'm brushing my teeth, attempts to do my stretching poses with me, tags along to run errands, needs me to keep him on track during school time. Last week we had an opportunity to head out just the two of us for a short while in the afternoon, and he chose to hike around the side of a hill. It was really important to him that it was just the two of us, and I took note because these days are fleeting.

Hiking and climbing slick logs

Always be prepared with multiple pocket knives, in case of slick log climbing.

Nature is for creativity, imagination, and achieving physical feats...

...and for finding untouched beauty.

We found a little tree frog, and Jacob caught it to bring home for Andrew's terrarium. Once upon a time I would have said no to bringing such things home, but I've learned that there can be great regret in the things parents choose not to do. I have learned it's better to be a yes-mom as much as possible, and save the no's for things that are non-negotiable. (Still working at this.) So the frog came home and is now part of our household, even though he got lost several times in the car on the way back. Another thing I wish I had learned earlier is to find humor in this sort of thing, and not to sweat the worse case scenarios (like the smell of decaying frog in an unknown part of the car).

Of course, as part of our household, I have somehow become responsible for providing food for this creature. That wasn't part of the deal. A few days after the adoption, the boys were alarmed because the frog was looking skinny. With afternoon sports and dinner prep for the humans of this house, I didn't have time to make the trip to the reptile store. Instead I searched the house for bugs and spiders. I have a soft spot for my boys, and the things that matter to them also matter to me. I found only one spider in the garage.

So now we've been to the reptile store twice recently, because it turns out that frogs need a whole lot of crickets. If you care to know, that place is the nastiest smelling place, with creepy creatures and a high proportion of peculiar people. It's an oddly fascinating place, if you can stand the smell. I've been there many times over the last few years with my three boys, and now I'm perfectly comfortable with staying in the car and sending them in alone.

The frog is cute, and his occasional croaking makes us smile every time. I have no regrets on this one.

Life happens so quickly. Olivia was asked to prom last week. The guy is part of her friend group but the invitation was unexpected. I love how she confidently said she would like to go but she would needed to check with her parents first. This was her choice, her deliberate response. When she and Michael pulled in the lane with the truck at the end of the school day, I had popped out from the upstairs deck to greet them, and she told me all about it with excitement. This I savor. I personally knew teenage insecurity and secrecy, and I held to privacy as a right. By contrast, my daughter knows confidence, relationship, and open communication with me. How grateful I am! A few days later, a sweet personal resume arrived from the young man for Jon's review and consideration!

Another thing I am savoring is Michael's enjoyment of sailing. I'm so thankful for cool opportunities coming our way, and especially thankful when my kids thrive. It turns out Michael is a natural, even being selected by a captain at the yacht club to be part of a 10-man crew for some sailing races out in the Pacific. He often rides to the yacht club and back on the motorized bike he and Jon assembled last summer, and each Monday morning I find myself taken aback by the FUN aspects of this life we lead.

With Jon's help, Jacob and Andrew made themselves some longboards. We took an extra long lunch break last week to test them out down by the beach. I did as well, and I'm thankful I'm not a source of embarrassment to them yet! I hope they learn that it is good to both try new things and do things they enjoy even if it's not conventional. And I hope they do it with less inhibition than me.

Friday evenings are spent on the fields again with the flag football season nearly halfway through. Jacob and Andrew love the game, but this past Friday I wasn't the best support. Nope, I took the wrong freeway and caused Jacob to be late for his pre-game practice/warmups (they won a close game nonetheless). Then my car battery died and I couldn't get Andrew to his field on time. Jon was on the train from L.A., but fortunately Olivia was available to rescue with the jumper cables that should have been in my trunk. Andrew made it for his game only, but they also won a tense game. We arrived back home at 10, I made some food, Jon pulled in as the boys were showering up, and another day concluded with everyone relieved for the weekend.

Saturday had Olivia and I up in the six o'clock hour because it was her SAT test day. I have no doubt she killed it. I'm already proud of her accomplishments.

Later in the day, Michael asked me if he could use some bees wax to rub into some canvas to created water resistant fabric. I wasn't willing to part with my good stuff, so I suggested he use what I thought was bees wax wood treatment. The faded metal canister had a bee on the label, but the product was called Natural Bri Wax. Moments later, he appeared at the door and calmly but urgently told me to hand him some rags. He is my son with the least facial expression and tone of voice, but I knew it was urgent. And I knew it was fire. I handed him a bunch of rags over the counter and ran around to the deck only to discover that the fire was much, much too large for a few rags, and the wood deck was at risk of catching fire. But hey! I keep a fire extinguisher under the kitchen cabinet, and this was my long awaited moment to try it out! The foaming spray was very effective; no one suffered burns and the damage to my doormat was minimal. So, yeah, the "bees wax" was HIGHLY flammable, and could not be softened by fire. There was absolutely nothing left of it, only a chard metal canister.

A fundraiser auction was on the Saturday night schedule, but somehow I wasn't aware of the event in advance. Jon insisted that I wasn't obligated to go, but I really didn't like the idea of him going dateless. He's been to way too many formal events without me over the years. These events have mostly come as part of his work, but for many years it was difficult to line up childcare and work out the logistics from my end. Maybe that's just part of the deal for us as first generation immigrants... we didn't have the same network of support for our young family.

So I got my rear into gear, completed most of my Saturday to-do list, and attempted to fix myself up a bit. But I'm a real dork, not a glamor girl. Despite the wind and rain, I figured bare legs were a little more chic than tights, but I nicked my ankle shaving and could hardly get the bleeding to stop in time. Olivia helped me pick out a dress from our closets (nothing is off limit to sharing), and the best I could do was a black nine-year-old dress. It's a classic, I think, and it still fits wonderfully, but I had this feeling that maybe I'm turning into one of those women who has no clue how dated she looks. Maybe my dress obviously looked a decade old, regardless of how well it fit. I tried to balance the look out with heals and dangly earrings. Anyway, I grabbed a clutch and my regular purse on the way out the door, planning to transfer over a few things during the car ride. I must have forgotten to make the transfer because when I went to check my phone for messages and reapply a little gloss I discovered that my clutch was totally empty. Sigh. At least I got to accompany Jon and meet some people I probably should already have met by now.

So there it is, just a few stories from the past several days now recorded for my older self. There is a little drama in the mundane of life, and I find it appealing.


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