Wednesday, April 30, 2014

July 15, day ever!

I was thinking about the day I first met my husband. It was a hot July morning in 2000. I had been invited by a co-worker to go jet skiing and, unlike the previous two times, I was actually going this time. I was only going because my coworker promised that if I didn't go, he would never invite me to anything ever again. I thought that was rather harsh but I didn't want to be scratched off the future party list so I hauled myself out of bed and drove 40 minutes to the home he shared with his wife.

Although I was going, I was running late. The location of my friend's home was in a new housing development where homes were still being built. I remember screeching around the corner - as much as my little Saturn could screech - and kicking up a massive about of dust that had settled in the road. I opened my door and enter the brown cloud of debris. I grumbled as I grabbed my bag of gear and slammed my car door shut. As I stepped away from my car I paused because the most handsome man caught my eye. 

My future husband was barefoot and bronzed. He was adjusting tie-downs on a trailer that was loaded with three jet skis. He looked up and smiled and I did a little "hello" wave. I pried my eyes off of Todd to see my friend, Steve, emerge from the garage. He said, "Hey, Jen! You made it this time! This is my friend Todd. We are going to ride in his truck." 

Steve's wife and I climbed into the backseat of Todd's Ford Bronco and thus began the beginning of the best years of my life. I had NO idea that Todd was single. In fact, I doubted that he was the more we talked. I assumed there was no way this catch was not on a baited hook. 

Anyone who has jet skied knows it is not an attractive sport. There is lake hair; water boogers; a face devoid of all make-up. So, imagine my sheer horror when, after hours out flopping around in the water, my friend's wife leans in and says, "So?"

"Sooooo?" I replied.

"So! What do you think of Todd?" she asked.

"I think he seems like a nice guy," I said.

"Don't tell me that Steve didn't tell you?" 

"Tell me what?" I asked.

"That this is a set-up! We are hooking you and Todd up!" She screeched with delight.

"What?" I questioned as sheer panic took over. I grabbed my beach towel and blew my nose. I re-adjusted my ball cap and smoothed out my swimsuit. I sat up straighter and brushed potato chips crumbs off my chair. This was a code red - date formation in progress!

Later, Todd and I laughed about my animated day of mastering the jet ski. I was so grateful that I didn't know it was a set-up. Without that background information I was able to enjoy the day and be myself. The minute I knew the day was created with a plan my nerves ignited and my words jumbled.

While I remember the day down to the most minute detail my husband remembers it in broader terms. He said he remembers me pulling up in a cloud of dust and seeing my legs pop out of my car door. At that moment, he says he was hooked. He knew it was a set-up and apparently he was excited I had legs. He also said he enjoyed watching me take on his favorite activity of those days. He loved watching me crash and thrash around on the jet skiis and get back on a do it again. The man that never intended to marry said that was the day something changed. 

It seems we both met our match that day. We busted out of the gate and have never looked back. Lake hair...water boogers...and I still found my guy. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Breakfast of Champions

Today I started my day with Wheaties! That's right! Whole wheat goodness. I polished off the Lucky Charms yesterday so when I opened the pantry and saw the orange box staring me down this morning my happy little heart did a sad sigh. I love Lucky Charms. I bought Lucky Charms for myself the moment I started doing my own grocery shopping. I don't have them everyday but when I find them on sale, I stock up. 
The Wheaties were new to me. They were on sale and I had additional savings on my club card. I sort of had to buy them. Not buying them would be wasting a saving opportunity. To be honest, I hoped my kids would eat them before me. Once they spied their deep brown color though they politely asked for toast.

I have had cereal disappointments before. Take Grape Nuts for instance. Good old wheat and barley baked to the consistency of gravel. The small box means small servings because your teeth can only chew on so many walnut hulls. A Captain Crunch! How I love your tasty squares that positively shred my mouth. I value the roof of my mouth far more than your intriguing flavor. 

I was prepared for disappointment this morning. I run, but I am no athlete. I didn't know if I wanted "The Breakfast of Champions." I wanted rainbows and red balloons! Wheaties, as it turns out, doesn't have even one stray purple horseshoe. So, I poured my Wheaties in a bowl and added a few healthy pinches of sugar before covering it in milk. I dug my spoon in and took a mouthful of dirt brown wheat...and...could it be? Goodness? They were good! They were grown-up cereal good! They tasted yummy. My sad little heart brightened right up and I declared, "Oh yes! I am a champion! Today, I will channel my inner Mary-Lou!" OK, so not so much channeling of Olympic gymnasts but still, a really good day! Tomorrow I will greet that bright orange box with a smile!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Seperating Lives

My heart is wretched for a dear friend whose husband announced that while he loves her dearly, he is no longer in love with her. This is my second friend in the course of a year that has heard these words. It truly breaks my heart that my friend woke up expecting a typical Sunday morning and ended the day with a plan for divorce.

I am not a fan of divorce but I do recognize that sometimes it is the best solution. I think what shocks me most is that the two husbands that devastated their wives with this news clearly expect that something better or more exciting is theirs to be had. Seriously? Both of my friends are beyond amazing mothers. You know those moms that see something on Pinterest and re-create it in perfect detail? Those women are my friends! They are the room moms that pull together the most amazing class parties and then head home to make fabulous family meals...from scratch! And, they are stunningly beautiful - both of them. One is all legs with olive skin and black hair and the other is a petite blond with a smile that lights up rooms.

I told my husband that the news of them separating is like the news of he and I separating (which we are not - thankfully!). Both couples seemed so happy and solid. And, my friends thought things were good also. My most recently single friend said she had no idea. They just returned from an amazing family vacation the week before. They had a wonderful date night on Saturday. And, then came Sunday morning when her whole world crumbled.

Both of my friends have young children and telling them the news was by far the hardest part. My daughter is extremely close to these children so even her reaction was difficult. She is aching for her friends. My daughter is seven and comprehends the pain. I can't even imagine what the children are going through. My friend told me that her daughter screamed with her and her husband to put their wedding rings back on. She didn't want it to be true. She said that, "Mommy has enough love to make it work!" It absolutely hurts my very core.

I have no idea what to do for my friends other than be there through this process of separating lives. I cannot even begin to understand how difficult this must be. It has made me truly thankful for my husband who promised he is still in love with me after 13 years of craziness and chaos. It is my hope that both of my amazing friends find someone that will treasure them for the rest of their days. When the dust settles and the tears are dry I pray that someone will walk in their lives prepared to love them as they deserve to be loved.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Mommy Silverback

I enjoy yard work purely for the end result. I don't relish getting covered in grime and itchy grass but I know when I am finished I will be able to see improvements immediately.

Smokey Acres is a bit over two acres. Our house and main yards sit on less that half of that. The majority of our land is a field with well worn paths made by children and dogs. There are a couple horse corrals - void of horses - and my husband's shop which is larger than our first house. 

Every year about this time we get a notice from the "weed witch." The weed witch reminds us that every year by May 1st we must have our weeds and grass trimmed to one inch in height or less. This is to discourage rampant wild fires in our dry valley made worse by the current drought. 

So, about this time every year my tribe bans together and we tackle the acreage. This year, our son was old enough for the first time to operate the riding lawn mower solo. His foot reaches the brake and he comprehends the gears so we let him loose in the back field. My husband specifically pointed out the obstacles to avoid - but he is nine. One busted water main later and he was a pro! 

My daughter and I tackled the trees and shrubs while my husband assaulted the dry foliage with a weed whacker. I think one of the sounds my husband dreads hearing is the whine of the chainsaw when he is not operating it. I am not gifted with grace so he grits his teeth every time my eyes light up when he gases it up.

This year, the chainsaw broke before I did so my daughter and I had to prune the old fashioned way - with sheers. We made great progress until we came upon The Tree. The Tree was dead. It was an old kumquat tree that never really took root. I needed the chainsaw but I had already broken that. Chains on a saw should really be more resilient. I pushed the tree to see how sturdy it was. It was somewhat weak. I began to push it from side to side. I used my feet to push on it. I pushed on it with my arms. I used all my might to loosen it from the soil. I grunted as sweat poured off me. I was in the zone. Zoning until my daughter asked, "Mommy? Why are you acting like a gorilla with that tree?"

I started to laugh as I realized I truly was channeling my inner Silverback. 

"I just want this tree out Ellie so we won't waste any water on it. It is all dried up."

"Well," she said, "Just give it one more push. I think you almost got it. Do that gorilla thing one more time."

I did as she advised and the tree toppled over! We danced around our sad, uprooted dead tree at the accomplishment. 

My husband rounded the corner and said, "How did you get that out without the saw?"

"She pulled it out like a gorilla, Daddy!" Ellie told him proudly. Not really sure if I should feel complimented or not?




Friday, April 4, 2014

Smells of Easters Past

I attended a conference today and all of the tables in the room were decorated with an Easter theme. I paused a moment to take it all in and I smelled it. I smelled a past memory of childhood. Have you ever had a scent propel you back to another place and time?

The room smelled of chocolate Easter Bunnies and plastic strands of green and purple "grass." The wicker from the baskets wafted up and mixed with the sweeter scents and I smelled Easter. I instantly found myself in a white dress with bright yellow daisies on the pockets. I had a bonnet atop my head and my skinny legs could not hold up my knee socks that were slipping down to my shiny white sandals. 

I was running with childhood delight finding Easter eggs that crazy bunny had hidden the night before. I am keeping an eye on my brother making sure he does not find a stash of eggs I have missed. I am laughing and the sun feels warm on my face. My parents are laughing and my grandpa is following us with a camera taking pictures he will turn into slides to show in the projector in days to come.

And, then, in an instant the memory fades and I am again at a conference with a job to do. The images of Easter stayed with me all day. And, those simple smells made my day bright.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

People Labels

Today, I was thinking about labels people place on other people. Little tags that classify that person's place in their life. For whatever reason, I thought of this, and it made me realize how immensely blessed I am. 

I don't put people in categories. People are people and my friends are my friends. As I pondered labels today I consciously realized I have an eclectic bunch of people in my life. I have friends from all walks of life and they all bring something extraordinary to the table. How much I would miss out on if I tagged people and filed them away!

I have friends of all races, religions, and lifestyles. Who am I to judge them? Why would I disregard someone because they are not a clone of me? Thank goodness they are not! What a terribly boring place this world would be. I would miss out on the goodness of human nature that encapsulates me when I am with my friends. 

My road in life has been rocky and I have completely fallen off the cliff at times. But, I get back on the path and try to do it a bit better each time. I love that I have friends on different parts of that path. I have friends that are single, newly married, divorced, parents of infants, parents of teenagers, and even grandparents. I learn (and laugh!) so much from the people in my life. I cannot fathom casting any one aside because I have tagged them with an unappealing label.

Compassion and tolerance. This world needs a lot more of both. We need to embrace all the people that have been placed in our lives. Granted some are abrasive to the touch but we need to tolerate them. We need to learn from them - even if it is learning how not to behave.

Today I am thankful for my motley crew of friends! I am thankful for the quirky and the straight-laced; the Catholic and the agnostic; those that are gay and those that are arrow straight; the humorous and the stoic. I am thankful! Thankful for friendship in its many shapes and colors!