Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Favorite

Every time we move, I tend to fill up a box or two with framed photos that never get unpacked. I generally choose new photos to frame and put up in the new digs. There are a few that always get unpacked, like our wedding photo and my trio of photos with me and my babies (baby Nathan, baby Benjamin, and my baby brother). But for the most part, I've ended up with several boxes of framed photographs that move from house to house with us. Instead of moving them as is and paying to keep them in storage, I'm going through them and pulling out the pics to save, and setting aside the frames to give away.  During this boring and nail-breaking task, I came across this photo that was in the entryway of our last house.


I always make a little squealing noise when I see it. Of all the many photos of Michael with his boys, this is my favorite. Look at those tiny boys, aged 4 and 2! Look at Ben's curls! Look at all those baby teeth in their smiles! Look at my handsome husband (without a single gray hair)! Squeee!

This was taken at Disney's Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland during a preview before it opened to the public. We'd just met Mickey Mouse in the lobby for a bedtime hug, and we were running water for the boys to take a bath. We were excited about having a preview day at Hong Kong Disneyland in the morning. And behind all the obvious cuteness, I see three boys who hadn't spent much time together in the previous six months, bubbling over with joy at being in each other's presence. Yes, it's my favorite. Maybe I'll have a new favorite in two days when these three are together again! Can't wait! Now back to peeling photos from frames...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

72 Days Without Michael: Day 70

It's funny how the last week before Michael comes home is almost as hard as the week he left. I'm so over this stupid separation!

True story: in high school, I lived right next to an Army base, Ft. Hunter Liggett, in a very small town called Lockwood. When I moved in, the Population sign read 123. When I visited there last summer, it was somewhere in the 400's. Most of my classmates had lived there from birth. I was the new girl, who had lived in the Los Angeles area right up until that first day of high school. Most of my girlfriends there had aspirations of marrying one of the guys on the Army base so they could move away from that little town. I personally vowed to never even look at the Army guys because I knew that I could get in my little red pickup and leave town any time I wanted without being tied to some guy or the military. And besides, I had no interest in moving every two years, always being away from my husband, and being dragged all over the planet. The joke is on me, of course. I'm not tied to the military in any way, but I have moved way more often than every two years and lived all over the planet!

Michael's career causes us to be apart quite a bit. This is by far the longest separation we've ever had. He's been on tours that have lasted longer, but one of us always flew to where the other one was at least once a month. This is just shy of 11 weeks with no physical contact. I don't recommend it.

There is a typical pattern that always repeats after a separation. I'm a fiercely independent girl, who was raised by a fiercely independent mother. You can tell me your way is better than the way I'm doing it, but you may never convince me of it. I never shared a room, never had a roommate, only ever ran track- which is not a team sport, and love to do my own thing regardless of what anyone else thinks. Being married, being in a partnership, being on a team... all very hard things for me (hard for most people I'm sure). I make a much better leader than follower. I really have to work at being a team with Michael, not racing ahead or to the side or lagging behind. Thankfully, Michael is a strong leader himself or else our relationship might have been doomed. When we're apart, my fierce independence really comes out. After all, in the last ten weeks, 100% of the day to day decisions have been made by me, without his input. With no one here to encourage me to go to bed or eat breakfast, I do things on my own schedule. Or don't do them at all. And when it comes to this move, I'd say I had to make about 95% of the decisions on my own. What to keep, what to sell and for how much, what to store, what to give away or toss. Of course, after 17 years of making decisions together, it's not like I'm gonna go rogue and make crazy choices that would harm us or our resources. But there is a certain amount of control and power held by the one who makes the decisions, right? Plus, while he's gone, I've had to do everything. All the household chores, all the discipline of the children, all errands and bill paying and shopping. And while sometimes it's overwhelming, I've proven that I'm perfectly capable of doing it, without Michael's help.

So here's what happens: When Michael comes back, we fight. We fight like crazy. We fight because I've gotten used to doing things my way without him, and he is simply trying to fit back into the pattern of daily life by doing things his way. And though he would never intentionally criticize any choice I've made, when he asks questions such as, "Huh, why did you stack all the boxes like that? It would be better if you'd done it like this," I hear, "You did it wrong, wrong, all wrong, you don't know what you're doing and can't be trusted with anything you fool!" And then I say something like, "You weren't here to do it! Don't tell me what to do! If you would have been here, you could have done it your way! But you weren't! So live with it! GAAAHHHHH!!!"  Or, my sweet husband will do something helpful without me asking him, such as pick up milk from the grocery, put gas in my car, or fold my laundry and put it away, and I become completely unreasonable, demanding that he admit I can do those things without any help from him, which leaves him perplexed and then defensive, because after all, he was only helping! I'm sure if it wasn't so pathetic, it would be hilarious. If I saw it on a sitcom, I'd laugh. In real life, it's draining.

For the last five weeks, our daily conversations via Skype have featured some variation of the following script:

Heather: I'm afraid when you get home we're just going to fight like we normally do.

Michael: No. Not this time. We're not going to fight this time.

Heather: But how can you be so sure? We always fight. It's like our tradition.

Michael: Because we're going to make up our minds that we will not fight. Easy as that.

Heather: You call that easy? Just making up your mind not to fight? I mean, we can try...

Michael: (throwing my favorite Yoda quote in my face) Do or do not, there is no try!

Heather: Fine, then I guess we'll be fighting.

Both of us: (laughter) I love you!

Three days until we pick him up from the airport, crying happy tears instead of sad. Three days until I force myself to enthusiastically and gratefully accept all the help he can give to finish up the final bits of random things that need to happen. Three days until I'm occupying the same space as my spouse, which fighting or not, is something I'm greatly looking forward to.

And then... thirteen days until we all go back to the airport and leave for Macau, China. *gulp* I think that's the key to nipping any fights in the bud. I'm going to need my husband, my partner, my teammate, to get us through the next two weeks. Because I don't want to waste a single second disagreeing about anything when we are about to launch into the most incredible adventure of our lives. And I certainly don't want to do it on my own when it's sooo much better to share every tiny bit of what lies before us!




P.S. Several of my high school girlfriends did meet and marry their husbands thanks to that Army base and have had long and happy marriages. I'm not saying a single bad thing about them or any military spouses. My husband is only working on a show that entertains people. Their husbands are fighting for freedom and saving the world and spend way more time apart from their spouses and make millions more decisions on their own than I ever will. I'm in awe and have nothing but respect.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When Heather Met Michael

I was 19 and in my second year of college. I'd just gone through a ridiculously painful breakup where the guy didn't just break up with me, he moved out of state and gave me no way to get ahold of him. Having always been the person doing the breaking up, this was a devastating blow. I did a bit of rebound dating thanks to friends who were happy to set me up with friends of their boyfriends. It was the fall semester and I was the stage manager for a show at school. They'd brought in a paid lighting designer (someone already out of school) and the director was beyond excited to introduce us. But before introductions could be made, everyone involved in the production gathered to take this photo.


After everyone went back into rehearsal or off to class, the director introduced me to the lighting designer. Right there, on those steps, in front of that theater. The lighting designer, as you may have guessed, was none other than Michael Chase.

I was not impressed.

He seemed a little arrogant and tried awkwardly flirting with me. He had 90201 sideburns almost to his jawbone (from the original 90210, not the current one), and he was wearing jeans that were waaaay too tight. And, he was four years older than me. Which is a lot when you are 19. I didn't hear angels singing or see stars and rainbows when I saw him. Michael, on the other hand, heard and saw them loud and clear when he saw me.

During the rehearsals and the run of the show, Michael proceeded to ask me out every time he saw me. I came up with increasingly creative ways to say no. During one of the shows while I was calling the cues over headset, Michael threw a paper airplane at me in the stage manager's booth. I opened it, and found he'd written, "Would you like to go out sometime?" on it. I was flustered and said over headset, "Are you in kindergarten or something?" My friends on headset all giggled with me when Michael commented, "I was thinking that was closer to 5th grade."

The actual paper airplane, saved all these years and recently discovered in a box in the garage.
I taped it to the wall above my bed while we were engaged, the tape still remains.

The second I called the last cue for the curtain call, I ran like the wind out of the stage manager's booth straight into the women's dressing room. There I bumped into my friend Keith (it was after the show, no one was undressed that I can recall). I was out of breath and he was sipping a beverage. He asked me about my breathless state, and I proceeded to tell him about this guy who was so stinking persistent in asking me out, and how he was really starting to creep me out and how he dressed funny and how he'd even thrown a paper airplane at me while I was trying to do my job. He asked me who this horrible person was. I said, "Michael Chase." Keith, mouth full of beverage, did a spit take. And then he doubled over in laughter.

Not seeing the humour, I asked him to explain. He put his hand on my shoulder and very seriously said, "Go out with him. You will never in your life meet a nicer guy. I have known Mike forever, and I promise you that he is not a creepy guy and you will never regret it." This was not what I wanted to hear. As the cast and crew said their goodbyes and left, I took my stack of cards and flowers and went home. When I opened the cards, I found one from Michael. It was quite impersonal, simply thanking me for my service on the show. And then, almost as an afterthought, he'd tucked a post-it note in the card, which said that he knew I was busy (my common excuse for not going out with him), and he was sorry to keep bugging me, but if I could ever even find just ten minutes to have coffee with him, he would be beyond thrilled.

I nearly sunk into the ground with guilt. I felt like the world's worst person. I was pond scum. I felt like a stuck up snob who thought she was too good for a guy whose worst fault was he had a bad sense of style. But I didn't know how to make it right, especially since I really didn't want to go out with the guy.

At the time, I was living in a tiny bachelor apartment. A one bedroom unit had opened up, and I decided to move into it. The only downside was it didn't have a refrigerator. Not wanting to go by myself to buy a refrigerator and finding all my friends were in class or otherwise busy, I pulled out the Thank You card from Michael, and dialled the number on the post-it, asking if he'd like to go shopping with me. He was at my door in minutes. He took me to all the major appliance stores, where I didn't find anything in my budget. He also drove me around the South Bay and up to the sea cliffs in Palos Verdes, and around the Lloyd Wright designed Wayfarer's Chapel, stunning in the moonlight. And during this time, we talked. And we talked and we talked and talked some more. We talked about everything. Our childhoods, our passion for the theater, our dreams and hopes and goals. I was stunned to find that we were similar in both large and small things, and that the conversation (once he stopped trying to flirt with me) was easy. Not a single awkward pause. He was a perfect gentleman, opening every door for me, not creepy at all. And he made me laugh, and except for sleep, there's nothing I love to do more than laugh. We literally talked all night, as he drove and drove.

When the sun came up, he finally took me home. I was sad to say goodbye and jumped in the shower to get ready for work. I thought a lot. About Michael, yes, but also about how you can change a person's clothes, but you can't change a person's character. And about how I hated being judged by my looks (if you're a pretty blond, you must be dumb), yet I was willing to turn someone away over long sideburns which can be trimmed. After my work shift at the mall, I bought Michael a long sleeved, button up shirt. A hip and fashionable shirt that didn't scream "I come from the 80's!" like the rest of his clothes. I put it in a box and waited a week to finally give it to him. He also waited a week to tell me that his father owned an appliance store, and he could have taken me there first and gotten a great deal on a refrigerator (which he later did), but he was afraid our "date" would be over if I got a fridge at the first stop.

I was still casually dating a couple other people, and still didn't know how I felt about Michael. As I recall, my main emotion was fear! I'd just gone through a miserable break up. What was I getting myself into? I was taking a theatrical lighting class and doing quite poorly, because it was all math and geometry, subjects I hadn't done well in. So I did what millions of girls before me have done to get a guy to do what they want: I batted my eyelashes and flirted back at Michael, complimenting him on what a great lighting designer he was and would he be willing to help me with my light plot so I could pass my class?

He did. And angels starting singing. And I broke it off with all the other guys. And I went on a real and proper date with Michael (to Disneyland, of course!). And I started seeing stars and rainbows. And four months from the day in that photo, Michael asked me to marry him. And I said yes, so long as we had a long-ish engagement due to the whole only-knowing-him-for-four-months thing (I was wise for 19). And today, though we are on two different continents, we celebrate fifteen incredible years of marriage, during which I have purchased 100% of Michael's clothing. And as our friend Keith promised, I have never for one minute regretted going out with Michael Chase.


P.S. A couple years ago, our friend Michael Yarbro (in the upper right corner of this pic) posted the original photo on facebook. It about knocked my socks off, knowing that out there in the world there was a photo of the very day Michael Chase and I met, and that someone we knew had it. He tagged everyone in the photo, and then just this past Christmas, seventeen years later, he sent us the original. I absolutely treasure it, at least as much as that faded paper airplane. Thank you, Michael Yarbro!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Taken two days before Michael left for Macau.

What a strange Father's Day! This year, Michael is in Macau away from his family, and my boys are up staying with my own Dad while I buckle down and work 'round the clock to finish the packing without little kids around, demanding attention since it's now Summer Vacation and they don't know what to do with themselves! But I do get to have dinner with my Father in Law, so at least I get to celebrate with one of the fathers in my life!

I mailed a bunch of Father's Day and Anniversary cards to Michael, but I'm afraid they won't arrive until after he's already back here in the US to collect us. We'll see! There have been plenty of Mother's Days that Michael has been out of town (State, Country), but this is Michael's first Father's Day away from his family. Wednesday is our 15th wedding anniversary, which we will also spend apart. For most of the boys' birthdays, Michael has been out of town. About a year ago I put my foot down and said NO MORE. Birthdays are extremely important to me, and the disappointment the boys had when their Daddy wasn't around for theirs was so painful to witness. So now the new rule is that Michael has to be here for them. And Benjamin, who turns 8 on the day Michael flies home from Macau, has been telling everyone who will listen how his favorite present this year will be picking up his Daddy from the airport. Sure, he'll be tired and stiff from a long flight, but Michael is a wonderful father and he'll pull the energy out of somewhere (probably Starbucks) to make Ben's day special. I just wish I could do the same to make Michael's Father's Day special. I love that man so much!

I was reflecting this morning how very important relationships with our fathers are, and how a good one or a bad one can have consequences throughout our lives. My Dad taught me a lot, but one of the most important things he did was to be the perfect gentleman. He treated women with respect, and loved my Mom through his attitude and actions toward her. He also taught me that I was worthy of finding a man who would treat me the same way. Sure I dated other guys before I met Michael. And there were plenty of first dates that didn't have a second because the guy didn't open the car door for me. And then I met Michael, who not only opened the car door for me, but he handed me my seat belt and locked the door before closing it (before automatic locks). He treated me like the princess that my Dad always assured me I was. So I'm incredibly grateful to my Father-in-law, who is another perfect gentleman, who passed these traits down to his son. Without these two men, Michael and I would not be celebrating 15 years of marriage this week. My hope and prayer is that my boys will grow up to be the kind of men who would make their Grandfathers proud. With such strong examples to learn from, I think they will.

Happy Father's Day to all you Dads, and to the men who step in to be father-figures to those who need it. You make the world a better place. Thank you!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bookends

First Day of School:

Last Day of School: 
Nathan grew 2.5 inches this year and finally
overtook his Grandma Chase in height.

Benjamin grew 2.5 inches and on the last day of second grade
is as tall as Nathan was on the first day of first grade!
He's trying to catch up to his big brother...

Look back at Bookends posts here and here to see the crazy progression of growth in these two young men!  

School's Out

I think before you have kids, New Year's Day is a really super important day to you. It's a day to start fresh and have new goals and plans. But once you have school age kids, it seems like New Year's Day loses it's lustre, and is replaced by the September to June school year schedule. September is the time to start fresh, June is the time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future.

Today was a bittersweet day. I'm not going to lie, there were a lot of tears shed.

Benjamin said goodbye to his second grade class, and to being a second grader. He was tearful all morning and again when I picked him up for the final time from school. I wrongfully assumed that his tears were over the fact that he had to say goodbye to everyone. The real reason? He just wished that he had two more weeks of school. I'm not done learning yet, he cried. He is an amazing student, and his report card showing straight A's for the entire year reflects that. I'm so proud of him. Especially because he has accomplished this without the slightest bit of help from me. He pushes himself to do good on his homework and study for tests without any encouragement from me. And his success is his reward in his eyes. He never asks for a treat beyond the 100% that the teacher writes on his tests. What a joy he is!  

Nathan happily shrugged off the 4th grade mantle, happy to be a newly minted 5th grader, happy that summer vacation started this afternoon, and happy to toss his homework folder directly in the garbage. He wasn't so happy to part with his best friend. We just found out Nathan's class and teacher will be "looping" next year, meaning that the absolutely wonderful Mr. G will move up to 5th grade next year and keep all the same students from his class this year. Nathan has been okay with the move to Macau up until the point he heard that. Suddenly he feels like he's the "only" kid who won't be a part of the group next year, who will all stick together without him, forgetting he was ever there. That's a tough one. I admit I had a brief crisis with my own thoughts toward this move when I heard that. I love their school, and I'm crazy about his teacher. There are so few male teachers anymore, and Nathan has been fortunate enough to have a male teacher two years in a row. Missing out on a guarantee to have not only a male teacher next year, but the very same teacher that has worked like crazy to help Nathan be successful this year? Painful. I lamented about it on Facebook, and my great friends tossed in major support and some terrific suggestions (Nathan will write his class postcards from Macau, and they will write him back) and I felt better. But Nathan still felt sad and left out today when everyone was waving and shouting, "See ya' next year! Same time, same place!"


Sadness.
And then there was me. I always cry on the last day of school. I always try not to cry because it's ridiculous. I'm not a hovering parent who gets all my satisfaction in life from my kids. And it's not like they're moving into middle school or high school or graduation (I'm gonna need the Costco-sized Kleenex when those days come). But I guess just like New Year's Eve, the last day of school is the closing of a book, the turn of a key in a lock, the final nail in the coffin, the very definite end of something. Today felt even more final, because we're not just leaving for the summer. We're walking away from this school, this school district, this school system, this country! But there was also another reason for tears.

This is my friend Keri, who I've known for 18 years. She was the first person I met when I went away to college. We were both theater majors, but she also got her teaching degree and then ended up using it. She started out as a substitute, but has been teaching full time for the last eight years at the school my boys attend. I would have loved for either of my kids to have had her just once. She is creative and sincere and very good at what she does. She really wanted to be an actress (we were in a movie together! You can see the backs of our heads in one particular shot if you're watching carefully in this terrible film), but she absolutely shines at working with children. And sadly, because the State of California is in such a horrible financial mess, she is one of the casualties of the cutbacks and won't be returning to teaching here in September. You know they always make cuts starting from the bottom seniority-wise. And you know that they are making very deep cuts when they're letting go of a teacher with eight years worth of seniority. We visited her 3rd grade classroom during Open House when it was filled with colorful and creative projects. And we visited it again today after the final bell and cried over the naked bulletin boards and empty bookshelves. 

Every year since Nathan started kindergarten, our school district has had to make cuts to the teaching staff. And every year I've felt very sad and expressed shock over the sheer numbers (the boys' school lost eight teachers last year!) of teachers being let go. But that was before the teacher being let go was someone I know and love. Someone who took theatrical makeup with me and walked across campus so we could get lunch while looking like this at 18:

Keri on the far left, me on the far right. Make up design final for A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Someone who was willing to go to Disneyland with me dressed like this when we were 20:


Keri on the left, me right next to her, Michael as the Mad Hatter.
Someone who asked me to be her bridesmaid, but I had to drop out when I found out we were expecting Nathan on the same day as her wedding (he came late, we got to see the beautiful bride walk down the aisle despite me not fitting into any footwear other than my dad's old Birkenstock sandals. Glamorous! No, I'm not posting a photo!). Someone who sent me books in English when we were living in Japan and I'd already finished all the books I'd shipped over.

You can bet that when those numbers go from being "8 teachers" to my actual, honest to goodness friend, I'm going to go from simply being sad and shocked to shedding actual tears. Good thing she was crying too, I hate to cry alone.

After leaving campus at noon to start our summer vacation, we did our traditional last-day-of-school trip to Disneyland. Even the Happiest Place on Earth did little to lift our spirits all that much.

But it tried, by golly, it tried.

Happy Summer Vacation my friends!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The New Star Tours!

Though I frequently poke fun and say it was my husband who forced me into being a Star Wars fan, the truth is the galaxy far, far away was close to my heart from an early age. I was at Disneyland during opening weekend of the original Star Tours way back when I was a kid, though I don't remember the first time I experienced it. The space flight simulator which originally opened in early 1987 has simply always been part of my memory. In fact, I'm one of those annoying people who can recite the entire original spiel (though I always refrain from doing so because I always find it annoying when other people do it). Star Tours has always been a favorite of the boys, its generally short wait a nice counterpoint to the long wait at the nearby Space Mountain coaster attraction.

Disneyland completely renovated Tomorrowland in 1998, and right before it opened to the public, they invited Cast Members to come to a special night at the Park where you could ride Space Mountain with the lights on, and walk backstage and stand underneath the Star Tours attraction while it ran with passengers inside. Personally, I hate seeing any type of Disney Magic revealed, which sadly can't be avoided while employed by the Walt Disney Company. My parents, however, do not feel that way, and they loved being our guests at the Cast Member preview. In 56 years of going to Disneyland, seeing Star Tours from backstage is probably their favorite Disney memory (You could ask them, but I don't think they've mastered the art of leaving a comment here, so you'll just have to believe me). 


For the past year, Star Tours has been closed as they've been working very hard to re-imagine the attraction. Since it originally opened twenty-four years ago, it's had only one video with one possible adventure. The new attraction is a little bit like a choose-your-own-adventure book (though you don't get to choose), with up to 54 different possible experiences that unfold in front of you, giving you a different experience each time. And it's also now in 3-D. With seriously cool 3D glasses.

Seriously cool 3D glasses indeed!
It opened two weeks ago on a Friday, and though I really, really wanted to load the boys up and take them out there, I already had plans with Michelle to go on that Sunday. And I'm so glad I waited! The wait time on Friday was eight hours. The wait time for us on Sunday afternoon? A more manageable three hours. Which you can totally do with a ten year old and almost eight year old who are massive, die hard Star Wars fans. I was tweeting our progress in the slow moving line, hoping that the attraction was going to be worth the year-long plus three hour wait.
And you know what?

Happy space travellers!
Oh my gosh you guys, it totally was! It was so much fun to experience it with the boys and Michelle and I hope they remember this first time for always. I'm just sad Michael wasn't here to experience it with us. But he'll get to. Oh yes he will! Because our Disneyland Annual Passports expire on June 30th. Which happens to be Benjamin's birthday. Which also happens to be the day Michael flies into LAX to reunite with his family. Which means we are picking him up from the airport and driving straight to Anaheim to ride Star Tours with him over and over until jet lag renders him useless and we have to go home (I'll be driving, thankyouverymuch).

Disneyland! Star Tours! I can't think of a better way to celebrate Benjamin's birthday and Michael returning to us! I can hardly wait!

You know who else can hardly wait? Darth Vader. Of course he has no interest in Michael, he just wanted Star Tours to hurry and open! Don't believe me? Well check out this video!


The research is in.

Thank you, Nathan. We can all rest better at night now!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Cat's Meow

My husband is terribly allergic to cats. His brother, who lives a mile from our house, has many cats. Michael has only been to his brother's house once, while it was being renovated and the cats were all kept in a single room, off limits to Mike. Uncle Mitch owns every game system there is, and enough video games to stock a small store. Knowing this, the boys have begged for years to go there. But because of the cat situation, it wasn't really possible unless we wanted Michael to have a miserable asthma attack along with his eyes swelling shut. Until now!

With Michael away, Mitch asked if the boys could come play this afternoon. They were so excited! And then Mike and Mitch's sister Holly called up this morning asking if she could take the boys to the Farmer's Market and park. She said she'd deliver them to Mitch's when he got home this afternoon. And then my friend Jenny, who used to live here but then moved up near my parents, called to say she was in town and wanted to come help me with packing! With the boys gone, Jenny and I got rid of the contents of six boxes and sorted stuff to keep into new boxes. I'm not sure which of the three Stateside Chases were happiest today!


The boys had a blast, and when I asked them what was the best part about today, they weren't sure if it was the Famous Nathan's Hot Dogs at Farmer's Market, the tree house at the park, video games with Uncle Mitch, hanging out and being able to pet so many kitties, or the Popsicles that Auntie Jamie (Mitch's wife) gave them. Funny enough, those boys tricked all of us into feeding them multiple meals today! They ate two breakfasts this morning (one before I got up, one after I came downstairs), Auntie Holly got them lunch plus plenty of snacks at Farmer's Market, and Mitch and Jamie made them sandwiches and snacks at their house, followed by me feeding them a huge dinner because they told me they were starving! Hmmm... yesterday Nathan slept for fifteen hours, today he ate five meals plus lots of snacks... maybe he's part bear and he's going to hibernate for the... summer? Nah! Just growing boys, I'm sure. They do feel loved, and that is the very most important thing of all.


Boys with their toys. Uncle Mitch on the left.
 As we were walking down the sidewalk to our car from Uncle Mitch's house, he came running after us, with a Super Mario 64 game for the DSi. He said that he never really plays it and he was willing to part with it. Both boys were speechless at their good fortune! This is a game they have both really wanted and talk about all the time. And now it's theirs! Their bedtime prayers tonight were filled with more gratitude than I've ever heard from them before. And because I got to spend hours and hours with my dear friend Jenny, laughing and talking and being very productive, I'm sure mine will be too!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Heavy Baggage

We are allotted two checked bags per person for our flight to Macau. Which means for our family, we can check eight pieces of luggage, plus four carry-ons, plus four personal items. Because our shipment of household goods won't arrive for at least a month after we do, we really need to use our full allotment to bring over whatever we can!

We used to have many more suitcases, but in the past decade pieces have been broken or lent out and never returned. So when Michael returns for us, he'll bring the two empty suitcases he currently has in Macau, and it's up to me to go find six more.

You know what I found out today? My son Benjamin is an excellent suitcase shopper. First he asked me what I was looking for, and then he walked around the store, checking prices and sales. When we narrowed it down to just a couple choices, he unzipped every zipper to make sure they worked, checked wheels, checked the interior lining, and walked them up and down the aisles to check maneuverability. And then once we selected one, he refused to let me take it to the car or into our house! He insisted on doing it himself, to help me out. He's such a little man, that Ben!


We have a rolling duffel that has zip-out backpack style straps which comes in very handy when you're traveling in places where you can't easily wheel a suitcase. In the next few years we'll be travelling to a couple places where that will be necessary. I've been searching for a second one under $100 with no success. Plenty of duffel bags, but no backpack straps. Today with Ben's help, I found the perfect one. So now I just need to find five more suitable suitcases! Duffel bags are great for road trips, because you can stuff them to overflowing. But they aren't great for air travel. Airlines have lowered their weight limits and added ridiculously huge fees for overweight bags. From lots of experience, I can tell you that duffel bags are very easy to end up going overweight. Our favorite non-duffel bags are the hard shell cases that have four wheels and spin. We got several hard shell spinners ten years ago in Japan, before they were available here in the U.S. I remember returning from Japan and our luggage got just as much attention as we did, from family who hadn't seen us in a year! Those cases travelled with us all over the world, and have been lent out many times. Sadly, at this point we're down to just one spinner. I've still got time to find more, though. I've got my secret suitcase shopping weapon: Ben! We'll be good to go in no time!


On a different note, I think the upcoming move is suddenly weighing very heavily on Nathan. This is the first year he's really had a true Best Friend to share secrets with and have sleepovers every month with and talk on the phone for hours with. They'd made plans to be Best Friends all the way through high school, and were quite relieved to find out they'd be going to the same middle school in another year. This friend is Burmese and, like Nathan, is one that has also lived internationally and moved quite a few times. They have an easy shorthand when discussing living in this place or that, and slip into different cultures and traditions with ease. The friend's family are exactly the type of family you want your child to spend all his time with, and have the most gracious hospitality I've ever come across, inviting our whole family and anyone who happens to be with us when picking Nathan up to stay for a meal every time. Seriously, they are a dream.

I'm incredibly sad to rip these two fast friends apart. Growing up, I went to a different school each year until I got to high school where I did all four years at the same school. I know first hand how hard this is on Nathan, because I lived it. It was hard enough last year when we moved to our current house and he had to switch schools. I was so certain we'd stay here so that the boys could go to the high school we wanted them to go to. And now for the second year we're pulling him away from friends.

I feel truly terrible, and like I said, I think he does too. He's carrying heavy baggage of a different type than Ben and I bought at the store today. Today Grandpa Chase picked the boys up from school and brought them home for me. When Nathan saw me, he just gave me a big hug and said he didn't feel well. He said his head, throat, lungs, and stomach hurt. He didn't have a fever and his throat wasn't red, so I gave him a Benadryl and told him to lay down. He promptly fell asleep. That was at four, and it's now one a.m. and he's still asleep. I snuck in to take his temperature again just now, and tried to wake him up to see if he was okay. He sleepily said, "I'm fine. Life is hard, sleep makes it better."  Wise words from a likely sleep-talking ten year old. But true. So I'm going to go to bed myself, and sleep off a little bit of this hard life, see if I can't lighten my load a bit.

Good night, friends.

Friday, June 10, 2011

72 Days Without Michael: Day 53

Because love is better
when expressed in ketchup
and surrounded by french fries*.

*Especially if you steal the french fries from a friend's lunch 
so you don't have to buy and then be forced to eat your own.

Dinner Bell

Without Michael here, the boys and I have been eating a lot of pasta, crockpot chili, and rice with chicken. Things that are easy to throw together and make the smallest mess possible. It's not as much fun to cook for  just Nathan and Ben. They generally appreciate that their bellies are being filled, but Michael appreciates the time and effort I put into creating a meal. The boys make themselves scrambled eggs and quesadillas (not together) on a daily basis. I can't tell if it's because they are hungry or because they are still enthralled with the idea that they can make their own food. On the stove! With fire!

But there is one thing that they have been begging me to make for months.

Slimy Green Burritos.

When I went away to college, I knew how to make a peanut butter and honey sandwich, toast, french toast, and over-easy eggs which I would eat on toast. I think that's it. I didn't know how to make spaghetti or rice or bake chicken or even brown ground beef. No clue whatsoever. I was still in the midst of my vegetarian years (which ended when Michael served me a steak. And I ate it. And then called my Mom. Who turned to my Dad and said, "She's gonna marry that guy."), so cooking meat didn't matter to me then. You know how most college freshmen gain 10 to 15 pounds? Not me. I lost it. I was never as skinny in my entire life as I was in college. Because I didn't know how to cook, I pretty much just never ate.

This was completely unacceptable to my cousin Darolyn who lived near where I attended college. She took me under her wing, inviting me over once a week for dinner and a lesson in how to make what we ate. The first thing we made was Slimy Green Burritos. I'm preeeetty sure that Dar just called them burritos and I added the slimy and green part. They were so simple, and because I hadn't had a home-cooked meal in months, I very nearly went into a bliss coma from eating them. Later on it was the first meal I made for my husband, and because he's awesome, he made up a theme song for them (See? Cooking is so much more fun to do for Michael! Who gets theme songs for their food?!?) and requested them weekly.

Years passed, and my cooking improved greatly. I still don't love to cook, but I do finally have the ability to create delicious food from scratch. Slimy green burritos fell out of rotation until sometime early this year when Michael started humming their theme song. The boys were intrigued, and I created their first Slimy Green Burrito experience. Their reaction? Much like my initial bliss coma!

Sick of our current rotation of spaghetti/chili/chicken rice, and realizing I have only about 25 days to use up all the food in my pantry, I obliged their request and made Slimy Green Burritos for dinner. It resulted in singing. They sang the theme song. They sang of their love for me. They sang of my great mothering ability and great beauty. My heart sang at being enthusiastically thanked (without prompting) for making them dinner. And now that they are in bed, I'm wondering why I haven't been making these darn burritos more often! Here I've been making all my own sauces and spice blends and not using canned anything, while all I needed for this is to open a couple of cans. Such little effort, such big dividends!

I'll share the goodness with you.


You'll need:
Burrito size flour tortillas
One large or two small cans of Ranch Style Beans
One large or two small cans of mild green enchilada sauce (The Ranch Beans have a little kick, so mild sauce is fine)
Shredded cheese

Preheat the oven to 350F, and pull out a big casserole dish and give it a quick spritz of oil. Pour about half the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the dish, and then dip a tortilla in it. Turn it over, really covering it in the sauce. Put a scoop of the Ranch Style Beans in the middle of the tortilla, and top with a small handful of cheese (I think jack cheese works good here, but cheddar or "Mexican blend" works great too). Tuck in the ends and roll up the burrito, seam down. Because it's nice and wet from the green sauce, it will stay rolled just fine. Grab another tortilla and repeat. Add additional green sauce as necessary to keep it really nice and wet. Fill your casserole dish and then pour any remaining green sauce over the top, along with a little cheese if you like. Pop it in the oven for 30-40 minutes until it's nice and bubbly. Serve and wait for the praises!

Since my cousin Darolyn is a very fine cook who went on to teach me far more elaborate meals, I know she would absolutely die if she came across this ode to the simplest, easiest meal she's surely ever made! But what can I say: The heart (stomach) wants what the heart (stomach) wants!

I was looking for a photo of Darolyn and I and came across this little gem I had to share. Dar is on the far left with the curly dark hair. This pic was taken at my cousin Kelly's house (Dar's sister, center front) about a month after Ben was born. Because of Ben's health, I was obsessed with getting photos of family members with Ben in them. My reasoning was that should the worst happen, I wanted tangible proof that Ben had been with us and held and loved by all the people who love me (note the protective grip my Dad has on him!). For this shot, I set up the tripod and timer and ran into place. Just as the shutter clicked, Nathan sprayed all of us with that water blaster. There's another more respectable shot with all of us looking at the camera, but this one is my favorite! That's my boy Nat, always stealing the show! Gotta love him!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reinforcements!


Part of the pile of stuff we're shipping to Macau!
 Today was so productive! I've been slowing down, losing speed, getting frustrated, and despairing of ever finishing the enormous task ahead of me. Two things changed that today. First, I went and leased a 10 x 10 foot storage unit. Second, my dear friend Cassi (who should have been my sister if life were fair) came over to help me whip things into shape.

The Storage Unit: I budgeted $100 a month on storage, and I shopped around our town at numerous places, getting tours and looking at dozens of metal rooms to hold our stuff. I ended up going with a place that is walking distance to our current home. Not really a benefit when we're halfway around the world, but great for getting stuff from here to there! For $100, the biggest place I could get was 10 x 10 feet. I know in other areas of the country, that's a horrible price. But this is Los Angeles and it's pretty standard. Walking around in it really helps me visualize how much I've still got to get rid of! We know we'll be gone at least two years, and our best guess is that we won't be back for three to five. So taking that into consideration, it is far more wise for us to sell off 95% of our furniture, and save a little bit of money each month to buy new stuff rather than spend hundreds of dollars each month to store it. We will store the master bedroom furniture, as it is my dream set that my husband purchased on layaway ten years ago. The rest of our house is furnished by IKEA, but our bedroom is exactly what I'd want if I could have designed it myself. We will store my Great-Grandmother's cedar hope chest, which contains keepsakes such as my wedding veil, the outfits we brought our babies home from the hospital in, and some family linens from my Mom's side of the family. And we'll store our new dining room table that seats 14. I saved up for two years to buy it, and they don't make that length in that style and color anymore. And it breaks down into storable pieces so it's worth it to me. The only other piece of furniture we're saving are the bunk beds that my Dad made for the boys, but we're shipping them to Macau so they won't be in storage. Other than those things, everything goes. And knowing how much space they take up really helps me to purge, purge, purge the rest of our stuff! It's like I've got a fire under my feet and new motivation. Better to get rid of stuff now than to come down to the wire and have our storage space filled to the rafters and have to open up packed boxes to get rid of more stuff on the spot!

My Friend Cassi: With every single move we've done, I always start off fast and furious, skimming off all the easy stuff. I make a huge dent. And then I start getting to the end and I find that I'm just moving stuff around from one spot to another rather than making any progress. On this move, I decided to rotate what room I work in on a daily basis. This is great because I never get bored of spending too much time in one place. But at this point in the process it's not so great, because I don't have a single room that I can close the door to and call done. Normally I would call my trusty Mom to swoop in and save the day on all those final things that give me grief because she's really, really good at that. But surprise, surprise! After three years on the market, my parents just sold their house last weekend! They'll be leaving California on July 30th, just 20 days after we leave the country! So you could say that my Mom is a little busy right now! Enter my friend Cassi. She is an organized neat freak and the exact opposite of me when it comes to housekeeping. Which is to say that she keeps a very organized and neat house. My house is... lived in. She marched in today, and together we finished an entire room (Hooray! One room totally finished!) and made such significant progress on the garage that I sure wish I'd taken before and after photos. The garage is sectioned off with one side full of packed and labelled boxes ready for storage, and the other side full of boxes jammed full of garage sale/Craig's List goodies. Cassi rearranged everything so it's no longer the maze of death and leaning towers of doom that I managed to create. She did it all so effortlessly that it looked like a magic trick. I was amazed and so grateful. We should all be so lucky to have friends/family members/spouses whose strengths perfectly match our weaknesses! Thanks to Cassi, I've got my groove back.

Life is good again. I'm back to work, with a merry tune in my heart and renewed energy and enthusiasm! I found some glow sticks in a box in the garage, and my kids were begging me to have an early bedtime so they could use them tonight. Who am I to say no to that request? Goodnight, children! Hello, alone time for Mama get more work done!

Twenty-two days until Michael returns for us. Thirty-two days until we're on that plane, starting a new life in Macau! Totally doable!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Smell the Flowers

This entire school year I was under the impression that the last day of school was June 23rd. It's written on every calendar in the house and on my Google Calendar. Imagine my surprise when I found out that school actually gets out on June 16th! I panicked a bit, as I need every spare minute of time without the kids if I'm going to accomplish everything before Michael gets home on June 30th! I called my parents who live about four hours away and volunteered them to take the boys for a week, which they are happy to do. Whew! In the meantime, there are a lot of end-of-the-school-year things going on which frustrate me to no end. Mainly because I get in the groove and I'm making lots of progress, covered in dust, wearing cut-offs and sporting a sloppy bun on my head, and I have to stop, shower, change into something presentable and do hair and makeup. This is when it would be so nice to have a partner around to attend all these little events so I could keep working!

Today Benjamin had a field trip to our local Farmer's Market. It's only the second time as a parent that I've declined to be a chaparone on a field trip (the last time was right after I had surgery and Michael went in my place). And, I also declined to chaparone Nathan's field trip later this week. I love to have a strong presence at my boys' school, working in their classrooms and getting to know their friends and classmates, and leading little groups of them on these educational trips. I think it sends a message to them that I believe school is important, not to mention that they are important! I'm so grateful that unlike many of my friends who work outside the home, I get to pour as much time into the local school as I desire. Barring any crazy deadlines, I can write and run our production company in the middle of the night in my pajamas and be there for the boys in the day. So I actually felt pretty bad to tell Ben no. He was stunned and sad. Ugh. But today I had an appointment with a shipping company to come survey our household goods, and then I had to go look at storage units now that I have some actual boxes packed up and ready to be put into storage. But even if I didn't have all that, I'd have still declined so I could keep working on this never-ending task. Grrr. I figure that I'm about to take both the boys on the ultimate field trip to a foreign country, and let my guilt go.

Benjamin was allowed to bring up to $5 in spending money for the Farmer's Market. I told him he had to use his own money, which he did. Most of his classmates got sacks of kettle corn or sticks of honey. You know what Benjamin spent his money on?

Flowers!

It made me think of one of my very favorite childhood books, Ferdinand the Bull. Ben said he wanted to get roses because my last name is Rose, but they were out of his budget. He's such a sweetie and I just want to grab him and squeeze him tight and never let him go.

Here's the 1938 Oscar-winning Disney animated short of Ferdinand the Bull. I had the audio of this on a Disney record, which I played over and over. While watching it, I realized I still have almost all of the words memorized. I need to read this story to my boys if I can find a copy of the book. One more thing to put on my list! Maybe I'll get around to it by the time they are teenagers?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Companies I Love: LEGO

Nathan and Benjamin's affections for various toys have waxed and waned through the years. The passion they once held for Hot Wheels and Thomas the Tank Engine wooden trains has burned out, leaving indifference at best. The one toy that they have consistently played with and continue to obsess about? Those brightly colored plastic bricks made by LEGO.

They had the big Duplo sets as toddlers, and though I've tried to pass their collection along to families with kids younger than mine, they refuse to let them go.

Nathan, age 4, built the Hong Kong Skyline that he could see out
of his bedroom window using LEGO Duplo Bricks, 2005

We took them to Legoland in Carlsbad, California, thanks to Auntie Holly who scored free tickets to the grand opening of a new ride. They loved it. Not necessarily because of the rides:

Auntie Holly, Nathan, and LEGO giraffes
But because of the many play areas filled with buckets of LEGO Bricks to play with!

Benjamin, age 10 months, a young but passionate fan of LEGO!

When Nathan was four he got his first bucket of the smaller bricks which he played with constantly. I'd scour garage sales and pick up random sets (which I'd wash in the sink with bleach diluted in water) to add to the collection. As birthdays came, there were specific sets that they started asking for, mainly Star Wars themed. Last year my little brother spontaneously gifted them with his own LEGO collection... a lifetime worth of now-vintage sets. They have thousands of bricks. And unlike other toys, they actually take very good care of them.

We somehow got on the LEGO mailing list, and now the boys receive quarterly catalogs which they pour over nearly every day until the staples give out and the pages disintegrate. When the Spring catalog arrived, they jumped on the couch and buried their heads in the photos and descriptions. And then suddenly, Nathan started shouting, "What?!? They made a mistake! Oh no! There is a mistake! Right here!" Sure enough, there was a page with several typos. Nathan was indignant, and rushed over to turn on the computer. He opened up a new document and starting typing a letter of complaint, expressing his shock that this holy catalog should have a mistake in it. He pointed out the errors and what it should have said. I was quite surprised that he was motivated to this action, but went along with it. I added the address of the company and our return address, leaving it otherwise in his own words. He signed it, "Nathan Chase, age 10."

We mailed it off the next day, and each day after school Nathan would ask to see the mail, checking for a response. The boys daydreamed incessantly that LEGO would be so grateful about Nathan showing them their error that they would send hundreds of dollars in bricks, or at least a mini fig. About the time he stopped asking, a letter came in the mail, addressed to Nathan. It took every ounce of will power for me not to tear into it! I brought it with me when I picked up the boys, and had Nathan open it the second we got in the car.


Nathan read it out loud, very slowly. It was not a form letter. It was a letter written by a real person, praising Nathan for his incredible eagle eyes and his attention to detail, and expressing gratitude for taking the time to write them such a great letter. They said they would work harder to make sure they didn't make the same mistake again. The letter asked him what his favorite collection was, and told him that they would love to hear from him again, any time. It was signed "Your LEGO friend, Dana," with an actual signature, in ink.

After he finished reading it, he just sat staring at it, expressionless. Ben shared his disappointment that it didn't contain a set of bricks, but Nathan said nothing. Finally I asked him what he was thinking. He said he didn't know what to say. He said he was in awe. That he couldn't believe they wrote him a letter. A real letter, addressed to him, on real LEGO paper, from a real person. He finally cracked a smile and said the letter was his favorite thing, ever, ever, EVER.

Trying to coax a smile after his world has been rocked
This week when I changed the boys' sheets, I decided to flip their mattresses. When I flipped Nathan's, I found the letter, tucked back into its envelope, stashed between the mattress and the bed frame. It was quite worn, with plenty of smudges, the folds starting to wear thin. In the two months since he received it, it's obviously been read and re-read over and over again, truly something that he treasures.

Thank you, LEGO, for taking the time to write a 10 year boy, and for gracefully praising him when he pointed out your mistakes. I will forever be a fan of your product, your company, and Dana with-no-last-name, Nathan's LEGO friend.  You rock.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Boys to Men

It's the common complaint of parents and grandparents everywhere: kids just grow up too darn fast. It's more obvious when they are babies and growing out of their clothes faster than you can wash them and put them away. These days my kids aren't sprouting up quite as fast (though I may have to take that back about Nathan, he's grown half an inch in two months), but they are growing up in more subtle ways.
With Nathan, I noticed something new that made my heart squeeze. A little while ago I took the boys to Disneyland on a school night (gasp!). We were all feeling a ton of stress, and when we got there, four of the five rides we specifically wanted to ride were closed or broke down right as we got in line. So, we went to the Castle and watched all the fluffy baby ducks and their mamas waddling around. We stayed there a really long time, close to an hour. All three of us were lost in our own little worlds!

Finally we decided to go over to the other park, Disney California Adventure to ride California Screamin', which has a loop in it. The boys declared that we would ride it until someone threw up. No one threw up, but there was hardly a line and after four times in rapid succession, the boys were asking if they couldn't go on the nearby children's merry go round! 

4th time around! Someone is looking a little green...
While we were waiting in line over and over again, I noticed a group of three young girls who kept getting in line just in front of us or just behind us. They were giggling like maniacs, doing silly little things to show off, and sneaking glances at Nathan. Through listening to their conversation, I learned that they were currently in the 6th grade and they thought my son, who towered over them, was cute. Gulp. My fourth grade son.  My ten year old. Girls in the 6th grade were making googly eyes at my baby.

I admit that when the boys said they wanted to go on the slower, gentler, merry go round, I was quite happy to let them. I wanted to get off the roller coaster, and I don't mean California Screamin'. I'm not ready for girls to be interested in my son. Or for that matter, for my son to be interested in girls. The first week of school this year Nathan admitted that he may have been wrong in thinking that all girls were gross and to be avoided at all costs. He's had a small but consistent crush on a girl that doesn't give him the time of day, which is fine with me. I don't think Nathan noticed the girls in line as he was deep in conversation with his brother about the current object of his desire: the Wii Lego Pirates of the Caribbean game. Please, my darling little boy, stay more interested in video games than girls for a few more years! Whoa. Now that's a sentence I never thought I'd utter, let alone put down in writing! Normally I'm trying to get him interested in anything but video games!

Feeling mildly distraught, I let the boys talk me into frozen lemonade. Which we ate while looking at more baby ducks. *sigh*


And then there is Benjamin. Benjamin who is the light of my life and the dearest of dear children. He's so sincere all the time that I don't have to wonder at all what he'll be like as an adult or an old man. What he'll be like in his teens is the wild card, but I have to say that he's so consistent with such a strong sense of right and wrong and justice, that I doubt (and hope and pray) that he'll ever get into much serious trouble. He doesn't have to experience something wrong to know it's wrong. With Nathan, you can tell him something is wrong and should be avoided and he'll do it anyway, every single time, because he wants to see for himself why it's wrong or if he'll really get in trouble for doing it. Ben learns from other's mistakes so he doesn't have to make them himself. Not that he's perfect! He still makes plenty of mistakes! But he just so different from Nathan.

With Ben, you can see him longing to be an adult. He's so anxious for the future to be here, now. It's funny how people talk about how the first born never gets to (drive, date, stay out past 10pm, watch PG 13 rated films) until they are a certain age, but then subsequent children get to do things earlier. This is already so true in our household. There's really nothing that Nathan can do that Ben isn't also allowed to do. Part of it is they have two very different personalities with younger Ben frequently displaying more maturity than his older brother, but part of it is that it's very hard to let Nathan have an experience without letting Ben do it too. I'm an oldest child, so I recognize that it's not fair to Nathan, but for now, it is what it is. But there is one experience that Ben tried to rush, even before Nathan:

Benjamin tried to shave. He got one of my shavers and went to town on his upper lip while he was in the shower. In the process, he actually removed a chunk of his lip. He waited several minutes, trying to hide the evidence with towels and water before finally calling me in a panic. When I opened the bathroom door, I was greeted by a shower scene straight out of Psycho! There was so much blood all over his body, all over the shower, and all over a wash cloth and bath towel that my mind struggled to comprehend what I was seeing. 

I tried to stay calm and figure out where the blood was coming from... not easy to do when the shower is still going and making the blood run! After checking that all his teeth were still in place, he finally admitted what he'd done. I calmly asked him what we learned in Cub Scouts about first aid for a bleeding wound, and he knew that we needed to apply pressure. I sacrificed another washcloth to the cause. After 30 minutes, the blood stopped and I put on some prescription antibiotic ointment and a bandage and sent him to bed. And before you think that Michael is so lucky to have missed all this drama, please know that Nathan and I were actually talking to him on Skype when it happened! So he heard the yelling and the shrieking and I'm sure it wasn't easy on him to be so far away as the drama unfolded just off screen, while the ever-dramatic Nathan gave Mike the play-by-play!

The next day Michael had a long talk via Skype with Ben. He asked him why he did it. Ben tearfully said he wanted to be more like Daddy and thought shaving would bring them closer (I think his actual words were "we can be the same then"). Michael promised to teach Ben to shave when the time was right, but that it wouldn't be right for quite a few more years. I was listening in from just outside the door, holding back tears at Benjamin's earnestness and eagerness to grow up and be a man like his Dad. Once again, with feeling: *sigh*

It's so true, these kids are growing up way too fast. There's nothing I can do to stop it. The best I can do is to just grow up, right along side them. I'm so busy and stressed and feel like I'm missing so much. I'm so grateful to have a spot like this to put it all down, best I can. Because I know that when they are 16 and 14 I'll come back and read this and probably laugh my head off  over being concerned about girls "liking" Nat and Ben trying to shave.

But this is where I am today. And I'm simply not ready to grow up any faster than I have to! Now if only I could teach my boys the same thing.

Thursday, June 2, 2011