Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In which I explain all day to my kids that Mommy is sad because her Grandpa died

Celebrating his 90th in great health
Today I attended my first family funeral - my maternal grandfather passed away at age 94 (or is it 95? I could never figure out the lunar calendar).

I heard he was gravely ill the day we left for Ohio and I was hoping to see him one more time upon my return to California, but I was too late.

I am, as you could guess from my first sentence, a newbie at death.

But now I know. I am now part of that horrible club - Those Who Have Lost a Loved One.

Those who wish they had spent more time with the loved one before his death.

Those who Regret.

Those who wondered why they didn't and couldn't realize how much they would miss the loved one until his death.

Those who are grateful for distracting kids and general busyness.

Those who grieve.

Those who took for granted.

Those who return to the well of profound sadness in search of solace.

Those who realize that death is still horrible, even in very old age.

It didn't sink in for me until I saw him lying there in his coffin, looking slightly off-color but well enough that I could imagine he was merely taking a nap, as he often did when I visited. He wore all his usual clothes - his one and only worn suit and second-hand sueded vest with shearling trim. And later, Judah reminded me that he also wore his glasses.

Relationships are often complicated - filled with undercurrents of hurt and resentment, disappointment and abuse. But when I consider my grandfather, I feel nothing but the holy grail of unconditional love and acceptance.

Now that I'm a parent, I realize that that is the gift of loving grandparents. A parent and child are too close - too intermingled in their egos and motivations. It is too hard to parse out what is love and what is self-preservation.

But a grandparent is distant enough to be unequivocal.

Others will likely see only the inevitable passing of a very old man, but my goodness how great the hole left in the wake of such love.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

That Day

Ah Christmas.

Never is there so much anticipation and effort than for this most special of days.

We gather, we fete, we give, we receive.

And often (always?) to the backdrop of human frailty and despair.

As a child, I remember almost every Christmas was spent "together" yet alone. The gifts under the tree would remain unwrapped until the emotional aftermath of a big fight cleared, not unlike the toxic fumes of a nuclear explosion.

We usually opened our gifts well after the New Year.

But even without huge fights, there is always the insidious whiff of disconnection, the unshakable scent that deep down, all is not well. We are not the cheerfully decorated and brightly lit inner beings we so hopefully display. In fact, it's like they are mocking us.

We are beleaguered. Tired. Exhausted. Sick. And lonely. Aren't we?

Judah is pondering the cognitive dissonance he senses between holiday cheer and the reality of human brokenness. Obviously.

Maybe it's just me. I've been told I dwell on the morose. Indeed I wish it were just me.

But I know too much. I know the broader context and the personal history behind the cheerful photos shared on social media. All is not calm, all is not bright.

Are you sad this day, gentle reader? Know that you are not alone. Far from it. The entire human race and all of creation groans with you. (Well, everyone except Judah who is exceptionally happy with his Christmas gifts - a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle play hut, flashlight, camera, and binoculars).

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Thank You Parents of FB

FB might be the most annoying place on earth, but the young parents on FB are freaking awesome.

I posted a plea for survival tips for a 6 hour plane trip with a 2yo and 4yo and got lots of great advice within just a few hours, including a link to my friend Leslie's awesome travel tips blog:

Her blog is destined to be a young parent's classic reference - chock full of amazing, useful, indispensable info from changing nasty diapers at 30k feet in the air to resort and hotel reviews. So proud of her!

90 minutes into our flight and Noah is delighted to find that beverage service includes milk!

Anyway, I'm happy to report our flight went well! All 4 of us sat in our own row (Noah on my lap) and Judah and Noah were happily entertained by the new toys and snacks I continually whipped out - a Leapster game console for Judah, peek-a-boo books and magnetic puzzles for Noah, and many many many bags of pretzels and goldfish.

Michael and I even got to watch a movie on our own for an hour or so. Unfortunately the movie was This is The End with James Franco, Seth Rogan, and Jonah Hill, amongst other adorable degenerates. (Why? Long story, but in a nutshell, for sermon research for the Spouse). But whatever.

We arrived at the Spouse's mom's house to the smell of amazing Korean food and feasted like kings. Seriously I don't think I've eaten so well since...ever!

And then I took a steaming hot shower and changed into fresh non-airplane clothes.

It's so great here, I might just tell everyone I visited an exclusive Korean family resort tucked away in the suburbs of Ohio this Christmas. And I may never return!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Blur

One of my pet peeves in life (and frankly, I have very few) is bloggers who don't blog.

I just realized I'm becoming guilty of this myself.

I have a TON of stuff I want to share, but alas, no time. The holiday season is owning my sorry, unorganized butt and I just can't seem to find even 30 minutes to write anything meaningful.

There are presents to wrap, cards to send out, parties to attend, people to meet up with, last minute gifts to buy, a cross-country trip to the in-laws to plan for, blah blah blah...

And when I get a little free time, I'm not going to lie, I've been using my new Netflix streaming account like a gambler uses stolen credit cards - furtively and often. My excuse is that I'm sipping my hot tea. I can't just stare into space while I'm sipping hot tea. I need to stare into the warm inviting dutch oven of The Pioneer Woman or the cold hard cells of the inmates in Orange is the New Black.

Recently the Spouse and I have been watching Amazon's best effort to compete with Game of Thrones - Marco Polo. It definitely falls short of GOT with regard to character development and story line, but I love me some history. It's like a documentary with a lot of completely gratuitous sex and nudity. Which means I roll my eyes a lot. So lame.

Well, I've done my duty for today. I've gotten off my own pet-peeve list. But I can't leave without saying something about the let's see...

This is how Judah dresses every minute of every day. Seriously.

Judah is obsessed as ever with obtaining signs of affection. One day I will have to write a giant blog entry on this rampant behavior (that has me pulling my hair, doubting my parenting, and googling constantly "emotionally needy kids") but today is not the day.

Lately he's been saying:
Raise your hands if you love me!
[I raise my hand obediently]
Now raise your hand twice if you DON'T love me!
[I keep my hands down]
No! I said raise your hand twice if you LOVE me!
[I say - you tricked me Judah! and raise my hand twice like a well-trained monkey]

Repeat 25 times.

Witness the giant pile of my hair on the floor that came from me tearing it out.

Noah, on the other hand, has becoming the most scrumptious thing since buttered bread baked right out of the oven.

There's a mutant alien growing out of my baby's chest! But still cute.

His favorite phrases are:

Tickle me mommy!
Eat me mommy!

Repeat 25 times.

Witness the pile of baby clothing on the floor because the only thing better than tickling a baby is tickling a NAKED baby. Gotta enjoy the chub before it all melts away!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Risking it All for a Morning Hug

Every morning Noah wakes up about an hour before Judah and we hang out together, just me and the baby.

And then we wait for our favorite sound - the sound of Judah thumping down the stairs accompanied by his daily proclamation: Judah coming down the stairs!

It seems counter-intuitive, but life is so much better with both kids around than just Noah. Noah is happier with Judah there. Noah doesn't need me to constantly entertain him when Judah's around. He even mercifully lets me sneak off and go to the bathroom, and refill my coffee cup, and 100 other little movements around the house.

But yesterday morning, I made a big mistake.

Brother - a buddy from morning to night.

When Judah announced his presence, Noah immediately lunged toward him for a hug and a kiss. What mother could resist such a sweet fraternal moment? So instead of allowing Judah to ignore Noah and run to the bathroom because "Mommy! I have to pee right now!!" I told Judah - Just give your brother a hug! He's so excited to see you! (Judah still wears pull-ups to bed so I figured he could just go in his pull-up if he really couldn't hold it in.)

Bad decision.

After Judah finished hugging Noah and went to the bathroom, the next sound I heard was lots of liquid slapping a hard tile floor. And then a little voice - Oopsie, Mommy...

Judah had just pulled down his pants but couldn't get to the toilet in time. He peed like a horse all over the bathroom floor (a la Crazy Eyes in Season 1 Episode 3 of Orange is the New Black).

Hot, steaming, pungent, massive amounts of morning pee.

Ah, "good" morning to me.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Why Cuddling With Kids Kinda Sucks

Look at this face.

Pure cuteness, right?

Who wouldn't want to cuddle wuddle wuddle with this little guy all day long?

And this cute playful human puppy.

You'd think it would be bliss to huggle snuggle this guy and nuzzle his little nose, right?


Totally wrong, oh-people-who-have-not-experienced-the-infuriating-annoyingness-of-my-kids.

To wit:

Last night I went in to say goodnight to Judah and give him a goodnight hug. While I'm trying to hug him he is poking his finger in my ear. Continually. It's like he's digging for gold in there. I get super annoyed but try not to show it because the last thing I need is for my preschooler to get so upset it delays his bedtime by a good 5 - 10 min. Because bedtime is sacred. Do. Not. Mess. With. Bedtime (aka, Freeeeeeeeedom).

I get away diplomatically and then go to put Noah to bed. My little guy likes to cuddle right before crawling in his crib for the night and I'm always more than happy to comply. He has not yet figured out how to annoy the crap out of me by messing with my bodily integrity...until that night. While I'm trying to hug him he is picking my nose. Continually. And giggling like mad.

I've decided that from now on, they can just cuddle each other.

And I will just soak in the cuteness vicariously. From a safe, non-pickable distance.