Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Faithful Reflection Viewers,

Season's greetings! I hope each and every one of you is exactly where you want to be right now...and if you aren't, then I hope that this unfortunate situation will soon be remedied. I will now be taking a short break in my blog posts to bring you a couple of oldies but goodies. The following one is timely and is apparently a favorite of my delightful readers. Thank you for your continuing interest and participation in and of my reflections. Please stay tuned for these upcoming reflections... "Record Highes," "It's apparent envy." and "Cig(regrets)".

Yours Truly,


Santa...jolly 'ol philanthropist or scary bearded sociopath?

Yes- it is in fact, the most wonderful time of the year....although I must say that Flag Day is creeping up to a really close second, especially since that one might be the only one that doesn't get taken over by either the retail market or the secular progressives...but I digress. But alas, during this hap hap happiest season of all, I have stumbled upon a bit of an issue which I admit, I did not see coming.

Even though my girls are very young (2 1/2 and 1 1/2 for those of you just tuning in), I worry for their safety. They are so friendly and trusting, made evident just recently by my eldest when, while our household goods were being delivered, I looked up and panicked when I realized she was out of my visual range. Thankfully, about five seconds later, I saw her coming down the stairs, HAND IN HAND with one of the movers. And so began the Stranger Danger Talk...

Fast forward to the night before our squadron children's Christmas party, when I'm sitting down, eldest daughter on my knee, happily explaining what would be her first encounter with 'Ol Saint Nick. Raise your hand if you see where this is going...

So, after I'd gone into great detail that she would be sitting on this man's lap, telling him her name, whether she's been naughty or nice and accepting whatever gift or possibly candy this "Santa Claus" would offer, I knew the exact thoughts brewing behind those round, espresso eyes.

and then came my stammering soliloquy...

"Ok Lady Bug, everything I've told you about strangers still goes. Don't talk to them. Except at Christmas time..well, only if it's a man and he is giving candy and presents...no, only if he's in a disguise...no, when there are elves around? Crap. It's alright to sit on a strange man's lap if all of the other kids are doing it...no, only the nice kids...no, only if you've been nice?? Crap. Only sit on the lap of of a man who is Santa Claus, although he won't have ID, because he's not real...I mean, he is real... but he will have left his ID in the sleigh... Crap. Only if you're at a mall and he's dressed up like Santa and there's a photographer and he's not holding a bell, and isn't asking for money and doesn't smell like alcohol...and only if he has kind eyes and can name all of his reindeer without hesitation. Crap... (clear throat) Honey, unless Mommy or Daddy say otherwise, don't talk to strangers... "

Luckily she's 2 1/2 and probably only caught the word "candy" out of the whole thing... or else she'll be having nightmares about said scary, red man coming down our chimney...

Letter to the Editor (a blast from the past)

Dear Mr. editor, Sir-
I, well...
I am, uh...
I am writing to say
That there are moments when he makes me smile so hard
That I grind my teeth to powder.
Like last night
When we did a slow groove
Under a blanket full of stars,
Wearing towels that smelled of chlorine and a dry red.
They were warm, moist, and felt nice to drunken skin.
Undulating and pliable like clay
It was the first time
I had wanted
He tasted like wet spices and sugar,
Familiar and yet
Yearning from under a tangled web of
Toward tricky and relentless
Azure eyes
And you know-
Just when my skin felt ready to unravel
Those eyes-
They hid him in a mysterious cloak
Some Forbidden

Sir, I am writing to say,
About the whole affair,
He and I,
Me and...
Bent back, doing a rounded tangle of pretzel pirouette
On a too red, too overstuffed couch like two
Ballerinas...all the while talking about that one song,
What was it? Or that painting or
Yes, we talked and it was like
Cold water falling nervously and anxiously on a

I remember
As if it were stained henna on my mind.
We were in a church
Upstairs under a low, dingy ceiling
Walls with words celebrating Christiandom.
He introduced himself
And when I told him my name
I could feel the warmth of the word as it left
His lips.
I don't think he breathed...when he said it.
I think he sang it,
Notes that dripped from his tongue like something flammable
And he...

Uh, Mr. Editor,
You see,
That was then
And this is 6 years since
And my heart has diced through countless red lights,
(Didn't want to see 'em.)
Blown through intersections and cut all caution to pieces.
It is accelerating somewhere between 90 and a stroke,
And all of it just to be back where I was
6 years ago.

He is James Bond in a martini-
I'm shaken...stirred.
I'm giddy and dizzied and maniacal
And he,
He surrounds me like tightly woven bamboo poles
As he pretends not to stare at the fabric of my blouse.
But he does and it's slow, ivory seduction
As he falls onto my cherries jubilee lipstick.
He is
The same
After all this time.

But his eyes,
They're tricky and relentless
and azure.

I can feel the passages of my heart collapsing,
The blood evaporating into every deep breath that I take.
I am worse than nervous,
I am triple-dip terrified
In a waffle cone.

Yesterday was
The day after
The day
That something happened between us.
I don't think that I know what.
And the moment is tear gas tricky
I am having thousands of minute heart attacks
Jerking around my good sense
Looking every couple of seconds in the rear view mirror
Just to make sure that
I haven't
I don't remember my name, or the day or
This man makes me feel like smooth cognac
But he does
And then he does it-
He does
And I am stupefied.

You see, Mr. Editor,
Sir, I am writing to you because I am not quite sure
How to tell him
That his
Capital I, capital L,
Little o, little v, little e,
Capital Y
Little o, little u

Isn't enough.

I've heard that one.

We had a connection.

Mr. Editor, the problem is,
His eyes,
They're tricky azure.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The 'J' is for Juggernaut

The Juggernaut. That's what Cody calls you. And when you arrived into this world, three and a half short and messy years ago, that's exactly what you were....a massive unstoppable force that crushes any opposition in its path. Every thing you do is... full throttle. When you smile, you do it with your entire face... your entire being. You're so rough.... if it's breakable, you break it. If it spills... you spill it. If it's off limits... it's ~game on~ for you. You're always bruised and scraped and dirty and sticky and when you come to love on me, I brace myself and guard my internal organs and soft tissues. You're so loud. When you sing and talk and whisper and even when you sleep. And you're so very funny.... What an enviable disposition you have been given! I adore it.... and I adore you.

Orion J. ~my sweet, little curly girlie...please hold onto that zest for life. Please continue to soak up your surroundings, your inspirations, your experiences, your passions with all of your senses... jump in, get dirty and sticky and bruised and bloody. Fall and fail and jump in again. Be exactly who you are at the top of your lungs and with all of your strength. And for as long as I am able, I will pray a hedge of protection around you and I will have plenty of wet wipes and princess bandaides available. I am here. With you... I

I haven't missed a single minute. Watching and listening and learning (and cleaning up after) and so unbelievably thrilled to be part of the unstoppable force that is you.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I should've known at "Kool".

I should've known. When I chose a kids' dentist office whose very name is misspelled (albeit on purpose, in an attempt at being clever I suppose) Kool Smiles. I should've known. When I chose a dentist that was sandwiched between a carniceria and a check cashing/loan shark business. I should've known. When I chose a kids' dentist who strangely decided that rap and an unusual (not in a good way) hybrid of Mariachi and Tejano music would be a nice mix for their patients (who are 10 and under). I should've known. When I chose a dentist that close to the Air Force base. The South side of Tucson is in some ways similar to the South side of Chicago, except that it has better Mexican food and fewer crooked politicians. I should've known. When we go inside and the really great jungle gym, slide, rock climbing, play area thingy appears to have been dipped into a Rotavirus/H1N1 cocktail, followed by a layer of melted popsicle and then topped off by a light coating of dirt and granulated sugar. Yuck. I should've known. When they call the 3 and 4 year-old patients to come back and insist that I wait in the lobby. A part of me thought, "You're crazy if you think I'm going to let my 3 and 4 year-olds go back there by themselves. That will be mayhem for them AND you." The other part of me (the more sarcastic one that lives her life with tongue-in-cheek) thought, "You're crazy if you think I'm NOT going to let my 3 and 4 year-olds go back by themselves. That will be mayhem for them AND you. Good luck with that..." In the end, the sensible me won (in addition to being sarcastic, the other one tends to throw in the towel way too soon in my opinion) and I did accompany the girls back. However, this was not before they insisted that I NOT accompany them, but rather peer through a two-way "interrogation mirror" while they were being seen. I should've known. When I chose a dentist for my children that uses two-way mirrors....

I will be returning to our previous dentist who sports the lime green Easy Tone Reeboks and Lily the lovely hygienist who was born to work with kids. There is no playland and the music is unremarkable, but I don't feel like I need a shower when I leave. I will however, be returning to that carniceria for their specials on chorizo and queso fresca.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sir Lancelot and a life plan

Ahhhhh....so many reflections, so little time to sit down at a keyboard. Maybe I'll start putting out my posts via my cell phone.... you should see how fast my thumbs can go...... Ok, fasten your mental seat belts faithful readers, because I'm going to be posting like a madwoman here pretty soon.... or not. I don't know. Probably don't fasten your seat belts just yet...in fact, go grab a frosty beverage and watch a little something on TV. I'll post when I can. That being said, I'm going to tell you a little story (100% true) about a boy, a bike and a life plan....

A couple of weekends ago we attended a wedding of sorts... OUTSIDE... in ARIZONA... in JULY. Who gets married... OUTSIDE.... in ARIZONA... in JULY? It was like I was burning alive. The only things that would have made that experience hotter would have been if the ushers had been passing out pashminas and hot cups of cocoa to all of the guests... but that's not the story here. After the wedding and after the big flaming ball of fire finally set behind the mountains, there was a reception and there was dancing. And what transpired was straight. from. a. fairytale....

Under a twilight sky, Sir Lancelot comes riding toward the dance floor on his trusty steed, the breeze in his hair and a weathered, determined look on his face. Ok- in full disclosure, Lance was 5, he rode in on a little red bicycle complete with training wheels and a horn and probably what made his face look weathered were the remnants of wedding cake and frosting trying desperately to avoid ending up in his mouth. But his name really was Lance and that has to account for something, doesn't it?

Our handsome knight proceeds unrestrained to the dance floor and no sooner than you could say, "destiny," he locks eyes with the fair little maiden M. Rhapsody. And then they embrace. And they dance and dance and dance... And it's as if the knight and the fair little maiden are the only ones who even exist in the entire world.... Until in a Shakespearean-esque twist, there is suddenly another enchanted moment between little Sir Lancelot and who else but another fair little maiden...Orion.... Oops... And so begins the centuries old love triangle.... But as a courtesy to Little Sir Lancelot, I would like to recommend that he not mess with the Musial sisters... they are part Mexican and part Puerto Rican and they will cut you.

As I am watching this from a safe distance, ("safe distance" in this case being close enough to not miss anything but far enough to not interrupt anything.) I can see it all going down as though I'm watching a movie without sound.... and then (from stage left) I see the maidens' father walking toward the trio with an expression that looks as if he's got some plans for the little knight's sword and they don't include cutting the wedding cake....

And if you had been lucky enough to have been privy to the conversation that ensued, you would have heard the following....

Protective Father (of both maidens): (slightly annoyed) Hey Boy, I saw you dancing with my daughters out there.

Sir Lancelot: (also slightly annoyed but for entirely different reasons) Yep.

Protective Father: Are you asking for trouble?

Sir Lancelot: Nope.

Protective Father: How did you get here?

Sir Lancelot: My bike.

Protective Father: Do you have a life plan?

Sir Lancelot: What's that?

Protective Father: What are your plans for the future?

Sir Lancelot: I wanna drive monster trucks.

Protective Father: Really. Does that come with a 401k?

Sir Lancelot: I dunno.

Protective Father: You tell your dad I'm watching you. And I'm watching you HARD.

Sir Lancelot: Ummm..... Ok, I will.

And as quickly as he had come, Lance was gone again.... on his trusty steed... wind in his hair and determination on his face.... In search of a life plan perhaps... or possibly just a nice big glass of milk to wash down the wedding cake....

And there on the dance floor stood two sad little maidens and one protective father with the beginning of an ulcer and a strong desire to start cleaning his shotgun.

Friday, June 18, 2010

This is just bitchin'.

And by "bitchin'," I mean complaining.... not awesome or rad or wicked or any of the other outdated things that people say that mean, "good." And yikes. You know you're in for an awful blog post when the title is a play on words that L-A-M-E.... so consider that a warning.

A long time ago someone once said to me, "Tava, your down-in-the-dumps, depressed times are the majority of people's best-day-ever moments." Now either that was a compliment or he really thought I was maniacal, which now that I think about it, makes a. lot. of. sense. But he did have a really nice car. Or something. Suffice it to say, if he could see me now... Well, I guess you could say that I'm "down-in-the-dumps". I tell you this not to get your pity, but more I suppose to explain why I haven't been posting lately. You see, my reflections as of late, are pretty much downers and I don't wanna bring ya'll down with me. See, "ya'll down with me"? Who says that? You know who doesn't say that? Me. At least when I'm myself.

Now onto why I am not myself.

First and foremost, I blame the JC Penney "Fitting" Room, which should really be called the "You've GOT to be KIDDING" room. Speaking of reflections, if that was mine in their mirror.... Do they WANT you to buy their stuff? Could they have worse lighting? More unflattering mirrors? Grosser floors? Ok, the floors really don't matter that much when it comes to buying, but really? They may as well send a mean little person in to not only point out your flaws to you, but circle them in marker on the mirror, the way a football announcer does over a football play. Luckily, I brought my own two little people to do that.

Secondly, I said "good-bye," to both my inspiration and my naturally curly hair sometime in late February and I must say that the absence of both really stings. Although I've said, "good-bye," to that particular inspiration in the past, it was the first time I said it to my curls. Now this is important. If you have a long surgery or are under anesthesia for a considerable amount of time, (in my case, 12 hours) it will CHANGE YOUR HAIR. Mine was curly. Perpetually 80s admittedly. But never once did I complain about it, try to permanently straighten it or even wish it was straight. Anyway, it's gone. And I will one day accept the fact that when people see Orion's curly hair, they ask me who she got the curls from. (sniff)

Finally, I have lost myself somewhere in motherhood. Now, I suspect just by this statement alone if said in person, I would hear a collective, "Amen Sista." from moms around the country and the world who, without my going any further, know exactly what I'm talking about and feel the same. Can I get a witness? (Note: I attended a gospel church for years, so if I'm losing any reader on these statements, I apologize.) I think that generally speaking, I do a pretty good job maintaining Tava as her own person, but really? There are only so many Dora and princess coloring book pages I can color, leftovers from kids' meals I can eat, only so many brightly colored books under 15 pages I can read, only so many trips to the potty I can make with two little ones, only so many cartoons, computer animations and obnoxious kids' show hosts trying their best to teach lessons and instill manners (God bless 'em), and only so many mysteriously sticky messes I can handle before I am unrecognizable... to even myself. Whew. Felt good to get that out.

I know these things seem trivial. They are. They are not however really what has me down-in-the-dumps. Maybe I'll get to that later. But I have been a single parent now for about 2 months and I guess I'm getting a little... hmmm... let's call it, "punchy," shall we? In the near future, I will be going out by myself to find some adult conversation, some spicy food served on breakable dishes and I will then treat myself to some time to catch up on some Leah posts and maybe a book.... with lots of pages. And no pictures. And sprinkled with multi-syllabic words. And I will wear shoes that are in no way sensible. And a white shirt. And I will not bring wet wipes. See, I'm feeling better already.......

Thursday, June 3, 2010

buried alive.

Dear Buried,

It's amazing the way two little words in the subject line of an email can really affect me. I am often affected by your words, but usually in more of a belly laugh sort of way rather than a heart-wrenching, cry-my-eyes out way. The body of your email explained and expressed where you are right now and what you are going through, but your two little words were well more than adequate.

And in this time, between reading and responding, I sit here full-hearted but empty-handed with the "thing" or "stuff" or "answers" or "cure" to what it is that has you buried alive. Sure, I know that "I'm sorry." or "Put it in God's hands." or one of my all time favorites, "It will be ok in the end, if it's not ok, then it's not the end." are all well-intentioned and no doubt appreciated... but you and I both know that no number of heart-felt and empathetic platitudes come anywhere close to easing, nevermind anesthetizing this seemingly insurmountable pain. And it is for this inability for which I apologize to you right now. I'm sorry I don't know what you are going through. I'm sorry that the rain that began trickling down upon you has become a torrential downpour. I'm sorry that every direction in which you turn, there is grief and loss and heart ache and while trying to console and encourage those around you, you must also grieve and manage yourself. I'm sorry that I am not there right now and in the upcoming days and weeks ahead.

You're a smart girl. And I wise one. You know Who holds the future and you know the promises that He gives to us in His Word. So do your loved ones. And that is tremendous. We both know that. But if I were with you now, I would give you my entire set of brand-new Villa della Luna Pfaltzgraff, discontinued dishes, take you to a raquetball court and hand each individual piece to you to shatter against the wall of your choice. (I would insist on protective eye wear, however.) We could yell and destroy and perhaps get in a couple games of raquetball. I wouldn't tell you that I know what you're going through, because I don't. I wouldn't quote scripture to you, because I already know you're in them. I wouldn't try to console you or tell you that it's going to be ok because I don't if the "ok" that it's going to be, is the "ok" that eases your pain. And I'm so so sorry for that.

You and I. We're words people. And I don't have any. To make it better. And for that I'm sorry. I'm a phone call away. To cry. To vent. To distract. To listen..... shovel in hand and on my knees.

Ready to dig,

Saturday, May 22, 2010


There are three things in this world to which I am utterly defenseless.

This little face is one.

(That nasty public bathroom that we are in is NOT another one....)

Monday, May 17, 2010

On the upside, my birthday suit still fits.

So anyway, (I'm starting out this way to make it seem that there has been no long break between posts...let me know how well this strategy is working, would you?) Welp... it is the end of another birthday for me and I felt that I would be remiss if I did not capture some of the highlights and pass them along to...well...myself and Tennille...who informed me the other day that I needed to post blogs, "way more often" which I took to mean, "Don't call me on the phone...nothing good can come from us talking on the phone."

This has been quite a year... and all I can say is that I am so abundantly blessed. I have a brand new, pain-free back, a great house, a town that is almost eternally sunshine, two little ladies that make me smile from the inside out, a generous selection of the most quality friends of which I am most undeserving, a sister who is one of the rarest people I've known, in-laws that I couldn't even have dreamed up, and a rock star husband, 5 years my junior who I've fooled into believing that he should spend the next 50 years with me. And to think, all I really wanted for my birthday was a day off from my two, 3-foot bosses and the resignation of Nancy Pelosi.... And as I blew out the candle on my cake at lunch and the candle on my flan at dinner (which would explain why I feel like I'm about to fall into a hypoglycemic coma) I had absolutely nothing to wish for. (Incidentally, I did throw one out to the universe at the risk of seeming greedy.)

Thank you to those I spent time with today, either in person or on the telephone. Thank you to those with whom I am eternally connected. But thank you most to my Creator who "has searched me and knows me! Who knows when I sit down and when I rise up; who discerns my thoughts from afar. Who searches out my path and my lying down and is acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, He knows it altogether. He hems me in, behind and before, and lays His hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it." ~Psalms 139~ It's been a tough year in many ways, but hopefully the nicks and scratches, the pressure and the roughening I've endured has produced a more polished and refined gem. As one of my most treasured "Besties" puts it, "You know you are in God's hand, but isn't it nice to sometimes feel His fingers wrapped around you."

38 is GREAT!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

beFOUR you...

Before you grow another inch, learn another word or gain one more bit of independence. Before you stop calling your chin, your "chinny chin chin," and before you stop wanting to be a mermaid princess. Before my kisses stop healing your owies and before my silly stories stop making you giggly and wide-eyed. Before I can't carry you on my hip and before I can't throw you on the bed and before I can't scoop you up and cradle you in my arms. Before your hand no longer fits in the palm of mine and before your feet don't drown in my high heels. Before "Mommy" becomes "Mother" and before I stop being able to answer your questions. Before you stop pretending and playing and dressing up. Before you stop riding your rocking horse buck naked with cowboy boots and your Easter hat. Before you stop eating from Dora plates, flower utensils and drinking from princess cups. Before you stop mimicking me, wanting to be just like me and before I stop being your hero. Before you stop wanting me to tuck you in and kiss you goodnight and before your prayers of thanks stop including rainbows and fireworks. Before you have one more birthday and before you have one more first. Before who you are right now becomes who you were.

Before you turn 4, I want you to know. I loved you even before I met you. I loved the hope...the promise of you. You were a miracle when I first saw you and you are a miracle every single time I look into your big espresso eyes. You have brought me so much joy and wonder and perspective and pleasure and magic and laughter and there is not one day that has gone by that I haven't humbly thanked our Creator for selecting you for me to raise and mother. You are sweet and loving and affectionate. You have a tender heart and soft spirit. Sometimes when I'm with you, I get a tiny glimpse of who you are becoming and will be and I'm just overwhelmed... little you... overwhelm me and amaze me and inspire me.

Before I forget the details of your little face and the subtleties of who you are right now, before the daily and even hourly transformation of you creeps in and steals the little you from my arms and my eyes and just a few short weeks before your birthday, I want you to know. I LOVE YOU so very much. I want you to know that your name, Rhapsody~ "an effusively ecstatic expression of feeling or enthusiasm," fits both you and my love for you, perfectly.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

dumb luck.


Dumb luck is in my opinion, the best kind. The kind that you don't wish for, plan for or hope for...the kind that just shows up in your life unannounced and often times unappreciated. So, in honor of St. Patrick and all that his day has come to mean and the fact that I've clearly walked booty backwards into a pot of gold, I am humbled and am hugely aware of all my dumb luck...

I'm lucky to have been born in a country which I adore and to have had the opportunity to explore its depth and breadth from sea to shining sea. I'm lucky to have friends who always make me laugh, and friends that have always been with me when life's punches make me cry. I'm lucky to have been afforded an education, and I'm lucky to be able to stay at home and "mommy". I'm lucky to have a love who not only tolerates my "idiosyncrasies" but finds them attractive or amusing...(very lucky). I'm lucky to be able to view the vast expanse of the heavens right outside my front door. I'm lucky that my two little beauties are healthy and rambunctious. I'm lucky to have been given choices that have ended in success and ones that have enriched my character. I'm lucky to have seen the "big picture" at a very young age. But above all, I'm lucky to know that the great fortunes of my life have not been dependent upon a charm, a clover or a horseshoe, but instead a Creator whose warm showers of love and grace cover even undeserving me. I'm lucky to know that my dumb luck isn't luck at all...

Lucky me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ride Sally Ride.

Dear Sally,

I won't pretend to have known you like the rest of them. Your family. Your friends. In fact, when I showed up in the story of your life, you'd already lived 59 years worth of experiences, relationships and memories. But what I will say, is that the Sally I met and knew and loved, was no doubt a more solid and stable, wise and seasoned, relaxed and confident woman than the girl she came into the world as. You had made your mark. You were unapologetic about who you were...truly authentic. And what's more, you accepted all of us...just the way we were....unapologetically.

There are so many things about you that I will have the pleasure of remembering. The way you listened when you didn't seem to be listening. The way you laughed down to your inner most core. The way you held my newborn baby girl with such love and excitement while speaking what was most likely German to her. I will always remember that you were the first person Jay called to share the news of our engagement...and your excitement didn't disappoint. You introduced me to the Bear Pit BBQ restaurant and a form of unconditional love I'd never known before. No matter what was going on in your life, you always had time to hear what was going on in mine. In pain and amidst all kinds of health problems of your own, your first question regarding my upcoming back surgery was, "When can I come and help?" I will always remember the way you treated me like part of your family...close family. I will always remember your flaming red hair and your matching personality that would set any room on fire.

You would have loved your memorial. It was strange for me being there, around all of your people...those who loved you. I kept thinking to myself, "Aunt Sally should be here...." But you weren't. And I missed you. We all did. You would have loved all of the attention and stories and fun being poked at you. There was laughter and there were tears and there were ice cream bars. But what I would like to share with you is this. You made a difference. You affected people. What a testament to the person you were, when everyone in your life thought that they were your very favorite. What a gift! And you had it. Filled up, pressed down and flowing over. When you spoke the words, "I love you," we knew it...and believed it...and were comforted by it. The impact you had in your too short 69 years will have eternal affects and that, I thought you should know. I thank you Aunt Sally. For the pleasure of your company (not nearly enough), the ease of your conversation, and for the gift of your two precious and unconditionally loving daughters who I adore because I can see so much of you in them.

During your memorial, a little pink and red paper heart was given out to each person that would then be placed with your body before you were laid to rest. And on this paper, we were told to write a message to you. The thought made me smile, as I thought about what I would say to you if you had been sitting there right next to me.... A couple of dirty jokes entered my mind. And then a brief memory or two. And then some thought provoking quotes that I thought you might have enjoyed. But as I sat there thinking, it occurred to me that whatever I put on this little heart would in essence be the last thing I could say to you. My dear Aunt Sally, if you were sitting right here next to me now and I could only say one more thing...well this is what my real heart (and the little pink paper one) would say. Thank you for loving and caring for so many people in my life who I love too and have shown me so much love in return. The impact that your love had surrounds me every day.

Until we meet again,

Tava (your favorite)

P.S. I miss you already.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Head meet Heart. Heart....Head.

This was supposed to be a Valentine's Day post, so please forgive my tardiness. However, I did feel that I needed to actually experience this Valentine's Day and then of course, take time to reflect because...well, without reflecting there really are no reflections, you follow? Let me preface by confessing that I didn't get roses, chocolates or even lucky this Valentine's Day, yet this holiday remains my favorite of the year (surpassing St. Patrick's Day for the 8th year in a row). (I do find it worth mentioning that what I did get was a full night's sleep, because my Valentine got up four times during the night with the girls' um, what were they... runny noses, cold arms, scary monster and the "just checkin' to make sure you're there" needs.)

As I reflected in uninterrupted silence for 2 hours (what I consider another V-day gift), during our weekend ski trip I found myself contemplating love. Love...I'm fascinated by it...the way men are fascinated by Angelina Jolie's lips and women are fascinated by fat-free, low cal foods that actually taste great... but, those are topics for another time. Those of you who know me well, know that my nightstand, light reading is almost always some kind of book about love and relationships. Husband/wife, mother/child, friendships...whatever. I find the dynamics and the intricacies of love in human relationships just...amazing and...bewildering. I suppose one reason for my fascination is that I just don't understand love. And in my attempt to try and understand, I've filled my head with far too many books to name regarding every aspect on the subject. I've read experts' opinions, Shakespeare's Sonnets, the Bible, and even the lyrics to all of Richard Marx's songs and yet love's essence still escapes me.

Perhaps this is because the English language uses the word 'love' so generically and would do better to follow a language like Hebrew that has different words for different types of love. I love God. I love cheese. I love my husband. I love my girls. I love freshly washed sheets. Not necessarily in that order and how could those all possibly be considered 'love'?

Maybe it's because love is a concept that has been so over-examined and dwindled away to nothing more than little sayings and song lyrics and greeting cards. All you need is... What is... I will always... It's a many splendored thing... It stinks...

But I think my lack of understanding love is that on this subject, my head and my heart haven't met yet.

L-O-V-E (according to Head): Head knows that love is necessary. And good. And healthy. And fun. Head appreciates the euphoric feeling of romantic love, the intricately woven bond of motherly love, and the warm glowing love between friends. However, Head thinks love is moody, unreliable and sometimes criminal. Head wishes it could control love more so that it didn't take up so much space in its gray matter. Head has seen love kill and destroy and hop in the car to make a non-stop drive to Florida with the intent to kidnap (and possibly do away with) its romantic rival. (Note: The astronaut woman who did this was not wearing an actual diaper...it was a piddle pack which makes a lot of sense on a long road trip. Additional note: Heart thinks that if you've never loved someone enough to hop in the car and make a non-stop drive to Florida with the intent to kidnap (and possibly do away with) your romantic rival... then you really haven't loved...) Head needs to understand love. She refuses to wrap around something that is so elusive.

L-O-V-E (according to Heart): Heart loves that the feeling of "falling in love" actually feels like spiraling backwards into infinity. Heart knows that the more it loves, the greater the capacity it has to love. Heart has a greater understanding of what God's unconditional love of His children is like after unconditionally loving two children of her own. Heart knows that love is more of a verb than a noun. Heart knows that it's usually best to leave love undefined and unharnessed than try to dissect and quantify it. Heart knows that love hurts, love exposes and love takes logic and throws it out the window. However, Heart also knows that love is the one thing that lets the light in, that moves mountains and makes us human. Heart knows that love comes over every Wednesday after back surgery with a meal and some quality time, that in its wide-eyed innocence, "I wuvvv you, Mommy," is totally genuine, that it changes flight plans to help cart two toddlers and a dog all the way from Korea, that it somehow grows deeper and wider even after 10 years together, and that once love even died on a cross so that she could have life everlasting. Heart knows that love makes it easy to forgive, easy to go without sleep and easy to put another before itself. Heart has been hurt and scarred, but she has also been loved more than she's deserved and sometimes even desired. Heart doesn't need to understand love. She doesn't even want to.

For the remaining years of my life, I have no doubt that Head will continue to try and unravel the mystery of love while Heart expands and grows, hurts and heals, loves and loses. In the meantime, I've done my part. I've made the introduction. Whether or not Head and Heart sort it out, well, that's up to them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

it's just a walk in the (trailer) park

Spot #79. Agave Gulch Fam Camp. That's where you'll find me these days. That is, if you're wanting to deliver me a pizza or just drop by for a visit. What I have called home for going on 6 months now is a 5th wheel, toy hauler trailer. Yes, it's a camper. No, I'm not joking. I've had so many inquires about said living arrangement, that I decided to just go ahead and make it official by adding the experience to my reflections. For me. For the curious. And for some time in the future when trailer life will be just a distant memory....

Let me begin by mentioning that...I LOVE it. Yes, I LOVE it. No, I'm not joking. I love the fact that it always feels like I'm on a camping vacation. I love the 5th wheel itself. (Those who have pitied me have come by to find that this really is hardly "roughing it".) I love that we have 3 flat screen TVs in 39 feet. I love that it only takes me about 30 minutes to tidy up the place, including bathroom, kitchen, beds, and floor. I love that I finally have a place to put my, "If the trailer's rockin', don't bother knockin'" bumper sticker. I love that when I open the door I can see the bone yard with all of its retired aircraft standing like soldiers in the not-so-very distant distance. I love the noticeably absent yard work. I love that I can get six loads of laundry done at once in the beautifully maintained laundry mat for about $10. I love the sound of the rain against the fiberglass siding. I love the creative storage space. I love the girls' motorized queen-sized bunk beds. I love the fact that I can yell at the top of my lungs and still not be within earshot of a far-lefty. I love the way this lifestyle simplifies things in such a way that I can take my girls all over to explore and experience and not be tied to...housework. Stuff. Things. Belongings. Simply put, anchors.

Now keep in mind, lady and gentleman... (I don't want to presume that anyone besides Katie and my husband read this.) this is no ordinary "trailer park". I certainly couldn't go toe to toe with 'ol Marshall Mathers living on the 8 Mile stretch. Nope. When I sit out on my slab of pavement along with all of the others to watch the desert sun set, I see over a half a million bucks sitting on almost every spot. RVs that cost more than a decent house. Motorcycles, corvettes, scooters, Segways and one ton duallys, with clever witticisms plastered anywhere they fit... "gone4good, eat.sleep.jeep., C.U.LTR, Spending Our Kid's Inheritance, and the list goes on and on.... In my park, the average age of the other campers is about 3 decades older than I am.

But one particular evening, when the girls and I were out paying respect to the sky, I realized what I love the most about my current living arrangement. It was 5 o'clock. People had already been congregating on their designated slabs for some time because as one man told me, "When you're retired, every day's either a weekend or a holiday, depending if you can buy beer." And as the crackly speakers began to play aloud for all to hear one of my very favorite songs, our National Anthem, there was a hush. Everyone I could see around me got up, removed their hats, faced the music and proudly placed their hand over their hearts (including my two little ladies) and I had an overwhelming wave of emotion. Pride...maybe. Appreciation...most definitely.

This is what I'll take with me in my heart and in my memory when my trailer park life is finished. I had the pleasure and honor of living (quite literally) right smack dab in the middle of the greatest generation. To my right and to my left. Up the roads and throughout the park. I looked over at the Vietnam Navy pilot in front of me and the Korean war hero across the street and next door the retired marine who I swear I hear, "oohrah," faintly every time we pass. I looked at the group of ladies who constantly give me understanding looks about this military lifestyle we have in common, what it's like to be a single mom most of the time and having a husband with whom you share 70/30 with Uncle Sam. (For those of you who aren't familiar with military life, Sam gets the 70 and you're prying the 30 out of his greedy fist more often than not.)

It was then, at this sunset that I saw these people for who they really were. These were the people who helped to preserve all that I adore about my United States and made the life that I most often times ungratefully enjoy now possible. These are the people who did the work without whining about what they weren't getting and without the sense of entitlement that I've grown to despise in my own generation. They went where they were called. They served. They sacrificed at a time when serving was unpopular in wars that would never be won. And they did this for the chance to be part of something greater than themselves. These are the people who display limps and war wounds and horrible memories of war like the medals of honor they are, ever grateful for the unique opportunity to have participated in everything wonderful that was and is America.

Yes, it's cramped at times. Yes, it's extremely difficult to shave my legs without contorting into some seriously advanced yoga positions. Yes, meal time preparation isn't quite what it was in the enormous kitchen I had gotten incredibly accustomed to. Yes, I do miss my stuff. And yes, I do prefer to live in an actual house. But without a doubt... These are the days to remember.