Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Reason for the Season, Deconstructed

"Mom, Hanukkah is better than Christmas."

"Why is that?"

"Because if you celebrate Hanukkah you get presents for eight days."

"Yes, but you usually get more than one gift also, you just get them all in one day."

"Okay, but I'm celebrating both."

One week later:

"Mom, Hanukkah is better than Christmas."

"Why is that?"

"Because Hanukkah is about freedom, and Christmas is just about Jesus' birthday, don't you think freedom is more important than a person's birthday?"

"Generally, yes I do. Some people also believe Jesus was the greatest teacher that ever lived."

"Yeah, the greatest teacher who ever far."

"By the way, Mom, what does Santa Claus have to do with Jesus' birthday anyway?"

"Frankly, I haven't a clue."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tis the Season, for Letters!

Santa has his work cut out for him this year.

Dear santa,

I'd Like: a tv, a radio, a gas stacin, a real car. $10000000000000000000.55, a horse, a cow, a chicken, a rooster, birds, a lab 2000 feet under ground and a elavator to go there. now faint! a radio stacion, a code bar, everybody that isn't felling good to fell better, the pepole that are in pain to fell better.



Dear rudolph,

wich story is true? the movie? the origonal? the song? the other storys? a whole other story? Did you pull Santas slay? What is your xmas list? Is your nose actully red? the storys about you are good. merry flight.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

She said, He said

"I'm starting to lose my patience."

"It's okay, just caaalllmmm yourself down."

Good thing I have him coaching me through the tough times.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Proud to Claim the Title"

Dakota Meyer - Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor recipient, Dakota Meyer's boots, by Sgt. Jimmy D. Shea

Happy 236th!

Monday, October 31, 2011

"We Own Halloween"

It was another fabulous Halloween trek through the neighborhood.

Aunt Celine had the most impressive makeup of the night, this one will go down in history right along with her leopard face.

We had the pleasure of the Goldstein Newmans join us for the festivities--a tradition I hope continues.

Halloween has quickly become my favorite holiday. Not only are the skeletons and pirates out in the crisp night, but also this very special kid who becomes a typical, carefree, happy six year old.

There's also running and being the leader of the pack. I'm so pleased for him to experience that side of himself.

The running is the best.

He may disagree.

Friday, October 21, 2011


When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama said:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Quotes of the Day

On putting his toy box back together:
"I'm better at electronic things and building things than you, because I'm a man and I've been practicing my whole life."

On parenting:
"Just say it once, then ignore, ignore, ignore, finally I might do what you said."

More on parenting:
"You scream at me and don't even treat me with care." Ouch

On the movie "A Dolphin Tale":
"I emailed them and told them their movie changed my life."

First Day ~ First Grade ~ Sept 6, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gone Fishin'

"Mom, Mom, we're going fishing!"

"Great, are you and Daddy going to have a father and son day fishing on the lake?"

"No, you get to go too, and you and me will share a fishing pole, and we're getting a motor boat! Are you willing to cook the fish for dinner?"

"Sure, no problem," I said, scheming my way to the fish market. No worries, quick, easy, no problem.

Shaun, was not happy, such schemes are not in his repertoire and I'm sure he finds me derelict in my parenting duties by even considering such things. There was sighing and eyes were rolling. He was in favor of the catch and release program, while Nate was planning a full on fish fry. I quietly questioned whether this was all really a necessary conversation because wasn't it highly unlikely any fish would be in our custody anyway? More eye rolling. My lackadaisical way of going about certain things annoys him; I think because he figures he'll have to pay the price for it later. So not true, well usually not, but who's counting anyway?

The closest thing either of us has come to cleaning a fish was the hack job that Grayson and he committed against a trout with a dull ax on the shore of Mammoth Lake a decade ago. It didn't end well, and we didn't have fish for dinner that night.

I decided to give it one last shot with Nate in an attempt to appease Shaun. "So Nate, we're trying to figure out a plan with the fish we might catch. We have a couple of choices. We could catch them and then release them so they can live the rest of their lives swimming happily in the lake, (I almost made a fish mommy and daddy reference, but restrained myself) or we can catch them and do our best to clean and cook them, but I've never done it before so it may not go too well."

No hesitation from the little fisherman whatsoever, "We'll kill them and eat them for dinner." Period, end of story. I liked his decisiveness and while I wasn't surprised, it still seemed slightly out of character since he likes to discuss things at length and also tends to be quite sensitive. Just this past spring we harvested the compost from our worm bin and the task was made even more tedious by Nate's need to console each and every worm he came in contact with. Thankfully, Scooby Doo is always on the ready to save me from a difficult situation.

We gathered our supplies and made our way to the lake. We decided to take Cooper too, so I was given a reprieve from the full on fishing experience.

And so they were off.

And we were off too, it was nearly noon and hot.

The lake was beautiful as ever.

We chose a new path and made our way around.

We found the boys on the other side--fishless, thank goodness I wouldn't be learning to gut a fish on this particular day.

Finally, we found some shade.

Another first done and gone.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Sentimental kid that he is, the first three teeth he lost are in a tiny jar next to the wine glasses in a cupboard. I should clarify, by his own choice, he wanted to save the teeth rather than give them up to the tooth fairy. It's not all sentiment though, there was some mistrust that said tooth fairy might just take his teeth and give him nothing in return.

This time, he had big plans and went for the cash. You see, at school the kids have the opportunity to open a bank account with Mission Federal with no fees and no minimum deposit requirements. Nate already has a bank account, but recently decided that he needs another one, you know--a business account for his lemonade and ice cream stands. He figured the Tooth Fairy would be as good a venture capitalist as any.

He carefully placed the tiny tooth in an envelope and made his request, politely even, and with perfect spelling.

my fourth tooth
Dear tooth fairy, please Give 5 Dollars to me please, nate

He checked that envelope under his pillow at least a kajillion times, telling me during book time how nervous he was that the tooth would break through the envelope and get lost, rendering him toothless and penniless. We wondered what the tooth fairy looked like, the extent of her magical abilities, if she could defend herself against Shelby, Tesla, and Cooper; and if she was actually powered by teeth.

At precisely 3:30am we got the news bulletin--bedside--that the tooth fairy did in fact come and she gave him exactly what he asked for.

"Next time, I'm asking for five thoooooouuuuuuuusand dollars!"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hello Bright Eyes

Harper Rey ~ July 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One Sunday Afternoon

We were fighting the new school year cold, but it was just too beautiful a day to stay inside. Neither of us had energy for much so we decided to head down to Target--I had intentions of adding something fun to our excursion but decided to measure both of our moods for what turned out to be a very short amount of time, before sharing that thought.

We drove south and a black laquered corvette rumbled passed us. I asked Nate if he liked it.

"Yeah, but do you want to know what my favorite car is?"

I half expected him to say a Ford Fairlane, or some other of his dad's favorites, but's "a taxi cab".

"Huh? Really?"

Of course, he's a practical child and named such a vehicle as his favorite because we need taxi cabs, you see, "for when people make bad choices and need to get home". While I wondered who had been talking to him about drinking and driving, he clarified the bad choices to be bad parking choices. Such as the one I apparently made when I chose to park in front of someone's second driveway that has a huge locked gate across it and a humongous covered RV right on the other side. That gate hasn't been opened once in the last five years, plus I was only going to be there for five minutes, officer...

Whatever, I needed a diversion, and fast. Instead of exiting to buy a coffee pot at Target, we headed downtown. Seaport Village to be exact, where I found a proper and legal parking spot. I'm sure the merry-go-round would have been great, but this afternoon, I was pulling out the big guns. He jumped up and down the entire way. Given his propensity to explain things to me, pure six year old excitement is a real treat.

We were in luck, we twirled through the front revolving door a time or ten and entered the elevator for our first ride at 3:12pm. The Top of the Hyatt opens at 3:00pm. Also lucky that on Sunday afternoon the hotel was relatively empty, I truly don't think we disturbed anyone with our shenanigans. But then, I'm the scofflaw in the family.

The doors opened on the 40th floor and we exited to views of San Diego in all her glory. He ran ahead calling, "Mom, Mom, hurry, LOOK!"

"They have phones!! Let's call Daddy!!"

After a thorough tour of the hotel including each elevator car, several escalators, and the rotating front door; we took a quick stroll through Seaport Village for some jelly bellies and cheap sunglasses, then our mission was complete.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Friday, September 16, 2011

"Wind In The Willows"

I recently had the pleasure of taking Nate and his buddy Isaac on a field trip. We were in for a day of trains, boats and swings. There would also be burritos, discussions, instructions and sunscreen.

The sophistication and depth of their conversations around mechanical applications seems oddly out of place coming from car seats in the back seat. Had I paid better attention I might be well equipped to start a new career as an electrician or at least light the neighborhood in our next black out with the use of generators.

I've known for some time that men often look at the world in terms of how it and the things in it work. Seeing these boys together sorta drives that point home. The simplicity of turning a steering wheel and proceeding in that direction just doesn't exist in their world.

Trying to get a smile out of Isaac, I asked what his favorite word was before snapping this shot. The response was classic Isaac..."Electricity!" Nate answered the same question in Eddie Haskell style, "Mommy" and then, "No, actually, Lunch!"

Ah, but let me assure you of their many dimensions. They were discerning and thoughtful shoppers for a person other than themselves. They loved the swings as much as they ever did and took over the playground climbing structure as a ship in search of bad guys. One of their newly made friends was only slightly disappointed when his parents picnicking in the grass were determined to be the nefarious ones.

While we drove, I overheard Nate tell Isaac, "You have really long eyelashes, I bet those will help you get a girlfriend someday." (!?!?)

"Yeah, but I already have a girlfriend." (!?!?)

Isaac observed how pretty a weeping willow tree was, saying he didn't think he had ever seen one. Together we noticed how the sunshine landed on the grand specimen and the pale green of the long leaves. I commented how lovely the willow was when a soft breeze moved through it. Such a thoughtful boy, before we reached the end of the block, he masterminded a plan to dig up the tree and affix it to the top of my car so that the wind in the willow would always be mine, just a glance in the rear view mirror away.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nicely Done

The Kook's never looked better.

I sure miss seeing these guys at Sea World.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


"Mom, did everyone forget to pay their electricity bill?"

San Diego Skyline
Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aim High

En route to swimming lessons we drive through an area of town that may have the most intersections and stoplights within one square mile of the city. Invariably there are a lot of cars lined up in every direction. Other than the fact that all of these streets converge in a confusing manner, it's a prime location for people carrying cardboard signs, looking for a little help in tough times.

Yesterday was swimming lesson day. We pulled behind three other cars, stopped and waited for the light to turn green. I noticed a man seated, with a sign, on the right hand side of the intersection. Life had folded his skin rather than creased it. His limbs were long and strong. Dead eyes looked down and around heavy lids, barely up and over the sign he held in his lap. His appearance moved me. I found him courageous.

Nate sits on the right side of the car, and was staring in the direction of the man. This seemed a better time to discuss homelessness than the opportunity we had a few days ago on the Ventura Pier with the batshit crazy drunken loon of a woman lunging toward us screaming, "Hey, where'd you get that kid?? I need to get me one of those!" I'm quite a bit less compassionate when the crazy is unpredictable, scary, and forty feet above waves crashing on rocks...

The light changed and I asked Nate, "What do you think of that guy?"

"I think I can't read his sign."

We traveled passed the man and through the intersection.

"Mom, how does he think he's going to get any money if we can't read his sign? All I can see is 'Need', plus it's all bent up and he's not even pointing it in the right direction."

Hmmm, sorry I asked. A wise woman would ferme la bouche..."It looks like maybe he's had a hard life."

"No, I think he just wants our money."

"Maybe he's having a tough time right now and could use some help."

"No, he looks fine to me; you don't have to worry about him Mom, it's just a jip."

"A what?"

"A jip. He's just trying to jip everyone out of their money so he doesn't have to get a job and actually earn money. He just takes everyone elses."

"I see." Thankfully we were almost to the pool, but not soon enough.

"Mom, the problem with that is that when I get older I think that I may not be very healthy and then no one will give me any money when I ask for it because those guys who actually should get a job are taking all the money and tricking everyone when actually, I will be the one needing the money."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Two And A Half Men (and one wild pup)

We celebrated our Leo birthdays with Grayson at The Lake this year.

It's become a regular spot.

The boys rented a boat, while Cooper and I hiked, we all picnicked.

They allowed me a few pics, and then they were done with me.

It was a fun afternoon with all my boys together.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


One of the great things about being mom to my kid is all the great conversations we have. I admit, there are more conversations than I prefer at times. Actually, it's probably that certain conversations simply go on too long. I have not mastered the art of ending them gracefully, that's for sure. I may have even stopped trying. In diplomacy, there is always wiggle room for your opposition to get back in the game. I hope I'm not damaging my son by telling him directly, 'I am not discussing the inner workings of the (DMV)anymore, ever again, period.' Frankly, I think I need to tell him sooner in the process, because sometimes, that's exactly what it is...a long, long process. Also, I must learn to ignore him, they say choosing your battles in marriage and child rearing is key, and I believe it. Letting the battles go is tough though, particularly when all your buttons are being hammered on at once.

I went to a parenting class a few years ago and one of the group exercises was for each person to anonymously write down one of his or her particular parenting challenges and toss it into a hat. Each group then picked problems out of the hat and attempted to give unbiased constructive feedback toward solutions. Generally, a fine idea and lots of great ideas were exchanged. I did not express my challenge adequately. The solution I got to my incessant talker and foolish self imposed requirement to engage fully and answer every thought and whim every time, in every conversation was, ready for this? to give said child my undivided attention, look him in the eye, and tell him, "I care about what you have to say, and I'm willing to listen for 4.5 minutes, then I'm going to make dinner." Really? Was there some slight of hand in there that I completely missed? Does the 4.5 minute bit activate an off switch that nobody told me about? 4.5 minutes is not a problem. 4.5 hours, days or weeks is a problem, depending on the subject matter. Maybe I am a selfish and terrible mother for seeking ways to hush my child's voice, his inquisitive and bright mind, his very curiosity.

Really, I am most interested, dedicated even, to facilitating his interests, helping him find his passion, his expression. With that in mind, we may need to rework the last of the summer hit list. Do they offer summer camp or tours of the post office, DMV, or EDCO?

Drop off tours that is.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Workin' for a Livin'"

The late afternoon sun was streaming in, glowing past the sheers fluttering in the breeze. Nate was in the bathtub rinsing the sand and chlorine from his afternoon at surf camp followed by his swimming lesson at our local Boys and Girls Club. I scurried around rinsing and hanging swimming gear, trying to get dinner on the table and meeting the needs of our lonely puppy.

Before long, I heard the water draining from the tub...I took Cooper out to the front yard and when we returned Nate appeared on the steps looking down at me. He was still wet from the bath, wrapped in a fluffy white towel. His skin pink from the afternoon at the beach and eyes that shone from fatigue and tears.


"Yeah? Are you okay?"

"Mom, it's time."

Oddly, I felt like he was a pregnant wife, needing to get to the hospital. "Time? Time for what?"

"It's time for me to go."

"Go where?"

"Mom, I'm going to miss you every day." Tears rolled.

By this point, I was thoroughly confused, feeling trapped in a melodrama in which one of us was surely doomed. "How about we get you dressed and talk about this some more in your room?" More tears, quiet streaming tears from brilliant blue shining eyes. Tired eyes.

"Mom, it's just time for me to go. I've supported you long enough. It's time for me to move on."

"Oh my, that sounds rough. How is it that you've supported me?"

"You know, growing potatoes and corn for our family, I just can't do it anymore." (It's true, he is getting quite a harvest this year, eight potatoes and 3 ears of corn; grown from an old potato and a bag of microwave popcorn no less.)

"That is hard work. How about Dad and I take care of supporting us from now on and you stick around a while longer?"

"No, I have to go. Now I have to say goodbye to Dad and Cooper." More tears and some wailing...Instead of exiting his room for goodbyes, he shut his door. "August 28 is when I have to leave."

"I'm glad you'll be here for Dad's birthday and our trip to Ventura. Where do you suppose you will go after that?"

He looked at his great big map on the wall and pointed purposefully to Australia, Perth, to be exact. "Wow, that's a long way, how will you get there?"

"Fly. I just have to go, I've supported you too long, I have to go find a job I actually like." (Uh, oh...)

"I was hoping you'd stay with us another 10-12 years, I'm not really done taking care of you and I would miss you very much. Besides, how are you going to afford to fly to Australia, and then where will you live?"

He commenced to pacing around the room, "Mom, that's why I can't leave till August 28, I have to do chores for you to earn money for the plane. Also, a lemonade stand, that should be enough."

"I see, that's an awful lot of chores and lemonade, but it's good to have a plan. Where will you live once you get there? How will you earn money to pay for your life?"

"I will live on a farm and grow vegetables."

"Hmmmm...You do know that Jarrah will be home from Australia by August 28th don't you? How about you just stay here for another ten years?"

"Okay, I will just go to Oregon then, and I will walk there on August 28. I can't stay here any longer, it's just time Mom. And Mom, promise you won't ever move, so I can write you letters every day." More tears and dramatic throwing of himself into my lap. Incidentally, this kind of drama worked better when he was less than fifty pounds.

Shaun came in the room, wondering what all the emoting was about. Nate insisted that I explain, and while I did, he got up from my lap and circled the room, preparing for Shaun's response. I also feared what it might be, not because I don't trust him, but because my own childhood was rearing up. I distinctly remember feeling quite stuck in my own threats of running away as a small child. My mom responded by (eventually?) packing up my flowered suitcase and depositing me on the front stoop. I remember thinking, 'Well, now I really have to go...and where is it I can go?'

Anyway, back to this decade, Shaun's first response was how much he would miss him and then he got into the details of his plan. Travel arrangements, luggage, employment and the like.

Eventually, Shaun said good night and I laid down next to our six year old little supporter. "Guess what?" I asked. "You are not going anywhere without me for a good long time. Daddy and I will support our family and you will live with us till you are all grown up and go off to college, that's it, end of story."

"Mom, can I stay here after, when I'm in college too?"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


This is a common response to my requests lately.

I prefer it to the flat out "no"s that seem to be the alternative.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom and a Wet Blanket

"The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?"
~Pablo Casals

"It's sad that people had to die just so they couldn't boss us around anymore."
~Nate, age 6

I'm pretty sure I am ill equipped to cover the history discussions in this house any further. I hate that my child is grown up enough to know that war exists and that war equals death. The good news is that I am far more upset by the whole thing than he is. It reminds me of the time a few years ago when he was in preschool and told me the story of proclaiming his love to a little girl in his class, only to have her bash him in the head with her lunchbox. I was crushed. My attempts to quell what I assumed was his broken heart, were met with stoicism, "Actually, Mom, she just hates me."

Clearly, I learn much more slowly than he does.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Seven years ago, Nate was conceived, in glass, Memorial Day. Not exactly a romantic tale, though someday I think I might embrace it as such, just maybe. It's that type of articulation that makes Shaun slightly crazy, or makes him think I am.

This Memorial Day, I thought of that and also my father's words about the children of today. About how they are learning to be kind and green and oh so politically correct; but are they learning loyalty, honor and love of country?

I think they can learn all of those things, but some take a little more time to manifest. My six year old can argue with me till the cows come home about how he must unplug my computer and let it run on battery, because otherwise the polar bears will surely be extinct by next week. But, I'm not sure he gets it when the occasional tear escapes my eye during most any rendition of our national anthem.

Every Memorial Day, one of the more industrious real estate agents in our area stakes medium sized plastic American flags throughout the neighborhood in the corner of every yard where the driveway meets the sidewalk. Nate checked and rechecked who exactly celebrates Memorial Day, actually he checked and rechecked exactly what countries don't recognize it, which made for an extraordinarily long day. When he was satisfied, he modified the multi-flag flagpole he made last year to include only the appropriate entities, and then stuck it in the front yard to accompany the other. The child can't remember to put his bike in the garage when he's done with it, but was most diligent about bringing his flag in each evening to protect it from ruin in the dew of the night.

We were walking Cooper and discussing the meaning of the day along with many of the freedoms we enjoy as the result of other people's dedication, their ultimate sacrifice, when Nate announced that he was glad not to be celebrating Grandpa on this holiday. Sentimental and smart, just like his Papa.

Later, he secured several precarious flags in miscellaneous yards and I lectured him on the perils of running into the street. Nonchalantly, he joined me back on the sidewalk and said "Well, if I get smooshed, there could be a holiday called 'Nathaniel Day'.

Funny too, both of 'em.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was great this year and included a visit from Grayson, lots of homemade cards and envelopes, a framed photo of Nate and Cooper at Fiesta and breakfast in bed. After coffee was delivered to my bedside, Nate requested Dad go get the food while, "I snuggle up with Mommy". Doesn't get much better than that.

And for my rule following boys, this was all kinds of awesome:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lights Out

We probably need to start and end the whole bedtime routine much earlier around here. Nate still very much wants to be read to at night, but also often takes it upon himself to do a little reading by the glow of the multi colored Christmas lights still up in his room. Very festive.

Some days he also requests to listen to books on the computer that are part of his reading program at school. His world is a whole lot bigger these days. We had a whole discussion about Lance Armstrong the other day. And this morning he wanted to make sure I knew about all the different sources to make energy. The sun, water and wind are all good sources, he told me, but it's very sad that we use the worst kind of energy that can get used up.

Yes, and when it was time to go to school he insisted that we walk. I told him I really couldn't be that late to work today. Silly me to think that could be the end of it. "Mom, don't you think it's more important to save the earth than to not be late for work?"

"Yeah, well sometimes it's just not practical to save the earth. Now get in the car and buckle up."

Pretty sure I won't get through the weekend without hearing that back at some point, or ten.