Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pillows

My birthday is in nine days and I like these.


I haven't had new pillows for my couch in probably, oh, a decade. My walls are painted almost the exact color of the insides of those flowers. So there I was, walking through Target, and I saw these pillows and I loved these pillows and I decided that if I didn't already have a husband that I love, I might marry these pillows.

And if I don't get them for my birthday that's totally fine because to purchase four of them would be to spend almost as much as my birthday budget allows. But...maybe I could get by with two? Or I could just print the picture and set it on the couch next to the decade old pillows.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Ferguson

When I, somewhat inadvertently, came across Priscilla's Shirer's Ferguson related post, I knew I had to put it here. To link to it. To highlight it. Something. The truth is, I won't discuss my own feelings about Ferguson because I don't know what they are. I can't sort it all out. I wasn't there. I don't know what happened. I'm the daughter of the hardest working man I know. You cannot find a person with more integrity than my father. He also happened to make his living in law enforcement. I am the mother of a black boy. Regardless of how I feel or what really happened, my job is to raise my son. To teach him. To love him into adulthood. Priscilla's (and her husband's) words are, quite possibly, the best piece of transracial parenting advice I've ever received. Even though it was advice given to their own biological children, it transcends blood and serves as a tool for this white mother to use as she navigates the raising of both her children. Regardless of where you stand regarding Ferguson, her words to parents of little people everywhere are spot on.

I’ve been waiting – waiting and thinking about when and if to write about it here. Wondering if this virtual living room was an appropriate forum for a post on such things.

And it is. It has to be.

If ministry – all ministries – are not connected to and involved with the issues of culture and society then what is its real power. So sometimes we write about silly things – superficial things – like hair or recipes. Sometimes we inspire you spiritually or ask for your comments about a personally enriching topic. But sometimes. . .sometimes. . .

. . .we write about Ferguson.

I’ve watched it all play out in the media just like you have. So many details still unknown and unclear. So many questions and hurt feelings that are pulsing in the soul of our already heart-bruised nation. Who should bear the weight of guilt will prayerfully be decided as justice unfolds but choosing a culprit is not my intention today.

I’m not a judge.

But I am a mother of black boys.

Several Sundays ago, my family and I visited Concord Church where Pastor Bryan L. Carterspoke powerfully about the turmoil and discord surrounding this issue. He focused our attention on Jesus as the only One who has and can ever bring complete peace in situations like this one that have roots too deep for human solutions to reach. It was beautiful and challenging.

My three sons sat in between their father and me and for the first time they heard the details of Ferguson. They looked at the pictures that the pastor had coordinated to accentuate his message as they flashed across the screen behind the pulpit. I glanced over and watched their faces pulse with concern. Their brows furrow in confusion.

Over brunch, the questions came. Why? How? Where? What next? We gave them as many details as we could but then I sat quietly as their father – a stately, dignified black man – looked his growing black sons in their curious eyes and told them what every young man of color needs to hear.

“Boys, there are labels and stereotypes hanging over your heads. Your choices will determine whether or not they stick.”

He was honest with them about his own experiences – the times he’s been followed and closely monitored by an attendant in a high-priced department store or disregarded while sitting around a conference room table with his peers. He told them about the women (black and white) who have clutched their purses when he got on the elevator next to them and the police officer that stopped him because he “fit the profile” of the culprit they were looking for. He explained to our sons that, sadly, the burden of proof fell on them to prove that the stereotypes don’t fit them and never will.

Unfortunately,” he continued, ”many people will not give you the benefit of the doubt. They’ll judge you the moment they see you walk into the store or the meeting or the elevator or pull up next to them at the stop light. They’ll make estimations about your status and your background and draw unfair conclusions about your potential. They’ll see your hooded sweater – the same one that other kid is wearing on the other side of town – and make decisions about your intentions that are untrue and that they’d never apply to the other guy. It will be up to you to let them know that their pigeonholes are too small and narrow – that they are for the birds not black boys. So, young men, the way you dress does matter. The way you talk does matter. The way you wear your hair matters. The education you receive matters. For now, that’s just the way it is.”

And, listen to me friend, my husband is right. It does matter.

I need to tell you that it was only a decade ago that I walked off of a stage after having spoken at a prayer breakfast in one of our nation’s major cities. An older man with kind and tender eyes, walked up to me, shook my hand and in the most sincere way he knew gave me a “compliment” – That was a great message. You are a credit to your race.

A credit? To my race?

He was utterly sincere.

The fact remains that there is an underlying divide in our nation that still exists. The expectations for minorities are so low that when one excels it’s a surprise. The individual is viewed by some as a “credit” to an otherwise bleak people group. And, every now and then, this dismal perspective erupts - more often than the media has time to cover - revealing its ugly head and taunting those who have gone before and paid such a high price for equality.

What does Ferguson teach us? So many things that I don’t feel qualified to cover. But one thing this, and other cases like it, has reminded me – a mom of young minority children – is that it would be foolish for me to turn a blind eye and act as if everything is ok just because blatant acts of racism have not been my regular experience. I don’t do my boys any favors by keeping them uninformed to the stark reality of the situation. If I don’t tell my boys about the shadow following them, they’ll make choices ignorantly and leave themselves open for brutal criticism, marginalization or . . .much, much worse.

So, Ferguson taught me to be honest. My 11 year old, 10 year old and even the innocent-eyed 5 year old, need to know and it’s the job of their father and I to tell them.

Will you?

Red. Yellow. Black. White. Will you tell your little humans that we are ALL precious in His sight? That none of us deserves a label that we haven’t personally earned. Will you teach your kiddos to respect others and to choose their friends based on character and not color? Will you commit to telling them the truth about race relations in our nation? Will you refuse to act like the struggles aren’t real even if they aren’t largely your personal experience and even if it’s just easier to turn off the news and send the kids to bed? Will you tell them the flaws of our history and the appropriate way to overcome them? Will you admit and recognize your own prejudices (we all have them) and put them away for good?

Will you tell them – not naively but truthfully – that the only color that ever really matters anyway is red.

His blood bridges every gap and every divide. Let’s act like it. -Priscilla Shirer



"Boys, there are labels and stereotypes hanging over your heads. Your choices will determine whether or not they stick." -Jerry Shirer

I'm going to print that quote and hang it up in my boys' bedroom because that, right there, is truth. And that truth does not only apply to my black son. My children will be stereotyped as those Christian kids. Those pastor's kids. That black kid. That transracial family. And two dozen other things. Their actions will determine whether or not those stereotypes--good or bad--stick to them and follow them around.

I want my children to earn their labels for themselves. And I want them to remember that the blood shed by our Savior is the only color that makes any real difference.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kindergarten

He's only been begging me, for six solid months, to let him go to kindergarten. On the day he turned five, exactly half a year ago, he asked if he could go to kindergarten the very next day. I explained that he had to wait until the next school year started and you'd have thought I'd told him to go pick up dog poop AND drink poison because, depending on the day, his reaction to either of those commands might be the same. He was unhappy, is what I'm saying.

When he finished preschool he thought kindergarten would start the next day. He was not pleased when it did not.

Finally, I (stupidly) told him that he would start kindergarten AFTER vacation. Well. When we arrived home from vacation on the second day of August and he did not start school on the third day of August, I was once again in the mother of all dog houses.

And then, to rub salt in the wounds of his perceived injustice, the most horrible thing happened. Garrett started school a week ago and Matthew did not. I had to show him on a calendar exactly how many days he had left and cross them off, one at a time, until last night.

Because kindergarten started today. Because the teachers spend the first week testing the incoming students to assess where they're at. Matthew had a half hour appointment with his teacher on Monday and then he had to wait EVEN MORE DAYS. And, listen, I have been WORRIED about him starting kindergarten because, while he's as ready as ready could ever be in terms of academics, he can be...a handful when he chooses to be.

Take his testing day, for example. I know his teacher. Garrett had her. I substitute for her more than I sub for anyone else. Matthew went in weekly last year and read to her in the hopes that we would avoid his handfulness where she was concerned. Still, he decided it would be fun to shuffle step everywhere, make squeaking sounds instead of speaking English, and inform her that he was a girl when she asked him to show her which bathroom pass he would use. Mind you, he did all of this while I was giving him my very best stink eye. Apparently he did calm down for his one on one testing but when I asked him why he chose to behave like that he informed me that he was, "just being silly."

Last night, at Back to School night, we chatted some about him. She said she really wasn't worried, she appreciated parents who know their children aren't perfect (AND DO I EVER KNOW THAT!), and that she thought he'd rise to the occasion.

And rise he did. (Not that he won't also fall from the occasion and talk back and maybe even burst into tears from time to time because Matthew is...passionate, we'll call it.) But for today anyway, he rose.


He woke up and he was JUST SO EXCITED. There was smiling and pleasantness and general merriment. I asked him what he wanted for breakfast. I'd have given him the world--if he'd asked for it--on this, his first day of the rest of his life until he is 28 and graduates from med school. He opened the pantry and pulled out some cereal. "That's what you want?" I asked him, prepared to whip up an omelet or a smoothie or waffles or what have you.

"Yep!" he smiled


Pretty soon, we were off to kindergarten. I'm not gonna lie. It was so much easier for me to leave Matthew there today than it was two years ago when I left Garrett. I am not the type to blubber or even cry just one quiet tear but watching Garrett disappear behind that door took some getting used to. This time around, I know his teacher. I substitute at the school. I walk the halls. I felt like my child would be safe and secure and have fun and learn AND DEAR LORD, PLEASE JUST LET HIM BEHAVE HIMSELF.

We pulled up and that kid put his backpack on and walked himself right over to his classroom. He lined up where he was supposed to. He was all, Goodbye, parents. I've got this. See you when I graduate from med school. When the first bell rang, I walked over to him, bent down and said, "Can I give you one more kiss?" Let me just tell you, if looks could kill, there would be a chalk outline of my body right there on the kindergarten playground. He frowned and bent his chin down so that there was no real way I could meet my lips and his. HIS EIGHT-YEAR-OLD BROTHER STILL KISSES ME SO I WAS UNPREPARED FOR THAT PARTICULAR SHENANIGAN. "Fine," I said. "I'll just kiss your head." And that's exactly what I did. Because I'm his mother and it's my God-given right. Or something.


And then I climbed up on the playground equipment because it was a much better way to fit all of them in the photo and (mostly) avoid all the weepy women. This shot was nearly impossible to get because as soon as all the moms were standing away from their kid, one of them would decide that she JUST HAD TO RUN BACK IN FOR ONE MORE KISS OR HUG OR PICTURE OR "OH MY BABY HOWEVER DID YOU GROW UP SO FAST?" And, sure, I feel the same way because, for real, HE WAS JUST BORN. But heck if I'm going to stand there in front of all the other parents and require a crowbar to separate me from my child.


His teacher came out and they disappeared behind the door.

And then, several hours later, I went to pick him up. 

He was the first one in line and his face looked stoic. I was momentarily petrified that my worst nightmares had come true. He'd wall slammed a kid. Or he'd cut someone's ponytail off with the scissors. Or he'd squeaked all day long. When he got to me, I asked him how his day was and, after a moment's pause, he thrust his fist up to my eye level and I saw the coveted Good Behavior Hand Stamp. We fist bumped and I heaped positive affirmation upon him.

He told me he made tons of friends and had a great day. He handed me all of his papers, one at a time, which took 132 minutes but was adorable nonetheless. He shared where he sat and what they'd done and that he LOVES KINDERGARTEN. As he walked up the stairs to put away his backpack he said, half to me and half to himself, "Kindergarten is SO fun. There is not a minute that is boring. Not one minute. It is all fun, fun!"

Fly, little bird. Fly. 

All the way to med school. Or wherever it is you might be headed...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Time Marches On...

I know I've explained this before but, once upon a time, when I was in high school, I saw an episode of Oprah where a woman had photographed her kids wearing the same article of clothing every year of their lives. Her daughter wore one of her sundresses and her son wore his dad's dress shirt. Of course, as little people they were dwarfed by the large garment. But, as they grew, the pieces of clothing began to fit. She had the pictures framed in her hallway. I decided right then and there that I was going to do that very same thing when I had kids.

When Garrett was born, we chose his daddy's football jersey for a couple of reasons. The first was that it has our last name on the back and we thought that would be cool. While I'd probably never choose to frame a shot of the back of our son on his birthday, we've got some cute ones over the years. The second reason was that the thing was huge so, even if our son grows up to tower over his father (please, please, please!), he isn't likely to outgrow the jersey. The third reason is that my husband doesn't wear it very often so, hopefully, it won't be destroyed until after our kid is good and grown.

Now that we've got nine pictures accumulated, I've thought about getting a collage frame and finally, for the first time, displaying the shots. Tonight I put them all in one place so that I can get them printed. (I'll probably wait a year or two longer with Matthew but who knows, maybe I'll love the frame so much that I'll want to get going on putting Matthew's up as well...)

But with Garrett, we took the first picture when he was just a couple of days old. It is the only picture we have that wasn't taken on his actual birthday because of all the laboring and all the pushing and all the sweating. And, really, all the not taking the jersey to the hospital.
(Ramona, CA)

And then, before we knew it, that kid was celebrating his first birthday and it was almost impossible to keep him on the jersey for more than a second or two at a time.

(Ramona, CA)

He turned two and we tried putting him in the enormous garment but, if he stood up, he nearly went right through the neck hole. So he had to stay sitting.

(Riverton, UT)

He turned three and looked slightly less like a chubby Easter ham.

(West Jordan, UT)

Then, at four, he apparently became an angel and glowed with a magical shiny halo. Seriously. They all have halos. (The pictures, not four-year-olds).

(Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, NV)



Five happened...

(West Jordan, UT)

Then six...

(West Jordan, UT)

And then this inexplicable thing happened where he started to change in huge ways over the course of a mere 365 days. He went from being a little boy to being, well, a seven-year-old boy that really wasn't so little.

(West Jordan, UT)

And he lost his baby teeth which made him go from a boy to a college student. Or, something a little less dramatic but not, actually, a lot less dramatic.

 
(Whittier, CA)

So there it is. Eight years represented in nine pictures. Same jersey. Same kid. Different size. Kid, that is.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bedtime

I've always said that my boys' bedtime is 7:30. This isn't entirely accurate because, during the school year, on Sundays and Wednesdays, we're at the church late. And, on the other five days of the week, we don't actually put them in bed at 7:30. We start the shower/teeth brushing/bathroom using/jammie putting on-ing/flossing/Bible reading/chapter book reading routine at 7:30. If Troy and I tag team and work very efficiently, the boys are in bed at 8:00. Although, honestly, I'm not usually finished reading them a chapter of whatever book we happen to be devouring together until a little after 8:00. And then they both want me to snuggle them for a few minutes--a habit I am almost always happy to continue because I know it's only a short matter of time before the idea of their mother scratching their backs while they fall asleep becomes appalling. It's usually about 8:15 before they actually fall asleep. They get up at 7:00.

Last night, the neighbor knocked on the door at 7:45 with basketball in hand. "Wanna play?" he asked my oldest.

"I can't," Garrett replied.

"Why not?" came the follow up question.

Garrett was shirtless, in a pair of pajama bottoms, so I thought the answer was fairly obvious. Garrett told him that he was going to bed.

"ALREADY?" the boy (who, by the way, is one year older than my son) shrieked. "WHAT TIME IS IT?" My son answered that it was almost 8:00.

"I DON'T GO TO BED UNTIL 9:30! WHY DO YOU HAVE TO GO BED SO EARLY?" he wailed.

Time out. Do you know how much sleep is recommended for an elementary school aged child? Ten to twelve hours. Ten to twelve hours of blissful sleep. By the time my kids actually fall asleep--on a good night where bedtimes are being observed--they get a little under eleven hours.

Assuming this child falls asleep exactly at 9:30 (which is a ridiculous assumption because very few people--my husband NOT included--actually fall asleep the second their head hits the pillow) and gets up around the same time my kids do (likely because he starts school at the same time), he only gets 9.5 hours of sleep. Less than the low end of what is recommended for a child his age.

So Garrett responded that he had to go to bed because his parents told him to. The friend left, irritated, and my kids hopped into bed to hear their Bible story and a chapter of Laura Ingalls Wilder's On the Shores of Silver Lake. They seemed neither traumatized nor overly scarred for life when, at 8:07, I walked out of their room for the night.

One of the countless roles I've taken on as a mother is the task of teaching my children about healthy sleep habits. I'm thankful that, even after this encounter last night, my son didn't try to push his bedtime back. I'm sure it was just the first of many times that he'll have to tell friends he has a bedtime, but I'm hopeful that he'll understand that a good night's sleep allows him the ability to function at higher levels throughout his day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wicked

You guys, I have never, ever, in all my life, in all of the entirety of my existence, in all the almost 33 years, had more fun watching someone watch a play then I did when I took my son to see Wicked. He was ALL OF THE EXCITED and so, okay, he's going to kill me for saying this but we got home from church and I laid out his niceish theatre clothing and he wanted to put it on SO badly but he's an eight-year-old boy and so, NO, we are not going to give you 10,000 opportunities to soil your clothing before we leave. A few minutes later he ran past me and he was wearing ONLY his UNDERWEAR and when I asked him why, he said he was waiting to put on his nice clothes. You know, several hours later.

Finally we got ready and WHAT IS IT WITH YOUNG ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BOYS AND THEIR TOTAL INABILITY TO GENUINELY SMILE WHENEVER A CAMERA IS PUT IN THEIR FACE?


I asked him what he wanted for dinner. This is a completely stupid question to ask my son because the answer will always be Red Lobster and the first time he answers with something other than Red Lobster the world is going to spin like a whirling dervish right off of it axis and into the abyss of space. I informed him that we had neither the time nor the resources for a seafood feast. His second answer, Taco Bell.

I offered up a handful of restaurants not as nice as Red Lobster but more upscale than the Taco Bell. Places where, you know, I'd need to leave a tip. Nope. There was no deterring him. "I think I'd really just like Taco Bell," he said.

"Taco Bell it is," I replied. Then he requested, as though I just might say no, two cheesy roll ups and one Doritos taco. To the tune of less than five dollars. Pricey date, that kid. He was such an expensive date, in fact, that I threw in a milkshake on the way home. For good measure.


When we got to the theatre, and were walking across the crosswalk, he shouted, "WHOA! THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE HERE!" Then, once inside, as we made our way up, up, way up, to our completely overpriced nose bleed balcony seats (because UTAH IS AN OUTRAGEOUS PLACE TO SEE THEATRE AND I CAN'T AFFORD IT HERE AND IT IS A GIGANTIC AND DEVASTATING TRAGEDY) we kept passing the doorways to the better, much more ridiculously priced, seats. He could see the stage through those doors and he asked, "Do those doors lead to other shows?" He'd just never been inside of a theatre where multiple doors led to the same play. Once I clarified that all doors led to the same show, he said, in awe, "This place is huge." 


We passed all the various tables selling candies and shirts and socks. He very much wanted to buy a $35 dollar 11 inch dragon puppet. But, like, no. Our money doesn't buy $35 dollar dragon puppets. I tried to explain that the less we spend on dragon puppets and chocolate covered peanuts and the REALLY COOL WATER BOTTLE THAT I WANTED THAT SAID...
...the more we have to spend on things like ACTUALLY GOING TO THE THEATRE.

We finally found our up, up, way up seats and he asked, "When it starts, will I be able to see it better?" Hmmm...the joy of balcony seats is that you're at least in the theatre and you can see the people and experience the thrill of live art for less money. But then, there is the little fact that you can't see their faces. Like, at all. I whipped out my handy binoculars and gave them to him.

And as it turns out, I totally could have saved all the money I spent on the tickets and just told him that I owned tiny binoculars because they were a MAJOR hit. "Where did you get these?" and "How long have you had them?" and "How did I not know about these all my life?"

We decided to head to the bathroom and, on our way, I walked him down closer and showed him the pit. I explained that there would be an orchestra in there playing the music that he heard. At that point he sighed. It was a happy, contented sigh. "Thank you, Mom." I was actually a little bit confused because we were staring down into an empty pit and I wasn't entirely sure what the gratitude was about.

"For what?" I asked.

His huge eyes stared up at me. He threw his arms around me and whispered, "For everything." If the night had ended right there, it still would have been worth it. 

We explored a little more...


Then we made our way back to our seats and Garrett saw a few stage crew members performing various tasks. We had a long conversation about the importance of stage crew and how, really, they're the ones making the whole thing actually happen. I mean, without all the behind the scenes people, you'd have a few actors in jeans and t-shirts hanging around on a stage. There would be no costumes, no lights, no sounds, no set pieces, no nothing, really. "I think I'd like to work backstage sometime. That sounds so fun!" And, really, it can be. Depending on the varying levels of prima donnas one might be working with.

Photography is strictly forbidden. Disobeying the ushers is probably a sin for which I should ask forgiveness. But my boy just loved the enormous dragon so very, very much...and it's the only picture I took...and...


See how we go about rationalizing our iniquity?

I've seen Wicked four times now. It could be a problem for which I need an intervention. But that fact allowed me the opportunity to take my eyes off of the spectacle before me and turn them to my right. Because, to my right, sat a little boy, experiencing Broadway for the very first time.

**SPOILER ALERT** (Except not really because everyone knows that the "wicked" witch flies.)

At intermission, I asked him if he was surprised when Elphaba flew. He said he was and I followed with, "Wasn't that magical?"

Then, that logical little beast looked at me like I was the world's largest idiot and said, "No. Mom. Here, listen. I'll explain it to you. It's not magic at all. What they do is that they..." and then he proceeded to almost completely accurately, explain to me how people in shows can fly. So maybe there is stage crew in his future after all.

When all was said and done, he loved it. And I hope it was just the beginning of a long theatre life together.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Like Magic

I think it was Charlotte's Web. I don't remember how old I was. Though not very. I can't recall details about the show but I know that I liked it very much. And then there was Little House on the Prairie. I was in elementary school, maybe second grade, and I kept the program, stuffed in a box under my day bed, for years. I'd pull it out and pour over the biographies of the young actors, remembering the scenery, the lights, the way it smelled, the sound of the children's voices as they delivered their lines.

The magic.

There were many, many more shows throughout elementary school, junior high and high school. But it wasn't until my senior year that I saw a Broadway (tour) show. I was dating a boy called Jesse Tov and I just googled him and it seems that he turned into the big deal we all knew he would. If it hadn't been for the fact that he was a Jewish atheist--or maybe agnostic, I'm not quite sure--I might have made him marry me the day I turned 18.

But let me back up for a second.

I first met this boy in the eighth grade. He was in my history class and he corrected our ancient teacher. At least, he seemed ancient at the time. In reality he was probably 60. It turned out that Jesse was right. Our teacher was wrong. I loved my teacher so, naturally, I held contempt for Jesse. He was ridiculously brilliant. I found that annoying. In the 11th grade he aced his SATs. Perfect score. I never had a great deal of experience with Jesse until my senior year of high school. Before that year he just managed to annoy me from afar with his genius. In 12th grade, I found myself in AP Government with him. And it's because of him that I pulled a solid B up to an A- and saved my 3.98 GPA. Why he helped me, I may never know.

Why he asked me to go on a date with him is even more confusing to me.

It only dawned on me this very evening that we were exactly like The Big Bang Theory's Leonard and Penny. If Leonard was a lot taller and Penny was a lot less pretty that is. But that look on Penny's face whenever Leonard talks about his work, yeah, that's pretty much how it was.



I still remember trying to decide what to wear and wondering if it was some kind of prank. Harvard bound atheist/agnostic boys don't usually go around asking Point Loma Nazarene University bound Christian girls out on dates. I was really kind of positive that it was some kind of dare where he'd ask me intellectual questions I couldn't answer while secretly filming me as I squirmed.

As it turns out, somehow, it wasn't.

We spent a lot of the summer of 1999 together. And the reason I would have maybe married him on the spot if he'd believed in my Jesus is because that guy SERIOUSLY KNEW HOW TO TAKE A GIRL ON A DATE.

He introduced me to quaint theatres in San Diego. He taught me about gelato, a lesson for which I will always be grateful. He taught me about Indian food, a lesson for which I will always be not so grateful. And he took me to my very first Broadway show.

I had never before been in the San Diego Civic Theater and he not only took me inside of it, he didn't even make me walk up any stairs. Instead he marched me right through the Orchestra section and sat me in the seventh row. They were, to date, the very best seats I have ever had at any show ever in my life. Period. The end. I did not know then what I know now. Those seats were ex(stinkin')pensive. In the two or three hours that followed, the world may as well have melted away. Because I saw theatre like I had never seen it before. I saw it as an art form that was so grand, so huge, so remarkable, that the acting bug I'd already been bit by managed to burrow into my very soul and I had the single thought that I could not live without theatre.

I was dramatic.

Because OF COURSE I can live without theatre. But the question--more articulated in these passing of years--is, why would I want to? Creation. Suspension. Direction. Choices. Real. Make believe. Glamour. Guts. Talent. Sweat. Joy. How could I choose never to go back? I couldn't. Because the lights and the curtains and the thumping pulse of it all would pull me.

And, really, it was all there long before Jesse Tov took me to see Sunset Boulevard. I'd performed lead roles on my high school stage by then. He had little to do with my love for the theatre. But he had everything to do with opening my eyes to what the theatre can accomplish and what magic we can find when afforded the chance to see it.

For that, I might have married him. Except that we were both teenagers who would soon find themselves on opposite coasts. And all my attempts to reach him with evangelical Christianity were failed ones. I have a feeling that if I ever were to run into Jesse, he would still treat me as he did then, as though I were some kind of intellectual equal when that could not be further from the truth. I know that a professor at Harvard would never find himself reading the ramblings of a thirtysomething pastor's wife, but if, by some chance, he ever were to happen upon this corner of the Internet, I would like to thank him for treating me well in those summer months before we both left to become who we are. And I would like to say that my life is infinitely richer for what he taught me about theatre.

When my first child was born I can remember looking at him, when he was still quite small, and dreaming of introducing him to theatre. Small, low budget productions. Church plays. Soundtracks, even. And, one day, when he was not so very big, a grand, Broadway show. That day has come. Tonight, I will take my son to his first Broadway show.

He asked me a few days ago if it was at the same theatre that he saw a little children's production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The theatre was rundown with paint peeling off the walls, broken chairs and a stage fifteen feet from wing to wing. It was art. And I love that he still talks about that show and how wonderful it was. Because that's the incredible pulse of performance art. But tonight, my son will hear a full orchestra. He will see things unfolding before him that, until now, he hasn't dreamed possible. He will watch real people fly.

And it will seem like magic...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Working Title?

If you're friends with me on Facebook or you follow me on Instagram this is a really old story because, you know, it happened yesterday. Yesterday is so last year when it comes to social media. But for those of you who don't look at the pictures I post of what I ate for dinner, this might be news to you. Unless you were one of the ones staring at me with awe and wonder and criminal suspicions in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I know. I know. It looked like I had stolen a cart and was returning to the scene of the crime.


But that is NOT what happened.

The boys and I headed to Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of things because doesn't everyone need tortillas, turkey bacon and apples on occasion? I turned off of the road I live on and onto another street very near my house. There, in the center of the lane, was a Wal-Mart shopping cart. I had to make my van go quite out of its normal path to avoid hitting it. "What in the world?" I muttered.

"A cart!" Garrett yelled. "We have to get it and take it back!"

Something--I know not what--made me stop the car in the middle of the road. I climbed out. Very quickly I realized that the cart would not fit in my little trunk, it was cumbersome, AND if I took it to Wal-Mart people might think I had stolen it in the first place. I said as much to my eight-year-old.

"If we don't take it back, who will?" he asked me. Who, indeed?

Just then my mailman pulled up alongside me. Because, seriously?  "Do you need some help there?" he questioned.

"Oh...I...we're...well...I'm trying to get this cart into the back of my van because someone left it here and I'm on my way to Wal-Mart. But, I think I'll have to lay my seats down if I'm going to do that." He stopped his car in the middle of the street and climbed out. I laid my seats down. Because of course I did.

Then, as the mailman and I hoisted the cart into the back of my van, my thumb got smashed. The mailman was a little bit excited about aiding me in my bizarre cart shenanigans and my thumb got caught in the merriment. But, as he was helping me, I did not want him to know that my poor digit had been injured and so I suffered in silence. "Thanks!" I exclaimed, perhaps a little too peppy. He went his way and we continued on to the store.

I pulled into a parking space, got out, and snapped the picture. I was very aware of the people who walked by with bewildered looks on their faces so I said, much too loudly, "Come on, boys! Let's return THIS CART WE FOUND ON THE STREET WHERE IT CERTAINLY DID NOT BELONG TO ITS HOME HERE AT WAL-MART!" And it was very much like I was protesting too much. So, while my words said that I was returning a stolen cart that previously had nothing to do with me, it sounded more like, "HEY BOYS, LET'S PRETEND THAT WE DON'T ALWAYS HAUL THIS CART TO AND FRO BECAUSE IT'S OUR FAVORITE AND WE DON'T WANT ANYONE ELSE TO USE IT!" Then I proceeded to yank the awkward (and surprisingly heavy) cart out of my van. 

Just then Matthew hollered, "Oh no! I forgot to wear shoes!"

As beads of sweat formed on my forehead, more because of the fact that people thought I was a cart thief and less because the cart was heavy and my wounded thumb was smarting under its weight, I replied, "Wait. Are you serious?"

"Yeeeesssss," he sort of howled from the van. "Now I'm like a brown hobbit." A lady was walking behind my van right at that precise moment. She laughed audibly and I have no idea if it was because I had a cart suspended halfway between my van and the parking lot or because my five-year-old is straight up hysterical. Because, seriously. We all know that hobbits don't wear shoes but the fact that he threw the color adjective in there was comedic genius. Also, though, it wasn't really clear if I was putting the cart in or taking it out so maybe she was laughing out of dumbfounded curiosity.

So I lifted my boy from the van and plopped him down in the cart because no way is my child walking around a Wal-Mart without shoes on. Heaven only knows what kind of diseases he might pick up along the way.

And then, I once again declared that we are a reality show waiting for a network to happen. This kind of stuff just comes to us. Cart in the middle of the road? No problem. We need a good working title for our show though. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Camp & Camping

Our third week in California started with us heading to San Elijo State Beach for some camping with my parents. We left after church on Sunday and headed for the coast. That night one of my dearest friends and her family joined us at the beach for some food and great conversation. I finally got to meet her sweet kids. She's been living on the east coast for many years but the stars aligned and we were in San Diego at the same time. (If, you know, I believed that the stars held our fate. Which I don't.)

On Monday morning we were up bright early for surf camp. Troy flew back in to San Diego and we had a great time hanging out on the beach for several days together.
 

On Monday and Tuesday, Garrett surfed on a long board. On Wednesday and Thursday he switched to a shorter, easier to turn, harder to surf on Sushi. He wanted to go back to the long board on Friday because it's easier and he wanted to get up a lot on his last day.


This guy has salt water running through his veins.


Like his mama, he craves sun, salt and sand.


This day camp is pricey but it's phenomenal. I cannot say enough good things about it. My kids can't really get into the surf scene too much because we don't exactly live near a coast. But if they could, I'd be a little worried. Surf culture can be--interesting. This camp gives the kids a taste of what it's like to be surfers but gives them positive, Christian, surfer role models. Each day they actually only spend between 45 minutes and an hour in the water. The rest of the time they hear Christian messages, play games, and eat lunch.


While they're in the water, they sometimes receive personal, one on one, instruction.


They learn a few things about surfing and they catch waves. Waves die. They fall. They run into other kids. But they surf.



And they hang out with Bryan Jennings. Garrett's smile says it all. We love Walking on Water surf camp!


While Garrett surfed, Matthew enjoyed playing in the sand...


Running in the water...


Doing a little beach gymnastics...


And doing a little more beach gymnastics...


When we got back to our campground each day, the boys enjoyed more time in the water. Their favorite thing to do is have my dad push them into the waves while they sit in a giant inner tube. They also loved boogie boarding and, of course, more surfing.

This guy can't wait until he's old enough for surf camp. Which is next year. My bank account is concerned.


But he's ready. 


One of the days, Bryan insisted that I have a brief surf lesson with him. I was terrified of doing this because I was not wearing a super great bathing suit for surfing and I had visions of standing up only to realize that I was no longer sporting a top. I did not particularly want to flash an entire camp's worth of kids nor did I want professional surfer and movie producer Bryan Jennings seeing my *ahem* girly parts. Troy did not want this either. Thankfully, I remembered that I had a wet suit in the car!


So then I surfed. On tiny waves reminiscent of the minuscule ones I surfed on two years ago in Hawaii. But...I DID stand up and I did NOT flash any important parts to any unsuspecting kids or professional surfers.


I do not understand how anyone gets good at this sport. It's exhausting and horribly difficult and makes me feel like the world's absolute biggest doofus.


Then I posed with Bryan and another lady he gave a lesson to. Other lady managed not to flash anyone, although I have no idea how. If I tried to wear that, I promise my top would fall off if I walked across a parking lot. She also works in the film industry and was super nice and encouraging when I managed to stand up on a surf board. ON THE WATER WHILE THE WATER WAS MOVING UNDER ME.


Troy considered a new hair do while we were there.


I, for one, am glad he changed his mind.

We had a birthday party for Garrett with my extended family while we were camping. It was super great to see everyone. We also got to spend a couple of hours with Troy's sister and our nieces and nephew at the beach one afternoon. We missed out on seeing one of our nieces because she had to work. :-(

We spent Thursday night with my brother and sister in law. Garrett had one final day of surf camp. When camp was over, we drove from the coast in San Diego to Mesquite, NV. The traffic was absolutely horrible and I have taken a solemn oath never to drive through Vegas on a Friday evening ever again. It took us nine hours to get from Encinitas to Mesquite which should be little more than six hours. The boys, ever the amazing travelers, did great but it was ridiculous.

We made it home on Saturday--and three perfect weeks in California came to an end.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week Two

We drove from Tahoe to San Diego and stopped at one of the fish hatcheries. When I was a kid, it was a working hatchery but now it is a museum. They do still have a pond outside with many fish and beautiful grounds. We ate our lunch, fed the fish and explored the museum. The boys LOVED it.


We continued on to Whittier where we stayed at the home of some good friends. They were out of town but are some of the most hospitable people on the planet and let us stay anyway. I had dinner with a good friend while the boys played in our friends' pool.



The next day was Garrett's birthday. We went to church at one of the churches that Troy used to work at. Then Garrett opened presents.

 

For his birthday, we took Garrett to the Pirate Adventure in Buena Park. It's a great time of eating delicious food and watching an elaborate pirate play. The boys had an absolute blast.


We spent that night with my grandparents in San Diego. Troy flew from San Diego back to Salt Lake early on Monday morning. We hung out with my grandparents all morning and into the early afternoon. We met my mom, aunt and cousin at my other grandpa's place for dinner.

During the week that Troy was back in Salt Lake, we had fun in San Diego. We visited with friends, went fishing, went to the movies, and had a blast at Sea World. My mom and I spent a day shopping. We watched episodes of Duck Dynasty and we visited the church I attended for 15 years.



We continued to work on our tans so that we didn't blind the good people on the beach during our last week of vacation--camping at the beach and Garrett's surf camp!