Monday, September 1, 2014

14 years ~ A Labor of Love

We started off this Labor Day and new month with a sausage-egg scramble with bell pepper and red onion. My family devours the stuff. I actually had to buy eggs for the first time in years. With all the quiches and baking this past week, our chickens couldn't meet the demand. 

Currently, Teckie is helping Lucas with some college application stuff before he leaves to see Jack Johnson in concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
 Lucky.
The day Daniel was born
Otherwise, today is a lazy day.
 No "labor" going on here. Well... there was yesterday in that it was our BIRTH-day. Daniel officially turned 14 and I celebrated the day I gave birth, as in labor. It's a stretch I know, but I think mothers should celebrate on their kid's birthdays, because it is, literally, their BIRTH-day too. Pushing out a baby is no easy task people, and, if I remember correctly it hurts, even with help from Ms. Epi Dural. 
It's work, that's why it's called "labor." Right?
 Thankfully, the memory of pain vanishes once that precious bundle is placed in your arms. 
Daniel's birthday morning was kicked off with a box of doughnuts welcoming us home from church.  Miss Piggy and Lui were passing through town and thoughtfully delivered some "fat pills" as my family calls them.  Miss Piggy wrote "Birthday Donut Tips" on the box sides.  One was to "treat yourself to something special because this is YOUR DAY!"
 My fav was the "well known fact" that donuts on your birthday contain zero calories. I immediately chowed down the pink cake doughnut.
Me gusta.
Daniel's first birthday!
 "He is so darn cute and amazing"
said his mother every year for 14 years.
In the afternoon we ate at a favorite Mexican restaurant where they surprised him with "Happy Birthday" sung in Spanish, a ginormous sombrero and plate of flan with a candle in it. Mid-singing the hombre forced a big spoonful into his mouth; leaving his shnoz covered in whip cream and face in laughter.
Here we are celebrating his Cumpleanos recalling that wonderful day he flew out the shoot and into this world. A day that I will never forget, as it was a life-changer, and only for the better. 
August 31, 2000
We let Daniel steer the day and it was definitely custom-made just like that big blue cast he's still lugging around. 
He wanted to end his birthday watching the sunset.
 That is "so Dan."
 It never gets old.
The four of us headed to the beach and soaked up God's amazing artwork. We spotted many sea lions swimming around with their long whiskers and pointy snouts poking out of the ocean. We agreed the sea lions looked like our dachshunds. Or, maybe we were just missing the Wiener Sisters? That happens often around here.
Later that night,  he chose to watch the latest Spiderman 2 movie. How many times can they remake that one? I'll never know. Daniel's birthday weekend caught up with him and he was asleep half way through the movie he wanted to watch. 
He sure has grown up, as babies are meant to do.
You water them and they grow :)

I pray for many more days like yesterday ... those punctuated with good health, laughter and family together time. It just doesn't get any better than that. 
Cheers to my forever Baby Daniel!
 Clink!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fourteen Is A Hit!

Last night we celebrated fourteen years of Daniel. It was a big shin-dig, as we invited his class and twenty-two attended. This is a special group of kids, in that many of them have been together since kindergarten. This is their eighth grade year, and last year ALL together.  I was hoping to make this birthday party "A Hit!"
Luckily, Teckie had the day off so he was around for heavy lifting. Remember that many hands make light work. He was on the grill cooking them burgers and weenies. He did an excellent job, dinner was "A Hit!" :)
We played a couple games and both were "Hits." 
The first was a traditional scavenger hunt mixed with a photo scavenger hunt.  This is when each team has to create certain things and take cell phone photos of them. For example,  a team picture on the slide, or a photo of something in the sky, or photo of something starting with the letter "F. They had 35 minutes to comb the neighborhood collecting the usual paper clip, character band-aid, and penny from the year 2000, among other things. Lucas was the leader of the winning team, overseeing six of Daniel's friends to the big win of glow sticks, that were "A Hit", especially at night!

Brothers/helpers sitting around on the job
The other game was the Pie-Tin dice game. This is when kids are divided into four and stand around a table, rolling two dice in a pie-tin, hoping to get doubles of any number. If they do, they get to grab a wrapped prize from the table and once all the prizes are gone, they start stealing from one another until ten minutes is up. Whomever ends up with an unopened prize gets to keep it. This game results in ten minutes of loud energy and frantic dice rolling. They LOVED it!
Daniel requested a chocolate cake with mint-chip ice cream. This was created with two 11x13 chocolate fudge cakes with two gallons of ice cream in the middle. It was in the heavy weight division of ice cream cakes! It had to be, as we had many mouths to feed.  Thankfully, we had a few pieces left of this monster. Again, ice cream cakes are always  "A Hit" with kids. And adults ... I just finished a piece and it's still morning (guilty as charged).
Make a Wish!
The  night wrapped up with a bonfire with chairs wrapped around the blaze. We left them alone and they coordinated games on their own until it was time for presents to be opened.
One of Daniel's friends gave him a pocket knife... of all the things. Like, Daniel needs ANOTHER pocket knife. But, when you are fourteen they're cool and the more blades the better. You can see how mesmerizing this gift was, all the boys staring in a trance-like state.
Four hours later, the party ended and we practically had to kick kids out. Many had texted their parents and asked them to come later to pick up.  Everyone was getting along so well! Thankfully, the parents didn't do as they asked and I am thankful for that. We had ALOT of clean up to do and it had been a long day of preparing.
  And, a long day of fun.
Daniel had two buddies spend the night and we made them nutritious chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Another hit! I loved to hang back and hear their chatter from the kitchen. Daniel was still floating from a birthday party high (he is totally into the boy-girl thing).
Please note: 
Daniel isn't officially fourteen yet. That's tomorrow, the 31st, and it will be a mellow day. We are  pooped out around here because "Big Hits" don't create themselves :)
Happy Birthday Daniel! 
Cheers to you, Clink!
We love you :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stan and Dan

At school yesterday Stan was on campus. Who is Stan, you ask? 
If Stan was an action figure, this is who he would be :)
He is the dad that went with Daniel to the ER when he broke his arm. I thank God that Stan was there when he fell from the tree because not only is he a firefighter/paramedic, (he drives the hook-and-ladder fire truck, among other things), but Daniel has know him for nine years. Stan is this tall husky guy with a bushy mustache like the Rescue Heroes my son used to play. His heart is as big and light as a hot air balloon. Stan's son is Daniel's friend and he has spent a lot of time with him over the years. Stan who's EXTREMELY playful, like a Funcle, was surely  (My name's not Shirley) a comfort to Daniel that night his bones were reset. 
 I  snapped a photo of Daniel and him as he admired the scrawled on cast. Speaking of scrawling (I like that word), Dan can't do any of that with his right arm all incapacitated. He is bringing my iPad to school for his class and so far so good!


Yesterday,  I took Daniel to the beautiful City of Oxnard, also known around here as "The Nard", for an Xray. His Doctor is linked in with Grossman Imaging so we were spared a trip up to SB ... that will be next week. Anyways, I know the bones don't look straight, but because of his age, his body will fully repair over time. Isn't it amazing! 
I mean, look at it! 
Todays X-ray
Lucas has his first day of his senior year today. I got up at 5AM with him and am sure to nap after work and before I deliver a meal for the Hospice Supper Club tonight.
Stan and Dan feeling the love
 Lots of exciting stuff is happening around here and I thank God for the good health and togetherness this family is enjoying right now. I recognize that life can "change on a dime" (what does that mean? I use it here, but am not sure what it means. It makes no sense. I  will do some research and get back to you). 
Anyways, back to that dime that can change everything in an instant. Life  situations are temporary, and the truth is, if you are in the pit of despair/heartache right now... just know that bad times don't last forever. And, if you are on that amazing green mountain-top of life with your hands raised, be thankful for that season too. 
No matter where you are in this temporary time of life embrace peace, love and keep the balance:)

FOLLOW UP: I found what  the "change on a dime" term means. If you didn't know either, here ya go:
Since a dime is the smallest U.S. coin, the ability to "turn on it" is a figure of speech meaning you can change direction very quickly in a very small space. In this case, it means that life can change course very quickly.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Los Dias Grandes

After school today, I rode my unicycle four miles and it felt free, but  was challenging. Huff and puff - but I did it! While cruising I was thinking all about "Los Dias Grandes" (The Big Days) in our life right now. 
Gorgeous SB Sunset brought to by God
Today was "El Dia Grande." Yes... the first day of school. Eighth grade for Daniel has officially started. Unbelievable! Since he can't write due to that big-honkin cast, he will borrow my iPad and peck out what he can in class. A challenge, I am sure.

"El Dia Grande"  in my Fourth Grade class went swell. Lots of reviewing  rules and class procedures. Now the cycle starts all over again.  I'm not physically or mentally ready to have summer end. Getting up early scares me, I fear I will push "snooze" so many times, I will be late. This scenario has played out in real life, more than once.
Day One
 Last night I made lunches and covered the details so I could get as much beauty sleep as possible. Surely, every mom starts the school year off organized, right? It lasts maybe three weeks and then I am  back to pushing "snooze" and rushing to get out the door with a bagel in my mouth and hair in a pony-tail.
  
Today I could NOT be late!

 I had morning yard duty at 8AM sharp. This is when all the parents stand around enjoying their kids playing from afar while chit-chatting/hovering. My co-worker said he felt like we were in the zoo, being watched. I agreed. The parental energy on this "Dia Grande" is way high. 
I recommend The Beachouse restaurant if you are ever in the Santa Barbara area. Great fresh fish and you can't beat the location.
Did I mention that this weekend included "Los Dia Grandes" also? We were celebrating my parents 49th anniversary at an amazing restaurant ON the beach in Santa Barbara; The Beachouse. Walking from the parking lot, I dropped my phone, shattering the screen. I tried not to let it bother me as there was no room to be morose among all that love and levity. 
Anniversary cupcakes
We all spent the night at Miss Piggy's place. One big family sleep over.  Daniel stayed all day Sunday to make his final beach trip before school started. 
Daniel with his Mini-Me

 Meanwhile, Teckie and I headed home, stopping to buy a new phone. An unexpected treat, and I honestly have no idea how to load and transfer everything off the old one. So I have Teckie helping ... no actually, confession, he is doing it all.

I would be lost without this guy!
There is another "Dia Grande" this week. Daniel's 14th Birthday. He invited the class over for a party Friday night. Creating a scavenger hunt,  monster-ice cream cake (probably a ten pounder) and other fun jobs top my agenda. This middle school age is rather interesting and it should be entertaining to sit back and watch the Live Teen Show.

And, the final piece of this "El Dia Grande" post was Lucas returning from Camp Del Corazon today. Overboard saved the day again, going down to the Port of Los Angeles to pick him and Jenny up. My amazing Overboard fed them lunch at Islands then dropped Jenny off at LAX for the flight back to Arizona. That is alot of driving in stinky L.A.! She is a priceless trooper and exceptional Grandma :)
These two are the best of friends and more :)
This collection of "Los Dias Grandes" was filled with lots of action and blessings. Many of them. Maybe that is why I'm so tired.
Ole! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

49!

This was written in 2009 on my parent's 44th wedding anniversary. I thought it fitting to post again, updating the years and a few other details, as little has changed in five years.

49!

Forty-nine years of marriage. That is what my parents celebrate today.

Engagement Party, 1965
These two are a great fit because they are alike in many ways. They both come from Italian immigrant families who remained married regardless of how miserable they may have been. Both agree on a traditional marital agreement. Dad works. Mom spends the money. Both enjoy gambling, so they get away to Las Vegas and The Chumash Casino, in the name of love. Neither of these two can handle mastering any kind of technology. From HDTV’s, cell phones, laptop computers and IPOD’s,  they insist that they just don’t "get it." They're right. 
My father has owned a successful company for 45 years, but that old dinosaur refuses to buy a business computer. Technology scares him, as does reading any sort of 
directions to figure things out. Mom is the same way.
Their first casa
 Both are most comfortable with their generation’s simple ways and they detest change. Both love being around immediate family and adore their three grandsons. These two love the movies. Neither loves to travel or read, but both love to eat out. Well, just eat, in or out. 
Differences are a good thing and these two have plenty. Mom loves to shop and spend money; Dad refuses to shop and likes to save. Mom is a devoted Catholic; I don’t know what Dad is. Mom loves to attend funerals and weddings. My dad, not so much. Mother lives to entertain, my Dad lives for sports, Scrabble and playing cards. Mom is patient, Dad has been a patient; having two heart attacks and knee replacement. He is always in a rush; he walks, eats and gets angry faster than Mom. Mom loves to share anything with anybody while Dad is more cautious, but generous just the same.
Primitive Love
 My Mother can spend days to weeks with her only sister. My dad could never do that with Mom’s sister or his own, for that matter, may she rest in peace. Dad tends to wear a uniform of sorts; shorts and a T-shirt, every day. Really. Every day. Mom spices her wardrobe up, but never, ever wears shorts and a T-shirt.
  They share some common interests, but can still do their own thing. They share friends, yet both have their own buddies. They share the occasional hug, kiss and argument. They still share a bed and bank account. They are comfortable doing things separately and it always results in one missing the other. They still share some sort of connection after 49 years. Although, I don’t always understand it.
 I am thankful that in a world of divorce and quick splits these two have managed to stay together and drive each other crazy. 
Keep it up Mom and Dad - 
Next year is the big 5-0! 
You got this!
Happy 49th Anniversary!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Cast and Last Camp

Daniel was casted on Tuesday and it's a BIG blue one! Never watching a cast custom fit before, I was fascinated by the process. Once they took off his temporary cast one  the Emergency Room, they held his arm by the tip of his fingers to keep his bones in place. Interesting.
 Hand on head, Daniel is thinking "Ai Yi Yi!"
 He chose light blue which is much better than his other choice, screaming-loud-yellow. He is anxious to have his friends sign it and wants to be sure it's easy to read. The doctor was able to talk him out of yellow because after three weeks, this thing is going to be nasty. And, the darker the color the less the dirt and gunk will show. So, he went with light blue and wears it well.
"High Five" for three weeks
After the appointment, we visited Miss Piggy's house, as his orthopedic doctor is in Santa Barbara. She took Daniel on a beach walk and ice cream run. Miss Piggy is a Super Aunt and should consider wearing a cape. Daniel LOVED their time together. Driving home he said,
"Mom, she is so cool, I can hang out with her all the time."
Happy to see each other again :)
Today... 
started early, picking Arizona Jenny up from LAX at 8AM. We headed to the Port of Los Angeles to deliver these two to The Catalina Express.  It's Camp Del Corazon (CDC) time again.... 
For the LAST time, at least for Lucas.  
2005
Fast forward a decade ...
2014
"Tags" was his very first  counselor and they have bonded over the years.
 I doubt he could hold Lucas on his shoulders NOW.
I will suggest that he, at least, try :) 
  It's unbelievable ten years have passed since he first attend this amazing camp for kids with congenital heart defects. In 2005, we dropped him off in Marina Del Rey to catch the boat. He was so little and his teeth looked so big. 
I was totally anxious and wary to turn our seven-year old  to these "men"/strangers (AKA Camp Counselors --- LOL). We nervously milled around until all the luggage was loaded. Little Daniel and I cried as the boat pulled away. We had no idea what adventure we sent him off to on an island in the Pacific with a group of doctors, nurses and 100 kids with heart problems. 

Saying ADIOS to him has definitely become MUCH easier over the years. He pretty much "shews me away" like a fly on food once I deliver him to the dock.
Lucas brought his guitar and learned some new songs for camp.
(Now, shew mom)
Ya know ... It felt bittersweet to drop him off for the last time, as a camper. It's sweet because he LOVES this camp and, better yet, he's healthier than I would've ever dreamed of seventeen years ago. 
I mean. He grew up ... he REALLY grew up!
I wasn't sure it would happen, but IT DID 
and I get all EMO when I think about it. 
What can I say? I have a mother's heart.
Tommy's mom and I have been friends for thirty years,
and now our sons attend CDC together!
They will hold a special "graduation" at the end of this camp session and we were asked to secretly write him a letter of congratulations. Overboard sent one also, and I'm sure he will love the encouragement. As I always say, 
"Who doesn't love encouragement?"

Lucas and Jenny with Dee Dee, a nurse they know and love! .
Last year at "the dance" she is the one who told them they were dancing to close and
to step back. LOL!
It's Lucas goal to be a CDC camp counselor when he's nineteen. It's something I can't wait to see him achieve! He will be so good at it.

Lucas always refers to CDC as "the best week of the year" and I'm a bit sad to see his "camper" years end. On the other (unbroken) hand,
 I can't wait to see what God has planned for him when he returns.
Bon Voyage Campers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An Unexpected Gift

Leaving Silver Strand beach a couple weeks ago, I told Daniel that we were going to drive by the "old beach house" that I grew up in every summer from 1972-1980. My parents, aunt and uncle owned this triplex on Cahuenga Drive, blocks from the beach. Nothing fancy then, and quite dumpy now, I was surprised to see it was "For Rent." I pulled in the driveway. 
"C'mon, let's check if any of the units are open."
Our apartment was top left
 Daniel hesitated, but there was this magnetic pull of my heartstrings walking up the old stairs. This place was the home base for water balloon fights, long beach days, boat trips to the Channel Islands, bike riding, dancing, fishing, summer birthdays, candy runs, grunion hunting, boogie boarding, Fourth of July parties, sandcastles, and sunburns. It defined the summer months of my childhood from the time I was 2-10. 
 Daniel said "This is crazy, Mom what are you doing?"
I kept going up the stairs. Hopeful.
Definitely upgraded
Lo and Behold!
 My family's old apartment door was wide open! There was a young couple just moving in. I explained my history and asked if we could nose around and explore the old place. They were very gracious and let us peak in. 
  Cutie-Pie's 2nd  Mickey Mouse themed birthday; 1976.
That's Overboard in the background. 
This place was upgraded since the 70's; gold shag carpet replaced with laminate floors, the wood paneling painted over white and the groovy  bar stools were long gone, along with the nautical themed decor. But over all, it was how I remembered. Except the yellow-metal-spiral staircase my dad built that connected the upstairs to the garage was no longer there. I'm sure that construction project was not "up to code." 
Love 
We visited the bedroom that my hamster died in and many an Easter baskets were dropped off. This same bedroom I shared with Miss Piggy was the room my dad stacked our bunk beds three high. Every kids dream come true - a triple-decker bunk bed!
We loved to play games ... still do!
The bathroom where my mom shared "the menstruation talk" with me hadn't changed. Other than the classic black-and-white "Old Time" wallpaper --like Farrells, that my parents hung, was replaced with white paint. 
A girl never forgets where she was given "the talk."
 An embarrassing moment I will never forget it. No matter how hard I try :)
It was  a special visit... more like an unexpected gift.
I left feeling "amped"  and couldn't wait to share this present with my family -- who like me, treasure this apartment that housed some of the best summers ever.