21 Months: Toddler Time

Lucky lucky me got to spend another week with Angel Boy 2.0.

AB 1.0 asked me to bring some of his favorite childhood Christmas tree ornaments that his grandma and I had collected over the years so they could continue the tradition.

We brought home a seven-foot Noble fir and spent my first night decorating the tree with Theo. It took a while, but he finally understood the concept of leaving the ornaments ON the tree and not pulling them off and throwing them like a major league pitcher.

Although it had been raining for a few days, while I was there, the weather was beautiful but FREEZING, at least for this SoCal girl. I was wearing about a dozen layers, perfectly suited for Pacific Northwest arctic temps.

The next morning Mr. T and I went on a walk to the marina. He was all bundled up and you can see the snow on the Olympic mountains in the background.

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On the way to Ballard Locks.64F334D4-FE48-441F-9658-D72E7951B705

After a power nap, Theo and I made a pizza, helping me roll out the dough and scattering sliced zucchini, green peppers, and broccoli over tomato sauce.  With lentil soup, it was a perfect winter lunch.

For some reason, I became his sole choice for ALL diaper changes…AmmahAmmah had to do them all, and there were NO complaints from mom or dad. Besotted as I am with this little human, even THAT melted my heart and I gladly complied with his request.

These moments are so fleeting – one minute you’re changing a diaper and the next you’re sending them off to college. I learned a long time ago with the original Angel Boy to appreciate each and every detail along the journey. Even diaper changes. Yes, even that.

When he was here for Thanksgiving and we walked to the park and he was kinda balky, I created the game of “Puppy” with each of us holding something (or a pretend something) as a leash to encourage him to keep moving, and he remembered (!) which meant there was lots of puppy play and kitty play. And tea parties.

Yes, I am the ULTIMATE playmate. Laser focused attention. HEAVEN. BLISSFUL. JOY.

EF00EA0F-55A4-43BB-9777-2D1BEB561D83As the sun set in the evening, he’d choose a few books and we’d snuggle on the sofa and wind down with Peppa the Pig or Postman Pat or his new Hannukah book or my favorite ones about animals.

He’s memorized so many stories that have already been read to him a billion times.

It’s an important interactive pre-reading experience.

To engage a bright young mind with a lifelong love of learning and reading is a goal we all share.

One of those priceless moments I’ll forever savor and never forget is the heavy weight of a perfectly relaxed little boy nestled in the curve of my protective arm, feeling his excitement as he points to the picture of a wolf when prompted and howls when asked, “what does a wolf say?”

The next day we went to his Gymboree class, which was so cool for me because I had taken his dad there when they first started franchising in the 1980s.

It was amazing to observe Theo’s interaction with the instructor and other children. He is so much like his daddy was at that age, it’s a great response to the debate of nature versus nurture. When my son was very little, a brilliant woman told me “he sees the world in his own way” and I saw those very same characteristics in Theo. He’s not shy, he’s exceptionally self confident, but like his dad, he’s reserved; a thinker and an observer, absorbing everything and filing it away in his mind to process in his own way, but he’s not much of an active participant, although he very much enjoyed himself and helped pick up and put away the musical instruments when it was over. This week was the culmination of Beatle’s music, so when we went back home, I played the same songs that we heard in class, Yellow Submarine, All You Need is Love, and Hello/Goodbye. Theo sung along and shook the maracas exactly the same way he had paid such close attention to. With all children, it’s a great idea to take their lead in situations like this and let them guide their level of participation.

His verbal skills are on fire now, parroting dozens of new words and learning sentence structure. I call it the Helen Keller moment. Two-word directives like “Theo down” …Choo choo loud” “Daddy home” is being expanded upon. DIL and I both heard him clearly say “I want Abby’s cake” when we had a little birthday party for a friend. OF COURSE he was rewarded with the cake that he wanted. OF COURSE. It’s all about positive reinforcement, right?

My brother came to visit from Portland for a couple of days and one of our excursions was the zoo. As you might imagine, I hate zoos. I hate caged and captive wild animals. I hate that their very existence is used to make money as entertainment. I HATE seeing them in their unnatural habitats. But I figured that if I went to the zoo, later on at the appropriate age, I could begin a discussion about all of that, so I did. Theo especially loves gorillas and flamingos, so that’s what we saw. I can’t tell you how sad it was to watch those magnificent gorillas who should have been SOMEWHERE ELSE and I actually thought they seemed depressed. I felt like I shouldn’t be looking at him. Tragic.

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The very best part of the day was on the way out.

I noticed a woman crouched on one knee pointing a camera into a tree. I looked up and saw a magnificent OWL, also one of Theo’s fave animals. When he followed my gaze and saw the owl, he was transfixed. We stayed there for a bit and he called it Daddy Owl because it was so large. The sun was going down, so this isn’t the best pic, but it was a spectacular sighting.

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Although he gifted me with a nasty sore throat and the beginnings of the flu or some type of upper respiratory infection, it was once again a magical time; although flying home to vicious Santa Ana winds and out of control fires, loss of homes, dozens of horses perishing, and emergency notifications from the city to prepare for possible evacuation brought me right back to reality. The winds have died down for now but are forecasted to be gust at 50+ mph on Sunday.

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Bitter+Sweet

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This is how I know I had an amazingspectularawesome fun time with Angel Boy 2.0–when his playroom looks like we’re in the eye of a Category 5 hurricane.

Hurricane Theo lol.

Yes, that’s a ukelele–Theo loves music, and yes, that’s a tent. He won’t sleep in a crib and we’re exploring other options.

Since SoCal had record breaking heat, most of our time was spent at the beach or the park or in the garden.

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Or even cooking with Grandma…which actually meant he was eating all the food in the bowl as I prepared my world famous Kugel, the only time canned fruit enters this house haha.

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I hope everyone had as wonderful and exhausting Thanksgiving as we did.

Now it’s time to clean up the mess.

That’s the bittersweet part. Saying goodbye. And the silence. No squeals, no laughter, no JOY!!!

#Thankful #Grateful #Love #Family

Taking a minute to breathe before heading to the airport to claim Angel Boy 2.0. I suppose I’ll have to tote my son and DIL home too, as 20 month Theo is still too young to fly to me by himself, but they don’t really matter. HAHA. No really. They.Do.Not.Matter.

For all the years that my laser focus was directed at the original Angel Boy, I bet if he had known that the way stop me from being a drone and hovering and helicoptering was simply to procreate, he might have done it YEARS AGO.

While I sense a slight, very slight wistfulness in his voice sometimes because it’s ALL ABOUT THEO, I know he’s very proud of his accomplishment in whatever part he played in the creation of Theodore. Just to see him play with Theo brings tears to my eyes.

Did you know that AB named Theo? Years ago, he shared an experience with his best friend in Greece where they were climbing Mt. Olympus and didn’t realize how very far it was to go up and then down, a miscalculation on the part of those (then) undergrads.

I don’t remember all the details, but just as they were near exhaustion, out of nowhere, a truck appeared, stopped, and the driver took pity on them and drove them to the bottom.

As they thanked him profusely, my son asked his name. In broken English, he said he was called Theodore, which means “god’s gift”.

Apparently, that kindness stayed with my son all these years, and that’s how Theo came to be.

My break is over. I’ve already made the stuffing, apple and pumpkin pies, kugel, and fresh cranberry sauce, filled the wading pool with water, and set up a little sandbox. I wanted to get as much done as possible in advance to have more playtime for me and Mr. T, and since I make everything from scratch, it helps to prep early.

It’s going to be record breaking heat today in the 80s at the beach.

Time to go to the airport!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and I’m sure you can figure out what I’m grateful for.

Home really is where the heart is today for sure!

Heavenly Sky in SoCal

Tonight’s sunset was so effing glorious that for the first time in years, I saw people stopped in their tracks, looking up at the sky instead of down at their phones. It was like an episode of Twilight Zone, all heads tilted up staring at the beauty of sundown.

It was a shared moment of humanity; there were murmurs of “Oh my goodness, did you see that?” leaning on their cars in the Marshall’s parking lot, doing nothing but absorbing the beauty of the universe.

Time stood still for all of us for the duration of the last visible rays of the sun.

“Wow, that was amazing”, was the consensus.

Apparently, there’s still a glimmer of hope for us.

These are raw, unretouched photos from my iPhone.

Mother Nature, I raise a glass to your magnificence. It’s truly humbling.

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Holding Sacred Space

Sacred / Scared

Switch one letter and not only is the word changed, but so is the meaning. That opens up a whole new conversation about fear; fear of the known and fear of the unknown. I can admit that I own all of it in every form.

Recently, I was chatting about sacred space and how to define that concept. I wasn’t quite sure I knew enough about it to offer an intelligent explanation that would make sense-I’m still not sure it makes sense for a lot of reasons, but I know that it accurately describes how I’m feeling.

When we hold space, we release control. Yup, that’s about right.

It’s another way to show unconditional love. It’s SCARY.

According to GoodTherapy.org, around the midpoint of life, we start picking up hints that we’re not going to live forever. In Once Upon a Midlife, Allan Chinen describes how shocking this realization can be, accompanied by anxiety and grief.

Especially at such a point, a sense of the sacred can act to ground us. As the fact of “me” begins to lose its apparent guarantee of continuance as well as its centrality (because how central to the universe can I be if I’m not going to be around?), the universe is less and less about me. But perhaps I become more and more about something else, something larger than me.

As above, so below…

Carl Jung notes that, in this way, the ego becomes relativized and the process of individualization—becoming wholly who we were meant to be—is accomplished. We begin to live in a system of meaning where the earth revolves around the sun, the sun rotates through the galaxy, and the galaxy itself follows its own great attractor. Our experience then seems to participate in larger movements, whether those are our family or a cause in which we believe or humanity in general, a spiritual pathway or the life of the universe.

Everyone has trauma.

The only way through trauma is to feel it. If a person doesn’t feel their pain, their anger, their fear—if they instead repress it—it grows and festers, like a sliver that doesn’t get pulled out. But feelings like pain, anger and fear are painful and scary!  Feeling them isn’t fun. It takes a great amount of courage and strength to do so.

Holding space means letting go of judgment, of opening your heart and lending your courage; your strength. It means being there or not being there but communicating a safe environment like a safety net for someone you care for to exorcise the hurt within them.

Allowing that person to cry, to scream, to shudder; witnessing their authentic experience and reacting with love and acceptance to the extent that you are able, is a powerful way to support them in this most important spiritual and emotional work, holding hands physically and/or emotionally to walk through their journey of self discovery.

For me, it’s a little different. It might not make sense to anyone else but I visualize holding space more like a drawer I’ve cleared out in my bedroom or a space I’ve left empty in my heart. Being that resolute and solitary lighthouse, that beacon of shining white light on a dark and stormy night, blinking through the fog.

For me, this is sacred — even though at times it scares me to death.

 

(Featured image by Google/Pinterest)

 

A Bunny at the Beach and Chanel

Look, a BEACH BUNNY! I saw this adorable creature today at Tamarack Beach in Carlsbad.

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There are normally a billion ground squirrels that live on the bluffs, but I rarely see a rabbit, so this was a special event for sure.

Last week the temperature here was 105 degrees; today it was drizzly and in the low 60s, so I decided to take a little walk to the beach. I went the long way ’round and ended up walking about nine miles.

It’s pretty much downhill to the ocean-super easy- but that means it’s all uphill on the way home, so I’m pleasantly tired.

When I got home, I checked for mail and looky here what I found!!! A sample of Chanel’s new fragrance, Garbrielle, accompanied by the most amazing affirmation…just what I needed right about now.

“I decided who I wanted to be, and that is who I am.”

DAMN RIGHT, COCO. You got that right, GURRL.

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After enduring the shittiest of all shitshows of shitty years, swimming my way up and out and slowly being pieced back together, reforming and rising from the ashes of despair and pain, THIS IS A SIGN.

As I tapped out the letters that spell “despair”, I wanted to make sure it conveyed exactly how I felt so looked up the definition and nodded my head in silent agreement, “the complete loss or absence of hope”.  YUP. Nuff said.

The little perfumed card is propped up on my bedside table, and wonder of all wonders, there are two owls hooting to each other in my backyard.

Life is GOOD, y’all. Life is GOOD.

 

 

Kesha: Poet and Visionary

It’s SUPER HOT today with a fierce Santa Ana sort of heat where every breath is so tortuous you can feel it bone deep, so I’m drinking tons of water (really), working on a few indoor projects, and listening to music.

Since I never really grew up or adulted successfully, I used to sing along with Ke$ha’s TikTok  or Your Love is My Drug and I Kissed a Girl with Katy Perry–I know, I know, can you imagine how embarrassing it was to be that grown up professorial child of mine as a captive audience on the way home from college when I picked him up from the airport?

Gotta vision of me singing?  Love these lyrics: “Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack–Popo shut us down” lol…

Tee hee. Oh well, like I told him a few dozen times, one of us had to grow up, and he was IT!

Somewhere along the way while I stayed in this perpetual state of adolescence–immobile, stuck in amber like a 40 million-year-old fly…Ke$ha became Kesha and grew up.

This song.

These words.

This real anguish.

Listen hard. Feel her.

I get it. Oh yes, I get it. Way too much. Way too real for this fantasy-dwelling-timid-forest-creature-rose-colored-glasses wearing grandma. Maybe there’s hope for me and one day I’ll grow up too.

Nah. That ain’t never gonna happen.

Check out these lyrics. Poetry and pure angst. Beautifully painful. Painfully beautiful.

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“Am I dead? Or is this one of those dreams? Those horrible dreams that seem like they last forever? If I am alive, why? Why? If there is a God or whatever, something, somewhere, why have I been abandoned by everyone and everything I’ve ever known? I’ve ever loved? Stranded. What is the lesson? What is the point? God, give me a sign, or I have to give up. I can’t do this anymore. Please just let me die. Being alive hurts too much.”

Well, you almost had me fooled
Told me that I was nothing without you
Oh, and after everything you’ve done
I can thank you for how strong I have become

‘Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I’ll just say this is I wish you farewell

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying

I’m proud of who I am
No more monsters, I can breathe again
And you said that I was done
Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come

‘Cause I can make it on my own
And I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known
I’ve been thrown out, I’ve been burned ([Live version:] I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain)
When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name

You brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I’ll just say this is I wish you farewell

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying

Oh, sometimes, I pray for you at night
Oh, someday, maybe you’ll see the light
Oh, some say, in life you gonna get what you give
But some things, only God can forgive

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying

 

Shake It Off

Not the Taylor Swift tune, although it’s one of my faves, but I’m talking about shaking off the much too serious posts I’ve been writing about wetiko, death, and the dark night of the soul!

While I haven’t done a whole lot of retail therapy shopping lately unless it’s toys or clothes for a growing Angel Boy 2.0,  I’ll tell you about a heartbreakingly exquisite moment that he and I shared on a recent visit.

Picture this: he lives between Puget Sound and some MAJOR railroad tracks. The good thing is the neverending entertainment of watching boats and sunsets and moonrises and the tiny little beach that’s across the street and the less good thing is the long and loud freight trains that heavily traverse the tracks all day and all night.

However, to a little boy, choo choos are AWESOME and AMAZING ALL THE TIME, exactly like his daddy thought at that age. We often drove to the train museum at Balboa Park and rode the little train there, too.

The day I was leaving, as I was packing my suitcase, Theo came in my room and grabbed my hand. I said, “What’s up, Mr. T? I’m packing up to go home, do you want to help?”

He looked at me intently still holding my hand and pulled me to my feet. In a sweet, small voice, he whispered excitedly, “AmmahAmmah, choo choo!” and raised his arms so I could pick him up. We stood at the window and he patted my back and leaned into me as I read to him all the names on the cars and we counted them until the train passed. I counted 56 cars and never wanted to put him down. I wish there had been 10,556 more.

Time stopped for those few minutes.

Nothing else mattered.

A boy, his grandma, a shared love of trains, and the beauty of a little human whose spirit shines so brightly even at eighteen months that he already knows the meaning of life and of happiness, being fully invested in the moment, the mindfullness of joyful living that some of us seem to lose as we transition into adults.

My little buddy. Beyond adorable…THEO-dorable!

This is the Balboa Park train. Can’t wait to take 2.0 !!!

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Death. SO VERY BIG.

 


Before I was Princess Rosebud and Rowdy Rosie, I was a little girl who loved to dance in pink tutus and satin toe shoes.

A sweet and innocent little girl who was very gentle and sorta clueless about life.

Who loved animals (especially wolves and coyotes and foxes and mountain lions and bobcats) but all animals really.

Who never had to face life’s seriously sucky tribulations, cos life was pretty good most of the time.

Especially when there were seashells to pick off a sandy beach. Or someone thought about me and brought home a handful of seashells from one of their vacations.

Seashells make me happy. Butterflies make me happy, too, but that’s a different story.

This is about death. DEATH. Not a metamorphosis.

D.E.A.T.H.

Death is pretty final in a lot of ways. I mean in this plane, on this Earth, when someone dies, stops breathing, heart stops beating…well, that’s pretty final.

Why do some deaths hit us harder than others?

Randomly searching for something on the internet, I discovered that a friend and business associate I hadn’t seen in a long time had died of cancer five months ago, right around my birthday.

I didn’t know. No one told me. How did this happen, that I didn’t know?

The death and the not knowing shocked me, rocked me to my core. I was sobbing. Not him, I thought. Not him. Good men like that should live to be one-hundred-years at least.

(I could tell you how it happened that I didn’t know, I could elucidate, fill you in on all the deets, but then the story would be all about me and not a way, however small, to honor this fine, fine man.)

I heard him say this one thing a thousand times, “Hey guys, here’s just another rusty brain idea I’d like to run by you.”

He was one of those true-blue, honorable, faithful, simply noble, ethical, principled, reliable, honest, trustworthy, dependable, SALT OF THE EARTH men.

They don’t make them like that any more. Trust me on that. It’s really so simple, when you think about it. Not a difficult way to live one’s life if you know what’s really important.

All men (and women) should aspire to conduct their lives to that standard. A decent man with character and a deep commitment to his wife and family.

A never-give-up kind of man. The very definition of what a man should be.

If you needed anything, Steve was there. Especially if there was food involved. Oh yes, Steve loved to eat, that’s for sure.

I sent his wife a letter expressing my sorrow for her loss and apologized for not knowing and not attending his memorial service.

She wrote back almost immediately.

True to form, he never told anyone of his battle with cancer. Thinking back, I remember he was always showing up with bandages all over his face and head from skin cancer surgeries, but he brushed aside all questions about his health. The cancer spread and though it was quite painful, he never complained.

One day he collapsed and died in his wife’s arms, the only place that was ever really home to him.

I honor you, Steve, and I will miss you forever. More than you could know. This is a big loss, a big death, and my heart goes out to your lovely family.

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Gratitude + Joy

I don’t often post pictures of Angel Boy 2.0 because we are all protective of his image but every single time I look at this photo, it sets my world right again, so I thought I’d share it with my friends.

With hurricanes and floods and fires and murders and other toxic disasters that seem to engulf our consciousness lately, there’s the opposite and equally powerful tug of LOVE at our hearts and minds and souls and spirits.

He’s the reason why my sun rises every single day.

Pure in his magnificence, my heart softens and melts. And heals.

Just a boy and his Peppa the Pig plate full of a lentil burger, broccoli, hummus, and tomatoes.

Pure love. We all need a big dose it right about now.

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