Saturday, September 21, 2013

First Rain

The seasons, they are a'changing in our neighborhood.  The weekend brought our first real Fall rain storm.  This wasn't some fluke mid-summer shower.  This was the real deal....a true storm signaling  the unofficial end to summer.  We even got some thunder and lightening, which is a bit unusual in northern California.  And to me, the first rain of the Fall season means...

...bringing in all the sun-bleached towels and inflatable toys from the pool. 

...dusting off rain boots so the kids can enjoy the novelty that is rain, after long summer days that consistently hover in the triple-digit range. 

...baking a pie, not worrying about the oven heating up the house. up the clothesline until next summer.
...motivation to embrace Fall and go shopping with the kids for Halloween costumes. candles at dinnertime. 
...shutting off the sprinklers and letting Mother Nature take care of watering the lawn. 
...dodging acorns and slippery, wet leaves on afternoon runs.
...opening the curtains and letting the daylight in.
I think Shasta County folks probably embrace Fall with more vigor than most.  Summer here is not something you would see featured in a tropical resort brochure.  It's more like a cautionary tale to those that would question the power and strength of Mother Nature in her "off" season. 
Blistering.  Long.  Unbearable.  Oppressive.  These are the words that locals use to describe the heat of our summer.  We endure our summer like Minnesotans endure their winter.  You can feel the collective sigh of relief as the first rain of Fall arrives. 
And so, I bid farewell to flip flops, shorts and tank tops.  Hello to socks, jeans and jackets. 

Goodbye 80-degree mornings.  Hello frosty nights.

Adios to tourists vacationing on houseboats who don't understand how anyone could live here, in this God-forsaken land of summers that feel like you're living two miles west of the face of the sun. 

So long summer.  Take your well-deserved rest.  

I mean it.  Scram. 

I've got a date with my fireplace and you're not invited. 


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Cursillo Un-Description

Hubby and I just got back from a completely "unplugged" 3-day weekend in Lake Tahoe.  My iPhone is still in shock.  I don't think it's ever been turned off that long.  We were attending Cursillo, which is a short course in Christian living.  Basically it was a Christian retreat, summer camp for adults, or something along those lines.  I'm not sure I can really describe it.  And maybe that's the point. 

After attending Cursillo, most people won't or can't describe it to friends.  There is an air of mystery surrounding the specific events of the weekend, but not because it's a big secret.  It's not (as my husband feared) because they are going to lock everyone in a room and make you drink The Kool-Aid.  People don't fully describe Cursillo to friends and family because it is, quite simply, an encounter with the Holy Spirit.  And how do you really put that into words? 

I can tell you there were Bible talks, discussion groups, singing and fellowship.  I can tell you we slept in rustic dormitories, ate fabulous food, and experienced a level of hospitality that rivaled a five-star resort.  We weren't allowed to wear watches, watch the football game or play Candy Crush on our cell phones.  I can share with you that people from different generations, different cultures, and different churches came together and formed a temporary community that was ON FIRE for Jesus. I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guess that even the most jaded, the most cynical, and the most apprehensive among us felt God's love this weekend. 

I've heard Cursillo described as a "Mountain Top" experience in life.  Some insist it is on their "top ten" list, up there with their wedding day or the days their children were born.  Those descriptions frankly made me a little skeptical of the whole weekend.  Really?  One weekend singing Jesus songs in the woods with a bunch of strangers and it's the best thing since sliced bread?  Sounds a little fishy, does it not?

Well, I'm not really going to tell you how I would categorize my experience because again, that's not really the point.  Would I recommend it to a friend?  Yes.  Am I glad I did it?  Yes. 

Suffice it to say my faith is strengthened.  My focus is sharpened. 

My joy is multiplied. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Looking Forward.

Three weeks from today I will be in Mexico at an all-inclusive, adults only resort with four girlfriends from high school.  Three weeks!  The whole thing seems a little unreal to me.  I mean, do moms really get up and leave town for FIVE NIGHTS in a row?  Moms (well, this mom, anyway) have a hard time leaving their kids for a night at the movies with a friend.  Is it really possible to ditch your family and leave the country?  I guess we'll soon find out. 

This adventure began a few years ago when my friend Dena mentioned that we would be turning 40 "soon." At 36 years old, 40 seemed light years away.  Light years.  She had a brilliant idea that we should start saving money and take a trip together the summer that we turn 40.  Well, what's not to love about THAT idea? 

And so we started saving, not knowing where we were going or what we were doing, but confident that we would have a nest egg and an excuse get out of town. And then a few other girlfriends jumped on our bandwagon and we had a real party on our hands. 

Lots has happened between then and now.  I had a few kids.  At one point I stopped to calculate the ages my children would be when I turned 40.  I wondered if I would be prepared to leave my "baby" when he was only two years old.  Let me tell you.  I'm ready.  Soooo ready, friends.  I'm excited.  There probably isn't an appropriate word in the English language to describe the anticipation.  I bet the Frenchies have a better word.  Seems like they always do. 

As much as I love my children and my family and our semi-crazy life, I occasionally miss the days of being footloose and fancy-free.  Life has many seasons, and let's face it, the season of raising young children is pretty hands-on.  It's 24-7, wiping noses, changing diapers, refereeing sibling disputes, making lunch, doing dishes, going grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, running a load of laundry and making sure everyone combs their hair and brushes their teeth (preferably every day).  Young children generally don't sleep in, put their toys away with out prompting, or even get their legs in the right holes of their underwear without direct supervision.  I leave home and go to work to relax.  It's fun.  It's crazy.  It is most definitely NOT the "it's all about me" phase of life. 

And so a trip to Mexico in this season of life seems like a significant oasis in the storm of toddler parenting. This trip is such a gift, such a rare treat that it has been my focal point for at least the past six months.

My son just pulled out a clump of his sister's hair which has resulted in excessive tears and screaming?  I breathe deep and remember that nobody pulls hair on the beach in Mexico.

Ten children (mostly non-swimmers) gathered in my swimming pool for a birthday party?  No problem.  I'll be in Mexico in three weeks.  NO KIDS ALLOWED.

Too much work to do and not enough time to get it all done?  Well, there's no wifi at the beach so you're all on your own come September 27!

I look forward to multiple days of using the restroom by myself.   I can't wait to brush my teeth in the morning and not have to nag anyone else to do the same.  I will sit on the beach and read a book and not be one bit worried about watching anyone else to make sure they aren't drowning or playing with jelly fish or throwing sand at their siblings.

I know this time will be good for all of us.  The kids will likely eat their fill of pizza while I'm away.  Mommy will drink her fill of margaritas.  Daddy will get his fill of single parenting.  (Thanks, baby!) Grandmas and grandpas and aunties and uncles will get the pleasure of shuttling and babysitting more than normal.

At the end of those five nights, I'm sure I'll be a little sunburned.  I'll be a little worn out from staying up too late.  My cheeks will hurt from giggling with girlfriends.  But I'll also be a more refreshed, relaxed version of my tired mommy self.

And I'll be looking forward to everyday life at home. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

This is Five.

My sweet baby girl turned five today.  Five.  Do moms ever stop being nostalgic about their kids' birthdays?  Because five years in, and birthdays continue to make me reminisce and marvel at life.  I also tend to worry about the future and wonder if I'm totally messing up this mom thing completely, or just a little bit.  I ponder the years that have passed and wonder if I've taken enough photos or written enough blogs to fully capture all the memories that I want to remember. 

The day of her birth was THE most physically painful thing I have experienced in my lifetime.  I was convinced that the details would permanently scar me and somehow be etched in my brain forever.  Five years later, I don't recall much other than the good stuff.  I remember my mom and my husband continuing to cheer me on on as I labored and frequently forgot my manners.  I remember grandparents waiting patiently through the evening in the hospital lobby anxious for the first glimpse of their new grandbaby.  I remember daddy driving home from the hospital so slowly and carefully so he wouldn't disturb the baby. 

Here's what I don't want to forget about this princess at age five...

She loves the beach. She loves to dig in the sand, be dirty, run, get wet, sort through pretty rocks, and ride on pretend school buses made of driftwood. 

She loves school.  She loves picking out clothes each morning, carrying her lunch box, showing me her work at the end of the day and being in the "big kid" class across the hall from her little brother.

She plays hard and sleeps hard.  Not many kids are still napping at age five, but when you work and play as hard as this girl, sometimes you need a break.  It doesn't happen every day, but when life gets tiring, she isn't afraid to stop and take a snoozer. 

She's a mini Motor Head.  She loves to help daddy in the garage and sometimes asks me to "Go fast like daddy's car."  Turbo was the first movie she saw in the theater, deepening her love of speed. 

She's got her very own fashion sense.  Dresses are decidedly "in."  Pants and shorts are strictly "out" unless it's soccer class or gymnastics day.  Hair is typically not styled unless she does it herself and there is no such thing as too many accessories.  Unless she decides it's not an accessory day.  In that case, there will be no accessories.  I SAID NONE! 
She is a part of me.  I marvel at her, love her, get infuriated by her, laugh with her and get caught up in her rambunctious energy.  I love seeing parts of me and pieces of her dad in her personality and style.  I love watching her try new things, take on new challenges and be a mentor to her little brother.  She is energetic, curious, brave and loving.  Sometimes I wonder how I got along for 35 years without her in my life. 

Happy birthday, sweet pea.