Monday, January 22, 2018

It Is Just a Blink

If you have kids, it's likely that at some point in your children's lives, most likely when the sweet darlings are throwing the mother of all temper tantrums, a well meaning but so not appreciated voice will gently remind you, "Enjoy it all, they will grow up in a blink."

There are tough days of parenting when that oft quoted advice seems so untrue. Will the diapers, stuffy noses, earth shattering dilemmas (like "I like mac cheese, just not this mac cheese"), ever, ever end?

Tomorrow is my sweet baby daughter's 18th birthday. It doesn't feel that momentous to her, she's actually kind of "meh" on it. But for me, it means my job as her mom is changing. I'm not sad about it - I am so excited to see what the world holds for her - but now I know for sure, yes, it does go by in a blink.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A New Kind of Deployment

Last week I got to go with a group from my church on a mission trip to Haiti. There were a lot of reasons I wanted to go - a chance to serve in one of the worlds poorest countries, the chance to travel outside of the usual destinations, and a chance to spend time with people I wanted to know better. It was an incredible trip.

Our team arrived in Haiti to work with Village of Hope, an organization that supports a school and a medical center in rural Haiti. Most of the schools (90%) in Haiti are private (or conversely, only 10% of schools are funded by the government). Most rural areas have no access to medical care (or electricity, or water...). Village of Hope has about 700 students, K through high school, and their medical center serves many thousands of people. Their weekly malnourishment clinic has saved the lives of many babies. I enjoyed contributing to an organization that offers practical solutions that hopefully will lead to enduring improvements.

But the more I was there, the more it reminded me of my year spent in Iraq. Like interesting businesses (this one is auto parts and a pharmacy)

A dorm room and roommates...

A "DFAC" (I cannot remember what that acronym stands for anymore)

Hanging out in a dusty compound, playing cards to pass the time

Random livestock along the road

Formations and flag raising ceremonies (in this case, the Kindergarten of the school - beyond adorbs)

Interesting locals that are fun to meet (who love selfies)

And a joint international force getting things done (in this case, painting and staining cabinets in the new band room, so that the school can start a music program)

If you would be interested in supporting Village of Hope (you can sponsor one of the children in their school for $40 a month) check out their web site HERE.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

This is the Year

This year - 2018 - is the year. As my friend put it, "the big birthday year." When you are still being surprised by the world, and still feel like a goof ball faking at being an adult, turning 50 sounds ridiculous. It could also be the evolving timing of generations. When my mom turned 50, I was 2 years out of college and she and my dad celebrated their 28th anniversary. When my husband's mom turned 50, he was 8 or so years into his Air Force career. For my 50th year, I have a soon to be college freshman and a high schooler - definitely not retiring from full time mom duties anytime soon. 

I am not freaked out about the number at all. Life is good, the family is good. I am always working on some kind of improvement, mental or physical, and I know that won't stop. But 50 is definitely on this side of the middle, it's the start of the second half. My grandfather lived to 99 and my mom is an awesome, active 75 year old, so I hope to have a complete second half, but still.

So I intend to use this milestone to have a blast all year long, and as an excuse to do stuff I have always wanted to do. I don't need permission - it's A BIRTHDAY THING. The birthday list is completely not my invention but I am stealing it. Also, I couldn't think of 50 things, which leaves room to add more :-).  

50 things to do when I turn 50
Sky dive (with my daughter after she turns 18)
Long board
Learn to knit socks
Make Pad Thai at home
Make croissants at home (did this over Christmas - yummmmmmm - and not that hard - here's the recipe)
Take a digital photography class
Finish my book
Make tortillas from scratch
Make macrons
Go to the opera
See something at Signature Theater
See something at Arena Stage
Go to an old school rock concert (have tickets to see Pink!)
Enter a bike race
Do another triathlon (like this very casual one in the spring)
Go on the mission trip to Haiti (leaving Saturday)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Guest Post Part 2: More Ways to Not Be a Jerk While Flying

(from TSA's Instagram, worth subscribing to)

My son started writing a book on our long flight home from the west coast this Thanksgiving, a result of a long, packed flight, wonky WiFi, and noisy fellow passengers.  I am SO SO SO appreciative of all the support for his first few pages (see them here). Here is the next installment, enjoy!

                           Leaving the house

This chapter isn’t really about leaving the house but more about what should be done before you get to the airport. These things should not be done while in line for security or in line to check your bags. When I see people doing these things I like to mentally quote the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared”

Rule #1
Have a mostly fixed wardrobe.
This one is pretty simple. You don’t want to be frequently changing what you're wearing because everything you buy, take off, or put on requires you to dive into your bag. This is a problem because as you read you will understand that you really want to avoid as much commotion and fuss as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to have a fixed wardrobe. It’s ok to occasionally take of or on a sweatshirt but, things like pants and shirts should stay put.

Follow my dress code
Rule 2 goes hand in hand with Rule 1. Now don’t worry, this is unisex and applies to all genders. You want sneakers, long socks, sweatpants or jeans (just no skinny jeans), long sleeve shirt or tee shirt and a sweatshirt. If you couldn't already tell, the point of this is to show as little skin as possible. Girls, you're on an airplane not at the gym; nothing should be skin tight or show more than necessary. Guys, please wear closed toed shoes. Nobody wants to see your nasty toenails. The first thing people judge you by is your clothes so I recommend a bland look.

Rule #3
Pack your bag right
Close your eyes any try to envision a hypothetical scenario as I tell it to you. (Don't actually because you will probably look very stupid sitting there upright with your eyes closed and a book in your hand). You're sitting there two hours into your flight and you have ten percent left on your Tablet. Oh no! How will I watch Game of Thrones now! Then you suddenly realize in horror that your portable battery is at the bottom of your bag. Now you have to dig to the bottom of your bag, putting stuff everywhere as your seatmates give you the stink eye. Now imagine this one. You're sitting there two hours into your flight and you have ten percent left on your Tablet. However, you packed smart and you reach into the top outside pocket and pull out whatever brick like power bank you have and recharge your tablet. Meanwhile while this happened, nobody notices. I think you see where I'm getting at.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Finding the Right Outfit

Our family is in the total sweet spot for the newest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. And by sweet spot, I mean parents who grew up with the "original" movies who have a teenage son who knows the Star Wars Expanded Universe better than most. Unsurprisingly, we've seen it twice, and all love it.

But...we all have little, tiny things that bug us, and for me, that's the outfit of Admiral Amilyn Holdo. Ugh, the dress! Why is the person who fills in for the ultimate strong leader, Princess Leia, wearing an evening gown! Gah!

I was discussing this outfit problem I have with the family Expanded Universe expert, how the soft, drapey dress bothered me on a woman who was put in charge of the fleet. Said expert is also an amateur actor and attuned to dramatic effects. Without giving away any spoilers, he said that the Admiral's outfit was less about her role as a strong leader, and more about her ultimate role as a savior. It was more about the movie making than any kind of statement on hard and soft leadership. Fair point.

For a woman, finding the balance between being who you are (not a man) and being what the task requires, is sometimes hard to figure out. Can you be strong and tough and decisive and still be feminine? Definitely. But maybe don't wear your evening gown to a galactic battle (if you are me, but you do you :-))

Monday, December 11, 2017

Change is Good

(Buy this awesome shirt HERE)

I was raised by a mom who believed there was always a solution to every problem, if you worked it. She is tenacious and it has rubbed off on me. Telling me it's not possible just makes me try harder (shout out to the high school counselor who said I'd never get into the Air Force :-)). 

So it's been interesting in our house lately as we have come to realize that quitting an activity and changing to a different level class is the right thing for each of our kids. Nearly every fiber of my being is shouting (inside my head) YOU CAN DO IT, WE GOT THIS! Then I see how the current situation is demoralizing--they are not quitters--but a change would really lighten their load.  

I admit to being ever so slightly dramatic - my kids are healthy, well adjusted (if sometimes smart ass-y), kind to others and don't complain (too loudly) when we ask for help around the house. As I said to my husband today, they are either straight with their parents or the greatest covert operatives ever.

I know there is a lot of value in sticking with something through thick and thin, but there is value also in knowing when it's time to make a change. So I quiet the "work it" part of my brain and say, "Ok, I see you put thought into this. We support you 100%. Here's what we think should happen next. And we love you."

Friday, December 8, 2017

Guest Post: A Few Ways to Not Be a Jerk While Flying

Inspired by our recent coast to coast flight for Thanksgiving, my son decided to start writing a book on how to be a better passenger. It's pretty amusing, especially coming from a kid who has more airline miles than most adults. I think he crossed the Atlantic 4 or 5 times before he turned 2! What follows is his introduction, and I hope that having a place to share his writing will inspire him to continue to do it. Enjoy! (Authors note: hope you don't mind comic sans)


Being the son of a commercial airline pilot and a mother who won’t tolerate any form of BS (Editor's note: ahem :-)), I have been on a lot of flights and been taught a ton of manners and just general politeness the hard way, and with these two lenses you tend to see the world and the way people act in a whole new and annoying light, especially when it comes to air travel. First off, I don’t want you to think I’m better than everyone like a comedian. I’m just your average 15-year-old who likes to observe and has an opinion on like, everything. There is just something about being in a crowded line, cabin, or, terminal that just turns people into these animals. The whole point of this endeavor to be a polite person while going from point A to point B is just be the most forgettable person you can be. 

Now I know that might sound condescending but if you’re not very forgettable then 99% of the time your fellow passengers will have a new story to tell at the dinner table about how annoying that weird guy sitting in that seat behind them. “But what about the other 1%?” I hear you thinking, that other one percent is when you are so well behaved and polite and kind that you are remembered for your actions of kindness. However, I have never encountered such a person, and thus the chances are so low that you might as well get struck by lightning while winning the lottery because that has a greater chance of happening.

Now that the boring intro crap is out of the way let’s get to the good stuff. I put each “rule” into different chapters about different points during your flight experience from leaving the house to pulling away from the airport. Also, each rule has a color-coded level to show the importance of each rule. For example, green is just a suggestion, yellow is a strong recommendation and red is if you don’t follow you run the big risk of being THAT guy. Now that this simple system is set up and explained let’s explore the disgustingness of human behavior as we dive head first into the abyss of the commercial airline business.