Lucy’s Log Ride

One of the main reasons for going to Sea World was so Lucy could ride her first roller coaster. Since Lucy was only 2 yrs old she has always wanted to ride in the car with the windows down chanting “faster mommy, faster!” I’ve suspected from early on that she was going to be my “dare-devil”. I find this to be odd since even the thought of roller coasters makes both David and I turn weak in the knees and want to vomit. As a matter of fact nobody in either family likes roller coasters so this must be an alien gene that has emerged.

David took Lucy on the tamest adult log-ride in the park and she LOVED it. The joy of this experience was quickly diminished when we explained to her that she was just too small to ride the “Electric Eel”. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it probably won’t be until she’s 16 and can convince a boy to ride with her that she will ever get on the Electric Eel since both her father and I would rather have our finger nails ripped off than face the stomach lurching experience of an actual adult roller coaster.

Log Rides, Kidnapping and Shamu

My Dad flew down from Michigan to San Antonio this weekend to stay at my sister’s house. (it’s a long story why he was there, but just so you know it involved my sister and her husband in wet suits in the Bahamas). We decided to take advantage of this rare event and take the kids and my dad to Sea World. After David and I sold off any unnecessary organs to pay for the tickets (and oh, parking? that will be 1 kidney please. A glass of water? that will cost you an eyeball), we packed up the double-wide stroller and hit the park.

It was a glorious day in Texas. It was one of those beautiful spring days where you start off wearing a light-weight sweater and by noon you are in shorts and flip-flops. These are the days that I’m glad I live here and not in Michigan where you would start the day at “freeze your lips off cold” and end it with “my eyelids are frozen open” cold.

After a brief crisis at the beginning of the day when Lucy burst into tears because “I can’t look up mommy! The Sun is too bright” and an emergency purchase of $12 sunglasses, we fed the dolphins, saw the Clydesdale horses, caught a show and then stopped for lunch. So far everybody was holding up well and having a good time.

There is a climbing playground for smaller children in the middle of the park and I thought after lunch it might be a good time to let the kids run around. This park is similar to the play areas you would see at McDonald’s but about 50 times larger. Max and I got to the top of the rope wall and he climbed into the first mesh tube. He was doing great. He crawled all the way through the first tube and started into the second one. When a bunch of older kids came through, knocked him down and he started to cry. He got confused and couldn’t find his way out. I began shouting to him, but he could neither see me nor hear me. At this point I sent David in after him. I realize I should have been worried about my child, but honestly it was funny. David gets through the first tube and rolls out on to the ground. I start laughing and then I see it. A strange woman picks up Max and shoves him into the next tube and then she follows after him.

I stopped laughing.

I scream to David that he needs to hurry that somebody has taken Max and placed him into the next tube. David, unable to see either Max or the woman is confused. Although I can still see both of them the woman is ignoring my screams for her to stop. David is trying to move as quickly as he can but this woman is making good time pushing Max through the series of rope ladders and tubes and there is no way David can keep up with her. And all I can see is my child moving further and further away from me and nobody stopping this person. My heart stopped, I don’t even think I was breathing at this point. I felt like this was all a dream and could not possibly be real. I realize that she is getting close to the end of this maze and I run down the rope wall and run over to the exit. As I get there she is emerging with Max under her arm – he is screaming. I run up and grab him from her and she says to me “He is too young to be in this playground by himself”. I say nothing and leave.

It was only hours later that I began to think of all the things I SHOULD have said to that woman. Things like “keep your hands off my child” or “He wasn’t alone and if you had just taken a moment to look” or “My husband has been chasing you for the last fifteen minutes” or “do you always pick up random children” or “I’m going to kick your ass” or “I know kung fu and you are about to find out”. I don’t know – it just seemed like surely I should have said something.

Sometimes the things that are truly important to you become very clear, very quickly and there are no words to express that. There was nothing to say to that woman because for that moment she held my entire life in her hands and all I wanted was for her to ever so gently and quickly hand it back to me.

Snow in Texas!

I spent the majority of my childhood in Ohio and Michigan. This meant many magical mornings when I woke up to a fresh blanket of snow and the news that school was canceled. This inevitably lead to a day of sledding, outdoor play, hot chocolate and collapsing out of exhaustion and too much fresh air at the end of the day. Since having kids I have been sad that this is an experience that my children won’t ever have.

I love living in Texas and although I’m glad I don’t have to deal with snow on a regular basis I do miss it. I miss frosty mornings and spending days baking cookies, bread and big roasts. I miss the beauty of ice-covered trees and how bright and clean things look after a fresh snow. I miss the utter and complete silence that only snow can bring. The kind of silence that makes you think of heaven. But above all else I wish my kids could have those same experiences.

This morning we woke up to about 2 inches of snow in Dallas. This is pretty unusual. So, when Lucy wandered into our bedroom at 7:00 a.m. I told her to go look outside. She ran to the window and exclaimed “There are snowflakes on the ground!!!” and then instantly ran to wake Max. It was a rather wet snow that had all the markings of not lasting very long and would quickly disappear underneath the morning sun. I jumped out of bed, grabbed the kids coats, shoes and mittens and got them covered up over their PJ’s and shoved them out the door. This may not be 3 feet of snow but they could have a taste of the wonders I experienced as a child. They didn’t quite know what to do with the white stuff and why was it in THEIR backyard? It all just didn’t make any sense. Well, we made snowballs, and threw snow at each other for about two hours. They came in with wet pajamas, and cold noses. It was glorious.

A Clean Toilet is a Thing of Beauty

I cleaned my house today. I realize this doesn’t sound like something that should be noteworthy but this is actually a task I don’t do very often. As part of our key to marital bliss David and I have employed somebody who comes twice a month to mop our floors, clean our sinks and vacuum. This way when David spits toothpaste in the sink, or the kids spill juice on the floor several hours of glaring at each other doesn’t occur. It’s amazing how quickly an argument can erupt over toothpaste in the sink.

However, this month our “somebody” couldn’t make it and instead of spending the $60 and having to go through the pre-clean ritual that occurs prior to the cleaning lady coming (a ritual that only other women can understand) I thought I’d do it myself. I sprang out of bed this morning excited about the idea that for once my house would be cleaned the “right” way. After all, nobody can really clean your house like YOU can. (another idea that only women can understand). However, I quickly discovered that I no longer had any cleaning supplies. It had been so long since I had been forced to do this chore myself that I didn’t have toilet cleaner, bathroom cleanser or even a bottle of Pinesol to mop the floors. The kids and I made a mad dash to the store and stocked up. What I discovered at the store is sure to be life-altering.

I have three words for you; CLOROX TOILET WAND. That’s right – a wand for the toilet. It is truly a magical item. A clean-freak’s dream. You have a wand that you snap into an already soapy scrub pad. When the pad touches water the soap is activated and you can begin cleaning your “bowl”. When finished you push a button and the pad pops off into the garbage can. No longer do you need to touch the brush, clean the brush, wait for the brush to dry.

All I can say is that the fact that I find a toilet cleaning device “blog-worthy” is truly a depressing commentary on my life.

Introductions — "Lucy-Style"

“Lucy can you believe that four years ago today Daddy drove Mommy to the hospital and you came out of my tummy?”
“Mommy, was I tiny like a germ?”
“Well, you were small, but not quite as small as a germ. Nana and Papa were there, and we were so happy to see you and we all cried.”
“Did I cry?”
“Oh yes, you cried.”
“You know what Mommy? I cried because I didn’t know who you were.”

Happy Birthday Lucy!

Dear Lucy,

You are 4 years old today. You have become an amazing little girl and although all parents think that about their children I KNOW that I am right. You are wonderfully curious and literal. You want to know how everything is made, who made it, their name, address and telephone number so you can send them a personal note of appreciation. I mean EVERYTHING – “mommy, who made the road?”, “Mommy, who makes cars?”, “mommy, who made the computer?”. When you realize I don’t know the EXACT person who made anything you seem to be rather disappointed and irritated with me.

Recently I was going through the pictures on my cell phone and came across about 50 photos that you had taken of the world. And suddenly I saw life as you see it. There were wonderful pictures of the shopping cart, Max, the carpet, toys, baby dolls and this self-portrait:

Family is everything to you and you get so excited when we decide to do anything all together as a family. When Daddy and Max met us at the mall the other night you exclaimed “family hug” and insisted that we all stop and hug each other. Although socially awkward we complied.

You have also become Max’s guardian — you are the first one to greet him in the morning and the one person who looks out for him more than anyone else. You make sure he has his blanket, his pacifier, his snacks, toys, etc. You are also his biggest irritant – poking him, pushing him and routinely stealing his toys.

If I had to describe you to a complete stranger I would say you are a passionate rule follower. You will follow any guidelines, rules or instructions given down to the last letter and are quite dismayed at anybody who would see fit NOT to comply. This is the biggest area of conflict between you and your brother. While Max doesn’t understand the need for rules you are worried that the Earth will spin off of it’s axis if rules are not strictly followed. As a result we rarely have to punish you but you constantly try to punish Max.

Although you are physically petite for your age you are well advanced intellectually. You can count to 20 – although 17 seems to be a sticking point. You know all your letters and their sounds and you can read and spell some words. I’ve begun the process of selecting a school for you to attend and I must admit that I’m dreading the day I must send you. I have enjoyed and am enjoying every moment we have together at home.

You are my angel, my sweet baby girl and I am so lucky to be your mother! Happy Birthday Lucy!

Gymnastics or Torture?

Today was the first day of gymnastics for Lucy & Max. Initially only Lucy was going to take gymnastics. The thinking was that she would enjoy having a “big-girl” activity and the class environment might be a good experience for her. However, when I went to sign her up the gym also offered a toddler “mommy & me” class at the same time. In that moment it seemed like a great idea for Max & I to sign up as well. I had visions of us all holding hands and going to gymnastics together — possibly even singing. If only I had stopped to think about MY children and not the imaginary children I apparently was thinking about.

We arrived at the gym in cutely coordinated sweatpants and shirts. We were all ready. The kids were excited and eager to start. Max instantly started pointing to other kids and exclaiming “Who That?”. Lucy kept asking “Can we start now? how about now? NOW?” The young coaches came out to the waiting area and gathered up the “older” kids and started herding them to their class.

Lucy waved bye and walked away.
I beamed proudly at my well adjusted 4 year old.
Max collapsed in a ball of tears at his sister leaving.

They then took the mommy’s and toddlers and we went to the trampolines. Oh, I knew Max would love this and he did take right to it. He jumped, he ran, he fell – he completely ignored the teacher. Every instruction was as if she was speaking to everybody else but him. All the other mommy’s gently guided their children into compliance but me. I could get Max to only do the opposite of what was being required.

After this session we walked over to an open mat and sat down for “music-time”. Well, in order to reach this mat we had to pass the “big-kid” class which included seeing Lucy. Max, excited to see his sister wanted to join her class and when he realized he couldn’t he collapsed into tears — again.

He cried through music time.
He briefly stopped to make a mad dash across the gym to find his sister.
He cried through tumbling time.

And just as I was about to surrender to his sorrow and long after my vision of us all enjoying this experience had been dashed across the rocks of reality they began playing on the rope swing. This activity actually looked mildly dangerous for a 2 yr-old, which I’m sure is why Max liked it. Basically they let kids hang onto a big rope and swing/fall into a giant pit of foam blocks. When that stops being fun they get to climb up on a large square block and jump off of that into the pit of foam. Well, Max thought this was worthy of his attention. He loved it and jumped, rolled and frolicked in the blocks and periodically screamed “Sissy!!” – as if somehow Lucy would appear and share in his joy.

I had just started to think that just maybe he might adjust to this whole gymnastics thing when they announced “sticker-time”. Now, Max loves stickers and I thought this will be a great way to end this experience. However, they didn’t mean stickers – they meant stamps – as in rubber stamp their hand. For a boy who thinks nothing of coloring his head, mouth, ears and nose with a marker he completely fell apart when they decided to stamp a light hue of a mickey mouse on his hand. He shrieked in horror that ink had been applied to his hand. At this point the other parents were all politely laughing as if to indicate that this behavior was somehow cute. Cute? Really? My son has cried through at least 50% of a 45 minute gymnastics class WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!!

We met back up with Lucy and her coach at the end of class. Lucy’s instructor sweetly explained to me that Lucy is a natural. That in no time she will be able to move up into another class and that she followed every instruction.

And only now, hours after our return do I realize that this is the beauty of having two children. Max is younger and he is a different kind of child than Lucy. His sister is his best friend and right now at 2 years old – he needs her in a way that Lucy needed me when she was 2. best friends: Lucy & Max.

Oscar Nominated Chris

Nobody teaches because of the money. I teach because I love my subject and I love my students. Seriously, my students are interesting people and I’m honored that I have the opportunity to meet them, and to teach them. Most of all, they keep me young. Periodically you find a student who you know is destined for something bigger than your little classroom. I recently had such a student and today he told me that he was leaving school to pursue his dream. Although I’m sad to see him go I also know that he needs to go.

Chris is a film student who is headed for the Seattle Film Institute. You wouldn’t think much of Chris when you first meet him. He is quiet, still and slight of build. However, he is singular in his purpose. He wants to make movies – he wants to tell stories and I admire his dream.

I wanted to share with Chris my meager advice about story-telling and to wish him well on his future. So, Chris, this one is for you buddy….

1.) Good movies are good stories. Good stories are about good characters. Good characters are a lovely combination of reality and perfection. We want to see the best version of ourselves mixed with our biggest weaknesses. As an audience we want to know that we could be those people, we are those people, or we care about those people.

2.) Remember the epic hero journey. Your characters need to grow, evolve and to have changed somehow at the end of their journey. It may not seem “epic” to anybody else but them, but it must be significant.

3.) Even if you have no desire to be a screenwriter — write. Practice and hone your storytelling now. Sketch – even if you aren’t going to be a cinematographer. Practice the art of telling your story.

4.) You’re only as good as the people around you. Making a film is a team effort — always strive to have the best people, the best talent you can either afford or is available. When you find somebody who is talented, easy to work with and you like them – KEEP THEIR NUMBER. Be nice to them and continue to give them work. Be loyal and supportive of your team and they will go to the end’s of the Earth for you.

5.) Work on communication – no matter what role you play you will need to be able to communicate your ideas and your vision. Work on being able to tell your story, sell your ideas and convince people that your vision is the right vision. Be passionate and don’t be embarrassed to show that passion – share it with whoever will listen.

Your aspirations are those that people often laugh at, belittle or think it isn’t possible. And perhaps you won’t end up at the Oscars like we always joke about, but let your talent and your aspirations lead you. Follow the bliss and the money will come. Good luck and when you do win that Oscar remember your English teacher from that tiny junior college in Texas.