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Friday, January 28, 2005

I Solemnly Swear...

I Solemnly Swear...

I received my notary bond and seal this week. It's funny; I've been looking forward to this for so long. Yet now, with all the excitement over Loke and I trying to start our little cottage industry, my efforts to become a notary and certified loan signing agent have taken a back burner. I got my commission on the 7th, but I didn't hightail it to the County Clerk's office to file my bond as quickly as I thought I would.

Just a few weeks ago, I was doing at least one job interview a week and leaving each feeling dejected, useless, and very, very old. Now, I'm looking at a tiny glimmer of hope. Hope that I won't have to go back into cold Corporate Ameria. Hope that I can make my OWN way, and not be a pawn in a ladder-climber's effort to reach the boss's backside. I'm too old to play that game anymore. Not to mention, I just don't have it in me. My fire to be a company sweetheart burned out two years ago. I miss the money, God knows so do our creditors, but I just don't feel like being raped anymore. If someone's gonna screw me, they're gonna tell me they love me while they're doing it.

So, in between the nut biz and the mom biz, which could very well be the same biz if you ask me, I've got 30 days to get down to the County Clerk, file my bond, and take my oath. That's right, 30 days. Let's do some math shall we? My commission came on the 7th. Today is the...MOTHER MARY! I gotta go! Now I'm flying around like a crazy woman, grabbing this paper and that paper while Averie watches me. I know she's thinking of a comedy routine while she observes. I've been the subject of more than one of her sketches. I have a feeling I'll be seeing myself portrayed a la Linda Richmond on SNL someday. Without the big hair and accent, of course. While I'm flitting about trying to get things together, I ask if she'd like to come with me since she's not working today. She accepts. Of course the offer to buy her lunch helped. She's gonna hit me for saying that. She came of her own sweet freewill. 'Cuz she loves me.

We make the trek into downtown Santa Ana. Whenever I drive to Santa Ana, which is as little as possible, I smile knowing that I'm still in the "OC", and yet worlds and worlds away. So much poverty so close to what people are being led to believe on a stupid tv show is ALL of Orange County, but this is our county seat; the heart of the barrio. I find a parking space close to the courthouse and Averie and I walk in. I'm a little nervous because I don't know quite where I'm going. I'm grateful to have her with me. She calms me with her humorous observations; "Stupid People" is one of her favorites. She never runs out of material.

After I fill out my notary application, Averie and I step up to a window with a nice lady ready to help me. Well ok, she wasn't nice to begin with. Your typical city government employee who looks like she hates her job; no smile, rules by rote, "next please" robotic routine. As she goes through my paperwork and makes sure everything is in order, Averie begins to chat with her. She asks her about her work and how interesting it must be. She says she must see quite a lot of notaries come through here a day. In just a short time, she has changed this woman's frowny face and morose demeanor from harsh, to soft. The woman smiles and responds to Averie's inquiries accordingly. I watch a transformation before my eyes. My daughter is amazing. She paints "People Portraits" with her personality. I'm oftened awed by her.

Soon, I'm asked to raise my right hand and take my oath. I suddenly feel proud of my small accomplishment. This means I've done the work. This means I followed through. My daughter is standing next to me. It's a great feeling. Once I get to the "I DO" part, the recorder stamps my bond, smiles and says "That's it. You're hereby a Notary, recorded in the State of California, in the County of Orange, and you may begin in official capacity from this date until the date your commission expires." I look at Averie and she smiles and says "Good for you, Mommy." I notice that I'm still holding my driver's license for ID purposes and I ask the lady if she needs to see my identification:

Recorder Lady: Sweetie, you just took a solemn vow. If you're not who you say you are, then you just perjured yourself under oath and I can send you to jail.

Me: *blink* Oh. Okay. Thank you. (putting ID back in my wallet)

I take my paperwork, thank her, and Averie and I turn and walk out. We're silent for a few minutes.

Me: I feel silly. Duh.

She: (giggling) Well...

Me: Shut up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Mini Extortionist or Major Player?

Mini Extortionist or Major Player?

Yesterday I had a lunch date with a wonderful friend. I was a little early, so while I waited, I sat in my van and thought I'd spend the time making a list to map out the rest of my day. I looked around in my mobile junk room for something to write on, (Hey, three teenagers. What would you call it?) and noticed a green spiral notebook on the floor. My first thought was; "CRAP! Bryson forgot his homework!" Oh well, I figure if he really needed it, he would have called by now. So I pick up the notebook and casually flip through it to find a blank page to make my list.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking; "Sure Pua, you make it look and sound like a casual flip-through. But really, we know you're looking for the secrets of a high school freshman." Ok, ok. I'll admit that after the first couple of pages, which were simple homework notes, I forgot what my objective was for picking up the notebook in the first place. It was like a black hole, sucking me in. I couldn't stop flipping pages. Did I feel guilty? Not in the least. There wasn't anyting on it saying "KEEP OUT" or "PRIVATE" or "FOR BRYSON ONLY". Why should I feel guilty? I'm just looking for a piece of writing paper, she said, batting her eyelashes innocently.

After the first couple of pages, there was a page of back and forth scribble notes between Bryson and a girl. Silly, typical stuff. Nothing to get excited over. Who's taking Who to the Winter Formal...blah, blah, blah. But then came "The Page". The heading at the top of the paper read "LTR: Lunch Ticket Rules". As I read on, it was what appeared to be a contract, in my son's lousy handwriting, as to the usage of another student's free lunch pass.

Now let me just explain something here. The Grommet struggles a little bit in the grades department. ALL of his teachers tell us that he's bright, intelligent, articulate, charming, capable, and LAZY. The smarts are there, but he's got them resting on a LA-Z-BOY recliner. We've worked with him, pleaded with him, bribed him. We know what he's capable of. It's just not real important to him. If it's not sports related, he'll give it only minimal effort...just enough to scrape by so that he can continue to play waterpolo or hockey. So, why is this important. Let's get back to the "LTR", shall we?

So I'm looking at this contract of sorts. In it, Bryson has methodically listed the rules for using this lunch pass. Mind you, he's even used legalese. I'm reading things like:

"The aforementioned party, henceforth to be known as Bryson (B) shall be allowed to use the lunch ticket on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The second party, henceforth to be known as Chris (C) shall be allowed to use the lunch ticket on Tuesday and Thursday. This schedule will then switch every other week. EX: The following week after this schedule, (C) shall have the ticket on M, W, F, and (B) will have the ticket T, TH.

If the owner of the ticket, henceforth to be known as Olivia (O), wishes to use the ticket, the first or second party must surrender the ticket upon demand and they lose their day. The schedule will remain for the following day.

If the first or second party is absent from school on their scheduled lunch pass day, they forfeit and the present party may use the lunch pass. The present party may also use it on the following day, as regularly scheduled and the absent party loses that day."

At the bottom of the page are three signature lines marked (B), (C), and (O). As I sit there reading this, I begin to laugh. My son is a little player! A mini extortionist of sorts. No, he's not browbeating anyone or using bullyish force. I'm quite sure that he charmed little Olivia out of her lunch ticket. I probably should be appalled. I probably should be shocked. But right now, all I can do is chuckle. That little scheisse. He's working the system.

My friend arrives for our lunch date, and so I quickly jot a little note at the top of the page; "So Grommet~What's this about?" I dog-ear the page, close the notebook, and go in and enjoy my time with my friend. Later that afternoon, when I get home, I walk over to Bryson with the notebook opened to the page and show it to him. He starts to smile a smirky kind of smile and gives me a Vinne Barbarino-ish "WHUT?" I continue to cross-examine:

Me: Bryson. What's the deal with this little LTR contract?

He: *smiling* It's nothing. My friend Olivia doesn't use the Lunch Pass because her dad gives her money everyday.

Me: So, no one is missing out on their lunch because of this?

He: No. She WANTED me to have it. She likes me.

Me: And this is why you haven't been taking lunch lately?

He: Yup.

Me: You don't feel in the least bit bad for using her lunch pass?

He: No. In fact, I told her she didn't need to do that. She said if we didn't use it, she'd let someone else have it.

Me: *sigh* Who's Chris?

He: This guy in my class. Olivia likes him too. That's why I made the rules.

Me: *chuckling* Well, you know what they say...the way to a man's heart...

He: *blank stare*

Me: Yeah, well. Anyway. Bry, if you put as much thought and effort into your schoolwork as you did into writing this "contract", you'd be an honor student. You know that don't you?

He: What's for dinner?

Me: I dunno. Got a pass?

Monday, January 24, 2005

Oh Nuts!

Oh Nuts!

This has turned out to be a sweet surprise in so many ways. It's funny how life turns out. This time last year, I didn't even know I HAD a sister. Now, I have a best friend who happens to be my sister. In a very short time, we've made up for 40 years of lost time. We look alike (our families think so), we laugh alike, and sometimes, very eerily, we complete each other's thoughts. Our lives have paralleled in so many ways. She's married to her best friend for 20 something years (her Phil is very much like my Charlie), she left her career just a few years ago, like myself, and is a full-time homemaker. We're constantly looking for ways to help with our household finances that wouldn't keep us away from home and family too much. The more we learn about each other, the more we already knew...if that makes any sense.

A few weeks ago, Loke sent me a little package of candied nuts that she'd made. Two minutes after I opened the package, my family had completely devoured them. I called her to tell her that she really needed to market them. She laughed. I wasn't joking. She listened, and in just a short time, she did the homework to get herself up and running. Saturday, I drove out to San Diego to help her. That's how much I believe in her. We cooked up nearly ten pounds of nuts.

Ladies and Gentleman, it is my distinct honor to present.... my sister and her nuts. Laugh if you dare, but you've never tasted anything so awesome in your life. Yes, my sister's nuts are delicious. *Giggle* I love teasing her.

Lokelani's Kanake Nuts

I couldn't be more proud. It's like giving birth, only someone else is having the labor pains. Just kidding Sis! You know I'm right there with you all the way....as long as you let me wear a hat while we cook. If you make me put on one of those Lunch Lady hair nets, I quit!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Perfectly Angelic Mothering Talents

Perfectly Angelic Mothering Talents

This is my firstborn, Averie. Give her a listen. Yes, this is my child. I've done well...haven't I?

*evil grin*

She fuckin' rocks. Um..I mean she's great. Yeah.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Charlie and Pua 1980 Posted by Hello

Switching Gears

Switching Gears

I'm going to put everything aside for a minute or two. All the drama, all the emotion, all the everyday ins and outs of running a family. I'm going to forget that I've had a couple of really tearful days, that there are loads of laundry piling up, and that my kids think I pretty much do nothing on a daily basis.

For just right now, I'm going to take a few minutes and remind myself how lucky I am. I'm going to concentrate on the date and remember the significance of this day in my life. Twenty-five years ago, January 20, 1980, Super Bowl Sunday to be exact, I met the man that would change my life.

I spent some time today looking at pictures. It probably wasn't very smart considering I've been tearing up like crazy over minute things. But it seemed very necessary. As I flipped pages in albums, I smiled at the memories flashing before me. We've shared so many, made so many, and now have so many to cherish. It still stuns me that we're talking about a quarter of a century. I don't feel that much older, yet at the same time, I sometimes feel ancient. We were babies really. I was 19 and just out of a heartbreaking relationship. Charlie was 22 and not really looking for anything permanant.

I know it sounds trite and crazy, but I really did know the minute I met him that I was going to marry him. I just waited for his thoughts to catch up with mine. From that very first night, while the friends who introduced us sat inside and watched the Pittsburgh Steelers trounce the LA Rams, we sat outside in the moonlight and shared our thoughts, our dreams, and those things that make us who we are. I fell in love with him. I fell in love with the WHO of him. He made me feel safe, and whole, and completely and utterly treasured. He made all the hurt go away, and he promised me he would always be there. He's always kept his promises.

I could tell you 25 years worth of Charlie and Pua stories, but I'll spare you. This one's really only for me. It's a theater filled to capacity with just me. On the screen I see a girl who grows into a woman, a wife, and a mother, who is loved by a boy who grows into a man, a husband, and a father. We're in the best part of the show, you know. Down the line will come the part where Robert Browning's words come to life; "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be." But for now, the plotline is about an amazing and loving friendship. A story that I'm sure, will have no end.

Happy 25th Meet-up Day Chooch. We're having the Super Bowl of Romances. Thank you for every single precious day. I love you.


Yep. That about says it all.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Apparantly, I Suck

It's Tuesday. Thank God they've gone back to school. Three solid days of feeling completely inept in Teenager World and no way to vent. Apparantly, I am the worst, most horrible mother in the world. Why? Well, I make them clean their rooms. Hey, when I open the kitchen cupboard and I can't find a glass to pour some juice into, then I know the glassware is hidden in the catacombs of their sleeping spaces. Is it too much to ask to clean out your room once a month or so so that I can have a glass of juice in the morning? I guess so.

Oh yeah. And then on Sunday, I asked if they would clean the bathroom. You see, people might stop by and God forbid, they might have to relieve themselves. You already know there's no toilet paper in there, so I thought that since they were going to have to bring in the t.p., they might could clean that disease pit called a bathroom. At this point, its a matter closely akin to what the Center for Disease Control might consider life threatening. I won't let the dog go in there right now. Yes, I care for my dog and my fellow man. But I suck as a mother.

Monday comes and my world caves in. I ask the worst thing I can possibly ask. The reaction from my man cub child is a look of complete horror. Go ahead, take a shot at guessing what could possibly end my son's picture perfect life of leisure. Take out the trash? Nawww. Mow the lawn? Oh heaven's, please. Get a haircut? Child's play, really. The expression on his face would lead those from the outside world to believe that I asked him to cut off his right hand. From the length of his showers and the look of our water bill these days, we KNOW he needs his right hand. But did I ask for that? So what horrific act did I ask him to perform?

Thank you notes.

I asked the kid to write thank you notes for some of his Christmas gifts. I'm not kidding you, he nearly hyperventolated. In between tears, he told me that I was crazy. I'm a crazy woman because I want him to tell the people who were kind to him this Christmas that he appreciates them. I should be locked up. I shouldn't be allowed to be around kids. I might teach them manners. God help them.

I am a monster.

Friday, January 14, 2005

On The Outs

On The Outs

You'll excuse me if I'm a bit pissy today. No pun intended. I go into the bathroom this morning; half asleep. I sit, do my business, and THEN find there's no damn toilet paper. Why? Why can't the last person put a new roll on? WHY? I don't care if it's put on the roller "over" or "under"...just put it on for Chrissake! So fine. Okay. I can either sit there and drip dry or be resourceful. I have things to do. So I stretch my leg out toward the hamper and grab a towel with my toes, dragging it back toward me, bitching under my breath that I could really use some of that TP from the tenting of my house the other day, and I use the towel to wipe. Don't worry, I'm doing laundry today and I'll use extra hot water and bleach. Whatever. Dream on.

Now, let me just say this. I buy toilet paper in bulk. BIG packages of rolls and rolls of toilet paper at Costco. I keep a special cabinet out in the garage FULL of paper towels and toilet paper. It isn't THAT difficult to go out to the damn garage and get toilet paper. That is unless you're living in MY house. If you're one of my kids, and you run out of toilet paper in the hall bathroom, you simply go into Mom and Dad's bathroom and you steal all of theirs. Forget the fact that the garage is just a few extra feet away from Mom and Dad's bathroom. It's a few feet extra too much to go. Why bother to go to the garage when you can just leave your parents stranded?

Next, I go into the kitchen to make coffee. Still a bit sleepy, with an added edge of frustration and grumbling about toilet paper. I open the freezer to get the coffee, then go to the cabinet to get a filter. No friggin filters. Dammit. Sumbitch. I have a vague recollection of Caris making a pot of coffee yesterday afternoon. Did she mention that she used the last coffee filter? No. Why should she do that? After all, food and products in the home mystically appear on a mere whim of thought. We have a magical refrigerator and pantry. You simply stand in front of it like Picard in front of a Replicator and state what you want, and "POOF", it is made so. But for me? No, not for me. I have to MacGyver it because I'm not going another minute without coffee. So, I get to work fashioning a coffee filter out of paper napkins folded "just so" and form them to my coffee maker's filter basket. Then I watch carefully to make sure it works, resting my tired head on my folded arm on the kitchen counter top, mumbling about toilet paper AND coffee filters.

I may not have all my faculties about me at this particular moment, but damn if I'm not the most resourceful grump in the world. Remind me to restock the Replicator.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

California Toes in New York Rain - May 2004 Posted by Hello

We're Floating Away

Floating Away

We're getting drowned here in the Southland. While the rain falls in buckets, the news is constantly awash in story after story of floods, mudslides, broken dams, and daring rescues. Yesterday, Caris and I sat transfixed, staring at the tv as we watched the rescue of a mother and her 8-week old baby from a raging, overflowing river. I found myself crying as I watched. And then again, at the mudslide in La Conchita as it happened. A father now frantically digs with bare hands at the wreckage to find his family. People's homes are falling into swollen rivers as they helplessly watch.

I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is such a small event compared to what's happened on the other side of the world. But it still hurts me to watch it. And it seems to hurt so much more because it's happening right here. The rain that we often pray for because it tends to get dry around here, comes now and threatens to wash us away. I fight off my tendancy to fall into a funk with all the recent bad news. I'm usually unlikely to leave the house on days like this, and for the past few days, I've remained warm inside, watching the rain fall. In between trips back and forth to the school to pick up kids. I put a log on the fire, wrap up in a warm, Mexican blanket with the dog curled up next to me and continue to watch as the raingutters spill over into the street. I'm grateful to be here and know that I have no reason to be in any kind of funk.

This warmth is a far cry from being out in the cold rain with no place to go.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Camera Alone - Part 2

What Your Camera Does When You're Not Home - Part 2

You know, this is becoming a pretty regular thing. I'm finding that I just keep my camera out all the time now..within easy reach. When I come home and look through, I'm often assured of a really good laugh. These days, I wonder if they're doing it for someone else...or if it's really all a clever ploy to make me smile.

Time for a haircut. Posted by Hello

Fly Boy? Posted by Hello

Mezmer-EYES-ing Caris Posted by Hello

Friday, January 07, 2005

Christmas 1966; Pua and Daddy. He just got home from Vietnam. Posted by Hello

Happy Birthday Daddy

Happy Birthday Daddy

Today is my father's birthday. He's 68 years old. This is the father that helped raise me...when we was home. United States Navy, Personnelman First Class, now retired. Since I was basically raised an only child, he was my best friend. He'd play Monopoly Marathons with me, taught me to play the ukulele, introduced me to The Harmonicats and Big Band music. He was just a big kid in that 6'5" 210 pound frame. Wherever he was stationed, he always found the time to play with me. I never had to ask twice, much to my mother's dismay. Whenever we'd laugh too loud for too long, my mom would always yell; "Alright you two, take five!" I lived for those days. He was my hero.

We never stayed in one place longer than 3 years at a time. By the time I was 10, I found myself afraid to make friends. I always knew I'd love them, and then I'd have to leave them. I was awkward, introverted, and painfully shy (now I'm just painful!)But, I always had my daddy.

Sometimes, when my dad would be deployed, I often thought he wouldn't come home. I remember once, before he left for a tour of duty in the Tonkin Gulf, we watched a Shirley Temple movie together. The Little Princess. In it, Shirley's military daddy was going away and she recited this poem:

"My Daddy has to go away.
But he'll return again someday.
Any moment, I may see,
My Daddy coming home to me."

From that day on, my dad and I would always say that together whenever he shipped out. He shipped out a lot. I missed him a lot. From wherever he was, whether it was a carrier in the Pacific, or a base on dry land in Asia somewhere, he always wrote to me. I have a steamer trunk full of letters from exotic locales. Love letters from my dad to my mom, and from my mom to my dad. Letters from my dad to me. You could tell that he would adjust his communications with me to suit my age and ability. Before I could read, he would draw cartoons which he would send to me so that I could color them, and send them back to him. When I could read, he had my mother send him some of that "kindergarten ruled" paper, and he'd write his letters really big, leaving spaces for me to practice under his written letters, and my mom would send them back to him. Considering there was only "snail mail" back then, the magnitude of the committment to writing is staggering to me when I look at the contents of that trunk today. Stacks and stacks of letters, which my mother lovingly tied into batches with ribbon, and stored in chronological order. On top of each stack, she put a piece of paper with the name of my dad's ship or his place of duty.

In the 60's, when he was stationed on the USS Oriskany, he had a small reel-to-reel tape recorder, and he'd tape himself playing the ukulele, singing, and laughing with some of his shipmates. He'd send those tapes home to us. I remember how my mother's face lit up when we listened to them. I had just turned 6, and in October of 1966 my mother received a telegram telling her that my father's ship had caught fire during it's second deployment in Southeast Asia. There were casualties, but information was vague. They didn't say if my father was one of those casualties. For the following 2 months, we didn't know and the Department of the Navy wasn't helping much. I was pretty young, and even though she put up a strong front, I could sense my mother's pain.

When I was a child, I had the faith of a child. I trusted someone was listening and along with my prayers, I'd sing:

God Bless my Daddy,
Who's over there.
Says a tiny little voice,
in her tiny little bed.

God Bless my Daddy
Oh please, take care.
Says a tiny little voice,
in her tiny little bed.

For this is the night,
Mommy turns out the light.
Oh how I wish you were here,
So I could kiss you goodnight.

I hope in DreamLand,
We'll meet somewhere.
Says a tiny little voice
in her tiny little bed.

On Christmas morning in 1966, my mother woke me up and told me that Santa had been to visit. I remember thinking that all I really wanted was my daddy to be home. When I walked into our little living room, he was standing there next to the tree. They'd sent him home. He was safe and he was home. I still recall that Christmas as the best Christmas ever. I believed in Santa for many, many years after that.

It wasn't the last time he went away. There were more deployments after that and more transfers. My father retired when I was 16. He said he stayed in as long as he did so that I could see the world. And see the world I did. Or a lot of it anyway. I didn't understand it back then and I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have. In fact, it made me angry because I just wanted to stay in one place and make some lasting friendships. I hated packing all the time and I hated moving. But I was the only one complaining. My mom never complained. She just went about the business of being a military wife. Taking care of what needed taking care of. I know how hard it was for her, which makes me admire Tuna Girl so much. It's a damn hard job.

I knew when I was a teenager that I didn't have what it takes to be a military wife. It speaks volumes that I married a guy who was born in the same city that we now live in. When I met Charlie and I told my dad that I was dating a civilian, he smiled and said, "Yeah, I kinda figured you'd go that route." He understood me. He gave me the world wrapped in dress blues, formal whites, or dungarees. I didn't understand back then, but I understand and appreciate it now. He was, and always will be my hero.

Happy Birthday Daddy. I love you and I miss you.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Happy Toilet Paper!

Out the Front Door Posted by Hello

No Stone Left Unturned Posted by Hello

We've Been Hit! Posted by Hello

A Not So Stealthy Attack

A Not So Stealthy Attack

It's been a little cold around here. Yeah, yeah, I know. When we say "cold", there isn't a lot of sympathy. So just understand that I start to whine when the thermometer says 60. It's automatic; I'm polynesian. But, just so you know, it was a chilly 45 last night. For us, that's downright freezing.

I sat in the living room in my big, comfy chair; feet up, blanket over my legs, dog sleeping happily on the ottoman near my feet, and a roaring fire in the fire place. A nice vision, yes? It felt nice. Safe and warm. It was the first opportunity I had to get the knitting out since the holidays and I was actually happy to get back to it. I was working on a much overdue birthday scarf for Jon, when I heard a noise outside.

Since we'd been having storms lately, I thought maybe it was the wind blowing against the little welcome sign I had outside the house, disregarded it, and went back to my knitting. Even Shanahan didn't budge from her place; still happily chasing handsome golden retrievers in her dreams as I noted her little paws moving while she slept. I returned my attention to my sage green yarn, and even though I heard the noise a few more times, I was quite sure it was the wind, and paid it no more thought.

Caris lay on the couch reading, snuggled up with her own blanket, and Charlie was on the other side of the living room, sitting on the loveseat, reading the new Clive Cussler novel he got for Christmas. We were listening to "Bruddah IZ" on CD. The sweet sounds of "What a Wonderful World/Somewhere Over The Rainbow" were filling the room. It was peaceful and felt like home. The kind of night that makes you feel that all is right with the world. The chair I was sitting in is right next to the front window, so I could hear things that couldn't be heard by others in the room.

Five minutes or so had passed since I'd heard the first sound. Then another. And still another. Even though I was sure it was the wind, I still reached over and peeked between the slats of the window blinds to satisfy my suspicion. It was then that I saw what appeared to be lots of legs running on my front lawn. Since I was just peeking through blinds and it was dark outside, I couldn't get the whole picture. Then I noticed white paper hanging from the porch overhang. It was just starting to hit me what was going on when I heard muffled giggling and lots of "shhhhhhush"-ing. We were being T.P.ed!

When I was a kid, you toilet papered the houses of people you didn't much care for. But I've learned over the course of this new generation of parenting that you T.P. people that you like...a lot. I knew that I could stand up right at that instant, open the front door, and scare the bejeezus out of these kids. But I didn't. I just let them go at it. I recognized some of the voices as being Caris' friends. She was supposed to go out with them, but because she had a big test the next day, she opted to stay home and study. They apparantly took the opportunity to let her know they missed her. I could tell that they were doing a pretty thorough job, and after another five minutes, I quietly said to Caris; "Bunny, your friends are teepeeing the house."

She sprang up from her prone position on the couch, jumped up and down and excitedly squeeked:

Caris: Mommy, PLEASE don't stop them! Don't open the door! Don't go out there!

Me: Caris, they've been at it for about 10 minutes. I've been listening to them the whole time. If I was gonna do anything, don't you think I would have done it by now?

Caris: (smiling) You're awesome! Ok, ok, ok, be really quiet. I'm gonna go around the back of the house and kinda stand there and watch them and see if they notice me!

Me: (laughing) You're a goofball.

Caris: (giggling) I know! Oh my gosh! I'm so excited!

So, while Caris ran around the back of the house and through the side gate, Charlie and I watched through a crack in the blinds. We waited and listened, and within two minutes, we heard the unmistakeable sound of T.P.ers getting busted; screaming and laughing. "RUN!, RUN!" and "CARIS! YOU SUCK!" At that point Charlie and I knew we could open the front door. We couldn't step out too far, because they had done a really good job. We had to wade our way through it like Indiana Jones through a cob-webbed tunnel. By the time we got out there, the kids had scattered and fled laughing, with Caris standing in the driveway calling out, "Thank you you guys! I love you! Thank you!"

When she came inside, I asked her what happened when she went out there and "caught them." She said she stood behind a couple of them and watched for a minute before she said anything. They didn't realize she was there, and then she quietly whispered to her friends "Hey you guys, you missed a spot!" To which, her friend Taryn turned, screamed, and yelled at everyone to run. As they ran away, they called out; "Happy Toilet Paper!" (which they spelled out in T.P. on the front lawn). I made a comment to Charlie that I won't have a problem being happy...I don't have to clean it up. Caris does. Yet I don't think she really cared. She was still on a cloud as we all settled back into our respective places. As she snuggled back into her blanket on the couch, she had a faraway look in her eyes as she sighed; "Aren't my friends the best?" Charlie and I couldn't help but look at each other and laugh. It's amazing how kids show their affection these days.

Yeah, they're not very stealthy, but they're the best. I hope she still feels that way when she's out there picking up toilet paper. Somehow, I think she will.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Mouths of Babes

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Yesterday, on my way to pick up The Grommet from school, I was driving my regular route, passing the Catholic church and school around the corner from my house. I noticed this small school was surrounded by news vans and crews, complete with reporters and cameras. The whole nine yards.

Now, granted, I DO live in "The OC" (have I mentioned that we HATE that?). But it's not The OC that people all over the world are seeing (and believing) depicted on television. I live in Costa Mesa, California. A nice little community NEXT to Newport Beach (where they SAY "The OC" is filmed, but not really). It's a nice place not often in the news. In fact, never in the news unless it's about some show opening at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, or some such "society page" type thing. Sometimes it's a little pretentious. Sometimes a little too big. Sometimes a little too small. It all depends on who you ask. For me; a girl who grew up poor on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it's GINORMOUS! For Caris; the daughter of that now grown girl, who grew up right here in Costa Mesa, it's a speck of a place that she can't wait to leave for the "big city life" of New York City. All said, it's a nice place to raise a family, if you can keep their feet planted firmly on the ground and their heads out of the clouds.

Then again, sometimes Costa Mesa can be a little too conservative, a little too Republican (Oops! did I say that out loud?), and there are those folks who can't seem to get their heads out of their asses, let alone out of the clouds. It appears that this is one of those times. One of those times I'm less than proud to live here.

As I'm driving by that small Catholic school and church, I can't for the life of me figure out why there are news crews set up on the street side of the campus. It pisses me off a bit, because they're causing traffic to slow or jam up on an already congested main street on the way to my own kid's school (a PUBLIC high school, I might add). But oh well. Costa Mesa isn't that big. I'm gonna find out sooner or later, just by talking to my kids or their friends, since quite a few of my kids friends have attended that school in the past, OR their siblings still go there.

Just as I expected, when I pick up Bryson and his buddy from school and ask about the news crews around St. John's, I get the full story....from a 15 year old. Bry's best bud Kyle, a graduate of St. John's, told me quite candidly what the "big deal" was; a gay couple have kids attending the private, catholic elementary/jr. high school.

Me: You're kidding? That's what all that is about?

Kyle: Yeah. Some parents are making a stink about it. Even though the kids have been there since school started. The principal and lead priest okay'd it, but now that parents have found out about it, it's turned into this big deal.

Me and Bry: Oh brother.

Kyle: You know what's funny about it? If they kick those kids out because their parents are gay, then they should have kicked me, my brothers, my cousins, and a lot of our friends out because our parents are all divorced. Or they should kick Jenny out because her dad left Jenny's mom for his secretary. Or they should kick Brian out because his mom is a pro-choice doctor. All those things aren't "allowed", but no one says anything about it. But now that some gay parents come and put their kids in school, it's suddenly all over the place? It's all so stupid. What does any of this have to do with kids learning? If anything, I feel sorry for those kids because grown ups are stupid.

I think he said it all. Smart kid.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Back To The Insanity

Back To The Insanity

Yep. Just as I envisioned, the madness has returned to take its rightful place in my world. After two weeks of having kids around constantly, (did you notice how little I was posting?) the holidays are over and school has resumed. As usual, I don't wake up to the sound of my alarm going off at 6 am. I wake up to the sound of The Grommet and Caris fighting over the bathroom. Then they move to the kitchen and fight over the toaster (no, not the Hot Toddy type), then they move back to the bathroom. It's a moving argument. It travels from place to place in the house.

I sometimes lie there, in the waning darkness between night and morning light, and listen; knowing that I'll soon have to get out of my warm bed and play referee. I remember a time when that sound exasperated me. I worried that it happened because they hated each other. I fretted over it, thinking that if they fight like this now, why would it be any different when they're grown? Averie reminded me that she and Caris used to do the same thing, yet now, they enjoy each other's company and seek each other out for counsel, companionship, and fun. That was a comfort to me, and so now I just let Caris and Bryson go at it. They'll have snipey words for each other whether I'm there or not. Someone is going to get the last Pop-Tart because it would be too "nice" to split it, and I don't much feel like playing King Solomon.

We're experiencing a winter storm out here in usually sunny Cali, and the rain is pouring down. I glance over the kids as they're about walk out the door. Caris is pink and pretty in her new pea coat, but I remind her that it's probably not her best choice for a rainy day. Her smile disappears momentarily. Still, I look her up one side and down another. She's resplendant and co-ordinated; jeans, black and white striped shirt, pink chandalier earrings, black and pink heels, pink coat. I know without a doubt that all of her friends will be wearing all of their new Christmas loot as well. I wink at her and give her my umbrella, because I know she has her heart set on wearing her new coat, rain or shine. It's a fashion thing that I just should not interfere in.

Then Bryson comes to the front door wearing a hoodie sweatshirt. I tell him its too wet and cold for just a sweatshirt and my usually compliant son turns to me with a look on his face like I just asked him to cut off his right hand and retorts; "Mommy, are you serious?" Um, no son, I was just forming words with my mouth and shooting them in your direction. Do what you want with them. Apparantly, even though he's had a cold and a sinus infection over the course of his winter break, he's just "too cool" to wear a jacket. I find myself watching as he walks out the door with his sister, sharing her umbrella. No fight in me. At 15, if he doesn't know what to wear in the rain by now I say "screw it." I remind myself that this is the same child who refused to wear more than shorts and flip-flops out in the snow when we lived in the midwest. Of course he was only 6 years old then. Maybe temperature just doesn't register in him. I close the door, they turn and wave, and they're gone.

It's quiet. Very quiet. I haven't heard the sound of silence in two weeks. It really is deafening, and I don't like it, so I put on my new Norah Jones CD and I've spent the morning putting away Christmas. It's funny how long that takes. The memories that I went through when I unwrapped the things while we were decorating, are the same memories that come to mind with each ornament I tenderly re-wrap for storage. Only this time, they have another year of memories to go with them. A year of new joys, a new family, new and wonderful friendships. Special friends who will understand when I say that these are the things that fill the "gourd" that is my heart. For the first time in my life, I feel like a whole person. The missing pieces have been found and set into place. Love abounds in so many ways. I have found that I can let go, and let love. I think that I'm growing up. Finally.

Now, but a memory. But a good one. Posted by Hello

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Her First New Year Kiss

It's what Averie was looking forward to. While I talked to Aaron on the phone about his plans for NYE and telling him about mine (well, actually about Averie's), she came into my room and modeled one outfit after another. She wanted to be "perfect" because for the very first time, she has a boyfriend and is certain to get that New Year's kiss at the stroke of midnight.

I described her outfits to Aaron, with Averie smiling in the background and telling me to ask Aaron what he thought of her skirt, or her jacket. I told her that he couldn't even figure out what he was going to wear, how could he help her? Neither one of them were content with me being the in-betweener, so Averie holds out her hand and says, "Mommy, gimme the phone!" at the very same moment a very excited Aaron told me that he'd LOVE to be her fashion consultant. I giggled while I listened to them chat with each other. Back to me, back to Averie. For the next 20 or so minutes, my daughter and I shared him; reveling in every giggly moment. It was such a fun way to begin festivities.

This morning I asked her if she got her midnight kiss. She smiled and said; "Yes. And you can tell Aaron I said thank you. Jason said I looked 'hot'."

So, from Averie and me, Mahalo Ku'uipo.

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you all got your new year kisses. And stuff. :)

Haoli Makahiki Hou Posted by Hello