With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Monday, April 27, 2015

Fire Drills and First Communions

Still reeling today from my Chicago - Denver flight, which deposited a plane full of stupefied, sleep-deprived travelers at rainy DIA circa 3:45am. Though the plane ride was both turbulent and extremely late, it matters not at all in a critical review of my weekend visit to the Chicago Clavs. What pleasure to arrive at O'Hare on Friday afternoon and see my sister standing at the gate! Though she had a murderous glare in the back of her eyes after a traumatic travelingday and a two - mile run through the airport to my gate, she and I quickly embarked upon our L ride into the South side and caught up on all things education and kid-related during brief moments when we could actually be heard over the roar of the train.

When we entered John and Carol's warm abode we were greeted by smiling babies and cousins running rampant through the three stories. Mom and Dad were there, smiling as warmly as baby Tommy and offering warm hugs and words of welcome. After a grilled dinner and fantastic chat session where John told side-splitting jokes at his own expense, Mom, Dad, Karen and I departed for our hotel on the South Loop, a mere six blocks from the Comic Con convention, C2E2.

No sooner had we entered our rooms on the third floor when the fire drill went off. Karen - having the only practical mind out of the four of us - persuaded us to join the hordes of costumed hotel guests flooding down the stairwells toward the cold and rainy night. Fortunately, there was an overhang to obstruct the wintry drops, but we shivered and huddled together while the Avengers talked with the Joker, a devilish looking woman in a red cape held court with Captain America and random tourists (including ourselves) took photos of the four fire trucks and battalion of CFD firemen in battle gear.

Aden texted me to ask if it was a good time to call, and I texted back that no, the wail of the sirens and the buzzing glare of the fire alarm made it a difficult time to talk. I sent a selfie of me with Mom and Dad, grinning maniacally in the cold, super-hero infested courtyard. Aden, ever cool, texted back, "Good luck with the fire drill, and btw, cool selfie." Which we all thought was hysterically funny and made me pee my pants (just a little bit), since I had to leave the hotel room before I could use its bathroom.  When the situation mysteriously resolved, the ladders came down and the firemen left to much applause, Captain America held the door for us to enter and Thor pressed the button for the elevator.

The rest of the weekend was a beautiful blend of sun and rain, conversation and walks to juice and coffee bars, and playing with the children. Audrey's First Communion Mass was lovely and my niece looked like a princess. She reigned over her day with a combination of warm grace and 2nd grade exuberance - a perfect combination. Many thanks to John and Carol and all who traveled for a weekend to remember.

Monday, April 20, 2015

South Africa, Anyone?

So we went to the Youth Auction at church last night, intending to bid on a photography session, some 'Which wich' gift cards, and a John Elway or Dwight Schrute bobblehead. We exited the church building three hours later carrying the above items and a travel certificate for a six-night stay in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. You read me right - South Africa. As in rhinos, elephants, giraffes and Hemingway tents, as in a once-in-a-lifetime trip that costs much more than we usually spend on a whim. And before all my readers start pointing the finger at crazy / whimsical / semi-hysteric Laura, let me inform you that Rob was the one with the paddle, the one to match bids with another African-bound churchgoer, the one who replied, "No" when I asked, "Can you believe that just happened?"

I do love that about my husband - that such a dependable, responsible, long-term planner can suddenly decide that a bargain trip to Africa is an entirely reasonable purchase. I also love that it will be just the two of us on this heretofore-unplanned jaunt across the Atlantic, and that we have two years to plan and use the travel certificate.  As I told one of our church elders as we staggered out of Fellowship Hall (in an admittedly semi-hysterical fashion), "you never know what will happen when you show up at church."  Stay tuned for more details.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Visiting Jack

James, Molly and three-month-old Jack hosted Rob and me in Petaluma last weekend. We walked a trail in the bird sanctuary, dined on Mexican and Italian and steak (courtesy of James' grill), visited wineries and - of course - drank wine.  Lovely and growing Petaluma sits near the wine town of Sonoma, so a fifteen-minute jaunt to a favored winery seemed appropriate. The tasting experience, a unique and decadent feast for the palate, delighted me, though I remembered the next day that I can no longer drink wine!

James and Molly handle new parenthood with casual ease and the little guy reflects their calm and seems to possess that same calm in spades. I couldn't help but reflect on my very different, type-A style of parenting my first-born, telling tales at my own expense about the spreadsheets that I kept on her every movement, my ironclad devotion to naptime, and her stubborn refusal to ever take a bottle.  Aden, if you're reading this; I'm sorry I was not more relaxed!  But then, I wouldn't change even the tiniest thing about my daughter, so she must have survived my paranoia intact.

It struck me forcibly that Rob and I are nearly a generation older than James and Molly, that our struggles with teens and pre-teens leave babyhood receding quickly in our rear-view mirrors. How quickly that leaf turned, how remarkable that we have no strollers, carseats, high chairs or baby toys around the house. Instead we have sporting equipment and bags to hold it, back packs and electronics, board games and young adult books.  But our three kids are still our babies, and always will be.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In Love on Mount Tam

Rob and I flew into SFO last Friday morning and immediately drove out to Marin, enjoying the view of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges on a clear day. We lunched at the Marin Brewing company, admiring the open air, open water viewing and also the other couples who had miraculously found themselves free and available on a Friday morning. The chic factor was a level higher than in Denver, and even the seagulls looked sleeker and more satisfied.

After lunch we drove up the winding miles to Mount Tamalpais, almost 2000 feet above sea level, with astounding views south toward the city and bay, and wonderful vistas west over the expansive ocean. Rob and I laughed over our shared memories of getting lost on Mount Tam - wandering casually around the mountain for hours, not realizing that the sun was setting and the fog was rolling in until we tried to head back to our car.  We got a bit lost this time, as well, striking off trail to climb toward the peak and see the road, until to rise up over the crest directly under a blue and orange colored glider. The glider owner was as surprised as we.

We were so fortunate to spend some time alone together, re-exploring our roots as a couple. We met in northern California, married there and started our family. Though we should have taken advantage of many more things that the city offered - poetry readings, music and art festivals, more hiking trips to Mt. Tam - we hiked and biked our way across several counties and ate our way back!  (We recognized restaurants the most).

I was grateful to reconnect with Rob on that mountain, breathing in the salty moist air (no moisture in Colorado air!) and remembering how we started this odyssey. Fun, also, to think about where we might retire, and what fun we might have in the coming decades - both as a family and as a couple.

PS - We visited with the amazing Molly and James in Petaluma on this trip, and met our newest nephew, Jack.  Another entry on our visit to follow . . .

Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Easter Prayer

Catholic Easter Prayer

Lord, the resurrection of Your Son
has given us new life and renewed hope.
Help us to live as new people
in pursuit of the Christian ideal.
Grant us wisdom to know what we must do,
the will to want to do it,
the courage to undertake it,
the perseverance to continue to do it,
and the strength to complete it.

source:New Saint Joseph People's Prayer Book


Read more: http://www.lords-prayer-words.com/times/easter_prayers.html#ixzz3WTd118Xx

Our pastor's sermon (see Rev. Mark Feldmeir at www.st-andrew-umc.com) focused on a magical element of the Easter story; that God was working the miracle of his resurrection WHILE darkness still lay on the world. What magic might God be working in each of our lives WHILE we busily set ourselves to mundane tasks in our daily lives, weep our losses and fear our fears? A current darkness only cloaks the Resurrection for a short time; our belief in the Resurrection signifies faith in God's hidden work, that light and love will yet triumph, in our lives and in all the world.

Happy Easter to all!