Monday, July 30, 2012

Where does YES take you? Part 4, YES goes Punk!

Part of an ongoing project called, "The Yes Project", where I resolve to say YES more to opportunities that come my way.  Click here to see the other posts.
I've mentioned many times that I love my brother dearly, but I am crazy bitter that he stole all of the musical genes, the dimples, and the good teeth.   I got the leftover mutant genes, for example if the doctor says there is a one in a trillion chance that we will run into a rare complication during some routine procedure, I will be the 1 in a trillion.  In spite of him hogging the good genes, I love him.
My brother is a musician by trade, he is amazing and unbelievably talented.  My brother makes a living doing what he loves and it is inspiring.   When I was in high school my brother was in an awesome ska band that was "Huge in Utah".   Whenever I was in town I would go to their shows, and anytime they played a California show I was right there in the front row by my brother.
In February my brother called me, "Twinkiehead! (his endearing nickname), my band is doing a reunion show in Salt Lake this summer, you have to come!"  My answer was, "YES! I am there!"  I told Mr. Man that I wanted to go to this show and his response was, "I wanna go too, let's take the whole family!"  Wait..Whoa... Really? What happened to my homebody husband?
I can not tell you how much I love watching my brother play and I wanted my children to see their Rock Star Uncle in action.  We took the kids to sound check where they got a taste of what it is their Uncle does for a job.  AK was instantly at ease with the rock star lifestyle... and when the music started she couldn't help but dance
It's crazy to me that my brother is rocker by trade, because that evil "Rock Music" was banned in our house when we were growing up.  I actually missed all of the 80's music and pop culture, because of my nutty folks. Imagine the disdain  my 80's  husband felt, when he heard me mispronounce the name of his favorite band, Depeche Mode. ( I pronounced it De-Peach Mode.)
The Lead Singer and Moi
Being "with the band" while growing up has had many perks and I'm not going to lie, I totally took advantage.   I see it as payback for all the years I had to sit squished in the back of my mom's Buick with an Upright Bass hanging out the window.  
When I am at one of my brother's shows, you can find me up in the very front, dancing my heart out in front of my brother.   One time I showed up late to a show at a small club.   I squeezed my way up front and was baffled by some crazy wench who kept elbowing me out of her way.   She kept making googly eyes at my brother... *gross* but that wasn't uncommon at his shows.   Finally, after being elbowed for the fifth time, I gave her a shove and the death stare.  Then I went back to dancing and all was right with the world.   After the show I was talking to my brother and the crazy wench approached us.  My brother put his arm around her and said, "Twinkiehead, I want you to meet my girlfriend, Crazy Wench!"  I gave her a polite handshake, a "How do you do?"  and coolly said, "I believe we already met on the dancefloor."   It didn't work out between crazy wench and my brother, because nobody... and I repeat nobody gets in my dancing space at my brother's shows.

The night of the concert after dinner with some of the Ya Ya's, I left my children behind, turned off my cell phone and slipped into some plaid.  I left my 35 year old motherly self at the door, and was back to being my high school self, except this time I was much happier.  
I danced my heart out that night and sang along with the band.  Our dear friends the Irish's from LA showed up and that was the best surprise.  I loved being able to share this part of my life with them.  We had a blast and I was reminded what saying Yes does for me.   For one night, I was Wendy... The Band's Little Sister,  not mom, and I was reminded just how much I love ska music, live bands, and especially dancing.   Even if I'm terrible at it... because of course... my brother hogged the dancing gene too.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mission: To Throw an Army Party

Mr. Boy has wanted an army themed birthday party all year long and would talk about elaborate plans, such as a flyover by the Stealth and the Blue Angels.   Then when it came time for invitations to go out, he said, "No wait! I want an Angry Birds Party!" I scoured the Internet but there are only so many ways to recreate a game like Angry Birds and all the products are licensed which means everything costs a small fortune.  Finally, I sat Mr. Boy down and made a case for the army party, I should have been an attorney because I won him over.
It was the easiest party I've ever done!. Every guest had to "enlist" when they arrived, and was handed a goody bag with their "gear". They were advised to put on their helmet and binoculars. The kids soldiers got to work making paper airplanes.
Then we played pin the medal on the soldier, kind of like pin the tail on the donkey, which I thought they would hate but they loved it.  Mr. Boy and I made this sweet soldier out of camo duct tape.
The boys were ready for their mission! A parachuter went down somewhere behind our house and the boys had to find it. They had to look for clues, such as the landing site and parachute pieces.
We live in the best place for an Army Party... the hillside was the perfect place for our mission.  Oh man, I love this house. 
Oh look they found the missing soldier! I had no idea Baby Roller Hand was in the army. Nor did I realize she was a parachuter.  Baby Roller Hand has such diverse talents.  
After completing a successful mission, the soldiers were rewarded with Army issued soda and camo cupcakes.
Mr. Boy and I had the best time making these camo cupcakes. It's just different colored batter glopped into a pan.

Thank you Pinterest for making me look like such a champ!
They turned out so much better than last years X rated Cake Wreck, Mr. Boy was pretty proud of us.
I bought a fancy frosting tool, but it still looks like a child frosted it.  Baking and Cake Decorating are not where my talents lie. 

The boys then got some R&R time to play on the waterslide and in the pool.   Zoey thinks she is a 7 year old boy and joined the kids on every activity. 
This party was so crazy easy and by far one of the best kid parties I have thrown to date.  While the kids swam, I played lifeguard and Mr. Man cleaned up.  My favorite was the loot bags, which were generously provided by the local US Army Recruiting Office.   I provided the helmets and the binoculars and an MRE (a candy bar) and they gave us tons of other loot. 
In exchange for the swag, I just had to promise to enlist Mr. Boy on his 18th birthday... Fair trade.. Oui?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dear Mom, Happy Birthday.

Dear Mom, 

Today is your birthday and I would give my right arm, both my legs and my spleen to be spending today with you.   I miss you so much and it's hard to believe you aren't here anymore.   

You drove me crazy when you were alive many times and I just wish I could hear you give me a hard time about my lack of lipstick and makeup one more time.  Last year on your birthday, I was very much in the dark rooms of grief and I'm happy to say that this morning I woke up with a smile on my face thinking about how today was your birthday.  I slapped on some of your bright pink lipstick and took AK out shopping where we both got new clothes and had a lovely lunch together.  I tried to soak up all the sweet little girlishness and I knew this would be exactly how you would want me to spend the day in your honor. 

I called Dad to check in on him.  He is in the midst of  preparing to move to Tennessee in the next month and really isn't focused on anything else.  He is crazy happy in his newlywed bliss and can't really begin to relate to the grief I feel today.  His energy and focus is on his new life and it is painful.  I hung up the phone and cried, regretting that I even called him at all.  So, I called Mr. Man who encouraged me to write, he knows there is such solace in writing for me.  

This past year, the days I miss you the most... are the days where I am navigating the school system and miss your teacher insight.  I loved that you had a successful career as a teacher, but I wish I had your advice as I try and figure out what is the right thing to do in educating my children.  If there has been one thing that has been a constant this year, it is the overwhelming feeling that I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to these kids.   I know how to have fun, to take them on adventures, but when it comes to their educational needs or how to raise them right to be good people... I'm lost.   I've learned I'm not the only one and to trust my instincts.  But there are some days where I just want to raise my hand and wait for someone to call on me and say, "Um, I have a question.... about these kids of mine.... am I doing it right so far?"  

Mom, you would be so furious with me.  Mr. Boy got the equivalent of a D in reading this year.  Yes... Mr. Boy, I know.. it's crazy right?   Since you were a reading specialist for a million years, I can just hear you yelling, "Wendy Kay Mary Katherine Kate Mary Margaret!  How is MY grandson failing reading?!  Not on my watch!"   Well, here's the thing... you aren't here and I'm not sure how to work this out.  He reads ALL THE TIME, but refuses to take the quizzes at school.  In fact, he would just turn it over and draw on the back.   Don't fret, I got him a tutor and she tested him, he is reading at grade level just fine.  He just really didn't try very hard in school.  But again, these are the things I wish you were here for.  How am I ever going to get him into college?

I have some regrets about your last few weeks, I'm trying to work through them.   Every time I feel guilty about them I can hear your voice, "Wendy, stop, it doesn't matter and it's not worth dwelling on."   I am grateful for your voice that often enters my thoughts, whether it's my subconscious or really your voice it doesn't matter, I'm grateful for it.  

Mom, I miss you and love you.  You will always be in my heart and if you ever felt like you didn't know what you were doing when you raised us... You did a fine job... well done.  


Monday, July 09, 2012

Happy Ninth Birthday, Mr. Boy

Dearest Mr. Boy,
On the eve of your 9th birthday, I sit to write you a note. What a year this has been, you have changed so much this year.  You are 9 going on 15, and seem so grown up.

School was rough for you this year, and I wish I could rewind the clock and do this school year over. I didn't make the best choices when it came to figuring out how to handle problems. Can I tell you a secret? As the oldest. child you get the short end of the stick sometimes. I'm still trying to figure this parenting gig out. In all honesty I have no idea what I'm doing. I've never done this before and as the first kid, you are my guinea pig. I'm sorry for the mistakes I've made and am yet to make.

This year you have had a hard time trying to figure out playground politics. You want to be friends and liked by everyone, but not everyone seems to like each other. It's been tough to navigate, but you have tried to be kind to everyone. Mr. Boy, I want you to remember this... Be nice. The nice guy doesn't always win, life is super unfair that way. But the nice guy always comes out with his head held high and a clean conscious. That is something you can't put a price tag on.

Right now you are so headstrong and you think you know better than me. Some days I get so frustrated because I feel like everything is a fight. I love you and I don't want to fight with you. However, the tenacity that you use to get your way gives me great hope for your future. When you put your mind to something, you will not stop until the outcome you desire is achieved. I hope that carries into your academics and your career.

 We lost our beloved dogs Sandy & Skoopi this year and you took it so very hard.  You would sit and watch cartoons on the floor with a dog on each side of you.  It kills me to see you still reach over to pet a dog that is not there.  Zoey has been a godsend and she totally bonded to you, but you still feel the void of having gone from two dogs to one.  It's not fair, Mr. Boy, you lost your Nana, and your dogs all in one year.  That is too much grief for an 8 year old. There are many nights when your grief bubbles to the surface and that is okay.  Yes, they were just dogs, but they were also your constant companions.  I miss them too. 
Mr. Boy, you are destined for great things. I just hope I can raise you right so you can realize your potential. When you were in Kindergarten at the little Jesus-lovin school that we loved so much, your teacher sat me down and told me, "Mademoiselle, this boy is a born leader.  I have no doubt that he will be an important person in history. However, he is going to lead people to greatness or lead people to evil, it's up to us to help him be good." Her words have stuck with me ever since.  I hope I can help you achieve greatness, and if you become President of the United States, you better invite me to the White House Easter Egg Hunt.

Your grades were terrible this year, it wasn't your best academic year.  We can blame the teacher or some of the challenges at home, but really you and I both know that you just didn't really give it your all.  You are wicked smart, and soak up knowledge like a sponge.  You are fascinated with Egypt, The Titanic, Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, World War II and any other war involving uniforms and blood.   Unfortunately none of those topics came up in your 3rd grade curriculum, so we learned about it on our own, which I loved every single minute of it.   Mr. Boy, you have to try your hardest in school, it's important and I hope you realize that now.

When you asked, "Why are grades so important, anyway?"  we told you all about getting good grades so that you can go to a good university.   You were completely blown away by the idea that you get to live with your best friends in an apartment while you go to school without mom and dad.  This sounds like nirvana to you and Mr. Boy... college is awesome! It's a privilege you are going to have to earn, and since we have become "crazy obsessed with the right answers on homework"  you are learning the important lesson, "It's always faster to do things right the first time." Yes, even your homework. 

Somewhere over the course of the year, xBox became huge in our house, particularly the game of Halo.  You are obsessed with it.  We all started playing as a family and joked that "The family that slays together, stays together."  Then your skills far surpassed mine and now I'm not invited to play with you and dad anymore.   I love that you have something to share with your dad, he is a super involved father, and you have no idea how lucky you are to have a dad like that in your life. 
You and AK are the best of friends and biggest enemies.   I try to keep reminding myself that I had a love/hate relationship with my brothers and now my oldest brother and I are the dearest of friends.  A few days ago we were on an outing and a little boy was being selfish with some toys that AK wanted to play with.  You were all tough and tried to stand up for your sister and then for two days you talked about that "Dumb stupid boy at the park."   It gave me hope that you will be there for your sister. 

As playground politics were becoming more tense this year, a couple of the parents got together and sat a few of the kids down.   We formed a secret gang and you guys are responsible for having each other's backs.  I can't imagine what Jr. High and High School are going to be like and what schools you will attend, but I hope you can have this alliance of good friends to help you navigate the world.  There is safety in numbers, remember that, and you can never have enough good friends. 

Mr. Boy, you are one lucky boy.   We live in the most amazing time, everyone walks around with phones that act as computers!  I can't imagine what the world will be like in 20 years.  You have such a zest for life and I love being with you.   I hope that we can have many adventures in the future and that I can take you to see the pyramids in Egypt and try and hunt down Nessie in Scotland.   I love you.