Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas memories

Christmas always brings back so many memories.

I remember the days when Bill and I were without kids and used to go CRAZY at Christmas buying each other anything we wanted. We had all of this money (really not much, but felt like a lot when you're 22) and no one else to buy for but ourselves and a few relatives. We couldn't wait to open the presents on Christmas Day so we usually ended up giving one gift a day starting the first two weeks before Christmas.

As I was putting out the presents under the tree this year, I was telling the boys a story about when I was around 5 and wanted to open one particular present so badly I cried and cried and cried until my Mom let me open it. Looking back now I can distinctly remember how sweet and sad my Mom was for me that I was so unhappy about not getting to open it that she just couldn't stand it and had to let me open it. She reasoned with me that if I opened it early I wouldn't have a big present to open on Christmas Day but I didn't care. And this was just like Lucas. He was so eager to open all of his presents he didn't care about waiting. By the way, I still remember that present. It was a tea set. And worth opening early.

Each year we put our ornaments on the tree and tell our kids where each one came from. And as we add more, they recall year after year where we got those ornaments and what they mean to them. There is just something so magical about this day. There are sad memories too that I try not to dwell on. Because even in all of the sadness there were sweet moments that helped us get through what can sometimes be a difficult time of year for a lot of people. 3 years later, it's a hard holiday to manage when I miss my Mom so much. Yesterday I was thinking I needed to call her to wish her a Merry Christmas. Instead I just dreamed about her all night.

Merry Christmas to my Mom, who always made Christmas the merriest time of year no matter what was going on. And I'll follow in her footsteps.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

We need a new bed.

Bill and I have had the same bed for the last 11 years.

When we first got married and were living in Maryland, we discovered an IKEA within an hour's drive from our first home. Like every poor newlywed couple, we furnished our home with the wonderfully inexpensive, infuriatingly constructed Eurocrap. It only took us 10 days to assemble our new dining room table, sofa and bed - the only 3 items in our entire house, besides splurging on a $500 TV which at the time seemed really expensive.

At 22 years old, when all of our extra money seemed better spent on clothing, movies, eating out at restaurants and adventuring, we convinced ourselves the full-size bed would do just fine (because it was the cheapest). And the model sans headboard and boxspring was perfectly comfortable (because it was the cheapest). And the natural wood "finish" was actually prettier than the darker wood (because it was the cheapest).

Over the next 11 years, we moved 5 times from the east coast to Germany, then west coast, desert, back to east coast and now on the west coast again. Our little full-size bed has made the trip with us and managed to hold itself together even missing support slats and carrying more weight each year (ahem... 3 pregnancies here, people... I can't speak for Bill on this one...). Needless to say, it has seen its fair share of wear and tear and surprisingly has survived pretty well for a cheap little bed.

Once we moved to CA this last time, we discussed buying a new bed, and as of right now, our cheap asses still haven't bought one. Yet again, we've convinced ourselves we can use the money for better things, like 3 growing boys, vacations and trips, 3 hungry boys, birthdays and holidays, and did I mention 3 growing and hungry boys?

Last night I spent most of the night with a mustached-man that felt like he was running a one thousand degree temperature who I think may possibly have the HEAVIEST leg of any person alive all up in my business while I tried to sleep. Every time I tried to move, that leg of lead was holding me down and scalding my skin with its insane warmth. So when I woke up this morning, I decided all I want for Christmas this year is a bed.

A real grown up bed. A Queen size bed. That isn't missing pieces. That has two different areas on the bed for two grown people to sleep without touching, if they don't want to.

Sure I'll miss our little mini-bed that has been with us through so much life. It may be a little bittersweet letting go of those memories... and all that money. But better the bed than murdering my husband in his sleep.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The REAL Beezus and Ramona

If you're a child of the 80s, you've read all of the Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary or at least heard of them. And you've probably seen the trailer for the new Ramona and Beezus movie... and then promptly vomited in your mouth. (I won't link to it here, so google it if you haven't watched it yet. Also, "A little sister goes a long way" as the tagline? WTF does that mean?)

If you did in fact see the trailer for the movie, you can quickly tell that Hollywood managed again to take a beautiful, real story and turn it into crap by packaging it in a perfect, picturesque pile of baloney.
I haven't read the books since I was young, but now I want to go find all of those weird colored hardbacks that smell like old paper and glue and bury my tears in them. Any fan of a great book can't help but be excited about the prospect of seeing characters you envision in your mind come to life. But then it's always a crapshoot if the producers are going to find the right director and cast to make it happen the right way. It seems of late, they screw it up more than they do it right. Harry Potter is the only series that comes to mind that did it right, even if it's not perfect for everyone. Still, it captured the magic of the wizarding world in an enrapturing way.

But the Ramona books are more about capturing the essence of childhood and growing up - being awkward, inappropriate, ugly and hating your sister. Not chasing after boys, wearing makeup and annoying your sister only to later hear her say "Oh Ramona, even though you painted on the wall, I still love you and appreciate your individualism. Sorry I ever took you for granted!" Smile. Pose. Hug. Get the boy at the end.

In this case, Hollywood should've just left it alone. I won't watch the movie. I know what the real Beezus and Ramona look and act like. See below.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Total eclipse of the heart

It's been a few weeks since Eclipse came out and poor Bill didn't get to see it until last night. I allowed him to drag me there... okay, okay I wanted to see it too.

I've read the first two books and half of Eclipse, but it didn't take a literary genius to figure out where she was going with the rest of the book and the series, so the movie didn't surprise me. I've ranted enough about how I think Stephanie Meyer is a hack writer but still manages to not take away from enjoying the story. I still enjoy her characters even though it is a ridiculous love triangle. Pretty much any book/movie with vampires is watchable and enjoyable for me.

I enjoyed the movie despite the things that irritated me as a writer, and the weird vampire shattering. It was interesting and fun and creepy in all of the right ways. The stand-out for me was Taylor Lautner, though. I think he does a great job of coming off as passionate, tortured, brooding and cheeky. Plus, those dimples are adorable. 

What I do wonder is why there are so many people obsessed with it. I can see the allure of a vampire loving an ordinary girl and doing anything for her - and then tossing in a hot werewolf doesn't hurt things. That would certainly appeal to a younger group of girls who have never experienced love. Bill thinks a lot of women get wrapped up in the fantasy because many of them haven't read a lot of fantasy novels and this one has mythical creatures and love. So how does that obsession take hold for so many people? Not just girls and women.

For those of you that are OBSESSED... (and you know who you are...ahem...liz, jenn, marianne, mary...etc...) please tell me why you love it so much. I would love to know how you connect to the story on a personal level.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A small thing

Recently, someone close to me went to prison.

Of course there's a part of me that realizes he deserves some kind of punishment for his crime, but because I care about him, I wish it didn't have to be this way.

It's so easy for probably most of us to think "out of sight, out of mind" when it comes to prisoners. I mean, certainly, if they have wronged another human being or broken a law, there is a price to pay.

Still, we're talking about a human being, locked away in confinement with very few rights if any, day after day after day. Despite it being justified in many ways, I still feel so very sorry for him. It's painful and sad to imagine what his days must be like, being away from his family with nothing to do but think about what he did wrong.

I would hope that because of this time, it would make him think twice about every decision he makes in the future after he gets out. But will it really? Will it "cure" the disease that took him down this path in the first place? Probably not. And that for me is where prison feels like it fails. It seems most of the time it's just a matter of alienating criminals from society, but doesn't often take steps to help guide those people in the right direction after they're released so they don't end up back there again.

I don't think every person in prison is an evil person. I bet a lot are people who are dealing with a lot more issues and ended up making bad decisions based on feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and despair. Feelings we've all felt, but have been better equipped to deal with than these individuals, for whatever combination of reasons and circumstances.

So why am I writing this? Without sounding like I in any way defend criminal behavior, I simply care about this person and think about him a lot. What can I do to help him? Probably not much. But I decided today to write him a letter as often as I can. I haven't decided yet what to write about. Without judging, giving advice or making him feel worse by telling him things he's missing out on, I just want to reach out to him so he knows that even though he may feel alone in there, there are people out here besides his mom, sister and brother who want him to have a good life.

Until he gets his freedom back, I hope I can remind him of that and help him through this in this small way.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Just wait until the honeymoon is over

Bill and I have been married now for almost 11 years, and dated 3 1/2 years before we got hitched.

August 21, 1999 - we both had just turned 22 and there were a lot of people who thought we were too young. Maybe we were, but one thing was for sure - we loved each other and knew without a doubt that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Bill had joined the army and was going to be traveling the world, and neither of us wanted him to be doing it alone. We didn't have a lot of money to spend on fancy rings. Bill paid $35 for an opal ring at a pawn shop, and we had picked out 50 matching wedding bands from James Avery the first year we were dating. There's a Hebrew inscription that reads "Whither thou goest, I will follow", and the sentiment has always rang true for us as we've moved from Oklahoma to Washington DC to Germany to California to Arizona to Florida and now back to California. Always together.

When we first got married, people used to say things to us like, "Just wait until the honeymoon is over." or "Wait until you've been married 5 years...7 years... 10 years...." - possibly assuming after years together we'd realize how hard it is and expect failure? I don't know what their intentions were but it always infuriated me. At what point will it stop? After we've been married 50 years, will there be someone there to say, "Wait until you've been married 55 years!"

I always look to Bill's grandparents who have been married for over 60 years as a gauge for a successful marriage. The #1 thing I notice when I'm around them is that they genuinely enjoy each other's company.

We are by no means experts on marriage. And our marriage like all has not been perfect. But after 14 years together, believe it or not, I still like hanging out with Bill. That could all change 50 years from now but I don't think so. If we make it 60 years, I'll request an epitaph that reads "Here lies Bill and Anna. They never got sick of each other. So there."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What were we thinking?

Last night after finishing up a work project, immediately followed by organizing the walk-in closet of our new home, putting away laundry and finally situating our bedroom so it feels more livable, I made one last walk-through of the house picking up toys and random pieces of food from the floor while everyone was tucked away sound asleep in their beds.

And yes, I absolutely am aware that was a ridiculously long run-on sentence - a direct reflection of my life these days. After moving 2400 miles across the country from one coast to the next, unpacking belongings and making our new house a home, while working part-time, my life is one big run-on.

So after all that, I bumped into my brother-in-law Winston in the kitchen and asked, "After living with us now for a year, do you still want kids?" His answer... "I would never have them so close together. But I think I'm good with just one." And I said, "What were we thinking?"

There are MANY moments in my life that I think Bill and I were 100% crazy out of our minds STUPID for thinking we could take on 3 kids only 2 years apart, all the while wondering if we want to have another. (no plans! don't get excited, people) Sometimes I am SO exhausted and just need a real break from it all. The whining, yelling, working, cleaning... you get the picture.

But then this morning, I found myself sitting on the couch with a Lucas tucked under my arm, an Ash nestled in my lap, and a Holden seated to my left with his leg touching mine, and I listened to them talking and giggling while playing Little Big Planet. Instantly a wave of assurance rushed over me - I'm in the right place, exactly where I should be, with my little munchkins (evil minions) where they belong.

Sure the day to day battles wear me down and I'm not immune to motherly insecurities, but little moments make it all worthwhile. I wouldn't change anything about my life. I honestly enjoy every single moment of it. Even scraping banana off of the floor.

What, you don't believe me?