Happy Anniversary! (Leaving Berkeley, Blog #1)

Today is our wedding anniversary. I told Andy earlier today that this will go down in history as the worst anniversary ever, but he disagreed. How could it be the worst anniversary ever, he asked, when Prince Charming is coming to the last-minute rescue of his sinus-infected princess?

Andy has been gone for three very long weeks. Weeks during which:

Aaron has started daycare and not dealt incredibly well with the change.

Work crews have been at our house non-stop to prep us for the move.

I have come down with a terrible sinus infection for which my doctor refuses to prescribe an antibiotic until at least Monday.

We only have two useable rooms on the main level of our home, neither of which are the rooms the kids actually play in.

All the belongings usually housed in the non-useable rooms are crammed into the useable rooms, which means we are tripping over everything, everywhere, all the time.

I haven’t been able to watch a single baseball game.

And the kids’ school is closed today and it’s raining and I’m sick.

So today, facing a looonnnggg weekend of being crammed into about 200 square feet with an incredibly needy four-year-old, a monkey of a one-year-old, a whiny German Shepard, and approximately five guys who are kindly and patiently stepping over Legos, unwrapping Aaron when he gets into the tape, and dealing with too-long stares from Rachel in addition to her “whys?”, perhaps it was no surprise that I texted Andy, “Can’t you come home today? Please?”

After a lot of back and forth and working out details, he agreed and, as I type, is waiting to board the next flight to Oakland. Prince Charming indeed.

To kill time earlier today, in our five-bedroom-turned-studio home, Rachel and I looked through wedding photos. Collin, of course, featured prominently.

“Where are Aaron and me?”, she asked. (we’re working on grammar, I promise).

“Well, you weren’t there yet because Mommy and Daddy weren’t married yet.”

Blank stare. She cannot fathom a world without her in it.

A few things came to me as we scrolled through the wedding pictures that I’ve yet to put into a fancy album:

1)   Our wedding photographer did a horrible job.

2)   There was a lot of love in that room.

Looking at the faces of the 150 to 200ish people present, I realized that some of them have gotten married, at least one has passed away, and approximately 12 or more babies have been born. The boys who hung out in the choir room instead of dancing are now off to college, and the ones playing ball in the grassy area by the church are now taller than me. One of those kids is in a shelter; another was a National Merit Scholar.

Some of the faces belong to people I thought I’d always see on a bi-weekly basis, if not more, and yet I haven’t seen them in months or even years.

On our first date, one of the first questions Andy and I asked each other was, “Would you ever leave Berkeley?” We both answered an emphatic “no.” Too perfect, too beautiful, too “bubbly” to leave. Even though I thought our first date was pretty terrible, that answer gave me hope.

And yet… here we are. Packing up, moving out. Vetting agents and making spreadsheets. It happens. But still it took me by surprise. Five years. Three kids. A first home. Multiple nephews. One kid in college, another almost off to kindergarten. Three dogs became one. One lawyer turned writer, and one baseball coach turned non-profit executive.

No wonder we’re so tired.

One of our friends came to look at our house when we first bought it. “A definite fixer-upper! Good thing you guys are young. Next time, you won’t buy a fixer, I promise.”

I laughed. “There won’t be a next time! You know us… we’re stay-put kind of people.”

He just smiled in that annoying way people who are older than you sometimes do.

A lot changes in five years.






My Fearless Voice?

I recently joined up with a wonderful group of women who are charged with “fearlessly expanding the feminine voice in our churches, communities, and culture.” And oh, how they do! Strong, fearless voices reach out through the blogosphere,* books, social media, and prayers, to put the hopes, dreams, joys, and sorrows of women into words. It is an honor to be among them.

But I wonder.

How “fearless” is my voice? How often do I let fear of divergent views of friends and family sway or swallow my words? And this even though I know I will be loved by my friends and family even when disagreements arise? How often do I decide to push away the nagging, burning words of personal experiences because they may expose too much of my life, with its successes and failures, its ups and downs?

The answer is far too often. Will that be any different after I write this post? Will fearlessly admitting to my fearfulness allow me to say it all, do it all, expose it all? I doubt it.

But the more I am exposed to the strength of others around me, and the more I see them write of the hard things of life, the more I am strengthened and emboldened to do the same. We all need community, no matter our stage or station in life.

I am fortunate enough to have a community through this blog as well. Readers are in the 4-digits, and hopefully there will be more to come. So right now I’m reaching out to this community and asking for help. To keep me from flaking on my commitment to be a “fearless” voice, I have a favor to ask: if you read something here or elsewhere by me that you disagree with, would you please let me know? Bring it up in the comment section, on Facebook, on Twitter, or, if you’re family, anywhere other than the dinner table, instead of pretending the disagreement doesn’t exist? And then tell me that’s it’s okay for us to agree to disagree. That we’re still in this community together anyway. And if you see something you like, let me know that, too.

Fear comes from the unknown. So while it’s up to me to overcome hangups and obsessions, I do hope you might help me out a little bit along the way.

(*See the blogroll to the right for links.)

Why I Love Social Media and Think It’s a Really Good Thing (Usually)

I used to be a fairly hardcore computer geek. And while I’m no longer immersed in the computer-geek subculture, I’m still a good person to call if something goes wrong with your computer.

Now instead of immersion in geek stuff, I do the social media/blog stuff. I currently have six Facebook pages (speaking of which, won’t you please “like” my Facebook page? It would mean a lot to me!); four websites that I own and operate on a regular basis; one website that I work on with some other women; no fewer than 10 email accounts, most of which I actually use; two Twitter pages that I use sparingly; and one Pinterest account that I use to keep track of remodeling ideas. I don’t have an Instagram account because I don’t have an iPhone. There are other social media venues I don’t use, but you know, I am almost 35 and have three kids as well as paying work on occasion, and there’s only so much I can do.

I absolutely love this stuff, and, thankfully, the only time it distracts me from family, clients, or chores is first thing in the morning while I drink coffee (and that has more to do with the coffee), and maybe twice per week if there’s something new/exciting/difficult I’m working on. I’m really lucky that I type fast, do my thinking in the rocking chair, and don’t have an addictive personality. I realize, however, that many people *do* have addictive personalities, and that’s why the title of this post parenthetically includes the word “usually.”

Why do I love these things? I love writing blogs because I’m a writer and it’s fun. I love the social media part because rather than making me feel disconnected from “real” people the way so many others complain about, it actually brings me closer to “real” people. And since I — and most of my friends — are in a time of life when social interaction is limited by nap time and sick kids, this closeness is vitally important.

Old Friends Stay Friends

One of the greatest parts of Facebook is that old friends stay friends and, in some instances, become even closer friends than they were before.

Most of my friends live elsewhere and we can’t get together for a play date or coffee. Some of my friends have children (and/or spouses) I have never met. By seeing the status updates of these friends, the wedding photos, birth- and birthday photos, and just the everyday photos of their lives, I am able to stay close to them in a way I otherwise couldn’t. When I see these friends in person, I don’t feel like we need to spend the first two hours of our time together playing catch-up. I know about the recitals, the plays, the lost teeth and potty-training, the sleepless nights, and the new house.

Long-Distance Family Stays Close

The other greatest part of Facebook is that I can keep up with long-distance family. Just like with the long-distance friends referenced above, I can keep in the loop with my growing nieces, nephews, cousins, and others.

Acquaintances Become Friends

In a real-life, face-to-face relationship, people seldom bust out all their family photos, their politics, religion, and favorite TV shows and movies. It can take years to get to know a person on a deep level, because real-time interaction just doesn’t lend itself to “full” disclosure. And it probably shouldn’t. You can’t just meet someone for the first time and tell them all about your dad’s health problems, your child’s first day of preschool, or your husband’s new job. While some of these things certainly come up organically, to talk about these sorts of topics in large quantities would be one-sided and selfish, and who wants that?

But you know how you friend people on social media sites just because you sort of know them, but not really? When that happens, you see what pages they “like.” Which news stories they share. You can see what they have listed under “religion” and “politics.” You see how they interact with their spouses and children, what they look like without makeup, what they do on a daily basis, and what’s important to them. In seeing this, you start feeling like you know these acquaintances much better than you did before. Almost like…. a friend.

My time in law school is a good example of this. We were all busy, to say the least, and since I was a single parent and working part-time, I had very little social interaction with more than a handful of peers. So I became friends with people in that we knew and liked each other, but that was about it. Now that we’re “friends” on Facebook, we’ve gotten to know each other in a way that the hectic pace of law school would never have allowed. And this carries over to in-person interactions as well. When I see these acquaintances-turned-friends in real life, I (and they) feel like we truly are friends.

Current Local Friends Become Better Friends

The same logic from above applies here. I will admit, however, that there are some odd moments, such as when after a lengthy back-and-forth over the internet, or an especially personal blog post, you see each other in person and no one knows whether to reference the screen-based interaction or not (FWIW, I think it’s best to just mention it right away and get the “should I or shouldn’t I?” over with.) Or when you see a photo of someone in their jammies and slippers then see them in their Sunday best at church. Or, in the case of blogs, when you learn things about people that are deeply personal that may have taken years of friendship to uncover, if at all.

But because you do uncover these things so quickly, you become closer faster, and that’s usually a good thing.

As long as these outlets aren’t used irresponsibly and the bonds created carry over into real-life relationships, the screen time is well worth it. (IMHO : ))

Why We Cancelled Mother’s Day

Now that Mother’s Day has come and gone, my household can finally celebrate it.

(The official) Mother’s Day dawned bright and early in our house and quickly became a mad scramble to get 6 people out the door for brunch. Mad scramble + emotional overload (see below) caused me to have a migraine. Migraine + necessity of being present at my own brunch caused me to take slightly more migraine medicine than normal, which worked just a teensy bit too well: Andy asked me at one point if he should wear jeans or pants; I believe my response was “shorts.” So the baby and I stayed home while everyone else went to brunch.

I think this alone suffices to explain why we decided not to celebrate, so I will leave out the parts about tetherball injuries, last-minute school projects, tantruming 3-year-olds, missing church, and arguments over the perfect family photo. But really, this is all pretty normal stuff. I think the real reason that Mother’s Day weekend was a bust was the even heavier than normal emotional load that came with it this year.

On Friday I wrote a piece about my son, Jeremy. I wasn’t sure if I would actually post it or not, but I knew I had to write it. As my husband wisely said, “writing it is at least 50% of the importance.” But then I decided, after much prayer, to actually post what I had written. The outpouring of love and support in response was phenomenal. With this outpouring, my entire world shifted: it became larger, better, less lonely than it was before. This is a good thing, of course, but sometimes even good emotions can be… exhausting.

But time moves on, emotional tides recede, and mothers must be celebrated. So, this Sunday, we will try a redo. I expect presents, quiet time, and coffee. These things will, of course, have to be sandwiched between tuxedo shopping for prom and getting six people out the door for church, but I am so, so excited to do those things in a world with less sadness, less pain, and much, much more love.

2013.5 Mother's Day Take 2

2013.5 Mother's Day

My lovely babies and I just couldn’t get it quite right. But they are still cute. : )