Category Archives: Parenting

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Once upon a time, I was fearful of feminism. I saw women marching for equal rights and believed they were a threat to the traditionalism to which  I subscribed. I saw anger. I saw bra-burning. I saw man-hating.  I saw white women looking out for themselves at the expense of women of color. And I saw pro-choice activism .

Meanwhile, internally I felt frustrated, unheard, condescended to, disregarded. I was trapped in between a place of what I perceived to be two separate sets of values: Conservative traditional life vs . Feminism.
I wanted to be bold, to speak out, to stand up for myself, but I didn’t want to be associated with “them” because I believed “they” rejected the life I chose: one of faith, marriage and motherhood.
I got called a feminist in high school and I bristled at the term.

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This cartoon was written about me. It should give a pretty clear indication of how  I was perceived.  I was no wilting violet . I was outspoken and in my gut I knew something wasn’t right about the way the world worked. However, I believed and still believe that motherhood is a high and sacred calling. I just didn’t know how to reconcile these two parts of me .
I confess, I haven’t always been a great ally of women. I’ve preferred friendships with men (way less complicated), rejected candidates who supported “women’s rights” as being unsupportive of MY choices as a woman, all the while longing for validation of my brain, my capabilities, my offerings, my potential.

A couple months ago I had lunch with my lovely friend Holly  and we discussed this topic. She told me that when she had gone back to school a few years ago, she got recruited by the feminist club (group?) she had told them, “but I’m not a feminist.”

What she found was a group of women supporting other women from all facets of life, with varying belief systems, running the gamut from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Holly looked at me and said, “I didn’t like it either, but the truth is, you’re a feminist.”

I nearly choked on my drink.

It’s funny, God has been doing some pretty unexpected things in my life over the past few years. He’s brought some amazing women into my life. He’s healed old wounds from difficult friendships and interactions with other women. He’s brought an amazing therapist my way who celebrates and encourages both sides of me: the woman who advocates for herself and others and the woman of faith and tradition. She’s teaching me how those parts of me can thrive together, one doesn’t have to be sacrificed for the sake of the other.

This is freeing me up to be supportive of other women in a new way.  Each one of us has unique gifts, talents, abilities, values and dreams. That’s what brings color and vibrancy  to this world.

I’m proud to be a woman. It took me nearly 45 years to get to the point of being able to say that. I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my mother, my sisters, my daughters, my friends. I love and admire their strength, their softness, their wisdom, their nurture, their intelligence, their humor, and their advocacy for others.

I’m grateful to the women who have forged the path for me, whether or not  I agree with all of their ideologies or methods.

So here’s to strong women:

May we know them

May we be them

May we raise them

 

 

 

Tripping Over Family Tree Roots

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The other day on my way home from walking Parker to school, I got distracted by a passing baby in a stroller and tripped over this tree root. I knew the root was there, as I walk past it (around it if I’m paying attention) every day. Twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.

It’s not a normal root. This root has evil intentions. It’s somehow sticking out and up at an angle, causing it to be 6-8 inches into the sidewalk and 3-4 inches off the ground. This root has stopped serving any purpose to the tree and now simply lies in wait for victims.

This time the root got me pretty good. I stubbed my toe, flew forward a couple feet, but managed to keep my balance by making some wonky maneuver that left my back feeling pretty tweaked.

I thought to myself, “Someone should do something about that.”

I decided it should be the city, but when I called, no one answered the phone.  I was annoyed that duties were being shirked.

The next day as I walked past the root, I glanced over at it and felt a twinge in my lower back. It was a reminder that I needed to do something about it.

I didn’t.

A few days after that, my lower back was still in pain, and since I had been compensating for a sore back, my neck was beginning to hurt. My hips were beginning to hurt. I was an achy mess.

Every time I walked past the root, I was more irritated. I didn’t plant the tree. This sidewalk is walked by many every day, and no one had done anything about it. Someone could get hurt. Someone DID get hurt! (Me)

I called the city. The first woman I spoke with said I needed to talk to the lady who would decide whose responsibility the tree root was. Then she would determine who I needed to talk to about getting the root removed. She transferred me to the planning department, but alas that woman was out of the office for the president’s day weekend and wouldn’t be back in the office until Tuesday.

I sat and pondered my options. The reality was, I could sit and try to get someone to take accountability for the root, but there was a pretty good chance that since the city expects us to keep those trees alive by watering them, they would expect us to maintain them in other ways, such as malicious root growth.

After all, even though the tree grew on the street side of the sidewalk, it was parallel to my back yard.

If someone gets hurt because of something I know has the potential to cause injury, it doesn’t really matter who’s responsible for the root. I will have neglected to do what I could have done to prevent it. And as time goes on, as the tree grows larger and older, that root is going to become more of a liability.

Such is the case with our family trees and family legacies. In our family trees we have heroes and villains, and we have regular men and women who lived average lives and then became vaguely familiar faces in faded photographs to the generations to come.

But names and dates and black and white photos don’t tell the whole story.

When I first started genealogy research 13 years ago, I had two quests: find the famous connections and go back as far as I could go.

However in the past year and a half, my research has been dovetailing with my own personal growth path which includes spiritual studies, therapy and a complete overhaul of my thought patterns and behavioral habits that haven’t always put me where i want to be.

As a result, I find myself focusing in more closely on the stories of the people from whom I descend. As I have done that, details have emerged that explain generational family cycles that have been unwittingly passed down.

The stories I had been told as a child highlighted the best of my family history, but they don’t paint a complete picture.

Sometimes we are aware of the legacies of dysfunction, but feel like it’s in our DNA, it’s who we are because it’s who they were. We feel powerless to break the cycle.

Sometimes we are living our own frustrating cycles of behavior and have no idea why we do the things that we do. It leaves us feeling broken, and a little crazy.

But I have good news!

We are not powerless against those errant tree roots that mar our family trees and threaten to bring us down. It doesn’t matter whether we planted the tree; Once we have recognized the danger, it’s up to us to get out our metaphorical hack saws and cut that nasty root out of our lives, out of our families, preserving a healthier tree for our children and grandchildren to inherit.

“I’m a yeller.”

No, you’re not. You’re someone for whom yelling was a modeled behavior, and that behavior was modeled to them, and so on. All it takes is one person to break the cycle. That person can be you if you choose!

“I don’t know why I feel so insecure.”

Well, probably because your parent had insecurity and abandonment issues. Or their parent did. My grandfather was abandoned by his mother at 18 months old, by his father shortly after, and left to be raised by his Irish grandfather and haughty German step-grandmother. His way of handling that was to be an emotionally distant workaholic. That doesn’t breed security in your children or your marriage. It leaves scars on that family tree, and on the people who come along afterwards.

” I’m dumb with men.”

Maybe. There’s probably a reason for that too. I learned this past year that my great great grandmother was married multiple times and wanted her grandchildren to call her “Aunt Fanny” instead of grandmother. Her daughter got married at 16, was divorced a short time later, and had a baby with a man (by the appearances of the records) she never married. By the time she married my great grandfather, she was a woman with a past and baggage, probably a boatload of  shame,  who desperately wanted to be loved and cared for. That longing for love and attention caused her to be openly flirtatious in letters we found to her daughter’s fiance. She loved her husband dearly, but the vacancy inside her couldn’t only be filled by him. Honestly.  It couldn’t be filled by any man.

My own family tree is overflowing with great men and women. It’s also riddled with alcoholism, drug addiction, codependency, perfectionism, emotional disconnection, divorce, and abandonment.

So what do we do with the information that who we are isn’t only the choices we’ve made, but also the things we’ve learned to be as a result of generational brokenness?

First, we understand that knowledge is a gift, even when it’s of the ugly that lurks in our family. Knowledge and awareness creates opportunities for personal growth. We take accountability for our own choices. We recognize the role our family history has played in shaping us, and we chop off that damn root completely. For ourselves, and for our kids. And for their kids.

It only takes one person to change the dynamic of the whole family for generations to come.

We don’t have to chop the whole tree down, just the root that is giving us trouble. Then, come spring, that tree will be blossoming because it will no longer be sending its energy to that nasty root.

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PS: If you are interesting in “rooting out” your family tree, visit my website http://familyresearch.strikingly.com/ to learn about the genealogy research packages I am currently offering at 50% off!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

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Do you hear that? No?

That’s because there’s no sound. Not a peep. Not a whine. Not a fuss.

Everyone has gone back to school and I hear nothing but the sound of my fingers on the keyboard.

It’s blissful.

Yesterday after all the kids were safely in their classes, a group of moms met at someone’s house to have brunch, pineapple mimosas and vodka lemonade. “Brunch” went from 930am until after noon.

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I laughed until I nearly cried as one mom told of how she had realized the night before that her son, who attends private school, had missed the first day of school when she received an email talking about how nice it was to see all the smiling faces back in the classroom. She didn’t tell him when she took him on the second day that he had missed the first day, and pantomimed to his teacher “He thinks today is the first day of school.”

Today I met another 3 moms for a fun, leisurely lunch. Life is good.

It’s been a bit since I last wrote, but I know you’ll forgive me once you hear of the craziness of the past few weeks.

First, a quick update.

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For those of you who have been following along, my husband lost his wallet following a late-night trip to the Dairy Queen on July 26. After his initial attempts to locate it came up empty, he eventually ordered a new ID and credit cards. Over the past 6 weeks he has occasionally asked, “Find my wallet yet?” as if I might have come across it and failed to mention it to him.

Last night, while he was out on a motorcycle ride around the block, I went into the garage to get down the hotdog buns from the top of the refrigerator for dinner. As I pulled the bag towards me, a small brown item appeared at the edge. I reached my hand up and grabbed it. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

As I held the wallet in my hand (and was disappointed to discover there was no cash inside) I began to formulate all the ways I could reveal this discovery to him.

I walked back into the house and held it out to show Zoe. I went into the living room where Parker and Nathan were inexplicably rolling around on the floor and silently held it up.

I said, “No one tells him I found this. You’ve got to give me a chance to mess with him first.”

I heard the rumble of the bike as he drove it up the driveway and into the garage. I was giddy with excitement and anticipation, and, knowing my terrible poker face, wondered how long I could keep a straight expression.

He walked into the kitchen and before I could say a word, Parker runs in and yells, “I know where your wallet is!”

My eyes got wide and I said, “Parker!”

Did that stop him? Nope.

“I found your wallet!” He said excitedly.

“Where?” Jeff asked casually. (Casually!)

“Parker! What are you doing?!”

“I found it on top of the fridge.”

I stood there, knife in hand (I was chopping fruit), mouth agape.

“I can’t believe you just did that.”

He giggled and ran out of the room.

Jeff walked over and I handed him the wallet.

“There’s no cash in it.”

“There wasn’t.”

“Sure.”

“I can’t believe he just ruined that. What a twerp. I was going to mess with you. Why do you seem so blasé about me finding this after all this time?”

“Eh. I always lose stuff, so I’m always finding stuff. It’s not that uncommon for me to find things months later.”

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Also, to update his sleeping issues, they have determined that he does have a slight case of sleep apnea which they feel is best treated by him using what he refuses to stop  calling a “C-pap smear” in spite of my repeated corrections.

 

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Summer ended with a trip for Zoe and Parker with two of their cousins and their Grandma Toni to Yellowstone. We haven’t been since we lived in Utah about 12 years ago, and Zoe and Parker have never been.

They left early on a Monday morning and I didn’t hear from them until around 8 that evening. My mother-in-law texted me, “Made it safe and sound. Got a warning about bears and don’t leave food out at night when we checked in. Then Zoe said THERE’S A BEAR! and now Parker is terrified. All is well.”

My response:

“Oh Zoe!! Poor guy. Spray water on him and tell him it’s bear repellant.”

I didn’t hear from them again until Friday, when I received a few photos in my email. I know a lot of parents might worry that, for example, their child might have actually been eaten by a bear, but when my kids are with their grandma I know she’s likely taking better care of them than I do.

I opened the picture attachment in the email and could see it was a photo of all of them riding horses. I zoomed in to the photo and began scanning from right to left. When I got to Parker on the far left side of the photo, I nearly choked on my own spit.

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If you zoom in on the picture, you can see that he has a bandana covering the majority of his face. I was unsure if he was going for the outlaw look or ninja. My money is on the very likely possibility that he was envisioning himself on a “WANTED” poster.

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After they got home from their trip they regaled us with stories of animals and thunderstorms, their trip to Silverwood and river rafting.

This morning I opened the envelope of rafting photos and was thoroughly entertained.

Here’s a fun little game- “Where’s Parker?” Sort of like “Where’s Waldo?” only Waldo always has the same bland expression on his face, while Parker does not.

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In this photo, Parker is peeking out from behind his cousin. image

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This expression in particular is one of my favorites

Then suddenly…

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Whoa. Check out the rafting guide. How did I not notice HIM earlier in the series of pictures?!

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I had envisioned the time the younger two were out of town in grand fashion; Lunch dates, masses, facials, mani-pedis, date night out. Oh, and writing a blog or two.

Unfortunately that plan got derailed by the carnival coming into town.

Technically, it wasn’t just the carnival coming into town, but the opening of the State Fair.

My husband owns a marketing company, and one of the things we do is provide registration kiosks for large local events. We not only provide the equipment, we set up, tear down and staff the event from start to finish.

I knew he was super stressed about the fair opening because, as with any and all events, particularly those with any ties to governmental regulations and bureaucracy, things don’t always go quite as planned, nor do they go at the expected and desired pace. We were down to the wire for opening day and a lot of things still needed to happen.

One of the things I admire about my husband is his ability to handle stress, and usually by the time I notice he’s under any, it’s at the levels that would make an average person buckle.

I sensed he was getting to that point, and I knew I had two choices: go about my week as if he weren’t under extreme duress or give up my pampered child-free time for the greater good of our business and my husband’s sanity. I chose the latter. It’s difficult to enjoy that stuff knowing you could be helping out your spouse.

I spent quite a bit of time helping with the setup before the event. The morning the fair was to open, we were up at 6am because the head honcho  had informed us the carnival was unhappy with the location of our front gate kiosks, and we had to move everything- canopy, tables,10 touchscreen computers, wires, cables- about 15 feet closer to the entrance.

After moving the registration booth, employees began to show up, many of whom had never worked for us before and had been brought in just to work this event. Jeff had said, “We’ll only stay for an hour or so, and then we will go.”

We didn’t get out of there until after 5pm.

We bought 2 dozen raspberry scones for the morning shift. We walked the entire length of the fair, moving from one gate to our booth to the back gate multiple times.

At about 1 we decided to take a break and eat some of the fair food that had been tempting us every time we passed by. I went for the Walla Walla onion burger and Jeff chose the BBQ beef sandwich. Halfway through we both looked at each other with regret.

That regret was not enough to prevent me from leaving that evening with an elephant ear. (From previous blogs you know I have a fondness for those.)

The good news is that I got all of the desire to eat fair food out of my system by the second day, when 10 minutes after the opening bell I consumed a peach cobbler from the scone stand and immediately spilled peach syrup and whipped cream down the front of my shirt.

The fair is by far the best place in the world to people watch. At one point I passed by a woman in a full dashiki and a moment later a man in head-to-toe studded motorcycle leathers.  I saw odd couples, the American obesity epidemic in full display, cowgirls, women in leopard dresses and heels, and rednecks in full camouflage (I was able to spot them because the fabric wasn’t made of overpriced unwinnable carnie games or giant Rasta bananas)

Speaking of giant Rasta bananas, I was able to navigate Parker through the fair this year without leaving with a replacement for the one he won last year that “mysteriously” disappeared.

We did, however, come home with yet another carnival goldfish, because, apparently, I have a sadistic streak.

( See http://kbjackson.com/the-carnival-goldfish-has-a-case-of-the-dropsies/)

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Part of my back-to-school ritual is to try and get my house organized following a summer of chaos.

I started cleaning out my refrigerator and, after wiping down all the surfaces, cleaning out the produce drawers (gross) and reorganizing what wasn’t expired, I made a discovery.

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I have an unreasonable amount of horseradish.

I have no idea why I have 3 jars of horseradish.

The only thing I ever consume with horseradish is prime rib, which I typically serve no more than 2-3 times a year.

It reminded me of the time I unpacked my canned foods following our move to Southern California when I came across a can of bean with bacon soup. I had no idea why I would have bean with bacon soup, seeing as how I couldn’t remember ever buying bean with bacon soup, much less eating it.

It was at that moment that I spotted the expiration date…

1994.

I wish I was joking.

That can of soup had survived 6 moves in 11 years.

It was the same age as my eldest daughter.

It almost seemed a travesty to throw it away, seeing as how it had been with us for longer than most people’s family pets. Almost.

So summer is gone; it feels like it passed quickly. Backpacks were filled and hanging by the front door Tuesday night, similar to stockings by the fire on Christmas Eve. The first day of school often feels like Christmas morning to  parents.

I found myself waking up yesterday morning with a desire to tell from the rooftops, “we made it!”

 

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I’m sure you can sense how cooperative Parker was in these photos.

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Nathan’s first day of school photo this year is very similar to his first day of school photo as last year. 645 is really early.

 

 

 

Ricky Schroeder, Ebola And Clint Dempsey’s Sweat

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Recently my husband finally cried “uncle” and made an appointment to see a sleep specialist. Lack of sleep has the tendency to wear down even the most stubborn. I’m not sure he’s had a decent night sleep since 2007. I, on the other hand, sleep very well, almost too well, a fact that he resents greatly.

As a result of the ACA, before doing an overnight in-patient sleep study, doctors first have to have the patients perform a home sleep study. This requires wearing headgear that records, well, we aren’t exactly sure what it records, but whatever it is, any data collected will be used to determine a sleep apnea diagnosis.

First, let me back up a bit to explain the context for the following incident. Recently, for throwback Thursday, I posted the following photo of myself and a former classmate with the caption: You know, if someone would have told me 30 years ago I’d be taking my daughter to a soccer tournament wearing a jersey with this boy as a sponsor, I wouldn’t have believed it.

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After a couple of comments like “what a great thing that he’s giving back to the community” and ” Go Zoe!” another former classmate commented,

“The boy in yellow?”

to which my husband responded,

“He’s the taller boy. Not sure who the boy in yellow is. Looks like Ricky Schroeder.”

And then-

“Yep, it is.”

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Flash forward to the first night of my husband’s home sleep study. As he drifts off to sleep, he murmurs, “I love you Ricky Schroeder.”

A couple of minutes went by and then he said, “Do you think they’re recording what I’m saying?”

To which I responded, “I certainly hope so.”

We have yet to receive the test results. I have a feeling the technicians analyzing his kit are going to put that one in their “greatest hits” collection.

*World Issues With Zoe And Parker*

The following are actual conversations from the car ride after Zoe’s last soccer tournament.

Zoe: Do you know what’s going around?

(Simultaneously)

Me:Ebola

Jeff: OMgosh

Zoe: Dad’s right. What are YOU talking about?!

Jeff: She’s talking about a disease. She forgot she was talking to a 10 year old.

Me: (Muttering) She asked what was going around. Ebola is going around.

 

Me: Zoe I’m really proud of how well you played, even with your hurt arm.

Jeff: It’s not like she could whimper about a sore arm when the girl on the other team was missing an arm.

 

Me: I had a weird dream last night. It involved a bear. I was really scared when it came in the house, but it turned out to be a nice bear who just wanted me to cuddle it. I also had a dream you were randomly holding other women’s hands.

Jeff: You won’t even let me go to the boobie espresso.

Parker: In Nepal you can hold anyone’s hand. You don’t have to be married or boyfriend/girlfriend. You can hold anyone’s hand.

Jeff: Not me, according to your mother.

Parker: In Nepal you can.

Jeff: Not even my Nepalese friends.

Parker: (giggling) Nepalese.

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Nathan turned 16th this past weekend. I asked him several times what he wanted to do. “It’s a big deal!” I said. He said, “Only for girls.” Apparently he was right, because the only non pink, non-sparkly 16th birthday decorations was a package of napkins in rainbow colors with the number 16. No matching plates, no balloons, nothing. I had to buy generic decorations and add “16” stickers to them.

We were planning on just a family barbeque, and then asked if he wanted to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. He said no. The morning of his birthday Jeff said that they should go to the gym. Suddenly Nathan wanted to see the movie after all.

We decided rather than fighting the crowds we would go to the IPIC theater. IPIC used to only serve adults over 21, but recently started allowing kids. I have a feeling we are really going to regret taking our kids there. They will never be satisfied with a regular theater experience again.

Recliners, blankets, pillows. I came back from the bathroom and Parker had buncha crunch candies being delivered- in a martini glass. He prefers his chocolate shaken, not stirred. He didn’t make a sound during the entire movie other than a few blissful sighs.

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The look on Zoe’s face when she opened the menu and realized she could order food was priceless. Cost of soft pretzels sticks with two gourmet dipping sauces? $10.

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Happy 16th birthday Nathan!

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Last year’s school clothes shopping ordeal… http://kbjackson.com/jesus-wouldnt-have-rice-in-his-beard-and-other-tales-of-back-to-school-shopping/

should have been enough to dissuade me from attempting to take more than one child school clothes shopping at a time. Alas, my “let’s get it all done in one painful trip” instincts won out over common sense. Also not a good use of common sense? Allowing Parker to wear his Heely’s.

I took Zoe into Justice and Parker let out a cry of, “Please not this place again!”

Nathan went next door to Aeropostale (The pronunciation of which remains a point of contention in our house). He had a gift card and instructions to buy larger jeans than the ones he currently owns. That should be an easy task for a 16 year old, right?

Zoe meandered through the glitterized world of Justice in hopes of finding something she’d be willing to wear.

Parker said, “Mom, there’s something you should know about clothes.”

“What’s that?”

“Anything that says the word cool on it is NOT cool!”

“Duly noted.”

Nathan came back with a bag in about 15 minutes. My instinct said that wasn’t nearly enough time to try stuff on.

“What size did you get?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you try them on?”

“Yes.”

I looked in the bag. “These are 27/28’s. Last year, before you grew 4 inches, we bought you 28/30’s. Either you didn’t notice that these jeans are way too short, or you didn’t try them on.”

“They seemed fine.”

“Go back. Go back and get at least the same size you have now, but preferably longer.”

After he made the exchange and Zoe found enough sparkle- less clothes to fill a bag (40% plus an additional 20% off) we made our way to H &M.

“Would you wear this?” I asked.

“A Sweater?!?” He responded with the ferocity one might reserve for such outlandish suggestions as eating your own feces.

I had no idea sweaters were so offensive.

We managed to leave the mall 3 hours later with not a single item for Parker. I did fend off requests from him for a “Guardians of the Galaxy” Starlord mask and gun set, along with an xbox 360 game.

Parker may end up wearing the same outfit on the first day of 3rd grade that he wore on the last day of 2nd grade. It’s not like he grows very fast anyways.

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Last winter, Jeff and I attended an auction to raise money for Zoe’s soccer club. If you’ll recall, I was the only one dressed in 20’s themed costume and managed to inhale and choke on a piece of coleslaw. http://kbjackson.com/i-aint-the-bees-knees-and-other-things-i-discovered-at-a-roaring-20s-fundraiser/

Well, this past Friday we were finally able to use what we had bid on and won at the auction- a behind-the-scenes Seattle Sounders experience.

Zoe, Parker and I, escorted by  pre-MLS Sounder alumni player-turned- Rush Coach Doug, were able to watch an entire practice, meet the players, and get autographs and photos.

Just before we were supposed to meet the man in charge (Chris Henderson) at the gate in front of the practice field, Parker decided he had to use the bathroom. We had just been up at the main building 10 minutes prior for Zoe and I, but he had chosen to Heely around the floor instead of going to the bathroom.

I dragged Parker back up to the building, and when he was done we started walking back down towards the field. From the back entrance of the main building a tall man in a Sounders shirt and cleats emerged and began walking towards us.

I knew he must be a player, but my knowledge of soccer players is pretty limited. I didn’t know his name, and he didn’t give it. He started a conversation, and was so friendly and casual that I started to wonder how he could possibly be a professional athlete. There was no “do you know who I am” or “Aren’t you lucky that I’m talking to you” vibe coming from him at all. He was pretty impressed with Parker’s Heely ability, and Parker didn’t seem to realize he was talking to one of the players. We walked down the entire pathway talking as if it was no big deal.

And that was pretty much our experience with every single player on that team. They went out of their way to talk to my kids, ask if they wanted autographs, gave high fives and fist bumps and I never saw even an ounce of attitude. I became a bigger fan of the team than I already was, just because I was able to see first hand what great guys these are.

Clint Dempsey was the first to leave practice, and Zoe went over to have him sign her shirt and Parker had him sign his hat. They both came back with sweat stains on their stuff (and a little on them). I explained to them that there were a lot of people who would be thrilled for the opportunity to have Clint Dempsey sweat on them.

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Clint Dempsey appears to be giving Zoe a back rub

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Marcus Hahneman was on two world cup teams and played over in the Premier league in the UK. He spent quite a bit of time talking with us and our escort. Nice to see someone of my age still playing the game.

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Lamar Neagle is a local boy who has been with the Sounders since their re-inception as an MLS team.

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Djimi! He also played in the Championship League in Europe

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My buddy Chad Marshall who walked down to the field with Parker and I

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Parker had Obafemi Martins sign both his hat and his shirt. Following the practice, Parker got pizza sauce all over the signature.

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Quite possibly our favorite person of the day, announcer Ross Fletcher. He said to Zoe, “Sorry about my accent,” to which she replied, “It’s beautiful.”

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Autographs!

We had such a great time that we decided we wanted to go to Sunday’s game. It was a bit surprising to see our escort from Friday, Doug, being honored amongst other alumni players in a pre-game ceremony.

Parker seemed a little underwhelmed by the whole experience, but then he puked up his pizza on the floor outside the bathroom and he started perking up. His favorite part of the game was when the crowd started heckling and booing the officiating.

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I think we may have some pretty serious soccer fans on our hands.

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Go Sounders!

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Update- day 17. Still no sign of the wallet. I am beginning to think there may be a black hole in our closet. It will require further investigation to determine. If you don’t hear from me for a while, I have fallen in the black hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When The Mice Are Away The Cats Will Play/Dude, Where’s My Wallet?

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*When The Mice Are Away, The Cats Like To Play… And Sleep*

This week my mother-in-law Toni took Zoe and Parker, along with Toni’s niece and nephew, camping on the Oregon Coast. Last week she took Zoe, Parker and Nathan to Victoria for 3 days. I’ve been looking forward to this week ever since she told me of the summer trips she had booked this past spring.

Sunday she arrived around 10AM with a U-Haul trailer towing behind her minivan. Parker chose that moment to start looking for the plastic suction cup arrows that go with his slingshot. (Not an item I had purchased.) I asked him what he thought he was going to shoot with the arrows, but never got a straight answer. I told him to give up the hunt, and he got in the car, but still brought the slingshot.

“What are you going to slingshot without the arrows?” I asked, not sure I wanted to know the answer.

Zoe piped up from the far back seat, “You could use rocks.”

“No. Listen to me. You may not sling shot rocks. Pinecones MAYBE. No rocks.”

The look on his face told me it had never occurred to him before that very minute that he could use anything other than the arrows that came with the slingshot.

I’m sure for many parents, this would be the moment that they tearfully said goodbyes to their children, running alongside the car waving as they drove off.

I am not that parent.

I turned and waved over my shoulder without looking and said, “See ya! Have fun!” I think that’s the difference between the average parent and me, who has kids coming out of my ears, and  who has been parenting for 20 years.

I walked in the door and said out loud to no one in particular, “Oops, I forgot to send her with  a consent note in case of emergency. Oh well. I’m sure it will be fine.”

I wandered the kitchen and living room, processing that unfamiliar feeling of sudden freedom without any idea what to do with it.

Jeff came in and said, “You wanna go to the auto parts store with me?”

I weighed my options. I was about to say no, when he informed me that he was unable to locate his wallet (story to follow) so I had to go with him to pay.

Just what every mom who has found herself with kid-free time wants to do: Hang out in an auto parts store.

Being the smart man he is, he suggested we go out to lunch afterwards.

We decided to try the new Chinese restaurant that just opened in the town center near our house. It used to be a Calico Corners fabric store. I have a feeling it will be more successful as a Chinese restaurant.

The restaurant has a very chic, urban vibe- no calico in sight as far as I could see. After getting seated at a table outside, Jeff looked around and said, “they have a good hiring plan.”

That’s code for “the waitresses are attractive.” He had said that at dinner the night before as well.

“But not a single person in here is Asian,” I said. “You don’t find that odd?”

“What about the kid who brought us our water?”

“He’s not Asian. He’s Hispanic.”

I’m not saying you have to be Chinese to own and operate a Chinese restaurant. I mean, I can cook spaghetti even though I’m not Italian, but I wouldn’t open an Olive Garden, that’s all. Well, maybe Olive Garden is a poor example.

Monday I took full advantage of my open schedule to make a coffee date with my friend Lisa. We like to go to a place called “The Spotted Cow” which is like the “Central Perk” for people who go to our church. Really, it’s more like the “Cheers” of our church, because pretty much everybody knows your name, but with lattes and gelato instead of beer.

(I think Lisa is Rachel, so I suppose that would mean I’m  Monica Gellar or Cliff Claven. I’d probably have to go with Cliff, because I too have a brain filled with all sorts of useless facts that no one really wants to hear.)

We went to the counter to place our order and the young man working the register looked at Lisa and said, “Looks like trouble just showed up.”

Have I mentioned how much I adore my friend Lisa?

I ordered my coffee in a to-go cup, which means I missed out on the latte art, but probably saved myself the grief of spilling on myself. I ordered the oatmeal, and Lisa said, “Make it two.”

He said, “Do you want everything on that? Fruit? Brown Sugar? Almonds?”

“Yes please.”

“Raisins?”

“Eww. No. Who wants raisins with fresh fruit?” I scowled.

Lisa nodded in agreement. “Nobody wants raisins. Nobody.”

He said, “Nobody wants raisins- except those who do.”

Two hours of laughter and great conversation, mixed with occasional breaks to greet other church members who had sauntered in, we headed out.

I drove to my parents’ house to pick up my mom and go see the new Michael Douglas/Diane Keaton movie, “And so it goes.”

I enjoyed the movie. It was poignant and funny. I didn’t particularly enjoy the woman a few rows back to our left who cackled uproariously at nearly every line of the movie, as if it were the funniest thing she had ever heard. EVER. Sometimes she’d laugh at something that wasn’t really even funny, but more sardonic.

I kept reminding myself not to resent someone finding unmitigated delight in this film, even if it was a little annoying. There aren’t a lot of people these days who have given themselves permission to so completely enjoy life.

After the movie I dropped my mom at home and went down the street to meet some old high school friends for dinner. What I had anticipated being only an hour or so turned into 4. What a gift to be able to reconnect and laugh with these amazing women. We can go months or years without seeing each other, and it’s always as if no time has passed at all. We can be real with each other because we’ve got history.

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Why no, that’s not a Bartles and James wine cooler in my 18 year old hand. I think it must be some sort of fancy ginger ale. Or something.

This morning I slept in. I had no place to be and nothing to do. My husband came in around 830 and said, “The sun’s coming up, but I don’t see cakes on the griddle.”

I pretended not to hear him and went back to sleep for another 30 minutes.

My mice come back tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll be happy to see them, but I have had a great time playing without them.

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As mentioned earlier, my husband lost his wallet. As of this moment, it has yet to be located.

While it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that he has lost his wallet… again… we are now in day 5 of the hunt with no end in sight. This is unusual, even for him.

Last Saturday night, as a thank you for volunteering at the Richard Sherman celebrity softball charity game pre- and post game events, we were invited to go bowling at Lucky Strike.

Because my mom had also volunteered, she brought along my dad, who showed up with his 60 year old antique bowling ball in a paper grocery sack. The funny thing is, I think I have not ever seen my parents bowl in my lifetime.

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My parents bowling-Like spotting a unicorn

I don’t wanna brag, but… okay maybe I do. I WON THE GAME! (The first one, anyways) My husband thinks the fact that I took multiple pics of the scoreboard and posted them to Facebook and instagram makes me a poor sport. I would have to agree- if I ever won at ANYTHING! When you’re a perennial loser, you’ve gotta celebrate the wins when you can get them.

The second game didn’t go quite as well. I guess I’m a one hit wonder. Someone told me that just means I gave my all the first time. I like her take on it better.

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The bowling crew. I don’t think any of us are going on the tour any time soon.

After we left at about 1030, Jeff said that he was craving a Dairy Queen blizzard. I told him I knew where there were DQ’s near our house, but when I looked up their hours, they were already closed. We found one about 15 minutes away from where we were that was open until 11. We screamed into the drive-thru at about 1045. He got a blizzard, I got a peanut buster parfait. We ate them on the way home in case our kids were still awake when we got there.

That was the last time anyone saw his wallet.

We’ve looked in all the regular places. We’ve looked in all the places that don’t make sense, but have previously been the location of his missing wallet.

We sent a text to Grandma Toni asking if Parker knew where it might be. Her response was that he gave an indignant denial.

As a result of him having no credit cards, ID or cash, I have become his sugar momma. Of course, all the money I’m spending he earned, but every time the check comes, he shoves it towards me and says, “She’s buying.” He appears to get great pleasure out of doing this.

Last night I said, “I’ve gone over all the regular stupid places that make no sense for your wallet to be that you’ve put it in the past. No luck. I don’t even know where else to look.”

He said, “A while back I hid it and lost it for a day. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone.”

“You forgot where you hid it?”

“No. I forgot THAT I hid it. I kept trying to figure out where it could be, and then I remembered that I purposely hid it. When you have a bad memory every day is an adventure.”

“You shouldn’t do stuff like that.”

“When you have a bad memory, you can’t remember that you shouldn’t do stuff like that.”

The ironic thing is that his memory issues don’t extend to numbers. He can still tell you his own childhood phone number, many of his childhood friends’ numbers, and even the amount he spent on airfare for our honeymoon to Cabo. In 1997.

This morning he said, “I know you’ve hidden it. You can tell me where it is now.”

I responded, “Right. Because I wanted to spend my kid-free week ferrying you around and running errands for you instead of sitting in the sun reading a book.”

The truth is we are too old and senile to be clever when it comes to putting things away. We need to be obvious, or we will spend 3/4 of our days hunting down necessities like car keys and wallets.

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Apparently the entire 8% deficiency is  his propensity for losing his wallet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balls, Brits and Country Music

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Welcome to the official first edition of Burnt Ends! In case you missed yesterday’s post, http://kbjackson.com/welcome-to-burnt-ends/, I am trying out a new format for my blog that will hopefully be a little more reader-friendly ( and also writer-friendly.)

Let’s get down to it!

balls in the air

This past week has left me seriously fried- in the brain, on my skin, and as you probably read yesterday, down to my eyeballs. I had envisioned lazy summer days, sleeping in, drinking ice tea, reading a book on a lawn chair while the kids gleefully jumped through the sprinklers.

The days of early alarms, yelling at kids to eat breakfast, brush their teeth and throw their shoes on were to go away as soon as the last bell rang in June, right?

Nope.

Reality set in last week when Nathan started tennis camp and got even more real when Parker started soccer camp this week.

Alarm going off an hour and 15 minutes earlier than during the school year, dragging Nathan and Parker out of bed, yelling for them to eat brush their teeth, get their shoes (cleats) on…

Nathan’s camp is at my old high school, my old stomping grounds.  It’s a 15- 20 minute drive down the hill into my hometown. His instructor, Andy,  grew up two blocks down the street from me. His dad was and is the tennis coach at my high school, and Andy is a tennis pro at a club in another town.

Parker’s camp is closer to our house, but starts at the same time as Nathan’s camp, so I have to drop Nathan off early to get Parker there on time.  The courts will be empty for another 20 minutes.

This morning I noticed a large group of pretty girls standing not too far from the courts.

“Look! pretty girls! I wonder if they are cheerleaders.”

“They are,  they were here yesterday. ”

“Oooh good. you can look at the pretty girls while you wait for everyone to show up!”

“I’m not going to watch them like some creeper! Seriously. You are creepier than any guy I know!”

Those were his parting words as he got out of the car.

Parker’s soccer camp is run by a bunch of players flown in from the UK for the summer, whose accents and flat out adorableness require me to put in a little more effort getting ready than I might normally make. I have, in the past, been known to roll directly from my bed to the car when having to do early morning drops-offs. Not the case this week, I can assure you.

Parker’s coach is Declan, a young lad from Scotland who can’t be more than 21. His brogue is so thick that I do a lot of smiling and nodding and hope he’s not actually asking me a question I’m supposed to answer. Have you noticed those UK accents always sound like they are asking questions even if they aren’t?

I had anticipated hearing that Parker spent the entire time grilling him on the Loch Ness Monster, but so far he has restrained himself. I asked him if he wanted to wear his Union Jack shirt to camp (You know, the Benedict Arnold shirt he wore to our 4th of July celebration?)

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He declined, and then stuck his tongue out at me for even suggesting it. He did tell me that he’s learning to “speak Scottish,” which I assume to mean he’s starting to be able to understand Declan’s instructions.

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Meanwhile, Zoe’s new obsession has arrived via UPS in the world largest box. (Someone needs to explain to me how Amazon can give free shipping on a box that would cost me a thousand dollars to mail. )

She’s been asking for a guitar for months, and finally last week her “Adam Levine acoustic guitar” arrived. Parker immediately took off with the giant box and turned it into his new home.

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At one point he was using the flap as a table for his tv remote and a cup of water.

Zoe’s never taken lessons, but that doesn’t stop her from strumming and singing at the top of her lungs.

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She told me she wants to be the female Justin Bieber, to which I replied, horrified, “No! You don’t want to be like Justin Bieber!”

She reassured me that she only meant in the way that he was discovered. Unfortunately that means posting videos on YouTube, which I find concerning in itself.

farmers and country music

I tend to be one of those people who lives my life in phases.  Earlier this year I ate a lot of pineapple and listened to Reggae in order to escape the winter doldrums. Last year I went through an “All Motown all the time” phase.  This year, in addition to binge-watching “Hart of Dixie,” crushing on Farmer Chris on “The Bachelorette,” and spending a whole lot of time in my hometown full of small town charm and attractive people selling things at the farmer’s market, it has become the summer of country music.

Nathan is not happy about this development, especially since he’s been spending about an hour a day in the car with me coming and going from tennis camp. There’s something about driving through the valley into town- the hay bales dotting the fields, the tractors hoeing the rows, the corn that’s already as tall as my waist- that makes me want to listen to country music right now. I can’t explain it.

Yesterday he was heckling me about the music.

I said, “Zoe’s been listening to it more than you, and she’s finding songs she likes,”

He responded, ” Yeah, well if you dive in a dumpster for an hour, you’re likely to find something that’s not complete trash. But you’re still in a dumpster.”

As you might imagine, I had a difficult time coming up with a rebuttal for that one.

Last Saturday night I made homemade minestrone and roasted redneck garlic bread using mostly vegetables I had bought at the farmer’s market.

My husband has inferred that a simple observation of attractive organic fruit and vegetable purveyors has influenced my organic fruit and vegetable purchases of late.

I argue that it’s merely love and care for my family that motivates me to hit the market each week. I think I should be offended by his inference. Don’t you?

After trying the soup, he smirked and said, “It tastes extra hunky.”

 

white noise

 

Jeff got a white noise machine last week to help him sleep. I was totally okay with the idea, until that night at 10 pm when he turned it on.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to sleep.”

“But I’m watching TV and now all I can hear is ‘shhhhhhh.'”

“I need it to help me sleep.”

I stared incredulously at him for a moment, and then a moment or two longer.

He stared back.

We had a stare-off.

“Does it at least have another setting other than ‘10,000 shushing librarians?’ Waterfall? Rain maybe?”

“Blame it on the rain,” He sang.

He reached over, but instead of turning off the machine like I hoped, I began to hear the opening melody of “Blame it on the rain,” by Milli Vanilli streaming out of his phone.

“No.” I said.

He giggled. “Blame it on the rain. Blame it on the rain.”

“This is NOT okay,”

“Blame it on the rain! Blame it on the rain!” He sang.

I gave up, turned off the TV and rolled over to the sounds of Milli Vanilli and the 10,000 librarians.

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Welcome To Burnt Ends

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Sometimes, as you drift off to sleep, you get an idea. In the still of the night, with your brain in that place where reality begins to commingle with dreamland, thoughts flow through your mind and, occasionally, inspiration strikes.

Usually, in the light of day, those ideas are revealed for what they are- nonsensical workings of a tired brain.

There are times, though, when those thoughts stick with you long after the rooster crows (or in my case, long after the crows begin cackling outside my bedroom window.)

The new title and look of my blog is the result of one of those near-slumber moments: Welcome to Burnt Ends.

Last Friday night I was the kind of tired that, even as a busy wife and mom of 4, I rarely experience.

Zoe had a three day tournament in a city 38 miles to the south of our home. On a light, no-traffic day the drive can be made in around 45 minutes. However, her first game required her to be on the pitch at 9:30am, which meant driving through morning rush hour.

It took over an hour to get to the field, and as we made the last turn I told her to put on her cleats.

It was at this moment she discovered that she had left her cleats at home. Because, of COURSE she did.

I dropped her off at the field and the very nice man directing the parking lot traffic gave me directions to a  store nearby that carried soccer shoes.  Parker and I made it back with her new shoes just 10 minutes before her first game.

We are currently experiencing unusually warm weather for our area, and by game time (just after 10am) the temperature had already reached 80 degrees.

There was a significant gap between her first and second game, but not one that justified going home and coming back. We set up camp in the corner of the field. There was talk of going across the road to the river, but all those years of hearing about the Green River serial killer killed any desire I have to put my toe in the water there. (While I’m sure the likelihood of a body part floating into my leg is extremely slim, I just don’t think I want to take that chance. )

With still 3-plus hours until her next game, and the sun beating down on us, my mother-in-law and I decided to take the kids into town for the street fair. Zoe chose to stay behind with her team, so we took Parker and two of his cousins.

Thankfully there was a fountain in the center of the festival area, so the kids were able to cool off and burn off some of the energy that had built up sitting around at the soccer field.

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We walked around the fair and their clothes were dry in mere minutes. It was a scorcher.

Ice cold lemonade, elephant ears, fresh roasted and glazed cinnamon nuts, cotton candy- we had it all.

We made our way back to the fountain where the kids soaked themselves again and then walked back to the car.

By the time we got back to the soccer tournament, it was only 20 minutes or so to the next game.  I hauled our sport tent over to the sideline, opened up a chair and sat down.

I noticed that my eyes began to water, and I feared that in the heat, sweat from my forehead was dripping sunscreen into my eyes. I attempted to wipe them, but the stinging was getting worse. Soon tears were streaming down my face, and it wasn’t from the 7-0 walloping we were taking in the game.

And then it occurred to me- my eyeballs were sunburned.

The sunglasses I was wearing, while quite pretty, do not have UV protection.

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Me with my mother at a concert the night before the tournament, wearing the lovely, yet virtually ineffective sunglasses.

Her second game ended just in time for the evening commute. I was virtually blind, and, as often happens when your eyes are injured, they kept trying to shut involuntarily.

I attempted to take Zoe and Parker to 7-11 for free Slurpee day, but the closest store’s Slurpee machines were “broken.” (They made a miraculous recovery on 7/12)

I drove further down the street and located a Burger King, because I knew they had Icees which are basically Slurpees. As my kids sucked down their drinks, I sat with my eyes closed praying that the burning would stop and I’d survive the drive home.

We loaded into the car and I closed both sunroofs to make it as dark as possible. I moved my sun visor to my side window, but because it was evening and I was headed north, the sun managed to shine directly beneath the visor into my left eye.

I am not proud of the fact that I drove for nearly 90 minutes in traffic with the partial use of one eye. I white knuckled it the whole way, praying that no one would change lanes or make sudden movements that required fast reflexes from me. Zoe said a prayer for safety, but both kids were so exhausted they passed out on the drive home and I was left to silence other than the radio.

I stumbled into the front door of my house 11 hours after having left,  in near zombie mode; my sclera the color of the geraniums dying from dehydration on the porch.

I sat down on the couch and my husband asked if I wanted a hot dog. I think I mumbled something incoherently in return. He made a snarky comment and my response was to utter some profanity at his back and then climb the steps to my bedroom. I flopped onto the bed, semi-consciously devising angry retorts to any further provocation, should it come.

I woke up about an hour later to find him sitting on the end of the bed staring at me.

“You’re lucky I feel better. The things I was thinking about you before I fell asleep weren’t nice.”

He wisely left that statement alone.

As I started dozing off again later that night, my stream of consciousness began with thinking about how tired I was, and how burnt my eyeballs were. For some reason burnt eyeballs, combined with the episode I had just watched of “Diners Drive-ins and Dives” and a near-comatose state kept producing the same phrase in my mind over and over: Burnt Ends. Burnt Ends. Burnt Ends.

I thought about how I felt like I was burning the candle at both ends. I tried to imagine how that phrase ever came to be. And then I thought about the burnt ends you can buy at Famous Dave’s because I had fallen asleep without eating dinner and was super hungry.

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Burnt ends. Those charred, overcooked chunks of goodness that most with a discerning palate would probably throw away. My guess is that burnt ends became a menu item the same way popcorn chicken did at KFC- someone was sitting around trying to figure out what to do with the leftover tidbits.

In my dreamy haze it occurred to me that burnt ends are a pretty good metaphor for my life. Sometimes burnt ends aren’t just a metaphor for my life, but the stark reality of my cooking. In the case of this past weekend, they are the metaphoric reality of my poor choices in eyewear.

And while I am typically a creature of habit, resistant to change and reinvention, Burnt Ends feels like the most natural next step for this blog; A newsletter- style recap of a week in the life of a wife and mother burning the candle at both ends, burning her dinners and burning her eyeballs while sitting for hours on the sidelines of her kids’ sporting events.

I like to think of it as the mom-blogger version of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Lake Woebegone Days.”

It’s still being formulated in my mind, but starting tomorrow I will publish my first weekly edition of “Burnt Ends.” I hope you like the new format and thanks for being patient with my somnolence-inspired experiment.

The Heart Of A Dad

 

TV_dadsWhat makes a good dad?

I went Father’s Day card shopping this week, and for the millionth time I thought to myself, “I should be a greeting card writer.” I couldn’t possibly be any worse at creating cards than the people who made the crap I sifted through for nearly an hour.

Do these people HAVE fathers? Do they speak to them? Do they know ANYTHING about them?

I am a fan of dads. I have a dad. I’m married to a dad. I know a few others.

I feel I can say with confidence that the majority of the dads I know fall somewhere in between the tie-wearing, golfing, fishing, tight-ass emotionally detached stereotype and the beer-drinking, crude joke telling, flatulence-filled handymen that are represented in the majority of these cards.

There seems to be a one-size- fits-all approach to Father’s Day, and I think it’s really unfair. Dads are multi-dimensional. They aren’t Ward Cleaver and they aren’t Al Bundy. They are so much more than that.

So, here is my tribute to the dads I know. I hope I don’t miss anyone.

 

 

To the men who get up early every day to sit in traffic and spend 8-10 hours in an office to provide for their families

To the men who work the nightshift and still try to function during the day because that’s when their kids are awake

To the men with physically taxing jobs that sap them of their energy and strength by the end of the day

To the men who work from home so they can send their kids off to school and be there when they step off the bus in the afternoon

To the men who serve in the military and miss so many of the big moments in order to fulfill their duty

To the men who rearrange their schedules to be at as many sports practices, dance recitals, doctor’s appointments and school conferences as possible

To the men who ache for the flexibility to do that, but can’t

To the men who walk in the door ( instead of heading to the bar or some other refuge) knowing that before they can take their coat off  someone in their household is going to dump a list of problems and/ or chores on them

To the men who know that they deal better with all those chores and/or issues once they’ve had a chance to let off steam at the bar or the gym or the driving range

To the men who play catch with their kid or kick around a ball from the time they can walk

To the men who sit with their kids and read them stories

To the men who do it  themselves

To the men who know when a job is best left to an expert

To the men with hormonal daughters that leave them baffled but still sit and listen to their girls in hopes of understanding

To the men with sons they don’t know how to connect with, but they keep trying

To the men who don’t get to see their kids every day

To the men who have to see their kids all day, every day

To the men who have come out on the short end of a custody battle but keep fighting

To the men who have stopped fighting so there can be peace

To the men who do it all on their own

To the men who have lost a child and will never be the same

To the men who lie awake at night wondering and dreaming about who their baby will grow up to be

To the men who lie awake at night wondering how their baby grew up so fast

To the men who didn’t have a father to emulate so they’re figuring it all out as they go

To the men who had a great father and want to live up to their legacy

To the men who know whatever kind of father they want to be, it’s nothing like the father they had

To the men who worry they aren’t doing it right but don’t realize their self-examination is a strong indicator they are on the right track

To the men who’ve made mistakes and owned them

To the men who show up, who are in their kids’ corner, who push when it’s necessary to push, but still have a shoulder to cry on when needed

To the men who are strong for their families even when they are afraid

To the men  who love their kids in the best way they know how…

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What Have You Learned- Part Two

ThankYou

Well, this is it. Do you know what today is? It’s our anniversary! (Cue Tony Toni Tone)

One year ago today, I launched this blog. http://kbjackson.com/hello-world/ was my first official post and, terrifying as it was, I’m glad I did it. Looking back over what I’ve written, I’m proud of what I’ve done.

The next day I wrote http://kbjackson.com/what-have-you-learned/ and my husband began to get a little nervous.

“You can’t post something every day. You’ll run out of things to say.”

He can be hilarious some times.

I went back and re-read “What have you learned?” and thought that sounded like a really great birthday but because I am old and can’t remember anything, it’s like reading about someone else’s life. I had forgotten about the drunken karaoke serenade and the board games. I did remember the Aretha Franklin solo and coffee with my girl.

Over the past week I have contemplated what I would like to write about for my anniversary/birthday blog.

I thought about writing a scathing diatribe about Facebook’s new policies that limit my blog audience to almost nothing, and how that has taken the wind out of my sails more times than I can count.

I thought about mentioning my frustrations with WordPress, the fact that the only people who comment on my blog are my mother and autobots who leave me encouraging comments like “My membeг is just regular size in case you’re interested.
The issue with this isn’t simply because theу
do not fսnction the obliqսe’s simply because thеy
do, it is simply because you will find mucɦ better workouts…” You get the picture.

 

I thought about writing some heartfelt introspective post  where I try to determine if I have had any personal growth this year.

I even thought about writing a poem. (I have mad limerick skills. Terrible at the haiku though)

In the end, I decided I have written a lot of words this year. Probably too many, I think, as one of my greatest faults as a writer is lack of brevity and knowing the attention span of my audience.

So here, in no particular order, are the truths I have attempted to absorb this year, in pictures:

bdaypost5 Life is about celebration. Sometimes you’re not feeling it, but if you can tap into that place inside you where gratitude and joy reside, it can’t help but spill out.

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(4th of July)

bdaypost21My father’s 75th birthday

bdaypost25hawaii8IMG_640410175047_10152303957254089_1006229682_nI learned that surviving family vacations is a matter of perspective

bdaypost11The world can be a cold place, so you’ve gotta be prepared. (Parker playing goalie)

bdaypost14Life isn’t fair. We lost Shonda to cancer in July, but her legacy lives on in our sunshine group.

God is faithful and He is the giver of life. For every loss there is new beauty to take its place.

Since my last birthday we have welcomed into our extended family:

bdaypost28Jacob

bdaypost23bdaypost24Bennett

bdaypost29Ian

And any moment now Masai will be making his debut

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bdaypost18Filling your home with friends and family and the laughter of children is better than any gift you could buy in the store

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Friendship matters. http://kbjackson.com/you-gotta-have-friends/ was my tribute to Shonda and the beauty of friendship.

bdaypost26bdaypost20bdaypost19bdaypost13382516_10151679509649089_240970835_nbdaypost17 She’s my mom and my friend

 

 

bdaypost10Sometimes you have to meet life’s challenges with toughness

But usually the best way to handle the ups and downs of life is with silliness and laughter.

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Life is always changing. I’m not great with change but it certainly keeps life interesting.

I truly believe what it all boils down to are two things-I don’t ever  want to miss an opportunity to laugh and I never want to miss an opportunity to tell someone that I love them.

Thank you all for your support this year, for encouraging me and for reading my stuff. It means more than you can imagine.

Sometimes my own words are simply inadequate. I’d like to end with something written by one of my favorite all-time authors and life mentors, Erma Bombeck.

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather rambling about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculped like a rose before it melted
in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more
while watching life.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment, realising that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s” and more “I’m sorry’s”

. . . but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute . . .
look at it and really see it . . . and never give it back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life From The Back Of The Bike- A Mother’s Day Memoir

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Huntington Beach, circa 1977.

My mother is riding her bike, and I’m in the seat on the back. I’ve spent a lot of time in this position, seeing the streets and the beach from the back of my mom’s bike. She doesn’t drive a car, so this is how we get around.

I recall thinking to myself, “I wonder what would happen if I leaned this way.”

What happened was an epic crash. It was totally my fault.

This one incident is an accurate metaphor of what being my mother has been like.

I could say that I have no idea how my mother survived parenting me, but the truth is, I know exactly how- she laughed her way through it. How do I know this? Because I have a daughter just like me and I have found that’s the only way. I also have 3 other kids who are not like me. Laughing helps with them as well.

8 year old me: Why do they have all those tanks? Who are they guarding against?

My mom: I dunno

Me: Idaho?

Now, you and I both know I heard what she said. In my 8 year old mind, though, the idea that the local national guard armory was keeping tanks in case of an attack from Idaho seemed much funnier.

She could have rolled her eyes. She didn’t, she laughed. And every time she laughed at my antics (there were many) she taught me an important life skill. Laughter makes everything better. The greatest gifts I ever received from my mom, and there have been some great ones (she always knows how to find the most interesting, most applicable stuff), are not material. They are the legacies she has passed on to me.

Let me paint a picture of me as a kid.

Stubborn.

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Precocious.

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A little bit of an attention hog.

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Yet one of the greatest gifts my mother ever gave to me was the freedom to be me.

Even if being “me” meant dressing in my Wonder Woman bathing suit, putting a yellow plastic headband across my forehead with a red star sticker in the center, covering up in my pink polyester robe and then spinning around in circles in my living room, all the while stripping off my robe in transformation.

Even if being “me” meant dressing up in the Native American dress that she hand made for me, begging her to cut slits in all my clothes so people might think my towhead pale self belonged to a local tribe, and sitting around playing “10 little Indians” over and over on my fisher price record player.

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Even if being “Me” meant converting my sister’s pilgrim dress (also handmade by my mother) into a raggedy pre- Daddy Warbucks Little Orphan Annie costume and wandering the house singing the entire soundtrack at the top of my lungs.

 

Another gift that my mom passed on to me was the tradition of making every holiday a special day. I read a blog not too long ago, where a mom lamented the trend towards elaborate holiday tables. For me, this isn’t new. Every holiday I would wake up to discover the table decorated, and I have done this for my kids as well. Zoe has already told me she plans to do this for her kids.

I remember one year I came down on Valentine’s Day to find handmade lace doily valentines and a handmade Valentine’s Day outfit. She had worked on this outfit after I went to bed, creating a vest and skirt combo with hearts all over it. She. Sewed. Me. An. Outfit. I can barely comprehend it.

I love the opportunity to make those days extra-special. I remember the feelings I had when I came downstairs to find the table transformed, and I enjoy doing that for my own kids. I figure this somehow makes up for all the other ways I fail as a parent, just a little.

 

I also inherited my love of reading from my mom. I remember reading Erma Bombeck to her as she cooked dinner and we both laughed until we couldn’t breathe. She introduced me to her favorite mystery authors, J.A. Jance and Sue Grafton, getting me hooked on them and the mystery genre in general. She bought me Bill Bryson and Molly Ivins, both of whom inspired me to write what I observed.

 

She brought music into our home. Many weekends growing up there was no TV on, just a never-ending rotation of records playing John Denver, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt. She gave me the confidence to sing out loud.

My mom has modeled compassion for others, a social conscience, and a desire to serve.

She gave me a voice and a platform to express my oh-so-many opinions.

She has been my cheerleader, my sounding board, and a soft place to land in a sometimes hard world.

She stood by me as I dealt with consequences of bad choices. She taught me put on my big girl pants and face problems head on. She’s given me boosts when I need them and she’s let me pull myself up by the bootstraps all on my own. She’s shown me that a contrite heart and being willing to admit your mistakes as a parent is the key to gaining the trust of your kids. I have called her crying saying I understand why she lost it sometimes over the years. She has told me those moments are her greatest regrets. I’ve been able to real with her about my struggles and failings and I know that she will be real back with me.

I would say she’s been my friend, but that word doesn’t suffice. In the end, the only word that truly tells the story of who she is to me is simply MOM. It’s all encompassing.

She’s cool, freshly washed sheets on a sick day, hands in the dirt replacing weeds with flowers, freshly baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies when no other comfort can be found.

Thank you, mom, for all of this and so much more.

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