Archive for January 2011

Everyone needs an Aunt Nancy

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NOTE: This was scheduled to post on Sunday, January 23rd but we had some technical difficulties.

When Trey and I first met and began sharing family stories, I learned that his dad, named Jim, had a sister named Nancy--which also happened to be my mother-in-law's name. As it turned out, his Aunt Nancy was also married to a Jim. Jim married a Nancy and Nancy married a Jim. Did I lose you yet?

Anyway, a couple months after our move to Maryland, and four months into our dating relationship, I met the beloved Aunt Nancy. I knew I liked her immediately when she arrived to Easter dinner wearing rabbit ears. She was kind, engaging and so very interested in you. (Uncle Jim was equally as likeable but that's another post.) Even though I didn't grow up with her as my aunt, I've never felt like I wasn't her niece.e. From that Easter dinner on, I can't recall a birthday or any other holiday she has not remembered me, Trey and now the kids. She even sends my sister a birthday card every year simply because she shares her special day with Uncle Jim. So in honor of HER birthday today, I dedicate this post to my favorite aunt.

Most likely due to the fact that I didn't grow up in their family, I find all of her idiosyncracies utterly adorable. She must know this because, according to her son, whenever he expresses his annoyance over her extreme attention to detail her response is "Well Dana likes it when I do.... (fill in the blank)." Some of the many reasons I'm so fond of this lady include her extreme thoughtfulness, ageless sense of adventure and that she still only corresponds by the written word. No computer mumbo jumbo for her. A few years ago we were headed back to the D.C. area for Trey's high school reunion. The day before our departure a note arrived in the mail detailing the upcoming forecast and advising us on how to pack for the trip. It didn't even dawn on her that we could retrieve this information with the click of a mouse. So innocent and naive but sincere all in one package. This past fall, just before the infamous Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, D.C., she clipped an article from the Washington Post with a complete diagram of the human body and how each area responds to running a marathon based on whether it was properly trained or not. She thought we might be interested to know this information. Again, no clue that we're not restricted from viewing the same diagram in spite of not receiving her newspaper. She's well travelled and continues to actively traipse all over the world. Recently she and Uncle Jim went on a 30-Day cruise through Asia. Rarely does she forget to send a postcard our way in the midst of her great adventures. This last one read: Sailed on a glass bottom boat in the Red Sea and rode a camel In her 70's!!

Happy, happy birthday dear Aunt Nancy!! May the joy you bring others return to you today!

Surprising Trey at his 40th birthday party

Meeting for lunch in D.C. before our flight back to Seattle

With Trey's brother Michael at Mimi's 60th birthday party.


My board game analogy

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who didn't grow up playing Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble and the like? With game time being replaced by screen time, it seems a gargantuan task to coerce anyone into indulging me in my love of board games. Word games are my all-time favorite but I'm always up for cards, dice or any challenge involving more than one person. Aside from the fallout of the digital age, I got to thinking why I encounter such resistance. Over the holidays, I was rejected over and over by relatives and other visitors who informed me that "I don't do games" or "I hate board games". And it was always an adult who said this. Never a child. It became suddenly clear to me what the common denominator was: an inability (or defiance) to laugh at ourselves and/or show vulnerability. The people I know who willingly oblige--or better yet, suggest--playing a game are those who are comfortable with admitting fault, accepting their imperfection and enjoying life.

Think about it. When you misspell a word in Scrabble, let down your team in Guesstures because you can't act out "hula hoop" or end up with the greatest number of tiles in Rummikub, it's downright embarrassing. Regardless of whether we're willing to admit it or not, there's a spirit of competition in all of us. Who doesn't like winning? But if children can handle getting ribbed a little, why can't we? Why must we take ourselves so seriously?

Believe me, I used to struggle in this area myself. I only wanted to play games I knew I could win. I failed miserably at anything that required strategy. I had already decided "I wasn't good at that" so why bother? For years I would say: "I'm not good at that" or "Let's play something else". I was missing out on some great family time and awesome memories as I buried my head in a book or found some other way to stay occupied. Yet once I started regularly giving in to the pleas of my boys, I wanted more. Nothing compares to laughing together and enjoying those you love.

If you fall into this category, think about doing the opposite the next time someone says "Let's play (fill-in-the-blank)." Instead of groaning, join in. You might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Both in the results of the game and your attitude.


My little angel is 14

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Is this not the cutest angel you've ever seen? I'm wondering where he went. This little cherub used to greet me with a precious smile and warm hug every time I picked him up from this preschool where the ornament was made. This Christmas, as I pulled this out of the ornament box, I had to catch my breath and hold back the tears. We all know that our babies do one day become teenagers and those smiles and hugs get replaced with annoyed looks and "what have you done for me lately?" I just wasn't prepared for how quickly the time would pass. On the eve of his 14th birthday, I am now saying "just four more years". Wow.

As I looked through photos for my in-laws annual family scrapbook I was sobered and stunned by the difference in just 12 months. 25 pounds and 4 inches to be exact. The boyish face is now a man's-even shaving once in a while-- and the sweet, innocent voice is about 50 octaves lower. He does his own laundry-or maybe just recycles the clothing for all I know--makes his own lunches, manages his own schedule. And yet, we're still responsible for him. Such a strange time in a parent's life.

This has definitely been a challenging year as the boundaries have been pushed, consequences for behavior have been in overdrive and the grocery and clothing bills have skyrocketed. These are trying times to be raising a teenager and especially one with a strong will and insatiable desire for independence. As his mother, who has 29 years on him, I just want to provide protection from the "big, bad world" and return to 1999 when my biggest worry was potty training. On some level I long for him to stay a little boy and yet, I know we are called to "train them up in the way they should go--emphasis on "GO". The final goal is not overprotection and shielding but providing a good foundation and preparing him for independence. As hard as this has been, I know it is essential.

This summer I read "Parenting Your Teen and Loving It" and the author had some timeless advice for moms of teenage boys: "Preteen and teenage boys need to be free to become men. And that usually involves increased privacy, increased independence and decision making and increased respect from their mothers.......It's hard to loosen that nurturing spirit, that emotional connectedness, and that maternal response, and let it shift to a new place. It's difficult to step back and find a new way to relate. Because in some ways you surrender a piece of your mothering soul when you release a boy to become a young man--and that can be painful. But it's paramount to his wholeness. And even though the transition is tenuous, it is incredibly critical. It's critical because it impacts how he views himself. It's critical because it sets the stage for future relationships in his life. I'ts critical because the ability to have a healthy relationship between mother and son hinges on it. If a mom can confess that yes, something is changing with my son...If she can acknowledge that he's different now, and so are we...If she can realize that because of that change, she needs to rethink the way she acts and reacts..then she will honor the wonder of what God is doing."

As that day of ultimate independence approaches with lightning speed, I want to celebrate my firstborn and the young man he is becoming, not ruminate over what I'm losing. Because what I'm gaining is far more important.

Happy, happy 14th birthday, Quinn!! I love who you are and look forward to who you will be. Thanks for the privilege of being your mom.