Thursday, December 31, 2015

See You Next Year

I'm very grateful for the way 2015 has played out.  I got a promotion at work, bought a new car, knocked a couple of strokes off my golf swing. ... oh, and that damn beautiful little baby.  I'm very excited for what 2016 will bring (hopeful not another baby ;) and I hope you continue to ride along with us.  Happy New Year everybody!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Irony

I've spent the last two days driving to multiple stores across Southern California, trying to get my hands on a total of 3 "Baby Alive" dolls for the girls.  Yesterday alone I hit three stores and logged nearly 100 miles to find the final 2 that we required.  In all of this, the irony is not at all lost on me that all the girls asked Santa for this year were Baby Alive dolls. ... meanwhile we have a real live baby sitting at home.  How come no one wants to change her diapers?

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Real Head Scratcher

It was bound to happen; all that long blond hair was just screaming for some company.  So, yesterday, while getting ready for school, Gina discovered Arianna had some new friends. ... lice.  Hooray!  By the time she called me in a panic she had already found some on Rosaline as well and was in full HAZMAT mode with Genevieve quarantined until inspections could be complete.  She quickly realized that she couldn't take on all three of the girls while juggling the baby as well so she called me about midday ("if you can come home now that be great, if not you better show up with a giant ass Starbucks and a bottle of wine"), so I came home early and we made it a real family affair.  I even learned something new: did you know a "nit" is a lice egg and that's where the expression 'nit picking" comes from?  Well I didn't. ... know it all. 

The girls were real troopers, it took us over four hours to finish combing, washing, combing, spraying, combing, rinsing, combing and gooping their little tote heads.  Finally we tagged 'em and bagged 'em for bed.  It was then that I realized we may have just stumbled upon the best Holiday Card ever!!!

No?  Yea, that was Gina's reaction too.  Bummer.  After all that work I thought we could share this experience with the world, but Gina's afraid of the stigma - so we'll keep it on the down low and just publish on the blog ;)
To make the girls feel a little better about the whole situation, I figured I'd get their elf in on the action too.

The only potential backfire here is them believing that Santa is responsible for their infestation. ... we told them Santa would give them presents if they're good and coal if they're bad.  So this must be what you get when you land in the grey area.  Maybe next year they outta step it up.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Our Hearts Grow Three Sizes Each Day

You may have seen this, rolling around the web the last 48 hours.  A five year old girl who lost her family in a fire and herself suffered severe burns and disfigurement is asking the world to send her cards for the Holiday.  You may have clicked the link, you may have read the story, you may have viewed her pictures and, like us, you were probably moved.  Now the question: did you write her a card? 

I saw this yesterday, like many, and when I got home I brought it to Gina's attention.  I'm big on the girls understanding - to a degree - the less fortunate in the world around them.  This expression often lends itself to the poor or the hungry, but fortune is just as much the blessing that tragedy has not struck you personally.  But explaining this. ... it's hard to play down for 6 years old and 4 year olds.

Arianna: "What are you talking about?"
Me: "A little girl who is sick; we're going to write her some Christmas cards tomorrow to make her feel better."
Genevieve: "How is she sick?"
Me: "She got burned honey."
Arianna: "Why?"
Gina: "Sometimes things just happen, we need to remember  how lucky we are that they didn't happen to us."
Arianna: "What about her parents?  Did they get burned too?"
Me: "Yes, they did."
Arianna: "Are they going to be ok?"

- And this is where you pause.  Death is hard to explain to a child.  It's often something we skirt or play down.  We'll see your goldfish again in heaven; they've gone to a better place; ect, ect, ect.  But to talk about a parent dying. ... that's a tough image for them to swallow. -

Me: "Actually, sweetie, the parents were burned really badly and they died.  (her face contorts to a whimper) but she's going to live with her Aunt who lovers her very much, just like your Aunts and Theas love you.

- And this is where they ask to see the pictures.  Judge me, if you will.  I understand those that may.  Kids are supposed to be shielded, we save the TV violence for after 9pm, right?!  We rate the movies high so they can't get in until their 17.  We dumb down the seriousness so the cat that gets blown up in the cartoon gets put back together again so he can return in the next episode.  But it's fake.  It's not real.  It doesn't teach them anything.  It doesn't grow their heart and compassion.  So we went through the photos; this girl their own age.  Her face and body scarred.  Her arm amputated below the elbow.  And it was real.  And they felt.  And they understood.  And today, when we sit down to write her as many cards as their little fingers can muster, it comes from a place of genuine understanding and compassion.  This won't be an exercise in "cutesy, holiday" revelry.  This will be a human experience, of three little girls reaching out to another little girl who has suffered.  This will be three little hearts, bleeding in support of another child that they desperately want to help.  We talked, a while past bed time, about how doctors can help her to get better.  That they can ease her pain and help some of the scarring.  How they can make "robot" arms so she can do some of the same things as them.  We watched videos of Oscar Pistorius running (we skirted his current activities) so they could see that she won't have to be limited by her amputation.  But, we explained, it's up to us and people like us to fix her heart.  Doctors can make our owies better, but it would take love from other people (even strangers like us) to help her sadness. 

It was heavy.  They cried a bit.  They gestated on it all.  But as a father who's raising children to be caring adults, it was a growing moment.  And I'm proud of that.  I'm proud of them.  When kids cry over toys or sweets or not having enough of the excess, it makes me nauseous.  To see my children cry because they felt for another, a stranger, someone they had never - and would never - meet. ... I couldn't be prouder of the people they'll become.  Hearts that big don't shrink, and it's my purpose to make certain of that.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Selfish Mourning

We've been selfish lately.  We've been hording what was never ours and we've been hoping to keep it forever.  And now it's gone.  Back where it belongs, back where it's right.  But we're still selfish, and our covetousness now breeds mourning.

When we moved into our home, we moved away from everything and everyone we knew.  Yes, it's only 60 miles.  But 60 miles in LA traffic (120 round trip) is the equivalent of an expedition to Antarctica. ... while wearing board shorts and flip flops.  It was terrifying.  We knew no one and we crossed beyond the boarder of our tightly knit extended family's unwavering support.  It was a new world and we were trepid.  Until a chance encounter at a shoe store brought a ray of light into our world.  Not to mention strange new ways of pronunciation.

Over the next three years the Bevans became the Hardy to our Laurel, the Cheech to our Chong, the Lloyd to our Harry.  It was one of those matches that couldn't be planned better.  Gina found a confident adventurer that drove her to places she'd never consider going on her own.  Arianna and Genevieve found a loyal companion that could be shared with out being torn apart- a difficult feat amongst children.  Rosaline found her soul mate. ... there's no other way to describe it.  And me. ... I found someone who wasn't embarrassed with my horrible golf game, who wanted to be my friend rather then had to be, and who carried me emotionally while I carried him physically.  And since Lorelei came along, she's found someone else to feed her for a change.

If family is a part of you, something you can't chose to attach or detach; like an arm or a leg.  Then your friends are what you chose to put on.  Some friends are an outfit that you wear to be showey.  Some are casual and comfortable.  Some you get tired of and discard and others you regret spending so much money on.  The Bevans, though they may not even realize, were our armor.  They gave us strength at a moment we needed it most.  They made us confident in a world outside of our own.  And now that they've gone, we feel exposed, fragile, perhaps a little cowardly. 

I'll miss having a house full of chaos to come home to on a Tuesday.  I'll miss imaginary weddings and the great adventures of Rozzie and Rafe.  I'll miss strangers thinking the big girls were triplets, and they way often acted as though they were.  I'll miss the strength you gave my wife.  I'll miss jumping dead batteries at the drive in.  I'll miss late night decisions for early morning golf.  I'll miss watching the memories we've made play out on the tv slide show.  I'll miss watching rugby and having no idea what's going on.  I'll miss picnic dinners long after the sun had gone down.  I'll miss kids sleeping on couches because we couldn't stop the evening.

As we stood against the airport dividers, heads craned up at the mezzanine in the Tom Bradley International terminal on Saturday, we watched them walk away, out of our daily lives towards the plane that would take them home.  These things we'll miss played out in our heads, betrayed by the whimpers and frowns.  But they were headed in the right direction, and that, unfortunately, was away from us.  Our lives were extraordinarily brightened by their presence in it.  But when winter sets in, and things get a little colder, we mourn the sun rather then celebrate the time we had.  We miss the warmth rather then remind ourselves how good it felt.  We forget, too, that a season isn't forever, and though the coming spring won't be quite the same as the summer, it brings with it the chance for summer to come again, if we let it.

So for now, we'll find solace in a log fire - which has no business being in Southern California.  We'll try to order curry on our own and see what we end up with.  I'll swing a club and swear like always, but I'll appreciate the scenery and the lack of rain.  We'll appreciate the beach, because not everyone has this.  We may even consider an earthquake survivor kit.  We'll order cider every now and again.  We'll make a roast.  We'll look at Diet Coke in a can and smile, knowing it's superior to the bottle.  We'll appreciate the National Anthem at sporting events.  We'll laugh at chocolate squares.  And we'll pour an extra glass of wine for the empty chairs at game night. ... and then we'll quickly drink them, because it's wine and can't be wasted.  I mean, c'mon!

To the Bevans, should you read this: know that you've impacted this family, from top to bottom, in more ways then you might ever realize.  Your mark is deep on each of us and though we're oceans apart now, and your day has become our night, you'll never be out of our sight, out of our thoughts or out of our hearts.