Thursday, November 27, 2014

An Apple Remembers Its Tree

I think about my mom every day. Every single day. I thought as time progressed, this kind of thing would fade, but it hasn't. In fact, in a lot of ways, my feelings about her have intensified. I wonder about that because it has been four and a half years since she died. It just seems like I should miss her less. 

Today, because of a phone call, my thoughts turned to another influential woman in my life. To be honest, I never got to spend a lot of time with her on a consistent basis because she usually lived in a different country. Her influence comes through my mom, on whose life she had immense influence. 

I call her Obaachan--because that's Grandma in Japanese. She was always a fun grandma. Until she moved into a nursing home a few years ago, she never forgot her grandkids' birthdays. Of course, there are only three of us, but still, she always remembered. 

I have never heard of someone else's grandma being a champion Dr. Mario player. Yup. Back in the '90s, she was the queen of the Nintendo. I recall that she wouldn't allow even her beloved grandchildren to interrupt her game. Or even have a turn.

My Obaachan's life story is fascinating. She grew up during World War II in rural Japan. When she was still a teenager, her parents arranged a marriage for her, to a man she had only seen in passing once or twice. 

As a young person, I heard she was quite the town beauty. I saw a picture of her when she was nineteen years old. Yeah--she was beautiful. She acquired a reputation for always being on the cutting edge in fashion. I also heard she was a master knitter. Actually, I know she was an exceptional knitter. She knitted gloves for me once. Gloves. As in, not mittens.

And she was so funny without meaning to be. There was a time when she would stock up on milk whenever she knew I would be visiting. If you know me, you know that I don't drink milk. No matter how many times I went to her house and didn't drink the milk, no matter how many times I told her that milk made me sick, she kept buying the milk. Because Americans drink milk.

Her kids don't remember ever seeing her cook while they were growing up. Yet somehow, I know her as a magnificent cook. I have fond memories of many meals she prepared. 

One thing I know about my Obaachan is that she always wants to eat something delicious. The problem is, nothing tastes good to her. In the decades that I have known her, the only thing that she has eaten and liked were some random watermelons along the way. Seriously. I got a kick out of eating something with her or getting a treat for her, and then waiting to see how long before she commented that it totally sucked. Maybe that's more commentary about me, but I thought it was funny. 

Grandkids have always been her favorite.

Today I got a phone call. It was my aunt. The one who lives in Japan. Since it is Thanksgiving, my first thought was that she was calling to wish me a happy T-day. But then I realized that didn't make sense, and I knew that my Obaachan was gone.

Tsuyako Yamane Watanabe, May 13, 1931 - November 28, 2014. 

I'm sure I will think about her every day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Too Annoyed to Post Pictures

I get annoyed a lot these days, and pretty easily, too. Just ask Jake. It could be the lack of sleep caused by--yet another--non-sleeping baby. It could be the lack of exercise caused by the lack of sleep caused by the non-sleeping baby. It could also be the constant dieting going on because of the weight gain caused by the non-sleeping baby. It could be the frustration from how difficult it is to lose the weight because of lack of sleep and exercise, all caused by the non-sleeping baby.

Anyway, I get annoyed, and I got annoyed this morning when I skimmed through Facebook to find that a few of my Friends had posted or re-posted a certain pregnancy-announcement video. Seriously! What? When did that become a thing? Does anyone care about this stuff outside of the people who make them?

I don't know what kicked in at that point. Hormones? More sleep deprivation? I suddenly had a moment of clarity. This baby-to-be is being celebrated. All kids ought to be celebrated. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in. So what kind of idiot am I to hate on the celebration of another beautiful child?

So I clicked on the video link and watched it. It was cute. I may have shed a tear remembering what it was like to be a first time parent-to-be.

To all you rookie parents-to-be out there, announce away! I'm happy for you.

Now back to being annoyed.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Most Self-Indulgent Mother's Day Post Ever

Jake posted a photo on Facebook today. I don't love it, but at the same time, I love it. It's the kids and me taken at the park. The kids are dirty, sweaty, and disheveled--which they were. I look tired and overweight--which I am. It pretty much sums up me and my job for the past eight years. Happy Mother's Day.

As I write this, I am exhausted and only half awake. In a few short hours I will be getting up to frantically get the entire brood ready for church, where I will be playing the organ and the piano, and then teaching Sunday School to 3-year-olds. I will likely be getting up once or twice before then to feed the baby and possibly change a diaper or two. But the thing is, this is OK with me. In fact, it's more than OK. It's freaking awesome.

I graduated from law school and management school eight years ago. I gave birth to my Ellie about a week before graduation. I decided to stay home with my baby, just for the first little bit. My plan was to re-enter the workforce soon thereafter, but I realized that I didn't want to leave my daughter in someone else's care. (My mom even offered to take care of her at one point!) So I put off going back to work. And then I got pregnant with Judd. And then Lu. And then I realized that this career thing was just not going to happen. I am well aware that the longer I am out of the market, the worse my situation becomes for someday re-entering. Yet here I am. And then I had another baby. I might be crazy.

Or, maybe, deep down, I really love my job. Even though it has cost me my career. It has cost me hundreds of hours of sleep. It has cost me my fit body. As I was drying my hair this morning, I realized that it is now costing me my hair. It is definitively turning grey. Actually, that's probably just a function of age, but I'm going to go ahead and blame my kids for it. Then there's the issue of all the damaged property caused by all these little people.

Believe me, I am terrible at my job. My house is an insane mess. My kids are dirty most of the time, despite mandatory daily bathing. I don't revel in all the stuff that kids do. Reading to the kids? Let's hope they pick a book with only a few short sentences. Play with the kids on the playground? Rule Number One with this mom:  if you can't play with it by yourself, you can't play with it. Soccer games? Do I have to go? Ballet recitals? My own personal hell.

I can't verbalize exactly why I do this. Maybe someday when I'm better rested I will be able to explain this clearly, but for now this is all I can say. It has something to do with waking up in the middle of the night, maybe even a few times, for a fussing baby. I hate it, but I love it more.

Is anything better than this? I'm pretty sure there is nothing better than this.

It has something to do with driving 8 hours to the beach in a crowded minivan while the kids fight and scream most of the way, then having to throw together a birthday party for one of them. All while very pregnant. I hate it. But I love it more.

He still says that was the best day of his life.

It has something to do with spending most of the day in the kitchen, cooking, then cleaning it up, then cooking again, then cleaning it up again; and then, cleaning up after everyone else. Sometimes my kids eat what I cook. Sometimes they won't touch it. It's about 50/50. I hate that. But it makes me laugh. So I love it.

Here I am, doing things I hate, but loving it at the same time. That is what keeps me here. I guess it makes sense, then, that I keep my license to practice law in my wallet and carry it with me wherever I go, even though I have never practiced. I remain conflicted about that decision every single day. I pull the card out every so often and look at it. I think about what life would be like if I was working. More money. More car. More house. More respect. But I always put it away. Maybe later.

Happy Mother's Day.

Mother-of-the-Year advice:  to capture all of the kids at once in a photo, line them up in front of the TV. They won't budge.

Friday, July 5, 2013

We Made It

What we set out to do six months ago has finally come and gone, and now we are embarking on a whole new busy life. 

Just as a refresher--Jake got a new job in January which required him, and thereby all of us, to move to Monroe, Louisiana. That is Northern Louisiana, which is not anywhere anyone has ever heard of, unless you watch a little show called Duck Dynasty on A&E. In January, we gutted and remodeled our house in Denver. In February, we packed up our things, moved Maki to my sister's house, and the rest of us moved into Jake's parents' house. (They graciously welcomed us into their home for several months, for which we are extremely grateful.) In March, our house went on the market, and sold very soon thereafter. (Thanks Greg Anderson!) We went under contract on our home in Louisiana in early April, and closed on the Denver house in mid-April. Then we waited for our house to be completed and for the school year to end. We closed on Louisiana house at the end of May, but not before my baby turned 3.

Sometimes Build-A-Bear is a necessary and somewhat welcome evil.

This kid had been telling everyone for months that it was her birthday. When it finally was, she didn't seem to comprehend that her day had really, truly arrived.

The next day, Jake and I flew to LA, closed on the house, moved all our stuff into the house, then flew back to Denver just in time for all the end-of-school stuff, like Ellie's recital.

Then, it was time to move We, the People into the new home. We drove. 3 days. It was mostly Texas. Texas is really big.  Thank goodness for Ipods, iPads, iPhones, portable DVD players, headphones, and technology in general.

We did find this really great burrito place in a tiny town there, though. The burritos were huge and made with home-made hand-made tortillas.

We arrived in Monroe, and to our great relief, the kids absolutely fell in love with the new house. One thing we noticed very quickly, though, is that it is really hot down here. That weekend, we joined the local health club, just so we could use their fun pool facilities.

Then came the part we were really waiting for. In my quest to find the positives of moving to the south, I discovered that the Florida Panhandle is driving distance from where we now live. !!! Awesome, right? So we booked a nice, big townhouse in Sandestin, Florida, and made plans to go there when my sister arrived with my brother. All the Rosses, Maki, my sister, and her 2 kids made the trek to the beach. It was awesome.

While we were there, this guy turned 5!

All the grandkids on my side of the family represented here. It was funny to see these city kids (OK, so it's my kids who are the real city kids...) discover bugs and other creepy crawly things living in our neighborhood in Florida.

Now all of us are back together again, under the same roof. All 6 of us. It is insane, but the way it's supposed to be. I am still unpacking and trying to find some order in this mountain of chaos. Jake is liking his new job and his new office and his new coworkers. I am very happy that things are working out well for him here. The kids are still exploring the new house. They love to play hide-and-seek in it. Maki loves his new digs, which is another great relief. 

Hotel Ross is kind-of sort-of open. We have a place for y'all to stay if you come visit, but we still have a lot of boxes lying around. But come visit, if you've got a hankerin' for the South! Also, I do plan to post photos of the new house, but not until things look a bit less tornado-hit-ish.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

If the Shoe Fits...

I took my shopaholic son on a quick trip to Sam's Club tonight. I took him with me because he has told me many times that he loves to shop at Sam's Club, and I get a kick out of the fact that my 4-year-old knows his retail. As we were browsing through the giant shampoo aisle (the shampoo is giant, not the aisle), an employee breezed by, and in a most unpleasant tone said:

"I assume you know that he has his shoes on the wrong feet."

As I was forming the words to a witty and apologetic reply, I glanced over at the woman and noticed that she looked kind of agitated. A few things occurred to me at that moment:  (1) I don't care that my son has his shoes on the wrong feet; (2) I was proud of my son for getting shoes on his feet; and (3) I don't care that someone else doesn't like that my son has his shoes on the wrong feet.

So I let the idiotic remark linger so we could all hear the crickets, and I continued my shampoo conversation with my son. As I continued to shop, however, I did wonder--sociopath? Other personality disorder?

I cannot tell you how many times someone has informed me that my son, or another one of my kids has their shoes on the wrong feet. Ever since the first time I heard it with my oldest child, I have been perplexed as to such a remark. I'm not talking about the people who playfully bring it up with the child or the person who says, "I remember when my such-and-such used to do that." I'm talking about the people letting me or my child know that such a faux pas has been made, as if (a) I don't know; and (b) it actually matters.

That's right. I don't care that my kids have their shoes on the wrong feet. My oldest is six and she doesn't do it any more. The other ones are young enough that, once again, it doesn't matter. Now, say, if you the reader wore your shoes on the wrong feet, that could be an issue. Bur we're talking about toddlers here, people.

So here's another side to this coin. When my sister was a baby and through toddlerhood, she had issues with her feet and legs that required her to wear corrective "shoes" and also to wear her shoes on the wrong feet. That's right I said required to wear shoes on the wrong feet. Hmmm...who sounds like the insensitive buffoon now? But closer to my heart, (sorry Jessica!) my son actually has fine motor skill issues and as his mother, I am pleased as punch that he put his velcro sneakers on his own feet by himself!

I suppose my message here today is threefold:  (1) If you tell me or my child that my child has his shoes on the wrong feet, I will assume that there is something wrong with you; (2) If you tell me or my child that he has his shoes on the wrong feet, consider yourself lucky if you only get a, "Yes they are," as a response; and (3) If you are four years old and your shoes are on the wrong feet, there is nothing wrong with that.

Let me be clear:  I don't care that my son has his shoes on the wrong feet.

Thank you.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Southern Comfort

As many of you already know, we are embarking on a new adventure. After two or so years of searching, we finally found the right job. It happens to be exactly what Jake wanted and we are absolutely happy about his new career. There is, however, one condition. We have to move. I have had a difficult time wrapping my mind around this move, but as the move looms closer, I am feeling more and more positive. Read on to see why.

I don't know if you have ever heard of Monroe, Louisiana. I hadn't heard of it until Jake came home a few months ago and informed me that if we wanted any chance at this job, we would have to accept the idea of moving there. OK. The truth of the matter is that we both kind of came up with this plot together. If Jake's company wanted someone out there, why don't we just go out there? It was the right job. So we set out to find out more about this place. Keep in mind that I have never spent time in this part of the world--except for a brief layover once in Atlanta. I don't think that really counts.

Here is what we discovered. It is the home of this awesome show. Reason enough, right?

I hope you recognize this scenery, because it is a great show. If you don't recognize it, I highly recommend Duck Dynasty on A&E. It takes place more in West Monroe, which is the small town next door to Monroe.

Jake's company was kind enough to fly both of us out to their headquarters in Monroe to see the town and meet some people before we made the final decision. That was my first time ever in Louisiana. I was amazed at how different things are there than here in Denver. That was really my main impression after our short 3-day visit.

Jake accepted the job, and they gave him one year to get moved to Monroe. (Currently he works out of their Denver office.) So we have been busy preparing to sell our beloved home, selling our home, looking for a new home, etc.

We realized that my bro was probably not going to handle this gigantic transition well, so we took him to my sister to hang with her while we take care of all this. We made a fun trip out of it.

In case you're wondering, I get a kick out of recording Jake trying to photograph our kids. So here's Jake trying to get a group photo of the kids and Superman. Ha ha ha.

We put our home on the market and were fortunate enough to go under contract pretty quickly. We close in just a couple of weeks. 

Last week, Jake and I went on a house-hunting trip to Monroe. I told Jake that if the company's people had taken us to eat at the places where we ate this time around, I would have been more positive about the move from the start. It is crawfish season in the South right now. It is awesome. The local cuisine is awesome. Here is a sampling:

This is a shrimp po' boy with fries and gravy. Amazing. The food is reason enough to at least visit this place.

Most important, however, is that we came away from this trip with this.

I can hardly believe it. We are officially under contract on this lovely home. It is not completed yet, so we get to move into a brand-spankin'-new house. It will be our Southern Home. We are very excited about it.

I will let y'all know when Hotel Ross is once again open for business.