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Archive for the tag “family”

The Faulty Side Of Loyalty

I wrote this blog last week and planned on finishing it before something happened.  It directly correlates to this thus I am going to preface my blog on what happened.

On Wednesday I was attacked by a dog.  I was working, my dogs kept barking and I looked outside to see a large dog running up the street. Many of my neighbors are elderly so I went outside to help.  The dog saw me and began running toward me.  I was elated at first. But then I noticed something different.  He wasn’t a pup and was not coming to play.  He quickly went for my left leg and luckily bit my pants.  He then lunged and bit my right leg.  I kicked him in the jaw. He was not fazed. He continued to lunge while I kept eye contact, yelled NO and kicked while taking small steps backward.  I got to the front door of my house by the time the owner and neighbor arrived to leash him.  The owner apologized profusely. The other neighbor helping her got angry and told her, “This is the third time your dog has bitten someone. This dog needs a new home.” The dog’s owner dismissed him because she is loyal to a fault.

Back to the original blog:

I have been thinking about the idea of loyalty for the past few months.  Loyalty is an attribute everyone identifies with.  Have you ever met a person stating otherwise? Loyalty is tossed around like most adjectives- Also fun, friendly, outgoing and of course kind.

Loyalty can apply to myriad situations.  It could be in friendships or relationships. It could be family, pets, job, or a political party.  People really like touting themselves as loyal.

The reason I have been thinking so much of this lately is quietly watching others display their loyalty in various areas while not tending to others.

My Dad always spoke about being loyal to a fault.  Over the years I admired this quality and followed suit.  As an adult I found that loyal to a fault is flawed.

When we say we are loyal humans at what point are we not?  Is it when beliefs do not coincide? What happens when friends don’t want the best for us? How long do you stay when your partner continually mistreats you?  Or support a family member making poor choices? Do you stay loyal to a job or person that doesn’t value or celebrate you?  What about the animal you love that continually acts out?  Most recently, what do you do when your political party leaves you unsatisfied?

Do you stay? Do you remain loyal to a fault?

My thoughts are what loyalty really means to you.  Everyone is quick to hold on to the word and describe themselves as such.  But what if being loyal to a fault isn’t the best option?

Mike and I have had time off this past month and we have talked at length about the same questions.  Loyalty is something to be cherished in the right circumstances.  However when does a person decide, “I am not loyal to dysfunction?”

More than anything I am interested in your insight.  What makes you loyal?  When do you decide to NOT be loyal?

Best,

Marianne

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Jason

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A few weeks ago Michaela (our 2 year old) began hinting there was another person in our family.  His name is Jason.  At first we couldn’t figure out who Jason was.  He would show up in odd moments and our nanny was convinced SHE was being referred to as Jason.  After inquiring it became clear Jason was Michaela’s imaginary friend.  Jason was a trouble maker sometimes.  Jason is not simply pronounced “Jason”.  Rather you must pucker your lips and express a deep drawn out ”JAAAASSSSSOOOON”.

Bailey (our 5 yr old) had never mentioned any imaginary friends.  Growing up I had my BFF Tiffany so it has tickled me to have a kindred spirit in Michaela.  As our family has become more immersed in Jason’s personality we have begun adding him to our daily questions.  “Hey Michaela where is Jason?”  From what I have surmised he is potty trained, a voracious reader, and an avid jokester.  He loves to make messes, hide at bedtime, and cause trouble.  He is her imaginary friend and her alter ego.  Jason is awesome sauce.

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Three weeks ago my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  It was a shock as I am sure it is to any person finding out there dad is not invincible.  The doctors were quick to get surgery scheduled and within days we had the date.  March 29.

My world shook the moment I knew something was wrong with my dad.  Realistically we know our parents will get older and have health problems.  However it is just something we take for granted until a test result slaps us across the face.  My little brother (Rob) and I immediately launched into action making plans to be there.  Logistics wise we both had a ton on our plate but within 24 hours we had travel coordinated, work off and spouses taking over at home.

The family plan was to meet the day before surgery, stay together the night before then do hospital shifts.  Between my mom, Rob and I my dad would never be alone. The doctors felt confident the cancer was only in his kidney. Everything sounded rational and on paper it made sense.  However I knew I wasn’t alone with the feeling of complete and utter fear.

Tuesday I left my girls, Mike and our animals and got on the train.  I spent 5 hours thinking about him and honestly dreading my arrival.  What do I say? How do I act? Do I cry? Make jokes? Will they cry? My role in our family has always been the planner/cheerleader.  I typically take charge (even when they don’t want me to) and lead.  Armed with the team bracelets my daughter had made us I arrived ready to do anything to help my parents.

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The first hour was a little rocky.  My dad was understandably very nervous and my mom was trying to be a comfort while managing her emotions.  He wasn’t allowed to have any cocktails and he didn’t have much of an appetite.  We chatted about surface subjects and idly waited for Rob to get into town.  When he did we headed to a quick dinner in anticipation of our early morning.

I’m not sure when the subject of Jason came about but it did.  My family giggled at the Jason stories and we started making up new stories about Jason.  Everyone pronounced “Jassssoooon” with the deep voice and curled lip I showed them and it just kept getting funnier.  For some reason Jason brought out the child in all of us.  By the time we went to bed we had spent most of the evening laughing and swapping stories.  We bunked in the same room and my brother started cracking jokes in the dark.  We were laughing so hard I was in tears.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt like such a little kid hanging out with my parents.

The next day was LONG.  We checked in a 6am, dad’s surgery was at 9 and he remained in solitary recovery until almost 5pm.   At one point the nurse allowed each of us to individually visit him.  While walking back I was anxious. I wasn’t sure what he was going to look like and wanted to make sure I seemed confident and encouraging.  I walk back and in his drugged state he looks at me and says, “It went good honey. “Jaaassooooon” was in there helping out!” I cracked up.  Good ole Jason had been there watching over my dad the whole time.

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Over the next few days Jason continued to be a theme.  In the patient room next to my Dad’s there was a sheriff supervised patient.  We joked Jason would protect us.  When dad started walking we would say, “Have Jason go with you”.  Even when I left this morning I told dad I had to bring Jason back to Michaela.  Our faith was always present and Jason served as our angel.  He made us all laugh when we really wanted to cry.  He encouraged us to have fun rather than worry.  Jason brought out the childlike banter we had been accustomed to and gave a light in the scary darkness.

My dad was discharged today two days ahead of schedule.  He exceeded the doctor’s expectations with his strength and determination. I heard the nurses talking about him saying he was fun and a joy to have as a patient.  We won’t know the final results until next week but his surgeon felt confident they would be positive.

As I sit on the train riding home I can’t help but smile.  Watching my dad exude the qualities I love most about him filled me with pride.  At 77 he is focused and optimistic.  He is ready to tackle anything and is stubborn to get back to his active lifestyle.  He is serious about his health but can giggle with Jason.

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Jason provided the senseless relief we needed and I can’t help but feel so much admiration for my children.  We wore the bracelets my daughter made us through the whole process and my parents implored us for more grandchild stories.  THIS is the reason for family.  The knowledge and love we receive from our elder’s passes to our children.  Our children provide purity and unabashed wonder to us.  It is absolutely awe inspiring and I travel home with a heart full of love and hope.

Sending the essence of Jason to all our readers!

Xoxo

Mari

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And we’ll collect the moments one by one. I guess that’s how the future’s done.

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When Mari and I first found out we were having a girl I spoke with several friends that had daughters for advice and input.  I remember quite a few of them remarked on how great it was when they came home from work and their daughters squealed “DADDYYYYYYYY!”  They were right.  I love coming through the door, and after surviving the initial greeting of the dogs(who go from barking at the intruder to dancing and wagging their tails) hear our girls.  Our youngest is usually in a walker or bouncer and she gets a huge smile, screams and bounces at an increased pace. Our oldest does the “DADDY!!” squeal and (usually) jumps up for a big hug.  It’s an awesome way to feel validated for going out and doing what a father does for the benefit of his family.  But it’s not the highlight of my day.

The best part of my day happens shortly after I come home from work.  Our oldest either informs me that we should go upstairs so I can get in comfortable clothes or I remind her that I’m going up to change.  We used to walk upstairs holding hands so I could help her up the stairs. Now she is older, faster and chooses to hold my hand (and my heart) about 1 in 5 times, but that one time is because she wants to.  We head to the master bathroom and I sit on a low chair.

“Daddy, I’ll untie your shoes,” she begins.  Then she’ll pull on the heel of the dress shoes.  If she remembered to loosen the laces, they’ll come off.  “Daddy, these go in your pile.”  Compared to my wife’s neatly arranged shoe section, my side definitely looks like a pile.

“Daddy, pull your socks down.”  I then pull the socks down over my heel.  She does NOT like it if I take them off myself.  “These go in the hamper.”

“Take off your watch Daddy.”  She can’t manage to get the clasp undone yet.  “This goes in your dish.”  She climbs up on the chair and puts my watch in a little dish next to the sink.

“OK Daddy, give me your belt.  This goes in your belt drawer.”  She has to get up on her tippy-toes to put it in the drawer.

“Take out your collars and give me your shirt.”  I have fewer collar stays than I should so I take them out to use (a paper clip works well in an emergency, as an aside).  “Your shirt goes into your shirt pile.”

“Daddy, now you can hang up your pants, OK?”  She usually hands me a hanger and then goes and sits on the chair while I change.  I ask her about her day and if she was a good big sister.  Sometimes she’ll ask for some music and start dancing.  Sometimes she asks me where I was and if work was OK.  It’s nice quiet time for us.  I know the routine will fade away.  But I love that little slice of time with her so much.  I’m looking forward to a different routine with our youngest as well.  Or maybe the same one.

Geez, daddy-blogging sure is sappy.  🙂

Kids and dogs get in the way.

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Last week our second child turned 6 months old. So we have a 6 month old, a 3 1/2 year old and two dogs(see this post about downsizing for why we have two, rather than three). It is a full house and it completely gets in the way of being efficient.

Last night Mike took the dogs with him to pick up burritos and both of the girls fell asleep. I couldn’t believe it. I am alone. With the opportunity to do anything, I chose making the bed and a glass of wine. I forgot how easy making the bed is without a frisky puppy and an overzealous toddler playing parachute with each layer.  In the few moments of glorious silence my mind began to think about how time consuming and arduous the simplest tasks are.  Activities I used to take for granted now require organization and planning.  Whether you have children, aspire to do so, or just relish in the fact you will always be responsibility free I put together a list anyone can appreciate.

At Home:

1. Going to the bathroom. I never thought I would be the kind of girl who left the bathroom door open. With kids and dogs it is a necessity. Recently I closed the door and Lucy (our Maltese) started scratching within seconds, Bailey (our toddler) started banging on the door asking where I was and why I closed the door.

2. Heightened interest in bodily functions. Furthering #1 my home has become an “elimination check in”.  As if having dogs and kids in the bathroom with you isn’t bad enough, Bailey insists on knowing what type of excretion I am leaving. “Mommy, are you pooping or peeing or both? Let me see!!” If I blow my nose, “Mommy, did you have boogers”? The inquisition does not stop at me.  Bailey wants me to know when she poops, when Daddy poops, and checks to see if our baby has pooped or peed. It is mortifying and disgusting. Lately she has turned to the “tooting” (our acceptable word for ripping ass) inquisition and calls out anyone who discreetly passes gas.  Yesterday she told our neighbor that I am stinky and toot all the time.  Shameful.

3. Laundry. When Bailey turned 3 the multiple outfit changes began. She prefers to change her underwear after every bathroom visit and an entire ensemble change is necessary at least twice per day. Couple that with baby Michaela’s drool ridden onesies and we have a solid 2 loads of laundry per day. Doing laundry with a toddler is messy and inefficient — two words I abhor. The effort is there from her but the skills aren’t. Unfortunately by the time Bailey has acquired the skills to properly fold she will have no interest in doing so.

3. Cleanliness. I absolutely love a clean home. The smell of bleach turns me on, and clean floors is ecstasy. With kids and dogs both are impossible for more than one hour. I try so hard. But between Bailey’s scooter carving a dirt track and the dogs dragging whatever clings to their paws it will never happen.  Michaela moving to solid foods only adds to the funk on the floor. I have actually deemed floors clean when the dogs lick up the food the kids leave. Even worse? When I am in a hurry I just push the extra crumbs off the counter onto the floor so the dogs can help me.

4. Enjoyment of coffee. Prior to 9am I do the following: Feed dogs. Clean up dog poop. Feed baby. Clean up baby poop or pee. Make chocolate milk for toddler. Bottle for baby. Encourage poop and pee in toilet for aforementioned toddler. Return work emails. Attempt to clean kitchen and pick up toys from night prior. Conference call. Wash bottles…. you get the idea. Guess what? I make coffee and usually microwave it 2-3 times because I just don’t have time to drink it while it’s hot.

5. Personal Grooming. As a fairly high maintenance gal I have always carved out a large amount of time for “upkeep”. Prior to children my nightly ritual included a hair mask, face mask.. heck even rejuvenating gloves on a good night. I needed 30 minutes to brush, tweeze, moisturize, and decompress before bed. Fast forward 3 years and I am lucky if I get 3 minutes. My toddler micro manages every personal ritual I have to the point I have to make up stories to keep her at bay. I told her if she touches me when I spray tan her whole body will turn orange.  She thinks bronzer is fairy dust that can only be applied on holidays. Convincing her not to use my über expensive face cream as her body lotion is a lengthy argument.

In Public:

1. Coffee and restaurants.  The drive through is a life saver for a mom.  If you don’t have children, it may not have occurred to you that infants may finally be sleeping, toddlers are reading, and for a moment chaos is controlled. That being said, I get angry when the drive though line is long with one person in their car. Seriously?? If I am by myself I will gladly walk my latte driven ass into the Starbucks to order a coffee.

2. Nice restaurants. Before kids Mike and I would choose restaurants based on the food and wine and didn’t think about whether it was family friendly. Having children means fancy restaurants are a waste. Yep, I said it.  People are always telling me they take their kids to upscale restaurants and it’s great, the kids were well-behaved blah blah.  Fine dining is fabulous sans kids and this is why. My children are well dressed. My toddler is polite and charming. Guess what? She is still a toddler.  My idea of a fabulous dining experience includes multiple courses, invigorating conversation and a bottle (or two) of wine. I have never met small children who have a pallette for imported cheese and prefer to be silent for two hours.

3. Errands. Everyone has errands. I have always been a person of numerous errands on a weekly basis. Some of these are choice related. For example, I prefer Trader Joe’s for beverages and snacks, Farmers market for veggies and salsa and Ralph’s for our day-to-day essentials. My dry cleaner is great but I prefer a different alterations person. You get the idea. Doing errands with children takes FOREVER. Instead of running from place to place everything has to be an adventure. I listen to myself narrating the errands and I even convince myself: it sounds awesome. Couple that with the gear, diaper changes for the inevitable poop blowout, special surprises for being good and three stops will take all afternoon.

4. Meeting for coffee/lunch. I love meeting my girlfriends for breakfast. It is one of my favorite times to catch up and there is an energy and earnestness that comes from meeting up late morning.  But, coordinating the tiniest get together is a BEAST. Before kids, meeting for coffee or lunch was an after thought. Having kids completely changes the cavalier meet up. It takes coordination of a sitter/partner days in advance. If a partner isn’t involved then it costs a ton of money.  I recently told one of my best girlfriends the cost of us “lunching” and she was aghast — and that didn’t include the cost of the lunch itself.

5. Leisure anything. I am in a hurry every moment of my life. I don’t browse. I don’t stop for lunch with the exception of a sandwich to go. I tap my foot impatiently when the person in front of me chooses to be indecisive or holds up a line. My heart speeds up when someone causes a delay. I take it personally when someone causes and delay and want to say, “Don’t you know how much I have to do today? Hurry Up!!” I can’t help it; as a mom with a career someone ALWAYS needs something.

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Looking at this list, I can’t help but giggle.  Two of my dearest friends, Megan and Molly are always asking me what it’s like to be a mom….. when they read this they will surely rejoice they are without children.  What is crazy to me is how children can provide the biggest annoyance and a surge of happiness in a 2 minute period. Bailey was in the backseat today and was calling me. I turned around and she said, “Mommy, you are beautiful. I love you.” When our baby wakes and begins fussing I go into her room. As soon as she sees me she gives me the biggest smile. It melts me. I will take the chaos of my life any day.

Happy Mother’s Day to the fabulous moms who read our blog!

Hosting the Holidays

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It’s that time of year…

Christmas lights happily blinking from tress, Menorahs gleaming in windows and Kinara Candle Holders filled with 7 candles!

Fireplaces are warmly blazing across the country (except for my house… I am strictly forbidden to play with fire in my home. Ask Mike), alcohol is an accepted nightly ritual, and delicious treats are invading the kitchen.  The time of year to snuggle up with loved ones, and when friends and family come to stay- WAIT…. come to STAY?? Already?? EECK!!

Ahhh the holidays, everyone’s favorite and most dreaded time of year.  As we get older, have kids, or just move out of our one bedroom apartment our homes inevitably become the destination.  As local readers know, our San Diego location definitely encourages family and friends as a winter retreat.  Or, if you are like me your parents downsized their home in hopes you wouldn’t move back in for the 9th time. Regardless of why, this year may be the year you are hosting holidays.  And you may be worried. Or perhaps just running behind. I have been hosting holidays for the past 5 years, and people tell me I do a pretty decent job.  This month’s tip is to fake a fabulous home for hosting. My only warning is it may grant longer or more frequent visits. Remember, part of being an amazing hostess is setting boundaries with your guests. Perhaps my next tip series entry should be on how to be a great guest-?? 😉

Smell.  90% of success is smell.  I swear.  You have no idea how much you can fake just by having a home that smells nice.  We have two children and 3 dogs, so keeping a home smelling nice is HARD.  People say my house always smells great. If my house smells good, pretty much any house can smell fab.  I rely on three different smell devices to eradicate the stench of pee stains, diapers and overall nastiness.  Scentsy, plugins and carpet powder.  Scentsy (or the generic they sell at BBBeyond) is pretty cool and they seem to have enough fragrances to please any taste.  Be careful though, some of them are overwhelming.  I order online and then when the pellets of scent come in I cut them into threes. I think 1/3rd of one little pellet is perfect for the day.  You can find carpet powder for about $2.00 in the fragrance section. It is so easy and the smell lasts for a few days. If you don’t know what plugins are, you need to seriously reconsider the rock you are living under.  Plugins are saviors for bathrooms, but they have to be changed well before the oil is actually gone. I recommend every 2 weeks.

Floors. If you have carpet, then vacuum. There is nothing like vacuum lines to make a person think your home is spotless.  It takes 5 minutes and is so rewarding since the carpet lines boast cleanliness. If you have hard wood/laminate/granite floors, buy a swiffer.  In a perfect world, your floor is meticulously clean.  In a pinch, use a swiffer in the corners to give the illusion of clean floors.

Sleeping.  Do you have a guest room? A futon? A couch? It doesn’t matter what you have, but how you prepare it.  Take the time to buy bedding for your guests.  I have noticed people get too excited about aesthetics rather than quality. I promise, your guests don’t care if your sheets are the perfect taupe, but will notice if they are soft.  Places like Home Goods, Ross, and Marshalls offer high thread count sheets at discount prices. Typically the color is a bit off, but who cares? In addition, any discount store has great deals on mattress toppers.  It does not matter what type of mattress or futon you have, if you put a memory foam topper on it, your guests will be elated.  One other little gem? A sound machine. You can get them really cheap, and almost everyone who has stayed has used it and commented on it. We have a loud home with the dogs and the kids, but I think it is a great idea in most homes. Last, and I am sorry if I sound like Gwyneth Paltrow, but if you are blessed enough to have a guest room that isn’t near the kitchen, consider putting bottles of water in a basket.  I swear, I am not a pretentious snob peering down from my glass house. I am just an avid wine drinker and wake up in the middle of the night really thirsty. It is awkward, and a bit unsettling, to creep around someone’s house to find a glass of/bottle of water.  You aren’t together, a bit dizzy.. maybe embarrassed by the quantity of wine you ingested hours prior.. but I digress.  Water close to the sleeping domain is much appreciated.

Bathroom. All guests hopefully take showers. Take the time to make their bathroom experience enjoyable.  First, buy a set of matching guest towels. This is not the time to put out your holey, stained towels that should only be used for washing a car (who does that anymore except for my dad?) Again, the discount stores above have great deals – Don’t get hung up on color!! No one will ever remember the color, but will be so appreciative of the towels!! If you have a guest bathroom, stock it! The essentials will make your guests feel appreciated and at ease.  Go to Costco and buy the bulk toothbrushes/toothpaste and hand soap.  In addition, put basic medication in the drawers.  I put Pepto, Advil, and GasX in the cabinet.  I cannot tell you how many times the bathroom essentials are quietly absent after a visit!

Considerations.  I was a Vegetarian for almost 15 years. I was always anxious about going to other’s homes mainly because I was scared about food options and just wanted to fit in. My last houseguest didn’t drink alcohol.  My dad only likes vanilla creamer. My Mother in law likes to have instant iced tea around.  It is just a downer for everyone when your welcome spread is beer and chicken wings, when your guests are vegetarian recovering alcoholics. While we are discussing food let’s discuss your kitchen.  Food and cleanliness are the only tips you need to remember.  Your kitchen should not be the place to put a bunch of clutter.  People will think your house is clean just by having clean countertops. Most of this can be accomplished by eradicating stacks of mail, the pile of “pending” items to deal with, etc.  Put the dishes in the dishwasher.   Clean counters make you look like you have a clean house.

On to food. Keep in mind, your eating schedule may not coincide with your houseguests. Before anyone visits, I make a snack run, if I don’t already have the basics on hand.  Basics are (unless the aforementioned considerations are involved) cheese, crackers, some type of fruit, some type of meat and bread.  You can survive just about any time of day or night with these items.  I like the assorted cheese platters offered at any store, and light salami.  They look great on a plate, are filling, and sandwich ready.  Plus, your guests will be grateful for the reassurance of easy snacking at any hour.

Lastly, ASK.  Last month I found a great answer to something and told Mike about it.  He said something so simple, but it has stuck with me.  He said,”Sometimes, you just have to ask questions, and then genuinely listen”. DEEP Man, Deep.  It was just so easy.  Since then, I have been trying to listen more and have had some pretty awesome results.

Best! xo Mari

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