Monthly Archives: April 2014

Daisies

When my husband and I were first dating, for my birthday, Scott surprised me with a dozen white roses. Boy did I love those roses. And I was falling hard for that boy. He got me a dozen roses on our honeymoon and another dozen on our first anniversary. He’s a “go big or go home” kind of guy. I think he thought that was the only way that giving flowers should be done.

As time went on, as the story often goes, life happened. We got busy with school and jobs and kids and cars and mortgages and everything life throws. I didn’t receive the beautiful bouquets for some time. Which was fine–because for so many of those early years we were poor students with no extra spending money.

A few months ago, Scott was having lunch with a client (we weren’t students anymore) who asked him, “When’s the last time you brought your wife flowers?” Scott hummed and hawed a bit and then said, “It’s been a while.” The man replied, “Go get her some.”

Scott followed his orders and came home with a lovely bouquet. I was surprised and touched by the gesture. Almost every week since then, he’s brought home flowers. They haven’t been the big, expensive bunch of roses. Instead, he’s often come home with a simple group of colorful lilies or daisies. Just this weekend he came home from getting a haircut with a little bunch of daisies for me. It costs him less than $3 for those daisies. (I know because I do the finances.) But oh how well spent that $3 is! In that simple gesture, I know that my husband is thinking of me, wanting to make me smile.

Sometimes we think that only the grand, sweeping gestures matter when, really, the little things mean just as much, or more. I always loved the roses. But it’s amazing how much a simple bundle of daisies, given for no reason on a rainy Saturday afternoon, can communicate about love.

What have you done to love your spouse today?

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Unplugged

It happens to be Earth Day today, so I thought I’d write a little something about what a beautiful planet we have. That was especially easy to notice on our spring break trip this year, which we spent camping in Malibu, California.

For five nights, our family of five slept together in a tent. I was a little concerned about how everyone would sleep, and whether the sand and dirt would be bothersome. It turned out that the sand and dirt were most entertaining, and we all slept like logs after big days at the beach. And there’s something special about being so close together.

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Leo Carrillo State Beach is the most unique beach I’ve ever seen. Because of how the rock walls curve in and out, several small beaches are accessible for anyone who takes the time to find them. We preferred one that was a ways down from the main beach. For much of the time, we were the only people there. The scenery and animal life was spectacular. I’ve never before seen sea caves and rock tunnels that actually take you from one beach to another. I think I was just as enthralled (or more) than our kids. Once we got through the rock wall, we came to an area of tide pools where literally thousands of sea anemones and mussels were thriving.

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In addition to the tide pool life, we saw whales and dolphins off the coast, and one morning when I was out alone for a walk along the beach, I came across what I thought at first was a dog sitting on the rocks scratching it’s ear. As I got closer to the golden, furry creature, I realized it was a seal! So I sat down about five feet from it, just me and the seal. I watched him for ten minutes or so, thinking he might hop off his rock and head back to the sea. He was content just soaking in the morning rays. There’s nothing quite like hanging out on the beach alone with a seal. I could have reached out and touched it. But I didn’t. Do seals bite?

I wish I could have taken a picture of that seal, but my phone (with its camera) had run out of batteries, and we had no way of charging it.  Though that was disappointing, there’s something to be said for the screen-free life. No music, no podcasts, no calendar, no schedule.  My morning walks offered blissful escape from the commotion of regular life. For about an hour every morning, while everyone else slept, I walked up and down the coast. I looked for shells, discovered starfish and sea slugs, watched the ocean, and had some time with my thoughts. How rarely that seems to happen in life. I’m committed to making it happen more often.

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Perhaps my favorite part of the trip was the fact that we had each other’s undivided attention for five days out in nature. No video games or television shows for the kids. No phone calls or meetings. Just time together. Scott and I much of the time just sat next to each other on the beach and watched our kids laugh together, run from the waves, and dig holes in the sand for hours. We are, after all, each other’s best friends. With so much time together, that was easier to remember than when we are all running around in the “real world” of work, school, sports, and the stuff of life. I guess it takes these moments where we unplug from everything where we can finally focus on what matters most.

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Escape

Recently Scott and I went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I loved the story of a man who finally decides to start living his life outside his own head. As I sat in the theater, Scott and I listened to the theme song “Escape,” sung by Jack Johnson. I knew the tune, but it was the first time I’d ever really listened to the lyrics.

The song is about a man who is lying in bed one night looking at the personal ads, when he reads one from a woman who is looking for someone who likes pina coladas and dancing in the rain. The man considers for a moment his long-term relationship and the fact that he and his gal have slumped into the “same old, old routine.” So he answers the ad. He wants to escape too, just like she does.

As he walks into the bar to meet this exotic new lady, the man finds her and realizes “It was his own lovely lady.” They laugh and say, “I never knew . . .”

Sometimes the thing we are yearning for is sitting there right there in front of us. We think we need to escape our situation to feel better, to feel alive, when really, we might just need to mix things up a little.

For spring break this year, Scott and I are taking our little family beach camping. This is new for me. I love the ocean, so I figure that with a little, sand, water, and sunshine we have the perfect cocktail for a fun family getaway. I hope. As long as the dirt, wetness, and far-from-pillowtop sleeping arrangements don’t get in the way. If nothing else, we are stepping outside our old, old routines and trying something new. That should be enough for one family escape, with or without the pina coladas.

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Planting a seed

Our six-year-old daughter, Ellie, had her first cello lesson on Friday. We were excited to get her started in music lessons of some kind, and after lots of thinking and listening to different music, and making a chart of pros and cons to three different instruments, she decided cello was her pick.

The lesson, and the cello, I found adorable. The teacher was wonderful–she talked softly to Ellie and got down on her level, looked in her eyes and immediately referred to the new instrument we were renting from her as “Ellie’s cello.” She even had cards with little pictures to help her remember what songs and rhythms to practice. All the doubts I had about driving 25 minutes downtown for this teacher evaporated. I was already in love.

But it’s a heavy cost in terms of money, time, and the inevitable struggles over daily practice. Why do we do it?

I asked Scott that question as I was mulling it over this morning. With a career as a wealth manager, his mind went straight to investments. “We are investing in the future,” he said. “Something small can turn in to something great, with time.” Then he mentioned his mother.

We spent yesterday at my in-laws’ house. Scott’s parents have five kids, and through the years, each of those kids has grown into an incredible adult. They are well educated, they are kind, they are responsible, they are fun, they are musical. Of course, no one starts life with all these talents and abilities. I think of how Scott’s mother must feel watching these grown children of hers, and I think of all the years of investment–one music lesson, one practice session, one hour of homework, one heart-to-heart, one day at a time.

Like so many things in life, when we plant the tiny seed of something new, we hope for something great to grow in time. For our family, it’s the hope that, one day, each of our children will be able to make beautiful music. We just planted a seed for Ellie. Now we’ll see if we can make it grow.

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He shoots, he scores

Monday night we got free tickets to take our family to the Jazz game. Our girls had never been before, and we were all excited for a night out. We sat down at the top of the arena and looked down on the players. They were so small, and the giant screen in front of us was so . . . giant. I don’t think the girls were paying as much attention to the actual game as they were to the dancers, the gift-giving blimp, and the little bags of popcorn I brought in my purse.

Third quarter got ugly. Our players weren’t shooting well. We were fouling left and right. We were even missing our free throw shots. I told Scott “This isn’t looking good.” He smiled as the girls were climbing all over him, clamoring for turns to be tickled. He offered to take them for a quick walk around. Zach and I stayed to watch, since he was into the game. He was cheering out “D-fence,” as the jumbo-tron encouraged, but we gradually fell further and further behind. I was looking at the clock, feeling like maybe this hadn’t been the best idea to keep our kids up so late. Especially if we were going to lose. (I know–terrible attitude, right?).

A few minutes later Scott came back with the girls. In their hands was a giant bowl of ice cream. Cookie dough and Moosetracks–my favorite. I had to smile as everyone huddled around and dug in to the bowl with their own personal plastic spoon. Scott doesn’t even eat dessert (hasn’t for years) but he seemed to get as much joy out of watching us as we got consuming it. The night had been redeemed.

We didn’t win that game–not really even close. But as we were walking home I asked Ellie how she like her first Jazz game. She smiled at me and said “I didn’t even want to leave!” She didn’t care at all that our team was shooting terribly that night. She had her family, and a fun outing, and part of a big bowl of ice cream. Who really needs anything more?

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