20 December, 2009

We are Packed

For the first time in the history of our family we were packed nearly 24 hours before our departure time. I think other people live this way all the time. Those are probably the same people who have centerpieces, and welcome mats.

I have decided that I will make a checklist for our weekend Tahoe trips so I can experience more of the peace that comes with being all zipped up this many hours before we leave.

I am still trying to finish my work, but it is looking like I might still have some to do Monday night. The good news is that Honolulu is 3 hours earlier, so I will gain more time to finish. Just occurred to me I should stop writing here and get reading over there.

Next stop The Royal Hawaiian. Maybe I'll post from here:

19 December, 2009

Hurry Up and Celebrate...go go go go go

  • Sort suitcases and realize that even after purging we have enough for each member of the family to have three of their own.. including the dog. We keep buying new luggage because the old ones are worn out, but we don't get rid of the first ones.
  • color hair (me only) again. and again when that color is no good. and probably one more time because in my quest to save money (hello $250 at the salon? whatever.) I have now spent 8 hours and $100.
  • clean up all of the Christmas cookie mess. Did I really use 40 cookie cutters?
  • make bacon, because everything is better with bacon.
  • send husband for haircut. Barber needs a weed-whacker.
  • buy disposable gloves for all of the nasty things I must deal with in a small airplane bathroom.
  • make Lucy try on all of the clothes I bought her in July praying they would still fit in December, because there is no place to buy clothes for 80 degree weather in December if you live in Northern California.
  • Print out Christmas card address list and make address labels. Christmas cards are being FedExed to Hawaii because the company screwed up and mailed me 500 coupons for a diner giveaway in Minnesota instead of my Christmas cards. Don't forget to bring the stamps. Have forgotten where I put stamps. Happens every single year.
  • buy birthday card for good friend... fancy pants dinner party tonight.
  • clean up the dog poop on the side yard.
  • clean out the car.
  • complete two days of work in one day or plan on using laptop at MaiTai bar on Monday.
  • brush my teeth
  • try on every summery outfit I own, lament lack of discipline in sticking to exercise regimen, pack clothes even if they are a bit snug. They will magically fit in Hawaii, and I am not buying anything else for this trip.
  • Pack Christmas stockings. Santa must not forget the children.
  • Be thankful we have friends who will drive us to the airport at 6:15am on Monday morning.
  • clean house
  • take out trash
  • make to-do list for house sitter
  • remember to take the chargers for the phones, the camera, the laptops, the wi-fi card.
  • remember to smile because my life is wonderful.

14 December, 2009


Lucy just spotted a shattered glass in the china cabinet. It's really surprising it's taken this long to have something break in there considering the fragile contents, and the fact that the china cabinet is still standing at all is rather amazing since it is seems to be in the direct path of most children who visit the house, and is on Jake's twirly evening path when he starts doing laps around the upstairs.

The china cabinet has been in my family for years and years. I think I am at least the fourth generation to have it in my house. It's filled with tea cups from my great, great aunts, and old keys Descartes and I found in a flea market in Nice, and a dashboard hula girl I use to determine whether we've had an earthquake (is she shimmying?), and a raku duck from Canada and the champagne glasses we used to toast our future on our wedding day.

It was one of those beautiful Flutes that must have fallen over last night when Jake used the china cabinet as a football training sled. It fell on to a rocks glass of unknown origin, and cracked the smaller glass into multiple pieces of jagged expensive lead crystal.

I found the key to the old lock in a bowl on top of the cabinet and opened up the doors. Lucy was so excited to see inside. I showed her the artifacts of my life while she held the little key to the cabinet. She ran her little fingers over hand blown glass, and we talked about the words "mementos" and "keepsakes". We talked about champagne and raku ducks, and caring for things so we can pass them on to the next generation. Then Lucy dropped the key into a little toy bucket that happened to be on the floor near the cabinet.

"We can put the key in there mom, and Jake will never find it because he's not smart."

My heart shattered. I got tears in my eyes and a lump in my stomach.

She knew by my face she had done something wrong. She immediately asked to "stop playing glasses and eat some pancakes." I asked her to come sit with me for a minute to talk about what she had said and she didn't want to. She was visibly uncomfortable.

I wasn't angry, I just wanted to talk with her. I know children are mean to each other all the time. My brother called me stupid and ugly, and many other nasty things when we were tweens and though it is extremely rare now, I'm sure he's called me a bitch more than once in the last ten years, and I know he loves me. I know we say mean things about each other all the time, but Lucy has never made a comment about Jake's disabilities except to tell Grandma once, "Uhm, hims doesn't talk so much."

So I convinced her to sit in my lap, and I asked her to not ever call her brother stupid again. She got very defensive and said, "I did not say he was stupid, I said he wasn't smart!" Which shows you exactly how I heard the words. Which of course sent me down a rabbit hole worrying that I had actually added negative vocabulary..blah blah blah.

and so I gave her a quick couple sentences... "We don't always know how much Jake knows because he has a hard time communicating with us, so it's possible, indeed likely, that he understands a lot more than we think." and "There are going to be people out in the world who are not going to be kind to our family or to Jake because they will think he's different, but you are supposed to be on his team, so please don't ever say words like that again."

and innocently she said, "I'm sorry mommy, I just wanted to hide the key so Jake wouldn't get into the cabinet and hurt himself on the glass."

07 December, 2009


We had a big weekend after a sort of harried week, running around trying to prepare for this big weekend. We called banks, moved money around, photocopied and faxed papers and made a zillion phone calls. We oiled, smogged and waxed and wiped, then packed and drove to Tahoe, and everything went exactly as it should.

Our family loves a good adventure. We plan well, and try to account for most contingencies, but the story is always better when things go wrong, as long as those things do not interrupt sleep or safety. In an effort to thwart those particular types of problems, and with great hope that we will be able to have Jake and Lucy experience as much of this country (continent?) as we can help them experience, in spite, and a bit because of disability, Descartes researched, and we just bought this weekend...

AdventureVanthis really is a photo of our van with Lake Tahoe in the background.

Sorry that this "MonsterVan", as little Hawk called it, has only this small picture to post so far. I have yet to photograph the entire thing myself. This van will allow us to go camping with Jake and know that he will be safe at night, locked in tucked away and cozy. It has 4-wheel drive, so we can set up camp in locations that are more off the beaten path, which generally means farther away from other people and their cars. We can keep Jake safe in the woods, near bodies of water, cliffs and rocks, but it is nearly impossible to protect him from careless drivers in campgrounds, or the evil scowls from neighboring campers when he is hooting and hollering with happiness.

AdventureVan is gigantic, seats 12, has a pop up top to provide a sleeping area, and provides our family with the comfort of being able to carry everything we need.

Descartes spent a lot of time researching these types of vans. He actually told me he started to look when Jake was only 3 or 4, after he realized that our family's camping experience would probably need to look a bit different than what camping looked like when he was a child. The first thing we had to do was trade our beloved LandCruiser, but I know it was time to let it go (notice the mileage on the odometer over there). We took some great trips in that car, and it was the first major purchase Descartes and made together after we were married. I stepped outside the house just as the new owner of the Cruiser was starting the engine, and I was suprised to have my eyes well up. I know it's going to a good home, a Daddy and his two beautiful girls. We all ended-up with what we needed.

As soon as the papers were all signed and keys traded, we put in all of the car seats, noting how easily they all fit across the bench seats. We put Wolf, Hawk and Lucy across the back, Jake had his own row and Jaster and Demanda sat in the front bench. We enjoyed lunch at one of our favorite Mexican food places, Taqueria Jalisco, where the seating is easy and the customer service is kind and the food is delicious. Then we made Descartes drive us all around and all the way to Red Lake
Jaster and Descartes did a happy dance on the banks after they discovered that the lake is indeed frozen over, and already shows signs of ice fishing, with 3 or 4 holes drilled already. I smiled happily because the children were all asleep (except Jake of course). A happy, driving, napping van. Descartes guided our crew back to South Lake through a snowstorm.

Our first big trip will probably be to the Grand Canyon, but we will put the van to good use before then. I'm hoping for a grownups only trip to the wine country. It needs to be vacuumed and spit shined a bit, but it is so cool and the kids love it, and my husband is happy. The kind of happy that I haven't seen sustained in a while, and it looks good on him.

We made a good choice.
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