Tag Archives: family

new blog post: disappointment

i wrote his awhile ago and thought i’d put it up.

i haven’t said it yet, not sure if i will, it’s probably the most powerful phrase a parent can wield on their child, more painful than any spanking, more thought provoking than anything a raised voice could deliver, and a useful tool to get a person to actually think about their actions.

what am i talking about?

the monotoned uttering of “i’m disappointed in you.” the most effective delivery is the following: you must hold your jaw so that your teeth are only a quarter of an inch apart, speak from your mouth using your lips, almost a whisper – forcing the sound from your throat. of course a dead eyed stare upon delivery helps as well. when someone says this to you, there is nothing you can do. you can’t argue with it. walking away in quiet contemplation is about all you got. do you remember the first time you heard it? well, perhaps not the first time, but i guarantee that more than a few of you know the situation that caused a masterful delivery of that phrase by someone in your life.

disappointment. see, i think all of us seek the approval of an adult in our lives, the approval of someone we look up to, we all want to hear the opposite of disappointment, we want to make them proud. perhaps it was an adult early on, and now you seek the approval of someone else. i know that when my girls grow up i will want them to be proud of me, to see me as a person that they can count on, but i think their is something profound in letting a loved one down. not that i aim for it, it may have looked that way sometimes, but when you disappoint someone you are not the only one forced to contemplate the expectations. the person who is disappointed had better be examining their vision of you, what they want to see in you, and ultimately your relationship. we can, sometimes unknowingly, load loved ones with unrealistic and ridiculous expectations, we do it to ourselves too. i believe in high standards, i live my life expecting a lot from myself and those that i am around – i know this.

disappointing someone is not something that you purposefully do, it is something that someone thinks you have done to them. there are times we need to be more aware of those around us and understand our role in their lives, but there are times when people in our lives need to be forced to understand that we are not purposefully hurting them, but doing what we feel is right, and perhaps that shouldn’t lead to disappointment, but a further understanding of one another’s lives.


new blog post: peering at sugar mountain through binoculars.

“oh, to live on sugar mountain
with the barkers and the colored balloons,
you can’t be twenty on sugar mountain
though you’re thinking that
you’re leaving there too soon,
you’re leaving there too soon.”

these lyrics, this song, sugar mountain by neil young (who incidentally wrote it at the age of 19), went through my head on more than one occasion today. it was seventy degrees, the sun was out, and there was a slight breeze letting us know that it’s still february. the girls and i headed up rainbow mountain to find unicorns and listen for bears. we accomplished both of our missions – the unicorns were bouncy without horns (some might call them horses) and the bear snores were either testing sounds from the arsenal or thunder that never made rain – though i kept the threat of possible rain in my back pocket in the event that the girls budged at leaving time. “come on, come on, gotta beat the rain” – gets them moving faster than “we gotta get home for lunch”.

between hornless unicorns.

a.’s confidence climbing rocks, h.’s interest in discovering what’s under every rock, and the other explorations that the girls went on today – not totally guided by me – helped me realize that they are climbing sugar mountain, they are in the foothills, they are on their way to fantastical findings that will form, frighten and fascinate them, they are still allowed on sugar mountain – and will be for quite some time.

i lived on sugar mountain, i think i dug my heels in the whole way down, but realized that we all have to move on at some point. the beautiful thing about having children is getting to sit on ‘sometimes sour, hopefully spicy, and lightly sweetened with stevia’ hill, pull out our binoculars, and catch glimpses of a pure cane time in our lives.

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letting our kids feel, and letting them know it’s real.

i was cleaning up after lunch (a chore i enjoy – setting the stage for round two in the day, a fresh start) and a. and h. were in a.’s room playing prior to quiet time – which is mostly nice, but there are the times i come in to ‘break up the party’ and am met with a myriad of reasons why they should have quiet time together. ‘dad, we will totally play quiet and i will share my leapster i promise.’ ‘no, to your own room girls’ (when i write and say that i feel really old – especially the way i say “girrrrls”) ‘dad, how about we play in here for a little bit, and if we are doing well we can keep playing together or go to our own rooms’ she looks up with a smile, knowing she has just played me at my own game. “no, come on guys let’s go” my tone flatter, my eyes losing their ‘this is cute’ smile. then: they up the ante, i get stern, they hug and kiss a few hundred times – their love enhanced by the fight against a common enemy, h. finally goes to her own room, i sit on the sofa, ten minutes later she is coming out of her room with a ‘rooster in the oven’ (euphemism for ‘poop in the diaper’), we change her diaper (it’s the humane thing to do) and she goes back to her room. i then have anywhere between ten minutes and two hours to ‘do things around the house’ (in quotes only because there is little to no consistency with how i use that time – probably best gauged off of my bejeweled blitz score).

spinning on the moon.

so, during this ‘pre-quiettime play’ i usually don’t notice the noises they are making, unless it is ‘the cry’ – you know, the one that they aren’t faking, the one that comes from the source of the pain and out the mouth, the one we say ‘it better be’ but hope we never hear. as they play, my ears are filled with my own grunts, the garbage disposal, clanging of dishes, and thoughts that range from the talent of plumbers to whether ryan braun is innocent. but, this day the noise that came from a.’s room was different, best described as a wail, a heart-felt, stomach to throat to mouth moan and cry, the sound of her soul coming out of her mouth, a child feeling deep. i walked in, knowing she was hurting and not hurt, to find her holding a picture of her and her friend from back home. not just holding, but pressing to her chest, trying to make him appear in her heart. the sobs were broken up by “i want my l., l. i just want my l.” over and over again. i held her, i think i said it would be alright, but mostly held her and let her feel. i love that little girl. my goodness, she feels. i hope that i or the world never strips that from her. yes, she is four, i could down play the whole thing, and tell her to move on, chalk it up to the irrational crazy emotions of a four-year old – ‘nope’, as h. would say, i want our children to feel. it’s not an easy road to feel that deeply, i know, i think we all know, but being able to express, expose and delve into that type of feeling will help her better relate to the world around her – i think. yes, we must teach children to regulate their emotions, but first we must teach them that it is okay to have and show them.

i think this looks cool.

this picture was taken in the state capital building – montgomery, alabama.


pictures from a gray day in montgomery





extremely loud incredibly close. part two.

celery. we recently brought this wonderfully crunchy cradle for soy butter back into the house (it wasn’t ‘kept out’ for any reason). it got me thinking about brent celek, philadelphia eagle’s tight end, and then of course i thought about tom selleck, and invariably these thoughts led me to the vision of a piece of celery that looks like tom selleck. anyone with the ability to make this vision a reality? i would be forever in your debt.

critics, critical, constructive criticism – more words on my “c” journey. it seems that being critical, rather than accepting (or creating our own) has become the approach/reaction upon discovering something new. it goes like this – a company comes out with a new product (director with a new movie). first adopters say ‘yah I got it, it’s cool, but…’ then others get it/see it and say ‘yah some nice features, but…’, then the world adopts it/watches it, and the first adopters say ‘it was better back in the day’ and everyone is using it happily, but no one wants to admit they like it until years later when it’s ironic and cool to be retro. how’s that for being critical?

i read three reviews of ‘extremely loud incredibly close’ – all were not glowing the way i have about this movie, which is fine, but then i went to the comment section of the reviews – you know, the area where us ‘common folk’ can weigh in on the topic at hand, where somehow, even if the discussion starts with a debate about hand soaps, it turns into a name calling feast for r’s and d’s – and as i scanned the comment sections this time, expecting to read raves about the film, i ran into a number of complaints, the number one being that it wasn’t at all like the book, that the ‘film adapter’ missed huge parts, and that the actors were not what they thought of in the book and blah, blippity, blah, blah. no. movies, that are based on books, are not going to be the book – things will be left out, the characters you saw in your mind will look that way on film ten percent of the time, dialogue between characters may be different, and so on – if you can’t handle this – hire someone to read you the books (in the comfort of your own home) and use hand puppets, that you create, to bring ‘your book’ to life. sorry, i cringe when i hear ‘it wasn’t like the book’.

now, criticism and being critical are important. to me, those words have undo negative connotations. being critical means that you are examining something – not putting it down. the problem i see is that people act like they are being critical, and in reality they are either 1) proving how much they know about something by being a critic of it 2) they don’t like anything that is mainstream (i fall into this camp from time-to-time) or 3) they are angry about everything and use products and movies to unleash their pent up aggression that spawns from being the last one on their block to get the nintendo entertainment system (nes). ‘yah i heard mario was stupid anyway’

i think about this with the girls, family members, and friends too. i can be critical, mostly constructive, but sometimes i am critical of things that are inherently who they are – do we need to point out everything in the name of honesty? no. be critical of things and people, but do it in a way that is offering something other than your ability to use google or misdirected angst for being stood up at prom. or write a blog and unleash all your anger and thoughts in a semi-coherent way – leaving others confused and some inspired.

i’m not sure what i am trying to say. i guess it’s more of an observation. it seems as though we have all become critics, and perhaps in that shift, we are failing to enjoy things for what they are. food (holy bologna does food get criticized), technology, sports, movies, everything – we are critics. perhaps my struggle is this – being a critic implies that you are an observer, and i want to be a participant – i want to be criticized. i want to criticize myself. it’s how we grow.

so, around in another circle i go – hope you are all well.


extremely loud and incredibly close. part one.

this is part one to what may be a three-part posting about my reaction to this film. i don’t discuss the movie in detail, so no spoiler.

we went to a movie last night. it’s interesting how we come to be exposed to certain music, literature (why isn’t there a cool word for music like there is for books), or movies (‘cinematatic experiences’ as i like to call them – and push my fake glasses back up my nose). i would say seventy-five percent of my exposure to these three portholes of ‘soul oxygen’ are introduced from a ‘trusted source’ (yes ‘trusted source’ – so much easier to say family member or friend, but ‘trusted source’ has weight – right? like i have a team of people working to find new information for me.), ten percent comes from magazines or on-line sources (definitely not always to be trusted) and wait, *whispers to self* seventy plus ten is eighty, eighty minus one hundred is… seventeen percent. (sorry I’m practicing in case anyone asks me to ‘walk them through the math’, what a funny thing to ask someone, likes it’s going to change their manipulation of the numbers. “oh you want me to ‘walk you through the math’, darn, um, well, *whispers to self – loud enough to be heard* two plus twenty carry the eight, so, six. yes, i have six sheep.” too funny) back to where I was going (where are we going?) twenty percent of my exposure is from blind luck. yes, just stumbling onto something. i found nellie mckay that way, if you haven’t heard her music – you should – now i’m one of your percentages of exposure. i was at the library looking through cds, the cover looked interesting – it was just her looking happy in a red jacket, i listened to it, and have since passed it on to others. you’re welcome nellie, which you have to say mckay after, or people think you’re ‘repin’ the lou’, and who but a few could blow through a reed for that city. just kidding – a fine place. just a little sports rivalry, i wanted to work mr. reed into this post, and didn’t want to make a silly ‘hot in herre‘ reference.

breath of air.

spoon man. yes, i'm up to four.

i ‘stumbled on’ a book a few years back called “extremely loud, incredibly close” by jonathan safran foer, and it moved me. it made an impression, so much so that i had to ‘trade it’ to a family member i rarely see, and don’t remember how or when we exchanged it, for one of his other books “everything illuminated” which was also turned into a movie. we went to see the ‘film adaptation’ (sorry my fake glasses were sliding down my nose again and needed a reason to be nudged up) of “extremely loud incredibly close” last night.

my goal is not to write a review or ruin the movie – if you have read the book- or seen the movie, then you already know what i know, and you tell others to read the book or see the movie. see, my goal is to advocate for this movie – because i want everyone to cry. yes, for those of you who don’t know me, i am an emotional person. our wedding, the girls first days of day care, the wind blowing east, are all lip quivering, shaky voice experiences for me. that being said, i have never seen so many people leave a theatre in tears. it was awesome, and inspiring. something happens when you become a parent, or have parents, something happens when you are human, your view of the world changes. (not all people are humans) you start to see everything through the lens of someone who has a shit load of responsibility – to put it bluntly. you kind of matter more than you did, and this understanding makes you more vulnerable to be a crier at a movie. i know, some people cry inside and don’t outwardly show emotions, i’m cool with that, and can see through the flesh on their cheeks. i think what makes me emotional in situations that i observe (movies, t.v. shows, or airport drop offs – your welcome for clarifying) is that i put myself in their place. i find something i identify with, and then create a landscape in my mind where all the people in my field of vision are suddenly ones i know and i see myself moving in front of me – stay with me – and i feel. simply put. i allow myself to feel. guess some of that may be empathy.

i think we were twenty minutes deep in the movie and i had already wiped my eyes, put my pointer finger on my eyebrow and pinky to my mouth (try it so you have the full picture) in an attempt to raise the top of my eye, causing a bit of pain, and making it easier to not turn into a total mess. the reason for my, and r.’s, emotional response? we saw some of our relationships with our girls, specifically a. – only because of age – in the characters, and i suddenly was watching a film of memories and couldn’t get my head around not being around, more specifically, not having them in my life – not being in theirs. i’m welling up as I write this. it’s something we can all think about, something that we can all gain perspective from – what if ‘they’ or ‘i’ were gone, as in dead. what would i miss? what would i leave? what do we do during the days, hours, minutes that we are together that they carry with them as indelible images? i identified with the dad in the movie’s quirkiness. we all have it. it’s called individuality. it’s what separates us from others, it’s what makes us, well, us. we can forget to expose that sometimes, or forget how much of it is being observed by our children, and the importance of it is insane. sharing quirkiness, or in other words, being ourselves, gives others a chance to share theirs, and with kids, that is of paramount importance. express and don’t be afraid to be what and who you are – a simple trite message, but one we need to remember, one that, as we age, is easier to forget. being yourself, by the way, is not just clothes, music and slang, it’s the way you smell the lid of the soy butter container and lick the spoon. it’s the things your loved ones remember when you’re gone, it’s your impression. share it.

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