Friday, January 30, 2009

Transcendent beauty

January. I love this month. I love the color of blue in the evenings, I refer to it as a "winter blue" you can only see during this time of year just before darkness sets in. I love watching Orion twinkling each night above the mountain ridge out our south windows. I love the ice crystals that sparkle on top of the snow in the sunlight. The newness of the year, the clean, crisp air, and especially the silence of the snow. What's not to love?

Thursday morning after I packed up my ski gear and dropped the kids off for school, I began my weekly ascent up Big Cottonwood canyon for what I knew would be one of the most beautiful days this year. Not only was it going to be an amazing day, but the drive up the canyon that early was truly a moving experience. I don't think I've ever seen the mountains, the snow laden pine trees, meandering streams, and rising sun more lovely. It felt like a winter wonderland, and when I drove the famous "S" curve and faced west for just a moment to glance at the canyon walls illuminated by the morning sun, it literally brought tears to my eyes. I checked the time and realized this unparalleled beauty is only 15 minutes away and wondered why in the world don't I drive up here more often!? I almost wished I were snowshoeing or cross-country skiing rather than downhill - just to take it all in . . . the complete stillness of the canyon on such a day.

I mentioned my drive to a fellow skier and she told me she had the same experience - we described it as almost spiritual. There is something to be said about noticing the beauty around us, truly drinking it in, and feeling deeply touched. What a place, what a morning . . . so I choose to write about it because it moved me, and reminded me of the respect and reverence we feel when we turn ourselves over the transcendent beauty that is all around us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Properly embarrassing my 8th grader . . .

The following are a few things I have learned through experience that are completely and utterly off limits when you are around your 13-year old boy and his friends or classmates:

1. NEVER sing along to songs in the car . . . it's bad enough when it's show tunes, but don't even try to stay synchronized to Coldplay.

2. NEVER show up to your child's Jr. High school unannounced - you always need a legitimate reason for crossing the threshold into the valley of hormones.

3. Don't attempt ANY semblance of a conversation with the other kids in the carpool, especially if they are 9th graders. "Hi, how are you?" is all that is allowed, don't you dare try to talk "powder" with the cool skier in the backseat. Your job is strictly a taxi service - stay invisible!

4. Don't use the word "jam session" when asking his friends if they are going to get together and play electric guitar.

5. Please don't yell, "HEY FRIEND!" down the Jr. High hallway if you happen to see a good friend whose son also attends the school . . . oh, and after yelling, you're apparently not allowed to run up and give the said friend a big hug.

6. Don't mess up and use the word "play-date" when inviting your teenage son's friends to come "hang out." Oh, and don't ask, "would you like a treat?" when they are rummaging through the pantry looking for some grub.

7. Absolutely under ANY circumstance try and run your fingers through your son's hair with the lame attempt to discreetly push it out of their eyes in front of his peers . . . major points lost for that one.

8. DON'T attempt giving your kid a giant hug in front of all their friends, and don't take it personally if they turn into a steel beam if you try :-).

OK, that said, yesterday was the pinnacle of embarrassment for Ryan since I broke at least four of the rules within a 15 minute period. First of all, I did have a good reason to go to the school - 9th grade registration and information session about high school credits for next year. That's it - I was to show up, keep my mouth shut, fill out the paper work, and leave as discreetly as I came. Are you kidding?? This is my opportunity, one of the rare moments when I can watch Ryan in action . . . see all his cute friends he hangs out and watch with interested the interaction between my son and the other 8th graders.

Well, first off, I arrive just in time to give him a hug and offer a cheery "hello" and "what's everyone been up to lately?" to all his friends. Now Ryan starts rolling his eyes and shooting me the "please mom, don't embarrass me" look. This is a delicate rule - I can ask these things when it's just the "guys," but you throw some cute girls in the picture, then you're not allowed to speak. So, we get seated at a table by the entrance and I just can't keep my hands off my son's hair - really, I just need to see his face, he's overdue for a trim! I quickly realize I'm breaking another rule by the look he gives me "the look" accompanied by the, "Mom, don't touch my hair" under his breath. I'm really trying here, but apparently losing some points. So, we begin and the counselor begins asking questions, which I didn't realize were intended for the kids, and accidentally blurt out one of the answers. . . "MOM - shhhh, don't answer the questions!"

OK, I figure I've done about as much harm as could be done and tell myself not to say or do anything else to embarrass Ryan. Well, it just happens that the next minute my Costco soul-mate and friend, Jodelle, frantically enters the room late. Ryan and I are at the first table by the door, her son Bowen is across the room on another table (dang those counselors and pre-determined seating, or we would have all been together). I offer an excited wave and try to discreetly point to where her table is while the counselor is talking.

You have to know Jodelle, she's not what most people would consider "discreet" when excited about something. She waves to us, offers a whispered "hello friend," then suddenly stops (in the front of the classroom), takes off her coat to reveal that we are wearing the EXACT same sweater from Coscto - same color, everything. Then she points to her sweater, points back at mine and blurts out: "COSTCO BABY!!" That did it . . . all the kids (and their parents) are looking at me (and Ryan) and back at Jodelle while she scurries to her table. I have NEVER seen Ryan's face so red and really, he was beyond embarrassment. He literally couldn't speak - the look on his face said it all . . . "are you kidding me? . . . that DID NOT just happen . . . you and Jodelle are NEVER showing up at my school together ever AGAIN!"

That, my friends is the only way to fully and properly embarrass your teenager :-). The good news is that we all shared a good laugh about it at dinner last night . . . Ryan bounces back quick - what a kid.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I am . . .

I know, I've been a horrible blogger this month. I have pictures from Christmas to post, New Year's resolutions to discuss, and of course the daily happenings of our changing lives. For now, it's just overwhelming and I'll get around to the pictures, but for tonight I just felt the need to write something, so I figured I'll do a tag. I've been tagged three times and haven't followed through, so I'll just do this one and call it good.

I am

I am... a mother, wife, friend, daughter, aunt, niece, cousin . . . .
I think... too much, always planning.
I want... my children to stay young forever.
I have... an opinion about everything - just ask.
I miss... my close friends.
I fear... losing those that are dearest to me.
I feel... too deeply - I'm passionate about many things.
I hear... nothing - the peace of evening when I'm alone.
I smell... the chocolate chip cookies Caroline baked tonight.
I crave... fresh air, blue skies, and the sound of rushing water.
I cry... when I feel someone's pain.
I search... everyday for something I've misplaced!
I wonder... what my childrens' futures hold.
I regret... the things I've said or done on impulse, without really thinking before acting.
I wish... for simplicity.
I love... to stay active, busy, and on the run.
I care... about my relationships, my health, and my spirituality.
I always... smile and laugh.
I worry... that I don't worry enough!
I am not... a great time manager or organizer.
I remember... EVERYTHING - dang this memory of mine.
I believe... in my husband.
I sing... ALL the time - I love music.
I don't always... have patience.
I argue... when I feel misunderstood.
I lose... myself sometimes.
I listen... and try my darnest not to interrupt - major flaw of mine.
I can usually be found... in the car, on the court, in the mountains, or with the kids.
I need... more hours during the day.
I forget... pain and heartache - almost too quickly.
I am happy... when I can make those around me happy :-).