Tuesday, September 30, 2008
"Hi, what's your name?"
"Where are you from?"
"Short answer: Heidelberg, Germany."
"Wow! So you speak German."
"Actually no, I don't. (So there! Have a bad first impression of me.)"
I'm omitting a lot of filler in that conversation. I have a memorized list of excuses that I stuff in to make myself feel better. Introductions are my life-long punishment for not speaking German when I should speak German.
And oh my, there's a fat stack of other slip ups, but I don't want to get into that tonight--the poor decisions I once made that if given the chance I'd do differently.
Instead, I'll tell you about how I wish I'd charged the portable DVD player before we boarded our five-hour flight home from vacation a few weeks ago.
I thought I was being supermom by not whipping it out before take off. My three-year-old can color and look out the window, and I can play tic-tac-toe a few more times before I stick her to the screen, I thought. I waited patiently until the complimentary beverage cart had served us, and waited longer still, until said three-year-old finished her cranberry juice--no need to spill juice on our borrowed life-saver.
I think we entertained her for a few hours before I gave Magnet the eye...
He got her all set up, over sized earphones resting perfectly in her little ears. She froze in place as not to knock them out. And then tragedy hit right where it hurts--the DVD player was dead, lifeless for my lively girl and useless for her worked Mama.
And so after some heartfelt wailing (on her part), I spent the next three hours watching in amazement as my girl entertained herself by sticking the magnetic pen of her mini etch-a-sketch into any hole she could find. I monitored her noise level. I took a stand when the captain said buckle up and the flight attendants said stay seated and had Magnet jet her to the bathroom because she was doing her emergency potty wiggle, all the result of her drinking more than she would had she been watching Care Bears.
As good as she was, our air time could have been much more relaxing if I'd just charged the DVD player!
- The hour between 9am and preschool's 10am start time was the slowest ticking of the day.
- She kept saying, "Is it time to go to high school yet?"--what??? NO!
- She came home and told me about her teacher--"I didn't have the bad teacher; I had the goooood teacher."
Other than me forgetting to bring my darling pupil's picture to insert behind her window in the paper preschool house where all the kids are supposed to check in, everything went great!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
- snacking on chocolate chips by the handful
- reading Real Simple in the bathtub
- a back rub
- going to the library
- buying clothes without giving the price a second glance, trying everything on at home, and then returning it a few days later after I've enjoyed my shopping high
- honey nut cheerios
- date nights with Will
- a clean chick flick
- reading something that moves me
- eating Frosties with my sisters
- my mom all to myself
- long talks with my dad about current events
- making lists
- crossing things off lists
- being understood
- interviewing Maggie
- watching Magson eat
- a good cry
- a good laugh
- dreaming up the endless possibilities for naming my future children... names like Penelope Jane or Olivia Claire or Pierce Ashton, and making up funny names like jack thunder and pierce lightning...
Since I'm tired and feeling kind of sick, this little reminder of my life's simple pleasures has been a boost, not to mention an easy way to write on low brain power.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The writing prompt, "In the cemetery..." got me thinking about how I've had little personal experience with death and graves and funerals, which somehow got me thinking about SEAL's song. Maybe those lyrics have felt like secret code because I haven't experienced death up close yet.
Yet. That word can be so frightening: Me and everyone I hold dear will all face Death square one day. I do creep down that path in my thoughts almost daily. What if Magnet died? My children? My parents? A sibling? A friend? I beg the Lord to keep them safe everyday. While I believe in eternal families, I still naturally dread the day I lose them.
But I'm relieved to announce that as I've contemplated my deepest dread and as I've thought about the words of this song, I've come to find light in my fears and some individual sense in those lyrics. The connection I feel to SEAL's song is now emotional. Though it must mean something completely different to the artist, the beautiful thing about music and art is that it can connect and touch people on an individual and unique level.
What happened was I let myself imagine death beyond the initial tragedy. I saw myself visiting the grave of my loved-one, kneeling at their hallowed spot of remembrance. I saw myself down-trodden, devastated and looking at the world through doom-filled lenses. I saw myself letting the sadness of death push out everything good that remained in my life. But as I closed my eyes and released more tears and pain, I saw something red and living flash through my blurred vision. I saw a rose, alive and beautiful, on the site of my special grave. That image, combined with the wet of my emotions, felt as warm and intimate as a kiss from my loved-one, gone.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
It wasn't the strap of my white wedding shoes that broke, but my favorite pair of sandals that my generous aunt bought for me from an uppity boutique in Boise. They were made in Africa and before those dress sandals, I'd never owned a piece of apparel as pricey.
Although those sandals were my favorite and were part of my exit outfit for my Kauai honeymoon, in true MAG form I would have forgotten by now the details of how and when they broke. But because of a certain surprise, I'll never forget.
It was my mother-in-law who surprised me. When Magnet and I returned from our honeymoon we lived in his parent's basement apartment for the rest of the summer until school started back up for us down in Utah.
We'd been home from our honeymoon maybe a day or two when my mother-in-law approached me with her sweet and silly "I have a surprise for you" look on her face that all of her loved-ones know well. She was obviously hiding something behind her back.
I don't know what I expected her to pull from behind her, but it certainly wasn't my favorite shoes, once broken, now fixed! She'd overheard me telling someone that my favorite shoes had broken. She got hold of them at some point and took them to a shoe repair shop for doctoring. How simple it was, that surprise; how big it was. It spoke volumes, welcoming volumes of love.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Where were the housekeepers? Why did my husband need to take business calls? Why was the mediocre food so ridiculously overpriced? And why, oh, why was it raining? These things, and others that I don't care to mention, had me in a sour mood. Any and every imperfection on this island was magnified, and it took effort to smile, even though I was in paradise.
We're all thinking the same thing about now: What a brat!
I knew I was being a brat. I knew God's spirit wasn't with me, and yet I held to my misery for nearly two days. But alas, the Sabbath cured me because it reminded me that I was sinning and hurting myself and others by housing such a half-empty attitude, and it told me that I owed my family, my husband in particular, an apology.
I walked past Magnet in the kitchen that Sunday night; I hugged him from behind and apologized for being so grumpy. He had done a marvelous job of ignoring and still loving my off-self, and accepted the apology with a chuckle. Women and hormones and women! I could just hear him thinking.
And with those two words--"I'm sorry"--my heart was softened and my spirit was freed in an instant, and off I went smiling and living, feeling and loving every second of our one-of-a-kind vacation.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The idea of buying an SLR digital camera has been running circles in my brain. There's only so much spare cash laying around (at least at our house), and for months I've been putting away our extra funds to save for hardwood floors. But hardwood floors are expensive and it was taking forever to get there, which is a good thing because it gave me time to realize that I'd rather spend money on something that will give me lasting satisfaction, something that could develop and grow. Hardwood floors are still a want of mine, but they've been put on the back burner since our carpet is less than a year old, my husband doesn't care at all whether our floors are hardwood or not, and it is mostly a cosmetic desire. I figure my writing could be that much more if combined with some creative photography. That's my big idea, anyway.
So, I decided I'd rather have my SLR first. I was so excited about my decision that my heart immediately started racing and I jetted for the Internet to start researching what camera I wanted and could afford. My, oh, my was I in for a research project, and I hate researching a potential purchase! I just want to buy, buy, buy. (Scary, yes.)
First, I had to find out what in the heck SLR stood for (single lens reflex) and then I had to decide what on earth I wanted, and to do that I had to get schooled in vocabulary like aperture, ISO speed, telephoto lens, prime lens, zoom lens, dust reduction, exposure, autofocus points... you get the idea. Although I started as a photo major in college, much of the lingo left my brain long ago.
Then I had to decide if I wanted a Canon or a Nikon (this was after I decided that I wanted either a Canon or a Nikon rather than a Pentax or another brand of camera). I had to decide if I wanted to put my money more in the lens or more in the body (the lens). I could only really afford one lens; do I get a prime lens or a zoom lens? Thankfully, I took my husband's good advice and asked some photog people for help. I'm so glad I did that because their help was tremendous. I shy away from phone calls and asking advice sometimes, and I'm so glad I got up the courage to just ASK. And I'd recommend that to anyone wanting to buy an SLR because there are SO many options out there.
And then there was the urgency. I made this grand old decision a week before we left for Hawaii, and I was completely determined to have it in my hands before we took off. Didn't happen. Oh well. Our Alaska Airliner hit the Hawaiian runway with me SLR-less. After kicking the sand time after time and grumbling about how I wish I had my SLR (Look at this sunset! Ah! Look at those Lilly pads. Oh my gosh, Maggie would look so beautiful posed on that L-trunked palm tree! Sigh. Kick. Sand. Harder. Sigh louder.), I coveted every fancy shmancy camera I saw.
Not that I would have known how on earth to creatively photograph all the magnificently beautiful photo ops I was finding, but I could have at least used the dummy settings. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to vacation in Hawaii again sometime. With our collapsing on-the-brink-of-another-Great Depression economy, I somehow don't see that happening again as soon as I'd like...
But back to this purchase and how it's consumed me. I read and reread a photography book on our trip, totally enthralled. My anxious heart started pattering when we touched down in Seattle at the conclusion of our vacation. First thing the next morning I was off to the post office to pick up our mail that I'd put a hold on and to pick up my treasured package. I had to stand in line for nearly 45 minutes! First it was an old lady who was being picky about what stamps she was buying. She didn't like how any of them looked. They're just stamps, Lady! I felt like shouting. Of course, I didn't do that; instead, I started worrying about my package somehow being lost in the mail, and I began hearing my heart thud even louder in my ears. After some complications (the postwoman telling me my mail was nowhere to be found and that she just needed to make a few phone calls), I finally had my package in hand and dashed out into the rain and back into my car. I nearly, very nearly, opened it right then and there.
I didn't open it in the car, and although I was tempted to ignore the other errands I needed to run and just race home and tear open the package, I responsibly went to Wal-mart and the library (to pick up another photo book) and finally headed home. I opened up my package with Will close by (it's been so sweet and cute to see him so excited for me, and I'm beyond grateful for all the time he put in helping me research--such a lovable guy) and I looked at it and was almost scared to touch anything, but I did, and then I promptly put it away because for some reason I wanted to look at it privately and figure out how to get it going all on my own. And so I fed the kids lunch, put my baby down for a nap and then headed to my corner of the office. Bella sat right by me, but I didn't mind. And then I got things rolling and took some adorable shots of her, and she actually wanted to be my little model because the camera looked so cool to her. It was as satisfying as melted chocolate to tongue, my finger to the shutter button, listening to the musical click.
I spent a good portion of that night reading and re-reading my manual and getting a painful jab to my ego when I put the camera in manual mode and managed to take some pictures that were indecipherable on my LCD screen. Where was that Understanding Exposure book again? Apparently I don't understand exposure because I was taking pictures that looked like mud and a red light was flashing in the corner. Back to basic mode I went and had fun discovering what I could do there.
There you have it. Who would have thought 1000+ words could come so quickly from the writing prompt, "Write about a purchase." All I can say is I love learning and I love, love my camera and I can't wait to take my first creative photo: my little girl sitting in hundreds of crumpled newspapers with my fake black-rimmed glasses crooked on her little nose as she peers over the fold of newspaper she's pretending to read. It's in black and white, and it'll sum up me and my loves in this adventure I'm beginning: words both read and written, time captured, creativity unleashed.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I've loved watching Maggie tease the waves, getting dangerously close to being toppled and then scrambling up to dry land, laughing and squealing all the way. "You can't catch me," she seems to say with her feet.
I've been entertained by Magson's love for the water, too. Splashing and kicking and floating.
I'm living a daydream here on my vacation because aside from caring for my beautiful family, I don't have any responsibilities. My life's on a bit of hold--no appointments to schedule, house to clean, meals to cook. It's been such a welcome break from the day-to-day, and for that I'm ever thankful, for I've been looking forward to our week in Oahu for nearly a year now.
And now that I'm here, living that daydream--spending my spare minutes soaking up the sun and escaping in my novels and remembering the cramps that come with the art of longhand, my daydream has shifted.
Now I'm dreaming about what it might be like to live here. What would it be like to suggest that for family night we go surfing? What would it be like to take the sunshine for granted or maybe even wish for cold weather? Would I be mistaken for an islander with my dark hair and olive skin? What would it feel like to have my motherly ego regularly fed by the dominant Japanese tourists who pull my children aside to have their picture taken with them?
Would I like living here? Would I enjoy it as my permanent residence as much as I've loved it as a vacation spot? Has my vision of Hawaii been skewed by my picture-perfect resort experience? If I lived in Hawaii would I vacation to Seattle?
Would I mind having my blond and blue-eyed daughter be the minority? Would she get picked on? But all kids get picked on at some point in their lives. Being picked on builds character, right? I think that would be good for her.
Question after question seems to gradually squish my euphoric daydream and feed the reality of what it might be like to live in Oahu. In many ways, it would be much like the life I live here--church callings, errands, my hobbies, my family, new friends. But I can't deny that Hawaiian life would have more sunshine and "Alohas!"
She rides the waves on the back of my husband, pretending he's a surfboard. As they wait for the next wave, I take a picture of her hugging his neck and smiling her biggest smile.
She runs to me and then back again into the water. A wave catches her off guard and twists and sucks her completely under. She comes up laughing and coughing and spitting.
"What do you think of the salt water?" I ask her.
"What do you think of the salt water?"
"I don't like it," she says with a grin.
Off she goes again.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I never liked that answer.
For at least a week leading up to those occasions you'd hear her wishing for her clean house and happy family as she'd lovingly wipe our tears, solve our qualms, and clean our messes. It was such a subjective and open-ended request, and as a child, I just never quite knew how to go about making it happen in a packaged gift form. I'm sure I tried to keep things tidy and tried to be happy and keep everyone else happy, but I always felt and wanted to give her more than that.
Sadly, I don't think we ever exactly gave her a clean house and a happy family for an entire day, which is probably why it was an ongoing wish. I thought she should be asking for more traditional and wrappable things like perfume or a candle. (I think my mom has recieved enough candles over the years to open up a candle store.) I thought that surely those were the things she really wanted. "A clean house and a happy family" was just one of those lines mother's are trained to say, I thought. I mean, really, who wants that for their birthday?
Fast forward a double decade to the married mother I am, and I'm thinking, "ME! I want that!"
I would love to wake up on my special day, hop out of bed and watch my daughter make her bed and then my bed, since I rarely get to that. Next, I'd glide down the stairs to my sparkling clean kitchen and eat a peaceful breakfast, everyone around me completely content. Not a whine for miles. I'd sit there and read a favorite book, unneeded and uninterrupted. There are no cheerios on the floor; the bathrooms are squeeky clean; there's not a toy in sight.
Yes, that sounds awfully nice. Not that my house is never clean or that my family is never happy. We're plenty happy and clean enough, but to have an entire day of perfectly clean house and happy family--that's a blissful and invaluable gift, indeed.
I finally get it, Mom!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Cosmetically, these 1.5-inch long ears have a clean and classic look. This model is known for its five-star capacity to hang dangly earrings from. The earlobes can sustain earrings up to two carats in weight, and diamonds seem to fit best.
The 5-star customer reviews would sound something like this:
I'm a sixteen-year-old girl, and I absolutely love this model! I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get out of doing chores..."You told me to do the dishes before I went to bed? I'm so sorry, Mom, I didn't hear you!" Another feature that I love is the in-ear isolation design that blocks background noise, so I don't have to listen to my baby brothers get into "I know you are but what am I?" nonsense. These ears are any girls dream! Get some today!
And the more accurate 1-star customer reviews would sound a bit like this:
While these ears look nice enough from the outside, the quality is very poor. I find myself constantly saying, "What?" And because I get tired of asking for people to repeat themselves, I also find myself faking like I can hear, and that backfires all too often--like the time my boyfriend said, "Look at that BMW" when I thought he said, "I think I love you." And I wholeheartedly responded, "I love you, too." Boy did I ever want to shrivel up and die when I realized what he'd actually said.
Somehow I eventually did manage to actually hear the line, "Will you marry me?" and while my hubby and I are happily married, he's tired of turning up the volume and wants to upgrade or invest in some top-of-the-line hearing aids no matter what the cost. I suggested I school myself in the art of lip-reading (for free), but it bugs him when my eyes are glued intently on his lips isntead of his eyes. (You'd think he'd like that.)
So, rather than save up for an exotic vacay, we're putting our extra pennies aside to buy digital hearing aids. Boys and their electronics-- ugh! All I can say is that if you want ease of communication in your relationships, steer clear of these ears!
Okay, okay, my ears aren't quite that bad. But I do wish I could put my ears up for sale and get a new model because, while there are worse things in life, my poor hearing has caused me a certain degree of frustration growing up, and I haven't even mentioned yet that I'm incapable of eavesdropping!
So parents, if you'd like to purchase these ears for your kiddos, to stop the eavesdropping once and for all, by all means, they're yours.
Note: I didn't dream up that BMW story. It happened to a friend. Some of you have probably heard that story told by her, and it's just hilarious!
Monday, September 8, 2008
Of course, to have people watch me is an entirely inappropriate and much less enjoyable predicament. I, for one, would like to be able to go lie in the grass of my unfenced yard and read, or have my daily quesadilla picnic lunch with my kids without wondering if someone's peeking at us from their bedroom window, scoffing at the repititious food I dish out and wondering why I'm still in my jammies.
But privacy issues aside, I love the sense of community I feel here. I love all the friends we've made that live within walking distance. I love all the young families. And I love all the people-watching I manage to squeeze in.
The following is what I spy in my neighborhood (and no, it's not necessarily what I'd see at 5pm, but I'm ignoring that part of the writing prompt):
I spy a teenaged Hawaiian boy that lives at the end of our street skateboarding dangerously fast with his earphones in and his helmet on, swaying back and forth on the pavement, looking entirely cool and like he'd land himself in the ER if he were to hit a rock. Sometimes he has a chic on board with him, her hands wrapped deathly tight around his waist. She screams and he laughs and promises she's going to be just fine. I've never seen anything quite like it. I'm tellin' ya, that chic's c-r-a-z-y.
Across the street I spy a bald girl, about ten years old, who I assume is going through chemotherapy, and has a spout of fluffy hair growing out the right side of her head. She is always knocking on our neighbor's door who lives across the street. Almost every time I go outside I see this girl with cancer and her olive-skinned friend riding bikes together, swinging on the monkey bars, chasing each other. The chemo girl seems awfully popular with the neighborhood kids despite her sickly appearance, and that's a heartwarming sight.
Out my front window I spy the tan girl's dad barbequing steak and her mom taking a smoke break on the back porch, chatting away on her cell.
In the yard beyond that one I spy a middle-aged man fiddling in the back yard, in a long-sleeved flannel shirt no matter how hot the weather is. I still can't figure out what he's doing, but he's working meticulously hard placing and replacing bricks.
In the farthest yard back, I spy my pregnant girlfriend taking pictures of her picture-perfect family sitting in the porch swing they recently stained. I call to her as I cross the street to check my mail and ask if she wants me to take a picture with everyone in it for her. "No, thanks! We're good!" she says.
After checking the mail, I head upstairs to fold the wrinkled laundry that's been awaiting me all day. I peek out the blinds before I open the window to let in some fresh air and I spy a gal from church out for a jog. We wave to each other, and I'd hope she doesn't think I was spying...
I can't imagine why Magnet wants more privacy in our next house; I'm quite entertained right here.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Don't misunderstand; I love, love being in Germany with my family, but as with anything worthwhile, you have to pay a price to get there. And I'm not talking about the price of the plane ticket. I'm talking about the kink in your neck from trying to sleep sitting up. I'm talking about trying to change a stinky diaper in your lap because there's no room in the lavatory. I'm talking about a numb bum and blood-shot eyes from the staleness of the situation. I'm talking about a dry throat and airplane food--ick. I'm talking about the feeling you get when your baby starts screaming because his ears are bursting from the altitude. I'm talking about the germs. I'm talking about being so dead tired by the end of the flight that you're passed out and drooling with your jaw dropped.
But as much as flight time is something I now dread, I do enjoy one thing about those long flights. Because of the time change and how difficult it is to sleep when squished and frozen in place (as not to wake the baby), I'm often awake on the plane between dusk and dawn. And I have to say, it's a glorious time.
Whatever reason a person might have to stay up all night when their feet are planted on Earth (can't put a book down, illness, a newborn baby...), it's a completely different feeling to experience the quiet of night from a plane at an altitude of 37,000 feet. To be traveling through time so quickly that the span between dusk and dawn only lasts but a few hours, and to have the hum of the plane's engine making only your thoughts audible, makes it an ideal setting for pondering the wonders of the universe.
It's between those short hours as I watch the sun set and then rise again so quickly that I do some of my best soul searching. I never fail to awe at the vastness of the ocean or the intricate beauty of the Earth below or the limitless skies and the spectrum of colors. When I step back, (or up in this case), away from life for a minute and remember what a beautiful creation God has given mankind--what a miracle and awe the Earth and the skies are, I feel small. But I also feel immensely loved and big because I know he made this wondrous school ground for me. And for you. And for everybody.
Hello there, let me explain how I came up with MAG GAB. A lot of love went into its name--I love naming things.
Yes, MAG is my initials, but I've expanded the word "gab" to mean more than "to talk in a rapid or thoughtless manner," as Webster defines it. And while I know how to get my gab on--Webster style-- here at MAG GAB, g-a-b stands for growing and blooming. (Our family also has seven flower shops up here in the Pacific Northwest, so I thought the "growing and blooming" part was fitting--cheesy points for me.)
Anyway, here is where I document us! And by us, I mean me, my true love, and our three little ones. I never want to forget what yesterday felt like as we grow into our tomorrows.
That's it for introductions. Thanks for visiting!
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