And So It Will Be

Something about New Year’s Eve has always depressed me.  When I was little maybe it was the grey weather.  As I got older it was either disappointment with my current date or not wanting to ring in a new year alone.  When my father died it was that he did not live to see the millennium.  By the time I met my husband to be and we went out I was still willing to stuff myself into high heels.  But I disliked the crowds and the amount of money he spent trying to do something “nice;” everything but the dancing I suppose.  I will never forget the New Year’s Eve when I had just turned 40.  After dinner we wound up having drinks at a restaurant that was packed and happened to be owned by my husband’s maternal side of the family.  It was chilly outside and I was wearing my red wool cape Burk got me the prior June in San Francisco when it was every bit as cold.  He took this picture as I lit my favorite Cuban cigar, a Romeo y Julieta toro blunt cut, straight from the blazing fire pit.  Everyone around us was probably ten years younger and celebrating.  Only my beloved knew I had gone through two unsuccessful attempts of in vitro and was told to try again as soon as possible.  Hundreds of shots, humiliating and painful procedures with male doctors, endless rounds of taking blood, and now my odds of getting pregnant had plummeted because I was 40, despite the fact that it had only been a couple of months.  As the countdown to 2011 began, I took my seven and seven and raised it to my husband’s vodka and tonic.  “Here’s to the best new year ever,” I said.  “To the best new year ever Baby Doll,” my beloved said.  I could see my pain and despair reflected in his deep, chocolate brown eyes.  I glimpsed another couple observing us with what was perhaps a touch of envy.  If they only knew, I thought.  For one year I had not had alcohol or enjoyed a cigar.  My bottom was so sore I could not sit; there was blood on my sitting room stool and vials of injectables in our refrigerator.  I had endured dye being shot up my tubes, and a host of other things it would not be seemly to mention.  Everything had looked perfect and yet nothing took.  I cried a lot.  Here it was, the start of a new year, and I felt more sad than I had even been despite having my sweet, handsome husband with me.  All around us people were shouting, “Happy New Year!” and I felt numb amidst the swirl.  Less than one month later, and against all medical odds due to a doctor’s mistake, I would be carrying our only child.  I say all this because no one knows what the next year holds.  Everything can suddenly change for the better, and when we least expect it.  The famed American lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

And so it will be.


Baby Of Mine

I never did like dolls growing up, or Barbies either.  I TRIED to like them; I just could never get into them.  My little one likes dolls but loves stuffed toy animals, just as I did.  She also likes cars.  Ironically, my when my husband was young he played with his cousin’s doll house because he liked the miniature models.  He will still stop and examine any model he sees:  whether it’s a building going up, a battlefield of some sort, or a replica of anything historical.  Anyway, our little one asked for a doll for Christmas — that pooped.  Her daddy and I thought that was too disgusting.  And then I found this sweet, precious little thing.  It was the same brand our baby doll wanted only all this one could do was suck her thumb.  My heart constricted when I saw her.  Something about the mostly no hair and enormous eyes reminded me instantly of when my baby was a baby.  I cradled her in my arms through the box and even found a kitten for her on the way out.  When my husband saw her he melted immediately.  “It looks just like her when she was a tiny little baby!” he exclaimed and actually took the doll from me.  We were both lost in our own thoughts … five years whirling before our eyes.  “It’s kind of heartbreaking, isn’t it?” I asked and he just nodded.  When our little one got her on Christmas day she loved her and her doll’s kitten.  She named her Rose and said she was going to have a little girl just like her with the same name when she grew up.  Yet another Marian connection my child has unwittingly made.  I have noticed as other toys litter the house my husband and I have kept an eye on her.  She is never discarded, upside down, or on the floor.  It’s so silly for two grown adults to love a doll.  And yet, we do.  I keep thinking of one of my favorite Bette Midler songs:

         “Baby Mine

Baby mine, don’t you cry.
Baby mine, dry your eyes.
Rest your head close to my heart,
Never to part, baby of mine.

Little one, when you play,
Pay no heed what they say.
Let your eyes sparkle and shine,
Never a tear, baby of mine.

If they knew all about you,
They’d end up loving you too.
All those same people who scold you,
What they’d give just for the right to hold you.

From your head down to your toes,
You’re not much, goodness knows.
But, you’re so precious to me,
Sweet as can be, baby of mine.


A Yeti In My Spaghetti

Tonight I made gluten free pasta for the first time.  Not only could no one tell the difference, it was a vegetarian meal that was nearly vegan.  (We had gluten free garlic rolls with butter.)  My whole little family loved it.  I don’t post a lot of food pics because I do not think it ever looks fancy enough.  But I am so glad everyone really enjoyed it.  As you can see, I consider sauce a beverage (borrowing a varied quip from my beloved Erma Bombeck) and I cook with a TON of onions and garlic.  For Christmas I got my husb, er, daughter this game called Yeti in my Spaghetti and we thought it would be a great time to break it out.  It sort of reminds me of pick up sticks I played with as a kid.  It’s a simple game; everyone goes around pulling out a strand of spaghetti and the one who causes the Yeti to fall in the bowl loses.  I learned some things as I studied my opponents.  Surprisingly, my husband was the daredevil.  He’d just boldly take one and pull.  I taught our baby doll to study it and start with the easy ones that weren’t holding him up.  The best part was no one thought about iPads or iPhones (not that we don’t love them) and it really did remind me of my childhood.  I played so many board games with my folks.  We intend to do the same with her as she grows.  The Canadian born American actor Michael J. Fox said, “Family is not an important thing.  It’s everything.”  Our family time tonight was precious, happy, and well spent that centered around the three of us … and a Yeti in my spaghetti.


Everyone’s Entitled To An Occasional Meltdown

I was working at a client’s house tonight when I noticed this kitchen towel.  It was so timely it made me laugh.  I don’t know of any parent who wants their child to misbehave, particularly in public.  People without kids can be very judgy and regardless, anything the parent does becomes fodder for public scrutiny.  We were going to the movies earlier when my little one came running up to me in the mall.  Her face was a varied shade of reddish/purple, she had been crying, and now she was just hollering.  Have you ever heard the acoustics in a mall??  It’s why I used to love to sing there.  At two, tantrums are sometimes unavoidable; at five I say no way.  In the ’70’s my father would have just started spanking.  I remember once being spanked all the way down the escalator in the mall when I was just about my little one’s age.  I can still feel the humiliation to this day.  Meanwhile my current humiliation was my only child jumping up and down as we approached, ironically, the escalator.  “I WANT A BALLOON!  I WANT A BALLOON!” she chanted as her light up shoes blinked blindingly in time with her rhythmic demands.  Her father and I met eyes over her head.  I was horrified and he looked harried.  “I told her to ask you,” my poor beloved said.  “Absolutely not,” I replied.  “We are about to see a movie that cost a lot of money and then we are going out to eat.  That is enough.”  All this was being played out in front of the ticket taker which only added to my embarrassment.  More hopping and screaming ensued.  “Now listen!” I heard someone from behind me quietly say.  “Your parents are here, trying to take you to a nice movie!  You ought to be grateful; instead you’re acting like a spoiled brat!  You should tell your parents ‘thank you’ instead of demanding a balloon.”  I turned around and it was the young woman who was working to take the tickets.  I turned back to see my little one’s tears instantly dissolve, only to be replaced with a stunned look of shock which spread across her now white face.  “Can you tell her, ‘Yes ma’am?'” I asked and she immediately said it.  Then I turned once again to the woman and hugged her.  Maybe under a different circumstance I would have taken her head off.  But somehow I just knew she was speaking from the heart and with experience.  Only people who have struggled would have worded it the way she did and I recognized it instantly.  We rarely got to go to the movies EVER while I was growing up.  Plus her daddy dropped an obscene $12 for her to have a balloon animal the last time we went.  Treats should not be regular occurrences.  I thanked the young woman and she said sometimes it just took hearing it from someone else.  Then, as I suspected, she revealed she had children of her own.  I do not know if I would have been able to say what she did to someone whom I did not know, particularly at her age, but I admired her for it and was grateful nonetheless.  The same mortification I felt all those years ago going down the escalator I think my little one felt going up it.  I wonder if this was one of those times that will remain in her memory as she goes through life.  I love this quote by the American motivational author and speaker Zig Ziglar who said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  My little one went from focusing on a negative (not having the balloon and how “deprived” she was) to seeing the positives (like going to the movies and being together as a family.)  Meanwhile, my beloved and I decided to get doubles at the bar which we were able to bring into the theater.  After all, everyone’s entitled to an occasional meltdown.


Back In A Few

I have always maintained that my husband has the metabolism of a squirrel on crack.  People think I exaggerate how much he eats.  I will never forget when my mother moved in with us; one day she just sat her little self on the sofa, staring in rapt fascination at how many times the hubs went in and out of the pantry.  (It was his day off and apparently her form of entertainment.)  When I got home she called me over and, with huge eyes, she whispered, “He just never stops eating.”  Eleven years ago people would say he was still young and that’s why he had that metabolism.  Well now he’s 43 and is still blessed to eat whatever, whenever.  Once when I laid out all our groceries he even admitted it looked like we were feeding “some type of farm animal.”  So I find myself at the grocery store a lot.  Today I was so tired I had the little one wait for me in the back while I put the cart away just beside our car.  This is probably the smallest amount of groceries we have ever had.  The American politician Mark Udall said:

“Our livelihood is intimately tied to the food we eat, water we drink and places where we recreate.  That’s why we have to promote responsibility and conservation when it comes to our natural resources.”

Growing up our pantry was not always full.  It made me truly appreciate the ability to have a stocked refrigerator.  I do NOT want our little one taking food for granted.  Meanwhile the grocery store has become a second home.  Our little one eats just like her daddy; it is truly mind boggling.  The cashier just looked at me and grinned; I told her we’d be back in a few.


Upside Down

Well my dream of having a White Christmas was turned upside down as I was in shorts today.  It was a pleasant 70 something degrees and kiddos of all sorts were venturing out to try their new gadgets.  One of my runs was working across from a park and I felt I would be the worst mother in the whole wide world if I did not make the time to stop.  With a skip and a “whoopee!” my little one went running toward the jungle gym.  I found myself contemplating how playgrounds now are full of wood chips as I dislodged one out of my sandals, making my way to where my baby doll was calling for me.  “LOOK!  LOOK MAMA!  LOOK!” and not only did I look, I snapped her picture before she turned back right side up.  Nothing beats the serenity of nature, and going to the park is a timeless way of slowing down.  I really try not to use my iPhone outside unless it’s to take pictures of my little one.  So often as adults we do not live in the moment.  The Hungarian born American graphic designer Tibor Kalman once said, “I’m always trying to turn things upside down and see if they look any better.”  Standing there the day after Christmas in weather approaching the ’80’s I decided to just follow my little girl’s lead, and embrace the upside down.


“And The Wolf Shall Dwell With The Lamb”

Today is Christmas Day and for Christians around the world it marks the beginning of the twelve days of Christmas.  It is a joyful celebration of the Nativity of our Lord.  The eighth century Jewish profit Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah and the following is my favorite scripture.  (Yes, partially because it mentions the wolf and in a positive light.)

“And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”  Isaiah 11:6

I print this scripture on my Christmas card each year.  It is an age old message full of hope that tells us one day we all will come together in unity and harmony.  Oh come let us adore Him, this babe in a manger, whom three Wise Men traveled so far to pay homage to, aided by the Star of Bethlehem.  The King of Kings was not born with great ceremony or opulent finery; rather among gentle animals in a humble manger.  He came to save us all, that we might live.  Sing choirs of angels, and let your heart be light.  As it was written, so it will be:  “And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb …”


“The Wolves’ Night Before Christmas”

Defenders of Wildlife Senior Northwest Representative Suzanne Asha Stone has rewritten what is in my opinion the greatest rendition of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” since its inception. It will now always be a revered part of our Christmas tradition and I hope perhaps yours as well.  I am grateful for her generosity in allowing me to repost her work.  Happy Howlidays!

The Wolves’ Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the eve before Christmas
And to Santa’s dismay
Came such an icy storm
The reindeer couldn’t budge his sleigh.

As Santa paced and worried
And elves began to scowl
‘Rose a song through the wind:
A wolf pack’s mighty howl.

From the thick of the storm
O’er deep snow on big padded feet
Came eight silvery wolves
Ice and wind could not beat.

Santa’s mouth hung open for a blink
As the wolves lined up in front of his sleigh
Then he sputtered to the elves
“Well… let’s be on our way!”

Santa thanked each wolf
As the elves finished loading the last gift
Then he sprinkled them with fairy dust
Chuckling, “That’ll give you the lift.”

“They won’t believe this in Idaho..”
He laughed, a merry twinkle in his eyes
Then the elves harnessed the wolves
And they took to the skies.

On Lightfoot! On Blacktail! On Windswift! On Howler!
On GreenEyes! On MoonSong! On Hunter! On Prowler!
The wolves’ eyes glowed as they leapt through the storm
Santa wished his own coat could keep him as warm.

That night the wolves even taught Santa to howl
An ancient song filled with hope for Peace and Joy
That this season may bring for all Life on Earth
As they left special gifts for each girl and boy.

‘Twas that eve before Christmas
Santa will always fondly remember
When wolves rescued his mission
That stormy December.


“Ugly” Christmas Sweaters

Growing up in the ’80’s, I pretty much think all sweaters were “ugly.”  Perhaps a better word would be garish.  So I am loving this recent trend of having “ugly” Christmas sweater contests!  They’re silly and it’s a light-hearted thing to do.  Truth be told, I think some of them are cute.  I have one with a whole village that lights up and I really like it.  My husband just had an “ugly” Christmas sweater day at work.  Next year I’m going to get him one that says, “Yeti Christmas.”  It would be a fun follow up to the shirt I got him last year that reads, “Big Foot doesn’t believe in you either.”  It’s not my thing but it makes him happy.  Anyway, I had to bring the little one in for a check up and her pediatrician’s office was completely decked out!  There were “ugly” Christmas sweaters aplenty.  We saw reindeer antlers, candy cane headbands, bells jingling from elf hats, light up Christmas bulb necklaces — and then there was this guy.  He was proudly rocking the sweater his mother had made for him.  What a cool mom and an even cooler son to wear it!  The sweater had everything — Santa, stockings, a Christmas tree, a penguin, a gingerbread house, a Christmas garland draped with colored ornaments, mistletoe, poinsettias, a snowman Christmas card etched in tinsel, girl and boy gingerbread people and, perhaps funniest of all, lace doilies on his back covering him like shoulder pads in a football game.  It was the sweater to end all sweaters.  American actress, writer, and Saturday Night Live alum Kristen Wiig said, “There’s something about a Christmas sweater that will always make me laugh.”  This one certainly made me laugh and brought with it a good dose of Christmas cheer.  Long live “ugly” Christmas sweaters.


Santa Claws

I came across this picture of when the wolfies were still little.  You may not be able to tell, but Santa was a little rattled.  I think he was more used to Yorkies than wolf cubs.  Dakota howled and Cheyenne tried to eat his beard.  I found myself silently betting he wouldn’t be back the next year.  Too bad I didn’t place money on that; I would’ve won.  You can see from this picture Dakota and his sister Cheyenne were as sweet as they could be.  I have said before I hope they serve as ambassadors of sorts for their brethren in the wild.  We got them giant femur bones as treats for being so good.  I am so glad Santa visits our furry family members as well; I just love that.  The British veterinary surgeon and writer James Herriot once said:

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”

There is so much we can learn from God’s creatures.  And I think someone who knows that most of all is St. Nicholas, who embodies selfless, unconditional love just as animals do.  I am so glad there is a Santa Claws.