Archives for February 2013

The Illusion of Safe

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I am lulled into thinking certain things to be true. 

(Basically I lie to myself so I can go to sleep at night)

I tell myself a good a neighborhood is a barrier from the bad guys of the world.

I tell myself I am safe.

I live in Ladera Ranch –an awesomely Disney-esque suburb.  It’s supposed to be exempt from murder and rape and break-ins and a thousand other awfuls –or at least that’s how they justify our exorbitant property taxes.

But Ladera Ranch is a place, like any other place where a “neighbor” can  commit a heinous atrocity.

The darkness of the human heart isn’t finicky about addresses.

I thought about this long and hard after driving my kid’s to school yesterday morning as I watched helicopters and police cars circling around our little neighborhood. 

A shooting rampage that began in Ladera Ranch and traveled all over Orange County was underway. 

I wasn’t so sure I wanted to drop off my kids.  Kolby’s preschool and Faith’s middle school were only about two minutes away from yellow tape and a dead body. 

Mostly I just wanted to hug my kids and hubby and hold them close and I couldn’t relax until I knew the suspect was dead. 

One of my friends whose child attends my daughter’s school confronted the administration a week ago about school security.  They claimed “stuff like that never happens here” and “we don’t want to inconvenience the parents.”

LaderaRanchFront

Hmmm?

Last week we had a massive manhunt for Christopher Dornier-the cop killer.  A few months ago a guy tried to blow up a bridge next to my office with enough explosives to take out a mile radius.   Now this teenager from my own neighborhood has gone Rambo on us. 

Am I the only one who feels like simply opening the front door these days is an adventure? 

A few weeks ago the police informed us our own block had been cased and multiple homes robbed.  One man posed as a solar panel vendor and the other as a magazine salesman.  In truth, they were going door to door assessing homes to see if anyone was on the premises.

Both came to our home.

I slammed the door in the face of the fake solar home salesman after he yelled at me for not wanting to save money on my electric bill.  Let me say that again…a man came to my door and yelled at me for not buying his product.

I was astounded any solicitor would yell at a potential customer. 

At least now I have clarity.

The other young (mid-twenties) man came to the door and met my husband. 

Tim took the young man out on the porch and sat down with him.  I offered him lemonade and he kicked back and chatted with Tim for about thirty minutes.  We ended up giving him $40 for a magazine I imagine we will never get. 

But he didn’t rob us-either because we were home or because we bought him off or maybe because he liked us.

Three other homes were not so lucky.

I wonder if my husband’s effort to build a relationship with the robber made a difference.

Did my lemonade and smile thaw out his desperation?

As my mind tries to wrap itself around the pain, I try to make sense out of the senseless.  I want to know why and how and analyze ALL the details.  I watch the news like an investigator and try to peice the clues together.  But deep down -if I am honest, I know my job is simple… it’s to pray to God, surrender and look for opportunities to love.  Because all too often I miss them.  Don’t we all?

I believe love is the only thing big enough to make a difference. 

I still feel wobbly, scared and numb almost twenty-four hours later.

And I am left with more questions than answers .

But mostly, I am sad –sad for my kids, sad for our community and sad for these lost souls who live in a fatalistic land of hopelessness. 

How are you coping with all the violence?

The Face Plant

It was one of those perfect winter days masquerading as spring.  The sun warmed my toes and a soft breeze tickled my ears.  The trees overhead swayed back and forth and in the distance I heard Kolby’s high pitched giggle as her little legs pumped high on the big kid swing. 

We were at one of our favorite parks in Old Town San Juan Capistrano.  We stopped for a glass of wine and a yummy appetizer at Sundried Tomato, picked up a latte at Hidden House Coffee, petted a few stinky llamas and alpacas at Zoomars and then headed to the park.

Daddy laughed along with Kolby’s screams of glee and pushed her higher and higher on the swing while I lounged on a wooden park bench in the sun.  My eyes got heavy and finally closed as I listened to the happy sounds of kids playing and the train off in the distance. 

Until I heard a high-pitched scream that woke me up fast.

I jumped up from the park bench and raced to the swings where little Kolby lay face down in the wood chips.  Her feet had dragged and with a violent smack she face-planted. 

I gently picked her up and blood poured out of her tiny nose.  It was her first big Boo-Boo.

Daddy and I cleaned up her face, checked for a broken nose and tried to cheer her up with a promise of ice cream.

Kolby’s blood and tears dried fast but daddy’s cheeks remained ashen. 

This little girl means the world to him. 

It reminded me of the first time my son Kyle took a spill, face planted and ripped open his lip after I encouraged him to try a big slide.  I felt like a tool for pushing my 12 month old to go big and take a risk before he was mature enough to tackle it.

But years later I recognize it was those very risks and  encouragement that allow my son to dream big.  Kyle might eat it when he tries new things and he might occasionally even fail but he believes in himself and fear does not define him.

Kolby  told us later on that night she would “never go on the big swing again.” 

Tim looked crushed.

Then I reminded my three-year old of how great she did on the big kid swing and how maybe in a few months when she grew a little bit bigger that it would be fun to try again.

She considered my words carefully and sighed big.  “Ok, mommy.  I will try again soon, but I need to eat more vegetables and grow before I try that scary swing again.”

Daddy and I nodded in agreement and affirmed her willingness to get back in the swing.

I love how with just a little encouragement Kolby turned her fear into a challenge to grow. 

(And I’m really thrilled how my eating vegetables brain-washing is sinking in)

I know there will be many more scrapes and bumps along the road for my youngest girl.  And I know my husband will have his heart wrenched a thousand more times as he watches his first (biological) daughter grow up.  

Their daddy/daughter love story reminds me of my own journey with God–a loving father and a scared little girl who sometimes winds up face down and bloodied in the wood chips.

But she gets back up because she is loved.  And next time she will swing even higher.

Have you taken any big risks lately? 

Formal Drama

It’s been a week of ‘formal drama” –Winter Formal to be exact.

My freshman son asked a girl to the dance.  This isn’t a big deal normally, but the girl he asked is kind of a big deal.  She is a gorgeous professional surfer and model currently living in Hawaii. 

Clearly my boy has no problem aiming high with the ladies.

Kyle asked her through Facebook and amazingly the blond beauty said yes.

Until she said no.

Her dad, also a professional surfer decided to add a competition on the day of the dance and therefore delay their families return.  The mom (did I mention she is a model too?) did not want the family flying apart and so the hopes of my boy were crushed.

The girl texted him to let him know she wouldn’t make it.

In the back of my mind I always doubted this date would occur.  When I look at the Facebook photos for their family I see stunning celebrities partying on the beach and living the high life.

I struggle to understand how THAT life intersects with ours. 

Pastors and Pro Tour Surfers?  Sounds a bit complicated…

In our “Catholic school reality” we have STRICT dress codes for dances.  No cleavage, no short dresses and no skin allowed.  From what I’ve seen of her skimpy wardrobe and itty bitty bikini’s, I’m guessing this girl doesn’t own a dress that would get past our Nuns.

Now I can understand why my son would want the golden girl to accompany him. 

But I can’t understand why the super awesome family wouldn’t rearrange their entire life so my darling son could take their daughter to the dance. (Yes…this is me being sarcastic)

Kyle took it well, but I was bummed. I might have even cried a little when no one looked. 

But because my son is a fighter, he got right back up in the saddle and asked another beauty to accompany him.

And this one said yes!

Not only did she say yes, she filled out the permission form within twelve hours and had her principal sign it.  She and her mom hand delivered it to my son’s school, bought a dress and ordered a corsage within a day.

I love this girl! 

This lovely young lady attends Santa Margarita, another Catholic high school in the area.   And…I didn’t even have to explain the stringent dress code.  She already got in trouble at another dance so she knows the routine.

Although Kyle’s initial dream date didn’t work out, I’m proud of the way he handled his disappointment. 

And who knows?  This one might be the real catch…

Have you had a recent disappointment turn into a blessing in disguise?

Fred, George and Goldilocks

Christmas 2012 Kolby 4

Fred and George still haunt me.

Not in the way they used too, I mean I’m not afraid of ghosts anymore, but their names still bring back delicious terror.

You see…daddy told me when I was a wee tot that two ghosts lived inside the walls of my bedroom and if I dared to climb out of my bed they would get me.

Let’s not even bring up how demented this is.  When I’ve suggested it was a form of child abuse to my dad he still falls over laughing. 

But one day I realized, like Jim Carey in the Truman show, that no apparition appeared if I defiantly stuck out a toe or a limb.

I caught on pretty quick that my reality was not REALITY.

Eventually I worked up the courage to run like a bat out of hell out of my room and sneak over to my mom’s side of the bed who always let me in for a cuddle.

I thought a lot about Fred and George last night because my toddler refuses to stay in her bed.  And after two weeks of not sleeping and now fighting off illness (probably from massive sleep deprivation) I’m almost ready to ask Fred and George for some advice.  They keep appearing in my feverish hallucinations taunting me with a whole night of un-interupted slumber.

Kolby moved into the BIG GIRL BED a few weeks ago.  We took the crib down, stored it in the garage and unknowingly kissed sleep goodbye.  Most of the time I take the hit for Tim, because out of the two of us I do better without sleep, although he had to step up last night as I borderlined pneumomia.

It’s the second time we’ve tried the BIG GIRL BED.  After a failed attempt a year ago, we aborted mission and put her back in the crib.  Last time it was because she potty trained and needed help to use the restroom in the middle of the night.  I couldn’t handle waking up every three hours to help her tinkle, so up went the porta-crib again in our room so I could at least keep the lights off as I guided her tiny butt to the potty.

But now she is physically too big to stuff in the porta-crib.  The fact that she was complaining about her legs and arms hurting might have been an indication we had played out that card a little too long.

In goes Kolby into the BIG GIRL BED and within one hour she has snuck back into our bed to go horizontal on us and kick one of us in the head or the kidney.  She lies on me, throws elbows in my chest and breathes her sweet baby breath in my face.

I put her back to bed.  Tim puts her back to bed.  Press repeat over and over until we are so exhausted that Tim goes to the sofa around 3:00am to salvage any sleep whatsoever and then Kolby kicks the crap out of me until 6:00am when I have to get my teenager ready for high school.   

I am a ZOMBIE and I am way too old for this.

I’d toss her out like a sailor if not for the fact that I love her soooooo much.  This third baby of mine has both daddy and I whooped, sucker tied and wrapped around every phalange. 

She is terrifically spoiled and we are wimps when it comes to her little grin and Goldilocks.

Is bribery the next option?  Will it take a puppy to get her to sleep in her bed?  I’d gate her in but she shares a room with her sister with an adjoining bathroom to her brother’s room.  She’ll just walk right through into his room and find us.  She’s smart like that.

This kid needs incentive…

What makes a toddler want to stay in bed?

All advice will be considered except ghosts and spanking.

 

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