Father’s Day – 13 of 100

After not posting last week, I promised myself I’d do multiple posts this week. But no. Now it is Thursday. I have been working on a few longer posts, but for now, a quick reflection on Father’s Day.

When I met Dan I knew instantly he’d be a great father – and now I get to watch him action. Snuggling James. Making him laugh. Loving our son with that big heart of his. This is one of those been-looking-forward-to-it-my-whole-life things.

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Father’s Day was a rather lazy Sunday. There was a plan to go fishing, but rolling thunderstorms and two very tired adults had us still sipping coffee at 11 a.m. Dan opened his card and his presents. We got iced cappuccinos at Tim Horton’s and went for a walk in the sun. There were dads everywhere, tossing their kids in the air, pushing their little bikes, holding their hands. Instagram and Facebook were full of pictures of dads and kids with messages that said things like I have the best dad, I’m the luckiest daughter/son/wife/dad.

And all day, even though we didn’t do much, I could feel the love, you know? Sons and daughters appreciating their dads. Wives looking all googly eyed at their husbands. And dads feeling so lucky to have their little ones. I know not all fathers are perfect, or even good. So I guess my thought for the day was that if we are lucky enough to have a man who’s killing it as a dad – well, I’m glad we’re all celebrating them.

I love that so many superlatives – best, luckiest, etc- can be thrown around in one day and can all be true.

Isn’t this the kind of love what makes the world go round?

Goodbye Jetta, I’ll love you forever – 12 of 100

Well we did it – we sold the Jetta. Dan took the day off on Monday and was so incredibly productive, it made me feel a bit shameful for how little I do on the weekdays of my maternity leave (I mean, I feel like I’ve had a productive day when I do laundry AND empty the dishwasher AND take a shower…he sold a CAR among other things…)

A very nice girl who is starting medical school at U of C took her for a test drive and bought her on the spot. A few hours later, she came into the house to finalize the details. She has a dog. She is nervous about not knowing anyone here. She hopes that med school will be what she is looking for – life and career-wise.

“Did she have a name?” she asked. “No, we just called her the Jetta.”
“I’m thinking of naming her Daisy.”
“It’s such a good car. We’re going to miss it so much!”
“She’ll have a good home,” she assured us. “These things can have a good second life, you know?”

I know she’s right, but still.

I test drove the Jetta in the year of her birth – 2003. I loved her tight turns and the quick Turbo engine-it was like driving a car-sized golf cart. But mostly I loved the purple lights on the inside (22 year olds make such sound decisions, right?!). After I graduated from UVA, I drove her to Boston where we lived together for a year. Poor Jetta. She endured a crazy winter and had her tires slashed (my own experience that first year out of college wasn’t much better).

On my way back to Minnesota when Boston was finally over, I stopped at Madison to visit my brother Charlie and had a hoot – a harbinger of good times.

Jetta set up camp at 2765 Maplewood Circle East (where I grew up) while I traveled for a a couple of years – and then my ex-boyfriend and I drove it out to San Francisco.

But mostly, I associate the Jetta with Dan – our long distance courtship, days living in San Francisco, getting married in Red Lodge,MT, moving to Calgary and subsequent Canadian Rocky Mountain adventures.

When Dan used to visit from Vancouver, I really wanted him to fall in love with California and we’d drive up and down the coast looking for camp spots and adventures – to Mendocino County, Big Sur and everywhere in between. In fact, we got engaged on a secret blustery beach in Big Sur before we had even lived in the same city. Probably both the most foolish (I mean, we hardly knew each other!) and wisest (the heart knows, people) decision I’ve ever made.

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On our way to Big Sur to get engaged!

I drove up to Vancouver to surprise him a day early when he finally got a job in Berkeley. We packed the whole damn thing with his stuff and then got turned around at the border – so we made a quick decision to re-route to Vancouver Island. We ended up getting rejected at the border again, but in that week in between we attended the best/worst improv show in Port Alberni (at a historic Mill – talk about random!), camping on the kindest stranger’s lawn in Tofino where every campsite was full (who also invited us to their shop opening party and a local music performance) and flying kites with a good friend in Victoria. The border crap was devastating – but we rallied.

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Jetta packed with Dan’s belongings

When Dan finally made it to Cali, there was the long drive through dead heat and nothing Nevada and Yellowstone Park to our wedding. Down through Wyoming and Utah on the way home. And then there was the long drive up to Canada when we moved. We stopped at Crater Lake. Along the Dechutes River in Oregon – then Sand Point Idaho, Panorama BC and then finally Calgary. Somehow we lucked into great deals at cabins with woodburning fireplaces and the most ridiculous B&B I’ve ever seen in my life (our ‘room’ – which was the entire ground floor- had a home movie theatre in it).

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Packing up the Jetta in Sandpoint

That began Jetta’s life as our mountain vehicle. It has been all over – to Banff, to Jasper, to Yoho, to Panorama, to Lake Louise, Fernie, Mt Robson.

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Jetta in Yoho National Park

It’s hard to explain our affection and connection to this little car – but I know you know what I’m talking about. We have loaded her with camping gear, skiing gear, all of our earthly possessions for moves, furry sparkly Burning Man costumes and Christmas trees. She’s been with me for 116,000+ miles and 12 years. Twelve years!

But the thing that hit me the most, as I posed with James in front of her for one last shot (me in utter disbelief that James will never remember our sweet Jetta) – was that we brought our son home from the birth centre in this car. I remember strapping our tiny boy-impossibly small he seemed-into the car seat, bundled in this bear bag to keep him warm in the February night. It was three in the morning and I was both exhausted and exhilarated; I had just delivered a child who was now living and breathing in this world after all. I was too weak to carry the car seat; the midwifery student tied my shoes while Dan started the car to warm it up. Then he carried James to the car while I leaned on the student and she helped me hobble to the passenger seat – pushed forward nearly to the dash to accommodate our tiny babe in the back.IMG_1535 The drive was short – maybe five minutes – but probably the most important of all. We arrived as we had been – the two of us- and returned as parents…as the three of us. The Jetta carried us both ways. She was always there for us. We had the best damn luck wherever we went together. I sure am going to miss her.

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Bye Jetta 😦

Breakfast is my favorite part of the day – 11 of 100

This beautiful reflection on grief by Sheryl Sandberg made me think about many things –

One of them is this:

Every morning, for all of our days and years together, Dan and I have breakfast together. We brew coffee, we fry an egg, toast (Dan’s homemade) bread, blend a smoothie. We eat at the table and then move to the living room couch where we have our coffee and listen to the Eye Opener on CBC.

Before James was born, we began to ask ourselves: What will happen to this favorite ritual? Will it go away?

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Well for the first six weeks or so it did go away. At that time I would hand James off to Dan at 6 a.m. and he’d let me sleep until the last possible moment before he went to work.

But now, the ritual is back. James is our alarm clock and he usually gets up around 6. One of us clicks brew on the coffee and it all begins. The nights are better now – J usually only gets up twice and sometimes even once (!) – and though I’m still tired when he starts cooing, I’m also excited to drink coffee with my boys. James nestles into one of our laps – smiles just pour out of him during this hour. I make breakfast; we sit at the table; we talk about how cute James is and how gaga we are for him.

There is nothing particularly extraordinary about all of this – I mean, it’s just coffee and eggs- but if it ever became impossible to have this ritual, I would miss it like mad. I would ache for it – because, of course, it is more than extraordinary – it is sacred – to eat and sit and talk with the two people I love most.

When does it hit you – how scary it is to love so much? To realize that if it was taken away from you, you might crumble?

Sandberg’s post is honest and raw and I loved everything about it. But I especially appreciated how she reminds that we really can’t take the everyday things for granted. Not ever. And how lucky we are all just to be here – to be alive – and to love.

What are your favorite daily rituals?

Our imperfect/perfect little pug – 10 of 100

Last night, Dan and I were watching Kingsman: Secret Service. In it, the recruits have to pick out a dog to train. The hero/main guy picks out a pug, thinking it’s a bull dog. There’s a great scene that shows all the smart dogs following their masters dutifully while the pug stops dead in his tracks refusing to budge as Eggsy pulls at his leash.

While we watched I thought, ‘that’s totally James!” and just as I thought it, Dan said, “Kind of reminds me of James.” and we both burst out laughing.

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It was funnier still because before we started the movie I asked Dan what three adjectives he would use to describe James. As parents you are constantly trying to guess what your child will be like. Dan said “Curious” without hesitation. The other two we had to ponder out. “Definitely not mellow,” I said. “I like spirited.” (That was a word a friend’s midwife had used to describe her wonderful-but-sometimes-fussy baby.) “He’s funny too, I think.”

Last week, I had a day with James. This morning when I tried to put him down for his morning nap he fussed and fussed. I soothed and soothed. This went on for an hour. I finally gave up and brought him out of the nursery. Totally exhausted, he really lost it at this point–screaming and red faced, huge globby tears getting all mixed up with his drool. I was also losing it. I may have said a few bad words. I swooped him into the carrier and ran out the door for a walk. It did us both good. James cries. I have no idea if how much he cries is a lot or just normal. And for the most part, it’s gotten better – he really just cries when he’s tired. But there’s still the odd duck time when he’s rested and fed and just lets loose a wail. It’s confounding. We affectionately refer to his lips-turned-in-frown-y pout as “Turtle Face”.

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When you’re trying to put him down for a nap and avoid said tired turtle face cry, he squirms and wriggles. He really turns it on when you swaddle him. (I would stop swaddling if he didn’t wave his arms like a crazed Today Show/Biebs fan when he gets loose.)

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But between the nap struggles, James smiles and we have entire conversations in baby talk. Yesterday, after I unswaddled him and threw the blanket over him again and again like a parachute and he started giggling. Really giggling. He may not be mellow and sometimes it drives me bananas, but he really is like that little pug – curious, funny, spirited, stubborn and oh-so-irresistable. God I love him.