Tuesday, October 31, 2006

When do we get too old for this?

From Left to Right
Hannah "Cupcake", Sofia "Ozma the Good Witch", Ana "Wonder Woman", Alexa "Devil" and Rebecca "Cat"

It's Hallowe'en and we've just been trick or treating for the past few hours. The girls wore highly stylized outfits representing a cupcake (Hannah) and Ozma the "Good Witch" from Wizard of Oz (Sofia). I keep wondering when they will tire of this epoch of childhood, but the lure of candy and hanging out with friends in the middle of the week is just too strong.

Being teenagers, this year was a little different...we had 4 girls here at the house getting dressed and putting on make up together in a flurry of laughter, advice ("You need whiskers") and self doubt ("What if people can't tell what I am?"). After much primping and fixing, we were ready and drove over a few streets to a friend's street where they go "all out".

We walked up and down three streets while it got colder and colder. As I walked I couldn't help but think through the years and their many costumes (bear, witch, bride, cat). There were so many cuties out there, and such generous neighbors who prepare for hundreds and hundreds of children from all over the area. The girls had a blast, only one wondered aloud "When do we get too old for this?" I said "when you feel too old I guess..." It seems they still feel very comfortable holding on to some parts of their childhood, that's fine with me!

I read an article in Oak Cliff People newspaper about the areas of our neighborhood who get the most traffic. They interviewed a single man who prepares for hallowe'en by purchasing 100 lbs of candy! He commented on the fact that many of the kids who come by his house are not from his immediate neighborhood. He said something to the effect of "I know alot of the kids aren't from this neighborhood, but I'm glad they come by for candy because they may not feel safe where they live." I thought that a really sweet and generous perspective.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

We're growing and changing!

(Hannah and Sofia on the first day of school, August 2006)

One of the themes they learned in preschool (with the BEST Montessori teacher ever....thank you Miss Margo...) was "growing and changing", whether that was with plants, or in themselves. Whenever I would assume they liked or disliked something (ex. "I thought you hated peanut butter...") they would pointedly remark, "I'm growing and changing, Mama."

Each year on the first day of school I take a picture of them standing at our front door. It's amazing to see those pictures lined up. In the first, Hannah is alone carrying a backpack that's bigger than her. Then there's their first year together in school, each of them clutching their lunchboxes. In this year's picture they look so happy and sure of themselves. I think back to my own sullen days as a teenager and am so glad to see them this way!

Of course, they are not always "happy campers". We're always having lengthy discussions (ok, I know, they are really lectures...I just can't stop myself) about all the dangers out in the world, and how easily an impulsive wrong decision can change your life for the worse in a split second, etc. etc. I tell them that I trust them, it's the world I'm scared of, but as is natural at this age they want more freedom, more choices, etc. And of course, we are the ONLY PARENTS IN THE WORLD who are this closed minded, etc. etc. Every now and then I'll have a conversation with another beleaguered parent about these things and we always end up saying something like "well, I'm glad I'm not the only one...". I get the feeling we're all recipients of that ONLY PARENTS IN THE WORLD comment ...

This morning Sofia made breakfast for us, a very new thing in this household. We had a talk about colleges and what to look for, where to go, balancing wants and opportunities, scholarships, etc. They were reacting kind of "deer in the headlights" because it seems so far away to them but it's really only 2 years away for Hannah and 4 for Sofia, and time goes by so fast.

After that conversation Sofia came to me and said "Mama, I think I want to be a jounalist" - I was so HAPPY because that's what I originally wanted to become! I told her that I thought it was a good career because it has a lot of flexibility, you can be in publishing, in newspapering, in magazines, freelance, on staff, web based, etc. And, you can combine it with your other interests, ie. music, fashion, science, medicine, politics, travel. I want her to have the world wide open to her though, and told her she has plenty of time to decide and to keep her options open.

Later today Hannah and I took Chinche (dog) for a bath at the "Dirty Dawgz Self Service Pet Wash"--an excellent concept by the way--and then had lunch together at the Cosmic Cafe. It was so nice to have lunch together just us and I started musing about the near future (next 10 years...) and how, soon we wouldn't be living together anymore...and won't share the daily routine of life together. It's a natural part of life, of growing up, and also unimaginable to me. They are indeed growing and changing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Still Far From Home

(View from the top of Capulin Volcano, NM - driving home!)

This is my third week away from home and the strain is begining to show. I have been talking to the girls and Ricardo every night but YA, enough, it's time to go home. I miss my girls!!!! I guess it's a good thing to be gone long enough that we miss each other, absence makes the heart grow fonder and all of that. It's just not the same to talk on the phone! They are growing so fast and seem almost like women to me. When I hear their voices on the phone though they still sound like little girls to me. Peggy and I were remembering the other day when I first started traveling for HIPPY, when they were little, and how I would cry every time I'd see someone with a little girl their ages. We would be at a mall or restaurant somewhere (Colorado, California, New York...) and I'd see someone with a little girl and just break down.

Well, tomorrow I go home, I can't wait!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Working in Wyoming

(View of Copeman's Tomb, Big Horn Mountains, WY)

After a 3 day meeting in Denver, I drove up to Wyoming where my parents are fitting in the last days of their "summer" hiatus. The drive up was a beautiful display of fall colors and such a different view of what I thought I knew so well. The cottonwood trees are a golden yellow, and because they are so huge they can be seen from afar.

I've been getting so much work done here, and enjoyed spending time with my parents, one-on-one, cooking for them, eating together, talking and visiting. For lunch each day I've taken a nice walk, but today it's SNOWING and raining so I've stayed in, plus my back is hurting. If the rain stops I'll go out today too.

Yesterday I went to visit Cliff and Rowena, they are working on starting up a Geo-Science Museum here in Shell! I've committed to helping them. It seems that I can be most useful helping them with their board development and planning at these begining stages, and later on with developing materials for parents and children visiting the museum. It's an exciting project and even moreso to be in on it from the ground level.

I've been getting SO MUCH work done here, on projects and tasks that have been piling up, especially things that take some spreading out and quiet thinking time (neither of which do I have much of at the office). In the evening though, I miss home, and especially my girls. I've been talking to them every day, and yesterday was hard because I feel like I should have been home. Hannah is sick, I think food poinsoning, and Ricardo too, with a cold. They both sounded pretty pitiful over the phone, and are probably staying home today.

I've decided I could make this a habit, saving some heavy thinking and writing work for a trip to Wyoming, and spending time with my mom and dad here for a week or so in the Fall.

Monday, October 02, 2006

What's up ahead?

(View from the porthole of a railcar from Alamosa to LaVeta)

On Saturday I embarked on a road trip from Dallas to Alamosa, Colorado, just me, with the ultimate destination of Denver and later, Shell, Wyoming. It's 706 miles to Alamosa, which is almost 12 hours with no stopping (like that's going to happen...). It didn't take me long to stop at a winery outside of Dallas, one that I'd passed by many times on prior road trips. In the past it always seemed too close to Dallas for me to stop on my way out or on the way back home. But it was just me in the car and I decided to stop anyway. I didn't spend much time there, but it was SO worthwhile. I bought a few bottles of Texas wine, and took some pictures of the grapes and the soap-berry trees that I'll put up later when I get back home.

I only stopped a few other times, for gas, snacks and a few must have pictures...a field of spent sunflowers, some beautiful New Mexico clouds in the sunset. I rolled into Alamosa at almost 10 pm, thanks to gaining an hour when I crossed into Mountain time. I stayed with friends Peggy and Wally in Alamosa, and had a chance to taste the fine Texas wine I bought, not bad at all!

Saturday we went on a train excursion, from Alamosa to La Veta, through some beautiful fall foliage. (I'll also put up pics of that when I get home.) The Aspen trees are a bright, golden yellow right now and stand out beautifully against the pine trees. It's a tourist train and there was a lot of ooh'ing and ahh'ing at the fall colors and scenery. One interesting thing I noticed is the natural human inclination to crane our necks out the window to try to see what's up ahead. After a few hours of this, my neck and I were relieved to get off the train and enjoy the sweet little town of La Veta. Check out the pictures and information on this website: http://www.sangres.com/places/laveta.htm.

We had a nice lunch and peeked into a local art gallery and before you knew it had to get back on the train to return to Alamosa. On the first craning of my neck, the twinge I felt there made me stop to ponder--why am I so focused on trying to see what's ahead when there is some BEAUTIFUL scenery right in front of me? It's such a strong human impulse, to see what's around the bend, what's in the distance, behind the door, in the box, in the future. What about what is right in front of us, why isn't that as valuable? It should be more valuable, it's ours and it's here and now. The more we focus on what's up ahead, the less we can enjoy what we have right now. I made the return trip an exercise in enjoying what I had right before me, and enjoyed it so much more. The little nap I took helped too...