Monday, 28 December 2009

Our own little miracles continued...

One of my favorite miracles this Christmas is all the time with my husband. Scott and I haven’t had 3 whole weeks together without work since he was on disability recovering from a brain tumor in 2002/2003. Since that wasn’t exactly a relaxing time filled with life and love I feel I can safely say this has been a big first. Three whole weeks.

When faced with three whole weeks stretching into the distance one makes all kinds of goals. “We’ll get the closets all cleaned out!” “Well take tons of long walks!” “Go running every day!” “Get lots of sleep and get ourselves in the habit of waking up early…”

Then you realize how much you’ve missed one another. You make love. You stay up late watching movies. You act like cheesy teenagers making mixes of love songs on your iPod. You say lots of things like, “How in the world did it get to be 1:30 am!?!?” And you know why. Because somehow three whole weeks reminds you what you knew way back when: That a lifetime would never hold enough days to spend together. And you relish in the miracle that you’re still together. That you’re still in love. That the other is still the one—the only one—you’d want to stay up until 1:30 am with over and over again.

The key to a man's heart...

It just goes to show that no matter the culture—a man needs the right gear.

Of all of the presents I gave Scott this year I can definitely say the incense burner was the most unexpected. He loved it. A friend of his in Bahrain had given him a beautiful salmon colored jar of incense a couple of months ago. It smelled gorgeous, but there was no way to burn it. Great time of year for such a dilema!

He left it out on the table tonight while he ran to the Off License. When he got home the boys were rarin’ to go—it was something to do with fire after all!

Light the charcoal, sprinkle the incense, let things smell delicious. Seemed simple enough to me. But next thing I knew the boys were dressed in beanies and wellies, standing on the back porch over Scott’s camp stove, absolutely ecstatic about the prospect of lighting the charcoal over the stove in the great outdoors. Scott was giddy—a new toy AND an excuse to use the camp stove? Oustide? In the cold!?!? No matter that it’s not at altitude or used in conjunction with some sub-zero sleeping bags. It was fire. Over a tiny, expensive, titanium stove. And it was clearly deliciously delightful.

They brought the charcoal in and added it to the brass incense burner. Smoke drifted out the little star and moon shaped holes and it did indeed smell gorgeous. The boys (all 3 of them) had a great time carrying it to various rooms to spread the yummy smells. It was cuteness!

Boys need gear. Be it camping stoves or brass incense burners the right gear is the way to any man’s heart.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

our own little miracles

“…but this year it’s different for you and for me. Our own little miracle on our own little street. “

What a year. What a Christmas. What priceless, precious miracles. Sometimes I miss the forest for the trees so-to-speak. The miracles right in front of me. Somehow, this year has been different. So in the interest of noticing. Of being grateful. Of being present, I thought I’d share some of our miracles. Here’s one:

A couple of months ago Bridger said, “If the choice was London or Denver for Christmas, you’d definitely want to choose Denver! London is RUBISH for Christmas!” Some questioning revealed that the main factor was weather. As far as Bridger was concerned who in their right mind would want to spend Christmas in the rain instead of the snow?!

A week and a half ago a drive through the country to a friend’s house included a going through what is usually dubbed, “The Green Tunnel.” A gorgeous canopy of trees and shrubs trimmed to make a perfectly shaped tunnel. Bridger said, “Imagine if it were snowing. Then this would be the white tunnel, and that would be paradise!” Bridger told our friend that day, “It’s going to snow. I can FEEL it.” We all tried to be kind, but were gearing up for his heartache. But the next day, on our way home from an epic trek through the local woods we watched the first of the snowflakes fall. A miracle. Snow in London. Good ol’ ‘rubbish weather’ London. Not just a few wet flakes either, but what our English friends appropriately called ‘proper snow!’ Complete and utter joy filled the Anderberg house. A white Christmas in England!

When I asked B about it later he replied, “Yeah. I asked. I wrote it in my note to Santa. I bet Santa went to the Lord and said, ‘Hey Lord? Do you think we could do that for Bridge?’ and the Lord said, “Yeah. Let’s do it.”

I’m guessing that’s exactly how it went down, and I sure am grateful.

Monday, 16 November 2009

There's no place like the woods...

I sigh and force myself into buttoned up multi-layers. Prodding and nagging the boys out the door and hoping it will help me leave too. Glad that ‘daily walk’ is written in bold on the day’s schedule and cannot be argued with. I’m cold and stuffy inside, and I don’t feel like going out.

We traipse through the village, past the back way to Blanchman’s, and almost miss the turn off of Bug Hill to our trail. Then all of the sudden I feel better. The steep path garners hilarious giggles and shouts as the boys try to stay upright but insist on running down full-tilt. We laugh at the funny Dr Seuss shaped mushrooms. We squeal and hold on to trees when the path gets almost slick enough to sled down. Who knew the woods held so much hilarity?

I marvel at the colors. Greens in all shades from dark and regal to lime-ish yellow. Reds so burgundy they’re almost purple and browns so rich they’re almost black. Yellow leaves not quite fallen. Bright winking holly berries. It’s a wood in autumn. Though granted a much longer autumnal process than this Rocky Mountain girl is used to.

The boys pick up sticks. Bridger lags behind. Fighting off pirates and playing the ‘two sworded man.’ Caid holds my hand, small and cool in my own warm one. He wields his stick and can’t decide whether it is a dagger or a long-knife. I am told it is most definitely not the same thing.

I love the squelch-squirch our wellies make in the mud and rotting leaves. The tear in the top of one of mine prevents me from measuring the depth of each puddle with the boys, but I am a judicial observer. Helping to decide which is definitely the biggest. No longer cold or stuffy we all unzip our jackets and unbutton our sweaters. My pockets are full of our beanies and we relish the wind in our faces.

Here’s the old man’s hut tucked away in the woods. There’s the ring of bright red mushrooms that Kelly said must have been put there by fairies. Even the sun peaks out for a few minutes to brighten up our magical woods-time.

Then all of a sudden we’re on the road again. Walking through the village to the next thing on the schedule for the day. But I am changed. The day has brightened. Deepened. I am a little more present and a lot more delighted. There’s no place like the woods...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Village Life

A long walk in the country through beautiful woods and a farmer’s open field. A one-block walking trip to the Green to run my errands including: Salmon from the fishmonger. A deposit to the farmstand man for a turkey. No matter that he can’t understand why in the world I’d want one BEFORE Christmas. Mail some letters at the post office. Check out some books at the library. Then it’s home and a hot cup of tea.

Drop the boys with Alex’s Nana who graciously watches three sets of kiddos. An evening dinner with friends at Bagatti’s where each owner/host kisses me on both cheeks. Delightful gluten free pasta and even more delightful company. Hilarious rides home in the late hours full of screaching, laughing, and the sorts of jokes only old-friends really tell but new friends can still very much enjoy.

Sleepovers with warm cuddly boys while their daddy is away. Agitated almost seven year olds who finally curl up and pour their heart out with lonliness, and homesickness, and longings too heavy to bear. Sobbing and cuddling like he did when he was much smaller.

Spicy pumpkin cakes baked with helps from small hands. Yummy spicy smells and Christmas music blaring and copious cups of tea. Locking myself out of the house and running to the neighbors for a spare.

Fantastic fireworks experienced in bundle-up cold. Oo-ing and Ah-ing and delightful sparkly lights. Huge bonfires in the back ‘garden’ (not yard) with ‘jacket’ potatoes (not baked potatoes) and chili and mulled wine. Followed up by more cuddly sleepovers in Mama’s room.

Hurried breakfast and a uniformed Rememberance Day Parade. A friend's husband makes me emotional in his RAF uniform--recalling brothers also off fighting wars. Bridger marches proudly behind the band in his Cub Scout uniform. We are back at the Green. The local Vicar is leading a Rememberance Service. A woman is reading the names of Warlingham boys lost in the two Great Wars. A young girl in a school uniform places a poppy-wreath at the base of the memorial in the center of the Green.

I am full. Warm. Content. Included. Surrounded by love. And thankful beyond measure--in spite of my own homesick longings--for this village life we are leading.

Thursday, 27 August 2009


I wrote a Thank You Note to the flight attendants. I felt compelled to after the fat American lady behind me made another snotty comment in her loud midwest accent.

Flight Attendant: What would you like to drink?

Snotty Lady: Water please

FA, nicely: Okay, I’m out it will be just one minute.

about 30 seconds pass while the FA helps the people across the aisle.

SL, a little louder and more than a little bit insistent: Can I HA-AVE some WATER?!?!

FA, still sweetly: Yes. I’m just waiting for it to come from the back. I’m out.

SL, 30 seconds later as she hands the FA back her water: I don’t like ice in my water!

FA says nothing. Takes the glass. Dumps the ice and refills it with tepid water.

SL: Thank yewe!

I heard it all and cringed. So I decided to write them a note.

Bridger loves planes. When we took off he grinned a huge grin and said, “We’re flying! I love flying! I didn’t expect to get to fly today! That’s a treat!”

I did actually expect to fly today. Scott had booked me a bereavement ticket to fly home to my Papa’s funeral. He’s been battling cancer and had slipped into a coma Saturday night. Sunday night he passed away, peacefully. With my mom, his only daughter, by his side.

But here I am. Flying not towards Oklahoma City where I planned to honor the life of an old man sick with cancer who we knew was on his way home soon, but instead to Denver, CO, to honor a young man who suddenly, inexplicably, is gone.

It’s funny, Bridger’s comment about flying because in the wake of such tragic circumstances he’s so cheerful. Seeing the sliver lining. “We get to have an adventure today! That’s fun!” Finding the adventure and fun is just what I imagine Sawan would have done. He was always a glass half-full kind of a guy.

This morning as I ran to ask a neighbor to look after the house and mail while we were away Caid approached Scott. The tears flowed as he fretted about never being able to learn to surf. He had always planned to learn from Uncle Sawan.

Sawan loved to surf. He grew up in Hawaii and always had great stories to tell about life on the islands. Picking pineapples when they were ripe (apparently they turn a bit orangey-brown on the outside). Scaring his mom to death when he fell asleep on a bus the first time his mom let him go alone and rode it all the way past the end of the line--to the other side of the mountain--before he’d realized his mistake. Swim team escapades. A bad jeep accident. Hilarious 80s hairdos.

He and Caid had a special connection, and I always assumed there’d be a lot of things he’d learn from Uncle Sawan. They looked similar. Their hair faded to the same brownish/blonde with frosty tips when they’d been in the sun. They had the same brown suntanned tone to their skin. They both loved to cook. They both love all things water. Sawan was an amazing fly fisherman. Pulling as many as 30 fish out of holes from which other guys could only coax a few. I’ve watched him do it. On my 30th birthday a bunch of folks threw a surprise party for me at a cabin in Montana. Sawan helped Caid catch some fish and showed him how to pull them out of the water and even let him hold one. One of my favorite Caid photos is of that weekend. Proudly holding a fish, standing in the creek with his Uncle Sawan.

One of the pride and joys of the last few years for Sawan was the weekend he spent volunteering for Casting for Recovery. His mama died of breast cancer a few years ago. As a son of a single mom he was so close to her and you knew the pain was still so fresh. His eyes would sparkle and light up as he told story after story of his weekends with the women recovering from breast cancer and how he’d help them land a huge fish.

He always had his digital camera with him and like a true fisherman he loved to tell fish stories and show the photos of the fish he’d caught on his latest early morning trek to the mountain streams. But it was those photos of the sweet ladies in pink hats he was always the proudest of. Holding up their fish with him standing beside them in his waiters. I wept this morning as Caid buried his head in my chest and said, “Oooooohhhh! Now I’ll never learn to fish.” May that not be true. May Sawan’s legacy and passion for fly fishing live on.

I loved to cook with Sawan. We’d stand in my mom’s kitchen and berate her lack of good knives and garlic and laugh and tell stories and improvise great dinners or brunches. Adding funny gluten free ingredients to thicken the gravy. Making fancy deviled eggs. Kick ass salads. Damn that man could make a good salad.

It felt from day one that Sawan had always been apart of our family. His passion. His hilarious story telling--a favorite pastime of us Hoggatts. He fit. I loved him very much. I remember the relief and excitement I felt one night as the topic turned to birth--my particular passion--and he began to relate stories of his own Hippie midwife mama. He attended a lot of births with her, and he’d back up what I know sometimes feels to the rest of my family like my mad assertions. It was such a special connection with him. But then again it wasn’t hard to connect with Sawan. He was always so open. So honest. So real about his life and his journey--the good parts and the bad.

So it made sense to me today, as I heard Snotty Lady berate the Flight Attendant to write a little note. Just to say thanks for smoothing the journey. For bringing me extra water when my buckets of tears left me really dehydrated. For being sweet to my boys. For doing what they do. What I imagine Sawan’s mama would have done.

She was a flight attendant. I loved the stories he’d tell about trips they’d take to crazy far off places. I always thought it was cool to hear about the tickets she’d get him for cheap when he got older and the exotic places he went. The coffee he’d drink at a little hut on some distant beach. The seedy hotel that allowed him to stretch his money a little further and stay a little longer.

I imagine they’re up there right now. Visiting exotic reaches of heaven. Laughing, telling stories. And I can’t wait to someday hear about all the fish he’s catching with the ultimate Fisherman of all.

If you'd like to learn more about Sawan, attend his funeral, or make a donation to his memorial fund please visit

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Day 1

Day 1 of our staycation. Scott left town this morning, and I have determined we are going to start acting like we're on Summer vacation! Gave the boys the choice of 1) driving to Brighton to be at the seaside and find a fun new adventure, 2) Hever Castle's playground and water maze with picnic, or 3) go to Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens to the Peter Pan Playground, Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, etc. They enthusiastically decided "THE CITY!!!"
So we've made a picnic of hummus sandwiches, cucumbers, nuts and strawberries. Swimsuits and sand toys are packed. We've all had a shower and we're headed in! Good times ahead for all I'm sure!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

June 25th, 2009

I have this thing when I travel about “wandering around.” It annoys me. Walking forever with no particular destination searching for something, but who knows quite what. It sounds romantic, but usually I end up with sore feet, low blood sugar, and a really cranky disposition. It’s the stuff of epic marital fights. I’m anti-wandering around.

Today I laid in my bed after Scott went to work just relishing. The perfectly weighted covers. The luxurious pillows. The soft sheets. The gorgeous decor. Mostly just the entire morning stretched out before me with nowhere in particular I needed to be and no one in particular to look after except myself. A long shower. Time to pluck my eyebrows. Then onward--to wherever I wanted to go.

And you know it’s funny, but I found myself wandering around. Just walking with no particular destination. Searching...mmm, maybe for breakfast, but mostly for I don’t know what.

Before I knew it, I was standing the queue at Berthillon on Île Saint Louis. I had un double cornet de glace avec chocolat et café. Delicious. Then un baguette au jambon et au fromage from the guy with the Obama/Biden sticker on his counter. I ate my ice cream watching a couple practice yoga on the one of the little stone outcroppings along the Sienne. Now I am eating my sandwich and watching kiddos play on the playground behind the Notre Dame Cathedral.

It smells like cigarette smoke and kicked up dust and something in between soap and hairspray. I can hear the squeak of swings that need to be oiled and church bells and the high, whiney engines of scooters. The ting ting of bicycle bells and children’s squeals and the passionate sing-song of the French language being spoken all around me. I’m captivated. I want no other destination than this. I know the “something” I was searching for--this gorgeous and perfectly satisfying smorgasbord of humanity. Mmmmmmm...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

One of the lucky ones

There’s nothing like Paris. 9:30 arrival on the Eurostar. Packed and stinky metro ride then walk to the hotel. A passionate quickie. A shower. Change our clothes. Then head to the restaurant for dinner reservations at 10:30. Dinner is fabulous. Pink champagne and melon avec jambon. Sweet and salty lamb and then a glorious crème brûlée. Delicious for certain, but it’s the ambiance that really captures. It’s hard to believe it’s Wednesday night. Streets and cafes packed to the gils on a weeknight. The women in black eighties-style dresses, or jeans with soft and feminine white peasant tops. Fantastic bags and fancy flip-flops. The men with wild hair and trashy T-shirts. Worn out chucks or Euro-style black leather half-boots. Everyone is smoking and drinking Rosé. The pretty hostess gets an entire line of traffic to wait for her guests taxi, “Duex Minutes!” she signals and there’s nary a honk as she sends the guests on their way.

Everyone’s friends stop by and by the end of the meal the waitstaff are all smoking and drinking as they clear up. A huge table is put out front under the propane heaters and fills quickly with proprietors and customers and friends. I’m reminded why this has been such a hot bed of art and philosophy and writing. I wish my French was good enough to pull up a seat and join in the passionately laissez-faire exchange.

Instead we walk back to the hotel through an ancient church courtyard. My heals make a nice clop-clop accompaniment to the giggles and moans from the couple making out against the wall. Geraniums trail down from every window and some 20-something immigrants are playing football in the the empty market grounds. It’s 1 a.m. and cigarette butts litter the ground and revelers are starting home. Not quiet, by any means, but quieter. I feel fabulous in my black dress, but my feet are unaccostomed to heals. I fall into bed feeling like one of the lucky ones.

What a night.

Sunshine and Warmth

I wrote this blog entry on June 25th--right before temps went up into the high 70s/low 80s.  It was plenty hot--not nearly as hot as I love summer to get, but then again there’s no air conditioning either.  Plus the humidity adds to how hot it feels.  Suffice it to say I loved wearing my flops every day.  Last night at a neighborhood BBQ however, it was so cold I could see my breath.  Sigh...

I have a sunburn today.  A nice rosy glow which feels a bit like an admonishment and more than just a little ironic considering I don’t know what I was thinking.  Making assumptions most likely, and you know what assuming does.

It started to worry me when my English neighbors described the barely 70 degree weather as “hot.”  So I looked it up.  For England, that is hot.  Days in the high 70s are rare and it almost never gets up into the 80s.  

I was fit to be tied.  WHAT?!?!  WHAT?!?!  In their so called “hot” days I’m still wearing lambskin boots and wool sweaters--not to mention the down vest! I know it seems minor, and perhaps I am overreacting, but this Colorado girl has come to love her 300+ days of sunshine per year (here they measure it by the hour--God help me!).  I thought the last two summers by the pool were just about heaven.  It’s been tough.  It was just heating up when I left Denver this last visit. To return to the cool temps this side of the pond and learn it isn’t going to get any better?  It’s a bit much to bear.  Add to that the lingering feeling of coolness I have felt in my relationships and encounters with English people and well...I was having one of those weeks.

Saturday was the Warlingham Village Fair.  I wore a wool sweater and my down vest for crying out loud.  I was such a grump on the way there that Scott asked me if I maybe needed to go home until I could be sweet.  “NO!” was my ever-so-gracious reply.

The boys had a pony ride and won some plastic weaponry in the hook-a-plastic-Dalmatian game.  Then our neighbor Kelly ‘roped’ us into doing the tug-of-war.  A short while later we were stretched out on the grass chatting away like old friends with our fellow teammates.  The boys joined in quickly with their sons and daughters.  By the end of the day we had played badminton and even BASEBALL!! with our new friends in the park, got rained on, sustained a few injuries, and what do you know--got sunburnt.  

We’ve been to play again at Kelly’s this week.  Another sunny English day that saw the boys splashing in the paddling pool and having tea on the grass with their friends.  I woke up this morning with another sunburn.  A pink nose and a new perspective.  Maybe it’s not quite as cold here as I thought.

Saturday, 4 July 2009


A woman ought to be able to walk barefoot through her own effing house.  A house she regularly vacuums, I might add.  A woman ought to be able to run downstairs in the semi-darkness to collect stuffed animals for her young sons without fear of squishing her heal squarely on top of a nasty, slimy slug.  I don't care who you are, or what part of the world you live in--that ain't right.  

Friday, 12 June 2009

Top Five Favorite Baseball Moments of All Time

When it comes to baseball I'm no expert, but I do pretty well. Especially for a girl. I know what a Fielder's Choice is and I can explain the Dropped Third Strike rule. I'm less a baseball fan than a Rockies Fan, and there's not many places in the world I'd rather be on a cool June night than at Coors Field. I was there tonight with Bridger, Caid and several members of my fam and it got me thinking about how the Rockies have shaped me as a mom and about my Top Five Favorite Baseball Moments of All Time.

The Wildcard Tie-breaker game of 2007 certainly comes to mind. Watching Matt Holiday slide across home and into history. That was one hell of a baseball moment. Thousands of fans screaming, yelling, celebrating. One shining moment of total unity and community as we all let loose our emotion and joined in a collective, “WOO HOO!” I loved watching my son Bridger. Four years old that summer. Able to name every player on the roster including their name, number, and position. He could recognize them all by number and was often our point guy—“Hey Bridger? Who’s number…?” Didn’t matter who it was he could tell you.

The exhaustingly fantastic 21 wins out of 22 at the end of 2007. Sure there were several games, but that was a ‘moment’ in Rockies fan history we’ll never forget.

The Allstar game of 2004. We let Bridger stay up late. The image of his chubby toddler body squatting to be the catcher, winding up as the pitcher, swinging his imaginary bat as the hitter—it’s indelibly printed in my mind. Dressed in pin striped pajamas and sporting his Rockies cap and his glove. He stayed awake until the very end of that game. 10:30pm and he wasn’t even two years old. After we put him to bed, I hopped into the shower where my water broke. Caid was born later that night. Kincaid Joshua Anderberg—named Kincaid after a character in one of my favorite books, The Brothers K. A fantastic baseball book if ever there was one.

A game one night in July 2002. I don’t remember who we played, but I’ll never forget the two cutie pie little Rockies fans I sat next to that game. Aged approximately 3 & 5. Rockies t-shirts and ball caps. I’d just had THE ultrasound that morning. The one where I was told the little newborn sized red gingham dress with the cherries on the front wouldn’t be needed—we were having a boy. WHAT?!?! I wasn’t sure what in the world I would do with a boy. I was shocked—and worried. Over and over again the little boys next to me would yell, “Laaaaaaarrry WALK-ER!” They stayed for the whole game and it wasn’t just for the snacks. They clearly loved baseball. Those boys gave me hope. Maybe being a ‘boy mom’ wouldn’t be so bad after all.

If you had told me then that one of the biggest heart aches for our family in moving to London would be leaving our beloved Rockies, I would not have believed you. I remember the day Bridger asked, "But Mom, why would we move to London when the Rockies play HERE?" I wouldn't have believed it would be their once anti-baseball daddy who would get the projector all rigged up this year and make everyone dress in Rockies duds for the first game of the season watched so many thousands of miles away. How could I have known then how wonderful it would be to snuggle up to my little boys every morning as we check scores and stats and watch highlights on my iPhone from the games the night before. That gingham dresses would pale in comparison to dozens of Rockies tshirts and adorable Rockies uniforms. That the little boy in my womb would cry when his favorite players got traded and check the standings every single day.

I think the 5th ‘Top 5 Moment’ would be tonight. Sitting between my little Rockies fans. Dressed up in their full baseball regalia. “Laaaaaaaaarrry WALK-ER” has been replaced by ‘TU-LO! TU-LO! TU-LO!’ but the sentiment is the same. Two little boys. Two cutie pie brothers. One stoked to learn the difference between a safety squeeze and a suicide squeeze and to see Ubaldo pitch 9 innings. The other with a Rockies flag he’d bought with hard-earned chores money. He turned to me at one point and said, “Isn’t this a GREAT game?!?!” I thought, "Yep!" This is a great game. It might be just a baseball game to everyone else, but to me it’s the thing that brought me together with my boys. The game that made being a ‘boy mom’ one of the “Top 5 Greatest Things of All Time.”

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Alexandria, VA

There’s just nothing like reuniting with old friends.  The taxi drops you off at the front door and you pick right up where you left off.  Someone to laugh at even the stupidest of your jokes.  Who chuckles at your silly dances.  Knows you love margaritas.  Picks up blue corn chips at the store to have waiting for you.  

Old friends who sit on back porches--no matter where in the world the back porch sits.  Talking, praying, laughing, or crying.  Pontificating.  Listening.  Asking the hard questions and knowing when to just leave you be.  Recommending good books and stupidly hilarious movies.  Challenging your thinking.  Expecting your best and accepting you in your worst.  

Outdoor cafes line the side walk of the small Virginia town where they live.  Shorts and sundresses the uniform of the patrons.  Pitchers of sangria and margaritas the size of your head.  The parks are full of dozens of strollers toting sun-hatted cutie pies with sippy cups and sleepy chubby cheeks.  Flower beds are filled with elephant-eared hostas and waxy leafed day lilies, variegated grasses and a star-flowered tree I don’t recognize but instantly love.  

The Dairy Godmother on the main street serves up ‘nostalgic treats,’ and I feel like I’ve been enjoying them everyday since I got here.  This little town takes me back to my Oklahoma childhood.  Old school houses with front porches.  Porch swings and gliding chairs with people actually sitting in them!  Flowering trees and fresh-cut grass that smells to my heart like bike rides and ice cream trucks.  

The air is sticky and damp.  The rain comes down warm and it makes me want to run outside in my swimming suit to make stick-dams in the gutter.  Laughing and splashing and then wrapping up in towels on the front porch and eating popsicles when it cools down.  I find myself going barefoot and wishing to goodness I could do it every day of my life.  

We eat hamburgers and kick-ass french fries.  Guacamole and homemade salsa (with the yummy blue corn chips!)  Tacos and sodas and Heinz catchup.  I have a Dr. Pepper for old times sake.

People say “good mornin’” and “how you doin’?” and “nice day, isn’t it?” and it almost makes me cry with relief.  These too, these smells, and sounds and foods and spoken phrases are like old friends.  I say, “Well, thank you!  How you?” and “Sure is a gorgeous day we’re havin’!” and it feels like picking up right where I left off.  

Monday, 18 May 2009

Swimming Lessons

Smooth and slow strokes, Bridge. Smoooooooth and sloooooooow. When you jump into the pool and panic, your lungs go ‘CCCCRRRRRRKKKK’ and you can’t breath! The dog paddling takes you forever to get where you’re going. If you can relax, go smooth and slow, you actually get there quicker!

So as soon as we got home I was freaking out. Okay, truthfully I started freaking out in a little square in Barcelona over tapas. Realizing the postcards had not/would not get written let alone sent before we headed out. The weight of preparing to go Stateside descended. Visions of the mountains of laundry dominating my thoughts. “Four weeks away from Scotty” blinking like an obnoxious neon sign in my not-so-subconscious. So I did what any normal person would do—I started dog paddling like mad.

Me: Good one! Did you notice that? You got there so much quicker that time!
B: Yeah, cause I started to dog paddle and I just thought, ‘Relax! Slow and smooth, slow and smooth, slow and smooth.’

I did laundry all day. Load after load. One right after the other. Tying up loose ends on the computer. Once in a while trying to escape into the world of facebook and then beating myself up for it. I vacuumed. I straightened. I was a tight, angry ball.
I went to see my osteopath for an adjustment. He said my body was really tired. He asked me if I noticed that I was flinching every time he moved my muscles. Said it seemed like, “Mum’s not taking good care of herself.” He was right and I felt my shoulders lifted in a tight ‘shrug’ like I was bracing myself for something.
I fought with Scott. I told him the weight of the world was on my shoulders. We made a list of what specifically I did feel was on my shoulders, and I was astounded and embarrassed and frustrated with myself—somehow I really had taken the weight of the world on my shoulders. The number and magnitude of the things I was carrying? Goodness. It’s a wonder I could stand up.
We manage to get everything but the socks and underwear packed before bed but still the next morning I was exhausted. Angry. Sad.

B: Mom, I’m going to swim all the way to the other side this time! I can do it!
Halfway over he stops and panics and swims to where I am standing. Spluttering for just a second. Then he says: “I just needed a little break!” as he heads to the other side.

We wake up to little boys snuggling in our bed. Scott sends them to play and holds me tight. I am tight. Distant. He persists. He makes gently makes me look him in the eye. He smoothes out the furrows between my eyebrows with his fingers. I splutter. I move my arms and legs fast. I’m getting nowhere. He holds tighter. He nuzzles me and hugs me. I try smooth. I embrace slow. We make love and all of the sudden I can breath.
I come downstairs and we listen to the Valentines 2009 mix. I cry. I’m going to miss him so much. It occurs to me how blessed I am to feel that way and how much hard work and perseverance got us to that place.

B: I did it! Smooth and slow just like you said! Did you see me?!?! I got ALL THE WAY to the other side! I am awesome!

We quick get dressed and head into the city. There’s nearly a hiccup—several lines of the tube aren’t running. And we flounder around. I find myself spluttering. Then I relax. Smooth. Slow. We go outside. We grin at each other. “Want to figure out how to ride the bus in this city?” It’s great fun. Orienting. Out in the open. We can breath.
We have an old school Children’s Book Store date. Bridger and Caid are excellent additions to the ritual. We visit Borough Market—my favorite London place. We eat yummy treats and walk around in the scads of people. We go home and play baseball. We read Winnie the Pooh. We pack. We go to bed late.
The next morning on the way to the airport Scott says, “I think you’re going to need to get up every morning and decide not to carry anything that is not yours. There will be plenty to pick up. You go three days of picking stuff up and you’re going to be a wreck.”

Smooth and slow. If you can just relax…you actually get there quicker.

Barcelona Highlights Days 3-5

Day 3
Playing in the sand with sand toys and plastic bags (who knew they could be such perfect sand tools!).
Eating avocados with our fingers and no knife.
The boys running through the showers instead of swimming at the first beach because the waves were too strong.
“Laps” as Bridger called them into and out of the sea over and over again holding hands (at the second beach).
La Fonda again for dinner with yummy Prosecco, paella, doting waiters and the bonus of an unexpected evening with Scott!

Day 4
Churros and chocolate.
Mercat de la Boqueria again for breakfast.
Tummy aches and subsequent naps at the hotel.
Rallying and heading back out.
The Teleferic! A gondola ride the boys were totally stoked about with great views of the city.
The Montjuic Castle.
B’s game at the Military Museum—“Okay, which cannon would you choose? Now choose your armor. Ooooo! This is my sword!”
Meeting Scott at the top of the hill for another unexpected evening to spend together.
Dinner at Silenus—a great find by Scott even though I had resigned myself to the night being ruined.
Catalunya Square shut down for the Barca/Madrid game. Thousands of fans everywhere cheering and excited!
The taxi driver who illegally drove us out of the Catalunya Square are (all the streets were technically shut down and there were riot police everywhere).
Proof that it DOES always work out.

Day 5
Bonus time with Scott.
The Market on last time!
Tapas in a little square in the rain.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Barcelona is delicious. Mango-coconut juices and salty stacks of every kind of nut. Soft and spicy paella spiked with gigantic prawns and succulent bits of pork ribs. Smooth avocados peeled and eaten in the sand and smooshed all over our faces and underneath our fingernails.

The uncles and aunties ruffle the boys hair and help them with their tickets on the metro. The abuelas wink and the grandfathers chuckle and lift them into seats on the bus. The boys play their part—charming everyone with their sincerest attempts at por favor and gracias.

The sound of the waves crashing against the sand. Chubby dark skinned beauties squealing with delight. Rolled ‘r’s and the passionate music of spoken Spanish and Catalonian.

I’m getting better at this. I had no plan when we arrived. Only a few pages hastily printed at 11:30 pm the night before we left. But each day we have an idea and we follow our noses and our instinct to out of the way xocoa shops and cool squares with fountains and random jugglers.

I let the boys teach me about being present. Stopping at every pet stand on Las Ramblas—proving that just because you’ve seen one does not mean you’ve seen them all. Making games in the hotel room and at restaurants and to help pass the time when we go the wrong way and have to walk a long way back.

They teach me about living with reckless abandon. Throwing themselves in the sand fully clothed to make ‘sand angels.’ ‘Ah come on, Mama! It’ll be fine!’ B said when I declined. They climb to the very top of the rope structure and then shout, ‘Look at me, Mama! I’m not even holding on!’

We see lots of important things and decide that perhaps Gaudi’s greatest contribution to art and architecture is providing the perfect place to play tag.

Concessions and compromises are made. Bridger does not have to hold my hand, but he does have to walk right in front of me. Caid can play with the random card board box—soaking it in the waves and tearing it into tiny pieces—so long as he promises to throw it all away when he is done. He does throw it, without being reminded.

We improvise. Plastic bags—not store bought toys—end up being the tool of choice in the sand. The boys run through the beach-shower ‘sprinklers’ since the waves are too strong for swimming. We all four sleep in on king sized bed instead of two doubles. There is a pull out single bed, but even big boys don’t want to be left out of the snuggling cuddle fest. (A fact I discovered after sensing some sniffles from the little bed after lights out. Me: B, are you alright? B: um…yeah. Me: Is something wrong, Beast? B: It’s just that…no, nothings wrong. Me: Oh sweety, what’s the matter? B: (crying) Well, I just want to snuggle with you all night too! Me: Oh good! Will you please? I was hoping you would!)

We miss Scott during his 9am to 2am schedule, but we’re so thankful to be here. To have a nice hotel. To snuggle up with him when he gets in. We take lots of pictures to keep him updated on our day.

We fall deeper in love. With travelling. With a new culture. With one another and our own unique expression of family.

What a life.

Monday, 11 May 2009

I am in love. With a new city. Barcelona, to be exact. I knew it was going to be a match made in heaven when we stepped off the plane into the damp, sea-salty air. We dropped our bags off and headed out. It’s so…European. Mmmmmmm…that is the resounding emotion. My senses are filled to the brim and every one of them gives a resounding, mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

It smells good. A mixture of dust and sea air and cigarette smoke. Dirty bodies and car exhaust and unbelievably yummy food. It smells like LIFE and people and…mmmmmmm. It tastes good. The fresh fruit juices at the market. The cava served freezing cold from an ice bucket at my side. Everything drowning in olive oil. And the paella—oh the paella! It feels good. Bustling and busy, but no one in a bad mood. The waiters tease my boys and tousle their hair and give them a million candies on their way out the door. The grandmothers on the subway wink at Caid and ask questions in Spanish and praise the boys’ attempts at ‘por favor’ and ‘gracias.’ It sounds good. I’m thinking I need to learn to speak Spanish. I love the passionate sounds all around us. The tiny horns of the millions of scooters. The kids and the dogs and the vendors and the tiny chicks in their cages along Las Ramblas.

Highlights from Day 1:
Playing tag among the columns at Gaudi’s Park Guell.

Picking out the different ‘stories’ told by the Nativity Façade at La Sagrada Familia. Bridger loved this and begged for ‘more stories.’

Watching the boys jump off benches. Making friends with the locals and playing football with their ball at the playground.

The walk along the sea front and incredible dinner at La Fonda. YUM!

The sea! Including squishing our toes in the sand. ‘Sand Angels’! Uproarious giggles as we tried to let the waves just barely lick our toes. The boys absolute delight at seeing the water.

Falling exhausted into bed (3 of us in the king sized bed and one on the little pull-out couch bed).

Highlights from Day 2:
Beginning and ending the day in the hotel pool. Including watching the boys’ ‘moves’ as they jumped to me in the deep end over and over and over again.

Mercado de la Boqueria. Avocados the size of small melons. Mounds of the most beautiful fresh fruit I have ever seen. Nuts and chocolates and fresh fruit juices to die for!

Our yummy dinner of fruit and avocados and nuts on the floor of the hotel room.

The boys’ amazing cheerfulness and resilience even though we kind of wandered around a lot as I got lost several times.

Can’t wait for tomorrow!

Thursday, 16 April 2009


“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want--oh you don’t quite know what it is you want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”--Mark Twain

I’ve got that.  The heartache.  The longing for I’m not sure what.  A day with sunshine finds my heart leaping and rejoicing and both the present and the future seem so bright.  A day with overcast clouds always makes me want to stay in my jammies and sometimes sends me into fits of depressed self examination--not to mention fear and uncertainty.  Such is the reality of April, I suppose.  Such is the reality of a new season in a new land.  

Spring here is beautiful.  First there were blankets of waxy green leaves poking up here and there in huge clusters in the grass.  Nettles appeared on the bridleways and public footpaths along with something that reminds me of parsley.  The waxy green leaves turned out to be crocuses.  Mass amounts of purple and white and yellow all blooming right there in the middle of the grass in parks and yards all around.  So cute and so helpful.  They whispered to me the secret, “Don’t worry!  Spring is around the corner!”  When the daffodils bloomed I was beside myself with the sheer beauty.  Hundreds and thousands of daffodils all blooming--a little more intentionally planted mind you--but right there in the middle of the parks.  By the time the azalias and apple trees put on their blossoms I started to hope.  Hope that I might come to like and appreciate and even ENJOY this new country we live in.  

Winter here was wicked.  Cold and wet and the sun shone for such a very short period of time every day.  All of the sudden it was March and I felt I’d been under a rock since Christmas.  Perhaps that’s why the blogs were so few and far between.  I couldn’t bring myself to do much except move through the days and weeks with one foot in front of the other.  We moved of course.  We began our homeschooling journey.  We had company from the States.  That’s a ton, I now realize.  Still, somehow I felt stuck.  Dormant.  Then the crocuses came, and I began to understand the life of a bulb.  The sense in the seasons.  The need for the quiet and the dark.  Maybe I too, could wake up and be brave enough to extend my fragile tendrils towards the sun.    

I was sure for a while that the thing making my heart ache--the thing that I wanted so was home.  This journey to England has not been easy.  Loneliness.  Depression.  Questioning. Why did we do this again? Worrying.  Wondering.  So much to give up, and it is hard sometimes to see what I am gaining in exchange.  What’s a few castles compared to the comfort and familiarity of an afternoon with my mom and sisters or the epic snow forts in the back yard.  What is adventure compared to Opening Day at Coors Field?  

It’s hard to even admit that it is hard.  Sometimes I think people will judge me or be angry that I am struggling.  “Look what you get to do!”  the judge in my head says.  “You should be thankful!  Lots of people would give their right arm to experience what you are experiencing!”  But if they knew, would they keep their appendages?  Knew the loneliness of new rules in friend-making.  Months gone by without coffee or lunch dates or girls night outs or backyard fire-pit evenings filled with good company and good food.  Knew the pain in their child’s eyes when he realizes there are no friends to spend a holiday with and daddy isn’t even home.  Knew the physical stress that comes with navigating a new culture’s grocery offerings and a new climate’s deep effect on the psyche.  Would they do it if they knew that dates with spouses would be very rare?  That there is no equivalent to Target and it’s difficult to find something as simple as a pair of little boy’s jeans?  

Would I have come if I could have known?  I always remember what Aslan says more than once to Lucy throughout different Narnia books.  “No one is ever told what could have been.”  

Still, here I am.  It’s hard.  It’s hard to sit at home while Scott travels the world.  It’s hard to navigate new friendships.  It’s hard to live in a country with so very little sunlight.  But then Spring has arrived, and I feel myself beginning to awaken.  

Awakening to the beauty of this climate.  There are flowers absolutely everywhere and more to come!  Many of the trees still don’t have their leaves but we have lettuce and sunflowers and tomatoes planted.  Also it smells delicious.  All fresh and loamy all the time after the rain.  Plus the sun DOES shine--albeit not as much as in Colorado.  Nevertheless, there is sunshine and overall I’d say the weather over the last 3 weeks has been nothing short of gorgeous!  

Awakening to the culture and appreciating the differences.  I quite enjoy the village life and the polite friendliness of the folks here.  I’m learning to navigate it and am feeling more and more at home.  

Awakening to a new way of being a family.  Less people in our lives means less commitments.  Less commitments means more time with one another.  I’m learning to appreciate and enjoy these three men in my life in ways I’m not sure I would have without this adventure and this catalyst for time spent together.  There are fewer buffers, but I find I need them less than I thought.  

I’m also awakening to new friendships that are sprouting. Coming to the surface here in this Spring.  We spent last Friday on a neighbor’s land to hang out with their ponies and horse and have a BBQ.  We spent Saturday exploring a castle with a woman who is becoming a good friend and her fun husband who was great with the boys.  Monday we met my old college buddy and her hubby at ‘Peter Pan Park’ and wonder of wonders--the sun came out!  Four and a half hours of sand castles and make believe later the boys were still reluctant to leave and Bridger said there was no better place to be than in London.  I smiled as I realized that right now, right that minute it was absolutely true.  I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

I don’t know if I would have come, if I had known how hard it would be.  I suppose it doesn’t really matter.  I am here now.  I choose to be here.  I’m even enjoying being here.  I’m breathing the clean air, and I’m pushing up towards the sun.  I’m gaining nutrients from the local soil.  I suppose you could say I’m blooming where I was transplanted.  

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Easter Alone

‘J Cori Anderberg doesn’t want to be alone on a holiday.’ That’s what I’d like to write on my facebook status update tonight. But I don’t want to sound all pathetic and sad. Like someone fishing for an invite. Fishing for invites is the type of thing that eats away at one’s dignity. Or perhaps just one’s pride. Scott is Stateside for the next week and a half. I’m alone--well, without Scott--on a holiday. It’s such a lonesome prospect.

There are probably any number of folks I could hang out with. Any number of people I could give a ring and say, “Hey, whatcha doin’ for Easter? Mind if three of us Anderbergs tag along?” I’m sure I will. Call, I mean. I’ll suck it up and make a phone call or two or three. I’ll be brave. Right now though, I just feel sad and pitiful and it brings up all kinds of pain.

Once again, here I am...a foreigner in a foreign land. I’m so used to being the includer. It’s tricky being the one with the need to be included. Once again I’m leery, cause I still don’t quite know the rules. I am learning though that the rules are pretty important over here. An English friend had said they didn’t have plans either. I said we should do something. Then emailed and asked if they wanted to get together. She texted me today inviting me over Saturday. I’m stoked. I think we’re going to go to a castle and it’s supposed to be one of the good ones. We’ll have a great day. She’s super fun, and I love to be around her and her hubby and their little guy. But...well, I’m still without a gig for Easter. Nothin’ to do on a holiday, and I’m pretty sure the rules are that I don’t say, “couldn’t we do Sunday instead?”

Plus, I’m the mom. So I’m the one who’s supposed to make it special and fun. I realized on Wednesday that I had no plan. Not good. But not too big of a problem. What does one need but an Easter egg hunt and a couple of cute Easter baskets filled with plastic grass and Peeps?!? I even had a great idea--these cutie pie gardening tool bags with kid-sized tools they’d loved at the local garden center. Perfect for an Easter basket! Well, I looked everywhere for plastic eggs. No love. I went back to get the tool bags. No love there either. Plastic grass or Peeps? Fuggedaboutit. I can’t even find a UK ‘PAAS’ equivalent to color our eggs!

On the one hand the lack of uber-commercialization of holidays here is refreshing. Christmas was nuts, but it’s the only one that’s been like that. Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day--these all get a minor poster or two and an end-cap’s worth of confectionary. No big deal. I like that most of the time, but this time the commercial goodies were the only way I could think of to make the holiday seem even partially normal.

There will not be new polo shirts and cute shorts for the boys from Old Navy. There will be no brunch on the front patio at Mom’s eating Dad’s omelettes and Sawan’s divine deviled eggs. No sneaking gluten-filled bites of Ellie’s whoppit-biscuit cinnamon rolls with orange icing when the boys aren’t looking. There won’t be the traditional Cherry Knolls Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday with bucketfuls of fun toy-filled eggs and Starbucks coffee for the set-up crew. Or Grammie’s front-yard egg hunt Easter morning with gobs of penny and nickle and dime-filled plastic eggs and hints of “warmer, waaaaaaaaarrrrrrmmmmeeerrrr, warmer, oops! Colder, colder, colder.” No apres festivities Rockies game--either at the field or on my parent’s couch. Certainly no backyard-baseball. The best part of the day.

I’m lonesome. I’m homesick. It’s exacerbating as all get-out that Scott is gone too. Bad enough that I’m without the aunties and uncles and friends and neighbors that make a holiday what we’ve come to know it to be--now I’m without my partner and the boys’ dad.
Here is where I start to realize my need for perspective and realize I sound a bit like a whiner. My sister-in-law is without her partner and the daddy to her little boy and brand new baby girl. Plus he doesn’t get back next weekend, like Scott does. Such is the life of a soldier’s wife. I have a lot to be thankful for.

So, I’ve decided to hide the boys’ Easter baskets and print the clues on egg-shaped paper. There won’t be any plastic grass or Peeps, but they’ll love what I got them. I’m crap at omelets, but I am going to make deviled eggs. I may invite some folks over or ask if we can tag along. I’m not sure yet, but I’m trying not to worry. When Bridger and Caid realized that it was Easter on Sunday, B said, “We gotta make some plans! We need some decorations! Some good food. What do they eat here [in England] for Easter?” I smiled. There’s nothing like new traditions. And lucky, blessed me--I won’t be alone on a holiday.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Moving Day

I actually wrote this blog a couple of weeks ago.  No broadband has forced me to wait until today to post it.  I have some new things to write about soon as well, so stay tuned!

I had the best weekend.  It was such a delightful time!  I spent the weekend watching my boys play together and chatting with friends and enjoying the beautiful weather and also moving!  It seems so funny to declare a moving weekend completely delightful but it certainly was--from start to finish.  Oh well, minus the cat pee incident, but I’ll get to that shortly.  

We thankfully had a bit of relocation money socked away unspent.  So we hired a ‘removal company.’  They came and packed everything Thursday.  Extremely efficient and polite.  We used Casey’s Removals--in case you’ll be ‘moving house’ in the Kent/Croydon area any time soon.  I cleaned and directed and picked up keys to the new house and then freaked out about cat pee.  Oh man.  

We have the cutest new little house, but the previous tenants had cats.  Nice enough cats.  We met them.  But goodness me, those suckers can really get their stink on.  Specifically on the carpets and curtains.  So we came over Thursday night to check out the new digs and I had a hissy fit about pee stains.  ‘Wasn’t the carpet supposed to be cleaned?  Maybe it was and it didn’t come out!  What gets cat smell out of carpets. Probably nothing.  Maybe it’ll never come out!  Maybe we’re destined to be in toilet-smell land for the rest of our lives!    Call the management company right now.  What do you mean they’re closed?!?  In the morning then!  Wait, the movers will be to our house before they open!  Oh no!  The movers come tomorrow to load in all of our furniture and there’s nothing to be done.  It’s hopeless.  All is lost!  Someone shoot me!  Just shoot me now and put me out of my stinking misery!”  The words ‘blithering idiot’ come to mind.  Oh dear.  Scott just sort of looked at me with that half-cocked grin that can SOMETIMES be so charming and politely mentioned that I may have lost my mind.  I think the implication was that I was being a little high-maintenance.  I think that everything else was going so smoothly with the move that I was grasping for something to freak out about.  That’s what one does when one is moving, right?  Oh well really stank. 

Anyway the efficient, polite movers came Friday morning and moved everything in.  The management company said the carpets were cleaned and suggested Febreeze.  I politely declined to mention it smells like ass and gives my youngest son croup.  I don’t want the smell covered up!  I want it GONE!  But on to the pleasant, delightful part.

The weather Friday morning was absolutely gorgeous.  Bright, sun-shiney, warm.  I wished my flops weren’t packed.  The boys ran like wild men in and out of the empty house, around and around the back garden and the front driveway.  They decided the movers were bad gangsters and they were Batman and Robin faithfully defending Gotham.  Sunshine does something to people--especially when one is deprived of it for so much of the time.  Those stodgy, reserved English men played along!  The four of them had just a ball.  My favorite moment of the day though was leaning out the windows I was cleaning to see Bridger and Caid sitting in the sun on the back patio.  Each with a sandwich in hand, Bridger reading Caid a magazine.  So sweet!  

One of the huge blessings of the weekend was the friends that helped out.  That can be one of the best parts of a move.  The sort of ‘barn-raising’ atmosphere.  Folks around packing, loading, unloading, unpacking, cleaning, patching walls, and eating pizza together at the end of the day.  Our move over here lacked all of that.  Movers one day to bring everything to Montana for storage.  A week later another set to bring everything to England.  Us alone with the boys in an empty house wondering when and if we’d ever see our stuff again and what in the world we’d gotten ourselves into.    Then living in an empty house (that we moved into sight-unseen) for almost 3 months.  Learning to live without and wondering why in the world we’d shipped so much stuff when it did finally arrive.  It was all very lonely and surreal.  

This weekend was so different though!  My friend Victoria picked the boys up at lunch time Friday and they had a blast playing at her house all day long.  We finished up the day eating dinner with her and her hubby at their flat around 10:30 pm.  It was such a great night!  Then Saturday afternoon John and Paul showed up and helped put shelves together, and put things up on walls and unpack and play light-saber fights with the boys.  We finished the evening with beers and yummy dinner and a great time talking.  By the end of the day Sunday we had all but 1 box unpacked.  Unheard of!   

Somehow it feels like we’ve finally moved here.  We spent six obligatory months in moving purgatory and we’ve finally paid our penance and can get out.  Last week our house in Denver finally went under contract, we leased the condo for the next 12 months, and we moved to England.  It feels like our life here is finally beginning.  Now if I can just get the cat smell out of the carpets...

Friday, 13 February 2009

My Uncle Tom...

...just turned 60. For his birthday we were all invited to Tahoe to hang out and celebrate. I sure wish I could have gone. Hanging out with that side of the family is nothing but laughs and hugs and hilarity. Every single time I do it I think, “Man, I gotta do that more!” Course hanging out with that side of the family also makes me say things like ‘gotta’ and ‘course.’

My sister says we’re half redneck. Half because one of our parents is a redneck. I suppose in some circles that’s a derogative term, but to me it just means hard workin’, fun lovin’, down-to-earth, genuine folks. My favorite song on the radio as a little girl was ‘Gimme a, gimme a, gimme a redneck girl.’ I remember riding in my dad’s Jeep listening to that song. I must have been 6 years old or so. Fun times.

We were invited to write something for Tom in lieu of our presence. I meant to and meant to get around to it. I thought about it for weeks. The problem is simple. One of the best things in the world is making Uncle Tom laugh. Any image my mind conjures up of Tom always include a beer in one hand and a huge smile on his face--probably because he was laughing at something someone said. He’s a ‘hoot’ and he gets a kick out of everybody. So back to the problem. I couldn’t think of anything funny to say. I wanted to come up with some hilarious rendition of this story or that. Really roast the guy on his 60th. I couldn’t think of one funny or mean thing to say.

Uncle Tom calls everyone ‘baby.’ It’s his favorite term of endearment--which is just such a great phrase for it. Cause when Tom says it you really do feel dear. It makes you feel like a million bucks.

Uncle Tom loves his wife. Delights in his children. Is good to his family both immediate and extended. Shows up. Works stuff out. Works hard. Treats people with genuine kindness. Loves a good beer and a good joke. He is just plain old wonderful. I’m so lucky to have him for an uncle.

I was thinking at Gran’s funeral how sad it is that we wait until folks are dead to say all the good things about them and reminisce about how much they mean to us. I was thinking how it’s just silly and ridiculous. Not more than a few hours after this thought Uncle Tom said to me in a rare quiet moment in the living room, “Cori, you are one of the best kids I’ve ever known. You’re a good kid. You’re a good niece. You’re a good daughter. A good mama. Seeing the way you are with those boys I imagine you’re also a good wife. I’m proud of ya.” Leave it to Tom.

Uncle Tom, you are one of the best men I’ve ever known. You’re a good man. You’re a good uncle. I don’t know about son, but I do know you’re the most amazing son-in-law I’ve ever seen). You’re a good daddy. Seeing the way you are with Bard I’ve always known you were a good husband. I’m proud to know ya. And I’m ever so lucky to be one of your ‘babies.’

Happy Birthday, Uncle Tom. Many happy returns of the day!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Global Biking

I am a creative woman. Different. Unique. Not meant to fit a mold made for anyone but me. No one will think like I do. Love like I do. Mother or birth or cook or dream or even scream out at the world like I do. Others may be similar, and I may enjoy or detest their company as a result. But no one will ever be quite the same as me.

So then why in the world am I so concerned about how everyone else is doing it? The illustrious ‘thing’ that they are all doing? The more important question however, and the one that plagues my heart and disturbs my dreams: Why am I so concerned about how everyone else thinks I’m doing?

Motherhood, man. The constant balance of embracing your unique self and trying desperately to ignore the evil voices that seem to constantly whisper, “Are you sure that’s how you want to do that? Are you sure you’re doing enough? Oooooo...lost a few votes for Mom of the Year on that one!” Or my personal favorite, “Wow, don’t you wish you could be more like ___________?” Feel free to fill in the blank with names from my best mama friends to some lady in front of me at the super market who didn’t freak out at her kid. Never mind that her kid was not the one who just knocked down an entire display of boxed cereal, but still.

Just before the holidays, I came to the sudden and shameful realization that a lot of little boys around here that were younger than Bridger already knew how to ride a bike. I was overcome with guilt. “WE NEED TO GET ON THAT!!” I ever so graciously yelled at Scott. I wasn’t so subtle at communicating where I thought the primary responsibility for that bit of teaching lay. We spent several minutes talking about it, and being the persuasive rhetorician that I am I quickly had him wallowing in guilt with me. Some parents we were! Some legacy we were leaving. What were we spending time as parents doing if not teaching them essential skills like riding bikes!?! We’d spent so much time fixing up houses and focusing on moving that we’d somehow missed the forest for the trees. We were failing our children--big time!

Did I mention we decided over the Christmas break to homeschool the boys? A decision driven by several factors including: our naive underestimation of the incredible cultural adjustment moving to England would be, our desire to open up the opportunity to travel with Scott to his various assignments world-wide, and our concern over some behavioral and health issues we saw flare up in the boys that seemed to die down significantly after only a couple of weeks off of school. Never say you’ll ‘never’ do something. Karma is a bitch.

Overall I’m really enjoying it. It’s leant a cool focus and sense of purpose to my ‘mom-ing.’ It feels good to teach my boys to read, and count and add. I love cooking class and taking walks every day with them. I know there are some folks who think I’m weird, but those voices don’t haunt me. The voices I fear are the ones that whisper about how much better a homeschooling mom I’d be if I were ‘craftier’ or ‘earthier’ or if I had one bone of time-management skills in my body. I am not crafty. I only aspire to be earthy. And good Lord I don’t know how in the world it gets to be 7:30 every night without me having crossed even two things off my list.

I know, I know...I don’t need to be crafty to be a good mom or a good teacher. But...I subscribed to two homeschooling lists and well...these women are either dying natural wool yarns with blueberries to weave their own peace flags or teaching their children an instrument or even building chicken coops from scratch. I just feel, well...urban, first of all, and hopelessly inadequate. On another less earthy list it seems everyone has an ‘educational philosophy’ dialed-in and does 19 lessons a day all tied together by a central theme and all perfectly poising their children to attain nirvana, a full-ride to Oxford, and a firm standing in the global marketplace. I, on the other hand, spent 2 hours and about 2 dozen pieces of paper trying to figure out how to weave a construction paper heart ‘basket’ as a little craft today. I consulted FOUR different websites, swore a lot, and started balling before I did finally figure it out. Bridger was over it, and Caid just wanted to have the one I made rather than bother with his own. Big shocker.

Days like today are a roller coaster of questioning and feelings of inadequacy. Elation in the morning at Bridger reading (did you hear me say, READING!) me books in bed and our half-hour tickle war before breakfast. His exact quote after that was, “I hope we homeschool till I’m twelve.” Then the agony of craft time and that same child’s mumbled hints about the fun crafts they did at school and why don’t I call up his teacher and ask her or better yet send him back to school where they get to do really cool crafts EVERY day. Sigh...he wouldn’t perhaps be mirroring would he?

The night after the guilt-fest about the biking we were talking with our boys about the upcoming year. We posed the question “What are a few things we’d really like to do before 2009 is over?” I started with suggestions like sledding or skiing. Caid said he wanted to go to Spain and to Africa. Bridger said he wanted to learn at least one more language. “Maybe French,” he said, “or China.” I looked across the table at Scott and started to grin and cry at the same time. Maybe the boys didn’t know how to ride bikes, but maybe we weren’t failing so miserably at the legacy thing either.

p.s. I am happy to report that the boys are both riding bikes beautifully after just a few short lessons. Granted Caid stops by plowing into the closest fence or bailing off his bike and Bridger is the proud owner of a biking accident scar on his left cheek, but hey! we’re gettin’ there!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

It snowed today. It was what we who grew up in the Rocky Mountains would classify as a ‘skiff’ of snow. But hey...beggars can’t be choosers. We had so much fun. The boys and I got dressed and donned our English-style snow boots, aka Wellies and had a great snowball fight. Granted you had to scrape the snow right off the top of the patio or grass, but it was awesome snow ball snow! We were soaked and tired and hungry by the time we came in and about halfway through oatmeal prep Bridger shouted, “WHOA!!! Look, look, look! It’s snowing again!” Big, huge, gorgeous flakes. I love that. I can’t begin to describe how much good it did my soul just to watch those flakes accumulate on the branches.

I have been longing for snow. Aching for it. Watching the facebook status updates on all the snow dumping in the US with nothing short of lust. I want to go up to Winter Park. To make the curvy trip up the mountain with flakes falling from the sky. I want to sled at Cherry Knolls Park. Day after day we landed there last winter. Every single day of the Christmas holiday. It was epic. I want to go to the sledding hill over in DTC. Careen down the hill listening to Bridger just giggle and giggle. Then listen to him brag when we arrive back at the top about what a big boy he is for pulling the sled all the way back up the hill.

He is a boy built for snow. It was so fun to watch he and Caid just delight in it today. Funny thing is, late last night Bridger went outside and came in saying, “It smells like snow out there.” What six year old do you know who can identify the upcoming precipitation by the way it smells?! I thought for sure it was simply wishful thinking. He and his dad have been playing quite a bit of ‘skiing’ lately. They start in the living room and take snow cats or helicopters or snowmobiles up to the top of the mountain. Then they strap their skis to their backs in the entryway and troop up the stairs. After a long hike they strap their skis on at the top landing and ‘ski’ down. Usually there’s a wreck or mishap of some kind. Always some trick or another. “Did you see that Dad?!?! I turned all the way around on my skis!”

Whilst Christmas shopping this year it was everything I could do to resist the urge to buy the boys--all three of them--this great little ‘personal sized sled’ I saw at a London outdoorsy shop. They were shaped a lot like a plastic shovel head with a handle. Perfect! But somehow it just seemed like cruel and unusual punishment.

So I longed all Christmas break for the snow. Found myself nearly in tears listening to Bridger play skiing with Scott. Wanted to comfort or console Bridger when he said it smelled like snow, and like a true unbeliever I poo-pooed the hope. But then there was Scotty this morning, waking me up in the wee hours just before he left for the airport. Letting me know it was out there--waiting for us. Calling to us. Snow. Not enough to make snow walls like Caid was planning. Not enough for the snowball maker Bridger got for Christmas last year and was missing today. Just barely enough to make hilariously pitiful snow angels. But plenty to do my heart good. Ah...