Monday, August 27, 2012

Highs & Lows

Our Commuter Family lifestyle has the same rhythms as before but the swings are higher and deeper. Just a glimpse of the past weekend:

  • LOW: Commuter Husband mixed up the 7:00 flight reservation from HOU to DAL for Thursday. He had booked A.M. instead of  P.M. - UGH. The fix was to make the 4 hour drive instead.
  • HIGH: Commuter Husband got much needed car repairs completed while his car was in Dallas.
  • HIGH: Youngest Son was in Repertory Company Theater's production of The Wizard of Oz. It was a great show - amazing really. Youngest Son was Nikko the Flying Monkey - so cute.
  • LOW: Lots of logistics in getting "Nikko" to and fro ... 3 two hour shows + a dress rehearsal!
  • HIGH: Commuter Husband took vacation day Friday and was able to take the boys to Open House and hang out with them.
  • LOW: Commuter Husband rolled his foot playing basketball with boys Friday and hobbled around the rest of the weekend - OUCH. This also meant no lawn work got completed so we will hire that chore out this week - $$$.
  • HIGH: Turkish Father (staying with us) took us out for awesome Sushi on Saturday night. Youngest Son and American/Turkish Boy can put away the raw fish for sure! They were so enthusiastic.
  • LOW: The fresh Sea Urchin or maybe the Saki did NOT sit too well with Commuter Husband Saturday night ... all night ...
  • HIGH: Youngest Son had first Fall Baseball practice with his new 4th grade Storm Team.
  • LOW: Practice ended 1 hour earlier than expected and Youngest Son was stranded ... after two "Mommy where are you calls?", we picked him up 45 minutes late - oh my.
  • HIGH: Oldest Son enters 7th Grade and is playing football for 1st time - wide receiver & corner back. He is thrilled!
  • LOW: Commuter Husband and Oldest Son spent 45 minutes - not kidding - putting pads back into his football pants after I bleached them bright white. And, Oldest Son also got stranded for 45 minutes at Fencing - oops forgot to pick him up :(
  • SPECIAL HIGH: Oldest Son and Youngest Son both took it in stride when they were stranded - no tears, no panic, no guilt - thanks guys!

  • LOW & HIGH: We have come to the inevitable conclusion that a Commuter Husband (& father), a full-time working Mommy with Commuter Husband, an Afternoon Nanny and two active boys requires more communication assets. Thus, we now have FOUR iPhones - one for each member of the family. We spent most of Sunday acquiring (spectacular deal at Best Buy that ended up being only $50) and setting up. Glad we have more tools to better manage our lives but none too excited for Oldest Son and Youngest Son (especially him) to have smart phones (more on that topic in later post.)
And so another weekend ends.
Nikko the Flying Monkey aka Youngest Son

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Home is Your Home

Purchased in Bucerias, Mexico near our former Mexico Casa and hanging in our Dallas Casa.
Welcoming family and friends in our home. Somehow, this value is deeply instilled in both my Brother and me. For us, there is just not a question mark. When someone you love visits, you make room. It is not an obligation. It is fun and it is usually an adventure of sorts.

Relationships are hard to build and even harder to maintain in our busy, mobile lives. No time ever seems like the best time these days - that is why you just go with it. Sharing a bathroom, a kitchen, a driveway, a meal, a laugh and even a melt-down are all life experiences that create special bonds.

We have the privilege of sharing our home with friends family from Turkey for a couple weeks. American/Turkish Boy and his warm, loving and generous Turkish Father are staying with us during their visit from Turkey. They moved back to Turkey one year ago after being in the USA for 20 years. American/Turkish Boy and Youngest Son have been friends since age two and share birthdays one day a part. They are Yin and Yang friends. They compliment each other with their differences and bring out the best in the other. We should all be so lucky as to have such a friend!

We have a humble home and a crazy life. We are thankful that our friends choose to spend this time with us ...
We miss you Infinity Friend ...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

1966 and then 1969

The year was 1966.

The turmoil of the decade ascended with Vietnam drafts increasing, rioting in across our largest cities and increased use of drugs. We saw the first artificial heart implant, pampers hit the shelves and the Vatican allowed Catholics to eat meat on Fridays.

For one young couple, much of this was beyond their day-to-day survival except for maybe the pampers availability.

She was 17 and he was 18 when they married in 1964. She was a dark haired beauty and he just wanted to make her happy. They had a 10 month old daughter born in 1965.

"Statistics Defied By Young Couple" was the headline in 1966 under Happenings in Society. The article sites that 50% of marriages end in divorce with a bride under 20. Not this couple. They were quoted "You read a lot about young people not being able to accept responsibility. That's not true." The couple attribute their successful marriage to practicality.

This couple did defy statistics. She finished high school and he was a assistant manager at a grocery store. He was enrolled for college courses in the Fall. They bought a 3 bedroom house. And a new car. They planned and had another baby in 1968. They had dreams.
The year was 1969.

The dreams literally crashed. The young mother and her two babies were in a car accident on a Texas highway. The 22 year old woman who had defied statistics did not survive that day. The 4 year old girl was pulled from the mangled Volkswagen bug with the top shaved off by the underside of a diesel truck - the trucker was helpless to stop the car as he watched it the run under his load. The local preacher stopped to help. He knew this young family and asked if they found a baby boy too? The police went back to the car and found the 15 month old toddler in the backseat floor board. Some say it was a miracle the children survived.

Lives left behind were changed forever. The loss is noticed for the lifetimes of many. Still noticed today.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Front Page News

Dallas Morning News Front Page Article August 12, 2012
Within a 10 minute span this morning, two friends asked me if I had seen this morning's paper. A Commuter Family article had warranted front page status. We purchased a paper.

First sentence:
"It's a choice few of us would want to face. Keep the family together or keep the family afloat."
That pretty much says it all. 

In 2011, 3.5 million people lived apart for reasons other than legal separation with economic factors being the primary reason. The article describes the circumstances for two families and says this about them: 
"Their pragmatism has led to resilience. Along the way, they've managed to find the good - in the situation and in one another."

The article profiles a family with children whose father did the Southwest commute to Dallas for over 2 years. It talks about single motherhood, dad helping with lessons over Skype, strength in faith and the support of loved ones.

I have blogged about all of these themes and several others also highlighted in the article. All Commuter Families will have a common set of experiences. But, there is likely a compelling back story for each. Circumstances & choices, personalities & priorities create the individualized reality for each. 

The conclusion to the article's family story is that they are now all together in Atlanta. We do not yet know the conclusion to our Commuter Family.

We have several layers of decisions to get through ... stay tuned ...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Envy and My Jewish Viewpoint

The Lights of Shabbat ... I look forward to you tomorrow ...
I am not sure why I noticed this particular week but as I interacted with several friends and acquaintances, it became obvious that many families are fortunate to have extended family to help with their kids - usually a grandparent. Some of the assistance is close by but not always and it takes on many, many forms. I told a Dear Friend that I felt envy. Dear Friend was, of course,  comforting (that is why she is so dear.) I decided to unpack this emotion.

Envy - A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.

I looked for a Jewish viewpoint (by looked I mean Google.)

"Judaism does not see Envy as the embodiment of absolute evil, but rather as an emotion that, 
on the one hand, demonstrates the weakness and vulnerability of human character 
and, on the other, is rather beneficial to humankind's development."

To me, Reform Judaism provides a pragmatic approach to life which is one reason why I chose to be part of a Jewish community. While envious, I am only a vulnerable human. More Comfort.

BUT there is never only one Jewish viewpoint. Reform Judaism gives me a framework to arrive at my own conclusion from thousands of years of great teachings.

"Solomon b. Judah Ibn Gabirol of Cordova was one of the greatest medieval Spanish Jewish poets (first half of 11th century) .One of Gabirol’s earliest literary works, Mibhar ha-Peninim (The Choice of Pearls), was a small book of maxims derived almost entirely from non-Jewish sources. This very popular publication, written originally in Arabic, enjoyed enduring popularity throughout Israel in its later Hebrew translation."

"Envy is to men like bodily ailments – it leads to consumption. I have not seen 
one who hurts himself more than does the envious person; 
his mourning is unceasing, his soul grieves, his intellect deteriorates and his heart is disquieted."

Yes, I can see this a problematic as well. Unchecked, envy can eat a person's soul. But ... I do not think I have this over-consuming position of envy. It is more of an acknowledgement of something missing from my life. Everyone has missing parts - this is just mine. And really, I have built a life with lots of amazing substitutes and alternate approaches for which I am so thoroughly gratefulGetting closer to comfortable.

Gabirol also wrote in his The Choice of Pearls:

"Everybody can eat with satisfaction except the man who envies good fortune; 
for he is only pleased by the misfortune (of others)."

Okay, this is NOT how I feel. I am so glad for those who have that grandparent or family member ever present in their child's life. It is a gift beyond words. While the boys are far from having their own families, it has made me think about how I want to be there for them and possibly for other family members of the next generation. But in a way that is on their own terms - for it will be their life to live not mine.

So this is My Jewish Viewpoint on Envy. I am comforted ... for the moment.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Athletic Support

Just dropped Commuter Husband off at Love Field.  We are now in more of a Fly In Friday Evening/Fly Out Monday Morning mode.

The weekends still go by incredibly fast. There is always the list: household chores to be completed, family outings to conduct and decisions to discuss.

And often the unexpected.

Youngest Son had a stomach bug that started Friday afternoon and went through Saturday morning. At precisely 11am Sunday morning, Commuter Husband started to show symptoms of same illness. By 12pm Sunday, it was definite.

One of the discussions planned for Commuter Husband and the boys was assessing whether the boys had the appropriate "athletic  support" (hint, hint) for their precious parts. This is just not something in which I have a great deal of expertise but the boys have various sports coming up that require protection of those parts.

The scene was comical. The boys gathered their current supplies of cups and underwear holder thingies. Between trips the bathroom, Commuter Husband reviewed the situation which required the boys trying these items on to make sure they fit (too small, too big or just right?) Even with Commuter Husband being under the weather, three sets of testosterone cannot resist the many jokes that are easy pickings.

Fortunate for me, the conclusion was no purchases required for this upcoming week's activities. Thank goodness I was spared this particular shopping trip Sunday. It will wait for another weekend for a healthier Commuter Husband.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Toilets & Laundry

The Plunger and unclogged toilet
We are back to having two kids in the house. And we are back to adjusting. Tonight's thrilling events included.

Clogged Toilet
Flushing the toilet is not a high priority with some male members of our family. Thus, the toilet becomes clogged. Well, we are all about teaching life skills these days so under my astute supervision the following occurred:

  • Youngest Son fetched the plunger
  • Oldest Son did the plunging
  • Youngest Son did the multiple flushes required
  • Youngest Son then retrieved the Pine-Sol asking what it was for ... surprisingly Oldest Son knew the answer "To Disinfect"
  • As Pine-Sol was poured over the plunger, Youngest Son commented "Oh, THAT is why the toilet smells good!"
Lessons about tools, chemicals and ah ... poop. Valuable knowledge indeed.

Mountains of Laundry
Oldest Son was gone to camp for 24 days and he came home with all the dirty laundry, of course. Oldest Son sorted, sprayed and ran the washer while I was at work. Impressive. But Hard Stop. This was as far as the washing laundry process went for him. (Until the folding & putting away part )

So, again under my astute supervision, Oldest Son divided the laundry into what goes into the dryer and what gets to be hung dry. I  showed him how to turn on the dryer and explained why we put in a dryer sheet. The next obstacle highlighted by Oldest Son was "I cannot reach" -- meaning the bar above the dryer where wet clothes hang. With my all my wisdom, I responded "Get the stool." Oh.

From there, Oldest Son did a great job hanging his clothes to dry & putting in the next load to wash.
Wet shorts and shirts hung beautifully with aid of a step stool