Category Archives: Family

Daddy’s Day

I thought about writing about my dad for Father’s Day since I wrote about my mom on Mother’s Day. I have a thing about being fair and equal and just. Call me the Supreme Court, I suppose.

But I couldn’t find words that fit. He’s my daddy. And I love him. And when I see how he looks at my son my heart melts because I know he used to look at me the same way.

Who am I kidding? He still looks at me that way.

Anyways, one of my favorite posts that I’ve ever written is about my dad. So I’m just going to copy and paste it here. That’s right, I am copying and pasting a daddy day post the day after daddy’s day. My gift giving skillz are on point.

***

I think the hardest part about growing up for me was losing the belief that my daddy was not superman.

I was the poster child for daddy’s girls.  He was the funniest man I had ever known, and I always wondered why he wasn’t a stand up comic.  He was brilliant and knew everything, or atleast something about everything.  He was kind and comforting, and there was nothing better than ending nearly everyday for 8 years curled up  in his lap.

My daddy was my everything.

And then I found out he was human.  It was honestly more painful than finding out Santa Claus wasn’t real (btw, this particular bit of information left me sobbing, it was like my grandfather died!).

My dad wasn’t funnier than George Carlin, and lots of that knowledge was more opinion (you mean, it isn’t a fact that Democrats are in responsible for all the world’s problems? Blasphemy!).

Despite finding out he is (gasp) human, my daddy taught me so much…

    1. Things are never as important as people
      My dad was in the Navy, and for the first 5 years of my life we were stationed in Hawaii and Japan.  Because of this my mom was able to take frequent trips to Korea where she would buy all things oriental for bargain basement prices.  For a long time our home looked like a Chinese restaurant where the ‘4 Season’ Japanese woman paintings and beautiful vases cluttered every nook and cranny.

I often looked at those pieces and would wonder, “What would happen if I broke one of these vases or figurines?”  It troubled me to think that these objects could possibly be more precious than I was, but I wouldn’t argue, after all I was free, and they must have spent hundreds of dollars on these knick knacks.I finally gathered the courage to ask, and my dad told me that there would never be an object that I could break that would make him love me less.  People were always more important than things.  Remember that.I have remembered, and it isn’t just about not breaking gaudy vases.  For me, it’s about not letting the desire for things ever become more important than the desire for relationships.   The joy of having things will never replace the joy of being around loving, caring people.  Treasure your people.

  • Jim Henson loved puppets.  Do what you love.
    We didn’t go to church until I was a senior in high school, so I like to call this the Parable of Jim Henson.

 

I have always struggled with the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up.  A doctor or lawyer for the money?  Or maybe a children’s book illustrator because of my love of doodling? My dad would ask me to consider Jim Henson.

It’s very unlikely anyone would ever say, “I want to be a guy who makes puppets”.  It seems childish, and who would pay you to make puppets, anyways?  And most people probably wouldn’tget paid to make puppets.

Jim Henson seemed to make it happen.  How?

My dad would point out that Jim Henson loved creating the puppets and the characters.  That’s what made him great, he was passionate and loved his job.  Never underestimate the power of actually loving what you do.

My dad would always insist that we follow our hearts, and not the promise of a paycheck.  When you love something you’ll do it well, and somehow you’ll get taken care of.  No worries.

 

  • You decide.
    This is my favorite lesson.

 

I was agonizing over what college to go to by the time I was in 9th grade.  I wanted the prestige.  I wanted people to know that I was smart and had done well on the standardized tests that determined my value as a person.  I wanted to know that I was given the best education possible.

That was where my dad stopped me.

No matter what classroom I was in, I was the only one in control of the education I received.  No one was going to give me anything.  My decision of what kind of student I would be was more important than my decision of what school to go to.

This mindset honestly changed my life.  Deciding to be a learner was more valuable than deciding where to learn.  Deciding to be productive and enthusiastic was more critical to my job satisfaction than where I worked or who I worked for.  Deciding to be loving, kind and compassionate would be more important to my marriage than even deciding who I was going to marry. My experience of life was a decision, it was never something that would simply “happen” to me.

I will probably never consider my dad superman again.  I can easily point out everything that is “wrong” with him.  However, the more I think about what he has given me, and the kind of man he is, I can’t help but admire him.

I love my mom


The day she dropped me off for kindergarten was terrifying. I didn’t want her to leave. I hated being left. I remember smelling my clothes throughout the day because the faint smell she left behind made feel just a little bit safer.

We watched every beauty pageant that came on tv. Specifically Miss Universe. She’d quiz me on what country I’d compete as, USA or the Philippines, and then have me stand on the coffee table and wave like I’d just won. I pouted to show my disgust, but on the inside I gushed at the attention.

She would make innocent comments about my clothes, appearance, or friends and I would give her the silent treatment for a week. And note in my diary how unfair life was for making me live with such a horrible person. I was 13. And an idiot.

She left me worried voicemails when I would drive an hour and a half back to school and forget to call her to say I’d made it safely to my dorm room. “Marie, call me. I’m worried. You could have been kidnapped and I won’t know because YOU WON’T CALL ME. I love you. You better not be kidnapped”. I would like to formally and publicly apologize for my irresponsible stupidity. I would also like to formally and publicly warn Otis that he better not pull that same crap with me.

Practically every week she shares a story about how she saw God work in a simple, but powerful, way. Then she asks where I am seeing Him work. This is great when I’m following and paying attention to Him, and not so great when I’m struggling to remember the last time I saw my Bible. No matter where I was in my Christian walk she’d remind me that I am a daughter of the King.

This year I’m celebrating the mom I was blessed with and praying that I am able to love Otis even half as well as she loves her kids.

Thank you, Mom. You done good, and I love you.

2,678,400

Dear Otis,

You’re a month old and you’ve already had so many nicknames.

Before you were born you were Marshmallow for this blog and The Tenant for Facebook statuses.

Since you’ve been born you’ve been my Baby Billy Goat because you bleated more than cried when you were first born and when your dad carried you off to be weighed the first thing he said was “He has… fur!”

Had I given birth to a Billy Goat? Only time would tell.

We also notice that you like to do a grunt/growl thing, particularly when you’re getting your diaper changed. Or when you’re trying to control, well, any part of your body. (FYI, you may think weak neck muscles are frustrating, but just wait until you have to deal with Comcast. Or talk politics with your dad…) This grunting/growling sounds like a baby dinosaur so I sometimes call you… wait for it… Baby Dinosaur. Or Otisaurus Rex. The most ferocious dinosaur in the land, of course.

Your dad has other names for you. When you’re in a good mood and/or let out a massive fart  he calls you Turbo. And when you’re in a bad mood and/or let out a massive fart he calls you Turdley.

Feel free to make me your favorite parent.

I am much too aware that you won’t always be this little and you’ll never need me the way you do right now. I want to soak up everything we get to share, and I don’t want to waste one minute complaining. The hour long dinner dates at 3 in the morning, every time you’ve peed on me during a diaper change, the way you get really hot when you take naps on my chest. That you’re small enough to take naps on my chest. I’m thankful for all of it.

I knew and loved God before you came along, but since He placed you inside my body I have to say that I’ve gotten to know and love Him in a whole new way. He is an amazing Creator and you’re a regular reminder that He is a God who deserves our praise. He has also used you on a near daily basis to show me what dependence and trust in Him could look like. I don’t know why He trusted me with you, but I’m more thankful than I’ll ever be able to express.

You’ve made the last 2,678,400 seconds of my life quite wonderful. Thank you, Otis, and I love you with  my entire heart.

Love,
Mommy Billy Goat/Mommasaurus Rex

Five minutes. Go! #reverb10

5 Minutes
Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.
(Author: Patti Digh)

I want to remember the sound of Mark saying “Oh, shit” when he read the pregnancy test. There was something real and magical and appropriate about that phrase and the smile that was plastered all over his face when our eyes met.

I want to remember anything before we found out we were pregnant. Not because it’s been so monumental, but because I really can’t seem to recall anything. My brain just doesn’t work.

I want to remember driving home from Mexico last year after spending the holidays with Mark’s family. I don’t know that life had ever felt so complete before. Mark and I were doing amazing and I was finding my place in his family.

I remember seeing the gas station/animal farm on the way to Savannah and almost causing an accident when I demanded Mark stop immediately. I had started to believe it was a figment of my imagination.

I remember visiting the places of Twilight (Forks and La Paz)  with my best friends from high school. Nothing compares to knowing that you’ve made friends that will actually last a lifetime.

Wise. Just like her daddy. #reverb10

Wisdom.
What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?
(Author: Susannah Conway)

A few months ago my dad and I had quite the blowout. Like, a big enough blowout that I called my mom to tell her that while I would be cordial to him if I had to be around him I did not see our relationship ever being fixed.

I’m sure you’re curious as to what could have caused such a blowout. I would be if I were you. Well, let me kill the suspense. My dad and I were arguing over whether George W. Bush was saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Yes, we were on the verge of never talking to one another again because a president’s salvation was in question.

This was obviously a stupid argument to have and certainly an even stupider argument to tear a family apart over. However, it was a fight that showed me that I had a choice to make. My relationship with my dad has been going through a turbulent transition for the past couple of years and our future was at the proverbial fork in the road. I needed to make a decision about how I was going to treat him after what I considered some major disrespect.

I had just finished reading Rabbi Shmuley’s Renewal: A guide to the values-filled life and he talks in the book about the commandment to honor your mother and father (Exodus 20:12). He says that not being able to respect our parents, the people who literally made it possible for us to be alive today (I’ve heard rumors that it’s very difficult for newborns to obtain food on their own) is a failure to be truly grateful.

For everything that I see as flawed with my dad, I know that he loves me. I know that he’s made some pretty big sacrifices to help and encourage me to be the woman I am today. I know that it should take more than a theological fight about George Bush to make me forget how blessed I am to have him as my father. The basic truth is I owe him.

I decided to go to him and apologize for being, well, a brat. We prayed together (a first) and I went home.

I wasn’t sure if or how things would change. Was I sending out a sign of weakness or surrender by apologizing? Would he now expect me to agree with him on all things, and never respect me or the opinions I had? I felt like I was taking a huge gamble, setting us up for an inevitable disaster.

But I was wrong. Something has significantly changed in our relationship. I’m learning that I don’t have to rage to have my thoughts heard by him and I think he’s getting a little more comfortable with the idea of me forming my own opinions. And that once I truly realize how much money the government is stealing from me there’s no way I’ll continue to buy into that liberal hullaballoo.

We’ve also agreed to “not go there” when it comes to politics. It’s best for everyone.

Already yelling at him



Happy Thanksgiving!

Even our Thanksgiving is coming with Marshmallows this year…

Biggest thing I’m thankful for this year? The obviously abundant amount of time I have to waste as evidenced by the homemade marshmallow costumes.

Let’s get this holiday season started, my friends.

As long as it’s healthy

Me: Are you going to be disappointed if it’s a boy?

Before I tell you what he said, you do know the “correct” answer, right?

I don’t care as long as it’s healthy.

Correct, Class.

Mark: I’ll get over it.

He’ll get over it? Has he learned nothing from all the baby etiquette books we have?

Oh. Wait. We’ve only bought one book. And it’s about why we should make out during labor*. NOT about how you shouldn’t say “I’ll get over it” when talking about the gender of your unborn child.

Sigh. So much to learn.

We found out yesterday that the little Marshmallow is in fact a little boy. A perfect and wonderful little boy.

After our appointment Mark and I were on cloud nine. We grabbed breakfast and talked about the insanity that had just happened. We saw into my abdomen and got our very first peek at our son. Our SON!

We have also decided that, for 2010 anyways, an ultrasound machine has officially replaced a fully-loaded leather massage chair as most awesome potential Christmas present ever.

*Mark has vetoed this idea in its entirety.

My Best Decision

Mark went to a seminar the other day. He called me as he started home and shared what he’d learned and thought about the event. He said that the leader of the seminar encouraged Mark to tell me how important I am to him, that I needed to hear it.

I found this odd. I don’t know that there has been a day that has gone by since we’ve been married that Mark hasn’t verbally told me, with all the sincerity in the world (because I don’t know that Mark could speak insincerely if he wanted to),  how much he loves me and values my presence in his life. A big reason this comes up with such regularity is because we pray together every morning and it’s one of the things he thanks God for nearly every day, me being his wife.

Not only does he tell me how much he treasures me, but anytime he talks to other people about me they’re sure to get an earful about how supportive and encouraging I am. Never, not once, has he ever put me down in front of a stranger or given them any reason to think anything other than good things about my role in his life.

Unless we’re talking about politics. But I digress.

So I imagine that when this seminar guy heard Mark talk about me he was probably sure that I’d never heard any of it before. That Mark, like most men, would have been unaware of how much his wife would need to know how important she is to him and would need to be reminded  to share his praise with his wife. Mark doesn’t need that reminder.

But maybe I do.

It wasn’t until last night that it occurred to me that I take this rare and beautiful trait of his for granted. I take it for granted that I never have to wonder if he loves me or values what I do to support and love him as his wife.

It also occurred to me that maybe that’s why he doesn’t always appreciate my blog posts about our marriage because they don’t paint him out to be a husband that I am so proud to call mine. I argue that it’s boring to talk about good stuff, that there isn’t anything funny about all the ways that being married to him is absolutely delightful.  But maybe that isn’t a good enough reason to not share…

That the silly songs he makes up in the morning are so important to getting my day started right.

That him never calling me a name or raising his voice when we fight is more important to me than words will ever express.

That I value the way he can respectfully articulate his points. Especially his political ones.

That his obsession with knowing everything about anything is really quite attractive.

That the way he makes sure little kids don’t hurt his cats when they are petting them warms my heart.

That I know without a shadow of a doubt that nothing he loves will ever get hurt under his watch.

That every day my confidence in the decision to marry him grows.

Who’s the Boss and other ways I know I am old

This is my sister. Melissa.

Yes, she is as precious as you’re probably thinking she is.

She dates a boy named Joey. There isn’t anything particularly notable about that except for the fact that there is now a show called… wait for it… Melissa & Joey!

A show? With you and your high school boyfriend’s name in it? Yeah, nothing screams fate like seeing your names together on ABC Family.

So, Melissa and I were hanging out in her room this past weekend watching television when a commercial for Melissa & Joey comes on.

Me: So, what’s this show about? Are they like dating or something?

Melissa: No. Not really. She’s like a mayor or something, and he’s her manny. I like it.

Me: Oh! That’s cool. It’s like Who’s the Boss?

Melissa: Um, what’s that?

And then I had a heart attack.

This beautiful, intelligent, kindhearted, not that much younger than me  child didn’t know what one of the best sitcoms of all times was. Who raised her? And what were they thinking sending her out in the world without such important information?

Me: You seriously don’t know what Who’s the Boss is? Seriously? Am I really that old? I think I need a drink.

Melissa: No clue. And I don’t think you’re supposed to be drinking…

Me: Tony Danza? The housekeeper who works for Angela, the most amazing example of girl power EVER? His daughter? Samantha!

Melissa: (shakes her head)

Me: Samantha Micelli is the reason every doll I’ve ever had, and possibly this Marshmallow, were named Samantha. Alyssa Milano? Do you know Alyssa Milano?

Melissa: (looks almost scared because some people might have interpreted my shouting as anger) The name sounds familiar?

Me: She was one of the Charmed girls.

Melissa: Oh yeah! Ha, I know her.

Kids these days.

Me: Yeah, she was Samantha first. First and forever.

Melissa: I gotcha. This is going to be like how in a few years people are going to say, “Do you know Melissa Joan Heart from Melissa & Joey?” And I’m going to be like, “Uh, actually she’s from…

(wait for it)

(seriously, guys, we’re old)

(I really do wish I could have a drink)

“Uh, actually she’s from Sabrina the Teenage Witch“.

Just go ahead and shoot me now.

Cats:1, Marshmallow:0

Being pregnant means there are tons of What Ifs being thrown around…

What if we don’t make it out of the 1st trimester? Will we try again?

What if I’m drinking too much caffeine? Hey, where are you going with my coffee?!

What if Marshmallow’s a boy? Will Otis Oates be a stud?

What if Marshmallow’s a girl? Will Holland Oates play guitar?

What if Marshmallow’s a hermaphrodite? No, really, what if Marshmallow is a hermaphrodite?

The most serious What If, however, has a not so great answer

Me: What if Marshmallow is – allergic to cats? What if we have to give Nala and Omi away?

Mark: Man. That’s a hard one.

Me: Seriously, what would we do?

Mark: You’re asking what I think right now? I can’t get rid of my cats. Sorry.

Me: Yeah, I’m with you.

Me and Mark: [silence]

Me: We’re the worst parents ever.

Mark: Yeah… but I really love the cats. I mean, I hope we love Marshmallow as much… I just can’t imagine it.

Me: We probably better just stop this conversation now before someone calls DCS for conspiring to trade babies for kittens on the black market.

*Also, we just got out of Week 12, which may or may not be the end of the first trimester. Pregnancy calendars are weird. And confusing.