Saturday, December 4, 2010

December 4: Family Day


Well, it is Saturday.  Ali calls Saturday and Sunday "Stay-at-home-days."  Love the concrete world of a 4.5 year old!  When we were in MN, we did a pretty good job of planning out our weekends in advance so we could disconnect a little from the intensity of the PICU week after week.  Today, we embodied that same family unit adventure.  We started out with homemade pancakes, which Ali helped make.  Then, we went for a family hike in Peters Canyon.  Ali was AMAZING!  She went WAAAAY further (farther?) than we expected she would.  She complained a few times, but overall she did great.  I didn't have to carry her at all, and we covered a lot of ground and some pretty steep hills.  Most of all, it just felt soooo gooood to introduce her to the beauty of hiking.  We taught her how to be quiet and listen for animals living in the brush nearby, how to tread lightly on the path to help preserve the trail, how each bench on the trail is a goal to reach, and when you reach it, you can look back and see how far you've come.  Tell me THAT one doesn't apply to everyday life??  We met a beautiful horse and several sweet dogs along the journey as well.

After our hike, we made lunch, and Ali checked off all the items in a toy catalogue that she wants for Christmas.  She was pretty excited about that until I realized she thought that if she checks it, she gets it.... not around here!  I had to explain a little further that just because you check it, doesn't mean you get it.  It means that everyone knows what you'd like for Christmas, and can now pick from that assortment (oh and quite an assortment it is!) so you like everything you do get.

Didn't go over quite as well as her definition of checking toys.

Oh well, call me the dream smasher.

Then, we hit Irvine Spectrum, which is a nice outdoor mall about 15 minutes from us.  I needed a little repair work on my MacBook and Ang needed to check out a couple of things.  Can I just say what it's like to be a mac customer?  It's like I died and went to computer heaven.  I've had my mac (this is my first mac computer that I'm typing on) since 2008, and I was a PC tower user since about '98.  The apple store has a 'help desk' in the back of every store called their 'genius bar.'  I filled out an appointment online, walked in, was greeted, and at the time of my appointment, a nice young man (I sound so old right now) offered me a place at the bar, and I broke out my mac and my list of issues / questions.  Within 15 minutes, we had my computer running superfast again, reformatted and partitioned an old external drive I used to use for backup, and did a check of where and how I am using my hard drive to see if one area of use is taking up all the room.  He also printed out a flyer for a 500GB hard drive on with free shipping for $59.00 and gave me two websites that have the instructions to switch it out on my own without having to come in if I was feeling comfortable doing it myself.  He showed me how to perform a couple of functions I only knew how to do on a PC, and after I couldn't think of anything else, I went on my way.  Charge?  ZERO.  Did I buy my mac there?  Nope.  LOVE that!  Membership into the world of apple is obviously a lot steeper a ticket than the PC world, but it's like VIP for computers.  I feel acknowledged and taken care of every single time I go in there for either personal lessons (52 hours of one on one instruction for $99...yup...$1.99 or so AN HOUR FOR PRIVATE LESSONS) or to use the genius bar.  Awesome.

Anyhow, we hung out at the Spectrum long enough for Ali to ride a mechanical zebra (it is suburbia after all) and then it was time to split to Trader Joe's to pick up groceries.  Turns out they had Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz ($49 a bottle online at for $9.99 a bottle!  Hoo Hooo!  Shiraz, as opposed to its american counterpart syrah, is a beauty to behold.  Whereas american Syrah is HOT HOT HOT on the tongue, shiraz is more fruit forward with just a modest bite on the tongue... MUCH more subdued (all of this is my humble opinion of course, and of course that's all that matters to me!  LOL - wine affinity is as fickle and subjective as whether you prefer blondes, brunettes, et cetera)

Anyhow, we came home, made pizza, and sipped on some GREAT shiraz while eating and playing with Ali.  Good times.

Tough parts of the day?  Going to Trader Joes for the first time (for me) without Bella.  Converting Bella's crib to a couch for Ali, then laying down in it and squishing my head in the corner, just like Bella used to.  I lay there for almost an hour alone, just wishing her back.  I also packed the car with her high chair and her bouncy seat to sell at a local consignment shop.  We need the space desperately, and the cash wouldn't hurt this time a year.  This is the year of firsts... first time we did ____ without Bella.  Just gotta feel it when it comes, and let the pain and grief flow through.  Can't freeze, stuff it or bottle it.  I've worked with COUNTLESS parents who tried that route, and 6-10 years later, if you scratch at the surface of their grief, just underneath, it has been festering for years.  Time does not heal all wounds.  As we grieve and mourn, the frequency, intensity, and duration of our grief moments decrease, but we have to be willing to go through it to get through it.

Tomorrow is another first.  First time going back to our church without Bella.  Ugh.  Looking forward to seeing friends we haven't seen in a while, but not looking forward to walking in without that stroller and that gorgeous baby in it.  Ali wants to resume swim lessons again, and I am not looking forward to that either for the same reason.  Everyone there knew the cute girl with the bandages hanging out with her daddy next to the pool while all the kids were getting their lessons.  Sitting by that pool is going to feel pretty lonesome this time around.

There's really nothing to do about any of it either.  It simply is.  I wish it were another way, but that wish comes from me being the center of the world and wanting it to go MY way.  MY will be done.  Egocentrism as a child evolves into egoism as an adult.  See, I think it would be easier if God would just come out and tell us WHY he either does all the things he does, or lets all the things happen, depending on your take on theology.  Then, we could just say, "OHHHH, I get it now!"  LOL.  Spoon feed me, please, I don't want to trust or have faith all the time.  I don't want to have to work at this all the time... After all, God, can't you see I'm tired here?

Oh, and while you're at it, I think I forgot to finish my laundry.  If you could just take care of that as well, that would be GREAT.  Thanks!

[Ducking to avoid lightning bolts being shot at my chair right now - just kidding.]

God has a pretty awesome sense of humor, after all, he invented it!   I just stole that last line right out of Conversations with God, an Uncommon Dialogue... gotta cop to and give credit where it is do.  Wanna read a confronting vision of spirituality that challenges the very foundations of common spirituality and religion in America today?  Read THAT book.  What an absolutely amazing dialogue... book after book.  I highly recommend it.  So much of that series resonated with the deepest parts of my soul.  It continues to provide me with hope and it empowers my faith.

What spiritual books have lit that burner in you before?  Please share your recommendations with this community!

God night.


  1. See you in have no idea how happy everyone will be!
    and we will all be missing the stroller with the sweet baby in it.
    Its o.k...even if you get teary. We are your family...

    (Kens going to take the kids to the spectrum tomorrow after church. I have my first paid photo shoot! Woo Hoo! We love that place. Have you been yo the sweet spot bakery? Next time, take Ali.its near the Ferris wheel!)

  2. What a busy day you had on Saturday!
    I don't have any spiritual book to recomend; I guess I don't read those books in my book club.
    I can see you are ready for your ski trip.
    It will be nice today at church with all the people that prayed and pray for Bella and your family.
    The blue sky from California is so different from England ...
    Lots of love,

  3. Love that cute pic, so adorable. You are still in my thoughts every day.

    Alexandra in Australia

  4. We love homemade pizza and a good shiraz too. :) Sounds like overall a lovely Saturday for you guys, despite the more difficult moments.

    Loving Ali on the zebra and Bella in the bumbo.


  5. Everyone at your church will miss that beautiful baby in the stroller too. Like you, they will be wishing she was still here to show us that smile.

    Thinking of you and your family....You missed an 8 inch snowfall in Minneapolis on Friday night. :)

    Amy in MN

  6. Have too many favorite books, but will pass on my most recent...The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning...loved it and I rarely reread books but this is on my list to do again! If you are in a book club or bible study it has great reflection questions at the end of the book for each chapter.

    You are making me want to move to CA with all these beautiful pics! Happy Stay at home day!! Donna in NJ

  7. Tim,
    You had me crying and laughing with this post. As you described laying in Bella's crib with your head in the corner as she used to do, I started crying. My daughter used to lay like that in her crib and my son now does it. My son lays there with his head down and butt up. So cute. Then you make me laugh reading your conversation with God. I too believe that you can have a REAL conversation with God. I just talk to him as I would anyone and yet, I know he is listening to me and he loves me.

    There is a GREAT book that I just read called "If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn't Be Hard and Other Reassuring Truths" by Sheri Dew. It will make you laugh and cry and just think.

    Great pics tonight. I'm so glad that Ali got to go out on a hike with you guys yesterday and actually kept up. That's awesome. Kuddos Ali!!

    That's an awesome endorsement you just gave to MAC. You should let them know about your blog and how many daily readers you have. Let them know that you endorsed them here and maybe they'll give you a free MACbook or something. Hey, just a thought...or maybe they will make a donation to PUCK!! You have so many readers on a daily basis you could probably get all kinds of endorsements. My sister has a MACbook and an iPhone and she just loves Apple too. Anytime she has issues they are right there to help. In my house we are a PC family because my husband works mostly with PC's as an IT guy but, you make the other side seem so nice! :0)

    I love Bella in her pink Bumbo chair. A classic baby pic. I think everyone has at least one pic of their baby in a Bumbo chair. I love that thing.

    Lots of Love,
    Amber, Craig, Malorie(2 1/2), and Liam(11 mos.)
    The McLaughlin Family
    Moreno Valley, CA

  8. Glad you all were able to have a great night. Like you say there will be alot of firsts that have to be experienced, many not so happy but will have to be done.

    Love that picture of Bella in her seat - too sweet.

  9. From Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet"

    On Love

    "When love beckons to you, follow him,
    Though his ways are hard and steep.
    And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
    Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
    And when he speaks to you believe in him,
    Though his voice may shatter your dreams
    as the north wind lays waste the garden.

    For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
    Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
    So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

    Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
    He threshes you to make you naked.
    He sifts you to free you from your husks.
    He grinds you to whiteness.
    He kneads you until you are pliant;
    And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

    All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

    But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
    Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
    Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
    Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
    Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
    For love is sufficient unto love.

    When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."
    And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

    Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
    But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
    To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
    To know the pain of too much tenderness.
    To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
    And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
    To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
    To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
    To return home at eventide with gratitude;
    And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips."

  10. i was looking randomly through old posts and found the barbie video... what a sweet, sweet memory. what a beautiful family. keep doing your thang, tim. :)

    love you guys.

    kristen and james