Friday, January 31, 2014

Charley - New Year's Reflections 2013

Charley's year was a hectic one at work. He took over as the Pattern Shop Supervisor about a year-and-a-half ago, which added a lot of new challenges (stress) to his job. The company has also been restructuring its culture and manufacturing process, which is never easy and particularly difficult in a company that is over one-hundred years old and has many employees with thirty or more years on the job. However, many of the upper management personnel have retired recently, effectively severing the moorings of this very large, very old ship.

The beginning of 2013 brought a young, energetic general manager, Johnny, who was keen on moving and shaking. Charley is an earnest, hard-working fellow that embraces new processes that clearly benefit the company. That made Charley the new GM's go-to guy. While Charley certainly could see the benefits to the company and was glad of the changes, the extra stress was not always welcome. This past year he created a new production board that tracks individual pattern maker's progress on their projects, he researched and purchased a CNC machine, is working on training patternmakers to use it, is augmenting his production process to leverage its abilities, and he headed up a new Continuous Improvement Program that solicits ideas from employees and provides a reward structure for ideas generated by individual employees and departments supporting the efforts. He was also the second chair on the AFS board. All this and he still managed the day to day operation of the pattern shop. He is lucky to have an excellent group of guys working for him, including a very competent Lead Man, and backups.
New CNC machine
Whew. No wonder he always looks relieved to be home, even though I saddle him with the care of two young kids while I go out for a walk and to write, all of which helps me maintain my scant hold on my sanity. (They don't nap.)

As you probably already know, Charley's been doing quite a bit of running. He and his running partner Dalt logged around six hundred miles last year. He schedules enough races to keep himself motivated throughout the year. The first would have been the Shamrock Run, but we were afflicted with the crud and collected our tee-shirts but posted no time. Charley also ran the Bridge to Brews, Portland Half and the Warrior Dash. He PR'd in the Portland Half with a 1:42:45, but was disappointed in the Warrior Dash. He had to run a later wave than I did, because we had the girls with us, and he got caught in a fifteen minute line-up at a rope wall. The girls and I were waiting for photo ops at the finish line and I was getting concerned when the forty-minute mark came and went. Then finally he came sliding down the mud-hill and trotted across the finish line. Doused in mud, bearded, and scowling, he looked like a warrior.

This summer Charley turned forty. Yep. Really.

At first he was thinking he'd like to have a big BBQ party and a band, but the closer it came the less enthusiastic he was about the idea. Then after a short sit at our computer, he looked around the wall into the kitchen and said, “There I did it. I just got us tickets to the Hops Baseball game on my birthday.” 

Cool! We went out to the Helvetia Tavern for dinner, decked out in our Boston gear and Hops hats and arrived in time to see Boston lose. It didn't dampen his spirits though. After all we were in a bar with freshly pulled pints, eating humongous burgers, alone together, (thanks Oma and Opa!) after which we were going to a ball game. A single A ball game, but who cares! A ball game in a stadium is pretty neat for us. Despite the Hops eventual loss, we had a great time at the game, and the game was really well played, with several of those moments that you hope to get at least one of during a game.

This summer Charley also became a brewer. He has brewed three varieties so far, a bitter (which isn't at all bitter), an amber, and an IPA. We have also had fun designing labels. Charley chose the photos and an effect he liked, I created the general layout and Tucker took both of these elements and turned it into something that looks professional. I would buy a bottle off the shelf, all they're missing are the warnings and a bar code. Each brew has a name, “Broken Boom Bitter”, “Ash Breeze Amber”, “Brooklyn Bombers IPA”, and a story. If you want to hear them, you'll have to come over for a sampling.

At our visit to Lina's he enjoyed spending time with his sister and brother-in-law Dave. Charley and Lina have an enviable relationship. They are each a stalwart friend and advocate for the other. At Lina's bachelorette party, waaay back in ‘98, we were in a bar celebrating, and a guy struck up a conversation with me—this kind of thing doesn't happen to me... He talked to me a bit, and while I wasn't interested—obviously, I'll admit I enjoyed the novelty of the attention. About thirty seconds into the conversation, there's Lina in her bachelorette finery, a cheesy bride to be tee-shirt and tiara, telling this guy to get lost, I'm married to her brother. He gave a whoa, hands up gesture and got lost. It was so cool... But I digress.

Charley and Lina had a great time catching up and reliving old times together. Charley also was in seventh heaven dining on Lina's cooking. Oh my, they know how to make amazing meals. I know it takes planning and effort, but she makes it look easy. She obviously inherited the Wachsmuth chef gene. She just brushes off the compliments and tells us how easy the recipes are. What she doesn't see it that it's her talent that makes it easy. I tried to duplicate a recipe they fed us called Halibut Fillets with Bombay Tomato Sauce and it was passable but didn't touch the tender fish, subtle flavor layers she was able to create. We followed the same recipe, from the same book! I think Charley and I gained five pounds each that week at Lina's.

This year at the Oysterville Regatta Eve gathering at Lina's cabin, Charley popped the tops of a couple bottles of the Broken Boom Bitter and everyone sampled, even those, like Tucker, who don't particularly care for the flavor of beer. Charley also went to the Oysterville Social Hour at the Stevens' house and entertained everyone with a discussion of the brewing process. He came out all grins as he recounted the conversation.


Charley has a very meticulous nature, well suited to the controlled environments you need as a brewer, and all of his brewing ventures have turned out really well. I would love to see us with a little Farmer's Market Stall in a few years, giving away samples and selling cases. Until then we are happily drinking his brews and sharing with friends, family and neighbors.

While Charley doesn't share our enthusiasm for the holidays, for the sake of the particular holiday, he always is out there dutifully decorating the house with lights and dragging plastic boxes of decorations out of our storage spaces, while the girls prance around in a state of delight.  He does however treasure the company of family and friends that the holidays bring.

Thanksgiving was at our house this year and we love getting our families together.  Charley and Clark had a nice opportunity to reconnect too.  After the third or fourth shared bottle of home brew the brotherly brothers decided to sign-up for Tough Mudder this year.  In case your not familiar with Tough Mudder, it is an obstacle course race that goes ten miles, featuring electrical shocks and pools of ice water to crawl through...  Feeling brotherly?  Sign up for their team!

The last few years our tradition has been to visit Lina and Dave for a weekend, a week or two before Christmas.  Charley looks forward to this immensely.  He spends the weekend tucked in with his family visiting, dining on Lina's amazing cooking, shooting clay pigeons, and in general having a good time.  This year he brought up some of his beer and we had great fun sampling, visiting, and sampling some more.  The next morning, although feeling a bit sluggish, Dave, Lina, Charley and I managed a three mile run, while Opa and Oma watched our little ones. The area they live in is absolutely beautiful and the run was as pleasurable as the company.

We spent our New Years in Oysterville in the company of Oma and Opa.  None of us could make it to midnight so the fun favors had to wait until morning.  The morning came and went.  Then the next day it was time to go home and still the favors were untouched.  With the car was loaded and idling, we got out the noise makers and poppers and rang in the new year.  We brought the remainder of the favors home and had a big celebration.  The girls were crowned with tiaras while blowing horns and popping poppers.  Thanks Oma and Opa!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Berzo- New Year's Reflections 2013

Berzo and I enjoyed the quiet time together while Charley was at work and Boots was at school for the morning.  Although it only amounted to a few hours, it felt decadent to be able to focus solely on her.

Once Boots was in school, I assumed that Berzo's toddler-hood would be more or less a repeat of Boots', but it wasn't. We do some of the things that Boots and I did together, but we've also invented many new routines and rituals.  We'll stroll to Starbucks and she'll get a Apple Juice Love-It, (other people call it a Kid's Apple Steamer—I prefer Berzo's nomenclature) then we'll go to play in a park nearby. It has columns holding up a covered area. We weave through the columns, playing tag, and hide and seek, I hide behind a column and act shocked that she could see me and find me. We pretend we are in a rocket blasting off to orbit the earth. Usually we don't escape Earth's gravitational pull and plummet back down to the ground. However, sometimes we build enough thrusting power and I fly her through the air, her body laid across my arms and we take several orbits of the earth before returning to the launch pad. We also pet the friendly dogs that frequent the park for other reasons...

There is another park nearby with a bridge over a creek, and we spent copious amounts of time gathering sticks, leaves, and rocks and dropping them off the bridge into the water. We took trips to another park to feed the ducks, play in the Echo Tunnel, and visit the library.  We'd also meet our friends, Cathy and her son, for fun play dates at our parks, library, zoo...

Cutie and Berzo awaiting the sea lions.

Last fall we also started taking Gymboree classes once a week with Berzo's friend Cutie. She loved Gymboree immensely. The room is cleverly re-arranged every two weeks to complement a new theme, e.g. Fast and Slow, Loud and Quiet. The teachers then coach us parents on the theme and we guide our kids through the activities. The forty-five minute class alternates between fun activity time to quiet listen and learn time. Berzo was all for the fun activity time, but usually opted out of the listen and learn time, and would dash around, climbing, jumping and sliding while many of the other kids sat quietly on their parent's laps playing a game or listening to a story. Luckily, the toddlers are encouraged to go at their own pace and explore as much or as little as they want.

At the ER.
In early February, Berzo fell while walking down our sloped driveway with a bucket in her hand, catching all her weight on her left arm, breaking the bone just below the elbow. She normally calms right down after a spill; I'll pick her up, kiss her boo-boo and she's usually good to go. In this case, it took a long time for the crying to taper off, then whenever she moved her arm, even a little, she screamed out in pain. This was familiar from when Boots  broke her arm the year before, so I rigged up a sling and took her to the ER. Four or fourzillion hours later we were discharged with a temporary cast. After four weeks in her cast, which slowed her down—not at all, her bone mended perfectly. It took her less than twenty-four hours to regain her full range of motion. Ah, to be young!

It was around this time that I took my trip to Hawaii with my friend Stephanie. I knew Charley and Boots would be OK, but leaving my baby-girl behind—wow, that was hard. She cried out for me when I went through security and my heart dropped—plunk—into my stomach. Charley said she stopped crying by the time they got back to the pick-up and she was happily watching Baby Einstein on her DVD player on the way home. With her doting Papa and protective big sister looking out for her, she did just fine.

In June Berzo officially left babyhood behind—sniff!—and turned two years old. We had great fun with friends and neighbors at our house for her monkey themed birthday party. She seemed to enjoy the novelty of being the center of attention.  She asks to watch her birthday song video over and over and over and over...

The school year passed too quickly and it was summer again.

With Boots home all day our dynamic changed, but we still had a lot of fun. Although Berzo spent a lot of time in the pickup while I ushered Boots to summer camps and other activities, I was careful to plan in plenty of playtime for Berzo. While Boots was in Farm Camp, we'd stop at Hagg lake, and Berzo would wade in the water and throw rocks and sticks. If I could get her out of the water, we'd hike around on the trails, but the call of the water would soon draw her back in. Boots also had a camp at a wetlands center, and Berzo and I spent the time hiking the trails and counting ladybugs. (We got to eighty one day!) During Boots ' clay camp, we wandered downtown poking around in the book shops, petting dogs, and visiting parks.

The girls kept asking to go swimming so I decided to declare Wednesday as Swim Day at our local aquatic center. The girls loved playing in the warm, shallow pool specially designed for kids. I had fun too, but I also sprouted a couple of new gray hairs worrying over changing room cooties and small children's propensity for touching and tasting everything.

Berzo enjoyed our visit to Tante Lina's where she played with their dogs, Cutter and Potato almost continuously. If she was outside, she was throwing the drool saturated tennis ball for Cutter. Inside the house, she'd throw Potato's little stuffed toys. Walking around the house, she'd randomly shout, “What's that Katato doo-wing!?!”

She loved spending time with Tante Lina and getting tickled and tossed around by Uncle Dave. The nearby river was a big deal for her too.  There's just something zen about a river. The cold, clear water tumbles by washing away stress; hours glide by unnoticed as we throw rocks, wade and watch.

Also, big sister isn't the only horse girl in the family.  During our visit to Lina's, Berzo also got to ride a horse at Sue and Bob's farm. When Boots was riding, Berzo was out at the pasture fence, playing with the other horse, Spider, who seemed just as interested in her as she was in him. When Berzo's turn to ride ended, she burst into tears and was only consoled when we took another trip out to visit Spider at the fence.

Our time in Oysterville was wonderful for Berzo. We had lovely warm weather and every day Berzo insisted we go swimming. She insisted so vehemently that we took her even when the bay was going to be very cold, just so she could see for herself that the warm water of yesterday was going to be cold today. She dipped in a big toe and agreed it was too cold for swimming that day.

Shoalwater Bay is a tricky place to swim. The tide breathes in and out twice a day, and when the tide ebbs the mudflats go on and on, stranding the last of the water in the distant channels. The best conditions for swimming occur when the tide is out in the morning and the mudflats are allowed to bake in the sun until it flows in the early afternoon.  Then the mudflats warm the frigid ocean water making it rather pleasant for swimming. Sound tricky? It is. When there is a good tide for swimming, you must seize the moment, even if it is 7 p.m. It's magic when everything lines up, and difficult to explain to your two-year-old when it doesn't. Luckily, a walk through Oysterville and down Clay Street to see the bay is never a disagreeable experience.

Fall fell upon us and it was interesting to watch Berzo be aware of the changes. First the leaf colors changed and she'd remark on the golds, reds and oranges, as she collected them. “Look at this pretty red leaf, Mama!” Then they dropped off entirely and she'd declare, “The trees are all naked Mama!” Then she'd have a good laugh at her joke. She and Boots spent a the warm fall afternoons raking, and arguing over rakes, and jumping in the leaf piles.

Berzo loves music and often disappears to my room to play CDs on my clock radio. She then dances on my bed, or creates a “toasty nest” of blankets for herself and looks at her books. A door slam is my clue that she needs some time to unwind. She is attracted to instruments of all kind. This Christmas Santa brought her a wooden xylophone and cymbals, and their sound often tinkles through our front room.

Although, having two girls has made our life infinitely more complicated, and their fighting is disheartening at times, I couldn't imagine my life without this adorable little bug. Having one child changed me in so many ways, and I couldn't imagine loving another child as much as I love Boots ; then I had Berzo and my heart simply doubled in size. I see it in Charley and Boots  too. She has touched each of our lives in a way that binds us tighter as a family and helps us to focus on the sweeter, gentler things, and Berzo is the embodiment of that.

When I asked Berzo what she wanted to say to every one she gave me a coy grin and hugged me.  So here's a hug from Berzo >:D< mmmmMMm.

Monday, January 27, 2014

New Year's Reflections 2013 - Boots' Year

As this year came to a close, I thought a lot about where it went and came up kinda empty... So I decided to fish some of the year's highlights out of clutter in my head and hang them up with magnets on my Internet fridge, where others can enjoy them.

I’m organizing them in a series of posts, one for each family member. Then I’ll finish up with our hopes for the next year.

I’ll start with Boots, because she consumes about 80% of my mental resources. Then I’ll be able to relax and give everyone else the attention their stories deserve.

As the year started Boots was midway through her Kindergarten year. The bus picked her up in the morning at 7:10 and dropped her off at 11:20. She would ask me, “Does the day seem short to you too, Mama?”


She loved her teacher, so did I, and she also enjoyed art and playtime.

Her teacher loved her too. During our parent teacher conference, she praised Boots' helpfulness, willingness to follow direction, and she said she was one of the quiet ones in a very noisy class. I asked if we were here for my Boots' conference.

She said, “Oh, yes.”

I was proud, but a little bemused as to how my spirited, rambunctious little girl, who speaks only at full volume, could contain all that for the school day. I decided I didn't care, I was glad she was well behaved at school and exercises her other qualities with me at home. It was nice knowing that she has those skills, and that she chooses to use them when she needs them most.

Having a kid in school is a whole new realm in parenting for Charley and me. After spending the last five years endeavoring to get Boots to sleep, and to stay asleep past 4:30 a.m., it felt wrong to wake her up at six to get ready for school. Sometimes I'd let her keep sleeping until the last possible moment, then I'd wake her up, animate her little body through getting dressed, hair brushed, and fed, then drive her to school to just barely make the 7:45 bell.  The irony that now she wants to sleep in was not lost on me.

I noticed that kids don't get homework anymore, the family gets homework. Such as reading with your child for fifteen minutes everyday, and math games you play with a parent, etc. It's OK, just different.

Then there's new social problems like, “Mom, Gracin is mad at me because she thought I chased her at recess. What do I do?” And, “Mom, there's a kid who bothers me and my friends and recess everyday. He won't go away. What do I do?” Honestly? I had no idea. If a friend was mad at me, then I'd just wait until she wasn't mad anymore.  I never knew what to do when I was bullied. I'd usually cry.  Clueless. Determined to give Boots some help, I did lots of thinking and research, and happily things all worked out in the end. Now I know how to coach her on effective things to say when being bullied, or when a misunderstanding with a friend happens. I also learned the protocol for involving the school administration, and when, and who, and how, to ask for help. I could write an article to help other parents with newly minted school age children...  I sure needed one.

Then there's the right clothes, snacks, volunteering, fund-raisers, class parties, field trips, picture day, show-and-tell, a never-ending parade of viruses that marched through our family, all of this was new territory for our family.

A warm May day we were playing in our cul-de-sac and Boots informed me she wanted to have her ears pierced.  The next day, we drove to a mall that had a Claire's Boutique.  After waiting an hour for the store to open we hurried in and Boots announced that she wanted her ears pierced, but the girl was not yet trained to pierce ears.  (It's a minor medical procedure these days, complete with paperwork, et al.) Boots cried as we called some friends whose daughter recently had her ears pierced.  They told us that the mall in Tanasbourne, with the Macy's in it, had a Claire's.  We heard Tanasbourne mall and Macy's.  The Macy's employees looked bemused as we asked where we could get her ears pierced.  We called again, and this time we collected the "Claire's" part of the directions.  We headed over, and Boots chose blue flowers. Click, click, it was done.  She was very proud and so were we.

Boots was ready for summer when June arrived.

In June we were notified that Tucker achieved legendary status. We have always held him as legendary, but now it was official. He was included in the book, Legendary Locals of the Long Beach Penninsula, by Sydney Stevens. His picture is one of him on his Day Sailor on Shoalwater Bay, with Boots by his side. It was a wonderful moment. Because she was also pictured and named, she was invited to attend the exclusive book presentation and signing at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum. She spent the afternoon shaking hands and signing books with the other legends present that day, and when she got tired she recharged by taking a snuggle break on her Oma's lap.  It is a wonderful book and makes an excellent gift for anyone interested in the Long Beach Peninsula.  I might be able to score you an autographed copy...

Just two legends swapping autographs...

In late June, Boots started her week at Farm Camp. Boots and her friend Madi spent each day for a week out in Patton Valley helping around a working farm, grooming animals, and riding horses.

The highlight of her summer was her visit to Tante Lina's—she loves it there. Tante Lina introduced her to beading, and in the three hours Dave, Charley and I were gone fishing, she produced a half dozen necklaces and a few bracelets as well. She also got to ride horses, help in the garden, and play in the river near their house. She also soaked up all the attention her Tante Lina lavishes on her.

Gin and Boots
Also memorable for Boots was our visits to Oysterville, particularly because of the presence of two other little girls, her cousin Amelia and a new friend, Gin. Gin, short for Virginia, is the daughter of Abby, whom Charley played with as a youngster vacationing in Oysterville. Second generation Oysterville playmates—so cool. [I have been informed that Boots and Gin are fourth! generation playmates.  Oysterville is a wonderful place to have such deep roots.]  Boots was so moved by the experience of having a new Oysterville friend, she used some of her Christmas money to buy a stick horse to give to Gin to next time we meet there.  Gin and Oysterville has become synonymous; when we tell Boots about an upcoming trip, she asks if Gin will also be there.

Mimi and Boots
The grand event of Boot's summer is always her birthday party. She turned six this past July and as usual we had a water party for her in our backyard. The day was warm and we had hoses crisscrossing the yard, charging the plumbing to the play structure that mists the slide (a custom job by Charley), one filling a kiddie pool, another running a slip-n-slide, yet another filling a bucket and water balloons. The water balloon battle raged, and eventually degraded to buckets and hoses, and all the guest left several hours later wet, loaded with sugar, and happy. No one as much as the birthday girl.

First Grade
Summer ended too quickly and first grade loomed. Her anxiety grew and grew, until finally when someone would ask her if she was excited about going in to the first grade she would simply run away from them. It came time for school clothes shopping, (she loves shopping!) and she wanted nothing to do with it. She was terrified. When it was a couple weeks away, she broke down, laid on the floor in tears, saying that she didn't want to go, she hates school, school is stupid... Then she'd beg me to home-school her, to which I answered, “No.”  I can hardly get her to pick up her dirty socks, let alone sit and focus on math for an hour. She'd break me in a week. Judge me as you will.

During her yearly checkup, I discussed her anxiety issues with her doctor as I believed that her school fear is a symptom of her natural tendency to be anxious. He suggested we try therapy for anxiety, with the hopes of giving her some tools for working through these situations that were so scary for her. The therapy was only so-so successful; it's difficult for a doctor to effectively know a person in forty-five minutes, once a week. The best advice, as usual, came from friends; I called the school and brought her in to meet her teacher. It was very informal, but after seeing the familiar hallways, her young, pretty teacher who was very nice to her, she visibly relaxed. I was also able to talk to her teacher briefly about Boots' anxiety and I think that helped prime her to be a little extra gentle with Boots. It was also nice for Boots to hear from Sydney Stevens, a former grammar school teacher herself, that teachers are also a little nervous on the first day. Happily, things have been OK for her this year. Although, she is already looking forward to summer.

Thanksgiving brought her cousins Amelia, Sam, Christian and Tiberius.  Boots and Amelia attached themselves at the hip and very little was seen or heard from them during the festivities.  Except after dinner, "Mama, can I have more of Oma's chocolate cream pie?!?"

And from Amelia, "Me too!"

And from me, "Yes, and I don't mind if I do too."

Christmas came and her excitement grew along with her Christmas list.  At the top of the list was a Baby Butterscotch Furr Real Pony.  She wrote her list to Santa, and wrote another one for Berzo, and we mailed them off.  To our surprise, Santa wrote back two lovely typewritten letters, signed by Santa along with a candy cane.  The thrill was palpable.  Christmas morning came and Boots went for the biggest package first, naturally, and grinned when her very own Baby Butterscotch was revealed.  They were inseparable for the rest of the day.

Over the last year, her passion for horses has grown, as evidenced by her growing collection of horse toys, horse clothes, the frequency of their appearance in her artwork, clay sculptures, and homemade books. She also loves playing board games like Horseopoloy, Horse Show, Herd your Horses, and Forbidden Island. She is very proud of her new reading skills and reads nearly everyday—usually about horses. She is currently working her way through an unabridged version of Black Beauty.  It is common for Berzo to bring her a book, “Will you read this book to me sis-ter?”

Usually, “Sure, come sit by me,” is the reply.

Music to my ears.

Boot's message to you: "I love horses. I can't wait to go to Oysterville," and "Hi!"

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Littler 'Berz is Sick

For the past two days, I’ve noticed a raspier note in Berzo’s ever present cough. When in public places I remind her to cough into her elbow, and she blurts, “I’m still sick.” We have spent much of the last few months sick and therefore have answered many inquiries about our health, so I thought this was one of those programmed responses. She didn’t feel warm, or have a runny nose...

Turns out she really was coming down with something. Two nights ago, she looked a little flimsy. Then after her bath she wilted. As soon as she was out of the hot water, goose bumps prickled her skin and she cried as I dried her with a towel that must have felt like sandpaper.


I got her in her jammies and took her temperature. She was just shy of 100 degrees. I got her bundled up on our futon and made her warm cocoa. I told Charley and Boots that Berzo was sick and they both sprung into action. Charley gave her a hug and Boots hopped up on the futon and gave her a hug too. Berzo and Boots are not always on the best of terms so Berzo tried to get rid of her. “Sister, I’m sick! Let me be.”

Boots said, “I know you’re sick. Would you like me to read you a book?” She picked up her new favorite, Ferdinand the Bull and started to read.

Berzo said, “No! I’m sick. Go away.”

Undeterred Boots started to read. She read the entire book, then picked up another, and another, and another. Eventually, it became time for Boots to get ready for bed, but she ignored my requests and read on. Berzo sat just quietly and listened. Boots offered her a choice of which book to read next and sometimes she’d respond, sometimes not, then Boots would choose for her. Berzo's eyes got heavy, and right at her 7pm bedtime she fell asleep.

I wish I could report that I was so tenderhearted. All I could think is of was this past September and November we spent confined to our house as the last fever worked its way through our family. And how skinny and pale Boots and Berzo became. And the swine flu that is ravaging our neighborhood and area—some of whom have been vaccinated. So many people we know have had it and it’s awful. At Charley’s work, several people have been hospitalized. A four-year-old child recently died.

We are all vaccinated. Charley and I in the early fall and the girls only this past Monday. I was blaming myself for waiting so long. I was blaming myself for all the public places we’ve visited, an indoor playground, the library, stores, parks, etc. I was blaming myself for not taking the threat more seriously.

I looked at Charley. He’s smiling, he’s relaxed. I wanted to kick him. He’s the worrier not me.

“She just has a fever. You don’t know it’s swine flu. There’s lots cold viruses that cause fevers too,” he said.  I still wanted to kick him a little.

I reminded myself that feeling guilty is counterproductive and useless. I reminded myself that I waited on their flu shots because they have to be healthy, and they’ve rarely been healthy at the same time since summer. Then when I called and made the appointment, during Christmas Break, we had to wait another week to get in. I reminded myself that when we visited public places, we sanitized before and after, and washed our hands frequently, and always before we ate. I reminded myself that we can’t live in germ free bubbles. Life is risk. Risk is OK. Risk can even be fun.

Still my mood persisted.

I was stuck in a it’s-just-not-fair and what-if-we-all-get-it pout. Also, I was disappointed because my 2014 All New Amy Plan was in the works.

I have long admonished myself for being a poor family manager and being somewhat disorganized about our daily life. I’m a free spirit, I like to blow where the wind takes us and see what the day holds. Other than meals and bedtimes, I’m not big on scheduling anything. So as a result, we tend to while away days that could be seized, Charley and I let home projects idle and stall out, we have very few social engagements, and take very little time for us, blah, blah, blah.

However, 2014 is a brand new year. And this year Amy is going to be organized! Social activities are on the books! Boots is signed up for swim lessons! (Something I’ve been meaning to do for months.) We have a plan for our kitchen remodel! Individual projects are scheduled. The new stuff is ordered, Charley and I are ready to begin on refurbishing our cabinets, the contractor is waiting in on the bench for materials to come in. We have hired babysitters to helps us out on weekends while we work, and eventually allow us some time out together. Everyone’s excited and charged up about the changes. Boots is counting the days until Saturday where she’ll have two teenagers to boss around and play with.

But Berzo has a fever. Suddenly all my plans are in suspension. I missed my Mom’s social group. I missed holding and ogling the newborn of one of my friends. I’ve cancelled the babysitter’s first visit. No cabinet refinishing will happen this weekend.

Feeling better the next morning, I accepted the fact that we’re not doing much, which is difficult for an outdoor girl such as myself. Much to my surprise it was an extremely pleasant day. We took the morning slow and watched home videos on our computer. We laughed at our goofiness and re-lived warmer, sunnier, healthier days. Berzo was particularly interested in seeing her birthday videos. Afterwards, she sat in her basket of stuffed animals and looked at books.

During our morning, I was able to fit in several loads of laundry, emptied the dishwasher and many other household chores, while taking fifteen minute breaks frequently to play with Berzo, read books with her, watch her dance a toddler ballet on my bed, get her water and cocoa, and coax her to into eating some breakfast.

Around 10am, I bundled her in blankets and set her in the stroller. I loaded her up with snacks and water and we headed out for a walk. I love getting out for some natural light, fresh air and all, but my grand plan was for the stroller to lull her into taking a nap, which she doesn’t normally do. We headed for the bank for our first stop and by the time we arrived she was yawning heavily. Afterwards we strolled the half-mile or so to the coffee shop for a treat, an Apple Juice Love-It! for her, and a decaf coffee for me. She guzzled her apple juice and asked for more snacks. She was still awake when we got home, but was very droopy. I checked her temperature and she was up a bit at 101 degrees so I gave her some medicine and bundled her up on the futon. Our cat, Rogue, curled up right next to her. I turned on Berzo's favorite movie, Brave, and started some chicken soup.

She didn’t want to eat but asked me to snuggle her. I thought about all the chores and such I could be doing. Then crawled in next to her. She snuggled right in, fitting her self to my the curve of my body, laying her head on my arm. It was wonderful. We stayed that way for quite some time, sharing warmth as I breathed in her sweet scent. I tried to remember what I was so upset about yesterday. I couldn't think of what it was—it simply didn’t matter anymore.

Sometimes, I need a reminder that my plans are just that, my plans. Sometimes, God, fate, nature, the great spirit, whatever you may call it, reminds me that his (or her) plans trump mine, and that I’m not here for the sole purpose of getting stuff done. I’m here to love, live, and complement the richness of this world and all our interconnected relationships. I am not alone, I’m a tiny cell in this vast being that is our planet, our galaxy, our universe, our supreme being, and I have a part to play that’s just as important as anybody else’s. And in this moment, snuggling my feverish child is about the most divine way I could spend my time.
Mama, will you snuggle me?