Friday, October 16, 2009

Dinner, Dancing and Dreams!!

We were so thrilled to have my mom in town
this month for her 60th birthday!!

The weather was incredible in Seattle the entire time she was here.
She was able to clearly se the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

It has always been her dream to take my family on a cruise.

She loves cruising and wanted my kids to have that experience before they
grew up and were out on their own.

We booked Celebrity cruiselines Pacific Northwest weekend cruise to Canada.

We left from the gorgeous Seattle waterfront.

The Bon Voyage dance party kicked off the cruise
and we were off for three days of fun!

It was so fun to be on a dance floor with my kids!
I can't remember the last time that happened.

I also enjoyed watching my boys dance with my mom.
That's another dream my mom had.
So I guess you could say that this cruise
was a dream fulfilling experience for her!

We had two ports.
The first one was Victoria BC followed by
They were both so beautiful.
We enjoyed exploring them on foot.
I can't wait to drive up and have more time
in those two locations.
There seemed to be a ton to do
including ziplines, hikes and snow sports.
We didn't have time to take any big excursions,
so we opted to walk the streets and see what we could see.

Just spending the time together
completely unplugged from our daily lives
was so precious.

Madison and Nana roomed together
and I loved watching them bond.
Madison has changed so much since the last time they were together,
so I was happy to see that they still have a special connection.
It made me smile to see them posing together
while Madison snapped many photos of them
with her cell phone.
It was a small thing,
but Madison does this with her friends,
so it was endearing to me to see her pulling Nana in
in that way.

Each night before dinner there was a show.
We'd get all dressed up and sit together to watch it.
The first night there were dancers and a world class juggler.
The second night there was a comedian,
and the last night was "dancing around the world".
We enjoyed them all,
but that juggler was the most memorable.
I can't remember the last time my boys were in
kakhi pants and dress shirts!
That alone was worth the whole trip!

Each evening after dinner there were
a variety of activities.
Karaoke, Bingo, nightclub dancing,
casinos and endless lounges with fabulous singers.
Bren always wanted to dance.
Before the trip, she came up to me quite despondant and said,
"Mom, what if I can't dance on the cruise?"
I asked her why she thought she wouldn't be able to dance.
She said, Because I don't have a boy."

Daddy was happy to be her "boy" every evening.

She was also happy to participate in the gormet chocolate bar
that was put out at 11pm!
What a departure from daily life where
we try not to give her sugar past 5 pm or
she's wired til mid-night!

My favorite part of the whole thing
was definitely dinner time.
I was so proud of my kids for trying new things
and for adapting so well to the formality.
They learned quickly what fork to use for which course
and how to relax amid such elegance.
We had some great conversations around the table
and some memorable laughs that will
now be inside jokes between them and Nana.
As busy as our family is,
dinner time together has become a rarity.
Sometimes we eat in shifts.
Sometimes we'll eat standing around the bar in the kitchen.
Sometimes we are all there, most of the time we are not.
Every once in a while we'll all sit together and eat,
but that is not the norm anymore.

I remember growing up and having family dinners.
Stuffed peppers or meatloaf
or BBQ's and fish frys in the backyard.
Everyone coming together at the end of the day.
They are such precious memories to me
and I'm trying hard to deliver that consistency to my kids too.
But change is inevitable.
Kids grow up and have busy lives of their own.
Husbands work late.
Schedules get full
and flexibility becomes more important than rules.
My older kids remember family meals
because we used to be very good at it,
but Bren is kinda caught in the chaos of being a little fish in
a big swirling fish pond.
I don't want this to be her norm.
I was thinking about this while we were being served
incredibly delicious, elegant five course meals by
very accomodating professional wait staff.
One night a week.
That's my goal.
One family dinner night each week is still doable
even with all we have going on.

The connection is so worth the effort.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Maybe it's Maybelline.

So Madison is 13.
Man, I remember alot about being 13!!!
There is so much I don't remember about growing up.
I have a horrible memory.
I remember flashes and jumbled up little snipetts of events.
My earliest clear memory where I can recall in exact sequence
how things happened and the details like conversations, or supporting characters
isn't until I was around 12 or 13.

It's a frustration for me
and I rely alot on what other people say happened.
Finding old friends on facebook
has jogged my memory a little,
but I still struggle to
put lots of pieces together from years ago.
My cousin Carrie has the best memory ever.
She remembers what people were wearing, what they said,
how she and others felt, and little details about
certain events that just bring them back to life.
I love learning about my young self from her.
But I do remember alot about being 13,
and it's totally different than today's 13 year old girl.

Madison has always been an old soul.
She was born serious and has been keeping us all on the straight and narrow
ever since.
She's responsible and direct.
Totally capable of making hard decisions and sticking with them.
I admire her determination and conviction.

But she's still 13.
This year is full of so many changes.
I can see her becoming a woman before my eyes.
She's getting to know who she is and
is learning how to best present herself.
Lately I've seen her paying much closer attention
to how she does her makeup
and what kind of clothing she wears.
She's on the conservative side,
which I am so proud of, but
she also has very striking eyes and
she's quite curvy (like her mom),
so playing those attributes up
in a tasteful way requires some style.

In the spirit of trying to start her off right
in the art of self presentation,
and to give myself a refresher,
she and I went to the local Clinique sales rep
and had our colors done.
We had so much fun getting to play with the products.
Of course the sales lady said all the right things
like, "My, you two could be sisters!",
so I left there feeling quite youthful!

Madison was raving about my eyelashes and
I was raving about her glowing skin.
We had a great time together and came home with a bag
full of magic.

So now, we start our mornings off with
a cleanser, a clarifying lotion and a moisturizing lotion
followed by various concealers and shimmering pinks and browns.

Seeing her come into my bathroom with her hair in a ponytail
and asking me if I like what she's done with her eyes,
makes me sad and happy at the same time.

I'm so blessed to have a daughter like Maddie
to share these fun girly things with
and I'm overjoyed that she's already a woman of character,
but at the same time,
I know how fleeting these next five years are.
I can hardly find the curly-haired little girl behind her
perfectly shadowed blue eyes anymore
and that makes me want to stop the clock!
But, I know that my saddness is selfish.
This is her time.
The teen years are full of excitement and adventure.
New discoveries and little tastes of freedom
are around every corner.
She's learning now who she wants to be in the future
and how to get there.
So, while there was a lump in my throat behind my
broad, doting smile,
I studied Madison's eyes
and told her what a beautiful job she'd done on them
that morning.
Maybelline has nothing on this girl,
she was born with it!