Tag Archives: family

Weekend Snapshots 62

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Friday

We had to clear out of our parking spots at UVA for graduation by 12, so I got to spend the afternoon playing in my garden. In the pouring rain.

This young man had his very last full day of high school.

His younger siblings celebrated the end of the week with a game of basketball.
In the pouring rain.

Hanging out with my beloved book group was a fitting end to a near perfect day.

Saturday

We took the kids to the Alamo Cinema Drafthouse to see a movie.

“Anything but the Avengers!” my husband insisted. “I don’t ever want to see another superhero movie again.”

In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want…”

We did end up seeing a superhero movie after all.

RBG – the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg gives you hope for the world by showing that there is at least one actual superhero living among us here on earth.

Sunday

That darn tree is still leaning precariously. Hoping to get it and the tree it’s using as a crutch taken down and away by the end of the week. I’m sad about the trees, but hopefully more sun will bring more flowers.

Weekend Snapshots 61: we’re still standing

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Saturday

img_4056My husband took my daughter to her soccer game in Blacksburg this Saturday. I played hooky and spent the day pottering around in my garden, getting a few more patches of poison ivy rashes on my legs. Meanwhile, my son took himself to his own soccer game, but had to come home early, having badly sprained his ankle. He’ll have to be on crutches for a week or so.

While he convalesced indoors, I kept being drawn outside to admire the flowers. I’ve been especially enamored with the irises I planted a couple years ago. They’ve finally come into their own this year…

I was annoyed, however, to see that a bright orange interloper had popped up in the flower bed.

 

My daughter noticed it immediately and asked “What’s that orange flower?!”

“That’s an iris. They must have sent it by accident with my order.”

I was just about to tell her that I was going to yank it out and replant it in some obscure patch in the backyard when she gushed, “I LOVE it! It’s SO cute!” So, I guess it’s staying…

What’s NOT staying is the huge oak tree, pictured upright just beyond the orange iris in the previous picture. Today it looks like this:

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Yesterday, I drove home from work through a powerful storm. It was late and I was so thoroughly exhausted that I somehow managed to pull into the driveway without even noticing that the tree had fallen into another huge oak tree, whose top sheared off and took down the fence with it, and fell into the road, blocking traffic coming from the other direction. When I came through the door, the kids came running up from the basement, where they had been cowering in fear.

“Thank goodness you’re home!!! Did you see the tree?!” my daughter asked breathlessly.

“Tree? What tree?”

YOU DIDN’T NOTICE THE TREE?!

She had to drag me to the window to point out the obvious.

Sunday

We sang in the choir all together for the last time. During the service there was a big, mushy send-off for the graduating seniors, including my son, who is heading to college in New York this fall. I was reduced to a quivering mass of exposed nerves, tears, and snot right up front and center in the choir loft. I’m sure I stuck out like a gaudy orange flower, and not in a cute way either.

But…we’re still standing.

Weekend Snapshots 60: Hoop Dreams Edition

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Friday

My daughter has been pining for a basketball hoop for ages. I was dithering, mostly because the thought of having to put it together filled me with dread. When I was shopping around, I saw that it was possible to pay someone to do the assembly and I seriously considered it. On Friday I picked my daughter up after her quartet/violin recital practice and we finally went to pick up her long-awaited basketball hoop. I asked the kids for help getting the box out of the back of the car. To my surprise, they not only got it out of the car, they immediately got to work assembling it.

They worked for as long as they could, using flashlights until they finally gave up for the night.

I helped too, obviously…by holding a flashlight.

Saturday

My daughter spent the morning diligently warming up for her violin recital…

As always, her big brothers did their best to help her keep her eye on the ball.

We were running early, so we killed a few minutes at the library, which happens to be right next door to the church where the recital took place…

We picked up a couple of Pocket Poems on our way out of the library…

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Show time!

Quickie post-recital haircut…

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…aaaaand back to work!

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I was feeling guilty for letting my kids do all the work putting the hoop together. I knew I should really lend a helping hand. I rolled up my sleeves and started to peel the plastic off the backboard. A gasp of outrage and betrayal stopped me dead in my tracks. I turned around to see my kids staring at me as if I had just kicked a kitten.

“That’s the best part! We’ve been saving that up for last!!”

“OH! Sorry!!”

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I went to meet my friend for dinner and a concert to take a break from my labors!

IMG_3908In keeping with the astronomy theme presaged by the Walt Whitman poem I had randomly picked at the library earlier that day, we heard Gustav Holst’s The Planets and Kaija Saariaho’s Orion.

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Sunday

After church it was back to work on the basketball hoop…

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The appreciative siblings gave the honor of making the first basket to the boy who did the lion’s share of the work:

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And then it was game on!IMG_3943IMG_3944IMG_3946IMG_3948

“True story,” I told my kids. I got my first ‘C’ ever because of basketball. We were doing a basketball unit in P.E. and your grade for the quarter was based on the average of a bunch of different layups. Every time you missed the basket, your grade would go down by a whole letter. So I ended up with a ‘C’.” My daughter sent the ball in my direction. “Here Mama, let’s see if you’ve improved!”

 

 

I got a B! I got a B!

 

 

 

 

Bewitched

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I still haven’t figured out what possessed my son to bring a cat inside the house. Unlike his siblings, he has never once clamored or cajoled for a pet. Unlike his siblings, he has never once fawned over an animal. I save photos and videos of pandas to a folder for my daughter to coo over. I routinely forward my older son articles about fish, octopus, or other sea creatures. I don’t bother saving any animal-related photos or articles for Jiminy Cricket, because I know he’s not interested.

Once I took my children to a goat farm during kidding season. The youngest and oldest were rapturous with joy as they nuzzled newborn goats. Jiminy Cricket stood off to the side with his hands jammed deep into his pockets and politely declined all offers to hold a baby goat. A couple times I took the kids to a live butterfly exhibit. The rest of us stood forlornly with outstretched hands, trying in vain to get a creature to alight on our fingers. The butterflies floated right past us and straight to JC, who stood there – a picture of suffering – his body shuddering with visceral horror and disgust as they landed all over him.

The boy has never even warmed up to any of our own pets:

When he takes the dogs out for their morning constitutional, he squeamishly wraps the torso of the one who refuses to walk down stairs in a paper towel, so his hands don’t actually have to make contact with his fur as he carries him to the yard.

So why would this boy insist on bringing a cat into the house? I can only conclude that he was overpowered by some potent feline bewitchment.

And how are things working out, you might be wondering?

Well…the words pussy whipped spring to mind.

For the first month or so after my son insisted on bringing the cat in, she didn’t budge from his bedroom. She stayed on a cat bed in the corner of his room unless she had to use the kitty litter, which he had set up right next to her bed. When I suggested moving the litter to the bathroom so it wouldn’t have to be in his bedroom, he demurred and said he didn’t think the cat would feel comfortable having to leave his room.

After she’d been with us for some time, I asked my son if she was starting to explore her surroundings a little more.

“Yes!” he replied. “Now sometimes she’ll come up to me when I’m working at my computer. At first I’ll feel her little velvet paws on my legs…and then I’ll feel her slowly sinking her claws into my flesh! Sometimes I’ll come into my room and I’ll need to sit down to do some work, but I can’t because she’ll be sitting on my chair and she just stares at me and she won’t move.”

“So do you kick her out of the chair?”

“No!” he said, clearly signaling with his tone of voice how preposterous he found that notion…”I just go away and come back a little later.”

After another few months passed, I started to hear strange thudding noises at night. Eventually, I figured out that it was the cat running back and forth, up and down the hallway. I’m convinced she’s in training…probably to murder my son while he sleeps.

“I think the cat needs to get some more exercise,” I proposed to my son. “Why don’t we try to let her outside for a little? I bet she’s really bored in your room, and would love to go out for a bit to stretch her legs!”

“I really don’t think that’s a good idea,” he replied.

One fine morning, I decided to insist. “Let’s just try to let her out for a little bit! We’ll let her right back in as soon as she wants to come back!”

“OK,” he said dubiously. He made his sister carry the cat down the stairs and to the door. He said he was afraid the cat would scratch him, but I’m pretty sure it’s because he didn’t want her to think it was his idea to make her go outside.

The minute the doors opened, the cat leapt out of my daughter’s arms and tore back upstairs to my son’s room, where she’s remained ever since. (Except of course when she trains in the hallway to murder him).

Like clockwork, the minute we sit down to dinner, the cat starts paging Jiminy from the top of the stairs.

“Oh,” he says, a guilty expression washing over his face, “Excuse me.”

He hustles up the stairs bearing food to the cat, as she continues to yowl at him the entire way. I swear to you, it sounds like: “Get. Your. Ass. Up. Here. NOW.”

He responds, “I’m coming. I’ll be right there. I’m on my way.”

In a much lower voice so she won’t hear, he mumbles: “Geez. I’m going as fast as I can. You don’t have to keep yelling at me.”

He comes back down the stairs and asks, “Mom, next time you go to the store, could you buy some more Fancy Feast, please? I like to alternate it with the Iams so she can have some variety.”

“Sure, Jiminy. Gotta keep the cat happy.”

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You looking at me?

 

 

Weekend Snapshots 57

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Friday

Spring has sprung in C’ville!  I took the day off work to spend some time with family and friends…img_3383

…who came to support our favorite author at the Virginia Festival of the Book!

Saturday

Tiger Pelt book signing…

Sunday

Grave Concerns

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For as long as I can remember, my parents have been fond of torturing us by talking about the afterlife with unseemly anticipation. My mother, in particular, has harbored a long time death wish. As a little girl, I remember feeling rather offended by the wistful quaver in her voice as she would sing: “Beyond the sunset, o blissful morning when with our Savior, heaven is begun. Earth’s toiling ended, o glorious dawning, beyond the sunset when day is done.

“Jesus Christ!” I’d think to myself huffily. “Don’t trip over your feet in your rush to ditch your little kid!

Scan 3When my mother was diagnosed with a serious illness and given eighteen months to live (ten years ago), it looked like her dreams were finally coming true. My parents began to prepare for the end in earnest. My dad already had a suitable poster-sized photo to display at his own funeral, but my mother did not. My dad rarely gets bothered about anything, but about this particular issue he fussed endlessly. He hired a photographer to come to their apartment in Seoul to take photos of my mother. In the end he rejected every single one, because he felt that she looked too sick in all of them. (Should have taken her to Glamour Shots, Dad!) Over the next eighteen months, he rooted around in old photo albums searching for possible funeral photos. When we’d see him at Thanksgiving, or Christmas he’d find a moment when my mother wasn’t around to pull one of us aside and furtively slip us an envelope containing her photo. We inevitably viewed his choices with dismay. (Really, Dad? She’s got a poodle pama* in this photo. Ugh – not this one! Her dress is hideous!)

We kept these uncharitable thoughts to ourselves, of course, and dutifully promised our dad that we would deal with the odious task of getting the photo enlarged. We would then routinely, perhaps subconsciously, sabotage the project by putting it off until we forgot all about it…only to be reminded the next time we saw our dad and he would give us a meaningful look and ask if we’d “taken care of the thing I asked you to do.” Once, in advance of a family get-together, my sister called me in a panic and confessed to me that she’d misplaced the latest photo my dad had given her. She knew he’d ask her about it, and she couldn’t admit to him that she’d lost it…The poor man kept plying us with new photos and pestering us until at long last we finally showed him one of the photos he’d chosen, enlarged to poster size and ready to display at my mom’s funeral. Lord only knows where it’s gathering dust now…

The next issue to be sorted out was where my parents would be buried. During the worst of my mother’s illness, when she truly was close to death, my father, brother, and I helped her stagger up the mountain to the spot where her parents are buried.

 

My brother and I wept that day, our hearts wrung with searing grief, when our dad told us she had come to say a final goodbye to her parents because she knew she would never be able to make it back up the mountain again.

As it turned out, that indomitable old woman was able to haul herself back up the mountain again under her own steam just a few years ago.

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But back then, on that terrible day on the mountainside with the chill shadow of death looming over us, we could never have imagined that we would one day stand next to her again at the gravesite years later. On that day my mother recognized the caretaker who was tending the graves. She summoned him over in her usual imperious fashion, all the more freighted by her deathly pallor. The man hustled over with a deferential air, and listened with a bowed head as she weakly gestured to a spot she had picked near her parents. She informed him in a barely audible, raspy voice that this was where she wished to be laid to rest. My father, brother and I stood there, a mute tableau of sorrow, with rivulets of burning tears trickling down our faces. I believe in a just God, because S/He meted out swift punishment to our mother for torturing us with her maudlin performance. After hearing her out, the man informed her that the mountain, (which her own father had bought), was reserved solely for members of the church he had founded, and therefore she was ineligible to be buried there.

In a final twist, later that day when my brother and I had caught our breaths after the repeated sucker punches to the gut, my dad privately complained to us that although my mother wanted to be buried with her parents, she should in fact be buried with his people, in the countryside far away from Seoul.

My siblings and I discussed this latest revelation amongst ourselves. We had always known that dying was our parents’ version of winning a trip to Disney Land, but until then – the idea of having to bury them had been purely notional. It was then that we realized we had no idea how to actually handle it. It’s not really the kind of casual conversation one wants to have, say, over Thanksgiving dinner. My parents cleared up all our doubts a couple years ago by announcing that they had purchased burial plots in Virginia. They handed each of their children identical envelopes containing maps to their adjacent plots and instructions for their funeral services, including the phone numbers for the ministers who had already agreed to officiate and instructions for how much to pay them. After a major freakout, my siblings and I finally settled down. Eventually, we even felt grateful that they had made their wishes so perfectly clear.

Our dad, who is usually fairly vague about pretty much everything else, spelled out with exacting specificity the kind of coffin he wanted: a plain, pine coffin with absolutely no decorative elements or adornments of any kind.

Thereby ensuring that everyone will think his children are a bunch of cheap $%^@s! my sister concluded.

*Korean women are required by law to get a short, homely perm (“pama”) the minute they turn 40.

Weekend Snapshots 56

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Friday

My daughter’s soccer team was playing in a pre-season tournament in Arlington this weekend. Serendipitously, The Wolves, a Pulitzer-nominated play about a girls’ high school travel soccer team, was having its final run this weekend at the Studio Theatre in DC. My sister got tickets for the three of us and we decided to tell my daughter only that she had a surprise in store.

I picked her up early from school on Friday to make sure we would beat the traffic and make it to DC on time. As we walked to the car, she asked, “So are you going to tell me now what the surprise is, or are you going to make me wait until we get there to find out?”

“You’re just going to have to wait till we get there,” I said, “But remind me…you’ve never had an allergic reaction to any anesthetics, right?”

She merely smirked and rolled her eyes at my clumsy attempt to throw her off the scent.

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It took me to Ruckersville to come up with a second gambit: “Hey! You really like organ meat, don’t you?”

“What’s organ meat?” she asked me, not even looking up as she tap tap tapped away on her phone.

“You know…like, intestines, brain, heart, liver, kidney…,” I said, forcing down the wicked laughter that was bubbling up inside me.

“I’d gladly try organ meat,” the little saucepot replied serenely, not even glancing up from her phone, “but I haven’t yet had the opportunity to eat it.”

DAMMIT!” I cursed inwardly, frustrated by the girl’s infernal insouciance.

I brooded over the problem all the way up Route 29 until we reached Culpeper, when a devious idea began to form in my brain.

“You did remember to bring a fancy dress and your nice shoes, right?” I casually asked.

My girl whose standard uniform consists of sweatpants and a t-shirt dropped her phone and whipped her head around to look at me with a horrified expression: “Wait, WHAT?!

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ah, sweet victory!

“OK, you really got me that time,” she said. We collapsed in a paroxysm of laughter, and I could finally relax for the rest of the trip!

Our first stop was the W Hotel and the POV rooftop lounge:

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Virgin Mojito!

Everything was delicious, but I’m going to dream about the Buñuelo Fritters for the rest of my life. They tasted like impossibly scrumptious, warm air.

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The pop up “Museum of Contemporary American Teenagers” at the Studio Theatre

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The play was amazing!

Saturday

The tournament didn’t begin until the late afternoon, so we had all morning to relax…

Grandpa & Grandma tested out the new leg massage contraption their favorite son sent them…

 

Lunch at Rice Paper, Grandma’s favorite Vietnamese restaurant in the Eden Center in Falls Church:

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My girl’s own cheering squad, including her grandparents, my sister, and my BFF, turned out in the bitter cold to root for her team…

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BRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

The girls advanced to the finals with two wins under their belts.

 

Sunday

Because of Daylight Savings, we woke up ten minutes before we had to leave for the first game of the day.

We raced out the door with my dad, who decided to play hooky from church to join us on the field. I can’t emphasize enough how exceedingly rare and hardly-to-be-believed-bordering-on-miraculous this was.

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This man skipped church, sat in the freezing cold, and used a porta potty. Now that‘s true love.

 

Good thing they won!

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Tournament Champs!

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