About Keri

Keri has been a member since May 17th 2013, and has created 229 posts from scratch.

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Seasons

I’ve had people tell me they couldn’t live in San Diego because we don’t have seasons. It’s true that our seasons are all fairly mild, but throughout the year we do see a change from my perfect temperature (77 degrees), to a little too hot or a little too cold. Occasionally (especially this past winter) it rains. It’s often cloudy at the beach. So despite what you see on TV, it’s not always perfect.

Kind of like the seasons of life. I’ve found myself comparing the two a lot this week, with the blooming of my favorite (So Cal) tree, the jacaranda. I remember May 2004 when I was finishing grad school in D.C. and coming to California, with the hopes of moving here. I landed in L.A. for work meetings, where I first discovered the jacaranda. I was staying in Pasadena, where they lined the streets. They weren’t quite cherry blossoms, but I found myself drawn to them. They were blooming at a time in my life that, like it was for the tree, seemed like a time of renewal. A time of opportunity and change and a fresh start.

Each May, these trees bloom in a season that for me, personally, has historically brought so much change. In 2006, I was planning my wedding. In 2008, Clay was born at their full peak. In 2010, as their flowers popped up, I was trying to keep my act together after giving birth to my second child and losing my dad in a two-week timespan. The next few years were a blur. But I always noticed the jacarandas as we spent time at parks and ball fields, in a different season of life. In 2013, on Clay’s birthday, I lost my job. More change. A few years passed, relatively uneventful. Now as I’m driving or walking past my favorite tree, it’s another season of change. Transitions at my day job. Huge growth in my business. Family health concerns. Unexpected challenges. Big kids.

Seasons are unpredictable. So is life. Sometimes it can be so good you’re pinching yourself thinking how lucky you are. And then quickly followed by one change that can literally send you to your knees, wondering what’s next.

So what does this season hold? I don’t know. It could be 60 and drizzly, like it is today. Or 80 and sunny like it’s supposed to be next week. It could be a day where everything in life seems perfect or a day that absolutely nothing goes right.

I do know one thing. Those jacarandas bloom every May, regardless of what’s going on in life. We can’t control the seasons. Or life. So enjoy those pretty purple flowers. It’s their season. And yours.

Halfway there

Today my munchkin is nine. At close to five feet tall, I guess he’s not really a munchkin anymore. The name fit better when he was a scrawny preemie, or even as a 1-year-old whose pants fell down because he was so skinny. Now he’s the biggest kid on his baseball team, even though he’s one of the youngest. When I look at him now, I don’t see a little boy. He’s a big kid.

I’m often reminded how quickly the time with our children goes by. People say it all the time, but I know now how true it is. The time you have with your kids is fast and fleeting. We’re halfway done. Nine years from now, Clay will have just made his final decision on where to attend college, and he’ll be planning that next step. Getting ready to leave me and Chase and Avery, to go onto his next adventure.

Until then, I’m soaking it all up. Every moment. When he grabs my hand walking through the Target parking lot. When I hear him say to his sister, completely out of the blue, “I love you, Avery.” When he tries to fit his huge body onto Chase’s lap at a party. When he comes home from school and immediately goes to hug the dog. When a friend makes a great play in a game, and he’s as excited for them as he would be if he made the play himself.

This kid. He’s so even-keeled, much like his dad. I know he gets disappointed and angry like all boys his age, but he (usually) handles it well. Also like his dad, he’s a good communicator. I hope this never changes. When that sweet boy is mad or sad, I hope he will always talk to us, the way he does now.

I hope he’ll always defend his sister. And continue to be nice to everyone. Not just his close group of friends, but all of the kids. I hope he’ll always be a good teammate. A strong leader, driven to do the right thing. I hope his favorite things will always be family vacations and a good meal together.

The funny thing about working with teenagers is that I watch some of them and think, “I want my kid to be like that kid.” And the beauty of this halfway point? I think Clay is well on his way.

Happy 9th birthday to my munchkin!

Lucky #7

I started this blog five years ago, on Avery’s second birthday. In many ways it feels like an eternity has passed. An eternity that’s gone by in a blink of an eye. For years I wrote regularly, but as life took its twists and turns, blog posts became less frequent. But I’ll never miss a birthday post. It’s the way I document my kids growing up. Celebrating the little people, who’ve become big people so quickly.

Today is lucky #7 for my Avery. Oh, Avery. She takes my breath away sometimes. Her beauty and independence. Her passion. I often just watch her, sometimes frustrated, but always proud. She’s a strong little girl. She never tires, she’s up for anything, at any time. She has so many interests I can hardly keep them straight – dancing, singing, painting, soccer, swimming, dolls and animals. Her “favorite thing” changes with the wind, with the exception of the stuffed sea turtle that she’s clung to tightly to since her brother picked him out for her first birthday (and this year, she finally stopped sucking her thumb when sleeping with “Turtle”).

She’s one of those kids who is good at most things she tries. The type of kid I envied when I was young, wondering why everything came so easily to them. Besides some natural athletic and vocal ability (which she did not get from me), the reason Avery is good at things is because she’s willing to try anything. She gives 100 percent to all that she does. She’s not worried about what others think. She puts her heart into everything. She wants to do well. Good things happen to her because of that positive energy and hard work. I can only hope that continues with age.

As much as she loves being active, she values relationships above all else. She’s a good friend and sister. She has many “best friends” and a “boyfriend” and more than once I’ve seen her come to their defense. Kids can be mean, so watch out if you’re mean to one of Avery’s friends. Her brother is her true best friend. They still share a bed and on most Saturday mornings, we wake up to find them cuddled together on the couch. Even if they’re watching different “shows,” they’re under a blanket on the same couch cushion. Messy hair and sleepy smiles. For each other and for us.

We’re in a hotel room in L.A., after a fun birthday celebration at the American Girl store yesterday. We’re taking off to Florida today for our first-ever spring break trip. Beach time and junk food and family and friends. What a great way to celebrate lucky #7, for our very special Avery Gracie. Happy birthday, baby girl. We love you.

 

Things we take for granted

img_7676I’m the first to admit, I’ve done my share of complaining the past couple of weeks. I got sick on what was supposed to be a fun business trip, I worked a really long week last week and now we’re living in a construction zone because of work we’re having done on our house. Like every fall, when things are NUTS at work and home, I’m tired. I’ve missed out on activities for my kids. But really, how much do I take for granted? A LOT.

So that work trip? It was in Las Vegas! I saw amazing friends and business partners. I attended fantastic business sessions put on by a company that I am proud to represent, knowing we are on our way to becoming a billion dollar brand. So what if I puked (repeatedly) in my lovely hotel room bathroom? I’m healthy now. Some are not so lucky.

And work. Nearly 30 hours over two days is a lot. But how many people would take my place in a heartbeat? How many families are struggling to pay the bills while I put on a cocktail dress and chat with fascinating alumni of the amazing school where I am fortunate to work? I followed that event up having drinks with wonderful colleagues before spending the night at my in-laws’ beach house, so I could get a good night’s sleep. Though exhuasting at times, it’s hardly a rough gig.

My house. It’s a mess because I’m getting new floors. Something I’ve wanted since we moved in six years ago! It took some time to pick up for the installers, and the dust in there will make it feel like we’ve moved to the desert, but it’s going to look amazing, and we are lucky to have a roof over our heads, in a great neighborhood, in America’s finest city.

Missed kids’ activities. I missed three weekends of sports. Military parents and those with other work commitments miss out on far more. Others are not healthy enough to attend their kids’ games. I’ll be fine – and so will my kids.

I’ve written about this before, but as we are in this crazy fall, coming upon a season of thanksgiving and gratitude, I needed to write to remind myself to not take all I have for granted. For those who are struggling, in any aspect of your life, know that I’m thinking of you. And for those of you who get overwhelmed like I do – even though deep down you know how lucky you are – I understand. Let’s get through this crazy season together!

You’re here – for once

FullSizeRenderThere is no greater range of emotions than those felt by parents on a daily basis. “I love her so much my heart could explode” can turn into “that child is a f-ing lunatic” in a matter of moments. Multiple times per day. Only someone you love this much could make a non-bipolar person feel both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

I had a work retreat yesterday, at a resort north of town. It was finished early, so I surprised the kids by picking them up right after school instead of from after-school care. I hid under a tree near Avery’s classroom, and her little face when she walked out and saw me could have lit up a room. She shrieked and jumped into my arms. We spun around and had a minute of pure bliss. I put her down for her to grab her backpack, and as we were walking away, she nonchalantly said, “You’re here – for once!”

FOR ONCE?!?

She might as well have punched me in the stomach. I wanted to respond, indignantly. I wanted to shout: “I pick you up at 4:00, it’s not like you’re here all night!” “I’m at every special event at school!” “I took a vacation day to dress up as the Statue of Liberty’s for your brother’s class!” “I took the job I have, so I could have flexibility for my kids.”

Coincidentally, “active listening” was the topic in our sessions that morning. So instead of responding, I bit my tongue.

The truth is, the school year for me is just as busy as it is for them. So it’s true – I’m rarely there at 2:30. She was just stating the obvious, not intending to hurt my feelings.

So while my initial reaction was sadness and feeling defensive, I had to remind myself that Avery doesn’t care how often I’m there right at 2:30. She knows I’m there when it matters. She knows I do work I love and when she grows up she will remember me, like Chelsea Clinton remembers Hillary, that “regardless of what was happening in her life, she was always there for me.”

I hope both of my kids find passion in their careers. I hope that passion is strong enough to keep Avery in the workforce, even when she has children (assuming that’s what she wants to do). I hope that when her daughter says something flippantly, in a moment of excitement, that she doesn’t take it too personally.

At the end of the day, I know she knows I’ll be there for her forever, not for once. Forever just might not start at 2:30 on weekdays.