Friday at 2:00 PM I sent my last work off and hell week ended. I don’t mean, the week from hell, I mean it was a week where a lot had to get done and the brunt of the burden rested on my shoulders. There was no other choice: To meet the commitments to authors and client projects– we had to push through.
Waiting in baggage claim on Thursday night I opened up Tripit, an iOS app I use to track all of my travel details. Here’s what it said.
While exhausted from being gone from July 5th through July 26th– 3 amazing trips covering thousands of miles and investing in incredible things— I got really excited about not going anywhere for the next 77 days.
Kristen and I met in late April of our freshmen year at Moody, 1995. We were eighteen years old. For our first date we got tricked into a blind date by a mutual friend. It was fun and awkward and a good story in itself.
Yet our relationship really started on our second date.
Our Happy Place
I should say, this is one of our happy places in San Diego. Next to spending Sunday at the beach, grabbing In-N-Out and enjoying the sunset at Sunset Cliffs Park in Point Loma is one of our favorite things to do.
Technically, we go to a seldom used green space on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University because there are only a few people and a large field for running around and playing. It’s a short half mile hike that we’ve done dozens of times and always ends with everyone smiling.
There’s just something about watching the sun disappear into the Pacific Ocean, running around in the big grass field, and walking back in the early dusk darkness that brings us all to a happy place.
What’s Your Happy Place?
Is there a place in your area that is your happy place? I don’t mean a place you go once a year on vacation. I mean a place you can go to regularly… a mini-retreat.
Jackson Turns Two Today
Here’s 10 things about our toddler that I wish I could bottle up and save forever.
Tammy is a rotten child. She’s all trick and no treat. She’s all spice and no sugar or things nice. She’s the kid who gives you the middle finger just because she has a middle finger to show you. When you cry, she laughs. When you are feeling down, she tells you why. And if there’s bad behavior to be found, she is behind it.
Tammy isn’t actually real. She’s a fable, an archetype, a legend, and a myth.
But Tammy is a part of our family. In that sense she is very real.
She comes up in conversation all the time. Paul will say, “I don’t want to eat breakfast– I just want to eat candy all the time.” And I’ll respond, “Well, we tried that with Tammy. You know how that turned out.” Or, when talking about behavior at school, we’ll talk about what kind of student Tammy was before she dropped out and took up a life of crime.
Sometimes we imagine what it’d be like if we were driving down the freeway and we saw her, picked her up, and brought her back into the family.
And Kristen and I have joked about how awesome it’d be to actually hire an actress to play Tammy, see her on the side of the road, and pick her up. Instantly, all of our kids would need therapy.
Fables are Powerful
I’m a little shy about saying that you need a Tammy in your house. I don’t know if your kids need an archetype of all things bad kid. She just kind of appeared one day as I was driving down the road and frustrated with some bratty car behavior.
But I do know that a good family fable is both powerful and functional. Tammy is part of what makes us McLane’s. She’s our inside joke and a full-fledged family member. At the same time the legend of Tammy is a great way to have an example of a bad kid in the house without it being an actual bad kid that you have to label.
Sure, she’ll come up in therapy later in life. Tammy will likely cost me tens of thousands of dollars in that regard. But, if that’s the worst thing about our parenting… I’ll take it.
Kristen and I met on a blind date when we were 18 years old. As Kristen likes to point out, it was memorable for her but not-so-much for me as I didn’t even recognize her the next day in the dining hall.
For me, it wasn’t that the date was insignificant at all. We had a really great time! But I had a lot on my mind, too. We were college freshmen and it was just a couple weeks before finals. Besides taking a full load of classes I was holding down 2 part-time jobs so I could stay in school and, of course, I was pretty involved in dorm life. Neither one of us were super into dating anyone at the time. I’d dated a lot and was kind of over the Moody scene, and Kristen had never been on a date at all. (She was vice-president of Maidens to the Millennium, a group of women whom are all happily married now!)
Kristen and I fell in love over the next few weeks and the summer after that. Lots of walks, getting lost on the L, lots of long distance phone calls, and some random scary trips to meet family.
26 months later we got married and have lived happily, ever after.
We’re 36 years old now. That was literally half a lifetime ago.
Kristen and I are still on that blind date.
Most nights these days we take our third child, Jackson (19 months) and Stoney (our dog) for an evening walk. As the afternoon heat gives way to the evening ocean breezes we walk, talk, flirt, and stroll. If we’re honest its about presence with one another more than anything else. And all these years later going for a walk with Kristen is just as fun as it was the very first time I met her, when we walked from Moody, down Chicago Avenue to Michigan Avenue… and later down Michigan Avenue to the river, cutting over to Clark to have a coffee in the lobby of a fancy hotel.
If we’re honest, while our bodies and feet are walking all over Rolando our minds and memories are remembering long walks along the lake as far north and as far south as we could go, Sunday strolls all over the near north neighborhoods that started before dinner and had us running back to make curfew, Saturday dates walking down to Grant Park or through Lincoln Park, and all of the dreams we shared while pushing Megan in a stroller all over Oak Park and River Forest about what the next phase of life would be like after college.
So, for the pessimists, blind dates aren’t all bad. Sometimes they lead you on a million miles of walks with your forever best friend.
In the book of Genesis there are a lot of footnotes about people’s names. Some names refer to a character attribute while others refer to a physical attribute.
If we were to name Paul by such an attribute, one name might be: We laughed when you were born.
9 years ago today, Kristen checked into a hospital in Mt. Clemens (MI) to give birth to our second child. Since Megan was a big baby and her pregnancy with Paul had tracked pretty large all the way along Paul’s delivery was scheduled for induction on his due date. As the day progressed everyone kept bringing up the fact that Paul was a big baby.
When I think back to my son being born I just remember the joy in the room. Obviously, Kristen was very uncomfortable. But thanks to the drugs her pain didn’t sour her mood. Kristen and I were excited to meet Paul and the nurses and doctor picked up on our sense of humor/willingness to laugh. As labor progressed there were a lot of jokes told and laughing. Just like on a middle school camping trip… the mood had become slap happy! At a key time, just moments before Paul was born, a tiny heart monitor slipped off of his scalp and whacked the doctor right between the eyes! It was so gross, weird, and unexpected that it just sent us all over the edge. The room echoed with laughter as we all giggled at what happened.
And then Paul was born. We smiled, we wiped tears from our eyes, and we all just stared at this beautiful baby. And at 9 pounds 2 ounces— a big baby, too!
Paul turns 9 today. I’m positive he doesn’t want me to dwell on the moment he was born. (“Um, that’s weird dad! And kind of gross if you think about it.“) Yet, that sense of joy and fun that brought Paul into the world continues. Paul loves to have fun. He loves to giggle. He loves to tell jokes. In every way his birth was a precursor to his personality.
The past year has been one of tremendous growth for Paul. He’s overcome a lot of fears and dealt with a lot of things holding him back. I know it’s the right thing to say… “I’m excited for Paul for the next year.” But I really mean it. The past year was one of such tremendous growth and he’s in such a healthy place… his 9th year is set up to be truly fantastic.
So, I can’t wait to celebrate with him this week. On Saturday, we’re hosting a bunch of his friends for an afternoon of Laser Tag and lunch at In-N-Out. Dang, I want to be 9 again!