Monday, January 19, 2015

Nick

I found out today, quite by accident, that an old friend passed away. I have been scouring my photos all day, searching for a picture I had of him from several years ago, playing chess with Naters.

I worked in a coffee shop up the street from the monkey's school, right after my divorce. Naters would come to the coffee shop with me at the crack of dawn, and drink hot chocolate while I worked. He was always shy, but slowly got to know all of the regulars who would congregate at the Speedtrap.

And then one day, Nick walked in. Nick was a big bear. No idea how tall Nick was, but he had to have been at least 6'5" or so. A barrel chested big man with a big beard, crazy hair sticking up in every direction, and a booming voice. Nick was a walking example of intimidation, at first glance. When Nick and Tammy walked in that first morning, he walked over to Nate's little corner of the coffeebar. Nate always had a book or two, coloring sheets, and either Mancala or Checkers to amuse himself while I worked. Nick walked right up to him, asked him if he knew how to play chess. I remember Nate being absolutely speechless that this big bear was speaking to him,  and just shaking his head. Nick walked over to a bookshelf, pulled chess pieces down and started to teach Nate chess. I think Nate was so in awe of Nick that he could not even refuse the lesson.

My monkey, before Nick introduced him to chess
Nick continued to teach Nate chess, playing with him several days a week, beating him, letting him win, teaching him strategies. He'd sometimes just play a couple of minutes, if he and Tammy were in a hurry. Other times, he'd play a long game until Nate had to walk to school.  Everyone knew that when Nate needed to walk to school, the coffee and lattes and food had to wait. I would walk him from the coffeeshop across the street and a few feet up, so I could watch him walk into the schoolyard. Over time, Nate and Nick would get so into chess and strategy, that Nick would just walk him across for me, so that Nate could get two or three minutes more of chess. I remember that like yesterday, watching Big Nick and my little bitty Nate walk out of the shop, talking animatedly about the game.

Tammi and Nick bought Nate a chess board for Christmas that year. His very own, solid wood, hand-carved pieces. We still play with that board, six years later. Nate has been given lots of other chess sets, but that is the one that matters. And he learned well from Nick. I manage to beat him every few months, maybe force a stalemate every few weeks.

First chess tourney, Second place in district.
We lost touch with Nick and Tammi as I moved on to a real j-o-b, but I will never forget what a sweet and gentle giant he was with my monkey. Nick taught Nate to be wicked good at chess, but he also taught him that friendship can come from the most unexpected places.

Rest in peace,  Nick Kapusta.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015!!

No resolutions. Nope. Not setting myself up for failure. In fact, to avoid resolutions, I put a spoonful of raw sugar and cream in my caffeine this morning. I also checked my email, looked at FB, and intentionally forgot to start training for a marathon.

NO resolutions. But superstitions? Yeah. Guilty. Eat yo' black-eyed peas!!


Less resolution-ing. More being intentional and authentic. More neighbor-ing (and thanks to jenhatmaker.com for the term neighbor-ing, I think it is my new favorite word :)). More celebrations filled with lovies and chaos. Less 'lose the last ten pounds' and more running because I love the way my lungs and hamstrings burn. Less regretting the past and more looking forward to the future.  Less frantic busy-ness and more being present. More petting dogs and playing chess and laughing. Less counting calories/paleo/cleanses and more putting love into cooking and savoring every bite. And more loving the people I love as much as I can, and letting them know it every chance I get.

Cucumberspinachgingerapplelemon juice, intentional and delish.
So, no resolutions. Just words. Being intentional and authentic. I often quote Dr. Seuss to my monkeys, telling them to "be the you-est you that you can be" and I think that is a great one to remember in 2015.

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive is who is you-er than you."

Peace and love, authenticity and being the you-est You, cupcakes. XOXO




Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Twenty Five Days

Hello, friends!

Long time, no see! I've missed this place, and all of the blogs that I stalk. Err, follow. I've been away from the intertubes a lot because I have been busy living. Funny how that living thing works.

Anyhoo, the entire month of November sailed by, and we have landed smack dab in December. Normally, I would start to freak out and be trying to make everything perfect-ish. I would be making lists of exactly what gifts to buy for the monkeys, what to do for everyone else, how I could jam more decorations in nooks and crannies, and pretty much being unpleasant in my attempt to make things pleasant.

Not this year. No freaking out. No stressing. And absolutely no unpleasantness. I worked too hard to get rid of all of the unpleasantness in my life to let anything that feels like that come creeping back in with the tinsel.

Sooooo, instead of getting all of the gimmes that go along with the season, the monkeys and I are trying something different. We are spending twenty-five days giving. Twenty-five days of random acts of kindness. A random act might be paying it forward for a coffee at the coffee shop or making cupcakes for an Advent Festival or leaving a gift on a neighbor's porch. We have definitely been blessed in so many ways, and we are concentrating on trying to give that back instead of making a long list of 'wants'.

It's like Flat Stanley. With Teeth.
Oh, and this happened. No explanations, except I think this fifty dollar Crocodile head, bought on the side of a Louisiana highway, may be the weirdest and coolest thing I have ever laid eyes. That being said, one of the random acts of kindness may be gifting him to someone else...


Peace and love and kindness and crocodiles, cupcakes. XOXO


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

True Achievement, Part Two...

My favorite face in the universe. Shhh. Don't tell her. 

I bragged on the boy monkey yesterday, and alluded to bragging on the girl monkey, but not enough.

She rocks. She has been through hell, twice for good measure, and she is still standing. She's also one of the funniest and wisest people I have ever known. She is wiser than any adult I know, and I would probably have been a helluva lot better off if I had started listening to her advice a couple of years ago. Her one-liners can make my jaw drop, and I am pretty sure she could be famous for her stream of consciousness speeches if she was the type to put 'em on youtube. She can be at the doctor getting a gallon of blood drawn, and she gets the nurse to open up and talk about herself. She knows the grocery store cashier and what he sells at his Etsy store. She searches out the new or lonely kid and lifts them up.

Today was epic amounts of suckage, to the point that it got funny around lunchtime. Two dogs ran away, I found a black widow THIS close to my head on the ceiling, my phone died a majestic and sudden death, and all three dogs required a vet appointment. Before ten this morning. And this is just the stuff I can share on the World Wide Web, because I am learning boundaries...

When I left after work to deal with some of the above trauma, I think she saw the copious amounts of suckage that was my Tuesday. My monkey cleaned her room, cleaned the kitchen, made gluten free cookies, went to our local bbq place and bought me dinner, and dealt with the various mammals. She then helped me program my new iPhone because I have never owned one.

My first iPhone photo. He looks guilty and expensive, yes?


Just had to note that I am raising two awesome and amazing people. I am putting people out there who make the world a better place, and definitely a sweeter place. I think they have absorbed my mantra and effort to be the light.

Peace and love and cookies and grace. XOXO

True Achievement

Even when you have a good kid, an unexpected email from a teacher can tie your stomach up in knots. I received an email this afternoon with the monkey's name as the subject.

I know he is a good kid. He is in sixth grade, doing eighth grade algebra only because I refuse to have him doing ninth grade algebra this fall, breaking records on his state test scores, getting second in his age group in 5ks, but when I saw his name on an email, I instantly starting thinking about how to properly word an apology.

Nope. She dropped a beaker in science class and it shattered. She said every other kid yelled or said "What was that?!" or the equivalent. Again, I was still in apology mode, thinking the kid must have yelled out "WTF" or "Damnations" or anything else that he might have heard from his sister or me.

Instead, she wanted me to know that he was the only kid to come over and ask if she was okay.  She wanted me to know that I am raising a good kid. I know that I have amazing monkeys, but so good to know that other people recognize this.

There is so much emphasis on achievement and accomplishments in our world. I know, because I can easily fall into it. Nothing makes me happier than when I pass someone while running, even if my lungs threaten to stage a mutiny with the effort. The weekly email that lets me know how I am performing at work compared to my peers, it sets my mood for the week.

Honestly, though, there are lots of douchebags that are high-achieving. I know kids who outperform everyone around them, who are wickedly unpleasant to be around. I know adults who are hyper-overachievers who are straight up Mean Girls, male and female. But, good people, really good people with warm hearts and well-developed empathy, they are a rare gift.



I have two smart and talented kids. They are wickedly funny, to the point that I sometimes think that we could be our own sitcom. Today was a really important reminder that I am also raising good people. I think this is more important than raising Valedictorians or overachievers. Those titles are awesome, but I love having the kids who check on their teachers and who make every person that they come into contact with feel better for it. That is the highest achievement and accolade I can ever wish for my monkeys.

Peace and love and warm hearts and the occasional "Damnation", buttercups. XOXO

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sometimes it snows.

I got to catch up with two of my favorite people tonight. Not Facebook or social media people at all so they will never see this, but they are the kind of people I can sit on a patio with  or in front of a fire with and not realize that three hours have flown by.

We were talking about the recent red light days, and Dave gave me a deep thought for the day.

"Sometimes it snows in Denver."

...and sometimes it snows in the summertime.


At first, I didn't really get it. And then I suddenly did. I hate the snow. Snow in March, April, and May just makes me weepy or stabby. But here I am. And sometimes it does indeed snow. It happens, without fail. And it passes, without fail.

The red lights will turn. The snow will give way to blades of green. Life is good. Or, as Dave puts it, life is "wonderful, wonderful, wonderful."

There's the lesson I learned today. Sometimes it snows in Denver. Oh, and he also told me to quit dating assholes. Told me life would be more wonderful if I would pick better. Suggested maybe I make anyone after my self-imposed dating hiatus pass the test with him and with Superteen.

Two life lessons in one day. My job here is done.

Peace and love and snow and thaws, cupcakes. XOXO

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Party Tip

We are all going to die, buttercups. Whether it's from Ebola or an attack or seventy-four years of shitty eating or pickling our livers with liquor or a bad genetic hand we are dealt. We are all gonna die.

So quit watching the news. Quit worrying about the stuff that you have no control over.



I get it. I am tempted to go all in with the news. I am tempted to read a variety of sources to keep up with the latest threats from an incompetent response by our own government to crazy French Jewish girls trying to join ISIS. However, my reading and obsessing about all of the threats is not going to save me or my loves from any of the dangers.  It's not going to save you or your loved ones either.



So, go enjoy this day. Get outside and feel the leaves crunch beneath your feet. Walk your dogs and watch how joyful they are to be alive. Call a friend and have a glass or three of wine. Play hooky and take your monkey to a movie, ordering popcorn with extra butter. Sing along badly to the radio. Enjoy all of the everyday moments, because we only get so many of them.

Peace and love and presence and crunchy leaves, loves. XOXO

PS, It's Breast Cancer Awareness month. Feel yo'boobies because that is one thing we can try to avoid dying from. Trust me on this.