A Perfectly Ordinary Moment With My Extraordinary Kid

They sneak up on you, these perfectly ordinary things, but when the light catches them the right way they pierce your heart and you remember them forever. Perfect moments.

One of these was so simple that it seems too obvious a story to tell, but I will never forget it. Of course it’s about one of my children, and the way the love hit me so hard I felt a physical reaction. But it wasn’t a moment of danger or strife, it was just the pure personality of my child shining on a regular day.

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I came upon Brady, who was 4 years old, playing quietly by himself with LEGO guys in a corner of the house.  He sat on the floor, acting out a scene with minifigures, reciting their lines for them, helping them move and fight. He has an excess of this skill of imaginary play, animating the most mundane of objects: a bolt, a plastic bottle cap, a pen. They experience epic adventures when he controls them.

I watched him from beyond the doorway, my insides twisting.  I savored his golden curls, his still-baby voice, his chubby fingers. After a moment I realized I wasn’t breathing, as if by not moving a muscle I was hitting “pause” on some cosmic remote that would stop time for the rest of the world.

My husband was about to take him to preschool.  But I’ve got to keep this, I thought – the boy, the toys, the russet-colored faux wood floor, my happiness.

In the busy mess of raising two little boys I forget to pay attention to these perfect moments. They happen all the time but I don’t pause to appreciate them. And then the stars align again like the did that day – a little boy, some LEGOs, and make-believe. The realization comes upon me like it’s whacking me in the face with a pillow: remember?  These moments exist and you have to hold on to them even after they have passed.  Otherwise, who are you?

As I watched my little boy fly his guy through the air I began to feel panicky, like this happiness was a fleeting thing, an oily vapor rising from the asphalt in the heat of a summer day.  I had to catch it, to capture it.  I grabbed my phone and snapped a photo, and exhaled, finally, with relief.

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Perfect moment. Captured.

And just in time. My older son, home from school with the flu, called to me from upstairs.  My husband breezed into the room, it’s time to go to school now, Buddy.  The baby looked up, took his LEGO guy, and followed his father out the door, yelling his goodbye at me as he passed.

He is seven now, with missing teeth and more freckles. He is different from that 4-year-old I wanted to hold in my arms forever, and yet the same. I sometimes cry a little, alone, for the babies my boys once were. I miss them. I wish I could hold their fat little baby bodies again, maybe just for a day, and then magically turn them back into who they are now.

And this is what I remind myself, every time he drives me crazy with his stubborn refusal to conform, with his dirty, noisy, boy-ness. He won’t be this boy forever, no matter what age he is. So I have to pay attention to him now.

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Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford (which has been the top-ranked children’s hospital in Northern California for over a decade) want to help celebrate our extraordinary kids with this tool to make a personalized video. Here’s mine. It’s just a few words and a few pictures but man, I cried when I clicked “preview video”: Brady, the extraordinary kid.

Your kid, and every kid, is extraordinary. Celebrate your extraordinary kid. Show him how much you enjoy every moment together by creating a special video of your own!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

The Vacation Will Not Be Hashtagged

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At the beginning of June I decided to scale down my use of social media. It was a move I had been contemplating for the summer, and the first of the month seemed like a good clean place to start. I committed to only checking Facebook twice a day, instead of leaving it up on my computer while I am working, using it like a virtual office lounge to connect with other humans. Working at home, alone, can get kind of boring. Not that I am complaining. I set my life up like this for a reason (two actually) and I love it, but yes, when my mind wanders or I need a little break, I’ll click over to Facebook to see who’s hanging out in the lounge and what they had for lunch.

But lately I noticed that I’d scroll through and see how many likes their photos were getting, or whose post went semi-viral and got picked up by one of the big “curator” sites, or which family got a press trip to an exotic location, kids and all, and I’d get jealous.

Yeah, I said it. Jealous.

I’m as susceptible as the next guy to the “your life looks better than mine” syndrome. Maybe more so. Who knows? The bottom line is that I would spend 10 to 15 minutes fussing over being left out of something or coveting my neighbor’s goods, and that was happening several times a day. I’m not proud of it. In fact, it makes me feel a little sick.

I also noticed that when I am busy living life away from the computer and I’m not checking all the social media, I’m a lot happier. A lot more content.

So on June 1st I posted on Facebook that I’d only be checking in twice a day until June 13, and after that only for work. Apparently others have posted similar notices, because very shortly afterward, one of my friends posted that she would NOT be taking a social media break for the summer, and made fun of those of us who are.

I get it. It’s annoying when people shout “I am leaving you, Internet!” and flounce off, only to be posting stuff again ten minutes later. I’ve seen it happen.

I was actually just going to slink away quietly. I mean, who cares, really? Nobody hangs on my every update or photo. The people who need to reach me can reach me. I’m very Google-able. But increasingly, friends and colleagues reach out to me on Facebook, either with public comments or using personal messages the same way they would once use email. I felt it was polite of me to say “Hey, I’m not ignoring you, I’m just not on Facebook.” I didn’t make similar announcements on the other channels, just Facebook, where I was hanging out far too much.

And then I went camping.We spent a week at a site across from the beach in Malibu, where cell phone reception and/or wifi was spotty or non-existent.

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We played at the beach.

IMG_3277We made epic meals in Mike’s Dutch oven.

IMG_3282…and on the griddle.

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I made them all come on a geocaching hike with me.

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I think they agree that it was worth it.

I only posted one photo to Instagram (which pushes to Facebook and Twitter) the entire week and it was this one:

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He lost his front tooth, finally. I couldn’t resist sharing.

We got back today, and between a nice hot shower and the hours of gear cleaning and sorting I have ahead of me, I did check in on Facebook, making sure my client’s page is updated and the scheduled posts went up.

And sure enough there were personal messages waiting for me, nothing urgent, but still. And sure enough I scrolled through and saw how awesome everyone’s lives are, or how some have posted the weirdest esoteric thoughts, and I know that I have been guilty of both things – posting my randomest thoughts and only the best photos.

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Beach selfie! Of course.

A week away wasn’t enough. I definitely need a break to refocus on just living, you know, the way people used to, without selfies, without hashtags (when did people start hashtagging their babies?!), without the constant need to document and broadcast. I love the community, and I learn from it every day, but sometimes too much of a good thing is just too much.

I suppose you could say that blogging about my life is the same, but I would argue that blogging at least takes a little bit of processing and for me, solid writing. Over its ten years, this blog has become a place where I can document highlights of what’s happening in my life, not every little blip on my timeline.

IMG_3270Kyle playing analog games with his friend-since-birth and little sister? Definitely a highlight.

So maybe I’ll blog more this summer, maybe not. But I will definitely be social media-ing less, and hopefully I’ll return to my world inside the computer (and iPad and phone) by fall with a renewed spirit of sharing and learning and celebrating my friends and colleagues and their #awesomelives and #weirdinnermostthoughts.

Until then, see you in real life.

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Gone camping.

(And on #fabchat once a week, because work.)

Climb Out of Darkness – Postpartum Depression Fundraiser

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I like to hike. It’s my favorite form of exercise – not too bouncy, not too repetitive, and it gets me outside in nature. Well, some trails in the Los Angeles area are sort of nature-adjacent but you have to listen to the sounds of leaf blowers and people and trucks and stuff. But still, there are leaves and trees and the occasional squirrel.

There is a hike planned for the most famous and urban of trails in Los Angeles – Runyon Canyon, trail of the stars – on Saturday, June 21. A group of Los Angeles people is hiking this trail and raising money for women who suffer from postpartum depression. The movement is called Climb Out of Darkness and is organized by Postpartum Progress, a website devoted to the cause. #TeamLA is raising money with a super cool raffle organized by Morgan Shanahan, who publishes The 818 – please click here to donate and enter to win prizes of your choice, including tickets to a Thirty Seconds To Mars concert! Donate to any of the team members to enter. I am not officially listed on there because I couldn’t get my act together, but I will be hiking with the ladies (and possibly dragging my kids along, too) to support the effort in my own way.

The Doctor Is In…Your Computer – LiveHealth Online Makes Housecalls

The future is now and it is in the form of video-conferencing with a doctor, courtesy of LiveHealth Online.

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The computer doctor is perfect for this family

One recent morning I woke up with my left eye sealed shut. “Oh no,” I thought. “Pink eye.”

Cue the bells of doom. I had a meeting with a group of moms that morning, and then after that a meeting at my kids’ school, not to mention I am the matriarch of this household and thus I touch all of the things and the people and what if I was sending them out into the world as pink eye carriers? Yes, I worried for the rest of my community as well as my own self. I am altruistic that way. Also I didn’t want everyone to be mad that I infected the school with pinkeye.

I considered my options. Call my doctor and try to get in ASAP, no guarantee there. Weasel my way into the pediatrician’s office, which I’ve always considered trying but never had the guts. Use the clinic at the local drugstore. Assume it was pinkeye and just cancel everything.

Or…

I had been learning about LiveHealth Online, a new app that offers a safe, fast and easy way for people to talk face to face with a doctor. You can get a diagnosis and treatment for yourself and your family for urgent care conditions that pop up every summer, like hand­-foot­-mouth, pinkeye, rashes, sunburns, and other air ­and ­water borne viruses. LiveHealth Online is a cost­-effective alternative to urgent care or retail clinics and costs $49 for an urgent care visit. As an Anthem Blue Cross member, virtual visits through LiveHealth Online are actually covered for me!

Wait all day while fussing with a partially sealed eyeball? Or try this out? What would you pick?

Well, I tried it and I am a happy satisfied user now.

It was easy to find the app on iTunes for my iPad (and it is also available for use on your computer at LiveHealthOnline.com or through Google Play). I installed, went through the signup process quickly, and in no time at all I was waiting for the doctor to join me.

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Here’s me, wondering how this could be so easy.

And poof! There she was! Dr. Nicole Boxer examined me from her office in Minnesota. She asked me several questions about allergies and environmental stuff, if I was exposed to pinkeye that I knew of, etc. Then she actually examined my eyeball by having me hold the iPad camera up to my eye as I looked left, right, up, and down.

I couldn’t get over the whole “press this button and a doctor will show up and deal with you” magic of it all. If I did have pinkeye, the doctor could have ordered a prescription for me, sent right to my preferred local pharmacy. No waiting, no traffic, no getting dressed and leaving the house, even. (Well, unless I had to get the meds.)

Dr. Boxer was accustomed to working this way, and she was patient as I asked her a few questions. She even gave me permission to take a picture. Here’s what it looks like when you visit with a doctor using LiveHealth Online:

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Luckily, I did NOT have pinkeye. The doctor said with the recent fires and dry weather, my eyeball was flushing out a foreign object, and that is why it was so goopy and dry the previous night. She suggested I put a hot moist cloth on it and then if it didn’t get better to either come back to LiveHealth or see my regular doctor.

The peace of mind I received from knowing I didn’t have pinkeye was well worth the copay. And actually the first visit to LiveHealth Online was free, and it is for you too: use the code LHOHouseofPrinceVisit when you register to see a doctor and there is no charge! I encourage you to try it, because this service will come in handy when you are traveling on family vacations this summer. You can use LiveHealth Online 24/7, 365 days a year to talk securely and privately by two­-way video chat with a U.S­.-based, board-certified primary care doctor. That is the height of convenience! Please do take advantage of the free code, which is valid now through October 31, 2014, and let me know what your experience is like!

I am participating in a campaign sponsored by LiveHealth Online to spread the word about this app. It is worth noting that I was excited to learn about it because I used to text photos of my children’s skin rashes to my late best friend who was a pediatrician, begging for a diagnosis, long before I had FaceTime. Also I used to rage at the inconvenience of driving out to the doctor’s office every time I turned around because of having two germy little boys, yelling “There should be video chat with doctors!” So, basically LiveHealth Online was listening when I said “Computer, make it so.”