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Thoughts on ordinary and not so ordinary adventures in the life of one Mom

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Venturing into Unknown Territory

This Father's Day,  I'm reminded of one of the bravest things I've ever done in my life.  For many people, the simple act of saying "I love you" comes naturally.  It's easy for them to tell those they care about these three little words, but it's not easy for me.   I was always comfortable saying "I Love you" to my kids and niece, my Mom and siblings, and my husband, but no one else, including my father.  

Growing up, I never heard those three little words from my Dad's lips and I took his lead, never telling him "I love you" either.   The sentiment was there, but it was silently shared between us.  My mom always assured my siblings and I that he loved us and we all knew this was true.  But, about 10 years ago, probably influenced by the age of self help books and Oprah,  I decided it was time to actually come out and say "I love You" 

Sometimes words are not necessary

One evening, after a lengthy conversation with my Mom, she put my Dad on the phone so that we could have our usual 2 minute conversation.  The chat was always the same and one I could have with almost any acquaintance.   This evening, though, was different, because I had  decided I was actually going to end the conversation with three words he had never heard me say.

Not knowing what to expect, I nervously said "I love you" when were about to end our conversation.  He was obviously taken by surprise because there was silence.  I didn't know if I would get an "I love you " back and I half expected to hear "very good", my dad's go-to response for nearly every statement.  When he started to respond, his already shaky voice cracked a little more than usual as he said "I love you, Aida".   I was happy to hear it, but even more, relieved that we could break the silence for the the rest of our lives together which I hoped would be a very long time.

Nowadays, saying "I love you"  comes naturally between us.  However, venturing into unknown emotional territory remains a challenge for me.   When I am afraid to open up, I often look back about ten years to when my father let me know that it's ok for me to take the lead once in a while.  He inspired me to be brave and that's what Fathers do best.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


We put our baby on a plane to Fairbanks, Alaska a few days ago.   He was with his grandparents and, at 12 years old, he's not exactly a baby anymore.  This takes me back to the last time we were in Fairbanks, when Joseph actually was a baby.  It's not easy traveling with a baby, but we have always felt that, even though they may not remember the specific experiences, traveling will foster a love of exploration in kids.  I remember a friend of the family imploring us not to take an 18 month old to such a cold place.  Apparently, she didn't know that there were already babies in Alaska and they use these things called coats to keep warm.

March in Fairbanks is colder than the worst January anywhere else in the US.  While we were there, we experienced -20 degree temperatures.  With that, though, came the opportunity of seeing the greatest light show on earth, the Auora Boreialis, or Northern Lights.  It was incredible to step outside in the middle of the night and see shimmering green curtains grace the sky.  It was a once in a  lifetime experience.

Fairbanks in March, also hosts the International Ice Art Festival which brings teams from around the world to compete in an incredible showcase of artistic talent, sculpting huge blocks of ice into grand works of art.  Multi-block sculptures are often two stories high and comprised of more than 46,000 pounds of ice.  We had a wonderful time walking amongst the elaborate sculptures and visiting the Kids Park with its ice slides and playhouses.  I'd love to go back!

One of the mulit-block sculptures from Ice Art 2000

Unfortunately, this 22 year old Fairbanks tradition may soon go by the wayside.  The Fairbanks North Star Borough needs to secure the  30+ acres known as "Ice Park".  If the Alaska State Legislature votes against this transfer, Ice Art in the US may be a thing of the past and Fairbanks will suffer a devastating cultural and financial loss.  Our children may not get to experience a true winter wonderland filled with whimsical works of art as big as houses.  For more information, visit http://www.icealaska.com/.

Right now, my son is experiencing the wonders that an Alaskan summer offers:  warmer temperatures great for hiking countless mountains and long days perfect for wildlife exploration.  While he has always been proud of the fact that he had been to Alaska as a baby, I am so glad that he will actually remember this trip.  He will have his own reflections of this travel experience and won't have to rely on our stories and pictures.  Now, at 12, he can make his own memories and tell his own stories of exploration.  This is what we have always wanted for our baby.