My Parents’ New Home in the Desert

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I stole myself away from my busy life and trekked out to the desert to visit my parents and help them unpack their new home in the desert this last week. I really wish I could spend more time out there because it is sooooo awesome! I’m seriously considering retiring out there myself if I don’t pull off the cottage on the beach dream. It’s just desert and rocky hills and cacti and big skies as far as you can see.  And it’s so peaceful! I kept asking my mom if she wanted to turn on a radio or something because the quiet was almost unreal.

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But we didn’t. We kept it quiet except for our chatter as we unpacked. We worked and worked and worked at finding places for a lifetime of treasure-hunting. My mom has so many treasures! It is very, very, very hard to get rid of them for so many reasons. Each thing has a story or a special person they were picked out for. It breaks my heart when she tells me she’s saving this or that for this granddaughter or that, knowing that this or that granddaughter also has a busy life and no room for more “stuff.” It’s just sad because the stuff is so special!

Hoarding (and I say that affectionately. My mom is not as bad as some.) is such a difficult terrain for everyone to maneuver. Both my mom and I have felt deprived of things in our lives so we hold onto “stuff” so closely because we think someday in the future we might need them. It’s a psychological mine field. I inherited the gene too. I love a good treasure hunt through a thrift store but my house is getting more and more cluttered and I don’t want to end up with so many things I have no where to put them. I’ve often pondered getting a storage unit to let my hobby continue but I know it would be a bad idea. If only my mom and I could just open a store!

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This is just a fraction of the many many treasures. A fraction! And that’s not even counting the hundreds of trips they took to the dump and the goodwill. So many treasures. I am proud of my mom though. She has done the work. She has let go of soooo much and it has been hard. I’m really proud of her that she can navigate such a big change so late in her life. It is not easy. I cannot ever accuse my parents of being lazy. They are not.

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Somewhere underneath the layers of unpacked clutter you can see the bones of a really cute house. I love their new house! It has a lot of light and quirky colors on the wall. You don’t feel like it’s a mobile home at all, which I love.  It looks a lot better than this but my mom and I worked deep into the night and I stopped taking pictures because the light was bad.

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I will say this: Home is where the cats are. My mom’s cats have seemed to take in the new home with no problems. All five of them! (I have her sixth at my house: Kady.) They are not allowed outside which is a big change because they are used to roaming a half acre at their old place. But their new place is so close to the hills in prime coyote territory so they are staying inside. My dad plans to built an elaborate cattery outside for them and rest assured, I will definitely try to be part of that project. How fun, right?

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I wished I could have stayed longer and helped him get started on it but there was just too much to do AND too much for me to do back home (which is why I’m so late on this post). I’ll try to get out there again soon and maybe take the girls because I know they’ll want to explore the desert.

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My dad and I took a walk the next morning and checked out the scenery. It’s so pretty. I’ve always been a desert girl so this open space and desert fauna makes my heart sing.

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Look at that mist coming over the mountain. Isn’t it pretty?  It is really hot out there but they get a really strong wind that whips up around 3pm every day that cools the valley. Then the mornings are cool also. I am curious to see how cold it gets in the winter.

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I just love these plants. I know lots of people like lush gardens with neat and tidy rows of flowers. I am not one of those people. Give me some prickly cacti and some sage and I am happy as a lizard on a warm rock.

I look forward to many more happy visits!

Sixth Grade Graduation Feels

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I’ve read a few posts about how silly it is that we make such a big hullabaloo about 6th grade graduation here in the United States.  If I was heading out of town the minute school was over and starting my vacation (or even a week before because let’s face it, the last week of school is pretty much a five week party disguised as free day care) I’d probably agree that it’s a big deal about nothing.  It’s not like they don’t let kids move on to seventh grade. Everybody passes even if you get straight “F’s”. But we didn’t have any big summer plans and I love any excuse to celebrate it so I was into it.

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Bug was not it at all. She didn’t even want us to come. She didn’t wanted any flowers or balloons or any fanfare at all. I tried to interview her on the morning of graduation. I asked her if she had any advice for her younger self and if there was anything she’d miss about elementary school. Her straight-faced answer was pretty much as few words as possible. I’m sure mostly just to spite me. It was pretty much: I don’t care.  I don’t care now, I won’t care then and I have nothing to say to my younger self.

Okay then!

But I ignored her and made a big deal out of it anyway because I knew someday she would care. I invited my parents from out of town and everybody showed up. It was a big deal.

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So no flowers and no balloons, right? How about a puppy? Just kidding. We didn’t get Bug a puppy. My friend Sandra showed up with her puppy (Look at that thing!!! It’s like a beanie baby collectible!) and Bug said,  Is that for me? Did you get me a puppy for graduation? I wish. I think a puppy is all she could get excited about for graduation. Too bad we already have two and we can’t really take on any more.

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Everybody was there. Joon, who is a grade behind Bug, worked the event as staff. I guess that’s what fifth graders do. They help people find their seats, hand out programs and then sit along side in their own section cheering on each graduate as they cross the stage and receive their fake diploma. It was really sweet. Some kids get more cheers than others so you know I was going bananas and making a fool of myself when they called Bug’s name. I love that kid.

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And so does everybody else. She didn’t want her picture taken but we forced her. She did want a picture taken with her teacher which was a huge big honor (pictured in the blue sweater). I really loved her teacher this year.

This was the first time Bug has been in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class. Our school is known for their ESL programs and every student is in mixed languages class at one time or another whether they speak another language besides English or not. Joon has been in ESL classes several times because she speaks Farsi and the school loves to use her as a translator but Bug never experienced that until sixth grade.

Honestly, I was a little worried at first because I thought it might hinder Bug’s learning experience since the teacher had to spend so much extra time on the English-learners but the opposite was true. This class was the BEST thing for Bug. She learned so much compassion for her fellow students and probably got graded harder than ever because she was held to stricter standards. She made friends with people from so many different countries and they formed really strong bonds.

At graduation there were several foreign students who were leaving, either going home to their countries of origin or going to other schools in other districts, and they were crying. They were genuinely sad to leave behind this school that has been their home for years. It made me sad too. I just remember Bug and her group of friends… how they might not speak English fluently but how they held hands and affectionately tapped each other on the head in jest. They are such sweet kids who were so happy to be here. I will miss them. Bug will miss them. I think by the end of the graduation and after the picture taking mobs subsided it started to sink in for her. It’s hard to say goodbye to something was so special. Not to mention the new big world of middle school is scary!

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I think the proudest person there was Toby. It was kind of a big deal for him to take the day off from shooting houses to spend hours at this school that he’s always kind of rolled his eyes at. I was really glad he was there. Bug might have been indifferent at the time but I know she will always treasure the memory.6thGradeGraduation-5

She’s a big kid now. Can you even believe it? I can’t. She’s like a giant now. When I hug her I don’t have to lean over anymore. She sits on my lap when I’m trying to work and takes up so much room I can’t get anything done. Not much different from when she was little but I’m starting to wonder how long this lap-sitting will continue. Of course I keep getting bigger to match so maybe we’ll be okay. Just kidding. I am trying really hard not to get bigger.

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I’m bracing myself for her high school graduation. I can only imagine what kind of feels that will dig up.