Friday, April 27, 2012

Making Memories/ Securing my Coolest Mom Title

The drive across town form our house to my parent's house takes about an hour and is about 62 miles each way. There are a number of ways to go but most of them take us in the general vicinity of downtown Phoenix. Jack is always mesmerized by the tall buildings and the skyline in general. We don't often have need to actually go into the downtown area but to an eight year old those skyscrapers are pretty cool.

Last week we spent the night at my parent's house and the next day we were driving home leisurely with no real time constraints. The weather was beautiful and it was lunch time. Jack looked out the window wistfully and asked "Can you imagine what it would be like to actually go into downtown Phoenix and see those buildings up close?"

Years ago I worked in Renaissance 2. My first job when I was 16 was in the America West Arena. Having been born and raised in Phoenix, I know my way around down town. I am sure that Jack has if fact been there too at some point but if he had he certainly didn't remember it. I thought to myself "Whats the harm in dropping off of the freeway and cutting across town through the skyscrapers?" I pulled over to exit and told Jack that it was his lucky day. We were going to take a ride through down town Phoenix.

The kid thought he'd died and gone to heaven. He was so excited. As we got into the shadows of the buildings and I was giving my little impromptu tour I decided that we'd go one step further and park and get something to eat. I had an idea. "Jack. I'm taking you to one of the coolest places on Planet Earth. He was dying to know where we were going but I made him wait until we walked in.

Friday's operated a restaurant in the Diamondback's stadium Chase field that is open 365 days a year. We got to go in and have lunch in left field  while we watched batting practice. The sheer size of that place will make you dizzy for a minute when you first walk in and the fact that we were the only ones in the stands (or even the restaurant) made it a mind blowing experience. Luckily since we were the only ones the kids got to run around the stands and check it all out. Jack just kept saying over and over " You are the coolest mom ever." Mission Accomplished.

The whole thing cost us less that 20 bucks and an hour of our lives and I guarantee it will be an hour that they both remember for a really really long time. Our waiter saw Jack taking it all in slack jawed and said " So when you grow up do you want to be a baseball player?"

Without missing a beat he said "No, I want to build baseball stadiums."

The roof was opened and we had a perfect view of the planes coming in for landing at Sky Harbor which was the highlight of the whole experience for Abraham. Even though you could pretty much set your watch by their regular arrival every sixty seconds or so, He was equally shocked and excited every single time. I could have sat and watched those boys take it all in all day long but eventually all of the food was gone and it was time to go. Without being prompted they both thanked me about a hundred times on the walk back to the car.

I'm certainly not the most fun mom or the most spontaneous mom or the mom who owns zoo passes. I refuse to listen to crappy music in the car (I.e. anything made for children) and I make them eat vegetables against their will but that day I was a Rockstar. I know for a fact they will remember that day fondly for a long long time. So will I. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jack Mormon

I was raised by an active Mormon mom and a totally inactive Mormon dad. He had been raised in the church and served an honorable and very successful full time mission and met my mom at Ricks college and they got married in the temple. I don't know the details of how his church attendance disappeared in the first part of their life together because I wasn't even born until long after he was carrying a pack of cigarettes in his pocket every day after work.

Anyone who knows my dad knows that he is a powerful guy. When he walks into a room people are compelled to turn and look just because of the energy he carries with him. They stand down. People either worship him or detest him or simultaneously worship and detest him. My friends were afraid of him and often people would check with me to see if my dad was home before accepting an offer to play at my house. This was especially odd because he had never mistreated my friends in any way and never mistreated me so there was never an actual reason to be afraid of him but people just were. He swore like a sailor and always had on his person at any given moment a wad of cash, a can of Coca Cola and a bag of candied peanuts. These happened to be my three favorite things in the world and as the youngest child and most manipulative daughter I had staked my claim on a generous portion of all three of those things early.

I always knew my dad had a testimony of the Gospel but looking back I have know idea why I thought that. Its not like he was bearing his testimony to anyone or even discussing religion with anyone but I respected his intelligence enough to give him the benefit of the doubt. The doctrines of the church have always made perfect logical sense to me and therefore I had always thought that anyone who had heard it all and didn't believe was a little bit low IQ. Whoever instilled that into me as a child is a genius and I find myself often dropping hints to my kids that will accomplish this ever so subtle yet powerful technique of inspiring obedience to commandments. Ultimately I want my kids to adhere to the tenants of our religion because they love it and know it to be true for themselves but I am also a realist that understands that often times you get to the higher level by passing through the lower level. Whatever. Maybe they will go on a mission for no other reason than to avoid being a social pariah in the Mormon culture. Great. I saw enough Elders on my mission come out for the wrong reasons. They all ended up figuring it out. Except for the ones with low IQs. "Jack, serving a mission is wonderful because you get to Preach the Gospel and help people come unto Christ which will bless your life eternally. Also I will be devastated if you don't go and you will surely only have really lame unattractive girls to choose from when you want to get married." I am not above this form of brainwashing. The ends justifies the means. Not to mention it is one hundred percent true. I would be devastated and any girl worth marrying will and should hold out for someone who has demonstrated that level of commitment to God.

My dad was always entertainingly irreverent about the church. He wanted us to be raised in it, but he loved doing things like seeing the statue of Brigham Young at Temple Square in Salt Lake and saying "There's old Brigham with his back to the temple and his hand to the bank." (which, by the way, is exactly how it is positioned). He openly declared that his favorite college sports team was any team playing BYU, and he had a penchant for walking out a room during mid lesson of a home teacher's visit.

He had a really cool sculpture of a giant jack (the toy). It was this funky touchable piece of heavy art and he loved telling people that it was his Jack Mormon award. I came across it the other day and since I did name my first born after it I had to get a photo. I'm sure he made this with his own hands. (He is awesome like that.) I officially lay claim on this when my parents are dead. I want my mom's charm bracelet and my dad's Jack Mormon Trophy. 

There were certain things that I wanted to be ignorant about. I convinced myself that he smelled like cigarette smoke because thats just what welders smelled like and his employees at the shop all smoked. When he had cigarettes in his truck or pocket it was because he was holding them for a friend. Even when I found him with a cigarette in his fingers I would immediately search the scene for whichever shop employee had his hands so full that he needed my dad to hold his cigarette for him while it was lit and while my dad was welding with his other hand. After all, everyone knows that smoking is like the worst thing a person can do, right? This is definitely one of those LDS culture things that is kind of messed up but I appreciate that I was brainwashed to disrespect smokers for a very good reason and as an adult who has never been tempted to take even one drag, I have no complaints.

As an adult I can also appreciate all of the ways my dad was totally righteous when I was growing up that I gave him no credit for at the time. I understand now how significant it is that he provided well for his family by working his ass off every single day. I realize how significant it is that he never cheated on my mom. He was honest in his dealings and he was a good person to the core who always gave generously to his fellow man and served others. He would even hold cigarettes for people without complaining.

I have seen enough train wreck marriages and worthless absent fathers and cheating husbands or lazy bastards who don't work to know now that my dad was doing a lot more right than he was doing wrong. Plus he ended up with four well adjusted children who all chose wonderful spouses, married in the temple and are currently enjoying fulfilling lives. None of us ever rebelled, he sent three missionaries into the mission field and we all love each other. You can't argue with results like that. Granted, his best parenting move was choosing my mother in the first place who tirelessly drug four kids to church all by herself and who modeled the positive fruits of following the Savior and staying active in His church every single day of her life.

As a dramatic teenager my fondest dream was to see my dad come back into the church. It was hard for me to get priesthood blessings from random ward members. As I understood the plan more I wanted my dad to be part of our eternal family. I thought it was a pipe dream but thats what I really wanted.

I wish I could give you more details of my dad's miraculous change of heart and subsequent reactivation into full activity in the church but I was not in the country when it happened. When I left on my mission I left an inactive smoking swearing Milan and by the time I got back we all went to the temple together and he was serving as the High Priest group leader. I don't take any credit for the change but I'm sure that between supporting a missionary, the death of his parents, a heart condition that was threatening to end his life and the general softening that comes when a person becomes a grandpa, there was a perfect storm of events that brought him back. In a style that I understand completely he went the extreme route. He stopped carrying people's cigarettes cold turkey, put his garments back on and by the time I was back he would follow me around trying to engage in spiritual discussions and spend hours a day studying the scriptures and immersing himself in the teachings of the prophets. It was great but I will admit I had an unexpected grieving period when I realized that the guy who raised me was gone forever. He had been replaced by this spiritual giant who would not only sit through an entire home teaching message, he was home teaching. Shortly after that he was called to be the freaking bishop. Yes. Thats right . Staci Haws was a bishop's daughter.

Not only did I have to grieve the loss of Old Milan but it took a while to get used to New Milan. One time I remember putting a mix CD I had made into the car stereo while on a road trip shortly after my mission. One song had a bad word in it and this apparently offended New Milan. He started lecturing me about the influences we choose to introduce into our lives and why it is so destructive to choose worldly music etc. I could have taken the advice from anyone else but I wasn't about to have Milan Haws tell me that I needed to be more churchy. "Hey Dad, I am sorry but I am not offended by swearing. Remind me sometime to tell you about the asshole I learned that from. In the mean time turn the music back on."

Nowadays I just appreciate every detail of my dad. Even the contradictions. He does whatever he does with passion including being my biggest cheerleader since I was born. Our family was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I did receive perfect unconditional love from my parents and to not take myself too seriously which I am finding is actually pretty rare and that skill makes life more bearable than just about anything. Turns out I had the best dad in the world and I still do. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Better than Airbags

Here are some pictures that John texted me today on the scene of a horrible car accident where everyone should have been killed but instead were miraculously unharmed.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I am pretty much an angry bird-ologist

My four year old and my eight year old spend most of their days trying to come up with questions that will stump me. Abe still thinks that I am the ultimate source of all knowledge but Jack is becoming more skeptical. Here is a sampling of questions I have answered today:

Sharks like to eat people, right Mom?
T-Rexes hate dinosaurs, right Mom?
Ninjas are so quiet, right Mom?
Lala loves to lick people in the face, right Mom?
Me and dad are both handsome, right Mom?
This show is boring, right mom?
Blue slushies are the best, right mom?
Skeletons are totally fake, right mom?
Angry Birds hate pigs, right mom?

How did Stephen Hawking get paralyzed?
What does DNA stand for?
Why do people get abortions?
Would a French dog understand English?
Who pays for the Olympics?
Why would the Irish want to kill each other?
Wouldn't an igloo be too cold to live in?
Are humans evolving?
What is Algebra?

Hey Jack, don't you have any questions about Angry Birds? Go ahead and ask me why Target is a far more pleasant place to shop but will never be able to compete with WalMart for global retail domination. Ask me why Obama wants war in Iran during an election year. I can accurately tell you how the gravitational pull of the moon creates oceanic tides. I know a lot of stuff. I am pretty good at making stuff up on the fly too.

Basically Abe is asking me stuff to confirm his hypothesis that we both know everything. Jack is trying to confirm his hypothesis that we both know very little. I am totally thrilled with both theories.

Kramer Boys

Kramer Boys