Wednesday, December 17, 2014

let's begin with the birthday girl.

dear london rae haack,

{miss 7 year-old}

you know, there was some level of awareness in me that expected my oldest child to grow up. but, now, when faced with my second hooligan also following suit? this is just insulting. beyond betrayal. i mean, seriously, knock it off already. 

ok ok ok, i get it. you are your own person and you need to spread your wings and fly and grow older and wiser every day and blah blah blllah.

it's just that from the very beginning you were so, sooo squishy and cuddly and oh my gosh beyond words yummy. now?! well, just look at you. you're morphing at this incessantly fast rate into this capable, tall, gracious, lovely, oh my gosh beyond beautiful big girl. it's really starting to freak me out because i am beginning to believe that one day you really are going to be able to of live and thrive without the constant protection and care and companionship of your mama. i keep having visions of this grown, vivacious, functioning adult who is living life to the fullest, charting her course and making her mark on the world and WHAT.EVER.  it is, quite frankly, terrifying.

fortunately, you still love to cuddle. but I usually have to bribe you with a good back scratch. let's continue that forever, shall we?

i comforted myself with the fact that you requested a baby doll for your birthday. thank heavens, you're still little in that sense. i combed the aisle of the store looking for the one you had pointed out. she came with a flower headband and a little puppy in the box. it was a good pick.

as i placed her in the cart i was reminded of another doll you loved, a couple years ago. you picked it up with grandma while out shopping one day. it was from some sort of odd, temporary kiosk vendor in a largely defunct shopping mall that only has one store still worth visiting. A vendor which quickly went out of business and for good reason because let me tell you, it was officially the WORLD'S MOST UNBELIEVABLY HIDEOUS DOLL. grandma could barely speak, she was laughing so hard, when she returned home with you and tried to privately explain why you entered carrying this bizarre satanic-spawn-of-chucky-mating-with-annabelle-from-The-Conjuring in your arms.

i'm not kidding. it was cross-eyed and had missing feet, the batting spilling out from the legs which were poorly stuffed and glued shut. and its hair?! oh my gosh. picture a large sos scrubbing sponge mangled on top of its head.

"i tried to get her to pick something else. she just LOVES it. i kept trying not to let her see me laugh. she genuinely wanted this doll. i had to let her get it."

it was true. you proved the sincerity of your affection by gently combing her hair and carrying her all throughout the house constantly with you. you'd feed her and sing to her and dress and re-dress her rumpled limbs. you'd happily take her for walks in your doll stroller, proudly waving hello and scaring both the small children and adults passing by.

 that poor, hideous doll couldn't have asked for a better mama.

{oh happy day! seven is heaven!}

this story is just a small example of the sort of heart you have, lundy girl. you are inherently pure, and sweet, and full of such amazing kindness and warmth. love comes easily and deeply to you. what a gift you have. you are sensitive and introspective and wildly, off the charts imaginative. i still catch you venturing into your beloved lundyland, something i hope never ends with growing age.

you are also a goofball. 

you make us laugh a lot. sometimes you're pleased to be providing a giggle for the group, and other times it provokes a pretty decent level of your signature london rage when we laugh at your shenanigans. did i mention you are beyond dramatic... derrr...passionate.... too?  

you love nothing more than belting out any and every song playing on the radio. it doesn't matter one iota to you who is around or that you don't actually know the lyrics. like, at all. One your favorites is Kelly Clarkson. Oh boy, when she comes on the radio, you crank. it. up.

Clarkson lyrics:

what doesn't kill you makes you stronger
stand a little taller
doesn't mean i'm lonely when 
i'm alone 

Translated lundy lyrics: 

what doesn't mill a cat go longerrrr
can a mitten smallerrrrr
doesn't mean i'm mone mone
when i'm all goneeee

you are the best, kid.

i've relished every second of this privilege, being your mama.

i look forward to many, many, many more years ahead of complaining and whining about how fast you grow. 

i love you, i love you, i love you.

happy birthday!



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays: rae's getting her groove back.

Why hello!!! Yes, hello

It's Rae coming at you live! from my house where something BIG, something MAGICAL, something WONDERFUL JUST HAPPENED.

We ate dinner. 

As a family.

Around an actual table.

In our house!!

And all food was PREPARED AND COOKED by meeeee!!!

Guys, it felt pretty amaze, I'm not gonna lie. So amazing in fact that I thought I should get online and gush about it and post with my intermittent Meal Planning Monday links. It has been THREE SOLID MONTHS since I have fed my family. I'm totally not even kidding for one second here. THREE MONTHS. Of TAKE-OUT. 

I don't care what restaurant, what store, what ethnic flavor, WHAT.EVER it is...there is just nothing that compares to that which is made in your own little kitchen. Moral of the story is sigh, I'm feeling really happy right now. The remodel has been a stressful bugger. I was a hot mess of fancy problems and disproportional anxiety the entire time. And by 'fancy problems', I mean the sort of obnoxious first-world problems one doesn't really have the right to complain about, but does anyways. I am grateful for my fancy problems. Chances are, you have plenty of them too, right? Praise our lucky stars.

{Mallory came to visit! Yay!}

{She brought her boyfriend through town with her. We enjoyed taking them out to dinner and asking all sorts of fantastically probing questions while Tyler simultaneously provided a generous level of eyebrow raised stink-eye. hiiii mikey.}

Back to our remodeling fancy problems. I have to say, eliminating all modern conveniences in one's life is a FABULOUS way to give kids perspective. Forget Christmas presents and Santa and that whole bunch of nonsense.  We are working at this completely backwards.

Instead, try this. Simply remove every possible electronic and gas powered device in your life starting October 1st of every year and then ceremoniously re-introduce it back on Christmas morning. Done and done! No gifts necessary, people.

I'm telling you, when our refrigerator was finally delivered {and plugged into a random side bedroom} you should have seen their reactions. It was a big Haack family chorus of shouting and praising and singing Hosannas all the way. I'm still on a high. Refrigerators are awesome! Do you have one in your house too?! 

I'm very excited for the Christmas season. December has been on the up and up for sure.

{And to the rather unexpected surge of readers who have reached out regarding my Dad, thank you so much for your outpouring of support - it meant the world, sincerely!}

I'm so excited to share the details of the house in the New Year, friends. The rest of December will be dedicated to all things Haack ladies, and the spectacularly funny stuff that comes from their little mouths. Buckle your seatbelts, because a whole week of "ism's" is coming up soon.




Meal links:

*Our Nonna makes the most spectacular Crab Bisque every Christmas.
 It's the perfect holiday splurge (I'm not a huge sea-food lover, but give me a bowl of this with crusty bread any day, it's dddddelicious. The prepared crab meat from Costco works great with this recipe, I have never gone through the hassle or sheer TERROR of beginning with whole crabs!?)

*Another good one for the holidays: Focaccia Bread with Carmelized Onions

*Every holiday season, I make incessant amounts of Hershey's peanut butter kiss cookies, only I use Hershey's HUGS instead. I know it isn't the fanciest of culinary Christmas delights, but it just isn't Christmas until I've passed out from eating too many warm from the oven. Besides, they are so easy to make and look especially festive when you use the striped Hugs. Make sure to send some over to the neighbors.

*Do we need a vegetable up in here? I feel like we need a vegetable. Ok, here you go.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Statesman.

{Nevada Juniper}

Dear Lily, London, Ellie-Jane, and Emerson,

I'm back and ready to begin posting about our life. I previously mentioned that last month was a little rough. I debated whether or not to mention some of the events of the past weeks in this teensy corner of my internet. A space reserved mostly for family memories, happy musings, precious childhood stories, and frank confessions from your frequently overwhelmed, under-qualified mother.

I'm going to go ahead and record a bit of my thoughts regarding the current family events of November. Heaven knows, the rest of a damn internet has its own version clogging up my feed, so I figured I might as well do what I always do and spill my guts. It's strangely cathartic, to just let life hang out in the open sometimes.

The short recap version of recent events you'll read, if you google it (from here and through the eternity - thank you very much infinite internet), had to do with your Grandpa, Pop. 

The most miserable, evil, insensitive, stupid, lunatic, wingnut, crazy, racist, sexist, homophobic man

in pretty much all of history.

Yep. Your Pop. Sound familiar?

Yeah, it didn't to me either.

You're young now, but you've already noticed that Pop is involved in the political world of Nevada. An official in the NV Legislature, elected three times by the people to represent them. He was also appointed Speaker-designee of the House, voted in as leader by his peers. That is, until an orchestrated smear article surfaced, which randomly pulled quotes from his opinion columns written when he was hired as a local newspaper columnist 20 years ago. Random phrases and misconstrued ideas spread like wildfire. Because in popular political media, there is nothing more exciting than old newspaper columns cherry picked and aligned in such a way as to create a bizarre caricature of a conservative political figure.

It was a caricature of a hateful man who nobody had previously recognized - because he simply didn't, and doesn't, exist. But, when all of the local super reliable news outlets, and even the fancy schmancy Huffington Post, and even fancier schmancier New York Times, begin saying things - talking about this man - you can bet it's the truth. It's just got to be right? Because who could possibly know better than cliche left-leaning media reporters with an axe to grind? Those types just know everything.

Consequently, the caricature got a good, sound beating. The straw man was swiftly executed.

Okay, I'm sounding a little cheeky and vindictive. I suppose now I should confess that I really spent most of the past two weeks with my head tucked under a pillow, crying and wallowing in a bit of helpless anger and despair. It was brutal. It felt like watching the man you know, the good man you really know, get hammered again and again while you had no choice but to stand and watch. I know your Pop, girls. And let me tell you, this was media cruelty and injustice in all its sick and insatiable glory. Pop is certainly not the first to fall prey, and he won't be the last. You'll, unfortunately, receive much more education on this topic in your adult future.

As I had my head jammed under a pillow again one day, while you were napping, my thoughts turned to an afternoon we spent with Pop a little over a year ago. It was a rather chilly day, but nonetheless Pop decided to host a hiking adventure with his grandgirls. The destination of choice was the petroglyphs (old, Native American rock carvings) hidden in a canyon that he had also taken me to as a child. It is one of the many sacred mountainside ravines Pop has discovered while roaming the vast NV landscape. 

We loaded up in his pick-up and braced ourselves for the bumpy ride, meandering through anonymous dirt roads leading into nowhere-ville. You asked if you could ride in the back of the truck. Pop said of course!, because Pop always says of course! to absurd things like that. You were still in your pajamas for crying out loud.

{in a photograph, all you ever need to know about life with Ira Hansen as your Pop}

We spent the afternoon like this, tromping through the hills. Identifying every bush, branch and thistle along the way.

 And pssst, a bit of free advice from those who have hiked before you: take notes. He's bound to quiz you about the names of each indistinguishable shrub and stub and pile of sticks in the future. 

"Rachel, remember the name of this?"

"Oh! Um...yeah...Ummmm....oh...I think...der....Sagebrushius Deciduous Nevadius Shrubus."

{wait for it wait for it wait for it....the Silent Stare of Shame}

"It's spiny hop sage."

"Oh rrrright! Right. Totally my second guess."

For a man with an impressive supply of highlighted, marked up, vintage John Muir books and maps stacked all throughout his endless personal library, there is no such thing as a mere NV hike. It's a hikeducation.

But don't worry about your self-evident ignorance of the landscape, or the history of Nevada. Pop gladly shares the stories of the land and relishes in simply spending time in the great outdoors with you. I think it is the one thing he loves more than the books he reads so voraciously. You

{Dried Bob-cat poop. Pop picks it apart to show us the bird teeth inside.Yep, that's what I just said.}

{no lizards were harmed in the making of this photograph. I REPEAT, no lizards were harmed}

Pop stepped down, and resigned the NV Speakership last week. I know he saw the way it was hurting his family. He's a tough cookie, but I gotta say he's kind of a big mush pot when it comes to seeing Grandma sad. Additionally, he preferred the State not be continually distracted by an endless back-and-forth in the media over him, when there are much more dire issues facing Nevada. 

It hurt me to think of how the State just lost a great Speaker, but I was more grateful for my good, protective father. Because when he realized he couldn't be both, I'm glad he chose the latter.

I think Pop is most worried that he's embarrassed you, or me, or our family with this whole media spotlight scandal. He worries that moments of poorly chosen words, or insensitively articulated ideas, may forever cause people to think he really is a lunatic villain. I think he worries that he has somehow tainted the beauty of your family legacy. 

I've been thinking long and hard about that. And I've come to the conclusion that I think this whole thing is just utterly ridiculous. 

A favorite quote from C.S. Lewis keeps coming to mind:

"...Every age has their pet virtues and curious insensibilities..."

Isn't that the truth? I find it curiously insensible that we live in a nation which so easily forgives and even hails leaders who lie, cheat on their wife, and get their dingy dong played with in the once dignified oval office. I think of how current American heroes seem to be criminals who rob convenience stores and looters who steal from innocent store owners in a demand for  'justice'.  I think of President Obama's friend and favorite fund-raiser, the Forbe's list highest grossing music rap artist, who proudly sings blatantly misogynist and abusive lyrics while millions sing along. I think of our country's favorite broadway play, which openly and offensively mocks a minority religion. I think of America's popular political shows, with hosts like Bill Maher, an admired left-wing liberal who unabashedly says wonderfully sensitive things like,

“I thought when we elected a black president, we were going to get a black president. You know, this [BP oil spill] is where I want a real black president. I want him in a meeting with the BP CEOs, you know, where he lifts up his shirt so you can see the gun in his pants. That’s – (in black man voice) ‘we’ve got a motherfu**ing problem here?’ Shoot somebody in the foot.'”

“But I’ve often said that if I had – I have two dogs – if I had two retarded children, I’d be a hero. And yet the dogs, which are pretty much the same thing. They’re sweet. They’re loving. They’re kind, but they don’t mentally advance at all. … Dogs are like retarded children.” 

{ and this guy regularly hosts political leaders and media writers who gladly appear on his show?}

I think about these instances and the strange lack of meaningful accountability. I think about the deafening moral silence over certain forms of sanctioned insensitivity, offensiveness, or speech. Consequently, when I see the incensed firestorm that erupted over Pop's old article excerpts, taken out of context and extracted from the archives of an obscure local opinion paper - written years and years before you were born - I can't help but say, "What on earth is going on here?!"

So, if I seem defensive of your Pop, it's because I am. Not because I condone insensitivity. I certainly don't. I wish the whole world would try harder to be more sensitive, including your Pop. But there is a nasty double standard in life, one that you will have to contend with one day as well. With your own two eyes and a sound mind, you will quickly observe that only certain people are allowed to cross certain lines offending certain groups over certain issues because we are a nation that cares about EQUALITY! Yep, makes total sense.

We must try harder. We must all try harder to be kinder, to think harder, and to be more sensitive to others around us. 

Someday, when you are grown women who have known the truth of who Ira Hansen is as a human being, I am confident that you will look back and read those types of harsh, name calling articles with a sense of stupor. You will marvel at the authors who think they had the man pinned, crying for his political head on a plate, and you will say, "Whoa there. Now that just wasn't fair." Because it WASN'T. 

After crying like a ninny for a few days, I snapped out of it. I decided that I will be taking a pass on the selective moral outrage tour that is rolling through my area, thank you very much. I am not ashamed, or embarrassed. And you don't have to be either.

 I can only pray that you girls will always be in the company of men with good character who may say the wrong things on occasion, rather than be in the company of men with lousy character who say all the right things. 

{Tangent time. Bear with me. Come on! I haven't posted in a long time!}

Here is a rather awful, fuzzy picture that I love. 

For two reasons.

1) It is a good cautionary reminder of what happens when I go through a post-partum identity crisis and dye my hair and, 
2) Pop is wearing braces and his funky hat - which covers his bald head from sunburns - along with his signature, stained plumbing sweatshirt.

You see, Pop could never afford to fix his teeth while he was raising me and your other seven aunts and uncles. I remember he would trade plumbing services with a local dentist in exchange for our dental care. It was only when all of his children had clean, straight teeth and clothing and cars and educations that Pop finally had his teeth worked on. Hence, the poor man is in his fifties wearing braces.

One of the hater articles poked fun at how Pop looks just like Walter White from Breaking Bad. Is it wrong that I sort of thought that was awesome? And really, when I think about it, that was probably the most factually correct assertion in all of print at the time of the media frenzy. Now just imagine how much better the series would have been if Walter had Pop's hat. Well, come to think of it, you'll never be allowed to watch the show anyways.

 {Tangent over.}

I'll wrap up my Mama epistle to you now and relay something a sincere, well-meaning fellow legislator from across the aisle mentioned about Pop. He said he suspected Ira Hansen didn't have much exposure to many other places and cultures and walks of life. This is probably accurate. 

I have to say, when I read that, I felt guilty and sad. 

Because the truth of the matter is, once again, Pop spent all of his time and money making sure that I - along with my siblings - had that exposure instead. My siblings and I have traveled to many more countries and continents than our Dad. Pop's children speak more languages than he does. His children have experienced more cultures than he has. His children will all attend college, but he didn't. 

Each time we've returned home and gotten off of the plane from our latest parent-funded venture, we could count on finding him, steady and sure, in one of two places. He'd either be working in the plumbing shop, wearing that sweatshirt. Or, he'd be home, reading - soaking in the knowledge of other cultures, histories, places, and ideas - while eating potato chips with a big glass of watered down lemonade. And he'd always inevitably request, "So, Rae-pooper, tell me all about your trip..."

Yes, his travels may have been limited to a specific geography out of sheer necessity. But the landscape of which he is accustomed to, the Nevada range, he has scoured so broadly, and loved so deeply, and researched so widely that it's practically impossible for his children to distinguish him apart from the home of his birth. 

It's quite fitting that Nevada has become a part of his DNA,
 a place "where the wind blows wild and free".

We sure got lucky when we got Ira Hansen for a father and a 'Pop', wouldn't you say?