Three is a Charm(er)

Anna spent the first year of her life observing her two older siblings – gathering information to be used once she got on her feet.

You know what they say about baby books and third kids… The first kid has absolutely every detail of their first year documented. The second kid has about half that detail, and by the third kid, well you’re lucky to have the date of birth recorded. It’s not that Number 3 is any less loved, it’s just her parents are basically running on empty. Needless to say, Anna’s baby book is pretty empty too. But I don’t think there is anyone who would say that she hasn’t created some pretty amazing memories.

Anna was born on Memorial Day weekend. I used her impending birth to get out of a camping trip that my best friend (and Anna’s future Godmother) and I wanted to avoid. Let’s be honest, camping is amazing WITHOUT a two year old and a four year old. With them it’s simply transferring all the work from a nice clean house to a tent. So Cheryl and I kept ourselves busy watching kids run through the sprinkler instead of eating handfuls of dirt.

Good thing I didn’t go camping or Anna would have been born in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada (although dual citizenship doesn’t sound all that bad at the moment). Instead she was born at dinner time in Grosse Pointe. Everyone who came into the birthing center assured me that based on the heartbeat, Anna was a boy (the odds were definitely in their favor). Of course they were all wrong, so when she was born we hadn’t decided on a girl’s name. It took a day or two to finally land on Anna and it was the aforementioned best friend who cast the deciding vote. It turned out to be the perfect name with so much potential for nick names -Anna Banana being the first and later Unstie (don’t know where that came from).

Anna spent the first year of her life observing her two older siblings – gathering information to be used once she got on her feet. She spent a lot of time in the bouncy chair taking mental notes for her future work of genius, Random Thoughts, among other things. Once she was mobile the fun began. She has been a constant source of hilarity. Here are a few examples:

April Fools day 1998ish – I stumbled down to make coffee early one morning. I grabbed the coffee pot and turned on the water to fill it up only to be squirted by the the sprayer she had rigged so that it would hit me directly in the face. I almost killed her except I was laughing too hard.

We took the girls to Washington and did the tour of the Capital. We got to the Vietnam War Memorial. Being raised in the 60s Russ and I were very moved by the flowers and boots and dog tags at the foot of the Memorial. Anna looked up at me and in all seriousness asked me which war happened first: Vietnam or the Civil War.

When we took the family to England we visited the Tower of London. There was a sign saying that it had been build in 1100. With a totally straight face Anna asked her sisters: If Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, how could this be here? To which they reminded her that we were not in the US anymore. On that same trip all three girls managed to crack up the guards in front of Buckingham Palace by yelling ridiculous stuff at them until they couldn’t keep a straight face anymore.

Anna was a really good swimmer and spent some time in the USA swim program. I thought she really liked it because she never complained about early morning practices or weekend meets (well not that much). Her specialty was breaststroke. One day she came home from practice and announced that she was quitting. I asked her why. Mom, I can’t talk with my face in the water. Turns out she wasn’t getting enough social time. As was our deal, I made her finish the season. At one point she managed to “leap” into a wall in dance class which I believe was her way of trying to get out of swim practice early. Too bad our orthopedic doc (a family friend) thought she’d be devastated if she couldn’t swim so he made sure that she could take off her cast for practice. Anna was not happy.

Anna was a multitasker in high school. After she quit swimming, she took her dance expertise and combined it with cheerleading. I spent a few weekends at cheerleading competitions and watching her at football games. I also watched her on stage in community theatre and St. Ignatius theatre productions. Her dance recitals were always entertaining. In fact, one of our friends nicknamed her M.C. Anna.

Anna will be the first one to tell you that she charmed her way through high school. She also was in charge of getting herself to school on time which apparently she didn’t do very well. One day I got a call from the Vice Principal at the High School informing me that Anna was going to have to spend a Saturday detention because she had been late too many times. She was almost apologetic. All I could imagine was Anna ala Breakfast Club. I suggested that instead of making her sit with a bunch of other kids (read audience) that maybe she give her a toothbrush and have her clean the toilets. I’m pretty sure that the VP considered calling child protective services.

Russ started a new job in Cincinnati when Anna was going into her junior year.. We didn’t want her to have to change schools so I stayed back in Cleveland. It was really fun to have her all to myself for two years. We had a date night at Applebees every week. When the time came to drop her off at college, she couldn’t wait to get us out of her room. Anna is terrible at goodbyes. Needless to say, I was a little hurt. When I got home and climbed into bed I found her “mimi” aka her “blankie” under my pillow. Those are the kinds of things Anna does – how can you stay mad at her when she does that kind of stuff.

Time flies and it did with Anna too. She ended up in Chicago working. Her supervisor turned out to be her future husband, Mark. She did a stint at Second City where she honed her comedy while selling sponsorships for them. She moved to Denver, back to Chicago, and back to Denver. She got married and her rehearsal dinner featured 1970s costumes.

She has two kids now and it’s her turn to enjoy them everyday. I’m lucky to live 2.5 hours away from her and I love visits. She has an adorable dog, Ted (pictured above). She is an amazing friend, sister, daughter, mother, wife. She has found art and a nonprofit that allows her to use those talents in a compassionate way. She has a million friends. I am so proud of the woman she has become.

So Anna, Happy 40th birthday. I may not have a baby book to share with you, but I have a treasure trove of memories.

Flag burning.

Before you get all pissy with me, I’m not talking about the American flag.

I have had the same Tibetan prayer flags hanging in the trees outside my She Shed for several years now. They have done their fair share of sending prayers out through all kinds of crazy Colorado weather. They are kind of like the US Postal Service whose motto is “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Actually, that’s a myth – the US Postal service doesn’t have a motto, never has.

It is time to retire them (the prayer flags, not the US Postal service).

If you look up what Tibetan Prayer flags are created for you’ll find this: “Prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread good will and compassion into all pervading space.” I love that –  we can hang our prayers and intentions for humankind in the trees and watch the wind carry them out into the world.

Tibetan prayer flags start out brightly colored and then fade with use. Each color signifies an element — and the flags are always arranged in a specific order, from left to right: blue, white, red, green, yellow. Blue represents the sky, white air, red fire, green water, and yellow earth. All five colors together signify balance.

The best days to hang them are Mondays or Fridays.  However, when they are hung at auspicious moments, the benefit is said to expand. This is especially true when you hang them on the day of a full moon or a new moon. It seemed to me that with the pandemic and the new moon hitting at the same time, that this would be a good time to hang up some new prayer flags and get their intentions out into the universe ASAP.

But what to do with the old ones?  They have sent out so many prayers – it seemed wrong to just throw them in the recycle bin.  I googled it.  Like the American flag,  you never let them touch the ground because they are sacred.  You burn them to honor the compassionate intentions for all beings with which these flags were made. 

So I will burn them and in the same way that the prayer flags’ mantras, prayers, and symbols went out on the wind toward every part of the globe over the last several years, the ashes from my burned flags will float on the wind and return to the earth in a final release of blessings. It seems like this is a good time to do it.

May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you be at peace.