## Random equations in the mathematics of life

### Around and Around

A few years ago, I planned a trip for the family.

It was a crappy time in our lives. The Scientist and I had just barely come off of a 6 month legal separation. My father died after 4 months of being in and out of the hospital. The Ambassador was dealing with the disintegration of his relationship with a cousin whom he used to worship, who had now turned into a bully. His physical bruises were numerous, but the emotional ones took a lot longer to heal. The Professor and the Artist were navigating the treacherous waters of teenagers. All in all, it was a mess.

So I planned a trip.

I told the kids I’d chosen a spot with “something for all of us”. We were going to Idaho. At first, they were shocked, incredulous, and even protesting. Then they figured out I was outright lying, but couldn’t figure out the real destination. I explained that they’d need passports in case we crossed over into the Canadian Rockies. Those beautiful dress clothes? Well, they’re for the formal barbecue and hayride, of course. All throughout the spring, I would expound on the beauty of Idaho, and all the cool stuff we would see there. The kids would roll their eyes, and wonder out loud where we were really going.

The week before we left, I gave the kids a puzzle with about two dozen questions on it. The answers fit into numbered spaces, and all were about, you guessed it, Idaho. They hunted down the answers, and kept the papers until the day we left, salivating over the final clue they’d unscramble.

We packed the car, got in, started driving, and stopped for breakfast. I handed them the last piece of paper – the holy grail containing our true destination, simply by placing numbered letters into the spaces.

Almost.

Remember Ralphie, from A Christmas Story, and his secret decoder ring? Yeeeah. Theirs said, “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine” too!  I found this hilarious. The kids? Not so much. The Ambassador didn’t speak to me for half an hour!

We got back in the car, and I handed over my laptop. On it was a Power Point, set to music (Two Tickets to Paradise and Guitars and Tiki Bars), detailing our cruise ship, along with each port and what we’d be doing there. The kids freaked out. They forgave me incredibly fast, amazingly enough, and the fun began.

That trip was really good for us. We spent time together, away from the outside world, reassuring each other that no matter what else, we would always be a family. But there were tensions. The Scientist and I were in a really bad place, and though we covered pretty well, we both felt it just the same. I was fine being on the trip with him, but would’ve preferred not to share a cabin with him. We do pretty well when we travel together, but even the Caribbean couldn’t erase the problems in our relationship. Our friendship was crumbling around us, and that had always been the foundation for the rest of the family. We were in danger of losing everything.

2 months after that trip, I asked for a divorce. We separated once again, starting the one year clock required by our state before a divorce would be granted. A month after that, we started therapy, not to rebuild a lost marriage, but to at least attempt to sew back together the shredded fabric of a long standing friendship. Quite honestly, I thought it was a lost cause. While I would never speak against their father, I was done, and simply wanted to move on to parent the kids and try to pick up the pieces of my life.

Now, 4 ½ years later, we are headed back to Idaho. We’re going to a different area, but Idaho just the same. This time, our friendship is in a really good place. Our relationship has changed in so, so many ways, but we are still best friends, and now we’re both much better parents to our kids.

This year, like 2009, has also been tough. The Scientist lost his father after almost the same amount of time as my own father. We’ve lost some friends in sudden, tragic ways. The stresses have slowly eroded us, but we know the island sunshine, and the bond we have as a family will help us put each other back together.

We’ll miss our friends while we’re off the grid for a few days, but it’s a much needed break. There are times in which social media is great, and times when it gets in the way. This week, it would get in the way of the rest and reconnection we so desperately need.

Hopefully, everyone will find the peace they seek this holiday season. There is no perfect world, but maybe, just for a little slice of time, we can find our own version.

### Balanced Equations

I was a little surprised that the kids wanted to spend Christmas at the beach again this year.  Last year, we made the decision based on a lot of things hitting several fans, and the fact that we wanted to get the kids away from all of them.  V was absolutely supportive of this; she encouraged us to do it and to just sequester ourselves as a family for the weekend.  It was absolutely the right decision, but it does alter the norm of Christmas morning at home, opening gifts while having our traditional breakfast, and such.

But we do all agree that “Christmas” isn’t a single day for us.  It’s always a time period of about two weeks or so, so really, the day we open Santa’s gifts doesn’t have to match the calendar designation of  “Christmas.”

I’d gotten the family a “message center” that has a white board, Post-It notes, and a little video message recorder.  It was definitely useful for us, but also a lot of fun for the kids, who love to leave goofy videos for each other.  That arrived on the 16th, and I allowed them to open it and set it up.  We celebrate Solstice, so on the 21st, everyone got their “cool, surprise” gift.  I try to get one “big” gift for each person, that’s not on their wish list, that they don’t expect.  Yule is an important day in our family, so that gift was opened then and a little celebration was had.  On the 22nd, we did Santa.  My living room looked like a cyclone of wrapping paper and boxes had hit it, but it was a blast.  The kids and the Scientist loved their gifts, and I did too.  I love having them open the things I chose for them and get excited.  It’s such a rush for me.  Stockings, however, weren’t touched; those came to the beach with us.

Christmas Eve was spent together watching movies, especially A Christmas Story, just hanging out in the living room enjoying each others’ company.  We woke up on Dec 25th to crashing waves and a gorgeous sunrise.  The Artist and the Scientist came down to the beach with me to photograph it – the Scientist then went out geocaching while the Artist and I went upstairs and back to our cozy warm beds!  The place where we’re staying has a full kitchen (as well as a LOT more space than last year’s place!), so our traditional Christmas breakfast of bacon, hot cocoa, and cinnamon rolls/orange rolls (yes, from a can!) was easily made.  We opened our stockings and reveled in more fun gifties and then spent the day relaxing.  The Scientist went back out geocaching, and I’m glad he did.  Shortly after he left, the Artist mentioned that she might be brewing a UTI – crud!!  I texted him and he found an open Rite-Aid and got her unsweetened cranberry-pomegranate juice and Azo.  It seems to be working, thankfully.  We hit the pool, lazy river, and hot tub later that afternoon, and then I worked on my project and we watched more movies.  Dinner was a fantastic lasagna that I’d made and brought, along with salad and garlic bread.  Yum!  The Ambassador and I weren’t feeling great, so we went to bed around 10ish.  We all crashed and slept in a bit, which helped us all, I think.

At home, there’s about 6-7″ of snow on the ground from the storm, but it’s just swirling around here.  I was pretty stunned, though, to look out the balcony door to watch the waves for a bit and see surfers in the water!  Alejandro and I bundled up and went down; that was too good to miss.  Yeesh.  It was really cold!  I got some good pics, though, so it was worth it.  We’re going to play cards and watch football for the rest of today; we thought about going out originally, but it’s cold enough that we’d all rather just stay cozy and warm instead!

Maybe this is the last year the kids will want to do this, maybe it’s the start of a new tradition…either way, it’s been a blissful, nearly-no-stress holiday season.  Success!