Was This the Best One Yet at Sea Ranch?
Was This the Best One Yet at Sea Ranch?
We left the Sacramento area when the weather man was predicting the first hot week of late spring. We have a timeshare at Wally’s Hot Springs near Genoa, Nevada. We never tire of going to this wonderfully rural place where we can watch deer, geese, cows, and other animals birth and grow their young. This week the mild weather dominated conversations.
Time has passed and our ageing has accelerated. In the past we enjoyed fishing at nearby lakes and streams, hiking on numerous mountain trails and playing tennis. Now sitting in the hot mineral water pools every morning is high on our to do list. We bring books to read and writing projects. The
Flamingo Casino in nearby Carson City has wonderful champagne brunches on Saturdays and Sundays. People who can get in and out of a casino without wasting money on tight machines can enjoy the brunch.
A walking path from Wally’s leads to Genoa, the first stage coach stop in Nevada. A beautiful little park, located in the center of town features concerts in the summer. The last weekend in September every year, rows of craft vendors line every street, the park, and even fields. This craft fair called, “The Candy Dance Festival” grew from a small money raising project by townspeople to an event that brings thousands of people to Genoa in September. Ladies of the community spend weeks making fudge and divinity to sell. There is still a dance held on Saturday night.
The tiny community church is one of the delightful places we discovered from local people sharing a hot tub with us one Sunday. The service starts at 10 o’clock Sunday mornings, so we had time to get
ready and go after leaving the spa. We have gone back every Sunday we have visited the area. Each time loving members and visitors fill the pews of the church. Getaways like this become a home away from home and do wonders for relationships.
My father believed in authoritarian parenting. Respect and obedience topped his list of values. My husband believes in democratic parenting with parents having ten votes! I believe in teaching children to manage their own behavior in age appropriate ways. That means children need to be heard and emotions recognized. I have always believed my father tried to micro-manage my behavior, thoughts, and emotions. “Get that look off your face” was a part of my training. I am coming to realize I owe a lot to my father even though I don’t approve of his style of parenting. His constant reminder, “Stand up straight. Pull those shoulders back” became a permanent recording in my head. He corrected my grammar even when I prayed aloud. He taught me to love God, manage money, love books, do my best, be kind, memorize scripture, always tell the truth. I never questioned my father’s love. He never withheld hugs and kisses. Papa didn’t say one thing and do another. He stood up straight, put his shoulders back, treated people kindly, gave generously to anyone in need, practiced speaking with good grammar, never swore, loved his parents and siblings, played games with us. He did what he expected us to do. It can be hard to successfully complete the developmental task of becoming independent from strong controlling good parents. It takes time to find the confidence in your own ability to run your life well. After you accomplish that task, you can begin to understand the many things your parents taught you. I thank my father every day for good posture and the many important things I learned from him. I wish I could tell him.
|Joy at a daughter’s wedding|
Joy comes in many forms: feeling free of addiction after months of failed attempts to break the chains, welcoming a dearly loved family member back after a long absence, skin touching skin with a loving spouse, having a purpose, seeing a new grandchild for the first time. In marriage, joy comes off and on, deepening with passing years as each partner learns to let go of fear and a need to change the other.
Greet each day in wonder. Expectations blind us from seeing the beauty of each other. What can I learn today about the amazing complexity of who I am and who my lover is? This is a lifetime challenge.
I have recently finished reading C.S. Lewis’s book Surprised by Joy for the second time. I read it the first time many years ago. Interestingly, what I got out of it this time was different. Joy does not come from seeking it. It comes as a surprise when we are able to finally discover the dimension of the spiritual part of ourselves. Letting go of expectations and opening up to beautiful differences between my self and those around me. Soul mates cannot find joy if they lose their own identity. It comes when we recognize and affirm the beauty in each other without comparison, expectations, and fear.
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Do you really know that person who sits across the dinner table day after day? Expectations make us blind to the gift of the person with whom we have chosen to spend our lives. There is no way life is supposed to be. There is only life.
As years go by, I realize some of my husband’s wonderful strengths become lost because I am so focused on what he should do or be. I am reinforcing his own focus on his weaknesses. We all have weaknesses and strengths. If we focus on the strengths we have twice as many as we have alone. Often each of us has the strengths that are our partner’s weaknesses. Wow! If we focus on each other’s strengths we have twice as many as we had alone.
Focus on the gift your partner is rather than the one you thought you wanted. Recognize the unimaginable challenge and opportunity to become more and more mature in faith, in love, and in joy. Embrace that opportunity to grow by accepting and learning from each other. Understand that relationship is the therapeutic process that can lead to satisfying maturity.
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Christmas 1977 was like no other Christmas for the Anson family, because instead of numbering our usual five, that year we were six. Nozomu Ishimaru, a 16- year-old from Japan, had joined our family for a year. Everyone had been enthusiastic about his coming , except Carla, our nine-year-old. She had voted against it.
Nombo (Nozomu’s nickname) participated in all our activities with wide-eyed interest. We made our Advent wreath with nuts, pine cones and pine sprigs. The first Sunday in December Nonbo got caught up in the excitement of lighting the first candle in the beautiful wreath that now occupied the center of our kitchen table.
The six of us drove to the mountains where we tramped through the forest trying to choose the most appealing tree out of the hundreds growing there. We spent family nights making ornaments for our gorgeous tree. We transformed clothespins into soldiers, sailors, cooks, skiers, dancing girls and angels. We strung cranberries and popcorn. Tiny lights sparkled from the tree limbs symbolizing the coming Light of the World. The children set up our Christmas barn, manger and hand-carved wooden figures of Joseph, Mary, the shepherds and the animals.
After Grandpa arrived on Christmas Eve, we all went to church to sing carols and to hear the Christmas story. Then we gathered around the tree to put an end to the mystery of closed doors and whispered conspiracies as each colorful Christmas package was opened. Nonbo’s eyes sparkled like the tree lights as each of his thoughtful gifts was opened. He had made a desk organizer for me, a tool chest for Everett, a doll-house for Carla and a magician’s top hat for Eric. He and Carla had gone together to get Janee’ a hamster. Nonbo had built a cage for it.
In our family, after a gift is opened, the receiver runs to the giver and gives him a big hug and thank you. For Nonbo this was a very new experience. Carla’s hug was genuine. Christmas had melted whatever resistance she had felt toward Nonbo. He had truly become her brother.
Our Christmas getaway now seems much like dreams of a childhood Santa Claus. How did we become overnight guests at the splendid Ritz Carlton Hotel on the shores of a blustery Pacific Ocean at the tiny town of Half Moon Bay? It started with Scott Angeletti, a creative tour director for Sports Leisure Travel. He had hosted trips to the Ritz Hotel at Lake Tahoe as well as tours along the coast to Monterey and Carmel. He wondered if it would be possible to create a two night-three day trip to the Bay Area and negotiate an affordable stay at the Ritz on one of those nights. He succeeded.
We signed up for the trip in May so we had half a year to look forward to it. It far exceeded our expectations. On Saturday Scott served box lunches on the bus. Our first stop was at Filoli Gardens mansion. For nine days in December nearly two thousand volunteers turn the ground floor of the mansion into an upscale Christmas store to raise money to keep the gardens open to the public.
After two hours of shopping we headed to the San Jose Fairmont Hotel located next to the Ceasar Chavez Park which had been turned into a delightful Christmas park with a couple of hundred decorated Christmas trees, rides for the children, scenes of elves and Santa Claus preparing for Christmas, an outdoor ice skating rink, carnival rides, food stations and vendors. Many families enjoyed the excitement and splendor. Lost in this two block wonderland was one nativity scene. I wondered how many of those children know why we celebrate Christmas.
Two blocks north of the Fairmont Hotel the grand Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph hosted the debut Gaude choral group concert at 8 o’clock that night. Four men and four women made up the group. They sang old German songs written as far back as the fifteenth century. The excellent acoustics in the magnificent cathedral accented the perfect harmony of the singers. A great experience!
The following day we ate an amazing brunch at the Hayes Mansion, another place with a fascinating Bay area family story. Waiting for us that evening on the grand plaza by the sea was the lighting of the Christmas tree. Seats were set up in rows and the large fire pits were lit early. A local high school boys choir entertained with Christmas songs, no traditional carols. The MC announced the winners
of the gingerbread houses lining the hotel halls. Santa Claus rode down the hill by the ocean in a golf cart. With a couple of children from the audience he lit the Christmas tree. Christmas messages and pictures were projected onto the large hotel wall.
We arrived home Monday evening full of Christmas, but looking for a missing “Merry Christmas” after being saturated with “Happy Holidays” for three days. I wish my readers a Merry Christmas and of course Happy Holidays as well.
As we headed to the Northern California coast after our longest absence, I could feel any tension or anxious thoughts disappear into the misty cloudy fog that had our windshield wipers active after a long summer rest. “So which route shall we take?” I asked my husband. “You’re driving. You decide.”
I decided to drive west through the middle of the old town of Petaluma divided by Hiwy 101. It was a cloudy moody day. The usually lush green farmland was so dry the cattle and sheep no longer looked like the pampered animals in television ads.
We met dozens of campers and cars pulling trailers leaving the coast. Not much traffic going west. A fork in the road pointing south to picturesque Pt. Reyes always tempts me to go that way. Sometimes I do, but on this day I hung tight to the steering wheel and turned north on Hiwy l through Tamales, best known as the place to turn toward popular Dillon Beach.
Ten miles north on Hiwy l we came to Bodega Bay where we had lunch at the Tides which has windows facing the Bay. A curtain of fog rose from the water blocking the view. The Tides is expensive so we had breakfast for the second time.
As we drove the familiar curves of this famous ocean highway I couldn’t resist rolling down my window to let in the sounds, the smell, and the feel of the wonderful Pacific Ocean. On through Jenner, over the cliffs toward Ft. Ross, Salt Point, past Sea Ranch to Gualala and the Sea Cliff Motel where we would spend two wonderful nights bathed in the wonder of this magical place.
California got its first really soaking rain after a long dry spell. The next morning the fog was gone. The sun turned the sky into a beautiful blue with white fluffy clouds. The ocean matched it with its own blue with white capped waves. We took a long walk beside this noisy beauty intoxicated by the stimulation of all of our senses. I love the ocean. For me it is the perfect getaway every time..
In the late sixties and seventies, researchers learned that hundreds of young people had grown up without learning basic skills. Now University personnel are saying incoming students who are brilliant and accomplished on paper have the same problem, but for a different reason. They call it overparenting.
In the sixties and seventies all three of our children were in a program for children who tested at the top third on achievement tests given by the school. It was called the Gate program. We worked out a time schedule with the children to set aside time for home work.
When my oldest daughter came home with a note from her teacher saying she wasn’t doing her homework, I let Janee’ read the note. I told her she would have to work it out with her teacher. I told the teacher, Janee’s homework is between you and her. She is given time at home to do it. I hoped the teacher would set up consequences that would help Janee’ learn to take responsibility for her homework. There is enough conflict between parents and their children. They should not be fighting with their children every night to do their home work.
Teach your children to take responsibility for their own grades and homework. Let them experience the consequences for failing to do that. Let them know you are available for help and support, but grades belong to them. Responsible adults don’t have their mothers reminding them of their responsibilities.
I don’t believe young children should be given homework unless they need to do make up work. They learn best through play.
If I asked you, what is the most important task of parents, what would you answer? I believe parents’ most important task is to teach children to manage their own behavior in age appropriate ways. Parents need to learn how to do that. Your goal as a parent is to work yourself out of a job.
For example, your toddler is learning little by little to dress him or her self. What do you do? You teach him how to put on his underwear, his shirt, his pants. Praise and encourage him for what he does.
“Look at you. You put on your own panties. It won’t be long before you can put on your socks. You must be very proud.” Always praise the action, not the child.
When your child takes off his/her clothes, be sure you have provided a place for him to put soiled clothes. Provide low rods and accessable drawers for clothes that can be worn again. Start early to teach everything has its place. Clothes don’t belong on the floor. It is very difficult to teach this important behavior after children become busy teenagers. Unfortunately, many adults have not learned to hang up their clothes and put dirty clothes in a hamper.
When your youngster finishes his/her bath have a place for his bath toys to be put “in their bed”. Give him a wash cloth to wipe around the bathtub. You are training him at an early age to take care of what he uses. Don’t expect him to be good at it. That isn’t the point. Never do for your child what he can do for himself unless you make it clear that this a favor.
In the next few blog posts I plan to share more about how to make your children independent and capable. Check out my book, “How to Get Kids to Help at Home” to learn how to make children capable and responsible.
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