Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fathers and Other Great Men

Perfect Dad for Me!
I love you Dad.

 I have been  privileged to be surrounded all my life with the finest of men.  I don't know why that has been so, but I recognize and feel it deeply.  Today, on our only son, Layton's 25 birthday, and a few days before Fathers Day I choose to acknowledge it again.

Yesterday, I called home to my parents to check on details for a memorial service my mothers was putting together for an uncle that had long been lost to our family.  Dad answered and we enjoyed a good hour or so of cheerful, chatty conversation.  My Dad is interesting, funny, witty and a great guy.  I have always enjoyed time with him, and this conversation was almost as good as being with him.  He and Mom are a wonderful team, the kind I hope Jeff and I are becoming, and the kind I hope for and see in our children and their spouses.  They minimize one another's weaknesses and build up their strengths and together make up a whole that is a powerful blessing to the individual needs of all who cross their path. 

Our family and extended family has often seemed so un-notable to me… nothing famous or particularly outstanding… just good ordinary people.  However, as I listened to Mom and Dad remind me of the miracles that have occurred in the finding of a number of "lost" extended family, I realized our parents ARE more than notable!  Oddly in our otherwise uneventful family, there have been a number of family members, particularly in Mom's family, who have at times, become, "lost" to the others, sometimes for long years.   Mom and Dad's cooperative efforts over many years have "found" most of them in ways not explained to those who don't believe in Divine intervention.  They both support and seek the spirit, and in a church who preaches of family relationships extending beyond this life, it seems natural then, that our parents would also live so fully, the principles of concern and connectedness in THIS life.  We all feel it, and we all are better for it.  I have learned much, watching how, unlike some spouses who could complain or criticize their in-law relations, my parents never have.  They work together to make their home, life and choices inclusive of all, to repair breaches or hurts, and strengthen ties that have become loose or cut.  Dad has been an involved partner and participant in the constant charitable outreach all of us know our parents to live.  And all they consider it is, LOVE.

A few weeks ago, I substituted in seminary and the topic was an historical event that occurred in the church the summer I was 12.  I wondered if I would have written anything about in my journal.  Sure enough I did, and as I perused the other entries near it, I was reminded again how valuable my dad was in that tender time in my life.  He was a young and harried father with a large family to provide for.  And yet, he noticed me,  trusted me and took me as his "secretary" on trips to Boise to work with him.  I loved those outings and recorded them in detail; trips to the Capital, our lunches and how much they cost, the sights we saw and even our conversations.  I wrote about how dad always chose me to work with him on the "hard" family chores, like cleaning the garage or cutting firewood.  But I didn't mind (too much) because I knew Dad valued ME, more than just my help.
My parents and the way my family looked one year before I married.  Busy parents!
And how grateful I am  now, for every single sibling!

  What a gift to society, a devoted and loving Father is!  It doesn't take a perfect one.  Just one who knows the VALUE of HIS role, and the value of his wife and children.  Dad how I love you.  I love you so much I am always trying to find time to spend it with you and Mom.  And I never regret it!  I loved our private camping trip years ago during the week I waited for the kids at AFY (Adventures For Youth), and my recent visit when Mom and I went early to ride the bus on your bus route in the morning.  No wonder all your patrons love it when you're the bus driver!  I do too!  I've always been proud of my Dad. You taught me among many other needful and vital skills, what to look for in a husband. 

Jeffery Bird, has been the man of my dreams. He too is witty, and funny, silly and sweet.  He is kind and patient, and has almost no temper at all. He is the sweetest father to little ones ever, and my photo albums and memory are filled with photos to prove it.  I believe there are very few things more attractive to women than a man who is good and kind to children.  It is the MOST manly of things!  And even now… how he worries about his children and grand children! You have only the tiniest idea how much!  Each are constantly in his prayers and conversation.

And he is VERY smart!  I never go a week, often even a day, when someone does not comment to me how much Jeff has influenced their life.  What a great thing to know about ones spouse, that he is a blessing to others.  I also appreciate all the things he takes care of in our home and life.  He is a capable and talented DO-er, and he does things well if he's going to do them.
Jeff and Me and our little 
Father and Son
Fun Daddy!
 He takes me on road trips, and enjoys the local cafes and tolerates the history and scenic stops I love, so patiently.  And he is forgiving.  One cannot minimize or underestimate the value of that quality in a marriage.  Oh how kind he has been with me and my too often pettishness. Jeffery, our children and I are so very fortunate to have you as Husband and Father!
Bird's multiplied! (Conrads, Lees, Robinson's, Bird, Bird, and Udall)

Just as my Dad showed me what to watch for in a man, Jeff did for his children. All four daughters have connected themselves to the finest of men.  They are disciplined, hard working, smart, kind, and faith filled.  We admire and love them all!

And for our son, Layton, born in the middle of 4 sisters, just before Fathers Day just like today, Jeffery was a role model. Layton was the cutest, funnest son and brother.  He was literally "in the middle" of every event with his sisters.

 Layton is fast becoming just like his Dad. We both think  he's soon ready to pass Jeff up in ability and knowledge!

 He is brilliant and capable and now, as his first tiny little daughter Emma, struggles, and grows and develops in the NICU in Idaho Falls, he too is a most devoted and involved husband and Father, just as his Dad has been.

He was  so concerned about his work that was conflicting in his desire to be all the support,  emotionally and physically he wanted to be for his wonderful wife Meredith, and to be there to help with and connect with a tiny baby girl, they cannot bring home for months.  And it was worked out.  They have not missed a day yet in 6 weeks, and likely have many more to go, but they leave one feeling there is truly nothing else or no where they'd rather be.  Wouldn't every child like to know that is how their parents feel?  Wouldn't the world be better if it were so?

To Jeff's father, and brothers and brothers in law, and to my brothers and brothers in law. You too, are part of my fabric of gratitude for the tremendous value and influence of devoted, sacrificing Fathers.  You have been mentors to us, as we have watched from a distance and tried to add into our lives, (sometimes belatedly), your best attributes.

And now, with our 4 Sons-in-law, the cycle continues. We see and expect the same great contribution to the world that we have seen thus far.  You matter!  You are loved and you DEFINITELY make the world better!  I hate to disagree with the world, (maybe I don't HATE it  at all!), but diamonds and dogs are NOT women's and mens best friends, it should be and can be and for me, has been,   a wonderful FATHER, husband, son, and brother, who are the very BEST, the most loyal and devoted and meaningful, and valuable of friends!  Thank you!

Happy Fathers Day ALL,   I love every one of you!  And feel gratitude for all like you.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

In Search of the Perfect Hat...

SURPRISE!  This is going too be a hat review.  Odd for me I know, but it is.  It will even include a brief consideration on bicycle helmets!  They are hats too… sort of.  :)

I like hats.  I bet you did not know that…. even if you thought you knew me pretty well.  But I do, and I always have.  I do not like baseball hats, visors or cowboy hats, but I do like cute, fun, girly sun hats.
That said, I do not wear hats very often.  The reason is varied, but mostly, cute hats today, draw attention and I am uncomfortable with that.  Still, I do like them and as I become ever less concerned about what people think, I become both more practical, and in some ways, more brave in doing what is needful and fun.
My Lands End fleece hat and Jeff in his rabbit/leather Aviator .
Hats today, are mostly practical, to keep one warm, dry, or shaded.  In the past they were often merely decorative. I am still way too practical for that.   Both my husband and I, each have a small collection of hats.   His worn constantly, mine till recently, only rarely.  Jeff sadly no longer has his head of tight thick blonde curls and thus his head gets cold, or sunburned.  He has a thick soft long hat for sleeping that covers his eyes and his head..., (yes, just like the night before Christmas, "… and papa in his cap.")  He has one for walking, one in his suitcase for traveling, a winter hat, a fun western felt hat he wears on the 4 Pioneer Trek's he has led over the years,  a cotton canvas Tilley hat he wore for years, but has since largely replaced with a lighter, airer, vented Tilley that shades his bald head, dries fast and stays put, a very fancy, cool russian beaver hat, and maybe his favorite winter hat, is a combination rabbit and leather aviator style hat the kids and I got him for Christmas one year.  He wears it almost nonstop in the winter, even in the house and in his office! The ladies there love it and want one like it if it came in colors!

What describes the PERFECT hat?  Well, the perfect hat to me, will do it's job, be comfortable, STAY ON, and be nice to look at.

After going through many over the years, I currently have 3 wonderful winter hats I hope to never replace. One is creamy off white fleece, purchased on sale from Lands End, with an upturned brim.  It's light, warm, comfy, washable and cute.
 The other two are gorgeous fancy fur hats, that were a Christmas gift from my darling husband, who spent weeks scouring Etsy!  to find them.   One is  a spice brown mink hat, that is so comfy and warm, and stays a bit closer to my head.

Last of all is a knock out silver fox Russian hat that is to die for.  It is so fluffy and soft and incredibly warm, and living in the Northwest, every time I wear it I get told constantly, "Your hat is so beautiful."  However, I realized on a recent winter trip to Utah, that the more conservative population there, was embarrassed for me in my expensive and fancy hat.  The comments there were markedly different and awkward and I could tell it wasn't there style of couture …. kind of funny, since so many more hunters make themselves known in Utah than where I reside, but….. whatever.  I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that it was fur in that sense, just that it was…. fancy.  As I said, I am becoming better able to  take the heat of "standing out" at least when it includes being warm.  I can handle it.

My beautiful Silver Fox winter hat.

But now, it's summer, and I like to be outside, on my bike, by the river, in my garden and in the pool classes at the gym.  I care less now about my facial tan than facial wrinkles and cataracts and so, I dug out my collection of sun hats…. but somehow they were all wrong… which is likely why I wear them so seldom.  All of them are oh so cute!  One is a floppy, cute woven sun hat with a broad brim.  But it blows off in the smallest breeze and its a bit scratchy on my forehead…. and….. I don't know.

The other is a darling white knit hat with a black sash and bow.  We purchased it years ago on a trip to Victoria BC and it does have a bit of an English flair.  I long ago added a tie to keep it on in the breezes crossing the ferry from my Western Washington,  Poulsbo days, but… it's hot, and makes me sweat, and it's not very washable and I'd hate to get it wet as it would not only be hard to clean but would be heavy and saggy!

The third is a darling linen colored thinly woven hat we purchased with friends in Maui 4+ years ago. It's my favorite and looks pretty cute on me and is the right size, for keeping the sun out, and not heavy to pack in a bag etc, But…. it too blows off in the slightest breeze, isn't' really washable and would sink in the pool, and stain in the garden with berries and dirt on my fingers.  I've had others, but parted with them easily as being too casual, too big, or too tea party fancy with flowers on the brim etc.

So, I have spent much of the week on "the perfect hat hunt".  I've been on the internet, and identified what I thought/think would be the perfect hat… a T9 down sloping Tilley hat in off white.  It's expensive though and I'd really like to try it on first.  Tilley's I already know from Jeff's experience, fit well, stay on, LAST, float, are washable and guaranteed for LIFE, even for LOSS!  How can you beat that?  But still, I'd like to try it.   Well, only two places carry Tilley's in our small Tri-Cities area, REI, and Sportswearhouse, but they only carry one variety and it's NOT the T9  :(  Bummer.

I eventually brought home a DARLING summer/denim blue down sloping hat from Columbia. It was oh so cute, and light and flattering, and shaded well.  But, the moment I stepped out the door, with the smallest breeze, it was off my head.  :(  Not going to work.  I returned it sadly.

I did purchase a grey green Columbia shade hat from Costco, for a great bargain.  It has a strap, it's adjustable to my head so it stay on even with out the strap in most light breezes. It floats, and had great shade coverage.  But after trying it out in my pool class, the brim in back was a bit too big and made it hard for me to do the moves as it dragged a bit…. It's not as cute, and I didn't love the color, but it won't show the dirt and will wash well and I will keep it for hiking and working in the yard and garden.

But I was back to the drawing board.  Now I had more information though.  My experiments taught me that I wanted a light weight, floating hat that would shade my eyes but not have too big a brim for pool classes, and would wash well, and dry quickly, had a strap and adjustability to stay on my head in small breezes without a strap!  Well I headed back to Sportswearhouse and bought a children's hat by Sun Day Afternoons, I'd tried on a hundred times this week and now knew it would be perfect!  For $15.00 I am set for the pool class, and another $15.00 from Costco covers me in the garden.  (See the top photo, upper left hand corner for that hat.)
The perfect"quick-dry", light weight, floating shade hat for the pool.  Chin strap, and adjustable inner strap included.

And I think I STILL want that expensive Tilley, just to wear out and about.  Like my winter Silver fox, it's a summertime classic and I know it will just LOOK good!  (I do think it would be too heavy for the pool though and take too long to dry for my pool needs although for boating it would be lovely, classy and PERFECT!.)

Last of all, about the Bike helmet/hat…. I've LONG known everyone SHOULD wear a helmet.  I even tried with the typical shallow, top of head things.  But they were uncomfortable , hard to adjust and hot.  All terrible excuses.  Nevertheless, I did not wear mine.  I hated it.  Jeff kept telling me he wanted a full head kind and the picture that conjured up in my mind, was just too too ugly for even my less vain nature.  But eventually, a few weeks ago, we went helmet shopping. I needed to set a better example for my two, almost three tiny new granddaughters and many more, we hope, to come, as well as their parents.   Shockingly, I jokingly picked up a round, full type helmet at REI in a Hawaiian pattern and put it on my head just for kicks!  Guess, what, I fell in love!  It's called a Nutcase.  It's NOT cheap, but it is so very comfortable and very easily adjustable for those like Jeff and I whose "hassle factor" has shrunk to very nearly zero! Just turn the knob at the back base of ones neck and viola!  Perfect fit.  The under chin strap is genius. It's magnetic and does not pinch! and connects and disconnects so naturally. And with an optional little visor in the front, I feel like a snazzy jockey in stead of a granny biker.  I love it!   Best of all, I don't avoid wearing it, I even look forward to it!  I've worn it with pleasure every bike ride since!  SUCCESS!  
Amia sets a good (and fashionable) safety example!  :)

So WHICH is the PERFECT hat?  The one you wear with pleasure for the time and purpose!
 And yes, according to Jeff and I, one is just not enough!    We give you permission to indulge!