Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Caitlin the Younger

I was raised in a small town in California. It was a beautiful place, and probably had anything a child could ask for. We had a pond, a pool, a trampoline, a playground, a tree fort, a volleyball and basketball court, a hammock, lawns galore, rocks to climb, acres to explore. We had a barn and a house pasture, all sorts of animals, an orchard and a garden, I could just go on and on. Let me just say, it was a great place to grow up. I loved exploring the full 6+ acres that we lived on. I even enjoyed exploring the neighbors' yards, unknown to them. I wish everyone could have grown up in such a place.

We lived in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is a place covered in oak trees and granite boulders,the soil is a red-brown clay-like dirt. There are all sorts of wildlife and beauty in every direction you look. To the east, you can see the beautiful snow-capped mountains. To the west, the great Sacramento valley. To the north and south, you see endless hills. During the summer they turn a beautiful golden color. In fact, we lived very close to a town called El Dorado Hills, or the Hills of Gold. A very fitting name, since it was this very area that started the great gold rush back in 1849.

The more I think about where I grew up, the more I appreciate the opportunity to grow up in such a wonderful place. It was filled with great people and happy memories. I was given great opportunities to just be a kid and explore and learn and love life.

My parents are about as good as they come. Sure they had their imperfections, but they are respectable, hard-working individuals with strong morals. They were always a united front. The first time I remember hearing them fight was when I was 18 years old!!!! It was a little scary to hear them disagree. Now as an adult, I have heard them argue countless times, but as a child, they were always careful to show us they were a team and we could not divide them.

My dad has a boisterous attitude towards life, he often sing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" to start the day in the shower. My family calls him "The King of Clichés" because I think he knows just about every cliché that ever existed. He loves to tell jokes, make up songs, and wear blue shirts. He absolutely LOVES to work and I don't think he has ever felt sorry for himself. I have always had a strong desire to make my dad proud.

My mom I think might have created the standards for motherhood. Everything you could ever want in a mother is a quality she has. She is non-judgmental, a great listener, fun to be around, smart and nuturing. She probably has one of the biggest hearts that ever existed. She is selfless, caring, tender and wise. She loves to read and spend time taking care of those around her, especially her family. She is a great cook, seamstress and an excellent housewife. Our house was always kept tidy and neat. I don't think we ever had a junk drawer.

I grew up the youngest of seven. Five girls and two boys. There was always plenty of action in our home. I had lots of moms to help me find my way in life. I love each of my siblings very much. They are all so unique, but all such good people. They have always been good to me and have taught me so much. I wouldn't trade being raised in a big family for anything. It was AWESOME being the youngest of such a great family!!!

When I think about young Caitlin, I think of a shy little girl afraid of this big scary world. I was clueless, uncertain and unaware of almost everything, even the happenings inside my own home. Although I was timid and doubtful of my own capabilities, I had a huge heart. I loved people. I cannot think of someone from my childhood that I hate. I loved giving to others around me. People's feelings were very important to me and I think I had a good sense of knowing how others around me might feel. I had a great love and trust for all those around me.

I spent a good amount of my childhood in a make-believe world. I loved dolls, especially Barbies. I loved making mud pies, playing house or school. I loved playing in our orchard or in the tree house or out by the well. I remember spending hours riding my bike countless times around our circular driveway. I enjoyed spending time with our animals, really thinking that I knew what their inner thoughts were. I know I spent a lot of time with my family, but most of my memories come from times I spent alone in my make-believe world. I liked being there.

It's fun to remember what seems like yesterday. To think about who I was then and who I am today. I wouldn't consider myself shy or afraid anymore. But most of who I was then is still a big part of Caitlin of present day. I am grateful to have such a great upbringing in this world. Especially now, that I am a little more aware of what's going on around me. I have been greatly blessed and I hope that someday, in someway, I can somehow share that blessing with others in this big beautiful world.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What would you do with a time machine?

Jocelyn, my oldest, is an avid reader. She would read all day if I let her. In fact, sometimes when she is in trouble, I take her book away as a punishment. I never thought that could be a punishment until I had her. But it really works!!!

With all Jocelyn's reading, she is always bringing up interesting items for discusiion for our family. She has recently been reading a book about time travel and so at dinner one night this week she asked us . . .
"If you had a time machine and could only go one place, where would you go?"

I knew instantly what I would do. I would go find myself back in 7th grade and clue me in on some decisions I should make to better my life. If only I had the knowledge I have now back then, life would be so much better. Right???

Well, Jon immediately says he would figure out a way stop the 9-11 attacks from happening. Show off!!! Another prime example of how is he generally a better person than me. I, of coarse, think of myself and how I could make my life better. So I took his response as a challenge and responded that I would find the guy who pulled Hitler out of his depression while he was imprisoned and stop him from making contact which would have probably resulted in Hitler committing suicide and therefore Nazi Germany would have never existed.

HAHAHAHA, I beat him!!! Okay, I know, he still wins the better person award.

But all this history changing really got me thinking. Just think how different everything would be if we were able to do any of these things. Both of Jon's grandfathers fought in WWII. Jon's life would be incredibly different if there was no Nazi Germany. And to think of all the lives saved and families that wouldn't have been torn apart.

I know there have been many movies made with this concept in mind. How just changing one simple thing in history and how that minor change impacts all the world. I know if we were changing huge events, even in simple ways, it obviously would have a major impact on humanity. But what about my little discussion with 7th grader Caitlin?

The more I think about this, the more I realize that I like who I am, and I like where I am. Even if it has been a bumpy road and I have taken a couple wrong turns, ultimately I am happy. If I would have talked to 7th grader Caitlin and actually convinced her to listen to me and follow my advice, I probably would not be married to my husband, and I cannot imagine my life without him. And to think of my life without my children . . . well I just don't want to go there.

I am happy to say that this little dinner discussion has taught me something amazing. Something I would not have believed before. I don't have any regrets!! Those moments of suffering in my life have been great learning experiences for me, and make me who I am today. And although they were not my greatest moments, they give me a greater appreciation for the good things in life.

Jocelyn dear, you have been such a great teacher to your mother. Ever since the moment I knew you existed you have made me a better person. Thanks for teaching your mother another important lesson. I now know how happy I am with the road I haven taken in my life.

No regrets:)