Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Nachos are out of the oven

This week I became an aunt.

Aunt Jade.

Of course, I knew it was eventually going to happen. It's not like babies just spring out of the ground, fully formed, overnight. But little Blaine did decide to come five weeks early, so I have to say I wasn't quite prepared. I didn't wake up that morning thinking "Today I might become an aunt." I woke up thinking "Argh, why is it morning already? I wasn't done sleeping."

I guess I can't complain, having aunt-hood sprung on me in such an abrupt manner. Easier to handle than becoming parent a month ahead of schedule. After all, when Lance texted Dad less than 24 hours before Jasinda went into labor that "this prenatal class is so long Jasinda will have the baby before it's over," he thought he was being hilariously hyperbolic.  (Dad responded "Breathe," to which Lance responded "Hee hoo hee hoo.")

Even my parents thought they would have a few weeks of transition between the day they became empty nesters and the day they became grandparents, but life decided it should just rip that bandaid off all in one week. Actually, they're thrilled about the whole grandparent thing. They embraced the role fully by sitting in the old person section of the chapel at church on Sunday.

Now that the baby is born, we can stop calling him "the baby" and start calling him Blaine, since his parents decided not to announce his name before he was born. Logan took matters into his own hands early on, however, and emailed Lance that he should name the baby Nacho. Much to Lance's dismay, the nickname stuck, and all of us referred to Blaine as "little Nacho" for the past five months or so. A couple of weeks ago he told Logan just because everyone else was calling the baby Nacho didn't mean it was going to happen, to which Logan replied in his weekly email home from his mission, "As for your comment about your future son's name... I'm pretty sure it's so brilliant it's Nacho choice anymore."

We were all taking bets on what type of name the new baby would have. If Lance and Jasinda had named the baby something with a weird spelling Cole was planning to email them back (this was when we thought Cole would be on his mission already) and say "Hey guys, when you were writing the email you accidentally spelled his name wrong."

One time when we were on a long road trip we decided we had to pick the names of our future children right then and there (we had gotten bored with the classic "Next person we pass is your wife") using only words that we saw as we were driving. It was more doable than you think. Lots of car names, like Mercedes, are passable people names, and a lot of cities were named after people to begin with. I do seem to remember someone ended up with a son named Truck though. As for me, if I name my future daughter Meridian you'll know why.

Sunday night, at about 1 a.m., Lance was finally able to run home and grab his laptop and we got to Skype with the newest member of the family. We mostly just marveled at how much hair Blaine has. Seriously. The kid is going to need a haircut in about three weeks. But it's totally adorable. Like everything about him. Isn't it amazing how the human brain is wired to look at newborns and think they're pretty much the cutest thing ever, even when, objectively speaking, they come out of the womb looking like a boiled monkey?

I can't wait to go see him, but for the next few weeks I'll have to be content with baby Blaine being added to the never-ending stream of baby photos on my Facebook newsfeed (yes, most of you reading this are contributors, and yes, I do have a secret list in my head ranking all of your children by cuteness level and yes, I will lie and tell you yours is the cutest if you ask me).

Aunt Jade out.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dear Class of 2014

On Saturday I'm headed to The Dalles to see my last brother graduate from high school. If I was in charge of speaking at his graduation, this is what I would say:

Dear Class of 2014:

Congratulations on your achievement. Commencement ceremonies like this are pretty boring and five years from you probably won't remember who spoke, let alone what they said. And yet it is important you be here anyway. Get used to that idea, because attending boring yet important (and yet is it really actually important in the grand scheme of things?) meetings is for sure a part of being an adult.

Don't worry, there's lots of really awesome parts of adulthood too. Freedom and money and all of that. You'll see what I mean.

If you were a nerd in high school, you probably told yourself that someday those losers who shoved you in a locker one too many times before dropping out of school will be working for you (or someone like you) someday. Statistically speaking, probably. But before you get too cocky, remember that if things go south for you and you're one of those Millennials who can't find a job after college, those "losers" who dropped out of high school will beat you out for a job at McDonald's because management thinks you're overqualified. So stay humble. Life doesn't owe you anything. Not even a job at McDonald's.

That being said, your choices matter. The secret to success is knowing what you want out of life and then doing what you need to do (ethically) to get it. It's really that simple. You might not get exactly what you want every time ... not everyone can win American Idol or become a famous playwright. But even if you miss the mark on some of those types of goals, you'll sure as heck get closer to success than the people who drifted aimlessly through life, not knowing what they wanted or too lazy or insecure to go after it. Maybe you won't win American Idol and become the next Carrie Underwood, but you might make some good side money from the advertising on your YouTube covers of her songs.

Don't binge drink in college (or after). Failing a test because you're hung over, getting taken advantage of while you're unconscious, breaking your neck after falling out of a frat house window, posting a career-destroying photo on Facebook, getting arrested for underage drinking or puking all over yourself in front of a cute girl does not make you an adult. It makes you someone who made a dumb decision and suffered an unfortunate consequence.

Get experience. Seriously. Life experience. Work experience. Romantic experience. Cultural experience. An empty résumé and Facebook page full of bathroom mirror selfies isn't going to impress anyone worth impressing.

Speaking of romantic experience, I'm not going to give you any advice on that because it's different for everyone. Getting married at age 20 is the best decision some people ever made and the worst decision other people made. Leaving a good job to follow a significant other to a new city was a great choice for the people who are still married to that person 10 years later, but a terrible choice for the people who got dumped three weeks down the road and were unemployed for another year after that. So I don't know what to tell you, besides good luck.

Your credit score is super important. Don't screw it up.

Also: learn how to cook.

Remember your parents will always be your parents no matter what. When you're 25 your mom will still text you to tell you that the thing you liked on Facebook was inappropriate, and your dad will still worry about the guys you date treating his little girl right. The good news is they will seem exponentially smarter the older you get, until eventually when they say "You really should get that checked out" you say "You're right" instead of "Don't worry so much, I'm sure it will be fine." (Spoiler alert: It usually isn't fine.)

People are more important than things, career accomplishments, paychecks, television, your pride, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Don't continually let yourself become a footnote in a chapter of someone's life when you could have played a main character in their autobiography.

And finally ... don't forget to have fun. The concept of forgetting to have fun sounds ridiculous now, but there will come a day when you become so focused on all of your very adult responsibilities that you will realize that you have literally forgotten to do fun things. When that day comes, hearken back to the teenager you are today and tell yourself ...


Don't waste it.