Monday, July 7, 2014

Have you heard the one about the traditional and non-traditional student?

What's the difference between a "traditional" and a "non-traditional" college student?

I'm joking.  Kind of.

When I'm nervous, I tend to hide behind humor. 

Today I start back to college for the first time in over 20 years. 

I have taken several different types of classes and attended writers' conferences over the years, but I never actually obtained a degree.

Today I take the first step towards that goal.  Because I can.

I'm nervous because what if I spend the next five years working towards it and I end up taking care of parents or grandkids?  What if I end up landing the perfect-for-me job at a newspaper and I end up not even needing that degree?  What if the book(s) I write take off and I end up traveling and speaking? 

What if?

I've finally come up with the answers to those questions:  I will be a caretaker/reporter/author/speaker/traveler with a degree.

Today I'm taking that first step.

I've got my back-to-school outfit all picked out....

It's a good thing that my first class is online.  The other college kids might make fun of my jammies.

 And my designed-for-comfort footwear. 

Because, you know, I am a non-traditional student.  Proof is right there on my left foot. 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Turkey and Cheese Love

 This is a repeat post from last year.  
This summer looks pretty similar, minus a couple of details here, sprinkling a few over there, still packing lunches and spending hours on end at the ballpark.
Hope you are enjoying your summer. 
Thanks for stopping by and visiting me here at Write-On, Mom!  

Nothing says "I love you" like a turkey & cheese sandwich with mayo and mustard.

Or so I'm told.

The Wildcat has been putting in 40 hours a week at his summer job.  He leaves there and heads off to baseball every night.  He dresses for three teams.

I'm sorta proud of this kid.

Earlier this month, I told him I would pack him a cooler and drop it off to him.  I did exactly that.  When I approached the dugout he looked at me like "what are you doing here?" 

Not the reaction I had hoped for.  I handed him his lunch and walked away.  And held back my tears.

The next game I did the same thing.

And the next game.

And the next.

His reaction quickly changed over the course of the month.  And I actually got a "Thanks, mama. I love you."

Did you read that?

He said it.  In the dugout.  With team and coaches present.  

I handed him his cooler and walked away.  And held back my tears.

Yesterday the Wildcat told me that in between games, one of his teammates said "Nathan, your mom must love you."

"Why's that?" he wondered.

"She always makes you a big lunch for your games."

"Ya.  She does."

Be still my heart....I do.

I'm adding this to my "Mama Bible":   
And this is how you will know thy mama's love for you:
 by the contents of thy lunchbox
Which overfloweth with Turkey and Cheese
PB & J
Fruit Snacks, Gatoraide 
All of that
and a bag of chips


Monday, June 2, 2014

New Role, New Student and Newly Signed

So there's alot going on behind the scenes here at Write-On, Mom!.

In the last few weeks, I signed on for some new responsibilities at work, I signed up for some new classes in college and.....I signed a contract to write a book.

Allow me to expand:

New Responsibilities:  No secret I am a licensed massage therapist practicing at the Wilton Chiropractic Clinic.  Recently our office manager retired.  I am not the new office manager.  But I am taking on some of her responsibilities alongside my massage work that I do there. 

New Classes:  I write for the QC Times.  And I love it.  I am not on staff but on a work-for-hire basis there.  Someday it would be great if I were on staff there.  I asked my editor a few questions and he let me know that even though I have the bylines, in 5 years if I want to contend with the others applying for staff positions, it would do me well to take some courses in multi-media journalism.  So I am.

Newly Signed:  Last week I signed a contract to write a book. 
I've been writing newspaper and magazine articles for years...and books that mostly exist in my head for years.  But this book isn't in my's in someone elses!  I'm a ghostwriter.  I'll be putting pen to someone else's story. Sounds kinda creepy.  But I'm officially a "ghost." 


Dear Blog Readers,  You have told me time and time again that I put words to your emotions.  QC Times subjects have told me that I have put words to their thoughts.  And even people that I have taken sports and wedding photos for have told me how I have been able to capture their story. 

Now I will be capturing another's a. book.

Big deal to me. 

I feel like going out to buy a new backpack. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Son Still Wants to be Spider-man When He Grows Up

So the Wildcat still wants to be Spider-man when he grows up.

He's wanted to be this species of super-hero ever since he was like four.

This hasn't changed.

He still laughs in the face of danger, pretends to sling his web at people or situations that seem to warrent a good web-slinging, (sound effects and all) and insists that any bug bite, bruise or welt is a spider-bite intended to increase his super powers.

(I admit that I may have entertained this thought when undergoing a bone marrow biopsy a couple of years bad)

The only thing that has changed is his age, size and voice.

He's 17, barely fits in his own bed, and when he says "mama, can you sing me 'sunshine'?" as a bedtime song, it sounds exactly the same except that his voice is like way, way lower.  And I can tell that he needs to shave.  

I love how some things never change. 

It's probably good that his 17-year-old Spider-man personality also sees fit to aspiring to be involved with the Senate, Congress, Education, Business, and Government.

Spid-ey characteristics probably would work well with any of these things....just not a BOX to check or MAJOR or MINOR or even a CERTIFICATE when planning a college career.

Perhaps that change is in the works.

But for now, since I haven't seen evidence of spidey-traits being publicly recognized....AND after talking with his sisters, it is clear that I need to talk to him about how pretend-web-slinging is not a good defensive driving technique.

Because not everyone understands and is ready for Spider-man to be driving his sisters to school.

(Or attending college.)

In case you were wondering what Spiderman looks like, here are a few then and now shots:

Christmas 2008
Jr. High Football

Reading Names of WWII Veterans at Memorial Day Services

Spidey with his mama.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

And a word about childhood BFFs

It's May 18th.  I don't notice the date right off the bat. 

I notice that it is Sunday.

I'm having my coffee, watching the Food Network and browsing ads. 

But it just feels like something, something, about this date is not right.

Am I forgetting something? 

And then I see the date at the top of the paper. 

May 18, 2014.

It's Marnie's Birthday.  OF COURSE!

Marnie is my childhood "BFF."  Best friends forever. childhood goes, my very first BFF. 

But Marnie.

My very first BFF.  Slumber parties.  Trying to match clothes.  Nick-names.

It all comes back when I think of my very first Best Friend Forever. 

My 1st BFF is one of 4 sisters.  So slumber parties with just her actually looked more like a party with each sister inviting a friend to spend the night.

One of the sisters and her friends would lead "dance parties" when there was absolutely "NO NON-MOVEMENT ALLOWED."  If you had to pee, a witness had to be present to make sure your feet were still moving. 

I remember dancing the night away to Jessie's Girl.  It was a record.  Played over and over. 

"Haunted tours" were led and attended by many a sister-and-friends" in the dark.  We would hang on to a rope and be led around the house and outside the house, in the dark. 

Crushes were not only discussed, but prank called....during a time when there was no blocking your number, and 10 times out of 10, you would have to ask the parent answering the phone to speak with said crush. 

"Do you like 'so-and-so?' she wants to have your children.'"  Some times, some "friends" would not wait for the "crush" to get on the phone.  Parents were horrified.  Thank goodness for no "caller ID."  

My BFF and I really wanted to be blood sisters.  So did some of her sisters and friends.  But we were all afraid of blood and skin-pricking and all of that. 

So we became "fire-sisters." 

As I look back, I wonder how that is better.  A bunch of us standing around and joining our lit matches in "ceremony" does not actually sound safer. 

But so. very. 1980's', with a flair of "Stand by Me" and "The Sandlot." 

My childhood BFF moved away after middle school.  Probably 30 miles away.  Not a lot by today's standards.  You pretty much have to drive 30 miles or 30 minutes to get anywhere you wanna go.  

But during a time when 30 miles meant "long distance," "new school," and BFFs. 

Facebook didn't exist.  Cell phones were actually carried around in their own bags and not a given for most families in Iowa.

30 years ago, 30 miles may as well have been a million.

But today, as I think about what is missing, 30 years feels like yesterday.

And yet I still feel connected.

A bond that was unique to childhood BFFs will always belong to childhood BFFs.  I know that today because I can't drink my coffee and read the paper without wondering...."is something missing?"

I'm thankful today for facebook, the world-wide-web, the community that can be created virtually. 

But I'm also thankful for the times when we were kids.  When every moment could not be captured by the lens of a camera, but only by the lens of the mind. A time that can not be recreated. 

A time when "fire sisters" was not a term relegated to pyromaniacs, but just friends who stood outside a stable wanting to have an official initiation into a club that could never again be recreated. 

A time for me, as mama, hope that my own kids will have with their own childhood BFFs.  Not one that was captured by camera, by status update, or by cellphone.

But a time that can only truly be remembered because of the heart.  

A bond between childhood BFFs. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Movie-Screen Motherhood & Facebook Statuses

I'm not gonna lie.

If you are stopping by here to read my story, of motherhood, of the writing life, of whatever....I can only assume that you are related to me.

Or that you can relate to me.

And I mean no offense either way. But let's face own story is not one that will make the movie screen.

I used to wish that it would.  That mamas everywhere would be just so interested in my motherhood story that they invite me to come, expenses paid, to visit with their group and want to buy my book.

And not to say that I wouldn't have a story to share in public or a book to sell....but I am a REAL mama.

I have REAL kids.

And our lives, as they are now, are not going to end up on a movie screen or some best-selling story. Not to say that they couldn't.  But that isn't our goal.

Allow me transition this post to facebook statuses....

I have recently been "nominated" on FB to share my favorite bible verse...and why...twice.

So I did.  I picked a new one each time.  Not because I am wishy-washy in this type of thing....but it is honestly hard to pick a favorite bible verse for me.

That is only because I have had seasons of life where one just "fits."

But for the sake of the now and this post...I shared Matthew 25:40:

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

And I shared Psalm 107:2a:
Let the redeemed of the Lord say this....

Both verses speak to me.  In the same way that God sometimes uses nature to speak to some, or another person to speak to another....I'm not one to judge that sort of thing.

But God speaks to me through "story."

And these two verses remind me to share my story.  (Let the redeemed of the Lord "share their story")  And not in a way that means movie screens and manuscripts.  But for the ONES (whatever you did for "one....")

My story is Motherhood.  And I'm proud of that story.  God gave me this story.  And it isn't an easy one.

But I'm eternally grateful for the storyline. 

I supposed, as a writer, I am trained to look at each storyline differently.  And as a mama...that is the way it is supposed to be.

Each day is a new page to write on.

And each child has their own "book."

It is a privilege to be called to contribute to each page of each child, no matter how insignificant any particular page may appear at first. 

But I am getting to that stage of motherhood where all of those diaper changes, laundry issues, and chicken nugget lunches just feel different.

These are not the movie-screen-things you typically see in the life of "motherhood."

But they are real.

Real. Life.

And it does lead to somewhere.

That's why I love the bible verses I shared, I guess.

Can I rant in italics?

So my calling in life
thus far
to take care
and diaper, feed, raise you
to pray over and for you
to help you to find your own purpose.....

....has been my purpose.

I love my purpose.

But I know that my purpose will never actually
get me farther in the world
as far as profiting from it
in word
or byline recognition
(which is where I'm at right now)

But that is okay.
Because it doesn't matter to me if I 
anyone else 
if I cannot use my own storyline to 
be there for my own kids.

to tell my own kids
that if their own 
"lines in a story"
that fill their own blank pages
doesn't sound interesting

if the blank pages 
that are yours to fill
would be anything less that the
that you want to write
with your life


Storylines may change.
But you
fill the blank pages.

get to be a character 
in your story.

An honor.
A credit.
But not the storyline for you.....

...just me.

I really need to edit this post to make sure that it includes my kids that aren't really my kids.  I know that I am not qualified to be the "mama" character in your own stories.  But I am right there in your stories and I pray for you. I support you in ways that are unseen.  

And I will continue to do that.  

Because you deserve it and I am called to it.

are a part of 
my story

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Because it's a Dream

I have dreams.  Lots of them. 

Some of them goals.  Things I am actively striving for. 

The steps may appear small, but this day (week/year)'s outcome is far more than it was a year ago. 

 And those are just my personal dreams and goals.  They are meant for later.  After the work I am doing now. 

And that work right now, quite honestly, means everything to me. 

They are not "ideas" I hope to build on for later. 

They are what my heart beats for right now.

Yesterday, I came face-to-face with what my work could lead to.  Deep down, it was emotional for me, it was something I just wanted to stop, and it included some hard conversations that I just did not want to have.

But the day happened.  So did some conversations.  And I realized, as hard as this is, it is something that I should be proud of.

Took the Wildcat on a college visit. 

The college is great.  It is the perfect fit for a university in the specific area and the things he is looking for in a college.

He wants to be in the political arena.  This college is in the same city as our state's capital.

He wants to incorporate actual class time and experience at the same place.  He gets that even in the first semester at this college.

So let's say he changes his mind in the first year.  So what...everyone does.  This college curriculum is set up for students to figure this out sooner rather than later.  

But let's say he doesn't.  Not only does he know what he thinks he knows....he actually knows more.

I'm gonna go with the idea that everything he has learned in every step of his life is leading him to this step in choosing a college major.  Without coercion, he wants to make a difference in the political arena. 

I've seen him.  I've seen what he does and what he loves.  I can make that observation better than anyone.

I've toured the college with him.

I experienced the sale's pitch.

And I followed up with questions.

So here we are with a goal.

On our ride home from the college we spoke of every good,every bright, every bad, every ugly thing.  

And we decided.  From here on out...on every college visit, we are aware of all that we like about this college.  Every other place will probably be held up to the plumb line set yesterday.  That is okay. 

We decided...that every scholarship application was no longer just a blind stab in the dark.  This was the goal the Wildcat is shooting for. 

That goal does have a dollar amount attached to it now.  That is okay.  Maybe that is better. 

But the goal involves even more than that. 

It involves a commitment.  Something we have talked about many times before now.  But now the end of "the now"(which is not the end...just a transition) has a name as well.

It's something I try hard to instill with all of my kids, but somehow it means more when you are in high school.

The speech goes something like this: 

So hey....where do you want to be a couple of years from now?  Or four?  
Here?  There?   In the capital building?  Married?  Thinking about getting married? 
All of that is great.  I see you there too.  
I can't control what you do.  
I used to.
I used to monitor every TV show you watched.  
I used to have to sign off on your homework every single night.
I used to show up in your classroom to volunteer and it was never seen as anything but 'ok.'
But you are  17. (or 15, 13, 11)
You pretty much do what you want to do (not completely, specially the youngers...but I only say that publicly because I know you are a good kid...)

So here's my advice:

Where do you see yourself?  

Two years?  Four Years?  even Ten Years?

Picture it.  All.  
 Not just professional, but personal, too.  

It's all probably a big dream.  
But now is the time to take steps towards those dreams.

I can't always tell you how to get there.

But I can tell you this:  

Take every choice to heart today.
When you are faced with a decision or choice,
Weigh it against your goals and dreams.
Is it a choice that could hinder any of that? 
Could that choice prohibit your goals/dreams?
Could it make any explanation awkward later in life? 
Then make your choice based on that.

Your dreams are big. 
So is your faith.
And so is my faith in both.
Make your decisions today based on your goals for tomorrow.  
Don't hope that you never have regrets...
Plan on not having them. 

God is who He says He is and can make good out of anything.
But you are smart and responsible and a leader.
That is your giftedness.
You are expected to use your giftedness.

And who am I?
Just mama...

So now we have a goal.  A place.  And a price.  
I'm trusting 
and doing everything I can to help make that dream come true.  

Because that is what mama does.  
...taking my responsibility seriously
in encouraging you in yours.
Your mama loves you
every step of the way.