Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mom/Travel Agent

I remember the first time I let the kids walk to the library by themselves. We used the "Dora the Explorer" method for remembering the route.  You know how she would list the landmarks she would see on her way to her destination? We did the same thing.

Go past Grandma's
Past the school
and right at the library!
Say it with me now:
Grandmas, School, Library!

If you have no idea what I am talking about when I mention geography according to Dora, then I may sort of envy you. But it was an effective way for the kids to remember the directions to the library. And other than looking both ways before crossing the street, there wasn't really too much to worry about in letting the kids walk to the library by themselves.

Tomorrow I'll be sending Nathan off an another adventure of his own. It's a little bit farther than going to the library.

I'm writing this blogpost from a hotel that is just across the street from the St. Louis International Airport. Nathan has an awards banquet tonight for the National Council on Youth Leadership here in St. Louis. And tomorrow morning I will put him on an airplane, so he can make an interview that he has tomorrow in Des Moines. He has a change-over in Chicago.

Somehow the Dora method for giving directions for airport security and flying and changing planes isn't quite the same as walking past grandma's house and turning at the elementary school.

We sort of had to put all these plans together at the last minute. When he won a scholarship for this trip to St. Louis, he didn't know that he would be granted an interview for the Page Program the next day. So I've been playing the role of travel agent in trying to coordinate all of the details and make it as simple as it possibly can be.  Since for much of it, I won't actually be there with him.  

I suppose I always have been sort of a travel agent with my kids. 

I've spent their entire lives helping them to prepare for a world outside of our home and for experiences that are new. 

I've tried to warn them of hazards that may come about. Potential detours. Things they may encounter. 

Up until now, the world outside of our home still included the comfort of our school and community. Home outside of our home was still home. 

And I'm not waving and watching the kids ride their bikes down the block. I'll be seeing them off at the security check-points at an airport and waving goodbye as they fly away to the next adventure. 

Hopefully, through the years, I've been a decent enough travel agent. We are a long way past grandmas and the library.

Monday, October 13, 2014

He Cared

Growing up in and living in a small town has it's strengths and has it's drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is small-town gossip. People seem to think they know more about you than they do, because they heard something from so-and-so who had such-and-such thing to say and then an opinion based on the so and such.

The strength that can come from this drawback is that every once in a while, a friend, neighbor or acquaintance will come alongside you when life is rough, even though you did not say anything to ask for that help.

I have found both of these things to be true in my church and in my community. But when the negative side happens in the church, it speaks louder than when it happens in the community. The same can be said for when the positive happens in the community. It tends to speak louder than the church.

A wonderful man in the community that I live in passed away last night.

I have known who he was for years. I wrote for the local paper and he would always tell me how he would clip and share my columns with others. When we ran into each other around town somewhere, he would ask what the next story I was working on was. He would encourage me to keep sharing these stories.

When I divorced, I moved my family into a small condominium that was located in the same neighborhood. When the weather was good for the windows to be open, not a day went by when I did not hear him singing or whistling.  And when I would see him, he would ask me if everything was ok.

And he always asked when he would be reading the next article or column that I wrote.

I had stopped writing for the local paper when I was going through my divorce. I believed it would be a temporary thing. But in the end, it turned out to be permanent. But that did not stop my neighbor from encouraging me to write.

So I did.

As it turned out, he followed the things I wrote in the larger paper that I had freelanced for. His comments always came in between a song he was singing whenever he ran in to me. And they always came with a question about how I was doing.

Not because he was a nosey neighbor, but because he cared.

I never got the impression that he thought any different of me from when I was married to when I was divorced. That was not the norm for the impression I got from people in my community who knew me pre and post marriage.

Whatever he may have been thinking, I could tell without a doubt, that he cared. That is why he asked. That is why he wanted to continue reading things I wrote. Because he cared.

My heart goes out to his family today as they mourn the loss of a great man. My prayers are with you.

I know his legacy will go far beyond what I say in the two little words here, but to me, I will always remember how:

He Cared.

R.I.P. Leo

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

14 Reasons Why I Love my Claire-Bear

Happy Happy Birthday my sweet Claire Bear!

When I asked you what you wanted to do and what you wanted for your birthday, you were very specific.

But not in a demanding way at all. You know what you like to eat, you know what you are saving up money for, you know who your favorite super-hero is, and you know that you wanted to have a conversation with me under the influence of helium.

So, in honor of your 14th birthday, I'd like to share 14 reason why I LOVE LOVE LOVE you.

1.  You are funny AND practical. See the note above about wanting helium-filled balloons. I can't wait to smurf-chat with you later tonight.

2.  You are not afraid to be who you are. You are at an age where so many try so hard to blend in with others around them. Not you. You don't care if you are a leader or a follower. You are you. And that is good enough. I could really really do better in life if I followed this example more.

3.  You are a young lady of few words. But the words you do want to say mean something. You are funny in a quiet way. You share your thoughts in words in a quiet way. The BEST birthday gift I ever received from you was a free pass to ask you any question I wanted and you would answer in the time it took me to pick you up from track practice to get home. Needless to say, I took a few extra left turns. You really do make me dig for information from you. But I still love that about you.

4.  You challenge me to dig deeper. I sometimes do have to wonder what you are thinking and feeling. (as opposed to some of your siblings!)Those thoughts and feelings are important. You challenge me to dig deeper than I would have to with your siblings in order to get to the bottom of your day. I am a better mom because of that. I am a better person because of that.

5.  You build other people up. Your siblings may think that your natural bent is to....i don't know...take advantage of them. It's funny, really. Because I know that your natural bent is really that you see the good and the talent in those around you and you don't try to out-shine them. You recognize them for the good and the talent you see. You know that deep down, it makes others feel good about themselves to be able to showcase their own strengths.

6.  I hear about you showcasing your talents from others...And this is never in a show-y way. I love how you humbly accept recognition from others.

7.  You are not afraid of hard work. You don't pretend to like it...but you are not afraid of it. You go to the school with your brother to shoot hoops and get in extra practice. During the summer, you would run while I tried to keep up with my bike. I think you like blending the family time with the extra work it takes to get better at what you do. I like it too.

8.  Speaking of hard work...you are not afraid to come in second.  Last year you played the B-squad on your basketball team. And you did great. You worked hard. And at the awards ceremony, you were  awarded with both the "most points scored" and the "most breakaways." You beat everyone. But you were only trying to beat your own standards.

9.  Speaking of your own standards...that is what I love about you being in cross country. You are not trying to compete with your own teammates. You are trying to do better on the course this year than you did last year. You are happy when you improve your own time. You are happy when your teammates improve theirs.

10.  I love your eyes. Your heart doesn't always want to tell me what's up, but your eyes give you away every time. Your beauty and intelligence and heart can be revealed through your eyes if anyone were to take the chance to see into them.

11.  Your insecurities. Yes...I love even those things.  Probably because  you try to hide them from the rest of the world. But I see them. I see how you have been studying for the last 364 days for your permit test. I see how you sometimes hesitate.

12.  Your heart for those around you. Even mine. You are sensitive to the feelings of those around you. Like last night, when I asked you to go in to my room to get something I needed....forgetting that  your b-day gift was like RIGHT THERE...you came out and said nothing. Of course I knew right away that you had seen your gift. But you pretended it was okay. You had a heart for the surprise.

13.  Your dreams for the future.  You are not unlike anyone else your age with hopes and dreams and ideas about what you want to be when you grow up.

14.  Your future.  From this moment forward.  I love that the only thing that you care about for making your dreams come true is whether or not God has those same hopes and dreams. You are a better example of this to me than anyone else in the world that I know.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Homecoming, Hope, and Coming Home

It's homecoming week in our small town.

When you grow up in a community like mine, homecoming is about more than a football game, it's about tradition.
My Incredible daughter and Spider-Man son

Kung Fu and Nerd

The kids have themed dress-up days, compete in games, build floats, auction off football jerseys for charity, have a parade, TP classmates' houses...all building up to Friday Night.

Cleaning the TP off the roof and out of the gutters at 5 a.m.

Tonight there will be a parade. Classes will showcase their floats. The high school band will march. Kings and Queens will be crowned.

The football team will warm-up.

I don't know what the pre-game pep talk from the coaches will be like. If it were up to me, I'd say something like this:

It's Homecoming.
Parents, Alumni, Fans and people in our community will gather tonight to support you.
They will be reminiscing about homecoming games past.
They will say things like "back in the day..."
They will watch you keep the Hope and Tradition of Homecoming alive.

For some of you, this will be the last homecoming game you play.
It is not expected to be an easy game.
You are not expected to win.
It's Homecoming.
It's like the Christmas of the Football Season.
Anything can happen.

Someday, years from now, you may forget some of the games you played during your high school career.
But, for good or for bad,
 you will never forget your four Homecoming games.

So no matter what the odds are
or what the scoreboard says
You go out there and make EVERY PLAY 
a memorable one.
Get fired up
Stay fired up
Believe in your own abilities
and those of your teammates.

And someday, when you come back home from wherever you are
You will be the ones in the stands
Reminiscing about the 2014 Homecoming Game
And the Team that YOU were a part of
Reliving the plays you made
The unbelievable field goals
And how 
even though the odds were not in your favor
And "Buried the Bears"

That's my pep talk. I know it's true because I have been there. Not on the football field, but a part of the Wildcat Homecoming traditions. 

24 years ago, my senior class float had this poem and theme:  
For 20 years, Solon rolled like thunder.
In 1990, they'll be 6 feet under.
Burry the Spartans.

We weren't expected to win.
But we did. 
And we are still talking about it today.
It's a great story to re-tell.

Wildcats--Make tonight's game a GREAT Story to Re-tell!

Go Cats!