Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Can I say HELLACIOUS on here?

Yes? No?

Cause that is the kind of evening I've had.

This morning I drove Kayla to school and then ended up at Wal-Mart by 8:00. I was feeling pretty good about that, assuming that I would beat the crowd by arriving so early.

Turns out the other 20 people in the store were all in the same checkout line as I. Apparently Wal-Mart stays open 24 hours, but doesn't find it necessary to actually STAFF their store adequately the whole time. Now if I'd been there at, say, 3 in the morning, I could understand there only being one checkout line open. But at 8:00?

I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, while I was unloading groceries, I noticed one of my tires was low. Now my husband thinks I am paranoid about my tires being low, but this one was FLAT. I know because the little color gauge on the air thingy was red instead of green. And also, it was pretty much deflated - definitely not just my flat tire paranoia surfacing. And, upon closer inspection, I found the slit in the tire.

No problem. I will not panic. Sure the husband is gone for the week, but I have another vehicle and a teenage son that can help when he gets home from wrestling practice. He even has buddies that will help. Right? I'm sure to get this tire taken care of tonight, and if not, there's always the jeep. The mustang is parked in the airport parking lot, 45 miles away or we'd have TWO vehicles to fall back on. But, SURELY Blake and I can manage to share ONE vehicle (gasp) for 3 days. Right?

Well, the idea of having to share a vehicle with me for 3 days was enough to motivate Blake to get busy changing that tire, with the help of his friend Cody. When I tried to say "Look, this is not an emergency, we have another vehicle. We can make do and everybody will still get to where they need to be," You'd have thought I was beating him with a chair. I see a lecture in his future. I am already planning it in my mind.

"Mom, we can do this. Just don't be checking in on us."

"Fine. I'll be inside. Just don't let that van fall on your heads. And if it does, don't come crying to me..."

Inside is where I needed to be helping Kayla with her Social Studies project (a time capsule) and where I needed to be making the chicken enchiladas I had PROMISED her I'd make for dinner, thus the need to go to Wal-Mart this morning. Amid the search for the perfect time capsule and items to go in it, neighbor children kept coming by to deliver the cookie dough I'd purchased for the school fundraiser. Good Lord. Did I buy from EVERY BODY'S child?

Anybody need cookie dough?

I finally decided to take a quick walk to clear my head. As soon as I walked out the door, the boys gave me a look. You know, a look that said "Don't even ask." "I'm just taking a walk, I'm not saying a word," I told them. After a quick mile, I returned home and chatted with my neighbor in her driveway. I told her I was concerned because the boys were changing my tire and I hear lots of hammering.

I don't think you're supposed to need a hammer while changing a tire.

Are you?

Of course, it wasn't a hammer, it was the lug nut wrench they were using as a hammer to try to loosen the spare.

That made me feel much better.

Still I went inside to try to decide just how much time to give them to finish the job. Or completely total my van, whichever came first. And also to check on Kayla and her time capsule. And to put another bucket of cookie dough in the freezer.

The next time I looked out, Cody's dad was under the van.

Now I'm really embarrassed. I went out and said "You know, this could have waited. I absolutely did not mean for them to call you." And he, being the kind, chivalrous man that he is, said "No problem at all. You can call any time you need something like this." And I said "Well, it probably was time for somebody to step in because I didn't think they should be hammering on anything under there." And he said "No. Hammering definitely isn't called for when changing a tire." And the boys just looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders.

So he proceeded to guide his son and mine in changing the tire.

In the meantime I have allowed Kayla to become weak with hunger. There were no chicken enchiladas for supper. I tossed Blake some money and said "Treat Cody to dinner. I appreciate your help, guys. Oh, and Cody can you drive?" and loaded Kayla into the jeep to buy her supper at Panda Express, her absolute favorite place in the whole world.

As we passed the van in the driveway, she said "That spare looks pathetic. Now our van looks ghetto."

So I was just wondering.

Can I say HELLACIOUS on here?

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I ask him to follow me.

After keeping his grandparents' van in our garage for a week, it was time to take it back to the parking lot to which they would be returning late tonight after a bus trip to Texas. I would drive the van, park it, and then hop in the jeep to pick up his sister. Always picking up. Always dropping off. This is my phase of life.

We are at a stoplight and I look in the rear view mirror.

There he is in the vehicle behind me, sitting taller behind the wheel even than his dad; red hair spiky and disheveled in the just-grown-out-buzz-cut look. He has left two buddies at home playing x-box to help me with this errand. He's like this when Dad's gone - solicitous, chivalrous, protective, responsible. And funny. Always funny.

Suddenly, I have about two blocks to pull myself together. One look in the rear view mirror and I am a puddle of goo in my in-laws mini van. His life, my life, becomes an instant movie in my heart. His life as viewed in a rear view mirror. Scenes from a car seat.

The rear facing infant car seat that appeared empty the first couple of weeks, because he was too tiny for his head or feet to show out of either end. Then catching glimpses of the top of his head, in that same car seat, covered with just a little bit of red fuzz; and the tips of his toes, clad in tiny socks and soft baby shoes.

The front facing car seat where I could watch him as he watched passing cars, played with a toy, drank from a sippy cup, pointed out diggers and dumpers, looked at his baby sister. The days I became adept at driving with one arm twisted behind me; picking up dropped toys, handing back suckers from the bank, passing out french fries. The days where errands were never a quiet affair. Squabbles. Questions. Why? Can I? What's that? Giggles. Tears. Long days.

No car seat. Nothing but long legs twisted at odd angles as he tries to get comfortable in the back seat. Size 13 high tops sticking up in odd places. Disheveled hair (always) as he leans back against the head rest, sleeping. Always sleeping on a family trip.

And now, a SEPARATE vehicle. Driving behind me. Following me. Pitching in.

I get behind the wheel of the jeep and resist the urge to turn the radio down.

I have to move the seat forward. HOW? HOW did he get so tall? Could he be six foot already? I think he is. I should measure him tonight. He'll love that.

"Mom, I'm going to church with Jake tonight. I'll be home by 9. " And out the door he goes, size 13's jumping off the porch, spiky hair still going every which way. "Love you Mom."

Always the "Love you , Mom" even when his buddies are here.

Blessed. I'm so blessed.

Long days. Short years.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Last night I decided to take a break from making change for swindlers (see previous post) and wander into the hallway to get a little fresh air. The gym was quite hot and stuffy so I left my husband with the cash box to sit on the steps in the cool hall way.

I had just gone into the school office to purchase a book, DREAM SEASONS; by Scott Wentworth and J. Thomas McNamara. It's a nice little book about the dual championship our high school earned last year in football and basketball. I doubt it will be a New York Times best seller, but what a great memento for the community, especially for the players and their parents. Many thanks to the men who took the time to capture this history making year in book form.

As I sat on the steps with my book, I did what I usually do first with books like this. I flipped to the photo section. I love photos. Especially photos that capture emotion. You can be sure there was a lot of emotion captured between the covers of this book.

One photo I keep coming back to is of my favorite player, Dustin. They call him D-Moe. I've mentioned him before. What an incredible young man. What an incredible role model for younger kids. He was such a positive influence on my son, on everybody, while he was in high school. And I'm not just talking about sports. He has to be one of the most respectful, diligent, friendly, humble young men I have ever met. EVER.

He is a gentle giant.

The caption by his photo, taken during a basketball game says:

As a defensive and rebounding specialist, Dustin M_ _ _ _, typified the Trojans' acceptance of their roles. Despite being a starter, Dustin took fewer than three shots a game in 2006-2007. "The whole team accepted their roles to perfection," (one coach) says of the Trojans.

This caption describes Dustin so well. At 6 foot 5 inches tall and 260 pounds, according to the football roster; I'm sure this young man is quite intimidating on the football field. I am sure if I had to face him in any competition, I'd simply put my hands up in the air and say "look, fella, I don't want any trouble. Just take the ball. It's yours. Ok? Are we cool?"

And the ease and finesse with which he moved on the basketball court was always a surprise, considering his size.

I'm not an expert on sports but I know enough to know that I would certainly not want to be the man in Dustin's path on the football field. If his job is to move you out of the way so his teammate can score, he WILL move you out of the way. Over and over again. And if his job was to stop you from scoring he, along with his fellow linemen WOULD stop you from scoring. Sometimes even if you only had one yard to go. With 3 attempts. Really. We saw it happen.

And in basketball, if his job is to rebound the ball, or steal the ball, he WILL rebound the ball and steal the ball. Over and over again.

In both sports, his job is NOT to score. His job is to make sure his teammates score. The ones who have THAT role. Doing his job so well, despite the fact that he was not a headliner, gave him a fantastic reputation in the sports pages, in the school hallways, and in the community.

So all this to say; I cannot get this caption out of my head "....accepted their roles to perfection."

What is my role? Am I accepting it to perfection?

Probably not, since right now I cannot seem to define my role. Oh, I know I am a wife and mother, daughter and friend, Bible class teacher and school volunteer. DAUGHTER OF CHRIST. But what am I DOING with my role? How am I EMBRACING my role? How am I, for lack of a better word showcasing my role? How am I going to use my role to shine a light?

How do I know what my gifts are? How do I know how to use those gifts to glorify Christ, to set an example for my children so that they will one day use their own gifts to glorify Christ?

My prayer of late is that God will open my eyes, my heart, my spirit, to the knowledge of what my role is; and that He will enable me to embrace that role, ACCEPTING IT TO PERFECTION so that I may touch hearts.

Even just one heart.

Monday, October 15, 2007


To THE spectator at the Junior High Girls Basketball Game (You know who you are)

First, thanks for coming out to support your very special player. Our girls need our support. All kids need a cheerleader. We were thrilled to host you this evening, along with all the other visitors. Especially since you had to drive over an hour. In the Rain.


Please remember that we are a small school in a tiny town. But you are a small school too, or you wouldn't be playing against us. Remember, the town you were in this evening does not even have a traffic light. Seriously, it has a cafe that closes at 2 in the afternoon, one gas station, and one questionable little "greasy spoon." Oh and a tavern.

So why, may I ask, did you think it was a good idea to show up at the door to pay admission to a JUNIOR HIGH GIRLS BASKETBALL GAME, where there were probably 75 people in attendance, and hand me a HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL? Did you think for a moment that you were at Madison Square Garden? Is that why you acted all surprised that I couldn't make change for you.

I have a sneaking suspicion that you were hoping I'd say "Oh, I can't make change for that. Just go on in with no charge." Well, fella, I was on to you. That is why I handed that HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL right back to you and said "I'm going to send my husband down to get more bills so we can break that for you. I'll find you in the stands in a few minutes so we can take care of this." After all, it WAS $14 you owed us for your two adult admissions and 4 student admissions. I don't set the prices. I just take the money on my appointed day.

So when you came back down the bleachers and said to me "How much did you say that was again?" and I said "Fourteen Dollars" and you said "Oh, I have that with me," I was a LIT.TLE suspicious.

And then when I had to take the bills back to the other cash box from which my husband had borrowed; the ladies there heard my story and said "Sounds like someone was hoping to get in for free." And I said "AH! HA! I thought so too. " I couldn't prove it, of course, but I was just picking up a bad vibe, you big spender you.

So, Sir, may I suggest you take that hundred dollar bill to a bank, or even a grocery store and have them break it into smaller bills for you? That way you won't be tempted to try to swindle anybody else.

If that doesn't appeal to you, may I suggest another place for you to put it?

Thank You.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Those of you who have little ones who still snuggle in your laps for stories, do you have Little New Kangaroo by Bernard Wiseman and illustrated by Theresa Burns?
If not, please pick it up the next time you are at the library or the book store.

It is about a baby kangaroo who is riding around in his mama's pouch and, every time he spots a friend, he offers them a ride. By the end of the story, mama is carrying a koala, a bandicoot, a wombat and a platypus, along with her own baby. Each page shows mama getting more and more tired; until she eventually drops them all off at their homes for bedtime.

It was one of our kids' favorite stories and still sits on the bookshelves in our basement where the treasured children's books remain because I could not part with them.

I always told the kids I could relate to mama kangaroo because it seemed our mini van kept filling up with children. No matter where we stopped, there were more children getting in or out than had been there originally. No kidding, sometimes I feel a little worried if I only have 1 or 2 kids in the van.

Well just now I heard a reporter on Animal Planet say this about kangaroos: Most of a kangaroo's waking moments are spent searching for or eating food. At least this week I have related to that because it has been, well, a bad week to be a woman. You know, one of those weeks where it is best to avoid the kitchen if you can or you might just open the bottle of Hershey's syrup, tilt your head back and chug-a-lug like a football player drinking Gatorade.

OK, that never happened. Seriously, it didn't. I just thought about it.

Or you might stop at Mrs. Fields to pick up a few cookies FOR THE CHILDREN and end up eating two before they come home from school. That's all I'm going to say about that.

I KNEW Mama Kangaroo touched me in a peculiar way. I KNEW there was some connection there that went way beyond a simple children's story. Now when somebody asks me "If you could be any animal, what would you be?" I know how to answer.

Kangaroo. Definitely a kangaroo.

Friday, October 05, 2007


So last week was parent/teacher conference week at our kids' schools.

We usually go together but, because this has been an excruciatingly hectic time for our family, we parents split up. My husband went to our son's conferences Thursday night because he had to be at the high school anyway. I went to our daughter's Friday morning.

I always get a good report on our daughter. A sampling of comments from teachers:

- If all my students could be like her, it would be great.

- She is so fun, but also a hard worker.

- She is going to do so well in high school. She wants to succeed.

- I just LOOOOVE having her in class.

I always end the meeting with each teacher by asking "And her behavior? Is she respectful and cooperative in class?" And they always say "Oh my, yes."

And that means more to me than her straight A's.

The general consensus from our son's teachers:

If he tried a little harder, he could be a straight A student. He doesn't work to his potential but he really is a fun, respectful kid.

And again we always ask the question "Any behavior problems? Is he respectful.?" You know? just to clarify things.

And they say "Oh yeah, he's great. I really enjoy his personality."

It has always really bothered us that our son does not do better in school. Not because we expect perfection, but because we expect our kids to work to their fullest potential. We simply cannot comprehend NOT putting forth your best effort in school.

But I have come to terms with his B/C average because I have learned that perhaps he is working to his fullest potential in one regard; and that is to show the character and values we have tried to impart to him. At least most of the time.

When he was in sixth grade his teacher explained to me that she had to move our son's seat and she wanted to clarify that it was not because he was misbehaving. It was because he was the only kid in the class she could trust to sit by the boy whom nobody liked. He was the only one that tolerated him and showed a little kindness and compassion to him. I told him that meant more to me than if he received straight A's.

And so yesterday when my husband reported the same old thing "he could be a straight A student if he tried, but every one of the teachers loves him and says he's respectful and lots of fun..." I didn't feel the familiar twinge of frustration that I usually feel at conference time. Instead I just told myself "Character counts for something."

For now I have called a truce in the battle for good grades, which in this case is the battle to work to one's fullest potential. I will not wave the white flag in this battle. But I have decided to lay down my arms for a time and choose to focus on another battle we parents fight daily.

The battle to build character, impart values, turn our children into decent, pleasant members of society. Because at this point in life, I am seeing more success in that battle than in the grade/potential battle. Like all parents, there are moments I slap my forehead and ask the good Lord above "Will I EVER get them raised?" There are times when I am so completely floored by his (lack of) logic, and his outrageous requests, that I actually throw my hands in the air and say "NYAAAAAAAH!"

Each of my children has heard me say to them "I have to choose my battles. Well I CHOOSE this battle and you WILL NOT WIN," when dealing with certain situations. I choose to fight the battle of potential. At a later date. I choose to fight the battle of character daily - minute by minute, hour by hour. Because, in the end, this has been my j0b - to raise these two kids into people that others enjoy, people that love other people. In the end, the grades on a junior high or high school report card, are NOT what are shaping them into the people they are destined to become. Am I making excuses? Maybe. Am I shirking my responsibility? Maybe. But I think I'm just trying a different approach, hoping that if I lay off, the good grades will appear to be his idea and suddenly look more appealing and attainable.

For now, I am going to allow myself the small pleasure of enjoying the fact that the teachers at
our schools like my kids.
Cause I kinda do too.