Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Random Thoughts of Thankfulness

It's my Thanksgiving tradition to post my list of random thoughts of thankfulness. If I were really good about this sort of thing, I would put in writing something that I am thankful for every day.

But I'm not. Good at this.

I am, however, extremely thankful for the many wonderful and wild and weird blessings God has given me.

So, in no particular order, my annual list of things I am thankful for:

My job. Actually, jobs. All of them. At times I get overwhelmed feeling like I am going in so many different directions. And this year my jobs have all evolved a little. At the chiro clinic where I work as an LMT, I took on a new role there doing some secretarial things. By "secretarial," I mean I mostly chat with patients in the waiting room. And other things. But I love it and the additional hours there have actually brought me some more massage work.

          
As far as writing goes, I still freelance for the QC Times. I have also taken some sports photos for the Tipton Conservative. AND....I signed a contract over the summer to ghostwrite a book. I am still working on this project. It's probably the biggest writing project I have ever done. Definitely a learning experience. I can't wait to tell you all about it. But for now, I have to keep things kinda quiet! 

Nathan's Shower Playlist: I love it that my son plays his music and sings real loud in the shower every morning. I love it even more that his playlist sounds equal parts like a high school dance and a sunday morning worship service. #heartwarming

Sports: The kids are all involved in sports. And I get to watch them all. All the time. In the past, I might have complained about this, but now that we are starting to experience some "lasts" like senior night and things like that, it is so real how quickly the time goes by. How blessed I am to be able to enjoy this now. 



Traveling: For the short road-trips that I have been able to take with and for my kids and Brian's kids. 



Cheese. Because I love cheese. And it's what you say when you take a picture. 

Photography. Because it is how I like to journal my memories. 

This Crew: who I feel like I just don't deserve. But they all call me "mom." I'm so glad God gave them to me.



Energy Drinks: Specifically the Passion drink from Yoli. If you didn't gather this, we are pretty busy.  A little healthy energy drink goes a long way in my day. 


Other Things I am Thankful For:

The Big Things
The Little Things
Middle School Kids Who Wear Deodorant.
Marz who loves to sing and is always a good friend
Claire who works hard in quiet ways
Tookie who lets me baby her in ways that she is too old for
Nathan who is decided to grow up and move out next month. (Actually he has a job working at the state capitol, which is so cool. and awful.)
Brian who works full time, takes college classes and still makes time to attend things for all of our kids.
Ty who works at the college he graduated from. Making a difference in students' lives.
Brady who moved to K-State, is probably homesick, but does his thing on the track team and in classes. He is going places.
Brinn who is rocking her classes, and the volleyball court. 
Pistachios.
Christmas lights.
Hallmark Movies.
The Real Housewives.
The kids' teachers.
Holly the secretary.
Dove Chocolate.
Red Wine.
New Friends.
Old Friends.
Pretty Chandeliers. 



You. If you are reading this then I want to say that I am thankful for you. I know you don't have to. But you still take the time to follow me here. That's actually an honor to have you here. Thank you.

So my list is not complete and completely random. But that is okay. God says to give thanks in all things ( 1 Thessalonians  5:8)....and that is what this is all about. 

How about you....got any random thoughts of thankfulness you would like to share? I'd love to hear them!


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.
But 
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
THAT WAS THE YEAR
YOU BEAT THE ODDS
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!









Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bullet-Point Journal of the last month

It's not that I can't write in complete sentences and craft intelligent blog posts about what it going on--it's that I don't have time.

I have to save the "complete" and "intelligent" parts for areas beyond the blog.

But for the purpose of memory keeping and sharing with those who follow me here, this is the nutshell of what I have been up to for the last month. Bullet-Point-Style.


  • College. Me--in college. I'm only taking one class this semester and one is enough. I'm doing a lot of writing in this class, which, as you know is what I love. I find the class a tiny bit challenging and a lot-bit nerve wracking. Something about turning a paper in that you have poured emotion into and then edited to suit the assignment for a grade. I have to save most of my "intelligent" energy for this class.
  • College. Nathan applying for college. He is totally sure of where he wants to go. But mom is forcing him to have a backup plan. Plan A is expensive. 
  • Scholarships. Because Plan A is expensive, scholarships need to be applied for. Here he is winning his first one:

He was one of four (out of 114) to win a $500 scholarship and an all-expense paid trip to St. Louis for a "Town Hall Meeting"; another leadership conference which is just sort of right up this kid's alley. He writes speeches at football practice and practices them on the way to the event. He gets just the right amount of nerves. He is a really, really good public speaker.

  • Work. I am still busy working in Wilton. Business is picking up. This is good because we all like to eat.
  • Weight loss. I lost 10 pounds this last month. Kind of crazy, I know. I am working on a writing project for someone who is a Yoli distributor. We made a trade, I got a month supply of products, I lost weight while writing. Yay me!
  • Pictures. Tis the season where I take football photos for the high school football team. I love those Friday Night Lights. I love being able to capture a piece of that for the athletes and families to keep forever. 
  • No weddings. Yet.  Some of you know that last weekend was the "date" that my fiancĂ© and I picked out to tie the knot. We had a little something planned that was supposed to be a surprise to everyone. But it turned out that the surprise was on us. We didn't get married last weekend. 
  • Marz is working.
  • Claire is running cross country.
  • Tookie is playing her first year of junior high volleyball.
  • Nathan is the kicker for football.
  • I love every second of this crazy-busy-bullet-point life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Another LAST First Day

I decided to delete my post from a couple of days ago when I talked about my son's last first day of school.

On Monday, I registered the kids for school.  As I was at the school, signing paper after paper, giving out health information (again), purchasing athletic passes, reading computer forms, paying for lunches and all that happens this time every year for the last 13 years....
...it all became real.

This would be the last time I register my son for school.

Next year, it will be all on him.

Which is another thing.  He's started applying for colleges.  He already has a first choice in schools and a backup-plan if that first choice doesn't work out.  But he is determined to make it all work.

I'd like to make note that this is ALL HIM.  He is determined.  He knows what he wants and where he wants to go.  HE is applying.

While I support him and sob silently in the background.

I'm not sad that he is transitioning from one chapter to the next, and doing an excellent job of it while I try desperately to hold him back  on for a few more minutes.

I'm sad because I feel like I may not have savored every word on every page of every chapter that I have been so blessed to be a part of up till now.  Did I actually wish days away?  What was I thinking?

And not even 24 hours after I signed him up for his last year of high school, he brought home his application for the Iowa Page Program.

You should know that I knew this would happen.  He considered applying for this his junior year, but chose to stay home and be the president of his class and plan a prom.  He wanted to then, but wanted to plan prom too.  So he said, "next year, mama.  Next year."

Now it is next year.




So next week, we will celebrate (or mourn, depending whether or not you are the kid or the mama in this story) another last first day.

I swear, I swear, I will not take a single day of this year for granted.  I will take it all, the hustle, the stress, the everything and savor it.  Or at least I will not wish it away. 

Because for all the time I've invested in these kids....I can see the payoff.  It may have seemed that I demanded a lot from them.  And it's true.  But only because I expect them to be good people.  To love God.  To love each other.  To use the gifts they were each given.  And to let everything else fall into place.  In the process, some things have to fall to the wayside. 

And guess what...sometimes it works out.  I never ever expected anything more than the greatness that is unique to each of my children.  It looks different for them all. 

Which just colors my life.  

Mamas~train you kids to be who they were meant to be and not what anyone else thinks they should be. 
And they just might do it. 

In honor of this new LAST First Day, I'm including a reprint of an article that I wrote and was published several years ago in the Texas Suburban Parent magazine and the Virginia Child Guide.  It is about me sending my youngest off to kindergarten. 

Sigh. 

I miss kindergarten.  And I will forever be thankful for the kind school nurse who gave me a box of tissues and didn't rush me out of kindergarten round-up with mascara running down my face. 

It is no longer my current story.  Just a memory.  One I'm determined to keep alive.  If you care to note, there is a comment about "blinking" and knowing that all of this will fly by.  That's my story now.  No blinking.
The Last First Day
By: Robin Paulsen

I’ve spent the last five years, two months and 25 days in complete denial about the inevitable event that will soon take place in our household. Quite frankly, I’ve refused to even think about this particular topic and have ably dodged the questions regarding it from well-meaning friends and family members.
But now, there is no more denying that the dreaded day is upon me. Maybe it’s upon you as well. I’m talking about the last first day of kindergarten.
My baby, the youngest of four, will soon be skipping off into the land of public education and structure as I smile, wave and tell her to have fun, all the while, suppressing my tears. Because after this day, I will never again have another “first day” of kindergarten. This is the last one. I’ve been around the mother-hood long enough to know all too well that I am going to just blink and she’ll be getting her driver’s license and shopping for prom dresses. I’ll blink again and find her walking across a stage as she accepts her diploma.
That settles it. I’m done with the blinking.
My baby, of course, having watched three older siblings going off to school, has been waiting her whole life for this day. She has practiced all she thinks she needs to know before walking into a classroom. Tying laces, zipping zippers, and reciting her address and phone number are all a breeze for her. She can write her alphabet. The proof is permanent and on our basement wall. And not being satisfied with just saying, recognizing and writing her ABC’s, she has successfully burped her way through the alphabet song. In her mind, this feat must be worth some sort of extra credit.
It’s true that I’m sad. Sad that a chapter of her life is about to come to an end. But I’m also proud of the fact that I get to be her mommy in every chapter of her life.
And to answer all those questions as to my plans for the school year, I’m not sure what that will look like. I’m not quite to that chapter of my life and, right now, I’m content to savor every page of this one.

I do have a couple of predictions, though, on what the last first day will look like for me. I do believe that a staff member of our school will hand me a tissue and escort me off the property. I’ll go home, drink a hot cup of coffee without having to reheat it, use the bathroom without interruption, and perhaps, read an entire magazine article from start to finish.

But I definitely will not blink.