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Showing posts from 2013

December 27,2013: Who's in Charge of the Children?

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I have a confession. Well, technically WE have a confession. Robbie and I weren't being responsible. Once. Just once.

Hmmmm....let's further narrow it down to the holidays. There was this one time over the holidays that Robbie and I weren't exactly responsible. Not horrible, but not our shining moment either.

The Setting:
December of 1989. Apartment living off of 108th and Maple in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Cast of Characters:
Sandy: 22 years; Robbie: days shy of 22 years; Russell: 3 years; Brynnie: 18 months. Scott worked nights at the jail. Robbie went to surgery tech school and lived with Scott & Sandy during the week.

The Story:
It was a very cold early-December Friday night. Robbie and kids decided to stay the night in Omaha. Scott was at work until midnight. I thought writing Christmas cards was a good idea. Robbie agreed.

So we wrapped up the children in their warmest winter-wear and walked across the street to the closest grocer, Albertson's. With Russell and Bryn…

December 25, 2013: The Sounds and Smells of Christmas

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As I read people's Christmas posts and their words of fond holiday stories from years past, I'm reminded of the little things that rest in our happy memories. It really is the sights, sounds and smells of the season that linger.

My own personal treasure chest of memories may seem incidental to most, but these little bits of Christmas fill my heart with emotion each time I reflect...
The warmth of the stove on my three-year old back as I sat next to it, playing with my magnetic alphabet set. I was allowed to open one gift early on Christmas Eve. An act of charity as I was home bound with the Chicken Pox. We did not go to our grandparents that year. Mom cooked a turkey and our little family stayed home.The sight of a three-wick candle burning brightly in the formal living room. The lights were dimmed with Elvis singing Christmas carols from vinyls in the background. Our record player was a large piece of furniture used to display our favorite holiday knick-knacks.The chime of my…

December 24, 2013: First Christmas in Arizona

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My parents moved to Kingman, Arizona in 1986. This decision rocked my world. I had just chosen to go to college nine miles from my hometown. A year later they chose to move 1,517 miles away from my childhood home. I didn't see this coming and they certainly didn't ask for my pre-approval.

They moved in the fall, shortly after I started my sophomore year. I had just started dating Scott and my brother, Matt, had finished a two year stint in the army and was attending college in Fort Dodge.

As we faced our first Christmas outside of our comfortable existence in Remsen, Mom and Dad surprised us with plane tickets to Arizona. This was our first visit to their new home. Mark drove up to join us from Tempe.

I had mixed emotions about this holiday trip. Every family tradition I loved was now history. I had just started dating Scott and couldn't fathom the prospect of being separated from my boyfriend. Matt and I were both enjoying our college years. Christmas breaks in Remsen in…

December 21, 2013: I Believe

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I never believed in Santa. <sigh>

My non-belief in Santa is a dark secret of my childhood. I have no memory of ever believing. My mom tells me that on my second Christmas, I crawled out of my crib before anyone was awake and opened the presents under the tree. My vague recollection of this event isn't about the magic of Santa, but only of the pretty wrapping paper.

Our next door neighbor, Michael Wischnewski, told me there was no Santa Claus. I was three. He was thirteen. Mom was furious. The resulting impact to me: no memories of lying in bed on Christmas Eve, waiting in exhilaration for Santa as visions of sugar plums danced in my head. <another sigh>

That being said, I do remember trying really hard to believe. Growing up, I watched my friends experience the magic of Santa Claus as I tried to convince myself that this fanciful man existed. What I did believe in was the magic of Christmas. This was very real to me as a child. Christmas time was special. I was rais…

December 20, 2013: The Year Matt Spilled the Beans

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I have always enjoyed the joy of a great surprise. Growing up, I would often asked to be surprised with gifts rather than having each present chosen to my specifications. Unwrapping a pink flowered robe on Christmas day, knowing my mom had picked out this retail treasure just for me, was bliss.

My brothers, on the other hand, did not buy into my naive wonderment. Their Christmastime goal was to uncover every hidden treasure and unwrap in advance of Christmas Day. And no matter how hard I tried to resist their Grinch antics, I would ultimately cave. I was a willing participant in a trio of holiday hi-jinx.

The year of note was during our pre-teen years. Old enough to babysit ourselves, our parents would leave us alone when they would go out. During the holiday season, they were gone most weekends socializing. The minute Mom and Dad would walk out the door to go out to dinner or to a holiday gala, we three kids would begin tearing the house apart; scavenging for our Christmas gifts.

Th…

December 15, 2013: Silent Night

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We attended a beautiful Christmas performance in Denver this weekend. It was full of acting, dancing and singing. The gifted soloists were backed by a mega choir. They collectively rocked all of the "favorites" of Christmas.

As a pretty blonde songstress sang a perfectly pitched Silent Night, I found myself misty-eyed. In fact, I fought the tears that were edging my eyelids; wanting to stream my cheeks. This song does this to me every time, without fail. And every time I think of a Christmas Eve, many moons ago, that will always delicately rest in my happy memory.

This Christmas season, I am busy. And not busy in a Christmas way. It's been busy in a work, long football season, get engaged kind of way. But I have found there are benefits to all of that. Namely, that I'm not trying to "fit it all in". Rather than me scrambling to pull it all together, I am taking a minimalist approach; no Christmas cards, few gifts, no hosted parties, no cookies or baked Che…

December 13, 2013: B & N

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I stopped at Barnes and Noble today. With a gift exchange tonight centering around books, I needed to grab a couple of specific titles. As I meandered around the store, searching for my desired purchases; I was quickly reminded of how times have changed.

My immediate observation was that I hadn't been to B & N for ages. One year, to be exact. I was in the store last Christmas to buy a book on cars for a charity event. I haven't been back since. Although I wouldn't have believed this fate five years prior, it was reality.

A trip to Barnes and Noble was a weekly outing as my boys grew up. We would wander the aisles, checking out the glorious volumes of bound paper. As the boys carefully examined everything from action comics to their favorite reading series, I would eventually be drawn to the "employee recommendations" section. All-time best sellers would catch my eye as well. Although I am realist in knowing this goal is likely unattainable, I do have a desir…

December 10, 2013: The Blonde Bomb

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Although my hope is for Ben's blondish-orange mop to be short lived, I've grown used to this look. I would go as far as to say, I'm fond of his shock top. When he first arrived home with his newly dyed do, I didn't feel this same sentiment.

It was a bit of a shock to look at each day, but warm a reminder of the unity of the Skutt football team. Silly was the thought of the adults. Good karma was the thought of the boys. Obviously the boys won out. The hair followed them to the championship game.

The title win is now becoming a distant memory, but the hair remains. I have noticed other players with new buzz cuts or hair dyed back to their normal color. Not Ben. He is going to enjoy every inch of blonde until it grows out. He foresees no buzz in his future. The nickname sticks.

Ben's Muppet-like hair is fitting to his over-the-top personality. Although a football decision, I could easily see a changed hair color in Ben's future repertoire. The child has a expans…

December 6, 2013: A Sweet Surprise

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It's official. Garrett and I are engaged. And I never thought there would be an engagement. A marriage; yes. But an engagement? That was a complete surprise.

We have recently been discussing marriage. But I thought the next step would be an entry into our combined Outlook calendars for a wedding date. Ultimately Garrett surprised me with the unexpected.

As you can surmise, there is a story that I will share. In this case there are really two stories that link together. One four years ago and the main feature; last night.

Let's start with the story of last night. This story centers around a ring. A beautiful ring. As Garrett and I discussed getting married, we agreed that details like a fancy white dress and wedding hoopla were unnecessary at our age with round two into the marriage arena. I was happy with this laid back approach.

The only detail where we differed in thought was on the ring. Garrett thought simple wedding bands would be nice. I didn't want to appear high m…

December 3, 2013: Bo who?

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I am sick of hearing about Bo Pelini. No offense to those embroiled in the debate. I'm not being judgmental, just honest. As many throw around their coveted opinions of the University, I am going to take this time to thank UNL. Some well-deserved diversion from controversy for a simple act of kindness is due.

This gesture may seem small to others, but it meant a lot to us. And that's what the greatest acts of kindness are all about; small gestures that generate a lasting impact.

When our high school boys earned a trip to Memorial Stadium to play for the championship, we were thrilled. Traveling to this venue for their grand finale was a treat. As we planned for this event, it became apparent that the outdoors on a late November night was not an ideal option for many of the boys' grandparents.

Ben's grandpa is recovering from heart surgery. He can't sit out in the cold. With two grandsons on the team and a love for Memorial Stadium, the thought of his watching this…

December 1, 2013: God Gave Me Boys

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When Grant was eight, he missed a football practice because Nebraska Football Fan Day conflicted. I called the coach to tell him about Grant's pending absence. His response wasn't one of annoyance, but instead admiration.

"Wow, that's so cool that you're taking Grant to Lincoln to meet the football team. My mom would have never done that for me growing up. I hope Grant appreciates it."

His response actually took me aback. Didn't all moms take their kids to Lincoln for all things Husker football? I marked my calendar religiously for theses events; the spring game, fan day, and the regular season games. And we almost always hit an away game each year as well.

What I have learned, although not previously suspected, is that these are typically dad/son trips. Moms and sons spending time together at sporting events appear to be an anomaly. But not at my house. God gave me boys.

My life has been free of American Girl Dolls and dance recitals, but instead full o…

November 29, 2013: Family Best

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The best things about family holidays aren't necessarily the turkey or the perfectly set table. And although the planned outings are fun, it's the random moments that we all remember. For us it's the many laughs shared.

Our jokes and bantering may not be funny to those outside our tight circle of family, but to us, they are hilarious. The picture above demonstrates one of the many moments of laughter over our 48 hours together.

Mom wanted a "group shot"; a family photo. The final product was turned into a Christmas card of sorts (below), and posted on FaceBook. For those who wouldn't know better, one would assume with a smile and a click; the family photo of choice was captured. That was not the case.

There were several "fails" before the successful shot was had. With Mom setting the camera timer, she was having trouble making it into the picture prior to the picture being taken. We would roar in laughter, watching her run to get within lens range;…

November 28, 2013: A Thanksgiving Anniversary

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My parents were married on Thanksgiving Day 1964. Although their anniversary rarely lands on the Thursday of Thanksgiving, it's an anniversary to remember. It was always odd to me that they chose this busy day to get married. My mom's story is that it was Grandma who thought this would be an ideal day for a wedding. A day that most family and friends would already be home so to save a trip.

Aunt Joan tells a different story. "Having a wedding on Thanksgiving was a bad idea. People wanted to be at home." Regardless, I am sure it was beautiful and those who attended had a great time.

As we talked about more recent Thanksgivings of past, I was reminded of another anniversary. Mom and Dad met Garrett for the first time four years ago on Thanksgiving Day. Although this may sound like a non-eventful anniversary; as do most things in my life, it came with twists.

Similar to this Thanksgiving which has brought me to my family in Dallas, our 2009 Thanksgiving included a trip…

November 27, 2013: Road Trip

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I went on a road trip yesterday with my brother and niece. The last time I road tripped with my brother, there were invisible lines drawn in the back of the Sedan. Seat belts were rolled and tucked into the crevices of the back seats and I followed the strict instruction of my brothers not to violate their space.

This trip was different. There was plenty of violating of space. And with no responding knuckle punches. Let me digress.

Last Saturday, I was carefully thinking through the upcoming holiday week. The plan was for me to fly to Denver Wednesday afternoon and leave Saturday night. The days would be filled with skiing, mountains, and planning a house move. A very nice way to spend Thanksgiving. And then I got a message.

My brother, Mark, now lives in Dallas with his family. In the voice message, Mark invited me to join the rest of my family in Texas for Thanksgiving. He knew that I didn't have my kids, but wanted to open the invitation.

It got my attention, but I already had…

November 25, 2013: Football 101

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I am just the mom. Ben shakes his head when I confuse football positions and show weakness on the "X's and O's". He believes I don't know much about the game. In all actuality, I know a lot.

While I continue to broaden my tactical understanding, I am in tune to the truly important aspects of football. Never underestimate the observations of an intuitive mother. What I see are life lessons.

I'm a storyteller by nature. So I am going to tell the story of two young men with two very different football experiences. The stories are deeper than football with valuable lessons that extend beyond the field.

Both players have just finished their high school careers. But their experiences were markedly different. Although their goals to excel seemed aligned, the deeper goals were not.

Boy #1:
This boy chased his dream of being a football star. He was told at a young age that he would be the next John Elway and he believed it. His family wanted this for him and spared no…

November 24, 2013: Cousin, Niece, Sister, Friend...

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Angelina came to visit this weekend. It was a quick weekend. Too quick. My sweet cousin has been part of every phase of my lifetime. Eighteen years my junior, the nature of our relationship has many times been confused.

Born in September of 1985. Angelina adorned the world while I was discovering the wonderful world of college life. Before reaching the age of one, Angelina's family moved to LeMars, my college town. I quickly became the chief babysitter of Angelina and her brothers. She was like a daughter to me. And people thought the same as I totted her around on my hip.

I watched Angelina grow into a beautiful and kind young woman. As I started having children, she became my live-in summer nanny. She tenderly cared for the Lane boys; playing on the floor with them and holding them on her lap. People thought she was my niece. Tiring of explaining that her mom was the youngest and mine the oldest and we, the cousins; I just introduced her as my niece.

Angelina moved to the big c…

November 22, 2013: Life is an Adventure

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After spending most of my work year as a nomad, we now have some temporary office space that we call home. It's a bit of a war room with white boards galore, but the amenities of constant coffee and a desk with pictures of my kids brings a sense of comfort. A thoughtful spot. An occasional routine.

It's interesting how the mental mindset of a "home", whether personal or work, does calm the spirit. Chaos feels more manageable with a thoughtful spot. But for the most part, everyday is still a new adventure.

I am reminded of this each time I look ahead (or behind) on my Outlook calendar. Today would be an example.

Our early morning began with a workout at Lifetime and a slow drive to midtown in the first snow of the year. Next Garrett and I landed in the comfort of the war room. Lots of planning was had with colored sticky notes and collaborative brain power. I took my boyfriend to the airport to return to Denver at noon. He bought a house (our new house in Denver...I …

November 21, 2013: TBT Mary Style

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Today my mom changed her FaceBook profile picture to the picture above. It's me.

I was caught by surprise when I saw it. This picture, from a time that precedes my memory, gave me a big smile in the middle of a crazy day. It really is the small things that fuel our heart.

Below is Mom's description of the picture. It was coincidental that she noted Hubie Nothem; a Remsen local who passed away this weekend at age 100.

"Picture was taken in our house in Remsen before we completely remodeled the house in 1969. The Maytag washer on the left served as extra counter space in a VERY small kitchen...the frig is on the right. Hubie Nothem and Gbp Gib Wagner worked on the house to make it livable before we moved in it in April 1966. (Sandy loved beets...and was always smiling!!!)"

November 19, 2013: Politics Part II

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Last night Garrett brought up my post on Grant's student council non-election. He thought I sounded bitter. It was as though Grant's predicament struck a nerve with me.

Upon further reflection, I explained what struck that nerve. It was Grant's ultimate fate hinging on one teacher's non-vote. That was the source of my aggravation. My baggage from past experience.

You see, I felt Grant's pain. It happened to me. But mine wasn't a student council election. My source of aggravation was my non-induction into the National Honor Society. With circumstances similar to Grant's, it's clear that I'm still bitter from my pain of 1983.

I explained my story to Garrett. And then he proceeded to inform me that he was elected to National Honor Society. Not me. Salt was now pouring on my open wounds.

My junior year of 1983 was the year of inductions for my class into this exclusive society. Part of my pain was my assumption that I would be in without a problem. The…

November 18, 2013: Ten Things You Didn't Know about Me

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In response to the current Facebook folly of listing a number of things people don't know about you, here is mine. This was way too tempting as I have enjoyed reading everyone else's over the last few days. My ten in no particular order... 

1. I made my own clothes in high school. Although I didn't make every piece in my wardrobe, my favorites were those I created myself. I would see something I liked and then would search for a similar pattern through the Vogue and Simplicity books at the corner dime store. I would duplicate copyrighted designer logos like OP (Ocean Pacific) by carefully embroidering on my finished products.

2. I have wicked intuition and a great bullshit meter. I can spot a crook or a lie a mile away. And adversely, I know the good guys within the first two minutes of a conversation. My gut is rarely wrong. It's the best weapon I have in living a life free of trouble and full of good-hearted people.
3. My interest in accounting was sparked by M&M sa…

November 17, 2013: Politics

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I have been asked how Grant came out on his student council election. With all the hoopla of football, I have been negligent in this follow up blog. I sadly have to report that Grant did not get elected. But hold your tears, we have all survived quite well. And there were even some life lessons learned along the way.

I knew Grant was to hear about the results on the Thursday post-election. My plan was to call him after school. Instead I learned of the bad news as I read the school newsletter that afternoon. As I perused the school news for the week, I saw a section congratulating the newly elected student council members.

With excitement, I scanned for his anticipated name. No Grant. And then I scanned again. Nope. I initially had a lump in my throat and then I noticed a peculiarity. Of the seven elected officials, six were girls. This struck me as suspect as I knew at least five of Grant's buddies ran. They didn't make the list either.

My bullshit meter was running high. Lat…

November 15, 2013: These are the Glory Days

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This picture makes me smile. The boys took their last stand under the Friday night lights of their home turf. A parent snapped this photo after their winning game. On to the State Championship.

Glory days. This is the phrase that came to mind as I looked at their faces. Glowing smiles. Eighteen year-old joy. A great journey to Memorial Stadium.

This group of boys is nothing short of a band of brothers. They've had each other's back every step of the way. This season has dealt some with adversity; on and off the field. But the boys have reacted by rallying.

They play as a team. They win as a team. And they support each other as a team. Together they are having a ball.

My son is one of many blonde bombs that fill the Skyhawk sidelines. Today I ran into a handful of his counterparts at the Husker game. They run in packs. Rarely do you see one player without two or three by his side.

Still brimming with excitement over last night's win, they continued to be humble; thankful f…

November 13, 2013: Jackpot

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I spent $70 on a life size poster of my son. This was an "ask" of the football parents for senior night. I didn't even give it a second thought. My son certainly wasn't going to be the only one without a poster. So I proudly purchased it, knowing it would have potential reuses at playoffs, graduation, etc...

Thank-you, Skutt, for the win streak the allows this treasure to keep paying for itself. This life size image of Benny Lane has since shown up at two games post-regular season. Looking at the rolled-up poster in my garage this weekend, I decided to hang it on my front door for good luck (and increase my return on investment).

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day. I took my dog for a leisurely walk in the afternoon. Our walk began with my inspection of this front door decoration with a view from the street. I was pleased.

As Cookie and I finished our typical loop around the neighborhood, we came upon two walkers. These two young girls of Asian descent were w…

November 12, 2013: The Good China

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Thought for the day: Every day is special, so why wait to eat on the good china? Thank-you, Mom, for teaching me this wise lesson.

My china has been passed down from my grandparents. I fondly remember eating our childhood holiday dinners on these special dishes. I was the lucky recipient of this hand-me-down heirloom.

Mom has used her keen eye and resourcefulness in finding matching pieces for me at garage sales and on-line. My china set is now expansive and spectacular. I am the proud owner of a variety of dishes in the silver etched, blue-flowered pattern. The latest addition of mini butter plates are a perfect complement to the separately served hot rolls.

Tonight we sat down and ate as a family. I deemed it a special day; just because. So I broke out the china and served Gatorade in wine glasses. Then we took the extra-special step of eating in the dining room. With my Halloween village glowing in the background, we enjoyed our last Halloween hurrah as the decorations will be sto…

November 11, 2013: A Warm Glove

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Last night was my first Creighton game of the season. And it felt just like a warm glove. Maybe this analogy struck me since it was the first cold night of the season. But regardless, that's how it felt; comfortable, warm, inviting.

My day was generally chaotic. With an evening meeting that ran over, I sped to the Century Link. My thoughts weren't on Creighton basketball, but on whether I remembered my ticket and the almost single temp showing on my dash. It wasn't until I walked came up the escalator and saw familiar faces at ticket scanning that I remembered how much I love Creighton game nights.

I breathed an instant sigh of relief and relaxation. Right at home. I completely forgot what this experience felt like. Missing tip off, I proceeded to the wrist band station. I immediately spotted my favorite beer girl, Terri, under the Irish Pub sign by my seats. Last season they moved her to another location. She was now strategically back where she belonged. Score.

My secti…