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Showing posts from August, 2013

August 30, 2013: Benny Lane and the Rodeo

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Watching Ben playing football last night under the Friday night lights made me weepy. Skutt didn't get a win, but I was so proud to watch my son play with passion and love for the game. That's Ben Lane; loving life and playing the game of life with heart.

Since Ben was a toddler, that has always been his approach to life. He takes on the people and things he loves with a smile and with determination to please and achieve the goals he sets for himself. Ben confuses me at times with the focus of his determination. My parental confusion is subsided only by me reminding myself that I don't set Ben's goals. Ben sets Ben's goals.

With Zach behind me, cheering on his younger brother and watching a determined Ben on the field, I was reminded of a younger Benny with younger passions. Ben wanted to be a cowboy. At age three, Ben was a cowboy and you couldn't tell him anything different.

The goals I had for Ben consisted of counting to fifty, knowing his alphabet, and be…

August 29, 2013: Pre-Game

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I got an e-mail yesterday with logistics on football moms decorating their son's school lockers. It came as a surprise to me. In all my years as a football mom, I hadn't a clue that it was my job to decorate their locker for game day. Reading the e-mail, I wondered if Ben and Zach were greeted by blank locker doors all those past game days. <fail>.

With my quest to be a fully engaged 8th grade and senior mom, I took in the e-mail details. An event was added to my Outlook calendar. Good to go. Or so I thought.

Not understanding the potential planning involved, I assumed a quick run through my art room five minutes prior would suffice. Grabbing scissors, colored paper, and markers; I was set. Most moms didn't even have an art room, I surmised. So I brought extras to share with the less fortunate.

Zach made the unfortunate decision to stop home an hour before my designated locker decoration time. With a little coaxing, he agreed to help. I would add that my purchase of…

August 28, 2013: Supper and Sliders

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In Iowa we called it Supper. In Nebraska, it's dinner. Growing up, we had dinner at noon and supper as our last meal of the day. Nebraska sees things differently. Although it took a while to get used to this change in translation upon moving to the big red state, I got used to it; with only occasional relapses.

Last night what we had was definitely supper. Mostly because it sounded good with the meal choice, sliders. Supper and sliders was the theme for the night.

Along with a great routine, I love to cook for my family. It makes me happy to fill their plates with "growing boy" food and sit down to family conversation. This seems to be more of a rare occurrence these days with everyone's busy schedules. Last night the moon and the stars did align for us as we enjoyed a meal together.

Despite the hot weather, I endured outside grilling. And then was a bit shocked when the boys wanted to eat outside as well. It ended up being a good idea on a nice summer night. Just a…

August 27, 2013: Back to a Routine

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I love a routine. There, I said it. As much as I like to blog about my many adventures, meeting new people, and going to interesting places; home always feels good. Back in the saddle of a daily routine is a welcomed pleasure.

I have enjoyed three days of taking Grant to school. Without fail I have my ceramic cup filled with hot coffee in hand. The conversation varies, but the route stays the same. My mornings start with either my 5:30 run with friends or a later bike ride, dependent on the day. The perimeter of the house is perused upon my arrival home with plants watered as I tend to the blossoms on the foliage.

My Outlook calendar is my savior. On perfect "routine days", there are work meetings and lunches sprinkled in with plenty of time left in between for typing a daily blog, attending an occasional daily mass at Boys Town, and keeping up with e-mails and favorite reading.

Last night was Curriculum Night at St. Wenceslaus. Grant is an 8th Grader. This is my last hurra…

August 26, 2013: Uncool

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Last week I was flying high and feeling cool. Like a superhero taking on the world, I soared to new heights while increasing the depth of my extraordinary to-do list. And then I went home. To my teenagers, I am so incredibly uncool. Like a cold bucket of reality, my uncoolness was dumped on my head.

If you have ever watched the movie, The Incrediables, my role is Elastigirl...the mom. Superhero (or so she thinks) by day and humble (or humbled) mom by night.

Me: "I closed on a big deal today!"

Teen: "Cool. What's for dinner? Did you really wear that all day? You're a little old for that."

Hmmm. Attempt to be cooler....

Me: "I met some really important people today. You'd find them interesting!"

Teen: "Oh. Like business people? Or people who are actually interesting?"

Done. On to dinner and talk about the cool people they hang with and the interesting things they did all day.

Grant is typically my wing-man. The youngest, he has been u…

August 25, 2013: Modern Day Joan of Arc

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Joan of Arc is forever ingrained in our minds as the epitome of the martyr; defender of mankind. Don't we all want to be the Joan of today? Saving the meek and out for the underdog. We want to come to their rescue and defeat the bad guy. If only we came equipped with the sword and armor that goes hand in hand with the Joan of Arc role.

My first real feeling of wanting to save the world one-person-at-a-time was in the 5th grade. Lyle was a boy in my brother's grade; two years older than me. Lyle was tall and lanky. He had wire rim glasses and kept to himself. Two years his younger, I didn't interact with him. He seemed shy, but with a disposition that struck me as kind.

This was the late 70's in small town Iowa. Small towns didn't have middle schools. We had grade schools and we had high schools. As a 5th grader, I was pooled with the "older kids". We also didn't have back packs. I am not quite sure when this great invention was introduced. If it was …

August 24, 2013: Life with Jack

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We had an overnighter last night. And it wasn't an ordinary overnighter. Jack Halpenny spent the night. Jack is the brother of Brendon, Grant's best friend. Jack has autism.

The Halpenny family have been friends of our for years. Jack moments and stories are abundant. I love to hear them and even better; be a part of them. Last night I was treated first hand to a Jack Halpenny night. His first overnighter at a friend's house was at ours.

Jack is pure and sweet. The words that flow from his mouth may sound unfiltered to a new friend. But those who know this very special boy, know that his words are full of love and honesty. Jack shares his loving world to all those around him.

Knowing Jack, I cherish the posts Laurie shares with me and on FaceBook relating to her daily moments with her son. I have been encouraging her to start a blog to share these warm moments with others.

Understanding autism and the daily life of the family surrounding the autistic child would be a grea…

August 23, 2013: ER Revisited

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Yesterday was a milestone of sorts and I didn't even know it. Garrett and I were enjoying Day 2 of the Pro Cycling Challenge. Friday's stage was in Vail.

Rather than biking up a mountain to a favored spectator spot, we choose to hang in Vail Village at the time trial start. The day was picture perfect and the atmosphere, fun. We took a casual bike ride to our destination and spent the day as cycling groupies.

We perused the many vendor tents and found some cool new gear. Lunch consisted of gyros from a tent and Sunshine Wheat beer sold from a bike with a cooler full of brew. We pulled a spot on a wall with our refreshments and rider list in hand. A perfect spot for watching the 100+ riders take off. A good day. A Garrett and Sandy kind of day.

As we took in all the fun facts of the pro cyclists flying by us, a realization set in.

Me: "Garrett, I don't think I've been in the mountains since I blew my ACL."

<pause and reflection>

GB: "I think you…

August 22, 2013: A Little Push

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I completed one heck of a climb yesterday. I knew it was going to be a challenge for a flat lander from Nebraska. And it was.

Garrett mentioned the previous night that we'd be climbing Bachelor's Gulch. Having skied this area, I had a good idea the vertical gain that was entailed; but this time without the benefit of a ski lift. The graph below depicts the climb starting with the bottom highlight on the left and ending with the highlighted "Bachelor's Gulch" on the top. I'm glad I didn't look at this visual before riding it. Some things are best left for the imagination.

Following a ride from Edwards to Beaver Creek, Garrett and I joined a couple of friends for lunch in the village and then hopped on our bikes to take on the climb. The first hint of the difficulty level was the first sign marking the route. With an arrow pointing up, the words on the sign read "KOM-King of the Mountain".

The enormous houses, landscaping, and views were stunning…

August 21, 2013:Toddler Time

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We left for the mountains after work. After an hour and a half ascent with Starbucks in hand, we were greeted by our host, Robbie.

This handsome guy is two years old. He is graciously letting us stay at his mountain condo for the next couple of days. We were greeted at the door by this smiling guy and all his great toys. He showed us his musical cell phone and demonstrated the power of his plastic riding dump truck.

It's been a long time since I played with a little boy. A really long time. For a short period, I was left alone with sweet Robbie. His dad, Rob, helped Garrett bring our bags up. With the close of the door, Robbie realized his dad was gone and gave me a brief look of panic.

My maternal instinct innately kicked in. All my tricks on occupying young boys came back. Within minutes, our knocking balloons and crashing toy planes brought back smiles and boy giggles.

It's hard to believe it's been ten years since I've enjoyed these toddler shenanigans. Phone call…

August 20, 2013: Royal Dresses

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I have never been one to follow celebrities, reality shows, or the royalty; but I do have a declaration contrary to this statement. I like Kate Middleton. I like this princess (technically duchess?) a lot.

I can't tell you much about her personal life, other than she has a similarly pretty sister and dated the prince for years. I can tell you that her genuine smile and warm and friendly way of interacting with commoners is commendable. But where Kate has really won me over is with her recent clothing choices.

Princess Kate first caught my attention as she exited the hospital showing her new baby to the world. Her dress of choice was clearly maternity wear and her post-baby-bump, both obvious and worn with pride.

The press responding by continuously commenting on Kate's protruding tummy instead of the glow of her new motherhood. There was no attempt by Kate in hiding her post-baby changed figure. The young princess appropriately could have cared less.

Today as I scanned MSN.co…

August 19, 2013: Invasion of the Bachelor Pad

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Did I mention that Garrett is temporarily living in a apartment? I call it his bachelor pad. And I LOVE it! I have spent this awesome Monday working out of the pad. Not a care in the world for this girl. The life of simplicity rules.

Garrett sold his house a couple of months ago. He knows where he wants to move, but is waiting for his desired neighborhood to produce a house. So, for now, he and his crew are apartment dwellers. I am the occasional guest.

As I type this, I am sitting in a very bachelor-looking over-sized recliner with a tie blanket resting between me and my computer (I adjusted the temp after Garrett left...oops). My step-dog, Cookie, is snoring at my feet; taking in the warmth of the sun through the window. Pandora is blaring from my I-Pad mini. Channel choice: Third Eye Blind. Perfect.

I slept in past my usual this morning as Garrett dealt with the bustle of getting his kiddos to school. A dream boyfriend, he made me a pot of coffee. The aroma of this guilty pleasure…

August 18, 2013: A Little Hike

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What to do on the last Sunday before school starts? If you are in Colorado, a hike in the beautiful Rockies is a great idea. Garrett chose St. Mary's Glacier by Idaho Springs for our morning climb. And it was stunning.

I have to confess that we didn't work very hard to reach the spectacular sights that awaited us. The hike was .75 miles up a rocky trail and then .75 miles back down. The great thing about hike trails are the surprises you find when you reach the top.

The St. Mary's Glacier is home to a serene lake and an icy embankment. Wild flowers in purple and yellow varieties are abundant. Even the rocks show signs of interest with hints of glacial impact.

Our day started with the kids dreading the prospect of being dragged away from the TV. Upon our ascent and once the end of the trail was reached, their tone changed. Realization set in that the climb was quick and the visual benefits; immense.

The kids skipped rocks, played in the water, and slid down the snow-filled…

August 17, 2013: Real War Games

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1990 was a carefree time for us. In our early twenties, we were young and ready to conquer the world. I was fresh out of college and newly married. Robbie and Russ were married with children. But even with the added responsibility, we were still kids at heart; laughing and loving life as young adults.

Robbie was my best friend. It started the first day of college when I recognized handsome Russ from summer orientation. When I enthusiastically went over to say Hi, he introduced me to his girlfriend. What started with a glare turned into a life-long friendship. 

Russ and Robbie took a non-traditional road through their college years. They got married, had Russell, and then joined the Army. With a move to Germany, Brynn came next. All while I took the traditional route of graduating and then getting married. Post our college graduation, Scott and I moved to Omaha.

With Russ stationed overseas, Robbie and the kids moved back so Robbie could continue school. Grandma and Grandpa cared for the …

August 16, 2013: Next Stop: Denver

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A whirlwind week: Check.

Mission accomplished? Yep.

It seems like it was just Monday and somehow with a blink and we're to Friday and in Denver. It's been awhile. Garrett has been gracing us with his presence in Omaha as of late. My turn. I'll be in Denver for a week.

At 10:20 Mountain Time, we are finally grounded in the comforts of home. My feet are up and I'm itching to blog. Reading is on the list this weekend as well. A little down time in Denver sounds fabulous.

The fog of the week is still a fog. With a little memory work I was able to reconstruct most of it. Late evening meetings at the start of the week. Kids full of football practices and visits from my eldest. Garrett in by Wednesday, work from the loft, out with friends...and that only got us to the middle of the week.

Now here I am. In Denver. I love you Omaha, but I think a little Denver is just what the doctor ordered.


August 15, 2013: Taking Mains

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My Aunt Gwen was born in 1960. She was the youngest of seven by a long shot. My dad, who was second in line, was sixteen when she was born. Being "the baby" Gwen held court as the spoiled one in the family until I came along. I was born when Gwen was seven and I no doubt upset her apple cart.

Although the eldest of the Wagner grand kids were born before me, they lived across the country in sunny Arizona. Following the birth of my brothers, my entry into the world gave me the advantage to the coveted spot as cutest tot dressed in pink. I was the apple of my grandma's eye and she wasn't afraid to say it. This eventually did not sit well with my older family counterpart, Aunt Gwen.

Based on past photos and distant memories, I believe Gwen enjoyed me up until the age of five. I am sure the mixture of her hitting the teen years along with my size grown too big to carry like a doll resulted in her moving on from playing with me to resenting me. There were expectations of her…

August 12, 2013: Playing House

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The winter of 1980 was a fun year for me. I was thirteen with wide-eyed anticipation of being a grown woman. Although that particular winter was bitterly cold and long to most; to me it was a glorious opportunity to play house, with real babies.

My Aunt Barb and Uncle Tom lived in Sioux City. Their city was a forty-five minute drive from my hometown. The distance was enough that I was only able to play with their young daughters on an infrequent basis. As a thirteen year-old who loved babies and saw motherhood in my future, I enjoyed spending time with my tiny cousins.

1980 was a year that Barb and Tom were building a new house. My grandparents also choose well by choosing to winter in Arizona and not in Iowa that winter. With their house empty and my aunt and uncle's need to have temporary quarters, a plan was hatched.

They lived in my grandparents house for the winter with their baby, Jennifer, and two-year-old, Jana. I trudged through the snow for the five block walk up Harris…

August 11, 2013: Close of Summer

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I ran into Miss Lindsey Fey late Saturday night. Really late. As opposed to summers from our past, this meeting was at a bar and not in my backyard. I was trying to act like a young adult again and she was just being one.

With impending back-to-school and seeing our little Linds all grown up, a flood of memories came back to me. Lindsey was nothing short of entertainment for my boys as they grew up. A babysitter, a friend, a ball of constant motion...that was little Lindsey.

The picture above was taken in my backyard. They had a baby pool filled and a hose spraying everywhere. Although I'm unsure of the need for the pool net (as big as the pool itself), I am sure it was fun nonetheless. The picture below is an action shot following the posed shot. It makes me laugh.

Note Lindsey's dramatic sprint from the errant net. The hose is spraying everywhere and the toppled little scooter...your guess is as good as mine. Previously taken down the mini pool slide?

Is it any wonder that …

August 10, 2013: Adult Magical Mystery Bus Tour

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It has been a marathon weekend of enjoying and entertaining out-of-town guests. Our Saturday was filled with a Magical Mystery Bus Tour of Omaha. I was the tour guide and this adventure was the adult version; as opposed to my typical tour of kids spots for the under-21 crowd.

Don't get me wrong. I definitely drove Rick and Cindy by our city's beautiful zoo and favorite vintage candy shop. But only drive-by's with no stops at these destinations. Our tour of the city was more like a pub crawl.

I drove them through the many wonderful neighborhoods, each with a history lesson. The twist was that with several neighborhood tours came with a stop at a local bar or restaurant. Ones that embraced the feel of that part of town.

We started at the Old Market with a drive west through Happy Hallow and Elmwood Park. Lunch was in Aksarben Park. Next stop was West Omaha with a drive through the village of Boys Town and then east on Dodge Street to the airport (bye-bye to a Denver-bound G…

August 9, 2013: Friday: The Doobie's

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It has been quite the weekend. It's felt a bit like a flashback to my college years. Concerts, packs of friends, late nights, dining after midnight....all rolled up in one weekend.

There is one conclusion I have come to: What we did night after night, weekend after weekend at age twenty is much more difficult to pull off in one solo weekend at age forty-five. But I'm giving it the good-old college try.

Let's start at the beginning; Friday night. After a day of work and great anticipation of our Ohio guests arriving, things didn't go quite as planned. Cindy and Rick notified us with a quick text that they would be delayed by four hours. Details would emerge later. Bummer.

Friday night's crown jewel activity was an outdoor concert put on by the Doobie Brothers. And it didn't disappoint. There is nothing better on a warm summer night than to pick up a space on a grassy knoll and listen to a 70's rock band. Based on the look of the over-40 crowd, they agreed w…

August 8, 2013: The Golden Pheasant

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We deviated from the text on our drive to Okoboji last week. After our stop at the Wells Ice Cream Parlor, we detoured down Highway 3 to drive through my hometown, Remsen. No navigation system would have mapped out a drive to Okoboji that would have taken us through Remsen. But that's what we did. Mom's call.

Although it was nothing short of a drive-through, I had fun. As for the other occupants in our vehicle, not-so-much. They just watched their mom get excited about recognized houses from childhood, a big church, an old school, and a restaurant with a peculiar name.

I was a waitress at the Golden Pheasant in the 80's. It was a prime job and I made great money in tips. People came from miles away to enjoy the signature prime rib. You really couldn't miss if you ordered a steak. From the t-bone to the New York strip, customers left satisfied and happy. And my corresponding tips were proof of their pleasure.

Many friendships were made as it took a troop of teenagers t…

August 7, 2013: Boys of Summer

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Remsen St. Mary's made the boys state baseball tournament this year. This great feat brought back fond memories of our wondrous baseball years in the eighties. Our wee little town produced great talent and got the attention of most of Iowa. We were a baseball powerhouse. The attention took everyone by surprise, including us.

My little town, known as the little Luxembourg of Iowa, is nestled in Northwest Iowa. Our population teetered around 1,500. My school was the Catholic high school, one of two in town, with a total student body of less than 180 students. Although small in size, we produced great results on the baseball field. The entire town followed our baseball boys in groves to cheer on our team.

And Remsen St. Mary's dominated. We ably competed at all levels; beating all classes and the big city teams. Our coach was exceptional and our town, ecstatic. The Class of 85 produced a great team as well. Our summers were filled with baseball games, near and far. A gang of fri…

August 6, 2013: Change

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I am feeling a little sentimental. Maybe it's post-vacation thoughts. It could also be the new school year. Possibly the margarita I had with a former co-worker and current friend from Lutz played a part. Very possible.

Regardless, I have been thinking about what I was doing a year ago. My life has changed tremendously in 365 days. And I really haven't taken the time to sit back an reflect on this.

A year ago I just finished a week long trip to NYC. I was flying solo, blogging to the world, and trying to figure out how I was going to spend the next chapter of my life. A family vacation with friends to California followed and within a month, I made up my mind. Change.

This leap of faith took months to secure as a reality. But I have never looked back. As I near the one year mark, I am amazed by what I have learned and the great people I have met along the way. And it has only just begun.

Some things haven't changed, only gotten better....Garrett, my kids, my family. My per…

August 5, 2013: Mama Bear Story II

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Guest blogger for this story is the ever-so-funny Mama Bear, Cindy Ruma _______________________________________________________________________

We had a bully in the neighborhood when my kids were growing up, circa 1990. In this case it wasn't a kid, but the mom. She was one of "those moms". Her kids were perfect and she was ever so quick to call and reprimand other children.

One day, she called to tell me that my seven year old daughter had called her son a f'ing asshole. Since bad language is my forte, I was not surprised. The mom demanded I discipline her.
And I did. I called my daughter in with multiple stern warnings. Then she was sent off to her room for the rest of the day.
Shortly afterwards, my son came in and told me I was not being fair to his sister. The recipient of the wronged words had first punched my daughter in the stomach.
WELLLL....after a short time in her room, the seven-year old inmate was released. Mama Bear then promptly called Mama Bully, e…