Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 31, 2013: How We Spend our Easters...

Back in the days of Easter cake and dyed eggs
(aprons painted and handmade courtesy of Grandma Mary)

Another Easter Sunday is upon us. As we sat in church today, the boys on one side and Garrett on my other, I reflected on how my Easters have changed over the years.

St. Wenceslaus Church was filled with dolled up tots, wearing their Easter dresses and mini-ties. In years past, my boys would have been dressed to the tees with brightly colored polo shirts and cool shoes. Now as young adults who choose their own clothes, I will give them credit for looking very handsome today as well.

My Easter preparations have also changed significantly over the years. I reflected on the fact that this was my first Easter with the boys with no Easter baskets or dyed eggs. I actually bought no candy and didn't even consider it.

Garrett and I had to ponder what we did last Easter. Did we have our kids and were we even together? After slight hesitation, we remembered that the two of us were kid-free and skiing in Crested Butte during last year's holiday weekend. Yes, times have definitely changed since the Easters of the boys' toddler years.

I will tell you that no one felt slighted with the lack of goodies. Village Inn after mass was a unanimous hit. And the boys were confident that Grandma Cookie would spoil them with plenty of candy at the Lane family gathering this afternoon. Garrett is counting on some extra landing back at my house tonight.

As for Garrett and I, we are just watching some basketball with our computers fired up. I am also enjoying my new I-Pad Mini (Happy Easter to me?). Some inspiration did motivate me to go through old photo albums and pull a few of my favorite pictures of Easters past. Aren't they cute? <sigh>. And speaking of both cute having young adults, the video that Grant and Ben produced (and that FaceBook subsequently pulled from my page...Harlem Shake must be a copyright problem) is below as well. Happy Easter from the Lane's!!

Grant's version of the Harlem Shake (choreography and egging on via Ben)

Grant is a newborn. Boys enjoy their Easter blow-up chairs

Love this pix. All jammies were made by Gma Mary. Harry in the background.
Thomas slippers on Grant and all with sleepy heads

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 30, 2013: A Little Garden

Our very large garden was just past the white barn

As children, we would help our mom and grandma tend to our large garden on our grandparent's farm. Below are my mom's words on memories surrounding our garden...

The huge garden was on the south side of the big barn, the cattle lot abandoned long ago, but rich with "aged" manure. Mom knew it was perfect for a vegetable garden. You name it, we grew it, by the bushel. Oh, did I mention the cantaloupes? None better, hands down! the tomatoes - what a crop. How many pints and quarts I canned - lost count. You kids called them "screwed" tomatoes - not "stewed" as was the proper name (the ingredients for stewed tomatoes are tomatoes, onions, celery and sugar). the sweet corn was to die for! our chest freezer was busting at the seams.

All of us, Mom, me, Sandy, Matt and Mark worked together to plant and had fun doing it. String was used to line up the rows (they had to be straight!); with plenty of shovels for everyone,we dug the "trenches". Mom gave each of us seeds with specific instructions on how far apart to space them. A shovel full of manure went into every hill for tomatoes plants and cantaloupe seeds (6 seeds to a hill). Mom was so was the manure that helped produce the best garden ever.

Every weekday morning, just after sun up, me and the kids piled into the pick-up and headed out to the farm. Always best for freezing and canning, the dew had to be on the plants when harvested and the produce processed soon after.

As I recall, not much enthusiasm came from the three of you. But I do give you credit for helping considering your young ages. After a while - in the morning - we cut you some slack and let you go up to the house to hang out with Gpa Doc, Rich, Guy and Kathy. Hit by a bad hailstorm, the cabbages didn't fare so well one year.

The last crop out of the ground, usually early November of even late October - was carrots...trash bags full. Thank goodness they stored well. Our share of the carrots ended up in the vintage fridge in our garage. Much to my surprise they were frozen hard as a rock upon my checking on them later...that was OK...they cooked up fine and stayed frozen in the fridge until we used the last of them.

Sadly, the gardening came to an end. Mom was in the garden by herself and with produce in one hand and a sharp knife in the other, she fell a few feet before reaching the side of the driveway, cutting her hand rather badly.

For many years afterward we talked about our garden, how the five of us worked together and the satisfaction of knowing our efforts produced the best garden ever!

Friday, March 29, 2013

March 29, 2013: It's Official...Now Formerly of Lutz

Promotion announcement in 1995

It's a wrap. I am officially a Lutz Alumni...former employee..past shareholder. No mounted picture will be displayed on wall memorializing my past work and none is needed. Just a new chapter in my life and as I like to say; it was a good run.

As the boys helped me pack up my office today, Grant asked "Mom, is this weird? Are you sad?" I thought for a moment and knew that although the sentiment was a little bittersweet, I felt fine.

"Grant, when you finish 7th grade, will you be sad to be done or ready for 8th grade?"

"Both, but mostly happy for 8th grade" was Grant's response. Bingo.

As I drove off, I knew that all the people I have shared life with, co-workers and clients, would still be friends. I am only a stone's throw away. The nature of our relationship will just change a bit and no more tax seasons for me <smile>.

After arriving home I dug through some basement files looking for my initial hiring announcement in 1990. I didn't find that particular newspaper clipping, but did find some other vintage Lutz treasures. I had saved a handwritten time sheet from 4/14/91. I worked 82 hours that week. And 75 of those hours were chargeable (for you rate times hours folks!).

I remember that tax season very well. I am quite sure there were no more than 15 total employees at Lutz at the time (now 150ish).  I worked side by side with Jean, Toni and Doris bustling through tax return input and assembly. We used red pencils for changes and were just teetering with technological assistance.

The article below was sent to me from my Grandma Gib. I love seeing her handwriting on pieces of memorabilia like this. I also found my first work evaluation which was given shortly after that first tax season. It's funny to read because there were seven people above me in the firm participating in the eval.

For each section, a score was given to me by an unidentified #1 thru #7. It was typed on an old typewriter with the photocopy looking pre-historic. I remember trying to figure out who each of the numbers represented. The overall final comment (representing the collective seven) was "doing an outstanding job - keep it up! We feel you have tremendous potential - your level of responsibility will increase."

It kind of sounds like a fortune cookie, doesn't it? On that note, Grant is begging me to go to Panda. I love a good fortune. If it's a telltale sign of my future, I'll let you know!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 28, 2013: Goin' to the Chapel...

Gma Doc, me, Great-Gma Hahn, Mom
This four generations picture was taken June 14, 1975 at St. Margaret Mary's Catholic Church in Omaha, Nebraska. We were at my Uncle Dennis and Aunt Rebecca's wedding

(Guest blogger today is my beautiful mother, Mary)...

Joan, a bridesmaid, rode with us to Omaha. For the entire ride she and I sat in the back seat while I finished the alterations on her dress. I was sweating bullets and she was in tears! The dress was purchased in Omaha with alterations to be made there, but it didn't happen. Joan brought the dress home with her on the Thursday night prior to the wedding; I did what I could on Friday, but didn't finish. What a ride!

March 27, 2013: Big Bird Revival

Photo by Grant (my very reliable photographer)
I decided to break out my yellow sweater today. I am guessing the inspiration was Easter. It reminded me of a blog I wrote some time back after the purchase of this canary treasure. Today will be a blog repeat...

People are known to have flashbacks to traumatic childhood experiences. Memories that are in the dark recesses of their mind and triggered back to the present by some trivial incident. I just had this happen to me. Fortunately my lost memory didn't entail physical harm or something incredibly sad. Don't get me wrong; at the time it was devastating to me. But I can now chalk it up to yet one more childhood experience that helped thicken my skin.

The flashback came to me just an hour ago at work.  I was sitting at my desk; quietly working.  One of my partners, Scott, walked by my office and commented in passing, "Hey...great sweater.  Love the yellow on you."  Love the memory was triggered.  

Now let's go back to the lost memory.  The setting was 1977 in the dead of a cold Iowa winter. I was a 5th Grader at Remsen St. Mary's grade school. My mom's role as the family wardrober is the focal point of this story.  To give you a little insight on my amazingly talented mom; she made (sewed) virtually all of our clothes as kids.  Every shirt, vest, pant, and dress were handmade by Mom.

Mom loved a challenge and would take on robes, Sunday dresses, and overalls.  No sewing challenge seemed too much for her. But there were limitations that led Mom to purchase some of our clothing items.  Winter coats that could handle the bitter Iowa cold were one of these.  Equally talented as a shopper, Mom would wait until the end of the season and to buy our winter coats on sale. These store bought clothes were a special treat, hand picked and paid for by Mom. 

At the end of the winter season that year, Mom was on the prowl for some after-Christmas sales on winter coats.  She came home, obviously pleased, with a large bag and a big smile. Mom found what she thought was the perfect coat for me. Out of bag was the reveal of an over-sized bright yellow knee-length coat. It was puffy and hooded with a thin apple green stripe on the waistline. Other than this green stripe, the entire coat was bright canary yellow; all the way to the fur-look fleece outlining the hood.

My gut reaction was that that this wasn’t good.  Mom felt otherwise…a beautiful coat and a great find that would fit me through the next winter too!  More panic…I really knew this wasn’t good.  But I couldn’t hurt my mom’s feelings or be ungrateful for this store bought purchase, so I hesitantly wore it to school the next day.
Through the hustle and bustle of the school hallway, there were no compliments or comments on my coat from my classmates. The only reaction were some funny looks.  I was old enough to know that this wasn’t a good sign.  I quickly stuffed the coat (with quite a bit of effort) into my locker.  Lunchtime arrived and it was time to parade in my new coat again.

All lunches were served at our high school, so we would walk five blocks daily to eat lunch. We also ate in waves of two classes at a time.  Our 5th grade class ate with the 6th graders.  As we entered the cafeteria, the 6th graders did not feel the need to give me the same break on my flamboyant coat as my 5th grade counterparts. “Hey, look, it’s Big Bird!!!” one boy yelled. The circle of kids around him laughed. I was mortified. There I stood in my new yellow coat knowing they were right; I looked exactly like Big Bird.
This was the year of the parka. Every kid had a parka in navy, black, or maroon. Instead I was a canary among mice with my Big Bird coat. I ignored my adversaries and surrounded myself with friends. It was my first experience with pure embarrassment and humiliation.

For weeks that same boy taunted me daily with Big Bird comments to the chagrin of his friends.  But I couldn’t hurt my mom’s feelings nor could I expect her to buy me another coat, so I followed the same routine day after day.  I wore the yellow coat, was heckled at lunch, and ignored the antagonists.  I think they finally tired of no response to their teasing.  Eventually I stopped hearing the Big Bird comments.

The blessing in disguise was that the yellow coat showed dirt easily and was filthy by the end of that winter.  My mom deemed it ruined.  Although this was a sad day for Mom, it was a happy day for me.  Big Bird would not be flying back the next winter.  And by the way, I was the proud recipient of a hand-me-down parka the next winter.  It was navy blue.      

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 26, 2013: Fr. Mel

Fr. Mel died a year ago. That's so hard to believe. The above photo was forwarded to me from Louie, a mutual friend of Mel's. Funny how life has interesting turns. A year ago Louie and I were honorary pallbearers at Mel's funeral and now I see her frequently at physical therapy. My ACL surgery brought me the pleasant surprise in sharing a bit of life again with this awesome lady.

We both knew this anniversary was approaching when we chatted at my last visit. With smiles and teary eyes we remembered our old friend. Louie shared some notes and pictures from his family. His memory is very much alive despite the year that's passed. It amazes me how many people he positively touched during his time on earth. Heartwarming stories of him have frequently popped up over the last year. His empathy and connection with the human spirit are evidenced by these stories.

I only knew Fr. Mel during the last years of his life when he was battling illness. With this timing came an unexpected gift. I started a friendship with Mel's brother. We met, by accident, one day at the assisted living center where Fr. Mel last lived. Father hadn't made it to the daily mass that day. I went to talk to the nurse and check on his well being.

A man stood with his back to me. For a brief moment I thought it was Mel. It was obvious to me that a  relationship existed when the man turned and introduced himself. The man with the like resemblance was Mel's brother, Jerry. This was the beginning of my friendship with this very kind-hearted and humble man. The apple obviously didn't fall far from the tree.

Through the last month of Mel's life, I got to know Jerry quite well. From e-mails, sharing stories, hospice visits, and many hugs and tears; Jerry and I became friends. He is a big teddy bear and makes me smile; just like Mel. After Father's death, our interactions have been few. But the bond that was formed during that short period of time will always be a part of each of our life journeys.

As Louie shared with me her friendships with Mel's family and I thought about Jerry; I was quickly reminded that Mel continues to give us blessings. It is a bit of paying it forward, isn't it? A person who is impactful in their lifetime, plants many seeds that flourish even after their physical presence is gone. Now that's a real gift.

Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25, 2013: Never a Dull Moment

A Scheel's run after dinner

I hear parents complain about their kids not knowing the art of playing. Not at my house. No doubt I would prefer that video games were outlawed, but my boys do know how to have fun and play. And play means the good old fashion way; being outside, making up games, wrestling, creating...the good stuff.

Tonight was a good night. All three boys sat around the kitchen table for dinner. Both Stefano and Garrett were here to join us too which was frosting on the cake. The dinner conversation centered around hockey, weekend fun, sports, and boy jokes. There were many smiles. The lack of table manners was covered up by the enthusiasm in their non-stop dialogue.

My boys are just plain fun. Their methods to make their mother laugh does draw them many "byes". Too many, I'm sure, as I am quite sure they use these tactics to game the system. Oh well. Consider me gamed. Like my mom always said, sugar is better than vinegar.

(side note...check the video Zach pulled together on his hockey goal making abilities. My boys are hockey nuts and have been playing non-stop street hockey since we went to the Blackhawks game; regardless of outside temperature <smile>)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 24, 2013: Story Time

Mom catching a ride with little sister, Kathy
My mom is my biggest blogger fan (thanks, Mom!). But the truth of the matter is that she is the master memory-holder and story teller. She holds the coveted position of curator of the family genealogy files. A fetish for details, Mom sleuths every hole in the family history timelines and traces names of the unrecognized faces in the old family photos. She's a pro.

And Mom has an eye for a great photo. She finds the treasures hiding in old albums. The best photos carry a story. There is nothing better then when my e-mail lights up after she stumbles on a good one. The above photo came with the note below. I love the the naturalness to the snapped picture; with Kathy pulling up the back of her dress and my mom working on her ladylike posture.

"I was going to Briar Cliff at the time. Not sure about the Microbus' year. We didn't have it very long. However, David had many a "party" in it when he was a senior. All of us were extremely embarrassed to be seen in it as there were none others - for sure none others in the county. It was a dog. Dad was ahead of his time....we drove Karmann Ghia's & VW's when no one else had even heard of them. God bless Mom & Dad....we miss them!"

March 23, 2013: Madness

A visiting friend has cried foul on our basketball fixation of late. Admittedly born without the sporting gene, talk of back-to-back games and broken brackets sounds mad to his foreign ears. "How on earth can watching a bouncing ball fascinate the masses?" Welcome to March Madness.

The next pause from our amiable friend was the abundance of TV screens in every public establishment. From fancy restaurants to the media-ridden sports bars, we Americans are never far away from our favorite live game. A seemingly spectacle to foreign eyes. A norm to our daily living. We can't get enough. And it would be deemed impolite not to ask your waitress how her bracket looks.

Although most are in touch with the current standings. An update is only a Tweet, FB post, or streaming video away on our I-phones. Mad? Nah, just a great diversion to close out the winter and bring in the spring. You know what they say...when you go to Rome, do what the Romans do.

March 22, 2013: Time

Isn't Garrett cute? His dad thinks so...
then he blinked and 40 yrs passed
Time. An asset often. An area of stress; many times. Although we all cherish it, we also wish it a way at times too. A good friend once shared with me his mother's wise advice "never wish time away". This was shared after some whining on my part on my child's "terrible twos" stage.

So as I sat in church with irrelevant children, back in the day, I would remind myself of this. Instead of sweating it, I remembered there would be a day I would be in church alone; smiling at other's babies and wondering how mine grew so fast. Everyone told me this would happen and it did.

Time is something I value very much. When it's limited, I'm greedy with it. Raising kids I would often think of the value of an hour and how one used poorly was an hour taken away from them. With Garrett in Denver and our time very limited, we have grown used to enjoying every minute we have together. On those weekends where other obligations tie us up, we feel a bit cheated.

Time had a different meaning this last week. It went slowly. As I laid in bed with leg propped, I longed for each day to pass as I would be one day closer to recovery. Was I was wishing time away? Sure sounds like it. My visions were my future days on my bike, running from meeting to meeting, and leisurely gardening in my backyard.

Last week I would mark off each recovery day as a day gone and closer to my goal. I would be bored at times and other times found myself enjoying the quiet. The unexpected silence that is typically unusual in my world brought needed relaxation and clear thoughts. As I teetered between impatience and welcoming the calm, I received a motivational quote via an e-mail that got my attention.

The quote that I woke up to this Thursday morning was "Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity." Hmmm...this last week has been an opportunity. Time to smell the roses and think through life. Time to quietly stretch and learn to use my leg again instead of rushing through a grueling cardio workout.

Feeling comfortable in the quiet of my room without the typical noise of life wasn't a bad thing. Everything happens for a reason. If I'm open to it, I may find some opportunities that come out of my perceived misfortune. Time is really what you make of it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 21, 2013: Under the Covers

All is forgiven...Abby snuggles up to me
I like milestones. Today is one week post-surgery. Amen to Week One under the belt. The second milestone was getting under the covers again. Last night was the first night in a week I slept under the covers on my bed. Bliss. My cat, Abby, is just as pleased with life back to nighttime normalcy.

Abby is fickle. Last night at piano I played a song called "The Woman is Fickle" (for those interested...from the beginning of act 3 of Guiseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto - 1851). All I could think about while playing the song was "no, I'm good. The fickle female in my house is my cat". My short-term sleeping arrangement and temporary immobility had sent her into a tail spin.

She was told not to climb on me. She hated that. She wasn't allowed to sleep in my room. This was followed by her hissing at Stefano. She hated my crutches. She was annoyed by my "stuff" on her side of the bed. I was invading her space.

She spent most of her time over the last week hiding under my bed and pouting. She would ignore me on the rare occasions when she swallowed her pride and laid at the end of the bed. No sympathy for her all. Abby was pissed.

This week as the midnight wake-up calls for meds ended with minimal nightly disruptions, Abby came around. I woke up at 2:00 in morning this Tuesday to Abby snuggled in my arm (pictured above...couldn't resist capturing this feline moment). Obviously we had made up.

Last night was the blissful moment when I pulled down the comforter and slept in the sheets; no leg propping necessary. I woke up to Abby purring just inches away from my covered feet. We are now officially back to normal. I hope she doesn't hold grudges.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 20, 2013: Mixed Messages

I love good news. I love a happy ending. When God has other plans, my heart is heavy. This weekend I received notification from two Caringbridge posts. One was on a friend who miraculously was living life with no signs of her cancer. A true joy and a blessing. I was so happy for this amazing woman and her family.

The second post had the opposite news. This friend is losing her battle with cancer. She is in hospice and dying. A shock. She is young; very young. She was so full of life the last time I saw her. I was at a loss on why God would take her from us. Such a joy on earth.

Now I can only pray; knowing we are all human and God has a plan for each one of us. A plan that none of us know. A plan that can be painful and difficult, but can also be joyful and happy. One day at a time. Live each day to the fullest.

Two favorite quotes come to mind as I pray for my friends as they continue their journeys. Both of these women exemplify the spirit of these quotes and live by these words. The first is credited to Ronald Reagan: "Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God."

The second by the great Ralph Waldo Emerson: "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

Great words to live by. Watching others lead by this example is even a greater inspiration. Lastly, as I sadly think of my friend, Holly, finishing her battle on earth, I want to share a Bible quote. Holly was a great support to our mutual friend, Butch, as he lost his battle with cancer many years ago. The following scripture was read at Butch's funeral. This passage is an embodiment of Holly's wonderful spirit and her courageous fight on earth. Many prayers your way, Holly girl. You will be greatly missed.

"As for me, I am already being poured out in sacrifice, and time of my deliverance is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will give me in that day; yet not to me only, but also to those who love his coming."
~ 2 Timothy 4:6-8

March 19, 2013: Natural Brightening and Technical Blackout

Gifts of flowers in full bloom
I woke up to a room full of brightly colored flowers; blooming brilliantly. What a pleasant surprise and a great way to start a day. I really haven't had this much attention since I had babies. In fact I keep thinking back to those days. That's really what this recuperation reminds me of...except no newborn. Lots of people milling around, helping out. Visitors, flowers, and phone calls. Forgetting the time of the day, but with the days flying by quickly with me wondering what I really accomplished.

Instead of waking up to a newborn to be nursed, it's pain pills at the wee hours and ice bags. It is funny how we completely forget about periods in our life and then later incidences bring them front and center. For me, my room full of flowers and my delicate condition (which like the childbearing days, really is not that delicate) so remind be of the baby years. The timing of my boys' April births and this March date is probably another factor. But instead, I look at my independent soon-to-be 20, 17 and 13 year-old's as they help their gimpy mom.

Apologies for the lateness of this blog posting. I had to look at my pretty flowers and count to ten while dealing with a technology blackout. I went black at noon with no noted progress to wi-fi relief at 11:00 p.m. Remember that patience thing with me? So instead of gritting my teeth while wondering why this tech stuff is always such a cluster, I would count and remind myself it could be worse. Way worse. So now it's morning and I've decided to take matters into my own hands. Will let you know how that works out :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013: Back to Normal?

Compression icing at PT
The advice I've been told over and over with my injury is the importance of PT, PT, and more PT. Today was my first physical therapy appointment. With it, I feel nothing short of on my way to recovery and back to sport. A good day. I look forward to the day when this is all in my past as I run the trails again and climb steps, free of crutches.

I am good with one day at a time. Somethings can't be hurried; like healing and rehab. Good things come to those who wait, right? So I will wait. And as I wait, I will follow my PT exercises like a good student, drink my water, and ice my knee. The last thing I want to do is re-injure and start over. This is God's way of testing my patience, I am sure (since I wasn't born with this gene).

So back to my new normal....taking it easy, every day a little better than the last, and staying the course. And, Mom, I PROMISE to listen the the doctors and physical therapists. It's a marathon and not a sprint. I get it and will pace myself...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17, 2013: Appreciation

a favorite suit from the 80's
(of hose, navy pumps and bold gold jewelry)

My first true accounting internship (one that required a suit) was with LeMars Mutual Insurance Company. When I was notified of this paid internship, I was thrilled. The excitement of the job was high with great anticipation of what I thought a corporate accounting internship entailed. I quickly found out that the job description was less than glamorous.

LeMars Mutual had just purchased a smaller insurance company. My job was to take the files of the purchased company and incorporate them into the filing system of LeMars Mutual. In modern day, this would be classified as a mass scanning project. No debits or credits and definitely not up to the executive level of my newly purchased suits.

Regardless of the the task, I decided to give it my all. Perhaps if I showed the effort, I would get asked to go to the upper floor where accounting and VP's were officed. So I rolled up my sleeves and went to work digging through the mountain of files; converting the paper and color system to corporate standard. It really was a time and motion study in the making.

Jo was the guru of timed process within the insurance company. I don't know her exact title, but watched as she timed people, stop watch in hand, as they performed their jobs around the office. I believe her title in today's world would be Six Sigma Black Belt. She knew lean and she knew how to avoid inefficiencies.

The other employees didn't like Jo. She was abrupt, direct, and had high expectations. Perfect for this role. She sure didn't make friends along the way and subsequently didn't seem to care what people thought of her either.

Jo was in charge of me. On day one, she explained my job from start to finish and then let me loose. It didn't take long for me to catch on and my efforts didn't go unnoticed. Jo brought to my attention that I was weeks ahead of schedule in completing the entire project. I didn't see that coming. With words of encouragement by Jo and a goal put in front of me (beat the deadline by a long shot), I kept cranking on the files; completing the file integration in record time.

I was asked to continue my internship at LeMars Mutual with the desired move upstairs to the executive level. I would be doing real accounting work this second go around. Although being offered this better position was important, that isn't what's stayed with me all of these years. What stays warmly in my memory is a little box of chocolates and a thank-you note.

I have saved this little memento all these years. The empty box and note is in a storage box in the basement. Barring my bad knee, I would have rummaged through boxes today to find it; just for a smile and old-times sake.

The day I had completed the filing project, way back when, I found on my desk a small box with an attached sticky note. Jo had left me a little box of Russell Stover's assorted chocolates with a hand-written note, "Sandy, thank-you for making this big transition happen so quickly. We are all grateful for your hard work. ~ Jo"

I felt so appreciated. That note of thanks and her thoughtfulness in buying the chocolates meant so much. It was completely unexpected. And it's always stayed with me. Never underestimate the value of giving appreciation. The power of genuine appreciation and gratitude is immeasurable.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16, 2013: Gaming Extraordinaire

Ben and Grant happy with their latest trade
I tell my kids I have gaming skills. Obviously this is a joke. The few times they did hand me their controllers, it was only a matter of seconds before my guy died or I was defeated. Since I am never quite sure the goals of these various video games, I'm not quite sure how I lost. But definitely a loser; that's me.

I get the "seriously, Mom" look frequently when I call their PS2 a DS4, SuperDuper NintendoHD or XGameIV. There are way too many numbers and initials involved with these gaming systems that don't seem to ever be compatible. Sure seems like a scam from an outsider looking in. Just when they have everything for one system, a new "gotta have it" game comes out for a different one.

The latest rage for my gamer children is trading in old games for new or new for old; depending on their preference of the day. Game Stop knows them well. Today they were thrilled to come home with a "vintage" play system. They purchased a Super Nintendo which is "so old, Mom...from when you were in college!" The good old days.

My kids are correct on the timeline. It was when I was in college that our first Nintendo came under the Christmas tree. We played Track & Field, Mario, and Donkey Kong until wee hours of the morning. I actually wasn't horrible either. I could probably brush up on my skills and hang with the boys on their new yet vintage Nintendo. They may even be impressed. Hmmmm...we'll see.

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013: Am I Bored?

Perfect place for my computer

Garrett just called to check in on me. "Do you wish you had a TV in your room?" he asked. After over 24 hours confined to my upstairs quarters, this thought had never crossed my mind. TV? That's right...I am supposed to be watching continuous television. That's what you do when bed-bound. I missing the boat?

As you can see in this picture, my bedroom hutch holds only my color printer and office supplies. There was a television there once, but I never watched it. Never. The wasted use of space bothered me. One day I thought I had a brilliant idea and completed my office space with a nearby printer. The TV went to Goodwill. And I've never missed it.

Next question "Are you bored?" Hmmm...not at all, actually. I am very comfortable and content. Between meds, exercises and potty breaks; I am reading, writing and listening to a little Pandora radio (Les Miserable is the running favorite). As I occupy the right side of my bed, my little pieces of entertainment occupy my left: a book on transforming healthcare, the Bible, I-Pad, my journal, photos to be organized, and a stack of work-related paperwork that needs tending to.

With computer on my lap and phone to my ear, I then rattled off my list of accomplishments for the day to Garrett (checked off as completed with an orange highlighter). Nope, I'm definitely not bored. Just a few things left on the list before I call it a night...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 14, 2013: Surgery Day

post-surgery smile (relief??)
I've never had surgery before. This unbroken record hasn't even been a thought until now. After being asked this question over and over during the pre-screening process, I am feeling like the exception. And to be honest, I'm feeling pretty darn lucky. "No surgery?" is the typical response to my answer of "no" followed by my reaffirmation of "none". Based on feedback from the clinicians, this is more rare than not for a forty-five year-old active woman. No C-sections, appendices removal , broken bones or bad gallbladders for me. I am lucky.

Being a novice, there was some minimal apprehension last night. No anxiety, but a desire to just get it over with. The last life event that mirrored these feelings was on April 13, 2000; the night before the scheduled birth of Grant. As a purchase of crutches and removal of nail polish bogged my to-do list last night; thirteen years ago it was coordination of older boys back packs and my choice preferred clothing for the ride home. I suspect that this yearning for organizational control is my innate response to apprehension.

This go around, I did not come home with a bundle of joy. Instead I was greeted with an FTD box filled with gorgeous lilies. Thanks to Garrett for this awesome surprise. A box of joy. At age forty-five, this is much better than the take-home model.

In summary I will tell you that my surgery experience was superb (BIG plug for Nebraska Ortho Hospital). The doctor, hospital staff, and many nurses were top notch. There is no doubt they fully understand the importance of the consumer experience and it's direct affect on patient engagement. My cousin, Stefano, is staying with me and is a God-sent. A second set of ears at the hospital and hands at home; I now know to be a necessity in a successful inpatient to home transition.

Why the smile on my face in the picture above, you ask? Coffee!! It really is the small things in life that bring us happiness. Past the moment I woke up from anesthesia and realized that I did indeed wake up, the happiest part of my experience was when I was offered this cup of coffee in post-op. Keep in mind that I had been fasting for the ten hours prior. And although I truly do love my coffee, the normalcy to this guilty pleasure gave me a feeling of being on the mends and ready to walk out of the hospital doors. It was a good feeling.

Now I am icing, medicating, and recuperating in the comfort of my home. The way I see it, it will only get better from here. Each day is one day closer to my typical "normal". I will never take for granted the ability to exercise or to move, for that matter. What a gift I had and didn't even know it. No doubt I will appreciate every step on my future runs through Zorinsky and the freedom of riding miles on my bike with a functioning knee. Skiing the Heavy Metal run again? You bet. But I promise to ease into it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 13, 2013: White Smoke and the Papal Celebrity

Summer of 1979
(my grandparents with Aunt Kathy in back)
(Matt, cousin Andrew, me in front)

My grandma loved the Pope. She loved everything about the Pope. She would have been glued to the TV watching every moment of the Vatican events of recent days. CNN would have been her best friend and the Internet a welcomed accompaniment to her Papal selection research. The white smoke, no doubt, would have created a furor for her if she were still alive and living on the farm.

I know this to be true because my brother and I were eye witnesses to her wonderment of Pope John Paul II in 1979. She was in a state of grace that day the beloved pope visited Des Moines, Iowa. It felt like nothing short of a miracle that this leader to billions of devout Catholics would travel to our little rural state on his first trip to the US.

The trip was initiated by a fellow Iowa farmer who wrote a handwritten letter to the pontiff. The writer, Joe Hays, shared many commonalities with my grandma. He was sixty-nine and an Iowan farmer. After learning of John Paul II's planned visit to America, he wrote to the Pope stating that the strength of the church was found in its rural people. Grandma agreed with Mr. Hays; as did I. The Pope obviously agreed as well.

A month after the letter was sent, Mr Hays was called to a August 29, 1979 news conference announcing the visit. "I put on my teal green leisure suit," he recently told the Des Moines Register in an interview. We Iowans were so proud of our handsomely suited farmer and thrilled at the prospect of a Papal visit.

350,000 people made the pilgrimage to Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa that day in early fall. The rest of us watched it on our television set. Grandma wore her favorite blue dress in anticipation of the big event. Mark and I sat by her side. It felt like we were in church, but joining in like modern day video-conferencing. Grandma sang and talked to the TV as though she was joining via interactive telecommunication.

In her mind she was among her fellow pilgrims taking in every word of the Pope. Mark and I saw it differently though. We kept eyeballing each other, wondering if Grandma had truly lost it. While she felt like she was there, all we saw was a grandma enthralled with the fuzzy TV screen. The more Grandma clapped and appeared drawn in to the television monitor, the more Mark and I would lock eyes with quizzical looks.

Just when we thought we had reached a point of containing our merriment of the situation (we were getting a case of the giggles), Grandma walked to the piano and grabbed her Polaroid camera. With her blue dress covering our range of vision, she bent over with the lens aimed squarely at the television. Mark and I locked eyes again sharing the thought of "oh my gosh, she's taking a picture of the TV!!" And then one of us laughed.

Grandma finished her picture and reprimanded us for our irreverence to the Pope. "Do you not understand what a big deal this is? This is a moment in history we will never forget." And we haven't. Grandma then placed her treasured Polaroid on display next to the piano music. It stayed there for years. Grandma was proud and savored her special time with the Pope...the Catholic phenom.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 12, 2013: Thoughts with my Hairdresser

Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Today was my haircut/color day. The day set aside to get rid of my looming gray stragglers. And I always look forward to this day. The conversation incurred over this time allotted for my hair procedures is put to good use.

Amy and I discuss ideas and life. From it I feel like a greater person. Does anyone actually feel better after discussing people? Not typically, I would suspect. They probably do feel smaller.

From raising kids to faith and big life decisions, we talk it through. Amy always looks for the positive while being self-critical when fairly due. We challenge each other to be objective and forward thinking. Learn from your mistakes. Do the right thing for all involved. Know there is a power much greater than yourself. Acknowledge that you're only human. And think outside the box once in a while.

Yep, I got a new hairdo and am very happy with it. Even better, I am feeling a little keener on how to tackle tomorrow and the day after that. All in a day's work for a good hairdresser.

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013: Spring? Come on...

Snow, snow...go away...
We went to bed in a thunderstorm and woke up to a snowstorm. I should have assumed this was a possibility, but I didn't. On Saturday I had visions of front porch spring pots dancing in my head. I wondered how my tulips would look surrounding my house with my backyard additions. I didn't have a clue that there was a bit of destiny behind my not taking the snowflakes off my front display.

The irony is that this snowstorm was much more of a hit than the big over-inflated want-to-be-storm from a couple of weeks ago. The St. Louis travelers are stuck in Kansas City and Garrett and I are a bit worried over his flight this morning. We shall see.

I am feeling bullish in not scooping my walks. I'm banking on some warm sunshine to do the job for me. St. Patty's Day...bullish again. I foresee us all outside in our short sleeves, sipping on green beer with this little snow dump a distant memory. We should just label this little weather event as a temporary spring diversion.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March 10, 2013: Flat Sandy

Flat Sandy enjoying post-game beers with Robbie (her creator) and Kelly
A random act of kindness. Sometimes quiet, sometimes subtle, and sometimes just plain fun. Robbie's Flat Sandy adventure gave me a huge smile. The exploits of this "fun Sandy" felt like warm hug from miles away. And it was just what the doctor ordered.

For those unfamiliar with us crazy Creighton Bluejays fans, we love our team and we love to follow them to the grand finale of the season; the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Although basketball is the focal point, it really is one big party in St. Louis. Many fun memories have been made in that city each year in early March.

2009 had brought some unexpected twists in my life and Robbie was right by my side, helping me get through. She had the astute ability to make even the most difficult situations easier with a smile and a laugh. Lending an ear to listen and giving sensible feedback was Robbie's secret sauce.

She and Russ completely understood when I opted not to join the Jays fun in St. Louis that year. Sensing my feeling of last minute regret in staying back, Robbie came up with her Flat Sandy idea. I had no idea of what she cooked up until the pictures started showing up in to texts to me.

Following the Flat Stanley story line of children's book, Robbie cut out my mug complete with a Bluejay decal on my cheek and created a Flat Sandy. This paper doll was dressed as a cheerleader, but was outfitted with Ugg boots, a spare "going out" outfit, and Coach purse. Sandy Lane stayed home, but Flat Sandy was raring to go.

The usual suspects went on the road trip to Missouri with Flat Sandy belted in. The video of the complete adventure is in this link, Fun with Flat Sandy video. While back in Omaha trying to cope with my new life, I had many laughs while receiving the plethora of texts and pictures on Flat Sandy's adventures that weekend. My friends were having a blast and so was I (both of me).

A highlight of a random Flat Sandy moment was in the check out line at the hot tub store. As the young man rung me up, a beep sounded from my phone indicating a text message. The message was from Russ and read "The Mayor says Hi" and a picture popped up with no other than Mayor Mike Fahey wearing his classic smile while holding my flat image. I showed the young worker. "Wow," was his response, a bit confused. "The Mayor is holding a paper doll of you." Yep, exactly. Thanks, Rob.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 9, 2013: Anxiety Epilogue

My mom
In my mom's typical words of wisdom, she gave me encouragement on my recent anxiety episodes (described in my MRI blog from a couple of days ago). She shared a story of her own anxiety when I was fifteen and hospitalized for over a week with pneumonia.

Mom's words describing this event in our lives were heart-wrenching to read. I really had no idea how difficult this was for her. As an adult and parent myself, I now completely understand. Reading her words brought an unexpected mist to my eyes and a lump in my throat.

"You described it perfectly in your blog. Do you agree that it's hard to understand (anxiety) until we experience it? Be strong, be strong...those were the words (my friend and co-worker) spoke to me as she stroked my back. You'd been in the hospital for over a week with pneumonia and still wasn't getting better. You weren't responding to the typical drugs used to treat pneumonia. The doctor changed your meds and the very next day you miraculously came around and sat up in bed. It was a very good day."

Hearing my mom's story of past anxiety reminded me that we are all struggling with something at any given time. It may be anxiety, stress, pain...a loss. Very rarely do people share these struggles nor do they need to. As humans we need to give each other a break as we whisk through our daily lives.

The smile that appears to be absent or the silence that seems rude may have a deeper meaning. I am thankful for my mom's caring friend and the comfort she gave her way back when. My mom sure never forgot. A lesson for us all.

March 8, 2013: Another Friday

A quiet morning of oatmeal, SB and a little e-mail 
Other than Garrett being in town, I don't think I would have a clue that it's Friday. My days seem to gel together as of late. I'm okay with that, but it sure makes the close of the week a welcomed surprise. Once I realized it truly was Friday, I looked ahead at the weekend. Nothing on the calendar. Nothing.

The Irish returned to Ireland and work can now wait until Monday. A needed break. And Garrett's in town. This means we can sleep in and plan our days on a whim. Whatever the feeling of the moment...a movie, an errand, the gym...we can respond.

We often say our weekends together (the quiet ones) have the feel of retired couple. We have been known to hit movies before noon for the discount and often lose track of the time of the day. My retired parents tell me they rarely look at the clock. Why? It doesn't matter. They set their own schedule.

The crackle of the fire place, leftovers beckoning us from the frig, and a Starbucks run are common themes of our quiet weekends. Once I became single, I was asked what was on "my list" for a future suitor. I now know something I wouldn't have had a clue on then. One of the most important traits in your significant other is enjoying each other's company without doing anything at all.

I see a lot couples being social and active within groups of people. I often wonder if they enjoy each other's company on five hour road trips like Garrett and I do. Or if they're comfortable just being together where spurts of silence never gives off the feeling of being alone. I sure hope they have this.

The best partner is one who both plays well and hangs well. Low maintenance and no expectations. I think we call that simply living and enjoying every moment; both those exciting and those reflecting. Yeah, that is definitely high on my list.

Friday, March 8, 2013

March 7, 2013: Anxiety

I got through my MRI. And after the fact, I must admit that the test caused me anxiety. More anxiety than my upcoming surgery. Anxiety isn't a common feeling for me, so my anxiety caused me to be even more anxious. So basically I was anxious over being anxious.Try to figure that one out.

It is an interesting study in human nature what brings on these little episodes. I have never had fear of being in small spaces before. My triggering event was the "body bag" rescue from my ski accident. Per Garrett, I turned completely white when they tied me tightly into the sled. Once my panic was noticed and hands released, my color came back and anxiety went away. But I found this to be short-lived.

Boarding an airplane back from New York, we found ourselves on a puddle jumper. On top of the small plane being overly warm, the ceilings were low and felt suffocating to me. As I sat in my window seat feeling anxious, I began psychoanalyzing my current state of mind. "Seriously, Sandy. Where is this coming from?" was the thought that went through my mind. But I got through it.

In the back of my mind has been this imminent MRI in my future. I have seen these torturing tunnels of claustrophobia. Panic. Anxiety. Fear. That pretty much sums up how I felt on the prospect of this test.

Yesterday was the day. "Get it over with and get over yourself, Sandy" was the resonating thought going through me head. So that I did. And it wasn't easy. The test was 25 minutes and my head was left out, but not my hands <ugh>. My heart was beating at record pace in the beginning, but eventually it dipped down to resting level for the last five minutes. The staff was great. No doubt I wasn't the first to have anxiety in this massive machine.

After many prayers and thoughts of those I love holding my hand, I did it. And I do think I conquered  my fear in the end. I am curious if this is typical therapy for one with claustrophobia. Do they just throw you in a box and tell you to get over it? I do think it worked. I guess we'll find out next time I board a small plane...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March 6, 2013: Lessons in Piano

My awesome piano teacher, Sandy Nabel
I take piano lessons. Although this is my second time around (I took seven years as a child), they are much more enjoyable as an adult. My teacher is Sandy Nabel. She is one of the kindest, most patient persons I have ever met. All three of my boys took years of lessons from Sandy. Grant asked me to join in the fun several years ago. The boys have since moved on and now it is down to just me. And I really like it.

People constantly ask me where I find the time for all of these things I do...piano, blogging, kids, career, travel. Well, I am organized. But I am also greedy with my time. I spend my spare time only on things (and with people) I really enjoy. My main time is occupied with those things that drive, boyfriend, work, and my circle of family and friends.

In my spare time you would never find me watching television or playing IPad games. I'm not judging anyone else, but this isn't how I like to spend the extra hours I squeak out of my day. I say "No" a lot more than in prior years. This has freed up a lot of precious time. A good thing.

I like to play the piano. I like to write. I like to spend time with friends and family, but don't really like to talk on the phone. Meeting in person is preferred. I love my art room and going through old pictures. I like to workout (will need to develop a new strategy with my knee problem). I like to cook and sit down to a meal with my family. Sleep is good. Shopping is rare.

So that's it in a nutshell. That's how I like to spend my 168 hours each week. After a full day of gantt charts, branding meetings, and conference calls with investors; piano was a welcomed thirty minutes of bliss. I am now ending my day with this little blog post while listening to the boys play street hockey outside. A perfect end to the day and the best therapy. Do what you love and take the time to enjoy it.

March 5, 2013: Work in Progress

Unfinished projects come in all shapes and sizes. For my mom it was an unfinished sewing project. A blouse that needed a hem and buttons, but put to the side. Or a coat that needed a final fitting and a zipper. The reason for lack of execution would vary from the wrong season (what's the hurry?) to another priority that came up ahead of it (less fun projects like uniform hemming and patches on jeans).

For others an unfinished project could be the book that was started but never finished or the room design found on Pinterest that lacks the final borders and stucco finish. For me an unfinished project is a blog in draft; a story not completely written that sits in my draft box just waiting for me to push the publish button.

That's where some of my stories come from. A forgotten draft that has suddenly come back to life. People ask how I find time to blog or if I have suffered from writer's block. Not really. When a thought or story strikes me, I hold on to it. Most times I can't wait and write on that inspiration the same day. Occasionally I transfer the story from my mind to my computer without a completed product. A work in progress.

Yesterday's blog I had actually started writing in December following a lunch with a great friend and old client. This last weekend resurrected the original memory and led me to this blog in draft. With some fine-tuning and a second read, out of work in progress and into completion it went...publish status. Always a good feeling. I guess in accounting terms, I carry inventory. That is classified as an asset. Hmmmm...instead of writer's block, I have writer's assets. I like it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March 4, 2013: Wine Lunches

Jay is the handsome dude in the back
(wired glassed, feathered hair and no shirt)
Cindy and I did enjoy a bit of wine on our mom/sons trip to Chicago. Do note that this guilty indulgence is saved for special occasions like these, so no worries on our overall state of mind. The boys were safe and in good hands. The particular story I have to tell isn't centered around Cindy or our quest to solve the word's problems over a good bottle of wine. It is about my first wine lunch in 1983 with my Uncle Jay.

Note that I was sixteen when this event happened. Although I was quite shocked at the pleasantries surrounding the invitation to join him for a glass of vino, I later found the whole adult-ish experience captivating and wonderful (obviously some danger lights were going off early on).

Now let me describe my Uncle Jay. He was one cool cat. The forever bachelor who rode a motorcycle in cut-off jean shorts. His hang-out was Beer City and women LOVED him. He had a quiet air that was both charming and mysterious. Having Jay as an uncle was a good thing in my teenage eyes. I was one generational lineage away from hip.

The setting of my story was Sioux City, Iowa. The restaurant of note was swanky and exuded high-end. I had never been introduced to a restaurant with such strange ingredients or sandwiches with names I couldn't pronounce. There were no taverns or Bob's dogs on this menu. I had no idea that homemade chips were a meal option or that there were sauces outside of mayo, ketchup or mustard. This restaurant had it all. I was in awe of the atmosphere and trendiness.

Sioux City was a frequent destination for me at that age. My grandfather had suffered a stroke. I would often accompany Grandma and Grandpa to Sioux City as he would receive day long rehab at the hospital. On this particular occasion, Uncle Jay stopped to check on his progress. At lunch time, Jay asked if I wanted to catch a bite to eat with him. Although I was a little shocked at the adult-like invitation, I gladly accepted. The expensive restaurant he suggested was not Grandma's cup of tea though. She chose the hospital cafeteria instead.

As the tall modelesque waitress took our order, Jay looked at me and very coolly asked if I wanted a glass of wine with my turkey club sandwich (with some fancy topping). "Sure" was my surprised response. I am certain my eyes were as big as saucers at that point. Without a blink of an eye by either Jay or the pretty waitress, two glasses of white wine with a really fancy name were placed in front of us. No one seemed to care that I was only sixteen. I was thrilled and fell into my role as plush patron.

I munched on my homemade chips and sipped on my wine like a true woman of class. The more I sipped on that wine, the chattier I became. I started telling my Uncle Jay everything that was on my mind. Everything. I talked A LOT. The more I sipped, the more comfortable I became. As I felt this great bonding between us, he developed a very scared look on his face. I believe this was when he realized that I really was only sixteen and he would have to do some explaining to my grandparents.

Uncle Jay didn't offer me a second glass. Feeling warmth in the face with words spilling from my mouth, he paid the bill and we went on our way. I do remember him giving a wink to the waitress and my taking a nap back at the hospital. We never spoke of our lunch. I guess he just wanted to forget. I'm just glad I remembered.

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 3, 2013: In Summary...

The Chicago Crew less Stefano
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will let this snap (along with the various I posted on FB over the weekend) do most of the talking.

My summary of our weekend in Chicago:

  • Boys are fun....happy to be a mom tagging along
  • Sporting events are great fun...and even better when beer is served
  • Chicago people are warm and inviting...they liked us even better when we wore Blackhawks gear
  • Some friends travel better than others...every mom needs to bring her own play date on a trip
  • Wine lunches...a must (foreshadowing of my blog tomorrow)...
Thank-you, Chicago. Good times and great memories :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March 2, 2013: Running Nostalgia

With Zach in 1993. My left ACL in better days.
I miss my ACL. And I am going to miss my runs. This morning was the first time these longing thoughts hit me like a two-by-four. My travel and running buddy, Cindy, went out for a run along Lakeshore Drive this morning. I was back in my hotel room icing my knee. A cousin e-mailed me asking for my thoughts on a baby runner purchase. <sigh>. Other than the end of my pregnancies, have I ever been out of commission and not enjoying this much needed running therapy? Nope.

So, in order to make me feel better (other than the forthcoming wine over lunch with Cindy), I will share a little running nostalgia. The question on baby runner choice sure gave me a smile. It got me into the bowels of an old blog post on my use of that previously owned contraption. The story is as follows...

My parents bought me one of the best presents (or better phrased...most used present) I ever received:  a baby runner as a Mother's Day gift in 1993. Zach was a 4 week old babe. I had to wait a couple of weeks before testing out my new gift. The pediatrician advised me to wait until Zach was 6 weeks before allowing him to ride in the runner (neck strength). I was so excited, waiting for the day of freedom where I could take my little bundle of joy out into the fresh air and enjoy a run together.

The day came and I had little Zach Man decked out in his best outfit...including shoes (the need at 6 weeks?? Good question) and a matching hat; ready to be an "easy rider". It was glorious. And he loved it. My only regret is not putting an odometer on this mobile invention. I can't even begin to guess the number of miles logged by the time I retired it fourteen years and three kids later.

Each kid showed their individual personality as my sidekick in the runner. Zach was always the perfect first child as my companion; rarely fussed and just enjoyed the ride. Since he was my only at the time, we had the benefit of running free whenever I felt the urge.

Benny, on the other hand, was a wild man and constant entertainer. As a chubby infant with a big smile, he caught every one's eye and attention. As a toddler, he almost always brought a form of food or refreshment with him.  Favorite memories are of Ben in the runner sucking on a Popsicle or lollipop.  Once he brought a piece of cake on a plate and ate it with a plastic fork as I pushed him on a run.  People would just bust a gut when they saw me slaving over pushing this smiley guy while he savored his sweets.

As for Grant, I couldn't get him out of the runner. I believe he was seven when I finally had to point out to him the fine print with weight limit restrictions. Only then could I convince him that he was, in fact, too old and too heavy to safely ride in this contraption.

<sigh> There will be good times again on the trail; no doubt and with no baby runner. Back to the ice and rehab....

Some hugs after a run
(left knee/ACL looked good, didn't it?...
okay, I'll let it go now)

March 1, 2013: Oh Say Can You See...

The crowd at the United Center...phenomenal
" the dawn's early light..."

We had an unexpected surprise tonight. I'm not referring to the exciting overtime win by the Blackhawks or the simple fact that they are actually playing (post-lock-out). It was the game opening singing and crowd participation of the National Anthem that took me aback.

I have never experienced anything like it. Not on Husker Saturdays with the best fly overs. Not at any sporting or national activity that I have attended. The energy of the singer and the emotion of the crowd was unexpected and hugely heartwarming. They were roaring and clapping with every word as though they had just won the Stanley Cup.

Cindy and I just turned to each other as it concluded, a bit teary-eyed and awe struck, and mouthed "wow". We looked over at the boys and saw that their reaction mirrored ours. This patriotic start to the game brought a unified joy to the 20,000 spectators in the United Center. The feeling was simply amazing.

It was so impressive that I Googled this show stopper performance and found out that this is a big deal to Chicago. "Fans of the Chicago Blackhawks have traditionally made their presence felt well before the puck is dropped for the opening faceoff of every home game. In the one minute, 38 seconds it takes Jim Cornelison to sing his rip-roaring rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner for the sellout crowd, one can only wonder if United Center becomes the loudest building on the face of the earth at that particular moment." No doubt about that.

I noted to myself that my grandmother would have been happy. On Valentine's Day I blogged on some of her love letters to my grandpa. in one entry she was disgusted with the lack of display of patriotism by her fellow movie-goers. They didn't stand up in the movie when the National Anthem was played. She was not pleased with this lethargy. Fast forward seventy years to tonight at the United; my  grandma would have been standing beside us, hand to heart, beaming with pride.

Friday, March 1, 2013

February 28, 2013: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

It's 6:00 a.m. and I'm on a plane. Again. I feel like I was just here.Wait, I was...yesterday at 2:00 p.m.. But instead of a flight from Chicago to Omaha, I'm going back to Chicago. Do note that I am going to a different airport this time. Whew...almost ordinary if I didn't throw that one in.

But this flight is different. I have the boys with me. Clarification...on the same plane, but not sitting by me. I am an A-Lister (Preferred!). They are not. I like to remind them of that fact. They retaliate by saying they like sitting in the back of the plane. I believe them. As for me, I like the front row and being able to stretch my braced leg out in the extra space.

Some good conversation with familiar faces as the plane boarded. A little nap while the plane took off. Enjoyment of a small cup of coffee. And now a little blogging. Rally time. I feel much better now. Ready for a new adventure. The boys sure are...more to come soon :)