Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30, 2013: My New Workday

A mid-day walk on Thames Street
Day two of my adventure was a day full of technology and a look into the future of healthcare. Did I mention that I love what I am doing? I LOVE what I'm doing. I haven't had this much fun in years. My professional growth is bubbling over and it feels great.

Many have asked me if I have started my new job. I really don't know how to answer this question. There is a perception that I packed a box from Lutz and have now set up a new desk somewhere else in Omaha. Nope. That is not my new reality. No "About Schmidt" boxes of files. No family photos carefully unpacked on a neat new desk with IT set-ups awaiting me.

No doubt I am working, but it feels more like a revolution. A grass roots effort. Building relationships. Solidifying partnerships. Doing the right things for the right reasons. A perfect match to my DNA. And I am having a ball.

Two years ago over a glass of wine at Bonefish Grille, Garrett asked me what my perfect world would be in my professional life. My answer: "I want to do something big; something that positively impacts people's lives." Garrett looked at me as though I was one too deep in the wine. "Can you be more specific?" I didn't have an answer. Then the answer found me.

Now it's all about rolling up my sleeves and hard work. Hard work doesn't include a cushy office with a corporate phone number. It includes seeking out people with a similar value set who see the solutions while carefully analyzing the problems. Thus why I am in Rhode Island. Seeking out like-minded partners with solutions that positively impact the lives of others.

More to come in the months ahead. For now, think of it as a giant research project. We will roll it out to all when the time is right. In the meantime, there is much work to do. Collaboration is key. Rhode Island has been a good trip. Travel tip of the day: Dinner at the Italian quaint eatery, Lucia's, on Thames Street...fabulous. And the company was outstanding. 


April 29, 2013: Day One RI

A great seafood dinner in Newport
First off, Happy Birthday to Ben Lane!! The big 17. Thank-you for letting me sing you the happy birthday song when I woke you up. Sorry that I failed again as a mother by not calling in to school and allowing you to miss your first class. I did not realize that every other good mother in the world did this on their child's birthday. I am hoping the $20 you find after school will make it all a distant memory.

As for me, I forgot about the birthday boy being mad at me by the time I made it to the airport. My flight left by 10:10 and my adventure began. Garrett and I met with our flights adjoining in Chicago and then on to Providence. We rarely get to fly together, so this leg of our trip, in and of itself, was a treat.

The Rhode Island temps are at 60 with the tiny state just starting to burst in blossoming color. Garrett was quick to point out the many tulips we saw surrounding the old houses and mansions. There were some pink beauties that I am going to have to consider adding to my flower garden next year.

After some great conversation on the need for both of us to drop a few pounds, Garrett quickly pointed out that our diet of fresh seafood and vegetables would be in our favor this week. He was so right. After a meeting reception and some great conversation with computer vendors, we followed the hotel recommendation of dining at The Mooring at Sayer's Wharf.

Garrett picked two dishes that we shared; seared scallops and a tasty grilled salmon over asparagus. And it was glorious. Although we wondered if we were unduly swayed based on our starvation level (in my quest to lose a few, I was living off of coffee and rationed almonds on the plane), our final analysis was that our taste buds were correct in their analysis; regardless of our hunger level.

Back to a day of coffee and almonds for me as I anxiously await what dinner has in store tonight. We will be in a day-long conference on healthcare computer technology, so exploring the East Coast will have to wait until tomorrow. But wine and dinner is always on the agenda; regardless of work!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28, 2013: Going on an Adventure

The front tulips have bloomed <smile>
I'm going on an adventure tomorrow. It's been a while. Others may dispute this, but based on the travel schedule I've grown accustomed to; it really has been a while.

The boarding passes are printed and the luggage packing has begun. It is such an adventure that I am actually checking bags. I rarely do that. But I am on this trip. I want my own hair products and face lotion (not mini-size alternatives). I want my favorite boots and heels on hand without having to choose. Yep, I am going all out.

Over the next week we will hit the upper east coast, staying in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The week will include Newport vineyards, historic mansions, and a stay at a New England ocean-front resort. Garrett and I will finish out our trip in Dallas as we enjoy a weekend visit with my brother, Mark. We are very excited for this east to south adventure.

As excited as I am for my first big post-surgery outing, I have been feeling a bit of regret today as I stared at my yet-to-bloom tulips in my back yard. They were newly planted in the fall with my landscape face lift. I have giddily enjoyed watching my front yard flowers erupt in gorgeous reds and purples. But with the newness of planting and the northern exposure, my back yard is a week behind.

I continually reminded myself that I can't have it all as I longingly stared at my un-bloomed bulbs. They are sure to bloom in my absence. I wish I could enjoy both my anticipated trip and my backyard tulips (did I mention my trees will most likely bloom next week too?). But, no, I can't have it all.

I did come up with a great plan. At dinner tonight I asked (begged) the boys to take pictures for me on their I-phones. The one who pulled through with the best pictures would be my favorite. "Sure" was their answer. Later as I talked through my travel plans with them, it became apparent that I wouldn't be seeing their shining faces for a full week.

"Will you miss me?" I asked, half in jest. Without missing a beat, Grant deadpanned, "I think you will miss your tulips a lot more than us." Good point, Grant. The tulips will come back next year. Kisses to the boys and I am going to get back to packing my bags...
My back tulips are poking out ~
kind of winking at me

My little corner of "soon-to-be" colorful love

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 27, 2013: First Class

Kristi...my friend and awesome guest blogger today :)

Kristi Reimers (dear friend, running comrade, subject of many past blogs) is the writer of this funny blog
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I was just the first one to step off the plane. My ticket: Seat 1D; First Class. That really was a first. Sitting in First Class is certainly not routine for me.  I am solidly a back of the plane, happy to have an aisle seat, kind of gal.

The thought that struck me as I was pampered and treated significantly better than the “economy girl,” was the difference a few hundred dollars can make. Not that this is petty change, but I quickly realized this paid-for splurge included the privilege to board first, walk down a special aisle just for special people, not feel like a herded animal, and to be treated with utmost courtesy.

I was surprised last evening when I saw First Class printed on my boarding pass. This was the doing of my travel agent who helped change my flight from Boston “lock down day” to a later flight. These must have been the only seats left, I presumed.

My First Class adventure began as I boarded the plane.  With my just purchased bottle of Starbucks “Coffee and Milk” in hand, the attendant asked if I would like a glass of ice. I stared at her for a second before being able to respond, “uh, no thank you”--my knee jerk reaction to requests that take me off guard.  I still wasn’t ready for the attention when they asked if they could take my coat (no thank you). When I saw that I had a newly wrapped blanket and pillow, they asked me again if I wanted something drink (no thank you).

I tried to look confident as I assessed my seating situation and remembered that I had to get all my goodies out of my bag before I stowed overhead. Of course there was no “seat in front of you” when you are in 1D. Politeness was continually exuded to all of us First Classers and why shouldn't it? There are just a few of us; plenty of love and attention to go around.

After a quick 1 hour and 32 minutes, which included passing a basket full of bananas and snacks (food on flight!? Still inhibited, I took only a banana), it happened. I was the first one to deplane. I heard the knock from the other side, the door opened, and the flight attendant gave me the nod. I had arrived.

The second leg of my flight was starting to board as I walked up. I quickly took my place in the “Skyways Elite” line. No waiting for families with small children for me. Onward! I grew impatient as the wait took several minutes.

I boarded my next flight confidently as a First Classer as I looked for someone to take my coat. I had already thought about the answer to the next question, which was given before I even sat down: “Yes, orange juice please.” It arrived in a real glass tumbler, on ice. I began to read my Kindle (just like lady next to me; I belong!) as I realize we are taxiing down the runway. No harsh “Please turn that off!” had befallen my ears with no frowning face impatiently staring at me. When I realized my wrongdoing, I turned it off. I did not want to get into trouble in First Class.

A bit hungry I pulled out a smashed bar from the bottom of my bag to eat (Economy Class habit).  Soon I dozed, and awoke to yet another unfamiliar request. I had learned by now not to react with no thank you, because it probably meant passing up something good. I waited to hear it again as I came out of the fog of sleep. Yes, I heard right: “Would you like some lunch? We have salad or sandwich.”  YES PLEASE! “Something to drink?” YES PLEASE! Bring it on oh joyous arugula salad with pecans, chicken and balsamic vinaigrette, complete with fresh fruit and a brownie.

As I finished my meal, I am now fully acclimated to First. I simply gave the passing attendant the universal sign for “I’m done, take it away”.  With that, the tray with the cute little salt and pepper shakers, the real utensils, and tablecloth was whisked away (I’ve saved the brownie for later – pedestrian??).

While meeting my every need, I also hear the attendant asking others with a joyful, lilting tone, “More cranapple? Another gin and tonic? Anything I can get you?” In my mind, this contrasts with Economy-speak; the repeating drone of: “Something to drink? Something to drink? Something to drink? We have Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale, Orange Juice, Apple Juice, tea and coffee-something to drink?” Ah, those Economy folk, they don’t deserve much better, though. We’re up here in First, we paid more money.

I can’t help but think that having the money to fly First Class is a metaphor for life. People with means essentially buy an easier life; often a more stress-free life when it comes to the basic needs. Forget to bring food? No problem, we’ve got you covered! No time to buy coffee in the terminal, we’ve got fresh waiting for you. Don’t worry about luggage, there’s always room in the overhead bin.You’re tired and cold? We have a blanket waiting for you!

People without means are left with a more difficult life; one that takes more work to obtain comfort (I was just interrupted to make sure I didn’t need anything else before we land). They are living the Economy Class life: Hungry on that flight? Tough luck we don’t even have pretzels. Want to sleep? Bunch up your coat for a pillow. Thirsty? There should be something coming in about 30 minutes.Yes, a person can get used to this First Class life, and no wonder so many people work so hard to get it.

Mom used to get exasperated at Dad’s hard work, often passing up vacations and social events in the quest to earn a better living. She would say “Don, money can’t buy happiness!” His response: “It sure doesn’t hurt.” I agree Dad, but it sure doesn't hurt. Just ask us First Classers.

Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26, 2013: An Ice Cream Day


Yesterday was an ice cream day. And that doesn't mean that all was well in the world. A McDonald's ice cream cone can be clarity to an unclear day; calm to the restless. Basically if things aren't going right and wine isn't the answer, that ice cream cone will do the trick.

Why not Dairy Queen, you ask? Because my fifty-four cent splurge (tax included) makes me feel even better. My parents shared this trick with me. On our many road trips, we would go out of our way to find a McDonald's with this inexpensive treat. A vanilla cone is a cone is a cone...just a lot less expensive from McDonald's.

That cone was enjoyed over many great conversations with my parents. I think of them and smile when I follow their lead as a solo act; an indulgence I am happy they shared.

Yesterday was also an ice cream day because of the awesome spring weather. With my sun roof open and shades on, I enjoyed my cone and a little drive. There was no purpose to my drive, other than to enjoy my ice cream and some fresh air. All with the enjoyment of Billy Joel singing Piano Man with me. A good way to end the night.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25, 2013: Kids Days in Remsen

Sandy, Matt and Mark on the "crowns"
Picture taken by Uncle David

(Guest writer for today's blog is my mom, Mary Wagner)
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Kids Days, an annual 2-day affair and the highlight of Remsen, Iowa’s Norman Rockwell summers.  June 11 & 12, 1975, not too different from those of days gone by, was blessed with a little rain, lots of sunshine and steadily rising temperatures (good for the crops and everyone’s mood) and crammed with events. 

Young and old came out in force to enjoy main street merchant’s sale racks displayed on sidewalks with specials offered inside each store, Knight’s of Columbus food stand boasting of savory burgers and onions, a stand with to-die-for Wells Blue Bunny ice cream, the Kiddie parade, water fight, dances at the Avalon featuring live bands, free swimming at the pool, maybe a baseball or softball game, Bingo, livestock judging and last but not least, the carnival rides!!! 

After a morning shower of rain, Wednesday afternoon found Matt, Mark, Sandy & I downtown taking in the festivities offered for that day, and watching the Kiddie Parade in the evening. Jim spent his days in his barbershop, and both nights tending bar for the dances at the Avalon.   He didn’t miss a thing during the day though…the shop with a large front window, & on the north end of main street was perfectly positioned for viewing the activities going on; periodically the kids and I stopped by to use the bathroom, hang out and rest a bit.

A quick lunch on Thursday…We walked the 2 blocks from our house to main street where Grandpa & Grandma Gib (Gib & Marie Wagner) met us for the water fight.  Gib & Marie took over for the rest of the
afternoon (picture below)


This was also the week that my brother David (Pick) from Norfolk, VA came home to visit. Taking advantage of this rare opportunity to entertain his nephews Matt & Mark, and niece, Sandy, David took them to Kiddie Days on Thursday evening.  David chronicled the event with photos he took while the four of them rode on the Ferris wheel.  I wonder if the kids remember it.

P.S.  I sewed the outfits Matt, Mark & Sandy are wearing.




Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24, 2013: Goulash





















I love making goulash. Today was a goulash day. It's one of Zach's favorite foods. He was over to mow my lawn and asked the question "What's for lunch?" My response of goulash was a welcomed suggestion.

The recipe is my mom's. I refer to her handwritten note each time I make it. This is why I love goulash. I love to read Mom's note with the specific instructions on preparing this concoction. The paper is stained and weathered and stored loosely in my Joy of Cooking cookbook (a gift from my mom).

I love my old cookbooks with notes from grandmothers and aunts on favorite recipes. I have entire cookbooks that were typed on an old typewriter and bound. Most give credit to the cook. A favorite cookie from childhood can be found by locating my neighbor's name in the Remsen Oktoberfest recipe book published in the 70's. In this treasure are newspaper snippets and handwritten recipes tucked throughout it's pages.

As I boil my tomato juice, I smile at Mom's doddle markings and smiley face directing me to the back side of the paper. Below is what triggers the smile. Mom must have written down this recipe on the back of a letter my brother had written as a small boy. At some point, she must have noticed his cute question on her scratch paper. It gives me a smile each time I read it. Yep, I love goulash day...


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23, 2013: When There were Two

Benny and Zach just being Benny and Zach
I have kept journals over the years to document funny kid moments. Yesterday I stumbled across a journal I kept in the late nineties. Ben was a toddler and Zach was just starting school. Below are some entries that gave me the biggest smiles. Funny how I forgot most of these events until I read them again. I am going to proclaim "mission accomplished" on the time I took to write in these journals. Lost memories have now been resurrected :)
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1-1-98
Zach and I went for a bike ride today (55 degrees). He wanted badly to go to the "red park". Wearing his helmet, Zach tried to convince me to ride to his park of choice. "I am a very, very good boy and I always wear my helmet so I won't bleed all over the street." Later Zach said "Tell me a story, Mom." After telling two stories to my companion on the bike next to me, I asked him to then tell me a story. "I can't. I'm too busy with the wind" was his response.

Ben (20 months old) grabs my finger and pulls me to what he wants. Today he pulled me to the front door, handed me my car keys and said "bye-bye". Let's assume he wanted to go with me :)

1-2-98
Ben and I went for a run in the baby runner today. Ben came up with a fun game. He would pull his stocking cap down over his face when he saw people coming and then would growl at them.

1-30-98
Zach was being naughty and was sent to bed early. In between his crying, he used the following pleas in trying to convince me to let him out of his room:

"You hurt my feelings really really bad and broke my heart."
"You can't have me anymore. I'm going to have myself."
"You don't love me anymore."
"Can't you hear me crying???"
"No more surprises. I won't buy you presents any more."
"I WANT MY DADDY!!!!"

3-5-98
In the car driving on Dodge Street, I hear from Zach in the back seat, "Oh MY GOSH, Mommy, Mommy!! I'm big now-I can see out the window! I am SO big now!!"

5-11-98
I am home sick with the flu. Zach asks why I am home. After I tell him I'm sick, he's decides he is going to get me medicine to make me feel better. As he walks up the stairs he stops. "But what does medicine look like?" Later I ask for a kiss. Zach hesitantly asks, "Did you throw up out of your mouth?"

10-18-98
As I gave the fall tithing sermon at church, Zach sat quietly in our pew; listening with the rest of the congregation. I later asked him what I talked about to see if he was actually listening. "Mom, you talked about Jesus and money. A lot about money, but nothing about love." Out of the mouths of babes.

12-23-24
Zach was anxious to open a gift mailed from Grandma and Grandpa. Begging to open his Christmas gift and certain Grandpa will say it's okay, I tell him he must get Grandpa's approval first. I dial the number on the phone and hand it to Zach. He excitedly waits to ask the big question. I hear him say "Please, please! Can I open just one??" Then Zach hands the phone back to me. "What did he say?" I asked. Zach shrugs his shoulders and tells me, "Grandpa said, 'sorry, son, you have the wrong number'."

12-29-99
Benny does everything to try to sleep in our bed. Last night when Ben was trying to sneak in our room, Zach yelled from across the hall, "Benny is going into your room, Mom!" I yell back (a bit exasperated), "If he does, he's getting a spanking!!" Without hesitation a hear a little voice outside my door say, "How hard?"

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22, 2013: Come Monday


My work view today
Is there anything as peaceful as driving across town in the dark of an early morning? This ranks pretty high on my list. At 6:00 a.m. there is a flicker of life beginning to light up, but all is relatively tranquil.

Garrett's traditional Monday morning flight home has me at the airport before six. With a ceramic cup of coffee in hand, my first choice on this early morning adventure is which way to take home. The quick way is the Interstate. The preferred drive is straight through town. Dodge Street is my favored route.

This morning thoughts of hurrying home and catching some more sleep lingered momentarily, but instead I hung a left onto Abbott Drive out of the airport. It was the Dodge way home today. 6:02 a.m.

6:07: Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time" blared on the radio as I weaved through the quiet Creighton campus. A security guard was the only human I spotted as the rain lightly fell on my windshield. I didn't switch songs. Britney sounded good this morning.

6:11: I drove by a hotel that was the scene of a lover's fumbled escapade last week. This romp resulted in a naked man's arrest. Police sang "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" to me as I drove by this hotel and then the Med Center. Lots of lights on in the hospital. The hotel was predominantly dark.

6:17: As I passed Crossroads, I estimated it to be at least ten years since I had been in that mall. Target has gotten my business, but not since my stroller days had I been inside the mall. The Eagles blared on my satellite radio with "Hotel California" as I passed by this mall of yesteryear yet again.

6:21: After the Expressway, I drove by my old office; fully aware that many would be pulling in shortly for the Monday morning meeting. I smiled, happy with my attire of jammie pants and anticipation of a second cup of coffee in the comfort of my home. Jimmy Buffett came on next with "Come Monday". He was singing to me as I took the 168th Street exit, heading for home.

6:32: I finally pulled into my drive. My trip from the airport was complete. Working from home today, I noticed my tulips ready to bloom. With a light rain hitting my patio, I enjoyed a quiet bliss. Just me and the chirping birds. I check in with no one today. The day is mine. I will get a lot done, no doubt. A good start to a Monday.




April 21, 2013: #42

#42 ~ the legendary Jackie Robinson
We saw the movie "42", today. It is one I would highly recommend. Take your kids. It defines heroism and courage. And not just from our baseball hero, Jackie Robinson, but from the many others who took a bold stand against prejudice during an "anti-black" era.

Watching Jackie turn the other cheek as he was tormented was difficult to accept. Knowing this to be the era of my grandparents, I was shocked that such unfair treatment of humans happened in a lifetime not far from my own.

As I watched this oppression from the forties, I wondered how my generation will feel looking back at our country's nonacceptance of homosexuality. I bet we won't feel very proud. Will our children's children wonder how we chose to respond?

Few of us ultimately have influence on laws or public perception on civil rights; as was the case with rules on where African-American people were allowed to sit, sleep, or eat in the forties. But each one of us is given free will by God on how we choose to treat and accept others. As shown in the movie, intolerance for unkind and unjust behavior carries a lot of weight.

Judging humans based on a premise of superiority goes against every grain in my being. I applaud and admire those who take a bold stance to help the oppressed. This was the case for Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey. Watch the movie. It's definitely worth your time.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 20,2013: Pour Some Sugar on Me

Kori and Robbie in the days of big glasses and big hair
Deep in my basement is a classic VHS video clip of Robbie and Kori singing their best Def Leppard rendition of "Pour Some Sugar on Me". With big glasses and big hair these sister-in-laws-in-crime put on a great show. And twenty-plus years later, it is brought up at every family wedding reception.

I now know why my sixteen year-old sent a text a couple days past, asking for a viewing. It is a cult classic. One that was obviously brought up at the rehearsal dinner among the twenty-something age group.

I wish I had the actual clip to share or a picture of that moment of time. The best I can do today are the pictures of Robbie and Kori above taking during that same era. I can also provide a descriptive that may help with your visual.

Picture a video camera the size of a small shoe box, propped on a tri-pod. Picture a very young Robbie in her "Sally Jesse Rapheal" glasses and a peach lace bridesmaid's dress. Picture Kori by her side with bangs sprayed an inch high while wearing a trendy striped sailor dress.

With arms around each other and the look of two barmaids in an Irish pub, they belted out this song...word for word. And so it goes down in VHS history and in our own memory banks. A tribute to closing out the eighties? A young mom letting loose? A forecast of many more years of friendship and fun for these ladies? All of the above. XOXOX

Our bride, Lisa, got to enjoy the original Robbie/Kori show
and then again at her own wedding last night :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19, 2013: Missing Butch...Our Running Comrade



Butch, our fearless leader, with his grandkids
Butch was the leader of our running group. We called our group the "Early Morning Milers". Butch led and organized our morning runs which were different routes and mileages depending on the day. Butch sent a group e-mail providing these details.

As our unanimously appointed leader, Butch didn't take his position lightly. We could count on Butch's weekly e-mail like clock work. If there was a change in the schedule or a special request, we ran it by Butch first or had Hell to pay. He was our running patriarch, which was an admirable position given that organizing us was like herding cats.

We spanned a wide range of ages, with different motivations for running, and varying eclectic personalities. This is a nice way of saying people who run at 5:30 each morning couldn't possibly be normal. The varying runs and runners brought interest to our routine. Everyone had a story and we heard them all as we logged our miles. It was more than a run, it was sharing life.

People came and went from our running group for a variety of reasons. After fighting a valiant battle with cancer, Butch left us in death on April 19, 2008. The weekly e-mails and the "Early Morning Milers" are now a distant memory as our group has since disbanded into smaller groups.

We miss our fearless leader and we think of Butch often. He would not be happy with our dropping the ball on our group runs and not keeping the weekly e-mails going. On occasion we do all get together and reminisce on our many Butch runs; healthy and sick. We are due again for an EM2 reunion. Time for a cup of cheap coffee, $1 Prairie Life style, to toast our comrade.

A cherished gift Butch gave to each of us before he died

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18,2013: What Exactly is an Ordinary Day?

Loving my beer mug at the Blatt!
Sometimes I think it is just best to resign myself to the fact that there is no such thing as an ordinary day. Today was one of those days. It's best to just go with the flow.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that God is testing me. He is testing me to not be enamored with people with money or status. He is testing me to do the right things for the right reason. He is testing me to stay true to my core values. Although I do think I am passing the test, it's not always easy. Life is never easy or rational. And my kids sure do a good job pulling me back to reality.

I always have to remind myself of the things that matter; my family and loved ones. That it's the journey that brings the experiences and the fun to life. Relationships matter. They matter a lot. The people who you surround yourself with are an extension of yourself.

Each day brings new challenges and joys. And it really is a mixed bag. Days like today, I just shake my head and smile. The day started with my waking up in the middle of the night (wee morning) to thunder that sounded like a tornado. Although I am typically a great sleeper, I sat straight up in bed waiting for the tornado siren. No siren...back to bed...but not a restful sleep.

Kids to school. Sandy off to the races. Physical therapy... torrent winds...work meetings. More work meetings at the Blatt downtown. A call from Zach on his day. Sandy orders a beer (4:00 Happy Hour). The nice bar waitress brings it in a cute cowboy boot cup. Ben sends a text asking if I have his dad and my wedding video. Can he watch? <huh?>

Lots of laughs and stories with my colleagues  A couple more cryptic texts from Ben. My knee is actually feeling better. Life is feeling back to normal (my new normal). Off to the airport to pick up Garrett and then out for sushi (thousands of miles away from the sea). Welcome to my ordinary day. I would rate it a good one.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 17, 2013: Ms. Fey...soon to be Mrs. Eisenmenger

Lisa with her Baby Benny
In another distinct case of "where did the time go", our little Lisa is going to tie the knot. Lisa Fey and Adam Eisenmenger will be exchanging their vows this Saturday. My boys, who have enjoyed her cuddling and love since they were babies, will be a part of her big day. We are all thrilled.

Ms. Lisa was a toddler when I joined the family. Always the responsible one of her siblings (sorry Bud and Linds), Lisa was the rule-follower. She brought cheer to our world with her bright smile.

As I added boys to my brood, Lisa played our ever-functional babysitter. Although a little girl herself, she loved the boys up while showing the aptitude of a teenager.

We watched her grow up. There were recitals and later proms. Friends were always abound and Adam was introduced as her high school sweetheart. And we liked him. A nice boy for Lisa. We were thrilled.

Graduation passed. Lisa then entertained my boys with the allure of her pretty teenage girlfriends (Ben preferred to sit on their laps as a five year-old..."my mom said so"). She played cool music and drove cute cars. And she still doted on the Lane boys. Then she went on to college; as did her kind boyfriend, Adam. We were thrilled.

Now our little Lisa and her forever sweetheart, Adam, are getting married. She will beam down the aisle with her bright smile; no doubt. Her married life with Adam starts on Saturday. We are so thrilled. Congratulations, Lisa and Adam. We love you both and can't wait to be a part of your wedding day.

"May your joys be as bright as the morning, your years of happiness as numerous as the stars in the heavens, and your troubles but shadows that fade in the sunlight of love." ~ Old English Blessing

soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Eisenmenger




April 16, 2013: The Gift of a New Day


My little spring birdie greets me in the morning
Everyone needs a new day on occasion. There is nothing better than the gift of a fresh start. A morning filled with a sunrise and a good night's sleep provides just that. On the craziest of days, there is always the consolation of a new day welcoming us the next morning.

I am a believer in second chances on both large (life-changing) and small (a good night's sleep) scales. Being human provides us with many opportunities to make mistakes by saying the wrong things, saying them the wrong way, or just making poor choices. Even those who try the hardest still wish they had do-overs on occasion. It's part of being human.

Most of us want to do our best with the goal of a low personal defect ratio. But perfect will never happen. Flaws happen. Trying to keep them to a minimum is commendable, but still don't make life mistakes avoidable. On the days where calamities seem to be abundant, there is always the solace of a new day. And that is a gift.

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15, 2013: An Untold Marathon Story


A change of blog. That is pretty much today's topic. I wrote a blog. And then I deleted it. When I wrote it, I was feeling lighthearted and the theme was very whimsical. I later deleted it with a heavy heart.

Yesterday a friend finished his first marathon. This mighty accomplishment was performed in Rotterdam, Netherlands. His feat brought back fond memories for me. I ran my one-and-only marathon in Chicago, many years back. The feelings that inspired my original blog were that of persistence, friendship, achievement, and a little bit of humor along the way. That's what the life of a runner is all about.

Mid-afternoon today, life changed for all of us. It took a very shocking turn for those unfortunate participants, assistants, and onlookers at the Boston Marathon. The tragic events in Boston went viral as I was searching my hard drive for a marathon picture for my original post. With disbelief, I tried to piece together how something so senseless could possibly have happened.

It is now hours later and the extent of the injuries is shocking. What should have been a special day for many has turned into utter horror. I have deleted my marathon story. It seems so irrelevant now. I can't even fathom the thought of a potential bomb on my mind during my run. The days of carefree living seem to be slipping away into the hands of those filled with hate.

No whimsical story today. With a heavy heart, I have to say I'm pretty much speechless at this point. Many prayers to the innocent victims in Boston. 




Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 14, 2013: A Teenager...Really??

Grant and Abby at a much younger age
Grant is thirteen today. How did that happen? I had a similar response when he began kindergarten. I sat at kindergarten round-up and kept counting on my fingers the number of years since his birth (the technique of any good accountant). My Baby Grant couldn't possibly be five. There must have been a mistake. Low and behold, no mistake. My little tot really did start school on time. It was only Mom who didn't see it coming.

The next milestone that caught me off guard was the significance of his birthday today; the big thirteen. A teenager. Wow. I don't have enough fingers to recount those years. I'm going to have to trust the system on this one. Just over a year from starting high school. Three years from driving. Five years from graduation. <gasp>. Stop!

I used to tease that Grantman was akin to Matthew McConaughey's character in Failure to Launch. I had visions of a grown man living in my basement, calling up for his sippy cup and round-and-round crackers (Ritz crackers for those who aren't tracking).

I could barely get him out of his crib at age three. I carried him on my hip until his legs dangled too low at age four. He kept his blankie (dat) until it fell apart at age eight and just last month he let us give his stuffed animals to Goodwill.

I really thought I would be nudging Grant in his journey into adulthood. Fortunately or unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case. When I asked if he wanted me to take him to his lacrosse tournament in KC yesterday, his response was "can I carpool with my friends instead?" The tell tale signs of teenage independence are rearing their head.

The birthday boy does want me to go to dinner with him tonight, so I haven't been completely excluded at this point. Although an annoyance to him at times, he doesn't view me as grossly uninformed on life (yet). Another victory.

Grant may not stay parked in my basement, but I'm optimistic that he will be great company once he launches...and that 25th birthday will be here in the blink of an eye!


    

Saturday, April 13, 2013

April 13, 2013: A Little Resistence

My ride as of late
One day short of one month post-surgery, I added a little resistance. And it felt good. It really is the small things in life, isn't it? After thirty days of exercise equating to calisthenics for geriatrics, I was due to sweat; even if it was a small bit. Today was that day. I was officially cleared to add some resistance to my stationary bike.

Instead of a twenty-five mile ride through the rolling hills of West Omaha, I pedaled five; never leaving my garage. A friend lent me a stationary stand for my bike and Stefano kindly set it up for me. I face looking out of my third car garage.

Garrett questioned why I didn't have this stationary set up in my house. I wanted none of that. Biking facing the great outdoors with the crispness of the air is the closest thing to a real bike ride for me right now. And I like it.

Ben added flavor by shooting hoops and entertaining me with his ever-lively conversation. He even brought me a bottled water. "Mom, you're actually sweating," was his comment. Yep, sweating never felt so good.

I think this is the start of something good. Hopefully next week I can add more tension and then maybe a jog two weeks after that?? Hmmmm....one day at a time. If you can't find me, just check in my third car garage. I'm not going any where any time soon.

April 12, 2013: Happy

Reflecting on "happy" at M's Pub

Happy. A common comment I have been hearing recently. "Sandy, you look really happy." I get this feedback unsolicited and many times, unexpectedly. I have received random messages saying the same and off comments from acquaintances I haven't seen in years. And I can't argue. I'm glad I wear it on my sleeve. I am very happy.

Today I reflected a bit on this word, happy. What does that really mean? And why is now different than ten years ago? I have always felt like a positive person. What's different now? I know I feel very content and happy, but the feedback from the outside is overwhelming.

Today I sat in a meeting among eight very creative people. I was listening to a presentation I have heard many times before. My mind was wandering as I stared at an aqua blue painted wall. The thought crossing my mind was on this awesome color being my favorite. I had visions of painting my basement art room this electric color. It defines happy to me.

The thought led to a probing question; why am I so happy? As I reflected on my life today and changes from my old content norm, singular words came to mind. With these words came thoughts of the simplicity of our human nature. No matter our circumstances, social status, or perceived degree of success; we all yearn for the same basic feelings and affirmations.

Happiness comes from appreciation. Most err in believing appreciation is equated to money or a pat on the back. Both are nice affirmations, but humans innately want to feel that their strengths, talents, and contributions are genuinely appreciated. There is no better bonus.

Happiness comes from feeling love and giving love. Being desired sure isn't bad either. We all love the dance. The challenge is to recognize that growing in love is work. I have been well schooled on the gift of mutual love and respect. These have been good lessons and have brought great joy.

Happiness comes from giving. Giving one's self in compassion, unconditional love, and understanding can be a smile to a stranger or an ear to a friend. Motive means everything. Selflessness in the simple act of giving is a gift to the recipient and a happy heart for the giver. It really is more fulfilling to give than to receive.

Happiness is being comfortable in your own skin. Striving for the "best you" is putting your best foot forward while embracing the uniqueness God gave each one of us. We all have our own unique skill set, personality, and physical presence. Embracing it and not fighting it leads to inner happiness.

So how does one attain happiness? In my experience, it really came down to age and life experience. With the attainment of my forties and a few bumps in the road, the perception of happiness took a new turn with a fresh set of eyes. I have learned to appreciate the great things in life that are many times the small or intangible things. Mid-life really can be a great gig. And happy is quite enjoyable :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 11, 2013: The Days of Toddler Goo

"Look, Mom, water!!!"
I have often said that Ben could clearly be my only blog subject and I would never lack for material. Right now, my soon-to-be seventeen year old is jumping on the trampoline by himself; anxiously awaiting the arrival home of his younger brother. It doesn't matter that his younger sibling lags by four years. They are playmates.

Ben has had a perma-grin since the minute he learned he had a smile at six weeks of age. Even in moments of hating me (often) for my injustices in parenting him, he still smiles. For the record, he has a laundry list of mothers who are better than me. Those who buy all things within the sited needs of their teenager and who have no care for school grades or curfews. Within my peer group, I am clearly the loser.

Although I remind Ben that I am not concerned with the rules and rights of his friends, that my only concern is Ben Lane, he still doesn't like me most of the time. And no matter how many times I remind him of my rubbing his back as a sick toddler or buying him suckers at the circus, I still don't pass muster in the category of "mother of the year".

I just smile and remind myself that adolescence is really temporary insanity. A wise child psychologist once told me this. Don't try to rationalize or over-analyze the behavior of a teenager. Just ride the storm.

So as I love up my Baby Buddha and hope he comes out of his teenage years with some form of sanity, I do look back with hope. Past pictures and events remind me of the great spirit and kind heart that lives in my teenager.

The picture above always gives me a smile. After picking up the boys (only two at the time) from daycare, Ben greeted me with a big warm hug. I was wearing a navy floral dress with a beige jacket; a new purchase from Spiegel catalog. The result of the hug was two Cheetos impressed hand prints on my back.

I took off my jacket for the dry cleaner without a word of disapproval to my toddler. He just wanted to give his mama a hug. Nothing the cleaner couldn't handle. Filled with stains himself, I took off his Husker shirt and put on his little Gap jean jacket to cover his chubby belly.

Arriving home on that cold day, I started a bath for my dirty son. As I attended to his older brother with only seconds elapsing, the above photo is what greeted me in our small bathroom on 2111 S. 164th Ave.

Ben, fully clothed with shoes and all, stood in the filling bath tub grinning at me. "I take a bath, Mommy!" I snapped the pix and this moment now lives in history. A soiled designer jacket, soaking shoes, and an adorable tot. Thanks for the memories, Ben. And how much longer until we're through the teenage years??

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10, 2013: Some Thoughts on $



Money, money, money...some have very little, others a lot. Some had it and lost it. Others wish they had more. To me this is all really a lot of blah, blah, blah.

A person's wealth or lack-thereof has never been of interest to me. I had always attributed this to my profession; I have seen so many financial numbers that the significance eventually lost significance. Although I do believe there is some truth to this theory, I've come to believe that I simply don't care because that's how I'm wired (personality flaw? maybe).

As I have grown in age and experience, I find myself dealing with all classes of wealth (ubber, modest, had, don't have). In my simple mind, the significance of the person is never measured by their money. I view the world as the same playing field. We all have different strengths, weaknesses, and blessings. The fascinating part is to observe how people respond to these life differences.

At the end of the day, people fascinate me. I'm a observer of life and love to hear people's stories. In analyzing why I don't feel the same awe to the ubber-wealthy as others, a simple self-observation came to me. I'm not interested in what people do with their money. I am interested in what money does to people.

And this goes both ways; having a lot of money and having no money. How people deal with their financial blessings or misfortunes can be admirable at times and painful to observe other times. Does the person who lost everything long to have it back or appreciate what he now has? Does the billionaire show kindness to those who need it?

Kindness from the wealthy doesn't mean showering with money. Admirable behavior from one lacking money isn't expecting money as a gesture of kindness. Kindness is a hug. It's an acknowledgment of another human and a caring ear. It's courteous replies to inquiries. It's eye contact and genuine concern for the answer to the question "how are you?"

The most interesting and admirable people I know haven't been changed by their financial situation. They are authentic and kind. God gives us gifts and challenges. It's our free will that determines how we handle them. The result is both interesting and many times, inspirational.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 9, 2013:The Drover and Some Hurleys

The boys after enjoying whiskey steaks
(the displayed ball is a sliotar)
"We love Morgan!" was the exclamation tonight by my soon-to-be thirteen year old. Our Irish friend arrived on American land bearing gifts for the Lane Boys. As most know, my boys love everything hockey, football, and rugby. Today they were introduced the the Irish game of hurling. They are now the proud owners of four hurley sticks with accompanying sliotar balls.

As we sat at the Drover waiting for a table (adults sipping adult beverages and the kids, Shirley Temples), the boys Googled everything hurley. They now know all the intricate details of this Irish game with cool wood paddles. I am a bit worried now for broken windows and bruised faces at my house. Not a sport for the faint of heart.

With bellies full of the wonderful Drover whiskey steaks with great American/Irish conversation, my very content boys are obsessed with their new hurley sticks. The Sharpie has been pulled to personalize and engrave rights to each stick. It is feeling like an Irish Christmas around the Lane house.

More to come I am sure. It's sounding like groves of boys will be checking out this new sport in my circle this weekend. I will have to fire up my own grill to feed the troops and check out this game. It may not be up the the standards of the Drover, but I will do my best.

Monday, April 8, 2013

April 8, 2013: Chefs in the House

Ben's grilled masterpiece of burgers and chicken breast
I'm feeling spoiled. People talk about their guilty indulgences...spa treatments, nannies, fancy cars. I just figured out the best indulgence that I hadn't considered before; having a chef in the house. And there has been a byproduct of this household addition. My finicky middle child has surprisingly expanded his culinary palette and skills.

My cousin, Stefano has moved into my house. All who know Stefano will not be surprised to know that he is an excellent chef. I was quickly reminded of this skill as he took over my kitchen the day he moved back.

Stefano moved in the week I had surgery to help me recuperate. Worried that I would pack on some pounds due to lack of exercise, I asked him to help me monitor my calories as he monitored my meds. Recently losing weight himself and at the peak of fitness, he took on this challenge with enthusiasm. The result is that I have actually lost five pounds over the last 3 1/2 weeks. And the food has been amazing!

Tonight was Chicken breast sauteed in olive oil, seasoned with cracked pepper over a bed of fresh greens. Stefano has treated me with Texas style bison chili and perfectly roasted pork loin covered with cabbage and carrots. Every day is a new culinary delight.

Stefano's aptitude in the kitchen, along with Ben's job at Runza, have taken Ben to new dining levels as well. Anyone who knows Ben, knows his typical food choices can be counted on two hands (pizza, chicken strips, wings, cheese bread, pasta, fries, smoothies, bananas, cheeseburgers, mac n' cheese). Needless to say, Ben has come home hungry from many Thanksgiving dinners.

As of late, I have noticed new requests on the grocery list in Ben's handwriting; roast beef, turkey, eggs. Stefano commented to me that he was picking up some fresh bread at Jimmie John's for Ben to make sandwiches. Wow! This may sound normal to you, but it really is a stretch for Ben. I have battled his food restrictions for years, hoping he would either outgrow them or get so hungry that he would finally try new things. Neither happened by age fourteen, so I gave up.

Tonight as Stefano cooked, Ben came downstairs and asked if he could have some chicken breasts and burgers to grill. Hmmm? He then proceeded to rummage through the spice cupboard looking for lemon pepper. Is this really my child? I had never seen him even try a piece of chicken that wasn't breaded and fried or out of a Tyson bag. He then commented that he would bring home some runzas and did we know how good they were?

Yes, Ben, there are a lot great foods out there that you have yet to try. Enjoy your culinary adventure and follow Stefano's lead. You will definitely win over a women's heart with that skill!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April 7, 2013: Happy Birthday, Brother


My brothers ~ Mark (L) and Matt (R) ~ 1986
I am a sister. I wear that like a badge. My brothers have been a part of me and a part of my identity. People would know us collectively by our names; Matt, Mark, and Sandy. There wasn't one without the other. Each born a year apart, we were a troupe of three.

Gma Gib actually mixed the boys up
It's Matt on the left and Mark on the right
Mark is the middle child. Although there are some perceived stereotypes with this birth order, none of us three ever fell into our noted roles. I always racked this up to our closeness in age. Birth order was irrelevant since we always felt the same age. Just a troupe of three. In fact Matt and Mark are less than eleven months apart. They were dressed as twins until they were old enough to tell our mom to stop.

I like to write stories about my brothers' oppression towards me. Although the stories are true, I actually liked being the girl among boys. And my brothers were everything boy. They loved guns and mud. Fights ended with wrestling matches and fists. Our toy room was filled with Legos, John Deere tractors, and trucks. They cut all my dolls' hair off (other than the precious few I hid) and took my jewelry box apart to see how it worked.

My brothers built forts and made up games with sticks. They almost always invited me to join along. My best friend growing up had three brothers and no sisters. As I look back, this is a common theme with me. Many of  my closest friends only have brothers. We speak the same language. And we're survivors. I also believe this has provided me with many life lessons in dealing with men. I will keep those thoughts in my personal arsenal. Thanks, Mark and Matt. I have been told I have a quick tongue. This was a learned trait as it was many times my only defense mechanism against my brothers. Giving each other a hard time is the favored language among us siblings.

As teenagers, we had the perceived benefit of going to the same high school together for three of those years. My cool brothers banned me from speaking to them or acknowledging them as brothers. I complied as we were then fighting over bigger issues than whose turn it was to play with the remote-controlled snow mobiles. At one point my mom cried as she listened to her teenager children bicker with strong words. "You kids will never speak to each other again once you are out of the house!" she sobbed. Fortunately her prediction proved to be untrue.

One by one we graduated. Matt left for the Army. I would talk to him on a tape recorder, as was our family tradition, or send him a letter weekly. Mark moved to Arizona to begin his career in woodworking. I missed my brothers. Home alone, it only took a year after my departure for college for my parents to move to Arizona and out of Remsen. The house felt so quiet my senior year with me as an only child. I can't imagine how it felt to my parents after their busy youngest left as well.

Now I have the benefit of living in the same city with Matt. This never happened with Mark. His journey has taken him to Arizona, Florida, and Nevada. But somehow, someway, we have remained close over all these years. When we get together, it's although we've never been apart. Mark recently moved to Dallas and I just booked a flight to visit in a few weeks. Today is Mark's birthday, so it will be a bit of a belated birthday celebration. Happy Birthday, Brother...your siblings in Omaha miss you!!











Saturday, April 6, 2013

April 6, 2013: A Mexican Diversion

Timing starts with pix in bottom right and goes counter-clockwise
(note additional margs added as we continue our adventure!)
There is an old wive's tale that Russ Lane (Jr.) grew a uterus in Mexico a few years back. As a witness, I can tell you that although it was a temporary affliction, it's true. The reality is that he took one for the team on that very random day in Mexico. What had started as an impromptu girls' day trip with Russ as chaperon ended as a day filled with unexpected surprises and girl (& Russ) bonding.

It all started at the Angel Flight fundraiser and the couples at our table deciding to bid on a trip to Manzanillo, Mexico. The four pooling couples "won" the trip. Months later we booked our prize trip and were off on an adventure.

Russ' journey on the female side was a day the other guys were ATV'ing through the rugged countryside of Mexico. Russ, not one to get his hands dirty, valiantly volunteered to instead chauffeur the girls to an exclusive resort Kori had found on-line. He didn't think we should go anywhere unattended in Mexico, let alone up an unknown mountainside, without a male escort.

Kori was spot-on with her recommendation. The resort was stunning. We started our adventure with a two margarita lunch; along with food, of course. This lunch set the tone for the rest of the day. As I sat with my favorite pals, I knew my personal life was in shambles. I also believed it was my secret.

Without speaking details, I made a comment at the end of lunch that I thought "everything would be alright". No words spoken by my comrades, but with tears down our collective cheeks, they reassured me with their eyes that all would be okay. This is the unspoken language of girlfriends. There are no secrets.

We collected ourselves after our momentary cry and toasted our glasses to the rest of the day. Russ' response to this shared moment was "what just happened?" We all knew, but no explanatory words were needed. Instead we told our escort that we were ready to shop. The resort staff had advised us that good shopping was merely an air boat away.

Russ listened to his ladies and secured us an air boat. As the four partners in crime laughed through our windy ride, we hit the open Mexican market. Laughing like school girls, we scurried through the many shops looking for prized treasures of woven fans and floppy hats. I continued to ask in my best Spanish for the treasure I sought; a pendant of the Virgin Mary. "Jesús Mama?" my friends and I would ask each vendor. We never did locate the medallion, but I did secure some awesome handmade rosaries.

Russ effectively corralled us back to the boat and back to the resort. As he did his politically-correct best, Russ agreed to a tour of the resort with the general manager. He thought this was the least we could do after enjoying the great service given to us during their off season. As Russ shook hands and offered his standard professionalism, Leslie fell in the pool and the rest of us giggled uncontrollably until we cried. Our visit ended with Russ shaking hands with the GM and shaking his head as he sent his girls to the car.

On our trip back down the mountain, as the fateful four started to nap (after saying some prayers together with our new rosaries), Russ made the classic statement that will go down in history. Responding to Robbie's thanks to him for accompanying us, Russ deadpanned, "Damn, I think I grew a uterus today." I guess the ATV's didn't sound so bad at that point. Thanks Russ. A day we girls will never forget :)

Kori memorialized our day with this scrapbook page

Our final tour and new friend, the resort GM


Friday, April 5, 2013

April 5,2013: The Leek


My creative nephew, Russell, has started a blog. It's called "The Leek" and is the beginning of a series of satirical blog posts. The highlight for my blog post today is Russell's blog. Enjoy and remember...it's a SATIRE!
______________________________________________________________________
"If you haven't figured out that this is a satire blog, you will today. The Leek's tribute to Roger Ebert. (Disclaimer at the bottom of the article for those who still don't understand satire)"



(final Sandy note: If you enjoyed and want more..."Like" his page on FB...https://www.facebook.com/TheLeekIsLeeking)

April 4:2013: A Day of Two Sided Conversations

An awesome afternoon with my aunties

Yesterday was an excellent day full of TWO sided conversations. And it was just what the doctor ordered. The main event was my Aunt Rebecca in town on a visit and an afternoon enjoying the company of three of my aunts. The weather was perfect as we sat out on the patio of DJ's Dugout in Aksarben Village.

Rebecca, now a Washington D.C. resident, lived in Omaha through the 70's. All three of my aunts lived in Omaha at that time. They recalled many Omaha memories relating the this strip of Aksarben land, now a bustling hot spot in Omaha. Rebecca told the story of the big tornado of 1975. With thousands of people at the Aksarben horse track that day, miraculously the tornado's path just missed this populated spot.

As I sat back, enjoying my glass of Chardonnay and the gorgeous afternoon, I listened to my aunts update me on their families, stories of the past, and interests of today. It was nothing short of bliss. I do have some awesome aunties and it is such a treat when we can get together and share life a bit.

A second treat was presented to me on my late flight to Denver. I ran into a friend, Leslie, who saved me a seat next to her on the plane. Behind us was an old friend whom I hadn't seen in years. More conversations and catching up. A pleasant surprise.

My night ended with a date night. After picking me up from the airport, Garrett and I grabbed a drink and apps in Downtown Littleton's Bernie's. Face-to-face conversation and smiles always go hand-in-hand with date night. I think the girl in the bubble has officially come out! Amen to that.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 3, 2013: One Sided Conversations

Emphasis on my new spring pots and the saying on my shirt :)

I had a bit of an "aha" moment today. And it came from receiving some compliments. First was the receipt of a very nice note in the mail with congrats on my career change and sweet feedback on my blog. It gave me a huge smile. The second was a message in FaceBook. I missed a friend at church and she was catching up. The last was an e-mail from a running friend. My ACL problem has made our daily conversations a distant memory.

What came across in her e-mail was that I wasn't a distant memory. She was enjoying keeping up with my life via my blogs. The same with my friend from church. She knew what my days looked like, but other than a few FB posts, I knew little about hers. One-sided conversations. I love to write and blog, but that is really what it is; a one-sided conversation.

The thought of a one-sided conversation doesn't feel very good to me. Some of it is just bad timing; I have been holed up with a bad knee and out of my normal routine. And I have been busy with work and kids. But I like to hear about everyone else's lives and I so enjoying sharing life together.

For those who use social media, I do get to keep up a bit. But that's a cheap substitute for sharing life in person. I miss the talks on the runs. I miss the casual glass of wine with friends. A little quiet time is good, but I don't need to turn into the female version of the boy in the bubble.

Responses were in order to straighten out the "one-sidedness" of our communication. I now have a couple of dates in the books and more that need to happen. Some face-to-face time is in order. I can't wait to catch up. And it may take more than one glass of wine. I'm all ears...

April 2, 2013: Hakuna Matata

Valerie, Ben & I before performance of The Lion King
(Kathy V snapped the pix)

Hakuna Matata. Per Wikipedia, "Hakuna Matata is a Swahili phrase that can be translated literally as "there are no worries". It's meaning is similar to the English phrase "no problem" and is akin to "don't worry, be happy"." That being said, what do you like more...the cheery song on these words that we all have embedded in our brains or this catch phrase's cool meaning? It's a toss up for me.

Last night it was all Hakuna Matata while enjoying a night out to dinner and The Lion King performance at the Orpheum. Our foursome was my son (Ben), his girlfriend (Valerie), my aunt (Kathy) and me. We were celebrating a belated birthday and using Christmas gifts given in the form of this entertainment. We had a ball.

The kids picked the dinner spot, Spaghetti Works, and had perused their food choices on their I-Phones prior to choosing the restaurant. As a child, this vintage eatery was a favorite spot for me as well. Although the restaurant has not changed a bit, being a teen has changed tremendously. Thirty-five years ago you could have told me that the restaurant was moved to the moon and it would have been as believable as holding a phone with instant communication, camera, social media, and restaurant menus (all of which were utilized during our hour and a half stay over dinner).

Although I was still under the weather, I was glad I went. I'm quite sure I was more quiet than usual, which upon reflection wasn't a bad thing. The conversations were awesome and it was great to sit back and take it all in. Kathy is always a delight and the teenagers were very social. Sometimes I take this skill for granted with my kids. I just assume all kids are social, polite, and good conversationalists. That really is not the case with teens; a good reminder for me to be appreciative.

Both Kathy and I had seen this show before...many, many years ago. Although parts were remembered, our experience last night was fresh and amazing. We all loved it. As the story line played on, I kept visualizing our long lost Disney VHS of the original animated story. I took little Zach to this movie at the old Cinema Center back in 1994; his first movie theater experience. He was just over a year old. He LOVED it. 

That movie was the beginning of everything Lion King in our house...books, cassette tapes, toys, puzzles, clothes. It was also the beginning of a large Disney VHS library that kept growing as we added more boys to our family. The Disney movies kept getting better and our love for the characters grew as our boys grew. 

On our drive home, Ben sang every word to the soundtrack as though he was Simba. I had to agree with the lyrics; there really are no worries and happy is a good thing. Little happy boys can turn into big happy boys. Thanks for warming your mom's heart again, Ben. A good night...Hakuna Matata. 

Zach & Ben (wearing a hand-me-down Lion King romper)

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1, 2013: Sick

The view from my bed :(
I'm sick. And unfortunately for me this is no April Fool's joke. The good news is that I don't feel as bad as being hit by a truck (my historic telltale sign of pneumonia). Instead, the quick diagnosis to my ailment is a cold bug. The quickness of this diagnosis is from my reaping the benefit of working in healthcare. Being surrounded by clinicians daily, I am many times diagnosed before I even know I'm sick. Today they were right on all accounts.

After a couple of very lively trips to an unnamed retail pharmacy, I was reminded of why I have changed career paths and more importantly; why the deliver of healthcare needs to change. I can't imagine how this would have all played out without my "ins" to the system. More to come on that at a future date!

For now I will embrace the many challenges God has put in front of me today. There were definite wins, but much pain from other fronts too. All in a days work, I suppose. So now I will tip my Robitussin med cup in the air for a "cheers" and a good night.  XOXOX