Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013: A Little Retreat

My friend,Cindy, and I are in Vail. You could call it a girls' trip. We are calling it a retreat.

We flew in yesterday and will be retreating until Wednesday morning. Sunday night's festivities involved Cindy picking me up at the Eagle airport and then a wine and seafood dinner at Beaver Creek Resort.

Our retreat participants, as of now, consist of just Cindy and me. We are open to adding more in future years. This is the inaugural kick-off. Our plans are pretty much to hike, drink wine, and solve all of life's problems. That is what a proper retreat is all about.

The hike today was great; both challenging and beautiful. We climbed 3,054 feet and hiked a total of eleven miles. Although our feet were feeling it after we concluded at 5:00, the accomplishment and conversation were top notch. A great first day.

After a well needed shower and phone catch-up, we proceeded to Beaver Creek Village to continue the evening festivities of our retreat. We chose pizza and beer at Blue Moose Pizza. A good choice. Although flashes of a pending governmental shutdown were overshadowing our conversation, it was still a good night.

Our retreat continues tomorrow. We are going to ease it down a bit with a five mile, scenic hike through Beaver Creek and hope to squeeze in a wine lunch as well. I am feeling better already. A much needed reprieve. Gotta love a girls' retreat.

We made it to the top!!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 29, 2013: Ben Lane's Mom

Yes, that’s me. I’m Ben Lane’s mom. As of late, I have frequently been asked this question. From the kids working Angel Flight to the parents watching him explode on the football field. “Are you Ben Lane’s mom?”

I told Ben that I feel like a rock star. And then I told him that he needs to have another good game this coming Friday as I’m not ready for this status to disappear. Although I am actually trying to motivate him with some humor, it really will be difficult to come off of my celebrity parent status so quickly.

Saturday we visited Wayne State College as Ben is being recruited for their football team. Unsure what this all meant and knowing there were two other recruiting visits in the horizon, I took this one. Scott will take him on the next two.

It was fun and insightful. The campus surprised me with its charm and size. The coach, a proven leader, and those helping with the tours and campus insight; impressive. Although still a novice with this sort of college trip, I gained knowledge on what it would mean to play college ball. Ben liked the school and the program. We shall see.

The two hour trip there and back provided for good conversation and reminded me on why this kid is so likable. The stories he tells typically revolve around others and his motive in life choices are led with his heart.

The junior class volunteer at Angel Flight saw my name tag and asked “Are you Ben Lane’s mom?” After telling her the affirmative, she went on to say she didn't know him well, but he was in her class and was one of the kindest senior boys she knew.

It reminded me of the three moms who sat ahead of me at a recent home football game. They introduced themselves as mothers of sophomore players. “Are you the mom to #9?” one asked. The women went on to tell me how nice and helpful my son was to their young sons. One closed the conversation with “I watch him on the field as he always helps the opponents off the ground. Your son plays with character. A nice boy.”

Yep, I am Ben Lane’s mom. Although he and I can fight like no other over grades that need to go up and papers that need to be turned in, I remind myself of the winning strengths this boy possesses as well. His clothes are rarely picked up off the floor and his wallet; missing more than found. But Ben Lane has a heart of gold and sense of empathy that will serve him very well as he steps into adulthood.

I ran into his Spanish teacher at Angel Flight. Ben had told me that Mrs. Twist played soccer at Wayne State and really liked it. I told her of our college visit and then added that Ben needed to remember that college meant not just football, but classes. Rachel smiled her winning smile and said, “I love Ben. I knew it the first day I had him in class. He may not be the best student, but he’s such a great student to teach.”

The stories retold to me over the years go on and on. From his affinity to small children to his community service work connecting with the severely handicapped. Ben has a gift. It’s a gift of heart.

Over the years it has been easy to get caught up in not having a kid on the “talented and gifted” list. Although a 35 on the ACT with aspirations to be the next John Elway are commendable and I applaud those talented enough to attain them, these goals are meaningless without the gifts of heart and human empathy.

My mom always said Ben would be the one to surprise us all, so stop worrying. The alphabet would come in time and talented and gifted list, who knows? So I will just keep watching him play the game of football and the game of life with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. Having a good year in football couldn't have happened to a better kid. Just keep helping those other boys up, Ben Lane.

(couldn't resist posting this video...glad Ben took all those years of piano :))


September 28, 2013: Walking Barefoot

Note Ben's image in the window
I know that one shouldn't brag, but I just can't resist. I get ready really fast. I would approximate that I get ready faster than 95% of the female population. Prior to the picture taken above, I got ready in seven minutes (the boys timed me).

Eight minutes before walking out the door, Cookie and I were lounging. My clothes were casual and hair pulled back. As I realized that Angel Flight start time was creeping up, I made an executive decision. Ben would drop me off and I would walk the mile route home.

Ben agreed, but gave me a short window of time as he and pals had their own important plans. "No worries," I told them. "I get ready really fast." Dress and jewelry decision? No problem. Lots to choose from. Shoes? Found a really cool pair with sparkles in my closet (forgot I had). Hair? Quick choice of an iron and throw in some curls. Lipstick? Nah. Maybe when I'm 47. Add mascara with a little eye liner and shadow. Viola!

Over the years I have run from Prairie Life with friends and then showered there before work. Although I was never applauded for my speed on the road, I was for my speed in the locker room. I would get out the same time as the guys and would gloat with every compliment of "Gee, you can get ready fast." "I didn't know that was possible with the female species. Can you train my wife?"

After my seven minute prep time, a picture was snapped and I was escorted by three of Skutt's finest to the Skutt Angel Flight fundraiser. With a quick drop off, I was on my own; still relishing my seven minute record speed. Knowing pride and ego bring people to their knees, I am surprised I didn't fall over in my higher-than-normal heels.

The event was great fun with great people. I was so glad I went. And then it was time to go home. A beautiful fall night with shining stars awaited me.

One of the boys who dropped me off with Ben was working valet. He knew of my plan to walk home and questioned whether this was still my preference. After my affirmation, he snapped a picture. This time with the shoes were off and the journey home began.

I later found out from Ben that the valet boys sent texts letting him know of my departure. It's funny how the tables have turned. As a parent I had a similar communication with the piano teacher when Little Ben insisted on walking home by himself. This time Ben awaited word on my safe arrival home.

With sparkly shoes in hand, I walked home for that mile trek through my neighborhood. And it was spectacular. My dad won't like to hear this. To his chagrin, I liked to walk barefoot as a child. He would warn me of contracting lockjaw by stepping on an unintended object. But I took my chances.

Now it's the rave for people to run barefoot and I have yet to hear of a lockjaw episode. My walk on the wild side continues. Personally, I couldn't think of a better way to take in the beauty of the night and reflect on the great conversations had. Sometimes the best life therapy comes in small doses and with small steps.

Homeward bound


Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 27, 2013: Reading is a Thriller

When my kids feign occasional boredom, I wonder how on earth they can be bored comparatively to my childhood. I grew up in a small town with few amenities to the comparative big city they live in. After visits to Remsen, the kids would ask what I did as a kid. Obviously they noticed there wasn't a mega-plex movie theater, outdoor shopping mall or Gamestop video store.

"Well, we swam and played at the park." <silence>

"We played with our friends in the streets and back yards." <more silence>

"And when it was too hot or raining, we spent afternoons at the library."

Now that got their attention. They couldn't imagine what we would do for hours at a library. Although they have participated in summer library reading programs, we bought most of our books at school book fairs and book stores. Going to the public library, let alone spending periods of time there, was not common in their days. But it sure was in mine.

The Remsen Public Library was a favorite and frequent stop for me as a child. Not only did I peruse books (everything from Agatha Christie mystery novels to Betty Crocker cookbooks), but I looked through the wide variety of magazines and colorful picture books. There was a room dedicated to only encyclopedias. Even sewing pattern books were available for viewing.

I would spend hours choosing books from the wondrous shelves and then finding a quiet spot to enjoy my found treasures. My brothers and I would wait our turn to inhabit the coveted music room. Here is where we were allowed to play vinyl records (also available for check out) into over sized ear phones. Pillows filled the floor and we would stay until forced out by the next in line.

Summers consisted of reading contests. We earned free ice cream cone tokens to the local drive-in and plastic rings to boldly wear on our fingers. Pages were colored to signify levels of reading achievement with the library walls filled with our reading-earned art.

As a teenager, I participated in a bookmark contest sponsored by our town newspaper and the library. We were asked to design bookmarks. The winning entries would be reprinted for distribution to library patrons. Using a black pen and Michael Jackson theme, I won with my entry "Reading is a Thriller". The bottom of the bookmark read "from MTV to your library". The newspaper printed pictures of the winners (of which I found in the bowels of my basement storage).

The library held a special place for my grandma as she was the cleaning lady; custodian extraordinaire. When I reached my high school years and she began wintering in Arizona, I would fill in during her absence. Vacuuming the floors in after-hour silence among the mounds of typewritten treasures felt like a "night at the museum" outing. The place came alive in its quiet glory. I loved that job. My boys have no idea what they missed out on.

Friday, September 27, 2013

September 26, 2013: TV Time

Ben is #9
We had a very exciting Thursday night as Skutt fans and parents. Our boys played hard and with heart for a decisive win against Seward. The exhilaration of playing on TV as the featured game of the week added to their fury.

I love these boys. Six of the senior players are St. Wenceslaus classmates, together since kindergarten. I have watched them grow up. And now we are on our last hurrah.

Watching our senior boys finish their high school years is bitter sweet. But nights like these we'll carry in our hearts for a long, long time.
(article from Omaha World Herald story and clip below from TV coverage)

At halftime, Seward's total yardage was minus-20 as it trailed 31-0 after a 28-point second quarter.

"They didn't let us breathe for one second," new Seward coach Jamie Opfer said.

Ben Lane stuck Seward quarterback Keith Wolverton for losses on his first two carries to set the tone. A 190-pound senior linebacker, Lane also had a sack and and an electrifying punt block in the first half.

"He's getting better every week," Skutt coach Matt Turman said. "Last year he fought through some injuries.

"He takes charge out there. He's making many of the defensive calls. He had some big hits and tackles and the punt block was one of the most amazing things I've seen in a while."

(note from Ben's Mom: electrifying blocked punt, as described by announcer, is in video clip below)...


September 25, 2013: A Little Mailbox Problem

Ben displaying what is left of our brick mailbox
Our mailbox bit the dust tonight. And that was no small feat. It was tall and made of brick. Ben's friend, Addy, was the unfortunate offender. Her parents will be happy to know that the truck they bought her is a safe haven for their young driver. Addy and her pick-up truck departed my driveway unscathed. My mailbox wasn't as lucky.

It was garbage day, so I was hoping for the best (crushed garage cans and recycle bins) as I sat on my bed and heard the bedlam through my opened windows. Not so lucky. My brick fortress of a mailbox was leveled like a house of cards.

Addy cried as I heard Ben tell her, "My mom doesn't care. She's really nice." With reassurance, Addy went on her way and the boys did the heavy lifting; one brick at a time.

"Mom, are you mad?" Ben asked after his tearful female friend departed.

I really wasn't. I was grateful the victim was a bunch of bricks and not my step-dog or small child. Hopefully Addy learned a lesson in the usefulness of a rear view mirror. I backed into an El Camino outside the Avalon Ballroom when I was seventeen. And on the day we moved into our house, I backed into my neighbor's mailbox. My introduction to my neighborhood. So I felt Addy's pain.

No harm. No foul. Just an old mailbox. My mom ran into it once too. In that case, just her car was damaged, but the mailbox looked fine. I am pretty sure the old brick fortress was on it's last days anyway. Time for a plastic number.

The aftermath

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 24, 2013: A Chance Meeting

Our first date in Omaha 2009
A Godwink. A message of God's love and reassurance. When it happens, you know from the bottom of your heart that the only explanation is that it was a "God thing".

I had a Godwink in the fall of 2009. I was in the middle of my divorce and couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. On a Saturday that was supposed to be a travel day, I woke up to an early-October ice storm. My house was eerily quiet with the typical chaos of three boys absent as it was their dad's weekend. I was home alone.

I had a planned event to occupy my weekend; a quick trip to Denver. As a member of a national consulting group, AHA, I met with these long-time friends and colleagues annually. This year's meeting was in Denver. A meeting I typically looked forward to, I instead dreaded. I had developed cold feet and wanted to stay home.

Over the fifteen years that I belonged to this group, I was most times accompanied by my then-husband. Now absent a husband, I dreaded the explanation of this omission. The haven of my quiet home sounded much better.

The unexpected ice storm helped in my convincing myself that the trip was not meant to be. With two hours before takeoff, I sat on an unmade bed staring at my laptop; the "cancel reservation" option on the Southwest website was staring back at me. But I couldn't do it. Something moved me not to push the button. I knew that I needed to go.

Following my mother's ongoing advice to always put my best foot forward with a smile on my face, I gave myself an attitude adjustment. So wearing my most flattering sweater dress and favorite boots, I packed my bag and dragged my butt to the airport.

Saturday night was our group kick-off dinner in Denver. As I suspected, there were questions. Of which I gave short, polite answers. And I survived. Not as bad as I thought. Sunday was our business meeting with speaker presentations. The speaker was introduced as Garrett Brucker.

As Garrett spoke, I appreciated his client service model and felt his approach in business mirrored my own. I remember wishing he was in Omaha as there was no doubt that we "spoke the same language" and would work very well together. I also noted that Garrett was good looking and articulate.

Needless to say, I had lots of questions for the speaker during the presentation; waiting for a formal introduction at the close. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries while walking out together with another AHA colleague. We talked football and kids and enjoyed some light conversation.

As the colleague went off, I quickly realized that I was going down a hotel escalator alone with this seemingly single and good-looking speaker. The meeting was held at a downtown Denver hotel. I suddenly felt very single and panicked. I shook Garrett's hand, thanked him for his presentation and abruptly left.

Garrett will tell this story a bit differently. His memory is of me being engrossed in my Blackberry; not paying him the time of day. He was hoping that we could grab a beer at the hotel bar and watch the rest of the Broncos game. He didn't read my panic, but did know that I wasn't keen to a beer.

So that was it. What should have been the end of the story. A good business meeting and a chance encounter. But the look in his eyes stayed with me. It struck me that Garrett had very kind eyes. And there was some hurt in there too. I have always professed that a person's eyes are the doorway to their heart. The look in his eyes stayed on my mind.

Sunday night ended up being a less than stellar experience in Denver. What I hoped to avoid post-married life, I dealt with firsthand. The kindness I saw in Garrett was not reflective of the company I kept over dinner that night. As I took a cab to the airport Monday morning, I reflected on the weekend and regretted my Sunday afternoon panic attack.

There was an unexplained connection between Garrett and I. For reasons that I have no explanation other than I felt a nudge to do so, I found Garrett's e-mail on the last page of his printed presentation as I rifled through my computer bag. I then drafted an e-mail to him on my infamous Blackberry.

"Hi, Garrett. This is Sandy Lane from AHA. We met after your presentation yesterday. Do you do business in Nebraska?"

Within a minute I got a response asking me to meet him for coffee. He also asked how my son came out at his football game. After some exchanges, we concluded that a meeting wasn't meant to be as I was leaving town. We agreed to stay in touch and schedule a conference call later in the week.

Much later Garrett explained his confusion on the timing of my e-mail with my exit out of town. He never expected to hear back from me.

Later that week, I was home with a sick child. As I was cleaning out my computer bag, I stumbled on Garrett's presentation which was flipped open to his contact information. I remembered our promised conference call and his kind eyes. Without hesitation, I followed up and an Outlook invite was accepted for Friday.

I contemplated cancelling the call on Friday as it was a crazy day and I was spent. But once again, I couldn't push the cancel button. Garrett called at our scheduled time and we talked business for an hour. I did grill him a bit like an interview, but he passed with flying colors. I really liked him. I was convinced that we were cut from the same cloth.

I do have to confess that by the end of that Friday afternoon call, I had Googled Garrett as I poured myself a glass of wine. At the top of my Google search was his Facebook page. I decided to "Friend" him, but would wait until Sunday night. I didn't want to come across as too forward.

As we hung up, I stared at the "Add Friend" button on his Facebook page. I reminded myself of my plan to not appear too forward. And then as I took another sip of wine, I promptly clicked the friend request.

Garrett later said he was taken aback by the personal request within seconds of our hanging up. But he accepted in an equally prompt manner. After a flurry of FB messages back and forth and then e-mails, we started a personal friendship. Since that Friday afternoon four years ago, a day hasn't gone by without Garrett and I talking.

By Sunday night of that same weekend, we talked on the phone for hours. As I sat in the corner of my closet, tucked away from my sleeping kids, Garrett and I sharing our life stories; our heart breaks, our struggles, and our faith. It really was like we knew each other forever. The similarities in our life situations and our life stories were uncanny. And we really were cut from the same cloth.

Our friendship grew. The 550 miles between us seemingly took away the uncomfortable feeling that goes with the potential of a relationship. Garrett was a blessing to me.

A month later Garrett asked me out in the middle of a random phone conversation. I was professing to him my desire not to go out on blind dates. The idea sounded miserable to me. I shared with Garrett that I would only date men of whom I shared chemistry.

"We have chemistry. Why don't we go out?" was Garrett's response.

I responded by laughing and asking him to research the drive between our cities. He proposed meeting halfway. I proposed that he Google North Platte and then get back to me. We laughed it off and nothing more was said. Until the following weekend.

I kept thinking about Garrett's comment. Instead of thinking of reasons why we shouldn't go out on a date, I started thinking of reasons why we should. So I brought it up again.

"I believe you asked me out on a date the other night. If you did, I'm in."

I volunteered to fly to him. And that I did. Our weekend consisted of Garrett treating me to margaritas and Mexican. We talked endlessly, walked his dogs, visited his grandfather at the nursing home, and hiked in Boulder. A perfect weekend.

Our chance meeting while overcoming so many obstacles was nothing short of a Godwink. God had a plan. Together we've survived the pains of divorce, the challenges of single parenthood; all while accepting our failings and forging ahead in our new lives together. And now you know the rest of the story.

"When God winks, He is reaffirming that there is absolutely nothing about us that He does not know - our hurt, our every desire.  And that to me is very comforting." ~ Squire Rushnell

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 2013: Monday Night

I have my jersey on...Manning. Ready to go. Tonight is Monday Night Football. The boys are both home from their own football practices. Dinner is done. The dishwasher humming in the background. Time for football.

I do like Peyton Manning. Not only is he a good football player, but he's funny. Any commercial or You Tube clip featuring Peyton and/or brother, Eli, makes me laugh. He plays smart on the field and doesn't take himself too seriously off the field. No embarrassing Tiger-ish failings in moral judgment. Just a good guy.

I tell my kids that watching Peyton is like watching Tom Hanks play football. They don't get it. I actually don't think anyone does. But me. An old (in football years) and affable Peyton shouting out "hurry, hurry" on the field while running his offense is heartwarming. Kind of like a light-haired Tom Hanks playing football.

Grant just asked if I was blogging about Peyton. "You are not going to say he is like Tom Hanks, are you?"

Yep. Sure am. My blog. My content.

Go #18!! I love it when the good guys finish first. I bet Tom Hanks is a fan too.


September 22, 2013: Sunday Starts at Church and Ends at Church

Scott taking a pix of Church #1 on Church Road
I gave Church Road another ride this morning. This go around I wasn't sick. Interestingly enough, the sky was just as blue and the day, just as beautiful as the last ride. But today I was a different person. No coughing or wheezing, just enjoying a great ride with great people. A perfect start to a Sunday.

As with any great ride, we worked hard at solving life's problems over those 35 miles of rolling country hills. Most was spent talking healthcare with Scott. Our goal is common; how to best help people stuck in an ineffective system. The insight from the conversation was a win.

Between the bookends of my day (Church Road in the morning, real church at night) was a lot of Sunday splendor; Starbucks, gas, groceries, yard work, laundry, dog walking and e-mail reading. All within the confines of my wonderful home with open windows filling it with the feel of fall. Another win.

Church was at 5:30 and the message, a good one. Although much of the sermon centered around greed and our inability to serve two Gods, a closing comment got my attention. "We must make the most impact in the few years we have."

That's what it's really all about, isn't it? How impactful we can make our days, our moments? We need to continually challenge ourselves to positively impact each life we touch. My life choices do make a difference.

The comment in the sermon brought me back to my earlier conversation on Church Road. As we work to fix a very broken healthcare system, we must always remember our goal; positively impacting the lives of people, one patient at a time.

Scott checking the quality of his pix. Church #2 on Church Road

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September 21, 2013: Middle School Dance

Grant attended his first school dance last night. Per his estimation, there were 600 kids at this multi-school dance for 8th graders. Based on the traffic and volume of kids swarming in at drop off, I wouldn't doubt it. Two hours later, I picked him up and I did what any good mother would do. I interrogated him.

I was very curious how this "dance" played out since the 8th grade graduation dances I have observed in the past did not mirror my school dances growing up. Kids either jumped up and down in packs or kids just plain didn't dance. Girls appeared to be trying out their many learned moves from dance classes, separated from the boys.

Me: "Did you dance?"

G: "Yea. Mom, it was a dance."

Grant was obviously confused at my question. <duh!>. I was as equally confused with his answer. <really?>

Me: "Did you dance with girls?"

Now he was downright annoyed.

G: "Who else would I dance with?"

Me: <silent shock>

Me: "Did you know the girls you danced with?"

G: "I did after I danced with them."

I got a few more details out of him including the fact that he thought it was dumb to go to a dance and not dance. A few of his male classmates agreed and decided to find some girls to dance with. And that they did.

Final comment from Grant, "That was fun, Mom. There's another one in a couple of weeks. Can I go?"

Yep. A plan. Sounds like we are officially transitioning into the high school years. Although I'm a little sad that an era is ending, I am also happy that he's not afraid to dance. Go get em', Grant.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 20, 2013: The New Normal

Cookie out for an Omaha drive
Is there such a thing as normal or is normal just what you get used to? I think it's the latter.

I am now almost used to (and enjoying) having a dog back in the house, a boyfriend here on weekdays, more trips to the airport and less trips on the airplane. The new normal.

My life is full of enjoying the final ride of a senior son and the new ride a business adventure. As I look at pictures from the past few years, I note that my hair is longer and midriff larger (need to work on that). Kids have grown (a lot) and my new normal is way different from my old normal of years past. And it's all okay.

We adapt and survive. And when we do it right, we thrive. I often wonder about the secret to thriving and surviving. I really think it is all about making lemonade. There are plenty of lemons thrown at us; day in and day out. But they all can be made into lemonade.

My new mantra: normal (whatever that is) always has to include some lemonade.

The view of downtown after dropping Garrett off at the airport
(just me and Cookie now)

September 19, 2013: Throwback Thursday

Pick Aunts (w/Adam, Gma, and me)
Aunts (L to R) Joanie, Connie, Mom, Kathy, Barbara, Rebecca
I recently visited my Aunt Kathy at her cool downtown apartment. As we sipped wine and enjoyed light conversation, a stack of photo albums caught my eye.

After asking permission to peruse, I quickly surmised that I had stumbled upon some lost treasures. Kathy, a lifelong talented photographer, had meticulously documented her life through pictures. My childhood was included in her pictorial story. Many of the found photo treasures were snaps I had never seen before. Forgotten stories and ordinary days were quickly remembered with an emotional flood to my memory.

I'm a sucker for pictures. When visiting friends, I find myself drawn to all the photos framed on walls and shelves. I love to hear about the different people that played such an important role that their photo is displayed front and center. An army picture of a young soldier now an elder or a baby picture of a grown man; all gateways to a piece of their being. Shining eyes and affectionate looks can't be hidden from the viewer of a still shot.

The picture above made me smile. I quickly remembered what it felt like to be ten years old. I had forgotten about my beloved embroidered knit vest. I absolutely loved spending time with my grandma and aunts. My position in the picture (plopped in the middle) and smile on my face says it all.

Kathy caught on to my enthusiasm as I ravished through her albums like a picture-starved savage. I left with a folder full of favorites for later scanning and her promise to let me look through each and every album when more time allowed.

Today I looked through my new treasures even more closely. Reminders of a forgotten past were many times displayed subtlety in the background. Details that were once a part of my childhood normalcy, like the beauty of my mother with her hair pulled back and an uncle with a cigarette in hand and beer can nearby. Just like yesterday...

Mom at the farm. Proud aerial picture displayed above her pretty head.
Hangin' with my cool Uncle David. I was looking at photos :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September 18, 2013: On the Day You Were Born

When Ben was born, I bought a book "On the Day You Were Born". As friends and relatives visited Baby Grant for the first time, I asked that they write in the book; explaining what they were doing on Ben's birthday. This is now a cherished book. There are notes from Ben's now adult cousins writing in their small child handwriting what they had for school lunch and how excited they were when they heard about the arrival of their baby cousin. The handwritten loving thoughts from my now deceased grandparents are cherished as well.

Although I don't have a book like this, I am fortunate to have a mother who is a great historian and often shares these wonderful details. Below are her notes on my birth. My keepsake will be held in this blog.

Note 1:

Sandy was 46 years old last Friday, the 13th.  After getting home from the hospital on the 16th I laid Sandy on the sofa & called Matt & Mark to come in the house from the backyard.  Babysitters Gma & Gpa Gib were going on and on about our new pink bundle of joy while both boys walked very carefully to investigate what warranted so much attention.  They got real close to her face for a really good look.  Who to blame?  I don't remember but someone flipped the top of the blanket over Sandy's face.  No longer interested & impatient to play again, they left the room to go back outside.  I wish I could describe Gma Gib's reaction and Gpa Gib's laugh.  Gma Gib was a little less complementary a few minutes later saying "She looks like a little papoose!"  Granted, Sandy's skin was somewhat ruddy that day and it didn't help I had her wrapped as tight as a drum in her blanket.  Gma Gib never beat around the bush.


gramma mary

Note 2:

Doesn't seem possible 46 years have gone by...On Sat the 16th we took you home from the hospital...same day Rosie & Gary Grage were married.  (Heidesch's lived in Matgen's house then)..typical September morning in Iowa....sunny & moderate temps.  Always a good baby, you did projectile vomiting only when you drank your bottle too fast.  My fault. And you were kind of like Grant, always smiling with a just little bit of rascal in you.

September 17, 2013: Slow Me Down, Lord

We got Ben's senior pictures back. My handsome middle child makes me smile. It was also a reminder that time flies. Way too fast. It was timely that I received the prayer below via a motivational e-mail on the same day I received Ben's pix....
"Slow Me Down Lord"

Slow me down Lord
Ease the pounding of my heart
by the quieting of my mind.

Steady my hurried pace
with a vision of the eternal march of time.
Give me amid the confusion of the day,
the calmness of the eternal hills.

Break the tension of my nerves and muscles
with the soothing music of the singing streams
that live in my memory.

Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep.

Teach me the art of taking MINUTE vacations,
Of slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend,
to pat a dog,
to read a few lines of a good book.

Slow me down Lord
and inspire me to send my roots
deep into the soil of life's enduring values
that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.

Author: Wilfred A. Peterson

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 16, 2013: Vote for Pedro

Ben Lane has courage. Not always in ways that I approve, but he has it.

This morning he showed confidence as he courageously walked from his car to my house in a soggy t-shirt and underwear (and nothing else) following football practice. I later found out that he made a similarly clad trek from the locker room to his car at school. I am unsure whether his courageous mind remembered that the parking lots are video taped. We will see if a You Tube video pops up on his escapades.

For the record and to add to my befuddlement, I am unsure why he chose to march around without pants on. His answer was that he left his pads in the locker room. I am guessing he forgot his shorts. Of course his resolution is to just walk out in his underwear. Fearless Ben.

As a child, Ben was always to first to raise his hand and volunteer to jump on a stage. A showman at heart, crowds feed him. They certainly don't scare him.

Years back, our cousin, Stefano, invited us to a special appearance on Creighton campus by the actor who played Napoleon in the movie "Napoleon Dynamite". Jon Heder was cast as this nerdy, moon-booted character and portrayed him to perfection. He had a cult following which included me and my children. Ben was eight at the time.

A popular part of the movie was Napoleon campaigning on behalf of his friend, Pedro, for class president. "Vote for Pedro" shirts were worn by Napoleon's camp. My boys proudly owned these matching shirts.

The Jon Heder event was intended for Creighton students. They packed the student center to listen to and potentially meet the man behind Napoleon. Our boys were the only children there. They listened to every word as Jon described the making of the movie and development of his comical character.

Next it was time for Jon to field questions from the audience. I later read that there were over 700 Creighton students in attendance. Several of these students raised their hands asking questions on Jon's personal life and the film. Then Ben raised his hand. We were on the far side, away from the main crowd. But propped on Stefano's back, Ben waved his hand until he got Jon's attention.

"I think we have a question from one of the younger Creighton students. Come up on stage, young man."

Ben confidently walked on to the stage; front and center. Without hesitation, he gripped the microphone. Jon prompted him for his question.

Without missing a beat Ben deadpanned, "Did you vote for Pedro or Summer?"

The crowd responded in laughter as the question related to the very non-complex story line and the happy ending.

Jon immediately went into character as he belted out his answer in classic Napoleon exasperation, "I didn't vote for Summer! She'd ruin my life. Do you think I'm a frickin' idiot? Geez!"

The crowd roared. Ben beamed. You would have thought he won a spelling bee. But no alphabet-related contests for Ben. Just a wisecrack that brought down the college house. And in retrospect, I'm just glad he decided to keep his pants on.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 15, 2013: Football in Threes

Outside of Chiefs stadium
People say bad luck comes in threes. My football weekend of threes was not the case. One was bad and two were good.

Being the mother of boys spares me of dance recitals and visits to the American Girl store. Instead, most trips and outings are centered around sports. This weekend was a case in point. My birthday weekend was a celebration of all things football.

My birthday itself was capped by a Skutt win with Ben on the field (I'm still smiling). Saturday was the Huskers. I won't belabor the outcome, but will say the weather was exceptional. The road trip and company of boys to and from Lincoln was equally as good. The game itself; well....that would be the bad one I was referring to above.

Sunday was all football for us from sun up to sun down. A short trip to Kansas City brought my kids to their first NFL game. And it didn't disappoint. I have been to several NFL games over the years, but didn't include my children. This wrong was rectified on Sunday with the Chiefs vs the Cowboys match-up in Kansas City.

After finally prying Zach out of bed, we hit the road in the wee hours. I had coffee in hand and XM Radio within arm reach. The boys quickly took over channel selection after finding a 2008 throw-back station. I got a smile hearing the three of them refer to '08 as in the oldies category. I suppose when you are 20,17 and 13 years old; five years is a long time.

I got schooled that Flo Rida isn't Flow Rider (per Ben, they're from Florida) and that I shouldn't call Justin Timberlake JT (creeps them out). I recognized most of the pop hits played. With each recollection, I could picture what I was doing when listening to the song way back in good ole' 2008. Upon reflection, I had to agree with the kids. Five years really was a long time ago.

We did get stuck in traffic outside the stadium and firmly placed the blame on Zach, our Sleeping Beauty from the morning. But with a quick drop off and assurances that I didn't mind being late for kick off, I secured a parking space solo. I was good with that. My favorite thing to do at big events is to just take everything in. From talking to the parking attendant to checking out the Draft House bar upon stadium entry, that is all my speed.

As Garrett often reminds me, I don't like to miss a party. NFL games are just that; a big party. I could spend hours watching and meeting people and perusing the many venues around the stadium. I did this for a brief period with beer in hand while the boys watched the game. Then I received a text from Ben.

We were being schooled by two NFL babes on how to pose
"did you get arrested or something"

No, Ben, I didn't get arrested, but I did run into my friends, Patty and Roxanne. Moms like football too.

The game was a blast, all around, and the close win; fun. Our trip home included my driving and their sleeping. Upon arrival in Omaha, I did what every mother of boys would do; I took the boys out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings. We didn't want to miss the end of the Falcons game....  


Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 14, 2013: Benefit of Doubt

The story below was sent out as an attachment to this week's St. Wenceslaus school newsletter. I thought it was a great reminder and worth sharing.

As a student, I always knew where I stood with my parents when it came to accusations made sbout teachers: They (the teachers) were right and I was wrong until proven otherwise. And proof wasn't solely my first hand account.

My parents wise approach, like Mr. Rosemond's, was a good lesson for me in independently working through conflict and not making excuses.
Published Tuesday September 10, 2013 Omaha World Herald

JOHN ROSEMOND: Give a teacher’s report the benefit of doubt

The statute of limitations has expired concerning the following tale, so I can finally tell it.

In October of my now 40-something-year-old son Eric’s seventh-grade year, he informed me that he was probably going to get a D, maybe even an F, in English on his upcoming report card, and perhaps for the entire year. “How’s that?” I asked.

“My teacher doesn’t like me, Dad,” he replied. He then launched into a litany of her many offences against him, including blaming him for things he didn’t do, targeting him for unwarranted criticism, covering his best work with negative comments in dreaded red ink and mocking his answers in front of the entire class.

“You can’t pull wool over my eyes, Eric,” I said. “The truth is that you are making it difficult for her to do her job. You’re a troublemaker in her class. Maybe the other kids think you’re funny. She doesn’t, and neither do I. I have only one thing to tell you, which is that if you don’t get at least a B in her class, you will spend every free moment of the next grading period in your room and you will go to bed every one of those nights at seven o’clock, lights out.” End of “conversation.”

Indeed, he managed to get a B from said Evil English Teacher. How he managed in less than five weeks to accomplish this feat is something I never looked into. I did not even talk to Miss Malevolence. She may not have been a very good teacher. I doubt that seriously; nonetheless, her competence wasn’t the issue. The issue was that I expected Eric, under any and all circumstances, to be a good student.

There are three instructional morals to this story, the first of which being that Eric solved his English problem because he believed me. In the absence of at least a B in English, he absolutely knew that he would spend all of his free time in his room for nine weeks and go to bed, lights out, at seven.

Eric knew that threats were not part of my parenting vocabulary. Can you say the same of your kids?

The second moral is that big problems require even bigger consequences. Most parents, I have discovered, try too hard to make sure punishments “fit” crimes. In the process, they end up doing nothing of consequence. A child misbehaves in some egregious fashion and parents respond with a light tap to the wrist with a flyswatter. “Take that!” they cry, and nothing changes. I was determined that this would be the first and last time I would have to deal with an issue of this sort, and it was. The third moral is that children do not make good witnesses, especially when they have emotional skin in the game. Specifically, when children complain about teachers, their complaints are generally not truthful. I don’t mean that they are necessarily lying. They aren’t telling the truth because they cannot see it. The ability to accept full responsibility for one’s misdeeds separates the men from the boys, which is why a good number of “men” (including a good number of women) are still “boys.”

The bottom line: As this new school year begins, it would be a generally good thing if parents resolved to always give a teacher’s report the benefit of doubt where school problems are concerned. Children benefit considerably when adults stand together.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 13, 2013: 46...a Good Number and a Win

My 46th birthday went off with a bang. No Friday the 13th fears were going to sideline my once-a-year special day. Although a couple of bumpy moments; Sandy: 10, Bad Luck: 0. A win.

Garrett was here when I awoke in the morning. First score. A fresh cup of coffee greeted me bedside. And the night prior I was treated to a surprise party gathering of friends at Kobe steakhouse. I hadn't expected it. Garrett pulled off a surprise and the company was outstanding. Sandy scores 2.

With a Friday birthday, some work did need to be involved. Since I love what I'm doing, not a bad gig. Garrett and I headed downtown for a full morning and then off to the airport. Back to Denver for GB.

My celebration in Omaha continued. After a a final business meeting, I was greeted with more gifts and a lovely tiara from three mini-princesses. I wore it in their honor for (most of) the rest of the night. Sandy: 3.

Friday night lights awaited; along with some other surprises. I walked in the door of my house to be greeted by an amazing bouquet of flowers from my mom and dad. This annual gift is a pleasure I look forward to and savor until the last bud stops flowering. Zach, Ben and Kathy greeted me as well. Sandy: 4.

All of those years of planning all-boy gi-normous birthday sleepovers have paid off. The boys planned in advance for my big day; bearing gifts and a signed card by the day of the event. My gift basket included an array of colored markers, fruit and nuts snack mix, a water bottle, and a candle. The card was signed by all three with funny notes referring to who was the true favorite child. This is a running joke in our house. "Who's your favorite mom. ME, right?"

My answer, "Of course, its' you, ________ (fill in the blank...Zach, Ben or Grant; depending on who is asking) Sandy: 5.

My dear Aunt Kathy surprised me with a cake. And then we all piled in the car to attend the tailgate pre-Skutt game. The cake and some birthday cheer was enjoyed with my fellow Skutt football parents (a great better group to enjoy my birthday). Sandy: 6.

And then the most coveted gift of all; a Skutt upset of the #1 ranked Elkhorn Antlers. Benny was on fire. All the boys were awesome. There was no better way to ring in the good-ole #46 then among my Skutt contingent watching our boys play hard and with heart. Sandy: 8 (worth an extra point).

When I thought the party was over, there was more. Walking into my home at ten bells, I was greeted with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Garrett and an amazing card from Stefano. Kathy and I enjoyed a glass of wine and toasted to another good year. Sandy: 10. Bad luck: 0. Friday the 13th B-day? A win :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 12, 2013: Firsts and Seconds

Today was a day of firsts and seconds. The older I get, the more I am reminded of things I have never done. I don't typically think about the big things like climbing the Himalayas or swimming the English Channel. I think about the smaller things. For instance, I've never had a massage and I've never shot a gun. I don't know why. Neither were deliberate decisions. Either the opportunity never came up or I was never asked.

I have also never bought or smoked a cigarette. Until today. No need to panic. I will keep up my streak of smokeless days, but I did purchase these tobacco wrappers for a friend. Walking into a gas station, I presented the friend's last box (now empty) and said "I need to buy some of these." The young man behind the counter burst out laughing.

Man: "That's the funniest sh_ _ I've heard all day."

Me: "Sorry. I've never bought cigarettes before. I'll take two."

Man: "Ma'am, I just stopped smoking, please don't tell me you're going to start."

Me: "Oh, no. I turn 46 tomorrow and just today realized that I've never bought cigarettes before. They're for a friend. I thought it would be a good thing to check off the list while I was still 45."

Man:  "If this is your bucket list, you are pretty easy to please!"

Eleven dollars later, I walked out the door noticing that I was still wearing disposable sandals provided from a quick pedicure. My business attire complimented with hot pink flip flops must have added to the peculiarity of my request.

We'll see if the massage and gun shooting goes better.

My second major contribution of the day was more positive and was a second time around for me. I hosted (along with the help several other parent volunteers) the weekly pre-game football pasta feed. The venue was my backyard and the menu, pasta (anticipated) and pizza (unanticipated). I had hosted a feed a few years back when Zach played.

The smelly boys came in groves after practice, filling the tables and their plates. By the time the younger sophomores arrived, the meat sauce was aplenty, but the pasta noodles; almost gone. After me having a panic attack, Zach saved the day by making a quick run to Little Caesar's. No boy went home hungry and there were no leftovers. Not even a bottle of water was left unopened.

And then I noticed boys sitting on the swings and boys jumping on the trampoline. The yard was full of boys and laughter. And then my heart swelled. It had been too quiet for too long.

These loud, smelly boys were also thankful and polite. I will chalk this one up to a good second round.

Boys on swing set

Boys watching tramp tricks
(until I realized that a football player getting hurt in my backyard
the night before a game would be a bad thing)
Boys on tramp

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2013: 9/11

Today is 9/11. The 12th anniversary of a horrible day in US history. Like every other American, I remember the details of that date. From where I was at when I heard the news to the raw fear that I felt, I remember as though it was yesterday.

9/11/01 started as an ordinary day. Blue skies brightened my non-eventful drive to work. Grant was dropped off at daycare and Zach and Grant; at school. The boys were eight, five and one year old.

My first agenda item of the morning was a conference call with a client from Onawa, Iowa. As I was concentrating on listening to the two physicians on the corresponding speaker phone, a young Lutz manager kept popping her head into my office. I tried to ignore the interruptions out of courtesy to my clients. As her persistence became annoying, she finally gave me a vocal interruption.

"Sandy, you need to get off the phone and come watch the TV. Planes are flying into buildings in New York."

I repeated her statement to my clients and we all agreed to end the call and engage in the apparent world news happening around us.

Then I saw on our conference big screen what had everyone's attention and led to my colleague's persistence in getting my attention. The US was being attacked. It was surreal. No one could make sense of what was going on as the television reporters tried to piece together the factual set of events that included the unbelievable.

Life stopped. There was nothing normal left in that day. This was the first day of living in fear of being an American. We were targeted and attacked. Each person in the Lutz and Company conference room felt vulnerable.

As the story unfolded, it was reported that President Bush was flying into Offut Air Force Base for protection. With this statement, pure panic set in. Our entire city was now a potential target as we housed the leader of a country so hated that others would sacrifice their lives to fuel this hate.

With a heavy heart and fear for my family's safety, I collected my kids. My last vivid memory was hugging the boys as I delivered them to the safety of our home. Yet I was unsure of what safe was any more. Nothing felt safe.

All I could do was pray for God's mercy in watching over my family and our country. Along with other Americans, I felt helpless as I prayed and watched in horror as the towers fell and people died senseless deaths. We will never forget.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10, 2013: An Abandoned Park

Ready for a walk to the park
On a recent bike ride, I noticed something that has gone unnoticed by me for a long time; my neighborhood park. Funny how I have ridden by it countless times accessing my favorite trail without a second thought or glance. This would have been an impossibility in my world ten years ago.

The radius of our world in those days very much included the park. After dinner or nap time, our favorite trip was this two block walk. When not using our legs, we favored scooters, bikes, and a little green wagon.

The Little Tikes wagon was the main mode of transportation for Baby Grant. With a dog leash one hand and my other, pulling the wagon along; we would meander around the neighborhood. If Harry get tired, he would hop in with his pal, Grant.

The many boy populated sleep-overs and end-of-year baseball parties would include a trip to the park. And we would use every corner of land available to us. From home run derby's at the ball field to playing in the sand; we would stay until dark.

Fireflies were caught in jars and slides climbed on in ways not intended by their designer. A good day for the boys often ended with a good night at the park. And then I blinked and the boys grew up.

The wagon has since been donated to a neighbor boy and a backyard trampoline replacing the neighboring playground. The park became a distant memory. With boy #3 hitting his teen years, it has now been completely forgotten. Until I noticed it again today.

Time does fly by. Kids grow and moms find their own hobbies with their new-found time. I now fly by the next generation of young moms at the park without a second glance. And I am just a spandex, helmeted afterthought to them as well.

In reality they are a glimpse of my past and me; a look into their future. But we don't necessarily notice as we follow our own paths that correspond with our temporary bit of happiness. From strollers to training wheels to scooters. And now to a mom on her own recreational vehicle. The cycle continues...

Park day ~ 2006

An afterthought (at best) ~ 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 9,2013: A Garden Patch

Pix I took on a recent trip to the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium
Suzanne Scott passed away this morning. A wonderfully written newspaper story honoring her legacy got my attention. It brought back an old memory and reminded me of the goodness of a garden patch.

I briefly met Mrs. Scott in 1989. Our chance meeting was on an elevator in the downtown Kiewit Plaza. I had begun my accounting career at Peter Kiewit Sons at the ripe age of 21. Walter Scott was CEO. In my year and a half tenure at Kiewit, Mr. Scott and I had never met. But I did meet his lovely wife.

As a young hire for the big construction power house, I heard many stories of the company leadership. Mr Scott was well liked and widely talked about. Rumor had it that he and his wife occupied the top floor of the corporate headquarters. To me this was all just talk. I was a mere junior accountant trying to properly learn her debits and credits.

One day I firsthand discovered the folklore to be true. I walked into an elevator as I would any other day. What greeted me was a sight unlike any typical day at the office. The elevator was occupied by a striking older woman with two dogs.

The woman was stunning; wearing tall brown boots with red lipstick highlighting her short silver hair. With the obedient dogs on either side, she beamed of confidence and presence. As she greeted me with a gleam in her eyes, I quickly surmised that this must be Mrs. Scott. She was very kind and engaged me in pleasant chatter centering around her dogs.

That was it. Mrs. Scott wouldn't remember me. But I always remembered her. She embodied the phrase "a class act". I was reminded of her many class acts in the years to come as my sons were raised with the zoo a focal point in their childhood.

The article in the Omaha World Herald warmly chronicled the good deeds Mrs. Scott has made to our city. Watching the tremendous expansion of zoo exhibits over the years, I have been continually reminded of the Scott's generosity.

The marveled jewel called Henry Doorly Zoo was built with abundant support by this couple. As I read the article in the paper, I learned that Suzanne and Walter met through their individual passions for this Omaha wonder.

Suzanne was the founding director of the Omaha Zoo Foundation and Walter the board president when they met and began dating in the mid-80's. In relaying her partiality for the zoo, Suzanne was quoted as saying "The zoo allows all people in the whole community to participate. It is something for everybody, not just a selected few."

I couldn't agree more. The zoo is a true respite for all. Old to young. Rich to poor. A love for our non-human friends does not discriminate. Millions have been touched by the enjoyment of this animal kingdom. My family falls in the benefactor category as do countless others from all walks of life.

I was reminded of a favorite quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that describes leaving the world a better place..."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."

The zoo is a wonderful garden patch for our fare city. I was taught at a young age that there are givers and takers in this world. We should all be grateful for Mrs. Scott's giving nature.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 8, 2013: Grandpa Doc

Grandpa Doc holding Grant  ~ April 2000
My Grandpa Doc died in July of 2000.  Although it should have been of no surprise (he had been battling cancer for months); we always thought our ailing grandma would go first. But this was not the case. A man that always seemed so vibrant and proudly served the role of Grandma's primary caregiver was quickly gone.

I have a Godwink story that happened the night my grandpa died. It was a hot summer night in July, a Friday. Mom was back in Remsen, doing her best to help care for her sick parents. I was home in Omaha with my young boys. My oldest, Zach, was seven years old.

As Grandpa's death was sudden, there were no conversations on the status of Grandpa’s health that particular day. All was quiet as I thought all the boys were peacefully asleep.I was sitting up in my bed reading a book and enjoying the solitude.

Out of no where I heard a little voice coming from across the hall, “Mom, we need to say a Hail Mary.” 

I saw Zach sitting up in his bed in the dark of night. Although I thought it was odd, I thought the randomness was attributable to his Catholic schooling and young age. So I complied and together we said a Hail Mary. It warmed my heart as Zach seemed to be saying it with vigor. When we were done, Zach didn’t say another word. He simply laid back down and went to bed.

I continued to read my book. About ten minutes later my phone rang. It was my mom calling to tell me that my Grandpa Doc passed away.

Grandpa was laid to rest in Remsen. As anyone who has had buried a close family member knows, the experience is overwhelming and at times, exhausting. My mom certainly felt like this on our drive back to Omaha from Remsen. She was emotionally spent. As we rode together in the back seat of the car, Mom could barely keep her eyes open. But she was anxious to tell me the details behind of the unexpected death of my grandfather. It was our first chance to really talk about this fateful day.

The day had started as it had for weeks; with my grandpa in the hospital. My mom was taking her turn at his side while taking in the myriad of information from various rounding physicians. Grandpa had been receiving radiation treatment and it was taking a toll on his frail, elderly body.  Grandpa was actually feeling a bit better that day and asked for a mirror so he could shave.

With some deliberation,  mom found one. My grandpa took the mirror, looked at his image and in my mom's words "looked like he had seen a ghost". In a panic, he turned to my mom and said "I need to go home now."

Grandpa saw what everyone else had seen for months; a sick old man who was deteriorating and dying. It scared him as he knew his time on the earth was almost done. He wanted to go home...immediately. And he was adamant about this. No words were spoken, but Grandpa made it clear with his eyes. He didn't want to die in the hospital.

Mom knew what had to be done. She summonsed the nurses. After much triage between hospital staff, doctors, and hospice; an ambulance was brought to the hospital. Grandpa was given his dying wish.

Grandpa was transported for the 40 mile, uncomfortable trek from Sioux City to Remsen. There was worry that he wouldn't survive the trip. But his will held out and he made it home.

Family took turns at his bedside. Management of his pain meds allowed for him to be alert, yet comfortable. As Mom took her turn at Grandpa's side, she held his hand; reassuring him that it was okay for him to let go.

My very Catholic grandfather had always found peace in reciting the Hail Mary. His beloved mother's name was Mary. Knowing his love for his mother and wanting to share Grandpa's faith journey to outside his worldly life, mom started whispering the prayer in his ear.

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee..."

Grandpa squeezed Mom's hand. He was at peace. Then Mom whispered in his ear that it was okay for him to go. All would be okay. His mother, Mary, was waiting for him.

With one more squeeze to Mom's hand and a labored breath, Grandpa passed away.

After immediate family was contacted,  Mom called me with the news.

As mom rehashed these detailed final minutes of Grandpa's life with me, I was floored. The sudden request by Zach to recite the Hail Mary was not random, but had an express purpose.

I immediately shared with Mom the timing of Zach sitting up in his bed and the corresponding timelines with Grandpa's passing. There was no doubt in our minds that this was a Godwink. God wanted us to know with no hesitation that there was a Heaven, that my grandpa was there, and that he was blessed with being reunited with his mother.

I believe in Godwinks. God gives us many blessings and messages if we open our hearts to them. In this instance I also believe the message was that of a child living in the legacy of a grandparent. The testament of a good man is left with those he left on earth. I celebrate this blessing firsthand as I enjoy life surrounded by great family that are part of the Pick legacy. A true blessing.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

September 7, 2013: Step-Dog

Cookie is beat. She is calling it a night. And Cookie doesn't sleep in a doggy bed, she sleeps in the human bed. A dog's life.

A princess, this shih tzu likes a cushy life. Dry dog food always has added cold meat. A walk? Of course.Whenever she's ready. Her favorite spot in the world is on her owner's lap. And her favorite extracurricular activity; sticking her head out an open car window.

One thing Cookie doesn't like is getting her picture taken. She will give me the cutest, most enthusiastic puppy-eyed look. And then as I inconspicuously pick up my phone to snap a photo, she purposely looks away.

Those naysayers who say it can't be purposeful, she's a dog; you are wrong. Cookie doesn't appreciate being photographed, so she chooses not to. That simple. I have taken no less than 50 shots of this dog over the past four years to only capture her tail or the side of her head.

Today I held Cookie in my arms and rubbed her tummy; determined to coax her into a picture. The big N-O. She refused me. It is times like these that I'm convinced that Cookie is part human in her brain capacity. This girl knows exactly what she is doing. Case in point: she has her owner wrapped around her paw.

 I was reminded of Cookie's influence over Garrett on our ride to Lincoln today. I love an open sunroof. Garrett felt it was too hot. As the sunroof remained closed and I lacked fresh air, I thought of Cookie's car treatment. After reminding Garrett of how many (hundreds) of times I have endured the heat and cold from the outside in order to accommodate Cookie's desire to stick her head out the window, the sunroof was quickly opened for me.

I do admire Cookie for her female finesse and skill in getting her way. It's actually cute; both for the dog and her doting owner. You are welcome at my house anytime, Cookie. You'll fit right in.

Picture taking - fail

Sunroof  enjoyment - win

September 6, 2013: Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise...ride to work in the passenger seat
"Sunrise, Sunset...Sunrise, Sunset. Swiftly fly the years. One season following another. Laden with happiness and tears."

I do love Fiddler on the Roof. We put on this play in high school. As part of the chorus, I still remember the words to every song. Just recently I watched the Broadway rendition of this play. As I pondered the title of my blog today, this song rang through my mind.

Sunrise started today different than most. The usual weekday morning events occurred; an early morning workout, a ride to work through rush hour, a hot cup of coffee in hand. The difference was that I wasn't driving. I was the passenger.

Garrett was the pilot. on a workday? A different routine? Definitely. A new routine started this week. Our collaboration on a new business project will bring Garrett to Omaha weekly and on weekdays.

Not only will Garrett be in Omaha more, his dog has moved in. With his heightened travel schedule, we agreed that Cookie living in Omaha would be the best for my step-dog. She has been here before and loves my big backyard. No doubt that Cookie will make many friends, as Harry did, with the volume of dog walkers who pass by the side of my house.

Cookie held down the fort at home today while Garrett and I attended countless work meetings and planning sessions. A good day at the office. And it was so nice riding back home with Garrett as we continued our day into the night. Just as it should be; together.

Time for Friday night lights. A perfect way to enjoy the sunset from Moylan Field, home to the Skutt Skyhawks. Benny, my #9, was on fire. His enthusiasm on the field warms my heart. We sat with Ben's fan club. Ben gave us some pre-game waves showing his appreciation for our presence. As a parent, I do appreciate being appreciated.

With ongoing updates on other games going on around the city, we enjoyed a Skyhawk win among family and friends. The breeze was a welcomed reprieve on a hot summer night. The win? Frosting on the cake. The company? Let's just say it was much better enjoying the day and the game with Garrett at my side rather than a FaceTime update later :)  

Sunset...watching Benny play football from the stands.