Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 29, 2013: Just Can't Let it Go

Our babysitter extraordinaire, Lisa Fey, with Benny and Zach
Grant has a weakness. He just can't let things go. I get on him to make hard decisions as we clean his room and go through accumulated stacks of paper.

Me: "Grant, we can give this toy to Goodwill. You haven't played with it in years."

Grant: "But it was a gift from Grandma, Mom. We can't give it away."

Me: "Grant, there is no reason to hold on to that birthday card from two years ago."

Grant: "But, Mom, Aunt Joan wrote me a note in it. We can't throw it away."

You get the picture. Cleaning out a closet or a drawer with Grant is a painful process. I pride myself on tidy spaces and a less is more philosophy, so I tend to cringe on Grant's hoarding tendencies.

In Grant's defense, it really is the "stuff" with his perceived sentimental value that he wants to hold on to. Unfortunately, with our large circle of friends and family, most of his possessions have a personal tie.

After shaking my head while looking through his cluttered backpack, I soon made a self-analysis. My "aha" moment came as I  reached in the pantry for the Tupperware of crackers. As I saw the steadfast art taped to the bottom, I realized that I was the pot calling the kettle black.

This art created by a mini-Zach Lane has been affixed to my cracker container for fifteen years. I knew it was a long time, but received the affirmation after rummaging through old pictures and finding the evidence in a photo dated November 3, 1998.

On that particular night, little Lisa Fey was babysitting my two year-old cowboy and five year-old school boy. Based on the picture, it appears the activities for the night included Lego creations and Halloween arts and crafts. If you note the markered cut-outs taped to the wall, you will see these same cut-outs still affixed to my Tupperware.

My recollection is that Zach wanted to save his drawings and taped them to the bottom of the container for his round-and-round crackers (Ritz crackers). He thought this would be both a good decoration and a safe, sturdy space for his art.

It is now fifteen years later and they haven't moved. I can't do it. Every time I take out the Saltines or Ritz, I notice the Halloween crafts and smile. I've never even had an inkling to remove them. Even when they clash with my Easter decorations.

I am so glad now that I have chosen to keep them in their original state. A personal tie. Sentimental value. The vision of the forgotten picture above stays on my mind. And I think of those sweet boys each time I reach for a salty indulgence.

Maybe Grant's approach isn't as flawed as I think. I will meet him halfway on his collection philosophy. My new rule: Save in moderation; just make good choices. Now let's see if Grant will bite.

My pantry treasure

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29, 2013: Vote for Grant

Even Cookie is helping
Last night was a late night fire drill at my house. A Vote-for-Grant, poster-making, last-minute project surprised me at bedtime.

As I was on a video call with Garrett at 11:00 p.m., I erroneously assumed Grant was asleep in bed. His bedtime is 10:30. My assumption was incorrect.

Mid-sentence, Grant blasted into my room in a complete panic. It was as though the house was on fire.

“Mom, I need to make two posters for the Student Council election tomorrow!”

After taking all the proper mother steps of quizzing him on why he hadn’t thought of this before and vowing that he was on his own, I conceded to help him out. My rationale was that the child needed to go to bed. In reality, it sounded like fun.

To my surprise, Grant actually had a vision and a plan. I was simply his support staff. I offered suggestions on the poster board choice and Sharpie color. Past that, Grant communicated the message and design.

As he scoured the art room for supplies, I searched the Internet for his requested pictures of sad dogs. Then I printed my top four picks in color along with his school picture. Grant’s handsome mug was a perfect campaign shot as he was sporting a tie and a winning smile.

Poster in progress
Explaining that most of the council candidates had slogans, Grant professed his differing strategy. Taping his 8 X 10 school picture to the left of the first poster, Grant wrote boldly to the right, “Slogans are Stupid. I’m handsome.” The bottom read in black bubble letters “Vote Grant Lane”

Enough said. No confidence issues with this kid.

Poster number two was filled with the sad dog pictures. In the middle, the poster read “Dogs will be sad if you don’t vote for Grant”. On my suggestion, a talking bubble was added to the pug. The sad adorable pug appeared to be saying, “Vote for Grant Lane”.

Grant looked at his piece of art in satisfaction and gave his rationale.

“This will get the girls’ votes.”

Okay. Grant’s support staff was impressed.

After school today, I was able to quiz Grant a bit on the reaction to the posters.

“They liked them a lot. I think I picked up a lot of votes with the sad dogs.”

And then my mothering kicked in again.

“Will you be upset if you don’t win? You won’t cry, will you?”

After a look of complete appall, Grant assured me that he didn’t care. And I believed him.

Tomorrow he will give his speech to the student body. I stumbled on it in his backpack (see below). I’m just glad he didn’t bring up the Affordable Care Act. I don’t think it would have gone over well. Khakis on free dress day are much more politically correct. Good luck, Grant!
“Good morning, fellow St. Wenceslaus students and staff. As most of you know me, my name is Grant Lane and today I’m going to tell you why you should consider voting me to be on Student Council. These are my reasons why.

I will try to get sweatpants or athletic shorts on free dress day or have khaki shorts or khaki pants on free dress days. And maybe have a teacher vs. student volleyball game. I will take any ideas and tell them to Mrs. Mohr and Mrs. Dowd and then try to get them passed. That’s why I think you should vote for me to be on the 2013 and 2014 Student Council of St. Wenceslaus. May God bless you all and good-bye.” 

~ Grant Lane

Sunday, October 27, 2013

October 26, 2013: An Underbooked Saturday

me and my pals
We had all kinds of aspirations for our fall Saturday. With Grant done with football and a Husker away game, the day was ours. Initially I thought we would go to the Pumpkin Patch. A movie with Zach? Walk around Village Pointe. Yes! We would to do it all. And then there was a neighborhood party at 7:00.

This is my downfall. And Grant is right by my side. We never want to miss a fun time. In turn we tend to overbook our free days.

I will give credit to my furry friends for giving me strength to say "No" this go around. With no morning interruption of an alarm clock, Cookie and I slept in. I put on my favorite slippers, made my Keurig coffee, and snuggled into my favorite chair; leopard to match my slippers. Bliss.

I wrote a blog and enjoyed the quiet of the morning. And then the rest of the house woke up. Ben was sore from his game the night before; wondering what was in store for breakfast. Grant, my forever planner, was concerned on our timeline for the day; particularly when we were meeting friends at the Pumpkin Patch.

As I sat snuggled in my chair with a dog at my side and a cat on my chest, the Pumpkin Patch didn't sound so good anymore. I discussed my thoughts with Grant. After incorporating other fun events on the calendar, namely our neighbor's costume party, we decided to clear our afternoon. No scheduled events until the 7:00 party. Final answer.

Ben's new non-Halloween do
And boredom did not prevail. Grant and Ben played on the tramp and vegged for the entire afternoon. I went through a stack of accumulated paper, got a pedicure, and visited the Apple store. Three loads of laundry were cleaned and a dog happily walked through my neighborhood.

Ben did find time to dye his hair at a friend's house. Some sort of football playoff gesture. Purportedly, he is not alone. I think he kind of looks like the bad guy from the Harry Potter movies. He says he just looks cool.

Then we blinked and it was 7:00. Party time.

We do love the Pumpkin Patch, but we didn't miss it today. It was a very good underbooked-kind-of day. And we were very well rested for the costume party :)
Our looks are temporary!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 24, 2013: A Beer and a Smile

I received an unanticipated message on FaceBook a couple of weeks back. It was a cute note from a friend's nephew. I hadn't seen him since he was in footie pajamas; looking out the window at the home of my future in-laws. He is now twenty-eight. Five years older than the age of his uncle when he died.

He gave me some nice feedback on my blogs. I was shocked, yet pleased, that he read them. And then my young friend asked if I would be interested in meeting sometime. I quickly realized that Darek shared the same sense of humor as his uncle. After asking if I wanted to join him for a coffee, he admitted to hating coffee. Beer was much better. Just like B.L., he made me laugh. The connection made my day.

Our current FaceBook friendship didn't come out of our acquaintance during with his footie pajama years. He remembers all the Lane's, but not really me. We became friends two years ago after I posted a blog about his very loved uncle who died way too young.BL blog post

Although I do like coffee, I looked forward to meeting Darek for a beer. After a change of plans on my side, we were able to make this Thursday night work. Running behind, I sent him a quick note to let him know this fact. His answer to my courteous message was simply "late". B.L. cleverness hit me again. Just like his uncle.

So I arrived late to find a very tall and grown up Darek. No footie pajamas. And he was the image of his uncle. As I gave him a hug, I was almost taken aback. From the sparkle in his eye to the grin on his face, B.L. was shining through.

Conversation was not a problem. I loved hearing about all of his relatives. I keep up with his mom, uncle and grandma on FaceBook, but it was nice to hear his version. A reinforcement from the twenty-five years I've known this family; I have never met a Kracl I didn't like. Even given their big extended family, this is a very true statement. Darek was no exception.

It was as though I'd known him forever. Just like his uncle, he tells it how it is while ending stories with a stare and a small smile. I especially loved hearing about his Grandpa. Richard is first in line of the Kracl trademark personality that BL exuded and Darek shines so well. Richard comes off as gruff, but you can't help but love him. Don't expect pleasantries in return, but if he likes you; you'll know it. And it actually feels like a bit of an achievement.

And then we talked about B.L. Darek didn't remember much about him dying other than his mom crying and his sitting on my mother-in-law's lap at the funeral. When I started talking too much about this sad day, Darek just looked at me and said "we need to talk about something else". Agreed. So I shared some fond memories I had with Scott and B.L. in Schuyler. A much better conversation which had us both smiling.

I shared stories on my boys as well. It was good to get perspective from a young man who has gone through the same years that my kids are now in. And then our evening came to an end. I noted that I needed to link Darek up on FaceBook with the many Lane's who have watched him grow up. They would like that. Darek also confirmed with me that my observation of the similarities between him and B.L. had been pointed out by others before. I was not alone.

After leaving, Darek sent me a quick note to thank me for the beers. I told him it was a bloggable night as a bit of fair warning to him. We both wished we would have snapped a picture. And then it dawned on me. The picture above of BL and I, taken way back when, was a great representation of this blog. I think Darek would agree. We'll snap a picture next time.

October 25, 2013: A Good Friday Night

Zach carpooled to the tailgate and game with another Skutt alum, sister to the QB 
It probably is sounding like I am turning into an obsessed high school football mom. Wondering this myself, I've given it some thought. My conclusion is that I'm not. Definitely excited and having fun, but not obsessed.

It's so much more than a football game. I think of it like a whole ball of happy events, relationships, and circumstances; all thrown together on a Friday night.

I'm actually a pretty simple gal. Those who know me, know this. Those who don't, are looking for something more complicated. They're not going to find it. Vanilla. Maybe vanilla bean with sprinkles on a good day, but I'm definitely a simple vanilla at the core.

Everything about our Friday night football nights encompasses the simple pleasures in life.

The people. I have a huge affinity for my fellow senior parents. We are an eclectic, but tight group. And our circle is not closed. It is very welcoming. We welcome all Skyhawk fans to our tailgate and cheering section.

Most tailgates include football fans from alumni years and underclassmen parents. We bring our own parents, aunts, and neighbors. All to cheer on our Skyhawk football team. Victories, like last night, many times lead to post-game celebrations with our extended Skyhawk family.

Family. It warms my heart to watch my other boys support their brother on the field. Although the twenty year-old (and thirteen year-old) have much going on in their busy lives, they don't miss Ben's games. They are his biggest fans. The huge Lane extended family pack the stadium each week to watch Ben play. My dad follows the games on-line in Arizona. And best of all, Ben appreciates all their support. Just what a mother wants. A grateful son.

The school. Skutt is an awesome school. It has a great sense of community and support that spreads over all sports, grades and academics. My first experience as a Skyhawk football fan was years before Zach stepped foot into high school. My brother-in-law coached football at Skutt. Scott, the boys and I were avid fans. We felt like the school carried the small town feel that we were accustomed to. We loved it and were welcomed as part of the Skyhawk community; even without a child in the school.

The boys. These kids are great. I have watched most of them grow up together. Ben has played football alongside Joe since second grade. Sam entered our lives the beginning of Ben's freshman year. He has been nothing short of an extension of the family since. Both he and Austin have gone with us on family vacations and are in many of the pictures that have captured Ben's years at Skutt.

Five of the boys have gone to school with Ben since kindergarten. As their parents, we have enjoyed and survived our grade school years together with the many birthday parties, sleep overs, and sporting events. Several of us have other kids in the same grade. I look forward to enjoying Skyhawk games four years from now with these same parents.

The sense of community runs long and deep. And it isn't just with those who have been together forever. Just this year I have fostered relationships with parents whom I hadn't know well before. I wondered last night how I went through three years at Skutt without knowing these awesome parents. We now share life together as though there was never a day that we didn't know each other.

We don't know what tomorrow will bring for our football players. What next week, next month, next year will look like for our boys is both a mystery and a hope. Our enjoyment of last night's win will be short-lived as they begin preparations for playoffs next week. The boys will keep working hard. And the coaches will continue to focus them on one game at a time as they go for their ultimate goal of playing under the championship lights of Memorial Stadium.

As for today, we football parents will just encourage them and cheer them on as their biggest fans; bonding together and enjoying the ride. This is the easy job. No doubt that this Skyhawk contingent will  continue to enjoy the most simple pleasures in life; good people, a great school, family, and some amazing young men just enjoying a little game called football.    

Skutt - district champs with 24-14 win over previous year state champs, Gross HS

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 21, 2013: Tator Tot Casserole

A friend's version of TTC (maybe I should have added the beer)
I just read a Facebook post from a young friend who made tator tot casserole. It brought back memories. Good memories for me, but not so much for my kids.

Growing up, this dish was a staple. I learned how to perfect this casserole at a young age and made it frequently. Beef pressed on the bottom. French style green beans next. Cream of mushroom soup for flavorful liquid (on top of meat fat that bakes in). And then carefully placed tator tots; all in perfect rows. Tween cooking heaven.

At my grandparent's farm this was a frequent dish of mine when I was in charge of meals. My gold standards were spaghetti, broiled hamburgers, hot dogs, and tator tot casserole. I clearly remember the week that my grandma was in the hospital with hip surgery. We all chipped in the fill in for her absence. My job was cooking the meals.

I have always enjoyed cooking. At age twelve, I made an extensive grocery list for my week of planned meals which included my gold standards. For my week as farm chef, I had at least three meals that included hot dogs; chili dogs, cheese filled hot dogs, beans and dogs. My brother, whose job was farm work, was not pleased with the lack of variety in our menu.

"Can you stop with the hot dogs??" he barked at me after our #3 hot dog meal.

This was the one time I heard me grandpa raise his voice. And it was in my defense.

"Sandy has worked very hard to make every meal for us this week. You need to be grateful that you have a meal in front of you and thank her!"

Maybe that's why he was so complimentary of my next meal of tator tot casserole. I deemed this dish a clear winner. But in retrospect, my judgment might have been jaded.

On a cool fall night as a grown-up and cooking mom, I decided to surprise my own kids with this delectable dish from my childhood. Like chicken fingers and hot dogs, I thought every kid loved tator tot casserole. I quickly found this not to be the case.

As I presented my toasted tot dish on the table, the kids gasped.

"What is that? And why are there mushy beans on the bottom?" whined an eight-year-old Zach.

"Yuck!" was the response of five-year-old Ben.

And Grant, the toddler, just yelled "No!" I blamed the influence of his brothers.

Taken aback by their response, I responded like any good mother would. I threatened them. They would all try it or they would go hungry.

Not a single kid would take a nibble. They chose hungry.

After higher degrees of threats, I was finally mad and insulted. I don't remember what incredibly huge punishment I threw at them, but it must have been bad. Finally, they each took a bite. Two of the three were in tears.

Ben proceeded to throw up on his plate. Grant, seeing Ben throw up, reacted by throwing up in his high chair. Zach just cried with an open mouth full of chewed up tator tot casserole; exposed for all to see.

Exasperated, I sent them to their rooms and looked at the disaster left behind. Before me was the uneaten dish of tator tot casserole. I wasn't going to let their shenanigans ruin my meal. Ignoring the mess, I quietly enjoyed my plate of food. In their defense, it wasn't as good as I remembered.

To this day, all three boys will tell their version of the "tator tot casserole" incident. Their story gets better with each time they tell it. Purportedly my head was spinning like a mad woman with words like "YOU WILL EAT IT!" and the presentation of food was similar to a dish of slime.

Where was my grandpa when I needed him to defend me? My kids have no clue how lucky they are. My cooking repertoire has expanded beyond my early years of hot dogs. That would have gotten old for them. Just ask my brother, Mark.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 22, 2013: Project Thomas Tank Engine

Did I ever mention that I wanted to be an art major? I was offered a scholarship to an art school and declined for the more reliable accounting route (Sandy's version). An art school offered me a small scholarship comparative to their outrageous tuition in an attempt to lure a bright-eyed seventeen year old to their school (Dad's version).

"What are you going to do with an art major?" was my dad's common question my senior year.

How could he not understand that I would draw and paint for a living? duh! Needless to say, after the intervention of a kind-hearted high school guidance counselor, I became an accountant.

Fast forward eight years. As a practicing accountant, my creative energy erupted under my new role; mom. And I subsequently was appointed the official Halloween designer and costumer to the Lane boys.

At age two, Zach was in awe and wonderment of everything Thomas the Tank Engine. Zach watched Thomas video tapes for hours while pushing the magnetic engines around the train track. Choosing Thomas as his Halloween costume felt nothing short of brilliant as I started designing my creation.

I opted to use boxes, felt material, and shiny paint to create the wearable Thomas the Tank Engine. After spending an entire day cutting and gluing boxes, I free-handed a completed felt-covered cardboard model. A hole was left at the top for Zach's toddler head with arm holes on the sides.

In an effort to make it comfortable for my cute tot, I added a thick blue ribbon to secure the box comfortably around his little body. I was thrilled with my final work of art as I sat on my living room floor covered in glue and paint, admiring my work.

I proclaim this photo "pride and ego"
The first Halloween party of the year was at my health club, Prairie Life Center. This annual fun fest always hit the calendar a few days before Halloween. It was perfect timing for Zach and I to strut our stuff in matching bib overalls and engineer hats.

I piled Zach into his car seat and drove with great anticipation. After a grand entrance and people inquiring on the unique costume I was carrying (no one had seen this replicated at any Target or specialty costume shop), I carefully placed the box over my mini-engineer.

To my complete shock and horror, he burst into tears while screaming "NO!!" I did what any good mother (who spent hours making the costume) would do. I took him into a corner and tried gently placing it on him again. Then I tried coaxing. Then begging, bribing, until finally resorting to threatening.

Nothing worked. He only screamed louder. Exasperated, I temporarily gave up and decided to let him play games for a while as he would "warm up" to the spectacular costume I had made for him.

As we walked into the decorated gym, I thought the next best step would be to let him hold and show off his Thomas to others. I was convinced that this would be the trick and get him to comply.

Zach didn't cry when I handed him the costume. Instead he looked me right in the eye and accepted my treasure. And then without giving it another thought, he grabbed my perfectly placed ribbon and started dragging my beautiful creation across the dirty gym floor. Within minutes he was running around the gym entertaining himself by whipping the box while tugging at the ribbon. He was nothing short of a two-year-old gone wild.

Exasperated, I gave up and resorted to picking out my favorite candy from his bag. A fail? I don't think so. The tank sat for years in our toy room and was whipped around by many kids. Some of the best treasures are those you can actually play with. Final proclamation: a creative, functioning win.

Zach does it his way

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 20, 2013: It's All What You Make of It

Sunday was a dreary day in Denver. Rain, cold, wind. Almost snow. We were moving at a slow pace and I was to catch a flight home to Omaha. I would rather hang with Garrett, watching the Broncos game, or sit in my own comfy living room with the warmth of my dog and fireplace. Instead I would be hanging with TSA.

After a gloomy drive to the airport, I received a text indicating my flight was delayed. As flight times typically wander back and forth from later, back to earlier; we decided to stick with the original drop off time. Airport delay time was anticipated.

I had a choice. Albeit, not a very big choice. But a choice, nonetheless. I could choose to be annoyed with my less than desirable situation or I could make the most of it. I chose the latter.

Note that I'm not pounding my chest or pointing out a superior quality. A good friend and mentor continues to remind me that happiness is a choice. Which would lead to the alternative presumption; that unhappiness is a choice as well.

I have learned over the years that being unhappy during uncontrollable situations is a colossal waste of time. Some of my best my interactions have happened while experiencing an equally crappy situation with someone sharing the same positive perspective.

Although I wasn't happy with the final Broncos outcome, I made many friends at the Denver airport as I sported my coveted Peyton Manning jersey. A delayed flight = a beer at the bar? Absolutely. I quickly found out that the guys squeezed in next to me were waiting for the same delayed flight. We could see our gate from the window in front of us, so our departure was planned to the minute.

This enabled me to enjoy my beer and gumbo while watching the incoming planes out of my left eye and the Broncos game out of my right. The interactions were enjoyable. My waitress was a kind, hard-working woman.

After leaving a good tip and a taking trip to the bathroom, I made some friends in the Southwest boarding line. Although I typically keep to myself in-flight, the elderly woman next to me wanted to talk. So I chatted with her and found that we had mutual friends in her hometown of Onawa.

The young man sitting next to her joined in our conversation of small talk. He reminded me of a business acquaintance. I instantly liked him. With two small kids at home, he shared with us the I-Pad app he used to teach his daughter the alphabet. And then he gladly took the free drink ticket I offered him.

Sixty-five minutes later we were "wheels down" in Omaha. Not a bad flight at all. Actually the entire evening was quite enjoyable. It's all what you make of it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 19, 2013: Back in Denver

The many faces of a day in Denver
It's been a while, but I'm back. On our drive from the airport, Garrett asked when I was here last. We went through our mental calendars and determined it was mid-August. Not like the old days when I was in Denver on a more frequent basis. But times and schedules change. Now Garrett is making the frequent flight to Omaha.

The next question that Garrett asked was whether I missed Denver. That’s a tough question. I love Denver. It's beautiful, the people are great, and it's a virtual playground for people like us who love the outdoors. But did I miss it? I couldn't honestly say that I did. This didn't make a lot of sense in my overly analytic brain, so I had to give my honest answer some additional thought.

After some brain-churning, I offered my simplistic explanation to Garrett. I don't miss places, I miss people. I miss relationships. I could go anywhere with Garrett and be happy because I'm with him. Going to Denver is just one of the many places that we enjoy together. I haven't historically had relationships here because I have never established a foundation in Denver. So (Garrett) don’t take my not missing Denver personally.

My personal definition of a foundation is relationship driven; through work, friends, kids’ activities, schools, church, neighbors. I don't have any of these in Denver. Thus my answer. I love the city, but don't necessarily miss it. Saying this out loud did make me long for more connections to this city by the Rockies. And as God always works, a couple of things played out to this favor.

Shortly after arrival, we went to view a property for sale. Garrett has been living in an apartment, waiting for a villa to come up for sale in his neighborhood of choice. The desired neighborhood is close to the foothills; on the fringe of town with all the wonderful outdoor amenities of living next to the Rockies. We rode our bikes from Garrett’s house to check out this prospective villa. And we liked it. A lot.

It backed to the golf course with tons of natural light shining in the many windows. The layout was ideal and basement unfinished, ready for Garrett’s specifications. I suddenly felt at home in this house. A little desk space in the kitchen won me over. The little nook looked out the east facing window. It had my name written all over it. My thoughtful spot.

After a discussion with the real estate agent, we decided that a bid would be put in. We wanted this villa. As Garrett and I continued our ride up Deer Creek, I envisioned paint colors and pot shelf designs. The rooms for the kids were solidified and a mental list developed on which cookbooks and ceramic baking dishes I would relocate to Denver.

I did everything I told myself not to do; I began calling this villa my second home. I started thinking of my words to describe this home. “Yes, we have a place in Denver too” as opposed to my typical response: “My boyfriend lives in Denver”.

Garrett’s previous house was always Garrett’s house. This new house would be a piece of me. And Garrett has given me full reign on decorating and space design. He has promised me a thoughtful spot. My very own.

By the time we finished our bike ride, we found out the house went under contract to someone other than us an hour before our showing. Although disappointed, we have avowed that God has another plan. And I now had a new hunger for a place of our own. The situation was not what we wanted, but it was fun to play house for a while; even if only for a quick bike ride.

God gave me another sign as we continued our evening. We joined a group of Garrett’s co-workers and their families for a dinner of Mexican followed by a hockey game. We had a ton of fun. And for the first time, I didn’t feel like Garrett’s girlfriend tagging along. There were new relationships; my friendships. Foundations being laid.

I think I’ll miss my Denver hockey friends when I go back to Omaha. And as for a new house in Denver……”We have a place in Denver” really has a good ring to it. 

October 18, 2013: Senior Night

Pre-game senior-athlete introductions
Friday night was one of a first and the beginning of a lot of lasts. Since our oldest didn't play sports his senior year, we have never been involved in senior night festivities. This special night under the lights was new to us; a first. There were introductions in front of the crowd and handshakes from the coach. It was very nice. I'm glad we were able to participate. With a great game and a win, it was a nice night for our senior, Ben.

On the way to the game, I read my e-mail giving the parent instructions on where and when to line up. Then it hit me. This was Ben's last home game. I hadn't thought about this until that moment in time. Ben really was a senior and this was just the start of a lot of lasts. Reality officially set in.

We have been so consumed in the hoopla of fall football, senior pictures, and senior privileges that I haven't had time to think about all the lasts. It is just starting. Next will be the last game and the last football banquet; followed by the last Christmas break and then a whirlwind spring.

The great part of being a senior mom, a football mom, is the other parents. As senior moms, we are all going through these steps together. Collectively we felt the same heart tug as we received a hug from our boys following their senior night introduction.

Although we celebrate our Skyhawk wins together in jubilation, our tight group of Skyhawk parents also celebrate the boys' small victories, on and off the field. These fine young men continue to impress us with their attitude, character, and comradery as a team.

As parents, we see senior events like these as lasts. For our seniors it really is the beginning of a series of firsts. The football field is just the start.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 17, 2013: The Happiness Factor

Date night conversation
Thursday night was date night. On this particular evening, Garrett and I chose sushi with a little wine for me and beer for him. As always, date night was our time to talk about anything and everything with no interruptions. No kids. No guests to entertain and no agenda. An open forum to enjoy each other's company.

We have solved many of life's problems out to dinner alone or on a long road trip. The topics vary and we never lack for conversation. Just as it should be.

Although we talked about many things on our most recent date, the topic that stuck with me was centered on happiness. What makes us happy? How do we gauge our own happiness? A recent article I read on the subject brought some good thoughts to our discussion.

I asked Garrett to tell me, at that moment his happiness factor. And then on a scale from one to ten, I asked him to estimate mine. The conversation that followed revolved around what impacted this factor. An honest conversation.

People are wired differently, so factors vary. But what holds true is that the things people think make them happy really don't. So often people will say they're a five on the happiness factor, but would be a nine IF...they had loads of money, a better job, companionship, a house on the beach, etc...

The reality is that waiting for the things that make you happy is really a farce. Things don't make you happy. People make you happy. Feelings make you happy. Acceptance of your circumstances or making positive change for the better; all high on the happiness factor. Typically the fancy boat, view to the mountains, or new exciting relationship are short-lived. It really is what you do with the great gifts you're given and knowing when you've been given a gift that is less transparent to the human eye.

Garrett ranked me an eight after my inquiry on my own happiness state. He was right. Typically I run between a seven and a nine. Rarely do I fall below this range and on a good day, I can hit a ten. Things that contributed to my momentary eight? Happy kids, meaningful companionship, balcony friends, healthy parents, feeling like I make a positive difference, financial stability, a lovable dog, a new challenge ahead of me.

Why not a nine? Jeans were a little tight, sleep a little sparse, behind on e-mails, and not completely on the same page with my boyfriend. All fixable. And tomorrow the list will be most likely be different, but just as long. Life is never perfect. It's what you make of it.

On our way home, I got a call from my parents. Dad had a medical procedure done and was updating me. Although I don't like to hear of my parent's pain, I was happy that they continue to be in good health and enjoying life. Dad went on to prove my thesis on the happiness factor without even knowing it.

When I asked how he and mom were doing outside of the procedure, I could feel the warmth in his voice. "We are so happy" he said. He went on to explain how he and Mom loved their days together. They walked, worked on projects, and went to garage sales. Their hobby of refurbishing and reselling old items brings them on frequent trips to the post office. Dad gleamed through the phone as he told me the people at the post office knew them on a first name basis. My parents enjoyed this stop. It was part of their daily routine and their happiness.

There are no glamorous palm trees or beaches in my parent's hometown of Kingman. They don't own a private jet or drive a fancy car. But they have a very high happiness factor.

I love my parents. Just thinking about them makes me happy. It's contagious. I can only hope that one day the people at the post office will greet me and know me by name. It is so much more fulfilling to enjoy the small things than waiting for happiness to come to me.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 15, 2013: Bottom Feeders or Dolphins?

Where do you swim?
I am reverting  backwards in time with this blog post. Last week, on the same day that we had a jubilant day with a wrecking ball and signed contracts, I got a disturbing e-mail that same night.

In the big picture, the e-mail was irrelevant. I tried to discount it with a response that would make my mother proud. I took the high road. But it still bothered me. Although the topic was borderline silly, the persistent anger from the woman sending it was both irrational and sad.

The tone took me back to some dark days I had myself. I could actually relate as I had been there; swimming in circles at the bottom of the ocean. A bottom feeder.

Let me regress. I am divorced. Going through the divorce was not easy. It was hard. People sympathized with me and initially, I gladly accepted the sympathy. The easy and feel-good way was to play victim. And I played it very well. For the short term, kind of like feeding a hungry heart with binge-eating, it felt good. But then just as quickly, it didn't feel so good. I had became a bottom feeder.

It took a really brave friend to tell me to knock it off. As they described to me my disposition of bottom feeder, it felt like a two-by-four to the head. Similar to those fish living at the bottom of the ocean, surviving off of each other's waste, that is where I was swimming. And there is much company at the bottom of the ocean. There are schools of fish circling in the dark, living off the crap left at the bottom.

My days as a bottom feeder were short-lived. I thank my friend for knocking some sense into me. God gives us all free will. Most of us hit hard times at some point in our lives and can choose to live in self-pity or rise above it. Wallowing with other bottom feeders is the easy way out.

The other choice is to swim to the top of the ocean and enjoy the sun and air; leaping like a dolphin. Once you make it to the top, you wonder why you ever wallowed at the bottom. At the end of the day, it's a choice. Free will.

It really does come down to free will. You can't pull someone to the top of the ocean without them wanting to go there. Forced, they will inevitably go back down. My hope is that this particular e-mail writer has a friend or family member to pull her to the top.

My personal takeaway is to follow the Serenity Prayer. Accept the things I cannot change, but have the courage to change the things I can. The best of friends and family are those who pull you up, not pull you down. For these awesome people in my life, I am forever grateful.  And in return, I need to continually to pay it forward. Which is a great thing...because the dolphins really are amazing.

October 16, 2013: A Little Throwback

The picture above makes me laugh. The first question that comes to mind; who took this picture? It had to be either me or my brothers, based on my father's expression. He was obviously giving direction. And we were obviously not following them very well.

Mom is trying to look like she comfortably fits in the chair; which she doesn't. Rebecca, although not ready for the picture either, pulls off a halfway attractive smile. And as for Dennis, all I can say about that seventies hair and wire glasses?

As you would expect, my mom made her dress. Note her dark pantyhose with white slingback sandals. Too bad we can't see the whole shoe. I remember my dad's plaid pants very well and that particular trip to Omaha to visit our Aunt Becky and Uncle Denny. The adults were leaving for dinner at Mr. C's.

It is difficult to imagine our photographic life before our camera phones. Back in the day, we would have to wait to develop our film and then sort out the rejects (i.e. the picture above). Now we simply delete and then retake, and retake, and retake until we have the perfect photo. After stumbling on a this old reject, I kind of miss the good old days. The bad pictures from yesterday can become a treasure for today.

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013: On Second Thought

Chicago Marathon 2005
My dear friend, Kristi, and I have run together for over fifteen years. About ten years ago, at the coaxing of our other running friend, Angy, we joined a larger group of more competitive runners. This new group was comprised of a wide range of ages, motivations for running, and eclectic personalities; a nice way of saying people who run at 5:30 each morning couldn't possibly be normal.

The varying runs and runners brought a new element of interest to Kristi and my routine and the change up was welcome. Rather than talks of kindergarten the potty-training, the runs quickly became all about logging in miles and tracking running paces. This was when running a marathon entered our radar screen and seemed like something we could actually accomplish.  Our logic was that we were logging in the training miles, so we should be up for running the distance.

Kristi and I toyed with the idea of a marathon, but always fell back on the fact that we weren't marathoners.  That was we them, not us. In all actuality it was probably a combination of being chicken and a bit lazy. That changed one night after a call from my cousin. Angelina was a college student in Chicago. In summers past, when she was nanny to my boys, Angelina ran with Kristi and I. Perhaps it was our soft spot to our sweet Angelina that created a "yes" response to her pleading question.

"Will you and Kristi please, please, please train and run the Chicago Marathon with me? That would be sooooo cool!  Please?"

Without running it by Kristi first, I said "yes". Kristi couldn't make it to Chicago that marathon weekend, but committed to run the Omaha Marathon and train together. Two marathons were placed on the calendar and Kristi and I were now part of the morning runner group who were training for something.

And then we ran, and we ran, and then we ran some more. We listened attentively to the other runner's training plans and past marathon experiences. We logged in miles until we could barely move and then we would plan the next run. Honestly, it was a bit like Groundhog Day. Kristi and I would beg people to join us on different legs of our training runs to entertain and tell us stories. My brother, Matt, would keep us company while riding his bike at our side. Other runners would pick up miles during our long 20+ mile runs.

Our first big event day arrived. Kristi tackled the hilly Omaha Marathon. She did it and her running comrades cheered her on to the finish line. An official marathoner.

Next it was my turn. I flew to the windy city for my big event, but with no Angelina to accompany me. She had an ankle injury and couldn't participate. Several from my running group had entered this marathon as well. They were seasoned marathoners with paces much quicker than my four hour goal. I was solo.

As with anything in life, a person can find a friend if they take the time with the right person. My new found running friend was a lady by the name of Dana. She too was running her first marathon. Dana had a little more motivation than me as her entire hometown in Illinois was monitoring her performance. She was the wife of a local pastor and a personal trainer at a gym when not raising her kids. A local radio station was following her; broadcasting her quest to run her first marathon in less than four hours. How about that for peer pressure?

Although we stuck together through mile fifteen, it was at this mile marker that I experienced side cramps, but somehow I rallied through.  Dana kept with the four hour pace runners and we parted ways. I did see in the final results that she clocked a final time of 3:58. No public humiliation for my new friend, Dana.

Angelina joined me for the last five miles. She really wanted to be there to support me since this was all her idea. By mile nineteen, I was not happy. Angelina was chatty and encouraging. I was crabby. In a moment of temporary insanity, I was mad at my sweet, smiling cousin. I remember asking her to talk about anything, but not to ask me any questions or expect an answer. Nice.

I now get the whole "hitting a wall" thing. The last five miles felt like the first twenty in total. But Angelina and I crossed the finish line hand in hand and in just over four hours. Angelina was beautiful and vibrant after completing her five miles. I was cross and looking like death warmed over.

As we were greeted by the barrage of volunteers lining the finish, Angelina was told over and over, "Oh my gosh, you look so good. You don't even look like you finished a marathon."  Angelina's response with her electric smile was simply, "Thanks!"  If I wasn't dead woman walking, I would have insisted she fess up that she was nineteen miles short. But I was too tired. Instead I ate my granola bar and sucked it up. The post-marathon festivities were fun and I enjoyed the euphoria of being able to say "I ran a marathon!"

Kristi and I earned our running badge of honor and needed to decide on our next step in the running world.  As we reviewed our adventure, we came to the conclusion that we were the first marathoners in history who actually gained weight during our training. Our conclusion was that we overcompensated on the eating once we thought we burned a gazillion calories. We also concluded that we really didn't like spending all of our free time running. Surprisingly we had other hobbies and interests outside of running.

The most simplistic way to describe our overall running motivation is that we like to be able to button our jeans. Since we didn't accomplish that with the marathon, we decided to move on to Plan B. No more marathons for Kristi and Sandy. The joy is that we can say we ran one. To the non-runners in the world, this is just as impressive as those who run them all the time. We earned the badge, but are officially retired from the sport of running marathons. Now back to working on buttoning those jeans.

Some coffee after marathon training

October 13, 2013: Chicago...a Run or a Walk in the Park?

We thought we would end our road trip with a quiet day in Chicago. We were wrong. 40,000 runners flocked the city to complete the 36th annual marathon. Note that this number doesn't count those who came as onlookers or volunteers. And we hadn't a clue when we booked our trip.

The tip came at the airport. As we waited for luggage, Garrett started up a conversation with a luggage attendant. The question posed was whether we were in town to run the marathon. Hmmmm... Obviously that was a bigger deal than the Husker game.

After contemplating how to best change our Sunday plans to accommodate this new found news, we chose to take the L into the city and park between the airport and Downtown. Thank-you to the luggage attendant. Our rerouted road trip worked out perfectly.

We made the two hour trek from West Layfayette and then after a short subway ride, we found ourselves in the heart of Chicago. And all while in the midst the mobs participating or enjoying the marathon. The atmosphere was electric. I ran this same marathon back in 2005. It quickly came back to me. The euphoria of this accomplishment was a feeling I will never forget.

Our crew went about our tourist day enjoying cheezburger, cheezburger, Pepsi, Pepsi at Billy Goats and walking Michigan Avenue. Grant found a pair of shoes at Nordstrom Rack and I bought a Blackhawk jersey (mom version). And then we chose to walk to the The Nike Store. As the workers cheered and danced as people entered, we quickly realized that this was a key marathon stop.

There was music and dancing on the bottom level and runners lined up to have their medals engraved at the top. Purple shirts that read "Chicago Marathon Finisher" were swung in the air as a group danced to "YMCA". We were in the middle of Marathon Party Central. And then something funny happened. I wanted in. For the first time since I finished this same race in 2005, I wanted to run a marathon again.

I wanted the finishers medal and I wanted to dance to "YMCA" in my finishers shirt. I wanted the bag of free goodies and a free warming towel at the finish. All only available to race participants. Today that wasn't me. I was just an onlooker. To my own shock, I actually felt a bit of the marathon bug again.

Back to reality. I am in the worse running shape since my one and only marathon. You can blame it on my ACL, but let's stick to facts. I really am in my worse running shape since 2005. That being said, I bought a fancy new sports bra in bright turquoise and some spiffy new running leggings. Nike, of course. Tomorrow is a new day and barring rain; I will run with my favorite gal pals in the morning. And the marathon is a whole year away. Hmmmm. We shall see...

A view of the runners from out the subway window

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October 12, 2013: A Day in the Red

Split alliances
Saturday was a good day. Better for the Lane's than the Brucker boys. The Lane's were part of the Big Red contingent. Garrett and Jake were pulling for the Boilermakers. Lily was neutral. It was definitely a day in the red.

We will give Garrett a bye since he is a Purdue alum. Jake gets the bye simply because he belongs to Garrett. But regardless of the score, it was fun to take in an away game. Purdue and Nebraska had last played each other in 1958. The Purdue fans were very nice and the campus was beautiful. Garrett played a great tour guide.

Although we packed rain ponchos and were slightly overdressed, we welcomed the sunny skies and warm temperature. As expected we ran into familiar faces among the Husker fans. A running joke continued as I eyed my neighbors sitting five rows in front of us. We live in the same circle, but see each other more often outside of Omaha. Within the last year, we have randomly ran into each other at the Iowa game, skiing in Colorado, and now at the Purdue game.

Trips to the campus book store and student union produced a logo football, jersey, and sweatpants; all in Boiler black and gold. The football was in constant motion as we strolled along campus and to the game. Lily joined in, always a good sport although the only girl among boys. I love having Lily with us. She is a dream for a teenage girl; extremely low maintenance, goes with the flow, and avoids drama. A girl after my own heart. And she's fun.

Day two of our whirlwind tour of Indiana and Illinois ended with dinner out with Garrett's college roommate and his wife. It was the same steakhouse that Pat and Garrett went to for fraternity formals back in their college days. Garrett reflected this morning that it was thirty years ago that he started his college journey.

Fast forward a very fast thirty years and Garrett is now discussing with his college roommate the college plans of their own children. Other topics included diminishing hair, plans for life after school-aged kids, and a trip to bring their families together again.

Not a good day for the Purdue football team, but it sure was a great day for us to enjoy our time in Layfayette. The sea of red took over the stadium and the town, and were welcomed with open arms. It must be a Midwestern thing. We look forward to returning the favor in Lincoln.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October 11, 2013: Indiana Road Trip

Kids enjoying dinner by the fire
Although we did enjoy a road trip through Indiana, we technically started by flying into Chicago. We are enjoying a long weekend centered around some Nebraska football. The location is perfect for us to pack our three day weekend with family and fun.

Yesterday Garrett and I flew out from our respective cities, with our respective kids (a partial list), and met in Chicago. Our combined crew of six hit the ground running. With a short window of time in Chicago, we chose to tour the Sears Tower. The wait was long, but the view was stunning.

Lunch followed with delicious deep dish Giordano's pizza. We waited, but the caloric-filled treat was well worth it. Chicago was new to the Brucker kids, so we needed to hit the hot spots in the limited time we had.

But the jewel of the day was our trip to Indiana. Garrett's dad, Larry, lives in the cozy little town of Monterey, Indiana. We had the pleasure of visiting and enjoying his lovely abode. Our road trip was less than two hours with rural scenery much like Nebraska. It was just as good road trip are; scenic and not too terribly long.

Our time in Monterey was way too brief, but we enjoyed every minute. The kids threw the football outside for most of the night with no worries on the neighboring cemetery. Larry showed off his gun collection and gunsmith equipment. The boys were disappointed there wasn't enough time to go squirrel hunting.

Dinner was off the grill with homemade apple pie and baked beans with bacon. Larry and my beverage of choice was his homemade wine. The piano was played and a new lap top computer installed by Garrett. A good night. We ended it with some good conversation around the fire pit.

It amazes me how our busy lives take over and time is not proper allocated for visits like these. It has been three years since Garrett and my last visit to Monterey. It shouldn't take a Nebraska football game to get us there. So noted. I am already planning our next trip...

Grandpa Larry's apple pie

Friday, October 11, 2013

October 10, 2013: A Cookie Fail

Kathy and I went to Les Mis last night. It was exceptional. Our night out began with Happy Hour at Aksarben Village and ended at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

In anticipation of the long production, we purchased drinks and a snack. Our snack of choice was a colorfully decorated sugar cookie. As Kathy prompted me to take the first bite, I hesitated. My fear of colored frosting haunted me. I had forgotten about my epic cookie fail many years ago. Until last night.

Many moons ago, my neighbors invited our family to their annual pool party. My parents were in town and were invited to tag along as well. Carol, the hostess, knows how to put on a party. Not only is the food and drink exceptional, the display of these edible items are worthy of Martha Stewart Living.

When asked to bring a dessert, I took it as a challenge to bring an item up to Carol's high standards. I wanted something that would visually add to the glory of her dessert table. After scavenging through all my best seasonal cooking magazines, I found a pictorial recipe for frosted sugar cookies.

The cookies were shaped and decorated like little beach towels. They were adorable. I burst with pride visualizing myself showing up in Carol's kitchen with these works of sugar art. No doubt that I would be the only one bringing beach towel cookies.

I spent the afternoon baking the cookies to light brown perfection and then painstakingly decorating each one in every color and design I could come up with. They were an art masterpiece. I was pleased.

When party time arrived, Mom and I carefully carried my prized creations into Carol's home. As expected, everyone ewed and ahhed over my unique cookies. And then a guest took the first bite. My pride quickly turned into panic as the entire inside of her mouth turned black. Her tongue, lips, gums, teeth; all black as night. And she hadn't a clue. She just kept raving about the flavor and look of my cookie.

Mom and I looked at each other in complete disbelief. What went wrong? We then noticed another lady with a completely red mouth and tongue. Carol's guests were being dyed and marked by my cookies.

With no time for words, we had to act fast. Our nonverbal panic was evident to each other. As I directed attention to the appetizer table, Mom quickly and quietly removed the stain-filled cookies. By the time I nudged the group outside to admire the pool and get drinks, everyone had forgotten about my cookies. Theie removal and absence went unnoticed.

No one spoke of the black and red mouth stains. I am hopeful that their drinks quickly washed the coloring away before blame could be placed.

When we returned home, the garbage gave away the ending to this story. My beautiful cookies were heaped in a pile in the garage can. Mom swept them out of Carol's house and put them promptly in the trash. After further investigation, we found that I was using pure dye for the detail frosting designs. The colored paste in the tubes was meant to be added to frosting for color, not squeezed directly on the cookies. Fail.

I don't think I can ever bite into a cookie again without fear of a black mouth. And as for Carol's party this year, I brought chips and salsa.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October 8, 2013: A Dog's Life

My assisted selfie of camera-shy Cookie
I have a confession. I've never really understood the dog-lover thing. A friend once told me there are three types of animal people in the world; those with a capital "A", those with a lower case "a", and those with no "a". I thought I clearly fell in the lower case category. My dog was second behind my kids, but I still loved him. Over the years, I have known many capital "A's" and many with no "a". I was a lower case.

When Harry died, I was very sad. He was a sweet little dog and we missed him dearly. Although Harry did love me back, he equally loved the other people in his life. Harry was everyone's dog and he was happy with that position. And lower case "a", me, was happy with that too.

And then came Cookie. Cookie is my step-dog. She moved to Omaha a month ago. Those who have spent time with Cookie and Garrett know that there is a huge affection between owner and pet. There is no doubt that Cookie is Garrett's dog. Garrett is a capital "A" animal person

Four years ago when I came in the picture, Cookie warmed up to me quickly. She is a smart dog and knew I was around for the long haul. We girls needed to stick together. Garrett remained numero uno in her doggy eyes. I was cordially tolerated.

Others weren't as lucky. Cookie is very picky in her alliances. A growl or light nip is her typical response to being picked up or petted by someone other than Garrett. I would observe Cookie and would at times scratch my head on Garrett's abundant love for this seemingly unfriendly dog. She was so unlike my experience with Harry, my overly friendly dog.

Fast forward to my month as primary caretaker of Cookie. I now get it. I'm hooked. I find myself worrying about her well-being during the day. I many times put her walks and rides in my car ahead of my own agenda. I love being greeted by this little fur ball when I get home from work and can't imagine being in a lonely bed at night without her.

So what changed, you ask? After careful analysis, I now better get the capital "A" animal thing. All things that had previously caused me to raise an eyebrow as I observed Garrett with his dog, I was now doing. And I was loving it.  

With Cookie, it's really simple. She adores her primary caretaker. When Garrett is absent, I fill that role. And Cookie fills me with her unconditional doggy love. We live our lives in an animal/human harmony that has now become a way of life for me while filling my heart. I love this cute little dog. And like Garrett, I find myself oblivious to Cookie's distaste for those outside our tight circle of two.

A step-dog is a good thing. Cookie likes Omaha; my yard, my house, and even my cat. And I like having her here. But no worries, Garrett Brucker. When you are in town, I will step aside and let you and Cookie do your thing. I get the capital "A" animal thing.

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7, 2013: Integrity

The word for the day is integrity. It has come up several times today; in my words, on my mind and in a motivational e-mail I received. Thus I have proclaimed it the word for the day. The exert below is from my friend's daily post:

"The definition of integrity - Your words and your life should match up. What we do in the dark comes into the light. We need to be the same person no matter where you are.There aren't a lot of people that fit that definition, at least not 100% of the time. But it is so important. People are always watching. They notice when our actions do not align with our words. It is not missed. We have to make sure we are people of integrity all the time.  You have to earn a title. People will respect you if you are consistent and honest."

Not only do we need to carry ourselves in this manner, but we should expect the same of those who circle around us. It's easy to say we only work with people of integrity; in our jobs and with those we do business. But far too often it's just as easy to look the other way. Too easy to make excuses for them; "just a temporary lapse of judgment" "she has a lot going on in her life"

Go back to the definition. It is pretty cut and dry. To err is human. But to own it, acknowledge it, and then strive for honesty in action is admirable.

I was recently asked which leader I most admire, past or present. Although I felt compelled to name a powerful CEO like Steve Jobs or President like JFK; that wasn't my pick. My favored leader is Mother Teresa. She was the pinnacle of integrity, honesty, and leading people by lifting them up. Her work brought out the best in all who followed her or worked by her side; a true servant leader.

This is a lot of blah, blah, blah for a Monday. Which begs the question, am I getting soft in my old age? No, I don't think so. Just a heck of a lot smarter.

(Lastly, if all goes well, the word tomorrow will be resilience. More to come on that:))
"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October 6, 2013: Hat Trick

A stylin' Kathy with Gpa and Gma
Not too long ago, my friends and I were showing off our hats at Jazz on the Green. We were feeling pretty styling; almost cutting edge. And then a trip down Memory Lane via Kathy's extensive photo library reminded me that there were many, many great hat-wearers before us. My aunts' proud head toppers were at the front of the pack.

Case in point is my Aunt Kathy. Just look at her pull off that look in the picture above. Not only is she rocking the hat, but how about the matching red shoes and thick classic tie? The plaid shirt with leather jacket are the perfect finish. And all back in the seventies. 2013 has nothing on Kathy.

And I would be remiss not to point out my grandpa's leisure suit and grandma's knotted scarf and open-toed white sandals. It appears that they're on their way to a bridal shower based on the wrapped gift Grandma is holding. The picture was taken on the front steps to the farm.

Next on the hat-topper Hall of Fame is my Aunt Joan. Not only was her willowy figure and long hair perfect for the floppy bridal hat, but I don't believe she is wearing a bra. The seventies strike again. None of us tried that at Jazz on the Green.

Cousin Carol Leach will have to explain their conversation and broad smiles. No doubt our fashion through the years captured with film and disposable bulbs will keep giving us all smiles.

October 5, 2013: Best Seat in the House

Watching a Husker win with my furry friends
I really like my seats at Memorial Stadium. We sit on the east side between the band and team parents. About sixteen seats up, the boys like the great view to the field. Although I enjoy this as well, I also like to watch the players on the sideline and all the hoopla that happens near the field.

Late in the week we chose to sell our tickets and watch from home. Between Grant's morning football game and Ben's homecoming, it felt like a good decision. But there is always some reservation about missing out in the live venue of Memorial Stadium. Watching Kenny Bell's one-handed catch was an after-the-fact reminder of this.

But all is good. No regrets. Based on the picture above, you can conclude that the comforts of my home were enjoyed by all. Kenny Bell looked just as good on my big screen. And nap time between the great plays was divine. My furry friends were happy and the Husker win; just as good.

We started our day with Grant's 8:00 football game at South High. Although very cold and a loss; having time to grab a big breakfast at Louie M's was a good call. Rather than finding Grant a ride home while Garrett and I rushed to Lincoln, we instead enjoyed some good local grub and a relaxed ride home.

Full from our breakfast of homemade sausages, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast burrito; we meandered our way home. Instead of our typical pre-game greeting of a sea of Big Red tailgates and 90,000 of our favorite fans, we were greeted by the warm lull of my house.

Our dog and cat, Cookie and Abby, awaited. Ben was napping; nursing his injury and preparing for a long homecoming night. Grant went straight for the basement. With his own big screen, he could toggle between video games and the game on TV.

As for Garrett and I; Garrett picked his spot at the end of the couch with computer in hand. I opted to relax my full stomach and take a little afternoon nap. Thank goodness for TV replays. If I missed it live, I could catch it later.

My little spot at the end of the couch really was the best seat in the house. For today, it was better than Memorial's East Stadium. As for next week, no couch or home for us. we're taking the kids to Purdue for Nebraska's away game. I'm glad I'll be rested up.

Grant enjoying his post-game biscuits and gravy

Saturday, October 5, 2013

October 4, 2013: Acromioclavicular Separation

Ben went on the injured list last night. After a trip to Lakeside Hospital and an x-ray, it was determined that he had an AC separation. Although Ben's explanation assured me that it wasn't serious, it didn't give me the pictorial or explanation of body parts affected. So I have since Googled it. For those interested, Wikipedia came through with the explanation below.

It sounds like Ben will be out one game, but back on the field in a couple of weeks. Last night I received a number of texts inquiring on Ben's well-being. One friend commented that this was "part of the footballing badge of honor". True story. For Ben this badge was first earned many years ago. This wasn't his first rodeo.

In 2008, Ben was playing football in the University of Nebraska Pavilion before the Kansas game. This was the standard pre-game venue for my boys and their friends. It was a pick-up football game before the big "real" game.

On this occasion Zach and his buddies were playing on the same team as Zach's little brother. With a dare, the big boys convinced twelve year-old Ben to take down the largest opponent on the other side of the imaginary turf line.

Folklore has it that Ben went after him with gusty and tried to "table tackle" this large, older boy. Ben got him down, but the boy fell on top of Ben's shoulder as Ben lay sideways. The rest of the story includes a broken collar bone and a trip to the Lincoln ER.

Although white as a ghost, Ben insisted on sitting through the NU game in a sling. Nebraska did win that game; as did Skutt last night. Time to get Ben's acromioclavicular back to normal position. The good news; this is a much quicker recovery than the broken collar bone.

Per Wikipedia:
A separated shoulder (also known as acromioclavicular separation, AC joint separation, AC separation), is a common injury to the acromioclavicular joint. This is not to be confused with shoulder dislocation. The AC joint is located at the distal end of the clavicle, known as the acromial end, and attaches to the acromion of the scapula. Although this is part of the shoulder, a dislocation and a separation are completely different. Acromioclavicular separation occurs as a result of a downward force being applied to the superior part of the acromion, either by something striking the top of the acromion or by falling directly on it. The injury is more likely to occur if the shoulder is struck with the hand outstretched.

Friday, October 4, 2013

October 3, 2013: A Little Family History

I asked my mom if I could share an old family picture and accompanying note that she had shared with me. Mom is our family historian extraordinaire. Her attention to detail and CSI skills on unearthing an unfamiliar face in a photo or date of event is the best, bar none.

This photo of my grandmother, Mrs. Adam (Mary) Pick, and her children was taken Sept 1943 in Iowa.  Wearing the army uniform is my father, Elmer, 27 years old.

In 1922 at the age of 55 my grandfather Adam had a stroke & died leaving Grandma Pick with 11 of her 12 children still at home on the farm in Alton IA.  Elmer, my father and the youngest, was 6 years old that year. 

Catholicism runs deep in the Pick family beginning many generations ago in Germany.  In America, Grandma Pick was blessed with a brother, Fr. Henry Rolfes, two sons, four daughters and one grandson, Fr. Anthony Pick, all of whom joined the Franciscan order as priests and nuns.

Every one of Grandma Pick’s 12 children & 39 grandchildren attended Catholic schools; as adults, many settled in predominately Catholic communities. Most social activities, and there were many, revolved around church and school.

Courtesy of Mary (Pick) Wagner