Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28, 2014: The First Son

A feast with the oldest child
I do have an oldest child. An older brother to Ben and to Grant. That would be Zachary Scott; the first born.

I don't blog as much about him. Not intentional, just out of sight sometimes means out of mind. And Zach is perfectly fine with that. Where Ben is a peacock, Zach is very comfortable flying below radar. Always quick with wit and never one to miss a party, but also not wanting to be the center of attention.

Zach has a milestone coming up. His Big 2-1 is this Wednesday. True to his reliable 20 year old self, he came over to help me out tonight. After work, he ran his youngest brother to an orthodontist appointment and then shopping for confirmation attire. Following an impressive mow job on my overgrown grass, I treated Zach to dinner and a tank of gas.

Tonight we dined on pizza and wings while watching the hockey playoff games at Oscar's. As a well-schooled mom of boys, I've got this venue licked. Two days shy of 21, Zach stuck to his Diet Coke while I enjoyed my Blue Moon with hockey brawls illuminating in the background.

I reminded Zach of his age of 20 years and 363 days. Two days short of enjoying a beer. Did he wish he could be enjoying a beer, was my question. His deadpan answer was, not with his mom.

Hmmmmm...fair enough.

On St. Patrick's Day, Zach met his brothers and me for a dinner at the Outback. With an April birthday, Zach is one of the last of his group of friends to turn 21. As his friends text him on their Patty's Day shenanigans, Zach sat next to me in his green Irish soccer jersey.

"I bet your friends are jealous that you're spending St. Patty's Day with your mom!" I kidded my underage oldest.

Zach just stared at me, finding no humor in my obvious comment.

Tonight I asked Zach if Garrett and I could join him for a quick birthday celebration on Wednesday. With a pause and some dialogue on previous plans made, I deduced that Zach has it covered. He did offer a window of 4:00 - 5:00 if we wanted to stop over. Maybe.

One more month in Omaha and then Zach will move to the big city of Denver. I am very excited for this first born child of mine. A new journey for a newly minted 21 year-old. And based on the conversation between wings and the hockey brawls, the enthusiasm is genuine.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

April 24, 2014: Confessions


I have a confession to make. But before the confession, I need to preface the setting of my declaration.

Tonight was date night. With date night, typically comes margaritas. And with our Thursday night margaritas, we are almost always at our favorite hang out, Roja. And at our favorite hang out, we typically run into people we know.

Tonight was no exception.

Walking out of Roja, we ran into Ben's previous girlfriend's mother. It was nice to see her, as she and I broke bread on many occasions over our children's three year courtship. She commented on the positive feedback she heard on Ben's Senior Studies presentation. And then she noted a comment from her daughter on omission of Ben's family in support of his very important presentation.

I had no rebuttal or excuses. There was no doubt I wasn't there. And with no good reason.

I went on to explain that Ben didn't want me there. He and I discussed and decided it best that I not go as I would be too nervous.

"Mom, you'll be nervous and that will make me nervous. I don't think you should come." was Ben's rationale on my potential attendance. I couldn't disagree. Guilty as charged.

You see, I have a track record.

Confession time.

For all the glorious pictures I posted and shared on my son's State Football Championship win last fall and with all the comments and kind notes that poured in...

The reality is that I only watched less than half the game. Yep, true story.

I was a nervous wreck and convinced myself that I personally held bad karma in the stands. So I banished myself to the concession area and the public restrooms. Yes, I literally spent an entire quarter in a bathroom in Memorial Stadium, sick to my stomach.

Ben had a big interception in the first quarter of the game. I found out via text from Garrett in Denver while I sat with eyes closed in a bathroom stall. Garrett was appalled that I was missing out.

"Get out of the bathroom and watch the game!!!!" was his text back to me.

But I couldn't do it. I would mess up the karma. So I hung out with the concession people and spent a considerable amount of time in the public restrooms. Until the lead was enough that I felt it was safe. Only then did I join the Skutt section in the stands. And then we won.

You are welcome, Skutt Catholic, for my contribution to the good karma to the game. <whew>

Ironically, little makes me personally nervous in life situations. That is, when they involve myself. The last time I remember having butterflies in relation to my own achievements were the seconds before the gun went off before the the start of 4 X 440 relay, my senior year of high school. I was the third leg.

Fast forward, twenty years later, and my boys' events bring me to my knees. A true confession. And I really don't know what to say. I would hope that I would get better, but I doubt it. I am sure I will have nerves on their first day at work at their first real job and feel the butterflies as they walk down the aisle on their wedding day. I am at a loss on how to make this feeling go away.

Maybe the win is just to show up and get my butt out of the bathroom.

Margaritas bring confessions. There you have it. Today is a new day and I will use it as self-discovery in knowing that the championship game would have been better watched from the stands. Lesson learned. I will try harder next time.....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 22, 2014: Good Planning?

The flowers of April
I have always gloated on the fact that I have three sons with April birthdays. When proudly slipping this fact into conversation, I wait for the bite. The question I want to be asked.

"All three in April? Really??" is the desired response.

My standard line back..."Yes, I call that good tax planning."

The tax planning I refer to is the 4/15 tax deadline that has loomed on my annual calendar for the last twenty-two years. My long-standing occupation was public accounting.

After a pause, my next scripted comment was to explain how Grant defied tax planning logic with a 4/14 birthday. Zach and Ben, on the other hand, were nicely aligned with 4/30 and 4/29 milestones. Both born on their due dates. The first by chance and the second with some medical assistance.

As a forever planner, I was originally smitten with the news of a 4/27 due date with baby #3. I had visions of group birthday parties and future adult celebrations with exotic destinations for the trio of back-to-back birthdays. What better way to finish tax season and enjoy life, was my rationale. A perfect plan.

I soon learned that I can't plan everything. In the case of Grant, I couldn't plan my obstetrician's vacation schedule.

At my eight month office visit, my OB announced that he was leaving for a three week vacation to Jamaica, starting 4/15. My birthing choices were to be delivered by another physician, wait until he got back, or get induced on 4/14. I chose #3. As other moms of equal mind can attest, there clearly was no other choice out of the options presented.

So Grant is a 4/14 b-day. And for twelve tax seasons, I juggled my tax d-day with glorifying my child's special b-day. In retrospect, it was not good planning on my part. Additionally, I didn't consider the Easter Sunday factor. Many years I was simultaneously ordering a specially designed birthday cake and sending invites to toddler moms while planning Easter baskets; all while working 60 hour a week to make the tax deadline.

As for my 4/29 and 4/30 boys, I would tell you they would have preferred to have birthdays more spread apart. Saying yes to back-to-back over-nighters with gobs of hyper boys was enough to drive us to the loony bin.

But we did it, year after year, and we had fun. Not for the faint of heart.

Now we have hit the magical year of 2014 and I am challenging both my birth date planning as well as choice of birth years. As a bit of foreshadowing, there is a reason I haven't been blogging lately. The juggling of the calendar has reached the point of exhaustion. I am now asking myself, what was I thinking?

In a six week time period, we will have had Grant's golden 14th birthday, Ben's 18th b-day, Zach's big 21, Easter, Confirmation, 8th grade graduation, and Ben's high school graduation. We will conclude the festivities with a trip to Mexico in late May with Zach immediately packing up once we touch US ground again. He moves to Denver in early June to begin gunsmithing school and a new leg in his life journey.

<breathe>

Time to interject some perspective.

It is April. Birthday month at the Lane house. A lovely month and actually, a great month to have babies. The tulips show their beautiful color with fragrant trees blooming. Spring is all around us.

With every passing spring day, I am reminded of my soft, tiny newborns. Rocking them by a cracked window while enjoy the quiet reminders of nature's gifts. This is my memory of Aprils past. And that is what I call good planning. A memory and a moment stamped in time.

With all of the continued chaos of the April and May calendars, I will be sure to slow down and enjoy the tulips. A good month indeed.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 13, 2014: Turbulence

Me with Baby Ben and Cousin Gina
Last night I almost boarded the wrong flight. It wouldn't have been the end of the world as the unintended flight was to sunny California. A pleasing thought, as I felt the cold Denver wind whip through the open door of Gate 29.

I was supposed to be at Gate 30. The simple mistake was uncovered as I stood in the wrong line while perusing the boarding passes of those around me. I eyed an identical B34 boarding pass in the hands of a woman next to me.

"How do we have the same number?" I asked the other B34 girl.

"I was wondering the same thing," was her puzzled reply.

After a comparison of paper boarding passes, she quickly noticed the discrepancy. She was going to Orange County while I was to go to Omaha. In unison, she and her fellow B-boarders directed me to the gate next door.

<whew> A close call.

As I gingerly found my correct spot in the B34 slot of Gate 30, I had a flashback to a day long before TSA. A day with a more distressed outcome from a mistaken plane destination.

The date was late October 1996 and the place was Orlando, Florida. It was back in the carefree flying days when we would walk our loved ones right up to their gate. No metal detectors and no pre-boarding fuss existed. Terrorists had yet to rock our world. Clean and easy living.

Baby Benjamin James Lane was born in April of 1996. I was a young mom to infant, Ben, and three year-old, Zach. Life was simple with my biggest distractions being diaper bags and naps. I was juggling a career with a yearning to be an engaged mom.

When Baby Ben reached four months, I agreed to go on a business trip to Orlando. Fresh off of breast-feeding and just fitting back into my suits, I was ready for the break from babyland. It was reprieve from my typical day-to-day juggling act.

The trip was spectacular. The group I met was the usual suspects I had grown to love over my years as a healthcare consultant. We worked by day, growing in our knowledge, and danced by night on Paradise Island, the adult version of Disney fun. The days flew by. I was thrilled to enjoy daily conversations that didn't include choice of preferred baby food.

But by day three, I was done. I missed my family dearly. It was a well-deserved break, but mama was ready to go home. Dressed in my favorite khaki's and jean vest, I boarded my plane. I breathed a sigh as I took my seat and gazed out the window; anxiously awaiting toddler kisses and the warmth of a sleeping baby on my shoulder.

And then a nice lady tapped me on the shoulder.

"I believe you're in my seat," she told me.

Confused, we compared tickets. Quickly we concluded that I was in the right seat. But on the wrong day.

My flights were booked by our office manager in a day before on-line bookings. Although the typed itinerary showed the correct flight home, the ticket cleared showed a flight for the following day.

I was crushed. A mess. Where would I stay? When would I see my kids? I couldn't fathom another day away from home.

Grabbing my bag, I walked off the plane. By the time I located the crew by the gate entry, I was in tears. I pleaded with them on my predicament. I offered no explanation for emergency other than I wanted to see my kids.

With tears streaming down my cheeks at record pace, the airline crew found an available flight with another airline. It was unknown if there was a seat available as the computer indicated a standby status only. Their advice to me was run across the vast airport and plead my case to the other airline employees in the same manner I did to them. In other words; cry and beg.

"Good luck!" they yelled as I tore off with my pull bag bouncing behind me. I ran like the wind and cried like a baby. I am sure people thought there was a family emergency creating my fragility. In reality, my maternal hormones played a big part in my created drama.

In a sweat and an emotional mess, I pleaded my case with airline #2 as instructed.

"I booked my flight for the wrong night...I miss my kids...I have a BABY at home...please let me go home, " I begged as the tears continued to flow freely.

A sympathetic United employee rushed me through the gate. Without saying a word or asking for my name or a boarding pass, she simply walked me to the door of the plane. I felt the glare of those I'm sure were on stand-by as I walked by them. I was the nameless woman with nothing to offer but a story.

Although a little later then expected, but I did make it home to my family that night.

As stringent airport security has now become a way of life, I often think back to this act of kindness paid to me. I was nothing more than a random woman allowed on a plane. If that plane were to have gone down, I would have been the unknown traveler. No record of note. A far change from the times we live in now.

I am now second guessing whether the airline employees would have even noticed my wrong boarding pass last night and allowed a mistaken trip to Orange County. A mystery traveler yet again? Maybe a worthy experiment....

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April 10, 2014: Cracking Myself Up

My brothers...Mark (far left) and Matt (far right)
Their best friend from childhood, Rich, is appropriately in the middle
Tonight was Date Night. A beautiful spring night in Omaha. Garrett and I enjoyed sushi and libations on the patio of Blue in Legacy. The conversation and stories were top notch.

Date nights are sacred to us. With time as our most valuable asset, we are bucky about budging for superseding plans. From boyfriend and girlfriend to husband and wife, Thursday nights are always booked. Locked and loaded.

This afternoon, prior to Date Night, I enjoyed some personal conversation with a business colleague. Somehow we got on the subject of dating. My friend commented on a man she had dated for a short period that seemed to have it all; looks, smarts, success. But he lacked something that my friend couldn't initially put her finger on. He was boring.

On paper he looked divine, but on a date; a complete bore. She missed the banter. The playful dance. There was no fun in their relationship.

I got what she was saying. Fun and smack talk are things I personally enjoy. And, frankly, this something I probably take for granted. A boring spouse? Wow. That would stink. A blessing I didn't know I had.

Garrett often reminds me of my sharp tongue. In turn, I have to remind myself not to go overboard. I can easily get caught up in the moment and let things snowball a bit.

Within our banter, I often win in our friendly war of words.

"You crack yourself up. Don't you?" is Garrett's common response as I grin full of pride after a score.

I can thank my brothers for my mouthy ways. If I were to receive the best of class award, my first thank-you acknowledgement would go to my big brothers. I may have been the youngest and only girl, but in the war of words, I could hold my own.

To this day, I really don't know if anyone actually gets my sense of humor. But since it is identical to my brothers, we collectively crack each other up when together.

As an example, in the picture above, they are recreating the opening to the show "My Three Sons". Most wouldn't have an idea what I'm talking about. To those fans of this 60's show, the keen eye would note the only missing character as the the cat on the floor.

As a side note, our childhood neighbor, Oka, was unavailable for this reenactment. He played the cat when they did this skit as children. We would roar with laughter as Oka laid on the floor between the three "brothers".

We cracked ourselves up.

So on this Sibling Day (who made that up and when???), I would like to first thank the Academy and then my brothers for their incredibly strong influence.

Thank-you for always making me laugh and never giving me a bye. What seemed like ruthlessness as a child has proven to be excellent training for my adult years. Banter is a good thing. But we will continue to remind ourselves of our mother's advice. All fun things are good....within moderation. xoxox



Sunday, April 6, 2014

April 6, 2014: A Reunion of Sorts

St Wenceslaus parking lot. Note Grant to the right, but no Ben.
Today I enjoyed a pleasant surprise. With a weekend calendar full of prom and lacrosse activities, I barely noticed the Sunday entry for a Senior mass at church. The event was a mere afterthought.

Ben, along with his former St. Wenceslaus classmates, joined together to celebrate mass and then enjoy a dinner in the school cafeteria. This was the first of their last hurrah's before they graduate.

The last time this crew was together in this cafeteria was their 8th grade dance. Four quick year later, they were reunited again. Parents included. Our awkward 8th graders are now all grown up. Instead of chaperoning a dance under bright florescent lights with group dancing, the parents caught up on life. Some I have seen frequently since that last 8th grade event and others, not at all.

As I enjoyed the hugs and company of the many kids and parents, my heart warmed. From stories of kindergarten programs gone wrong to antics during baseball games, we laughed and broke bread. Our discussions have changed drastically in these four years that have elapsed.

Rather than talk about how ready we were to move our kids on to high school, we instead shared college plans. Although there was anticipation in these conversations, there was also a bit a nostalgic sadness. We have come a long way since the day we sat in this same cafeteria for kindergarten round-up. A long, but happy journey.

It took two phone messages from the Ladies Guild before I was prompted to respond to this invite. I thought Ben wouldn't want to go since it was the day after his prom. With my lateness in responding, I initially decided to blow it off. Only as an afterthought did I decide to run it by Ben. Via text, he enthusiastically wanted to attend. An RSVP was sent and an entry to the calendar added.

Ben's enthusiasm carried through from the minute we walked into the church door. I didn't see Ben for most of the night. He reunited with his grade school buddies immediately. They sat together during mass and ate their pasta dinner side-by-side. Boys that separated as they went off to high school had come full circle and were back together again. Like the four year passage of time had never happened.

And then in true Ben fashion, we lost him. The kids gathered as the parents mobbed together snapping pictures on their iPhones. But I couldn't find Ben in the crowd of high schoolers. I scanned the crowd face by face. No Ben.

A phone call from my iPhone revealed Ben's whereabouts. A few of the kids left to walk to one of the boy's houses located in the neighborhood adjacent to the school. Just like old times.

"I'll be home later, Mom!" were the last words I heard from Ben with the muffle of boys' laughter in the background.

With a gorgeous sunset in the background, Garrett and I walked out of the church with only Grant at our side. As I watched my current 8th Grader slide down the handrail, I smiled with the thought of our return for his Senior reunion. I won't hesitate at this invite the next go-around.