Saturday, August 27, 2016

August 27, 2016: School Spirit

Friday night lights at Skutt Catholic Moylan Field
I love this time of year. Hoodies and fleece blankets are officially pulled out, ready for football games and bonfires that fill our weekend nights. Kids and parents have now nestled into a new school year. School spirit fills the air.

My youngest son is now a junior at Skutt Catholic High School. His road to completing high school is becoming shorter. Past the halfway point of his high school journey, the days tick away as my journey through these fun years is coming to an end as well.

My oldest, Zach, began as a fresh-faced freshman in the fall of 2007. Since then, not a year has passed that I haven't had a son walking through the halls of Skutt. Living one mile from the school, door to door, I have been blessed with a home brewing with constant activity as an extension of the school. From pasta feeds in the backyard to a meeting place for kids before and after school events, I have enjoyed every minute of the teenage chaos years.

2010 football game. View to the stands. Zach 3rd from left 
Times have changed over these nine years. Buzz cuts were big for the boys in 2007. A typical setting would be coming home to a line-up of Zach and his fellow football players shaving each other's heads in my front driveway. Using a  #2 or #3 clippers, we had the perfect set-up and equipment.

The boys of the 2016 football team opt for floppy mops of hair and prefer to wear headbands under their hot helmets. The more common occurrence is for me to ask 'whose headband?' while I am trying to match randomly left articles of clothing to the gaggle of boys in the basement.

There is no doubt I have enjoyed this journey. Not without teenage challenges and a little angst, but a wonderful ride as the mom.

This fall has been full of change for me from years past. With two short years left on my ten-year high school mom journey, I had an unexpected life change that has turned into an opportunity. I've become involved at the school at a level above bleacher mom and post-school activities monitor.

With a change in staff at Skutt Catholic last May, I was asked to fill in as interim VP of Finance. Coming off of taking four+ months off work and just starting to develop how I wanted to best fill my days, I had yet to commit to any new projects. The Skutt request was a surprise. After a few meetings and conversations, I deemed it a Godwink.

With my many years of accounting and financial consulting, along with all of my work as a board member of the school and trustee to an archdiocesan church, the duties of this position were an ideal fit to my skill set. With mission and people that fit perfectly with my values, I took on the role and enjoyed a summer full of Skutt.

With kids in and out of the weight room and summer projects taking place on the school grounds, I found enjoyment in seeing and being a part of a team whose mission is to faithfully educate a 720 student body.

Grant would often check in on me, before and after his time in the weight room. Along with his lunch runs for us over the summer, I got to experience the school with Grant at a whole different level. Now summer is over and I am still doing work at Skutt. Although I am now working on other projects for other companies as well, I will continue to help out at the school as long as they need me.

Being a part of the transition into the new school year has been glorious. With new alumni teachers excited to begin their next new journey at Skutt along with familiar staff faces from my first year there in 2007, the school is bustling with activity and excitement. A new year full of opportunity for everyone.

Yesterday I experienced a day rich in school spirit. With fall sports and activities in full force, my school e-mail was filled with reminders of pep band, cheerleading and fall athlete's activities for the day. And then there was a pep rally. I honestly don't think I have been at a high school pep rally since my cheerleader days back at Remsen St. Mary's.

It was spectacular. Although some things have changed dramatically from the 1980's; like my taping the rally on FaceBook Live and the mega video board streaming highlights. Other things are exactly the same. Cheers by grades with the freshman being sheepish and the seniors being rowdy. Cheerleaders with pom-poms. Teachers both monitoring the crowds and joining in on the sideline. The technology has changed, but school spirit is still alive and well.

My scapular from the 2013
winning season returns!
Grant took the field under the Friday night lights and was part of the first Skutt football win of the 2016 season. Game night did not disappoint. Seeing new and old faces in the crowd, Skutt school spirit among parents and fans in the bleachers was at a high.

And as I continue to sit smack in the middle of all of the excitement, I am enjoying my perfect spot.

So here we go. Two years left and counting. I am not sure what each day of this journey will bring, but I do know that I am going to be a happy participant every step of the way. Time to enjoy the ride...

Video of Skutt pep rally 8/26/16
Video link of pep rally above this picture

Saturday, August 20, 2016

August 20, 2016: Barefoot in the Summer

Enjoying a summer rain shower in bare feet
We went to the zoo yesterday. Although cloudy and overcast, the crowds were low and many of the exhibits new to us. Garrett had warned of impending rain throughout our excursion.

Our local weatherman was right. As we walked out of the Orangutan Forest, the sprinkles began.

Quickly moving on to our last stop, the indoor Kingdoms of the Night, the sprinkles turned into a light shower and our collective pace quickened as we sought shelter. Garrett guided us to the nearest Kingdom door, which was clearly marked 'Exit'.

Our entourage of me, sons (Ben and Jake), and cousin (Stefano) followed Garrett's lead toward the exit doors.

"We can't go in through the exit!" was my immediate response.

Garrett likely predicted my comment with his own response of questioning why I ALWAYS had to follow the rules. My further argument of how an exhibit walked through backwards would likely not have the same enjoyment of following protocol convinced our crew to take the additional walk in the rain to the proper entrance.

I was proven right on the enjoyment factor of going through the Kingdom the 'right' way. I was wrong on finishing at a door that was far from our parked vehicle. By this time the rain had progressed to a pour.

Assessing the situation, the guys put their cell phones in my big purse and made a run for it. I looked down at my flip flops and made my own executive decision. They were tossed in the bag as well and I followed suit, venturing through the rain in my bare feet.

It was glorious.

Running through the parking lot like kids, the boys were racing and all of us were laughing as we sought shelter. I felt like I was ten again, chasing my brothers while running through the refreshment of a summer shower.

Those were the days.

Although our summer days as kids weren't always filled with zoos and city excursions, we knew how to make our own fun and find adventures in our everyday life. And through these adventures, I would ditch my shoes whenever possible. I loved walking barefoot. My dad did not agree with my little summer pleasure, as he would constantly require my footwear to be placed back on my feet for protection.

"Put your shoes on. You'll step on something and get Lockjaw."

I was told awful stories of people who carelessly walked barefoot, stepping on shards of metal and developing this painful ailment. My dad would tell me stories of how an infection would take over their system and their muscles would stop moving. Walking barefoot = stepping on things = disorder of locked body movement. The possibility of this should have been enough to keep my smiley face Keds on my feet.

But it wasn't.

I would walk barefoot around town whenever given the opportunity. As long as the pavement wasn't too hot and I wasn't within my dad's eyesight, the shoes were off. A rainy day or summer night were the perfect respite for a child who preferred to be barefoot. Puddles with rain drops on exposed toes and warm pavement on the soles of the feet with complimenting moonlight made for the perfect walks home.

I just knew to put my shoes back on about a half a block from home, just in case Dad was outside. Technically I felt I wasn't breaking a rule, as there were no official signs posted on not walking barefoot in our little town of Remsen. The lifeguards told us to get out of the water each hour so they scan the pool for bodies, which I followed without hesitation. But they never announced over the loudspeakers that we were to put on our shoes when leaving.

Technically I was not breaking a rule, just not following my dad's sound advice. I took my chances and felt a little edgy in the process.

Now I am a grown adult and should know better, right?

Not a chance. Given any opportunity to dispose of my shoes under the proper weather conditions, I am all in. Summer is made for bare feet.

And I am happy to report no Lockjaw to date.

(some zoo pix pre-rain)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

August 13, 2016: The Perfect Morning

My current view
My mom has been in town this week. The last time I saw her was on a visit to Arizona while I was taking a time off from my work life. Now months later and with me fully back on the work treadmill, I found myself making a comment to her on more than one occasion.

"Mom, I am so busy. How did I let this happen again?"

I swore myself to a more serene lifestyle after smelling the roses during my months off of work. Instead I have found myself shuffling calendar entries and running from back-to-back engagements and meetings. Although I have been wildly successful in my quest to work with the right people on the right projects, I've somehow left out the balance of leaving some time for myself.

Sometimes ones self is the best study of human nature. I have come to realize that what was good for me 20 years ago is different now. What I desire for daily personal time and replenishment of energy is much different today. I will rack that up to age and human experience.

What I know now...

I need more sleep and thoughtful meditation to be on my game. This is a daily need. Not a 'catch-up' later.

I also need more down time for those simple things in life that bring me pleasure. Writing is one of them. Building relationships is another. Whether sharing a blog post or enjoying life with my family and friends, these are things that fill my bucket and balance my days.

And then there are the little routines that are very individual to me, but are....oh, so satisfying.

The picture above expresses one of these guilty pleasures. Enjoying the start of my day with a cup of coffee in bed, a cuddling dog next to me, and a catch up on what is going on in the world via my favorite forms of electronic media. All without a sound in the house and my favorite vision of a window to the world of what awaits me outside.

Somehow with my new busy schedule, this little routine had completely exited my life. Although not an every-day occurrence, as I do enjoy my early morning runs with friends and coffees with colleagues; I have found that never having this morning 'me time' has been greatly missed.

And did I mention that when home, my husband makes me this cherished cup of coffee? A sweet wake up call and a daily act of kindness as he would go about the perfect start of his morning (which does not include reading in bed, by the way) while leaving me the peace of my early morning.

Today I re-captured my perfect morning. A cup of coffee. Update on the important news from the day before, national from CNN and friends on FaceBook and Instagram, as I see them as equally important. Some fiction reading and some non-fiction reading. Electronic exchanges with friends and family. No husband here to bring me my coffee, but he was only a few text messages and emoji's away from being a part of my happy morning existence.

Now I look out the window for my morning weather check after checking Yahoo Weather and any updates from my favorite FaceBook weatherman.

The American flag on my flagpole is barely fluttering. A perfect morning for a bike ride. Now I am ready to start the day.

And as for my mom's response this week to my whining on being too busy and not having time for myself...

"Sandy, only you can change that."

Always a wise woman.