Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Settle Down

Settle down.

My dad used to say this to me all the time. Not in a mean, angry way. But in a calming, kind parent way. Usually I was in a panic or sobbing or ranting and he would look at me in a soothing way and say, "Settle down." He always knew that whatever it was that I was in a tither about was going to be okay. After the "settle down," we would talk and his words always made me feel better.

I can remember crying about something when I was very little and he said this to me while sitting on my bed. I can still see the sun coming through my Holly Hobbie curtains and sitting with my dad and knowing that he loved me and whatever I was upset about was going to be ok.

I remember sitting in the library parking lot with him crying over a boy that broke my heart. He said those words, "Settle down." It was going to be alright. There would be other boys.

I remember holding onto him after Mom died and sharing tears with him. Crying so hard that no sound was coming out. But, Dad could make it better.

The last time I remember him saying these words to me was when he was in the hospital and I was upset about it. I was very pregnant and worried and he simply said, "Settle down." And I did.

I realized recently that I say the same thing to my children when they get worried or upset. They come to me with their fears, so giant in their tiny little lives, yet so small in the grand scheme. What if they don't like their teacher? What if they aren't good at swimming on the Varsity team? What if they get tackled really hard at football? What if they get yelled at for forgetting their scout book? What if there's nothing good to eat? What if they lost their DSi? What if they need new school clothes? What if we have to clean the house and go to piano and football and pick up the big coat? What if we're late? What if their foot, chest, finger, back, *insert body part here* hurts?

And first I say, "Settle down."

And then I listen and try to solve.

Usually it works. They calm down and we talk and resolve the issue.

I imagine that Heavenly Father is the same. I come to Him with my fears looming so large in my life, yet tiny in eternal perspective. I cry and stomp and sob. I tell Him that I can't see how this problem is going to possibly work out. I make quite a production.

Yet He knows all and he can see the resolutions to all my worries. And He simply and quietly tells me, "Settle down. All is well. "

And He's right. Every time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Did you see "Alien"? When the creature was in that guy's stomach? It feels like that. Freshman

My baby girl is starting high school in 10 days, 15 hours, 33 minutes and 57...56...55. Not that I'm thinking about it at all. Maybe just a smidge.

She went to school today for Freshman Orientation. She found out her schedule, got some books, got her picture taken. She said it was fun and she ate lunch with her swimming friends. Yay for swimming friends!

She had several outfits picked out to wear. I shouldn't call them outfits...I think that would make her gag. She had several really cool shirts picked out to choose between. In the car going somewhere yesterday, she asked me what I wore for my freshman picture day. I told her my uniform and a John Lennon pin that said "Give Peace a Chance." She made a face and thought the pin was really dumb. Why did I wear a pin?

I explained about the old St. Ursula uniform. Try to imagine this. It could be any fabric you wanted. Anything. I had a red one with bears, I had plaid, I had one with frogs...I can't remember the rest. It was a dress, three pleats in front, three in back, long sleeves and knee length, matching belt around the waist. If that wasn't hideous enough, we wore a white detachable collar with a pin that connected the two sides. It could be any pin as long as it wasn't offensive. When I googled "old st. ursula toledo uniform," no pictures of the uniform came up. This one did however, which I thought was HI-larious.

I had to scan my freshman yearbook to get these beauties. I had also forgotten that we could wear a matching sweater over our uniform. We were a collective hot mess.

Here's me in my monstrosity complete with ugly hair and cool John Lennon pin. Why did someone not tell me to wax my eyebrows?? I'm holding all the women in the Toledo 1st Ward responsible for not giving me this tip. I look like a Yeti.

The next year, we got much better uniforms. Traditional pleated shirt, oxford shirts and blazers. I loved wearing uniforms and I wish my kids wore them now.

I don't know if my John Lennon pin story wore off on Emily because she wore her Abbey Road t-shirt and Beatles hoodie. You can't really tell it's Beatles-wear but it is. She thinks the picture looks stupid. Honey, you think you look stupid?? Take a look at my beautiful mug two inches up. You are gorgeous.

Two most important tips for first day of Freshman Year:

1. Wear enough deodorant. I didn't and I felt like I stunk all day long.

2. Go to the correct classes. If you end up going to the wrong Biology class that is full of Sophomores, they will laugh at you and you will feel stupid.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm out there Jerry and I'm loving every minute of it!

A few weeks ago, I was at Steeler practice with Cameron. He had an accident on the track. A #2 accident. The only toilets available there are porta-potties. Ugh. I go over with him to the facilities armed with tons of baby wipes. I started to clean him up but the underwear was impossible so I just tossed it in the gaping toilet hole. He had to go commando for a few hours during practice. No harm done, I figured.

On Wednesday, we went to practice again and he was running around the track. This time, no accident, but he wanted to go to the bathroom. I didn't want to go into the potty with him cuz it smells so bad so I stood outside armed with wipes to disinfect him when he got done. He came out and got cleaned up and looked at me and said, matter-of-factly, "I threw my underwear away." I was floored. I guess he thinks that standard procedure in a porta-potty is to throw your underwear away.

I'm still laughing about it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Well, now, guess what, this is happening.

My mom died on August 4, 1990. It's a painful day for me to get through. I don't know why it is so hard because I think about her on all the other 364 days of the year too. It's not really any different. It just feels different.

I have a good friend who has commemorated her death in some way every year since our friendship started. One year she gave me a lilac bush which is thriving in our yard. She usually gives me flowers. It is very sweet. I have known this friend for only about 8 years which isn't terribly long but she's the kind of friend where it feels like we've been friends forever. I knew I wanted to be her friend when we were rehearsing a skit for our church group in which about ten women sang "I Feel Pretty," in shower caps and bathrobes. She and I laughed and laughed about it. It was really funny. I knew I wanted to be her best friend when we went to see "Anchorman" together and my head almost burst from the pain of laughing so hard with her.

She and I almost share the same brain. We say the same things. We think the same way. We laugh at the same stuff. Sometimes we think we were separated at birth because we are so much alike.

Our friendship struggled several years ago. We had some issues and some fights. I had never fought with a girlfriend except one other time in high school when I yelled at Marybeth Bauer to stop acting like my mom. I don't know how to fight...I don't like conflict especially when I can't see how there can possibly be a comfortable resolution. So I run.

I ran from this friend. I sent her an email the day before her 30th birthday...a week before August 4th. An email that said I couldn't be her friend right now but maybe someday in the future we could be friends again. Goodbye.

And then I cried. She was such an important part of my life and I cut her out just like that.

She still sent me flowers on that August 4th. She remembered that it's the hardest day for me.

And then life started to go on. I would think about her all the time and wonder how she was and if she made new friends. I looked for her everywhere...the spray park, Kroger, Target, Maya's. She was never there. I had a new baby and hoped and prayed that she would walk through the hospital door with a hug for me and my new little one. I dreamt about her all the time. I would wake up so disappointed because we weren't friends in my real life.

August 4th approached again. The hardest day for me of the year. And in the afternoon, the doorbell rang. It was the flowers from my friend. She signed the wrong name on the card because she wasn't sure I would want flowers from her but I knew the handwriting. The flowers were yellow because she knows it's my favorite color. My heart was bursting with sadness at missing my mom and yet this gesture from this friend at this moment had a great healing effect. The pain I felt was diminished that day.

I went to my computer almost immediately and sent her an email thanking her for the flowers and telling her how much I missed her. She sent one back and pretty much said the same things. She missed me too! She didn't hate me. I had been afraid that she did.

We continued to email for a few weeks and finally I got some courage. I dressed Lizzie in the outfit that my friend had given her before she was born and we headed to her house. I pulled in the driveway and my hands were shaking and my heart was pounding. I rang her bell and I heard her voice say, "Who is it?" I heard her son say, "It's Jennifer." I saw her come down the stairs and I could not contain the tears. She opened the door and opened her arms and I fell into them whispering, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." I cried and then we sat on her porch and talked for a bit. She had to leave to go somewhere, but in those few moments we were together again, I knew it was going to be ok. I knew our friendship could be repaired and ultimately overcome our year of silence.

It took some time to iron out the issues that had led to me withdrawing my friendship. We worked through it and I am happy to say that she is my best friend again.

This year on August 4th, she gave me flowers. Yellow and white. She remembers that day and how painful it is for me.

This year on August 4th, I gave her flowers. I remember her gift of flowers a year ago that were the catalyst for bringing her back to me. It is our friendship anniversary of sorts.

I love that I have something joyful now to share on that day.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

But at ten they start the aquasonics Thirty-five geriatrics throwing elbows. It was like I was swimming through a flabby armed spanking machine.

Great news! Emily made the varsity swim team at Plymouth High School! I am so excited for her.
She's a great swimmer. She started when she was 7 swimming for clubs and has worked so hard to get where she is. I am just thrilled!

I can't wait until she gets her team suit and the "big coat." I found out that the "big coat" is actually called a "swim parka," but I am probably still going to call it the "big coat."

I had a lot of swimmer friends growing up and for some reason I was so jealous of that big coat. I just loved it. They would wear it before and after meets. I was so cool. So I keep telling Emily that while she's in school, I'm going to be going around the house wearing her big coat. She just rolls her eyes. Like it could even come close to fitting me.

Come out and see Emily swim in her meets. She's going to be great! Way to go, Emily!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Please don't take my sunshine away.

Summer Platte Party:

Saw Gwen and Amy and Jeremy...LOVE THEM!

Saw all aunts but one...LOVE THEM!

Kids played and played and played...LOVE IT!

Heard beautiful singing and guitar playing...LOVE IT!

Got homegrown sweet corn...LOVE IT!

My family is the best. It's filled with happy, positive, God-loving, caring, wonderful men and women...LOVE THEM ALL!

***Please pray for my cousin's baby, Brody Smith. He has leukemia. Visit his care page at Search for brodysmith.***

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Because I'm REFRESHED. I finally found a way to sleep in my office. Under the desk. I lie on my back. I tuck in the chair. I'm invisible.

My grandad took a nap every afternoon. He took it on the davenport, which is an old person's word for couch, with a red pillow and covered himself with a homemade afghan. You could almost set your watch by Grandad's nap. I didn't play in the den when Grandad was sleeping even though that's where the toys were at Grandma's house. Sometimes I would lay down with him. I'll bet he just loved that. He probably got the worst naps ever when I was there.

My grandad had a huge garden and grew everything. I was especially adept at helping him harvest strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. In the fall, I was good at relieving him of his concord grapes. He worked in the garden wearing a straw hat, navy work shorts and a t-shirt. He wore the hat because he was bald and the sun would burn the top of his head.

There was a pool at Grandad and Grandma's. It was a round, above ground pool. I wanted to swim in it all day, every day. Grandma would sit inside and crochet and watch me through the window. We used tire inner tubes as floats. They were great because they would rarely get a hole. You had to be careful though because the valve stem poked inward and you could get a bad scratch from them. Grandma would give me a handful of pennies and I would spend all day throwing them in and diving for them. The best was when Grandad would put on his swimsuit and swim with me. It was such a treat!

Grandad was a beekeeper. If a honey bee got into the pool, you carefully scooped it out and put it on the grass so it could fly away. You NEVER killed a honey bee! Grandad would wear his beekeeping suit sometimes when he worked with the hives. I can remember making honey in the basement at his house.

When I was little Grandad had a blue truck for his "work/junk" car. It was a Ford. I can remember tracing the letters F-O-R-D on the back gate. He had a really cool El Camino for his junk car too. I LOVED the El Camino. I wish we still had it. It was pretty awesome.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Off he rides, on his noble steed, a valiant figure, straight and tall! To wake his love with loves' first kiss! And prove that true love conquers all!

When I was little, my favorite movie was Sleeping Beauty. I loved Aurora and her charming Prince Philip. I hoped someday I would grow up and marry someone brave and handsome like him.

Most of the time, my husband is every bit the charming Prince Philip. And that's quite a feat considering that I more resemble the evil Maleficent over Sleeping Beauty.

I fell in love with him on one of our first dates when he told me that he always wanted ten kids. A man who wants ten kids is a rarity. I've only met one other guy that wanted ten kids. I knew I couldn't let Chris get away when he shared this desire with me. I just loved him from that moment on.

When Chris was getting close to graduating from college, I was starting to dread his job search because it meant we might have to go far away. I didn't want to leave my family. I didn't talk to him at all about it because I was so nervous about what he might say. One day he comes to me and tells me he's decided to look for a job only in the Toledo area because he knows we'll be needed there by my dad and sister. I was relieved and so happy. I didn't think I could love him more that I did at that moment! We started sending out resumes. I think we sent well over 100 to every company in Toledo we could find. He had some interviews but no offers. We were both starting to get nervous. Here he was graduating with a wife and two children and has no prospect of income. Finally, he gets an interview with a radio station based on a recommendation of his boss at the Wharton Center who is friends with a manager at the station. He was offered a job and the same day we leased an apartment about 2 miles from my dad's house. It was divine intervention that brought us to Toledo. Two days before we were supposed to move, my dad had surgery on his bowel that caused him to have quite a long recovery in the hospital and nursing home. He was never the same after that and wasn't able to live at home with my sister. We were really needed there. Chris listened to the Spirit and put his potential career to the side to care for family. He's such a great guy.

He was a hero to me when he was able to recognize someone in need and struggling and rescue them from peril. Again, he listened to the whisperings of the Spirit and did as prompted.

Again and again, time after time, he has come to my aid. He has never had to fight dragons or Maleficent's Goons but he yells at mean neighbors for me and mean people on the phone. He tells the kids to stop fighting and be nice to me. He gets me out of jams and picks me up when I am falling down. There are times when I ask him for something that seems impossible for him to deliver on and I bug him about it and he says, "Have I ever let you down before?" And I think and think and I can't think of a time.

He's not perfect but he's perfect for me. And when it comes to the big stuff he is perfect. It's the big stuff that counts and he always delivers when it counts.
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