Archive for January 2012

Adding some more gray hairs to my head

Monday, January 16, 2012

As of 5 days ago, I am tempted to slap a few of these stickers on the back of my oh-so-not-cool minivan. My oldest is now a permitted driver and I am watching new gray hairs appear by the minute. That being said, I have to admit that I was the one who encouraged this monumental decision. Quinn had written off the possibility due to his broken collarbone and subsequent recovery. He figured that taking Driver's Ed. would need to be put off until the summer and nothing else was mentioned--even on his 15th birthday. In the state of Washington, if a teenager is enrolled in a driver's training course, he or she is able to get a learner's permit at the age of 15. Otherwise, 15 1/2 is the rule. When we looked at the schedule of one of the local driving school's, it appeared that the class times would conflict with the spring soccer schedule. As I perused other websites I found one that was just 5 weeks as opposed to 7 weeks and would be completed by the end of February. I just did not want to commit to having to stay in town for 5 straight weeks over the summer. At this particular school, if you registered by January 30th, they gave a $50 discount. Done! (when I was 15, driver's ed was part of the school district curriculum as an elective.) I know that I'm the parent and could have fully said no to the experience entirely but something tells me that at this time next year, with my school schedule, I am going to need an additional driver in the house. Also, I figured that it couldn't hurt to have a full 12 months of driving experience under his belt as opposed to six months.

My husband took Quinn to register for the class and to the DMV for his permit. Ian and I took bets on whether Trey would let Quinn drive home from the DMV office. I said "yes." Ian said "no." Score one for Ian. My typically laid back, cavalier, up-for-anything-risky husband has suddenly assumed the role of cautious parent. "I wasn't about to let him drive home in that traffic!" he told us. I still remember the day I got my permit and my typically cautious mother handed me the keys and we took the long way home. Maybe something about this rite of passage causes a role reversal for some reason. After some coaxing, Quinn convinced his father to take him out after dinner. They returned in one piece and still talking to each other. Phew.

Day 2: I got a text as I was getting on the bus: "Can you come get me and let me drive home?" This is all coming back to haunt me. After moving to the passenger seat I suggested we go to McDonald's then go pick up Ben from school. His response: "That's a REALLY sharp turn!" Smile. He maneuvered the turn and mastered the tricky drive-thru experience like a pro. I had to smile inside as I listened to him politely place his order and pay for it. It dawned on me that he had never been the one to speak the order into the microphone at fast food drive thru and it was fun to see him use his manners without a reminder from me. (an unexpected perk) The best part of the experience by far was when we pulled up to the carpool line and saw Ben's reaction to his big brother in the driver's seat. It was priceless. The teacher's did a double take themselves. I pulled out my phone and wrote on Facebook: "sitting in the passenger seat while my son is the driver feels like an out-of-body experience." The best way to describe it is that scene in "Father of the Bride" (circa 1992) when Kimberly Williams tells Steve Martin she is getting married. He has an immediate flashback to his little girl as a 3-year-old uttering the words, "and we're getting married." I just kept staring at my son operating a two ton vehicle and envisioned those days on his Tonka 4 wheeler going 2.5 miles an hour around the yard. It's so very surreal.

That evening he asked to drive again. This time he wanted to pick up a friend and transport them ACROSS TOWN to a rival high school's basketball game IN THE DARK! What have I gotten myself into? I agreed but it suddenly became apparent to me why they (thankfully) passed the law forbidding newly licensed 16-to-18-year-old drivers to have passengers other than family members ride in their vehicle for the first year. As soon as his buddy buckled in, I could see a rapid increase in his acceleration and a little less focus on his surroundings. Yikes!

As the days went on, I see Quinn looking for reasons to drive anytime and anywhere. My husband can't believe that I actually like being the passenger as much as I do. I typically hand over the keys as we walk to the car and it's beginning to feel more natural every day. After fifteen years of shuttling this kid all over town, I am happy to be chauffeured. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to pull down the visor, open the mirror and pluck out those gray hairs....


15 wishes on your 15th birthday

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dear Quinn,
Fifteen years ago today you blessed me with the title of "mother" and my life has never been the same. Nor would I want it to be. I've often heard the saying that once you become a parent, a piece of your heart lives outside of your body for the rest of your life. This is all too true. Every decision I have made from January 6, 1997 on has had you at the heart of it. No longer was I just responsible for myself but another living, breathing human being. It is an awesome responsibility but an amazing privilege as well. Anything I have or will yet accomplish in this life will matter more than what kind of sons I raise. It's a charge I take very seriously. I love when your birthday rolls around as it gives me an opportunity to reflect on the amazing gift that you have been and always will be to me.

From the beginning, every mother has hopes and dreams for her child and will go to great lengths to make sure those come to fruition. We all want our kids to have every opportunity not afforded to us in our own childhood. It's a parent thing. Unfortunately, it seems that most of those desires are rooted in material blessings. Nowadays, my peers who are parents seem to judge the success of their parenting solely on their child's athletic ability or academic success--or a combination thereof. Rarely do we hear anyone say "he's a generous, selfless kid" or "she cares about those less fortunate than her."

On that note, I wanted to do something a little different for your annual birthday blog post. In the past I have usually listed the number of attributes I love about each of my sons corresponding to their current age. This year I decided to list 15 wishes I have for you on your special day. Now some of these might catch you by surprise or have you scratching your head wondering why I would wish them or, even worse, think they would actually be considered "gifts." You should know me by now and that there is always a method to my madness. I'm always after the bigger lesson, right? How many times do you hear me say "what kind of man to you want to be?" versus "how many goals did you score?" I can picture your eyes rolling as I write this. One day you might thank me or even agree with me but for now hang in there and scroll through. There is an explanation below each wish. And they're alphabetical, of course. I am an English teacher, after all. (almost)

1. The gift of ADVERSITY. Not having things always go your way is one of the greatest teachers and the only way to make you truly appreciate what you have. In the most trying times is where you will find your strength, look inward and upward, and grow the very most.

2. The gift of CHANGE. No one likes to be caught by surprise in a world where planning and "controlling your destiny" is encouraged. It's natural to want to have stability, security and be able to count on certain things happening in life. If you can learn to embrace change and find the positive in that which is out of your control, you will find immense satisfaction and growth.

3. The gift of EDUCATION. As a high school student, going to school doesn't feel like a gift but a burden. But if you can remember that most of the world will never have the opportunity to learn how to read or write, you will see how very blessed you are to get all this for free. It's a privilege not a right. And I hope that you will be committed to being a life long learner even beyond your formal education.

4. The gift of FAMILY. Being born into a family where you are wanted, cared for and loved is a huge blessing. Even when we annoy you, I know that you love being part of our family. Beyond that, I hope and pray that your future is blessed with a wife and children yourself as you leave your own legacy in this world.

5. The gift of FRIENDSHIP. You are a super social guy and have always had a lot of friends which I know has meant a lot to you. I wish for you to not only continue to have a good, core group of friends you can count on but to be a loyal friend to others as well.

6. The gift of HARD WORK. By this I mean "back breaking" type of manual labor. There is a unique satisfaction that comes from physically exhausting yourself and seeing the results of that. You will never regret giving it your all whether it's working on a farm, a construction site or anything else that pushes your limits in this way.
7. The gift of HEALTH. This is so easy to take for granted--especially when you're young and fit. Waking up every day being able to walk, talk, see and hear is something to be deeply appreciated. It's one of those things that "you don't know what you've got until it's gone."

8. The gift of HUMILITY. This can take on so many different forms from doing a job that you are overqualified for to giving of your time and talents without expecting anything in return--or even doing it anonymously. Thinking of others as more important than yourself will always serve you well and show your true character.

9. The gift of LAUGHTER. You have a great sense of humor and a quick wit and laugh very easily. The true test, and true gift, is when you are able to laugh at yourself. To make fun of your own shortcomings or blunders will draw others to you and make them more at ease with themselves. However, laughter at another's expense is never an attractive trait.

10. The gift of LOVE. I look forward to the day when a young lady captures your heart and you fall madly in love. Not puppy love or self serving but true, unconditional, ready-to-lay-down your-life-for-her kind of love. It will be a beautiful thing.

11. The gift of PATIENCE. You have grown up in an instant gratification world. I know you think us stodgy old adults love to throw that term around for nostalgia's sake, and that we're out of touch, but there's a lot to be said for good old waiting. Self control and denying immediate pleasure are so difficult but having that discipline has been scientifically proven to increase self esteem. In other words, it can't hurt.

12. The gift of PERSERVERANCE. Sticking with something, especially when everything inside you is screaming "QUIT!" is so rewarding. Nothing beats knowing and hearing "A job well done."

13. The gift of SERVICE. This could tie in with humility because it, once again, is considering others as more important than you. And serving generally doesn't equate with getting paid. You do it because it's the right thing to do and Jesus was the greatest example of that. He did not come into this world to be served but to serve others. An attitude that we would all do well to adopt.

14. The gift of WISDOM. You might consider this redundant if you lump it in with education but I'm talking more about gaining knowledge and wisdom in life, not just head knowledge. There's said to be five stages of a man's life with the last being a "Sage". I hope you will take to heart all of the opportunities and disappointments that come your way, for this is where a wise man is found. And I pray you will pass on your knowledge to those coming behind you. The world needs more Sages.

15. (not in alphabetical order) The gift of a deep abiding faith in Jesus which is at the center of all of these. He will never leave you or forsake you and had great things in mind when He created you. Stick close to Him and no matter what happens in your life (even if you never have any of the above) you will find He is the greatest gift of all.

Happy 15th birthday, Quinn! I love who you are and who you are becoming!



20 Things About 2011

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I know it's already the third day of 2012 but I've been thinking about how I wanted to editorialize 2011. I love to sum up the previous year and talk about the new one. Last year I borrowed five questions from a daily devotional I receive via email but I was looking for something a little different this time around. Tonight I stumbled onto a cute post from a fellow blogger at Walk With Me By Faith and copied it below. I just love good questions although I'd rather ask them than answer.

1.) What did you do in 2011 that you had never done before?

Taught a Language Arts lesson to a group of sixth graders.

2.) Did you keep any New Year's resolutions and will you make more this year?

The same one I always make is to get out of bed when I wake up and by the second week of January I am hitting snooze once or twice. A less shallow one is to fully embrace Hebrews 12:1 and leave the past behind, focusing my energy on the present and look forward to the future. Each year I do ask God for a verse and theme for the upcoming year and this is what he gave me in December and confirmed it a couple different times. I'm very excited about this.

3.) Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, my cousin Natalie gave birth to her first child, Ty. A darling little guy.

4.) Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my great aunt Sylvia. She was my grandmother's youngest sister and one of the most thoughtful people I've ever known. I wouldn't say we were incredibly close but I loved her very much and have a lot of fond memories of time spent in her presence and at her home.

5.) What places did you visit?

Amelia Island, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Veranda Beach, WA; Walla Walla, WA; Wenatchee, WA; Mountain Loop Highway camping.

6.) What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

A home of our own.

7.) What date from 2011 will remain etched in your memory and why?

December 11-the day my oldest son broke his collarbone on the mountain. It was one of the worst feelings getting a call that your child has been severely injured and you aren't there.

8.) What was your biggest achievement this year and why?

Going back to school full-time and getting a 4.0 while managing a home and a family. I probably don't need to explain why that's an achievement. :)

9.) Did you suffer illness or injury?

No, but my kids had enough of both that it felt like it was me.

10.) What was the best thing you bought?

A DSLR camera.

11.) Where did most of your money go?

Feeding, clothing, housing and transporting my children.

12.) What song will always remind you of 2011?

"Perfect" by Pink.

13.) What do you wish you would have done more of?

Prayed and fully relied on God

14.) What do you wish you would have done less of?

Worrying about what everyone else thinks and wasting time on the computer.

15.) What was your favorite TV program?

Last Man Standing with Tim Allen

16.) What was the best book you read?

The End of Normal by Stephanie Madoff Mack

17.) What was your favorite film of the year?

The Help

18.) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

Went to church, saw the Footloose remake with my hubby and ate dinner at my favorite burger joint with my family. I turned 44.

19.) What national/world event stirred you the most?

The death of Osama Bin Laden

20.) Who was the best new person you met?

Russ-one of my son's football coaches who became his mentor and a member of our family. He's an answer to prayer and someone all of us love like a brother. He is a man of integrity, honor and loyalty. I am so thankful for the role he plays in all of our lives and our whole family adores him.


I Love the Bowl Season!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A few years ago we decided we were done with our streak of bad luck and it was time to adopt the southern tradition of collard greens and black eyed peas for our New Year's Day meal. In the south, they believe that both of these tasteless foods symbolize luck and prosperity for the coming year if eating on the first day of the new year. We talked our college friends, Mike and Julie into joining us. Their previous year wasn't bad but they were game for trying something new. As it turned out, that year was worse for them and about status quo for us. Julie let us know what she thought of our superstitious ways and that they weren't up for partaking in a meal that not only didn't change their fortune but tasted horrible. We agreed so we took a hiatus from the food and spending New Year's together until 2010. We promised not to bring any food or cockamamie spells into their home so we picked up where we left off and enjoyed a day of football and leftovers.

During this day of endless college bowl games, one of the announcers got overly excited and exclaimed "Now this is why I love the bowl season!!" The way he said it gave all 4 of us the giggles and we couldn't stop repeating the phrase for the rest of the day and into the evening. (Yes, you had to be there.) And thus a new tradition was born. Three weeks later we were invited back for the Super Bowl and had a great time. Throughout the year, every once in a while we get a text "I love the Bowl Season!" or "123 days until the bowl season." It's become our private joke and an event our whole family looks forward to every year. There is nowhere else we'd rather be to begin a new year.

Yesterday, being that New Year's fell on a Sunday, and there were only NFL games on, we got a late start on the Bowl Season celebration but it still happened. I was able to sneak in a can of collard greens but Julie heaped butter and salt on everyone's portions and we didn't make any mention of its supposed potential for a prosperous 2012. Regardless of how anyone's year plays out, I'm so thankful we have these friends who are more like family to ring in a new 12 months.

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Tis the Season-Part One

I have been wanting to post some pictures taken with my favorite Christmas present-a Canon DSLR camera. I'm still trying to figure out how to use it, and considering my success rate with all things electronic, it might be a while. Also, once Christmas Eve hit, we were either entertaining or being entertained for a solid week so there was no time to download evidence of our seasonal memories. I think I was trying to get in as much socializing as possible to make up for being housebound with my patient and for the 11 weeks ahead of me with winter quarter.

So here I've posted some of my favorite pics of Christmas Day with my family.

Can we open any yet?

Taking advantage of his patient status while everyone hand delivers his gifts to his place on the sofa.

The cousins conferring over Ian's new shovel.

Time to switch gears to Uncle Brian's birthday.

When your mom asks you to pose for the camera, you can't be serious.

The whole gang.

"Finally, my own underwear!" ~Ben