Last night I had the privilege of watching my nephew play his first college game at my Alma Mata. I was so proud he decided to follow my footsteps! Chase has played hockey since he could first tie his skates. We grew up a hockey family. Now when I say we...I mean we! Before I was married I lived at home in a big Walton's style house. I lived there with my sister, her husband their two kids and my mother. We are all very close. Now I live less than a mile away. I had the privilege of helping my niece and nephew navigate life. They went to the private school I taught at so I drove them to school for many...MANY years! I loved being a part of family life! As a close family we tend to travel in a pack. When we found out he had his first college career hockey game we loaded into the mini van and made our way south. My husband had to work but other than that we were all there. Even my little girl was strapped in the way back excited to see her Chase play. With Friday traffic coming out of Boston we still made it in time! There was such excitement in the air! We were all giddy. You see it was a long road to get Chase here. He played for a local prep school for high school hockey. The school itself was a solid education but it was one of those schools where money talks! Sadly the hockey team was full of politics and it was each man for his own glory. A very sad way to lead young men into adult lives. It was so bad his junior year he was not sure he would play his senior year. However they hired a new coach and he really loved to play. So he laced up his skates and decided to play for the love of the game. The new coach saw leadership in him and his skill. Not that he is the greatest on the ice or the fastest but he was correctable and a team player. He was willing to do what he was told. He encouraged the younger players. This was noticed in him so much that he won the MVP award for the season. We thought this was a good way to close his rough high school chapter. Fast forward to last night. He is wearing the school colors on the ice warming up. Even if he never saw ice time I knew this team was different. They way the team members were warming up and passing the puck around. It was not each player crashing the net. It was passing and moving and working as a team. Like a well rehearsed dance. He saw us come in and as much as he tried to hide his excitement I know his body language enough to see that he set his shoulders a little straighter and played a little harder. As a freshman he still looked so small compared to some of the seniors but he held his own! The puck gets dropped and the game is on! The whole family is cheering and enjoying being there. Walking back and forth to get hot chocolate and a few hot dogs the time was ticking down. He did see ice time and when he was on the ice we were all so proud!!! His team quickly took the lead and held it for the entire game. As lines kept changing he saw a lot of ice time. He took some hits up against the boards. He gave a few hits! He was on the bench when a fight broke out. Two guys just got caught up and it turned messy. Benches were cleared! Chase jumped in to help pull people of his team member. The refs gained control very quickly and the other teams player was ejected from the game. It was an exciting game! Enter the 3rd period and Chase was on the ice. There was a clean breakaway from one of his teammates. I could see Chase hauling skates to get down to the net. His teammate took a shot but it missed. The goalie was flat on the ice and Chase came in and got the rebound and was able to slip it past the goalie and scored! We were ecstatic! OVER THE MOON! What a scene we made. But you know what was even better? The scene on the ice. His team members who were on the ice all came skating and did this mosh pit group hug thing with Chase in the center! His team was ahead by 3 so the goal was not urgent but the way his team celebrated you would have thought it was the winning goal of the Olympics! I could see his sweaty face through his helmet and the smile said it all. He finally found a TEAM! A team that would win together and loose together. A team that would celebrate together. For all the garbage he went through...for all the early morning practices...for all the time traveling all over kingdom come....for all the cold toes and soar muscles....this goal made that all seem to disappear. He found a team. His team. Well done boy! Your family is very proud!
A long hard journey but worth every inch!
Picture it....a nice cool fall day. A lovely evening of kiddy fall soccer. Happy family arriving in the mini van. Fresh water in hand. Smiling face as the child skips a happy little skip onto the field to waving to the other team and encouraging them along. Well if that were true that would be nice. I, however did not have that night. Let's start off with the weather. HOLY HOT BATMAN! It is fall in New England. FALL. However....the temp is not a brisk fall temp...in my van it said it was 98 degrees. 98!!! 9.....8....! WHY! So my lovely child already has stink head from school recess. That sour sweaty smell that just seeps out of their pours. So I pull into the away field with stink head...I mean with my lovely child...and the only other people there are the red team. We are the blue team. Out of her mouth she says..."there is the enemy." Wait what? So we had a quick convo about how the opposite team is NOT the enemy and we are to be a good sport. We want to win but more important is playing with integrity. Then proceeds the quick change in the van. Off with stinky school uniforms and into HOT nylon soccer uniforms. Stinky feet put into soccer cleats. I go to grab her water bottle. Worst mom of the year award goes to...ME! I forgot to fill it up. The best I can do is warm Gatorade which was in the back of the van. So off grumbles stinky head child as she joins her other melting teammates in some attempt to "warm up." My poor husband helps coach and I could see him melting from where I was sitting on the other side.
All the parents of both sides were clustering into the small corner of the field that has a small amount of shade. Bound together we watched these little kiddos play. Hot. Sweaty. Tired. My little one still is rocking the cough that will not end. Well add the humid hot air with the running around that is just a recipe for disaster! I could hear her hacking! They switched out lines often. Well wouldn't you know it, one of the littlest team members takes a cleat to the face. POOR KID! I mean tiny little girl. My husband calls me over and I check her out. Well that did it. My already tired stinky sick child became very stinky on the inside. How could I dare care about anther child when clearly my child was about to burst into flames and fall over due to the fact that #7 bumped into her and surly broke her leg (her leg was just fine and did not bother her until other child needed some attention). I brushed my stinky head child aside and made sure bleeding child was ok. Bleeding child's mom came and took over. By now stinky child is in hysterics as to how mean I am and no one cares about her leg or her cough. The hysteria is now triggering a coughing fit. I do the only thing a mom can do. I pick up even more stinkier headed child and wrap my arms around her hot sweaty body and pull her close. I kiss her stinky head and try to comfort her. I knew at this point the game was a lost cause. She felt like garbage. I am sweating in places I did not know one could sweat and I was not even running around. I look at the faces of other parents around me. A look of thankfulness that it was not their child but also of solidarity. WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE! WE HAVE ALL HAD THAT KID! I am sure super mom's would take this time to teach a valuable life lesson about perseverance in times of trouble. A moment to reflect on how we could have made the day better. I was having none of that. I was tapping out and taking my stick stinky headed child home to feed her, put her in the tub and then stories and BED! Quick kiss to my husband and I carry stinky child to the car. Buckle her in and put the AC on full blast. A little Air 1 radio on the drive home. I did just as I said. Got home and fed her a grilled cheese with grapes...her favorite. A luke warm bath to clean her stinkies and cool her off. A few of her favorite stories and then off to bed! Sometimes you just need a mom to help take the stinkies away. Some of you may be thinking I am doing too much for her. C0ddleing her too much. She has lived with us for almost 3 years. She came from a horrible home life. I count myself lucky to be able to care for her in this way. She is 6 1/2 and most times is pretty good about handling life. But when she is sick, hot and tired all bets are off. I did the best mom thing I could do. Cradle her up and love on her. Tomorrow is a new day. We can face those challenges on a good nights sleep and a lot of AC...it is still a heat wave here! So to all the mom's who have had THAT child at the game or the grocery store or the doctors office. It's ok. We all have stinky head children! We have ALL BEEN THERE! PS....Don't forget the water bottle!
My husband and I did a very grown up thing last night. We went to a fundraiser. It was for our local CareNet Pregnancy Center. Our babysitter showed up for our little one. Gave her the run down and then headed out in our fancy duds. As we pull up in the mini van my husband says to me "I am glad I wore the tie". I was glad I shaved my legs! I am talking real fancy place! We go in and find our seats. We had a lovely dinner of prime rib with twice baked taters in the shape of a flower. Prime rib you can cut with a butter knife! There was lovely small talk around the table. We were sitting with friends so it was nice. A relaxed environment. There were lots of people there whom I knew. Parents from school. People I knew from other churches in town. A grown up affair. About half way through the speaker (who was a very funny comedian!) I looked around and realized when did I become an adult. Like real adult. After this dinner I was going home to pay the babysitter! Four short years ago I was the babysitter. Now I am a wife and mother! Mother to a 6 year old of all thing! (Soon to be mother...adoption date coming soon). When did I become one of these women that checks her phone to see if the sitter text with a question? When did I start going to fundraisers?
Happy Saturday folks. I am one of those parents that load up the family van with the sports chairs and Gatorade and head off to early morning soccer. It is little girls first year playing "real" soccer. She has a uniform and everything. I would post a picture but legally we can not post a single shot until she is ours....which we are praying will be by Christmas! My husband is helping coach so we 3 show up with our morning beverages of coffee, Gatorade and soda....me soda...he coffee and her Gatorade. I set my chair on the sidelines with the other parents. This is a delicate balance because I teach at the school. I am one of those moms that show up with my hair in a pineapple flip and shorts and a t. I figure my weekend....it is ok to look like a regular mom and not a staff member! So I find a spot next to one of my students dads...I have his son but his daughter is on my littles team. He and his wife are great and loads of fun. He is a trooper so I figure if nothing else I will get to hear some good work stories...he never disappoints! I am going to just call him Trooper Bob to protect his identity. So Trooper Bob and I start chatting. I ask him how his work is going and if he is in one area or the whole state. I figure I am just warming him up. He covers the whole state in case you were wondering. So we are chatting and I finally get the nerve to ask him how he determines who to give a ticket to and whom he lets off. Below are his words of wisdom.
1. There is a certain speed that regardless you are getting a ticket. His is about 14 miles over. So slow down! Unless you have some sort of emergency you might as well take out your checkbook. Full disclosure here....that number is different for each officer!
2. Be honest! They know the speed you are going. So when they ask you it is not because they don't know....it is kind of a test. How are YOU going to be as the one pulled over. Trooper Bob says he is more likely to go easy on someone who owns up to their crime of speeding. He then proceeded to tell me several stories which had me in stitches laughing!
3. Be polite! Even if you think officers are the biggest jerks on the planet....FAKE IT! Use words like sir...unless it is woman in that case if you call her a sir then get out your checkbook!
4. Tell the officer you are sorry. I know you are thinking what I am thinking....SORRY! Are you kidding me! Yes. Sorry! Tell the officer you are sorry for speeding and putting their life at risk on the highway....or sorry the officer had to come out in the rain....or sorry I should have been paying attention more. Some sort of sorry that acknowledges YOU know you were wrong and generally care about the officers well being. If you think the officer is a jerk then call him that..... then get out your checkbook!
5. If you are pulled over because you were using your cell phone then get out your checkbook! Trooper Bob says there is no excuse for using your cellphone while driving. He does not give warnings for this crime. The law has been in place for 2 1/2 years. It is about safety and control of your vehicle. Hands free means not even in your hand!!! I asked him if he had a body cam and he said no. I said what happens if the person fights the ticket in court? It is your word against theirs. A direct quote from Trooper Bob...."yeah but the judge is going to believe me." I would have to side with Trooper Bob. There is no excuse in this day and age to be using your phone while driving! Get out your checkbook. It is going to coast you!
6. If you are caught with any sort of illegal items in your car such as an open can (if you are a minor) or any sort of drugs...get out your checkbook. There is no way out of it.
So as Trooper Bob is giving me this good advice we were still good parents cheering on our littles and enjoying the lovely day God has set before us. Our girls won!
In all seriousness folks be careful out there. It is better to arrive late then dead. It is better to leave the message unread then dead. It is better to err on the side of caution then to prove you can out run, out pass out drive that care behind you then wind up dead.
My mom used to say at 65 you are driving at 85 you are aiming! Words of wisdom. Leave your phone in your purse or on the seat. Slow down and enjoy the view!
Anyone have a good story of how they got out of a ticket?
Tunorky....pronounced tah-nor-key. If you are easily offended stop here. If you are a youth pastor or work with youth in any way this story fits right into your wheelhouse. Here comes a crazy camp story for you. I ran program at a Christian winter camp for teens for many years. We show up on Friday....have a meal as a staff....then the campers came from all over. Well one year every Friday we had this meal. We could never figure out if it was tuna, pork or turkey so we just called it tunorky. Now you may be thinking why on earth would you eat something you did not know what it was. Well let me tell you. It was a little slice of heaven. All those yummy comfort smells from your grandma's house all rolled into one place. It was a cross of Thanksgiving and Christmas with a whole lot of love thrown in. It looked brown. It has some sort of gray gravy on it. Usually served with mashed taters and a veggie. Every Friday we would dig in and enjoy. Every Friday night we would swear we were never going to eat that or anything ever again. Why you ask. Let me take you back. Here we are sitting around enjoying this food. Again....not sure what it was but it tasted so good! The smell alone was enough to drag you in. Now you take a bite. A bite that seems like it came straight from kitchens of heaven. It tasted so good. Went down smooth. Not too hot. Not too cold. Add a little smashed tater onto the fork and you had pure perfection! Bite after tasty bite you all but lick the plate. About a hour later IT STARTS! First you get the lip sweat. You know what I am talking about. You feel a little warm. Start rocking back and forth a bit hoping it will pass. Some people were lucky and this is all that they would get. If you were not one of the lucky ones the forehead sweat came next. That is when you know it is going to run full course. Brace yourself. It is only going to get worse. After the forehead sweats come the stomach churning. It is at this point you want to be within sight of a bathroom at all times! If you need to look for one it is too late for you. You have about 42 seconds to find a place to sit and ponder if you know what I mean. I recommend a single stall bathroom if at all possible for the safety of those around you but any port in a storm. You see this little slice of tasty perfection that slide so easily down your gullet has now turned on you. As soon as it hit your digestive track it grew spikes and then proceeded to scrape its way through your body until at last it needs to come screaming from your backside at a furious rate. There was sometimes moaning involved. Even rocking. It's ok. No judgement here. We as a staff knew when we saw someone running for the restroom on Friday nights what was going down. We would do the head bob saying...umhmmm...tunorky. Nothing more needed to be said. We had all been there. It was most fun watching the newbies go through this process. Kind of takes you buy surprise. Kind of a camp initiation. Friday night we would all form a pact that we would never eat it again. NEVER! Some of us could not eat for the remainder of the weekend. Never! NEVER! But alas as we all went back to our regular lives during the week we sort of forgot our pact because every Friday there we were again at the dinner line trying to cut each other to be the first to nestle on the succulent taste that was tunorky. I am sure there is some lesson in here about gluttony or patience. Perhaps some lesson about moderation. I am not going to flesh that out. Why did I write this...well it is Friday and who does not love a good camp story. Sometimes you need to laugh at yourself and know that life is funny! Even life eating tunorky!
I met my husband later in life. I was 45 when we married. This is my first and only marriage. I always thought I would follow the Christian path. Go to Christian college...meet guy...be engaged by senior year....marry the summer after graduation. That was not the plan laid out for me. As years went by and countless bridal showers, weddings and BABY showers I figured my time had come and gone. I didn't really fit in church as the older single Christian. I threw myself in ministry. I spent countless summers working at a Christian camp running their beach. Winters I would run program for their weekend winter camp. Busy...busy...busy. But I had a purpose. I do not regret any of it. Now fast forward and here I am 3 years married with a 6 year old foster kiddo. Doing life. Sitting at my desk while my students were outside I get a call that I have a special delivery. Thinking it was my book order I go down and find a lovely flower arrangement sent from my husband. A simple reminder that he is thinking of me. A gentle whisper from God that He is faithful and his timing is perfect! Each one has their happily ever after...just our "afters" all look different. Embrace where your road it taking you!
We all know her. That perfect mom. That mom that ALWAYS comes in looking perfectly coiffed. Her hair is never out of order. Her outfit is perfectly matched right down to her accessories. Her children are clean and well behaved. They have manners. They are just a adorable as she is. Matching outfits at times. Outfits...like things bought together...not just clothes pulled out of a drawer. We are not talking mix and match. We are talking this is an OUTFIT and can only be worn as an outfit. Not a wrinkle in her outfit nor on her face. A smile that will light up the room. Eyes that look like they sparkle and have gotten no less than 9 hours of peaceful rest. The mom who packs her kids a healthy balance of organic snacks with just the right amount of locally baked gluten free perfections. This mom never has bad breath nor coffee stains on her teeth. The mom that makes every holiday party look like a best of the best for Pinterest. Never forgets a birthday party, book club order, bake sale, sports meeting nor permission slip. The kind of mom that makes the entire class full of other mom's look like cave trolls. Along with her perfect children is her perfect husband. Comes to every sporting event even thought he works full time. Never misses a parent teacher conference. Handsome. Friendly. The woman has it all. Can can see her in your mind? Right? Pulls up in her perfectly clean car. Happy. Happy? Happy? Could you be happy in a life of perfection? First of all NO ONE has it all together. Let's just give each other a break. Even if such a mom exist they are far and few. Don't compare yourself. You will have days of greatness and other days when you are lucky to walk out of the house and not be picked up the local fish and game thinking you are Sasquatch roaming about. Even the perfect mom has been there. Let yourself off the hook! There are times when my little girl will drink organic milk and have organic gummies in her lunch. There are other times when we are so busy the van is full of Wendy's to go bags. I am talking crumpled up bags of red smiling girls in all direction! (In my head I prefer Wendy's because it is fresh never frozen...how's that for justification) Life is to short to compare yourself with other moms. They are not in your shoes. They do not have your family. Your situation. This is NOT high school where you have to be in homeroom with the pretty girl. You are YOU! You are created to be just who you are. So pull yourself out of your minvan, mini coop, beater box car, Volvo and present your kids for who they are. Smile at everyone because it just makes good sense. Encourage that mom dragging a screaming child carrying a sleeping baby who looks like she has not slept in 8 years. Say hello to the pretty mom who seems to have a perfect life. It can be lonely living in perfection. To the new mom who knows no one introduce yourself. Sit next to her at the next parent meeting. Remember you were the new mom once. Above all else stop the gossiping (which we all know goes on in the pick up line). If you can't say anything nice keep you lips sealed on your starbucks coffee cup! Can you imagine what the world would look like if all moms encouraged each other instead of compared? Find something good in every mom. Even that young mom that has 3 kids from 3 different men. Find something nice to say and if you can't find something nice, be silent and offer a smile. I am sure she has heard all those whispers behind her back and have seen the nasty glares. A smile will cost you nothing. For the love of all please just be nice. Not perfect. Nice. Be real. Be genuine. Be someone other mom's look to. Not because you are perfect, because you are kind. Raise kind children. Buy organic or don't buy organic. We won't judge. Swing by Wendy's...your secret is safe with me. I will see you in the pick up line....I will be the one with soda spilled on my white shirt.
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Here it is a new baby...not the kind bundled in a blanket all pink and yummy smelling...a new baby as in a new adventure. I am putting thoughts to ink...well...ok not ink per say but to computer. This will be a journey for us all. A journey of life. Life from my view. I love the water. As a guard I spent many years out of the water watching others swim. Watching kids play. Watching parents parent. Watching. Waiting. Learning. Now I am on a journey of adoption through foster care. A journey of being a wife. A journey of managing working as a teacher and still maintaining my sanity when I come home. I don't have all the answers but gosh darn it part of the fun in the journey is in the not knowing. So put on your sun screen and bring your flip flops because here we go!