Friday, September 11, 2015

Thank you NY and NJ

In 1999, we moved to Hoboken, NJ. I cried all the way from the JFK airport to our new home. Jake felt terrible. I had never been more than a 4 hour drive away from my parents. I have also never been so homesick in my entire life.
Jake and I both worked at American Express in Manhattan. Our commute was a ferry ride across the Hudson River from Hoboken to lower Manhattan. My first meeting was in a conference room that looked over the Hudson River with a view of the Statue of Liberty. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Somehow, with a poker face, I made it through the meeting, but the entire time kept thinking in my head, "how in the hell did I get here?". 
2 weeks after our move to the east coast, I found out that I was pregnant with Daniel. Once Daniel was born, I stayed at home with him. Each morning, we would run along the Hoboken Pier and look out over the river at the city. In the summer, I would sit down there while they mowed (largest area of grass in Hoboken) and with my eyes closed, smelling the freshly cut grass and could almost imagine I was back home. When friends and family came to visit, we would first bring them down to the pier to show them the Manhattan skyline and the Twin Towers. 
We met amazing friends and experienced so much of life while we were there. I finally kind of grew up. I got a little bit tougher. I learned to be a Mom. I met Mom friends. I learned to depend on Jake. Daniel turned into a city baby and could sleep through anything (subways,Times Square, etc). I quickly learned to always carry an umbrella, because when you walk everywhere, you will get caught in the rain. We moved back home in August of 2011. One month before the attacks. I will always be grateful to New York and New Jersey for what they gave me (especially on this day).

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Thoughts and Hand Gestures of a Long Distance Runner

For the past few months, I have been training to run the Chicago Marathon.  I spend hours and miles running alone, almost everyday.  It is therapeutic and agonizing all at the same time.  Two weeks ago, my training schedule required that I run 20 miles.  It was a beautiful fall day and I chose to run around some of my favorite lakes in Minneapolis.  After the run, I posted photos on Facebook and a friend wondered why I had done this run alone.

Eight years ago, I ran the Des Moines Marathon with my friend Melanie Omar.  7 years ago, we ran the Twin Cities Marathon.  Without Melanie, I would not have been able to finish either marathon.  We had been running together on a daily basis for years.  I always ran half a stride behind/beside her.  Her on the left, me on the right.  We would run and run and run and talk and talk and talk.  Our runs were similar to when you are with friends and end up solving the world's problems over a bottle or two of wine. We just happen to solve many problems while running...or at least talking about solutions.  We called it "breaking it down and building it back up".  We ran together so much that we didn't even train for the Des Moines Marathon.  We just signed up two weeks out, went on a few longer runs to prepare and we ran the thing.
Des Moines Marathon
Twin Cities Marathon


The Chicago Marathon will be the first time I will run a marathon on my own.  As much as I wanted to call friends to run with me to help me get through that 20 mile training run, I knew I needed to finish that one on my own. 

So, as I run alone most of the time, I have quite a bit of time to notice things and think about stuff.

Hand Gestures
It is odd running by someone, whether they are running or walking or mowing a lawn or whatever.  You are running past them, feet, if not inches from one another.  You are so exposed to that other person and them to you.  People handle this situation in quite a few different ways.

A very small portion of that population doesn't make eye contact and/or wave.  These are usually the hardcore runners that breeze past me, almost floating along.  Maybe they are concentrating on their form or completely lost in thought.  Sometimes they might throw a slight head nod my way.

I am not so much in that category.  I ramble along, changing form several times in my run, trying to figure out what feels most comfortable.  I have a terrible poker face, so I am not good at not making eye contact or waving.  Many times, I look similar to Forest Gump when he sees Lieutenant Dan for the first time in years (and he ends up jumping off his boat to swim to him because he is so excited).  I think I get it from my Mom.  Last year, my Mom and I were in Germany visiting my brother and we got lost walking around.  My brother knew where we were because his friend happened to ride his bike past us.  He noticed these two women (us) that he just knew had to be Craig's American relatives because we were smiling and waving and saying hello to him and everyone else that walked by us.

The Point
I have noticed that the most popular wave is actually not a wave at all, but the point of one or two fingers.  Very casual, maybe no smile at all, but just a point or a possible peace sign.  This is a challenge for me.  I have to sort of hold back on this one.

The Salute
A few weeks ago, I crossed paths with a man two different times during my run.  Both times he casually saluted me...sort of a top of the morning type gesture.  I was honored and I am sure smiling ear to ear, since the salute was above and beyond the normal point.

The High Five
Another time, I was running toward a fella and he held his hand held straight up.  He held it up for a good half block and had a gigantic smile on his face.  At first, I thought he knew me, but nope...just a really happy guy.  I am sure I had the same huge smile on my face back at him.  How can you not when someone is smiling that big, running right at you.  As he got closer with his hand still up in the air, I was sure he wanted to high five.  I was mentally preparing to high five him, when at the last minute he dropped his hand and ran on by.  Just saying hello.  In retrospect, I wish I would have high fived that guy.  He seemed like he would have been just fine with the high five.  I have a neighbor that recently had surgery and he has jumped back on the horse and is running again.  Whenever I see him coming, I always give him a high five.  I high five him because I think it is awesome that he fought back and is out there again, loving up his run.  The first time it caught him off guard.  Now, when he sees me coming, he knows to be ready for the high five.  His wife recently ran by my house and she high fived ME.  I really think that is fantastic.

The Becky
I have a friend named Becky that I see out running every once in a while.  She is more in my camp, where she can't not wave or say hi.  We usually end up taking a selfie or jumping up and down or doing some sort of a quick dance and then we are on our way again.

Over the past few months, I love hearing a honk and look up to my friends driving by and giving me a smile and a wave.  That always adds an extra spring in my step and big smile on my face.  I am terrible at identifying cars, so I don't always see them first.  Sometimes the honk scares the crap out of me, but that also kicks up my pace a bit.

You are Crazy
One day my friend Andy Lee was at stoplight, quite a few miles from my home.  Andy saw me and smiled and rolled down the window.  I thought he was going to say hello, but instead yelled "you are crazy!"  That one made me smile as I ran down the road.


I think about my friends, like Melanie and Becky that have shared in this love for running with me.  I think of conversations that I have had with my friends when we have been on runs together.  Sometimes I text people if I see them drive by.  Sometimes I answer the phone if someone calls.  I think about my nieces and nephews.  I balance my checkbook and budget in my head.  I usually have really good ideas...some lost, some remembered.  I think about vacations or dinner ideas (some lost, some remembered).  I make up to do lists, almost always forgotten, but somehow motivating to have the time to think up a to do list. I think about old times.  I think about my family.  I organize.  I think about my kids and panic that we are raising them the right way.  Sometimes I think about something funny and start laughing.  Just like crying, it is hard to laugh and run at the same time.  I can get quite a bit sorted out on a good run.

When my beautiful friend Katie McLenaghan reached out and invited me to run the Chicago Marathon as a member of Team Bear , I agreed to run and support the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.  I am so proud to be apart of this wonderful organization.  Katie and I share so much in common, such as roots in Granger, Iowa, Dowling High School, Loras College and a beautiful angel that lost her life to cancer, but will be running with us and watching over us on October 12th.  It just made sense to work with Katie in an effort to help these children and their families battling cancer.

My family has had heartbreak after heartbreak with cancer.  I helplessly watch my friends as their loved ones have battled and continue to battle cancer.  I have really only known cancer among adults and can't ever imagine children dealing with such a thing.  So, as I run this marathon, I will be thinking of these children fighting the battle of their lives.  This will help me finish the marathon.  I will think of their families and how hard it must be to be strong for their children. I will think of my friend Barb, who I have recently gotten to know and how she was one of those parents.  I will think of her beautiful daughter and what a strong, kind and inspiring young woman she has grown up to be. I will think of my friend Mark that just sent me a note letting me know that he is now cancer free.  I will think of my friends Jen, Kathy and Fleming that are getting up everyday and being strong and being positive in the face of cancer.  That will help me cross the finish line.  I will think of my friends that have run alongside me throughout the years and they will be in my heart and on my mind and our past running conversations will keep me going when I want to stop. I will think of Andy Lee and his "you are crazy" and I think that he is right, but compared to those kids and their parents, my job in all of this is easy.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for honking, waving, high fiving, saluting, smiling...all of it.  Let's go fight cancer.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Will be Your Wingman

A few years ago, my Mom and I traveled to Germany to help my brother and his wife, Eva, prepare for the arrival of their baby.  It was during this trip that I found out a few things about my Mom that sort of surprised me a little bit. She is fearless, funny and up for just about anything. Don't get me wrong, it needs to be within the limits of the law and there should be a degree of order to it, but if it is an adventure...she's game.

I've always known that my mom has a very good sense of humor  (I mean...she thinks most of my jokes are funny) and she really does love to laugh.  But, being away with just her really brought out a sort of carefree, wild side of my Mom that I had only seen glimpses of in the past.

It all started in the German countryside when our car broke down and not my Mom, my brother or myself had cellular service.  My brother turned to me and said "well, you are the marathon runner, get out and go find us a gas station."   While discussing what I would say once I found a gas station. (don't speak German), my Mom whips out her Kindle Fire and says, "I'm gonna get my Scrabble on."   Craig turns to me and says "how does she even know to say that!?"  Later I asked her why she was so calm when we had no working car, no phone and we were stuck on an off ramp on the autobahn. She said that it was an adventure and she was happy to have some time with her kids.  Personally, I like to take my kids to Starbuck's to corner them and catch up, but to each his own, right?

Here we are trying to figure out how to get my Mom and my phone service to work. My brother had a phone with cellular service, because he lives in Germany, but it died at about the same time the car died, because he forgot to charge it.

Earlier this summer, I drove down to Des Moines to spend a few days with my Mom while my Dad was on a fishing trip.  We decided we were going to have a ton of fun.  My Mom rattled off a list of places that she had wanted to check out. I was in. I told her that I was her wingman, her "yes man" and for the next few days we would go anywhere she wanted to go and we would document it with selfies.  Throughout the next few days, very kind people would ask us if we wanted them to take our picture. For the most part, we said no thank you, as we were on an exploration of selfie discovery.

I haven't really spent a lot of time driving around Des Moines in the past few years.  I have to say that Des Moines really is a beautiful city, especially if you really get in there and look around with a lady who is up for anything.

Our day started at the Market Cafe in the Gateway Market. My Mom had been wanting to stop there for coffee and check out the scene. So, that is where our adventure began.  Super cute. Great coffee. Healthy, fun food.

With a list of places in mind and no real agenda, we decided to take our coffee buzz on the road and start checking off destinations.  Next up...more coffee.  A few weeks ago, we had passed a cute little coffee shop downtown and decided that would be our next stop.  As we headed downtown, I was SHOCKED to pass by what once had been old buildings was now the beautiful John and Mary PappaJohn Sculpture Park.  Amazing!  Where have I been?  In case you didn't know about it either, you can read about it in the New York Times - right here.

We spent a little extra time at the sculpture garden.

Our next stop, was Scooter's coffee shop in downtown Des Moines.  Great coffee, very friendly employees and a great location to sit out on the sidewalk and people watch.

 As we sat and visited, a bus drove past and I suggested we just get on the next bus.  It struck my Mom as kind of funny and with a snort, she almost spit her coffee on me.  But, within seconds, she regrouped, looked up at me with a glazed, coffee bean induced smile and said "let's go".  So, off we went in search of a bus stop.

On our way to the bus stop, we stumbled upon something that screamed adventure.  Yes, the bus would have been fun, and especially funny with no destination in mind, but what we found next had the open road written all over it.  Freedom, with the wind in our hair.
Of course, my credit card wouldn't work and we had to call the help line, but that was an extraordinarily pleasant experience.  We were told to meet back at the bikes in 1 hour and someone would meet us to help with the credit card machine.  It was kind of weird.  I called a help line and a real live person answered the phone and then told me they would meet me in an help me.  In person.  The best customer service that I had experienced in a LONG time.

With an hour to kill, we ventured down the streets of Des Moines in search of the much talked about Des Moines Social Club.  I live in Minneapolis, but had heard about the Des Moines Social Club's opening through multiple friends on Facebook.  What a very cool concept.  Way to support arts and creativity in Des Moines!
Here we are in front of the Des Moines Social Club.  Look closely and you will see that our friend Cindi, CEO of the Des Moines Social Club, saw us walking down the street and photo bombed our selfie.

After spending some time visiting and looking around, we headed back to meet our guy at the bikes.  As we walked back, we laughed wondering if it would be obvious who was meeting us or if we would have to sort of ask random people if they were our guy.  Well, it was obvious.  Once back we got back to the bike station, there stood our guy with a huge smile on his face.  For the record, it wasn't my credit card, it was the machine.  But, in seconds, the problem was fixed the problem and we were rolling down the street on a set of sweet wheels.  Honestly, I didn't think my 71 year old Mom was going to follow me, but these were the moments of surprise I spoke of earlier.

Our next stop was the Des Moines Botanical Gardens.  No problem, we just had to ride through downtown traffic, cross a bridge over the Des Moines river and make our way toward the plants.  Ok, I was a little concerned that we would fall off our bikes.  I was in for yet another surprise, as we made our way to the river and came up to the bridge. Seriously, the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge!  I had no idea.  Now, that was pretty cool.  We decided to skip the selfie for this one and get a real photo.
A stop on our way to the Botanical Gardens at the John Deere Chinese Pavilion within the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens at the Chinese Cultural Center of America.

I hadn't been to the Botanical Gardens since I was a little girl.  It was warm and tropical and beautiful inside, just as I had remembered it.  This was a definite on my Mom's list of places to visit, as the word on the street was that the restaurant (Trellis), inside the Botanical Gardens is spectacular.  hahah!  Funny enough, it was Monday and Trellis is closed on Mondays.  So, we just drove back and had lunch at Trellis on Tuesday...because it was open.  Yes, it was delicious with beautiful, fresh ingredients.

Well, after biking around the city like a couple of pros and missing out on lunch at Trellis, we were kind of hungry.  Our next stop was La Mie Bakery off of 42nd Street.  DELICIOUS.  I had been there before and was happy to hear it was on our list.  My Mom was so excited to be there that she forgot to put the car in park, so I had to sort of yell at her in the parking lot as the car was in a full roll backwards.  La Mie has patio seating out in back by the parking lot, so everyone got to see that happen.  Once we made our way in and ordered, we joined our new friends outside for a lovely lunch.
 A little sweet treat after a hard day of bike riding, sight seeing and chasing cars?  Ok.  We made a quick stop at our friend Tommy Coleman's cute little candy shop (Beaverdale Confections) in the heart of Beaverdale.  Tommy has everything from Picket Fence ice cream (something new to me), gourmet marshmallows and hand made candies.

Tommy and my Mom whopping it up.  I am more reserved, so I just took the photo (cough).
Since my Dad was out of town and picked fishing over spending time with me while I was in town, we decided to stop at one of his favorite places.  We took this photo and sent it to him immediately to make him sad that we went to Cooney's without him.

Cooney, my Mom and myself (Dad not pictured because he was on a fishing trip)

My Dad also loves George the Chili King, so we stopped there for a photo.  I am not a huge fan of the chili dog, so this is merely a prop.  Because I am not one to waste food, we stopped back by our friend Tommy's and he helped us take care of the chili dog.  I captured his first bite in a photo, but I know better than to post a photo of Tommy taking a huge bite of a chili dog.  My 8th grade photo from Holy Trinity would be floating around the internet within moments.  I like to call my 8th grade school photo "the awkward years".

 We headed back downtown to check out the Gramercy Tap.  Highly recommend.  Very tasty and fun to sit on the sidewalk patio surrounded by the buildings and busy people walking by.

 Because the night was young and so are we (71 and 41), we picked up our friend Mary and headed to Prairie Meadows for slots. It was kind of late, so we took bets on how long it would take to talk Mary into going with us.  We basically called, asked and she said yes.  So, we picked Mary up and hit the slots on a wild Monday night. As you may notice, I have on my new hat that I got at Cooney's (Cooney actually sent it with me to give to my husband, but it has a shamrock on it, so I thought it would be good luck).  It wasn't.
 To prove that my Mom and I know how to stay up late, gambling and carrying on, we documented the time on the clock on her car.
 With a little less steam than the day before (1am is super late for both of us), we were back at it.  We kicked the day off with coffee at Smokey Row. 
 We ended our adventure of Des Moines looking around the East Village and checking out the grounds around the State Capitol. 

Again, just like the Botanical Gardens, I hadn't been to the State Capitol since I was a little girl.  My Grandma used to take us on "field trips" to the State Capitol, always followed by a stop at KFC.  The Iowa State Capitol and grounds around it are so beautiful, especially when you get up close and look around.

What a fun few days with my Mom and what a very fun city to explore.  By far, my favorite moment of our adventure was when my Mom took off on that bike.  Not too shabby for a 71 year young lady!  So, here's to more adventures in our future.  Thank you, Des Moines!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jodi Halverson

My friend Jodi passed away this past week.  She left behind 4 amazing kids, extremely loving parents and an unbelievably enormous fan club.  This lady had reach and she brought her A game to our everyday lives, whether she was roaming the aisles at Super Target, at the neighborhood Christmas party, at work or watching movies at home with her kids.

She was the best audience, because she had a laugh that came straight from her soul.  I felt like the funniest person on earth when I was with her, because no matter what I said, she would laugh.  She had a weird and wonderful sense of humor that quickly bridged the gap between stranger and new best friend with anyone new that crossed her path.  Her laugh was contagious and if you were in the same room with her, you wanted to be close to that laugh. Her laugh made you laugh and pretty soon, you'd have a bunch of people standing around laughing, some not even in on the original joke.

Over the past few years, Jodi and I had grown apart a little bit.  We had moved out of the neighborhood, our kids played different sports and life was busy.  But, even though I didn't see her every day, when I did run into her, she always made me feel like the most important person in the world to her.  In fact, when she died I was shocked to read comment after comment on her Facebook page about how she made people feel.  Where in the world did she find the time to nurture us all, to make us laugh and listen to our problems, with a completely open heart.

Over the past week, my mind continues to circle back to Jodi and the good times.  I think a lot about the early years and trips with our kids to the beach or the pool or the movies...dragging along snacks and diaper bags and everything else. Me, super uptight and Jodi laughing at my rigidness toward parenthood and showing me the ropes on how not to sweat the small stuff.  She threw together HUGE end of the school year parties for the kids, chili on Halloween and every year would gather a small audience and make her kids perform a fashion show with their new school clothes.  She loved her children so much and along with them, their friends.  Jodi was the fun Mom.  My heart breaks for her children, as they not only lose a Mom, but really their best friend.

And, while Jodi was the fun Mom, she was also the fun friend.  She made parties more fun.  She made Super Target more fun.  She made life more fun.

Jodi LOVED my fear of animals. She was an animal lover herself and found my fear completely intriguing and hysterical.  She loved my reaction when a dog would run toward me or a bird would fly too close to my head (probably not all that close).  I would be in the fetal position and Jodi would be next to me, close to peeing her pants because she would be laughing so hard. One night, Jake and I got home from a night out and I walked into our kitchen and my bold ran cold, as a deer was standing on our deck looking in our sliding glass door.  Jodi had borrowed the neighbors deer decoy and dragged it through our neighborhood, into our backyard and up to our deck, so that she could scare me senseless.  She also borrowed a rather large fake owl and placed it on my front porch.  I almost fainted the first time I saw that huge thing sitting on my front porch.  I didn't mention the owl to her for a few days and left it there, torturing her on whether I had noticed it or not.  And, each time I walked past my front window, I would forget it was there and over and over again, scare myself.

Jodi had a unique ability to reserve judgement.  I know it was one of the biggest reasons so many loved her.  If you felt bad about yourself, you called Jodi.  She made you feel better about yourself and the situation.  She never looked down on you and she had a graceful way of building you back up and restoring your sense of self worth.

This week has been interesting thinking about this, as I kept defaulting to "Jodi would want me to..."
Jodi would want me to have another glass of wine.  Jodi would want me to eat a sleeve of girl scout cookies.  Hell no, Jodi would not want me to fold my laundry right now.  That was the best part of Jodi.  Whatever you wanted, well, she thought that was just fine.  What's the hang up?  Life is way too short to be stressed about an oreo cookie.

Over the last few years, whether we were hootin' it up in the dairy aisle at Super Target or if our paths crossed at the occasional neighborhood party, we always parted ways with the promise to get together and share a glass of wine.  Just us.  And, of course, it never happened.

I have been feeling guilty about that all week.  Then yesterday, when I was thinking about her and her life and our inability to go have one glass of wine together, it hit me.  Would Jodi want me to feel guilty about that?  Would Jodi want me to tell you about the fake deer on my deck because it would make you laugh?  Yes.

I heard this song around the time Jodi passed away and now it will always be the song that brings her right back to my heart and mind.  I miss her.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Our Suprise Field Trip Today

Today my kids had the day off from school, so I decided we would go on a field trip.  I didn't tell them where we were going.  I had heard about a fun bookstore in the Linden Hills area of Minneapolis.  It is called Wild Rumpus.  It has animals that roam around the store (like chickens and cats - we only saw the chicken today).  They have a fish tank in the bathroom, a big iguana in a tank and mice that you can watch through a window in the hardwood floors and so very much more.

It was fun not telling them where we were going.  Calvin (my dreamer) watched out the window and about every 5 minutes asked when we would be there.  Daniel (my first born and control freak) kept trying to guess, sure that he knew where we were going. Molly (my rock star) sang along with the radio and just enjoyed the fact that she wasn't home cleaning her room.

I was worried that Daniel would be too old and not enjoy himself.  I had heard about this bookstore and have wanted to take my kids there (before they were too old and too cool).  Daniel is on the fence right now.  He is at that point in his life where he is almost too cool, but the kid that is there in his heart still gets the best of him.

So, we pull up in front of Wild Rumpus (a 35 minute drive from our house) and Daniel and Cal (wasn't expecting Cal to be too cool), were both disappointed that we were at a children's bookstore.  Molly, of course, couldn't wait to get out of the car.  I thought at the very least they would love the name.  Our favorite part of Where the Wild Things Are has always been when Max yells "let the wild rumpus start"!

As I am parking, I go on the defense and explain that this isn't any bookstore and let them know about the animals and their mood starts to change. I can now see that they are interested.  Next, we get out of the car and start walking down a pretty little street and run into the sweetest thing.  I could see on their faces that they couldn't believe that this was just sitting there for anyone to take.  It was a "little library".  It said "Take One. Leave One".  It was so sweet and fun to see and we hadn't even reached the bookstore yet.

Once we got inside Wild Rumpus, Daniel and Cal returned to their super cool selves again...until they saw other super cool preteens, right alongside toddlers looking in aquariums, checking out the bathroom fish tank, casually reading while a chicken peeked out from under a chair.
Molly was just Molly.  She loved it all up.  Every single second of it.  She wasn't too cool for anything.

As we were leaving, Cal asked if we could come again.  I knew he would like all of those animals.  Daniel said he was surprised by how much fun it was.  He found books that he had never heard of before. He said that we should get a chicken for a pet and we can name it Steve. I was so relieved that I had squeaked them in before they were too cool to appreciate what an amazing place this is. The tiny door was also a big giveaway. You can't be too cool AND leave by the tiny door. You can really only use the tiny door with a big smile on your face when you just had a really good time.

As a bonus, we found this guy across the street from the bookstore.  And being on a "that was an awesome bookstore high" and a little bit of a sugar buzz, they were happy to pose with him.  Daniel did panic a bit and told me to hurry up before someone yelled at us.  He is from the suburbs.  When was the last time he got yelled at for posing with a snowman?  I don't know where the panic comes from.  He is first born, I guess.

On our way home, we drove around one of our favorite lakes in the Twin Cities. Lake Calhoun.  I wanted to pull over really quick and get a picture of the kids with downtown Minneapolis in the background.  I pulled over (facing the wrong way along the street, thinking we could jump out and take a quick photo).  Of course, the minute I did this, a police car pulled up.  Daniel's eyes were HUGE (again, the panic).  In fact, the policeman walked up to the car and started laughing because Daniel's expression was so funny.  He kindly told me to legally park before getting out of the car.  We have never had a run in with the law, so that added a little spice to the day.

cover album

You would think that you wouldn't be able to top a Bookstore with live, roaming animals or a police car that turned its lights because of your illegal park job.  It just doesn't seem possible, does it?  Well, it just so happens that peeing in a porta potty in 7 degree weather is completely awesome (to 10 and 12 year old boys).  Their reaction when they saw that porta potty was like they had struck gold.
Calvin waiting his turn to pee in the porta potty.

And, that was our surprise field trip today.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

To the teachers, volunteers and staff of District 279

From the bottom of our hearts we would like to thank you for your time, talent and patience with our greatest and most precious gifts.

We send them off on the first day of Kindergarten… crying (most of the time we are the ones crying), only to see them return, telling us about birthdays and half birthdays and reading cafes and Friday Funday and songs about new shoes and songs about new haircuts and book nooks and the library and seeing eye dogs and much, much more. We hand them over to you when they are little more than babies and you hold their hands and you sing with them and you answer their questions and you teach them. You not only teach them things like math, history and social studies, but you teach them about life. You are their example. Because of how you treat these children…our children…they learn from you to be good and kind people. You are a soft place to fall when they are missing their Mamas or Dads. You help them to be strong when they have had a hard day. They come to know you and love you from seeing you in the hallways, the front office, the lunchroom or the library. They grow to trust you and from that trust, we trust you. We hear about your families and your dogs. We hear about your vacations and your nieces and nephews. We know your favorite candy. We know that you love coffee. We know that you drink tea. We know this because they watch and they listen. They love you. And because of you, our children grow into beautiful young men and women, right before your eyes…and our eyes.
So, from the Principals to the teachers, to the Paras to the volunteers, to the staff and everyone in between at District 279, we are blessed that you are a part of our children's daily lives. We thank you for encouraging and nurturing our leaders of tomorrow.
With great love,
The parents of your students

Friday, September 21, 2012

And When There Was No Crawdads Left, We Ate Sand

The other day, my 10 year old Calvin looked at me with his big blue eyes and asked if it is possible for people to be allergic to glass. I thought he was so cute that he asked such a random question and I pictured some person smelling a glass window and sneezing.  So, sort of giggling to myself said "Wellllllllll....Calvin, I have NEVER heard of THAT".  But then he said, "well, people are allergic to sand and glass is made from sand...".  Oh, I had never really thought of it like that.  So, I said that we should Google it (which has been a very popular response from me from the moment my kids started to question things).
We spend a lot of time discussing and figuring stuff out, from homework to just questions like this one.  He asks a ton of questions.  He thinks of really crazy his invention of foot mints for stinky feet.  In fact, all three of my kids are really curious.  I don't remember being as curious as they are. Maybe I did question things when I was Calvin's age.  Maybe I asked a ton of questions and connected the dots like Calvin does, but I really don't remember.  I remember just really liking art and music.  I loved playing sports.  As I recall, I didn't excel in the sciences.

In fact, when he brought up the fact that people could be allergic to glass because it is made of sand, my mind wandered and I thought of the movie Raising Arizona.
Prisoner: "And when there was no more Crawdads, to be found, we ate sand."
H.I.: "You ate what?"
Prisoner: "We ate sand".
H.I.: "You ate sand?"
Prisoner: "We ate sand."

I am glad that my kids question things.  It keeps me on my toes.

Oh, and I did Google his question and got distracted about “moon sand”, so if someone knows the answer just let me know.