Friday, January 30, 2009

The kindergarten wisdom.

I'm in a huff today for sure. UGHHHHHHH. I got up early today with plans to get out the door and run some errands. I've had this in mind for soooo long, and can't quite get out the door fast enough. So I made up my mind to NOT BE DISTRACTED today. I only have two hours to get across town and back which eats up almost 40 minutes of that time and I have a major list. Tick-tock, hear the clock.

I was dashing out the door and my phone rang. Its my neighbor. The neighbor who will drop anything she is doing and come running when you signal for help. Her son had forgotten his shoes at home. Could we run to her house and pick up his shoes and drop them at the school? Yes. Tick-tock. I throw Rick a rescue me look and he says he will go and do it. I grab her house key and write out the instructions for him and leave. I throw the truck into reverse and look back to see the garbage can squarely behind me. Shoot. Get out, drag it up to the garage. Turn to get in truck and see recycling bins precariously perched in the snow by the truck... shoot again. Tick-tock, hear the clock. Finally make it out of the driveway. Am about to turn onto the main road, look back for cars and see the boys favorite little wagon lying on the bike path tipped over in danger of rolling in the street. UGH. Call Rick who doesn't answer. Make mental note to rescue wagon for boys upon return home.

Get to Target. Start looking for Emetrol. Seriously cannot find it. Tick. Ask for help. Nobody seems to be able to locate it. Wait for pharmacist. Stumps him too. Tock. What to do? He'll order it, COOL. 10 minutes later as I am zooming down the aisles am startled to have pharmacist come running after me. More discussion. Emetrol, who needs YOU! TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK! Make mental note to kill the clock.

Dash out the door with exactly 20 minutes left to get home before the Kindergartener does. Load heavy items into car. Smugly feel like I may have pulled it off... tick? tock? Pull into driveway as bus pulls around the corner. Unload truck, greet Kindergartener. Go look for wagon. Favorite little wagon no where to be found. Check everywhere, watch crestfallen boy go inside as no wagon is found. Go inside. Will give favorite purple G6 gatorade to son to cheer him. Begin looking for gatorade and suddenly flashback to image of gatorade perched on bottom of cart at store. Call store. Yep, would I like to come pick it up? %&^%$#!

Kindergartener looks at me and calmly says, "just take a deep breath, everything will be okay." Sigh... make new mental note... need to purchsase, Emetrol, Gatorade, 1 red wagon and new clock.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Terrible Towel.

Guess what arrived in the mail today? A package for our all things Pittsburgh related boy sized fans! And inside? Two of Myron Cope's Terrible Towels. They're famous you know... but in case you didn't here is what Wiki has to say:

The Terrible Towel is a gimmick associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers, an American football team in the National Football League (NFL). Created in 1975 by then Steelers radio broadcaster Myron Cope, the Towel has since become "arguably the best-known fan symbol of any major pro sports team".[1] Since its invention, The Terrible Towel has spread in popularity; fans take their Towel to famous sites while on vacation. The Towel has been taken to the peak of Mount Everest and seen on Saturday Night Live. It is widely recognized as a symbol of the Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh.[2][3]
Proceeds from sales of the Towel have raised over US$2 million for a Pennsylvania school which cares for people with mental retardation and physical disabilities. The Terrible Towel is credited with being the first "rally towel" and its success has given rise to similar products promoting other teams.[4] Numerous versions have been produced; all are black and gold in color with the words "Myron Cope's Official The Terrible Towel" printed on the front.

Those towels have gotten a work out. Young boys don't really require much of an explanation of what they are supposed to be used for. So they've been waved and flapped and wrapped around and thrown on the dog and well, you get the picture.

There was a note inside too. Here is what is said:

Nolan and Colton

We thought you could use these
during the Superbowl. If you don't
like Pittsburgh, maybe your mom
could use them in the kitchen
to wash and dry the dishes.

Have fun,
Uncle Lee and 4 Hershey kisses

Thanks Uncle Lee and Aunt Kelly and Madi and Alex! The boys are super excited for the game. They went to the store with their dad just to buy stuff for chili on Sunday. And now they have everything they need.

And the reference to the washing and drying dishes? Flashback a few years with me. Chief dishwasher here. Chief dish dryer, Uncle Lee. And that sink sprayer? In our house it meant only one thing! Prepare yourself for battle, fastest draw wins!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Colton, show us how you wink.

Because sometimes I just need a good laugh and thought perhaps you could too. And if that doesn't at least give you a chuckle go read Olive Plant's post about the prayers of her children!

Blue and Yellow

I just don't have a creative life force flowing through me at the moment. I've started and deleted more stuff than I care to think about. The winter "blahs" have taken their grip on so many people I know. This doesn't mean that I am sad or upset or even frustrated... just a little on the less than enthusiastic side. I'm not alone.

My neighbor called me over for tea the other day. I laughed when I arrived and she said she had no tea, or really anything to go with tea, but she DID want company. She was tired of the still white walls in the lower level of her house, that reminded her of the still white sea of white that we live in. I laughed when she mentioned wanting to paint the walls blue and yellow. We are kindred spirits in our quest for all things outdoors and sunny and boy-proof. She didn't blink the day she invited us over to enjoy the new inflatable pool she bought that first summer we moved in... and the boys delighted in... filling it with rocks and sand. I knew we would be fast friends.

And while she and I laughed over stories of summer, our boys were busy outside. Winter has nothing on them. It was a high of -7, and there they were, building another snow fort. With rosy cheeks and teamwork and their little wagon that has become their little engine that could. Even Colton, who took a hockey stick to the face in the shooting room at hockey, and has a big nasty looking scrape on his face, insisted on being outside. They stop for hot chocolate every now and then, and to wave at all the people driving by admiring the massive beauty of their snow fort. Secretly, I wonder sometimes if the people driving by aren't more amused with the kids willing to play outside when its -7. In the five minutes I stood out there taking pictures, my fingers were numbing quickly and aching with cold and I didn't hesitate running my wimpy little behind back inside. I was momentarily sustained with imaginary tea and sweets with a kindred spirit and our now blue and yellow colored winter blahs.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Writing on the Wall.

I've been looking back to look forward these days. I get a sense for that saying that goes if you want to know where you are going, just look back at where you have been, or something to that effect. We've been sorting, purging and rearranging throughout our house. One of the things that I put away for a rainy day was oodles of pictures that have been stashed all over the house. I went as far as labeling the time frame they came from, but that is it for organization. I put the thought in my head that someday I would have time to properly organize and sort them. It seems now is the time. The kids have had a glorious time looking back through the photos with me.

As the boys looked at the top two pictures I explained these were taken at the hospital I used to work at and that this was my classroom of sorts. I was hired as an Education Director for the Adolescent unit at Canyonview Psychiatric and Addiction Services. But an MS in Psychology enabled the staff to use me for a variety of positions. I did everything from nursing groups and symptoms management to nutrition groups to group therapy.

And while I had a skill set that I brought to the job, I lacked so much in experience. I probably looked as scared as I felt the first few days. Months later I learned the staff had all taken bets as to how long I would last! The man who I was replacing while being a wonderful person with lots of knowledge to impart had no idea how to manage the patients behaviors first. I followed him around for three days and came up with the only plan I could figure out based on what he showed me he did. I figured out I had to be nothing like him! While he was convinced it was a hopeless situation, I wanted the kids to feel hope. Where he saw lack of respect from the kids, I demanded it. He told me he kept waiting for the staff to come and tell him what to do. I decided I would just do and wait for the staff to tell me if I shouldn't do it.

One of the first few weeks I encountered a cleaning woman grumbling to herself as she scrubbed at a few patches on the wall. As I approached I could see she was trying to get curse words off of the wall. She told me it was a constant battle and that they had just recently repainted the whole wing because of the graffiti the kids put everywhere. An idea slowly brewed in my head. 

In the morning goal setting group the kids would often sit and write or doodle. We had great art supplies and some of the kids were so talented. Since there was already so much profanity in the classroom on the partitions between the desks, I decided one day to let the kids try to cover up the words with some of their artwork using oil pastels. I told them it had to be a positive and appropriate message. I was not only blown away with how quickly the walls were transformed, but also by the inviting nature of the look. It quickly evolved into a privilege the patients could earn for being respectful, following my rules, and not writing on the walls of the hospital!

In looking back what I hadn't counted on was remembering so many of the stories behind each of the art doodles. The boy that made the sunshine had a bad "acid trip". He went from being an honor student to having to be reminded of his name, over and over again. He completely "fried" the wiring of his brain. But he has such a great spirit and had suddenly discovered he could draw. The rainbow was drawn by a girl who was the daughter of a celebrity. She worked up the courage to tell her father that she would have traded the riches for more time with him while growing up. She double whammied him when he told her she didn't need to keep seeing her doctor after she was discharged and she said SHE DID. That rainbow STILL brings a smile to my face. And the stories are so numerous and varied I could go on for days.

When I finished telling the boys what they could absorb, Nolan wanted to know why I quit working at the hospital. The very next picture pretty much tells the whole story. This was taken the night before I was induced with Nolan. I worked up until the day before my labor was induced and then I never went back. I told the boys I had new "stories" I was working on, and they were called Nolan and Colton. Colton smiled. And Nolan said, "no fair, at least your other kids got to WRITE ON THE WALLS!" Which pretty much gives you a glimpse of the story of Nolan.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jack Frost

We woke up this morning to fog and I wasn't as quick on my feet as I would have liked. Knowing that along with fog and temperatures hovering around the freezing mark in all likelihood we may have trees dripping with sparkly, shimmery, frosty goodness. They had started to melt by the time the fog rolled out. I hope I didn't scare the neighbors. I went out on the back deck with my slippers and jammies and balanced precariosly on a chunk of compacted snow to snap these few photos of the trees in the back yard. I love the empty bird's nest in the middle picture. The sparse twigs covered in a blanket of snow waiting the arrival of warmer days and the return of the robins. A little remnant of hope in the midst of a long winter.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wild for Nashville.

Anita over at Mud and Coffee did a fun post today which you can find here about a brush with fame that she had. Because she lives in the Nashville area running into Roy Acuff while definitely exciting, isn't a stretch of the imagination.

Rick and I had a very different kind of brush with fame on a smaller scale while in Nashville, although it was HUGE in our world. On our way to visit Rick's brother and wife and to meet our niece Mackenzie for the first time, we stayed the night in Nashville. We stayed at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel by Vanderbilt University our first night. With just a couple of hours to spare before we got back on the road, we stopped at the Parthenon for a look around. according to the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County website, "The Parthenon stands as the centerpiece of Centennial Park. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals. Originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, this replica of the original Parthenon in Athens serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture." It was of course closed at the time of our early morning visit and we so badly wanted to see inside.

After a few jam-packed delightful days with Mackenzie and her mom and dad we headed back to Minnesota again stopping in Nashville on the way home. Hot-wire on this night afforded us a room right across the street from the Capital building.

One of the sometimes drawbacks we have discovered is not knowing for sure if we will have our choice of rooms. When we arrived at the Hilton, much to the dismay of my extremely height-phobic husband, we discovered our room was on a very high numbered floor. The movement of the glass elevators as they seemingly swayed and shuddered their way up to our room, did not help matters. But what we were about to discover outside our hotel on a quick walking tour of our surroundings more than made up for it.

We discovered we were within walking distance of both the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium. Having limited time, Rick took some photos and we moved on. Rick has something else on the agenda for the boys who had been at home with Grandpa and Grandma Westra. The Sommet Center is the home of the Nashville Predators, an NHL team. We knew the boys would be thrilled with a souvenir. So we went inside and discovered the pro shop wasn't going to be open for awhile. Rick in the meantime chatted with the security guard whose first question was if we were from Canada... cause only the Canadians get super excited for a tour of the ice. He figured Minnesota was pretty darn close to Canada so he shook his head and led us inside.

On our way out we happened to ask who the Predators were playing. One of the other workers told us it was the Bluejackets from Columbus. As we were leaving we noticed what appeared to be NHL players arriving for their morning skate. They were standing around, chatting in small groups and completely by themselves. And here is where our story gets interesting.

I told Rick he should ask if we could take a picture with them to bring back for our boys. Our little boys would be so excited that we saw real NHL players... they wouldn't care which team they were from. So we approached them and Rick said "excuse me, would you take a picture with my wife?" In which they said sure. And then he asked "Are you NHL players?" They nodded yes. And then he asked "With the Bluejackets?" They froze. With fallen faces they shook their heads no... They were in fact from MINNESOTA... and they were none other than the our own NHL franchise team the MINNESOTA WILD!!!! The look on their faces when they realized we were happy with that answer was priceless. Cause here's the kicker. If you were to try and get within a block of them in Minneapolis MN where they play, you would be doing good. They are so revered and idolized by not just our kids but most any Minnesota hockey loving family that its a mob scene whenever they are around. Its crazy! But in Nashville they were just ordinary guys walking along the street sightseeing. And were they ever happy to see us! They asked about the weather and loved hearing about our boys. It was our own little piece of home walking about in Nashville. It took all of our willpower not to stay for their game that night. But I have no doubt, we will be back Nashville, perhaps this time with two boys in tow, but we will undoubtedly be back. Lets just say we have more than a little fondness for Nashville!

Mark Parrish #21 Captain of the team and a Minnesota native.

On the left, James Sheppard #15 and on the right Martin Skoula #41

On the left Matt Foy #83 and on the right Aaron Voros.

Eric Belanger #25

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The historical day.

I am an "after the fact" kind of girl. If you want to know what I think about today, um, just give me some time. Words escape me somehow, unable to do a day like today justice. Maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. To just let the events of the day stand for themselves. My job for today is to take it all in and guide two young boys through the whole amazing event and foster the tiniest bit of understanding of the whole inaugural process as well as the significance of today.

I took the boys to see Hotel for Dogs yesterday. Colton has sufficiently rebounded and with the day stretching out before us we took off for the mall despite the slippery roads. If you are an animal and kid lover and can put up with a small share of potty humor, I would definitely go see this movie.

And if you are an animal lover in general perhaps this little video which I viewed here lillyslife will help get you in the mood for today!

In this latest installment of CBS News Assignment America, Steve Hartman visits an animal sanctuary where a dog and an elephant have formed a very lasting, and unusual, friendship.

Monday, January 19, 2009

This one's for the girls...

I've seen this pop up in a few places and thought it was worth sharing.  Between sick kids, and no school for a few days, I am woefully short on blog time!  Enjoy and share if you like!  

Transcending: Words on Women and Strength by Kelly Corrigan

On the mend

While not his cheerful self, as of 8:30 pm this evening, still no fever today. We were extra cautious and did not allow him to play in his hockey game this afternoon.  I thought this series of pictures kind of summed it up well.  He wouldn't look at me at first.  But I caught him peeking at me, not being able to stand my silence.  And then he offers the faintest glimmer of hope that he is coming back to life.  Playfully, he mimics me, and goes to take my picture with the lens cap.  His thumb, hiding the tiniest smirk on his mouth.  

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sick Bubba Jack

Colton came home from school on Tuesday irritable and whiney. Not his typical demeanor at all. He decided to go and play in his room and when I couldn't hear him I went to check on him. He had crawled up on his bed and fallen asleep. Two hours later he was still sleeping. Finally he got up. His face was flushed and he said he was hot. I took his temp and it was 103. I gave him some Motrin. During the night he woke up and came running to our room crying. "I'm all sweaty everywhere!" Hurray, I thought. The fever broke. We decided he should stay home from school in the morning. Wednesday he seemed better. By late afternoon Wednesday, his fever was back. Wednesday became a repeat of Tuesday. Thursday repeated Wednesday. And Friday the fever that came was 104. Today we took him to the doctor. He had a normal temperature. She checks him over and says she can't find an obvious reason for the fever. It must be a virus. And since he didn't wake with a fever, he may be turning the corner.

After a normal rest of our day I happened to pass Colton in the hall. Cheeks flushed, glassy eyes. 102. Hmmmm. Any mommy warriors care to jump in on this one? I waver between thinking its just a fever, to its a fever that has come back 5 days in a row now... Of course Colton's take on the whole thing left us doubled over in laughter, He calmly stated "Hmm, I guess I'm NOT going to die. Thats good!"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The same wavelength

I've kidded with Sara before that sometimes we think alike or that our ideas move in the same direction. After reading her cute post today I Hate Being a Penguin I went to check the mail. Would you just look at the cutest surprise we got in the mail? How could I not show them off. We sent our nieces Madi and Alex, gift cards to the American Doll store. And these were their thank-you notes. Madi did the top two, and Alex made the bottom one. Thank you girls for your pretty art work and kind words! Happy New Year to you as well! Your timing was perfect.

We've been in the midst of an Alberta clipper that has most of northern Minnesota in its firm grasp. We even started school two hours late this morning. I think the idea is for it to warm up a bit before we send the kids off to school. But sadly today, warming up amounted to a 7 degree difference, from a low of -29 to a downright balmier -22 currently :) The crazier part is the weather that is forecast for this weekend. We're supposed to have a high somewhere in the 30's! That is almost a 100 degree difference in the span of a couple of days. It'll be like early spring around here. You will literally see short sleeves and sneakers out and about. And smiles. Lots of cheery people freed from the oppressively cold weather and the confinement that accompanies it.

The boys wanted to be sure the "car was parked inside."  You know, protect it from the elements.

And they really hope to get back to "construction" soon on their snow forts. They at least got one of the really must have features finished. The chair. Never mind the roof, cuz what good is a snow fort without a place to rest from all of your "hard work?"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No losers here.

It was jamboree weekend for the boys hockey team this weekend. Rick took photos of a couple of games. He gave me all 500 images... each at full resolution. He smiles when he hands them to me knowing I'll have to go through, pick my favorites and then knock them all down in size to be able to post them.

Typically we don't keep score at our games yet. But they have started these jamborees to give the players a chance to experience what it will feel like to play in a game one day. Not only did they skate all the way up and down the ice, but the music was turned on (loud) and there were mini-refs on the ice learning the game from an official angle and calling off-sides on our rather confused kids.

In the coaching circles a lot of strategy comes into play. With the excitement and energy ramped up, the expectations rise too. The players learn that victories have a sweet taste to them and make you hunger for more. And for Nolan's team they learned that losing just plain feels bad. My heart hurt a bit when Nolan told me his thoughts at the end of the tournament. "Mom" he said. "I was just trying so hard. I kept telling myself to do more. But I didn't know what that was? Do you know what I can do?"
I was a little silenced by the weight of his questions for an 8 year old. We always say he isn't listening to us. Not only was he asking us thoughtful questions, he was telling us he was ready to listen to our responses.

I told him maybe taking last place and losing 3 out of 4 games was just meant to be, regardless of hard work. Sometimes luck plays a role too. And lots of things we can't control. But as long as he believed and worked hard, he would win at some point. Plus, maybe there was a really big win in his future. But that the only way to find out was to keep trying hard. We also had a good chat about how when he is older, it won't be the winning and losing he remembers nearly as much as the fun and the friendships. I was on a little bit of a soapbox when I realized my little hockey player had drifted off to sleep.

Finding the big stick.

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

When I was in graduate school studying to be a School Psychologist, one of the best pieces of practical advice we received was this... Speak softly, but carry a big stick. Our professor prepared us for this. He said when we would be attending an IEP meeting with our clients all the experts gather around a table and each one gets to speak. You walk into your first meeting and as a 25 year-old- newly-graduated School Psychologist, you are the so-called "expert." You'll have more training and classroom education than most in the room. But what you will quickly discover, is that everyone else has more experience. They know the odds you face. They have many more years at stake. They've been there, done that. They've been living it, as you've been reading about it. And now, they are supposed to look to you for the answers. And you have to figure out how to make them listen.

Because you have the data and knowledge and skill to help them. Thats what all of this coursework has been about. Now you just have to figure out how to not talk down to them, to not condescend or make them tune you out. I suggest you do this instead.

Listen. To them. Observe. Admire what they do right. Remember you are all here for the same reason. And then when its your turn. Speak carefully. Speak only about what you know. Fall back on your training. Make practical recommendations. If you want them to implement your suggestions, they have to be able to do so. While most students will benefit from more instruction or time or practice, etc., what teacher truly has the time to implement such an idea? So instead, the suggestion to pair a student struggling with reading with the student who excels at reading is perhaps more easily carried out by the teacher with limited time to take on more. I remember thinking, Aha, this is the "big stick."

Our professor showed us over the course of his class, that by listening more, and learning the process ourselves, no matter what our age, we would earn the respect of others. This little tidbit has served me well time and time again, in all facets of life.

Including now. I want you to know I am listening. To all of you. Lately, everywhere I go someone is speaking to me. The sticks are swinging for the fences. I am in awe of how powerful and mighty some of them are becoming. It has occurred to me that perhaps I'd do well to just shut up and listen at times. Not because I don't have something to say, but because I do. I'm just still in the process of finding my big stick.

UPDATE: My friend Bonnie, who just happens to be a Sociology and U.S. History teacher at our local high school provided me with some context for the saying "Speak softly but carry a big stick." I thought I would share her words with you:

"Okay, here is a little history lesson from Mrs. Stafford.
Teddy Roosevelt said that statement in reference to becoming an imperialist nation. Much of Europe controlled colonies all over the world. He felt that to 'get ahead' in respect to becoming more powerful, we should "speak softly, but carry a big stick." In other words, quietly become powerful, grow our weapons, military, occupy territories, etc, so that the rest of the world would take notice and ultimately not want to be messed with. Building the Panama Canal was one thing we did. Unfortunately for him, the following two Presidents didn't agree with his sentiment. Then WWI took place which changed things. It wasn't until WWII that we became a 'super power.' "

I love having friends who know things! Thanks Mrs. Stafford!

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's here!

For some reason my head felt like it was in a vice a good share of last week. What with snowstorms and blizzards appearing every few days its no wonder. So when this delightful package came in the mail I can't begin to tell you what joy it brought to me! This is the canvas that I won from Sara over at Gitzen Girl . It is resting on my computer stand and the colors really pop against the yellow wall flanked by the red wall in my kitchen. As if the colors aren't enough to get you excited the message walked right into my heart the first time I saw it. "It's not what you gather but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived." Can I just say, Sara has beautiful handwriting which really completes the whole canvas. I'm not sure why I was so lucky to be the name that picked out of the 20-30 blog peeps that entered each day? I just know I showed up each day believing I COULD win, not that I WOULD. I also know the true "prize" is waiting for me every day I show up at Gitzen Girl... the blessing of her message through her words and her spirit are the real gift. Truly the only thing that tops reading her blog every day is this little piece of her that I can see and touch every day. It brings me joy beyond measure to have my own little handcrafted canvas from Sara. Thank-you!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Learning to Let Go

                                                        Skating Lessons...

Its one of those things they don't tell us as parents. "They" being the ones who have gone before us in the parenting journey. They tell us childhood goes by quick. They warn "one day you are changing diapers and the next day you are waving good-bye as they go off to college..." You expect those goodbyes. The move to another town, perhaps, or another state. The driver's license, the cell phone, the first sleep over. Really though? It comes way before all of those. And it comes in much smaller ways. Important nonetheless, just smaller.

I was privileged enough to watch my cousin's 3-year-old take to the ice for the very first time. When its your own child, you sometimes get so caught up in the unfolding events, you forget to really watch. To pay attention. So it was a true honor to be there and get to see the nuances of how it happens. True to most hockey players in the making Keenen just couldn't wait to get out there and go. His feet were going in all different directions... and his teacher was there to hold him as he would be about to go down. He did fall a few times. But she wasn't far behind him and soon he'd be in her grasp again. She'd help him achieve balance and they'd march along. And the rest of us were there watching, cheering from the side lines. And then it happened. HE LET GO... and as I clicked with the camera while holding my breath... he stood there alone. And the look on his face? Complete self-satisfaction. He did IT. He let go. And he discovered he was okay. And none of us had to go charging out there to rescue him. He was perfectly safe. And in that brief moment, I realized I just witnessed a HUGE lesson. The willingness to let go. And know you are going to be okay. As parents, its part of our job. To teach them its okay to let go. I forget sometimes the beauty of letting go. In that brief moment a lesson was learned. It just took me awhile to realize, Keenen wasn't the only one to learn the beauty of letting go that day. I was lucky enough to learn right alongside of him.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sprucing it up

That blog list in my sidebar is looking a little... dated perhaps? Every one of those friends/family has good reason to not be here everyday updating. And without several of those people, I wouldn't even have discovered blogging, or made so many blog friends. I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. But I am beginning to sense that blogs and blog communities aren't static.

Already in the few short months I have been here, I've witnessed two blogs close. One was a fellow Minnesotan mom who wrote one day that in between church services her husband left her. And she was such a gentle and kind spirit and had developed a special following of people. Within weeks she had to put her house on the market, find full time day care for all three very small children and get a job! One day I clicked over for the last time... poof, she just disappeared. I still tried to go back... I still miss her. The other blog is just closed until further notice... but we all fear the writing is on the wall... instead of on her blog... as many of us have come to know and love. And my little regret? Before she suddenly disappeared, I should have spent a little more time telling her I appreciated her words and her stories and her heart... and her.

So how about a little bloggy love? From me to you. One of the ways I love learning about blog friends is by looking at who they read and who inspires them and where it might be just plain fun to go and hang out. With that in mind... how about if we freshen it up a little? I love all the usual suspects and over the course of time I have discovered a few other ones all on my own.

So check out these blogs. Each one has a story to tell. Many will give you places to go to start at the beginning. You'll laugh or you'll cry... or make a friend. Some may use curse words : ) Some would just like to... But you can agree or not. Stay or go. But if you really, really like them, or their stories, or their cute dog, or whatever... You should tell them. Blog rolls change and grow. So do blogs... and bloggers. Hopefully they don't just one day disappear.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why Hockey Players are Special

Why hockey players are so special. . . . In the middle of a grueling
six game road trip where a very young hockey team is away from home,
the third game of the trip ends late on a cold Canadian Saturday night.
This is the only break on the trip and the three days between games
allow them the only break to get back home in their own beds for a
couple of days before going back on the road. A scheduled commercial
flight waits for them at Toronto's International Airport for the short
flight home; they could be home by midnight. This plane departs
on schedule, but without a single member of the hockey team. Back in
the locker room a vote is taken after the game was complete, and a
unanimous decision is made by this young team to skip this flight and
stay one more day.

They make arrangements to check back into the hotel and on a frozen
Sunday morning charter two buses that have no heat and begin a journey
two hours straight north into a sparsely inhabited Canada, but where
hockey is its passion.

They arrive at their destination to the surprise of the teams General
Manager who is there attending his father's wake.

After a few emotional hours, this team boards the buses and heads back
for a two-hour trip back to Toronto. On the way they ask the drivers
to stop in a tiny Canadian town because they are hungry. To the shock
of the patrons and workers at this small hockey town McDonald's, a
professional team walks out of two rickety buses and into the
restaurant, which just happens to have pictures of two members of this
team on its wall. The patrons know every single one of these players
by sight being fanatic fans of hockey in these parts. One can only
imagine the amazement of the locals seeing an entire professional
hockey team sit down and have a meal in their tiny little town in the
middle of a hockey season.

After a while they board the buses and catch their same flight 24
hours later, giving one day to their General Manager.

This true story of the Chicago Blackhawks last
Saturday night when they decided to attend Dale Tallon's father's
funeral. Its amazing that such a good story can be found nowhere on
the internet, and not even mentioned in the Chicago newspapers. Had one
of the Blackhawks got into a fight and punched some drunken loser in a
Toronto bar it would be plastered all over papers and
the television. This being said, its hard to imagine any professional
football, basketball or baseball team doing this, but the members of
the Blackhawks claim any "hockey" team would have done this. This is
one reason I continue to be a big hockey fan, and another reason I am
excited about this Chicago team. I thought I would share as this story
appears to have gone unnoticed.

Adam Burish & Kathy Jecmen GOAL LINE

I received this in an email from my good friend Amy. As I sat watching the 2009 NHL Winter Hockey Classic on New Years Day, I heard Brian Williams provide the voiceover for this very story. I had considered that Dale Tallon would be moved by this gesture from his team. What I hadn't considered was the impact on his eighty-year-old mother. It seems she too is a huge fan of the Blackhawks, but is unable to travel anymore. And she even has a favorite player, Patrick Kane. Much to the surprise of the players she knew each and every one of them by name as they came to pay their respects. Coach Tallon shared that he couldn't have imagined a more perfect respite from grief for his mother than those couple of hours she spent with those players.

And we have a local tie to one of those players. The captain of the Blackhawks in none other than Jonathon Toews who we watched play for the University of North Dakota. Considering he is all of 21 or 22 years old, we're proud of how he continues to lead his team, both on and off the ice!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Schwan's Cup Tournament

Can you guess what happened just minutes before we left for the hockey tournament last week? It seems that there was a rough game of hockey going on in the basement. And Colton got a stick to the leg or foot. He was crying and sobbing and daddy took him to the locker room (translation: bathroom) to blow his nose. Now this next part? Pretty much only would happen to Colton. I walked into the bathroom just as I saw blood pouring from his face. I instantly thought, oh no, he caught a stick to the face, not his leg like I thought... but I couldn't have been more wrong. In typical Colton fashion, Rick went to wipe his nose AND HIS TOOTH CAME OUT! Who knew just by blowing your nose you could lose a tooth?

Of course Colton had to call and tell Grandma before we could leave.

We arrived at our hotel after the first hockey game. Our high school team lost 3-0 to the number 2 ranked team in our state. Its a hard loss, but it softens it a little when you realize how good that team was. Since we stayed in St. Paul, (the capitol of Minnesota in case you don't know :), I shouldn't have been so surprised to open our curtains and see the capital building only a couple of blocks away. But just as I stepped out into the snow on the balcony, the lights on the capitol building went out! Poof! It was instantly dark and I had to check inside the room to make sure the power hadn't gone out. So yeah, one quasi-shot was all I got.

We had some time on our hands the next morning and of course we woke up to MORE SNOW. Its an odd kind of phenomenon, but the Minneapolis/St. Paul area only about 3 1/2 hours Southeast of us does not get as cold as we do, nor do they get as much snow typically... only when we are there apparently! Nonetheless we headed out to the Science Museum. How fun! The stairs we went up and down were musical. Each step you took triggered a different tone. Climbing the musical stairs was certainly more about the fun than thinking about where you were trying to go. It was actually somewhat encouraged to "play" on the stairs. Some would speed up, some would jump up and down on the same step... and some were really creative and went in groups.

The next two photos were taken at the Mall of America. It seems no matter how many times you go to the mall you cannot do it all. this time we chose to focus on Legoland. They have an area where you can create your own little car and then race your car against others. Then if you keep losing with the car you have designed you can go back and modify it until you find the winning combination. The boys played for almost two hours while Rick and I took turns shopping.

The last three photos were the real reason we went to Minneapolis in the first place. The first one is my little friend Madeline. Her older brother Parker plays hockey with Nolan. She is smart as a whip and she doesn't forget a thing. Plus she always wants to sit on my lap and hold my hand and play games with me! The boys have reached the age where they prefer to be as far away from mom as they can. But when I have such sweetness to keep me company? Oh I at least remember to occasionally look in the boys direction once in awhile : )

The Xcel Energy Center is home to the Minnesota Wild, our professional NHL team. Its quite a thrill for our high school to be asked each year to attend this tournament. Plus, even though I've never been able to attend a Wild hockey game, it isn't hard to sit in the seats and imagine what it would be like. And the 12 dollars we pay for a tournament game versus the 500 dollars for tickets to an actual Wild game, well that makes me smile even more : )

The boys couldn't resist one small purchase. Again, the cost of a Wild jersey, umm yeah, hundreds of dollars. But the cost of a Wild helmet for your webkinz? Hard to argue against 15 dollars.

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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