Friday, January 30, 2009

A Boss Moment

You've probably heard the quote:

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."

Well, I had the wind knocked out of me yesterday.


In 1984-85 I was a freshman in high school. I have recollections of riding a school bus a long distance to participate in some activity (I think it was for band). Along the way there or on the ride back home we stopped at a convenience store. While inside I was elated to find a magazine devoted solely to my favorite singer at the time, Bruce.

You remember Bruce in 1984! Born in the USA was at the top of the charts. His Levi-clad butt was on the wall of many love-struck teenage girls in that poster--including mine. (You know what I'm talking about! I still love Levis!) He danced with Courtney Cox in his Dancing in the Dark video making us all so jealous.

I read that magazine from cover to cover on that bus ride. But part of what made it exciting was that I had a good friend that loved Bruce even more than I did. It was fun to share it with him and talk about all of the stories and pictures. He was an expert on "the Boss" and knew much more about the man than I would ever take the time to learn.

When we got back to the school, it was a mad house. I recall placing all of my things together and leaving them (I think it was to call my parents for a ride home. No cell phones back then!) but when I came back the magazine was gone. I was heart-broken. I remember looking for it and thinking that it might have been stolen. But, it was also windy that day so I realized that it could've just blown away. I was furious...and sad.

It's funny that over the years I have thought about this magazine and wished I still had it. It seemed magical to me for some reason--probably because of the enjoyment it gave me in that very short time that I had it.

But time goes on. I still love the Born in the USA album, though now I listen to it on CD. My 13-year old daughter even recently borrowed it from me to upload to her iPod. (It was a proud moment!) Bruce has went on to make several more songs that I enjoy and he holds a very special place in my heart.

I've enjoyed connecting with new and old friends on MySpace and FaceBook. I love technology so I'm pretty darn accessible--virtually speaking. Recently one of my friends, a classmate from high school, asked me to list my top ten songs by Bruce Springsteen. This was a harder task than I thought it would be. I found myself opening my laptop to listen to many of the tunes as I made the decisions. We then had a good time comparing our lists.

We realized as we exchanged comments, news, jokes, and pictures that he occasionally comes to my city for work-related meetings. I insisted that we have lunch sometime when he is here for the day. He agreed to join me--as long as he could buy. Well, yesterday was the day.

I chose a Mexican food place that I like and gave him directions. As I got out of my vehicle, I saw him right away. He hadn't changed much at all--a little older and wiser, I suppose. But he still had the ornery grin I remembered! I gave him a hug and we entered the restaurant to enjoy an hour of catching up.

Both of us were thrilled to report that we had exceptional children and incredible spouses. Life was good, though it had it challenges. Our careers had evolved, our parents and siblings had gotten older, and our faith in God had deepened. I thoroughly enjoyed myself as I listened to his stories and shared my own. The hour went way too fast.

When it was time to go, I followed him up to the counter to tell him "Goodbye" but he surprised me when he said, "Hold on. I have something to give you." Hmmmm... We walked outside and I had to give him another hug. It was just so darn good to see him and realize what a good man he had turned out to be. He reached into the passenger side of the car and pulled out a manilla envelope. As he handed it to me, he said, "Don't open it until I'm gone."

True to my word, I didn't. But as I drove back to work I opened it up and reached in to pull out (you guessed it) that magazine! I laughed right out loud. He was the one that I had shared my excitement with on the bus that day. He was probably the one, also, who had to listen to my disappointment the most when I realized that it was gone forever.

As I read the heart-felt letter that he included with the magazine, I realized that this silly little theft of a magazine when he was a KID had hurt him way more than it ever hurt me. To him it symbolized his own lack of character. I wasn't the only one that had thought about this magazine over the years, it had eaten at him. My laughter quickly turned to tears. It was a crazy mix of emotions for me as I thought about the impact of this small, senseless act.

It's funny to think about the moments in our life that we remember to define ourselves. It's awesome when we get that little window of opportunity to make up for the mistakes of our past. I'm glad that he jumped through that little window. I'm so glad that I was the one on the other side.

If you're reading, thank you so much for the magazine. It means way more to me now than it ever did (or would've) back then.

Maybe you'll be out there on that road somewhere
In some bus or train traveling along
In some motel room there'll be a radio playing
And you'll hear me sing this song.

Well if you do you'll know I'm thinking of you
and all the miles in between
And I'm just calling one last time not to change your mind
But just to say, "I miss you, baby. Good luck. Goodbye, Bobby Jean."

--Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA, "Bobby Jean"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Funny Things My Kids Say: Part 2

I was going through my files today and found this list that I compiled at some point in the past.

When Heath was a little guy…
Me: Old McDonald had a farm. EIEIO. And on this farm he had a
Heath: Pig
Me: EIEIO. With an oink, oink here (etc.) …and on this farm he had a
Heath: Duck
Me: EIEIO. With an quack, quack here (etc.) …and on this farm he had a
Heath: Turtle
Me: EIEIO. With a hmmmmm. Heath, what does a turtle say?
Heath: Cowabunga Dude!

The twins with Grandma Mostrom at age 3 or 4…
Annie: When I grow up I’m going to be a star.
Andy: Well, I’m going to be the moon!

Tana to Casy on the 4th of July at about age 6 or 7 after years of watching the son-in-laws shoot off the potato gun every time they were all in Hugoton…
"I love fireworks day! I love potato day!"

The twins riding with me in the car at age 6…
Annie: When I grow up I’m going to be a veterinarian.
Andy: Annie, you’ll have to eat lots of vegetables!

On the way to the waterpark when the twins were 8…
Andy: Why do we have belly buttons?
Me: (lengthy discussion about the connection of the baby to the mother followed by) Everyone that was born has a belly button.
Annie: So did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?
Followed by silence.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Funny Things My Kids Say: Part 1

I am labeling this with the subheading of "Part 1" because my kids often say things that crack me up. So, I expect to add these often. They are typically short exchanges that I either have with them or that I observe. What great kids I have...

A little background for this one:

I have an addiction that I am battling...with Diet Dr. Pepper. I love it. But lately I've been calculating that amount of money I waste on this vice and I've decided that I need to find some cheaper ways to quench my thirst (and get my caffeine fix).

Andy: Mom, why are you drinking coffee?
Me: Well, I'm trying to drink less pop.
Andy: Oh. I thought you were just getting old.

Inappropriate Behavior

You know how most people sit in the same place, same pew in their church every Sunday? Well, we don't. We try to mix it up a little bit and usually sit in a different place each week. This past Sunday we happened to sit behind a couple that was a bit odd.

While I was intent on the message being delivered by our Pastor, my husband's attention drifted a bit. He noticed the woman lean over to the man and whisper something, then (while I was totally oblivious) she proceeded to hike her right butt cheek and blast flatulence toward her husband. I missed this entire episode! (I need to be sure to compliment my Pastor for an engaging sermon.)

Todd, however, told himself that he surely didn't see and hear what he thought he saw and heard--until the husband leaned back and said, "I'm sorry about that" to the older woman on the other side of Todd. At this point, he knew that he couldn't turn and look at her face or he would totally lose it. I, however, was still completely clueless.

Next, the guy leaned back to me and said, "Sorry about that." Todd was still biting his tongue! The comment broke my concentration from the service but I had no idea why this man was apologizing to me. So, I leaned forward (at this point I know Todd was thinking--"Don't do it! Don't do it!") and asked, "Sorry about what?" He looked at me like he didn't hear what I said, so I asked, "What happened?" (I know Todd wanted to pull me back and tell me to shut up!) The man informed me that "my wife has terrible gas."

I leaned back in the pew with my mind replaying what this man just said. Confused, I looked at Todd but he was staring straight forward because he knew that if he even looked at me he would burst out laughing. I, however, apparently lack this self-control. Everytime I looked at Todd, he would smile but kept looking straight ahead while I convulsed with my silent laughter.

After the service, I think Todd laughed for two days. Of course, he had to fill me in on all of the details that I had missed--which just made the whole situation more absurd.

For those of you who may be following, this is the second "fart" story from church. Hmmm...I hope this isn't a trend. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Near Miss...

All week I looked forward to yesterday.

We had arrangements made for the kids (hanging out with Aunt Casy) and tickets to see the KSU Wildcat men play OU and women play KU. Of course, before we could leave we both had some errands to run. Todd went to the grocery store and got some snacks and quick, easy lunch stuff for the kids. Then he filled out my Envoy with gas. When he was pulling in the drive I was pulling out--on the way to get some cash at the bank in his pickup.

When I parked in the garage I was juggling the bank statement, cash, cash envelope, and my ID. So, I was a bit distracted as I was climbing out of the vehicle. I wondered if I had pulled in far enough and, to my dismay, the garage door went back up when it was almost shut. I guessed that it had bumped the back bumper and I needed to pull in a bit more. But, I left it thinking I would take a look when we headed out.

Once inside I helped Todd put away his purchases. I found myself alone in the kitchen completing this task. When finished, I thought I should reward myself with my favorite treat, an ice cold Diet Dr. Pepper. We keep our pop out in a fridge in the garage so I headed back out. However, the pickup was gone!

My mind immediately told me that Todd must've had to run somewhere. But I knew that wasn't the case because I remembered seeing him disappear with a magazine into our bathroom. So...I walked on into the garage and looked out the door. There was the pickup--across the street in the neighbors yard with its nose stuck out in the road!

First I looked all around--not only to make sure nobody was watching, but also to make sure nobody had been hurt! I ran across the street and up into the neighbors yard then jumped in the pickup and found that it was in reverse. I apparently hadn't put it all the way in Park. So, it had been rolling a bit when the garage door was trying to close--forcing it to open back up.

I quickly pulled back into the garage and went inside laughing to share the story with my husband. He went out and looked his pickup over to make sure there were no scratches or side mirrors missing. Then we both had a good laugh, wondering how I got lucky enough to pull such a stunt with no consequences (other than some mysterious tire tracks in the neighbor's grass).

Of course, things could've ended much differently. We live on a pretty busy street that seems to have quite a bit of traffic for a residential neighborhood but also a lot of foot traffic with walkers and bicycle riders at all hours. Could I have handled the emotional (not to mention financial) consequences if someone had been injured? My negligence was due to the multiple distractions at the time, but that would've been little consolation.

It's funny how things work out. Next time I might not be so lucky.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Celebrating the New Year with my Family

It has been our tradition to have Christmas with Todd's family and celebrate the New Year with my family. This year we hosted in Salina, along with my sister's family that only lives 1 1/2 blocks away. With my birthday being New Year's Eve, I always thoroughly enjoy this special time.

This year we did the typical stuff--games, karaoke, conversation, food, picture-taking, and lots of laughing. As usual, a good time was had by all.

It was also a year of healing.

My younger sisters ex-husband is back in her life. With the rough divorce that we all survived a few years ago, we were all a bit apprehensive. As I watched my younger sister with her family, however, my apprehension melted away. She was happy...really happy. Even better, her two beautiful girls were happy. Watching Kris play on the floor with his daughter as she squealed with delight brought smiles to the faces of everyone in the room. He was helpful, fun, loving, and gracious. What else could I ask for in a mate for my sister?

Can people change? Yes, they just have to choose to. And, thankfully, some things are worth it.

As midnight brought a new year, my prayer for a better 2009 was followed by a delicious kiss from Todd. I wouldn't have wanted to start the year any other way...

Christmas with the In-Laws

We knew that Christmas with my husband's family would be tough this year.

Todd's dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years back and was placed in a special unit of a nursing home this past summer. It is particularly sad because he is young--still in his 60s.

We stayed at the house with his mother. She especially enjoys having our kids around. Todd's sister, Brenda, and her family came over for a Mexican dinner and then we opened presents. This tradition has been enjoyed by all of us for many years; however, last year was our first year without Todd's oldest nephew, Tyler, who was killed in a car accident in September of 2007. Tyler was a one-of-a-kind who loved his family. He typically made sure that Grandma got a new frog to add to her bathroom collection. Of course, we were also missing Heath and Stef since they are in San Diego where Heath is stationed in the US Navy. In the past, Grandma's superstitions would bother her when we set the table for the 13 of us. This year, we were down to 10.

The next day my parents came over to join us for our big Christmas dinner--complete with turkey, ham, homemade noodles, mashed potatoes, lots of pie, etc. Although I slept in, I was up and around in time to help set the table. While carrying the hot rolls over to add to the feast, a sudden tickle forced me to turn my head and sneeze! They safely made it to the table before we all sat down to eat.

Halfway through the meal, my sister-in-law pointed out that I had dropped a noodle on my sweater sleeve. My thoughtful nephew, Joel, kindly picked it off before I even had a chance to set my silverware down. The words that followed about made me choke, he said, "This isn't a noodle." The whole family gawked as I began laughing so hard I couldn't talk. Finally I was able to sputter, "Joel, you might want to go wash your hands." As the whole story about carrying the rolls to the table unfolded, tears were running down my face from laughing. By now, the whole table was laughing as we pictured Joel gagging in the bathroom as he scrubbed his hands.

Later that afternoon we visited Grandpa Larry. He opened his gifts and was most excited about the free calendar that Todd got from a local John Deere dealer with pictures of antique tractors. He went through each month, pointing at them and exclaiming over the "cars." This visit was the hardest yet because he didn't seem to recognize us at all. At this point, he is unable to process information--this includes conversation, TV...anything. He just doesn't understand any type of communication. He just nods his head and says, "Yes honey" to everything.

Although Todd couldn't hardly even stand to watch his dad, the kids responded to him beautifully--even giving him big hugs when it was time to go. Brenda didn't seem to want to release him from her hug. Over the last year and a half I know she has really needed her daddy. It was like she was trying to hug him back into his body. Even as we left, she continued to turn and wave to him with the tears streaking down her face.

Oh, to be able to set that table for 13 again...