Friday, March 24, 2017

Gift of Cheerleading

Introducing....Edgar Allen Poe.  Caleb said now he just needs to act drunk and depressed like the original Poe:)

Caleb had his graduation from his E Teen Bible Study.  If Caleb wants to find a date among this crew, his odds are good.

When I was in middle school, I decided to tryout for the cheerleading squad.  I thought this was a good idea despite the fact that my dancing and gymnastics training was limited (to put it kindly).  To make matters worse, I possessed the flexibility of a steel beam, and my coordination skills could best be described as gawkish.  But I felt like these minor deficits could be overlooked with my adolescent charm and natural pose (neither of which I possessed at that age).  

For my tryout, I crafted a routine that ended in a killer cartwheel sure to wow the judges.  It would be the fireworks at the end my show.  Remember the limited gymnastics training and lack of coordination.  Well, the cartwheel landed dangerous close to the judges' table.  In fact, I think a few had to leap out of the way to avoid a foot to the nose.  Instead of fireworks, my finale was more like a rogue sparkler. 

As a surprise to no one, I didn't make the team.

On that day, I assumed my future as a cheerleader was officially over.

Until this week.  

I was sitting at a lunch with a friend.  She opened up about a difficult situation that was weighing on her heart.  Her expression spoke of the angst and heartache that ripped her world apart.  I listened and then felt the urge to speak.

In that moment, I realized God gifted me to be a cheerleader.  

I am not the sort of cheerleader that wears barely there threads and can effortlessly slide into the splits.

I was meant to be the sort of cheerleader that won't ever pick up a pom pom or break into a rhyme.  

I was designed to be the cheerleader that stands along the sidelines of the lives of friends and family.  I was created to applaud their victories and encourage them when they feel like failure is imminent.  I was built to support, promote, laud, brighten, boost, and energize.  This is my calling.  This I can do.

Sitting at the table, I spoke God-given words of encouragement through the vessel of this aging cheerleader's mouth.  I was grateful that God never gave up on my cheerleading career.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Missing Keys and Missing Run

Last night, Collin asked if we could be snuggle buddies.  It took me one nanosecond to say yes and pull him into a snuggle.  If we could have stayed like this all night, I would have been happy.

At 5:05 a.m. my cell phone alarm blared.  I jolted out of bed and commenced with my normal pre-dawn activities: tossing on athletic tights, pulling my hair in a scrunchie, and lacing up running shoes.  At 5:20 a..m. I raced down the stairs and reached for Chris's car keys in our catchall box (where the keys normally call home).  

No keys.

This would not have been a problem if my vehicle could exit the driveway.  Unfortunately, Chris's car was boxing in mine.

I frantically searched the house zeroing in on other likely spaces.  There were no keys in his jacket pocket, work bag, or by the couch.   To some this situation may be a blessing.  Maybe this was the legitimate excuse one needs to back out of a insanely early workout.

But in my little world, this was a crisis.

I pulled out my last resort.  I woke up Chris.

How do I say this kindly?

Chris did not consider an early wakeup call to search for his keys to be a necessity.  In his many non-verbals (stomps and grunts), he let his displeasure be known.

Clearly we don't see eye to eye on what merits an early morning wake up call.

It's like he doesn't even know me.

Then again, there are lots of areas where we differ.

He thinks we can go on a perfectly lovely vacation without adding a half marathon to the itinerary.

Why go?

He doesn't find the latest issue of Runner's World magazine to be a fine read.  


He says dinner conversations don't always need to include a synopsis of my morning run, workout schedule, pace goals, and mileage recap.

What's left to talk about?

They say opposites attract. 

I wouldn't call us opposites, but I would call us like-minded with different opinions on what is classified as a healthy hobby versus an insane addiction.


But love doesn't hold any record of wrongs and looks past other people's faults. 

The key incident will be tomorrow.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

East Coast Re-Cap and Police Stops

He's back.  

My oldest son returned from his week-long East Coast journey.  It would be easier to retrieve classified government secrets than hear details about my son's trip.  He's not one to gush, ramble, or expand.  When asked about his trip, "fine" seemed to nicely sum up the week's itinerary (at least in his mind).

The day after his return, I took him to breakfast.  Over a stack of hotcakes (capitalizing on a full tummy and a contained environment), I pressed for more details.  In slow chunks, he revealed special moments: visiting the 911 memorial, racing up the Rocky steps in Philadelphia, and touring the deeply moving Holocaust Museum (among others).  Despite a jam-packed, monumental schedule, the Nintendo store in NYC was his most endearing experience.  (The Liberty Bell just can't compete with the Legends of Zelda!)

Most would think reducing one child from the mix would provide a bit of a respite.  No Sir/Ma'am.  Instead, one particular son ensured that my parenting muscles didn't get lazy.  


The lowlight of his week came when we discovered he forged our signature on some school papers.  In that moment, I wondered if adolescent forgers were destined to wear orange jump suits and shackles.

I immediately contacted the teacher and escorted my son back to school.  The teacher, our son, and I settled into classroom chairs.  The truth tumbled out.  She seemed taken aback and unsure how to respond.  I insisted that we'd rather have a child flunk than lie.  And so this son will likely earn a bad grade in that class.  If he's learned a lesson on truth, I'll proudly place a "My son is an honest C student" bummer sticker on my car.

One more thing....

I was pulled over by the police on quite possibly the busiest road in our suburb.  The reason for the stop was inconsequential and debatable.  Yet, the stigma of appearing to be engaged in criminal mischief was unavoidable.  This mama tried her darndest to recline low in her seat and pray the pastor, school principal or other fine folk didn't drive past.

The police stop in tandem with the forged signatures left me feeling like a disgrace to motherhood.  A good sense of humor, lots of prayers, and a healthy dose of chocolate has helped me survive the hiccups of the week.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Watching a Friend Win

Collin poses with his den leader and good friend Nathan.

Saying our goodbyes before our "baby" heads on a school trip to the East Coast.  We're clinging to him, while he's desperate to break free:)

I asked Caleb to send me a picture from New York.  This is the photo I received.  I was kinda hoping for a photo of him, but at least I know he is eating!

On Saturday afternoon, Collin and I were sitting in the gymnasium of the local Methodist church.  The crowd was rowdy.  The anxiety was intense.  It was Pinewood Derby, after all, the Super Bowl for elementary age boy scouts.  

In the weeks prior, troop members chiseled wooden blocks down to create fast, visually appealing vehicles.  On Pinewood Derby day, the scouts showcased their work and raced against their friends. 

In an effort to be transparent, Collin touched his race car a total of zero times.  A certain 40-year-old physician/father did the lion's share of the work (which is what happens when one leaves the Pinewood Derby project to the eleventh hour).

At the Pinewood Derby, we watched the cars race down the track. However, Collin's car didn't seem to understand that it was a race.  His car was more "Driving Miss Daisy" than "Daytona 500."  Collin's vehicle shimmied down the track with no sense of urgency while its competitors blazed past.  At in a final gesture of a defeat, one wheel bailed and flew to freedom.  His three-wheeled car limped across the finish line. 

Despite the perceived advantage of an adult male completing the project, the results were not favorable for Collin's car.  His car placed in dead last place...every time.  And while the car's creator is extremely talented and gifted in numerous areas, pinewood derby making is not his calling.

Collin was dejected and embarrassed.  He hung his head low and moved closer to the door.  But the derby wasn't finished.  His best bud's car was doing amazing (as a shock to no one considering his father is an engineer:)).

It was a pivotal mom moment: do I allow Collin to slide out of the  gymnasium and lick his wounds or do I insist that he stay and learn to cheer on a friend who is enjoying success (even when he is not)?  I selected the latter and decided this was a friendship training opportunity.

At first, it was hard for Collin to celebrate his buddy's good fortune.   The salt of defeat bitters even the kindness of hearts.  But the longer we talked and watched his friend's car zoom down the tracks, Collin's rough patches softened.  

A few minutes later, he sat on the sidelines with his friend.  Collin clutched his wounded car while he watched his friend cradle a trophy.

Collin didn't give his friend a hug or a high-five for his victory, but he did stay to watch his friend win.  I'm a firm believer in small steps and little triumphs.  I subscribe to the notion that the tiny life lessons matter and lead to big heart changes.

This is why we stayed.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sometimes love looks like standing outside of Target at 6:45 a.m. in 32 degrees

Nintendo just placed a new game console on the market.  Winning the lottery is easier than securing this new console.  Few get so lucky.  The consoles are impossible to find online and barely available in stores.

Caleb was desperate to get his hands on the new console.  The new item had been hyped throughout his favorite websites and his friends were in a tizzy over who would be the blessed recipient.  

For over a year, Caleb has stored up money from pet sitting and dog walking jobs.  From all his efforts, he had enough money to purchase the console without any parental contributions.

He begged me to take him to the store to purchase the item.  I suggested we call around before heading into a wild goose chase.  As a surprise to no one, every store was sold out.  Target, however, told us they were expecting a small shipment the next day.  The store employee recommended we arrive early as a line was expected to form.

Target opens at 8 a.m.  Caleb pleaded with me to take him to the store before 7 a.m.

As I contemplated all the reasons to say no (sleep, sleep, and more sleep), I really had only selfish objections (cold, cold, and more cold).  He earned the money.  I had not (good) reasons why I couldn't drive him to the store at 6:45 a.m.

The next morning, we piled into the car in the darkness.  We were both clad in winter coats and a few layers.  The temperature on my phone app read 32 degrees.

We pulled into the Target parking lot and Caleb sprinted to the door.  Several others who were sitting in the parking lot jumped out of their vehicles when they watched Caleb stand outside the door.  He was the very first in line and quickly others fell behind.

To be honest, I spent most of the next hour reading in the car while checking in on him by phone (and watching him through my windshield).  But, the last 15 minutes, I stood by his side outside of the Target door in the freezing cold with a group of kids that could best be described as "like-minded" to my son.  He found his people.

It was freezing.  It was early.  It was not my thing.

But, Caleb is my thing.

His things are my things.

His happiness is important to me.

Making connections with him is paramount to me.

Ten minutes before the doors opened, the Target employee walked outside and distributed tickets.  The Target store only received ten new Nintendo consoles.  Caleb secured, as he called it, the "golden ticket."  In his world, this was Christmas.  In my world, I had the pleasure of watching my son experience Christmas.  We both couldn't stop grinning.

At 8 a.m., the doors finally opened.  Caleb waltzed up to the counter and secured the console with his money.  He couldn't stop smiling and hugging me.  

At that moment, I realized that no amount of sleep or warmth could compete with watching my son's joy.

Friday, March 3, 2017

First Job

Kitchen remodel complete.

Best picture I could find of the before.

Half way done.

We celebrated our running friend Gwen's birthday on...a run!

Claudia's birthday cake went quick with seven hungry kids!

Getting closer to Boston....19 miler yesterday!

Yesterday, I sat in a cozy chair at the library.  My nose was stuck in a book, but my attention was a few feet away.

Caleb was chatting with the librarian about a job.  His job.  Within the next few days, he will be the brand new shelver at the library.  This job requires a work permit, bank account, and a completed W2.  At the tender age of 14, he will be making minimum wage.

All of this is a lot for a mother of a first born to take in.  It is monumental.  Just yesterday, he was sitting criss cross applesauce in front of this librarian as she read "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie."  Now, he is her employee.  Or so it seems.  How did he go from board books to a paycheck in a blink of an eye.

I listened to the whole conversation with a sense of pride.  He was responsible, respectable, and hard working.  The librarian could see that too.  After years of struggling with a child that seemed destined for delinquency, things have changed.  All I can say is God is good.  

For the next several weeks, I will try to be on my best behavior.  I will not plan to be at the library during his shifts.  

But if I just happen to need a book while he is working.  

And, if I just happen to run into him while I have my camera.  

And, if I just happen to snap a shot of my son performing his job duties while wearing an official library name tag.... 

Well, it's funny how things work out like that when you're proud!