Monday, November 26, 2007

Legacy- something passed down from a predecessor or ancestor

My grandmother passed away this weekend. It was not expected, but I don't know that death is ever anything you can prepare yourself for, nonetheless, she passed away in her sleep early Saturday morning. Reflective person that I am, I have spent some time these last couple days thinking about Grandma, looking at old pictures, and considering the legacy that she has given to me...

Strength- My Grandma raised 4 kids alone. She worked to take care of her family. I can't say I ever even heard her or my mom complain about the situation, Grandma just did what was needed. She was a woman of great strength.

Generosity- Grandma never had a lot of money, but she was always the first to give. Sometimes when you would get a card with a check in it, you had to wonder if she was giving you the very last pennies in her account. There was nothing of hers that she would not give. She was the one that sent Tori "sheepy" when she was first born. She was an extremely generous woman.

Love- Whether it was her children and grandchildren, her husband Ken, her scary German Shepherds named Thunder and Lightning (I was so afraid of them), or her home in New Hampshire (lovingly called "The Levings Lazy Acres")--Grandma loved these important things in her life with all her heart. I suppose her love is what drove her generosity and her strength.

That is a pretty amazing legacy to have been given. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with my Grandma, because she lived far away, but I am struck today at the impact that she has had on my life. I have seen these qualities of strength, generosity and love in my Grandma, and I see them in my mom and how she is living her life, and I hope someday my girls will say they saw them in me, so that in turn their children will hopefully see it in them and the legacy will live on.

Thank you Grandma...I will do my best to continue your legacy!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chris Berman, a football analyst on ESPN, often says, "That's why they play the game". Meaning you can analyze and predict all you want on paper, but the only thing that really counts is what happens on the field. This weekend I had a plan--and let me tell you--it looked real good on paper, but then, well...we had to play the game.

The Plan on Paper: Jamie and I were going to Chicago for the day to join up with my co-workers at Anna Worner and Associates for a holiday gathering. We were having lunch at a nice steak house and then taking in some of the city (big cities are the best during the holidays). All the prep work had been done. Abby was watching the girls for the day--they were excited. My mom had bought me a new red sweater--I was excited. I had a holiday hospitality gift in a cute gift bag for my boss-which she may or may not have been excited about.

Game Day: Everything played out as it should at first...Abby came, I woke up early and sprunched my hair, we got to the airport, got some breakfast, boarded the plane- no problem. I started to feel a little queasy on the flight, but figured it was from the lack of sleep, so I just closed my eyes to get a little rest before we landed. Upon arrival at O'Hare, my stomach was still feeling pretty uneasy, so I made a quick stop in the restroom and hoped that would take care of it. As scheduled, a white stretch limo picked Jamie and I up, we stopped to pick up our friend Woody's wife at their hotel and then we were on our way to Anna's house. I was trying to have a conversation with Bethany, catching up on the kids and such, but suddenly I just did not feel well at all. We were about a block away from Anna's house-I laid down on the seat and told Jamie I thought I was going to throw up. I asked if he had a bag. He did not. I saw a bag of plastic cups and told him to dump the cups and give me that. He did. I vomited in the bag. Catastrophe avoided... except the bag had a hole in it. So its contents were now sliding down the leather seat that we were sitting on. I panicked and quickly grabbed my coat and put it on the seat to stop it from rushing right into Jamie and I. I had to vomit again. I saw my lovely gift. I dumped out the holiday candle and Christmas CD and vomited in the gift bag. We arrived at Anna's house. Now since we all work remotely out of our homes, I have only met her once for like 5 minutes or so when I first started working for her and she had never met Jamie. I exited the limo. There was vomit all over my lovely red sweater and in my lovely sprunched hair. The limo driver at least gave me some gum. Sweet Jamie cleaned out the back of the limo and was holding the gift bag of vomit in his hands. Not wanting that to be Anna's first impression of him he spotted her garbage can in the back and went to deposit the gift bag there. Funny thing, though, they were meeting in the back of the house and saw him rummaging through her garbage cans. Woody came out and Jamie told them the story. I entered the house-vomit and all. Anna was so gracious to let me take a shower and give me a toothbrush. I had an extra sweater for a picture we were going to take, so I put that on and then laid down in her family room while they had their meeting. Because I was feeling a little better, they changed the lunch reservation to the same restaurant, but in the suburbs, so I would have some more time to rest. The steak house was amazing. Everyone else enjoyed their filet mignons and fancy salads and soups, while I ate a plain chicken breast (very good, but plain) and some mashed potatoes. I think the waiter apologized to me when he served it. Anyway, we had a nice lunch and I was feeling a million times better, but a little worried, so I watched them enjoy chocolate espresso cake and cheesecake with fresh strawberries (my favorite). Instead of spending time downtown, we hit the mall in suburbia and then headed to the airport and headed home.
Oh, that I were exaggerating, but I am not exaggerating one detail...ask Jamie.

A special thanks to Anna, Woody, Bethany and Sarah for being sooooo understanding and accomodating. I am so very, very sorry. I am lucky to work with such great people! And a huge thank you to my amazing husband who continues to find new ways to show his love for me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Today I was a super hero. I was also a villian, but I ended as a super hero, so that is the important part.

I am still adjusting to this all day school thing. Kindergarten was easy. Sign the folder- send them off. They were only there for 2 hours, they didn't go outside for recess, so if you forgot a hat or something--no biggie. A chilly bus ride is not that catastrophic. Enter this year...this is a whole new world. Homework, spelling tests, recess in the cold, and school lunches...this is serious business. Today was just one of those mornings I did not have my game face on.

At the beginning of the year I thought I was off the hook when it came to lunches. Tori and I read over the hot lunch offerings and every day but two the first month she was getting the lunch. And the amazing thing was she seemed to really like soggy french toast sticks and cafeteria macaroni and cheese. She only passed on shrimp poppers (ick!) and chicken patties (75% gristle, 25% some kind of chicken). Well, today I was running a little behind. We passed on riding the bus this morning to gain some extra time, but we still found ourselves rushing out the door, throwing on all the outdoor necessities as we went. As I loaded the Mace into the van, I knew in my head we had forgot to check lunch. But, knowing we were already cutting it close, I figured she could just eat the school lunch--no problemo. To my dismay, I came home and checked the calendar---Chicken patties--what are the chances. I could just imagine the horror in her face when Mr. Suzuki told her what the hot lunch was. I could hear her telling Mr. Suzuki that her mom had forgotten to pack her lunch. I imagined she reluctantly made her choice and was planning the lecture that I was going to receive when she exited the bus that afternoon.

Seriously, if it was anything besides chicken patties, I would have let it go. (well, maybe shrimp poppers) But chicken patties--my conscience would not let me. So, following an appointment that Macie, Isabelle and I had this morning we headed off to Super Target (cuz truth be told I had not been shopping this week, so I couldn't have made her a lunch anyway). We navigated through the aisles being sure to get those school lunchy things like drinkable yogurt and peanut butter and cheese crackers. I made my purchases and hurried back to Bloomington. I wasn't sure if her lunch was at 11:14 or 11:40. I honestly thought I had missed it. But I went straight to Washburn, weeded through my grocery bags to pack a perfect school lunch (well, minus the sweet message on the napkin) and hurried into the school. I signed in and got my visitor badge and walked quickly down to the lunchroom. I surveyed each table, looking for that precious face--hoping she was not already at recess. I recognized some of the first graders from her class last year, but not this year. I looked to the left where some children were getting their trays and preparing to go through the lunch line. I saw Mr. Suzuki--relief--I quickly scanned through her class and there, standing 4 people from the front of the line stood Tori- standing with her tray, picking up her chocolate milk and heading to the counter where the infamous chicken patties were being served. I ran over. She said "What are you doing here?" She smiled to see I was holding her lunch box. I told her she could get the hot lunch if she wanted, but she quickly took her lunch box and handed me her tray. With a thank you she continued on in her line looking completely relieved to be bypassing the chicken patties. Mr. Suzuki gave me a thumbs up (which confirmed to me that she was not happy this morning when she ordered her lunch). I smiled, blew her a kiss, and headed home. Da-da- dum....SUPER MOM! (hopefully she will forget that it was my fault in the first place).

p.s. I totally would have brought her McDonalds to really be the hero, but that is discouraged in the school handbook. =)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jamie heard from someone recently that a journal served no good purpose if no one ever read it. I love to journal. It is therapeutic for me..and typically no one ever reads them, so I decided to randomly disperse some old thoughts amidst the current happenings of the Millers...

The Most Difficult Words (Sister's Journal- Summer 2006)
It amazes me how early children develop pride and anger--they seem so sweet and innocent as newborns, but you soon discover they really are born ornery. All this to say that your sister can be one of the hardest people to humble yourself to. Really, any family member, but we are in a sister's frame of mind so that is the dynamic that I am looking at. Tori and Isabelle are in a love/hate stage of their relationship. They really are the best of friends, but on any given day the sounds from their room would not support that statement, and Isabelle seems to be the one with the short fuse. So as my parents did with my sisters and I, the girls have to "make-up". At the beginning of this new stage in their relationship I would tell Isabelle to tell Tori "sorry" and she would go give Tori a hug. Initially I was pleased with this response thinking she is showing her sorrow and desire to restore the relationship (I know you are amazed at the deep thought I put into this process). Anyway, I soon discovered that Isabelle refused to speak the words "I'm sorry". (You may have caught on to this already, but I am free to have rose colored glasses on for some occasions when it come to the girls' behavior) She could not bring herself to speak the words! Why is that? It must be pride, or in the case of a family member, a sister, who you know so intimately, and you know their faults and somehow feel they don't deserve a sorry, because they too are "marred". Whatever the case, I realized this is an important lesson for Isabelle to learn now (partly because it is a struggle for me as an almost 30 year old--yikes!) So, we began the process of teaching Isabelle to speak the words "I'm sorry". We still are in process, but we are getting there. First she would cry and refuse to say it--never a fun game. But now, she will say it, but she asks to say it softly, so when she does say it, it is barely above a whisper. I pray someday they both will be humble enough to easily and loudly proclaim their sorrow to one another, realizing their sisters friendship is far more valuable than their pride.