Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Goodnight Moon

Four years ago on a beautiful sun filled  February Saturday morning King Ralph and I drove D to SEMO for a music school audition. D had always known she'd wanted to teach. The question was just what did she want to teach. In her inner tug-of-war I merely suggested that music filled her. It is her heart. That she might be happiest teaching what she loves best. Music. Singing. 

It's hard to believe that D will be coming home from college in three weeks. While she won't graduate in May, she will have completed the first of her two majors: Vocal Performance. In the Fall she will student teach near home and complete her second major: Vocal Music Education. D will graduate in December. 

As hard as it is for King Ralph and I to grasp our baby has been away for four years, it is harder for D. She can't totally comprehend how fast the past four years went by. She fully embraced college. She was involved in campus organizations. She made friends, lots of friends. She became more accepting than she already was of different cultures and life choices. A trait that will serve her well in the classroom. She was devoted to and achieved academic excellence. She grew into a more radiant intelligent lady. 

This past Sunday D invited her family and friends to a most beautiful and angelic senior recital. For one hour and twenty minutes D sang to an audience of family, friends, sorority sisters and her college professors. She sang in French, Czech, Russian, German...and that was all before the intermission. While King Ralph has claimed his favorite piece to be E l'uccelino by Puccini, mine was Goodnight Moon by Eric Whitacre.
Yes, the children's book Goodnight Moon. It was a symbolic nod to the end of her college campus days. It was beautiful in story and voice. A touch of serene beauty was added with her music school friend accompanying the song with the cello. It was peaceful and soul filling. It made many of us cry. The good feel-it-in-your-heart cry.

How do you top that? 

You don't. 

Simply say. 

Thank you. 
          (Vocal and Piano Professors) 

And. 

Goodnight Moon. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

I Think They Secretly Like When I Can't Talk

I keep saying how ready I am for summer break, and I am, but really I just want it to be Mother's Day weekend. We haven't take "The Wanderlust" out of storage since we returned from Spring Break. Sigh. We have a Mother's Day trip planned which makes me happy. Camping is what I ask for each year. "The Wanderlust" just knows how to relax me. How to make me let my hair down so to speak and kick it back. It also brings us together as a family on that weekend. I love family time. 

Last Wednesday morning I woke without a voice. Well, I had a voice, but barely. When I did talk (whisper) heads turned. As the day went on the strain of using what little vocal power I had was giving me a dull headache. I tried clearing my throat with small forced coughs...ha, just made my throat red and raw feeling. I refrained from using the intercom and stuck with the phone. Even that was a strain. But you know I'm the kind of employee that believes I have a duty to perform, that people depend on me. I either have to be in the hospital or my head over the toilet bowl to justify staying home. By the time I got home I flopped on my bed exhausted and napped for two hours. 

D called to give me unsolicited, but welcomed, vocal cord care instructions. Then suggested my lack of voice could be stress induced. Hmmmm between work and her...quite possibly could be stressed induced. However, I'm thinking pollen. 

D is in the final days of college campus life. The four great years she has experienced and the hard to leave woe is tugging at her heart strings. Adulting on the cusp of life for her is scary. I've pretty much gotten the brunt of her moods and stress. I don't always nod and smile and offer some June Cleaver-esque advice. I pretty much go with a light dose of Joan Crawford. Keeping it real folks! It's good there's that little thing called unconditional love or we'd be grasping each other around the necks. With each passing day D checks something off her stress list. By 4pm on Sunday the stress pot's boil settled to a low simmer. Hopefully today a sense of relief and accomplishment was felt deep in her soul. (Story to follow in the coming days.)

I am now on day five of no voice. My good friend says when my voice is rested and I can manage to talk that I sound like Mickey Mouse. Like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Mickey. She insisted I say "hot dog" to her kids to prove she is indeed correct in characterizing me. Her kids laughed agreeing with their mother. Whatever! I just want my voice back!! And my college child to hop off the stress bus! 

I guess we all could us a little "Wanderlust" in our lives. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mother of the Year

There is no denying M's devotion to her career. She loves teaching! Her long hours in and out of the classroom preparing lessons is evident. She leaves early in the morning, comes home late and devotes Sunday to the coming weeks preparations. 

While she loves teaching and stressing the importance of cleanliness in her kitchen classroom her bathroom is another story! I harp and hound her endlessly that the bathroom isn't "her" space. That it is in fact community use space. Not to mention I own the bathroom...just on loan to her for the better part of 24 years. Today I had enough! With M gone house sitting I rolled up my sleeves and went work--scrubbing toothbrush in hand. As I delved into the cleaning of the shower I was convinced M has a side job creating hair pieces for Hans Wiemann. The never ending hair ball....

An hour and half later the bathroom is bright and sparkly. It looks good. Smells good. No hair ball in sight. But I left a love note on the mirror as my parting gift. Because that's what a good "roommate" who cleans your bathroom should do.

Next time you bump into M be sure to say, "M you have the best (roommate) mom in the world!" 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

I. Am. Blessed.

I'm totally ready for summer! Summer break to be exact!! I haven't been this stressed at work in four years.  I rely heavily on my weekends to bring me peace and joy. And the weekends lately haven't failed me! 

Last Friday night the annual trivia team rose to the thorn. We finally after 7 years of teaming at this same trivia achieved 1st place. What we know is not to be over shadowed by what we learned...that Pringles potato chips, no matter the flavor, are gross! 

Since Spring Break I've been busy with Make-A-Wish. I had known for a while that I needed to find something to add to my life that could offset the negativity that my job encompasses. There's something about a child's frailty to put perspective to life. So ya, this year my job is stress laced, but....  Helping to see a child's one wish come true, well that is the perspective of life I need! It does something for the heart...my heart. Fills my heart with joy and puts a smile on my face. And yes, even a happy tear in my eye. 

Last weekend my wish granter friend and I hosted a send-off party for a little guy who's wish was to go to Disney World. He was so excited with just the travel basket we created for him. If a basket of gold fish crackers, trail mix, Frittos, Reese's peanut butter cups, travel bingo and a personalzed T-shirt over joyed our wish kid, we can only imagine what he must be feeling this week as his wish plays out. 

This past Friday I had the day off work. I cleaned house and shopped for D's recital dress (omg college is near its end). On Saturday M and I started our morning with a coffee date and the 5k Wish Walk for Make-A-Wish, as members of team Noah's Crew.
M filled in for my original partner, King Ralph. We teased M that her big shirt was for big wishes.
Then after we got our exercise on and over with I mowed the lawn, prepared foods for a belated birthday BBQ for Princess A and her Prince Charming. We dyed eggs--because you're never to old to dye eggs.

On Easter morning we all gathered in the dining room at 8am for breakfast, where I broke out my Royal Albert bone china tea/coffee cup-plate sets. 
We feasted on quiche and ham and fruit and coffee cake. Like the best, most simple coffee cake ever!  

CINNAMON BUN CAKE 

1 pkg yellow butter cake mix 
4 eggs
6 Tbs softened butter
1 cup sour cream 

Mix ingredients all together. 

In separate bowl mix 
1 cup brown sugar 
2 Tbs cinnamon 

Preheat oven to 350* 
Sprinkle some cinnamon mixture on the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. Layer cake batter and cinnamon mixture (make 2 layers), ending with cinnamon mixture. Bake 25-30 minutes. Let cool, then ice 

In bowl combine 
2 cups powder sugar 
1/4 cup milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Then the six of us went to church and filled a pew. 
There's something about Jesus that helps me ready myself for rough weeks.

Sooooo...Monday, ready or not here I come! 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Survival Means Always Counting Down the Days

I left work on Friday, March 17, not thinking of four leaf clovers, corn beef or green beer. Nope. I left thinking of grabbing a blueberry lager from the frig, while King Ralph captained the truck and towed The Wanderlust. The slightly shortened day I had was by far the most stressful I'd had in some time. That doesn't even count my nine co-workers intertwined in that day's situation. 

By mile marker 90 I was finally relaxed and could start thinking spring break. A break I needed more than I realized. More so because I received an email from my boss warning of me of what was waiting for me on my desk upon my return. That's when I started to count my blessings and thank God for the children he gave me!  

I spent the week sun soaking, reading, sipping cocktails--on and off the beach, riding my bike, watching Redbox movies at night....after walking the dog under the moonlight. I grilled dinners with King Ralph, played games and laughed with him. It was good. Really good! 

Here I am a week post Spring break and all I can I do is think about summer break. You'd think I would rather reflect back on the getaway. Truth is this school year has exhausted me--mind, body and soul. So really, in the matter of survival, counting down to June 8 is the healthy thing to do! 

But if I must reflect...

Dear Beach: 
Thanks for cleansing my soul. You are the perfect escape. See you again next March. <3

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wish

It was October 2015 when I convinced my co-worker to nominate her son for Make-A-Wish. His life threatening disease and constant hospital stays made him a deserving candidate. I emailed her the application and joyfully faxed it for her. I anxiously awaited with her for the wish to be picked up.

Flash forward to March 2016 when Noah's granted wish took him to North Carolina to meet Cam Newton and he filmed a promotional video for Lokia's new MAW bracelet. I smiled and teared for four days at every picture and video I received. My heart swelled. It made long work days tolerable. 

I saw a feature story on CBS Sunday Morning about a school that partnered with MAW. It didn't take much to convince my co-worker that we should present to our school principal to be a Kids For Wish Kids school and that we should be wish granters ourselves. It didn't take much effort to convince the principal and staff to adopt this venture as a school wide service learning experience. The idea of kids actually seeing with their own eyes what their service efforts could accomplish...we knew would a fantastic lesson in empathy and goal setting. So often service learning doesn't present itself with face value. This lesson would do just that! And so the venture began. 

Starting in September the school began to raise money. The kids and their teachers sold MAW stars, custom bracelets, hot cocoa...they had penny wars and a dinner night at Culver's, where the students assisted in serving meal orders. Every fundraiser brought thrill to the kids as they strived for a goal. Then at the end of the rainbow they struck gold--$5000 was raised! The cost of the wish. 

This past Friday the school revealed the wish. It was spectacular! My co-worker and I worked hard decorating the night before and early in the morning on Friday. We hung hundreds of stars from the hallway ceiling. We rolled out a red carpet with a welcome tunnel of cheerleaders. We set a throne, adorned with balloons, between the school band and the school choir. The band played a Disney medley, as a timid 7 year old was escorted by student ambassadors into the gym to his throne; by the cheering of 800 people. He was presented a gift basket of Disney treasures and serenaded by the choir singing Cinderella's: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes. 
I kept my wish granter's tears in check. Then his mother asked to speak. She spoke of her gratefulness and how unreal the fanfare the school was showing to her son. Then she said the thing that drew a lump to my throat as I fought to hold back tears. She spoke of the years of her son's struggles and the fight against cancer he had to endure. She told the students and staff how this week he looked at her and her husband and said that getting to go to Disney was so great it made "having cancer medium." Spoken in such simple terms by a 7 year old, yet so profound. There it was. The lesson learned from the service. The weight of the wish and the magic of healing the heart. 

As this timid 7 year old was leaving the gym he stopped in front of the band to gaze. The director took his little hand and guided it in the necessary direction of each beat. There he was conducting the band as they played the Mickey Mouse song. Every turn this little guy took he was a star. Students asking for pictures with him and patting his back. He was experiencing his 60 minutes of fame. 

There's something that sticks in the heart when you witness a wish granted. That something has fueled the school to work at granting another wish. 

If you keep on believing the dream that you wish will come true. 

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Color Me Manila File Folders

Last Friday I popped into Starbucks to fetch a skinny vanilla almond milk latte. I'd been craving a coffee something bad! After standing in line for seven minutes without moving I had to hop out of line and head to work. It ruined the day when the one thing I wanted I couldn't have because of time clock constraints! 

This morning I was determined to have a Friday coffee. I arrived to a nearly empty parking lot. I felt confident. When I approached the door to Starbucks I cringed. Five people ahead of me. Why coffee lines gotta move slow is beyond me. While I was waiting to place my coffee order I texted Princess A 
(Looked at my weather app, outside temp 26*) 

Truth is I dress for inside not outside. I dress to survive the seven to three-thirty grind...and that means sandals. I stood waiting staring at my watch, tick-tock-tick-tock. Fear not, I scored coffee! I felt like Wonder Woman ready to tackle whatever might be coming my way. And did it come! 

The day came at me like a swarm of bees. File folders fanned across my desk like a deck of cards. My waiting area succumb to standing room only. My computer's mouse guiding the arrow to "print" over and over again. I cranked out notification emails like they were multi-million dollar lottery tickets. My spread sheet of names growing by the minute. Taking a bathroom break was a guilty pleasure. At times I let my mind remember the delicious coffee I started my day with and how it fueled me. 

And my feet...happy and cool! 

Dear Monday, please go easy on me! I still have Friday's file folders to hide behind.