Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Holiday Road

I have been spending my "summer hall pass" time doing the exact thing I neglected to spend time doing last summer—connecting with my girl friends that get neglected during the school year.   I have had long lunch dates and longer morning coffee dates.  I have had long, long distance phone calls with some of my best girl friends who live far away.  I still have my usual super long breakfast date on the calendar…the kind of breakfast where you sometimes tip more than the bill as an apology for taking the table for endless hours because you fear the dinner crowd is starting to roll in.  I have babysat my co-workers babies (because when you don’t have babies other’s babies are a joyful novelty).  I've taken the time to lie in the sun bronzing my skin.  I've read lots of books.  I've had the traditional family night of dinner and a movie at the drive-in.  I have just about solely supported the existence of the Redbox at the gas station at the top of the street. But summer is just about to get a whole lot better!

King Ralph and I are soon setting out to explore this great country of ours in the camper—minus the offspring. (It’s all part of the leaf turning over that we both have to learn to accept.)  We are going to cross a few things off our bucket list.  We are getting packed…maps and books on tapes (to which the girls have proclaimed seems a little geriatric, but I think seems like a great idea that won’t cause me car sickness and keep my summer reading list in check), hiking shoes and camelbaks.  We are going to sit by campfires in the mountains and sip blueberry and raspberry beers, or few glasses of pinot noir and grill yummy foods while talking about the girls we miss that soon will all be gone from the house.  We are going to eat Maine lobster, in Maine and cups of New England chowder.  We will walk the footsteps of our fore fathers and eat great Italian food. I will sing solo to King Ralph as we fly down the highways and he will play the air guitar on his leg, while steadying the steering wheel with his other hand.  We will not worry about if the trash gets to the curb or if the dog is being fed.  We will be a carefree couple.

It’s still going to be our usual Griswold style vacation, except this time it’s just Clark and Ellen on the open road.     

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Fall Back Plan

Our humble castle feels a bit empty since M has been gone since June 5, living the upstate New York life of water ski instructor at a posh "Parent Trap-esque" camp.  Being a ski instructor doesn't come without hard work and study.  M is now Red Cross lake guard certified; a mere 24 laps in the pool as one of the qualifications for the certificate.  The snap chat she sent, post-test, was titled "never so happy to pass a test!" with a wearied child in the picture.   Then there was the standard CPR and life guard certifications--passed, of course.  However knowledge of the best certification M needed came in the text form to her sister...the conversation was a good laugh for the family.

Princess A asked in a text "what have you been doing today?"

Then Princess A came up with the fall back plan: M will drive the tour ferry, she'll be the tour guide and D will provide entertainment.  Certainly the only ferry tour boat with a singer who sings Italian arias...and Japanese songs as well.  My friend added, "Princess A can sell her baked goods as well."  Ooooo yes, she is quite the baker!

And so we waited and waited and waited to hear about the test.  Finally this past Monday the NY license dude came to camp to administer the test.

I pleased to announce that of the six water front counselors that tested three passed the NY public vessel exam--M is one of those three!  That's my girl, she was not about to settle for a spotter in the boat.  She excels as always!

So if anyone out there knows of a good place to buy a captain's hat, we were thinking this girl needs one.  She may not be driving a ferry boat (yet) but she sure as hell is licensed to do so.  Which calls for the fashion to celebrate.

Captain Maddi Phyl.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Famous Cousin Name Sign

Over the last decade plus we have spent holidays snapping pictures of the cousins—holding a sign up with “Charley” written a sheet of paper (for years his wife’s name was on paper too and then no more) then posting it on Facebook, texting it…so that the one missing cousin knew he was missed. So goes the life of an Air Force pilot. 

Since Charley joined the Air Force right out of college he has been home with us for one Christmas; one Christmas in over ten years that the cousins were all together…and it was recorded with the snap of a camera.
Last Thanksgiving M was gone with the MSU marching band performing in Florida and she asked “did I get my name on a sign?” I replied that we reserve that method of record for Christmas only.  (We've never had to do two names on signs before and honestly that might have really set in the feeling of absence.) 
Until Father’s Day. 
Charley moved home last weekend!  Okay, well not home but as close to home as he has been in the last decade plus.  When you are stationed four hours from St. Louis we are going to go ahead and call it “home.”  Which called for a change of rules.  We weren't just snapping that famous cousin picture at Christmas only because it is so rare that AF pilot Major Charley is ever pictured with the cousins.  And so our family gathering of celebrating fathers called for the only photograph I took the whole day.  Oh ya, and a name change on the sign. 
Charley said "for once it isn't my name on the sign!"

Nope that would be upstate New York Maddi's name on the sign this go-round.

Let's cross our fingers that we can repeat Christmas 2011 and photograph the six cousins together once again. 

I'm feeling very hopeful.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Turning Leaf

This moment is a bridge between
Past and Future -- carefully cross it.
This moment is choice -- Make it.
This moment is life -- live it.

-- Pum Sandhu

This summer hall pass, all this home alone, has me remembering what it was like when I was a SAHM--minus the thundering roar of children’s voices echoing throughout the house.  (The house is still and silent; only the noise I create vibrates the walls.)  The days when I washed floors on a Tuesday at noon, ran to the stores at ten in the morning and picked up, continuously, after the entire family.  Answering the phone ten times a day to King Ralph’s calls of what are you doing; never believing my answer of “laundry”, still, on the sixth call.  Because contrary to his male belief system; it actually took most the day to crank out the laundry for a family of five…in between loads of laundry and dusting furniture, packing in a few chapters of a great novel. Oh, and blogging.  Aaaahhh; the good ole’ days.

When it isn’t my summer hall pass season I feel it a literal chore to wash floors on a Saturday.  Running to the stores is an after work obligation to feed the family or secure toilet paper and laundry soap.  Laundry is done mostly when King Ralph announces to everyone that he is on his last pair of underwear and will forced soon to wear his cleanest dirtiest pair.  The only phone call King Ralph shares with me each day is the one I make on my way out of work.  Often I am so tired from answering phones and talking to preteens and teens that I make my calls short in opt for silence.  How life has changed.  The changes keep on coming, no matter how much I try to stop them.

This year King Ralph and I will take a summer vacation minus the offspring.  We have been awful lucky that we have daughters that treasure family vacation time—road trips, long camping trips cross country, singing in the car while memorizing the words to all those “best of” albums from the days-gone-by; albums that savor what really good music was all about.  This year it’s different.  Not that the girls don’t want to be with us, they just have chosen different paths for themselves.  M is off in New York (I have a good story coming soon), D has taken a full time job this summer in hopes of stashing enough cash to join a sorority.  The one thing as parents we refuse to pay for…not mention I so don’t think D is the sorority kinda girl, but wants to be “like” her sisters.  This in a sense is endearing.  But college is a time to figure out and learn who you really are, and figure she will.  Princess A was offered to join in on the vacation fun, only to inform us that she is not an only child and at twenty-three does not want to see how it tastes.  Really I think she prefers to save her vacation time for jet-setting to California to visit a particular (remaining unnamed) young man.  A girl with a real job savoring every day of her earned time off.  And so the leaf of life takes a turn.  Question. Are any of us really ready for the leaf to turn?  I say no.  Maybe it’s because, we are all so nostalgic for “what was”…because our children defined who we were for so long it is hard to imagine being “just a couple” again.  As romantic as a couple is there is certain romance to family—a love of time shared like none other.      

One day the leaf will turn yet again. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Summer Hall Pass

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the time when I have my summer hall pass.  Eight weeks of unpaid leave from work to play with friends and family, sleep in, do laundry and wash floors in the middle of the day on a Tuesday, and for the first time in my parenting life be home alone with my thoughts.  The girls are all off working full time.  

First let's take a minute to reflect...
about best friends excited to have graduated high school

or that M is off in upstate New York working (first getting trained and certified) at an elite girls summer camp, making new friends from across the oceans and building her teaching skills, all while taking in this view.  A matter of fact that lake is her office--M the water ski instructor.

Well I suppose I better churn a little more laundry and then read my book.  The life of a girl with a summer hall pass. Tough life!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Then they walked out the doors...

"When all's said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it's not so much which road you take, as how you take it."

Road traveled by way of Lawrence University. Road traveled by way of Missouri State. Road traveled by way of Southeast Missouri State. Road traveled by way of William Woods University.

And, will remain friends!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams! Live the Life You've imagined.

Tomorrow my D will walk out the doors of Lindbergh High School and her life will take her on a new journey. So I write to her with love and pride in my heart.


As this chapter of your life is about to come to a close and you embark upon the next great chapter of your life—college—it seems only fitting to reflect a bit…with a joyful heart.
You came into this world a wee bit before expected with haste and a challenge.  Your strength to persevere started the moment you struggled to take those first breathes of life and has continued.  Although you have tested the waters of every ounce of patience I possess—I came to see clearly that was your way of showing that you wanted to come out on the top of every adventure you tried your hand to.  That the bar you set for self achievement was above what others expected of you—always the consummate (over) achiever. 

Like all those with fire in their soul; bumps and disappoints along the way were no stranger to you.  You were blessed to, and chose too, surround yourself with people who taught you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, never blowing sunshine up you tail and to carry on.  Whether it was dad teaching you to ride your two-wheel bike—with every crash to the concrete or wobbling jumps to the grassy easement, you took to the task over and over, slapped a band-aid on the scuffed knees and elbows and persevered till perfect balance was acquired.   Of late it has been Mr. Hutson who has insisted that the marking of one judge should never be the mark of your overall talent—to just warm up those God given vocal cords and sing, sing, sing! All the while I stood close by cheering you on…your best cheerleader, your believer!
I knew you were destined for all things musical as you rode through the grocery store at age three singing Peter, Paul and Mary’s Lemon Tree for all the shoppers to hear.  I knew the moment you starred as Scrooge, bellowing out song in the fifth grade Christmas musical. I knew it when you played the piano.  I loved when you mastered playing the Charlie Brown theme song, or my favorite, the theme song from Pride and Prejudice.  Your musical gifts melt my heart (even if I bought you a piano with a headphone option for silent practice playing).  I should have known when Mr. Hutson named your seventh grade solo/ensemble quartet, “The Diva Quartet”, which garnered a one rating, that you were  good, even in middle school…so good it repeated itself in eighth grade.  Vocal music was calling your name.  I learned over the years to grit my teeth (and occasionally lose my patience) to your crabby self on recital and competition days, knowing it was your inner beast trying to fight the nerves and your personal high expectations.  I learned to accept if your nerves where to strung to allow me in the room to hear you perform—listening ever so contently with my ear pressed to the crack in the door. I’ll never forget your college audition day, the GPS talking us to the unknown, your dad frustrated as he drove in the wrong guided direction and you bellowing out a song in German in the back seat while a CD piped out the piano music at ten thousand decibels.  I guess I should have known that crazy moment would have offered you the confidence boost you needed and your acceptance into the School of Music. 

While this final year of high school has been [what you viewed] as the test to your self esteem and talent…from the part you were overlooked for in the school musical, to the two rating you received on your solo at Solo/Ensemble, never let those moments be the breaker to the many accolades you did receive.  You managed to show that you DO possess talent of great measure.   The trio you put together for solo/ensemble reaped a one rating and a Japanese song that quickly has become your “party trick.”  The State Thespian quartet earned a superior rating and took you to the state capitol to be honored—you my child are one of “MY Nine Favorite Things!”  On May 28, you will be draped in cords to show all your academic achievements and that is nothing to sneeze at either.  There are so many more moments of pride which outweigh the disappointments.
Demi, as you set out on a new journey life is sure to have more bumps along the way and sometimes it is hard to see past one’s own tear filled eyes to see all the light shining through the dark tunnel, but remember when moments in your future don’t seem to go as you hope—that stars shine only in the dark sky.  You my child are destined to be a star!  As you sang to me on Mother’s Day—you are “Never Far from Home.”

Pick the lyrics for your life and SING! Sing for all to hear.