Monday, November 23, 2009

Lotsa Thanks to Give

Usually I dread Thanksgiving. The devotion of an entire day to stuffing yourself silly then sitting in front of mind-numbing television until you pass out. Elements that make the guys in our family LOVE Thanksgiving. The cleaning and cooking don't rank high on my list either, especially when you don't have the proper time to do either really well. High expectations of the best Thanksgiving ever fall flat when you're exhausted and a bit resentful of the whole ordeal.

Well, that has been the story the last dozen years, at any rate, because Thanksgiving was sandwiched in between the Night before Turkey and Black Friday. In my previous decade as a district manager of Santa Claus photo sets, Thanksgiving was the calm before the storm, and there was never enough time to enjoy it, let alone be thankful. People get crazy when they are stressed out during the holidays, and often Santa and the elves bore the brunt of it. I'd arrive at Thanksgiving dinner frazzled, not wanting to talk with anyone, and certainly not take their picture, and beelined it to the libation station to soothe my nerves.

I also felt guilty because Thanksgiving falls so close to my daughter's birthday and we could never celebrate it properly. Always on a different day, with something slapped together at the last moment because I usually had to work on her birthday. One year she invited her friends to the mall with our intention to see Santa, eat lunch and shop. I ended up having to work and she went without me. That stunk. Although I loved my Santa gig, I changed jobs in May 2008 and now have Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the whole whopping weekend off. I don't know what to do with myself. I'm offering thanks for the time with my family.

The second thing I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving is this incredible run in football. We are going to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to play the for the state title the day after Thanksgiving! While I'm writing this, I'm listening to a replay of last Friday night's Semi-State game. We drove over two hours to play a very good team who made it to the semi-state last year. Butterflies don't describe the feeling I had in my stomach. More like bats outta hell.

What a game - dry for once, thank God - a beautiful evening with a crescent moon that kept changing colors as it rose over the "H" shaped goalpost. We were wedged in small, rickety bleachers, like ours, amongst our dearest football buddies cheering on our sons. We were dressed in blue and white with a bit of bling. Every game we moms have a new fashion twist. Satisfies our feminine side. The boys delivered to our highest expectations. They were ready for battle and played their best. In many ways, I relate this whole football business to being in a tight military unit. We've had ACL/MCL tears, blood clots, dislocated shoulders, distended elbows, concussions, back injuries, plus your standard bumps and bruises. Yet, they patch up and soldier on. If he's too battered, they send in reinforcements who go at it with just as much intensity. This is not a spectator sport for these guys - it's life or death, to get the mission accomplished. They won 47-13. They are true brothers on and off the field.

Besides getting this far in football, I'm thankful for all of the little perks that have come with this season. I've bonded with fellow football moms and dads - spending Wednesday nights at film and tailgating with them before Friday night games since August. What a wonderful circle of friends that I hope can last after the last ball is thrown and caught. We fellow parents love our kids, and are so excited to see them realize a dream come true. I'm also thankful for my co-workers who have listened to me prattle on about this team. Many of them have elementary school children and are light years away to knowing what it's like to be the parent of a senior - the last hurrah. They think childhood is endless, as I did back then. God bless them.

But most of all, I'm thankful for God. He is my center. His mother, Our Lady, is my guide and mentor. His saints, especially St. Anthony, are my examples on how to live. St. Anthony is also my "main man," as he helps me find everything I lose, which is substantial. With so many things to be grateful for, I'll try to overlook the excessive food and television this Thanksgiving. If you can't beat them, join them!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

STAS (Short-Term Attention Span)

I have a problem. It's called short-term attention span. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person, and frankly, it's gets in the way sometimes.

Some people are like turtles - slow and steady, plodding along with their aggravating steadfastness, usually winning the race. Damn them. My husband is more or less a turtle. He's as steady as a rock and it takes a lot to get him riled up. He's like the photos of a gal with Botox - sporting the same expression unless it's something really cataclysmic.

I, on the other hand, can sport a multitude of emotions for any occasion. But it's my rabbit-like tendencies of being focused for the short dashes, that is paining me now. We've been into the Guadalupeproject for three months now, and I'm still not fluent in Spanish. It's ticking me off.

Today when I spent time with Rosetta, she's reminding me that I'm not as smart as a fifth grader. Top that off with a conversation that I had with Maria from work yesterday, on how she was unable to complete her education, yet she's bilingual! No Ingl├ęs until she came to the United States. Maybe I need to purchase a one-way ticket to Mexico or Spain or Columbia to get the job done right. I am going on a cruise to Mexico next year. Hmm. Possibilities...

Perhaps when the high school football season is over I can refocus on Rosetta. Honestly, every game is do or die now that we're in the Race for the Ring. Friday's game is for the Semi-State Championship, and if all goes well, we're heading to Indy for the State game. I know, I've mentioned this before, but it's the song that keeps repeating in my head and I won't be normal until it's over. My son, Alex, jibed me the other day, saying, "Aren't you glad I give you something to live for on the weekends?" That hurt. Of course I have MANY things to live for - I just can't think of anything else at the moment. By the way, he said that in response to a request I made about how even football stars need to take out the trash.

I am grateful for this blog. This self-imposed writing project. This public announcement on how I'm going to do something that would be easy to stop until next week. Like the diets and the New Year's resolutions and yada yada yada. One of my friends, Brenda, and I joke about how next week will be better, because we're always so swamped with this week. We toy with putting that on our tombstones.

What the heck? I'm just going to enjoy the ride whether I'm dashing or plodding. The Guadalupeproject will keep me honest.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Golf balls and beach stones

On my kitchen counter I have fashioned my own visual aid about keeping my priorities straight. It's from an email I received a while ago that went something like this:

A teacher had a glass jar on his desk and began filling it with golf balls. He asked his students, "Would you say this jar is full?" "Of course", said the kids, there was no room to put anything else in it. Then he took some pebbles and shook them in the jar, filling in the spaces around the balls. "Now is it full?" the teacher asked. "Most definitely full. There is no more room," replied the students. Next, he pulled out a container of sand and shook it in the jar. Every gap was filled. "Now is it full?" he asked. The students were afraid to answer. "Maybe," they said. Finally he took a can of beer from under his desk, opened it, and poured its contents into the jar. "NOW it's full, " the teacher said.

The golf balls are things of your highest priority. Your family, your relationship to God, your friends, your health. Always put these in your life first.

The pebbles are the other important things in your life. Your work, your responsibilities to your home, your hobbies and extra curricular activities. If you put these first, you won't have room for your most important priorities.

The sand is the minutia of life. The things you do that eat up your time and you don't have much to show for it. Like TV, surfing the Internet for hours, excessive playtime at bars/video games/sporting events, worrying about things you cannot control, cleaning the top of el refrigerador. (These are my ideas of time wasters, BTW.) If you fill your life with these things, there is obviously no room for anything else, and you haven't accomplished much with the life God gave you.

The beer. "Well", says the teacher, "there's always time for beer" (good times). But notice it was the last item added, not the first. Too much of a good thing can get you landed in jail or rehab.

My jar is filled with golf balls and beautiful stones I found on the beach at Lake Michigan. I opted out of the sand and beer, because I want to clearly focus on my priorities. Which, by the way, can change from week to week. When we found out a dear friend of ours was in the hospital in Indianapolis, the jar shifted and he became the priority. The bills can wait, and the dust can settle one more day before it's swept away. Our friend needed us.

Speaking of sweepers, wouldn't you know the last time I used one, it ate the cord and USB port of my new headset. I know you're getting sick of me whining about this, but this is getting ridiculous. So I went back to my oldest one. Before I re-jimmied my computer sound system again, I was literally shouting my answers to Rosetta. Thank God no one else was at home at the time!

One particular phrase that was impossible for me to get across to her was, "Donde vive usted?" (Where do you live?) The only way she would accept my response is when I said it with a loud lisp - the kind you make when you stick out your tongue and hold it while you're talking. "Thonde biba uthed." Like I said, she likes playing with you.

Tuesday night, I spent my hour in the chapel, reading and translating a wonderful little pamphlet on how to meditate in front of the Holy Eucharist. More or less like a tick sheet on what to pray about while you're there. The nice thing about it being in two languages, is that I can truly understand it. [Here's where my daughter would interject how a class taught in English might help...]

Que piensas? (What are you thinking of ?) Poco y poco (little by little). Pray for salud (health), memoria (memory), feliz (happiness).

Ahora bien (well), that's it for now!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I could use a shot of adrenaline now to get me going, but I sure didn't need any Friday night. We were pumped up. Our boys were playing for the Sectional football title and the song, "I Gotta Feeling" blasted from the stadium speakers as we entered the field.

We screamed and hooped and hollered for two hours, and were exhausted by the end of the game. Determination. That's the one word I have for our team of 66 players. Yes, they have talent and speed and good coaching, but it's their determination that defines their team. One of the boys interviewed for the local paper had warpaint under his eyes with the word "Finish," another had "Our Year." Honey, that's determination.

I thought about the many hours of training that has gone into this great season, now 12-0. This didn't just happen. They sweat buckets for this for years. My own minuscule experience in the weight room and in Body Combat this week were hard! Body Pump left me shaky, yet empowered in a strange way. I can't see myself doing it everyday like the boys do, perhaps because I don't have a big enough reason. They want to win State, I want to lose the batwings.

My dad's 80th birthday is tomorrow. I hope to be as lucky to celebrate life as he's done, with good health and good cheer, and his motto, "Never give up, never give up, never give up." Winston Churchill

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No one said it was going to be easy

House clean, bills paid, dinner premeditated, clothes washed. Anything else I can do to stall? I finally sat down this manana (which also means morning, as well as tomorrow) to take in a lesson or two with Rosetta, and discovered the headphone was nonfunctionado. What the heck! I burrowed through the instruction manual, and found it as Chinese as the language itself. I am not a computer wizard. In fact I think I dismantled something along the way.

So, I made a call to a very patient, saint-like phone operator at Rosetta's home office. She was Indian and very pleasant and helpful. Long story short, try plugging the microphone headset into a different USB port before you call.

I learned the days of the week: lunes, martes, miercoles, jueves, viernes, sabado y domingo. Funny how they start una semana on a Monday, instead of a Sunday. I also overheard phone conversations, "Con quien cenando usted?" (Who are you eating dinner with?). Perfect picture for the response, as she replied she was eating dinner with su hermana who was giving her an eye roll.

My extra-curricular Spanish dancing lesson took me out of the gym and into the church on Sunday. Lights. Camera. Action. This is really happening. We practiced the dance numbers as they would be performed on Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast day. My spot is dead center of the first group of pews, so there's no place to hide. Luckily, we've practiced the steps often enough that I don't really have to think about it. I hear the beat of the drum and blast of the horn, and my legs just take over. I've concluded that it's practice that makes this all click.

Time to put Spanish back on the front burner and start practicing! How else will I get around in Mexico?