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Life Lessons and Disappointment

The greatest role of a parent is to give their child the foundation to go out into the world and handle whatever comes at them.  As the years move into fast forward, I am reminded of these lessons again and again.   This past week I got to watch this in action with my sister. Mary

She had been working towards a goal for many, many months.  She prepared, she prepared, and then she prepared some more.  She went into the final stretches towards the goal with everything that she had.   She had a large cheerleading section behind her…”there is no way you can miss on meeting this goal”…”you are obviously going to make it”…”you can’t lose”.  These were the shouts of encouragement that we smothered her with.  She was the one who kept us all grounded with “its not a done-deal”…”you never know until the end”…”nothing is guaranteed”.

In the end, she didn’t reach her goal.  She came so close, but we never attack a goal with the idea of being the runner-up, do we?  We were so disappointed for her.  Well, guess what she said?…

“My mother always taught me that things happen for a reason. I learned so much on the way, I gained so much, I’ll be ready for the next time. This is actually a good thing, Barb, cuz now I can plan my trip to visit you for your birthday!”

Really?  She is able to take the disappointment with grace, and then turn this around to make ME feel better.  We have been plotting a weekend when she could fly out to join me for a big 50th Birthday party celebration, but had put the decisions on hold pending her goal.  Within seconds, she was looking past her disappointment and looking forward to what is next.  My hat’s off to you, Mary.  You are my hero.  When I grow up, I want to be like you!

Mom and Dad, you did your job well.

Barb-blog-sig2

Posted in 50th birthday, being a better person.


One word

Okay everyone.  Today I am thinking of moods.  Happy.  Sad.  Sillly.  Excited.  Bubbly.  Whiny.  How many moods do you have? Which is your favorite?  What mood are you in now?

Drop a comment with just one word that describes your mood.

Mine right now:  Content

Barb-blog-sig2

Posted in Uncategorized.


The Easter Egg Hunt

I have some vivid memories of Easter Sundays on the farm.   I remember the dress that I wore one year at the age of 5 to my Uncle Vic’s house, I remember the corsages that my Dad bought my sister and I every year, I remember the 100 egg omolet that I helped stir at Grandpa’s house.   But one memory that sticks out for me is from one particular Easter morning hunt at the farm.

Every Easter morning all of my siblings and I would wake up early (usually before the crack of dawn) and search the house for those Easter goodies that my folks hid.   One particular year, when I was a pre-teen, I remember how we scoured through the house with no results.  We lived in a large farm house, and there were lots of places to hide these magical goodies, but we usually didn’t have any trouble uncovering the secret hiding places.  But not this year.  We searched, and we looked, and we hunted…no luck.

The five of us gathered in the kitchen not quite sure what to make of it. kids initials ring Did they skip it this year?  Did they forget?  Did they think we were getting too old for this kind of fun?  My brother sat down at the table to think.  Next thing we knew, he shouted, “I found it!”   Sitting right on top of the vinyl multi-textured table cloth were five little rings with each of our initials in them.  How cool was this?

I loved wearing that little ring with the adjustable band.  But, unfortunately, I didn’t get to wear it for long.  Later that week, I was playing out in the yard on a warm afternoon.  I grabbed the top rail of the wood corral to jump over the fence and catch up with my brother who was looking for a lost baseball in the pen behind the cattle chute.  As soon as I grabbed the rail, the adjustable edge of my little ring caught on something and went flying.  Oh No!!  I couldn’t believe that had just happened.  I didn’t see which way it went.  I didn’t know where to start looking.  I’m pretty sure that it went into the corral, which unfortunately currently housed a bull that I was none too excited to hang out with.  With the recent spring weather, the corral was also muddy and uneven, not the best territory to treasure hunt in.

I eye balled the ground from the top of the fence.  My brother looked around a little for me in the corral (thanks for that bro!), but since we didn’t know which direction it flew, it was an impossible task.  I looked in the cattle chute, in case it had flown behind me, I looked on the cement ground below me, in case it had simply fallen.  No luck.  It was gone.   I was devastated.

For years, whenever I went into this area, I found myself surveying the ground…you know…just in case.  To this day, my favorite pieces of jewelry are still rings.  I’m sure this was the beginning of it for me.  Someday, I will have to acquire a ring with my initial on it to replace this wonderful Easter gift from my folks.  Yes, Easter means more to me than this superficial story might suggest, but so do the precious memories of growing up on the farm and the love of my family. This story, to me, is the story of those irreplaceable memories of the love of my family.

What was your favorite Easter Egg hunt?

Barb-blog-sig2

Posted in family, farm.

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What do you do for fun?

Them:  “What do you do for fun?”cornfield

Me:  “Uhm. Work.”

Them:  “You consider that fun?”

Me:  “Yes.”

Them:  “Don’t you have a life?”

Me:  “You mean working isn’t living?”

Work to live.  Live to work.  Who’s to say which is right. Many years ago my Mom put together some photos from old slides that Dad took as we were growing up on the farm.

She had the slides spliced together and put onto a VHS tape.   If you are of a certain age and are saying “slides??” … “a VH-what?”, then please move on…there is nothing for you here.  kidding.  She didn’t have the technology available at the time to add a voice-over to the tape, so she typed out a script to go along with the photos as the tape played.  Boy, how times have changed!!

It was a lot of fun to see these old pictures of our life as we grew up farming, setting water in the fields, driving tractors, mowing lawns…all the chores that go along with a farm and a big family.

One of the comments that my Mom added to her script is a comment that I will always remember.    The comment accompanied a slide showing a couple of us kids playing in the irrigation ditch…dirty…wet…happy.

I’m sure that it was a really hot day and we were out setting water in the corn fields.  One of the “rules” that Dad had layed down is “never get into the ditch”.  I’m sure that it was for safety, or to preserve the integrity of the ditch, not sure…but we usually always followed that rule.  On this particular day…not so much.

Dad caught the moment on one of those cherished slides.  (I wish I had a copy to post and show you. I always wondered why Dad took a picture instead of being mad at us for breaking the rules.  It must have been a REALLY hot day!)  The photo showed some young kids with huge grins on their faces.   The comment from Mom:  “You worked so hard, but you thought you were having fun.”

That comment has been a lifelong philosophy that has followed my brothers and sister and I.  All five of us know how to work hard.   My younger brother and I have talked about this before.  We work hard, then we work hard some more.   But we still think we are having fun.

Please don’t tell me that I’m not having fun, that could ruin it for me!!

Barb-blog-sig2

Posted in mom and dad.


Talent

playing guitarToday, I thought about talent.   I never fail to be impressed with the talent that I see around me every day.   Pure talent isn’t impressive to me all by itself.  What captures my attention is what people do with their talent.  What I admire are those who have talent but are always doing whatever they can to improve.  That’s impressive.

Consider:

  • The team member who is so smart and good at what they do, yet they continue to read books, blogs and other materials to constantly increase their knowledge.
  • The veteran musician who is a master at their craft, yet continue to practice, pushing themselves to always be the best they can be.
  • The athlete who dedicates their life to their sport, with the goal to reach peak performance.

All you have to do is open your eyes and look around.  Talent is all around you, in more ways then you can count.  Your hairdresser, your bus driver, your barista, your physician, your teacher, your neighbor, your children…YOU.  Are you using your talent?  Are you nurturing your talent?   Am I?

Barb blog sig

Posted in education, learning, love of learning.

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My mom asked me to…

The way I was raised..if your mother asked you to do something…well, you did it!  It is for this reason that I have been living with a slight degree of guilt for the last couple of years.  O.K.  It is more then slight guilt, and it has been more then a couple of years, but who’s counting?

Let me set the scene for you.  It is a sunny day in November 2005…or was is 2004?  The guilt has me confused!  We were in Colorado celebrating the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my parents.  All five of their children were in attendance.  Our opening presentations were truly Oscar worthy..we are an amazing bunch of kids. I’m sure you are already wishing that you were there too.  (Come on….cut me some slack here, the years of guilt has me slightly dilusional.)

One by one, in chronological order of age, each of  us children took the microphone to share some words about our parents.  We were all very eloquent, witty, delightful, humorous, and totally brilliant.  (Ooops, sorry, slipping again.)  Being child number four, I spoke fourth. I guess that might have been obvious…?

Anyway…my mother asked me that night to write down what I had said so that she could save it.  “Sure, Mom. No problem.”  Uhhmm.  Maybe it was a slight problem, because I haven’t done it yet.  Doh!   Now, if you have been able to follow all the mathematical equations so far, you have beaten me to the conclusion that I AM LATE. Bad daughter. Bad, bad daughter.  But never fear Mom, you have taught me well.  “Better late then never” will be the lesson I will call on, right next to the “Always do what your mother asks you to do” lesson. So, here goes, to the best of my recollection.

“My younger brother, Tom, and I talk to each other every Mom & Dad, Manhattan Nov 09morning on the phone as we commute to work.  We typically talk about business, solving each others corporate problems.  We are brilliant that way, just ask us! (yes, I really said that…oops!)  and we talk about family.  One day we got to talking about our parents.  We pondered the question of which parent was the worrier.  I thought that it was Mom. Tom thought it was Dad.  We discussed this for a while until we realized that we really didn’t know.  Who was the stricter parent?  We didn’t know.  We talked about a few more personality traits until we realized what a truly united couple they always were.  As parents you didn’t know where one ended and the other began.  There was no playing one against the other…they were truly in this together.  What a great example they gave us.  Like Mary mentioned before me, yes I want to be like my Mom when I grow up, but mostly, I want to LOOK like my Mom.  She still looks so amazing!”

Whew!  Here you go, Mom. Better late then never, right?  You and Dad still got it goin’ on.  I love you both!

Barb blog sig

Posted in 50th Anniversary, family, parents.


You cannot prepare them for this

She couldn’t speak.  She had spent the afternoon crying.  She was in shock and devastated.  The best she could do was send me a message on Skype.   “I have something that you need to hear.”   This is the message that beeped into my skype stream late one afternoon.  The tears and sorrow flowed through as the words poured out of her.

I watched the instant messages from my daughter as she shares with me that one of her dearest friends had suddenly passed away.  Noone knew what happened, noone saw it coming, noone could believe it.   I knew that she was not prepared to deal with this.

Are we ever ready to deal with this?  Certainly not.   She has experienced the loss of great grandparents. cj and lee stover She lives 1200 miles away from my childhood home so these were family members that were not a part of her day to day life.   This time…this was close to her home.  Lee was special.  Lee was someone who she had spent three years with at college…hanging out in each others dorms, going to school events together, studying together, eating together, taking road trips together, laughing together, crying together.   He had graduated a year before my daughter, but they remained close.  Lee and his girlfriend had recently spent some time over the holidays in our home.  Our home was one of the stops on their “couch surfing” tour as they visited good friends.

Lee had the biggest heart.  It was evident to everyone who came near him.  Just to be in the same room with him, you knew that you were being wrapped in love and kindness.  In the end, it was his heart, it was just too big.  He shared what he was supposed to share with us mere mortals, and now God has asked him to expand his influence from heaven.

How do you prepare your children for this kind of devastating loss?  I don’t think you do.  The hardest part is that my daughter lives 200 miles away from me and I could only give her virtual hugs.  All I could do was encourage her to take the time to travel to Lee’s home town to honor his life.  He is also from Colorado (my home state), so my family members were called, plans were made, weather reports were consulted, and she and a friend set off for Colorado.

I feel better that even though I cannot wrap my arms around her in comfort, my family will be able to.  Thanks Steve and Arlene, and everyone else back home, for taking care of my baby girl!

Barb blog sig

Posted in best friends, comforting words, family, friends, friendship, kids growing up, life experience.


Motherhood is an Olympic sport

I love watching the Olympic games.  Summer Games.  olympic flagWinter Games.  It makes no difference.  I love to watch.    I am always in awe of these athletes who have committed so much of their life to a sport that they are passionate about.

We hear all the stories about the drama and the tales of how these athletes got to where they are today.  But don’t you think that being a mother could also be considered an olympic sport?   Why is that, you ask?  Just consider:

  • Nine months of progressively increased weight lifting
  • Complete absorption and education into a new focus area
  • Sleep deprivation endurance testing
  • Accelerated training for intuitive interpretation of a foreign language (babies cry)
  • Repetitive training techniques to enhance speed and reaction time (diaper changing)
  • Special equipment for enhanced visual skills (eyes in the back of your head)
  • Stretching endurance exercises (financial budget)
  • Crash course medical training
  • Training to become instantly alert at the sound of a telephone at 2:00 a.m.
  • Ability to remain awake and alert during overnight teen festivities

I don’t know…Just Sayin.

Barb blog sig

Posted in mom and dad, olympics, parenting, parents, Uncategorized.


Spring is coming!

I know, I know.  It isn’t even March yet, but Seattle has been giving us somepioneer square incredibly beautiful weather this year.   My company moved to a location in the fabulous Pioneer Square area of Seattle a month ago.  I have had lunch outside at least four times!!

Can this be?   Is it really still winter?   Shhh…don’t tell Seattle.  It has been awesome!  Bring on the Spring!

Next up…Spring Training….Oh Yeah!

and…open toe shoes

and…long summer drives

and…longer days

and…summer days at the ballpark

and…walks in the park

It’s all good!   Bring it on!

Barb blog sig

Posted in baseball, Seattle, summer in Seattle, sunshine.


My daughter is allergic to cars

No, that isn’t a typo.   Mine is a family that suffers from allergies.  I have been plagued with this my entire life.  Weeds, dust, pollen, molds, yeast, dogs, cats, even paper particles.  (I know…strange.)  My poor son sniffles and sneezes from seasonal allergies.  We keep over the counter allergy medicine in the cupboard at all times.

Which brings me to my daughter.  She has an allergy that is a little more difficult to stock over the counter solutions for.   She is allergic to cars.    No, not cats…cars.

I got one of those dreaded phone calls today. I had spent a fantastic weekend hanging out with my daughter, enjoying the Billy Joel and Elton John concert.  (The boys still got it after all these years!)  She had stayed over an additional day to hang out with her brother some more.  (She gets points for that.)  She left to drive back over the mountains today on the five hour trek back to her home.  The phone rings way too early for it to be the call that she is almost home.  “Mom, guess what?? My car broke down again”.   What??  This is unbelievable!

In her career as a driver she has had to be towed four, no make that five times.   She has blown one engine, had one car accident, been through two cars, countless repairs and many hours in the company of a tow truck driver.

car towingToday it appears that her timing belt broke and the pistons are damaged.  Can you say…new motor?    We had the car towed (for the second time today) to her home town and we will be securing a second opinion.  Not that I don’t trust the first mechanics opinion…but I think I just need a second person to tell me that the car no longer has a pulse.

This makes me sad.  Our car has a name.  He is Geno.  Geno has been with me for almost 10 years, and had taken us all over the country.  We have been to family weddings in Kansas, we have been on road trips through Montana to Colorado, he has taken us to Portland for multiple Christmas holidays.  He is Geno.  It breaks my heart to think about it…but I know in my heart that putting in a new motor isn’t reasonable.

If anyone knows of an over the counter remedy to help my daughter with this allergy, I would appreciate the information.   I think the best remedy is a bus pass.  Sorry kid!

Barb blog sig

Posted in daughter.

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