Archive for April, 2008

At violin lessons last week, our very sweet teacher gently suggested that I try getting in some more practice with the kids. She added that I might try to find a time of day when the kids could really focus and concentrate on a lesson, “how about morning?” she proposed.


When we pulled away Cole asked me why Miss S____  wanted him to practice more. I explained that if he did, he would accomplish more each week and move on to new songs more quickly. There was a long silence. Like any typical kid Cole wants all the glory of knowing a new song, but does not want to have to give up any more time to get there.


Honestly, who can blame him? I drop him at school at 8:15 a.m. and the bus brings him back at 4:00 p.m. On Monday he has Cub Scouts, Tuesday is soccer, Wednesday he has to read us the current story in his reading book, Thursday we study for Spelling, and Friday I take the night off – like it or not. He bet Max C. that he would get the most book reports done this quarter, so he trying to finish a book a night. So you add in a shower, dinner, and a few minutes to inventory whatever Truman go into that day and there is really not much more left for violin, play, and additional violin. However, being the reliable, good natured kid that Cole is–  he suggested that we try morning.


I don’t know what I was thinking, but I agreed.


Mornings are a little crazy at my house. I consider a shower one of the few entitlements of the job, yet getting one in is never that easy to do. Trying to get everyone else up and dressed and fed and packed etc. etc. and a violin lessons is just not making the cut. However, when Grace woke the entire troop up at 5:45 a.m. on Friday – I decided to give it a try.


So they were all awake, playing, making messes and not doing any of the things they are supposed to – mainly at 5:45 a.m. I’d suggest SLEEP – but that’s just me. I got them all on track with lots of yelling and all-together poor parenting and we did get down stairs 1 hour early. Actually Cole played and did a very nice job. On the other hand, Anna Mae, who is typically a morning girl cried through the 20 minutes I tried to get her to play – still dwelling on the fact that I had yelled earlier.


I told this all to my girlfriend who – with a straight face – suggested that I could always wake each one up in the middle of the night. At 2:00 a.m. I could wake Cole and the at 2:30 a.m. I could wake Anna Mae. Then they could really focus on the lesson without distraction, they would sleep longer in the morning, and I wouldn’t have to yell so much.


Good points – true, but I decided to stick to the original plan. This morning at 6:00 a.m. I got them all up and dressed and we had 30 minutes to play before the final push to get into the car. I didn’t even yell. Best part is that with the nice day, and a little fresh air – they were all in bed almost an hour early tonight — including their mom who fell asleep on the couch for an hour. “Yawn” – so much for getting anything done tonight – now I have to get up even earlier so I can get lunches made in the morning… If this keeps up it will be about two weeks before I have backed their schedule up to 2:00 a.m. for real… Suddenly I’m thinkin’ hot lunch and G_d help them if they don’t thank me for this someday… Somehow we both know they aren’t going to – are they?

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I never know how the serious blogs are going to be received. There is pleasure in laughter – especially when I am able to find ways to laugh at myself. But there is also a comfort… a peace from just sharing thoughts. Today I need to affirm the things that I have worked so hard to plant in my mind. To remind myself mostly, to let go of what I can’t control and that God is taking care of it all.


This is triggered from a conversation I just had with my mom. She is having a rough week, which has turned into a rough few weeks, which will, it appears, turn into a rough month or more. She doesn’t say hello anymore when she calls. Instead she immediately updates me on the news of the day. I bite my lip when she phones in fear of what it will be that is about to jostle my world after the next ring.


I will save for you the details of each event as they merit their own blogs, however, as a point of understanding she called to say that she is headed to MF hospital to see my great uncle. Then she will go down the hill where his wife is recovering and check on her. After that she is headed to the next hospital where she will see her mother before meeting up with my dad who will be at St. C’s seeing his mother. Finally, they will head over to a friend’s home — a dear friend who just found out that she has lesions on her brain and is about to find out what exactly that means. There are others too. Others who have health concerns that are okay right now, but who work their way in and out of our conversations.


As I listened to Mom, I remembered to breath – that’s always the first thing. Then I thought, for myself as much as for her that I should say something — something that acknowledged the rough terrain of today, but looked forward to a more peaceful path in the future. Comfort.? Understanding? Humor didn’t seem appropriate as I tried to come up with something that went just a bit deeper.


So I told her that eventually she would move through all this and look back and everything would be alright. Not necessarily back to what it was, but something that was okay and would eventually be better than today. I wanted to quote the Danish theologian who observed that, “life can only be understood backwards, but …it must be lived forwards.” Or perhaps the words in a book that I keep next to my bed that advised to trust the Spirit in order to be free from anxiety and worry. The peace mom desires is on it’s way… “there’s absolutely nothing to fuss about…”


I must not have delivered my message well, because somewhere in there she got upset with my sister. I won’t say who, except that it’s one who did not go to church today. It was not my day to begin my career a spiritual guide and if I was going to set my sites on that endeavor I wouldn’t start with my mom. To paraphrase something that Jesus himself said… … it’s hard to be a profit in your own town. So I got off the phone fast knowing that eventually my sister was going to be mad at me.


However, as I started thinking about all the people Mom was worried about, including my sister, I came up with a few thoughts…


Trusting God is something that will come at exactly the time that it is supposed to. We can’t change other people, and when we try, unfortunately we might be getting in the Spirit’s way.


When people are in need, we can support and advocate and love them in ways that assist God’s plan. But, it’s a waste of time to question the Creator of the Universe; instead, we have to keep reminding ourselves that there is no more perfect a plan than God’s.


The phone just rang. It was my sister. I told her it was my fault before she had a chance to tell say that mom had just called to harass her. Somehow she didn’t seem surprised. When the world gets all mixed up we have a mom who tries to fix it. We love that about her.


However, right now it’s all for God to fix and we just have to trust. God has a plan for healing those who need healing, a plan for teaching those who need to learn, and a plan for getting my sister into church. There are moments when comfort comes in knowing that I just have to keep answering the phone, take care of what I can, and then stand back and watch.

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I have to admit it; I think I am just a little disappointed.  Before I go on, I have to say that, what I am about to say does not reflect on my husband or our relationship. It’s just me and my imagination.


Did you ever see the commercial, I have no idea what they were selling, but a woman whispers something to her husband and the implication is that it must have been like triple X.  Maybe it was for after shave or something because you are left thinking that they have a date for something more exciting than watching the 10:00 p.m. news together – if ya know what I mean…


So every time I saw that commercial I actually thought, “Well I’ve got some good stuff to whisper, but when that gets old I’ll figure out what the woman on the commercial was suggesting and that will certainly spice things up.”


So here I am going along in my great little life when out of the blue someone invites me to one of “those” parties. You know the parties where they sell – “stuff.”  No, I am not telling who invited me. If you were invited – then you know – otherwise I promised not to get her into any trouble – so mums the word J.


Anyway, I couldn’t go to the party, but I did ask for the catalogue. I figured this was my chance. I was going to be proactive and get the information before I actually needed it. Then I would just have ideas of what to whisper and I could work them in at the appropriate times.


Only now that I have the catalogues I realize the reason we don’t hear what the commercial woman said is that the producers of the commercial most likely didn’t really have her saying anything. I guess I’m not totally surprised. I’ve been married for awhile and you don’t get to this point without the opportunity to — you know — try a few things. (I imagine my husband ears turning red at this point, so I think the less I say the better – but come on– we have four kids…).


Anyway, I’m not sure what I was expecting and I guess I should be pleasantly surprised that what there was left in the suggestion box was stuff I was not really all that interested in anyway.  A few other things – like the swing or the pole – would kind of hard to explain to the kids. Still the reality of the situation remains – if there is jazzing to be done I guess I am going to have to come up with a plan on my own.


Honestly I think that’s why God gives you kids… so just most basic stuff is exciting when you actually find a time, a place, and an interest in doing it. If I could give the commercial woman a line I think it might be, “Hey Baby, the kids are all staying at Grandma’s house tonight.”  Trust me that in and of its self would be pretty exciting!

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If you are looking for a fun and exciting place to do an “all nighter” I can highly recommend the waiting room at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. It’s especially lively on Saturday nights in early spring. However in the interest of full disclosure – this past Saturday night was my first over night experience there– but it was hoppin’


I started my adventure with a handful of cousins, aunts and one uncle. We were there with my Grandma who was in need of emergency surgery. I am not in any way making light of the condition she was in, but now that she is feeling a bit better and I have started getting caught up on sleep – I am able to really appreciate the experience.


When we first arrived there was a man who could have easily been cast in a role as a Vietnam Vet in Forest Gump sitting kitty corner. I honestly was not paying much attention, but he must have caught the radar of my Cousin  C.B. (I’ll protect the names of the innocent J) because she insisted on wearing a surgical mask in fear of catching a communicable illness. As others walked into the waiting area I imagined them looking at our party of nine or so people all visiting in and telling stories with the poor girl who was so ill that she had to wear a mask. Honestly, I think they kept their distance from us – making it all the more entertaining.


Anyway after about an hour or so the nice lady at the desk came in and said Robert Soandso, Is there a Robert Soandso? She walked right past him and I swear he smirked at me. Then she turned toward us and said, “I am looking for Robert Soandso.” At this point we are all looking at who we assume is her man and she follow our gaze toward him. “I am looking for Robert Soandso,” she repeats and the guy answers, “Yea, so am I.” Then there is a long pause followed by him jumping out of his wheel chair and exclaiming, “Hey, here he is.”


Speaking only for myself I had to really work at not laughing. Not because I thought it would be rude, but more because I pictured his mother chiding me, “do not laugh– that only encourages him…”


It was not long after that when our group split-up — those that didn’t see the sport in staying up all night monitoring the coming and goings of the hospital waiting room vs.  the real die-hards.  I was a die-hard.


I think someone said there were four gun shot patients in the emergency room that night. I have no idea who said it and where they got their information. Most of what we know was overheard, so I am not feeling qualified to back any of this up. However, the next group of people to arrive was all pretty young – maybe in their late teens. I wondered who they were waiting for and why there were no adults with them. For some reason, perhaps I just assumed it; I thought they must be waiting for someone who had been shot.


After a long time of waiting they were told they could go back and see the someone they had come in with. Being always worried about explaining things to my mom I wondered how they were going to describe their night to their parents. Certainly more sad than funny, as they walked away I wondered if there were parents to explain things to.


Then in came the cleaning crew– young twenty-something year old guys who came in and cleaned the waiting room. They had a fancy vacuum that my Aunt N.G. took an immediate interest in. She has always had a very tidy house and – that’s not something easy to do unless you keep up with the latest tools. I thought the cool thing was how handy the attachment was. I have to admit that I as I watched I started to wonder about where I might get one of these really cool vacuums as well.  However, I could not for the life of me figure out the brand name on the vacuum and I offered to walk right over there and ask to see it, but both my aunts must have feared for my life because they insisted it was not quite that important. Funny how at 2:00 a.m. perspective of what is important really goes right out the window.


As the vacuum guy finished our area however, my other Aunt C.L. wondered why he had not used the cool attachment to get more of the dirt up from under the chairs. I think they must have been union cleaners, because that was clearly the job of the next guy with the cool broom. So we watched them clean up the area in a way that made it look clean, but I have to admit – not in a way that would make you believe even for a second they had removed the infectious illnesses that we so clearly sensed were infesting our clothing.


My favorite guy of the evening had a solution. He was sent out of the hospital area and back to the waiting area around 3:30 p.m. The person with him asked how he was going to get home and he said he was going to take the bus. It appeared unfortunate that he would have to wait until 5:00 a.m. for the first bus of the morning to show up.


The guy was a mess, but that was the last thing I thought about him because he kind of disappeared. Life went on and we all practiced sleeping while sitting straight up in uncomfortable chairs. We took turns sitting with Grandma who was slowly being evaluated, poked, and prodded. Then all of a sudden a nurse or at least a nice lady that works behind the counter came running past us to the men’s bathroom. She pound on the door and begins – in a very customer friendly way – so suggest to whoever is in there that they need to come out as they are making a mess. There were comments like – “you can’t take a bath in that sink – the water has been running for over an hour.”


We all looked at each other and then we turned to look at the man who came out of the bathroom. He was all cleaned up – with his hair all slicked back and his face washed – just a few minutes early to meet his bus. He gave us one of those old fashion nods that the men on Little House on the Prairie would do whenever a women would walk in and hand them a glass of water. As he exited stage right the cleaning crew entered stage left and went to clean up the bathroom.


It wasn’t long after that when we moved on to another waiting area. My Uncle T.C. went on a caffeine run and lots of cousins showed up. It was like a party and for those who know my family you will understand that any time there is an excuse to gather it is a time for fun – no matter how serious the reason for the gathering. We were pretty much the only people in this much cleaner and prettier waiting area. When my Cousin C.G. returned she no longer felt compelled to wear a mask.

However, those of us who stayed, ragged and unkempt as we were, we wore our wrinkled shirt tails proudly.  I am thinking of having T-shirts printed, “I survived the night in the Froedtert Hospital Waiting Room.”  Like all good fish tails – The adventure gets better and better each time I tell it J.

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