Posts Tagged With: Friends

Wingmen

When we moved from our house in town to our house 15 minutes from town, my husband and I started a list of all of the out-of-ordinary animals we saw (or evidence of them) around our property.IMG_0846

  • Muskrat
  • Snapping turtle (we named him Franklin and he lived in our pond until the flood)

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  • Deer

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  • Owls
  • Hawks
  • Eagles
  • Wild Turkey

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  • Rats (So. Many. Rats. I HATE rats)
  • Mice
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Elk

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  • Bull Snakes
  • Garden Snakes
  • Brown Bear (it knocked over our garbage can and stole bags of garbage one night, then knocked over our grill another)
  • Mountain lion (scat all over by our pond)
  • Rattle Snakes

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  • Bobcat (Howard, our dog, treed it and we watched it hiss at him for an hour)
  • Desert centipede

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  • Raccoon
  • Skunk
  • Milk Snake (in our house!)

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I had no idea what a city girl I was until I came face-to-face with my first rattle snake. Not to mention the rats, the mountain lions, the bears…Early on I realized that life would be different from here on out, and I had to raise my children accordingly. After we moved in, my husband and I set up the “buddy” system. The kids always had to have a buddy at all times when they were out exploring. I found myself constantly saying, “Where’s your buddy? Find your buddy! Don’t leave your buddy alone!” and the boys would run off, rolling their eyes. We found quickly that when we said “buddy” it didn’t have the right ring to it. For three rough-and-tumble boys, “Buddy” sounded far too sissy. But wingmen, now that was something little boys could get excited about. That night we found a really great you tube video of two fighter jets flying side-by-side, and we sat our boys down. We taught them about wingmen and told them of the grave responsibility they had for each other. A wingman never leaves his partner’s side. They help each other, they protect each other, and they warn each other of impending danger. They had graduated from “buddies” to “wingmen,” and it wasn’t a term to use lightly. They had a responsibility as brothers to stick by each other and protect each other, no matter what, no matter where. And it worked. I’m thankful for three boys that stick together, play together, and help each other out. Three wingmen flying side-by-side.

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This month I’ve been thinking about the “wingmen” I’ve had over the years in my life. Those that have flown beside me, who have helped me, and who have stuck with me no matter what. My amazing parents, my awesome sister, grandparents, in-laws, teachers, professors, friends, my husband…Those people that have flown by me both when the skies were clear and when the storms arose or bullets flew. More than anything, I’m thankful for a Father in Heaven who flies next to me, guides me, and lifts me up. The ultimate wingman.

This is a month of giving thanks, a month when we think about the amazing blessings we have in our lives. I imagine the things that we hold most dear and cherish more than ever this month are not things at all. They are the wingmen who have been at our side. Sometimes I think about those I love who have passed on. I think about the life they led and the life they left behind. I will always remember many years ago sitting in my grandma’s little living room after her funeral with cousins, aunts and uncles all around. Pictures were strewn across the floor. Pictures of old friends, new friends, family, and those she loved. Album after album of those that flew by her throughout her life. She left this life with very little worldly possessions. And that didn’t matter to any of us. She left behind so many with memories of her love and her influence. She flew by their side, and they flew by hers.

I’m so thankful for the wingmen in my life. Those that flew by me for only a short time, and those that continue to be there. This Thanksgiving let’s remember that our greatest blessings of all are those soaring through the winds of life by our side.

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Sticks and Stones–Bullying and What We Can Do to Help

My first grader came home from school the other day to tell me about a boy who hasn’t been very nice. “He doesn’t want to be my friend, Mom. I was trying to be his, but he doesn’t want to. He never wants to pass the frisbee to me. He just isn’t nice to me and I don’t know why.” My heart broke. I’m pretty sure I held back tears as I thought about what a tough world he was now a part of. And then a moment came to my mind from many years ago. A day that I probably had filed in the back of my mind to be forgotten. But as we walked up our driveway, the thoughts came flooding back.

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I can remember the moment vividly. I was a senior that year, and my assigned seat in Mr. M’s class was just a few back from her and her friends. In front of her sat a larger guy, someone I guess you wouldn’t call “cool.” In fact, to put it bluntly, he was a geek. He had bottle cap glasses, pimples, his clothes were old and baggy, and he ate lunch at that one spot in the commons area with all the other dorky kids. I don’t remember his name, but I certainly remember hers. Everyone knew her name. She was one of the most popular girls in school. Pretty, athletic…she was what every girl wanted to be, who every boy wanted to be with. As Mr. M wrote on the board the room was silent with scribbling pencils. Just ahead, I saw her pull out a quarter. Getting the attention of her friends, she smiled and leaned forward in her desk. In front of her, his pants opened like a plumber’s, giving just enough space for a quarter to slip through. Her friends stifled laughs as the quarter dropped from her fingers. His head jerked up. As he ran to the bathroom to retrieve the object now located in his britches, she smirked as several laughed at his expense.

And life went on. The boy was humiliated, the girl got a good laugh, the cycle continued. No one stood up. Not a classmate, not a parent, not a teacher.

Even while writing this my heart races with the memories of those days. Honestly, I was just a bit scared of her. Of all of them. And so I kept my thoughts to myself. If only I could go back. If only I had the courage in those days to stand up for those who were torn down. If only I’d put myself in the lines of fire to save someone else’s self-esteem, image, and heartache.

…But I didn’t.

Maybe by watching and not doing anything My lack of action was just as bad as what they had done.

“When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!

It’s that simple.”

–Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I have no idea what the answer is. Listening to my little boy broke my heart, and I desperately wish I had an answer. But the more the story brewed in my mind, I did have a few thoughts. Maybe we can still change the tides of bullying. It’s worth a shot.

  • How do we talk about others in front of our children? They listen even when we don’t think they are.
  • Do we show them courage by standing up to others who rip those less fortunate (or more, jealousy is a strong emotion) down with gossip?
  • Do we actively encourage our kids to treat others with kindness and respect? And do we show them every day how that looks in our interactions with friends, family and strangers alike?
  • Do we happily serve others and encourage our kids to do the same?
  • Do we encourage our children to play with others who are different from them and encourage them to include those who aren’t being included?

I’m only a mom to small children. I know the teenage years will prove to be much more difficult in these regards. But maybe if we start now. Maybe if we try to teach them while they’re young, it will stick. And maybe it won’t, but it’s worth a shot.

IMGP0419Looking back, I struggled with situations like these, not so much because of the girls who thought others were less than them, but because the adults around us didn’t seem to notice or care. In some ways it was even encouraged, without them knowing, of course. It was discouraging as a kid, and now as an adult I continue to watch it from this side of life. A bully doesn’t always attack with fists. In a majority of situations, bullies attack with word and deed. And they hurt. These predators are often charming, charismatic, lovable, pretty or handsome, seem to be well-liked, athletic, and smart. But what they do to classmates “less” than them is devastating. If we as adults joke around with them, put them on a pedestal and treat them as if they were high and mighty, try to be their friend, and laugh at their seemingly harmless jokes, the cycle will continue. Do we really want that?

We don’t have to be mean. We don’t have to stop treating them with respect and kindness. But let’s try to be more watchful. Let’s try to bring those up that otherwise might find themselves down. We must be conscientious of how we treat all children, charming, funny, cute…or not.

I wish I knew the answers. I wish I could go back and stand up for others instead of idly standing by. I wish I could change unkind words I have said in the past to and about others. I wish I could protect my son from those boys and girls that don’t want to be his friend and who don’t want to be kind. I wish so many things, but for now I will hope that we can encourage our children and do better ourselves. Let’s stop the bullying, no matter how old we happen to be.

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A great 10 minute video. Definitely worth the watch!

Bullying–Stop It by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

And here’s just the talk:

The Merciful Obtain Mercy

Categories: parenthood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Beauty of Sharing

Our house is under quarantine today. Between the coughs, sneezes, boogers, and wheezes, I made the executive decision that today we rest. I figure it all began about like this…

R, at school: “Hey Timmy! Can I borrow your pencil?”
Friend Timmy (which is, actually, a fictional school mate and really no one in particular): “Sure! Aaa-aa-aa-choooo!” –hands R a snotty pencil.
R: “Gee, thanks, Timmy! Let me just stick it in my mouth while I grab a piece of paper.”

Yes, we all thank you, Timmy. All because of you so graciously sharing your snotty pencil, our entire family is infected with this miserable bug.

My kids are pros at sharing their germs. I can’t think of a time when a cold or flu bug has not made a run through our entire family. I can’t say that I’m exactly thrilled about this, but I do have to say that it makes me happy that they are fantastic at sharing other things besides germs as well.

…All three share a room. I know, it’s crazy. But it works! However, that typically means at 5am our day often starts like this, “Psst, R, are you awake? HEY R… R!! Wake up! It’s morning!!!!!!!”
…They are fantastic at sharing peas, broccoli, mushrooms, and carrots (go figure, right?).
…T.V. Time, is, well, shared. Either that, or Mom chooses, and that typically means some girly show. “Nooo!!! Ok, ok, we can watch M’s show, just anything but THAT!”
…Toys are usually shared relatively well, cookies some of the time, and crayons almost always.

As parents we constantly drill into our kids the importance of sharing. At the park, at friends’ houses, when friends come to visit…the sharing never ends. But why? Why do we feel this need to teach our kids to be giving with others? Frankly, I would have been fine if Timmy would have refused to share his pencil.

A year ago our area was hit with a horrible flood. The rain came for days and days and never seemed to stop. Roads closed, bridges washed away, and canyon roads crumbled into the torrent below. Houses filled with mud or completely washed away as rivers changed their direction and spilled over their banks. The news was filled with heart-breaking stories of families being separated, homes being lost, and even lives being swept away. Tragedy beyond comprehension.

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Even Our *little* stream close by turned into a torrential river during the flood. Luckily, nothing could reach our house. Unfortunately not all of our neighbors were able to say the same.

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But among the disaster came stories of sharing. People came out of the woodwork to give of their talents, time, energy, monetary assets, and love. Neighbors came together and really showed what it meant to be a neighbor. Regardless of religion, race, political preference, or any sort of differences, people worked side by side, sharing all they had.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” –Fred Rogers

The kindness of others was truly inspiring, amazing, and incredible those long, rainy days, and for many, many days following.

We were so thrilled when the sun finally came out!

As difficult as it is for our children to share toys, rooms, treats, and time, This is why I think we do it. Because eventually, as adults, we hope they will be good neighbors. That they will bring their shovels, buckets, and wheelbarrows to help a friend. Or more importantly, a stranger. That they will be willing to put together a bag of clothes, a warm meal, or lend a shoulder to cry on.

So for now, as my boys and I share our box of tissues, chicken noodle soup, and sit on the couch today, I will be thankful that my kids are learning to give. I’ll be happy that Timmy’s mother is teaching him as well. I’ll be glad that this world is full of helping hands in a planet where disaster, sadness and despiration are all too often well-known. And most of all, I’ll look forward to the day when my boys can share their time, talents, monetary assets, and love with those in need around them.

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Categories: Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Chase is On…(Helping My Boys *Eventually* Navigate the World of Girls)

This year was certain to be different. As my six-year-old son climbed those big bus steps and waved goodbye, I couldn’t help but think he looked so grown-up. His first time at school ALL day, first time eating lunch in the cafeteria, first time riding the bus to and from school…First grade certainly would be a year of firsts. The youngest boys and I anxiously waited for him to come home. Afternoon seemed to take forever to arrive, and by noon M had asked me at least a dozen times when school would be done. Finally it was time. With a big grin on his face, R raced up our driveway.

As we sat outside eating cookies, In typical motherly fashion I bombarded him with the string of questions that had been flooding my mind all day. “So buddy, who do you sit by? Did you go to PE? Is your teacher nice? Did you make any new friends? Who’d you ride with on the bus? Did you remember to thank the bus driver? Did you read any books? What’d you do at recess?” In typical first grade boy fashion, he responded, “Andrew. Yep. She’s nice. Yep. Tyler. Yep. Yep. Played soccer.” And continued chowing down on his cookie. Realizing that I wouldn’t be able to coax much out of him while cookies were around, I gave it a rest. Not a few minutes later, he added, “Oh, and at lunch recess the girls chased us around. They were trying to kiss us, Mom! But don’t worry. I ran too fast for them. I bet we’ll have to do that a lot this year.”

When he told me that, this is what I saw in my mind...

When he told me that, this is what I saw in my mind…

...But I'm afraid this is reality. When did this happen???

…But I’m afraid this is reality. When did this happen???

Kindergarten year was a unique one for R. By the last month of school, his class only consisted of six kids. Five boys and one girl. It started out with 12 (still only one girl), but slowly dwindled down. GIRLS. That would be a new dynamic this year I hadn’t even considered.

When my husband got home from work that night and the boys were all asleep, I told him what R had done at recess. “Oh!” he exclaimed. “I remember that game in elementary school. That was fun.” I gave him a death stare. “Hey, I always ran fast enough to keep away! You mean you didn’t play that? I thought everyone played it.” Our first grade boy was being chased by girls to get kissed, and apparently I wasn’t cool enough to chase the boys when I was a kid. This was devastating news to a mom of three boys. Girls? First grade?? That cutesy little chant, “…so-and-so and what’s her name, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.” came into my mind. My son was running away from girls, and according to my husband it was totally normal.

Before I sound like a lunatic mother with a little cootie-phobia, Let me clarify. Of course I wasn’t afraid of my son getting caught and kissed. He’s pretty darn fast, even I can hardly catch him! Ok, ok. And I suppose a little peck on the playground in first grade doesn’t exactly spell out matrimony. But suddenly in my mind I was imagining a little boy ten years older taking a girl on his first date. Eight years after that bringing a girl home from college to “meet the parents,” and only a matter of time before a full blown wedding would be planned. Whew! Those years sure flew by in my mind! Playing chase on the playground, simply the beginning.

As my husband and I brushed our teeth that night, I concocted a plan. We have so many friends with adorable little girls. How about an arranged marriage? It worked wonders for so many of my husband’s co-workers from other countries. Why not give it a try? My husband was less than keen on that idea. Since that was out, I was left with only one option. Let my boys make their own decisions and teach them to be good kids the best I can. Darn. I still kinda like the arranged marriage idea (any takers?? 🙂 ).

I remember coming home from college and going on walks with my mom. We’d come to a piece of garbage on the ground, and every time my mom would pick it up and say, “Chelsi, a nice boy would never throw garbage on the ground.” She’d then always add, “and when you meet someone you think might be the one, watch how he treats his mom, because that’s important. That’s very possibly how he will treat you. Does he put the cart back into the cart spot at the grocery store? Does he listen to what you have to say? Can you talk to him?” Those words of advice stuck with me, and when I found my husband, I was pleased to be able to say yes to every one on my mom’s list, plus so much more.
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So, my boys, though you won’t need this list for many, many years, here’s your mother’s two cents of what I hope you can remember when the girls are doing a bit more than chasing you on the playground.

How does she talk not only to, but also about her family? Does she speak of them kindly?

Does she have good spending habits? Is she wise with her money?

Does she have a healthy view of her body and appearance?

Does she listen?

Similar interests?

How does she treat the waiter/waitress? Is she kind to others?

Does she return the grocery cart to the appropriate spot?

For now I will just try to teach my boys and help them to develop good habits that will attract a kind, considerate, happy girl. I’ll do my very best to teach them that garbage always goes in the garbage can, carts should never be left anywhere but the appropriate “cart designated” spots, and people should always be treated with respect, especially women and girls. I’ll try to help them to be good listeners, that potty talk is incredibly unattractive, and to chew with their mouths closed. And for now, I’ll remind my sons to run as fast as they can and try not to let those girls catch them!

I'm afraid my boys will forever be in my mind as this...

I’m afraid my boys will forever be in my mind as this…

...and this...

…and this…

...and this. Just sweet, little boys. Always little. Maybe that's just the way a mom's mind works.

…and this. Just sweet, little boys. Always little. Maybe that’s just the way a mom’s mind works.

Moms of those sweet little girls, I promise to do my best at raising sons worthy of your daughters. Will you do the same? And 20 years from now we can both be thrilled that they have found each other.

Categories: Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

What Friendship Is All About

I’ve been reminiscing about those good old days of high school lately. Maybe it’s getting back in touch with old and dear friends, maybe it’s receiving that ten year reunion invitation, maybe it’s coming across this jackpot of memories while cleaning up photo boxes (I hope you friends don’t mind me sharing a few!), maybe it’s my first child finishing his first year of elementary school. Regardless, in all my reminiscing I have come to realize a few things. I’ve realized that so much can change in ten years! College, weddings, kids, careers, travels… It almost feels like a lifetime ago. On the other hand, it hit me this week that time goes so fast. While so much has changed, I can’t believe  a decade has gone by since those care-free days in that small town. But more than anything I’ve realized that good friends are hard to find, even harder to leave, and impossible to forget.

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Homecoming dinner (fine garage dining). Spaghetti at Tedrianos or something like that, right?

Last night as my husband and I were getting ready for bed I was enlightening him on my life back then. I was in the middle of telling him about how for fun my friends and I would go to Goodwill and have fashion shows with the most ridiculous, outlandish dresses and outfits we could find when my dear husband–national science olympiad champ, valedictorian, Star Wars and Lego fan–interrupted. “…Man, you guys were dorky! You think I was the geek? I would have been WAY too cool for you!” I was shocked. “Us? DORKY? Never! We were so cool!” But the more I thought about it, I realized that maybe, just maybe, he was right (isn’t there a movie about that?). We may have been nerds, but we sure had fun! And honestly, looking back, what does it matter if we were dorky or cool?

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Ten years have passed since we posed in our fashionable Goodwill attire for the camera, had a sleepover on the trampoline, passed notes in Spanish class, or serenaded our coaches with our goofy songs on long rides home from soccer games. Ten years since we ate lunch under that tree in the commons area, laughed at our inside jokes, sang karaoke together, went on bike rides, saved seats for each other at an assembly, did each other’s hair before prom, or exercised to “Sweating to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons (which is, of course, how all of the cool kids spend their Friday nights, right??). But ten years have not made us forget. I’m sure not one of us have forgotten how we stood up for each other. How we supported each other in our various activities. How we all had different beliefs, different hopes and dreams, different talents and abilities, came from different backgrounds, had different values. But that didn’t matter. We respected each other. If it mattered to one of us, it mattered to all of us, because that’s what friends do. They care. They never made me feel silly or left out for things I chose to or not to do. They respected my decisions and never pressured me to compromise my standards. We lifted each other up, helped each other realize and reach our goals. We haven’t forgotten how how we celebrated each other’s achievements and comforted each other in our failures, disasters, and disappointments.

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Soccer! Such great memories on that field!

It really doesn’t matter if we were the coolest or dorkiest high schoolers ever. What matters is that we were friends. And that friendship helped shape all of us into the people we are today. Teachers, mothers, fathers, scientists, physical therapists, entertainers, hospital staff, engineers, independent thinkers, leaders, service men and women, secret agents, missionaries, nannies, spouses, believers, friends. I owe so much to that group of girls (and guys). We don’t see each other often. We don’t talk on the phone or exchange letters like maybe we should. But the memories we share are worth gold. And when I need them, no matter how many years pass, I know they will always be there to help, no matter what.

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Waiting for our dear friend to walk down the isle in her beautiful, white dress. Remember how she was over an HOUR late?? 🙂

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These girls came to my rescue the morning of my wedding when I realized I hadn’t thought about how to do my hair. Thank goodness for amazing friends with that kind of talent!

I hope my little boys will have the opportunity to make friends like the ones I was fortunate to know through those good old days of elementary on up to high school. Friends that can lift them up, help them realize what amazing people they truly are, and support them in their goals and beliefs. I hope they realize that it really doesn’t matter if they follow the cool crowd or if they and all their friends are four-eyed, metal-mouthed, freckle-faced geeks. I hope that they can seek out those that encourage them to be better people, and be that friend in return. Because I know now from experience that when they look back, they will discover that they owe a great deal of who they are to the friends they had then. I hope they hang on to those friendships. No matter how far the distance, no matter what path life takes them down, no matter how many years pass.

Because good friends are hard to find, even harder to leave, and impossible to forget.

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…the great thing about growing up in a small town is that some dear friends have been there for as long as I can remember!

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Karaoke night. I wonder if we could find whatever Col is filming…that would be fun!

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Back in the day when we could handle those crazy amusement park rides. Don’t know about the rest of you, but I do believe my days of roller coasters are over.

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