Saturday, November 17, 2018

Cocaine In The Soda

My mother wasn't very good at keeping house. She didn't enjoy cleaning and never really made an effort at it. Dishes and laundry. Those were the main two things she always made sure she made time for. Dishes to eat off of and clean clothes for her family.  She also wasn't a very good cook. She never tried many new recipes and when she did they were usually a mess.  She was however, an amazing baker. She loved making chocolate chip banana bread and brownies and loved to make homemade bread and friendship bread. She loved snickerdoodles and butterscotch cookies. She made amazing treat bags and always had a gift of food for everyone she would meet. She loved making chocolates for weddings, graduation parties and funerals. She loved blessing people with her talent for baking.

My Grandma Charlotte was a caterer. Weddings, funerals and special events. She also, wasn't a very good cook, but appetizers and finger foods were her forte.  She was also a great hostess. She seemed to always have the table set with her beautiful Italian plates in case a meal needed to be served. She decorated for every holiday and loved to have her family over for Sunday lunch after church. She was always helping someone, loving someone and showing others a better way to do things when they were struggling.

Both my mom and grandma were amazing women who seemed to always get so much done. My mom managed the finances and class schedules for my sister's dance studio for many years.  She oversaw all fundraising ventures for the high school band and for my music school. She organized church youth group fundraisers and seemed to have the natural ability to always recruit all the help needed to make every new venture successful.  My mother often worked part time and even full time during most of my growing up years. She usually worked in an office setting as office manager or as an executive assistant. She was articulate, hardworking, focused, task and detailed oriented and amazing with people. She never struggled to find a new position when it was time to move on. My mom also would find the time to play games with my sister and I. She made sure to save plenty of time for swimming at the lake and family outings in the summer. She also made sure that any activity that my sister or I wanted to be involved in not only happened, but that we always had a ride to and from. How is it possible? I remember believing that she must have cloned herself and that is why she was always able to get so much done.

My grandmother was in charge of counting and depositing the offering from church each Sunday. She was in charge of the kitchen and all of the events held at the church when it came to serving food.  She was helpful with neighbors, parishioners at church and loved taking care of and spending time with her 6 grandchildren.  She checked in with those that were ill or just had a baby and made sure they had everything they needed. She always took time to watch the news and wheel of fortune and play a few hands of gin. She loved down time in the evening and she enjoyed snoozing in the front of the t.v..

These two women were amazing examples. Neither of them were perfectionists. But they always got the job done. When they saw a project to be completed and they knew they were able, they claimed ownership and followed it through to completion. They were perfect examples of always focusing on what is important. People. Relationships. Loving others and caring for them. Family. Children. Fun.  I am so thankful for my grandma and for my mom. They were inspiring and funny. They were generous with their time and loved others as if it was always the most important task at hand. They served others well without being asked and never asked for anything in return.

On days when I seem to be failing and a million projects have gone untouched, I fondly reflect back on my mom and grandma. When I think I have failed, it is usually because of some unobtainable goal that I myself have created.  I am my own worst judge. I am my own worst critic. Not once did anyone ever say to me, you are an amazing housekeeper! Your house is so clean! And I am pretty sure that no one ever said that to my mom or grandma either.  But they have said thank you for helping me. Thank you for seeing my need and taking care of it for me.  My children smile at me when I pause and play games with them and read with them. I am missing smiles when I feel the need to focus on the housework and and packing backpacks for the next day. I miss out of the stories my kids are ready to share when I think laundry has to be completed at that very moment. I miss out on time spent with friends when I focus more on work and what I think needs to be accomplished at that very second.

I don't want to miss out anymore. I don't want to have a perfect house and life that looks like I have my act together, when I am not able to enjoy life as it passes me by. I want to play Scrabble at the dining room table with my husband when he asks. I want to read with Zach four more books before bed. I want to discover new arts and craft projects that Lily is now interested in. And I can do all of this, when I focus on what is important. My family and experiencing each new day with them.

So please excuse the dust bunnies and the carpet that needs a good once over. Please excuse the dishes that need to be put away and clothing baskets of clean clothes that need to be folded and put away.  Please ignore the pile of paper on the corner of the kitchen counter. I may or may not go through it tonight when I sit to watch a movie with my husband.  My kids are 12 and 15. We are still in the process of memory creation.  And I want my kids to remember that I was there. That I was available. That I was present and not racing off to do something that I felt was more important. I want to take a breath and enjoy each new experience with my kids as if it is also new to me.  I want to live each day to fullest and if it was my last.

And those dishes. Those dishes can wait.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Capernaum- Special Needs Youth Group

I just did something I have never done before. I dropped Zach off at the Grace Church Eden Prairie Campus for Capernaum. It is the equivalent of youth group for special needs kids in high school. It has taken me a month of talking to him about it and raving about how much fun he would have for him to finally agree to go.  So tonight from 7 to 8:30 pm, Zach gets to be with other kids who are just like him. Some with Autism, some with Down Syndrome, some with physical issues, all with special needs.  Zach will be surrounded by young adults and adults that are there to serve the special needs community.

A call to serve is an amazing thing.  Not everyone has the skill set or the patience to work with kids who have extra needs.  It requires extra effort, lots of energy and the ability to navigate several needs at once. I as a special needs parent still struggle daily!  I am always so very thankful when I walk into church like tonight and see 10 smiling people, ready to help, ready to answer questions, give direction and to enable my child to have an amazing time. It made me so happy to know that I was leaving Zach in extremely capable, well equipped hands.  This is a new activity and I have chosen to stay in the building tonight so that if it doesn't work out or if Zach panics, I am close by and can intercede.

To those teachers and paras at school, to those door greeters on Sunday mornings, to the man that greets my son with a hand shake, a hug, a warm smile and sermon notes.  To the woman that touches Zach's shoulder each Sunday during greeting time and tells him she has missed him and is so happy to see him.  To the teenagers who give up their Friday nights and so faithfully assist as one on one helpers at Barnabas Respite Nights. To the 10 people waiting to receive us this evening. Thank you. Thank you for caring about Zach. Thank you for serving him and and for serving our entire family. Thank you for being responsive to the call to help.  Thank you for caring for special needs students.  You make my son's days joy filled and something to look forward to. And for that, I am eternally thankful.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Therapy Dogs and Saturday Smiles

One Saturday a month, the therapy dogs are at the local library.  These dogs are a part of the program called Tails for Reading. They encourage children to come and read and visit with the dogs. Encouraging literacy and enabling nervous readers to get comfortable, all of the dog's owners are wonderful as they gently correct, and build each child's confidence. 

Lily and Zach have always participated in the reading program since they were tiny. They love spending time with the dogs.  Lily started volunteering with the Dog Certification Program about a year ago.  She loves it. She and another child participate by being the child interaction and testing the dogs reaction to unexpected  situations. A child running or shouting, a child who is afraid, a child that may be a bit too rough or wild next to the dog.  She loves volunteering and adores all the extra snuggles that she gets with each of the dogs. 

Today Lily got to participate in a whole new way.  While at the library, she was asked to take care of child sign in's and to facilitate to make sure that each child got to spend time with the three different dogs. Not only was Lily up to the task, she excelled. She took her clip board duties seriously and made an extra effort to visit with each of the little kids, especially if they were struggling with patience while waiting for their name to be called.

I just beamed watching Lily have fun in a whole new way. She caught me watching her and I caught this beautiful picture. My amazing daughter with a heart to serve others. Yes, today it involved dogs, but I love that she helped the kids, helped the dog owners, and made sure she had time with each of the dogs herself.

Check with your local library for days and times that this activity may be scheduled. If your library doesn't have this activity, consider making a suggestion.  You will not be sorry. Nothing better than seeing 25+ small children get the chance to love on a few amazing dogs at the library and enjoy reading a book at the same time.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Fall Conferences At My Daughter's School-She Must Be Mine

Let me share with you a true story that will probably make you giggle, and for some will affirm that you are not alone. Just returned from conferences for my 12 year old 6th grade daughter. She is a spirited doll, makes friends with everyone and has a giving and sharing heart. I admire the young woman that she is becoming and try to encourage her every day and point her to Jesus. I brought Lily with me today because she had a Geography test that needed to be retaken. Both of the main teachers I met with today said the following things:
1) Your daughter is a delight and she makes me smile every day.
2) I believe Lily has made it her personal mission to be friends with every single person in every single class in this entire school. While I love her outgoing nature and desire to be friends with everyone, she needs to remember that making friends by striking up conversations with other students while I am teaching isn't probably the best idea.
3) If Lily ever runs for President she would win. Because she will share with the American public all of the reasons why she would and could make a difference. And people would vote for her either out of confusion or to hopefully make her stop talking.
4)Math is not her strong suit. She will probably never actively work in a field where math is necessary. However, I know she will excel in anything that involves talking and possibly public speaking or motivational speaking.
5)Lily needs to concentrate on completing and handing in her homework on time. I understand that she is probably overwhelmed with the demands of her self created 12 year old social calendar, but she needs to get the work done before she plays.
6) Do you think that Lily could possibly compete in the Olympics some day? (Blank blinky stare from me.) Because if Speed Talking and Conversation Changing were considered Olympics sports, she would will win the gold, silver and bronze repeatedly.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Decor Galore- I Love This Time of Year!

I see it every fall and every Christmas. These beautifully decorated homes on t.v., the internet, in magazines and for sure all over social media.  Some people are so creative and even very talented. They have an eye for what will look good together. Leaves and birch branches, willows and tea lanterns.  Mantles filled with glass pumpkins and Gather or Blessings banners.  Then as fall turns way to snow and all things Christmas, boughs of green and red berries.  Lights and red bows. Wine glasses and ornaments and sparkle and snowmen galore.  I love it all.

Here is my honest moment. I have a ton of amazing decorations, but I also have a ton of opinions of how I like to decorate.  I had a friend make a suggestion about 6 years ago of how I could decorate a portion of home differently for Christmas. I thought bless her heart. Sure it was probably a good idea, but I didn't want to change the way I was decorating anything and I didn't ask for ideas. I immediately internalized the suggestion and thought she didn't like what my home looked like when it was decorated for Christmas. That wasn't her intention. I figured out the reason I took it that way was because her house always looked like Pottery Barn on crack.  Excuse me. It was beautifully decorated and looked as if no one lived in it. Ever.

I began to realize that wasn't me. My family, we are messy and live in our home, we spend more time here than anywhere else. We enjoy having people over and playing games and sharing meals together. We love spending time with extended family and friends and are okay with dishes sometimes being saved until the next morning. I smile at 22 pairs of shoes left in a shambles by my front door rather than fret about what a mess those kids are making in the basement. I want my house to be picked up and clean enough to function, but I also want to have fun and enjoy each new day by enabling adventure to come my way.

Today, on my way home from a challenging doctors appointment, I needed some cheering up.  I stopped at 501 & Company in Chaska. And as usual during this time of year, it didn't disappoint. A perfect blend of all things fall and Thanksgiving and a treasure trove of the glories of Christmas. A feast for the eyes, I think I spent a half hour meandering in and out of the narrow walkways. Discovering alcoves I had yet to venture into, I left no corner unexplored.  I loved what I saw today. Some, clever new creations, some amazing vintage finds and delectable antiques that were absolutely fantastic and eclectic.

I left without buying a thing, but I left with a smile on face and inspired to go home and decorate my home the way I enjoy. Plenty of white lights and angels. Snowmen in the window sill. Antique trees and candle sticks on the hutch in the front entryway.  The big tree on the main floor, and tree in each of the kids' rooms.  Berries and Christmas tie backs for the curtains and Christmas books that have been handed down for generations on the sideboard.  The mantle will display the beautiful Nativity and angels that were hand made and bestowed upon us as a wedding gift. Absolute treasures that I will gift to Lily when she is grown.

I took pictures of the few beauties I saw today. Some because they warmed my heart, some because I hope the replicate them in my home this Christmas Season.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Walk Away-Coffee Shop Blues

Words hurt. Sometimes deeply. Actions matter. Sometimes too much.  While we want to pretend we are all okay, sometimes we are crumbling inside because of how someone else has chosen to treat us.

When my daughter was 5 years old, we were enjoying a morning out on the town. We were taking our time going into new storefronts and exploring places we have never been.  We went to get a beverage at the local coffee shop.  The owner and I had been acquainted for a few years and he always greeted me kindly and made a big deal out of my children.  I ordered a coffee and got a lemonade for Lily. When we sat, the shop owner approached and he proceeded to visit and catch up a bit.

As I was preparing to leave he then came back over to say goodbye.  To this day, I do remember how the conversation started, but he made a comment about people being fools to believe in any type of religion at all.  Remember, my young daughter was present.  I asked him what he meant and he said he was an atheist. I joked when I shouldn't have and said that being an atheist is just a lazy agnostic. I angered him.  I then was subject to the verbal lashing of a lifetime.  I was told that I was a fool, I was stupid,  he thought I was smarter than that, and that I was ridiculous and he hoped I wasn't raising my children to believe in nonsense. I was in absolute shock.  I thought this man was my friend.

I didn't feel the need to justify my beliefs but I did feel the need to let him how inappropriate his verbal attack was. I reminded him Lily was watching. He didn't care. He kept insulting me.  I took her hand and proceeded to the front door. He followed me. Not just to the door, but out onto the sidewalk. He was still talking, more so yelling at me.  I felt the tears poking at the corner of my eyes.  I wasn't going to let him see me cry.  I got to the car, and I kid you not, he continued to fire insults at me the entire time I strapped Lily into her car seat. I closed her door and turned to him.  "I feel sorry for you. Do not ever speak to me again."  I got into my car slammed the door and left.

I didn't just leave, I pulled away as quickly as I possibly could. By the time I rounded the curb, tears were streaming from my face.  I  grew up in a family were my parents rarely yelled at me. My husband surely never spoke to me like that.  How could someone whom was my friend be so angry and scream at me and call me names?  I heart felt wounded. I couldn't catch my breath as I cried.  I tried so keep it under control and I couldn't. I gasped for air as I began to sob even more.  Lily was alarmed at the rate of speed that we had left and she started realizing how upset I was.  "Mom, why was he so mean to you?  Why are you crying? Did he make you sad mom?"

I told her I would be okay.  I didn't know for a fact that I would be, but I told her it would happen.  We got home and I called my husband. I am sure I couldn't put together a coherent sentence for the first five minutes.  My husband kept reminding me to breathe.  He said slow down.  Tell me what happened.  I retold the story to best of my ability.  I even told my husband about the remark that I made that I probably should not have. He was silent for bit and I needed to check to see if he was still there.

"Kelli, never fight back with words.  It sounds like he wanted to engage in a confrontation. As if he was looking for a fight. Never give in. Don't let him win.  I am so sorry this happened. And that he followed you out to the car.  Always remember, to walk away. Just so you know, this isn't how friends talk to each other. He isn't your friend.  Is Lily okay?"

I told him Lily was fine, she was worried about me crying, but that I don't think she totally understood what happened.  My dear husband. He is always so very wise. He was right. That wasn't how friends should ever talk to each other.  I need to always walk away.  He had treated me so poorly, and I shouldn't waste time trying to reason with him when he wouldn't have been able to hear what needs to be said.

My heart hurt.  I felt depleted.  I cried a few times throughout the next few days. That Saturday, my husband and I went to St. Paul and were enjoying a work party at O'Gara's.  I was facing the large windows on West 7th Street looking out towards the Xcel Center where we would soon be attending a Semi Pro Swarm Lacrosse game. Right in front of me, I see the man who was no longer a friend of mine walking down the sidewalk.  I nudged Josh.  He looked out the window at where I was pointing.  We looked at each other in disbelief. 

When my husband and I entered the Xcel Center and walked towards our box suite seats, we saw him again approaching from the opposite direction. He met my eye and turned white as a sheet.  Josh continued walking straight for him.  I was about 6 feet behind. He smiled at me and then looked straight at my husband.  He extended his hand to Josh and Josh refused to take it. "My wife told me what happened the other day in front of our daughter.  You will never speak to her again."  He nodded at him in understanding, took my hand and lead me away.  Those were the only words exchanged.  I don't think I have ever seen my husband so visibly upset yet so completely in control in our entire lives together.

My hands were shaking as he pulled me into the suite.  He hugged me.  He hugged me until the shaking subsided.  I kissed my husband and let him just hold me.  My husband help mend my hurting heart that evening by standing up for me.  He enabled me to see a protective side of him that had never been necessary before. He loved on me and supported me until I was able to continue on with our evening.

All these years later, I avoid his place of business.  I suggest other coffee shops when setting plans with friends.  I politely decline invitations when that coffee shop is the intended location.  My heart no longer hurts.  However, I learned some very important truths from this experience.  Friends don't treat each other the way this man treated me.  Friends don't ever call each other names. Husband's protect their wives at all times.  And children forget easily.  Once in awhile now, Lily will ask why we do not frequent that shop.  I tell her I like the others better.  And now with Red Bench Bakery so close in Chaska, we don't have a need to go anywhere else.  Someday I will tell Lily what happened.  I will tell her how I was hurt, how her father spoke truth to me, and how he stood his ground and made sure the other man knew how this was going to play out in future. She will see her father as the hero of this story.  And I will always agree.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

When There Is Finally A Text

I have spent a ridiculous amount of my life waiting. Waiting to gradate high school. Waiting to be married. Waiting and praying to have kids. Waiting for the right job. Waiting for relationships to be restored. Waiting for it to stop hurting. Waiting for the joy to return. Always waiting for something. The problem with all this waiting is I have missed out. I missed out on the in between. The moments that were happening each and every day, I missed them. I was so focused on what I wanted to happen next, I missed the chance to experience some pretty amazing things in between. 

I am odd duck when it comes to text messaging.  I often send them it bouts and fits, then silence for an extended period of time.  I hate talking on the phone, (past jobs working in banking, investments and insurance have completely wrecked me) so text messaging is my main form of communication.  I even answer them in my mind and never hit send, so people may think I am ignoring them when that is so far from the truth. I love text messages. Simple sentences, maximum effect when it comes to communicating something quickly. But also, because there are often spelling mistakes and you can't hear someone's tone of voice, there can be misunderstandings.

I have found myself the last few days waiting on a text message. Not a reply, not a continued conversation.  I was waiting for a text message to be sent at random.  A Hello, an I miss you, a How are you. I was feeling a bit flustered by the busyness of life and I think I put more weight into receiving the text message than I desired. I found that I was looking for a touch point.  Affirmation that I wasn't the only one struggling. 

The text message did come today and lead to a great conversation. One that I wish would happen more often.  But in receiving the coveted text, I also realized that I have placed far too much of my happiness in communication with others. I am an extrovert with introverted tendencies. (Meaning I love people, I love outings and large groups, but recharge on solitude adventures.) But relationships and communication are something that enable me to thrive.  I know this to be true, but caught myself today.  I can't force someone to want what I want. I can't force someone to take the initiative and always be the one to contact me first. I am stubborn. Plain and simple.  A mutually gratifying text exchange could have occurred if I would have gotten over my need to not be the first one that sends a text. That is a thing I do. I wait around and wait some more, because I don't want to be the first one to text.

In all my foolishness, I have decided today that I won't wait anymore. If I want to talk to someone, I will be get over myself and be the one to send the text. I might even be the first person to make a phone call. I am not kidding. This is serious. A phone call?! I am missing out on touch points because I don't want to be the one initiating contact. I don't want to miss out anymore on conversations with amazing people, or text messages that warm my heart. I don't want to miss out on the in between. No more waiting.

Cocaine In The Soda

My mother wasn't very good at keeping house. She didn't enjoy cleaning and never really made an effort at it. Dishes and laundry....