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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shoes Off or Shoes On?

We generally take our shoes off in our house. I like the idea of keeping the stuff from the outside ground from coming into our inside world. There are numerous things that may have attached themselves to anyone's shoes, such as: manure, spit, pesticides, gum, bug guts, seeds, chemicals, etc.

We allow guests to leave their shoes on if they are more comfortable that way. I also make available socks or slippers for guests. We don't have new carpet but we do sit and play on the carpet quite frequently. I hope to keep it fairly clean and non-toxic. I'm not an obsessive neat freak but I will do what I can to prevent uncleanliness.

I like the Japanese tradition (other countries do it too) of not wearing shoes in the house. We haven't always practiced this and sometimes it's just unpractical to be taking shoes on and off when working on projects or bringing in several bags of groceries.

I like to take my shoes off but not everybody does. On this one I choose to conform. I will take my shoes off at your house if you prefer it that way. Sometimes I even plan ahead and pack thick socks or slippers for visiting where I know I will be shoeless.

I'm thinking of posting a sign that says, "Care to bare your 'souls'?" I think it is a kind way to let visitors be informed of our general policy without demanding it.

Do you have any other kind way to request "No shoes"?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Emergency Disaster Check-up Time

Time to set your clocks back on November 7th, 2010. The fire department encourgages everyone to check your smoke/carbon monoxide detector batteries. You should have one near the bedrooms and at least one on every floor of your home. This is also a very good time to go through your emergency disaster stash. Here in the Northwest US we are suppose to be in for a more extreme winter than we are accustomed.

I recently graduated from the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program in our area. It is a nation wide program to help prepare citizens to help their communities in case of a man-made or natural disaster where the police and/or fire departments are overwhelmed with the vastness of the disaster and cannot help the masses.

During my CERT class we were told it is better to have an out of state family contact east to west rather than north to south. If cell phone circuits are locally overwhelmed during a disaster for whatever reason it is more difficult to contact others locally than long-distance, and more easy to contact east-west. If everyone in your family contacts the same person out-of-state you may be able to check everyone's status better through your contact than to call them direct locally.

Here is a list of essentials to have in your personal/family disaster emergency kit from

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer.

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

Flashlight and extra batteries

First aid kit

Whistle to signal for help

Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

Local maps

Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:

Prescription medications and glasses

Infant formula and diapers

Pet food and extra water for your pet

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container

Cash or traveler's checks and change

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) - PDF, 277Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.

Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from

Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.

Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.

Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

Fire Extinguisher

Matches in a waterproof container

Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels

Paper and pencil

Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Duck Tape became Duct Tape

In 2002 doctors at an army medical center in Washington State conduct a study using duct tape to treat warts: 85% of patients' warts vanished completely.

End the Homework Battle

End the Homework Battle

by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias

"Do you have any homework tonight?"

A simple question, yet it can spark what becomes a familiar argument throughout a child's school years.

Haggling over homework is nothing new (most parents can remember protesting their own responsibilities on school nights), but homework battles in the 21st century are aggravated by a culture flooded with technical distractions.

According to recent research, 97 percent of youth play video games; nearly three quarters of them have an online social networking profile (Facebook, MySpace, etc.); 91 percent have a cell phone; and the typical teen sends an average of 10 text messages an hour. Is it any wonder parents will repeatedly hear their children complain that homework is boring and pointless?

Even with the advent of computers in the classroom, formal education doesn't even come close to holding a student's attention like the competition. Fortunately, you don't have to be as tech-savvy as your kids to keep them engaged in their schoolwork. Even if the assignments are boring and pointless, you can use these opportunities to help your children develop the skills and attitudes they'll need to be successful. You can get them thinking about the way they learn best, how they can motivate themselves and what it will take to succeed. You can teach them to be confident learners.

When I wrote my first book, The Way They Learn, my twins were toddlers. They are now in their sophomore year in college. During all those years, the learning-styles strategies I first advocated have remained effective. Let's take a quick look at these timeless techniques.

Ask more questions.

Encourage your children to take responsibility for their success. Keep your questions brief and positive — and always assume the best. For example:

•Would you like my help?

•What grade do you want to earn?

•What do you think it would take to accomplish that grade?

•How will I know your homework is being done?

•How do you want to be reminded? Help them design their individual study space.

Don't underestimate the importance of finding the right environment — even if it includes some elements that would make you uncomfortable if you were studying. Every child is going to be different. In our household, my son Mike usually did his homework at his desk in solitude, with no noise and no distractions. His brother, Rob, on the other hand, needed to be listening to music with headphones, lying on the floor with something to eat or drink and taking plenty of short breaks.

The most important question to ask yourself: What's the point? If the point is to get the homework done, let your child propose how he or she wants to do it, and simply require proof that it works.

Help them focus on their strengths.

For auditory learners, sounds are important — and the lack of sound can sometimes be just as critical.

They may say: Could I ask you a question? Could I talk to you? I need to say something! Give them a chance to talk about what they need to do. Ask brief questions, and be patient with long answers. The more they talk it through, the greater the chance they will get their homework done.

Then help them figure out the best environment for doing homework — challenge them to find the least distracting place. When they are working, do your best not to interrupt them, and keep outside noise levels to a minimum.

For visual learners, it's incredibly helpful for them to picture what they're doing or see an example of what's expected.

They may say: Could you show me how to do this? I don't see what you mean! Could you look at this? Help them create pictures in their minds of what their tasks should look like. Ask to see their homework assignment — sometimes just looking through it again will help them remember what they're supposed to do. Offer to provide a visual homework reminder — maybe a calendar, a whiteboard or a pop-up reminder on their computer or cell phone. Remember, just giving them verbal reminders probably won't have much effect.

For kinesthetic learners, the greatest challenge can be sitting still long enough to do their homework.

They may say: What's the point? It's boring! For these active and restless learners, spending any more than five or 10 minutes on something that seems like just another pesky chore can be perceived as torture. Their best chance for achievement often involves taking frequent short breaks and keeping some part of their body moving. Keep in mind that the point is not to have them sitting still to do their homework; the point is to get the homework done.

For learners who are wired to be analytic (step-by-step, detail-oriented, predictable), it's important to find the best place for concentrating. They tend to thrive in a quiet, uncluttered space where they can be alone and uninterrupted. They often like to do their homework on a predictable schedule and rarely request help. Make sure they are clear about the assignment deadline. Don't hover or nag — but get their cooperation in coming up with a method of accountability.

For learners who are wired to be global (big picture, intuitive, contextual), it may be easier to study when they're not alone. Globals are naturally drawn to working cooperatively with others, and if they sit alone, they may struggle to concentrate on the task. One tried-and-true solution is to make sure everyone works while the global works. If your whole family can do something quiet and productive (reading, working on the computer, etc.) while your global child is studying, it's easier for him or her to stay focused.

Homework will continue to be a challenge for parents and kids. But developing and nurturing a relationship with each of our children can build a solid foundation for educational success. The first step in this journey comes from understanding our children's design and strengths and appreciating the unique way they learn.

Cynthia Ulrich Tobias is founder, manager and CEO of AppLe St. (Applied Learning Styles). She is the best-selling author of The Way They Learn.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

FREE BREAD....and more!

Free bread and more is what this ministry is all about. The church volunteeers pick up day old bread from local bakeries and distribute it to the low-income neighborhood all year round. With much prayer and the grace of God the neighborhood has been transformed by the love of Jesus expressed through the people here one to another. The neighbors and the police say how much better the area is since this ministry has been a present. It is just over a year old and amazing stories of friendship and heart changed are the results. Practical and effective, this ministry is serving hearts with love.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Healthy Choices with Pure Botanical Hair Color

My gray hair had been peeking out for several weeks now. Three weeks ago I miscarried and went searching for answers to why this might have happened. One of the things I discovered was that the habit of coloring our hair every 4-6 weeks can be extremely damaging to our reproductive systems and causing cancer. Three women in my immediate circle who regularly color their hair and work with hair dyes had breast cancer or a genetic birth defect baby. I had switched from a permanent hair color (Revlon ColorSilk Medium Golden Brown to the non-permanent color Clairol , Natural Instincts, Navajo Bronze because it says right on the box "healthier way to color" (versus the leading level 3). Both of which have a rating of 9 and 10 respectively by for toxicity for cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies/immune toxicity, and more.

I have bought botanical (plant based) hair color before thinking I was going to use it. I read the instructions and was discouraged at the laborious process. I gave the box away to a friend who was going to use it for a craft project. This time I was determined to give it a try. I bought Light Mountain Natural, Color the Gray, Light Brown. This has a EWG (Environmental Working Group rating of 1 for toxicity. Yay!

I read the instructions and watched several YouTube videos on how to do it. Next I needed a block of time to 'getter done'. We had been swamped with baseball practice and tournaments. I was determined to make Monday 'the day'.

The first step seems to me to be a primer step for coloring the gray hair. Then you put on the real color. After the first step I didn't think I was going to have enough color for step 2. I went to the small  local health food store and they didn't have what I needed. I had to run to the larger farther away health store to get another box of color, Light Mountain Natural, Light Brown. I mixed both batches and let that cure for 3 hours. In the past my hair has been stubborn taking chemical color so I knew it could take longer than usual. I tried the best I could for quite some time getting the mixture on my hair in a systematic way. I felt like I was dealing with dreadlocks. It was heavy and smelly. I called my oldest son into the bathroom to take some pictures, thinking I want this documented. I may never do this again. He was also helpful in pointing out some missed spots.

Once I got all the color on from two packages I wrapped plastic wrap over it, then a Turbie Twist. I went to my room to hide out for three hours. By the time the three hours were up it was 9:40pm. I took a very long shower rinsing out all that product. It was gritty near the end. The water was nearly clear but there was gritty pieces left. I ended my shower thinking that was good enough. As I towel dried my hair the grit kept falling out. I don't consistently blow dry my hair, I mostly let it air dry.

After combing my hair out with a wide toothed pick I went to bed. The smell was overwhelming, something like a campfire when someone puts green leaves in the fire. When I gave my son a hug good-night he commented on the powerful smell. I thought it would dissipate. I tried to sleep with it anyway. It was too much. I had to get up and blow it dry. It also helped get rid of more of the left over grits, instead of leaving them on my pillow.

The smell isn't too bad now, much more subtle. It hasn't been 24 hours yet. That's when I can wash it using shampoo and conditioner. After a few days, the oxidizing of the color should be done. I will update this post with pictures then.

Have you tried botanical hair color? What was your result? Would you do it again?

UPDATE: This is a picture outside after 3 days. (July 2, 2010) The color is a little lighter where I had previously had bleached highlights. The gray is lighter and redder than the overall color. I don't mind this effect as it blends in well. I'm writing this a week after coloring and the color has gotten even better. My hair feels healthier and I will do it again regardless of the laborious process.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

San Mateo Mate

Mate Latte Recipes

Mate Latte Recipes: "Mate Latte Recipes
Mate Latté from Loose Leaf Mate

Makes a 12 oz. latté.

8 oz. Guayakí Yerba Mate or Java Mate
4oz. of steamed milk of choice
sweetener (sugar, honey, or maple syrup)
Brew 8 oz. cup of Guayakí Yerba Mate or Java Mate.
Add sweetener (sugar, honey, or maple syrup) to taste and 4 oz. of steamed milk of choice.
Top off with milk foam.

Mate Latté from Mate Concentrate
Make the perfect mate latté everytime from our premade mate concentrate.

Makes a 12 oz. latté.
4 oz. Mate Latté Concentrate
4 oz. milk or soy milk
Optional Syrups: chocolate, vanilla bean, hazelnut, caramel, almond, peppermint, and more...
Variations: Flavored mate lattés You can add any flavored syrups to a mate latté to create mate specialty drinks. Try hazelnut, caramel, almond, peppermint, and more...

Mate Latté

1. Mix 1:1 with milk or soy milk. Heat or pour over ice.
Mate Mocha Latté

1. Mix 1:1 with milk, then add chocolate syrup.
Mate Vanilla Latté

1. Mix 1:1 with milk, then add vanilla bean syrup."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tambira Jehovah - Celebration Choir Zimbabwe

This is a video of some of my Zimbabwe friends. At the 3:35 mark is a tall blond on the left, Kerryn Demblon. I have had the privilege to host many of the people in this video in my home for a few minutes or for a few weeks. The Demblon family stayed with us for two weeks February 2009, along with Elle and Pastor Gao. May 8th through May 13th, 2010 we were able to host Elaine and Christine Demblon along with Elaine's parents, Jack and Heather Redmile. I just fell in love with them all, all over again. It stirred in me the desire to see them all in Zimbabwe soon.

The video is a bit out of focus but I believe that is Inesu as the main singer with Pastor Bonnie Deuschel.

Celebration Choir Zimbabwe, Celebration Ministries International

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ha Ha, Hee Hee, I laughed so hard it made me...

The average adult only laughs 14 times a day, where as children laugh on average 200 times a day. I definitely need to laugh more. It is so very good for your spirit, soul and body. When is the last time you laughed so hard you thought you were going to wet your pants? I currently have a homestay guest who is a 57 year old Japanese man, Eiki. He is laughing all the time. It is such a delight to hear his laughter along with my children. I realized I don't laugh very much. It feels good to laugh. So I'm trying to just let loose and laugh at myself and be more light hearted. Ha ha, hee hee, huh huh huh!

Here are two funny little "lost in translation" episodes:

I asked Eiki what a word meant in Japanese. He responded in English, "you know." I shrugged my shoulders and tried to think if I knew the word and then said, "I don't know. What does ___ mean?" He responded again, "you know". I was starting to get frustrated. He obviously thought I knew the word. Then he showed me on the Japanese/English dictionary that the Japanese word I was trying to get the meaning for meant "YOU KNOW", like you have knowledge of something. Oh we had a good laugh when we both realized what had happened.

This same kind of thing happened to me in 2002 when I was in Russia. I knew a phrase that was fun to say but I couldn't remember what it meant. The phrase in transliterated English goes like this....Ya nee pah nee my you. So I asked our translator friend what does "ya nee paw nee my you" mean? She answered, "I don't understand." I thought maybe I didn't say it correctly. So I told her maybe I'm not pronouncing something correctly. But I thought is sounded something like "ya nee paw nee my you". She giggled and said again, "I don't understand." Ha ha ha The joke is on me. You probably guessed it. Ya nee paw nee my you means in Russian "I don't understand!"

Please share you miscommunication story that made you laugh?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The most beautiful seatbelt advocacy commercial ever.wmv

When I took driver's education classes at 15 yrs. old I was adamant about my family wearing their seatbelts, even before it was a law.
Thirteen years ago my husband and I were in a T-bone car accident. The driver ran a stop sign. We had our seatbelts on. We came out of the situation with only whiplash. We had just left our 3 yr. old son and 6 week old son with the grandparents so we could have date night. Please wear your seatbelt anytime you are in a moving vehicle, even when you are about to stop. Keep it on until the vehicle is parked! You are precious.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stuck in ONE of the DC Storms

February 9th, 2010, three days after my original plans to fly out I flew out of DC on one of two flights before the next storm came through. The man sitting in the window seat in my aisle told me he could see the snow clouds coming in as we were taking off. I missed my husband's 45th birthday party and the hometown Superbowl party.

It wasn't too bad being stuck for three extra days. The storm didn't hit before I was able to take in a few sights. I was able to go up into the Washington Monument, which I had not done on any of my previous five or so trips to Washington DC. My first trip was a senior high school trip with some of my classmates and the best history teacher, Dave Wackerbarth.

It irritates me that it is common on the west coast not to differentiate between Washington State or Washington DC. I have had to adapt and when asked reply that I am from Washington STATE. That was capitalized just for emphasis. I don't yell it at anyone when asked.

Snowstorms can be fun. I wished my kids could have been there with me to take advantage of the White House hill being opened and kids being invited to sled down it. We don't get snow very often in the lowlands of Washington STATE. The weather forecaster predicts snow on Friday. That's tomorrow and right now there are blue skies and lots of wind so who knows just maybe the wind will blow in some snow!

A Cold and Blustery Day at Snoqualmie Falls

Masako, my ESL homestay student, and I made a quick trip out to Snoqualmie Falls, April Fools Day, 2010. I haven't been out to the falls in several years. We browsed through the Snoqualmie Falls gift shop and then headed over to The Salish Lodge and Spa gift store.

The Salish Lodge and Spa gift store had some interesting items. There was a mat that had small flat stones attached to it. I don't know how effective that would be for a walk-off mat to catch the dirt, mud or water off your shoes but it was a neat idea. They also sold bags of Salish Lodge farm pancake mix. I didn't buy any at the time but I considered it again when I saw it at Albertson's grocery store the other day. I may need to find a special occasion to go have breakfast at the Lodge restaurant. They use to put on a feast for breakfast and then pour the maple syrup onto your pancakes from over your head. The last time I ate at the Lodge restaurant was for my 18th birthday dinner with my mom, dad and my future husband. That was a wee bit ago. We've been married now for 20 years.

The Snoqualmie Falls gift shop had a sign in it for purchase that read "A Grumpy Old Bear lives here with his Honey". I took a picture of it on my cell phone and sent it to my husband. He isn't usually a grumpy old bear but I thought he'd enjoy the play on words. I usually bring home honey sticks from the Pike Place Market when I take my ESL homestay students there.

Masako was with us during her spring break, so we only had her a week. She did a simple Japanese Tea Ceremony for us. She is in a Japanese Tea Ceremony Club at school in Japan.

Have you ever been to Snoqualmie Falls?
When was the last time you were there?
Did you see it when it was frozen in March, 2010?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What do you get when you mix Winnie Cooper and Leanne Tuohy? Me!

Last night Grant and I went to see The Blind Side. If Winnie Cooper is my look alike then Leanne Tuohy is my (near) personality match.

  • I have an Interior Design degree from the Art Institute of Seattle and worked as a commercial designer for a few years before becoming a Stay-At-Home-Homeschooling-Mom.
  • I married an entrepreneur/football player.
  • I am a foster/adopt parent.
  • I have told the football coach how to do things better.
  • I was on the high school dance drill team but NEVER a cheerleader.
  • My youngest son is somewhat like SJ and my daughter is a sweetheart like Collins.
  • I don't know yet which son will go on to play football for the Huskies and then the Seahawks.
  • Anyone threatening my kid will definately see the mother bear in me come out to defend them.
Some differences are that my couch didn't cost $10K but we have a designated guest room for anyone coming to stay. Cheerleading has to be specifically defined before I will even consider it a real sport! I'm rarely seen dressed in a style other than sporty-causual. I live in the casual northwest not the south.

I told Grant on Thursday that given a few hours I could get the YMCA front desk and staff better organized for effieciency. Monday, I'm heading to Washington DC to see what I can do there.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Do you have any change to spare?

My two college kids were waiting for me in the parking lot at the grocery store. Our paths had crossed and I was trying to swap cars with them. As I was walking over to get into the van a woman came up and asked for any spare change I might have for milk. Short on time, I handed a 5 dollar bill to my oldest son and asked him to go buy her some milk in the store. Without a question, he went and did what I asked. We have done such things many times so this wasn't unfamiliar territory for him.
Twenty minutes later, I am parked downtown under the viaduct. I get out of the van to pay for parking and a man walks up and asks for a dollar. I told him "No, I have already given today." How lame was that? He kept looking at me as he walked away. I thought, "What is he going to do to my car as retaliation for saying "no"? I watch him, I assume, ask another person in the parking area for change as we crossed the street. Our paths crossed again on the busy sidewalk on downtown Seattle's waterfront. Our eyes met and I thought again, "How much can I give? I have responsibilities to take care of my family, my kids, etc. But the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that I have been memorizing says 'Give to the one who asks and do not turn from the one who wants to borrow from you."
I had four boys with me. We were taking my ESL homestay student from Korea sightseeing in Seattle. I only had a little cash on me and didn't want to be left empty handed when the boys got hungry or we saw something at Pike Place Market we might want to buy. I had just given $5 for milk for someone. I don't want to say "no". How do I reconcile this in my heart?
I don't like to give cash on the street. I am very much against being an enabler of destructive behavior, alcoholism and drugs. I should have counter-offered and asked him what I might do to help him other than cash. My friend, William, is a retired director from the Union Gospel Mission. He told me that the homeless sometimes work in groups. They panhandle and then pool their money to buy drugs, alcohol or whatever. I want to be ready with a loving answer when asked for "spare change". It seems to be more prevalent in the current economic situation. So my answer will be "How can I help other than to give you cash?"

Crocheting on the Side of the Road

What has got me crocheting on the side of the road, you ask?                                             A flat tire is the answer.
Yesterday, Grant came home to get his briefcase for an estimate appointment. A few minutes after leaving the house I received a call that he had a flat tire down the hill. Interrupting their school lessons, I loaded up the four boys I had at home, the spare tire and headed to the rescue location.
After a few attempts to raise the van with a borrowed jack that was too small for the work van, I called AAA. The boys were sent to the park across the street to play. Grant took the Suburban to his appointment and made it on time. Yea!
AAA was going to be there within an hour. The work van only has one passenger seat and I had four boys so I sent them walking. We weren't too far from home. I had brought my crocheting along, thinking I might have to wait for AAA. You might think I've done this before.
I am working on a blanket for one of my honorary sons, Steve. His birthday was in late December, so I'm a little behind on the gift. Steve thinks I've always been an adult, just like my kids. I say that I am just a mom-to-many, pretty much to anyone who will call me "Mom".
Shortly after I took this picture using the timer with the camera sitting on the van's bumper AAA showed up. The AAA service guy asked, "Besides this, how is your day going?" I responded, "This is nothing. The sun is out. It's not raining. I don't have anywhere to be." This causes me to reflect on the situation in Haiti. All I am dealing with is a flat tire. Haitians are trying to survive. Many have lost what little they had. If given the chance I think I will go see if I can help them in Haiti. I just can't relate from afar. I just can't get understanding of living in poverty and to have lost loved-ones and all my possessions. If I'm roughing it sitting on the side of the road crocheting while waiting for help to arrive within the hour what do you call what many in the world are living in every day. What can I do to help alleviate their situation? Why was I given the great priveledge to have been born in the USA, with all of it's economic opportunities? I have got to share what I've been given. I've been given much, to share much. I'm not just talking about money. I have an amazing family, great health, most of the time a positive attitude and a positive outlook on life. Hope! I need to share the hope I have that we can work together to make it through the struggles of life. The big struggles and the little struggles, earthquakes and flat tires; we can help eachother through these struggles. I can help.
Later that night, Grant again thanked me for helping him. I was just returning one of the many rescues he has done for me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Who is Uncle Derek?

Yesterday, I gathered up my family to attend a memorial service for a friend from the baseball fields of PacWest Little League. Mike had umpired all of my five children at one time or another. I wanted to honor his life and the hours of volunteer umpiring that he had done over the 12 years we had been around the league. I didn't have the memorial service information as the information had come through my husband, Grant's email. We showed up with our kids and my ESL Homestay student from Korea, Rupert. We didn't see anyone that we recognized. I signed the guest book at Grant's insistence that I sign it for all of us. As I was signing, I scanned the names thinking I might recognize some of them. Not a one was recognized. Oh well, I only knew him from the baseball seasons. He could have known several people I do not know.

We all followed Grant into the community hall where the memorial service was going to be held. I looked around and asked Grant if he was sure that this was it. We didn't know anyone! And the people seemed to be mostly great-grandparent-aged people, clearly not what we were used to seeing at the baseball fields. Grant has coached for years. We should surely have known someone here. I looked around and there were pictures of old people on the walls. I wondered if they were there from some other occassion held at the cove, some kind of History of the Cove theme. I turned around and there behind me was one of Grant's former assistant coaches, Matt. I told him it was good to see him and that we were wondering if we were in the right place. He thought that was an odd question. I could see it in his quizzical look. Why wouldn't the memorial service be here. There is only one cove.

I saw a table with cards and what looked like a gift bag with yardwork gloves in it. I moved over closer to investigate what was written on the envelopes. "Uncle Derek! Who is Uncle Derek? We are here for Mike's memorial service!" Quickly striding over to Grant I whispered, "I don't think we're in the right place. The cards are addressed to "Uncle Derek". I bolted for the door. Grant disappeared deeper into the room. I wanted out of there. I signed the guestbook for someone I didn't know. If anyone ever reads the guest book they are going to wonder who is this strange family who signed Uncle Derek's book. Meeting back in the foyer, Grant told me he had gone over to the food table and saw a cake that read "Happy 90th Birthday Derek". "What? Who is Uncle Derek?"

We are party crashers!!!

Grant sends out a text message and learns that the memorial service is the following week at the cove. Grant mused that he thought Mike would have a good laugh at us. I hope Mike's looking down from Heaven laughing with us because on the way home we surely had a good long laugh at our mishap.

As we headed for the car and my embarassment subsided, I started to ponder that if I didn't think it was rude I would like to go back in and meet "Uncle Derek". Anyone who has lived 90 years surely has some good Victorious Adventurous Life stories to tell. Does he still garden? Does he have any good organic gardening tips for me? I saw there was something that said organic in with the yardwork gloves I had seen in the gift bag. Did he attribute organic gardening to his longevity? Uncle Derek has lived a long time. Mike had lived less than half of Derek's years. I think I want to live a long life, but I also want that long life to be a life well spent.

The part of Mike's life that I saw he spent it giving. He gave numerous hours to volunteer umpiring, a mostly thankless job. Rarely is the "rules enforcer" appreciated. I do appreciate him and that he gave his life to others. He gave in the way he served the kids, and the parents who support them. He will be misssed. And I hope, like Mike, that someday I may be remembered as a Giver.

In Memory of Mike Spridgeon, Umpire Mike.