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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.