Friday, August 31, 2012

Momma Friends

The past few days, my girlfriend has been going through the joys of "early labor"...but when you're bringing a baby into this world, labor is labor, and it doesn't matter at what stage of it you're in.  It's the craziest, worst, and most anxious feeling all wrapped into one anticipated moment - that moment when you introduce your child to the rest of the world.

The past few days, my girlfriend (not the same one) has been packing up her son's bedroom in preparation of his leave for college.  Her "little boy" was born just 6 months before Mr. D. and I were married, so I've seen this boy as a newborn, and all the way through including his graduation party last summer.  I can't believe he's grown up enough to be living on his own.  And didn't he learn that he's breaking his momma's heart by leaving home?

Both of my momma friends are having life-changing weekends.

My momma friends keep me humble.  It doesn't matter how I may try to swing it, the "stress" I thought I was feeling with planning a soon-to-be 8 year old American Girl birthday is NOTHING compared to what these two beautiful women are feeling this weekend.

I love my momma friends.

I'm praying for my momma friends.

C.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blue Like Jazz

I'm a thinker.

I think about ...everything.

Okay...maybe once in awhile, I over-think things too.

But really, for the most part, I just like to think.

If I'm meeting with someone, I'll think prior to the get-together about how it may go.  I'll rethink the entire get-together on my way home. I'll think of what I did say...and usually also, what I should have said instead.  (Told you I sometimes over-think!)

Last night I watched a movie that kicked my thinker into high gear.

Blue Like Jazz began as a book, that I was highly encouraged to read almost 8 or 9 years ago.  At that time, unfortunately, I couldn't possibly have began reading a new book, so it was quickly set aside in my brain.  The title, however, stuck with me.

Last night, Mr. D. mentioned that he had heard of a new movie that was out on DVD that "sounded good."  The title?

Yep.  Blue Like Jazz.

I'm not even sure how to explain this movie.  A Christian movie?  eh...sure?  But those who believe this is a Christian film in the standard feel-good-God-is-good format, will be surely disappointed.  More than likely, those same people will be offended by the homosexuality, the language used, the blatant "poking fun" of various religious aspects. It's my guess those people probably attend churches much like those shown in the movie.

They're going to need to lighten up if they want to catch what this movie is really about.

It's a comedy.  It's over the top.  It's extreme.  It shows The Church in an extreme conservative setting.  It shows The World in an extreme liberal setting.  The two contrast each other perfectly.

Let's say instead that this is NOT a Christian movie, but rather, a movie that happens to be made by Christians.  Oh yes, and be sure...definitely NOT a family movie.  It has a PG-13 rating for a reason.  (However, if you were comfortable taking your toddler to see Batman:Dark Knight Rising, I don't imagine you'll pay attention to this movie rating either.)

In my opinion it gives a fantastically honest view of the church's shortcomings.  If you didn't grow up in a conservative church as "Don" did in this movie (or as I did as a youngster), you may very well miss this point and it will probably just seem over the top.  But spot on, Steve Taylor nailed it in his direction.  Trust me.

Today I'm left thinking about it.  Still.  I've come to the realization that I don't do well with denominations and organized religion.  Relax - I didn't say that I was going to leave my church and renounce my faith.  I just don't do well with it.  The fact is, my Christianity is mine.  All mine.  It was my decision to make, and my choice to believe.  There's a lot to be said for "the fellowship of believers" and all that, but what it comes down to is what am I going to do with what I believe?  Will I sit on it and maintain it within the pews of my mini-megachurch on Sunday morning...or will I live it 7 days a week in a real and tangible way to those around me?

One last tidbit, I found this quote when I was researching the movie and book...

“I always thought the Bible was more of a salad thing, you know, but it isn't. It's a chocolate thing.” 

Think about that for a minute.  :)

C.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What's Up??

Hello old friend.  It's been a few weeks!

I was finishing off my "40 in 40" thing, then actually TURNING 40, and fighting advocating for my children ... all of that was exhausting to say the least.  But now I have a handle on being a 40 year old woman, the school board came through for my children (on this one issue, at least), and I have the itch to start writing again.

Of course, there's the genealogy thing (also known as my obsession)...and I have a number of projects open in that arena right now between finishing up my Daughters of the American Revolution application, my Gallia County ancestor application, Mr. D.'s ancestors, the two Buffalo friends who asked me to look around, maintaining my Paulding County, Ohio website, and of course, writing more on my own ancestors.  I need to micromanage my genealogy time I think.

The monkey children are heading back to school....soon.  But I know this final week of summer vacation is going to drag at a snail's pace.  There is still the need to locate a new backpack for monkey #3, and monkey #1 has to finish reading a book and write about it.  Yes, a book he hasn't even started reading yet.  Which means I get to play the nagging, harping mom role this week.  Super.

This year I took over as executive treasurer for my school district's PTSA (think PTA, but with Student interaction).  I have A LOT of new files, binders, materials sitting in my living room that I really need to find a more suitable place for than just on the sofa.  I also need to start getting organized on how I'm going to stay organized with 6 different school's paperwork coming into me.  I need to do this now, rather than later.

I'm now also working on my new area of advocacy for my children.  If you have children in public school, take a look into the topic of "opting out" and make your own decision.  I began reading about it last spring, about a week prior to my son's state assessments, and knew that this year I would be prepared and we would take that step with him.  Of course, in principle, that means opting my daughter out as well, as she is in 3rd grade this year, and will be participating in her first year of high-stakes testing.  I was excited, geared up, ready...and after speaking ever-so briefly with her elementary principal, I'm disappointed, frustrated, and know that this is not going to be as easy as I had hoped.  I need to stay motivated.   I need to make sure that what I'm doing is best for my kids.  I thought I knew that.   But now I feel like I'm second-guessing myself since yesterday morning.

I don't like that feeling.

So I'll continue reading and learning...and making sure of what I know in my gut is the absolute best choice for my kids.  Mr. D. doesn't really say much when I get super-involved in things like this.  Truth be told, I don't think he likes it.  I don't think he liked that I was involved in fighting for smaller class sizes for monkey #2 and #3.   I don't think he likes that I've become a regular attendee at our district's school board meetings.  Maybe he just prefer I stay "June Cleaver" and bake cookies here at home and keep things neat and tidy here?

(I need this shirt!)
Don't be fooled - I was never June Cleaver.

That's what I've been up to in recent weeks.  And now, I sit here and look around my house that has become....cluttered.  And I really need to clean, but I'm honestly just tired of trying to clean around these three extra people that have invaded my home over the past 9 weeks.  So for now I just make it acceptable.  If you're coming to my house to visit, you've been forewarned.

In only 10 MORE DAYS they will all head back to school, and I can get back to doing things my way.  Whether that involves genealogy, keeping on top of my children's education, or finally finding my inner June Cleaver is anybody's guess.

C.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Children Fighting in the Sandbox

Another school board meeting - another blog post.  I wish that I wouldn't be prompted to write after I attend these things...but it happens.  I'm a woman, I have emotions...and it happened on my birthday and gave me a headache, and that annoyed me.

So I'm going to write about it.  Because I can.  Because it's my blog.  And there's this thing called Free Speech.

I'm not the only one who writes (or vents) under the guise of free speech.  Someone somewhere associated with our school district has chosen to create and write in the blogging world and use it to "inform and comment on educational issues" within the school district.  He or she is an anonymous blogger, so I have no idea as to who it is...and even if I did know their name, what are the odds that I would actually know this person?  Pretty slim I imagine.  I'm not a western New York native, and until recently I've tended to stay inside my little bubble.

When I first stumbled upon said blog, I was...intrigued, shocked, aghast, and infuriated at what I learned about our school district and what was going on that I had no idea of.  I suppose I still am.  But it's not because of this extra reading material any longer.

This particular blog may "inform"...but it's done very deceitfully.  Everyone hides behind an anonymous or created name.  There are so many issues in our school district right now, it could be any number of disgruntled former district employees or community members who write the information there.  I suppose I still read to stay "in the know", but only to a certain point.    I do not engage in the back-biting and name-calling because it's first of all, incredibly immature.  Second, when done anonymously, it kind-of loses all credibility, don't you think?

Our school district is just messed up...many school districts are.  Budget cuts, lay-offs, and add to it rigorous state mandates that are completely insane for teachers and students...it's just messing everything up within the school system.

I understand all this.  You have my sympathies...really!

At this month's school board meeting, a legitimate concern was presented before the board of education regarding our children.  It went unacknowledged.  Another parent presented an equally important and similar concern for her child. That also, for the most part, went unacknowledged, other than a brief referral to an individual who should be contacted for further information.  SIX entire minutes of actual concern of parents over our children's education -  THAT is a problem.  I then had to sit for another hour and a half listening to what was nothing more than mere children fighting in the sandbox about events that happened YEARS ago, lawsuits against this person, resignations demanded of that person, disrespect being shown all over the place, and each side only yelling to be heard over the other one...and THAT is a problem.   When the sand starts flying, emotions begin raging, and adult children add a little water to the mix, it soon turns to mud-slinging...and THAT is a problem.

Oh I'm sure that if any of the faceless anonymous blog commentors at that "other" blog were to get wind of this, I would be on their hit list.  After all, how dare I say what they're fighting for and about is not important!  But why are we at these school board meetings if not for our children?  If you are a pissed-off (oh dear, I used that word again...excuse me)former employee - move on and stop stoking the fire.  If you are a school board member being accused...step up.  You either did, or you didn't.  Be accountable for your actions.  What is important to me is getting my children out of their sardine-packed classrooms.   What is important to me is making sure my kids are not missing out on learning something completely amazing when they've been stuck sitting through HOURS of meaningless state-mandated testing.   What is important to me, is seeing the teachers who make a real difference in the lives of my children having a job to come back to every year.

I get that as a community, we can't let this board and administration walk all over our teachers and make foolish decisions, killing our school district.   I really do understand that there are HORRIBLE decisions being made that are having a negative effect on this school district.  But my children deserve more than 6 minutes of your time once a month.  This community and this school board are so concerned over who is right or who is wrong on matters that things have gotten completely out of control - it's our children, the ones whom you were elected to fight for to begin with...they're the ones getting lost in your sandstorm on the playground.

Grow up.


C.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Celebrating 40 Fantastic Years!

Happy Birthday To Me!
Today is a day when I can totally get away with being a wee bit selfish and not feel a bit guilty about it.  (You know, as opposed to the other 364 days of the year when I'm completely guilt-ridden over my selfishness)  

It's a day that I can get away with doing absolutely anything that I want to do (that doesn't involve anything illegal), and nothing that I don't want to do (Well except for taking a princess to her first soccer practice, and going to another insane school board meeting which will accomplish nothing except for giving me a birthday headache).  I don't have to share chocolate, and I can have as much Mt. Dew as my body can tolerate.  (Not really different from any other day, other than the guilt-free part)

At this point, I'm thinking it's a TacoBell for lunch-genealogy-filled-kind-of day.  

Nope, there are no crazy draped in black celebrations, and there are no "lordy lordy look who's 40" signs on the front yard...at least I don't think so...

{pausing to look out the front window}

But doesn't this milestone of turning 40 deserve something special...something different...attention worthy....ever-so-slightly spectacular?


I'd say the whole hullabaloo started last Tuesday - one full week before my birthday!  (Didn't I tell you I was a firm believer in the birthday week?)  It was a typical day, Mr. D. was still on vacation, and I was looking forward to a day of not running anywhere, and not doing anything except sitting in the chair while a certain hair stylist worked her magic on keeping me looking fabulous for my age.

When I returned home, the house was a bit of a buzz, and D-man let it "slip" that he and his siblings were spending two nights with grandma & grandpa.

Hmmm...very interesting piece of information!

We dropped the kids at the in-laws and Mr. D. began the process of annoying me with questions like "So...whaddya want to do?" (What do you mean what do I want to do?)  "You've got 2 days without the kids, what do you want to do?"  (Ummm...steak dinner would be an awesome start, then mexican food, then Taco Bell, then back to mexican, and another steak dinner - sound good?)

Okay, so that's not really how the conversation went...at least my end of it.  The fact is, for the next 2-3 hours he completely teased, tormented, and tortured me with the idea that he had obviously planned for something and I had no idea what it involved.  

I don't like being out of the loop.

FINALLY, he relented and told me it was a 7 hour trip - well that's easy!  Obviously, we were spending time with friends and family back in Ohio! ... Except that's only a 6 hour trip, but since I had absolutely no idea how his mind was working, I just went with it...and then I guessed somewhere up in the middle of Canada, and then a return trip to Gettysburg.  Finally I just gave up and drew an imaginary 7 hour radius and began naming every place that was within that 7 hour trek.  I was so busy naming places that I completely missed it when he answered "Yes"...

...TO NEW YORK CITY!!!!

Manhattan, The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps....and most importantly....

~~BROADWAY~~
(That's right, go ahead and break into a little song and dance number...I'll wait...)

I was completely in shock and awe and giddy with excitement and the questions started to fly...Where are we staying?  How long will we be there? What were we going to do?  (What do you think we're going to do?) I can think of about 60 things to do...and most of them involving musical theater in some form.  (Narrow it down to one.)  Well that was easy...and just too good to be true. 


No, Idina was no longer on stage in the role of Elphaba, but I am just that big of a fan of the show that I  knew who the leading actors were who were currently playing the lead roles, and I was giddy at the thought of actually seeing them do their thing...yes there were other musicals to be seen - The Book of Mormon, Newsies, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia, Chicago, Phantom (Just to name a few...) But no, none of them would compare to seeing Wicked actually on Broadway in the theater where it's been for the past 9 years.  I packed my "Elphie-Green" Wicked outfit, did a crazy-quick Wicked-green pedicure, and slept all of maybe 10 minutes that night.  

It was an insanely quick trip...arriving at about 2pm via The Lincoln Tunnel (omg...I hate the Lincoln Tunnel!  A tunnel that goes UNDER the river?), we spent a few hours wandering the east side of Central Park which included eating a New York hot dog from a vendor there in the park, then it was back to our room where we cleaned up, and set off in my first cab ride down 5th Avenue towards the theatre district.  Whhheeeeee!!  That alone was an adventure all by itself!

Wicked was amazing - this was the 4th time I've seen the show, and by far, this was the best performance with each character giving a superior performance in their own right.  Afterward, we walked through Times Square taking in the massive amount of electricity that it gives off, and stopping at a deli for a late night snack - New York City pizza and a New York bagel for breakfast in the morning.  Grabbing another cab and we were back at our residence for the night.

Did I mention it was a New York City walk-up on the Upper East Side that we stayed in?  A fantastic  old apartment building, with small apartments that the owner rented out for the night for visitors to the city (like us!) It was like we were locals living in the neighborhood and coming home for the evening. No fancy, schmancy impersonal chain hotels...this was just real Manhattan.   

Thursday morning, Mr. D. woke me up at 6:30 the next morning - which nearly got his head handed to him on a platter, until he explained that there was a lot to see and only a little bit of time to see it in - yes, we had to return for the monkey children by the end of the day.  ugh.  We set off for 42nd Street, parked the car, and started walking (note to all those planning on visiting Manhattan...do NOT park in front of the Pfizer building...even if you pay for a parking ticket to park there, you can NOT park there.  Just saying'...).  

In the next four hours, we saw the sights:
  • The United Nations
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • The Chrysler Building (Which does NOT have an observation deck, and there are no trap doors on the decorative eagles outside the building, despite what you may have seen in MIB3).  But the dude working the turnstyle at the elevator was very friendly and we had a nice conversation with him!
  • The New York Public Library (an amazing building and pure fate that we walked into the building through a random door, took a random staircase and ended up in the ...TA-DA!  Genealogy department!  Mr. D. wouldn't let me walk through all of the bookshelves....party-pooper.)
  • Bryant Park (very cool to see greenspace in the middle of this "concrete jungle")
Alas, our time was up, and we had to leave the city - sadly...through another tunnel.  (Seriously, does anybody else get freaked out over the idea of water rushing the tunnel while driving through at 55 mph or is it just me?)

A brief visit across the river in New Jersey to catch a glimpse of Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty (well, just her butt really - we didn't have time for the official ferry cruise, so we just caught what we could see from where we were at.)  That is definitely on the list for next time.  Mr. D.'s great-grandfather came through Ellis Island, and the genealogy history geek in me needs to experience that.  

And so ends the tale of my early - yet fantastic birthday celebration.  And for all of you who need the visual...enjoy this little video of my "One short day in the emerald city...."

                                       video

(I have some chocolate and Mt. Dew to enjoy.)

C.

Monday, August 13, 2012

2011: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Congratulations!  

To you - because you made it through 40 days of my rambling, crazy memories, and going a little deeper into my sometimes scattered brain.

To myself - for sticking to this whole "40 in 40" thing.

This whole past year I've been looking forward to this coming birthday.  I actually began embracing my birthdays recently, completely enjoying them, some might even say "milking" them for all their worth.  I believe in a birthday week, not just one day, and if I could I'd go for a birthday month.

This is just how much I love my birthday.

Last year?

THIS was how much I loved my birthday!  (Okay, it wasn't actually on my birthday, but a few weeks prior to.  But I did say that I would take a birthday month if I could get one...)

Now I know you're dying to know about the big 40, and how I will be celebrating.

You'll just have to wait and see....I don't even know yet how I will be celebrating tomorrow!! (That's not to say I haven't already begun celebrating a wee bit early!)

C.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2010: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

I am not getting old.  I don't think I look old.  I wonder if that saying is true? "You're only as old as you feel?"

Well I don't feel old... Except for during hubby's vacation weeks when he keeps us all jumping from one day to the next.  Then I feel old.  And tired.  Today for instance, on the last day of his 2 week  vacation...I'm feeling exhausted and ancient.

But I still don't think I'm old.

But in August 2010...I had an "old" moment.  I think it stemmed from a memory I had of my parents going to their 20th high school reunion, and then all of sudden...without warning...I was going to my own 20th reunion, and the realization that...oh my god...I'm as old as my parents once were.  (And we all know that our parents are always and have always been perpetually "old")

It was a small graduating class, unless you graduated from a one room school house.  My own children will graduate in a class of approximately 300 kids, so yeah - my meager little class of 51 was relatively small.  But a perk to having a class that size...I can name every one of my classmates.  I can even name classmates I went to school with for only a short time before they moved out of the district.  And apparently, they all made an affect on us who stayed at Edon High School, because they remained dear to us, in our memories and sometimes as close friends with us...even to this day.

My 20 year class reunion was an amazing time because we made a point of inviting people many of us hadn't seen in years...not just since graduation, but since former classmates had moved away.  And they came!  My best girlfriend from jr. high came from Kentucky and a girlfriend I hadn't seen since FIRST GRADE!  All I know is Facebook was a wonder worker in getting in touch with so many people.  Even if they weren't able to make it to the reunion, we've been put back together with friends that we've known...forever!

No.  I'm not getting old.  Going to my 20th high school reunion doesn't make me old.  And looking directly into the face of someone whose name I swore I'd never be able to forget, and drawing a complete blank...that doesn't make me old either.  A little forgetful, maybe, but not old.  Let's face it, 20 years can change how a person looks.  Not necessarily a bad thing, we're all just...different.


But get us back together, throw some Def Leppard into the mix, and it was Friday night in northwest Ohio all over again.  It's good when life doesn't change us so much that we can't be ourselves with those who used to know us best.

C.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

2009: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Shortly before my 37th birthday, in the midst of my genealogy obsession, I had run across information on my Parrish family ancestors that had been published in a few books by Irene Parrish Baker.  I asked my mother if she had ever heard of a "cousin Irene", and she had not.  The people she had wrote about were the same people I was researching, certainly we had to be related.

Inside the 3 family history volumes she had already written, Irene often referred to an upcoming fourth volume dedicated to the history of the Parrish family.  Had this volume been written?  Was she still working on it?  Was she even alive to work on it?  I had gathered from what I had discovered of this long-lost cousin that she was no longer a young woman in years.  Silly me for not giving credit to the Parrish women! At 91 years old, not only was she still alive and kickin', but yes - she was still working hard on that last family publication! And after making contact with her, I was invited to come meet her and pour over what would certainly be miles and miles of information on our common family!

Who does that?  Who drives 10 hours to meet a total stranger, only because they share a common ancestor?

I did that.

According to my genealogy program - Irene was my 1st cousin twice removed. Now, after being hit with the genealogy bug for the past 2 years, I still haven't quite figured out that "removed" thing when it comes to cousins. All I know is that my great-great grandfather, William Bryan Andrew Parrish, was her grandfather. My grandfather was his son from his first marriage, Irene's father was his son from his 2nd marriage. So maybe that's where the "removed" card comes into play? (Confused yet?)

Irene was just as amazing of a woman as I imagined her to be - probably even more so.  At the time of my visit, she had recently been put into a nursing home after she had fractured her back, and needed the rehabilitation, medication, and relaxation. Quite honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect upon our meeting. But when I walked into her room, she sat up right and held out her arms to me, welcoming me with as big of a bear hug as she could muster. Her first words to me while we hugged were, "I'm so glad to meet you, cousin!"
My great-grandfather, Charles, was Irene's uncle, so when I introduced my mom and aunt as her "Uncle Charley's grandchildren", she was very surprised, and we had even brought along an old picture of her "uncle Charley" which she had never seen before. Irene was thrilled, and made us promise to give her a copy of the photo for her to include in her book. Then she surprised us.

Irene had written in her book about a set of wedding pictures of her grandfather, William - my great-great grandfather. The story was that the pictures hung on the wall of his son's home for many years, but by the time Irene had begun to write the family histories, the owners of the pictures had both died, and the pictures were nowhere to be found, but Irene was hoping to search for it before publishing her final volume.

That day we visited her, she took my hand in hers and asked me, "Have you seen the picture?" I didn't know what picture she was referring to, and I had not yet been to her apartment. That's when she told us "the rest of the story."

As it turns out, once the owners of the pictures had died, another family member had taken the pictures - only to use the frames they were in, and then moved to Kentucky. As luck would have it, Irene was able to track down where they lived and made the trip to retrieve this priceless family pictures, arriving just after a tornado had gone through the area, and the pictures had been lost from the home. Only miraculously was the picture of William found, face down in a creekbed, and returned to Irene. Although water-damaged, the artist in her promptly set to work at restoring the picture, which she proudly hung in her apartment.

Going in, I didn't know what my part was in this. Irene mentioned to me that there is no one else in our family who was researching this family line. Was that it? Was I supposed to help her finish it?  She also was excited to see that I had purchased one of her 3 family history volumes, as in her words, "nobody buys my books." And that's when it hit me.

This trip was not about me gathering information for my records. It was about meeting this woman who has devoted 50 years of her life to OUR family. It was about sitting and listening to her tell her stories of our family members, stories I had never heard of, and stories my mom had long forgotten she had heard. It was about seeing the common threads that link us together as family. And perhaps, just maybe, it was about being a light in her world. A bright spot that perhaps had been dimmed by what appeared to be a lack of interest in our family's history, now once again had brightened in her eyes.

(Irene Parrish Baker passed away recently, just short of her 94th birthday.)

C.

Friday, August 10, 2012

2008: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Is there anything better than the best of friends to share things with?  I'm lucky like that.  I happen to be surrounded by "besties" who share my love of all things Broadway.

I came to my love of musicals all on my own, but somehow I managed to marry a man who enjoys them (or at least isn't completely opposed to watching them with me) and also having two bestest friends whom I can sing and enjoy a good musical number with.

When my girlfriend called me years ago, alerting me to a new musical that I just HAD to hear, I laughed and said ok...sure.  When the CD arrived at my house I laughed and said to myself...sure.  And then (and I can't believe I did this.)  I shelved it.  I actually put the CD up on the shelf to listen to at some undefined point in the future.

This was the same friend who I was able to share the experience of seeing "Phantom of the Opera" for the first time with in Toronto - Actually, we saw it twice.  (My mind wants to remember a 3rd time, but I'm not entirely sure...it's a bit of a blur)  Anyway, I trusted her judgement, but when I received the CD...I still shelved it.  For a very long time.  Months even.

What was I thinking?

They asked, "Have you listened to it?"  Nah, haven't gotten to it.

"You NEED to listen to this musical!"  Yeah.  I know.  I will.

"Seriously.  Listen to the CD."  Fine!  I'll listen to it!!

I pulled it down and listened to it after probably 6 months of collecting dust. (It may have been closer to 9 months actually.)  That was 6 months of time wasted not appreciating what I had in my possession.  6 months of not realizing that THE most amazing musical was in my grasp and I had no clue.  6 months before I discovered the thrill of Elphaba and Galinda and their story before "Dorothy dropped in."
Wicked arrived on Broadway in 2003, took over the Tony Awards in 2004, and it wasn't until 2008 when the opportunity arrived for my turn...OUR turn...myself, best friend, and our spouses to see it for ourselves via the touring company.

I was officially hooked...I think I was hooked before seeing it, but to have the opportunity to see it on the stage for myself ... and to see it with my own "Galinda" was the icing on the cake.

The musical is on the list of "must-see" musicals, the Top 25 of Broadway, and if you can't get to a theater to enjoy it for yourself, I'd be happy to break into my own version of "The Wizard and I" for your listening pleasure.  "Defying Gravity" is a bit of a stretch for me vocally, but I'd be willing to give it a shot, because I think everyone needs to experience a little culture in their life at some point.

Four performances under my belt - 2 in Buffalo, 1 in Toledo, and one more that I have yet to tell you all about (future blog post alert!), it remains my favorite musical of all time.  Thank you Nina and Rick for pushing me to listen and getting me hooked....Thank you for being the Galinda to my Elphaba!!
Birthday cake for my 36th bday,
courtesy of my local Dairy Queen and mom!
C.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

2007: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

I was bitten.

I don't remember exactly how or why, but I had picked up some old papers one day that detailed a few events of my grandfather's early life and his family.  Just a few tidbits really.  But looking at that information, seeing the names of people I had never known - the reality hit me that these people were my family, flesh and blood relatives of mine, a real part of me.

And that's when it happened.

Somehow I had become fascinated...completely obsessed with all things related to my relatives.  The dead ones.  Who does that?  

Yep...me.

It wasn't just about trying to find old family photos, and talking to family members about what they remember, suddenly cemeteries became as much fun to me as an amusement park.  And libraries?  Libraries are a WONDERFUL place! Just point me to the closest microfilm machine please.  I've never been in trouble with the law, but I've spent more than my fair share of time in county courthouses -  looking up deeds, and last will and testaments from their dusty, long-forgotten shelves.  I've travelled hours (HOURS!) to meet a cousin who I'd never met before in my life, and I cried at the grave of my 5th great-grandfather the first time I visited his resting place on a country hillside cemetery.

Five years of googling, digging, and recording.  Five years of late nights with way too much chocolate and Mt. Dew while finding "just one more" family member on the U.S. Federal Census.  Five years of wondering where on God's green earth my great-great-great grandfather Parrish could have possibly come from since I can't find him!

Yes...I'm a little obsessive compulsive over this "hobby".  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2006: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

I grew up being part of a family of 4.  Being a grown-up, I was content having my own little family of 4.  Mom, dad, son, daughter...perfection, right?

Ha!

If you've been reading and following (and hopefully you have been!), you'll know that I had absolutely ZERO control over when our son and daughter came into our lives.  Granted, I was there and part of the process, yes.  But it was God's timing when these children came into our lives, no matter how hard I tried.

And if I didn't have control then....guess what?  I certainly didn't have control after they were born and I thought I was done having kids.

Ha Ha!

My little super-hero, little dude, comedienne extraordinaire, and little surprise was born in March 2006.

I was scared at the thought of being out-numbered by the kids in this house.

I was petrified at how I could possibly care for two little ones at home...three when our oldest came home from school in the afternoon.

and....

I was completely in love with this new little man in my life who, even though frightened me with his "unprepared for" arrival, has continued to make me laugh every single day of his life since he's been  on this earth.

C.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

2005: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

The summer I turned 33, was a traveling kind of summer.  And those are a rarity.

It's not so much that we don't like to travel, it's just that real vacation time, away from everything, just doesn't happen often for us.  Living away from his parents when we were first married, meant that vacation time was spent traveling to Buffalo to spend time with them.  Once we moved to Buffalo, we began to vacation in Ohio, seeing my family and our friends there.  Add to that - financial reasons, or time constraints, and now having two kids... "real" vacation time away just didn't happen for us on a regular basis.

As life happened, my mom had moved to Florida - and that opened a big vacationing opportunity for us during that summer of 2005.  Baby girl was still young enough to travel easily, and D-Man had turned into a young lover of all things Hollywood (age appropriate of course), so we hooked up a portable DVD player in the car for him, and set off down the road for North Port, Florida.

My memories of that trip are of seeing the temporary housing communities set up from when Hurricane Charley went through the area the year before (Mom's first summer in Florida, and the Gulf Coast where she lived got hit with a doozy of a hurricane), little gecko lizards that were jumping EVERYWHERE...including across my sandaled feet while we ate breakfast at a Waffle House (I was not impressed to say the least, and these things look NOTHING like the cute little Geico gecko on the TV commercials.), and we also made some other new friends while we were down there...like this fella who poked his head up a few times in one of the ponds and stretched his legs in the area as we walked to the community pool.

Thankfully we made it out of Florida before getting eaten by crazed geckos, or giant gators, and before Hurricane Katrina formed and caused chaos that year.

In August the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. presented itself to us, and with Mr. D. being the history buff that he is, and since I had been there when I was in high school and relished the idea of going back again to fully appreciate what I missed out on back then, we jumped at the chance to visit!  I don't know if I was more excited over the idea of getting to go to Washington D.C., or getting to go out of town for the weekend with just my hubby and no kids.  Either way, I was ecstatic!

We did all the touristy things; Lincoln Memorial, Capitol Building tour, Arlington Cemetery, Library of Congress, National Archives, pic in front of the White House, and a visit to one of the Smithsonian museums. (It was only a weekend, how quickly can we cram as much as possible into that one weekend?)  On the last day, Mr. D. was already committed with another activity, so I hopped on the Metro Rail in Baltimore, and made my way into D.C for a morning of sightseeing by myself.  It was August in Washington D.C. and it was hot, and after I had finished walking the length of the mall area and made my way to Union Station to catch the Metro Rail back to Baltimore, I was receiving my share of strange looks.  Strange looks AND I had strangers such as the security guard standing in Union Station asking me if I was okay and offering me a seat to sit down and rest myself.  A bit odd, but I chalked it up to our nation's capitol being a very friendly place.

Silly me...they apparently knew something that I had not yet discovered even myself.  I don't know what it was about my appearance that set it off, but I obviously didn't look well to others.  And in another week or two, I would discover why... :)

C.

Monday, August 6, 2012

2004: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days


I had no idea.  

I had no idea what I was in for having a princess grab ahold of my heart the way that she did.

But grab hold she did.

And no amount of words can even come close to describing the joy of being able to welcome a happy and healthy baby girl into our family that year...so I'm not even going to try.  

C.

video

Sunday, August 5, 2012

2003: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

By the time I hit my 31st birthday, I had become a student again.  It wasn't something I had ever planned on doing, going to Bible School, but the opportunity had presented itself and I jumped on it.  I registered as a "part-time" student (because being "mom" was still my full-time job), and each semester found me registered for another class...sometimes two.

One night a week for 3 hours I sat in a class with other students all of us hoping to gain a little knowledge and insight into the topic at hand...

Christian Ethics
Acts and Paul's Letters (All-time FAVORITE class)
Book of Hebrews
Women in Ministry
New Testament Survey
Old Testament Survey (Another favorite, but completely burned me out)
Marriage and Family
World Religion (Took this one a couple of times, once audited and then for credit)

What was I thinking taking myself away from my family not just one night a week, but also taking the time to do the class work and writing those lengthy papers?

I was thinking that I needed to get into the Word more.  I was thinking that I was not disciplined and committed enough to just do it on my own.

And I was right, during the time that I was at Elim Bible Institute, I caught more of what was written in the Bible than what I had ever realized.  Not just the words that were written, but the context, the authors, and the history that surrounds God's words.

I wish that I had completed my certificate, and maybe one day I will, but for now it's been placed at the back on my "Things To Do" list...for those times in life when I have nothing else demanding my attention.

Unfortunately, it's a list I don't get to look at and cross things off of very often.

C.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

2002: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

(Forgive me...this is long...it was a long year!)

As I write this, like many others around the world, I am basking in the excitement of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Ten years ago, it was the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah that grabbed ahold of our attentions. While today we are celebrating the achievements of Gabrielle Douglas and Michael Phelps, in 2002, we were focused on Sarah Hughes, Bode Miller, and Apolo Anton Ohno.

It was also during the Winter Olympics celebration in 2002, that I discovered I was pregnant. I was surprised, and not entirely sure I was ready for another baby, but having only one child was never really part of "the plan", so...we moved forward spending those first few days and weeks reliving the excitement of what another baby would bring.

The happiness was short lived, as I would miscarry this baby just a few short weeks in...and we moved on.  We moved on through the year and throughout the summer, into August. I turned 30, and I was pregnant...again. And let's be honest. I was not excited, I was...hesitant. No, not even hesitant. It was more of a "Here we go again" attitude. Before we even had the opportunity to tell our friends, I found myself giving up hope as a 3rd child was lost yet again.  This led to an overwhelming period of poking, prodding, and testing with a fertility doctor. I was not looking to see how I could get pregnant, only trying to find out why I couldn't stay pregnant. I think I was in a rotten mood most of the time, I was angry with God, and when Dr.'s Poke and Prod couldn't give me any definitive answers, a heavy dose of cynicism set in.

And then there it was...that moment when everything stopped for the family. That one night when our lives changed forever, and my mother's world came crashing down around her. I think everyone hits a point within their life when it just seems as if all hell has broken loose and when we begin to ask, "How much more am I supposed to take?" Right about then...I was angry. I was resentful. I was cynical. And I was pissed off.

(I know I'm not supposed to say things like that. It goes against my character (most of the time) to be so...blunt. But I figure if I'm going to share the past 39 years of my life with all of you, I may as well be honest in doing so.)

In the weeks that followed, my anger slowly found it's voice - that's the good thing about being a stay-at-home mom, as it offered MANY opportunities for my own one-on-one conversations with God. I decided that if He was going to get so personal and interfere with my life, He had better have a good reason why and He had better fill me in on it! It was during one of our many conversations, I found myself at the point where all I could do was to cry out to Him, "Why? I just want to know why? JUST TELL ME WHY!" I heard Him simply say to me, "Look to Job."

Just stop what you're thinking....No, it was not an audible voice from the heavens, and there was no angelic choir announcing Him.  But when this passing, fleeting thought came into my head, I knew that it was God speaking to me. And how did I respond? I laughed. This is Job!  The man with the never ending whine! What in the world would Job possibly have to say to me?

Romans 15:4 - Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it's written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever He will do next.

When you read the book of Job, it doesn't take long to see that he loses pretty much everything, including his children. Suffice it to say, his whole world caved in overnight. We all have had a bad day at some point, but let's be honest. The verses that describe Job's loss continuously read, "While he was still speaking..." Yes indeed, this was a very bad day - the events that Job experienced in that one single day are something that maybe we've experienced in the course of at least a week if not a month or two.

But how did Job respond?

Job 1:20-22 - Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped: Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked I'll return to the womb of the earth. God gives, God takes. God's name be ever blessed. Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.

Our children are a gift, and the appropriate response to a gift is gratitude. Job, even though he has just lost everything, thanks God for the gifts he had been given. I had to ask myself if I was willing to thank God for the gift He had given me and had now taken away. Could I loosen my grip on my children enough to feel the freedom of entrusting everything to His care, and welcome God to have his way with those I love?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

The same God who gave Job all his possessions also had taken them away. Just as the same God who gave me the gift of that life inside of me, had chosen for whatever reason to bring that life back to Himself. I couldn't let the knowledge of this pull me away from God, but instead draw nearer to Him. I love my God for who He is, not just for what He gives.

10 years later, I can thank God for that short time He blessed me with a beautiful gift of each one of my children, those living and those who are not here on this earth with me, and I can also thank Him for those few years when my life was blessed by seeing a man who loved my mother with everything in him. 

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

C.

*Charles Swindoll. Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance
Nancy Guthrie. Holding On To Hope



Friday, August 3, 2012

2001: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Something about being a mom.

Something that kicks in...a gut instinct...a "momma bear" mindset that says we will protect our kids from anything and everything that might threaten them.

There are also times, when despite how badly we want to hold them, keeping them safe from all of the evil in the world...we can't.

My little guy was not hurt, injured, or distressed at all.  In fact, at only a year old, he was not concerned or even aware of what was going on in his world.  And this was HIS world.  It was his world, and his future, and it was being threatened like we had never known that beautiful autumn morning in September.

And there was nothing I could do about it except to watch it unfold on the television.

It was a "normal" morning for me, Mr. D. had gone off to work, baby and I were at home, and I had just finished my shower and sat down to catch a glimpse of what was happening via The Today Show.

I turned on my TV at 9:03 that morning, precisely as cameras caught the 2nd plane flying into the 2nd tower.  I didn't understand what I was seeing.  I didn't know there had already been a crash into the North Tower...and I just stood there looking at an image of the World Trade Center and thinking, "that plane is really close, and that seems a little odd, and...."

And then nothing.

I dropped to my knees, and cried out to my God.

D-man came toddling up to me wanting on my lap and I could only pull him close and wrap my arms around him, wanting to protect him, protect the future that he deserved to have.  But the uncertainty of what was unfolding in front of me scared me.

I packed the little guy up in his carseat and we took off to find Mr. D on his mail route.  I needed to see ... needed to know of something that was certain, and hear the voice of reason that although it usually annoys me, that day I knew it would be a reassurance.

I was 29 years old when September 11, 2001 changed our country in a way that nobody ever expected or thought would ever happen.  And no matter how much this momma bear wanted to protect my little boy from all evil in the world, I couldn't do it.

C.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

2000: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

A few weeks before I turned 28...
...I became a mom.

A quick history...late 1998, we had miscarried our first child.  Exactly one year later on what should have been a sad day of remembering...I was taking a pregnancy test, and watching the results turn positive!  Even though I remembered with dread what had happened just one year before, I was now celebrating the fact that another baby was on the way.

I had home pregnancy tests telling me I was pregnant.  I had a doctor telling me I was pregnant.  We told all of our friends and family that we were pregnant, and although it wasn't said, I know that everyone was hoping for the very best this time around.  Well this time around was definitely it when at 7 weeks, "morning sickness" kicked in like a rocket, and just an FYI...the "morning" part of morning sickness is a complete lie.  It wasn't just in the morning, but lasted all day, every day for seven weeks.  It seems like such a short time now when I think about it, but back then it was kicking my butt!  

It was in July, just a few weeks shy of my 28th birthday when D-man finally made his way into my world.  And I do mean FINALLY since he took his sweet time getting here.  When I was 12 days past my supposed due date, I was admitted into the hospital to push things along.  42 hours later, I hated everyone in the maternity ward, baby wasn't coming, my doctor wouldn't allow an epidural because baby wasn't coming.  Then we discovered baby was basically coming out "butt first".   Finally doc made the decision, I was wheeled in to the operating room, and D-man made his appearance a few minutes later via c-section.

And did I mentioned he was born weighing 11 pounds?

Once I could hold him, marvel at him, and look at this beautiful child who had spent the last nine months curled up within me, I realized that God's timing is all that is important.  No matter what my schedule is, it is His schedule that will make things perfect.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

1999: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Columbine.

Anything that may have been going on in my life pales in comparison to what happened that April day in Littleton, Colorado.

A spring day in Buffalo and another day at work for me, when the word of what had happened that morning came across media outlets. Two armed students, duffel bags filled with explosives, and one hour that will remain a nightmare to so many students and parents.

I think at some point we all shed tears for those who were killed that day, either on that day or at some point in the future while those directly affected mourned and said goodbye to those they had lost.