Monday, September 16, 2013

A Weekend Stroll Down Memory Lane

When a few of my "old" classmates and facebook friends began discussing the possibility of a 30th year class reunion a few months ago, I had mixed feelings. I wanted to see old friends, yet I knew it can be awkward and a bit depressing to get together with people who haven't spent much time together in over 30 years.

So I decided I'd build the anticipation and fun by making a slideshow for the reunion. All of my daughters' high school graduations have included a slideshow presentation, and it's one of the funnest parts of what can be a very long, drawn out event. We, however, graduated several years before power point presentations and thus - no slideshow for us. So I dug out some old school photos, year books and yellowed newspaper clippings. Some classmates sent me photos - old and new alike. I even spent an afternoon stalking class members' photos on facebook. Most sobering of all, I found myself googling obituaries of the four class members we'd lost since our last reunion.

Many of these classmates were ones that I'd known since I was 5 years old...ones that I'd spent 8 hours a day with, 5 days a week...for 13 years (we were one of the first classes to experience that amazing grade called "kindergarten!") You don't spend THAT much time with people, especially during such formative years, without getting influenced by and attached to them.

Then, something almost prophetic happened a couple of weeks before the reunion. While I was visiting with a friend of mine, she simply mentioned high school reunions. You have to understand - this friend had no idea my 30th reunion was coming up soon. She just started talking about how she gladly chose not to attend her 20th class reunion this summer, even though her mom tried to encourage her to consider it. Here's what she told me her mother said:
My ten year reunion wasn't so great...we were still pretty immature, click-ish and too concerned with "Who's popular and who's not."
My twenty year reunion was pretty good...but many people were too focused on bragging about their successful careers.
But my thirty year reunion? It was GREAT! By that point in life, we'd faced the reality of loosing some class members and we were mature enough to just celebrate the fact that "We're still alive!"

And you know what? She NAILED it. My 30th reunion turned out to be one of the funnest weekends I've had in a long time. Moments of tears, moments of reflection, but mostly just moments of laughter. Laughter over old memories and stories...and laughter at ourselves and our modern problems. ("I've got a smart phone, but I'm too #@%! dumb to use it!") Lots of mingling...amongst everyone. So what if she was the popular cheerleader and he was the nerd? Who cares if one of them was a high school drop out and another got all A's? Life's too short and we were having too much fun to concern ourselves with such minuscule, ancient details. We've been around long enough now to realize that youthful good looks and popularity are fleeting...all of us made our share of mistakes...and dog gone it, life is short and we better just enjoy the people that have been a part of it while we still can.

Real friends are those who, when you've made a fool of yourself, don't feel that you've done a permanent job. ~~Erwin T. Randall

Thursday, July 18, 2013

When You Walked In

Taylor Swift's song "I Knew You Were Trouble" has been around for awhile. I've never really paid attention to the lyrics - still haven't. But a few days ago when I randomly heard it playing and she sang the line that must be the whole theme of her song... "I knew you were trouble when you walked in"... my brain did this humorous flashback thing.

I immediately remembered the day when Nate literally walked into my life for the very first time. It's a funny memory for me, because it was NOT love at first sight. In fact, at that moment, if Taylor Swift's song had been around, that one particular line would have popped into my mind and stuck.

It was the first day of our sophomore year of high school. (Mere babes, I know...but hey, we thought we were so grown up since we were no longer freshmen.) Each new school year began with a class orientation of the rare times during the high school year when the entire class was all together in one room. That's when he walked in - the new kid.

June of 1982
Nate's first-impression problem was the fact that he came walking in with the two or three resident cowboys in our class. I won't get specific, but I didn't have a good history with cowboys at school. One teased me often, bashing my already fragile, young teenage self-esteem...and the other experiences went downhill from there. So when Nate came walking in with THEM, in his collared shirt with the pearlized snaps and Wrangler jeans, I merely thought, "Oh great - another cowboy," and didn't look twice.

Thankfully - you can't judge a book by it's cover. He lost the cowboy shirts after a few weeks, made some more friends, actually earned a few better scores than me in geometry (how dare he?!!) and made me laugh. A lot. And somehow he got a lot cuter over the next couple of years.

He's now my life long best friend, and most days, he's no "trouble" at all. What an incredible blessing.

All things considered, I'd say it's also a blessing that Taylor Swift songs weren't around in the early 80's.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Exuberant Details

We picked up daughter #4 at the airport last Saturday. She was returning from her college spring break...a mission trip to an orphanage in Baja, Mexico. I LOVE those first moments with returned travelers. The experience is still so fresh and alive in their minds, they can't help but share it with the rest of us in exuberant fashion. (Well...unless there's a lot of jet lag involved...then it might not happen quite so exuberantly.)

Tabitha was full of stories - everything from candy to concrete to contrary kids. She enjoyed the kids, and quickly explained, "These kids have a sixth sense for candy - they KNOW when you have it in your pockets, and they really like you when you give them candy. But hey, I didn't have candy - so any friends I made this week were genuine."

Genuine is good. How about the kids?
Not always so good...

"Some of those little kids were SOOOoooooo cute!" Tabitha continued. "But the cute ones could get away with almost anything. Some of my team had been to this orphanage before, and when one of us newbies declared one particular little boy the 'cutest thing ever' she was quickly told, 'Perhaps - but last time we were here, we were debating whether he might be the very spawn of Satan himself!'"

"Then there was this one little adorable girl who looked just like Boo, from Monsters, Inc. She'd seen the movie, too...because she'd walk up to us and say 'Boo!' And one little boy who liked to beat up on one of the guys on our team had this PERFECT evil villain laugh...'Mmmuaahahahaha' was so funny!"

Ok, so when you weren't playing with the 100 orphans, what did you do?

"We did some concrete work." Tabitha said...and then paused.

"So, I kind of gained some respect for my lifting and shovel skills," she tried to explain without too much bragging. "This group of girls would go fill buckets with sand for mixing up the concrete, then expect a guy to come carry it for them. I was like, 'Hey, I got this, girls - we don't need a guy.' And they'd all be like, 'Wait - you can carry that???' and I'd be like, 'Sure - I got this!'"

"And then I became the one to carry the heavy buckets of water, also," she continued. "After awhile, someone said, 'How come you're so good at all this hard work stuff?'"

"It's all because of my dad," was her simple reply. Even in the darkness, I could see Nate beaming from the driver's seat. He loves it when he receives even the tiniest of accolades for always expecting his kids to do difficult tasks and work hard, whether or not they're females. He's certainly received his fair share of grief and complaints about it through the years - just last week he heard some griping from our 13-year-old who didn't really want to help with a roofing project. Thus, these glimpses of victory are worth basking in for a few moments.

"By the end of the day - the Mexican guy who was in charge of the concrete work requested that our team help him again the next day. They said that never happens, because he's very picky and is rarely happy with his volunteer helpers."

More basking from the driver's seat.

Lots more stories and laughter ensued throughout the trip home. (An advantage of living over two hours away from the nearest airport.) Some random Spanish sprinkled in now and then for good effect. Stories of digging trenches and guys getting to prove their manliness by eradicating 300 LB rocks from the trench. Climbing mountains for quiet time. Shopping in the market. More kid stories.

All in all, a great experience - not only for the girl who went, but also for the parents who love to welcome home their world travelers.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

A View of the Movies

My family has a unique view on movies - both as a whole (see this post from several years ago) and as individuals. That uniqueness came up during a meal-time discussion when three of my older girls all happened to be home...

"We saw that new 'Bourne Legacy' movie recently, when all of us were together at my apartment," Bethany, the oldest of the three began. "It was crazy - Tabby and Lydia were just arguing the whole time; Lydia saying she didn't understand how it could be a 'Bourne' movie without Jason Bourne in it...and Tabby saying what a great movie it was, whether or not Jason Bourne was in it!"

"Then, the whole time we were watching it, they kept arguing. Lydia would say, 'I don't get it - what just happened?' and Tabby trying to tell her to just pay attention and Lydia saying, 'But why are they getting all political - why'd they put politics in it?'" Bethany continued telling us, with all her exuberance and animation.

But then she paused. "I was like, 'Wait - what do you mean it's political?' To me - if it's not congress and the president, you know...government stuff...then it's not political at all."

"But Lydia just kept going on and on throughout the movie about how she didn't get it and why'd it have to be political," Bethany continued. "But it wasn't a big deal to me. I didn't have a clue what was going on half the time, but I liked it anyway. They got to hold hands once in a while...there was some great action scenes; so who cares if I didn't get it - I liked it."

There you have it. A little hand holding is enough to satisfy some of my kids; some don't want anything too complicated, political or confusing; and yet others need deep plots that they can analyze and figure out (without having to explain it all to one of their sisters.)

Me, personally?

I tend to agree with the hand-holding girl. A cute little bit of romance goes a long way in my book...errrr, I

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vintage Car Appeal

The older I get, the more I love looking at old automobiles. I don't think I ever care to own one - just another maintenance problem, right? (at least, that's what I keep telling myself ;-) Oh, but they tempt me. Go ahead and try sending a 40+ year old, easy-on-the-eyes fellow my way and I'll rarely look twice. However, drive by in a 40+ year old polished, playful and pampered car - and you've got me.

I blame it all on my dad.

Imagine my great joy when recently, we "inherited" decades worth of National Geographic Magazines from my eldest daughter and her husband, who discovered them in the basement of an old house they purchased. Sure, they contain a wealth of information and history within their pages - but I'm simply drawn to the advertisements. Especially the auto ads.

These ads from the early 1930's rather make me yawn. A bit TOO old, perhaps? Ah, but I do like those prices - wouldn't it be awesome to purchase a brand new car for prices like that?

Where I stop and browse for hours on end is in the 1950's editions. What fantastic ads - for everything from porcelain toilets to fountain pens. But of course, my favorite of all are the car ads. Aren't these beautiful?

I've never liked station wagons or their successor,
the minivan...but THESE are fantastic!

I don't know about handling - but yes, it
is a beautiful thing!

Cadillac evolved a bit from the early 1930's!
The 1960's were good too, of course, as that's when the beloved Mustang came on the scene. Unfortunately, National Geographic didn't  seem to attract Ford's advertising dollar and I found no vintage Mustang ads. I did, however, find another ad of the ever evolving Cadillac.
Then came the 1970's, and it's kind of all downhill from there. Another Cadillac ad from the late 1970's, when gas mileage was now a much bigger issue and classy looking "boats" were losing their appeal.
Last, and most certainly least - the 1970's saw the birth of the economy car, with American auto companies bragging that their cars are imported...from Germany. I believe I just heard those early 1930's, post WWI and preWWII counterparts roll over in their graves.
Oh well. With today's gas prices, none of us would want to be driving one of those 1950's gas-guzzlers on a daily basis, so who am I to complain? I did, however, try to pass on my love of those gas-guzzlers to one of my daughters, by giving her a unique gift for her retro kitchen.
I do believe my dad would have approved.