Monthly Archives: August 2013

Birthday Lesson Learned

Recently, 6yo became 7yo.

Because weekdays are bad for everybody, her birthday party was held on a Sunday.  It was a small affair with family and a few close friends.  No theme, just some cute $.97 disposable table cloths, a few balloons, and cake that 7yo specifically designed herself. We barbequed some chicken and ate fresh-picked sweet corn.  Nothing big, nothing expensive. hopebday

Last year, when she turned 6, the birthday production was much bigger.  The Saturday before her birthday, there were two parties.  The first was a kid’s pirate themed party, complete with crafts, a scavenger hunt, a pirate-ship cake, and a giant pile of presents. I had ordered every pirate decoration offered from Oriental Trading.  Kids left with eye-patches, telescopes, plastic gold doubloons, head scarves, candy, and a treasure chest they designed themselves. Once the under-10 crowd dispersed, we were joined by family and a few close friends for a second, more low-key party (and a second cake).  On the actual day of her birthday, Jim and I took her downtown to celebrate with dinner at the restaurant of her choosing and stops in all of her favorite local shops followed by desert in her favorite ice cream parlor.

At the end of 2012, when I was working to organize our photos for the year, it became apparent to me that we may have gone overboard.  So, this year, we decided to scale it down a bit.  As I was putting the tablecloths on the folding tables in our yard, I second-guessed myself for a moment – would it be enough?  Will she be upset that this year’s festivities don’t compare to last year’s?

Of course she wasn’t.

Not once did she say “aren’t more kids coming?” or “why aren’t there games and prizes?”  She thought her birthday party was perfect.

Lesson learned.

 

 

Remembering Shirley

This morning, I’m thinking of a dear friend.  I’m reminded of her because we’re nearing the second week of August.

For years, while I was in high school and college, I would spend the second week of August on vacation at Treasure Lake.  Treasure Lake is a golf community with two highly-rated golf courses that also offers boating, swimming, and many other fun summer activities.

I originally began going as a helper to my Aunt (my father’s sister) and Uncle.  They had young children and I spent several of my summers babysitting them.  At the end of each summer my Aunt and Uncle would generously bring me along on vacation so that they could both enjoy some rounds of golf together.  I would take the kids for bike rides, to the beach, and to the pool while the adults played their 18 holes.  My relatives covered all of my expenses and the kids were a dream to babysit.  I was basically being paid to go on vacation.

We were joined every year by another couple, Shirley and Wayne.  Technically, Shirley was my uncle’s aunt, but they were so close in age she seemed more like a cousin.  Still, all the kids (including me) referred to her as “Aunt Shirley.”  She was kind, generous, and a great deal of fun.

After a few years, I stopped babysitting, but I was still invited to come along simply as a family member.  I was often invited to join them for their daily rounds of golf.  My Aunt, Shirley, and I would golf together while the guys (who took their scores very seriously) went on ahead.  Our team motto was “Hit it toward the cart path!”  Shirley was actually a very skilled, avid golfer.  She taught me everything I know about golfing (which, admittedly isn’t much).  I always golfed better when I was with her.  Her most important advice was repeated to me year after year in a sort-of mantra she had learned from a golf instructor once-upon-a-time:

“Keep your head down.

Keep your head down.

Keep your God-damned head down!”

Outside of our vacations, I didn’t see Shirley and Wayne that often.  I would attend picnics at their house and run into them at some family functions. They both danced at my wedding.  Still, there’s a familiarity that develops when you spend a week with people year-after-year – a bond akin to those one develops at summer camp. I considered Shirley and Wayne to be good friends and was extremely fond of them.

My Aunt, Shirley (center), and myself during a round of golf.

My Aunt, Shirley (center), and myself during a round of golf.

A few years ago, Shirley succumbed to cancer at an unfairly young age.  She left a gaping hole behind in the community and in the hearts of her loved ones.  Her funeral was beautiful, yet terribly painful.  She was a nurturer, a leader, and a doer.  She is fondly remembered by all who knew her and her memory continues to live on in her friends and family.

Often, not just in golfing but also in everyday life, I can still hear her voice telling me to “Keep your head down!” and simply trust that, if I do what I’m supposed to, things will go the way they should.

We miss you, Shirley.

 

Rocks….so much fun.

I love rocks. Who doesn’t?

Granted, they’re not very fun when you’re digging….or when they hit your car…..or when you’re caught in a landslide…or when you’re being stoned to death.

Other than that, rocks are awesome.  After all, the wise man built his house upon the rocks. If he was really wise he would’ve built his house on Boulder Field because those rocks have been there for 20,000 years. But he didn’t, so the government took it over and turned it into a tourist attraction.Hickorya6

There’s some story about how glacial melt caused rocks to break and somehow magically end up there, but I choose to believe that there’s really an Asgard ship (Stargate, not Marvel) hidden beneath the 12 feet of rocks.  One day, when we need it, those little gray geniuses will send us a code to turn it on and Richard Dean Anderson will fly it out of the ground with his mind.

Or not.

Until then, tourists will skip from rock to rock (some more gracefully than others) and write stupid stuff on them, like “I love Betty” and “Shane rocks!”  By the way, very funny, Shane (who writes his name with an S shaped like a lightning bolt).  How clever of you to demonstrate your understanding of homonyms on a 700 pound rock that was just minding it’s own business.

So, it’s been a while….

I’ve neglected this blog for a number of weeks.  I’m sure my three avid readers were slightly disappointed, but probably no one else noticed.  Summer is an unpredictable time for us.  Our daily schedules go haywire and I find that days go by without me thinking once about writing.

Here in NEPA, the summer is already winding down.  School starts in two short weeks.  Despite the common misconception that all teachers live for the summer, I am looking forward to returning to teaching.  6yo, on the other hand, has no desire to return to school because “It lasts for hours!”  She’s had a rough time these past few weeks with her health, so I’m just hoping she’s fully recovered before we head back.

It was a little over two weeks ago that we saw the spot.  It was on her leg, about the size of a half-dollar.  In addition, her eyes were starting to look sunken, her face was pale, and she started complaining that her hips and knees hurt.  She was constantly tired, despite getting decent amounts of sleep.  Her appetite was nearly non-existent.  The morning I took her to the doctor, she came crawling into my bedroom because she hurt too much to walk.

We never saw the tick.  According to our pediatrician, with Lyme disease that’s often the case.meds

Twelve days into her 21 prescribed days of antibiotics, she broke out into a severe case of hives.  Her knees, ankles, and hands swelled.   She could hardly walk.  She was prescribed a different antibiotic for the remainder of her treatment.  Slowly, she seems to be improving.

Through it all, she’s been quite the trooper. She plays through the pain and chokes down the hideous-tasting medicine.  She’s blotchy and itchy, but in good spirits.  Our greatest hope is that her treatment works this first time, and she doesn’t join the legions of people fighting this illness long-term.

Hopefully, she’ll be one of the lucky ones.