Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas 2014 Letter

Dearest Family & Friends,                                                                                        Christmas 2014

Once again, it's Christmas letter time. I refuse to say “It seems like I just wrote a Christmas letter yesterday, and now it's time again?”. I really refuse to say that, because that would imply the year went fast, and I'm getting older...and well, that just can't happen!

Every year, I get reports of how much everyone loves receiving our Christmas letter. Our friends and family seem to like my cute stories about how wonderful our children are, because let's face it, everyone brags on their kids during the Annual Christmas letter. It's like an unwritten law or something...”parents must brag on their kids at least once a year, in writing, and then send it to all their family and friends.” Didn't you get that memo??

So this year, I decided to go a little different with the Christmas letter...Here goes...

Chancey still barks at everything and everyone who come within 50 feet of our house. It doesn't matter if she knows the person or not, doesn't matter if there's another dog around. She still must inform the humans in the house that “hey, look, there's someone there.” So don't try to sneak around my house, because the dog is on the job!

Jacob is a head-strong, hyper boy, who likes to run around the house in his underwear and leave a trail of clothes. Luckily, he's only 11 and he keeps this habit limited to our home, so there's still hope he will out grow it before he becomes a teenager. But if you plan to stop by, especially if you have daughters, you might want to give me a heads up otherwise, you might see “Boxer Boy” darting for clothes.

Kalissa is a teenage girl. Do I really need to say more? Oh yeah, a teenage girl with a part time job (read “money to spend”) and the ability to drive (freedom). I'm still waiting for my order of “Drama Be-Gone” to arrive. Apparently it's on backorder with no shipment date available.

How's that for bragging? Now for the highlights from 2014! **drum roll please**

Kalissa became a legal driver, started her Junior year of High School, started reminding me often that in less than 2 years she will be “gone away to college”. (not sure if that's a threat or a promise...jury is still out, depends on the day).

Jacob crossed over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, which was somewhat bittersweet. He had a wonderful Cub Scout experience with an awesome leader, but the Boy Scout Troop he found to call home is also wonderful. I can see Scouting being a major part of his future development. He started 5th grade, decided reading isn't the most terrible thing to do, but still would rather play a video game than crack open a book. He also decided this year to give his life to Christ and was baptized on his 11th birthday.

We got to have another daughter for 3 weeks this year, Lea Dietrich, a High School student from Usingen Germany came to stay with us. She's part of the Noblesville-Usingen Exchange program, which Kalissa is participating. Lea was a wonderful additional to our family. We loved having her here, learning about her culture, seeing our own culture via her eyes. You never really live until you try to explain some American slang phase to a foreign teenager who is looking at you like you have 2 heads! Kalissa is looking forward to spending time with Lea's family this coming June.

In other news, David continues on with Conseco CNO Financial working in their IT dept. I am still at home most of the time with the kids, volunteering at their school and helping out where I can at church. I also started a part-time job in Dec. I am working with a Realtor group as their assistant. I really love the work and learning a new industry! Also, 3 days before Thanksgiving a neighbor's tree fell on our house. Nothing like glass flying and 40mph winds going though your home to make you count your blessings and be grateful that no one was hurt as you celebrate Thanksgiving. The house is being repaired and our family moves forward into 2015 knowing that God is taking care of us.

I hope this Christmas letter finds you and your family healthy, happy and in good cheer. We wish you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of all New Years.

With love, David, Lisa, Kalissa and Jacob Brown

Monday, October 27, 2014

For my baby girl

Dearest Kalissa,

A few years ago on Jacob's birthday, I wrote out the story of my pregnancy and his birth.  I did it mostly to remember all the little details, because I was so happy that he was a strong, healthy, fun loving little boy when at a time, it seemed he might not make it to our family.  Today, I remember the first pregnancy and your birth.

Daddy and I had been married, not quite 5 years, both working full time, just brought a house, gotten a 2nd car, and was truly living the nice life as DINKs (Double Income No Kids).  There was money in the bank account, we could buy what we wanted, go out to eat or the movies without guilt or without advance planning!  It was a nice life.  But the house had 3 bedrooms, and one of them would look so cute with a crib in it, I thought. 

Our friends, Jim & Vicki Vaught were living in Portland, OR. I would have to look up the exact date, it's in your baby book, but I think it was sometime in Feb. They were visiting, and so we had lots of college friends in our house that weekend. I wasn't feeling great. I was getting worried that I had a touch of that stomach flu that was going around work.  But I wasn't sick, just queasy. Vicki, being a nurse, asked me if I could be pregnant.  I told her I could be, but didn't know.  Well, she decided it was time for me to find out! :)  Drug Store, bathroom...3 minutes...and Vicki & Dawn watching me walk out of the bathroom.  I avoided their question and went to find your Daddy.  He, of course, was manning the grill cooking hamburgers and hot dogs for an army of friends.  In true David fashion, I whispered the news in his ear, he looked at me and asked if I was sure. I showed him the pee stick, he said "OK", gave me a kiss and went right back to flipping his hamburgers!

We went until the beginning of March to tell the family.  Your Mamaw & Papaw came to visit one weekend so we gave them the news on a Saturday. Your Aunt Sue called that morning, while Dad and Mom was on the road to our house, and started asking questions because she said I sounded "sick".  So she figured it out just minutes before Mom and Dad arrived and got the news themselves.  The next day, Sunday, we meet your Grandma & Grandpa Brown for lunch celebrating their wedding anniversary.  It was O'Charley's.  Your Daddy handed them a card and said "We couldn't wrap your gift, but hopefully you're like it."  The card read something about "Happy Anniversary to my Grandparents" and was signed "Can't wait to meet you in October".  Your Grandpa Brown didn't notice that it said Grandparents until after Grandma pointed it out. :)

Remember that "queasy feeling" back a second ago?  Well, Little Kalissa, you made Momma sick!  After the first week, I really didn't have the queasy feeling much, I actually felt great, until...without a bit of warning, suddenly I was sick. I would get maybe a minute warning to rush to the restroom or the nearest trashcan or 32 oz cup before anything I had eaten was visible.  Doctor watched me for dehydration, watched my iron levels, watched me for too much weight loss.  I think in that first couple weeks I lost between 10-15 lbs.  I worked full time, but carried an empty 32oz plastic cup with me everywhere I went.  I lived those first few weeks on the idea that everyone told me "morning sickness ends about week 14".  Well, let me tell you some truths about morning sickness...
  •  "Morning" sickness is not limited to the morning.  It can strike all day, at any time, and more than once per day.
  • Morning sickness "normally" begins around week 6 and ends around week 14.  For me, it began about week 4 and ended the morning I delivered you. Seriously! For Real.
  • Morning sickness varies greatly by person and by pregnancies!
  • Some believe that morning sickness is a sign of a healthy baby and pregnancy. This I also believe.  I never worried about you or Jacob while I was having morning sickness.
In July, we went to Canada with the youth group from Northside CoC.  I didn't know I would be pregnant when we agreed to go with the teens. I remember praying for weeks and having everyone else pray for me, "Please Lord, don't make me vomit in a strangers house during this trip. Oh and don't make me vomit in front of all the teens, please Lord."  This was my prayer every single time I was hugging the toilet or trashcan.  The morning that we were leaving to head to the church to load up and head north, I got sick at home.  The night we returned after 10 days in Canada, I got sick at home.  There is power in prayer!  I didn't get sick once while in Canada or on that trip! :)

In Sept, Mom and Dad moved to the new house, and the first weekend hosted a baby shower for you. They made chili and it was good, but of course that good old "Morning sickness" thing.  I "went for a walk" when I felt it coming and your cousin Caleb decided he would walk with Aunt Lisa.  He was around Jacob's age now then.  I give him credit for staying there with me and not running back to the house, but we returned to the house and I heard him tell his Dad (Uncle Bob) and my Dad (Papaw) "I am NEVER going for a walk with Aunt Lisa again!  She puked...would walk a couple steps and puke again..." Disclaimer, your Daddy did suggest to him that he might not want to go, but he went anyway.

In mid-Oct, the Bowers did it's annual Stone Soup.  We did it at the farm house, which you know as Calvin & Ronitta's house. That was my home growing up. After dark, your Uncle Calvin took everyone on a hay ride.  I'm pretty sure the roads of Shelby County were trying to bounce you out!

Friday, Oct 24, I was working full time, tired by the end of the day but overall felt pretty good.  We had Friday afternoon staff meetings every week. At the end of the staff meeting that week, James, the Director of IT, said "now everyone wave bye to Lisa because we won't see her next week."  I thought he was just confused by his dates, easily done with him, so I said "oh no, I have another week before my leave begins."  He just smiled and said "we'll see".

Saturday, Oct 25, I don't recall what we did but a normal weekend then was catching up on cleaning, laundry, and playing games or cards with all your honorary aunts/uncles in the Southern Indiana area (Jim, Greg, Paul, Dawn, Marcie, etc)

Sunday, Oct 26, normal in the morning, afternoon naps, church in the evening.  We always went out for supper with others from Church afterwards, so we got home and turned on the TV.  I think we watched some show we liked on Sunday evenings, then flipped the channels and realized it was the bottom of the 9th for the final game of the world series.  It was the Cleveland Indians and the Florida Marlins.  We figured we would watch the end, and be able to chat about the game at work tomorrow.  The game went into 11 innings!  I think only 3 other world series final games have gone into extra innings.  We finally went to bed after 1am.

Monday, Oct 27 2am - I wake with a feeling that I wet myself.  Not a feeling I really liked and my first thought was that you kicked my bladder. I did a shuffle to the restroom, cleaned myself up a bit, and realized that I needed to call the doctor.  Called the OB night number, told them I thought my water had broken...I was told to come into the hospital.  I woke your Dad. We gathered items, left for the hospital.  Arrived to Floyd Memorial and was taken up to a room.  I was having a few little pains/contractions but nothing major.

About 3am the nurses were done messing with me, and so I decided it was time to let my parents know. Papaw had told me to call when I was having this baby, and I was a Daddy's girl so I wanted my Daddy to know we were at the hospital.  He answered on about the 2nd or 3rd ring, and I said "Daddy, Guess where I am?"  He grumbled something like "you better be at the hospital if you're calling me at 3am" Then he told me call again after daylight.

About 5am the Doctor told me I wasn't having contractions and with my water broke, we needed to "move this along".  So they gave me a medicine in my IV and also put an internal monitor in your head (that's not fun...let me tell you!)  They were worried about your heart rate, but the new monitor showed all was great with you.

Between 5am and 9am, the medicine they gave me started working....if the goal was for me to suddenly start feeling like my body was being torn apart from the inside.  Oh by the way, we also decided and insisted that I was doing this naturally without pain meds.  The best way I know to describe a contraction is to suddenly feel like every muscle in your middle (chest to thighs) tighten really tight then do The Wave, only they don't release until the wave has gone from top to bottom and back again.  They say they only last seconds, but when you're in one, they feel like FOREVER.

The hospital room had this huge clock right across from the head of my bed, so I could watch it's hands move slowly around the clock.  I was so tired, my body would dose off between contractions and then wake with a start when one began.  At 9am, I remember this clearly because of those big hands on the clock, the nurse came to check me.  She told us that I was "maybe 5 centimeters and fully effaced".  She then said "At this rate, the baby will make an appearance around Noon or so".  This was the same nurse who had laughed at me when I said I was delivering this baby without pain meds, by the way.

At 9:10am, I told your Daddy suddenly "Go get the nurse! Somethings happening!"  He asked what I mean, and I said I think my body is pushing.  I didn't know, all I knew was something was different about that contraction and my body felt like it wanted to push something out.  I listened as Daddy told the nurse that I was ready to push.  The nurse laughed, I heard her tell him "I just checked her, there's no way she's ready to push".  Your Daddy insisted and finally the nurse agreed to come tell me herself that I wasn't ready to push.  She walked in still laughing and mumbling something about "first time mothers", lifted my blanket, looked down, looked up with a little bit of a deer in highlights look, and said "Hmm you're crowning.  It's time to have a baby".  She wasn't laughing then.

Suddenly there activity level went from zero to 60 in our room, the doctor walked in, pretty much just in time to catch you.  You were born at 9:56am on a Monday morning, very similar to this one.  You were 19.5 inches long and 6 lbs 0 oz.  You screamed immediately to tell the world you had arrived.  After they cleaned you up and checked you out, I held you for the first time, checked out your fingers and toes, introduced you to the doctor and nurses as Kalissa Michelle Brown.  

Your daddy didn't pass out during my labor, but a nurse did escort him to the couch as soon as you were born and he was looking a little white.  There's other details here and there, that you might have heard over time.  

I loved you from that day back in Feb when I learned you were coming and I love you more today. You are a beautiful girl, inside and out. Your heart is so tender and loving, your mind so incredible.  You challenge me in how I think, how I speak, you have taught me more about life and love than I knew I was lacking.  I hope I have blessed you as much as you have blessed our lives.  I love you, BabyGirl! :)

I love you forever,
I like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Weight, Pre-diabetes, Exercise, and Encouragement

When it comes to our health, little changes can have huge impact!  In Nov '13, I was told my blood sugar was "within pre-diabetes" range.  After losing my dad way too young due to diabetes, this didn't come as a surprise. I knew I was high risk, but it was still upsetting to get that news. In Apr '14, I went back, I had made a couple attempts at lowering it, but wasn't doing too great. I had lost 2 lbs, but face it, I can lose 2 lbs by drinking extra water, that's nothing!  To be honest, I wasn't ready to commit to the change, and I was in denial that it was really that bad. I argued that the tests had to be off somehow, anything but the fact that I was slowly killing myself by not making changes.

The doctor wanted to put me on medicine that day, but I am stubborn and I asked for 6 months. I walked out of that office visit frustrated because the doctor made it sound like I couldn't do this without medicine.  Maybe that was her first mistake, because if you know me, the fastest way to see me do something is to tell me I can't do it.  I had a decision to make that day...I could continue and end up on medicine the rest of my life or I could decide to change.  I wish I could say I made the decision that day, but honestly I still struggled with it...until about May, then I got serious in June.

Today, was my follow up appointment after that 6 months.  I don't mean to brag, but my weight is down, my blood sugar levels are down, and overall, I just feel better.  The doctor said "I have only seen one other patient in all my years of practice lower their numbers this much in just 6 months".  I still have my sweet tea, I still have a soda every once in a while. I still have a sweet treat, and sugary creamer in my coffee. I haven't denied myself any food, but I'm conscious of everything that goes into my mouth.  I also work out, 6 days a week.  Even when I don't feel like it, even when I don't want to do it.  I work out. I do it.

I have some awesome friends who have encouraged me along the way. I won't name them, because they don't want to be named. But know, I couldn't have done it without you!  To my personal trainer, who shall be nameless, THANK YOU for pushing me and holding me accountable even when you knew I might dislike you at times for it. I promise I will eventually read all the handouts you have given me to read, but I seriously doubt I will ever enjoy a plank.

If you're struggling with weight, working out, diabetes, or anything, keep putting one foot in front of the other.  It seems like an almost stupid concept, but trust me...when I didn't want to run, or even walk, when I was questioning why I'm doing this again, I kept telling myself "put one foot in front of the other".  Eventually, I "one footed" myself back home...having completed my workout.

If you see someone overweight out trying to run or even walking in front of your house, smile at them, shout out "good job" or "keep going".  If it's me, I can promise you, I will turn 90 shades of red, but deep down it will put an extra push in my step.

If you're the support person of someone who is struggling, I can give you 2 big pointers...

1) You can say the same words and one day they will be Nagging and another Encouraging.  It's not you, it's how we hear them.  Even if we get mad, continue to encourage and "Should you be eating that?" is never encouraging, just saying ;)

2) The person has to make the decision to change, no matter how much you encourage, nag, offer, or complain, until the person is ready to make the change for her/himself, it won't happen.  Be patience and love them.

I have two sayings that I have found online that I keep places where I see them often "It hurts now but one day it will be your warm-up" I'm holding to that promise!  The second is "I might not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday."  Yay Me!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Rambling of a Runner-Wannabe

Running is hard.  It doesn't seem like it should be.  Put on a pair of running shoes, lace them up, and put your feet to the pavement. What's so hard about that?  Really, I mean, one foot in front of the other: it's like walking only faster (you hope)!

There's a lot more to running...Your calves hurt faster when you're starting out running. Your lungs scream because you're not breathing in and out properly.  Your entire body says "Hey, what do you think you're doing??? We were just fine walking; what's this other crap you're doing now???"  Oh and then if you're female and carrying extra tummy weight then there's also the extra bouncing...the boobs bounce, the stomach bounce, and I didn't look but I'm sure my butt and thighs had extra bounce in them too.  All of those things happen, but you keep running/walking through them, and pray no one is looking out their windows as you run down the street.

By the way, running is only pretty once you can run. I'm pretty sure a beginner runner looks like the childhood toys Webble.  (You remember those, "Webbles wobble, but they don't fall down".) Only with beginner runners, they wobble and the neighbors wonder if they are going to fall down!

Running is also getting past the fear.  I didn't realize this until today.  Running is about not letting the fear of "can I do this?" win.  Running is about telling yourself that "Yes, there's limitations of what my body can do today, but those limitations aren't going to win." and it's about telling yourself that those limitations are going to be kicked to the sidewalk, because you're going to keep getting faster, stronger, and more able to run.   It's the fear that makes me want to say "I suck at running" and start looking at other ways to get fit.  But running isn't about the fear, it's about leaving the fear behind us.  I remember a movie, I think it was "What Women Want" but I am not 100% sure that's the right movie, but in the movie, the man is designing an ad campaign I think for running shoes, and he listens in on the woman's thoughts, and comes up with the perfect campaign, because for the woman, running was about feet hitting the pavement, the alone time, the complete control, the freedom...

Maybe I'm romancing running. Maybe for you running is just putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe you never thought about fear of failing to run, you just do it.  But for me today, I needed the pep talk.  I sucked at running today, but today was just one day.  My daughter's first time playing the clarinet sounded like she was calling to the geese on the pond.  My first time cooking a meal for my inlaws ended with my father-in-law and husband playing hockey with the the hard discs that were supposed to be biscuits.

So this morning I tried to run, and felt like I failed, but you know what I did...I drank some water, I chatted with a friend. I listened to his pep talk, then I went back outside and I didn't worry about anything but putting one foot in front of the other and I ran.  I'm sure it was not any prettier the 2nd time around, but I ran. I am not breaking any records, I'm not someone to watch...but I ran.

I think I actually like running. I think I like the feet hitting the pavement, the control, the freedom.  But I think it will be a while before I don't suck at it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

20 Things I Have Learned in 20 Yrs of Marriage - Sorry Hun! :)

Ok, compared to older generations, 20 years is nothing, but to our generation, 20 years in a single marriage is becoming rare. I would be the first to admit that we do not have the perfect marriage. I personally don't believe it exists, but that's me.

1. The little things that are might be an "slightly annoying cute little trait" before you marry will annoy the heck out of you when stress hits the relationship, so decide before you say "I Do" if you can live with it.

2. Ceremony lasts 30 minutes. Marriage lasts a lifetime, focus accordingly.

3. Spend time together but also allow some individual time. This is especially important once kids come along, "me time" for Mommy needs to be more than just going to the bathroom and locking the door to pee while a toddler cries on the other side of the door wanting Mommy. Likewise, and this is hard for stay at home Moms, Dad needs time to golf, play a game, or watch a game, even if he gets to go off to work every day while Mom is home with the kids day in and day out. As much as I want to argue that it is, truthfully, the commute to and from work and hours away from the couple/family at work isn't quality "me time". But also don't "work late" to get me time, it only cracks the trust.

4. Live on your own for a while before you marry, even if its an apartment in college. Better would be an apartment after college even, but mostly live on your own, so you're not going from Mommy & Daddy's roof to the married roof. You learn a lot about yourself living on your own. Also, wait to add children to the mix.

5. The perfect husband or wife doesn't exist. Recognizing that and compromising are a must.

6. There's a big difference between nagging and encouraging, and only the receiver can identify the difference! Words spoken once gets repeated in your spouse's mind for years to come, so choose them carefully.

7. Don't compare your marriage to anyone else's. Even if you share a roof, you don't know everything.

8. Ladies, sometimes you just need to vent. If you don't want him to offer suggestions or try to "fix", vent to your girlfriend, not your husband.

9. Face it, Men, your wife's best friend will know everything about your marriage. So learn to like her, because when the mud gets deep she can either help your wife dig through it or bury the body. And even if she says "yeah, he's a jerk" most times she will send her home after a couple drinks.

10. Men, stand up for your wife against the parents as needed. You are a new family, so you need new traditions which will be a blend of you both, if you work together. Ladies, seek your husband's advice instead of Dad's. I had a hard time of that in the early years, because my Daddy was a wonderful advisor, friend, and encourager who would also tell me flat out that I needed a kick in the butt.

11. Money causes fights when there is not enough and there are rarely enough. So learn to budget when you are young!

12. Needs change over time. "Seek permission rather than forgiveness" and "Pick your fights" are both mottos to live by. Communication is the key. You hear it over and over not because it's easy to say, but because it's true and it's harder to practice than it is to say.

13. Unfortunately, just because you're tired doesn't mean the lawn doesn't need mowed or the laundry and dishes done. Eventually, it has to be done and you might be just as tired when you realize there's no clean underwear or you lost the dog in the tall grass.

14. Leave plumbing & electrical work to the professions unless you are mechanically enabled. But then, your wife will enjoy telling *cough* embarrassing *cough* you for years to come with the story of how you manage to break a perfectly good functional toilet in your attempt to fix one with a slight leak.

15. Your husband is not your Dad. So don't compare the two. Your wife is not your Mom. So just because Dad could fix it or Mom made your favorite, doesn't mean you won't be finding a mechanic or eating a new favorite food. By the way, if your wife made your "favorite" for the first time, even with mom's recipe, don't say "yuck" or that "Well, it's not Mom's". Instead say "thank you" or "it's different; I appreciate you making it for me", unless you like sleeping with one eye open after hiding the knives, of course. Oh, and if you offer "Let's just go out to eat" in a tone that says "please no more of that!" immediately after a failed cooking attempt, it will end in tears, just saying!

16. "Food" is not an acceptable answer to "What would you like for supper?", just as "Whatever you want, it's fine" is not acceptable if you have your heart set on something. If you have no preference, say it and mean it. But know if you have no preference too long, you might just find veggies on your plate rather you like them or not!

17. Do not give up your bed. I know when family visits it's nice to offer your parents your bed and you take the couch sofa "bar in the back" bed. Don't do it! Offer the couch or a the kids bed. Do you really want yo get cozy with your lover after yours or his parents have been in your bed??? I don't. In my mind, it goes with keeping the marriage bed pure, no one sleeps in our bed.

18. Work together and play together. Cook supper together, clean the house, go for a walk, play cards, swing in a porch swing. Life has big moments, but a marriage is won or lost in the little moments.

19. Own your mistakes. We all make them, we avoid and get embarrassed, but we still make them. Own up to the fact you made one and say and mean "I am sorry" and ask for forgiveness. With that give forgiveness, even if your can't immediately. It's OK to say "I need time".

20. Laugh easily, often, and mostly at yourself!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day...

Tomorrow's Memorial Day and right now, I'm covering a 2-hour radio spot where I was asked to do a Memorial/Veteran Tribute show.  So I'm sure this blog will take the entire 2 hours to write, as I multitask but it gives me plenty of time to reflect on what this weekend means to me.

My Mom talks about Memorial Day when she was little in Eastern Kentucky. People would gather at the local cemetery, put flags and flowers on the Veteran's graves, and there would be a huge picnic as they honored their loved ones.  I remember my Aunts & Uncles talking about making trips down to Kentucky just for Memorial Day weekend. My Mom makes the day and community picnic sound so great.  That sense of memorial, honor, community that you hear in her voice when she speaks of it, makes me long to go back in time and experience that!

For me, I hate to say, Memorial Day has long since became just "another day", we don't do anything special really.  It happens to be often be the same weekend as my wedding anniversary, so we sometimes celebrate on the holiday weekend.  But for the past 2 years, I have covered the Sunday night DJ set on Memorial Day weekend, and I am always asked to make it a tribute night.  (The regular DJ for this set likes to watch cars drive around in a circle in Indy at a neck breaking speed, so he takes the day off every year.)  So, this gives me a chance to look back and think about Veterans and tributes.

Here's some of the thoughts that runs through my mind as I play songs like "Arlington" by Trace Adkins, "Traveling Soldier" by Dixie Chicks, and "Riding With Private Malone" by David Ball...

I have been incredibly blessed to know some truly awesome men and women, who just happened to be Veterans. These men and women are just like me, they eat, sleep, play games, watch TV, go to the movies, fall in love, get married, break up, and have children.  They worry about paying the mortgage or if little Johnny is going to wreck the car. But there's one major difference between me and them, when I "go to work", I might get a paper cut.  I might get stuck in "car pool" traffic. On a really bad day, I might have an accident that requires medical attention.  When I was teaching full time, I might have to tell a student he or she can't repeat an exam, and they might get mad and do something stupid, like trying to cut my tires.  What doesn't happen to me "at work", is strapping on a uniform and going where others want to shoot you!  A bad day for them could end with them escorting a "brother" home or worse them in a body bag.  My job is NOTHING compared to the men and women who puts their lives on the line for our freedom.

I had the discussion with John, my newly retired from the Air Force friend, and he says (sorry I know that I won't quote you perfectly, and if I mess it up, you'll correct me!) "for us, it's a job. It's what we are expected to do, what is needed and we do it."  The attitude I understand, the selflessness, the willingness and commitment to do what's needed, what is expected.  I get that. But that's a commitment.  There are people who can't keep a commitment to wash dishes or put their clothes away, but yet these men and women made a commitment protect our freedom even when the very people they are protecting might not appreciate them.

Memorial Day is a Holiday, and a lot of us will use the day to have a cookout with friends, maybe we will take our family and go to a park or the Zoo.   Maybe we will just gather around a bonfire and have a beer, or my gamer friends might gather around a table for a game.  But the people who we are honoring at Memorial Day, are likely to be working.  They are the men and women who don't get the day off, because if they took the day off to have a hot dog and beer next to the bonfire, the very freedoms that allow us the day off could be taken in a heartbeat.

The military uses terms like "honor", "respect", and "trust".  For them, these words have meaning. They have to trust the 'brothers' who has their back. They honor the flag, the government, the idea that our country was founded.  They respect the uniform.  (They might not agree with that government all time, but they still honor it.)  I personally love those words and the meanings!  But you know what, the military don't just use these words. They don't put them in their branch motto, and write them on a flag or make them a line in a song. They actually live those words!  Those words describes not the ideal, but the actual life of the men and women living in that uniform.  Wow! Wouldn't it be awesome of the rest of us did that?

So please as you're putting the mustard on your hot dog or putting the marshmallow on the stick for a s'more, take a moment to thank a soldier, airmen, seaman, marine, or coast guard.  And if you served, I have had it explained to me, that sometimes hearing "Thank you" is hard to hear.  But please know, that there's a wife, mother, daughter, that prays nightly for you, that appreciates you.  I'm not going to stop saying "Thank you", because the words are way too easy and can't possibly be enough. If I see you in uniform behind me, I will likely pay for your coffee or pick up the tab for your dinner. I don't do it because I think you need a handout. I do it, because without you doing what you do, I can't do what I do, and for that, I'm very grateful.  So as I play the last song of my 2-hours of tribute music, I say once again.  Thank you!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Really?! You Can't See That?

It's big, yellow and has enough seats for between 60-72 children, plus the driver, and you can't see it? Really?!

Yeah, it's time for Lisa's rant about people, aka drivers, and school buses.  This is a rant that is near and dear to my heart, because my Dad was a school bus driver for about 30 years. My brother and sister-in-law carried on the tradition and still drive school buses now, well over an additional 10 our family has easily a 40+ yr School Bus Driver history!

Ok, so here's what set me off today, and made me decide to write....We see bumper stickers, signs, FB posts, billboards, etc, reminding us drivers to "watch out for motorcycles", and I'm not knocking that AT ALL!  Motorcycle riders have a spot on the road and we should give them the space and watch for them as much as we can. I have friends who are drive donorcycles, I mean motorcycles, and I want them to stay safe and be around for a long, long time!  I also pray that my friends who drive motorcycles have more brains that some!

So yesterday, near where we live, a motorcyclist apparently hit a school bus and was killed.  I followed the story, because as I said, School Buses are dear to my heart.  This cyclist apparently was weaving in and out of traffic and rear-ended a school bus that was empty.  Sorry, cyclist...I hate that you lost your life, but really?  You failed to see a School Bus?  The news reported that the school bus had stopped and was making a turn, and proper signals & lights were working.  It's BIG, it's Yellow, and it's kinda hard to miss?! I would think!

Anyway, so that's kinda sad, the cyclist lost his life, a family lost a loved one, and I pray for them.  The driver and witnesses have the memory and I am sorry for that as well.  I'm personally glad there was no children on the bus to witness it.  

So let's get on to the rest of my rant, because I have a BIG one regarding school buses and drivers.  Let's go over some facts!

*** School buses carry children, ages 5 - 18 roughly, CHILDREN!!! Do I need to repeat it again, CHILDREN...aka possibly MY CHILDREN!  That means Slow the heck down!!!!  When you see a school bus, you should take your freaking foot off the gas, cover or apply the break, and slow your death machine vehicle down to a freaking crawl!  I should be able to run faster than you are driving when you approach a school bus, especially if it's in a subdivision or along a residential street where there are children who are getting on or off that school bus!  

*** School buses stop often.  They can't really slow down and open the door and toss the kids out, they have to STOP in order for the children to get on and off the bus.  You being impatient behind them, don't make them stop less.  You being impatient behind them, don't make the kids walk any faster.  So just roll down your window, put on some smoothing music and chill out!  You will still get to where ever you are going, and if you're that late, maybe you should have left 10 minutes earlier next time...just a suggestion!

*** School buses have these things called a STOP ARM.  It's a STOP sign that comes out from the side of the bus. Some buses even have 2 so you can see them better. They are also attached to lights that flicker when a bus is approaching a stop.  Once the lights start to flicker and the arm BEGINS to come out, YOU CAN NOT PASS THAT BUS!  I don't care if you are late for the most important meeting of your career. I don't care if you're late to your own wedding, divorce, court appearance, funeral. ONCE THAT ARM BEGINS TO COME OUT, you STOP!  That doesn't mean slow down and go pass really slowly. That doesn't mean gun the car so you get pass the bus before the arm is fully extended. It means STOP the vehicle!

*** School bus drivers deserve respect, so treat them as such.  I know parents who can't drive 15 minutes without putting a video in the car to entertain their children.  A school bus driver drives a HUGE bus with 60-72 children, all making noise, talking, asking questions, singing, etc, while still watching the road and trying to keep the bus safe and watch out for drivers who can't always remember these simple facts.  Now, I will make a disclaimer, I have heard stories of things bus drivers have done that would not deserve respect, so I know there are bad apples out there.  There are always bad apples. But if you're a driver behind a school bus, try to at least give them the respect on the road and assume they are a Good one! :)

As the school year comes to an end, that means when the kids step off that bus, they are going to be ready to run and enjoy the sunshine, so PLEASE be careful!  Nothing breaks my heart more than hearing a child got hit by a car, nothing sends me into a panic more than hearing a school bus was involved in an accident, and nothing would rock my world more than hearing that one of my children was hurt while on a bus or getting on/off at the bus stop. So please SLOW DOWN, PAY ATTENTION, and KEEP THE KIDS SAFE!!!

because it's BIG...Yellow...carries lots of people...You really can't see that?!?!