Monday, June 15, 2009

They had a great time!

I'll let the pictures tell the story. (I still haven't figured out how to post pictures on my blog normally or post captions).

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Version of "24"

I once saw a small portion of an episode of "24"-that popular series starring Keifer Sutherland last year at a friend's house. A couple of minutes was all I could take. The torture and brutality were horrid - not enjoyable tv viewing at all. As I understand it, though, it's very popular because of all the blood and guts, action, drama, mystery, torture, and unusual time sequencing. No thanks.

Fastforward to this morning. I went to Bean Town in Sierra Madre with Daisy and Julia to get a scone and have some coffee. Bean Town is one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world. It really captures the essence of Sierra Madre. And Sierra Madre, for all of its small-town corruption, gossip, rampant recreational drug use, racism, and hippie liberals with hairy, stinky dogs (not that there's anything wrong with hippie liberals - I love 'em- they're just conservatives who haven't grown up. I could do without their hairy, stinky dogs, though) is a sweet, friendly, endearing, slow-paced, Mayberry kind of place to live. I love the town. It has really grown on me over the past 5 years I've lived here.

But, I digress. The girls who work at Bean Town in the morning are very young and cute. One of them was turning 24 as the banner under the counter read. I wished her a "happy birthday" and then said, "Turning 24 is great, but I'm so glad I'm not 24 anymore. I'm one of those rare people who really believes getting older is great. But, 24 is a great age to be." I really didn't want to be one of those condescending old people in any way. At that moment, Michael comes in. Michael is the friendliest person in town. He's probably in his mid to late 60's and is frequently at Bean Town. He helps himself to his "usual" behind the counter and talks to just about anyone. He's quirky, offbeat, outspoken, funny and just my kind of guy. I really think we could be friends. Everyone seems to know him. I've had a couple of brief and entertaining conversations with him myself. As he's standing in line wishing Amber a "happy birthday" I ask him "Would you want to be 24 again?" He looks at me seriously and quickly says "NO." I laughed and sat down to juggle hot coffee, grabby Julia, a couple of packets of Splenda, a bag with a chocolate chip orange scone (the yummiest, best scones in town! Although Tim has told me mine are better. He's so sweet - but he's wrong)and guiding Daisy to a seat on the couch. I begin to reminisce about my 24th year of life. It wasn't pretty. It was my version of "24" - complete with drama, mystery, action, torture - but no blood and guts thank God.

I should explain. (You knew I would, didn't you?) Let's see, at 24 I was working full-time as a long term sub at Garfield High School where Tim works, going to school part-time, doing my student teaching, and also pregnant with Elena. I didn't have a lot of friends then because I was so busy with the aforementioned activites and a lot of my older friends were in different places geographically and otherwise. My mother had been dead only 4 years at that point (not a long time in my opinion) and I had only been married two years. After the first year of wedded bliss wore off, I was shocked and depressed to realize that my husband wasn't perfect and that I was - gasp - really selfish and immature! Marriage really exposed all these yucky qualities of mine. And it's been 15 years of hard work and determination to grow and change by the grace of God to become less selfish and immature, and yet I have a long way to go. It seems these days the one bonus to time and a little bit of maturity is only greater awareness. I see my selfishness and immaturity more quickly now(see my post "Yelling at the Bus Driver") and am swifter and more skilled at making amends. A recent trial I encountered was just learning a lesson I hadn't in a past similar trial. I was actually glad God gave me a second chance to get it "right" this time. I'm still working on it, though. I know God will be faithful to help me.

Anyway, maybe I'll visit Bean Town tonight. They have their morning bakery items half-priced or free towards closing. And, I love to walk around town at night by myself. I always stay on well-traveled, well-lit streets as I walk past most of the closed businesses and just enjoy my sweet little town. Who knows? Maybe I'll run into Michael.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Elena's REAL Promotion

After Grammy died last week Tim thought through several options about getting out to her funeral; drive, fly, carpool with his Dad, drive with some of our girls, etc. Finally, he decided to drive and take Elena, Camille, and Leanne. This was devastating news to Elena.The funeral was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday in Texas, the day after her 8th grade Promotion on Tuesday night. I tried to talk Tim into letting her stay home from the funeral and just take Camille and Leanne. No go.I was actually surprised how much Elena's Promotion meant to her. Camille was happy to skip it. As we were discussing the situation I asked her why she was so upset to be missing it, all the while validating that it was an important event. Elena is not one to get overly emotional about much, and she is hard to draw out. She's difficult to read usually, but here she was crying and very upset. So, she replies, as can be expected, "I don't know. I just really want to go."
"I agree that it's important, but where are all your emotions coming from?"
After several minutes of questioning her and trying to draw her out, she said that since September she had been looking forward to the event. She had worked really hard in school all year long and was looking forward to that validation. It was also a big deal to her because she was being promoted to high school - not just any grade.
She had worked hard and did very well in her challenging science class. I realized how important the night was going to be, but I also realized that Tim would not cheerfully let her stay back,. He had a hard time spelling it out for her, only saying "Well, I really want you to go." I had to say to Elena "Your Dad is not going to budge. You need to go to the funeral."
Boy, when it was final and set in stone, the tears rolled - mine and hers. I felt so bad for her. She rarely asks for much and is generally easygoing and helps so much around the house with chores and childcare. The one thing she really wanted was taken from her. Oh, I was sad for her. Her blubbering sobs in her bed that night broke my heart. I tried to comfort her and express my sadness that she was going to miss out. I tried to encourage her that honoring her dad's wishes pleased God and that God would bless her. Still, it broke my heart to see her so sad.
The next day a friend suggested we fly her out to the funeral after Promotion Night. I asked Tim about this, and he was leary of going beyond $300 for a one-way ticket to Dallas. Elena and I (mostly Elena) looked for hours and made several phone calls to see about a reasonably priced flight. One flight was the perfect time and price -$287-but they were going to tack on an extra $100 for a companion to travel with her because she was under 15. Elena continued looking and tyring to find something better, but nothing showed up, despite our prayers. So, Elena came to the conclusion that $387 was too much to pay for a one-way ticket to Dallas. She gave up her search and accepted her fate: she was car-bound for Texas - and no Promotion. I was relieved at how quickly she had a good attitude about it. When Tim, Elena, Camille and Leanne left early Sunday morning she seemed happy about the trip. I was glad for her. Tim also added in a trip to Carlsbad Caverns and a trip to the Grand Canyon. Because Elena wants to study earth science in college I thought these would be great trips for her. I am diligently praying that God would reward her in many and surprising ways.
I'm so amazed at my precious daughter. I realized that her real promotion was one of character growth and faith in God, rather than standing on a stage and being "promoted" to high school. That will happen regardless of public recognition and a formal ceremony. But, the opportunity to honor her Dad, trust God, and embrace second best in her mind with a good attitude is a far more important event. I'm so proud of her. She's growing up! She is being promoted, so to speak, in maturity and godly character. And she's learning lessons that are far more important than pleasing her understandable and normal desire for public recognition. I believe that God, in the heavenly realm, is giving her recognition for trusting him and pleasing him and that in the life to come that promotion will be far more significant and meaningful.
I was also glad to be able to say to her "There have been many times when I've had to prefer your Dad's wishes and not get my way. It's hard at times, but God has honored my faith and my desire to love your Dad. And many times, Dad has been right (not always, mind you, but that was not relevant during this conversation or any conversation for that matter). Anyway, I'm looking forward to how the trip goes and I'm expecting to see how God rewards her.
I decided to go to Promotion that night anyway. And lo and behold, when I wasn't expecting it, I got encouragement notes from the leader of the Academy that Tim and Elena and Camille had written to me. All the moms got them and they were so meaningful. I was surprised and blessed for sure! Even so, I choked back the tears when the 8th graders, minus one - my beautiful daughter who had bought a special dress just for the occasion - stood in front of the audience with their certificates and special gift cards as they were being prayed for. Sometimes, at those moments, keeping an eternal perspective is very helpful.