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The End of Summer Fun

July 28, 2009

summer-fun.jpgThis morning my seventeen year old twins and their best buddy, Jessie, went to get their high school class schedules. They came home discussing the joys of learning, how much they hoped their classes challenged them, how they couldn’t wait to eat delicious school lunches and what fun it is to get up at six thirty every morning (okay, I’m lying). The truth is the ONLY thing they are thrilled about is they were able to get in advanced P.E. class. Oh well, that’s one of the joys of boys.

Of course I know not all boys are like mine. I have two nephews who love to read, make straight A’s and will probably grow up to be brain surgeons. I love them dearly, but my boys are just not geared that way. They had rather be outside than in a classroom. Had rather be moving as opposed to sitting still. And when it comes to reading, if it’s not Sports Illustrated, forget it.

When they were little I always took them school shopping. Now they prefer to order anything they need online and spend their last moments of freedom on the golf course. This morning when they asked to go golfing I gave them a list of things to do to earn the money. They cleaned the whole upstairs in less time than it takes me to load the dishwasher. Of course they probably threw stuff in closets and under the bed….but I’m not going to look.

I remember my high school years like it was yesterday. It wasn’t yesterday, but at times it feels that way. There are so many things about being young that have stayed imprinted on my mind as clearly as my granddaughter’s handprints on my computer screen. Things like…the heady feeling of freedom when school is over in the spring. The possibilities of a whole string of endless summer days just waiting to be filled with summer fun. The trepidation of knowing those days are coming to an end.

I remember and I’m thankful for all the memories, but I don’t want to be seventeen again. I lived through it once and that was enough. So as I watch my boys load their clubs and take off down the road to the golf course I find myself thinking about the fact that in the blink of an eye my babies will be graduating and moving on.

Have I told you “thank you” today Lord for my boys? If I haven’t, I’m saying it now. I love them dearly. Thank you for the joy, the mess and the stress that’s part of raising boys!

My wonderful son-in-law

July 24, 2009

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Just about one year ago our only daughter Rachel married her best friend, Gabe. It was a beautiful wedding and I loved watching the young groom watch his bride walk down the aisle. One guest told me “The way he looked at her is the way every mother hopes her son-in-law will look at his bride. You could tell how very much he loved her.”

 A year later things are going well and they are busy and very happy together. There are lots of things I like and admire about Gabe. His boundless energy. His enthusiasm for life. His kind heart are just a few of them.

He’s also great with Abby, our only grandchild and Rachel’s only niece. Often when Abby is talking to Rachel on the phone she’ll say, “Let me talk to Gabe.” The fact that he loves children thrills me too because someday when the time is right I know he will be a great father.

Gabe’s birthday is coming up soon so this is my way of saying, “We’re glad you are in the family and Happy Birthday Gabe. We love you dearly!”  

Best friends for life

July 21, 2009

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We all have friends of varying degrees. New friends, old friends, acquaintences, friends who would do anything for us, friends we invite to barbeques and neighborhood get togethers. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors from near and from far away. So what exactly takes a friend and turns them into a “best friend.”

I can only answer for myself and give you my personal definition. Maybe it’s the same one you have. Maybe not. But I’m willing to bet that at least a few of the same things that I consider essential ingredients of life long friendships are the same ones you do.

1. Sharing experiences. If you read my blog you know that I’m writing about this because I just got back from a weekend with my “girls.” (Okay, they are older girls…but they are girls). One of the things that binds us together is the past. All of us but one went to high school together and we picked her up during the college years so we have known each other a long time. Just knowing someone a long time doesn’t make them a friend, but sharing the goofy, growing up years certainly made us closer.

2. Being able to say anything and everything to each other. Even when we haven’t seen each other for years, the moment we get together it’s like we were never apart. There aren’t too many people in the world I feel that way about.

3. Knowing they love me and them knowing I love them. There are not many things as comforting as knowing that if I called one of them, they’d be there for me in a heart beat and if they called me, I’d do the same. No questions asked.

4. Trust. True friendship has to be based on trust. If you’ve ever had your heart broken by someone you thought was a friend and they broke your trust, you understand why this is an essential ingredient of friendship.

5. Kindred spirits. I know I’m a little prejudiced toward that term because of my name, but it’s appropriate because no matter how much you like someone if you don’t feel a connection to their heart and soul, you can be friends with them…but not best friends.

So today I am giving thanks for the “best friends” in my life. Thank you gals, for your friendship. You are one of the greatest blessings of my life!

My life in the fast lane

July 18, 2009

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This summer has been a blur of activity. Martha and Mandy came for a visit (cousins from Florida). They left and I went to Atlanta to visit women friends (I want to say girl friends but does that apply when you are over 50?). Girl friends would probably be more accurate because that’s how we act when we are together. Like a bunch of silly teenage girls. We went to my friend Debbie’s lake house. It’s on Lake Sinclair, near Milledgeville. She has a pontoon boat and we got barbeque and had a supper cruise the first night. We managed to knock one of the lights off the boat and lose part of the boat cover in the lake, but other than that we did fine. At least none of us was lost at sea (or in the lake).

Another night my friend (also named Teresa but we call her Mosier) brought cooking supplies and cooked us a delicious dinner. It’s been three years since we all got together and we had a lot of catching up to do. We talked, and talked, and talked. My face muscles ached from laughing so much. We cried together too. Since the last time we were together one friend had lost her mom to cancer and another’s dad had died from a stroke.

Debbie took me back to her house in Atlanta because Bill and the boys were in South Carolina at a AAU Tournament (which they won! Go Mid-State Ballerz!) I got to meet Debbie’s son Zach for the first time. He’s 23 and could easily be a movie star. He has tall, dark and handsome totally nailed down.

Bill picked me up and he had two extra boys with him; Anthony and Joe. Buddies of my boys who are from Memphis and needed a ride because that’s where we were going…to another AAU tournament. We rolled into Memphis about 2 a.m. in the morning. I went to sleep dreaming of Elvis and hoping the rumors that he’s still alive were true and that I’d run into him at the gym the next day. Didn’t happen.

The first day the boys played well but Russell injured his foot and after day one, he was out. Grant played the whole tournament. One game he guarded a guy who was 7 foot and one inch. Bill about fell off the bleachers when Grant blocked the big guys shot. Our team fought hard but were too tired to take it to the finals. We made it to the semi-finals and left for home Wednesday morning.

I have never seen two teenage boys so happy to be home. They have hugged on their dogs, ridden the four wheeler, mowed and weed eated (without complaining) been to the lake and to the movies…all in just a couple of days. Summer is almost over and they are feeling the need to take advantage of what’s left.

I have two more years with my babies at home. Believe me, I know how fast it goes. The oldest three children come to visit but once they leave home, it’s never the same. So today when the boys said they wanted to go eat at the Mexican restaurant, I dropped my broom and dust pan and said, “I’m going too.” I wasn’t hungry. I had a glass of tea and watched them wolf down enough food to feed a small army.

God is great. Life is good. Family and friends are such a blessing!

P.S. The picture above is Debbie standing next to her street sign at the lake house. I love you Debbie, Pam, Toots, Nett,Kim, Tammy and Mosier. Let’s do it again soon!

Kentucky Down Under with Relatives from Down Yonder

July 6, 2009

My cousin Martha and I have been best buddies since we were both in diapers, and that was a long time ago. She lives in Florida but she’s been here visiting for a few days with her daughter, niece and two grandchildren. In an effort to be remembered as “fun Aunt Teresa who lives in Kentucky” as opposed to “boring Aunt Teresa who we HAVE to visit in Kentucky” I have tried to come up with things to keep the kids entertained. Today we went to Kentucky Down Under, which is a Kentucky version of a few things native to Australia.

 This is Martha helping her granddaughter pet a kangeroo.

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We also went on a cave tour. This is Mandy and Maddie inside the cave.

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Next we have Martha’s niece Hannah and Maddie panning for gold.

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The kangeroos were not especially impressed with us. As a matter of fact this guy rolled over on his back and wanted us to scratch his belly. All he needed was a t.v. remote in his paws and he’d been all set.

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It was a fun day and I am so very thankful for Martha, her friendship and her love. You rock, Martha!

For more about Kentucky Down and more pictures visit

http://www.mandystephens.blogspot.com/

What I did on my summer vacation

June 30, 2009

me-and-russell-at-camp.jpgboys-at-camp.jpgboys-at-camp-2.jpgI spent my summer vacation at basketball camps. Why would someone my age want to go to basketball camp? Because my boys are there of course. This week I’m in Richmond, Indiana watching boys from all over America improve their shooting skills. Another reason I’m here is because of something that happened four or five years ago. You see I’ve been to this camp before. I brought son number two here and left him, drove back to Kentucky only to get a phone call the next morning informing me he’d been hit in the head and possibly had a concusssion and was on his way to the emergency room. It was a very long drive back to get him and one I vowed I would not repeat. So here I am with sons number 3 and 4 at the Holiday Inn, five miles down the road from camp and I’m so glad I came.

My nephews are here too and this morning the youngest got his glasses smashed. I was able to drive over, fix them, get him breakfast (he couldn’t see to go eat at the cafeteria) and get him to camp on time. His mother, of course, was a basket case when she called me and said, “He’ll never go that far away from home again without me!” I totally understand.

My sweet daughter Rachel came with me and she’s been a wonderful Assistant Mom. While I am working on this blog she took the boys back to camp and let me have a few hours down time. It’s been a busy three days. One of the twins has a sore ankle and I’ve been icing it for him, as well as giving him Tylenol. I’ve made so many trips from the hotel to camp and back that I think I could drive the route blind folded (don’t worry I won’t). Rachel and I have supervised swim time, meal time and fetched gatorades and candy bars. It’s been a blast but tomorrow it’s time to go home.

I know I won’t be as tired and sore as the boys are, and I know I’ve enjoyed camp more than they have because I just watched….they worked hard. Would I do it again…in a heart beat. My babies are juniors in high school this year. My oldest nephew is a senior. I hope we’ve made some memories this week that years from now they will remember fondly. I know I have.

A job where you get paid to do nothing…no, I am not kidding!

June 23, 2009

I am a teacher. I’m no longer in the classroom, but I was until February of this year. I say that because I want folks to know that even though I am a teacher I don’t agree with a lot of things that go on in education. We wouldn’t expect a doctor to agree with everything that goes on in the medical field, would we? But if that doctor was unqualified or did something wrong, we would expect consequences. Tell me why then 700 teachers in New York getting paid to do nothing?

If this isn’t evidence of how messed up unions and the tenure system is, I don’t know what is. The article is on Yahoo today so if you don’t believe me you can read it for yourself. These teachers are sent to rubber rooms and are there playing scrabble, painting, or surfing the web. Some of them have been doing this for years. Unbelievable!

I don’t know whether or not these teachers are really unfit for the classroom but here is something I do know….tenure for anyone in any job is ridiculous. I can’t help but think that the rest of the working world looks at the teaching profession and wonders how we get away with this because they would like to have the same archaic system.

All over America people are losing there jobs and I sympathize with them. I have friends and family in this position and it’s tough, but come on people….getting paid to do nothing?  I know it’s wrong to criticize until we walk a mile in someone elses shoes (or sit with them in a rubber room) but I don’t see how anyone can keep taking a pay check for doing absolutely nothing.

If tax payers in New York aren’t outraged and motivated to do something about this, then shame on them. It’s time someone somewhere stood up and took teacher’s unions to task. They are an embarrassment to an honorable profession.

M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I

June 19, 2009

dogs.jpgI always thought it was fun to spell Mississippi, so many repeat letters, I guess. It’s definitely more fun to spell it than it is to drive there. We just got back from taking the twins to ball camp at MSU and other than the long drive, we had a great time. I told my Facebook friends that the s’s in Mississippi stood for steam, sauna, sizzle and sweat. To which one of my friend’s replied, “Well then the “t” in Kentucky must stand for “take cover” and “Tornado.” Truthfully there isn’t much difference in the temperature there and here. It was in the high 90’s there and the same is true here as well.

The ball camp was intense. I went to one session and felt extremely guilty for sitting on my rear while the boys were working so hard sweat was spraying (there’s another s word) off them. There were about 25 boys at the camp and even though it just lasted one and a half days it was non-stop. The boys enjoyed it and really liked Coach Stansbury, as well as his assistant coaches. They came home tired, sore and a little less naive about what playing at the next level of basketball would be like.

As for me, my favorite things about the trip were watching the boys get a step closer to their dream. Watching their dad watch his boys. Hanging out at the pool with a good book. Eating at Ruby Tuesdays (yes I had cheese cake) and having the boys all to myself in a car for a long road trip. There are advantages to long distance trips with teenagers. They can’t escape your presence in a car!

Fishing for Nemo

June 14, 2009

fish.jpgMy son just left to take his three year old daughter fishing. It’s hot and humid outside and the weeds will be full of bugs and itchy things. I don’t think Abby will get near a fishing worm and I know my son won’t let her near the edge of the pond because he’ll be afraid she’ll fall in. With all of this adversity you might wonder why bother to go fishing? Why not just stay home in the air conditioning where it’s cool and let the fish live to see another day?

I suspect the fish are safe, but there is a good reason to take your daughter fishing (even if she is only three). It’s called “making memories.” Abby may not remember much about fishing with daddy, but I know my son will remember fishing with her. How do I know this? Because I remember all the things I did with him when he was a little boy. Some of them were fun and some didn’t work out the way I planned, but I have a whole heart full of memories.

Now that little boy is a grown man with a little girl of his own and together they are making memories. Even if Abby doesn’t catch Nemo (her personal mission) I suspect they’ll have fun because they love each other and enjoy spending time together.

Have I told you that I love being a nanna? It’s one of the best blessings in life. Do I hear an “amen” to that, ladies?

Ball Camp

June 4, 2009

sports-basketball-boy.jpgI went to the gym yesterday to see how my seventeen year old boys were doing as coaches. Every year the school hosts a basketball camp for children. There’s a girls camp in the morning and a boys in the afternoon. The varsity team members are coaches and the children are assigned one coach who is in charge of them. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time at this camp. When the boys were young I’d take them and stay and watch. Now my years of camp are almost over. Russell and Grant are juniors this year. One more year and the only camp I’ll attend will be with grandchildren, that’s hard to believe.

I had no idea how my big boys would be around so many little boys. The only small child they are ever around is my granddaughter and she’s almost four. Seeing my big six foot seven twins coaching such tiny basketball superstar wannabes was amusing. It’s so obvious how much the young children look up to the varsity players (literally too) that I found myself smiling at their antics.

When I asked the boys how they liked coaching the little ones they rolled their eyes and said they’d be glad when camp was over. Seventeen year old boys are not the most patient people in the world but it’s great to see them learning. Even though they act like they aren’t enjoying it, I suspect they can tell how much the little boys admire them. 

I left camp feeling better about things. Regardless of what they had told me, they were doing a good job. I also came away amazed by how very fast little boys grow up. It seems like yesterday that Grant and Russell were campers, now they are coaches and soon the high school years will be over. I can’t slow time down so I guess I’ll just do my very best not to miss a single minute of their last two years.