Monthly Archives: August 2012

Where Have The Times Gone?

This is the time of year when I seem to get a near-constant lump in my throat. I swallowed hard as I checked the sign at our local outdoor swimming pool, confirming, “Your last day is the Third?” It’s our last full week of summer vacation. We moms stand around, talking school supplies and schedules, shaking our heads in disbelief, marveling—again—at how fast it’s gone. Yes, there have been days when I’ve yelled. Too much. Yes, there have been days when the t.v’s been on. Too long. Yes, we’ve heard Maroon 5’s “Payphone” on the radio at least four times each day. And yes, I’ve answered the question “Mom, what are we gonna do today?” more times than I can count. But summer brings with it a spirit of adventure, a time when we leave the days of sameness behind and set out, together, for sometimes new, yet always fun, experiences. Bouncy houses. Parks. Beaches. Farmers Markets. Cheap Christmas movies in August.

We have all grown, learned, and in some cases, matured. There are obvious ways. Like my three-year-old who slowly and tentatively pedaled his bike with training wheels 30 feet down the driveway and now races around the entire cul-de-sac, boldly grinning from ear to ear. And who started the summer with a life jacket on and now jumps into 4 1/2-foot deep water, freely and fearlessly. And there are subtle ways, too. Like my 9-year-old who would be the first to point out “Boy, this day has sure turned around,” after some particularly rocky mornings. Or who crawled into bed with his little brother to help him get to sleep one difficult night. And then there’s me. Who’s learned that it’s OK to take a few days off from running and simply rest.

Soon my 9-year-old will leave at 9 a.m. and return at 4 p.m, the time I’ve come to think of as the time we start winding down. I now find myself stealing glances at him. I look at him extra long in the rearview mirror, or watch him intently as he reloads his Nerf guns. It’s like I want to tuck those moments away, commit them to memory. To stick them somewhere where I’ll be able to retrieve them when he goes back to school, to remember those blue eyes that sparkle when he smiles.

I hope they don’t remember the yelling. I think we’ll all remember “Payphone.” What I hope they remember is that routine and monotony turned into days filled with exploration and companionship. And that the best thing about summer is just being together.

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From Down To Up

I wake up with the word “adversity”on my mind. I suppose I’ve always sort of scoffed at it, or thought of it as rather cliché, a word reserved for playoff or Super Bowl speeches. But today, as far as running goes, I am feeling it. This week I’ve been icing a knee that got tweaked after standing funky in the gym, popping Cold Eeze for a sore throat and wondering about getting up before
5 a.m. for my run to accommodate Mo’s latest schedule change at work. Last night after Mo delivered his schedule news, I couldn’t seem to shut off the water works. “It feels like things are starting to stack up against me for this marathon,” I told him.

To put it mildly, I’m feeling discouraged.

So this morning I head downstairs, make myself a latte, and wander outside with my journal and “Jesus Calling” devotional. I flip it open to August 18. “Expect to encounter adversity in your life…” it begins. Then…”Anticipate coming face to face with impossibilities: situations totally beyond your ability to handle….It is precisely where I want you—the best place to encounter Me in My Glory and Power (Revelation 19:1).” I sit with these words for awhile, letting them soak in.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

The first thing on my list (after we hit our favorite coffee shop) is to buy some new running shoes. I’m the only customer in the store right after it opens. I share with the guy what’s been going on. He listens, offers insight and even advice. He’s done seven marathons. He’s trained through knee pain. We discuss injuries, training and shoes. I talk through my plan to take a couple (maybe even a few) days off. He reminds me that it’s OK.

“This week is the first blip in my training,” I tell him.

“It probably won’t be the last,” he kindly encourages.

His words are reassuring. He’s been there. Many times.

By the time I settle on a pair of shoes, my discouragement turns back into optimism and hope. I am uplifted and encouraged by his words and experiences.

As I drive home I think about the other word that always seems to accompany the word “adversity.”

Overcome.

Blue Angels Sunday

The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels were in town this weekend for Seattle’s annual Seafair celebration. Each year, they perform Saturday and Sunday over Lake Washington and we have made it a tradition to see them. From relaxing at a park on Mercer Island to cradling an infant on the I-90 freeway to sunbathing in boats in the middle of Lake Washington, over the years we’ve seen them in a number of different places for the awe-inspiring, breathtaking action. For the past three years we’ve headed down to Boeing Field in Seattle, which is where they make their home during Seafair week and start and end the show.

It feels like a behind-the-scenes, up-close and personal experience at Boeing Field. We watch the flight crew perform the pre-flight check. The pilots arrive in a white Chevy van (which is hard for me to get my brain around. I don’t know if I expect them to jump out of a helicopter or be escorted by a motorcade, but a white van just doesn’t seem to quite fit for the arrival of these elite pilots.) We watch them line-up and proceed to their respective jets, each pilot making a right turn and saluting as he begins the climb up the ladder to the cockpit. Each keeps his left arm perfectly straight at his side as the right hand grips the arm rail for the ascent. They settle in and don bright yellow helmets. The crowd cheers wildly and expectantly as the engines fire up, blowing a ceremonious gust of white smoke. Slowly they begin their drive-bys; waving, making peace signs and doing raise-the-roof gestures. There is nothing quite like the anticipation and excitement of seeing this detailed pre-show routine. It is rich in tradition, ritual and prestige. As I take it in, Huckster is all around me. A Navy guy through-and-through, I’d call him and my mom every year during the show and shout “Listen!” holding up my cell phone, as the FA-18 Hornet engines roared overhead. We didn’t carry on a conversation. I just wanted them to be a part of it.

This year my husband, boys and I watch the show off in the distance and try to find some relief from the 90-degree heat. We eagerly await the occasional fly-bys, marveling at the thunderous sound, waving and yelling as they soar above us. Soon, they return to a warm welcome and many of us stand behind the barricade waiting for the pilots to come over, greet onlookers and sign autographs. My boys decide they can’t take the heat any longer, so they head back to the car to relax with a cold drink and AC.

I join the crowd of waiting spectators. I hang back, behind children and families. I watch as the pilot of Blue Angel #5, C.J. Simonsen chats it up with kids, asking their names and posing for photos. He signs a yellow replica helmet and a cast. As the sweat drips through my hair and down my back, I think for a second about bolting, not wanting to come off as some freaky, perspiring forty-something groupie. But I wait. I am riveted. It’s not about the autograph. I think about what I’m going to say, knowing it will be the same thing I said to the pilot last year. I want to tell him how my dad had some of the best moments of his life in the Navy. I want to tell him how he could recall with picture-perfect detail the experiences and landings aboard the aircraft carrier. I want to tell him how he’d sit in his chair in the corner of the living room when I’d call, moved to tears, listening to the booming engines on the speakerphone. I want to tell him that this great Navy man is no longer on earth.

Instead, as he signs my glossy, full-color brochure, I simply say —with hopefully all the pride that Huckster embodied—”My dad was on the USS Kearsarge.”

He looks up into my eyes, grinning, and says “Awesome!”

“Thank you for today,” I add.

I take my brochure and start sprinting joyfully back to my waiting family, feeling that in some teeny way, by sharing one simple sentence, Huckster’s legacy continues to live on.

Harlan Coben Junkies

It began early last Fall; as it turns out, the last was first. I’d gotten a book from my mother-in-law called Live Wire by Harlan Coben. I delved into it and enjoyed it so much that I passed it onto my sister. She, in turn, enjoyed it so much that she dug a little deeper and found out that it was the 10th—and for now, the last —book in the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. Myron Bolitar, a forty-something guy who is a sports agent, and his preppy, super-wealthy best friend Win, get into a variety of interesting exploits, like finding missing people or discovering underhanded goings-on that involve his clients. After reading Live Wire, my sister decided to get the first book, Deal Breaker, from the library so that she could read the series in order. Like any brilliant sister idea, I copied it.

So we’ve spent the last several months putting Myron Bolitar books on hold at the library. I’ve sometimes waited weeks, sometimes mere days, to get the next one so that I could start plowing through it. I’ve giddily driven to the library after getting my email notification that the latest book was on the hold shelf. My sister and I have sent each other numerous texts over the course of the months, “going to bed early to read….”

The style is conversational, humorous and witty. I’d often find myself chuckling out loud. But there are also some powerful, beautifully written moments between Myron and his dad, who have an especially close bond. Myron is a guy who loves his mom and dad dearly and simply enjoys being in their company. And not only have we consumed Mr. Coben’s Myron Bolitar series, but also several of his stand-alone thrillers, like Caught, Miracle Cure and The Innocent. For my sister’s birthday I got his latest stand-alone novel inscribed for her with one of her favorite Myron lines, the last sentence of The Final Detail (Book #6): Friends and lovers were great, he thought, but sometimes a boy just wanted his mom and dad.

And now we’ve both made it through the entire series. She’s just finished rereading Live Wire and I’m doing the same, hoping to gain some new perspectives and insights that I might’ve missed the first time around. Our conversations about Myron’s latest girlfriend and clarifying plot points are drawing to a close. No more reading about Myron’s childhood experience at Yankee Stadium or the knee injury that ended his basketball career. As we bid a bittersweet farewell to Myron Bolitar, Win and the rest of the crew, we’ll simply wait —with fingers crossed—to see if there will be an 11th book in the series.