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Dianna laughs that these intros are written like someone else is doing it. It’s me. Trying to pique your interest in my blog. I have lots of boys and a husband of lots of years, and lots of boxers. I’ve been on the battlefield, in the boardroom, and served blissful years as a PTO President (glad I’d been on the battlefield). I love good food, good friends and good laughs.

Pour a cup of coffee, or perhaps it is a glass of wine, and share a moment with me. For extroverted folks like me, connecting is life. Even if it is connecting on the web. Webs are about connections. Let’s do this!

Coffee with a Slice of Life

Injustice

I am SO mad. The college “cheating” scandal has me fuming. To be clear, I don’t have a dog in this fight. We told our boys they were going to school in-state unless there was some magical hand full of college tuition scholarship money handed down from the heavens. Um...there was not. None of my boys were booted out of a premier school because of another parent buying their child’s way in. But I do know teens, good hard-working teens, who were accepted into big name schools because of hard work and academic prowess; and I know some who were not accepted despite their hard-work and academic prowess. Did someone buy their acceptance and keep these kids out?

I hate injustice. I absolutely hate it. Surprisingly I am still shocked when I see and hear how often it happens. There is something pretty basic about having your child actually earn their way into the school they are going to attend. Just seems like something parents should be on board with as a collective whole.

I realize of course that large contributions to libraries and large donations that build wings on educational buildings often soften the path of a child getting into their desired school. At least when I process that injustice, I can reconcile that those buildings and donations to new libraries benefit every child at the school. Having the half million dollars line someone’s pocket because their child would rather make product endorsements than study for their grades? That has a different ring to me, not that it is too much better. Some of the deception methods outlined in the legal complaints make my skin crawl.

If your child is good at the YouTube thing, mom and dad, let them do it. Leave the higher education to those that want more than a “name” school to go along with their “name” suits or shoes, and leave school to those who might actually do something of value with their degree. You know the whole “cure world hunger” thing.

I know my children have more privilege than many. Part of my parenting responsibility is to knock them upside the head (figuratively...and once in a while literally) if they start feeling too full of themselves. It’s how humanity stays connected, and doggone it if my kids don’t learn anything else from me, they will learn they have led a privileged life. That doesn’t mean they’ve had all the money in the world, but they have been supported and loved and cared for in a way so many children are not. They need to take what they have been given and go out there and be someone’s hero. Lord knows we need more of those in the world.

I know I can’t stop the stink of this type of foul misdeed. I know there are more companies out there that land deals like this, giving extensions of illegal support to more than just educational opportunities. But I can stand up and show my disgust when it comes to light and I can work hard to keep my world and my family balanced.

So, I’m mad and it won’t change anything. But the next time I hear something like this I’ll get mad all over again. Because it is just not right.

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The Front Porch

Many years ago I was sitting on my front porch having coffee with my mom.

I said to her, “This is my favorite place in the world.”

She was surprised.

“New Jersey?” she asked.

“No,” I said glancing around. “This porch right here; in this spot next to you.”

Fast forward 20 years and now I sit on my own front porch. The one I shared with her is gone. I don’t “go home” any more. It’s weird really, when both your parents are gone and there’s that moment you realize that “home” isn’t someplace else. It’s the spot you create for your children where you are. You're the grown up, the center, the hearth. You have become home.

One of my must-haves when we built this house was a wraparound porch. I remember porches were always important from back when I visited my grandmother’s house in Bluefield, Virginia. She had one of those old porch couches on a slide. It was wide enough for about five of us to sit on. We could make it slide back and forth just by moving our legs and after about three back and forth movements it would invariably hit the house. That would happen once or twice before my grandmother would come out and chase us off the swing; but those first few moments of intense motion were absolutely exhilarating to a five year old visiting her southern cousins.

The boys and I have spent many a thunderstorm out on our front porch, wrapped in blankets and watching the lightning. We’d sit and rock and feel the wind whip around the corner of the house. Occasionally we’d lose power and of course that only increased the excitement. We’d count the time between the lightning and the sound of the thunder and decide whether the storm was coming or going. They’d be just on the edge of terror but being wrapped in a blanket; rocking and counting seemed to make it all a bit easier to bear. Even now that they are young adults we come out and sit in the rockers. We don’t sit as long and they’re not scared of the thunder anymore but it’s still fun. Sometimes we look at the stars or plug in silly porch blowup figures I have for the holidays. We rock while the air pump sounds off, the small light inside the blowup turns on and the holiday figure grows into focus.

Sitting on my front porch is a sure sign spring is in the air. Spring on the East Coast is unique and beautiful. The trees of the woods I live in, and always give up for dead about mid-January, start to wake up their newest leaves. The leaves are almost lime in color; small and young. It’s their season to reach toward the sun. The phlox blooms a bright pinkish purple and white cones stretch up from the laurel. I can’t wait to smell the azaleas and lilacs in the coolness of the mornings while I sit with a blanket and enjoy a cup of coffee.

This is home now. When my boys say “I’m going home” to their friends, this is where they’ll come. They’ll join me on the porch and look around the property they’ve trampled with their youth. We’ll talk about the times they explored, the knees they scraped, the storms we watched and the times the chairs knocked the house.

Perhaps as they head here to visit from their travels they will say to their friends, “I’m going home.”

And if I am very lucky they will add, “It’s my favorite place in the world.”

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I will do better...

I am disappointed in myself.

Recently I was up in Northern Virginia with my son. We went to have lunch at the Cheesecake Factory as a treat. I put money in the meter, we went inside and had a lovely lunch. After we were back in our car and heading home Ben said to me, “I’m sad we didn’t give that homeless man any money.”

“What man?” I asked.

“The man, who was there at the meter.”

“Oh,” I said, “I didn’t see him.”

But then it struck me. I HAD seen him. I had seen a man sitting on a pile of stuff but didn’t take the time to really look at him as a real someone; someone in need. I’m sure I realized he was homeless but I didn’t process it properly and consider that I could do something to lift his day.

I’m usually quite attuned to that sort of thing. Maybe it was because of the doctor’s appointment I’d had with my son, or because I’d scraped the car in the parking garage on the way out of the hospital, or because I have been so tired given all the running around or

.....really...WHO CARES WHY...I DIDN’T LOOK AT HIM and I didn’t SEE him.

But my son did.

I think that makes me feel worse in some ways. He saw a man who needed us and his mom didn’t do anything to help him.

I hope today that if I see someone in need I really do SEE him or her and don’t just think about myself.

Thank you, son, for opening my eyes and reminding me to look and to see and to realize it is not just about me.

Today, I will try to do better.

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Apples to Apples

Throwback post. This was when our third son was in 4th grade and playing on a football team his dad coached. We talked often to the boys about having a goal to accomplish each year. One they could set upon and achieve. This was in hopes of establishing healthy habits.

(Scene: In the truck on the way from one football field to another.)

Dad: “Did you eat the apple you brought?”
Son to dad, “Yup.”

Dad: “Okay, pass the core up to me and I’ll put it in the garbage bag up here.”
Son: “I can’t.”

Dad: “You can’t, why not?”
Son: “I ate it.”

Dad: “You ate it?”
Son: “Yup.”

Dad: “You ate the seeds?”
Son: “Yup.”

Dad: “You ate the inside pieces?”
Son: “Yup."

Dad: “You ate the little brown bottom and the stem?”
Son: “There wasn’t a stem but if there was I’d have eaten it.”

Dad: “Why?”
Son: “I try to eat one whole apple every year; been doing it since kindergarten.”

Dad: “So now you’re good for this year right?”
Son: “Yup.”

Goal setting? Probably not what I had in mind but perhaps this will lead to bigger and better things in the future.

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Fingerprints

My children have returned to school after their extended winter breaks. This week I went around cleaning their fingerprints off the walls.

There was one on the outside of the pantry – because one cannot just walk in; one must SWING one’s body in with a hand slapped on the outside holding you up.

...on the refrigerator door handles (both of them but at different heights) because when staring into the open side you must lovingly caress the other door handle with fingers still coated from your pantry visit five minutes before. (Note: this includes the freezer door when it is known there are chicken tenders inside.)

...on the light switches – but only the “on” side because the “off” side is rarely touched.

...on the small ceiling wall that hangs as you exit the kitchen and head into the hallway. It is the one I need a step stool to reach but the men can FINALLY smack it with ease. Now they go through the doorway each time raising their arms and lifting themselves on their toes so they can smack that piece of plaster and wood like it is the good luck totem at the entrance of a college stadium.

I’ll leave the ones on the ceiling. I’d have to get the ladder for those and I kind of like seeing them. Only three fingers but such a great personal accomplishment for kids who used to have to stand on a step stool to reach the bathroom sink. Glad the thrill comes so easily in a house full of teenagers and young men.

Finally I’ll clean the windows. The marks of fingers and noses have gone higher and higher each year. It is nice that my boys still come running to look out when my truck pulls up. Those window prints remind me I am loved. Even if it is for my take out bag of chicken or the boxes of New York Style pizza I’m transporting home.

I used to dread cleaning up after the guys. It. Was. So. Much. Work.

Now it’s a bit different. I’m older and wiser and they’re not around quite as much. I like the prints they leave.

I hope they leave new ones soon.

fingerprints

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Engineering for Kids

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In Fredericksburg, Engineering for Kids provides a suite of programs and events for kids aged 4-14. “Subjects range from Electronic Game Design to Aerospace Engineering, Robotics to earth-friendly Environmental and Marine Engineering. Engineering For Kids is devoted to one sole purpose: to inspire the next generation of engineers.” 

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