Archive for the 'Family' Category

Hard-working man

During the final week of Andrew’s Christmas break, we had him do quite a lot of work around our “homestead.” It was not work he chose to do, but I was so proud of his diligence to get it all done – well and without uttering one word of complaint. At least in my presence, there were no eye rolls, no deep sighs, and no negative comments.

Now that he’s back at school, everywhere I look, inside and out, I see the results of his labor, and I think of him and smile – and sometimes cry a little. (It’s what moms do.)

We just gave him this list and told him it all needed to be done before he left for school the next week. How and when he did it was his business.

First, he thoroughly scrubbed down the outside of the grill.

Then he took down the Morning Glory vines from the mailbox and disentangled them from the green plastic mesh they climb on. That’s a much-hated task that I usually do in November or December but never got around to this year.

He also cleaned out the whole mailbox flower bed,

and the big bed around the dogwood tree. The big bed has some perennials that will benefit from a covering of mulch and leaf litter over the winter, so I asked him to just clear out the big stuff and leave me a layer of ground cover.

Next he worked with his friend, Zach, to clean out the left garage.

And when I say “clean out,” I really do mean “clean out!”

Andrew emptied out the tomato barrels,

and dumped and spread their dirt in the back bed. Ever since we relocated the iris to the big front bed many years ago, this back one has never really been a “flower” bed, but now it has potential.

He power-washed the propane tank, which had been basically brown with some white showing through. Look at it now!

And that was just the beginning of the power-washing. He power-washed the smokehouse. It was a test; we wanted to be sure the paint would stay on before he tackled more important things – like the house.

First he power-washed the back of the house,

and the area around the back door.

Then the front steps,

the front of the house on the porch,

and even the porch railing!

Everything is so bright and clean. = )

Inside, Andrew de-cobwebbed the whole house, although I don’t have photographic proof of that.

And then there was the cellar. Ah, the cellar. For 22 years, we’ve collected more and more junk down there, especially to the right and up on the ledge. I went down there with him and told him I only wanted to keep three specific things: the milk crates, the stacking plastic cubbies, and a set of canning jars. Scott added miscellaneous paint and some other things to the list, and just look at the right side now!

I didn’t even ask Andrew to deal with the ledge, but I guess he was on a roll, and here’s how it turned out, clean as a whistle!

Andrew hauled two trailer-loads of junk to the dump.

He also cleaned all the first floor windows inside and out. Now I can look out back while I’m doing dishes, and my view of the bird feeder is crystal clear.  = )

Andrew, thank you so much for all your hard work!!! I really appreciate the many messy chores you did and your cheerful attitude while doing them. The results are wonderful, and so are you!  = )

 

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Jeopardy question: What is “just giddy?”

Answer: The best way to describe me last night at about 10:10, standing out on the driveway, shivering, stepping back and forth, hoodie hood up, as Scott and I evaluated the sound of every eastbound vehicle. Based on a recent phone call in which I heard “approaching A and BB” (but I must’ve told Scott “at A and BB”), I had estimated 10:15 PM, he had estimated 10:13 PM, and we’re nothing if not competitive about such very important matters.

“Do you think that’s them? Well, probably not. Her new car is heavier than Lil’ Blue, but that sounds more like… ”

It was a truck.

“Sure is nippy out here.”

“Yeah, but this is what I do! I’m a mom… Hey, maybe…?”

“Naw. Going too fast.”

“And THAT can’t be them…!”

It wasn’t.

“How long’s it take from A and BB anyway? It’s 10:12, so any minute now… ”

And then, finally (at 10:15, consider smiley face inserted), the lowering pitch of a car slowing down, headlights reflecting off the pavilion across the highway, and in they spun, grinding gravel! (Why does the arrival of kids coming home always make me cry? Especially when I’m so thrilled to see them?!?) And Josiah grinning, and big hugs, and Katie stepping out of the car with a smile, having driven non-stop for 15 hours and 35 minutes, and more hugs, and “Welcome HOME!”

I was just giddy.

I have 29 years to go…

… until I do like my parents and celebrate OUR 60th anniversary! We had a special celebration with them in their home in North Little Rock last weekend, and it was a wonderful blessing to see so many of their friends (many who live half an hour away in Cabot where they attend church) turn out in 50-degree weather and pouring down rain to honor them and their marriage. They all said such wonderful and true things about Mom and Dad, and I was once again so very proud to be their daughter.

Event planning was not included in my natural skill set, but since I am becoming “mature” enough to recognize many of my own shortcomings, I humbled myself and, at Scott’s urging, asked for help. Scott and I did most of the planning, but Dad put together a wonderful slide show of their many years together, our girls sent video greetings, and several of our friends here and several of their friends there used their various talents to provide decorations, recipes, gifts, and photography. Scott put together a fun trivia quiz with 18 multiple choice questions about my folks, and then we gave a prize to the guest with the most correct answers (11). After all, how many people’s moms have been taking daily insulin injections for 82 years? And how many people’s dads even own an accordion – much less can play it?!?

I’ll just say that for two (at the time) unbelieving, non-dancing college students (a freshman and a sophomore) to meet on a blind date to the Junior Prom, marry, raise a family, and become Christians – in that order – and then still be deeply in love and very happily married SIXTY years later; well, that just has to be a God thing. And I and our family are some of the beneficiaries. What an awesome heritage we have! Thank you, God, and Congratulations, Mom and Dad!

Three in three

That would be final shifts at three different jobs on three consecutive days.

Today Andrew did his final Rendezvous cleaning, a quick turn that he finished at 2:00 PM. He’s been cleaning that house for six and-a-half years, since he was 12, and today an era has ended. I think he told Scott he might be willing to stay on an emergency-only cleaners list, but he’s no longer a regular RVR employee.

Tomorrow he will clean the Life Christian Center church building for the last time. I think he’s been doing that job weekly for about four years. He told me today that Pastor Barb had gotten someone else to do it. I don’t know who that is, but I do know that while Andrew’s been thankful to have that steady income each week, he’s also glad to be free from that responsibility as he starts college next week.

The day after tomorrow will be his final shift of the season as a lifeguard and ATL (Assistant to Lead) at White Water. He’s worked there for the past three summers, making “a lot” of money the summer after his sophomore year, “an amazingly huge amount” of money the summer after his junior year, and “some” money this summer after graduation; the reduction being result of his grand summer of travel. Andrew really wanted to go places and have fun this summer, and he’s been to:

~  Waxhaw, NC with Scott and me to see his grandma, aunts, uncle, and cousins (5 days traveling)

~ The Barn at Maryville, MO with his Chamber Singers friends (4 days traveling)

~ Yellowstone National Park, camping with Katie, Jessica and Matthias, Josiah, Scott, and me (12 days traveling)

~ Faith Ministries Youth Camp at Bear Trap Ranch in Colorado (8 days traveling)

~ Kansas City with his friends (2 days traveling)

In addition to those trips, Andrew’s also had a lot of fun closer to home, what with lots of hanging out with friends, bowling, a couple kayak trips, and going to a St. Louis Cardinals game with Jess and Matthias. And oh yeah, he’s also had a fourth job this summer: singing and serving ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. I’m pretty sure he’s worked his final shift there, because it’s Thursday now, and following a cookout here on Sunday with his friends and a number of their moms, he’ll be moving into his dorm at MSU on Monday.

I’m really proud of that man. It’s not just anybody who can wrap up three jobs in three days, but Andrew’s definitely not just anybody. He’s my son.  = )

 

“O, the infinite value…”

Of a skilled Research Consultant.

A mere 20 minutes after I posted “Sunset in Somerset” in which I bemoaned our failure to locate Scott’s dad’s grave marker in Somerset, Kentucky, Katie sent me this link, which please do click. As you can see, the upright gravestone we so diligently sought does indeed exist (Whew!), and there’s a good reason why we never found it: We were scouring cemeteries in the city of Somerset in south central Kentucky, but Scott’s father’s U.S. headstone is not and never was in Somerset at all; it’s in Warsaw, a city on the Ohio River some two and-a-half hours (146 miles) north of Somerset!

I feel simultaneously both somewhat dumb (or at least ignorant) and very, VERY relieved.

To Katie I can truly say, “Yes, good has been done here. Thank you!”

We’ve got an ATL!

What exactly, you may ask, does ATL stand for? And is it something we want to have? The short answers would be, respectively, “I don’t know,” and “Yes, absolutely.”

Andrew, who started last year as a Life Guard One (LG1) at White Water and has since been raised to Life Guard Two (LG2), recently applied to be an ATL. It’s a step above LG2 and a step below Lead, and it involves some level of oversight of other guards, several more responsibilities, and a pay raise. All good things. Details I don’t yet know include:

  • the particulars of other guard oversight (although I know ATL’s help train guards, make sure guards are doing their jobs properly, and confront/correct/instruct them when they’re not)
  • an ATL’s specific additional responsibilities (although I know they clear the pools when needed – like in a rescue situation or when there’s lightning, and they are the ones who clean up “spills” – like when a guest poops or pukes in a pool)
  • pay rates for LG1’s, LG2’s, or ATL’s

I do know that ATL’s serve as assistant managers to the “Leads,” so I’m guessing that ATL might stand for something like “Assistant to Lead” or “Always Too Lucid” or “Able To Laugh.” I also know that Andrew felt that his interview went “pretty well,” and he was quite pleased to have gotten the job. Today was his first shift as an ATL,and he was scheduled to work 10:20 AM to 10:30 PM. I suspect he will sleep pretty well tonight.

Two saves, one assist

No, these are not baseball statistics. They are SON statistics!

This is Andrew’s second summer working as a lifeguard at White Water, our local water theme park. All the guards receive extensive initial training (which they pay for) and then weekly on-going training that includes practice in rescuing people and dealing with all kinds of emergencies. Last year, Andrew worked all summer without having to personally handle any crisis situations.

One month into this summer, it’s been a different story.

First of all, he got the highest possible grade on his Ellis audit. Ellis is the organization that trains and certifies the White Water lifeguards, and they show up occasionally (incognito) and audit a guard. That is, they watch him carefully to see how he’s doing his job, and sometimes they do or create some situation to see how the guard responds. Generally, guards don’t know who is being audited; they only find out after the fact when they are told by their supervisor what grade they got.

Andrew is certified as an LG2 (he began his lifeguarding “career” as an LG1 last summer), which means he can work the wave pool in addition to all the other rides and slides. The wave pool is huge and six feet deep at one end. It’s the setting in which more serious incidents are more likely to occur, so some additional training and experience is required for those guards. I think there are four to six guards on the wave pool at a time.

One day a few weeks ago, Andrew was working the wave pool, when a male guest hollered at him, “This lady’s having a seizure!” Andrew immediately stopped the wave machine and jumped in. The woman was quite large (350+ pounds), on an inner tube, and completely unconscious. Andrew got her to the side of the pool, and then it took some six guards and/or guests working together to get her out of the pool and onto a backboard. An ambulance was called, and she was beginning to come around by the time the EMTs arrived.

Andrew was taken into the office and told he could go home, but he didn’t want to. The management questioned him to make sure he was OK emotionally and able to continue doing his job, and he was fine. But I will say that when he got home that night and shared what had happened, he was a pretty somber fellow. I think the fragility of life really hit him.

Then just a day or two later, he was not working and went to White Water as a guest to hang out with friends. As he was walking by the wave pool, there was an emergency. A female guard had jumped in to save a kid who was drowning. She had followed protocol;  first turning off the wave machine and notifying the office of the emergency, which should have brought immediate assistance. She had jumped in and – alone – gotten him out of the pool. Now she was working on the kid alone, performing CPR with a crowd of guests around, but STILL no help had arrived, and Andrew was appalled. He stepped up, took charge, ordered the crowd to back away and give them space, and maintained control of the situation till more help arrived. He was obviously not in uniform, and when a belligerent guest asked him who he thought he was, Andrew said (very firmly), “An off-duty guard. Get over it.” The guest dropped his ‘tude, the boy recovered, and management commended Andrew for his stepping in to assist as he did.

White Water guards wear lanyards with their whistles on them, and when they save someone in some way, they are issued a bead to display on their lanyard. Andrew received a bead for his rescue of the woman who had the seizure.

A couple weeks ago, he was again on stand at the wave pool in the afternoon. He’d been treated rudely by some guests, and he was pretty fed up with the antics of a group of young people who obviously couldn’t swim and were clowning around, pretending that they were drowning and hollering at him. I’m sure it’s difficult to stay calm when you’re being provoked like that, you can’t retaliate, and you have to discern who is and who isn’t really in danger. The guards at the wave pool have to scan their assigned area every ten seconds, and on one of Andrew’s scans, he saw a young lady (who clearly couldn’t swim) fall out of her tube and begin to go down. It was like the boy who cried wolf. The guy with her was trying to save her, but he was actually drowning both of them, so Andrew and another guard, Haley, both jumped in and did a two-man rescue. Both guests were OK.

Andrew later asked his head boss about a bead for that “save,” and John told him he’d take care of it “tonight.” Afterwards, Andrew felt bad about having asked about it, and he texted John. Here’s a copy of their conversation:

A: Hey John, I’m sorry about asking for the bead so soon after everything happened. That was selfish of me. If you choose not to give me one, I understand.

J: Ha! It wasn’t selfish at all. Well deserved my friend. The only reason I said “tonight” was because I figured you’d jump at the chance to go home. I’m super proud of you. You have handled yourself so incredibly well in some very pressure-filled situations. You’ll get it tomorrow if you’re here.  = )

A: Okay, haha. Thank you! I just didn’t want you thinking that a bead was my main motivation for saving someone.  = {

J: Andrew… You’re one of my favorites and one of the best and most exceptional kids I know. You’re an incredible lifeguard, but you’re a better young man. I know beads don’t motivate you to save people. Maybe free food, but not beads.  = )

A: I’m not going to say that I cried, but I came pretty close [referring to when he read John’s comment previous comment]. That means a whole heck of a lot to me and I appreciate you and everything you do for us lifeguards probably more than you’ll ever know. Thanks for making me look forward to coming into work every day.  = )

Wow! How’s that for an atta-boy?!? I’m so proud of our exceptional, incredible son that if I were wearing a dress shirt, my buttons would pop!


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