Archive for the 'Kids' Category

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.

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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!

As Gomer Pyle would say,

“Soo-PRAZZ, soo-PRAZZ, soo-PRAZZ!”

Katie moved from Charlottesville to her new (actually quite old) cottage in another town on Tuesday, November 1. I am quite certain she moved that day because once she was somewhat settled in and partially unpacked on Tuesday night, she sent me a panoramic photo of the interior of her new house. So very fun! I also knew she’d have several days off before starting her new job at Montpelier the next Monday, and she had told me she’d be using that time to shop for furniture, get things set up, and maybe take in a national park or two.

Wednesday night, I got home from church about 8:45. I walked into the dining room, and Katie was standing there!!! Looking at me and smiling. Or. . . was it just someone who looked a lot like Katie? I was so totally stunned!  How could she be here? She was in Virginia! Was she even real?!? And how on earth had she gotten here?!? I couldn’t believe it! I just stood there and cried.

She had driven 15 hours that day, having left home at the unheard-of hour of 6:00 AM. She drove all that way just to surprise us and spend three days with us. WOW!

We had so much fun together. On Thursday, she and I went exploring and took a delightful, all downhill walk on Reno Springs Road and Reno Hollow Road. We were so far out in the boonies that we covered parts of three counties, and in so doing found a deserted sheep ranch, a gorgeous yard with a suspension bridge out front, and a series of mystery pipes. Then we drove all over the place to figure out exactly where we had been and how the roads connected. (Robertses love to explore off the beaten path.)

That night, Andrew’s Team Extreme volleyball team won their match for us, and on Friday Katie and I hit EIGHT thrift stores in Branson, picking up various items for her house, after which she treated me to lunch at Wendy’s. It was a glorious time. That weekend we had missionary guests from the Philippines plus a Take the Challenge fundraising dinner at the home of one of our ministry board members. Katie was a great help to Scott in preparing various technical things for his presentation at the dinner (which was a super success). She was able to spend most of Saturday gallivanting about Springfield with Josiah, and we even managed to play one game of Beans and two games of Dominion, so I think it’s fair to say we maximized her three days with us. She drove back to Virginia on Sunday, thankful that the time change was in her favor.

It was great to have Katie home for a surprise visit, and although everyone who knows me well knows that I hate surprises, I loved this one! It was the best surprise I’ve ever experienced!

 

Labor Day

It’s supposed to be a day off for workers. At least that’s what I think it’s supposed to be. I guess I should have done some research before starting this post. But for the gainfully employed member of our resident family, it’s been not only a full day of work (9:50 AM to something beyond 7:30 PM), but the final day of work at his current job.

At 6:30 PM today, White Water closes for the season. Overall, it’s been a great experience for Andrew. He did all the legwork to get the job totally on his own. Entirely on his own initiative, he applied, was interviewed, attended multiple orientation(s), and training(s), and has been diligent to faithfully discharge his responsibilities as a a White Water Lifeguard 2 (qualified to guard the wave pool) for lo, these past three-plus months.

He’s made new friends, gotten a great tan, and learned quite a bit about customers (“guests”), bosses, co-workers, expectations, audits, scheduling, and the value of a good work ethic – not to mention the problems caused when some people are lacking in that department. He also knows what to do if a person is drowning, choking, having a seizure or heart attack, experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke, or has sustained a head trauma or broken bone. I feel safe with Andrew around!

After spending the summer working 40 hours a week at White Water, plus working an average of 10 hours a week cleaning our vacation rental home, plus working 2 hours a week cleaning the church building, I think Andrew has gained a substantial amount of work experience in the past few months, all of which will stand him in good stead as a young man.

He told me he’ll be both glad and sad when his White Water shift is over today, but he says he wants to do it again next summer.

I’m so proud of that guy!

 

Guess who I just saw?!?

ANDREW!!!

This is a rare occurrence.

Monday he came home for a while after school before going to volleyball at 6:00 PM.

Tuesday he went straight from school to the Rendezvous for cleaning. He then met us at the Branson High School open house, which he only attended because we required him to.

Wednesday he went straight from school to continue cleaning the Rendezvous to youth group at 7:00 PM.

Thursday he went straight from school to finish cleaning the Rendezvous to volleyball at 6:30 PM.

Friday he went straight from school to cleaning the church to a Branson High football game.

Saturday he worked White Water 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM, then came home long enough to clean his bathroom (which hadn’t been cleaned since – ahem – mid-July!) and eat supper before going to a youth group movie night at 8:00 PM.

And today he worked white Water 9:40 AM to 6:30 PM and went straight to a Bible study led by a couple with whom he plays volleyball. He asked me to make mac for him, which I did, and he came home at 9:30 PM.

The guy who walked in the door did look vaguely familiar, albeit darker (compliments of life guarding all summer). I was pretty sure I had seen him somewhere before.

So many, many wonderful things

I haven’t blogged in way too long, and there are, as usual many blog posts in my head that have never gotten written, and probably never will be. This is sad.

However, the reason no blogging has occurred recently is that we have had many other wonderful things going on, the most momentous of which was Matthias and Jessica’s MARRIAGE on August 6!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here are some bullet points of my own unforgettables, so that if I or someone else ever reads this in the years to come, these events from mid-July to late August, 2016 will be remembered.

~ Jessica arrived on July 14, and there was much rejoicing! Scott, Josiah, Andrew, and I were at the airport to meet her, and hugging, smiles, and tears were involved.

~ Our house was appraised. This in order to facilitate our receipt of a home equity line of credit, and although Scott was somewhat disappointed at the appraisal amount, I was pretty impressed that it was 60% higher than what we had paid for it 20 years ago.

~ We registered Andrew for school. He’s attending Branson High School for 11th grade. The building is massive, and his class has 370 other juniors – as opposed to six other sophomores at TCA last year.

~ Many meetings, appointments, hang-outs, and wedding planning discussions occurred. The days leading up to Jessica’s wedding were full;  on our family wall calendar, one day in late July had 10 scheduled events.

~ Jessica preached at Lone Star Church (her wedding ceremony venue) on July 24. The small building was packed, and the congregation gave her an amazingly enormous offering!

~ Matthias arrived from Hong Kong! He greeted me with a hug and called me “Mom.” I was smitten. What a wonderful husband God has given Jessica. . . and we now get the blessing of a third son – with someone else having done all the parenting work for us.  = )

~ We camped at Buffalo Point for two nights. For old time’s sake, you know. Katie and Josiah were not with us (sadness), but a good time was had by all. Matthias likes kielbasa.

~ We discovered that mermaids cannot sit down in wedding dresses; thankfully a functional workaround for our local mermaid was developed.

~ Jessica made a truly insane amount of Chex Mix and an equally crazy number of Buffalo Chips. For thems as cares, the full reception menu was Meat (ham, summer sausage, smoked salmon) and  Cheese (cheddar, co-jack, Swiss) on Crackers (Club Multi-Grain, Flip Sides), Veggie Trays with Dips, Fruit Salad (cantaloupe and peaches from McKenna’s, green grapes, strawberries), Chex Mix, Cheesecake (only for the bride and groom), Cookies of Many Types for everyone else, lemonade, sweet tea (which Pastor Barb forgot to make!), and water.

~ People arrived from absolutely all over to celebrate and to help in many ways. Here are some of them.

Matt and Nikki from Pennsylvania

Grandma R, Kristy, Milt, Becky, Ian, Rachelle, Amanda, and Isabel from North Carolina

Josiah from Missouri

Lee from Hong Kong

Susie and Jon from Florida

Bettina from Switzerland

Jorge and Kristi from Kansas

Hannah from California

Kenny, Jennifer, Letitia, Natalie, and Shannon from Australia

Kevin, Elsa, and John from Texas

Grandma and Grandpa V from Arkansas

Katie from Virginia

~ Ah, Katie. Katie was the detail person. With the click of a mouse, she could tell you what time Lee would arrive, who was picking him up, and where he would sleep; the estimated cost of summer sausage to feed 100; who would do Jessica’s hair and makeup at 5:30 AM; call times for each round of pre-wedding pictures; and at any point in time, what still had to be done and by whom to make Matthias and Jessica’s entire wedding experience as wonderful as possible. Her spreadsheets were truly works of art, and we (I!) simply couldn’t have done this wedding without her calm expertise. And I won’t go into any detail about a certain bridesmaid dress. . .  = )

– The 3:00 PM rehearsal in a church with no AC was quite. . . well, warm, but we did it, and the cookout rehearsal dinner was fun. Matthias is exceedingly fond of cornhole, but even fonder of Jessica.

– The morning of the wedding was cloudy (perfect for pictures!) and significantly cooler than the 90+ degree temperatures we’d been having. The forecast rain did not occur; only a few light sprinkles as pictures were being completed.

– The 10 AM wedding ceremony was glorious in every way. Jessica was exquisitely lovely, and Matthias’ was incredibly handsome (kudos to Andrew on M’s hair), the worship was powerful, Pastor Barb said just the right things, their vows were perfect (I think nearly everyone cried happy tears along with the bride and groom!), and the married couple exited with joy to SCC’s “The Great Adventure.” It could not have been better.

– The reception was relaxed and delicious. Thank you, LaShell, Cheryl, and our exceptionally fine crew of church helpers.

– The Roberts and Varner contingents had a family cookout after the young marrieds departed, but I think all who were in attendance would agree that four hours is simply an insufficient amount of time to re-connect meaningfully with 19 other members of one’s extended family.

– Young bears visited the honeymoon cabin. . . twice! I’m sure Jess and Matthias will remember that for a while.  = )

I also want to note here some of the many amazing ways God provided for Matthias, Jessica, and our family in connection with this wedding. Scott’s job had ended in April, and since he is focusing on missions work, we have had no regular income since then. Jessica and Matthias paid many of the wedding expense themselves, other friends and family contributed time, money, expertise and willingness, and Scott and I covered the rest of it. That said with great appreciation, please REJOICE with us in the following:

– There was no charge for our use of Lone Star Church for the wedding ceremony. And the pastor invited Jessica to minister there, and the church gave her a HUGE offering.

– There was no charge for using our home church for the reception.

– The photographer donated her services as a wedding gift.

– Nikki and Bettina, with Matt, Lee, and others, did all the decorating, set-up, tear-down, and clean-up;at no cost to us.

– LaShell coordinated the food service for the reception and let us use lots of her “stuff” for serving and decorating, all at no charge.

– My pastor wanted to help me personally. She came to our house two days before the wedding, did a week’s worth of ironing for me, and cleaned two truly scuzzy bathrooms! She is always an enormous blessing.

– Jessica was absolutely gorgeous in her wedding dress. She had ordered it online in Hong Kong, and it cost. . . are you ready? . . .  $30. Yes, you read that correctly, thirty U.S. dollars!!!

Of course, it helped that Jessica’s priorities for her wedding were that it be fun, delicious, and stress-free. She didn’t want or care about elaborate clothing, decorations, flowers, music, or other wedding-y things, and that helped keep the cost manageable, but I was absolutely thrilled when she texted me while they were honeymooning to say that her wedding had been “perfect, just the way I wanted it.”

That made me smile and, as any good mother of the bride, cry, but my tears were tears of joy!

It’s not supposed to be this hard

Josiah moved out yesterday. I knew it was coming. His rental agreement with us was through April, and he didn’t ask to extend it. It’s best for him and for us that he live on his own, so it’s a good thing, but it was not easy to load him up with groceries and household stuff and haul cords and monitors out of his room and look at him and love him and miss him before he even left.

I’m not sure what led into it, but he spent quite a while on my computer looking at aerial shots of various parts of Niger on google earth and showing me where he’d been and who lived where. It was neat to see. Ever the philosopher, he also talked about the importance of remembering what we’ve been through and who we are. How it’s good to look back even at difficult and painful experiences; to not lose hold of what we’ve gained. I agree.

It was nearly 9:00 PM when he drove away.

And I cried.

But only for three minutes, because just then Andrew walked in with a dental injury that needed to be attended to, so crying had to be postponed.

Then today, I decided to brave his room. I just needed to get it over with. To Josiah’s credit, he really had emptied it. All that was left was Scott’s desk, the trunk that holds our photo albums, a cheap flimsy dresser that desperately needs to be put out by the road while modeling a FREE sign, and a little TV stand-type thing on wheels. He took his bed and bedding. Said it’s really comfortable.

I loosened the screens and brushed out the thousands of dead ladybugs. I dusted the few pieces of furniture. I used a whisk broom to get all the crud (and more thousands of dead ladybugs) out from along the baseboards and then I vacuumed. The vacuuming was hard because as I worked my way around the room, I saw all kind of things: the brown crayon writing on the baseboard from when he was a little kid, the AIM paper plates on the wall, the picture of him at the Great Wall – so young, so fresh, so innocent, so happy; I remember those days. The days before his heart hurt so much and before everything started changing. Tears. His Loveland trail map. The cross with the nails. More tears. And the “Resolution” document. The one he and Scott and Dave Brown signed. Rivers of tears. I just couldn’t leave it hanging there to mock me. It hurt way too much, so I took it down and put it in the trunk with our photo albums. Maybe that will be my hope chest.

I cried awfully hard. Maybe sobbed is the word.

I went to my desk and decided to do something productive. I wrote a Niger update that I think was pretty good. It helped. I checked with some other folks to see how they’re doing. That helped. I did a bit of research on some possible source material for a project I’m working on. It helped some.

Later in the afternoon I was pretty OK, except that I had to keep tilting my head up to see my screen clearly. I finally figured out that my glasses were dirty. When I took them off, I saw the problem clearly: they were splattered with dried tears.

Today it’s really hard for me to see the Llama’s stall, all clean and empty, but I know these words ring true: “Take courage, O, my heart! He’s sure to come back soon because he forgot to take his panini press!!!”