His wrinkled, leathery hands grasped the 75-year-old trophy gently. Memories of a humid summer day, blue water, and boys in swimming shorts lined in a row surge in.
Henry swam in the 2nd lane from the left. His friend, Jimmy, was in the lane next to him. Both swam like fish. They spent every waking moment of their summers swimming. None of the other swimmers were even in their league.
Who would win? It wasn't about the trophy. Henry had other first place trophies. It wasn't about beating his friend. Jimmy was a good guy; they had fun competing. He didn't want to annihilate Jimmy, just win.
It was something more. Something inside of Henry wanting to win, to be the best, to do better than he thought possible. He knew he had it inside of him.
With that last thought, the starting pistol went off. Henry dove into the blue.
I am grateful for . . .
1. My patient, loving husband, Steve, who despite my bouts of PMS and OCD he still sees that I'm at "bundle of opportunities."
2. My son, Joshua. I go to sleep every night thanking Heavenly Father for my little guy. He may think I'm not very cool, but I still remember when I changed his poopy diapers!
3. My son, Andrew. When he is happy, his joy is contagious and (I think) he enjoys having a brother and being part of a family, even if it means me as a step mom.
4. My family. The "zany" Hall Clan can't be topped for excitement as well as support. Love you guys!!! The Rhodes' and Terry's have welcomed me into their families unconditionally. Thanks for putting up with me!
5. My friends. From elementary school through high school to college and beyond, I am grateful for friends who loved and supported me through the ups & downs of life. Thank you!!! I hope I've given you as much as you've given me.
6. My testimony. I always took my faith for granted. I never realized how priceless a testimony and belief in God was until someone tried to destroy it. Talk about an eye opener! Suddenly the "things" of life (money, success, a big house) meant nothing to me; my belief in God and in Jesus Christ were most important.
I love music. My mom really deserves all of the credit for my love of music. When I was growing up she rarely watched TV, but played the radio or put stacks of 33 records on the old family stereo. Her favs were Elvis, Kenny Rogers, Simon & Garfunkel, and Englebert Humperdink, to name a few. As a result, I enjoy a wide range of music; from Elvis to country music to classic rock to 80's bands.
As I've rocked through life, I've been able to see some truly amazing bands and performers like . . . U2 (twice), Van Halen (w/Sammy Hagar), Tears for Fears, OMD, Bryan Adams, Thompson Twins, The Cranberries, Air Supply, Howard Jones, Kenny Loggins, Collin Raye (twice), Garth Brooks (was a dream come true), Trisha Yearwood, Alan Jackson, Keith Urban (one of the best concerts ever!), Tim & Faith, Martina McBride, Billy Currington, Trace Adkins, Clint Black, Kenny Chesney (twice), Rascal Flatts, Keith Anderson, Vince Gill, Duran Duran, Billy Idol, and Depeche Mode, just to name a few.
My hubby and I were talking tonight about our Bucket Lists of bands and performers we still want to see. Here's my list:
Def Leppard (I so regret not seeing them in high school!)
Journey (W/Steve Perry but I know it will probably NEVER happen.)
Pat Benatar (Wish I could sing like her!)
Kool & The Gang
Huey Lewis & the News
Kenny Rogers (He comes to Vegas all of the time. I can't believe I haven't gone to see him!)
ABBA (They don't sing together anymore, do they?)
I sincerely hope all of the above performers are still alive and still singing. (I try to keep up on the latest deaths in music, but sometimes I miss one.) Wonder which one I'll cross off my list next?
The following is one of two writing prompts given to all of the students at my middle school today. It was practice for the writing proficiency. I told them it was going to be a grade. (Not lying! For MY students it WILL be a grade.)
I take all proficiency and state standardized tests along with my students. Call me crazy, but I feel like it keeps me young (plus I see what the test or writing prompt is from THEIR point of view.) After reading my essay, YOU get a chance to be a teacher for a day and give me a grade. Tell me what you think!
Topic A: Every day each of us is presented with opportunities to do what is right. Tell about one of the opportunities that you have had to do the right thing. Explain what you did or did not do, what happened, and what you learned from the experiences.
Here's my response:
When I was a junior in high school I had the chance to do what is right, but I’m ashamed to say I didn’t.
My high school, Chaparral, was playing a night football game against our rivals, Valley High School. My friends and I drove in my car to Valley for the game. While in the school parking lot walking towards the bleachers, we noticed a purse on the roof of a car. I walked over to it and looked around. In the distance I could see a group of kids walking into the game.
I went to call out to them, but my friend D---- said to wait because it might have money in it. I gave in to peer pressure and didn't call to the group walking in. One of my friends grabbed the purse and we all ran back to my car.
As we left the parking lot the owner of the purse and her friends must have seen us because suddenly a car peeled out and pulled up behind mine. It honked, brighted its lights, and tried to catch up with us. My friends screamed and yelled for me to gun it.
Instead of tossing the purse out of the window, we drove like maniacs up an down the residential streets around Valley. We finally came to a stop when they ran us off of the road up onto the sidewalk, and I hit three garbage cans, narrowly missing a street light.
Two scary-looking guys jumped out of their car, pounded on my window and yelled and cursed at us. Terrified, I rolled down my window a little and pushed the purse out. While they were going through the purse to see if everything was there (there was only make-up, a house key, and her ID) I backed up out of the garbage cans and we left.
I regret not making a better choice that night. I should have called out to the owner of the purse instead of giving in to my friend. We were lucky we didn't wreck or the guys didn't hurt us. This incident has haunted me for more than twenty-three years and taught me that regardless of what my friends say, I need to do what is right.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Now YOU be the teacher. Did I answer the prompt correctly? Was my essay clear and well-organized? Was the idea a correct response to the questions asked? Was my punctuation, grammar (I'm bad at keeping my verb tenses straight), and spelling correct? How was my writer's voice?
Hope you enjoy being teacher for the day. Now I get to grade 240 student essays! Joy.
I don't know about you guys, but I love Halloween candy. Just the smell of it in my son's trick-or-treat bag makes my mouth water and brings back delightful memories. Dressing up, going out with my parents in the crisp fall air to trick-or-treat, carving pumpkins, and eating caramel apples all remind me of the joy I find in the Halloween holiday.
When I was growing up, my parents let us eat as much of our candy as we wanted (after taking out a handful of their favorites) starting Halloween night. We kept our candy in our plastic pumpkins or pillow cases (it was the 70's) and delighted in the feast.
As a result it would be a guaranteed barf fest in the Hall House each and every year. We had no self-control when it came to candy, well, except for 2 of my siblings. A and T (using abbreviations so that they can maintain some dignity) would SAVE their candy. They would hoard it, eating 1 piece a day and stretch it out for months.
After the initial candy trading, gorging, and barfing was over for me and my other greedy sibs, A and T would offer us some of their candy. The problem was they charged us! I always thought that was an awful, selfish thing to do. I would have shared any of my candy with my siblings, if I'd had any left to share. I vowed never to have a child who would hoard candy. I would teach him otherwise.
Fast-forward 30 years . . .
My son, Joshua, was NOT raised with candy as an incentive to do chores, go potty in the toilet, or any other thing my parents did to get us to finish something we didn't want to do. (I foolishly thought I knew better than my parents.) No, I was going to have a child who would enjoy candy, neither gorge it down and barf, nor sell it to me piece by piece, laughing all the way to the bank.
My plan backfired. My darling, sweet, usually unselfish son Josh was able to attend 2 trunk-or-treats this year. After the first trunk-or-treat, he showed us his stash of candy. I have to admit, it was pretty impressive. When my hubby and I asked for a piece, he refused. We were shocked. I thought maybe he was hoarding it to keep to himself and gorge on later. Nope. (We did get him to share 1 piece with Steve later.)
After the second trunk-or-treat, I had to beg him for a piece of candy. My hubby threatened to sneak in while he was asleep and steal some. Josh hid it. He also announced he had 310 pieces of candy. His stepbrother (who had spent Halloween elsewhere) had nowhere near that much candy. Did Josh share? Nope.
He is slowly eating 1 piece a day and wants to see how long he can make it last. Where did he learn this? Is candy gorging or hoarding genetic? I'm beginning to think it is. Josh sure didn't inherit the gorging from me. Come to think of it, he's never gorged and barfed up his Halloween candy ever. He's always made it last as long as he could. This morning, when I brought up his Halloween candy, he asked me how much money I had. I think I just realized the truth here. When it comes to Halloween candy, he was born to the wrong Hall.
Regardless of how this election turns out, I voted. I am grateful for the opportunity to vote. Scary to think there are countries in the world where women cannot vote. (They are Bhutan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, by the way. There are others where NO ONE votes and the Vatican where only men vote due to the religious reasons.)
I've been thinking this last week about my beliefs and my political leanings. Because of my conservative Republican views I have lost friends and have been dumped from Facebook friends' lists, had a Bush (2004) sign burned in my yard, my cars egged, been yelled at, flipped off, and fists shaken at me because of my bumper stickers. Why? Why has there been so much anger and hatred thrown at me because of my beliefs?
Do they think due to the pressure I'll suddenly change my mind and become liberal? Really? The more grief I get the more I think that "the road less traveled" is the way to go. Do I really want my beliefs in line with the mainstream media and Hollywood?
I've never dropped a friend because of their political point of view. I try (really hard) to understand where my liberal friends are coming from and politely listen to their opinions. I've never dumped anyone from Facebook based on their political rants/view points. (Trust me, I've considered it, but have refrained.)
I've never burned a political sign in someone's yard, ever. I can't imagine what kind of anger or hatred would provoke someone to do so. I have never egged cars with pro-Democrat/liberal stickers on them. (That seems so childish to me, not to mention desperate.)
I don't yell at, flip off, or shake my fists at those who are liberal minded and shout it out with stickers on their cars. Why would I?
Here's a hint why I wouldn't. It's America folks. We're ALLOWED to have opposing points of view and still live in the same country. If someone burns my signs or eggs my cars, they take away a tiny piece of my freedom of speech. Taking away another person's freedom in this country is unconstitutional. It's WRONG.