Sporting Event? Yes, Please!

Sporting event? Yes, please!

A friend texted me last night, “Crazy invite–but I’m asking!” After that, she proceeded to invite me to join her when she goes to an upcoming high school basketball game.

I don’t know why she thought it was a crazy invitation. I guess for lots of people it would be, but anyone who knows me knows I love being a spectator at most sporting events. Give me a basketball game, soccer game, lacrosse game, baseball game, football game, hockey game, volleyball game, rodeo, tennis match, polo…any kind of sporting event, and I’m game! Pun intended. I love the spirit of competition. I love seeing people do things I can’t do. I simply love sports.

Of course, I was quick to respond, “I will go!” So tonight, we are going to a high school basketball game. Apparently, she has intended to see a friend’s son play for years, but has never made it to a game, and he will soon be graduating. He will soon be playing his last high school basketball game. We are going, and I’m excited about it!

Our daughter graduated from high school last year, so I haven’t had much reason or opportunity to attend high school sporting events since she left for college in August. As much as I love going, I have only been to one football game, a girls volleyball game, and a few soccer games. I’m excited.

All this is my long way of reminding my friends that I’m always up for sporting events…at any level of almost any sport. If any of my friends need someone to go with them, I’m their girl! Just call or text, and I’m there!

My parents were sports fanatics. I remember being in the car with them as a child or young teenager, and they would see a baseball game or track meet happening at the very moment we were driving past. They didn’t want to skip it. We had to go. And that was OK, because it was almost always fun. We attended or participated in almost every sporting event for my high school teams, and in college, I went to lots of things too: football games, basketball games, and baseball games. After college, I was known to attend various baseball games, football games, and track and field competitions all over the country…just for fun.

Some people love concerts. I like concerts, but I’m picky about which artists I’m willing to drop a dollar on. I need to know almost every song someone sings to be willing to spend money seeing them, so I don’t go to a lot of concerts. Whereas, I have friends who will go to just about any concert in town. It’s just personality differences, I suppose. Some of those same friends don’t know the difference between a quarterback and cornerback. They don’t know where right field is or where left field is. They don’t know the difference between a layup and a jump shot. They certainly don’t know what an alley-oop is. Ask them about the Holy Roller Play and the Immaculate Reception, and you’re likely to get a blank stare. Corner kick? They have no idea. That’s OK. It’s not their thing. Ask me to sing along all the words to a Coldplay song, and you’ll get the same blank stare, even though I once waited for my car at the valet stand outside a restaurant with Chris Martin…but that’s a story for another day.

We are fortunate in Charlotte to have lots of sports teams and lots of different sporting events to support. Call me if you need a sidekick.

Sports teams to support in Charlotte

UNCC Athletics: https://charlotte49ers.com/

Charlotte Football Club (Soccer): https://www.charlottefootballclub.com/

Charlotte Checkers Hockey: https://charlottecheckers.com/

Carolina Panthers Football: https://www.panthers.com/

Charlotte Knights Baseball: https://www.milb.com/charlotte-knights

Queens University Athletics: https://queensathletics.com/index.aspx

Charlotte Bootleggers Box Lacrosse: https://pbla.com/teams/charlotte-bootleggers/

Since Charlotte is the home of NASCAR, there are all kinds of auto racing venues nearby. Click here to see a list of racetracks and events.

There are lots more. It would be impossible for me to remember all of them, but off the top of my head, there are lots of high school sports events to attend. Check athletics calendars for different schools in the area.

Parenting College Students After Idaho Tragedy

Parenting colleges students after Idaho tragedy.

Before my daughter left for college in August, I gave her a Birdie personal alarm. It hangs on her keychain, and we have even practiced using it. If she feels threatened, she can separate the alarm box from her keychain, and it sets off a high-pitched, loud audible alarm and blinking strobe. It’s tiny but mighty. (You can purchase one from Amazon here.) It helps us both have a little peace of mind, but we also know she has to take lots of other measures to stay safe in the world. Haven’t we always worried about the safety of our kids in college? But now, with the murders of four college students in one house in Moscow, Idaho, I’m more concerned than ever, even though they have a suspect in custody.

I graduated from the same southern state university our daughter is attending…way back in 1989. Things were different then. We didn’t have cell phones. The university was less than half the size it is now, and there were dark areas in the parking lots. Sometimes, if I drove home from somewhere late at night alone, I would park across the street, in a two-hour parking spot, because it was safer. And often, in the morning, I would find multiple parking tickets on my windshield. I looked at it as the price to pay for safety. My dad was angry the first time he received notice that I had accumulated city parking tickets. When he asked, I told him I would pay them that day. At first, he started to talk sternly with me about the cost of the tickets, but I stopped him when I said, “Would you rather I park in the rape zone?” No, there wasn’t an area actually called the “rape zone.” It was just what I called dark, scary parking lots. And you know what his answer to that question was? “Absolutely not. You park wherever you need to park to feel safe.”

The world can be a scary, dangerous place, and hopefully, our college students realize that. The good news about that realization? If you realize it, then you can take precautions to decrease the possibility of your becoming a victim…like not parking in the rape zone.

The brutal murders of four college students in Moscow, Idaho, in November was a horrible crime, and while it likely frightened every student at that university, I can safely say it scared college students and their parents everywhere. My daughter, a college freshman, called me after hearing about it, asking, “Should I be afraid?” I explained to her that she should be cautious, but she should be cautious all the time. I’m the mother who always reminds her to be aware of where the exits are no matter where she goes…a movie theater, a bar, a hotel room…anywhere. It’s a practice I learned years ago when I was a flight attendant…always know a way out. Also, always be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to the faces around you; are some of them appearing too often in different places? There are so many things I have told my daughter over the years. I hope and pray she has listened.

But back to her question, “Should I be afraid?” Maybe “afraid” isn’t the right word. I told her to be extra cautious. I told her to take extra safety measures she should be taking in everyday life anyway. I remember Ted Bundy in the 1970s. He was in Washington state, then Utah, then all the way down in Florida. It’s a big country, but it’s pretty easy to move around in it unnoticed. Could the Idaho murderer have found his way to North Carolina? Georgia? Florida? Alabama? You bet he could have. Fortunately, they have arrested a suspect that the authorities feel pretty strongly is the murderer. Does it make us all feel a little safer? Yes, but there are lots of evil people out there in the world, and they’re not easy to identify. If I had seen Bryan Kohberger, the suspect in the Idaho murders, in a store or restaurant, would I have thought he looked scary or capable of brutally murdering four people? Probably not. He doesn’t look particularly strong to me. He doesn’t even look evil to me, but if he committed the murders, he is definitely evil.

That’s what that crime made us all realize. We can’t always recognize evil when we see it, but we can take measures to avoid it. I’m guessing college parents all over the country have been reminding their children of that very fact before sending them back for this upcoming semester. My parents used to tell me ways to stay safe. It’s always on my mind. My daughter now understands why I want her to text me a secret symbol when she gets in to her dorm (or a safe friend’s house) at night. Just sending me “I’m home” isn’t good enough. Anyone could text that from her phone, but not just anyone knows our secret symbol. When I see that symbol late at night, I sleep more soundly. Does she always remember to do it? No. In fact, last night was her first night back at school, and I didn’t get the symbol after she went out. Thankfully, I slept through the night.

Have the Idaho murders changed college students’ approach to safety? I hope so. My daughter and I discussed safety again before she went back to college yesterday for her second semester. I hope college students everywhere know they can’t share their door codes with other people. A secret isn’t a secret if more than one person knows it. Right? If you’re sending your child off to college for the next semester soon, remind them to be cautious. Remind them to walk with friends. Remind them to look out for each other. Remind them to always lock doors. Remind them to park in safe areas. Remind them to be cautious. Remind them that it’s OK to call the police if they are concerned about something or someone.

Tell them you love them every time you text or talk, and hug them every time you see them.

She’s Returning to College

She’s returning to college.

Our daughter is returning to college for the second semester of her freshman year. In just 36 hours, our blissful month of having her under our roof will end. She and my husband will load up her car and start the 450 mile drive back to her university. She will drop him off at the airport before she goes to her dorm. He will fly home…without her.

And our house will be eerily quiet…again. It will be as quiet as it has been for the past few months, since we dropped her off in August. That dorm move-in is a distant memory now. Remember all the planning? Remember all the boxes of dorm supplies and decor stacked up in my foyer? I can hardly remember it now.

She survived first semester. With medical emergencies, the flu, late nights, lots of fun, lots of new friends…she survived. Not only did she survive, she thrived. Our girl was made for the big college atmosphere. It’s her happy place, for the most part. Don’t get me wrong; there were occasional tears. If you have a child leaving for college next fall, just know there will be tears. Sometimes they just have to get through the tears to get to the good stuff. I have told our daughter that in many late night phone conversations. If we didn’t have the bad, we wouldn’t appreciate the good. It’s absolutely true. The good seems so much better after you experience the bad. If your child calls you crying from college, remind them and yourself of that.

I will be having to remind myself of that over the next few weeks, as we adjust to a quiet house again.

Our house has felt like our house again for the past month, while our girl has been home. We had her friends in and out of the house at all hours. Many times, I was up at 2am, making grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for a gaggle of friends. I’m not complaining; I loved every minute of it. Some nights, I was picking her up from a friend’s house or a party in the wee hours of the morning. After the murders at the University of Idaho, I wasn’t real keen on her taking an Uber. That horrible crime was a reminder that a background check is just a check of what someone hasn’t been caught doing or hasn’t done yet. It’s scary to think young girls all over the country hop into the car with strangers all the time, right? So while our daughter was in Charlotte, I was her personal Uber driver if she needed me. *Say a prayer for the families of those University of Idaho students.*

Did my husband love the late nights? No. It drives him crazy to have to stay up past midnight. He leads a very structured life, and if the timing gets messed up, he’s not happy. I’m a total vampire who flies by the seat of my pants, so in my world, I love the chaos. I love spontaneity. I love getting in the car at 1:30am to pick up our daughter and friends to bring them back to our house. I love standing in the kitchen, in my pajamas and robe, preparing food for them after they get here. And I’m going to miss it.

Will we get to bed at a reasonable hour every night? Yes. Will the amount of laundry I have to do decrease exponentially? Yes. But honestly, I will miss the extra laundry. I will miss watching the clock as we wait for her to come home. I will miss the late night talks in her room. I will miss watching football games with her.

I will miss her.

Thank God we have some vacations coming up soon, so we won’t be in this quiet house. Before we know it, she will come home for a visit. If she doesn’t, chances are I will hop on a plane and go see her one weekend soon…just because I miss her. She’ll need a Mama hug, and I’ll need to see her face to make sure she’s OK.

I keep reminding myself that in just four short months, she will be home for summer. We will take mother/daughter trips again. She will likely want to visit friends in different cities, and that’s OK too. We will just be happy to have her here when we can. Just having that to look forward to will keep us going. Well, that and some fun trips.

Meet us in the Bahamas, but bring your own snorkel gear!

Car Trouble on the Way Home

Car trouble on the way home.

Tuesday was a long day for our family. I took my husband to the airport in the morning to catch an 11:00 flight to Birmingham. Our daughter had finished her first semester college finals and was ready to come home for the holidays, but since her school is 450 miles away, we didn’t want her to ride alone. Therefore, my husband was flying down to make the drive with her. I know some folks will think that’s crazy, but I don’t care. Even our daughter protested, “Really??? I can drive alone!” If purchasing an airline ticket for my husband would create a hardship for us, I might have considered letting her drive home alone, but it’s a long drive for anyone, and well, you never know when something will happen. Our daughter is a great driver with lots of driving experience, but because I have been stranded on the side of the highway before, I know how scary it can be as a woman…especially a young woman. Yes, she has a AAA Automobile Club membership, and she has roadside assistance for her car through the manufacturer, and all of that makes me feel better, but I just don’t feel good about the possibility of her being stranded on the interstate highway. My husband doesn’t either, so that’s why he flew down to drive back with her.

She picked him up at the Birmingham airport at about noon, and they started the 6-hour drive back to Charlotte. Over the past couple of years, we have decided that, because of the road construction and heavy truck traffic on I-85 between Charlotte and Greenville, South Carolina, it’s easier to travel on I-20 and I-77 between Birmingham and Charlotte. Its a slightly longer drive…20 minutes or so, but it’s just a more peaceful drive. Well…usually it is.

After they had passed through Atlanta, my husband noticed a vibration in the car that was just too much to continue. The tires were not inflated properly. They were showing various pressures, so when he called me, we decided that might be the issue. He decided to stop at a tire store in Conyers, Georgia, to try to get the issue resolved before continuing. Thank God they stopped when they did. It took a couple of hours to get the issue straightened out…rotation, weights, and alignment…but eventually, they were back on the road. I even suggested they might stop at a hotel and just come home in the morning, because in addition to the fact that it was getting late, there was also a heavy fog settled over the Carolinas. They would have none of that; they both wanted to get home.

At about 11:30pm, they turned into our driveway. I went out to greet them as soon as they parked. They were exhausted and hungry, since they hadn’t stopped for food anywhere along the way. We all came in, and I made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for them before we all turned in for the night.

I was just thankful they had arrived safely. Yes, it was a long trip for them and a long day of worry for me, but they made it. I also said prayers of thanks that my husband was there with our daughter, so she didn’t have to deal with all the issues alone. I would have been driving to meet her somewhere if he hadn’t flown down to ride back with her, and I would have been terrified for her. It’s a good lesson. If you ever question whether you should go help your child with something like a long drive, err on the side of caution. I’m not even a particularly cautious mom, but when it comes to long drives, I am.

Now, we are enjoying the holidays and preparing for another drive, as my daughter and I are traveling to Charleston with friends tomorrow morning. I’ll be riding with my friend, and our daughter will be driving herself and the daughter of said friend. We are meeting some friends who are flying in from Ohio, and we plan to enjoy as much shopping and dining as we possibly can over the course of a few days!

Stay safe out there!

Final Exam Nightmares

Final exam nightmares.

It’s the first week of December, which means college students everywhere are either preparing for or taking final exams. Our daughter is among those students preparing. Her first college final exam is Monday. Oh, how I remember the days leading up to those first college finals my freshman year.

I was a different person then. I carried more anxiety. I had not yet learned that worrying about something doesn’t change it. My parents used to tell me 98% of the things we worry about never happen. They also used to tell me that worrying won’t change things. Aside from that, they would tell me, if we prepare properly and turn the rest over to God, we are in good hands. Does it always mean we will succeed? No, but don’t we learn a lot more from our failures than from our successes?

It was after that first semester that I relaxed a little. I stopped worrying so much. Over time, I have become a non-worrier, except where our daughter’s safety is concerned. That’s a whole different level of worry that will likely never change.

Every now and then, though, my brain finds a way to remind me of the stress of college finals. I go to bed perfectly happy, but I wake up in a sweat, with an elevated pulse rate. No, it’s not about our daughter. It’s about me. I wake up in an absolute panic, because I am dreaming that I have just slept through a college final, or that I forgot to take one altogether. I think it’s a pretty common recurring nightmare for people who went to college, but 33 years after graduating? Doesn’t that seem like a long time to still be having that nightmare? No matter how much time passes, it’s still a painful nightmare.

Here’s the funny thing: when I was a junior in college, I actually did sleep through a final. It was my Spanish oral final. I had been up late studying the night before and knew I had the Spanish oral exam at 10:00am. Every student in the class had signed up for a 10-minute time slot, and that was mine. I feel sure I had set my clock, but I guess I set it wrong, or maybe I turned it off without really waking up. Whatever happened, I slept through the exam. I woke up at 10:30, when a friend came into my room, and I immediately realized what had happened. I had slept in a sweatshirt. I have no idea what kind of pants I slept in, but probably lightweight sweats. I jumped up, put on shoes as quickly as I could, and ran out the door without even brushing my teeth or my hair. I just ran.

Of course, the exam was about as far from my room as it could possibly be, but I ran. I ran as fast as I could and said a prayer that my teacher would still be in the room when I arrived. Additionally, the testing was taking place on the third floor of the building, so after running all the way to the building, I had to run up the stairs to the third floor…and all the way to the end of the hall. When I arrived, there were a couple of students sitting on the floor outside the classroom, waiting their turns, I suppose. I hardly noticed them as I pushed the door open and saw my professor sitting with another professor in front of the student who was testing at the time. Yes, it was rude for me to burst in, and frankly, I was out of breath…huffing and puffing…probably trying to hold back tears. Fortunately, I’d had both professors as teachers, one the first semester of junior year and one second semester, and I was on good terms with them. My professor paused the exam and said to me, “It’s OK. Go outside and catch your breath. We will call you in shortly.” Thank the Lord I had a forgiving professor. And thank the Lord I had developed good relationships with both the professors. I had been in their classes in back-to-back semesters. After waiting for a little while, they called me in, and I took my oral exam, passing it with an A. Afterward, hen I returned to my room, my friends who had witnessed my wild departure came in, wide-eyed, and asked how it had gone. I told them to let me brush my teeth and hair first, and I would be happy to give them the details!

Yes, I’m that person who actually slept through a final and lived to tell about it.

That’s not my only recurring nightmare about college, though. I also have a recurring nightmare in which it’s the end of the semester, and I have forgotten to attend a class for the whole semester! Again, I wake up in a sweat after this one too, but this one never actually happened in real life. Sure, I missed some classes here and there, but never a whole semester of class.

Sunday night, I will remind my daughter to set multiple alarms to wake up for her 8:30am exam. I don’t want her to live the nightmare of missing the exam.

And even though I don’t consider myself a worrier anymore, I’m sure I will go to bed Sunday night worried that she will sleep through her exam.

Because I’ll go to bed worried, chances are, I will have my exam nightmare again.

Thanksgiving 2022

Thanksgiving 2022

It’s our first Thanksgiving as empty nesters! We made it to Thanksgiving! Actually, we have thoroughly enjoyed our empty nester status, but you know we were thrilled our baby girl could come home for a whole week! We are counting down to her Christmas break (starts December 9), when she will be out of school for a whole month! I don’t dare say we will see her for a whole month, because I’m sure she will want to visit with friends…and we are cool with that!

But here we are, having survived most of the first semester. After Thanksgiving, she just goes back to school for “dead week” and finals week before returning for the next break. Here’s where I should tell you, contrary to what some some moms say on the Facebook college parent pages, “dead week” does not mean they walk around looking like “the walking dead” or “zombies.” Well, at her university that’s not what it means; I can’t speak for others. Some parents have said on the parents page, “They study so hard that they look like zombies.” For 95% of the students, I’m saying that is not true. What it actually means…and share this with your friends…is that professors cannot issue new assignments during the “dead week” before finals, and they cannot have tests during that week either. Some professors might opt to have class, and some might not. Some have review sessions, and some do not. Some give extra credit for attending that week, and others do not. The week is meant to be a study week.

I can assure you that when I was at the same university as my daughter in the 1980s, I did not walk around looking like a zombie during dead week. No way. Did I use my time wisely and study all week? I’d like to say I did. Oh, who am I kidding?!?! No way! I had lots of fun during dead week and started studying for finals at the end of the week. I was even known to go out during finals week. [Gasp!] If I looked like the walking dead during dead week, it had nothing to do with studying too hard. If I looked like a zombie that week, it was because I had too much fun the night before. Not gonna lie. Don’t get me wrong. I studied. I just studied efficiently. I kept up in my classes. I met with professors when I didn’t understand a concept. I was a good student. OK, I was a pretty good student. But I got the job done, and I had a great work/life balance. I didn’t work all the time, and I didn’t play all the time. Fortunately, I had parents who understood the importance of enjoying college life, and as long as I “took care of business,” I could play all I wanted. And I did.

Now our daughter is trying to have a work/life balance her freshman year of college, and at Thanksgiving 2022, we are thankful she seems to be thriving. It’s hard to believe just six months ago, she was feeling a little unsure about her decision. She was thinking of another school she had considered. She was thinking she had made a mistake in choosing her university. She had just graduated and was entering the summer before college. It was a painful time in our household…lots of tears. I took her to orientation in June, and she was a mess. We got through it when I promised her she could transfer at any time if she didn’t like the university. However, I had no doubt in my mind that she would like it. I think she just needed to know she had options. Soon after school started, I received numerous texts saying, “I love it here!” Transferring is never discussed. We survived the summer of ambivalence, and here we are now…almost through the first semester!

And that, my friends, is what I’m celebrating this Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for my daughter’s happiness at her college home. We relax a little knowing she is happy. Is every day perfect? No. Does she have some stress with studies? Some. But is she making memories that will last as lifetime, just like I did? You bet! This year, we will have or own little Thanksgiving celebration at home. We had considered going out but decided to stay in and enjoy the food that is stacked in our refrigerator. I’m hoping friends and neighbors will stop by later in the day, when we are enjoying cocktails on the patio by the fire!

Happy Thanksgiving! And if, like me, you’d like to relive the WKRP in Cincinnati Turkey Drop, click here. It’s an all-time favorite that I must watch at least once every Thanksgiving season. “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”

Back Home Ballers

Back Home Ballers

When I was growing up, there were young people in and out of our house all the time. Likewise, when our daughter was growing up, we had young people in and out of our house all the time. And then, this past August, she went to college, and our house became a lot quieter. She came home once in September and once a few weeks ago, and we got to see one or two of her friends, but now that Thanksgiving is upon us, they’re all home from college, and there is so much activity! It has been like a revolving door of friends since she got home, and we couldn’t be happier! If you have seen the SNL video titled Back Home Ballers, you know where I stole my title. If you’re not familiar with it, you can see it here. And if you’re a parent of a college student, you get it. Your husband is probably the “valet,” carrying bags up and down the stairs. At our house, I’m the mom who just went to Costco (or Publix, in my case) in anticipation of the college student’s arrival…and hopefully, there are lots of friends dropping in too! And the students themselves? Well, they are just enjoying every minute of the attention and preferential treatment.

I remember my friend, Angela, visiting me at my mother’s house when I was in my forties. I had gone down to Alabama to visit with Mother for a few days, and lucky for me, Angela lived nearby. One particular trip, Angela came over, and we were playing “Heads Up” with our smartphones, laughing and poking fun at each other. We talked and laughed and talked and laughed some more. I remember Mother saying, “Having y’all together here makes me happy. Y’all bring fun energy into my house.” I heard her, but I didn’t fully understand what she was saying.

Now I get it.

Now I understand what mother was feeling. I feel energized with all these friends of our daughter in and out of the house. I’ve been to the grocery store four times in anticipation of their visits. Normally, I do not enjoy the grocery store, but this week, I have enjoyed every minute of it…practically skipping and dancing down the aisles! I have tried to purchase all their favorite comfort foods, because I want them to feel comfortable and a little nostalgic. We have a few more days before they all head back to college, so I hope to prepare a few more meals, snacks, and desserts before they leave. My refrigerator is still bursting at the seams, so they need to come over as often as possible to eat all that food! The benefit for me? While they hang out in my kitchen, laughing and talking, I absorb their fun, positive energy, and I get to laugh a lot! Good times.

Last night, in fact, a few friends were here, and we stayed up well into the night laughing and talking…even crying some too, but it was good crying. I have watched these young people grow up! Obviously, I have known my daughter her whole life, but I’ve known most of her friends since they were five or even before that! We go way back…lots of history there. Now they have new lives at their universities spread across the country, so there was lots to cover there too.

I have even been able to drive my daughter and some of her friends to the homes of other friends…and even pick them up late at night! Many of these college students are home without their cars, because they have to fly back and forth to their universities. Our daughter doesn’t have her car here, so I almost feel like I used to feel before she was old enough to drive! Yes, it was aggravating sometimes then, but now I’m the mom driving late at night with a big smile on my face! I’m just so happy! That is my life right now! It’s real, y’all.

And you know what? I’m loving every minute and trying to lock things into my long term memory!

*Feature photo from NBC’s SNL* I wish I had thought to get our daughter and a group of her friends to pose like this!

*

*

.

This,Too, Shall Pass

This, too, shall pass.

It is a reminder that we are likely to move beyond problems or things that bother us…that the only constant is change. It was a phrase my mother lived by. Since her passing, one of her dear friends (who is also my friend) has offered up this gentle reminder to me on a regular basis, always adding my mother’s initials behind it or saying “a wise person once told me…”

It is meaningful throughout life, but I find it is especially meaningful in dealing with my college-age daughter and her friends. Sometimes, things that happen in their lives seem like a big deal to them, but we, as older, more experienced adults, know things will get better, and the current situation will be long forgotten.

Those four words, “This, too, shall pass,” can be applied in lots of different instances…especially short-term annoyances…most illnesses, most disagreements, homesickness, heartbreak, or an unexpected difficult setback…and many more.

I went online to do a little research on the saying and found that Abraham Lincoln used a longer version of it in a speech at the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee before he was elected President of the United States. According to abrahamlincolnonline.org, he recounted a tale of an Eastern monarch:

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

I especially love Lincoln’s observation…”How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction.”

Somewhere along the way, it became, “This, too, shall pass.” Words to live by, I suppose. Throughout my own life, because I heard it from my mother, and because I have the good fortune of still hearing it from her friend, I have found comfort in those four words. Or sometimes, I have been reminded to check myself! When my daughter was an infant and would not nap, I was exhausted all the time. Many times, I had to remind myself, “This, too, shall pass.” But even in good times, when she was snuggled up to me as an infant, I also had to remind myself that she wouldn’t want to do that forever. It helped me live in the moment.

Even as we enjoyed the glow of our home after our daughter arrived home for the Thanksgiving break yesterday, I had to remind myself that the moment would pass. She was excited to be home. She was excited to eat her favorite foods. She was excited to talk with us. We are still enjoying every moment, but tomorrow, she is going to visit a friend at another university for a couple of days before coming home for a few days and then, returning to her own university. This great joy we are experiencing is short-lived. It is a reminder to live in the moment!

The sadness we will experience after she leaves? Well, that will pass too, as soon as she calls us to share a funny story from school. We will still miss her, of course, but we will rejoice in her happiness, just as we suffer in her pain…like all good parents. Our daughter is a piece of our hearts living outside our bodies…we tend to feel what she feels. Its true empathy. I truly believe my own empathy grew after having my daughter…not just for her, but for others. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Now, I find myself sharing those words of wisdom with my daughter on a regular basis. Spending extra time studying for a difficult class? This, too, shall pass. Homesickness? This, too, shall pass. Freshman joy? This, too, shall pass. (Live in the moment.) Heartbreak? This, too, shall pass. Extreme sadness or happiness? This, too, shall pass. Even confusion about her own emotions…this, too, shall pass.

The only constant is change.

Personally, I tell myself “this, too, shall pass” on a regular basis. Even after each of my parents died, I knew the grief would never go away, but the immediate feelings of hopelessness would pass. The loneliness would pass. Eventually, good memories would take over. And I was right.

As the holidays approach, I find it especially meaningful. There are lots of emotions that accompany this time of year, not just for me, but for lots of people. I feel a sense of loss, because my parents are no longer here, and I lost my mother during the holidays. I also feel a sense of joy, knowing we will have our daughter under our roof for a while. Enjoy the good times as much as possible, because the high is temporary. Weather the bad ones…hang in there long enough, they will pass too.

Both emotions are temporary…

Even though she has been gone for five years, my mother’s four words still resonate in my mind, “This, too, shall pass.” They even helped me when I was deep in grief after she passed. Thankful for a sweet mom who shared her wisdom with me.

*

Holiday Decorating for Our College Student

Holiday decorating for our college student.

She’s coming home Thursday…a whole week before Thanksgiving.

Sunday afternoon, I was texting with a friend in Mobile who sent me pictures of her wrapped Christmas gifts! Yes, I said wrapped Christmas gifts...lots of them! She is even in the process of decorating her tree! She has two sons in their early 20s, and she is way ahead of the holiday game! I am impressed, especially because I have done very little to prepare for the holidays. Don’t get me wrong. I’m shopping. I have purchased a few items…a couple of gifts and some stocking stuffers. I have a little bit of holiday travel planned. I’m trying to figure out everything else. But decorating? It’s mid-November! My holiday game just isn’t there yet.

But then I realized…our daughter is coming home from college later this week, and it might be fun for her to come home and find a festive atmosphere.

I’m not ready to start wrapping gifts. I’m not ready to put up the tree. But I started thinking about what I can do now to make it feel festive when she arrives home this week, and it occurred to me that I can, at the very least, get the dining room table set and decorated for the holidays. Sorry…I’m skipping right over Thanksgiving table decor and moving on into Christmas decor. It’s not like I have ever decorated for Thanksgiving before anyway. I’m a bit of a holiday decor minimalist…especially for anything besides Christmas, but by most standards, I’m pretty minimal at Christmas too.

So yesterday afternoon, I went up to the attic and brought down some of the decor…not much, but some. And I got busy removing the regular china from the dining room table and replacing it with Christmas china. Some of the silver needed polishing, so I did that too. I didn’t go so far as to start playing Christmas music while I worked, but I might have been singing my own version of some Christmas carols. The dogs didn’t howl as I sang, but they did run to the other room. My husband came home in the middle of my chaos. I felt sure he would ask why I was decorating before Thanksgiving, but nope…he just kept his head down and kept walking. He probably was afraid I would ask him to help! (I didn’t.)

After gathering everything, I realized I was missing several items…a couple of my red champagne flutes (broken last year) and some of the pieces for my “tablescape.” So I placed a couple of online orders for the things I need. I still improvised with what I have, replacing the red champagne flutes with regular crystal ones until I have all the red ones, and putting out as much of my “tablescape” as possible. Yes, I put “tablescape” in quotation marks, because I’m not much of a scaper. However, even with the minimal table decor I have now, the dining room will feel festive when our daughter walks in. ***For tablescape ideas, see links at the bottom of page***

I stopped short of dragging out any other Christmas decor.

My husband grows weary of holiday decor, so I don’t want to send his brain into Christmas overload too early in the season…or before the season even gets started! I did not put up the tree. I didn’t go out and put lights on the trees in the front yard. I didn’t put the garland on the stairs. I didn’t start baking cookies for Santa. However, I am still considering putting the bows on the front porch lanterns before our daughter arrives Thursday. I know she would love to see those when she arrives, but I’m feeling a little like I need to save that until after Thanksgiving. Otherwise, even I will be tired of looking at all of it before Christmas even gets here. Plus, I don’t want to send the neighbors into complete shock by decorating too early.

For now, I’m relatively happy with my dining room table. When I’m finished, will it look like I hired Martha Stewart? Nope. Not at all. Maybe it will look like I hired Martha’s friend, Snoop Dogg. I’m not knocking Snoop; I love him! Frankly, I’d love to have him decorate my house for the holidays! In fact, I think I’d prefer his decor over Martha’s.

And we will all feel festive as soon as our daughter walks through the door for her weeklong Thanksgiving break! Maybe she will want to help me with some holiday decor after she gets here!

Fo shizzle!

****Here are some websites for table decorating ideas:

Town and Country Magazine

Country Living

Jane at Home

And some fun ideas from Country Living

*Also, follow Shayla Copas on Instagram here for great ideas! Or order her book, Four Seasons of Entertaining, here.*

A Whole Week Home From College

A whole week home from college.

In less than a week, our college student daughter is coming home…for a whole week! We haven’t seen her for seven days in a row since she left for college in August! We have seen her for a couple of days here and there…two football weekends, one day when my husband visited when he passed through town, and she has been home for two quick visits. But soon, she will be here for a whole week! In fact, she will be home for a little more than a week! And we can hardly wait.

Back in September, I booked her ticket on American Airlines to come home Saturday. But then, two days ago, she called me and said she wants to come home earlier. My first question? “Don’t you have class Friday?” She told me her Friday class has been canceled. I kept her on the phone while I looked at the American Airlines website. We discussed flight times and finally decided she could come home on an afternoon flight Thursday for only $99 more than we paid for the original ticket. Sold!

Seriously, y’all, I was so flattered that she wanted to spend more time with us. Anyone who has college-age kids will tell you it’s fun when they’re around again. I told her I was excited we are going to get to spend some extra time with her. And that’s when she said, “Oh, well, yes…but I’m going down to Columbia, South Carolina, with friends Saturday morning for the South Carolina game.”And that’s when I realized she isn’t coming home early to spend more time with us. She is coming home early to go to the University of South Carolina! I laughed out loud, because of course that’s what she wants to do!

I remember what it’s like to be 19, so I’m happy she gets to go visit friends in South Carolina with friends from home! I loved going to football games at different schools with friends when I was in college, so I get it. Will we, her parents, be offended when she wants to spend every evening with her friends? Nope, not one bit. In fact, I hope she will bring them here to gather at least once or twice. We love the energy they bring into our home, and I love preparing food for them…grilled cheese sandwiches, avocado toast, or even a late night breakfast.

But I also realize that, because she wants to go to South Carolina for a day or two, she is still coming home earlier than she originally was, and that’s a bonus for me and my husband! We are so excited! Of course, at the end of her stay, I’m sure I will be writing about how little time we actually got to spend with her! And that’s OK too, because we just want her to be happy and healthy. Spending time with her friends in Charlotte will be good for her. When she returns to Charlotte from South Carolina Saturday night, I will be here, ready to feed her (and friends) when she gets home.

Plus, I’m sure she will sleep a lot. Our daughter who has never been much of a sleeper will need to make up for lots of lost sleep while she is here. Sleeping in a twin bed in a dorm just isn’t the same as sleeping in a queen bed at home. I remember that too. There’s nothing quite like sleeping under your parents’ roof, with your dog in the bed like old times. She will sleep soundly knowing her daddy will bring her coffee in bed in the morning, and I will call her down for a hot breakfast shortly thereafter. Just like her last visit, we will have all her favorites at breakfast: scrambled eggs, grits, hashbrown casserole, bacon, biscuits, and Conecuh Sausage (again, if you’re not familiar with this, you want to try it. It’s from Alabama, but they carry the original sausage at most Publix stores. See the Conecuh Sausage website here). Some mornings, she might want avocado toast too. And she will get it if she wants it.

We are excited for her to arrive Thursday. My husband can hardly wait to go pick her up at the airport…a job he has already volunteered to do. I will ask her what she wants as her “welcome home” meal, and I will have that ready when she arrives. Of course, she’s likely to eat and run…or as my late friend, Wendy, would say, “chew and screw,” which means the same as eat and run. She was from Boston, and I don’t know if that’s what other people say there, but I think it sounds funny, so I say it occasionally.

Now, we just play the waiting game. My husband started his countdown today, telling me she will be home in just five days!

We are excited!

***Feature photo from Charlotte Business Journal***