Thursday, December 11, 2014

Playing it Cool

Apparently, third grade is quite different now than when I was in elementary school. When I was young, I remember struggling to learn multiplication and division, and swapping snack cakes during lunch. My third grader comes home talking about who has a crush on who, and so-and-so broke up with so-and-so. The world of dating has already infiltrated our third-grade classrooms.

The other day, Michael was telling me that he found out the girl he has a crush on likes him. I laughed, and he reminded me of the seriousness of the conversation.

“Mom, this is my life. It’s not funny,” he said. I apologized, and informed him that I don’t remember having these conversations with my friends until I was in sixth grade, at the very least. I asked him what happens next, since they both seem to have a crush on each other.

“I’ll just play it cool, you know? If she likes me, great. If she doesn’t like me...well, let’s not think about that,” he said.

If this is already beginning in third grade, what do kids do in middle school now? Are they already getting engaged by then? Oh, I almost forgot to mention: this is a DIFFERENT girl than one he told me he liked last week. All this before hormones kick in!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Good in Life

This is my favorite time of year. The weather is getting cooler (or colder), the leaves are falling, and I can relax with a cup of hot tea in the evenings. I also thoroughly enjoy the fall because it is the beginning of the holiday season. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’m stocking my pantry with the items necessary to bake my pumpkin and pecan pies to enjoy with my family.

Each year, around this time, I take a few moments to reflect on the previous months and find the good in my life. I’m incredibly grateful to have many people who love and care for me, and truly want me to be happy in whatever I do. To love people unconditionally is a remarkable gift, and to be loved is even more rewarding.

This Thanksgiving, as we sit around the table and roll our eyes at someone’s mention that we should all say what we’re thankful for, I’ll smile with joy. I have so much to be thankful for, and I’m humbled by those who were put in my life to keep me moving forward.

As we eat our turkey, stuffing and green bean casseroles, I will also be reminded of those who don’t have what I have, yet still find the good in their circumstances. I get caught up in stories about homeless people giving back to the communities, or children asking for simple things like a toothbrush. These stories break my heart, and I can’t help but be overwhelmed with sadness and a need to help in some way.

We have so much to be thankful for. This Thanksgiving, I hope you find the good in whatever is going on in your life.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Halloween 2014

Being a parent on Halloween is not nearly as fun as being a kid on Halloween. I remember when I was young, we’d trick-or-treat until we couldn’t possibly walk anymore. If it was cold out, we’d be completely frozen before we’d even think about heading inside and calling it a night. Last week, I was done after visiting about five houses with Michael. My hands were cold in just a few minutes, and I’m pretty sure I had a rock in my shoe before I even walked ten steps.

I trudged on, though, because little Michael was having a blast ringing people’s doorbells or knocking on their doors exclaiming, "Pizza guy!" Those who were handing out candy thought he was hilarious. A few even said it was one of the most creative costumes of the night.

This put my son on cloud nine. He was elated, and kept the momentum going. However, he couldn’t help but notice that house after house we walked by was dark, with no treats in sight. I’m unsure if it was because it was cold, or since Halloween was on a Friday night people decided to go out, but we skipped more houses than we stopped at.

Through the years of Michael’s childhood, Halloween has become more and more like this: scarce, and quiet. Last year, he got so little candy, I ended up going to the stores the day after to get some of the discounted goodies. This year, because so few trick-or-treaters were out, he made out pretty well considering most of those he talked to were willing to dump piles of candy into his pizza box.

I suppose I shouldn’t be too upset. He did create a lot of buzz in the neighborhood with his costume, and people sure spoiled him for it. Maybe next year, though, he’ll be more apt to having Mom buy him candy and take him out for the pizza.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ding-dong, Pizza's Here!

For Halloween this year, I imagine a lot of little girls will be dressed as Elsa from Frozen and other favorite characters, and little boys will be Ninja Turtles or some other crime-fighting hero. What does my eight-year-old want to dress as? Not Ironman, nor a cowboy, nor a skeleton.

This year, Michael is going as a pizza delivery guy. The idea came about during a conversation he was having with his grandpa, and Michael became excited about the prospect. He said he plans to ring the doorbells and instead of saying, “Trick-or-Treat,” he will say, “Pizza Guy!”

As I’m writing this, I’m on the hunt for a uniform for him to wear, along with an empty pizza box he can carry. He anticipates people putting the candy in the pizza box instead of a bag, for the full effect. I’m excited to see how it works out for him, and I’ll be sure to include a picture next week.

He mentioned it would be cool if he could give every house a pizza, and I told him that would just get too expensive, as the return on the investment wouldn’t be that great. He also informed me that I’ll need to be close by with a bag to dump his candy in, as it might get awkward carrying a heavy box around all night.

I’m excited for my son this year, because Halloween is on a Friday night. Which means, he can stay out a bit later than he’s been able to do in the past. He’s excited to make people laugh, and there’s no greater joy in life than laughing with people. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

To The Naysayers

Print is dead. I can read my news online. That’s a great hobby, but what are you going to do when people don’t read the newspaper anymore? These are all things that I hear on at least a weekly basis, and a lot of times they are unwanted opinions from complete strangers. If I truly believed that people weren’t reading my newspaper, why would I even be here doing what I love to do?

This week is National Newspaper Week, and though there’s no parade or celebrations planned, I’m celebrating in my own little way. Being celebrated in newspaper offices across the country, this week is the 74th year of honoring newspapers big and small that continue to serve their communities. I have a passion for serving my community, and I have no plans of going anywhere anytime soon.

I take what I do seriously, and I thoroughly enjoy every day that I come to work. I have the opportunity to meet and mingle with some extraordinary people in our community and beyond. I am humbled to be able to see and do things that I can then write about and share the experiences with my favorite audience. I believe wholeheartedly that community newspapers, like the one you’re reading now, will have a place in our lives for many years to come.

To all the naysayers out there who might not agree with me, I say, nowhere else can you get the scoop on what’s going on in your city hall like with Mayor Jones’s column, or stories about local citizens who have a museum-worth of memorabilia in their garage. We’ll continue to produce the stories and promote our community for as long as we have readers. We’re not going anywhere.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Celebrating My Heritage

President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed October 6, 1983, just a few days after I was born, as German American Heritage Day, and it was officially commemorated four years later in 1987. This day honors the 300th anniversary of the arrival of 13 German families who established the first German settlement on American soil. This community on the northern outskirts of Philadelphia later came to be known as Germantown.

As a kid, I grew up hearing about Germany from my family. My grandparents met when my grandfather was stationed in Germany, and my dad graduated high school there. Over the years, I became more interested in where my family was from, and I decided to take the language in high school.

As my graduation present, my grandparents funded my trip to visit Germany. I set out with my grandma on the adventure I’d waited my entire life for. With passport in hand, I eagerly jetted off to the familiar, yet unknown.

During my trip, I saw as much of Germany as I could, and even stayed several days in nearby Austria. I had the opportunity to spend some time with a girl who was four years older than I, and she took me to places that young people liked to go to: a swimming pool, a dance club and even McDonald’s. She also took me to a barbecue with her friends. They were fascinated with the way I said things, and I was equally fascinated by them.

I also remember sitting with my grandma in local pubs, while she drank her mulled wine and I sipped on my Coca-Cola with two ice cubes. Just listening to her talk with her cousins and their families was worth the miles. I understood what they were saying more than I thought I would, and I delighted in the fact that they included me in what was going on.

The memories I have with my grandma while over there are priceless. She was completely in her element, and I could tell that she loved sharing her heritage with me. They are memories that I hope to one day share with my own child when he’s old enough to travel there with me.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Where's the Community?

For the third year in a row, I walked along Main Street with kids from Grandview as they celebrated one of the rites of their high school careers: Homecoming. This year, with their faces painted and their letter jackets on, the students at Grandview High School took to the community to garner support and encouragement from businesses and residents.

That support was incredibly lacking. As I geared up with my camera, finding the best spot to photograph the action, I noticed something that really hit a nerve. Before Main Street was closed off to traffic for the parade, several of the businesses surrounding mine, in the heart of Main Street, closed up shop and the owners and employees drove away. There were only a handful of families with small children who made the trek to show their support and maybe get a piece of candy or two.

The rest of Main Street was a ghost town. Whether it was a lack of the school district publicizing the event, or if people were simply too busy on their Friday afternoon, the Grandview community was noticeably absent.

The Grandview School District most recently scored, for the second year in a row, Accredited with Distinction on the Missouri School Improvement Plan grading system. Grandview High School has students with amazing abilities, both academically and athletically. Teenagers thrive on positive reinforcement, and not just from their teachers and parents.

Not too many years ago, when I was in high school, I remember Main Street was full of life on Homecoming Friday. Businesses would hang banners in support of Grandview High School, and the community would come together to build floats, hand out candy, and simply be present. Now it’s as if doors are closed, blinds are shut, and we go about our business as if nothing’s happening.

What changed in the last few years? Where’s the community when our kids are literally begging for attention?