Saturday, December 29, 2012

Farewell Newsweek

Today I received the final print issue of Newsweek magazine in the mail. It arrived in my mailbox on an odd day, wedged in between Christmas and New Year's Day. A Saturday. So far removed from the urgency that used to accompany it's arrival early in the week, ready to share intelligent thoughts about the current news of the world.

One last gasp and then it is gone forever.


Newsweek lost it's swagger. It's been a couple of years since I really cared what was written on it's pages. Yet I continued to renew my subscription. I hoped.

The magazine didn't suffer and die because pop culture prefers to receive their news digested and sputtered in small chunks via a mobile device. Personally, I lost interest in Newsweek when Tina Brown turned it into a collection of self-aware, sexified, introspective faux-journalism. Gone were the vivid photos of top news from across the country and the world. Gone were the collection of stories that took the time to make sense of the complicated web of business, politics, and social controversy. Gone were journalists who wrote with passion so that their audience could see the broader world.

Left were snarky stories about the avant-garde, riddled with insider drivel about topics that may have been scintillating to Tina and her minions in their Ivory Tower in NYC, but were little more than another day's recycling to me in Middle America where I dealt with a job and a family and a thirst for news. Somewhere along the line Newsweek forgot who their target audience was and began writing for themselves...after the real journalists left the room.

I fully understand the economics of printing a magazine and enticing advertisers to carve up part of their declining media spend for your publication. Perhaps Newsweek wouldn't have survived anyway. But, I find it obnoxious to blame the electronic transmission of news for the death of what has already become a shell of what it once was.

This particular issue actually captivated me and forced me to recall the days when I would stand in the kitchen and read it from cover to cover while cooking dinner after a long day at work. Life moves at warp speed for everyone today. And, I'm a huge fan of the digital age, I write a blog for goodness sake. But, that magazine always stopped me in my tracks. I tire of screen time. I feel overwhelmed by the Twitter chatter in the background all day. Historically, this publication served up the boldest and most important news in concert with bright, incisive editorials. It WAS different because it was old school.

Then it became the print version of The Daily Beast. Heaven Help Me!

I'm sorry to see it go. I'll miss the version of Newsweek before Tina turned it into her own Tattler/Vanity Fair with a smattering of carelessly inserted news hooks. The cover Twitter Hashtag should not be #LastPrintIssue it should be #EgoKilledNewsweek.

Farewell my friend. I've missed seeing you around the last few years and now I know that there really is no more reason to hope. Newsweek died.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Celebrating Connections: Far Flung Family

There I was, standing at the door leading into a room where a crowd had already gathered. The celebration was in full gear with balloons edging the buffet table and cake on display to tempt the littlest guests to reach out and sample. People were chatting, slapping each other on the back, and leaning in for hugs with whispered greetings.

I was at my aunt's 75th birthday party. But, who the heck were all these people?

Let's be honest. If you come from a family of more than a handful of relatives, by the time everyone grows up  you tend to lose track of their every day life. Right? I'm not alone here, am I?

In the case of my mother's family, it is easy to get lost in the crowd and wonder if you've ended up at WalMart on Black Friday, swimming through a crowd of faces with only a few that leap out as familiar. It's all a matter of mathematics. In the family of GV and Nina Welch:
  • My mom was one of 7 children
  • I am one of 35 grandchildren (granted 9 of those are from my immediate family!)
  • Connor is one of 58 great grandchildren
  • There are 38 great-great grandchildren (with another on the way)
Whew! How could I possibly keep track of so many people?!

But, unlike sauntering into a corporate networking event or Hollywood post-party for the Oscar's, in this setting all I had to do was pick a person out of the crowd and dive in. "Hi, I'm Maureen, Jackie's daughter. Help me remember where you fit in the family tree..."

Yep, in this magical place once we got past the awkward horror of not recognizing a second cousin from four states away who had emerged from those gawky teen years when you actually grow into your teeth, we were hugging and swapping stories like...well, like family!

In some cases, we aren't just family, we are kindred spirits whose laughter sounds eerily similar or whose eye color matches through some sort of imperceptible genetic cloning. With many we are friends. We share a common history as well as common interests outside of family festivities. That's when it becomes fun to have a huge family sprawling out from roots that run deep. Who knew that you might actually enjoy these people that fate and heredity banded you to?

Since it's the time of year for giving thanks and really meaning it, I feel compelled to share how grateful I am for this big, bawdy family of mine. Many are still mysteries, but over time I hope to learn more about their stories and how they intertwine with my own. That, my friends, is the power of don't really feel their awesome strength until you most need the support. Or, the hug. Or, the slap on the back. Or, in the case of that one cousin, whom shall remain nameless, the tap on the shoulder from behind that you didn't see coming (let's be honest, boys will be boys, even when they are old enough to know better!).

Raise a glass, people. Here's to that goofy bunch of people in the other room. They are my family. And, I sure do love them. Cheers (for my English relatives)! Slainte (for my Irish relatives)!

Note: Here are a few snapshots from Aunt Kathie's 75th birthday party...with family arriving from near and far!

The Welch siblings and spouses -- my aunts and uncles
Aunt Kathie being swarmed by the three youngest cousins in the Fitzgerald Family -- Connor, Ryleigh, and Reagan

Duane McDonald with his beautiful family, Jamie, Crystal, and first grandchild

Aunt Pat with Tricia, Mikayla, and Skylar

Aunt Judy with son Kevin Welch

Cousin Richard McDonald, showing his softer side holding those balloons for the kids

Cousin Sandy's youngest two children, Jahan and Shannon, opening the scrapbook of poems and letters their mom wrote to cousin Laura Sharp before her death when the kids were very young.
Cousins Laura, Shannon, and Jahan
Cousin Nickey with her husband, Jimmy, and one of her darling sons

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Short Goodbye

When I close my eyes I can see it perfectly. The sun shooting diamond-bright sparkles off the water. The lake softly swaying like a teenage girl at prom. My friend Michelle's boat held captive in that wake moving of its own accord as we babbled away the afternoon as only a group of people in their early 20s can...mindlessly...confidently. It was in the midst of this misty memory that I first met Joe Faber. He screamed into the middle of my daydream at full throttle. Twisting his body at just the right moment and sending a spray of lake water toward our bikini clad gaggle of girls on the boat.

Joe pulled up that day on his tricked-out jet ski of the era...not the contemporary version that invites middle aged moms like me to hop on and ride...the original...requiring balance and gusto to stay standing while rocketing over waves. I knew right away that we'd become fast friends. Not because he drove like a bat out of hell, but because once he'd tethered his jet ski to the back of the boat he hopped aboard carrying a six pack of beer that he'd procured across the lake at the only liquor store open on Sunday in our region. That was Joe...leave nothing to chance, make a plan and carry it out, and do it while moving forward as fast as possible with a grin on his face.

Eventually even Joe moved to the seated version of personal watercraft, but still insisted on catching air!

This week Joe's ride came to an end. Far too soon. Far too abruptly. My friend died after committing himself fully to the task of winning the most important race of his life -- the battle with cancer.

Today I'm left with a pile of photos and a mind filled with memories...from goofy to tear-filled to tender. We were friends. We were polar opposites. We shared a majority of our lives with common friends, interwoven stories, and a deep respect for the uniqueness that made us each who we are.

It was over one of those summers in the early 90's, filled with glory days and endless nights, that Joe finally cranked up the nerve to put his long-suffering heart on the line and win the girl. He and my dear friend and roommate, Lynn, made a perfect pair. Neither ever thought they were going fast enough, whether on one of those god forsaken jet skis, a boat, a plane, a motorcycle, or just in life. While that same jet ski that Joe seemed to master effortlessly was dragging me around the shallows of Lake Michigan showing the world the reality that I couldn't maneuver the throttle AND hop up and balance, Lynn was learning to make a hard turn and shoot a rooster tail of water all over me. I was destined to sit on the shore and watch as my two friends zoomed off into the sunset edging each other on and complimenting one another perfectly. It was a thing of beauty.

Joe never lost that glimmer in his eye when he looked at Lynn. It was as if he was always surprised that this incredible woman really belonged to him. That wonder and passion served him well over the years as their marriage hit the bumps and ruts along the road of life at mach speed. Together they made a family with Kyle and Megan...and several dogs along the way who were always treated as true members of their brood.

When Kyle was born, he fit into their lives with the same need for speed. To this day I don't think he knows what it's like to coast. In a few years he'll be the same age his daddy was when I met him...I don't doubt that he'll have a similar swagger. He will find his way and become his own man because he had a great model for his first 15 years...I don't expect him to be a replica of Joe but I imagine I'll always see a bit of his dad in that killer smile as he rockets off into whatever his future holds.

I don't think anything could have prepared Joe for the knee knocking joy coupled with gut twisting fear of raising a daughter. He and Megan were inseparable, especially during her first few years of life. Joe was home with her while Lynn worked a full time job. Picture Joe with his legendary Jeep Wrangler and his precious daughter, him teaching her how to find her way around the engine with a socket wrench and a smile.  Today she effortlessly transitions between motor sports and her dad's garage and the glamour-filled  world of your average 6th grade girl. A rare gem in a world filled with faux personalities, Megan is destined to break all the rules society has yoked on women and do it with audacity and style. She is such a magical blend of her daddy and mom.

Joe loved the speed and peace of flying his own plane...especially with his beloved co-pilot Lynn.

It was during this time at home with Megan that Joe conceived of his dream job and started the process of making that dream a reality. How many of us have found a way to transfer our passion into a job that we love? Joe founded Midwest Motorsports because he knew that there were other people out there who wanted to push the throttle farther...and he wanted to help them make their dreams come true.

The snapshot of a life well-lived is never really enough for those left behind. The glimmer of passion that you capture in a moments time can't do justice to the complexity of a life that was not perfect, but perfectly lived for that one man.

Joe was a quiet man who forged his ideas carefully and then defended them with a stubbornness that could surprise me every time. He was raised with a bible in his hands and could quote the scripture without a second thought, making his journey toward Catholicism one of the most well thought out I've ever witnessed. He challenged every aspect and turned it inside out before acknowledging or accepting.

After his first jump out of a perfectly good airplane...following Lynn's lead!

Today begins a new journey for Joe's family. One through uncharted waters. I firmly believe they will remain buoyed by his smile and their memories. I too will cling to the frayed edges of these memories that serve to tell the story of a man who was the mechanic of his own journey. He lived his life true to his word. Our goodbye was cut short, but our friendship will span the divide. Thank you, Joe, for sharing your ride with me.

RIP, friend.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Clearing the Clutter

This nightmare plays out in my mind something like a scene from CSI on television. First the camera pans the bedroom of the victim's home, showing you how she lived in disarray. Then, as the music builds with an ominous tone, the camera transports you into her connected bathroom and the investigator pulls back the shower curtain to reveal a grime build-up that is festering with clues about what happened to the victim.

This is when I wake up and shake off the late night TV horror and realize that the real nightmare is that my own home would send those same investigators into a frenzy. They'd have to call in reinforcements to assist with combing through the clutter and bagging up all of the possible evidence.

I insist on order in other areas of my life, but can't really wrap my head or heart around regimented simplicity at home. Don't get me wrong, I don't have fecal matter on the carpet, legions of cats roaming freely, or stacks of phone books in the hallway (although I do have several bags of 80s era VHS tapes in my office waiting for a recycling option that doesn't involve me dismantling them). I like to think of most of it as new age clutter.

There are cords for all manner of electronic devices at the ready. Some still plugged into an outlet, even though the device specifically reminded the user to unplug! Careless disregard for rules...obviously...but nothing as horrific as we see from a legitimate hoarder. Right?

It is impossible not to notice the plethora of artistic demonstrations of my son's creativity. They abound in a variety of stages of completion. Sometimes they are being broken down to re-purpose into yet another masterpiece. Much as I respect his creative process and his need to constantly have his hands involved in a project, I do wish that he'd either sell one of these gems at Sotheby's or learn to work in one area of the house (preferably just the basement or garage).

Alas, it's true that I want to pass off responsibility for controlling my clutter-prone behavior, but my CSI-inspired nightmare has proven that it's time to woman-up and grab my own Swiffer. Starting today, I hereby promise to change my mental channel and start living vicariously through Alice the Housekeeper (we know and love her from The Brady Bunch...if you aren't familiar with Alice you are way too young to be reading this blog!).

I can do this! I can conquer a life full of clutter!

Stay tuned for results....

Friday, June 8, 2012

Five Years of Fun and Commitment

I'm smack dab in the middle of coordinating the Ladies Tee Party Charity Golf Scramble right now. Its amazing how much time and effort this event requires (Seriously, why am I surprised every year and why do I set out to make it bigger, better, more amazing each year? My own fault for sure!). But, when I shake off my exhaustion and arrive at the golf course on the morning of the event each year, I'm always filled with such joy and pride.

It's pride in the team who works tirelessly by my side - whether for months in planning or for the day in serving those who play the event. It's pride in the participants who hire babysitters and take precious holidays from jobs to join us...and who show up with their purses open! It's pride in the aggregate of what we've accomplished for the Sleeping Angels Endowment and for the families whom we'll touch through our Gift of Grace when they lose their precious baby to stillbirth. And, it's pride in my community of West Michigan where more often than not small and large businesses alike say yes to supporting our Endowment and our event. They say yes to Grace.

Yep, I just made myself tear up!

Today, join me in reflecting on five years of fun and commitment to something bigger than one person. Celebrate the heart of philanthropy as seen through the lens of the Ladies Tee Party Charity Golf Scramble. Read my original post on the event...and smile at these snapshots from previous events. Then, join us...Friday, June 15, 2012 at Gracewil Golf Club in Grand Rapids. Be a player, be a volunteer, be a sponsor, be a part of our Gift of Grace through the Sleeping Angels Endowment. Thank you!

2008 -- The first year!

The first winners of the coveted tea pot trophies!

These lovely tea time ladies spurred on the idea of dressing in has become a crazy tradition at our event!


Its a bachelorette party...or at least they dressed for one!

Swinger Rick Penn serving mimosas for our Morning Tea Toast!

These Dr. Seuss fans were jumping for joy!

Cheers! LOL!

All smiles after winning one of the hole event tea cup trophies!

This really isn't your Grandma's Tea Party, ladies! Cheers!

Partners...Kat Schoenborn, the founder of the Sleeping Angels Endowment, and me, the creator of the Ladies Tee Party!

Wowzers...look at all of those volunteers! Love this crew!

One of the take home items in our legendary Swag Bags. Carried in all of the best golf bags in West Michigan!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Family First Communion Photo Anthology

Receiving First Holy Communion is a Catholic right of passage. It's also a Sacrament, of course!

As my son travels this journey (he received his First Holy Communion yesterday, May 6!) I'm reminded of the fact that this was an incredibly important event for each of my siblings and me. It was as if we'd finally reached the age when we could be trusted at the adult table at Church. No more kiddie blessings passed out to us when we marched up to the altar with our parents at mass. No sir, we were BIG TIME!

Connor has reminded me of how this Sacrament required the entire family to dress up and celebrate with whomever was receiving Communion for the first time. In my family it also meant we could have dinner out!

I remember our whole troupe hitting White's Chicken Little on West Avenue in Jackson after my First Holy Communion. I felt so lucky to be out on the town in my swingy, white dress and shiny white shoes. It was as if the whole world knew that I was doing something special. Could they tell just by looking at me that I just drank wine from the chalice? In my case, probably, I'm certain to have spilled it on that white outfit...I wasn't the most tidy little angel! And, if the wine stain on my frock wasn't enough, let's be honest, even in 1975, a little girl wearing all white with a veil on her head at Chicken Little with her eight siblings was a dead giveaway that SOMETHING SPECIAL was going on!

I'd love to share stories from each and every First Holy Communion...but instead I'm just going to give you a short (okay, as short as possible with all of these people to include!) and sweet review of Connor's family history when it comes to this most exciting of all Sacraments (it does involve both a snack and a drink, that qualifies as excitement in my book!). Sit back and enjoy!

1963 - John Joseph Fitzgerald Jr.

1964 - Patrick Michael Fitzgerald

1965 - Marian Marie Fitzgerald

1966 - Mark Timothy Fitzgerald

1967 - Gregory Charles Fitzgerald (note that I'm that adorable baby being squeezed to death by my brother John!)

1971 - Steven David Fitzgerald (First appearance of mom and dad in a Communion celebration photo, someone in the family was finally old enough to be trusted with the camera! Love the tilted kid angle of this photo!)

1975 - Maureen Anne Fitzgerald (...and we've got Kodachrome! Oldest brother John is missing in this photo; he had already joined the Marines and shipped out. We never got all nine of us in one of my mom's command photo ops at a First Holy Communion. Bummer.)

Here's a second photo from my 1975 First Communion (Hush it, family members, it's my blog! Besides, who would want to deny the world another view of the 70s era fashion sported by my parents? Yes, folks, mom's in stripes and dad's in plaid. And, I'm in a smocked, sheer fabric, fairy dress, very hippy-esque! Note that Colleen and I had just recovered from the chicken pox and my mother had cropped our bangs in order for the scabs on our faces to begin healing. Never fear, she knew enough to leave the mullet in back! Party on....).

1975 - Richard Joseph Penn (I had to include Rick too. Connor loves this photo of his dad looking so prayerful, but with a well used basketball hoop within sight! Classic Rick...)

1978 - Colleen Mary Fitzgerald (...and now we have instant photography, thanks to Polaroid! Oh, and I couldn't resist posting both of these photos. First ever cutesy pose in our family album, Colleen with her little prayer book, and then the infamous family pose.)

1981 - Marcia Annette Fitzgerald (In a horrible twist of fate, we can't find the album from the First Communion year for Marcia, the youngest child, of whom there are thousands of photos. Somewhere along the line that album was borrowed out for some reason and hasn't found its way back to my brother's basement where the rest of the family photos are currently stored. Just another reminder of how much we all miss our mom!) We did consider using a photo of either Colleen (Marcia wore the same dress and veil) or Reagan (mother and daughter look a lot like each other, if we blurred it a bit ala the early 80s, you wouldn't know!). Instead, we will just all bow our heads in silence and absorb some of Marcia's know how the youngest child in a family of nine can be...she was clearly robbed by all of her older siblings of this one moment of glory! Ha!

TODAY - Connor John and Reagan Jacqueline (first cousins) shared the spotlight and many giggles when we had these photos taken by our friends from Flourish Photography at our Church a few weeks before their actual First Holy Communion. What a change from our heritage of hastily snapped photos complete with awkward looks and closed eyes, but what a relief for us that we didn't have to worry about pretty photos at the Church after the service!

Congratulations to my little First Communicant (and to his cousin too!) taking a big step in what I hope is a lifelong Faith journey. Bless you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lake Michigan Dip on April 3!

Another Wordless Wednesday...

Our brave trio (plus one who is already submerged) jumping into Lake Michigan on a balmy 44 degree day in April!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Waiting Room

Today I joined a new tribe. The Sisterhood of the Seven.

I was referred to the Betty Ford Diagnostic Breast Center in Grand Rapids when my doctor felt something that she wanted further explored during a standard breast screening at a recent appointment. Nothing to get frantic about, just a more intensive mammogram with an immediate review by a radiologist.

Here's where my active imagination kicks in and I run the risk of spinning completely out of control. While sitting in the Waiting Room in my fashion-retardant gown (Seriously, who designs those things? The ties don't work properly and seem to have no real purpose other than to frustrate the wearer for her lack of manual dexterity.) I noticed that there were actually Eight of us in various stages of exam flipping magazines aimlessly and staring at a spunky, fluff news program on the big screen in the Waiting Room.

You see, a woman's chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in her life is about 1 in 8 (12%). While waiting for the radiologist to review my films and issue my sentence, oops, I mean diagnosis, I found myself panic stricken by the coincidence.

Here was a perfect microcosm for the breast cancer diagnosis statistic. One of us was going to receive crappy news today. In minutes. Right here. Someone was about to learn that her beautiful life was under siege and she would need to fight the beast with every ounce of energy she could muster.

It might be me.

I could be the One.

I found myself sweating more profusely while waiting for the results than before participating in the barbaric test. I hated that I was wishing that this burden would drop into one of the other women's purses. Please, not me.

It seemed so weak, but I couldn't muster the courage to offer myself up in order to lessen the load for one of these other women.  If a gunman had burst through the door and started firing into the room, I would certainly have leaped up and deflected the bullets aimed at the sweet-faced lady in her mid-50s who was leafing through a magazine on my left. Right? Why couldn't I willingly offer to steal away this grim diagnosis?

My name was called and I stalwartly marched toward the technician for the verdict. I felt the searing burn of the others in the room, seven sets of eyes looking at me as I walked away. Were they all wishing silently for me to be the One?

Today, fortune smiled on me. I was accepted into the Sisterhood of the Seven. Its a temporary position, ever fluctuating in its census. But, for today, I am a fortunate girl.

I could not bear to look at the other women as I walked toward the dressing rooms with my news. They would have seen the relief on my face. They would have known. The One remained in the Waiting Room.

She is in my prayers tonight, as are all of the more than 200,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in the past year. Fight on Sisters. Fight on.

(I should note that I do realize that statistics should not be manipulated like this and that it isn't a foregone conclusion that there would be a diagnosis today among the eight women in that room. But, hey, its my blog and this is how my mind works...besides, you try sitting in the Waiting Room and not panicking, its a scary place!)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Of Mice and Mo - A Self-incriminating Post

I'm a bit of a control put it mildly. This sometimes leads to over-the-top incidences taking place in my life.

Over the past couple of weeks I've been preoccupied and worried about the presence of a mouse (or as several people have said, "Get real, where there is one mouse, there are many!") in my garage. In fact, I've seen horrific evidence that one of the little scamps spent some time inside my car. The whole situation turns my stomach and leaves me feeling a bit powerless.

Today is not only a Monday (ugh!) but also the first day back to school and work after a week off for Spring Break. Nothing seemed to move along this morning as effortlessly as it does in my imaginary, perfect life. Instead it felt rather like a train wreck from the first alarm (trust me, this was a snooze button day!).

I'm using this as an excuse for what took place after dropping off my son and niece at their school. I walked out of the school to my car with my thoughts circling around the mouse issue. Its no fun to be a control freak and find yourself outsmarted by a varmint and his pals. Plus, I was feeling very violated and apprehensive about where the darn things might be hiding...waiting to pounce on me.

I opened my car door and started to sit down. That's when I heard a screech sound...just as my tush was hitting the seat.

I freaked and started screaming (yes, in the parking lot of my child's school...not my proudest moment), leaping out of the car (I have a fantastic bruise on my leg from hitting my steering wheel during the emergency exit) with little finesse and lots of awkward and flustered hopping and jumping. My frazzled brain had it all figured out...I was sitting on one of the mice! It'd been waiting for my return!

I whirled around...but, no mouse was in sight. Then I noticed the cool breeze on my leg.

Apparently I ripped my jeans (granted, they are old and a bit threadbare in spots). The screeching sound was the fabric tearing...not a mouse squealing for mercy as my booty squashed him.

I was humiliated...and shaking...and apparently in need of new jeans. I do hope that no exterior security cameras caught this whole escapade on film, reliving it in words is humiliating enough without a digital version existing.

All of this is a great reminder to a prolific control freak that not everything is going to meld at my touch. Although, let's be clear, I did return home and put out more traps for the mice who seem to be haunting my life. I will prevail...just you wait.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Being a Mom-Behind-the-Wheel

One thing I've noticed about being a mom-behind-the-wheel is that I seem to be a better person when I have impressionable young eyes staring at the back of my head in the car. Case in point, the drive to my son's school about two weeks ago. We were waiting at a stop light behind four or five cars on a side street that intersects with a busier thoroughfare. The light for traffic crossing the busy street isn't green for long, so it is often possible for only two or three cars to get through.

On this particular day it looked like we weren't going to get through the light. As I noticed this, I also noticed that the car behind me was pulling around me and the car in front of me, zooming into the left turn lane and darting through the amber/red light. She cut us both off...what the heck!

Now, the pre-mom version of me would have huffed and puffed and shouted all kinds of horrible things at the taillights of that minivan. But, the kinder, milder, mom-behind-the-wheel version of me just exclaimed something to the effect of, "That person is sure in a big hurry!"

My 2nd grade son and niece spent the next few minutes asking about why that person took cuts and where they were going in such a hurry. I offered all kinds of explanations about where they may be going in such a rush. Perhaps they were on the way to the hospital and someone was very ill. Or maybe they were rushing to get to work in order to avoid getting fired. Certainly it was something big!

Imagine my surprise when we pulled into the school parking lot and noticed the speed racer minivan parked in front of the Kindergarten drop off door. The driver hopped out and escorted a child to the door and chatted with the teacher...since the Kindergarten bell rings 5 minutes after the bell for the older kids she had plenty of time.

The two kids I had in tow witnessed it too. They were silent as they looked from me to the scene in front of us. Finally, my niece spoke up. "You aren't gonna say anything to that other mom are you?"

She actually looked nervous. Meanwhile my son said, "Oh yeah, she's gonna yell, cause that was really rude."

I realized that my blissful mom-behind-the-wheel vision of myself must not always come across to others if the two 8-year-olds who typically ride with me were reacting like this. Here I thought I'd been so zen-like in my behavior lately! I quickly assured them that while I would like to take that mom aside and encourage her to be more careful when driving her child...I wouldn't. We'd just have to let this one go.

I must admit, this response was not satisfying at all. But, in this situation I did find some solace by turning my annoyance over to a higher power. I simply swallowed my anger and said a little prayer for the driver. I prayed for red, flashing lights to come screeching up and ticket her. Or, for her to find all four tires on her van flat tomorrow morning. Or, that she'd run out of gas on a dirt road in the middle of the night...well, you get the picture. Inside I'm still mad as heck when others drive like jack wagons, but now that I'm a mom-behind-the-wheel, I am learning to channel my crankiness more effectively.

Bless you!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

There Goes Another One-One!

As we jump headfirst into a fresh, spanking new year, I thought it would be fun to look back at 2011. Every moment of every day was certainly not picture perfect, but gosh darn it -- we made the best of it all!

Enjoy the ride...there is nothing profound here, it won't change your life, but sometimes its fun to sneak a peak into someone else's world for a minute!

January -- Connor was lucky to be a part of a fantastic 1st grade class at Holy Spirit School. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to photograph the class on several occasions and interview the students to write a book about how special and unique they all are. The book was auctioned off to help raise money for the school. It was seriously fun!

February -- Blizzards are incredible...when you are 7!

February -- And, sometimes blizzards result in gorgeous weather for the snow days that follow! Connor and our neighbor, Jenna, catch air while flying down the Doyle Family luge run in their backyard (across the street from our house). Now that's a thrilling way to spend your snow day!

March -- It was fun to cheer our nephew, Nate (12), and his Lumen Christi Titan hockey team on at the state quarter-finals game; but sad to watch him step off the ice for the last time as a Titan after their loss.

March -- We enjoyed watching Disney on Ice at the Van Andel Arena from a suite, front and center for all the action...complete with glow sticks!

March -- Brava to niece, Sarah, for her acting debut with Sparta Middle School!

April -- Spring Break in Longboat Key, FL...ahhhhhhh, nothing but sunshine, surf, and shells!

April -- My favorite photo of the year! The Gulf of Mexico was gorgeous for our Spring Break and we all enjoyed every second we spent basking in it. Connor loved riding the waves on his boogie board. Pure Joy!

April -- A late Easter this year provided gorgeous weather...we were all contemplating golf after brunch! Here is Connor with his cousins, Rachel, Sarah, and Reagan.

May -- Connor played Coach Pitch Little League this year with his dad as a coach. It was such fun to watch his skills develop...and so exciting to see a solid hit or catch.

May -- We cheered for nephew, Nate, as he graduated from Lumen Christi High how time flies!

June -- We gathered in Grand Rapids for the Fitzgerald Family Golf Outing this year and celebrated my brother Mark's first victory as the Cup Winner! Apparently when he had surgery earlier in the year on his spine he scored some kind of bionic golf implant because he beat the competition with room to spare!

July -- Since we had those SWEET red, white, and blue tee shirts from the Family Golf Outing, why not wear them while celebrating Independence Day on the beach with fireworks and family?! Made sense to us! We were treated to a spectacular sunset over Lake Michigan, lovely fireworks over the water from the City of Pentwater, and an up-close, incredible firework display compliments of our neighbors on the beach! Not to mention our own sparklers! Whoopee!

July -- We kicked off our traditional summer vacation week (just the three youngest Fitzgerald's and our three kids, we've done this since the year they were all born!) at Memaw's house by tubing on Lake Pentwater. Connor and Reagan had a blast, and so did their cousin Ryleigh!

August -- Our neighbor's had to postpone their backyard wiffle ball tournament due to bad weather, but that didn't take away from the fun when game day arrived! Connor was once again the honorary bat boy for The Westwinde 5 -- and their team went on to win!

August -- A whirlwind trip to Chicago took us to Wrigley Field for Connor's first Cubs game! The monsoon-like downpour that drenched Connor and Mo also left us with a case of the giggles as we dashed through downtown streets that were flooded, while Rick waited it out at the restaurant!

August -- Connor and I even dragged Rick away from work for a few days at the beach splashing in those gorgeous Lake Michigan waves...and dinner with Memaw and Papa at the Pentwater Yacht Club. Excellent vacation that went by way too fast!

August -- We welcomed nephew, Kyle, home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard when his in-laws hosted a party at their farm in Reed City. Three of his Fitzgerald aunts are pictured here with Kyle...we embarrassed him with lots of smooches!

August -- Suddenly my sweet baby boy is a 2nd grader! Welcome back to school, buddy!

September -- We all cheered as my sister, Marcia, and Dave made it official and joined their families as one on the beach in a touching ceremony. Congratulations!

September -- ArtPrize! Connor and I toured the art twice this he is seconds before this Top Ten contender became attached to his fleece front of the artist. We had a tense moment as I instructed him to walk straight forward...and keep on walking right on out of the GR Public Museum! When we returned a few days later with his cousin we noted that there was a barrier surrounding the piece to keep people from recreating that drama! :-)

 September -- Fall soccer...

September -- ...and football. Connor with friends Joey and Jack on the sidelines at West Catholic during a flag football game.

October -- We celebrated Connor's birthday a week late with a corn maze and hay ride celebration...and chocolate cupcakes!

October -- We had an Angry Bird in the house for Halloween this year!

November -- Connor and Reagan invited their cousin, Mark, (he is an Army Veteran who served a tour of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan) to a special ceremony at their school on Veteran's Day. Love that those red, white, and blue shirts made another appearance! Classic!

December -- This conversation between Connor and Santa looks very serious! I'm happy to report that he did make an appearance at our house this year after all...Connor must have done some fast talking when they visited at his school pancake breakfast fundraiser!

There you go, its been one heck of a year! Thanks for sharing in it and for continuing to check in on my blog. Every writer needs readers...and I truly appreciate you!