Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Evolution of Friendship

When I was a small child, my family lived in a trailer park in Inver Grove Heights.  It was there, amidst my humble surroundings, that I met my best friend Amy who lived two trailers down from me.  From the age of two, we became inseparable.  Through random photos and a slightly hazy memory, I can recall the two of us playing "whale" in a little pool in my yard.  We spent hours in the sandbox, took trips to the beach with Amy's mom, who served as my daycare provider for a while, and cheered our dads on as they totaled cars in the occasional demolition derby.  We went to our first Sunday School class together, and played in the back of my dad's van (black '70's version).  Life in the trailer park was simple, and so was our friendship.  We shared dolls and other toys and most of all, giggles.

Just before Kindergarten, my parents built a new house and we moved to Apple Valley.  Around this same time, Amy's family moved to Cottage Grove.  Though separated by a river, our friendship remained very much intact and we were fortunate that our parents were also such good friends. We had many sleepovers and our families took us camping frequently in the summertime.  We looked a lot alike throughout grade school and were mistaken for sisters on a regular basis, which is an occurrence that delighted us to no end.  One such instance was in Sunday School, when we were supposed to memorize and recite the books of the Bible.  I had no problem with this assignment, but my biblically challenged friend Amy did.  So one Sunday she happened to be absent, and I did what any best friend and look-alike would do...I pretended I was Amy for the day.  The teacher was none-the-wiser and I recited the books of the Bible so Amy could get the credit.  I'm not sure God was amused at the fib, but I'm sure He could appreciate the loyalty I showed to my best friend.

My parents divorced when I was nine and even though the dynamics of our parents' friendships changed, our moms remained very good friends and my friendship with Amy did not falter a bit.  My mom's new marriage eventually took us to Afton, where I spent my junior high years, but with Amy still in Cottage Grove, we saw each other often.  My favorite activity during these years was our "modeling" sessions.  We would try on every outfit in our closets and take pictures on our old flashbulb cameras.  Unlike the modern days of digital cameras and Facebook uploads, we then had to wait for a mom to take the film in and get it developed for us, but the results were always hilarious.  Since we attended different schools, we continued the sleepovers and started keeping notebook journals where we would write notes back and forth to each other.  I still have these notebooks and they are more entertaining than any reality show on tv.

Our time in Afton was short-lived for several different reasons, and just before 10th grade, we moved to Cottage Grove and I couldn't have been more excited to attend high school with Amy.  In reading our notebooks, I can now tell there was some tension there at first, as I believe Amy was a little nervous about my coming into her "turf" and making friends, and I was nervous about whether I would fit in.  But as soon as school started, it became quickly obvious that, even though we were soul sisters to the very core, our high school careers took us in different directions.  Though we had a couple friends in common, we ran in completely different crowds.  None of that mattered, though, because Amy was still the one in whom I confided every secret and she was still the one I would choose to spend a Friday or Saturday night with, whenever we had the chance.  There were crushes and dates and eventually boyfriends that gave us plenty to talk about.  I remember when she and one studly football player and upper classman broke up after several months of dating.  I made sure to glare at him and give him dirty looks when I cheered at the football game the next Friday night.  I mean, what are best friends for, right?  As most chums do, we also traded clothes, gave each other nicknames in high school and had many wacky adventures, one of which took us up north to a rented trailer at Lake of the Woods for a week by ourselves.  And we spent a lot of time perfecting the art of making our bangs stand up as tall as possible amongst our thickly permed, but perfectly styled hair.

We had fights, too.  I didn't always agree with her choices, nor she mine.  And there may have been a particular guy that I dated that she really liked, which I admit now was a very selfish thing for me to do.  Thank God Amy was the forgiving type of friend.  We made it through those years and when it was time for college, I watched her leave town to go live in a dorm on campus at Southwest State while I decided to stay at home and attend community college until I could figure out what the heck I wanted to do with my life.  During our college years, we didn't see each other quite as often, but made sure we hit a GB Leighton concert whenever we could.  Then Amy left her school down south to attend Hamline, which was awesome, and allowed us to hang out a little more.  There were some more boyfriends and personal struggles for each of us during those years, so our friendship continued to be one of support and encouragement.

We each met our husbands around the same time and as our relationships with them deepened, our own wild excursions grew fewer.  Our talks now were more about settling down and getting married and buying houses.  What our friendship offered during these years was an occasional night out for some girl time or an ear to listen when we were having difficulties with our then-boyfriends, and most of all, when the time came, to serve as the absolute best maids of honor for each other in our respective weddings. 

We went on to have babies around the same time and, because of the demands of marriage and motherhood, and because we live in completely opposite ends of the cities, for several years we only made time to see each other a couple times a year. During this time, we often lent an ear via telephone for the exchange of parenting tips, or to share cute kid stories.  Again, we were just there to lend support whenever the other needed it.

Fast forward several years, and Amy and I just attended our 20-year high school reunion.  Amy didn't share my love for school back in the day, but with the help of a couple other of her besties, we got her to attend the reunion and she stayed much longer than expected.  And I do have to say, the woman looks amazing!  I am so glad that our friendship has stood the test of time.  Whatever life throws at us, I know we will always be there for each other, regardless of the geographical distance that separates us.  The ups-and-downs of marriage and parenthood, work stress and everything else in between, are the things that continue to tie us closer together. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chicken Wisdom

My husband tossed the idea around for years before we got them, and I was never really sure it was a good idea.  But since I am the ever-supportive wife, a few years ago our back yard became home to a flock of chickens.  I grew up in suburbia and am now a chicken farmer.  I have to admit, though, they have really grown on me.  I pet them and thank them for a job well done when I go to collect the eggs.  I occasionally pick one up and carry it around like a small pet dog.  They really are nice animals to have around and don't require a whole lot of effort to raise.  And the fresh eggs are marvelous.

As I've gotten to know my chickens and they have become a part of our family, I am constantly reminded of how much we humans have learned from the chicken.  I like to call it "Chicken Wisdom."
  • "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."  This is a lesson that I can't seem to learn completely, but I keep trying.
  • Sometimes you gotta "rule the roost."  And sometimes you gotta just step back and let someone else be in charge.
  • In almost every situation there can be "too many roosters, and not enough hens." And when those roosters start strutting their stuff just a little too much, just ignore them and get back to what you know you do well.
  • In life, there is a "pecking order."  It's hardly ever a good thing to be at the bottom of that order.
  • Being "cooped up" for too long can make anyone a little crazy.  Anyone who lives in MN during the long, cold winters can attest to that.
  • I'll never know "what came first: the chicken or the egg," but I know that God put one of them on this earth.
  • It's okay to 'ruffle feathers' a little along the way, as long as you keep it friendly and don't draw blood.
Do you have some Chicken Wisdom to share?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Diary of a Scrapaholic

I'm on a mission to organize my scrapbooking and cardmaking supplies.  Since I don't have a room I can dedicate to my crafting habit (addiction) just yet, my vast collection of albums, papers, stickers, ribbons and other embellishments have taken over every spare corner, nook and cranny in my house.  Until just recently, it occupied my closet, my kids' closets, the linen closet, the basement, the underside of my bed, the walkway that goes between my bedroom and the baby nursery (future craft room), and even the laundry room.  My husband, bless his heart, must want to open the nearby window and start whipping stuff out of it every time he steps on some of my supplies on his side of the bedroom.  He never says anything, though.  Either he has faith that one day I will get it cleaned up and feels it best not to stir the pot at this time, or he feels it's a lost cause and feels it best not to stir the pot ever.  Whatever the reason, I appreciate his current silence on the subject.

I do promise to give it some semblance of order while I wait patiently for the day when I can claim the nursery as my new craft room (when we finish our basement and move one or both of the boys down there).  And so I've decided to document the transformation in pictures and post them here on my blog.  Stay tuned for some organizational fun!

I started by gathering most of my supplies into one area so I could assess the situation.  This is most of the fun stuff (paper, stickers, embellishments) and I have already begun to purge old items and scraps, so it is already scaled back just a tad from where I started.  I would like to note that each of the totes and cases you see is absolutely full.

I brought in a table in hopes of creating a workspace to work on my cards and albums in all of my abundant spare time.  At least it gives me a place to put all the small items that don't have homes yet.  But wait!  There's more...

This is the walkway to the nursery, mostly lined with stacks of albums, pictures and baby keepsakes and mementos which will eventually be put into albums.  I have another storage tote full of these types of items in the basement.

And one last place...the hall linen closet, with more empty albums, refill pages, boxes of photos, and some other odds 'n ends.  Can anyone pick out the Oakland Jr. High lettermans letter sitting on top of one of the stacks??  (Proudly earned in 9th grade cheerleading.)

So come along with me on my journey to organize!  I gracefully accept organizational tips and suggestions, too.  I can't go at this alone.  And I better get movin' on it, cuz look what the mail lady just delivered today.  Yeeeeeee!!