Jan 23, 2013

3... 2... 1... BLAST OFF!

The final hours before one leaves for vacation are... long... chaotic... crazed? Can I get an amen? I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself. (ie. The car --and the people!-- must be fully loaded and ready to go when Daddy pulls in the garage. Out of one car and into the other. It's so pretty, and simple, and neat... in my head.) However, there are children to entertain (while packing for yourself and 3 other people), lists to check and *gasp* a schedule to keep!

One could spend these moments tongue-lashing innocent by-standers-- "We're leaving for Nana's when Daddy gets home from work in THREE HOURS... that's SIX more Dora episodes! STOOPPPP ASSKKIINNGGG MEEEEEEE!"-- or... bottle that energy and be effective.

I am a list-maker. I've been known to do things that weren't written on my original list, so I go back and add them to said "original" list just to be able to cross them off. I know, it's sick.


I heartily believe that because some extra time and energy is expended before departing, the arrival back into normalcy isn't such a bummer. (Oh yes, it's still a bummer... just not such a bummer.)

Here's my vacation to-do list... in case it can be of any use to you:

-Do laundry- You will bring plenty back with you. It's best to start with a clean slate! Plus, when you're packing, all wardrobe items are fair game! They're clean and ready to be packed!

-Clean/straighten house- The depth of this one is totally dependent on time allotted. At minimum, straighten up. If you're super-mom, dust, vacuum and clean toilets. (It's best to not let anyone else know if you've gone this far. You. Will. Be. Judged.)

-Update return calendar- Say what? You know. You maximized your vacation time. Therefore, 10 hours after you pull in the garage, life is back into full-swing. That means you're responsible for pre-school snack for 18 starving children; Hubby has to pick up the car that was left for an oil change while you were out of town; and, it's your turn to drive carpool. Taking a few minutes to assess the situation before you depart will make the return to reality no big deal. It might also make you savor those last few minutes of vacation :)

-Pay/mail all bills- People. You're about to spend all your dough on vacation. Pay your bills BEFORE you leave and come home to no worries!

-Stop/hold newspaper and mail- No, you don't want the burglars to know you're away; however, they probably already do because you posted it all over Facebook. Justsayin....

-Print boarding passes- I HATE it when we forget to do this! It's on the list, though, so consider it done.

-Empty trash and recycling- Nothing gnarlier (add it to Websters?) than a weeks worth of trash, rotting inside your home. Throw in a few week-old diapers and... yummy! Spare yourselves this calamity.

-Run dishwasher- If you're super-mom you will also unload it. But, just running it will be satisfactory.

-Close all windows/blinds. Set thermostat at 60* or 78*- depending on season. No need to heat/cool air that is unused.
So there you have it. Go! Play! Vacate! Am I forgetting something??

Jan 5, 2013

Her Galaxy

Some of you loyal readers (all 3) might know my mom is an outstanding real estate salesperson in the metropolis of West Lafayette, Indiana... in the shadow of the golden... er, Purdue University.

What you might not know is that in the early '90's she became a part of an elite group of Realtors from across the country who were dubbed "Howard Brinton's STAR Power Stars." Basically, Howard-- a real estate and leadership guru-- did his homework and acknowledged the top real estate sales people across the country. Each month, he would feature one "STAR of the month," who happened to be the next inductee into this elite group. For my mom, Cathy Russell, that was February of 1994. It was just after my 12th birthday, and I had no idea how it would impact the rest of my life.

Her fellow STARS were (and continue to be) some of her best friends. They've challenge her in her business as they have gathered twice a year for the last [almost] 20 years to swap ideas and inspire one another. They're also sounding boards when a "rainmaker" needs to vent... encouragement when overcome with illness... and a swift kick in the pants when one might start to get lazy [read: behind on technology].

Every summer we got the awesome experience of a week away at an incredible destination... Orlando, San Antonio, New York... and on and on and on. Basically, we'd swim all day in the hotel pool and eat great food while Mom went to sessions and taught others her trade. Then came the years that I got to go as an attendee. I graduated from college and join my mom's team. Talk about not missing a beat... these conferences were awesome! It was like standing in front of a fire-hydrant of information.

Wikipedia says, "Stars can form part of a much larger gravitationally bound structure, such as a cluster or a galaxy."

That's it. This group has become mom's galaxy!

But, as I started thinking about it, they're also part of mine...

Amy Stoehr was mom's first assistant, and left to go be Howard's go-to-gal. She was like a big sister to me! I did (and still kind of do) want to be her ;)
Randy Keys' Christmas parties at the Indianapolis Zoo were always so fun!
Jana Caudill is our next door neighbor at the lake. We live our summers with her family, and have for years!
Beth Mason and Janet Parson's helped mom get me into my wedding gown on that most-sacred of days!
Steve Westmark was at the hospital for the birth of my first born child!

A galaxy indeed!

For the last few days, Mom has been in Utah, celebrating the life lived by Howard Brinton. As I've watched the photos float across my Facebook home page, I started thinking about what Howard meant to little me. He was goofy, and smart, and made an adoring 12-year-old fan feel awesome when he gave ME (!!!) a hug at one of those annual conferences.

"For at least a portion of its life, a star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core, releasing energy that traverses the star's interior and then radiates into outer space."

As I came across that statement, I couldn't help but think of Howard. For a portion of his life-- most of his life-- he shined. The thermonuclear fusion (whatever that technically means...) in his core released energy... and then it radiated! He poured into others, helping them to become the best of the best!

At church last Sunday, the pastor challenged us with this question:

Howard's seems so clear to me: Be a shining star in the galaxy where God has placed you.

Thank you, Howard, for bringing mom into your group. And, thank you STARs, for being the galaxy in which mom perfectly fits.