Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day ~

To those who serve, who have served and who will serve ...

including my studly Grandpa
(I totally would have dated him)

Byron Eugene McKinnon, Army


and my little bro ...

Timothy Steven McKinnon, Navy


Now grab a big ole' box of
... and push PLAY!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's a gamble ...

As my kids grow up, I find myself perplexed! Part of me will always be the mother of my wee ones, and part of me is having adult conversations with the wee ones who now shave ... it's weird.

This weekend, Matthew's girlfriend turned 21-years-old. It's a big birthday! They thought it would be fun to go check out a casino to show off her "legalness" with a little bit of gambling.

I remember when I turned 18. I chose to go see my first Rated R movie ... and drink a Pepsi because I was an adult! Between the caffeine and Rambo, I was an official rebel and I soon moved out of the house only to continue to make other stupid decisions. It's what some young adults do.

But I sure didn't share these stupid experiences with my parents ... until they were grandparents and had moved onto their next level of parenting ... I thought that's how it worked.

So when Matthew asked me and Gary to go with them to the casino ... I was completely torn right down the middle confused!

My first thought was to lecture him on the evils of gambling and how people lose everything near and dear to them as they sit at the slot machines ... and they all smoke and dress badly ... "Don't ever smoke, Matthew!"

Oh no! I had failed as a parent indeed ...
he wants to gamble,
and wear polyester!

My second thought (which came to me before the first thought took a complete leave of absence) was how flattered I was that my adult kids wanted to play with their parents! I was honored that they even wanted to be seen with a couple of rebellious has-beens! Honored I tell you! And then I had to remind myself that my first-born is now 22-years-old, living on his own, and making his own good decisions ... of course we would accompany him! What would I wear?!

Gary has played poker with his Dad since he was a little tyke. They play across the street every Tuesday night and it was high time to pass on some of this familial tradition. Father & son sitting at a green felt table passing on the knowledge of the fathers that came before them (Gary had different forefathers than I).

Matthew made sure that I knew he had been taught some fine values at home ... and that he was very cheap. He brought with him the $20 that they would have spent at the movies and that was all they would experience with.

We had a great night. We played some cards, we had a nice dinner and fun conversation ... adult conversation ... with my wee one who shaves (sometimes).

I am no longer perplexed. I was glad that we went. While I don't admonish gambling away resources that are necessary to thrive on, I do believe that parenting is a gamble. You do the best that you can in the short time that you have and then you step back and watch the chips fall where they may ... hoping and praying with every ounce of your being that you did something right that will produce a good and productive human being.

And you relish being invited to witness any of it!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Check Marks ~

~ Wedding - check.

~ Mission Call - check.

~ Energy back - so close!

Everything went beautifully. She was beautiful, the place was beautiful, the day was beautiful. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera ... so stay tuned to her blog to see a whole lot of beautiful.

On our way out the door to the wedding, the mailman (actually it was a mail lady) pulled up ... with Keaton's mission call in hand. We ran back in the house, gathered in the living room, surrounded Keaton and listened as he read his call from the Prophet. His voice quivered and he shed a couple of happy tears as we learned that he would spend the next two years in the Pocatello, Idaho Mission field. This mission takes in the Western side of Wyoming, almost all of Montana and the Northern pieces of Nevada and Utah as well. He wanted cold ... he got cold. He wanted English speaking ... I've heard that they have their own versions. The boy couldn't be more excited. It's perfect. He reports on August 18 ... the best possible time to leave Arizona. Perfect.

With all that has happened, I got tired. I got REAL tired. My sister Julie was in town, so we decided to take a little Honeymoon of our own. We took a 20 minute road trip to Chandler, AZ and we booked two nights in a Courtyard hotel ... and we slept. We went to a movie, Julie got her legs waxed, we had a free hot breakfast each morning and one night we splurged on a steak dinner. It was WONDERFUL! We called it training since Julie's husband takes training trips for his work ... we've been wanting a training trip of our own. We didn't need much, and it did the trick. I feel completely trained! Again, no camera ... alas no pictures.

K & K got home from their honeymoon a couple of hours ago and they're still happy. Grandma Freda is now staying in her room for the next week and Julie finally went home. I miss her already.

It's truly been the perfect week. Hard work & lofty goals achieved, followed by rest and relaxation. Boo yah!

A special thank you to our Utah peeps and Grandma Freda for coming so far to support the happy couple ... to Jenny & Michelle for putting up the most adorable Candy Bar in the history of candy ... and to Nicolle for putting out some stellar decorations that defined Kacey's wishes. Thank you so much!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Busting at the Seams !

Today is most likely the day that we find out where Keaton will spend his next two years.

Tomorrow is the day that Kacey begins the rest of her life.

Last night we took both of them to the Temple.

This morning is the day my stomach is screaming ...





And if so, where exactly might my seams be located,
because this could be really embarrassing.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hail to the Chief ~

Last week, Jake decided to run for Student Body President at his school. He responsibly went to the mandatory meeting to receive instruction on guidelines of the race ... because nobody likes a dirty political campaign ... and then he came home to announce his new adventure.

In the back of my mind (okay who am I kidding ... it was right up front in my mind) all I could think of was "WE'RE PLANNING A FRICKIN' WEDDING RIGHT NOW ... THIS IS HORRIBLE TIMING!" But I patted him on the back and told him to press forward.

He made some posters and hung them sporadically around the junior high campus. He came up with a cute slogan "VOTE JAKE SHAKER for DECISION MAKER", and passed out some cute handouts. His speech was taped and would be shown to the nation of 7th & 8th graders during 2nd hour on Friday. All that needed to be done was done, and the election day was here.

Friday morning, we hopped up early and decorated Kacey's car with clever slogans (because she has a sunroof and this would prove to play an important role on our way to school) and we were off to make sure we drew attention to our bad selves.

We piled kids in the car, handed them each an American flag, and Kacey blared her previously downloaded iTunes (specially prepared for Jake's campaign). For one slow mile, we drove to the tunes of "Hail to the Chief" and the Phoenix Sun's song as Jake stood out the sunroof and his little friend Maddy and little brother Garrison waved their proud American flags and shouted "Vote for Jake!" This continued throughout the parking lots and repeated several times thereafter.

My role that morning was clear. Be loud, and be supportive. I honked that horn like it had never been honked before. I waved to the crowd of young teenagers and gave them a very cool thumbs up as if to say ... "I have no pride whatsoever ... please just vote for my son."

During this little drive, I noticed that Kacey wasn't nearly as pumped up as I was ... in fact, she wore large sunglasses and kept one hand over her face for nearly the entire episode! I was a bit baffled by this. Kacey is fun and she loves her brother! Why wasn't she doing the chicken dance out her window or something equally as attention grabbing???

This morning ... at 3:30 a.m. ... it's all clear to me. There is only one reason that any of us mothers do any of this crazy stuff. BECAUSE WE ARE MOTHERS. You can love any child to pieces, but nothing compares to a mother's love ... and nothing stands in the way of it.

Two hours after the now infamous drive, I sat in the school office with other mothers as we watched our candidates ... the fruit of our loins ... project their previously taped speeches across the airwaves of young, judgmental students and teachers. Never before had I been so proud and downright amazed at the courage of so many kids. Junior High is, in my opinion, the most scary time of life! And here were these confident, bold and beautiful young men and women standing up in front of everyone and in different elements ... performing for their peers. I was completely petrified for them ... and my only role was to sit and watch the television screen!

After this point, it didn't matter who won. Jake didn't. In my eyes, these kids were incredibly brave and powerful for putting themselves out there.

This morning ... at 4:00 a.m. ... it's all clear to me. I'll bet that every one of those kids have awesome mothers. They are being raised with the unconditional love of a mother, which makes them fearless. The power of mothers is strong, and is moving mountains in a very scary world right now. Sure, they probably have great fathers as well ... but today is Mother's Day and today we get the glory.

So today I shout HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to every mother ...
and exclaim Hail to the Chief of every child.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The waiting begins ...

This month is turning into a myriad of emotions, sandwiched in between massive force-fields of adrenalin.

Besides the wedding plans and the drama of letting Kacey skip into the sunset without me, I am faced with losing Keaton soon as well!

Tonight his mission papers were all turned in ... and now we wait.

This is quite possibly the hardest part of the mission ... not knowing.

These amazing young men & women deciding to turn two years of their lives over to the Lord for whatever He has in store ... wherever He would like it to transpire ... and they just sit and wonder where it will be, waiting to be told and anxious to accept!

Will he need heavy coats accompanied by ear muffs and scarves or will he be primed and ready for the warmest of climates? Will he need to learn another language or enjoy a new accent? Will he stay under Obama's regulation (I use that phrase loosely) or learn under new leadership? Will he enjoy juicy cheeseburgers or dine on other parts of cattle ... or other parts of ... parts?

His whole life for the next two years is completely up in the air starting right now! For the next two weeks or so, I will have anxiety in my chest as I walk toward the mailbox.

For those of you who are not familiar with how the Mormons handle the callings of their missionaries ... you can read about it HERE. It's actually pretty magnificent and completely selfless.

I'm super proud of Keaton for deciding to serve the Lord. At nineteen-years-old, there are lots of other things he could choose to do. None of them, however, would be nearly as rewarding.

And so we wait.