Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Mother

Well today is my Mother’s XX Birthday. If I mentioned how old on the blog, I think I may have to buy my way back into their will.

I have mentioned her in several blogs I have done regarding mother’s day and what she means to us all. She worked right until the time I was born and then stayed at home. She raised me to: 1. Love God, 2. Love your family, and 3. To think of others before you. If it sounds familiar, you can check out the Bible and the Ten Commandments!

She never relented on those with myself or my brother who was born nearly eight years after me. I remember how she ran this Star program with me that for every chore I did, I got a Star. Every time I did something bad or forgot to do something, I had a Star taken away from my chart. Usually in the end, I would say I would 30break even. I could cash my Stars in for a trip to Dairy Queen or to a local candy store, Brownies. I would have to be extremely good for a week to even have a chance at one of those. Not that the program was hard, I was always making her mad and losing stars all over the place.

We struggled with our relationship growing up. We do differ in our personality; however, she never adapted to me. She knew what her views were correct and she made sure that was drilled into me. Very rarely now will you not hear me say “No” or “Yes” and not have it followed by a “Sir” or “Mam.”

She made sure me and my brother always were given the best chance to grow into a Christian man. She would support us no matter what. I have mentioned this in a previous blog a year ago; however, this is how I will always remember my mom. I was twenty years old and a good friend had recently passed away. His funeral was out of state and she made sure I was going to get there on a road trip. We left the day of her birthday. She could care less if I was there for her birthday or if I got her anything. What she cared about was her son getting to where he needed to be. It showed me the sacrifice of a mother.

DSC05132She has been to many places around the country and in Europe. In fact, this weekend she is in one of her favorite cities with my dad in Chicago. However, she is always thinking of her family no matter where she is. Even today, when we called her to wish her happy birthday, she is asking about her grandson and how he is doing. Wanting to ask about my work and how my wife has been doing. We have a present and a card waiting for her when she gets back, but she does not care about that. She got to hear from those she loves. That is what matters.

I am thankful I married to a woman who I see a lot of the same characteristics of my mother. Nonetheless, my mother is one of a kind and I am truly blessed to call her my mother and my son’s nana!

Mom, happy birthday today! We love you!

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day–Do We Remember?

Memorial Day always used to signal the start of summer for me. To be honest, it usually meant a jammed packed weekend of baseball games. We would play about five games in three days and just run ourselves into the ground. But throughout the years, there is so much more to this holiday then getting a day off or playing sports.

Both of my grandfathers served in the military, which I described in my Memorial Day Blog last year. Not too many other family members served in my family; however, I am learning more and more with each year, how important of a holiday Memorial Day represents.

When I was 11 years old, my mother’s father passed away. He was a veteran from WWII and Korea. I will always remember a certain moment from my papa’s funeral. We were in the car behind the hearse and driving through Shreveport, LA. And there, on the side of the rode, I saw a man saluting my papa. He did not know him; however, he saw the flag covering his coffin and knew how to respond. He remembered the importance of what he did for his country.

As I type this, I have the movie Taking Chance (2009) starring Kevin Bacon in the background. It is based on the true story of Lt. Col. Mike Strobel be the military escort of PFC Chance Phelps, who died while fighting in Iraq. All along the way, he sees some people who do not care who or why he is there, while others show the respect that someone who died for our country deserves.

There is a scene in the movie that after all the flying, they have to drive to his hometown in Wyoming. While driving, an eighteen wheel truck begins to pass the hearse when he turns on his headlights and takes off his hat. This begins the process of car after car showing the respect PFC Phelps deserved. It makes me think of my papa and that man on the side of the road.

The wife wonders why I watch this movie so much. Besides the fact I like the movie, it reminds me of all those who have paid the ultimate price so that we can remain free. So many young men and women will not make it back home to see all the lives that they touch.

Remember those who gave their lives so we can enjoy the freedom we do enjoy each day. I want to say a special thank you to the family of Christopher Katzenberger, medic in C Company who lost his life on August 9, 2005. You can read more about him and his service by clicking on his name. He is a fellow alumni from the class of 1998 from DeSmet Jesuit High School. I knew him only through school and did not cross paths after graduation. None the less, because of his service to our country, I am proud to say I went to high school with him. Thank you Chris for all you did for our country.

In honor of Memorial Day, watch this clip from a spectator who taped the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery I saw this in person once and it is quite powerful!

Changing of the Guard

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day–32nd and 2nd

So Mother’s Day has always been about making sure that we got mom a card and some sort of gift. I always had a random price in my head on how much I required myself to spend on her. Once my brother got to a certain age, there was the male ego always going off in my head and made me want to get the “better” present. I do not think my mother saw that at all. I think she saw two sons who were trying to go out of their way to make sure that she was appreciated.

33Both my brother and I (sorry Andrew but you have to admit this) think we could have been more appreciative sons to our mother. My mom always had a house full of boys. One husband, two sons, and throughout the years a dog and two cats. ALL BOYS! She put up with a lot from us.

As I look back now on my mother’s 32nd Mother’s Day, I want to say that I have the best mom a son could have, no questions asked. Mom, you sacrificed so many things for us throughout the years so that we could have a better life. This is a woman that lets the light of Christ shine through her to her family. Thank you for always being there as we go through struggles in our life as well. When a friend of mine passed away just two years ago, the first call I made was to my mother. Why is that? I was almost 29 years old and had just gotten married and my first call was to my mother. She had been there for me through those trials before and I knew that she would be there for me again.

Thanks mom. I love you!

wDSC_0056Now Mother’s Day to me is about experiences. I do not have to purchase that perfect present for someone. Yesterday, after coming home from work, we went to Old Town St. Charles. This is a special place for the wife and me. When we were dating and we came to St. Louis to visit, we went over to Old Town so she could do some shopping and we could meet up with old friends of mine for dinner. Well, as we are walking around through December temperatures here in Missouri, I suddenly realized something. I do not want to spend any of these moments with anyone other than this woman for the rest of my life. It was God smacking me in the head saying, “Hey, you are going to marry this woman. Who else would you go shopping with in these temperatures???”

So yesterday, after a nice late lunch, we went to one of her shops that she always has to visit when down there. She got her tea and spices to try out. She loves that type of stuff and I love trying out the samples they have in the shop. I asked her if that was all she wanted to do in St. Charles and she smiled and said yes. You could tell she did not care about the bigger item shops to purchase something nicer or more expensive. She just wanted to spend some time with her boys at a place that means so much to her. That is what she cares about, the moments that make us thankful.

I am thankful to have a wife that treasures those moments. She still got a gift from her boys, but it will not compare to that of an experience.

I love you Stephanie! Happy 2nd Mother’s Day.

First picture taken by my father after my high school graduation May 1998.

Second picture taken by Jeff Koziatek, of TallHippo Art & Photography. Check out more of his work at