Angels Among Us

imagesI met a girl named Lisa yesterday.  Well, I didn’t actually officially meet her, we just happened to be sitting next to each other at the salon while we were getting our nails done.  Yes. That was my me time for the month and I’ll be honest – I really just wanted to check out and relax in the little massage chair and not have to talk to anyone.  But Lisa, she was on the phone….the whole time. And Lisa had a strong voice.  You know, the kind that says, ‘I get things done.’

It was hard not to hear her conversation either…it went something like this:

“Hi, my name is Lisa and this morning I found a homeless woman and her three year old daughter by the side of the road and I am looking for a shelter to house them, do you have any availability?”

While we sat there, Lisa continued to call.  Shelter after shelter after shelter.  She had a long list and refused to quit.

In between calls, she gave us the back story.  The young girl, who was somewhere between 25 and 35 years old, had a rough past, but managed to complete paralegal school and has been living in a hotel with her 3 year old daughter.  It costs her $60 a day to keep that roof over her head, and today, she was out by the side of the road.

Lisa saw her while driving down the Interstate and pulled over out of concern for the child.

“It was hot out,” Lisa said.   “And, when I pulled over to ask if they needed help, the little girl, who seemed happy, asked for a drink. So, I gave her my daughter’s sippy cup of juice from the back seat because I figured we were well past sharing germs at that point.”

Lisa listened to the young mom’s story and then took her to a hotel.  She even paid for a two night stay.  Then, Lisa spent the rest of her afternoon, one that she had planned to enjoy a little “me time” at the salon- to help a stranger. Oh, Lisa also has a job and a baby.

I was stunned at her random act of kindness and tried to help.  I mean, she was on the phone trying to save someone’s life and I was just sitting there.  Talk about feeling helpless and stupid..really, really stupid.  I had volunteered at the City Rescue Mission, a local shelter with a successful program to help get people back on their feet (she had already left them a message) but I told her to keep calling them until she got a live voice because I knew they took women with children.  Some shelters only take men, some only take women, some only take those with substance abuse issues, others were full and not taking anyone. I learned a great deal about the services available to the homeless in my community and the long waiting lists.  Every one of them has a long waiting list. Then, I called the Senator, because he knows of all the local resources out there to help women in this kind of situation, and surely there were more of them…but Lisa had already called them all.

When Lisa’s nails were done and she left, I sat there wondering what would happen to the young mom and her daughter.  Were they at the hotel when Lisa checked on them later that day?  Was she able to find a place for them to stay? How did this situation end…or, was it really just beginning?  I sat there wondering would I have done the same thing? Would I have pulled over like Lisa to ask a stranger if she and her child needed help? Would I have taken her to a shelter? Or, paid for a hotel?  Would I have spent an hour and a half on the phone trying to secure a safe place for a homeless woman…especially one with this kind of troubled background?  I don’t know.  Would you?

Lisa did.

First Day

Today was the first day of school for our kiddos.  The tall guy on the right is a senior. He is my first born and this is not easy, knowing he will leave the nest soon.

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But, hey.  At least we know that shoe polishing cars is still in style.

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I’m wondering how long this will be on his truck.  I mean…”Sexy” and “Hawt” sound pretty good if you’re seventeen and single.  Oh my goodness! Shaping up to be a fun Fall folks!

Chicago

The Senator and I just returned from a quick trip to the Windy City for a legislative conference and man was it fun!

We have been to this particular meeting before and it is always packed.  Packed with people and speakers and meetings and events and usually in a fun city with lots of things for the un-elected, un-official “guests” to do….like shop, dine and sight see.

The first year the Senator was in office, this meeting was held in none other than Washington DC, so you can only imagine how much I enjoyed his participation.  In fact, that year we even took the kids with us, because it seemed like a good opportunity to show them our nation’s Capitol.  We even road tripped it down to Monticello and Williamsburg because I am a sucker like that for history!

cs9This year, it was just me and my man attending because our kids had their own activities and events going on at home. It happens.  But, I didn’t feel so bad considering they have been with us to Chicago for this very same meeting a few years back.

DSCN0851 DSCN0834They really didn’t miss all that much…well, except the protestors.  Yes, there were protestors at this meeting protesting and there were lots of police keeping them in line.

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That was the only photo I managed to swipe but boy do I wish I had gotten a few shots of their signs….they were, uh, interesting to say the least.

Anyway, my Senator went to meetings and I shopped and walked and walked and shopped and we met some of our favorite people at some fabulous places with great views of the city and some incredible food!  And, for that, and really for all of these experiences, I am thankful!

photo photoThankful to be home too!

Summer.

This summer has flown by much to quickly.  When the roofers showed up at dawn this morning (because our poor roof has been pummeled repeatedly by recent hail storms), it reminded me of just how early my day begins when the school bell rings. I have become rather accustomed to NOT having to wake up so bright and early. No, let me just be really honest and admit that I love being able to sleep in a bit, and I really love it when my kids get to sleep in…a bit. Or, more than a bit.  My 13-year-old will sleep  any chance she gets. My 17 year old sleeps in because he keeps late hours-a topic for a completely different conversation! But, the quiet morning time for me that I have discovered is soon coming to an end.  Enter, the dark thirty wake up, run two miles, figure out breakfast, make sure everyone is up and moving, fed, back packs in order, homework done and ready to go, off to school on time etc…. you know the drill.

Summer is almost over and I have this sinking feeling inside…and not just for the early alarm clock to come, but really, because we have had a seriously terrific last couple of months.

Here are some of the highlights that I will cherish and savor. Especially, on those mornings where everyone is grumpy and dragging their feet and I am longing for my happy place!

Ahhh, Florida.  How I love you so!

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Or, my new happy place…discovered with some seriously special friends!

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I could live here…. really, I could!

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Or here, at our annual 4th of July happy place….

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With our happy friends.

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And kids who are growing up faster than I want to think about….

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In fact,  that big boy in blue had the audacity to go to summer school at my alma mater…an old, happy place!

This was hard…really hard….to let him pretend he is in college already.  Even though I know he’s on deck to find that happy place of his own soon.

photoIn fact, this next year is going to fly right on by!

My parents will attest to that since we just capped off the summer celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary… in their ‘happy place.’

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Northern New Mexico is truly beautiful…

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And the perfect place to celebrate two very special people.

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Or, the perfect way to wind down the past couple of wonderful months…
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On deck…a legislative conference in Chicago. Fun, because it is just me and my Senator….but, certainly a reality check that summer is coming to a close.

Hope your summer was full of fun memories and happy places!

Celebrating America!

So thankful to be a mom in America! Happy Independence Day y’all!

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Here’s to the Men!

Thankful today for the incredible men in my life!

I thought about writing a little bit about each one, but really was at a loss for just how awesome these guys are and how much they mean to me.  SO, I decided to jot down a few totally random words that came to mind!

My dad.  Athlete. Academic. Compassionate. Doctor. Dedicated. Devoted. Insightful.  Kind. Loving. Loyal. Teacher. Nature Lover. Bird Watcher….Yeah, Bird Watcher.  I think we’ve been teasing him about the bird watching for twenty years now.  Love this man and am thankful for him and my mother…his partner in crime!

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My husband.  Businessman. Father. Senator. Thoughtful. Fun. Funny. Sentimental. Calm, Cool & Collected. Compassionate. Loyal. Hardworking. Dedicated. Nostalgic. Historian.  Yes, historian….if you count preserving pieces of history…our history…Oklahoma history… objects and artifacts…at our home. Someday, I am going to have to rent space for all of these collected (hoarded) items.  I have written about his button collection before…but there is so, so much more to this man’s love of history….And, I love him so.

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And, our son.

I won’t provide words to describe him here as I imagine there would be some form of repercussion from this 6’3″ seventeen year old.  However, he has morphed into such a fine young man…which isn’t too surprising considering the examples he has been given.

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Love you boys and am so thankful for all of the love and kindness you share with us on a daily basis!

My Lunch with Kathie Lee

A few weeks ago I was in New York for an American Mothers conference. (Great organization with a beautiful history…more about them soon). Anyway, Kathie Lee Gifford was receiving an award and was the featured speaker at lunch…a lunch I was presiding over in my role as president of the national organization…so I got to sit by her for a while and present her with the award. But man I’ve got to tell you, she was not at ALL what I thought she would be…I have watched her on t.v. on and off for years and in my own sheltered mind I had this image of her as being …well, I don’t know how to really describe what I thought she was…but that bubble has burst.  This woman was absolutely beautiful inside and out…truly remarkable, strong and hysterical in a down to earth sort of way. And I will certainly cherish the the couple of hours I shared in her company for a long, long time.

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Oklahoma Proud

933950_10200753688157611_950925166_nDevastated.  Stunned. Paralyzed by the horrific storm that blew through my great state yesterday afternoon.

I will never forget this day, May 20th, 2013.

I will never forget what I saw unfold.

I will never forget watching the massive tornado from the calm of my parent’s basement with both children and our dog by my side.  Grateful to have shelter from the storm.

Thankful to be able to text back and forth with my Senator who was watching live from the Capitol.  I am sure my mom felt the same, knowing my dad was safe at the major hospital where he works.  Friends from far away who had the news on began to call, email and text.

This storm was different. It was quick to appear yet determined. It was destructive and deadly.

The Senator was closer to it than we were.  Some of his colleagues had family and friends in its path. We did not.  There are no words to describe how blessed we feel yet so, so heartsick for those who have suffered.  It is as if the dark clouds are still hovering overhead.

Yet, so many Oklahomans are stepping up to help. That is the Oklahoma way.  The Oklahoma standard. We are good neighbors and friends.  Kindness and compassion for one another is abundant.  The stories that will unfold from this tragedy will be nothing short of heroic and we are already hearing about them.  Helping them….The teachers who saved children by laying on top of them as the tornado passed overhead, neighbors pulling each other from the wreckage or the abundance of good Samaritans being turned away so the first responders could respond… so many good Samaritans offering their boots on the ground and their skilled assistance having to be re-directed.  Consequently, trucks of supplies are being loaded and reloaded and necessities delivered to those suffering and those displaced. These trucks will be full as long as needed.  People are donating their dollars, supplies and prayers.  Lots and lots of prayers.

Rest assured, Oklahomans will re-build.  They are a strong people…a resilient people, a faithful people…a proud people. And, I feel oh so blessed to call Oklahoma home.

A few weeks ago…

So much has happened this legislative session!  It is amazing how much can happen in a few short months.  Some good, some bad and some ugly all mixed together.  One of the happy highlights for me is when my Senator invites his colleagues over for a casual home-cooked dinner.  He has done it twice this session and he did it again a few weeks ago. I think this last time was one of the best.  Although, I always say that.

A few weeks ago, the guest list was a little longer.  A little broader (meaning not all Senators).  I think we had a few from the House, a staffer from the Governor’s office and a Corporation Commissioner. So, basically almost all branches of government were represented! And, a little bipartisan.  Always bipartisan. That is the fun part.

This time, they stayed until 12:30 a.m.  The sign of a good party, right?

They stayed until 12:30 a.m. sitting and talking about legislation, party politics, each other.   Good things probably come from these discussions and friendships are most likely strengthened.

Our elected officials in Washington D.C. should try this some time.

Dinner

state-flag-oklahomaI am cooking for the Senator and his friends tomorrow night which means that I am cooking and cleaning for the Senator and his friends today.

This is really one of my favorite things that the Senator has done throughout his tenure and I have written about it before HERE.  Always a different group and bipartisan of course, so naturally they are always messing with each other and goofing around.  Sometimes they play a game or two of pool, other times they watch a basketball game.  Tomorrow night will be full of entertainment options as there is a Thunder game and the State of the Union address and a weather report forecasting snow.  Couldn’t have planned it any better myself!

The menu, back by popular demand, remains the same as the year before and the year before.  Although, Shhhh!  I have switched up the dessert just a little bit so don’t tell. These are really, really, really good and easy to make which is key when cooking for a hungry crowd!

Can’t wait to be a fly on their wall for a brief moment in time.  But, above all else, I think this provides a great opportunity for members to get to know one another in a very casual and hospitable setting, especially for those who don’t get to go home during the week.  Something those politicians in Washington DC should take note of and replicate often! It couldn’t hurt.

That’s my man!

The Senator got to visit the Keystone Pipeline the other day….How cool is that?!

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Prayer Day

While I was down at the Capitol on Monday, I happened to catch up with my Senator for a few moments as he was taking photographs with some students participating in the Legislative Page program.

He was giving them a brief history of the building, the art work and noting various points of interest around the room (like the new, electronic scoreboard)…

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…because that’s what he does if you happen to be walking with him around that historic building!  Anyway, while he was assuming the role of Capitol tour guide, I happened to notice a few pieces of paper lying on his otherwise very clean, first day of session desk!  And, because I was nosey, or just curious, I started to read them and quickly noticed they were from the Senator’s constituents letting him know they had prayed for him on Sunday.

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Wow.  This touched my heart.  Usually, the Senator has brought these pieces of paper with prayers on them home to share with us, but to see them lying on his desk in real time truly moved me.  To think that someone, a stranger perhaps, had taken time out of their busy day to come to the Capitol…walk in his shoes, sit at his desk and pray for him….meant so much to me, and to him and we thank you for that.