Proud Mom

Socks With a Purpose


Yes.  Another sock post featuring socks from long ago . . . to divert your attention from the fact that I'm not saying anything about the "footwear" I'm currently knitting for SocktoberFest!


You see, I used to knit socks all the time.   Always plain-vanilla socks.  I have many pairs still in my own personal sock-rotation, but I've also knit several pairs of socks to give as gifts.  (I even knit a pair for Brian once -- which is a huge undertaking, given his size 13 feet!)

They were Socks With a Purpose!

When Erin was in high school, she was active in forensics (competitive public speaking; not the NCIS kind of forensics).  Her high school is Very Good in forensics and debate.  Very Good.  They just won their tenth consecutive state championship in forensics last year.  Erin was a member of four of those state championship teams, and, in fact, was the individual storytelling state champion as a senior.

Forensics States 2007 009

(Sorry.  Just had to stick that in there.  I didn't blog back then, and this was a Very Big Deal.)

Anyway.  Forensics is a very intense, very nerve-wracking "sport."  The season is long.  The tournaments are long.  The pressure is unbelievable (especially when you're a contender for top honors, which Erin was -- each year of high school).  And Erin liked me to "be there" with her/for her. 

So I was.

Forensics tournaments begin with three preliminary rounds, where all competitors participate and compete against each other (in fourteen separate public speaking events).  After those rounds, they cut to 12 semi-finalists.  After those rounds, they cut to 6 finalists.  And then you wait a long time while all the results are tabulated and winners are announced.  It takes all day.  It is very intense.  (Regional and state tournaments last even longer, with more rounds.)

Erin was always right in there - as a finalist - intense to the bitter end. 

What was a mom to do?  Why. . . knit through it, of course!  Knitting got me through forensics.  (Really, I think it was the only thing that kept me sane through all those tournaments and all that stress.) 

Socks were the perfect forensic-knitting (in fact, I called them my "foren-socks") because they were portable, somewhat mindless, and small.  I used to crank out a couple of pairs each forensics season.  But, then, when Erin finished with high school -- and forensics, I put away the sock knitting (mid-sock, truth be told), and I haven't picked it up again!

I'm not sure that I ever will pick it up again, actually.  I think there is just too much intensity wrapped up in knitting socks for me now.  Four years of "foren-socks" probably just did me in as far as sock-knitting goes.

Socks got me through. . . they served their purpose.  But now?  I think I'll stick with sweaters.


Made My Day

Yesterday, I went out to my mailbox and brought in the usual assortment of stuff. . . catalogs, junk mail, solicitations, and this. . .


An informational brochure about the upcoming Family Weekend at Hope College.

I did a double-take.


It's my kid!  On the cover!  Made my day!

Winning Ways

Yeah.  It's a contest.


And, in the end, one team is declared the "winning" team.


But.  There are so many ways to win.

You win . . . when you become a part of something bigger than yourself.


You win. . . when you work together in a coordinated effort.


You win. . . when you learn to depend on others.


You win. . . when you reach deep inside yourself and find out what you got.


You win. . . when you keep going, even when you want more than anything to quit.


You win. . . when you find your friends-for-life.


You win. . . when you understand that you can lose, but still win.


You win. . . when you have no regrets.


1-4 Pull Team; Awesome Pull Team.  You left it all on the rope.  Every one of you.  Winners, all.

Dog Days

It's that time of summer. . .


Days are hot.  Nights are cool.  Kids are gone. 


Dog Days.


Enjoy 'em while you can.


Because. . . they won't last forever!


So fish. . .

and swim. . .


and dive right in!


Before summer's gone for good!


Speaking of diving right in. . . Have you seen the new GIANT marshmallows?


Perfect for toasting.


And s'mores.


Just ask my mom!




Hey!  Check out my kid!  He's an Orientation Assistant at Hope College this semester, which means -- he helped the new freshman class move in to their dorms (among other things).  He made the front page of the Holland Sentinel for his efforts!  Go, Bri!

There's No Place Like Home

. . . for a short visit, anyway!

For the last few days, I've had the privilege of having both kids home at the same time!


Erin moved to Pittsburgh after her college graduation last spring.  We were happy she was able to sneak in a quick trip home before classes start up next week.  It's been an action-packed few days. 

I dragged her to the Michigan Fiber Festival with me and my Mom last weekend.  She liked the root beer best. . .


and the animals!


(She also managed to pick out yarn for two shawls.  No Lace, though, remains a battle cry!)

She washed her car -- such a luxury to have a hose, you know!  (Apartment living.)


And spent a lot of time reconnecting with family. . .


watching Brian's antics. . .


and regaling us with stories of her new life in urban Pittsburgh (many featuring the "wildlife" she encounters around her -- centipedes, slugs, skunks, bunnies, and bees). . .


We did a lot of shopping.  A lot.  And she ducked in for a quick visit to the hair salon for highlights and a cut. . .


She took care of one more detail, as well. 

Last spring, when Erin was applying for grad school, she made a very risky decision.  She only had Plan A:  Carnegie-Mellon.  That's where she wanted to go; that's where they had the "right" program for her.  Now, those of you with college-age students already know this --- but the economy has sucked the opportunities for this particular age group right out into a black hole.  There are no jobs for them when they finish college; grad school (along with law school and medical school) applications are through the roof, so it's more competitive than ever to go on for graduate studies.  In short, it's very, very tough out there for early-20s with college degrees.

So.  Erin applied for grad school at Carnegie-Mellon with no "safety" plan and no other real plans at all -- and knowing that Carnegie-Mellon only accepts about 15 students each year for this particular program.

She was wait-listed.

She tried not to panic.

No Plan B, you know.

She made a little pact with herself.  She'd get her ears pierced two more times IF she got into grad school; she'd NOT get her ears pierced any more times if she didn't -- because she'd have to look for a job and would be more concerned about "respectibility."

When I was in Paris last April, I got a middle-of-the-night call from Erin.  She had gotten in!  With a small fellowship even!  Plan A worked!

So, yesterday. . .


Respectibility, be damned!  (The two angry-looking piercings in the middle are the new ones.)

Erin leaves to return to Pittsburgh - and Plan A -- this morning.  Classes begin Monday.  Go get'em, Erin!


Symbol of Strength. . . or Super V Power!

When Brian was in Kindergarten, he played soccer.


These games were fun to watch -- because the little guys, for the most part, just ran around the field in a pack.  They sort of followed the ball around, and occasionally they made (what Tom and I called) "intentional ball contact."


Brian wanted to make a goal.  Badly.  So, one day before a game, I convinced him that the "V" design sewed into his little soccer shoes were "SUPER V"s and they game him Super Powers.  All he had to do was activate the power of the Super V, and he would kick with extra power!

It worked.  He scored a goal.  It was all the Super Vs, you know.

He didn't play soccer for long, but the Super V power followed him . . . into baseball. . .

2003 georgetown ll 2

and hockey. . .

Peewee hockey 6

even high school lacrosse!

2008 lax 6

Of course, once he outgrew those little soccer shoes with their built-in Super V design, we had to add our own Super Vs.  Brian's sports equipment was always covered with marker-drawn Vs -- which were "freshened up" before any tryout or Really Big Game.

Here are his hockey gloves from high school. 


When you turn them over, you find this. . .


Super V Power!!!

It generally worked.

20082009 hockey season

Last year, when I went to watch Brian in The Pull at Hope College, this brought tears. . .


The Pullers adorn their bodies with symbols of strength -- and Brian had chosen to include Super Vs.

Yesterday, Brian made the Super V a permanent part of himself. . . with a Super V tattoo.


He was very thoughtful about it.  It took him about 18 months to decide whether to get the tattoo -- and where.  When he finally decided, he took me with him.

He explains the V as "a symbol of strength between my mom and me."


SUPER V POWER!!!!  Now . . . Forever!

So Smart. . . and So Done


College graduation. . .


a lot of pomp. . .


and even more circumstance**. . .


a whole lotta sitting around and waiting. . .


a whole lotta people - all in one place.


(Kind of like Where's Waldo. . . can you spot Tom in the crowd?)

Why, there he is!


For the graduates, it was a lot of work to get to this place.  Lots of deep thought. . .


Lots of oh-my-god, can't we just be done????


So smart. . . so done!


Congratulations, Erin!


(Next stop for Erin:  graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.)

**Thankfully, no "Pomp and Circumstance" (the song) at Denison's graduation!  Not even once.

Extra-Action Kid

My son, Brian, is an "extra-action kid."

He has always enjoyed that "easy" place . . . where athletic ability. . meets daring. . . meets perserverence.  He walked early (9 months); he rode a 2-wheel bike early (4 years); he was a solid skateboarder by 7; I don't even remember teaching him to ski -- and he taught himself to snowboard.  He was a late-comer to ice hockey (at 9), but made up for it quickly. I learned early on to hold my breath, enjoy the excitement, and try not to panic! 


(Brian; age 7 or 8)

2005 skateboard

(Brian; age 12)

2004 xmas

(Brian; age 13)

He went through a skateboarding phase.  It lasted quite a while . . . But it ended about the time he went to high school (where he busied himself with a more intense level of hockey, snowboarding, cars, and a girlfriend).  He just kind of outgrew skateboarding.

Then. . . he went to college.  And discovered . . . longboarding.  Sort of like skateboarding.  But not.


(Brian; now)

Brian just returned from a spring break trip with his buddies to California.  He is now a "sponsored" longboarder (which means he promotes equipment for deep discounts and "free stuff"). 

He's having a great time!  Here's a video from his "Cali trip" (Brian is the rider in the green shirt for the first half of the video, and then the white shirt/jeans for the second half).

Yep.  My "extra-action" kid!  (I don't even worry anymore - much - when I see the oncoming cars.  Really.  I don't.)