Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Anticipation

I still remember when I first learned the word "anticipate." I was in 5th grade playing on the "Skunks" basketball team. My dad was our coach so we were full-court pressing which most 5th grade girls do not do. But it was my dad and my group of friends were freakishly athletic at 11 years of age. I was in a spot where I was supposed to steal the passes from our opponents but I kept getting to the spots too late. I was reacting, not anticipating. My dad called a time out and told me I needed to "anticipate" where the ball was going to go. My sassy 11 year old self did not enjoy being corrected in front of her friends and shot back, "I don't even know what that means, Da-ad." (I always stretched out the vowel sound when I was mad at him)

He patiently explained that it meant that I needed to read the eyes and body language of the passer and think ahead to where she would want to pass it. I was stubborn and embarrassed and rolled my eyes at him but it was a lesson that made me the basketball player I became. My offense was never something to brag about but I prided myself on my defense. I wasn't that fast or strong but my dad taught me to think; he taught me to anticipate. And so I learned to think a step ahead of my opponents and beat them to spots and stole their passes all because I learned to anticipate.

This word "anticipate" has been on my mind a lot this Christmas season. Christmas as a child is sprinkled with magic and I miss that magic. I still love the season but I miss experiencing it as a child. And I think what I miss most is the anticipation. Twenty five days stacked on top of one another creating a tower of wonder and suspense. No wonder it was nearly impossible to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. Admittedly, this "glittered magic" of the season centered around Santa and presents, not Jesus. The world was still centered around me (at times it sadly still is) and sleep eluded me on the 24th because I was anticipating what I would open the next morning. I was anticipating all the toys and all the joys that would accompany them. And opening presents as a child was truly a magical experience. Just look at Heidi's expression of genuine joy as she discovered her new Barbie car:
Yes, I'm the one too busy with a sucker and watching Heidi to get to my own gift. And while we're on the topic of childhood Christmas magic, here are a few more gems I discovered in my parents' garage:
Yes, that is a legitimate mullet I was rocking at age two. Thanks for that, Mom. At least I had my front teeth..

The next one is one of my favorites though. Heidi and I were clearly still in our church dresses and clearly were not happy about it. I'm guessing this picture was followed by a "you better not pout" lecture that we often received during the Christmas season. Heidi went for her classic "mad dog" pose while I rebelled by simply shutting my eyes to ruin the picture. Good work 3 year old Katie. You showed them. I also love that I am way too old to be drinking from a bottle and Trent and Travis have no idea a picture is being taken. Aren't we the joyful bunch?
Twenty six years later, we still wear matching pjs and take pictures by the fireplace but Christmas has obviously changed drastically. Maybe it's because we're opening scarves and books instead of Barbie cars and Cabbage Patch dolls, but the magic of Christmas morning has sadly dissipated over the years. We may grab and grasp at the glittered remains of Christmas magic, but it will always inevitably slip through our clenched fists as we pass into adulthood and a world of "unmagical" realities. I think part of the magic disappears when we realize Santa isn't real. There is something truly magical, something wonderfully majestic about believing in the impossible; about having faith in something that seems too good to be true. And then when a bully or an older sibling or a careless neighbor shoves you into reality and forces your eyes open to the fact that a fat man delivering presents to the whole world in one night with flying reindeer actually IS impossible, the magic sadly, slowly drifts away.

I know, I know- Jesus is the reason for the season yada, yada, yada, but the Christmas morning magic was typically about Santa delivering surprise presents. There are few surprises on Christmas morning any more. We've learned to tell our Mom exactly what we want for Christmas or else we'll end up with karate lessons. We pretty much know exactly what we'll open. I mean, I was surprised to find a cat calendar in my stocking from my obnoxious brother but it was not the same kind of joyful surprise children experience. I realize Christmas isn't about Santa and the presents, but my point is that the magical man and his presents were a huge part of the magic and anticipation experienced as a child.

I still LOVE the Christmas season; I love being with my family and celebrating the reason I have hope and life. However, I had no struggle sleeping the night before and I would have slept till noon if Nike hadn't jumped on the bed to wake me. There is still wonder and joy on Christmas day, but less magic and anticipation. However, I was able to see the magic again through Vander and Huddy's eyes and it was glorious. Watching their eyes light up as they opened new basketballs or battling hamsters was my favorite part of Christmas morning this year. (Yes, battling hamsters, complete with hamster armor and a battle arena. Beyond bizarre.)
The magic is still there for them. The anticipation is still there. Heidi confided that she needs to find a new way to convince them to behave and go to sleep since they most likely won't care that, "Santa is watching and coming back in 11 months and 24 days."

It's funny how anticipation can change how we live. It helped change how my nephews behaved during the season. When I'm anticipating Christmas break, I teach differently; I teach with more joy and excitement and patience- because I know I'm about to get a break. When I'm anticipating a vacation, the same is true. The everyday annoyances of life aren't so annoying when I'm anticipating something great to come. This is why I always try to have something I'm looking forward to. Right now it's the prime rib dinner we're having tonight. Sometimes it's long weekends or vacations or visits with friends, sometimes it's just a good meal or a good book; regardless of the event, I am always anticipating something and I've found that this dulls the sharp corners of life. It rounds them out. I try to live in the present but also anticipate the joy around the corner when the present is dark and murky.

Last week, the sermon was about how we should live our entire lives in anticipation of the glory to come. We read Revelations 19 which is a glimpse of heaven as revealed to John. He mentions multitudes shouting praises, elders and creatures falling prostrate before the throne, and "peals of thunder" as everyone worshipped God. It's hard to picture. But then the pastor told a story of his wife hitting a buzzer beater shot to win a huge basketball game in college. I cried. Literally had tears streaming down my cheeks because I know what it sounds like to have a packed gym EXPLODE in excitement after a victory like that. I know the feeling of joy that WASHES over you in those moments when you can't hear your own voice amongst the thunderous victory cries. And to hear heaven described like that; to realize that God will elicit that type of praise and worship from us all filled me with such a joy that excitement physically leaked from my eyes.

We will experience the fullness of God in heaven. His glory is seen in the whole world but it is veiled. And one day, one glorious day, the veil will be lifted and we will experience the full glory of God.

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
1 Corinthians 13:12

The anticipation of this day should change how I live. But it doesn't always because I don't always think on it. But it is this anticipation that fills me with hope. And it is hope that gives me energy and perseverance. It is this hope that makes me joyful and patient and content even when my circumstances don't seem to warrant joy or patience or contentment.

So I'm trying to live each day as a child on Christmas Eve.

I'm looking forward to something much greater than a new pogo stick or playhouse and the anticipation makes me giddy. I'm trying to live in daily anticipation- anticipating the glory to come. I cannot do this by my own power. I have to daily ask God to help- to give me glimpses of His glory, to remind me daily of WHY I hope and WHAT I'm anticipating. And He answers. He sprinkles my life with much more magic than Santa ever could.

This Christmas I have realized how magical faith in God is. I've also realized that I can recapture some of the magic by anticipating what awaits me; not a new Popple or Pound Puppy or even a giant trampoline (which I NEVER received although I asked for one every single year for 12 years) No, I am awaiting something much greater than wrapped presents. I am waiting for His glorious presence (I couldn't resist the pun) in a magical place I can only dream about, a place that seems too good to be true. I don't believe in Santa any more but I believe in One much greater who fills me with more anticipation than Santa ever did.

Finally, no Christmas post is complete without one of the Hardeman family traditions. The following are our two favorite Christmas ornaments and the tradition is this- whoever enters the living room must examine the ornaments and answer the question: who looks more ridiculous? Please vote in the comments. I'll start.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Confessions

It's Christmas Eve. However, due to family having to work or visiting in-laws, today was Christmas in the Hardeman household. It was fabulous. But in light of the sweet baby Jesus' birthday, I have a few confessions to make concerning this Christmas season.

1) I gave gifts with ulterior motives. I love giving gifts but I especially love giving gifts that I will benefit from. Selfish? Maybe. Baby Jesus understands. Thus, both parents received books that I plan on reading and my nephews received Beauty and the Beast, my favorite Disney classic. (possibly because the heroine is a book nerd looking for adventure) I talked it up so much that Vander was pretty pumped to watch. But then somehow most of the movie was watched by me, my dad, and my brother-in-law.

2) Until 3 minutes ago, I thought the expression was "alterior motives."

3) I fell asleep in church. Three times. In my defense, I was up super late doing the traditional last minute wrapping session and stuffing stockings. Plus, the choir sang numerous very slow Christmas songs and there was a pretty lengthy prayer. The good thing about falling asleep in church though is that people assume you are super holy and must just be feeling the Spirit move...until you jerk back awake.

4) I polished off a bag of chocolate covered pretzels in church. My motives were pure here. I didn't want to fall asleep and I figured these would keep me awake. (I typically keep a book and snack in my purse at all times for emergencies such as these) I had to suck all the crunch out of the pretzels so the people around couldn't hear me chewing but I felt quite irreverent when I was sucking on one and then the pastor began to pray. It just felt wrong to be enjoying chocolaty goodness while we prayed so I stopped and was left with one very soggy pretzel. At least I stayed awake.

5) I discovered today that I cannot clap. I thought I could clap in church as long as I didn't try to sing at the same time. However, my sister-in-law informed me that she kept getting distracted by my clapping that was off beat. I am transforming into my mother.

6) I let the boys eat an exorbitant amount of chocolate so I could sit and rest. I love hide and seek. Truly love it. Especially playing with a 2 year old and 4 year old. My spots are genius. I hid under a towel in the bathroom and made them both scream when I jumped out. It was awesome. However, I can only play for so long. Huddy had been begging everyone to open his candy cane full of Hershey kisses but his mom said, "no." While hiding in the shower, Vander figured out how to open the forbidden fruit. I stumbled upon the two guilty boys splitting up the chocolates and was at a crossroads- do I tattle and confiscate the goods? Instead, I quietly slipped downstairs to enjoy a quick rest and watched The Christmas Story, feeling only slightly guilty. About five minutes later, Heidi found the boys with their cheeks stuffed with chocolate. I felt so guilty that I confessed to my rat of a brother who announced that I let it happen. I got him back by tickling his face with dental floss.

7) Speaking of The Christmas Story, I confess that today I'm mildly afraid of red-headed boys. I think this fear stemmed from that awful bully and his frightening laugh. Also, I'm pretty sure I was traumatized as a child when Ralphie gets his tongue frozen to the pole.

8) I cringe every time I drive home at night in December. Why? Because this is right across the street:
and I can't help but mock the tackiness. Those terrible neon lights light up my hallway.

9) I struggled shopping this year. I'm not sure if struggled is the right word but let's just say that strangers laughed at me, honked horns at me, and raised eye brows at me. I was so swamped with basketball that I didn't even start to shop until the 22nd and did it all in about 24 hours. It wasn't my smoothest of days.

First, I tried to shop in a new area and got terribly turned around and couldn't find the parking structure where I had parked. After a sweet, elderly Indian man twisted my arm and convinced me to buy a freshly baked cookie, (he just asked if I wanted one) I said, "Oh, alright...and by the way, do you know if there is a parking structure around here?" As I made my way to the structure, I passed a WalMart and decided to pick up some wrapping paper. But now I had a warm cookie waiting in my purse and I couldn't let it get cold. Another landmark decision needed to be made. Do I buy wrapping paper later and rush to the car where I can privately take out my Invisalign? You see, when I take out the trays, it is just plain nasty. Saliva strings cling to the trays and there is definite slurping involved. It should never be done in public. But the cookie was getting colder by the second and I looked around and saw the typical WalMart crowd and thought, "I'll fit right in. Surely there'll be no judgment at a WalMart." So I pulled those suckers out and slurped....and definitely got some disapproving and disgusted looks. It's bad when the WalMart crowd disapproves of you.

Next, I headed to a different center and didn't notice that I was driving on the wrong side of the road in the parking lot. I got honked at. And not a friendly, "beep, beep, look out" honk. He/She laid on the horn in a loud and unnecessarily long, "I'm pissed at you, you incompetent fool" honk. I laughed it off but I may have blushed. "Focus, Katie. Come on." I actually said those words aloud.

Later that day I decided to brave Target but wanted to avoid the crowded streets so I did what anyone would do. I rode my bike. However, I didn't realize until it was too late that I had two flat tires. (I clearly wasn't Miss Observant on this day) Also, I had to buy some bulky items. By the time I left the store, it had gotten dark and I had a giant thing of kitty litter in my basket, my purse on one arm and bags filled with toys on the handle bars. I wanted to avoid a potentially awkward moment passing pedestrians so I was in the street when the baby doll started to slip. I swerved and the kitty litter threw off my balance and I came very close to falling. Cars swerved. Cars honked. Strangers shook their heads at me again.

After wrapping and wrapping and wrapping, it was 2 in the morning and I realized I still needed some things from Toys R Us. Heidi had told me it was open 24 hours and I thought, "I am actually quite curious to see who shops at 2 AM." So I went. Not surprisingly, I discovered the typical, seedy WalMart crowd plus lots of bored cops and I actually had to wait in lines to check out.

I think I might shop on-line next year.

10) I plan on stealing tomorrow. Actually, we don't call it stealing. It's "hopping" and it's a bit of a family tradition. Since my mom will be at the hospital saving lives and Trent will be keeping the streets safe, and everyone else will be with other family, my dad and I will be enjoying Voyage of the Dawn Treader, then The Fighter, then True Grit. Not the typical way to celebrate the coming of our Savior but a party nonetheless.

If you're interested in seeing pictures Heidi took of the Hardeman Christmas day, click here and no, I don't know why I made the pirate expression when Trent and I were flexing.

Hope you're having a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Card Schmorgasboard

Our fridge is currently covered in Christmas cards. It's a schmorgasboard of smiling faces; of friends and family with arms around spouses, standing in front of new houses, or holding laughing babies. It's a schmorgasboard of joy. And it makes me smile.

On my weak days though, on my "Katie deserves a pity party" days, it makes me sad. When I close my eyes and ears to the blessings enveloping me, when I fall prey to the enemy's schemes, and when I forget about the wonderful and unique adventure God has me on, it makes me sad. Because yes, there's no denying it, I would love to be married. I would love to be on a Christmas card standing beside a man who looks very much in love (who is taller than me, adventurous, goofy, and can beat me in basketball- even if everyone says I need to lower that standard) and maybe I'd even be holding a bundle of joy in my arms. And a dog. We'd definitely have a dog. That Christmas card seems implausible at times but that's where hope and faith come in. I am sitting, no living, no dancing in hopeful expectation for that Christmas card and I am confident that I will be in it one day. But for now, for today, my journey looks very different; my "Christmas card picture" looks very different.

One of the perks of being single is that I don't actually have to send out Christmas cards. I'm not sure exactly why this unwritten rule is in place, but it is. My guess is that it will always be in place because single men would NEVER or could never send out their own cards and single women will always feel self-conscious announcing to fridges across the nation that they are still single. My friend Lesley wrote a very funny post about the stress involved with sending out Christmas cards and it made me thankful I don't have to do this...yet. However, I did seriously consider sending one out. I was going to have my sister take a professional picture of me holding Dotty. I would be wearing a Harry Potter sweatshirt. Only my close friends and some family would know for sure that it was a joke and everyone who visited their homes would probably wonder who the pathetic single gal with the cat was. I ran out of time since it is busy basketball season but I wish I had- I feel like it would send the message that, "Yes, I am still single but my life is still wonderful. It's just different."

Compared to almost all of my friends, I am in a very different stage of life; on a very different journey but I love it. Seriously, love it. I couldn't always say that but I can today. I am thrilled for my friends and family and the lives they are leading but I wouldn't exchange my journey for any of theirs. I love how God's plans are so unique for each of us and I love the one He has for me- even if it does look drastically different from all my friends'- possibly BECAUSE it is so drastically different.

Because I am not yet married, I get to have an intimacy with my Savior that I don't think I would have if my heart was divided. My whole heart belongs to just Him right now.

Because I am not yet married, I get to pour myself into my nephews. I get to have continual "epic battles", play hours and hours of hide n seek, and snuggle up to watch "tooners" all the time because most of my free time is spent with these precious, hilarious, glorious little boys.

Because I am not yet married, I get to pour myself into my students. I get to plan white elephant Christmas parties for my freshmen Bible study girls and teach them how to pray and treat others and seek God with their whole hearts.
Because I am not yet married, I get to be mom to 11 beautiful high school girls. We had a Christmas/slumber party at my house the other night and I may have had just as much fun as they did. If I didn't send out the cat Christmas card, I might've sent one like this:
because these are the people I take care of. These are the people that I see the most right now. And I love these people. I love that I am in charge of them and can tell them when they are slandering others and need to stop. I love buying gifts for them and preparing food for them and praying with them and for them, showing them that they are special, and showing them how to have fun at a slumber party. They're all friends and high schoolers so I know they can have fun without all my activities but I am a slumber party expert so yes, I forced them to have fun "my way." So I forced them to decorate cookies:
and I forced them to play games instead of sitting around talking about classmates. And it was hilarious because they discovered that Kari thought "Snookie" was just a term of endearment and described Tina Turner as "that really funny black girl in 'Miss Congeniality.'"

And maybe this wasn't my wisest decision as the "chaperon" but I made them play a game in Target too. I had forgotten a few things I needed to buy there so we made it an adventure and they had to pick out an outfit for one other person. Our goal was to just not get kicked out of Target.
They failed.

But sometimes getting yelled at by Target security makes for a great memory. (I know, not my finest moment as a "responsible chaperon.")

No slumber party is complete without a t-peeing adventure and my girls made me proud. They were shockingly silent and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to shedding a tear watching them work together as I sat in the get-away car.
I would not know what to do if I had a baby right now. I would not know how to be a mom to him/her. But I am comfortable being a mom to a 16 year old girl. In fact, I felt very much like my own mom when I turned out the lights and gave them 15 minutes to chat and then woke them up in the morning singing, "Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!"

My life is full. My God is good.

So though I still am waiting for that Christmas card with the hubby and the baby and the dog, for now I will take my girls toilet-papering and tickle my nephews and not worry about sending out Christmas cards.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Coaching Confessions

As the daughter of a basketball coach, I was raised in a gym. I am at home in a gym. I am alive in a gym. I love this place. I love the sounds heard only in here. I love the cacophony of squeaking sneakers, the screech of skin sliding across the wood floor, the grunts and wails as bodies collide, the thundering stampeding of footsteps, the bounce of the ball, the hoots and hollers from the crowd, the sweet swish of the net, the loud blast of the buzzer, and the piercing shrieks of referee whistles and of angry coaches. I love it all.

And it's a good thing I love it so much since I've spent 36 hours this past week in the gym. Between practices, shoot-arounds, walk-throughs, scouting, and playing in the tournament we are hosting, I've spent more time in the gym more than I have in my bed. But I'm not complaining. I love it here. Sure, I may refer to it as my "hell week" and I may have bags under my eyes, but I'm doing what I love in a place I love. However, I do have some confessions.

Coaching Confessions Part 1
(because I'm sure there will be many more throughout the season)

1) I was late to practice. This will come as no surprise to my colleagues since I'm often ducking into meetings 10 minutes late, but I'm never late to practice. I was annoyed and confused when I walked in the gym and the lights were still off and the girls weren't warming up. However, they were making me very proud. Here's what they were up to:

Youtube clip they posted. The lil punks.

2) I continued the scaring war. I usually stay after practice to rebound for our shooter and have hidden in different spots in the locker room to scare her when she comes out. It's such a satisfying feeling to watch her jump, scream and nearly fall to the floor. However, the other day I planned an elaborate scare that went awry. I hid outside and waited behind the door she typically exits from. I waited for 10 minutes. The suspense built as I twiddled my thumbs waiting. I was going to get her good. But then she came out the other door and saw me standing and waiting like a fool. I felt very silly. And then I lied and told her I had only been waiting for 3 minutes. I couldn't let her know just how pathetic I actually am.

3) I have yelled at girls with a lisp. The orthodontist said I'd have a lisp for a day or two as I adjusted to Invisalign. It's been a month. Truth be told, I rather like my lisp. I think it adds character. But students giggle as I read aloud and my players tease me mercilessly when I'm yelling at them and they hear the lisp. Even I had to stop and laugh when I was yelling at Kristen but accidentally called her Christian.

4) I have a dirty mouth. It's not what you think. I'm not one of those coaches that swears at her players. However, I've found no adequate substitute for the phrase "half ass." And that is often how they play. But "half butt" makes no sense and I've tried screaming, "You're playing lackadaisically!" but it truly does not have the same effect. I once yelled, "You're playing half....as hard as you should be." They knew I was trying not to say "ass" and they laughed at me. But I was most disappointed in myself last night. It was a super intense game against a rival school and one of our best players fouled out. And I said shit. Not super loud but loud enough for my parents to hear who were sitting a few rows up from me. Loud enough for my Athletic Director to hear who was sitting right behind me. Loud enough for me to feel ashamed. I coach girls who aren't allowed to say "pissed" or "crap" and who say I'm a bad influence on them since I often use the phrase, "don't crap your pants." So you can see why I'd feel so awful about saying "shit" in front of them AND their parents. However, when I asked my parents if they heard, my own mom, whom I was most concerned about since she cringes when I say "butt", offered me grace and said, "We're all human." I think she just felt bad that we lost:)

5) I am a bit of a yeller and can be a bit obnoxious about it. This is what usually scares people who know me only as teacher, friend, or family member and have never seen me coach. The yelling scares some people. I see it in their eyes. I see shock and horror and genuine fear. It makes me feel rather beastly. My own nephew cowered in fear last year when he sat behind our bench. My roommate was shocked and probably a little scared to get on my bad side. My British friend, Tom, visited last year and admitted after the game that he was a bit "terrified" of me. Terrified. If you've seen my dad or my high school coach in action, you'd think I'm tame. I don't throw chairs, veins rarely bulge from my neck and forehead, but I do raise my voice... just a little. I didn't realize just how obnoxious I am until we watched game tape and my own voice made my ears bleed. It's a necessity though. It makes my girls play harder and smarter. When I missed the first part of a game because I was coming from a wedding and was stuck in traffic, the girls played "half ass." One girl even said, "Coach, I needed you here to yell at me. I was playing like a freshman." I feel bad sometimes though and last night at half time I explained that I love them and am only yelling to make them go harder. I know- it's a weird way to express my love to scream, "Catch the freakin ball!" But nevertheless, it is an expression of my love.

6) I occasionally sass the refs. I've never gotten a T, wait- maybe I did my first year but I'm sure I didn't deserve it. However, I've often been told to sit and remain in my "coaching box" since I tend to pace like a caged animal. And sometimes I sass the refs. While my girls can always hear me screaming directions to them, the refs often don't hear me requesting a timeout even though I'm literally SCREAMING, "Time out!!!" This happened last week. I must have screamed it about 12 times. No exaggeration. When he finally called it, he came over and said, "I had to wait till your team had possession of the ball to call the timeout." My humble, Christlike response?

"We had possession when I called timeout the first 5 times. That's why the entire gym is laughing at you right now." And I whipped my hair around and turned back to the huddle of now-giggling girls.

Truthfully, the crowd was laughing at me and my hysterical screams, but I didn't care. Coaching definitely brings out a different side of me.

7) I am not always very professional. My incredible shooter is getting recruited by some top schools so I get a lot of calls from college coaches. A few weeks ago, I was waiting for a call from a dear friend living in Spain. She called during my prep period, right as I was entering the Chick-fila drive through. I was so excited to talk to her that when I saw the unfamiliar number, I answered the phone in my best Mrs. Doubtfire voice and yelled, "Hell-ooooooooooo!!!!" Pause. "Um....is this coach Hardeman?"

My thought process: "Oh crap. This is definitely not Christy. How do I play this off?"

I cleared my voice and cringed as I said, "Yes? May I ask who is calling?"

"So and so from Harvard. I'm calling about Kari."

Harvard. It couldn't be some state school. Harvard called recruiting Kari and I sounded like a total buffoon. She was gracious and pretended like I hadn't made a fool of myself and went on a long spiel about why they were interested in Kari. Of course I had to interrupt her to say, "Can I get the number 5 with a lemonade?" Luckily, Kari doesn't want to go to Harvard.

I also showed my classy professionalism this week when I went to scout a game in my pjs. I was proud of myself for remembering the video camera which I had forgotten when I went to tape a game the week before. I was exhausted and it was rainy and I figured no one would recognize me. But then I walked in the gym and some coach definitely did recognize me because he said, "Hey Coach, how's your team doing?" What the? How on earth do you know I am a coach? I look like a homeless woman right now. In hindsight, I realized he must have known me from the "coaching world." Lesson learned- bring a video camera but don't look like a bum when scouting games.

8) I don't always know information I should about our team. So my players know our record better than I do- big whoop. I remember as a high school player reading the paper all the time to see my name and read about our team. I don't even get the paper now. (perhaps that's why I didn't know about the coal miners until they were released) My perspectives have changed since high school and I know how we played each night- I don't need to read the thoughts of some newspaper guy about my team. A player asked if I saw the new rankings in the paper and then laughed when I said I don't get the paper and didn't care about it. "Coach, I feel like I know more about our team than you do." Whatever kid, I know the important stuff. And when there is a really ridiculous picture of you in the paper, someone will tell me about it. And I'll find that picture have it made into a fridge magnet like I did with the one from last year where you look like you have cleft palate. I laugh at her every morning when I open the freezer to get my eggos.
9) My girls are a little too comfortable with me. You might doubt this after I've told you that I scream at them but they LOVE to try to make me awkward. One girl in particular has the ability of making me blush easily. She once picked me up after a game to show me how strong she was. She also likes to try to give me the "good game" butt tap on occasion just to irritate me. Last week was the worst. The coach of the host school was super chatty and happened to be a young guy. Every time I talked to him the girls would huddle and giggle. This particular girl even walked right up to us when we were talking and took a picture. Talk about awkward.

10) I can get a tad fired up when we play poorly. Just a tad. Yesterday I might have slammed some doors at half time. And I may have broken some heels from stomping my feet so hard. And okay, so maybe I punched a car after our loss. But I was walking in the pouring rain without an umbrella and they drove right in front of me slowly and they needed to know that it was very rude. And sure, a parent tried to hug me after the game and I denied her hug and said, "Not now." Really though- I am not a hugger and definitely do not feel like hugging after a loss.

However, it was hard to angry tonight even though we were playing terrible. I struggled to get angry because Hudson and Vander sat behind the bench. Huddy kept saying, "Katie, Katie, Katie" until I would smile at him. And then Vander kept trying to have a conversation with me.

Vander: "Katie- did you know I'm going to have a ninja turtle party?"

Me: "Very cool. Nia!!! Watch the weakside!!!"

Vander: "Shredder's coming to it."

Me: "No way. Box out Lianna!!!!"

These boys are great reminders that it is just a game. Yes, I will always be intense but I can always laugh off a loss when I see their smiling faces.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

HANDS

I've been thinking a lot about hands lately. Not just because I have giant man hands. (no joke- my high school coach said it was the first thing she noticed about me. Awesome) I've noticed that there is power in hands. There is meaning in hands. Messages are sent in hands. Assumptions are made based on hands. They have the power to destroy or create or utterly humiliate. I have been finding this to be true in many different circumstances.

I have seen the power of hands after each basketball game. My team probably talks more about the post-game hand-shaking line than any other team. This line offers so much potential for awkwardness and since I have such a love of awkward moments, this is beginning to rub off on my girls. I once dared a player to give the opposing coach a side hug rather than a high five and she did! I was so proud. Then in a recent game one of my girls dressed in street clothes and since she looks much older than her little 16 years, the other coaches assumed she was a coach and shook her hand rather than giving the traditional coach/player high five. She was ecstatic and I made her pretend to be a coach the next few games to see what others would do; they fell for it and we fell over laughing. Oh the little victories in life.

To further illustrate the awkward breeding ground that is the post-game hand-shake line, let me tell you about my dear friend Katie. She is a fellow coach and fellow lover of all that is awkward. She shook hands with the opposing coach and went to say the traditional "post game encouragement" line such as: "Hey, you've got a great team," and "Good luck to you this year", or "You guys are really good." What did Katie say? "You good guy." I love that. I wish I could have witnessed it. It reminds me of this Brian Regan clip.

In case you've never played a team sport, after the game each team yells the opposing team's name and then lines up and gives each other high fives and says, "good game." However, coaches don't high five each other. Those are reserved only for players. We shake hands. It sends a different message than merely slapping some skin and enables us to exchange a few additional pleasantries.

Most head coaches are older men and since I'm a young, often frazzled-looking girl, I try to prove my maturity by giving them an extra firm handshake. The problem I face, however, is this- I use a green white board marker to draw up plays and in the heat of the game, I never remember to use the eraser and just wipe the board clean with my hand. This leaves me with a green-stained hand by the end of the game, occasional green smudges on my face and clothes and leaves me feeling a bit self-conscious as I go to slap hands with the other team looking like Kermit the Frog. I fear my green hand sends the message, "I'm a bit of a hot mess," which, truth be told, isn't totally inaccurate according to my team.

I found a new power in hands last night as we shook hands with a team that beat us. They are better than us. No shame in losing. But then their assistant coach went and clenched my hand too soon, before I could get a grip. This annoyed me and sometimes I react like a 12 year-old so I got my revenge on the head coach. I grabbed the tips of his three fingers and clenched. I clenched hard. And then I shook those three fingers like it was totally normal but surely it must have been painful. "Sure, you beat us by 15 but how are your fingers feelin now, sucka?" Revenge sure can be sweet. (note: I never call people "sucka" in real life)

I've also found the power of hands whenever holding hands during prayer. The other day I was out to breakfast with a bunch of girls I didn't know very well. We went to bless the food and some girl more affectionate than I decided we should hold hands. So I linked up with the girl next to me whom I had never met. We did the "3 second dance" trying to figure out whose hand would go where and then successfully linked with only one little awkward chuckle. But then some girls got distracted. And then the waiter started bringing our food. And pretty soon just the two of us were left holding hands and I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to appear rude and release her hand and make her feel awkward. "Surely everyone else will relink in just a second," we both thought. But as seconds passed, it became more and more obvious that we were strangers holding hands for no reason. Neither of us wanted to cave. Neither of us wanted to acknowledge the awkwardness. But we finally looked at each other and laughed and released...only to link up 30 seconds later. I then gave her the squeeze at the end of the prayer.

I cannot help but do the "amen squeeze." I think it's encouraging and clarifies that, "yes, I see that the prayer is officially over and we can release hands now." It's a habit. But I don't squeeze men's hands. I fear it sends the wrong message. Girls, however, will always receive a squeeze from me, regardless if I know you or not. I thought nothing of this squeeze until my girls started fighting about who has to stand next to me at the end of practice when I pray for us. They've started squeezing back and squeezing hard. Oh the power of hands.

I found the power of hands when I watched this YouTube clip as I researched "slam poetry." Kim, my new blogging friend, introduced me to the poetry and I love it. She challenged me to write my own and though I'm certainly no poet and wrote something that probably doesn't fall under the genre of "slam poetry", the writing process was surprisingly therapeutic. I mention in my poem the image of me nestled in the Father's giant, cracked hands. See, hands have been on my mind.

I found the power of hands when I heard the song, "In Better Hands" by Natalie Grant. (warning: if you watch the video and you're a girl, have tissues ready. I was not prepared. ) Here are some of the lyrics:

There is hope when my faith runs out
Cause I'm in better hands now

It's like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down.
It's like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground.
So take this heart of mine, there's no doubt
I'm in better hands now.

I am strong, all because of you.
I stand in awe of every mountain that you move.
I am changed, yesterday is gone.
I am safe from this moment on.

There's no fear when the night comes 'round
Cause I'm in better hands now.
I also found the power of hands when I read Psalm 95:3-5 which says:

3 For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his HAND are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his HANDS formed the dry land.

The creator of the universe holds the depths of the earth and the depths of my heart in His giant, all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful hands. Wow. No wonder the psalmist goes on to say:

6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Yes, being in His hands causes me to worship, causes me to rejoice and dance and sing and rest. Hands are certainly powerful. But HIS are the most.

Friday, December 10, 2010

10 Everyday Injuries

In our second game Kari might have set a new school record by making eleven 3 pointers. Eleven. That's unheard of. But sadly, I think I may have stolen her thunder. How you ask? Watch this video. I'm standing in the green yelling at Kristen to get in front of her man.

I kind of wish the video was clearer and I could figure out the slow motion feature, but I kind of don't. It's painful enough reliving this moment of sheer shame and humiliation. Have you ever had an entire gym laugh at you? I don't recommend it. I had experienced this as a player, but never as a coach. Here was my thought process in those 2 seconds after the ball nailed me in the face at 100 miles per hour:

"Oh no. Did others see that?"

"Why didn't I move my arms?"

"Did I just get whiplash?"

"That must have looked pretty hilarious." (that's when I bent my knees laughing)

"Maybe if I don't react, no one else will either." (so I kept my arms folded the entire time and looked at no one)

In the corner of my eye, I notice girls falling out of their chairs laughing. "Shoot. I think they noticed. I think thee entire gym is laughing at me."

"What should I do?"

"Should I sit down now?"

"My face has never felt this hot."

"So this is what blushing feels like."

"Continue to play it cool, Katie. And don't look up and show your red face."

Turn back to face the game hoping they will just pass the ball in and continue the game. But they don't. The refs were both laughing and asking me if I was okay. (this portion mercifully did not make the video.)

"I'm fine, stripes. Just pass the stupid ball in."

At the very end of the video you can still hear one of my girls laughing pretty hard. The next day I was met with lots of re-enactments and yells across the quad, "Coach! Is your face okay?"

It actually didn't hurt that badly because it just hit my cheek but it got me to thinking about little everyday injuries that I despise. Since it's the 10th, here is my list:

10 Everyday Injuries I Absolutely Abhor:

1. Getting hit in the head or face with a ball. The absolute worst is getting hit in the nose. Instant watery eyes and a pain unique only to "ball hits nose" situations. Not only must you deal with the intense stinging sensation in your face, you also have to endure the embarrassment of appearing weak and crying like a little pansy because you got hit in the face.

2. Stubbing a toe. I surprise even myself by what flies out of my mouth when I stub my toe. In this week alone, I've found myself saying, "Good Golly, Miss Molly", "Yowsers","Shnikees", "flippin flippity flip", "Jimmeney Cricket, "Holy Moly", and of course the classic, "ow ow ow ow" made famous by this lady. Who knew one little toe could cause so much pain?

3. Jamming a finger. I'm not sure why one can "stub" a toe but not a finger, but this "jamming" is not nearly as fun as it sounds. The instant swell is at least proof of injury whereas the toe stub leaves no proof so you just look silly for hoopin and hollerin and dancing around on one foot. Event though they do serve as proof of your pain, those fat fingers are pretty gnarly.

4. Hitting the funny bone. What ironic slang-maker thought up that name? I am not amused. Now, not only are you stifling tears as you explain you hit your funny bone, you have to hear the "it's not so funny, is it?" jokes.

5. Getting the wind knocked out. I couldn't tell you the last time I had this happen, until two days ago. I was scrimmaging against my team and right after I shot the ball, Kari punched me in the gut as part of her "box out." I doubled over and created a very awkward moment where I didn't talk for a good 60 seconds. My team didn't know what to do. If you've ever seen me seriously hurt, you've witnessed the "Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde" transformation. I'm not proud of it but when I get hurt, I become a bit of a beast. Kari later told me she was terrified for the next 15 minutes as I literally threw her to the ground at one point.

6. Falling and scraping hands, arms, and or knees on asphalt. I had forgotten how badly this hurts. When you're a kid, this happens all the time but somewhere between 5th grade and adulthood, you stop falling and forget about this stinging sensation. However, I was reminded of this pain a few years ago while playing one-on-one against Trent in the backyard. He shoved me to the ground and I scraped up my hands pretty badly. Okay, it didn't LOOK bad but it hurt like crazy. Of course, the transformation took place and I glared at Trent and yelled, "I can't feel my hands!" and stormed off the court.

7. Water up the nose. Another unpleasant stingy sensation. Another reason for me to storm off and yell at my family. I credit my dad for instilling a love for adventure in me from a young age. He used to force us to body surf rather large waves because he knew we'd have fun but we also typically were THRASHED by waves. I was okay with the thrashing and even the panic when I didn't know which way to swim to find the surface. However, if I got water up the nose, it was over. I can still see my stubborn, 10-year old self decked out in a cool one-piece with a giant hole cut out in the middle, storming out of the ocean, glaring at my father and growling, "I got water up the nose! Happy?"

8. Shampoo in the eyes. Like scraping my hands on asphalt, I sympathize with kids who get their hair washed and end up suffering from this ailment. The girl who does my hair once got distracted and accidentally let this happen. This created an incredibly awkward moment as I tried not to let her notice so she wouldn't feel bad but I couldn't stop squinting and my left eye kept watering. I lied about it and said I had an eye-lash in my eye. Ever since, I've learned to close my eyes while she washes my hair but I always wonder if this is what everyone does or if she thinks I'm odd.

9. Paper cuts. I'm a bit baffled by how such a lightweight weapon could do so much damage. Plus, you have to hide the pain because if you ever admit to someone that you're grimacing because of a paper cut, they are guaranteed to laugh in your face. I don't really understand why, though. These hurt. Can we please all agree to stop laughing and start sympathizing with paper cut victims?

10. Biting the tongue or inside of the cheek in the exact same spot twice. Why oh why does this always seem to happen? Once is bad but nothing to complain about. I have no sympathy for you if you say you bit your tongue. But if you say this was the second time you've bit that spot, I will grimace with you. That second bite will cause me to yelp in pain and frustration. And then I'll feel like an idiot because who gets hurt chewing food? I do. The girl who gets hit in the face with a basketball and tries to pretend like nobody saw.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Googling Freshmen

What did we do before google? Seriously. What were our options? I had an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica's in my bedroom and although they came in handy when I was playing "school" and wanted to know how to identify poison ivy or press flowers for my magic potions, that bookshelf was only the tip of the iceberg when compared to google. Today, I google everything. I think most of us do. It's why "google it" became a well-known expression and "google" became a verb. I'm somewhat embarrassed of some of the questions I've typed into google. It's always been a fear that some computer hacking nerd will one day get his grimy little paws on my computer and figure out how to see everything I've googled. Words I should know how to spell, facts I should know, questions no one over the age of 13 should ever have to ask. That's what he'd find. (However, I don't feel so dumb when I type "how to" into google and discover lots of people are just as ignorant as I am.)

I won't tell you some of the more embarrassing "how to" google entries but I will tell you about one. "How to make popcorn." While living in Mozambique, Lisa and I were babysitting for our Swedish friends and both had only ever used microwave popcorn or those old-school popcorn machines. The kids asked for popcorn but all we found were popcorn kernels. We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and headed to google. The popcorn turned out great and we thought our secret ignorance would stay between us. But then their dad, Par "the detective," searched the Internet history (possibly because he has a 13 year old son) and discovered our google search. Then he told his brother-in-law, my neighbor Henrik, who teased us mercilessly about it.

I share that story because I don't seem like the only guilty, naive party. Lisa was with me. And Lisa is one of the smartest people I know. Literally. She graduated from Princeton and is currently getting a double-masters from the Kennedy School and MIT at the same time. If you're like me, "the Kennedy School" doesn't impress because you've never heard of it. It's a graduate program at Harvard. See. She's super smart. However, she's also super silly. See picture from this summer:
Even super smart Lisa uses google. My inquisitive students sometimes ask bizarre questions like, "Is there a bird called a carrion crow?" and "What are the badlands?" and "Which author predicted we'd one day power everything with steam?" My answer is always, "Good question. Let's go google it."

I wonder, however, if google is making us smarter or stupider. Is stupider even in a word? No. It's not. I googled it. Google is certainly settling a lot of bets and filling us with fast information and don't get me wrong, I LOVE googling crap. But I fear it may be doing us a disservice as well. It's eliminating the fact-finding process. We don't have to search and seek for answers. Our fingers fly over the key board and as long as we've got a good connection, the answers magically appear in seconds.

I wish life was like that. But then again, I don't. Because there is something rewarding about the process of searching for answers.

I teach freshmen. I LOVE these kids. The world is full of hope and optimism and opportunity for them. There is no cynicism or jaded attitudes. They've been sheltered and don't even realize their ignorance. They are full of innocence and energy and curiosity. However, they are also full of farting jokes, giggles, and LOTS of stupid questions. Really stupid questions. Case in point: the homework is ALWAYS written on the homework board. I ALWAYS explain it at the beginning of class. But about 4 times a week, some eager beaver won't wait for the bell to ring to start class and will ask, "Miss Hardeman, do we have homework?"

If it's early and I didn't have breakfast, my tone isn't always sweet. These are my typical responses:

"I'm not answering that."

"You'll find out."

"Figure it out."

"Be a problem-solver."

Or I just pretend I didn't hear them. Like I pretended I didn't hear the poor boy who let loose a squeaker in class which vibrated on his chair. Those around him erupted into giggles but I kept my cool and kept reading aloud, all the while, dying inside. But I've mastered the art of pretending I didn't hear.

Sometimes when they ask me a dumb question, I'll try hard not to roll my eyes. But then I'll tell them to ask a friend or look at the board where I've written the answer. I'm doing them a disservice if I answer every question because they aren't thinking for themselves. I want them to be problem-solvers and this means I sometimes must refuse to answer them so they will grow.

I wonder if God doesn't see us in a similar fashion. We, like freshman, are silly, giggling humans, naive to so much around us. We can't even fathom all of our ignorance. And we ask lots of questions of God. Really stupid questions. Sometimes He answers, but often He doesn't right away. I don't think God rolls His eyes or pretends He didn't hear the question, but I wonder if His lack of response is actually Him saying, "you'll find out," or "figure it out." I wonder if it's because He wants us to search for the answers. I wonder if He just shakes His head at our silly questions and points to His word where the answers are clearly written. I wonder if He points us to others who know the answers already.

There is certainly more meaning in the answer if I've had to search for it. It is so much more rewarding to pose the question and then hunt for the answer and find it, even years later. And I find that I'm changed in the process. I'm becoming a "problem-solver."

In the past two years, I've have been writing down my questions when I read the Bible. And I have a lot of them. Sometimes the answer is simple and is clearly stated in the study section of my Bible. Sometimes I have to google the question but sometimes even google doesn't have the answer. So then I pray. Sometimes I've received the answer days later; sometimes it takes weeks or months or even years.

"God, why did you allow this?"

Years later the answers often are quite clear. "This happened so this could happen..." He knows our past and our futures and I trust that He allows trials and tribulations for reasons I sometimes cannot understand at the moment. I love looking back and seeing how He didn't answer me at the time and how because of His lack of response, I had to search.

And when I didn't find the answer right away, my faith grew. It grew in these times of questioning because "..faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1) I am sure that the hope I've placed in God and His promises will not be for naught. I am certain that He has the answers to my questions, even when He won't just give them to me.

Some answers I'm still waiting on. But I haven't forgotten the questions and I continue to seek. And although I'd often prefer God just spit the answers out, I'm glad He hasn't. I'm glad for the process.

Okay, one more confession but I will offer no explanation. My most recent google search was as follows: "how to dance at a club." Laugh it up people but it turned out to be a very popular search.

Now it's your turn. What is the last thing you googled? Or, if you really want to make my day, what's something you've googled that you should probably know already?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cat Confessions

Tonight was our first game of the season. We lost. But I when I think back to this game in ten years, I probably won't remember whether or not we won. I think I will only remember the confession made in the locker room afterwards. One of my players announced to the team, "When I took that first shot, I pooped my pants a little." I whipped my head around to look at her incredulously, assuming I had misheard or misunderstood her. But I hadn't. She said when she landed, a little just shot out. After we picked up our jaws from the floor and recovered from our fits of hysterics, I told she should not tell people this. Ever.

"Yeah, I probably should have just told you, Coach."

"No. No, poopy pants. You shouldn't even have told me. I will now tease you mercilessly about it. That confession should have gone with you to the grave."

Then I felt guilty for all my diaper jokes and decided to relieve some of my guilt by making a few of my own confessions.

Confession # 1 I am 28. I am single. And I have a cat. Go ahead. Start making the assumptions. My family was watching "Modern Family" and the nerdy younger sister asked, "If dumb boys like dumb girls, and smart boys like dumb girls, what do smart girls get?" Phil answered, "Cats mostly," and my family turned to look and laugh at me. But I don't care. Dotty is awesome and I might just write a post about how great she is. Matter of fact, as I type this, she is sitting on my stomach giving me a free massage. Sure, it's a little painful since she's digging her claws into my skin but it's the thought that counts.

Confession # 2 Not only do I have a cat, I talk to her. And she responds. Recently she found me downstairs and meowed in a tone that I knew she was trying to tell me there were ants in her food. Sure enough, I trotted upstairs to discover the ants and was amazed by our communication skills. I told this story to my brother, boasting of my cat-communicating abilities and he replied, "Katie, do NOT tell other people about this."

Confession # 3 Some of Dotty's claws have started falling out and I've saved a few... and considered making a necklace out of them. It's not a sincere consideration- I mean, I haven't bought the materials for it. But I do have a few claws currently sitting on my nightstand. It reminds me of when I used to get my warts frozen off and I would save them to mail to friends. I don't think I actually ever followed through though so I just had a desk drawer with envelopes containing my frozen warts.

Here is my first post about Dotty. I'm sure more will follow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Generic Gratitude

Every year when my mom's side of the family gathers on Thanksgiving, we play the candy corn game. Every year we have to decide what we will announce to the entire family that we are most thankful for and then we eat a candy corn. So every year we must decide: do I go cheesy and sentimental? If I do, I risk sounding insincere in my gratitude. So should I attempt to be original and creative in my response? But then if I admit I'm thankful that my adult acne has finally cleared up, my family might think me vain and ungrateful for the major blessings in my life.

This year we're not all gathering so here is my response if we were to play. I'll do both. I'll go generic and then specific.

1) I am thankful for my family. This is a total cop-out in the candy corn game. We all have incredible families. I judge relatives for their lack of creativity and sincerity when they simply say, "I'm thankful for family." Why? Why are they so great? Here's why mine is:

My parents are wonderful. They are my biggest fans and have given us all a healthy self-confidence and awareness of our place in this world. They don't let us have overinflated views of ourselves and they tell us when we are foolish or silly or wrong. But they have always pointed us to Jesus and taught us that we are so very loved by both our creator and by them. Plus, they modeled for us how to live the abundant life and how to love deeply and laugh at oneself.
My siblings are pretty fantastic. We all live within a few minutes of each other (okay my brothers are still down the hall from each other) and see each other numerous times during the week. I don't think it's typical how much we enjoy each other. There is something truly special about hanging out with people who know basically everything about you- every silly crush, every embarrassing moment, every job, every relationship, every mishap and moment you wish everyone would forget about. We are ruthless when it comes to teasing and we have 20 plus years of material to work with. No wonder we are always laughing when we get together.
Trent, Trav and Heid also picked pretty incredible spouses. I don't know anything different so I can only imagine how un-fun it would be if a sibling married someone boring or rude or awkward. Instead Dan, Emma, and Teri are fun, kind, and only occasionally awkward. Now if only they'll teach me how to dance...

Obviously I'm thankful for my three remarkable nephews. See this post or this post if you don't believe me. These boys never fail to bring laughter and joy.

2) I am thankful for my friends. Another generic cop-out. But my friends truly are unique and wonderful. I've often told them that God knew I would be single for longer than many others and thus, He provided me with extra special girls. Granted, most of these treasures don't live close by and I'm not much of a phone person, but when I do get to see them or catch up on the phone, my sides typically hurt from laughing so hard. I've also been blessed with recent friendships as well- girls in similar stages of life and in close proximity who keep me laughing daily. Girls who sneak into my room and leave notes like this on my computer:
3) I am thankful for my job. I think I have the best job in the world. Not just because I have summers off. Sure, I often complain about grading essays being the "bane of my existence" and sure, I answer the same question about 8 times every class period, but I still love it. I love it because every day is different. Every day is an adventure. Maybe not as crazy as it was in Maputo but as I'm learning to live in the present, I am seeing each day as an adventure and teaching truly is a rewarding adventure. My students are hilarious and random and sponges eager to learn. My colleagues are hilarious and random and friends eager to encourage. My players are hilarious and random and jokesters eager to make fun of me. Right now it's the lisp. They die every time I try to say, "free fast break" too quickly. They also got me pretty good yesterday. "Coach, can you come get the bug out of Kari's locker?" Naivee me came to the rescue, opened the locker and out jumped Jelissa. I screamed so loudly that two girls collapsed on the locker room floor in tears. I am truly blessed.

4) I am thankful for my health. See how boring and insincere these sound? But I really am. Even though my teeth are having issues and falling out when they shouldn't, overall I am very healthy.
I've always taken health for granted but as I get older, I am gaining a greater appreciation for my body and the ability to run. I recently told an new friend that I am more rested, more energetic and overall, just happier when I run. She laughed but I was serious. I think I've found that notorious "secret to life." Well, running and Jesus. I also love that I can still play basketball against my girls. The Boise State coach was at our practice recruiting Kari and said, "You sure have fun out there with them." And I do. Maybe too much. I love blocking their shots and shoving them to the ground or diving on top of them after a loose ball. I love that my arms and legs and hips are still speckled with black and blue bruises during the winter season.

5) I am thankful for hope. For the last 6 months this is what God has been whispering and sometimes shouting to me. Hope. I recite Romans 15:13 at least 4 times a day when it comes to mind. "May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may OVERFLOW WITH HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit." Truly, I feel as if now, more than any time in my life, I am overflowing with hope.

Two days ago the same quote from Andrew Murray showed up in two of the different books I'm reading. When I read it the second time in the same night, I said, "What the?" Here's the quote:

We have a God who delights in impossibilities and who asks, 'Is anything too hard for me?' - Andrew Murray.

No. Nothing is too hard for Him. When I'm tempted to stop praying something because I've heard the answer "wait" for years, this reminds me to keep praying. Nothing is impossible with God. This is why I place my hope in Him. This is why He truly is the God of hope. This is why I am so thankful for hope. I know it is not in vain.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Protocol for Encounters with Strangers

I don't always make a great first impression. But the other day I really wanted to make a good one. I was meeting all the other girls' basketball coaches in our new league and I wanted to impress. Being the only female and the youngest, I wanted them to leave thinking, "Wow, that Valley coach sure has her stuff together."

But the problem was I had to come straight from our practice. I scrimmage against our girls and when I play, I do not "glisten" or "glow". I sweat. It pours out of every pore. Once in college, I had just left practice and someone asked me if I had come from the pool. You get the idea.

So I arrived at the meeting sweaty. Not a great start. But I figured I could still recover. "Sound like you know what you're talking about and they'll look past the disheveled hair." I thought I pulled it off.... until I went to the bathroom afterwards. First, I had a major sharky. This is when the hair on the top of your head gets pulled out, making it appear that you have a fin like a shark. They look ridiculous. No matter how badly I was playing, if someone on the court got a sharky, my mood was instantly improved. So I shook my head at myself in the bathroom mirror and redid my ponytail only to notice a giant blob of nutella in my ear. IN MY EAR. I had been eating bread with nutella right before practice and I skillfully managed to lodge some in my ear. And then I played basketball for 2 hours. So I had a sweaty, now crusty blob of nutella in my ear.

I should have gone with a different strategy for the first impression: look like a total buffoon so they underestimate our team. That is what I accomplished.

Why didn't anyone tell me there was a giant mess of hazelnut spread in my ear? Why? And why didn't they tell my my hair looked ridiculous? Why? Because they were strangers and it was not socially appropriate to point out the ridiculous mess in my ear. Had we been friends or even acquaintances, someone might have said something. But I've found that there is a different set of social mores when it comes to dealing with strangers. Today alone I experienced two other awkward encounters with strangers and I'm curious if I am following the proper protocol when these situations arise. You be the judge.

1) What do you do when you accidentally gleek on a stranger? I spit on my students all the time. Accidentally. And I always say something because I know if I don't, they'll be snickering behind my back for the rest of the period. However, should you point out to a stranger when your saliva ends up on their shirt? Or their face? Perhaps there is different protocols depending on where the spit lands. I think you must acknowledge and apologize if your spit makes contact with skin. Today I gleeked all over the desk at Jiffy Lube. I'm sure the guy must have noticed. Especially because I shocked myself a bit and probably looked surprised. But I chose not to acknowledge the gleeking mishap. I didn't hit the guy and I didn't know what to say. "Um, sorry sir. I just spit all over your desk involuntarily. You might want to wipe that up when I walk away."

2) What do you do when you know someone is home and isn't answering the door because they don't hear you knocking? In this case the doorbell isn't working. How many times can you pound on a door without making it sound like an emergency? How many times can you knock without annoying the people who might just be slow walkers? And what if the door is open but the screen door is shut? Screen knocks aren't very loud but "screen pounds" cause too much of a scene. It's not a friend's house so you can't call them on the phone. The only other option seems to be to shout. I stood on a doorstep today pondering what I should yell out. Do I go with a simple, "Hello?" Or, "Anyone home?" Or "I know you're there..." Or, "There is a stranger standing on your doorstep." After much deliberation and a curious look from a nosey neighbor, I went with the classic, "Um....knock, knock?" Still no response. I wasn't loud enough. Darn my insecure "knock knock" choice. I couldn't risk total embarrassment and try a new phrase so I hung my head in defeat and made my way to the car. Of course, right as I finished my walk of shame I heard a faint, "hello?" come from inside.

3) What do you do if a stranger has something giant in their teeth? I'm not talking about a little pepper. In this scenario the stranger has something green and ginormous stuck smack front and center of their smile. You know they will be mortified when they check the mirror later, so do you do the polite thing and point it out? Or is that actually impolite? Should you ignore it instead? If you choose to point it out, timing is crucial. I hate when people make everyone else aware of the awkward moment by announcing, "You have a little something right there" right when I was in the middle of saying something. Now I have to work on picking at my teeth while everyone watches me try to follow your directions to find where the food is lodged. Instead, I am a proponent of the "catch eye contact and silently motion to your own teeth" technique. Discretion is key here. Sure, everyone probably already saw the food but they don't need to also witness the shameful moment when you are made aware that you look like a fool.

4) What do you say to a stranger during the "meet n greet" at church? Most people don't give this much thought but I get a little awkward every Sunday as I debate whether or not I should give them my name. Silly, I know, but there is no set protocol. Some people exchange names and others merely exchange "good mornings" and hand shakes. Last Sunday I made the wrong decision. We said good mornings and then I tried to take it a step further. "I'm Katie" I said, beginning what I thought would be introductions. But all I got in return was a smile. Just a smile. No, "Nice to meet you Katie. I'm Susan." Just a smile. I felt like a fool going around telling people my name for no reason. Lesson learned. Stick with "good mornings" and wait to see if they offer their name first. But Susan, help a sister out and give your name in return.

5) What do you do if a stranger doesn't realize a bug is crawling on them? I think the answer to this predicament depends on the size and location of the bug. Smallish? No potential danger? Ignore it. On the pants or shoes? Ignore it. But at some point, these bugs should not be ignored. Large bug? Potential for stinging or biting? Bug touching skin? Say something. I still think I saved a man's life last year at a craft store by following these guidelines. A spider which had a body alone the size of a quarter was on his shoulder. It was the biggest spider I had ever seen and I was trying not to freak out. He was talking and I didn't want to interrupt. Plus, the beastly spider wasn't on his skin so I hesitated. But then it got to his neck. Now the question becomes, how do you tell them? Do you flick the bug off yourself? Do you speak in a panicked or calm voice? You don't want to freak them out and make them make a fool of themselves but you also don't want them to die. In my life-saving case the man was mid-story and I stopped him to say, "I'm sorry but there is a giant spider on your neck" and pointed to the side. He swept it off and stomped it and then looked amazed at the dead spider and said, "That might have killed me." And that, my friends, is how I saved a stranger's life.

6) What do you do when a stranger has a bleeding zit on his/her face? I endured an adolescence plagued by acne so this is all too familiar for me. I despised people who said, "You're bleeding" when we were in a group, thus alerting EVERYONE to the fact that not only do I have acne, I pick at it too. I say the same rules apply for when someone has food in their teeth. Don't even say, "You have something on your face." These words make everyone turn and look. Wait for a discrete moment and then brush your own face to show the victim where the bleeding blemish is so they can take care of it without everyone pitying them because of their acne. Follow this same protocol when dealing with giant boogers and cliff-hangers. Silently point to the afflicted nostril and then turn away to let them privately figure out how to handle their slimy situation.

7) What do you do when a stranger's underwear is hanging out? Easy one. Say nothing. There is no discrete charade you can do that is socially appropriate to alert the victim to their fashion faux pas. You can only tell friends and family when they need to hide the granny panties or put the crack away. I noticed a male colleague unknowingly suffering from this the other day and snickered from afar. That's all you can do.

8) What do you do when speaking with a stranger and you slip and say something awkward? Should you point out the fact that you realize you just said something awkward? Or do you ignore your own mishap? Example: You started to say "good" but mid-word switched to "great" and ended up telling a stranger that you are doing "grood." Do you ignore this? I say it depends on the stranger. Do they seem fun? Then you can laugh about it together. Do they seem crotchety? Say nothing. They might not find awkwardness funny which makes the situation doubly awkward. Last year our opposing team was wearing pink shooting shirts. I asked the male coach if they wore them for "breast awareness month." Stupid cancer. He didn't seem like the joking type so I said nothing but blushed quite a bit.

I hope you've found these guidelines to be helpful. However, I realize that I am a very awkward girl and some might disagree with my protocols. Are there any guidelines that you disagree with? Are there other awkward scenarios with strangers that I'm forgetting?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Pirate Nephews


My nephews are pretty incredible. I love to brag about them and tell Vander and Huddy stories. They just turned 4 and 2 and have such sweet spirits and such sweet faces.
Yes, I'm that girl who is constantly telling kid stories. And they're not even mine. But they are priceless. Their logic and their actions are so comical. I never knew kids could be so entertaining. And I learn so much from them and laugh so much with them.
They are the main men in my life right now and though I'm usually exhausted after playing with them, it's worth all the laughter and joy they bring me. Here's why they've been making laugh lately:

1) Hudson will occasionally open his eyes SUPER wide.
2) When Vander doesn't have a weapon, he'll yell, "I'm one-armed! I'm one-armed" He means "unarmed." Heidi and Dan purposely don't correct him. He also recently said we were going to "inside-outside" for dinner (aka In-N-Out) and asked me to play "coconuts and ladders" with him. (chutes and ladders)

3) Hudson loves to wear my shoes and go through my purse. His parents are not concerned. Yet. But the other day I had to explain to Dan why his son had foundation smeared all over his cheeks and lip gloss in his hair. He also loves to find my girl products and then run when I try to steal them back. Wonderfully awkward.

4) At their pirate party, Huddy stuffed his face with at least 6 cupcakes. At least he was willing to share his frosting with me. His usual response when one asks for some of his food is, 'No way, Jose."

5) Vander is a bit obsessed with weapons right now and loves "attacking." In a recent battle, he paused mid-battle to ask, "Katie, do you come at me in the name of the Lord?"

"Huh?" I looked to Heidi. She explained that he loves the David and Goliath story and often comes at people in the name of the Lord.

6) Huddy was eating something when we were all playing tag out front. But we didn't have any food outside. So I opened his mouth and fished around and pulled out some gum. Then I noticed the wad of chewed gum on the sidewalk that had clearly just had 2 year old nails scraping through it. He turned "ABC gum " into "ABCBASALOTG gum" (already been chewed by a stranger and left on the ground). Nasty.

7) I taught Vander the expression, "Hey good-lookin, whatcha got cookin?" He was super excited to try it out and ran to his dad and said, "Hey good-lookin, what's in the oven?" He thought he had nailed it because Heidi and I were laughing so hard.

8) Heidi sent me this video while I was teaching. I've since watched it about 47 times. At the very end you can't really understand Hud but he is trying to pray so he folds his hands and says, "Let's pray..."



9) Vander has some interesting problem-solving skills. Luckily, only Heidi overheard this conversation:

Vander: "Katie, do you have boobies?"

Me: "Yep. All girls do."

Vander: "Then why don't you feed Logan his dinner?"

Me: "Ummmmm....Heidi????"

Speaking of Logan, I love that lil' babe as well. He just doesn't say ridiculous things yet. He is 9 weeks and, like both of his brothers before him, giant for his age. He has no idea just how good he has it yet. His brothers both LOVE to kiss him and snuggle him. It's quite adorable.
10) Vander was talking to Heidi about who he will marry one day. He said he would like to marry Teri but Heidi explained that she is marrying Trent. His response:

"I could wrestle Trent."

Well played Vander.

11) Vander's thoughts on God and heaven are full of wonder and innocence. The other day we watched a balloon floating away and he said in a very matter-of-fact tone, "Welp, there must be a birthday party in heaven."

Then when we were watering the plants, he grew concerned that we couldn't reach some of the plants with the hose so I explained that they drink from the rain that God brings. I saw the wheels turning in his head and he replied, "Oh. So God waters the plants on Sundays and Jose waters them on Wednesdays." Something like that, Vander.

When I've had a long day spent dealing with ornery, jaded teenagers, I go hang out with these boys. They remind me of the wonder in the world. They remind me of the innocence, of the hope, of the joy in the world. And they remind me to laugh.