Saturday, August 27, 2011

My tribute to our son, Michael....


So I thought I should write a little tribute to my son Michael because its been a Jennifer overload on my blog. Michael said it's all I can think of this summer.  I did write the story of Bev's Best April Fools Day, 1993 (http://bev-benyamin.blogspot.com/2011/04/my-best-april-fools-day-ever.html) when I found out I was pregnant with him, but that's about it.
So this ones for you Michael! 

Jennifer has always been the straight A, creative, gifted student and Michael is the natural born athlete and musician, just like his father.

One of the things that amazed me about Lorens when we were dating is that he was good at every sport he's ever tried.  I realized that it must be natural born talent when Michael showed signs at an early age of being just like his dad.  When Michael was like 5, he would spend hours shooting hoops in our driveway.  He was on the basketball teams in grammar school.  When he was going into 6th grade, we moved to Manhattan...Kansas that is.  He won the Little Apple Optimist Club's Annual Hoop, Holler & Shoot  free throw contest for his school.  He was only 11 years old and he made 8 out of 10 baskets from the free throw line, breaking a 23 year old school record.  The winner from each of the 10 area schools got to be in the Free Throw Championship during halftime at the televised Kansas State University vs. Texas basketball game at KSU in December, 2005.  He made 7 out of 10 baskets that night and was given an autographed T-Shirt and an award.  He was one of 10 kids that made it to the Championship out of about 800 that tried.  Its a really big deal for these kids.
*************************************************************
This was an article about the contest last year....

Elementary students to compete in free-throw contest at K-State games
senior staff writer

Students who like to hoot and holler from the stands of Bramlage Coliseum have the opportunity to cheer on not only the Wildcats, but also some half-pint players, when fifth- and sixth-grade athletes compete during the game tonight.  This competition is part of the Little Apple Optimist Club's "Hoop, Holler ‘N Shoot," an annual free-throw shooting contest.  Thad Hall, chairman on the "Hoop, Holler ‘N Shoot" committee for the Optimist Club, said 838 Manhattan area kids participated in the event this year.   "A huge number of kids participated, so it's a big honor for these kids to make it to the Bramlage shoot," Hall said.


Prizes for the winners include a $100 grant to the classroom of the first-place boy and first-place girl, scholarships to basketball camps, plaques, autographed T-shirts, K-State merchandise, fast food coupons and more.  Hall said the participants show a healthy level of sports-style pride in representing their grade schools. He pointed out many K-State students are probably graduates of the schools represented.

"There will possibly be future K-State students shooting at this event, so it's always good to support our local kids," Hall said. "It's a good event for our community, and I think it's a fun event for the kids as well."  Tipoff time for all games is 7 p.m., and all "Hoop, Holler ‘N Shoot" contests are during the halftimes of their respective university games.  The event is sponsored by K-State Athletics; The Manhattan-Ogden Public Schools U.S.D. 383; local radio stations 97.5 Power Hits, Q 103.5 and 1420 "Talk of JC" KJCK; Kansas State Bank and McDonald's.
**************************************************************

We moved back to the Chicago area after the school year when my husband lost his job.  Mike was on his middle school basketball team both years.  When Mike started high school, he wanted to try organized football.  He never played football before high school.  This video below is of his first game quarterbacking in 2009 as a H.S. Sophomore.  He completed a 50+ yard pass within the first 10 seconds of this video.  At 50 seconds into this video, Mike makes another long completion (my favorite one).  At about 58 seconds into this videoI'm the nut in the white shirt, galloping sideways down the sidelines, arms waving for the receiver to keep running.  Then I try to compose myself so I'm clapping.  

Michael was Jr. Varsity, #17, in 2009, Quarterback
Willowbrook Warriors
"Silver & Blue, Through & Through"
He threw for over 300 yards this game but his favorite part was the quarterback sneak for 2 points at about 1:50 into this video.  His coach told Mike after this game that Mike was his fantasy football player of the week.

He was on the football and tennis team for 3 years.  But this year, his senior year, while he loves football, he's decided not to be on the football team.  His grades were really bad last year and we encouraged him to make some tough choices.  If he wants to go to college and have 1/2 a chance in life, he's going to have to concentrate on his school work this year and get his test scores up.  

He had to make a decision about giving up some extra curricular activities.  He surprised us when he said he'd give up football.  He said tennis is his favorite sport and what he wants to do in life (well besides girls and his garage band).  He never played tennis once before high school either.  I never would have thought of him as a tennis player.  But he's so quick and so tall, (already 6'3" and still growing).  He's got a long reach with his long arms and so not much gets past him.  Turns out, he's perfect for tennis.  He wears a size 18 shoe (so far, he's still growing) so its been tough finding him good tennis shoes unless they're online.

His tennis coach has been working with him and clocked Michael's powerful serve at 80 mph.  He said Michael could make it to the State Championship this year if he keeps at it.  He said Mike could possibly get a Tennis Scholarship like he did if Michael concentrates and devotes himself to tennis this entire year.  There will be a lot of colleges watching. 

One of Michael's favorite players is the tennis great Andre Agassi.  Agassi's father was in the Olympics for Boxing twice and is an Assyrian from Iran just like Michael's dad.  So Michael is 1/2 Assyrian just like Andre.  Michael also refuses to cut his hair.


Below is a picture of Michael last year as a Junior at the Willowbrook Varsity Tennis Invitational.  There were 56 players from 8 high schools competing in the tournament.  MICHAEL WON 2ND PLACE.

There are preseason football games starting and I already miss being a football mom.  I can still go cheer on the team and help sell refreshments but it won't be the same.  Then again, my heart was in my throat watching Michael get hit, so maybe I'll enjoy the games even more.  And in the end, its exactly what needed to happen.  He has more time to work on his grades and tennis.  If you ask him, he's got more time to work on girls, his song writing, guitar and drum playing with his friends.  They got some studio time last week and he said it was heaven.  He is thinking he'll be a professional athlete or a famous rock musician.  I don't want to be the one to crush his dreams but I did let him know the odds are against him.  I told him, you need a back up plan Michael, like a college degree. 

Lorens reminds me that Michael IS a gifted musician, showing signs ever since we got a piano when he was 2 years old.  If he heard you play something, he could play it.  Lorens was upset I lost the guitar tuner the other day.  Mike said, "dad, don't worry about it, I'M YOUR TUNER".   And he tuned it perfectly by ear.  He plays guitar at school and will be playing in the guitar ensemble on stage this year.  He spends hours each day on Tux Guitar online writing music that he then plays for us.

BOTH of my kids are awesome in their own, unique ways.  
Even though I'm not a football mom this year,
I AM A LUCKY MOM 
TO HAVE MICHAEL AS MY SON.


Michael,  Homecoming, 2010

2010, Michael was Varsity, #16, Tight End



f

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bev's week from hell/my nest is full again.

So, how was your week?
This was our week over here at Bad Luck Central:

My daughter started and ended college this week and was in an Earthquake, and a Hurricane.  I was a Full-time Day Care Provider for a teething 2 year old during a Chicago heat wave with my thermostat stuck on heat and set to 90.  I was a  mentor to my son on his bad, first day back at school.  I was the driver of my injured husband to the new Hospital, which, of course, was on fire & I failed my CDL tests.  

So I haven't written in a few weeks because its been a stressful time, lots of tears, not much to laugh at.  My daughter made it into the college of choice but I didn't know how we would get her to D.C.  I figured, maybe if she's away from us she'll be spared the family curse that seems to be upon us.  I WAS WRONG.

Wednesday was so stressful, that as I was dropping off my husband at the Emergency room at 8pm, I shouted into the sky, "IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG TODAY?"  Big mistake.  By 10:00 pm, the fire in the hospital had been contained and I started to laugh as I thought about this week, it had been a total Bev/Lucy bad luck week.  Maybe I should start from the beginning....

MONDAY, 8/22/2011:
Monday, my husband and our daughter flew to D.C. so she could start college at one of the most expensive private colleges in the U.S.  Even though we're poor, she's extremely talented and gifted and was awarded almost $45K in scholarships to attend so we thought she could go.  The airline tickets were made possible thanks to our niece Aimee.  She used her airline miles from her new job in Texas to get two tickets.   When Lorens got back from D.C. Monday night, we started looking for smaller apartments so we could send Jen spending money each month.

TUESDAY, 8/23/2011, THE EARTHQUAKE:
The next day, Tuesday, less than 24 hours after she arrived in D.C., I was watching T.V. and they interrupted  for a special announcement.  The largest EARTHQUAKE to hit D.C. in over a hundred years had just struck.


I was shaking as I dialed her cell number.  I got a constant busy signal.  I was hysterical until I finally got through to her an hour later.  She said she was in her dorm room when the earthquake hit.  She's OK, just a little shaken, they evacuated the college and they were all standing outside.  I was way more freaked out than her.

Being the major smart ass that she is, and trying to make light of it so I wouldn't worry, she said, "Don't worry mom, the hurricane will put out any fires from the earthquake."  

I said, "HURRICANE?!!!"
That's the first time I had heard about the 2nd disaster 
that was about to hit D.C. this week, Hurricane Irene. 
That was my Tuesday.

WEDNESDAY, 8/24/2011:
I had to babysit our terrible two Grandniece Grandniece and their dog, and agreed to babysit them as long as necessary.  The 2 year old is getting her molars in and it was very hard to make her happy.  I'm usually funny, silly, Auntie Bev to her, but nothing was working this morning.  I was stressed out, tired and feeling way older than 45, running after her all day.  Lorens promised me he'd be home by 5pm to take over for me until she fell asleep.  She was like a terrible 2 on steroids over tired.

Then the phone rang.  It was my daughter, crying, "Mom, I'm not going to college here anymore, please get me home NOW!"  She talked to financial aid, bottom line, it will be 4 times greater out of pocket than what her award letter indicated for her to attend this University.  Turns out it's about the 8th most expensive University there is, and we're poor.  And Jennifer doesn't want thousands of dollars in student loans when she finishes college, not that we could ever get them.

I was still on the phone with Jen.  My mouth was hanging open but I didn't know what to say.  My head was spinning with the thoughts I had only a few days ago, that my child had made it out, she was getting away from this life.  Now those hopes and dreams were fading away, all in a phone call, it was over, she was coming back to this life, back to nothing.  

Just then, Michael walked in the door and slammed his books down and went up to his room.  He said he had a bad 1st day back at school.

So, hoping Jen wouldn't hear the tears in my voice, trying to hold it together for 1 more minute, I told Jen I needed to call her back.  I was having major family drama at home today on all fronts and needed 10 minutes to gather my thoughts and call her back.  She asked if she could come home before Irene.  Oh yeah, I had almost forgotten about Irene.  
You know Irene, she's the 
CATEGORY 3 HURRICANE
 that is expected to hit D.C. on Saturday.
My daughter goes to D.C. for less than week 
and she is going to experience 
an Earthquake and a Hurricane?  
Oh yes, she's definitely Bev's/Lucy's daughter.

I finished giving my Grandniece her bath, turned off the chicken/oven, dressed her and laid down with her in my daughters room.

I was quietly crying, looking around at all Jen's awards.  Years of working towards making something of herself, to get out, to get away.  Now I knew she's not going to go to this University, which accepted her, her #1 choice for years, something she's worked towards her entire life.  Pondering my next move, I wiped away my tears, still feeling guilty because I didn't have the time or money for either of my kids at that moment.  

But the baby wouldn't fall asleep, it was too hot.  I had to get up and deal with it.  Why was it so friggin hot?  Then I remembered I caught the little ninja my Grandniece, an hour ago, standing on the stairs, next to the thermostat (to reach the top of the fish tank) pouring the entire open bottle of fish flakes in. There was fish food EVERYWHERE, and it smelled like dead fish in my house.  Lorens hates fish and I haven't cooked it in the house in 20 years, unless I'm mad at him.  He's not going to be happy when he gets home.  OH WELL.  I could see she had actually pushed the lever DOWN to "HEAT" and the little lever had snapped off.  It was set to 90.  No wonder it felt like heat was coming out of the vents, IT WAS!  I used a pen to snap the broken lever back up to A/C and turned the temperature down to 72.
HEAT MYSTERY SOLVED.

With the A/C now on, my Grandniece FINALLY fell asleep and I went upstairs, checked on Mike, tried to give him words of comfort and wisdom and then I called Jen back.

Jen was over the initial shock and tears, so was I.  She said, "Mom, I can get a degree in Anthropology at a school in the Chicago area, I'll be able to volunteer in the inner city and just live at home.  There are great colleges in Chicago.  A college education is a college education.  I'll be fine."  

The baby woke up 20 minutes later when the doorbell rang and the 3 dogs started barking like a pack of wolves.  Just enough of a nap to make her more cranky, great.  I was ready to kill whoever just rang the doorbell.  It was Lorens.  I opened the door, wondering why he didn't use his key.  He said he got hurt helping his friend.  I thought, yeah right, likely story.  It was probably just an excuse to get out of babysitting.

I thought,  I'm going to do a hand off with her like a professional football player and run for my room.  So I gave him 2 Tylenol P.M.s.  Then I said "here you go!", and I put her down like I had dreamed of for the last few hours, hand off complete.   He said "Bev, I can't move my hand or shoulder!"  I said "OK, GOODNIGHT," and ran upstairs.  Bad wife, I know, but I really, really needed a few minutes alone.  So after a 5 minute break upstairs I was calm and already feeling guilty.  So I came downstairs thinking, we'll just tag team with the baby the rest of the night.  Lorens was gagging from the smell of fish, giving me a dirty look, assuming I had cooked some.  He said "drive me to the hospital right now or call an ambulance."  I looked at him, his hand and shoulder were swollen to twice their normal size.  So, OK, I guess he wasn't faking.  I felt dizzy myself, my high blood pressure was probably through the roof by now.  Maybe the hospital was a good idea.

But I didn't have a car seat for the baby and our Niece was already at work.  I finally got a hold of her fiance' to come pick up his daughter, told him I had an emergency.  They weren't the only ones with drama today.  He was 5 minutes away and came over to get her, 14 hours after we picked her up.  That was the best part of my day.

I rushed Lorens to the emergency room and went to park the car.  I parked and just sat there for a minute, cried a little more and shouted into the sky, "IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG TODAY?"  Then I went inside.  When I asked why there was such limited seating, they said it was because they had so many exam rooms in this new E.R., more seating was unnecessary.  They were wrong.

During hour 2 in the supposedly "new and improved" waiting room, with nowhere to sit, I thought, once again, can this day possibly get any worse?  JUST THEN, the lights all started flashing, and an alarm was going off and on.  Then an automated voice came over the intercom "CODE RED, CODE RED, CODE RED".  And I thought, Lucy, what have you done now!!!  You should have kept quiet and stayed in the damn car.  

So I went up to the receptionist and said, "Is there a fire?"  She said "Yes there is", as if she was saying have a nice day, and went back to her work, she was going to leave it at that.  I said, "Soooooo,  should we evacuate the hospital?" as all the lights were still flashing.  She said, "No, they're working on containing it, just don't open any doors."  GREAT.   The automated lady on the intercom  made an all clear announcement about 15 minutes later.  By that time I felt a migraine coming on from the flashing lights.  Lorens said he'd had enough of this "new and improved" E.R.  He said the Tylenol P.M's were starting to work and he just wanted to go home and go to bed.  He woke up every 2 hours in pain which means so did I.

THURSDAY, 8/25/2011:
I spent Thursday figuring out how I was going to get Jen and all her stuff home in the next 48 hours before Hurricane Irene.  I swallowed what was left of my pride and borrowed money for a train ticket and to ship her belongings home.  Hurricane Irene is scheduled to hit D.C. on Saturday afternoon, right after Jen's train is scheduled to leave with 100mph winds pushing it towards Chicago.  Great.

Then our other niece (the mother of the 2 year old) called and said I may need to babysit her daughter full-time, 5pm-1am, second shift.  I held back the urge to scream and laugh like a crazy woman and said as calmly as possible, "Sorry, no freakin way.  The starting time for my new job is 6am."  Now she's mad at me.  She can join the club.  I really hope I get the job tomorrow, knowing my new, other option, is watching a 2 year old full time.

FRIDAY, 8/26/2011:
Well, its currently Thursday night, 10 minutes to midnight in Chicago, so by the time I post this it will be Friday.   I was offered a job as a school bus driver if I can pass the CDL test.  I have my truck driving test at 7am.  I had planned on studying all this week, and then all of this happened.  I'm afraid of all the things that could go wrong with me driving a 40 foot, 2 ton vehicle.  I don't want to have to add anything else to this week from hell post.  I need to go to sleep.  Goodnight.


UPDATE:  IT'S FRIDAY AFTERNOON:  I thought I had studied enough for my 3 tests.  On the way there, I was pretty confident I would pass....UNTIL I GOT THERE AND FAILED.  You get 3 chances.  On my second attempt, they were all new questions, luckily the ones that I had studied, and I passed with flying colors.  I got my CDL permit and I start work on Monday at 6am, training behind the wheel.

Nothing catastrophic happened to any of us.  Maybe this week of bad luck is over.  I got home and checked my e-mail, I have some new followers on Twitter, a screenwriter and publisher from L.A, Lawry's Steakhouse in Chicago (Yummy) AND BEST OF ALL, an anchor woman from CNN!!!  Maybe someone will say, hey, I know someone that can help this chick get published.  Where's some wood, I need to knock on it, quick, because I still have my nieces damn dog and Michael came home sick from school today.

And my daughter made it home, safe and sound.  The earthquake and hurricane only caused minor damage.  She may not be at American, Princeton, Stanford or Yale like a few others in her graduating class, but the students that were, along with her entire senior class, voted HER "Most likely to rule the world".   She was also voted Best Actress, starred in the Improv Troupe and Speech Team, winning 1st place and the most points ever earned in speech team.  She is in the National Honor Society, has won countless ribbons and trophies, broken records, and is a gifted writer and a natural comedian.  She was accepted into several top universities, but now,  it's to late to start anywhere else this semester.  She will start community college in Chicago in January.  She's saving up to go to Kenya for 2 weeks next summer to volunteer in an orphanage through Daniel Radcliff's (actor who plays Harry Potter) volunteer program (http://www.volunteerhq.org/about.html).  Then she plans on transferring to University of Illinois at Chicago.  Their Anthropology program is highly regarded.  She wants to volunteer in the inner city.  She'll be fine.

It's D.C.'s loss and Chicago's gain.
They're just lucky I live 800 miles away.
Signed, Mama Lioness





Monday, August 1, 2011

I tried NOT to blog about Chicago's weather, BUT......

I WASN'T GOING TO BLOG ABOUT CHICAGO'S CRAZY WEATHER THIS YEAR BUT, COME ON NOW CHICAGO, SERIOUSLY?  WTF!  This is my happy blog and I have nothing to laugh about, its not funny.  Mother Nature needs a Midol.  

In case you haven't heard about it, let me fill you in.  During the last few seasons, Chicago has been experiencing record breaking everything. 


 Currently, its record breaking HEAT.


The INSECTS are worse than they've ever been. 

Of course, the SNAKES in my suburban backyard are loving it 
and are bigger than ever this year.  

I'm sick of the extremes in Chicago's weather this year!
This winter wasn't just snow, it was RECORD BREAKING SNOW.  


2 feet of snow fell in Chicago on 2/2/11....

Literally.
Lake Shore Drive, downtown Chicago, 2/2/11

We even had a thing called "THUNDER SNOW" this year.  It's thunder and lightening, in the winter, during a blizzard.  I'm 45 and have NEVER even heard of anything like it.   Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel caught it on tape while he was on Michigan Avenue covering the approaching blizzard.

There was NO SPRING in Chicago this year, just a few extra months of winter and COLD ASS RAIN.  There was even a chance of SNOW during the Cubs home opener in March:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


An Ugly Cubs' Opener?

I'm not predicting the play of the Chicago Cubs or the Pittsburgh Pirates by any means here! This is strictly about the weather and how it could impact the game. On Friday, the Cubs and Pirates open the 2011 season at Wrigley Field at 2:20pm. At the very best, the weather looks chilly for this time of year with highs only in the 40s. At worst, snow could dust the baseball diamond! We're watching an Alberta-clipper that will dive into the U.S. and toward northern Illinois on Friday with some rain and snow. The computer models suggest we'll be cold enough for snow Thursday night when the system starts to move into the area. It also appears cold enough for snow on Friday afternoon, but with the high April sun angle and the timing of this low in question, we have a rain/snow mix in the forecast for now. Stay tuned... this could be a rotten opening game weather-wise!
Then summer finally came, but with near constant 100+ DEGREE HEAT index's more days than I care to remember and its not over yet, it's only August 1st!

Many of the storms came with RECORD BREAKING RAINFALL, WIND AND POWER OUTAGES as well.  Not once, not twice, but "the storm of the season" seems to have hit Chicago about 10 times this summer.  We lost power during 5 different big storms and had to get a generator and fill it with gasoline every hour for days.  And we were some of the lucky ones.  Some of my friends didn't have generators and their basements flooded, more than once this summer. 

Chicago storms break single-day rainfall record

The overnight storms that hit the Chicago area have broken the city’s record for most rainfall in a single day. The National Weather Service says 6.86 inches have fallen at Chicago O’Hare International Airport since 1 a.m. Saturday.
That’s the biggest single-day rainfall since records began in 1871. The previous record was 6.64 inches that fell on Sept. 13, 2008.Meteorologist Richard Castro says additional rain before midnight on Saturday could break the record for largest rainfall in Chicago in a 24-hour period. That record stands at 9.25 inches from Aug. 13-14, 1987.The overnight storm closed several flooded expressways, ramps and roads. Several thousand utility customers have also lost power.   (Posted on  by Chicago Local) I find myself blogging about the Chicago weather because it feels like a swamp outside ONCE AGAIN today.   It reminds me of a news story I heard a few months ago that said Chicago will become more swamp-like over time.  I didn't pay that much attention to it, assuming they were talking about 100 years from now.
Obviously they meant Chicago would be more swamp like  in 100 days.
It's going to be like going on a trip to the rain forest for people that want to travel to Chicago.  I can hear the travel agents now, "Oh, you want to travel to Chicago?  Well then, you'll need a series of shots.  Let's start with the one for malaria..."
I'm afraid to ask what's next.   Maybe dinosaurs shopping on Michigan Avenue?  
Will air boat rides replace the Windella Boat rides  on the Chicago River?
While the boaters take pictures of the  Alligators along the new River walk?
I guess I am going to write a post complaining about  the Chicago weather after all.  Hey Mother Nature,  save a few Midol's for me.