Tuesday, August 31, 2010

At Peace
by Laurie Kolp

I am not at peace.
My head is a caldron
of negative contemplation
marshaled by fear and unease.
Worries roil in boiling water
as overcooked anxieties create
a stench from which no scent can fuse.
How will I be able to do all of this?
Can I handle what is on my plate?
What if I don’t succeed?
Do I have the strength?
Is this… my, me, I?
I am not at peace.

I am at peace.
My head is as calm as
the eye of a hurricane and
love transcends all my thoughts
as I bask in the warmth of serenity.
I close my eyes and let the spirit
transfuse my soul with certainty,
a reassurance that all is okay.
When I let go and surrender
with prayer and faith,
I need not fret anymore;
He is in charge,
I am at peace.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Will Never Forget
by Laurie Kolp

Hurricane Rita- I will never forget
how five years ago,
we stayed in one small room
for three long weeks that seemed like years;
the five of us starving for shelter
in our disheveled world,
and the four of them so graciously
opening their home up to us.
I watched our young children
as they slept at the foot of our double bed,
three sleeping bags spread out just right-
far enough to allow space,
close enough to provide comfort.

I will never forget how before we evacuated,
I had packed the children’s favorite
stuffed animals to cuddle with,
toys to play with
and books to read;
one of each for each child-
only nine familiar things from home-
how was I to know it would be
three long weeks that seemed like years,
or that we might not have a house to go home to?

I will never forget the cataclysm, the mayhem
we faced upon our eventual return;
after three long weeks that seemed like years
the town we knew was gone.
Massive trees blocked roads, split homes in two,
toppled power lines tangled like webs,
roofs flown, water damage, mold, litter widespread;
would this family of five ever recover
from the wrath of Hurricane Rita,
or was she simply a catalyst
for what was to come two years later?
Hurricane Ike- I will never forget.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Andrew's TaeKwonDo birthday board breaking video

Happy Birthday, Andrew!

Waiting for Andrew to arrive.
Nine years ago today, I was holding my second child, Andrew, in my arms.  He was born a whopping 9 pounds and 21 inches long just two weeks before September 11, 2001.  Actually his due date was September 11, but because he was so big, I had a c-section on August 29.  Since Andrew has come into my life, it has been blessed with kindness, thoughtfulness, consideration and caring (the list could go on and on).   Happy birthday, Andrew! 
Holding Andrew in the hospital after he was born.
To Andrew
by Mom

My sweet, mild son easy-going and strong
you were destined to have a renowned
birthday. September 11, 2001, was the day
you were due, but you came August 29-
what a glorious day; and these first nine
years a gift so true. In 2004, at the
ripe young age of four, Hurricane Katrina
hit with such destruction on August 29-
your special birthday. My kind, fair
son so honest and humble, thoughtful,
caring, smart and true- nothing will
ever be more important, nor memorable,
nothing more spectacular, nor moving
than August 29- our special day;
your birthday. I love you, Andrew!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is carpool line etiquette anyway?

The carpool line is like an observation tank.  I mean, who needs books or crossword puzzles?  I sit in my car everyday and pull those items out of my "carpool line tote bag," but they usually go unscathed; the milieu provides enough entertainment for me.

Usually the excitement does not begin until close to dismissal time.  That is when all the stragglers drive up and blatantly disobey carpool line protocol (and we wonder why kids have a hard time adhering to rules).   I watch all the other guardians like me, drenched in sweat and reaching the point of heat exhaustion, stare at these rebels with complete disbelief as they inch their way forward.  It's like a wave in a stadium, the dropping of the jaws and following of the eyes as the violators pass each compliant person in line mere minutes before dismissal.  The dissenters try to squeeze their vehicles into coveted spots that are off-limits or through the alley-like lane that is really just space for the good cars to move forward after their children have been picked up. 

Some of the bad cars cut in the front of the line.  Others park across the street right in time for the bell and jaywalk across the middle of a busy intersection and then go back with their children the same way (even though the school has asked parents to walk to the light and cross).   I have seen cars waiting in the middle of the street holding up traffic so they do not have to get jammed into the mess, which probably would not be a mess if everyone followed carpool etiquette.

One day last week I was sitting in the hot car trying to find a semi-comfortable spot when I heard the sound of a diesel engine.  Was the food truck trying to make a delivery at this time of the day?  I turned to look, as the hot fumes from the big engine nearly melted my eyelashes, and saw a monster truck (and I mean MONSTER) with a dainty blond seated at the wheel.   My writer's mind was reeling with a million different possibilities as I witnessed the lady sit in her two-story tank for a few minutes, then pull off to the side, park and then storm into the office to call out her child.  Hmmm...

It makes me feel like I am back in New York City, where all the taxi drivers cut each other off and honk, honk, honk.  Luckily I do not hear the obscenities from the carpool line parents like I heard from the cabs, but perhaps it is because we all have our windows up and air-conditioning blowing at this point.  The kids will be out any minute now, after all.  Yes~ people can be captivating entertainment while sitting in carpool lines.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today's prompt over on Poetic Asides was to write a poem with the title Whatever _______.
So my darling husband came up with this poem.

by Pete Kolp

He said,
"Blah, blah,
blah, blah,
blah, blah, blah."

Then I said,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Night Owl
by Laurie Kolp

At night when all is quiet and still
and darkness surrounds the moon,
an owl begins its nightly task
a sound like bugs in June.

Scatters and hoots are seldom heard
as everyone rests silently,
but the owl works on from dusk to dawn
writing and drawing peacefully.

Sad news

The second day of school was quite different than the first.  The boys had a good day, but Katie did not.  She was having a hard time with the lock on her locker, so she was late to one class and then she could not get her lunch out.  Thankfully, a good friend lent Katie some money so she could buy a sandwich.

A short while after we got home and settled, Katie passed through the kitchen as I prepared dinner.  She blurted out the most shocking, sad news I have heard in a long time:

"AND my Social Studies teacher was killed yesterday."

"Are you serious?" I asked.

"Yes.  It was all over school this morning and I didn't know.  She was driving home from work and her car flipped.  She died instantly."

I stood frozen in time with no words to say.  I just gave Katie a big hug.  Apparently it was the same teacher she raved about last night...the nicest one who said she made cookies and brownies for her students.  The same teacher who had her first day of teaching in a new school and then left to drive the thirty minute distance to her husband and children.  One instant and everything changed.  Even though Katie met her for fifty minutes on one day, she will be missed.  God bless her soul.

Enjoy each moment of each day, you never know when God will call your way.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to school

Today was the first day of school, the first year all three children are not at the same school.   Katie started middle school/junior high (or whatever you want to call it) today.  Now she has to wear a uniform, use a locker and change classes for each subject. I was nervous all day- I usually get antsy with any kind of change.  I was not worried about the boys...they have wonderful teachers this year.  But Katie was a different story.  And luckily, the good Lord kept me busy all day so that I didn't have to think about it.

Here's what happened-

One of Pete's new employees just moved here in the middle of last week.  Unfortunately, the man broke his big toe when a piece of furniture fell on it, so he can't drive for a while.  His wife doesn't drive either.  He and his wife have a daughter entering seventh grade.  We all thought she would attend the same school as Katie, since their apartments are within walking distance to the school (the apartment complex even told them so).    This morning Katie and I picked them up while Pete took the boys to their school (I had met their teachers last Friday).

The line for registration was very long, and so they told me to go do whatever- they would call when done.  Well, I did not get a call for two hours.  When I picked them up at 10:00, they were very upset.  Apparently their apartments are zoned for another middle school (people across the street can go to Katie's school, though).  I drove them to the administration office, where they were placed on another waiting list.  This time, they called me back a little over an hour later.  Their request for transfer did not go through, so the other school would have to do. 

After getting turned around once, I finally got the tired, frustrated family to the other school at 1:00.  We were surprised (well, not really) when we read a big sign posted outside the office:

Registration closed for today.  Come back tomorrow.

I urged them to at least go inside and get the stack of papers to fill out, so hopefully tomorrow will be better for them.  After that, I dropped them off at their apartment and went home for a little while.  I would soon turn around and go to the carpool lines for my kids.

Guess what?  Everyone had a fantastic day.  The boys LOVE their teachers and Katie is ecstatic about middle school.  Thank you, God, for keeping me busy today.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Moon Dust
by Laurie Kolp

The moon’s reflection
smiles in the water
at the lone fisherman,
a futile attempt of hope
in a husband’s broken world.
Lost in the sea of his life
and barely able to look out
from the depths of doom,
the man’s grief erupts at last,
as his wife’s ashes
lap in the waves
and the salt from his tears
meets the moon.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Blame Game
by Laurie Kolp

She sits around and thinks all day,
a cigarette she puffs away.
Her mind is black, the smoke is gray-
it’s not Doomsday, it’s not Doomsday.

The phone sits close and calls her name,
I hear it ring this childish game.
Alone no more she sounds the same-
who will she blame, who will she blame?

Picture story of New York highlights: Trains, subways, limos and more...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Echoes from Without
by Laurie Kolp

Silent dreams
Silent echoes
Echoes of sin
Echoes within
Within the secrets
Within the rules
Rules to make
Rules to break
Break speed
Break dreams
Dreams destroyed
Dreams honored
Honored victims
Honored heroes
Heroes in darkness
Heroes in light
Light in flight
Light of hope
Hope and scope
Hope reborn
Reborn promises
Reborn city
City sincere
City of fear
Fear then faith
Fear souvenir
Souvenir shops
Souvenir junk
Junk graffiti
Junk throughout
Throughout the subway
Throughout my mind
Mind over matter
Mind behind
Behind the scenes
Behind New York
New York City
New York scene
Scene on Broadway
Scene of obscene
Obscene peddlers
Obscene gestures
Gestures from drivers
Gestures of kindness
Kindness within
Kindness without
Without the realms
Without doubt

Thursday, August 12, 2010

by Laurie Kolp

Worm taints big apple-
sweet surprise, this foreigner
in New York City

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On Beginnings

This morning we drove Katie to the airport and put her on a plane.  No, we did not let her fly alone; she went with six girls and one chaperone, all converging with one goal in mind- Peter Sklar's Beginnings Workshop.  Six months of mixed anticipation, careful planning and diligent preparation have finally culminated on this big day, Katie's birthday.  It is the first time she will venture out without us.

Last night I reminisced about the first time I left Katie at Mother's Day Out.  She was two-years-old.  I was getting ready to have Andrew and thought Katie might enjoy spending a few hours with kids her age.  I reluctantly dropped her off that first day and proudly watched as Katie put her arms around the screaming children and offered comfort.  I was so amazed...was leaving Katie going to be that easy? 

I drove around the block and then snuck back inside to check on Katie.  I peeked through the window and saw her sitting on the assistant's lap, listening to a story.  A sense of relief swept over me as I tiptoed back to the car.  The next time I dropped her off was different, though.  Katie cried and did not want me to go because she knew we would be apart.  Now Katie was leaving for a week, and I would be the one crying.

As you can guess, I have been frantically trying to get Katie ready while swimming in these mixed emotions.  What if she gets homesick?  What if she hates it?  What if she picks up negative behaviors?  What if the kids are mean to her, or the instructors ignore her?  What if...

I won't entertain you with the horrible thoughts I've had about Katie flying without us; you can probably guess what they are.  My poor father tried to alleviate my fears by offering a book for me to read by Greg Iles.

"What's it about?" I asked.

"Well, this huge airliner lands safely at an airport and then they find all the passengers dead...even the pilots."

The look my mother gave him could have melted ice. 

"I don't want to read a book like that!" I said.

My mom piped in, "Of course she doesn't.  I'm so sure, why would you even bring that up to a mother whose child will be flying without her?"  (More mean look).

"I just wanted her to know that the plane landed safely without the pilots, that's all."

Some difference this is between men and women, huh?  I heard men are like waffles (very matter-of-fact/compartmentalized) and women are like spaghetti (emotions and feelings wiggling all over the place), but that is a post for another time. 

As Pete and I watched Katie disappear through security, my heart raced.  I looked through that window so similar to the one I stood behind when she was two, and I did what any good spaghetti would do- I knocked on that window with both fists, hoping for one last wave goodbye.  I heard Pete mumble as he pulled me away, "It's time to go."

Monday, August 9, 2010

by Laurie Kolp

Two-hundred pages of guidelines to read
All of them detailed like some sort of creed

Six months of preparation for one short week
With deadlines, physicals, monologues to speak

Label belongings and follow these tips
All caps, black ink on two-inch medical strips

Seven pairs of long pants, two jackets a must
Maybe a cold front will hit New York in August

Dance clothes, shorts, t-shirts, underwear, oh my
Socks, shoes, towels, pillow, sleeping bag to fly

40s outfit and accessories from head to toe
The “time capsule dance” party a fun show

Speaking of shows, the final day an Off-Broadway
Culminating the week in a musical stage play

Just a few parameters to follow precisely
Important tasks so the workshop runs nicely

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Don't run out of gas!

Watching someone you care about get lost on a path of destruction has to be one of the hardest roadblocks in life.  I am sure any Atlas on Life you might check would predict trouble ahead, but how many people actually read The Book?  Most of us probably skim through and touch on the highlights, but very few actually study it.  We have the tendency to try and find our own way.  Many of us must come to the very end of the road before we will seek help.  The hardest part is swallowing our pride and asking for help.  Until we pull over and get directions, our lives will be a vicious circle of intersecting highways.  Don't wait until you run out of gas...it may be too late.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. -Matthew 6:33

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shopping No More
by Laurie Kolp

When did shopping become a chore?
Long ago I shopped constantly
and charged everything left and right;
Mom and Dad always rescued me.

Malls made me feel better when there.
When did shopping become a chore?
Working, single and without care
shopping was a way to kill time.

Friends and I would set our limits
one-hundred dollars free to spend;
When did shopping become a chore?
Marriage and kids put that to end.

Now I feel guilty when I cave-
even bargains are overlooked.
Who wants to spend money to save,
when did shopping become a chore?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What is magical about age?

Is there anyone out there who feels their age?  How are we supposed to feel anyway?  Maybe there is magical formula somewhere that calculates how grown-ups should feel.  I don't know about you, but I still feel young.  And I act young.  It is not until I look in the mirror, or wake up to snaps, crackles and pops (not cereal, folks) that I know I am getting older.  I act like an adult and do my job as mother and wife, but deep down inside, I do not feel any older than I did in my early twenties twenty years ago~ OUCH.

You know what else?  Sometimes I just want my mom.  For example, when I get sick I hate being an adult.  I want my mom to take care of me like she did when I was little (husbands don't quite cut it, sorry Pete).  Sometimes I want someone else to do the laundry and clean the house, like when I was little.  Instead I just trudge along and do what is next.

I think it is ironic that children cannot wait to get older, but adults wish they were younger.  Why is that?  Is there something spectacular that is supposed to happen at that magical age that nobody knows what it is?  I am just going to try to stay in the moment, enjoy the day, NOT look in the mirror and feel what I feel.  That is what I think is magical about age...enjoying it.
Lost Marbles
by Laurie Kolp

When did you become so cuckoo?
The writing is etched on the wall,
warning signs revealed left and right,
yet you stay in this childish game.

Life is not a casino trip;
when did you become so cuckoo?
The cards are right in front of you,
this gamble you take is nonsense.

Some call it a mid-life crisis;
the convertible and divorce.
When did you become so cuckoo?
How could you discard family?

“That woman” is cheating you out
of peace and respect you deserve.
Rock bottom is paved with marbles;
when did you become so cuckoo?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Loss of Control
by Laurie Kolp

Dreams from which all hope is shattered
suffocate the mind so weak and tattered.

When will truth spring new life within
and liberate freedom from demon’s sin?

A life besieged by unwelcome change
must let go, let God rearrange.

Only then will serenity take place
a recovery from which dreams now can face.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Now I get it

Can you believe it is already August?  Where has the time gone?  Between swimming team, Taekwondo and dance team, the kid's summer activities have kept us extremely busy.  I find myself counting down the days until school starts.

I remember when I taught second grade in The Woodlands.  I was single and had not a care in the world (although at the time I THOUGHT I did).  I could never understand the teachers that were moms.   They would get to work very early on Mondays and just sit at their desk.  I would be running around at the last minute, sure to have arrived with no time to spare, and they would appear to be in some yoga-like trance.  I thought maybe they had seen a ghost, or had bad news. 

When I asked them if everything was okay, they would just smile and say, "Yes.  I am enjoying a little peace and quiet after my hectic weekend with all the kid's activities.  I have to come to work on Mondays to slow down and rest."

Now I understand.
by Laurie Kolp

he watches his mom
wash grapes for him as she stuffs
more chips in her mouth