Friday, March 26, 2010

Stations of the Cross Are Not a Downer! Really.

I had another very cool experience at Zach's school again this week. Being the season of Lent, Zach has been going to the Stations of the Cross service every Friday for the past few weeks. Having NOT been raised Catholic I have never been to such a service, however I have seen the Stations of the Cross in both Catholic and Episcopalian churches and they always look somewhat macabre and a "downer" so I was a little concerned that the material might be a bit heavy for my 5-year old who hides behind the couch whenever Thomas the Tank is about to get in trouble or have a crash on TV.

So today I went to the service to check it out. First, let me tell you this, if you are a Christian and have NOT been to a Station of the Cross service - I highly recommend you go. God doesn't care if you are not a Catholic, as long as you worship Him and you won't regret it. The service was amazing to me. Father Rich walked through each station and along with the children, explained what the station was - what Christ was doing, thinking, feeling; how others were reacting around him. Then discussed how we can take the lesson of each station and use it in our lives.

I learned more about Christ's journey to the cross today than I have in quite a while. I think as Evangelicals we sometimes gloss over the passion and go right to the Salvation. Now, I'm not saying that the Resurrection of Christ is not important, but there are a lot of lessons of Christ in that journey from arrest to Resurrection that are very important as well.

Some of my friends will recall my hesitation in putting Zachary in a Catholic school since we are not Catholic. I have to say, the more we progress through the year the more thrilled I am with this experience. Zach is bright and learning more academically, socially and spiritually every day. That's exactly what I'd hoped for, what I didn't count on is my own growth in the process as well. I'm thrilled with that. Just goes to show you that God will find you and grow you in the most least of expected places, so always keep your mind and your heart open.

And let me also just put my plug for Catholic schools in here. I am not a Catholic but I would recommend Catholic schools to anyone looking for a Christ-centered education. Zachary would never get the type of education in public school that he is getting at St. Joseph School. We are very involved parents so we talk with him about everything he does at school, religion included. Obviously if there is something I'm not familiar with - I go check it out. Zach is getting a well-rounded education and will be all the better for it. If you think you can't afford it, think again. We are on a very tight income right now with me not working, the school helped us make it work. Zach is worth it. We'd love to have you at St. Joseph - ask me how if you like. If we're not in your area, check with your local Catholic School, I don't think you'll regret it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Is It OK To NOT Mourn For Your Dad?

A serious blog today. I found out yesterday that my father died Thursday morning. It's not a complete surprise, he's been having heart problems for a year and we knew this was coming. The problem I'm having is that I'm not really that sad, and that makes me sad.

See my Dad and I have not been close for a very long time. My Dad was a pretty bad father, he was always more interested in how he looked to outsiders than how he actually interacted with his kids. Always more interested in having fun than with being a father. The last interaction I had with him he left my 1 year old son and I stranded in Western Wisconsin. My father-in-law (who was going through cancer treatment at the time) had to drive 3 hours to come rescue us. My father never understood why I was mad about that, after all he had an invitation to a great beer party with a good friend - who wouldn't dump their daughter and grandson for that?

After that I told him I couldn't have him in my life anymore. He'd hurt me many times, but now I had a son and I wasn't going to let him hurt my son they way he had me my whole life. Now we all make mistakes and sometimes we just need a wake up call. Had Zach ever told me to get out of his life I would camp on his door step until we had figured this whole thing out. My father however never talked to me again. Not that I'm complaining, that's what I asked for and it worked for me. I'd get calls from my older sister telling me about what my father had done to her and we'd talk, but I was always grateful for my decision because he could no longer hurt me or my son.

So when I got the call today, I wasn't surprised or sad. It bothered me. It bothered Paul - I think he thought he might have married an ax murderer or something. But when we talked about it became clear. When we found out Heinz (Paul's father) was dying last year, I was devastated. I had a pit in my stomach, I was scared of a world without Heinz and I cried when he died. Why? Heinz was always there because he loved us. Family came first. Heinz lived his life preparing his family for the day he wasn't here. And I missed him for that. I was sad because while I knew he was going to be with the Lord and would be healed physically from his cancer, I selfishly wanted him here for ME. I loved him.

Conversely when I learned my Dad was dying it didn't have much of an effect. My Dad never lived for anyone but himself. He didn't care if his kids got an education, lived well. He was always concerned about how well he lived and what the world thought of HIM. I won't miss him because there is nothing to miss. It is sad, but I think it was sadder for him on earth that it was for me. I was blessed with family to make up for it. He was blessed with family that he wasted.

Now lest you see no upside for him let me assure you there is. See a long time ago my Dad sought the Lord and found him, he was saved. And the love of the Lord is so good that even someone as lacking in love as my father is STILL loved by God. I am a Christian and it is my firm belief that my father is healed of his selfish ways now. Too late you say? Nah, never too late. I'm fine, I am loved and I love. And now he can love too. If you think God can't or won't love you? Think again - if someone like my Dad can have God's grace so can you. Try it on for size.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Name's a Name

I have a strange name - apparently. My full first name is Christian. A name usually reserved for men. My Dad wanted to name me after my mom, Christine, but my mom didn't like that. She didn't want any pressure for me to feel I needed to be like her. Whew! Thanks mom. So instead, they chose Christian. I don't know how or why, they just did.

I had it better than my sister I think, she was named after my dad's girlfriend of the time - although he was married to my mom. She has since redeemed her name and made it her own. She's an awesome sister.

When I was a kid I was always mistaken for a boy because my mom made me cut my hair super short and go by my full name. I hated it. Now that I'm an adult I go by "Chris" and most people assume it's short for Christine, Christina, etc. So when I run into an 'official" issue I usually get the run around about whether or not I'm really Christian Zupke. Sometimes I get somebody really stupid and even after I show them two forms of picture ID as well as my social security card, Zoo membership card, etc. they still don't believe me (because I'm so cool someone would want to pretend to be me), but have no choice so then they start into why my parents would name me that. Seriously? Just take my information and keep your opinion to yourself. I mean, what special name have you reserved for your kid? Is Christian really that strange?

We named our son Zachary. Now as far as I know Zachary is a fairly old name based upon the name Zacharias which appeared as long ago as the old testament times (see said book in the bible KJV). Note the spelling - ZACHarias. So why is it that everyone wants to spell it ZACK? Are we really that stupid as a society that we can't even spell names right (I'm sorry if you named your child Zackary - you spelled it wrong). This is a phonetic spelling - another words it's spelled for people who can't read properly - is that who we are as a society? It drives me crazy when I see people spell his name wrong. People also rib us because Zach's middle name is Heinz. He is named after Paul's father who was one of the best people to ever be placed on this earth. Paul loved him, I loved him and we considered it an honor for us to be able to name our son after him. We wanted to have Heinz be Zach's first name, but we were afraid he would get teased too much - I guess we were right because people tell us we should have named him Zach Del Monte Zupke.

Paul was a substitute teacher a number of years ago and had two kids in his class who's names were Orangejello and Lemonjello. Pronounced O-raan-ge-lo and Le-mon-ge-lo (think French pronunciation).

When I was in high school we had an English teacher who freaked out every time we pronounced a certain Shakespeare character's name incorrectly. I don't even remember which character it was, but most of us were pronouncing it - you guessed it phonetically as we saw it. He lectured us for two days about how important it is to pronounce someones name right, how disrespectful it was not to. After a day and a half of this lecture I got tired of it and asked him how HE knew how to pronounce the name. Did he know Shakespeare personally? For all he knew HE was pronouncing it wrong. I earned a detention for that one, but to this day I still think I'm right.

I guess my point is a name is one of those things a parent agonizes over for close to 9 months and then worries afterward if they chose the right one. It usually has a lot of meaning - I know Zach's does, all three parts. I don't know exactly why my parents named me Christian, I doubt they even remember why anymore. I do know that I love my name now. It's unusual, it's cool and I'm proud of it. At the very least I get to make jokes about being transgender (when Zach isn't around) and freaking out the rude people who decide to be nosy and question it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Do You Have A Best Buddy? You Should.

I had the pleasure to witness yet another moment in my son's childhood last night - the wonderful bond of best buddies. Zachary's best buddy is a boy named Cooper who he met a few years ago (when Zach was 3) in daycare/pre-school. Cooper is almost a year older than Zachary, but they have so much in common that year doesn't seem to make much difference. Because of how their birthday's fall they are both in kindergarten this year so they will go through school in the same grade despite their year difference in age.

Because Zach and Coop don't go to the same schools we worried a bit about them not seeing enough of each other once they left the daycare, but we have kept in contact (made easier by the fact that Cooper's parents are great people and we love them too!) and they still LOVE to see each other.

My parents moved a lot when I was a kid - usually every two years until I got into the third grade. For that and other reasons too much to get into here, I didn't make close friends that easily so I never had a best friend like Zachary does. So I am in awe of this relationship they have. They remind me of a relationship that Paul has described between he and his best friend Tom - they met in the third grade and to this day are still good friends - Tom was the best man at our wedding.

I love watching Zachary and cooper together - there is no other friend that makes Zachary as happy as Cooper. He is so excited to see him and just grins ear-to-ear as long as they are together. it makes me feel good to see them together. They are both great boys. They are smart, polite, sweet - everything little boys should be. And maybe it sounds trite, but in a world where at the age of 5 or 6 kids are already talking about sex, violence, drugs, and other adult themes it's great to know that Zach has a best buddy who likes to talk about trains, their schools, burping (yes, bodily functions are still funny), cartoons, etc. makes me feel good. If the worst you have to reprimand your son for with his best buddy is too much "potty humor" then I think you have a good thing going.

Who knows what the future will bring, but I have hope that in another 30 years Zach and Coop will be exchanging emails (or whatever the communication vehicle is then) about their families and jobs like Paul and Tom do today. They laugh about things they did in the third grade and high school - when they were together almost every day and about the fun they had in college and beyond when they weren't together every day but that friendship remained strong. I envy both Zach and Paul. I'm just now finding some of those life-long friends - People like Cooper's mommy, Kim. I'm grateful for those friends that God has given me now, and I'm grateful that He has seen fit to send Zachary one this early. God is good. Thank him for your best friend - then hug her or him.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Motherhood Mishmash

Yesterday Zachary told me something every parent loves to hear, "Mommy my favorite part of school is when I see you smiling at me at the end of the day." Awwww. See I pick Zach up everyday from school because I LOVE seeing his little face light up through the glass doors when he spots me waiting for him with the other parents. It's truly the best part of MY day. I don't get that with the school bus, I love it. That little statement hugged my heart.

Then he said the one that wrenched it. "I'm glad you aren't the kind of Mommy that has to work. I'd miss you." D'oh! See, I'm not a stay at home mom right now because I love it (although I do), but because I've been out of work since August. Yes, part of the reason I wasn't sad to leave my last job was that it was taking way too much time away from my son. So I have been loving being here every day at 2:00pm to pick him up and spend time with him. But this can't last. I have to go back to work sooner rather than later.

So what can I say, another part of motherhood that is wonderful and sucks all at the same time. Zach and I are having a great time right now and creating memories that I am VERY lucky to have the opportunity to create. At the same time, I'm subtly setting the stage for the time when I have to go back to work and he has to go to full-time after school care. You know they tell you it's hard being a mom, but you never know just how hard it really is until you're in the middle of it. Still the best job ever.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Like Gravel Thru an Hourglass So Are the Days of My Computer

So, I bought a new computer. Or rather I'm buying a new computer. I needed one desperately for the home office and budding home business of marketing free-lance work (emphasis on FREE so far) so through the generosity of my big sister (who floated me a nice loan), I bought a new PC laptop. I would have preferred a Mac, but alas, I had a strict budget and hey, PCs aren't THAT bad right? Ha!

I had a desktop Mac. It's ancient, but really up until about 6 months ago, it was doing fine. I should have realized - ancient PC's - well there aren't any because their owners run them over out of frustration before they become ancient; there are ancient Macs though - beloved by their owners.

I bought a new Dell laptop, had my husband who knows of such things help me "build" it so that it would last a while, ordered it and got ready for the 5 weeks it would take for it to arrive. Huzzah! It only took 3 weeks! It arrived on a Friday and Zachary and I anxiously plugged it in and off we went amazed at the speed with which Thomas suddenly flew on the tracks! All was wonderful and amazing until three days later when it wouldn't turn on anymore. Really? You have to be kidding me. I've had it THREE days.

So I call tech support and they tell me its a bad motherboard/ac adapter connection and I can 1. wait 3 days for a tech to come with new parts and replace them or 2. send it back and wait 4 weeks for a new computer. OMG. Wow. I'll take door #1 thanks. Oh and have I mentioned that I'm just a tad irritated?

The parts come in and the tech is here on a Wednesday to replace them, but of course! They sent the wrong part! So it'll be another 2 or 3 days for the next part to come! In the meantime, I was at least able to work on the dumb thing with battery power, but now it won't power up at all. Nice. And I'm getting just a bit more irritated because, well hey, I paid a decent chunk of change to actually work on this hunk of plastic. He finally comes on Friday night, replaces the motherboard and we're in business.

Ok, so I should be happy right, one little glitch, it happens, no one is perfect. Fine. I have a computer and it works. Saturday morning - ready for it - I'm on Facebook sending out a group notice to my church knitters when Bam! I get hit with a virus! What the heck?! Didn't this thing come with security????? Shuts me down. Well, that was a good 12 hour run!

Off I go to Geek Squad at Best Buy. That will be $200 and 5 days to remove the virus. Seriously? Now I'm ready to tell Dell to come get their computer - it's in the middle of Vine St. being used as a speed bump because it seems to be so much more useful there than as a $1,000 paper weight on my desk! Thankfully I mention this mess to my big sister who tells me how to get rid of the dumb virus for $25. Done. Here's an aside - don't bother with Geek Squad - it's a rip off. Just in case you didn't know yet.

Ok, it wasn't that simple, some how I managed to set up a second user and actually installed the software to get rid of the virus there and now can't find my way back. And while dealing with all this I decided to have a cup of tea to relax myself and managed to set the kitchen on fire - I put out the fire with no damage, not to worry. However the house smelled like melted plastic for two days and my husband was not happy and now he plays Talking Heads, "Burning Down the House" just to torture me.

Everything seems to be in working order now - the computer, the teapot, the stove, me. But I just can't wait to see what Dell has in store for me next!

Now, in case you are one of those people who is wondering - Mac or PC? Let me just help you along a little bit. Don't be cheap, don't be silly - get yourself a Mac and thank your lucky stars you were smart enough to do so! Don't get me wrong - I'm very thankful for this computer as it will allow me to do much over the next few years that I could not before, but wow - is it me or have we really lowered our expectations for what is allowable in a product? I mean would our grandparents have accepted such shoddy workmanship in their day? I think not. And lest you tell me a computer is a much more complicated "gizmo" than anything they had then, I'll remind you that at the time of my grandparents at least, a TV was just as complicated to them as a computer is to us and they managed to get TVs that worked everytime. Just a thought.