Friday, May 29, 2009


Last night our keynote speaker at the conference I'm attending was Vince Papale. If you don't recognize that name, you might know his as "the guy whose story was depicted in the Disney movie "Invincible." Still not ring a bell? Well, then, you're missing out. If you haven't seen it, go rent it or catch it on TV. It will inspire you!

Vince Papale had played one year of high school football, went to St. Joe's University where he ran track and became a high school teacher. He never played football in college. In 1976 at the age of 30, he tried out at open try-outs to be a football player for the Philadelphia Eagles. Not to ruin the movie for those of you who have not seen it, but Vince makes the team (else why would they make a movie about his life?) Someone once said of him that he "is the physical manifestation of every fan's desire."

I'm not particularly an Eagles fan, but I am a Cubs fan. I think there are some similarities. Can you imagine watching your favorite sports team your whole life, spending your seasons in loyal dedication hoping and praying and wishing for a championship for your team? We've all been there. Now, imagine if you will that your favorite team says, "we're having open tryouts." It's like American Idol for the sports world! Anyone who has talent can have the chance of making it in the bigs. This is Vince Papale. You can see why he is, indeed the physical manifestation of every fan's desire.

Another person describe Papale as "a free-agent walk on that defied logic."

What I loved about Vince Papale was how he has embraced his celebrity and realized that he has the power to do good. His three year tenure on the Eagles as a special teams player ended 30 years ago. Today he is still making an "impact" in the lives of others, and this was the tenor and theme of his presentation. Using his life story as a guide, he delivered his message which culminates with catch phrases like "Be the best you can be," "Hold Fast to Your Dreams," and "You are Invincible." Generally, these cliches are just that, cliche. However, if you heard Vince Papale deliver his message, you would know that they are not cliche messages to him; he means them, and he is sincere. I like that. I'm a sucker for "keeping it real," and Papale is about as real as it gets.

Vince gave credit to the men who made a difference in his life. He spoke highly of his father, a coach, a high school teacher and Eagles coach, Dick Vermeil. Again, if you haven't seen the movie, pay close attention to Greg Kinear's portrayal of Vermeil. He is spot on. I wanted to share a few key phrases that Papale shared with the crowd. He called them Vermeil-isms.
  • "Nobody ever drown in sweat." (LOVE THAT!! I'M USING THAT ONE ON MY KIDS!)
  • "Don't overload your mouth with your butt." (Love that..also using with the kids!)
  • "An opponent is worth to a person exactly what their preparation enables them to make it." (Love it!)
During certain times and his life and definitely when he tried out for the Eagles, he was told again and again that he couldn't do it. One person told him that he was a dreamer and that "dreamers aren't doers." I couldn't disagree more. One of his mentors gave him a plaque with the following phrase: "Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make their dreams come true." Absolute poetry.
It's been a great week for me. I've been inspired by many individuals this week, and Vince Papale is one of them.
I will conclude with this. As I was in the elevator going down to listen to Vince, I met a mom and her two children dressed for a trip to the hotel swimming pool. I said, "Are you going swimming?" "Yep," said the boy, "and where are you going?" "I'm going to meet a famous football player," I said. He paused for about three seconds and said, "I'd rather go swimming!" I told that story to Vince, and he laughed. He has kids, so I thought he'd get it! He did!
I'm grateful for the wonderful opportunities that I've had in my life to travel and meet inspiring people. I'm grateful that I heard Vince Papale share his story.
Me with Vince Papale
May 28, 2009
Ritz-Carlton Hotel, New Orleans

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fundraising and Feather River

I had the wonderful opportunity to teach an on-line class at Feather River College this past term. (It was actually a hybrid class...part in person...part on-line). It was an wonderful opportunity in every way. I've wanted to teach on-line since I received my masters degree on-line. I was able to take the best of my professional expertise combined with my passion for education and facilitate a course for the good people in Quincy, California.

If you've never heard of Quincy, you're missing out. It's nestled in the mountains of California about an hour and a half outside of Reno. It's a small, tight-knit community of learners, faculty and staff all working for the betterment of the students and the community.

This is a picture of my class (with me). I'm so proud of them and the ideas generated in such a short period of time!

We got them these shirts for their final. They were a big hit!
I also brought Bradley with me to check out the campus and the baseball program while we were there. The following are a few pics of our "Thursday Drive" in Plumas County. It is absolutely gorgeous!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Name that tune....and I challenge you to try!

I will never forget the first elementary school band concert I attended. You have to understand that I was a season ticket holder to the Utah Symphony in my single days. I've heard Vivaldi played in a church in Venice by a string quartet. My taste in music is good, and my standards are high.

I will never forget attending Bradley's first concert in Utah and expecting....well...expecting to at least understand what they were playing.

I smiled, had my camera poised with anticipation of the number...then it happened. The first measure was played. I thought my ears were going to bleed. I wondered if the elderly in the crowd might have their hearing aids explode from the horrible noise. I looked around, and all of the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles smiled and nodded as their children exuded horrific sounds from their instruments. I seemed to be the only parent who realized that these kids were terrible.

I have since learned that parents have a filter. They don't care how horrible their kids sound. They're proud of them for the effort. They're proud of them for their commitment, and they're proud to have a moment in time that is....priceless.

OK...with that said....I attended Dom's rehearsal today for her Thursday performance (I'll be out of town).

Number one: Name that tune

Answer: Can Can Polka (listen hard...and with that filter on!)

Name that tune: This one is pretty easy to get from the beginning, however half way through when the Junior strings (Dom's Group) joins, they pretty much butcher the song.

Answer: Edelweiss

Well, I AM proud of her. She really enjoys playing the violin, and it is her first year. She's trying, and that's what matters most. Maybe next year I'll understand what they are playing without having to look at the program. Probably not, but I need something to look forward to, right?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I have a love-hate relationship with Mother's Day

For years and years I hated Mother's Day. When I was single and childless, it just heightened my awareness of my life status. A few years ago at church, a kind woman mentioned me in her Mother's Day talk mentioning how I'd been a good mother-like figure for her daughter. I was deeply touched. This was before I was married.

Today at church, my neighbor gave a talk about "Woman's Day"...choosing to rename it as to not isolate those who are not mothers. We all have a mom. Every single one of us does. Some of us like our mothers. Some of us live a lifetime trying to forget the hurt caused by our mothers. To some, mothers are friends. To others, mothers are tolerated. Regardless of how you feel about your mom, you still have one.

Mother's Day is a mixed blessing. It's nice to be honored for one day, and I'll take what I can get. However, I don't need a day of the year declared as a holiday to remind me that I'm a mom. I have four step kids. They are wonderful, awful, funny, sneaky, talented, beautiful, sloppy, thoughtful, funny....and many, many more adjectives. I'm their matter what day of the year it is.

I have laundry, dishes, schedules to manage, games to attend, rides to give, homework to help with, meals to prepare, discipline to give, hugs to give, shopping to do, and prayers to say on their behalf every day of my life. I don't need a day to remind me of my motherhood. I feel unappreciated most days. Over worked some days. Worried constantly....and a whole host of other emotions that mothers will understand. Bradley, Mariah, Elle and Dominique did not have to be born of my womb in order for me to love them, care for them, worry about them and hope for them to become the best people that they can possibly be.

Sister: Ri, Elle, Domi

So, I hate Mother's Day. Every day is my mothers day. I love Mother's Day. It helps remind kids to be appreciative and honor their moms...whoever those women may be in their lives.

My gorgeous flowers courtesy of a talented local florist named Karlie Badger.

I received wonderful flowers from my dear husband. He also made me a lovely meal with tremendous help from my thoughtful Elle. Thanks to you all. I love you! Wendy

Me and the flowers (notice a sink full of dishes in the background! ;-)

Yummy Dinner of Chicken and Risotto!

Friday night lights

So, on Friday we were sitting around playing the "What should we do?" game. Family favorites are movies or dinner. I wanted to do something different, so I suggested the batting cages. The kids were like "YOU want to go to the cages?" I'm like "Yea, I CAN hit a ball you know." They have never seen me hit a ball, so they were skeptical. Let's just say that by my count, I hit about 75-80% of all of my pitches...thank you very much. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

Below are pictures of me, Dean, Elle and Bradley (Dom and Riah were other places).
Above: Wide-shot view of the cages. This is Elle in the cage. Below: Elle at the Bat.



Wendy and Elle

This is what happens when the ball hits the cage and returns to a very unpleasant place. Bradley recovering from what we can only describe as "That pitch was a ball."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tis the season for more softball....

This time the star of the blog is Dominique. I admire moms and dads who volunteer to coach their kids and kids of people they don't know....all because they love the game. At Domi's level, it's all about participation and learning skills. Often times, the kids don't know the score or if they have even won. They are seeking for validation and praise from their parents, coaches and grandparents who come to watch the game.

The time for competition will come, but for now, I'm glad for the Sandy City Rec League and the good people who give their time and talents to help out some little girls who love to play softball.

Dominique at the takes a while, but she makes it!

Dom is the runner on 2nd. The wide shot is to remind me of how goregous Utah is and the breathtaking background that we have! The shadows of the pines are pretty cool, too!