The CHERISHED Life of Heather Leigh

Thursday, October 18, 2007


OK, I know the Parks & Rec doesn't want us to keep score at the kids' soccer games, but, come on, who doesn't? I, for one keep score, as do most of the other parents, and especially the kids. I know the Parks & Rec just wants everybody to have fun and they don't want there to be STAR players, or winners and losers. But, in my opinion, that's what life is all about. Competition. Teamwork. Determination. The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose…..well, unless you’re the Yellow Team in the Bronze soccer division!! Liam's soccer team was UNDEFEATED this season!!!

They had their last game of the season this past Saturday. It was a BE-YOO-tiful fall day and it was the first game that Kevin and I were both able to attend at the SAME TIME. My son's team, the yellow team, won, of course. I forget the score, but they won by quite a lot, although not by as much as the previous Saturday's game when the score was 11-0. Yes, eleven to nothing!

OK, so we weren't there for that game which means Liam didn't contribute to the blow-out (he and Kev were at the Michigan State football game). As a matter of fact, Liam didn’t contribute one goal all season, but he was a stellar defensiveman. However, Mitchell, our team's "secret weapon", (as Liam likes to call him) scored SEVEN goals in that blow-out game!! The coach of the other team had to ask our coach to put Mitchell on defense. I can empathize with that request, because I'm sure the other team was feeling a bit deflated about not scoring, but at the same time, how do you tell a bunch of Kindergarteners and First Graders to tone it back a bit so that the other team doesn't feel bad about losing? You can't do that. And to lose is a valuable life lesson. All of our kids will lose at something at some point in their lives, so they have to learn how to deal with it. (Liam's team had several losses last season - so this applies to my kid, too.) And you know what, you also have to teach kids how to win. Just like there are sore losers, there are also sore winners. I want my kids to learn how to take both their victories and their losses with dignity and grace.

One of my favorite things about these games are the human tunnels each team runs through at the end of the game. It doesn't matter who wins, both teams run through a congratulatory, celebratory tunnel at the end of the game. First, the kids line up and shake hands with the opposing team. As they are doing this the parents on each side of the field join hands to form a tunnel, two tunnels - one on each side of the field. The opposing team runs through our tunnel, while our kids run through the opposing team's tunnel. Then each team runs back to their side of the field, and they run through their own team's tunnel. Whether it's the opposing team or our team running through the tunnel, everyone cheers and shouts encouraging things like "Good Job!" "Way to go!" "Hi Simon!" We are a small town, after all, and there are always kids on the opposing team that you know.

All in all, our season was a success. Our coach really taught the team about positions (what, you mean we're not supposed to run in a pack as if there's a magnetic force drawing every single one of us to the ball?!) and the kids demonstrated great teamwork making deliberate, great passes. When the season first started, I was a bit unsure about the coach (he's the dad of one of Liam's buddies from Kindergarten and he just didn't strike me as a soccer guy), but he turned out to be an AWESOME coach! At the last game, he and his wife gave the kids cupcakes with a soccer shaped plastic ring attached to it and they invited everybody to a party at their house this coming Saturday. We're going to have pizza, ride their horses, and have a bonfire. I'm sure it will be a blast, Or, in Kevin's opinion, it will be an evening of forced family fun. I'm OK with forcing the community spirit upon him. Especially to celebrate our UNDEFEATED Yellow Team and the champions of the Bronze Soccer division!

But who's keeping track?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fantasy Island

As most of you know, I travel a lot for work. Usually, after one or two trips to someplace new, I can get around pretty easily with out my Mapquest maps to get me to the office, hotel, or airport. And I have never needed a GPS.

Enter New York. For the last eight weeks, I have been flying into LaGuardia airport every Monday, driving through New York City and into New Jersey to the client’s office. For safety reasons and to navigate the many, many, many streets, bridges, tunnels, and boroughs of NYC, I felt a GPS would be necessary. I am, after all, originally from a very small, Midwestern, one stop light town (OK, there were a couple of blinking yellow lights in my town, too). But, even with a GPS in NYC, I found that it was easy to miss a turn or to take an exit prematurely. When this happened (and it happened on more than one occasion), the GPS would re-route me to my destination. My security blanket.

However, at an extra fee of $10.95 per day from the rental car agency, there were some project budget concerns about my continued rental of the GPS (I won’t bore you with those details here – but by the end of the project the GPS rental fees would have totaled more than $1,200!) So, last week I decided that I would try this commute with out a GPS. Surely I can do this. Besides, I really only need the GPS to get me from the airport to the office on Monday and then from the office back to the airport on Friday. I rarely used it Tue-Wed-Thur anymore while I was tooling around New Jersey.

The non-GPS unit commute from the airport to the office last Monday was a breeze. NO issues. Wow! I can do this. My navigation confidence soared.

The non-GPS unit commute from the office back to the airport last Friday, on the other hand, was not as smooth. I took an exit (on the left) that I shouldn’t have taken. As I was in the far left lane and realized I needed to be two lanes over to the right, it was too late. I was cruising the exit, heading north (when I knew I needed to go south to get to the airport) with nothing but water on my left and tall buildings on my right. There was no southbound version of this exit in sight. Crap! Crap! Crap! Crap! Crap! I had no GPS unit to re-route me, what do I do? What do I do?

So, I saw a sign that said “Last exit before toll”. OK, I decided, I’ll take this exit because if I keep going north when I should be going south I’ll be paying an unnecessary toll and then I’ll just have to turn around and most likely pay another toll to get back, and I’m getting low on cash. So I took the last exit before the toll. It was a residential neighborhood (with REALLY tall buildings). I pulled over to the side of the road and stopped a woman walking down the street wearing and iPod.

“Uh, excuse me, I’m so sorry, do you think you can help me? You see, I took a wrong exit and I’m trying to get to the LaGuardia airport, and now I don’t know where to go. Can you tell me how to get there?”
“LaGuardia?” She replied, looking around as if she’s mulling this over in her head.
“Yes, yes, LaGuardia airport,” I replied hopefully.
“Uh, no, sorry, I don’t drive. So, I don’t know. Sorry”

Crap! Crap! Crap! Crap! Crap!

I drove another block where there were more people milling about and again pulled my car to the side. I hopped out and approached a Latino man wearing a suit. Surely he drives.

“Uh, excuse, me. Sir? Sir, excuse me, do you drive?”
“Jyes, Jyes I drive,” he replied in a thick Hispanic accent.
“Wonderful, OK good, you see I’m lost, and I need to know how to get to LaGuardia airport.” The look on my face must have been so pitiful and pained as I was pleading with this man to re-route me to my destination. My human GPS. He took his time deciding on the best route for me to take. He saidthe route out loud a couple of times. Changed the route, then changed it back again. Then he decided he should knock on the window of the car parked in front of me. The man in that car rolled down his window. My GPS man in the suit explained the question to the man in the car in very rapid Spanish. The only word I understood him say is “LaGuardia”. I chimed in to the conversation, in English, with my spiel, “I’m sorry, I’m lost, I’m trying to get to LaGuardia airport.” The man in the car wasn’t much help, but seemed to validate the directions the man in the suit was trying to give me and the man in the car drives away as the man in the suit is once again validating- out loud - the directions I am to take.

The directions end up being quite simple. Take this road to the end, 5 or 6 blocks, where you can only go left or right, there is a school at the end. Go right on Harlem River Drive. “Yes, Yes, I know Harlem River Drive!” Take Harlem River Drive to the Triboro Bridge. “OK, yes, yes. I know how to get to the airport there from there. That’s where I need to be. The Triboro Bridge. Thank you so so so much!” Fortunately, I already knew my flight had been delayed, so I wasn't in THAT big of a hurry. I hopped back into the car, and glance around at all of the other people milling about. Everyone looks Latino. The guys were speaking Spanish. Take this road to Harlem River Drive. Wait a minute….am I in Spanish Harlem? Where is Carlos Santana when I need him? I’m in SPANISH HARLEM. (This suspicion is later confirmed by local co-workers when I returned to the office this week.)

You see, up until a couple of weeks ago, places such as Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Midtown, the Bronx, Times Square, the George Washington Bridge, Times Square, Park Avenue, 42nd Street, Lincoln Tunnel, and Spanish Harlem were all fictional locations to me. Places I had only heard about in movies or on Seinfeld or Sex and the City. They were about as real to me as Camelot, Tara, the Yellow Brick Road, Naboo, Ork, or a land called Honah Lee. But now, here they are, every week in 3D. In Real Life.

And, to think, I now navigate this Fantasy Island, every Monday and Friday, with out a GPS.

Let’s just hope I don’t get lost THIS Friday on my way back to the airport. But, if I end up in Spanish Harlem, again, at least I'll know how to re-route myself.

Monday, October 8, 2007


WOW!! We had absolutely gorgeous weather this past weekend ... uh, for JULY!!

It was unseasonably H-O-T, not that I'm complaining, but I never would have expected when we moved into this new house last March that the kids would still be swimming in the lake in OCTOBER!! The water was a little chilly, but they didn't seem to mind!

My H-O-T weekend started with a golf outing with my dear friends Amy & Joel on Saturday.

It was a couples' scramble. Kev took Liam to the Michigan State football game that day, so the other half of my couple was Dave, a friend of Amy's Aunt Doreen.

Aunt Doreen organizes this golf outing on the first weekend of October every year, and this is the second time I've golfed in it. We missed it last year because the Tigers were in the ALDS and we had tickets to the game (ahh memories, when they spanked the Yankees as I sit here watching the Indians abou to clench the ALDS championship by spanking the Yankees, but I digress).

So, this was the first time I had ever met my partner Dave and he was nursing a mean hangover from the night before. He and I came in last place, and won $20 for that prestigious honor. At least he had the hangover excuse to fall back on. My excuse is that I basically suck at golf. So, then how did I win the women's closest to the pin prize!?!? A kick ass drive, that's how. It was thrilling!! Too bad Kevin wasn't there to witness it firsthand. That honor yielded me another $20! Despite the sweat dripping down every crack of my body, the day was lots of fun.

On Sunday, I had planned on taking the kids to a pumpkin patch, an apple orchard, or to the Leonard Corn Maze , but it was just too darn H-O-T for those types of fall activities. (Maybe next weekend the weather will cooperate!) Instead, we spent time on the lake. First, we took a family walk around the lake (trying to exercise regularly and be more healthy).

Then, Kev did some fishing from the shore and caught this 18 inch bass. >>>

THEN, we tooled around on the paddle boat for a while and Kev caught this 23 inch bass >>>

YES, 23 inches! It was enormous. The boys were delighted and excited and enthralled. I even got caught up in the moment. I guess fishing CAN be fun. (I know you're wondering ... He let them both go.)

I was lucky enough to catch both of Kev's stellar catches on film. It was very very very cool. Or, as Paris Hilton would say, it was HOT.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Are you an atheist?

Being in the Information Technology industry, I work with a good number of Indians. (The ones from India, not the ones native to America - or to be completely, blatantly, politically incorrect: Dot Indians, not Feather Indians.) As a matter of fact, more than half of our onshore project team is Indian.

So, last week, we all went out for a team dinner to an Indian restaurant (the type of restaurant we were at has nothing to do with the story). Anyway, we're all at dinner and the topic of conversation turns to religion.

India has some sort of caste/class system. I can't explain this system with the best, or even with little detail, but what I do know is that at least two of our team members are from India's priestly caste/class, one of the highest in their culture. One of the guys from the priestly caste/class has been taking intensive religious instruction for the last 3 years in order to…what…I don’t know, become an ordained Hindu minister or something? Again, not sure of all the details (did I mention I was drinking wine during dinner?). So, the other priestly caste/class Indian was joking with the guy taking the religious training saying that soon the guy getting all the training would have a glow around him, that he will be illuminated because he will become so enlightened through this religious training. Ha ha ha.

Of course, after a couple of glasses of wine, I chime in to this religious instruction conversation with my adopted philosophy of religion which is basically that I think religion itself is just red tape that people go through to become better people (Islamic jihadists excluded). Whether it's Christian-Catholic, Baptist, Protestant, Lutheran, Methodist, whatever, or Hindu, or Jewish, I think people are just trying to become better people and establish a relationship with or an understanding of a higher power.

To which my priestly caste/class Indian co-worker asked me, in the most serious of tones, "Are you an atheist?"

Oh my goodness. No, I don't think am an atheist. No, I'm definitely not. I was pretty much raised Baptist (or a variation of Baptist). So, I'm a Christian. I believe in God. I just don't practice a religion. In doing so, (or not doing so) am I being perceived as an atheist?



On Sunday night, as my Monday morning business trip was fast approaching, Liam wrote these letters on a hot pink piece of paper.
After this string of letters he drew a heart, with a crack in it. This was his note to me. He read the note to me as he handed it to me and it said "Dear Mommy, When you're gone, my heart is broken".

Then he drew a big stick person (minus the legs) next to a little stick person (minus the legs) and a big heart with out a crack in it. Which meant that when we're together, he's happy.

I had to hold back the flood of tears. I didn't want him to see me cry and then feel bad and think, "Oh, no, I made mom cry." So, I thanked him for the note and asked him to run upstairs and put it in my suitcase so I would have it with me while I was away. Thankfully, he scooted off immediately and I was able to compose myself.

It breaks my heart to know that my being away from him breaks his little heart.

But it warms my heart tremendously to know that it makes him happy when we (the legless stick figures) are together again.


OK, so I'm WAAAAY Behind in updating my BLOG. More importantly, I'm WAAAAY Behind in reading other people's blogs.

My apologies.

So, what has kept me away?

Well, the week of 9/17, Kevin and I both took a week of vacation. VACATION? Well, if you call hanging out around the house and completing 0 of the 10 projects we had planned, having a root canal done, and dialing in to a conference call every day from 2-4 pm vacation, then, yes, we were both on vacation that week.

Last week was the week from Hades at work. Actually, if there's a place worse than Hades, then that is where last week was from. (I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to end a sentence with "from", but too bad). The project I am on is stressful, to say the very least. I was on information overload last week and had no time to digest or decompress. The team's incessant negativity was really bringing me down and permeated my own attitude and outlook on things both inside and outside of work. I think I drank wine at the hotel every night last week just to cope. It was also the first week that we started our Mon-Fri travel instead of Mon-Thur. And, by Friday at 10am, I was close to tears. Thank God for my extremely supportive husband for sending me encouraging emails and keeping me informed of what my kids were up to and making me smile. He really got me through the day.

So, this week, I'm making a conscious decision to be positive. I'm going back to that old adage that even though I may not have control over the circumstances around me, I DO have control on how I choose to respond to them.

So, I choose to be happy this week. I will be happy and whistle while I work. I will be happy and exercise. I will be happy and eat healthy (the banana's foster I had for dessert last night was to ensure that I had a full 5 servings of fruits and vegetables for the day). And finally, I will be happy and BLOG.