Engagement Party: When? Where? How to Plan.

Are You Recently Engaged?

Personal Story

Our son, Alex, got engaged to Brittany in October 2017. We were overjoyed. They’ve dated for nearly 9 years. That familiarity didn’t lessen the excitement. We wanted to share our joy about Brittany  joining our family through marriage. So, we hosted an engagement party for family and friends.

What is an Engagement Party?

Engagement parties are popular in the South, where we’d lived, prior to relocation, and where Alex was primarily raised. In fact, about a third of the revenue from my business at the time, A Wonderful Wedding, came from planning and executing this special occasion event.

Now in Omaha, Nebraska, we learned many were unfamiliar with engagement parties. Most guests commented, “I’ve never been invited to an engagement party before,” or “I wasn’t exactly sure what an engagement party was.”

Why?

Technically, this party is a celebration of a couple’s recent engagement. It’s also an ideal time for upcoming wedding guests to get to know one another.

The bride’s parents traditionally host the first engagement party. Many couples stray from this tradition and host their own celebration or attend parties hosted by friends and family. Some families even co-host the party.

In our case, since the couple will marry on a South Carolina beach with only immediate family  present, we decided to host the party so extended family and friends could share in the engagement and upcoming nuptials, locally.

When?

Engagement parties are usually held within three months of the official engagement or six months before the wedding ceremony. After that, couples and families are typically entwined in wedding planning. Invitations are issued about four weeks prior to the party, allowing guests time to make travel plans, if necessary.

Where?

The location can be tricky. Many newly engaged couples live in a different location than family. So, consider travel requirements of guests. Is it easier, and more affordable, for the couple to travel to them? If it’s a destination wedding, is it realistic to expect guests to travel twice to celebrate with you?
If most live in the same area, then it’s as simple as choosing a local venue.

Consider:
• Number of guests-space needed.
• Level of formality-backyard Bar-b-que, afternoon tea, formal dinner in a restaurant’s private dining room, Sunday brunch, other.
• Guest limitations-can all walk stairs or navigate uneven terrain?

Who?

Once again, the tradition of whom to invite often clashes with reality. Traditionally, only guests invited to the wedding are invited to an engagement party. In our case, since the wedding is limited to immediate family, this tradition wasn’t followed.

We invited close friends, family and neighbors whom we knew would be delighted to share in the news of Alex and Brittany’s engagement. Equally important, the invitees are excellent marriage role models and supporters of the young couple, something all newlyweds need.

Planning Template

Our home was chosen as the engagement party LOCATION.

GUEST LIST. The list was created with Brittany and Alex’s involvement. Invitations were ordered online from Vistaprint. They included the location address, date and time and where and when to RSVP. The card also had Alex and Brittany’s wedding website address, which included information on how they met, wedding day details and their registries.

     -HINT: Be sure to order as early as possible. The USPS lost the initial order and it had to be re-ordered. Vistaprint re-printed and sent again at no charge. [NOTE: Informed Delivery by the USPS is a great service. Check to see if it’s available in your area. It provided proof of lost mail.]
     -TIP: Invitations may be sent digitally using  Facebook or email or you can even print your own. If it’s a small party, you may call guests and invite them.
     -CHILL-OUT: Don’t worry about matching your wedding theme or colors to the engagement party. Maybe you haven’t even chosen a wedding date or location yet. That’s okay. This is an early celebration in your wedding planning.

TIME. Since some guests were driving in from surrounding states, we chose 1-4 PM on a Saturday afternoon. This allowed commuting guests a comfortable day trip.

MENU. This was admittedly a bit more challenging than originally thought. Since the party was held between lunch and dinner and during the Christmas season, the menu required creative thinking with a blend of holiday and bridal.
     -Heart-Shaped Tea Sandwiches with a Story: Heart-shaped cookie cutters from Ann Clark, a Vermont based family-owned company, were ordered. Sadly, the package was destroyed in USPS transit. After contacting the company online and sharing a photo of the package contents and why the cutters were ordered, an overnight package arrived. Inside was the replacement, an additional animal-shaped cutter and a hand-written note. Supporting family-owned business makes a difference. Do so whenever possible.
The guests seemed to enjoy the pecan and pimento sandwiches on white wheat bread.

Other menu items included: a variety of cheeses, spreads, crackers and olives with flavored popcorn, red grapes, fresh vegetables, mixed nuts, pretzels, veggie straws, French macaroons and three types of salami. The strawberry tree with yogurt dip was a guest favorite. Two flavors of cake were served after a champagne toast.
Beverages included flavored waters, soda, beer and champagne.

     -HINT: Write each menu item down and underneath the ingredients needed. Purchase and prepare as many items in advance, as possible. For instance, the heart-shaped bread was cut the day before and wrapped so it could be easily spread the morning of the party. The spreads were prepared a day in advance. And, vegetables were washed and cut in advance.
     -REMEMBER: If you’re having the party at home, you also have to purchase the plates, utensils, cups, napkins, serving trays, etc. Ensure plenty of seating. Set out enough garbage containers and make sure your bathroom is properly prepared with hand towels and toilet tissue. If guests wear outer coats, know where you’ll keep these during the party.

DÉCOR
Mixing bridal with Christmas was fun. Diamond engagement ring cupcake toppers were ordered and used on food trays and household décor. Paper bells and heart-shaped streamers were pinned to the ceiling, creating a bridal mood. Diamond ring stickers were attached to cups. The Christmas tree was decorated with sentimental family heirloom ornaments. An engagement photo of the couple adorned the fireplace ledge. The style and theme were completely different from the upcoming beach wedding. And, that is perfectly okay.

 

TOASTS
About 2/3 of the way through the party, guests gathered on the main floor. A family heirloom table with four champagne glasses, votive candles, a cake knife and server and a two-tiered cake was carried into the room and placed on an X taped on the floor, under bells and streamers from above.

Alex and Brittany joined Ken and I behind the table. As father-of-the groom, Ken welcomed guests and spoke of the importance of having support in one’s marriage. Alex followed by thanking guests and expressing his excitement about having Brittany as a wife after their summer beach wedding. I finished the toasts by highlighting Brittany’s entrance into our family unit and the use of tradition in the engagement party. Guests were invited to also toast the couple. The cake was removed and served from trays.

Break from Tradition: No wedding cake is planned for the beach ceremony. Instead an engagement cake was ordered from Crum Cakes Bakery in Omaha. Lana, owner, suggested the “She Said Yes” cake topper. It was perfect.

PARTY FAVORS
Alex and Brittany ordered engagement ring-shaped cookies from Crum Cakes Bakery. As guests left the party, they presented these to them with a thank you for attending.

ATTIRE
The engaged couple’s attire should match the style and feel of the event, understanding they are the center of attention at the party. No guest should ever upstage a bride, or wear white at a wedding, unless the invite requests this.

GIFTS
The gifts of one’s presence and continual support are the most valuable gifts any engaged couple can receive. Gifts are not expected at engagement parties, but are often given. Couples should acknowledge receipt of these gifts with a genuine hand-written thank you note after the party.
HINT: Open gifts after the party since all guests may not bring a gift.

Best wishes & Congratulations to all newly engaged couples and their families. What a very special time in your lives. Enjoy every moment. And, if it includes an engagement party, I hope you found this post valuable. Questions? Ask below.

SHARE with those recently engaged or planning wedding events.

©Copyright. January 2018. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

Insider Tips from Dads on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Click here to read about the history of Father’s Day.

Fathers are an important influence on a child life, no matter the age. Time is the greatest gift a father can give his child. Here’s the story of four outstanding fathers who share the joys of being a father every day, but especially on Father’s Day.

Darwyn & Jacob

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.”
– Harmon Killebrew
Darwyn leads his seven-year-old son Jacob by example in both his work and personal life, just as his father Leon did. He cares about role modeling a strong work ethic. “I want Jacob to know he can do many things if he’s determined, tries his hardest and pushes through adversity.”

Darwyn is self-employed and struggles with balancing work with the demands of a young family. “From my own dad, I learned that hard work does pay off in building a solid business for years to come. But, sometimes hard choices and sacrifices are required.”

Darwyn understands his son needs him to be there for him. So, he arranges his schedule to take him to athletic practices, play with him after work and go on hikes together. Jacob knows he matters to his dad; Darwyn follows through on his promises by showing up and telling him he loves him.

The two of them bond over sports and watching action movies. And, Jacob is always up for trying new things and giving them 100 percent. He’s taken up golf and baseball, often making his dad chase a long one down the street. He helps Darwyn fix things around the house “so we don’t have to buy new things every time something breaks.”

Jacob learns from his dad by watching him and spending time with him. He’s seeing how to treat others with respect, to own up to his mistakes and fix it for the next time and to be nice to his teammates on the baseball field, understanding everyone is there to learn the game.

The greatest lesson Jacob is learning from his dad, “Everything will fall into place if you know and serve the Lord.”

 Jim & Trenten

“The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects them.”
– Confucius
Jim values time with his 12-year-old son, Trenten. “I hope he now recognizes the amount of time we spent together and the priority he is in my life.” The two share hunting, travel and dogs in common. The specific interest gives them time together to enjoy it while also talking about school, sports and life. Jim especially likes traveling with Trenten. “It’s amazing what I can learn traveling 8-10 hours in a vehicle with him.”

Jim learned a lot from his grandpa who spent time fishing and talking about farming and school with him. “He passed away in 1986, but there are many times I wish Trenten was able to meet him.”

Trenten, who comes across as shy, is described as funny and smart by his dad. Jim’s now speaking to him about growing into a man. Trenten’s learning not to make promises he cannot keep. He’s been taught his word is the only thing in life no one can take away from him. Trenten has seen that by working hard things will fall into place. He knows the world does not owe him anything and that he is capable of doing anything he wants, if he sets his mind to it.

Jim, a banker, teaches Trenten about money. “I like to present him with options so he understands real costs. Everything is about choices. For instance, if he buys something, what is he not able to do since he spent his money.”

At this age, Jim urges Trenten to have fun and find something in life he’s passionate about. “He will spend the rest of his life working and worrying. I also encourage him to make friends with everyone. One never knows when someone you meet might be in a place to help you out one day.”

 Michael & Noah

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
— Billy Graham, Christian Evangelist

Michael and seven-year-old Noah have rituals, like the donut shop. Every Saturday morning, they head out to eat donuts while talking and laughing. Usually they leave with some for the girls back home-mother and younger sister.

They have other notable rituals. Their daily drive to school starts with a prayer followed by a game of guessing what types of trucks will be in the gym parking lot as they drive by. They celebrate their appreciation of superheroes like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers with Friday night pizza and movie nights, mom and sister included.

Their shared enjoyment of music has them singing and dancing along to Christian Hip-Hop songs. They play catch football and shoot hoops and enjoy watching NFL games. Noah has attended a Nebraska Cornhuskers football game, his dad’s favorite team, but has started rooting for the Iowa Hawkeyes, to get under Michael’s skin.

Michael knows it’s during these shared activities and rituals that he will get honest feedback on what Noah is going through. Michael loves talking to his son. “Noah’s laugh and sense of humor are infectious.”

Michael wants Noah to know he works hard to be a great role model to him. Like his father, Bill, demonstrated, Michael wants to show Noah how to be a good husband by showing affection for his wife and doing nice things for her. “I let Noah be part of this process too. He has good insight and it’s a great teaching moment.”

Michael’s greatest wish for Noah is to know who he is and to love others as Christ loves us. He’s also teaching him:

  • We control how we react to situations.
  • There are consequences for choices made (good and bad).
  • It’s okay to fail, do your best.
  • Protect and lead your family.
  • God is the ultimate Superhero.

 Ken & Alex

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.”
– Jewish Proverb

Ken’s son, Alex, at age 22, is a young adult. Much of the way Ken parented was role modeled for him by his father, Lee, who was “an extremely kind and respectful man with a very strong work ethic. He was a leader who taught me how to overcome adversity and take responsibility for supporting my family.”

Ken strives hard to role model ‘integrity’ for Alex. “I want him to do things with honesty, the right way and live by the Golden Rule.” He wants nothing more for Alex than for him to be happy and to live a fulfilled life-on his terms.

“I want him to make the most of his life doing what he desires and knowing that he can, and more likely will, make adjustments along the way.” Ken also knows that if Alex chooses to be a husband and father, he will need to compromise and serve others to experience a fulfilled life.

Ken’s done his best to prepare Alex for adulthood by teaching him to:

  • Be accountable for his actions. Take responsibility and own it.
  • Be a good role model for others.
  • Be appreciative and thankful for the blessings he has in life. Much of what one attains in life comes through the help of others. Do not take people for granted and express your genuine gratitude. Be willing to give freely of oneself without an expectation of something in return.
  • Have fun. Life should be enjoyed. It is up to you to discover your own passion and create your own happiness.

Through the years, Ken and Alex have created a bond and enjoyed life through sports, household and yard projects and business ventures. They share an obsession with Louisville Cardinals team sports and watching sporting events on television and at games.

The two have painted many home interiors together and enhanced yards through landscaping. They have created and implemented business plans, some successfully, others not.  They’ve jointly discovered their passions, had fun and felt a sense of accomplishment.

Ken feels he’s raised a genuinely good and caring son who has a “great head on his shoulders and makes wise decisions.” He’s proud that Alex has “stayed out of trouble” and shown he knows the difference between right and wrong. “I feel confident Alex has an extremely bright future ahead of him, both personally and professionally. It has been fulfilling and rewarding to be Alex’s father. He has brought more joy into my life than I could have hoped for. He is an incredible son whom I love so much.”

  A Dad is

Respected because he gives his children leadership.
Appreciated because he gives his children care.
Valued because he gives his children time.
Loved because he gives his children the 1 thing they treasure most-himself.

Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

©Copyright. June 2017. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes That Stuck for a Lifetime

Origin of “Were You Raised in a Barn?” Quote

I rushed through the laundry room to close the garage door. One of the men in our house habitually leaves the door open while unloading vehicles. The heater or air conditioner senses the rapid air change and comes on. This makes me crazy. Aloud I said, “Were you raised in a barn?” The question startled me. I hadn’t said that in decades. That quote was dormant in my brain. Funny how it just popped right out my mouth at that time.

I often heard it growing up in a North Dakota family of 11.  Leaving the door open in North Dakota is a big deal.  Sub-zero temperatures chill the house instantly; sometime snowflakes blow into the foyer. Asking “Were you raised in a barn?” makes a point, especially during winter months.

I began to wonder. What other sayings or quotes did I hear as a child that I’m  using today? I asked  Midwestern followers. The findings are below. I thank the many who shared.  I understood most quotes and also remembered hearing them as a kid.  Each brought a smile as I recalled memories associated with the quote.

Hope they do the same for you. Here’s what a follower called the quotes:

“Stupid Things My Parents Said That I Now Say”.

Child Rearing &  Development

    • rooster“A rooster is going to come poop on that lip!” Parents said when I was pouting.
    • “Don’t make me come back there.” When kids fighting in car.
    • “Right is Tight; Left is Loose”-when opening or closing something-mostly jars.
    • “People die in bed!” Said  if I was sleeping or napping too long.
    • Grandpa would grab me by the back of my neck and hair and say “Do you know how a rooster looks when he looks over a log?”
    • “If you had a brain, you’d be dangerous.”
    • “Hit the hay.” -Meant get to bed.
    • “Get the lead out!”-Meant hurry up.
    • “Cool Your jets.” -Meant slow down and be patient.
    • “You’d lose your ass if it wasn’t tied on.” I lost everything, always, but not that.
    • “Go ask your father.”
    • “Have you asked your mother?”
    • “Don’t let the sun shine up your keester”…as in get up and out of bed.
    • “Slow as molasses in January”-when not moving fast enough
    • “Don’t make me stop that car.”-Usually when we were fighting in the backseat.

Moms as a Teacher Quotes

    • Mom would say “Weight broke the wagon down.” She would use this when we would say, Wait, we aren’t ready to do X yet. I don’t know if that was a school teacher thing with the play on the spelling of Wait/Weight, or not?
    • “It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.” –meant-look on the bright side it could be worse, I guess.
    • Mom would say, “to make it stretch” when adding macaroni to a hot dish to make the pound of meat go farther
    • “There is no sea to it, it’s all dry land.” Mom would say this to us when we would say, See. Again, it may have been a school teacher thing playing on the spelling of see/sea.
    • Mom used to say “You are a poet but don’t know it, but your feet show it – they are long fellows.” She would say this when we rhymed words.
    • “Back to back, they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other.” It makes no sense and I can’t think of when she would say that to us.

angelFaithful Quotes

    • “This too shall pass.”
    • “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.”
    • “It’s a sin!”
    • “Sweet Jesus Come to Mama!”
    • “May his soul rest in peace.”- every time we passed a hearse or cemetery.

Random Quotes

    • “Help yourself. If you go away hungry, it’s your own dang fault!”
    • “The almond is the king of nuts. ‘Almonds have it all! Therefore, they’re the king of nuts.”
    • “Were you born in a barn?”
    • “We look like a bunch of gypsies.” When taking the whole family out for a family drive
    • “Cracked a korny”- when telling a joke
    • “It was quite the shindig,” referencing a great celebration or party.
    • I remember Mom always yelling upstairs asking “What do we do with the hallway light?”  My usual response was “Leave it on so mom has something to complain about.” I think she meant, “turn it off.”
    •  “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

11Preparing You for the Workplace Quotes

  • “Problem…solution.”
  • “A function of getting the right answer is asking the right question.”
  • “Haste makes waste.”
  • “Practice makes perfect.”
  • “Don’t let the grass grow under your feet.” Get out there and get to work.
  • “Wait 3 days before acting on major life decision.”
  • “Fail to Plan; Plan to Fail.”
  • “Keep your nose to the grindstone.”
  • “Simmer down”-meant settle down
  • “Calm, always be calm.”
  • “Practice 10 times before giving a presentation or speech.”
  • “Get on the stick!” -Meant hurry up.
  • “Do you think I’m made of money?”-when I asked for school trip money
  • “Finish up and call it good.”-when I obsessed about project perfection

Relationship Quotes

  • “You made your bed, you lie in it!”
  • “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”
  • “Take care of each other”
  • “Think enough of yourself and others will think enough of you”
  • “Thanks for the visit.”  “Tenks for da wizit.” I still say it to this day after an especially pleasing chat. Then I tell them about my German-Russian grandpa. I just said it to my boss last week.
  • “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

000Fashion Quotes

  • “Like something out of VOGUE”-when someone looked beautiful or “like Aster’s plush horse” or the “cat’s meow.”
  • Boys get hair cut they were “going to get their ears lowered.”
  • “It fits like a glove” When trying on something for size.
  • “They’d even look good in a gunnysack”…when someone would look good in anything.

Bathroom Quotes

  • “Don’t eat too many prunes or you will get the trots.”-meaning diarrhea.
  • “Clean as a whistle” or “smell like a rose” when you got a bath
  • “A site for sore eyes”-when bathed
  • What did you think of supper? Ehhh, “It’ll make a turd.”
  • “Cut the cheese” when passing gas or “pull my finger” and the person would fart

All-Time Favorite Quote Learned While Living in the Deep South

give-me-some-good-loving“Give Me Some Good Lovin'”

To this day, my son dips his head and lets me kiss it.

Yup. I’m hoping this quote is the one that sticks and gets passed on.

 

 

What quotes or sayings do you remember from childhood? Add them below! Such great language memories.

 

©Copyright. December 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

20 Lessons a Kid Taught Me

What Our Children Teach Us

20161127_111708-copyAlex celebrated his 22nd birthday on November 27th. He’s preparing to graduate from college on December 10, 2016.  It’s been a reflective and joyous time for our family.

The lessons  I shared when the following article was first published in 2001 remain relevant today. I’m a lifelong learner. It is phenomenal to be taught by my kid. It’s even better to look back and recall memories while learning from him.

Enjoy this post, perhaps recalling lessons learned while raising your kids.


In my 40 years of life, my six-year old son Alex has been my greatest teacher about life and on how to break old patterns, behaviors and habits. He’s taught me to have fun. I’ve laughed more. Life with him is less serious. I try to live in the moment. I want to capture the sensation of experiences, big and small with my kid.

20 Lessons My Kid Taught Me

Alex taught me it is more than okay, it is awakening to:
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  1. Run wildly in the rain pretending to score a touchdown on the wet lawn.

alex-in-red-paint

2.  Finger paint with polka music in the background.

3. Make up silly rhyming stories and giggle endlessly at one’s own creativity.

4. Build blanket forts and eat lunch underneath them.

5. Wrestle on the bed using self-titled moves, like the mashed potato masher and the rutabaga rumble.

6. Dance to The Beatles in the family room on a Friday night.

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7. Eat ice cream for breakfast and eggs for dinner.

8. Be completely open and honest and tell it like it’s felt.

alex-reading-2

 

 

 

 

9. Read books on the front porch with a flashlight.

10. Lie on the golf course in the dark and star gaze.

alex-at-beach-2

11. Build large cities, surrounded by volcanoes, instead of sand castles at the beach.

12. Ask why?

13. Say, “I’m really MAD at you!”

14. Thank God during nighttime prayers for the chocolate shake at bedtime.

15. Belly laugh at the priest’s jokes in church.

16. Wear clothes that don’t always match.

17. Lie on the floor, build corrals and play farm. Let the cows share a pen with the pigs and the chickens share with the horses.

18. Make up new rules for family board games.

19. Walk to the pond and feed the turtles and ducks hot dog buns.

alex-christmas-cookie-with-mom

 

 

 

 

20. Tell your parents, “I love you!” once a day.

Make a list of lessons you’re learning from your kids. If they’re still young, put the list away. Pull it out at one of life’s significant milestones, like graduation or a wedding. Did the lessons stick? Do your kids still follow their own teachings? It’s a great reminder of the joy of parenting. It also captures language and events that might have been forgotten.

Share this with others learning from their kids.

Copyright. November 2016.  Linda Leier Thomason.

All Rights Reserved

Version published Momscape.com 2001

 

1 Weekend of 8 Great Omaha Firsts

An Omaha Weekend to Remember

It was a weekend unlike any of the past 52. There was music, a toast, physical activity and a picnic. Also a hamburger, a priest and hail. And, shoes. Yes, disintegrating shoes.

This year I’ve committed to making time for more celebrations. Celebrating not just special occasions, but milestones. It’s not a New Year’s resolution. I’ve finally come to realize that joy matters. I’ve spent a lot of time working and ignoring milestones. Instead, I rushed to the next one without recognizing the success just achieved.

This past weekend our family experienced 8 firsts in Omaha. I understand it’s probably best to space these experiences out, but sometimes that’s just the way things work out. The difference was I actually lived in each of the moments. That’s a first too, probably the best first of the weekend!

Diana Ross

dianaI’m a Motown girl. Sure, I enjoy all types of music, but there’s something about Motown’s beats and melodies that resonate with my soul. When Ken asked if I’d like to attend our first Omaha concert by taking advantage of half-priced tickets to Diana Ross’s Friday night sold-out concert, my response was immediate and affirmative. “Of course, yes, thank you!” How could I possibly pass up the chance to be serenaded by the founding member and lead singer of the Supremes? The fact that’s she’s 72 was completely lost to my overwhelming desire to hear and sway to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Upside Down,” and 75 minutes of other recognizable hits.

All week we looked forward to sitting in downtown Omaha’s magnificent Orpheum Theater for the first time.  We were excited for our date night and wanted to be respectful of Diva Diana. Ken donned slacks with a long-sleeved, collared shirt and I wore a floor-length summertime dress with wedge heels. Until I didn’t.

Shoes

My first Omaha embarrassing moment happened when opening the car door and stepping onto the searing pavement. I felt a bit off-balance, but grabbed Ken’s hand to make our way across the street. He’s my rock. He centers me. However, the more steps we took, the more I felt like I was tipping over. This sensation isn’t that unusual with the scoliosis curves I carry. But when I looked down and saw a portion of my shredded right wedge heel on the sidewalk, I knew this was greater than spinal curves. Oh Dear! Cork was dropping with each step.

I had a choice to make: Carry on like nothing was happening, turn around and go home, or quickly try to find a shoe store. Without flinching, I chose the shoefirst. I’d go barefoot before missing a Diana Ross concert. By the time I got to the Orpheum restroom, the left shoe heel was also ¾ shredded. Sitting on the stool, I examined both shoes and laughed aloud at the timing of their implosion. Rarely do I wear heels; these expired before I did. I slipped the “flats” back on, exited the restroom, grabbed Ken’s hand and strutted up to our balcony seats. During this entire journey,  I only heard one person utter, “Well, that’s interesting!” Yup. It was.  Despite the shoe calamity, our first Omaha concert was fantastic.

Hamburger

dinkWe ate our first Dinker’s hamburgers on Saturday. Alex, our 21-year-old son who’s here for a summer internship, has been touting this landmark restaurant. Apparently several co-workers frequent the Polish neighborhood eatery and have been lobbying him to as well. Dinker’s didn’t disappoint. After placing orders at the counter, we bellied up to the bar and enjoyed cold beverages with mouth-watering burgers, fries and onion rings. [I had the kiddie burger-more than enough for me.] It felt great to patronize a local establishment with a long family owned history.

Homily

priestWe heard our first homily from newly ordained (June 4, 2016) Father Tobias “Toby” Letak at Saturday evening’s mass at St. James.  Now I know I’m old. Father looks like a kid. He is one. However, watching him say Mass and deliver his homily, I marveled at his deep faith and gift of communication. It will be a joy to support and watch him grow as a church leader and priest. What a great vocational role model for the youth as well.

Champagne Toast

toastSaturday was a year that we moved into our Omaha home. After Mass, I gathered the Thomason men, poured Sparkling Grape Cider into champagne flutes and then we lifted glasses in a toast of gratitude. If you’ve read any of our family’s journey getting to Omaha and into a home, you understand the sentiment behind the toast. It was needed and deserved. Here’s to many more memories in this home!

Hail

Our neighborhood received significant hail in May while we were traveling in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. We obviously didn’t hear or see the hail. The insurance adjuster and seven contractors who’ve been here declared our roof, gutters and window sashes totaled. We are experiencing our first hail claim and house repairs after living here less than a year. Sunday morning, we sat down and put contractor data, by variables, into a spreadsheet to determine who to hire. We are predictably analytical and thorough in our research. It’s who we are. We know this methodology doesn’t work for all, but it always has for us. Let the roofing and other repairs begin.

Basketball

bbSunday was 20 degrees cooler than the previous week where record-setting temperatures soared over 100 degrees. It was a bit much despite our heat and humidity conditioning from decades of living in the Deep South. Like most, we stayed mostly indoors last week. So Sunday, when it was cooler, we felt like escaped convicts and completely overdid it. First, Ken and I walked two miles at Standing Bear Lake. Next, we got Alex and, for the first time, used the basketball court at Hillsborough Park.

Recreational activities are something the three of us joyfully share together. In fact, in Alex’s youth, most Saturdays Ken took him to the grassy common area in the front of our Charleston, SC neighborhood with a trunk full of sporting equipment. It warmed my soul to see them bond while throwing, kicking and putting.  It’s not much different today with the exception of more competitiveness and ribbing. The togetherness and competition still warm my aging soul, though these activities are not as kind on my joints and bones.

Picnic

picnicGoing to our first parish picnic capped off an eventful weekend. Our previous experiences have mostly involved pot-luck events. Not here! A team grilled pork loins and hot dogs, some cooked potatoes and corn, while others deep-fried squash and onions. There also were cookies and melons. A DJ played background tunes, including many Diana Ross hits.  Kids enjoyed a variety of carnival-like games and inflatables. Adults were in the Parish Center playing Bingo in the air-conditioning while others were managing the cake walk outside the church entrance. It was a festive event and one we will return to, for certain.

A weekend is 48 hours. We experienced 8 firsts in Omaha during this time and each was memorable in its own way.

I lived each moment, making each experience more joyful. Another first worth repeating.

©Copyright. July 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

After Divorce, Love Liberates

I still love my ex-husband.

(Contributed by Maureen-an Oregon follower.)

I love him like a recovering alcoholic loves her drink of choice – with fond memories, from a great distance, and withm02 absolutely no desire to rekindle. Sobriety has gifted her with wisdom to understand the chaos of such reunion. The problem isn’t with the alcohol or the alcoholic. The problem is when they are in a relationship together.

 

Co-Parent 

My ex and I both love our children with fierce dedication. He’s an excellent co-parent: He returns my calls and gladly lets me borrow needed items. The lines of communication about our kids and their needs are very open. We cooperate while also maintaining healthy, new boundaries set after the divorce because, when children are involved, divorce does not end a relationship, it only changes it.

In fact, we filed for divorce together, submitting a stipulated judgment reached in agreement through mediation. The legal part was fast. It was reaching this point that was painfully slow and exhausting. After several rounds of pastoral and secular counseling, both as a couple, and individually, and only God knows how many tears and best efforts, I could state without reservation there was nothing left to try, no more effort to make.

Filed on Anniversary

By coincidence, we filed for divorce on July 8 – our anniversary – so, poetically, 14 years to the day we ended our marriage on the same day it began. Officially, the judgment was entered into the record six days later, but who’s nitpicking? That would mess up the way I’ve chosen to remember things.

And that’s the scary, and the beautiful part. It is my choice to remember things how I want to. Some may say I’m lying to myself, but we all lie to ourselves, all the time. I’ve chosen to stop hoping things could’ve been different. Rather, I’m grateful for how things are, which is the best definition of forgiveness I’ve found. I could list his failings and the compounded disappointments leading me to finally decide there was no hope for a shared future. But, then to be fair, I’d have to provide a list of mine. I don’t want to.

Imperfect

I was not perfect. I did things I am not proud of. Words were shouted. Names were called. Doors were slammed. Tires were squealed. Spit was spat. Yes, we’d known for years we were making each other miserable. I also knew if we split, he’d stay alone for approximately five seconds. I understood a separation would be permanent. I solved the problem of being forced to make this decision by lying in bed and crying about it for two years.

Support System

When I finally reached out to my friends, my sister, and my parents, their reactions told me I had no more time for such indulgences. They assured me they’d be there every step of the way and that if I returned to him without a full reckoning by both of us; they’d be forced to accept they could never take me at my word again. I knew once I started to share the truth of how far my marriage had gone off the rails, they’d expect me, and hope for me, to choose to do right by myself and my children. I fondly called this the Nuclear Option – drastic and irreversible, once begun.

On December 3, 2013, with the help of my sister and my parents – who could have so easily said, “I told you so,” but instead swooped in like a professionally trained search and rescue team, I pushed the red button by moving out and everything, I mean everything, has been better.

Circle of Stones

The process itself was brutal. Maybe I should say I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but that isn’t true. Life is full of pain and disappointment and the sooner one acknowledges it, the easier it gets. Everyone is carrying their own sack of rocks, why whine about mine? Instead, I put together a team I fondly called my Circle of Stones. The inner circle was my sister and my parents, and my dear friend, Mindy, who was the first to be told and the first to withhold judgment. I honestly don’t know where I’d be if she hadn’t been the perfect friend to me in the exact time and way I needed her to be. Her nonjudgmental response gave me courage to reach out to my family – a family that, through my silence and shame of feeling like a failure, I’d metaphorically been giving the finger for over a decade.

Added to the Circle were my brothers and their wives, whose humbling, unexpected and greatly appreciated generosity arrived exactly when I needed it. Donna, Ellen, Debbi, Marta – a.k.a “My West Coast Mom,” Jim, Andrea, Ree, Char and so many others joined the Circle as did my doctor. She wisely put me on a short round of antidepressants when I asked her for something to help me sleep. And then, at just the right time, I learned of a reunion of female first cousins, some whom I’d never met or seen in over 30 years. Being with these strong, beautiful, caring women buoyed me, reminded of the stuff I was made of, helped me remember where I came from, and gave me the support and perspective I needed.  It’s taken time, counseling, grief and being embraced by this Circle but yes, I still do love my ex-husband.

Love is an Active Choice

Mr. Rogers in his book The World According to Mr. Rogers said, “Love isn’t perfect caring. It is an active noun, like struggle.” It is an active choice to behave in such a way that is beneficial and nurturing to all involved. Dr. Maya Angelou is credited with saying, “love liberates”. So it is my choice to love myself, my children and my now ex-husband enough to liberate, or set us all free.

I also choose to stop hoping things could’ve been different and instead be grateful for how things are. Rather than dragging my bag of rocks, I stand solidly inside my Circle of Stones and know I am forgiven, I am free.

We all are – or at least we can be. We only have to choose to liberate.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

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©Copyright. November 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.