Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Matters Most...

I have been invited to a banquet on April 22, 2013, where I have been told I will receive either an award for being an outstanding student in my program or an award for student leadership.

I have been invited to participate in the NWTC graduation ceremony on May 16, 2013, where I will be awarded my Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies.... (graduation from 14th grade at the age of 41?  Or possibly a hidden success story?)

Of course, I will attend both of these events.  I am excited and proud.  Yet, being a mom, it is a bit overshadowed by a few things.  In a little over a week, our son, Mack, will be home on leave from Air Force Tech School.  He will be in Wisconsin for only 3 short weeks before he reports to his first duty station at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona.  After spending the past decade or so as the coordinator of chaos in my household, I have to admit, I miss the chaos.  These days it's a bit too quiet in our household.  Ok, other than my daughter, Rachel "Cake Boss" Minor, making cupcakes in the wee hours of the morning... but often she is off being fabulous and the house is way too quiet.  Last Friday night my husband and I asked Cody, our other 19 year old twin, who lives here in Green Bay, if he wanted to come over and hang out with us.  His response was, "Are you saying you want me to come over?"  Um ok kiddo, way to call us out on missing our kids in our old age.  We will never admit it!

So although I am proud of my achievements and possibly finally finding that "grown-up" gene that I have always felt was just beyond my reach, my "mom" gene has overtaken all of those thoughts of myself.  I find myself worrying about what meals to make (even though the one thing this kid wants to eat is my sister's famous cheesy potatoes) and arranging for family and friends to get together while he is home.  But mostly I am trying to figure out how to say "son, you make me proud." And even though the photos below show who you are now, I still see this little guy with two different colored eyes, who woke up laughing as a baby.  Even though seeing you in uniform was great, I can't wait to see the goofy kid with the contagious positive attitude and often uncontrollable laugh, walk around our house... even for a short period of time.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Give People a Chance

In the past week, at least ten of my friends, family members, or co-workers have told me, “I just don’t like people!”  Some of them simply mean they like their own people, their core group, their “fab five”, but they don’t like new people.  Others don’t like any people at all.  Whenever my sister and I are talking about why she chooses not to have any girlfriends, we come to the conclusion that most people are disappointing.  Some individuals will put all of their focus onto one fabulous person who they will put on a pedestal.  In these instances, they typically have some sort of tunnel vision where that one person can do no wrong and this causes a dysfunctional reaction where they treat everyone else in their life horribly.  Some people are only capable of being nice to one person at any given time in life.  

I generally like people, but the older I get I have been feeling less and less interested in meeting new people.  This is not easy considering I am in school where I am constantly exposed to new students in each new class and in the workplace where employees will come and go as often as the clients do.  By no means am I writing this to be negative, but I think it would surprise a lot of people that I have a generalized social discomfort when it comes to meeting anyone new.  For example, if a group of my friends make plans to do something and someone says, “I hope it’s ok, I invited my friend Suzy/Joe/Lucy”, I immediately have this inner sense of panic.   A lot of that comes from the fact that I have such a sense of comfort with those closest to me, and when you throw a new person into the mix, I will feel like I have to be “on.”  In my career, my boss feels like networking events are extremely important, so I sign up to attend and immediately before the event, I start feeling like I am going on a first date or as if it is my first day of school.  This is not because I am uncomfortable with who I am.  It is more because I am 41 years old and I don’t want to have to try so hard all of the time.  Most of the time, I just want to find a comfortable chair to sit in and if people come to me, great.  I just don’t want to have to mingle.  The older you get, the harder it is to repeat your basic “facts” to one new person, much less many of them, over and over and over again. 

The truth is, had I not given people a chance, new people, I would not be so blessed with some really outstanding friends.  I recently gave a hard time to a friend of mine who decided it was time to focus on just a few people in her life – her “fab five” so to speak.  (Did I make the cut?  Only time will tell I guess! But my gut instinct tells me I have a pretty good chance).  I realized that I probably have done the same thing.  Gone are the days when the quantity of friend in my life was a status symbol.  These days it is the quality of those people that matters most.  So maybe you feel like you don’t like people, but think of those people who make you laugh when you need it most.  Some of them can have an hour-long conversation about why Butter never has a Bad Night.  Others will impress you when they actually understand your Baby Jessica in the well reference when you come to the conclusion that your house was possibly built on top of a sinkhole.  Some people will wipe your tears away when you cry and when you are going through what might seem like the worst thing in the world, they will feel your pain.  There are some people who will have your back no matter what, even if they feel deep down inside there might be a chance that you are wrong – they will never let you or anyone else know that.  So today, for this day, give people a chance. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Today is my husband’s 40th birthday.  I can’t help having that Kid Rock “I guess I’m $#@%ing forty” song ringing in my head.  In honor of his birthday, I am wearing a shirt that looks like it could have been made in 1973.  I, myself, am already 41.  Soon to be 42 in July of this year.  Today my husband ruins my façade of being a woman in her forties married to a man in his thirties.  Today my husband told me he feels “REALLY OLD!” 

I met Jason when we were both in our early twenties.  We were just a few years older than our “grown up” twin boys are right now.  In fact, when my husband met me, he also met those twin boys.  At an age when he should have been spending his life in bars or drinking beer in a bachelor pad, he made the decision to accept the “package deal” of starting a life with the three of us. Over the years we have moved into numerous rentals (duplexes, apartments, townhouses), driven at least ten different cars (Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Fords, Pontiacs, Chevys, Toyotas and Kias),  had ridiculous parties (weddings, birthdays, housewarming, graduation parties),  changed jobs, got married, had a daughter, bought a house, got a dog, took trips up north, took trips to far away places, stayed in hotels – sometimes all five of us packed into one room, went back to school to earn degrees,  changed our careers, learned to like (God forbid!) Country music, brought a kid to college, brought a kid home from college,  watched a kid graduate from Air Force basic training, lost a house, went back to a rental, learned to laugh over car accidents and things that didn’t quite go our way, learned to live paycheck to paycheck without fear, learned to cook, watched 1000s of movies and tv shows we would become fanatical about for a moment in time. 

And all of this did not make us wiser and more mature.  It mellowed us.  It simplified what has made us happy.  It made me laugh in the middle of a ridiculous argument about the fact that my husband does not like Stevie Nicks.  (Ok, I am still kind of mad about THAT one.)  My husband Jason is still a big kid at heart.  So I hope my husband has a wonderful 40th birthday and does not feel old, but instead feels proud of his life.  Happy birthday old man!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Letter to My Program Director

As I move closer toward graduating in May of this year (yes it's official I WILL graduate... even got the confirmation email yesterday... unless I really mess something up!), I have been reflecting upon how my education has improved my life, as well as how much my instructors have done for me. This morning I sent an email to Lisa Mayer, the Director of the Paralegal Program at NWTC.  I would like to share it. 

Hi Lisa,
I just wanted to send you a quick email to let you know I am now working as a
full-time litigation paralegal at Epiphany Law in Appleton, for Attorney Valerie
Revnew.  One of my co-workers, who works with business entity formations and
real estate transactions, is Stephanie Fitzwilliam, who took Civil Litigation
classes with you and graduated from NWTC last year.  She wanted me to tell you
hello.  I am really enjoying my job at Epiphany, and working in the litigation
area. I know many students think you are a very tough instructor, as you should
be being the director of the program.  I wanted to thank you for being that kind
of teacher, to help us remember those things like "file, serve, file."  I
appreciate all that I learned from you in class because it is truly helping me
out in the work world.  I learned more from your class than any other class I
have taken, and believe me it makes my job much easier. Many people won't
appreciate what they have learned in the program until they are actually thrown
into the whole crazy chaos of a day as a paralegal.  Often our supervising
attorneys do not give us the most concise instructions, and we have to use the
skills we were taught in school to find the answers, so that we can present
intelligent questions to our supervising attorney when we are not quite clear
regarding what we are being asked to do.  I wish I could tell everyone in the
paralegal program how important our schooling is, because this is not a field
where you are given a specific training manual for every situation you might
encounter.  Again, thank you so much for being an amazing instructor and helping
me to become a successful paralegal. 

I will graduate in May and am very proud to already have a full-time position.
I had been working part time for the past few years in at Peterson, Berk and
Cross but that was more of an intern type position.  This is the real deal! The
firm I work for treats us so well and I feel very fortunate! Here is a link to
my bio and Stephanie's bio on our law firm website in case you are interested in
a few successful students of the program:

Thank you,
Karrie Minor

Monday, February 11, 2013

After a Long Reprieve.... I'm Back

I feel like I should apologize for not writing for so long.  But you know, life tends to get crazy and all sorts of changes have happened in the past two months.  At the end of December, I was offered a full time position at a law firm in Appleton, which of course I accepted. In January my son graduated from Air Force Basic Training, which meant a trip to San Antonio, Texas. And finally, I have started my last semester of school.  I am sure of it this time, as I only have those last two classes.  As you can imagine, life has been busy.

I will get back to that Texas thing later in the week, as there will be another blog about that trip.  What I wanted to focus on today was the word "busy."  Life is extremely busy and often we don't have time to get together with people in our lives.  We procrastinate.  We put off working out.  We put off doctor's appointments.  We put off doing our taxes.  We use the excuse that we are busy.  In all of my time being "busy",  I have tried to continue to make time for those people who are truly important in my life.  I have a great support system of friends and family, and no matter how busy I am I don't want anyone to feel neglected.  Especially those of you who are always there for me.

What if there is someone in your life who only has time to pencil you in? (seriously Lori, this is no offense to you at all :)  You always make time for me, but I like that whole pencil you in phrase.)  I have always been a firm believer that if someone cares about you enough, they are never too busy for you. They will make time for you.  This weekend, my daughter had a major medical issue she was recovering from, but I received a call from a friend who had a flat tire and needed a ride to go pick up a new tire, and take her to watch her change said tire.  (No, I did not help, I simply offered moral support with the tire changing.)  It would have been really easy to explain how busy I was and how I had so many things going on.  But I didn't.  Because she needed me and it was not a big deal to take an hour out of my day to help out.  I just imagine if I was in that situation myself.... she would be there in an insta-second to help me.

Other than busy, there are people who seem to think life works on their schedule.  When they have time to do something, or get together with you, they feel like you should jump and adhere to their need for immediate action.  Perhaps this does not work with your own schedule.  No one should expect you to adhere to their schedule either.  (Unless this involves homework, or work deadlines... please be sure to meet those).  With our friends and family and all loved ones, we should work together, it is called compromise.  Life is not about demanding or commanding those in your life what to do and when.

We are all busy, we all have schedules.  Yet we all have the ability to compromise.  To multi-task.  And to make time for what is really important in life. So today, slow down a little, breathe, take some time out for someone or something you have been putting off.  You will feel good about it. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Angels Are Singing

This is possibly the most difficult blog post I have written.  I had intentions of writing it yesterday but I don’t think I was in the right place emotionally to do that.  Even today, each time I think there is something that I need to write, I go to my computer and read a few more news articles about yesterday’s shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, and find myself in tears.  The more I read, the harder it actually gets to write something that makes sense in the midst of a senseless act.  Although I have been known to do the opposite in the past, recently I have tried to find a positive message, even in the worst situations imaginable.  What could be positive about innocent children losing their lives?  A senseless act.  Since first hearing of what occurred, I have had a continuous fast forward loop in my head of not only my own children at elementary school age, but also the kindergarteners that I spent time with, volunteering at a local elementary school a few years ago.  The childlike innocence and wonder.  The enthusiasm for discovering the world.  The openness and kindness and pure hearts that have not yet become jaded and cynical by this thing we call life.  I haven’t talked to many people about how this has affected me, because each time I think of it, or hear or read one more news report, I feel that lump in my throat, forcing tears out of my eyes to roll down my cheeks… I literally feel as if I am choking on my own sorrowful emotions.  The sadness for lives lost, for Christmas presents that will go unopened and for the pain that no parent should ever have to endure, the loss of a child. 

We also need to remember the others, those who lost their lives, and those who lived, all of them heroes.  The adults who found themselves helpless, in an uncontrollable situation, trying to protect the children that these parents entrusted them with on a daily basis.  A principal who tried to overtake a gunman. A teacher, who hid the children in her classroom in cabinets and closets, telling the gunman the children were in the gym, only to lose her own life.  Another teacher, who saved the lives of the children in her charge by barricading herself and the entire class in a bathroom, making sure to tell them that she loved each and every one of them, trying not cry, just wanting to be sure that if that was the last thing those kids ever heard, they knew they were loved.  The little boy who told that same teacher “It’s ok, I know karate, I can lead us out of here past the bad guys.”  A librarian, who brought children into a storage room, calm enough to find paper and crayons so in order to keep them distracted from the fear they might otherwise have. 

I don’t know if there will ever be an explanation to satisfy all of our questions about why this happened.  Even those of us with ironclad faith that God has a plan, no matter what happens, His plan surpasses all human understanding, find it difficult to make sense of this.  I realize that what I am saying is similar to everything you have heard already.  Though I have asked God to bless me with some wisdom to share that might help at least one person to find peace in this tragic situation, I still find myself without any unique or magical words.  And even though you have continuously heard this over the past day and a half, I will say it all again.  Take the time to give some extra hugs every day, not only to your children, but also to anyone important in your life.  Make sure that no matter what, through struggles and arguments, and even when you are angry that you ALWAYS say “I love you.”  Remember to show gratitude and appreciation to those whom you entrust with the care of your children…. And even when you don’t agree with teachers of your children, parents of the children you teach, friends of your children, parents of your children’s friends and even your own children  - try to remember how fortunate you are to have those people in your life and how none of those disagreeable emotions would matter if you had to experience first-hand what those in Newtown, Connecticut went through yesterday. 

God bless the new Angels and Saints in Heaven, who now watch over us.   

Friday, November 30, 2012

Goodbyes and Hello to New Adventures

The end of the semester is drawing near and we are all wrapping up final assignments/projects and hoping to get them completed early so we can get a start on the Christmas season.  However, my mind has been elsewhere lately.  On Monday, I took my son Mack down to Milwaukee to drop him off to ship off to the Air Force.  (Thank you thank you thank you for the moral support and driving skills while a mama had a meltdown to my/our very very very awesome, magnificent and outstanding friend who accompanied us.  I love you to the moon and back for being there; knowing the right things to say to keep the conversation positive and provide us with laughter on what might have otherwise been a real downer of a trip!)  Mack stayed in a hotel on Monday night, did his final “stuff” – height and weight check, contract signing and sworn in to active duty – at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) on Tuesday morning.  By noon on Tuesday, I received a text from him that he was on his way to the airport to fly down to San Antonio.  Relief knowing that his crazy metabolism did not cause him to lose too much weight overnight and he made the minimum.  I personally have no clue where he got that from because I definitely do not suffer from an overactive metabolism myself!  Many texts later, after 10pm at night, he told me he was in San Antonio, on the bus to Basic Training.  Heading into 8 weeks – 44 working days - of getting his butt kicked for a kid who grew up with the most easy going mom with very few rules and a lot of love.  I am sure he can count on one hand how many times I have actually yelled at him in the past 19 years.  Tuesday afternoon I received a phone call from him and it was great to hear his voice.  He sounded good and said it was not as bad as he expected – so far – that no one was too mean … so far.  Though I understand this is called Zero Week and the worst is upcoming over the next two weeks.  At the point I spoke to him, he had not yet gotten his head shaved, hair he has not cut for almost a year which has turned into this crazy curly thick mess usually hidden under a knit beanie type hat worn even in summer, hair which he figured at least added one pound to his weight.

My son signed into the Air Force for 6 years, so although we will fly to Texas and see him at his Graduation from Basic Training, he will be off to Air Force Tech School immediately after that (not sure where, but not likely close to home) and then stationed somewhere (hopefully) fabulous so that he can start the adventure of real life.  He will likely make a career out of this, meaning it is highly unlikely he will ever be back home for longer than a few weeks of leave, and it is unlikely he will ever call Green Bay, Wisconsin his home again.  As I am typing this, I am shedding a few tears at that thought.  If you are reading this and your children are still young, believe me when I say “you’re gonna miss this.”  What led up to his decision to join the military was not an easy road.  Both of my sons (and my daughter) are extremely intelligent.  Mack probably has a genius IQ.  However, if the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, Mack will zig-zag and take the long way around to get there.  He could score 100% on exams in high school, but refused to do homework because he felt it was a waste of time if he already knew and understood the material.  I have a crystal clear memory of sitting in the parking lot of West High School on an early morning in the Fall of 2009, after practically dragging him out of bed to get him to go to school, both of us crying.  I was asking him to tell me what I could do to help him, because as a parent I truly needed to help him to be successful and have a successful future, and whatever I was doing at that point clearly was not working.  So Mack went into several different alternative programs that he was probably far too intelligent for (night school, CESA) and did what he had to.  When he told me he wanted to drop out of the CESA program, I fought as hard as I could to get him into the GED2 program at West which would allow him to study for and take the GED/HSED tests fully paid by the school district and still receive a West High Diploma.  We knew this along with the other alternative programs meant he would not have a GPA on his high school transcripts, something a four year college would not accept unless he went to a 2 year school, such as NWTC.  He completed and passed all of the GED tests with honors (I believe this a 95% or higher score on each test) within 4 weeks.  We initially discussed him attending NWTC, however, as a student there myself, I knew that meant a lot of homework.  Since he was not exactly on board with this whole homework situation, he brought up his desire to join the military.  Since he was very young he had thought of being in the military, but now he was really going to do it. After investigating several branches of the military, he chose the Air Force.  As a parent, I asked him over and over if he was sure this is what he wanted to do.  Over the past months leading up to him leaving, each time he “wanted to talk” to me, I had concerns that he had changed his mind.  However, he committed to it and he has followed through… and now as I am writing this he is about to endure the worst 8 weeks of his life, yet I know he understands it is all worth it.  It seems like the past 19 years were as short as one day, and suddenly you are all grown up.  Son, although I miss you like only a mother could miss a child (feels something like my heart being ripped out of my chest when I am folding up your Pokemon blanket you have slept with since you were 6 years old and putting it away in a closet),  you make me proud and I love you. 

"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security and conformity, which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.  The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure.  The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day, to have a new and different sun."   -  Christopher McCandeless, "Into the Wild"