Thursday, October 3, 2013

"A Teacher Affects Eternity; He Can Never Tell Where His Influence Stops." -Henry Adams

Here's to You 

Here's to Me, 

Here's to Alpha Xi!

I just returned from a magnificent weekend in Clarion, PA!  Fall in the Northeast not only consists of lovely cool days, and clear skies, but no one can deny the beauty of the backdrop, the scenery that surrounds us in the Pennsylvania hills and the gradation of color each tree leaf takes on as it is kissed by the sun.

I don't know how I can put into words the overwhelming feeling of love I have for each of these women--women, up until a year ago I had not seen in decades...yet from the moment one squeal of joy is sounded by greeting one another...and the memories pour out throughout the weekend, I realize...part of this overwhelming love comes from the fact that these are the women I truly really grew up with...discovering myself, my gifts, my flaws, and each of us having a great deal of respect for one another.

I discovered three years ago that my sorority sisters had been gathering the week before homecoming for about 20 years!  It happened that a sorority sister took a composite picture and ran through maiden names on Facebook...that's where I discovered the reunion.

You can say what you will about social media...I personally love Dave Ramsey's perspective on social media..."Don't compare your everyday life to someone else's highlight reel."  This is true for all aspects of just see more of it on Facebook, Instagram...keep everything in perspective.  But it was through social media that I found the women from college, who helped shape me into the person I am today!

Many of my sorority sisters are educators.  I had planned to be an teacher when I was a freshman in college, but changed my major 4 times--but graduated in 4 years!  Teachers are my heroes.

I want to repost a blog I wrong back in February of 2011.  After hearing the working and retired teachers discuss the challenges they face today, I want them to know they make a difference!

So Alpha Xi Delta sisters--I wrote this initial blog after celebrating a mentor and teacher of my husband's when he celebrated a significant birthday.  While this was for him in Feb. 2011, this is for make a difference...just as you made a difference in my life over 30 years ago.  I am a better person for having known you in my 20s...and I am incredibly blessed to know you now!

I Lasso Alpha Xi's who are teachers
I Lasso those Alpha Xi's who are in other careers...with love!


"A Teacher Affects Eternity; He can never tell where his influence stops."  ~  Henry Adams

Have you ever had a teacher, a mentor, a person who had an impact on your life--helped form you into the person your are today?

One of my favorite books is Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.
Like Morrie, there are teachers who do more than teach a this book, Morrie is dying, yet continues to be the teacher...he taught life lessons to one particular student.  There is a quote in the book that has stayed with me, especially during the 12 years I served as a Board of Trustee for Coppell Independent School District.
The quote came from Henry Adams,
"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops".  Teachers are truly my heroes!  The most profound illustration of Henry Adam's quote I can really speak to did not happen to me, but rather it happened to my husband Joe and our son, Adam.

Joe grew up in a suburb of Buffalo, New York...Williamsville!  In third grade he started to play the trumpet.  As he moved through the school system there was a middle school/high school band director who changed Joe forever.  His name--Frank Del Russo or Mr. D.  He was a task master...he pushed and pushed his band students to strive to always do their very best.  He insisted on doing everything the right way--always.  He didn't just expect this from his students, but Mr. D expected it from himself.  Mr. D also loved these students.  His love and compassion spilled over into every interaction he had with his band, color guard students.  

As I mentioned, Joe played trumpet.  So fast forward twenty some years...Joe always kept his trumpet out, because Mr. D told him if the trumpet is in the case, he would be less likely to take the time to get it out to just play.  By now, Joe and I were married with three elementary aged children.  One evening, Joe came to the dinner table in a bad mood.  After we said grace over our food, he stared at each of our children one-by-one and asked the question in a very serious tone, "Who put the DING in my trumpet bell?"  There was silence.  Then from the left side of the dinner table our only son Adam, a little third grader at the time, spoke up in tears..."Daddy, I just want to play the trumpet!  I am sorry I dinged your horn!"

It was at that very moment that Mr. D's love, and influence on Joe back in 1960's-- reached into the future and touched our son.  Our son graduated from Baylor as a trumpet performance major and is (prayerfully) headed to grad school for trumpet performance in the fall.

In October of this past year, Joe and I had the pleasure of hearing one of his band-mates, Carol Wincenc, perform at Bass Hall, in Fort Worth,Texas.  Carol Wincenc, a former student of Mr. D's has since become one of the most respected flute players, having appeared as a soloist with the world’s finest orchestras--and a Juilliard professor.  After the concert we met up with Carol.  As Joe and Carol were reminiscent of their days in "Bill's-ville" Joe happened to mentioned to her that in February Mr. D will be 80 years old.  She exclaimed, "We must do something for him!"

So at that moment, Joe the pilot became Joe the event planner!  
I love technology...because, between emails and email or connection to a few former middle school/high school band students led to others spreading the word of Joe organizing a luncheon in honor of Mr. D's 80th Birthday.  With the help of Mr. D's beautiful wife Claudia--Joe had a co-conspirator to pull off this event. 

Eagle House, Williamsville, NY

Well, last week, February 12th, 50 former students of Mr. D's gathered from all over the USA to the Eagle House in Williamsville, New York, to pay the highest honor a teacher can receive...students from the class of 1966, 1967, 1968 and one from 1969 came together to show Mr. D that his love, example of persistence, drive for excellence touched each of their lives.

Throughout the private room of this local watering hole, blue and white crape paper -- Williamsville school colors draped the room. Large photos of the former band students, a young band director covered the walls.  And what were once vinyl record albums of a young group of middle school/high school musicians were digitally loaded onto an iPod for background music for this festive event.

Mr. Frank Del Russo

Mr. D
The moment arrived.  Joe, who has always kept in touch with Mr. D, called him two weeks prior to mention that he had a Southwest Airlines overnight in Buffalo and wondered if he could take Frank to lunch.  Frank mentioned to him, "You know that's my birthday?"  Joe said, "No, I thought your birthday was on President's Day?"  Well, Mr. D told him, "No, my birthday falls on Lincoln's birthday...but I would love to see you and have lunch".  

So with the stage set...the crowd gathered, the band music playing...and...

The beloved band director from over four decades ago got the surprise of his life!

Joe, Frank, John, Suzi

Dan Teplesky, Denny Brown, Roy and Linda Larson
Claudia, Frank and their children, Kathie & Joe Gautille

One by one each student shared a personal memory of what Mr. D meant to them. The reoccurring theme of many whom shared was that Mr. D gave each of them love, confidence, compassion, persistence and the pursuit of excellence--and in turn they were able to pay it forward...pass it on to other students, family, friends.  Something else was shared, Mr. D gave a great deal of credit to the teacher/mentor of his--Herb Ludwig, who he credited for teaching him how to be the best possible teacher he could be...once again, a teacher affecting eternity.

Carol Wincenc, the one who proposed the idea to honor Frank unfortunately had to be in California for a master class and was unable to attend the surprise luncheon...but by phone she had 50 flutist play Happy Birthday to Frank.  

He received one other call, from Holland, yes...the of his students, April Eaton Brolsma made sure she called during the luncheon!

Not surprising that Frank married a lovely English Literature teacher, who has also touched the future.

Kathie, Joe, Claudia and Frank

Not many people get to see how they are lifting others, making a difference...I am so happy that this group of students made the effort to trek across the country to tell a wonderful 80 year old man that he made a difference in their lives.

A movie I have always loved...and actually was one of the reasons I thought I wanted to be a teacher (but I will save that story for another day) is To Sir with Love.  "Sir" took a tough group of students in London and taught them life lessons.  While Sir was initially despised for his tough disciplined approach to teaching...the video, the song at the end of the movie explains that Sir also touched eternity!  

I dedicate this entry to Frank, Claudia, our daughter Sara (3rd grade teacher), our son Adam (who teaches private trumpet lessons) and ALL of the educators that went into the profession to make a difference in the lives of their students!


I Lasso the love of teachers who are making difference
Frank Del Russo!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Come Fly with Me, Come Fly with Me--Let's Fly Away!

Fly Me to the Moon!

When my husband, Joe proposed to me--he had a very passionate speech prepared.  He first just said, "Kathie I am trying to ask you something...will you...will you..."  I said, "Will I what?"  "Will you marry me?" I enthusiastically said, "You betcha!"  Then the proposal continued...

"Kathie, I love flying, I mean, I really love to fly!   You have to understand that when I go to work--I fly, that means most likely I have to be away from you...I want to fly--I love being a pilot.  I want you to be my wife, but I need to know and for you to really understand what it means to be the wife of a pilot!"  I still said yes...and he has been blessed to fly our entire married life.

Joe has flown over 24,220.5 hours = 2.76 years in the air.  

This does not include the times we were apart for a corporate trip at which time he would say, "They pay for me to wait, I fly for free."  

Which means, unlike SWA having 7 take offs and 7 landings a day.  He would have one or two take offs and landings, and a few days later another.  He flew to destinations and waited.

It is one thing to retire when you know it is time.  When the job isn't the same, or maybe when the opportunity presents itself as too good to pass up...but it is another thing when you are a healthy and you are not only good at your job--you love your job, and are not ready to end your career.  Pilots, especially those over 60 are scrutinized during their medical physicals and simulator training, as they should all pilots who command an aircraft with many souls onboard should be.  
In 1960 there was an FAA rule put in place that a commercial pilot, regardless of how healthy or sharp he/she was must retire at age 60.  Well, age 60 looks a lot different in 2013 than it did in 1960.  

Joe joined many other great pilots and actively lobbied on Capitol Hill with the Airline Pilots Against Age Discrimination group and fought for years to have the retirement age moved from 60 to 65.  Finally after a unanimous vote both the House and Senate passed the law to extend the commercial pilot's age to 65, President George W Bush signed it into law! 

So through God's grace he was blessed with five more years of flying for the LUV Airline!

But today, he woke very early.  

Got ready for the day.

Put on his uniform and his four silver bar epaulets.

His crew black bag packed and by the back door ready to go...for this morning was the beginning of his last three day commercial trip.

His final flight is this Friday with family onboard.

He has been a "high flyer" for Southwest Airlines for many years.  Last year he flew 999 hours & 8 minutes. FAA only permitted an individual pilot to fly 1000 hours.  

He has had a great flying career.  On Sept. 6th--the day before he turns into a pumpkin on his 65th birthday

...he will be pulling chalks for the last time as Captain in command of the 737.


I Lasso the day Joe asked me to "Come Fly with Me...Let's Fly Away"!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Seriously, What Else Could Possibly Go Wrong ...You Can't Even Begin to Imagine!

Seriously, What Else Could Possibly Go Wrong?
...You Can't Even Begin to Imagine!

A few years ago there was a great commercial that played the song that Andy Williams made famous, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" and in the opening shot, while this song blasts in the background is a dad practically giddy while he is pushing a shopping cart up and down the school supply aisle...yes, it was a STAPLES back to school commercial!

In Texas this week school started.

Why I randomly thought of this commercial stems from the fact as the summer winds down, so does wedding season.  Summers are generally filled with attending weddings. 

Which made me think about my wedding.  

I want to share the story about the wedding that was perfect and magical despite the many obstacles that were thrown in our path!

Let me start off by saying, when I moved to Texas in 1984 from Pensacola, Florida, I didn't know a soul.  I had only lived in Pensacola for three years, and when I first moved to P'cola I had one friend from high school that I knew.  But now I was moving from a beach town to a metropolitan area, in another state--I had just received a promotion to the headquarters of the software company I worked for and moved to Texas with my dog, Gretel and a few sticks of furniture.  

Three months after moving to Texas I met my husband in a bar, (we tell the kids church)...okay...not really.  That story I will save for another blog posting.  But our courting and engagement was approximately one month long, and then we were planning our wedding. 

As with most wedding planning, the church, reception venue and band had to be booked immediately--which we did with my mom's help.  We were getting married in my hometown, a suburb of Pittsburgh.  So I relied a great deal on my mom for help since I was in Dallas and she was in Sewickley, PA.  

Joe and I went through the church we were attending in Dallas for the marriage preparation classes.  Shortly after taking the classes we decided to fly to Pittsburgh to meet the priest who would be officiating the sacrament of matrimony for us.  We were excited to meet the priest from the parish since I was in 4th grade, St. James Catholic Church.  We also took the marriage preparation paperwork we needed to give him to show we completed the classes.  These classes are a church requirement.  We had a wonderful visit and were very excited that everything was in motion for an April wedding.

In February, our wedding invitations arrived.  Joe looked at the invitation which we both picked out and he said, "Kathie, my dad's name is not Peter!"  (This is the hazard of marrying someone you have only known 7 months).  I said, "What do you mean, everyone calls him Pete..." Joe said, "His name is Anthony Daniel..." My mistake...I didn't have Joe proof the we paid to have the invitation reprinted and expressed mailed to us.  Fortunately we had separate cards for the reception and the RSVP...they were fine...or so we thought.

Then I received a phone call from a Father Dennis Wargo from St. James Catholic Church, where Joe and I were getting married.  He informed me that he had just been assigned to St. James and would be performing our wedding ceremony, but he needed our paperwork from the marriages preparation classes we were required to take.  

Well, let me just say, this was more an inconvenience that our paperwork was lost.  Father Wargo, took time through the course of a few long distance calls to get to know Joe and me a little before our big day.  And regarding the paperwork, it took a quick phone call to ask for a copy of our certificate to be mailed off to St. James. checked...done!

Then in early March--just a little over a month before the wedding, my mom called to tell me the reception venue my parents made a sizable deposit on had just gone bankrupt and not only were we not having our wedding reception there (and they lost the deposit), but my mom was having a difficult time finding another place to for the reception.  While on the phone with my mom, I was trying desperately to process the fact that the dream wedding reception I was hoping for was gone.  

The news kept getting worse...she said, all of the surrounding hotels were booked and with the wedding a month away, the only place that WAS available was the Sewickley Holiday Inn.  

The way my mom broke the news to me was if she pulled a pin on a grenade and threw it in the fox hole--she spurted out the words and held her breath for my reaction.  

But I couldn't say a word...I just sobbed into the phone.  

Joe heard me talking to my mom...when I hung up I was blubbering--not a pretty sight!  

He thought by the way I was carrying on that someone had me it was just the childhood wedding dream that died...I did not want my reception at the Holiday Inn.  

But Joe, so wise, so smart took me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, "Are we going to be any less married having the reception at the Holiday Inn?"  Through my gasping and sobbing, my tear-streaked face I said, "No"...he continued, "Well, Kathie, remember the goal...the goal is for us to spend our lives together..."  Honestly, it took me a short time to embrace his attitude.  But I realized he was right--the goal was to be husband and wife.

Well, not even a week later my mom called again..."Kathie, the band we hired just called, they have dis-banded...we need to come up with another band...or consider a DJ."  
I will be honest, I really want to say that I was not upset...but I was...what more could go wrong--so I had myself a little pity-party and then we hired a DJ.

The new invitations had just arrived and yes...we had to have new reception cards printed too...with the Sewickley Holiday Inn.  

Three weeks leading up to the wedding, I was having my wedding dress altered and having my veil/headpiece made.  

I also wanted to get my hair trimmed and have a body wave (yes, this was the 1980's that's what we did ;-/ )  My hair was a little over shoulder-length and my head piece was being made for a long hair style.  Why do I share this little detail...because what else could go wrong...

When I went for my hair appointment the hair stylist I always went to was out on an extended leave due to illness.  I didn't know this until I arrived for my hair appointment.  They quickly recommended another stylist that was able to see me right then--so I had a seat.  BIG MISTAKE...BIG MISTAKE--did I mention this was a big mistake?!

A trim turned into a layered SHORT hairstyle.  Not only that, but the headpiece that my veil would attach to looked ridiculous with this awful hairstyle.  Who knew.

So two weeks before the big day I went for my final fitting and  the redesigned of my veil-headpiece.  I went to Francine's Bridal Boutique in Dallas, and told them I had an appointment with Eileen for my final fitting.  Let me back up for a minute and explain, this is a very upbeat, classy store.  A lot of joy and excitement usually resonates from all corners of this boutique.  But on the day of my final fitting it was unusually quiet.  Upon hearing me say I had an appointment with Eileen (I remember her name because my sister's name is Eileen)--they burst into tears.  All of the employees were quietly crying. 

Francine, the owner--she was an older women, came over to me to explain that someone else would have to help me, Eileen had died the night before and they were all in emotional turmoil.  I didn't know what to say.  She assured me that everything would be taken care of, but to please be patient with them.  I explained when I would needed everything and she felt certain they would meet the deadline. 

I left the shop so sad.  I called Joe and told him what had just happened, he was empathetic and didn't really know what to say, but wanted to make sure I would have my dress in veil in time.  But Joe had some bad news for me, the diamonds we bought for my wedding bands were lost (how does this happen?).  But the jeweler was going to "make it right" but we may have to use other diamond bands for the ceremony.  I just laughed...I said, whatever bands I get married in are the bands I want to keep.  I just kept focused on the goal...we would be married in less than two weeks.

I called a few of my friends, who were going to be bridesmaids in our wedding.  When I spoke to my friend Judy, she said to me, "Kathie, do you think that maybe God is trying to tell you something?"  

I asked her what she meant...she said, "Do you think maybe God is trying to tell you that this isn't meant to be?"  I was so surprised by her questions, I asked, "What makes you say that?" And she said, "Kathie...look at how many things have gone wrong?"  She said, "I don't know...I mean look at all that has happened this past month!"  
  • Priest relocates losing your paperwork
  • The original reception place goes bankrupt taking a lot of your folks money, you barely find a place to have your reception
  • The band you hired disbanded
  • Your invitations had to be reprinted
  • Your hair is chopped off by a scissor happy stylist, which requires your veil to be remade
And I added, 
"Oh, and the jeweler lost the diamonds to my wedding band, just found that out..."
Judy shrieked.  I said, "Judy what do you think God is trying to tell me?"

She said, "Maybe you are not to suppose to marry Joe!!"  

I said, "Oh my gosh, that never entered my head."  

She said, "Look at all the signs!"

I told Judy--what I had learned in this event planning is that when you plan a wedding it is one of the first thing you really do as a couple to start your life together.  

Planning this wedding has been more "real" then if everything fell easily into place.  We had to face disappointment and frustration...but we both stayed focused on the goal...we were going to get married and be husband and wife...maybe we focused more on the marriage part, and not the storybook wedding I wanted to initially focus on.

The wedding ceremony was beautiful.  Father Wargo was really wonderful, and our families  and friends showered us with love and many blessings.  I still hated having the reception at the Holiday Inn, but I must admit, it was a great party!  

One final comment, I found out after the wedding that the company I used for flowers went bankrupt...and they messed up the flowers--especially for the wedding cake...I asked for all white flowers, & NO mom didn't even want me to see the cake...because on it was a stinkin' meadow of daisies...we still cut the cake and ate it, and it was delicious! 

That was over 28 years ago.  Just like the wedding planning there are times in a marriage when things go smoothly, they get rocky and disappointing, and sometime down right awful, but I never once thought Joe was not the person I was suppose to be with for life...

So when I hear people say I should have seen the signs...I often wonder if perhaps the signs are being mis-interrupted.  

I Lasso staying focused on what really matters!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Landon's Membership to the "Only Child Club" Finally Expired! Keegan is here!

Thank Heaven for Little Boys!

First the Wait!

Our daughter Sara and her husband Ryan just had their second baby -- and he is a beautiful, perfect baby boy!  But before Keegan Joseph arrived...we waited...and waited...and waited.  While Sara was only one day late from her due date, it seemed so much longer because her OB/GYN thought he was a probably going to be a June baby!

Sara asked if I would come down the last week in June to be there in the event she went into labor in the middle of the night -- or really anytime, to take care of Landon.  Well, twist my arm!  Like any good Nonna, I hopped at the chance to spend quality time with Sara and Landon.

But the final days of June went by...and no baby, but trust me, Sara was in early labor having Braxton Hicks contractions non-stop.

The baby's unofficial estimated weight by the doctor was at least 8 pounds.  Landon came a day before his due date, and was 8 pounds, 8 oz. and 20.5 inches long.  So Sara was feeling a little better knowing that all of the horrid comments people would say to her in public "How many do you have in there?"  or "Holy Cow, you're going to have a baby!" duh...but Sara has grace, and she would grit her teeth and try to let the comments roll off her back.

We thought perhaps he would be a little firecracker and come on July 4th!

Landon watching the Macy's Fireworks on TV!

But July 4th came and went!

Making the most of the days left with only Landon!

Sara is such a great mommy.  She wanted to have activities to do with Landon everyday before the baby arrived.  So we went to playgrounds...  


Landon is pretending he is a Monkey!
I wish this was a video, because he sounds like a monkey too!

If we weren't at an outdoor playground, we were at an inside playscape!

Or hanging out at home!

Playing at the water table Landon informed me that
"Water is wet!"  Genius! 

Enjoying the last few days before Landon's "Only Child Club Membership" expired
and baby brother arrives.  
Nonna & Papa Joe gave Landon a brand new Percy that talks!

Watching Thomas & Friends...or Elmo's World!

Playing on the Island of Sodor with Landon,  and his buddies Thomas and friends!
Nonna and Landon building towers & bridges for Thomas to go through!

As a side note...Uncle AJ & Godfather to the new baby had just returned from a trip of a life time spending a few weeks in Manila.  He went with his best friend Clayton and his wife Tala, who is from Manila. At the end of his fabulous trip he decided to come to Dallas instead of going back to Boston--he really wanted to be in town for the birth of the baby!  

Adam arrived at Sara's house on Keegan's due date...but no baby!   The picture below was taken the night Sara went into labor...

Adam and Sara the night she went into labor!
It's the real thing...time to head to the hospital! 

Then in the middle of the night, Sara woke me and said it was time to head to the hospital!  It was just as we all had hoped--Landon was sound asleep, they slipped out during the night and by the time he was up in the morning he was a big brother!  

Before they left for the hospital, they went in to see Landon--sound asleep surrounded by his Thomas and friends sheets, a hippo, a well loved doggie, two lambs and a large plush 'Thomas'!  Watching Sara and Ryan rub his back and kiss his little head...well, it was one of the most touching moments, filled with sweet "tears of love" for their first born son!  

The closer the due date came, the more Sara began to worry about being able to love another baby as much as she loves Landon...I shared my story (one of my previous blogs around Christmas) of how I worried that I would not love our second baby (Adam) as much as I loved her...but I told her, when you have a new baby your capacity for loving increases...and I told her much like the Grinch...your heart will grow...
and it did--for all of us!

Sara gave birth on July 8th at 7:43a.m. to a healthy baby boy!  
Keegan Joseph
9lbs, 9oz
21.5 inches long
Perfect in every way!
God is so amazing!

My turn to hold Keegan!

Papa Joe get's a turn!

Sara, Ryan and Keegan arrive home!

Landon, Keegan and Ryan at the pediatrician office for the first visit
Landon was THRILLED he was not being messed with by the doctor!

 I Lasso the miracle of love and life!
I Lasso being a Nonna of two beautiful boys!

God is good all the time!
All the time God is good!