Sunday, September 30, 2007


In November, Ellie will attend the most fantastic, frivolous, glittering and glamorous event of the year. She's been talking about it for weeks. Scores of girls are green with envy. In fact, thousands couldn't get tickets and many of those who did paid up to $1000 or more. On November 24, Ellie, her best friend Iliana, and her valet, I mean mother, will be attending the Hannah Montana concert in Knoxville!

I hasten to add that we did not pay $1000, or anything close. In fact, we got our tickets online, in a special fan club sale, before the frenzy began (during which all remaining tickets sold out in only fifteen minutes). Since then, I've tried several times to convince Ellie that we should sell our three first-section seats, which we purchased for $156, for $3000 (which is what they're going for) - but she won't hear of it, so I guess the concert is a go.

Now, I'm not much into teeny girl bands. But I must admit that I'm kind of looking forward to this one. For one thing, I actually like Miley Cyrus's music. She's a good musician and, as teen stars go, not a bad role model for my star-struck daughter.

I'm also looking forward to having a whole day and a half of girl-time with my favorite girl (Ellie) and her friend Iliana, who is sweet, respectful, vivacious, and a good influence on Ellie and me.

Our planned schedule involves driving to Knoxville on Saturday, attending the concert, staying in a motel for the night, and eating breakfast Sunday morning before heading home - which gives us plenty of opportunity for relaxation, quality time, and downright self-pampering. I'm looking forward to such things as no charts, no alarm clock Sunday morning, and no family members of the opposite gender to care for (apologies to JD, Owen and Jonah who will be on their own!).

For these luxuries, I may just trade my hearing ability. And perhaps my sanity - consider that on the way home, I will be a captive audience to up to 3 1/2 hours of gossip, raves, and swooning over the Jonas brothers (who are opening the show). Oh, and I may just be crushed at the concert since our seats are in the section in front of the stage, and my child, along with who knows how many very determined girls, will be trying to get as close as possible to Hannah herself.

As I reflect on Hannah Montana and the meaning of life, I realize that this concert will take place just nine days after my 39th birthday. I am still not sure if it will make me feel younger or older to be there, but I am quite sure that, being there with Ellie, it will not matter. When I look at her, I see traces and threads of myself, but much younger and more energetic, and with a whole lot of improvements. That makes me really proud. And it kind of makes me forget about getting older.

So, here's to being a girl and feeling invincible. Watching Ellie now, I am quite sure that is how she feels. And who knows? In the words of Hannah Montana, "Who says I can't be a superstar?" It sure worked for her.

To me, Ellie is a superstar in the making, even if she never sets foot on a stage. The world is her stage, and I can't wait to see what she does with it.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Training Wheels

Last week, Jonah got his first bike.

A surprise from his cousin (who had outgrown it), the bike was bright blue, covered with streamers and balloons, and even had a handmade name tog attached to the front handlebars. A bright yellow bike helmet completed the ensemble.

We had traveled to Fall Creek Falls, a state park several hours' drive from here, where we met my mother and two of my brothers and their families for a picnic lunch, followed by a swim in the river, then a family bike ride around the lake. The entire day was enjoyable, but my favorite part was watching Jonah as he took his first bike ride ever.

He set off down the bike trail, the smallest in the group, and I rode right behind him to make sure he was OK. Soon the others had left us behind. Jonah pedaled energetically, his bike wobbling back and forth, stabilized on either side by the training wheels which caught him if he leaned too far in either direction. Occasionally he would flash a smile at me over his shoulder. He was so proud of himself!

Often, he lost control of the bike, usually by going off the side of the bike trail where he tipped over in the uneven ground. Each time, he jumped up again, picked his bike up, and got back on the trail. "I'm not hurt," he kept saying.

Once, Jonah wiped out next to a several-foot dropoff with a steep descent to the lake. As his bike slid over the edge, he jumped off it and stayed on the trail, avoiding an accident which definitely could have hurt him. That time, I jumped off my bike to help him, but he was OK, just a little scared.

Our pace was so slow that I had a lot of time to think, and I found myself thinking about something I had read about the topic of falling. Apparently when toddlers fall, it's best not to grab them every time to keep them from getting hurt. Falling is part of the whole process of learning to walk; if we never fell, we would not learn about gravity and balance, or the body mechanics needed to prevent a fall.

It made me wonder if God goes behind me, like I was going behind Jonah on that bike ride, watching my progress but not intervening unless I am in serious danger. Perhaps when I could not feel him there, he was watching, proud of the progress I had made, but knowing I would not learn unless I did it alone and even fell occasionally in the attempt.

I have to give Jonah credit. Instead of crying and reaching for me every time he fell, he was so brave. "I'm not hurt, Mom!" He said quickly as he got back up to try again.

And even in that short ride of a mile or so, he did learn so much. By the end of the ride, he was
tearing around with his cousins like a little daredevil.

Next time I feel alone or have fallen, perhaps I should try the Jonah method - get up, assure God I'm not hurt, and keep going until I learn whatever it is he is trying to teach me to do!