Friday, October 28, 2011

The Power of Red

I recently had the opportunity to go back to Lincoln for a Husker game.  It's hard to believe that I haven't been to a game since I left Lincoln so many years ago.  The minute I entered Memorial Stadium, memories of my wild college days instantly came flooding back!  This experience was much tamer, and I actually watched the game this time and loved every cold minute of it.  Here are some highlights:

The Roadtrip
I know--most people think I'm crazy, but I LOVE driving across Nebraska.  There's something about all that wide open space that just makes me feel free and happy.  I love that the Platte River runs right by my side all the way from Denver to almost Lincoln--makes me feel that I've got a friend traveling with me.

Speaking of friends, the trip always is much better with my traveling girl by my side!

Of course, any trip across Nebraska will result in lots of bug juice all over the car.  A car wash is always a necessity upon arrival and return!

With our tickets in hand, my nephew Kyle and I set out for the game.  I told him I wanted to get there early in order to get the whole Big Red experience.  And so we went tailgating, which was not something we did when I was an NU student.  We would all get together at someone's house/apartment and "GET PRIMED" for the game and fill our flasks with Peppermint Schnapps so we could spike our hot chocolate!  Kyle took me to Embassy Suites' tailgate party on the dock.  It was an amazing way to start the game experience.  There was a live band, and the Nebraska cheerleaders were there doing routines and dancing.  It was packed, but we managed to squeeze towards the stage without getting stepped on.  We drank a couple of beers, soaked up the energy from the tailgate crowd, and definitely "got primed"!  It was soon time to start walking toward the stadium.  We walked through campus, and once again, memories filled my thoughts as we passed one familiar building after another.  My heart fluttered as we passed Andrews Hall, the English building where I spent so many hours.  Kyle pointed out many places I had forgotten, including the chemistry building where my grandpa worked for many years.  That short stroll through campus was beautiful!

The Game!
I just have to say--nothing compares to seeing THE HUSKERS play in Memorial Stadium.  I have been to Bronco games, to Rockies games, to countless concerts, and they all pale to a Husker game. (except maybe a Bruce concert!)  Beginning with THE TUNNEL WALK,  as The Huskers charged onto the field, THE POWER OF RED infiltrated every person in the stadium.

We had great seats and were up close and personal with the players that we watch every Saturday as they work their Husker magic.  Being within speaking distance to #22 Rex Burkhead, my favorite Husker,  made the game even more thrilling.
Having such close-up views of  the players and the cheerleaders and even the band,  I realized just how young these people are.  They're college kids, for Heaven's sake, and playing their hearts out!    And play they did as  Nebraska beat Washington State in a never-dull-moment game

As mind boggling as the whole game experience was, I can't say the same for the food choices available at Memorial Stadium.  I have to admit, when I go to a Bronco or Rockies game, one of the things I look forward to the most is the food.  Who doesn't crave a Rocky Dog or a Helton Burger washed down with a big draw of Coors beer???  I totally get that there is no beer available at Memorial Stadium.  It is a college campus after all.  Besides, then we wouldn't have to sneak in our alcohol, which is part of the whole experience!  But the choices in food are few--in fact, just three main items are sold (all Nebraska origianls):

Valentino's pizza
Fairbury hot dogs

Kyle and I shared one of each at various times throughout the game, although it was hard to tear ourselves away to go to a food vendor.  And that explains it.  There is no need for fancy food booths at a Husker game because it is, after all, about the football, not the food!

Which brings me back to the power of red.  
Nebraskans know that it is always about football!  We live and breathe red and never lose faith in our team, even when we don't win.  Our players aren't playing with million dollar contracts.  They play for the sheer love of the game and the spirit of thousands of Nebraska fans supporting them.  The power of red is their driving force, not the power of money.  And knowing that something so historical, so powerful, and so rich in tradition is not powered by money but rather by heart is my reason to believe!

Husker Fans!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Christmas Lake

I can't think of a better way to wind down summer than a visit to my sister Kerri's gorgeous lake house in Minnesota.  Add to that the fact that almost my entire family was able to make the trip AND the weather was PERFECT, and saying goodbye to summer got just a little easier.  Christmas Lake is pure magic and love.

But then, what can you expect from a lake that is in the shape of a heart???

The trip started out on a total high note with a FIRST CLASS flight to Minneapolis (courtesy of Kerri and Marty!)

A glass of wine or some type of cocktail is not an option when flying first class--it is a given!  And, as my sister Lynne always says, "Someone's gotta do it--might as well be me!"
cruising at 36,000 ft. above the Missouri River

Saying this with maybe just a little bit of hyperbole, the minute we arrived at Kerri's, we were out on the lake.  For my family, that means skiing, tubing, and probably our most favorite thing, just "parking" the boats in the middle of the lake and everyone jumping in and just hanging out in the water.  Having grown up with boats and weekly Sunday lake days, we are all part fish (or mermaid!) and never want to miss one minute of precious water time.
mermaids and gents!

a little squirt gun action!

Even Ethan got to enjoy the refreshing waters of Christmas Lake!  He seemed to like it but was just a little unsure at first.  I predict by next summer, he will develop his Thompson fins and be jumping in along with the rest of us!

Even though we might want to spend our entire time in the water, that doesn't really work.  Rain, lightening, and darkness did force us indoors at times.  And that's a good thing.  Kerri's house is huge, and it never felt like 20 people were inside.  There are so many little nooks and rooms, it was easy to find my own personal space where I could just kick back and read or watch the lake as I sipped on a pom-tini.  My favorite spot is Kerri's screen porch off of the kitchen.  Ethan and I spent lots of time there looking down at the lake and saying "ahoy" to anyone who walked below.  He quickly learned that nautical word as well as waving bye bye anytime he heard a boat motor on the lake.

Of course no Thompson family get together would be complete without THE JAM SESSION.  And . . . after a day spent drinking pom-tinis, strip-and-go-nakeds, wine and beer, we were ALL ready to jam!!  Our family is quite musical, although if you saw the video from this particular session, you would never know.  But, my brother-in-law Marty, who carefully selected the songs for the set list and set up the studio, is an amazing musician.  In fact, one of the reasons he and my sister moved to Minnesota was for the music scene and the opportunities it presented.  He even recorded a CD when they first moved there, and it is AWESOME!
We were all ecstatic when we heard the intro to Marty's "Blue House" as the jam session began!   Our little house band consisted of Marty and my nephews--Andy on guitar, Nate on drums, Gabe and Kyle on bass.  What was supposed to be a little concert quickly turned into a karaoke session.  I mean we just had to sing along--to "Blue House" and then to some Beatles and of course to some Bruce!  The groupie section soon took over the vocals.  Fortunately, after a little while, Marty was able to get the mic back and sing for us.  The highlight for me was another one of his originals, (the circle song as I always called it!) "She Goes Round," which isn't on the CD.   I hadn't heard it forever!  LOVED IT!!!!   Another highlight had to be the made up, extemporary songs that happened at the end of the jam session, the most memorable being, (we're still singing it!) "If You Don't Drink Budweiser Out of a Can, You're a Terrorist"!

the band!

groupies forever!!

E gets in on the action!  

The final evening of our stay at Kerri's called for one more sunset cruise around the lake.  Those of us still there piled onto the pontoon for a picture-perfect voyage around Christmas Lake.  As we drifted along the perimeter, tracing the heart outline of the lake, I glanced around at everyone.  Every face, every body exhibited serenity and calmness, and I suddenly felt as if my heart were as big as Christmas Lake's.  I wanted to hold on to that moment forever.

And with that, my summer came to an end.  I'm back in school, ready for another year of sharing my excitement for everything that is English with 7th graders.  Already feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed, I close my eyes and transport myself back to the beckoning waters of Christmas Lake.  It is there I find my reason to believe.  Yes, I can make it for 10 months until summer comes round again!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


My fourteen-month-old great nephew Ethan made his first visit to my house in Colorado, and my heart (and house!) will never be the same.  From the moment he entered my front door, his tiny presence filled my place with fun, wonderment, laughter, and so much love.

The morning of Ethan's arrival (along with his mom, my niece Micki, and grandma, my sister Peg) found me anxiously watching the clock and calling their cells to check on their travel progress.  I worked at my computer in my study in order to pass the time and also to be able to see out the large window that faces my driveway.  Much sooner than I anticipated, I saw the dark blue of Peg's Honda Element turn the corner and pull into the driveway.  Ethan had arrived!!!

I wasn't sure how E would react to his great aunt, especially after being stuck in a car seat for a long trip across Nebraska.  I visited him in Lincoln two months earlier for his first birthday celebration.  And we also FaceTime frequently where E is all smiles and kisses when we video chat.  So I was hopeful that he would have some memory of my face and voice.  I was not, however, prepared for the reception that soon occurred!

Micki carried E through the front door and put him down just inside the threshold.  I was still in the study but could see his little face looking sleepy and a little confused.  In my slightly dramatic tone (who me--drama queen??) I said, "Hi Ethan," to which he smiled and (this is the important part!) came running to me and put his sweet hands on my legs and hugged me!!!  I thought my heart would burst--I fell head-over-heels in love with him all over again!!!

From that point forward, Ethan owned all of us--me, my mom, Jewel--we were all under his thumb the entire time he blessed us with his presence.  

And it was  GO, GO, GO from the time he awakened each morning until nap time until bedtime--E never stops!  If only the energy of a one-year-old could be bottled!
Jewel even let Ethan in her crate!

In the short amout of time that E was here, a lot of magical moments happened in Colorado.   Here are my favorites:

Ethan and Jewel sharing the window seat!

Ethan enjoying spaghetti at Bruno's Italian Bistro!

Visiting Golden and walking along Clear Creek!

Lunch at Morrison Inn!


Ethan discovering Mr. M & M--his mom enjoyed it just as much when she was his age!

Ethan loving the computer!

Ethan loving EVERYONE!
About to get a kiss!!!

All too soon, the time came for Ethan, Micki, and Peg to head back to Nebraska.  I was dreading this-- I knew the house would feel so empty without hearing E's little voice or the pitter-patter of his little feet in my kitchen and hallway.  I was right--there was an emptiness, but Ethan left behind lots of treasured memories and love.
    Oh, and . . .
a pacifier!
a journal entry!

Ethan's visit to Colorado was way too short for me, but in that little space of time I became aware of so many reasons to believe.  Loving Ethan allows me to believe in babies, in innocence, in silliness, in enchantment, in waving bye bye, in going until I'm tired and then taking a nap--preferably with Blue Bear, in letting people know when I'm hungry and then eating until I'm full, in stomping my feet if I'm happy and I know it, in big sloppy kisses, in hugs, in new generations, in family, in being head-over-heels in love.

Ethan, you are so VERY loved!!!!