Thursday, September 29, 2005

My Grandma Jo

We’ve been close for as long as I can remember. We have always had a special bond that has kept us very, very close through the years. As a baby I’ve been told that I would stop crying as soon as I was placed into her arms, and her ability to comfort has continued over time. Whenever I’m upset, I call grandma. She listens without judging and I ALWAYS feel better after a good talk with her. She has made a point to email me every, single day since we’ve lived in Grand Cayman. Her emails are filled with support and encouragement, just what I have needed during some of the tough days here. I think she knows me better than almost anyone. She understands me and supports me no matter what. She has provided me with guidance and expert advice during times when I have needed it most.

When we were little, Eric and I got to spend nearly every Friday night at grandma and grandpa’s house. They would treat us to Vic’s pizza, and then we would play Scrabble and watch Wheel of Fortune on tv. Saturday morning we would sit at the counter while grandma made homemade biscuits. During summer vacations I would practically beg her to take me to work with her. (Of course she always said “yes”.) I would have a blast playing “office”, and I loved to eat at the underground cafeteria. It was such a treat because I could get ANYTHING I wanted for lunch.

My grandma has a heart of gold. She is loving and generous, and she would do anything for her family. She goes out of her way to make sure we all know we are special and loved. She is fun and spunky and strong. She can master any new craft she tries, and she makes the most beautiful quilts I have ever seen. I owe my new love for crocheting to her because she is the one who taught me many years ago how to hold the hook and keep the yarn tight in the other hand. We are already talking about our plans to sew when I am home for the holidays. I love the memories I have of us sewing together, talking about life, and laughing like crazy. It is as though as we are on the same page…..we “click”, which is why we are probably so close. I don’t think she will ever know how much she means to me or how much I appreciate all she has ever done.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Becky (Avart) Stafford

This week I finished my FIRST crocheted baby blanket and I plan to give it to my dear friend, Becky, for her cutie-pie, Brody. I must say that learning how to crochet was not as easy to do as I originally thought, and I am hopeful that Becky will keep in mind that her “gift” was my first attempt at learning my new craft……
This blog has the purpose of honoring the special people in my life who I feel I owe special thanks to. I definitely am in debt to Becky for the ongoing friendship she has offered me for a long, long time. Beck and I have been friends since the age of FIVE!!! We grew up together in a small town and have a special bond that has only grown stronger over time. We played volleyball together, sat by each other at Sunday school, spent the night at each other’s house whenever our parents would let us and still laugh when we talk about the night my dad teased her about excusing herself from the dinner table. Although we attended different high schools, we still were together on weekends. We suffered through the difficulties of teen break-ups and the giddiness of new romances. I have always been able to count on Becky to be there as a friend. She is loyal and fun and is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.
Our friendship grew even stronger during our college years at ISU. Our senior year we were roommates and had a blast! I’ll never forget the night we decided to take a break from partying and went to the movie theatre to see “Armageddon”. We cried for most of the ride home. The more we analyzed the movie, the more we cried, and finally we decided to never go see a movie together again. Later than night Becky knocked on my bedroom door to say something else about the movie and we cried again before laughing hysterically about how crazy we were acting! It was during this time that Becky met her future husband….Josh. I still remember him coming to pick her up for their first date. It was the most giddy I have ever seen her.
Although we don’t get to spend lots of time together anymore, I always look forward to a “date” with Becky. I will be forever grateful to her for the friendship that she has shown me during the “tough” times in my life and how she has stuck by me through thick and thin. She (and Josh) offered their home to me when I was trying to get settled in St. Louis, an offer that that came without any strings attached. She is the true definition of a friend and I am grateful to have her in my life.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

My best friend

My wonderful husband…..John Thomas Paruch. There is no way I can cram everything about this man into this small tribute. He treats me like a princess, and even calls me “PH”, which is short for Princess Heidi. He is the most exceptional human being I’ve ever known, and I still can’t believe I’m the lucky one who gets to claim him as my husband. From the moment I saw him, I have been in awe by his big, gorgeous, blue eyes. No matter how bad things get, I can look into those big blue eyes and be assured that everything is going to be okay. He is sweet and thoughtful and makes sure I know each day that I am loved and respected. John is genuine and real and selfless.
Although he is modest, he is the most intelligent person I know. He is a world of knowledge and makes learning new things fun. He always has a tidbit of information to share about the weather, insects, birds, plants, etc…. At home his nose is almost always in a book. He has the need to learn as much as he can, and is always trying to get his hands on something new to soak into that brain of his. He is definitely an “outside” of the box thinker. Actually, when I told him that he is good at thinking outside of the box, he commented, “what box? There is no box” There are no limits (or “box”) in his mind to what he can learn and explore.
John’s goal in life is to make the world a better place. He wants to make a difference, to see positive change occur as a result of his hard work. He does not care about prestige and the attention he often receives from being so exceptional. Many times, I have seen him downplay his accomplishments when he is recognized and he will slyly change the topic to complimenting someone else. It is amazing to witness how people are drawn to him. He is liked by all and has a way of putting others at ease. He lights up a room upon entering it and, before you know it….he is surrounded by individuals who he has touched in some way. He makes me proud and I know I am a better person because of him. He challenges me and does not let me take the easy way out. He constantly is building me up, telling me that I am the best, and that I can do anything I want to in life.
As we recently have moved from the comforts of our cozy little apartment in St. Louis, surrounded by family and friends, we have struggled in adjusting to a new country and way of life. Although John has had the added stress of starting medical school, he has gone out of his way to make sure that I am comfortable and secure here. He is on his way to becoming an incredible physician and the world is a much better place because of him.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My Daddio

I call him "daddio". He calls me "Ms. Staunkey". My dad. He is a true family man and he always puts his family first. He is intelligent, witty, creative and fun. He completes the crossword puzzle in the paper each morning, usually in less than 15 minutes. He is extremely generous and is always thinking of others. My dad is tough and determined. He believes in doing a job the right way and would offer the shirt off his back to someone in need. While I was growing up, my dad often worked nights, meaning that he would leave for work in the evening, and get home early the next day. I would wake up early, around 5AM, and he would share his tombstone pizza with me that he was eating for "dinner". One of the many ways he showed his daughter she was loved and to make sure we stayed close. He spent hours helping me with school projects, so that I would get an "A+". I was always proud to turn in work that paid attention to every detail and had a creative touch to it. In grade school, I had to collect and label leaves for a project. My project was the best in the class, with the first page being a typed poem about trees. (I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree.....). My dad taught us to love unconditionally and the importance of ALWAYS telling the truth.

No matter what our financial situation was, he always made sure we had exceptional holidays and super fun-filled family vacations. He would sacrifice things he wanted to make sure that everyone had gifts at Christmas and that all enjoyed an elegant dining experience. In an attempt to keep the ever-growing Danner family close, he has repeatedly offered his home as a place for the family to gather. Entertaining is expensive, yet he does so regularly, and I have never heard him say a word about it.

If my dad was here with us in Grand Cayman, life would be much easier! If there is problem, he solves it! Simple as that. He is the king of problem-solving across the board. When I need advice, he is the man I call. He is able to approach a problem objectively and develop efficient solutions. He listens whole-heartedly and is never quick to judge. He is fair and compassionate. He has instilled these values in myself and Eric and for that I am grateful, because I am a better person as a result of all his hard work.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Karen Angelina

That is what my dad calls my mom. He's right. She IS an angel, the most selfless, nurturing human being I've ever known. She has a heart of gold, an exteme amount of patience and the ability to soothe and calm like no one else. My mom has always taken her "motherhood" role very seriously. She went without new clothes and accessories and home improvements she wanted (and well deserved) for years as she dedicated herself to myself and brother (Eric). She worked out a way to make sure I could play volleyball, take weekly piano lessons and have only "good" tennis shoes for my little growing feet, all while she mixed and matched the same 3 outfits and 2 pairs of shoes for months at a time. She was up for nights on end as I lay awake coughing (an awful ailment I had for years), yet no complaints were made and her only concern was to make me as comfortable as possible. She would even make the horrible face with me as I swallowed that awful cough syrup recommended by my pediatrician and would have so many pillows stacked up in bed that I would be sitting upright (in hopes that it would ease that horrible cough). She has provided endless love and support, despite of the mistakes I've made along the way. She has always encouraged me to be the best that I can be and to never let fear get in the way of shooting for the stars. I am strong and persistent thanks to Karen Anne Danner.

In addition to being an incredible mother, she is an amazing pianist. She can sightread any piece of music placed in front of her and has awed many over the years with this ability. One of my favorite summers included the year that we were both working on our master's degrees and we stayed in my 1 bedroom apartment at Illinois State University. I think the summer consisted of studying and laughing. We were both enrolled in statistics, my course geared toward psychology, hers toward music. She would read aloud an excerpt from her notes that would make absolutely NO sense and we would roll in laughter as we tried to understand what seemed like a foreign language. My mother's laugh......I smile just thinking about it. Her laughter is contagious and she can find the humor in the worst of situations. Once she starts laughing....beware! It is common to lose control of most bodily functions. There have been countless times I've heard her laughing and before I know it, I am laughing hysterically too without any idea why. I know you all know what I'm talking about. Once, when I was in high school, we stood in line at "Subway" trying to decide what type of sandwich we wanted. We were greeted by an employee who did not speak very good English, and he asked us, "why or wee?" We both stared blankly back at him and he again asked, "why or wee?" I dared not look over at my her because it would all be over. It was too late...we laughed like crazy people the whole way home and for the rest of the evening, simply because it sounded hysterically funny to us when we were asked with an accent if we preferred "white or wheat" bread. Another time my cousin Courtney called after a family gathering (while I was living in St. Louis) in an attempt to tell me about a funny encounter with my mom. To this day I still have no idea what actually happened, except that "McDonald's" was involved. Courtney laughed so hard throughout the conversation that I couldn't understand what she was telling me. Of course, I, too, rolled in laughter without having any idea why. One other time...she and my grandma were road tripping down to visit me in St. Louis and they got lost. We got disconnected on cell phones and somehow their conversation ended up on my voicemail. I saved that message and listened to it countless times, because all I could hear was those two laughing insanely about missing a turn.

My mom has said something along these lines more times than I can count.....people will not remember what you said to them, but rather the way you made them feel. She strives to bring out the best in everyone, while giving a little extra to those in need. As a teacher she has touched many lives. The world is a better place because of my mother, Karen Angelina.


A FRIEND: A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts. a person whom one knows; an acquaintance. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.

These are the definitions I found for “friend”. Of course there exists a continuum that ranges from the mere acquaintance to the “soul-mate” kind and sometimes the same individual can shift to the left or right on the continuum at different times in life. As I journal each day of my experiences, I find myself often thinking of my friends and the many memories we share together. As I make new friends in a new country, I often talk about my dear friends back home, their qualities, jobs, families, and funny times shared together in the past. This gave me the idea for my very own “blog”. I can use it as a way to showcase my friends, the ones who are near and dear to my heart for so many reasons. As a counselor, I spent time helping people learn how to express their thoughts and feelings to others. In doing so, it helped me as well, as it was a reminder that people don’t always know what you are thinking. So, my blog has the purpose of expressing my gratitude to those in my circle of friendship. As I told John about my idea, he voiced the concern that I could cause hurt feelings due to who I chose to write about first. Just in case.....please note that there is no specific ORDER with regard to who I write about each day. Rather, I plan to write about what comes to mind.