Lewie's First Communion


The weekend before the tornado, Mother's Day Weekend to be exact, Lewie made his First Holy Communion.  This was a special day for us because it helped solidify his initiation into the Catholic Church, and he made his First Communion in the very same church that I did (thirty-six years ago).

Over the years, I've watched friends and family members stop going to church.  Even more, many of Lewie's classmates and friends are growing up without practicing any type of religion.  While I have been known to miss a few Sunday masses myself, I have continued to be an active member of our church because 1) it makes me feel part of a long-time family tradition, 2) it reminds me to follow the Ten Commandments, especially the most important rule of all: "to love thy neighbor," and 3) it keeps me spiritually connected and grounded.

Lewie and I have a routine every night.  Before we go to bed, we say one thing we're thankful for and we say a few prayers.  Sometimes we pray for sick relatives, sometimes we pray for safety, and sometimes we pray for larger global concerns.  Lewie has learned that God is not Amazon; we can't pray for something and expect it to arrive in a neat little package the next day.  However, he is learning that when life is difficult or scary, God is there to help us.  Rather than be fearful, I remind Little Lewie about the power of  Faith, Hope, and Love.  I remind him what it means to be a good person, and I show him how praying with intention (from the heart) can mean everything.

A highlight from Lewie's First Holy Communion was that he was asked to read the Responsorial Psalm, "I am the Bread of Life."  As he read, he was taught how to put his hand in the air to show the audience when it was time for us to speak.  He did such a great job that everyone, even the deacon, told him that he was "hired" to become a reader.  His response to everyone was the same: "I get the reading gene from my mom."  The reality is that I've personally been reading for St. Michael's Church since I was fourteen years old.  I was asked to read for my Confirmation, and then I was "hired" to read ever since.

Little Lewie standing with little cousin, Crystal.
Other highlights were watching the children bring "gifts" to the priest and seeing them make a circle on the altar to say the "Our Father."  In my mind, the ceremony had more meaning and more symbolism than what I remembered from my First Holy Communion.  It was refreshing to see how over the years, the Church has changed from a "fire and brimstone" mentality to one of more inclusion, love, and compassion.

At the end of the ceremony, we had some treats downstairs in the church basement and then took a few pictures.  Then, less than an hour later, we drove to a restaurant to celebrate with family.  We had a small celebration with less than 20 family members, but it was a nice moment.  We had good company, good food, and a good reason to celebrate. It was a proud moment of honoring tradition while teaching Lewie the importance of practicing faith, love, and compassion.

My mom with Little Lewie

Our proud moment at the restaurant.

Little Lewie and his three cousins, Sarah, Brooklynn, and Lily

Little Lewie and Aunty Missy

Little Lewie and "Ninny"

God Bless You, Little Lewie.

Tuesday's Tornado


I don't know what to say.  The whole experience is still a little surreal.  Each morning I wake up to birds chirping and everything sounding fine until I go outside and relive the destruction.

On Tuesday, at approximately 5:05 p.m., I shuddered at work as I watched dark green clouds fill the sky and the words "Tornado Warning" light up everyone's cell phone.  All my coworkers and I wondered if we should seek a safe place to hide as we saw strong winds, lightening, and hail burst from the clouds through the atrium glass window.  We were scheduled to begin an award ceremony in an hour, and we wondered if the award recipients and their families were now in jeopardy as they were most likely driving to our campus.

The storm ended about a half an hour later with little to no visible damage.  Those that drove and braved the storm had stories to tell about traffic and fallen trees, but we dusted ourselves off thinking that was the worst of it.

After the ceremony ended, I tried calling my mom only to learn that her landline was out of service.  I then called my husband to learn that he couldn't reach home.  Both sides of our road were blocked, and emergency crews gave us the bad news that no one would be able to get to their homes that night.  On the contrary, no one would be able to leave their homes that night either.

I panicked, but what could I do?  My mom left me a quick message with her cell phone to say that she and Little Lewie were okay, but after that message, she wasn't picking up the phone anymore.  I stayed over a coworker's house and attempted to drive home that morning.  Still no luck....

On Wednesday evening, reality hit.  The news reported that an F1 Tornado touched down in our town and then traveled another 9.5 miles, leaving behind a path of destruction.  The Tornado came ripping through our road, and trees and telephone poles either snapped like toothpicks or were uprooted like removing candles from a birthday cake.  The woods behind our house was destroyed.  Our trampoline and swing set took flight and then smashed.  Favorite trees in our yard came down.

Our driveway

Trees in our yard.

Trees that came down from across the street.

Our missing trampoline.

Remnants of our swing set and trampoline.

Trees from the woods by our garage.
When the emergency crews and construction vehicles finally allowed Lew and I to drive home, I couldn't help but cry over the war zone that was once our beautiful neighborhood.  There was car damage, house damage, and everything in-between.  Words can't explain how I felt when I was finally able to hug my mom and son.  They had lived through a tornado!  The storm I saw at work was nothing in comparison to what they had been through.  My mom said she heard what sounded like a freight train, and then she and my son immediately climbed into the closet underneath the stairs.  (We don't have a basement.)  The house shook, the storm windows blew into her bedroom, and her bedroom door kept on banging fiercely as now the wind and air pressure started popping out ceiling tiles in the kitchen.  It was the scariest five or six minutes of their lives, and as you can imagine, my son was beside himself--crying, shaking, and hyperventilating.  (He still doesn't want to fully talk about it.)

The following are pictures of our road  just a few houses down from us (after two full days of cleanup...)  Most of our town and surrounding towns look just like this.

Now that the cleanup has begun, I am both thankful and upset.  We are blessed because we are all safe, and our home was spared.  I am upset, however, because the cleanup will take many, many years before we can forget, and even then, there will still be a scarred landscape.  My son has now lived through a freak ice-storm, several blizzards, two hurricanes, and now a tornado in his nine years of life.  This is not normal.  Climate change is real, and I'm afraid for Little Lewie's future.  I wish climate change wasn't part of a political platform.  It's not a Democrat issue or a Republican one--it's a human one.  The human element in all of this cannot be ignored.

Our electricity is back up and school is scheduled to begin again on Monday, but more severe thunderstorms are scheduled for tomorrow.  I will do my best to comfort my little guy, and my mom and I might need a little comforting too.

The End to Private Roller Skating Lessons...


Since February of 2015 (at the age of 6), Lewie took roller skating lessons on Saturday mornings at Roller Magic.  In the beginning, lessons were every week, and Lewie started very slowly--barely moving his feet--right foot, then left foot.  In fact, the first few lessons were spent trying to help him coordinate his balance and learning how to get leg strength, so he could actually push and glide, rather than shuffle his feet.

Lewie taking his first lesson in 2015 at age six.

Over time (three years to be exact), Lewie learned how to do scissors and crossovers.  He could skate forwards while squatting and skate backwards.  He wasn't training to be a speed skater or to win some sort of dance routine.  The goal was to simply get him feeling comfortable on skates and to help him learn a few tricks in case he ever wanted to impress his friends (or we wanted to impress our friends).

When he started at six years-old, I never could have predicted how long this "era" would last.  Maybe it would last one year or maybe it would last ten.  From the start, Lewie loved his skate instructor, Ms. Christine, and his lessons became a combination of skate instruction and socializing.  (She was willing to listen to his Minecraft rantings, and so a friendship was born!)  Over time, Lewie talked to her about other things involving school, Cub Scouts, teachers, and friends, too.

Little Lewie and Ms. Christine at his last skate lesson.
When Ms. Christine notified us that she would not be giving private lessons beyond April, our hearts sank.  We had gotten used to our Saturday morning routine, and Lewie loved having the skating rink all to himself.  While sitting in the empty rink, watching him learn new tricks, I couldn't help feeling nostalgic every week.  Roller Magic is the same roller rink I went to during my childhood and high school years.  It was the place where I had my ten year birthday party, the place of my first real kiss, and later, the place where I had one of my first dates with my husband-to-be.

Thankfully, Roller Magic is going strong and not poised to close anytime soon.  While private lessons may have ended, we still have the chance to go to skate sessions, celebrate birthday parties, and even do fundraisers.  (We did one for the Cub Scouts back in March.)  I did place our name on a list should anyone else decide to offer lessons, but in the meantime, I'm sure we'll have no problem finding other Saturday morning activities.  Maybe Ms. Christine will come back some day; we'll wait for the next opportunity.

Our last skate session. Our sadness made it a low energy day.