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We Remember

The Flag flutters in the breeze and we Remember.
A trumpet plays its mournful tune across a silent field and we Remember.
A baby wails, while a mother and wife stoically weep and we Remember.
Men and women risk their lives crossing a street in foreign lands and we Remember.
Remember that today is not just the end of a three-day weekend.
Remember that today is not just an opportunity to hit the beach or grill outside.
Remember.
Remember that for over two hundred years Americans have fought on our soil and foreign soil to keep people free from tyranny.
Today we Remember that there is hardly a family in our country which has not had a son, husband, brother, father, uncle, aunt, mother, sister, wife or daughter serve in the military.
Today we Remember that some of these service men and women died while performing their duties.
We Remember they died believing they were serving a noble ideal and protecting those they hold dear at home.
We Remember all those — equine, canine and civilian — who struggle to serve and protect the soldiers who are in service to their country.
We Remember, from watching on television or videos, the screeching brakes of the plane as it stops on the airport tarmac and the synchronized movements of the detail as it removes each flag draped coffin.
Today we Remember those who have fought and died for us as the American Flag flutters in the breeze.
Today we Remember as communities, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legions and others, listen to a mournful trumpet playing Taps.
Today we Remember as a baby wails, a wife weeps and a mother’s heart breaks for those will no longer share with them a three-day weekend or summer vacation.
Today we Remember and thank all of those who are gone but not forgotten.
WE REMEMBER.

 

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The smile of success

I always wanted to be successful in my life but I never thought a small success of my son’s would be the most important one to me thus far in my life. But two weeks or so ago a simple elementary academic awards program that is exactly what happened.
In the past, particularly last year, I went to those awards and my heart knew it wasn’t going to be good. I silently cried when Crawford got no academic award. I watched him look around at all his friends that got at least one but he was a trooper and just went with it. In the end, he got a ribbon for box top collection, which seemed to make him happy but still my heart was breaking.
He was working so hard. He was doing the STEP program which is an individualized physical literacy program used by schools to impact on academic performance, pupil behavior, resilience, physical development, well-being and self-esteem. He was getting extra help from his teachers and Mrs. Kim. Mrs. Leah was giving him dyslexic therapy and I was at home every night trying to do my part to reinforce what was learned at school. But at that time it still wasn’t enough. Mrs. Conrad said that Crawford now needed the gift of time and she was right.
Summer came and went and when school started back we did all of the extras for Crawford that he was doing at the end of the year before. This time it was all starting to pay off. With his hard work in Dyslexic therapy over the summer, apparently he was more ready to start school than he had ever been.
He started making fabulous grades. He was doing homework on his own at home. His confidence seemed to increase a little everyday, not just in class but socially as well. I couldn’t believe it he was excelling and enjoying it all at the same time.
I could just hug every teacher he has had because all in their special way they helped Crawford and his mama find the exact tools that my son needed to continue his education AND do well. They will never know truly how much I appreciate them.
So fast forwarding to this year’s awards ceremony. My mama, David and I went but I was filled with anxiety. What this child has wanted more and worked hard towards was to receive a medal in something. Medals are given out for academic excellence so I was sitting on pins and needles to see how it all played out.
As the program went on Crawford got a medal for Headmaster’s List for the entire year and the pins and needles became ants in my pants because I was so proud and I couldn’t wait to hug him. I could have walked out then and been perfectly happy but my baby had won other things too. He got a second medal for highest average in Math. Wow! Then he got a certificate and then another and before I knew it he had four or five. I was too proud!
Crawford deserved his moment in the sun. After the assembly was over we walked down to congratulate him. He was so excited that he forgot himself and gave me a hug. Now days hugging your mama isn’t cool especially around your friends.
He didn’t want me to leave. He kept finding things for me to help him with. I would like to believe that somewhere down deep he just wanted to share the whole experience but it was his blaze of glory because he was the one who did all the work.
That day the smile on my face was the award of all awards. It was an accomplishment that I will treasure forever even though it was his. All of the days and nights fretting about how he was going to do in school haven’t come to a complete end but they can relax because I know that he’s got this and he showed himself and the world.  

Caroline Laster is an employee of The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Trading this and that for tea

There have been a lot of questions going on in my house from Crawford these days. He says he needs to know how things were back in “the olden days.” You know mama, “back when you were a kid,” he would go on and explain.
My ears blocked out the rest of the conversation because my head started to swirl since I as far as I know I never went to school with a dinosaur or a caveman. So when did the 1970s and 1980s become the olden days.
While I was being thoroughly disgusted by the statement my child was making, so many things bounced around in my head.
Who remembers that the only remote control anybody had was a kid? Mama would tell me to get up to change the channel on the television. Always the adult trumped the kid in what channel that TV was on.
Who remembers actually watching the television as a family? We would look forward to certain programs that we all watched together. It was an event at home not a distraction we used to run from everybody else.
Who remembers when Saturday mornings where sacred because cartoons came on every station until around lunchtime? It was our treat for the week. There weren’t cartoons on all the time so eyeballs opened up early to be able to catch your favorite shows. I watched from the time Scooby Doo began until the black and white Tarzan show was finished. That was my ritual.
This was an awesome thing too for parents because they could sleep late while the kids were all in the den watching TV with a bowl of cereal.
Who remembers telephones that were attached to the wall and had rotary dials so it took a little work to make a phone call? There wasn’t any privacy when talking to your friends and there was usually a time limit or at least a mama yelling at you that you had been on it long enough. I was certainly glad for call waiting when it came out.
How about remembering when we played outside after school and on the weekends until we just HAD to go home? We didn’t really want to go home because there was more to do with our buddies. We rode bikes, skated, played in the water and sang in our tree house. The girls in the neighborhood would even play baseball and kickball with all the boys. It wasn’t a girl-boy thing ... it was being a kid thing.
Memories of a teen, did you rub baby oil on your skin and lemon juice in your hair? We all did it in the summer. We all ended up blistered and the blondes just got blonder. This brunette ended up a bright redhead, which really didn’t flatter the blue eyeliner and metal braces I was sporting. I couldn’t have won a beauty pageant if I had paid someone.
And talking about makeup, oooooh weee!....if the blue eyeliner wasn’t enough, the makeup was equally as heavy and the hair was fluffy, teased, permed and big. Clothes were neon and adorned with puffs and bows. The 1980s theme was the bigger and more colorful the better.
Did your Mama dress you up to go shopping like it was an event? I couldnt wait to wear my cute clothes to go somewhere.
That idea has fallen a long way down, now days when you go shopping you see people in everything from swimming suits to pajamas. When I was a kid we even dressed up to go to the doctor. It didn’t matter how bad you felt, mama made sure your clothes were cute.
Do you remember, when you were little and you stood up in the front seat while your mama was driving? Now days you would get a ticket and buried in the backyard from public ridicule. Sometimes in the bigger cars we would sit down on the hump in the front. Tara and I loved the hump so we would fight over it. It was just the way the world was “back then.”
Even winning a simple T-ball game is diiferent than it used to be. You would leave Bear Pen Park in the back of someone’s pickup after winning. The team would chant and cheer all the way to McDonald’s to eat dinner. We thought we had really done something by winning that game. Little did we know that we just gave our mama’s a reason not to cook that particular night.
We used to take time to read the newspaper or magazine. We used to listen to the Top 40 with Casey Kasem on a slow Sunday afternoon. We used to visit one another even if it was for just a few minutes. We took our time shopping even for groceries. Times then seemed slower. Maybe it was because I remember it through the eyes of a child.
It would be nice to sometimes have that back instead of the constant movement of our days from work, kids and life. I could put down my phone and relax with a glass of sweet tea while listening to the radio instead of rushing here and there to do this and that.

Caroline Laster is an employee of The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Simon says be as excited as a pre-schooler

Graduations are happening almost every single weekend during the month of May.
I'm seeing valedictorians announced, photos of caps thrown in the air, and college bound signs on cars.
I love covering graduations but my most favorite is the Bolivar County Head Start Graduation.
From the moment I step near those busses, I can feel the excitement from these tiny graduates. Absolutely dressed to the nines, if you ask these kids if they are excited, expect to get screamed at.
YES! I'M GOING TO KINDERGARTEN! I AM A GRADUATE!!
I met one little boy that told me he learned all of the math he needed and he was ready for big school.
I had another little girl say she loved to learn about birds and things that are outside.
I stopped to play Simon Says with them for a moment as the teachers got the rest of their classes off of the bus and watched the girls twirl their fluffy dresses and the boys stomp their feet to admire their shiny shoes.
Simon says jump.
Simon says grin.
Simon says twirl.
Simon says look at the birds.
Simon says everyone says "graduate!"
As I took their photos and talked with them about what they looked forward to most I was struck at their excitement of all of the possibilities in front of them.
There was absolutely no fear.
I think back to my own graduation, and the thoughts running through my head were "get me out of here."
Then I moved two states away and was terrified when my brother finally left after having unpacked my dorm room. There was no excitement. There was more "get me out of here!"
When do we lose that fearless excitement for the things in front of us?
Not a single one of these kids said, "I'm excited but I know those textbook prices are a doozy."
They faced this new challenge with nothing but delight. They screamed, giggled, and jumped in the air as their teachers attempted to line them up before walking on stage.
I will even danger to assume that more people attend this graduation than any other graduation in Bolivar County.
Parents have an excitement for their children and even put their faces on a T-shirt so everyone knows who their pre-school graduate is.
Y'all I can't even begin to express how excited I am to wear my child's face on a T-shirt and share in that excitement with her.
As we go into the summer months, I plan to challenge myself to try to do something that excites me as much as those tiny graduates.
Whether it's trying something new or going back to something I once enjoyed, I want to do something that should cause a bit of fear, but instead choose excitement.
I want to look at the birds and know all the maths so I'm ready for whatever is coming next.
Simon says get excited.
Simon says try something new.
Simon says don’t be afraid.

Courtney Warren is an employee of The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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My shining Christmas present

My plan was to wait and write a column about Crawford’s progress with reading and school in the spring but my excitement has just got me too anxious to wait.

Those who may not know, Crawford was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD several years ago. Our journey has been long, painful and frustrating but we are finally on the other side of the rugged mountain.

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The gift of family

A church children’s program can somehow always put a different spin on what is going on around me. Maybe it is seeing things through the eyes of a child or because it brings the point of the whole holiday home right to your heart.
The kids dress up, sing and follow the story of Jesus’ birth. That is the reason we do all we do this season and it puts my heart on my family.
Family ... it is something we take for granted but it is something a lot of us have. We don’t just have one family; most of us have many families in our lives if we think about it.
I have my personal family, and I love mine more than anything. I have the best Mama, the greatest husband and my miracle baby. I have aunts, uncles and cousins that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
But, I have more families in my life. They all are important to me and have made me who I am today.
I have my childhood friends who I don’t see a lot but it feels like we just pick up from where we left off when I do see them. They know my past and are still my friend despite anything they may know about from when I was a kid. They helped make those skeletons in my closet and certainly don’t judge.
My church family is equally important. Most of these people have watched me grow up or have grown up with me. We have all been through the church changes, funerals, holidays and babies. It is something about a bond you have with folks that you worship God with every week. We are all there as human beings who are flawed and need forgiveness for one thing or another. Hopefully we all find the peace we need to continue on through our lifetime journey.
Crawford has given me another family. His school is a wonderful family. The administrators, teachers and staff are all a great source of friendship and caring especially for Crawford. I myself have made friends with many mothers who respect those who educate our children. We all can talk about what is going on and help each other out when someone needs it. We all want our children to be the best they can be.
Still on the school front, this year I have made another family with my fellow officers of the Patron’s League. We have all learned together about the way we need to support our school. We brainstorm together and come up with ways we can help but most of all we have fun. We do have fun even if our kids are in different levels of school because we support one goal. It shows our children the importance of volunteerism.
I wouldn’t trade my work family for anything. We laugh and cry together. We help each other out and we love each other’s kids. We know each other’s families. We spend so much time together that we all blend together. Our strengths and weaknesses balance out to where we are a great team. Most of The Bolivar Commercial is so much more than coworkers ... they are friends and some are like my siblings. We are a fun and quirky group.
While thinking about all these families that I have and some that are in my past, I am thankful for each and every one of them. This Christmas time we should reach out to each other. Think of those who have lost family or those who have sick ones. Remember the elderly who in some cases don’t have anyone to bring them joy in this time of year. Try to help a hungry child or a homeless person. These people need someone ... someone just to make them feel like they are important just because they are a part of our human race.

 

Caroline Laster is an employee of The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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