What’s a Moppy?

Her name was Dorothy Footer.

Her friends called her Dottie.

To me, she was Moppy.

Since I was the first grandchild born in my family, the naming of the grandparents was a hot topic of discussion while I was in utero.  As the story goes, everyone was sitting around the dinner table when my grandfather shared that he wanted to be called Poppy.  Without missing a beat, my grandmother piped in with “So what does that make me, a Moppy?”

And it stuck…..

I was one of eight grandchildren fortunate enough to know exactly what a Moppy was.  But to the rest of the world, that name left them wondering.  Point in case, my younger cousin was sharing with her kindergarten classmate that her Moppy was coming to school the next day for Grandparent’s Day, to which her friend asked “What’s a Moppy?”

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Today is the 18th anniversary of my Moppy’s passing.  She died of a broken heart, just 6 months after losing her lifelong partner, my Poppy.  What better way to honor and remember her than to answer the question…..

What’s a Moppy?

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1992 – Moppy & Poppy dancing at my wedding

My Moppy was the most distinguished, elegant, classy woman I’ve ever known.  And yet she was NOT pretentious or arrogant.  She was warm and friendly, inviting you in with both her eyes and her smile.

As refined as she was, she embraced being a Moppy with every cell in her body.  I think she actually loved her given grandmother name because it emphasized how unique and special she was.

Moppy was athletic, holding her own equally as well with a tennis racket or a golf club.  One of my fondest childhood memories was sharing time with her on the golf cart, giggling and eating chocolate together as we traveled from hole to hole.

Her competitive nature was expressed off the playing field as well, simply by giving her a deck of cards or a backgammon board.  You can learn a lot about a person by playing a strategic game with them.  One of the first things I discovered was just how smart my Moppy was!

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Moppy LOVED sweets!  As thin and as fit as she was, she always had a stash of goodies she would share!  Hershey kisses, peppermint patties and space bars.  In the summer, we would enjoy some Moppy-juice, which was her root beer and milk concoction that tasted much like a root beer float.

Moppy was generous.  We didn’t have much money growing up, which was especially difficult during my teenage years as I tried to fit in.  But once a year I would feel like a princess when Moppy would take me on a shopping spree to Bloomingdales.

My Moppy certainly faced her share of adversity, challenges and life obstacles.  But with grace and poise, she always guarded and protected her role as Moppy, even if it meant wearing a mask of  joy when she might have been feeling less than joyful!

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Moppy was funny!  One of our silliest moments together was shortly after I graduated from college.  I was 20-something and she was 60-something, but there we stood at the back of a local market, in a dark little hallway, playing Pac-Man together.  We were laughing so hard we attracted the attention of other shoppers.  I can’t recall if our laughter was based on the simple fact that we were actually playing Pac-Man together, or if it was because we were each seriously competing to win this silly video game.  What I DO remember, as if it were yesterday, was the pure joy we shared in that experience.

My Moppy was selfless.  She was the wife of an extraordinary, accomplished and well loved man.  Given the era she lived in, she fully accepted the role of his wife, which over the years meant she put their family and him first, before her wants, needs and desires.  Had she lived in a different time, I know she would have impacted the world with her awesomeness!

moppyLooking back, some of the most special times I had with Moppy were when we were alone, just the two of us…..when I didn’t have to share her with anyone….when we got lost in the moment, together.

I am grateful for the 30 years we shared.

Everyone should be lucky enough to have a Moppy in their life!

with Joy & Gratitude,

Serving for a Lifetime….

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As a parent, I believed I was raising my boys to understand the concept of service, and of serving others.  Charity and community service have been a part of our family’s vocabulary and lifestyle since the boys were toddlers.  Over the years we’ve donated money, canned food, and gently used clothing and toys to a wide variety of organizations and individuals in need.  Since the age of eleven, both boys have performed 30-60 hours of community service annually.

But I just had a reality check!

What I’ve been doing is teaching them the politically correct way of making a difference.  I’ve been unintentionally supporting the idea of service without sacrifice.

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Our donations of money, food and material items have been almost effortless.  We give away the amount of something that we determine is our excess, so it doesn’t impact our daily lives.  The time spent volunteering typically falls in the genre of ‘feel good’ community service such as walking in the Relay for Life, handing out water bottles at the Operation Smile 5K race or being a junior counselor at a camp for children with autism.

But I recently witnessed true service!  The type of service to others that is so big, I’m not sure I can fully comprehend it.  Service that requires unimaginable sacrifice.

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I first met my friend Amanda about 2 1/2 years ago.  She is married to Jason, a great guy who serves his country in the military.  They have two beautiful blond haired children, a son Jadon, and their daughter Adah.  Shortly after we met, Jason received orders to serve on a base overseas, so the entire family packed up and moved to Italy.

They encountered obstacles and challenges greater than anything my family has experienced!  Not only was their family facing the culture shock of relocating to a foreign country, but Amanda launched a home based business while continuing to home school both of her children.

I was already inspired by Amanda!  She was a full time stay at home mom, educating her children, running a successful business, staying committed to her health and fitness and supporting her husband’s role in the military.  But she wasn’t done yet…..

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In early June, Amanda and her family traveled to Uganda to adopt THREE siblings!

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Doing what kids do – enjoying popsicles!
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Their family of 4 became a family of 7 overnight!

The newly formed family spent a few weeks together in Uganda before Jason had to return to Italy.  In mid July, Amanda flew with her 5 children to the United States to complete the adoption process.  Acting as a single parent, she traveled with her clan from Washington to Indiana to Virginia.  It will be mid October before they can return to Italy and reunite the entire family of 7!

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The magnitude of what Amanda and her family had done didn’t hit me until earlier this week when I had the privilege of spending some time with them.  I was moved to tears as I stepped out of my car and realized I was just seconds away from meeting all 5 of Amanda’s kids for the first time.  Two children whose lives would be forever changed by opening their hearts to three new siblings, whose lives were being saved.

I sat in awe…..watching all 5 children living their new normal.

My mind was overflowing with questions.  They were simple questions at first, inquiring about food, toy preferences and the children’s ability to communicate.  But that quickly progressed to asking about their fears, things they missed from home, and what cultural differences they were encountering.

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Mama Bear with her clan of FIVE!

I sat in awe…..asking question after question.

It was my attempt to figure out how this family could choose to make such a drastic decision that would change the course of all 7 of their lives forever.  Each of us faces challenges in our lives.  Things happen to us…..and we get to choose how to react to them.

But most people do not choose to alter their circumstances, their entire lives, for such a selfless reason.

Days later I still sit in awe!  Shaking my head even as I write this, because I can’t fathom that level of sacrifice.

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When we contribute to others, we always receive a gift greater than the one we gave.  Theirs isn’t just service in the moment, service for a few hours or even a whole weekend.  Theirs is service for a lifetime!  I trust the gifts they experience in return will last throughout their lifetime.

This experience will forever change my interpretation of charity, community service and service to mankind as a whole.  Service looks different for each of us.  I’m certainly not saying that everyone should adopt a child (or 3).  What I am suggesting, is when we choose to serve, we stretch ourselves outside our comfort zone and serve with sacrifice.

with Joy & Gratitude,

Are you ready for some football?

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There are things in our life that trigger a flood of good memories, that make us feel giddy with excitement, that we look forward to with utter anticipation.  Do you know what I’m talking about?  That something that seems inconsequential, yet holds so much meaning in our life.

It may be a holiday, a particular food, a family tradition, a time of year……

Mine something is FOOTBALL!  I know, it sounds crazy, right?

Sure, it’s just a game.  A mighty violent and aggressive game at that!  But I have a long and evolving history with the game of football.  No – I wasn’t one of those girls that learned to love the game on the field, playing flag football with a team full of boys.  Although looking back, that would have been FUN!

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My football story began in the living room.  My Dad was very active on the weekends, always running errands or working on odd jobs around the house.  But on Sunday afternoons in the Fall, he would settle into his leather chair and I would join him in the living room for a few hours of football.  I had no idea what I was watching.  All I saw was two groups of colorfully dressed men diving into a big pile.  The fact that I didn’t understand the game was irrelevant, I was just happy to be hanging out with my Dad.

It wasn’t until college that I began to really understand the game of football.  My college roommates were die-hard fans that perpetuated my childhood tradition of hanging out in the living room on Sunday afternoons to watch football.  Their passion and enthusiasm for the game fueled my desire to not just watch it, but to understand it.  I have to credit them with teaching me the game of football….and thank them for their patience in putting up with me constantly asking questions while they were trying to enjoy the game.

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After college I moved to Washington, DC, and was fortunate to be living closer to my  grandparents, my aunt, uncle and cousins….and the Redskins.  My extended family was passionate about football, and the Redskins in particular, so my Sunday afternoon football watching tradition continued!  Most of the time we watched from the living room, but thanks to my Poppy having Redskin tickets, I was give the opportunity to be a fan in the stands as well!  The energy and excitement of watching the game in person deepened my attachment to the sport.

Then I met my guy.  Little did either of us know when we first met, how much the other loved football…..or how integral football would become in our lives.

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I already loved the NFL, but my guy exposed me to a whole new world of college football.  Our courtship included attending ALL of the University of Virginia’s home football games, as well as many of the away games.  The one adjustment I had to make was that coming from the north, football attire consisted of jeans and a sweatshirt.  Apparently, that was not how it was done in the south.  So I quickly learned to watch football in a sundress and sandals.

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Both of our boys attended their first football games while in utero.  They’ve been raised, almost cult like, to be football fans.  Although they have the freedom to cheer on any team of their choice, it’s no surprise that they’ve followed in their parent’s footsteps and gladly cheer for UVA and the REDSKINS.

The boy’s football experience wasn’t confined to being a fan.   They both played a combination of flag football, youth tackle and middle school football.  During this time, my guy took his love for football to a deeper level, coaching the boys through their football journeys.  Together as a family, we experienced the highs of a city championship along with the lows of repeated injuries.

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Ben – white & red uniform #25

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Pete – red & white uniform #21

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Coach and player ON the field…..father and son OFF the field.

Over the years, the boys narrowed down their sport of choice to something other than football.  On the flip side, my guy discovered both his passion and his purpose as a football coach.  He has been coaching middle school football for the past 3 seasons, not for his children, but for a team full of boys that need a positive male role model, a mentor and the opportunity to learn character, teamwork and trust…..both on and off the field.

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Football – it’s a family thing! Sporting a combination of attire from our 2 favorite teams!

I used to think I loved football because it signified the start of Fall, my all time favorite season.  But I’ve realized it goes so much deeper than that.  Yes, I AM a die-hard football fan, who on occasion has sat in my living room, all by myself, watching a game.  But my real love for football grew from sharing the game with people I love.

For many, it’s just a game, inconsequential in the scope of life.  Yet it’s my trigger….that thing that makes me feel giddy with excitement, that I look forward to with utter anticipation.  For me, it’s so much more than just a game!

I know I’m not the only football fan out there!  Go ahead – shout out YOUR team!  What’s your favorite thing about football?  If it’s NOT football, what feel good trigger do you have?

with Joy & Gratitude,