Mad for…John

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs- jolted by every pebble in the road. (Henry Ward Beecher)

I love this old picture of John Berger with his two sons, Patrick and Thomas. Look at the baby faces!! This is about how old they were when I met them, and even though Patrick is now in college and Thomas is a Golden Eagle at Guerin Catholic High School, I still largely see these sweet faces in them when we cross paths.

John has coached two of my sons over the years– Drew and Zach– in baseball and football. People who volunteer their time to coach kids are often underappreciated, but not by the Thieme family. Those hours are a significant investment, and we are grateful! The guy is passionate about his sports, but he seems to me to be crazy for baseball! He likes to watch baseball, coach baseball and play baseball!!

We’ve had a great deal of fun over the years teasing John whenever the opportunity has arisen. Mostly, it’s just plain fun because John’s a joyful “people person” who doesn’t even try to hide his laughter at his own jokes (because he definitely thinks he’s hilarious). Usually, he’s not wrong. My friend, Janet Andriole, and I had an exceedingly good time questioning his masculinity every time we ended up at George’s Restaurant with him after a practice or game back in the Skiles Test Baseball years– because he LOVES their hummus. It was funny to us I suppose because it just seemed so incongruous for a guy’s guy like John Berger to order a hummus plate! He’s got a great sense of humor, so he shrugged us off with laughter!

John is a welcoming man who can always be counted on for a wide smile and a big hello hug. Those are my favorite kind of people!

In my son Drew’s senior year of high school, he decided to take up the sport of football. Coach Dilley decided he was a tight end. He was the only true tight end on the team that year and the tight ends coach was….John Berger! We cackled a lot around the dinner table that fall about how watching that duo (Drew and Coach Berger) do their thing was a lot like the blind leading the blind. They managed to make progress together, but more importantly, they had a fantastic time!

We never got to thank Coach Berger properly for the time he spent with Drew during the fall of 2017, or for the incredibly gracious words he wrote about our son to be shared at the awards banquet for the team. As the already emotional mom of a senior, the kindness brought tears to my eyes that night. So, Coach Berger, there’s no time like the present to set things straight! As you celebrate your birthday tomorrow, we want you to know that your cheerful and encouraging spirit has been enjoyed and appreciated by our clan many times over the years. We appreciate you for both your volume and your positivity, ha?! Thanks for all the smiles and the time. We think you are pretty terrific!

If you run into this guy tomorrow, be sure to wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and give him a big hug from the Thieme family! HAVE A GREAT BIRTHDAY, JOHN BERGER!!

Mad for…Agnes

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. (Marcus Garvey)

August 3, 2019–

Last fall, I went on a “bucket list” adventure to Italy with my mom and another mother daughter duo, Nancy Vanderkleed and Erin Ulrich. It was my first trip to Europe and I will never forget the experience. One of the reasons it turned out to be so memorable and meaningful was making the acquaintance of Agnes Crawford while we were in Rome. I absolutely LOVED Rome. The architecture, the art, the piazzas, the gelato…the crazy glorious churches. It was magical!

Agnes is a native of the UK who has lived in Rome for many years. My recollection is that she ended up in Rome because she married an Italian guy. She’s engaging and incredibly bright and articulate. I wish now that I had learned more about her. She speaks both English and Italian, which was completely awesome. Agnes gives tours for Understanding Rome and she has an educational background in architectural history, which made her particularly awesome as our guide.

Agnes met us outside the Colosseum on our first full day in Rome and she showed us around the architectural and historical wonder as well as a great deal of ancient Rome. We saw and learned about the history of the Roman Forum, as well as Palatine Hill. I wasn’t initially super excited about seeing some of this, however, Agnes was spectacular and I was drawn in. The next day she showed us around the Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. She’s pictured above speaking to us in the nave of St. Peter’s. Being the Jesus girl that I am, I’m not entirely sure what she told us at that moment, because I was in a bit of a stupor from the fact that I was inside St. Peter’s Basilica. I definitely needed more time there than we had!

Today, Agnes is celebrating her birthday. I meant to send her a note when we returned home to thank her for helping to make our trip extra special, but neglected to do it. Therefore, I wanted to reach out and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AGNES! You are great at what you do and I am grateful for your time and expertise! I hope your friends and family spoil you on your special day!!

If you are ever in Rome for a visit and want to arrange a private tour, I highly recommend Agnes. Check out http://www.understandingrome.com for more information!

Mad for…Luke

I meant to behave but there were too many other options.

August 2, 2019–

The kid is fairly docile the majority of the time, and sometimes, he can be a handful of ornery! Argumentative, articulate and athletic, this is a young man with a bright future in front of him. He’s a natural born salesman who has never met a stranger. Here’s the thing about Luke Wiese…he always makes me smile. We should never neglect to notice the importance of a person with this gift!

Luke loves to start trouble just to hear the conversation play out. It makes me laugh. He’s stubborn and combative, but in the most charming way imaginable. He’s anything but ordinary. He’s a talker, a force to be reckoned with, and a young man who should not be underestimated. In the Thieme house, we picture him as a lawyer or a future politician– or both! Luke is a kid who is comfortable speaking to people of all ages. He’s confident and incredibly intelligent. I don’t mean to disparage young people when I say this, but it’s true in my estimation that many young adults are just poor communicators. They are experts at texting and snap chat, but many can’t hold a conversation. In fact, many don’t realize that the “phone” part of the word “cellphone” means you can actually place a call and TALK to another human. If my son, Nick Fred, is on a phone call, I know with a fair amount of certainty that he’s speaking to either his grandfather or his friend Luke Wiese. He’s the last man born in 1997 who makes actual phone calls. Ha? I can’t help myself…I just really like him.

When I first noticed Luke, he was playing freshman basketball at Guerin Catholic on the same team as Nick. He was quick and cagey, a standout for his athleticism. He moved on from hoops and focused on tennis shortly after that and ended up playing tennis at Ball State before chronic shoulder injuries got the better of him. He’s now spending his summer studying for the LSAT in Washington DC, where he is a student at American University.

Luke turns 22 today. He’s pictured above at the left with friends (including our Nick) in our kitchen. He and my oldest son, Nick, have remained good buddies. They seem to enjoy a lot of the same things and spend an extraordinary amount of time in my presence arguing about super important things like their golf games and the Pacers, ha? As anxious as he sometimes is to be right, he’s even more loyal as a friend. He’s also a handsome kid with a winsome attitude who has never let his diabetes stop him for a second, and he’s got a fantastic sense of humor. There’s a lot to admire about this gifted young man.

As you celebrate your birthday today, I just wanted you to know that you are always welcome at the Thieme house, kiddo! It’s hard for me to admit it, but I miss you!! We happen to love all kinds– even crazy smart, right-fighting goofballs– over here. You make us giggle and we love what a great friend you are to Nick. You, young man are irreplaceable! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUKE! I hope your day is as fantastic as you!

Mad for…Grace

Life is not about the mistakes you’ve made. It’s about the lessons you’ve learned and the friends you’ve made along the way.

I made a new old friend in the last several days. Her name is Grace Hineman. Grace is the sunny and compassionate mom of 3 (Michael, Maddie and Lizzie) and wife to Mike. She runs Cups Coffee in downtown Indy and she likes golf a little. She’s an IU girl who went to Brebeuf, and I can’t help it that I like her all the same, ha?! I don’t know tons more yet about her little “isms” but I have a feeling I am going to learn. Let me explain “new old friend”. It seems important to me that you understand.

I’ve known Grace for a long time– nearly 20 years. I’ve heard lots of stories about her sweet family and I know all about the quality of her character and how she radiates positivity. I know she understands how to walk alongside others on their journey through this insanity we call life during the joys and the sorrows. She’s incredibly bright and cheerful. Some of this I have observed for myself from afar, but most of my knowledge comes from our pretty terrific mutual friend, Karen Volpe. Karen talked about Grace quite a bit as she was clearly crazy about her. Karen very often shared a recap of their latest adventure with me when the two of us were catching up– and always with a smile on her face. Their friendship was most certainly of God. It made my heart happy to know Karen had a Gracie Hineman in her corner!

In the last few days as our very dear mutual friend neared the end of her earthly life, Grace called me. We texted. We talked again. We made plans to get together. It became clear to me that while we had never previously been close, we both felt significant mutual respect and concern for one another. It was an easy fit. I didn’t have to wonder what kind of person Grace really is, because you see my friend Karen had already given me her seal of approval on Grace Hineman many years ago. Hugging her last night and again this morning felt so natural and I coped better with a tough couple days having seen her beautiful face. She felt much more like an old friend I love than a new friend I was just getting to know better. Therefore, I have declared that Grace is my new old friend and I really do love her. Sorry for your luck, Mrs. Hineman!!

Karen taught me about the importance of appreciating each day and about how relationships are what life is all about. She’d be SUPER thrilled to know that Grace and I have been laughing and telling stories about her together. Thanks, Grace, for being an amazing human. You are the real deal. Our journey continues…

Rest in peace, KPV.

Mad for…Lisa

A FRIEND LOVES AT ALL TIMES. (Proverbs 17:17)

July 31, 2019– About 17 years ago or so, my oldest son Nick started kindergarten at a nearby Catholic grade school called St. Louis de Montfort. In a matter of days, nearly all his updates from school were about a boy named “Christian” who he clearly thought was totally the coolest. A few weeks passed and there was a kids movie night/parents night out offered by the PTO. Shortly after I arrived to drop Nick off, we ran into Christian and his mom, Lisa. Before I even properly introduced myself, I blurted out something like, “Oh my gosh please tell me you’ve heard the name Nick at your house because my kid is clearly crazy about your son!” Those two boys will graduate from college next spring and are still the closest of friends, and I have them to thank for bringing me together with one of the greatest blessings of my life…my friend Lisa Houze.

Some folks enter our lives and make us smile a little bigger and laugh a little harder. Others encourage, pray, include and respect us. A rare gem will ask how we are and then wait to actually hear the answer, and occasionally an angel will appear that lifts us when we have trouble walking at all. Lisa has been all of those things for me.

We’ve raised our boys side by side. We’ve giggled, sunned, and cheered on countless teams…WAY too loudly. She’s looked me in the eye and delivered truth I need to hear but is hard to share, and I’ve done the same for her. We’ve prayed for each other– A LOT. She understands my strengths and weaknesses and still cherishes me for who I am and forgives me when I royally screw it up. Lisa is one of the most brilliant and articulate women I have ever encountered with the most dreadful case of FOMO.

Lisa is the wife to a handsome guy named Tim, as well as a UD grad, and the “Flyer” moniker fits her perfectly! This mama bear to 2 high-achieving boys is an athletic and fiercely competitive Louisville native who loves her some U of L football and hoops action, too. God knew what He was doing gifting her with boys, because all that comes in handy when your guys are hard core sports lovers! Christian and Malcolm are incredibly blessed to call her mom. She loves them to the very center of herself.

On a couples trip to Phoenix with Lisa and Tim several years ago, Lisa and I became obsessed with a book called “The 5 Love Languages”. We were having so much fun taking quizzes and diagnosing our mutual friends and family members (loudly and while drinking adult beverages on the pool deck) that other people started coming over wanting us to tell them what THEIR love language was. Our men came back from golf and were very underwhelmed when we tried to engage them in our activity! Ha?! It’s POSSIBLE that the wine-aided hilarity made us SEEM amazingly gifted and prophetic to each other…but not as much to sun weary, sober people? I’m not sure. I think my point in telling this story is to establish that it was then I learned that both of us have the same love language– WORDS OF AFFIRMATION, of course! It is SUPER helpful to have a dear friend that speaks this particular love language if you happens to be afflicted thusly. Let’s just say I keep her notes and re-read them when I start to think I am just the absolute worst kind of human.

Several years ago, Lisa shared that a co-worker described her as “charmingly abrasive” and I nearly fell on the floor laughing. He wasn’t wrong. Here’s the thing. My friend Lisa is also a big-hearted woman of grace and integrity. She loves the Lord and it shows by the way she is the face of Jesus for others, very definitely including yours truly.

Countless are the times Lisa has gone out of her way for me or one of my guys. Her hugs are the kind that hit you so hard it’s impossible to miss how much you matter. I’ve known Lisa a fairly long time, but there are others I’ve known longer. She’s someone who has walked into my life and grabbed a chair as if to say, “I’m here for you.” Then, she’s backed it up– again and again– by being oxygen when life knocked the wind out of me.

Today is Lisa’s 50th birthday. Did I mention her love language is words of affirmation? I have no doubt she was aware this post was coming today. I hope she hears in it just how much she is cherished and appreciated. I love you beyond what I can express, my dear friend, but I sure as heck tried. HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY, LISA!!

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure. (Sirach 6:14)

Mad for…Xavier

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. (Amelia Earhart)

July 30, 2019– Xavier Plascencia (pictured at the center of the photo above) is the sort of guy who does kind things because of who he is, not because he’s keeping score. He’s soft and kind hearted. He came into my life via my “adopted” big brother, Ted Stumpf, so to me, he feels like family. Genuine and bright, Xavier is a man who spreads sunshine around! We in the Thieme clan feel very fortunate to call him a dear friend!

Ted and Xavier live in California, therefore our sightings are not as frequent as we’d like. So, when my boys were a little smaller, they would get excited when they knew Xavier was going to be around, because they knew they would have a chance to experience some of his magic! He always had a card trick or two ready to show them and they were enamored. They may not admit it, but at least a couple of them are still kind of impressed with his card tricks! I imagine he underestimates the impact he has had on lots of little cuties he has entertained with his attention and spirit full of fun over the years. Kids, more than anyone, can spot love and authenticity when they see it!

Xavier works in the wine industry in Napa, California. He’s a genius with his wine knowledge and in the kitchen. I admit to a completely inappropriate relationship with every batch of salsa he’s ever presented to me. I just can’t even begin to do his culinary skills justice. In fact, when we recently discussed our summer 2020 plans to celebrate my mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary with a big group trip to Hilton Head, there was pretty intense interest from ALL the members of our household about whether he’d be able to attend! Let’s just say the way to the hearts of the Thieme guys is definitely through their stomachs, ha?!

The last time Xavi was here at the house was around Thanksgiving. The memory of us lugging chairs, tables and accessories to all new locations while we giggled from (just the perfect amount) of California wine is a memory that makes me smile. When he left, my kinda crummy kitchen table had been relocated and the “redesign” of the place looked pretty darn good, I thought. We also ordered a big area rug to spruce up the family room. My husband struggles with change sometimes, therefore the new d├ęcor didn’t take right away…but I’m crediting Xavi and Ted with the upgrade I recently got, because they planted the seed! Maybe Tom could just see the handwriting was on the wall after that? I’m not sure. Either way, I have a new kitchen table and chairs now, fellas! You’re gonna love the renovations you inspired!

Today is Xavier’s birthday, and I just wanted to give him a shout out! He’s just a good person with a totally kind heart and he deserves to be celebrated! We love you, Xavi!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Mad for…Sandy

A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition. (William Arthur Ward)

July 29, 2019– It seems like a quirky choice for me to write about Sandy Scheper today considering that the birthday belongs to her pretty incredible husband, Marshall, on this day. Happy Birthday to Marshall!! However, I’ve already honored Marshall in my little “Mad for 2019” adventure, and when his name popped up this morning, I immediately thought…you know who is AWESOME? Marshall’s wife, Sandy!! I consider those interior light bulb moments to be gifts from the Holy Spirit, so as we begin the week, I’d like to tell you about my cheerful friend, Sandy! She’s pictured here with Marshall (center) and her son (Vincent) on the right.

Sandy owns one of the most naturally cheerful dispositions of anyone I have ever met. I got to know her a bit many years ago when her son Vincent played CYO basketball at St. Louis de Montfort with my son, Drew. I continue to see her fairly regularly as she happens to work at Regions Bank, where we have our accounts. I drive out of my way to bank at the branch she works at, because she and her crew of co-workers are phenomenal humans. Sandy seems determined to be cheerful and happy and I think she rubs off on them! She’s the kind of woman that creates her own sunshine.

Easy laughter, a bright smile and a well-developed sense of humor are her hallmark characteristics. Sandy is the woman who never gets frustrated with me when I literally NEVER know my account number. She says the positive thing, graciously. In short, she just has a generous and selfless spirit. I want to be that woman too– the one that brings her own sunshine. Every single time I see Sandy, I am reminded that I need to work on it!!

THANK YOU, SANDY SCHEPER, for being a wonderful example to the rest of us about how important it is to treat others kindly and what it means to the people around you to be someone who adds light to the day by the way we live our everyday lives! When I grow up, I want to be like you! Ha?

“A sunny disposition is worth more than fortune. Young people should know that it can be cultivated; that the mind, like the body can be moved from the shade into sunshine.” (Andrew Carnegie)