It’s All In The Details

When Kevin was three years old and attending preschool he was a die-hard Toy Story fan. I mean, he watched Toy Story over and over again, owned all of the action figures and talked about it incessantly. Often when the phone rang, I answered it to find yet another salesperson on the line. I would hear Kevin’s tiny voice on the other extension. While Kevin was babbling on about Buzz Lightyear, I would quietly hang up my extension and laugh to myself. After repeatedly asking to speak to an adult, to no avail, the salesperson would abruptly hang up. It didn’t take too many sales calls for Kevin to believe that these calls were for him and for me to realize that I had my own personal call-screener.

Of all the Toy Story characters, Buzz Lightyear was by far Kevin’s favorite…and why wouldn’t he be? I mean, Buzz Lightyear is cool, he is a toy space ranger and he believes that he could do anything that the “real” Buzz Lightyear in the actual movie could do…like fly and shoot lasers. Buzz Lightyear is a leader who is brave and has courage. He believes that following the rules is the way people should live. Most of all, Buzz believes in himself. Not a bad role model.

The morning of Kevin’s fourth birthday he woke to a giant painted, wooden Buzz Lightyear sign on the front lawn, that I had order for the occasion. It read “Happy 4th Birthday Kevin!” We went outside and I took some photos of Kevin standing with the sign, imitating Buzz’s position, both hands on hips. I was elated and proud of myself for renting the sign and making Kevin’s birthday special. (Add good mom props here).

It wasn’t until we went back inside that I realized that Kevin wasn’t so happy.

Me: “So buddy, do you like the sign?

Kevin: “Not really.”

Me: “Not really???  ($$$ Ugh!)

Kevin: “No.”

Me: “Why not? You have Buzz Lightyear on your front lawn?”

Kevin: (looking sad) “It’s just the colors are all wrong.”

Me: “What do you mean wrong?”

Kevin: “Well, first of all, his waist is supposed to black. The buttons on his chest are blue, green, red…

As Kevin went on, I grabbed a toy Buzz Lightyear from a nearby chair and ran to look out at the lawn sign through the front door. I’ll be damned, the kid is right.

So, what did I do? Being that this was my first-born son who was obviously upset on his 4th birthday…I did what any other red-blooded, doting, well-intentioned, frantic mother of an unhappy four-year old on his birthday, would…I called the lawn sign company. Immediately. Then I put Kevin right on the phone.

I stood in amazement (staring at the toy Buzz Lightyear in my hand) while four-year old Kevin perfectly described every detail and every color of Buzz Lightyear’s suit to the lawn sign man on the other end of the phone.

Kevin: “He wants to talk to you, Mommy.”

Lawn Sign Man: (seeming a bit nervous and certainly blown away by his conversation with a four-year old) “Hi ma’am. I don’t even know what to say. We never had a complaint like this before. I think our artist painted that sign using a Disney Burger King bag as a guide. I guess Burger King only prints their kid’s meal bags using a few colors.”

Me: (Speaking as if this is the most unjust thing I had ever experienced) “Well, I just wanted to make you aware that the colors are not right so this doesn’t happen to another child again.)

Lawn Sign Man: “I am so sorry. I’ll take care of it right away and I’ll be sure to check the authenticity of our other signs. By the way, that’s some kid that ya got there.”

Me: “I appreciate it and thank you, I know.”

In retrospect, it’s a funny story now. Especially my own reaction being what it was. If this situation had happened with my third kid, I would have been like, “Just shut up and have a cookie.”

Yet, I think that Kevin was onto something, there’s a lesson in here for all of us. It is all in the details…they matter more than you think. If you stop and pay attention to the details, in your work, your relationships and in your life, it will show in the big picture.

I’ll leave you with this quote by Sanford I. Wiell

Details create the big picture. - Sanford I. Weill

To infinity and beyond,

Erin Cooper Reed





Ten Things It Took Me 50 Years To Figure Out…

So today is my 50th birthday. Fifty. Holy shit! I’d certainly rather be 25 twice and I’m pretty sure that in my mind I’m infinitely 23…but here I am 50. So what has all this time here on earth taught me and how am I a better woman than I was at 23 or 25? If I had to break it down into just ten things, I’d have to go with the following insights.

  1. Life is a roller coaster   Be sure to fasten your seat belt and keep your hands in the cart at all times because as sure as there’s an up, there’s going to be a down. Don’t panic, hold on tight around the sharp curves and enjoy the ride. Everything always works out in the long run. 
  2. Choose your battles   Some things just aren’t worth the drain that they cause on your energy and time. It isn’t always important to be right. Respect that everyone is different with their own set of ideas and values. That is what makes each of us special and unique.
  3. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones    It doesn’t matter…In fact none of it matters. All the material things in the world won’t make you happy. Don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on your own inner happiness and you will in turn enjoy a happy life.
  4. Don’t forget to smile   Don’t let the challenges of life get you down. A smile and a positive attitude never cease to create magic even during difficult times. Remember, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”
  5. Count your blessings  Take time to be thankful for all of the things that we all take for granted so easily. Enough said.
  6. Follow your intuition  You innately know what to do, where to go next and how to handle whatever life throws at you. Take time to pray, meditate and connect with your sources energy. It will never steer you wrong.
  7. Live in the moment  You can’t change the past. Everything in life happens for a reason so you might as well chalk it up as a learning experience that played a key role in who you have become today. Don’t wish your life away thinking that you’ll be happy when…you finally achieve a goal or get to where you ultimately want to be. Living in the past or living for the future steals your experience in the right now. Learn to live in the now.
  8. Make time for yourself  Learn to be okay with being alone. Love yourself as you are and fuel your passions. Do what makes you happy and brings you inner peace and joy.
  9. Love and family are all that matters  When all is said and done, what it all really comes down to is love and family. Make love and family a priority in your life and you’ll live with no regrets. Everything else is secondary.
  10. Don’t ever lose your sense of humor   I don’t think I would have survived all that I’ve been through to date without a sense of humor. Having the ability to laugh, not only at yourself, but at all of the crazy thing that life brings is a true talent and a gift. Finding humor in the bleakest times can turn a difficult situation into a small bump in the road.

Super Bowl…Super Baby!

Following the September 11th attacks earlier in the season, the NFL postponed a week of games, resulting in Super Bowl XXXVI being rescheduled from January 27th to February 3, 2002. The big game was set to take place under heightened security at the Louisiana Superdome, where the St. Louis Rams would face the New England Patriots for the Super Bowl championship. While everyone else was excitedly getting ready for their Super Bowl party that night, I was excitedly awaiting the birth of my third child, due the following day.

At one o’clock in the afternoon on the day of the Super Bowl, I waddled around my house finishing up some last-minute nesting. I felt a few pains but continued to fuss over making every last detail in my home perfect for my new arrival. When my water broke, I knew it was time to call the doctor. As my labor pains began to worsen, I reached the doctor’s answering service and was told that he would call me right back.

When the phone rang, I picked it up and jokingly said with what laughter I could muster, “Doctor, I hope you’re not a sports fan, because my water just broke and I’m in labor.”

The doctor replied quite professionally, “I don’t watch sports. I’m a doctor. Meet me at the hospital.”

We arrived at the hospital, checked in and were assigned a room. When the contractions really started to kick in, I began to very loudly say the same things that I’m pretty sure I said while in labor with baby #2:”I must be out of my mind! God…this hurts so much, I didn’t remember how much! I can not believe I’m doing this again!”

A nurse rushed in.”Is everything okay?” she asked me.

Before I could answer, my ex-husband curled down one side of the newspaper he’d been reading.

“I have a paper cut and it really smarts.” he stated, as he extended his index finger. “Can you get me a band-aid?”

The nurse shot me a look and raised her eyebrows. Luckily, I was in too much pain to say what I was really thinking.

(Let me just note here that I did say ex husband. Enough said.)

The nurse did her best to make me comfortable, as the time and the contractions dragged on.

Somehow, I had endured 5 hours of pain…but it wasn’t over yet. I pushed the buzzer to alert the nurse. When she arrived, I said, with a flushed face and a sweaty strand of hair stuck to my lower lip, “I’m going to have this baby now!”

The nurse left the room and quickly returned with my doctor.

My ex husband was standing up in front of the TV, arm outstretched, frantically pushing the buttons to find the game. I groaned as my doctor joined him at his side.

“It was on in the doctors lounge.” I heard my OBGYN say.

“We have six minutes until kick off!” My ex husband replied.

I lifted my head. Stared at their backs and yelled, “I HAVE TO PUSH!!”

Somehow this news whipped everyone back to the reality that there was a woman in labor that actually took precedence over Tom Brady’s shot at winning the Super Bowl and the MVP.

My beautiful, healthy son Marc was born at kickoff that day…and yes, everyone missed the kickoff.

The New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl, 20 – 17, and quarterback Tom Brady did win the MVP.

I won the best gift of all.

And every year on my son’s birthday, I buy him a giant chocolate chip Super Bowl cookie with a football drawn in frosting on top. Marc loves it and it makes him feel special.

But, I’m the one who remembers the real story…everything I endured for my Super Bowl baby.