Feb 18, 2014 17:36 Warming up for a new spot Warming up for a new spot BY CHANTE WARREN Feb. 18, 2014 Comments I will keep my introduction short. As many readers are aware, Danny Heitman’s “At Random” column moved to the Sunday edition in place of longtime columnist and feature writer Ed Cullen, who retired this month. I moved from Saturday’s “Our Voices” column into Heitman’s old spot. Relocating to this coveted Friday space is both humbling and challenging. Cullen and Heitman are heavyweights in the journalism business. Each is a talented writer and skillful storyteller who delivers columns that read as personal as a letter to a dear or familiar friend. I cannot fill their shoes, nor can I replace their work. What I do aspire to bring each Friday is another walk, through a different pair of shoes, sharing stories on personal and family matters, offering snippets of life from everyday people I meet in the grocery stores, hospital waiting rooms, and fellowship halls, schools, in the streets and around my community. Part of the journey will include bringing my husband into the column and sharing our experiences raising our three elementary school-age children and his 17-year-old son. Homework must be checked and completed each night, rooms cleaned, teeth brushed and so forth and so on. Because we live in a rural area in greater Baton Rouge, we typically drive longer distances to get places. About eight years ago, after the birth of our second child, we traded in my Civic for a minivan and my husband replaced his two-seater truck with a more suitable family car. It felt at first as though we were relinquishing a part of our former lives, but as the cars grew, the family grew and so did the responsibilities. I keep behavior and chore charts perched on the kitchen wall. Any yelling matches or “shut-ups” result in losing a privilege. My parents never had to use that kind of system on my sister and me while growing up. They told us what we needed to do and we did it. These days, parents compete with television, computer games, the Internet, cellphones and countless other distractions. Sometimes I see my children getting so caught up in what they want to do, that they need firm reminders, written and verbal ones, to teach them what they must do and what consequences they face if they refuse to comply. It makes them accountable and it keeps me from shouting and raising my voice more than I already have to. Other aspects of our lives are tied to the actions of all of the people in our community who play an intricate part in our daily lives. Before the crack of dawn, my children’s school bus driver pulls up to the curb, beeps his horn and carries them safely to school each day. Sure, it’s a simple act, but one that sets the tone for the day. My parents, mother-in-law, friends and other close family members will also appear in columns during the upcoming months. My mother-in-law is a leukemia survivor who looks with optimism toward her weekly visits to the cancer clinic where she receives her lifesaving maintenance treatments. During our rides to the cancer clinic, she will often say, “thanks to God,” for each and every day he has given her. Rarely will she complain about the treatments or the side effects she has had in the year-and-a-half since her diagnosis. Through this column, I eagerly look to share snippets of life from my own backyard and from the people we meet each day who help make our world and everyone else’s run just a little bit smoother. Chante Warren welcomes comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.