Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

One upon a time, long ago, where blue grass grew in Main Street America, and front porch swings were a safe place to watch life go by, I packed my bags, folded up my new cobalt blue comforter with Dogwood Rose colored flowers to go out in the world and, if not meet my destiny, then hunt it down like a terrior unleashed who finds the world so big that sometimes it is hard to figure which way to go.

My comforter was there through my college career, wrapped around me as I studied, worked on projects, or just needed a comfort moment.  In a college dorm room, bedding is the primary décor statement (wall décor second).  My Cobalt blue comforter with its Dogwood Rose colored flowers symbolized my boldness – no weak, thinned out blue pastel or wall flower pink – no – I was going to shape my future to my dreams – Cobalt blue spoke strength, determination, adventure.

Three years later, I stepped further into my future.  My spirit gentled.  My new comforter was Shabby Chic White with faint slashes of tea green and misty rose.  My fading Cobalt Blue comforter, now Carolina Blue found itself folded over a chair for cuddling on the couch or naps.

Until my son was born. The blue seemed to brighten with a renewed vitality. Thrown on the floor, it provided a soft place to fall. As morning wore on, sleepiness pulling both of us, we’d wrap the blue around and fall into the snuggly Kingdom of Nap.

When he turned 2, I decorated his Big Boy Room.  He picked out a Snoopy Quilt with a blue background for his Big Boy Bed.  During nap time one afternoon, when he was just 3, he dragged his blanket into my room, setting it on my bed.  “I think you should have this blanket, Mom.  It’s so much nicer.  I’ll let you have it,” he said as he slowly inched my fading into stone washed Corn Silk blue blanket over his shoulders and backed out of the room. “I’ll just take this one since you won’t be needing it now that you have my nice Snoopy blanket.”

And there began a back and forth, a sneak and take for a few years until it just stayed in his room, wrapped around him during sleep, snuggly time, movie time, and, yes, even spend the night time.  Time faded the blanket to periwinkle.  Not all the seams were there. That blanket went with him to college, all faded and full of memories. The pink had washed to a leached out white.

One day, he brought The Girl home, the girl who would be his wife.  They set a date.  Then, one Christmas, six months before the wedding, he came home with his blanket and left it behind. The faded blue blanket just lay there. . . . .

 Until one day, my 3rd son picked it up, wrapped it around himself, and wandered off with it to snuggle into sleep, watch a movie, or read, even on overnight sleepovers – terribly faded, terribly worn, terribly loved –

(I had to wrestle it away to take a picture).

More on the journey of the blue cotton blanket: Change Comes Quietly

and The Blanket Thief Strikes Again

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It’s just not Halloween without this post!
oldwomaninshoeI used to think moms with just sons were pretty scary, until I became one of those moms.
When you’re a mom with 5 sons, no matter how big, those boys gotta think you can still take them down-no matter who’s around.

You gotta be able to call their bluff.

One day, one of my sons walked through the kitchen on his way to his room buck naked after showering in my shower.  At the same time, the oldest one strolled into the kitchen in his boxers.  I’d had it. I was tired of all this male non-challent nakedness. There was a girl in the house after-all, even if she was just “Mom.”

I started un-buttoning my pants.  I said, “Well, if you can do it, I can, too.”  They high-tailed it out of the kitchen. I didn’t see a naked butt for about 6 months. I must have been pretty Scary-Mommy! (BTW, I only started unbuttoning my pants.  That’s all it took)

It gets pretty scary in the house when I do my “Mad Mad Madam Mim” immitation from The Sword and The Stone or the Lady in the Portrait from Harry Potter when she can just break a glass “Just with My Voice.” The threat to do those immitations in front of their friends pretty much makes them toe the line.

Then, I get pretty SCARY MOMMY when I create visual lectures on relationships and stuff, like “You’re a Cake” and “Hubba Bubba” and “Are you Man Enough?”  And then I share them over S’Mores and Pizza when they bring  BFFS over or I get a chance to hang around their “girl” friends at soccer games or church. It’s so scary, they almost like it.

witchcatA truly SCARY MOMMY makes sure Santa stuffs stockings for the older sons with things like Payne’s Common Sense, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America or C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. However, for every Scary Mommy high moment, there is an equal Scary Mommy low moment, like when I reviewed every Def Leppard song with my son who disagreed that every Def Leppard song is about sex.  We were trying to eliminate the sin-with-a-good-beat music choices.  All Scary Mommy had to do was raise an eyebrow.  My son conceded victory, but Scary Mommy was rather red-faced. Def Leppart no longer blared at the house.

I am probably SCARY MOMMY when I lose my temper, my keys, and when I drive (not quite all at the same time).

SCARY MOMMY loves enough to risk pride, respect, and affection in order to be the mom my son’s need me to be. SCARY MOMMY can be meaner, but SCARY MOMMY gives Volcano kisses that slobber all over their cheeks, bear hugs that can lift the biggest one of them all off the ground, and say, “I’m sorry. I really missed it” when I handle mommy-ness wrong.

SCARY MOMMY has a pretty scary sense of humor.  When one son, whom we call “Bear” got in the car after soccer practice all cold and shivering, I asked him,” What’s the saddest sight in the whole wide world?”

“I don’t know. Your cooking?” he answered. I almost forgot my joke.

“A hairless bear shivering with cold,” I answered.  Now readers, you need to visualize that before you can truly appreciate the SCARY MOMMY humor.

momboysbarn.jpgThe boys would really think I was SCARY MOMMY if they knew what I was like without God in my life giving me the strength, the courage, the inspiration, the never-give-up-ness to believe in their innate goodness when it’s on sabitacal, to believe they are walking in God’s plan for their lives when it seems like every plan has been thrown away, to believe they have generous hearts when they are tight-fisted with their brothers, and to love passionately and unconditionally even when they don’t want to love me back.  SCARY MOMMY drops to her knees in prayer when life is scarier than she is!

SCARY MOMMY? Bring it on! Sometimes I just plain scare myself!

See also Socialism or Capitalism: Trick or Treat or Halloween is. . .

Wishing you a day of celebrating family!

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03-08-2009 04;28;20PMMy grandmother, Mary Edna, taught me  about strength. One bright sunny morning, she moved from grandmother to something closer and more powerful.

The sun was pouring through the big upstairs windows at her house. Spending the night at grandmother and grandfather’s house, drinking hot chocolate for breakfast-that was the life-except that morning, grandmother accidently put coffee in my milk instead of cocoa.

“Can I live here forever?” I asked. I asked it every time. We were upstairs straightening the beds when the phone rang, you know the 1968 phone ring. Grandmother answered, handing me the phone to talk to my mom.

“Can I live here forever?” I remember asking into the phone.

My mother said, “Yes.”

Wow! Talk about getting what you wish for! It left me speechless. I remember wandering downstairs, onto the front porch, swinging. The milkman came, leaving two bottles of milk in the milk box.

Mom, my brother, and I moved in a few weeks later. Morning hot chocolates stopped. We weren’t just grandchildren anymore. We were something. . . more.

There were times when I wondered how my grandfather could love such a woman. The older I got, the more I understood. You need strength to push through tough times. You need strength to make meager times rich. You need strength to have hope.

She could be sharp, judgmental, and an adherent to Amy Vanderbilt’s Book of Etiquette. Despite that, she made me feel beautiful on the inside. That’s what mattered most to me—that’s where I wanted to be beautiful.

I learned as I grew into a young woman the need to stand up for what I believed. If I didn’t, she could just roll right over me.

It terrified me to stand up to her. She could wield the look. Most people would just give up if she gave you the look. Deep inside, I knew I couldn’t give up. If I did, I would lose . . . .me. So I would stand up to her. . . and when there was nothing left to do, then I would just stand.

She respected that.

I learned that if I could stand up to her, I could stand up to anybody or for anything. A lot of shoe quaking is involved in the standing up to a seemingly greater than oneself. Sweaty palms, too, often followed sometimes by light-headed-ness, probably due to a lack of oxygen. Sometimes life requires moments like this, the standing-up-for-something-inside-of-ourselves moments. Moments where you can’t afford to stand down.

One day after my first son was born, we gathered in the family room, my grandmother, aunt, mom, and I. Everyone was enjoying the baby. I got up and turned the corner to the kitchen when I hit on a chair my very sensitive part of the shin, that funnybone part that when knocked just the right when in the moment of busyness has nothing funny about it, just exquisite pain.

I cursed. Then I inwardly cursed again when the family room went stone quiet. I never cursed. At least, not until I started driving, and then only when I was driving. Then I got married, and the battle increased. Then I had a baby. However, these women in my family respected how I struggled never to curse.

I had a reputation that with the split-second shin hit was about to be torn to shreds. The silence screamed condemnation. I took a deep breath, and stuck my head around the corner, ready to take the lashing. There are times where it only takes one incident to destroy one’s reputation.

Scan6_2_0039_039Everyone was looking at grandmother, the great matriarch, waiting for the verdict, the censure. My character failure would be recalled again and again. Just like the one time I opened a Christmas present early and rewrapped it. A criminal just can’t keep a secret; they have to brag. Stupid me! You’d think I had done it every Christmas.

My grandmother looked them square in the eye, and said, “My mother always said there was a time and place to curse. I believe you just found it.”

The conversation turned. Not a word was ever said about the incident again. She had secured my dignity.

I miss her every day! I used the strength she instilled in me every day. With a house full of sons to raise, they can’t ever see you sweat! Toppling into a weepy puddle is just not an option—at least not in front of them.

It is hard balancing the two, a stick that won’t be broken and a gentle hand filled with compassion. I fail often; however, I cannot afford to give up. That dog-gone strength I built from standing up to her just won’t let me.

God replaced the loss of a father with a great gift—my grandmother who taught me to be strong.

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Around the Blogahood, neighbors are posting, well, favorite old posts – and, really, I just couldn’t resist – kind of like the favorite old stories you like to tell over and over again.  Or that often repeated joke that still makes you laugh? This post is an example of an idea rummaging around in my head for over 14 years – and blogging gave me the chance to pull it out and give it life. That is one of the beautiful things about the blogahood!

pipesmoking ladyWhen I am old, I will smoke a pipe with vanilla tobacco. By the time I am 85 years old, smoking a pipe of vanilla tobacco will not negatively affect my health. I will be too old to negatively influence my children, and my great grand children will remember me. There will be, I am sure, many things I will not want to do, but I think the hardest thing will be to resist the urge to speak to my children, my grandchildren, and my great grand children in Disney Language (Disneyese).

So that when my son says, “Mom, I was thinking . . . .”

I will not answer, “A dangerous past time, I’m sure”(Beauty and the Beast).

Nor will I respond to misplaced temper with, “…and most of all…Control your temper”(Beauty andthe Beast)

When somone askes me who the older gentleman is with my 10th grandson’s wife, I will not say, “The crazy old coot is belle’s father” (Beauty and the Beast).

No matter how temping, when my great grand-sons are whining about pulling some weeds, I will not say, like Grumpy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, “A fine bunch of water lilies you turned out to be.”

Nor will I on any occasion sing to my sons, my grandsons, and my great grandsons about what kind of man they need to be:

“[men] BE A MAN
We must be swift as a coursing river
[men] BE A MAN
With all the force of a great typhoon
[men] BE A MAN
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon”(Mulan) -This one is going to be a hard one to resist!

Neither will I encourage the eating of lettuces: romaines, butterheads, radicchio, arugula or endive by saying, “Eating greens is a special treat, It makes long ears and great big feet. But it sure is awful stuff to eat”(Bambi).

And when my 2 year old great grand-daughter jabbers to me, in a language I cannot understand, I will not say, “Look, you’re really cute, but I can’t understand what you’re saying” (Finding Nemo).

Despite their good intentions, when my children try to wake me up at 5 a.m. to take me to the beach with them, I will not sound like Madam Mim, “I hate sunshine! I hate horrible, wholesome sunshine! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it, hate it, hate it!” and pull the covers back over my head (The Sword and the Stone).

Nor will I ask the tiny child rummaging through my candy box, “Who are You?” Catepillar from Alice in Wonderland (because I will know all their names).

And when that tiny child eats my last favorite piece of candy, I will not shout or even whisper, “Off with their heads,”(Alice in Wonderland).

When I ask my 4 year old great grandaughter what her name is because I am so old and have so many new names to remember, when she just stares mutely, terrified of the little old lady smoking a pipe with vanilla tobacco, I will not impertintly answer,”At least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then” (Alice in Wonderland).

I will not wish strangers, “A Very Happy Unbirthday”(Alice in Wonderland), and when my son tells me the doctor has ordered me to never eat ice cream again, I will not answer, “Never say Never whatever you do”(An American Tail).

When they asked, “What’s for dinner Great Grannydoodle?” I will not answser, “Kidney of a horse, liver of a cat, filling up the sausages with this and that” (00ps–Les Miserable, but it is one of my most favorite lines).

If my sons dared to ask, just because they are in their 50s and think they are old enough, “Why did you do it, Mom” when I visit and eat all their ice cream at 2 a.m. I will not say, “I’d like to make one thing quite clear: I never explain anything”(Mary Poppins).

When they fuss at me for having too much fun wrestling and pinning down the grandchildren and great grandchildren or jumping on the trampoline, I will not say, “Why do you have to spoil it? We have fun! I taught you to fly and to fight”(Peter Pan).
And when one of the little ones comes in, fussing that someone is not sharing, no matter how tempting, I will not say, “All you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust” and then sprinkle glitter or baby powder on her hair. No, I will not do that.
Nor will I call all these children, big and small “Bilge Rats” for beating me at chess and checkers(Peter Pan).
No, I think when I am Old and Smoke a Pipe with Vanilla Tobacco, I will want to hold their tiny hands, or hug them close if they will let me (you know how children are), and I will say, “Let me pray a blessing prayer with you.” Or maybe I will tell them stories about how Jesus loved their parents, and grandparents, cousins – and how God answered prayers and loved unconditionally, faithfully. And, maybe, I will explain about being a son or daughter of the King – and what that means in His Kingdom!
Yes, I think that is what I will do!

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I think some of the greatest mom-son moments occur in the car – the front seat of the car.  When the government implemented laws that prevented my little guys from their turn in the front seat, I felt that family relationships declined. However, the other night my son and I had one of those moments – a moment where something just hung by a thread.

This particular son, the answer to a prayer, has been wrestling with God – or rather trying not to wrestle by pretending He wasn’t there. Faith can be shaken in two ways – by challenges that tear at the roots of our faith and by outside influences that try to talk you out of that faith.  For a teenager, that can be an shattering combination.  Then, just add rebellion to authority and like buttermilk and soda combined, you’ve got a mess on your hands.

‘I’m starting to believe again,” he said. “However, you guys just go overboard on this stuff.”

“Overboard?” I questioned. I said inside my head  Keep your mouth shut. Keep your mouth shut.  Emotions be gone! Just let him talk.  At least he’s talking.

“Yeah,” he said.  “You’ve got real life and you’ve got the Bible.  Not everything in the Bible applies to real life. You just can’t keep beating people over the head with the Bible and saying all your solutions are in the Bible.”

“But you can apply God’s Word to Everything,” I countered.  Calmly, trying to maneuver, say the right thing to someone I love so much – the thread could break so easily.

Man, oh man.  He’d been trying to persuade me a few weeks ago that I lived in a Polyanna world.  Bad things happened.  I didn’t have a clue about real life. He needed to tell my dad who walked out on us that one.

Raising children sometimes feels like a recipe mal-function – you set out to make a milk and ice cream shake and end up with a bottle of bourbon.  Where the bourbon came from, you don’t know – however, you know you invested in the milk and ice cream – Marble Slab ice cream, too- only the best.  How can it be possible to invest the best of your values into someone and have them regurgitate “oppposite day” values?

Maybe it’s like growing Zinnia’s.  It gets a little ugly before it gets pretty.

We were crusing down life’s highway. He kept talking, trying to persuade me.  Our exit came and I was pulling off when he said, “The Bible can’t be applied to everything in the world.  Like that sign there.”

The thread strengthened. You know, sometimes God is so good – it makes you laugh. I looked at him, laughing and said, “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and Give to God what is God’s.”

And my son who rarely smiles, broke into a smile.

Score one for Mom and the round to God!

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I asked my son, Faithful, a few years back what type of scarf he wanted me to knit.  He looked through a book and chose the hardest one because he wanted me to work hard for him.  Those of you with 14 year olds, maybe not your first son, but your second, might find them challenging, fraught with difficulty for both mother and son. It’s a stage, but some 14 year olds are like emotional fireworks while others are sparklers.  Still, either way, it is a tough time. 

While I knit this scarf, I noticed that working it was just as frustrating as being with my 14-year-old at times – the humor sustained me. My love for my son kept me unwavering in my doggish attempt to finish the scarf in time for Christmas.  I must admit, he secretly loves it, though he would never admit it.  I often find it neatly folded all by itself – which he does not do with his other clothes. 

I boasted in the interim (between then and now) that I needed to write “Ode to the Sock Scarf:  how like a 14-year-old you are.”  I thought now was the perfect time to tackle that task – and after researching the Ode – I must say, it is up there with the sock scarf, though not as time-consuming (as you may be able to tell).  The first two stanzas are constructed 75% according to structure.  The last stanza is not – because motherhood is often fluent, unstructured in our attempts to meet challenges and think out of the box.

If you notice, there is a prayer mixed in – because when I knit knitty things for special people, I always pray for them.

Ode to the Sock Scarf

How Like a 14-Year-Old You Are


“A sock scarf, I want you to work hard for me”

The fourteen year old teen cleverly decided

Bravado brimming, carelessly deciding to torment his mommy

His ploy she saw but never chided the invited

“What scarf shall I craft you – I’ve made for your 4 brothers

But not yet you? –  A quality time love langauge gift  designed

To wrap a hug about my son, a colorful, warm mother

gift from a mother’s heart that loves blind

loves even 14-year-old grumpiness wrapped in nails arguing anything,

struggling, frustrating, trying to wriggle out of the cocoon and spread wings


The scarf I started, tube first, heels and toes last

The tube, so easy, so simple, like little boy 2,4, 6, and 8

36 stitches divided evenly over 3 double point needles, so quickly past

Careful not to twist stitches, knit and pearl consistent, not trusting to fate

Grafting waste for heels, a holding place, almost ready, not quite

For grown up product able to fulfill the design created for

Decrease, increase, slip, slip knit, drop a stitch, not loose, not tight, 

Count, knit, pearl, discovering a dropped stitch, heaving a great sight over this labor

Shaping this scarf of my heart, unraveling, backing out, re-knitting boldly

Constantly questioning, “Am I doing this right?”

Waste yarn pulled out, time to knit the heels, the heels so 14-years-old

My job so close to completeness – yet the hardest part


Slip stitches from one needle to another, right side facing

Knit one, pray for Godly friends;
knit two, pray for a heart that seeks Godly things;
pearl 3 his choices

Slip, Slip Stitch God planned his days before he was born

Increase his awareness of truth, decrease rebellion,

Slip Slip stitch, undo discontent
Knit two together for Faith

Pick up and knit 1 stitch between, knit, pearl, pray

2 rows at end of needle – graft stitches together

Grafting his heart to our Lord’s heart

Wrestling, frustration, repeat,
lost stitches searched

For, found and fixed, unravel, re-stitch, knit and pearl

Weaving prayers through tube, heal, and toe

Knitting in faith directions true, hoping in the end product,

Loving through the heel of 14 years old, crushed all but for faith

That God’s promises reign true, sore fingers, worn mind,

Questioning my actions, trying so hard to create

What the directions promised, the plan, wholeness and strength

Blindly working, knitting Faith, Hope and Love
I complete this Sock Scarf so like my 14-year-old

Permission granted from 14-year-old to use picture!

The Sock Scarf.  Scarves, a Knitter’s dozen. Published by XRX Books.

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When I am old, I will smoke a pipe with vanilla tobacco.  By the time I am 85 years old, smoking a pipe of vanilla tobacco will not negatively affect my health.  I will be too old to negatively influence my children, and my great grand children will remember me.  There will be, I am sure, many things I will not want to do, but I think the hardest thing will be to resist the urge to speak to my children, my grandchildren, and my great grand children in Disney Language (Disneyese).

So that when my son says, “Mom, I was thinking . . . .”

I will not answer, “A dangerous past time, I’m sure”(Beauty and the Beast).

Nor will I respond to misplaced temper with, “…and most of all…Control your temper”(Beauty andthe Beast)

When somone askes me who the older gentleman is with my 10th grandson’s wife, I will not say, “The crazy old coot is belle’s father” (Beauty and the Beast).

No matter how temping, when my great grand-sons are whining about pulling some weeds, I will not say, like Grumpy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, “A fine bunch of water lilies you turned out to be.”

Nor will I on any occasion sing to my sons, my grandsons, and my great grandsons about what kind of man they need to be:

“[men] BE A MAN
We must be swift as a coursing river
[men] BE A MAN
With all the force of a great typhoon
[men] BE A MAN
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon”(Mulan) -This one is going to be a hard one to resist!

Neither will I encourage the eating of lettuces:  romaines, butterheads, radicchio, arugula or endive by saying, “Eating greens is a special treat, It makes long ears and great big feet. But it sure is awful stuff to eat”(Bambi).

And when my 2 year old great grand-daughter jabbers to me, in a language I cannot understand, I will not say, “Look, you’re really cute, but I can’t understand what you’re saying” (Finding Nemo).

Despite their good intentions, when my children try to wake me up at 5 a.m. to take me to the beach with them, I will not sound like Madam Mim, “I  hate sunshine! I hate horrible, wholesome sunshine! I hate it! I hate it! I hate, hate, hate!” and pull the covers back over my head (The Sword and the Stone).

Nor will I ask the tiny child rummaging through my candy box, “Who are You?” Catepillar from Alice in Wonderland (because I will know all their names).

And when that tiny child eats my last favorite piece of candy, I will not shout or even whisper, “Off with their heads,”(Alice in Wonderland).

When I ask my 4 year old great grandaughter what her name is because I am so old and have so many new names to remember, when she just stares mutely, terrified of the little old lady smoking a pipe with vanilla tobacco, I will not impertintly answer,”At least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then” (Alice in Wonderland).

I will not wish strangers, “A Very Happy Unbirthday”(Alice in Wonderland), and when my son tells me the doctor has ordered me to never eat ice cream again, I will not answer, “Never say Never whatever you do”(An American Tail).

When they asked, “What’s for dinner Great Grannydoodle?” I will not answser, “Kidney of a horse, liver of a cat, filling up the sausages with this and that” (00ps–Les Miserable, but it is one of my most favorite lines).

If my sons dared to ask, just because they are in their 50s and think they are old enough, “Why did you do it, Mom” when I visit and eat all their ice cream at 2 a.m.  I will not say, “I’d like to make one thing quite clear: I never explain anything”(Mary Poppins).

When they fuss at me for having too much fun wrestling and pinning  down the grandchildren and great grandchildren or jumping on the trampoline, I will not say, “Why do you have to spoil it? We have fun! I taught you to fly and to fight”(Peter Pan).
And when one of the little ones comes in, fussing that someone is not sharing, no matter how tempting, I will not say, “All you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust” and then sprinkle glitter or baby powder on her hair.  No, I will not do that.
Nor will I call all these children, big and small “Bilge Rats” for beating me at chess and checkers(Peter Pan).
No, I think when I am Old and Smoke a Pipe with Vanilla Tobacco, I will want to hold their tiny hands, or hug them close if they will let me (you know how children are), and I will say, “Let me pray a blessing prayer with you.” Or maybe I will tell them stories about how Jesus loved their parents, and grandparents, cousins – and how God answered prayers and loved unconditionally, faithfully.  And, maybe, I will explain about being a son or daughter of the King – and what that means in His Kingdom!
Yes, I think that is what I will do!

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superior scribbler awardHow many times do you do something wonderful, and your children, whom you think sparkle like the moon and stars, do not appreciate your Sparkleness?  Sometimes that attitude can dull your sparkle, though it is not supposed to.  I guess that is the humanness within.

Zeemaid from In the Mommy Trenches, sent me this wonderful award that definitely shined up my inner Sparkly.

The Rules for this one are:

* Each Superior Scribbler I name today must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
* Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
*Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visitThis Post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
*Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

heartfeltShirley at A Mom After God’s Own Heart sent me The Heartfelt Blog Award.  It is such a blessing to be able to share what is in our hearts whether it is just telling a story because it makes you laugh – and telling it just once at home just is not enough! OR maybe it is a crusade against injustice or frustration at valueless marketing in our stores that encroach on your values or just needing someone to say, “I know how you feel.”  To be the Heartfelt Award is about one person’s ideas resounding in some positive, encouraging way in another’s heart.

  The Rules for the Heartfelt  Blog Award are:

1) Put the logo on your blog/post.

2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside.

3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.

4) Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.

5) Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award

So without further delay, here are my nine picks for the Heartfelt Award:

DaffycommentsawardAnd then the amazing RedHead Riter bestowed upoon me the My Comments Rock Awards because it is not just about taking.  A good neighbor always gives, too.  When we were making our move, I bemoaned my “Peeps” – Yes, I said Peeps.  You do realize that if you use the slang of youth, they will stop using that slang.  I am on a quest – but I digress – I bemoaned the loss of my “Peeps” – My Kroger Peeps, my Wal-mart Peeps, my coffee shop peeps at Cafe Dolche and Poets, Sweet Sallies Yum Homemade cakes and cupcakes – people I have done business with for 18 years, seen me drag my boys through the check out aisle, brought in for a cup of JoeMy sons  where I’d ask how they were and mean it.  And they’d stop and talk about their lives, too.  My sons (all 5 are in agreement on this) and my husband laughed and said it wouldn’t be long before I made friends.  They swear I knew everyone, so it never phases them when I found out information and said, “I have my sources.” However, making friends is hard work.  It means risking rejection by extending friendliness.  We do that with our comments.  We can either give cruise-through comments or really sit down and have a dialogue.  Yes, I am interested in what you have to say.  I was never to appalled in my life when my journalism teacher in college was talking about cliches, saying, “People don’t really want to know how you are.  They just ask.”  This Award, to me, symbolizes what a blogahood needs to be healthy.

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We moved into a new neighborhood in August, 3 days after school started. We unloaded 18 years of life in another state, 4 boys more than when we left.  Tough was an understatement .  No neighbors showed up on our doorstep with cookies or a pie.  No matter how many boxes I dug into, not a single friend was found to be pulled out.

However, one thing that did not change in the move was the world of women’s blogging. Women stopped by to say hi, to encourage, and, gee, some even brought awards.  I could not eat them of course, but encouragement heartens the soul, does it not?

I want to thank some of these encouragers whose friendship, encouragement, and prayers made me feel less lonely as I began to re-build my family’s life in a new community.


Thanks Frugal Vicki from Frugal Mom Knows Best. She sent me the Heartfelt Award.  She had this to say about the award:

“This award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose six more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

These are women who would be welcome at my Thanksgiving Table! These women last summer so encouraged this new mom on the block of the blogahood.  What a dinner we would have with such women of faith, determination, and conviction- and the most amazing thing – these women, even if they would disagree, would do it so nicely!


Buckaroo Mama at Mamahood, Among Other Things didn’t bring any pie to my house, but she did award me the Honest Scrap Award.  All you moms out there know that we do not often get encouragement within the household (I’m talking our children,not our spouses)  for the honest of our values and ideas and implementing those ideas.  This award sweetened my day, along with my Orange Dolce tea! This award is for those women who stand up for what they believe in. Some show it with words, some with art!

Here are the rules that go along with the “Honest Scrap Award”:

Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.

Now I am supposed to tell you 10 honest things about myself

  • My eyes are green.  My husband tried to persuade me they were blue when we first started going out.
  • One of the happiest days of my life was when my 4th son’s eyes turned green.  I know what the world felt like when movies discovered color!
  • My sons have proof that I am not perfect when I am behind the wheel of a car.
  • My favorite color is blue
  • My favorite ice cream is Marble Slab Deep Dark Chocolate with Lemon Custard.
  • My favorite Birthday cake was made by my dad’s mom-Strawberry Cake.  I finally got the recipe for it a few years ago.
  • I always wanted children with red hair, like my husband had when he was little. 
  • Chocolate Truffles and Majeskas are my favorite Christmas Candy.  I’ll share the recipes with you in December.
  • I hated pizza when I was little.  The fam had to buy me a hamburger while they went to Pizza Hut.  I certainly cannot get mad at my littlest son because he hates pizza now and wants a hamburger instead.
  • I do not like scary movie!

Lastly, I want to thank Tracy at Light House Academy and The Home School Post.  She did not bring a cake to my blog door, but she did sparkle up my header, by getting rid of the fisherman and the odd boat, and brightening the scenery. She is a beautiful example of the generosity I have discovered in this community.

Today’s theme goes with my Simply Saturday theme of Generosity of Spirit 

“God puts things in our hearts, and whispers, “Pass it on.”  Of course, sometimes He has to shout, but we pass it on. I have been so blessed by so many wonderful women who have passed on a ”God” message that was spiritual water to my thirsting soul.

That message gets passed on, maybe through words, maybe through actions to my children, family, peers, acquaintences, maybe the cashier at a store.  It might not be a sermon, but maybe it’s a smile, a pat on the back, a hug, a word of encouragement,  just showing interest, making eye contact, a reaching into someone’s life that needs to be reached. The ripple effect of “Pass it on” – just think about it.”

Thank each of you for blessing me!

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10-25-2009 06;08;41PMTrick or Treat

Trick or Treat

Give me Something Good to Eat

Every topic provides a teachable moment about God and, often, politics. Halloween is no different.

Last year, before the election, I was driving my boys somewhere-we are always going somewhere, and we were talking, discussing the difference between presidential candidates.

I explained how our capitalistic country was born out of the failure of socialism. William Bradford, author of Plymouth Plantation led a group of people to settle in America. Their settlement charter required them to form a socialist society. All results of work would be equally shared among their group. The first year was an utter failure. Healthy young men did not work. Why? Because they knew they would get their equal share of the pie whether they worked or not, as the charter stated. Suffering resulted, and, sadly, the ones who worked hard to provide for those who did not work suffered equally. The colony revised their charter the second year into a capitalistic charter: what you made you kept to sell, barter, trade. The colony flourished. Those lazy young men worked when there was profit/rewards to be had.

“Capitalism allows you to keep what you earn and choose where to spend it; socialism “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”(Marx), meaning that it doesn’t matter how much you work or how good you are, the government will take away your earnings to give to fill other peoples’ needs.”

10-25-2009 06;03;09PMMy sons looked at me blankly. Hmmmmm, apparently, I needed to put this into the U-14 venacular.” Passing houses with pumpkins filling door ways, black cat flags, and other ghoulish festivities, I pulled an idea out of the figurative candy basket of my brain.

I assessed my boys through the rear-view mirror.

“What’s your favorite part about Halloween,” I asked.

“Candy,” chimed the unhesitatant chorus.

“What if the Jones wouldn’t allow their children to go Trick or Treating because they didn’t believe in it? The Thompsons were just too lazy? The Smith’s too sick? What would you do when you got home and Dad said you had to give 2/3 of your candy to those families? How would you feel?”

“Not going to happen!” my then 8th grader answered bluntly.

The two younger ones looked appalled, even disgusted.

benI countered my 8th grader, “But he is your Dad, you have to do what he says. Just like the president is the president-you have to do what he says, too. Socialism is like your dad telling you you must share, whether you want to or not. Socialism is when the leader of your country decides how many other people you have to give your hard-earned halloween candy to.”

“Some people don’t believe in trick or treating, some just don’t want to, some people maybe just can’t for real reasons. Despite the reason why others do not have Halloween candy, you cannot call it giving when the government takes it away and chooses who to give your stuff to.”

My 4th grader said, “Well, if they were sick, I’d share.”

“In a Capitalist society, you go out, work hard, and determine what to do with your earnings. The moral choice is yours to make with giving. That is what makes it moral,” I answered. “There’s nobleness and goodness in giving when you make the choice to give-that is capitalism, and that’s why we’re known as the most giving country in the world. There is no moral giving without choice. There is no generosity of spirit without choice.”

Halloween is a sweet-tooth example of the capitalist system thriving in our country. I bet your children share without being told to, or barter the results of their hard work.

Socialism or Capitalism–what’s the real trick or treat?

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I am resposting “Shouldn’t Children be Encouraged to Defend Themselves” today. Sadly, a high school student at my sons’ high school was stabbed during an in-school brawl with a kitchen knife. He was air-lifted in critical condition. Word of mouth discusses one student taunting, both fighting, one evening the odds. The school went into lock-down mode. I firmly believe that a passive approach to bullying and mis-behavior breeds out-of-control violence. I cannot express the saddness in my heart for these two young men and their families. I cannot express the feeling of frustration that makes me feel like sending my sons to school is like playing Russian Roulette with their lives. I am going to make Monday in my home an unofficial Day of Prayer Against Violence in Our Schools. Won’t you join me?

Shouldn’t Children be Encouraged to Defend Themselves

soldiers“The world is governed by the aggressive use of force,” was played out last week with the death of an honor student in Chicago by violent gang members. Aggressive force ruled. There are two types of aggressive force: Aggressive forced used offensively, and Aggressive force used defensively.

In the public school system, Aggressive Force Used Offensively wins. If Johnney, uses aggressive force offensively by kicking, punching, or pulling a knife, and Sam, uses aggressive force defensively to stop the kicking, punching, or pulling a kinife. Both are punished. Equally. Sam gets suspended for defending himself. Johnney gets suspended, too.

The young man-yes, young man, not a child, who was killed would have been suspended for defending himself if that had happened on school grounds.

The system emasculates rule-abiding students, while empowering rule-breaking students

My 3rd grader is being kicked, shoved, and verbally assaulted consistently. The teacher admitted using everthing in his behavior-solution bag, “I don’t know what else to do.” My son’s 3rd grade world is governed by the aggressive use of force-except the governing force is a fellow 3rd grader.

My husband told him that if the child hits him, to hit back twice as hard. However, if that happens, my son risks earning the same rap sheet as the instigator.

fight2One of my sons had a similar, but more threatening experience in 7th grade. As the principal explained to me, it all stareted when the class bully kept throwing tootsie rolls at a girl and hitting her in the eye. My son told him to stop. It was Halloween. After Thanksgiving, this same student pulled a knife on my son and threatened to use that same knife to stab him in the back and kill him the next week.

My son’s middle school world was governed by the aggressive use of force.

I asked the principal, “Is this a kid who is just having a tough day, or is this a kid with a history of issues?”

She couldn’t tell me. She also could not do anything about the student with the knife: even though other students had seen the knife, it didn’t count because a teacher didn’t see the knife.

My son was told to always have a witness with him, whether he went to the bathroom, soccer practice, or changed class.

boxingI was assured that my son had just as fine of privacy rights as the student who pulled the knife. I countered that my son didn’t have anything to hide, so I didn’t need those privacy rights.

This student was in and out of school for the rest of the year. Each time he came back, the threats would increase. We met with the principal again. We told her that we gave our son permission to take 2 hits (understand that in the 7th grade, he was already 6 ft. 2 inches tall with the strength to seriously injure this little guy). If someone didn’t pull the young man off of him, then he had our permission to knock him to the next county. Even though, after taking 2 hits, and finally defending himself would result in a suspension.

“The world is governed by the aggressive use of force.”

Students who are coached and threated not to defend themselves are being subjugated by those using the aggressive use of force.

The public school system is training children and young adults to not fight back, while letting those who use the aggressive use of force freedom to do so. Why? They have simply exhausted their bag of solutions.

They are creating a country of citizens who do not know how to defend themselves, to stand up and face an enemy force, to possibly save their life. Iwant the school sytems to stop tying my son’s hands behind their backs and forcing them to take the aggression.

marinesI want the school system to teach that right is might.

Sometimes the aggressive use of force, when used defensively, stops the bullies, bad guys, and murderers from continuing their reign of terror. Self-defense is an American right, for the adults and the children, too.

Sometimes a strong defense is the solution to the aggressive use of force. Sometimes the defensive aggressive use of force can bring peace to the world. . . and even the 3rd grade.

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hallowween5I love Fall.  The smell of crisp, musty leafy air.  The crunch and skittering leaf sounds.  Blustery wind that sasses. It is the only time of year that I orange is my favoarite color.  Otherwise, I abhor it.  It is the only time of year a black cat gives me pause.

Walking up the main street of my hometown every day to visit my aunt, my feet kicking through red, orange, and brown leaves that crackled.  Robin’s egg blue skies and clouds, so white, so full as though they were heavy with the winter snow to come–the sky seemed like the roof of an old house, too low and me too big, like I could almost touch the ceiling–that’s autumn. Autumn is full of memores that wrap around you like a old, warm quilt made from blue cotton memories.

bigsnowtreesWhen autumn comes, I pull out my very favorite autumn children’s book, “When will the Snow Trees Grow?” by Ben Shecter. The little guys and I wrap up in our blankets, snuggle up with some hot chocolate for them and warm apple cider for me.  Because the “lemonade isn’t as sweet.”  The blankets feel just right.  And the wind rustles around the house trying to find a way inside. Shector poignantly shows how tastes and needs evolve with the seasons.

 English Ghost storiesAnother favorite book pulled out, for the older, more adventuruous among us is The Oxford English Edition of Classic Ghost Stories.  The stories collected in these pages are to horror movies what Belgian truffles are to cheap chocolate. No gimmicks, just stories passed own through folklore, sprung out of supersitition, imagination, and a dark night.  It is one of my husband’s favorite books to read, too  I heartily enjoy it, but don’t like reading it if he is out of town–BOO!

ciderOf course, since lemonade doesn’t taste as sweet, it’s time to pull out the crock pot and stir up some mulled apple cider, topped with homemade whipped cream and Starbucks Caramel Sauce. My favorite hot chocolate recipe is the way my aunt used to make it when I’d spend the night.  Milk warmed with Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa and made just like it says on the back of the box:


  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • Homemade whipping cream


  1. Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn’t scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature. Top with real homemade whipping cream. 


smoremakerOne of my favorite parts about autumn will be different this year.  For years, the boys and the neighborhood kids would stop by in the midst of their afternoon play, no matter how cold the weather.  I would pull out my S’More indoor grill. The gaggle would pull up the stools to the counter, and S’More Snacks for everyone-a regular autumn event! The neighborhood kids might be in another state, but the S’More Maker is with me! 

The weather is cooling, the trees green, but have a washed out look about them.  The sky feels like it is starting to press downward.  The quilts feel snugglier.  I’m getting thirsty for some yummy cider.  The urge to curl up with a book that will make my hair stand on end, no matter how many times I read the stories, beckons, and, for some reason, the color orange is my very favorite color right now, a fiery, pumkiny orange. My scardy cat seems a little braver, her coat a little darker for some reason.

I so love the Fall!

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masterdetectiveMy youngest has a solution to his Dad’s snorning.  While he’s sleeping, dress him up as a racoon, and carry him outside. What a solution!  I can’t stop visualizing that.

However, most problems that need solving cannot be done with such cute, creative fixes. Some problems take years to resolve.  Why?  For some reason, we have to walk down that path, study the problem, try varying solutions, search for clues.

A dog-with a bone, never-give-up, always-reaching-for-resolution attitude.  When I took this job as “Hey, Mama,” I had no idea of the high-level problem solving skills that would be required.  I probably wouldn’t have applied if I had known.  How many of you would have run screaming?  No, don’t raise your hands.

However, on the day my first son was born, something inside me was born, too.  God’s pretty amazing.  He doesn’t let us realize all the abilities He stuffed inside us all at one time.  It is almost as though there are boxes and boxes of amazing gifts, like on Christmas, all wrapped up.  Except, we don’t unwrap them until we need them.

It’s almost like on the Wizard of Oz when the Great Oz presents the scarecrow with a sheet of paper:

Wizard of Oz:: Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitartus Committiartum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of ThD.
Scarecrow: ThD?
Wizard of Oz: That’s… Doctor of Thinkology”(Wizard of Oz).

RumpoleProblem Solving?  Unraveling mysteries, deciphering handwriting, solving a riddle.  Sherlock Holmes, watch out, Ms. Marple, step aside. Rumpole, it’s not your turn..  The Great Mommy Detective – that’s me.

I’ve solved the following mysteries:

The Case of the Missing Turtle Head

The Case of the Missing Homeschool Work,

The Case of the Missing Ice Cream,

The Mystery of the Missing Words

The Case of the Missing Cell Phone,

The Case of the Missing Fire in the Belly for Life,

The Case of Not Being Able to Pass an Open Book Test,

The Mystery of the Big Kitchen Mess

The Case of Not Following Directions,

The Case of Sitting on the Bench,

The Mystery of the Door Knock

The Case of the Stalking Stomach Ache,

The Case of the Missing Passing Grade, 

The Case of the Sore Knees and Feet,

The Missing Thin Mint Mystery

The Return of the Stalking Stomach Ache,

The Case of the Son who Would not LISTEN to Lectures,

The Case of the Missing Child

The Case of the Problem Logic Couldn’t Solve,

The Case of the Missing Facial Cleanser,

The Missing Sub Sandwich Mystery

The Case of the Empty Laundry Detergent Bottle,

The Case of the Stinky Feet

The Great Christmas Present Mystery

The Case of the Missing Dr. Pepper Inside the Bottle

The Case of the Blown Transmission

The Case of the Mysteriously Appearing Tinkle on the Toilet

However, I cannot take credit for the trickiest mysteries.  In the most difficult cases-I was just the ghost writer for God. After I had collected all the information, stacked up all the clues, consulted with specialists, I found myself missing the key information that would solve the mystery. I had followed all the leads, logically approached the problem from every angle.

No, I didn’t pick up the phone.  I dropped to my knees, bowed my head, and through my tears, gave the case to God.

He has people. When He sends His people, problems get solved.

From 1st to 6th grade, one son had a stomach ache that grew and grEW and GREW.  In 3rd grade, we sent him to one children’s hospital for tests. “Just give him more fiber,” they said.  So I did, and chocked it full of chocolate, so he’d eat more.

We spent 3 hours a night just to help this son who had once been an top student make Cs.  He ran more and more like his great-granny ran, this one son who had run like a gazelle.  The 6-pack he had been born with disappeared.  A haunted look appeared on his face.

In 6th grade, his pediatrician did an x-ray and ultra-sound.  Nothing.  “It must be in his head,” I was told.  I was angry, angry at my son because he was either lying to me and at the pain, because if it were real that meant there was a problem.

I literally wanted to punch a hole in a wall. How emasculating to be a woman and not be able to do that!

Instead, at 4 p.m. in the afternoon one late Spring day, I dropped to my knees.  I prayed, “You know what is in him God.  You put it there.  You planned his days before he was born.  YOU know what is going on.  YOU know what he needs.  YOU know the solution.”  And I cried.

Three days later, I was talking to someone at his school about the pain. Sometimes, when God is moving, you end up telling people your need story.  While you’re telling it, you wonder, “Why am I doing this?  Why can’t I stop this?”  Because, for that day, that person is one of God’s people He sends to give the key to unlock the mystery.  She gave me the name of a doctor her daughter used.

Sitting in his office 2 weeks later, the nurse asked, “On a level of one to 10, what would you say your pain level was?”

painscale“Nine,” he answered.

When she left the room, I said, “Really? You’re a nine.  One more and you’d want to go to the hospital?”

“Yes,” he said.  His answer humbled me.

When the doctor came in, he pushed around his stomach.  At one point, my son about came off the table.

The doctor informed us that where the pain was located was not an area where “in the head” pain occurred.  I hadn’t even said anything about that.  He scheduled a scope.

He had esophagitus.  Where some people have really bad acid reflux, others have pain that resembles pain from a  heart attack, which is what he was having.  Imagine, you ladies out there, having severe menstrual cramps 7 days a week.  It would wear you down, be difficult to concentrate at school, interfere with you athletic ability, and give you a haunted look.

They put him on Nexium.  He cannot have chocolate, caffein, or mint. The pain went away, but the real work was ahead. The re-emergence of my son began.  He had to rebuild his strength, re-learn how to run, and re-build his grades.  His teachers were amazed at the difference in the boy who came to class.  He greeted them with a smile, participated, led.

This was one of my biggest mystery cases.  However, I cannot take credit for resolution.  I have to give that credit to The Master Detective, God. Thank you, God!


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“Jump a Fence

Climb a Tree

Homespun, he is Free”

from Blackberry Roland, by Blue Cotton Memory

Caleb joyful

Some people bring home their babies from the hospital, or the cabbage patch, or foreign countries. We got ours to-go from OutBack.

Caleb in Bag 001

Caleb in Hat 001

Caleb and Balloons 001

Caleb in Wagon - Winter 001


My Birthday Prayer

God knows the gifts

He put within you

the strength of which you are capable

the dreams taking root and growing

He knows the challenges you will


the battles you will


or walk away from

His Angels encamp about you

protect you

He has Godly friends who will lift you up when


fall down

He knows the desires of your heart

the tasks for which you were made

the girl you will marry

I thank God that you were born

in a land of freedom

where you are free to pray

free to worship

free to love God


free to say, “Do you know Jesus?  Let me tell

you how He saved my life”

Free to let others know


the love of Jesus

either through writing,






Free to be who God created you to be

Thank you, God,

for our son!


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Swine Flu has turned a family member into a boarish-feeling, snout-snuffling, grunting, hacking, coughing, retching statistic of a media-hyped illness.   How to turn this Swine Flue victim back into an up-right walking, clean-nose, easy breathing, content-containing-stomach owning homosapien?  A Harry Potter Spell?  Rabbit hair and dirt stirred into a paste and rubbed across the forehead?  Definitely not.

 Media coverage has bumped this flu up there with the plague.  “It’s not as bad as the yearly flu,” medical personel said. H1N1 tests are now only given to health care personal, prison inmates, and pregnant woman. Medical personel said only 40% of the H1N1 tests were correct.  By the time a positive result is received, it is too late for Tamiflu.  The Type A flu test is the alternative for the comman man.  Our Swine Flu victim literally hurled to a positive. Bingo!

I am rather piggish when it comes to my personally-developed household Illness Protocol. Quiet, Please!  No squealing  or complaining.  Just follow the mom-established guidelines for disease control.

  • Go to the doctor
  • Earn a positive test result
  • Fill prescription for Tamiflu and what other recommended meds
  • Tuck the patient in bed for a long nap
  • Make Swine Flue Soup!
  • Coat Lysol on all household surfaces
  • Wash hands as though you were a surgeon

All 5 boys love this recipe.  I have served it at church functions where everyone was supposed to bring a pot of soup.  Everyone raved so much over the soup that I almost felt guilty.  The recipe is incredibly simple, but good to the last drop. You’ll have your Swine Flu victim turned back to normal soon enough.  It might take awhile for the snout to disappear, though.

  • 100_2482Simmer one chicken in a soup pot with celery.  Puree the celery in the food processor if you want your kids to eat all the soup and not leave little green chunks.  Add salt and pepper while simmering.




Remove chicken from pot.  While cooling, add 1 family-size can of Cream of Mushroom Soup.  Stir until blended. 




100_2485Add spaghetti or bow-tie pasta.  Chop chicken while the soup simmers.  Add to pot. Soon you will hear slurping and spoons scraping the bottom of the bowl, in addition to voices asking, “May I have some more?”  Afterwards, wrap up in a quilt and sleep off that dead boar of a flu!

A serious word of caution:  One member of our family had it before the second member was diagnoses.  We had no idea the first family member even had the flu.  We thought he had a cold.  He plays a lot of sports, runs hard, and sometimes experiences nauseau after exercise.  Another athlete on the team had the flu previously.   Though H1N1 is not dangerous to healthy people, it is dangerous to those with reduced immunity, like cancer patients, people with asthma, and our elderly.  Take care of them!


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My aunt was so proud of my pickles and preserves that she entered them into the state fair.  My big head was brought down to size when we discovered the difference between county and state fairs. At the county fair, the judges didn’t taste the preserves.  Mine were just the prettiest.  At the state fair, they tasted.  Mine didn’t win. This goes to show beauty only counts in county fairs and beauty pagents!  It’s what’s inside that counts!

Blackberry Hand-me Downs

By Maryleigh at Blue Cotton Memory

“Hand me down some summertime, Darlin’,”

asks breakfast table relations,

“Some of that blackberry summer time.”

“Blackberry jams all gone,” comes the answer

“All Gone till summer time.

When berry time comes, I’ll preserve


some summer time.”

drops of lemon and sugar pounds,

bitter-sweetened blackberries

picked in the chilled sweat

of morning’s summer sun

oozes juice



a cotton apron.

sweetly to syrup it cooks


to the rumbling Galaxy fan

blowing hotness

against salty sweat that balls

like candy


down flushed cheeks.

stirring carefully,

sometimes carelessly

damp hands swat flies

and the noon siren hollers from town

as shoes stick to the jelled linoleum.




hot clean Mason jars and

settle in a water bath.

tidy up

cool down

fish out

jars glisten on cheesecloth rows

lined like plowed fields

in pink watermelon prints

and in the falling of the day

when shades are pulled

dry coolness draws heat

from sweaty skin twitching

to a tin beat




sealed and saved

until little and b ig

voices around the breakfast table say,

“Hand me down some of that Summer Time.”

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Charles Dickens in an author that inspired me.  I wanted to grow up and be the female Charles Dickens.  That is when I was in high school.  I loved the books, but I didn’t realize the political significance of his books.  He wrote with a mission to make social improvements in society. I loved the stories, not really the things that made him great.

I admired him so much, I named a cat after him.  Since then, all our cats are named after authors or literary characters.

My sons loathe Dickens.  “It’s old English,” my oldest son said when he had to read The Christmas Carroll in the 8th grade. 

Exasperated and amused, I replied, “You couldn’t read old English.  It looks like a foreign language.  Dickens in modern English.”  Then we spent a couple of hours alternating the pages, reading together.  It is one of those wonderful mom-son moments is a memory favorite.

My second son had to read A Tale of  Two Cities.  The detail about did him in. I patiently explained that 19th century writing was the television of today.  The authors had to visually create scenes, not with a camera or a paint brush, but with words.

Dickens today is not read like it was delivered to its audience.  It was delivered  in monthly or weekly installments. It was not meant to be read over the weekend. 

Reading Dickens needs to be approached one should appraoched eating a Chocolate Celebrate Cake or a Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake-You don’t eat it all in one day.  Like a rich dessert, Dickens literature, too, is rich.  Too much too soon leaves one feeling woosy and over-whelmed.  Just like too much can turn you away from a particular desert for the rest of your life, so can too much of  Dickens at one time.

It would be wonderful if classrooms today delivered Dickens, Vicgtor Hugo, and Alexander Dumas in installments.  I would truly enjoy a monthly magazine that did just that.  Barnes and Noble has reproduced in comic-book form, early 20th century books of Hugo.  How exciting!  I remember seeing those books in my grandmother’s house as a child.  I loved them.

Dickens seems to have a message for different parts of my life.  In the acknowledgements of my Masters thesis, I used the following quote that is a response to another writer who sent him a manuscript asking, “Do I have any writing ability?” Dickens responded, by demuring: who was he to judge because “for all I know the land is yours by right.”  That was my response to the professor who had said I had no creative ability whatsoever.  If a great, classic author wouldn’t sever the heart of a dream from the person, why should a professor?

Dickens books are classic because they are filled with the wonderfulness of humanity.  The corruption of humanity he shows is the foil to that goodness.  As a result, we can better see the difference between evil and goodness.

My most favorite Dickens quote is from a Mary Englebreit card given to me when one of my sons was born:  “It is no small thing, when they who are so fresh from God, love us”(Dickens). It is on my bathroom mirror.

When my children are “so fresh from God,” they love unconditionally.  Love trumps all!

How they wrap their arms around your neck,

press a kiss against your cheek,

snuggle up for a feel-better moment

or just because they are bursting with love

“Will you marry me, Mom?”

“Sing to me, mom?”

Pray for me, mom?

Make everythign better, mom?

We are born trusting our parents. Why? Because when we are so fresh from God, we only know goodness, hope, and love.  That freshness fades, tarnishing a bit throught the teens, disappears during the college years when they are too intelligent to love without thinking.  They think love more than feel love-at least where the parents are concerned.

I guess that is one of the silver linings to having a bunch of children.  When the oldest is a little too jaded, a little to intellectual to love so unconditionally, you have a little one who loves so freshly, so unconditionally in such an I’m-still-fresh-from-God kind of love!

I still love Dickens, but now I know why! I bought 8 copies of A christmas Carrol for all of us to read before Christmas this year!  Can you hear the boys cheering with excitement?

Yes, I realize the experience will be like pulling a mule into the glue factory; however, I think it will create a memory they will never forget, and they will reluctantly love it, though they would never admit it!



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100_2450Feathering the nest–twig by twig.  The front door might be different.  The path to the bathroom might require an alternate.   Different rooms with different colors. Home, but not home.  However, I have a recipe for making Home.

The boys still cannot find “stuff.”  I put the toothpaste in their bathroom, but they couldn’t see it in the top drawer.  As a result, they stole mine.  That’s some boy-raising at-home behavior. I’ve always said that the difference between a man and a woman is a man can find anything thing that moves, hence the hunter.  The woman can find anything that stays still, hence the gatherer.

However, slowly I have been unpacking home.  The blankets are pulled out and ready to wrap for a snuggle.  My favorite Key Lime candle scent fills the kitchen.  Narcissus Paperwhite wafts from my bedroom. And I prayed!  I prayed for my sons, my home, my husband, and me!

The boys came home to dinner, chicken, rice, broccoli, and carrots, followed by ice cream and cookies fresh out of the oven.  The little guys aren’t quite comfortable in their room yet, so I pulled out a few songs at bedtime: Simple Gifts, Holy and Annointed One, Away in a Manger, Think of Me, Ten in the Bed, and Blue Eyes (by me for my son). They drifted off to sleep peacefully.

Last weekend, we put in a few movies, Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland and Abbott and Costello.  Laughter filled the house!

Then we set about to make memories.  We took the boys to The Pinnacle, a place where my husband and I used to hike B.C. (Before Children). 


This view was even more beautiful because it gave me an excuse to lay down on a bench, suck in ozygen, and give my screaming legs a rest.


Four little feet sitting all in a row!


Hiking up that hill surely symbolized the journey of our move: the pain of toiling, the beauty of the results007

Faithful was worried the others would fall.  He was probably worried he would, too! The line, “Mom, Really? Is this really worth a picture?” Meaning the possibility of one hurtling over the edge.016

There used to be a crooked tree the boys loved at our other house. What a nice connection!


What a view!


What a memory!

Afterwards, we went to my favorite pizza restaurant.  We hadn’t been there is over 20 years.  Around the table at Papalenos Italian Restaurant , we broke the pizza bread, shared the slices, resting, finding humor, solidifying our family roots by making memories, passing the hot pepper and cheese, tenderly re-planting family roots gently pulled.

The Recipe for Home

A heep of prayer

Platefulls of food

A pinch of scents that smell like home

Snuggly Blankets

Memory Making Adventures



A front door, or a side door, that says, “Welcome!”

Thanks for all your prayers during this Big Change!  They have sustained me, given me courage, and filled me with joy!



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Someone said the two most stressful events in a person’s life are weddings and moves.  My son married in June in an outdoor, 102 degree weather. Yesterday, we packed up 80 percent of our belongings, said good-bye to my son, small-town paradise, great friends, and hauled ourselves to a new home town.  It’s my husband’s hometown. We lived there for about 8 years after we married, but after 18 years, it’s new.

Why leave Paradise, you might ask.

My answer: because God said, “Go.”

Just because God said, “Go” does not make the going easier.  However, I want my “Go” to be a faith go, not a grumbling go like the children of Israel when they left Egypt.  God had so much blessing planned for His children, but when the going got tough, their faith in God’s plan got going–in the opposite direction of where God wanted them to go.

I can see where God positioned our lives for the last two years, preparing us for this move.  My junior wanted to move last summer, and, by George, he was going to move up here when he turned 18 and graduate, with or without us.  I asked him if he had prayed about that decision.  He said, “God said,’Go.'”  Of course, now he changed his mind.  I laughingly told him, “This is all your fault.  You’re the one who prayed for this move.”  He wasn’t amused.

My mom asked, “Are you still moving? Your house hasn’t sold.  I don’t think this is a good idea.”

God said, “Go.”  He’ll take care of the house selling.  He provides for all our needs on the journey to which he He called us.

The job–do you both have jobs?  Last summer, we bought a business, The Original Hotkaps.  This was supposed to be my “job.” 

Well, my husband’s business decided to move all of North American engineering to Detroit.  We didn’t want to raise our boys there.  A similar company move to Detroit prompted us to take a job in Paradise 18 years ago. My business became the family business. The Martha Stewart Show beautifully showcased our product in April.  What an encouraging experience.  It was like God saying, “You’re going in the right direction.”

St. Augustine said in his book City of God that challenges come both to the pagan and the Christian.  The only difference is how Christians handle those challenges.

We started positioning for the move over Spring Break, touring the schools, meeting the counselors, filling out forms and creating information folders.  On our last day of school, we carried transcripts and folders 3 hours away to officially register our 4 boys for school before their year ended. Then the challenges began:

Challenge 1:  It took 6 weeks for our junior to be declared eligible to play sports.  He had to watch while his freshman brother tried out and practiced for the soccer team. They keep forgetting about the freshman.  He wasn’t on the roster, no schedule, the folder disappeared.  Who is he?

Really,God?  Still “Go?”

Challenge 2:  We are looking for a rental house.  We want to build on his grandmother’s farm.  Sadly, a tornado took all the house rentals off the market, filling them with victims.  We saw houses that smelled of dog urine, houses that were too small, houses too expensive.  We found 3 different houses.  They quoted us one price before we looked, and then increased the price when we said, “We’ll take it.”

Are you sure, God?  Still “Go?”

Challenge 3:  We found a house to rent–a potentially wonderful house.  The owner bought it in foreclosure and is waiting for the market to turn around, increasing his investment.  He rented it for a year.  A second renter lasted 2 weeks-until she discovered the man she was to move in with was married.  She left a heap of trash on the driveway, a heap of trash in the house. 

The day of our walk-through, the day before we were scheduled to move in, the trash hadn’t moved, a water leak in the master bedroom had just been replastered, the finished basement was still wet from an air-conditioning leak, there were still huge holes in the walls from pictures and curtain rods.  The stairwell wall, which you see coming in, was filthy. 

My fifth grader balked.  His stomach threatened to heave.  He couldn’t find a clean toilet(there were 4) in the house.  Have you ever seen the scene in the movie with Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice where she had to use an RV bathroom on the interstate?  The sounds emitting from that RV?  I was living that moment with my 5th grader.  Then he said, “I don’t like this house. It scares me.” 

Challenge 4:  We loaded up our house this weekend, moving the stuff that makes my house my home.  The beds, the blankets (I washed them all before we moved), the smells (my favorite candles), the comfy couch–all of it!  They keep changing our move-in date.  It was supposed to be last Friday.  Then Tuesday.  Now Wednesday, but they cannot confirm whether morning or night.

Still “Go?”

Challenge 5:  Today was the first day of school.  No pictures yet.  I can’t find my camera.  My 5th grader cried when he climbed in the car after school.  My shiny new 3rd grader tried to encourage him (see about mourning): “I miss my friends inside,” he told his older brother. “But on the outside, I’m making new friends. All you do is say, “Hi, what’s your name?” And then he went on and on while his brother’s face got redder, his eyes welled more, and a few sobs burst out.  

God, now my son is crying?  I feel as lost as he does at times. I’ve cried a lot, too. Still, “Go?”

Challenge 6: Friday night, I sat with my son and his wife at the one of the eclectic coffee shops on the town square of Paradise: watching the traffic, calling greetings to people we knew, sipping a Chocolate Decadence frappe, talking about life with my oldest son.  He’s staying in Paradise, unless God calls him out. No coffee shops to share a cup of Joe with my peeps in the new town.

Really, God?  Leave my son?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”(Jeremiah 29:11).

I couldn’t do this without God.  I couldn’t have left if God hadn’t said, “Go.”  I can because God takes care of his kids, especially when He says, “Go.”

However, and this is the point of my post, I BELIEVE!

Matthew 17:20 says the following: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Speaking Faith moves the mountain.  Because I spoke faith, my 4thson was born healthy and whole.  Because I spoke the promises of God, my 3rd son was healed from a stomach problem. Because I was faithful to God’s promises, He sent me a wonderful husband.

I am not going to say,”Life sucks!” 

I am going to say, “God so blesses my life.  I thank you God that you have everything taken care of.  I thank you that you have friends for my sons who will lift them up when they fall down.  You have friends waiting for me, just like that, too.  I thank you Father that my house is ready.  It will be a warm, secure home where my boys can find rest, encouragement, and hospitality.  I thank you Father that our business will be blessed, that you guide my husband, giving him wisdom in building this dream of his.  I thank you that I haven’t lost faith in people. I thank you that Paradise is where you want me to be!  I thank you that you have the plan for my family under control.  I thank you that you know what my 5th grader needs. I thank you that you will give him the strength to hold the tears in so he won’t cry in front of the class.  I thank you that he loves us enough to share those fears with us.  I thank you that we are blessed!

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7-24-2007-030Experience allows a more 20/20 perspective on behavior. Otherwise, the other night, I probably would have notched my stress level to Red Alert, incited an inquisition and reduced my little guy to tears. As a matter of fact, he was disappointed I didn’t make him cry.

I was snuggled in a blanket reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  Whenever life gets a little stressful, I succumb to 19th century literature.  Nineteenth Century lit always has a happy ending.  Last week, I finished Jane Austin’s Persuasion to assuage my stress.  We are physically moving our household this weekend to another state.  School starts Monday.  We’ve been living with my lovely in-laws on and off during the summer, getting the boys moved up for their sports activities.  I’m sure I’m going to need another dose of Austin before the next week is out!

My little guy, the Human Resource Department of the family, entered. “Mom,” he said. “I gotta tell you something.”

“Oh, what have you got to tell me,” I asked.  I could pull out a folder a mile long on “I gotta tell you something.”  This folder could boast of owls in the yard, snakes on the living room floor, the family room on fire, a project due tomorrow, broken dishes, spilled drinks, or just simply, “I love you.”  I was hoping for “I love you.”

“I’ve been saying bad words,” he answered.

Shew!  I’ve been here before. I can handle this. I set my book down, asking, “When did you say these bad words?”

“Well, I know about 2 or 3.  But I didn’t know they were bad when I said them,” he explained, in a matter of fact voice.

“When did you say these bad words?” I repeated, reigning in the conversation, my information-gathering detective mode kicking in.

100_1225_0042“Well, one was a very long time ago,” and then he rambled on a bit about the others.  I wasn not about to ask him what the words were.  I could guess.  Reducing him to embarrassed giggles by making him recite them would detract from the message.  Besides, if he is not supposed to say them, asking him to do so somewhat defeats that directive.

“If you know they’re bad words, then don’t say them again. O.K.,” I instructed. 

He waited, looked a little crestfallen. “Are you going to spank me?” he asked.

“No.  Not if you don’t say the words again.  You know the right thing to do,” I assured him.

“Can I pretend to cry, go upstairs to [Fire and Power], and tell him you spanked me,” he asked, hopeful. After all, he had a plan.  It looked like the plan began and ended with him pulling a prank on his brother, not true despair and repentance over word choice.

“Do we need to talk about truth-telling and lying now?” I asked, trying to pierce him with my sternest look.

It probably didn’t end that way when the first and second son came in years ago, saying the same thing.  I probably made more out of it than I should have. Some things don’t change: Same conversation, different sons.  8830976-R1-042-19AIt is part of growing up, learning to decipher good behavior choices from bad.  They just want reassurance they know the right choices, the right language from the wrong.  My oldest son says that I am easier on the younger ones than I was on him.  I think I am a little wiser in how I handle parenting challenges. For example, subtle pressure verses lowering the boom can be quite powerful. 

Funny how little moments like that, spiced with some pure mischievousness can lighten your heart and reduce your stress better than a good 19th century classic!

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My very favorite niece advised me to keep posts short. Perceiver of Truth will tell you that if you want a quick answer, don’t go to mom.  If you want to sit down, savor a conversation, talk detail, then I’m the go-to mom.  There’s a sign on my porch that says, “Sit Long. Talk Much.” At 40, I learned to love who God made me to be.  “Sit Long. Talk Much”–that’s me.

I did shorten my last piece.  Really!  I did. Today’s post is the edited portion from “Whatever You do, Do with All Your Might.”  I really did try to sit long, post little.

Let’s finish my discussion on working. Instilling a great work ethic in our children gives them wings to soar. Let me be very clear here.  I am not saying that I have successfully instilled a great work ethic in my children.  It is a work in progress.  I don’t know if what I’m doing is right.  All I know is that I have to step forward in faith one day at a time, make the best decisions with the information I have, and plant seeds-verbally, through my example, and what I culturally bring into our sphere.

However, I want to take “Working with All Your Might” two steps further.  First, we need to define work.  Work is any task to which hands are put. 

Work comes in at least 2 categories; tasks that are a chore: a burden, grind, trail.  It is part of the rat race, not who we are or how we define ourselves. Chores are defined as unstimulating, demeaning, trash-talking opportunities accompanied by a little whine.  After all, chores are “not who we are.”

Work can also be a “career” or a hobby by which we define ourselves, like a badge that boasts of talent, work ethic, success.  Can you say “Career” and not smile? Or think the name of your hobby and not eagerly anticipate?

Biblically, there is no differentiation between chore, career, or hobby.  We are encouraged to do our best, to work with all our might.

Not only does God want us to work with all our might at whatever we happento be do, but He wants our work to be praise:

“In all that you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for me”(Colossians 3:23)

Able offered the firstborn of his flock-considered the best he had to offer (Genesis 4:4). Second-best offerings resulted in punishment, a lack of favor.

Abraham offered to sacrifice the desire of his heart, his dream (Genesis: 22).  Sacrificial offerings were never second best.  God offered his perfect son.  He didn’t change the rules of sacrificial offering for Him–He was the example for us to follow.

We have only ourselves to offer God.  That part of ourselves includes the work of our hands, hands dipped in the kitchen sink, folding laundry, fingers typing words of encouragement or relating a hilarious story, hands driving, or creating beautiful cards, scrapbooks, delicious recipes, weeding the walkway, rubbing lotion on poison ivy.

How can work be a trudge when we are offering that work as praise?  Does that change what you think about your “chores?”  While sitting here typing, my kitchen says, “No–there’s definitely no work as praise going on in here right now.”  The laundry room–imagine my laundry–instead of saying, “It’s a curse” (remember, what you speak is what you get) “I’m going to walk the talk this next week.

Doing my best for God!.  It might not be perfect, but I’m going to try my best at whatever I turn my hand to as a gift to God saying, “Thank You for all You have done for me.”

Maybe I will develop a better example for my sons to follow. Maybe that is how to successfully plant a strong work ethic in my sons!

Special thanks to Mummy McTavish for posting a note.  Her comment gave me the encouragement I needed to complete my discussion.  Visit her at samster-dot-com.blogspot.com.

*I would have taken pictures of my kitchen, but my camera is packed for our BIG MOVE this weekend to a whole new frontier!



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When you are the mother of 5 sons, inevitably, the question is asked, “Do you want any more children. . . . maybe a girl?”

The anwer?  I have taught all my sons to read and swim.  If I had one more, he/she would be illiterate and drown. 

Still, school is starting.  My White Board Calendar is expanding its usage this year: the place for my high school students to record their academic assignments.  Hopefully, that will create a more organized, focused work ethic.

The dog days of summer lead to full backpacks, lunchboxes filled with mama’s love, pens, pencils, paper, binders, and homework.  School has the potential to be so much more than the tools of school.

Why is it the addage, “Oh, honey, just do your best,” sounds like “Aw, I realize you really can’t do better, so you don’t have to try so hard.” Listen the next time someone says that.  Are they really promoting someone doing their best work?

I realize different children have different gifts.  I realize not every gift turns into an Einstein, Margaret Thatcher, Steve Jobs, Emeril, Mother Teresa, or Billy Graham.   However, we are called to be all that Christ has called us to be:

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be”(Psalm 139: 14-16)

Each of us arrive in the world with a plan, designed for joy and fulfillment, a job, a tool box with God-designed tools to help us in our journey, and one awesome safety net.  However, a couch-potato-mentality can interfere with God’s plan for our lives and our children’s lives.

Taking God out of education takes holistic purpose out of education.  When your job is just a job, where’s the nobleness, the drive.  When your job is God-inspired, your talent God-given, and your success a result of God Faith, your job becomes more than a job.

An engineer doesn’t just create cars or iPods for entertainment.  An engineer creates jobs that give families the means to feed, clothe, support, and grow secure families.  If you only see yourself as the engineer, you don’t see God’s plan for you.  If you see the effect of a job well done, then you start getting the idea.

Neither me nor my children have to be an Einstein, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, or Billy Graham to impact others. Someone who helps just one person is just as noble as the one who  helps one thousand. However, we are to fully use the gifts God placed in us to the fullest of our abilities.

Disappointingly, what I have seen in the classroom and, at times, in my own children is a take-for-granted attitude about who they are in Christ and how that affects them in the classroom.  They are willing to talk the talk but not walk the talk.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecc 9:10) is the motto I hope to instill in my children. 

In my college classroom, Christian students enter, itching for an opportunity to evangelize the radical left faculty.  Sadly, their witness leaves them open for derision and tags of hypocrisy.  When a Christian student comes to class habitually late,  comes un-prepared for in-class work, doesn’t spell-check, or follow directions, that behavior erodes the strength of their witness. 

Work ethic is a reflection of Christ in you.  Maybe you don’t have the skill to write an A essay, but you do have the skill to come on time, prepared, and the work ethic to learn.  I would rather have a student with a strong work ethic in my class than a student with tremendous ability.  Work ethic trumps ability any time.

My oldest son struggled with pre-calculus. “I’m just not good at it anymore,” he bemoaned.  The excuse sounded great, but that is what it was–an excuse to back down from the challenge.

God gives us gifts.  In our strength areas, our gift areas, those gifts carry us for a certain amount of time.  For some, math might be easy early on, or reading, or language; however, at some point, the gift no longer carries. In order to take that gift to the next level, work ethic needs to be applied.

Yes, whatever you do, do it with all your might = work ethic for the successful.

Frustration, the spice of motherhood!  Some of the boys chose to work hard.  Some needed to be prodded.  Some needed help learning how to work hard. Frustration is an inward signal, a warning sign that modification needs to be made.  Frustration prompts me to look for alternate solutions to challenges.  We would just sail right on, not realizing our children needed adjustment or that we need to adjust ourselves.

100_2157Seed planting is how I look at it.  Hopefully, those seeds will grow and one day blossom to a healthy harvest.  Healthy Harvests are so incredibily beautiful.

Work Ethic is the key to success.  Work Ethic dedicated to God unlocks blessing, growing good things within our souls.

Blessings on the start of your school year!

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mlkeith2Twenty-six years of marriage!  Set off the fireworks: some sparklers, Roman candles, poppers and snaps, ground spinners!

According to statistics on children of divorce, I should be a mess: addicted to drugs, a college drop-out, and divorced, too.  My brother and I should be shorter than our projected heights, also, according to another source(I will update my sources once I unpack them from our move). 

Sadly, statistics don’t include the God-Factor!  It’s such a shame that God is barred from schools.  Someone who grew up in the same denomination I did once claimed he grew up in a “dead church.”  His parents weren’t divorced.  As a result, he wasn’t compelled to call out to God for help.  Maybe when you don’t need God, you don’t realize  how alive He is.

However, my parents were divorced.  At school, we had Bible class daily, attended a weekly service, and were allowed to pray in the sanctuary during recess.  When you are little, confused, and hurting, God is a big protector.  I cried out.  He answered.  God never fails.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”(Jeremiah 29:11)

How many children and teens are confused, hurting, and stressed–they don’t know God, they don’t know He protects, that He offers a way out of their dysfunction?  When God stands with you, you don’t become a statistic!

mlkeithI’ve mentioned in a “What Do I Think about Her” about praying for God to show me the man I was to marry.  When God provides, He provides the best! 

“Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”(Matt 9:29)

My husband is definitely the Elkanah to the Hannah I so want to be. I just want to share with you the top-ten reasons why I so adore my husband as much or more than I did 26 years ago:

1)He loves me unconditionally!

2)Five children later, quite a few pounds later, he still thinks I’m beautiful!

3)He encourages my dreams!

4)He’s so dog-gone wise.  I wish I could carry him around in my pocket and pull him out when I need a really wise response!

5)He is strong!

6)He is an awesome father to his sons!

7)He is calm in the face of adversity

8)He is impressed with my dog-with-a-bone attitude about problem solving whether it is with my boys or trying to get Wal-Mart and Kroger to cover  Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazines. I don’t think my boys should read verbal porn in the check-out aisle.

9)He is a Faith man who loves God

10)He has such a boyish sense of humor that brings such joy to my day!

11)I still love his ankles!–Yes, I said that! I think love includes all that is noble in a person but include eclectic elements that add appeal to the entire package. 

 I love that he loves his mama and respects his dad.  I love that one of his favorite books is one I gave him years ago, The Oxford English Edition of Classic Ghost Stories. I am amazed that he still loves me when we argue!

IMG_6850I love that my happiness doesn’t depend on him.  It is not his  job to fetch and carry buckets of happiness to me, filling me like an insatiable flower pot, demanding servitude.  You wouldn’t expect your girl BFF to do that. I’d be pretty miserable if I relied on someone else to keep me happy.  My happiness depends on God.  That sure takes a lot of pressure off our relationship and creates healthy expectations in our relationship.

I love that I will grow old with him.

When God answers prayers, He blesses abundantly! I am looking forward to another 53+ years with My Knight in Shining Armor!

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A mom’s birthday is so different from the parties planned for a mom’s child.  As a mom, I gather my sons’ friends, design a cake that will inprint in their memory, fill up water balloons until my fingers are sore, puzzle over party favors that are cost efficient but are die-to-take-home favors.  A day of celebration, a day that hugs all around and down the years. 

Love is a determination that finds a way to re-bag   a surprise 16 party that a “friend” let out of the bag.  I’ve planned 2 surprise 16 parties.  It is so fun to be able to lie for 3 weeks about everything in a surprise party and not go to hell for it.  For example, one 16th party, I reminded my son that one set of neighbors was having a family reunion.  I was making lemon-curd meringue shell pies to help them out.  By the way, watch out for all the cars.  The reunion folk would be parking up and down the street. Not a word that was true!

My husband and I had worked out a plan. He and Perceiver of Truth were going to the movies with Perceiver’s best friend.  I was going to send out an SOS emergency call about a snake on the porch, a poisonous-looking snake.  They would return to save the fear-stricken family.  It worked out “perfectly.”  Of course, it helped that the night before, an actual snake curled up on the column of the front porch. 

My birthday, though I boast it’s the 3rd most important day of the year (after Jesus’ birth and resurrection), is filled with ecleticly mom-moments.  For example, when I was 40, I planned my own surprise party. I think my husband was the most surprised because I actually did it.  Of course, I wasn’t really surprised, but it was so fun planning it!

For two years in a row, I cancelled my birthday, rescheduling it for another day.  The boys, snarly and snipping , were in such foul moods.  One shouldn’t celebrate in the midst of such unpleasant tempers.  Birthdays should be laughing, smilling, hugging occasions. 

One year, on the way to Outback Steakhouse (so totally yum), the two littlest cried in perpetual chorus, “I want to go to O’Charley’s.  Why can’t we go to O’Charley’s?”

As we were driving closer to my happy birthday dinner, the lyrics to Rodney Atkin’s  song, “If You’re Going Through Hell” came on the radio:

“If your going through hell
Keep on going, don’t slow down
If you’re scared don’t show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you’re there

Yeah, If you’re going through hell
Keep on moving, face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you’re there”

This is a song you don’t want to live on your birthday.  However, that song is now a thread in the tapestry of my birthday memories.  Funny, my husband and I don’t have a special song, but I have a special birthday song. 

A Mama’s birthday!  How different!  Today, how perfect, in a mama-kind-of way.

We went to church.  I couldn’t have picked a sermon that I wanted to hear, or my sons to hear any better.  God did a great job planning my day.  Our minister spoke about the power of words, that what you speak is what you get.  In other words, speak Faith.  Speak God’s promises on your life! 

  • “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”(Proverbs 18:21)
  • “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (Proverbs 10:19)
  • “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight”(Pslam 19:14)
  • “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”(Ephesians 4:29)
  • “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”(Jeremiah 29:11)
  • “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life”(Proverbs 10:11)
  • “For we all stumble in many ways.  And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridlge his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.  Look at the ships also:  though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directions.  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things”(James 3:2-5)

This was accompanied by a story of one of our high school graduates who would be going to the Citadel.  Teachers and counselors told him he would never get accepted.  He applied anyway. His father finally told him, after he hadn’t had a response, to speak his Faith.  He did.  He’s going.

I’ve had so many people do the same to me.  My high school counselor and mom talked.  They decided that I should not go into journalism.  I just really did not have the talent, they said–just because your mama thinks you are good doesn’t really mean you are.  That I was editor of the school paper who earned special recognition meant nothing to them. 

I could have said, “Oh, well, you’re a failure.  They say so.”  Instead, I went to college, wrote for the local newspaper for about 2 years before I entered graduate school.

In graduate school, my thesis advisor dropped me.  He didn’t think I had it.  The graduate advisor told me I had no creative ability whatsoever. I was in the wrong area.  I was 8 months pregnant.  I went home, cried, pulled myself together, delivered a baby and an honorable mention short story in the Sigma Tau Delta national literary magazine.  I found a new thesis advisors, finished my creative thesis, and turned it in.  The Dean of the Graduate School called our department chairman, declaring it the best creative thesis that had come over her desk.

Other people’s words have the power to tear down.  However, what we speak about our gifts and ourselves, well, that is up to what comes out of our mouths.  We control that.  I am a firm believer in what you speak is what you get.  There are enough people in the world willing to stomp on dreams, without the dreamers stomping on their dreams, too!

After church, we had Chess and Checkers time.  I was soundly defeated in both by my oldest son.  I rarely lose, but having all my boys around  just playing Chess and Checkers was a win for me.

We went to my favorite restaurant, Crawdaddy’s, for my favorite meal.  No crying this time.  Sweet Sallies Bakery made my favorite chocolate ganache cupcakes ( I ordered too late for a cake), but everyone loves a cupcake. 

Not mentioned in my day was rampant house cleaning during Chess and Checkers because we’re moving, trying to sell our house, and the realtor wanted to show it during my birthday lunch.  Not mentioned was that after my birthday nap, we drove 3 hours to where we’re going to move to get things set to move at the end of the week.  A mom’s birthday is uniquely different from our children’s.

However, at the end of my uniquely perfect birthday, I sat down to write this post for Blue Cotton Memory, my dream come to life!

Thanks ladies, for making my birthday so uniquely mom-perfect!

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Health insurance has changed since my first son was born.  Each year we do pay more and more for services.  When Perceiver of Truth was born, the state of Kentucky paid for all immunizations.  When Faithful was born, I paid a $5 co-pay for each visit and immunization.  When Joyful came around, the co-pay went up.  However, when The Fire and Power of the H.S. was born, my insurance coverage went up 500%.  I was given a yearly allowance of about $200.  The first year’s worth of well-child visits and immunizations was to be over $1,000.  The insurance market and customers should evaluate better ways to insure, but I do not want my government meddling in my health care.

Let me tell you about my mother.  About 4 years ago, at Christmas time, she started smelling things, experiencing a bad taste in her mouth.  Then she’d blink out for a few minutes.  When she ate, food started dribbling down the side of her mouth.  There were 3 second pauses between words when she spoke.

Mighty Doctor, Dr. Stephen Applegate, ordered a series of tests.  They found a brain tumor the size of a golf ball.  In the process of the testing, they found a rare, slow-growing cancer in the bowel. (I say Mighty Doctor because he was.  He took care of all the women in my family until he died from Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  He was all about the fight to live).

Surgery for Mom’s brain tumor came first.  She wouldn’t have survived if they did the cancer surgery first.  They suspect the brain tumor had been slowly growing for about a decade.  However, the tumor had not only enlarged enough to cause mini-seizures and affected functioning, but growth had quickened. Surgery needed to be done quickly.

If Mom had been in Canada or Britain, obligated to their health care system, she would have died if she had to wait a month, much leass a year.

The woman who used to have Ginger Bread House Decorating Parties at Christmas,

who makes the most beautiful wreaths


who makes the most beautiful summer quilts, 

100_2362100_1798would not have been here to make my Christmas mantel look so beautiful this year

( I pick out the stuff I like, but she makes it lushly pop),

Attend my son’s wedding,

IMG_6679 copy_0041

See my son twirl me in the mother-son dance!

IMG_7040 copy_0012

Or just be my mom!


There might be glitches in the business of health care right now, but I’d prefer the government stay out of my and my families’ right to the freedom of health care.  It is the best health care in the world!  I’d rather decide if I wanted to fight to live, instead of some government official telling me to throw in the towel.

Why would a government official care whether my mom died before she was “granted” permission to even fight to live?

I’ve always said I wanted to grow old, showing my sons how to grow old loving “The Lord.”  Maybe that means being an inspiration of faith during a health struggle, allowing God to heal me through the hands of a doctor.  Maybe that means my great-grandchildren coming to visit a granny who had an indomitable spirit who wouldn’t give up, who fought the good fight, and they want some of that spirit in them.

The choice, though, is mine. The choice is my mother’s.  It is not some government bureaucrat’s choice.

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kittyWe had some difficulty. . . . keeping our pets out of heaven.

Figaro, a pretty little Beta fish, a birthday gift given to Joyful from a friend died twice. Once when Joyful was away visiting grandparents. We cheated death, though. The fish store had one that looked just like him. Joyful never knew. However, he died one Christmas when we went to visit family for a few days. Figaro had enough food. Sadly, we learned never to turn the heat down below 65 degrees when you have a pet fish.

Cozzette, Copper, Nanna, Figaro, Cleo—all our pets have been named after literary characters. We’ve debated the non-literary name, “Memore” so when the boys ask, “Do you love Memore,” I can say, “Yes.” However, the name never makes it past election day.

We had one cat who kept throwing herself on the driveway when we pulled in. She was an indoor/outdoor cat. She’d rush to the driveway, lay down and stretch, just daring us to not stop. One Sunday, a week after Easter, she flung into her driveway dare, then finally moved when she decided we wouldn’t run over her. Pulling into the garage, we paused, thinking she’d run in like usual.  Apparently she achieved her life long goal of throwing herself under the wheel.

She went to heaven.

However, one Saturday death came to call in a very surreal way.

It was a beautiful, autumn Saturday. We had been searching for Copper since the day before. Our neighbor thought our lassie dog, Copper, had been clipped by a car. We lived out in the country, so we let Copper have the run of the fields behind us. However, anything that drove down our dead-end road became part of Copper’s “herd.” He didn’t want it to leave his “boundaries.” He could run 35 miles an hour.

copperbenYou know how John Wayne was a man’s man? Well, Copper was a boy’s dog. Not only did he keep our yard cleared of snakes, opossums, and unwelcome critters, but he was a great soccer player, too. A constant companion! A bouncing mass of joy that loved nature: the birds, the deer, a butterfly. He just loved!

He taught us humbleness with our neighbors. During his first Christmas, he brought us all our neighbors’ wreaths they had placed on their windows. If he’d just brought two more, we would have had enough for ours! I guess counting wasn’t one of his strengths.

When our children went anywhere, hiking into the woods, visiting a neighbor, he was 4 steps behind them—every time!

Faithful wanted to be a vet he loved him so.

Until that autumn day in Saturday. My husband had left to coach a soccer game. I loaded up the van to take the boys and meet him when I heard this faint cry.

The sun shined through the fiery red, pumpkin orange, and burnt yellow leaves, landing on a carpet of leaves. The floor of the woods was covered in these colors. Copper blended in perfectly. That’s why we’d missed him. He couldn’t move. I couldn’t figure out to move him.

I called the vet’s emergency number. It was a Saturday, so hours were short and time expensive. I was a bundle of stress. Joyful came in, pulling on me, “Mom! Mom! You gotta see this. You gotta see what’s coming out of the woods.”

I put him off. After all, I’d seen every critter in the woods so far—the snakes, oppossums, turkeys, raccoons, flying squirrels, turtles, toads. I needed to handle this crisis.

He just wouldn’t let up, “Mom! Mom!” He was 6 then. I had a baby buckled in the van, another waiting to play a soccer game I was beginning to suspect he might miss, a severely injured pet, and he was wanting me to see some piddly thing outside?

I finished the consult with the vet and took a deep breath. Joyful just wouldn’t give an inch. “Mom! Mom! You gotta see this.”

Finally, I relented. Shaking inside because things didn’t look good for Copper, frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how to get him to the van, I stepped outside.

My jaw dropped. Stunned, I lifted the phone, hit redial, calling the vet’s emergency line again,” Hi, I’m the lady who just called with the injured collie. Well, I got an injured owl. What do I do?”

Standing by the open door to the driver’s seat stood a huge owl, mostly black, some white, its feathers all poofed out in disarray. One wing, apparently broken, seemed to be pointing to my driver’s seat, as if to say, “After you! Hurry and take me to the vet, too?”

At that moment, my neighbor’s drove by. I had fought asking them for help. It was their 50th wedding anniversary. They had out-of-town guests. I so didn’t want to be needy.

It was if God sent that owl to break me totally down. Only in the state of total broken-downness would I have asked for help. That’s a message that seared through my soul that day.

My neighbors helped put Copper on a sheet where we tucked him into the back of the van. We popped a tall, round wicker basket over the owl, nestled him next to Joyful. The owl never made a sound until the vet picked up the basket. Then you could hear the very distinct sound of his ivory beak clicking together.

The vet called later that afternoon. The state wildlife department would pay to fix and rehabilitate the owl. Copper wasn’t so lucky. They wanted $1,000 for surgery. They weren’t sure it would work. After much heart-wrenching discussion, my husband made the call to put him down.

copperben2We explained it to the Joyful and Faithful. Faithful wailed. He was nine. He got angry, stomping upstairs in emotional desolation.

Joyful followed, calling out from behind, “Mom and Dad say the vet will put Copper to sleep and then he’ll go to heaven.”

Faithful wailed louder. It was like Joyful was just tearing at his wound. It wasn’t like him to deliberately hurt someone. I called Joyful back. “How can you do that to him? That’s tearing him up.”

Then Joyful started crying. My heart just opened up. Joyful had been mourning. Only he didn’t wail, stomp, and snuffle about. Joyful released his grief through talking.

These two mourners needed to mourn separately, one emotionally pouring out their grief, one logically tackling their grief.

I learned a lot that day—about the differences in the ways people react to crisis, that making the decision to end a life is gut wrenching, and that God wants me to ditch my pride, to not wait until I reach rock bottom to ask for help.

The owl, though, he so puzzles me.

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I got the most beautiful gift hug from Mika today at Not Really Homeschooling, also known as Little Nut Tree.  Mika’s blog provides fun, easy-to-do hands-on activities for children.  She’s definitely the mom I was always trying to be when my guys were littler.  She also does it better! 

Mike has also been such a great encourager to me on this great adventure.   God always sends beautiful encouragers on our dream quests! Stop by and give her some of those  Words of Affirmation hugs that we all need!

blogaward To accept the award, I have to pass it on to 15 blogs that I have newly discovered and enjoy reading. (Oops!  I couldn’t narrow down further-I have 16).  Of course, since I’m new, all of them are newly discovered.  The blogs listed below have encouraged the mom, the girl, the writer, the cook, the home decorator, and the simply maryleigh in me.


  1.  Seasons of My Heart:  A faith blog for moms with children who are getting ready to leave the nest.  Beautiful!  Our job doesn’t end when they graduate from high school.  It’s a blog that makes motherhood seem as fresh and lively as it did when our children were 4, 6, 8, except we get to be all put together, elegant, and fresh again.
  2. It’s Almost Naptime:  Mother stories with positive, uplifting humor.  Anyone who recognizes the value of naptime has my vote any day.
  3. From the Heart: A college student presents ideas that affirm the best in their peers using solid language skills that  reach out in a lovely way!  Isn’t this what we’d like our own children to do?
  4. I Choose Bliss:  Her blog makes me smile.  It reminds me of the Quaker song, “Tis a Gift to be Simple. Tis a Gift to be Free. Tis a Gift to come down where we ought to be.”  It’s like being loved by your grandma, though she’s not a grandma. 
  5. He Gave Me A Dream:   This blog is a hand reaching out to pull you up when you’re down.  Not through humor, but through encouragement.
  6. Crown of Beauty: A Spiritual Mother kind of blog that just hugs ever so gently. 
  7. Let’s Embellish:  Artsy mom uses her art as craft for her children!  I can’t do it, but I love to look at it!
  8. Tutus Bliss:  Visually Beautiful!  Fun content!  The colors just snap, crackle, and pop .
  9. Misty Dowdy Family:  Good old family love raising two boys
  10. Smelling Coffee Today:  A heap of family, a sprinkling of good food, seasoned with Faith
  11. Cinnamon, Spice and Everything Nice:  Beautifully staged recipes that really deliver.
  12. Sunny Brook Tales:  Stories woven by a southern writer 
  13. Seedlings in Stone:  I don’t know if Seedlings in Stone really wants this.  I’ve been to craft blogs where the craft is art.  I’ve been to food blogs where food is art.    This is a blog where writing is art.  
  14. Lemonade Makin’ MamaAll about being a Mama, but, as you probably guessed, has the best lemonade recipe in the world! My boys love it!
  15. A Soft Place to Land:  This so speaks to the girl in me! 
  16. The V Files: This one is particularly close to my heart.  The author  introduced me to blogging, opening a door to make my dream a reality.

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dogThe boys found a baby turtle one day.  Wild Animal Rule #1 in our house:  If you catch it today, you have to release it tomorrow.  Wild Animal Rule #2:  Rule # 1 doesn’t include snakes.

They made a nest in a critter box, looked up what to feed the 1-2 inch little fella, and watched him.  The next day, they bravely took the turtle outside for release.  You’d thought they’d given birth to the little guy, but, as they say, “they sucked it up and were tough.”

Until they came screaming and crying through the house 5 minutes later, two boys 4 and 7, inconsolable, crying, “He killed it.  He killed it.  He bit his head off.”

dog2You can’t imagine the relief I felt when I sorted out the situation and discovered the most important factor:  Neither boy bit the head off the turtle.  The dog did.

You know when someone says you were the calm in the storm?  Well, that was me.  I looked over the turtle.  Yes, I had to touch it, pick it up, study it.  I looked in the hole where the head should have been, and dog gone, I didn’t see anything.  I couldn’t tell if something had be nipped off. . . or if it had just pulled it head back in real tight when the dog picked it up to . . . eat it?  Play with it?  Like a game of ball except with a turtle?

They were still sobbing, sniffling, moaning.  I stood their, thinking about how to bring order out of the chaos of turtle murder.  The mommy in me so wanted to fix this.  I really didn’t want to explain death then.

I sent the boys upstairs to play.  I kept the poor turtle, put him in his box, hoping that the dog didn’t really bite its head off, hoping beyond hope that the turtle only had the heebeegeebees scared out of it, and once quiet reigned, calm restored, it would pop its head out. 

 dog 3After 30 minutes of kitchen work, I checked the turtle.  Relief oozed.  An imaginary neon sign blinked over my head, “Totally Brilliant Mom:  Smarter than a Second Grader.”

The boys cheered.  They had literally pulled the tiny turtle from the jaws of death—Copper’s drooling jaws.  Death had been cheated; I didn’t’ have to explain that today.  The turtle now had a head. 

A new tactic for release was tried.  The seven year old distracted Copper in the front yard, while the 4 year old successfully released our little turtle with a full head in the woods out back.

I don’t think I’ve felt so brilliant since!

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07-19-2009 11;16;40PM“How’d you learn to kick a field goal like that, son?” the football coach asked after my son kicked a 45 yard field goal in the 8th grade.

“Squats, sir,” he replied.

“Squats?  What do you mean by squats?” the coach asked.

“Hundreds of squats, sir,” he answered.

‘Why did you have to do hundreds of squats, son?” the coach persisted.

“Because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, sir,” he explained.

Squats have become the punishment of choice in our house.  We tried the wooden spoon, corporal punishment, time out, early bedtime, even rocks.  Each have their time and place, but each also have their limitations.  You can only spank so much, some children are quite content in time out, early bedtime is sometimes more of a relief button for the parents than a real solution.  Now the rocks.  The rocks had so much potential.

A rock removal activity to instill self-control, that is. A great solution!  Our new house had a yard filled with rocks.  When the boys back-talked, argued, or stepped out of line, they had to pick up a particular amount of rocks, removing them to the rock pile.  A great disciplinarian alternative that produced results on all levels:  attitude change, behavior change, and landscape change.

Until we ran out of rocks!  We just weren’t comfortable shipping a new load in for punishment purposes.

One day, I was in Wal-Mart.  Our town doesn’t have a mall, but we finally got a SuperStore Wall-Mart!  Two of the boys started arguing and wrestling.  It wasn’t pretty.  This was not how I visualized motherhood.

The boys had been discussing wall-sets a few days before.  The P.E. coaches apparently used wall-sets for punishment.  I didn’t have a wall, but, hmmm.  It wasn’t a big jump from wall-sets to squats–all that upper-thigh work-out and all.   You can do squats at Wal-Mart, in the church lobby, on the side of the highway, in front of a police officer.  Child-services won’t take your kids away for doing squats!

Different children “ask” to do more squats than others, though.

07-19-2009 11;15;12PM“Are your knees telling you to keep your mouth shut, yet?” my husband asked one son during one squat event.  Prudence can sometimes be a difficult trait to develop.

The other day, my two youngest were arguing.  One punched the other.  Then fists were flying.  Sons hitting sons must be the most awful thing they can do in the presence of their mother.  The myriad range of emotions leave me speechless:  fury, gut-wrenching conflict because you love both  unconditionally and enormously,  the frazzeling shortening circuit of my nerves, and those short-term feelings of failure, and just total befuddlement because they know punching is not acceptable.

Both faces expressed outrage.  Both mouths blamed the other.  One set of eyes flashed the injustice.  The other set of eyes welled with tears.

I know how Solomon felt when he was called upon to determine the guilt and innocence of the two women determined to be given custody of the baby.  All he had was hearsay.  That’s all I have most of the time.  What a quandary!  The solution?  No, I didn’t threaten to slice anyone in half!

Fifty squats!  Holding hands with arms crossed, facing each other, each set of feet in one tile block,  saying, “I am in trouble because of you.  You are in trouble because of me.”  If anybody whines, stops, or steps out off their tile block, an additional 25 is tacked on.

By the end of the squats, they are laughing and hugging each other.  Yeah, they are still more little than big.

I remember a set of brothers getting into a fist-fight in my yard.  They were about 11 and 13.  I called their mother and told them that if they ever did that again, I would pull the hose out on them.  The best ideas come after the fact.  I waited and waited, but they never did fight in my yard again.

I’m ready if my older boys do this.  Of course, if they would start fighting inside, I’d have to direct them outside.  Would that be encouraging them to fight?  I hope not.  I do think a good dousing with a waterhose would definitely extinguish a heap of rage.  Part of me wants to see if my solution works; the other doesn’t want the opportunity.

One of my sons had to write, “I will neither provoke, incite, nor encourage my brothers to negative behavior.”  He had to write that 100 times.  Why is it 14 year olds want provoke, incite and encourage their younger siblings, baiting them, building up their ire, and then, “BOOM,” the entire house explodes?  He still cries, “Injustice” about that punishment today.

Another son does not like to listen to lectures, so I write them up.  He
hears” everything on that sheet of paper.  It takes me out of the picture, so he listens  better.

We ground, take away privileges, add chores, and pray for guidance on how to lead these young men.

07-19-2009 11;12;26PMDiscipline constantly evolves.  Different situations require different reactions.  Different personalities require different reigning-in-techniques.  No discipline is not a choice.  No discipline says, “I don’t care enough about you to make me uncomfortable.”  The irony of a parent’s discipline?  It says, “I love you.”

The kicker hasn’t got in trouble as much lately.  Upper-thigh development is now self-inflicted if he wants to produce the same yardage.  I guess there’s a point where parental discipline becomes self-discipline!

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03-06-2009 04;17;10PMDid you know that if you say “Gullible” real slow, it sounds like greenbeans?

That’s what my third son told me.

And I fell for it!

Much to his amusement.

He says I owe him $15 dollars every time I use that joke.

He should have been named Joyful.  He has such a joyful spirit: good humored, mischievous, comfortable-in-his-skinness, gladness.  Nehemiah says, “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength”(8:10).  Strength implies that there something beyind a good laugh.  Strength with joy says, “I won’t be a victim” when challenges come.  An I-will-approach-challenges-with-a-hope kind of  attitude. 

Sometimes I call him The Freshness after the Storm.  I love storms, the sound of the rain, the way the wind can buffet the house, even the thunder.  As much as it sometimes scares me and I like to cuddle up on the couch with the blanket, sometimes I like to stand on the porch and just watch.  A storm is feisty and gentle all at once. You have the booms, jagged lightening that explodes, rain pelting  and chilling.  You also have the gentle palpitating drip of water off the eaves and leaves, the gurgling  going down pipes, the soft sound of rain droplets hitting the pavement.

After the storm spends itself, you have the freshness after the storm.  Sweet sunshine, red, blue, green, yellow, purples—all the colors rebrightened from the washing.  Peacefulness.  Calm.  Joy.

03-10-2009 01;56;41PMAll the boys communicate differently.  When they’re all together communicating, it can resemble a Hurricane with its force or a Tsunami, a big wave hovering, threatening by its very presence to run over you.

Separately, they all communicate differently.  Heart-to-heart sit-downs where you talk about everything from politics, to God, to whose scones are better—yours or mine—that’s Perceiver of Truth.   Everybody talks.  Everybody voices.  Each mind brews ideas, sending them through a discerning filter of appropriateness, creating a rich conversation.

Faithful spills the beans, verbally and emotionally, about what’s going on in life.  It is like an Octopus-in-the-Box.  Sometimes you just wish some of those legs would stay in the box!  Unfiltered communication tossed, sometimes hurled, like a baseball in a tournament.  You’re left trying to catch it without dropping the ball, trying to figure out strategic, skilled response.  I teach my college students about writing dialogue.  In a dialogue between two people, you list not only their conversation, but the conversation in their head.  Great on paper, not in real life.  However, what you see is what you get, honest, unalloyed, unvarnished truth.

Deep verbal discussion?  Emotional outpouring of life’s ups and downs?  Not Joyful.

Conversation requires purpose.  Purpose can be to encourage—“Great dinner, Mom.”  Or what he said to the girl down the street in the 5th grade.  She was to compete as an 8th  grader in our county’s Fairest of the Fair.  “If I were a judge, I’d vote for you,” he told her.  So young!  So pure of heart!  So not 14!

Joyful has grown beyond snugglebuggles and telling me he loves me, but he communicates in code now.  Let me give you an example:

“Mama?  Can I have a pet anaconda (or warthog, sheep dog, otter, or any animal of the week)?”

That’s code  for, “I love you, Mom.”  Now that I have broken the code, I just smile, saying, “I love you, too.”  Funny, he hasn’t asked for a pet anaconda for awhile. 

Then there’s this question.  “Mama,” he asks (mama is the word of choice when he wants something.  Mom is for the really serious stuff). “Mama, can I have $15?”

After hearing this question for months (of course, I didn’t turn over the money), I broke another code.  Money was code for hug.  The amount he asked for determined how many hugs he really wanted.

He hasn’t asked for money in quite a few weeks, either. 

He no longer brags on my food.  Instead, he will say, “Great dinner, Mom. . . . Not.”  I’ve learned that’s code for “YUM.”

barrettpumpkin2Joyful is a giver spiritual gift and love language.  He actually likes to buy gifts for people. He initiates the gift giving.  When he was about 5, we were Christmas shopping.  He saw a brightly painted ceramic gift bag.  He thought Dad should have it.  He was determined Dad would love it.

He and Perceiver of Truth always pick out my birthday present together.  One year they bought me a marble chess set.  It replaced the one where some other little guy dropped all the mable pieces to watch their heads fall off.  I love playing chess with the boys–and winning!  Another year they bought me a great sign that said:  “There will be a $5 Charge for Whining.  $20 for Being a Real Pain in the Butt.  Gift givers gifts are not shallow gifts.

In 7th grade he was “going out” with a girl.  On Valentine’s Day, he bought her a box of chocolates.  She loved them.  She ate all of them.  She threw them all up—can’t eat chocolate.

When I’m cooking dinner, he comes in the kitchen and gives me hugs.  When he was little, he used sneak up and hug me.  Now he hugs me with one arm and steals food with the other.  Silly me.  I stand there in a quandary.  Should I let him eat everyone’s dinner, or I just be a hug hog!  The older I get, the more hug hog trumps kitchen rules any day!

barrett2His teachers love him in class.  He answers questions, participates in discussion, and adds humor to break tension.  He used to write lyrics to songs.  I haven’t seen any in awhile, but it showed me that while he doesn’t jump in with the political discussion or emotionally vent, he has big, deep thoughts that amaze me, thoughts about God and plain living. 

 He’s starting to realize his gift with words.  At the beach, he asked a girl, “Can I take a picture of you with my cell phone, so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?” 

 Sigh!  Each gift is a double-edged sword.

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