Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I won't try; I'll just do it

Well, did I ever share that I had an article published in Heart of Ohio magazine's summer 2011 issue? It's a long story of how this all came about, but a huge blessing is that I am getting to know the magazine's editor, Diana Coon. Over lunch a few months ago, we discovered that we share several common interests: kayaking, grandmothering, writing, faith. She's forthright and a good thinker.

Anyway, Diana likes my writing and has asked for another article for the winter issue. So this week I am throwing around different ideas and looking back over my blog posts to see what catches my eye.

An interesting side note is that twice this week I've run across the idea that the words: "I'll try" and "maybe" shouldn't exist. (And one source was an article by Diana Coon herself.) Rather, whatever the task, we should just "do it" and not leave the door open to probable failure or procrastination by saying "I'll try."

And so, I will write that article for Heart of Ohio. All 1,000 words. I will just do it!

P.S. If you link to the magazine, above, you'll find my article, 'Journey with Dad,' on page 52 of the summer issue.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Burger King - or designer - oatmeal?

Here's a little news item. Places like Burger King and McDonalds are offering oatmeal for breakfast. Oatmeal at the drive-through? It makes me laugh. Even Starbucks is jumping on the bandwagon and prices range from $1.99 to $4.99 for a bowl of oatmeal. I'm not taking time to do the math, but for five bucks I'm sure I could make enough oatmeal at home for 40 people!

When I was on staff at Girl Scout camp about a hundred years ago, my campers groaned on oatmeal morning. These kids had obviously never been taught how to dress up a bowl of oatmeal, so I'd swing into action. I'd run to the kitchen and ask the cook for brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and raisins. That's just the beginning. These days I add in nuts, chopped apple and craisins. Good breakfast!

It's beyond me why anyone would serve plain oatmeal to a kid. Fancy it up! Pile on the good stuff and most kids will eat it. Super economical and healthy, too.

Mmmm, think I'll have oatmeal in the morning! For just a few pennies.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I actually think about bullies a fair amount.
That seems weird.
But I've had a little experience and have my theories.
Bullies won't bully if there's no sail for their wind.
No one to look scared, act scared or do what they're told.
No one to turn over their lunch money,
or stay away from the bully's locker.
Or - and now I talk about adult bullies -
no one who acquiesces to a bully's expectations, demands,
and emotional blackmail. Have you known someone like that?
I was not a bully but I defended those who got bullied,
like my younger brother. It made my blood boil to see him bullied.
One day I got on the school bus behind a bully-type,
and I saw him smack my brother on the head.
I automatically shoved him as hard as I could, sending him flying
to the back of the bus. (I think the bus driver might have smiled a little.)
The bully never bothered us again.
Sometimes you just have to stand up to a bully
and let him/her know you won't be bullied.
That's my take on bullies.
What's yours?

Friday, August 26, 2011

thanks again

Through Katie's willing spirit and the magic of photoshop, my blog underwent some minor changes this evening. Well, even the minor-est of changes take time with an expert at the wheel. I've wanted to tweak it for some time, but just now got to it.

Hope you like the changes. And THANK YOU, my sweet daughter!

Now, back to your packing. Wow, senior year!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

4 moms, 15 years, 15 kids

Nan, Elizabeth, Lori and me. We met for coffee this week. We began praying together for our children (15 in all!) and their schools about 15 years ago. A world-wide prayer movement called Moms in Touch was the brainchild of one mom and its sole purpose is moms praying for their own children, other children, schools and teachers. It's not a coffee klatch. Not a gossip session. Just one hour of prayer a week. And what a powerful, Spirit-led hour it was.

As our children have graduated, married, given us grandchildren, the four of us haven't gathered to pray in awhile. We hadn't even met for coffee in a long time, until this week. We've decided to meet for lunch monthly.

Having prayed together all those years, through victories and heartache over our kids, we feel incredibly close. Nan, Elizabeth, Lori and I love coffee together, but we especially love our fellowship. Thanks, girls!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ten years ago

Ten years ago this week we delivered David, our oldest, to college for his freshman year. And except for a period of about 18 months, we've returned to Taylor University's campus many times over these ten years. David, Dan and Katie spent their college years there.

I think I'll save my sentimental Taylor-ramblings for another post - namely the end of the coming school year, when Katie graduates. (You WILL graduate, Katie?) For now, I think back to that August day in 2001 when I was going to bravely deliver David to college. Oh, I wasn't one of those blubbery moms who sobbed all the way home. This is what we'd prepared for: encouraging our kids to take flight, go away to college, and learn independence. I was not a clingy, hanger-on mom. I had this all under control!

Until it was time to go. The sun had just slipped behind the football field at Taylor, and our family of six stood in the parking lot outside the chapel. David was due at a freshman event, so we really had to leave. And the tears came. Not just mine. Bill's. And all the siblings'. And David's too. It was the most unexpected, extreme display of emotion I'd ever experienced. We all sobbed and hugged, as if our hanging on could delay our separation. 

I was so very proud of David and happy for this time in his life. But I very mother-ly realized that our family would never, ever again be the same. I'd have to stop and count out five plates instead of six for dinner. One less boy eating gobs of food. Less laughter from my very good-natured son. As his world broadened and became more, mine became less.

The change would eventually be good, I just didn't yet know what that good looked like. In the week or two after David left, I felt adrift. With a husband and three kids still at home! I missed him. Horribly, terribly. I have never admitted this to anyone, but I pulled his baby blanket from my bottom drawer and slept with it a few nights. All crazy "me" stuff .... not really "him" stuff!

By week two, as David would call us occasionally (I resisted calling him), my gloom lifted. He loved classes. He was making friends. The dorm brotherhood was awesome. Taylor was the place he was meant to be. And I knew he had begun growing into the young man God desired. And that we desired.

Letting my son go meant I would lose his boyhood, but I would witness his growing manhood. And that was a very good thing indeed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Wow, wow, do I love comments! Twelve yesterday! Well. Three were mine, so they don't count. But it's fun to hear from everyone. Thanks!

Drumroll, please: Katie completed her online course! It's done, thank you, Lord. And Katie!

She's having a little visit with two close friends from college. The memories of my own college years flood back as I hear the girls talking and giggling late at night. I love seeing Katie's close, deep friendships with these "sisters" who will likely be friends for life.

There's something sweet and special about young women who are tasting their new independence and learning what God has for them in life as they live in community with each other. The last three years have been amazing for Katie.

Make the most of this time, girls, for soon life will whisk you off to new friends and places. There will never be anything quite like college.

Friday, August 19, 2011


It's 8 a.m. As I type, I hear a clang-clang-clanging, like church bells on a wedding day. It's coming from Katie's room and I know it's her iPod alarm trying to wake her and drag herself to meet the day.

It could be a rough go. I went to bed at 11:00 and she was quietly working at her desk. This morning I found the remains of popcorn in the kitchen, so I know she was up way, WAY late, racing to the finish line of her summer online course, all due TODAY. The other night, as I stood at her desk, she looked up at me and said, "what are you going to do with me, Mom?" Meaning, at 21, she's beginning to get that being her mother hasn't always been crumpets and tea.

Anyway, sleep and kids. Why do they so confound us? As newborns, they shock our sleep patterns by having none of their own. Up at midnight, three and six to feed. Sleep all morning. And a different pattern the next night.

As toddlers they awake with the birds, demanding Cheerios and juice, and we rejoice the day they give us 15 minutes of extra sleep by reaching the Cheerios on their own.

Once kids start school, they instantly become more lethargic in the morning. Three of my four children were utterly slothful. Uncombed hair, unbrushed teeth, and forgotten lunches all characterized mornings in our house. We once had a houseguest (father of two) who sat at our kitchen table on a school morning in the midst of our tornado. "Is it like this every morning?" he asked.

By high school it gets ugly. Most all teenagers are nocturnal. In their complete stupidity, high school authorities set the start of the school day as early as possible. One son would run to the car, shoes and bagel in hand, because he was so late. Differences in sibling readiness were the worst. For four straight years, a battle would rage every morning between siblings: one punctual, one tardy. (You know who you are!) We even received a letter from the school about one of our kids, threatening involvement of children's services for truancy. (ie, too many tardies.)

June 2008 couldn't come soon enough. No more school mornings!

Proverbs 31:28 says "Her children arise and call her blessed." By the end of the school years, I was just thankful if they arose in the morning!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

kids just wanna have fun

I spent yesterday afternoon at the pool with a favorite little guy. It's a lot of fun being with Jack, even though it's my "work." I'm pretty sure the pool is Jack's favorite place to be in summer. His mom has worked hard at helping him become comfortable in the water. He loves to swim!

Well. The pool has a "zero entry" as it's now called. An edge like at the beach. And right near the edge are five fountains of water which shoot straight up. Jack loves to get right up to them and put his foot over one, and the water then shoots OUT, not UP. Not ten feet away is a line of low chairs, along the zero entry. The moms and grandmas love to sit there dipping their feet and watching the little ones. Yesterday Jack did his usual thing, taking perfect, if unintentional, aim at two grandmas sitting in the chairs, all nice and situated with their beach bags and towels.

"Oh, hey!" they squealed, pointing at Jack. "How dare he get us wet!" they seemed to say. I quickly put myself in the line of fire, between Jack and the women.

I wanted to laugh. But also yell, "You are at a POOL and you chose to sit by the FOUNTAINS where little ones play. You might get WET, so if you'd rather stay DRY, find another SEAT!"

Look, I'm all for teaching courtesy and manners to children. But I'm also for giving kids a long rope in having some uninhibited fun, particularly in places that are designed for kids to HAVE fun. So stuffy adults need to take their lovely bags, perfect hair-dos and bad attitudes out of the vicinity of a child's fun.

And I hope, as I age, I am never so stuffy that I forget what childhood is all about.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I had momentarily forgotten
how real
and hands-on
and exhausting
and sweetly precious
life is with a toddler and a newborn.

Newborn Ashlyn needs
feeding and holding,
swaddling and swaying,
changing and napping.

Toddler Ari needs
 books to read,
simple puzzles to do,
lots of food to eat,
her messes cleaned up,
manners taught,
a nap and a half a day (figure that out),
diapers changed,
songs sung, alphabets recited, stair-steps counted,
outdoor water play and garden-exploring,
hugs given and kisses received,
doses of her beloved Elmo,
and endless words to learn.
It's very hard to get her photo because she's
on the move almost ALL THE TIME.

And that, my friends, makes for extremely full and exhausting days,
but also so sweet and packed with love.

I had forgotten. But now I remember.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

clothes shopping for babies

Shopping for baby clothes isn't what it used to be.  Maybe because I'm a grandma, but it's all very confusing to me. I haven't shopped for children's clothing in a very long time. The young moms whiz in, efficiently find what they want, purchase and leave.

The Carter's store is brimming with adorable outfits for little ones, beginning with the tiniest. And this Carter's store has incredibly exuberant sales girls.

"Can I help you find something?" They chirp. "A gift? New baby?"

Well, she might help if I knew what I needed. And yes, it's for a new baby: my granddaughter Ashlyn. But also for her big sister.

I text Jenny for sizes and needs, last-minute of course. Jenny's not into headbands and frilly stuff for her girls. But my sales girl steers me straight to some "adorable accessories:" headbands! I decide I'd better browse on my own, avoiding the pinks and ruffles and big bows.

When my babies came along, the sizing rule of thumb was to double the child's age to determine the right size. No more! This has thrown me off for a year now. Carter's makes it simpler by giving a weight range for each size. Still, I want to do that doubling thing and the sales girl must think I'm crazy.

My initial idea was to find matching outfits or sleepers or something for the girls. I abandon that thought almost immediately when I realize I would have to walk back and forth between the newborn and toddler sizes to decide. And it was, after all, our anniversary and my date was waiting in the car.

Thankfully, Jenny sends me some helpful texts and I select some items. Also, a young mom gives me a 20% off coupon AND it was GRANDPARENTS DAY at Carter's so I received an additional discount.

Do you think the sales girls tell every grandma, every day, that it's grandparent's day?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

33 years!

Our kids love this photo, taken just before we got married.
They say we were "hippies."
I say we look better now than then!

Happy anniversary to my husband Bill!
A lot has happened over these 33 years:
five moves and  a few jobs,
four children: two sons married so adding two daughters-in-love,
two grandchildren born with another on the way,
15 years of college with one to go,
on our second washing machine,
not perfection: some tears and struggles and anger and wanting my way,
but determination to stick together and love no matter what.
After all, love isn't a feeling
it's a decision.
Happy anniversary to a man who knows how to love. I love you Bill!

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

7.11 photos

We spent all of July a-way up north at our cabin in Michigan. Thought I'd share some of my favorite photos.

This being the last summer, it was especially sweet to have Katie with us as she prepares for her senior year in college. She kept busy with an online course, and two weeks working at a nearby camp. But we also had time to laugh, eat ice cream, and take photos together. Katie says she gets her photography talent from me, but she's miles ahead!

We love the light inside the old Presque Isle lighthouse, built in 1840. (OK, I know I just posted this photo, but I like it.)

Oh and by the way, the wedding Katie shot on Saturday was sweet, simple, elegant, and just perfect. Katie and her assistant Jill worked hard! I don't think we realize the difficulty of a given job until someone we loves DOES that job. This includes wedding photography. The next three photos are Katie's, btw.

As much as we like being there, we love it when friends visit. Especially dear friends who we don't see often, friends who appreciate simple living in an old cabin beside a lake. So it thrilled us when our friends Dan and Beth made the trip from FLORIDA all the way to northern Michigan and stayed for most of one week. We have known Dan and Beth for over 30 years, so we had a sweet and hilarious time time together!

 At times, maybe a little too hilarious ...

Our biggest expense while at the cabin  is ice cream up at the harbor. Two huge scoops for $2 and the flavors are different every day. Flavors like Blueberry Wafflecone, Michigan Black Bear, and Mackinac Island Fudge. Bill tasted mine one evening and took a hugely oversized bite. Wow.

Let me go on record for saying that I don't believe dogs need a vacation, but if ever a dog loves a getaway, it's our Ellie. She has lots of freedom at the cabin, so what could be better for a dog?

Rock hounds! The rocks in this part of Michigan are amazing.

Finally, we were blessed with many glorious sunsets that God painted
at day's end. It was a lovely month indeed.

Tomorrow: one more favorite photo!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

wedding day!

Today is an exciting one: my daughter Katie is photographing ("shooting") a wedding - her first as lead photographer. The couple is adorable, the bride a high school friend of Katie's. She's excited. Prepared. She will do great, I know.

I've been the mother of the groom twice, but never the mother of the photographer. Is that even a title? Good gracious it should be.  Even though I know Katie is skilled and capable, I'm still a bit nervous! But I know it will be a wonderful day for the bride and groom and that's what counts.

Whew, another milestone in turning my chicks into the world, seeing Katie capture a couple's wedding photos. I've fed, nourished, encouraged, prayed, and guided for as long as I can ...  now she's flying on her own.

I'm proud of you, Katie!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Julie and Julia

While I'm on the topic of books this week, listen to this. I can't believe it; I'm recommending  NOT reading the book version of a movie. When does this ever happen? It is:

Julie and Julia

The movie
First I saw the movie, starring Meryl what's-not-to-love Streep
and Amy Adams. Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, the book's author who is floundering with her purpose in life. Until. She discovers Julia Childs' Mastering the Art of French Cooking and embarks on a year of cooking every single recipe in it. The movie is sweet, endearing, funny and follow-able. Meryl's Julia is brilliant, as usual, and you even get some little views of Paris. Amy's Julie catches the essence of a young woman trying to find passion and purpose.
So, she cooks for a year in the little New York apartment she shares with her husband and also blogs about it.

The book
 I can find very little good in this book.
It's hard to follow, too much going on.
It contains too much profanity, way too much.
And too much inane drama involving Julie's friends and family and her husband's friends which detours from the unique premise of the whole story.
It contains not enough about the hilarious Julia Childs
and her winsome husband Paul. Not nearly enough.
I don't very often just flat-out quit reading a book, but after about 100 pages, I skimmed the rest and called it a day. Yuck. Don't waste your time or money. I'm just glad I picked it up at a library book sale for cheap.

Julie and Julia. See the movie, don't read the book!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

summer with Harry

My daughter Katie finds the most interesting things. This summer she introduced me to author Harry Bernstein, who published his first book at age 96! Not only that, two more books were published before his death this year at age 101.

Harry was born in England in 1910. His first memoir, The Invisible Wall, details his early life in a poverty-stricken Jewish family. In the face of extreme hardship, Harry's mother Ada managed to raise six children, despite the brutal abuse and neglect of her husband. A central theme is the stark division between Jewish and Christian families on the Bernsteins' street.

The family emigrated to the United States in 1922, and then begins The Dream, Harry's subsequent book, in which he describes his family's life as immigrants in Chicago. It includes the beginnings of his love story as he meets his wife, Ruby.

Harry had been a writer all his life, though with little success at publication. It was Ruby's death that prompted him to spill his vivid memories and heart into writing these memoirs. Harry writes about his 67-year marriage to Ruby in The Golden Willow, published in 2009.

From reading the first two books, I came away realizing it is never, ever too late to pursue a passion. The world discovered Harry in the nick of time. And Harry didn't ignore his passion to write.