Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinners

Besides the obvious as a time for giving thanks to God for all of our blessings, Thanksgiving means different things to different people. Some people spend the day watching football. Others spend the day perusing Black Friday sale ads. For me, it’s all about the food. I love to entertain and I love to cook. More than that, I love to eat!

When I was a child we would spend every Thanksgiving at my Grandma’s house. She would fix enough food to feed an army. One of her specialties was cole slaw, which she made special for me. And then there were the rolls… My job was to put butter on the tops before she put them in the oven.

However, not all Thanksgiving dinners from my past were so pleasant. One year, after my husband and I were married, we were planning a huge Thanksgiving dinner with our family. We had family coming from all over. I was so looking forward to cooking when one relative had a great idea. He suggested we all go out to eat. Although I was a little disappointed, I went along with it. After all, the restaurant was a decent one.

But then…two days before Thanksgiving, someone had the brilliant idea of changing restaurants. Dinner ended up being horrible! The restaurant was no more than a truck stop. A truck stop probably would have been better.

The family members that were staying at our house along with my husband and I, entertained ourselves by playing with our food, and I use the term “food” loosely. Chicken livers aren’t food at all as far as I’m concerned, no matter how much gravy you put on them. They are good for bouncing across the table and cat food, however.

Fortunately for us, I had a turkey sitting in my fridge at home. The next day, those in my house had an actual Thanksgiving dinner, which was soooo much better than what the truck stop had to offer.

Now, many years later, the family members that stayed with us that weekend, still laugh about the horrible food.

Having a true, home cooked Thanksgiving dinner is something for which I am truly thankful. Spending it with people I love, even if the food is bad, is something else I will never take for granted.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Parents Say the Darndest Things!

We can all think of things our parents said that as children we always thought were silly statements to make. Let’s face it, now that we are parents, we find ourselves saying exactly the same things. We’ve even added some new silly statements of our own.

This is the one I heard today that brought all these memories to mind:

“Repeat after me…We do not eat boogers!” (I’m not sure I want to know what instigated this conversation!)

“I’m gonna knock your heads together!” (Never knew a parent that actually did that.)

“Do you want me to knock your teeth out?” (Like parents really want to pay more for dental care!)

“Do you want me to come out/up there?” (The obvious answer would be “No.”)
“Tell him you’re sorry!” (But what if he isn’t sorry? Just because you make him say it doesn’t mean he is.)

“You act like you were raised in a barn!” (I know kids who were raised in barns and believe me, they act like it.)

“Were you raised by wolves?” (In a child’s mind, that would be the coolest thing ever!)

“Do you want to go live with another family?” (Probably at the time you said this, living with another family probably seemed like a good option.)

“Are you sitting on your brain?” (Really? Did it move?)

“Do you want to go outside and eat with the dogs?” (Of course they do! No table manners are required and the dog can eat their broccoli.)
And…times have changed. One thing I find myself saying an awful lot is:

“Stop shooting/killing your sister!” (Any parent who has video games in the household understand this.)

What about you? What silly statements can you remember your parents saying? Feel free to add them via the comments block.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Egg Hunt

Lice is something that moms of school age kids hate to even think about. You would think that since I homeschool my kids, I wouldn’t have to worry about such things. Wrong! I got an email the other day that the sports team my daughter plays on had an outbreak of lice. This brought not-so-sweet memories for me. There was on time my mom got that dreaded phone call.

The girl I sat next to in class and her whole family had bugs crawling around on them. Because of this, the entire school was subjected to a thorough head search. One by one we were escorted to the coatroom that had been turned into a sort of hospital. When it was my turn in the hot seat, I had this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The guy sitting in the chair across from me didn’t’ look particularly happy, either. He had a horrible case of dandruff and I couldn’t figure out how the teacher who was searching his head could tell the difference between eggs and dandruff. His teacher made the comment, “These guys are having a field day in your hair.” Yuck! He had the bugs! Then the teacher who was checking my hair spoke up. “Ohhh, Jeri’s not going to be happy about this!”

All I could think of was, “Thanks, Karen for sitting next to me and always brushing your hair in my direction!” Fortunately, I didn’t have any bugs, just eggs. Still, my head began to itch just by the power of suggestion.

All the parents of lice-infected kids were called. I grew up when moms were almost always home, but unfortunately, it didn’t matter for me because we only had one car and it was at work with my dad. I had to sit segregated from my class for the rest of the afternoon. Fortunately, it was only about an hour till the buses came.

Unfortunately, again, we were not able to just get on the bus and go home. We attended private school and had to take a transfer bus to the bus that would actually take me home. That would not have been so bad if there were no brothers on board. Unfortunately, my brother and I lived in the same house, which left us to ride the same bus.

I was unusually quiet and shy if there weren’t any of my friends around and on the bus there weren’t. So, I almost always sat up front. My brother was one of the troublemakers, so he usually sat in the back of the bus.

We had not been on the bus too long before I heard a familiar voice, shouting from the back, “Stay away from my sister, she has lice!” It was all I could do to keep myself from crying. I felt someone looking at me, which was absolutely silly because everyone on the bus was looking at me by this point. I looked up and saw the bus driver’s eyes in her rear-view mirror. She just smiled to let me know that everything would be okay.

When we did get home, I let the tears come. I didn’t know which was worse, having lice or everyone knowing that I had lice.

Mom was waiting for me and she was all prepared with the special shampoo that kills lice eggs. This was about 4:00 in the afternoon. Mom immediately helped me to get a shower. She ferociously scrubbed my head till I didn’t think the lice would matter anymore because I wouldn’t have any hair left! After the scrubbing, mom had to basically search through my hair strand by strand to look for the eggs. And I had a lot of hair.

Even though we had weekly activities at church that night, I was unable to go, because mom was still searching for eggs. I sat on the couch in front of my mom and ever so slowly turned as she painstakingly made her way around my head. I guessed this was one of the curses of having long, thick hair that other people often said that they wished they had. At that point, I would have gladly scalped myself and given my mane to the next person who asked.

Around 9:30 that evening, my dad and brother arrived home from church. Mom and I were still in our same spots on the couch. Although, I don’t remember exactly what time it was when mom finished, I do remember that it was extremely late and all I was allowed to do was go to bed.

That was the only time my life I ever had lice. Thank you, Lord! And my daughter did not end up having lice, either! Yea!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Communing With Nature

Camping was something my family often did while I was growing up. Camping is a great way for families to spend time together. It’s also a great way for people to get out and enjoy nature.

We had a pop-up camper, where my sisters and I slept along with our parents. My older brother preferred sleeping alone in the van. I normally liked sleeping in the camper, but one particular night, I would have much preferred the van and my brother.

I was sleeping soundly when all of a sudden something woke me. The lights of the camper were on and the camper was rocking back and forth. I could hear my mom talking to my dad, “It’s over there!” Then there would be stomping and shaking again.

Sitting up in my bed, I opened the privacy curtain and saw that my father was out of bed, but without my glasses on, I couldn’t see what was wrong. So what did I do? I put on my glasses and took another sneak peak, which is an act I regret to this day.

I saw my dad holding a badminton racket.

“It’s over there!” My mom said again.

Dad looked where she was pointing and swung the racket. He missed. There was a bat flying around the camper. It must have come in through one of the not so tight spots of the canvas part of the camper.

My sister, who was sleeping on the fold down table, groggily sat up.

“What’s going on?” She asked.

“Lay down!” Mom demanded.

She immediately obeyed, but by now her eyes were wide open, watching my dad swing at the bat that was flying directly above her head.

“Get it, Bill!” Mom yelled.
Dad swung. The bat fell onto my sister’s leg. Even though she was covered by blankets, she still screamed bloody murder.
At that moment, my youngest sister, who had been sleeping next to me, sat up. I smacked her in the chest with my forearm and made her lay back down. She still doesn’t recall much of anything to this day.

My other sister, however, still remembers everything. It may have happened almost thirty years ago, but she says she can still feel that bat on her leg. Believe it or not, we all still love camping! Whenever we see a bat flying through the night sky, I look to my sister and ask, “Do you remember that time...?”

Friday, July 8, 2011

Best Friends

While at the pool with my son and his best friend the other day, I just sat and listened as they played and goofed off. It brought back a lot of memories for me of my best friends as a child. Friends are so important in our lives no matter how old we are. While our best friend may change throughout the years due to a variety of circumstances, that very first best friend will always hold a special place in our hearts.

I distinctly remember my first best friend and the day we met. Her name was Eileen. It was my first day of 1st grade. I was attending a different school than I had for Kindergarten. It was snack time and I didn't have one. Eileen noticed and pulled her chair up to mine and shared her snack with me. I remember it clearly to this day, even though 1st grade was a “couple” of years ago now. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Eileen and I continued to be friends even though we eventually both changed schools and she moved away because of her dad's job. We understandably lost touch and it would be years before we could connect, but that doesn't mean that she didn't come to my mind once in a while, celebrating the memories we had built during the years of our best-friendship.

Then one day I logged into my Facebook account to see I had a friend request. I sort of groaned since the last few requests I had were people who had no idea who I was and with names I couldn't pronounce. I clicked on the request to find my dear, sweet Eileen! I was thrilled! Although we still haven't been able to actually see each other, we can send messages and look at pictures of each other's families. It's something and it brings a smile to my face.

Think about your very first best friend. Where is he or she now? Relive the memories of summer days at the pool or winter days of sledding and hot cocoa. Look through old pictures of the two of you. Get back in touch, if possible, and rekindle the blessing of true friendship.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Conversations With Kids Part 2

This one is for all my fellow homeschooling parents out there.

One day I was trying to teach my son the importance of using punctuation. That particular day was all about commas. I had seen something on Facebook that I thought was humorous. I also thought it would help my son understand better, especially with his sense of humor. Please note – I can take no credit for the following - “”Let's eat Grandma. Let's eat, Grandma. Punctuation saves lives.”

I wrote out the two grandma sentences and showed them to my son. I explained that the correct sentence invited Grandma to eat along with us and the incorrect sentence said that Grandma was the main course.

My son started laughing and could not stop. When he finally got to where he could breathe a little bit, he said, “I'm sorry! I can just picture Grandma laying out on the table with an apple in her mouth.”

This brought forth another round of hysterical laughter. When he could finally talk again he added, “And she's all slathered in barbeque sauce! But you have to take her dentures out, first!”

And then he congratulated himself on his wit, “Man, I'm awesome!”

It took another 30 minutes before we could continue with schoolwork, but at least he knew the importance of punctuation.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

In honor of Mother's Day tomorrow I thought I would post something about my own Mom. She was the best. I think Solomon had her in mind when he wrote Proverbs 31 because every verse describes her.

Ahh...so many stories...where should I begin. I'll start with the sweet. I remember one hot summer night I was preparing to take my bath. I brought down a towel and my pj's, which were not really appropriate for sticky evenings. (Keep in mind, people, this was back before everyone couldn't live without air conditioning! We actually lived without it and lived to tell about it, too!)

“Is that all you have?” Mom asked.

“Yes.” I answered. I think that may be the one time I experienced a growth spurt.

I went about my business and got my bath. When I came out, Mom was at her sewing machine. “You're too fast.” She said. While I was in the tub, she saw a lack that I had and immediately went to work sewing me a cool, comfortable nighty. I still remember that green gingham nightgown.

Another time she surprised me with something was when I was getting ready to go to summer camp for a week. We needed dresses for chapel. Just before I was to leave, I remembered one thing that I had forgotten. When I opened my suit case to put it in I noticed a strawberry print skirt and blouse on top.

Mom sat there smiling, “You were supposed to wait until you got to camp to open it. I wanted to surprise you.”
That's just the way Mom was.

Some of my favorite memories of my mother include the times we went to the library. This was the BIG library in the city. I loved the marble stairways and all the books. I think I even pretended to live there on one visit. We would spend the day in the library and always get a special lunch together. One time we were both in the mood for pizza and there was a pizza place right down the road. We ordered a small because it was just the two of us. Well, the small was not small. It was huge! There was no way we could eat it all. But it was so good!

We asked for a box for the remainder. We had to sneak it into the library because people we not supposed to bring in food. We giggled for the rest of the day because that pizza smelled so strongly of garlic that everyone probably knew it was there.

Isn't it funny the things your mind chooses to remember. I can count on one hand the negative things I remember. The good far outweigh the bad. Think about your mom today. What has she done for you? Give her the honor she deserves on this Mother's Day. Reminisce with your siblings if she is no longer here. See how long it takes before you are laughing so hard you are all about to wet your pants. Most of all, love her.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"I Love You to Pieces!"

This time of year it's all about the love. When my kids were small I would tell them, “I love you to pieces.” My girls never said much in response, but my son came up with a response that was all his own.

“I love you five pieces!”

Every time I would tell him that I loved him to pieces he would repeat the phrase incorrectly. “I love you one hundred million pieces!”

He would just giggle and I couldn't help by laugh along with him. One day I finally asked him, “What in the world are you talking about?”

“You only love me TWO pieces, but I love you a lot more than that.” He told me.

I think it's hilarious how children often take what we say so literally. It just goes to show how one word can change the entire meaning of a sentence.

This Valentine's Day let there be no doubt how you feel about the ones you love. Leave a note on the mirror, put a card in their lunchboxes, shout it loud and clear, “I love you 600 trillion pieces!”

You can say it when it's not Valentine's Day, too!