Small Goals


Little moments, small goals, simple reminders, things that make love a reality flitted through my mind while I was getting our Addie ready for bed. How fast things change in a child’s life. A year ago, bed time was a chore, complete with tears, tantrums, and frustration over the simple act of getting her to brush her teeth. Tonight, she got herself ready for bed, brushed her own teeth, put her toys away, and found her Zebra Bear to snuggle with all on her own. Instead of tantrums, we spent half an hour talking about her week, things that she asked about, and her big plans for tomorrow. Then she rolled over and went to sleep in about two minutes. Once I had a simple goal of getting her teeth brushed, getting her into pajamas, and into bed without a tantrum, and asleep within an hour or two. A year later, its a done deal. She no longer even needs a reminder.

I feel a bit, superfluous. But, proud of her too. She did it! She made that small goal happen. And now our bedtime ritual has morphed into little moments together where she does all the talking, and I no longer have to sit on my frustration and hold back angry words. It is simply a small moment in time at the end of the day filled with love. She is the third generation I have raised to this point of independence. One would think it would get easier to see them grow up, but it doesn’t. I want to keep her my angle baby for just a little longer. However, God, in his wisdom, made moms and grandmothers, so we could raise children to be strong, confident adults. Part of that process is letting go, entrusting them to God, and trusting them to be the people they are meant to be. It is so hard, but it is so worth it. Sweet dreams, Angel Baby, see you in the morning.

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Well, There Goes a GREAT Program.


I spent 13 years in Boy Scouts as a leader. I have earned my Wood Badge credentials. When I retired I was the Assistant District Commissioner for our area. I trained men and women to lead cub and boy scouts and ran day camps for up to 300 eight, nine, and ten year old boys for 11 of those years. I LOVED scouting. My boys loved it. And all the boys I worked with in both Boy and Cub Scouts loved the program. It was designed to do one thing, to teach boys how to become capable men. It was based on teaching self reliance, team work, personal success, and the ability to adapt and use all skills to survive, advance, and improve themselves. It wasn’t all about camping, but it sure was about competition, excelling, and overcoming barriers.
Boys communicate and work in totally different ways than girls do. Since I think more like a man than a woman half the time (really, my brain is exactly 50 50 in the way it works), I understand men and boys. I speak the language. I get the way they work. And I can tell you, this whole allowing girls in screwed the entire reason for Boy Scouts.
I was also involved with Girl Scouts, I spent more time breaking up hateful, spiteful, pissy girls who were picking on each other than I EVER spent breaking up boy fights. And the girls NEVER let it go. Ever. From then on there were always two camps of girls hating each other. Boys worked it out with competition in canoes, on the rope climbing, and occasionally with their fists. Afterward, it was over. And they were friends again. It will never work having them together, not if they keep the same programs. Girls will hate it, and girls will rule. Now it will be nothing more than another junky club for kids. Mediocre at best, a dismal failure at worse. Disgusting. My boys would never want to be a part of something like that, especially if they were at the age where girls were just gross, alien beings.

The Music Goes On


This is a story told to me by my mother Jean Bonham Vandenburg

HOW THE MUSIC STARTED IN THE BONHAM FAMILY

O. C. Bonham played the fiddle. He met another musician, Clarence Rodgers, who also played the fiddle or violin. In fact he was a music teacher for Atoka schools and private students too. Mr. Clarence Rodgers was an accomplished Classically trained musician and was well known as a brilliant music teacher. Mr Bonham was a widower, who had four children by his first wife. Ida New. Two of them survived,Minnie Lee and Zed.

Minnie was very good on the organ and piano. She was a good vocalist too. Mr Rodgers taught her the piano and she played in church. Minnie eventually married and became the mother of five children, who grew to be talented a singers in church as well. Mr Bonham married again to Lydia New Trimmer and had two children, Oran Carl and Collie. Although Carl, as Oran Carl came to be known, survived, Collie died when a very young child. Clarence Rodgers taught Carl to play the guitar and other instruments. Mr Bonham, Mr. Gene Warren, the principal of Harmony School, Clarence Rodgers, Carl, and his friend Hardy Wilkins would gather at the Bonham house and play music during the winter when crops were harvested and laid by.

O C Bonham married later in life to Novella Burlison and they had had five children. Clearance Rodgers taught the oldest son, Orville, to play the fiddle too. His children are part of the Bonham Bluegrass family. Sara Ann, Glen, and Virgil all were talented. Their big brother, Carl, taught Ollie and Glen to play the guitar.

Carl liked ballads and the music of early Country and Western singers such as Jimmie Rodgers. His friend, Hardy, was a good musician who played for dances at the outside dance floor in Stringtown, Oklahoma that was made famous when the infamous criminals, Bonnie and Clyde had a shoot out where they killed a deputy and wounded the sheriff. Carl and Hardy were will known in the area and played for dances held in homes throughout Atoka County. His daughter can remember going to someones house and they would move all the furniture  out of one room so that could have room to dance. When the little kids and babies got sleepy the parents would lay them on the beds to sleep. When the movie, Gone With The Wind, came out, Carl and Hardy played during the intermission every night. Carl was a good singer and, thanks to Clarence Rodgers, a good musician, When Carl was first learning to play, if he missed a cord or made a mistake, Clarence would smack Carl with his fiddle bow.

The daughters of Carl and his wife, Thelma Bolling Bonham, also learned to sing at an early age. Jeannie Bonham Vandenburg and Jackie Bonham Hand, sang on a radio show that was recorded live from the Mamie Johnson school in Atoka every Sunday. They, and the teachers from Harmony decided to have a show at Harmony School to help buy new basketball uniforms, Jean and Jackie and the other students organized the show and it was a big hit in the community. It helped to get the much needed uniforms.

Jean married Eddie Vandenburg when he came back from the Korean War, He was an outstanding natural musician. Later, when he went back into the Army, Eddie and Jean were stationed many places where they always became involved with country music. They entertained at the military clubs and civilian clubs near by. They were asked to record and go on tour, but being a soldier came first so they had to let the opportunity pass. Both Jean and Eddie were song writers, and Jean continues to write today. They were both raised to sing traditional Country Music. Eddie passed away a few years ago, but Jean is still invited to sing at various venues where she performs now and then. If you get a chance to hear Miss Jean you are in for a real treat. She has had many years experience and has performed with many talented bands and fronted for many rising stars. She has some great stories to tell about the places and people she and Eddie have met.

They were parents of five children and who are also musicians and vocalists. The girls enjoy singing in church. Karron is a writer and was a choir director and, the youngest, Rebecca and her husband, David Barrington, often sing and direct musical events in their church, Eddie Vandenburg Jr. is good musician and a collector of music instruments. Some of Eddie and Jean’s grandchildren and great grandchildren also have interests in music.

With each generation, the music goes on in the Bonham family.

Going to School with Mrs. Graham


When I started school, it was in a small country school in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. The school had grades one through eight in four classrooms. Two ages per class. In mine, there were both first and second grade students. Mrs. Graham was our teacher. She also taught many of my cousins, and my sister. She was wonderful and we all adored her.

Mrs. Graham was probably in her early forties when I was in her class. She taught until she was into her seventies. Three generations from the families in that area passed through her capable hands, learning to read, write, do math, science, art, and history. She was firm, fair, and dedicated to teaching all those little mush headed kids the basics of education. After two years in her class, you could do all those important skills, and spell too.

She didn’t have fancy computers, loads of resources, and special papers to hand out for homework, the only homework we ever had was learning the spelling list for the week. She didn’t have pretty cut outs and things to make bulletin boards with reminders, handouts for kids to take home to parents, or expensive products to teach with. She had a chalkboard, Big Chief tablets, pencils, crayons, a few pair of scissors, and an old beat up mimeograph machine that never quite had enough ink. But we all learned anyway.

What she did have, however, were parents that taught us to respect Mrs. Graham, or they would be all over us about it. I never heard one student talk back to her, smart off to her, or disrespect her in any way. None of us would if we didn’t want our parents to know and make sure we never did it again. What she did have was an innate ability to understand how children learned, and how to ignite our imagination through stories, ideas, and a firm belief that each and every one of us was brilliant in one way or another. What she did have, was a vast store of knowledge that she was willing and able to impart to all of us, even the rowdy boys who were more interested in rough housing than learning their spelling words. What she had was the support of the parents, the admiration of the other teachers and the administration, and the love of her students.

She wouldn’t recognize the modern classroom today. She wouldn’t understand how students can get away with literally doing nothing and still move on to the next level. She wouldn’t understand teaching a child to pass an exam instead of teaching children to learn the basics of reading, math, history, and science as a platform for the building of an educated mind. She wouldn’t understand the focus on feelings instead of a focus on encouraging each student through a purpose driven agenda designed to help them learn to help themselves learn. She wouldn’t understand the disrespect students, parents, and the administration have for the teachers who are down in the trenches working with hateful, angry, bored students every day. Teachers like Mrs. Graham are a phenomenon of the past.

Back when education meant that children were truly learning, it wasn’t uncommon for a young man or woman still in their teens to be teaching an entire community of students in a one room school with children from ages six to seventeen. By the time those children were ready to go to High School, they were proficient in all the basics, plus they could speak, read, and write in either Greek or Latin, or both. They were familiar with and could quote great works of literature, they understood complex mathematics and science theories and practices. They knew the history of their town, state, and country along with world history from the ancient ages to the present. Today, most High School students can barely read, write, or have the skills needed to pass the state exam required for graduation. Students are less intelligent, capable, or determined to excel in their studies. It isn’t just an inner city issue, or a poor issue, it is endemic throughout ever socio-economic level within in every type of community. More children are falling to the lowest common denominator of sloth, failure, and self aggrandizing entitlement than ever before. And no one cares enough to stop the fall, because today, we no longer have teachers like Mrs. Graham. We no longer have teachers, parents, and administrators who see teaching as more than a babysitting service provided for their children, because teachers are no longer allowed to teach, they only facilitate the process of regurgitative education. The students pass the state exam and promptly forget what they learned. They don’t build on a solid foundation of the basics, they simply pass through the system and wonder why life is so hard for them when they graduate or quit school as soon as they are old enough.

Teachers go into teaching knowing that it will be a thankless profession with poor pay. Some go in all shiny and new, ready to make a difference in the lives of their students, and run right into that wall of the lowest common denominator. Many, within a year or two, are so beaten down and exhausted they end up walking away from the profession. It is easier to deal with rude people as a waitress than to put their hearts into a profession where they are insulted and belittled by everyone on a daily basis. The only real losers in the modern education models of today are the generations of students who will waste twelve years in a system that will teach them nothing of value.

Mrs. Graham most definitely would not understand that at all.

Things Kids Need To Know To Be Independent Adults.


The Mr. and I were talking about the way the kids today (that sounds like my mother’s voice) are lacking in basic skills that, up until recently, were taught to all children before they were old enough to drive. At least we were taught those skills and we taught them to our children and they are now being taught to our grandchildren.

I made a list. There are a few rules to abide by.

1. This will require the kids to put down the phone and devices to have a face to face conversation with their parents.

2. This will require the kids to pay attention to what is being said or demonstrated, and for the kids to actually complete the task on their own.

Things kids need to know how to do to be a productive and self sufficient adult.

1. Put gas in the car.

2. Change the oil in the car.

3. Change the windshield wipers on the car.

4. Know when to add coolant or water to the radiator and how to check the levels.

5. How to check air pressure in the tires.

6. Change a flat tire without assistance.

7, Charge a flat battery.

8. Know how to read a real paper map, not the GPS.

9. Learn what basic tools are, how they are used, and what they are called.

10. Plan a budget.

11. Learn how to use a check book and balance the bank account.

12. Learn how to pay bills on time.

13. Learn how to buy groceries.

14. Learn how to plan, cook, and serve daily meals.

15. Learn to cook on a stove or in an oven, not just using the microwave.

16. Learn to read and follow directions for everything.

17. Learn how to fill out a job application on line, and on paper.

18. Learn how to do a job interview.

19. Develop a firm handshake and learn how to look people in the eyes when speaking to them.

20. Be realistic concerning entry level jobs.

21. Learn a good work ethic. Be on time, fulfill your shift, be dependable, work hard.

22. Learn basic self defense.

23. Develop good study habits, it will help you be a better employee.

24. Learn to mow and take care of the lawn.

25. Learn how to clean a bathroom and kitchen.

26. Learn to vacuum the house and mop a floor.

27. Learn how to do laundry.

28. Learn how to iron.

29. Learn basic mending for clothing.

30. Learn how to sew on a button.

31. Learn how to change a diaper and feed a baby/toddler.

32. Learn self respect and how to dress and groom yourself appropriately for the task at hand.

33. Learn how to care for pets.

34. Learn to respect your elders.

35. Learn some manners, and how to act in public.

I am sure that everyone can add to the list, but those were the first things that came to mind. If we, as parents and guardians, take the time to teach our children as soon as they are old enough to start picking up after themselves, all of this will come in handy when they leave home. I see far too many twenty, even thirty, something people who haven’t a clue how to do the most basic things. Any kid past the age of nine can do their own laundry if they can operate the complex phones and gaming systems they play today. Teach the responsibility but giving them the tools they will need to be independent, confident adults. Otherwise, you will be the one picking up the slack in their lives.

New Normal Nonsense


Over the past few years I have heard a phrase used often that, when deconstructed, makes no sense at all. The phrase is, “the new normal.” How can something “new” be normal? It isn’t remotely normal, and although, over time, it might become part of your lifestyle, it isn’t normal when it first begins.

The situation might be considered a new beginning, a new type, a new way of doing something, a new event, a new expectancy, a new thought, a new passion, and new meaning, but it isn’t anything near normal when it is NEW.

Normal. What does that mean? Normal to whom or what? My normal isn’t your normal, and we don’t really have a normal. We have a routine, a way of managing our day and life. Not one day is exactly the same as another, so how can you judge something to be normal? Lets say we have an hour long commute every single day, going to the same part of town, to the same building or workplace, the same position or office, five days a week. Most of us, will not have the same exact experience on any of those five days. The only normal part of that commute is the direction and destination in which we are going. Something different will happen, a random event, an accident, a slow down, something weird in the car next to you or on the train near to you will happen. You might miss your train, the exit, or someone may cut you off causing an accident. Maybe you will have a flat or your car won’t start. On the train or bus, a conversation might start up that you join, or most likely, you over hear and that will set your thoughts off in an original direction. Sure we get to work, but it wasn’t a standard, exactly the same, normal every day thing. It was a day. different, strange, boring, amazing, but it was A DAY,

No job is ever normal either. So you stand in the same spot, doing the same job, but the assembly line fails, someone doesn’t turn up, or is late. Gossip goes up and down the grapevine, someone is having a bad day and takes it out on someone else, everything goes to hell in a manner of seconds when someone throws a spanner in the works. It is a day, but it isn’t exactly the same ever single work day. It isn’t the Old Normal, therefore, how can there be a new normal?

What you have is a change in your life. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. You learn to adapt to or overcome that change in your life. Because if life was always normal, it would be static. A static life is a stagnant life, and that is not normal, in fact, it is harmful, debilitating, depressing, and demoralizing. Human beings are meant to change, sometimes on a daily basis. Those that can’t get left behind as everyone around them moves forward with their lives. The only people who can’t or don’t naturally change daily are those with disabilities, and they do change only more slowly. It isn’t in us to always remain the same. If it was, we would always be children, never maturing beyond being totally dependent on parents and caregivers. It is within our DNA to try to grow up and away from our parents into adults who can take care of ourselves. That growth, while in one way is normal, it is also individual and therefore there is no correct or normal way to reach maturity. It is simply an individual effort that changes daily.

Stop already with the New Normal nonsense. No one is normal, we are all unique with unique moments and events in our lives. Our singular way of coping with those events makes us different from one another, and it also makes us interesting to others around us. There is no Old Normal, there is no New Normal, there is only change and how we cope with those changes in our lives.

You Can’t Have It Both Ways.


Everyone is yammering on about how an 18 year old shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.
They can go to war and protect your country, but not own a gun.
They can vote but they can’t buy a gun.
They can drive a car but they can’t own a gun.
They can marry and divorce, but can’t own a gun.
They can pay bills and make money, but they can’t own a gun.
They can buy pot, tobacco products and beer in some states, but can’t own a gun.
They can be fathers, but they can’t own a gun.
They can run a business, work in dangerous jobs, but they can’t own a gun.
They can save a life, but they can’t own a gun.
They can provide for an entire family, but they can’t own a gun.
They are considered adults, but they can;t own a gun.

Okay. You want them to remain children. So no more military, no more voting, no more marriage or divorce without parental consent, no more driving cars, no more smokes or booze, no more pot either, no more responsibility for being a daddy, no more working, no more being a man. Nope. They must remain children under the care of the uncaring government.

The leftists can’t have it both ways. Either they are adults, with all the rights of an adult, or they are children. What we need are police and federal officials who are willing to do their damned jobs. Most departments say that they “protect and serve” the people. Bull. Not in Florida. There they run away and serve themselves. That young man was sick, for a long time. No one did their job, had they done so, 17 people would be alive. Unless, of course, he blew them up or ran them down with a car. If someone is determined to kill, they will find a way.

A Short Holiday


We went on a brief holiday over the past four days. The more I am around people, the less I like them. Maybe it is because I am old, and I was raised with manners, expectations of certain social behaviors when in public, and on threat of perpetual grounding, expected the same from my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Things I witnessed this past week makes me wonder about the safety, sanity, and abilities of future generations.

Story One:

We were in the resort restaurant for the dinner buffet. The place was packed, as they usually are. After getting our Addie settled with her meal, I wandered off to check out the grown up menu. A woman pushed past me, and as she did I noticed she was wearing a bikini top and a pair of pajama bottoms with a pair of mukluk boots. Now, granted, we were at a place where the main attractions were the pools and slides, but at first glance she looked like she had jumped out of bed in her bra and pajamas to grab a meal. First of all, she was everything I hate in people. Loud, pushy, obnoxious, and demanding. Secondly, she was downright tacky. It is one thing to grab a snack in your swimsuit at the snack bar, but it is far different to turn up to dinner dressed like that. And don’t get me started on just how tacky it is for a grown woman to be running around in public in pajamas. How hard is it to throw on a pair of trousers or jeans, descent shoes and a top? I don’t even care if you need a bra and don’t wear one, but really, put some damned clothes on.

Story Two:

Same restaurant second day there. We were at the Breakfast buffet. (It’s cheaper and there are more choices.) I get in line behind a family of a mom with her two boys of about seven and nine. She is on her phone. The older boy grabs a plate and starts filling it with eggs. Four large serving spoons of scrambled eggs. Mom says nothing. He hits the bacon next. He scooped up no less than twelve pieces of bacon. Mom says, “Honey let me have some of that bacon.” She takes one piece off his plate. He dives back in and puts four or five more pieces on his plate and heads for the hash browns. By now the first plate is full. He gets a second plate, mind you he can come back for more. He fills the second plate with hash brown potatoes and covers them with gravy. Then hands the plates to his Mom, who takes them, and he heads to the cereal dispenser. He fills a bowl with Fruit Loops and milk and heads back to the table, where the server is setting down his hot chocolate and orange juice. Their table is right across from ours. Because I had never seen a skinny kid that age eat so much, I wanted to see what he would do. His mom nibbled her bacon and sipped on her coffee while she stayed on the phone. The boy ate a few bites of cereal, had a few sips of hot chocolate, and didn’t touch anything else. His mother never noticed. They got up and left and she was still on the phone. Someone needs a lesson on wasting food and greed. Oh, and on parenting.

Story Three:

We decided to take a drive up into the mountains to see the National Park. We went to a very cool place that has a drive through living history thing. That takes everyone to see the old settlement in the valley. It is about eleven miles round trip and there are loads of places to stop and take photos and go into the old buildings. We ended up behind a car with a family of five. Two parents, three kids. Like everyone, they had their windows down. Two of the kids, one on each side, were sitting on the window sill of the doors, hanging outside the car, leaning back as far as they could go. Granted, the speed limit was about ten miles an hour, but there were a lot of sudden stops as people would decide to leave the road and park to take photos etc. We followed them for about two miles, and ever single minute, I expected one or both of those kids to fall out of the car. I kept falling back as far as I could, terrified I would run one of them over after they hit the ground. Finally, they stopped and we got past them. About half a hour later they turned up at the ranger station. Someone called out to the woman in the car and asked her why she was allowing her kids to do something so dangerous. Her response had a lot of F words in it, and basically said it was no one’s business what she let her kids do. The first woman said it would be everyone’s business if one of those kids got hurt. More than a few folks agreed. The woman was on her phone and smoking her cigarette, the kids were running wild, trying to climb on everything they weren’t supposed to climb on, and she basically told everyone to go do something anatomically impossible. The dad never got out of the car or engaged with anyone. The rangers made the kids leave the exhibit after the two girls started fighting over stuff. Unbelievable.

Story Three:

Back at the restaurant the next day at lunch. Vastly busy. We were seated next to a table full of pre-teen boys between ten and twelve. There wasn’t a single parent near them. The tables were next to windows that looked out over the wave pool and water slides. Two of the boys turned around and were kneeling in their chairs backward. Then they started rocking them back on the legs and banging the backs of the chairs on the windows. I asked the wait staff if that was a good idea, the guy shrugged and said, “The windows are supposed to be break proof.” At my surprised look he said, “They’re being kids.” Then walked off. I called him back and asked to see a manager. I explained that all glass has a breaking point, all it takes is for the right amount of pressure to be applied at the right point. Even if it is shatter proof, it will crack, and sometimes it will fall from its frame causing the window to come crashing down and the kids could fall out of the window. She said she understood, but that they were not allowed to correct other people’s kids. So my husband got up and went over to the boys and said, “You know, banging into the windows might not be a good idea. If they break and you fall two stories to the walkway below, you could hurt yourselves. That would make the rest of your vacation suck.” They stopped, turned around and finished their meal and left. How hard was that? If you don’t say anything, kids will just keep on doing what they do until someone gets hurt. Especially boys that age who still haven’t learned to fear getting hurt.

Story Four:

Parents and phones. If you are going to spend upwards of three hundred dollars a day for a family to go on a holiday, why are you on your phone? It is supposed to be a FAMILY adventure. We saw kids from the age of three up doing their best to get their parents attention. The parents never put their damned phones down for a second. Two little girls about Addie’s age, somewhere between four and six were playing in the water right in front of their mommy. They were thrilled to get up the courage to go into the water up to their knees. They were having a great time, squealing and jumping around. “Mommy look! Mommy watch me! Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!!!” She had a phone in her hand, face buried in it. Not once did she look up, take a photo, or interact with them. It was no wonder that in minutes they were whining and crying. All they wanted was five seconds of Mommy’s time. That enraged me. Those poor kids. And it was like that everywhere we went at the resort. Parents on their phones, at the pool bar, ignoring their kids. Why the hell bother to take them anywhere if you aren’t going to enjoy time with them? I never took my phone out of the room while we were there. Neither did my husband. And Addie got every bit of attention she deserved.

Story Five:

I was waiting for the elevator to go to our room. Waiting with me was a mother and three teenage girls. The girls were surly and snarly. All of them complaining of different things. One in particular that I pegged around the age of fourteen was really snarky. The elevator comes and the doors open. Instead of allow the people on it to get off first, the mother and all three girls shoved their way on. The other family with four little children almost ended up with one child left behind. I got on just as the doors closed. The hateful girl sighed and rolled her eyes at me. When I asked if she could press the floor button for me since she was standing in front of the controls, she moved and snarled, “What am I, your slave?” I looked at her mother, she had her face buried in her phone. I pushed the button for my floor, then the brat stood back in front of the control panel and pushed down on her floor button. Her sister asked what she was doing and she said, “I don’t want to have to wait for anyone else to get on. Its and old fireman trick.” I said, “I don’t think that works on these new elevators, most of them require a key to make them stop working.” At that time we stopped. The people waiting were going down so didn’t get on. I didn’t say anything. We got to my floor. The girls piled off, I waited for the mother. She was still on her phone so I got off. I heard her say something, but didn’t understand her. I asked her what she said. She told me I was rude for not letting her get off with her daughters. I pointed out that the doors were getting ready to close so I kept them open so I could get off. She gave me a nasty look. So I said, “While your learning some manners of your own, why not teach some to your daughters as well. You aren’t the only people who are paying to stay here and we have just as much of a right to use the elevators as you and your daughters. If you don’t like people sharing the elevator, take the stairs.” I got the expected F word response. It wasn’t worth my time to deal with her idiocy. I figured she would get her karma response in dealing with those hateful girls of hers.

Story Six:

We had a great time. Addie loved everything from the swimming and wave pools and slides, to painting ceramics with me, and doing sand art with her Papa. She loved the ranger station where they helped her learn the life cycle of moths and butterflies, and she got a Junior Ranger Award for answering all the questions correctly afterwards. She got to have Old Time photographs with fancy costumes along with her Papa, and she ate at a real diner for the first time. We all stayed up too late, ate too much, and wore ourselves to a frazzle. It was too bad so many other kids weren’t having fun with their parents or grandparents, and so many parents were acting annoyed to be there. Addie was in her element as the center of our attention, and the one melt down she had was quickly under control because a time out sitting in the middle of Nana’s bed with nothing to do is no fun. Next holiday, I think we need to go somewhere that has a lot fewer people and a lot more nature.

I Am Take A Side


I find it deeply disturbing that everyone wants to start screaming hatred at each other when discussing this horrific act of violence against innocent human beings. It becomes political from the moment it happens, and it just keeps getting more and more vicious as everyone takes a side.
Well, I am taking a side.
I am taking the side of the parents who will bury a child, be it one of the students, or their son or daughter who was a teacher.
I am taking the side of the community that will now bury 17 of their neighbors.
I am taking the side of the first responders, police officers, and adults who had to face the horror inside the school in the aftermath of the shootings, who will face the nightmares that will come from those hours.
I am taking the side of the students who lost friends, and who will have to go back to school and remember the fear.
I am taking the side of the mothers who will mourn for the rest of their lives.
I am taking the side of the fathers who will forever feel as if they didn’t protect their lost child.
I am taking the side of the victims, each one whose life was cut off without warning, though no fault of their own.
I am taking a side that condemns the media, pundits, and hate filled rhetoric of the people who think their opinion about guns is more important that taking time to pray for, with, and about the deep sorrow of the families of those who died.
I am taking a side. It isn’t about us, it is about them. I hope you will join me.

A Blank Page


There is something about a blank page that bugs me. It doesn’t matter if it is on my computer screen or a real piece of paper, it screams out for something, anything, to be written or drawn on it to make it unique.

When my kids were little, paper was a way to keep them entertained for all of two minutes while I made a bathroom stop. A notebook and pencil in my purse or diaper bag was a must to hold off boredom in places like restaurants and church. As they got older, we used paper and pencils to write words, and draw pictures to go with them. Sometimes, if we were in an appropriate, and sometimes not appropriate, place we would make paper airplanes, or fans, or anything we could by folding paper. It was a useful tool.

Then, when my kids were teenagers, before we all had text messaging, they left me notes on the fridge, the front door, in my car, and sometimes, on me, to remind me of things they needed or places they needed to be. I did the same for them and for my husband. Notes became an every day way of communicating in a busy teenage household.

But always, through the years, writing down my life was a part of my daily routine. I filled pages of paper in journals telling my story. Then I started writing down imaginary stories, always trying to write something that would teach, lead, or entertain others. I wrote letters, by hand, and notes saying Thank You, or You Are Invited To An Event, to others. I wrote love letters to my husband, and letters of appreciation and admonition to my children and grandchildren. I wrote the histories of my ancestors, and reams of papers for college courses.

Today, I still write every day. Sometimes it is just a blog, sometimes I work on a book or a short story, sometimes I just write an email, a response on social media, or to my elected officials. Like reading every day, writing is as much a part of my life as breathing. I can’t imagine being unable to do either.

So, today, when I was faced with a blank page, I thought about how important it is to write things down. Because once you are gone, and your children are gone, who will remember what you said, how you though, or the feelings that filled your life? This is your chance to put down the words that mean something to you. This is your time to tell your own story, opine on your ideas and dreams, and your time to say what you really think about any and every subject that comes to mind.

Every personal story is important. Without personal accounts of events, real history will be lost to the ages. All that will be left is what the professional politicians had to say, or the media of the day had to say, not what every day people had to say about a moment in time. Daily grind events are just as important as life changing events. And in the future, some many times great grandchild will sit in wonder reading what you really thought, did, or felt in your life. It will amaze, thrill, and surprise them with the turn of every page. Write it down. Inquiring minds will want to know.

A blank page is an opportunity. Don’t waste it.