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.

Women in the Salon


I went to the nail salon today, this time my nails are lime green. A very pretty and happy color. Addie will love them. The place was busy for a Wednesday morning. It struck me as I was getting my nails done, how very alike all women are when in the company of other women, no matter where they come from.

There were two women from Mexico, at least their accent was more Mexican than Central American. They were chatting about one of their boyfriends, and how much of a jerk he was at times. I had to look up a few of the words they used I had never heard before. I won’t repeat them, they were really quite insulting to any man. But, the conversation was very typical of what two good friends would talk about when it comes to a possibly unfaithful boyfriend or husband.

The women who work there are all from Cambodia. I can’t understand what they say, I don’t speak that language at all. But, they were talking about children since one of them took out her phone and showed the photos of her little girl to the others and the lady she was working on. Then she showed her to me. A real darling. So the lady doing my nails got her phone out and showed off her son, who is three, and learning to play the piano. No kidding, he is three and he can read music. He was cute too, and talented. We did the back and forth about how bright kids seem to be today.

All of the clients in there were Americans. Black and white women, from about 30 through a little older than I am. The younger women were talking about yoga, where to buy good leggings, boutique shops and wine. The older women were chatting about age related issues, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. One lady had fourteen great grandchildren and another on the way. She won. The rest of us either had one or two great grandkids, or none.

It was so typical, familiar, comfortable to be in a room of women who were just chatting, being women all together, regardless of the fact that we were from different places, spoke different languages, and live different lifestyles. We all have the same things in common. Things that we can all relate to no matter our age or place in our lives.

Folks who know me well knows I don’t particularly like other women. I especially dislike snobby, holier than thou females who love to put other women down with their superiority and gossip. I loathe women who enjoy hurting others when they aren’t there to defend themselves. I tend to put females like that in their place as soon as they start their hateful spewing. It takes me a long time to trust any female because I have been hurt and used a few times too many.

Today was a pleasant interlude, refreshing, and enjoyable. Women just being women together, laughing, chatting, and talking. It was a good way to start my day. I hope that one girl dumps her cheating boyfriend, I think she will because she was past the hurt and on to furious. I hope the little boy keeps playing the piano, and the little girl grows up to be as sweet and pretty as her mother. I hope all the moms, grandmothers, and great grandmothers love themselves as much as they love their progeny. I hope they all left feeling as refreshed as I did and the feelings linger as they have for me.

Oh, and I learned where the best place to buy good wine is in town, and how much I can expect to spend. I don’t drink, but one never knows when that information will come in handy. Sometimes, going to the salon is a chore, sometimes it is just a room full of women being women in the salon. It was a good morning.

Being A Guard Angel


My five year old great granddaughter asked. “Nana, do you love Papa?”

I told her, “Of course I love Papa. Why?” She just shrugged her shoulders.

Then she asked me, “Nana, do love my mommy?”

Again, I answered, “Yes, I love your mommy. Why did you ask me that?” She shrugged again as she sat on the floor playing with her Barbie dolls.

After a few minutes, she asked, “Nana, do you love me?”

I said, “Of course I love you. You are my angel baby. I will love you forever. Why would you ask me that?”

She climbed into my lap and leaned her head on my chest. “Will you love me when you die?”

I had to fight tears. “Oh, Addie, I will love you no matter what. Even if I die, I will always love you every day forever..”

Then she asked me, “Will you be my guard angel?” I must have looked confused. “My guard angel will always help me make good choices, and you always help me make good choices.”

I got it then. So I said, “Of course I will be your guardian angel. And I will watch over you all of your life. But I don’t plan on dying any time soon. I want to be here while you grow up into a smart, strong, beautiful young woman.”

She sighed, snuggled into my arms. “Good. Because I love you, you are my best Nana. You will be a good guard angel.”

She climbed out of my lap and went back to playing with her dolls. Then she said, “Everyone is a Child of God. Even when they are naughty. God loves everyone. I think he will be happy when you are one his angels. You won’t let anyone get away with being naughty.”

I went from teary eyed to laughter. If you listen, you can hear the most wonderful things from the heart of a child.

I love my angel baby. She fills my heart with such tender love and gentle joy. So, yes, my granddaughter, I love you more than I can ever say. You are the greatest unexpected blessing a Nana could ever have. I will be your guard angel right here on earth as long as God lets me stay, and I will always watch over you until we meet again in heaven. Thank you for asking.

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.

Sorry, But….


Sorry, but… is a phrase that really, realty annoys me. I hear it all the time, everywhere. The conversation goes something like this: Someone is laughing loudly about something. He or she finally gets under control and says, “Sorry, but that was hilarious.” Sorry? For what? Laughing, or because whatever was funny was insulting to someone else. Or bordered on being rude, overtly sexual, sexist, or any number of “ists or isms?” Sorry because you were loud? Sorry because, well, just because?

Why is it imperative that people now think they must always apologize for what they say or do both before and after they say or do something? If you do something, you mean it, or don’t do it. If you are going to say something that might hurt someone’s feelings, and you don’t want to or mean to, don’t say it. Otherwise, the apologetic murmur of the word, sorry, means absolutely nothing. If you are “sorry,”there is no “but” following, it is what it means, an apology.

Stop doing that. Stop saying that. You don’t mean you are sorry, or you wouldn’t do or say hurtful things in the first place. If you are ashamed of your upcoming statement or behavior, then you need to curb your tongue and control your impulses. You cannot salve hurt feelings by prefacing your words with “sorry, but…” and expect people to listen to you or trust your words and actions. It is one of the most passive aggressive utterances available to those with a lack of decorum and compassion.

There is no need to be “sorry but…” if you are a kind, sincere, aware person. There is no need to utter “sorry, but” if you say what you mean and mean what you say. Anything less is simply a manufactured and insincere utterance to cover your bad behavior. That is decidedly not cool.

Happy Holy Day


This weekend is a Holy weekend for Christians. Today, Friday, is a Holy Day for Jewish people. Blessings of the Passover to all of my Jewish friends and family, and Blessings for a spiritual and joyous Easter to my Christian friends and family. And to those who enjoy the secular Easter celebrations of egg hunts and baskets, I hope you have a lot of fun too.

There are people who get very testy about how one celebrates these Holy days, or in some cases, don’t. I don’t understand that sort of attitude. As a religious Christian, I look on this Holy day called Easter that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a commemoration of the greatest day in the events of human history. Everyone knows the story, I need not go into it here, but to me, it is a Holy, and sacred day. That is me.

However, there are millions of people who see it from the perspective of a non religious, or non practicing Christian, or no religious background. In America, and a few other countries, it is a commercial holiday that is third in the most money spent on candy and other gifts during the calendar year. Only Christmas and Valentine’s Day initiate more spending than Easter. I don’t mind that. If that is what Easter means to them, so be it. At least they are spending time with family or friends and having a joyous day. I don’t understand the folks who think they have to be holier than thou and judgmental about how or when non religious people celebrate.

I could go into a long dissertation on the history of Passover, the Roman gods and goddesses, the budding Christian faith in the years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the way the Romans meshed all religions together, and on and on and on, but my point is, we all have the right in the United States of America, to believe and celebrate any Holy day or not as we, individually, see fit. Insisting that one way is the only way to acknowledge the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ goes against the very teachings of the man himself. In Matthew 7:1-2, the Bible says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” King James Version.

 

Everyone is judgmental on something at some point everyday. Humans tend to be tenacious on things that mean a lot to them. It is human nature, and we are warned over and over in all scriptures to stop judging others. We don’t. Then we get mad when we think others are judging us, or worse, assume they are judging us because they hold a differing opinion. Stop doing that. Disagreeing doesn’t mean either one is specifically wrong on a given topic. It means folks see things from differing perspectives. Take a moment out of your hubris and determination that you are superior and that your definition is the be all end all of definitions, breathe, and allow others to express themselves. You don’t have to agree, or even agree to disagree, you just need to give them space to talk themselves into a corner. Then, using facts, logic, history, and persuasion, state your purpose without heat, emotions, or hubris. And walk away. It isn’t easy, people, but it does work.

 

To all my family and friends, have a blessed Holy day, for whatever reason you celebrate. Secular, religious, Jewish, or Christian, all that matters is that you love one another, have compassion for others, and let joy find you as you celebrate the day.

The Daily Grind


Most of us get out of bed, go to work doing what we must, or if we are fortunate, what we want for a living. At the end of the day we go home, out to dinner, indulge in our hobby or spend time with family and friends, then we go to bed and do it all over again the next day. Our weekends, or days off, differ only in that we have a different routine for those days. We march or shuffle along in our individual brain cloud, day after day, until we are old. People call it the daily grind.

But, sometimes, we trip or stumble and fall out of step with our routine. The majority of us will jump right back into our normal shuffled march quickly forgetting that we were, for a brief moment, out of time, and that we had a moment to see the world from a different perspective. However, some of us see the opportunity being out of step gives us. We see the world, the grind, as a limiting agent and take that stumble or trip up as a chance to explore our world and change our daily grind into something more interesting. A person might discover an unknown truth about themselves, or idea that enriches their lives. They might meet someone they would never have known if they hadn’t stumbled or tripped. They could, if they wanted, find a new direction to travel, even if they still have a daily grind.

For some, however, a trip or stumble sends them wandering, lost and confused, across a barren world, filled with obstacles that baffle and discombobulate them, creating stress and strife. It takes them longer than most to get back into the daily routine, or to find another purpose, but they eventually do, or they stay lost and confused.

Many people, and this is sad to me, will turn their backs on change, preferring to live in their same old boring world, day in and day out, until all they have to look forward to is old age, illness, and death. I don’t understand not taking the road less traveled, or taking the opportunity to climb a new mountain to discover what is on the other side. Life is an adventure. Even the daily grind can be disrupted and interesting in itself, if you bother to look up instead of down at your feet.

Stumbles and trip ups may make us fall down, and getting up might be harder than expected. The struggle makes us stronger, so we are less likely to fall down again, at least not for the same reason. Our perspective is changed from being so far down we have to work hard to stand on an even keel again. Lying there can give one a different idea of how people in that position live and see their world, but at the end of the day one can stew in their misery or find a way to crawl out of it and move forward toward a better place in life.

I stumble regularly. One thing I have learned is that I need to grab the opportunity to change myself, my world, my direction, or my ideas. I think we all need to look at the obstacles in our lives as something to overcome, or at least climb on, to see the better world ahead. I want to die having a grand adventure, even if it is only managing to get from my rocking chair to the mail box and back every day. There might be something really interesting in that box, or not, but I won’t know unless I take a chance on stumbling.

What’s Up With That?


People are strange. Maybe it is because I am old, but I find human behavior baffling, and sometimes, annoying, on a daily basis. Everyone is so tied up in themselves or something that they don’t seem to see the world around them, or participate in the moment. I will keep people watching, I can’t help it. I don’t even have to go to a zoo to watch their behavior, it is all played out right in front of me. For instance:

I noticed a woman driving in car, holding her phone as she talked into it. Nothing new about that, but she was also waving her other hand around as she talked. What I wanted to know was how she was driving the car if both hands were busy? Was she using her knees to steer, her feet, or was a short person in her lap steering while she talked with her hands? With all the pot holes in the streets of Memphis, she was taking a real chance on wrecking if she didn’t have some sort of hold on the steering wheel. What’s up with that?

I have noticed that a lot of folks talk on their phones like that. They hold them flat, talking into one end held close to their mouths, while listening to the speaker – generally on as loud as it can be. I call it the pizza talking position, as if they are going to take a bite of the phone. All of us in hearing range get to be spectators to the conversation. Conversations that, need I say, should be private. This is something that happens in very public places like restaurants and doctor’s offices. If I were one to gossip, the stories I could tell you would be shocking. What is up with that?

I have noticed, not that I could miss it if I tried, women of very round proportions wearing leggings on the verge of splitting. And yoga pants so tight that it is obvious to one an all exactly what kind of underwear they have on, or not. I, myself, am a well rounded woman. I am not standing in a position of a skinny Minnie fat shaming women. I simply cannot understand why anyone would want the world to see every single lump and bump of fat on their body. It is not pretty, sexy, or alluring, and it leaves them open to ridicule. Women of a particular size can be all those things without wearing clothing that points out all their less attractive attributes. But they don’t. What’s up with that?

I have noticed that any group of women, no matter what group, tends to get louder and more shrill as time goes by. Communication takes place on multiple levels. Verbal is the most obvious, followed by hand and body movements, but the most complex and interesting are the verbal tone and facial movements they make together. They can say a nice thing, but if you look at the raised eyebrow, the slightly off tone, the look they give one another, an entirely different meaning of the words they say comes forth. And the most interesting thing, is that men are oblivious to the Female Code of communication. Unless, of course, they are a metrosexual, emasculated male or gay. What’s up with that?

I have noticed that older couples often sit at a table in a restaurant and never speak to each other. They are on their phones, or simply ignore each other. Granted, some might simply be tired, or dealing with issues, but not everyone. And they don’t smile, at anyone. I can’t imagine not having something to talk about with my husband, even if it is nothing more that a chat about the kids or grandkids. I can’t imagine not smiling at people, especially cute little kids who always deserve a smile, or the servers who are working so hard. But they don’t. What’s up with that?

I am going to keep on people watching. I can’t help it. I keep seeing new ways that they astound and baffle me.