Monkeys and Muskrats

What is this world coming to? First Justin Bieber gets arrested for DWI and drag racing then I find out that Captain and Tennille are divorcing after forty years of marriage. You mean that love will not keep them together?!?!

Now anyone surprised by the first news needs to wake-up! If you know who Justin Bieber is you saw this coming miles away. Seriously, once the whole monkey thing happened in Germany I knew an arrest for something was imminent. This guy has been spiraling out of control for far too long and it seems no one in his life cares enough about him to do anything. Enough said about him, I pray he gets his act together before irreparable damage is done.

Now hearing about Captain and Tennille divorcing… WHAT?!?! I grew up LOVING the Captain and Tennille. Way back when I was in grade school, I remember going to get my hair cut just like Tennille’s (stop it, I swear it was in style at one time…) Who wasn’t in love with the quirky couple who sang things like “Muskrat Love”, “Do That To Me One More Time” and “Butterscotch Castle”? Looking back most of their songs could be appropriately placed under “things that make you go hmmmmm.” Now I fully realize that it was a different time and place but I really do have a hard time imagining there ever being a time when loving like muskrats seemed like a good idea. Why not naked mole rats? Or honey badgers? Nope, the Captain obviously overcome by his love for her, must have looked at Tennille one day and said, “I love you like one muskrat loves another!” and she obviously was impressed. Obviously!

Unfortunately, as we are finding out, even when its Muskrat Suzie and Muskrat Sam muskrat love must not last, he must have done that to her one too many times and love will not keep them together. It’s sad but true people, all good things must come to an end even the 1970’s love stories and bell bottom jeans. The next thing you know someone will say Sonny and Cher didn’t last…

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Like Father Like Son

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Today is a school holiday for my hubby. It means he’s home for the entire day with nothing he has to do. Now that does not mean he won’t parade around the kitchen (like he is doing right now) looking for something to do. He’ll wander into the boys’ rooms trying to see if there is anything that needs attention. Then he’ll go upstairs to check out the bonus room to make sure it’s all in order. The entire time he is doing this I will be sitting at my desk thinking “should I get up and go see if he wants me to help him with something?” (Nah!!) Lastly he will walk back into the den before saying, “I think I’ll head outside to piddle.”

Oh how I love this man!! I love the fact that doing nothing is not even in his make-up. I can walk into a room and see nothing that needs doing but Tim, he walks into the same room and sees twenty things that could be better. Whether it is tightening a screw in a table or repainting a chalk board wall to freshen it up, he sees it all!

Of course there was not much of a chance he would turn out any different because his dad was the same way. I remember Papa always piddling in the outside shop or in the study or even upstairs in the attic. He was always doing something. When the boys were little we spent many an afternoon at my in-laws with the boys playing in the yard while the Ruth and I happily sat around watching… but not Papa. He would get up and toss a ball with the boys or go pull out a riding toy for them to play on. Just like Tim he had to be doing something.

So I think I’ll put my computer up now and head outside to piddle with my hubby. Who knows, I might actually learn a new skill like suburban squirrel hunting or winter lawn mower maintenance or even how to take apart and reassemble a leaf blower. Oh the possibilities!!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

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I love getting Christmas cards, especially photo Christmas cards. Even though I’m not a card sender, there are still a lot of people in this world who love me and my family anyway (who knew?!?!) Oh I say I’m going to send cards every year but then I take a thousand photos of the boys and the BEST one looks like the photo this:

boys

I know, one looks ok but the other two… in spite of what they say, would be mad at me and probably not give me a Christmas gift. (and who takes their Christmas card photo in a restaurant?? Yes, the ridicule would never end…)

Every day from Thanksgiving on, I look forward to getting the mail in spite of the bills because it usually contains a Christmas card or ten. When sorting the mail I put the cards off to one side and open them last so that I can savor them. The very best part of the cards we get is watching the families expand and seeing the kids as they grow up. We have begun to get cards from children who we saw grow up that now have children of their own. We have so many friends that we haven’t seen in years who still remember us every year with a Christmas card. In spite of my lack of planning, these people who we have known forever, still think fondly enough of us to send us their smiles.

So on this day that we celebrate the most important birthday ever in the world, I wanted to share with you what I would say in my Christmas card to everyone this year:

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us!

Dear All

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As I opened our first card of the Christmas season, I was reminded of my mother-in-law who is truly one of a kind. At the wonderful age of 91, she still has more life in her than some twenty year olds I know. When looking back on what makes her so full of life, I have come to the conclusion that it’s because she truly LOVES people. Some people read, others paint, still others love working with flowers but Mema, she socializes.

She spent many years writing what we call her “Dear All” letter every Thursday as she sat under the dryer at the beauty shop. No matter what was going on in her life (or the world for that matter) Thursday mornings at 9:00am Mema was at the beauty shop getting her hair done. I get the feeling that had any of her children tried to come into this world on a Thursday morning, she would have politely told them to wait… and I’m also quite certain they would have obeyed!!

But I digress, Mema’s “Dear All” letter went out to an untold number of people. One lucky recipient would get the original each week, while all the others would get a mimeograph copy. (I have to mention at this point that her handwriting, while a lovely script, was challenging to say the least and there was an innate sense of pride whenever I was able to decode an entire letter…yay me!) As technology advanced, she migrated to a “Dear All” email that while not written under the dryer was still sent out to scores of people (most I knew but some… still no clue) I loved the fact that she signed her letters “Ruth, Grandma, Mema, Ruppie” denoting the various names she was called by the multitudes in her life.

Yes, one thing Tim inherited from his mother is her love of people. If Ruth Reeve became your friend, she was your friend for life. She kept up with you and your children and your children’s children. Whenever we visited her in Carrollton, there was always time in the study for her to catch me up on all the goings on of the people in her life. In fact, Christmas was my favorite time to visit because I got to look at the hundreds of photo Christmas cards she and Papa received every year. (Not even exaggerating here people, HUNDREDS!!) So every year as Christmas cards begin to arrive, I am taken back to the kitchen in her house and all the time I spent over the years looking at all of the Christmas cards taped up on display. And Mema would not only take the time to tell me the names of every person on every card, she would also tell me about their relatives not on the card.

So I guess in my own way, this is my daily Dear All letter. Here’s hoping I can make half the friends in my lifetime that Mema made in hers.

We Sit In A Circle

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(Painting by Joan Breckwoldt)

We sit in a circle. The circle changes from week to week but for the most part it’s the same group. Some weeks there are tears, some weeks there is laughter, every week there is acceptance. We are as different as women can be on the outside. We go to different churches, our kids are in different schools, our ages are as varied as our incomes but we always find common ground in Christ. Everything from issues with kids to marital questions to how do I find myself in all the chaos. I LOVE the fact that this group has gotten to know me, and loves me anyway! Can I get an AMEN?!?!?

You would think when you put this many women in a room, there would be at least one cat fight every now and then… especially considering this group is made up of everything from southern belles to Yankees to military brats with a Midwesterner thrown in just for good measure. But we’re pretty boring people… there has yet to be a single cat fight!! However, I do love it when as I am saying something I see one of the other gals start doing the “I’ve got something to say” squirm because I know that like it or not, I’m about to hear the truth y’all!

What it all boils down to is that. THE TRUTH. Seriously, how often do you have people speak the truth to you? When you mention a spat with your husband friends say things like “poor you” and “it will all work out.” But not these gals. Nope, they look you square in the eye and say “you realize you were wrong don’t you? Now what are you going to do about it?” There’s no protecting of feelings in this group because when we signed up earlier this year, we signed up for the truth. And good or bad, that’s just what we‘ve got!!

The Good Old Days?

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I’m not sure when it happened, but I know it was many years ago. One day instead of dreading bedtime, I found myself longing for bedtime. Counting the hours and minutes until I could crawl blissfully between the covers and shut out the world. I feel certain this happened around the time my children were born but I can’t be certain. There are many things about those days that are, well, fuzzy to be honest.

I remember the days way back when the boys were little and they were only up for an hour or so after dinner. That little bit of time was taken up with our bedtime ritual. It seemed like as soon as the dinner dishes were cleared, the marathon was on: bath time, the great toy clean up, wrestling them into their pj’s, picking out the bedtime book, prayers, then finally lights out. Ahhhhh…I still remember that feeling like it was yesterday. That beautiful feeling of sitting down for the evening knowing that my job was done, at least for the night. Of course there was still plenty to do around the house but what I then did was of my choosing, no longer dictated by the whims and wants of my adorable little boys. Some nights lots got done and others nights…well, books got read and rest happened.

It’s funny that I remember the hustle and bustle of bedtime when my boys have been out of that routine for so very long. Maybe it’s all the Halloween costumes posted online that make me feel nostalgic for the days gone by. Days when my boys were small enough to fit in my lap, little enough to run across the yard and jump into my arms, days when they would fall asleep on my shoulder after insisting they were not tired. It’s enough to make me want to go back to those days and do it all again…Nah! Who am I kidding? I loved them then, but I think I love them even more now… now that they can dress, feed and clothe themselves.

I’ll never be nominated as mother of the year but then again, who needs some silly trophy that requires cleaning when I’ve got three living breathing reminders of where we’ve been and where we are! Yes, this much you can be sure of, I love my boys… my just about fully grown, almost supporting themselves, handsome, intelligent boys.

Yes, I Asked Him

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So I briefly mentioned yesterday that I asked Tim to marry me. What?!?! You people act like that’s not normal. Ok, I admit it, I have come to realize that there is a lot about Tim and me that is definitely not “normal.” So let me just give you the low down.

I was one of those girls that knew right away if the guy was a keeper or not. Therefore, I didn’t go on many second dates and heaven knows I went on what seemed like THOUSANDS of first dates. (At one point in the mid-80’s, my photo was beside “Blind Date” in the dictionary… seriously.) In the spring of 1988, when I was actually dating someone, it was a normal thing that we’d go to his church league softball games. What wasn’t normal, was that one game where I found myself laying eyes on the guy that would be my husband and knowing it without a doubt. It was strange, I’ll admit, but I knew the second I laid eyes on Tim that he was the man God wanted me to marry. I broke up with the other fella that night because when God tells you that you’ve found the one that’s what you do (call me crazy, but it HAS been 24 years and we’re still together!) So I set out the very next day trying to meet this “Tim” that was destined to be mine.

It took from May to October to actually get to meet Tim because shortly after laying eyes on him, he left for a three month mission trip to Sweden with about 20 girls (again, I ask you, what do you mean that’s not normal??!?!) Well once Tim was back in the stares and I finally wrangled a meeting, in my mind it was a done deal. So mid-December, a mere six short weeks after we met, I told Tim I wanted to be married to him…. by the next Christmas. He was a bit shocked by my forwardness but I knew if left up to him, we’d still be just dating!! So yes, I asked Tim to marry me (24 years and counting people… 24 years.)

People always want to know what my parents thought about our whirlwind courtship, but you have to remember these are the people that raised me. They knew me and knew that when I was sure of something, I was sure (plus I think they were just hoping someone would marry me so I could get off the payroll!) It also didn’t hurt that Tim actually asked my dad for my hand in marriage before he did the actual “here’s a ring, let’s make this official” proposal.

It’s not always been easy, but it’s never been dull. When all is said and done, I’ll take interesting over boring any day. I love that man of mine more every day and can I just say that when you’re right, you’re right? Yep, 24 years and counting!!

A Real BFF…

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I was seven years old when Lynne chose me. Chose me for what you might ask? To be her best friend, confidant and partner in crime. Why did she choose me? I’ll never know but I’m oh so blessed she did. When Lynne and I met, I was a shy, introverted second grade little girl who did everything she could to fade into the background. As the youngest of three kids each a year a part, I was most concerned with not causing trouble. Of course that ALL changed with time and most importantly with Lynne (yep, I’m blaming you!)

My first clue that life as Lynne’s BFF would be different should have come when we were in middle school and she walked into homeroom to inform me that we were going to be in a community play where she would have the lead and I would have a secondary role. K? Ok…and we were. Lynne has the gift of giving… not of gifts (even though she’s good at that) but of true potential. She gave me the confidence to be on stage in spite of my total lack of talent and ability not to mention my terror of speaking in public.

My ballroom dancing skills, tennis prowess, date to the Junior Prom (hi Jeff!), bizarre sense of humor and uncanny ability to burst out laughing at the MOST inappropriate time are all credited to Lynne. For some reason when she was doing life with me, I had no fear of failure, rejection or falling short. She embraced life with such joy that I just assumed it would all be fine. And you know what? It was.

Those that know me now struggle to believe me when I tell them how painfully shy I was before Lynne. You see in just the last 10 years I’ve spoken at women’s retreats & events, been the design coordinator for a major golf tournament, led countless Bible studies and often get accused of working the room wherever I am. The very confident woman you see today was many years in the making.

I know that much of what I am today is because Lynne refused to take “no” for an answer. Now we were not always building character and good life skills but since I’m not sure if the statute of limitations has expired yet, I’ll keep most of our adventures to myself. What I will tell you is that 38 years later with us both happily married and mothers to seven kids total, we are still best friends (yeah, yeah I know I’m supposed to say my husband is my best friend but realistically, I never would have had the courage to go out with much less ask him to marry me if it weren’t for her… so he understands!) So to all of you out there like me, make sure you thank the Lynne’s in your life for helping you become the woman you were truly intended to be. If she’s anything like my Lynne you can do that by sending her a few dozen macaroons.