Category Archives: Parenting

Writing 101 – Day Twelve: “(Virtual) Dark Clouds on the Horizon”

Day  Twelve – (Virtual) Dark Clouds on the Horizon: 

* Today’s Prompt:  Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

* Today’s Twist:  Include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

As we sat around the dinner table on that Friday evening in May, everyone in my family was in good spirits. After all, Memorial Day was the following weekend, which meant a longer weekend for everyone. My husband was taking the next Friday off work and since the following Monday was Memorial Day itself, we were planning to take a family camping trip, something which everyone always enjoyed.

“So Dad,” said my son Joe, “do you think the fish will be biting next weekend up at the lake where we’ll be camping?”

“Well, they’d better be. Or else why go camping, right?” my husband Mike laughed, thinking he’d just made the funniest joke in the world.

I rolled my eyes.

“You know, dear, there is more to do than just fishing on a camping trip,” I said.

“Nothing that’s worthwhile, right, Joe?” He laughed again and Joe played along, laughing right with him.

“Honestly, Dad, you think you’re so funny,” my oldest daughter Sarah exclaimed.

“Yeah, Dad,” my youngest daughter Stephanie agreed.

“Okay, okay. Enough said. By the way, Sarah,” Mike continued, “I think maybe we should go out after dinner and have you practice your driving. What do you think?”

Sarah was silent, her eyes downcast as she pushed her food around on her plate. This was really out of the norm for my usually talkative daughter.

“Sarah?” Mike looked at her intently. “Sarah, did you hear what I said?”

“Yes, Dad. I heard you.” Sarah said this in such a soft voice that I could barely hear her.

“Well, don’t you think that’s a good idea?”

“I’m just not sure if I’m ready.”

“Not ready? Honey, you’ve been taking driver’s ed classes at school the entire last term and from your scores, you passed with flying colors. It seems to me that you’re more than ready. You’ve been behind the wheel in school, and I think it’s time for you to get behind the wheel here at home, don’t you?”

“I . . . I just don’t know, Dad.”

“Well, I do. You have to do it some time, or you’re never going to get your driver’s license.”

“But . . . but I’m afraid, Dad.”

“Afraid? What are you afraid of, honey?”

“I’m afraid that something bad is going to happen.”

“Oh, nothing bad is going to happen, I promise. And besides, I’ll be right there with you. It’ll be okay. You just have to get in there and do it, that’s all. And once you do, you’re going to wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Just try, okay? That’s all I ask.”

“Oh . . . I . . . I don’t know . . .”student driver

“Please, honey?”

“Oh . . . okay, I guess.”

“That’s my girl. It’ll be fine. You’ll see.”

And soon after all the dishes were finished being washed, dried, and put away, Mike and Sarah left for her driving practice. I noticed quite a contrast between the two of them as they left the house. Mike had the look of a proud father with a twinkle in his eye and a beaming smile; whereas Sarah had a worried look on her youthful countenance, with a furrowed brow and her lips curved down instead of the radiant smile she usually displayed. And as they walked down the driveway and into the garage, Mike did it with a bounce in his step; whereas Sarah shuffled slowly and hesitantly. For some reason, as they were opening the doors to the car, I offered up a prayer for their safety.

About an hour later, I was sitting in the living room watching a television program when suddenly I heard a loud boom! The first thought that came to my mind was: Goodness! I didn’t realize that we were going to get a storm this evening, but wasn’t that thunder I just heard? I looked out through my living room window for a peek at the clouds, but sure enough, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. This was when I realized that something was terribly wrong.

I rushed into the kitchen to look out through the kitchen window and that’s when I saw what had happened. The car that Sarah and Mike had left home in had returned, but it was not parked in the garage. It had crashed through the garage wall next to the garage door. I gasped as I realized that they were still inside, but before I even had time to react, the car doors opened and both of them emerged from the car.

Sarah was the first one to enter the house. As she rushed past me, the only thing I heard her say in an angry voice was: “I will never drive for as long as I live. Never!”

I learned from my husband that on entering the driveway, Sarah confused the brake pedal with the accelerator. He also said that if they had hit the garage wall only two feet over to the right, the entire garage wall would have come down on them. Thank God for small miracles.

I think my husband learned a valuable lesson that night – that everything has its own time. And my daughter also learned a lesson that night – that she should learn to trust herself and her feelings.

Eventually Sarah did get over her fear of driving and today she drives with the best of them. And she still has a great gift of intuition, which comes to her naturally and hereditarily. The only difference is that now she has learned to trust it.

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The Boy Who Was Meant To Be Our Son

The time had come for my husband and me to make a momentous decision that would change our lives forever. Both of us had grown up in big families; Mike had five siblings, and I had six. We both knew the joys and happiness of being part of a large family, and we wanted to have the same kind of family – with at least three children

We had moved into our four bedroom home about eight years before, but the rooms were empty and the silence was deafening. We wanted to hear the sound of children padding down the hallway in their slippers. We wanted to say goodnight prayers with them before they went to sleep. We wanted to be good parents and encourage and comfort our children as needed. This was our wish, but no matter how hard we tried, our wish would not come true.

Actually, I had been pregnant once. It was right before we moved into our house. During this time, we were so excited and happy.  We thought it was the perfect time to have a baby. Naturally, I wanted to share our happiness so I called my mother, all my sisters and my brother and told them the good news.  Mike did the same with his side of the family. At that time, life seemed so perfect.

Then it happened.  Two days after my pregnancy was confirmed, I suffered a miscarriage and our perfect dream was ruined.

I will never forget that tragic day. I was so depressed and so unhappy. What if I could never give birth to a child? What would we do then? We had tried so many times to get pregnant and when we finally did, I miscarried. Our hopes and dreams of a big family soon grew dim.

Three more years passed by and still no baby. We went to fertility specialists and had all sorts of tests and procedures done.  Nothing happened. No matter what we tried, I still did not become pregnant.

It was around this time I decided I needed a change of pace.The plan was for me to go to nursing school, and when I graduated I could work in the operating room. I had two sisters who worked in the operating room and it sounded like the perfect job for me. My husband supported me in this decision, as he always did.

I started nursing school. I had a very hectic schedule. I would go to work in the morning, still working my full-time hours, and when I finished working for the day, I went to nursing school. Then I would get home around 10:00, eat something for dinner, and shortly after that I would retire to my bed.The next morning, I woke up and started all over again. My weekends were filled with studying and doing clinicals. These were the hours we spent at the hospital working as student nurses. It was valuable experience.

But no matter how hard I worked, whether it be at my job or in school, I knew there was still a hole in our lives. I also knew that the only thing that would fill this hole would be a baby. I talked with Mike about this and after many such discussions we decided that we would go ahead and adopt a child. After all, any child was God’s child, and we would be honored to raise one of God’s children.

We decided to go through Catholic Charities and begin the process of adoption. We wanted a newborn baby, and Mike wanted a son.  So after all the paperwork and red tape, it was finally just a matter of waiting for the baby. They informed us that it would be about three years for the adoption to occur. This meant that I would have plenty of time to graduate from nursing school and find a job working as a nurse before our baby came.

As the days passed by, we redecorated one of the bedrooms and made it into the nursery. We painted it blue because blue is Mike’s favorite color. I made curtains for the windows and a matching quilt for the crib. The theme for the nursery was “Care Bears”. . Care Bears were all over the room; in the curtains, in the quilt, in the pictures on the wall, and there were even Care Bear toys in the crib.

Next came the moment to hang a plaque on the wall which matched our sentiments exactly:  On the plaque were these words:

 Not flesh of my flesh,
 Nor bone of my bone,
 But still miraculously my own.

 Never forget for a single minute;
You didn’t grow under my heart

But in it.

As a final touch, we hung a cross on the wall; a symbol that our baby was loved by the Lord.

We  were finished.  All we had to do now was wait for our son to be born. We had already decided on a name.  We would name him Joseph Michael – Joseph after my husband’s father, and Michael after my husband.

Life continued with me working every day and going to school every night. Another year passed, and then it happened. I was home studying for a big exam that we were having that evening. As I was sitting in the kitchen, surrounded by all my books and notebooks, the telephone rang. It was my husband Mike.

“What are you doing?” he asked nonchalantly.

“I’m studying for the test – what do you think I ‘m doing?”  Because of the difficulty of the upcoming exam, I was under a lot of pressure, and therefore I was a little grumpy.

“Are you sitting down?”

“That is the standard position used to study for a test; of course I am sitting down!”  I kept thinking that we were wasting valuable time on the phone when I could be studying for the exam.

“Then I have something to tell you.”

“Okay, what is it?” I answered hoping the conversation was almost over.  I wished he would just hurry up and get it over with so I could get back to studying.

“She called!”

I could hardly believe it.  When Mike said “She called,” I knew exactly who he was referring to.  I don’t know how I knew it, but I did

“Really?  Oh my gosh, really?  This isn’t one of your pranks, is it?  Did she really call?”  He had finally gotten my attention and a shiver of excitement ran through me.

“Yes, dear, she did call.  I wouldn’t fool around about something like that. Anyway, she said that tomorrow we can come and pick up our son”.

Now this was too much. When Michael said we could pick up our son, I lost it. There was a huge lump in my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes. Before I knew it, there I was, crying like a baby.

“What’s the matter, Cindy? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine; I’m just so happy, that’s all, and it’s happening a lot earlier than we thought, so I’m surprised, too!” It was a minute or two before I gained my composure back, and then I started to ask questions.

“How big is he? When was he born? Is he eating cereal yet?” I questioned, as I gave Mike the third degree about our new son.

“Whoa, hang on honey. I didn’t ask her all those questions, but I knew you would, so she gave me her telephone number and said you could call any time and she’d give you all the details.”

So Mike gave me the telephone number and now I wanted to hang up so I could call the social worker.

“Well,” I said, “you’re probably pretty busy at work and I suppose I should let you go.”

Mike laughed. “Okay, okay, I get the hint. You want me to get off the line so you can call the social worker. It’s okay. I understand. Go ahead and call her and then we’ll talk before you go to class tonight. I think we have some planning to do.”

“You’re right about that. I’ll be waiting.”

When I put the receiver down my mind was spinning out of control. All I kept thinking about was the baby. What does he look like? How big is he? Does he have a family history of any medical problems? What day was he born on?

So it went on like that and after a few minutes, when I had calmed down, I picked up the receiver and started to dial the number Mike had given to me. My hands were shaking as I punched in each number, and the first time I dialed a wrong number. So I tried it again and this time I dialed the right number. After two rings it was picked up, and a friendly voice answered.

“Catholic Social Services. How may I help you?”

“I would like to speak to Lisa, please.”

“Of course, please hold and I will transfer you”.

As I was put on hold there was music playing softly on the line. I recognized the tune as Pachelbel’s Canon in D, one of my favorites. The melody was coming to an end when finally a voice caused the music to stop.

“This is Lisa.,  How may I help you?”

“Hi Lisa. This is Cindy. I believe you spoke with my husband a little while ago?”

“Yes I did. Tomorrow’s the big day! How are you feeling? Are you excited?”

“Oh my goodness, I am so happy and excited! \Words cannot even begin to describe how I feel. We are so excited, but we didn’t expect the baby for at least another year, so you have really taken us by surprise. Today we’ll have to go out and get diapers and formula and whatever else he may need. We do have the nursery completed, thank goodness.”

“That’s wonderful. Now tell me – do you have any questions?”

“Oh my, I have so many questions. How big is he?”

“He weighs 8 lbs, 9 oz. He is a big boy.”

“How old is he now?” I asked.

“Let’s see – here it is – he is eight weeks old”.

“Wow, he is young. What is his birth date?”

“Ok, let’s see – where did I find that before? Here it is. His birth date is listed as November 22nd.”

I could not believe my ears. November 22nd! My hands started to shake and I couldn’t hold back the tears that filled my eyes. Soon I was crying so hard that it seemed as though I would never be able to stop.

“Cindy – are you okay? What’s wrong? Did I say something to upset you?” Lisa asked as I was sobbing.

I tried to stop crying and gain my composure once again. After a minute or two I was able to speak again.

“I’m sorry about that. You just took me by surprise, that’s all.”

“Took you by surprise about what?”

“Okay.”  I took a big breath. “You see, a few years back I was pregnant. We were moving into our new house and it seemed the perfect time to have a baby. We told all our family and friends about our good news and then two days later I had a miscarriage, but after that couldn’t become pregnant again. That’s why we decided to adopt a baby. But the reason I was crying is because when I was pregnant, the baby’s due date was November 22nd, the same birth date as our new son. I can hardly believe it.”

At first there was silence on the other end of the line. Then after a moment Lisa spoke very softy.

“Oh Cindy, you just gave me goosebumps. This is wonderful. I truly believe this little boy is meant to be your son.  Congratulations!”

“Thank you Lisa. What time may we come tomorrow to pick up our little Joey?” I inquired.

“Ten o’clock. And bring an outfit for him to wear when he meets his new mommy and daddy..”

After my exam that night, we rushed to Target to buy essentials for our new son – bottles, formula, diapers, and an outfit for him to wear for his homecoming. When we arrived home, I placed everything where it should be. I also thought we should clean our house; after all, we were sure to have visitors over the weekend. We worked for a couple hours and then we settled into bed. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but for some reason the minute my head hit the pillow, I fell into a deep and peaceful slumber.

In the morning, we were both in happy moods as we showered and dressed for the big day. Finally 9:30 arrived and we left for Catholic Charities. We made sure we had the car seat for the baby buckled up tight in the back seat. I also brought a couple of extra blankets since it was January and the wind chill was 20 degrees below 0. When we arrived at Catholic Charities, we told the receptionist who we were and soon enough, Lisa came and greeted us.

“Let’s go upstairs,” she said.joey-at-16-months-old

We walked up the huge staircase to the second floor. She showed us into a little room where we could sit and wait.  I gave to her the clothing I had brought for our new son. She left the room and gently closed the door. Not a word passed between me and my husband. We just sat there, holding hands, waiting for our new son to appear.

It was not very long before the door opened. Lisa came into the room carrying our new son. There he was – our baby, our son – our little Joey. I tried to hold back the tears on this happy occasion. Lisa said to us, “Mom and Dad — meet your new son.”  I held out my arms and she gently placed him into them. He was awake and alert and he didn’t seem to mind being handed over to me. When I looked up, Lisa was gone. My husband and I were alone with out new little bundle of joy.

As I looked into the face of our sweet little baby,  I felt unconditional love for him flow through me.

It was then I knew – this little boy resting in my arms truly was meant to be our son, our little Joey.


My Little Blossom

Stephanie and Sarah as little girls

“My Little Blossom”

A daughter is a gift from God.
There cannot be a finer thing
Than watching while she’s growing up.
Her growth reminds me of the Spring.

She’s just like a little blossom.
A tiny bud in bloom is she.
It seems she grows a bit each day,
Like a flowering apple tree.

She’s such a darling little girl.
Her personality is sweet.
She can’t help but be so charming,
And when she smiles, it’s quite a treat.

In her world, her dolls are babies
And all of her stuffed toys are real.
She plays her games of make-believe,
While playing dress-up with such zeal.

Her hugs and kisses are precious.
I melt when she says, “I love you.”
She drapes her arms around my neck,
And then I know her love is true.

I wish that my little blossom
Could remain forever with me.
But I know that she must grow up
To become her own apple tree.



The Wedding Gown

Today we were going to look for my daughter’s wedding gown for the first time. A huge wedding gown sale had been advertised and she was determined that today she was going to find hers.

“I know exactly what I want,” Sarah said. “I want something simple, understated and elegant.”

And so the search began.

But after trying on at least nine or ten gowns, Sarah still had not found the perfect wedding gown. A frown now replaced the excited smile that had lit up her lovely face earlier that morning.

“Sarah, there’s still one more rack.”

She rummaged through the rack and soon she became excited and hopeful again.

“Look! I found two gowns I’d like to try on!”

Her cheeks were rosy with excitement and there was a smile of happiness on her face. I kept my fingers crossed.

The first gown was white and strapless with embroidered tiny pale violet flowers and small pearls in the center of each flower. The dress had an empire waist and laced up the back with a long train. For the first time that day, Sarah had stars in her eyes. The attendants placed a veil on her and tears began to well up in my eyes. All the attendants told her how beautiful she looked.

Sarah smiled. “I really do like this dress, but I think I should try on the last dress just to be sure.”

I thought: She’ll try on that other dress, but I think she’ll probably keep this one.

The last dress was a sharp contrast to the other one. It was white satin with spaghetti straps and a scoop neckline. There was no decoration on it whatsoever. Around the waist was a band like a cummerbund with four folds and approximately six inches in width. The full skirt was A-line and down the back were 26 satin-covered buttons. The skirt bottom fanned out into a circular full train of about three feet. There was a matching short sleeve bolero jacket.

This wedding gown was simple, understated and elegant.

Then they placed a veil on her.

Sarah’s face was suddenly transformed. The stars were still in her eyes, but this time her face was beaming and she smiled radiantly. She had not looked this happy since the day she and Axel had announced their engagement to us.

“I love this dress, Mom! This is the dress!

“Sarah, you look absolutely beautiful!” I said.  I stepped up on the pedestal where she was standing and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I love you so much, honey. You’re going to be a beautiful bride.”

The attendants were watching us and I could tell by the looks they exchanged that they were a_2011-04-25 03.51.55disappointed with her choice.  “Are you sure that you wouldn’t rather take the other gown instead?” one of them said.

I smiled as I shook my head. “You don’t understand my daughter at all.”

Sarah smiled as she stood tall. “Let me explain, Mom. I believe that it’s the bride who makes the wedding gown beautiful, not the wedding gown that makes the bride beautiful.”

I had never heard such profound wisdom before, and I had never heard my daughter ever speak such profound wisdom. I guess I never thought she was old enough to do so.

I beamed proudly as I gazed at my darling daughter, and then I sighed as I realized for the very first time that my little girl was all grown up now, and that she was going to be a beautiful bride, no matter Read more

Essence of Reminiscence – Week 2 – Mischiefs and Pranks: “The Little Girl in the Tree”

I’ll never forget the beautiful spring day in late May when our five-year-old daughter Stephanie found herself as the little girl who needed her daddy to be her knight in shining armor. It all started out as a bit of mischief on her part, and she was basically just trying to have a bit of fun, but it didn’t turn out to be as much fun as she had expected. I was working a late shift at the hospital at the time, but after I heard about what happened, I was glad that I wasn’t there, because I know that I would have been in panic mode. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me start at the beginning.

At the time this story happened, we had three children: Joe, age 12, Sarah, age 7, and Stephanie, age 5. Because Sarah and Stephanie are so close in age, they have always enjoyed a very close relationship as sisters and still do to this very day. They played together, shared a bedroom, argued with each other and then made up with each other five minutes later, shared secrets, and even took baths together. I have always loved their sister bond because it is like a precious gem – priceless.


Our apple tree in bloom

In our back yard, hanging over our deck, is our one and only apple tree, which we dearly love. This apple tree is not very tall, and it only bears these little apples which we don’t eat, but just let them fall to the ground and then my husband has the dreary task of having to gather them up from all over the ground and the deck. But the special thing about this apple tree, particularly for me is that somehow it always blooms on Mother’s Day weekend.

But our daughter Sarah loved this apple tree for another reason. She would climb into the apple tree (not very high, maybe just a a couple limbs) and then, thinking that the the rest of the world could neither see nor hear her, she would sing at the top of her lungs and to her heart’s content. It was her own little world up there in what she termed as “my apple tree” and she loved that she could escape to it whenever she wanted to. Oh, how I loved to watch her through my kitchen window. I would crack the window open very carefully so she wouldn’t hear, lest she’d catch me spying on her, and watch and listen as she sang her little girl songs, most of which were made up, suppressing my laughter. It really was quite charming.

Enter Stephanie. One day she discovered her sister Sarah in the apple tree and noticed just how much fun she was having. She didn’t mention a single word of it to Sarah or to me. She just mulled it over in her little head, which can sometimes be a dangerous thing for a 5-year-old, as we later found out!

Remember that beautiful spring day in late May that I mentioned earlier? The one on which I was working the late shift at the hospital? I forgot to mention how windy it was that day and I forgot to mention that my husband was home with the kids. The girls were in the back yard playing – nothing unusual about that, and Mike was getting supper ready, just like any good Dad should, right?  Just then, Sarah came running into the house yelling, “Daddy, Daddy, come quick! Stephie’s stuck!”

“Stuck! What do you mean, stuck?”

“She’s stuck in the apple tree, Daddy, and she can’t get down! Hurry! She’s crying!.”

Mike raced out the door and Sarah followed him to the back yard. As my husband rounded the corner of the house to the deck where the apple tree was located, he looked up, and there was our little girl – all the way on the very top branch, holding on for dear life, swaying to and fro with each gust of wind.

“Daddy! Help me!” Stephanie could barely get the words out between her sobs.


Our daughter Stephanie

“I will, honey.”

“I’m scared, Daddy.”

“It’s okay, honey. Just hold on tight. ”

Then my husband had to rush to the garage, get the ladder, and even so, he was barely able to reach our youngest daughter from the top branch. How in the world she ever managed to climb onto the skinniest branch and not have it break under her weight, even though she was small, we will never know, although I believe Divine Providence may have had something to do with it.

Stephanie never did climb the apple tree again, although Sarah did continue to sing in it for a year or so after the incident, but then gradually outgrew it, a fact which saddened me. But all little girls do have to grow up sometime. It’s just that we mothers really don’t want them to, right?

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Children have the unforgivable habit of growing up.”  ~ Bjarne Reuter


essence of reminisence 5This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post. If you’d like more information about this event, please click here:

Mischiefs And Pranks

The Garage Sale

garage sale 2Did you ever have one of those moments when you knew your children had finally grown up?

It was in May of 2011 when my husband and I decided that it was high time that our garage and basement had a good cleaning out. We talked about giving everything away to the Goodwill or the Salvation Army, but when our oldest daughter, Sarah, heard about this, she said, “Let’s have a garage sale!”

We both looked at her questioningly, saying at the same time, “Who’s going to take care of the garage sale?”

“We’ll take care of it — me and Stephanie and Axel. All you guys have to do is let us know what things to sell and help us to do the pricing and we’ll do the rest — I promise.”

Did you ever have one of those moments when you knew your children had finally grown up?

My husband I talked it over and decided that maybe it was a good idea after all. We decided to split the money five ways, between me, my husband, Sarah, her fiancé, Axel, and our youngest daughter, Stephanie. Everyone was in agreement.

So the work began. It took almost two weeks to clean out the basement and the garage. But I have to give everyone credit — they all pitched in and helped. Even Axel, who was not officially part of the family yet, helped to haul things out. By the time we were finished, we had quite an accumulation of things to sell, including an organ, bicycle, workout bench, doll house which I had made from a kit and had electric lights and furniture, cello case, karaoke machine, and so many other smaller items.

We held the garage sale during the first week of June and it lasted for four days from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. By the final day, everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief that the sale was finally over. The last evening after the sale, no one even stayed up past ten o’clock — that’s how exhausting the last four days had been. Yes, it had worn us all out, but at the same time, it had been interesting to watch the people who attended our sale, but it had been even more interesting to watch how my children had reacted to those same people.

For example, there was the young boy who tried out a bike we had for sale. He wasn’t accustomed to using hand brakes, and as he headed full-speed headlong toward our garage, our future son-in-law Axel ran after him, rescuing him just before he smashed headfirst into the side door. “I was so worried about him, and I was afraid he would get hurt,” Axel  exclaimed as the young boy drove off with his mother. It was then that I knew that he would make a wonderful father for our future grandchildren.

I also watched as a little girl of about six stood in front of an expensive doll house that I had crafted, her eyes wide with wonder. She walked up to our oldest daughter, Sarah, a dollar bill clutched in her hand. “Do I have enough to buy the doll house?” she asked hopefully. Sadly my daughter shook her head, giving her a free Beanie-baby stuffed animal instead. As the little girl walked down the driveway holding her mother’s hand, Sarah turned to me with tears in her eyes. “Oh, Mom, I so wanted to give that doll house to her.” It was then that I knew the lessons of compassion and empathy we had tried to teach had not been lost on her.

This was also proven true by our youngest daughter, Stephanie, when another young girl of about eight or nine expressed enthusiastic interest in an i-pod which had never been used, still in the box it came in, never unwrapped. “How much is it?” she eagerly asked my youngest daughter. Stephanie smiled at the young girl, knowing how much she wanted the item. “How much money do you have?” asked Stephanie. “$2.37,” she replied, “is that enough?” “You know what? It’s only one dollar,” Stephanie told her, lowering the price considerably. “So you’ll have some money left over.” The look of joy on the young girl’s face was exquisite as she walked away with her prize.

I was so proud of my children because they showed kindness, compassion, and empathy throughout those four days. Yes, even though these people were strangers, my children showed that they still cared about them. Why? Because my children have the belief that we are all one family — linked forever because we are one in the same — people. We all may be different, but we are still people, and that’s why we are linked together forever, with the need and the obligation to care about each other.

During those four days, my children showed that they were no longer children. They showed that because they are responsible enough to respect others and to care for them through their kindness, compassion, and empathy, that they are indeed adults. Because of this, I will no longer call them children.

Did you ever have one of those moments when you knew your children had finally grown up?

Today I am the proud mother of adults, and I think they are amazing.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”   ~ Anne Frank





Charity Begins in a Home

country mansion 400

Today’s prompt is an interesting one to be sure, and I’m sure that everyone has their own ideas about what they would do if they inherited a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside. You must admit that the possibilities are endless and it would be difficult indeed to make a choice.

I had to take my time trying to make my decision because there were so many factors to consider, even though this is only a make-believe situation. I mean, after all, there is just no way that I will ever inherit a mansion from anyone. As far as I know, I don’t have any family members who possess such luxuries, unless I have some long-lost relatives that I have no prior knowledge of, which, I suppose is not entirely out of the realm of possibilities, but I doubt it. Alas, such things just don’t happen to people like me.

At first I considered keeping the mansion for my husband and me. We still live in the first house we ever purchased in 1978. We always thought that we’d “upgrade,” but something always got in the way of those plans – first having our children, then things needed for our children, followed by activities for our children, along with vacations with our children, and eventually college for our children – do you see where I’m going with this? Now our children are grown and on their own. What would we fill our mansion with? Just us? No. I think that a mansion would be too big for just the two of us.

Then I thought perhaps we could give the mansion to our children. But we have three children. So which child would we give the mansion to? Granted, they do love each other dearly and they are very close and always have been, but I sincerely doubt that they’d want to live together! Our oldest son is a bachelor, living on his own, with a carefree lifestyle at the moment. He’s very responsible, but I don’t think he’d want to live with his sisters. Our oldest daughter is married, but she and her husband are newlyweds, and why would newlyweds want to live with anyone? And our youngest daughter is getting ready to begin her master’s degree in music performance, and after that, who knows where she’ll be? She might be living in another state, performing in a symphony orchestra. No, I don’t think that giving the mansion to my children would be a good choice. And I certainly could never give it to just one of them. That would be playing favorites, right? I couldn’t do that.

But then I remembered that money is no issue in this make-believe situation. And I could do whatever I wanted. So I have come up with what I think would be a wonderful plan. I would remodel the mansion, make it fresh and new, just the way it looked when it was first built. Then I would furnish all the rooms, and I’m assuming that there are tons of bedrooms in this mansion, because every mansion has many, many bedrooms, right?

And then I would open it as a home for the homeless. It would be a place for all those who have no place to go, no place to sleep, no place to call home. It would be a place for people to stay while they try to get back on their feet again, while they’re looking for work, and there are so many people out there today who are in that situation. It will be a place for all the lonely and destitute and hungry people who need a helping hand.

I think this would be the best thing to do with my inherited mansion because I truly do believe that charity begins in a home.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”  ~ William Penn




Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter 3There is nothing that I enjoy more than a good laugh.  And it’s even better if it’s the kind of laugh that makes me laugh so hard and so long that my sides begin to hurt and I have tears stream down my cheeks. Now that’s what I call a good laugh. That kind of laughter makes me feel good. It’s actually a kind of a release of emotions and perhaps even a release of tension or stress that you’ve been holding on to, and that’s always a good thing. But did you know that laughing is actually good for you? Health-wise, that is. That’s right. Here are a few ways in which laughter is good for you, and since I’m a retired registered nurse, I simply cannot write this entry without telling you what they are!

  • Laughter has been shown to lower or balance blood pressure and increase vascular blood flow.
  • Research has shown that when you laugh, the levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine which can suppress the immune system, tend to decrease. This helps to decrease stress and improve the immune functions of the body.
  • Laughter can offer a burst of aerobic exercise. According to researchers, laughing 100 times is equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on the stationary bicycle. Besides the spurt of internal energy, laughter can momentarily clear the respiratory system. Just like with exercise, people tend to take deep breaths in and out during heavy laughter, which helps unclog airways and enhances inhalation and oxygen intake.
  • Laughing may positively affect blood glucose (sugar) levels. Researchers believe that laughter may impact the neuroendocrine system and restrain blood sugar levels from spiking, or it may cause the acceleration of glucose use by muscle motion.
  • Laughter may be one of the best natural pain relievers around. Also, it may increase our tolerance for pain by releasing endorphins (peptides that offer a feeling of well-being and help with pain management).
  • Laughter boosts our social skills by allowing us to connect with each other, bond, and communicate with each other.
  • Laughter helps coping skills. It’s a wonderful way to deal with stress, to release tension. When life’s problems seem to just weigh us down, laughter can sometimes help the situation look just a little better.
  • Laughter reduces aggression.
  • Laughter energizes organs. It is even believed to aid in digestion. Your body experiences a boost of aerobic activity each time you laugh.

I do remember the last time I had a hearty, “ooh, my sides hurt because I laughed so hard” kind of laugh, and it was only last week, as a matter of fact. My daughter sent me a YouTube video clip entitled “First Moon Party.” I’ve included the clip below. I’ll let you watch it first and then I’ll tell you why it was so funny to me, but chances are that you’ll laugh just watching it, anyway:





This clip really caused the tears to stream down my cheeks because I was laughing so hard. If you watched it, you have to admit that the girl who played the part of the young teenager who just “became a woman,” so to speak, did an excellent job of portraying the role. And if you’re the mother of a daughter who has gone through this stage of adolescence, then you know the trials and tribulations of this period (pardon the pun) of life. I have two daughters whom I had to guide into “womanhood” and believe me, it was not an easy transition. As a matter of fact, one of them didn’t want to have anything to do with it. As for me, I couldn’t blame her. Not one bit. It’s rather a sad thing – having to give up your childhood, knowing that the carefree days of being innocent, having all your decisions made for you, having no responsibilities whatsoever, and being free to do whatever you wanted to do were almost over. But what I really loved about this video was the fact that my daughter sent it to me. Apparently she has not forgotten the day she “became a woman.” Maybe it wasn’t such a bad memory after all.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:   “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” ~ e. e. cummings

Wish I May, Wish I Might . . .

Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were such a thing as a genie in a bottle to grant you three wishes? Just think about all the possibilities! If I found a magic genie lamp, rubbed it, and a genie appeared to grant me three wishes, I do believe that I would have to take my time to make such a momentous decision on exactly what those three wishes would be. I mean, after all, I wouldn’t want to waste them on just anything. I would have to weigh all the pros and cons of each choice, making sure that each wish was something that I truly wanted because I’d know that once I used up a wish, I’d never have that wish back again.

Let’s see. I could travel. The only places I’ve ever been to outside of Minnesota have been Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, California, Florida, New Jersey, and Mexico. As you can see, my knowledge of the world is not exactly huge! I’ve always wanted to go to Rome, Italy, for as long as I can remember. That might not be a bad way to use one of my wishes. However, I do know that there really is no place like home.

Or I could wish for something to show off, like a brand new car or a brand new house. But then again, I really don’t go many places to show off a new car. and if I had a new house, then I’d have to fill it up with new furniture, wouldn’t I?

Or maybe I should wish for better health. Lord knows that for the past ten years, my health has deteriorated, even to the point where I’ve been disabled and forced to retire from a career that I loved. I’ve undergone five major surgeries during that time, have had multiple hospitalizations, and have faced death three times. But with these challenges, I’ve come to appreciate life even more, and I don’t take a single day for granted.

But I’m supposed to give these three wishes to someone else, aren’t I? Actually, I’m rather glad about that because nothing makes me happier than seeing the joy on someone’s face when you give them a very special gift. And I know exactly who I would give those wishes to. Actually, the decision would not be a difficult one at all.

First of all, I wouldn’t give all three wishes to just one person. I would like to give one wish to three different people, and then I could make three people happy instead of just one. And since my family is first and foremost in my life, and because I consider motherhood to be the best gift that I ever received, I would give one wish to each of my three children.

Our son, Joe

Our son, Joe

The first wish I would give to our oldest child, our son Joe. Joe was born in 1983. He is adopted, but we have never thought of him that way because we believe he was meant to be ours from the very beginning. Eight years before we adopted him, I had a miscarriage and the due date of the baby I miscarried happens to be the same exact birth date of our son Joe. So you can’t tell me that he wasn’t meant to be our son. Joe is outgoing, responsible, dependable, intelligent, considerate, fun-loving, and loves his family more than anything in the world.

Our daughter Sarah

Our daughter Sarah

The second wish I would give to our next oldest child, our daughter Sarah. Sarah was born in 1988. After we adopted Joe, we thought he would be our only child, and we were happy with that fact. When he was four, we had a big garage sale and sold all his baby things, crib, stroller, high chair, everything. A month later I discovered I was pregnant. I did three home pregnancy tests and still had to go to the doctor to confirm the results. I don’t think my husband actually believed I was pregnant until he felt her kick in my fourth or fifth month of pregnancy! Sarah is very outgoing, cheerful, giving, kind, and has a heart of gold.

Our daughter Stephanie

Our daughter Stephanie

And the third wish I would give to our youngest child, our daughter Stephanie. We thought Sarah was our miracle baby, but then, lo and behold, two and a half years later, along came our little Stephanie. Stephanie was born in 1991. When I was pregnant with Stephanie, I didn’t think I really I cared whether she was a girl or a boy, but when she was born, I realized just how happy I was that Sarah was going to have a little sister to play with, and they are very close as far as being sisters are concerned. Stephanie is my introvert, although she has become less so as the years have gone along. She is sensitive, thoughtful, gentle, determined, and has come farther than I ever imagined.

If I could give each of them one wish to help make their dreams comes true, then that would be more than I could ever wish for myself. All I have ever really wished for is to see my children happy, and if they’re happy, then all my wishes will come true.

QUOTE OF THE DAY  “The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.” ~ Jessica Lange




Let’s Have a Parade

parade 2


If you knew anything about me, then you would know that I am a huge history buff. And my favorite subject is the American Revolution. Just the fact that the thirteen American colonies, struggling for their independence from Great Britain, were able to hold their own and eventually triumph over the greatest army in the world (that being the King’s British Army) has always filled me with awe and a sense of American pride.

I have always felt that the Americans were fighting for the right ideals— that are all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They felt the need for independence, the right to be free and govern themselves, and freedom from the tyranny of King George III.

So therefore, “celebrating our nation’s birthday” on the Fourth of July has always been a special day for me.

We usually like to celebrate the Fourth of July with a family barbecue in our back yard, which is not unusual for the typical American family. There’s always plenty of food, great company, tons of games, and lots of laughter. Just being together as a family is celebration enough. And we always display our American flag at the front of our house with pride.

But one of the best Fourth of July celebrations that we ever had occurred when our oldest daughter, Sarah, was ten. She started a tradition for our entire neighborhood which lasted for a few years, and we were amazed by her creativity and the patriotic spirit which she displayed.

When Sarah was ten years old, she was thrilled with parades. We had been to see a parade only the week before the Fourth of July, and Sarah had loved every minute of it. Here favorite part was the marching bands. After seeing that parade, she became obsessed with them. She would march around the house, banging on anything she could find. She would even enlist the help of her younger sister, Stephanie, to be in her parade.

Then we went to our community’s Fourth of July Parade on July 3rd, and that is what inspired our little Sarah to begin a new neighborhood tradition. The morning after the parade, she came to me and said, “Mommy, why don’t they have a parade on our street like the one we watched yesterday?”

“Well, I don’t know. I guess it’s just not the route they wanted to take.”

“I think we should have a parade on our street.”

“I know, honey, but they just don’t want to use our street. There’s nothing we can do.”

With this, she went outside to ride her bike. She had just learned to ride her bicycle without training wheels, a fact which she was very proud of. I watched as Stephanie trailed behind on her tricycle. We live on a street that doesn’t get any through-traffic, so it’s a very quiet and safe street. About ten minutes later, Sarah returned to the house.

“Mommy, I wanna have a parade on our street.”

“I know, honey, but the parade doesn’t go down our street.”

“No, Mommy, I wanna have a parade down our street. Me.”

“You? What are talking about, Sarah?”

“I think we should have a parade with me and all the kids in the neighborhood. We could go up and down the street and have a parade, just like the big parade we saw last night.

I looked at my husband. He raised his eyebrows and smiled at me. You could hear the enthusiasm in Sarah’s voice. It was actually a pretty good idea.

“You know what? I think that’s a great idea! Maybe you could decorate your bikes. I have some crêpe paper left over from the birthday parties. . .”

“Yeah,” my husband interjected, “and we could decorate the wagon and you could put the cassette player in the wagon and have music playing. Then we could get the parents to sit on the lawns and watch while you kids parade down the streets.”

“Really?” Sarah squealed, jumping up and down. “That would be great! I’m gonna go tell everybody!”

So she rounded up all the kids in the neighborhood who had not gone out-of-town for the holiday. It was strange, but it seemed as though hardly anyone had left that particular year for the Fourth of July. I didn’t have enough decorations for all the bikes and wagons, so my husband went to the local K-Mart, which is always open, and picked up everything, including party decorations, because we were going to have a surprise party on our lawn for the kids when they were finished with their parade. The kids were occupied for a few hours, decorating their bikes and having fun just being kids.

Then it was time for the big parade. All the kids had notified their parents, and everyone in the neighborhood brought out their lawn chairs and lined the streets, sitting down to watch the big parade. The kids started at one end of the street and marched down, soon turning the corner, with the music playing. I had been amazed that I managed to find a tape of marching music.

Soon they came marching towards us, with Sarah leading the way. Our daughter, Stephanie, was right behind her because she was pulling the wagon which had the cassette player. The wagon otherwise was filled with stuffed animals and decorated with crêpe paper and balloons. There must have been almost twenty kids in the parade, all of varying ages, on bicycles and tricycles, roller blades and even skateboards. Some of them carried little American flags that I had given them, but all of them smiled as they paraded down the street, waving at the parents who had come out to watch them.

When they finished the parade, we invited all the kids to our house for root beer floats. We had set up the picnic table on our front lawn, complete with a Fourth of July theme table-cloth, napkins, and balloons. They had a wonderful time, laughing, giggling, and talking about how great the parade had been and who had done the best job decorating their bicycle or tricycle.

The neighborhood parade continued for three more years, until Sarah outgrew it. Then she grew weary of it, and sadly, no one else stepped forward to take her place as the leader.

But as a family, we still have root beer floats every Fourth of July, no matter what, and as we do, we reflect on those days gone by.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.” ~ John Naisbitt


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