A Letter of Apology to My Adult Children

Time to write a letter

Over the last few weeks, I have heard a few rumblings from my kids about my current rate of blog postings. I explained, in case they missed it, that I am doing a challenge. Here are some of the comments, which have fueled me to write a letter to my kids.

“Mom, once a week was fine. I am happy to read your WEEKLY blog posts. Weekly. Around Day 6, I knew I was in trouble. How long will this thing go on?”

“You’re killing me!”

“My in-basket is overflowing.”

“You’re thinking about blogging about (fill in the blank). I can see it in your eyes.”

“You’re obsessed.”

Alright, that last one was my husband, but you get the point. So, here goes:

 

Dear Kids,

I know this past month has been difficult for you. How challenging it must be for you when every day there is something to read that your mother wrote. Your mother – the one who loved you before you were born. The one who carried you for nine long months, six of which involved a lot of puking. The one who helped you with your homework and drove you all over town. The one who watches your children so you can go out with your spouse. Sigh.

I am sorry for the pain and suffering which this Ultimate Blog Challenge has caused you and I want you to know that I understand. You want to support me, yet you feel overwhelmed.

There is also the matter of the monthly test about my blog content which I require you to take. I know there’s a lot of pressure to do well, so for this month, and this month only, I will make your test multiple choice instead of essay. I will also give you an extra week to turn it in to me for your grade.

Happy Reading!

Love,

Mom

 

And, to my regular readers who have been with me for a while, thanks for sticking with me. I appreciate you.

 

This is Post #23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

I’m Just a Singer in a Living Room Band

I haven’t written any tell-all articles about my parents. This is the closest I’ll get to that.

I started life as a child of two performers. One was reluctant. One certainly was not. My mom was the former. She took voice and dance and piano lessons. She even performed on the radio when she was a kid. She has a great singing voice and she plays piano well, too.

Here’s the tell-all part – she pretty much hated every minute of it. She does not like the spotlight. Yet, when I was a kid, whenever we had company, my two sisters and I were rounded up to come and sing for them. Mom accompanied us on the piano. I guess she figured the focus would be on us, so she put her love of music in front of her dislike of performing in front of people.

Now, I’m not trying to get all Moody Blues on you, but that was my young life. My theme song was – I’m just a singer in a living room band.

Thinking back on it, I didn’t really understand her doing this to us until I factored my dad into the equation. Dad was a performer. He was a magician, and we were forever asking him to do tricks for our friends. It only stands to reason that he would rope my sisters and mom into performing, too. That combined with how much Mom loved to hear us sing – well, if we had still been in the era of radio, I imagine we would have been on it just like her!

I always tried to protest this coercion, but secretly I liked it. Singing was one of the few things I thought I could do well at that stage and I loved the accolades.

Mom and Dad 1966 or 67

I don’t remember all the songs that we would sing, but the set would always include, Take Me Out to The Ballgame. Mom was and still is an avid Baltimore Oriole fan, so this combined her two passions.

My older sister became quite accomplished on the piano, while I struggled along with the clarinet until the neighborhood took up a collection to make it disappear. I was terrible. My little sister found her love in gymnastics, which are hard to sing to.

What did I take away from that kind of childhood forced labor (of love)?

I became comfortable in front of other people. Even though they were family and friends, I would have to put away fears and nervousness. It was a tremendous help for my future, plus a love of music was planted in all of us. Being yourself in front of family and friends who love you was a good beginning to speaking in front of others. Having fun sharing your gifts with others as a form of entertainment was the best part.

After we’d sing, we were dismissed to go play with cousins or maybe if it was Sunday go watch the Wonderful World of Disney. One thing, on one screen, to watch together. It was a great childhood. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Last night before we turned in for bed after a long day full of family and fun, we had a performance in our living room. It was because my mom wanted to hear her great-granddaughters (my granddaughters) sing. Yes, she’s still at it! And, by the way, they were amazing.

 

My three granddaughters singing in my living room.

 

 

This is Post #22 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

Easter Weekend – Resurrection Day

Luke 24:1-3 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24: 5-6a In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!”

 

Photo Credit: crosswalk.com

He is risen indeed! Happy Resurrection Day!

 

This is Post #21 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Easter Weekend – Saturday

Matthew 27:62-64 – The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

Waiting for Sunday.

 

This is Post #20 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Easter Weekend – Good Friday

Easter Weekend begins with the most somber of days, Good Friday. This is the day that Jesus gave his life for us on a cruel cross.

Luke 23:44-46 – It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica

But this was just Friday. Sunday was coming.

 

This is Post #19 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Assumption

Last week was my friend, Kathy’s, birthday and I gave her a special gift. To say it was special doesn’t quite cover it. It was extra special because it was adorned with the face of Bob Ross. You may know him as the happy-little-trees painter, but we knew him as the friendly guy in our neighborhood who received injured squirrels from our kids.

Kathy was so excited to receive a mug with Bob Ross’ face on it. Building on that, as if that wasn’t enough, when you poured hot liquid into the mug, one of his paintings magically appeared. She couldn’t wait to show it off to her husband John and said this would become her morning coffee mug. We left our luncheon full of hope.

Bob Ross mug before

Kathy with her happy little mug

Bob Ross left us some great quotes:

  • “There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”
  • “I believe talent is just a pursued interest.”
  • “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

Alas, a week passed and I received a text from Kathy. “Darn that John! He made Bob have a happy little accident!”

A happy accident or something more?

The irony of this was not lost on us. This never should have happened! The mug came with instructions. For instance, clearly printed on the underside of the mug were the words: USE OTHER SIDE. John assumed he knew how to use a mug. We so often get ourselves in trouble when we assume. If only he had taken the time to read the supplied instructions. They directed the new mug user: “Are you unfamiliar with mugs or their proper use? For a free refresher course, watch our inspiring and instruction video.”

 

 

Video courtesy of Unemployed Philosophers Guild.

As a woman who drives her husband crazy with her instruction reading, I can now point to this incident in defense of every useless instruction I have ever read. Now, you can, too.

 

This is Post #18 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

The Perfect Ten

My daughter, her four kids, and their dog arrived late last night. I didn’t expect to get any blog ideas from them this soon, but that was silly of me.

I have become accustomed to a rather quiet start to my day, but I happily throw that out the window when grandchildren are around. Ten-year-old Jett was the earliest riser and we enjoyed a chat before I had even downed my first cup of coffee. Of course, I’m not sure how coherent I was, but Jett picked up the slack and kept the conversation moving.

We discussed everything from villains and heroes to the states of matter. Jett likes science and excels at math. Personally, I think he will become an engineer. I recognize that gifting and love to see his creative mind in action, but we’ll see. He likes to write, too, so the world is his oyster.

Soon the rest of the family gathered. One of his sisters said, “Oh, my gosh,” in response to something. The end of the statement kind of dropped off, so her mom (Dena) reminded her how much that sounds like, “Oh, my God.”

“You don’t want to take the name of the Lord in vain,” Dena said.

 

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” – Exodus 20:7

 

The breakfast conversation turned to the Ten Commandments – not the movie, the actual Ten from Exodus.

Image result for free pictures of the ten commandments

We talked about what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain. It means say it in jest or take his name lightly. It was a great conversation.

And then Dena broke out in song. She and her brother sang The Perfect Ten as part of a program that our church children’s choir performed quite a few years ago. She breezed through nine out of ten commandments before she got stumped. We had to look up #10 and remind ourselves not to covet.

Here’s the video of the song for your enjoyment. It’s still as helpful as ever.

 

By the end of the conversation, I think Jett was catching on. He doesn’t want to take God’s name in vain or use it lightly. “Well,” he said, “I guess from now on, I’ll just say – Oh my Gollum.”

There you have it. You never really know if you’re getting through to kids, but it sure is interesting trying.

 

 

This is Post #17 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Brings You to your Knees?

There are moments when there’s nothing to do but be silent, watch, and pray. As Notre Dame was burning and firefighters were valiantly fighting the flames, the world watched in sadness.

 

Prayers and tears from Parisians and visitors alike from the banks of the Seine as flames pour from Notre Dame (Photo Credit: Yoan Valat/EPA)

 

I visited Paris in 2013 and we toured Notre Dame. She was more magnificent than I could have imagined. Yes, she – Notre Dame is referred to as Our Lady of Paris. She reminded me of an anchor for the city. She sat in silent beauty beckoning us to come. Her outer beauty was astonishing – her inner beauty even more so. The history of the church was everywhere inside of her. She begged us to worship God.

I’ve been in cathedrals all over Europe. Some felt more like a museum. Some felt empty. Some brought me to my knees.

During this Holy Week, I will be reflecting on what brings me to my knees. On what makes me stop and worship God or stop to pray. On what makes me thankful for all He has done. On the church and how it is not simply a building. And I’ll remember the people in Paris who call Notre Dame their church. I’ll remember that to them she is more than an amazing cathedral – she is their home church.

The word today is that Notre Dame will be rebuilt. Many artifacts and relics have been saved. Nobody was hurt. There is much to be thankful for. Jesus has been in the process of building his church since he went to the cross. I’ll reflect on that, too. Won’t you join me?

 

Notre Dame – photo taken in 2013

 

This is Post #16 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Why Counting Sheep Doesn’t Work

Happy Monday! I’m having a little trouble kicking into gear this morning. Maybe it’s because I’ve been counting sheep to go to sleep – the wrong sheep. I need to find a group that is less entertaining. Enjoy!

 

 

These are more sleep-inducing speed, though it would help if they were single file.

 

This is Post #15 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

Wildlife Weekend

I’m a bit of a birder – not quite a “Big Year” type, but I have the Peterson Field Guide to Birds app on my phone and I try to keep my life list up. Binoculars are always on the ready by my back door.

My mother bequeathed me with this passion and we love to bird watch together. Twenty minutes from our home is the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. It usually takes us three hours to do the 11-mile drive at a maximum of 10 mph. We stop a lot. You just can’t help yourself. There’s so much to see.

The drive is part of the successful effort to restore beautiful Lake Apopka, which is northwest of Orlando, and home to 369 species of birds, though some are quite literally snow birds. It’s a big winter migration area.

Today, the wildlife drive really lived up to its name. Mom and I spent the morning there, and we agreed it was the best day we’ve ever had on the drive. We identified 24 different species of birds, witnessed an alligator turtle laying eggs, and observed more American alligators than you can shake a stick at. Note: Don’t shake sticks at alligators or feed them. It’s against the law.

 

These beautiful flowers grow in the water.

 

Baby Gallinule

 

You can tell it’s springtime. There were baby gallinules everywhere. Here’s a family portrait.

 

I always find a gator in this particular spot. Today as we pulled up there was a woman taking pictures of the babies. Do you see them? There were five altogether but only four are in this pic. At first we didn’t even notice that mama had her eye on us.

We had never been to the drive during alligator mating season. It began a couple of weeks ago. Their gestation period is 65 days, so I guess this mama got an early start. Since we’re talking about alligators here, it brings more meaning to the fact that they are fiercely protective of their babies. When we saw the babies, we knew she must be close by so we were happy to spot her from a safe distance.

 

Great Blue Heron

 

Gator grabbing lunch

You know how you can be out in the wild and hear something and turn to discover you’ve just missed a spectacular moment? Well, we saw the spectacular moment. We were standing along the shore when this alligator leaped out of the water and caught a bird. I think he leaped from below and snatched it on his way up. We saw most of his white underbelly. It was quite violent and really cool. I snapped this picture right after the jump. You can see the poor bird in his jaws.

 

Anhinga drying its wings.

Anhingas swim through the water with their head and neck poking out of the water. They look like a snake, hence the nickname Snake Bird. They’re also called water turkeys. They’re beautiful in flight.

Cutest Bird Award goes to the Black-Necked Stilt

 

The green is so vivid that you almost don’t notice what’s lurking just under the surface.

Is the north side of the gator where the moss always grows?

 

Here’s a close-up of our camo-gator.

We heard a lot of gators bellowing. At first I thought it was a bullfrog, then I remembered it was mating season. We were on alert because these big guys can be submerged right in front of you and you not know it. On the drive, food is aplenty, and I’ve never seen anyone harass or feed a gator, which I have witnessed in other areas of Florida. Don’t feed the gators! It is a felony and makes them lose their fear of people and start to look at them as a food source. It’s funny to think they fear us. If a gator offered me food, I’m pretty sure I’d think it was up to something and fear it more!

Pretty sure this is a White Ibis. The bill being dark on the end makes me doubt a little.

 

Alligator Turtle laying eggs by the side of the road. I think she’s pretty ugly and maybe not too smart. People were right next to her. But I guess when it’s time, it’s just time.

 

Another Great Blue Heron. He just took a bath and was cute and fluffy.

I hope you enjoyed going on the drive with me. Any birders out there? I’d love to hear from you.

 

This is Post #14 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.