Monthly Archives: April 2014

Make Lemonade

basket of lemons

What’s that old saying? Something about about Make lemonade when life gives you lemons’? I think it goes something like that, however, I can certainly think of several variations of the original version. In my own particular life there are oh-so-many different ones that it’d either make me laugh or cry if I decided to sit down and make a list. Or perhaps I could plant my own mini-orchard outa the assortment of fruits and nuts that my so-called LIFE has tossed at me! I’ve learned, mostly from the time-tested ‘trial-and-error method‘, to make all kinds of things from these fruits and nuts: juices, smoothies, jams, jellies, dried fruits, preserves, muffins and other baked goodies, and nut butters!

Of course, that’s just speaking literally. Lessons and growth make my ‘wisdom‘ increase with each passing year. Remembering my teenage years, I thought that my 50-ish Grandparents were OLD, although absolute gems! I enjoyed spending time with them. The little ‘bursts of knowledge’ that our parents liked to cleverly dole out didn’t quite have the same impact as that of sitting on the porch with Gramma (Mama’s Mother) or fishing off the dock in the early summer mornings at the lake cabin with Grandpa (Daddy’s Dad). Even though both of these grandparents lived quite nearby, I was lucky enough to have them as an almost-daily ‘constant’ in more than half my life. Luckily, my 3 children also got to know their Great-Gramma too until they were young teens; they weren’t fortunate enough to have met their Great-Grandpa (my Grandpa) but surely they will someday.

Now I’m the one that’s 50-ish and I haven’t any grandbabies yet. I very often wonder, since I am now disabled and have only been worsening these past few years, if I will be able to pass on any of MY WISDOM to that next generation!!?!? Like many parents, I usually feel that what advice I offer to my darling children is tolerated, but I soooo long for grandbabies to teach. It seems that when the kiddies are at the ‘tween stage’ throughout the younger teen years is a good time for the grandparents to teach them. Often that is the time that the youngsters aren’t feeling ‘understood’ by their own folks so the grandparents’ house is a good place to visit! I wanna be that REFUGE! But, alas, I feel that by that time for me it will have been too late as my illness has taken control more and more of my mind (IF I’m still here).

When I homeschooled my children throughout Middle School and High School, I had a rule that we’d never start the day on a ‘bad note’ or unhappy in any way! I always always ALWAYS found a way to ‘turn around’ a situation, small or large; hence learning to problem-solve. This was important for me to teach my children and wasn’t necessarily something that they would’ve learned in the regular school system. I wish more schools would do this and I wish more parents would do this. Our children oughta be taught to MAKE LEMONADE whenever they’re given lemons long before they allow their small ‘mole hills’ to grow into mountains!

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Easter Loneliness

Easter Kids

 

I certainly didn’t anticipate having an overwhelming sense of loneliness on this Easter Sunday, but the day unfolded that way anyhow. The kids are all working today; the tourists don’t care if it’s a holiday or not so the theme parks are gonna be ‘business-as-usual’. My two oldest kids and my daughter-in-law work at the so-called ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ so I’m sure that they are making Magical Memories for folks from all over the globe, while my youngest son is in Pennsylvania showing whatever movies are popular on this particular weekend while his fiancee spends the day with her family. Today is the day that my Mama is meeting her very first Great-Grandbaby so I’m pretty sure that she’s having the most fun of all! One of my brothers is spending his evening at Medieval Times in Chicago. Seems an odd choice for Easter but today also happens to be his daughter’s birthday and that was her choice of entertainment this year! My other brother is undoubtedly spending time with his family.

Last night we had an early Easter dinner at our house, just the four of us that live here in central Forida: my daughter, my son and his wife, and myself. It was a pleasant evening. We enjoy ‘potluck dinners’, each of us bringing our usual favorites to share. My son has a birthday in a couple of days so we’ll go out somewhere to eat then. I enjoy both, being surrounded by my little family at the house with our favorite foods, and also getting to have the treat of going out someplace nice and letting somebody else do the cooking and serving and cleaning! I really miss my youngest son especially during these ‘family’ times though. The fun just never seems complete without ALL of them!

The photo that I’ve included is from an Easter Sunday when we were living in Ft. Walton Beach, FL and their dad was stationed at Hurlburt Field. The kiddies were ages 4, 5, and 7 at the time. It was fun getting them dressed up for church but they didn’t stay clean for very long! That’s probably one of the reasons that this is one of my favorite photos….because they’re all smiling at the same time plus they’ve not yet dirtied their clothes. I miss those days, even though I did 3-5 loads of laundry daily!

When I was young, Easter dinner was quite the big event. After church we would have a huge dinner at our house or Gramma’s or my Aunty’s (the three of them took turns each holiday) and would include my brothers and I plus my eight cousins. There’d always be an Easter egg hunt, which was usually won by my cousin Ronnie or my brother Alan. The feast was always delicious and plentiful and marvelous. That’s because my Mama and Gramma and Aunty have always been the World’s Best Cooks! Holidays in my childhood were fantastic and among the best of my memories. I’ve always tried to instill holiday traditions within my own little family but we’ve usually lived far from my kin and cozy hometown where I grew up so I’ve had to make our memories more ‘portable’, as we moved from Texas to Hawaii to Florida to Indiana and back to Florida, then to Georgia and now back to Florida again. My kids have had more than two dozen homes. I’d only had two until I left for college! I really miss having the large family get-togethers but am glad that I get to keep in contact with all of my cousins anyway.

My Easter loneliness is about to come to an end….all of this reminiscing has brought joy to my heart and a smile upon my face. Now it’s nearly time for my darling daughter to arrive home from work. On Sundays she drives the special Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom so I look forward to hearing what cute little ‘critter stories’ she has to share today!

“Boy Hungry”

Jerry-age 3

It’s been nearly 32 years since the 1st time I gave birth. Even tho I didn’t think so at the time….the nurses exclaimed that it was a simple and relatively easy delivery. Of course I thought they were nutso, as I suppose most women that were experiencing labor pains would; but in hindsight I suppose that 2 hours of labor could’ve been much worse. I certainly wanted to kick the butts of those well-meaning nurses that told me that I’d soon forget the pain when my newborn would be laid into my arms. Well, that was certainly NOT TRUE! Not true at all….I’ve never forgotten the pain. Yes, it was worth the pain; but the memory of it does not go away. Nor does the memory of that teeny tiny little fella trying to nurse as I was learning to breast-feed him. For the next several months he was constantly a hungry boy!

My 1st child wasn’t much of a talker. He spoke so few words that we were concerned enough to have Speech testing done at the U.S. Air Force clinic at the base where hubby was stationed. After several visits to the Speech Pathologist, tests including x-rays and ultrasounds and even putting mirrors down his throat, it was determined that there wasn’t any physical reason that he wasn’t talking. The doctors said that he probably just wasn’t ready! This was frustrating because he was now 3 and his year-old sister was already putting together complex sentences. Of course he understood everything; that wasn’t at all the problem. When he did speak, for some reason he referred to himself in the 3rd person….ALWAYS. I haven’t any idea where he got this from or why he did this. It was kind of funny but at the same time NOT something that I wanted to encourage. So instead of using his own name, he called himself ‘Boy’. Several times daily he came to me and said: “Boy hungry” or “Boy thirsty” or “Boy need potty”! At least he WAS talking a bit and his Speech teacher told us to encourage even this small amount.

About a year later his speech SUDDENLY improved as though he just woke up one morning and decided that it was time that he had a lot to say! It’s 3 decades later and he still talks constantly. I’m not kidding; I’m very serious! From the moment he wakes up in the morning until his head hits the pillow at night, my oldest child talks and talks. His wife would surely agree!

Over the years, we’ve often teased him with “Boy hungry” at times. Of course, there have also been occasions when he was trying extra hard to get himself invited over for a meal (he lives 5 miles away) if his wife was working the evening shift at her resort or some other reason….so he’d use the old “Boy hungry” excuse on me too because he knows that it always puts a smile on my face!

As an example, tonight when he called….he wanted to know what sort of plans were being made for his upcoming birthday next week. Obviously he wants to go out to eat! Not surprisingly, this ‘hungry boy’ works in the Food Service Industry, as a trainer at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and has luckily managed to remain at a healthy weight. During his two days off, he’s usually baking ‘goodies’, constantly trying to invent new recipes….all of which I get to ‘sample’! Anyway, his wife is off of work the day of his birthday and they have out-of-town plans for that day. But the following day is his other day off and he is really really REALLY hinting at wanting his Mama to take him out to eat too. Even tho he’s gonna be 32, and nobody knows him like his Mama, I am wondering if this boy HONESTLY thinks that his hints are subtle?!?! Finally, I stop his prattle and say, “Awwww, what’s the matter? Is Boy hungry?” We laugh. I love these memories and I love this Boy, my first-born!

Flower Delivery

protea & other tropicals

My 1st job as a college student in Hawaii was at a boutique-type flower shop making leis and flower deliveries in an upscale mall less than 2 miles from my dorm. It took me less than 15 minutes plus 2 quarters by The Bus to get there, or I could take a brisk walk and make it in half-an-hour. Usually I took The Bus (that is literally the name of the public bus system) because it was handy and extremely efficient. Anywhere on the island of Oahu could be reached by The Bus for 50-cents each way. Although I’d begged my Daddy for a car, when he visited me he went with me to all of the places that I would ever need or want to go to….then he declared that I did NOT need a car because The Bus was well-suited for anything that I’d need it for.

The flower shop owner was, at the time, the top designer in the entire state and was much in demand for weddings as well as office and resort floral displays. This kept him very busy jetting to the other islands, and he was only at the store during business hours a couple of times per week to check on bookings. Those of us working there basically answered the phones, helped the walk-in customers, and constantly made leis of every kind. The boss had several gigantic coolers of beautiful tropical floral displays that were ‘sold out’ daily. Somehow, as if by magic, the coolers were refilled with dozens of new ‘creations’ by the next morning. Our boss was amazing at creating unique designs….the prices were expensive but the guests did not complain.

Our boss also had another business, a limousine service. The fleet of limos only had Silver Cloud Rolls Royces! Part of my job was to make flower deliveries. IF the boss gave me a large delivery AND ALSO had me deliver it by limo, then I knew that the flowers were going to a V.I.P. The limo driver, of course, wasn’t telling me where we were going. Usually we didn’t get to actually meet any celebrities. If the deliveries were made to a luxury hotel, then the flowers and I only made it as far as the Concierge. If the flowers were going to an individual’s personal home, usually a mansion or mini-mansion, then a maid or butler would take the flowers and I’d get a decent tip. I could drive up and down the streets of Kahala and Black Point and Aina Haina; also around Diamond Head and all the way up the ‘Gold Coast’ and point out the homes of every celebrity if I’d wanted to. But usually that didn’t excite me anymore because, with the exception of Cher, most of them were not especially what I would call NICE.

Usually my boss didn’t take me along with him to help set up for weddings and I didn’t particularly enjoy it anyway because of a nasty motorcyle-riding has-been celebrity, whom I won’t name, that made it not at all fun. Besides, I never did like those quickie Hawaiian weddings that folks do on the spur-of-the-moment because it’s not the way I was raised (to honor and sanctify marriage). Naturally, this was a huge money-maker for my boss tho! One of my favorite set-ups, however, was at Christmas. There were dozens of large banks and other office buildings that hired us to totally transform their lobbies into a Christmas wonderland, and it had to be done overnight so that their employees would come in the next day to see the ‘magic’ that had taken place. That was so much fun! My favorite was the 3-story Christmas tree that we erected totally out of red poinsettia plants. It was awesome. Lotsa folks don’t realize that most of the potted poinsettia plants that we buy at Christmastime on the mainland come from flower farms on the Big Island of Hawaii. My boss had a couple of plane-loads of plants for making these trees. The ingenuity and the work that went into making this happen was great to be a part of!

My best memory of my short stint working in the flower delivery business was the time when I had to deliver the biggest bouquet of daisies and roses that I’d ever seen. It’d seemed unusual that there weren’t any tropical flowers in the arrangement but this was an Anniversary bouquet for an older couple and supposedly was ‘their usual’ except that every year the bouquet would get larger. The bouquet was soooo big that my boss’ wife was assisting me in delivering it because I couldn’t handle it alone! So we got into 1 of the large Silver Clouds and the driver headed into Kahala. I asked where we were delivering and the boss’ wife and the driver just smiled. I knew then that it’d be yet another celebrity. We pulled into a circular driveway and started to the door with the bouquet. I wondered if it’d be a maid or a butler that answered, as usual. I was surprised when the door opened….I stood there speechless, mouthing words that wouldn’t come out! The older gentleman smiled that familiar-but-devious smile and said “Yes, I am Vincent Price. Do come in.” He laughed THAT laugh as we sat the lovely bouquet on the antique table in his round foyer. He was nicer than any of the other celebrities I’d met while in Hawaii, thus far, and he gave me a $50 tip!

April Fools!

ImageChildren always seem to have so much fun on April Fools Day. It’s a day of silliness and merriment that may or may not be much of a joy to teachers but at least the younger students have quite a bit of fun throughout the day. As the students get into the upper grades the tricks often get nastier and the pranks might not have the desired ‘end result’, sending some of the more devious students (who….me? couldn’t be!) to the Principal’s office for some explanation with hopes of avoiding detention.

Can we blame our parents? Oh yes, in my particular case, I certainly can! I grew up in a home that was fun-loving. Thanks to my Mama, my brothers and I knew joy, honesty, and happiness. Thanks to my Daddy, we knew about getting along with all kinda folks, laughing a lot, and when it was time for seriousness. Both of our parents took us to church, along with Gramma and Grandpa Joe, and that’s where we got a strong sense of a decent faith that’s loving but not overly-strict. My parents were the very best parents that God could possibly have chosen for me. They were Friendly, they were Happy, they were Cheerful….so was I. So AM I! But my Daddy and his friends could definitely play jokes on each other, usually much to the exasperation of my Mama! They always made it a point to ‘one-up’ each other too, so we never quite knew what to expect….except that we COULD expect something interesting!

When pregnant with my 1st child, I was asked permission to test a new kind of ultrasound for free. Of course I agreed, even though it meant that my bare belly was exposed to 8 OB/GYNs crowded around that table that I was lying upon while the technician slowly explained every step to all of these doctors (he was trying to make sales!). My own doctor announced that everything was A-OK during the ultrasound. I definitely wanted a boy but the baby’s legs were crossed and the sex couldn’t be determined so I had to wait until delivery to find that out. But my doctor said that the baby would be born on schedule….April 1st. OH NO! I told the doctor that I was NOT, under any circumstances, having an ‘April Fools’ baby! Eight doctors and an Ultrasound Technician/Salesman got quite a few chuckles outa that but I was serious. My own doctor patted my hand and told me that babies tend to have their own timetable and come out whenever they are ready! Well, he DIDN’T come out on April Fool’s Day and I was extremely glad about that. But he took 3 more weeks of making me wait for his debut so I should’ve suspected right away that this was going to be a child that was always gonna do things his own way!

It’s a lot of fun playing April Fools jokes on your kiddies when they’re little, and then pretending to be shocked and/or surprised at whatever they come up with when they ‘get you back’! Then when they start school, they’re getting a bit wiser to these tricks so I figured out that the best time to play my tricks on them was early in the morning before they’d really had much time to think about it. They weren’t fully awake until after breakfast so this was usually MY prime time for April Fools jokes. What fun we’d have during this one day each year. I sooooo enjoyed this and I’m sure that they did also. The only problem was: I’d get a great April Fools trick on each of my kids, and I’d get them first….but then they’d have the entire day away from me with time to think of a clever comeback!