Category Archives: Inspirational

Summertime Sunshine

American poet John Greenleaf Whittier said, “The windows of my soul I throw wide open to the sun.”

Beach sunset Casey Key

SUMMERTIME SUNSHINE. Northerners long for it all winter long as they shovel the snow from their driveways and sidewalks. Folks across the nation watch the news for snowstorms, school closings, crashes caused by bad weather, and airport delays. I chose long ago to leave all of that behind. Quite frankly, I got tired of getting sick in November and remaining sick for several months and having this happen every year for the 4 years that I’d moved back to northern Indiana with my 3 small children following my divorce. So I moved to Florida. I’d lived in both Florida and Hawaii several times but reluctantly had to choose Florida because it was more affordable.The kiddies and I had also lived in Texas and Georgia (thanks to the USAF) too but those 2 states no longer had any appeal to me because we didn’t have any friends or kin living there. Florida won out tho this time; more affordable because of both the cost-of-living PLUS eventual college costs for public education are more affordable and we have lotsa relatives already living in a few areas in that state. A win-win situation.

People seem to be drawn to light. It seems as though since recorded history began, we have always been gathering around fires during hours of darkness. Evidently we have always enjoyed the warm dancing of the flames. I am particularly soothed by that glowing of embers, whether it be a simple candle or a campfire on the beach. Moonlight on the beach seems to weave its own particular magic too as it inspires songwriters and storytellers and artists. Both fire and the light of the full moon have had ceremonial uses throughout the ages by many peoples and religions for celebrations and events of various kinds. We seem to love the light of nighttime as much as the daytime.

I prefer the light of the sunshine. The light of the sunshine upon the water, particularly the ocean, revives my spirit. I enjoy the warmth of the sun and don’t wanna ever be without it. I am the first to admit that I probably spent too much of my youth basking in the glow of the wonderful rays of the Hawaiian sunshine and was usually sporting a golden suntan. Back then we didn’t know about ‘harmful rays‘ and I definitely do worry that every ‘age spot‘ that shows up now in my 50s may very well develop into that dreaded melanoma. But I still wouldn’t trade my SUMMERTIME SUNSHINE to move back to any state that’d have me living without it on a daily basis all year long. I don’t think that I could or would survive! I need that sun just as much as my plants do. I enjoy those sunsets immensely. I have always felt like a sunset is God’s signature on another ending of a gorgeous landscape!

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First Quilt

My 1st Quilt

I still have the FIRST QUILT that my Mama ever made for me when I was a little girl, more than half-a-century ago. This is also the very FIRST QUILT that she ever made! I think that it is a treasure and I love it dearly. It’s called a ‘postage stamp quilt’  because that is the design: it’s basically a patchwork quilt ; however, all of these squares are as little as postage stamps. It does differ than an ordinary patchwork quilt in that this quilt does have a pattern in the way that the squares are placed in a particular order into long strips as they’re sewn together, and then each row is sewn together to complete this pattern. Usually most patchwork quilts do not necessarily follow patterns because they’re using up scraps of leftover cloth. Mama used to make dresses for my cousins and Aunty and herself and I, so she’d buy lotsa material. She also made a lot of curtains back in the 50s when it was popular to do so. So whatever fabric was leftover was cut into little squares and this was what she designed into her FIRST QUILT. I can still point to the squares and remember which of my dresses or tops had the same fabric! That’s part of what makes the quilt special.

Mama has been trying to get me to throw this quilt away for the past dozen years or so! At this point she’s HANDMADE (never ever quilted by machine) over 325 quilts for folks!! What an amazing accomplishment! I am extremely proud of this! My Mama is soooo amazing! Myself, my children, my brothers and their children, my Aunty and her children, all have numerous quilts that Mama has lovingly made for us and we treasure each and every one of them. Most of Mama’s friends have commissioned her to make quilts for their own kin’s weddings or babies or graduations, etc. Plus Mama is regularly DONATING quilts to church raffles, nursing homes, and even soldiers’ hospitals overseas. This fills my heart. So for me to throw away her very first one, even tho it most definitely is old and fragile and could probably never be washed again or it’d likely fall apart, would surely cause me much dismay.

Believe it or not, my kiddies NEVER had a bedspread! They always had Grandma’s quilts on their beds. Me too. I wouldn’t have it any other way! There’s such a ‘homey ‘ look about a house that has bedrooms with a quilt on every bed, especially when those quilts are made by loved ones. My belief has always been that if the house catches on fire : kids out 1st, quilts 2nd, photo books 3rd!

So many times, as Mama would lovingly present me with a new quilt to put on my bed, or another lap quilt for the living room, she’d say : “NOW will you get rid of that old green quilt?” As if she REALLY REALLY thought that I would!! Every time she tries….and every time I turn her down. This was the FIRST QUILT that she ever made PLUS it’s my fave color PLUS this daughter-of-hers just cherishes it, and her, toooo much to ever even consider it! I LOVE MY MANY QUILTS!!!

Hometown Pride

RCHS Mascot

Thanksgiving has come and gone for this year. Many events occurred during the last 2 weeks, other than just that traditional turkey dinner. My small Hoosier hometown celebrated much more than Thanksgiving this time around. Yes….everyone was truly thankful but that big family dinner was definitely not the MAIN EVENT this holiday season. HOMETOWN PRIDE was #1 on everybody’s menu this year as nearly every household was fixated upon the day after Thanksgiving. That was the BIG DAY….for the very first time in the history of Rensselaer High School Football, our young athletes were vying for the Indiana State 2A Championship! This undefeated team from a small town of less than 6000 residents actually won! HOORAY for the home team!

I live in central Florida but you had better believe that I was cheering on the Rensselaer Bombers from my chair right in front of my computer! My brother was at the game, which was played at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. I stayed with Facbook throughout the entirety of the game because I knew that at least 20 of my ‘friends’ were regularly posting every event plus plenty of short videos. So I was still able to view EVERY touchdown. How thrilling to see about 100 faces in the crowd that I knew. Also, how humorous to see them bundled up for the cool Hoosier weather while I was in my flip-flops here in Florida! I enjoyed the commentaries. It was fun watching the faces as they discovered themselves on the Jumbotron. Everybody was wearing their new ‘Bomber Nation‘ jerseys or their own former high school attire (if they still fit!) and it was wonderful to see the old school colors again: red and black!

So much has transpired during these past 2 weeks. Tragedy as well as Triumph. We’ve had a death in the family. My best friend of 49 years got her very 1st granddaughter and is expecting grandson #3 in a couple of weeks. This same friend retired 2 days after that granddaughter was born so I’m certain that she and her hubby will enjoy babysitting duties now that their schedules aren’t as hectic. Two of my children were honored at their workplace with a fabulous banquet, as per Disney tradition, for being 10-year Castmembers at Walt DisneyWorld! I’m soooo proud of them! My youngest son’s fiancee got the amazing promotion that she’d been hoping for and so far is enjoying her training quite a bit. My daughter-in-law finishes college this week too. I’m tired just trying to think about it all, my mind cannot keep up!

The photo above is our high school mascot. I’ve always thought that this little Bomber is a cute fella. I still think of my home team whenever I see the colors red and black together too; always have and probably always will. I like those colors. Same as the Chicago Bulls, which is, of course our favorite NBA team (the Pacers probably run a close second tho!). Rensselaer is a sports town. St. Joseph’s College is in Rensselaer and the Chicago Bears held their annual training camps there every year in August for 30 years, from 1944-1974. I think most folks still root for ‘Da Bears‘, while some also cheer on the Indianapolis Colts (did I mention that Rensselaer is geographically situated halfway between Indianpolis and Chicago?). As for baseball, well that’s easy. We’re all die-hard Cubs fans! Folks from my hometown NEVER GIVE UP HOPE! High School Football has been played in the fall, talked about, and attended for approximately 115 or more years in our town. That’s about as far back as anyone IS SURE ABOUT….maybe more! So that means that portions of 3 different centuries of HOMETOWN PRIDE has finally brought home the ultimate victory, plus bumped our school up into the next division too! Hmmmm, that makes me think of something: if’n it can happen for small-town guys like Rensselaer Bombers, who have waited over 100 years….I’m thinking that there’s still hope for those Cubbies yet! Make it happen Chicago Cubs!

Morning Person

Daytona sunrise7

Mama always said that once I had kids, then I’d learn to become a MORNING PERSON….well, the oldest kid is 32 now so I reckon that if it’s not happened by now then IT AIN’T HAPPENING! Oh sure, I do enjoy the occasional sunrise but mostly I’m a person that’d rather sleep late and stay up late. Always have been and always will be.

I live precisely in the middle of the state of Florida. The tourism marketing folks claim that we’re 45 minutes to the Atlantic Ocean and approximately an hour to the Gulf-of-Mexico. That’s quite an exaggeration. My house is on the eastern end of Kissimmee, away from the theme parks, and it still takes me much more than an hour to get to the nearest Atlantic beach. If I wish to drive to the most beautiful beaches, which are the dazzling sugar-white sandy beaches west of the Tampa area….it’ll take from 90 minutes to 2 hours of drive-time because of the dreadful traffic and seemingly never-ending road construction which winds through Tampa. It’s worth doing it anyway because the beaches and sunsets over the Gulf rarely disappoint.

Once-in-awhile I will have an opportunity to spend a night someplace along the Atlantic Ocean. This is blissful for me and I always will leave my balcony door at least partially open so that I can smell the saltiness and can hear the sounds of the waves as they come-and-go, come-and-go. Other than music and the sounds of children’s laughter, this is surely my favorite sound. I sleep well whenever I’m near the ocean. Yes, I do have one of those ‘sound simulators‘ that imitates the sound of the waves upon the shore….this does assist in helping me to fall asleep during the rest of the year but it’s a sad substitute for the real thing. The photo above was taken the last time that my daughter and I had a weekend getaway in Daytona Beach, 90 minutes to the northeast, and sat on our hotel balcony viewing the sun as it greeted the new day. EVERY time it makes me long to live by the seashore again. We moved from Jax Beach 10&1/2 years ago to come to central Florida to become Disney Castmembers. All in all it was a good move, but I do very much miss our apartment that was directly across the street from the beach. I miss falling asleep to the sounds of the waves and our tinkling wind chimes as the ocean breezes would play with/through them nearly all the time. Walking our American Eskimo dog along the beach (after 5pm as per the law) every evening was a special pleasure for the children.

I’ve also lived near the Gulf of Mexico, though not as close to the actual beach. When my oldest son was in 1st grade and we’d just returned from Hawaii, my husband got stationed at Hurlburt Field (USAF) by Ft. Walton Beach, which is in Florida’s Panhandle. That was an astonishing place to live and the beaches there were the most spectacular of all. Our favorite was the Officer’s Club Beach near Destin and we visited once or twice weekly, along with picnicking. After having having just lived more than a year in Hawaii, my children were already ‘beachbunnies’ and still were wanting to be at the beach more than anyplace else that I could take them to play. I’ve lived on the island of Oahu a couple of times, so that means I’ve also lived near the Pacific Ocean too, both with and without children. I have frequented all of the kid-friendly beaches dozens of times and also have patronized beaches where I’d not dare to take my kids!

So I’ve lived on an island, where I could see the sunrise on one side and go to another side for a sunset….and I did that often. Now I live in a state that’s mostly geographically just a great big peninsula. I reckon I could watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean in the morning and then cross the state and watch a Gulf sunset in the same day. But I don’t. I go to beaches on both sides but, alas, on different days. I still don’t like mornings so if I do go to the beaches at Cocoa or Daytona or Melbourne, which are MUCH quicker to get to, it’s gonna be late morning or noon-ish. But I do witness plenty of awe-inspiring sunsets, even though I have to fight traffic to get there, over at or near the more splendid beaches of Clearwater or St. Pete or Honeymoon Island. Come to think of it, if I ever bought a waterfront condo or home, I’d rather it be on the Gulf of Mexico because it’s just sooooo much more gorgeous. But real-estate prices and taxes also reflect that plus I’d get lots bigger condos (more square footage) for half the price on the Atlantic side….hmmmm, maybe that’ll be what it’ll ultimately take in order for me to become a MORNING PERSON after all! If I lived at the ocean again, I know that I’d not take it for granted because I like watching the sun come up. Maybe I’d better think about this!

GrandDad’s Buddy

Granddad and Jerry

My First-Born child also has the honored position of being the First Grandchild for my parents, as well as for my Step-Mom. He loves this distinction! However, my Step-Dad already had 2 grandkids by this time but they live in South Carolina so he only saw them a couple of times annually. He had lotsa fun being GrandDad too. My son never got to know his ‘other’ biological grandparents….the grandfather had been killed by a tornado more than a decade before and the grandmother had been extremely ‘broken’ by this same tornado so she wouldn’t have known him anyway. But since both of my parents had remarried and lived in the same small town, which was approximately 40 miles from where my baby boy and I lived, he still had two sets of grandparents and a set of great-grandparents to dote on him! I had to live in a larger town, near Purdue University, for my travel agency job but every Friday after work we drove to either my Mama’s or my Daddy’s house for the weekend and had a grand time! All of my children have/had special relationships with each grandparent/great-grandparent. For nearly the first couple years of his life, my son turned into his GRANDDAD’S BUDDY. Whenever we were at Mama’s ‘little round house out in the woods‘, every time I’d turn around, my Step-Dad had that baby laying on his tummy watching TV or reading to him or even taking naps with him!

My parents divorced when I was in my early twenties. Don’t ever believe the old adage about divorce hurting the children less if the parents wait until those kids are grown-ups. It’s just not true. My world turned totally upside-down even tho I was in college. I ran away, literally, to finish my college studies as far away from my small Hoosier hometown as I could get. My parents informed me of their decision in July and less than a month later I was attending a small Catholic college in Honolulu. That was as far away as I could get and still be on American soil. After college I returned to Indiana but not to the same small hometown. Instead I moved to the larger town 40 miles away where I could obtain work.

As it turned out, I married an Air Force Officer and we had assignments in Texas, Hawaii, and Florida before my husband decided that he didn’t want to be married anymore. So it was back to this small Hoosier hometown that I took my 3 children and our broken hearts so that we could feel the love of family surrounding and comforting us once again. My parents, even tho married to others, cooperated together to pave the way by finding a suitable house for us to rent and basically made the decisions for me at a time when my distraught mind was unable to function. My Daddy and my brother brought a moving truck to Florida and literally picked us up and got us and took us HOME, while Mama was busily getting things ready in Indiana. I do not even recall registering the kids in school and doctors and many other things that needed to be taken care of so I’m sure that my wonderful parents must have had a hand in taking care of a lot of the things that I didn’t even notice but am totally grateful for. It was a good move and a good idea. Sometimes in life a person has to trust in the wisdom of those who have lived life and already made mistakes because they are able to give advice, should anybody care to listen. My parents are a perfect example of this. I may not have always agreed with them but they wanted what ultimately was best for their grandbabies. Of course I’m sure that it was wonderful for them to be able to finally attend the various schooling and scouting and church functions with their grandkids too that they’d been missing out upon because we lived in other states! They certainly did! It worked out fine.

My Daddy and Step-Mom lived out in the country so that was fun for the kiddies. Daddy enjoyed coming into town and taking the 3 of them, or sometimes each one at a time, to do things or to go places. He even took my boys to his own barber and filled in when my daughter needed him for ‘Daddy Date Night‘. My Step-Mom always knows exactly which foods are the favorites of each family member and makes it a point to prepare everybody’s favorite. She’s kinda like ‘the cheerleader‘ of the grandbabies! Mama and my Step-Dad had moved a couple of blocks from the Elementary School so it was fun for the kids to be able to ask if they could walk to Grandma’s after school a few nights each week, where they knew that she’d have home-baked goodies awaiting! Their Great-Grandparents lived across town near the shopping area and we visited with them a few times weekly. It was a very good 4 years that we lived in that area, having all those grandparents nearby gave my kids the love and stability that had been lacking when we’d been moving around the country going from Air Force base to Air Force base!

For some reason, probably just because he’s the oldest, my Step-Dad seemed to like to teach my first-born kid lotsa stuff. Perhaps it was because he missed his own grandkids, which by now he had 4. Or perhaps it was because he reminded him of his own son at that age….they both are stubborn loveable blondes with really big eyes! My Step-Dad was a ‘tinkerer‘, always fixing or improving something, often to my Mama’s frustration. That’s how my son became his GRANDDAD’S BUDDY….my Stepdad and my boy took apart 3 junk mowers and built 1 mower rather than buying a new one. They built a model airplane and worked on other projects that always kept my Step-Dad busy. I think that sometimes he was just looking for an excuse to ‘borrow’ my kid even tho he said that he wanted to teach him something! My Mama and my Step-Dad also invited my son to watch EVERY Chicago Bulls basketball game on TV at their house, complete with carefully planned favorite snacks. My other two kids showed no interest in sports so this was a special memory for my son. He still watches basketball and is a big fan of the Chicago Bulls. He also has turned out to be a ‘tinkerer‘ too, always finding projects to work on! Yep, that’s my boy! I’m sure that my Step-Dad is watching this young man, GRANDDAD’S BUDDY, from heaven with a twinkle in his eye!

1st Love

My 1st love-age 12-Middle School band

I’m thinking that if somebody looks at this photo before reading this blog then there’s bound to be a bit of confusion. But nope….my 1ST LOVE was band! In this photo I was 12 and had no beaux to speak of, nor did I want any. I had my pals, the boys that I grew up with and played with since childhood and that was all right with me!

I was a ‘late bloomer‘ when I started band. Most of my classmates that’d been interested in playing instruments had begun 2 years before. I started late and had a lot of catching up to do. I certainly did! This was probably the first time in my young life that I’d ever taken anything seriously enough to develop an extreme passion for it. I practiced and practiced and practiced, and I was GOOD! Luckily I had a band director that worked with me to give me lessons during that beginning summer on my own since I’d not had the ‘group lessons‘ that the rest of my classmates previously had. So I started out having to be in the 6th-grade band as an 8th-grader, that first fall when I had my original beginning band experience. It wasn’t fun being with the younger kids, plus my school itinerary was quite messed up in order to accommodate my classes so I practiced even more at home, 2-4 hours nightly (yes, I DID learn to drive particular family members crazy whenever I wanted to!) so that by the time spring term rolled around, I’d moved up to 7th-grade band. I skipped 8th-grade band altogether because I got more than caught up during the next summer vacation….so much so that when I began high school in the fall, I moved to the lead of ALL of the freshman clarinetists! Of course I was 1st-Chair Clarinetist as a Senior and had lots of solos, which I loved!

This evening my daughter and I were watching a TV reality show and one of the given tasks was to learn to march. I found it humorous that the couples were having so much trouble doing so, even after several attempts. My daughter was surprised when I stood up and marched around the house, CORRECTLY, showing her that I still knew how to do every command and make every turn although I’d not done it for approximately 4 decades! She was quite impressed and even asked me to write my blog about my love of band! Awwww!

In my high school we had marching band in the fall semester and concert band in the spring semester. I adored them both! Nowadays, I reckon I was then what was called a ‘Band Geek‘! I spent any and all free time in the band room. Band was my forte. I went to band camp every summer throughout high school at Purdue University. I was awarded the honor of being named to the McDonald’s All-American Band during my Senior year. Unfortunately, I turned down that honor because I was also invited to audition for the American Musical Ambassadors the same year. I chose to do that instead, and was surprised at the auditions to learn that several hundred invitations had been sent out to audition for each individual spot. I did manage to be one of the 2 representatives chosen for the state of Indiana so I got to make a grand European trip, playing 1 or 2 daily concerts EACH DAY in various cities all over Europe! It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I cherish those memories immensely! It was also my first time being away from home but I got a taste of what it was going to be like to go away to college when I returned from the trip. It was so very much fun selecting souvenirs from Europe for my parents and brothers and Gramma! My parents were usually the ones that’d traveled lots, and my brothers and I would always remind them to bring us something. It was a tremendous joy for me to be able to be the one to select the ‘treasures‘ and give them out for a change!

Now my clarinets (I have 3) and my flute and my daughter’s oboe sit in my closet. It would presently cost a lot of money to get my main instrument ‘overhauled‘ in order to get it back into ‘playing condition‘, because it wasn’t a cheap clarinet. For my 16th Christmas, my parents bought me the best clarinet that money could buy, all the way from Paris! When I went to college in Hawaii and took private lessons from a member of the Honolulu Symphony, even my instructor was constantly trying to buy it from me. But I wouldn’t give up my 1ST LOVE!!! I’m just hoping that someday perhaps one of my grandbabies will love music as much as I did. Then my clarinet can possibly come back to life!

Remembering Corcovado

Corcovado sunset

 

This photo is a beautiful sunset image of the Cristo Redentor, or ‘Christ the Redeemer’, statute atop Corcovado Mountain in Brazil. Yes, I HAVE been all the way to the top of that mountain! I was fondly REMEMBERING CORCOVADO as I’ve been perusing photos from very long ago, this one from the mid-1970s.

I was still a teen, a college freshman, when I convinced my family to let me do a semester in the jungles of Brazil as a student missionary. There were a handful of us from the college, and one day the missionary took us into Rio de Janeiro on our way to someplace else. We were very young and naive Christian students that seemed shocked at the big city! I’d never seen so much flesh displayed as on the beaches there in Brazil! I thought that I had seen bikinis before, after all I’d been to Waikiki….and Hawaii was (and is) my favorite place on this planet. But nothing prepared my eyes for Copacabana Beach and the string bikinis and thongs on both females and males of all ages. Needless to say, the missionary wasn’t letting us dawdle there, we were passing through on our way to the old train to take us up the mountain. Corcovado means ‘hunchback‘ in Portuguese, which is the language of the Brazilian people, the only country on the South American continent to not speak Spanish. I probably learned about 5 words of Portuguese throughout my time in Brazil, but since our group was working at a youth camp in the jungle, it mattered not to the children of Brazil. I think they delighted in hearing us trying to sing their hymns because they clapped and laughed and gave us lotsa hugs anyway!

The train made it’s way up 2&1/2 miles to the top of Corcovado Mountain, which is in the Tijuca Forest, a national park. We then had to climb more than 200 steps. At that point it was so very foggy that we were unable to see any of the 125-foot statue except the base because we were up so high that we were literally in the clouds! We waited a long, long time with our cameras ready to snap photos. The clouds were moving fast but they were so numerous that it seemed that we were in the midst of some sorta ethereal white cotton candy forest and all we could see were the toes of Jesus! It was surreal ‘standing at the feet of Jesus‘, knowing that He’s there but not quite being able to see Him. Oh my, just like in REAL LIFE!!! We stood thataway for more than an hour before the clouds moved for only 3-4 minutes, just long enough for everybody to GASP, and then to get a couple of pictures. Then the clouds covered the statue again. The tour guides said that some days are like that all day long but that those are also usually the days with the most magnificent sunsets from below, which did certainly prove to be true for us.

Looking out over Rio de Janeiro was one of the most amazing vistas I’ve ever personally witnessed. We could see the Atlantic Ocean, all of Rio and Copacabana Beach, and even further than Sugarloaf Mountain, which stands ‘guarding’ the other end of the city of Rio de Janeiro. One day in Rio was all that we had. REMEMBERING CORCOVADO plays in my mind as being the inspiration of that trek. We still had an extremely long and arduous journey to our mission camp, somewhere along the Rio Parana. This was the remotest locale that I’ve ever visited in my life. We worked hard for weeks, ate rice and beans with every meal, and were rewarded with the smiles and friendships of the Brazilian children. All in all, a most satisfying mission!

Teacher Hero

Image

Last night I was ‘playing catch-up’ on Facebook and I noticed that one of my high school teachers is having his 75th birthday today! I used this same cutesy little TEACHER HERO image to wish him a Happy Birthday. It may have been a tiny gesture that many of my former classmates might also see, but what they don’t know is the chain-of-reflection that started me thinking about Mr. B last night and how our teachers truly do influence our lives, some positively and others not so much.

Mr. B was the best Algebra teacher in the world, as far as I’m concerned! I’d always thought that I was just ‘bad in Math’, as soooo many others also assume. I was a very good student, except for Math. I just couldn’t really understand why I’d need more than the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The rest always seemed like a waste of my energy and brain cells; and I was so very eager to LEARN too many other things but there just wasn’t enough time in the school day to fit in all of the classes that I’d hoped to take. So I was annoyed at having to have a Math class, plus I wasn’t grasping the concept of Algebra. The first few days of class were torturous for me….I felt like I was in a foreign language class. I was already taking Latin and this was just too much. Why were there LETTERS mixed in with my numbers? And why were there soooo many ‘story problems’? I tried to slump down into my chair and hoped that the teacher wouldn’t notice me. I couldn’t wait to take my book home and hope that Daddy could help ‘coz he was good with Math.

Daddy helped me ‘survive’ the first few weeks of Algebra 1, but with great difficulty. I’m so glad that my other subjects weren’t giving me a problem, with the exception of Typing (but the teacher was lenient since my left arm was in a cast). However, harvest season took over and Daddy got too busy and he’d not get home early enough to help with homework. So I had to get courageous. I was so scared as one day after class, I asked Mr. B for extra help. That was a first for me, I think I was shaking in my sneakers! Mr. B was so kind; he helped me over and over again, and always with a smile on his face. He was always smiling, that’s one of the things that I remember most about him (and his wife too). He smiled while teaching, he smiled while talking to a student individually, he smiled at us if we looked up at him while we were sitting quietly taking a test, and he smiled as he entered the classroom for each session. Two summers ago, I was visiting in my small Hoosier hometown and I briefly saw Mr. and Mrs. B in a restaurant, still smiling! I wished that I’d had the time to speak with them but I was having lunch with somebody else and we were leaving as Mr. and Mrs B were arriving. It was wonderful to know that they’re still the smiling couple of educators that made my high-school days most impressionable. I never ever ever got that feeling that it was burdensome for him to have to take extra time to help me out. He made me feel as if I’m important enough to make sure that I DO understand PLUS excel, not ‘just keep up’ with the others. At some point, Algebra ‘clicked’, and as I began to understand, I REALLY GOT IT. And I enjoyed it tremendously! All those years of thinking that I was ‘bad in Math’….only to find that it wasn’t necessarily true! Perhaps I just wasn’t properly taught! (That actually angered me in later life and I wasn’t going to allow that to happen to my kids; more on that shortly)

Unlike the way most schools’ curriculum path today, back in the early 70s, we had to take Algebra 1, followed by Geometry, then we could take Algebra 2. I was excited to take Algebra 2 but I couldn’t understand Geometry and did NOT have a very good teacher. I struggled. My younger brother was in my class, and it didn’t help matters that he was an excellent Math student (his only truly good subject) but he was ‘SUPER-JOCK’ and had zero time to assist me, although I had to drive him to and from football and wrestling and baseball practices! So once again, even though he wasn’t even MY teacher, I asked Mr. B for help with my Geometry. That’s what I call dedication! He is truly dedicated to the Art of Education and he is dedicated to his students.

Teachers like Mr. B are becoming more and more of a rarity nowadays. Even myself. I couldn’t make it. Of course, I opted out myself. I majored in English/Secondary Education. Daddy really really REALLY wanted me to be a teacher. I have always adored Creative Writing and excelled at all the writing classes that my college offered. My father was ever the practical guy though. He said that “writers are a dime-a-dozen” and that since he was paying for my college expenses, I was adding Education to that degree! (did I mention that I’m a ‘Daddy’s Girl’? hehehe) So I did. After a year of teaching Freshmen English to rich boys at a private Catholic high school, I took myself out of the profession. I felt that I could NOT offer to these students the excellence that I’d been accustomed to so I had NO BUSINESS being a teacher! My heart wasn’t in it. How could I teach these guys when I didn’t even really like them? This isn’t how I was raised; it’d not be fair to them. I had some not-so-good teachers in the past, and I would not want to be remembered that way in my students’ futures when they are reflecting back!

I did, however, have 3 excellent students whom I adored and love. That college experience didn’t go to waste after all! God knows what He is doing and my education certainly did NOT go to waste! A couple of decades later I got frustrated with the school system and took my children out of the public schools. I homeschooled them successfully for their last 7 years! What amazing fun we had! I learned a lot right along with them. I actually read everything late at night, made worksheets, and then taught the 3 of them daily as a group in all subjects except for Math (we did that individually). The joy of having 3 kiddies within 4 years shone through in all of our accomplishments. We didn’t have a lot of money for books so we went to library sales and college bookstore sales. So even though the kids were young tweens through teens, many of their Math and Science and History books were college material. If my children would’ve been enrolled in regular (public) schools, they’d have had 5-6 subjects. Mine had 14 annually. We didn’t get up until 9:00- 10:00 each morning, dressed however we wanted without peer pressure, and the best part was that we were able to take our vacations when everybody else DIDN’T! Each of the kids got excellent grades. We went to the theme parks so often that all of them ended up as full-time Disney Castmembers (2 are still there, have been for 10 years), and even though only 2 of my 3 kids have opted to go to college so far….not surprisngly their GPAs are a perfect 4.0!

I think and I wish that our country had an abundance of TEACHER HEROES like Mr. B! Imagine how fun it’d be to go to class knowing that we were going to learn something that we’d actually understand! Because of homeschooling my own children, I still have several Algebra books on my bookcases. Often, just for fun….I take out 1 of those books and a notebook and do a few problems because I like to see if I can still do them. I especially get the biggest smile when doing a problem that takes an entire page! Thanks, Mr. B!

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!