Mother’s Day 2019

Anyone else have ear piercing at the table during Mother’s Day meal?

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Over the years, I’ve had Mother’s Days that involved numerous children suffering from a stomach bug; a visit to the ER; taking care of my brood despite having the flu; along with mundane mechanical breakdowns. Mother’s Day is usually a day when I remember that motherhood is the hardest job I have ever done for the least amount of pay. However, I’m grateful to experience the ups and downs each year with two sons and two daughters.

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Forrest Gump, Philosopher

2019 is another Mother’s Day for the books. My kids celebrated me in their inimitable style. Don’t misunderstand. I’m grateful for any appreciation–card, gift, meal, comment–actually any acknowledgment that I am a human being worthy of respect. The surprises began on Saturday.

Daughter #2, my youngest child, cleaned the house! This is the ultimate gift for me. She cleans thoroughly–the rooms look clean and smell great. She doesn’t just stack stuff–she organizes it and puts it in the right places, so that in itself is an amazing gift, for which I am truly grateful. She has a knack for decorating, too, so everything looks better.

Sunday morning, Daughter #2 gave me a memo book she had decorated. She painted beautiful textured flowers on the cover, and Son #2  me a tea cup with a lid for tea bags. I had thought we would go out for lunch; however, this time they listened to me and we didn’t. Actually, only Son #2 was with me at all for lunch. My Daughter #2 went home with a friend’s family and the older two didn’t call or text at all until later in the afternoon. So we grabbed a quick bite, then I went home and took a 2 hour nap!  Mother’s Day was a slam dunk as far as I was concerned.

After church, my daughter wanted to drive but she took a scenic route and ended up parking downtown. The kids had made reservations for dinner and they all [eventually] showed up!  (One was asleep when we got there, we only had to call him for 30 minutes to get him up out of bed so he could meet us.) A friend who knew that the kids were doing something for me said she would “Pray they don’t act like themselves.” She did NOT start praying early enough!

While we waited for Son #2, Son #1 argued with Daughter #1. Daughter #2 picked at Daughter #1 and Son #1, while calling her brother to get him to join us. Son #1’s girlfriend tried to hold a polite conversation in spite of the discussions heating up. The kids did inform me that their father had been invited to the meal, but that he declined! That actually started part of the arguing as he told one child and not the other and they felt there was some favoritism there. (I am just grateful my ex had the graciousness to decline the invitation, as I would if invited to a Father’s Day celebration!)

I considered leaving before Son #2 arrived, but stayed. We ordered our food and continued the arguing and sniping, adding another person to the dynamics. We devoured the bread they brought us like we hadn’t eaten in a week–probably scaring other diners in the restaurant–so I’d like to blame any bad behavior on hunger, but our appetites were sated before the main courses arrived.

The kids had chosen a beautiful restaurant downtown which I had never been in before, so it was a real treat. As we were finishing the meal, the kids’ mouths weren’t full any longer, so they began to talk, laugh, argue, poke fun, challenge, criticize, etc. I don’t know how it came up, but my Daughter #2 dared Son #2 to pierce his ear.

He did! Using a dull, dirty earring which she pulled from her pocket!

At the table!

So, my Mother’s Day tops yours–anyone else have ear piercing at the table during dinner?

Share your Mother’s Day memories with me–It is cathartic and fun to remember!

Notre Dame

Notre Dame is burning. Surreal pictures of red flames glowing inside the tower before it fell dominate my News Feed. The magnificent landmark from Paris will never be the same. New Yorkers saw their skyline change on 9/11 and it touched all Americans.  Parisians are watching the same thing happen–the fire is irreparably scarring the skyline of Paris, and people around the world mourn the tragedy.

My heart bleeds for the residents of Paris. I remember stepping into the historic Cathedral. The flying buttresses and gargoyles are so unique, and the beauty of the place–a house of worship, a repository for treasure, and a tourist destination all at once.  I, for one, am grateful to have experienced the cathedral in person. I marveled at the Arc De Triomphe and strolled down the Champs-Elysées, admired artists along the Seine, and thrilled at Paris spread before me from the steps of Montmartre, but Notre Dame impacted me.

I’ve never made a Bucket List, but this tragedy caused me to pause and wonder what landmarks I would like to see before they are gone.  I was blessed to take a once in a lifetime trip to Europe shortly after graduating from High School. It’s the only time I’ve left America, and I can still feel and hear and smell some of the experiences on that trip.

Living in a “young” (200 year old) country, I was amazed by the ancient castles and cathedrals in Europe. Climbing the worn stones up spiral steps inside a turret of Blarney Castle to emerge and survey the rolling green hills of the Irish landscape are etched in my memory. (Of course I laid down on the cold stone, grabbed the iron rail to lean over backwards and kiss the Blarney Stone. I have a certificate to prove that I received the ‘Gift of Gab’ as a result of following the ‘tradition.’  That’s part of the fun of travel, following local traditions and superstitions so you feel a part of the place you’re visiting.)

I visited the Tower of London and saw the Cathedral where Princess Di and Prince Charles were soon to be wed as it was being acid-washed to reveal the glistening white stone. I have a picture of the guard who spoke to me near Buckingham palace. I kept and reread the book a passenger on an overseas flight gave me when I completed my book.

I learned about the people, places and cultures before my trip and then learned so much more while I traveled. I talked to fascinating people–fellow travelers, residents in the cities and towns, and the employees at tourist destinations, tour guides, shopping centers, and hotels. I think of the families I stayed with and the people I met along the way, making the world seem smaller.

Now, I’m wondering what I really WANT to see or do around the world before the chance is gone. Is there a place you’ve visited I should add to my list? Or a place that you wish you hadn’t spent the time and effort to see? If you could only take ONE international trip, where would you go and what would you do?

 

Balance for 2019

Doctors attempting to reanimate a heart that has stopped must charge the defibrillator. Those brief seconds of charging allow the machine to do what is intended–deliver a strong burst of electricity to jolt the heart into action or into a regular beat. Without the charge, the machine is worthless, so those few seconds of preparation are crucial in those moments between life and death.

I’m an action-oriented person. I go, do, teach, learn, serve, work, make, create. I don’t stop, pause, learn, read, relax, or rest enough. I work night and day on a project until I’m exhausted, then I set it on the shelf and feel guilty for not touching it for a month…or two…or more.

As I began 2019, I was determined not to make New Year’s Resolutions. I feel I set myself up for failure making the same resolutions annually, then giving up on each one as time passes. I read my niece’s post about her decision not to make resolutions each year. Instead, she asks God to give her a word for the year.

I believe in the power of words–that’s why I write and blog and teach. I am fluent in two languages so I can communicate in English or in American Sign Language. Words have power, and her idea intrigued me.

The quickest, simplest way for me to recharge is a deep breath. I hear it all the time in yoga:.

That’s it–my word for 2019!

My mantra this year is inhale…exhale. How simple is that to say?  But…     So.      Hard.      To.      Do.

Inhaling includes self-care–getting the exercise my body needs to stay strong, practicing yoga to maintain and increase flexibility, eating healthy foods, and only indulging in moderation. It’s taking time to rest and recharge, and scheduling down time. A writing mentor always reminded me I couldn’t pour from an empty pitcher. I love to give and pour into others, but I have to recharge and refill my pitcher so I can do the things I love.

Pendulums inside a clock swing back and forth in a limited range of motion. When my life is in balance, I can move from work to leisure and back again in a fairly steady, predictable rhythm.  Choosing to inhale will help me maintain balance in 2019.

To hear more about my word for the year, check out my podcast at:  www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-jc8q9-a66d78

 

The Next Frontier: PODCASTING

A friend and I just released our first podcast! We have been brainstorming, planning, and working on the format, content, and ideas for a while. It’s almost like preparing for childbirth. We are excited about sharing our experiences with others, but the little, fearful voice in my head is afraid no one will listen–or like it. It is a GIANT leap of faith to put ourselves out there into the podcasting world.

Sheree (Day 8 — Sheree McMillen) and I both love speaking–teaching classes, providing support and encouragement, presenting to large and small audiences, etc. We also love listening to various media, including podcasts and audiobooks. We have both listened to a podcast and heard a “professional” describing our experiences from their clinical perspective, along with advice on how to cope and what to do. We felt they were dispassionate and detached. They could explain from an academic standpoint, but they hadn’t lived it. It was the equivalent of hearing someone tell YOUR story of TRIUMPH in a monotone voice.

Instead of fuming, we decided to take action. We decided to {figuratively} bare our chests, sharing our experiences–the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Life hasn’t followed the straight path either of us imagined when we were younger.

However, we have survived and are learning to thrive despite, or maybe because of, the challenges we have faced on our meandering paths. To honor the lessons gleaned from the twists and turns in life, our Podcast is called Meandering to Blessings and we will begin publishing regular episodes SOON!

At various times, we have all felt alone, yet we experience the same struggles, doubts, and fears. We share our stories, the lessons we have learned, and the blessings we received as we meander our path in life. Our podcast offers hope, encouragement, and laughter to equip us for the challenges we face on the next turn of the path.

Everyone faces adversity, but no one should face it alone.  Take a minute to listen to the first episode…while I teach the butterflies in my stomach to fly in formation.

meanderingtoblessings.podbean.com

Time

We all have the same amount. Each day, we are given 86,400 seconds, which is 1,440 minutes or 24 hours, until the next day. We reboot (sleep) and do it again…

Until our time runs out

How we fill our time is what differentiates us. You’ve heard do as I say and not as I do? The way to gauge a person’s values is to look at their bank records, and their calendar. Sometimes I’m proud of what they say about me, but I don’t even want to look myself at other times, and I certainly wouldn’t let anyone else see them.

If time with my family is important to me, I have to schedule it. I have to invest in it–with my money, my time, and my effort. If self-improvement is a priority, I have to invest in it. Most of us have careers or at least jobs to support us, and we spend varying amounts of time and money in the pursuit of education, training, and just plain working. There are also the requisite adult activities, including paying bills, cleaning, shopping, cooking, laundry, etc… But none of these things take up EVERY second.

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I just finished an extended time of studying in preparation for an exam. New rules were promulgated by USA Gymnastics in May and I have been studying specific parts of the rules in preparation for the exam I took last month. To make time for this creaky old brain to absorb some of the information, I had planned study times. I made flash cards. I used computer programs, made spreadsheets, color coded my notes and diagrams, cried, called friends and mentors, searched the internet for study aids and hints, ate chocolate, lost sleep, studied in my car, skipped activities, and began practicing yoga.

While studying, I worked a full time job, paid most of my bills, spent time with my kids, took two trips, maintained my yard and tiny garden, and did all the regular adulting required of single moms. However, I consciously spent time each week studying.

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In the process, I also found creative ways to avoid studying. In this same time period, I put down flooring in two bedrooms, traveled to Texas one month and to Florida and Georgia another. In the last month, I cleaned out my pantry and repainted it. I also revived my Twitter Account, played on Facebook, and updated the books I have read or want to read on Goodreads–nothing vital, but great ways to expend vast quantities of time in lieu of studying.

God has graciously granted me time each day, each week, each month, and each year. I pray I’m not wasting it. A precious family just lost their daughter–she has no more time. They can’t go back and spend a single moment with her. All they have are the memories.

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I want to live so that I have no regrets if tragedy strikes. I strive to maintain good relationships with family and friends so I won’t wish I had said or wish I hadn’t done…if it was our last time to together.

I am setting and achieving short term goals to improve my life. Time Management is so important, yet I let urgent tasks supersede the important. For now, I’m focusing on spending time intentionally in priority areas while also scheduling time for fun, because if it isn’t on my calendar, it doesn’t happen.

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PostScript–I failed the test I studied for all summer. (See Previous Post–I FAILED, but I’m NOT a Failure.)  I am studying again and praying that I do better next month!

I Failed, but I am NOT a Failure

A grade shows how you did on a particular test on a given day–it neither measures nor affects who you ARE as a person. However, most students don’t feel that way, and I got a painful reminder of that fact. I just received the results from two exams I took last month for Women’s Gymnastics, and I failed both.

I know in my head that I didn’t pass, but I feel in my heart that I AM A FAILURE! That’s what kids feel when a grade or performance doesn’t meet their expectations, or those of their parents, teacher, or coach. If I’m having trouble separating the fact of not passing from the feeling of being a failure, how much more difficult is it for young people who don’t have the depth of knowledge and experience to help them sort facts from feelings?

In my defense, I studied a lot for this test over the summer. I was familiar with the material, but hadn’t mastered it by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even surprised I failed. I fully anticipated failing, and had already begun organizing and planning my studying in preparation for a retake.

If a colleague hadn’t passed, I would remind her that these are all new rules, and that she is very new to judging. I would remind her that most judges have years of experience and that many of them have to retake tests, so she is in good company. I would never condemn her for not achieving her goal on the first try, but I have no problem berating myself for the same thing.

The almost overwhelming sense of worthlessness that threatens to drag me under is unsettling. I am more than a score on any test. I am more than a grade on a paper, or a test, or in a class. My value as a Christian, a mother, a friend, a sibling, or a person does not hinge on any test.

I pray I can remember how personal this feels the next time one of my children is upset by a grade. I hope to help them separate the fact of the grade from the feeling of failure. I also need to learn to give myself permission not to be perfect. I don’t expect perfection of others, and won’t hold myself to a higher standard.

I know this is a good Life Lesson, but it doesn’t feel good. It reminds me how much I depend on my feelings, which can be so deceptive.

What Makes You Happy?

I love the time spent in the car with my kids. They feel more free to talk and ask questions where they can’t be overheard and there are fewer distractions. Recently, my youngest was in a talkative mood, and she loves to ask rapid-fire questions. If I don’t respond quickly, she moves on to her answer or another question or topic, but the question that stuck in my mind was this:

“What made you the HAPPIEST in your whole life?”

As a Christian, I know the answer should be when I committed to follow God. As a mom, I know my answer should be the birth of my children. I don’t “should” on myself, so …. what, when, where was I the happiest?

As a teen, I can remember flying across the Lake on a slalom ski and experiencing pure joy! On the best days, I got up before my siblings so I could be the first one on the lake. My mom or dad would wade into the water to throw me the life jacket, rope, and ski, then get all set to take off. When I was set, the engine would roar to life and then I would step onto the ski as the rope reached its limit. There would be a moment of uncertainty, wondering as I committed to the ski if I was balanced and had timed my take-off to glide across the water or would fall into the frigid water and have to shiver while the boat circled back for another try. On those early mornings, the lake was smooth and shone like glass and I could ski as long as I wanted before signaling to return to the shallow water where we began. On good days, I wasn’t wet above my knees. On other days, I was drenched from head to toe and the wind and water were chilly, causing my teeth to chatter, but it was a risk I was willing to take for the EXHILIRATION and JOY of skiing early in the morning on the smoothest water. (And bragging rights for the day.)

I remember those scenes so vividly. As an adult, it’s harder to remember the times when I’ve been deliriously happy. Maybe I’m so blessed and have had so many wonderful times that they blur together and it’s hard to distinguish ONE memory. My happy place is in nature, so snow skiing, camping, and the beach would be among the top collective memories. I can also remember the day I was awarded my first national certificate in sign language interpreting and spinning in circles with a friend who helped me celebrate!

As an adult, I also see the flaw in the question. No THING makes me happy. I choose to be happy. I choose joy even when my child is in ICU. I choose to be happy despite disease, illnesses, surgeries, divorce, death, depression, broken vehicles, money problems, etc… I can have hours, days, and sometimes weeks that STINK! There are more problems than hours, it seems. I can choose to be mad, angry, frustrated, sad and depressed. OR I can choose to tackle the problems without letting them steal my joy.

That’s the choice I have. It is to deal with the situation with grace and love and joy, or let the “problem” overwhelm me and steal positive feelings such as happiness. I’m so grateful to have learned that I can be happy even when circumstances aren’t great. I am glad I’ve had many chances to practice living joyfully despite the situation.

James encourages us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. ”  (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+1&version=NIV) I wouldn’t have written this verse–why do I want to be HAPPY about the bad stuff? What Can I possibly learn from the struggles? But my Heavenly Father, who is wiser than me,  tells me to survive with JOY!

I’m still working on JOY, but I don’t fall into deep despair and gloom when trials appear. I’m practicing the joy. I feel like a grad student at final exam time sometimes–ready for the testing to be over, but the tests have produced good qualities in my life. And God sends people to help me through so that I’m not alone. It may be a friend, or a coworker, or a neighbor, but God has always blessed me with help and comfort during those darkest times. Jesus cried in the Garden because He was ALONE! God made us and knows we need each other. And He supplies all our needs.

So ask yourself, When have you experienced PURE JOY? When have you been the happiest? The question was eye-opening for me.

Acknowledgment: Depression is real. I’m so grateful for professionals and medications to help me through the deepest valleys. In fact, large percentages of individuals use medications to control their depression and to stabilize their moods. Some do it for a short time while others are on medications for extended periods or life. Prescribed medications are safer and have more predictable results than the “self-medicators” who use illegal substances, or legal substances in illegal ways. There is no shame or judgment for anyone getting the help they need.

Letters

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? Not an email, an instant message, or a text, but a letter? Not a “Sympathy Card” or a “Get Well Card,” but an actual letter?  You know how they go: How are you doing? Here is what I’ve been doing, saying, dreaming, or thinking?

Do you remember being young enough to be excited when mail came? Before the box was filled with bills and appointment reminders, I remember getting notes from my grandmother or my pen pal. I remember being excited when a piece of mail came to the house in MY name!

Writing Letters is [almost] a lost art in our society.

I’ve had the opportunity to rediscover the lost art of writing letters this summer, along with thousands of others who have young men and women training to serve our country in the military. Technology impacts our lives daily, but the military strips it down to the basics when grooming young people to serve our country. Initial training involves separation physically from family and friends, as it always has. Now, it also involves removal of electronics so trainees can focus on their mission.

For the first time in some of their young lives, the new inductees in the military are unable to utilize cell phones, computers and other electronic devices for communication. Plunged into a new world and cut off from these things, they have taken to pen and paper like the generations before them. In the same way, their families can only communicate through letters. So, a whole new generation is learning how to write, address, and mail letters, then experience the anticipation, frustration, and joy while waiting for a reply.

Letters are so unique and so personal. Without emojis and built-in auto correct to tell us what to write, they wind their way through our thoughts and emotions. They sometimes have themes, but other times are random collections of thoughts and half-baked ideas. Some days the pen seems to have a mind of its own and you can’t get the words on the page fast enough. Other days, “Dear ____” is the only thing that comes to mind.

I’m grateful for this journey–watching my son’s letters develop from the equivalent of long text messages to missives with themes and and messages. I won’t tell him it’s developed his writing abilities this summer, but I think he will be pleasantly surprised with an improvement in his writing grades. Maybe he didn’t practice writing essays with three points, but he has honed his ability to say what he meant clearly and concisely.

It’s been fun to see his thought processes develop and his ability to convey his feelings improve this summer. I’ve missed him while he’s been gone and look forward to seeing him again, but I hope I’ll still get letters from him occasionally. I intend to write more letters by hand to him and to others.

Just for fun, write a letter! Write a letter to a friend you haven’t seen in a while–or to one you’ll see tomorrow. Some of our best thoughts appear on the written page, but if you don’t write, they stay hidden.

Happy Letter Writing….

Kindness

Adults wield power over children. We are larger and stronger and have more experience. It’s easy to forget how much they look up to us and hang on every word and every expression that flickers across our faces. Children, including teenagers that pretend they don’t know you exist, watch it all. They learn by watching our actions, and even more than by listening to our words. Have you ever heard children playing and known exactly who they were imitating?

Today, I’m watching one of my children grieve the hurt an adult has caused. My kids have been through so much just surviving our home with addiction, divorce, and strained relationships. It doesn’t insulate them from cruelties in the world, but it breaks my heart to see any of them suffer additional injuries.

I pray that we are all a little kinder than necessary, and that we give a little more grace to anyone we may be able to influence, especially children. As adults, let’s make sure we use our influence for good–to build up and encourage rather than tear down and destroy. If we all do that, we may spare another child a season of hurt, grieving and despair.

I pray that my words, actions, and attitudes have not impacted children adversely. I pray we each show more kindness, compassion, and love!

Judy St. Clair–MY MOM

Happy Mother’s Day!I love my mom so much. When I was a teenager and so much smarter than her, we had rough times, but she has wised up considerably in the last quarter of a century! I’m so proud of all that has been learned, and grateful she gave me time to learn it.

My mom possesses an array of talents. I’ve been planning this tribute to her for quite a while, but actually composing it is so much harder than I expected. I’ve known her my whole life, and I owe so much to her, it has been hard to narrow down. I’ve tried to use a few categories to limit all I want to say. (I consulted my sister, Wendy, and my brother, Al for their ideas.)

ANIMALS–Mom has always loved animals. She had a horse while she was growing up–the source of some of her back problems currently. In her adult life she has owned fish, birds, a rabbit, cats, a dog and a squirrel. She rescued the stray dog by gaining his trust while she worked in her yard. Over time, she was able to pet him, brush him, bathe him, and he would follow her into the house. He bonded with her and loved her until he died.

The squirrel was  tiny kit when she found it, but she researched how to care for it and fed it every couple of hours until it grew big enough to go longer stretches. They had a cage in the house for it as it grew and became more lively, and she released “Heather” as soon as she was able to fend for herself. However Heather came back to get treats almost daily. When she injured a leg, mom took her back in and even convinced the vet to prescribe steroids to help her heal! Mom released her again when she was well. It was a ritual of visiting mom to go out and look for Heather and give her pecans.

CREATIVITY–While necessity may be the reason for invention, my mom’s creativity is inspiring. She could take whatever we had and make it into something amazing. School projects could get out of hand because she came up with creative ideas for them. She sewed clothes for all of us, and I’m grateful she taught my sister and me. It’s one of the skills I fall back on out of practicality and fun.

She decorated the bedroom Wendy and I shared with fabric on one wall, before any designer thought of it. She let us select our sheets from the S & H Green Stamp catalog, then she decorated the room around them. The piece de resistance was the wall she covered with sheets, then used pom-pom fringe to cover the edges! We loved our room.

FAITH–Mom loved us enough to take us to church each week–not send us, but take us even when we didn’t want to go. We learned our faith in God from her. I remember her preparing lessons for her Bible classes and for Vacation Bible School each year. I don’t remember lectures about serving others, but her example taught more than words could.

FOOD–She’s a great cook, although she would prefer to get out of the kitchen any time she could. She knew where the discounts were every day of the week, so we could eat What-A-Burgers when they were half price each week. When we got our first microwave, she loved experimenting with it, cooking eggs and almost everything in it!

She made enormous pancakes with bacon in them, which we devoured. Wendy even had a couple of friends that would frequently sleep in their vehicle outside the house so they could have pancakes in the mornings!

She learned to decorate cakes when I was young, and made cakes professionally occasionally. We loved it because there is a bit of waste any time you level layers to decorate, and we got to take the scraps and left-over frosting and have fun, then eat the evidence!

The complexity of the wedding cakes she made increased over the years. She made a cake for my stepbrother that looked like a bale of hay and a cowboy hat. It was so realistic that many of the guests thought they were props–not an edible cake!

FUN–She led the way in having fun with us! Of course she played games with us and made sure we had a little pool in the back yard when we were little. She hosted wonderful, themed birthday parties, and always had fun food and great ideas when we had friends over, but she still hasn’t grown out of having fun any chance she gets.

She would get us small salamanders at the Texas State Fair each year, then use thread to tie tiny leashes around their necks, which she pinned to our shirts for Show And Tell! I could “wear” my pet to school, then place it in a box for the rest of the day.

We loved our family camping trips each summer. When we were little, the campsites were primitive–meaning no shower houses. We walked to the outhouses a couple of times each day, and my parents hauled water from the one pump in the camp site so we could cook and drink. Later, they added showers and toilets! I remember her washing the boat constantly. We put the boat in the lake as soon as we had removed all the camping items from it and left it anchored until it broke and had to be repaired or we were packing to leave. Mom spent time in the lake every day using lake water and a cleanser to clean it inside and out, wiping down the seats, dash, and hull, organizing the ski ropes and fishing equipment, then windexing the windshields.

Before my sister could drive, mom would take her and her friends to roll houses, and taught her how to shoe polish a window! (I’m hoping the statute of limitations is up so she won’t be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor!) One of Wendy’s friends would write on mom’s car windows in the evenings. Mom would go outside with the Windex and clean it off, then he would return and do it again, and again, and again…

LOVE–Mom loves us unconditionally. I know she was disappointed when we messed up and didn’t act or live as she taught us, but she loved us through it. It took a great amount of love to listen to the three of us practice various musical instruments.

She and my dad went to every high school football game while my sister marched in the band–that’s dedication and commitment. I’m sure she couldn’t possibly count the hours she spent chauffeuring three kids. Al got us hooked on soccer when he was young, then there were soccer practices and games for three of us. Each of us played a musical instrument, so there were concerts, practices, and lessons. We sometimes wanted to visit a friend, and the church activities and camps kept her on the go.

We were fortunate to have a great Parks and Recreation program in Irving, Texas, while we were growing up. We took music lessons, played sports, and swam at the local centers. When we were old enough, we rode our bikes to the summer activities, but mom always drove us to the evening lessons. She even drove me to gymnastics lessons in Euless for a while–that was a big time and money commitment, and I am so grateful she encouraged our interests and found a way to allow us to try so many different things.

I am so grateful for all the lessons you have taught me! Thank you for loving us all through our delightful teenage years, and helping us learn how to ADULT! Thank you for encouraging our diverse talents and encouraging us to follow our dreams!