Posts Tagged With: family

Collecting Coffee Mugs

I’ve decided to collect coffee mugs. The other day, I was standing in line to purchase a coffee mug and some other merchandise from the Choose901 pop-up shop in Memphis when I decided that I am going to start collecting coffee mugs.

901 mug

Choose901 in Memphis

My mother collected coffee mugs. She had a make shift shelf where she displayed them at one end of the kitchen in the old house.

“The old house.” My siblings may have other names for the beloved, big house in Stanton, but that’s what I call it: the old house. It was almost a hundred years old when we moved into it. It was over a hundred years old when the folks moved out of it. It was well over a hundred years old when a June tornado swept it away.

I call it “the old house” because the house that the folks eventually moved into seemed like their new house; although, it was neither new nor a house when they moved into it.  I call it “the old house” because it’s where I grew up. I spent all but one year of my childhood there, all of my adolescence, and quite a few years of my adulthood living there. A lot of years drinking coffee in the kitchen of that old house.

My mother’s kitchen was rectangular. At one end, a window opened to the neighbor lady’s massive flower garden that, I like to think, my mother enjoyed, wishing she had the time and the energy to cultivate one of her own. She had too many children, too much to do to spend her time whiling away in a flower garden. My mother was practical like that.

At the other end of the kitchen was the make-shift coffee mug shelf where a door used to lead into a bedroom. When my father made the extra bedroom into a over-sized bathroom, he closed the door in from the other side with a piece of faux blue marble wood paneling. When in the kitchen, the door frame was left, but the opening was covered by the drab brown back of the paneling. My mother had Dad nail some left over 2x4s horizontally, making the doorway into a pocketed shelf to display her mugs. It wasn’t pretty, but it was useful.

I miss that kitchen. It wasn’t pretty, but it was more than useful. Life happened there. Sistering happened there.

Sisters around table

From left to right: #5, #8, #4, and me, #10. #7 isn’t pictured.

During family gatherings, usually Thanksgiving and Christmas, my sisters and I gathered around the brown, formica table drinking coffee or tea and talking about inappropriate things. From the looks of shock on my face and our body positions, #4 must have said something uproariously inappropriate for which I punched her in the shoulder. #8 is amused but keeping it to herself (no doubt a little later in the day one will be able to find the two of us sitting in a corner of the house discussing this exact moment) as #5 enjoys the moment.

The door directly behind #4 and me eventually was made into the pocketed shelf, but for this moment it is just a door. And we are just sisters.

It’s interesting what time will do. A door turns into a pocketed display shelf that one day disappears and is only now a memory.

We, the sisters, have changed with time, too. In this picture, we are younger versions of ourselves, some with husbands and kids, some without, connecting through advice, opinion, laughter, and coffee.

But soon, over time, the living of life changes relationships. There aren’t many pictures of this time. Advice is not sought. Opinions hurt. Laughter fades. Coffee cups are left empty. Pain is the tie that binds. We remain just sisters.

Then time does what time does best. It marches on. Each of us has to learn individual lessons about ourselves and about each other. Each of us has to learn how to reconnect with one another; how to let by-gones be by-gones and to let love be love. We can do it for others, so we learn to do it for each other.

This past Thanksgiving, we came together again over coffee around #4’s round oak table, my mother’s formica table long since lost but not forgotten. We are all a little nervous, but soon fall into an old familiar routine of chatting about inappropriate things, giving advice, offering opinions, and much missed laughter.

sisters 2015

Thanksgiving 2015                                                                                                        From left to right: Me (#10, #7, #4, #8, and #5)

 

It’s much easier now, being sisters. We have settled into our lives, dreams met, dreams deferred, perspectives solidified, perspectives changed. We have settled into knowing and accepting each other, understanding rather than judging and forcing change.  We have settled into relationship with one another, choosing it rather than just being born into it.

This circle of coffee ushered in a new phase in our sistering, a more mature, satisfying relationship. A relationship based on respect, honor, and love, not treading on areas where uninvited. I like this phase of sistering. It took us awhile, and many times I mourned it, believing that we would never have it. But now it is here.

Now, we are sisters.

 

Categories: Family, Holidays | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Writing Challenge Day 16: My thoughts on education

wpid-screenshot_2014-10-07-17-40-55-1.png

I am the mother. I am my children’s life-long teacher.

When I decided to have children, I made their education a top priority.

Categories: Daily Writing Challenge, Education, Family, Parenting | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Challenge Day 2: 20 Facts About Me

I don’t like giving facts about myself.  No matter what I write, I feel like I paint an incomplete picture and leave wide the doors of misinterpretation. Please feel free to ask questions. I’m an open book.

 

Twenty Things You Never Wanted To Know About Me

1. I am the youngest of 10 children.  I have four brothers and five sisters. I love them all.

2. I was raised Pentecostal by a Pentecostal Holiness father and a grace-giving mother. No, we didn’t dance around with snakes.

3. I lean toward liberal conservatism/conservative liberalism. My Christian friends think I’m liberal, and my non-Christian friends think I’m conservative.

4. A friend recently told me that I demand open-mindedness, and that I have very little patience for people who are closed-minded.

5. My favorite quote is from Aristotle: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

6. I love to learn. I dabble in a wide variety of disciplines; however, English literature and Composition and Rhetoric will always be my true loves.

7. I grew up in a very small, mid-western town. There are definite benefits and definite drawbacks to growing up/living in a rural area that, in my opinion, cannot be rightly compared to the benefits and drawback of growing up/living in an urban area.

8. I’ve never been to Europe, but have dreamt of traveling across Europe by train. A month is all I need.

9. I love to laugh. I also use laughter to break tension. I am a master at the ill-timed joke. That’s why I sit by myself at church.

10. I believe in learning something on vacation. I’m not against fun for fun’s sake, but I think if my family and I

photo credit: historicdenver.org

photo credit: historicdenver.org

are going to travel all over this beautiful nation of ours, we should come away with some knowledge about it, even if it is as seemingly insignificant as the Unsinkable Molly Brown (of Titanic fame) was never called Molly in her life, her Denver mansion by today’s standards is just a big house, and, by having small metal bowls to hold scented oil welded to the inside of the decorative fireplace screen, she is most likely the inventor of the warmed-oil air freshener.

11. I am a walking oxymoron. I am a considerate control freak, chaotic organizer, an idealist rational, messy clean freak, and lazy health nut. I am sure there are more.

12. A friend recently described me as “a soft and gooey center with a hard outer shell covered in armor with a wall build around for protection.” Seems about right.

13. I didn’t really learn to read until I was a sixth grader. They told my parents that I “didn’t apply myself.” I think it had something to do with my ADD. Regardless, I grew up thinking I was dumb. Imagine my surprise when, at 20, I found out that I wasn’t.

photo credit: stanton.net

photo credit: stanton.net

14. I grew up across the street from a Carnegie library.  Until I was a 5th or 6th grader, I was only allowed to check out books if one of my older sisters went with me.

15. Until I was able to check out books by myself, I would stand just inside the library doors, and for a few minutes with my eyes closed I’d breathe deeply, taking in the smell of the books. Then I’d leave without uttering a word to anyone.  I wonder now what the librarian thought of me: What a strange child that little Pinkston girl is. 

16. My entire family has dark brown hair. I secretly wanted to be one of the girls in ABBA, so that I’d be the only girl in the family to have long blonde hair. Maybe then everyone would stop calling me Beth (one of my older sisters).

17. One drawback to having 9 siblings is people I didn’t know would say, “Oh, aren’t you one of the Pinkston girls?”  Yes, I am, and please, for the love of everything good and holy, don’t call me Beth.

18. If Beth wasn’t my sister, we’d be best friends.

19. I cried when my parents sold our family home.

20. I cried again 20 years later when it was blown away by a Nebraska tornado.

That is kind of a bummer place to end. See what I mean about painting an incomplete picture?

Please feel free to browse the archives or ask questions for clarification or out of curiosity. I’m a curious cat myself.

Categories: Daily Writing Challenge, Family, Personal | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A Hot Chocolate-less Winter

As we prepared this weekend for an ice storm, my kids wanted to make sure that I had enough hot chocolate in the pantry to get us through the predicted two-day event. (The fact that an ice storm can bring the Mid-south to a stand still is the topic of an upcoming post.)

If it wasn’t for my children, hot chocolate would not be a winter-time staple in my house. I prefer a hot chocolate-less winter.

cup of hot chocolate

I don’t like hot chocolate.  I did, but I don’t now.  The journey from there to here is an interesting story that all started with a bad decision.

Growing up in a the Midwest where the winters were (and still are) relatively frigid, warm liquids were (and still are) a must.   My mother made hot chocolate mix from scratch and kept it in an ice cream bucket on the kitchen counter for easy access.  My brother, #9, and I could make a piping hot cup at any time of the day without requiring assistance from our mother.  This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon the one’s individual decision-making skills.

On a particularly cold afternoon after playing outside, my brother and I came in to warm ourselves with some hot chocolate.  We put the pan of water on the stove, brought it to a rolling boil, and then poured it into the cups that had a measured amount of chocolate mix in them.  There was a slight ting in our icy fingers as we wrapped them around the hot cups of chocolate.  As our hands began to thaw, we placed our faces over the cup allowing the steam to warm our faces and to breathe in the silky promise of warm chocolate.  #9 stuffed his cup with a mountain of marshmallows, and I aligned a simple layer to cover the top. While I sipped my cup of hot chocolate, my brother drank his quickly and made another. By the time I had finished my one cup, he easily had drunk two cups of hot chocolate and had eaten two mountains of marshmallows.

Later that evening after supper, we were in the living room watching television with my parents when my brother asked Mom to please make him a cup of hot chocolate.  He could have easily made it himself, but everyone knows that a cup of hot chocolate made by your mother is much more satisfying.  It is always just the right temperature and is made with just the right ratio of milk and mix, and mothers always know the perfect amount of marshmallows to grace the top.  When Mom returned with his requested cup of hot chocolate, #9 drank it quickly and asked for another one.  She made it for him, again with the perfect combination of ingredients and love.  He again drank it quickly.

“Be careful,” Mom warned #9. “You’re going to make yourself sick.”

He asked for another cup.  And she made it for him.  And he slurped it down.  And she warned him again.  He told her he was fine, and he went and made himself another cup.

After watching Archie Bunker, Hawkeye, and Carol Burnette, we were The_Carol_Burnett_Showsent to bed.  At that time, my brother and I shared a room and we slept in bunk beds.  I slept in the top bunk because the bottom bunk was too enclosed, and I would have nightmares.  Although #9 was the oldest and would have preferred the top, he resigned himself to the bottom bunk, claiming it was too far to crawl to the top anyway.  But that night, #9 decided that he was going to sleep in the top bunk and that I had to take the bottom.  I vehemently opposed the idea based on the certainty of having a wild nightmare that would end in me crying out for my mother.  #9 would not concede.  He resolutely climbed to the top bunk and buried himself under my blankets.  I then had to crawl into his bunk.

Lying in the bottom bunk looking up at the metal springs that kept the upper bunk and my brother from falling, crushing the air out of me and immobilizing me to the point I would slowly suffocate to death, I began to panic.  Foreboding thoughts of dying in the middle of the night without any way of screaming out for help, only to be found the next morning by mother who would be grief stricken for the rest of her life, started swirling in my head.  Becoming claustrophobic from panic and needing air, I moved my pillow to the outside of the bed, so I could sleep with my head hanging half way off of the bed.  In that position I fell asleep.

In that position I was abruptly awakened by a sudden onslaught of regurgitated now not-hot hot chocolate. In the middle of the night, my brother’s stomach decided that 6+ cups of hot chocolate, although delicious, was too much to digest and needed a little relief. Now wide awake but not knowing what hit me (literally), #9 unloaded on my head again. I jumped out of bed to see him hanging over the upper bunk, slimy liquid dripping from his lips. “Mom!” I yelled, ran out of the room, down the hall and stopped at my parents door.  We were not allowed to just barge in, so I stood outside their door waiting for one of my parents to come out. I waited for a few seconds, but neither one of them appeared in the door to help me.  So I decided to try again.

I drew in a deep breath and screamed at the top of my lungs, “Moooooooooooom! #9 is puking up his guts!”  It took about 0.00001 of a second for my mother to appear in the doorway, barely look at me, and run down the hall to assist my brother.  Mom grabbed #9 out of bed and flung him into the bathroom that was across the hall all in one quick motion.  With my brother’s stomach content dripping from my hair and face, I stood in the doorway waiting my turn to be cleaned up.  When she came out of the bath room, she looked at me in surprise and asked, “What happened to you?”  I was dumbfounded. I wanted to say, in the words of the mid-1970s, “Duh,” but my mother would have slapped me for being smart.  I chose to answer her honestly. “He puked on me.”

The rest of the night was pretty typical; mom got us both cleaned off and the bedroom cleaned up.  She put on fresh sheets, gave #9 a puke bucket, and made him lie down in the bottom bunk where I would be safe if he missed the bucket.

Dad slept through the entire ordeal.

Once you have had hot chocolate spewed on you by a sibling, you no longer crave hot chocolate as you did before.  In fact, it quite possibly could make you never want to see, smell or, God forbid, drink the wintery beverage ever again.

swiss miss

We try to do things, or overcome things, for those that we love, so I bought the 45 cup container of Swiss Miss and two half gallons of Vanilla Almond Milk.

They only get two cups a day.

Categories: #9, Bad Decisions, Family, Holidays | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Another Would-Have-Been Anniversary

Today, November 30th, would have been my parents’ 63rd wedding anniversary. They have both passed on, but I remember how I loved to hear my dad tell the story of how they met. The immediacy and desperation of their situation – each trying to care for and support their children a midst crippling poverty, death and divorce – escaped me as I was caught up in the wonder of their chance meeting. Even when I was in high school and thought my parents to be archaic and out of touch with the times, their story enchanted me.

When my father recited the tale of how he met and married my mother all within the month of November, it was always so miraculous, so divinely ordered, and so romantic. It wasn’t until I was out of college that my mother told me her side of the story, and it was all so practical. No divine intervention. Nothing miraculous. Just logical explanation. But that is who my parents were. Dad saw the miraculous. Mom saw the practical.

I am sure to leave something out that is of importance to one of my siblings, because I am sure they have heard the story as often as I have. What I write is what I remember from the stories they told to me.

Dad’s Perspective
Ellis moved his first wife, Bette, and their two children to Houston, TX from Evansville, IN in 1949 because someone had told him the climate was supposed to help his wife’s tuberculosis. It didn’t and he lost his wife in June of 1951. A man new in his Christian faith, Ellis found himself having to care for a 9 year-old daughter, Peggy, and 8 year-old son, Larry. Ellis left their small apartment before the sun rose and didn’t return until well after the sun set, leaving the motherly duties of getting kids ready for and off to school, house cleaning and preparing meals to 9 year-old Peggy. Realizing that it was all too much for his young daughter, Ellis and the children began asking God to send a wife and mother to care for them. They gave no specifics other than a woman that would love them as her own and loved Jesus with all her heart.

One Sunday in early November, Ellis treated his kids to an after-church lunch at the cafeteria in Woolworth’s close to the small apartment he rented. They were seated and he was looking over the menu when the waitress arrived to take their order. Before Ellis could raise his head, Larry yelled, “Mom!” Ellis, shocked at what Larry just called the waitress, received an even bigger shock when he looked up to see a mass of hair affixed to a bony body with lips slathered in bright red lipstick waiting to ask, “My I take your order?” Composing himself, Ellis said, “Yes” and ordered lunch for his little family. Believing Larry’s outburst to be prophetic, Ellis began having a conversation in his head with God. He questioned how this could possibly be the woman for him and his children. She was wearing make-up and working on a Sunday. She was a heathen! But in the quiet of his heart, Ellis knew that Larry was correct. This woman was the answer to their prayers. Ellis decided to do a kind of litmus test and invite her to church. After all, he would not be unequally yoked in marriage to an unbeliever.

When their food arrived, Larry again addressed her as mom. Although feeling the title a tad premature, Ellis thanked her and, before she could walk away, added “One day, I’m going to marry you.” The waitress smiled kindly, asked if there was anything else she could get for them, and then walked away. When the bill came, Ellis asked the waitress if she would go to his church’s evening service with him, and, to his surprise, she said yes. She gave Ellis her address. When he noticed that they lived in the same apartment complex, he took it as divine confirmation that indeed God had handpicked this woman just for him and his children.

Mom and Dad

Ellis and Helen

Later that day, Ellis went to her apartment to pick her up for church. When she opened the door, Ellis was taken aback by the bright red lipstick she was wearing. Composing himself, he told her she couldn’t go to church with him unless she washed it off. She said, “Okay,” went back into the apartment, washed off the lipstick and went to church with Ellis and his kids. Less than a month later, Ellis and the Woolworth’s waitress were married.

Mom’s Perspective
At nineteen, Helen found herself divorced with a 3 year-old son, Charles, and living in Houston, TX. She lived in a small apartment complex and was a waitress at the little cafe in Woolworth’s department store, a job that paid the rent and little else. She had been divorced for about 6 months and wanted to return home to her mother in North Platte, NE, but she could barely scrape enough money together to feed her son after the rent was paid, so there was no possible way she could afford to move back to Nebraska. She was all of 98 pounds and losing weight. She wasn’t sick. She was starving. At times, when the hunger was too much, and she couldn’t feed her son, or make rent, she contemplated prostitution. The thought made her sick, but she had no other recourse and she couldn’t let her son go hungry.

In the apartment complex, there was someone that would watch Charles while Helen worked, an elderly lady that acted as a grandmother and makeshift daycare provider for the children in the complex that were left alone while their parents worked during the day. Charles would stay at the elderly woman’s house until the other children of the complex arrived home from school, and then he would play outside with them until Helen returned home. Helen enjoyed coming home to see her son playing with the other kids. She would stop and chat with a few of the children playing with Charles before she would take him in for the evening. Some of the children began to call her Mom because that is what they heard Charles call her.

One Sunday in early November, Helen had the chance to work an extra shift at the Woolworth’s cafe. She didn’t usually work on Sunday, but she needed the money. She worked the breakfast and lunch shift and would be home in time for supper with her son. During the lunch shift, a man and his children sat down in her section. It wasn’t until she got to the table and the little boy shouted, “Mom!” that she recognized the children. It was the little boy and girl that were always playing with Charles when she got home from work. She didn’t know their names and she had never met their father, so she smiled and greeted the little boy before asking if she could take their order.

She brought the food to the table; she smiled as the little boy called her mom again, and set the plates in front of each of them. The man thanked her for the food and before she could turn to help another table, the fellow said, “I’m going to marry you.” Dumbfounded, she looked at him and, not knowing what to say, asked if there was anything else she could get for them. She walked away wondering if he was serious. She didn’t want anything to do with another man after what she had been through with her ex-husband. This guy is crazy, she thought to herself. Just give him the bill and walk away, she told herself.

She was startled when, as she delivered the bill to the table, the man asked her to attend church with him that evening. She startled herself even more when she heard herself tell the man, “Okay.” She couldn’t help notice the excitement of the kids and the smile on the man’s face.

For the rest of the shift, she argued with herself, pointing out facts such as not knowing the man’s name and just meeting him, only to have herself rebutted with Charles plays with his children every day and how bad could a guy be that takes his kids out to lunch after church? By the end of her shift, despite her better judgment, she had decided to go to church with the fellow.

When she arrived home, Helen told Charles that they were going to go to church with some of his friends, so they need to take baths and get ready. After dressing Charles, Helen put on a simple dress, tied her unruly hair back in a low pony, and put on her bright red lipstick. By the time she heard the knock on the door, she had convinced herself that if the fellow was serious about marrying her then why shouldn’t she accept? He obviously had a job that paid well enough to eat Sunday dinner at a cafe instead of eating at home, and she wouldn’t have to contemplate selling herself to provide for her son. He needed a mother for his children, and she needed someone to support her and her son. It seemed to her that they would be helping each other out. If nothing else, it would be good for both her and Charles to get out of the apartment for the evening. So when she opened the door, she was not that hesitant to comply when he told her, “You can’t wear that lipstick. You’re going to have to go wash it off.” She went into the bathroom and washed it off.

She and Charles went to church with this man and his children quite often through the month of November. By the end of the month, Helen became a follower of Christ and married the crazy man (she did eventually learn his name and the names of his children).

My Perspective
I thought for certain when my mother told me her version of their courtship it would have been at least as romantic as my father’s version. I was left wanting. Something of the miraculous left Dad’s story when Larry’s outburst wasn’t confirmed as prophetic, but he had known Mom because he played with her son, Charles, every afternoon. It was very hard to hear that my mother decided to marry for security rather than for the divine appointment of true love; however, now I know why she didn’t tell me her version until I was much older. For quite some time after hearing my mother’s side, their story lost its romance to the point of being pale.

So much of each of their stories screams, “Bad decision!” I don’t know many people who would recommend marrying for convenience. I don’t know many people who would advise others to marry after literally knowing each other for 30 days. Yet, my parents made it to 46 years of marriage before my mother passed away, Dad still the romantic and Mother still the pragmatist. Today would have been their 63rd anniversary. They added seven more children to their little start-up brood of three, and it would be easier to number the stars than to count the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren they now have.

Ellis and Helen and family (Charles is not pictured)

Ellis and Helen and family, abt 1992 (Charles is not pictured)

So really, even with the reality of my mother’s situation, their story is no less divinely ordered, no less miraculous, and no less romantic, for during those 46 years they truly fell in love and raised a particularly handsome family.

And that bad decision ended up making one good story.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Pops!

Categories: Faith, Family, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nebraskaland

Early Saturday morning, my husband and I packed suitcases in the back of the car and kids in the backseat and headed out on a thirteen hour road-trip back to our hometown in Nebraska (normally a ten-hour trip, but with kids and peeing and eating… well, you know) for my husband’s Aunt Betty’s funeral.

Her’s was an unexpected death, so there wasn’t much time to plan or prepare. Tim quickly put in for bereavement days. , I excused the kids out of school after a house and dog sitter was found, and we took off.

Northeast Nebraska in late April.

Northeast Nebraska in late April.

It was a quick trip. Driving all day on Saturday. Church and visitation on Sunday. Funeral on Monday. Drive home on Tuesday.

One doesn’t think too much can happen.

One would be wrong.

In the time we were gone, a wasp bit our oldest dog, the leash got jacked up, and our cable/internet was disconnected.

Our house/dog sitter texted late Monday night to let me know that Daisy’s eye was looking raw and wondered what we wanted her to do. There really wasn’t anything she could do. She wasn’t available during the vet’s normal business hours, so we told her to keep an eye on it and we would be home Tuesday evening.

This is what we found Tuesday evening when we got home:

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Sweet, gentle Daisy Mae

As it swelled, Daisy rubbed and scratched it until it was raw. Poor thing.

Wednesday morning, I took her to the vet where he determined it was probably a wasp bite that she irritated by scratching.  She is now on antibiotics and steroids.

Once we returned home and Daisy medicated, I grabbed the leash to take Queen Sophie for a walk and this is what I found:

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It was old and creaky, so I wasn’t sad to see it go.

The retractable leash was jammed with the cord fully extended. I couldn’t resist publicly teasing our dog sitter via Instagram™ with the above two photos and statements wondering if she secretly hated us. She doesn’t, and we still love her. Poor girl, everything seem to go wrong when she walked in the door.

On the bright side, I found this on the kitchen counter amid the mound of mail our house sitter collected over the three days we were gone.

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It wasn’t supposed to arrive for another week, but I was so happy to find the dog training kit I ordered after the nipping incident (click for part one and part two).  I watched the first couple of episodes Wednesday afternoon and started the training straight away.

Once finished with Queen Sophie’s first training lesson, I sat down to fold some laundry and watch an afternoon movie. That’s when I found out that the cable and internet had been disconnected while we were gone. I meant to pay it on our way out of town Saturday morning, but forgot. Then I was going to pay when we returned home, but forgot.

So there I was with no cable and no Nexflix, so I took a nap. I was exhausted.

On our way to church Wednesday night, I dropped the cable/internet payment off and took the kids to Dairy Queen to eat. We needed something pleasant to change the tone of the day, or at least I needed something pleasant. It helped for about an hour.

At church, I found out Queen Sophie tried to attack a dog in the middle of the street while its human was walking it. Did I mention the human had a cast on his arm? Yeah. The training videos definitely came none too soon.

I fell exhausted into bed that night, ready for the day to be over and praying the morning would bring something a little more pleasant.

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I can’t get enough of Sedaris!

My prayers were answered Thursday morning. The kids were ready for school early. Queen Sophie responded very well to training. But the most delightful happening was when the mailman brought me three wonderful packages: two David Sedaris books, a wonderfully soft linen set, and The Emotion Thesaurus.

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How many ways can you describe excitement? Why 158 according to this book.

I guess life is back to normal.

That makes me happy (or should I say ‘that makes me desirous to spread joy and make others feel good’).

Categories: Bad Decisions, Books!, Family, Humor, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Random Thoughts Friday #25

Random Thoughts

I am so glad the month of March is almost over. I don’t usually wish time away, but this month has worn me out.  Tomorrow my family and I will take off for the last of four trips for this month.

With all this traveling, one thing I have had is time to think. And it is amazing the thoughts one can have when you have time to think. Sadly, none of my thoughts were earth-shakingly brilliant.

1. My husband was right about the seats in my car. They make your butt hurt.

2. There is no way that I will admit that to him. Ever.

3. As many times as I have traveled I-70 across Missouri, I should know exactly where all the good exits are located. I don’t, so I scan the “Food” road signs at each exit wondering all the while whether that would be the last exit that has decent food.

4. I should start a travel blog. If it is anything like my thoughts after I started Random Thoughts Friday, all my traveling will come to an abrupt end.

5. Most people do not like black licorice, but I do. Twizzler is usually my go to licorice for road trips, but that darrelllea.com

 
darrelllea.com

has changed. Now Darrell Lea’s Soft Eating Liquorice is my traveling companion. It is smooth, chewy and down right delicious. Yummmm-O!

6. When you travel, most people will assume that it is for fun. Only one of the four trips I have taken this month was for fun.

7. My #1 rule when packing: you can always buy what you forget.

8. There is no way out of getting fat when in a car most of the month.

9. Absence must make the heart grow fonder. #9 and his wife, #8 and her husband and I were eating supper at Whiskey Creek the night before I left to drive back to Tennessee. As we left the table, I decided to surprise #9 with a hug once we were outside the restaurant. I didn’t even get a chance to get outside! #9 walked up to me while we were leaving, put his arm around me, gave me a squeeze and told me that he was glad we got together and to have a safe trip home. I was stunned. That may have been the only time he’s ever hugged me. That made my trip.

Me and Dave

10. Something big must be about to happen. My brothers are acting lovey dovey.  #6 made a surprise visit this fall, and we spent the day at Graceland. We talked more in that 24 hours than we had in all my life. He not only gave me a big hug, but also took a picture with me – something he doesn’t normally do without coaxing.  Then #9, who usually doesn’t care whether I’m in town, requests to have supper with me before I return to Tennessee, and he hugs me! Their actions might be normal for most brothers, but for mine, these behaviors are  most certainly unusual and lovey dovey. All this attention has left me wondering if some great cataclysmic occurrence is imminent!

Have a happy weekend, and I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts.

So what have you been thinking?

Categories: Family, Random Thought Friday, Recommendations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What I Learned at a Funeral

My dear Aunt Pinky passed away Saturday, March 2nd, and her funeral was Monday, the 4th.  I loved my Aunt Pinky, but had fallen out of touch with her after my Dad, her brother, died.

It was a four-hour drive to and from her funeral, so I had a bit of time to think about all that she meant to me and to so many others. Here are a few things I learned at her funeral:

1. People are more than who you think they are. Far, far more.Aunt Pinky

2. I would rather celebrate a life than mourn a death.  It is infinitely more valuable to talk about and, yes, laugh about her life and how she interacted with this world than to wonder how we are going to go on with her.  Just by living, she taught us so much. She showed us resilience in unbelievably hard times, how to laugh at ourselves, having the attitude “do what you can” will get us through most everything in life, and that no matter what we help each other.  A funeral is exactly the place to talk about the layers of her life. Each person carries with them their own experiences with her and their own understanding of her. Learning about her life from all these different people deepens our love for her and helps us realize what a gem we had.

3. A generation of my family has past. Their chance to influence is over. What part of their influences am I going to allow to carry on is, to some extent, up to me.

4. The Pinkstons, mainly Pinky, Junior and Betty, but also their children are a clever, wild, fun-loving, bunch of ordinary people who find themselves in deep nincompoopery from time to time. And talkative. That was the loudest funeral I’ve ever experienced.

5. I have under-appreciated my extended family.

6. When collecting family stories, the truth usually surfaces after gathering a sampling of the same story from numerous family members.  Always remember that if four people are each standing on a different corner of a four way intersection and there is an accident, the officer will get four different eyewitness accounts.

7. Pinching the skin on your elbow, no matter how hard, doesn’t hurt.

8. Be yourself at all times.

Categories: Faith, Family, Personal | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Hobbit

Effy was recently in a community theatre production of The Hobbit.  She was the grocery boy girl hobbit. I was quite amazed (not really sure why) at how she took over the stage when she entered for her scene.  She had a small part, but she is no small actress.

While G and I were waiting for the play to begin, G wanted to record the moment for posterity and whipped out her camera and told me to pose.  I hate getting my picture taken, mostly because I’m not very photogenic.  The last good picture taken of me was my first grade picture.  All subsequent pictures have been horrid.

G held out her camera and leaned into me and said, “Say cheese!”  FLASH!

1

“Holy crap, can that flash be any brighter?! It blinded me!” After my vision cleared of white spots, she showed me the picture. “That’s awful.”

Grace adds, “You squinted. We’ll do it again.”  She gives me some quick instructions to minimize the turkey neck and double chin before we lean our heads together.  FLASH!

2

“Gah! That light is so stinking bright!”

G looks at the photo. “You moved! Why is it so hard for you to take a simple picture?”

“Because I take horrid pictures, and the light on your camera is a freakin’ halogen headlight!”

“I give up,” G says.

“No, let’s try again.” We lean our heads together, and I brace myself for a blinding flash. FLASH!

3

“Hey! I kept my eyes open on that one!  But it’s all discolored. We’ll have to do it again.”

“No. This one is fine, Mom,” G conceded. Poor girl. All she wanted was a picture of her and her mother.

“Here, use my phone.” I took out my phone, and flipped the camera, so we could see the screen. FLASH!

wpid-IMAG1140.jpg

“Crap, the flash was pointed the wrong way.”

“Here, Mom,” G grabs my phone from me, more than likely out of exasperation. “I’ll do it.”

G centers the camera. We lean our head’s together, and FLASH!

wpid-IMAG1133.jpg

“Holy Mary, Mother of God! My eyes! I’m blind!” The flash on my phone was at least twenty times brighter than on G’s camera. Now two white dots stacked on top of each other like an incomplete snowman was taking up my entire line of sight rather than just a small white speck. “G, I can’t see. Most seriously.”

With my field of vision being obstructed, I can only guess that she rolled her eyes at me because she does that when she says, “Oh, mother.” Then she added, “I give up.”

“No, no, no. One more time. Just let my eyes adjust first. I’ll make them super wide, so when the flash goes off and I squint, they’ll look normal.” It made sense at the time.

“And it helps to look at the lens and not at the flash.”

“Gotcha.” She hands me back my phone and grabs her camera.

We lean our heads together, smile, I bug-eye, and FLASH!

“How’d I do?”

4

G laughs in total resignation. “It doesn’t look any different from the first one we took,” and hands the camera to me.

And this is why I don’t take pictures. Gah!

Shortly thereafter, the lights went down and the curtained opened on my Effy’s debut performance. I wish I had a snapshot of myself for her to see how proud I was of her at that moment (I’m always proud of her, but you know…).  She made the crowd roar with laughter, and after she exited, she received an ovation.

G snapped a shot of Effy and me after the play.

MomandF

Apparently, it is impossible for me to keep my eyes open when there’s a flash. Eff, however, never flinches.

Remember that face. It’s going to be famous one day. 😉

Categories: Bad Decisions, Family, Humor, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas Movies and Mishaps

Christmas movies begin playing at our house Thanksgiving Day, usually with Little Women.  That one is my favorite. I’ve watched it three times since Thanksgiving and I’ll watch it at least twice before the end of the year.

I asked my kids what their favorite movies are. Z said Polar Express. I thought he liked it for the visual mastery, but that wasn’t it. He loves the soundtrack. The soundtrack.

F chose a movie that I’ve never seen, Tom and Jerry’s Nutcracker. Her favorite part is when Tom scoops a little toy soldier into the toy box after being frightened by the soldier’s toy gun.

G’s favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. She doesn’t have a favorite part. It’s the feeling at the end of the movie that she likes. That’s my Idealist for ya.

My husband Tim’s favorite Christmas show is A Charlie Brown Christmas because it’s a classic. He grew up watching Charlie Brown struggle with the meaning of Christmas, and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without watching it at least once.

This year I introduced F and Z to The Christmas Story.  There are many parts of the movie I love, and much of it is reminiscent of my childhood.  My favorite part is when Ralphie’s family has to eat Christmas dinner at the Chop Suey Palace and the waiter hacks off the ducks head right in front of the family. Fra, ra, ra, ra, ra!

The hardest part to watch, partly because I have a weak stomach and partly because it brings back memories, is the scene when Flick dares Schwartz to stick his tongue to the flag pole.

photo credit: marquee.blogs.cnn.com

photo credit: marquee.blogs.cnn.com

That scene is a constant reminder of the time my nephew, Zep (who was in kindergarten at the time), stuck his tongue to the book return outside the town’s library.

**Names have been changed to protect the nincompoops in this story**

I am the youngest of a family of 10 children whose ages span 25 years from oldest to youngest. My sister, the oldest and who I refer to as #1, and her family lived up the hill from us, and her kids were about the same age as #9 and me. #1’s kids were really more like our cousins, and needless to say, nincompoopery reigned for many years.

Mon, my niece, and I were in elementary school, #9 was in Jr. High, and Zep was close to Kindergarten the winter day we were horsing around in the empty lot next to the Carnegie library across the street from our house.

photo credit: stanton.net

photo credit: stanton.net

We had been out all morning and were resting on the library’s stoop when #9 started explaining that if a person touches his or her tongue to the flag pole with lightning-fast speed, the tongue will not stick to the pole. I thought it sounded stupid, and after the half a gazillion other nincompoop ideas he has talked me into, I didn’t quite trust him. Since he couldn’t get Mon or I to try it, #9 walks over to the flag pole and quickly touches the tip of his tongue to the pole just enough to feel a tacky stick before pulling it off. Feeling successful, he challenges us again, but we both pass.  #9 pulled out the big guns, daring and double-dog daring us to try. As Mon and I vocally rejected his idiotic dares, we hear a scream from the other side of the library book return. It’s Zep. His tongue is firmly stuck to the metal book return, and he couldn’t remove it.

The book drop was very similar, but it was painted yellow.

The book drop was very similar, but it was painted yellow.

Screaming for us to help him, Mon and I try blowing on the spot where his tongue attached to the metal book drop. That didn’t help, so we started freaking out. #9 told us to run home (across the street) and get Dad (Grandpa to Mon and Zep). We took off, and during our short little journey across the street, we predicted that Dad was going to be so angry that he just may swear.That was something to be avoided at all cost.

We burst into the house and started yelling for Dad. When he appeared, we both began screaming at a fevered pitch about Zep and his tongue being affixed to the book drop that Dad couldn’t understand a word of what we were saying.  We told him to look out the living room window.

And then we heard him swear.

He grabbed a glass of tap water before marching out of the house and across the street with Mon and I at his heels. We knew his silence was the calm before the storm and once Zep was successfully removed from the book drop we would all be in a world of hurt.

But that didn’t happen.

Once we arrived at the scene, Zep was no longer attached to the book drop. Mon and I were stunned. Dad asked what the heck was going on? Mon and #10 (me)  told him Zep was stuck to the drop box.  #9 told Dad that Zep was stuck on the metal box, but before he knew it, Zep had ripped his tongue off the box with one big pull. 

Everyone looked at Zep who stood with his brutalized and bloodied tongue hanging out of his mouth. My stomach started to churn, when someone point out rather loudly that part of Zep’s tongue was still attached to book drop!

I wish we hadn’t looked. But we did, and we then we gave a collective “Ewwwwwwwwe…”

Dad grabbed Zep and marched him to our house while letting the rest of us know that we were all a bunch of jackasses, and didn’t we know better than to go around sticking our tongues to metal in the winter?

Well… yeah… kinda.

Categories: #9, Bad Decisions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments