Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Investment with the Highest Returns

My Granny taught me so many things; how to garden, how to can fruits and vegetables, make jellies, wilted lettuce, and cottage cheese, churn butter, and the list goes on and on and on. I’m able to do many things most people these days don’t even realize can be done outside of a factory all because of Granny. But it’s not so much what she taught me as how she taught me.

Granny was never in too much of a hurry to let me do things with her.  From the time I was about 5 years old, we worked side by side. She patiently showed me what to do and how to do it right. I can’t count the times she’s say, “I’ll tell you like my mom always told me…if you don’t do it right the first time, you’ll get the privilege of doing it again.”

It would have been so much easier (and quicker) for her to do things herself, but she didn’t. She could have used the ‘watch me so you’ll know what to do when you get older’ approach, but she didn’t. No, instead, Granny used the hands-on approach to teaching me to be a woman who knew how to provide for her home and her family.

As mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and teachers, we need to take a lesson from Granny. Each time we pass up the opportunity to walk a little slower to allow little feet to keep up with us, or deny ourselves the privilege of sweeping up an extra cup of flour off the floor after baking a batch of cookies, or opt for flower beds with flowers perfectly color coordinated and spaced instead of one with a more whimsical look, we have passed up a golden opportunity to make special memories with the children we love. These moments-I call them ‘teachable moments’-are lost forever once they pass, so see them for the treasures they are and make the most of them whenever you get the chance.

The memories we have of the special people in our lives are the result of their ability to see these teachable moments for what they are. In other words, these people took the time to investment in us-in our lives. And in turn, we need to make a similar investment into the lives of the young people we love. Think of it as the emotional circle of life.

I couldn’t possibly talk this emotional circle of life and investing yourself into someone’s life without talking about Carol Bennett. She touched hundreds of lives and invested a part of herself in each and every one of them…

Carol Bennett was my daughter, Elizabeth’s, kindergarten teacher. She had been teaching for many years when Elizabeth had her and was nearing the end of her career. But Carol was a good teacher and it was obvious she truly cared about her students. But never in a million years would I have imagined she would continue to care so many years later.

Fast forward from kindergarten to Elizabeth’s senior year in high school; graduation was approaching and Elizabeth was receiving gifts and cards from family and friends. One evening as she was opening up the mail she had received, I heard her say, “Oh, isn’t that so sweet!” I was just about to ask her what she thought was ‘so sweet’, when she sat a card and picture down in my lap. The card was from her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Bennett. It read, “I’m proud to have been a part of your education. Good luck in the future.” The picture was one Elizabeth had drawn in kindergarten!

Each year Carol Bennett kept one picture from each of her students. And 13 years later she took the time to send it-along with a card of congratulations to each student who was still in the area.  Carol had retired two or three years after Elizabeth had been in her class, so the fact that she wasn’t even involved in the school system anymore and had a plethora of other things she could have been doing with her time, made it even more special. I know I don’t need to tell you this, but Carol Bennett is someone who cares!

Remember…at the heart of some of our most treasured memories is the fact that someone like Granny or Carol let us know how much we meant to them. Whose memories are you helping to make?  
Momma D

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My kids Grew Up Without Cable and haven't Been to Disney World...Should I be Worried?

A few weeks ago I shared with you my memories of presenting Zach with his swing set in an effort to remind you that giving your child presents should never be a replacement for your presence. I want to take that ‘lesson’ a little farther this week by reminding parents that things don’t make the home any more than clothes make the man…

John and I raised our kids in house that was less than 2,000 square feet in size. All three girls shared a bedroom for several years, no one had their own bathroom (not even John and I), we didn’t have cable television until Emma was fourteen and the only one left at home, family vacations consisted of camping trips and county fairs for showing livestock and our kids actually had chores they were expected to do and do correctly. And guess what…they all lived to tell about it!

Don’t get me wrong—when one of their friends asked why they lived in such a little house or told them they were sorry they didn’t have cable, my heart would skip a beat in fear it would embarrass my kids. Or when they talked about how so-and-so was going to Disney World or on a cruise over spring break, I can’t deny I sometimes wished we could do something like that for them.
I’m thankful and proud, however, that none of that seemed to bother our children. They had fields and outbuildings to play in, bikes to ride, pets to play with, a swimming pool to cool off in, a swing set and tree swing to enjoy and toys which allowed them to be creative and imaginative. They were loved, well-fed, ‘stuck’ with me all day (they were my career) and provided a life that was about a lot more than stuff.
What’s the point, you ask? The point is this: your children don’t need half the things you think they do. They don’t need video games and television to stimulate their minds. They need an empty box and an old blanket to do that. They don’t need expensive vacations in order to make family memories. They need board games and popcorn, fishing and camping trips, or games of hide-n-seek and lightening bugs in jars to do that. And finally, they don’t need big houses because houses don’t make homes—people do.

So in answer to the question I asked, “Should I be worried?”, the answer is NO! And you shouldn’t be either.
I can say this will complete confidence because Zach, Elizabeth, Olivia and Emma will readily admit to having great memories of growing up on a farm, in a little house, taking family camping trips and watching Darkwing Duck and reruns of 7th Heaven instead of whatever the newest shows were at the time.  Not only that, all four are happy, loving and intelligent. They are loving and supportive spouses and parents and have good people skills. What's more, they did it all without a ride down Space Mountain or having fifty-two channels to choose from. However did that happen!?

Momma D


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Once Upon a Time...

Last Sunday afternoon John and I returned our two oldest granddaughters, six year-old Mackenzie and three year-old Macy, to their parents after having them with us for a week. Minutes into the hour-long drive, Mackenzie asked, “Nanna will you tell us a story?”

She wasn’t asking for the traditional “Little Red Riding Hood” or “Princess and the Pea”. The kind of story Mackenzie and Macy were asking for was the kind only very few people besides me can tell them. They wanted a story--or several stories about our family. Some of these stories aren’t really stories at all—not by definition, anyway. But that doesn’t matter to Mack and Macy.

To them, the stories I tell them about their daddy coming face to face with an enormous black snake or going up against an angry llama so I wouldn’t get hurt are as exciting as it gets. They laugh when I tell them about Great-great chasing a baby pig around a parking lot or when I tell them about the time Aunt Olivia and I chased goats along the highway. They love to hear about all the pets their daddy and aunts had growing up and about the many ‘adventures’ we had living on the farm.
As I was telling them (for the ??? time) about our dog, CD—who Mack sometimes accidentally refers to as disc—J she asked me, “Nanna, the next time we come to your house, can we make a book to put the stories in?” My answer, in case you have any doubt, was YES!

And wouldn’t you know it…just minutes after Mack’s request, Miranda Lambert’s The House that Built Me started playing on the radio. Coincidence? Most likely, but nevertheless, it tugged at my heart; reminding me of how important it is to share my life’s story with my children and grandchildren.

I want to remind you to do the same, because when we share our life’s stories with our children and grandchildren, we:

·         Give them a sense of belonging
·         Give them a piece of history…their history
·         Build a sense of trust between us and them—when we share our life with them they are more apt to share their life with us
·         Allow them to have a more realistic view of who we are
·         Allow them to be able to laugh at and learn from the past as well as their own bobbles and mishaps
So go ahead—gather your children and even your grandchildren around you and start talking. It’s as simple as saying, “Once upon a time…”

Momma D 



Thursday, August 7, 2014

And then one day they decide it's okay to like and love one another

If you have more than one child, part of your day includes being a referee. Hey, it’s in the job description…or it would be…if there was a job description for being a parent.

Most of the time, you try not to laugh, roll your eyes, or just look at your kids and say, “Seriously? Are you really arguing about that?” Trust me—I’ve heard it all...
NOTE: for my kids’ sake I won’t insert names here, but they know…J

“His piece is bigger than mine.”
“I’m doing more work that you and it’s not fair.”

“You’re the baby so they always take your side.”
“She did it first.” “No, she did it first.” “I did not…you did.” “No, you did…”

“Quit touching my blanket.”
“Quit touching my seat belt.”

“She broke my doll’s leg on purpose.”
“You told me to lick my shoe.”

“It’s not fair he gets to stay up later.”

“He said The Aristocats was broken so I couldn’t watch it.”

“Get your stuff off my bed”

“Get your feet over on your side.”
"It’s your fault for telling me I had to ride my bike down the stairs.”

I would be lying if I said it was like this all the time, because it wasn’t. In fact, most of the time my kids played together really well and they always banded together when an ‘outsider’ did anything to upset them. But oh, there were times when I wondered if they would ever be able to just get along.
Can I get an AMEN? Are nodding your head and offering a silent prayer of thanks that you’re not alone in wondering if the squabbling will ever end? If so, then you are going to be delighted with a capital D to learn that the answer is yes, it does.
Elizabeth and Olivia depend on one another to care for each other’s children when John and I aren’t available. Tonight Zach’s girls are sleeping peacefully at Aunt Boo Boo, Uncle Craig and Laney’s house because they know they are loved and welcome there. When Macy was critically ill, Zach and Becca had the love and support of his sisters in whatever ways they could help. As a military wife and new mom, Emma knows she can count on her siblings to encourage her via SKYPE and phone calls.
In other words…my children don't just love one another. They actually like each other and want to be together. So don’t despair. If you feel you spend more time mediating, separating and investigating (to find out who is really telling the truth), hang in there because there IS light at the end of the tunnel—a light that will warm your heart as you watch the peace and quiet unfold.

Momma D