Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's A Walnut Worth

Being from Mid-Missouri, there are two things you know you can count on in the month of October-beautiful fall leaves and black walnuts dropping from their trees like it's nobody's business. And we were blessed (sarcasm implied) with an abundance of walnut trees in and around our yard.

We moved onto the farm in mid-October, but with everything else to do that year, the walnuts weren't high on our list of priorities. The next year, however, we decided helping to pick up walnuts would be a great way for the kids to learn a lesson in a) sticking with a job until it's done b) working together as a family and c) money earned is better than money given.

Seven year-old Zach and four year-old Elizabeth were eager and excited when John and I told them what we would be doing and that once the walnuts were gathered, we would sell them to the hullers; splitting the money earned between the two of them. Two year-old Olivia helped too (sort of), but we all know what the help of a two year-old is like and she had no concept of money, so...

If you've ever picked up walnuts, I don't have to tell you why the kids quickly tired of the job. It's messy work, a bit dangerous (have you ever been hit on the head by walnuts dropping to the ground?)and even kids get tired of repeatedly bending and standing. Not to mention the fact that just when you have them all gathered, a big gust of wind (or even a little one) comes along and knocks a bunch more to the ground; meaning you have to start all over again!

With a lot of coaxing and prodding, bending over, crawling on our knees and stained fingers (even through gloves), the ground and trees were finally walnut-free and the bed of our full-sized pickup was filled to over-flowing with feed sacks and buckets of walnuts. Zach was just sure he and his sister were going to be rich and started talking about what he might want to do with some of the money he earned.

Much to Zach and Elizabeth's grave disappointment, though, the entire truckload of walnuts brought a measly $13 after they were hulled. Hardly the windfall they were expecting, to say the least. Even John and I were somewhat surprised at how little they received for all their hard work and dedication.
After a little family meeting, it was decided the $13 would be just enough to fund a family pizza night; something the kids readily agreed to.

The original lessons we hoped to teach our children in the gathering of all those walnuts were taught, but they were somewhat overshadowed by another equally important lesson--the lesson that says life isn't always fair and we don't always get what we deserve, but in the end, the best reward is always that of being able to know you did you best no matter what.

For the next twenty years, every fall found us picking up walnuts. It had to be done. But never again did we take them to the hullers. No, we decided to save some gas and do our part for our forest friends and dump them into the woods for the squirrels and other critters to enjoy.

And just in case you are wondering, the kids loved just about everything about growing up on a farm, but they never did learn to love picking up walnuts-except for that one time, but more on that next week....

Momma D


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Moms Are People Too

Warning: This week’s post gives moms permission to need to be taken care of, too.
When Granny’s health started to fail she repeatedly said she was ready for God to take her home. But come each November, she would tell me she was praying God would wait ‘til spring to take her so I wouldn’t catch cold at the cemetery. And even in her last days—when she did not have a firm grasp on reality— she was watching out for me; telling me to be careful doing this or that and to telling me how proud she was of me for being me.

There hasn’t been a day go by in the past two years that I have not missed Granny. I miss her encouragement, her smile, her unconditional love, her presence and her selflessness. I miss the ways she was always looking out for me; making sure I knew she understood I still needed taking care of.

I will never forget how blessed I was to have that kind of support in my life, but this week I was especially reminded of how important it is for moms to have the ‘luxury’ of knowing it is okay to take care of themselves and to know other moms are on their side.
I was reminded of this when a friend of mine, who is a young stay at home mom of two precious children, was given a very special gift from her husband; a dream vacation with her best girlfriend. Yes, a few days away from all the responsibilities she dearly loves, but that don’t have to be her sole source of oxygen.

Little did they know, however, that this gift would illicit comments of a negative and accusatory nature. These comments suggested this sweet wife and momma was neglecting her family, that she was being selfish and that she didn’t have the right to take such a trip.

Now I’m not sure why anyone felt the need to do this, but what I do know is that this young family is on the right track. They understand that a momma needs to be looked after, too. They understand a momma (especially a stay at home momma) needs a break now and then to remind herself that a significant part of her value as a mom comes from the fact that she has knowledge, passion and talent in other areas besides those that come with being a mom.
So here are my challenges to each of you this week…
1.      Tell the young moms in your life how much you respect and admire them. Compliment them on their accomplishments as a wife and mom AND on their God-given talents that make them the wonderful, amazing women they are.
2.      Moms, don’t be afraid to take a little time for yourself now and then to recharge your heart and mind and to remind yourself that while being a parent is THE most important job you will ever do, it isn’t the only thing you are capable of.
So thanks, Granny, for never letting me forget and I hope and pray I will do the same for all the young moms in my life.

Momma D

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Fish, Two Fish says I'm Just so Mad that Olivia is in London to Visit the Queen while the Berenstein Bears have a House in Bear Country

For Zach it was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and his Children’s Bible (particularly Daniel and the Lion’s Den and Balaam’s Donkey).

Elizabeth’s favorites were Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever and Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books.

Olivia never tired of A House is a House for Me and Mother Goose Rhymes—especially “Pussycat, Pussycat…” because I always exchanged the word ‘pussycat’ for Olivia.

Reading Hattie and the Fox was a multiple-times-a-day event for Emma, along with any and all of the Berenstein Bears books.

The repetition of reading the same books over and over and over and over and (take a deep breath) over again was not always my favorite thing to do, but I did it because it made them happy and I wanted my kids to be happy. But more than that, the repetition of hearing their favorite stories multiple times a day gave them a sense of security and belonging.

That’s what repetition does, you know. It gives children a sense of belonging and assurance that things are just as they should be. And that is why, as a parent, you need to make sure you consistently and repeatedly:

Tell your children you love them-- every single day.
Make sure your actions are affirmations of what you say –kids are smart. They know the difference between empty words and words giving voice to acts of love.
Keep the promises you make – if you can’t keep them don’t make them.
Pick them up on time –be where you say you will be when you say you will be there. Children are frightened and humiliated when you are late or miss something altogether.
Practice what you preach –Again, kids are better at spotting a phony than they are at addition or subtraction. They need to see you consistently and repeatedly being the person you tell them to be.

I’ve not been a perfect parent, but I’ve been consistent and repetitive in loving, protecting, nurturing, teaching and caring for my children. I hope and pray you will do the same.

Momma D

PS I can still quote most of these books by heart and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Perfectly Good Imperfect Life

As I write this, I am watching “Mom’s Night Out”. If you have seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about when I say God love ‘em. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should.
As I watched I was reminded of a time that seems like only yesterday when Granny was always putting Olivia’s shoes on the right feet when we got to church because I couldn’t seem to get it done. But hey, we were always on time and all four kids were always dressed appropriately.

As I watched I was reminded of the time I asked five year-old Zach to check to see if baby Olivia was still sleeping and he returned with her in his arms…after changing a cloth diaper because she was wet. He was smiling from ear to ear and said, “Don’t worry, mommy, I did not poke her.”
As I watched I was reminded of the gazillion toys I picked up off the floor, the spelling lists practiced, the stories read, the school parties and field trips chaperoned, the Halloween costumes made, the Easter eggs dyed and hidden  and all the other things moms do.

As I watched I was reminded of the hand-made cards, the fact that I still use the pin cushion Elizabeth made from fabric in Granny’s scrap basket, the spaghetti dinner the girls made and served to John and I one year on our anniversary, the picture and note of apology hand-crafted by Emma when she accidently let the llama out of the field Yes, we had a llama. Doesn’t everyone?
Our refrigerator was always covered in drawings and notes from school. There was always at least six pair of shoes at the back door. I rarely went to ladies meeting at church without the kids in tow (John worked a lot of night shifts) and for several years our tax returns were our yearly contributions to the orthodontist.

Our life was loud and busy. The house was always clean, but often messy. I wore out three washing machines in twenty years and we didn’t bother keeping the wood floors waxed because they were needed for tap dancing and gymnastic stunts. And I wouldn’t change a thing!
Being a parent is the most important job in the world. No exceptions. As a parent you are giving the world an extension of yourself. To be a parent is to shape the future of society. No small task, I think you’ll agree. So the next time you find yourself at your wit’s end; craving five minutes of peace, questioning your sanity, wondering if it will ever be your ‘turn’ to do something for yourself or feeling like a complete failure, stop. Stop and realize that the hand the rocks the cradle really does rule the world.

Momma D



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why Does Granny Have a Screensaver?

Emma was in kindergarten the year Granny had surgery to replace one of her heart valves. I understand these two events wouldn’t normally be linked together, but in this case, I think you will agree with me that they do…

The evening before the surgery was spent with Granny in her hospital room talking, reassuring one another and even cracking several jokes about the fact that the valve she would receive would either be courtesy of a cow or a pig.
I noticed Emma didn’t say much, but didn’t think too much about it because a) I knew she was worried about her Granny and b) Emma wasn’t a chatty little girl. She was my quiet, contemplative one.
Of course she was quiet. There was a lot to take in and try to process. So I made a mental note to myself to give her a little extra reassurance before tucking her into bed that night. But as it turns out, Emma was making sense of things the way kids growing up in this day and age would.
As we were walking to our car after telling Granny goodnight, Emma looked up at me and asked, “Momma, why does Granny have a screensaver?”
“What,” I asked?

“Why does Granny have a screensaver?”

It took me a few seconds to figure out what she was talking about, but then it hit me—Emma thought Granny’s heart monitor was a computer! Thankfully I was smart enough not to laugh at her. Instead I agreed that the monitor looked like a computer (as she understood a computer to be), but that it was really a machine that was watching over Granny’s heart.
We’ve laughed about this several times since then, but today I want to use this little incident to remind you to not deprive your children of the fun that can be had and the simple joys of life not associated with a computer in any of its various forms. Or as Miranda Lambert sings…

Hey, whatever happened to waitin' your turn
Doing it all by hand,
'Cause when everything is handed to you
It's only worth as much as the time put in
It all just seemed so good the way we had it
Back before everything became automatic.
So here is my challenge to you:
Don’t allow phones or other devices at the dinner table

Make it clear that texting one another while in the same house is never acceptable

Write messages to your children using paper and pen

Help your little ones write cards and letters to their grandparents and encourage your older children to do the same

Play BOARD or CARD games as a family—not video games

Cook together…from scratch.
Have a sixties or seventies weekend at home--doing things the way they did back then
Spend one Saturday a month working together or learning a skill that requires you to do things by hand (woodworking, gardening, embroidery, crochet, baking, etc.)

While each generation makes both positive and negative contributions to society, we’ve allowed most of the positives from the past to become nearly extinct. Let’s bring a few of them back, okay, because children need to know that not everything revolves around hard drives, apps and the cloud.


Momma D