Archives for posts with tag: children

There’s a plate that hangs in my kitchen that I have there for the sentiment…


I DO love the fireworks of summer. They bring back summers past when I watched fireworks displays with my family growing up, shooting off sparklers and bottle rockets, back when we shot off lots of dangerous, exploding things, watching big displays from blankets in the dark.

When I lift my face to the sky to wait for each burst of color and light, I go back to the days of my own young family, watching them with their own sparklers, running and playing as they waited for dark and the sounds of the fireworks in the night.

Wendy, Robin - Kerry in back

Our driveway was stained with the marks of snakes and exploding toys and sparklers laid down to burn out. There was such a thrill in watching each piece being lit, anticipating what burst or fizzle it would bring.

It’s all magic. I love the sounds of patriotic music playing at the ballpark as they launch their display. I love the family activities leading up to the fireworks show, all the noise of excited children. I love watching family and friends, dressed in red, white and blue, gather on their blankets or chairs to wait together, all the craziness of anticipation quieting down for the first big boom. I remember the days when I leaned against my husband to watch the sky or cuddled a child and smiled at the wonder in his or her face, lighted by the bursts before us, the lights sparkling in bright eyes. I love the parents carrying sleepy children to cars and home to cozy beds at the end of the evening.

The fireworks of summer burn memories into our hearts that are brought forward with each spark the next year.

Be safe and enjoy your own fireworks of summer!

In the aftermath of a fun 50th high school reunion weekend, there are lessons to be learned and shared for those who love reunions, those dread them, those who never go to them. The 50th is a unique milestone, one that always seemed, to me at least, an event way off in the distance. Now it’s behind us and I think we all were surprised and warmed by the reality of it. Here are my top 10 thoughts:

One. There is a little sharing of what’s going on with the kids, sharing pictures of the grandkids, but it’s not the main thing people talked about. In fact, it was the least thing talked about. Sorry kids. We are much more interesting people as ourselves than you think. Our peers know this.

Two. There were people who attended that I was afraid would feel alone in the crowd, didn’t know if their friends were attending because I didn’t know them that well in high school. I never saw anyone who stayed alone. Maybe it’s because we all look so different now, but classmates introduced themselves to everyone. They were genuinely interested in meeting them and hearing their stories.

Three. The conversations were on a deeper level. In bars and restaurants after the events, at breakfast, lunch, casual conversations, people were discussing the important things in life. Nothing was judgmental, just sharing stories and understanding what life throws at you. Everyone has a story, an interesting one.

Four. There was no division of groups, cliques. Sure, people sat with their closest friends when they could, but people rarely sat still. Everyone was looking for someone they wanted to see or meet. Everybody was interested in the stories of their classmates.

Five. Nobody cared how you looked then or now. Of course it was sometimes amusing or sad or surprising to see how different or how much the same some were, but everybody understands that it’s a combination of life style, genetics and pure luck that we are here at all. There were a lot of classmates with minor to major disabilities, but that was part of their story. We were celebrating that we’re still standing, we’re still here.

Six. You never know what life is going to bring. At the 50th, many were retiring and diving into new interests or careers. We had lots of authors, photographers, travelers in this new stage. People were moving after lifetimes in one place, leaving their homes and friends, to start new adventures closer to their children and grandchildren or just moving to new places. It’s an ever changing time of life being 67-68 years old.

Seven. People commented that they made new friends. Not because they didn’t like the other in high school, but because they didn’t know them then. They met and found common interests and a common past.

Eight. There are a lot of things buried in our memories that just need a trigger to recover. Our 92 year old Latin teacher came from 4 hours away to inspire us once again. She called all her former students to the front with her and then told us to sing. After 50 or more years, the words, most of them, to Gaudeamus Igitur came from our mouths like we sang them yesterday. Who knew that was in there? In fact, I looked it up today and am really touched by what the song says.

Gaudeamus igitur
Iuvenes dum sumus.
Post iucundam iuventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus.

The translation is:
Let us rejoice, therefore,
While we are young.
After a pleasant youth
After a troubling old age
The earth will have us.

What a wise teacher and what a gift to us to sing something we learned in our youth that means so much more today.

Also, when the band played the songs of our youth, we knew all the words and our bodies moved the same to the music. Talk about muscle memory! We can still party like it’s 1963. Maybe not as long, but the spirit of our teen years lives on.

Nine. Hugs are universally healing. A weekend of hugs and kisses from those who shared your youth does wonders for your health and attitude. There were lots and lots of hugs.

Ten. A classmate wrote afterwards that he realized how much we all need “love, belonging and connection.” That was what it was all about in the end.

The nicest thing is that we are so connected in this place in time when there is no excuse to lose the glow of the weekend. Our class has a website, a Facebook page, and addresses. There were more people adding contacts to their phones, sharing pictures, writing down information than ever before. Those connections mean even more now because we understand that our time is precious and we want to enrich it with the best people we have encountered in our lives.

If you never attend a reunion, I’m sorry. They only get better with time…

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I played with dolls a lot when I was little, was the oldest child, did a little bit of babysitting…but wasn’t thinking about being a mother at all. I married when I was barely 21 and wanted to live happily ever after. The craziness of birth control in the 1960s was supposed to be sure fire and make it so I didn’t have to think about it. I went on birth control pills, like we all did, and then found that the high strength of the ones they used then was making me gain weight and have migraines. Off of those and on to something else…and I got pregnant on that one. Hmmm. I’d only been married nine months and we’d even gotten a dog to keep us from thinking about having kids. Farthest thing from our minds.

When it was obvious that something was up, I went to the doctor – no home pregnancy tests in those days. They called to tell me that the test was positive. Positive what? Positive I am or positive I’m not? That’s how little I knew. My husband was so excited that he called all our friends and we had a party. They did…I remember sitting there by myself wondering what in the world this was going to be like…don’t remember if I was scared or it was just such an unknown.

Being in college, I immediately started reading what the doctor gave me and anything else I could find. My mother got me the newest edition of Better Homes & Gardens Baby Book, the instruction book she had used when she had me. How many times did I read that? I was in graduate school, so it was probably like studying for a final that was coming up months away, a long semester.


I threw up a lot, slept a lot, read the book to make sure I was doing it right. My mother took me shopping for maternity clothes, pretty hideous in those days, although I did have some cute mini-length dresses. My mother-in-law made me a couple of tops. I ate lots of ice cream – good excuse. I’d quit teaching, graduate assistant in Freshman comp, since the baby was due the first week in June, so I read a lot. The only book I can remember is Rosemary’s Baby, which was probably not the best choice. But humorous. My husband and I always joked about the chocolate mousse. You have to read the book or see the movie…

So, I lazied along, getting bigger, looking more and more like a knocked-up teenager, waddling along. We felt the baby kick, I began to feel like a turtle on its back when I laid down. I read the name books over and over, searching for the absolutely perfect name. I didn’t want something that could be a nickname, so I went with a cute name with a more traditional middle name, picking a name from one of my favorite childhood stories if this was a girl, something more Scottish sounding if it was a boy. No tests to see if it was a boy or a girl…waiting to see.

May 27 came along and I felt funny. My husband went to his part-time job at the pizza place, classes may have been over for the semester. I kept thinking this was really bad gas, getting up and going back to bed. Afternoon, he was home and we decided to call the doctor. They said to come over and checked me, saying I needed to get to the hospital, I was halfway there. See? What did I know? I said goodbye to my husband as he headed for the father’s waiting room. No fathers in the delivery back then. They prepped me and I waited. It never got too bad, or the drugs they gave me made me forget. I had a spinal, and then she was born…my first child, my first daughter. When I woke up, my husband was there, so excited. He could only see her through the nursery window and I only saw her at appointed times. When they brought her to me, I couldn’t believe it. She was so beautiful…love at first sight. I fell back asleep and woke to find my father sitting beside me. I asked him what he was doing…he’d driven to Stillwater from Tulsa and couldn’t see the baby this late. He had come to see his baby. On the way, he’d stopped and run into my father-in-law returning from seeing his baby, my husband. Our mothers thought it was the funniest thing…very sweet.

In a couple of days, we took her home. No car seat, no instructions. Off on our own. We took her to her room and put her in her crib, held our dog up to see who this newest member of the family was, and just stared. She stared back solemnly. She knew! She knew she had been born to the most ignorant parents in the world and there was no way they could get this right. Anyone who knows her today understands the look. We burst out laughing. Thank God for our senses of humor. And I marveled every day at this little perfect miracle of ours. Such a love as I had never known…

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My mother came over for a couple of days. I think she slept in a chair in our duplex or on the sofa. She was a big help…the two of us opened the baby book, propped it up on the changing table and followed the photo directions for changing, bathing, feeding. Awesome. We laughed a lot. After a couple of days, she started going home each night, 1 1/2 hour drive, and coming back in the morning. She wanted to be with my father and she didn’t want to intrude on my husband and me. Incredible mother! I learned to use the newest thing, Playtex bottles with disposable liners, boiling the nipples and lids every day as I made a refrigerator full of formula. Breast feeding was just beginning to make a comeback, which is an odd thing to say. Only a few hippies were doing it then. Regardless, the baby thrived, never had allergies, and grew very fast. We had a diaper service since we didn’t have a washer and dryer, used the new disposable diapers for trips. Very few gadgets actually. We didn’t need them.

We started taking her home to Tulsa in a couple of weeks and my mother would dress her up and we would drive around to show her off to her friends. I was one of my first friends to have a baby. Actually, at 22, I had been one of the oldest mothers in the hospital. I would have been a younger mother today.

It doesn’t suck to have the first grandchild on both sides. We got lots of help and lots of attention. Thank goodness! We didn’t need it later. The months went on and we got better and better at it. When she was about four months old, I got her to smile at us. We were driving and she was in her carrier in my lap…no car seats or seat belts, for this matter. I was reciting nursery rhymes to her while we ran errands and was saying, “Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?”…and she smiled. Miracle of all miracles. We were passing her test and making it as parents. She was beginning to think we might pull this off!

After she was born, I had an IUD inserted, thinking there were no hormones associated with this. A little over a year later, I felt like I had so much love overflowing from this baby that we should have another one. The IUD was removed and I got pregnant almost immediately. Getting pregnant was never my problem…wish I could have shared that ability with those who need it. Another girl. The pregnancy was very different but having another baby was a piece of cake. Two adorable little girls we loved with all our hearts.

A couple of years passed and we decided to go for another one…maybe we’d have a boy this time, not that it mattered. Pregnant quickly again. Easy pregnancy, third girl was born. We were done…three beautiful little girls. Motherhood was the best thing I’d ever done. My husband was a great father, we were enjoying it all, having so much fun watching them grow up. I loved it all, so surprised that this was where I found my joy.

A couple of years later, I was pregnant again…unplanned. Who plans their second and third children and has four? It was almost scandalous at the time. People were into zero population growth, only have two children to replace themselves, and here we were having four. Oh well. We made sure this would be our last…good grief…and waited for the next one. Amazingly, the last one was a boy! More joy for all of us, although four girls would have been precious. The story went on and on.

Some women are meant to be mothers, some aren’t, and some of us just get thrown into it like jumping off a cliff. It was the biggest blind leap I ever took. It’s been educational, thrilling, scary, emotional, frustrating, exasperating, fun, silly, sweet and loving. I wouldn’t ever trade this experience. My grandchildren are a joy, but it is even better to watch my children as parents, having the same journey I had. Forty-five years ago today, I stepped off the cliff and became a mother. It’s filled my heart ever since!

The only things that prepared me for being a Mommy were my own terrific mother and grandmothers and my ability to read anything I could on the subject. And my friends as we shared parenthood and its adventures together. I was one of the first of my friends to have a baby and I was still in college, graduate school, so I hadn’t been around any babies. I was the oldest child in my family, but we were close enough together that I didn’t remember anything about taking care of them.

I was a novice with a Better Homes & Gardens Baby Book propped open on the changing table to show me what to do. I was a good student, so I guess I approached it that same way. It was funny at the time and funnier now that I’ve had four children and eight grandchildren. That’s the first thing you’d better learn – to laugh at yourself. My husband and I often would look at each other and burst out laughing at the absurdity of it all.

A fantasy book I wanted to write while in the thick of motherhood was going to start “I had no idea how much shit I was going to handle in my lifetime…” I meant that literally and figuratively. To be more polite, let’s change that to messes of one sort or another. There’s the messy bottoms, faces, and vomit at the bottom of that mess pile. We can throw in the pet messes along with that – dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, chameleons. What else did we have? Then there are just messes that kids make. How many Legos have I picked up in my lifetime? Star Wars characters with their itsy bitsy guns? Blocks, books, balls of all kinds, shoes, socks…it goes on and on. Some of my kids were neat and some were messy. A couple lived their teen years in rooms so bad that we just closed the door – I’d learned not to pick up for them by then. There were cooking messes…

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and dirt and mud, especially when I had a soccer goalie daughter who didn’t mind wallowing in the muddy goal. I never seemed to have towels in the car to get her home.

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And then there were life messes to clean up. Hurt feelings, anger, bad tempers, broken hearts, disappointments. You grit your teeth and pick up the physical messes. You gird your heart to take care of life’s breaks and falls.

Being a Mommy was the best thing that ever happened to me…still. I’ve been through the worst of it and the best of it and would do it all again. That would be in another lifetime…I’ve earned my stripes in this one. My son called me Mom and my girls call me Mommy. My daughter-in-law calls me Karen. They’ve grown up to be wonderful adults and parents and I’m so proud of them and for them.

Being a Mommy is a great class that never stops teaching you about yourself. You learn how far you can be pushed before you break into anger, laughter, or tears. You laugh a lot at the adorable things your children and grandchildren do and say and at yourself along the way. You are angry at yourself, at them, at others when they do the wrong thing or someone wrongs them. You learn that life isn’t fair, your children aren’t perfect, you can take on way more than you think. You learn that you cry for them, with them, and when they accomplish something big or small. I’ve cried through some pretty silly school programs. It could be that the most uncontrollable tears of all are the ones of pride.

Most of all you learn that your heart is way bigger than before they came into it. You learn that it swells with pride and a love you never understood before. You learn that it can be broken and that they help it heal.

This Mother’s Day weekend, I rejoice in the lessons this Mommy has learned. I remember with gratitude the love that I was surrounded with from my own Mommy and grandmothers and aunts. I send much love to the precious Mommies in my family who make me so proud of them and their children.

And love to all Mommies out there. Have fun, be proud of what you do and laugh at yourself with joy! Happy Mother’s Day!

When I was growing up, my parents subscribed to lots of magazines, and I read all of them through and through. Many are gone today, but there was Look, Life, Readers Digest, Ladies Home Journal, Newsweek, McCall’s, men’s magazines, women’s magazines, kids’s magazines like Highlights for Children. One of our favorites was the Saturday Evening Post. The Norman Rockwell covers were something to look forward to, knowing they would be something we studied carefully for all the clever details. We were used to his work as an illustrator for ads for Colgate, Kellogg’s, and other companies, instantly recognizable.

In 1999, my son and I took a day trip to Mark Twain’s hometown, Hannibal, Missouri. We were fortunate to arrive during an exhibition of the original paintings for Norman Rockwell’s illustrations for Tom Sawyer. I remember they were large paintings and so much richer than the flat pictures we were so familiar with in our day to day life. They were amazing works and their beauty stayed with me.


Yesterday, I went to see the Norman Rockwell exhibition of over 50 of his paintings and 300+ of his Saturday Evening Post covers at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR. I’ve not a professional art critic, even though I studied art history in college and worked in an art museum for over 7 years, but I do know that Norman Rockwell is a great artist. As is typical for artists in their own era, his work was scoffed at in art circles as too sentimental, too idealistic, although I don’t see what’s wrong with that myself. There are many great artists who included humor and sentiment in their works throughout the ages. An artist in his own time, alas…

The gallery was packed yesterday, mostly with older people (and I have to include myself in that group, shockingly), but it was a Monday. I watched their faces as they listened to the audio guides, studied the paintings. There were tender smiles, chuckles, pensive thinking. The main thing is that everyone was relating to the paintings. What more can art do?

Here are some of my favorites and the reasons why…

This one just made me laugh. It was Rockwell’s take on the recent idea that small towns should use speed traps to raise revenue…


This one also made me laugh and smile and study the details…the grandmother in the back who never changed expressions, the tired parents, the kids in various stages. Who can’t make up a story with these images?


Saying Grace is so sweet that you are silent with them, you want to bow your head. Then you see the details in the curtains, the clothing, the grandmother’s rear sticking through the chair, the grandfather’s cane on the floor. Another story for us to all fill in the extra lines…


My love of Santa is well known and there were some lovely Santa portraits along with all the Christmas covers of the Post. This is still one of my favorites for all of us who keep believing even knowing the evidence…


A Day in the Life of a Girl is so fun, so sweet, with elements that all females will remember. The boy version wasn’t on display, but it’s just as great…


Rosie the Riveter is part of the museum’s collection and a whimsical look at the women who worked at home during World War II. This was a bonus after the travelling exhibition.


Besides the fun, sweet portraits of America as we were at times and would always like to be, there were powerful portraits of Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, and two of Rockwell’s most important works during the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibition had preliminary drawings and different drafts of his painting of 3 Civil Rights workers for a powerful, haunting, not-so-pretty picture of a moment in America’s history…


The iconic The Problem We All Live With was so beautiful in person. It was so familiar, such a powerful statement. But, the thing that struck me so strongly was the beauty of the painting, of the work itself. Norman Rockwell was a fabulous painter. His work is so real, so detailed, so skilled. The concrete wall behind the girl felt like real concrete, making me want to reach out and touch it. I didn’t of course – I know my museum manners. But, I’ve been up close to many of the world’s great paintings and these were as good as any I’ve seen. That’s to my untrained eye, but I do know what I’m looking at and it’s honest, thought-provoking, greatness.


Rockwell’s self portrait is so famous that you almost go by it, having seen it reproduced so many times. Looking at the details, I was taken with not only the cleverness, the originality, the self-deprecating humor, but also the skill. On his easel, he has small paintings, homages to some of the greatest painters, all painted beautifully. That’s not easy to do either.


I recommend that you find the closest place to see this exhibition or go to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts to see more. It’s such a treat for those of us who grew up loving him and for those just discovering his incredible legacy. I think that future critics will be kinder and hopefully, recognize his important place in art, American history, and the American heart. I understand his personal life was not always as rosy as his portraits of life, but that’s what being a human is all about. We thank him for the vision of our country that he shared to make us think, feel, smile and laugh, remember, care. There should be more geniuses with a sense of humor, shouldn’t there?…

This week, I met a lady from a small town near here. We were in a cheerleading shop (I help out there) and she started talking about her daughters competing in dance and cheer and that they had just come from a national competition. She said they got cheated out of their win, which made me inwardly roll my eyes and think that I had a “cheerleading mom” on my hands. I’ve worked with skating moms, soccer moms, acting moms and all kinds of moms who are living through their children, but that’s another story.

This mom’s daughter was competing in an 11 and under group at a competition in Kansas City. The group that beat them had some girls that she said looked older than 11, but the coach didn’t want to put up the $200 it would cost them to challenge them. Later that evening, the coach was in a restaurant, seated next to some of the girls on the winning team. They started talking and the coach asked one of the girls how old she was. The girl, not realizing she was talking to a coach, said she was 17, but her coach said to say she was 11. There were other 17 years olds on the team, too. Needless to say, the other team has gone back and challenged the win. The winning team is now bragging on their website that they are national champions, which further aggravates the other team, especially the parents who spent a lot of time and money to get the girls to that competition.

I can’t tell you how appalling this is to me as a grandmother, mother, person. What kind of parents let their kids work with a coach who teaches the kids to cheat? What kind of coach wants to win so badly that she teaches kids to lie? What 17 year old would feel comfortable competing against 11 year olds? I know I would have known that was wrong when I was 17. I was in college when I was 17 and 11 year olds were in grade school, for heaven’s sake. The women of my generation fought so hard for girls to be able to compete in sports for this? Not that it doesn’t happen in all kids’ sports, I’m sure.

My family is very competitive, but we try to play fair and teach our children right from wrong. I don’t want to sermonize here because the story speaks for itself, but come on, parents! Teach your children to do the right thing. How else are we going to make this a better world for the next generations?

This photo I found to illustrate this is perfect. Note the name of the team – Madness. My state of mind over this…

Annual Maryland Cheerleading and Dance Championship

A friend asked me to write a blog about Annette Funicello, who died earlier this week. We met her on TV when The Mickey Mouse Club first aired in 1955. It’s hard to describe to generations who always have had TV and have multiple 24/7 channels what this show meant to us back then. It was in black and white, or gray, as my kids used to call it, because we didn’t have color TV yet. Amazing, isn’t it?

The Mickey Mouse Club was on every day after school and we waited eagerly for it every day, like clockwork. If you missed it, you missed it. No videotape or DVR. Probably not even reruns. This was a variety show for kids in the days of Ed Sullivan, Milton Berle and numerous adult or family variety shows. This one was just for us. We also weren’t as sophisticated as 9 & 10 year olds today. Unless you had older brothers or sisters, you weren’t really exposed to the teenage things. By some odd coincidence, almost all of my friends were the oldest in their family, so we were pretty much kids. We didn’t hit puberty as early, we didn’t dress like small adults, and we didn’t talk about adult things very much.

The Mickey Mouse Club was part of the magic that was Walt Disney. It was a world of imagination and fantasy and innocence that we loved. I found this photo online of the Mouseketeers from those days.


It seems so silly today that these kids clowned around with mouse ears, singing and dancing for us. Annette was adorable, a sweetheart both inside and out. You always knew that. She stood out from the rest from the beginning.

One of my favorite things on the show were the serials, continuing “dramas” featuring Annette, Tim Considine, Tommy Kirk. We couldn’t miss an episode of “Spin & Marty,” “The Hardy Boys,” “Corky and White Shadow.” The serials were fun, starring kids our age or a little older. They were the perfect way for us to have star crushes. Who didn’t think Tim Considine was just way too cute and Tommy Kirk was so funny and fun. And then there was Annette. I’m sure there were boys our age who were still watching The Mickey Mouse Club long after they had outgrown it just to see her. This Mousketeer was blossoming and it wasn’t hard to see what the boys were watching. She graduated on to her Beach Party movies, where that fully developed body and her singing were on full display. But, before that, she was the Mouseketeer all the boys loved and all the girls wanted to be. Always sweet.

We all outgrew the show and moved on to the boys and girls in our real lives, but those days with The Mickey Mouse Club are special memories. Who doesn’t hear that music start up and begin to sing…M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. We really did have sweet childhoods way back then.

Here’s some Spin & Marty for you…

My youngest daughter turns 40 today. I’m looking at pictures from her life and wondering how does time pass so quickly. She was just born, wasn’t she? And then all those years become a reality and you see that little baby transform into a beautiful woman, a wife and mother. That’s fun to see and I’m grateful to have watched it, been a part of it. My son, my youngest, will be forever 35, so I’m well aware of how lucky I am, we all are, to get to watch our children grow up and develop their own personalities and talents and see where life is taking them and I’m grateful for every minute of the time we have together. no matter how long each life will be.

When your children are 40, your role is different – thank goodness! I’m a part of their lives, but they are their lives and I’m privileged to enjoy as much as I can with them. I’ve always tried not to offer unwanted advice or be critical and to give them their space away from me. I hope I’ve succeeded in that most of the time. I’m lucky they all live close by so I don’t have to travel or Skype and I can see my grandchildren. I’m forever grateful for that.

Hopefully, your children become your friends at this stage in all of your lives. It’s different from friends your own age, who share memories of growing up together or being together in a certain time. Your children are always your children and you always worry about them and take pride in their accomplishments and hurt for them and with them. But, now, you can enjoy them as adults. One of my favorite things is to listen to them together or with their friends. I don’t have to talk to enjoy the joy of their lives and see how they interact and what makes them laugh. Those things make me happy. Seeing them happy in their marriages, with their children, with their friends, in their work and play warms a special place in my heart. Hearing them laughing together, remembering funny family memories, is the best. When I get to be a part of that, it’s just all the better.

I’m choosing to ignore the obvious thing about having your children turn 40. What does that make me? Inside, I don’t think I feel 40, but I’m constantly reminded that I’m much more than that. Having children who are 40 is a pretty blatant reminder for all the world to see. The good thing is that there are days I feel 16 and days I feel as old as I am and I try to remember how I felt at each age along the way so I can pull it out and weigh it against how I feel today. I can’t go back because then I wouldn’t have all the memories I’ve had since I was 40, all the people I’ve met, all the fun things I’ve done. Even the heartaches are worth the journey.

Having children who are 40 is a milestone for all of us. We’ve made it this far together, we’re grateful for all we’ve learned and shared together, and our lives go on for as long as we have. 40 is a big birthday for each of us – no denying that you’re all grown up now. When you’re the parent of 40 year olds, it’s not such a bad reminder that life rushes by more quickly than we can imagine. No time for pettiness, selfishness, and all the negatives that waste our time and energies. It’s a time to celebrate all we have, all we’ve been and all that lies ahead. Life is all we’ve got and each year is a treasure to spend wisely, surrounded by those you love.


Today I was in the check-out line at Sam’s Club and watched a man holding a little boy talking to the elderly woman behind him.  Then he had the boy give her a high five, which was cute.  It also made me think of something my mother said when high fives were first getting started, “what will happen to shaking hands?”  She wasn’t against high fives, but she saw the writing on the wall as to the next generation of greetings.  Little boys were taught to politely shake hands when they met adults in the old days.

Then, the line being slow, my mind went to her lessons in manners.  And the music started in my head.  She had a record, a 78 rpm, called Manners Can Be Fun by Frank Luther.  I looked him up and he was a country singer, songwriter, etc, who gained a lot of fame with children’s records way back when.  The record was based on the book of the same title by Munro Leaf.  Anyway, this was one of my mother’s favorites and we sang it all the time.  She laughingly swore later that she played it for us in our sleep.  And I can still remember all the words the minute the music starts.

When I had my own children, I found the new version on 33 rpm, and played it for them.  I hope it sank in – I’m sure it did.  They all have good manners, although I’m not sure the parts about picking up their rooms was so effective as they grew up.


One of the most fun things I ever did for my mother was to dig out the record and send it off to have it made into a CD.  It must have been the original 78 because i couldn’t find anyone in town to do it at the time.  The man in California who transferred it for me was so entranced that he wrote me that he had made a copy for his kids.  I gave copies to my children for my grandchildren in hopes…

I played it for my 3 year old granddaughter in the car the other day and she seemed fascinated as I watched her in the rearview mirror.  Maybe it was the fact that I was singing along and knew all the words.  If I ever want her to know her great-grandmother, this is the perfect way to start.

Hope this link works so you can enjoy it, too.

Thank you!

01 Manners Can Be Fun