Give me Liberty, or Give Me More Candy Crush Tokens???

“Apathy is a sort of living oblivion.”- Horace Greely

Let’s face it. Anymore it appears that what was right is wrong and what was wrong is not only right, but even celebrated and revered. Our country is being led down a path of destruction and her citizens appear to continue with their fascination with Candy Crush (I admit I love Candy Mania), social media, or the latest post-apocalyptic drama that seems eerily possible in our current turbulent global affairs.

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Where is the fight in people? Those whose beliefs align with the Tea Party are melting the U.S. Capitol switchboard and getting the same interns that take your name and zip code with your complaint. We write impassioned letters to our state and U.S. Congressmen and get the appeasing form letter telling us that they are understanding our grievances. It is nothing more than wonk speech. They are clearly not hearing the message.

What does this have to do with the musings of motherhood? Well, I often try to instill trust in my daughter that her mom and dad truly have her best interest in mind. Until she is legally an adult and paying for her bills, we are the custodians of her innocence, guidance, etc. As a representative Republic, are those representatives that we elect truly representing the values that we hold dear? Do they truly have our best interests in mind? Do they live by the same standards that we are made to live by? The utter and casual recklessness of the power-hungry, career politicians in Washington D.C. has resulted in the futures of our children and grandchildren being swept down the proverbial drain.

Recently, my husband and I attended a party, and I got into a conversation with a dear friend regarding the state of our Union. Politically, we are on the same page, and I sometimes forward certain emails to him that I feel worthy of his time. From our conversation, I concluded that he is a relatively big contributor to the Republican Party. He told me that he believed in my message, but that he felt I was a little too passionate in my delivery. However, he suggested that I get together with another politically passionate acquaintance of his to come up with a list of six bullet points that he would present to the person he supports to ask for answers to legislation and policies that do not align with Conservative principles. After all, if the Republican Party would like to have its Conservative constituency showing up at election time, the Conservative base, that has otherwise been relatively absent in recent elections, would like some of these issues addressed.

My friend said that the Republican Leadership has no power; its hands are tied. That is incorrect. The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power of the purse and they are not using it to their advantage. Pressured by being portrayed by the bully pulpit of the President and the Main Stream Media as haters of all sorts, they feel compelled to do something, but sometimes doing nothing or keeping a President from doing something is the best plan. He said, “The Republican Party has to compromise.” Since when has the Democratic Party compromised? If a Republican compromises, the Democrats just move the goal post further Left. Again, sometimes the best strategy is to do NOTHING! It isn’t to give in to the opposition so they can further their agenda.

Admittedly, I can be a little too assertive in my opinions which are supported with dates, events, legislation, etc. I feel the average oblivious American needs to be brought up to speed whether they want to or not. I optimistically, and naively hope that it might spark an interest for them to become more engaged themselves.

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I pondered what my friend said about my brazen delivery and thought to myself, “Were the Founding Fathers dispassionate about this country and her freedoms?” The final sentence of the Declaration of Independence is an oath among the Signers to “mutually pledge our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.” Is the tone of those words passive? ¬†Then, of course, there is Patrick Henry’s famous quote, “Give me Liberty, or give me death!” Do you think it was accompanied with a yawn or a blank expression? I think not on both accounts. The Signers of the Declaration of Independence lost everything including their families. The turnout at the Primaries has spoken to an apathy that has been like a cancer spreading throughout our land.

I have recently read a Bible verse that has truly resonated with me regarding the apathy in our country as our citizens passively stand by watching the decay of the greatest nation mankind has ever known. Interestingly enough, it is in the book of Revelation:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich: I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:15-17 (NIV)

At the end of the day, without the freedoms that the Constitution guarantees and our elected have sworn to uphold against enemies of the United States of America, both foreign and domestic, will we not be “wretched, pitiful, poor…”? If you visit Ellis Island, you will find tomes filled with names of brave and courageous men, women, and children that had endured potentially life-threatening voyages to escape the horrors of nations where they had no freedoms and lived in “wretched, pitiful, poor” conditions.

In conclusion, I pray that we lock arms as a nation, regardless of political affiliation. I ask that God put passion for our country into our hearts and minds. What I have known of my country has been wonderful and she is certainly worth our efforts.

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“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” -Ronald Reagan

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To Saul Alinsky Radicals: I Say No More!

I have been thinking about how I would like to address a potentially sensitive issue, and I think it has finally come to me. When I was a young girl, I remember my mother spending hours on the phone trying to summon support to keep my brother from being bussed during the desegregation movement of the early Seventies. Her dissent wasn’t based on concern about her son or daughter going to school with a diverse student population. After all, her mother and grandmother were from Puerto Rico. Her bone of contention was that her son was going to be bussed twenty minutes each way to school instead of a distance that was close enough for him to walk. I remember hearing stories of horrible things that had happened at my brother’s middle school that were acts of violence. I could never understand why there was any tension between blacks and whites, and I still don’t understand it today. Admittedly, there have been grave injustices to the black population, but we cannot exclude the many diverse factions of people that are victims to persecution of some form or another. Included would be the persecution and murder of 12 million Jews during Hitler’s Holocaust. Many Germans stood by silently while their fellow countrymen committed those acts of horror. There is no talk of recompense for the European Jews who suffered such atrocities. The difference is there are no politicians salivating at the opportunity to exploit the victim mentality.

 

To be quite frank, I am sick to death of the accusations of racism that get casually thrown around when there are absolutely no grounds. It has gotten to the point of lunacy in the most recent demand of Disney to pull Jungle Book from store shelves because they are contending that the character portrayal of King Louie is racist because he “sounds black”. Ironically, it is the voice of Louis Prima, a white Italian actor. 20140709-150424-54264678.jpg I distinctly remember black children in my fourth grade class that I really liked. I use the expression “black”, because that is what I grew up saying. THEY WERE NOT FROM AFRICA!!! It would be like me saying, “I am Hispanic-American!” I believe it is about as ridiculous as a Democratic Senator from Massachusetts and potential 2016 DNC Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren claiming that she was the first NATIVE AMERICAN AT HARVARD LAW SCHOOL BECAUSE SHE WAS 1/32 CHEROKEE!!! HOW STUPID IS THAT!!!! . So I guess if she were to win the presidency, she would be the first female Native American president? Who in their right mind would cast a vote for someone who would stretch the truth to such an extent? I can recall many of the black children by name just as I can the white children…Debra Jackson, Kendra Vincent, Holly Hudson, Susan Smith to name a few. I remember two black boys,in particular, that shared a title with me as one of the five fastest runners in my class. Obviously, I peaked early because I am anything but a fast runner today. Their names were Gainey Hicks and Michael Jackson. No, it wasn’t THE Michael Jackson. 20140709-144443-53083629.jpg During the Red Rover games at recess, Michael would break through the chain of students and he would always take me back to the other side. It happened so often, at a parent-teacher conference my teacher expressed concern to my mother that I might have a crush on him. No, I didn’t have a crush on him, we were both friends and highly competitive. Flash forward to Junior High. I knew several black guys that went to my school. Some I liked, and some I didn’t. Some would act politely and friendly, others would act a little too friendly, making catcalls and rude innuendoes as I went through the hall. It had nothing to do with their skin color. One of the guys in particular, Randy Jordan, was in my homeroom from junior high until we graduated from highschool. He ALWAYS acted as a gentleman. In all honesty, when I saw him at my thirtieth high school reunion, I was as excited to see him as I was anybody else. ¬† 20140709-145033-53433691.jpg I worked at McDonald’s at 16 and spent time in the drive-thru window with a black woman whose name was Bernita. She was a bit older, a single mother and had thick coke-bottle classes. Her teeth looked like they hadn’t seen a dentist in her 30-40 years on this earth. I had no idea her exact age, nor did I have anything in common with her other than the navy blue-and-white striped, smothering, itchy polyester uniform and goofy-looking hat. It was back in the day when even if you worked at McDonald’s you took pride in how you presented yourself. For whatever reason, I always worked the early morning shift during the summer months with her because she worked full time and didn’t work weekends. All I know is that I would sing to her: “Nothing could be sweeta’ than me being with Bernita in the mornin’ ” I never once thought of her skin color. She worked hard, I worked hard, and the drive-thru ran smoothly. We worked well together. Period. I went off to college at University of Georgia and after four years, I interviewed with Delta Airlines as a flight attendant. Upon graduation from Flight Attendant training, I chose my base to be Cincinnati because the company was just opening a flight attendant hub there, and I would have the opportunity to hold a better schedule. Once we were granted our bases, I chose two girls that would be my roommates. One was a white woman (Debbie), and one was a black woman (LaWanda). We followed each other in a caravan of cars from Atlanta to Cincinnati and after three days in a hotel, we leased an apartment that was convenient to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. It was awesome! All three of us were from Georgia, and, when we weren’t flying, we were inseparable. To make rent less expensive, we put the word out that we would have room for other flight attendants that might want to use the apartment if they were commuting. We had two takers. One woman was white, the other was black. We didn’t see them much or even get to know them very well, but it was great getting a break in the rent. After two years, the “Three Musketeers”, as we liked to call ourselves, came to an end when LaWanda told us that another black flight attendant questioned her living with us. She decided it was time to go live with someone who was “more like her”. Debbie and I were sincerely hurt and didn’t understand her way of thinking Ironically, and contrary to the stereotype, we were both raised in the South. 20140709-144109-52869550.jpg Many years have sifted through the hourglass of my life and since I have truly started paying attention to the agendas of the power-hungry elitist Leftists and the most powerful Community Organizer-in-Chief, Barack Hussein Obama, and his ilk, I have learned that using terms like “racism” is a tactic straight out of a book by Saul Alinsky, The Grand Poobah of Community Organizers. It is titled “Rules for Radicals” in which he dedicates the idealogical instruction manual “To Lucifer- the First Radical” (a paraphrase). Hilary Clinton and many sixties radicals are big fans of Alinsky, so I am by no means saying that Obama is in this alone. Of the many “rules” is “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” 20140709-144226-52946212.jpg As a result of this strategy, our citizenry has been divided into 1.) “TEA Party Whackos” because they believe in lower taxes, smaller government, and free markets. Until you actually attend a TEA Party Rally yourself, don’t make any presumptions. Of course, the complicit mainstream media only shows pictures of enthusiastic white supporters (yes, there are proud, patriotic flag-waving blacks in attendance, but they don’t make any footage because it doesn’t fit the liberal racism narrative) wearing tricorn hats and carrying fifes and drums. 20140709-145238-53558885.jpg I have been to the rallies and they truly support our Constitution and American patriotism. When you leave a TEA Party rally, you won’t find as much as a discarded ticket stub because they want their image to be just as spotless. 2.) “Racists” if they question or disagree with anything that a person of color believes. That ranges from Xenophobes to Islamaphobes and everything in between. 3.) “Homophobe Haters” if you disagree with homosexuality or gay marriage. Funny, they are entitled to their opinion but noone is allowed to disagree with it, or you are labeled a “hater”! For example, Brendan Eich, founder of Mozilla and Firefox, recently stepped down due to pressure of donating to Prop 8 in California which was in defense of traditional marriage. Interestingly enough, all the Leftists that vilified Eich, demanding his resignation, supported Obama when he stated during his Presidential Campaign of 2012 that he also believed that marriage was between a man and a woman. 4.) The “War on Women” Conservatives who are intelligent enough to know that if you can’t afford birth control, abstain! If your sexual partner cannot afford birth control, what the Sam Hill are you doing having sex with him in the first place? Obviously, he couldn’t afford a child if there were a resultant pregnancy! Call me crazy! It isn’t rocket science! I AM NOT RACIST!!!!! I find it highly offensive, but then again, that is the idea. It is all in an effort to discourage public dissent. I am a woman who is embarrassed by my gender if they fall for the idiotic lies about the Republicans taking their “right to choose away from them”. Hello…Ronald Reagan AND George W. Bush both held office with control of BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS AND THE MAJORITY IN THE SUPREME COURT AND HAVEN’T REVERSED THE ROE V. WADE DECISION!!!!!!! I am a Christian! If anyone has no protection, it would be people of Christian faith. Our government should be ashamed of themselves for putting our soldiers into harms way and preventing them IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM from worshipping their Heavenly Father. The liberals always love to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from his “I Have a Dream” speech. He said, “I look to the day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” That expression isn’t only for one color of skin, nor is it for one set of opinions. It has been commandeered by a power hungry politico whose intentions are less than honorable. Their behavior is despicable and it’s ill-effects are the ruination of our once-great nation.<

Suit Up Parents…Our Kids Are Worth It!

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Ahhhh…..the lazy days of summer. Well, not so much lazy as they are relaxed. The mornings begin around seven, but instead of the obnoxious blare of the alarm clock, we wake at our leisure. We would be heading out at 7:30 a.m. for swimming, but, thankfully, it has been rainy and cool so we have skipped it. There have been no lunches to pack nor planners to sign. It feels so good to not feel like I have to be “on the muscle” making sure this assignment is progressing or that vocabulary list of words is understood.

How refreshing it is to not feel distracted by a lengthy laundry list of to-dos, but to actually feel present in conversation regarding the myriad of interests about which my ten-year-old randomly chatters. I can still hear the conversation with my own mother when I was about her same age. I would be rambling on and on about who-knows-what before realizing that she was tuned out. Indignantly I said, “Mom, you aren’t listening to a thing I am saying!” She’d say, “Lauri Ann, you haven’t stopped talking for twenty minutes straight!” It’s so nice to get a little glimpse of what it will be like to be a grandparent who gets to put life aside and enjoy nothing more than the sweet simplicity of their company.

There must be something about sleeping in a parent’s bedroom that makes it extra special. I must admit after three consecutive movie nights in mom and dad’s room, I have declared it to be a Kid Free Zone tonight. I will say that I do enjoy watching a movie laying on the bed, as tight as sardines (yes, after his big sigh, even the 56-pound Portuguese Water Dog snuggles in with us), with everyone laughing together at the funny parts. What I don’t enjoy is when my husband reverts to his younger alter-ego and hands out “monkey bites” where he takes great pleasure grabbing the fleshy part of your thigh and squeezing. The kids do much better than Mom at laughing during this torturous exercise…I get mad. It hurts like the dickens, and this self-proclaimed delicate flower finds no humor in pain.

Though I welcome the break from supervising her rigorous academic calendar, there are still parenting responsibilities that can’t be disregarded. I was reminded of the importance of those details when I was at my daughter’s voice lesson yesterday. Her homework for the week was to read the lyrics of a song on which she is working and articulate them as well and as clearly as she could, both reading them aloud and singing them. We used the dead time driving in the car to go through the exercise.

I told her voice teacher about this and he thought it would be very impactful. I said, “In our culture today, good articulation isn’t stressed. Kids aren’t talking to one another, they’re texting. Sometimes you will see them all sitting at a table together and no one is having a conversation. They could be texting the person sitting next to them. Worse yet, it is even happening at our own dinner tables and parents don’t want to battle their children about their phones (I will be doing a post on kids and cell phones at a later date). If they are talking, they think it sounds hip to say “yeah” instead of “yes” and “What up?” instead of “How are you?” He said, “Kids feel uncomfortable articulating clearly amongst their peers.” I agreed, and told him the same applies to table manners and modesty.

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In our house, bad table manners aren’t an option. There is a level of expectation even if the television is on. We have repeated the rhyme “Mabel, Mabel, strong and able, get your elbows off the table!” so often that all we have to do is say, “Mabel” and it works like a charm. Sometimes all I have to do is clear my throat for a little unspoken “Heads up…your chewing with your mouth open.”

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Recently, my husband had a great opportunity to show an example to our daughter when they stopped at KFC on the way home from swimming a few nights ago. Some muscle-head from the gym across the street got his food and sat at an adjacent table. He tore into his food like a ravenous bear and Grace literally pointed at him and told my husband, “Dad, look at his horrible table manners!” Of course, then my husband had to correct her on not pointing at others because it TOO falls into the bad manners category, but it was good for her to see first hand how bad table manners look to others.

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As for modesty, the boys’ shorts have gotten longer, while the girl’s have gotten shorter… WAY shorter! I have seen shorts and wondered if the inseam was any longer than an inch. Why not wear underwear? They give a whole new meaning to the hot pants of the sixties. Historically, hemlines don’t get longer. It makes me shudder to think about it. I think many parents just get tired of battling their daughters and relent to these fashions. I say suit up! Here is what a concerned father did to discourage his beautiful daughter from wearing her shorts so short…love it! (For the record, I am not married to the man pictured below. I think my husband is the Best. Dad. Ever.)

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Though it is nice to have a reprieve from our usual harried schedule, I will continue to fight the good fight, because one day she will be interviewing for a job and will need to articulate clearly. She may someday have to take a customer to dinner to land a big deal and will be able to feel comfortable in the most refined of settings. When she goes to meet the parents of her future husband, she will know that they will be more likely to welcome her to the family if her undies aren’t spilling out of the bottom of her shorts! I guess it’s official…I am old-fashioned!

By Not Giving Honest Feedback, Are We Creating Generations of Wimps?

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My daughter had a swim meet this weekend. After every event, she excitedly strolled over to her coach to check in. Her coach would tell her what she did well (ear-to-ear grin), point out any weaknesses in her stroke (shoulders slump), and conclude with a high five telling her, “Nice job!” She then came to check in with my husband and me and she said, “How did I do?” WELLLLLLLLL….We too would tell her she did very well at some aspects of the swim, point out her areas for improvement, and tell her nice job. However, after one of the heats in particular, as I was telling her things that she could work on, she said, “Mom, are you criticizing me?” (She is so clever). “Well, yes, I guess I am. I would rather call it feedback. I have already told you how well I think you did. I also told you how proud I am of you. Regardless, you still have areas to improve. Mommy and Daddy give each other feedback, ahem, on a regular basis.” (Of course, I am not about to let her know that neither of us readily accept it. She will figure that out on her own at a later date.) Why is it that her coach can give her feedback, but if we tell her anything, it is criticism? As individuals, why do we take feedback from employers, customers, etc. more receptively than a spouse or parent, who loves us and truly has our best interest in mind. We bristle with defensiveness often retaliating by pointing out one of their flaws.

In our “everyone-gets-a-trophy” culture, are we doing a disservice to our children by not allowing them to receive an honest evaluation of their performance? Taking it a step further, are we preventing them from experiencing disappointment thus disallowing them to learn essential coping skills they will need throughout adolescence and even adulthood. Without feedback, how are we to get any better? I believe these actions are creating generations of wimps. To my point, in recents months, I heard of schools that were no longer going to have special receptions honoring those who achieved academic excellence, because they didn’t want the other children to feel bad. BOO HOO!!!! WORK HARDER OR GET OVER IT!!!

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A lack of feedback, i.e. not giving a trophy to the best prepared team, can potentially disincentivize individuals from giving their very best effort. If they know beforehand that they are going home with the same hardware as everyone else, what is the motivation to bring your “A” game? It reminds me of an interview I watched where college kids, having grown up in this culture of everyone getting the same regardless of performance (i.e. wealth redistribution), being asked if they would mind averaging their grades with others who didn’t do as well. For example, would an “A” student mind taking a “C” because another student, who made an “F” hadn’t made a good decision to study and prepare himself for a test, but, instead, decided to stay up all night partying like a rock star? The looks of shock on their faces were priceless. There was a mixture of flabbergasted horror and incredulity. “No way! I earned that grade!” Interestingly enough, having had no real life experience, they don’t equate that scenario with the progressive income tax rate. Due to Liberal indoctrination and propaganda, many college students believe those who have made good decisions, studied hard, taken great risk, and worked their whole life sacrificing family time and even their own health to achieve comfort in their later years should “pay their fair share”.

My husband does everything with high energy and great attention to detail. He is particular about keeping a well groomed yard. He is the lawn guy, I am in charge of keeping watch over the flower beds. A couple of years ago, we opted to pay a more expensive landscaping company because their reputation warranted it. He came home recently from a meeting and the landscaping crew were there working. He wanted to discuss a few brown, bare spots that were randomly scattered in our lawn. Mind you, he schedules his day such that there isn’t a lot of leeway in between one task and the next. In his dress shirt and slacks, he walked around the yard pointing out different things that were concerning him about the lawn. For him, he was just checking off his mental list of areas that he wanted to be addressed.

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A few days later, my husband received a text from the owner of the landscaping firm telling him that his employee felt my husband had berated him, and his employees will not be subjected to such treatment. Granted, I usually am the one dealing with the crew and have more of a warm-fuzzy personality; he is more direct. I am more about relationships, he is more about finishing a task….we complement each other well that way. For example, it takes me thirty minutes to say my farewells at a party; it takes him 5 minutes tops.

Luckily, I was outside watering my flowers, so I heard the tone of the conversation. My husband was merely giving feedback to an employee of a landscaping firm that he pays considerable money to maintain our yard and landscaping. He didn’t make it personal. Doesn’t he have the right to give input? Are people so thin-skinned that they cannot accept it as an opportunity to improve? In the workplace, most employers give an annual review assessing your performance for the previous twelve months. If there is an area that the boss thinks needs improvement, you either get better or get overlooked for a raise or a promotion. In a worse case scenario, you get demoted or get your walking papers.

Feedback, a.k.a. criticism, is a necessary element to a productive and thriving society. We should all put on our big boy/girl pants, sift through the information, and use what applies to become our best selves. Come to think of it, maybe we should think about an annual review in our marriages. Just kidding! I somehow don’t think that it will lead to matrimonial harmony or bliss.

Swiper, No Swiping!

Let’s face it…it doesn’t take long for children to learn that if they are at risk of punishment and they bend the truth a little, i.e. lie, it keeps them from realizing consequences. As egocentric and selfish as our little angels can be, they can become little masters at nudging the truth to get what they want. If it isn’t nipped in the bud, is it a sign that there are bright orange jumpsuits in their futures? Knowing that little children are notorious fabricators of fiction, should we accept it as a commonality and overlook some of their twisted tales, choosing instead to “pick our battles”? I can clearly remember telling stories when I was little, and, just as clearly, my mom flipping out and exacting a tough penalty. Thankfully, at some point in my maturation, I evolved into someone who abhors dishonesty, sneakiness, and manipulation. Did it happen when I became an independent adult and could do as I please? Was it because I no longer had the need to twist the truth to get my way?

This past Saturday night, I sent Grace to bed at 11:00. After reading my e-mail, I went to check on her to make sure she was all tucked in. The little stinker was laying there with my still-lit iPad (the screen shuts off in 20-30 seconds) pretending to be asleep. I took the iPad without saying anything. The next morning, I told her that she had lost the privilege of using it and my iPhone for the week because she didn’t go to bed when I asked. It was a pretty minor offense, but if there isn’t a consequence, why would she bother with obedience the next time? She said, “Mom, I was asleep!” After demonstrating how quickly the screen shuts off, I said, “Look at me. Do you think I am stupid???” My very literal child said, “No Mom! If I thought you were stupid, I would tell you!” I told her that she might sadly find herself on the losing end of that statement. During my daughter’s swim practice a couple of nights ago , I relayed the story to another mom. She said, “Good for you! I can’t make it more than a couple of hours before I give in and return their devices so I can have my peace and quiet!”

Teaching a child lessons about honesty takes firm tenacity and follow-thru.
A few summers ago, my husband, daughter and I went to visit his family to celebrate the Fourth of July. His dad and stepmom have a lovely lake-front home with irreplaceable towering shade trees that are worthy of a silent prayer for protection during a violent storm. They are very old and sprawling, offering the perfect amount of shade and respite from the blazing sun on a hot summer day. There is a sandy beach that has traditionally been the source of hours of entertainment for high school buddies, college kids, and in more recent years, grandchildren. One child, Cameron, had brought with him little cars that were modeled after the clever characters in the animated film Cars. The kids would bury them and then dig them back up, only to bury them in another spot.

When it was time for Cameron to leave, he was very sad to realize that two of his cars went missing. Grace said she buried the cars and they must be under the sand. From the deck, I looked out as her dad, her grandfather and Cameron’s mom were raking the beach in an effort to find the missing toys. Dripping with sweat, they raked one spot after another while Grace stood by pointing to different areas trying to direct them to the sunken treasures. After 30-45 minutes, they gave up and decided the missing objects would eventually reappear. They eventually reappeared alright… God works in beautiful and mysterious ways.

Early the following October, my husband “suggested” that we get rid of some of the old sporting equipment in the substantial and overflowing toy bin in the garage. There were old footballs and basketballs that were low on air, old baseball gloves and bats, including a Dora the Explorer softball set (it is always a little sad letting go of old toys). I think when I went to Goodwill, I dropped off 10 balls, 3 bats, rubber baseball bases, etc. This toy bin was like the great abyss. When I reached the bottom of the bin, I saw two little toy cars. I would have thought they were remnants of my stepson’s youth, but the cars had eyes eerily familiar to those from Cars. As a matter of fact the one car had “SHERIFF” on its doors. EUREKA…I have found them!!!!

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When I came back into the house, I could hear my little angel singing happily in the shower, while my husband was on the back patio enjoying a magazine. When I explained to him that I found the missing cars from Fourth of July, I asked what he thought we should do. (I am a little ashamed to admit, I am still quite impressed with her marked stealthiness. I think I see a bright future for her in the CIA.) He suggested that because there were two cars that she took that were someones favorites, we take two things that she holds near and dear. I thought it was ingenious and couldn’t wait to confront my beautiful little liar.

I went into her bathroom where she was gleefully belting out a tune while gallons upon gallons of hot water wastefully ran down the drain. She was drawing sweet little stick figures on the steamy glass doors. I said, “Grace, do you have any idea who these cars belong to?” Looking like she was seeing a ghost, her smile faded as she said, “No. I have no idea.” I said, “Really? If I were to send pictures of these darling little toys to Cameron and ask if he recognized them, do you think he would say no?” She stepped out of the shower, draped a towel across herself and stood there like a deer in the headlights dripping a small pool on the floor. The dams burst, and she cried, “I am so sorry Mom! I was a lot younger then!” Vacillating between anger and laughter, I said, “Grace, that was only three months ago!” I had to regain my resolve because she did look pretty pathetic. I steeled myself and said, “Hmmmm. Because you took two of Cameron’s toys that he really liked, your dad and I are going to take two toys that you really like. Would you like to help me pick them out, or would you like me to do it myself?” She hung her head and dejectedly said, “I will help you.”

Of course, the items she wanted to give up wouldn’t have made her flinch or leave any impression. I said, “Nope, those aren’t going to be painful enough for you to lose.” Resignedly, she gave me her green puppy; it is her lovey that she sleeps with still to this day. I scanned her room and landed upon the much-awaited, mail-order Geisha Girl Halloween costume that she had proudly draped across her chair. I pointed to it and said, “That is mine.” Still soaking wet with the towel draped across her, she wailed, “NO!!!!!! Not my Geisha costume!!!!! I love it!” I said, “I am sure that Cameron LOVED his cars that you thought you needed to take from him.”

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After letting her stew on it for a a couple of weeks, I said, “Here’s the deal…(after doing this for years, I have created quite a keen negotiator…I think I am going to have my work cut out for me). You may earn them back ONLY after you write a letter of apology to Molly, your dad, and Grandpa telling them what you did, and that you are very sorry for making them rake the beach when you knew that they weren’t really buried in the sand. You need to wrap the cars up so that we can mail them back to Cameron with a letter of apology. When all of those letters are finished and in the mail, AND I feel that you are truly sorry, I will let you have them back. If it isn’t done by Halloween, I guess you won’t be going as a Geisha Girl. Until then, they are mine.”

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I sent a text to all of those involved, letting them know what had been discovered and signed off as “Swiper’s Mom”. She took her punishment and paid the “fine”. In retrospect, that I found those two little cars in the dark recesses of that toy bin all those months later was truly a gift. Who knows, maybe it saved my little dumpling from a future life of high crimes and misdemeanors.

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My Name is Lauri…and I’m a Bossypants

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WARNING: The post you are about to read may contain offensive language that is unsuitable for the weak-kneed. One might need to put on their Big Boy/Girl Bossypants and check their fears at the door.

I have often heard the expression, “Show me someone who doesn’t mind losing, and I’ll show you a loser.” Show me a man/woman who isn’t bossy and I’ll show you a doormat that gets taken advantage of throughout his/her life. You won’t see a competent leader, that is for certain. You will see a man/woman who helps to promote those who are bossier to higher status while he/she meekly recedes to the shadows. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you should ever intentionally try to squash someone to benefit yourself or improve your position. If so, you simply have a callous, self-interested, egocentric and heartless nature; you aren’t being bossy. “Bossy” knows what direction he/she needs to go and confidently deems it unnecessary to coddle any teammates.

Currently, there is a discussion being promoted by the Left and Hollywood about getting rid of the word “bossy”. They base their argument on the idea that the word has a negative connotation towards women. Since when has the word only referred to women? Let’s see…I have been called a myriad of names, some of which I won’t put here in case my daughter reads this. “Moptop”, “Fuzzytop”, “Dorky”, “Quirky”, are just a few that quickly come to mind. You can only imagine the blonde jokes to which I have been subjected. Some apply, some don’t and others are hysterical. What ever happened to the expression, “Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”? We all have baggage from mean things that have been said to us. They linger inside of our conscience, and we revisit them when we are mentally beating ourselves up or we are feeling especially vulnerable. More than likely, it was said in the heat of the moment. Does it make it right? No. Do they have the freedom to say it? Yes! Conversely, we all have had moments when we have shown our lesser selves and used hurtful language toward others. Should our society alter our vocabulary so as not to offend? Absolutely not!

I have a great reverence for our nation’s Constitution. For 55 men, of vastly different backgrounds, to have gathered and created a document that has been as timeless as it has, is nothing short of a miracle. I wouldn’t be alone in saying that I believe it was Divinely inspired. To compare, the proud French have written five Constitutions since the birth of ours. One of the freedoms listed in the First Amendment of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, due to its importance, is Freedom of Speech. If you have lived other than a solitary life in a cave, you have probably been offended by someone’s speech at one time or another. When we start limiting what people can hear with their tender little ears, we gaze toward the slippery slope of when Hitler gave “his” radios to the German citizens and made it illegal for them to hear any station other than his own. He was able to shape the citizenry at will.

Political correctness has hampered honest debate and truth in our nation. The Left has brilliantly used “racism” to stifle free speech. The Libs can’t make up their minds. They frequently give mixed signals about what they determine to be acceptable or unacceptable. Though it is a variation of the “n” word, many celebrity black rappers want to marginalize and “own” the word “nigga”, saying it is okay amongst themselves. The offensive slur is now referred to as “the -er word”. How inconsistent is that????? George Orwell warned about this “Newspeak” in his book 1984.The Black Community is calling foul and are trying to disallow use of the “racist” word “thug” because “EVERYONE KNOWS THEY ARE REFERRING TO BLACKS AND ARE STEREOTYPING”. Who is stereotyping? I don’t know about you, but when I think of a thug, a Chicago-style gangster, no offense Chicago, pops into my mind. No, he is not a black man or even a young black man. If any stereotype might be drawn, it would be of a 35-year-old Italian mobster. I apologize to Italians everywhere! I can say that I love Italians! It is absurd! I wouldn’t use the word “thug” to describe any of these lawless teens, whether they are black or white. I would simply refer to them as punks, because that is EXACTLY what they are.

I remember a few years ago when a little girl was riding in my car with my daughter on our way to a field trip. My daughter referred to something as “lame”. The other little girl gasped, almost as though my daughter had dropped the F-bomb. She said, “You can’t say that. That is a bad word.” Of course, then my ears perked up and I pictured myself getting a bar of soap to wash her mouth out (not a technique that I have used, but I know it was proven to be quite effective for my grandmother when my mom once told a lie). I said, “Gracie, what did you say?” She looked like she was in trouble because she knows that we make choices not to use bad language. She said, “Mom, I didn’t say a bad word, I promise! I said lame.” I said, “That isn’t a bad word.” The other little girl said, “My mom and dad told me that it is a bad word.” I told her that if her mom and dad told her not to use it, by all means, she shouldn’t use it, but it isn’t a bad word. Her dad works for a large corporation and has been schooled, I am sure, on political correctness. On the other hand, my husband is a self-employed entrepreneur, and I am a stay-at-home mom. Neither of us are overly fond of political correctness. We don’t believe one should purposely say anything hurtful, but sometimes you’ve got to call a spade a spade (I promise, no slur intended here).

Being a bit of a word-nerd, no offense meant to any nerds out there, I just so happen to have the ol’ handy-dandy dictionary in my glove box (like I said, I am a total word-nerd). I whipped it out, and looked up the word. The definition for lame read “weak”. The example given was “He gave a lame excuse.” In my almost 50 years of life, I have never thought of a person in a mean way as being lame. If someone is wheelchair-bound or handicapped in any way, I don’t make derogatory remarks toward them. Period. I pray to God to lighten their load and then thank Him for my many blessings.

Sometimes name-calling is well deserved. Driving on the road, if I have my head up my butt and miss a red light turning green, you can honk your horn and call me “Butthead”. It’s okay…I would deserve it! I would then humbly wave an “I’m sorry” and know that I earned any new moniker they may have chosen in their aggravation with my oblivion. If people have their heads up their butts and aren’t paying attention, I might say something in the privacy of my car or my mind, and, in most instances, it is deserved. If I have to resort to using my own horn to startle a driver out of their reverie, I could only hope that they would roll down the window and yell, “Hold your horses, Bossypants!” I’m not gonna lie, it would feel good!!!!>

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Packed Lunches: Love in a Sack

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There are many ways that we show love to one another in our family. On a frigid morning, my husband might surprise me by starting my car, putting the seat warmer on, and having a steaming cup of coffee waiting for me in the cup holder next to a note telling me to “Have a great day!” Yes, I feel the love!!!! For years, Grace has shown me her love by bringing me flowers that she has found outside. Sometimes, the beautiful blossom might include the root system of one of my newly planted annuals. Gasp! Occasionally, in my coat pockets, I find dried-up, crumbling little daffodils that she had given me when we used to spend our summers at baseball fields cheering for her brother. Ironically, these little treasures are more precious to me now than when she had first given them to me. What sweet tokens of love! My showering of love includes hot breakfast for my husband and daughter almost every morning to start their days off on the right foot. I am a little laundry-obsessive making sure that their clothes have the freshest smell so when they put them on they can inhale all that love! I am crazy for Downy Unstoppables! I am also an ironing fanatic (I used to iron the sheets) who is starting to give in to some of the wrinkles due to a lack of time. Grace actually referred to me as an “Ironing Super Hero”. I fold underwear into sweet little packages that are lined up in the drawers. It may sound a little crazy, but they look like rows of little hearts!

One of the ways I show my daughter that I love her is packing her lunch every day. It started with packing her lunch for first grade. The night before, I would take great joy in my quiet time after she went to bed decorating her paper lunch sack with her class’s letter of the week. For example, if the letter of the week was P, I might write “The Proud Purple Penguin Put up her Polka-dotted Parasol”. Then I would take great pleasure in drawing an illustration to match. It was the epitome of dorkiness, but it was a stage that felt bittersweet to leave behind. Her lunch sacks were sadly replaced with a Barbie lunch box. Currently, my little fourth grader is sporting a Vera Bradley lunch sak that she threw in as part of a negotiation for a new VaVa Bloom backpack for achieving straight As all year. After all, they must match!

I would say that she enjoys a wide variety of lunches. In first and second grade, I would alternate between American cheese sandwiches or PB-and-Js. Occasionally, I would throw in a thermos filled with cottage cheese, sliced turkey, and pineapple or peaches. She really loves to takes leftovers with her, and I am amazed at how she bravely opens her thermos and isn’t swayed by peer pressure. One of her personal favorites is grilled rosemary seasoned lamb chops with saffron and Parmesan risotto. She told me about her tablemates asking her what she was eating. “EWWWWWWW!!!!” You’re eating dead lamb!” She continued undeterred. It reminded me of my own experiences in the lunchroom when I was in school.

My mother is a fantastic cook. She is also wonderful at stretching the dollar. My lunches were creative to say the least. My personal favorite was egg salad sandwiches on fresh white bread. It was pure heaven biting into the creamy texture and having to use my tongue to pry the bread off the roof of my mouth because it was so soft. I remember being in Mrs. Pillow’s first grade class, and the class squealing, “What is that smell? Did somebody fart? Ewwww!” I couldn’t have cared less!

I think my mom thought that peanut butter and jelly was either too expensive or too beneath her culinary talents. I’m not sure. She would send her little darlings to school with a variety of tasty sandwiches: green olive and cream cheese, roast pork or roast beef, tomato and cheese, cucumber with mayo, and baked bean. Yes, I said BAKED BEAN!!!!!!! As I said earlier, my daughter wasn’t bothered by any reproachful looks or comments from her peers. It wasn’t the same for me. I would wait until everyone pulled out their PB-and-Js and I would sneakily slide my sandwich out of my lunch box and try to eat it without garnering a lot of attention. It wasn’t something that I could get away with when eating the odorous egg salad, so I wouldn’t even bother trying to hide it.

Nowadays, when my brother and I tease my mom about the myriad of unusual lunches, she defensively responds, “I always tried to send you to school with a healthy and nutritious lunch!” My thought…ISN’T PEANUT BUTTER MORE NUTRITIOUS THAN CUCUMBER??? I used to babysit a child that ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner and she lived to adulthood! Mom, just kidding! I LOVED those cold baked bean sandwiches!!!! They were really awesome, ESPECIALLY if I had been vegetarian!(Gag)

I now realize how fortunate I was to have had a mom that put that much thought into providing my brother and me with such a tasty lunch. Most mornings, I don’t feel like being all that creative with the menu. If I have a little stretch when I put the same PB-and-J, apple, chips and FiberOne bar in her sak too many times, she lets me know. She says, “Mom, can I PLEASE have something different for lunch today?” Growing up, I never had to ask for a change to the routine. My mom could just as easily have made the same thing every single day. After all, “Variety is the spice of life!” Thanks Mom! Thanks for all the love!

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