Thursday, August 31, 2006

"I Trust You'll Treat Her Well"

I cut this poem out of my local newspaper 13 years ago, when TP was only five years old, right before she started kindergarten. The clipping is now yellowed and curled. It has stayed up on the fridge, held by various magnets over the years. I remember the day well when I first cut it out and hung it there - how quickly the seasons have come and gone. Each time I clean the outside of the fridge, I smile - although, over the past several months, I must admit that the smile has been replaced with a few tears, at times, a wistful sigh. Even though it's specifically written for a kindergartner, it still seems appropriate, as TP is headed off into the world a week from today. You'll notice a couple of time I used an asterisk to denote that I changed the male voice of the writer to a female voice.


WORLD: I bequeath to you today one little girl in a crispy dress. . . with two blue eyes. . .
And a happy laugh that ripples all day long, and a batch of light blonde hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs.
I trust you'll treat her well.
She's slipping out of the backyard of my heart this morning and skipping off down the street to her first day of school.
And never again will she be completely mine. . .
Prim and proud, she'll wave a young and independent hand this morning, and say goodby and walk with little-lady steps to the nearby schoolhouse. . .
Gone will be the chattering little hoyden who lived only for play, and gone will be the delightful little gamin who roamed the yard like a proud princess with nary a care in her little world.
Now, she will learn to stand in lines. . . and wait by the alphabet for her name to be called. . .
She will learn to tune her little-girl ears for the sound of school bells, and for deadlines. . .
She will learn to giggle and gossip. . .
And to look at the ceiling in a disinterested way when the little boy across the aisle sticks out his tongue.
Now she will learn to be jealous. . . and now she will learn how it is to feel hurt inside. . . and now she will learn how not to cry. . .
No longer will she have time to sit on the front porch steps on a summer day and watch while an ant scurries across a crack in the sidewalk. . .
Or will she have time to pop out of bed with the dawn to kiss lilac blossoms in the morning dew. . .
Now she will worry about important things. . . like grades. . . and what dresses to wear. . . and whose best friend is whose. . .
Now she will worry about the little boy who pulls her hair at recess time. . . and staying after school. . . and which little girls like which little boys. . .
And the magic of books and knowledge will soon take the place of the magic of her blocks and dolls.
And she will find new heroes. . .
For five full years I've been her sage and Santa Claus. . . her pal and playmate. . . her mother* and her friend. . .
Now, alas, she'll learn to share her worship and adoration with her teachers (which is only right). . .
And no longer will I be the smartes, greatest woman* in the world. . .
Today, when the first school bell rings, she'll learn how it is to be a member of the group. . . with all its privileges, and, of course, its disadvantages, too.
She will learn in time that proper young ladies do not laugh out loud. . . or kiss dogs. . . or keep frogs in pickle jars in bedrooms. . . or watch ants scurry across the cracks in a summer sidewalk. . .
Today, she will begin to learn for the first time that all who smile at her are not her friends. . . That "the group" can be a demanding mistress. . .
And I'll stand on the porch and watch her start out on the long, long journey to becoming a woman. . .
So World, I bequeath to you today one little girls in a crispy dress and two blue eyes. . .
And a happy laugh that ripples all day long, and a batch of light blonde hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs.
I trust you'll treat her well.

This poem describes TP perfectly - fifteen years ago and today - as she faces the next leg of her journey towards becoming a woman.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Late-Summer Thoughts

The crazy schedule has begun! It's hard to believe DQ is a sophomore this year. The courses she's taking are difficult, to say the least - she's in her second year of Latin, plus this year she has to participate in "Sophomore Service" where she volunteers for several hours each quarter and then has to write a paper on her experience. She's so happy at this school, and for that I am very grateful. When she was walking down the school hallway this afternoon, I noticed how breathtakingly beautiful she has become. She walked with such grace (well, as much grace as she could muster with a twenty pound backpack on her back) and her eyes were smiling when she caught sight of me. What a difference a year makes!

TP is winding down her summer jobs - she'll be all done on Saturday with both. She has several things scheduled for next week - a hair appointment, lunches with friends, a visit to her old high school, and packing. Eight days and counting. . .

I'm holding up better than I thought I would under the circumstances. Of course, I'm trying very hard to NOT think about what it's going to be like without DQ around. Already, the rhythm of family life has changed in subtle ways, while at the same time, the summer is quickly fading into fall. Nostalgia comes at unexpected times, and washes over me while I quickly try to not suffocate from the catch in my throat.

This is a season of my life which I mistakenly thought would take its' time in getting here. I'm still totally amazed that it snuck up on me like it did, much like when, all of the sudden, you realize that it's getting dark at 7:30 p.m. rather than at 10:00p.m.

Blogging will be light over the next few days, as I spend these fleeting moments with TP and help DQ settle into a routine. My girls. . . how I love them so!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Time in a bottle

How I wish I could save time in a bottle! I'm going to miss my Princess. . .

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I'm Back. . .

We had a great time in Michigan. It's so gorgeous up there. There was a hint of fall as some of the leaves were just beginning to change colors and the evenings were quite cool. The family reunion was a success, overall. It was good to see everyone, and to have my kids meet some of their cousins whom they had never met before. Only 5 Canadian relatives were able to make it, but it still was so good to visit with them. We had another distant relative come from Chicago who had done a considerable amount of work on our genealogy dating back to the 1700's - very fascinating - and I plan to contact her in September to get even more information.

School starts for DQ on Monday, so the next few days will be spent doing last-minute things in preparation for the new year. For me, my "new year" seems to start in the autumn rather than on January 1st. It's time for me to make decisions about how to revamp my business, and how involved I want to be in school-related activities, and what I want to do with my "spare time". I am anticipating a little bit of extra free time beginning in a couple of weeks when TP takes off for college (sigh), so I have decided that I want to dedicate more time to my writing. I will be a frequent contributor at the Christian Women Online Blog, and will contine my monthly column for the e-zine. I am considering beginning a new blog for weight-loss issues. And, I do plan to blog more frequently here, as I face the transitions which come about as a result of one of my chicks flying the coop! Also, I want to try my hand at writing fiction - it's a new genre for me, and it will be interesting to see if I'm even able to do it!

So, summer is coming to a close, and autumn promises all sorts of new changes. I'm experiencing so many different emotions right now as I face a new chapter in my life. Thanks, friends, for coming along with me on the ride!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Good Wife's Guide

I'm headed out of town on Thursday for yet another family reunion - this time, it is my side of the family. There will be plenty of relatives visiting from Canada, so don't be surprised if I come back with an accent and saying "eh?" at the end of my sentences! In the meantime, I thought I'd leave you with parts of a Good Housekeeping article which was first printed in the May 13th, 1955 edition of their magazine. Enjoy the "advice", ladies - and feel free to discuss it amongst yourselves! I'll return on Monday, August 21st.

The Good Wife's Guide
~Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking of him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.
~Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair, and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
~Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
~Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.
~Gather up schoolbooks, toys, papers, etc., and then run a dustcloth over the tables.
~Over the cooler months of the year, you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
~Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and (if necessary), change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.
~Be happy to see him.
~Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
~Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
~Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you . Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.
~Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.
~Don't greet him with complaints and problems.
~Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.
~Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
~Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
~Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
~A good wife always knows her place.

Okay, folks, what are your thoughts?


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Carpenters - Ave maria

In memory of my mom - this was her favorite hymn.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Thirty Eight Years

She was beautiful - with a winsome smile and enormous warm brown eyes which were marked with a hint of sadness. Her lovely voice sang the hymns at church with joy and the lullabies at night with tenderness. At times, I can still hear her words in my mind, admonishing her children to be good, be brave, and be strong. When I let my mind wander and I remember her embrace, I can still feel the love she had for me, her "baby girl."

I remember coming home from school on a cold October afternoon, and my mom was packing her bags. I was confused because I wasn't aware that a trip had been planned, so I asked her if she was going to go and visit her sister. She replied that no, that wasn't her plan, and she asked me to sit down with her. Mom explained to me that she had been to the doctor, and that they had discovered a lump on her breat which apparently had been there for quite some time, because it had grown to the size of a grapefruit. I was old enough (13) to know that this was a very grave situation, and I knew before she could even say the words that she had cancer. She was packing so that she could go to the hospital the following day for a mastectomy, followed by radiation treatments.

The radiation treatments burned her skin, and she was in a lot of pain. She was in the hospital more often than not over the next several months. In fact, she came home for a couple of days at Christmas, but then had to return to the hospital shortly thereafter. Eventually, the cancer spread to the bone, so we knew then that she was only going to be with us for only a very short time.

My family did not share our grief together. Two of my older brothers were already out on their own. My sister was married and pregnant. The two younger brothers still lived at home with me (the baby of the family) and my dad. Mom's illness was one of those subjects which was just not discussed, period. Dad coped by drinking. The brothers who were still at home argued with Dad and amongst themselves frequently, and they were often cruel to me. I stayed in my room a lot, reading and studying. The only time I felt "safe" was at school where I did well academically but where I was rather quiet and reserved, or at church,where the presence of God helped to comfort me and bring some sense of peace to my soul.

To this day, I still feel rather guilty that I didn't visit my mother more frequently while she was in the hospital for the last two and a half months of her life. I couldn't bear to see and hear the pain she was in. I remember vividly my last visit with her (about two weeks before she died), where instinctively I knew she was close to death. She held my hand tight, and told me she loved me more than I could ever know, and that she hoped that someday I would know the love a mother has for her child. I wasn't able to go back to see her because, in my 14 year old mind, I was hoping that the longer I stayed away from the her and the hospital, then the longer she would live because I knew she wanted to see me one more time before she died. Selfish logic on my part - and I can only imagine how much it hurt her to not see me again.

I found out she died from my brother, who told me in a very cold and brusque way. Nobody else was in the house when he walked in and told me she was dead, so there were no words to comfort me, no arms to embrace me to help take the pain away. I remember going into the bathroom, closing the door, crying for about 5 minutes, and then washing my face. I looked in the mirror and promised myself that I would never, ever cry again for losing my mother. It was at that exact point in time where I closed off my soul, and I became angry at God and at the world for a very long time. I turned off that Light in my life abruptly, and I withdrew into a deep and dark hole where I remained cold and lifeless for years.

I look at my daughters today, and I do know the kind of love that mothers have for their children. I know that Mom left me a wonderful legacy of love to pass on to my girls. But it took years and years of getting to that point of allowing that Light which had been extinguished by her death to find it's way and gently return to my soul. And that's another story for another day. . . In the meantime, the 38th anniversary of her death is this coming Sunday. Please say a prayer in rememberance of a beautiful woman whose faith in God never wavered, even until the end.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Blogging "Etiquette"

Quick question! Have you ever had one of your comments taken the wrong way, and you wind up feeling hurt and upset because your opinion has been criticized by other bloggers? How do you handle it?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

33 Days

Orientation was yesterday at TP's college. The parents and students were divided into their respective groups, and the whole day was spent gathering information about what to expect from life as a college student and life as the parent of a college student. Practical issues were addressed, but the parents also had the option to listen to presenters speak about the emotional challenges our kids will be facing as they begin their college careers. While I know this kind of stuff theoretically, it's just so different when it applies to your very own child.

I felt the pit in my stomach begin to gnaw even deeper. I felt my tears well up in my eyes. I felt an overwhelming urge to bolt out the door, in hopes that I could somehow stop this from becoming a reality.

I know this is something I can GET through, but it's not something I necessarily want to GO through. I hate the thought of missing her like crazy when she's gone. I hate the thought of wondering how she's doing - is she eating properly, is she studying enough, is she making the right choices, is she safe?

This process of letting go is something we, as parents, start when our kids are first born. That first step, that first day at school, that first date - all of these are markers of their growing independence.

This process of letting go allows them to become persons with the ability to take care of themselves - emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually.

But this process of letting go is painful. It hurts me to the very core of my being. This is unchartered waters for me, as I face the days and nights without her safe and sound under my roof.

Mixed in all of this pain is an incredible sense of excitement for her. She's maturing so rapidly right now. She's making decisions which are reflective of her values and of great thought on her part - and not based on her feelings or peer pressure. I'm proud of her. And I am very, very confident in her ability to survive and thrive in her new environment. She will be challenged and she will challenge others. She will incorporate new ideas, and throw out some old ways of doing things.

In essence, she will become a woman. That will affect the nature of our relationship - and I think that is the part about which I am so uncertain. Will she find out that she can't stand me? Will she reject me and my way of life? Will she not need me anymore? Or, will our relationship grow deeper?

I have only 33 more days with her here at home. I'm planning to savor each and every day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


The August edition of Christian Women Online is now posted! I've glanced through the pages, and it promises to be the BEST one yet!

My column this month focuses on family trees, and how "belonging" to a family is a very sensitive and important issue for adopted children.

So, grab an iced tea, and head on over to . Enjoy a leisurely summer afternoon browsing through the articles of this wonderful e-zine.

And thanks again, Darlene, for letting me be part of your awesome team!