Facets of Lucy

Looking at the various side of a life


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I Had a Mother Who Read to Me

” You better mind your parents, and your teachers fond and dear,
And cherish those who love you,and dry the orphan’s tear,
And help the poor and needy ones who cluster all about,
Or the Gobbl-ins will get you
If you
Don’t
Watch
Out!”

– excerpt from Little Orphan Annie by James Whitcomb Riley

When I was expecting my first child, I read that it was important to read to your children from the very start.  And read aloud I did, right from the start, as recommended.  My mother-in-law just about had a heart attack when she walked in on me reading aloud to my infant from some bodice-ripping romance novel I had around the house!  But eventually we graduated to board books, like Pat the Bunny, filled with rhymes and textures and Goodnight Moon with the rhythms and rituals of bedtime.  When the next child joined the family, we still read together during the day but each had their own books read to them at bedtime.

Reading aloud is such an uplifting and fun activity.  Have you ever read the little Golden Book, The Monster at the End of this Book featuring Grover from Sesame Street?  I worked hard to sound as much like Grover as possible as he walked with us through the book, trying to stop us from getting to the scary monster at the end of this book (can you guess who it is?).  There are so many fun books to read aloud.  We loved Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne featuring such fun poetry lines as

” Have you been a good girl? Have you been a good girl?
Its always the end of the loveliest day,”
Have you been a good girl?
I went to the zoo and they waited to say:
Have you been a good girl?
Well, why would I want to be bad at the zoo?
And should I be likely to see if I had?
So that’s why its funny of Mummy and Dad,
This asking and asking in case I was bad…Well, have you been a good girl, Jane?”

Rhyme and humor certainly get children’s attention.  But some books have lines and morals that stay with you for life.  My son called home from college one afternoon.  A classmate in one of his engineering classes had told the professor and class about what a bad day he had.  The professor replied, “Some days are like that”, to which my son added, “Even in Australia!”.  To my son’s amazement, no one else in the class got it.  Did you?  If not, its not too late to read Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.  But hurry!  Other must-reads for lines and morals include American folk tales, featuring such gems as “Don’t throw me in that briar patch”, which is actually a sly way to convince someone to do the very thing you want them to do.

Reading books aloud is a great way to teach your children to read.  As they hear stories that they enjoy repeated over time, they begin to decode and sound out some of the simple words.  When my older child learned how to read, her younger. very competitive brother memorized a simple book.  Every time big sister demonstrated or practiced her developing reading skills, he pulled that book off the shelf and performed. Reading aloud became such a comfort ritual in our house that when we faced a sudden loss of a loved one, the children (teens to young adults by then) gathered together with me while we read familiar childhood tales.

If you’ve also read to your family, share your story and favorite reads.  If you haven’t, give it a try!

“You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who read to me.”

(Strickland W. Gillilan, The Reading Mother.)


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In Time for the New Year

When I first composed this post, it was because of my children.  But I re-read it today and think its great advice for all of us as we get older.  And as the new year takes over, maybe this is the perfect time to shake things up a little and get out of our ruts. Too many New Year resolutions are plans to stop old habits.  Why not, instead, enrich your life by putting yourself out there and trying something new?

When you are a parent of a baby, even a short game of Peek-a-Boo has them look at you with stars in their eyes.  In all the stages, at all the ages, parents have the ability to bring on a look of wonderment or a sense of pride.  As they reach the adult stage, its not so easy.

Lately, I have stumbled upon a couple of opportunities to impress my children.  It isn’t the reason I chose my actions but I did learn to predict what they would find to be a source of amazement or pride.  Now, maybe this isn’t such a big deal to you.  After all, we aren’t supposed to be motivated by such pleasing our children, right?  Well, I’d agree if they were six and I was pleasing them by buying them their second milkshake in a row.  But my children are adults and actually, pretty awesome ones.  And what impresses them is something which I think we would benefit from.

So here is the secret:

Do the unexpected and try something new.

What is unexpected and/or new for you obviously might not be the same as someone else.  For me, the things that impressed my children lately include:

Started a blog.  I’d never tried it, didn’t know if there’d be anything of interest to anyone else or if I’d be able to pull it off.  So, I had expressed a desire to do something and followed through.  Score Mom.

Began taking Tai Chi classes.  This was really out of left field as far as my children knew, so I think I scored extra points not only for trying something new but sticking with it.  Points to Mom, plus the bonus.

Took art classes.    In the interest of honesty, I’ve not really taken the classes but have signed up.  But there’s not an artistic bone in my body, and according to my oldest child, its a healthy effort when ageing to do something right-brain if that’s not your strength or left-brain if it is.  Points to Mom for trying.

Made a bold purchase.   No, I won’t say what but some may think its controversial.  Its something I’ve wanted for a very long time and still a very surprising purchase.  No one else will probably ever know, but my son said I could be the “coolest” mom ever.   Score points, then double them for the “cool” comment.

So here’s the challenge.  Is there something you’d like to try but haven’t?  Make a call, check the web, and make an effort to try something new. For myself, I want to try one of the new boxing gyms that have sprung up around here and learn reiki massage techniques. Bring on 2013!  Happy New Year to all!


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A Couple of Hints from Forrest Gump and Me

Here’s what NOT to do:

Do not google the code of the blood test your doctor requests.  If you don’t have whatever it is, you’ll save yourself a lot of worry.  If you do have it, worry will find you anyway.

Here’s another thing NOT to do:

Do not make such wise insights after you’ve done the google search.

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Forrest Gump was right, “Life IS like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”  Bless his heart, though, he never realized that one box of candy can contain chocolates so rare and special that they make you want to cry or moan but also chocolates which were subjects of the latest food recall because of the nasty bacteria growing in them.


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Harvey’s Wisdom

“My 19 year old grandson is coming to visit”, he told me.  I had become very fond of this 92 year old man I’ll call Harvey.  He’s something special, so, since I have a daughter the same age as his grandson, I teased him that maybe they should meet.

“He’s bad news”, Harvey surprised me by saying.  “His mother is hoping I can straighten him out while he’s here”.  He grimaced and said, “My grandson told me that he plans to drive his Camaro here.”. Shaking his head, Harvey wryly shook his head, explaining his doubts that the car could make it to the end of the block.

“My grandson says he’s made some mistakes.  That’s all well and good; we all do.  But he makes the same mistakes over and over; that’s his problem. ‘But Granddad’, the boy replied after I told him that, ‘I’ve had a lot of bad breaks’”.   Harvey paused and explained that his son, his grandson’s father had  passed away a few years before.  That was one of the items on his “bad break” list.

“Do me a favor”, Harvey told his grandson.  “Before you come here, make me a written list of all your bad breaks.  I’m old and forgetful and I’ll do better with a written list.”  His grandson agreed to do so. “Next”, Granddad said, “Rip up the list and don’t bring it up again.  That’s yesterday and its time now to plan for tomorrow.”

Photo Not Available for Reproduction

“What will he do here?  Will he go to college?”  Conversation took a slight detour here while we discussed someone else who had been forced to join the military because the family hoped it would straighten him out.  Harvey, a career military man, said that some branches had quit accepting troubled kids and kids without a high school degree.

“No”, Harvey said, “The boy needs to find a job”.  Again, shaking his head, he said that he had suggested that the first thing the boy ought to do would be to apply to a local grocery store or superstore for a job. But, the grandfather had snorted, “The boy doesn’t want a job, he wants a ‘position’”. “He said he’s too smart for a job like that.  I clapped my hands together and said, ‘Son, that’s perfect!’”.

“If you are as smart as you say you are, you will stand out among all the dumb people you say work at these places.  Your manager will notice you fast and you won’t be long working at the starter position. But first, you need to get the job.  I worked in personnel for a long time in the military, and I’m telling you, you have nothing to offer an employer, outside of how “smart” you are. Right now, you have no skills, no special knowledge to offer. There are a lot of people like you out there looking for a job that are willing to work hard for their paycheck.”

It was obvious to me that the family holds Granddad in high regard to send a 19-year-old to him to help him get on the right path.

“How long do you think he’ll stay here?”, I asked Harvey, “Do you think he’ll revolt with your tough stance?”

“I don’t know”, he said sadly, “They ruined him”.  “We have a family business, and he got his share when his father died.  He has money from that and needs no paycheck to get by.  I was surprised and said that I thought it was more common to hold shares like that until the minor reached majority or even older.  He said that was more common and would have been better but he had no control over the way this was handled.  “You know”, he told me; “Rockefeller believed that leaving money to children was the surest way to ruin them.  But we’ll see”.


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Take the Risk!

Have you ever had a great idea?  Most of us do from time to time; you know, that moment when you think, “There ought to be a better way” and you see the better way?

When my children were playing sports, they always needed mouth guards; you know the kind.  At least in the early years, you molded them to fit your child’s mouth by dropping them in boiling water, then quickly putting in the mouth and having them bite down. It’s not a real fun piece of equipment.  Children lose them frequently.  My husband and I quickly learned to keep a couple mouth guards in the glove compartments of our cars.  Whether it was our child or someone else’s. we found ourselves restocking frequently.

Through field hockey, ice hockey, football and lacrosse, our battles with mouth guards continued. But I had an idea – a great one I thought.  These things are pretty nasty; what if we made them more appealing?  FLAVORS!!  I imagined flavored mouthguards – cherry, mint, bubble gum and more.  They’d be more pleasant to put in your mouth and there’d be a reason not to lose yours since you personally picked out your flavor.  My idea went further to imagine that they could be disposable.  Use them once or twice and then pitch them.  Or buy a bag of a certain flavor at a time.  But I never did anything with my idea.  I didn’t know how to start or where to look for help.

Then this weekend, we went to a local sporting goods story.  Do I need to tell you what was for sale on the end cap? Flavored mouth guards, of course!  For adults, for children in fruit punch, lemon, mint, orange and even bubble gum. My husband even bought one!  Check them out , at least they prove to me that my idea was a good one.
Have you ever had a good idea?  If so, remember my story and take a chance to pursue it.  You never know.


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It’s Mom Time!

I named this blog Facets of Lucy because we all have many sides, and I wanted to be flexible in using mine.  Only once have I done the mother-lecture thing (see Cash in Current Times ) .  But being a mother of four is an important part of who I am, even now that they are basically grown.  So its only fair that now and then, I share some of my maternal wisdom.

Maternal Wisdom of the Day:  Do what you dread, first.

This bit of advice goes against all natural instincts.  In college, it could be choosing between getting your homework done or going to the local pub with friends. I find for many of us, anything that requires us to put ourselves on the line is dreaded, like looking for a job, asking someone for a date ore even pushing the “enter” button sending that first blog post to cyberspace. At the office,  it could be a new task you aren’t sure how to start;    At home, it could be paying the bills or doing laundry . Like so many, I’ve had the desire to put off something which isn’t fun to do.  But I noticed something along the way – what you dread doing doesn’t go away.  The homework, the bills, the new assignment at work, they all will still need to be done no matter what else you choose to do first.  And that dread or guilt you feel knowing that its waiting for you can weigh you down and strip you of some of the satisfaction you’d otherwise have with whatever you do instead.

That’s why I tell my kids:  Do what you dread, first.  Dread can freeze you in place.  Get it out of the way.  It usually takes less time than you’d expect and the relief to be able to “check the block” is immense.  All the other activities you do after can be enjoyed freely without that heavy weight of “should have”.  Get it done, then have some fun!

Family Photo – Facets of Lucy