Our Feathered Friends–A Field Trip Story

Today we took a field trip down to Go Fish for a class.  Cooter and our Princess enjoy these classes, as do I.  They do a really good job of combining learning and fun in the classroom there, and the facility itself with the amazing aquarium and fully stocked pond for fishing is one of our area’s best kept secrets.  So many opportunities for education and adventure all in one place.

The class this morning was about Our Feathered Friends.  One of the teachers asked the children about characteristics of birds that most or all have in common.  Wings, hollow bones (except for the common loon, I learned something today), and beaks were a few of the things mentioned.

Then Cooter raised his hand, and she called on him.  I was sitting in the same room but not close enough to have assessed what his response was going to be in advance.  His answer to the question about what characteristics most or all birds have was:  “They’re good cookin’.”

She and the other educator looked at each other, confused.  “They’re good cooks? Birds can cook?”

Not daunted by the misunderstanding, my little guy shook his head no, and restated his answer, “They’re good.  Cooked.  They’re good cooked.  Tasty.”

Welp.  Okay then.

The teachers and other moms in the room laughed.  I shook my head and reminded myself about who my son is.

The class clown of Zoo Crew Academy, ladies and gentlemen.  He’s here for the next eight years.  Thank you.  



The next activity involved using different things that had been put together to look and act like different types of bird beaks–the hummingbird, the pelican, the wider beaked birds, and the tiny little pointed ones.  It was interesting as the children tried the different “beaks” to pick up “fish” from the water, or the nectar, birdseeds, or “worms” in the sand.  The children discussed which beaks were best for each type of food.

When they finished with that, the instructors, who are vibrant and fun and have great senses of humor (thankfully) and who seem to really enjoy the children, brought around two live chickens who were hatched during the Fair about a month ago.  They were of good size, though not full-grown.  As Cooter and Princess were petting one of the chicks, my girl commented that she’d love to have that chicken at our house and how its feathers were so soft like a kitten.  The teacher agreed.  “Yes, I’d love to take it home with me.”


Our Princess kept loving on the chick, “Can you imagine?  Eggs whenever you wanted.  You’d never have to go to the store to get them.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast everyday!”

The teacher smiled and nodded.  “That would be good.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast–I’d love that.  But I’d need the chicken to cook them for me too.”

My girl didn’t miss a beat.  She looked at her teacher and said, “But that’s what your husband is for.”

For. The. Love.

The teacher laughed, “I love that.”

And so do I.

That our Princess lives a life where, if the wife isn’t able to scramble the eggs, it is just assumed that the husband would jump in and do it.

I mean, why not, right?   So thankful for the world she lives in, what she believes, and the story that is hers.

Tonight I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunities to share in the learning with my children.  I am so appreciative of the time and energy these fantastic folks put into planning a great and interesting program for the children, and I’m glad we have such an amazing place to learn just a little bit down the road.  I love that I get to learn alongside my children.  Most of all, I’m grateful for their precious spirits–wonky sense of humor and all–and how they see the world.  Their laughter is more than infectious, it’s light pouring out from their souls and changing the world for the better.

May we all share a laugh and pour a little light into the world today.

Love to all.



Delta Dawn and Earworms

Isn’t it interesting to hear songs now that you once sang out loud as a child?  Does it ever make you cringe that you sang it, not knowing what the lyrics meant?

So many songs from all those years ago I can still remember the lyrics to.  One of my favorite radio stations is the 80’s one.  (It makes Cooter crazy, which gets quite comical at times.)  When I hear one of the songs from way back when, and the lyrics all come flooding back without me even thinking, it amazes me.  And sometimes is a little embarrassing.

And then there are the times one comes along and gets stuck.  In my head.  All day long.  I think they call them earworms now, but back then, we’d just walk around complaining, “I have a song STUCK IN MY HEAD, and I can’t get it out.”

I don’t know how old I was when Daddy came up with the solution, but it seems like it’s been a part of our story for as long as I can remember.

“Sing Delta Dawn.  It will break up that song stuck in your head.”

And he was right.

Tonight I was thinking about that, and trying to remember who sang it originally.  After realizing it was not Helen Reddy, I remembered it was a very, very young Tanya Tucker.  I finally decided to look it up, and the cool thing is they both sang it.  (My memory is a little better than I thought, which is very encouraging after the week I’ve had.)  Tanya Tucker had a top ten country hit with it in 1972, and then Helen Reddy had a #1 hit with it in 1973.  And here’s what I found out that I had never known–Bette Midler also recorded it, and she planned to release it, but Helen Reddy’s version came out two days earlier.


Bette Midler?  Delta Dawn?

Fascinating, but the truth is I couldn’t get through a whole stanza of her version.  VERY different, and just not the Delta Dawn I grew up with.

Except now I’m afraid the little bit I listened to of her version is my newest ear worm.

“Daddy, what happens if I sing ‘Delta Dawn’ and get rid of the song stuck in my head, but then Delta Dawn gets stuck in there?”

I don’t remember his exact answer, but I think it had something to do with it being a good song, so it would be okay, or it would eventually fade or something like that.

And so now, I guess I’ll do just that.  Go to sleep with a very slow version of ‘Delta Dawn’ in my head.  Unless Tanya and Helen can help me out.

What do you do to get rid of your earworms?

Tonight I’m thankful for this memory of my Daddy that made me smile.  I wonder what he’d think of Bette Midler’s version, but I’m pretty sure I already know.

May we all have a day of only the really good songs getting stuck…..

Love to all.



Click here for the link to the YouTube video of Helen Reddy’s version

Here for Tanya Tucker’s version

and finally, here for the Bette Midler one


casserole kindness

the phone call came in the midst of the chaos
and hearts aching and tears
and all of the planning and rushing around
flowers, words written, songs chosen,
people coming and going
and no time to settle down and breathe
or think
or grieve

the phone call saying, “I’ve got this”
and “What time works best for you?”
such a little thing to some, maybe
but for us,
it was everything

supper was coming
and for a few moments
we–the new widow, the children, spouses,
and grands
we all could be together
and gather around the casserole dish
filled with loving goodness
and give thanks for the hands that prepared it
the loving spirit
who stepped outside of her own world
and showed up in ours

though she was plenty busy herself

because that’s what love does
it shows up
in the midst of sorrow and joy
and it sits with folks where they are
and takes their hands and holds on tight

the dumplings were so good
and gone way too fast
but the memory of that meal,
of the love from someone who didn’t have to,
who had many excuses not to,
that radical hospitality
and loving on folks
will never be forgotten

casseroles and covered dishes
speak a love language all their own,
healing hearts and
lifting spirits,
if only for a moment or two,
filling the darkness with a light
that feeds our souls

for that casserole
and the hands that made it
four years later

with a grateful heart


Drive Thru Open

This evening on the way home from swim practice, we passed the Taco Bell not too far from our house.  I noticed it was closed the other day–for remodeling, I finally figured out.  The work truck parked outside was a pretty good clue.

Tonight their marquee said, “Drive Thru Open.”


What amazes me is that this is the second sign like this that I have seen in the past couple of weeks.  The Arby’s across town was being renovated and rejuvenated in a big way, and their sign also indicated you could pull through and get your supper fix.

Even with the wires hanging from the removed ceiling tiles and ladders propped up inside and the doors wide open for easy access for the workers.

But still, they were cooking back there.

I suppose I should comment on their tenacious, go get ’em spirit.  That they are carrying on as usual despite all the “bumps” and ladders in the road.

I might should, but I’m not.

Sometimes, folks, we just need to shut down for a day or three.  If things get to the point where we need renovation, rejuvenation, and healing, the time has come to shut things down so all of that can happen and happen well.

Not some rush, half-way job while trying to keep things going anyway.  There are no good shortcuts when it comes to healing.

The folks that love us will be patient and will be there when we open the doors again.

May we all have the strength to be weak and allow our souls the time they need to replenish.

Love to all.


It’s not our Taco Bell, because I was driving and couldn’t get a shot, but well, you see one, you’ve pretty much seen them all….. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3A2015-04-17_21_17_00_Taco_Bell_restaurant_at_night_along_Mountain_City_Highway_(Nevada_State_Route_225)_in_Elko%2C_Nevada.jpg

the days of my life

there have been days on this journey that were very well suited for an Afterschool Special,
complete with lesson and resolution in thirty minutes or less
with ALL the awkward moments

other chapters of my story would have won awards as a Lifetime movie,
with drama and suspense and betrayal and hurt and good versus evil

and then there are the bits that would require lots of tissues and
leave one feeling as good as those movies Hallmark makes,
all the warm fuzzies and love and twinkly lights

I’ve lived through my own versions of “What Not to Wear” and “Chopped”
and there’ve been days of being voted off my very own island
but I’ve always been a Survivor

much of the time it’s been a sitcom though–
“I might have said that. I say a lot of things.”
“People aren’t mail.”
“…..but look how nice you made yourself look for me.”
“Couldn’t even if I wanted to.”
with all the laughter or conversations over coffee
and life with the fun and zany

from the days like those on the soaps that seem to go on forever
to the moments that, like sand in an hourglass, pass all too quickly–
some relationships get cancelled quickly for good reason and I have to move beyond
while still others are rivaling Frasier for longevity of character and winning awards left and right

in the end, this story I live has its mundane moments seemingly more about nothing than an episode of Seinfeld
and yet so many over the years
have been more educational than Schoolhouse rock
and near about as memorable as Linus’ monologue
in the Peanuts’ Halloween special

as I reflect back over the years
and I watch the world today,
I realize that maybe we spend too much time
worrying over things like “Who shot JR?”
and not enough on why Oscar is so grouchy

and if we could help him by listening

all these years, all the years to come–
through all the hills, streets, blues, and joys,
it’s been one Amazing Race

and I am thankful


“1950’s television”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1950%27s_television.jpg#/media/File:1950%27s_television.jpg


Watching Her Become

We’ve been excited about tomorrow for MONTHS.  And now, it’s finally here.

Our Princess’ 11th birthday.

Standing on the precipice of growing up and staying small, of childhood and adulthood, of elementary school and middle, of little girl and young woman, of joy-filled wonder and emotional angst, she is a sister and friend and daughter and student and swimmer and dancer and gymnast and pianist and scooter rider and ball tosser and bicyclist and laugher at jokes and unloader of dishwasher and our imagination-run-wild gift from God.

She is.  A blessing.

Born in Japan, she surprised us two weeks early.  I barely had my bag packed, but it was enough so that I was able to grab it and drive myself and Aub to the hospital when my water broke.  The funny thing is I felt no fear.  Each morning when I changed her diaper in those early months, I would say out loud to her, with her: “Thank you, God, for another day.”  And we would laugh together.

Her name is an old English name meaning joy or happiness.  Spelled differently, it’s also the middle name of one of my favorite cousins.  She carries her name well.  For the most part, she is a loving and affectionate child who loves hugs and laughter and games and being with people she loves.  And Minecraft.  How she loves Minecraft.  Other times, when she’s not so loving, well, she’s a Scorpio.  Watch out for that.  When her voice deepens (and it’s laughable if it’s not your name she’s saying), someone is in deep trouble.  And she knows how to let loose and do some correcting.

We recently saw an old video of her and Cooter on his first birthday.  We were all encouraging him to dig into his little mini-cake.  She was bouncing around talking about cake and wanting some, but when he went for it, and we all got excited, her voice deepened, and she immediately started reprimanding him in her three-year old voice: “Cooter, no!  Do not do that.  Mama, he is making a mess!”

And so it is.  To this day.  She’s his best friend and his third Mama all rolled into one.

She has her own sense of style and is unapologetic as she somehow pulls off the oddest of combinations.  I’m envious and a little bit in awe of that.  She has a very strong sense of justice.  Don’t let that sweet face and smile and twinkling eyes fool you.  Say something to her that lets her know you don’t see women as equally capable of living life, and she will. LET. LOOSE.  All the madness.  I do hope she will see a competent woman President in her lifetime, because as we are studying government and elections, she is about to lose her mind over this issue.  She is constantly checking with me to make sure no one is leaving any other group out.  When she senses injustice, something she just cannot fathom, it upsets our whole home because she carries it with her constantly.

Tonight I’m thankful for this next chapter in our girl’s story.  What a beautiful unfolding of her soul we get to see.  The one who came into this world loving pink and dresses and dancing and playing dressup is growing into someone who still loves those things but also loves jeans and hoodies and blue and purple and dressing up as real people who have made a difference in this world.  She talks about traveling and being in the Olympics or coaching or teaching or being a Mama or all of these things.  Our girl already knows where she is going to college and is ready for me to make a room deposit for her at the “Oldest and the Best,” where her Maemae, her sister, and I all learned.  She dreams of a day when race and gender don’t matter, that a good heart is seen only for that, and of the day when food allergies will be cured.  She loves biographies and Harry Potter and books about fairies, and each night when I sit in the quiet house, I hear a creak that means she’s gone into the library searching out another book to help her fall asleep.  She is a beautiful, unique soul whom I get to love and learn from up close and personal.

And for that I am most thankful.

Happy birthday, baby girl!  May it be the best one ever. yet. always.  Love you mostest.

Love to all.

Just for fun, a sample of the art in our birthday girl’s room, which shows her beautiful and complex spirit.  

Her spirit flies and soars and fills our home with love and laughter and a lot of wonder.

Her spirit flies and soars and fills our home with love and laughter and a lot of wonder.

A Christmas gift from her big sister last year I think.  She loved it, because Disney and all those movies--her FAVORITES.

A Christmas gift from her big sister last year I think. She loved it, because Disney and all those movies–her FAVORITES.

A gift from our cousin who shared a birthday with our Princess.  She actually wanted our girl to be born on her birthday.  And so it was.

A gift from our cousin who shared a birthday with our Princess. She actually wanted our girl to be born on her birthday. And so it was.

A gift from the brush of her big sister, with whom she shares a love of all things Potter.

A gift from the brush of her big sister, with whom she shares a love of all things Potter.

This year's gift from her big sister, just given early tonight by her "returning to college" sister.  This one melts MY heart.

This year’s gift from her big sister, just given early tonight by her “returning to college” sister. This one melts MY heart.

The One About the Quiet

Being sick is a really bad experience.  With this MonsterBug2015 that has gone through our house, the one thing that we have had to do first and foremost is SLOW DOWN.  We’ve stayed home and we’ve had time of doing absolutely nothing, so our bodies could heal.  And in some of those moments, something really cool has happened.

Stillness.  In the quiet, hearing becomes clearer.  Thoughts aren’t so jumbled.  Neither are the calendars or the stress.

I’m not thankful for being sick by any means.  I wish I could go back about two or three weeks or so and wipe out those germs before they had a chance to grab hold of my family and turn our world upside down.  But it has been in the being sick that I have been reminded of the beauty of stillness, the beauty of the quiet.  The beauty of listening.


dawn’s early light

the dawn’s early light holds out a new kind of beauty
and fragile hope
for the Mama who stayed up through the night with a sick child
and for the Dad who waited for a call from his son who was where the news said wasn’t safe
and for the man from the streets who found shelter in the woods during the cold, wet, and rainy night

as the first streaks of light break through the darkness
each breathes a sigh of relief
with quiet gratitude

a new day
a new beginning
perhaps this day, all could be well again

Joy Engelman [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Joy Engelman [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Last Gift My Daddy Gave Me

There’s this thing on Facebook where nearly every morning I am greeted with a “memory” from one of the past four years, with the option to see all of my memories from this day in each year past.

This morning the face of my sweet cousin-in-law, who was pregnant in the picture from four years ago, started my day.  I smiled to think that just over four years ago we were at one of our family’s Fall Hootenannies and Turkey Egg Hunts.  And then I remembered.

As if I could really forget what this time of year was about four years ago and again two years ago.  It would be impossible enough to forget without Facebook’s prompting, but with it, I’m there.  Again.

Four years ago, my Daddy wasn’t doing so well.  He was worn out from his long battle with the Giant–Lymphoma.  It had taken away so much from him, but not his spirit.  And yet, he was growing weary.  When we talked about the upcoming gathering at his sister’s house about an hour or so north of here, he encouraged me to go.  Whether I wanted to admit it to myself or not, I knew things were changing.  I don’t think I realized just how short the time we had left together would be, but I knew Daddy was not healing as we had hoped.

It was the first Saturday in November, and my sisters had talked about coming down and being with Mama and Daddy for the day.  I thought I should be there too, but Daddy said no.  He thought I should go to see my aunts and uncles and cousins and let my children play and for us to have a great time as always.

Go, he said.  I’ll still be here.

Oh, Daddy.

Little did any of us realize at that gathering that exactly two weeks later, we’d be gathered in my Mama’s yard, not in the comfortable fall wear from before but in stiff shoes, shined bright, and slacks and dresses and combed hair.  We’d be loading up in cars to make the drive out to the little cemetery by the old church, where the gravestones read like our family tree.  And now there would be one more.

I though back on that today–Daddy sending me for a day of normal.  A day of extraordinary ordinary time with family.  His family.  Our people.  What a gift he gave me.  I think he was sending me to the arms of the ones he knew would carry me through the years to come.  He knew, my Daddy did, that time was short.  But he also knew that time would become long, and we would need each other to laugh and cry with, to celebrate and grieve with, and to share our stories.

Upon reflection, I look at Daddy and the way he lived and what he shared with me, and I realize that the greatest gift we can give our children is the chance to live a good story.  Multitudes of them, in fact.  They don’t have to be outstanding, but there’s nothing like a good story.  My Daddy lived them, he shared them, and he raised us smack dab in the middle of many a good story.  The next greatest gift we can leave our children is folks to share those stories with–whether family or friends or folks who are both.

And that’s what my Daddy was doing that day.  He wanted me and mine to have one more good story to put in our books.  He wanted us to be with those who share in so many of our stories, and who would walk with us through the hardest one of all.

In “An Affair to Remember” Deborah Kerr’s character says to Cary Grant’s:


Tonight I’m thankful for the warm memories that come to me just as the coldest time of year is about to be upon us.  I’m thankful for the stories I’ve heard and the stories I’ve lived, and for the storytellers who raised me to appreciate both.  Tonight I marvel at the man who looked at me that day and knew exactly what I needed, and despite where he was on his journey, was unselfish and encouraged me to make that happen.  From the moment I took my first breath until the moment he took his last, he was the best Daddy that ever was, and in his wisdom, one of the last things he did was remind me to turn to our stories and the people in them for warmth and comfort and love.

Giving thanks for the memories…..

Love to all.

The New Thing Cooter Says

Cooter tickles me.

He can also frustrate me to no end, but that’s a story for another time.

He can be such a little old man in his eight year old body.  He is trying to figure out who he is and where he is headed in our world, our community, but mostly right here in our very own house and family.  With Mama and two big sisters and a female dog and cat, he and the Fella are outnumbered.

My little guy can get overwrought sometimes–like when he wishes his sister would play with him instead of “her friends” *insert his eye roll here* or when he misses his oldest sister away at college or when I go too many days between serving foods from his favorite food group–the “beige” one–and he’s soooooo hungry.

Bless.  Just bless him.

But sometimes he surprises me with his adaptability.  Or agreeability.  Often it’s a little of both, or it’s that he is trying to play it cool and doesn’t want me to know how much he likes what I’ve just said.  Whatever it is, he has a new mantra.

Cooter’s new words that he tends to say in response multiple times a day are:

“Yeah. Sure. Why not?”

Very often a shrug is thrown in there for good measure.

“Hey Cooter, you want to run in the grocery store with me while your sisters wait in the car?”

“Yeah, sure.  Why not?”

“Hey Cooter, you up for a sandwich from CFA for supper?”

“Yeah, sure.  Why not?”

“Hey buddy, wanna walk with me while I take Sophie out?”

“Yeah, sure.  Why not?”

Instead of this being a sarcastic reply or the least bit flippant, he actually pauses in serious thought before he offers this answer.  His tone carries a lilt of genuineness, with the emphasis on the ‘why not’ bit.  As in well, sure, why wouldn’t I want to join you in the store, Mama?  I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do than be with you as you tackle that list you forgot to bring with you.  Again.

Okay, maybe that last bit was slightly exaggerated, but still–when he says “yeah, sure, why not?” it tickles my soul and gladdens my heart, because even though he’s trying to be too cool to get REALLY excited about something, that little bit of nonchalance is merely masking his true heart.  Goodness knows that boy knows how to say NO a hundred different ways if that were his answer.  Rest assured if you hear him say these new words, what he’s really saying deep down is, “Yes, thank you, that sounds GREAT!”

Maybe he’s trying to balance out his sister, our Princess, whose reactions can vary from “BEST. DAY. EVER” to “yes yes yes yes yes oh please yes thankyousomuch I can’t wait” to “I love this so much, and isn’t it the greatest thing you’ve ever seen?”

Personalities are fascinating, aren’t they?  I don’t know if they could be any more different.

Still I think both responses serve them well.  I’ve always loved our girl’s enthusiasm, and now I’m gaining a whole new appreciation for Cooter’s laid back vibe.

May we all be willing to look at something right in front of us and say, “Yeah, sure.  Why not?”  Who knows, it just might lead to our “BEST DAY EVER!”

Love to all.

Cooter in a tractor wheel? Yeah, sure.  Why not?

Cooter in a tractor tire? Yeah, sure. Why not?