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Posts tagged ‘parenting’

Apples to Apples

She called me the other day to tell me that she had gone to her first cousin’s nursery.  As I mentioned in a previous article she loves flowers. It’s something that gives her peace, tranquility, and gives her a productive way to pass time. She was really excited about the availability of herbs there. She exclaimed happily, “there’s Rosemary, mint of all kinds, cooking herbs like basil and Sage – bushes and trees. Your heart will be happy when you see everything.”  Before I realized it we had been talking over the phone for over 20 minutes! The best part was that she could hear me. It was a two-way conversation. 🙂 She and I have not had very many two-way conversations in the last couple years. Her hearing has been slowly leaving her for the last 15 years. And over the last couple years it’s been so bad when she calls, she just tells me something, can’t hear my response, then she’ll just hang up when she’s finished talking. 

She’s in her eighties now.  She and I had a very rocky relationship for the first 20-25 years of my life. On my side it was a love/but-don’t-want-to-be-near-you thing from time to time & on her’s it was a love/frustration thing.  I’m quickly approaching my 40th birthday in a few days & maybe this is why I’ve chosen to write about her.  It’s therapy for me. It’s an understanding of who I was as well as who I am now.  I don’t think that 40 is old, but I’ve always thought of it as a halfway point in life. Now that I’m here, I realize how awesome she is and I was never able to see that before.

Edna Hensley

Mom, me and my brother – around 1980

By age 40 she had already lived a very eventful, energetic, entertaining and absolutely amazing life.  She taught herself to play guitar when she was about 10 years old by watching the older gentleman in town play. She was fiercely independent and generally self-taught in just about everything. She had worked on the farm, went out with her sisters, was a waitress at Blue Circle, and sewed at Standard Knitting Mill. She had a couple of short-lived marriages, experienced living independently, and enjoyed attention as an entertainer. She met Dad in a club (he was the entertaining musician of the night) & joined up with his talent to hit the road as an entertainer. She recorded in Nashville and was courted there by some big-time small names.  She used her resources & connections to boost & mold Dad’s career. When she realized some of the contractual deals he had made in the music industry, she took over and became his manager of sorts. She started negotiating his deals.  With her resources, resilience, and intellect they made a lucrative living.

She married  for the rest of her life, for better or for worse, in 1968. She was 33 years old. She had always wanted children but for some reason biologically could not bear any herself. She prayed and she had almost the entire city praying with her – that she would have children. And one day, in 1976, her prayers were answered.

There was a phone call from a lady that they knew on the south side of town. This lady said if you still want a child you can have my youngest, but you have to come and get him right now.  Dad went to pick up the ugliest baby boy in the world, who would become my brother. (If you ever read this dude, you know I love your ugly face.) They had him for several weeks when they received another phone call from another lady. This lady said to them, I’ve heard that you wanted a baby and I’m on my way to the XXXXXX Home for Children with both of mine. To make a long story short, this is where I come into the picture.  There’s an argument over whether I was two-and-a-half or three months old at the time, regardless I was a baby. I was a pretty sick baby, so she leaned toward my experienced Aunt Evlou to help for the first few nights.

At 40 years old she adopted my brother and I. At a point in her life when other people would be considering retirement, taking it easy, trying to finalize how they want to enjoy the empty nest years, she became a parent. I never gave it much thought in previous years, but now that I am approaching that very same age I realize what a heroic feat that was!

At this point in my life, I am very close to the empty nest years. I cannot image chasing a little one around and changing diapers at this age! Most of mine have moved away and I only have one teenager left at home (on a daily basis) – who will leave me soon I’m sure. I am considering the future, and how I would love to retire one day. I’m dreaming about buying an RV and traveling, or purchasing the boat my husband wants and sailing up & down the coast for a few years. I’m considering how I want to rearrange the rooms in the house and could create an office and workout/hobby room in those empty spaces. My Mom was considering how to convert a music studio into a nursery and buying formula, diapers, while seeking parental advice. I wake up in the middle of the night to text messages asking me for gas money; she woke up in the middle of the night to check on two infants breathing.

To be continued…

 

Bad Dog Park Etiquette

We have a 50 pound Labrador-Shar Pei mix pooch that we rescued almost 2 years ago from a local shelter. Since she’s a house dog we feel often times like she needs more exercise then what we are able to give her daily, so we frequently take her to a dog park or on outtings with us. Why do we go to such lengths? Because we love her, like a child… as one of the family.

IMAG5222 (Here she has new fallen show on her back.)

We were driving almost thirty miles or so to take her to a dog park on the opposite end of town until we discovered back in the fall that there is a good-sized well kept dog park that’s only about 5 minutes from home. We have frequented several times a month now and each time we go, the experience is a little different.

When we first started going to dog parks we had to learn some of the rules of etiquette. Just like any beginner would. We learned about picking up our dog’s poop, maintaining her composure and control, and appropriate social interactions. And I have to say that most dog owners on the opposite side of town were very welcoming, understanding, and congenial. We also learned that taking your dog’s personality and how they react in different situations into consideration is a must. I mean, this should be obvious to the average person with common sense, right?

Alright, that’s enough history for you. As with any other place there are regulars that come daily or weekly. Their dogs know each other and have developed some sort of friendship or acquaintance. Since the pet owners are regulars, I recognize them from time to time. We may not be on a first name basis but there is a familiar between all of us. It’s a beautiful Park, well kept and maintained. There are waste receptacles and poop bags readily available on every section of the park. It’s fenced in and there’s an awesome swimming pond on one section. Teeny tiny dogs have a lot to run in, medium sized dogs have a lot and really large dogs do as well. Medium and large dogs tend to mingle with each other and get along pretty well.

Occasionally you have that owner of a tiny dog who will try to bring their itty bitty dog into the big dog arena. It’s generally peaceful for the first five minutes. Then suddenly the teeny tiny dog will try to attack a huge dog and the owner of that small dog will get upset that the large dog defended itself. This is a pretty common thing. People who own small dogs know this but for some reason fall into the belief that their tiny dog will be well behaved around a huge dog. It is what it is. That’s not what this story is about.

Yesterday while at the dog park our 50 pound fixed female Labrador / Shar-Pei mix dog was attacked. Not by a tiny dog but by three dogs her size and a little bit larger. They were intact males. They were all curious about her one at a time and played with her one on one for a while. It was when they were all interested in her at the same time that things became volatile. One of these dogs was a pit, the other was a boxer, the other I have no idea.

The owners of these aggressive dogs were female. They stayed huddled around on the other side of the park, hands on hips, laughing and conversating with one another. Their dogs had been pooping everywhere and none of them bothered to stop their conversation to clean up. Their conversation continued completely uninterrupted as their dogs were beginning to growl and get aggressive with our dog. They couldn’t be bothered with something so trivial when their conversations were so important!

Now, just to be clear, this was happening literally at my feet. My dog came to me for comfort and protection because she was fearful. We were probably 25 to 30 feet away from the owners of the other dogs. They were looking in our direction but did not intervene. My husband, who had cleaned up after our dog, was walking back to the area where we were to intervene. Needless to say he was pretty angry. I had already been attempting voice commands to intervene but those aggressive dogs were not heeding my voice.

My husband tends to bring with him some amazing energy and it was obvious that he was not happy. The largest of the three ladies decided to waddle in our general direction to get her dog. She did not help or intervene though. She just stood there watching. My husband took control of our dog’s harness and led her to the gate to take her to another section of the park. Basically we were removing ourselves from the situation peacefully to protect ours. The boxer & the pit became increasingly agitated and the largest of the dogs that belonged to the largest of the women got on top of ours. Still this lady did not intervene or attempt to help. Bad etiquette indeed.

The owner of the two most aggressive dogs was smaller in stature and thought she could control them. Through verbal commands she attempted but failed. Her dogs made it through the fence with my husband and our dog. She was yelling and cussing & was obviously mad at us.

Now understand that we know it’s bad etiquette to allow another owner’s dog through the gate. We also could not control the situation and she wasn’t helping, so it was more an accident than anything. I even apologized to her when she should have been the one apologizing to me for neglecting her animals and allowing the situation to escalate.

My husband said some not-so-nice things to her as she was retrieving her dog. As she passed by me she gave me a hard stare eye to eye. The three ladies were obviously upset that their conversation had been so rudely interrupted and we continued to be the topic of their loud conversation as they pointed at us on the other side of the fence. More people with even larger dogs converged around them and began talking. While all these dog owners were conversating about how horrible we were, the original three aggressive dogs broke out in a dogfight with the other people’s dogs. I’ll admit, I had to snicker a bit.

The craziest thing was that I recognized the smaller, more petite lady who was trying to control the two most aggressive dogs. I know her. She dated my brother. I went to school with her. We are friends on Facebook. She didn’t recognize me. I didn’t care. I did not have a high opinion of her when we were young. Obviously I do not have a high opinion of her now. Isn’t it funny how the world goes around?  I’ve always thought people could change, but the more I consider it, I am second guessing this idea now. And on the off chance she may ever read this article, here is a link about Dog Park Etiquette. Oh, and this is a great article too!

 

When “Good Enough” Just Has To Do

When the kids were in school, I thought keeping the house in order and clean was pretty easy since we’ve moved back home. Then summer vacation rolled around and each of the three boys were seemingly always running in three different directions. They were not home much, thus the house keeping part of life remained pretty simple. I missed them. I wished they’d hang out at home at least a little so I could see them. The cat even missed them…until they came home & fashioned him a skirt!
image

In the last couple of weeks the boys have not been running as much though, so they have been home a lot. Although I’ve been happy to share time with them, the house is a terrible mess. I continue my regimen though, trying to clean each room once a day. Not every room actually gets touched though due to the driving around errands that they, my husband, or my parents send me on.

A few days ago, I took an observatory look around to assess the status of the house and determined that something had to give.

  • The laundry room was surprisingly “good enough” but the cleaned clothes had not been folded and put away, still hanging out in club Fold Me (a basket) and the un-mated socks were laying on the folding table mocking me.
  • The living room had become the Music Den.
    image

Two electric guitars were propped against the big picture window, an acoustic guitar was propped by the couch (as though it was watching TV), and an amplifier had become a new type of coffee table holding a drink, book, and several picks. Head phones were strung out on the couch and the TV and DVR remotes were missing. The wah-wah pedal was strategically placed so that any unsuspecting visitor would break their neck.

  • My bathroom shower/tub needed a super good scrubbing 😦 The toilet paper roll was missing and in its place a card board roller stared back at me as if to say “the boys have been here…drip dry lady!”
  • The boys’ bathroom had a rather large yellow puddle in the floor near the toilet and their sink was covered in toothpaste. (At least they are brushing their teeth…sigh*)
  • The kitchen…was a casualty of war. It being the most consistently frequented room had suffered the most damage. The trash can was over flowing, the floor had tea, sugar, and other unidentifiable droplets of liquid on the floor. Bread crumbs and jelly covered the table, the toaster was plugged in sitting on the table, and a phone charger dangled from the wall. The counter and both sides of the sink were full of dirty dishes and several cooking pots had a strange crusted substance clinging to them. Upon opening the microwave, I discovered splattered dry goo. Every coffee cup was dirty and the 2 loaves of bread I had bought the evening before were reduced to simply 2 end pieces that only starving people eat.
  • The front porch had become the new home of the long forgotten dirty shoes that no one wanted to clean off and the dog was strangely clinging to the door step rug.

I took a deep breath, got wound up, fussed some, yelled a bit, and scattered the kids to their room. (Their rooms are another story all together. I won’t even describe those.)

I’ve decided summer is officially canceled at this point.

Let the cleaning begin!

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Stuff Dad Said

Father’s Day is right around the corner literally and I actual went to visit my Dad yesterday. We live very close to each other, but I guess I just am busy with my life and he with his, so we don’t get to visit with each other much. Anyway, while on this trip to see Mom and Dad, I started thinking about things he use to say to my brother and I when we were young.

He has a great sense of humor and loves to laugh, although he isn’t the best at joke telling himself. He has a very outgoing personality and at times my mother has hidden from everyone in embarrassment at his very open and comfortable presence. (Check out this video to see how impulsively fun he is in public.) I love that about him though!!

Dad never was one much for profanity. He is a baby boomer born in 1945. He had a few different careers early in life even though he only had a 4th grade education, was drafted to Vietnam, married my mother when he returned home, became an entrepreneur, was and still is a talented musician, writer, vocal artist, and adopted my brother and I in the 70’s. In 1991 he dove into pastoring the church and has served the ministry since full-time. Rarely did a curse word ever leave his lips, but he did incorporate some slang into his vocabulary from time to time. He would also throw in a few words he thought were “hip” or “cool” from time to time.

Dad, although I know you are not on the internet and will probably never be – here is a tribute to you and the nutty stuff you use to say (and still do).

Got cotton in your ears? That wind’ll fool ya!

There’s a fine line between faith and foolishness sister…and we’re on the line here!

Know what I’m say’n? Do ya dig me?

Sis, stop that! You’re a girl!

Trust me, it’ll taste good…

Fetch your brother for me.

This here’s a little trick I learnt in ‘Nam.

Flip!!!!!! (This word would follow his hammer hitting his thumb.)

Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doin’.

I get the gist of it.

Would you like for me to help you clean your plate? (said with a big hopeful grin)

Now, put this in your spirit… (Insert Advice Here)

Chris, do you ever get tired of talking?

Are you gonna eat that?

Truth in the house! (Always said in church instead of Amen.)

Come to church sometime (said to everyone he ever ran into…ever)

I’m pick’n… (this was followed by an awkward pause until you say “And I’m a grin’n”)

Always keep your foot on the rock and your mind made up (This was code for I hid some money for you under a rock that your mom doesn’t know about.)

Got everything covered? (Code for do you need any money.)

Now get this, …(Insert random comment)

Are you reading me?

If you ever hit your sister, you’ll have to deal with me.

Jesus never asked someone to take a shower or put on deodorant before he saved ’em.

Your mom said go to bed on time, so could you be quiet enough that she thinks you’re asleep?

I did it, it was me. (Proudly proclaimed every time mom found something us kids broke, to save us from the wrath of mom.)

You gotta love people where they’re at.

Maybe my dad was 1 in a million? I think so and I thank God for sending me and my  brother to him. I know his life changed after we entered the picture and I appreciate the sacrifices he and mom made for us.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy. I love you!!

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