Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be . . . TOO BUSY!!!

Can I pass along a thought to some younger Moms out there that might be reading this?  Moms who still have some “chicks” in their proverbial “nests?”  I’m feeling a rumble in the distance, and I think it’s the start of the stampede of parents and their kids to all the activities that will be starting now that school has just gotten underway for another year.  Yesterday was the first day of school in our county and we live just down the road from our local middle school.  I saw lots of parents taking their kids to school, perfect backpacks on their sweet little backs.  Soon to be filled with so many books, they’ll need a chiropractic adjustment by the end of the week.  It makes me miss those days with my own kids on one hand, and on the other, I’m happy to be through those years and on to the next season!  (The math was already getting way too hard for me when they were in about the 4th grade, so it’s a good thing mine are grown up!)

So here’s my sage advice:  Don’t succumb to our culture that says you have to have your child signed up for an activity every day after school and three on Saturdays.  I know that no parent intentionally sets out to stress out their own children and there are so many great clubs, activities, opportunites now-a-days (oh my, I said “now-a-days” – old folks like me say that).  All parents want to provide the best for their kids, want to let them experience a wide variety of things so they can “find their niche.”  But I’m afraid in the process of wanting to be really great parents, we’ve become a culture of stressed out, over-busy, “hurry-up-we-gotta-go!” type people and our kids are not getting better for it, they’re just learning that running around like a chicken with no head trying to do everything is “normal.”  Not even just normal, but it seems to be coveted.  It’s almost become a badge of honor:  “And our ‘Most Harried Mother of the Year’ award goes to . . . . . . ”   Don’t buy it, Mamas!!  And lest you think I consider that I did this perfectly, au contraire!  Mine are all grown up now, but I spent many a year hurrying kids into the family mini-van, peanutbutter sandwich in hand, shoes untied (once we even drove to a destination three hours away and realized Teddy didn’t even have his shoes with him!)

We don’t get many Christmas letters anymore, the popular thing (now-a-days) seems to be a family photo with a pre-printed greeting.  But for years and years I swear the same family wrote every Christmas letter we got.  Everyone was so busy.  And then you’d get to read about what each family member did to contribute to the overall busy-ness of the group as a whole.  It honestly seemed like a competition to see who led the busiest lives.

I have the priveledge of seeing a few kids for piano lessons each week.  Sometimes I want to just grab their exhausted little faces (face-grabbing, where have I heard that before?) and tell them to “chill out” (as much as I don’t like that phrase.) I struggle with the  constant conflict of a.) getting irritated that they don’t practice their lesson, and b.) the realization that they are trying to juggle school and scouts and sports and clubs and piano, all with their puny little arms.

I don’t want anyone to come away from this feeling “scolded” for having your kids in lots of activities.  I just want to say to you, it’s OK to NOT have your kids signed up for a million things. Before you know it, you’ll be old(er) like me and you’ll be watching the neighbor kids go off to school, remembering when your own were doing the same.  Soak up this time with them.

Mothers & Daughters · Uncategorized

Grab someone’s face today.

Here I am . . . home, or am I . . . merely “back?”  It feels like “home” when I’m in Wisconsin, but then again, home has been South Florida for the past 17 years.  At any rate, I’m writing this to you from my kitchen in hot, sticky, humid, pretty-darn-mildewy Florida. But enough about the weather, I wanted to encourage you to grab someone’s face today!  Before I go any further, please enjoy this sweet pic of Winnie grabbing her own face:Face-grab Winnie

I’ve had a couple of face-grabbing experiences over the summer and it occurred to me it was something pretty special.  I wish I would have done more of it in the past and am convicted to grab more faces henceforth.

I just spent a few weeks in my hometown of Washburn, Wisconsin (probably the best place on earth) and spent a good bit of time with my 92 year-old Mom.  She lives in an assisted living facility there where she is looked over by a wonderful staff.  Want to see a picture of her?  Here she is just after we went out for a “stroll” (stroll is in quotes because it involves me pushing her in her wheelchair.  Not exactly level streets, mind you.  It’s an effort to push her up the street and then a task to make sure I don’t lose my grip when we’re headed back down.)  She loves fresh flowers so we picked a sweet little posey.

GG with flowers
Lookin’ like a movie star in her shades.

It’s not really easy to hang out with my Mom.  She’s very hard of hearing, so you have to shout and you can count on having to repeat almost everything you say 3 to 4 times.  God forbid you want to ask her something that requires discretion; speaking in a hushed tone is not going to work with her. And it’s hard work getting her in and out of a car (you can actually hear her bones knocking against each other in her knees. Oh, the thought makes my stomach flop) but she absolutely loves to “go for a ride,” so struggle we did, so she could enjoy the beautiful summer.

Something else my Mom loves is to hear my sister and me play the piano.  I should add that my sister, Chris (Chrissie to me) is really good at playing the piano and I’m just . . well, I like to say I’m “pretty good at being a fairly average piano player.”  There’s an out-of-tune piano in the dining room where my Mom lives and several times we’d play and our Mom would sing along.  We’d go from “Amazing Grace” to “Beer Barrel Polka” just like that!  (Honestly, in Wisconsin The Beer Barrel Polka is considered a sacred song, I think.  I’m fairly certain even the most devout church-goer would not be offended by a rousing round of Roll Out the Barrel, even at the most reverent of moments!)

When it came time to say good-bye to my Mom for the summer (she “walked” Kevin and me to the door when it was time to leave), I got down in front of her to hug her and give her a kiss. (I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about this – every year I wonder if this is the last time I’ll do this.)  She grabbed my face in her hands and looked straight into my eyes and told me how much she loved me.  After a summer of being exhausted from strenuous walks, listening to bones crunch and shouting in her “good” ear, that all went away in that single face-grabbing moment and all I knew was my Mom loved me.  I felt like a little girl.  Of course, I cried as we slipped out the door,  still feeling her cool hands on my cheeks.

Flash forward a bit to just a couple of days ago.  My daughter, Maria, was dropping me off at the airport to come home . . or . . back.  I had just had a complete meltdown with Winnie (Olive was napping so she was spared this mess) on the kitchen floor as we said good-bye to each other.  Winnie feels her feelings very strongly and lets it all out – I love that about her.  But, man, when she cries and says, “I don’t want you to go, Maga!” and throws her arms around my neck, I’m completely undone. But I had recovered on the 30 minute ride to the airport.

As we were pulling up to the drop-your-person-off area, I spotted another Grandma getting dropped off by her daughter.  This Grandma was little farther down “Maga Road” than I (I noted her grandkids to be about 8 and 10 years old).  As we got my bags out of the back, I looked over to my “sister in Maga-hood.”  She had properly hugged the kids and now was saying good-bye to her daughter, her daughter a bit older than my own.  She had her daughter’s face grabbed in her hands and was telling her something up close.  The daughter was crying and I so wanted to know what her Mother was telling her. It was a sweet moment and I felt a bit ashamed being the voyeur, but  I’d like to think she was telling her daughter to hang in there!  “You’re doing a great job with these kids!  I know it’s tough, but just keep at it.  They’re going to be grown-up before you know it and you’ll wonder where on earth the time has gone.” Things I should say to my own daughter more often as she’s in the throes of child-rearing right now.

So let me do that right now!  I’m doing a virtual face-grab – to my own sweet Maria and any other Mama out there who’s wondering if there’s life after toddlerhood.  You can do it!  Maria – you are the sweetest, most gentle soul I know and those girls are beyond blessed to have you as their Mother.  I know there are more trying moments than easy ones right now and you’re wondering if or when on earth your kids are going to “rise up and call you blessed.” (Oh, that Proverbs 31 woman and her to-do list!!)  Just keep on keepin’ on!  You can’t even imagine the rewards coming your way!  *smooch*  (A face-grab is best followed up with a kiss.)

In closing, I’d like to sing this:  “Oh, give me a home, where the small children roam, where the Barbie’s and toy horses play!  Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the dishes stay dirty all day!”

I love you Mom.  I love you Maria. Considered both of your faces grabbed!


Trying new things

Hakuna Matata.


So I was wondering, do you have any tattoos??  If you’re a person about my age (I’m 53, wellllll closer to 54, actually) chances are you don’t.  And chances are pretty good you might have grown up kids that do.  I just recently discovered my 24-year-old son is the proud wearer of two.  That’s a whole other story, but let’s stick to this one for now.

Every now and then I just get a wild hair and think I want to get a tattoo. This coming from a pretty non-rebellious-type person who thinks using SPF 15 rather than 30 is totally wild and reckless!  I’ve flirted with the idea of getting another piercing in an earlobe (bringing the total piercings to 3) but that just seems so, I don’t know, so 1990s now.

I’ve thought that if I were to take this action, I’d get some sort of music symbol, being that I’m a musician and all.  (Doesn’t that sound impressive?  I’m actually just a piano teacher so it’s not like I’ve met Bon Jovi or anything, but I just like to say, “I’m a musician.”)  A cute little eighth note appropriately placed might be just the thing.  Well, that is, until I saw this . . .


Isn't this the best?
Isn’t this the best?



I was in Coco’s , a great restaurant/bakery in my hometown, ordering some lunch.  When the sweet young lady who took my order turned around, I spied with my little eye this amazing tattoo on the back of her neck.  She moved quickly, so I didn’t see it clearly, but I thought I saw a treble clef!  (We “musicians” love treble clefs.)   When she handed me my order I had to inquire – was that indeed a treble clef?  Actually, no!  Get this (and I just love this!):  it’s the Swahili symbol for Hakuna Matata!  What?!  For some reason, I just LOVE that!  You know what Timon & Pumbaa say . . . it means “no worries, for the rest of your days!”  Who doesn’t love the thought of that?

I think Hakuna Matata might be the Swahili counterpart to a couple of great Bible verses I can think of – how about this:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)  Or especially this one from Matthew 6:27 – “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Really I love that whole chunk starting from verse 25 till the end of the chapter.)  Now THAT would be a big ol’ tattoo.   But that symbol?  That pretty much sums it up into a very pretty, treble-clef-looking package!  But where on this body would I put it? That’s the next question . . .

The back of the neck is really cool-looking, but I want to SEE it myself.  I’m the one that needs reminding not to worry.  I like the top-o’-the-foot tattoos, but I’m fairly tall and have poor eyesight, so I’m not going to see it way down there.  I want to be able to see it regulary, but then again, don’t forget I’m a piano teacher (ahem . . . “musician”), I work with kids and don’t want them or their parents thinking I’m too wild and crazy (do NOT tell them about the SPF15!)  What’s a gal to do?  Where would YOU put a great-looking Swahili symbol?  (Plus, I don’t want, as time marches on, my Hakuna Matata to turn into something entirely different, given the aging process and gravity).

When I was a young music therapist working in Minneapolis, I helped to lead a choir of senior citizens (more stories to tell some day). I once was worried about an upcoming concert.  (I know, right?  What could possibly be worrisome about a concert involving sweet elderly folks.  Well, worrying is a family trait I’ve inherited and have been trying to expunge from my life for some time now.)  When I expressed my concern to one dear old woman named Myrtle, she calmly looked at me and said, “Honey, worrying doesn’t do you any good.  It won’t add a single minute to your life.”  She was quoting Matthew 6 here, but I didn’t know that at the time.  (Hmm, I wonder how Myrtle would feel about me getting a Hakuna Matata tattoo?)

Well, check back with me in a bit and see if I’ve done anything about this wonderful whim.  I’ll try not to worry too much about it!