Grandmotherhood · Uncategorized

deer feet

I’m not sure how I came up with this idea, but when Maria was pregnant with my first grandbaby, I decided to pick out an animal that would be my special secret-but-not-really-secret animal I’d have with just that child.  Winnie became by “owl” baby.  I picked out owl decorations and made her a stuffed owl and an owl blanket.  It just so happened that owls seemed to surge in popularity about that time.  (I had no idea I was such a trend-setter!)  It’s difficult NOT to buy every cute owl thing I see, and there’s plenty to be had.

When Winnie turned one, we heard there was a new baby on the way!  After pondering a few things in my heart, I decided this baby would be my “fox” baby, and so Olive became that.  And just like clockwork, foxes are now cuter than ever and just about everywhere.  Look around, if you haven’t noticed them before, I bet you will now.  Olive has received plenty of  fox-covered finery during her 4 years on earth.

I’ve found both owl teacups and fox teacups so I can have animal-appropriate tea parties with each girl:

owl cups
My owl cups for Winnie – I got these at a wonderful gift store filled with Scandinavian things – – these were made in Finland.
fox cups
My foxy cups for Olive – they’re from Target.  Not as fancy, but I still love them!

So along came baby #3!  After careful consideration, and a bit of back-and-forth-ness, Molly was to become my “deer” baby.  She recently turned one year old, and I’m still waiting for the popularity boom of the deer to hit, as the owl and fox did . . . no such luck yet.  I have found the occasional adorable stuffed deer and did manage to make a pretty cute deer blankey.  (It did have a few other forest creatures on there, too, but beggars can’t be choosers.)

Now comes the cool part.  Well, and the scary part.

Around the time of Molly’s first birthday, Maria noticed she hadn’t started to make any attempts at crawling.  Not such a big deal, lots of kids skip that phase without much concern.  But she also noticed she was never attempting to pull herself up on furniture, or ever put her feet down in an attempt to bear weight on her little legs.  Having had two kids already, my daughter knew this was a normal “baby” thing to do.  So at Molly’s 12 (ish) month check-up, Maria mentioned it to her pediatrician.  The pediatrician looked at Molly (who is so darn cute, btw . . . here, take a look . . . .  ) Molly's eyelashes

and said she did seem to have “low muscle tone” in her legs.  She suggested she be seen by a pediatric neurologist and just get checked out.

Since a young mom doesn’t hear the words “your baby should see a pediatric neurologist” every day, let’s just say it caused my daughter extreme stress.  Not because of anything the doctor said, actually.  I think she was actually really nice.  It was the googling that did Maria in. You can find out great stuff when you google, and you can read stuff to make you feel like your worst nightmare is coming true.  My poor daughter worried herself sick that something really serious was going on with her sweet little Molly.

Fast forward to neurologist appointment . . . . “big, serious stuff” pretty much ruled out.  It could be a couple of things, but the first course of treatment was physical therapy, which she’s still doing.  Some days at PT she’s a champ and does all the things she’s supposed to do.  Some days are just plain tough and she cries and Maria cries and it seems like a complete disaster.

It just so happens that one of my favorite Bible verses is Habakkuk 3:19 that says “The sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” Or it says the same thing in Psalm 18:33.  (I don’t know who said it first, David or Habakkuk.  Not that is matters I guess as it was Divinely inspired.)  But think of it . . . . Molly’s animal is the deer and her little legs and feet  need to be strengthened so that she’ll be able to go on the heights!

We may not see the deer become the latest cutesy trend, but it doesn’t matter. That God would lay it on my heart to choose a deer for this little girl makes me feel sure He’s working this all out.

Molly is perfect, no matter what.  My sweet little deer.  I love you.

deer & verse
Psalm 18:33 “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights.”

Molly holding deer



A Song for the Summer

Autumn Leaves and Exodus

This is the last week of piano lessons.  I thought I’d be a slightly modern teacher and send each student home with a simple arrangement of a current song, just to establish the fact that I am still young and hip and “totally rad.” (Wait, is totally rad a good thing? Cuz I’m not quite sure.)  My first problem, I don’t know any songs that are currently popular as I don’t tend to gravitate towards those stations on the radio.  So what does any red-blooded American piano teacher do when they need to know something nowadays?  They google it!  And, thus, I googled “current pop hits 2016.”  (That may be the only place you see the words “thus” and “google” used in the same sentence.)

I found a list.  Some singer’s names I even recognized.  (Even dinosaurs know who Justin Bieber is, for pity’s sake.)  The songs were all foreign to me, so I did a little listening and a bit of lyric-reading.

I now need to pour bleach into my ears.

Song #1 has words including “I’m sending pic after picture, I’mma get you fired.”  OK, I know what kind of pictures she’s sending.  Nope, that song won’t do.  Let’s try song #2:   “I’m a real big baller cause I made a million dollars and I spend it on girls and shoes.”  Well, not the exact ideas I want to send a child home with over the summer.  Next, please!  “If you like the way you look that much, oh baby, you should go and love yourself.”  Ummmm . . . no.  Not that one either.  There’s a song called “Pillow Talk” but don’t be fooled, it’s NOT the Doris Day version.  Scroll down some more . . . oh, here’s one . . “Let It Go.”  Whoops, not the one from Frozen . . . but it actually starts out kind of sweet and then SKKKIIIIIID . . . . “From nervous touch and getting drunk . . ” Nope, nope, nope.  Can’t use that one.

Perhaps the icing on the raunchy-lyric cake came at my next discovery. . . Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman.”  (Isn’t she a nice gal from just down highway 95 from me, down Boca way?)  I’m not sure why this song in particular rankled me more than the others.  But she says things like “All girls wanna be like that, bad girls underneath like that.”  Seriously?  First of all, I don’t agree.  Secondly, do we really want to give this message to all the teenage boys out there?  When we tell our kids that “No means no” and then wink and say, “but actually all girls want to be ‘bad’ so go ahead, she really wants you to.”  Are we really still in this place??  Little girls (and little boys) are soaking up this music like little dry Bounty paper towels and they are dangerous messages . . . maybe the song title really does fit.  But when did we go from Carol King feeling like a “Natural Woman” to this celebration of being a “dangerous” one?  God help us.

One of my girls came with a note from her mom – her grandpa had requested she learn how to play “Autumn Leaves” and “The Exodus Song.” Thank you, Grandpa.  I could hand those out with nary a care.

No current songs for the rest of my kiddos.  I may hear 10 versions of Fur Elise come September, but as I always say, “You can never have too much Beethoven.”  I think that officially puts me out of the running as “Coolest Piano Teacher.”

And that’s totally fine with me.

Just plain life · Uncategorized

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

blurry car

Do you ever feel like the world is trying to run you over?  Man, I do lately.  And I mean that both literally and figuratively.

I think I must annoy most of Palm Beach County with my driving.  The whole of West Palm Beach and surrounding communities is trying desperately to get out from behind me whenever I’m out on its roadways. And may I say, though I’m by no means proud of this, that I’ve acquired two speeding tickets and a verbal warning during my driving lifetime, proving I’m no slowpoke.  At the very slowest, I drive the speed limit, but usually I’m in that “area of grace” above it – you know what I mean – fast enough to still be safe and react quickly, but not too fast as to get a ticket (well . . . . obviously I misjudged that once or twice.)

Maybe I’m noticing it more in the last few years because I drive a car with virtually no backside.  My VW bug has a tiny backseat and an even tinier trunk (one might actually call it a “trunkette.”)  If a car is right on my tail, I can practically reach back and touch it.  It can be a bit alarming when I look in my rearview mirror and see nothing but grill.  Still, I love my little car, named Imogene.  (Her full name is Imogene Camille Carlisle.  I really have no good reason why, just that it suits her.)  Because of the close proximity to the cars behind me, I can see each “oh my gosh, get out of my way” gesture going on back there.  There’s the “I’m going to swerve over a bit so I can see if there’s anyone in front of you to see why on earth you’re going so slow.”  This is usually followed by the “hands flying up in the air and then slamming down onto the steering wheel in complete disgust” move.  Sometimes I can even see the driver’s eyes rolling.  And sometimes, in complete defeat, after they realize they just can’t get around me for a while, there’s the “place elbow on the door and rest one’s head on one’s hand as though they could just take a nap” move.  This one shows complete and utter disdain.

It used to be I just avoided driving on 95 and all other highways were fair game.  Nowadays I avoid 95 like the plague.  I’m pretty sure there might even be notices at each on-ramp through West Palm that deny my access onto it.  “Congestion ahead, drive carefully.  Patti Thomas, don’t even think about merging on here.”  Used to be I could take the turnpike for a less crazy commute, or 441 for a downright casual drive.  Not anymore.  I’m blown of the road pretty much equally on all three.

I’m afraid the drivers of Palm Beach County have not heard “The 59th Street Bridge Song” by Simon & Garfunkel, exhorting people to “slow down, you move too fast, you got to make the morning last . . . ”  Palm Beach County, your drivers are definitely not “feeling groovy.”

The world around me is moving too fast.  Our kids grow up too fast.  The time goes by too fast.  “Didn’t this year go by fast?”  Do we ever hear the opposite?  If you take one step out of your front door and into the world, chances are pretty good you’re going to get swept along with the quick current.  It seems to be “normal” to be so busy you can’t keep up with everything now.  It might be normal but I just don’t think it’s good.

My prayer for anyone reading this is that you’d slow down for just a bit.  Savor the silence.  Embrace the quiet.  Don’t believe the lie that faster is better.  If someone blasts past you on the highway, let ’em. To quote another song, this one by the Eagles: “Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind.”  Despite that poor grammar, I believe this wholeheartedly!


Grandmotherhood · Mothers & Daughters · Parenting · Uncategorized

Pearls from an Older Mom

My darlings: Sean, Teddy & Maria – circa a really long time ago



It’s the eve of my 28th Mother’s Day as a Mom.  My work here is pretty much done.  My two oldest offspring are married and my daughter is a mom three times over.  My baby is 22. At 6’4″ with a full beard, and deep bass voice, he doesn’t look or sound much like a baby anymore.  Each one has turned out to be a wonderful, hard-working, funny, intelligent human being, and for that, I’m extremely grateful.  Not that I’d take much credit; there are a lot of things I’d have done differently, now that I’m a (ahem) “well-seasoned” woman of five and fifty years.  Here’s what I’d like young Patti to know . . . .

  1.  Worry less about what other people think.  I could spend the rest of my life writing about this since it has been such a stumbling block for me. Instead, I’m leaving it at that.
  2.  Teach important stuff more.  I feel like most days I had all I could do to just keep everyone alive.  The thought of actually teaching my kids important principles that they could look back on and say, “My mom always used to say . . . . . ” and then fill that in with some really profound concept, just didn’t happen.  I have a lot of friends right now that are right in the throes of raising their kids.  And they are doing such an incredible job. The things I hear them say they teach their kids . . . I never came close to that.  I managed to keep everyone fairly clean, fed, clothed and loved.  But no profound teachings came from my lips.  I feel like I was more of a “custodian” and less of a “teacher.”  Nothing wrong with custodians.  I just wish I would have been a teacher.
  3. Whoopdie-fricken-doo if the kids are always at your house and rarely at someone else’s.  When the kids were little, it seemed like the neighborhood gang ended up at our house a lot.  Or even when they were really little, it seems like playdates occurred at MY house far more than at someone else’s.  I would get quite severely bent out of shape that the child-sharing wasn’t perfectly even.  Yup.  In a perfect world, you’d watch someone else’s kids and then they’d watch yours.  Even steven.  Get over it.  If it isn’t like that, big hairy deal.  Your kid has friends to play with and you get to  be a part of it.  In about three minutes, they’ll be graduating from high school so just relax and enjoy this time.
  4. Don’t try to fix everything yourself.  How are they ever going to learn how to figure out things for themselves if you fix everything for them?  So they’re sad sometimes.  So they don’t finish first sometimes.  So maybe they lose a lot.  Maybe they get into trouble and have to pay the consequences.  Parents naturally want to make everything alright.  Everything is not alright.  People need to know how to take care of themselves.   It’s called being an adult.
  5.  God’s way is ultimately the way to go.  This ties right back up there with number 1.  Who cares what other people think?  Doing what you know is right in God’s eyes will many  a time elicit eye-rolls and tongue-clucks from others.  To quote myself: Whoopdie-fricken-doo.  If they don’t understand and do things another way, stick to your beliefs.  Fight the feeling to “fit in.”  God has entrusted those particular little people to YOU and you need to shut out what the rest of the world is telling you what is right and listen to the voice of Truth.

In closing, I’ll just add I didn’t bomb this job completely.  But if I had to do it all over again (and I couldn’t, I’m just way too tired for that) I’d heed my own “older self” advice. Maybe that’s why grandmas are so smart.  They practiced on their own kids and can put better skills to use on their grandchildren!   Wait, did someone say grandchildren??  Here are the sweet things that call me “Maga.”


Happy Mother’s Day . . . . if you’re a mom of human kids, kids that bark or meow, or have had a hand in mothering others’ kids . . . . may you feel loved and appreciated!