“Is Everyone My Age This Forgetful?” also . . . “Is Everyone My Age This Forgetful?”

Oh, Dori. I think I'm you.
Oh, Dori. I think I’m you.

If, perchance, you happen to be like me and are a bit forgetful, I’m about to make you feel a whole lot better about yourself.  A. Whole. Lot. Better.  . . . . .I’ve forgotten some pretty big things lately.  For instance . . .

My car.

Not the keys to my car, not where I parked the car, no, that’s mere child’s play.  I forgot that I even had driven a car in the first place. Allow me to explain.

Just before Christmas, a friend of mine and I met for lunch at a local restaurant.  We had driven separately because I had errands to run before we met. She drives a humongous truck and the idea was, we were going to go to Home Depot after lunch because we each had ordered very large Christmas presents for our husbands online and they were both ready to be picked up. Being very good wives, we ordered large, heavy items.  From Home Depot.  A husband’s dream.  I ordered a new grill for mine and my friend ordered a power sprayer for hers.  (She is actually a better wife than I as her gift was both heavier and more expensive.)  After a delightful lunch, we both drove our vehicles the short distance to Home Depot. So far, so good, right?  Nothing strange about this scenario.

I feel it necessary here to rat on my friend just a tad: She almost went to Lowe’s instead of Home Depot!  They are across the highway from each other.  I SO wish this was the end of the “Oh my aren’t we forgetful, haha” story and my friend was the one who made the big blunder.  Oh no . . . it gets way better than that.

We parked our two vehicles and met inside the store at the customer service desk.   Our large and quite generous gifts were retrieved and brought to the front.  The grill was big but not too unwieldy, but the power sprayer was crazy heavy!  There was no way Linda and I were going to manage hoisting that sucker into the back of her truck.  No problem!  There were plenty of brawny men to help us out.  We were a little worried about how we were going to get it OUT of the truck, but hey, one thing at a time, right?

After the two items were placed onto and into the truck, Linda hopped behind the wheel and I hopped likewise into the passenger seat, and away we went!  Home Depot is on a very busy highway and this was just a few days before Christmas.  The traffic was insane, but we managed to work our way into the midst of it.  As we sat there with all the other vehicles, proud of our accomplishment, Linda’s head snapped to the right and she said to me, “Your car!”

“My car!!”

Oops.  It’s not often I have forgotten an entire automobile, but I definitely did that day.  As deftly as she managed her huge truck into the traffic, she worked her way back out and back into the parking lot.  And there sat my poor, forgotten little VW bug.  Windshield washer fluid-tears running down the hood.

But wait, that isn’t even as bad as it gets.  That’s just the warm-up story.  Just the other day, I hit a new low.  This actually bothers me more than the car situation.  It may not seem as big a deal to some of you, but to me, it’s huge!

One day I completely forgot to put on my make-up.

OK, now maybe some of you might not think that’s so bad.  Maybe you skip make-up some days.  I haven’t skipped putting on make-up a single day since the 8th grade.  I don’t wear a lot of make-up, but the only places I’ll go with a bare face is any room in my house and possibly the mailbox (if I’m sure no one will walk by).  I’m sure I must have applied at least a little blush before going to the hospital to have babies.  I’ve even been told I don’t look any different between my “make-up” face and my “non make-up” face.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m still going to wear it every day.

One day last week, I was sitting in the library.  I had been there a few hours and it was time to head home.  I went into the ladies room on my way out, did what was necessary and then went to wash my hands.  I guess I looked into the mirror for the first time all day.  On first glance, I thought to myself, “Wow, my make-up really faded today.” But then I squinted and leaned closer to the mirror.  To my horror, I realized that my face was as bare as the day I was born!! It was as blank as a piece of paper containing Donald Trump’s “Things I Need to Improve About Myself” list.  Horrified, I made for my car and my home and my bathroom and my make-up.  I mentally went through that day’s activities in my mind.  Who had I showed this blank canvas to?  Publix!!  I’d gone to Publix!  I’d even seen a woman I knew there (I don’t remember from where, though, of course . . . ) and even said a brief “Hi! How are you?”  Dear God.  It was a wonder she didn’t turn to stone right there near the canned vegetables!  I can just hear her telling stories back at . . . . church?  . . . . about that poor, unfortunate Thomas woman, really let herself go. The one good part about this day, though, was when I got ready for bed that night.  I didn’t have to wash my face!

I know all this being more forgetful stuff is all a part of getting older, but it makes me a little nervous.  What helps is hearing stories about what other people forgot.  I love getting together with my Book Club friends, a group of ten women who are all near the same age and experiencing the same things.  Our forgetful stories, though they seem awful when we actually do them, bring each other huge laughs when we share them.  It makes us each feel less broken and faulty.  When your friends are all becoming increasingly faulty too, it makes it easier to take.

So, I hope you feel a little better about yourself now that you’ve read how poorly I’ve been acting.  I’ll leave you with a quote from Maya Angelou.  She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I hope I’ve made you feel better.


Grandmotherhood · Just plain life · Uncategorized

Menopause and the Miracle-Woman

I love when squirrels help us interpret our emotions.
I love when squirrels help us interpret our emotions.

Shortly after midnight in the wee hours of August 22, 1987, our trusty springer spaniel, Gunther, needed the rest room facilities, and so I got my very largely pregnant self out of bed and tended to my pup.  As I returned to bed, I felt the first of the contractions that would eventually lead Kevin and me to welcoming our first baby into the world, our Maria.  Because I write everything down and basically am a bit OCD, I kept track of these contractions on a notepad that I had next to my bed.  This went on for several hours, me sort of dozing in between contractions.  Kevin snoozed peacefully beside me, Gunther at our feet.  Just one big happy bunch of deep breathers.  After several hours of this “labor,” I had an incredible thought . . .

“Is this it?!?!  This isn’t so bad.  What on earth were all those other women complaining about?  Labor hurts?  Not for me!  Slight squeezes maybe, but intense pain??  Hardly!!  Maybe I’ll be that one miracle woman who births babies with nary a twinge of discomfort. I’ll show the world what I’m made of!!” I practically heard trumpets sounding from the heavens and saw the headline of the Star & Tribune that next day announcing, “Miracle Woman gives birth with NO PAIN!”

Then my water broke.

OK, this is the point where I realized I was no miracle-woman.  After a quick drive to the hospital and about 6 hours of REAL labor, we met our sweet Maria.  (I know some of you are thinking “Six hours??  Is that all??  I was in labor for 6 days!!” I hear you and you have my utmost admiration.)

The point is this:  Denial is more than a river in Egypt, it’s a place I reside on a regular basis.  I took up residence there while charting my contractions and thinking I’d get by without it hurting, and now I find myself there again at another stage in my life as a female . . . . menopause.

You see, some of my friends are just a step ahead of me in this process and I’ve heard them talk about the hot flashes and the insomnia, the night sweats and the mood swings.  But that wasn’t going to happen to me.  Now it’s been a while (29 years, to be exact) since that night I sat up with paper and pencil in hand, and it seems I’ve forgotten I’m NOT miracle-woman.  Dang it, anyway. I really thought I was going to get away with it this time.  I’d even done some remodeling in my cute little apartment in “Denial Village.”

But then the hot flashes started.

Actually, I prefer to think of them as “warm surges” because (as of now) they are not the hot flashes I’ve heard others talk about that require sticking one’s head in the fridge or the like.  It’s more of a “Hmm, I guess I don’t need my sweater on anymore” or “Does anyone else feel warm?  Maybe I’ll turn down the A/C.”  See the difference?  Hot versus warm?  “Dinner is now being served in the dining area of Denial Village.  All are welcome.”

I heard talk of becoming more forgetful when menopause comes to call.  OK, there is NO living in Denial Village on this one. This one I definitely experience, to the point I sometimes worry I’m losing my mind.  A little foggy between the ears?  Dear God, I hope that doesn’t continue to decline or I’m in big trouble.

The crepey skin is a little alarming.  When you live in South Florida, it’s hard to wear clothing that covers all the flaws without causing heat stroke, so that crepiness is generally out there for the world to see.  Not a lot a gal can do about that.  But let me give you fair warning on something you should never do:  Never, and I mean NEVER assume “downward facing dog” yoga position when you’re just wearing shorts.  Your eyes will go straight to your thighs and that is enough to send you into a downward spiral of “oh-my-gosh-what-happened-to-my-legs?” I’ve made this mistake and by eyes still burn.  There’s no erasing that from your memory banks.

Insomnia is not something I’ve had to deal with . . . yet.  I have a night here and there when I can’t fall back to sleep if I wake up. Hey . . . do you think maybe I’m miracle-woman in this one small area???  “‘Denial Village’ . . . where you’ll live happily, albeit  delusional, ever after . . . ”  *sigh*  I suppose not.

If there’s something that gives me comfort in all of this menopause business, it’s knowing that we women all go through this.  Some of us have had babies, some of us haven’t.  Some have gotten married, some haven’t.  But we all have this place in common where we end up together:  MenopauseLand.  We may arrive at different times and some have harder times than others getting here, but when we share our stories, we don’t feel like we’re the only ones feeling this way, and it sure makes the journey easier.  And actually pretty funny.

But now I hear some women start growing whiskers on their chins?  Nope, nope, nope, not me . . . . I absolutely refuse to let THAT happen! “Denial Village would like to welcome back one of its longtime residents . . . Patti Thomas!  Don’t put those little scissors away too fast!  You might need ’em some day soon!”


Grandmotherhood · long distance parenting/grandparenting · Uncategorized · Winnie and Olive

Maga’s Magnificent Book Club: One way to be a long-distance grandma that makes a difference.

Sometimes I feel like I was born into the wrong era.  I long for “the family farm” where I live with my husband and probably more than one dog.  My kids all live just ‘down the road apiece’ with their families and they all gather in my kitchen every morning for coffee and a hot breakfast.  (I suppose that means I’d be cooking that breakfast, in which case I’d be handing out bowls for cereal.)  We’d all work together and tell stories all day and laugh.  The farm hands (not one of my kids impresses me as farm hand, but in this daydream, they all embrace their roles lovingly) saunter up to the main house at quittin’ time and come into the kitchen saying something like, “I’m so hungry I could eat the whole of Texas right now.”  (Someone said that in a southern accent, yet this fantasy farm is in Wisconsin.  It’s a little mixed up.)  We’d slap each others’ backs and sit down to some fabulous meal I’d have whipped up (or more likely picked up) and naturally, my grandchildren would be at my side, begging me to tell them about the good old days when I was a kid.

Problem is, in real life, none of my kids live down the road apiece and my three darling granddaughters live 3 states away.

When I go visit my daughter and her family, I love to drive through her neighborhood and pick out “my house.”  In THIS daydream, I live on the same street as Maria and her family and the kids come over on a regular basis.  I’m just a stone’s throw away so can help out whenever someone get’s sick or Maria needs to run somewhere and doesn’t want to haul all three girls.  Naturally, I’ve got their favorite snacks on hand and so coming to my house is as comfortable as being at their own home.

SKIIIIIIIIIIDDDDD.  OK, enough of this dreaming.  I consider myself pretty lucky to see them as much as I do, which is about every 6 to 8 weeks.  I dreamed up a little something (dreaming seems to come natural to me) that would help me be a more intentional grandma.  It comes from something I’ve loved ever since I was little . . . . . books.

And so, “Maga’s Magnificent Book Club” was born.


I think if you love books, and are a good reader, learning anything else is just that much easier.  I want my girls to love reading as I have.  So, here’s what I did!

  • I bought two three-ringed binders, one for Winnie and one for Olive
  • I also bought a bunch of awesome prizes at the dollar store and made a Treasure Box
  • I made up a “book report form” – – one that was fun and easy for little readers
  • Of course there are rules and rewards
  •    inside-folder
  • And then a way to keep track of the books they’ve read (or have been read to them)my-checklist

And there you have it. Complete with blurry pictures.  I’m hoping that this might be a way for them to feel like I’m not three states away, but right there with them.

If anyone has any other grandparenting-from-afar ideas, I’m all ears!

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


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!

Grandmotherhood · Winnie and Olive

Oh, Olive


Recently our daughter and her family came to visit us while Kevin and I are at our cabin in northern Wisconsin. (Just a refresher, Maria is married to Jared and they have three girls: Winnie – 5, Olive – 3 and Molly – 3 months.) It’s been a couple of years since they were here, so Winnie had some memories of the place, but not Olive, as she was just a baby on her last visit. Even though Olive has flown before she had an interesting perspective on the whole experience of traveling by airplane.
First of all, though, you’ve got to understand the two personalities of the two oldest girls. Winnie loves everyone and everything immediately and without reservation. She’ll tell you you’re beautiful and hug you and give her life for you as soon as she meets you. Maria has had to make up stories about how ant poison doesn’t actually kill the ants . . . (“They just taste it and they don’t like it so they move on to someone else’s house”) . . . because, not only does she love every person on the planet, she also loves and cares for every animal as well. Bugs must be rescued and set free rather than squashed. And let’s also include inanimate objects in her realm of lovable things, ‘cuz . . . . oh, who knows why, just because she has so much love to give it extends to anything that gets in her path, living or non.
Now, Olive, on the other hand, isn’t so free with her affections. You have to earn her love and trust and, by gum, she’ll make you earn it. While Winnie is busy loving the world and attempting to either go home with strangers or invite them all over to play at her house, Olive is close to her Mom’s side eyeballing that same stranger and will gladly tell him/her to “not look at her.” She has no trouble speaking her mind, a quality I wish I had honed better in my 54 years. But a 3-year-old doesn’t have much tact, so it often comes across as quite blunt, which can cause her sweet, kind mother to roll her eyes on many an occasion and say, “Oh, Olive.”
So, on with the story, now that you know these girls a little better. Olive knew she was “going to Maga & Grandpa’s cabin” when she got on a plane a couple of weeks ago. Well, imagine it from a 3 year old’s point of view. She’s going to the cabin. Her whole family is on the plane going to the cabin. There are a lot more people on that same plane, which she knows is taking her to the cabin. She thought EVERYONE on the plane was going to the cabin! Mortified at the thought of so many people she didn’t know from Adam going with her, was a horrible predicament. When she inquired about this, Maria reassured her these folks were, indeed, not all going to the same place as she was. Whew. Well, in perfect Olive form, she took in upon herself to inform the other travelers that they were NOT going to the cabin. Complete with pointed finger and furrowed brow. Just in case there was any question. I’m picturing this scenario: Olive: “YOU’RE not going to the cabin!” Random traveler: (Hands up in a “don’t shoot” position) Nope. I’m not going anywhere NEAR the cabin! Please, can I just get past you? I promise I won’t even look at you!” Olive stares him down for a second, lowers her finger and says, “Move along.” Oh, Olive.
I have to add this, though: When Olive loves you, she’s all in. If you pass inspection and are allowed into her inner circle, you are privy to one of the sweetest people on earth. The last night they were with us, we were all playing outside in the yard. Olive’s shoe came off and I was helping her get it back on. I knelt down in the grass and she wrapped her arms around me, laying her cheek on the top of my head, and she said in a sweet voice, “You’re my great Maga.” Skiiiiiiiiiiiiiid!! Stop. Right. There. My internal organs turned completely to mush and I was in hog heaven. Her hugs and smiles may not be as prevalent as her older sister’s but man, they pack a punch! They can leave a grandma breathless and saying with a sigh, “Oh, Olive.”

Olive roasting marshmallows