Parenting · Uncategorized

good, good father

When I was a little girl and got a stomach ache (which seemed to happen a lot), my dad would say, “Do you want me to put my ‘magic hand’ on your belly and make it feel better?”  He’d then take me onto his lap and he’d put his (what seemed like at the time) giant hand on my scrawny belly.  (I was a skinny little thing.) I’d lay my head on his shoulder and without fail, my stomach ache would subside.  I remember thinking that my dad really did have a MAGIC hand because it worked. Every time.  I suppose it had something to do with the warmth from his hand, or the total security I felt in his arms, but to 6 or 7 year old me, it was total magic.

I struck gold when it came to dads.  Not only was my own dad one of the best, but somehow I’ve found myself surrounded with some other treasures as well.  I realize what a gift this is as I can count on almost all ten fingers people close to me that had not-so-great or absent fathers.  When I hear someone talk about her dad and the less than stellar example that was set, I can’t even quite imagine.

Let me tell you just a little bit about 4 great dads.

Dad and Alia
My dad and my cousin’s daughter, Alia

1.)  My own dear dad.  He was gentle, kind, funny, a great dancer.  He loved to whistle and he was whistling or humming or singing almost all of the time.  There was some swearing involved, though, when he tried to fix something and it wouldn’t work.  He loved to fish and “hunt the buck” (as in deer, not dollars).  He absolutely adored kids and kids loved him back.  I could write about him for days.  I wish I could say the darling little girl in this photo is me, but it’s not.  This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad, though.  You see that sweet look in Alia’s eyes, looking up at him?  That’s how I felt for the first 18 years of my life.  Lucky me.

Kevin kissing Olive
My hubby, Kevin, and our middle granddaughter, Olive

2.) My own dear husband.  And I hit the jackpot again.  I’d say Kevin was a very different father than my dad, but still, one of the best.  My dad was not the kind that struck fear into us as kids by a glance or sharp word.  Ummmm, Kevin?  Scary.  Not in a bad way (well, too bad) but he definitely has that intimidation factor working for him.  (Voted “Most Intimidating Dad” by one of our kid’s friends.)  He works harder than anyone I know and has always provided for his family.  He’s our rock.  He doesn’t often show his more tender side, but those three little girls that call him “Grandpa” have gotten him to soften up a bit.

Danny & Libby
My brother, Dan, and his beautiful daughter, Libby

3.)  My own dear brother.  So my brother is pretty much a carbon copy of my dad.  He has that same gentle, kind manner.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard him raise his voice, but I live in Florida and he lives in Wisconsin, so it’s possible that may occur and I’m not privy to it.  He has been the most loving father to his daughter Libby . . . oh my goodness, there’s no doubting he is “crazy about her.”  And she about him.  Lucky her.

Jared and girls going to church
Jared taking his girls to church

4.)  Last but not least, my own dear son-in-law.  The newest dad of the bunch.  Not even into his thirties yet, he’s the dad of three girls.  THREE GIRLS!  Jared lavishes his girls with love.  And can strike “awe” into them when they’re acting up.  Best of all, he loves their mom with all of his heart.  I just love this picture of him hauling all three girls off to church, not an easy undertaking.  (Maria is there, too, I imagine she’s taking the picture.)  And this happens every single Sunday.  Way to lead, dad.

Because of these devoted dads, it’s been fairly easy for me to understand how much my heavenly Father loves me.  I know so many others that can’t begin to imagine that there is some “so-called” God that loves them since their own earthly father didn’t do such a hot job.  If that’s you, I wish I could share my dads with you.  But we do share a good, good Father that loves us – whether your dad here was a good one like mine, or not that great, or awful, or not around.  God is better than the best of the best earthly dads. The song “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin says . . . “love so undeniable and peace so unexplainable.”   Yup.  That’s our Dad.

Lucky us.

Wishing all dads a very Happy Father’s Day on June 19!



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!

Mothers & Daughters · Parenting · Uncategorized

It was the best of days, it was the worst of days . . . .


The day after Christmas.  When you’re a kid, it’s the worst day of the year.  It’s SO LONG till Christmas Day again.  When you’re an adult, and I have to say specifically a female adult (cuz that’s what I relate to), it’s the best day of the year. Because it’s SO LONG till Christmas Day again.  I think if you turn down the TV, turn off the music and stick your head outside your door, you’ll hear a sweet rush of air.  It’s not a cold front moving in, even though as I sit here in 80 degrees, I wouldn’t mind, but it’s the tired, relieved collective sigh of women all over America exhaling after feeling the weight of their household’s happiness on their shoulders for the last month, finally lifted.  My sigh of relief isn’t as heavy this year, as my kids are grown now, but I so remember feeling that huge sense of relief when all the presents were opened, all the secrets revealed, all the stockings – emptied. Everyone was pretty happy.  Happy enough.  Maybe they didn’t get every single thing they asked for, but they were still well-compensated.

Ah, to be a kid again.  Filled with hopes and wishes and absolutely no feeling of responsibility for anyone else’s fulfillment of hopes and wishes.  The thing about childhood is, you can never go back.

So to all my fellow-adult-females out there, I say “Good work!  Now, relax!”  No more Elf to move, stockings to stuff, presents to prepare, roasts to roast to perfection.  No more cookies to decorate, Pinterest posts to parallel.  No more “out-original-ing” someone else’s super-original-something-or-other.  Take 11 months off!  (Or until the next birthday in your household . . . but no pressure.)





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.