Tag Archives: family

Just Another Mandatory Nap Day


When our kids were young, we traveled long distances to visit relatives. We quickly learned that if one of us had to stop to go to the bathroom, we better make sure everyone else took a turn. Otherwise, five miles down the road we’d hear another little voice wailing, “I have to go to the bathroom!” So began our mandatory bathroom stops. One for all and all for the bathroom.

This past weekend, our grandchildren came to visit. On Saturday, after spending a night getting up to tend sleepless children, I was bleary-eyed. After lunch I said, “Time for naps.” Our three-year old granddaughter looked at me and asked, “Is it mandatory nap day?” Mandatory nap day? What a great idea. I crouched down to look her in the eye and said, “It most definitely is mandatory nap day. Today, everyone gets to nap.”

Our daughter and son-in-law have a mandatory nap day each weekend. It has become a family tradition and now I was going to reap the benefits of this practice with a nice long nap.

But, before we settled under the covers, we had one important stop. The mandatory bathroom stop.



Maybe We Should Have Been Less Enthusiastic with Our Applause


Dad was ingenious. Each summer, our family vacation coincided with his paid speaking engagements. We thought it was normal. Traveling long distances in a car with two adults and four children {pre-air conditioning} to a remote family camp so our father could work all week while we, the kids, drove our mother nuts.

Pure bliss for us. Mom? That poor woman.

Dad scored a recurring camp invitation to the Rocky Mountains for several years. Oh, the memories, the scrapes, the madcap adventures.

The highlight of the camp each year, for me, was the talent show that dad MC’ed at the end of the week. I was continually amazed at the talent, or lack thereof, we witnessed. Singers, jugglers, musicians and would be thespians. Please people! Let’s try to have some self-awareness.

One year, a man of considerable, and I mean considerable, years came on the stage with his fiddle. What ensued was minutes of ear shrieking horror that was barely recognizable as a folk song. If you weren’t covering your ears, you were wishing you could. When the kindly old gent finished, the auditorium erupted in applause, cheers and much foot stomping. Thank the Lord. He is done!

The curtain closed.

Ah, the relief.

And then, unbelievably to our eyes, a bow came slowly slicing between the closed curtains as the old guy swung the curtains wide and stepped forward for an encore. What!?!

Maybe, we should have been less enthusiastic with our applause.

The auditorium was struck into complete silence. Please. Please. This cannot be happening.

He lifted his fiddle and a second song began but now the audience was not so polite. The grumbling started. The barely concealed ‘boos’ were emanating from the back.

Dad walked onto the stage and stood by the fiddling fool. He smiled at the audience, raised his eyebrows while shrugging and then began to clap. Taking our cue, we began to clap too. As we raised the volume of our clapping and cheering, the fiddling was overpowered with our own noise. We continued this way until the bow was lifted from the strings. Then dad gently grasped the man’s arm as he chatted with the fiddler and escorted him {bowing as he went} off the stage.

Now the applause was thunderous. What a night. What a man, my dad…


The Power of a Loving Touch


When grandma came to visit, she offered an extra ear to whisper into, extra eyes to watch over us and extra hands to tuck us in at night. At bedtime, she would listen to our prayers, settle the covers around us and rub our backs as we drifted off to sleep. Those back rubs were in high demand in our household.

This summer, I’ve had the privilege of tucking my grandchildren into their beds. Some nights, the five year old has a difficult time falling asleep. He is a deep thinker and lets his mind wander and linger on thoughts when he should be sleeping.

One night, after settling the covers over him, I told my grandson about my grandma and how she would rub my back at night. I started rubbing his back as I shared stories about her. As I talked and rubbed I could feel his muscles relax and sensed the quieting of his mind. As he calmed, I sat silently rubbing his back while thinking about long ago days when I was on the receiving end of one of these back rubs. As he drifted off to sleep, I continued to rub his back. Why? Touch is a two way street. That simple back rub was as relaxing for me as it was for my grandson.

An excerpt from The Power of Touch in Psychology Today succinctly highlights the benefits of reaching out and sharing a loving touch:

“Every evening at bedtime, DePauw’s Hertenstein gives his young son a back rub. “It’s a bonding opportunity for the two of us. Oxytocin levels go up, heart rates go down, all these wonderful things that you can’t see.” Moments like these also reveal the reciprocal nature of touch, he says: “You can’t touch without being touched. A lot of those same beneficial physiological consequences happen to me, the person doing the touching.””

Grandma taught me the power of a loving touch and I have never forgotten that long ago lesson. As an adult, when visiting her in the nursing home, I would remind our children to reach out and touch this wonderful woman. During our visit, one or more of us would be holding her hand, rubbing her back, massaging her arms, brushing her hair… anything we could do to convey our love via the sense of touch.

Touch. So simple. So necessary. Make an effort to reach out and physically touch those you love.

Follow the links below to jump start your very own touch therapy:


Those Chickens ~ Part One {The History}

I am not far removed from rural living. Both my parents grew up on farms in North Dakota. While these farms were vastly different (Norwegian/grain/some livestock farm versus German/livestock/some grain ranch), I learned early how to use an outhouse and that food doesn’t actually originate in a grocery store.

My Aunt Vi,  dad’s sister, lived on the home farm most her life and had broilers. These are chickens specifically raised for meat production. Yes, you read that correctly, these chickens become Sunday dinner. Broilers do not receive cute names. They are not pets. They are future food.

Some summers, if I was unlucky enough, our visit to Aunt Vi’s farm coincided with the butchering of her chickens. Growing up in a big city, and being me, the thought of killing anything is abhorrent. Therefore, I never witnessed the actual event. I always hid in the house with a book and pretended the meat later served came from far, far away. Possibly a magical land where everyone is happy and meat is grown from the ground, similar to crops.

My younger brother and sister didn’t understand this thinking. For them watching was a rare, exciting treat. Maybe they were more connected to the ebb and flow of life than me. Whatever. Getting your younger siblings to cease talking about chicken butchering was a monumental task. They would run into the farmhouse, talking excitedly about the ‘goings-on’ outside. No, I do not want to know what is happening outside. No, I do not want to know what a chicken does when its head is chopped off. No, I do not want to know how clean, swift and humane the process was.

With no form of escape, I would whine to mom. “Make them stop.” “I am going to throw up.” “Do not make me eat any, and I mean any, chickens this visit!”

Mom, my wise, wise counsel, would put her arms around me, suggest a better place to hide but also nudge me to think deeply about life, food and personal preferences. If I was going to be a meat eater, I needed to realize that meat came from animals. Otherwise, I needed to change, drastically.

I flirted with vegetarianism for a while, it didn’t take. I still eat a number of meatless meals each week, but I have come to realize that meat is a part of my life. I am trying to be more conscious where my food comes from, whether fruits, vegetables or meat.

Which leads me back full circle to my family. My brother has laying hens and broilers on his hobby farm. My daughter, who lives in a suburb of a big city, has purchased laying hens.

Chickens, the real, living, breathing kind… no matter how hard I try, I cannot get away from them.

Chickens, Pageants and Parking Ramps

Saturday, I traveled to the Miss Minnesota Pageant. My niece was a contestant and I wanted to join family to offer support. I am not your typical pageant goer. I don’t wear  a lot of makeup, heels or dresses. As one who works with children, usually on the floor, I tend to dress in a wash and wear style.

I thought I would make it easier on myself by driving to Minnesota (near my daughters) to get ready there. I had my hair styled at their salon and proceeded next door to get my nails done.

Running short on time, I exited the salon against the stylists recommendation and ran for my car. As I fumbled with keys and phone, I decimated my first nail. Darn! I tried repairing the nail by pushing the still wet polish back into place as I drove. That is when the rain storm hit. I parked outside my daughter’s home hoping the rain would subside. It didn’t. I ran for the house trying to save the hair and saturating the dress I planned to wear as I held it over my head. The lock box with the key for the home (since my daughter was out of town) would not budge and trying to force it open damaged a second nail. I stood outside the locked house and wailed…quietly.

Pulling myself together, I headed back to my car, this time saving the dress from another soaking but exposing my hair to the elements. As I gazed at my image in the rearview mirror, I wondered how other people could calmly get ready for these events.

I drove to my second daughter’s apartment where I dressed, dabbed on makeup, my daughter salvaged my hair, then we sprinted for the car. I handed my iPad to my daughter with a screen shot of the directions for the location where we were meeting my sister-in-law. She looked at the directions and said, “I can’t follow this. Where’s the dot that shows where we are on a map?” And I thought, “Oh, for crying out loud!”

We decided to try my car’s GPS. I have a 2007 Prius with a GPS system that only works with voice commands when you are driving. Not having time to stop and type in directions, we used our voices.

GPS system: “After hitting the talk button, please say the name of the state.”
Me: “Minnesota”
GPS system: “Minnesota. After hitting the talk button, please say the name of the city or change state.”
Me: “Eden Prairie”
GPS system: “Eden Prairie. After hitting the talk button, please say the name of the street or change city.”

Everything was working smoothly until we came to the street number. The system was unable to get the street number correct so we had to start over from the very beginning. I know, I know, I should have pulled over and typed in the directions. But that doesn’t work so well either. I have a demented GPS system.

We arrived (late) to pick up my sister-in-law. She got in the car as we prepared to travel to another location to meet my sister and her daughter.

I gave the iPad (with the next set of directions) to my sister-in-law. My daughter was relaying the new address into the GPS. My sister, ever helpful, telephoned to guide us. Unfortunately, all we could hear of her voice, over the speaker, was static. This was just too much for us. As the GPS talked to us, the iPad went into sleep mode and my sister conversed in static, we howled with laughter causing makeup to stream down our faces.

We finally met up with my sister, who took us to her car. As we were talking about our ordeal, unbeknownst to us she was driving through the parking ramp going the wrong way. As vehicles approached, we screamed, she dodged cars and executed an amazing feat of chicken with one man. We won.

Five bedraggled women arrived at the Miss Minnesota Pageant. We cheered, hooted and howled as my amazingly beautiful, talented niece performed throughout the night. At the end of the evening, she was the last woman standing. Yes, that is correct. She won and is the new, reigning Miss Minnesota.

After the pageant, we were allowed on stage to offer congratulations, hugs and say our goodbyes. That is when the photographer decided to take an extended family picture. Noooooooooooooooo! Just thinking about standing near an evening gown clad Miss Minnesota for a public photo made me cringe. With no hope for escape, I stood in the back row trying to look invisible.

What a day! I dropped my daughter off at her apartment (after getting her sister’s spare key) and drove to my eldest daughter’s home (with my sister and niece following in their vehicle) for some much needed sleep. We walked into the home when I remembered I needed to head to the basement to make sure the chickens were okay.

Chickens you say? In the basement? Yes…. but that is a story for another day.