Category Archives: humor

How Two Llamas Jumpstarted my Writing Career

 

 

flashback friday

In 1981, big things were happening in the world.  Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as president, the Iranian hostages were finally released, and Judge Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman on the US Supreme Court

During the  tumultuous hostage crisis  our nation was glued to their TVs for days, watching world events unfold.

That summer I was hired by the local newspaper, the Cavalier County Republican, as a reporter. A 16-year-old kid in braces, I was thrilled to have a part in providing my journalistic slant on the changing world.

Except the news in Langdon, North Dakota, a small town you skip through on the way to Canada, wasn’t nearly as exciting.  For my first interview my editor had the scoop of the century; a local farmer had purchased two exotic animals.

The farmer was my next door neighbor, Don Quam, a man who could tell tall tales bigger than Paul Bunyan’s and tell you true tales you wished were tall tales, with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his tan, creased face.  No, it isn’t a cliché, his eyes did twinkle.  Geneva was his perfect match, a spunky blonde who kept him in line.

Two Llamas Jumpstarted

Two llamas, two friendly neighbors, how hard could that assignment be?  Except  I’d never written a newspaper article before, not even in high school English class.  I hadn’t used a 35mm camera in a few years.  A pad of lined yellow paper, a pen, and a Canon camera were thrust into my hands.

While interviewing Don and Geneva  I scribbled frantically as they joked and spoke wise words worth quoting about their llamas, Lleo and Llouis. Because I didn’t have a telephoto lens, I cautiously entered the pasture for close-up pictures.  I’d learned the llamas were walking on lethal weapons and could spit.

My story was typed and submitted without any feedback from my editor.  I still wasn’t sure if it qualified as an article, but it was printed.

All errors aren’t necessarily mine, cringe, because the typesetter, who got an A in high school typing but not  in English, often felt the need to “correct” my work.

 

LLAMAS2 Stitch

(click on pic to enlarge and read or read full text below)

A few days later my jubilant editor waved a Grand Forks Herald in my face and pointed to a llama story.

He bragged that my first article was picked up by a big-city daily newspaper and assured  my career was off to a great start, thanks to Lleo and Llouis.

Thirty-three years later, the reporter in me wants to write a follow-up to my exciting career launch.  Would Liz Anne remember the llama spit?  Would she remember me?

Is it really suitable  to call someone thirty-three years later and ask, “Hey, do you remember being spit on by a llama?”

I know you’re wondering, too, right? Do ya’ double-dog dare me?

Stay tuned.  Monday’s follow-up is surely to be picked up by the Herald.

 

Tweet Two llamas jumpstarted a writing career.

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Llamas can be put to good use on farms
by Melinda Brainard
CAVALIER COUNTY REPUBLICAN, Page 5, Wednesday, June 17, 1981

Lleo and Llouis have long, shaggy, blonde hair, cute little faces and spit when they are angry or are attacked.

No, they’re not members of the latest punk rock band. They’re a pair of llamas that reside at the Don Quam farm, The Little Pembina Ranch, north of Langdon.

Don answered an ad in the newspaper advertising the Wahpeton Zoo had llamas for sale.

“Well,” explained his wife, Geneva, “after Don read the ad, he called the zoo and they told him all about the animals.  When he hung up, Edwin Olson, a friend of ours, said he’d buy one if we did.  They were only six months old when we got them late last fall.”

Llamas are a member of the camel family and originated in South America, where they were used for beasts of burden.

But why llamas in North Dakota?

“To keep coyotes away from our sheep,” laughed Geneva. “We had read an article that told about a rancher who leased llamas to other ranchers to keep coyotes away.  See, llamas are very inquisitive animals and will scare the coyotes away.

“Yes,” added Don, “anything comes into the pasture and the llamas are right there poking their noses in, seeing what it is.”

“When we first got them they were especially curious about people on bikes.  They would walk right up to them and sniff them out.”

As to whether the llamas are doing their job or not, Geneva said, “We haven’t had any coyotes here yet, so we don’t know for sure if they’re going to work. But the day before we picked them up from the zoo, a deer got into their enclosure and boy, did those llamas put the run on that poor deer! That led us to believe that Lleo and Llouis would put the run on any coyote that shows up.”

Apparently the llamas are very compatible with the sheep.

“Oh yes,” Geneva said, “they graze right alongside the sheep and eat whatever they eat.  There’s no problem at all.  llamas are very easy animals to keep.”

“They don’t even bother to try to get out, though I’m sure they could jump any fence,” added Don.

“They even tolerate people taking their pictures,” Geneva teased. 

“They’re also very gentle and will eat out of your hand.  At first I spent a lot of time showing them to people, but I had to coax them over with All-Bran, or some other kind of cereal,” she added.

“Only one thing, they don’t like to be petted at all.  make sure you stay away from their hind feet, too; they’re lethal.  that was the first thing they warned us about at the zoo.”

“Though they used to be pretty wild animals, llamas can become domesticated.  I even saw a llama in a nativity scene once, so that shows how tame they can be,” said Geneva.

Though they are a member of the camel family, llamas have no hump and have long, thick, course hair that is brown, gray, black, or white.

They are relatively small animals, standing only four to five feet high, and their body is only four to five feet long.

“They really have cute faces and are very intelligent and bright looking,” pointed out Geneva.  “They have bi eyes with long eyelashes.  Their legs are long and skinny with shaggy fur and they have a very high spirited run.  But most of the time they just stand there and look darling.”

“A lot of the time they stand right next to each other, with their heads facing the opposite direction. That makes them look like the character out of Dr. Zeus’ books, a Push me-Pull me. This character is actually a two headed llama.  It’s really crazy looking when they stand that way.”

It seems that having such unusual animals in North Dakota would attract quite a few curious onlookers.

“At first there were many people out here to look at them, but I really don’t think too many people even know we have them,” explained Geneva.

“You should have seen one day when the llamas were down near the dam,” said Don, his blue eyes twinkling.  “Some kid darn near fell out of the boat trying to see what they were!”

“I suppose they are a bit exotic for this area,” said Geneva thoughtfully.

Female llamas bear one kid per year, but there will be no offspring for Lleo and Llouis, they’re both male.

“But they’re always together,” commented Don, “you never see them apart from each other.”

Llamas have a split top lip and no teeth on their lower jaw.  This unusual mouth structure enables them to spit a foul smelling saliva when they are angered or attacked.

“We’ve only had one experience with them spitting, laughed Geneva.  “My daughter, Liz Anne, was the one who got spit on.  Now we just make sure nobody upsets them.”

According to Geneva, Lleo and Llouis are the rather silent sort, but Don swears he’s heart them speak Norwegian on numerous occasions.

So, until a coyote shows his face on the Quam residence, Lleo and Llouis will just have to pass time by looking cute and innocent, and telling Norwegian jokes.

Why Seattle Shuts Down When it Snows Two Inches

When we moved from the Midwest to Washington ten years ago, our first winter felt balmy.  We ran around in capris and flip-flops, our new neighbors shivered in parkas, the kind I hadn’t worn since daily trudging a mile across the University of North Dakota campus in blizzard conditions.

On the average, WA was 60 degrees warmer. It was like being on spring break all winter long. 

 One Sunday in January someone from our church called.  “Church is cancelled today.” 

We were shocked.  We’d never heard of cancelling church.

“Why?” my hubby asked.

“Did you look outside?”

Hubby pulled the curtain aside and saw a dusting of snow on the ground. He asked, “Yea, so why did you cancel church?”

Our friend repeated, “Did you look outside?”

“Yes,” answered my husband, “but why did you cancel church?”

“There’s snow on the ground.”

“Yea, I see the snow, but why did you cancel church?”

“Because there’s SNOW ON THE GROUND.”

We laughed.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.  After all, we survived the winter of 1996-7 with 117 inches of snow (that’s nearly TEN FEET, people!) and the interstate shut down 13 times, followed by  the Red River Flood of 1997.

We laughed for a few year years, until we finally understood how and why 1/2 inch of snow is treacherous in our new climate and terrain. 

 

 

Seattle and Snow

1. People don’t have snow gear. 

If you shovel once every couple of years, why would you keep a shovel? I piled my shovels, scrapers,  and snow blower on the sidewalk with a free sign when I moved, I use a pancake turner on my front porch.  Seriously.  I use it smugly and wisely. My library card scrapes my car windows.  I’m very happy with this arrangement.

Obviously, my new neighbors don’t have snow blowers or a blade on the front of their pickups. Wait, most don’t have pickups. The cities don’t have garages full of snowplows that run on a regular basis.  Being unprepared is frustrating, but spending money you don’t have on equipment you rarely use isn’t tax money worthy.

SNOW DAY 057

Sidewalks and streets aren’t cleared.  Maybe I should loan the city my pancake turner.

2.  The hills are treacherous.

  Two nearby hills  are so steep that only a guard rail come between a sliding car, and the houses below.  Most hills don’t have guard rails.

Not a stunt driver. Don’t try this next time it snows.
Actual footage. The sliding bus happened more than once. Mute if you don’t like the music.

North Dakota  is extremely flat.  You slide forwards or sideways, or into a small ditch you could drive out of and not tell your parents.

3.  Many drivers aren’t experienced in snow driving.

I’m not worried about me, I’m worried about them.

Even ND drivers drive into  ditches or “accidentally” spin a cookie.  But people in snowy climates have six months a year to perfect their winter driving skills, not six hours or six days.

Many Seattleites didn’t grow up with parents who taught them how to drive on snow, ice, snow on ice, black ice, slushy snow, and slushy snow on ice.  Add  wind speed, air temperature, and visibility to multiply the weather conditions winter drivers master.  

In the Pacific Northwest you learn to drive in overcast with rain, overcast with fog, overcast with occasional thundershowers. 

4.  Front wheel drive doesn’t work on slippery hills.

No  amount of “I think I can, I think I can “  will get you up the hills without the right vehicle, tires, and ability.Many people don’t understand how front wheel/rear wheel/four-wheel drive works, so they just head out.  Yea, we see SUVs in the ditches, too.

SNOW DAY 086

Others know it’s better to walk up the hill in dress shoes, than slide down in your car. (Review #3 if you are still confused.)

Parking overnight is common, but so are car pile-ups on the bottom of the hills.

5.  People Wanna’ Play

When it snows, you stop and play.  Almost every snowfall makes snowball snow, can you believe it, Midwesterners?  It’s amazing.

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My neighbors, Rick and Sandy,  sculpted this amazing Seahawk.  Actually, Rick did most of the artistic work, we “coached” him.  I provided some pictures,  a few shovels of dirtless snow, and the food coloring, but they included me in the picture, anyway.

Seahawk and Beka 011

There are forts to build, snowballs to throw,

SNOW DAY 125

and snowmen to create.

BEST FACEBOOK POSTS  ABOUT SNOWimage

Kathy –  Facebooking on my front porch and enjoying the snow and also the cars trying to get up our hill.

Vanessa – Please oh please, please stick around until morning, snow!! (We must be the only place on the continent who WANT snow right now).

Sonja – I realize this will NOT be exciting for my friends and family in Minnesota, Ohio, Connecticut, etc., but IT IS SNOWING AT MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW!!! It almost never snows here!! I love it!

LouAnn – It’s a beautiful snowy day in Lacey, WA! Hey! It can happen!

Marilyn – Measured 3-1/2″ so far – yippee!! Hot tub here we come! Love soaking while snowflakes falling

Laura – IT’S SNOWING!!!

Linda – Dreams do come true, Snow is not a fantasy.

Kathleen – I have to say… my aim with a snowball is pathetic, now. More opportunities to practice, please!

Living with six months of snow can be drudgery.  You’re always shoveling, bundling up, warming up, scraping windows, and surviving.

When it rarely snows, it’s a gift to be enjoyed. The morning after our Glorious Snow Day, the rains melted our snow creations into memories. 

That’s the main reason Seattle shuts down for snow. 

Making your home sing Mondays

 

My Husband is The World’s Most Ridiculous Dad

flashback friday

In 2005, we had the privilege of having four, yes  four, count them, teenagers in our house at one time. We thought it would be cool having  six kids close in age so they’d  be friends.  Even if we’d done the math and calculated we’d have teenagers for almost 20 years in a row, two or more teens the majority of those years, we wouldn’t have changed anything. We just might have prepared ourselves a little more for the changes ahead.

When the girls outgrew wearing  Mommy-chosen clothes and wanted to express their own personalities with clothes that were actually in style, it was painful for both sides of the generation gap. Those years of adorable matching outfits sewn by Mommy were definitely over. They had to  wean Mommy from her expectation that her daughters would love her 80’s high-waisted, put-your-socks-on-first jeans.

Daddy, who loved his lovely daughters, but didn’t want the boys to notice how lovely they were,  squawked like a good Daddy about their clothes.  He would have preferred black garbage bags or burlap sacks, because his daughters were his treasures – treasures he wanted to keep buried.

After several discussions, we came to a family understanding.  We didn’t want set rules, because rules stir up theRomans 7 desire to break the rules. We didn’t demand  denim skirts and tennis shoes, but we didn’t want them to dress like Hollywood starlets.   We came up with guidelines. Their clothes had to pass a few inspectors along the way.

1.  The Lord – were they God-honoring?  We tried to instill in our daughters that as Christians they  belong to Him and their life decisions should reflect that. We gave them to opportunity to make wise decisions based on their own faith and conscience.

2. The parents – could we stand their choices?  We didn’t have to like their clothes, but we couldn’t hate them. We gave them leeway  to choose and relieved them from the expectation of looking like us. However, if their conscience didn’t guide them enough, we had veto power.

Daddy’s wisdom in discussing  until we came up with guidelines that pleased everyone paved the way for an easier transition into those years of raising  teenagers. We were encouraged to see the tasteful, stylish clothes the girls chose in their freedom.  They were so good, they started picking out my clothes and providing guidelines for clothes that are flattering  and appropriate for my age. I dressed them when they were young, now they return the favor. 

In 2005, several years after the monumental Introduction of Modern Styles into our household,  Daddy still wasn’t convinced about  low-rider jeans. Usually a seriously minded Office kinda’ guy, the hubbster is known for having occasional outlandish moments that the kids talk about for years and years.

The kids laugh themselves breathless then exclaim, “Oh, Dad, you’re SO ridiculous!”

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This was one of those moments.

He decided to prove how ridiculous low-riders were by trying on our oldest daughter’s jeans.

In front of the whole family.

On Thanksgiving Day.

Not knowing someday I’d be a blogger and reveal all.

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After tugging and pulling and giggling, he got them up this far. (Maybe hubby was  the style inspiration for  teenage boys?)

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Like today’s teenage boys, he found they had to be peeled off.

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But, he wasn’t young and agile, he was an old man losing his balance.  He  humbly begged for help so he wouldn’t fall and break a hip.

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My early digital camera was poor quality, but the blur proves we were busting a gut.

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Toddler Baby can’t figure out why Daddy needs help.  She doesn’t need help.   She dresses and undresses all. by. herself.

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Maybe Toddler Baby is wondering if she should hide her clothes from daddy.  Maybe she’s wondering if he’s going to try on her clothes when she’s a teenager.
Maybe she’s wondering if she even wants to become a teenager.

This episode only proved one thing  – it wasn’t the jeans that were ridiculous.

My children have always declared they have The World’s Most Ridiculous Dad. 

As they mature,  they peel off the memories of their Dad’s ridiculousness and see his wisdom underneath. It’s then they finally understand how treasured they are.

Making your home sing Mondays

I Should Have Passed a Note

Writers see a blank piece of paper or computer screen as an emptiness waiting to be filled.  It’s not alive until our words cover the area in a literary dance. The blankness beckons something deep within that needs to be released.

Artists must feel the same way about when beholding a blank canvas, seeing an exciting possibility for their creative  explosion of paint,  inspiration, and talent.

Children prefer  natural expressions, with less structure and rules.  A blanket of fresh fallen snow is often their favorite medium awaiting creation.

They shuffle, build, and tunnel, forming caves, towers, snowmen, paths, and messages.  Snow can become anything and take them anywhere in their imagination.

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Playing in the snow is no longer a playtime activity for kids, it’s now a recognized art form.

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The snow artist, Simon Beck, sees a field of newly fallen snow as an emptiness to be filled.

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He shuffles to create stunning images, nearly Geometrically perfect.

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Each design takes about 10 hours to make, using snowshoes, a handheld orienteering compass, and pace counting. 

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Then, he posts the images and allows anybody to use them for free. 

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I was  fascinated by his talent and his generosity with his pictures. But  when I saw to this picture, it reminded me of a time when my shuffling in the snow produced a very different result.

I was a 7th grader at the Helena Junior High, a time of angst and crushes. Those same feelings had accompanied most of us through elementary school, too, but  in junior high there were dances and dates, and we keenly felt the expectation that it was time to act on those crushes.  We advanced from kicking or chasing the boys we liked on the playground, to more mature behaviors, like passing notes in the hallway.

By late fall, I had a crush on a kid named Kevin.  Because we both had long, blonde hair, hey, it was the 70’s,  I thought we needed to be a couple.  My last  name ended with a B and his with a C and since our teachers were obsessed with alphabetical order seating charts, several times a day he was very near. 

But, he was very, very shy, and I couldn’t eke out a smile or a blink from him, despite soulful stares down the aisle of Mr. Beveridge’s classroom.

One morning I was trouncing across town to get to school, ya’ know back in those days when you walked everywhere regardless of traffic or weather, and  my heart was too obsessed with my crush to notice the white snow that had covered the  world overnight.

Until I got to the little hill above the junior high football field. There was a beautiful, white rectangle of sparkling snow awaiting my artistry. The vast blankness needed to come alive with a literary dance.

Inspired, I eagerly plotted my course and made my way to the canvas, where I began shuffling my feet to form block letters.

I thought I would leave an innocent message of love in the football field. Since it was at ground level, I didn’t think anybody would be able to read it.  Only me.  People walked by and asked what I was doing, but  I refused to answer. I wanted to keep my crush a secret.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle…… “I L-O-V-E”

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle….”K-E-V-I-N”

Artwork completed, I  headed to my locker across from my first floor homeroom class.  I was surprised to hear kids teasing me about Kevin as soon as I entered the building.

Duh. Duh. DUH!  Kevin’s homeroom was on the second floor.  While shuffling in my black snowmobile boots with the fur-lined hood of my parka pulled up around my face,  I hadn’t noticed classmates gathered in the second-story windows, laughing and pointing.

My secret message wasn’t so secret.

The public declaration so humiliated him, he was still red during our English class  a few hours later.  It took a few days for the snow to melt my embarrassment  and the junior high chatter to focus on someone else. He never did  talk to me.

One good thing about those dumb junior high moments in my day that today’s kids don’t experience – nobody took a picture.  Nobody revealed my angst on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.  I wasn’t publically humiliated for more than a few days, then it died down.

Do You Like Me 001

After that, I gave up snow artistry and let the blankness of notebook paper beckon any messages that begged to be released.

 

 

CLICK TO TWEET: If you would like to share my story of junior high angst with this ready-made Tweet, feel free.

 

My literary dance left my heart in the snow.Tweet

 

My Daughter “Swears” Like Her Father

Once upon a time, my husband was fresh out of college and taught at a private Christian school.  Although we’d been married over a year and had our first child,  we weren’t much older than the 19 year old seniors, so tried hard to maintain a sense of maturity and dignity.  We had high ambitions for impacting the academic and spiritual lives of our students.

One fine day, my husband was called into the principal’s office.  Surprised, he sat down and watch the principal’s face contort and turn red as he delivered a message.

“I had a phone call from a parent regarding your behavior,” he began.

“Really?”  My husband couldn’t begin to imagine what crime he’d committed.

“Apparently, you swore in the classroom,” explained the principal with twitching lips.

“I Swore? But, I don’t swear,” explained my husband.  It wasn’t a standard adopted for the classroom, it was a personal standard he lived by. He wouldn’t have sworn even if he had smashed his thumb with the proverbial hammer.

“Well,” said the principal, “you used a word that’s highly offensive to a family and they called me to complain.  They insisted I speak to you about your classroom behavior.”

Worried he would be given his walking papers, my husband asked, “What did I say?”

“You used the F word,” the principal spoke and refused to let my husband defend himself.

He continued,  “You used the word….fff…fff…FART!”  With that he gave up trying to hold back his emotions and laughed so hard his office chair squeaked on its wheels.

With relieved laughter, my husband promised to never use the F word in the classroom again.

I think we forgot to teach this valuable lesson to our children.  I found this old worksheet from one of my daughters, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Beka's Poetry 001

Yep, a chip off the ol’ block.

My New Breakfast of Champions

 

Experts say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

A healthy breakfast starts the day out right and prevents that mid-morning slump. Since 1933, General Mills has promised that eating a healthy  breakfast can make you a Champion.  Their slogan inspires and sells.

As parents, we’ve repeated this expert opinion and bought those cereals. We’ve given the breakfast lecture repeatedly and freely advise how to make this a lifestyle commitment.

 

    • Get up early enough to allow time to eat.
    • Keep breakfast food on hand so you’re prepared.
    • Choose simple breakfast options so you’ll follow through.

 

We need to set a good example.  We need to fill up in the morning so we have the energy and ability to carry on until noon. A hungry mommy can be a crabby mommy.  Along with traditional healthy breakfast options, I keep my pantry stocked with dried fruits and nuts. I’ve tried a variety of breakfast casseroles, quick breads and instant options. There’s always a quest to make a healthy breakfast faster.

 

 

After friends visited Colombia and brought me a present, I have my new favorite ethnic breakfast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast of Champions

 

This is MY favorite Breakfast of Champions, what’s yours?

Ten Things This Generation Might Say to Their Kids

Our kids don’t look like us.  We didn’t look like our parents.  Our parents didn’t look like their grandparents. Sometimes we want our kids to look like us, and it takes much…..umm…..conversation…wisdom….patience…for kids and parents to come to a meeting place where the child is allowed to express their generation and the parent is allowed the right to veto extremes. Every family is different and sets their own standards. 

A tongue-in-cheek view into those future potential discussions  about two decades from now…

10.  Pull down those pants right now. If I don’t see at LEAST two inches of underwear, you’re not going to school today. Learn to wear your pants and belt like a man.

9.  I don’t care if nobody else has a tattoo. You’re getting one. That’s final. You might be the only kid  with a tattoo, but you have to learn to stand alone. Be a leader, not a follower.

8.  I’m concerned that you’re not spending enough time online. You’re always outside pretending with sticks and dirt or riding your bike. Can you please do something more productive with your life?

7.  When I was your age, I already had five piercings. I just don’t understand you kids today. Is it because your friends aren’t piercing? Are they putting pressure on you to not pierce?

6.  Clothes with no holes?  I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that style.  Aren’tcha’  kinda’ overdressed  for school?

5.  Comb those bangs over your eyes.  It’s redonkulous to show your whole face.

4.  You call that music? Nobody’s screaming. It’s just a bunch of guys harmonizing.

3.  Your mom and I are worried about you. You’re 18 and you’ve never colored your hair purple, green or even red. Are you sure everything is OK? Is there something you’re not telling us?

2.  Why do you wear such boring colors of nail polish? It’s kinda’ drab. Are you sure you’re not depressed?  Do you wanna’ borrow my orange polish? Black? Lime green?

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1.  No matter where you go, the choices you make, what you look like, I will love you, the way my parents always loved and supported me.

Best Answers to Big Family Questionable Questions

I’m astounded my post "Things I Would Never Say to a Parent with Two Kids" caused so much hubbub. To date, I’ve had over 23,000 hits and a lot of great comments.

I learned a few lessons with that post.

1.  Everyone hears rude comments.  I was unaware that insensitive comments really are made to women with 1 or 2 children, to women with none, to women who wait to start their family, single women, etc.  I was blessed readers would share their hurts and their stories to enlighten others (especially me)  with grace.

2. People are amazing. I heard a lot of great ideas of how to answer the insensitive questions people ask. The comments had me laughing for the past few days and also renewed my desire to be gracious in speech. 

Today’s post is in honor of all my commenters who took the time to share their stories. I chose some of the best comments and listed them under the common questions women hear. I ended the post with some great wisdom and encouragement from my readers.

Thank you all for reading and for commenting. 

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Janet’s husband ~ “We keep trying for an ugly one.”

Shaylene ~  “I smile and say, ‘Yes, and do you know what? When I was 13 I wrote in my journal I wanted 3 girls and 2 boys, and can you believe it, my dream came true?’ I say it with pride and enthusiasm. After that comment, they’re are all happy for me.”

Janet ~ “And once, when a store clerk asked me if they were ALL mine, I told her, “Do you seriously think I would round up a bunch of other people’s kids to keep me company while I attempt to try on clothing?”

Lynnaire ~ “When my oldest son was around 10 , if we were walking around town, he would walk at the front of us all and try and read people’s faces. If he saw a strange or disapproving look we would hear him say “yes they are all ours!” . . He got so tired of that same comment that he took it upon himself to inform before they could ask lol.”

Nic ~ “No. They are all God’s, but He loaned them to us for about 20 years.”

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Kendra ~ “Yes, and I like it.”

Family of Blessings ~ “No! But maybe you could explain it to me in detail and maybe draw me some pictures so I understand?” White.As.Ghosts. They walked away, not another word. :) . I was charitable in my tone of voice, but done with their questions. We need to build one another up and not question the actions of everyone.”

jk2b2g ~ “…but next time I might say “I got an A in college biology 101, so yes, I do understand how that all works.”

Jim ~ “You know, we’re still not exactly sure what causes all these kids, but we’re pretty close to figuring it out. We’ve narrowed it down to two or three things. We’ll keep working on it and let you know.”

Paula ~ “I’d grin and say, “Well, I guess we’ve figured it out pretty well, don’t you think?”

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Hollye ~ “I never want my kids to think they are a burden or hindrance. My reply is always, ‘Oh yes! Full of love.’ “

Jennifer ~ “Why yes I do! I am so blessed!..  I have always wanted a large family and my heart aches that I can’t have more children while at the same time It is almost bursting with joy that I have my 4 sweet babies, and people have the nerve to tell me in a negative way that I have my hands full!!!! Your right, I do, I am sooo blessed, it is a true MIRACLE that they aren’t empty…….”

JoDeen ~ “I look them straight in the eye, smile a big, genuine smile, sometimes giggle and in my kindest voice say, “and a full heart, too. My kids love when I am accosted. They walk away from those situations knowing I think they are the bomb.com! Love multiplies, it doesn’t divide.”

 

 

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Kathi ~ One cashier at the grocery store said…”My you must really like kids” to which I replied…Nope it is just the sex I like. That shut her up. (Forgive me Lord)

Momza ~ “I love having a large family! There is always something going on and we enjoy our time together. We are down to the last three at home, and although I am an active Latter-Day Saint mom, I bet I could raise these last ones as a drunk. lol”

Renee ~ “I was at a wedding when pregnant with my 7th child, the man seated across from us – a stranger- said “WOW!! Don’t you guys have a television?!” It had already been established that he and his wife only had 2 children, so I calmly replied, “Yes, but we don’t watch it much. You on the other hand must have a big one and watch it quite often…” He and his wife wen rather red, and he had the grace to stutter back in reply, “Yes…actually we do” :)We are now friends :)

Carla ~ “I came from a moderately large family (five kids) and my dad was always saying things like this about US. (I remember him telling someone that our large family was caused by my mother being hard of hearing. At bedtime, he’d say, “Do you want to go to sleep or what?” to which she’d reply, “What?”)

Carlie ~ “I had someone ask me if they were all planned and I told them no, only one was planned, but we just had so much fun that the birth control just couldn’t keep up with the swimmers……sure made them blush fast.”

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Jackie ~ “When I look at large families, I think how wonderfully blessed they are and God formed each one of those children. It’s awesome to see large families, especially in this culture.”

Kathi ~ “When people would express their sympathy for how many kids I had I would just say that I thought of myself as lucky.”

Carean ~ “He rights the desire of our hearts…and there is no greater place to be than in His will…as the bible says…children are a gift from God…blessed is he who has his quiver full…he will not be put to shame when he meets his enemy at the gates!”

Dawn ~ “I would not change one minute of my crazy, loud life.”

Cindy ~ “I would not trade them for the world.”

mithriluna ~ It’s definitely an opportunity to share about how wonderful it is to have a large family.”

Jennifer ~ “ I have fulfilled my biggest dream in life and am working on my life’s purpose, I have become a Mother.”

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Jennifer ~ “I think a great all-around small talk comment anyone can make to anyone else about their family size is, “”What a beautiful family you have. You must feel so blessed.”

Sonja ~ “The main thing is we need to be gracious to each other, forgiving and accepting. And trying to remember to think about our words before we speak :)

Barb ~ “For me, the point is acceptance that every one is doing the best they can, with what they have for tools at that time in their life. As humans, we do have a lot to learn about grace, acceptance and humanity. Love to all….”

AshMac ~ “But I have found the secret to dealing with such comments: Understand that people, ALL PEOPLE, including you and me, are sometimes insensitive and rude. Practice grace, be grateful for your blessings, and let the joy of the Lord be your strength. :-)

ndev2Niki ~ “We humans sure need a lot of grace to live with one another, don’t we?”

Shirley ~ “Basically we can commiserate with each other on how annoying/intrusive/hurtful these kinds of prying questions are but if we don’t inform the people doing the asking that they’re being inappropriate or hurtful in a firm but gentle way then we just perpetuate the cycle and nothing ever even has a chance to change.”

Family of Blessings ~ Answer the asker graciously or have a little fun. But know that we can never stand in the shoes of another. Not everyone CAN have children. Not everyone WANTS to have children. Not everyone WILL have children and many are combinations of those.  Every life is a blessing and a gift from God Himself.”

abreininger ~ Hopefully your blog post can help people realize that every family is different and that they should keep their judgments and comments to themselves.”

Mandi ~ I wonder why people seem to feel like they should judge one another instead of loving one another.”

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Why I Had Kids Not Dogs

When I moved to the Seattle area, my youngest of six was an adorable toddler with dandelion fluff hair.

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I expected the typical comments about her age, cuteness and overall awesomeness when I took her out in public. After all, she was the top student in the Gifted and Talented Pre-school Program in my Homeschool. I thought talent scouts would be stopping me left and right for modeling contracts.  I was in the big city, now, ya’ know.

Nothing.

Nada.

Zilch.

Never.

I realized  people weren’t as fond of children as they were in the Midwest. I realized people were very fond of dogs. 

But it wasn’t until I dog-sat for a neighbor that I saw how deep dog-love runs in the blood of my PNW neighbors. Otis is a nice dog, well-behaved and well-trained, but poor guy is past his bloom.  Slightly overweight in the middle, he waddles and has more gray hair than I do.  He’s a mutt without papers or pedigree, isn’t too big or too small, doesn’t have  long hair or short hair, has no distinct color or markings, he’s the perfect family dog. 

When I took my adorable toddler and the dog for a walk, dog- lovers stopped many times to pet Otis and talk to him in their doggy voice. One lady even let Otis lick her face. I was almost worried about her dog-napping, she was so enthralled with his gray-bearded face and rheumy eyes. When you aren’t dog-crazy, watching someone sweet-talk a dog is like watching an engaged couple when you aren’t in love. 

As I looked from my adorable white-haired child to this middle-aged dog, to me there was no contest who deserved attention.

It wasn’t the dog.

I felt I had to justify why in the world Seattle I had children, let alone six of them, so began this list in my self-defense.  I’m not opposed to dogs, I just decided if I was going to have anything else in my house with disgusting body fluids, it might as well be someone who could visit me in the nursing home.

 

Why I Had KIDS not DOGS

 

  • My kids  don’t lick friends or strangers.

  • My kids  don’t  introduce themselves to a stranger by smelling them, especially in embarrassing places. (One toddler accidentally punched someone somewhere embarrassing, but with no witnesses, was it really that embarrassing?)

  • My kids don’t pee on the neighbors’ car tires. (One peed in someone’s front lawn at a garage sale while I was busy hunting for treasures. I almost died of mortification, but lived to blog about it.)

  • My kids don’t poop in my yard, the neighbor’s yard, on the carpeting or anywhere else in the house. (I guess one pooped on my sidewalk once, but only once.)

  • My kids don’t bark during the night and wake the neighbors up. (My yelling at the kids during the daytime has been heard a few times, but I can assure you, my kids have never caused the neighbors to lose sleep. Well, at least when I was home.)
  • My kids haven’t thrown-up in the neighbors yard, then gone back to eat it the next day. (EEWWW!  I still am traumatized by this childhood spectacle by the neighbor’s dog, Goldie.  You wonder why I don’t have a dog?)

  • My kids don’t rub their bare bums on my carpet.

  • My kids don’t pee on my flowers or leave little round circles of dead grass in my lawn. (I think there were a few peeing incidents during poddy training, ya’ know, little boys naturally think a tree is a toilet. But, the trees are fine, thanks for asking.  That’s another thing PNW’ers love.)
  • My kids don’t lick my face after drinking out of the toilet. (They’ve all played in the toilet, and I’m pretty sure several drank out of the toilet, but they didn’t lick me afterwards.)

The list is a little graphic, but true.  And after I’ve convinced myself I’ve done the right thing in having children, not dogs, I remind myself of the great future I expect with my six, lovely children.

  • My kids will visit me in the nursing home.
  • My kids will bury me.
  • My kids will push my wheelchair.
  • My kids will give me more grandchildren.
  • My kids will sell my treasures at a garage sale when I’m dead.
  • My kids will change my diapers.
  • My kids will all get dogs of their own.

Not necessarily in that order.

And if any of my kids actually read what I expect from them, they may be writing their own blog post.

“Why I Traded in My Parents for Dogs.”

Making your home sing MondaysWholeHeartedButton

When God Created Mothers

As a pre-teen, I loved Erma Bombeck.  I loved how she laughed through all the stupid things her kids did, because at that age, I was doing those stupid things.  With my  babysitting money, I bought my mom the entire series for Christmas.  They were housed in a wonderful cardboard home, and I knew it would be the perfect encouragement for my mom to live through raising her six precious children.

 

Years later, as a mother of my own six children, I clung to Erma’s words for a different reason. She taught me to laugh when I wanted to cry. She proved you could successfully parent without hurting any of your children.

And underneath her humor she admitted a truth most wouldn’t: parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever have.

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Erma Bombeck’s

Mother’s Day column,

May 12, 1974.

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of“overtime” when an angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?

  • She has to be completely washable, but not plastic;
  • Have 180 movable parts… all replaceable;
  • Run on black coffee and leftovers;
  • Have a lap that disappears when she stands up;
  • A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair;
  • And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands… no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks,’What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ’I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow…”

“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick… can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger… and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,”she sighed.

“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

“Can it think?”

“Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You You were trying to push too much into this model.”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

“You are a genius,” said the angel.

The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there,” He said.