Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - 2nd Grade, or the Year I Found Out My Parents had Friends

This post is part 4 in a 15 week series sponsored by Mommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth. Week four's assignment is age 7/2nd grade.


Yes, until this time in my life, I believed that my parents were put on God's earth to serve my every need and make me endlessly joyful. Of course that didn't always happen, but it was their job, I thought. Somewhere in this blissful ignorance my parents decided to have a cookout.

Most of you are probably thinking, "what's the big deal, sister?" Our own children are 4 and 6 and have sat through countless cookouts with friends and family. But for some reason, be it the distance we lived from our church (those 13 miles were a vast wilderness to forge for the city folk), or my parent's arduous working hours, or a host of other, I-don't-know-so-I'll-come-up-with-some-excuse/reason, it is my perception that my parents were not social and did not have friends. My 7 year old brain computed that as completely normal. We 3 children were friends enough for them, I guessed.

This all changed when they announced we were having a cookout with some friends from church. Not attending a cookout, but having one. This was a new experience for me. What would this look like? Would I know who these "friends" even were?

Then the next big shock came: they were going to invite the Andersons. Wait. Did you say the Andersons? Like the parents of the boy in my class? You know them??? Once I recovered from the shock of finding out that my parent's social group blended into my own social group, I was able to get excited that kids my age would be coming over to play, even if they only had boys.

The cookout went splendidly, as I recall. I know there was more than one family there, but I only remember all of us kids playing in the backyard tree until after dark (which is one of the best things about your parents having friends over, I discovered, they let you play way past your normal bedtime).

It was a defining moment for me, to consider my parents as social beings who desired to connect with their peers as much as I did. Maybe Mom and Dad didn't just exist to serve me . . . no, that can't be right. I think I'll stick to my original conclusion.

Recent Etsy Finds

I never have to look far into Etsy to find something I like. Here are my recent purchases:

From Vintage and Glam, these little bird earrings caught my eye. I love how whimsical they are. I've been wearing them a lot this summer already.

This necklace and the following earrings are from Piper Blue. I LOVE these. Delicate and summer-y, these are perfect for a scoop neck t-shirt or a dress.

Piper Blue had many other pieces I liked, but this girl's gotta answer to her husband for all these purchases. So the next best thing is to add them to my favorite's list and hope he peruses the list before my birthday!

Check out both the sites. I'm sure you'll find something you like!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - 1st Grade

This post is part 3 in a 15 week series sponsored by Mommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth. Week three's assignment is 1st grade/6 years.


I tried in vain to come up with a cheerful story from my 1st grade year. And maybe I did have an exceptional birthday or Christmas, but alas, that year is scarred forever in my memory because I did not like my 1st grade teacher.

Her name was Miss Broom, and although I'm fairly certain she was a kind person outside of the classroom, she was VERY stern and strict as a teacher. And now, as a mature adult, I understand the necessity of strictness in a classroom, especially at the time when most kids had only 1/2 day of kindergarten and first grade was their first foray into all-day school. But nonetheless, I felt like Miss Broom was out to get me and I was often out of her favor.

It all started so innocently. It was the first day of school and we were introduced to real desks with our names printed on them, full of wonderful textbooks that were so inviting to page through. The room was decorated brightly and cheerfully, just as you would expect any elementary classroom to look. There were pictures and books and a table full of learning toys that just begged us to stare longingly at them. And that is where I had my first encounter with Miss Broom.

She had just dismissed us to line up at the door to leave for the day. I had survived, unscathed up until this point, and although I was wary of her sternness, I had yet to provoke her anger. Until, that is, I passed the table with all the learning toys on it and my eye fell to the one toy I had been staring at all day.

It was a teal green plastic microscope with gigantic, bugged out eyes on the front. This was a toy meant to be played with, it was not a technical piece of machinery. And as we lined up to leave, with strict instructions to do so quietly, I slowed my pace as I passed the table and quietly mouthed, to no one in particular, "Wow. That is so cool!"

Well, nothing got by the strict eyes of Miss Broom, and she was quick to pull me out of the line and required me to stay after school to reprimand me. I was shocked. I had never been in trouble, and certainly not on the first day of school! I withstood my scolding and was released to get my things, the hallway already eerily silent. The other students were outside getting picked up by their parents, and I had to walk, shame-faced, out of the school on my own.

My brothers were waiting for me and I confessed through tears that I had to stay back for disobeying. They didn't think it was anything to get upset over and even told me to expect it for the whole year - Miss Broom's reputation proceeded her. But it ruined my first day of school.

The year went on and I ceased to be the only child reprimanded (luckily I did not have a nose-picking problem, for they were the lepers of the class), but I always felt Miss Broom had it out for me and I had forever tarnished my up-till-now flawless reputation.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Allison

To my baby, Alli, on her 4th birthday:

Sweetheart, I cannot believe that you are 4 years old! You still seem to be a toddling 18 month old in my mind. The years have gone too fast. You have grown up so quickly and are becoming quite the little lady, with your preference for dresses and all things princess. I love your willingness to share kisses and hugs and for saying you always want to be my baby. I love your friendship with your brother and how you often call to him for help before you call for me or Daddy. I love how you want to be around me and help me clean or cook or weed the garden. I know God has a perfect plan for your life, and I pray that you will always be sweet and submissive to His goals for you.

I love you, Missy Moo, have a glorious 4th birthday!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - Preschool Memories

This post is part 2 in a 15 week series sponsored by Mommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth. Week two's assignment is preschool/kindergarten years.


I don't have many concrete memories of my preschool days. Mostly I just remember snippets of time, often jogged into my memory by old photographs.

I remember sitting on my knees on the couch looking out the front picture window waiting for my older brothers to get home from school with our faithful dog, Rufus, by my side.

I remember running around the back yard and swinging on the tire swing that hung from the box elder tree with my neighbors, Jeremy and Jenny and Trish.

I remember the long drive to church (a whopping 13 miles!) and how my mom used to make us sing choruses to keep us kids from fighting with each other.

I remember joyfully playing in my room - Barbies, teaching school to all my dolls and enjoying each and every stuffed animal I owned, even though I had many.

My brothers and I wading in a Kentucky creek with my grandma

But one solid memory, forever etched in my mind is the memory of my grandmother, Beaulah. My mom's own mother, she was my favorite person in the world. Loving and kind, always willing to have us over and make no-bake cookies with us, she embodied everything you expect in a grandmother. She lived just 4 or 5 blocks from school and I remember walking that distance
with my older brothers to hang out at her house after school when I was in kindergarten until our parents could pick us up.

She would often have us sleep over and although I only remember sleeping on her couch, the story is told that she would put the littlest one in the bathtub to sleep so we wouldn't roll off the bed. I only remember her living in a tiny, one bedroom apartment, but my mind seems to have memorized that home. She collected salt and pepper shakers and I would stand for what seemed like hours looking carefully at each individual set, even playing with some when she felt I would be trustworthy enough not to break them.

I remember her love for cats, Siamese cats to be specific. She had a porcelin lamp shaped like 2 Siamese cats with a small bulb in the back whose light only escaped through their oval eyes. I was both scared and intrigued by that lamp.

I remember celebrating Christmas Eve with her, in that miniscule place we would cram both my family and her son's family, all clammoring to have a moment of her attention. She didn't necessarily lavish us with gifts, especially compared to today's standards for Christmas, but she always seemed to pick out the best present for each of us. I was never disappointed from her gifts; she knew each of us well and reflected her knowledge in that way.

She worked at the hospital in town. My mom would bring us to visit her on many occasions and we would ride the slow elevator to the basement and walk down the long, green corridor to the laundry room to see her and she always took the time to stop and visit with us, and pose for a picture if my mom remembered the camera (and she usually did!). She would squeeze all of us around her and we would willingly smile, cherishing those stolen moments with her before she returned to her work.

My memories of my beloved Grandmother end before I graduated from Kindergarten, as she died of a heart attack just days after her 61st birthday. Of course as a child, your grandmother always seems old, and as I mourned her, I didn't fully realize how young she was to die. Now that I have children of my own, I understand better how young she really was, and what a tragic loss it was for my mother, as well it was for us.

When I think about my life as a preschooler, my memories may be snippets, but no memory is more precious than the few years I was honored to know my Grandma.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days

This post is part 1 in a 15 week series sponsored by Mommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth. Week one's assignment is your birth/naming story.

"What an interesting/unusual/pretty name you have!" is usually the comments I hear from people when they first meet me. Sometimes they ask me to spell my name, sometimes they guess it's origin (French is a common query) and often they just tell me they have never met a "Donette" before. No matter what exclamation I hear, it is still the same. I cannot introduce myself without some comment about my name.

For years I *strongly disliked* (never say hated) my name. As a child, I was often called "donut" (it does not help that there are Hostess powdered "Donettes" out there), but I've heard "been-there-donette," "Darnit" and many other not-so-intelligent puns on my name. My parents still remind me of the times I begged them to change it. The most common name I longed for? Star. Yep, Star. Now that wouldn't have been mocked at all.

I wish I had some magical, epic tale about how my name came into being, but it is actually quite simple. My parents were looking through the baby name book after my birth and saw the name "Danette" and decided to change it to "Donette" because my dad's name is . . . you guessed it, Don. They, of course, thought it was beautiful and unique and perfect, even as I later questioned their sanity. The funny part of the story comes when they came to church the first Sunday after I was born and an older woman approached them and said, "Donette is my name!" My parents were shocked - here they imagined they were the only ones who could invent such a perfect namesake, and there was one all along sitting in the same sanctuary as they were. Oh well, she spelled hers with two n's, so it was unique enough to placate my parents.

I have encountered one other Donette over the years - while sitting in a waiting room before I met my college advisor and I wanted to ask if she had the same love/hate relationship with her name, but she just gave me a weird look after our name was called and went back to the advisor's office before I could speak.

Now I embrace my name. I joke that I should have changed it before I started college, as I could have taken on a new identity, but I'm glad I never did. It's a tribute to my dad, and to my parent's bravery in taking artistic license on a published name. I may have to spell it whenever I meet someone new and I may have to endure the questions, but it's my name, and I wouldn't be me without it, I think.

And as a tribute to the name, Dan and I chose it for the daughter we lost in pregnancy. I don't think I would have chosen it as her name had she lived, for I know too well the trials she would have endured, (petty as they really were), but as a simple way to embrace the name, honor my daughter and accept it as part of my legacy and now hers, too.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Stay Tuned

Starting Thursday, and going for the next 15 weeks (hopefully!) I will be participating in recording my youth with Mommy's Piggy Tales. This is a great site about parenting and memories that is encouraging participants to blog or vlog (that seems to be beyond my technical expertise!) stories from their childhood to share. The first week's topic will be my birth/naming story. This should be a lot of fun, and I'm excited to take the time to really think about my childhood and record those stories that are important to me. Hope you all stay tuned for the series!