Sunday, March 30, 2014

Too blessed to be stressed

Hubby grilled. I prepared salad, deviled eggs, relish tray, cheesy potatoes, balked beans, fruit salad and desserts. The doorbell started ringing at noon and our children and grandchildren arrived one after another for the next hour. The house was noisy; the laughter pealed, the children made cupcake crumb trails, the adults came back for seconds.

Our 17 year old grandson still loves hearing me tell the story of his birth: he looked right into his mom's face as she spoke to him right after he was born. I pronounced him a genius then and there. His daddy would wrap him in a blanket time and again, and each time his little feet would flop out the other end. Most newborns have that frog-leg syndrome; not our boy. He was growing those legs from birth. He now wears a size 15 shoe and is a volley ball pro at 17. He's 6'4" and does he have a future!

Our little darling with red ringlets who used to toddle and jabber, is readying herself for prom. Her brother is a freshman in high school and has shot up and out of sight. The 13 year old who loves red hot corn curls was surprised when Grandpa surprised her with her very own bag of them.

My son and his family came bearing news: they sold their house and are moving; their daughter has a lead in her school play, and her 11 year old brother still sits beside me and asks me to rub his back.

My daughter and her husband brought an old photo album. Yes, there were comments.

Bill looked at his "little girls" and wondered where the years went. Their husbands watched War of the Worlds. Hubby and I told them the original was so much better.

From preschoolers who can sing Twinkle Little Star to an almost 21 year old grandson with a  very lucrative lawn care business (makes more than our combined income) and our 24 year old first "baby" who is 12 weeks away from having her own little pumpkin...cousins who still tease one another...OUR FAMILY! What a fun, sunny day. I am exhausted and feeling so blessed to have  such happy, healthy kids all together at the same time. Hope you have a great week.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Drawing to a conclusion

Here is a photo of my first class of preschoolers at Christy United Methodist Preschool, 1976
My assistant Sue Bundren, Miss Linda, Helen Rogers (my mentor)
I've been reflecting on time as I want to rush the next few weeks to spring break.

A few more weeks later and the school year will be over.

A week after that a new baby is due.

When the days drag, I remember how fast this month has flown.

Then, I look back and wonder where the years have gone.

I sometimes don't recognize that old gal in my mirror, but once in awhile I get a glimpse of the young woman she used to be. School pictures arrived. I always place my class photo in a school album.

38 years worth of photos, four classes each year: morning and afternoon 3s class and morning and afternoon 4s class, 152 classes in all. WHO IS that young mother, overseer of students, daughter and son? I hope when my days are over, my "kids" will say, "Job well done."


Tuesday, March 25, 2014


No mother should have to bury her son. This evening we attended a visitation followed by the funeral of my friend's 38 year old son who took his own life. There were so many questions and no answers. So much pain for his parents, brother, ex wife, children and loved ones. Yet there was a certain amount of joy, as family and friends gathered to celebrate his life. They shared anecdotes, and they also shared stories about the photos on display. The pastor talked about how this young man had come to accept God. He spoke about how easy it is to cast blame, but that no one sitting in that room was perfect. How true.

There wasn't a dry eye in the place when my friend walked to the pulpit and turned her back to the visitors then turned to face her boy. She read him a poem. Her love, her pain, touched each of us, especially the mothers in that room.

There is so much guilt associated with suicide, and it is much more prevalent than one would think. In our pew alone, four people had dealt with the issue in their own families.

This is the 3rd suicide in a month for us. It really leaves a gaping hole in the heart.

Suicide is one of those embarrassments no one talks about. Then once the truth comes out, there is a bond that unites. My friend will most likely join a support group. I ask for prayers for Gerri whose son will be cremated tomorrow. The service was beautiful!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

These little piggies

These little piggies went to market. These little piggies had a rough winter, so I took my dear sweet granddaughter to get a pedicure, because that's what grandma's do for their preggos.

As she sat in that spa chair, I reminisced about her baby days when I kissed and counted her piggies. I bought her shoes from birth through high school.

These feet have carried Nana's girl through life so far. I can still see her in her little purple sweat suit on my mother's lawn as she took her first steps.

All of us, no matter where we are in our life's pursuits, have to start with baby steps.

Next, she was off and toddling, giggling, and getting into everything.

Before she was three, she zoomed into my classroom for a visit, sat down and joined us at circle time. When I asked the class, "If babies are little, then mommies are____?" Ashley blurted, "BIG, and Nana's are FAT." Laughter rang out from my coworker and also the teacher next door.

Three years of preschool because of her fall birthday, made me one happy grandma to have her so close all those years.

Then, she was off and strutting into kindergarten and paving the way to so many successes during her school years.

Ahhh, high school! I wonder if she remembers running all day on those tootsies, as we shopped for her prom dress. All day, and then we ended up back at the first store.

She marched right into the heart of a coworker when she was 17, followed her path through college and, then two years ago she marched down the aisle with her sweetheart.

Today they are weeks away from kissing the little piggies of their little boy, Liam. She went for an ultrasound yesterday, and the technician placed the wand on the right side of her belly. The tech said, "Oh look, there are his little piggies. Ooops!" She trailed the wand across her belly to the left side. "Oh no, there go his little piggies!" He curled into a fetal position, flipped over and poked his bottom up to the camera. Let's just say his daddy is proud, but his mama has to go to the hospital for the Cadillac of ultrasound machines so they can get a good look at his spine.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I never raised a mealy mouth!

Did I ever tell you about my wonderful granddaughter who has had a way with people since she was a little girl? I am sure I have written countless tales about her. But this one is about her NOW.

She works at an insurance agency. Seems a very crabby woman called in early February to complain about her rates being raised. She asked to be transferred to the boss and everyone in between. My dear girl's desk was the last to receive the call-back-tomorrow message. She picked it up and read it, reviewed the file and started dialing the phone. Her boss motioned NO and said to give the gal 24 hours to calm down. My dear girl just smiled and said, "I can handle this."

She told the woman who she was and what company she was representing, and then before the woman could get out a word, Ashley said, "If I were you I'd be really mad about this too, but the person you should be mad at is your husband. If I were you, I wouldn't give him a Valentine's present or even a birthday present this year. And if I were in your shoes and discovered he'd received a big speeding ticket which affected our insurance rates, and he hadn't even told me about it, I wouldn't give him sex either!"

The woman began laughing. They talked for fifteen minutes and Ashley sold her a $600 policy. Her boss dropped his hand from his forehead, closed his mouth, and gave her a bonus on the spot. He said, "How did you do that!?

You know how? She connected with a stranger on that woman's level at that moment in her life when things were bleak. She addressed the issue: ANGER. She presented the problem The Ticket, and gave her a solution while diffusing with humor.

 Sometimes you just need a new approach; be different than the other person; make your work stand out whether your work is visual, spoken or written. Write on.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

All the colors in the rainbow

There seems to be a prevalence of autism spectrum related disorders, especially in little boys. Or is it that educators and practitioners are more aware of symptoms and now have a label for what we used to call quirky kids?

My poem is on line at this link. Please "LIKE" the page and share this information with others, as this is the first issue for Spectrum Magazine. Wishing them the best.

Thank you for your visits to my blog. By the way, I have been invited to help a celebrity set up a blog. More later.


 by Linda O'Connell
Couldn't keep that boy contained.
His colors eased off the spectrum and he
refracted himself all over the place.

Couldn't speak softly, sit still,
tolerate certain textures in his mouth,
hands, or on his body.

He ran with the wind,
tornadoed by, sliced into
personal space like lightning.

Driven to move, groove,
our boy could behoove
the best professionals.

I abhor leashed toddlers,
though even on a rein
his mama couldn't lead him.

Her choices: turn on him and make a scene,
or turn him loose, keep an eye on him,
hope not to be seen.

While the cute little devil
couldn't be contained,
guardian angels watched over him.

Professionals yo-yoed his meds
flip-flopped his moods
tinkered with his appetite.

When they got it just right,
he looked up with delight
and said, "My brain finally quit talking."


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Some things you have to see to believe

I was taken by surprise by a pair of lovely____ fill in the blank, tell me the first thing that comes to your mind.

I was at the mall and went into the dollar jewelry shop. I needed a costume turquoise necklace, and was intent on finding the right one. I heard two women behind me talking.

#1 "Oh you know I'm a fancy girl and I need me some bracelets, some pretty bracelets. OOH girl, look at all these pretty ones."

#2 "I am so hot. Feels like my ears are on fire."

#1 "Well girrrrrl, you be going through your change; that's what it is for sure."

# 2 "I think I am!"

I turned around to smile knowingly at these gals who had to be my age. WRONG. They were maybe 30 years old, 6 feet two inch African-American males, one a transvestite and the other, going through his/her "change," which had nothing to do with menopause.

I am of the notion, live and let live, but I've got to tell you, I almost snorted when I turned around and saw those football player size dudes breathing down my neck in that teeny store. I hoofed it right on out of that store and next door to Sears. Whew! Fill in the blank answer....guys.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Clubs and pubs

Here is the link to my latest publication in Tiny Lights, A Journal of Personal Narrative You'll need to scroll down to read my response to the question about discovering my literary roots.

I hope you enjoy my essay. I encourage you to write one of your own.  Speaking of literary roots. When my oldest granddaughter was four, she thought all books were written by children. As I read  Little Red Riding Hood, she looked at me and said, "Nana, don't you think the kid who wrote that had a little violence in him?" She always made me laugh out loud.

So does my hubby. This evening we passed Burger King and read a sign on their marquee announcing the BK CLUB. He said, "There sure must be a lot of lonely people in this world if they're starting clubs at Burger King. What do these people do, sit around and compare how many pickles they have on their sandwiches?" I was laughing so hard I couldn't reply. He took it literally!

Will you share with me briefly, where did your literary roots begin?


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Telling Tales Out of School

More than 20 years ago, the young, short, single mother with olive complexion, piercing eyes and long dark hair (Hispanic, maybe?) walked into my classroom with her three year old in tow. He wore a three piece suit on the first day of school. When she introduced me to "My little man" she said, "We travel all the time. I open a map and he points to a spot. Then I get reservations from  Greyhound Bus, and we go there for vacation."
I wondered if they'd taken three trips already, or more. I smiled and welcomed them. I treat everybody with kindness and respect.

Next the obese, mentally challenged parents of two sons (one institutionalized, large for his age, violent six year old) barged in to my class with their large for his age, awkward in every way three year old. They had poor personal hygiene and spoke boisterously. Newspaper reports indicated the mother earned money hooking, and I do not mean rugs. I treat everybody with respect and kindness. I smiled and welcomed them.

In December, I sent a notice announcing an upcoming field trip to Santa's house.

The little man's mama said to me, "I am not riding on that bus with that stinking man! Can't you do something about his offensive odor? I expect you to tell him to take a bath. If you don't, I am going to dump a bottle of perfume on him as I walk up the aisle."
I explained that it was not my place to discuss his personal hygiene.

The next day, I saw a paper bag outside my classroom door. The contents: half used underarm deodorant, a partial bar of used soap and other hygiene products. I placed the entire bag into the trash can in clear view of anyone walking into my classroom.
That was a mistake. We went on the field trip. There were no incidents.

I received anonymous, threatening letters, written in first, second and third person. "Your teacher, (my name) is in big trouble. They are going to get us. (Her name) has heard, we are both in danger and she will pay. (Her name) is worried about what might happen  to us..." The rambling letters arrived for a couple weeks.

I greeted that mother with a smile every day, and we both pretended we didn't know. She was extremely nice to me.
Then, one night I was teaching an adult education class when I received a phone call in the office. My ex-husband said, "Who are you messing around with?"

I immediately took offense. He said, "I don't care, but some woman just called me at my work and said, "Tonight's the night your wife is going to die."
I reported the incident to my supervisor and we called the police. I was in tears by the time they arrived. The police officer asked if I suspected anyone. I pulled her enrollment file, and we compared handwriting. BINGO!  He said that they couldn't act on idle threats, but if the woman did anything, then I should call them back. I went ballistic. I cried, "She lives in the neighborhood and I am not walking to my car alone tonight." I said a lot more. The guy was nice. He said, "What would you LIKE me to do?"

 I said, "I'd like you to accompany me to this woman's door and tell her you are concerned for HER welfare as well as mine, because I have been receiving threatening letters that include her name. Tell her you're running fingerprints, and you are this close to catching the person. That way we are not accusing her; we're appearing concerned for her, but she'll know we know."

He looked at me. "Seriously?"
I said, "Seriously. Please?"

We drove a block away, he banged on her door and repeated my schpeel.
I reiterated, "You need to be careful, you're mentioned in these letters."

She was speechless, nodded and looked like a deer caught in headlights. The officer dropped me off at school and wished me good luck. After my class I asked for an escort to my car from the custodian. The officer probably went back to the station and told everybody about the wacky teacher and the crazy perp.

The next week was Christmas. Most parents gave me Dollar Store gifts, homemade Christmas cookies or handmade ornaments from their children. (This was before gift cards)
This woman's little boy came in and presented me with TEN wrapped presents. If I ever had any doubt...
The letters ceased. When my mother sat in one day to sub for a few hours, this woman befriended her and raved on and on about how wonderful I was. There were no further incidents.

At the end of the school year, she came up to me and said, "Ms. Linda, I just want you to know I have quit drinking all together. I used to drink a lot." Neither of us mentioned the letters. This was her apology.

I smiled and said, "Good for you." Then I changed the subject and asked, "Where are you going on vacation?"

I learned from that incident that confrontation isn't always the best way to handle a problem. I also learned that when parents ask if I know anyone in the car business not to mention the dealership where my family member works. No more personal details.
I wish this were the end of the story but...during the summer I was babysitting. My granddaughter was three and misbehaving when we went into the store for milk. I'm ashamed to admit I used a colloquialism  I should have never used. I snapped, "Stop acting like a hoosier." (I did not mean a resident of Indiana.)

She asked for a definition. I said, "Someone who does not know how to behave." After I strapped her in her car seat, she saw... YOU GUESSED IT! That mother, walking across the parking lot with her little man. My little sweetie leaned her head out and shouted, "Are YOU a Hooiser?" I sped away without looking back.
I put my darling down for a nap. Then her mama came for her. She told her they were going to see her paw-paw (my ex).

My daughter called that evening to tell me about his "incident." He greeted her and teased, "Hey how's preschool. Do you have a boyfriend yet?"
"Yeah I do."

"Whose your boyfriend?"

She stomped her foot, put her hands on her hips and said, "NO, Paw-paw!"
He asked, "So, you DON'T have a boyfriend?"

She shouted, "I DO TOO!"
He said, "So, whosjyourboyfriend?"

She cried out, "He is NOT a hoosier!"

This is a true story!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I did it!

I cried when I turned 30. I rejoiced when I turned 40, and I didn't mind turning fifty, or even sixty because of the senior discount perks. 

In three months, ninety days from today, my personal calendar will scream at me: OLD TIMER. Today, in preparation for eligibility, I signed up for Medicare. Yikes!

I remember when my parents had to go through the red tape and rig-a-marol. Thank goodness for computers. Still confusing as ever, but I did it. Now I might tackle all of the buttons on my I Phone.

I am feeling mixed emotions: a bit melancholy, very grateful that I have lived this long and am healthy and do not have to take prescription drugs. I am sad because I have lost so many friends, and so many friends and family members are suffering from cancer and other debilitating illnesses including paralysis.

I feel like I am standing midway in a tunnel...looking over my shoulder back at my past. I also feel as if I am looking forward, ahead to what's yet to come and making the most of the rest of my life. 

My bucket list includes kissing that little baby boy growing in my granddaughter's tummy. I would also like to escape winter by heading south. Bill and I have jokingly said we will just hop in the car and travel North, East, West, South. 

Nobody is promised tomorrow, and although I have plans and dreams, I can only live for today, pray for those in need and help those I can.

What I have learned is that a smile offered is usually returned, and being kind to everyone is a necessity for peaceful coexistence. Today I plan to give away smiles.

You know what would really make ME smile? If I heard from Blue Mountain Arts, the company that has been shopping my verse for one year (this month) in a greeting card test market. Send some good vibes, will you?
Spring is in the air, almost 50 degrees today. Oh and it is school picture day.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

All Bears Need Love

 Last week was Teddy Bear Day at preschool. I won this book a few weeks ago. It will be incorporated into Teddy Bear day year after year.

What a powerful message for young children to hear.
The students brought a bear to school. It accompanied them around the room all day. At circle time, we counted, sorted and classified them. I showed them my bear who had bandages on his arm, a Band aid  on his cheek, and gauze on his leg. I placed him in a small chair next to me and demonstrated what happens when a bear, or a boy or girl are not strapped into their car seat or seat belt. I told them a trash truck stopped in front of me and I had to stop quickly. I demonstrated how Billy Bear hit the dash, the window and the floor and got lots of boo-boos. Next, I strapped him with an elastic belt and buckled him up. I "stopped" really quickly and Billy stayed in his seat. We talked about riding safely in a car. We sang the buckle up song.
We did floor exercises with our bears, lifted them with only our ankles squeezed together. We did the Bear Hokey Pokey, and we marched to music with our bears.
I read, Who Wants an Old Teddy Bear, Anyway?! It is a story about a boy who wanted a rocket ship for his birthday from his grandma. Instead he opened his package to find a teddy bear. He kicked it and yelled, "Who wants an old Teddy bear, anyway?!" That night he dreamed he went to Teddy Bear Land. A grandma bear was so thrilled to find a little boy, she mailed him to her grandson bear for his birthday. The bear wanted a train and was upset to find the boy, and yelled, "Who wants a boy, anyway?!" They became the boy's dream, and when he awoke he found the Teddy bear from his grandma in bed with him.  The children acted out the book. They tossed their Teddy bears and they kicked their bears high in the air and shouted, "Who wants an old bear, anyway?!" The kids laughed themselves silly. Next, we bounced the bears one at a time on a bed sheet.
Before snack time I read, Teddy Bear Picnic. The little boy was afraid of bears in the woods when his mama took him on a picnic. She forgot a pie in the car and told him to wait by the picnic basket. A bear came along, and the boy hides inside the picnic basket. The bear sat down on the basket. The story is cute as can be, and you can see the students' emotions go from fear to funny as the bear jumped up and snatched the blueberry pie and ran away.
We colored a large paper tablecloth at the table. Then I piled several toy food items on the table cloth and took one away. They had to guess which healthy food item was missing each time. At the conclusion, we ate...what else, Teddy Grahams.
Tanya Valentine's book, All Bears Need Love, based on the adoption of her son, is heart warming. My students loved it! You might have someone in mind who would enjoy, too. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Not Your Mother's Book...just what it implies

If you've been there/done that, you know how it is! Some of the stories in this book will make you laugh out loud remembering. New or expectant moms will swear, "Not me! Not ever."

Let's share the laughs. Please tell someone all about Not Your Mother's Book...On Being a Mom. 

This anthology, co created by Dianna Graveman, along with Ken and Dahlynn McKowen of Publishing Syndicate, would make a fantastic Mother's Day gift for the women in your life. It will be available nationwide on April 8th. Please check it out. My story about my surprise "tattoo" is included in this anthology. Can't wait to get this book in my hands.

Would you mind posting about it on your site? Thank you!