Sunday, May 15, 2016

Life As a Little Sister

 Hi everyone! I'm in the process of writing about my memories and experiences as a child ... the good, the bad, and the ugly of it... so I guess that means I have to tell on myself every once in awhile too . We had a lot of fun growing up together and always get a good laugh out of our crazy antics as children so I thought it would be fun to share some of those stories- from my perspective as the little sister. My older brother and I played a lot but fought a lot too. He seemed to enjoy talking me into things, frightening me, and wrestling with me. My sister and I didn't fight quite as often because of our age difference, but as she can tell you, sharing a bedroom with your kid sister brings it's own set of problems...  Here's part two of My Life As a Little Sister.

   My sister and I are great friends now but I have to admit that I wasn't always the best little sister. We shared a room and though we had a good relationship, let's face it, little sister's can be kind of bratty. I followed her around, spied on her if possible, and occasionally snooped through her things
   For instance, when she was fifteen or sixteen and I was about nine years old, she would often sit on our bed and write in her diary. If I asked what she was writing, she'd say, "None of your business" or "Stop being a pest!" (You know, the kinds of things that little sisters get told on a daily basis). When I tried peeking over her shoulder, she would snap it shut and lock it up with a little key that she kept hidden. Once or twice I caught a glimpse of a few words written on the first few pages.

 "Keep out!" and "Private!" it said in big letters. 

What in the world did she write in that little book, and why wouldn't she let me see? It had to be something good I thought. Why else would it be under lock and key? Who knew what kind of secrets or information that little book held?

   Finally I could take it no more, and when I couldn't find the key, I found Mama's scissors and cut the thin little strap that kept it secure. I quickly opened it up and the first thing I read was "Went to Grandma's and ate beans."  No kidding! That's what it said. The rest of the pages said things like "Twila loves Britt" and "Dreaming of Britt", but it contained nothing very exciting to my nine year old mind. I couldn't figure why this had been such a big deal. Heck, I'd ate beans at Grandma's house and everyone knew that she and Britt liked each other. He was a big ol' country boy that lived near my grandparent's house and whenever we visited, they would sneak off to the horse barn and kiss. I knew this because 1) I spied on them and 2) Mom would send me to go look for them every so often and report back to her.
   I quickly flipped through more pages covered in hearts as I kept a close eye on the bedroom door. Within a matter of minutes I heard feet in the hallway and I hurried to put it away before I was caught red-handed. As I moved toward the dresser to put it back in her drawer, I suddenly realized something! I had cut the strap and now there was no possible way to lock it back up! When she opened the drawer and saw it, she'd know what I'd done! She'd tell Mom, and I'd be getting the belt again.Thinking quickly, I knew I had to hide the evidence. I ran and threw it where no one would ever find it.... under my parent's bed.
   I've since come to the conclusion that I was in panic mode because I knew full well that my mom was a fanatic about cleaning! Every few Saturdays, we had to scrub the grout in the bathroom with bleach and a toothbrush for goodness sake! Of course, Mom found the diary two days later when she dust-mopped her room and I got that spanking because not only had I invaded Twila's privacy; I'd also been denying having anything to do with the diary's disappearance. 
      This incident, however, pales in comparison to the night my sister came home drunk. A year or two after the diary episode,  I was awakened one night by bumping noises and the sound of loud voices in our hall. The hallway light was on and shined brightly into my bedroom, blinding me as I strained to see what was going on. The clock said 1:20 AM, a whole hour and twenty minutes past my sister's curfew, and she was not in bed beside me. This, along with the tone of my mother's voice, told me something big was going on and that someone was in big trouble. Naturally, I sat up to to ...see what was happening.
     My mom stood in the hallway in her fuzzy orange robe with a scowl on her face and both hands propped angrily on her hips. My sister stood a few feet in front of her in a blue dress that looked as if she had spilled something down the front of it. Her arms were wrapped across her stomach and  her high heels dangled loosely in one hand as she swayed back and forth, looking as if she might fall down at any moment. She had gone to her first wedding reception and my mom was livid that she'd stumbled/crawled to our front door throwing up and undeniably as drunk as a skunk.
    Oh my! This was something I'd never seen before!  I quietly scooted to the end of the bed to get a better look. To my amazement, Twila seemed to be taking Mom's lecture in stride, listening with a silly expression, almost a smile, on her face at times. As she wobbled and bumped against the wall, she tried to deny the state she was in, but I could barely make out her words as she slurred everything she tried to say. 

   "I'm ... not...druuunnkk..." 
   "Get to bed now!" Mom said, raising her arm and gesturing toward our room.. "You're so drunk you can't even stand up. We'll talk in the morning."

  I quickly flopped back in bed, pretending to be asleep as Twila stumbled around the room and finally got herself into bed. Just as she lay down beside me, a strong repugnant odor of cigarette smoke, beer, and vomit hit my face.

   "You stink," I said and pinched my nose shut for emphasis.

   "Just go to sleep" she slurred and the smell of her breath hit my face again.

   "I can't," I said. "You smell gross!"

    I tried, honestly I did. I turned and faced the other way, but the smell of puke and alcohol was overwhelmingly strong and the fact that I'd been rudely woken up in the middle of the night irritated me.

   "Get up!" I said a little louder this time. "You need to brush your teeth!"

    Her eyes fluttered open for a second as she lifted her head dizzily from the pillow. "Ssshhh, be quiet before Mom hears you," she pleaded.

   "But you stink!" I reiterated.

    She moaned something unintelligible as she shifted in bed and her movement stirred the air again, causing the foul smell to assault my nostrils even more. 

   Maybe it was because the smell really was that terrible. Maybe it was because I was the baby of the family and thought it my duty to report any and all infractions. OK, perhaps it even had something to do with the fact that had recently developed the bad habit of squeezing into my best t-shirts which stretched them out on the top and left them to sag pathetically on my undeveloped form. Whatever the reason that night, I was undeterred.

   "Mom!" I called out. "She reeks! I can't even sleep because she smells like throw-up and beer! It's making me sick! She...she..smells like a brewery!" I proclaimed loudly, secretly pleased that I'd come up with that last phrase. I had no idea what it meant, but I'd heard my mom and grandma use that a few times when discussing someone who was drunk and knew it would get a response.

   It did.

 "Twila Annette, get up!" Mom shouted from her room. 

   And then she announced the dreaded punishment... the one that sent shivers down our spine...the one that we avoided at all cost, especially since Twila had recently seen "The Exorcist" and then told me all about it.  

   "Go sleep in the basement tonight!" Mom ordered. "You shouldn't have been drinking and she shouldn't have to smell your whiskey breath and puke!"
   I hadn't expected that one and for a moment I regretted calling out to Mom and having her relegated to the damp, scary basement. She shot me a look that could kill as she clumsily climbed out of bed and stumbled down the hall toward the basement, taking the horrid smell with her. 
   Luckily for her, I don't think even a demon would have touched her that night and she survived, though she did look a little like death warmed over the next morning. I know this because 1) Mom sent me to wake her bright and early for breakfast and 2) I happily complied. After all, what are little sisters for?   

                        Thanks for visiting my blog today. I hope you had as much fun with your brother and sister as I did growing up. Thank goodness, there were plenty of good times too and they forgive me (I hope!) for being such a brat at times. 
Here's a pic of us having fun on the couch.

See you next blog!

Sunday, May 8, 2016


What a great experience and joy to work with all of these women at the LTYM St. Louis show! 
I made it through two shows without passing out on stage (and believe me, that was a real AND walked away with a ton of memories and 14 wonderful new friends. 
I can't wait to continue our friendships and see what else the future holds! 
Thanks to LTYM;  the talented producers; and to each and every one of you who came out to laugh, cry, and share a little bit of our life. 

I know there are a lot more moms out there with their own special story and I'd like to encourage you to write them down and submit for next year! If I can do it, so can you! 

For more information go to:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Facing the Fear of Public Speaking  

 I enjoy writing stories about my childhood and anyone reading them might think that I - being the youngest child with a ready made audience - never got nervous at being the center of attention. This was somewhat true... in family situations.

See what I mean?

   Outside of my home /in public, however, it was a different story. I was a very quiet and shy little girl that hid behind my long hair and poncho. 

   I did well in school and had friends, but if forced to speak in front of the class, I turned into a bowl of jello. Book reports were a nightmare! It wasn't that I wasn't prepared; I usually did a good job on my assignments, but standing in front of the class while everyone looked at me and listened to my words made me queasy.  As I sat at my desk waiting for my turn, I'd feel sick to my stomach. When the teacher called my name, my heart would begin to pound and race inside my chest. Once I reached the front of the class, it was even worse. My face flushed and burned from embarrassment as I struggled to read the words from the paper that shook noticeably in my hands. It was such a sense of relief to get to the end of the report and make my way back to my seat. I'd take a few deep breaths and feel my heart slowly begin to return to normal. No matter how many times I did this, the sense of dread and nervousness came each and every time. I still battle it today.

   I don't know what it is about public speaking that makes so many of us so nervous. I think part of it is that we worry too much what other people think. I don't want to look stupid. I don't want to sound stupid. I want them to like me! If you suffer from any sense of low self-esteem, those fears are multiplied. The truth is, we are our own harshest critics and many times magnify our own flaws or mistakes when others barely notice them. 

   Over time, I have gradually gotten a little braver at speaking in front of others and thought I would share some of the things that have helped me. Actually, I'm writing this to remind myself of these things too because I cannot believe that I submitted a story to Listen To Your Mother. Even more, I can't believe that I was selected to audition my story and then invited to be a part of the cast! (Is that my heart I feel racing?!) 

   I am beyond excited to be a part of their production which gives moms all over the country a voice. I've never had the pleasure of being in the audience, but I have watched several of the speakers on YouTube and I'm honored to be able to tell my story at the St Louis production in May.
   Here's the glitch... I don't want to look stupid. I don't want to sound stupid. I want them to like me!   :-) 

   Seriously, I feel the nervousness creeping up, but I am psyching myself up for this neat opportunity! For those of you, who like me, still get butterflies in their stomach just thinking about speaking in front of an audience, here are some things I've read that can helpful.

1) Remember that the people in your audience are human just like you. As my grandma used to say,  "They put their pants on just like you do- one leg at a time."  If you make a mistake or stutter over a word, they aren't going to stone you. In fact, since many people get nervous at public speaking, they will probably smile understandably... if they even notice. 

2) Accept the fact that some will like your presentation, while some may not. Who cares? Do the best you can do and remember that's just how life is. As we all know, everyone is different and you can't please all the people all the time. Just be yourself and remember that what you have to say matters. Besides, unless someone forced them in the door, your audience is there because they really are interested in what you have to say. 

3) Try to think of it as a one on one conversation and not as a performance. I've found it helpful to focus on two or three people in the audience who seem to be involved. Looking out into a large room of faces as they look at you expectantly can feel very overwhelming, but when you think of it as speaking to a few individuals, it becomes less stressful.

4) Practice, practice, practice. Know your subject and become very familiar with your presentation. Read it out loud until it flows easily. Practice it in front of family members or friends. The more you know your material, the more confident you will feel.  

5)  Get a good nights sleep. Eat a healthy breakfast that morning even if you aren't hungry. Protein is best because carbs will give you a good burst of energy but then wear off quickly and you want to feel alert, not drained for your presentation.

Finally, to be quite honest and personal, there is one more thing I've found that helps boost my courage.

6) Look outside of yourself and your abilities for confidence. It took me fifty years and a very kind friend to help me realize that I can't base my worth on how I look, how I talk, or how well I do something. My self-worth cannot be determined by the opinion of others or the value that someone else places on me. My worth is found in God who created me to be unique and in who I am in Christ.

   I hope that these tips might be helpful for you. I'll let you know how they work for me!  :)  Two weeks until I take the stage for Listen To Your Mother!


Friday, April 1, 2016


It's that time of year again.. Spring has arrived and along with it, the national holiday for misbehaving. We have a lot of fun with it in our house, and I'll miss my boys this year. Jesse has his own apartment now and John is away at college so I won't feel the need to be looking over my shoulder, but I can't help thinking of some of our past April Fools Days and chuckling to myself.

For instance, two years ago I ran across a website dedicated to practical jokes and clicked it,  eagerly looking for the perfect prank to play on my sons.  Why, you might ask, would a loving mother want to do such a thing? 

1)      To pay them back for the MANY times I’ve been soaked by the spray nozzle at our kitchen sink because of a rubber band wrapped around the handle.

2)      Because they loved to sneak up behind me on a daily basis and shout or whisper some seemingly innocent phrase that made me jump, scream, and sometimes throw things in the air.
(Not to mention the times they waited just outside the bathroom door or hid in the dark laundry room to scare me when I came in from the garage).

3) Because they turn into comediennes each time I attempt to take a picture of OR with them.
See photo below.

4)    Finally, because they found it hysterical to place a life size cardboard cut-out of a storm trooper all around our house- particularly right behind doors, in order to startle me senseless.
It worked.
So did finding it behind the shower curtain, in the laundry room, and the many other unexpected places it appeared.

 Unfortunately, I have to admit, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. I've always enjoyed a good practical joke so I was thrilled to find the website with so many great ideas. Some I'd seen putting plastic wrap underneath the seat of the toilet, but really, who wants to clean up that mess?  A little baby powder in the blow-dryer? Funny, but another potential mess and who knew if they'd even use it that day? 
  When I saw that someone had suggested scraping off some of the icing in the center of Oreo cookies and replacing it with toothpaste, I knew I’d found the one.  

We even had some already in the pantry! It went off without a hitch and I got to enjoy the astonished look on their faces when they tasted the cookies I lovingly offered them after school. 

Yep, love is the glue that binds a family together… even the sadistic kind of love that fills our home with laughter - particularly on April Fool’s Day.  I've always heard that laughter is the best medicine and if it's true, then I'll take a double dose because I wouldn't trade these memories for anything.

  The page I used has expired, but if you’re looking for a good prank or practical joke to play yourself, here are a couple of links to get you started. 

You can find many more with just a quick google search, but hurry, time's almost up! :)

Monday, March 14, 2016


Giving Mother's a Microphone! 

LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER features live readings by local writers on the beauty, the beast, and the barely-rested of motherhood, in staged community shows celebrating Mother's Day. All shows are recorded and shared on the LTYMShow Youtube channel boasting a catalog of nearly 1500 diverse sories of motherhood (daugher/son/father/grandparent,etc). 
Born of the creative work of mothers who publish on-line, each production is directed, produced, and performed by local communities, for local communities. - from

I am excited to share that I have been selected to be in the St Louis production of Listen To Your Mother! I submitted a story last year but did not make it, so I thought I'd give it another shot this year with a story of what it means to be "A Real Mom". I was thrilled (and surprised!) when I received an email inviting me to share my story on stage this year on Mother's Day Weekend. A family illness prevented me from attending the show last year, but I did go over to Youtube and watched many of the speakers from numerous cities. Their stories were sweet, funny, heart-breaking, and inspiring.... each special in it's own way. If you've never seen them, click on the link above. I know you'll find something that will remind you of your own mother or yourself and will tug at your heart strings. I can't wait to hear the stories this year and though I'm super nervous, I'm looking forward to working with the others and sharing my own personal story. 

I've heard that tickets go fast, so I will post the info on here as soon as it's available. If you're looking for something fun to do this Mother's Day weekend, why not come out Saturday, May 7th and share the day with us? 

Here's a picture of me with my own mom and sister... striking a silly pose after Christmas Dinner.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Empty Nest, Full Life

   This past year has flown by and I can't believe that it's been so long since I've posted anything. Between keeping up with my baby sign language/sensory classes, caring for my elderly parents, and muddling through empty nest syndrome, I've had my hands full. My mind (and body) have been going in so many directions, I've found little time to sit down and write. Now however, I've got my business off to a good start, my parents are a little more stable, and I've figured out that life is actually not so bad once the kids move out. :)  So, along with a few painting classes here and there, I've decided to make writing a part of my day again. 

   Today I thought I'd share this image that made me chuckle.  

I don't have a cat and I haven't gone quite this but here's a recent pic of my dog, Buddy who is on the recliner with me and just happens to be sporting a new red scarf. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In the Presence of My Enemies


Not too many years ago, I remember following a story in the news about several people, including a missionary couple in the Philippines that had been abducted and held hostage by the Islamic terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf. They were forced to march through jungles for over a year, sometimes without eating for days, in order to evade the Philippine army as the terrorists tried to extort their release for ransom. Throughout the ordeal, Martin and Gracia Burnham, relied upon their faith, even praying for their captors. I always found their story compelling and inspiring and was excited to find that she was the guest speaker at church this last Sunday. After hearing her story and considering the ordeal that she went through (including the death of her husband during her rescue), I am amazed at the peace God can bring and the way that He can turn even the worst circumstances into something good. If you have not read her book, In The Presence of My Enemies, I would highly recommend this story of courage and faith.