Reflections

Reflections: My Childhood Family Room

From time to time, I’ll be recording thoughts and events from my childhood. These memories are prompted from the Reflections from a Mother’s Heart – Your Life Story in Your Own Words. I plan on filling this book out one of these days to pass onto my children. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds the lives of our parents fascinating. It’s weird to think of my parents as children and it’s really fun to hear stories about their past, how they met, etc. If my children read about my past, perhaps they will understand me just a little better.

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Describe what the family room looked like when you were a child

I wish I could remember what our furniture looked like. I know we had a couch in our family room because I remember lying back on it and staring at our ceiling wanting to die. I was deathly sick, but I can’t recall if it was the flu or something else. All I remember was that I was flat on my back and moaning for what seemed like hours. I remember this particular moment in my life because I remember thinking if I live through this, I’ll never use God’s name in vain again. (Alas, I didn’t keep that promise, but I tried!) It’s a moment etched in my mind forever. Chances are I ate too much sugar. I had a bad habit of eating too much junk food whenever I could get at it.

We didn’t have much money growing up so anytime mom made cookies (which seemed like all the time, mom cooked a lot), I would inevitably eat more than my fair share. Since we couldn’t afford to make large batches, mom divided the cookies evenly between the five of us. It infuriated her how I always ate more than was allotted me. She told me later that often times, it would be her share that she would give up so my dad, sister, and brother could have their share. Yes, I admit it, I was rather selfish back then.

Dad reminded me the other day how he had to put an actual padlock on our “sweet dish.” Our sweet dish was a container that mom put all of our cookies and other sweets into so I wouldn’t get into them and eat all of them. I don’t remember the padlock but I do remember sneaking into the cabinets and stealing blocks of cooking chocolate from the package mom always had handy. It was expensive and mom would get so mad at me when she found out. Sometimes, I had such a bad craving for sweets that I would nibble on an edge of one of the chocolate blocks and turn it so mom wouldn’t see it right away. She wouldn’t know I had been in the chocolate until she needed it for one of her recipes. Poop hit the fan then.

When mom started putting the chocolate blocks in the sweet dish, I remember finding her chocolate diet aids. They were actually called “Ayds” because they were supposed to “aid” you in your diet. They were delicious and I remember eating almost a whole boxful of them. Now my mom is not stupid and she kept her diet aids in a drawer in her dresser. I knew this because I snooped, that’s something else I did on a regular basis, snoop. When mom found out I had eaten nearly all of her diet aids, she was furious and at her wits end. Luckily, by that time, I was old enough to get a job, make money and buy my own sweets.

Speaking of snooping, one year, I think I was in middle school, 7th or 8th grade maybe? (it might have been earlier than that) I was determined to find my Christmas presents. I looked everywhere – under beds, down in the basement in mom’s sewing room, dad’s workshop, the TV room, in closets until I finally found them. They were hidden above my brother’s closet. There were storage units above his closet behind sliding doors and that’s where I found them. I remember finding my basketball (I knew it was mine because I had “hinted” like crazy that year) and I think some clothes, but I’m not sure about that. All I remember was the basketball. That Christmas was the most disappointing to me. It was hard to act surprised when I knew everything I was getting. Mom knew something was up and she told me years later that she cried because I had spoiled her Christmas (that was the best part of Christmas for mom, watching us kids open presents. In fact, since we didn’t have a lot of money growing up, mom bought Christmas presents for all three of us all year long keeping an eye out for sales and using coupons, etc.). When she told me that, I felt like a heel. I was such a creep growing up.

But back to our living room. The front door opened into our living room. It wasn’t a big room, but comfortable for all five of us. There was a couch, a rocking chair and I think a LazyBoy type chair, but I’m not sure. Mom had her stereo and record player in there (she loved listening to country music while she cooked and cleaned) and a “stove” though it was really a fireplace. We burned wood in it once in a while, but it seemed like the smoke would leak back into the room and we didn’t use it very often. The stove sat on a raised brick floor with faux bricks lining the back wall to keep it from getting too hot. Mom told me the other day that when she put that faux brick up and sealed it with mortar, my sister had snuck in and poked her finger into the wet cement leaving indentations. It dried that way and mom said she was furious with her. But she kept it that way in order to remind my sister of what she had done.

I loved that record player. I wasn’t interested in country music back then AT ALL (it’s not too bad nowadays as long as it’s not the twangy kind of music), but rather, I loved listening to Harry Belafonte (I know, go figure!) and Elvis. Mom had a lot of Elvis and I put on the LP records and lay on the couch just daydreaming about meeting someone like Elvis one day. I did that a lot around Christmas time – I loved his “Blue Christmas” album. In fact, every time I hear an Elvis Christmas song I always think of lounging on the couch, one leg dangling off the edge, my hands laced behind my head and staring at the ceiling. I silently lip-synced because I was afraid my sister or brother would hear me and tease me mercilessly.

We had a big grandfather clock that ticked loudly and it was comforting to hear the steady tick-tock as I rocked back and forth in the rocking chair.

The living room was adjacent to the dining room. We had a long oval table in the middle and against the left wall was the door leading to my parent’s bedroom. Next to the door, was our black piano. I never learned to play but my sister and brother practiced regularly. I think there was a china cabinet against the far wall, though I’m not sure about that.

I remember piecing my North American map together on that table. I also remember having Thanksgiving dinner at that table and I felt awkward because there wasn’t enough room and we all had to squeeze around each other to get to our seats.

I smile when I think of the living room. It was a room that gave me great comfort – I felt safe and loved in that room.

Reflections

Reflections: Parent Traits

I love these question-type books because so often we’re so focused on the future that we place the past on a shelf to gather dust and/or be forgotten. I think it’s important to document our lives, not only the special times, but all times because life is too important, and too short, to forget. Answering questions from the The Book of Myself, are my way of remembering my past and passing those special times on to my sons, husband and you, dear blog reader. Remembering the past helps us understand the people we’ve become.
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One of mom’s traits I admired was …

Her patience. No wait, her kindness. No wait, her positive attitude. There are a lot of traits about my mom that I both admire, and wish I possessed. Though I could say I have a positive attitude (most days), I certainly do not have patience and I’m kind … welll, okay, I’m kind most of the time, too.

I can’t think of a single person who dislikes my mother. She’s one of those people who people gravitate to because she listens and she truly cares about people. She’s always the first to help out when needed and she always manages to find the good in people, even when it’s not readily apparent. She bakes and makes things for her co-workers and really does go above and beyond the call of duty.

If I had trouble with mom growing up, it was in in this area:

She was wishy-washy and a bit of a push over. Go on, ask her. She’ll agree with me. As mentioned, my mother has a kind heart, so it was really hard for her to say no to me, my sister or brother sometimes. I’m embarrassed to say this, but I often took advantage of this “weakness” and manipulated her on more than one occasion.

One my dad’s traits I admired was …

His determination. His intelligence. His steadfastness. His ability to dissect situations and choose the most logical path.

I really credit the fact that I have common sense to my dad. I’m grateful that I have the ability to look at a situation from all angles, am able to see the big picture, and plan accordingly. Sadly, a lot of people do not seem to possess any, if very little, common sense. And, in my opinion, that’s one of the most important ingredients to a successful life.

If I had trouble with dad growing up, it was in in this area:

Probably his aloofness. We were a traditional family in that my dad went to work everyday and mom stayed home. So, I didn’t really see my dad a lot growing up. And on the weekends, he holed up in his shop in the basement, either catching up work (he was a TV repairman), or experimenting with electronics (which would explain his current position – he writes, and teaches, electronics for an online school).

My dad was an authority figure growing up. He was the one who put his foot down when we started to get out of control. Mom would want to give in, dad would not allow her to give in. He was pretty firm with us, but for me (and I can’t speak for my siblings), it was the best thing. I was rather a wild child in high school and had to learn some pretty hard lessons when it came to living by my parents’ rules. Dad is the one who made sure the rules remained rules; mom wanted to bend them.

For example: Curfew. When I was a senior in high school, I thought I was too old for a curfew. So, I simply did what I wanted to and shrugged off the curfew rule. My parents, being thoroughly sick of my arrogant attitude, took my house keys away from me. So, if I didn’t make it home by curfew, I had to find someplace else to sleep.

Being the stubborn person that I am, I of course tested them on this. And sure enough, the first time I didn’t make it home in time, I was locked out of the house. I tried to rent a hotel room, but for some reason (I’m thinking it was because I wasn’t 18 yet), I wasn’t able to. So, I ended up sleeping in my car. This happened a few times. But the last time this happened was when it was frigid outside and I didn’t have any sort of blanket or heavy coat or anything. I slept in my car and very nearly froze to death.

I went up to the door of my house and first demanded to be let in. As the night wore on, I then pleaded to be let in. My mom was crying and wanted to let me in, my dad refused to give in. So, I spent the night in my car, shivering and hoping my blood wouldn’t turn to ice before morning.

Though this sounds cruel, it was necessary. I needed to learn a lesson and trust me folks, I learned it. I was never late getting home after that. And I firmly believe that experience taught me to be more responsible and respectful today.

Could I do that with my own kids? Yes, I think I could. If I thought the experience would teach them a valuable life lesson, then yes, I would most likely do the same thing with my kids. When you’re a parent, you have to know when to draw that line, and then you have to stick to your side of the line. Think of the negative connotations if you don’t.

I can only pray I don’t have to teach my kids a hard lesson like that. I can only pray that my sons are not as hard headed as I was.

Reflections

Reflections: Early Religion

This was originally published on my self-hosted blog, May 18, 2006.

From time to time, I’ll be recording thoughts and events from my childhood. These memories are prompted from the Reflections from a Mother’s Heart – Your Life Story in Your Own Words. I plan on filling this book out one of these days to pass onto my children. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds the lives of our parents fascinating. It’s weird to think of my parents as children and it’s really fun to hear stories about their past, how they met, etc. If my children read about my past, perhaps they will understand me just a little better.

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Were you baptized or dedicated as an infant?

No. I felt guilty for not being baptized for years. I thought that even though I was saved, I would somehow not get into heaven because I hadn’t been baptized.

(Of course now, I realize that with the birth of Christ, it’s no longer necessary to be baptized in water, but rather, we are baptized in Holy Spirit).

When did you first go to church? What are your earliest memories of church?

Oh wow. This one is a doozy. The first memory of church was when mom sent me and my sister to Sunday school on a bus. I absolutely hated it. I. hated. every. single. minute. Then it seems mom and dad (did dad go? Hmm..I can’t remember) would meet us for “big” church. You know, when the adults all gathered in the auditorium and had to sit still for a few hours. It was torture on a kid. I remember drawing, doodling and maybe even writing though I’m unsure if I was really into that back then.

I don’t remember a lot about Sunday school, in fact, I don’t remember anything about Sunday school so it must not have left very much of an impression on me. I do remember riding that bus though and resenting my parents for making us go because I hated having to get up that early, putting on uncomfortable clothes and then riding on a bumpy, smelly bus to church. (I was a HUGE night owl back then and getting up before noon on non-school days was unheard of).

I can’t remember exactly how old I was when we started to church but it was probably somewhere in the eight or nine stage. My sister is three years younger than me so I must have been at an age that mom felt I could take care of her.

I will NEVER forget the times I would sit in the big church and listen to the preacher drone on and on about how we were all sinners and there was no way we were going to get into heaven if we didn’t repent our sins, and often. Not only that, but every time we did or said something ungodly, that would mean we were no longer “good Christians” and would never see those pearly gates. I was following along in the bible, reading the passages he was quoting when he stopped reading and began to elaborate on what we just read. I listened with half an ear as I continued to read the verses in the bible. Something just clicked and I sat bolt upright.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself. What he’s saying and what it says in the bible are two different things. I started to listen more closely from that point on and time and time again, the preacher was incorrect in his interpretation. At least, from what I gathered from the context of the bible. I wanted to say something to my mom, but judging by the blank stares on everyone’s faces I didn’t think what I had to say would be heard anyway, let alone believed.

I remember feeling great disgust. How could these adults, who were supposed to know better, NOT put two and two together! How could they so blindly turn an eye and accept a false definition of what the bible was saying? Now I was only a child and I certainly didn’t understand everything at that time (heck, I still don’t), but I knew enough to know that what the preacher was preaching about and what the bible said were two totally different things. In fact, I couldn’t figure out why the preacher concentrated so much on the hell and damnation part of the bible when a lot of the passages he quoted were in fact, uplifting and hopeful. (Assuming of course anyone chose to read the entire context of the verse and not pick and choose at random and assign a totally irrelevant meaning).

I think I lost some respect for adults from that point on. If our PREACHER was wrong, could this mean that my parents were wrong about some things? Children tend to look up to adults about a number of things and it’s a sobering revelation when it’s figured out that adults are human and make mistakes. It’s as if the whole world perspective shifts in some way and suddenly, the blinders have been taken off and we can see things for what they really are. We no longer rely on someone telling us the sky is blue, we want to make sure that’s true before accepting it. At least, that’s how I felt. I realize a lot of people never get to that point and are perfectly willing to go through life believing people and what they tell them.

Not me. I’m a leader, not a follower and that experience in church taught me a lot. I can honestly say that was a pivotal moment in my life and I matured emotionally from that point on.

Have I been back to church since then? No. I’ve been in church a few times for weddings and funerals, and only a FEW times to actually listen to a preacher preach. But once again, and now more fully aware of what’s going on around me, I was totally skeptical and unwilling to accept a man’s personal interpretation of the bible. I didn’t have the answers, but I sure as heck knew that these men of God didn’t have it right.

I’ve since learned about correctly dividing and intrepreting the word and that everything in the bible is a “hand that fits in a glove.” To truly understand the bible, one must be willing to understand the context and culture in the time period it was written. The old testament is for our learning; everything past Acts 2 applies to us specifically – the Grace Administration. Don’t believe me? Look it up. Need further proof? Visit this site and research it. The bottom line? Think for yourself and don’t blindly take a man’s word over what is written in black and white (and sometimes red *grin*). The bible is a handbook for humans – if you want peace and happiness in your life, follow the rules. It’s that simple.

Reflections

Reflections: My Childhood Bedroom

This was originally published on my self-hosted blog, April 14, 2006.

Describe your childhood bedroom. What was the view from the window?

My sister and I shared an attic bedroom growing up.

The attic stairs were right across the hall from the bathroom and I remember skipping two/three steps down the stairs and barreling into the bathroom on more than one occasion. In fact, there were quite a few times I would scramble down the stairs so fast that I would overshoot the threshold and nearly land headfirst into the tub.

The stairs leading up to our room were steep and I remember my brother crawling up the stairs on his hands and knees to spy on us. Being the only boy in the family, he often felt lonely and would try and force his way into our secluded world.

When you reached the top of the stairs, you immediately stepped into a large room. We called that the “play room” because this is where me and my siblings spent a large portion of our time. All of the board games were stacked on shelves and we had boxes of toys sitting around. I think there was a walk-in closet but I wouldn’t swear to that. At the top of the stairs, to your left, was a huge attic fan embedded into the wall of the house. We didn’t have central air and that often kept the house bearable. It actually worked pretty good. We kept the windows open in the summer and the attic fan would pull air in and keep the house fairly cool. There was one window air conditioner unit in my parents’ room and I remember sneaking into their room to cool off when it got really unbearable in the afternoons.

The attic was big enough to accommodate a full-grown adult and I remember that no one ever had to stoop over when they came up. The previous owners had converted the attic into spare bedrooms so there was plenty of room.

I remember having disco parties in the playroom. We used to have one of those rotating balls that give off different colored lights as it rotates throwing various shadows and colors on the walls. We would play disco music (because that’s what was hot back then) and just act silly. I remember having various friends over and thinking we were really cool dancing our hearts out.

There were two windows at the front of the play room that offered a view of the front of our house. There were two side windows, one in the playroom, one in the bedroom I shared with my sister. I would often sit by those side windows and spy on our neighbors.There were four boys that lived next door and I had a crush on the oldest even though he was younger than me. They would often be outside, acting like, well, boys and I remember thinking some of their games looked rough but fun. (I was sort of a tomboy back in my day).

At the top of the stairs, when you turned right, you would enter our bedroom. It was a really cool room. It had jutting edges and protruding partitions. We had a white vanity dresser with pink piping. I think we got it from my grandmother (dad’s mom). I remember it was old even back then. It might have been an antique but I wouldn’t swear to that. That’s the only piece of furniture I can remember, other than our twin beds. Our beds were nestled in an alcove right underneath the two back windows. These windows were similar to the ones in the playroom and overlooked our backyard. We had three (four?) walnut trees in the backyard and I remember hating those trees because every fall we would have to go out and pick up the walnuts. We always had bagfuls to take to the shelling place where they gave us money for bringing them in. It was smelly and often left our hands stained for weeks. We would put then in paper bags that would wilt and fall apart because of the rotten walnut juice that seeped through.

Our beds were identical with shelves built into the headboard and I often kept books on the shelf. After a while the shelf became a catch all for trash, notes from friends, barretts, pencils and various other knickknacks.

We had a shed in the backyard, too. This is where dad kept his lawnmower and various other outdoor tools. I remember being a little afraid of that shed – it was old and the paint was peeling. It just had a creepy feel to it. It didn’t help that the shed was situated in the very back corner of our lot in the shadows. The times that I peered inside I got a whiff of lawnmower oil and freshly cut grass. Sometimes I would catch a whiff of something rotten, as if a dead animal had crawled under the shed (there was at least half a foot of space under the shed. The structure sat on boards), had gotten trapped and then died.

We had a paved patio with a privacy fence around the patio. Our whole backyard was fenced, but the portion around the patio (which took up about only ¼ of the backyard) was surrounded by a privacy fence. We often had BBQ’s on the patio. There was an old clothes line erected along the left side of the patio and I remember mom hanging sheets up to dry. There were stairs from the backdoor that led down to the patio. There was an elevated chunk of land surrounded by a concrete wall. I think we kept flowers or a garden in that area, but I wouldn’t swear to that.

It seems there was paneling from the bottom of the wall to the halfway mark. After that we had this red poppy looking wallpaper that I think was fuzzy when you touched the flowers. I seem to recall our room being decorated in reds and whites and pinks. It was kind of a funky room, but that’s what made it cool – it was certainly different.

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The next Blogger’s Best Carnival: February 28th.

Reflections

Reflections: The Origin of My Name

This was originally published on my self-hosted blog, March 31, 2006.

From time to time, I’ll be recording thoughts and events from my childhood. These memories are prompted from the Reflections from a Mother’s Heart – Your Life Story in Your Own Words. I plan on filling this book out one of these days to pass onto my children. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds the lives of our parents fascinating. It’s weird to think of my parents as children and it’s really fun to hear stories about their past, how they met, etc. If my children read about my past, perhaps they will understand me just a little better.

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Who gave you your name and why?

I learned, some years back, that mom had wanted to call me Carrie instead of Karen. I never knew why she liked that name but I was profoundly grateful that my parents didn’t stick with that name. Any and every time I hear the name Carrie I immediately think of Stephen King’s Carrie.” Carrie conjured up wicked images of a blood-soaked wannabe debutante who killed people with her supernatural powers.

Then Carrie Fisher played Princess Lea in “Star Wars” and suddenly the name Carrie was cool. Though I’m still glad my parents didn’t stick with Carrie. I think it was dad who talked my mom out of naming me Carrie. They compromised and named me Karen.

Did you have a family nickname?

The only name I can remember being called other than Karen was KK. I’m not sure who or why that got started, but I remember being called that a few times by my mother. I like KK, it has a musical ring to it.

Reflections

Coffee Chat September 08 Prompt – #2

Coffee Chat at writefromkaren.com

Need to know the Coffee Chat guidelines and prompts?

Have you already written your post? Then you can submit the link here.

Here’s my version; maybe this will give you an idea for your own post.

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Long before you met your significant other, what did you picture your future mate would be like?

(This was written to my husband).

Believe it or not, I never pictured my future mate – ever.

I didn’t have fancy daydreams about what my wedding would be like when I was a girl. I loved acting out weddings with my dolls, but I never once gave my own wedding much thought; getting married and living happily ever after was never high on my priority list. I really have no idea why – I suppose I was too busy trying to secure my career aspirations and finding out what I wanted from life to ever really think about a future life partner.

And you know me, I’m a person who has always lived in the future, so you would think picturing, and planning for, my future husband would be something I would think about, at least once in a while.

True, I did think about having a steady boyfriend. I never really had any one boy/man in my life for very long – and that was mostly my fault for as you know, I felt it was necessary to dump the guys first before they had a chance to dump me later to protect my heart from being broken.

You certainly know how long it took you to get close enough for me to let me guard down (and even to this day, I don’t feel like it’s completely down), so you can imagine how cautious I was back then with men.

And though I craved the companionship, I was fine with the thought that it might not happen. I wasn’t one of those females who defined their very existence based on a man’s opinion or approval – I would be me and if someone accepted that, great. If not, then life would go on and I would find a way to be happy, with or without a steady mate.

Then I met you. I was 24 and really just beginning my career at the bank. I was focused, carefree and completely open to new experiences and relationships, if they happened to come my way. I certainly wasn’t going to go out and actively find them myself.

When Lacey introduced us, and I saw your handsome face and charming smile, I began to entertain the thought that perhaps it would be fun to share my life with someone else. And when you spoke to me for the first time and made me laugh, I began to hope that that someone would be you.

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Here are more of the Coffee Chat participants so far …

1. rummuser at Ramana’s Musing: Wisdom by Hindsight

2. Lynn P at Learning By Living

3. Stacy at The Everyday Adventures of a Natural Blonde

Please visit the Coffee Chat participants! There’s no telling what you’ll learn about each other and just think! You could make a new best friend! 🙂

Did you participate? Feel free to copy and paste the code for the below button to your blog!

Coffee Chat at writefromkaren.com

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Hurry! You only have until September 15th to publish your Coffee Chat posts! (Pst., you could win a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate or a $10 Starbucks gift card!!)

Reflections

Coffee Chat September 08 Prompt – #1

Coffee Chat at writefromkaren.com

Need to know the Coffee Chat guidelines and prompts?

Have you already written your post? Then you can submit the link here.

Here’s my version; maybe this will give you an idea for your own post.

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What do you remember most about being a kid?

Going to the county fair and spending HOURS riding rides and looking at the exhibits. Always having something to do in the summer – mom scheduled days we would go swimming, to the movies, do crafts, hanging out with my cousins, going to the zoo. I painted a lot of paint-by-numbers. I read constantly. I loved to read Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. Playing with Barbie dolls. I used to create soap opera worlds with all of my dolls; and this was before I even knew what soap operas were.

I entered a lot of my own crafts into the county fair. I won quite a few ribbons but that wasn’t the reason I participated in the fair. I worked on crafts and entered them into the fair mainly to please my mom. My mother’s main hobby / interest was (is) crafts and participating in crafts and entering the fair was something I had in common with my mom. Though I would be lying if I told you I always enjoyed working on crafts – it wasn’t my main passion – I entered mainly to please my mother.

I rode my bike a lot growing up. I felt so free and in control when I rode. It cleared my head and relaxed me. I remember having a huge crush on a guy that lived up the street from me. I desperately tried getting his attention (even befriending his little sister, who was younger than me and very annoying) and trying to appear sexy as I rode my bike by his house.

I remember living in a mobile home for the first seven years of my life. I even remember the layout of the mobile home and this one particular patchwork rocking chair I used to rock in all the time. I even taught my sister to read in that chair. I remember standing on our sofa in the mobile home and intently studying my mouth in an attempt to teach myself not to lisp. I also remember spending quite a number of hours in front of that same mirror and jiggling teeth loose. I always sort of liked having loose teeth because I liked the way it made my mouth go numb after loosening them.

I remember learning to ride a bike down our street when we lived in the mobile home. I remember my sister and I riding our bikes up and down the street, me shaky and yet confident, my sister still riding with training wheels.

I remember picking up walnuts from our backyard every season. Mom would then drive us out to the walnut husking place and we would get money in exchange for the slimy, wet bags full of walnuts we picked. Though I wasn’t crazy about staining my hands or the smell, I remember feeling very proud of myself whenever I received any money from the task. That was my first taste of earning money and I LIKED it.

I remember going camping in a tent quite a few times and hating it. Mainly because of the bugs and the fact that I had to use the bathroom over a log. I also remember going camping in grandpa and grandma’s trailer, or maybe we hadn’t gone camping in it but we were riding home in it and I had to go to the bathroom so bad I was in pain. I’ve always had this bathroom fetish (fear?) and any time we went anywhere, I refused to use it. I remember these public restrooms, out in the boonies, that were nothing but holes in the ground. They freaked me out as I always envisioned myself falling through the hole and I REFUSED to use them. (In fact, I still have problems using bathrooms whenever we travel. Bet you wanted to know that, eh? lol)

I remember washing the front of our house in the summers. I remember laying / swinging on the porch swing for hours just daydreaming. I remember kissing the cute boy who lived right next door to us one summer. I was a few years older than him and though that bothered me, I felt very feminine and sexy hanging out with him. I remember having the BEST birthday cakes. Mom took cake-decorating classes and always made the neatest cakes for all of us kids growing up. I remember one in particular, a Barbie doll cake. You know the kind – a Barbie doll is inserted into a mound of cake that is later decorated to look like her skirt. I remember having birthday parties at our house and all the family would come over and give me gifts.

I remember our station wagon and the time we were in a wreck. I believe we were hit as we were crossing an intersection.

I remember visiting my dad at the electronics store where he worked and seeing tons of equipment lying about, their guts haphazardly displayed and waiting to be fixed. I remember my mother working as a telephone operator at night to bring in extra money.

I remember visiting HUNDREDS of yard sales and coming home with bargains. I remember wearing a pair of white overalls all the time. Mom had stitched my name on the pocket in some navy blue thread and in some loopy stitch so that it felt fuzzy to the touch. I remember skirts, pants and shirts that mom sewed for me to wear to school. And how embarrassed I was to wear all of that stuff starting about sixth grade.

I remember Mrs. Bacon (Kdg teacher), Mrs. Smith (2nd grade teacher?), Mrs. Hill (4th grade teacher), Mrs. Wilson (5th grade teacher) and Ms. Roberts (sixth grade teacher). I remember starting kindergarten and feeling both scared and excited. I also remember leaving elementary school in sixth grade feeling scared and excited about starting junior high.

I went to Doling Elementary School, Reed Junior High and Hillcrest High School. Doling school has been converted to some building for the school system – it’s no longer a school – Reed Junior High and Hillcrest High are still there. I think our mascot was: Doling Dolphins (which is what our kids elementary school mascot was), Reed Beavers (which I HATED because I thought that sounded sexually suggestive and just plain stupid) and Hillcrest Hornets (which I thought was dorky at first. But then we started winning games and I realized that hornets are actually very mean when provoked and thought it was cool).

But what do I remember the MOST about being a kid? Being happy and well adjusted.

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The Coffee Chat participants so far are …

1. Berry from Berry Berry Quite Contrary

2. Missy from Missy’s Spot.

Please visit the Coffee Chat participants! There’s no telling what you’ll learn about each other and just think! You could make a new best friend! 🙂

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Reflections

Reflections: Favorite Pastime

I really, really need to catch up on some work today, so I thought I would post an old Reflections piece that was originally published on my self-hosted blog February 18, 2006. In addition, this reflection piece is quite similar to what I’m looking for in Coffee Chat participants. Though you can interpret the prompts any way you wish (write an essay, nonfiction or fiction), this might give you an idea of the sort of things I’m hoping to accomplish with the Coffee Chat program. It’s fun, and REWARDING to remember (and confront) parts of our past – and then share them with one another. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

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Questions to help me remember the past –

What was your favorite pastime as a child? Did you prefer doing it alone or with someone else?

I remember being really big into my Barbies. I won’t even tell you what age I stopped playing with them, that would be too embarrassing. Suffice it to say that I was old enough to keep quiet about it. I loved dressing them up. I loved making up scenarios and putting them into all sorts of crazy situations. I even made up entire soap operas with back histories and future episodes, etc. I loved dressing them funky and making my own fashion statements. It wasn’t so much the dolls that I loved it was the whole imaginary world I created. I loved making up stories even then, only I used the Barbies to bring the stories to life.

After I finally accepted the fact that it was weird for a teenager to still be playing with dolls, I discovered books. I’ve always read, but the first time I recall really getting “into” books was with the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series. These books also coincided with the dorky TV show that used to air. Shawn Cassidy was Joe Hardy and I had the BIGGEST crush on him! I couldn’t get enough of those books. They are pretty hokey compared to what’s available in todays books, but I suppose they weren’t any more hokey than the Harry Potter series (though I will admit, I love Harry Potter).

I didn’t really get into romance novels until after I graduated from high school. I do remember staying up all night, quite a few times a week, reading a romance novel. I would start it after work, about dinnertime, and wouldn’t put it down until the wee hours.

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I played with my dolls by myself (my sister sometimes played but I would get frustrated because she wouldn’t abide by my imagination and I would kick her out of the game. How dare she try to use her own imagination! *grin*)

I was rather a loner growing up. I had friends, some even good ones, but it never bothered me to be alone and curl up with a good book. I suppose you could say books were my friends growing up.

Getting back to the romance aspect of the books I read. I’m older and wiser now and accept the fact that the romance theme of these books was rather unrealistic. Men just don’t act that way. Sure, they have the ability to be romantic, but not on the level that these books demanded. I think in a lot of ways, reading romance books growing up skewed my perceptions of relationships in general. It’s no surprise that I didn’t really have any serious relationships until I met my husband and by then I was ready for a serious relationship. The men in my past always failed to live up to the fantasy men in my romance novels. Was that unfair? Certainly, but as I said, my view on romance was skewed for a long time. Even after I got married it affected my expectations and it took me a long time to realize that the problems I imagined in our relationship was because of me and really had nothing to do with my husband. Once I realized this, I was happier, he was happier and we had a better life together.

Reading books is great and should be encouraged, but it’s important to step back and take a dose of reality and realize that life is not something we can make up – it’s real and our happiness depends on the choices we make.

*steps down off her soapbox*

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It’s fun!