Monthly Archives: November 2016

Nursery Duty: Grandma’s Fix

nursery-569199_640My husband and I enjoy volunteering in our church nursery.

I did not feel so positive when I endured 24/7 baby duty because of Steve’s busy medical practice. Our mean babies eventually morphed into nice human beings, but began their lives eager to destroy mine. The little insomniacs suffered from 13 kinds of colic.

People who told me to “enjoy these years — they pass so quickly” were removed from my Christmas card list.

Church nursery duty became a purgatory where diaper duty multiplied a dozen times over.

My ex-Christmas-card correspondents, however, proved correct.  My nestlings flew away to give birth to mean babies of their own. At least, so say their parents.

I, however, have grown in wisdom, now recognizing perfection. I just don’t get to hold it enough.

toddler-boy-1397818_640So I get a “grandma fix” in the church nursery. There, Steve and I are surrounded with bright eyes, dimpled elbows, and plump baby toes like rows of June peas.

“Waaaaaaaah!” Several small charges do not feel so positive.

Steve and I introduce them to the sacred ritual of fellowship (translation: “eating”). Cheerios aren’t nearly as yummy as the official adult version of fellowship (doughnuts), but sufficient to dry tears. One upset toddler speaks a language I studied long ago, but don’t remember. Eventually Steve solves the mystery: we served her Cheerios in a paper cup; other nursery workers had placed them on a paper towel. When he brings her one, a brilliant smile rewards him.

A family doctor for decades, Steve is good with babies. At 6’3”, he appears a bearded giant, so he sits on the floor to play trucks or tea party. One tiny girl plops onto his lap. She recognizes a grandpa when she sees one.

His eyes light up, and he’s in love. I don’t mind, though she is young and beautiful.

We hug, kiss and play. We read, rock, referee … and rescue. Why do engineers spend thousands of hours designing machines of perpetual motion when a church nursery outshines them all? Darling munchkins crawl, whirl, fight, giggle, pile, knock down, throw, grab and climb.

A mother appears, and one cutie erupts with joy, setting off a stampede. Fortunately, more parents soon show up. A large, unclaimed toddler saves his worst for last: a diaper that could empty the church. My nursery-warrior husband braves disaster and presents him clean and sweet-smelling to his folks.

Suddenly, the nursery is still. Our wild, wonderful little friends have gone home to long afternoon naps.

But none as long as ours.

baby-hand1856370_640Have you ever served in a nursery? What was your most memorable baby moment?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Coloring on the Tablecloth?

thanksgivingtablecloth    thanksgivingtableclothiiO my God, if I’d drawn on a Thanksgiving tablecloth as a kid—“No pumpkin pie for you!” But this tablecloth invited rowdy games of tic-tac-toe and connect-the-dots, and kids, young and old, colored it with gusto. OMG, thanks for that wild, wonderful three-day feast! And for the put-my-feet-up quiet now.

 

Weird Things for Which I’m Thankful

Welcome to my annual appreciation-of-the-odd list.

Wait. Isn’t gratitude against the law during an election year?

Too bad.

Before I dine, I’ll lose the whine and savor what’s extra-fine. Join me, if you’re so inclined.

  • First, I’m thankful the election is over. Enough said.
  • pressurepeachI’m thankful for my Pressure Peach, a squishy, foam rubber peach with a perfect blush. My sister, a weird, wonderful pastor who lives near Atlanta, hoped its therapy would keep me out of jail. Whenever I feel like punting my computer (or a few people I know), squeezing my Pressure Peach restores sanity and makes everything go just … peachy.
  • I thank God for blue jeans that “go” with 1970s T-shirts, button-downs and blazers, sequins or satins. Accessorized with jungle flip-flops or jeweled high heels, jeans go everywhere with everybody. Stains customize their charm. Rips qualify them for designer status. Baggy, saggy or raggy, fitted or faded, yanked from dryer (or laundry hamper in an emergency), jeans are this girl’s best friend.
  • I thank God pens, pencils and paper are still legal. I appreciate computers, especially since my handwriting rivals my two-year-old grandson’s. But my fingers still itch when I spy a freshly sharpened pencil, smell a new notebook, or watch ink flow like dark cream across fresh, untouched paper.
  • I’m thankful gas prices dropped. Sigh. Now they’ll rise a dollar a gallon because I said it. Or because it’s Wednesday. Or because Obama ate anchovy pizza. Still, I’m thankful.
  • I appreciate street lights. They remind me of Thanksgiving cooks — unnoticed until they take time off.
  • I’m thankful for my naked coffee table. No one-of-a-kind knickknacks mar its surface — precious evidence of sticky little grandkid fingers.
  • clocksteveI’m thankful for my mantel clock, all crystal and gold balls that dance in an infinite circle. It keeps lousy time, despite fresh batteries. But my husband gave it to me one Christmas with a note that said his love for me was timeless. So I don’t mind being late to appointments.
  • I’m grateful God didn’t outsource tree creation to me. I would have gotten the fall colors all wrong. I would have used Super-Glue to bind trunk, limbs and twigs in awkward lumps and would have forgotten roots. Winter breezes would have sent trees rolling like giant tumbleweeds, resulting in interesting insurance claims. God, however, engineers elaborate systems to anchor and nurture trees. With an artist’s eye, He arranges bare, elegant, black branches like lines of poetry.
  • I’m doubly thankful God also welcomes the challenge of caring for me and other higher(?) species. Especially during this election year.

What weird things make your odd-Thanksgiving list?

 

 

 

 

Airport Insecurities

airport-1515448_640-2The more Homeland Security tries to protect me at airports, the less secure I feel.

I appreciate their efforts. But my mother taught me to hang undies on clotheslines behind shirts, not display them to an airport’s entire population.

Some passengers appear comfortable with security procedures. A toddler accompanying Daddy at check-in attempted a striptease.

A young man in a nearby security line entertained a similar viewpoint. Clad only in overalls, he suddenly slid out of them. Grinning as passengers and officials gawked, he ambled through X-ray, wearing skinny shorts he’d concealed underneath.

As if that little surprise weren’t enough, the Weird Wand Committee greeted me for the umpteenth time this year.

Airports never have put me at ease. The hallways always resemble a buffalo stampede. Paying more than air fare for coffee and a muffin made me see red long before Red Level threats ever existed.

peanut-butter-cups-1021876_640However, I can’t escape the worst threat to my security: me. At a newsstand, I heard REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups, like sirens, calling my name. Hypnotized, I answered — then put the candy down, determined not to blow my diet. I bought a newspaper and exited, playing human bumper cars on my way toward Security.

As I searched in my purse for ID and boarding pass, I discovered a REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup!

My evil stomach had bypassed my brain and shoplifted candy.

No alarms sang, rang or buzzed, no lights flashed when I walked out. No steel doors blocked store exits, no iron cages dropped from the ceiling. No soldiers poked bazookas in my back. Where was the FBI? the CIA? Interpol? What kind of security system allows a dangerously unbalanced chocolate/peanut butter klepto to run loose in our nation’s airports?

The peanut butter cup emitted seductive fragrances, and I nearly gave in. But I forced myself back to the store, where I set up surveillance. While the clerk scanned merchandise like a robot, I slithered in and hid behind half-price pink polka-dotted luggage, sneaking candy from my purse. Studying the National Enquirer’s front page (did you know Elvis is one of Donald Trump’s children?), I sneaked the REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup back among its own wicked kind. Then I headed for Security before my degenerate stomach could grab a dozen more.

They haven’t learned how to x-ray consciences yet, have they?

Okay, ’fess up: what’s your least favorite airport story?

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Pre-flight Meditations

airport-1543010_640O my God, riding a bicycle to the airport would have been faster than driving the interstates. Security officers searched me and my luggage again. And after tossing trash from my greasy airport breakfast, I realized I’d also tossed my boarding pass. … OMG, maybe You didn’t mean for us to fly?

Whoa, I’ll Be on Facebook Live?

coffeeii-1432034_640Hi, and how are you this evening? Liz Eckardt, the heroine in my books, Secrets of the Amish Diary and Murder Simply Played, and I are having a steaming cup of coffee and warm muffin together. Actually, we’re splitting one pumpkin cream cheese muffin because Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Though I’m probably eating more than she is. …

Liz and I just wanted to let you know I’ll be going live on Facebook next Wednesday, November 16 at 12:30 EDT to tell you a little about the 24-book Amish Inn series. All you have to do is go to Annie’s (my publisher’s) Facebook page and “like” it. Then you can ask any questions you might have about the books, such as:

  • How did Liz, a Boston lawyer, end up solving mysteries in Amish country in Indiana?
  • Why do the covers of Secrets of the Amish Diary and Murder Simply Played include a bulldog? Is he Liz’s, and does he help her solve crimes?

Let’s get our favorite mugs of something hot and yummy, kick back, and share fun moments on Wednesday as you get acquainted with Liz, her Amish cousin Miriam, Beans the bulldog, and other friends living in Indiana’s Amish country!SecretsAmishDiary0001murdersimplyplayedcover-2

The Gazillionth Dentist Visit

I tried to think of a fun, catchy title, but inspiration escaped me.

The way it escapes cows when confronted with electric prods.

I know. Not a fair comparison. Dentists and hygienists do not get their jollies by inflicting pain. A few Captain Hooks should be banished to Never-Never-Appointment Land. But the vast majority of dental professionals care about their patients.

That said, I would rather endure a tech’s-off-her-game mammogram than a full series of dental X-rays. I would rather do water aerobics in a November mudhole than suffer a root canal.

My extremely sensitive teeth dislike heat, cold, food and drink. They despise sour, sweet, spicy and yummy sustenance, preferring room-temperature oatmeal. They freak when dental personnel spray air on them, using blowers with direct pipelines to Alaska or Antarctica.

“Choose which you’d like,” the smiling hygienist says.

Instead, why don’t I leave for Alaska or Antarctica?

Choice is the operating word, here. Do I want cherry-, bubblegum-, cinnamon-, or boring old mint-flavored grit slathered on my teeth?

dentist_tools-1514685_640Sorry, Mr. or Ms. Dentist. No matter how much I appreciate your pure motives, nice personalities, and excellent expertise, I want outta here. My mouth is stuffed with cotton, metal, and wiggling hands. Lightning bolts of pain shoot through my gums with every poke, probe and grind.

Other sensitive-tooth sufferers urge me to request “the gas.” One boasts, “My dentist knocks me out to floss my teeth. I don’t feel a thing.”

Cursed with teeth like mine, my college-age daughter opted for “laughing gas.” After her oral surgery, I told her that while filling her prescription, I had slid into another van on icy roads. She haw-hawed as if on Comedy Central. She had so much fun that with my next procedure, I asked my dentist for the same stuff.

With one whiff, my dental chair took off at warp speed, zooming through far-off solar systems.

Did I grin while hanging from an intergalactic dental chair over a black hole teeming with crocodile-like aliens with very healthy teeth?

No.

After that experience, I voted for full consciousness and major frowns.

Though I imagine, the staff might enjoy an occasional, for-real smile.

I will attempt one at my next appointment. Because of my dentists’ efforts, I have defied predictions I would lose my teeth by age 40.

Despite previous snarkiness, I am grateful. I would not have their jobs for any amount of money. Especially when someone like me shows up with a mouthful of mutant teeth.

Maybe they feel like boarding a plane for Antarctica, too?

 

Have you made a gazillion visits to your dentist? Or are you a lucky once-a-year type?

 

 

 

 

Unwelcome Visitor

Something brushed across my arm in the night.

Not my husband’s touch. After decades of marriage, my epidermis recognizes his epidermis, even when I sleep.

spider-1016713_640So I came to my usual semiconscious conclusion: giant hairy spiders had invaded our bed.

Please understand that as a five-year-old missionary kid, I once discovered a tarantula had invited himself to share my covers.

Now, decades later, I slowly wiggled my toes.

Nothing ate them. Whew!

I listened for unauthorized breathing. When our children were little, that sound on the wrong side of the bed indicated our son once again had escaped his crib.

Eventually I realized our son was pursuing a doctorate in Washington, D.C. Probably a safe bet that he wasn’t my brush with the unknown.

A burglar? But our stairs emitted loud cr-r-reaks. I had heard only a quiet swoo-oosh.

Now completely awake, I convinced myself I had dreamed it all.

Until … the next morning, when my no-nonsense husband said he had a similar dream.

That night, I crept up the stairs to our bedroom. A black, shapeless something hung from the fire alarm. I admit to letting refrigerator contents age into anti-matter, but had it been that long since we checked those batteries? Had they disintegrated to black goo?

The “goo” actually resembled a small, folded umbrella … until it shuddered.

bat-868410_640“A bat!” I screamed. “Kill it!”

Men do not understand why women who weep during puppy food commercials expect their husbands to take a flame thrower to all unwelcome home invaders, including burglars, germs and bats.

Finally, Steve persuaded me we could capture it. Armed with a laundry basket, a sheet and a fly swatter, we approached the bat, apparently a sound sleeper. I held the basket over the fire alarm as Steve tried to pry him loose. If Mr. Bat wasn’t a vampire, he certainly impersonated one well, with fierce, beady eyes and snarling white teeth.

My kindhearted husband finally detached him and slapped the sheet over the laundry basket. We carried him, hissing and flapping, outside and released him. Mr. Bat zoomed off into the blackness like a dark angel.

While I admit to a few bats in the belfry, I never expected to find one in our bedroom. If it happens again, we now have a plan.

laundry-basket-59654_640But if I hear unauthorized breathing?

I don’t think a laundry basket will work.

Have you ever shared your space with a bat? Or another unwelcome critter?