Friday, December 26, 2014


I love puns and food so any of these might suit me!


As a mother I learned that our kids go through phases. Our baby girl was on an overdose of John Candy in her adolescent years.  Katy could quote and act the entire script of Uncle Buck. 

I can even identify with him in this scene, saying the exact thing you try desperately to avoid saying.

Katy gave equal memorization time to Chris Farley's motivational speech. How I wished she'd had the same propensity toward her homework.


I'll not say it had no merit.  Katy did finish college after all and did not end up living in a van down by the river.  I'd prefer to think Doug and I had more influence in her wise choices, but who actually knows.

Memory and merit aside, I do remember one very definite influence this 30 second scene from Uncle Buck had on our daughter.  Meet the toothpick guy.


It was Katy's birthday party, a sleepover, with girls giggling all night.  As I served them breakfast she decided to try the toothpick trick and show off a bit.  Something went wrong, terribly wrong. It broke and part of it went down her throat.  It got stuck there.  

"Doug!  Better come to the kitchen!  Katy has a toothpick stuck in her throat."

We wondered would it be better to go up or down.  We fed her some bread, forcing it down. I'd heard that worked with fish bones.  Only after it went down, we wondered if a piece of wood could pierce her stomach or intestines. Don't all parents wonder such things?  We called Poison Control.  They'd never had a call quite like this one! Finding no answers in their book of remedies, they suggested we take her to the Emergency Room.  

"Girls!  You all need to call your parents to come pick you up.  Now!"

"Awwww, Mrs. Henderson, can't we go to the ER with Katy?"

"Umm, no."

"Man! This was the coolest birthday party.  We'll never forget it!"

Neither will we.

Needless to say, it did no harm and the trouble soon passed.

Katy matured beautifully, leaving her comedians behind.  But I do remember when they both died, she grieved a little, asking, "Where are all my fat friends going?"  

Wrong.  They went very wrong.

Glad you went right, baby girl!

Friday, December 19, 2014


The title of this post might lead you to believe it's about dogs.  However, if you asked one of our piano students, they'll gladly explain both acronyms.

Every year we have a Christmas party at the house and our students play Christmas songs. It's our Finger Food Festival.  We had it on Monday and I heard from a few former students on Facebook, as they reminisced.

Before performances we talk about mistakes. "Never stop playing or draw attention to your error.  There are NO perfect musicians!"

"Even you, Mrs. Henderson?"

"Especially me!  Just FIDO. . .Forget It and Drive On.  When you do, you show PUP. . .Poise Under Pressure."

I teach many but I also learn from them. One former student, Amanda Coker, who is now married and in med school, wrote back saying she didn't get to play as often as she'd like to these days but added, "I still live by FIDO though."  She knew I'd understand.

Amanda years ago as a student is on the back row, last on the left.

I thought about that advice beyond music.  Amanda is right.  That's a pretty good life policy too.  So many folks get hung up on the past, a hurt, a failure, a loss.  They become stuck in grief, frustration or anger. Learning to let it go, forgive, drive on, frees us from our pain, mistakes or failures.  That's redemption and is why Christ came!  When we learn in life how to FIDO, we certainly show poise under pressure that only grace reveals.

Thank you, Amanda, for taking my little lesson and giving it back to me in a larger form.
More recently, Dr. Coker (also a pianist) and his daughter, Amanda. . .soon to be a doctor herself!

Thursday, December 11, 2014


We get manuals and more instruction with our microwave than with our kids when they're born. About the time we figure some of it out (mostly by our mistakes) they graduate and leave home. I guess we at least keep psychiatrists and family counselors employed, untangling our messes. Maybe we should have included this shirt in their graduation gift bag.

This blog is not about rearing children.  There are plenty of books on that, which can equally lead you astray. 

My thoughts here are far more trivial. From our empty nest I have a pretty good view of both our failures and our good choices.  

Mothers are supposed to be self sacrificing.  I'm not sure I wear that label very well.  But I did do a few things purely for the kids. Here's my short list.

* Dusty -- He was our dog.  He came as a puppy, hidden in a box in a car trunk. We had other dogs but this one was special. I'm not a dog lover, but I love my kids.  And they dearly loved Dusty.  Mother love.

* Putting Dusty to sleep -- When he was hit by a car and lost a leg, the kindest thing we could do was put him to sleep.  It was the kids' hardest day, saying goodbye as we took him to the vet.  It was one of my hardest too.  I love my kids.  When they hurt, I hurt. We all cry. Mother love.

* Driving a wood paneled station wagon -- If we ever were cool parents, it ended with this vehicle.  Later parents felt the shift from cool to parent vehicles in their vans!  But the kids had more room and loved to sit in the back seat and watch where we'd been.  I loved my kids. . .especially in the way back seat.  Mother love.

* Tent camping -- We made great family memories around a campfire.  And I did love the S'mores.  We now do them in our fire pit when the grands come home.  But the sleeping bags, bugs, and musty tent-smells were never my thing.  Now days my idea of camping would only go as far and black and white TV and for that, last just one day! But our kids loved it and I love our kids.  Mother love exists in a tent.

* Hamsters, gerbils, cats and a rabbit--pets I never really wanted.  Funerals I never really wanted.  Pets killing pets. Mother gerbils eating their newborns! Dusty destroyed the rabbit one dark night. We thought they'd bonded but apparently it was a fake, only-by-daylight friendship on Dusty's part. But it taught the kids about care giving and grief. And I loved the kids. 

But they're grown and gone now.  It's my turn! Know one of my favorite things about the empty nest?  It's empty! No dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, tent camping or station wagons.  

Kids, enjoy your pets, camping and dorky vehicles!  The best is yet to come!

Friday, December 5, 2014


Does all this technology today make us socially connected or socially isolated?   Attention spans grow smaller while friend lists grow longer.  Are we deluded, accepting a cheap, easy counterfeit for the real thing? This video raises some excellent thoughts on the subject.

My generation is now the largest users of Facebook.  A precious lady at church, in her 80's, came to me recently and proudly asked, "Can you believe it?  I'm on Facebook now and love it." She was a great grandmother, proud to be current, trendy. I was proud of her too for learning and growing.

Some say it's mere self absorption, a shallow way to affirm yourself and activities. I've heard others say one finds self worth in the tally of others' responses and that it replaces actual friendships.   These are blanket statements and, while might be accurate in extreme cases, I'm not so sure it's warranted.

Like most tools, the Internet can be used for both good and evil.  When the Guggenheim press was invented, naysayers predicted much the same and offered similar warnings. God's Word is preserved forever, whether in hand-written scripts, printed press or Internet.

My take on social media is somewhere between evil, addictive self-absorption and a tool no one should ever be without.  Just like food. If one is obese, food addiction may be at play.  If friends tell you to, "Put down your phone and talk to me!", you may be addicted to electronics. Addictive behavior in other areas may be an indicator here too.  

Moderation is the key.  If I neglect my face-to-face conversations or find myself unable to enjoy a meal without my iPhone or iPad, constantly checking, responding to every beep like Pavlov's dog, I may need the warnings that I've gone too far. 

I've been with friends and felt that. It's quite insulting. When I mentioned it to a friend recently, her response was, "We all have our addictions!" She went right on texting!

On the other hand, when our family has needed prayer or encouragement, it's been a wonderful way to reach out.  Likewise I can encourage my real friends.  It's a good way to "see" family living far away too! But I can do this even going online once a day or less.

I admire some who recognize that they may have become extreme and dependent so they sign off, unplug and say so long for awhile.  Parents who limit their children's screen time also get my applause. Temperance and self-control can triumph over self-obsession!

So it might be wise to avoid labels and broad statements that make generalizations about others.  Might be wiser to check up on myself and monitor my own usage.

  • Do I have boundaries?  Are there ever times I choose NOT to be connected?
  • Do I master my technology or does it master me?
  • Does it serve me or am I enslaved to it?
  • Do I own my phone or does it own me?
  • Do I answer or check every time it calls?

True, we're all out of balance in some areas but that should not excuse us from finding balance, kicking addictions! Fine line between use and abuse.  That's my two cents' worth for free!