Flashback Friday: Poetry

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

In honor of National Poetry Month, the prompt for today is:

What poems do you remember from your childhood? Did you have to memorize many poems for school when you were growing up? Did you learn any just for fun? Do you remember which ones they were–and can you still recite them? Did you have a poetry book that you liked to read? Do you enjoy poetry today? Do you prefer rhyming poetry or free verse? Whimsical poetry or epic poems that tell a story? Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Have you ever written any poems?

I must have been exposed to nursery rhymes early on, but my first conscience memory of poetry is from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson in first grade. Loved that book! My next memory concerning poetry involved making a poetry book a few years later. We were supposed to look up various poems, copy down our favorites, and illustrate them. I wish I still had that book! The only lines I remember from it are from one poem which said, “But I think mice/Are rather nice.” I do not think so now!!

I know I probably read more poetry in English classes through the years, but my next memory is of angst-filled poetry I both read and wrote as a teenager. I’ve written only a few in recent years, two silly and one serious: Ode to Hay Fever, Ode to a Summer Cold, and A Mother’s Nightly Ritual.

I do enjoy poetry today. Good poetry, anyway. When carefully chosen words really encapsulate a particular thought or feeling or truth in poetry, it just really hits home like nothing else.

In general I like rhyming poetry better than free verse — there is just something about the rhythm and disciple of rhyme that is beautiful. Free verse looks like it would be easier, but just stringing words down a page does not constitute a free verse poem, so in a way I think it might be harder to create something truly poetic as a free verse. But it can be done.

I like the idea of epic poems that tell an over-arching story — The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, etc. — but I think today’s readers would find it hard to sustain the thread of the story through that many verses. I enjoy “light verse” like Richard Armour‘s as well as devotional poetry like Amy Carmichael‘s.

I don’t know if I have a favorite poet, but the closest would probably be Robert Frost. Though his poems are mostly pretty short, he packs a lot of meaning in a few words that are accessible to most people today.

Some of my favorite poems of all time are:

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
To A Waterfowl by William Cullen Bryant
To a Mouse by Robert Burns
To a Louse by Robert Burns
A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns
The Cotter’s Saturday Night by Robert Burns
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
Annabelle Lee by Edgar Allen Poe
To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet.
September by John Updike
Am I a Stone and Not a Sheep? by Christina Rosetti
The Blue Bowl by Blanche Bane Kuder
The Blue Robe by Wendell Berry
October’s Party by George Cooper
I Am Not Skilled to Understand by Dorothy Greenwell

Do you have a favorite poem?

Flashback Friday: Car accidents and tickets

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

The prompt for today is:

Thinking primarily of your growing-up years and your early years of driving, have you ever been in an auto accident? Were you a passenger or the driver? Were you injured? How badly was the car damaged? Whose fault was it? What was the attitude of your parents toward “fender benders” and tickets? Were minor dings and scrapes a big deal? Have you ever received a traffic ticket? If more than one, ‘fess up: how many? Any warnings? Has a family member or close friend been seriously injured or killed in an accident? Have you ever witnessed a bad accident and stopped to render aid or give a statement? What role, if any, did seat belts and car seats have in your early years?

Thankfully there were no car accidents that I remember from childhood. The closest we came was when my brother fell out of the back seat of the car while my mom was making a turn. I can’t remember if most cars didn’t have seat belts then or if we just had an old one without them. Thankfully he was fine — we were going slowly and he didn’t get caught under the car — but we were pretty shaken after that. When I had my own children I remember chafing a bit at all the regulations involved with car seats and such, but I did appreciate the fact that they had to be and could be strapped in. I was the oldest of six kids, the youngest born when I was 17, and there was always a toddler standing just to the right of the driver in the front seat. The potential for disaster makes me cringe to even think about now. Even though my own kids were always in car seats when they were little, it is still instinctive for me even now to fling my right arm out when I stop suddenly.

The very first time I drove as a teen, I backed over the mailbox. 😳 My dad had pulled the car out to wash it and decided to give me an impromptu driving lesson by asking me to pull it back into the driveway. He got in with me and gave me some preliminary instruction. I began to back up, and suddenly he yelled, “Hit the brake! Hit the brake!” I said, “Where’s the brake?!” 🙄 My dad had a pretty quick temper and I was waiting for it, but thankfully this time he laughed. I think he realized he should have given me a little bit more instructional. Or taken me out driving where there were no obstacles.

There were no other problems with my driving until my senior year of college. It was a Sunday night and Jim had let me borrow his car to take a group of girls to church. On the way home, a white car swerved into my lane and hit me and swerved back into his own, never stopping. Thankfully the Lord put it in my head to press neither the break or the gas — I just drifted over to the shoulder. None of us was hurt, but I was pretty shaken. A staff couple from college was right behind us and saw it happen, and it was a huge blessing to have them with us to handle everything with the police and then to take us back to the dorms. Jim was in a different car with a group of guys, and they usually went back to school another way but decided for some reason to come the way we had. They saw an accident had occurred — and then Jim was shocked to see his car had been hit. They stopped and he was able to handle getting the paperwork for the policeman. I didn’t get a ticket since it was a hit-and-run. The car was totaled, so he had to scramble to get another one. But he said at least we got the whole, “Honey, I dented the car” thing out of the way before we married.

In my only other accident, I wasn’t even in the car…..we had borrowed some chairs from a friend when we had some folks over, and I was returning them to her. I had parked the car in her driveway near her door to get the chairs out, and when I came back to the driveway to pull the car around to the back and park it….the car wasn’t there. She lived on a busy street, so I must have wondered at first if the car was stolen — I can’t remember now. The driveway had a pretty steep slope, and the car was at the bottom of the slope crashed into a tree. I don’t know if I left it in drive instead of park, which was likely (I don’t remember looking to see — I think I just jumped in and moved it) or if someone did something with it. I had to call Jim, and thankfully he took it very patiently. I can’t remember for sure what shape the car ended up in — I don’t think it was totaled. I do remember we had our insurance take care of payng someone to come and attend to our friend’s tree. Though she protested it wasn’t necessary, we wanted to make sure there was no long term damage — we didn’t want it to die and fall on her house or have her have to have it taken out.

The only ticket I’ve ever received in my 36 years of driving was a few years ago. One of the roads beside our subdivision connected two more major roads. The speed limit on it was 35, but it easily could have been 10 more as it was a straight, wide road with few houses on it. There was a fire station down the road where a little police car sometimes parked, and one day as I passed the station and stopped in the turn lane at the red light, I saw flashing blue lights behind me. “Oh no,” I thought, “I need to figure out how to get out of his way.” It didn’t register that he was after me. When the light changed all I knew to do was go ahead and turn and then pull over to let him pass, but he pulled over behind me. Still not getting it, I thought, “Well, okay then, he’s stopping here so I guess I’ll go on.” I started to pull away, and then he flashed on his siren. Then I realized — he was stopping me! I was pretty upset but managed to hold it together. I think I was doing around 50 in a 35 mph zone. I don’t remember what the fine was or how many points I got, but he did cut them in half since it was my first. I went home and told my two older sons: one laughed and one put his arm around me and said, “Awww.” My husband asked if I was driving that fast because I was angry; I said no, I just coasting along not thinking. Thankfully, patient man that he is, he again didn’t get angry (at least not visibly…) And the rest of the time we lived there it was instinctive me for to slow down at that section of the road!

So we’ve been pretty fortunate not to have any serious major accidents. My husband has had one accident that I can remember since we were married when a lady backed out in front of him. When he was in college, there were two carloads of college students who rotated driving from Idaho to college in SC and back, about 2,000 miles, to and from school and home a few times a year Christmas and summer breaks. I can’t imagine how nervous that would make me as a mother if it were my child! Once after we were married and living in SC and no longer making those drives, we had just been commenting that out of all those trips there hadn’t been a major accident, when the very next time there was a serious one involving the whole front of the car being torn off. I can’t remember the details and I don’t think anyone was seriously hurt, but it was sobering for all. None of my kids has had an accident except for one time when another teen-ager ran through a stop sign and hit Jason, flipping his car around. Thankfully, again, no one was hurt and there was no major damage. Mittu had an accident before she and Jason were married: they were on the phone (though she wasn’t holding it; it was on speaker-phone) when Jason heard the crash and then the phone went dead. We didn’t hear anything else til the next morning: that was a very long night. At that time he didn’t have her mother’s number or anyone else’s where she was. She had hit her head but I think otherwise was okay from what I remember.

We’ve known various people involved in major accidents. Both the ones that come to mind involve teens. When we lived in GA, friends of friends whom we’d met once or twice had three sons. The two older ones were on some outing and racing home so they wouldn’t be late: they had an old car with no seat belts in it, but they were on order. I don’t remember what caused the accident, but they were both killed. Our mutual friends had our church pray much for them: it was devastating to have 2/3 of their children wiped out in a flash. That has really given me pause when all of my kids have been in a car together. When the older two were commuting 30 miles to college and rushing out the door early in the mornings, I’d often tell them it was better to be late and safe than race to get there and have an accident. The other accident that comes to mind was several years earlier when two young people from church, a brother and sister, were driving in the rain and hydroplaned and had an accident. The brother was killed. We prayed that family through for a long time as well.

There have been so many times God has protected me from my own foolishness. There have been other times when I have passed one way, such as to get the kids from school, and in just a few minutes coming back the same way there has been an accident. So many times I have thanked the Lord for not letting us be in that spot at the wrong time. Sometimes I wonder if we’ll find out when we get to heaven just how much He did protect us from that we never knew about.

Flashback Friday: Valentine’s Day

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

The prompt for today is:

What was Valentine’s Day like when you were growing up? Did you have parties at school? Did you make or buy the valentines for your classmates? Was it a trend to attach candy to each valentine? Did your family acknowledge the day in any particular way? What about as you got older, in your teens? Was the day eagerly anticipated or dreaded? Did your school sell/allow carnations or other items? Do any Valentine’s Days from the past in particular stand out in your memory? What about now – is it a special time or just another day on the calendar? And of course, the all-important question: candy conversation hearts – yes or no?!

I love Valentine’s Day.

All that I remember about family Valentine’s celebrations from childhood is that my dad would buy those heart-shaped boxes of candy, and big one for my mom and smaller ones for us kids. Though I am not a big fan of the variety-box chocolates these days, I look on those a little nostalgically when I start to see them in stores each year. I don’t remember that we exchanged cards as a family or had special dinners.

I loved Valentine’s Day at school. We always decorated little boxes or bags to hold the Valentine’s we received. I searched for just the right Valentines and then carefully chose each one for each classmate…especially the boys. It seems like we could bring them in at any point during the week, because I can remember the eagerness of checking our boxes all through the week. We had a little party during the afternoon of Valentine’s Day and opened all our treasures…trying to guess if there was special meaning in the ones from the boys.

I don’t remember if it was a requirement every year, but I do remember one year our fourth grade teacher saying that if we were going to participate, we had to give a Valentine to every member of the class so no one would feel left out. One boy argued with her that that wasn’t…fair or genuine or something. That boy happened to be George K., whom I had a grand crush on…along with almost every other girl in class. And I was profoundly disappointed that I did not receive a Valentine from him — until he came up behind me and whispered something in my ear during the party. The only problem was I couldn’t understand what he said before he moved away. I fantasized that it was something along the lines of how I was more special in his eyes than the other girls, so he wanted to tell me how he felt rather than send me a paltry paper Valentine. But what he probably said was, “Will you stop staring at me, you freak?”

Can you tell I was a little too boy-crazy in my youth?

Ahem. 😳

I don’t remember there being any kind of acknowledgment of Valentine’s Day in high school. In college, one year the campus snack shop offered a special steak dinner for two during Valentine’s in a specially decorated side room, and the campus newspaper published some of the faculty members’ love stories — always enjoyed that.

With my own children, a lot of Valentines came with candy, though I don’t think we ever sent any like that. It was always a challenge to find Valentines that boys wanted to send, especially in the upper elementary years, but I can remember finding some for Jesse one year with a vehicle theme and another year with an Army and camouflage theme, so that was fun. With my older boys’ I seem to remember their Valentine’s receptacles just being a decorated paper bag at the request of teachers, but with my youngest at a different school, they had classroom contests for their Valentine’s boxes. I always liked trying to come up with something a little different, and there was a children’s magazine in stores that had great ideas (I don’t remember the name, but it was connected with Boy and Girl Scouts. My kids weren’t Scouts, and that was the only time of year I ever even noticed the magazine.) One year we did a space ship, another year a crocodile — I’d love to show pictures, but those are in boxes of photos taken after the last ones I put in albums and before digital cameras and I don’t want to search for them right now. 🙂 I think he did win the contest with the crocodile.

When they were in high school, the seniors would sell various things on Valentine’s Day to help make money for their senior trip, from “singing Valentine’s” one year to decorated balloons or cookies or some other treat.

It wasn’t until my oldest was in college that I heard the acronym S.A.D. in connection with the day — Single Awareness Day. :-/

As a family, we usually have a special dinner that night finished with some heart-shaped cupcakes. Sometimes it has been a specially Valentine-themed dinner, like this Crescent Heart-Topped Lasagna Casserole. I don’t do tablecloths every day, but Valentine’s is one day I use them.

Valentine casserole

Valentine's dessert

I get cards for the kids and Jim, and he gets a card for me. The kids used to give us cards from the ones they used for school, but they haven’t given cards in recent years, except that Jason and Mittu have since they’ve been dating and then married.

I also like to set out a few little Valentine decorations:

Valentine Boyd's Bear

Valentine Boyd's

Heart wreath

Linda’s post reminded me that one year I made a Valentine Scavenger hunt — I made heart shapes and cut them in half and wrote clues on them — the clue on one led to the other half which led to another clue, etc. I don’t remember what the prize at the end was — Valentine’s candy, I think. The boys asked for that again the next year, but I had a hard enough time coming up with clues the first time. Then another year I made a big poster board Valentine with candy taped on at appropriate places in the message (like, “You make me feel like $100,000 Grand” with the candy bar in place of the words.)

For a couple of years I hosted our ladies’ group’s refreshments in February, one of my favorite times to do it. One year I made these Sweetheart Jamwiches from Southern Living magazine.:

Valentine treats

And Peanut Butter Kiss cookies, only substituting chocolate hearts instead of Hershey’s kisses.

Valentine treats
One year we had a special session on how to love our husbands, but other years it was just a regular meeting with Valentine-themed decorations and food.
As for those candy hearts….I can take them or leave them. I prefer chocolate, but if someone offers me these, I’ll eat a few. This is a really neat card based on them:


A very happy Valentine’s Day to each of you!

Flashback Friday: Commercials and ads

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

The prompt for today is:

What commercials and advertisements–either TV/radio, magazine/newspaper, or even billboards (Burma Shave, anyone?!)–do you associate with growing up? Did you watch TV for the ads or for the programs? Can you still remember any of the songs, words or slogans from those ads? What were your favorites and least favorites? Were your parents influenced by ads when they bought things? Did you try to convince your parents to buy something as the result of a commercial? What is something you bought or did as a result of an advertisement that you later regretted (either as a child or an adult)? Feel free to share words, videos, or pictures of any ads!

Oh my — I did a whole Thursday Thirteen post a few years ago about commercials I remembered from childhood. There were regular characters — the Frito Bandito. Mr. Whipple protecting the Charmin (I always thought it strange that ladies would squeeze TP, especially in a store. But I liked Mr. Whipple better than those silly bears who advertise Charmin today.) Madge and Palmolive liquid. Juan Valdez. And the memorable repetitive slogans: “You’re soaking in it.” “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” “A Little dab’ll do ya.” The jingles: “I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer wiener.” “My bologna has a first name…” “Rice-a-roni, the San Fransisco treat.” “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce…” “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.” “Trust your car to the man who wears the star.”

Two of my favorites:

Loved the drama!

I was a little older when they started playing serial commercials which ran a continuing story through them. I remember the product advertised was coffee, but I don’t remember which one. In the first one, a couple meets when he comes to his neighbor’s apartment to ask to borrow coffee. In another commercial, he comes over but sees a man there instead and leaves soon, but the man is the lady’s brother. I’d love to know of they ever brought that story to a resolution!

I don’t remember my parents ever being influenced by an ad, although I am sure they must’ve been. I know I was probably induced to covet an Easy Bake oven (which I never got!) and various other toys from ads.

I do remember an ad that was probably for aspirin with the serious advice to rest, take plenty of liquids, and take aspiring regular to fight off colds. I took that as near gospel truth for years. And I remember being very discouraged by an ad for Ivory Liquid, I think, which showed two ladies’ hands and asked viewers to guess which was older, proving the 40 year old’s hands looked as young as the 20 year old’s because of Ivory Liquid — discouraged because my hands looked “old” to me even then.

I don’t remember watching TV shows just for the commercials, but I do remember when one of my little sisters would come running when the heard a familiar one and would stay glued to the TV for the duration of it just like a favorite show — and then go running back to play when it was over.

I’m sure I must’ve been disappointed as a result of several commercials, but the only thing I can remember is that food in restaurants often didn’t look as good or taste as great as the commercials depicted.

Nowadays we mute most commercials. I can’t stand that they are noisier than regular programs — and often just noisy in general. But I do like the Geico commercials with both the little gecko and the guy who draws parallels between Geico’s claims and other situations — even though we don’t have insurance with them.

We’ll watch commercials for upcoming programs and films and others occasionally that look interesting. This is one I’ve seen recently around Facebook and a few blogs but not on TV yet. It’s just adorable.

Flashback Friday: Olympic Memories

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

The prompt for today is:

Did you and your family watch the Olympics when you were growing up? Which was your overall favorite – summer or winter? Which individual events were your favorites? Since blogging is international, which country did you cheer for? Have you ever been to an Olympics or known anyone who competed? What are some of the hallmark memories of the Olympics that you remember? Did the Olympics ever inspire you to take a certain sport (or practice more!)? Do you prefer watching them the old way when everything was delayed in the days before 24-hour cable and internet? Do you watch them more or less today than you did when you were growing up? What about the Special Olympics? Have you ever had any involvement with them?

Yes, we did watch them, or at least parts of them. I loved gymnastics, both men’s and women’s, in the summer and all the different kinds of ice skating in the winter, so it’s hard to say which I liked more.

I rooted for the USA, of course, but some times I cheered for personal favorites from other countries as well.

We lived just outside of Atlanta when the summer Olympics were held there in 1996, but we figured the traffic, lines, and throngs of people would be horrendous, so we didn’t go. I do kind of regret that now — it would have been nice to have been a part of a historic moment and to have taken the boys. But some dear friends of ours came up from SC to attend a couple of events (fairly obscure ones, from what I remember, that weren’t sold out and were a little more affordable), and we had a nice time with them. That was the year a bomb went off fairly early in the week, making us even more glad at the time that we hadn’t gone.

No, the Olympics never inspired me to take a sport — I am about as nonathletic as a body can be.

I like being able to watch events in real time. I do watch more now than I did as a child.

I’ve never personally had any involvement in the Special Olympics, but a coach in college was heavily involved and recruited many students to help as well. That was the first I had ever even heard of them.

My earliest Olympic memories are of gymnast Cathy Rigby and later Mary Lou Retton during the summer Olympics and  Scott Hamilton in the winter. I remember watching Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill skate, but I can’t remember if it was during the Olympics. One of my all time favorite events was from 1984 when Torville and Dean ice-danced to Bolero. I thought this was one of the most beautiful, graceful things I had ever seen:

And the Three Musketeers by Phillipe Candeloro in 1998 was such fun, especially the sword fighting at about 3:27 in:

I also remember the year Katarina Witt and Debi Thomas were top contenders in skating, the “battle of the Brians,” Dan Janssen’s sad skate after learning his sister had died, Mark Spitz’s swimming, Greg Louganis bonking his head while diving, Kerri Strug’s beautiful vault while injured, Jackie Joyner Kersee’s track races, the “Miracle on Ice” Hockey Game (I liked it much better when it was just “amateur” athletes), and of course Micheal Phelps’s achievements at the last summer Olympics. So inspiring. I’m not much of a sports fan, but there is just something about the Olympics.


Flashback Friday: Inventions

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

The prompt for today is:

What new inventions or technology came out when you were growing up that you remember being amazed at? Were your parents “early adopters”–did they get the “latest and greatest” pretty quickly or did they stick with the “tried and true”? What are some things that you remember being a big deal when your family got them? (These may be items like stereos or kitchen equipment or bigger things such as carpet.) Were your folks prone to updating their furniture periodically or did they keep their old furniture forever? How was the way they were raised impact the way you were raised? And how did your upbringing influence the way you are today?

I do remember when the first microwaves came out when I was a teen-ager. The family of a friend got one as a gift, and the dad was a little suspicious of them: he said he “could taste the microbes.” It was a while before we got one. At first everyone used them just for heating leftovers, but then people got a little more adventurous with them, and before long microwavable food proliferated in the stores. I remember at first this tannish plastic stuff was touted as microwave safe dishes (I just finally got rid of mine last month after not using it for years), but eventually people learned you could put anything in there except metal and some plastics.

I saw the transition in filming from only a few people having 16mm reel to reel films to many people having clunky video cameras on tripods (every school program or recital looked like a press conference) to almost everyone having a smaller hand-held video recorder to these days most people filming with their camera or cell phone.

I didn’t have central heating or AC or automatic dishwashers growing up (my aunt had central AC and I thought that was the height of luxury). We had fans going constantly in summer time and big clunky gas heaters in each room for heat during winter. It was a tremendous blessing to get an electric typewrite to replace my manual one in college. Diet sodas were limited and tasted awful. McDonald’s was a restaurant before my time but Happy Meals were introduced the year I was married, 1979.

Phones used to be rotary dialed with a twisted cord, and it was great when they invented longer cords so one could move about the house a bit more while talking. Of course, then came cordless phones (it’s funny to see an old TV show and remember how big and clunky they were at first) and eventually cell phones. Car phones originally required installation .

I remember in college having to accumulate punched cards about the size of a business envelope for registration. It was a really big deal that the science lab had a computer students could use. Personal computers were coming out right about the time I graduated from college, and we had an early Vic 20 and Commodore 64. The screens were dark and the letters were green and the only computer game was Pong. It’s amazing how much we played that!

The Hula Hoop was invented the year after I was born. Nondairy creamer was invented when I was 4, audio cassettes when I was 5 (although I remember my dad sending reel-to-reel audio cassettes back and forth to his brother in Viet Nam), permanent press fabric when I was 7, compact disks when I was 8 (though I don’t think they were widely used for years), the first hand-held calculator when I was 10, the ATM and bar-code scanner when I was 12, the VCR when I was 14, post-it notes when I was 17, cell phones and Walkmans when I was 22, the Apple MacIntosh when I was 27, Doppler radar when I was 31, answering machines when I was 34 (all of that info. came from this site.) It’s amazing how much of that we take for granted these days and how fast the technology for some of it advanced.

Whenever I go to a baby shower I am amazed at what has been invented since I had babies. A lot of it is really neat — sippy cups and portable car seats that double as a carrier and those little plastic things that help a baby sit up in a tub. But sometimes I want to reassure new moms that they really don’t need everything that’s out there. But I suppose we don’t really need all of any of the things that we have that are new inventions — yet we quickly learn to depend on them.

In my younger years money was tighter and my dad wasn’t inclined to get the latest “new thing.” When my mom and step-dad married, the money woes eased over time and they were a little quicker to get a new appliance or something but it just depended. I’m not so gadgety when it comes to kitchen and household things, but, again, it just depends on what it is and how expensive it is (it took me years to decide whether I wanted a George Foreman grill or not). All of the males in my family are very much into the latest technology, though, and are very much aware of when something new is coming. They usually don’t buy it right off the bat unless they can find a good deal on it — my husband is great at that. It used to be that any new technology was very expensive at first and then lowered in price over time, but it seems nowadays that doesn’t seem to be the case as much.

Furniture — both the family I came from and I tend to keep it until it’s pretty worn out before changing. I’m not one to rearrange furniture or decorations very much (it takes me too long to decide where to put things in the first place) though I am drawn to decorative things for the home and have to guard against accumulating too much.

This look back has been fun but makes me feel very old! Mostly I do enjoy the inventions that have proliferated over my lifetime.

Flashback Friday: School Discipline

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

The prompt for today is:

How strict were teachers when you were in school? What were common methods of discipline? No recess? Writing sentences? Being sent to the principal’s office? Were “pops” or “swats” allowed? Did you ever get in “big” trouble at school? If so, what was it for and what happened to you? Were you ever suspended from school? If you got in trouble at school, what happened at home? Was school lunch a pretty relaxed environment or was discipline maintained in the cafeteria as well? If you are a teacher, what have you vowed never to do as a result of your experiences growing up?

My parents told us horror stories of their being swatted on the hand with a ruler or pulled by the ear to the front of the class, but when I was in elementary school, the primary method of discipline was writing an excess of sentences. I think “swats” were allowed at nearly every school I attended, and we had great legends about the paddles used. etc., but I don’t think I ever knew anyone who actually received any. It was very much a method of “last resort.” I don’t remember missing recess being used except once or twice when someone had to work on those sentences, though it was when my kids were in elementary school, and I felt that actually could make things worse for the child who needed to let out pent-up energy. Getting called to the principle’s office was a Really Big Deal. My father always said if we got a spanking at school we would get another one at home. Thankfully I never had to see if he meant it.

The only major trouble I got in was in first or second grade. Some of us were throwing rocks at each other — I don’t remember what we were playing, but it was in fun, not maliciousness. I got hit in the head by a rock and started bleeding profusely. The school had to call my mom and I had to go to the doctor. When I got back to school, all of us involved in the rock-throwing had to stay inside and write “I will not throw rocks” something like 50 or 100 times. At the time I thought that was grossly unfair of the teacher to include me in the punishment since I had been injured. I also remember getting in trouble for saying “doggone it.” If the teacher only knew what kinds of other things I heard at home, she would’ve thought that was pretty tame. 🙂 But I am glad I did learn the importance of watching my language.

I don’t remember what punishments were enforced in junior high and high school except that the Christian high school I went to for two years used demerits. I may have gotten a demerit or two for minor things, but overall I wanted to obey the rules. I would get upset if I thought that a teacher was not happy with me or thought I wasn’t doing my best, so I pretty much stayed out of trouble. There were some teachers who were very hard to please, but overall I didn’t do anything deliberately to cross them.

Flashback Friday: Discipline

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

The prompt for today is:

Were your parents strict, permissive, or somewhere in-between when you were growing up? Did you tend to be compliant or rebellious? What did you tend to get in trouble for doing? How did your parents discipline/punish you – spankings (and what did they use when spanking), revoking privileges, grounding, time-outs or some other manner? Did both parents handle punishment or did one tend to do it more than the other? (And which one was it?) Is there anything that you have admitted doing since you’ve been an adult that you got away with as a child? Or is there anything you were punished for that you have since learned your parents had to try hard not to laugh while they were meting out your discipline? If you are a parent, what is something you have done or not done (or vowed you would never do) as a result of your growing-up experiences with discipline?

My father could be overly strict and quite harsh, and my mom was a little more permissive when she could be without going against his wishes. Maybe she was trying to make up for him, but I think she was just more that way in personalty anyway. I think that, rather than suffering from mixed signals, her softness kept me from a terribly negative response to my father, and his strictness kept me from giving way to my natural inclinations. I tended to be pretty compliant, both because I was afraid of punishment, but also because I loved my parents and wanted to please them. I tend to be a rule-keeper by nature, though of course I was willful and disobedient sometimes. My only really rebellious phase was around the time just before and after my parents’ divorce — I did some pretty stupid things then and I am so glad the Lord protected me from serious consequences and from continuing down that road.

I don’t recall that they ever used time-outs. I think they did revoke privileges or ground my siblings — or maybe that was after my mother and step-father got together. I don’t recall ever having privileges revoked or being grounded myself. The primary method of disciple was spanking, although yelling and ridicule were natural reactions of my father’s. His discipline was inconsistent and sprang up suddenly like a summer thunderstorm. Both parents believed that any cuddling or hugging after spanking took away the effect of it. My dad primarily did the disciplining with his belt. I don’t remember ever being spanked by my mom though she must have when I was little. My mom and I could talk about the whys of an issue.

You might be surprised that my husband and I spanked our kids as well, but we handled it differently. We believed spanking was Scriptural (still do) but needed to be handled carefully. We saved it for deliberate, willful disobedience and not childish forgetfulness or accidents. We tried never to spank in anger — thus the “Go sit on the bed and think about what you’ve done until I come up” was as much for our benefit as for theirs. We always sat down and talked very calmly with them first, both so that we understood what had happened — sometimes as a parent you can walk in on a situation and think something has happened that hasn’t — and also so that they understood why they were being punished. We brought up any Scriptural principles involved in what they had done. We spanked only on their bottoms, using a hand or wooden spoon, until we sensed a difference in attitude. Then we hugged, told them how much we loved them, and put the matter behind us. We always tried to leave the encounter on good terms with each other.

I didn’t believe the phrase, “This hurts me more than it does you” until I became a parent. But I’ve seen the fruit of lives that have almost no self-restraint, and I wanted them to learn right from wrong and obedience. I’m sure there were times I let things go that should have received punishment, but overall I felt it would be harmful to let them get by with deliberate disobedience and defiance. One thing I liked about spankings was that it dealt with the issue and then got it over with. Being sent to one’s room is not much of a punishment for kids these days, with all they have to entertain themselves there, and groundings, to me, just dragged it all out that much longer and caused more resentment. My kids always resented a simple swat — sometimes I did that when I felt the issue didn’t warrant a full-fledged spanking, but that usually made them angry or hurt their feelings when an actual spanking didn’t.

An older father with a whole brood of very sweet grown kids and grandkids once told me that if you discipline your kids as you should when they’re young, you don’t have to very much as they get older, and I have found that to be true. When obedience and respect is the tone of the home, that spills over into situations outside the home and the pre-teen and teen years. I don’t think we spanked our oldest and youngest past the age of 4-6 or so; the middle one a few years more. Spankings did not occur all that often. Mostly we talked (they may have said lectured 🙂 ) about what was wrong and why and what they needed to do about it. I don’t recall ever using a time-out or grounding. I don’t think we ever even revoked privileges: I threatened to when we had one computer and they all needed to take turns with it. Actually I think I threatened to make a schedule for computer use if they couldn’t find a peaceful way to handle it. And I think a few times if they were fighting over something, I put it away for a while. We did incorporate dealing with natural consequences — if they broke or spilled something, they weren’t punished but they had to help clean it up or fix it, because that’s just life: even if you don’t mean to cause a problem of some kind, if you do, then you need to be willing to correct it. I don’t think we ever used chores as punishment, either — chores were just a natural part of life.

I don’t recall hearing about about my parents laughing over any disciplinary incidents later, but I do remember one time when my family was all together my sisters sharing hilarious stories of things that happened that my mom and step-father never knew about (they were there and laughed, too.)

With my own kids, once my husband was spanking my middle son with a wooden spoon when it broke right in the middle of things. They both started laughing and the spanking was over. Another time we were in the grocery store when my middle son was a pre-schooler, and we saw a package of wooden spoons. He pointed to them and said, “Look, Mommy, spanking spoons!” They must not have traumatized him too much!

Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” I see so many parent-child relationships which are not restful at all, with a constant struggle between parent and child. I know some personalities are harder to discipline: I recommend James Dobson’s Strong-Willed Child.

I mentioned before believing that spanking was Scriptural and I wanted to expand on that a bit. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” It takes effort and carefulness and thoughtfulness to discipline in a right way, but it’s not love to let a child get away with everything, or to make excuses for him, or to constantly nag him. The NIV version of Proverbs 23:13-14 say, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death..” The KJV uses the word “beat,” but it doesn’t mean it like we think of that word today: it’s not advocating abuse or the parent being out of control. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”

Many passages compare God’s chastening of His children with a father’s loving discipline of his son. Here’s one from Hebrews 12:

5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

I wanted to emphasize that last verse: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” That’s the goal.

Flashback Friday: New Year’s

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

How did your family celebrate New Year’s when you were growing up? Was staying up on New Year’s Eve a big deal? Was it a date night for your parents or was it a family occasion? Did your family have any particular traditions for New Year’s? Were resolutions emphasized? Did you do fireworks? Watch parades or bowl games? Were there church activities you attended? Did Christmas activities extend into the new year? Was the Epiphany a focus?

We never had a set tradition or routine for New Year’s Eve. Sometimes my parents went out, I think sometimes we got together with other people, most times we stayed home. We did get to stay up late, and I think we watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV. We did fireworks sometimes.

My dad probably watched football on most New Year’s Days, and I think maybe the kids watched parts of the parades in the morning. We did have black-eyes peas for dinner, supposedly for luck, though I don’t know what they were supposed to have to do with luck. 🙂 Resolutions were not a big deal, though I tried to make some for several years — it was more just a day to relax before school and work started back up.

When I started going to church as a teen-ager, my church often showed a film on New Year’s Eve and I think had some kind of refreshments afterward. I liked that then, but when another church did that when I was older, a middle-aged mom, I dozed through most of the film and was very cranky afterward. 😳 In subsequent years they played group games, and that made it much easier to stay awake and alert.

The church we attended for the last twelve years had a New Year’s Eve service, but not all the way until midnight: our pastor wanted us to be able to be home before the roads got unsafe with drink-impaired drivers. We usually lived in an area that did not allow fireworks, but last year Jason and Mittu lived outside the city limits, so we took a bunch of fireworks out there and made munchies and had a nice time. We haven’t talked about any plans this year yet. If we’re home we do usually watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV — there is just something about that moment that’s really neat. I remember the year of Y2K as they showed New Year’s celebrations in different countries, being relieved that so far none of the other countries had any problems as the clock turned to 12:00 a.m. and hoped that bode well for us, too.

We do usually take down the Christmas decorations around that time. Sometimes we shop. We don’t watch football and we don’t have black-eyed peas (I like them but my family doesn’t). 🙂 We have never attended a church that celebrated Epiphany, though some pastors mentioned it and they did note that the wise men came some time after Jesus was born (maybe as much as two years) and not while they family was still in the stable in Bethlehem.

So, though New Year’s Eve and Day are probably some of our most nontraditional holidays, I enjoy them as a last bit of vacation before the routine starts back up again.

Flashback Friday: Christmas presents

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

I think I am going to answer today’s prompt in list form again.

When did you open Christmas presents when you were growing up? Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

We were allowed to open one present of our choosing Christmas Eve, and the rest Christmas Day.

If you traveled, did your parents take the gifts, or did you open them early or late?

I honestly don’t remember. I’m guessing we probably opened them before or after and maybe took just a few with us, but I am not sure.

Did your parents have Santa leave presents? Were they wrapped or unwrapped?

Yes: they were assembled and unwrapped under the tree Christmas morning, so they were the first things we saw.

Did you have stockings? What was generally in those?

Yes. I remember there was always an orange in the toe of the stocking and I remember more fruit and nuts in stockings as well. There must’ve been little toys or candy as well, but I can’t remember for sure.

Were gifts simple and practical or more extravagant?

Gifts were fairly simple when I was young and got more extravagant as the kids grew and started leaving home and the money situation loosened up a bit.

Did you give presents to your parents and siblings? Were they homemade or purchased? If purchased, did you pay with your own money or did your parents pay?

I don’t remember giving gifts to parents much unless we made some in school or Sunday School. I don’t think I started giving gifts on my own until I was a teen-ager. There was a mix of hand-made or purchased. I used my own money.

What are memories of special gifts you received?

I should remember…but the only specific gifts I can remember getting were Barbies and paint-by-number sets, which was fine because I liked both  then.

Oh — and one year when fishnet stockings were “in,” the package I chose to open Christmas Eve was some of those stockings from an aunt and uncle who had daughters my age. My dad didn’t like them and was upset, kind of putting a damper on the evening. Now as an adult I can see why — those things look like…the kind of attire I don’t want to be seen in!

Did you ever peek and find out what your gifts were ahead of time?

Once while my brother and I were playing near the tree I noticed I could sort of see through the light-colored wrapping paper, so later when no one was around I looked a little more closely and made out what my presents were. I was delighted — until Christmas morning when most of the surprise was gone. I learned my lesson!

Did presents gradually appear under the tree in the days leading up to Christmas and were you allowed to touch/shake them?

Yes, they did appear gradually. I think we were allowed to pick them up and even shake them as long as we didn’t get too wild about it.

Since I’ve been married, we haven’t continued the opening of one present on Christmas Eve — I am not sure why. We started visiting my family in TX or my husband’s in ID the first few Christmases, but the weather was always unpredictable, particularly going to ID, and eventually we wanted to “do Christmas” our own way, including and emphasizing the Nativity story, which neither of our families did. So we started staying home at Christmas and doing our traveling over summers most of the time. We chose not to incorporate Santa into our children’s Christmas — I just felt like it was dishonest, for one thing, and why give him credit for gifts that I wanted my children to know came from us because we loved them? But we did watch Rudolph on TV and referred to Santa as any other imaginary storybook character. Typically we do not go anywhere on Christmas Day — maybe partly because we haven’t lived near family for most of our married lives, but also because we felt it wasn’t quite fair to the kids to get all sorts of new stuff and then make them leave it behind while we visited elsewhere. Plus, it’s usually so hectic in the weeks leading to Christmas, between mailing cards and shopping and going to programs and recitals and all, that it was nice just to close the doors and relax and make it a family day. We do have stockings and fill them with candy and little things (easier to do when they were younger!) We’ve encouraged our kids to give as well, supplementing their allowances (kind of like a Christmas bonus 🙂 ) and taking them shopping for other members of the family until they got old enough to handle it on their own. Something we’ve done some years is to choose some special ministry or some special need someone we knew had and give to that at Christmas time.

One special and extravagant gift my kids received was during the time they were very much into “Little People” — the old fashioned small ones. I had suggested to my mom that perhaps one of the “sets” — there was a “main street,” a farm, a garage, and I can’t remember what all else — might make a good group gift for them. Instead she sent them one set each, and bought a bunch of extra Little People which my sister wrapped individually! My husband said we almost needed an extra room just for the Little People. But they played with those quite a lot, and they’re in a box in the attic now, toys that I could not bring myself to get rid of.

Thanks for spurring the trip down Christmas memory lane, Linda!