Monday, December 22, 2014

Dear Allison...

Dear Allison,

      Today is somewhat of a bittersweet day for me.  It's a day I knew would come, of course.  A day I have been excited about, yet a day I have hoped wouldn't arrive as quickly as it has.  Today, you turn 16.  As I write this, you're standing in line with your Big Daddy at the DMV, getting your license.  I want to go pick you up right now and force you in the car and tell you how driving is overrated and momma will drive you everywhere you need to go for the rest of your life.  But I can't do that.  First of all, it's weird.  Second, I don't want to drive you around everywhere forever.  Third, you're a good driver and I know you're ready for your license.  And fourth, this isn't about a driver's license at all.  Not even close.  I am a big ball of mixed up emotions.  I am happy that we've raised an independent, responsible, smart, kind, Christian young woman.  I'm happy that we can trust you to make good decisions, but I'm realistic that you're still a teenage girl and there needs to be room for mistakes.  I'm happy that you're outgoing and funny and you aren't afraid to try new things.  I'm happy that your life is progressing the way it's supposed to.  So what is wrong with me?  I'm excited, but a little part of me is sad.  Really, really sad.  Every mom can say, "Oh, it seems like just yesterday I was changing their diapers."  There is so much truth in that statement.  It really does seem like yesterday.  Perhaps it seems like yesterday because my life has big one big "baby-fog" over the last 16 years.  All of your "firsts" are so fresh in my mind.  Your first sneeze (December 23, 1998...biggest sneeze I ever heard come out of a baby.  You still sneeze super loud), your first poo-poo-all-the-way-up-your-back diaper (January, scared me to death.  Didn't know babies could do that), your first steps (Thanksgiving Day, looked like a chubby little drunk, stumbling across the living room at Aunt Jessica's house), your first day of Kindergarten (August, loved it, and I was relieved that I was able to save my tears for when I got home), your first day of high school (August, wore parachute pants and tried to convince me they were back in style.  Whatever.  You wouldn't let me walk you into the school building that morning.  I don't know why.  I wouldn't have cried or anything.  Maybe just given you a long, lingering hug.  Just long enough to be uncomfortable for those around us.  Then maybe, just maybe, I would've gently released you into the lion's den that is high school with my favorite motherly advice, "Make good choices today!!"  It would be the most embarrassing moment of your life, ah yes, the moments I live for).  I can still remember the way you smelled as a baby, the way your chubby little legs looked in ruffle-bottom bloomers, the way your eyes would cross when you were taking a bottle.  Sometimes, if I concentrate really hard, I can still feel you lying on my chest, peacefully sleeping...the ONLY way you would sleep for the first several months :)  I miss that.  I miss the way your crazy, curly hair would look when you woke up after a nap, or if it was humid outside, or if a storm was coming.  The bigger your hair was, the closer the rain would be :)  I miss the way you couldn't pronounce the letter "R" until you were six years old.  I miss the little songs and stories you would make up. I miss the way you would smile when I sang Frank Sinatra songs or the "All in the Family" theme song.  I miss all of that.  I have prayed a silly prayer over and over again for time to slow down. But God doesn't answer that prayer the way I want Him to.  Time, if anything, is speeding up and I see what He is doing.  He is leaving time as it is, which "forces" me enjoy the time with my babies all the more.  He is allowing me to see the blessings that each of my daughters are and appreciate the little things, like sneezes and parachute pants.  I don't think He intended for you to stay dependent on me forever.  That's not good for either of us.  I think what He intended to happen is exactly what is happening, you're growing up the way you're supposed to and I just have to accept it.  So I will.  Eventually.  Slowly, but eventually.  Be patient with me.  I've never been on this side of it before, the mom side of it.  It's weird and different and much harder over here.  I just need you to promise me a few things.  Promise me that you will keep making the right decisions, no matter how hard they are.  Promise me that you will choose a college within 30 minutes of home (I'm kidding...sort of).  Promise me that you will always remember that you are loved wholly, unconditionally, and in that crazy ,over protective, I-will-break-the-legs-of-anyone-who-tests-me kind of way and that will never let up.  Finally, promise me that when you are a mother, you'll be better than I have been.  Take what you think I've done well on, and improve upon it.  Discard the things that you don't think I did well on.  Just be better.  Know that when you are going through these same things with your children, I'll be here to cry with you because all the things you will be feeling at that time will still be fresh in my mind.  I'll be able to tell you that everything will be okay, just like my mom is telling me now.  She's right, and I'll be right too. 

I almost forgot...promise me one more thing.  Take every opportunity to embarrass (not humiliate) your kids.  You could, oh I don't know, dress up like Alice Cooper and show up at their school on the last day, or run the coat check room at their Homecoming dance and make weird, semi-threatening comments to all the boys and then let them know whose mother you are, leaving your sanity in question to those around you.  I'm just throwing ideas out there.  Your kids may pretend they don't like it at first, but they'll be funny stories to tell later.  Happy Sweet 16 :)



Monday, January 6, 2014

Lend Me A Hand...

            I have a slight obsession with checking out people’s hands.  There, I said it.  It’s weird and perhaps socially unacceptable, but I can’t help it.  I love to look at hands.  They say so much about someone.  A man’s calloused hands and dirt laced fingernails might suggest that he works hard for his family, putting in long hours at his blue-collar job.  A woman’s perfectly manicured, soft hands may say that she is particular about her appearance and takes good care of herself.  A child’s sticky, Play-Doh scented hands say, “I’m a kid.  I’ve been playing all day and I don’t have a care in the world.”  There are two pairs of hands that I’m very familiar with; hands that I’ve seen work, play, and serve others my entire life.  They are the hands of my sisters.

            My sister, Jessica, is six years older than I.  She was like my second mom when we were growing up.  I always loved her hands.  She has long, piano-player fingers and beautiful fingernails.  Her hands were always so gentle with me, whether she was braiding my hair or hugging me, her hands brought me comfort.  I always wanted my hands to look like hers, smooth and flawless.  Now as an adult, I see past the physical appearance of her hands and I see how she uses them to serve those around her.  Jessica’s hands work tirelessly raising her three children all on her own.  Her hands rise early in the day and don’t rest until late at night.  Her hands take care of other people’s children all day in her career as a teacher.  They are calm and kind hands that don’t become easily irritated but have the patience of Job.  Her hands comfort crying children and are always there for a certain little sister :) They are hands that can cook, clean, and single-handedly run a household.  They are hands that I’m sure feel as if sometimes they are running out of steam, but they are hands that keep going, because they have no choice.  They are hands that I hope and pray a sweet, loving man holds in his someday and thanks the Lord for this precious woman by his side.  Jessica’s hands are hands that deserve a man’s respect and adoration for all they have done and for all they continue to do.  Her hands should be admired for being delicate and graceful, but should be regarded for their strength and resilience that is below the surface. 

            My sister, Meri, is older than me by three years.  Meri’s hands are physically the opposite of Jessica’s. They are small and square, like mine, but her hands are nothing short of beautiful because of what you can’t see. Her hands held mine when we were little girls, playing house or when she was reading to me.  Her hands threw a pretty mean punch when we were in high school…but only when absolutely necessary :)   Meri’s hands wiped the sweat from my forehead and fed me ice chips when I was in labor with my fourth baby.  Her hands wiped the tears away from my face when being in labor with said baby was almost too much pain to bear.  I saw Meri’s hands comfort others when she buried her first husband, when it was our hands that should’ve been comforting her.  Her resolve was so great to attempt to heal from that tragedy, and I watched those small hands pick up the pieces of a broken life and rebuild a new one.  Her hands found love again and are now held tightly by the one who loves and adores her ‘til death do them part.  Meri’s hands serve others in every way they can.  Whether she’s reaching in her purse to give out a piece of gum, baking someone a wedding cake, or bringing a meal to someone in need, Meri’s capable hands are always taking care of those around her. Those hands have seen the depths of heartbreak, yet refused to allow any circumstances to keep her down.  With every valley those hands have fallen in to, they have clawed their way back up to the peak and dared anyone to stand in their way on the journey upwards.

            I love my sisters and the examples they have been to me.  They continuously do for others, no matter how tired they may be.  Their hands live to serve and I can’t help but think their hands are not theirs alone, but the hands of Jesus.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Another Trip Down Memory Lane...

      Some time ago, I wrote a post about my early childhood memories.  I wrote it mainly because I had absolutely nothing else to write about and that dreaded "writer's block" has struck again.  So, I'll submit for your approval and for your reading pleasure, (can you tell I love Rod Serling?) my next installment of, "Someone Else's Memories You Don't Really Care About ".

            As I said in my last "memories" post, I remember lots of stuff; unimportant, weird stuff.  I spent the first seven years of my life on a farm in North Dakota.  It was cold and snowy, but I loved it.  To me, it was a huge wonderland that was perfect for a kid like me who just liked to wander around and think about stuff.  One overcast day, I was on one of my "expeditions" in the little clump of trees surrounding our house when I came upon some delicious looking red berries.  They looked like holly berries in a way.  I was getting pretty hungry during this long journey around the yard, so I picked a handful of the berries and ate them like you eat popcorn at the movies;  popping each one in my mouth one-handedly.  I decided after snack time, it was time to go inside.  When my mother saw my face, covered in red berry juice she yelled, "What is all over your mouth and cheeks?!  What did you eat?!"  In my four year old honesty, I said, "I ate those red berries that are all in the trees."  My mom gasped and said (more like growled), "Oh Lindsey!  Those are poisonous!  Why did you do that?!"  Telling her I was hungry seemed like a stupid answer, even to a four year old, so I just shrugged my shoulders.  She made me sit down and drink some milk and she watched me closely for the next half hour or so.  I couldn't figure out what was so bad about what I'd done.  The berries didn't taste bad, a little bitter, but some sugar would've fixed that.  After realizing I wasn't going to die, she sent me to the bathroom to wash my face and hands.  While I was standing at the sink, I thought I better get rid of the pocketful of berries I had saved for dessert.  I took them out and flushed them down the toilet.  I would never know if they tasted better with sugar.

I could never look at Lady Lovely Locks the same way again.
            Sometime after I ingested poison berries, my two older sisters and my older brother and I were playing "Army" out in the woods around our house.  I was on my sister, Jessica's side and we were quietly and carefully treading through a small clearing in the woods.  Jessica would look over her shoulder every so often and put her finger to her lips to "shush" me.  I took "Army" very seriously.  If Neil and Meri heard us, they'd capture us and then we'd lose the war.  Who wants to lose the war?  Not I.  While my fearless leader was proceeding onward, something caught my eye.  It was this huge mound of dirt, hanging from a tree.  I thought it best to go check it out...I did have my gun after all (Not really, it was a huge stick...I was six.  Give me a break).  When I got closer to it, I thought, "This kinda looks like a piƱata!"  So I hit it...hard...and it crashed to the ground.  But instead of tons of delicious candy bursting forth, a swarm of angry hornets descended upon me.  I started screaming and dancing around like an idiot.  "Be quiet!" Jessica warned and then she realized what was happening.  "RUN!" she screamed.  And run I did, faster than I ever have before.  Hornets were stinging me all over and my running and screaming just seemed to spur them on.  I made it inside the house and my mom came to see what all the commotion was.  "What did you do?!" That seemed to be her response to much of what I was involved in.  Not waiting for my answer, she stripped me down to my "Lady Lovely Locks" panties and proceeded to slap me...well, she was slapping the hornets.  For whatever reason, she made me lie on the kitchen table so she could assess the damage.  While she was pulling out stingers and putting cream on each wound, my dad came home.  "What's going on?" he asked.  "Lindsey knocked down a hornets nest with a stick," my mom replied.  My dad, ever the sympathetic said, "Judas Priest." and walked out. That was his go-to phrase when he couldn't think of anything else to say :)  Later that day, we were visiting my mom's friend and my mom proceeded to pull my pants down, exposing those beautiful "Lady Lovely Locks" panties, and show her friend my stings, right in front of her friend's teenage son.  Fantastic.


My beloved.
 For my sixth birthday, I wanted a Keyper.  It was a rubber and plastic toy that came in the form of a snail, or my favorite...the orange and yellow turtle. They came with a key and you could unlock their shells and hide stuff in there.  I thought of all the little goodies I could hide in that shell. My plastic bracelets, maybe some candy, my sister's Michael Jackson card with the still photo from "Billie Jean" that she got out of a gumball machine.  Oh, the possibilities.  My sixth birthday arrived and low and behold...I GOT A KEYPER!  She was lovely, that orange and yellow turtle, smelling of weird, processed fake orange scent mixed with a little whiff of molded rubber and plastic.  I played with that turtle all day, carefully selecting what to hide in her tiny shell.  After I had proudly crammed everything I could think of in her shell, I locked her with the special key and carried her out to the kitchen where my mom was so I could show off my beauty.  I set her on the table and admired her factory-fresh beauty.  Just then, my little brother Stewart came walking in.  I always knew when he was up to no good, just by the smirk on his cute little chubby face.  His eyes were locked on mine and I knew a showdown of epic proportions was looming.  Somewhere in the distance, I'm pretty sure I heard that music from old Westerns when there's about to be a shoot-out.  Stewart swiped my turtle off the table, held it above his head, and threw it on the linoleum kitchen floor.  It all happened so fast.  Curse my slow reflexes!  My beloved lay on the floor in pieces.   She was finished.  We were finished.  The sad remains of my turtle and her secret contents lay scattered about.  I cried and Stewart giggled and ran out.  I felt like my head was on fire, "Mom!  Look at what Stewart did!"  My mom glanced down and said, "Oh, I'm sorry.  Pick up these pieces now and all that other stuff that spilled out of her shell."  Clearly, I was alone in this tragedy, left to my own devices to cope with this grief.  My day in the sun with my ever-longed for turtle was over.  Forever.  As for Stewart...I got him back years later when I tore all the stuffing out of his prized sock monkey.  Long story as to the circumstances surrounding the monkey's demise, but Lindsey-1, Sock Monkey-0.

           Thank you for joining me on yet another rambling trip down memory lane!  I really hope you'll join me next time :)


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

When I Grow Up...

I don’t know about all of you, but I am constantly waiting to “grow up”.  Sure, I’m married, I have four kids, I have a job, and I do all the other things most “grown-ups” do, whether I want to or not.  But mentally, I still feel like a kid.  I have a few people in my life that I look up to and think, “I hope I am like them when I grow up.”  I’ve known these people for most, if not all, of my life.  They are spiritual giants to me and although you may not recognize their names, the influence they’ve had on me may be an influence that is familiar to you.

          Clyde Jones is one of the kindest, most forgiving, most generous people I have ever met.  I’ve known Clyde since I was seven years old and all these years, he’s remained one of the most influential people in my life.  He taught me the power of forgiveness and how it can change someone’s life.  Clyde has been known to allow people to borrow one of his cars if they needed it.  Back when I was 15 years old, Clyde let my dad borrow one of his cars for a few days.  For whatever reason, I thought it’d be a good idea to take that car out for a spin.  No, I didn’t have a license and no, I didn’t have anyone’s permission so yes, I basically stole that car.  In my infinite wisdom, I chose a dark, rainy night to take that car out and I ran it right into a telephone pole.  I.Totaled.That.Car.   I wasn’t really hurt, because I did have enough sense to wear a seatbelt, but I was dreading when my parents found out…and when Clyde would find out.  The next morning, my dad drove me to Clyde’s house so I could apologize in person.  I was a nervous wreck the whole way to his house and my knees felt like Jell-O as I stood in front of him and apologized profusely.  I was so embarrassed and afraid and my “ugly cry” was in full force when Clyde put his arms around me and said so sweetly and softly, “I forgive you.  I’m just glad you’re okay.  This car can be replaced, you cannot.”  I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders and for the first time in my life, I knew how it felt to be wholly and sincerely forgiven.  To this day, I can still feel that immediate relief of true forgiveness when I relive that moment. He showed me how to be like Jesus that day and in that moment of pardon, Clyde was the embodiment of Christ.  I was taught one of most important lessons of my life that morning of March 26, 1997.  Forgiveness is a powerful, life-changing thing and I needed to be sure I passed that forgiveness on to others in my life when the time came.  Every time I’ve uttered the words, “I forgive you” since that day, I think about those words and that sweet hug from Clyde and I will be forever grateful for the lesson he taught me and the influence he continues to be in my life to this day.  Those three words changed me and I am so thankful.

          Miss Mary Etta Neiland is a legend, in my mind.  She started Happy Times Preschool at Central church of Christ over 30 years ago (my husband was in her first class!) and she retired this past year.  Three of my four kids have attended or are attending Happy Times and when she announced her retirement, I begged her to stay at least until all of my kids were out of preschool.  She simply smiled at my request and said, “No.”  It’s that honestly and candor that has resonated with me ever since I met Miss Mary Etta.  I grew up attending church at Central and Miss Mary Etta quickly became our adopted grandma…well, ours and everyone else’s!  At that time, she had no grandchildren of her own and I remember thinking how sad it was that this sweet lady wasn’t somebody’s grandma yet and I wanted to see to it that she felt like she was our grandma.  My little brother and I used to spend the night at her house from time to time and it was just like grandma’s house, from the carton of Purity Lemonade she’d pour us, to the trips to Toys R Us.  She would also “get after” us like a grandma would too.  Once when we spent the night, she tucked us in and turned off the light.  My brother and I of course didn’t settle down and Miss Mary Etta came back in the room and said very firmly, “It is time to go sleep.  I will NOT come in this room again.”  We understood and we went to sleep.  What she said went, and we loved and respected her for that.  A few years ago when my third daughter was at Happy Times, she went through a phase where she cried every time I dropped her off.  One morning after a particularly bad departure at the preschool, I called Miss Mary Etta and said, “I am so sorry about this morning.  I am at a loss for what to do.  What should I do?”  Miss Mary Etta let out a little laugh and said, “Well, first of all, I think you need to lighten up!”  I loved it.  She was exactly right. She explained that my child wasn’t the first to behave that way and she wouldn’t be the last and she assured me they could handle it.  “It won’t last forever,” she said.  There have been many instances when I’m unsure how to handle a situation with my kids and I think, “What would Miss Mary Etta do?” She has set the standard in my eyes and I can only hope to raise my kids as well as she raised her children.  To me, she is the epitome of child-rearing and common sense. She keeps it simple and she means what she says.  She’d probably think I was silly for admiring her as much as I do, but her mark in my life has been so significant and indelible it’s impossible to be anything but eternally grateful for the influence she’s had on me.

          My sweet Aunt Julia is the definition of a Proverbs 31 woman.  She has lived her life dedicated to the Lord and His work.  I often think about what God will say to her when she meets Him and there’s no doubt in my mind He’s mighty pleased with her.  She’s so calm and kind and whenever she enters the room, the atmosphere is softer.  She just has that affect on her surroundings.  I saw her last week and she came right over to me, kissed my forehead and said, “Love you,” in her sweet, gentle voice.  How could you not feel loved after that?!  She always has made me feel important and wonderful.  She has such a loving, patient, motherly way about her that I see she has passed on to her own daughters.  What a gift to give your children.  I remember when we were growing up, Aunt Julia used to expect her children to obey “right away, all the way, and happily”.  Such a simple saying, but it says so much about the expectations she had for her children.  My Aunt Julia has shown me, and many others, how to live for the Lord and to always put Him first no matter the circumstances.  What a blessing she has been to me.

          I’m sure everyone has those people in their lives who’ve had a profound impact on them.  Like I said, these names and people may not mean anything to you, but they mean the world to me and the countless others they’ve influenced.  I can only hope to influence those around me in the way that these three have in my life.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Well, Bless Your Heart....

      Bless your heart. Living in the South, you can get away with saying nearly anything if you follow it up with a , "Bless your heart". I have such a love/hate relationship with that phrase.  Love it if it's directed towards someone else.  Hate it if it's directed towards me. I learned that firsthand last Friday. 

      That afternoon, I had to make a run to Publix, my favorite grocery store.  I love going to the grocery store.  Ryan and I usually go together, but he was at work and I needed a few things right away.  I feel almost "nekkid" if I walk into Publix without him.  Sadly, just about everyone who works there knows us.  Ryan especially...he tends to stand out in a crowd a little more than I do :)  We walk in and the Meat Manager comes over and slaps Ryan on the back, "Hey!  Big Man!  How's it goin'?!" I love it.  I love that my sweet Ryan makes friends everywhere he goes.  Anyhow, I already felt somewhat out of sorts waltzing through Publix without "Big Man" by my side that afternoon.  I had my two littlest ones buckled in the cart and I was deciding what butter to buy when a sweet little old lady pushed her cart over to me.
      "What beautiful little girls you have!" she said.  I thanked her and then she dropped a bomb on me.
        "Are they excited for the new baby?"  I was totally confused.  Baby?  What baby?  I even glanced at my cart to see if I had given birth to an infant since arriving at the store.  I told you I was feeling out sorts, so who knows what I could've done in those first five minutes, browsing the butter.  I must've looked like a confused puppy because I cocked my head to the side and just stared at her blankly.  Then the realization hit me like a ton of bricks.
        "Oh, I'm not pregnant," I said softly, partly because I didn't want to embarrass her and partly because I didn't want to embarrass myself.  This sweet old lady looked as if she were about to cry.
       "Oh! I'm so sorry! I just...I thought...your blouse...well, bless your heart."  I couldn't help but laugh.  She put her hand on my arm and kept apologizing.  I kept laughing.  She kept trying to explain why she thought I was pregnant.  I kept laughing. 

      "It must be your blouse, dear.  Oh, bless your heart.  I do apologize."  I told her it was okay and I do have what I like to call "permanent baby belly", since I've had four children.  Well, that struck a chord with her.  She also had four children.  I learned all about them.  And their spouses.  And their children.  And her husband is a preacher.  And they always go grocery shopping together (just like us!) She said she could tell I was a Christian by the way I handled her thinking I was pregnant.  I took that as a compliment :)  And she is also one of four children.  And they are all in their 80's.  And she turned 85 on April 4th.  After a few minutes, she said she must go because she could see that her husband was getting a little wild in the potato chip aisle.  She squeezed my hand and said, "You're so sweet.  I do hope we meet again."  I said I hoped the same, and I turned to walk down the ice cream aisle.  I had a coupon for the best ice cream bars on the planet.  They are a little pricey, so when I have a coupon, I have to buy a box.  Just as I reached in the freezer case and pulled out my beloved bars, my new friend was looking at me, half ways smiling.

      "Okay," I said, "This is really why I have 'permanent baby belly'."  She laughed and gave me a look that I KNOW said, "Well, bless your heart."



Thursday, April 4, 2013


Someday, you'll miss this, so I'm told
Try not to wish it away
Too soon it seems your babies grow old
And you'll be wanting back these days
Someday, you'll miss the growing belly
The swollen ankles, the tiny kicks
Constant cravings for peanut butter and jelly
And feeling like your body's taken 1000 licks
Someday, you'll miss that newborn cry
Jarring you out of a deep, dead sleep
The long day that blurs into night
And being so tired, you just want to weep
Someday, you'll miss sitting, rocking her in the chair
Feeling so unproductive, laundry piled high
Forgetting the last time you washed your hair
Feeling like every sign of youth has waved bye-bye
Someday, you'll miss diapers, teething, spit-up
Car seats, high chairs, and first steps
Pureed peas, pacifiers, sippy cups
And wondering if as a mother, you are inept
Someday, you'll miss the tiny sound
Of footsteps creeping down the hall
"Get back in bed!" you stand your ground
But would that extra cuddle have hurt, after all?
Someday, you'll miss running around town
Dropping off, picking up, and bringing to
Swimming upstream, about to drown
Feeling like your whole life is a zoo
Somedays, I feel like that "someday"
Is so far down the road, out of my reach
But somedays that "someday" feels not so far away
"Not yet!" I think "So much is left to teach!"
So hold my hand, yours in mine feels so small
I wish I could halt this swift-moving time
But I'll have my memories, I'll cherish them all
And someday remember when you were all mine

Friday, June 29, 2012

In My Life...

I've had a severe case of blog-writer's block lately.  I've been working on another project (aside from my husband, raising kids, my job, church stuff, school stuff, extra-curricular stuff, etc) that has taken up the creative compartment of my brain.  It seems that no matter what, I just haven't been able to think up of anything worthwhile to blog about.  I even converted our rarely-used dining room into an office so I can have an actual space to sit and write quietly.  I always have this feeling that no one reads my blog anyway, so I'm sure no one even notices that there have been no new posts in months!  My husband asks me every so often why I haven't blogged in awhile and my answer is the same each time, "I don't know.  I guess I have nothing good to write about."  He'll try to give me a few ideas that I quickly dismiss, but the other day he had a pretty good one.  "Why don't you write about your life," he said.  "You could start when you were born and blog about all the stuff you remember."  All the stuff I remember?  I have a memory that goes as far back as 1967, yet I was born in 1981 . . . meaning I remember lots of stuff.  Lots of unimportant stuff.  Lots of weird stuff. I even have some memories that I'm not sure are mine.  What I mean is, it could be something that has been talked about so much during my life that my brain has just "adopted" the memory as its own. But it might be kinda fun (or incredibly boring), I thought, to rehash as many of my memories as I could.  We'll see how this turns out . . .

Our farmhouse in North Dakota
I was born on October 12, 1981, in Devils Lake, North Dakota.  I am the fourth of five kids and from what I've been told, my brother Neil was super-ticked when I was born because I was a girl.  His third little sister in a row.  Poor kid.  But he got a little brother when Stewart came along three years later, but more on that soon.  Anyhow, my mom said I was a big baby . . . ten pounds, four ounces and 22 inches long.  That is a big baby.  I feel the need to apologize to my mom every now and then.  I'm sorry Mom, fourth baby or not, that one had to hurt.  She said I never slept and I would just play in my crib.  Maybe that's why I love to nap now . . . making up for all that lost sleep as a baby :)  When I was a few months old, my mom noticed a weird bump in my nose.  She took me to our pediatrician who I guess had it tested and it was a tumor.  A benign tumor, but it still had to be removed.  So in January, 1982 my parents took me to a hospital in Minneapolis to have surgery.  My dad said it was so funny how drugged up I was before the surgery.  I was trying to hold my head up, but it was too heavy from the drugs so I would bob my head and just smile all high-like :)  I guess the surgery went fine because I got to go home and everything healed pretty well.  I don't remember anything of course over the next few years.  My very first memory is of our kitchen of our farmhouse in North Dakota.  I was about two years old and I was standing at the bottom of the staircase in the kitchen. 
Me and my MASH-lovin' Dad.
I was wearing my favorite dress . . . a Strawberry Shortcake dress.  Ahhh, she was so beautiful :)  I don't know why that is forever seared into my brain, but it is.  I remember being really sick around the same time and having strange dreams and waking up in the middle of the night, terrified because the room was spinning.  I was too afraid to go downstairs to my parents room so I stayed in my bed and had crazy hallucinations because of my high fever.  I remember thinking that the wallpaper was coming to life and crawling upwards to the ceiling.  This might have been the same time that I had a bad ear infection and my ear drum burst during the night.  My mom came into my room the next morning and there was blood all over my pillow.  Poor Mom.  I bet she was the one who was terrified after that.  Some time later, I remember sitting in my dad's lap watching MASH . . . oh that explains so much (like why I have 27 episodes of MASH saved on my DVR right now!).  Whenever I hear the theme song, it brings back that memory.  Sitting in my dad's lap.  He smelled so good.
Neil, Jessica, Meri, and Me.  

When I was three or so, I remember playing outside one day in particular.  It was windy and a little cold out and I was wearing a red-hooded sweater.  We had a footpath in front of our house and for whatever reason, I was running up and down it.  Then suddenly, I was skipping for the first time.  I remember thinking, "I'm skipping!"  I was so proud of myself.  I wanted to show everyone :)  I remember our dog, Rebel, seemed to skip along with me.  I loved that dog.  I am convinced he was a human being in a dog's body.  There will never be another like him.  He made Lassie look like an amateur.  There was one time that my mom told me to go outside to where my dad and some other men were working on our farm.  It was time for their "coffee break" and they were near the grain dryer, which was this huge metal thing that we were not to go near because it was dangerous.  But my mom knew it was safe to send me because my dad would see me coming  and wouldn't let me get near the dryer.  I was making my way across the gravel driveway to my dad, when Rebel ran over to me and stopped, blocking my way.  Every time I would try to take a step forward, Rebel would push me back away from the direction of the grain dryer.  I was so little that he would knock me down when he'd push me back and it made me so mad.  I was crying, "Stop it, Rebel!  Move!"  My dad saw what was happening and he came over and said, "Good boy, Rebel," and scratched Rebel's ears.  The dog was trying to keep me away from something he knew was unsafe and I didn't understand that until years later.  We had a milkman named Ron who would come deliver milk to our house.  He drove a blue Lakeview Dairy Truck and Rebel would bark whenever Ron's truck was coming down the driveway.  Rebel would bark whenever anyone came down the driveway :)  Ron was tall and had dark hair and a beard.  He smiled all the time and wore a blue uniform.  I would ask him EVERYTIME he'd deliver milk, no matter what time of year it was, "Do you have any egg nog yet?"  He would laugh and say, "No, not yet!"  But I remember this one day when I asked, he DID have egg nog!  Jackpot!!  Best.Day.Ever.  He was so nice.  I think he'd give us ice cream sometimes too, which made him even more awesome.
This wasn't our milkman, but this was somebody's milkman from Lakeview Dairy :)

I remember going to the grain elevator in Devils Lake with my dad, I think it was called "Lake Region Grain".      They had a coke machine that dispensed glass bottles and my dad would let me get one sometimes.  I didn't really know how to drink out of a coke bottle, so I'd put my entire mouth over the opening.  My dad was talking to some of his friends that worked there and he looked down at me and saw how I was drinking my coke.  "Don't do that, Lindsey or you'll get your mouth stuck on that bottle and we'll never be able to get it off," my dad said.  His friends started laughing and one of them came at me to tickle me or something.  I didn't like it.  All those grown men laughing at me.  Not cool.  For years I really thought if I drank a coke like that, it'd get stuck on my mouth.  The guy that came at me, his name was Dennis and I think he died in a bad accident some time ago.  It makes me sad when I think that he tried to be nice to me, but he ended up scaring me instead.  Poor Dennis.  He just thought my dad's joke was funny.  I remember this other time, I was watching TV and it was showing an ambulance loading up a body covered by a sheet. I had never seen anything like that before. I said, "Dad, what's that?"  He said, "That's Marvin Gaye.  His dad shot him and killed him yesterday."  I was about three or so . . . nice, Dad :)  He believed in keepin' it real, I guess.

You remember that movie, "The Shining"?  There's a scene in it where Scatman Crothers tells the little boy he "shines", meaning he can read people's minds or something.  Well, I don't really believe in things like that, but I had a similar experience around three or four years old.  I remember seeing a "ghost" outside my parents bedroom window one night.  It was over by our clothesline (yes, it was probably a bed sheet!) and I can still see it to this day in my mind's eye.  While I was looking at it, I remember thinking to myself, "This isn't real, I'm inside my mom's dream."  Weird, yes, but hang on.  The next morning at breakfast, my mom was saying something to my grandma (who was visiting) about her dream.  I then chimed in and told the rest of my mom's dream to her and my grandma, even though my mom hadn't told anyone else about it. I talked about my mom's dream like it had been mine and I was able to recall it even though she hadn't told anyone about it.  Weird little girl.  Apparently, I did a lot of things like that freaked out my parents.  Now, I don't think that mind-reading is real, nor do I think ghosts are real, but I do think there are lots of things we as humans can't explain.  My dad's parents lived in the farmhouse  right up the road from us in North Dakota.  Their house was big and white with green trim.  My great-grandfather built it around 1920 or so.  To the side of that house sat the house where my grandma was born.  Her grandpa built that house and his name, "Chris Hermanson", is etched in one of the window panes.  Neat.  Gives it character.  Anyway, we used to play "school" in the older house.  It had a closed in front porch that had old school desks in it.  We weren't allowed to go into the main part of the old house because I'm sure it was dangerous; old floorboards and stuff.  I loved playing on that closed in porch, but the house itself terrified me.  I always felt as if we were being watched by something inside the house.  I'm not saying we were, but it felt like that.  You know that feeling when someone is behind you . . . yeah, it felt like that.  It wasn't scary enough for me to stop playing there though :)  The main house where my grandparents lived was the neatest house.  I can still smell it.  It was a mixture of plaster walls and potatoes boiling on the stove.  Again, I realize that's weird, but that's what my mind remembers.  Everything about that house was comforting . . . it was what a grandparents' house should be.  My mom's parents lived away, but they'd come visit from time to time.  One time when I was three and they were visiting, my Granddad was reading the Bible to Meri, Stewart, and me.  I started reading along with him and he stopped and said, "What's this word, Lindsey?"  I would read to whatever he pointed to.  He said to my mom, "Claudia, did you know this baby could read?!"  No one knew I could read, except for Meri.  She taught me when she would force me to play school every afternoon.  I guess she and I didn't think it was a big deal that a three year old could read and believe me, Meri has NEVER let me forget who taught me!!  But I'm very thankful.  I don't think I would love reading and writing as much as I do if it weren't for her, shall we say, persistence in teaching me.

The "Thriller" Zombie pic that I am still terrified of.  Thanks, Meri.
Speaking of Meri . . . we had this Michael Jackson picture book that had different photos of him with his video extras and stuff.  There was this one picture of him with some of the zombies from "Thriller".  Meri used to hold that picture up to my face and it would terrify me . . . nothing in this world scared me more than the Thriller zombies.  Meri would laugh and I would scream bloody murder.  In fact, I was about 28 years old before I watched the entire "Thriller" video all by myself.  My other sister, Jessica, had a book too, but it wasn't full of zombies.  It was an awesome sticker book.  It had pages and pages of stickers she had collected.  I remember sitting there and looking at the book over and over again.  She had Garfield stickers, scratch -n- sniff stickers, ahhh . . . I was in sticker heaven :)  She told me recently she still had that sticker book and I felt a sense of joy that has only been matched by the birth of my children.  Haha :)
Meri probably just showed me the Zombie picture.

One night, shortly after I turned three, my mom and dad had to go to the hospital because my mom was in labor with her fifth and final baby.  My grandma was in town since the baby was coming soon, so she kept us while mom and dad were gone.  I remember that night so well . . . we were watching "Love Boat" and I was chewing on my Cabbage Patch belt (yes, I said I was chewing on a belt.  I already made it clear I was weird, so let's move on) and the belt buckle became stuck on my lip.  It hurt so bad and my grandma had to "unstuck" it from my mouth.  That was the last time I chewed on my belt.  Lesson learned.  My mom and dad brought my new baby brother, Stewart, home from the hospital a few days later.  He was so cute and fat (he was also 10lbs 4oz) and I remember getting to hold him on the couch.  He seemed SO heavy, a lot heavier than my baby dolls.  Some time later, my mom was trying to dress Stewart and he was screaming.  I said, "I wish I had a little sister instead," and my mom replied, very matter-of-factly, "Little sisters cry too, Lindsey."  Yep, she was right, seeing as I now have a houseful of little girls.  
Around the time I tried to eat my Cabbage Patch belt :)

Well, I hope you enjoyed my little walk down memory lane.  Thank you for walking with me :)  Maybe you can walk with me again in a few days while I do a little more reminiscing . . . I do enjoy your company!