Speak Softly

My grandmother’s house was my home from the time I was about three til I had nearly completed high school. It was a quiet and orderly house.  We did major chores in the morning and arranged the afternoons for social life or reading or crafts. We rose early to get the days started.

At no time was there yelling or profanity in the home.  When thoroughly provoked I did hear her say to my grandfather “Well, ye gods and little fishes, Ollie.” His strongest epithet was “Hell’s bells, mom.”

Her two rules of conduct were:

  • You will not make a scene to disgrace the family, and
  • I don’t care how you feel; you will put on a pretty face and be nice to the company.

Perhaps she didn’t realize it, but she was creating a pattern for successful living.

Children need a structure, a schedule, standard and unchanging expectations. Yes, I know that limits choices.

Until they are old enough to handle the chaos that is this world, limited choices are a good thing.  I didn’t say to my children “what do you want to wear tomorrow?”  Instead I said “do you want to wear the blue dress or the pink one?”  The simplified choice, which one of two, is good practice for youngsters.

Yelling and raised voices generally lead to louder yelling.  My grandmother had an eyebrow. When it dropped, you immediately left what you were doing that was not approved and started the task you had abandoned. If she reprimanded you, it was in a quiet, disappointed tone of voice. It let you know that you had failed her expectations.

I’m a firm believer in children living either up or down to expectations. When I was teaching, I had a set of twins in one of my classes. Ron (made up name) had always gotten better grades than Don (also made up name), but in my class, the opposite was true. Don put in the effort and earned the better grade. That was because I was new in town and didn’t know the prior expectations, so I expected the best of both of them. Don lived up to my expectations; but Ron was in the habit of skating by on reputation and didn’t perform as well.

All this to say, let your children know that you expect the best of them. Courtesy and civility are always in style. Working up to potential is the best course of action. Facing problems quietly and head on gets them handled more effectively.

The job of a good parent is to make himself/herself obsolete in the child’s life as early as possible. You shouldn’t be having to discipline your teenager as you did when he/she was two. And along those same lines, no good parent stands between a child and the consequences of his own actions.

The sooner children learn that every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment, the better off they are.

In fact, that’s a lesson we all should review from time to time.



If Your Head Won’t Work…

When you have a young family, mornings can be very hectic. But there are things you can do to preclude the disaster that mornings can be.

We’ve all see that sign that says think_plan_ahead

and giggled at the irony.

But there is truth in that saying.

A good morning starts the night before.

  • Make sure your kitchen and dining room are ready for breakfast before you go to bed.
  • Check the weather forecast and select your wardrobe from top to bottom, putting it on a single hanger at the front of the closet. Undies and accessories can be tucked into a baggie or spent grocery bag and looped onto the hanger. No fuss, no hunt.
  • Things that need to leave the house with you should be organized into a single container – back pack, brief case, cardboard box, whatever fits.

Most people don’t plan to fail. They simply fail to plan.

Or as my sainted grandmother used to say

“If your head won’t work, your heels must.”

Thinking ahead saves unnecessary trips and much frustration.

Have a really good Thursday – first day of Autumn – morning.


Common Sense

As my grandmother used to say “there is nothing so rare as common sense.” More and more, we seem to defer to credentialed “experts” regardless of their capability.

When my eldest was born, a loving neighbor gave me a copy of Dr. Spock’s book Baby and Child Care.  She admonished me that it was for the medical appendix only. Dr. Spock was an unmarried pediatrician who never parented a child. While he had all the credentials,  he had no experience. There is no substitute for experience in the field.

I used the book for recommendations on treating common childhood illnesses and diagnosing such things as measles and chicken pox. At that time, we had no vaccinations against those common childhood illnesses.

My well stocked medicine cabinet contains some really old-fashioned remedies:

  • Band-aids – never be without them – and carry a few in your purse
  • Antibiotic ointment and/or spray – there are several good ones on the market
  • Prid Drawing Salve – will pull splinters, thorns, even shards of glass or metal. Just applprid-group3_0y a dab, cover with bandaid, and wait til morning. This is especially useful if there are pieces too small to see and remove with tweezers.
  • Tweezers for removing the objects above.
  • Rubbing alcohol for sterilizing and dabbing on itching places
  • Hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds

Ninety percent of the medical problems I had with my children could be handled with these simple things.   If it was too complicated or severe for these, we made a trip to the clinic or ER.

The important thing to remember in any situation is “do not panic”. Take a deep breath and think. Your common sense will kick in, and you will do the right thing.

Enjoying your children is the best part of parenting.


A New Direction

A New Direction

It has been three years and more since I was active with this blog. It began as a tribute to my grandmother, Lucille Ann Bigler, nee Mankin. It was her teaching and mentoring that led to the publication of As Grandma Says, my devotional gift book published by Harvest House in early 2011.

Then it fell silent. I was unable to locate the missing pieces that I had last written about in June 2013. It seemed that there was nothing more to be said except that they are lost.

It has come to my attention that we have generations of young parents coming up without the practical knowledge that our mothers and grandmothers handed down.

As an example, some years ago my daughter had just delivered her first child and was attempting to breast feed. She was engorged, and the baby was hungry, unable to latch onto the nourishment nature provides. The hospital and breastfeeding experts had no help for her.  At that time, breast shields were out of favor.

When I got there the following day, she and the baby were being dismissed from the hospital. Our first stop on the way home was at the local drug store to find a breast shield which would help the infant and protect the engorged breast.

The first feeding with the breast shield was quite successful, and the baby got enough nourishment that he slept, happily sated, for more than three hours. During that interval, we applied a breast pump to help dis-engorge the breasts and provide a supplemental supply for the refrigerator if needed.

Within forty-eight hours, the engorgement was gone; the breast shield was cleaned and stored; and the baby nursed happily for the remainder of his infancy. All because Grandma knew what to do. And how did Grandma know what to do? Her grandmother had provided the same information to her in similar circumstance.

Grandmas are the common sense keepers of our culture. We know what works because we’ve seen it or done it successfully.

For the foreseeable future, this blog will seek to address some of the common pitfalls of parenting. Trends and fashions come and go. Certain methods are in favor at some points and out of favor at others.

While I will be addressing parenting and educational issues that I see (from the sidelines now), questions are most welcome. Please use the comments for your question and look for a short response there. Who knows? Your question just might become the basis of another post.




Some time ago, I posted my grandmother’s essay about the figurine painting that went on on her back porch. Reading it I remembered the figurines she painted, especially “Top of the Hill” and the seated lady with the roses. Since then I have scoured both my mother’s house and mine in an unsuccessful attempt to locate them so that I could post pictures of what she described for you.   I’ve not given up, but I’m still looking.

My grandmother was interested, involved and proficient. She had a penchant for perfection and was not satisfied with less. Whether she was knitting, crocheting, quilting, appliqueing, cooking, canning, ironing, trimming bushes, entertaining, playing cards, whatever it was, she threw herself into it wholeheartedly.

I think that was the secret of her good nature. She lived each day as if it were the only one.

Pondering Generations

Today’s post is a birth announcement.

Luke Christian Andreasen was born at 8:41 a.m. on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 in Okinawa. I learned of it on Monday evening, November 26, in Kansas. Time is not static.

Luke is not my grandson. He is my daughter’s grandson. He is my grandson’s son. He is my grandmother’s great-great-great grandson. Suddenly, I find my place between three generations of ancestors and three generations of descendants. Seven generations.

I remember my grandfather’s father as an old man. His was the first death I remember. He was 96 and I was six when he died.

I remember my grandparents as no particular age at all. I remember my mother as young and harried because she was making a living on the railroad during WWII. Later we became good friends, very good friends.

My children are now adults, and I number them as friends as well as family. My grandchildren are scattered in age from nearly 31 to not quite ten.  They are scattered geographically, also, from Florida to Okinawa to Kansas.

My great-grandfather lived twenty miles away, I shared a home with my grandparents and my mother. My children were raised in our household. I have visited my children and grandchildren  in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado and Maine.

I am to this great-grandson what my great-grandfather was to me – a fact, not an influence.  Or maybe…

Who knows?

From My Back Porch – Part 9

The sun is shining this morning, and again from my back porch the world looks clean and bright from the good heavy rain that came last evening, without tornadoes.

I see there was some washing away of soil on the south lawn. I must see what kind of grass seed to put there, or maybe some more Bermuda grass would do, although it is pretty shady over there.

A little squirrel is in the walnut tree just outside my west window. He is scolding someone of the animal family just beyond my vision. I find little piles of walnuts here and there on the yard where the squirrels have dropped them, no doubt thinking, like people, that they will get them later.

That reminds me of our beloved little Boots, a black cocker spaniel. When we would have a cook out on the lawn, he would give us no peace until we would give him an ice cube.  Then he would go to the spirea hedge and bury it. The next time we were outside, he would try to find it. He would go to the exact spot and dig, but of course by that time the ice cube had melted and was no longer to be found.

You could just see that “what-the-heck” look on his face when he could not find it.

Boots, like the rest of my family, is not here now. They only come once in a while as they all  have their homes and families that keep them busy. And that’s as it should be. I’m happy for them.

Just now I see a robin red breast sunning himself in a  spot of sunlight on the lawn. He turns first one side and then the other, raising each wing in order for the warmth to reach his body.

I always take my pencil and tablet with me to the porch, for there is always something going on outside that is interesting, either my neighbors or nature’s family. I see  a lot from my back porch, mostly good.

This essay was written by my grandmother, Lucile Ann Bigler, more than half a century ago. It was found, undated, in a small box of her manuscripts.  Date is 1960-something.