Mama’s Mixtape

It seemed like every time she spoke, I would respond with high-pitched whines, ever-rolling eyes, and yeah whatevers. (It really, really is a miracle that I made it to adulthood!) Worse yet, I would argue the opposite of what she was saying. If my mother stated that the sky was blue, I would claim that it had a tint of red. If she commented that it was cold outside, I would swear that I was hot. And if she yelled, “Turn down that #$&* noise!”, naturally, I cranked up the volume. (Yep, I was THAT kid..)

Half Past Life

In the little “down” time I do have, I enjoy seeing the world. I have traveled throughout the continental United States, as well as to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Canada, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexico, England, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Gibraltar, Morocco, and Egypt. Still on my bucket list of places to visit are Scotland, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Wales, Alaska, Australia, Netherlands, Greek Isles, Scandinavian fjords, and the Galápagos Islands. I also want to visit these must-see sites: Great Wall of China, Acropolis, Angkor Wat, Petra, St. Basil’s Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Budapest, Forbidden City, Taj Mahal, and Machu Picchu. (Wow!  That’s a whole lot of places. Looks like I will be racking up some frequent flyer miles!)

Phenomenal Women

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

— Maya Angelou

October Lights

Instead a new light, a slightly brighter one, pried open my eye lids and again, I was startled to fully awake. Floating across the room was a small flowing drape of light, slowly rotating and moving from near the door towards the end of my bed. It was like a couple feet of weightless semi-transparent chiffon fabric, and it drifted closer to my bed.

My pulse was racing and I was angry at being almost scared. “No,” I thought, “I’m a scientist and not some ghost-story paranoid. But what is that thing?”

Princes, Paupers, Pilgrims, and Pioneers

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.” Teaching children values and giving them the opportunity to excel is essential to good parenting. However, I feel I must also provide my children (and myself) insight into the ones who came before us: our ancestors whose lives and stories have shaped us into who we are. This is my journey; these are their stories…

Ordering Babies From the Montgomery Ward Catalog

“Where do babies come from?” Mom, in all her quirky and extraordinary wisdom, had those tales covered for each stage of life. For her children, the tales were many and delighted each one of us, no matter how often we heard her stories.

As a child in my household, we grew up just loving babies. Maybe it was because we had such a large family, or perhaps it was only because babies hold such magic and mystery as they quickly transform throughout their first year of life. Those special moments grasped our hearts as the little ones smiled, cried, pouted, and cooed, turning our insides into mush. Well, at least most of our family members felt that way. However, when my little brother, Danny, was about three, he had differing thoughts on that matter.

Life was engaging in my home; we had a new infant every two years until Danny, the baby, came along. And like in every family, eventually, the kids asked, “Where do babies come from?” In all her quirky and extraordinary wisdom, Mom covered those tales for each life stage. For her children, the many accounts delighted each of us, no matter how often we heard her stories.

The day finally arrived when the family’s baby questioned mom about how babies entered this world. Mom had quite the anecdote for this curious little brother at that particular moment. “Well, I have been ordering babies from the Montgomery Ward Catalog for years,” Mom quipped.

Since we always had that particular catalog in our home, Danny asked, “Can I look at those babies?”

Mom smiled, found the latest edition, and handed it to the family’s youngest member. Danny burrowed under the covers on the couch and spent hours thumbing through the pages looking at each baby that advertised the latest in newborn clothing. What a brilliant idea! It kept that on-the-go little boy quiet for several hours as he seriously viewed each little baby, making mental notes about each one.

In time, Danny made his decision. After calling mom, he pointed to a bundled mass of cuteness and stated, “I want this one.”

“Are you sure?” Mom questioned her little boy.

In a serious tone, the little guy nodded his head up and down and replied, “Uh-huh.”

“Okay, I will place the order,” Mom responded.

All present that witnessed this interaction smiled and went about their daily activities. That night, however, Danny had a change of heart. As bedtime approached, Danny snuggled with his mama on the couch. Wearing his footy pajamas, the little boy told his mama, “I don’t want that baby. I wanna be the baby.”

“Too late,” Momma replied. “We all took a vote, and everyone decided they wanted that new baby.”

Horrified, Danny jumped from the couch in a huff without saying a word. While the rest of the siblings watched TV in the family room, mom read the evening paper in the quiet sanctuary of the living room. Still on a mission, Danny found the Montgomery Ward Catalog and took it to the kitchen table. Quickly Danny rifled through each page until he found the place displaying the dreaded baby he thought he had once wanted. Once he saw that baby, he sighed in relief.

After his covert operation, Danny smugly walked into the living room with a haughty smile spread from ear to ear. “You can’t order that baby anymore,” he proudly told his mom.

Dad, who had missed out on the previous conversation and adventure, folded his paper to witness the latest escapade that had transpired while he was at work.

Tilting her head with a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, the mother gazed at her youngest child, that was so full of puffed-up pride. “I can’t? She asked.

“Nope,” Danny replied.

“Why not?”

“Because I ripped him out of the book. He’s not there anymore!” Danny proudly answered.

That did it for Mom. Like on many occasions, this one wasn’t any different. She began laughing, and when she was especially tickled, she laughed until she cried. Danny grinned and climbed onto the couch to cuddle with his mama, knowing his place as the baby was safe from any newcomers. Dad just shook his head and went back to reading the paper, knowing his wife would not be able to discuss what had happened until she finished her giggling fit. And in a corner where I had been reading my book, I chuckled too at the delightful craziness of life with little brothers and a mother with a vivid imagination that spun the most amazing tales.

Photo by __ drz __ on Unsplash