Reserved for Bob

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Dear Lindsey,

Anyone who fishes knows that fishing with kids is a totally different game. I love having my kids along, but when the boys were 6 and 9, their tangled lines, broken lures and snags on land-growing trees usually took so much of my time that I didn’t get to fish.  So for Mother’s Day one year, my husband treated me to a 4-hour fishing guide in the Florida flats!

I began my search for a fishing charter captain at my favorite tackle shop, closest to our house (in Florida at the time). The shop-owner was on the phone when I arrived, so I busied myself looking at the shirts and hats bearing the store’s name. That’s when I heard him on the phone saying (ironically!), “NO!!! Don’t make me take that charter! I hate fishing with girls! That’s torture!”

I quietly left the store, never booking the trip, unbeknownst to the man who missed the sale. (and missed the sail – if I wanted a pun. 🙂 ) He doesn’t know what he missed!

Another marina I really liked, Jensens on Captiva, was a bit of a drive (or boat) away. On 9865605_orighot boating days, our family would often stop there for ice cream or a soda. There was a sign in the parking lot that said, “Reserved for Bob.” I didn’t know who “Bob” was, or if it was a joke, but he seemed pretty important to have his own professionally-made sign.

The man at the counter was excited to help me when I told him I was looking for a fishing guide. I asked if I could take my 6 and 9-year-old boys, and he said that some captains prefer no kids, but he thought “Bob” would be fine with it.

“Bob”? THE Bob? I booked, “Bob,” for the following Thursday at 7am.

The day arrived, and Casey, Nate and I loaded up the car, while Chris stayed home with the still-sleeping toddlers. We arrived dockside by 6:50am, so we wouldn’t miss any minutes of our fishing day! The boys and I loved to look at the live bait in the outside wells there.  Fishing captains came in fancy sea-going boats with outriggers galore and outriggers_trolling_spread_how-to02stocked their live-wells with the baitfish, while their clients loaded. Groups of men and even a few couples came, found their assigned captains and loaded their chartered boats for their day at sea.

We waited.

I built the boys’ dream, “Imagine what we could catch today! Do you think that one will catch a big one?” I asked, pointing to the largest of the pin fish in the bait well. That’s when I noticed things were getting quiet at Jensen’s Marina. It seemed like all of the fishing boats had come and gone.

We waited.

Finally, at 7:30, thirty minutes past our meeting time, and eons since the last captain had left, I decided to ask if we were in the right place. The man behind the desk said, “Oh… Bob. You have Bob? Yeah… he’ll be here.”

I took this to mean that Bob was “usually” late.

Doubting began. I didn’t doubt that Bob would be there; I doubted that he was a good captain for our boat. “Usually” late? Wait – is that why he needed his parking spot reserved? Ugh.

Maybe he is the last on the list to take people out – and that’s why he got “stuck” with the “girl” and kids. Reality came to mind that this could possibly be a total scam. They just got some homeless guy and said I’d give him money if he pretended to fish for the day.

We waited… impatiently.

7:37. An unfitting boat pulled up to the dock near where we stood. The boat looked older than I. Ten years of grime had changed its color, making the original undistinguishable. The morning’s dew combined with the previous day’s slime to make a nasty swirl and stench. A dead crab and another unidentifiable animal lay in the corner where they had slid when the boat moved. The driver was probably fifty, but difficult to guess because of his sun-beaten skin. No hat. I wondered what this man was doing at a place like Jensens. Gas, I assumed. Yep, he filled up while the boys and I watched and tried not to stare, looking into the horizon for our chartered captain’s arrival.

little-fishing-boat-stranded-wet-sand-low-tide-90786222

Not really Bob’s boat, but…

He finished his gas duty, then turned to me and said, “You all can load up.”

Wait. What? Get on THAT thing?! This is “THE Bob”? No way. Can’t do it. Dis-gus-ting!

“Great!” both boys shouted and ran to his umm… boat.  I must admit, I was so turned off, but noticing how my boys were not made me try to adjust my attitude so I didn’t ruin theirs.

“Bob,” he said, offering a hand as we climbed aboard.

“Casey,” the 9-yr-old said, taking his hand and giving it an enthusiastic shake.

“Ronaldo,” Nate said, since that’s what he wanted to be called those days. (See the story in my previous letter.)

“Terri,” I said, not offering to remove my shoes like normal boat protocol. I didn’t have to ask how he knew that we were his clients. We were the only “mom and two kids,” on the dock. Well actually, we were the only ones on the dock.

We set out into the water, when I realized that we didn’t get bait. Maybe he caught his own? I had a glimmer of hope that he knew what he was doing.

“Did you want to get live bait?” I asked, gesturing toward the dock we were leaving.

“No,” he said simply, not giving me the satisfaction of an explanation. Just, “no.”

He drove and the devil and angel on my shoulders conversed across my brain, attempting to win the battle for my attitude and belief that this day would be worth the money.

I couldn’t believe it when we stopped the boat still in sight of Jensens. I had been there a million times. We were not trolling like all of the fishing boats I had seen leaving the dock earlier.

He took out the “bait.” It was not alive. It looked like a hook from Walmart on which he had painted a head with red nail polish and an eye of black marker. $0.57 for a pack of ten, I cynically did math in my head. He put NO bait on this homemade “masterpiece,” just threw it over the side of the boat. I was getting mad at his lack of aptitude as a “professional”.

“I got something!” Casey said before the second line could go into the water.  He reeled in a ladyfish. I chuckled at the luck of it… first cast!

I enjoyed his excitement while “Ronaldo” dropped his unbaited hook over the edge.

“Got one!” he yelled, while Bob worked at returning Casey’s fish to the water.

Do fish like red nail polish? Or Walmart hooks? Who knew?!

I dropped my line in to the same success. “Fish on!”

We cast.

We caught.

We cast.

We caught.

We cast.

We caught.

“We’ve never had a day of catching like this with YOU, Mom!”

Ouch. That hurt.

Other boats were making a beeline for our area. Big fancy ones. Trollers with high bridges.  Boats full of men out for the day headed toward our little spot in view of the marina.

Nothing.

They caught nothing! All their live bait, all their fancy apparati, and they caught nothing.  (Why did I sinfully enjoy that?!)

“Let’s feed the dolphins,” Bob said.

I thought to myself, You gotta be kidding. You have baitfish somewhere on here, but you are giving it to the dolphins instead of using it to fish?!

That’s when Bob took Casey’s latest ladyfish off of his line, walked four steps to the other

dolphin s head in the surface

side of the boat, and held it over the side. A dolphin magically appeared and jumped out of the water for the fish.

We caught fish on the left and held them as snacks for the dolphins on the right for what seemed like hours. I felt like I was in some “Snow White does SeaWorld” dream.

Bob is a fish-whisperer!

However, ladyfish are easy and common. They don’t fight much. (I always thought “ladyfish” was a misnomer for that reason.) They are perfect for kid fun, but not good eating for anyone but dolphins.

“You like snapper?” Bob looked directly at me.

“I like fish… any kind!” I said, beginning to crack a smile.

He moved the boat over what felt like ten yards (or was it a circle? I don’t know: it all looked the same, still in sight of the Marina), and tossed in the same nail-polished bait, waited a minute and fish-on!

The tug was different, definitely not a “lady.” Sure enough, the red color could be seen through the water. Snapper for dinner! We caught those till we had enough when Captain Bob said, “Let’s see what the mackerels are up to today.”

“Casey and Ronaldo, the way we catch a mackerel is different than the others,” he explained in a full-out knowledgeable tone. Maybe he wasn’t a random homeless guy! “We can’t just drop the hook off the side of the boat. We’re going to cast it as far as we can, then jerk it up and down with the biggest arm motion we can make.”

“Ronaldo” went first. Bob did the casting to get it a good distance from the boat, but my son did the yanking – up and down and up and down. It looked like some kind of weird African dance that would certainly be too jerky for a fish. Then…

“ZZZZZIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG!” something hit and RAN! (or “swam?!”)

“Mackerel.” Captain Bob said, not showing much emotion, not even adding the “holy” in front of it.

Nate reeled and reeled, but the zing of the line indicated that the fish was still swimming away and not getting any closer to the boat.

“Come on, Nate! You can do it!” I cheered from the boat.  This fish had to be a giant, the way it was fighting!

“I thought his name was Ronaldo?” Captain Bob gave me a strange look.

“Nickname,” I said, baffling Bob, I am sure.

Nate reeled and reeled and eventually, the fish succumbed to his beckon. A mackerel, just as Captain Bob predicted before the cast.

We cast.

We caught.

We cast.

We caught.

ZIIINNNNGGGG! Over and over.

 

The four-hour-trip felt like thirty minutes. We headed back to the marina, which I could still see!

The dolphins followed us a bit before heading off to the ocean. As we approached the

white and grey pelican perched on red railing

dock, pelicans came and landed right on our boat! (I couldn’t help but notice they were not on anyone else’s boat!) Captain Bob pulled up to the fish-cleaning table and the pelicans practically got in line behind him. (I couldn’t help but notice nobody else had fish to clean.) Bob threw the scraps the pelicans were expecting.

Without looking up from his cutting, Bob said nonchalantly, “They’re gonna lose their bait.”

I looked around wondering who he meant and whether I was supposed to do something. That’s when out of nowhere, an otter exited the water, climbed onto the dock, then onto someone’s empty boat, opened their cooler with his nose and began taking the bait out – one fish at a time!!! WHAT?!  How did Captain Bob know? How did he see the otter coming? How did he know that boat had something in its cooler?

I asked if I should stop the otter from taking the fish, and he said something like, “If

dewgong on body of water

they’re dumb enough to leave their cooler unlocked, then they deserve it.”

I blackened the mackerel on the grill for dinner. Yummm!  Well worth its price!

Fish

Dolphins

Pelicans

Otters

The kids and I had the time of our lives! Bob is a genius! He deserves a parking place of his own!!

Besides the fun animal-sightings of the day (including a raccoon on our early morning drive), there were other takeaways for me:

  1. Don’t judge a book by its cover or a captain by his boat – or you might miss a really great story!
  2. Don’t ask someone to guide you, and then doubt their every move. Why bother having a guide if you know everything? Enjoy the ride, and judge the catch.
  3. When people start doubting my own guiding, I can give them some grace; afterall, I have had my doubts en route to my “Reserved for Bob” sign.
  4. Girls can fish too.

 

Love ya,

Terri

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John 21: 3-7: 3“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  5He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”  “No,” they answered.  6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Making of a Name

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Dear Lindsey,

Six-year-old Nate spoke from the backseat of the car, with his take-charge voice, “Mom, can we stop at the name-changing place on the way home today?”

Stifling my laughter with my mom-smile, I asked him what he meant. He clarified, “I’d like to change my name, so if we could stop by there, I’ve decided what I want it to be.”

You’ve got to love his choleric style! No apologies for dissing the name that my husband and I painstakingly decided hours after his emergency birth on the hard-wood floor (a whole story in itself!). No sandwiching it with, “I love the gift of the biblical name, but I was considering I might take a new one.” Simply, “Let’s stop by that ‘name-changing place’ so I can do better.”

“What name would you want instead of ‘Nathaniel’?” my curiosity was piqued.

With the sincerity of asking a waitress for salt, he said, “I want to change it to Ronaldo.”

Today, I barely have to describe who Ronaldo is, but in 2006 when this statement occurred, Cristiano Ronaldo was just coming onto the scene of our newly formed soccer-fan eyes. Nate was sure he was worthy of the name.  I hated to shatter his dream. “Sorry, bud. There is no such thing as a name changing place. But if you want that to be your nick-name, you could probably just start using it and see if it sticks.”

We pulled into the IHOP parking lot.

With Chris gone on business, the kids and I enjoyed a morning out. We ordered our food and began some intense coloring on the kid-menu placemats to entertain the 1 and 3-year-olds while we waited. An older woman watched from the adjacent booth. I wondered if she was musing about her own motherhood memories. I wondered if I would ever have time to muse.

She interrupted our coloring.  “What a lovely family,” she said.  My kids sat straight up, basking in her attention. “What are your names?” she asked with a smile.

“Casey,” my oldest, age 9, said with the confidence of the man of the family that morning.

“Steen,” Christine answered in her 3-yr-old lisp.

“mm mm,” JR, less than two, shook his head “no,” unwilling to speak, so I said, “J.R.” for him and removed the two fingers from his mouth where they tended to reside in shyness. She touched his curly hair in admiration before looking anticipatingly at Nate.

He cleared his throat and paused a second. “Ronaldo,” Nate said with a matter-of-fact-announcing tone.

I choked. I didn’t want to explain to her his real name and hurt his feelings; I didn’t want her to see me laughing and think I was making fun of something. So, I smiled what I am sure was a bigger-than-normal smile, a dam holding back the flood of a story.

She repeated the names, as if pensively pausing on each one: “Casey, Christine, J.R. and Ronaldo.”

Could she tell one was different?I wondered and then dismissed the thought.

“It is SUCH a pleasure to meet you. You be good for your mama and enjoy your breakfast. Thank you for talking with me.” She left.

From that moment on, all of his first-grade math papers bore the name, “Ronaldo.” His water bottles were labeled with “R,” instead of “N.” He never corrected any of us family from calling him Nathaniel, but any time he introduced himself to strangers, he confidently let them know his name was the same as his hero of the time, “Ronaldo.”

I don’t really remember how long the “Ronaldo” name thing lasted, but long enough that it still brings a smile.

Fast forward to August 2017, when Nate (age 17) was invited to play with the Generation Adidas team in Madrid, Spain. Because he was going to Europe anyway, a friend thought Nate might be a good fit for a team in France who was willing to take a look, so Nate headed over a few weeks early to play in France. Not knowing a lick of the language didn’t stop Nate any more than not knowing that name-changing places are not on every corner. The international language of soccer sufficed. Whether France or Spain, one word seemed to be spoken when people saw him: “Ronaldo!” Ironically, Nate’s looks (and hopefully soccer playing) remind many of Cristiano Ronaldo. Nate didn’t tell them his “secret name,” haha, it was just said… a lot… to his face and behind his back. He didn’t know French or Spanish, but he knew the name, “Ronaldo,” in every language.

From youth, Nate has spoken of going to play professional soccer in Europe. His entire life has had many early mornings of watching games from faraway time zones.  (I used to think he was going to have a British accent, because he always played with his soccer guys toy, as a British commentator!).

Speaking it into existence, Nate is currently today on his first leg of the journey, the flight to Paris. I suppose that could be a metaphor for his adult life. This “first leg of the journey” will begin in St. Brieuc, France, where he will live and train with the ranks of the soccer club, Stade Briochin.  Our friend, Dario Brose played there during his professional soccer career and thought it would be a great fit for Nate. His crash course in French is underway; his new cleats – including the required soft ground ones – arrived in time for departure; and my eyes are a little blurry while I write. I am excited to see what time will tell as he branches out to “make a name for himself.”

In a letter I hid in his suitcase (maybe he will find it after he reads this blog, haha), I told him that this is truly an answer to prayer. I didn’t pray that he would move thousands of miles away from me. I didn’t even pray that he would have a career in playing the sport he loves. I prayed that God would make him a man after God’s own heart in whatever His ways are. I am excited He chose soccer. I am proud of the man who is going to the other side of the ocean to live what God intended him to live and be who God intended him to be. After all, one day, some little boy somewhere might ask his mom to change his name to Nathaniel…. like the soccer player…and the one in the Bible. 🙂

Love ya,

Terri

John 1:47-48 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said to him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” and Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

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Audiobook Available: Letters to Lindsey

L2L Audio

Hey!

I just wanted to give you a heads up that the Audiobook of Letters to Lindsey is available! Imagine: driving around town, pop in the CD’s, listen, laugh, cry, and don’t wreck!  Though I had fun making the recording by reading aloud the stories of my children as, well, children, (since now they seem so grown up!), the MOST fun was listening to KIDS read the fun kid quotes from the book!

“Why didn’t you have your own kids read the quotes?” someone asked. Well, because my “children” are MEN! and have men’s voices now! My youngest (age 13!) plays the part of the oldest in the readings, but the younger quotes needed some voiceovers!

Here is a snippet of one of the readers, Teylyr Frey, knocking it out of the park by reading a couple “kid quotes” from the book.

I hope you enjoy the book… again –  in audio form!

 

Happy listening,

Terri

 

Family Favorites… Book List

My letter on Summer Reading sparked the idea to ask my kids what their favorite books were that they would recommend to others. Some are their books that they chose at the store with their own money. Others are books they have chosen from our “assigned Summer Reading.” I didn’t edit the list to communicate what I thought was important, but left the lists exactly as they wrote them, to leave the purity of the child’s desire there, instead of inserting this homeschooling mom’s heart. Though the ages listed are their current ages, some of these “favorites” were read in their younger years.

J.R. (age 11):

Christine (age 13)

Nate (age 16)

Casey (age 19)

I asked my kids for permission to use their names (or if they preferred that I leave their list anonymous), and they all said, “yes,” except one, who clarified:

“You have my permission to use my name in conjunction with all of the aforementioned information, along with any other information that may be prevalent to the purpose of the article, under the condition that I am properly referred to and quoted under all standard blog and MLA guidelines and format.”

..just in case you wondered. 🙂

Since my husband, Chris Brady, is an author along with our close friend and business partner, Orrin Woodward, I didn’t want to miss the chance to plug some of their books which would be great for summer reading, or homeschool curriculum or family book discussions. Here are a few of my favorites from our family’s discussions:

I have one last list to mention! I recently came across the reading list for the Torrey Honors Institute within BIOLA University. Any child or adult could benefit from reading this list of books! Check it out here.

Read well to lead well,

Terri

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Summer Reading is Like Underwear

My active four-year-old son decided it was easier to change pants later than use the toilet when it called. I can remember stressing out about it, writing in my prayer journal, and reading books to see what I was doing wrong. I finally came to the realization, that he would figure it out before he started driving a car, (or we wouldn’t give him the keys) so I needed to relax and let him get it right at his own speed!

This same child had issues with material. It all itched, or felt uncomfortable. It was hard to keep him in PJ’s, since he liked the freedom of his birthday suit. (This was strange to me that he didn’t mind wet pants while riding a bike for hours, but hated wearing the “wrong material” shirt to bed.)  Once at a public park, I noticed a little too much “information” poking out the back of his pants, plumber-style, and realized he wasn’t even wearing underwear! Since this had happened more than once that week, I finally said, “Bud!! What is up with the no-underwear thing?! Do you EVER wear underwear?”

“Yes. On Fridays,” he said.

That was his reply. What?! Why?! Who told you that you could do that? And the rest of the “W” questions came to mind, but not one did I ask. I simply explained that we wear underwear. Every day. Including Fridays!

In our house, we wanted reading to be like underwear: a part of every-day-life!
We love to take the summer off of school schedules, but that doesn’t mean the summer off of Summer Reading 1learning.  Summer reading bends well to allowing the freedom of choice: no homeschool curriculum to follow; no test for which to study; simply reading! Chris and I enjoy our summer reading assignments for our kids so much, that we are almost insulted when their teachers (our older kids go to a Christian high school while the younger ones homeschool) assign “summer reading”. We like it when we get to choose topics!

WHY summer reading?

Reasons for summer reading:

  1. Habits made when they are “off school” as children could plant seeds for habits they create when they are “off school” more permanently as adults.
  2. Silently reading during the summer is a time when they are not fighting with each other. (not that my kids would ever do that…)
  3. The content of the books can be targeted specifically per child, not necessarily what Summer Reading 5an entire class or curriculum demands.
  4. Topics they didn’t understand during the year may be expounded upon for better understanding. (OK, I have never done this, but it sounded so good in the list of reasons, I decided to include it anyway.)
  5. Fictional books that would never make the school list make for a fun time reading – which subconsciously improves writing, and increases the pleasure of reading.
  6. Vacation travel time turns into reading time instead of screen time.
  7. It gives moms and dads time to read. 😊 Why not pop some popcorn and sit with books instead of a movie?
  8. Reading looks more fun in a hammock or next to the campfire, than when it is squished between homework assignments at the table, giving it a better light for the future.
  9. One hour/day completes four books in a month of the average adult reader. Three or four books for a summer is doable even if the child has a summer job or wants lots of outdoor playtime.
  10. Sometimes our entire family reads the same book, making for nice conversation at the dinner table when everyone knows the topic. (Like “Gifted Hands” by Ben Carson or “Toughen Up” by Claude Hamilton.)

HOW to do summer reading?

The specifics are not important, because I know you can figure it out for your family, but Summer REading 3in general, Chris picks out a stack of books for each child, and hands it to them before the school year ends. If they are not done with “summer reading” by August 1st, it becomes their priority before they can go outside. (Note: everybody has always been done by August 1st, so we have never had to exercise this.) As usual, screen time would totally take away from reading time, so it is a plus that video games and television are extremely limited in our house, regardless of the season. We do not assign a time or daily reading, or it would turn into feeling like homework. We do not pay them to read or it might turn into a job. We do not make it extremely challenging, or it would feel like the stack is just too huge. It is a combination of pleasure reading with thought-provoking content, but truly all habit-forming, so once they learn to read, they can read to learn anything for the rest of their lives. They of course can also read books we haven’t assigned as “summer reading,” but the idea of assigning three or four is to expand upon what they already know they like.

My dream is that as they grow up and leave the house, they would write home and ask dad what his summer reading assignment would be… but I may just be dreaming.

What to read?

I thought you might ask, so I found pictures of their stacks from a few years ago – and those are shown in the margins above. Come back tomorrow for a letter with a list of their favorites. I even have my own stack going, though mine does not only exist in the summer! A parent’s love [or hate] of reading will be contagious, whether we want it to influence them or not; my example carries further than my words, so my reading stack is almost as important as theirs. Summer Reading 6

In addition to picking art-stories for our little artist and sports biographies for our sports-enthusiasts, we introduce the kids to some sailing stories or historical fiction to increase the breadth of their reading and topics for conversation. Faith-based non-fiction is an important aspect as well. Summer reading can be kind of the catch-all to throw in what we want to make sure they catch before they leave the house as adults. So how long do they have to read? …until they “get” to read. Summer reading is just one more way to remind them that reading is a good thing – and not one from which we need a break.

Happy reading-every-day, including Fridays… and summers!

Terri

(cartoon featured image by Christine Brady)

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Waiting for the Other Shoe

Dear Lindsey

He got in the car and said, “Has anybody seen my other shoe?”  We were on our way to church for our bi-weekly geography class with other homeschoolers.

“You got in the car wearing only one shoe?!” I said, changing my mood from fun Miss Frizzle to Miss Frazzled as we rushed down the road, trying to gain the minutes we had lost by leaving late.

“NO. I was carrying TWO shoes when I go into the car, but now ONE is gone! Christine!” he blamed his sister for not looking hard enough.

Seeing her reading in the front seat, I got her attention: “Christine, if you lost your own shoe, you would appreciate others helping to look. Please look.”

She looked under and around her seat; no black tennis shoe with neon orange laces was found, so she returned to reading.

We got to church. Still no shoe.

We got out of the car and my son slithered over the tops and under the seats, contorting his body to every nook and cranny of the vehicle, but still no shoe.

“Well you will just have to wear your socks to class today. It’s OK – homeschoolers are used to it,” I joked.

As we walked from the parking lot, many of their friends were in the church yard kicking a soccer ball.  Next to the door, there were two Crocs (shoes) waiting for their owner to claim them before re-entering the building.

“Look! One of those soccer kids took off his shoes! You can wear them and see how long it takes him to notice!” I jested – hoping to improve my son’s mood before we got into the building.

That’s when he surprised me the most….

THERE’S MY CROCSI WAS WONDERING WHERE I HAD LEFT THEM!” He ran crocs-at-church and put on the shoes that were sitting outside of the church’s backdoor…. presumably for the past two weeks since our last geography class when we had used that entrance.

I can’t say I have ever gone to a church with shoes on and gone home without them.  I started to ask questions as to how exactly that happened and decided it was best just to laugh, because I was going to anyway!

I asked J.R. if I could share this story on my blog. (I don’t like to publish things that my kids would not want to be shared.) He said, “I guess, if you think it would help someone.” (Ha! So sweet!)

I asked him how he thought it could help someone… or if it was just a story that would make us laugh – which is what the three of us were doing when we saw the Crocs.

He said, “Well you could tell people that sometimes when you think you lost something, God is just saving it for the right time.”

Perfect.

  • When you lose that house you wanted because of someone else’s offer: wait – God might have the perfect one waiting in the perfect timing.
  • When you lose the opportunity to be on that team because you are not big enough:  wait – God might have the perfect team on hold for the perfect time.
  • When you lose that job you thought you would have forever:  just wait – God might have the perfect job (or one you lost before) to offer at the time when you need it most.

Or when you lose your shoe – just know that God might have another complete pair waiting for you to find at just the right place and just the right time.

Feel free to start a comment below with “when you lose” if you have a time when God gave you your other “shoe” at just the perfect time.

Blessings,

Terri (and J.R.)

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

P.S. In case you were wondering: When we arrived home after class, his other shoe was found lying in the foyer where he must have dropped it en route to the car.

found-shoe

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My Mom

Dear Lindsey,

My mother has passed from this life to her new home in heaven.  Though I will miss her, I am grateful she is out of her failing body, out of pain, and in a peace I cannot imagine – such a contrast to the sickness in this world!

As a tribute to Mom, I thought I would tell some of my “Mom” stories.  I originally wrote them in the letter, “Shout Out to Moms,” written for the week of Mother’s Day, 2012.  In that letter, I added a daily “mom” to whom I was “shouting out.” Some were friends, some strangers, and some relatives. I saved my mom for last.

However, just this past spring, Mom called me and said, “I just read that letter you wrote about a shout out to moms! That was so sweet of you to write!” She thought I had just written it! She had never seen my 2012 shout out! That made me laugh, since I had of course sent her the specific link back then, but at 76-years-old, she admittedly was not the most tech-savvy.  In God’s perfect timing, she read the shout out as one of her last readings.

In my parting words to her in hospice this week, I said, “Mom, I love being a mother – and I am sure much of it is because of the mother you were. Thank you.”  She is worthy of a shout out!  Here is the tribute, quoted from “Shout Out to Moms!” published in May, 2012:

Lastly, and of course most importantly to me, I would love to shout about my own mom, Sue Estes. An amazing cook, she defined volunteer work by cooking for 80 children every Wednesday night at the church where I grew up in Carlisle, PA. She knows food is a love language, and she is fluent in it! Famous for her pies, she would make an entire pie for every person who attended our Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Hospitality was her natural gift. I don’t mean the pinky-in-the-air matching place-settings, (which she had!) but I mean the door was open to whoever walked in, and they would feel welcome to live there, anytime. Her freezer and cupboard were full “just in case” someone stopped in “unexpectedly.” She expected it.

Mom and Me

Jesus said, “What you have done for the least of these, my brethren, you have done for me.” My mother served “Jesus” on more than one occasion. Once there was a bad car accident on the highway near our neighborhood. We children heard the collision and ran to the fence to see. My mother followed through with more than rubber-necking. I don’t know if she jumped the fence, or jumped in the car and followed the ambulance, but I do know that the family that was far from home on vacation was hospitalized and released at different times from each other. My mother offered our home to the father and children while they waited for the other children and mother to be released from the hospital. In my memory it was months, but knowing how children’s brains work, I guess it was probably a week that this family “moved in” with us, with bandaged wounds showing, as they awaited the mother’s medical clearance.Mom had a dream to be a nurse, but when she was a teen, she came upon a bad car accident and fainted. Because of the experience, she “chickened out” from nursing school. The dream never faded, even after her courage had. Years later, when my oldest brother graduated from high school (and her youngest of four was in 4th grade), my mom tenaciously picked herself up by the bootstraps and went to college, 45 minutes from home, full time. She graduated from college as an R.N. the same week as her oldest child.

I don’t know if it is possible to identify, much less quantify someone’s greatest trait, but Mom surpasses the world’s standards when it comes to being flexible and conforming to circumstances that change. She has been babysitting for me and ended up voluntarily taking on other people’s kids when their sitter didn’t show up. Once on family vacation, when our car ran off the road on the way back from a remote fishing lake in Canada, embedding in sand and needing a tow truck, she immediately got all of the fish out and started lining them up on the ground to make a photo shoot out of the time we had to kill. What would have been a stressful, bad memory turned into fun. (Although, we did laugh AT her sometimes, I think she knew deep down we enjoyed it.)

In 2008, when I had to make the call to let my parents know I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I really think Mom was in the car before I hung up – ready to make the 1600miles drive to be by my side…for a doctor’s appointment. Wild horses had to hold her back until a few weeks after surgery, when I really needed someone flexible enough to let me try some steps back into life, but take over when I got exhausted.

“Shouting out!” about her kids has never been held back by my mom. She would tell a complete stranger in Walmart or Wendys (the two places I specifically remember witnessing!) all about her children and grandchildren’s accomplishments. She is president of fan clubs for 4 adult-children and 12 grandchildren [and a 2014 great-grandchild] ! I love you, Mom!

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J.R. (at 3-yrs-old) summed it up best when he asked, “Who is God’s mommy?”  I told him God did not have a mommy, and he exasperatedly replied, “Oh, He must be so sad!”

God truly blessed us when He gave us mothers.

In love and thankfulness for Mom,

Terri Brady

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Version 2

Sue Estes 1939 – 2015

Obituary: Estes, Sue

ESTES, Sue — Age 76, of Aurora, CO, entered heaven on August 14, 2015. Sue, also known as “Sudie,” “Mom,” “Grammy,” “Mimi,” and “GG,” will be missed. Her piano-playing reached the hearts of the listeners. Her tenacity led her to finish a college degree (as a Registered Nurse) at age forty-five. She added her own touch to geriatric nursing, in the form of piano playing and homemade pies for the residents of the nursing home where she worked. She will likely be most remembered for the “open door” policy of her home, which always included desserts! Much of Sue’s active adult life was spent in the throes of motherhood and serving at church in Carlisle, PA, before retiring with her husband, moving to Colorado.

Her life will be celebrated with a service, followed by finger food and “Dessert with Sue,” featuring Sue’s recipes on Saturday, October 10th, 2015 at 11am, at 2nd Presbyterian Church, 528 Garland Dr., Carlisle, PA. Black tie attire will not be allowed.

Sue is survived by Ron, her husband of 55 years, and children: Larry D. Estes (& Julie), Timothy R. Estes (& Lori), Terri M. Brady (& Chris) as well as Sue’s brother, Charles (and Mary Jo) and brother-in-law, Edward E. Seitz (of the late June R. (Hodge) Seitz). She is preceded in death by her beloved son, Michael E. Estes (deceased Jan. 2014). She was loved by many, including twelve grandchildren, one great-grandchild and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of the following:

  • Porter Hospice Foundation, (where Sue and family received excellent care following her stroke) 1391 Speer Blvd., Suite 600, Denver, CO 80204 or online at Porter Hospice Donation
  • 2nd Presbyterian Church Kitchen Renovation. Checks to: “2nd Presbyterian Church” 528 Garland Dr, Carlisle, PA 17013. Write “In memory of Sue Estes” on the memo line, or give online at 2nd Presbyterian Church Donations.

Rowena Sue (Hodge) Estes was the youngest of five, born February 15, 1939, the daughter of the late Joseph C. Hodge and Annie P. Hodge. She was a 1957 graduate of Talladega High School, in Talladega, AL and attended University of Montevallo. She married Ronald L. Estes on April 3, 1960 and was a 1984 graduate of Harrisburg Area Community College. Together, they resided in Festus, MO; Penn Hills, PA; Carlisle, PA; Ft. Collins, CO and Aurora, CO until the present.

I Miss When They…

Dear Lindsey,

“Class of 2015.”

That seemed like “Jetsons” time of the future when I first heard that my child would be in the “Class of 2015”. But like the “Party of 1999,” it came and went. My son left for college Monday and we are down to five seats at the dinner table. Sniff. Sniff.

For those of you who had babies in 2015, your child will be somewhere around the class of 2033. I almost named this letter, “To the mothers of the class of 2033.”  Doesn’t that sound SO much in the future?!! It is. But I want to tell you, like so many mothers before me told me, it will be here sooner than you think!

I could pontificate for hours on that alone, but I thought instead I would just throw out some random thoughts about having young kids. I had it listed as “Ten Notes to Young Moms,” but the number kept changing, so I am just leaving it as is: unsolicited advice:

(If you are an “old mother” like me, feel free to attach comments below with your “unsolicited advice to young mothers”!)

  • Be silly. You will miss the silly days! Push the grocery cart and make “Vrooming” sounds while your kids “drive” and almost crash into the lettuce! Make hungry monster sounds while the sock monster gobbles up those little feet, getting them dressed for the day. Have the goose in your pocket (your hand in the shape of a goose’s beak) “goose” them up the stairs when it’s time for PJ’s. Let your little princess do your hair, or your prince carry your suitcase. You may look silly to everybody except the ones who matter. You will be amazed how a little “vrooming” takes away your own stress in life. I miss that!
  • Be happy. Kids’ peace comes from your peace. Our mouths can feed our minds. Make your mouth speak happy thoughts to your mind and to your kids’ minds. It seems like happiness would be easy when surrounded by youth, but alas, the enemy seems to thrive by stealing smiles from moms. Happiness is a choice – Make it!

Video: Excitement of bringing home baby #3 (Christine) and the “toddler buzz” about it!

  • Slow down. Life gets so busy. I know you want them to excel in all areas. I know you want them to be geniuses. I know you want them to play instruments, do sports, become leaders. Don’t sacrifice their childhood on the altar of your goalsetting. There will be time. I promise. There will be time when they are so busy, you will be the one wishing to slow down. Enjoy their youth and allow them to get serious about things when they are the ones driving it. I miss lying in the front yard looking at clouds and pretending they are animals.
  • Blow bubbles. I used to be afraid that some moment would slip by and I would miss my chance to teach something important. I didn’t want to miss a teachable moment. I think my pendulum swung too far. Some moments are meant for just soaking in. Stop and blow bubbles. I miss that.
  • Don’t be so embarrassed; other people love your imperfect kids! When I drove to my friend’s house, whom I hadn’t seen in a year, her toddlers, age 3 and 4 greeted me in the driveway. The older stopped abruptly when I opened my car door, and said in a disgusted tone, “You don’t look like Mr. Brady!”

Oh my! My heart laughed! How I missed having toddlers! I missed the times when they got the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” reversed! I missed their fresh look on old things! Your toddlers (when behaving) do not need an apology! You may be surprised what a blessing they are to those who no longer have toddlers! Let them bless!

  • If you want to relate to your teenagers, relate to your toddlers. Relationships aren’t made overnight, though one night can break them. Out-of-control teens can grow from seeds of out-of-control toddlers. Enemy teens grow from seeds of ignored toddlers. Spend time with them doing what they love.

photo: Casey’s yearbook page this past year:

  • Be eternally focused. It is easy to get mixed up in the exhaustion of daily diapers, meals and activities and forget what really matters. Pray aloud when an ambulance goes by with lights on. Do your kids know you trust God to get through your day? Do they know you are a sinner in need of a Savior? (My kids are still shocked at that one! haha!) Do you show them the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc Gal 5:22) because you love the Lord, or because a purple dinosaur said that they were neat for a family? Ask them often what they are thankful for – and live in a way that shows them how thankful you are.
  • Make “me” time a priority. What you are full of is what comes out if you are squeezed! Like putting your oxygen mask on before attempting to assist your children, be sure you have your “me” time. Without working out, or reading my Bible, I am full of stuff that I wouldn’t want to “squeeze” on anybody! So I have had to make it a priority in my day!
  • Be careful with “me” time. I tread on this lightly, but “me” time is addicting. Some think pedicures are a right; a toddler-less hair appointment is a given; a girls’-night-out is part of some unwritten contract. They are not.

Motherhood is a selfless act of living, and often it means many “me times” are given up for a season, because priorities shift. But don’t grow weary (Gal 6:9-10), the season will pass.

I remember when my second child was two-years-old and we had a gym membership. At home, my husband and I had decided we would be a reading family, and rarely allowed our kids to watch movies or television.  Now with my “me” time, I was enjoying trying to get back into pre-baby shape, spending time daily at the gym, since childcare was “free”. Oh the joy of a one-hour class and the subsequent kid-free shower and blow-dry!! However, the “free childcare” was zombie transformation.  My kids sat like zombies in front of the gym’s television, showing whatever brainless cartoon happened to be on for the hour of my class, while the worker sat behind them, busy on her phone. I quickly realized it wasn’t worth the price of giving up these precious morning hours with my kids. I ended up changing my mid-morning “me” time to make it (super) early morning “me” time at the gym (so kids would be in bed – not brainless in front of the TV), but oh my what a blessing! By the time the kids were ready for their day, I was ready for my kids! And they weren’t cartoon zombies!

  • Love your spouse. Maybe this should have been first on the list, since it comes as the first priority above the kids. Kids feel security when they see security between Mom and Dad. I have heard moms say, “I would jump in front of a speeding bus to save my kids! That’s how much I love them.” I am glad you are willing to let yourself die to save them by jumping in front of a moving vehicle, but you are more likely to be called to “let yourself die” by dying to self in interaction with your husband…to save your kids. Stop being your husband’s opponent. Stop thinking bad thoughts about him. Stop dreaming of a perfect man who doesn’t live in your house. You want to save your kids? Then be sure you are doing your best to save your marriage.* Talk positively about their dad behind his back! Tell them about your real-live superhero! Sit next to him at the table or at church. Don’t let the kids get between you in seating or in life. Have date nights and make it a big deal to the kids that you are going out with their dad! But it shouldn’t take a date night to create a happily-ever-after in the bedroom. Make a great marriage. Their future marriages depend on yours.
  • Tell/Show your kids you love them.  Kids hear “I love you” when you tell others that you love your kids. Talk positively about your kids to others in front of them and behind their backs! I am not saying you should brag, but stop the complaining! If someone compliments them, say, “thank you.” Or “She has been working at that,” or something that encourages your child to continue the good behavior. Resist the urge to block the compliment with negative that will shout louder than the positive, like, “She has good manners for you, but I wish she would treat her brother that way!”  You may think you are being humble, but your kids are taking the chinks in their armor because of your words.
  • Teach them to love and respect parents and siblings. You are raising future spouses. I recently had to stop my ten-year-old, riding on his older brother’s shoulders, from trying to rip his sister’s head off while they were playing “chicken fights” in the pool. “But Mom!” my daughter contested from her perch on her other older brother’s shoulders, “Why did you stop him?! I like it!”

Easy answer: “Because I am raising a future husband, and that is not how he should treat his future wife.”

  • Put your phone down. (and be sure they do too.) I know it is a fight. I fight
    Casey Brady - graduation 2015 (with the cutest photobomb by one of our family friends!)

    Casey Brady – graduation 2015 (with the cutest photobomb by one of our family friends!)

    myself on it. But you will never regret having screens off!

  • Date them. Without distraction. My kids have enjoyed the Mom dates. OK, maybe it was just the donuts they enjoyed, but I like to think they enjoyed the conversation and fun one-on-one games at the donut shop. Intimacy of one-on-one conversation is important to any relationship, but especially when children are in a house full of kids who are usually splitting the mom time! I have heard that kids spell love, “T-I-M-E.” It is amazing how a little one-on-one always improves a toddler’s behavior.
  • Enjoy the season (and know the next season will be great too!) In the words of Dr. Robert Smith Jr, “Don’t waste Chapter 8 because you are too focused on chapter 9.” God planned every season of motherhood with a purpose. Even potty-training! Even colicky babies! My 4th baby was such a cryer; I often worried I would wish his babyhood away, because I was so anxious for the crying to stop. I almost looked so much at “Chapter 9” that I missed out on “Chapter 8” with him – and my other kids.
  • Remember, “This too shall pass.” I remember times when I thought I would never make it through the day, much less through their toddlerhood, or childhood. It seemed like I would never be able to stop the car, and get out without waiting for someone to find the shoe that they had miraculously lost in the 3 minute drive to the store. I thought I would never make it through a meal without cleaning up a spill (or four!), or finish a phone call without having to cut it short because of some escalating calamity. But it is passing all too quickly. Now I beg my kids to go to the store with me. I definitely never imagined THAT when they were young! haha!…

 

I wonder if I could get them all to ride in the cart and say, “vroom!” now??!

Casey at college this past Monday:

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In 2033, you will look back and think, “Wow. It went so fast!” just like all the rest of the “old” mothers. If you look back and say, “I miss when they…,” more than “I wish I had…,”  I think you did it right.

In love,

Terri Brady

  • *  When I talk about “saving your kids by saving your marriage,” my heart breaks for those who are in the midst of the struggle. I feel like it is torturous on so many – especially those who are divorced due to unrepentant infidelity or abuse – my heart and prayers go out to you. May God guide you through and make your kids strong in Him! But for those who are truly just not “dying to self,” and instead battling the things I mention, my statement remains. I pray you have guidance and courage to die to self to save your marriage. God is bigger than the struggle!

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A Very Brady Italy

Dear Lindsey,

After a full year of busyness, we were ready to convalesce as a family!

Of course we could do that in our basement, or at the lake, or at my kids’ favorite campground in Silver Lake Michigan, but we decided to get away – really AWAY – to Italy. (See video scrapbook below.)  We have been to Italy several times, most famously five years ago, when my husband Chris wrote his book, A Month of Italy.  

Thanks to Chris’s vacation advice, on this trip I suppressed my “task-oriented” self. I did not sort emails or work on my lists (despite how I wanted to, since I finally had time!). I didn’t count the calories of the gelato and tried to stop thinking about the stress at home; I enjoyed my family.  My quiet times got deeper. On a true vacation, life can be whittled down to what really matters, to release the stuff that really doesn’t.* As I forced myself away from the daily grind, I was able to think of the long-term-vision that seemed to have taken a backseat to busyness this year. New ideas; new goals; fresh brain! Ahh vacation.

This vacation wasn’t as entertaining as our original month-long vacation, since
the kids are older (now 18, 15, 11 and 10), and we are probably a little more seasoned visitors of the country. However, our oldest leaves for college next week, and we all seemed to cherish every moment as a family of six, knowing we will be having dinners of five too soon.

We had our funny moments:

  • When the woman said in her Italian accent that she was a “ballet” dancer in Florence, and I misunderstood and asked her if she was a “belly” dancer. Bahaha! No judging here!
  • When Chris said in perfect Italian, “Posso …formaggio?” when he noticed our table lacked parmigiano cheese. The kids quickly pointed out that he had actually said “Can I … cheese?” which of course went viral on our vacation as the kids often asked if they could…cheese…in Italian.
  • We listened to Italian songs that Chris had downloaded onto his phone. We couldn’t tell what the words actually meant, but that didn’t stop us from singing along in full volume! It reminded us of a funny commercial when a family is singing along in a different language, not knowing the horrendous words they are saying. So Nate (age 15) was careful to not sing anything inappropriate and instead  sang words that he did know – which were limited to food: “Posso Formaggio! Latte! Manzo! Pasta! Pizza!”  He sang to the tune of whatever song was playing – in full tenor voice like Luciano Pavarotti. (And made me laugh!)
  • We played a card game we had just learned with great friends who came to visit North Carolina in early June. Like golf, the goal is to get the lowest score by getting rid of all of your cards. Hysterically, Casey could not get rid of cards, and while the rest of us were within one hundred points of each other, Casey hung out 300 points behind last place! “Casey, you stink at this!” Chris had said in surprise, since Casey usually seems to have a knack for winning. Chris’s uncharacteristic quote again went viral as the kids enjoyed repeating Dad’s funny statement toward Casey any chance they got, often in the form of a rap song.

We had our amazing moments:

  • Chris took us to Orvieto where we had not been in four years. Without GPS or maps, he drove through the town, right up to the driveway of the villa we had rented (which was no easy task to find four years ago WITH a GPS.) He then took us to a restaurant further up the mountain where we had chingiale (wild boar) sausage and pasta to repeat our order from back then. (OK – maybe that is not “amazing” to you, but I was amazed, since I can hardly get around in my own country without a GPS!)
  • At our favorite villa, Il Trebbio, outside of Cortona where we have visited several times, our rental neighbors turned out to be from Raleigh, NC, and were even taking the same flight arrangement home after their five-week stay. Mondo piccolo. (Small world!)

IMG_8479

We missed our weird moments.

“Nothing weird has happened to us this trip!” Casey (age 18) said on one of the last nights. It was almost sad for us.

  • We didn’t have a motorcycle crash into us after popping our tire with his foot peg when he passed too close to our van in Rome traffic.
  • We didn’t have a 12-passenger mini-bus as our rental car, even though Italians are still shocked that we take four children on trips.
  • No child said, “I forgot my shoes” when we were already an hour into the drive for a day-trip to an ancient city.
  • We didn’t have any other child say, “Me too,” realizing he also had forgotten to put on shoes for the same day-trip.
  • We didn’t have any accidental orders of grappa (which Chris swears is kerosene, but Italians drink it) or pasta al scolio (which was full of octopus and squid, not meatballs like the ordering child had hoped).
  • No scorpions came in through the window at 1am, scaring us into leaving the windows closed for the duration of the week with temperatures in the high 90’s – without air conditioning.
  • No man screamed at us, “Allevamento!” (which means “breeding farm”) into a crowd at the market when he saw we had four children.
  • We didn’t see the dog – which looked like a seeing-eye-dog – wearing a shirt that said, “Womanizer.”

We disconnected in order to be reconnected.

IMG_8502 (3)We rested. We bonded.

We turned off electronics. (Turning off electronics put the “family” back into “family vacation.”)

We played cards. (And all the kids are at a competitive level now.)

We swam. (And kids are big enough that nobody is in massive peril.)

We read…and read and read… (and the kids did too).

We enjoyed early mornings with singing birds and late mornings, catching up on a year’s worth of sleep.

We enjoyed the views from the air-conditioned car, while miles of sunflowers and lavender, wheat and hay passed by our windows. Hundred-year-old cypress trees seemed old until we realized they lined the driveways of six-hundred-year-old estates. Grapes hung down near our outdoor dinner table, while grape leaves brought the welcomed shade on the canopy over our heads. Crops formed their signature squares that make the land of Tuscany so beautiful from its mountaintops.

Glorious vacation.

Family bonding.

Minds at rest.

A heart that has had a good vacation is what makes home feel sweet.  IMG_8676

In gratitude for vacation,

Terri Brady

Video Scrapbook of Bradys in Italy:

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* “Going to the cross reminds me of what really matters, so I can release the stuff that really doesn’t.” – Kimberly Wagner

Chin Ups (Via Humorous Teens)

Dear Lindsey,

As heavy as life can get, I love it when a lighter side keeps my chin up.

While Christine and I were away visiting Mom in a Colorado hospital following her stroke, and Chris was speaking at Life Leadership’s Summer Convention in Wisconsin, the three boys were left at home to their own devices. (“devices” ha! I guess I could intend that pun, since their humor used their phones 🙂 )

Since the older two have a schedule of soccer workouts and work, I decided to have a nanny stay the nights, but she kept her job working days elsewhere.  She was sweet enough to text the boys (age 18 and 15) during the day to be sure everything was ok. (She probably was making sure they were taking care of JR (age 10)  too!)

Here is how the exchange went. {For those of you who are not familiar with this phone screen, the “GROUP” is Casey (age 18), Nate (age 15), and Lydia (the nanny), so they can all see each other’s replies, even though none are in the same location. This is Casey’s phone screen, so his words are the ones in BLUE.}

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I am grateful they have a sense of humor, and especially grateful Lydia does too!

In fun,

Terri

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