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Seeing Disney through the eyes of the grandkids! Amazing!

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I have to admit up-front and honestly that my husband and I are Disney junkies. Living eighteen miles from Disney World and having annual passes, we go to Disney at least twice a week when we are home. As much fun as we have, it doesn’t compare to when we have our young grandsons with us and visit the parks. Above, my husband wanted a picture with the gas pump at Animal Kingdom. Before we were married, he was a gas station attendant at a Standard Oil gas station where gas was sold for (gasp!) .15 a gallon for regular. Now I feel I must be one hundred!

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Whether its Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or Hollywood, it’s just more magical when they are with us. Now I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that it’s more work and costs more money when we take the kiddoes, but it’s just plain fun with them. As grandparents, I think we take it more seriously because we know from the experience with our children, that time passes in a heartbeat, and they will not be this age for very long. I don’t know about any of you, but I find it’s weird that our kids could be getting close to forty, or even past that. They still seem like kids in our eyes. And don’t get me started on passing sixty myself–that’s absolutely ridiculous!

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Even staying in a hotel is more exciting when seeing it from a kid’s point of view. And while I do feel it’s a little cannibalistic to be eating Mickey for breakfast, I’ve learned to deal with it!

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The youngest grandson’s favorite ride is the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride, and the older grandson’s favorite ride is Rocking Roller Coaster. My favorite is still Peter Pan. I can’t explain it, but it’s the one I love best. When the kids come to visit, they’ve learned two things about Florida, it’s hot, it rains a lot, and the humidity can smack you in the face when you step outside, but it still doesn’t stop the fun.

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I know that Grandpa and I both enjoy having the boys visit and we enjoy every moment we spend with them. We don’t have to eat at fancy restaurants to please them. The youngest raved over a hotdog and a cupcake with a gummy worm on top, and the oldest loved the barbecue sandwich at the ESPN restaurant. They are pretty easy to please. I know it’s a thread that runs through a great many of my posts, but I believe it most passionately: every moment of our life, past, present, and future, should be treasured with each breath we take.

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Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing a few of these most special pictures and memories of mine.

Bren

 

Where The Blacktop Ends–why can we admit fear as children, yet not as adults?

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Everyone has their own childhood memories, right? I remember this really scary house where the black-top ended and a spooky woman lived. As a child, I recalled many things that scared me and then sometimes I’d make them up into fictional stories. When I consider this, it occurs to me how easily false memories might be implanted in a child when they’re encouraged to remember things that frightened them. How simple it is to invent stories to explain what makes us afraid. So while the environment in my story surrounds the childhood of my past, the story is fictional and the heroes remain lost in the nostalgia of my childhood. We are courageous as children to admit when we’re scared, but as adults, we’re not quite so brave.   

Where the Black-Top Ends

Hot and sticky, I felt sweat drip between my shoulder blades, the way I imagined blood running down my back would feel. I was six and summers were hotter back then, and time moved so slow, I could hardly tell one day from the next.

I was the youngest of three, my brother thirteen, and my sister eleven. That was the summer I’d turned invisible, because neither my brother nor my sister, nor their friends, acknowledged my existence. Blistering hot tarmac led to the old house where the pavement ended and a dirt driveway curved around. Fir trees moaned when the dry, dusty wind blew and grasshoppers screeched.

The house, dirty, dull gray with the front porch leaning inward, looked as though it would collapse with the slightest breeze. The jagged front steps looked like broken teeth. Mrs. Ivers lived with her son in the house where the black-top ended. She’d cut off your head as soon as look at you, at least that’s the story my brother and sister told.

One scorching day, the leader in our neighborhood, double-dared my brother to ride onto her property. I knew by the way his deep blue eyes got buggy, my brother was scared. He ran his hand through his hair, but with so much Brillcream, he couldn’t mess it up if  he tried.

When my brother hesitated, his friend raised his eyebrows and said one word in a voice that challenged. “Scared?”

Without a word, my brother jumped on his bike and started pedaling, flying around Mrs. Iver’s horseshoe-shaped drive, raising clouds of dust so thick no one could see a thing; only a nasal voice could be heard, screaming for him to get off the property.

My brother returned and the kids slapped him on the back like he’d just won the big game. We all felt safe on the black-top. The group scattered, leaving me alone. I was so much younger than the rest, what if I stayed invisible forever? Heading to our backyard, I noticed my brother and sister’s bicycles, leaning drunkenly against the cottonwood tree.

I had to do something, that, not only my brother and sister, but the whole group would respect, so I climbed on my sister’s blue bike, finding it too clunky. Instead, I hopped onto my brother’s sleek black and silver chrome bike.

I pedaled to the end of the black-top and plowed onto the dirt part of the horseshoe drive, crashing hard on the ground. My brother’s bike landed on top of me. I tried to squirm out from under it, but my sock stuck in the chain, while blood streamed down my leg. My vocal cords froze when I saw the red-haired giant towering over me.

He lifted the crazily bent bicycle off me, tearing my pink sock. Scooping me up in his arms, the giant carried me up the front porch, and, using his bony shoulder, shoved open the torn screen. He took me inside and placed me on a fake leather recliner and left without a word.

I looked around and saw one wall full of holes, leaving the Sheetrock looking raw in its nakedness. Any fool knew snakes must be in those holes. A pinch of fear knotted my stomach, and I prayed the snakes wouldn’t come out.

The red-haired giant came back carrying a striped washcloth and a tube of ointment. His overalls were faded like his blue eyes, and he wore a denim shirt with sleeves rolled up. His arms were long and stringy, ghostly pale, except for the blue veins that bulged like thin ropes. His red hair stuck up in all directions and he was so old—at least over thirty.

He washed my ankle and smeared ointment on my cuts with a surprising gentleness. The strange noises he made sounded like his voice must be rusty. I nodded, pretending to understand him. He left me again.

I knew when he’d returned by the creak of his boots, even before he stepped into the room. I took courage in the fact that I wasn’t dead yet and might eventually get home. He motioned to me. I leapt up from the recliner and followed him into the kitchen.

I sat at the gray Formica table, and he set a plate filled with celery stuffed with peanut butter and a tall glass of strawberry Quick in front of me. In spite of everything, my stomach rumbled and I smiled gratefully before taking a piece of celery and stuffing it in my mouth  A lop-sided grin slashed across his face as he watched me eat.

My dirty blond pony-tail was more cock-eyed than usual, and my white shirt had slipped down my shoulders. With one crooked finger, he stroked the curve of my neck all the way to my shoulder blade. Goose bumps danced along my arms. I tugged at my blouse and pulled it up higher on my shoulders. As I slurped my Quick, I heard dragging footsteps cross the living room floor. Mrs. Ivers stormed into the kitchen.

Built close to the ground, she was nearly as wide as she was tall. I realized where my giant had gotten his crazy hair, because her iron-gray strands poked out every which way. Her wrinkles made spidery wrinkles of their own, while the space between her front teeth caused a whistling sound when she yelled. Her voice filled the entire kitchen.

“Do you want to go back to jail? Remember what happened last time you brought a little girl into this house?”

“I’m sorry, Mama. What’ll we do?” he asked in a creaky, nasal voice.

She grabbed my arm. When I looked down, it seemed strange to see her wormy white hand with the blue veins pinching my sun-browned arm. She dragged me into the bedroom and tossed me onto the bed.

The red-haired giant followed.  He gave me a vacant smile before his mother’s hand flattened across his mouth. I ducked as though the slap was meant for me.

“Why did you do that?” he whined. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.

“What did I do to deserve a son like you? I’ll go find some rope.”

He peeled off my other pink sock and stroked my toes. I noticed the pink polish my sister had put on for me was chipped and peeling. I curled up my toes to protect them, even if I couldn’t protect myself. I didn’t want to die. I hadn’t learned all my math facts yet. I wondered if my brother and sister would be glad they didn’t have to play with me anymore.

The giant’s breath was fast and ragged, and there was an oily shine to his face. It reminded me of my brother’s hair greased up. The giant placed his long, thin fingers on my shoulders, leaving me sick and scared.

The floorboards groaned and I knew the old lady was returning. She stood in the archway of the dim bedroom with four thick ropes slung over her fat arm. “Kyle, stop!” she shouted at the giant.

“I wasn’t doing nothing, Mama.”

“We’ve got to get rid of her, or you go back to jail.”

“Yes, Mama.”  He reached on top of an old wardrobe and brought down a sharp knife that glittered like a silver dollar.

Hypnotized by his long, stringy arms and the hand gripping the knife, I stared at him, so close, I smelled his sour breath. The blade arced toward my throat in slow motion.

A sharp rapping and rattling of the screen door reached my ears. “Mrs. Ivers, have you seen my kid sister?” my brother shouted.

The red-haired giant remained with the knife hanging in mid-air. I screamed, “Help me!”

The screen door banged open, pounding footsteps raced across the living room and down the hallway. My brother and my sister ducked past Mrs. Ivers when they spotted me on the bed. She and her son seemed rooted to the spot.

My brother yelled, “Let’s go, now!”

I jumped up and kicked the giant in his private parts before flying toward my brother and sister. The giant doubled over and let out a yelp, while his mother lumbered over to him. She shrieked at us.

Sandwiched between my brother and sister, I flew out the ragged screen door and dashed down the dirt driveway, until we reached where the black-top ended. As we paused to catch our breath, I felt my brother and sister’s love wrap around me. I knew they would keep me safe.

Years later, I returned to the old neighborhood and walked down the driveway and stood where the black-top ended. The saggy-bottomed gray house no longer existed. The pines were gone. It was hotter back then in the summer and the days lasted almost forever—but not anymore. Sometimes, I’m still scared of where the black-top ends, and I wish I had my brother and sister beside me once more.

The End

Thanks for stopping by to where the blacktop ends! And don’t worry if you still shut the closet door completely before you go to sleep at night, so do I. It’s okay to be scared sometimes, even if we are adults.

Bren

 

 

Educating our children is the most important thing we can do!

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These were my beloved ‘kids’ all dressed up for their kindergarten graduation. When I taught at New Jerusalem in California, we had a complete graduation with caps and diplomas, and the kids sang nursery rhymes, which morphed into a Mother Goose dramatic production over the years. I would run into kids who were in high school, who would tell me, ‘I remember when I was the cat who played the fiddle. It was amazing the way they remembered those experiences. And I would argue that those experiences were every bit as important as their ‘test scores.’

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I loved teaching those little children and there was nothing more joyful than when they expressed wonder and mastery of the subject I was teaching them. It seems like classrooms have a certain feel no matter where you go. I have been out of the teaching profession for six years now, and sadly, I fear it seems much longer because of the enormous changes that have taken place. I remember one of the ‘buzz’ words when I was teaching was ‘realia.’ You taught the children by giving them real experiences. Somehow, it made a lot of sense, but now it seems to have been replaced with ‘testology.’

 

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We taught the children themes through the holidays, but now I believe holidays are not considered ‘politically correct’ whatever that means. I remember I retired relatively early because I didn’t like the direction the school system was headed. I had to ‘teach’ my kindergartners how to read and write and do math. While this was fine for those who were developmentally ready, for some, it was like putting a green banana in the oven and hoping it would ripen. I always felt Gesell, Erickson, and Piaget, child developmentalists from the seventies, were turning in their graves when I tried to force subjects on my kids that they weren’t ready for.

I had to test them, which was very traumatic for them. When they asked me questions, I told them I couldn’t help them. They didn’t understand that concept because I was their teacher and that was what I was there for, which pretty much made sense to me. I just hope that the educational system will put the teaching back into the hands of teachers who are trained to ‘teach’ and take it away from politicians who are trained to–well I’m not quite sure what some of them are trained to do! We could all fill in the blank like good students, I guess.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Bren

 

Have a great Fourth of July, and take a little time out to pray for our country!

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I remember our Fourth of Julys’ used to be family picnics with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins getting together, lots of great food, always with corn-on-the-cob, fried chicken, and watermelon for dessert! If we got home in time, my dad would drive us out to the Tracy Airport and we’d sit on the hood of our car and watch the fireworks, along with a whole lot of other Tracyites. Now, the families are scattered and we all celebrate the Fourth in whatever way we see best.

In spite of all the nostalgia I feel for celebrations of the Fourth in times past, sometimes I feel greater concern that even as our American families fragment, so goes our country. Although Americans have always had strong differences of opinions when it comes to politics, whether a person was Democrat or Republican didn’t matter nearly so much as everyone doing whatever was best for our country.

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Our country is still a great place to live, and I hope that everyone has a wonderful, safe holiday with friends and family. But perhaps we should take some time this weekend to pray for all those people who are suffering from the effects of military conflict throughout the world. I believe we should pray for our leaders to make the right decisions in how to best help alleviate the strife in warring countries. Our world has grown much smaller, even as our political issues have grown much larger, and the US and the rest of the world cannot afford to ignore all the civil strife taking place throughout the world.

This Fourth of July, I believe it’s important for us to be thankful for living in the USA and grateful for all our blessings, but we should also take time to pray for the peace of the world and to pray for discernment for the world leaders in all countries.

Thanks for stopping by and happy Fourth of July!

Bren

 

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