Heartfelt Thanks from a Goose

As 2011 winds down, like sands through an hourglass, such are the days of our lives. Mother Goose would like to take some time today to express my sincere and humble thanks to all my wonderful readers. This was my first “real” year of blogging — I didn’t quite expect that anyone would read what I was writing much less subscribe to my stories! How nice — to be a writer with a following is a grand feeling! I’m grateful for all of your comments and words of encouragement this past year. Glad that I could make you laugh as we dissected those nursery rhymes or perhaps I brought you to tears as you recognized yourself in the person of Little Wife. Maybe you simply enjoyed the everyday ordinaries that make up my life and yours as well. Maybe you were just here to look at my borrowed pictures, and that’s OK too.

My blog went from one view per day in March (my dear sissy!) to an average of nearly fifty views per day through November and December! I’m not much into numbers or math, but that sounds like a celebration to this goose!

Thanks for the good times, 2011

So onward and upward in 2012 — hoping to post a new story everyday and I have some great ideas already rolling around in my feathered head.

May God bless your New Year with health, happiness and HOPE! All the best from Mother Goose to you!

Mother Goose Takes a Little Spill

Fall la la la la… Mother Goose wiped out this morning on her daily walk. It was a chilly and damp morning, but with so much golden sunshine in the air, Mother Goose felt the call of the wild and headed out. Now some of the readers of Mother Goose know that she is in real-live training for her first 5K race. I’ve registered and paid big bucks to participate in the Race that’s Good for Life which will happen right here in friendly Oak Park on April 1st, 2012. Some of the readers of Mother Goose may think that this is an April Fool’s joke just waiting to happen, but I assure you this is all true and as real as the huge bruise on my left arm.

A goose running a 5K? YES!

Back to my little story…

I dressed for my role as an athlete with my new Adidas running shoes, my baggy sweat pants and T-shirt sans a bra, one hoodie, one red scarf, one sporty over-jacket, one headband and two mitten/gloves (the kind where you can stick your fingers out if they get overheated). And out the door I went and down the block. And then back inside to fetch my phone and camera. And then out the door and down the block again. I noticed immediately that there were patches of black ice on the sidewalk. But practical goose that I am, I stuck to the sunny side of the street where most of the ice had melted into shallow little puddles.

A typical 5K race is actually 3.3 miles long — which is good to know if you’re not from Canada or the United Kingdom or anywhere else in the world where the metric system is normal. Here in the U.S.A., very few things are labeled with “k” as in kilometers so we all have to do that complicated conversion formula that we all memorized in school. Or else google it. Which I did.

I have learned over the past few weeks of training that I can walk 2.5 miles in about 50 minutes. So I started out this morning with the goal of walking 60 minutes which must be about 3.3 miles or a 5K or something close. I chose my route carefully. I chose my steps even more carefully as there was still patchy black ice here and there on the sidewalk where the shadows were falling. Little did I know that before the hour was up, the shadows would fall on me.

Because I am in training, I walk very quickly and very determinedly and very happily. I look to the left and right only when I cross the street — I am focused as only a trained goose can be. I smile, but it is a very private smile. I say “hi” to people whom I meet on the route, but I do not stop to visit with them. I do say “hi pup” to their dogs if they are walking one. Mostly my walks are very serious business.

Once in awhile, Mother Goose breaks into a full out run. And yes, I did run this morning — only for a block or so — and then I’d slow back down. This morning, as I was doing a major sprint down the sidewalk, I met a man walking two dogs. “How about that ice this morning,” I called out merrily. He vaguely agreed as I kept running down the sidewalk.

A nice place to rest.

I met my halfway spot on my route and sat down on a park bench to rest for 60 seconds, and then up and away I marched off. I found that I was walking slightly slower so I took out my camera to take some pictures of the pretty homes along my route — just to pass the time and catch my breath. All the while, of course, very mindful of black ice all around me on the sidewalks.

One of Frank Lloyd Wright's beautiful designs

Oak Park is a charming old village. Many of the homes have historic register plaques and published histories. Many of the original charming slate sidewalks remain intact amongst the modern concrete sections. Mother Goose was pondering all of this as she strolled by a certain mansion. Let’s listen to her thoughts:

“What a lovely morning! The sky is sure blue today. Oh look at this pretty home with the black wrought iron fence and gated driveway. I wonder what the password is for their locked gate. Oh I see they have a slate sidewalk. I wonder if some residents get sued for not sprinkling salt on their sidewalks when it’s icy outside. What if somebody fell down and got hurt? I should be so careful so I don’ —–”

And down went Mother Goose! In slow motion, of course! Let’s listen in again to the thoughts of Mother Goose:

“Oh no, will I hit my head? Will I break any bones? Will I be able to get back up to finish my walk? I hope nobody is watching me. I wonder if my sister is working today?”

And there I lay. I hit the ground with my left elbow and the momentum of the fall rolled me onto my back. I quickly did a body inventory as I looked up into the blue blue sky, and decided that I could try to move. So that meant that I wasn’t knocked out anyway. Gingerly, Mother Goose got to her hands and knees and then with a tender upward lift, got to her feet. “Ow,” I said quietly to myself. “Ow….ow.” And holding my left elbow in my right hand, I took a step forward, and then another. A car drove by but they didn’t stop to ask about me so they probably didn’t see my tumble. They didn’t ask for my autograph either — they didn’t honk, but I was honking to myself all the rest of the way home.

And so, Mother Goose learned a little lesson this morning. Training for a 5K race is a really good thing, but I need to practice my falling technique at home so that I look good when I go down in public. Honk honk accidents happen! Fall la la la la la…

Honk Honk! The Hazards of the Holidays

Mother Goose is constantly amazed at how dangerous Christmas and other holidays can be. Let me just quickly share with you a few of the injuries and accidents that our family has encountered this past week.

1. Paper cuts from the wrapping paper.

2. Inflamed vocal chords from singing Christmas carols too zealously.

3. Strained arm and leg muscles from playing competitive sports games (such as Kinect on our Xbox 360).

4. Hot oil burns from rushing through the process frying up the stew meat too swiftly.

5. And finally, a broken molar for Mr. Mother Goose from eating a giant stale Tootsie Roll from Cracker Barrel.

Beeee careful, ever soooo careful.

None of the injuries required immediate medical attention except for the last one. Mark visited with his friendly neighborhood dentist this morning, and left the office of the dentist MINUS one old molar. He has enough pain pills for an army, and enough packing gauze to build ten maxi pads if we need them.

Mother Goose will be busy for the next day or two massaging his swollen gums and applying ice packs to his squirrel cheeks. I will also be tending to the other people who have been injured over the holidays. Please think of us when you’re munching hard caramels and carrot sticks and holiday popcorn. We’ll be here feeling sorry for ourselves.

Merry Christmas from Mother Goose

The home of Mother Goose has just been a flurry of feathery activity these past few days as we prepare for our Christmas celebration. You can imagine, I’m sure, the excitement of this Christmas — the sailor sons of Mother Goose have returned home to join us for nearly two weeks, all the other children are on their Christmas break from school. There’s gift buying galore, lavish gift-wrapping parties, cookie exchanges and homemade eggnog with all the friendly neighbors, school and church programs, handmade tree decorations, and Christmas light tours through our village.

Merry and bright...

Well, actually, some of that last paragraph was a bit of an exaggeration…. Mother Goose baked only one batch of cookies this year, I wrapped presents all by myself, didn’t make any tree decorations at all and we buy our eggnog already prepared. But wouldn’t that have been the ultimate Christmas preparations!

Ho Ho Homer

But what’s the reason for all the fuss anyway?

In our family, Christmas is the time to remember the love of God. He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to earth to live as we do (except that He was perfect and never sinned at all) and to ultimately pay the price for our sins by dying on the cross (which is what Easter is all about).

I was thinking about how much of the original Christmas story is still a part of our celebrations.

There were shepherds who came to visit the holy family with their new Baby. Going to visit family and friends is still important around the holidays — the family of Mother Goose is driving to see our kind and loving relatives in Huntley this afternoon. I’ve been visiting with several friends over the past couple weeks. It’s just a natural time to gather!

Of course, there’s gift giving — a traditional custom that has gotten severely out of control, but we still have fun opening all those presents, don’t’ we? The wise men who visited Jesus and Mary and Joseph had lots of presents loaded on their camels — gold, frankincense, myrrh are not easily purchased at Walmart these days, but our gifts are still given with love.

And the angels were singing Christmas carols in the night sky. Maybe tonight if you step outside, you’ll hear them too.

At this time of the year, we are seriously reminded to care for the poor. We are overwhelmed with appeals for helping various charities. The bell ringers stand in the cold blessing each and everyone of us who drops some coins into their kettles. The original Christmas family were quite poor — practically homeless at the time of Jesus’ birth. Imagine the conditions of giving birth in a stable or a cave as some people have reasoned… Mother Goose has given birth many many times but never in such poor circumstances.

Nativity and a sweet snowman

When Mary and Joseph found out two thousand years ago that they were going to have a baby even though they hadn’t gotten married yet, they were puzzled about the situation but they believed the word of the angel Gabriel who gave them the news. Much of our Christmas time is based on faith as well — we just have to believe that everything will turn out alright.

In our family this year, we have had some confusion about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day plans. We have several complications with ex’s and ex-in-laws — it can be quite painful for Mother Goose to work through these conflicts and I won’t go into all of that right now.

My point is this: sometimes with all the shopping and wrapping and plans and alternate plans, we can feel like Christmas is nothing but a great big pain in the neck and we just can’t wait to get it over with. But Mother Goose asks you a huge favor this Christmas: BELIEVE that God loves you, and that everything’s gonna be OK. In the chaos, in the joy… in the craziness and perhaps in the sadness that you’re going through, God knows all about it and He’s with you. He’s on your side. He’s going through it all with you. His name is Emmanuel which means God is with us. It’s gonna be a Merry Christmas because of that.

Blessings abundant to you and your family from Mother Goose and the whole family! Merry Christmas!

A Friend of the Goose takes GREAT photos

Mother Goose had such a busy birthday! I have found as the years stack up that it takes days to recover from birthdays — why is that? I did not overindulge in the luscious fruit of the vine, nor did I partake in any contests that involved shots of agave fruit juice. I merely OVER did it. So easy to do when you’re a goose…

Here I am with my birthday fireball which was Red Velvet Bundt.

Please excuse my unfolded laundry....

Oh it was so tasty, but I only had one piece — certainly would never get involved in the sin of gluttony on my birthday. I had but one slider from White Castle and two pieces of pizza from Piece. We went to the new Sherlock Holmes movie, and I had several twizzlers, but hardly any popcorn. And I actually fell asleep watching Robert Downey Jr. which is not like Mother Goose AT ALL…

But the happiest part of my birthday celebration was my presents, of course! I received a hair dryer and a round brush and some hair ties! I received a lavender scented candle and a Christmas snow globe! I received the six DVD special edition set of Planet Earth. I received a gift card to The Great Frame Up. I received two HUGE bouquets of gorgeous flowers. And the most exciting gift of all, the opportunity to pick out a print from our favorite photographer, Eric Kleinberg!

If you haven’t seen Eric’s work, please rush over here and see it as soon as possible. He’s a gracious fellow with an amazing eye — I think you’ll be hooked on his photos as quickly as I was. Just when I think I know which photo I’d like to have printed and framed, I find another one that I like even better. It’s so hard to choose! Do I want a people pic? A nature pic? A food pic? Something thought-provoking or something that makes me laugh? I’ve gone back and forth on a couple of great shots — still haven’t made up my mind.


Or this?

Decisions, decisions…. But this will be a fun decision to make — as in “win, win”.

I hope your days are merry and bright! Blessings abundant from Mother Goose!

The Birth of a Goose

Some people may think that Mother Goose hatched out of an egg. Well, today is the birthday of Mother Goose, and I will tell you the true story of how it happened so long, long ago…

It was the coldest winter on record, December of 1958, in Hackensack, Minnesota. At night, the temperatures were dropping down to -30 degrees F. Knowing that the car might not start when it was time to go to the hospital and knowing that I could arrive at any time, my dad would bring his car battery into the house at night so that it wouldn’t freeze up. They had been expecting me to be delivered around Thanksgiving time, but two weeks had gone by before I decided it was time for my grand appearance.

Baby, it's cold outside.

Dad hooked up the car battery, and helped Mom into the car. It was a forty-eight mile trip from Hackensack to the hospital in Brainerd. The roads were ice-covered and slippery, and they had to drive slowly. I’m guessing that Mom may have been a little impatient with Dad on that long drive…but eventually they arrived at the maternity ward.

Greetings from St. Joseph's Hospital in Brainerd, Minnesota

Mom got checked into her room, and it was not a pretty hotel room like they have today in the mother – baby centers of our modern hospitals. It had metal beds and no soothing music, no pretty pictures on the wall. Of course, there was no sound proofing between rooms, so whilst my mother was going through her thirty-something hours of labor, she also had to endure the screams and howls and threats and yodels and cursing of other women going through their own labor ordeals. She had no contact with Dad (which maybe was a good thing…), no breathing exercises to help her work through the waves of pain, no soft-spoken midwife at her side. Just Nurse Ratchet and a bevy of nurses popping in every hour or so to check her progress.

"Are you ready to deliver that baby yet?"

Of course, in 1958 fathers were not welcomed into the labor and delivery rooms — imagine all those chain-smoking expectant dads sitting around waiting for the good news about what kind of a baby their wives had delivered. Imagine my dad’s surprise when the doctor came out, shook his hand and congratulated him on the birth of his baby goose.

Standard operating procedure in those days involved an extended stay at the hospital for both the new mother and the new baby. So Mom and I were guests at the hospital for seven days, and then Dad came and got us.

I’m sure that I was a handful of joy — just a pure bundle of fun for Mom and Dad. I was their first baby. Of course, I was colicky. Of course, I had diaper rash all over my body. Of course, I wasn’t breast-fed because that was considered “savage, if not downright animalistic” so Mom had to be making her own formula daily. And after I was a couple weeks old, she added pablum to my diet because I was such a hungry goose.

In fact at tender age of six weeks, I’ve been told that I looked like a six-month old child. Perhaps the formula and pablum were mixed a little too richly? Perhaps geese grow more quickly than regular people? Perhaps it was my generous feather and down covering which made me appear quite round and plump?

Mother Goose would like to thank Mom and Dad for making me, for delivering me into this world, for feeding me and changing all my cloth diapers and for raising me to believe that fairy tales and nursery rhymes do come true.

Happy Birthday to me! and a day of blessings to you!

And the Winner Is….

When Mother Goose isn’t writing funny stories, she works as a Social Media Strategist at a growing company named Beyond Big Marketing. And I’m proud to say that this is the company owned and operated by Mr. Mother Goose. (Most people know him as Mark…) His company used to be called Big Black Pencil, but he decided to change the name when he found that his clients were taking him in a new direction — more web-based marketing and less print-based marketing. He is very good at what he does and has a strategy for every occasion. Mother Goose is honking with pride at how well Beyond Big Marketing is doing.

So we decided to open a new Facebook page for Beyond Big Marketing — to invite all of our friends and really spread the word about the new business of Mr. Mother Goose. And we also decided to make the facebook page fun for all the followers by having a Christmas Trivia contest with daily winners and ending with a Grand Prize drawing of all the people who participated in the contest.

Well, today was the day of the drawing. The eldest daughter of Mother Goose is very social media savvy — she strongly suggested that Mother Goose make a video of the event. Mother Goose is well-aware of her lack of video talent — the camera and I have never been friends. I was the person in the college video class who just stared at the camera with the sheep in the headlights look.

So cute, so blank.

But after some consideration, Mother Goose decided to risk everything and make the video. And the rest is history.

Mother Goose Gets a New Friend

Happy Birthday to Miss Benny Kiruba! Benny is my new sponsored child in India, and today she turns SEVEN years old. I am very happy for her and wish I could give her a big birthday hug in person. Look at how sweet she is!

Happy happy Birthday Benny

Mother Goose has been a child sponsor with Compassion Int’l for more than ten years, and it has been a true blessing. My first child in the program was Annet Kagoya, my daughter in Uganda who recently finished her studies as a nursing aide, found work in a pharmacy and then lo! and behold! became a momma to a little fellow. I got a letter from her last week, probably my last since she is now out of the child sponsorship program, and she expressed her gratitude to me for supporting her over these many years. It sounds like she is doing well — Annet and her baby boy. And does this make Mother Goose a granny?

I also sponsored a little fellow in northern India for awhile, but he had to drop out of the Compassion program and go to work in the tea fields near his home. It made me sad to think of a child only nine years old having to pick tea leaves instead of going to school and learning about Jesus.

So now my heart sails around the world to the southern tip of India to a little girl who lives with her mother who is employed as a laborer. Her father passed away due to jaundice. She likes to play hide and seek with her friends — she likes to draw pictures, and she’s in second grade, just a little younger than my dear AnnaRose.

I’m just honking with delight to have a new little girl in my life, and I’ll be praying for her. I hope that in years to come, she will grow into a fine young woman who loves and knows that she is a precious person in God’s world. Here’s what Compassion Int’l says about that: “Children in poverty are susceptible to believing its darkest message, that they don’t matter.” It is my hope that Miss Benny Kiruba hears the true message today that she is loved and so very valuable.

Be blessed today with your friends.

Walking with a Goose

Mother Goose has recently begun a new discipline of recreational walking. It’s fun. It’s relaxing. It’s exercise. And it’s very interesting. The goal of the goose is to walk for at least fifty minutes each day. I try to walk with enthusiasm. I do not walk like this, however…

A good solid energetic walk for Mother Goose brings her around Oak Park to some very interesting places. Here’s our local fire department. They came rushing to our home the day AnnaRose accidentally ate peanut butter cookies and had a prophylactic reaction. We are grateful to live close to the first responders and paramedics.

The next stop is our local branch of the public library, the Dole Learning Center. It was originally a church, then it morphed into a junior college and now a quaint, small library just two blocks from our home. Often Mother Goose stops here to use their pretty restroom, because having walked two blocks, it’s usually time for Mother Goose to “go”.

Isn’t it pretty with those grand windows and all the sunlight beaming in?

Anyway, back to my enthusiastic and energetic walk… I walk by the home of Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the classic tale, Tarzan the Ape Man. Edgar lived here from 1914 – 1920, but unfortunately I don’t have a picture of his house. You’ll just have to trust the goose on this one.

On and on I go through the village. Walking as quickly as I can — to burn those pesky calories and getting my heart rate up to about 400 takes a lot of enthusiasm. Here’s another famous author’s house:

That’s where Ernest Hemingway was born, but they didn’t know he was going to be a famous author so they moved out of town when he got a little bigger.

It wouldn’t be a decent walk through the neighborhoods unless Mother Goose passed by the home and studio of famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. He originated the Prairie Style of architecture, and they have a public restroom which is very important to Mother Goose.

Walking has become a sort of romance for Mother Goose. I can use this time alone to daydream about life in days gone by. I ponder mysteries of life. I plan stories to tell my dear readers. I make promises to myself. I even imagine that my walking will turn to running soon, and I will register to participate in 5k races in the spring. Imagine Mother Goose in a running outfit with a number on my back and racing shoes on my big webbed feet! It’s a funny thought, isn’t it?

Here’s a home that I walk by every single time that I’m out walking energetically. It’s Mamah’s house.

Mamah was the “scarlet woman” of Frank Lloyd Wright’s life. He was married to Elizabeth and they had a passle of children. Mamah was married to Edwin and they had a couple of kids. They were all friends, and Mamah’s husband, Edwin, asked Frank to design and build a home for him and his family. Well, lo and behold, the architect and Mamah fell in love and became the scandal of Oak Park. It’s a beautifully tragic story which has been published by Random House, and you can read more about it here.

Mother Goose turns a couple more corners and then hits the homestretch which has a dazzling and descending sidewalk which is just what Mother Goose needs at this point in her brisk walk. She checks her watch — fifty minutes have flown by. According to reliable sources (the father of Mother Goose actually!), that’s almost a two-mile hike! Hip hip hooray for Mother Goose! And then she collapses in her chair… But she’ll be back on the walking tour tomorrow!!

Be blessed today wherever the road takes you!

To Befriend a Goose

Mother Goose has many dear friends. Yesterday I enjoyed a three-hour Starbucks break with my precious friend, Linda. We hogged up the whole front half of the coffee shop! We each had a softie chair to sit in, plus one of the leather hassocks to park our stuff, plus a little table to set our teas and snackies. And Linda’s leg.

Keepin' it elevated.

And here’s a close-up of her sweet holiday-ish cast!

I bet it tastes pepperminty too.

Linda recently had some orthopedic surgery done on her ankle and heel to correct some shortened ligaments and anatomical components of her left foot. She’s spending the holidays on crutches — yes, she’s Christmas shopping, decorating, entertaining, attending holiday school concerts and helping her mother who just moved her from Florida and is settling into a new home near Linda.

Linda is simply amazing! Mother Goose is inspired by her boundless energy and her gift of listening. Linda doesn’t just listen…she HEARS. She always knows the right gift to buy or make for me because she is always hearing my heart. Here’s what she gave me yesterday:

It's so nautical.

And all because she heard Mother Goose bewail the desire to have a mug or teacup that would symbolize ocean adventures. (Of course, you know that Mother Goose has two sons in the U.S. Navy.) So when she saw this sweet set in the Old Durham Road catalog, she knew Mother Goose would jump for joy to receive such a gift. That’s just the way Linda is! Mother Goose is not as intuitive as Linda is — I am usually squawking about something totally irrelevant and miss the punchline of every conversation…

So we laughed and visited for three hours as good friends often do at Starbucks. But I must pass on two very good ideas that Linda shared with me yesterday. Both are in the category of “Blessing Others”.

First Idea. Linda attended the birthday party of a friend who was turning 50. (Mother Goose is way beyond 50, and has already celebrated that day which shall go down in infamy…) Her friend, Cindy, used this momentous occasion to remember and honor twelve of her friends. She made sweet photo packets of her and each friend through the years as well as writing wonderful thank you letters to each of them. What a thoughtful woman she must be! Instead of hogging all the glory of turning 50 (which is what Mother Goose did…), she turned it around and shared love and honor with twelve of her closest friends. I just think that’s such a GREAT idea.

Second Idea. Wedding tradition has the bride tossing her bouquet out into the audience of young UNMARRIED maidens. The crowd of enthusiastic potential “next brides” jump and push and shove to grab the lucky bouquet. Here’s an idea that Linda heard about from another friend: the bride hands the bouquet to the woman at the wedding who has been married the longest. Isn’t that a wonderful idea too? How perfect to honor a woman who has set an example of marital longevity by gifting her with pretty flowers, the bride’s symbol of hope and beauty forever. I just love that!

Our three hour visit seemed to fly by so quickly. We said our goodbyes and promised to gather onto ourselves again soon for more Christmas cheer. As I drove down the road, I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world I ever found such a great friend. Thanks Linda for befriending this old goose!

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December 2011