An Adoptee’s Voice 54 Years Later

(Shared by Susan-a follower from Florida)
Half-a-million adult adoptees were seeking or had found their birth families according to a late 1980’s survey. (Groza and Rosenberg, 1998). In a study of American adolescents, the Search Institute found that 72 percent of adopted adolescents wanted to know why they were adopted, 65 percent wanted to meet their birth parents, and 94 percent wanted to know which birth parent they looked like. (American Adoption Congress, 1996)
Susan was no different. Here is her story 54 years

I was adopted at about nine months old by loving, gentle parents who fought to conceive and maintain pregnancies. I had an older brother, Bill, who was adopted at six weeks old and a younger sister, Lisa, who was about 18 months old when she joined the family. None of us were previously related.

I always knew I was adopted. My first recollection of this awareness was when I was in 2nd grade and my teacher asked, “Who in this class was adopted?” and my hand flew up. When I looked around, there may have been one other person, but I was never bothered by the fact. I asked my mom how she told me and she claimed she didn’t really remember. She thought she’d used books from the library that talked about being chosen and not coming from her tummy. I just always knew I was adopted. I had nothing to compare it with and didn’t know what it felt like to not be adopted. All I knew was that I was very much loved.
I was born in Ohio in 1961 and it was considered a “closed” adoption: neither party was privy to information about the other. The Ohio laws have since changed and anyone born before 1963 is free to search.
As a child, I was curious about my birth mother and fantasized that she was a wealthy, blue blood type person-someone like Crystal Carrington from susans adoptive family labelDynasty, a popular TV show at the time. I was very open with my mother. In turn, she was always a bit defensive, confusing me with her instructions not to go alone if I ever searched for my birth mother. Now I know she was trying to protect me. She believed that as a young, college educated adult, I might feel obligated to help my birth mother out if I saw she was struggling. Even though I assured my mother this was not a consideration, I felt she was withholding something from me. I’m not sure if I learned then, or if I knew sooner, but I was adopted from the county welfare department, as was my younger sister Lisa. Our origin was the source of my mother’s uneasiness. At this time, I was just curious and never felt a pressing need to search because my curiosity mostly was about my nationality. I didn’t search.
It wasn’t until I was married, living in California and pregnant with our first child that I seriously began looking into my birth background. I had an unsatisfied need to know what genes I was passing on to my children. In the past, when it came time to fill out paperwork at clinics, I’d answered questions about family history with, “I don’t know. Adopted!” Now it was about to affect another generation. If I could find  anything out, I desperately wanted to.
During the pregnancy, my mother came to California from Ohio to help me wallpaper the nursery and I kept peppering her with questions about this. She finally had enough and exclaimed, “Damn it!” which I had NEVER heard her say. My persistent questions really upset her. So much so that she shared with me all she knew, which was only my birth mother’s last name. Immediately I began the search, starting at the hospital where I was born and then calling the Cleveland welfare department.
My goal was to know my heredity and disease history, but that’s not what I found out. I opened a can of worms that couldn’t have been further from my ideal birth mother image. The information was so upsetting that my husband Dave convinced me to put it all aside until after the birth of our son and deal with it later. It was great advice since my hormones were all whacked out from the pregnancy as it was.

It wasn’t too long afterwards though when I dealt with the information I’d received. I discovered I was the youngest of my birth mother’s five children, all adopted. The two oldest girls were in and out of foster care before their permanent homes. One brother died at birth and another I know nothing about. I learned I was taken to the welfare department straight from the hospital and that none of us had the same father. Our birth mother had psychological issues and was in and out of hospitals. She ended up dying in her 40’s in the hospital before my search began. To be truthful, her death was a relief because I didn’t have to make the decision to meet her. It was made for me.
I’d gathered all of this information from a wonderful social worker at the welfare department. As it turns out, my oldest biological sister, Judy, started her birth background search within a month of me inquiring about my background. I truly can’t make this stuff up!  Judy and I started exchanging birthday and Christmas cards, all through the social worker who understood we’d have some initial trust issues. Soon Judy and I were exchanging addresses.

About a year after Judy and I connected, I got another call from the social worker. She told me my birth sister, Jane, had made an inquiry to her background. So again, we made our introductions and became birthday and Christmas card friends. Judy and Jane are both lovely, decent women with terrific families. We have met a couple of times and I am glad they are in my life. We remain in contact and social media has allowed us to stay up to date with one another.

I was always open with my parents about my findings because I knew they were just as curious as I was. I certainly have a better understanding of my mother’s apprehensiveness. I know she never felt she would be replaced. My brother never searched for his birth parents because he always thought it would hurt our parents. I never felt that way. Lisa, my youngest sister and only remaining family member, never searched for her birth parents either. She chose not to have children. Maybe that’s why she never chose to look into her background.
My advice for couples considering adoption is to find out the things I never did: Heredity and diseases, even if only on the birth mother’s side because these are important when you have children. I’m still curious about that part of my history.
Finally, I would say to people adopting-love those children. Discipline them and be open with them. Let them know they’re wanted.

Family is who you are with. My wonderful childhood is something I would never change. Nature vs. nurture is an argument that will continue….both are needed.
susan portraitSusan and Dave and their very spoiled rescue yellow Labrador, Jackson, recently moved to Florida in search of a more relaxed lifestyle on the beach after 20 years in Atlanta, GA where their three children were raised. Susan grew up in a modest house in a small suburb of Cleveland, OH, attended Ohio (Athens) University and worked in radio in Ohio before marrying Dave whose career took them to Los Angeles, CA, Charleston, SC and Minneapolis, MN. She volunteered in her children’s schools, substitute taught and worked as a paraprofessional in an elementary school Physical Education department. As an empty nester, she’s also worked part-time retail jobs.


Each year nearly 120,000 children are placed for adoption. If you’re considering adoption, Here are some resources to explore. Share this story with those you know considering adoption.


Adopt Us Kids

Adoption Agencies by State

Adoptive Families

Leave a question or comment for Susan below.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. January 2016. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.

Wedding Planning Q & A By Topic

Wisconsin Sept 2015 inc Haley wedding 047Wedding Etiquette

Q: Does etiquette vary by region of the country?

A. No. While customs vary by region of the country, wedding etiquette is the same regardless of location.


Q. Do I have to invite the officiant to the rehearsal dinner?

A. Formal rules of etiquette state that an officiant and his spouse are to be invited to the rehearsal dinner. This applies to an officiant of a church or synagogue in which you are an active member not necessarily an officiant you’ve contracted for a service.

Q: Do I have to pay the officiant at my church for performing the marriage ceremony?

A: Sometimes this question is answered for you in a church published wedding guidelines booklet. If not, a gratuity is especially appropriate if he played an active role in creating a meaningful service for you. Formal etiquette rules suggest the best man or groom present the officiant with a payment and gratuity in an envelope after the service.

Printed Items: Invitations & Thank You Notesin

Q. What is the timing for sending thank you notes?

A. Formal etiquette requires sending a thank you note within a week if you receive gifts before the wedding and within a month if received after the wedding. Be aware this is a hot button issue for guests, especially older guests who expect to receive a genuine hand-written note promptly after delivery of the gift. Rumors of it being okay to send a note within a year after the ceremony are false. That is seen as being ungrateful and as poor manners.

Q. When do I use wording “pleasure of your company”?

A. If your ceremony takes places somewhere other than a church or synagogue, you use that wording instead of “the honour of your presence.”

Q: When do we send rehearsal dinner invitations?

A: These are sent by the groom’s family after guest RSVPs are returned. Never invite guests to any wedding event over the Internet or through text. Both sets of parents, the bridal party, grandparents, the officiant and his spouse and out-of-town guests are extended a rehearsal dinner invitation.

Q: Do we need to include our parent names on the invitation if we are paying for the wedding?

A: Mature couples paying for the wedding issue their own invitations and do not include parent names.

Q: What do I do if an invited guest has not returned the RSVP card?

A: You must call all guests who have not returned a RSVP card so you can get an accurate count for catering and seating.

Q: When do I mail the wedding invitations?

A: The general rule is 6-8 weeks before the wedding to out-of-state guests and 4 weeks for in-state.

Q: Where do I put a note that we want money, not gifts?

A: Nowhere. An invitation is not a request card for a gift. A gift is something given out of love and generosity. If someone chooses to present you a wedding gift, accept it graciously and with appreciation. Couples never ask for gifts or dictate a preference. Your mother or attendants can express your wishes, if asked, or guests may understand your wish if you don’t have a retail bridal registry. Also, keep in mind it is never appropriate to insert bridal registry information into an invitation either. Shower hostesses can mention where you are registered on invitations. And, bridal showers are never hosted by immediate family members.

Q: I don’t want anyone wearing white or a hat at my wedding. Can I slip a piece of paper into the invitation with this message?

A: No. This message is best communicated from family and friends to guests, not put in writing.

Encore Brides

Q. I’m getting remarried and I don’t understand today’s “rules” compared to when I married the first time.

A. You’re right. The “rules” have become somewhat relaxed. Keep these etiquette tips in mind to look like a pro: Second weddings are more sophisticated because the couple is older and more established, thus has more money to contribute to the event. Therefore, most encore couples pay for the wedding themselves. Ceremonies are smaller and usually only include family and very close friends. If you’re blending families, include the children in the ceremony. Wear a simple, elegant, sophisticated dress (floor length, cocktail length or designer suit) in white, off-white or pastel. Wear a headpiece or hat, and avoid a blusher veil covering your face. Do not print “No Gifts Please” on your invitation. If you prefer a contribution to a certain non-profit, spread this word via family and friends.

Wisconsin Sept 2015 inc Haley wedding 045The Bridal Party a.k.a Attendants

Q. Is there a proper way to ask someone to be in our wedding?

A. Yes, formal etiquette dictates you meet the person face to face and describe why she is important in your life and why you would value her support. Follow up by asking if she will support you in your wedding and marriage by serving in your bridal party. If a face to face meeting is not practical, a telephone call or hand written letter is preferred to an email or video chat.

Q. Am I obligated to ask someone to be an attendant because I was in their bridal party?

A. No. You should never feel like you need to pay someone back by asking them to be an attendant in your bridal party.

Q. How do I tell my bridesmaids I don’t want them wedding dress shopping with me? I’d already promised this to my Mom.

A. Be honest and let them know that this experience is something both you and your Mom have been looking forward to for years. Schedule a later date with your attendants for a dress reveal. Maybe you can address invitations or make wedding favors at this same gathering.

Q. I don’t want bridesmaids but my groom wants groomsmen. Is this okay?

A. Maybe. Check with the Marriage License Bureau in your ceremony location to determine requirements. Most states only require three people be present: bride, groom and officiant. But, there is no rule requiring an equal number of attendants, if you do decide to have bridesmaids.

Q. What arm do my ushers offer to seat guests?

A. Ushers offer their right arm to the woman of a guest pair or the oldest woman in a group of ladies. Single men walk beside the usher to be seated.

Q. Who is the last guest seated before the processional begins?C n C wedding August 2015 070

A. The mother of the bride is seated last and is the first guest to leave after the recessional.

Q. I’ve made a horrible mistake in my choice of maid of honor. She doesn’t seem one bit interested and hasn’t helped with anything.

A. First, try to figure out why she’s become so disinterested. Is she fearful of losing your friendship? Are you overbearing and only talk about your wedding? The gentlest way to re-engage her is to sit down together with a To-Do list and express your excitement about completing some of the list with her. A good honest talk and having some non wedding related fun may restore her interest.

Q. My groom just told me the best man has written a four page toast. Isn’t this too long? What is the norm?

A. Yes, that is too long. No wedding toast should be more than 3 minutes. Toasts should be heartfelt, delivered top-of-mind, not read. Your groom should let his best man know a speech is not needed, simply a toast offering his best wishes will do.

Q. When toasts are being made, what do we do?

A. When a toast is offered at a sit-down dinner, all rise except the couple who remain seated. Afterwards, it’s appropriate for the groom to rise and toast his new bride who remains seated.

Q. All of my bridesmaids are flying in for our wedding. Do I need to rent them a car?

A. Renting a vehicle for your attendants is not expected. If you have the funds, you might rent one or two vehicles and arrange arrival schedules so they can carpool to lodging together. Transportation logistics should be considered when choosing venues.

Q. One of the groomsmen will be in his military uniform. Do I order a boutonniere for him?

A. No. Men in uniform don’t wear boutonnieres, this includes your groom, if he’s in uniform. Others wear their boutonnieres on the left lapel of their jackets.

Q. My bridesmaids told me they’d rather sit with their dates or husbands than at a head table. Is this appropriate?

A. Yes and no. They should sit where you’d like them to. However, seating has changed a lot. You could have a sweetheart table for just you and your groom. Or, you two could sit with both sets of parents.


Q. Where do I send the wedding gift before the wedding day?

A. It is not proper to bring gifts to a ceremony or reception because the burden of transport goes to the bride or her family. Gifts should be sent to the bride’s home before a wedding ceremony. Upon receipt, accurate records need to be kept so the correct thank you note is sent in a timely manner.

Q. A lot of our family doesn’t have fine dining experience. Should I include dining etiquette rules and tableware diagrams in the invitation?

A. No. Your wedding day is a time of celebration. Forgive your guests for what you perceive to be their lack of dining etiquette and enjoy their company and willingness to celebrate with you.


Q. My divorced parents are uncivil. Dad’s remarried. Mom hasn’t. How do I seat them at the ceremony?

A. Let’s hope your parents will remember the wedding day is about you and put their dislike for one another aside. Proper etiquette requires your mother be seated in the first row with her immediate family behind her. Your father is seated in the row behind your mother’s family with his immediate family behind him.

Q. How do I deal with future in-laws putting their two cents in when they aren’t paying for anything?

A. Remember they will be in your life for a long time. To keep harmony, listen to their suggestions, consider them and then decide what is best. If this continues, ask your fiancée to speak to them since you are setting family interaction patterns while you are engaged. Good luck!

Q. How do I ask my groom’s mother if I can help select her dress?

A. First the bride’s mother chooses her dress. Show your mother-in-law a photograph of that dress and then suggest that you and she set up a day to go shopping together, making it a fun day to look forward to. Try not to be controlling and remember you want her to be both fashionable and comfortable in what she is wearing.

Q. My father died a few years back and my mother has recently remarried. I like him but I’d prefer my brother walk me down the aisle. How can I make this happen without hurting feelings?

A. There are several options to consider so that your step-father feels included. Both your brother and step-father can escort you. Or, he could meet you halfway down the aisle and walk the rest of the way to the altar with you and your brother. You could list him in your wedding program, especially if you mention your birth father. At the reception, you could do a spotlight dance with him.

Q. What does the step-mother wear to the wedding?

A. The only rule of etiquette applied to your role is to wear something that doesn’t upstage the mothers and that complements the wedding colors, so that you blend in, not stand out in wedding photographs.

What wedding planning or etiquette questions do you have? Ask me.

©Copyright October 2015 Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

After Divorce, Love Liberates

I still love my ex-husband.

(Contributed by Maureen-an Oregon follower.)

I love him like a recovering alcoholic loves her drink of choice – with fond memories, from a great distance, and withm02 absolutely no desire to rekindle. Sobriety has gifted her with wisdom to understand the chaos of such reunion. The problem isn’t with the alcohol or the alcoholic. The problem is when they are in a relationship together.



My ex and I both love our children with fierce dedication. He’s an excellent co-parent: He returns my calls and gladly lets me borrow needed items. The lines of communication about our kids and their needs are very open. We cooperate while also maintaining healthy, new boundaries set after the divorce because, when children are involved, divorce does not end a relationship, it only changes it.

In fact, we filed for divorce together, submitting a stipulated judgment reached in agreement through mediation. The legal part was fast. It was reaching this point that was painfully slow and exhausting. After several rounds of pastoral and secular counseling, both as a couple, and individually, and only God knows how many tears and best efforts, I could state without reservation there was nothing left to try, no more effort to make.

Filed on Anniversary

By coincidence, we filed for divorce on July 8 – our anniversary – so, poetically, 14 years to the day we ended our marriage on the same day it began. Officially, the judgment was entered into the record six days later, but who’s nitpicking? That would mess up the way I’ve chosen to remember things.

And that’s the scary, and the beautiful part. It is my choice to remember things how I want to. Some may say I’m lying to myself, but we all lie to ourselves, all the time. I’ve chosen to stop hoping things could’ve been different. Rather, I’m grateful for how things are, which is the best definition of forgiveness I’ve found. I could list his failings and the compounded disappointments leading me to finally decide there was no hope for a shared future. But, then to be fair, I’d have to provide a list of mine. I don’t want to.


I was not perfect. I did things I am not proud of. Words were shouted. Names were called. Doors were slammed. Tires were squealed. Spit was spat. Yes, we’d known for years we were making each other miserable. I also knew if we split, he’d stay alone for approximately five seconds. I understood a separation would be permanent. I solved the problem of being forced to make this decision by lying in bed and crying about it for two years.

Support System

When I finally reached out to my friends, my sister, and my parents, their reactions told me I had no more time for such indulgences. They assured me they’d be there every step of the way and that if I returned to him without a full reckoning by both of us; they’d be forced to accept they could never take me at my word again. I knew once I started to share the truth of how far my marriage had gone off the rails, they’d expect me, and hope for me, to choose to do right by myself and my children. I fondly called this the Nuclear Option – drastic and irreversible, once begun.

On December 3, 2013, with the help of my sister and my parents – who could have so easily said, “I told you so,” but instead swooped in like a professionally trained search and rescue team, I pushed the red button by moving out and everything, I mean everything, has been better.

Circle of Stones

The process itself was brutal. Maybe I should say I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but that isn’t true. Life is full of pain and disappointment and the sooner one acknowledges it, the easier it gets. Everyone is carrying their own sack of rocks, why whine about mine? Instead, I put together a team I fondly called my Circle of Stones. The inner circle was my sister and my parents, and my dear friend, Mindy, who was the first to be told and the first to withhold judgment. I honestly don’t know where I’d be if she hadn’t been the perfect friend to me in the exact time and way I needed her to be. Her nonjudgmental response gave me courage to reach out to my family – a family that, through my silence and shame of feeling like a failure, I’d metaphorically been giving the finger for over a decade.

Added to the Circle were my brothers and their wives, whose humbling, unexpected and greatly appreciated generosity arrived exactly when I needed it. Donna, Ellen, Debbi, Marta – a.k.a “My West Coast Mom,” Jim, Andrea, Ree, Char and so many others joined the Circle as did my doctor. She wisely put me on a short round of antidepressants when I asked her for something to help me sleep. And then, at just the right time, I learned of a reunion of female first cousins, some whom I’d never met or seen in over 30 years. Being with these strong, beautiful, caring women buoyed me, reminded of the stuff I was made of, helped me remember where I came from, and gave me the support and perspective I needed.  It’s taken time, counseling, grief and being embraced by this Circle but yes, I still do love my ex-husband.

Love is an Active Choice

Mr. Rogers in his book The World According to Mr. Rogers said, “Love isn’t perfect caring. It is an active noun, like struggle.” It is an active choice to behave in such a way that is beneficial and nurturing to all involved. Dr. Maya Angelou is credited with saying, “love liberates”. So it is my choice to love myself, my children and my now ex-husband enough to liberate, or set us all free.

I also choose to stop hoping things could’ve been different and instead be grateful for how things are. Rather than dragging my bag of rocks, I stand solidly inside my Circle of Stones and know I am forgiven, I am free.

We all are – or at least we can be. We only have to choose to liberate.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

Want to share a message with or ask Maureen a question? Do so below.

If you’d like to be a guest contributor, please contact me.

©Copyright. November 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.



School Shooting In Rural America

First Year Teacher Shares Incident Experience

Sarah is a first year teacher and daughter of a veteran police officer. She knew of crime but never realized she’d be so close to a shooting until a student opened fire inside her school during her 1st month on the job. This is Sarah’s account of September 30, 2015 in rural Harrisburg, South Dakota, population 5000.

I’ll never forget this day. I was supervising a study hall of diligent students when just after 10:00 AM; the intercom came on with static and white noise. Quickly following was the administrative assistant’s voice saying, “We are in lockdown. We are in lockdown.” She did not yell, but panic was heard in her voice. In fact, still today, over and over in my head, I hear how she said those words. Instantly I knew this was not a drill. Instead, a real incident was happening somewhere in the school.

Immediately I instructed my classroom of 25 students to get as close to the back wall as possible so they were not in direct site from the door. As they moved, I ran to shut and lock the door, turn the lights off and close all the shades. The next few minutes of uncertainty felt like an eternity. Students rightfully asked if this was a drill and what was going on. I had no answers. Finally our principal, who I later learned had just been shot, came on the intercom announcing the person causing the lockdown was apprehended and authorities were enroute.

All breathed a sigh of relief knowing with near certainty we were no longer in danger. Then I realized my loved ones, who’d in all likelihood heard about
the shooting, were probably trying to find out if I was okay, only I didn’t
have my cellular phone. For once, I was thankful for social media because I took to Facebook to contact my friends and family, letting them know that my students and I were safe.

I was on the job a month when this incident happened. I never imagined having to follow active shooter procedures ever while teaching, let alone in the first month of my career. The staff had practiced a lockdown drill just two weeks prior to the shooting so I knew what to do in the classroom that day and automatically did as we were taught.

September 30th I became a more confident teacher. Confidence in the classroom and relationship building with students typically come with time and success. Ironically, this experience jump-started both. I know, if faced with a similar incident, I will be confident in my actions. That morning those 25 students and I bonded and I feel closer to them now then I think most teachers in their first month of their first year could wish for.

I will admit that on the day of the shooting I really didn’t have any feelings about it. But the next day, when seeing the students and our principal, who thankfully was only slightly injured, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of what happened and the realization of how it could have been much worse for all.

October 1, 2015 when I got home from school, I learned of the Oregon college campus shooting and what happened the day before at our school really hit me hard. I thought to myself how easily that could have been my school, and my students. Yes, all of us at Harrisburg High School went through a traumatic event but it could have been a tragic event as well.

I was thankful then that I am close to my family. Some of my co-worker’s families live in other states and could only communicate through telephone or text messaging. I was lucky enough to have my family in the same city, offering me support and talking me through this incident.

I believe one of the biggest factors in this situation was that the student doing the shooting was new to the school. No one really had a chance to know him. And it is hard to say why he chose to use this act of violence with the limited background information we had on him.

What I can say is that parents should always be mindful of what their teenagers are doing and who they are hanging out with. As a sister to a brother seven years younger, I know keeping tabs on teenagers can be challenging because they don’t always want to talk to their parents. As a teacher I try to develop relationships right away with my students so they feel comfortable opening up to me about their struggles in and outside of school.

I don’t know if I am really the right person to dispense warning signs indicating a child might be considering an act of violence. I will say parents should try their best to be involved in their children’s lives and to pay attention to how they normally act. If abrupt change is noticed, it would be best for all to sit down right away and talk about it. As a teacher, and also someone who not too long ago was a teenager, I do know students absolutely want their parents to be involved and to talk to them, even though they may appear resistant and non-receptive.

Today I feel safe at Harrisburg High School. How I enter the school and go about my day has not changed. Honestly, being in lockdown was the last thing I ever expected when I decided to be a teacher. Yet, September 30, 2015 changed so many things for me. Teaching is as much about my learning as it is educating my students. That day I both taught and learned and I’m more confident for the experience.
What message would you like to convey to Sarah and all teachers? Leave a comment below.

©Copyright. October 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

If you’d like to contribute as a guest, contact me at

1st Time Grandparents


(Guest Contributor-Kelly Weaver)

babyUpdated March 29, 2016

Lennon Elizabeth arrived one week early on Sunday, March 20th at 7:05 pm weighing 5 lbs. 15 oz and measuring 18 ¾ inches long.  She is a beautiful healthy baby and everything is going well.  Kelly said, “I was not prepared for the love in my heart for that little girl and I cried when I held her (as did my mother!).” Adding, “You hear that being a grandparent is the best, but you don’t truly know until you are there.  I look forward to the many moments of joy she will bring to our lives.”

KellyShare your messages of Congratulations with Kelly and her family in the Comments Section below.


———————————————————————————————-October, 2015

This summer our daughter and son-in-law made an announcement that took my breath away and, somewhat unexpectedly, brought me to tears. They’re pregnant! This will be our first grandchild. While I am excited, I feel a bit unprepared for my new role but I guess I will figure it out along the way. Just like I did as a parent! Like any change in life, embarking on this new journey brings with it both fears and joys.
Fears –
1. My husband’s biggest fear is that the baby won’t be healthy or our daughter will have complications. He had the same fear when I was pregnant with her. Given that she’s been feeling well, as I did during my pregnancy, and extreme complications are rare, this is one fear that doesn’t keep me up at night. I’m more worried about how their puppy will react.
2. I think my biggest fear is not overstepping my bounds and being “that” mother/mother-in-law. Our daughter and her husband only live a couple of miles from us, and we have a great relationship. I have always been the parent that couldn’t wait to share all my knowledge and wisdom with my daughter as she was growing up. I will need to police those tendencies and perhaps bite my lip at times when new methods don’t match up with the ‘way it used to be’.
3. Selfishly, I am embarrassed to admit one of my fears is a possible loss of freedom. My husband and I are just becoming used to being ‘empty nesters’ and taking opportunities to do things we haven’t done for a while or doing things as just the two of us. Will being a Grandma take away from other leisure time activities? I shouldn’t be worried based on what I hear from other grandparents. We’ll likely find that we can choose ‘Grandma and Grandpa time’ over any other activity.
I am blessed that there are many fears I do not have. I don’t worry about family discord, being separated by long distances, or having my grandchild raised in a different faith tradition.
Joys –
1. My daughter and her husband celebrated their first wedding anniversary this fall. While she a_003 - Copyhasn’t lived in our house for a few years, it’s been a transition of separation since the wedding. It’s been wonderful to witness her in her new fully adult role as a wife. The joy of seeing her as a mother will be even greater. That joy will be compounded by the fact that she will be accompanied in that journey by a loving husband ready to take on his role as a new father. What more could a parent ask for?
2. My husband is so looking forward to the things he can do with his grandchild. His first favorite thing will be snuggling up on the couch with a sleeping child reminiscent of the times when our daughter was young. Of course, other activities on his list will be camping, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, and trips to Storybook Land.
3. I too look forward to activities with our grandchild because it allows us to be a positive influence in their life. To share our faith, to be awed by their outlook on the world, to encourage them to be themselves, and to be their biggest fan. I think one of the joys of grandparenthood comes from being able to ‘be present’ in their world in a way that parents are not always able to be. We have a calm demeanor that comes from life experience and the lack of responsibility for the daily duties of raising a child.
I remember when my daughter was born and my father held her for the first time. He was so in awe of this little being and how everything about her was so tiny. He was particularly enthralled with her delicate fingers. Granted, it had been a long time since his own children were born but it was almost as if he had never seen a baby before. He often said, “If I had known how much fun grandchildren were, I would have had them first! “
With that in mind, I can only hope to approach the birth of my own grandchild with a sense of wonder and joy. (And it will be fun to see my dad’s reaction to his first great-grandchild!)

0_003Kelly Weaver lives in Aberdeen, South Dakota and spends her days helping people in northeast South Dakota realize their small business dreams by providing guidance and business planning services. For the past 9 years, she has coordinated the BIG Idea Competition, a business idea competition for high school students. In her free time she enjoys singing in her church choir and camping and snowmobiling with family and friends throughout the year. She and her husband, Jim, have one daughter and son-in-law and are anxiously and excitingly waiting the arrival of their first grandchild.

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Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.


©Copyright. October 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Replaced Mom?

Google-the Nasty Step-Mother

Soon no one will speak any longer. Texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter and other social media have nearly replaced telephone calls. A hand-addressed, hand-written letter in the mailbox has me rushing back to the house excited to read words committed on paper forever.

Long gone are the days when I made, or more recently received, phone calls about ingredient substitutions for a family recipe, remedies for an illness or techniques for stain removal. Nope! No one calls for that advice or wisdom any longer. Instead, we log onto one of our many electronic devices and ask Google. Google is the end-all and the answer key for virtually everything we need to know. It is the nasty step-mother who’s replaced mom’s wisdom. It’s left mom feeling worthless and not needed. Heck, even mom Googles when she needs information now.

What’s missing from this instantaneous Google search for answers and information is the appreciation of experience and wisdom of the elder being called who knows the right answers through the trials and errors of living life. Every time I hung up the phone (Phones haven’t always been carried.) after calling to ask a household or vehicle operating question, I was grateful for the answer and deep down I knew it gave my parents a boost to be able to answer and to help. It proved their worth, even as their child aged.

Recently our son called to ask how to dispose of kitchen grease. I answered. And then I got suspicious. What was the real reason he was calling? Was everything okay? Was he lonely? Did something happen? Oh Dear! Maybe he just wanted to know how to get rid of the grease that was smelling up his apartment.

I wish he’d call more often with questions I can answer without looking them up on Google. If only he knew how that one little ring on my cellular phone boosted my sense of worth as a mother. Save the texts and instant messages for someone else. Today, let the phone ring or the mailbox contain a hand-written letter.

Need to know how to write one?  Call me!

©Copyright October 2015 Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Halloween Party Planning–Include Boys

Boys get the short stick of holiday party planning. Some say they don’t care. I beg to differ. As the mother of an only child who happens to be male I want him to experience the excitement and anticipation of all holidays too. I understand he’s not a girl, I am. I want him to bank memories of holidays and to recall the fun, festivity and even the calamity of the planning and the party itself. In addition, I want him participating in the planning. There is so much learning for kids involved in planning and hosting events-everything from envelope addressing to budgeting to handling conflict between party guests. Sit down with your child, or children, and plan a party TOGETHER. You will be doing them a favor and teaching them more than you realize.

Pre-Party To-Do List

  • Pick a date, time and location.
  • Decide who to invite-all boys, co-ed, adults?
  • Purchase or create invitations. Child completes Who, What, When, Where and RSVP details.
  • Child addresses envelopes, stamps and mails invitations 2-3 weeks before date.
  • Plan a menu. Traditional kid food or holiday food?
  • Create a grocery shopping list by menu item. What buy, what make?
  • Decide where to serve food-outside vs. inside-where at each location?
  • Make list of tableware and decorations needed.
  • Giving guests party favors? What? Make or buy?
  • Shop together. Compare prices. Decide together.
  • Plan activities for party. Indoor and outdoor. Inclement weather plan?
  • Make a time-line of actions to be done the week of the party and the day of the party. [Teaching time management skills and big picture thinking.]
  • Follow up with non-responding RSVP guests. (Major pet peeve!)

Week of Party Reminders

  • Check the forecast
  • Balls inflated? If any sports balls being used in activities, are they properly inflated?
  • Gather serving platters, trays, utensils, etc. for menu items. Clean? Ready to use?
  • Making party favors? Do so. Place in basket and set aside.
  • Can any ingredients be cut or prepared in advance? Check recipes.

Party Day

  • Set up serving tables, if not using kitchen or dining room table.
  • Prepare menu items, paying close attention to preparation times and safe storage.
  • Place serving trays, bowls, etc. on table.
  • Double check items needed for activities- all present and available?
  • Is bathroom ready for guest use?
  • Be ready for guests to arrive at least 1-hour before start time.
  • ENJOY the party!
  • Hand guests party favors as they leave and thank them for coming to your party.
  • Clean up.
  • Children, thank parents for helping you plan such a great party!

Sample Menu From Halloween Party for Pre-Teen Boys

  • Bloodied Fingers-twisted and baked breadsticks with food coloring added. Almonds (fingernail) pressed into bread after 5 minutes of baking.
  • Blood Shot Eyes on Guts-can of black beans spread on plate (guts). Deviled eggs with pimento or red pepper (blood shot) and sliced olives (eyeball).
  • Spider Web 7-layer dip-see photo for ingredients or use your favorite recipe. Put sour cream in bag with small hole so child can draw web on top layer.
  • Cheetos and black tortilla chips
  • Sliced red and green pepper
  • Punch over dried ice
  • Jean’s Ghost Cookies-see under “recipes.”

Sample Activities

It’s a sunny fall day and the invitees are pre-teen boys. Flag football supervised by an adult. Game of “Horse” on the basketball court-winner is first in line to eat. Age appropriate Halloween or other scary movie. At dusk-Flashlight Tag.

Party Favors

Battery operated flashlight for Flashlight Tag and a pre-packaged Rice Krispie treat covered with a ghost face decorated (Sharpie) paper towel tied on with black or orange yarn.

Copyright. September 2015. Linda Leier Thomason.

All Rights Reserved.