Sunday, January 17, 2010


I am FINALLY able to load pictures on my Blog! It has been a couple of weeks since I have been able to get any to load. So they must have finally fixed it! Yay!

The above picture was taken not quite 2 years ago on a wonderful family trip with my sister, nephew and parents to BEAUTIFUL Mackinaw Island, Michigan. That is a vacation that my girls still talk about and that we all loved SO much. My family really knows how to celebrate together, and show love!

As I was thinking about my lack of plans for New Year's Eve, my mind began to wander back to many years ago!
I am one of four girls and two boys. One of the things that my parents did right was tell the young men interested in us beautiful Schaller girls that we were not allowed to date them, however, they were welcome at our home any Friday or Saturday night for dinner and family time. As a result, our home was always swarming with teenage boys that my Mom and Dad promptly adopted! We also had a bunch of girlfriends hanging around! They showed such love and concern for those young people! They were able to show them what a loving family looks like and steer them firmly to the things of God. I am still good friends with one of those boys that hung around all the time!
But boy, could my mom throw a party!!! She is one of the most talented women I know. She is a gifted writer, eloquent speaker, amazing decorator! She would take all these swatches and lay them next to each other, and I would think, "YUCK! That is going to look terrible!" But when she got it all done, it would be amazing! People would walk in and comment nearly every time on how beautiful it was!
But I remember best how she could really pull off an event!
My all-time favorite New Year's Eve was when Mom got a murder mystery kit from my aunt. She invited all the teenagers over to our house for the entire night, knowing that if they were at our house, then they would not be out getting into trouble. It was a semi-formal even. Young men needed to have slacks and a tie, preferably a jacket as well. And each young lady wore a formal dress. Then she prepared a FIVE COURSE meal for us! The way the murder mystery thing works is that you start with dinner and the murder is announced during dinner. The conversation starter. There is a book for each person, and they each have an identity that belongs to the story. I was Tequila Mockingbird. I remember it after all these years!
The books are segmented. After each course you turn to the next segment and it gives more and more clues toward solving the murder. So while Mom was getting on the next culinary delight, we would retire to the living room and accuse each other if killing the mythical person! It was great.
I was the murderess, by the way. I think Mom did it on purpose! Thanks a lot, Mom!
When all the food was eaten and the mystery solved, we changed in designated areas (well separated), and that was such a clear night! Out in the country in Nebraska there are no street lamps, but that night we did not need them! The moon was SO bright and huge that night, and we bundled up and went out and went sledding at 11pm. We said, "Happy New Year!" under one of the brightest moons I can remember! Then after we were good and cold, we went inside, had hot chocolate, and watched appropriate G-rated movies. I remember we put in Singing In The Rain. They guys got bored really quickly with that and made their way to the kitchen to start a rousing game of Monopoly. I personally think that particular game is tedious and full of monotony, but based on the shouts and ruckus coming from the kitchen, they were having a wonderful time! As the night wound down, the girls crashed upstairs in the room my older sister and I shared, and the boys crashed on the livingroom floor.
We were well fed and well supervised. The rules were strict. No touching. Period. And we would not have DREAMED of anything unseemly!
The next morning, ahem, afternoon, Mom made us whole wheat pancakes, and Daddy put on the bacon and made his famous omelets. I think that almost everyone hung out with us for most of the day: watching movies, laughing and helping Mom with dishes and stuff! It is one of my best memories!
There was no pressure to be part of a "couple", no one was excluded, everyone was welcome and treated by everyone else with respect and kindness.
My mother often told us that those boys were so attracted to my sisters and I because we were so kind to them. She told us that the sweetness we showed towards every person we met is what made ourselves and our home so magnetic to them. That is something else I can thank my parents for. That was something they taught us.

Christmas was always a time of such joy! We would listen to hours and hours of Christmas Music on the record player! You cannot even GET some of that music any more! Then we would sing them when we were driving anywhere together -in 5 part harmony!
Thanksgiving was a time of true gratitude to God for the blessings He gave us. REAL gratitude.
Easter was about the resurrection!

There was love there -an imperfect, sometimes a little dysfunctional, open to anyone who needed a family love. I think over the years of the people who became kids to my Mom and Dad, and I know that the influence they had reached farther than my teenage mind could even understand. Was it perfect? No, but I would not trade my life for the world and I would not change my parents one bit even if I could. They continue to bless me and my family. My mother is so wise and my Daddy is a living example of the leader in the home being the servant of all. They ADORE each other, and it shows in the way they smooch and tease and laugh with each other. Those kids got to see that too, and I am sure that it made a real impression on them!

Music was a BIG part of our lives. Everyone I knew could sing. The church I grew up in sounded like a finely tuned choir. I bet they still do! Every member of both sides of my family is VERY gifted! I though everyone could sing. When people said that they "couldn't carry a tune in a bucket" I thought they were joking, or needed to try harder. It never occurred to me that they might not actually be able to sing! We would sing for church or some special event and we would sing A Capella. I never understood as a child how extraordinary that was! Daddy would joke, "People ask why we always sing A Capella. Well it is just too hard to fit six kids and a piano in the car!"

I think of all the treasures that my parents have given me, compassion is the one I value most. It is something that has to be taught. You aren't born with it. As I look around at people in my generation -and try to teach it to my sweet little Monkeys- I recognize that compassion is a rare commodity. It is easy to have compassion when there is a huge disaster, but what about being able to put yourself in the shoes of another person that you may not see eye-to-eye with. What about letting that person get over on the freeway? What about simply understanding that there may be things that that person is going through that make them act in a seemingly unkind way towards you. That does not mean it is right, but a gentle act of kindness towards that person may change their entire day. Do we see ourselves in every person we meet? Can we feel their pain? We should. Do we really live it?

For all the mistakes that Mom and Dad made, and I bet they can remember more than I can, they did a LOT right. I am SO grateful and would not trade them, or my upbringing, for all the world!

Thanks Mom and Dad! Oh, and Mom? I need some help decorating! Come visit soon. I miss you!

Monkey Mom

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