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Teen Times Vol. 1

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I have found communicating with one’s offspring to be daunting at times. When they’re small children, conversation can be simple: “Gotta go pee-pee?”, “Time for nap” and “No, don’t put the fork in the socket, honey.” Simple supervisory skills.

As the they get older, and if they’re still not as smart as you, you can figure out how things are. But it does require knowing your children and what their proclivities are. But then they hit pre-teen, and with technology the way it is, you’re gonna fall behind. I did Twitter, but just got depressed; I am on Instagram, but the kids aren’t really there anymore. It’s all about Snapchat…and I’m not going there. So they have this Snapchat world that you kinda have to watch from a distance.

Then there are the full-blown teenagers, the attitude has come, the manners have gone, and any motivation or inclination to do minor work has vanished. Communication becomes very difficult. I have one teen with whom I can have normal conversations, hopefully that will not change, I have one who must have mentally muted my voice, and I have one with whom I can start WWIII with that hate-filled word, “Hello”. Texting is the go-to form of communication for my teens. However, how my texts are perceived by them is a mystery to me, even after 30 years of child rearing. For example:

Sample Mom Text: What time will you be home?

In the English language, this kind of sentence is called an interrogative sentence, a question, if you will. Typically, these kinds of sentences elicit a response, and furthermore, in our sample text, a response dealing with time. This text, in its basic and unfettered form, would seem innocuous; however, in the mind of a teen, our sample text can create benign annoyance to outright hostility. Also, this sample text has elicited declarations of independence from said teens who are over 18. You know where I’m going.

Lately, I’ve been spending two nights a week at my mom’s “mom-sitting” while my dad’s been in rehab…no, not that kind of rehab. One of those nights is a Sunday night, and consequently, my two school-aged daughters must get up, get ready and be prepared for pick up around 7:30 without my gentle nudging, aka “get your butt outta bed, it’s almost time to go” encouragement. 🙂

This particular Monday morning, I sent out some preemptive texts at 6:55.  I sent this harmless text: “Awake?” Interrogative, yes, so I get one response, not good, both should be awake by now. Ten minutes later, I send this declarative text: “Be ready in 20 minutes.” Same respondee, text one, “Whooooa?”, text two, “We’re not ready.”

As I wait for mom’s caregiver, I send another text, testing the waters of readiness, 7:27 am – “Ready?” Faithful respondee, “No, E in shower” My calm response: “Whaaaaat!!!” E must think that “Be ready in 20 minutes” means “I have ten more minutes before my shower.” I have to drop off two teens at two different locations in two separate cities, and get to work by 8. The Plight of the Hare. Ain’t gonna happen this morning. Que sera, sera! We’ll all be late today.

I finally get over to pick them up, I futilely text, “here” and wait. We get on our way at 7:49, faithful respondee needs to be at school by 8:05 and her silent (mentally mute) sister needs to be there by 8:12. I’ve been using my son’s manual transmission Toyota, so today necessitated me to fall into Mario Andretti mode. I bobbed and weaved, shifted and downshifted through residential streets to deposit Thing 2 by 8:00 and managed to fly up Sharp Park, make the lights on Westborough and get Thing 1 dropped off a little late. Meanwhile, I get to work late, there goes my break.

Since I have an advanced degree in teen times, I didn’t stress out. I chocked it up to experience, and determined the next Monday morning to send out preemptive texts earlier. I tell my older daughters who have young children to enjoy the baby years since time flies by so fast. Folks, these teen times too will pass, so my advice is to fasten your seat belt and enjoy the bumpy ride.

 

 

Seventh Grade

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A few years ago, I wrote a blog about Sixth Grade and how much I loved that little class in Santa Rosa. However, shortly before the end of that memorable school year, my parents announced we were moving and before we knew it, we were in Daly City, a place nothing like Santa Rosa and her cherry orchards. From our little quaint block, we moved to a house on a street with miles of similar houses. Concrete replaced contentment. My only consolation was an unobstructed view of the ocean, and the sound of its waves to soothe my sadness.

I did my last months of sixth grade at FDR, and moved on to Fernando Rivera for 7th and 8th grades. As wonderful and enriching sixth grade was at Brook Hill, seventh grade at Fernando was its complete opposite. I was still sulking about our move, and totally unprepared for junior high school. I didn’t have many friends.

To get to school, the neighborhood kids would gather at FDR to ride a doubledecker Greyhound to Westlake. High anxiety. To make matters worse, one of the boys who took the same bus began to threaten and terrorize me. He wanted to go steady, but I said no; so the rest of the year he’d threaten to beat me up, he’d bully me in the classes we had together, he and his friend would frighten me on the bus, and, by March, I ended up with an ulcer. I wasn’t yet 13 years old.  I never told anyone until Ms. Donovan, my Spanish teacher, caught him knocking a desk over on me, and then the feces hit the fan. Principal office visits, parental concern, attention that only made me more anxious. The bullying stopped and, ironically, in 8th grade, this kid was as nice as he could be. Go figure.

So, seventh grade didn’t hold too many good memories….not until this morning. A couple months ago while at work, a waft of a unique pizza aroma was drifting down the main office corridor. What was remarkable is I hadn’t smelled that particular aroma in over 50 years, not since my early years at Holy Name. Remember in “Ratatouille”, when Igo, the critic, tasted the eponymous dish and was transported to his mother’s little country kitchen. That’s what that pizza smell did to me that day. I was a little girl in a big school with memories of menacing nuns and magical fall festivals.

Well, today, as I was walking over to the main office, I caught a whiff of a wood burning aroma. Again, it was a very specific smell. It was the smell of wood burning from a wood burning tool. And this smell, like the pizza smell, transported me back to the past, this time to Mr. Santa Maria’s workshop class. That year, seventh grade, the home economics class would switch out with the wood shop class for a couple weeks. In wood shop, I remember making a wooden box with hinges. We used the band saw, the lath and a wood burning tool to write whatever we wanted on our boxes. That was the smell I smelled this morning. While I enjoyed the aroma, chuckling like a tween, I wanted to soak up what other memories I could conjure from that tough year at Fernando.

I remembered my little stint in wood shop and my two years with Ms. Chaney in her various home ec classes, where I remarkably sewed the pant legs wrong to the class’s amusement. I remember, my hero, Ms. Donovan, who saw what was going on and did something, I also remember a few other “usual suspects” like Mr. Downey who called me Donna Moore or Less which made me smile, and Mr. Follett’s Health Class where I learned the terrifying consequences of smoking and begged my mom to quit. These folks  reminded me of the good times I did have at Fernando. Even Ms. Walters, who called me an “exhibitionist” after I showed her my aerial cartwheel, wasn’t so bad. I didn’t even know what an exhibitionist was, but I don’t think it was a compliment.

I remember those green, I’m pretty sure they were green, gym suits that were hard to put on. I remember doing gymnastics with Audrey on the bars and the grass, palling around with some 6th graders like Robbin and Cynthia, and Katy, yes, I remember Katy and her bright smile. Back in the neighborhood, I was sulking less as I hung out with Felicia and her sister, sleeping over there on weekends watching “Creature Features” until the middle of the night. Long ago, but not so far away.

I guess Seventh Grade wasn’t a complete disaster. I toughed the bullying out for a long time. Funny, I ran into Nina Grimes at Dollar Tree a few years ago, and told her about the kid, whom she knew, and the bullying. She said, “Ya should’ve told me, Donna, I would’ve kicked his ass.” Yes, I should’ve….anyway, it’s still nice to know Nina had my back.

 

 

He Restores My Soul

Shepherd Returns Jean Francois Millet

Thru the Bible radio has begun the book of Psalms. The Bible Bus’s extended excursion through this wonderful book weaves in all the Messianic references so a clear picture of Jesus Christ emerges. Perhaps the most pronounced foreshadowing occurs in David’s famous psalm: Psalm 23. Today’s Thru the Bible Sunday Sermon is titled, “The Psalm of an Old Shepherd.”  It is a wonderful sermon, you can listen to it here.

I was born in San Francisco, and pretty much lived, and continue to live,  near this metropolis so I don’t know much about country living, although I’d like to learn. I needed to do my homework to understand not only the significance to this “shepherd” theme, but the many other pastoral themes in the New Testament like sowing and reaping. Jesus speaks to fishermen, farmers, blue-collar folks like shepherds whose trades are far from my accounting/secretarial office experiences.

According to Wikipedia, “A shepherd or sheepherder is a person who tends, herds, feeds, or guards herds of sheep.” Also, “shepherding is among the oldest occupations, beginning some 5,000 years ago in Asia Minor.” Like David, Isaiah likens the Lord to a shepherd: He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” It was to the night watch shepherds that the glorious announcement came 2,000 years ago:

“8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2

The connection between David’s shepherd and Jesus Christ is uncanny. John quotes Jesus in chapter 10 of his gospel: I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. The writer of Hebrews adds: “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep..” And finally, Peter, the fisherman, encourages us that, “…when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

There is something of a longing in the human soul for someone like a shepherd, one who protects, provides and guides. Even Ira Gershwin tapped into this yearning with his immortal lyrics from the classic “Someone To Watch Over Me.

I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the wood, I know I could always be good to one who’ll watch over me.

In Psalm 23, the Shepherd not only provides peaceful green pastures and still waters, but also He protects while we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. A stroll all of us will take one day. And, finally, He wondrously promises an eternity – a forever – in His dwelling, foreshadowing that great verse in John: In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” 

In Psalm 23, David says the Lord, his Shepherd, restores his soul. Many believe David wrote this as an old man, after his great sin, and after he wrote Psalm 51 where he expressed his repentance when he cried out, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.” God answered his prayer.

One night, years ago, I couldn’t sleep. What weighed down on my shoulders, I don’t remember, but I do remember it was during a time of real wrestling with my circumstances. Circumstances that I foolishly thought I had control of. Not long after this night, I learned, AGAIN, the meaning of Proverbs 3:5 and 6. This night, however, all I wanted to do was sleep, and I could not. I struggled to pray, and I could not. I tried to recite scripture and all verses fled from my memory except the “sublimely simple and simply sublime” psalm of the shepherd-king. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Well, those words raced right past me, but “He restores my soul” was the brick wall I ran into. I stopped there and pondered, and let the balm of these four words make its way into my troubled soul. It wasn’t long before the wrestling subsided, the peace restored and the slumber came. Four words. The Bible is a wonderful book.

This whole psalm restores not only our souls, but also our lives.  Our souls are restored through the redemptive work of the Shepherd, Who, two thousand years ago, laid down His life for His sheep. Our emotional well-being is restored with peace, protection, provision and spiritual promises. And our bodies – sinless – will be restored on the Last Day.  All the hope of Eden will be restored on that Great Day.

Jesus is The Shepherd of Psalm 23, He is David’s Shepherd; He is the Good Shepherd of John 10, the Great Shepherd of Hebrews 13, and finally, the returning and living Chief Shepherd of 1 Peter 5. He is our Shepherd, and He restores our souls, our lives, and, one day, our physical bodies.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I WILL dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

 

Come Harvest Time

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Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

Last year, I bought this old Plymouth Voyager mini-van. What attracted me to this vehicle was not only the low price and the low mileage, but the fact it had a cassette tape player. Yay for me, I could play my favorite Cat Stevens cassette. But, alas, the tape deck doesn’t work, and the radio only gets one decent signal – KEAR, Family Radio’s SF Bay Area station. I don’t mind KEAR, so I’ve been listening to the Bible readings, the Bible contests (which are hard), Alistar Begg sermons and various types of Christian music.

Two wonderful songs have come my way through KEAR: “I Take Refuge in You” and “Come Harvest Time”. I absolutely love when new things come my way that resonate deep down, and these two songs do so. Another beautiful providence. Glen Campbell sings “Come Harvest Time”, and I knew I had heard it before, but never listened. Funny, the difference between hearing and listening! That I love autumn and harvest time is no secret to anyone, and this song poignantly tells the story of human sowing and reaping.

As we get older, we begin to reap that which we’ve sown. My weight doesn’t budge because I’ve sown poor eating habits. My pocketbook is “holey” because I’ve sown poor financial management habits. However, I’m seeing some glints of golden grain in some of my parenting endeavors. My kids, who have been through a lot, are always surprising me with acts of kindness towards others, smart financial choices, varying degrees of compassion and good common sense.

One son is just completing his first journey to Europe and North Africa. He kindly kept me abreast of his and his girlfriend’s activities with pictures of churches in Barcelona, of  a sultan’s lunch spread in Fez and of the first Catholic Church in Lisbon. Despite the horrendous heatwave the Iberian Peninsula experienced this past week, he was able to hold up, and I’m sure he’s relishing the thought of San Francisco’s chilly fog as he makes his way home. I showed my Portuguese mother the pics from Lisbon. She was so excited about his trip.

This kind son asked me, “do you want me to get you anything?” I answered, “No, that’s ok, maybe something churchy for Grandma.” He immediately sent me a pic, a pic of a simple, silver Portuguese rosary from that first Catholic Church in Lisbon, with the text, “I got her that, don’t tell her.” This text conversation was going on with “Come Harvest Time” playing in the background. And what came over me quite strongly, was that….this is my gift. That my son already thought of his 90 year old grandma and purchased a gift for her that will be close to her heart…literally. A glint of golden grain, “Come Harvest Time”.

I know I’ve made many mistakes in my life, especially as a mom. But I am determined to make up for them by praying for these ten souls (actually they’re many more now with grandkids, girlfriends and a great son-in-law) and imploring God to bless them much like Jacob did when he wrestled with the Angel. By God’s grace, I will not grow weary in this endeavor.

 

Come Harvest Time

 

 

Positively Providential

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In Kevin Sullivan’s wonderful production of “Anne of Green Gables”, there was a scene when Marilla attempted to bring Anne back to Mrs. Spencer, the woman who arranged Anne’s adoption. Remember, Marilla wanted a boy and as she was dropping off Anne, Mrs. Spencer explained that the multiparous Mrs. Blewett was in need of a caregiver for her many children, at which point, Mrs. Blewett entered the scene. Mrs. Spencer exclaimed in delight that this was “positively providential”. Positively providential for Mrs. Blewett, but painfully providential for Anne had not Marilla, in her good and kind foresight, withdrew her decision to return Anne.

Many times in my life, I’ve had “positively providential “ moments.  One of my favorite “positively providential” moments was at Simpson College in San Francisco, California.  I took two of Dr. Wallmark’s classes, “Literature of the New Testament” and “Life & Teachings of Christ”. Dr. Wallmark was such a great teacher, often, he would get choked up on the great truths of the life of Christ or a passage of Paul’s. It was like church every class. I think it was in the latter class that I wrote a final paper titled “Elijah During New Testament Times”. I had a lot of fun researching for this paper. I went to the Jewish Library in San Francisco often looking for primary source materials. I asked Dr. Wallmark what books may shed light on the understanding of who Elijah was and his role in Messianic literature during the New Testament times, he replied that Raphael Patai’s “The Messiah Texts” was the book to get.

I was a library nerd back then too. I scoured various library book indices looking for Patai’s book. Could not find it. No Amazon back in the ’80’s. One day, at Simpson’s library, one of my favorite hangouts, I was at the counter checking out other books. There, near the checkout, was Raphael Patai’s “The Messiah Texts”. Whaaaat!!!

You’ve had those moments, chills run through your body. I trembled when I asked the librarian, if that book was free to check out. She was puzzled, she said it was not even a library book. Really? Perhaps someone lost it. She said she didn’t know who’s it was, there was no name in it, and I could have it if I want it. No way!! I said sure. (I still have it.)

Was Dr. Wallmark around the corner chuckling? I’ll ask him when I get to heaven. I went on to get an A- (reduced to B+ because it was late) on the paper, with a great comment from Dr. Wallmark, “this would make a great masters topic”.

Not all providences are positive when they first appear. Many times in my life, I’ve had “positively providential” moments even in the midst of some painful and difficult circumstances. Dr. McGee just finished the book of Esther. Providentially, Esther is raised up to be Queen in the nick of time to save her people, much like Joseph did in Egypt. Even what seems to be a painfully providential situation, it can become positive. My buddy, John Forbes, just posted this Oswald Chambers quote on Facebook:

Behold, He is coming with clouds… Rev. 1:7

In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith.

The clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3).

One of those cloudy times, a very lean and tough time when the income had stopped for a while, we were blessed with one of our favorite providences. During that time, one of the kids kept the radio on KFRC. She will remain nameless since she doesn’t like to be ID’ed in my blogs. During that time, KFRC had a radio contest where you had to identify five songs from like three notes. Each attempt to win only made the pot larger until it was well over $5,000.00. My nameless child listened diligently, and learned the names of all the songs. Then one day, it was time to call in. You had to be the 20th caller. She was under age, so I did the calling. I got through, and was the 20th caller. I recited the five song titles. Pause. And the excited deejay exclaimed, “You won”. Everyone was screaming. Over $5,000.00. At a time when we desperately needed money. I gave the nameless child more than $300.00 and used the rest to catch up on the mortgage and pay the bills. Positively providential even in the midst a difficult time. I will pay her the full five someday

Another time, ten years ago, we moved from the East Bay to the Peninsula. After problems with my ex-husband and other dangerous situations, it was unanimous to leave the area out of safety for my kids.  So I moved to my parents’ house with 8 of my kids. From the frying pan to the fire, I’ve always said.

How did this painful providence become positive? Well, some elements stayed painful, the close quarters, the disagreements with my father, the financial straits, etc. However, as I look back, it was a positively providential move. Before we moved, my father offered to pay all my living expenses in the East Bay until I got on my feet. That was the plan before things got bad.

Did I know, did my dad know, did anyone know that the bottom of the economy was going to drop out in three short months in September 2008? God knew. So despite all the painful elements of this circumstance, God put me and my kids in a place where we were safe and taken care of. He also provided a nice Christian school and a generous family member to situate my kids in a warm, nurturing school environment. I’d say that was “positively providential”.

Julian of Norwich said,  “but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”  Solomon wrote in Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  In spite the tough times I’ve lived through, I have witnessed many wonderful and positively providential occurrences.  I’ve learned to trust in the Lord, even when times are dark and cloudy, and to give Him the opportunity “to work all things together for good“.

 

Waiting For Hope

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Probably my favorite passage from Mrs. Charles Cowman’s Streams in the Desert – July 26

For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness  – Galatians 5:5

There are times when things look very dark to me–so dark that I have to wait even for hope. It is bad enough to wait in hope. A long-deferred fulfillment carries its own pain, but to wait for hope, to see no glimmer of a prospect and yet refuse to despair; to have nothing but night before the casement and yet to keep the casement open for possible stars; to have a vacant place in my heart and yet to allow that place to be filled by no inferior presence–that is the grandest patience in the universe. It is Job in the tempest; it is Abraham on the road to Moriah; it is Moses in the desert of Midian; it is the Son of man in the Garden of Gethsemane. There is no patience so hard as that which endures, “as seeing him who is invisible”; it is the waiting for hope.

Thou hast made waiting beautiful; Thou has made patience divine. Thou hast taught us that the Father’s will may be received just because it is His will. Thou hast revealed to us that a soul may see nothing but sorrow in the cup and yet may refuse to let it go, convinced that the eye of the Father sees further than its own.

Give me this Divine power of Thine, the power of Gethsemane. Give me the power to wait for hope itself, to look out from the casement where there are no stars. Give me the power, when the very joy that was set before me is gone, to stand unconquered amid the night, and say, “To the eye of my Father it is perhaps shining still.” I shall reach the climax of strength when I have learned to wait for hope.  –George Matheson

Strive to be one of those–so few–who walk the earth with ever-present consciousness–all mornings, middays, star-times–that the unknown which men call Heaven is “close behind the visible scene of things.”

 

The Day I Shot The Rat

Here is an excerpt from my self-published book, “The Plight of the Hare & Other Stories From the Shoe”. Illustration by Breena Nuñez.shot

Thumpety-thump. Thumpety-thump. My eyes flew open and I froze. My ears strained to identify this mysterious sound. A mouse?? A big mouse??!! Urgh. Thumpety-thump. “Uh oh, more than one?” I thought. A childhood fear prevented me from looking because it could have been a giant monster or something.

“Francisco,” I whispered to my sleeping husband, pushing him to wake up. “Francisco, there’s a big mouse in the kitchen. Francisco,” I shook him harder and he mumbled. “I heard a mouse, I think he’s under the fridge, sounds like he’s chewing on a tortilla or something.” Still asleep, I shook him real hard and raised my voice, “Francisco, there is a mouse under the refrigerator, can you go check it out?” Finally he turned over and paused, listened to the sound under the fridge; opened one eye, then bolted straight up. “That’s no mouse!” He announced. He got up and grabbed his BB gun from the top of the bookshelf.

“What are you doing?” I whispered.

“I’m gonna shoot that rat!” he said determinedly. “A rat, oh no, not a rat,” I moaned.

I watched him aim; I couldn’t look toward the fridge because I didn’t want to see how big the rat was. It was quiet for a long time, the chewing stopped. Bing! A shot sounded from the BB gun.

“$#%^&” cursed my husband as he jumped off the bed and got his foot caught on the blanket. He tried to hit the fleeing rat with the butt of the rifle, but just tripped and cursed some more. He came back to bed “I’m gonna get that rat.” He was getting back under the covers when I heard another noise, “What’s that?”

The noise was coming from the sliding glass door. A beautiful mosaic of cracking glass was slowly climbing to the top of the door. It actually looked pretty with the street light shining in the background.

“You hit the sliding glass door?!!” I said, holding my smirk inside my mouth. “I’m going to sleep.” And he turned over.

“Was it a big rat?” I winced at the question. “Yea, a really big one.”

“Oh, no…” I went to sleep to the sound of crackling glass. The morning was a buzz as soon as the kids woke up.

“What happened to the sliding glass door?” one asked, “Who broke it?” another asked.

“Your father shot it,” I answered, “Don’t touch it, it’s gonna fall apart.” “Why did he shoot the door?” one asked.

“He didn’t mean to shoot the door; he meant to shoot the rat.” I said while pouring my coffee. “A Rat!!!” they all screamed, “there was a rat in the house.” The chorus of voices ran down the hall to their little room and tell their big sister, “Dad tried to shoot a rat last night, but he missed and hit the sliding glass door. It is all broke now.” All kinds of hoots and hollers came from their little bedroom.

Dad walked in the door and the kids crowded him, “How big was the rat, Dad? Why’d ya shoot the door, Dad? You broke the door; I thought you knew how to shoot.” “Weren’t you in the Army, Dad?” The questions were fast and furious, and the look of irritation grew on my husband’s face. He grumbled as he passed them and gently broke off the pieces from the door and cleaned up the mess.

“You guys, get away from him while he cleans up or you’ll get cut.” I ordered.

It was a slow morning; I was too tired to cook breakfast so I got some donuts. I told the shoot-out story to the kids while we ate them, and Francisco left for work.

The day went by typically, and the kids were in the backyard when I heard a commotion begin. I waited to see if it would die down or get worse. Emilio ran in the house and immediately went to the bookshelf and grabbed the BB gun.

“What are you doing with that?” I asked him. “Gracie has the rat, and I’m gonna shoot it.”

“What, what!!!” I squawked. “Wait, no one is gonna shoot that rat…..but me.” I took the rifle from Emilio and followed him out to the backyard.

The kids were excited, “Everyone get out of the way,” I ordered. Because of the construction work we were doing, the underneath of the house was fully exposed from the back side. From the backyard, you could see Gracie, our little black lab, slouching next to an unconscious rat under the floor.

“Did she kill it?” Emilio asked.

“I don’t think so; I think she just knocked him out.” “Are you gonna shoot it?”

“Yep, stay back and watch those babies.” I lifted the rifle and carefully aimed at the rat, and yes it was a big rat. In the line of vision, stood a very frightened Gracie.

“Get outta there Gracie.” I ordered and she eagerly fled.

I re-aimed, it was very quiet, and I steadied my arm. BING!!! PLUNK!!

“You hit it, you hit it!!” the kids all yelled.

“Do you think you killed it?” Elizabeth asked holding the hands of two toddlers.

“I’m not sure, but I will try again. Hold on to those babies, everybody stand back, I’m gonna shoot again.” I aimed again.

BING!! PLUNK!!

“You got him again, he’s gotta be dead now.”

I wasn’t so sure, and really didn’t what to do now. We pulled it out from under the house with a rake and tried to see if it was breathing. The roar of my husband’s van could be heard as he came around the corner. The kids dashed to meet him in the front of the house.

“Mom shot the rat!! Mom killed the rat!!” The kids were all talking at once.

Here was my chance to look like Annie Oakley, so I slung the rifle up on my shoulder and coolly sashayed out to meet my husband.

“What’s going on? Did you find the rat?” He asked, looking at me kind of funny.

“Oh, the rat,” I said calmly, “I shot that rat, and I didn’t miss.”

“Really, congratulations, Ma Barker.”

Dad finished the job and we stuck the rat in the donut box and threw it in the garbage.

THE END