Sunday, December 03, 2017

Big Ben

Meet Big Ben. Here is our story...


When Bob and I were married, we had long conversations about our dreams. What kind of home we hoped to have someday. Bob wanted a home with a baby grand piano. I wanted a magnificent grandfather clock. And so we dreamed together.



When we purchased our first home, a townhome in Olney, we purchased some Ethan Allen furniture and a grandfather clock made to match the furniture collection we purchased. That was 21 years ago.



We’ve enjoyed the clock for all those years, and in that time we purchased a Yamaha Disklavier Baby Grand, soon after we moved to our home in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2005.



In the last 10 years, our son, Matthew, has made that piano his own, and has brought us all enormous joy with his incredible talent and gift for music.



Since our move to NC, our grandfather clock stopped working and we lost the key to the door. It has graced our foyer for 12 years, but we knew someday we’d get a nicer and more decorative and unique clock for our home. That day was November 30th.

That day was a difficult day all around, and to top it off, our son, Matthew, had his little finger on his left hand smashed in Theatre class at UNC Charlotte when a very heavy cart with several hundred pounds of lighting equipment came barreling at him. X-rays showed his bone in his little finger was split in half lengthwise. For a pianist, this was a disaster.

But, Matthew and our grandson, Glen, drove with Dad - aka Big Bear, to Macon, Georgia, 4-1/2 hours from Charlotte, where we purchased this magnificent Howard Miller Grandfather Clock from a lady who no longer had room for it since moving into a retirement community. Her sale was our gain. She had had this clock sitting in a dark corner of her garage for years collecting dust. She had posted it in Facebook Marketplace months ago.

I’m always looking for remarkable deals. But I won’t settle for junk. For several years, I’ve been searching Craig’s List, eBay, Local ads, and FB Marketplace for Grandfather Clocks. After a while, they all look the same. Seriously, I’ve learned an awful lot about Grandfather Clocks over the years, and have discovered that many are junk, the faces all look alike, and most lack character - much like the first one we got in 1995 at Ethan Allen.

Here I am searching for a clock through the hundreds listed online. I really wanted a Howard Miller. They are exceptional clocks and well made. But, I didn’t want one that looked like all the other clocks out there. It seemed like everywhere I looked I saw the same style clocks with the same gold face. I never expected to find “my” clock in an online marketplace like Facebook.



There he was. The most beautiful clock I had ever seen. The one I had only dreamed of for our home. A Howard Miller clock that was 8 feet tall!!!



A Longcase clock with the most beautiful face. When I looked at the price this lady was asking, I took a double-take, and immediately contacted her. On Thursday, Nov. 30th, my love, Big Bear, and our two boys, drove to Macon, Georgia, arriving at 10:45 last night. I was so nervous for them on this trip I literally clipped off all my fingernails with the nippers and at one point started crying and praying for their safety, feeling enormously guilty that they were driving all that way for a clock!! I said in prayer, quite profoundly, “I could care less for that clock!! Just bring my boys home safely Lord. Nothing is more important than my boys.” Well, the good Lord listened, and brought them home safely - with the clock. They got home at 4 o’clock in the morning.



Finally able to sleep soundly knowing they were all tucked safely in bed - snoring - we all slept. This morning, they got up and brought the clock inside and set him in place. Wow. Just Wow. He (Big Ben) is a remarkable clock. And he looks quite grand in our foyer.

Big Ben is cherry wood. The antique dial showcases a painted ship scene and gold and green flowers in the corners. It is weight driven and plays Westminster chimes that can be silenced at night. Big Ben is a little over 8 feet tall. In the clock were all the papers that came with the clock when it was originally purchased. The clock, according to the Howard Miller papers, is called “The Heritage” and is their tallest clock to date at 8ft 4in tall.

And here he is standing proudly in our foyer. I better not tell you what we paid for Big Ben. You’ll drop your jaw in disbelief!! Even I am left scratching my head in disbelief. Thank you Facebook Marketplace and my wonderful, amazing boys for their endurance in bringing Big Ben home.

The next day, we had a clock repairman come to our home and he fixed the clock.  He checked all the mechanisms and added the weights and pendulum.  Now, we can honestly say that those first dreams we shared came true, and in the 25 years since we first married, Bob and I have made many memories, raised the most wonderful children, built a home and family together, suffered some setbacks and tragedies, and come through stronger. 

Making a home takes time.  Enjoy the journey.



Friday, October 27, 2017

Educating our Children for a Powerful Life


War on Boys?



(St. Timothy's Middle School, Raleigh, NC)

The video at the bottom of this post is interesting. I’m almost laughing about this though. Not too long ago, the complaints were clearly about our education system being entirely geared towards boys, not girls, and that girls were not being given the same opportunities as boys, especially in science and math.

Boys were thriving and girls were languishing behind. We changed the structure of our education system to include and nurture female students, and as a result, girls have thrived and grown in their academic reach while boys lag behind.



Matthew studying for a homeschooling test

So, where is the balance? Good question!! As for me, I was blessed to have had the opportunity to homeschool my children until the 9th grade, at which point, we placed them in high school. Why high school you ask? 



High School graduation - Matthew 2015 - Sarah 2012

Well, one thing for sure is that we were living in a great school district in Weddington, North Carolina and had one of the best high schools in the state.  But that wasn't the most important reasoning for us.  We wanted our children to experience high school.  The friends, the football games, the clubs, the honors, the proms, the field trips, and the graduation with their peers.  We wanted them to experience the whole package.  And they did.  They were also ready to face the challenge at that time of a more social academic setting and had developed great study skills to succeed.  And succeed they did.



Matthew playing Army with his best sidekick, Adolf

It was the best decision I ever made! While homeschooling, I focused each of my children on the general subjects that mattered - reading, writing, grammar, science, social studies, English, literature, history, music, and art. But I also let them choose other things they were interested in to study along the way. For Matthew, that was astronomy, history in general,  and WWII. He was fascinated by these subjects, and I encouraged him to learn more about them. To this day, he is still very fascinated with these subjects, and other than some editing, he has written two very powerful books on WWII. He just needs to finish them so we can submit them for publication!!  They really are great stories!!



Sarah and her books ... her favorite gifts of all

Sarah honed in on all things piano and biology for a while, but got tired of it. She loved Sarah Desson books and reading became her favorite pastime. Take her to Barnes and Noble and she’s a kid in a candy store!! To this day, she may walk into a book store empty handed, but will surely walk out with at least 3-7 books covering a lot of different subjects.



Sarah has a beautiful voice singing unto the Lord!

Sarah also loved church early on, and loved going to Sunday school and singing in the choir. She loved participating in church excursions and activities and reading the Bible.



Sarah realizing that Chemistry is a drag

So, after she started college on a medical studies track, it was not surprising, really, when she felt strongly about her calling to serve the Lord. Boy, did she hate Chemistry!! 



"God is within her, she will not fail"

She changed her major(s) to Religious Studies and Psychology, and graduated with Honors and two degrees from Appalachian State.



Wake Forest University College of Divinity

She got a full ride to Wake Forest University and just began her Masters in Divinity classes after she married this past May.



Selfie with Sarah!

Could I be a more proud parent? No, I don’t think so. As my children grow and thrive doing the things they love, and studying subjects they are passionate about, all the while ... while developing their love for music, art, calligraphy, and writing ... what’s there to complain about? Well, maybe Xbox. LOL.

Still, I believe, in this country, our classrooms are too large. I believe our teachers are underpaid and overworked. I believe it is difficult for our teachers to take a personal interest in but a few of their students at any one time. It’s a tough job!



Sarah, Matthew, and Glen on their way to church

I understand homeschooling is not possible for all. I was able to be home with my kids, and I loved it! Those years were the best for me! And for my kids too! Nothing made me happier than to teach my child something in multiple ways until they “got it.” Experiencing that lightbulb moment with them was awesome.  It also enabled me to protect them from the torrent of bullying and jealousy and backstabbing that goes on in every school.  My kids actually grew up joyful!!  Go figure! 



Glen playing Star Wars and Army games with Matthew and Hannah pup

That said, and thank you for reading my post here, I see the urgent need for our children’s education to be more individual centric. That’s tough, if not entirely impossible to accomplish in today's public and private school systems.  Parents are just not as involved with their children’s education and interests, I believe, as they should be.



Brothers Billy and Mike trying not to miss the school bus

My own parents just sent me and my brothers off to school, washed our clothes, cooked our meals, and signed me up for a few ballet, baton, and piano classes; but, they never really took the time to understand what made each of us really happy, and what we loved to do more than anything else. My brother, Mike, for instance ... he loves cartooning.  His cartoons are hilarious!  He would have made a great newspaper columnist or cartoonist.  Billy, I honestly don't know what he loved to do.  He enjoyed finance, but that was his job, not his passion. You all know what my passion has always been, right?!! Art and sewing and writing!!! I wish I had been more academically and personally nurtured, and not just “raised” if you know what I mean. I did, however, have a good childhood and parents I loved and who loved me.  Do any of us really know how to raise a child?  I got better with each child I think. 




My take on this video - nurture your sons and “their” interests at home. Nurture your daughter’s and “their” interests at home too. Don’t leave their education, academic and personal interests to be the sole responsibility of our schools! That’s not fair!!

Our children can change the world! Let them discover who they are, and what they love. We, as parents, need to love them enough to pay attention.






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