Mothers Diary
I had a mild bit of fun at Ruth and Bill's expense when they filled our hallway with all their luggage before leaving about a month ago - so they would have enjoyed seeing the same hallway Monday noon as it filled up with the possessions of Nancy and Bruce.
Nancy and Bruce were leaving for Early and Yankton - not nearly as far as Australia, nor for nearly so long a time, but I tell you - all those hangers full of clothes, the suitcases, boxes, and bundles, a lamp, two typewriter tables and boxes of Kleenex, could keep them comfortably a year away from home if they had to stay that long.

And besides all that, Nancy was cherishing three eggs to put in her miniature hatchery in her school room. She had gone to considerable trouble to get those eggs, and she was not about to let anything happen to them. She and her pupils had been disappointed in the complete failure of the egg that had been sent with the hatchery deal. Nancy, her pupils and the parents had watched and tended that egg with loving care and nothing had happened.

But Nancy is not easily discouraged, and she finally ran down the proper kind of hatching eggs at the George Henn farm - and it seems this is not easy to do in December and January.
You'd think that ants and Indians and fish and 29 pupils would be enough in one school room and that she might have given up on eggs (and possible baby chicks), but she started off for Early, Monday noon with three eggs carefully wrapped against the cold. I wished her luck and shall wait with interest to see what happens.

We took the Christmas tree apart after they left, and dismantled the candle and greens arrangements and packed away the lights and baubles. We are always a bit reluctant to part with all the Christmas beauty and Becky wailed when we put away the tiny wink lights, so different and new this year.
But we had one last lovely fling with the candles. Dale and I collected all the tag ends of the red candles, assembled them in the center of the dining room table, and they made a glorious light for two more evenings. We recommend it for enchantment in the first cold nights of the year.

Steve took himself off Tuesday for California - so we are now back to three children and comparative calm and quiet. The house has begun to settle and shake itself down for the winter, and I shall have to likewise.

The evening of the first day of January, I blinked the holiday dust from my eyes and realized with some dismay that I had booked myself up pretty well with commitments. It is always easy to cheerfully answer yes to any requests in the December glow - but sometimes hard to fulfill in January's cold hard light.

(back to top)

Mothers Diary
We had a thank you letter from nephew, David, who closed on an anxious note.
"I hope you got through the holidays all right and didn't have anything go wrong," he worried.
I don't know if he was remembering troubles of the past years, or if he is just naturally pessimistic, but I wrote immediately to assure him that we got through the holidays in remarkably good shape this year.

There were one or two things, of course. Hardly worth mentioning.
For one thing, I made the grave error of giving each of the little girls a yarn doll to assemble and I did not know that it was a wad of yarn to untangle and wind and braid and cut instead of ready made pieces to put together. And I did not know that Steve would help untangle the yarn and get pink fuzz all over his black shirt and trousers and be unhappy. And I didn't know that the girls would persevere through the whole of Christmas Day and into the next to complete those silly dolls - and that I would wish I had never seen those boxes in the store.

There was yarn all over the place and we all got tired untangling it, and Becky lost one of the blue buttons supposed to be one of the doll's blue eyes, and Martha was pretty impatient because the finished product didn't look quite as professional as the picture on the box.
And it taught me one lesson - examine the contents of a box before I buy it.

But that was a minor incident. The big trouble during the holidays was addressing Christmas letters after Christmas, without our address book containing the Christmas list and addresses.
I looked high and low and in and around and under and on top of everything in the house. And if I had not done such a good job cleaning out drawers and shelves last summer and putting things away in an orderly and logical fashion, I might have found it.
Because I surely I must have put that address book away some place, neatly and securely - I just don't know where that's all!

We did get a partial list prepared anew, and blessed people who put return addresses and sent out some letters.
And I am still poking about in all sorts of odd places hoping to find the book. It could be in the same place the Christmas stockings are. We haven't found them yet either.
Perhaps everything will turn up by next Christmas!

Becky finally had a birthday party - or the equivalent thereof. I don't remember ever promising her a party in so many words, but either I did in a weak moment, or said "Yes, dear," to her absently when I thought I was saying yes to something less involve. I often get myself into trouble that way.
Anyway, along came the 21st - Becky's birthday and I couldn't be home all day so we settled that day for a cake and candles and Cynthia - and a definite promise of a party between Christmas and New Year's.
But that week turned out to be pretty busy, too, and Becky was about to leave home when I suggested that she bring all the brownies home the next Wednesday evening for their meeting and games, and yes, of course, I would bake the little teeny cup cakes!

I certainly wish I had bought more than one of those pans that bake bite size muffins and cakes. I hurried home from work Wednesday noon and started baking and it was quite a trick to grease and fill and bake, and empty and wash and grease and fill and bake four times in succession.
I was still frantically frosting cup cakes when thirteen Brownies streamed into the house with their leaders, Mrs. Benoit and Mrs. Schreier. So I was glad that they had their meeting first do I could get finished up in the kitchen before they were ready for cake and ice cream.
But it turned out to be a very rewarding experience. They were all so pleased with everything including Becky. And Mrs. Schreier and Mrs. Benoit and I had coffee cozily in the kitchen, while the Brownies had the living room to themselves.
The girls were so charming that I will probably invite them all down again - just for no reason at all!

(back to top)

Mothers Diary
I'm tired but I've had a lot of fun in the last few days trying to keep up with Manson speech activities. Of course, I think they've been over doing it a bit in the speech department lately with elimination contests, an invitational debate tournament and 3 one-act plays, all within a week's time.
I don't know how Mrs. Vetter feels about it by now – maybe she doesn't think it was a bit much, because all she was doing was coaching and directing and making arrangements and hunting judges and worrying.
But I was judging all those events – and judging is work!

At least, it is when you're a conscientious, and you're not really a judge at all. A real judge could certainly tell an eager, fresh faced youth that he did a poor job, if he did. But I can't. If I am sure he has worked very hard – and a judge can usually tell – I write him a cozy little note about what a fine reading it was and to try again. And then he wonders why he didn't win, naturally. It must be very confusing.
And a real judge would not lie awake the night before a contest worrying for fear she'd make a mistake and then be awake the night afterward, worrying because she was sure she had made mistakes.

The way I judge is by instinct. I can tell by how my backbone feels whether a student is really good or not, even if I don't know why or why not. But this is not the way to judge. So if Mrs. Vetter ever finds out how I do it, she will never ask me to officiate again!

If you were not able to see at least one round of the debates Saturday over at the Elementary school, you missed a rare opportunity. I keep wishing that parents and friends would go to the debate tournaments the way they go to basketball tournaments or football games.
Surely our athletic programs in our schools are fine ones, and deserve our support and they are fun.
But being a debate fan is just as exciting. Try it sometime and sit there with your mouth open in amazement at how much your teen-agers know about the workings of the United Nations.

We have had a wonderful opportunity at our house during the present crisis at the Georgia University, by having the paper from Atlanta in our home to read.
You would be surprised to discover the attitude of the Georgians as reflected in the stories, letters to the editor, columns and editorials.
"The shame of Georgia," was the general theme after last Wednesday evenings rioting.
And we cannot help but admire them, as the best minds in the churches, the legislature, the state government and the University battle to keep the school open in spite of their anguish of spirit as they are caught between their heritage of segregation – their sincere beliefs – and their determination to obey federal laws and preserve their educational institutions. These great people are praying that they will not be another Louisiana or Little Rock.

(back to top)

Mothers Diary
If there is anything that can give you the horrors, it is to have an unexpected weekend guest arrive at the precise moment when your upstairs is in as wild a mess as it's ever been. And to pile horror upon horror, the unexpected guest arrives after midnite when you are sleeping after a long day of creating the chaos that exists upstairs.

It happened to me last Thursday night and it was my own son who did it to me. And when Bruce aroused us to the surprise of his presence and announced that he had his friend, Bob Wood, with him, my first thought – foggy as I was, was the condition of the upstairs.
"Where are you going to put him?" I asked in anguish. "Everything is all disorganized up there."
"That's all right." Bruce said soothingly. "We'll find a place for him."
"You can put him in Nancy's bed," I decided. "If you can find it," I added sleepily.
"We'll be all right," said Bruce and then added comfortingly, "here is the letter I wrote to tell you we were coming. I didn't get it mailed."

They went upstairs and I reflected on the sight that would greet them – a hall piled high with boxes, curls of dust in the corners, and Nancy's tumbled bed and room that I was going to attend to the next day. And I thought dire thoughts of sons who brought perfect strangers to our house on a Thursday evening.
Friday evenings are all right – if I am home on Fridays and have a chance to give the house a swipe or two. But on Thursdays, if I am home, I have just gotten started and it can look worse than if I had let it alone – which was the case last Thursday.
I decided to go back to sleep, which was the only way I could think of to cope with the problem then.
And I did go to sleep, which I might not have, if I had known then what I found out later, that they had been as close as Fort Dodge at 7:00 p. m. before going to the basketball game. Because there are telephones in Ft. Dodge, and I would have had time to make up an extra bed at least.
But I didn'’t know this, so I had no extra cross to bear to keep me fumingly awake.

I would have been peaceful and relaxed, indeed; however, if I had known the strange, unexpected guest then, as well as we were to know him by Sunday afternoon. If disorder and hodge-podge meals were foreign to Bob, we never knew it – which makes a fine guest and a welcome one, and as soon as he found out where the coffee pot was, he was right at home.
He fought his way over the boxes in the hall without a single comment, and I don't believe I ever did explain to him why they were there. I just sneaked upstairs quietly during the afternoon and cleared things, and made up a fresh bed in Bruce's room, and slicked up Nancy's room in case he wanted to stay in there. I even smoothed out the bathroom rug, which doesn't look natural that way because it is either kicked in a rumpled heap under the lavatory or under the bathtub and it is my firm opinion that the children prefer it that way!

The reason the upstairs was in more than ordinary upheaval was because – well, it started this way -
I had been helping Martha and Becky clean their room, which included routing some junk to the playroom in the basement against their better judgment, and discarding a great deal of junk to the tune of their anguished protests, and trying to find a place for all the rest of the stuff that they cannot live without. After all the room is small, has no closet, and has but one lone corner cupboard for books.
It occurred to us that the room would be neater and easier to bear if it had built in shelves on every wall, but we decided that we could settle for a limited amount of shelving, or even a larger dresser, which wouldn't leave them much room to walk around in, but no matter.

So I mentioned the problem to my husband and he responded in typical male infuriating fashion by casually taking care of the whole dilemma in one sentence.
"Why don't you move them into Bruce's room?"
It was too simple an answer for me to think of, I guess.
Bruce's room was large, equipped with two beds, a long large table with two drawers, a metal book case, and best of all, a large closet, with shelves yet!

But do not imagine that I began the process of changing rooms lightly!
One does not change the habits of years without a bit of soul searching.
"Shall we move and surprise Bruce when he comes home?" Becky asked in great glee.
"No," I told her quickly. It was something we had to do, since it really didn't make sense to confine the girls in inadequate quarters while the big room across the hall remained empty for at least nine months of every year. But that had been Bruce's room for years!
"After all," I wrote to him, "you are here so little, and even when you are here, you aren't very much, if you know what I mean."

And we moved him out and moved the girls in. and I am still astonished at how little space his possessions take up in the little room, and at how crowded the big room looks already, with the girls and their innumerable books and trinkets, and dolls and games and stuffed animals, and bottles and purses and scarves and – well if you have a girl, you know what all!

The thing was, of course, that we weren't completely done when the boys arrived to spend the weekend. And that's why it still looked like a fire sale upstairs at that time.
Bruce accepted the change with good grace, and perhaps in time, he may become attached to his new little room.

Becky is not sure she is at times. Especially when I descended on them Sunday with the news that I had just looked in their room, and I was appalled – just absolutely appalled!
"There is absolutely no excuse," I told them heatedly. "You now have a place for everything and I expect everything to be put in its place. You go right upstairs -"
"I don't know," said Becky mournfully, "Maybe we should have stayed in the other room where we couldn't be blamed if things weren't put away. It wasn't our fault!"

(back to top)