Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Rent a Grandbaby Program?

Family watching television, c. 1958

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As nice girls, my sisters and I were taught not to brag–and we Spess girls learned the lesson well. We didn’t brag that we had the toughest jeans or most tangled hair.

 We never bragged that our dad was smartest or that our mom was prettiest (although they were!)

When we grew up and married, we didn’t brag about whose husband had the most hair or whose house had the fewest termites.

We didn’t even brag about our kids being sweetest/smartest/most athletic/had teeth at the youngest age or got potty trained the earliest. (Maybe because they weren’t/didn’t.)

But let me tell you, when grandkids start making the scene, there are no holds barred!

Here’s the deal–I have no grandchildren. Sister Lisa has one, Sister Cindy has two, and Sister Debbie has two.

Just yesterday I called Sister Lisa, and who did she let answer the phone? Her brilliant and beautiful soon-to-have-a-birthday grandson!


And yesterday, the same day, Sister Debbie played Grandmommie right in front of me.

That’s right, she had BOTH her granddaughters for the day. One is a two-year-old and the other ten months. Because she was having so much fun, Sister D invited me, Sister Amy and friend, Bev, over for lunch.

When we got there we walked in, the dog barked and scared the older granddaughter, who started crying. Sister Debbie was already holding one granddaughter, and picked up the other one. One granddaughter in each arm.

Is that shameless bragging or what?

And to make matters worse, both are beautiful and brilliant.

I wonder if there’s an adopt a grandbaby program I can get into? I want one!



Cover of "Father of the Bride (15th Anniv...

Cover via Amazon

What an absolutely perfect day I had yesterday!

A beautiful worship service with my Christian Sibs, then I had the absolute joy of doing something I never thought I’d get to do. I went with DIL2b to try on wedding dresses. I have to tell you, it was so much fun!

Besides my wedding dress, the only other wedding dress I’ve shopped for was Sister Amy’s. And I wasn’t with her when she found the one she ended up with. While we shopped with Amy, the owner of the shop turned on me–“Who do you work for?”

Since Mom and several sisters were there with Amy, I was a little suprised to be singled out. “Do what?”

“I want to know who you work for.”

“Professional Pharmacy in Pryor. Why do you ask?”

“Your comments and questions . . . you sound as if you work . . . .  She looked a little embarrassed. “The other bridal shops in town have women trying to shop us all the time to get our styles and prices. I thought you were one of them.”

“Mom owned a dress shop for years. I managed it for her, but we didn’t sell wedding dresses.”

“That’s why you know so much.” She went back to work, comforted that I wasn’t stealing her secrets.

Luckily, yesterday I didn’t have that problem.

We walked in to the shop a few minutes before our appointment (I had no idea you had to make an appointment to shop for wedding gowns!) and the assistant manager immediately greeted us. She asked Nikki (aka DIL2b) a few questions, then turned us over to a real sweetheart saleswoman.

This saleswoman took the list of dresses Nikki had found online and we got started.

They disappeared behind a wall of mirrors into a dressing room, and I watched the other shoppers. One group that got there before us had a mother, at least two sisters and a friend or two.

The bride of that group was a size 4. Tiny little thing with hair that came just below her shoulders. She was gorgeous, but there was something just a little off about her joy. I don’t know if they’d spent weeks going from bridal shop to bridal shop or if there was a little m/d friction.

This girl had on a dress that looked as if it were designed for her. Fit her perfectly from what I could tell, but she wasn’t happy with it and whipped on another. She had a tat in beautiful colors on her wrist and one on the back of her neck that had wings.

Not something I usually expect to see on a beautiful bride, but the world, she is a changing! LOL.

My DIL2b came out and looked at her first dress–something Cinderella would have worn. A beautiful crystal encrusted top, and a skirt with layer after layer of tull. We loved the top, but the skirt, not so much.

I just took pictures and told DIL#2 what I thought. And that was mostly, “I like that. That one’s nice.”

Nikki went back to try the second dress while I people watched some more. A trio of young women came in. This time the bride wasn’t trying on dresses. Her bridesmaids were. The girls weren’t built exactly alike, but they tried on similar dresses.

Something new (to me, at least) is the thing where bridesmaids don’t dress alike or even in the same color. I’m not sure what tied them together, except it looked as if they’d all have on street length dresses, and most likely will carry identical bouquets.

This bride hated any dress that was pink or peachy colored. No matter what silhouette or fabric, if the color grossed her out, she hated the dress and wouldn’t even consider it in other colors.

Nikki came out in her next dress. Again, the top was okay, but the skirt–meh. The saleslady showed her how the alterations lady could take off a couple of layers, but still, it left us luke warm.

DIL2b disappeared behind the mirrors again and I watched another bride come out dressed in white. The woman’s dress fit perfectly. The right length, everything! I soon found out she was picking it up, not just shopping. 

As I watched, the man with her went into the dressing room and closed the door behind him. Hm. Wedding coordinator? The closest I’ve been to a WC was watching Father of the Bride with Steve Martin. Martin Short was the WC (I think) and if this guy was a Martin-type-WC, I would have been happy.

But this guy was no movie WC. When he looked at the bride, I could see in his eyes that he cared deeply about her. If he was the WC, the Groom was in real trouble.

Then Nikki came out in THE DRESS. Thinking back, it seems I heard the angels sing when she stepped out. It fit her perfectly–once they pulled it up and clipped it. It made her waist disappear and her eyes sparkle. 

I adored it! Nikki loved it! I took pictures with my camera and my phone. I sent pictures to Nikki to forward to her mom (who couldn’t be there because she had to work). I also sent some to #4.

Sorry, I can’t post them here, but Middle Son might accidentally read my blog sometime before he gets married. And we do not want him to see the dress before hand.

We talked about trying on another dress or two, but in the end, she loved this one so much she wouldn’t take it off. Everyone–DIL2b, her MIL2b, the saleslady and assistant manager–everyone LOVED the dress.

As we finished up, I chatted with the other bride and her WC. Turns out he’s the groom. (Thank heaven! Some of those looks he gave her really worried me.)

He said, “I’m the groom.”

I answered, “Shut your eyes, quick! You aren’t supposed to see the dress before the wedding.”

“We aren’t doing much the traditional way,” he answered with a small smile.

His bride spoke up. “We aren’t from here and don’t have family close, so he’s had to  help me.”

That made me sad for her and her mother. They were missing so much they could never get back. 

“But I kind of wish we could have kept the dress a secret for our wedding day,” the man murmured.

That earned him an unhappy look. “Now you tell me!”

Hoping I hadn’t started a family fight before they became a fam, I said, “If it weren’t for the pictures, I doubt G-Man would remember what my dress looked like. That’s such an intense time, it’s hard to take in all the details.”

After that encounter, I was very happy to scurry out to the car. If there was a battle, we missed it! LOL.

We met the rest of the Shay Clan at Kilkenny’s for #1 son’s birthday dinner. As usual, we had a great time together. I’ll post pictures tomorrow. 

Better run. I’m late for work–as usual! Ü

Before I go, though, tell me about your wedding dress. (Or your bride’s.) Did you make it or have it made? One of the most beautiful wedding dresses I’ve seen was white velvet with pearl trim my college friend, Mina, had made for her wedding. Gorgeous!

Did you buy it? My SIL went all the way to Arkansas to get hers.

Did you shop around the world to find it?

Terminally Curious would love to know.

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I’m in Exodus–Not the Movie :)

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’m reading through the Bible in a year. I’m having a great time doing it. The plan we’re using comes from . Rather than reading straight through, we read a book in the Old Testament, then one in the new. And every day we read a chapter of Psalm or Proverbs.

Someone mentioned there’s a Chronological Bible, and a plan  to read through it in a year. Image, reading the entire Bible in the order in which it was written. I think it would give me a shiny, new perspective of the glories of our God!

Next I “met” a woman who was reading through in 90 days. Wow! Yes, there’s a plan for that, too. (What would we do without plans? LOL)

This is from Mom’s Tool Box (they sponsored the 90 day read).

Several years ago Ted Cooper, who is now a friend of mine, was happily Agnostic. But then his kids started asking questions. And he started to wonder. And he wanted to just put the whole thing to rest. So he decided to find the quickest, easiest way to find the answers to his questions and decided to read the whole Bible, cover to cover. He found an NIV thin line (fewest footnotes), counted the pages and divided by about 3 months. And off he read. And half-way through the Old Testament he became a Christian.

Imagine thinking that zipping through the Bible in 90 days would give him all the answers for his kids questions. <g> Instead, it introduced him to the Lord!


So back to my Bible read–I’ve read Genesis and Mark so far. (I’m not taking the days off like I’m supposed to. I’m saving them up for later. 😉  )

Now I’m reading Exodus. This morning it was chapters 1-4. I’ve studied this before in Old Testament History at Ozark. The professor was Bro. Bill Baker, and he had a contemporary way of teaching that I loved.

But I don’t remember him pointing out what an excuse-maker Moses was. That man came up with reason after reason as to why he couldn’t go back to Egypt and lead his people out of bondage.

He’d lead The Good Life as a prince of Egypt. He’d had it all–money, prestige, position. But he ran away after killing an Egyptian who was being mean to a Hebrew. When he did, he found a new home, married a daughter of a man who had no sons, and was treated like a son.

God blessed him over and over, and even spoke to him. Moses didn’t have to wonder, Is this God’s will for me? He knew it because God said, “This is what I want you to do.”

I like to think if I heard God’s actual voice, I’d do whatever He wanted. No ifs, ands or buts about it, while Moses used every excuse he could think of to get out of going.

Was it because he didn’t believe God? Naw. How could he not believe when God showed him miracle after miracle? I think it was because he was comfortable right where he was. He liked it there with his wife and sons and his wife’s family all around him. He had a job and a home and was very comfortable. What more could a guy want?

Maybe that’s why we don’t “hear” when God’s leading us. For a long time I’ve known there were some changes that needed to be made in my life, but I made excuses. Many more than we see recorded in Exodus. I liked where I was. I enjoyed what I was doing, etc.

I didn’t hear God’s voice from a burning bush. I didn’t have a staff that turned into a snake. (I did use a cane named John–John MyCane. Get it?–for a while, but it didn’t turn into a snake.) God didn’t make my hand leprous, and then clean again.

But God, in his way, convinced me. One day a stray thought hit me in the head. “You’ve been a Christian for X years. Are you doing what you should be? Are you where you should be?”

Uh, probably not.

Reading through the Bible in a year was one of my steps to where He wants me to be. This blog is another. SSMT (Memorizing a Bible verse two times a month) is yet another.

And wow! Life is amazing!!!


Rhyme a Crime?

Have you had much poetry in your life? I’m not sure every rhyme that has been part of my world should be designated “poetry” but I think of it that way. Ü

Nearly every morning when I was growing up, Grandmother and Granddad would come next door and chat with us while we had breakfast. I don’t remember how the habit got started, but we loved it.

Dad and Granddad would talk about work that needed to be done in the family business, Grandmother would catch up on what all the kids were doing and the kids would enjoy some grandparent time.

If it was summertime and one of us kids stumbled to the table a little late, Grandmother would quote,

“Good morning, Mary Sunshine! What made you wake so soon? You scared away the little stars And shined away the moon.”

A few years later when my #1 son was born, Mom used to quote a poem to him.

“Little Danny Donkey didn’t like to wash his ears. At breakfast every morning Danny’s mother sent him back to do his washing over ’cause his ears were simply black!

“They say he’s doing better now, and oh! I hope it’s true.”

Mom had trouble remembering one word in the last sentence–

“I’d hate to be so **** and so naughty, wouldn’t you?”

(If you know what that miss word is, please let me know.)

Dad had a couple of poems he’d quote to us. I planned to look up one but I can’t find it.

It started out, “Comanches on the hilltop, six trappers on the plain. A cut and a slash with our skinning knives and our saddle mules lie slain.”

That’s not perfect or I should be able to find it on Google. 😦 It’s by a man whose last name started with V. Vestre, I’m thinking. *sigh*

Dad used to “quote” (paraphrase would be a better term) another poem. When we were trying to get out the door to go some place (with six kids, it’s never easy to get everyone ready and out the door on time) he’d say,

“So lets be up and doing with a heart for any fate! Still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait!”

If we were in a real hurry, he’d shout,

Let’s be up and doing!”

I never really thought about where the quote (paraphrase) came from until a minister quoted from it at my mother’s funeral. (Actually, it was my mother’s, grandmother’s, aunt’s and two nieces’ funeral.)

Because this preacher wasn’t part of our household, I seriously doubt he knew Dad quoted the poem to us. I think it was one of those times when God was speaking to us. Reminding us that He was there when we were kids at home, He was there when the tragedy happened, and He is here, now.

It’s by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,–act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;–

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Long Fellow

What Dad “quoted”  was from poems he had to memorize as a kid. If I remember right, kids had to memorize so many lines before they could go from one grade to the next.

That isn’t part of the curriculum anymore. I have to wonder why, though. The memory is strengthened like a muscle. The more you do, the more you can do.

Sometimes we find the old ways are best. This might be one of those times. After all, Alzheimer’s Disease didn’t seem as rampant back then!





Snowing and Blowing

Snow tubers going down a hill.

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When you woke up this morning, did you look out and see a perfect blanket of white covering the world? If you live in north-east Oklahoma or southern Kansas, you could have.

What’s everyone’s first thought when they see that kind of weather? 

Kids usually think: Yaaay! Snow day!!!

Mamas: Oh, no. A snow day.

As a kid, I was lucky enough to have a mother who enjoyed snow as much as I did. We’d play out in it until we were wet all over from throwing it or rolling in it, then we’d run into the house with our teeth chattering and our lips blue. Mom would put dry clothes on us, dry our hair and give us hot chocolate to drink.

About the time we drained the last drop, we’d be warm and raring to go out again. And Mama always put dry clothes on us and let us go back out. She never complained or wished we’d stay inside. And more often than not, she’d find time to go out and play with us sometime during the day.

When I was growing up, we lived in C-Town where Kaw meets D Street. For two or three blocks, our neighborhood teamed with kids. We lived across the street from two boys named Mackey, who could throw really hard snowballs. Next door was the Lunsford Family, whose daughter, Susie, taught us to play Fox and Geese in the snow. She also showed us how to make snow angels. Mom voted down the angels because we got too wet, lying in the now.

Next door to her were the Williams kids. Across the street, the Paulsons and later, the Fergusons. Rommels. Summers. Allens. Bayouths. Lawrences. Hills. Browns. All the families had at least two children, and most three. (They were all pikers compared to Our Family. My folks ended up with six!)

On snow days, all the kids flocked outdoors to play together. We’d divide up and have snowball wars (not a lot of fun if you didn’t get one of the big guys on your team) or we’d build snowmen or go sledding.

After the grown ups wore our runners to nubbins and the highway patrol wouldn’t let us hook our sled behind cars anymore, our parents bought us a “real” sled, which really wasn’t as much fun. But if you want, you can read about that first sled in sleddy memories here.

 As I got older, I didn’t play outside in the snow as much. And the school didn’t give us a snow day if the roads were just a little slick. One of those days, Dad volunteered to drive me to school so he could teach me how to drive in the snow.

We drove around the corner on Kaw and along the curve of C Street, then turned up Cemetery Hill.

Dad’s advice? “Just keep it slow and steady. Don’t jerk the wheel or stomp on the gas. Always pump your brakes, never hit th–”

He stopped in the middle of what he was saying because just about that time, a car coming down the hill toward us turned sideways and starting sliding, taking up both lanes.

Dad pulled to the edge of our lane. And then, because the out-of-control car was heading right for us, he got over more. And then we went in the ditch.

I try to remind Dad about my snow driving lesson at least once a winter. 😉

A few years later when I was in college in Joplin, I got to try out my excellent snowy road driving lessons. The road in front of my dorm had a stop sign, then turned either up or down hill.

Trying to use those excellent lessons, I turned up hill and slowly pushed the gas. I got started, then the car (a ten-year-old 98 Oldsmobile) stopped going altogether. Next thing I knew, I was sliding backward.

I thought I was going down that long hill, so I jammed on the brakes. That did no good, so I yanked on the emergency brake. Absolutely nothing. I kept sliding,  just like a rock.

Thankfully, I ended up back almost where I’d started with my back tires against the curb. As soon as the glide ended, I threw open the door and bailed.  “Hateful car can just stay there until the spring thaw!” I wasn’t crying. I really wasn’t. 😉 

“Want me to move it for you?” one of the guys who lived in the dorm asked.

“Yeah. Or steal it if you want.”

He got inside, started it, put it in gear and without a single slip or slide, calmly drove it to the men’s dorm, where he parked it.

And that’s where it stayed until the spring thaw.

A couple of years after I left Ozark, I married G-Man. When we’d been married a few years, we decided to start our family. The due date for our first son was January 24th. That year we had nearly weekly snow storms.

I worked at my mother’s dress shop then, and felt good enough to keep on working. That last week the snow was so deep, Mom and G-Man both insisted I stay at home. (They might have been afraid I’d have my baby at Four Seasons if I kept working.)

We even stayed with Mom and Dad and my sibs who were still at home because the roads to the house where we lived were awful.

For some reason, when it snowed during my pregnancy, I craved popcorn, popped in oil, with butter.

That wouldn’t be so bad if I’d given it up after #1 was born, but to this day, for me the perfect snow day includes yummy, salty, buttery popcorn.

And if possible a Diet Dr. Pepper.  

Anybody with me on this one?