Bullies Beware, Grandmother Patrols in Schools by Betty Mason Arthurs

Bedtime Bible Stories celebration 10.9.12

Bullies Beware, Grandmother Patrols in Schools by Betty Mason Arthurs

Maybe it’s time for schools to hang next to their signs, “Drug Free Zone,” a second sign which proclaims, “Grandmas on Patrol, No Bullying Allowed.”

Is anyone else sick and tired of hearing about children being harassed at school? I’m a grandmother of seven and ready to put Grandmother Peace Patrols in every school. We’d wear t-shirts saying, “Free Hugs for Kindness” on the front with the back saying, “You are Loved.” Yes, I know, it’s a simplistic solution when in this internet age bullies can hack into every aspect of your life and the lives of those you love. They secretly prey on the unsuspecting and love-starved people who are looking for love and affirmation in all the wrong places.

Have you had your sweet girl come home from kindergarten with a black eye? When you were five, did an older boy follow behind you and kick you all the way to school? Did a seventh grade teacher call you a “mama’s boy” and make fun of you? Did kids in sixth grade class make fun of your best friend and her outdated clothes?

Bullying is not a new phenomenon. All these above incidents happened to me and my husband in the 1950s and 60s and later in my children’s lives in the 1970s. Yes, my petite daughter came home with a black eye and when I called her teacher and asked, “Why didn’t you call me and tell me she got hit?” She laughed and said, “She cries all the time anyway so I didn’t pay any attention to her.” I called the boy’s mother. Her response was, “We teach our boys not to hit girls so I’m sure it wasn’t my son.” Really? My daughter saw my tears and felt my frustration at not being able to protect her.

A few years ago, one of my grandsons was bullied on the school bus by a neighbor and thankfully the school took action and the bully was kicked off the bus. Two weeks ago a seventh grade girl shared at our church women’s group. “I need prayer. I’m being bullied at school. One classmate keeps telling me that no one likes me.” We loved on this beautiful young lady and reassured her of our love. And yes, we continue to pray for her and the school.

What do you think of my idea of grandmothers patrolling school hallways? Do you think schools would welcome our help or resent our intrusion into their domain? Are you as a parent or grandparent a vital part of their lives so they can share with you ugly email messages or hideous Facebook posts about them? Do they talk about school and problems they’re having? Can we attend school board meetings and get involved in their discussions, checking out their response to bullying? One of my friends, a grandmother of eight, said, “I’m telling you, love-starved kids would line up for those grandma hugs. Yes, it’s about changing hearts, even the meanest ones, with love.”

Please, if you have tackled any bullying in your kids’ or grandkids’ lives and have been successful (or unsuccessful), tell us about your experience by commenting below. Let’s begin a dialogue about bullies and share ways to protect our beloved children.

Posted in Bullies, Doing Life Together, Finding solutions, Grandparenting, Kindness, School, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

What’s in a Name? by ARHuelsenbeck

Most parents agonize over what to name their precious babies. They recognize names are an important part of our identities. Your name influences others’ perceptions of you.


Pryce? Raynbo? Patch? Chester? Darth? Prissy?

As a child, I hated my name. It was too different. Most girls I knew had some variation of Mary in their names: Mary Clare, Mary Beth, Marianne, Mary Lou. My parents named me Andrea, after my father (Andreas). My middle name is Gabriela, after my father’s aunt (a Benedictine nun named Sister Gabriela).

During elementary school, I tried to train people to pronounce my name On-dray-ah. Instead, they reverted to Ann-dree-uh. When they remembered my name. Often, they called me Angela, Audrey, Adrienne. I learned to answer to any name that started with A.

In high school, desperate for a nickname, I introduced myself as Andie. People who met me between 1966 and 1973 still call me that. I dropped Andie when I married, because my husband, Greg, refused to use it. (That’s okay—I call him Gregory when I’m mad at him.)

We took care in selecting meaningful names for our children (not an easy feat when your last name is Huelsenbeck—what sounds good with Huelsenbeck?):

  • Our oldest daughter is Carly Anne. We loved the songs of Carly Simon, a popular vocalist when we were dating and first married. Her name was so different, so artsy. Anne or Marie sounded good as a middle name.
  • Our older son is Matthew Gregory. I used to think Matthew was kind of a hillbilly name, but I fell in love with it when John Denver wrote a song about his uncle Matthew. I wanted my son to have those same qualities Denver admired in his uncle. And his middle name honors my husband.
  • Our middle daughter is Erin Gabriela. There were two television characters at the time with the name Erin: one of the daughters on The Waltons, and the unseen, longed-for daughter back home of B.J. Hunnicutt on M.A.S.H. To me, the name symbolized someone cherished. The only problem was that it was unusual. In the 80s, few people were familiar with the name. Many mistook her for a boy named Aaron. And when she was in college, she dated a young man named Aaron. To keep the two of them sorted out, I began calling them Ay-ron and Ee-rin.
  • Our younger son is Andrew Wilfred. He’s named after my dad and Greg’s.

    Dad and Katie 2009

    Dad with my daughter Katie

  • Our youngest daughter is Katherine Cecelia, and she goes by Katie, because that was such a popular, cute name when we were expecting her. I would have named her Katie, but Greg insisted that since Katie is a nickname for Katherine, we had to name her Katherine. Cecelia is Greg’s mother’s middle name.

I think each of the kids has gone through a time they were embarrassed by their names. I told them when they were 21 they could get their names changed legally. (So far, nobody’s done it.)

When Matt was eleven, he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, and we joined a support group. As we walked into the meeting room, we filled out name tag stickers, and I went to talk with some of the moms while Matt hung out with the other kids. A mother asked me which child was mine, and I said, “The tall one with the blond hair.”

“Oh, Spencer?” she asked, pointing.

Yep. There was Matt, wearing a name tag that said Spencer.


When Andy was in middle school and high school (back in the days before we had cell phones), we often got phone calls for Diesel. Greg would say, “You have the wrong number,” and hang up. But actually, Diesel was Andy’s alter ego.

I remember as a teenager, I fantasized naming my daughters Cassandra and Vanessa. I chickened out when the time came.

We had a lot of back-up names picked out. Carly would have been Michael if she had been a boy. Katie would have been Alex. We used to joke that if we had four boys, they’d be John, Paul, George, and Ringo, or Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. At one time I wanted to name four girls Kathryn, Lauryn, Eryn, and Jaclyn.

I think we did a decent job of naming our kids.

Maybe we did better than a lot of parents. Sometimes I wonder what thought process people employ when they name their kids. Do they just cut letters out of the newspaper and put them together any which way? What were they thinking when they named their babies Dweezil or Apple, Draven or Moo, Suri or Lyric or Major? I had a student whose name was Z. That’s right, just the letter Z.

Carly, Matt, Erin, Andy, and Katie look pretty good to me.

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Parents are Recycled Life Forms by Betty Mason Arthurs

Titus, almost 3

Parents are Recycled Life Forms by Betty Mason Arthurs

Yes, my husband and I are now recycled. We’ve been collected, sorted, smashed and painfully reshaped by 47 years of parenthood. And we only raised two children. Now the seven grandkids are determined to help us, and their parents, change our nincompoop status into fine, upstanding old people.

Talk about recycling, our astute city is very happy with us because for years our family has fed used magazines, papers, cans, bottles, and toilet paper tubes to our blue dumpster. Thus my idea came for this post. Parenthood took us from the world of adulthood and recycled us, in my exalted opinion, into a confused daddy and mommy and grandparents.

I can confirm that the label stamped on the bottom of our feet after years of parenting:  “Made from biodegradable fuzz-brains and turbulent offspring.” None of our pre-child, God-given senses are intact, so help me God.


I now wear two hearing aids. Ear drums have been battered by the cries of colicky babies, 90,000 watts of 105.000 decibels of music and marching band. (Our son was a drummer and we lovingly gave him a drum set in his bedroom to further his music career.) Our daughter’s favorite music blasted NON-STOP from her room and her favorite song was “To Hell With the Devil!” by Stryper. Our grandchildren wonder why all we say is, “What?” “Huh?” and “Say again.”

I recommend since nerve damage is permanent, get the best hearing aid money can buy.


Your nostrils may be cauterized by years of smelly diapers, snotty tissues, soggy gym socks, sweaty shin guards, non-effective teen deodorant and science experiments left for months under the bed. Today the invasion of six grandsons, who are non-stop eating machines, cause the stinky garbage to pile up as high as South Mountain in Phoenix. We won’t mention the delicate subject of flatulence. Healthy food is yucky and thus gets thrown out.

I recommend saving money towards nasal transplants which should be available by 2022.


The kids are gone but you still crave cold pizza, combo-cheesy-greasy subs, and the Golden Arches flash neon yellow in your dreams:  “Burgers and fries, burgers and fries!” (Your thickly coated arteries scream back, “High cholesterol!”) The grands also love fast food but they have decided Pappy’s famous pasta (My husband’s claim to fame) is also yummy. And I make terrific yellow Jell-O.

I recommend you never miss renewing your monthly prescription of cholesterol fighting medication.


Your eyes are blood-shot and twitch after years of midnight correction duty for illegible term papers. Playing video games with your sons and daughters may have boosted fun relationships but you have blurry night vision and struggle to drive in the dark. When you peer at your grandson and call him by his sister’s name, you can’t admit you have failing eye sight. You must give him a Tootsie Pop to help him get over his offense.

Buy the best eye glasses insurance you can find.


Every nerve is on high alert in your aged body. Instead of baby viruses with sky-high fevers, rashes, and nasty allergies of a child, you have to focus numerous hideous medical problems that come with age. You can’t hide behind a sweet child’s ear infections anymore. You can offer to take your grandchild to the doctor but are you prepared to climb on top of them and hold them down for their examination and shots? It may get your mind off your medical issues but the adorable grandchild won’t let you touch him or speak to you until they want money for college.

Take care of yourself, go to the doctor and try not to throw a hissy fit when he prescribes a $100 a pill medication for your rash-causing anxiety disorder.

In spite of our impaired senses, John and I try to look on the bright side. Our children turned out peachy-keen, we have a few brain cells left and money for coffee. And we are having fun witnessing our seven grandchildren recycle their parents. The other day at a family birthday celebration, our son yelled to his three rambunctious sons, “Keep the noise down!” Our daughter’s three boys can clean out the food in the pantry and refrigerator in the record time of three hours. She hides food in far away places so she can make dinner. She’s still looking for the frozen chicken tenders she bought a month ago.

Yep, it’s recycled parenthood for our son and daughter and their spouses. Can you hear me laughing and enjoying all with my recycled senses?

What stories can you share about your recycling adventures?



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The Tides of Change

One of my favorite vacation places is the beach. There’s something soothing about the waves lapping the shore, the roar of the ocean, and the sun kissing my skin. The tide washes up new treasures every morning. It reminds me of the promise found in Lamentations 3:22-23 that assures me that God’s mercies are “new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”

Lanikai_beach,_Oahu_Hawaii by Vlachos


God’s faithfulness is as sure as the waves going out and coming back into the shore. The ebb and flow of the tide, the rising and falling, are all part of His craftsmanship. What is true of the ocean is also true about our lives.

The last few years have been a time of people washing in and out of my life. I was saddened when my nieces moved to Philadelphia from our sunny Arizona. I mourned as my daughter, son-in-law, and all six of my grandchildren moved out of state. Last month my youngest daughter also moved to the Pacific Northwest. And in November, my sister will journey to Seattle to start a new chapter in her life.

I’m sad. But there’s something deeply satisfying about watching my loved ones chase their dreams. I can’t begrudge their wandering. It’s like the ebb and flow of the ocean. It goes out and it comes back in. God is still faithful and His mercies are still new every morning.

Last May, the tide washed our oldest daughter and her family back into our state again. They live only ten luscious minutes away from us. We share meals, babysit, go on outings, and drink deeply from the well of abundant life. We are awaiting the birth of their eighth child any day. Their return makes the other good-byes easier to bear. Their two year absence makes these days even sweeter, like new seashells washed up on the shore.

The tide goes out and then comes back again. But it isn’t without blessings, whether coming or going.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV



Posted in change, Faithfulness, Family Life, Grief, Life Transitions, ocean, Uncategorized, When life seems too much | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Today I am Sad…But Not Without Hope

I am very sad. I know it will not always be so, but today, I am very sad.

My mother died one month ago. I miss her. She lived with us the last 20 years of her life. I was her caregiver for the last couple of years, and her friend as well as her daughter for many years before that. While still living in our home, she entered hospice care the first of May, so I knew the end was near. Still…

Mother was 91 when she passed, and suffered from dementia. Her short-term memory was gone, and even stories from the distant past were starting to get muddled, yet wisdom remained.

It was a joy to see then and is a joy to recall now.

One time while she was seated in her recliner, I asked if she wanted something to eat, which she almost always did. This time she said no. “Would you like something to drink?” I asked. Again, surprisingly, no. “Is there anything I can do for you?” I asked. She looked over at me and smiled.

“Rest your mind,” she replied.

So that’s what I am doing now. Resting my mind. Resting it from worry about her. She is safely in the care of Jesus, as she has been since a young girl. She has no need of medicine any more. She will never again be sick or sad or lonely.

Resting my mind about any regrets I may have…words I wish I had said or not said, things I wish I had done or not done. Accepting forgiveness. Granting forgiveness. Realizing God’s grace is sufficient.

Resting my mind from imagining too many “what ifs?” including wondering if my own future holds the same in store for me.

Watching my mother die both broke my heart and encouraged me. Because I saw the Lord faithfully fulfill His promise to my mother as she lived out Isaiah 46:4, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you,” I know it is possible to face the limitations and restrictions of old age with grace and strength.

On one of the last days she was lucid, I asked her for some of her best advice about life.

“Take each thing as it comes,” she said without hesitation.

And then just hours later I watched her follow her own advice as the hospice nurse told her she was going to install a catheter, now that Mother could no longer get out of bed.

“Well, I don’t know what I think about that,” Mother replied. I knew what she thought about it, and prayed she would remember her own wise words. Then I watched her calmly follow instructions, showing even then how to live with grace.

In those last days, I thanked her again for teaching me so many things, especially about Jesus and what a kind Savior He is, how loving and forgiving. “You taught me a lot of things, but that’s the most important of all.”

“It is in my opinion,” she responded.

“You loved people with the love of Jesus,” I recapped, remembering the stories of her life. “You forgave people. You didn’t treat them with rudeness even they were rude to you.”

“I loved people with the love of Jesus,” she repeated. And then she smiled.

She wanted to give a gift to my husband, her “son-in-love,” who would come into her room saying, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it,” (Psalm 118:24) which she quoted with him.

So she sang him a song, one which I recognized the chorus but not the verse. We looked up the words and my sister and I sang along with her, as she wanted, through our tears. “Just a Song at Twilight” was her parting gift.

My sweet little Mommy. I do not grieve as those who have no hope (I Thessalonians 4: 13) even as she taught me. I know I will see her again. I know she has heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23) And for that, I am thankful, even joyful.

It’s just that today I am very sad.


Posted in Aging, Alzheimer's, Bible, Caregiving, Christian Living, Death and Dying, Faith, Family Life, Family Stories, Forgivness, Gifts, Grace, Grief, Hope, Jesus, Kindness, Legacy, Life, Life Transitions, Love, Mom, Parenting, Regrets, rest, Teaching, Trust in God's promises | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

A Mother’s Olympics, Part Two, by Betty Mason Arthurs

Little boy and flags

Part Two:  A Mother’s Olympics by Betty Mason Arthurs

Elementary School Track and Field

Track and Field experience is a must to help mothers through elementary years. You pole vault them over the first day of school with cute lunches, cute outfits, and cute sneakers. After the first week of school, piles of homework take over the kitchen table. Planetary science projects make you race 1000 meters to gather supplies before the store closes. By this age your training in begging God for divine help wins you the shot put competition…heave ho.

A close friend told me the story of her struggle with her lazy fourth grade daughter. Peggy’s darling never brought school work home and no amount of discipline ever moved her to change. The teacher and Peggy hatched up a scheme. For a week Peggy sat behind her daughter in her classroom. Vanessa wasn’t embarrassed enough to change. Years later Peggy found out her daughter told classmates, “Mommy’s doing research.” Mother’s revenge is on the move since Vanessa now has three daughters.

Use your Gold Medal winnings to buy yourself designer glasses because after long sessions of helping with illegible homework, if your child brings it home, your eyesight is shot.

Middle School Volleyball

Get ready to volley through the ups and downs of mood swings, yours and theirs. Serve them unconditional love every day even as you drop them off a block away from school because you are an embarrassing mother. Train them to spike the ball and block every cruel comment made about them by their peers.

I’ve heard some parents have used extreme sports to train their tweens. “If you behave badly at school I will attend school with you wearing my bathrobe and plaid socks with slippers.” Add purple sponge curlers to the outfit. Better yet, drop them off at the school’s front door, jumping out to hug and kiss them goodbye. Trust me, this is really fun so I’ve heard and may be very effective in behavior modification. I did many stupid, funny things to my kids and they still speak to me.

You deserve three Gold Medals for just competing in the Middle School event.

High School 800 Meter Relay

You should no longer call your kids “children.” They are high school young people about to set out on the race of their lives. You must expertly pass them the coveted baton for driving, for selecting a career, for finding a job, choosing a college, and not choosing a college. Keep calm if they desire a career as a rock climber, sky diver, or alligator wrestler. You may want to go on a cruise and send them off to live in the swamps of Florida with your brother. Not really, but it’s a nice thought. You haven’t competed all these years in Mom Olympics to give up on your babies, excuse me, young persons.

I am donating all my Gold Medals in loving memory to my beloved parents since they deserve them more than I do. Today I wonder how did my parents, Willard and Lois, married in 1936, remain sane after raising three children? My husband and I only raised two, who are miraculously fine, outstanding citizens. We passed them the batons and after training us in the world of PCs, they compete in their own Father and Mother Olympics.

Grandmother Olympics

Today, thanks to my two offspring birthing seven children, I am in Grandmother Olympics. Grandson Trevor was in third grade and he asked me, “Wanna see my report, Gammy? Wait! Can you read cursive?” I was a nincompoop 46 years-ago with my first newborn and it’s come back to dissolve my Olympic aspirations. Trevor and my other grandchildren, are also helping me navigate through the maze of internet events such as Facebook, e-mails, X-box, Kindles, Wifi, Netflix, Amazon, etc., etc. But the thrill of victory is near with super intelligent athletes known as Gold Medal Grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Will you share some of your special motherhood Olympic events with me? Memories and the ability to laugh at them brings healing, don’t you think?






Posted in Babies, Children's MInistry, Christian Living, Doing Life Together, Life Transitions, Love, Teaching, Teenagers, Uncategorized, United States of America | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Mother’s Olympics by Betty Mason Arthurs


A Mother’s Olympics, Part One, by Betty Mason Arthurs

The 2016 Summer Olympics, held in Rio de Janeiro, captured the world’s attention as nations root for their favorite athletes. I’m exhausted just watching the competitions from my comfy couch.

There are exciting feats of men and women volleying, swimmers churning, gymnasts leaping, cyclists cycling, pole vaulters vaulting and other forms of athletic magnificence. Makes even a couch potato like me want to shout with the thrill of victory and groan with them through the agony in their feet. Foot problems I can relate to since I have suffered with arthritic feet for years.

However, I now have new insight after watching hours of the athletes in Rio. I am a proud participant of an overlooked prestigious event which I have named:  A Mother’s Olympics.

My husband and I raised two children, a daughter born in 1969 and son born in 1972.   (Note their photo above.) Against all odds and often in agony, we trained and competed in “Mom and Dad Olympics.” But most mothers affirm there is a more prestigious event, Mother’s Olympics. Here is a sampling of medal winning events forever etched in my aged brain.

Newborn Vault and Duck

I did a serious vault as a new mother and launched head over heels in love with a newborn after I heard their first cry. Then the serious training began. Or should I say, “learn as you go” feats are birthed through sleepless nights of soothing a colicky or feverish babe. (I must add my gratitude to the pacifier inventor, I never left home without it.).Quick reflexes are vital as you duck during diaper changing your son or so your baby girl doesn’t puke green slime down your favorite pink T-shirt.

I know of one mother, a true athletic hero, horrified over the dirty public restroom, but in desperate need to empty her bladder. She held her newborn, diaper bag and purse above the floor and completed her business in world record time. She saved her sweetie from virulent viruses. Did I mention, there was no toilet paper but she had a gum wrapper handy? Give her ten Gold Medals!

A new mother breathlessly grasps her medal as she jumps from being a nincompoop to a tender, loving newbie parent. It’s a shock when supernatural love and protectiveness for your precious baby surges like a geyser at Yellowstone from a selfless heart.

Toddler Balance and Wrestling

Now you enter a competition mothers fight to win; Balance Beam and Wrestling. Protect your parental sanity by never speaking “doctor” or “shot,” before hauling your darling to their checkups. You become a champion wrestler and balancing expert while maneuvering a kicking toddler out of a poopy diaper in a mall parking lot while wiping the bottom clean, all in the back seat of your stinky van. Just thirty minutes ago you twisted your toddler into the car seat. Please don’t cry. You drove too far to the mall to go home now. Push your pint-sized adult, while feeding them Cheerios, in their stroller to Macy’s for a motherhood escape among exotic perfumes.

Teaching this age is “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” lessons and drinking double shot espressos before starting the sport of potty training.  All around events also include coaxing Junior to try peas and other vitamin rich food, to take a nap, to enjoy bedtime rituals, and kindness. For me, by the toddler age, I have sung “Jesus Loves Me” for a million meter laps to create bedtime peace. And I thank the Carpenters and their 1970s music for soothing my mind through toddler shenanigans.

The Gold Medal is a mother’s award for the chaotic toddler balance beam and wrestling achievement.

Preschool Backstroke and Gymnastics

Several competitions encompass preschool events. I think it’s the gymnastic floor exercise and 100 meter backstroke. Mothers fly through the air, doing back flips to make them happy with PBJ sandwiches and carrots. You backstroke through the mall, searching for the Christmas present at the top of their list. Now you have to spell out “doctor,” “shots,” “ice cream,” and “candy” (a word of caution, some preschoolers can spell). You rattle the piggy bank to enroll your tiny best friends in YMCA soccer and gymnastic lessons. Hopefully your home is now a diaper-free zone. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Dr. Seuss for his creative books and to the TV producers of Sesame Street.

You are an awesome Gold Medalist, but turn that hunk of medal into cash to buy a million Legos. Hmm, maybe not, since they are perfect instruments of torture when you step on them in the night. Buy “Beanie Babies” instead.

Part Two…tomorrow

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