Gate in winter. Art by Mary Shepherd for her Stubby Mule story.

Gate in winter. Art by Mary Shepherd for her story, “Stubby The Stubborn Missouri Mule”

Gated doorway to Bent's Fort in Colorado. (This photograph by Jim Warner; all others by Marylin Warner)

Gated doorway to Bent’s Fort in Colorado. (This photograph by Jim Warner; all others in this post by Marylin Warner)

For your information, the original Roman year had 10 months. Somewhere around 700 BC, Januarius and Februirus were added.  January’s Latin name, Janus, was for Roman Mythology’s guardian of gates and doorways. With two faces looking in opposite directions, Janus could see both forward and backward, and was protector in time of war.

So far in 2014, no state’s “first baby born” has been named Janus.

However, here are the names of “first babies born” in several states in America:

~ “Brooklyn” was the name of the first baby born in both Colorado and Maryland.  ~”Prantison” was the first baby born in Hawaii, ~ “Dior” in Connecticut, ~“Nash” in Iowa, ~“Layla Rose” in North Dakota, ~“Zane” in Texas, and ~ “Nathyn” in Oregon.   I wonder if the popular baby names in the UK will include one or more of the names of the baby of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge: George Alexander Louis.

In the coming week, one day offers you three “special day” choices.  Monday, January 13th, is “Make Your Dreams Come True Day,” so if you have special dreams and hopes, this is the day to take steps to make them come true. Monday is also the ever-popular “Blame Someone Else Day” (probably no explanation is necessary), and for the “doubting Thomas” cynics, January 13th is also “International Skeptics Day.”

When I visit my mom, I often read aloud the posts I’ve written for “her” blog, and also some of the comments. They don’t really register through her dementia, but she’ll smile and nod, or ask questions like, “Do we know them?”

This next FYI is one I’m very glad my mother doesn’t–and won’t ever–understand.

Last week a video went viral. A 2-year-old toddler in diapers walks around a tipped over chair (in a kitchen probably), learning to curse, cuss and repeat offensive words, phrases and gestures. As many as three adults off camera coach the little boy by saying the words and having him repeat them.  Omaha, Nebraska Child Protective Services placed the boy and three other children in protective custody, not for what the child was being taught, but for additional concerns they had when they went to the house.

As a devoted mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, teacher and CASA volunteer, my mom would have been heart sick to watch this video.

Writer T.F. Hodge said, “ What you do teaches faster, and has a lasting impression, far beyond what you say.”  For music lovers, read again the lyrics of “You Have To Be Carefully Taught” from SOUTH PACIFIC.

In 2014, and every year, we need to remember the message printed at the base of our vehicles’ exterior rear-view mirrors: “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.”   As we look forward to new years and fresh starts, we need to also remember that what we leave behind us–and the good or the bad it does–remains closer than we realize.

"Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear"

“Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”


Building a good gate is as important as building a good fence. Also, children imitate good things their taught...

Building a good gate is as important as building a good fence. Also, children imitate good things they’re taught…



Filed under Different kinds of homes, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, making a difference, special quotations

60 responses to “FYI ~ JANUARY

  1. Don

    Great post, Marylin. It’s hard to grasp how anyone can do what you described with that child. It really just goes beyond me. I suppose we would understand it a little better if we saw and understood something of the history of those who were doing. It boggles the mind.

    I like the way you read your posts to your Mom – such a loving gesture.

    • My mother would have said the same thing, Don. She thought abuse was a repetition of learned behavior, but she also always wanted to rescue the children caught in the cycle and protect them.
      Just when I think it isn’t any use to read to my mom, she’ll look up at me and say I should read something. So I do. You just never know.

  2. We have had a similar video circulated here but of a nine year old in a drunken state; I have not seen either video but it is a great sadness when these things happen.

  3. Very thought-provoking post Marylin. Firstly, I adore your mom’s drawing of ‘Stubby’, absolutely priceless!
    Secondly, judging by the huge rise in popularity of the names ‘William’ and ‘Harry’ here I’m sure that we will see many ‘Georges’ to come! Up until now, however, the name George is usually associated with the post-war generation.
    Thirdly, I am absolutely horrified by what this video portrays and weep for that little boy. What kind of legacy is being left behind for him? I am so angry and incensed. We read over here so many stories of famiy dysfunction and social services missing yet another situation that so often results in tragedy. I wonder how many times children such as this toddler are saved and given a chance to escape and be given the love, care and nurturing to see them through life?
    In feeling so helpless in these situations, it is ever more timely that we be reminded that we need to be careful of the legacy that we are leaving behind in our own lives as a way to redress the balance, so I thank you for all that you share here Marylin and for that very important reminder.

    • Excellent comments, Sherri. We all leave legacies and sometimes aren’t aware of what they are! The children in the Nebraska house were taken into protective care, but not because of what was on the video, which was offensive and undesirable, but apparently not illegal. ;( They were taken out of the house for other things, but no details were given.
      The picture of “Stubby” is one of my favorites. My mother painted it with basic water colors on inexpensive craft paper. I love the effect!

      • ‘Yes, very true point Marylin! As you say in your excellent analogy, ‘objects may appear closer than they appear’!!
        I’m glad that the children were taken into care, but as you say, it is shocking that more can’t be done to protect these innocents from what surely must be considered abuse as in this situation. Just horrendous.
        ‘Stubby’ is absolutely adorable, I love the water colour effect and I love him 🙂

      • It’s amazing how something you read on a rearview mirror all the time suddenly takes on new meaning!

  4. The “Stubby” artwork is lovely. Excellent and thought provoking post Marylin.
    I love the rear view mirror idea. I’ll have to think about that for a while.

  5. That’s terrible about the toddler. Like your mother, I get distressed when I hear or read about things like that, just as I’m sure most mothers do. On a happier note, my husband’s birthday is on Monday the 13th, so he’ll be happy to know it’s “Make Your Dreams Come True Day.” 🙂

    • And if he doesn’t get what he wants for his birthday, Carrie, he can blame someone else! It’s a multi-use kind of day!
      But I lean toward the “Make Your Dreams Come True” use on Monday, too!

  6. Marylin! Fabulous post! I love the FYI introduction and the inclusion of history with current events. I have thankfully not seen the video of the toddler. How disheartening. It breaks my heart that there are people in the world who find humor in tainting, even warping the morality and hearts of children. What is our society going to come to? It is frightening to think about. I find great joy in your posts and the life lessons and reminders you bring forth. Thank you for that. And special kudos on the review mirror concept – brilliant! Much love, Robyn

    • Oh, thank you so much, Robyn. There were so many things I wanted to use for early January, so I tried to weave them together somehow. Then I saw the video and my heart sank. As I said in the post, this is one thing I’m glad my mother’s dementia will keep her from understanding.
      The kudos on the rear view mirror concept are much appreciated!

  7. What might seem amusing to some when a child is very little, is often considered – by the same people who fostered this behavior – to be obnoxious and objectionable by the time the child becomes a teen. Or, at least, I’d like to think so.

    Much of your post hits home with me, Marilyn. I remember singing bits of the song from “South Pacific” when I was younger. It’s so true.

    As for the 3 days to celebrate this month, I’m in for all of them except the “International Skeptics Day.” I’m a little suspicious/cynical about that one. 😉

    • I knew I could count on you to be suspicious of the “International Skeptics Day,” Judy! It is a strange combination of possibilities for the same day.
      In 4th or 5th grade, we learned to sing the song “You Have To Be Carefully Taught,” and I’ve never forgotten it.

  8. Marylin, what a horrible parents! I am relieved to hear the authorities stepped in. And I am glad your mom wouldn’t have to learn of this.
    I’ll end on a postive note and tell you I LOVED her stubborn mule artwork. Will you be sharing her story that goes with the art? I hope so! 🙂

    • Thanks, Tracy.
      I did share it, but it was more than a year ago, before we “met” online. I’ll do it again. It’s a terrific little story Mom wrote, and she also water colored all the pictures, too.

  9. Good Morning. Snow melted, sun out this morning here. Your blog was a nice mix of both sides of the coin today…a new year with lots of different angles. As I age, I get tired of the bizarre; I have seen it so much I guess. Just this morning I was trying to tell hubby how I feel disconnected to much to the world, but not sure I want to be connected to the kinds of people in the viral video!!!

    Make your dreams day…ah, I am working on it as I am finally writing again.Wow, no one else might like my story but I do! 🙂 Love the picture of Bent’s Fort. Wanted to go there so much! Finally made it once but would like to go again. I remember it as being way out away from town or housing developments. I wanted to stand and listen to the land…but I had two little boys with me!

    • Yep, two little boys would make it hard to stand and listen to the land, or anything else, Claudia. 😉 Bent’s Fort is out away from things, but worth the travel.
      I’m so glad you’re writing again, Claudia. Whether others will like our stories is secondary; what they do for us is primary. Keep it up!

  10. Haha, I wonder if the ‘blame someone else day’ comes into its own if your dreams don’t come true on that day…
    The top three names for girls in the UK at the moment are apparently: Olivia, Emily and Sophia. For boys they are Oliver, Jack and Charlie.
    Sadly, I don’t think that video is an isolated case and certainly not exclusive to America. It seems that now, more than ever before, the need for (compulsory) parenting classes is paramount.
    Marylin – that picture of Stubby the Mule is wonderful. It would make a fabulous Christmas card. How talented your Mom is.

    • That was my first reaction to January 13th’s choices, Jenny; then I realized I was being cynical. 😉
      Oh, I love the top three girls’ and boys’ names in the UK, Jenny. We’re still into names like North, Apple, or Krimson Tyde (the parents were big Alabama football fans.) Yet teaching h.s. for 30 years taught me that simple, strong names and quirky, different names can both produce great kids, and I never much cared for my own name.
      A Christmas card with Stubby on the front–that’s a great idea! Mom’s water color pictures for her story were all charming, but Stubby at the gate is my favorite.

  11. juliabarrett

    Damn. Omaha. My mother’s home town. I’m going to remember Monday– I’ll blame someone else when my dreams don’t come true. 😉

  12. I love the painting of Stubby, he looks so content. I agree with Jenny, what a great Christmas card it would make!
    I always enjoy hearing what the most popular babies name are. Brooklyn must be near the top, as I know 3 people who’ve given that name to their daughter in the past few weeks.
    As for the video of the toddler that went viral, stories like that make me long for the days before the internet. We recently had a case here in Charlotte where a foster child was handcuffed to the front porch with a dead chicken around his neck. The most disturbing part was that the foster mother was a social worker with DSS.

  13. And what’s most disturbing about that for me, Jill, is that the foster mother was a social worker with DSS, the very people entrusted to protect children. I don’t know what the answer is; we’re in real trouble.
    So, like you, I’ll enjoy Stubby pictures and all the new babies names Brooklyn in 2014, and on Monday I’ll try to make a dream come true.

  14. Life and Other Turbulence

    Great post. Horrific video…seen it on many news stations now. CNN reported that the 16 year old mother told them: “He had a clean diaper, the house was clean and like they said, kids curse, every kid does it.” A stunning response, and representative of a growing culture that’s clearly turned a corner and lost the values of dignity, respect and responsible parenting. Heartbreaking in every way.

    • Thanks for that update. The last report I saw said Child Protective Services did not remove the children for what was said and done of the video, but for other concerning things they saw in the house. Now the young mother’s comment makes it even more of a concern. It’s just the tip of the iceberg that floats everywhere, I’m afraid. Thanks for your comment.

  15. As a long-time Family Law attorney and one who was on a teaching staff for a graduate course in Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect for years, I have great appreciation for what CASA workers do. They are sometimes the one constant in the life of a very troubled child. Please tell your mother that I said thank-you for the service she provided.

    • I’ll tell her, Shel, though her dementia will keep her from understanding or retaining the information. But her grandchildren and great-grandchildren will read these posts and comments and know that she was a great advocate of children, and she made a difference.
      Thank you for your comment.

  16. I know someone whose birthday is on the 13th, who will be delighted by this weird little mixture of things to celebrate/honor. Thanks for giving me something interesting to write in his card! 🙂

    • What a great list of choices he’ll have, depending on how he feels about birthdays! Just think how this “special” day will be in two more years when it falls on Friday the 13th! 😉

      • That would make it the quirkiest day for a birthday of the whole year, even weirder than having a Birthday on Halloween.

        I’m supposed to be shopping for a birthday present right now–but I got distracted. One of the perils of shopping online. You think it’s more convenient, but really, it’s fraught with all kinds of traps that can while away hours. 😉

  17. I don’t want to even think about people who think it’s amusing to misuse toddlers for their prurient entertainment. Heartbreaking.

    • I know, Tracy. A friend answered this in an email rather than comment box. She didn’t know whether to tell the adults in the house to “Get a job,” or “Get a life,” or tell them to “Get away from children.” Maybe all three.
      That video has elicited many responses.

  18. “Gate in Winter” is a wonderful painting. Blessings to your mother, you and family. Always interested to read your posts. Ellen

  19. I didn’t know today was “Make Your Dreams Come True Day.” I guess I’d better get back to my novel, which is the dream I’m hoping will come true.

  20. jakesprinter

    Thanks for this wonderful article and information Mary, Wish your Dream come true this year 🙂

  21. I manage a group of libraries here Marylin and our biggest numbers of incidents by far are verbal abuse of the staff – almost always young people. Not because the young people are necessarily bad in themselves, but because to them, the language they use is just normal – as are so many other dysfunctional things. I’m in my early forties and things have changed so much in the period of time since I left school that you wonder how much they’ll change in the future.
    But ending on a positive, I also love Stubby the mule!

    • In the 30 years I taught h.s. English, literature and speech, I saw the acceptable language pendulum swing back and forth numerous times. It was almost predictable that the worse the language, the worse the behavior. Imagine if we have a generation of adults coaching and coaxing toddlers to talk, backtalk and gesture the way they did in the video.
      You’re right, Andrea; let’s focus on Stubby! 😉

  22. Diana Stevan

    More food for thought, Marylin. Like that you suggested getting the lyrics to that great song in South Pacific. So true, children soak up what we feed them. The bad often sticks more than the good. Got a chuckle out of you sharing how you read your blog and comments to your mother, and how she’ll say, “Do we know those people?” Like that. I think the elderly and children have that in common: honesty,

    • It’s especially cute with my mom, Diana. Because of her dementia, she is also asking “Do we know them?” after I’ve read the blogs that contain her own poems or essays. She doesn’t remember herself.
      But you’re right, on her own level of discernment, she’s like a child and very honest.

  23. There is so much good that can be done with the technology available to us today. Unfortunately, there is also so much bad, as you point out here. Ugh.

  24. Making a dream come true … I want to do this every single day.

  25. “Gate in winter” is just too adorable! Watercolor is such a beautiful, yet difficult, medium to master. But, I think your Mom did an outstanding job.
    Great job of weaving such varied content together in a single post Marylin. Love reading your blog as I always learn something. The knowledge you impart–and the good it does–remains closer than you realize Marylin. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much. And what I think makes my mom’s watercolor gate picture even more impressive is that she was using children’s water colors, the little tray with 10 ovals of color. She dipped the brush in water and then painted her pictures on practice paper. Isn’t that great?!!

  26. Molly

    A wonderful way to remember that there IS a silver linning to every cloud — Grandma doesn’t know about this situation – or the horrible ones similar to it!!

    • No kidding, Molly. Grandma would be very sad if she heard about and understood about many of the things going on today.
      Instead, we’ll have Grace and Gannon draw her pictures and give her hugs. She won’t remember her great-grandchildren, but she’ll know that whoever these children are, they’re happy and wonderful and loving.

  27. Dear Marylin, I agree with you the full 100% on child education and role modelling.

    I can picture you sitting next to your mother, reading to her and she agreeing to it all, obviously loving the attention and love packed in words, sentences and paragraphs.
    Do you sometimes sing children’s songs with your mother? I recently read that in dementia the oldest parts of the memory, that of the childhood, fades last. For some people with dementia this means that, although the have lost their recent memory, their long term memory of the deep past, is still there.

    I wish you and your mum all the best. You are a sweet and good daughter.
    Kindest greetings from Paula (Netherlands)

    • Thank you so much, Paula. It’s a treat to hear from the Netherlands, and I hope you’ll join us again!
      Yes, I do sing to my mom the same songs she sang to me while I was growing up. It’s amazing that even though she might not remember names and faces now, she’ll connect with the songs and happily sing along. She also sings along to the hymns from their little Brethren Church, and often as we’re sitting together, just talking or watching something on TV, she’ll break into “Jesus Loves Me.” We’ll sing it together again and again. She’ll nod off but keep humming it in her sleep.

      • How sweet to hear that. I can see that although it must be hard at times to see your mother being affected by dementia, there are still many wonderful moments to cherish. I send you greetings and admiration.

  28. Such interesting information you share here. The story of January’s name…I’ve asked myself a lot of questions, but interestingly I don’t remember asking the Why? to its name. Thank you for asking, reading on and sharing with us.
    “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.” This is something so close to us, that we see everyday and I love your take on it.
    Thank you for sharing your time with your mother with us. Very thought provoking. And I’m so glad she never saw that video…me either…I wouldn’t be able to bear to watch.
    Thank you for stopping by my site yesterday. So nice to meet you.

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