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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Life (06/15/06)

TITLE: Having the Time of Her Life
By Lisa Vest



Shelly jumped, startled by the loud noise, dropping the spoon dripping with brownie mix onto her just mopped kitchen floor.

“Oh, for cryin’ out loud, what’s going on in there?” Shelly yelled. She went to the family room to investigate the commotion.

As she entered the family room, her legs were taken out from under her by a big red fire engine. Fortunately, the playpen broke her fall, not to mention one of her fingernails.

”Ouch! she said, shaking her finger as she extracted her torso out of the playpen. “What is going on here?” she demanded of her sons.

“We’re playing Superman mommy!” seven year old Bradley answered sporting a wide, happy grin.

When Shelly surveyed the new landscape of her family room, she discovered that the couches and chairs had been stripped of their cushions and had been thrown into a big pile in the middle of the floor. Apparently, the boys were climbing to the top of the couch and soaring to new heights of superhero power before gravity demanded a crash landing, right onto the pile of cushions.

“Bradley Michael and Josiah David, you two clean up this mess this minute. Don’t you know I just spent all morning cleaning up this room? How would you like it if I knocked over something you’d just built with your legos?”

“That’d be cool Mom, it’d be like Godzilla invading the city!” laughed five year old Josiah.

Shelly rolled her eyes. “Boys, just clean up this mess, your dad will be home any minute!”

“Aaawww mom, do we hafta? We’re havin’ fun.” Bradley whined.

“Yes, and you both need to be quiet, Hannah is still napping. I don’t want you to wake your sister while I’m trying to fix dinner. I’m making the brownies that you guys wanted, so if you want dessert after dinner, then this room will have to be put back the way I had it!”

“Ok mommy,” the boys said in unison.

Shelly hurried back to the kitchen, this time, sidestepping the truck. She saw the chocolate splatter of brownie mix on her clean floor and groaned.
“When will I ever get to keep a clean house for more than 30 seconds?”


Shelly stretched as she awakened. Being careful not to wake her husband, she slipped her feet gently out of the bed and right into her efficiently placed slippers. She went to the bathroom where matching towels hung neatly on the towel rack. After showering and dressing, she opened the bathroom door to the smell of fresh brewed coffee, which delighted her senses.

Shelly headed for the kitchen. Flipping on the kitchen light, she paused to gaze at her perfectly spotless kitchen. No dirt on the floor. No dishes, cereal boxes, or crumbs on the counter. She got a mug and poured herself a cup of coffee.

Taking her coffee into the immaculate family room, Shelly sat down to have morning devotions. She opened her Bible to Proverbs 14. Her eyes fell on verse four: “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean. But much increase comes by the strength of the ox.” She looked around the room; every cushion in place, no books, jackets or toys littering the floor. No noise or commotion to interrupt her thoughts.

Shelly’s eyes were suddenly moist from the emotions welling up inside her. She knew she could paraphrase the verse to read, “Where no children are, the house is clean. But much joy and life comes from the energy and vitality of children.”

In their childhood, Bradley, Josiah, and Hannah had certainly managed to see that the “manger” didn’t stay clean for very long, but their lives had blessed Shelly in incalculable ways. Shelly had her clean house now, but somehow she still longed for the days when the sounds, the smells, the “messes” of life filled her home.

Shelly realized, that’s what life was all about; enjoying every moment, the good, the bad, the messy, the clean and then treasuring those memories. Shelly remembered that day when the boys were trying to “fly” like Superman. She laughed when she thought how upset she got over their messes. All that time she was in hurry for them to grow up so she could “get on with life”. Shelly shook her head and laughed as she tearfully stroked a photo of her grown children she kept in her Bible. Turned out she was having the time of her life all along.

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This article has been read 786 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie Wistrom06/22/06
How very true, we just need to recall scenes like more often and treasure them.
Jan Ackerson 06/23/06
As an empty-nester, I can certainly relate to the mood here...very aptly written.
Martin Strom06/23/06
This is great. My wife needs to read this. I'm going to go get her.
Rita Garcia06/25/06
I do look back on the days when our children were growing up, I did have the time of my life! They were so much fun, I really enjoyed their childhood years.
Sherry Wendling06/26/06
Terrific entry, Lisa! Your opening is a grabber, and your style here has lots of good forward motion, with a wonderfully clear voice throughout. (I really enjoy your tongue-in-cheek humor!)

If you're begging for a nitpick, you might go a bit easier on the adverbs in the second half...But nothing major at all.

Near the end, I could really feel her pangs of nostalgia (and which of us doesn't have them?) over the lost moments. And your final sentence is just right--very satisfying. Lovely work!
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/26/06
This is great. I only found 1 sentence with a problem and it is only a small typo. This is it:

"All that time she was in hurry for them to grow up so she could “get on with life."

I sure hope the italics work in this sentence.
dub W06/26/06
I am afraid some of the coded from Word or Works are simply destoying some of your sentences. A pretty good story, but disruptive with the code problems.
Jan Ross06/26/06
I agree with Dub -- the code problems are distracting. Next time try writing using Note Pad because it removes all the backend code that Word always puts in there. I normally use Word to write because it helps with spelling and sentence structure, etc, but copy it to Ntoe Pad and then copy it here to post. Aside from that, this was a delightful story. Good job! :)
T. F. Chezum06/27/06
I like the story. It is too bad about the code problems. Good job, though.
Trina Courtenay06/27/06
Lisa, code problems or not I shall remember you story everytime I trip over something.

Jen Davis06/27/06
This is a great story. Your dialogue flowed very naturally. Also, a wonderful reminder to enjoy every moment. Very well done.
Garnet Miller 06/27/06
There are times when we can't see the forest for the trees. I try to live in the moment with my children but it doesn't always work. Sometimes, I just want a clean house. Thank God that the Lord blesses me with enough of those priceless situations so that I can soak up all the fun and love my kids can dish out. Thanks for sharing.

The writing is good. Your ideas flowed well.
Shari Armstrong 06/28/06
A great way to put it all in perspective. Enjoy them while they are young :)
Sherry Wendling06/29/06
Hooray for you, Lisa! A well-deserved win. You're on your way up!
Jan Ross06/29/06
Wonderful! Congratulations! :)
Brenda Craig06/30/06
Ah, this made me cry, so sweet. My children are gone and I have my grandson, who I adopted, making all the messes he can. He is 8. This encourages me to be more appreciative of the life in my home. Congratulations!
Rachel Rudd 07/09/06
Wow! This is a wonderfully sweet story. I can so relate to the "clean house or let the kids be kids" problem.

CONGRATULATIONS on the win! I've been away for too long. Now, you're in advanced! Way to go!