But I Helped!


If you were an elementary school student (or parent) in California, I have three words that will bring back memories for you: Fourth-grade missions. And if you don’t live in California, fourth grade is when you study California history.

Fourth grade was over twenty years ago so I don’t remember much other than the missions are a day’s walk apart. Don’t quote me, but I think they were built by Spanish monks.

Anyway, the big project in fourth grade was constructing a replica of a mission that was assigned by Mrs. Collins. I got Mission San Juan Capistrano. I had been there several times as it was in South Orange County, maybe an hour away.

Dad is very handy and loves things that require construction. Me, I couldn’t care less. Just as long as I got an A on my mission. How my teacher could believe that mine was built by a fourth grader I’ll never know. He (we, I mean) even used blue Saran Wrap in the fountain at the Mission’s entrance.

“Fortunately” for me, I cut myself with the Xacto knife, proof to Mrs. Collins that my beautiful mission wasn’t just Dad’s project.

But I remember the Xacto incident very clearly

I cut myself not helping Dad, but playing with the knife because I was bored. But Mrs. Collins didn’t have to know that.

Thanksgiving Part 2

For this post I’d like to thank the people at WordPress. The photo challenge prompt fit exactly with what I was going to talk about anyway.

You knew that the whole family was going to fly to Seattle to surprise my sister for Thanksgiving. Well, we’re back. The surprise worked perfectly, as you can see.

Thanksgiving was just a lazy day. We all watched “Intervention,” played Uno (which caused some salty language) ate a delicious turkey, and watched “Christmas Vacation,” a Tharp tradition.

Our Thanksgiving definitely strayed from the typical. It wasn’t a formal occasion, which is the norm for many. But all the people I love were together. It couldn’t be Thanksgiving without that.



Courtesy lightevangilismministry.org

As you know, I volunteer for Free Wheelchair Mission, a Christian charity based in Orange County. They provide wheelchairs at no cost to the recipient to the disabled in developing countries. I “speak” for them. Actually, Dad does the speaking—I write what I want him to say. Together we have been to churches, Rotary Club meetings, and city counsel meetings.

Sometimes I feel guilty. Charity isn’t supposed to be about you. Free Wheelchair Mission has given me confidence, friends, brought Dad and I closer, and has given me a new perspective on things.

I’m not going to tell you exactly how I came to volunteer for Free Wheelchair Mission because (1) it’s a very long story and (2) I think my doing so would take away from the work this wonderful organization does.

So I’ll just say this: I believe I was literally called by God.

I guess He knew what He was doing when He interrupted my sleep in 2013.

The More Things Change…


Courtesy greenerpasture.com

Corona, California, is where I have spent most of my 33 years. It definitely isn’t Mayberry, with over 150,000 residents, but it might as well be. Corona is extremely boring.

It has changed a lot in the 30 years I have lived here, with now a few Starbucks and the old Alpha Beta becoming a Sprouts. But I love driving down Grand where the houses are over a hundred years old.


Courtesy assests.blog.hemmings.com

In fact, in probably the 20s Grand Avenue was a racetrack, and my old junior high, which was once Corona High School and was probably built in the thirties, actually has a bomb shelter. And after Lucy and Desi’s divorce, he had a house here!


Driving down Main Street, you notice the acres of orange trees that are now homes, three feet apart. There is now a signal on every block instead of a stop sign.

But as busy as Corona is, it for the most part, it still has the small town feel. People I went to kindergarten and first grade with still live here and are raising their children here.

We have talked about moving. As very dull as Corona is, I would miss it. I learned to ride a two wheeler in front of our first house, babysat the neighborhood kids, and visited with Mary, the seventy-year-old woman across the street, her complaining about our uppity next door neighbors as comforting as anything I can remember.

We will most likely move when Dad retires, in ten years or so. He likes South Carolina.

It’s extremely corny, but as unpredictable as life can be, it’s nice to have a little certainty. Corona, California, definitely provides that.


With the hurricane and rain coming in buckets in the South, this is sure a pathetic use of the word “water,” but I have always loved this photo. It was in a swimming pool in Lahaina, Maui.


That’s my dad behind me, but I probably didn’t have to tell you that.

How do you get in the water, you ask. For the pool at home, I have a nifty piece of equipment. Don’t ask me to explain the physics, but it uses water pressure to lower a chair into the pool. All you do is simply attach a hose to the mechanical chair, and the seat turns and lowers. All I can say, there are people in the world much smarter than I!

To the Moon and Back


Courtesty: nasa.gov

My dream was to be an astronaut. Not in the eight-year-old, “When I grow up” way, but I really was going to be an astronaut. I had written to NASA for an application packet (so I knew what to take, school wise) and was on a first-name basis with the woman in the astronaut selection office. I was going to be an astronaut.

That was age 12, 13, and 14.

As I’ve told you, I got sick at age 14, which to my current state. God obviously had other plans for me. I’m not at all bitter. My life is wonderful.

But, hypothetically, if I had been an astronaut, would I have walked on the moon? Mars?

I sometimes become sad at what could have been. But one thought brings me back to Earth (no pun intended): I DESPISE MATH.  There’s the silver lining.

Let Them Eat Whipped Cream!

When I first saw the prompt “cake,” I was going to take a pass on a post. Sure, I like cake, but you can’t write an entire post on how much you enjoy something.

Isn’t it odd how post inspirations come out of nowhere? It’s like some blog genie swoops down and plants an idea into your head. Although sometimes he is MIA, but this morning he was on duty.

Let me set scene. Pippa has enjoyed a couple of what Starbucks calls puppachinos, which is literally whipped cream in a cup. This morning Maria, my aide who helps me in the morning, and I decided that Maggie needed a treat. Sweetie would get a puppachino, too.

But me describing the event wouldn’t do it justice.

Here’s my girl, enjoying a well-deserved treat.


Although Honey will probably need a walk every day this week to burn off the calories, and if there are any vets reading this, they are cringing, doesn’t everyone deserve an indulgence now and then?

Hey, it’s kind of like cake!!

P.S. When it was gone, Maggie was looking for more. Like Mother like daughter.

Room, Sweet Room

According to Merriamwebster.com, a sanctuary is “a safe place where someone or something is safe and protected.” My bedroom has become a sanctuary.

Who is being protected? Maggie, from a certain black puppy.

My room is what we call “the Pippa-free zone.” Maggie is free to chew bones or take naps undisturbed. Occasionally the runt sneaks in, heading right for Maggie’s grimy stuffed animals, but she is promptly ushered out. Maggie always looks grateful.


Doesn’t Maggie look happy?

Maggie and Pippa have fun playing, but for my canine daughter, sometimes enough is enough. She is eleven, after all. It makes me sad because she doesn’t act like an eleven-year old dog. Ever since Miss Pippa entered our lives, Mag just seems old. I guess it’s the same with people: Maggie will enjoy her senior years. The walks my aide and I take her on to get her out of the house, the part of our backyard where Pippa isn’t allowed to go (there’s a swimming pool)—these are Maggie’s greatest pleasures right now.

These, and time in her sanctuary with me. Away from Pippa.

I know exactly how Maggie feels. After all, I have two younger sisters.

Three’s a Crowd

I’ve obviously never driven a car.I have, however, ridden in one.For this post I’ve asked my mom, Linda, to recount a typical car ride for the three Tharp girls. Here’s a hint: we all get along now.

I’m not positive about the year, and I don’t remember where we were going, but this I still see clearly: our three daughters, ages five, six, and nine, sitting in the backseat of our burgundy Ford Taurus. A burgundy Ford Taurus—that puts the year at about 1992. Quite possibly the last year a Ford Taurus was in style.

It was summertime, or maybe it was just hot outside, because I remember a row of six bare legs visible from my spot in the passenger seat.

That simple equation—heat plus six legs belonging to children averaging 6.66 years in age crammed together in the backseat of a midsize sedan—could only equal trouble.


Kelley would have been sitting in the middle of the backseat because, as the youngest, pecking order demanded that she sit on the hump. Never mind that her legs were as long or longer than her next-oldest sister. Kelley got the hump. Which should have meant that her two sisters, although not happy about having to go anywhere (I’m positive we weren’t going anyplace fun, or the following situation would never have happened), wouldn’t have room for complaint.

Anyone with three kids knows that there’s always an odd man (or girl) out. In our family that was never Erin who, as the oldest, held the self-appointed title of Queen Bee. That left Kelley and Sarah frequently at odds and often vying for the title of Second in Command, a position Erin bestowed as she saw fit.

You get the picture: hot, three kids, two of whom are striving for entry into the third’s inner circle

After nine years of parenting and six years of parenting two or more, I thought I’d heard everything. Until the day of that hot car ride, that is. Because Sarah, desperate to mentally throw jabs at Kelley, tattled announced, “She’s looking out my window.” She probably said this before we had pulled out of the driveway.

Funny. I didn’t know car windows were personal property. And I would have said as much, if Kelley hadn’t spoken up first.

Now, Kelley might have been the youngest, but what she lacked in seniority she made up for in pluck. So what if she was stuck with the hump? So what if she was usually bribed with incomplete stationary kits or all-the-good-pages-already-colored coloring books so that Erin and Sarah could play video store (it was the 1990’s, after all) without her? Sometimes having pluck is enough.

So after Sarah pronounced that—gasp—Kelley was looking out her window, Kelley one-upped Sarah in the tattling information department by telling us that Sarah was “thinking bad thoughts about me.”

Was it Erma Bombeck who said never have more children than you have car windows? My sentiments exactly.

I may not remember the precise year, or where we were going that day, but I’m pretty certain we couldn’t get there fast enough.