Saturday, July 19, 2014

How is your Time?


"Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent
and not enough time on what is important. "
  ~ Stephen Covey, writer and educator




I am guilty of this at times.  The tyranny of the urgent. While the urgent is most pressing, it is so important not to neglect the important in life.  To do so we need to have dedicated priorities but also need to have discernment and flexibility to choose which urgent matters to give our time.  The urgent will always be with us.  The important may not always be there, especially if we deem it unimportant by the amount of time we allot to it.  Choose wisely.   


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Success or Value?



Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
~ Albert Einstein 






I think that by striving to be of value, we are guaranteed to be successful.   Maybe not successful in everyone's eyes, but at least in your own. However, if we are striving only to be a success, we may push and shove our way and then lack value.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Resisting Temptation



I do not consider myself as one who sews.  Nevertheless I found myself in a fabric store recently looking at the plethora of fabrics. 
Red, yellow, green, blue.  
Stripes, polka dots, calico, animal print.  
Cotton, sheer, woolly.    
There was every kind of fabric that one could want. 

I found myself getting lost in thought as I peered through all that was available.  My quick run in to pick up an item took nearly an hour and a half!  I almost ....not quite, but almost.....came away with fabric and sewing notions to make a project.  

If I had succumb to the tantalizing ideas that swirled in my head, the fabric would have landed with the other half-baked ideas that sit in a closet just waiting to be brought to a finish.   Next time I will wear blinders when I visit this store.  

Do you have any unfinished or never started projects tucked away somewhere? 


     

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Damaging Storm


 Earlier this week a storm whipped up and left a lot of damage to different neighborhoods in my city.  Gusts or 70 mph were registered, and there were reports of hearing train-like noises.  No tornadoes, thankfully, but high winds only can do tornado-like damage.    This poor tree (shown above) was a victim of the wind.  It was a lovely tree providing lots of shade.  It is my neighbor's tree and it fell towards my house.  



The tree clipped the corner of my house as it fell that night--and in fact was resting along my roof.  Damage to my house looks like it was limited to the gutter, but I haven't been able to get up there to take a close look yet.



The swing set also took a hit from the tree. I'm going to have to check it well -- I think its joints have been stressed.

The news reports let us track this storm across the plains to the east and it continued to leave a trail of debris in its wake.  Nature let us know that we are not truly in control of things, even though we sometimes think we are.


Monday, June 2, 2014

June

(June??  How can it be June already? )



June means many things.  In June:

  • school bells ceasing and children happy to finish out their school year 
  • the heat  of the day becomes difficult as the temperature rises
  • pretty flowers bloom in the garden 
  • a/c bills increase as the appliance strains to keep the house cool 
  • skin reddens and burns if sunblock is not applied regularly  
  • swimming pools fill with water and with kids
  • vacation season commences --some have short trips and some take longer ones 
  • wedding announcements multiply in the newspaper 
  • summer school starts --parents are happy to have somewhere to send their children so they don't have to hear "I'm bored!"  
  • clothing gets skimpier as the day gets hotter 
  • flip-flops reign 
  • ice cream becomes a steady dessert
  • evenings sitting on the deck with a cool drink 
  • mosquitoes enjoying a feast of their unsuspecting human host 

What do you think of when June rolls around? 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Wedding Bells are Ringing!

"Goin' to the chapel and we're... gonna get married..."

My son got married over Memorial Day weekend and it was a great day.  The ceremony was held outside near a small lake and it was so beautiful and peaceful.  Afterwards we had a barbecue and celebrated the day.


The bride was preceded by my grandchildren.  They did a great job of walking down the aisle -- I have to admit that when I first heard they were going to be in the wedding, I was nervous they would be too timid to make it with all the guests staring at them. But they surprised me! The only blip on their part was at the beginning when my granddaughter threw some rose petals out of her basket then bent down to gather them up again.  her brother saved the day by getting her to walk down the aisle.  Then again at the end of the aisle, my granddaughter didn't want to sit down-- she wanted to stay up with the bride and groom until every last petal was out of the basket.  It was so cute.



We got her finally to sit down with us and the bride came down the aisle to greet my son.  They shared vows, were pronounced husband & wife, and then my son got to "kiss the bride!"



This mama is happy to welcome a new daughter-in-law to the family !


Sunday, May 25, 2014

MockingJay, a review

Behind the counter sits the strangest person I've ever seen. She's an extreme example of surgical enhancement gone wrong, for surely not even in the Capitol could they find this face attractive. The skin has been pulled back tightly and tattooed with black and gold stripes. The nose has been flattened until it barely exists. I've seen cat whiskers on people in the Capitol before, but none so long. The result is a grotesque, semi-feline mask, which now squints at us distrustfully. 
From Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins 
 Mockingjay is the the third book in the trilogy Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins.  The books were published a few years ago and have sat on bestseller lists.  There are movies made of the first two books in the trilogy and a movie of Mockingjay is currently being made.

I am a little behind the times in reading them, but that doesn't make them any less interesting to read.  Although classified as young adult fiction, this book can be read and enjoyed by any adult.   There are some violent scenarios that may scare children, therefore I would not recommend it for elementary age kids or below.

The underlying plot in Mockingjay is a country in rebellion against an evil central government.  The rebel leaders use Katniss Everdeen, a victor in the last gruesome, forced-upon, tragic Hunger Games, as a rallying symbol for the people to look to for hope in a better future.   Katniss has the nickname Mockingjay from her time in the Hunger Games.

Twisting sub-plots emerge and play out throughout the books.  There is conflict of human relationships, man-made dangers, and pure survival.  While the first book Hunger Games and the second book Catching Fire were more action-adventure type with fast moving scenes and danger around every corner, the third book Mockingjay is a little slower with fewer action scenes and more head games & strategy.  Collins also does a nice job of wrapping up the story lines and all questions are answered by the end of the book.  

This book would best be read after reading the first two books. However I think it could be read on its own too as the author reminds the reader of things that happened in the first two books to fill in possible gaps.  This book is inherently slower than the first two, and I found that I would set it down and not feel driven to rush and pick it up again.  Excitement does not drip off every page.

Movies, as always, of the first two books  although very good, did not come close to the quality of the written page.   I expect no different with the current movie being made for this book.  A book is always so much better!


* * * * * * * * *
It was a great book and I would rate it 9 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"They Grow Up so Fast!"

"They grow up so fast!"

This comment is muttered frequently this time of year as school-age kids are finishing up their programs.   It is a time of transitions.

Preschoolers become kindergartners and elementary students become middle schoolers who become high schoolers.

Seniors in high school are ready to gain independence and move on to college or make their way into the world.  Similarly college seniors receive their credentials and eagerly venture into"the real world."

This year I've got three moving forward to new things


  • Kristen is my cousin's daughter. She is independent and so intelligent.  She is graduating from her class of 30 and will head off to Drake University in the fall to pursue the sciences.  
  • Lexis is the daughter of my daughter's best friend.  She is smart and very athletic.  She graduates with honors and has plans to further her education in Wisconsin on an athletic scholarship. 
  • Dane is my grandson.  He is handsome, witty, and amazing.  (I may have a bit of a bias!)  He plans to play baseball, swim, and build things this summer then begin kindergarten in the fall.  

So to all the graduates everywhere I give the words of Dr. Seuss: 

Today is the day! 
Your mountain is waiting
so get on your way. 





Do you have any new graduates in your life? 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Choices



It is our choices
that show what we truly are,
far more than our abilities. 

JK Rowling, author 
Albus Dumbledore in 
  Harry Potter and the chamber of Secrets

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Who said Happy Hour?


That's right it is Frappuccino Happy Hour!  Through May 10  (that is today....aww, drats! It's almost over! )  You can get a Starbucks Frappuccino at 50% the regular price.   You must go between 3pm and 5pm.  

I got mine Friday when I got off work (around 3:30) and the drive-thru line was longer than I have seen it at that specific location.   Great minds think alike~ they were all there to get their half-off frappuccino.
 
Caramel frappuccino with light caramel --yum!  One of my favorites.  I may have to go back and get another one~

What is your favorite frappuccino?


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Road Trip!



It's time for a road trip!  I'm packing the car full of snacks, got me a full tank and I'm off!   I'll be traveling through the blogosphere to visit as many blogs from the A-to-Z Challenge as I can and I hope to highlight a few of the blogs that I find as I mosey on down the road.  

When I was a kid, my sisters and I use to play a couple games while road-tripping.  We would play "On my way to Grandma's house I saw ......."  and another one was to keep track alphabetically of everything we saw.  We couldn't move on to the next letter of the alphabet until the previous letter was found.  Playing games may have helped the time in the car pass by faster and it probably helped to keep us from fighting.

I hope you'll join me on the trip~
A-to-Z Challenge Road Trip 






Monday, May 5, 2014

Reflecting on the A-to-Z Challenge


I stumbled upon the A-to-Z Challenge blog in early 2014. I read about the challenge criteria and it looked like fun. I wanted to blog on a more consistent basis and felt this might be the catalyst for me.

Once before, a few years ago, I had joined a writing challenge that required daily posting of a blog. I made it about halfway through the month before giving it up due to competing time demands. I hoped as I registered my blog on the A-to-Z site that this time would be different.

Did you accomplish your goals? 
My main goal was to publish a blog post every day of the challenge. I also wanted to visit and comment on at least five participating blogs per day. These were some goals of the challenge itself.  I would say that I accomplished my goals. I published daily except for Sundays.  Some days I commented on more than five blogs and other days a little less. I wish I had more time to visit and comment on more blogs. I plan to visit some of the missed blogs now that the challenge is over.

Did you post every day? 
I posted every day, A through Z,  except for Sundays. {insert happy dance here}

Did you make new friends?
I visited and re-visited several blogs and left comments. A few people commented on my posts regularly.  I have some new followers and I have followed some new blogs. Yes, I have made some new friends.

Did you enjoy the challenge? 
I very much enjoyed the challenge.  Sometimes I suffer the "why should I write - there are more pressing things I need to do" mood. This challenge gave me the excuse I needed to write. I felt accountable.

I began right after signing up for the challenge to make a list of possible topics.  There was more than a month until the challenge began, so I thought I was being pro-active. What I didn't do, that I will do next time, is to go back and visit the A-Z Challenge blog. I didn't realize the blog was publishing tips and strategies for surviving the challenge.

A week or so before P-day (first publishing day-April 1) I got an email and also a comment that gave me great advice- which I wish I had heeded earlier in the game.  The gold-star advice was to pre-write and schedule blog posts.

At that point I went to the A-to-Z blog and discovered I should have been reading the pre-challenge posts!  I downloaded all the letter badges, fixed my comments so no one would have to verify, and learned how to put a link to my blog in my comments to others.  I also "liked" the A-to-Z  Facebook page.

I set up a draft post with the appropriate letter badge for each day of the challenge.  I tried to have three written posts scheduled at any given time.  I originally hoped to have a week written and scheduled, but that quickly proved to be too much to ask.  Having some posts written and scheduled before they are due was a great help and stress reliever. Who knows when something will happen in our offline life that will delay getting a post published on time?

I did not use a theme for my posts.  I didn't conceive of this possibility until I read about the Theme Reveal.  Using a theme for my posts would be too difficult was my thought.  In hindsight, I think using themes might make it a little easier.  I'll have to test that thought out next year.

I am glad the hosts asked us to comment on others' blog posts. When my posts are commented on it lets me know I have an audience and therefore I think it will help me become better at my writing craft.  I don't usually comment often on blogs that I read thinking I have nothing of much value to offer.  This challenge gave me the permission to step boldly into the comment box.

What are my plans from here? 
  • I plan to write regularly on my blog. Not sure yet what this will look like - posting at least two-to-three days a week on regular days.  I may theme the days as I have seen some bloggers do. 
  • I plan to re-visit the blogs I read during the challenge and follow some of them. 
  • I plan to visit new blogs from the challenge that I did not get a chance to read in April.
  • I plan to comment more frequently on blogs that I read. 
  • I plan to start thinking about the A-to-Z Challenge 2015.  
I am energized and excited about the blogging adventures that lay ahead.

Won't you join me?
 


Saturday, May 3, 2014

You can do it!

"Man often becomes what he believes himself to be.
If I keep on saying to myself 
that I cannot do a certain thing, 
it is possible that I may end by 
really becoming incapable of doing it. 
On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it,
I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it 
even if I may not have it at the beginning." 
~~ Mahatma Ghandi  



Is there something your unbelief is hindering? 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Finding Some Encouragement

The A-to-Z Challenge is over except for a reflection which shall be coming soon.  It feels wrong not to post something after posting nearly every day (except Sundays) last month, so I have found the following quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that seems fitting for the end of the blogging challenge.  If you are a blogger, may you be encouraged by it.  I know I am.


With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. 
   ~~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zany Friends

I have some zany friends.  Maybe it is because I am more on the serious or reserved side and I need a little zany in my life to keep balanced. Or perhaps I am actually zany too but just hide it well.

One thing about having zany friends is that you can find yourself in some interesting situations and there is usually a lot of laughing involved.

In the picture below, this zany friend and I were on a road trip and found ourselves at the American Gothic house. She insisted that we dress up as if in the famous painting. She and I have had many adventures together, not all of them zany but all of them memorable.  I am blessed to have my friends, zany or not.   

Do you have zany friends or are you the zany one? 





Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yesterday














Yesterday….

My grandson had his first ever T-ball baseball game.

It seems like not-so-long-ago I was sitting in the bleachers cheering on my son at his adolescent baseball games.  A part of the cadre of parents that become friends for this season of time, warming the seats while as you get excited at your teenage son’s athletic forays.  Jumping up and yelling until you are hoarse as the boy runs, then slides, into home base before the baseball can make it to the catcher’s mitt.  Words of encouragement cheered to all the boys at their turn in the spotlight when the pressure mounts to connect that bat to the ball. 

Yesterday … the baton has been passed to the next generation.  

I am the doting grandma, heart swelling with pride.  Still cheering on words of encouragement as I watch the child-of-my-child go up for his turn at bat.  Still jumping up and yelling until I am hoarse as I watch him run as fast as his little legs can go. 


My once yesterdays are now yesteryears.   Nobody prepares you for this.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

X marks the Spot















X marks the spot...not for buried treasure but for precious refreshment & recreation.  

I spent the weekend away from the regular busyness of my everyday life to travel a few hours for a change in scenery.  

The picture above is just before sunrise over the lake.  At that time of the morning, the air was chilled, and the only thing I could hear were birds calling out their morning songs.  The water was smooth as glass and peaceful.  One couldn't help but to soak in the beauty of nature and appreciate creation.  

My soul was replenished.  

Now I am ready to head back to everyday.  Refreshed, relaxed, and rested.   


What do you do to get refreshed? 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Wisdom


Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. 
  ~ Thomas Jefferson          


By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest; 
Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and
Third, by experience, which is the bitterest. 
   ~  Confucius                   


The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
~ Socrates                  

Wisdom ceases to be wisdom
 when it becomes too proud to weep, 
too grave to laugh, 
and too selfish to seek other than itself.
~ Khalil Gibran    




[quotes from brainyquote.com]    

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Victim


It was a Saturday evening in late September. My 13 year old daughter and I were at home alone. Our dog was in the fenced backyard and he was agitated--barking constantly and I just knew neighbors would be complaining with good reason! I went to the back door and called for him to get quiet.

No sooner had I sat down again to watch some television when I thought I heard a noise.  You know how your house will make certain sounds --well this faint noise that I heard was a new sound, so I got  up to investigate.

Just as I entered the entryway, the front door (which had been locked) burst open with a crash.  The wood frame around the door splintered and fell to the floor as five older teens/young 20-somethings came flying into the entryway one behind the other.  They were dressed in dark clothes and had ball caps on their heads. Bandanas were tied around the lower portion of their faces so I could only see the upper half. The first one seemed to the leader and he was screaming out some kind of order to me. "Get on the floor!" or something like that.

I had three simultaneous thoughts run through my head as I kept my eye on the knife he held towards me:
  1. I can't believe this is happening, is it a movie?  
  2. Oh my gosh they broke my door! 
  3. I need to protect my daughter  
  4. What should I do?    

All I can say is that the Lord had his angels encamped around us that evening.  When I think of what could have happened in that scenario and what did transpire in the minutes-that-seemed-like-hours when the punks were there, I know there was some supernatural protection going on.

At the end of the event, my daughter was safe and unharmed in any way, the police had been called, and the perpetrators left my home empty-handed. Although I had been physically hurt it was relatively minor.

Psychologically was another matter.  I made my home a fortress-- having at least 4 locks put on each door and making sure there was a working alarm system.  The system was always on - and the house  d was always locked up tight.  I didn't want to let my children out of the house.  [That did not fly so well with them.] My every thought was consumed with being safe, getting safe, staying safe.   It was crazy.

After a few months, I had worked through the incident and I got mad.  How dare someone invade my home - my safe haven.  I decided that I was NOT going to be a victim and live as a prisoner within my own home and mind.  I loosened up on the alarms and most locks, only using them after everyone was in for the evening. [Much to my children's relief.]  I forced myself to go out.

It was not easy at first.  I had to prove to myself that I was not a victim.  Why should I have to pay the consequences and for someone else's bad behavior.  As time went on it was easier and easier.

The physical wounds healed pretty quickly.   The psychological wounds took longer and may never go totally away.  They are buried deep within.  This happened nearly two decades ago and still my pulse has quickened from just recording it briefly here.

Today, I live  pretty safely. I stay aware of my surroundings.  Yes, I am a little anxious at times  especially when I hear an unknown noise. Bad things have happened to me and around me... but I am not a victim.




Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Upkeep


Owning a home has the unfortunate consequence of upkeep.  The older the home the more the upkeep there is to do.  And unfortunately, every year my home gets a year older.

Here is some of the upkeep that I need to do this year on my home (I am sure I am forgetting some of it)

  • clean out the gutters
  • re-mulch the mulched areas of yard
  • remove and replace bushes/plants that did not make it through the harsh winter
  • change the filters in the heater/air conditioner
  • shampoo carpets ( replace carpets within a few years) 
  • inspect roof and make any necessary repairs 
  • paint inside walls this year or next 

Sometimes I wish I could wave my wand and let everything be done.  

Or twitch my nose like Samantha.  

Then I wake up to reality.  And I do the next best thing.  

I call my son.  

What is your least favorite upkeep chore around the house? 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Talent


Talent.

I have talent a mile wide and an inch deep.  As a kid I wanted to try my hand at everything.  I didn't actually try everything,  but I did try many things... and I was pretty good at several of them.

But I never stayed at one talent long enough to become an expert.  I always wanted to move on to learn something else.  To become a sort of Jill-of- all-talents.

I danced.  I took tap and ballet classes.  When I became older I added some jazz classes and I also did some ballet on pointe.  I took acrobatics and helped with the young classes.

Then I moved on.

I went the musical way.  I began instrumental music classes.  I chose the trumpet because my grandfather and mother before me had played the trumpet.  My grandfather played gigs in nightclubs as a young man and my mother told me stories of when she played in her high school marching band. I wanted to continue the legacy, so I learned to play the trumpet. I learned on my grandfathers trumpet that had been passed down to my mother and now to me.

Within a few years I decided to learn guitar and I took lessons at a community class given at our library.   Years later when I had children, I bought a piano and made sure they took lessons-- and I learned with them.  

Artistically, I tried my hand at pottery, stained glass, painting, and drawing.  I learned to crochet and to knit.  I did needlework to hang on my walls.  

Athletically, I played volleyball and I swam.  


In college I was known among friends as the queen of theory- I had a good grasp of the several theorists we had to know and their respective theories.  I also had a knack with APA.   When a friend needed help strengthening a paper with theory or had questions about how to cite something they would come to me for advice.  Could that be my talent??  

I never focused on one thing and did it so well to be known for that talent.  Instead I dabbled along and had a well-rounded life doing a little bit of everything and learning an appreciation for everything.

So I have no real talent...just experiences.  But oh, what a wonderful life.

What is your talent?  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Success


How do you define success?

The accomplishing of a goal?  The attaining of wealth?  Or perhaps fame?

I wish there were a clear formula for the road to success. Do a, b, and c and success is guaranteed!

I may not always accomplish my goals.  I may not become wealthy and I don't think fame is on my horizon.

But....

I can always give my best effort to whatever I am doing.
 
I can be present when I am with my family and friends.
 
I can guard my heart and mind from negative, unhealthy thoughts.
.
These are the ways that I can be successful.

Life is messy, and at least in my case the road to success always seems to be under construction. There are ditches to crawl out of,  detours to take, and delays to wait out.

For me, success might be defined as simply doing my best.

How do you define success? 

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Read



I am a reader. 
At my place there is plenty to read. 
I like to read. I teach others to read. 
I read, read, and read some more. 
What do you like to read? 




   

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quotable Quayle



The 44th Vice President of the United States was Dan Quayle.  He served from 1989 - 1993 alongside President George H.W. Bush.    Regardless of whatever good Quayle accomplishes, he will forever be linked to a spelling bee and spelling the word "potato" incorrectly.  Dan Quayle would take a few (to be generous) dings in his intelligence factor.

We all have our days. We all say things without thinking.  But it seems that Quayle continued to add evidence to the pile that he was a bit of a fool.  What follows are some of his quotes.  See what you think.

[This blog post is purely for entertainment sake and does not reflect any bearing on my political leanings.  Let it be noted that I am very glad that the media does not quote every stupid thing that comes from my mouth!]     
 

"I love California.  I practically grew up in Phoenix."

"It isn't pollution that is harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."

"I have made good judgments in the past.  I have made good judgments in the future." 

"It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago."

"A low voter turn out is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."

"It's a very good historical book about history."

"I understand the importance of bondage between parent and child."


Which of these quotes do you think tops the charts as sounding most idiotic?  






Quotes from Brainyquote


Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Pottery




In lieu of a bridal shower for my future daughter-in-law (which she was adamantly against), my daughters and I had a little celebration for her at a local pottery studio followed by lunch.  We invited her mom, grandma and a couple other close friends.  

We spent a couple hours trying to be crafty -- some were more artsy than others- while we painted our pottery.  When we finished the pieces needed to be left at the studio so they could be fired.   A few days ago, I went and picked up some of our handiwork and took this picture before I delivered the pieces to the owners.  I think we did a pretty good job if I say so myself.

It was a fun Girl's Day Out and a way to make the bride-to-be feel special in a way that honored her wishes.   Our pottery may not be masterpieces, but they are special because they hold memories of this day.



     

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Only Once



Only once I hope I come home from work to find my 70 year old father-in-law high up in a tree pruning. We both were at a risk of a heart attack that day!

Only once I hope I leave the house without breakfast or plans for lunch on a day scheduled with meetings after work.  I was awfully hungry!

Only once I hope I experience five punks breaking down my door and rushing in threatening me with knives as they attempt to rob me. Some surreal moments.

Only once I hope I lose my cool, raise my voice and argue with the customer service representative.  It is not worth it.

Only once I hope I hold on to unforgiveness and allow bitterness to take root in my heart. It hurts me far worse than anyone else.

Only once will I be too shy, too insecure, or too scared to try something new...like a blogging challenge for example.


Do you have an only once? 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Nuptials



Nuptials (noun, plural)  a marriage ceremony; wedding 

In approximately one month I will be celebrating the nuptials of my third and youngest child.  Having gone through this process of being the mother of the bride/groom three times now,  I am definitely more at ease this time around.  Like having and raising children -- sometimes you relax a bit more the longer you've been doing it.  

With each child you have, it seems to get easier to parent.  Or maybe you just don't care aren't  as uptight the longer you parent.   I have found that with my children's nuptials, it was the same way.  I went from highest level of stress to being very at ease with each subsequent wedding. 

I'm over simplifying the analogy, I know.  Each child has their own preferences & personality and each child along with their intended made most of the decisions for the nuptials.  

The Wedding day is a special day that is all about the Parents  Bride and Groom.  But we know that the real deal happens after the day is over and the marriage begins to be negotiated lived out.  Regardless of what type of nuptials, my hope for my children is that in their marriages they always experience love, grace, and joy. 

Wedding One: 
Being the oldest and first to marry, Child One had to endure her mother and father's desires for a very traditional Greek wedding with almost no expense spared.  This fit her well, as she loves to party, spend our money, enjoy the finer things.   The ceremony was in high church and lasted about 40 minutes with several significant parts. The priest officiated.  There were over 500 guests- mostly friends of the parents, and  it was followed by a sit down dinner reception that lasted until the wee hours of the morning.  There was lots of food, alcohol (including ouzo, mixed drinks, and beer) dancing, and even some plate-smashing.  
Stress-level rating on a scale of 1-5:  5 

Wedding Two: 
A few years later Child Two decided it was time to marry her beloved.  She did not want the same type of nuptials that her sister had.  She is not as extravagant as her sister and instead wanted something simple. There were no objections as the expense stress of Child One's nuptials were still hurting remembered. This wedding was held in the groom's church with the minister officiating. It was a lovely church.  About half of the 200 guests were friends of the bride and groom, and the remaining guests were extended family and some good friends from each parental side.  The reception was within an hour of the 20 minute ceremony at a local hotel's ballroom.  There was a buffet followed by some dancing.  A few hours later, the bride and groom left and we kicked out everyone else the reception was over.    
Stress-level rating on a scale of 1-5:  3

Wedding Three:
A couple years have passed by and finally now it is time for Child Three to make the plunge into marriage-hood. This wedding is being planned and financed mostly by the groom and bride themselves by their choice.  They don't want to have to listen to anyone want it done their way.  They think it is stupid to spend too much also prefer to spend less money on the nuptials.  They first considered eloping, then a destination wedding with just the two of them.  After pleading and crying I am thankful their final decision is to have a ceremony that is close by with just a few people.  The final details will have them marrying casually in a local park being officiated (legally, I made sure) by a childhood friend of my son.  Dressing up is optional  is casual - sundresses, capri's, shorts even.  The guest list is less than 100 which  includes the immediate families, a few extended family members, and a few good friends of the couple.  Following the short ceremony will be a BBQ reception in the park.   The menu includes hamburgers, steak, and plenty of beer to drink.  In case of rain, there is a contingency plan with a friend's nearby restaurant.  A few weeks after the nuptials, the bride and groom will fly to an island in the Caribbean.  There they will relax and enjoy themselves.    
Stress-level rating on a scale of 1-5: 1
     


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Microwave Popcorn

Have you ever had popcorn burn in the microwave? Leave the little folded package in too long and you have a stinky mess.

Well, this is the story of the day I came home from to find a bag of burnt microwave popcorn on bench outside the front door. 

To set the scene, I had left my 3 children home while I was out—the youngest at the time was 11 years old and his sisters were 2 and 4 years older than him. They were all doing their own  thing that afternoon and  I was gone not longer than 2-3 hours.   The rule of the house is that no one cooks when mom is away. 

After seeing the burnt popcorn bag outside, I was a bit angry because the kids knew not to use the stove when I was not there. I did what any mom would do- I went to interrogate the guilty parties.  My son was the alleged culprit—darn kid said he was hungry!  He decided that using the microwave—especially for 3 minutes or less --- did not constitute cooking.  “Besides,” he said, “technically it was not using the stove.”  His story was that somehow the popcorn burned and it had stunk up the place so he put the bag outside.   I reprimanded him to be safe and responsible and figured no harm done. Case closed. 

Mothers of teens and pre-teens: Always ask the unasked questions!  Always assume there might be more!  My advice is to add on to every interrogation, “….and what else?”  

You see, as Paul Harvey used to say, "Here’s the  rest of the  story…”

A few days later as the family was talking, one of my girls revealed a little bit more. As we were talking, she says…”you know, it was right after the firemen were here.”

Say what? 

Firemen?

Here?   When? 

Oh yeah....they were here.  As the popcorn began to burn in the microwave that day it began to smoke.  The bag actually caught on fire (quickly put out).  It set off our monitored smoke/theft alarms and the sirens began to blare through the neighborhood.  The fire department was automatically called and the firetrucks came sirens on and all to the house. 

For the fire. 

Of course by the time they got there all they found was a scared young boy, his teenage sisters, and a burnt bag of microwave popcorn. 

Had my girls not slipped and let it come out in natural conversation, I might have never known the fire department had been to the house that day.


And that is the rest of my microwave popcorn story.

Have firemen been called to your house over popcorn?  

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Lipstick



What do you notice with the picture above? 

If you noticed there are three shades of lipstick, you would be right.  

If you noticed that 2 lipsticks are nearly used and 1 still has a good amount, you would be right.  

If you noticed a frustrated consumer sitting at the side, you would be right.  You would also have super-hero sight.  

Why do cosmetic companies insist on changing their shades and not continuing with the hues that they have already developed?  It seems with each new season companies roll out a new line of colors and get rid of last year's shades.  

By golly,  I LIKE the shade of lipstick that I use.  And every year I have to find a new shade!   

Granted all three of these lipstick shades are very close in color-- but not quite.  And that "not quite" can change a whole way that one looks.  How would you like it if the closest you can find to "yummy plummy" is "mauve mania" or some other cousin in the same color family --"magnificent mauve"?   Worse yet --- what will be waiting at the counter when it is time to replenish my stock?   

So if I were a beauty queen and asked the question of what I wish for the world-- you just might hear me say "Consistent Lipstick Shades that never retire."  

After World Peace of course. 


  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Kindness



A warm smile is the universal language of kindness. 
    ~William Arthur Ward   



No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. 
~Aesop                         
                   


You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson  




For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;
for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; 
and for poise, 
walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. 
~Audrey Hepburn      




Constant kindness can accomplish much. 
As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes 
misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility 
to evaporate. 
~Albert Schweitzer 


Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jury Duty


Jury Duty.  Not exactly on my list of favorite things to do.

What does it conjure up ?  LA Law, Perry Mason, maybe Law & Order ?  Do you want to be sequestered?  Sounds possibly exciting.  

The last time I was called to be in the pool for jurors was several years ago.  I didn't get chosen to sit on the jury, but I did have to listen to the prosecutor and defense lawyer explain the upcoming case.  It was actually quite interesting.  A man went to a dancing bar and got angry with another over a girl. He left the bar and went out to his car where he had a bat.  He took the bat and beat the other man with it as he left the bar.   Almost a county song.

After being questioned by the lawyers, they chose who they wanted to sit on the jury.  I didn't get get to sit--but I was okay with that.

Now the opportunity was back again.  Ugh,--- don't get me wrong.  I appreciate our system of justice in the United States and I realize there needs to be a jury of peers for it to work. I just don't want to be one of the peers.  I don't want to take off work to be available.  [They do pay us $7.50 per day for our trouble Whoo Hoo! ] I don't want to hold the fate of someone in my hands, especially if the alleged crime is severe.

But I got the notice to serve.  To do my civic duty.  Show up or have a warrant put out on me.

For one week I called the courthouse every evening to see if I needed to go in.  Thankfully each night I got the message that there were no trials scheduled for the following day. Yay!

So...I was a good citizen and did my civic duty.  I served my time as a potential member of the jury pool.  And now I am done--without ever having to actually go in.   Hopefully it will be several years before my turn comes up again.

Have you ever served on a jury?   

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Iguana














Let me introduce you to Prince, the interesting fellow in the image above. He lives in the classroom of a friend of mine.  Prince has lived among people, specifically children, for most of his life. He is very comfortable with noise, talking, and movement. Prince enjoys being a people watcher. Prince is pretty mellow and has character. He is beloved. I'm told he is about 30 years old which is old even for iguanas in captivity.  

Here are some other facts about iguanas: 
  • In the wild iguanas live about 10 years 
  • Iguanas are herbivores - Prince likes to eat kale, squash, cucumber and the occasional tomato 
  • Iguanas are climbers and left out of his cage, Prince has been found atop tall bookcases 
  • In some countries iguanas are considered invasive species



    I hope that you enjoyed meeting Prince, the iguana! 








    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    H is for Home



    A few years ago the adage "Home is where the heart is"  was again made clear to me when I returned to the town of my childhood for a visit.

    I was feeling nostalgic and had the urge to go back to my roots to see the sights from when I was a child.  I had moved away from this town when I was eight years old.  What I discovered is that we often idealize and make grand the things from our younger years.  Perhaps it is because we are small when we are young and everything around us seems large.

    My childhood home was a good sized nice home - one of the nicer homes in the area according to my eight-year-old egocentric self.  I remember the place fondly. Playing in the yard, having my own bedroom, neighborhood friends coming over to visit, and countless hours having fun (an probably arguing too) in all the rooms of this house.  It was tragic when I learned we had to leave. I did not want to pull up stakes and move away to another house in another state, but when the time came but there was no other choice. The family moved.

    Of course, I acclimated well and came to love my new location just as much and more than the previous. I had been back to visit once the old neighborhood only once before about six months after we moved. Now several decades have passed. I looked forward to seeing my old home.

    My sister and I made this visit and went to the street where we had lived.  It had changed some as I expected it would after several years. Then I saw our old home.  Still on the corner. Only it looked really small.  Nothing like the large house in my memories. Perhaps it was fate-- the house was currently vacant. That gave my sister and I the opportunity to get out and look around without looking suspicious.  I didn't want to get arrested for peeping!

    We  circled the house and explored the front and back yards. The back yard.  Where I spent hours playing. It looked foreign to me.  I wanted to see myself chasing a ball through the dandelions or climbing on the swinging on the swing set. But it was sterile. Just grass and cold chain link fence.
     
    We peeked through the windows.  I imagined that I would have warm feelings as I looked through the living room window.  But I didn't.   I had no feelings at all.   This did not seem like the home I remembered.  Oh yes, it had the same architectural features and I recognized the layout an the wood doors.  But it was just building material.  A skeleton.  Not warm & fuzzy.  It was cold.  Waiting for a family to come and make it a home.




    That's when it was clear.  A house is just a house.  A home is a place where family or loved ones are. A place where you feel safe and loved.  My memories of this place are not here with the tangible--- they are in my mind and heart.


     Are you making memories in your home today? 

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    G is for Greece


    We're traveling today to the country of Greece. I've been several times and lived there for a few years even.  My last trip was a couple years ago. The country is going though some difficult economic times, but the people of Greece are full of hospitality and the country is absolutely lovely.  History and culture abound in Greece! Are you ready for a short tour ?  

    First Stop Athens: 
    Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece.  One famous area is the acropolis, or the high hill on which many famous ruins are located. The Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena. It was built in 438 BC.  Today's pollution is crumbling the marble that held up for thousands of years, so they are restoring as they are able to.  The Parthenon is shown below in the upper left picture. The bottom picture is of the acropolis with the Parthenon lit up at night from the roof-top bar of our hotel a few miles away. In the picture on the upper right is the Erechtheion temple, completed in 406 BC and dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. This "Porch of Maidens" or Caryatids is made up of six female draped columns.    


    Next Stop - Azoros, a mountain village
    Traveling north from Athens, we stop in a small village near the foothills of Mount Olympus.  The air here is clean and fresh and the people wholesome.  Most villagers are farmers and shepherds. The village has a town square with a church, a cafe, a few other stores to pick up daily needs. Village life is hard work but it is a good life.  The picture below overlooks the village from a hill outside the village.



    Next Stop - Katerini, a small city on the east coast 
    Still going north, we drive over to the other side of Mount Olympus and towards the coast.  Katerini is a mid-sized city, the biggest in it's region of Pieria (sort of like county).  It is about 35 miles south of Thessalonica, the second largest city in Greece.  There is retail, manufacturing, and many industries here to keep Katerini town going.  It is about 3 miles from the Thermaic Gulf, a part of the Aegean sea, and the picture below is at the shopping district of the beach area. 


    Final Stop - the Aegean Sea 
    We will end the tour with a dip at the beautiful clear waters at the beach near Katerini.  You can't go to Greece and not visit the beach.  Mainland Greece is a peninsula so beach is unavoidable!  There are also hundreds of islands available to visit. There are public and private beaches, beaches with different kind of sands, beaches with rocks and ones with shells. The picture below is of a private beach area of friends of mine.  The water is cool and clear. You do have to be aware of the occasional jelly fish, However, on a good day you can see dolphins frolicking a few hundred yards from where you are standing or swimming. Such a awesome sight for a landlocked Midwestern gal like me!    



    That is the end of the tour today.  I hope you enjoyed this mini-travel to Greece with me.  You must go some day and see it for yourself.  Pictures do not give the beautiful surroundings justice.


    Monday, April 7, 2014

    F is for Fallen Heroes and Firefighters


    A tragic event happened in late February that makes me pause and reflect. 

    Heroes - those men and women who daily wear the uniform and prepare to put their lives on the line to keep the community safe.  Firefighters, law enforcement officers, and on the national front our military – these men and women are heroes.

    One cold early morning in February, the residents in an apartment complex were awakened by a loud noise.  Not knowing what it could be, someone called 9-1-1 and emergency personnel were dispatched.  First on the scene, firefighters discovered the outside balcony walkway to the second floor apartments was in the process of collapsing. The firefighters began evacuating the residents.  All residents made it to safety, however the walkway collapsed and a firefighter who had been rescuing others ended up losing his life.      

    This fallen firefighter was a 23 year veteran firefighter. He gave his life to help others to safety.  Our firefighters and our police risk their lives daily to rescue strangers.  They are heroes in my eyes.

    It is only the 2nd time a firefighter has died in the line of duty in my community according to the local news source – the last time being over 20 years ago. The US Fire Administration National statistics state 101 firefighters died in 2013. Already in 2014 there have been thirty-three firefighter fatalities. These heroes often leave behind families with minor children.  To help donations are solicited and can be given generally or to a specific family.  Check out the National Fallen Firefighter Fund for more details.   

    In my community, flags were lowered half mast for a month. A memorial was held for the fallen firefighter. Firefighters from all over the state came to pay honor – the brotherhood of firefighters was definitely evident. 

    I have not had to use the services of the fire department unless you count the time I came home from work to find them at my home and my son looking sheepish (but that is another story for another day). The police have given me service a few times, sad to say (again, stories for other days). I am thankful for these community servants and appreciate their willingness to put their life on the line for my safety. 

    So pause for a moment. Honor our heroes, especially our fallen ones.  Thank our community servants.  Say a little prayer for their safety when their firetrucks or police vehicles pass by or you hear a siren.  Every time they show up for work there is a possibility of their life in danger – for our sake.   


    Have you thanked firefighters or the police lately? 




    Saturday, April 5, 2014

    Excellence



    "If you are going to achieve excellence in big things
    you develop the habit in little matters. 
    Excellence is not an exception,
    it is a prevailing attitude."

    ~ Colin Powell  

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    Disappearing Diamond


    While taking a walk one afternoon with my younger children I happened to notice that the solitaire diamond was gone from my engagement/wedding ring set.  Upon closer examination I realized that the prongs had become worn or loose and therefore the diamond must have slipped out at some point whereabouts unknown.  You can imagine my distress!

    But the distress of my children was even more surprising.  At first I thought it was a bit strange for children under the age of 7 to be so upset at a ring.  But then they asked a heart revealing question. "Does this mean you and Daddy will have to get divorced?"

    In their child minds, the ring symbolized marriage.  If the ring was broken, then the marriage must be broken as well.   I assured them their daddy and I were not going to get divorced.  

    Lesson of the day: Regularly inspect your rings for wear!   

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

    Cable TV


    After many years of having and enjoying cable TV, I have now opted out. Definitely there are some good things about cable TV. For example, besides educational programming sometimes you can only see certain sporting events or pop culture shows if you have a cable subscription. But for me and my household, we will be finding our entertainment elsewhere.

    These are some things I do not like about cable TV and the companies that run it:

    • being lured by short term discounts that are tied to 24 month contracts
    • having to pay outrageous prices
    • having 200+ channels but regularly watching only 5-6 at most 
    • dealing with a customer service department that, more times than not, is lacking 
    • having to buy a whole tier or package of channels that you aren't interested in because there is one channel out of the 30 that you do want  
    • feeling pressured to bundle with other services if you want to save money 
    • experiencing intermittent outages in service, especially during storms or the Word Series
    • discovering that being a loyal customer is not valued - to get the really good deals you must be a new customer
    There are times when I miss having cable, but with an antenna in my area I can pick up three national networks.  There is always the option of looking into satellite service, too.  However, I am finding that I really don't watch the television much anymore. 

    Someday I may go back to cable. By then I will be a new customer again and be able to cash in on some lucrative deals.  Then again-- I probably won't ever go back to cable TV.  

    How do you watch television? 

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

    Bunnies



    This little bunny lives by me.  I'll call her Betty.  Who knows?  She may be related to the Easter Bunny! Betty has left evidence in my yard as she burrows for her home. Little tufts of fur can be seen occasionally floating on the wind or stuck on some nearby weeds. Once when moving some fallen leaves away from my house, a handful of baby bunnies no bigger than my fingers scurried away.

    Here are some facts about bunnies:

    • More than half the world's population of bunnies live in North America
    • A female bunny is called a doe, a male bunny is called a buck
    • Baby bunnies are called kits 
    • A bunny has 28 teeth and those teeth never stop growing 
    • Bunnies are recognized as symbols of fertility & rebirth and often associated with Easter and spring 
    Betty and I can peacefully coexist as long as she does not bother me or chew on my plants too much. Bunnies may be cute and cuddly to some, but to me-- the best bunny is a chocolate bunny!  

    Do you have cute and cuddly creatures living in your yard?