Groundhog’s Day

Howdy friends!  Happy Groundhog’s Day!

So, the furry little rodent saw his shadow this morning, which means one thing:  It’s pretty sunny in Pennsylvania this time of year!  Just kidding.  So, it’s supposed to mean 6 more weeks of winter.  But, rest easy, readers.  Phil’s only been right 6 of the last 30 years.  It’s actually good that he saw his shadow, because if we count on him being wrong, as usual, that means an early spring!  Or, it could mean absolutely nothing and we’ll all just have to wait and see.  If I wasn’t such an optimist, I’d think the ladder to be true!

Did you know that Groundhog’s Day actually came to be because German settlers in Pennsylvania had a saying.

 “For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May”

And, let’s not forget that movie!  Bill Murray is cursed to repeat the same day over and over again until he gets it right.  Bill Murray, if you’re reading this (and I can only hope you are), I have to tell you that the “Don’t drive angry” scene cracked me up!  Long before this movie came out, I used to give my baby sister rides on my bicycle.  To make her not be scared, I used to say, “Don’t drive wacky!”  I would wiggle the handlebars back and forth rapidly and she would laugh.  Til one day when I wrecked and she got a fat lip.  Yeah.  Oops.

But, maybe repeating the day isn’t such a terrible curse!  I think there are several days in my life that I wish I could repeat until I got them right, with no consequence other than my own learning.  In fact, the learning aspect of the movie is probably one of the most endearing.  He begins taking piano lessons, a true novice at first, but he is able to learn from day to day while his teacher remembers nothing of his past visits.  Wouldn’t it be a miracle if we could learn from our mistakes while those around us forgot that they ever happened?!

Imagine if everyone could pick a day to repeat until they got it right.  Our doctors could cure diseases.  Our scientists could find the right answers to their scientific questions (Very specific, eh?!).  Our students would excel in their classes; our artists would never fail at brilliance.  I would have wowed the powers that be, and get promoted instead of fired.  Our loved ones would see a doctor for that cough or that twinge in the side before it was too late.

But, maybe it’s not unfortunate that everything we do has consequences and some are good and some are bad.  Maybe everything has to be the way it is because whatever makes the world go round says so.  I believe that’s God.  And, I believe that everything happens for a reason.  Oh, it’s pretty hard to find the reason when I’m sitting here, bored and tired because I can’t seem to sleep through the night.

But, friends, that’s what it is to believe.  If I say I believe that everything happens for a reason, then I have to truly believe that everything happens for a reason.  Even this.

So, on this Groundhog’s Day; I’m going to count my blessings for the sunshine rather than curse poor old Punxsutawney Phil.

Have a great day, friends!  (And don’t drive angry!)

Hockey Night

Hello again everyone.

Well, I had such a great day today that I couldn’t wait to share it with you!  My son, who is 16, plays varsity hockey.  Unfortunately, it’s been a tumultuous season.  This year, some of the players that he played with when he was younger returned after playing on more “competitive” teams.  That is, they left our area to play for teams that were “better”.  However, as seniors, they decided to come back and play for their hometown.

This seems like it would be a great thing.  And in some ways it is.  But, my son and a couple other players, ended up getting short-changed.  I call these “old-kids-who-came-back” the “superstars”.  It’s not that I mean to be sarcastic.  Ok, that’s part of it.  But, it’s just that – while they’re good, they’re not amazing.  Typically, we are still winning and losing against the same teams that the high school team has won and lost against since forever.

So, we have the “superstars” and we also have the “freshmen”.  We live in a pretty remote area and we only have a varsity team.  Either you make it or you don’t.  Most years there are very few freshmen who even try for the team and not many who actually make it.  Maybe there will be one or two.  This year we have 5 freshmen on the team.  Now, again, I’m not saying that they’re not good.  But again, they’re not amazing.  They just aren’t.

Now let me get one thing straight before I continue.  My son is also not amazing.  He is, at best, a little better than average when given the chance but sometimes he could use a little work.

So that brings me back to the whole point.  This year, he hasn’t been getting much of a chance.  The first game he didn’t even touch the ice.  I waited until I talked to him to get super mad.  I thought there must be a reason.  After all, he played last year on the varsity team.  Maybe there was a reason.  Nope.  And so, since that first game at the end of November til now, we have watched a lot of games where he barely played and some where he didn’t play at all.

But, oddly enough, there have also been games where he has played a reasonable amount of time.  In a way, this has just added to the confusion.  As I said, it’s been tumultuous.

However…I just kept hoping.  And tonight he STARTED!

He played the whole game on the first line.  I was so proud.  He was so excited!  My husband did the announcing and got to announce our son in the starting lineup!  I can’t remember a recent night with more smiles!

I should mention, we lost the game 5-4.  But he played really well and it really didn’t feel like a loss!!

Sleep well, friends; and dream about your hopes coming true!

Seeking Angels and Demons

Hello friends.  I thought I would share some of what’s haunting me with you.  Maybe you can relate.

I don’t mean the Angels and Demons of Dan Brown’s book – great book though – go read it!

What I mean is almost just as involved, though.  If you’re old enough to remember, maybe you can recall the photos that cropped up everywhere in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11/01 tragedy.

In some, people swore they saw angels – perhaps some good touching down to save those who were saved.  To be fair; a lot fewer people died that day than could have.  Many were certainly saved by some blessing.  In other pictures, people see demons.  Surely, there was a lot of evil at play that day.

I once read an article that said that the human mind seeks out familiar shapes and concepts, because that’s what our mind was designed to do – to make sense of what we’re seeing.  So, maybe it’s all just seeing shapes in clouds.

On that same note, I have been struggling to make sense of my recent firing.  It’s pretty hard to make peace with something that just doesn’t make any sense.  By all accounts, I got along well with everyone; I was good at my job; I was good at learning new aspects of my job.  The other workers and project managers that I worked with seemed to like me.  I didn’t ever treat anyone with disrespect inasmuch as yelling, swearing, or being condescending or mean.  In fact, the reason that my boss cited for my dismissal was that I had sent a private message to her regarding another worker.  I said that I was having a hard time finding a confirmation email and wondered if this other worker (who was still newish) could have done something incorrectly.  I was dismissed from my job because it was “not my place” to say these things.

Now, I have to admit that I had been “in trouble” on two other occasions for typing a communication and saying something that “wasn’t my place.”  The first, back in November, was when I answered a question that my boss’s boss had asked me.  I indicated that the new girl was going to be taking over this project.  Well, apparently, when a new person takes over a project, there has to be a grand proclamation.  It was “not my place” to say that she was taking over.  **In fact, they all claimed that this new girl was not taking over; but she was doing ALL the work.  I call that taking over.**

As punishment, I had to have 8 weeks of one-on-one counseling with HR.  Ironically, they told me several times that I “shouldn’t think of it as punishment. “  They were doing it “to help me grow.”  After eight weeks, I mentioned in the meeting request that it had been 8 weeks.  That also was “not my place.”

So, back to our angels and demons.  I feel like I’m going crazy.  No one gets fired over those reasons, right?!  They can’t possibly have thought it was better to start over with a new person than to educate indoctrinate the one they had.  My mind can’t process it.  Can’t make sense of it.

There has to be something else.  Maybe it was the $16,000 discrepancy I found on an invoice a week and a half before my termination?  I mentioned that in a private meeting with my boss and told her that I just wanted it known that I was not the one who had changed numbers in the database.  But, maybe I’m making excuses.  Looking for demons.  After all, I’m not even 100% sure that the discrepancy was a discrepancy.  It could have just been an overlookance.

The one thing that I know, is that I refuse to compromise my integrity no matter whether these people think I did something wrong or not.  I refused to apologize for a “misunderstanding”; which, quite frankly, was not a misunderstanding at all.

I didn’t fabricate that this girl was now doing all of the work that I had once done.  I didn’t imagine the meetings, both before she started and after she’d begun, where our team talked about how the new girl would be taking some of the work off of my shoulders.  It was no misunderstanding.  Maybe my boss didn’t tell her boss and when I mentioned it, she got in trouble and threw me to the wolves.

HR was furious when I refused to admit that I had purposely undermined my boss.  They refused to yield that it was anything less – certainly it was a lot more than a misunderstanding!  But it wasn’t.

So, what can you do when you can no longer trust your HR department?  What can you do besides go along with the plan as you watch the house of cards collapse?  You have no one to go to.  No recourse.

Ah, but lest I leave you with no hope; here’s the thing……Becoming hopeless and desolate would allow them a victory – even if they never knew it.  I would know.  So, I refuse.  I will stand tall and be proud in the knowledge that I did nothing to be ashamed of.  And I will just wait for the hand of God to move the right pieces into place.

Stampin’ Up Garden in Bloom

Hi everyone!  Today I thought I would show off a card I made for a Thank You note for a friend.

I used all Stampin’ Up products, though some are “retired”.  I used the “Garden in Bloom” stamp set; Island Indigo, Summer Sun, So Saffron, and Designer Series paper.  I used standard, off-white, grograin ribbon, and I used Island Indigo and Wild Wasabi ink.

It was really a quick and easy project.  I cut out all the paper and also an “experiment” piece in the same size as the So Saffron piece.

I wanted to play around with stamping the blue ink off once before using it on my image.  I think it worked pretty well.  There were some parts, like in the bottom right corner, that the image didn’t fully stamp; but I think that makes it look unique.  I meant to use the same method for the leaves, but forgot J.  So I ended up using the same color for the background leaves as the lines of the leaves.

I actually like the same color-on-color look.  It’s a lot more subtle and I think it looks more like a real leaf.

The Garden in Bloom set has some butterflies and I considered using them on this card.  I do love butterflies.  But, in the end, I felt like less was more.

I love Stampin’ Up and I have been a demonstrator on and off for the last 15 or more years.  The thing I don’t like is that they “retire” their products too soon.  I know they want to stay competitive with new products; but I have approximately 100 wood-mount stamps and another 100 that are either photopolymer or clear-mount.  Of the more than 200 sets that I have, only 32 are not retired.  And, the retired list for this year will come out in April or May to make way for the new catalog in June, so I expect that I’ll lose another 5-10 sets then…..of course, I also plan to buy a bunch from the new Occasions Catalog J.

The Occasions Catalog is one of SU’s “mini” catalogs that they have throughout the year.  The products in these catalogs may or may not make it into the yearly catalog in June.  If they do not make it, then they too become retired and then I feel guilty showing cards that I made with them.

This is especially disheartening with Christmas sets for me.  There are some Christmas sets that I bought and adored in 2016.  But, I just didn’t have time to stamp one card.  In fact, I was so completely overwhelmed at Christmas time that I was still wrapping presents at 1am on Christmas morning.  It’s the first year in 20 that I didn’t send cards to anyone.  And now, I’m looking at all the sets with sadness because I know some of them will “retire”.  L  I wish that each “new” product could have a guaranteed “life-span” of at least 2 years…3 would be even better.

In fact, as I type this, I’m thinking that I had planned to do a “Christmas in July” workshop.  But, I only have 4 sets that are not either retired, or from the mini catalog.  Of course; the new catalog will be out by then, so I guess we’ll see.

However, I will say that I love SU’s products.  They are always high quality and the couple of times over the last 20 years that I have had something wrong with a product, they have replaced it easily.  Also, my friend and upline demonstrator’s house burned down a few years ago and I believe SU donated some products to keep her going.

I do, on occasion, use stamps from other companies.  I love them; but they are really hard to find if someone wants the same stamp set.

So folks, that’s today’s card and thoughts.  I will make a few more this weekend and I’ll share them with you!


Hope you liked it!

Everything – That Means EVERYTHING – Happens For A Reason

Hi there friends!  Sorry for my long absence!  I came down with the flu last week.  Yuck.  I had two days where I never left bed.  But, I’m on the mend now and back for another hopeful post!

So, remember how I said that I think everything happens for a reason?  Well, I said it.  If you don’t remember, you should go back and read more of my posts!  🙂

Well, I had a bit of a (possibly fever-induced) epiphany last week!  I was thinking that there just can’t really be any rhyme or reason for me losing my job.  I loved that job.  I loved the work, the hours, the people, the flexibility.  Ok, not the pay.  But, I liked it well enough to contend with it.

Maybe “Everything Happens For A Reason” doesn’t always mean MY reason.

So, I was thinking I was a bit of a hypocrite by saying that everything happens for a reason.  How can bad things have reasons?  That’s ludicrous.  And a cop-out.  Or is it?

Have you ever seen Bruce Almighty?  Bruce doesn’t think anything happens for a reason.  Then he gets to play God for a couple days.  He hears all those pleas to win the lottery.  So he grants them all.  And everyone gets $12 or something.  We all realize that everyone can’t get everything they want.  But it’s more than that.

I think that for one person to receive; another has to let go.  For one to win, another has to lose.  So, what if life is one big heart transplant?!  Maybe “Everything Happens For A Reason” doesn’t always mean MY reason.

So, I lost my job.  It sucks.  But, I’m not going to lose my house or my cars.  In fact, very little has changed.  I’m still paying off my credit cards.  The only big change is that our planned trip to Disney World is cancelled postponed until things are back on track.  It’s a bummer.

But what about everyone else?  Well, let’s look at the rest of the team I worked with.  Two young, amazing women.  One is getting married this summer.  She has a new car.  They share custody of his son.  They have had some pretty horrible trials recently.  If she lost her job, it would be a disaster.  Another is not officially engaged.  She and her boyfriend are trying to save up enough money to begin a life together.  They are strong, wonderful people; but they have their own strife.  Another woman, closer to my age, just started.  She has young children and a husband whose job is very demanding.  Her job is the haircuts, the sports, the extra cheer clinics, and the milkshakes after the lost soccer game.  Hers is the extra income that lets them keep up with everything from family to living expenses to little extras now and then.

Then let’s look at the person who will fill my role.  She must be leaving her current job for a reason.  We don’t know what that reason is.  I once worked for a terrible boss.  He was mean to the core as well as completely inept at everything that my job entailed.  I have nothing but sympathy for anyone working in an abusive work environment. Or, maybe the pay or the vacation and benefits weren’t keeping up with the times.  It’s pretty hard to make ends meet when you’re working in a professional environment that pays less than McDonald’s.  I can only speculate.

So, maybe this time, “Everything” is happening because someone else really needed things to go this way.

And, friends, you know what?  That thought makes me feel a little bit better.  I played my “Angry Playlist” today and noticed that I’m really not angry anymore.  Or sad.  Or confused.

I’m ok.

I think the hardest part of the journey is over.

Also, I had a really good hair day today!!  🙂 🙂

Hope you all had a rockin’ day too!


Pokémon Go

Hi everyone!  I have so much to tell you and it’s all so unrelated that I feel like I have ADD!  Where to begin?!

Well, how about with Pokémon?!  Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock since last summer, you probably have at least heard of, if not played, Pokémon Go.  This game hit the US in July of 2016.  My kids, all adults or older teens, begged me to play.  I love gaming and I had hidden all of the old cards and video games away years ago on a hunch that they might become valuable.  I figured, if I was wrong, no loss.

Well, anyway, back to PoGo.  So, if you haven’t played – even if you’re not a kid – I urge you to play.  It’s a fun way to get outside and get moving.  In the winter time, the last thing we want to do sometimes is take a walk; but at least we’re getting out of the house and driving to some of the locations.

So here’s how it works:  you download this app to your phone.  Then you go to places that are significant landmarks (often churches, libraries, court houses, and other points of interest).  A lot of these will be “Poke Stops”.  So, you swipe the disk on your screen and you get “stuff”.  You’ll need this “stuff” to catch the Pokémon.

Next, you walk around and locate the creatures.  Let me just say, some of them are SO cute!  So, let’s say that the very first thing you catch is a Bulbasaur.  Then, you’re walking around and you see another Bulbasaur and you think, “Gee, I already got one of those, so I don’t need this one.”  Well, yes you do.  You have to get a number of some of the Pokémon in order to “evolve” them.  Some evolve once; some evolve more than once and some don’t evolve at all.  Some don’t evolve now, but may evolve later.  Sounds complicated, right?  It really isn’t though.  The bottom line is that you “gotta catch em all”!

So you also have the option of “hatching eggs”.  This will help you get some Pokémon that you can’t find and also to evolve hard to find ones.  This is where the walking part comes in.  Niantic designed the game so that you actually have to get out and move around.  No treadmills, sorry.  It’s a GPS-based game; so you have to move from place to place.  (And it knows if you’re in a car, so don’t bother).  So, you get eggs at Poke Stops.  They come in 2k, 5k and 10k.  You have to walk said distance in order to hatch the egg.  I have tried walking around my house and that doesn’t seem to be very effective either.  You have to actually go somewhere where you are moving a significant distance.

My daughter and I went to Mall of America in Bloomington, MN for Christmas shopping last December and it is a HAVEN for Poke Stops and the walking is totally trackable in the Pokémon app.  Also, MOA has WiFi; so that makes it totally worth it.  We each also had 2 battery packs.  PoGo is a fast battery drain.

So, in July we started walking, hatching, and catching.  (There’s also battling, gym training and more, but I’m not covering that today.)  By the time February rolled around, there were only 5 Pokémon that I still hadn’t caught and another 8 which are either unavailable to everyone, or not available in the USA.

Now, about those 5.  Tiny rant here.  I live in a small town.  I have spent hours playing this game and have never seen these 5.  Worse, 4 of them are upper evolutions of Pokémon that are so rare that I haven’t been able to catch enough to evolve them.  Seriously, you earn 3 “candies” for every caught Pokémon.  You can trade them in for another 1 candy.  So, 4 apiece.  One of the Pokémon that I still need requires Four HUNDRED candies.  And the “Magikarp” fish that I have to catch is pretty rare.  I’m lucky if I find one ever two to three weeks.  I have currently caught 44.  I need 100.  Pretty frustrating, not gonna lie.

Now, when you hatch a Pokémon, you get more than the standard 4 candies.  But this can also be frustrating.  I have a “Kubuto” which can evolve into a “Kabutops” with 50 candies.  I hatched my Kubuto and got 32 candies.  I have never even seen another one.

Meanwhile; there are super-common Pokémon that eventually the player starts to be a little resentful of.  Like really, another Weedle?!

But, I digress.  Niantic has had a couple of “special events” where you could catch extra stuff.  That has been super helpful and fun to revive our desire to play.  But, I admit…we were getting bored……..til last Thursday!

SECOND GENERATION!!!  So, a great re-boot of the game.  It really isn’t a re-boot, per se.  The game is the same, but with a TON more/new characters.  There are 100 characters in the new gen.  However, again, there are 5 “Legendary” Pokémon that are not available at this time (and some of the other ones may be location-specific like in gen I).  I’m excited to say that I already have 42 of the new ones.

There is a catch to evolving though – with some of the Pokémon, you will need to find “special items” to evolve.  I used a “dragon scale” to evolve my gen I “Seadra” into gen II’s “Kingdra”.  I also used a “Metal Coat” (Which I thought looked like a tin can, but whatever.) to evolve my gen I “Onix” into a “Steelix” from gen II.  Again, the problem here is that, in a small town, there aren’t a lot of Poke Stops and these special items are hard to get.  My daughter and I drove to all the stops in town yesterday and again today – spending a total of about 6 hours just hitting Poke Stops and we did not get a single “special item”.

Which leads me to my whole point of this post.  Of the Pokémon that I don’t have – will I ever be ABLE to get them?  Will they be so rare that I can never find them?

I would love to hear from people in small towns and big cities.  What have you gotten?  What have you seen?  What doesn’t appear to be out there at all?

Let me know!  I’d love to hear from you!!!

Here’s a list of what I have so far:

189 Jumpluff 169 Crobat 198 Murkrow  
195 Quagsire 170 Chinchou 202 Wobbuffet  
208 Steelix 173 Cleffa 209 Snubbull  
230 Kingdra 177 Natu 215 Sneasel  
152 Chikorita 178 Xatu 216 Teddiursa  
153 Bayleef 183 Marill 217 Ursaring  
161 Sentret 185 Sudowoodo 220 Swinub  
162 Furret 187 Hoppip 221 Piloswine  
163 Hoothoot 188 Skiploom 227 Skarmory  
164 Noctowl 190 Aipom 231 Phanpy  
165 Ledyba 191 Sunkern 232 Donphan  
166 Ledian 194 Wooper 234 Stantler  
167 Spinarak 196 Espeon 238 Smoochum  
168 Ariados 197 Umbreon 239 Elekid

How to make Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Hello Friends!  Long time, no chat.  I’ll admit, it’s been a tough time.

Well, last weekend I made this amazing Chicken Gnocchi Soup that is a copy-cat recipe from Olive Garden.

I am here to show you how to make it!  It’s actually a super simple recipe to make.  I recommend starting out by gathering all of your ingredients and then getting everything cut and measured before you start.  Once you start this soup, because of its cream base; it is not something you can walk away from.


So let’s get started!

Here is the list of ingredients.  Go ahead and shop and prepare these things and then I’ll show you what to do….I’ll wait.  (humming)

6 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons olive oil

1½  cup onion, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup celery, diced

8 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

2/3 cup flour

8 cups chicken broth

3 cups half & half

4 cups white meat chicken

2 pounds gnocchi

6 cups baby spinach, stems removed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil


Ok, got everything?  Great!

So, I like to sauté all of my vegetables in a large frying pan to start.  So, combine your butter (no cheating – real butter!) and olive oil over medium heat until it is melted and mixed.  Margarine is a chemical.  It’s not real food.  Don’t do that to yourself!  Butter is yummy and it’s natural!

So, once the butter and olive oil are melted and mixed, go ahead and add your onions, carrots, celery and garlic.



Look what I found instead of fresh garlic!  I love this stuff.  Whenever you chop garlic, you run the risk of finding bad cloves and not having enough.  Also, it doesn’t keep very well (or in my house, it seems to get lost and then found months later – ew!)  Last, chopping garlic makes your hands stinky.  So I use this stuff.  It tells you on the container how much is equal to one clove.  (Confession:  I totally don’t measure.)





So, on the other burner, I have my large soup pot.  I have put my chicken broth in there to start simmering.  I choose one large “low sodium” and one regular chicken broth.  I can always add salt later; but you can’t do anything about food that tastes too salty.  Speaking of which, I do add my own salt and pepper to the vegetables.  Just enough for taste.  You can add more salt later if you want.

Once it begins to simmer, I add the chicken.  I use “Tyson Grilled & Ready Oven Roasted Diced Chicken Breast”.  I love that I can just throw it in and I don’t have to cook and chop it.

So, while we’ve been chatting, your vegetables should have begun to get nice and tender.  Make sure to stir pretty often, as you don’t want them to get browned at all.


Once everything is nice and tender – the onions and celery should be almost see-through – then we’re going to add our flour.  This will help our soup thicken up.  I use regular all purpose flour, since there is really very little being used.  Sprinkle it on the vegetables and stir it in.  Make sure to stir this constantly as flour can burn easily.



Once your flour is incorporated, go ahead and add your cream.  Add a little and stir it completely, then a little more and finally all of it.  Incorporate the cream well, then you will add everything from the pan to the pot.  Be careful not to splash yourself!

If you do splash yourself, you’re going to have to suck it up.  You have to stir everything together now and you can’t be stopping to tend to burns.  (Just kidding…just don’t splash yourself, k?)

Once you have everything nice and combined, it’s time to make the gnocchi.  You could have done this earlier; but I like to do it right when I’m ready to put it in.  In my opinion, they get sticky if you do it too far ahead.  Besides, they’re quick to make.  Just add to boiling water and when they float for a couple minutes, they’re ready.

Now you can add them straight (strained) from their water to the soup.

Next, add your basil.


Now the spinach.  Again, I don’t measure.  Whatever looks good to me.

Let it all simmer, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.

TA DA!  You totally did it!

I serve with warm Italian Bread which I bake homemade totally buy in the bakery of the store. 🙂

I sure hope you enjoy the soup.  I make it on the weekend and we have it all week.  This is a double recipe.  You can cut it in half for fewer teenagers :).  It warms up in the microwave or on the stovetop really well.  Comment below and let me know how you did!!


What I’m Looking Forward To

Hi everyone, I hope you’re having a great day.  Our weather here in the Midwest is completely schizophrenic.  It was windy and warm the other day until evening, then I saw flurries.  Now tomorrow it’s supposed to be freezing cold again, but expected to be warm again in a couple days.

And so it is that we’re in this holding pattern of “maybe-it’s-Spring” and “Winter-isn’t-over-yet”.

When I lived down south, it was definitely becoming Spring this time of year.  In fact, we would have our Church picnic outside on the grounds on Easter Sunday (or around that time).  There was SO MUCH FOOD!  There wasn’t just one buffet table; there were several.  And people were sprawled on blankets and dressed in their new clothes.

Not so much here.  Sometimes in June, we start thinking, “I think it might be Spring!”  Not kidding.  Ah, oh well, right?

So, some things that I’m looking forward to:

Number 1:  BEAUTY AND THE BEAST!!!  I got the tickets today.  I am so excited.  I will probably cry when it starts.  BATB has been my favorite since the cartoon version came out in 1991.  I always hoped they would make a live action one.  I think the CGI is really well done, from the trailers I’ve seen and the Beast is just amazing.  I love that Belle is intelligent and she’s not afraid to exert that intelligence.  No one tells her what to think, what to feel.  There are a lot of times when she probably “talks out of turn”, but GOOD FOR HER!!  And she’s a bookworm!  I just love her admiration of books and stories.  Easily one of the best written characters in Disney lore.  I am not impressed, however, with the media saying that it is a “feminist fairytale”.  Why does everything have to be political?!  Can it not?

Number 2:  Physical Therapy release!  So, I am out of shape.  I gained some weight as I aged.  Unfortunately, when I started to exercise, I had a problem.  I wasn’t able to walk very far before my hip joint started to hurt.  It would hurt my lower back and into the groin/joint.  When I went on a shopping trip with my daughter in December, I really was in agony.  So, I’ve been seeing an amazing PT since then.  But, I think she will likely release me next week as I am almost pain free!  The pain that I still have is “I’m-still-out-of-shape” pain.  Lol.

**Side note:  If you have chronic pain and/or you “can’t” do things like you used to – no matter how young or old you are – do yourself a favor and look into Physical Therapy.  This is not the first time I have used PT for something that wasn’t right and they have helped it be right again.  I think a lot of people think that Physical Therapy is just for people who have had an accident or a surgery.  However, PT’s can help no matter what the reason.  I also think that people believe that pain is a normal part of aging.  Some people just accept that they have pain.  That isn’t necessarily true.  It never hurts to look into PT!

Perhaps I will interview my doc on exactly that point at a later date….

Now, I don’t usually watch a lot of TV.  But, surprisingly – the next 3 –

Number 3:  The new ABC show Time after Time.  I watched the pilot last night.  HG Wells and Jack the Ripper are friends.  Jack (known as “John”) is about to be caught when he uses the Time Machine and travels to New York City in the present day.  George (HG) follows him and now they are racing against “time” to find and stop John before he kills again.  The problem is, they can never catch him or the show would be over.  Maybe they can catch him at the end of the season and then next season will offer a new “time” problem.  This will be a shame, though; because as much as you don’t want to like a killer, he’s totally hot and self-aware – even 130 years in the future!  I am interested to see where this show goes.  Oh, and to be honest, George isn’t hard to look at either!  Teehee  🙂

Number 4:  Dancing with the Stars.  Ok, I have long said that this show seems to have a formula.  Creepy old man; Older, overweight, desperate woman; young female athlete; disabled person; football players; and then the actual contenders.  Still, I’m a sucker for the show.  I usually start watching late enough so I can fast forward over the horrible ones.  But when it’s good.  It’s really good!

Number 5:  Once Upon A Time:  I’ll be honest.  I didn’t love last season.  Didn’t hate it, just didn’t love it.  This last Sunday the show returned and I’m excited.  Although, can we please NEVER see “aged” Hook again?!  Lmao  J  Also, speaking of Hook…if modern medicine can attach a donor hand; can’t the magic world come up with something?  Just saying.  The new season looks like it might be really interesting.  I love the idea of friends’ children being at war.  Will this tear them all apart?  How could it not?  Maybe everyone will be “good” in the end?  Meh, what fun would that be?!


Number 6:  2 Proms!  My son and his girlfriend go to different schools.  Hence, 2 proms.  Omg, adorable overload!  Pics to follow.



And, last – the thing that I really think about a lot –

Number 7:  Thunder and Lightning.  If you live someplace where there is never a long period of snowy, cold, winter; you won’t get this.  But if you have a for-real winter, you’ll understand.  There is no sound more fascinating, more relaxing, than the sound of the first thunderstorm of the year.  The thunder growls in the distance like a hunger pain needing to be satiated.  And the lightning cracks across the sky like the hatching of new beginnings everywhere.

There is no smell like the electrified earth that calls you to think of new flowers, new grass, new buds on the trees.

Did you know that smell actually has a name?  Petrichor.  Yeah, I know!  I’m weirdly excited about this!  It is a combination of the chemical called geosmin and plant oils.  Apparently the soil actually emits these things after a storm and causes the smell.

I think it’s a taste too; a taste that feels like perfectly cool water when you’re parched.

But, oh…..the one thing above all…..after the storm, if it’s at the right time; and if not, then maybe after the next storm……..but always after a night of clashing thunderbolts streaking the sky with their crooked lights…’s the morning when the birds have returned and as they wake with the peeking sun you begin to see it.  To see them.

The tiny green buds begin to smudge their way across the previously-bare tree branches.  There is a haze of dewy green across the hills and into the valleys.   You begin to feel that change is about to happen.  You can see that gentle green growing.  And then…….

The next storm after that.  And you wake to an explosion of green!  The buds uncurl themselves into full leaves!  Flowers have been poking through and now they greet the rising sun’s kisses with happy tones of red, yellow and green.  And you look out across the world and you just can’t imagine that all this, and even the sky itself, was so grey not too long ago.  And now, the grey is gone and color rejoices with you!

Yep, safe to say that I’m ready to see some color in my life.  To get rid of the grey.

I hope all of you embrace all the color of life today!


Memories of Dad

Good Afternoon, everyone.

Today is a sad anniversary for my family – the anniversary of the day my dad left this world.  But, it’s not without hope!  Read on, to feel our pain and see our triumph!

March 10, 1980 was a Monday.  I don’t remember if I went to school that day.  What I do remember is that I was with a very special family who had been friends to my mom and dad for years.  We had taco nights alternating from our house to theirs; Clothes were handed down from their oldest daughter to me, back to their second daughter and back to my little sister.  I learned how to ride a bike at their house.  And, this day, this horrible, sad, Monday, they babysat my sister and me while my mother went to the hospital to visit my dad.

My dad was never angry.  He seemed to always be happy.  I can literally never once remember him being cross.

He had a hammock which he strung between 2 trees in our backyard and his 6 foot 4 inch body would sway back and forth in it on lazy Georgia days from May to September.

One summer, a tree in the corner of our yard was infested with thousands of caterpillars.  Dad knew they would kill the tree; but he still shared my fascination of them all.

He played trumpet in the Army.  He practiced every night.  He played guitar and piano too.  He wrote beautiful marches for his band.  Our house was always filled with music.

He let me copy my handprint in the copy machine at work.  I wish we had thought to keep one.

When I had my tonsils out, he built a snowman with my mom outside my window because I was too sick to play.  He also bought me a giant stuffed blue elephant.

I loved him very, very much.  It seems that most people who knew him loved him too.

In 1980, I was in the second grade.  Between first and second grade, my mother had taken us all to a small tourist town in Upper Michigan for a vacation.  My dad had loved it.  It was a different world.  Everything moved at a different pace compared to the city of Atlanta.

Once we returned from vacation, as near as I can figure out, dad must have started to feel sick.  He visited the doctor in October of 1979.  Surely, everyone thought he would treat this cancer aggressively and win.

Unfortunately, by Christmas, things were looking grim.

My mother insisted that my sister and I would be allowed to visit him in the hospital.  She was pregnant with my brother and home health care would have been impractical, and was far from the usual mainstream idea it is today.  So, we would drive from our home to the hospital several times a week.

I remember stopping and playing at the Burger King play area.

I remember scooping up the rare fresh snow that fell one day to bring in to dad – and then eating it!

I remember coloring in special coloring books that were kept at the hospital.  My sister and I sat on the floor and colored, my mother knitted and talked with dad.  My dad laid there, tubes everywhere; not lounging in a hammock, not laughing and happy.  Just existing.  Barely.

That day in March so many years ago, my mother went to the hospital alone.  She had been doing so for about a week.  Even at 7, I knew things were probably bad.  And so, that Monday, before she even came to pick us up, I knew.  How long did it take us to get home?  Was our Pastor already there?  I don’t know.

My mother and the Pastor sat with me on the couch and my mother’s words will never leave my mind:  “You know I have always been open and honest about your father and his sickness.”  I think I must have nodded before she continued.  “Today, your father died.”

I was on a merry-go-round that was spinning too fast.  Everything was a blur.  I was crying.  My mother was crying.  My sister was watching something on Nickelodeon.  She turned and asked why we were crying.  My mother told her.

Died?  My dad had DIED?!

How could this be true?  But it was.

Days later we would have to say goodbye.  I walked up to the casket.  I wanted to touch his hand one last time.  It was so cold and hard.  It wasn’t the same hand that played trumpet and piano and guitar.  Not the same hand I held to cross the street.  Couldn’t be the same hand that tickled me into fits of laughter.

We went to the cemetery.  A long line of black sadness following us.  It was a very cold, rainy day.  It was as if all of the world knew our heartbreak and cried with us.  Someone spoke of my dad’s life.  A speech about what a loss he was.  Then, somewhere far away a bugler played taps and a second one shook with its sad echo.  The American Flag was folded and given to my mother.

And we left him there.  He was gone.

And yet…….if we had never lost my father, I doubt we would ever have moved to Michigan.  I would never have met my husband, had my children.  Sure, I would have met someone and would have had children….but not THIS husband, and not THESE kids.  I know that sounds crazy; but I believe my life would have been very different if my father had lived.  Happier?  Maybe.  But maybe the agony of losing a father is what makes me the compassionate and loyal friend and person that I am.

I think that my father would be proud that I choose to be a happy person.  Sure, I have my days when I’m down.  That’s only natural.  But, I’m not down and out!  Just down…but never count me out!

I miss dad every day.  I know his friends miss him.  He had many.  I know my mom misses him too.  But, we’re all ok.  And that, my friends, is the hope for today!

I hope you’re all “ok” today as well.

Happy Friday!  🙂

Weight Loss

Howdy friends.

Well, since I have all this free time right now; I might as well join some fitness classes and lose some weight.  So, congratulations.  You can follow my journey here!

I am really motivated by friends and, since I have none who will join these classes and/or workout with me, this is going to be a very hard thing for me to start and stay with.

So, I did the next best thing:  I bought cute workout clothes.  Teehee.  Don’t tell my husband!!

I bought some tight workout pants because one of the classes that I’m planning to take is a cycling class and I don’t want to wear shorts that might ride up or loose-leg sweatpants.  I got them from Fabletics by Kate Hudson.  They have some really cute stuff.  Unfortunately, sometimes they sell out of my size.  🙁  I also got some cute stuff from Shopko.  I really like some of the styles of shorts and tanks at Shopko.  I got one tank and a pair of shorts with spandex leggings on the inside.  I am hoping this will reduce ride up and chafing on account of my fat legs.  By summer this shouldn’t be an issue, right?!

I am going to start tomorrow, Monday, March 20.  I’ll be joining two fitness classes at our local YMCA.  One is Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the other is Tuesday and Thursday.  So, yes, I will be going to the gym 5 days a week.  The classes are at 4:45 and 5:15 respectively.  I didn’t choose morning classes because….well, duh.  Morning.  Nope.


So, the first class is “Indoor Cycling”.  The brochure says:  

“Low impact option when you want a high intensity workout. Great for all ages and skill levels. Set to rocking music, you are sure to break a sweat. Great way to increase lower body strength and cardiovascular endurance.”

Yeah, bicycle that doesn’t move.  How hard could it be.  Right?




The second class is called “Triple Threat”.  I’m scared already.  The brochure says:

“This 3 day series of workouts is 30 minutes of non-stop action! Each day features a different focus.

  • Day 1 is strength;
  • Day 2 is cardio;
  • Day 3 is yoga!”

Ok, two hard days and then yoga.  Yoga looks like it’s relaxing.  There’s like a mat that you put on the floor so you can lay on it.  I think I’ll like yoga.  Right?

My goal is a bikini.  Seriously.  Like, no amount of pounds…just bikini.  And I don’t want to just wear one because I can.  I want to look good in it!  I want to be proud of it!!

So, I hope you will all be rooting for me.  This is going to be interesting.

I will also be changing my diet slightly.  Believe it or not; one of my biggest problems is I don’t always remember to eat.  Especially now that I’m not working, sometimes I will forget to eat until 7 pm or later.  I also have some stomach issues, so a lot of times, food refluxes.  Ew.  So, sometimes I don’t eat because feeling hungry isn’t as bad as feeling “refluxy”.

I will start by eating a piece of fruit and possibly either eggs or oatmeal in the morning.  I will eat lean turkey or chicken, cheese, nuts, salad and vegetables (not all at the same time) for lunch.  For dinner, I will eat mostly pork or chicken, vegetables steamed or sautéed in olive oil, and baked or steamed potatoes (or none).  I will still be eating pasta sometimes.  I will eat toast with butter with my eggs.  I will drink mostly water, but occasionally milk.

I don’t usually drink alcohol, so I’m not giving anything up there.  I gave up soda in December and (thankfully) haven’t picked the habit back up again.  I did have the rare Pepsi today when I had lunch with a friend and I thought, “I don’t even want this.”  Lol.

I also have never been a smoker.  In fact, generally speaking, I’m probably pretty healthy.  Just out of shape.  (Round is a shape….)  I’m really excited to see results.  But I’m really a little scared at feeling sore!!


I will look forward to reporting back to you!  Wish me luck!


Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Mashed Baby Reds and Green Beans

Greetings Readers!

So today I am sharing with you a favorite recipe of mine and I’m also sharing how easy it is to make an entire meal with this recipe at the center.

You may have seen this one on Pinterest.  Again, as I’ve said before – sometimes you see things on Pinterest and either one of two things happens.  One, you click and the link is a dead end; or two, the recipe is anything but easy.

Nobody got time for that!

So, this one is super easy!


I use a disposable pan for easy clean up.  You can also use a cookie sheet; but using a pan keeps the juices locked in and makes the chicken very tender and never dry.  I ALWAYS spray the pan with cooking spray!!

I start with boneless, skinless breasts.  I’m making a lot tonight because we have company.

Next, I’m using Mayo and Parmesan Cheese. 

The recipe indicates how much to use; but I wing it.  Next, I add salt and pepper to this mix and mix it altogether.







Next, I spoon it onto the breasts and spread it evenly.

Then I sprinkle the bread crumbs on top.

Last thing, I cover it with aluminum foil and put it in the oven.

So, for the rest of the meal, I take red potatoes, rinse them in the sink and then put them into a pot of water to boil.

I also use canned green beans.  Open them and put them in a microwave-safe dish and put in the microwave until I’m ready to start them.

Then – I walk away.  Yeah.  That’s really just about it.

I set the timer for 45 minutes.  So, when the timer goes off, I uncover the chicken so it can brown while I get the potatoes and beans ready.  I strain and mash the potatoes and microwave the beans.

And I’m done!  Dinner is served.  (Drops mic)

How You Can Make Money With Your Blog In As Little As 20 Minutes! …and other lies you’ve heard.

Hello friends,

**Disclaimer:  Please read the following post with humor in mind.  While some of it is 100% true; this is not meant to make you give up if you are attempting a blog and it is not an indication that I have given up.

Well, an interesting thing happened this week.  After working on creating this blog for almost 11 weeks – almost three months – I had to finally admit it.  This is anything but easy.  If you have seen the many posts out there that say you can start a blog and make money with it in ____________(insert small amount of time here); you are not alone.

Now, I’m not about to say that these people are lying.  Maybe it all did come together for them fairly easily and quickly.  But, for the rest of us there is one certainty.  It’s going to be a lot of learning and a lot of good, hard work.

Building the site and writing the posts? Easy peasy.  But learning how to get followers and then how to get money…holy moly.

What is Google analytics?!  I couldn’t even SPELL that on Monday!  Google Adsense?  How are a bunch of Instagram followers going to help me?  What is Canva?  I actually just learned this today.  How do you like the graphics on this post?  Nice, eh?!  I just opened it and started “playing”.  That’s the only way to learn, I suppose.

What’s a custom 404 page?  Why do I want one? Need one?  What are breadcrumbs? What’s pagination?  (Sounds like a band.)  Discus?  Commentluv?

What are social bookmarking sites?  Do I need those?  Why?  What are digg, stumbleupon,  Do I need media management tools?  Hootsuite and Buffer?  Are they free?  What are they for?  Who are they for?

Should I do a newsletter?  Isn’t the blog kinda the same thing?  Why do I need a newsletter to send to people who are reading the blog?

There’s something called “blogging networks”….yeah, networks of blogging, I guess.  No idea.  There’s blogengage, blokube, bizsugar, inbound.  I haven’t had time to go check them out.  Not sure what the idea is at all.  One more bullet on the points of no return.

And then, all of the advice says I have to have a “niche”…I can’t have a few things – like stamping, cooking, books, travel, etc….Nope.  You have to pick ONE thing and that has to be your specialty.

Well, guess what?!  Nobody lives their life doing just one thing.  I have lots to share and I hope that people will follow me because they never know what to expect.  I’m like a box of freaking chocolate.

One thing that completely stresses me out is that I’m supposed to have pictures to go with everything.  I guess I’ll have to take one of me crying for this post.  And then I have to post it on Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram – but I still don’t know where all the people who see me crying go to drop off their money!!  Seriously, though; there are some sites that offer free pics (ahem, not THAT kind of free pics!).  One is Canva and another is Pixabay.  But if you search “free pictures”, you’ll get tons of sites that will want you to pay!!  How does free = pay?  What the heck?!

By now I’m thinking, this is like the slowest “Get rich quick” scheme I’ve ever done!  Just kidding.

So friends, I hope you don’t get discouraged.  It’s not that this stuff can’t be learned; but I think “hitting the bigtime” is more about having all of the pieces fall together at just the right time and I think a little luck goes into it as well.

For me, it’s been a case of: “What can I learn today?”  And I like that – to a degree.  I read a book about teaching young students a while ago and the writer said that, in order for students to remain challenged and engaged, the “puzzle”, i.e. the work or the task, had to be “solvable”.  In other words, if the children were not ready, then the lesson would not sink in and they would become frustrated and give up.  It’s the same with anything in life…video games, learning to drive, learning a foreign language and, yes, blogging.

Thankfully, there are tons of “mentors” out there that will help you.  You just have to find them.  I think I have found a couple – maybe as many as a few.  I look forward to continuing to nurture these new relationships and to learn from what they can tell me.

Till next time…..stay hopeful!


Four Super Easy “Swan Lake” Stampin’ Up! Cards

Hello Friends!  Just a short little post today.  I love stamping cards and wanted to share with you how easy it can be!  These four cards were super easy.  I used almost all Stampin’ Up! products, including the new stamp set “Swan Lake”.  It is a “clear” stamp, meaning that you use acrylic blocks, but the stamp itself is still rubber – so you can’t see through it like a photopolymer stamp.



For this first one, I used Tempting Turquoise for the background of the card and I folded it so that it is the inside of the card too.  A lot of times I just use standard white cardstock for that folded piece that basically IS the card itself, and then I create the card front; but this time I wanted the inside to be blue. 🙂

The top layer, which I stamped on, is that standard white cardstock.  Then, I painted the colors using Stampin’ Up!’s now retired watercolor crayons.  If you want to get some of your own, I have also used these and I loved them.  I stamped these images using Stampin’ Up! Basic Black Archival Ink Pad.  I love that it dries instantly and it doesn’t run when I use watercolor.


The next one is also  very simple and I did the same thing with the Garden Green Cardstock that I used for the background and folded part of the card.  Since Garden Green is a darker color, I didn’t want it to be the inside of the card, so I used my standard white and stamped the lily image in a matching Garden Green ink on the inside.

For the front of the card, I used a smaller piece of Garden Green paper again, but lifted it up with these little foam dots.  Here’s my secret though – unless I really need the thing being lifted to be ROUND – I use cheap foam “tape”.  You can get it in the hardware department of Walmart or any home improvement store and – since they THINK it’s for “men”, lol, it’s WAY cheaper than if you buy the same thing for “craft” purposes!!

So, I used the smaller Garden Green piece as my “base” for the front of the card.  Then, I cut a slightly smaller piece of Designer Series paper.  A note about DS paper.  I have a problem.  For real.  I am addicted to this paper.  I have SOOOOOO much of it.  I don’t have any idea what is “current” paper – or even how long it stays current.  I just buy what I like.  Shhh.  Don’t tell hubby.

So, I love this DS paper.  I then cut a smaller piece of SU’s Pacific Point and another standard white piece.  The only real work is on that white piece; so I set everything else aside.  Then I stamped the swan and the swanlings (what are baby swans called anyway?!).

The next part is a little tricky, but you are so smart – it’s a piece of cake for you!

It’s called “masking”.  So, with the ink that’s left over from my bs – Baby Swans…no, we can’t call them that either…… Well, anyway, before I clean the stamp, I stamp the image on to a post-it note.  You want to make it so that the image you stamp will stick to the paper with your swan and babies.

Then, you’re going to cut out the babies on that post-it note and put the post it over the image for your card.  Last thing, you can stamp those cattails and it will look like they are BEHIND the babies!!  Cool, right?!

I used a sponge and dabbed Tempting Turquoise for the water and Wild Wasabi for the background.  I used brown and orange colored pencils for the cattails and the swans’ beaks.

The last thing that I used was some Pool Party colored Baker’s Twine – also from SU!  I put the “top” of the card together and then put my dimensional tape at random points on the back – about nine half inch squares in all.  Then I put the card together.  TaDa!

The next one was a little harder.  I used the sets, Swan Lake and an old but cherished set called “Lovely as a Tree”.  For the paper, I used a standard white for the actual folded part of the card and the images.  I layered black and Wild Wasabi paper behind the main image.

I started by stamping the trees in the middle of the upper part of the card.  It’s important to stamp the first image in the middle and then fill in the sides as needed.  If you start on the right and then stamp another image to the left, it can look like you didn’t plan it and you just ran out of room.  I stamped my first image in the middle and then filled in trees to both the right and the left – it still goes “off the side” in both directions, but it just seems more centered.

Next I stamped the Swan so that her head is just a little lower than the middle tree and I stamped the lilies off to the sides.

I sponged Basic Gray and Wisteria Wonder for the sky and Crumb Cake for the land.  Then, I watercolored the water and lilies; and put a very “gentle” touch of green on the trees, land and water line.

That’s it.  You’re doing great!

The last one was the hardest.  I used Very Vanilla paper for the main images, standard white for the Swans – cut out; and Island Indigo for the background.  I’m in love with Island Indigo.  I love the almost regal look of the deeper blue.

I used the Wild About Flowers and (retired) World of Dreams stamp sets for the over-hanging branches and I stamped them with Crumb Cake and Garden Green…I touched the stamp to the ink pad, then stamped it onto a scrap piece of paper before the final image, so that it was lighter than usual.  I then stamped the cattails with Soft Suede ink.

I watercolored the lily and the water and colored in the cattails with colored pencil.

The hardest part of this card was cutting out the swans.  Someone has run off with my paper-cutting scissors, (or I may have mislaid them). So I had to use scissors that were ginormous!   Sigh.

But, there you go! Another great card!

If you would like to purchase any of the Stampin’ Up! products shown here, please use the contact form to reach me.  Mention the word “SWANLINGS” for a special discount!

I hope you had fun.  See you next time!




How To Raise Your Children To Be Your Friends


How to raise your children to be your friends

I’m sure this post will set some people off.  And I’m ok with that.  For some reason, there is a large group of people who believe that treating children in a negative way that they would never treat another person is somehow “good for them”.

I think that treating children with respect – from the time they are old enough to understand respect – is the way to create a healthy, positive relationship that will endure the trials you will all suffer as they grow.

I’d like to take a little bit of time to tell you why I believe these behaviors and ideas are completely wrong and share how I was able to raise three great kids who have grown to be my friends and who actually like me.

Your job is to be their parent

I’ll start in my own teenhood back in the 80’s.  My family had moved to this tiny little town when I was 13.  I was the oldest and I felt utterly alone.  Some people would come and go as friendly; but I had no deep friendships.

I was a good kid – never had a lot of interest in promiscuity or smoking and drinking, and certainly never drugs.  When I was a younger teen – 14 to 15, I would tell my mother that I was going to [where ever] and that I’d be back around [a given time].  My mother would say something like, “Be safe.” And I’d be on my way.

Now, if you are one of those people who were friendly; please know that I am forever grateful for the amount of friendship you gave.  Looking back on my own situation and knowing that my mother was often not home, I would never ever allow one of my own children to spend a lot of time with someone who had almost no parent supervision at any time.  I don’t blame anyone.  It is what it is.

But, back to the story.

So, eventually, during my 15th year, my twice-widowed mother met her 3rd husband.  He was a lunatic and a tyrant.  I was suddenly not allowed to do anything.

I never went to the movies in high school.

I never went on a “date” in high school.

I ate lunch by myself because I was so intimidated by the friendships that were formed on the hallway benches.  Friendships that I could neither understand nor participate in.

I spent every night at home in my bedroom.  I needed more than a parent.  I needed a friend.

So – on that happy note, let’s talk about the good stuff!

Just before I graduated from high school, I met this really cute guy.  I was 18 by then and this cute guy was 24.  He would come and pick me up and we would just GO.  To the movies (the movie – Navy Seals – was bad and the floor was sticky).  To the beach.  To his house.  Where ever we wanted.

By the time we hit our third “date”, we had our kids named.  We got married when I was 21 and welcomed the first of those pre-named children when I was 23. 

Nick was such a great baby.  Oh, of course, we had the same struggles as you young moms and dads are having now.  I was a breastfeeding mom and a stay-home mom.  It was exhausting.  And then, when Nick was 9 months old, we found out that we were going to have our second child!!  (Oops J)

So, when my first baby was only 18 months old, we welcomed Rachel and things got….um….well, this was adulting and parenting for REAL, y’all!

Rachel was a crier screamer.  I mean a SCREAMER.  She would roll on to her tummy and scream and rub her face into the crib sheet until her nose was raw.  I tried everything.  I held her, I swaddled her, I rocked her, I put her in my sling and “wore” her.  I walked her, I tried the swing.  White noise, rock and roll.  Fed her, changed her.  Put clothes on, took clothes off.

Nothing. Worked.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention I had a toddler too?!  Yeah.  Super-fun.  Sometimes, my husband would come home from work and we’d ALL be crying.

Well, eventually Rachel stopped screaming.  Then came the terrible twos and threes.  (At the same time).  The only thing was – they weren’t terrible!

In fact, I loved this age.  They were old enough to be able to tell me what they needed or wanted.  We could have conversations.  And I loved how they soaked up knowledge so readily.  They craved it.  They wanted to know about everything.  What was it?  Where did it come from?  What caused it?

We went to the park for picnics.  We went to the library.  We went on trips to museums and zoos.  We read books in forts that we made out of the couch cushions.  We made pancakes and waffles and a mess.

A couple more years later and Benjamin was on the way.  And we did everything all over again, all the while navigating the new minefield known as “school” for the older two.

School was a disaster

Of course, there were challenges.  In 2002, my husband had to go to Iraq for over a year.  When he got back, he and I were often at each other’s throats.  He was always angry.  I got pregnant again, but miscarried.  I wanted to try again.  He didn’t.  I didn’t know how we would heal.  But we did.

If you have read my previous posts, you know that school was an unqualified disaster for my older two children.  Nick was dyslexic, but we weren’t sure about that until 5th grade.  Rachel had a horrible condition called hyperhidrosis which caused her body temperature system to be completely non-regulatory.   (Which is probably why she screamed as a baby.)  Rachel also had an “eye-convergence disability” which caused her to see double doing anything close-up.  You know like reading and writing?!  And we didn’t know about either of these problems until she was in 4th grade.

As a side note – my children were able to slip through the cracks with these problems largely due to the fact that many states’ grading systems consist of a vague number or letter system such as 1’s 2’s and 3’s or S, U, N (Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory and Needs Improvement).  True A-F letter grading would have identified to everyone exactly how far behind these children were.  What was worse was that I knew something was wrong, but when I asked about it, the teachers said things like, “Well, I’ve seen worse.”

But again, that’s a post for another day.

Little Ben entered school and my days staying home ended.  I got various jobs.  Nothing noteworthy.  I had gone back to school when Nick was having his school troubles and now had a teaching degree.  But the field was saturated and teachers with more experience were being let go.  Worse, I was beginning to realize that politics had ruined education.  There was no more time to satiate the hunger of minds that were ravenous for more learning.  It had become about teaching to the test.  Interest in the subject matter no longer had any place.  And education was not the place for me.

So day by day we did the things that families do.  We had been a family who ate dinner together most nights.  And now, as they all began to get older and be involved in more activities, dinner was later; or on the run.  But whenever we could, we still set the table and sat down together.  We still folded our hands and asked for a blessing on more than that food on that night…I mean, sure, that’s what the words are – “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let these gifts to us be blessed.” – But surely God was blessing so much more.

Always talking and listening

My boys played sports.  Primarily hockey.  Ben also played soccer and football.  This gave us a lot of time to talk while we were driving to games.  So that’s what we did.  We talked about school.  I never admonished them much for what I call “light swearing”.  After all, “darn” and “damn” really mean the same thing and we gave those words their meaning.  Using the Lord’s name and “heavy swearing” were forbidden.

So we could talk about whatever they wanted.  I gave advice, gently.  I never judged; but I always made sure that they understood a couple of things.  First, they were free to think that girl in third period was a werido.  Sure, she might be pretty strange.  But, you don’t know what’s happening inside her world.  Maybe she’s a little weird because she has no one in her life that she can count on.  So, you don’t have to be her friend.  But you should be friendly.  A smile and a kind word can change a person’s day – or even their life.  And second, you treat everyone with respect.  Always.

Nick and I always felt like we had to have each other’s back.  As he got older, he became a comfort to me when things went wrong.  I always knew I could count on a hug from him when I was feeling inadequate.  I asked him tonight why he thinks we’re so close.  He said it’s because we’re so much alike.  I suppose that’s true.  We are the oldest.  The experiment.  The one who had the hardest time when the family moved.  The one who had to figure it out.

Your job is to be whatever they need you to be

Rachel and I also became very close.  When she was in 5th grade, she began “eye therapy” to train her eyes to be able to overcome the double-vision.  It was an hour and a half away and we went once a week.  We listened to books on tape.  She told me her fears, her dreams.  She was starting to have a hard time in school.

Remember when I said that I hate it when people say “You shouldn’t be your child’s friend”?  Well, I believe that, as a parent, you need to give your child whatever they need.  And at that time, and even now that she’s almost 20, what she needed most was a friend.

I remember how it felt to not have friends.  To be that person looking at others and wishing you could be their friend, but not trusting anyone enough to try.

So, we spend a lot of time together.  We have similar interests and hobbies.  And, more and more, she is becoming an adult-child-friend.  I respect that she is an adult.  She has begun to make friends that are healthy for her.  (As opposed to picking the ones who used her or ones that had risky lifestyles.)

The Five Key Things

One – Kids aren’t mini-adults.

They don’t have the life experience that adults have, they don’t have the maturity adults (are to supposed to) have, and they don’t have the reasoning skills adults have.

Further, some children, like my oldest, have trouble finding the right words to explain themselves – especially in a sudden misunderstanding.

Two – Remember when YOU were a kid.

I have told my kids for years, “I used to BE a kid.”  I almost always said this jokingly.  However, it is so true.  I remember being in elementary school.  I remember being in middle school and high school.  I remember being a young adult.  USE that to relate to your kids.

Three – Talk.  And Listen.

About the important stuff.  About the trivial stuff.  Make sure your kids know that they can come to you – and then when they DO, make sure you’re there.  Play games, go to movies, share funny memes.  Talk about school, about boys and girls, about friends and enemies.  Just make sure to take the time to be with them.

Four – Embrace Technology.

A lot of parents don’t see any reason to use the new apps that the kids are using.  They don’t care what the hot new thing is.  My mother is one of the baby boomers guilty of not wanting to learn to text and/or use a cell phone.  Guess what?  She barely knows her grandchildren because that’s how they communicate.  And, she doesn’t make it better by shaming them about their use of technology.

It’s also irresponsible as a parent.  You should know what your children – even older teens and frankly young adults, in my opinion – are up to on their phones.  What are they using and why?  If you don’t know, you’re opening doors that lead to heaven knows where.  Now, if you’re thinking, “I just won’t get my child a phone.”  I believe that to be a naive solution.  You want your child to be able to call you and you want to be able to reach your child.  You may want to consider a service such as Disney’s Circle.  I don’t know a lot about it; but it is a technology management tool.

Five – Respect.

Treat your children with at least the same amount of respect you would give to your co-workers.  Treat them with the respect that you would expect them to return to you.  To the the world.

Respect brings up one last point that I want to make.  Embarrassing your kids on purpose.  Because you think it’s so funny.  It’s not funny.  When they go to school and they already feel like everyone’s laughing at them…(maybe everyone really isn’t.  Maybe everyone really is)…But when it feels like everyone is laughing and their own parents are making fun of them too…guess what?  It’s really, really not funny.

Do you think your child’s friends are going to just let the scene you made go, without comment?  Are you crazy?!  That is the sort of thing that can last for months.  Or longer.  “Remember when Jenny’s mom ________?!”

That sort of behavior is severely lacking in respect (not to mention maturity).  Trust me, if you’re going for something your child will remember, this is NOT the way to go.

So, that’s all I have for you today friends.  I hope you enjoyed seeing a piece of my life.

Till next time 🙂



New Things on the Blog

Hello everyone!  I have a new post that I’m ready to share; but first I wanted to say thank you to all of you who have waited so patiently for me to post the next thing.  I have been busy at work and LOOK! There are a few new things on the page!

First, you’ll notice that my social icons now include a couple newbies.  I have added tumblr and also I have this adorable little blue heart for Bloglovin’.  I’d like to say a special thank you to Nick Henderson at Ultimate Social Media Premium for asking the designers to create that for me.

You might also notice that there are now ads on the screen.  Google has placed them there and I have really been excited to see what will happen with them.

Last, you might notice that I have a little butterfly icon next to my blog name on the tab that you open! That’s called a favicon and I’m SO excited to have finally gotten it to work.  A big shout out to William Scott – a genius that I met by accident – for helping me fix it and make it show up. (Except on Safari. IDK what the heck is up with that!)

So, friends, enjoy the next post.  I’m doing a lot of behind the scenes work right now, but rest assured I have a TON of posts that are getting ready to launch.  Also, “Coming Soon” – Two new blog sections:  “Lesson Plans” and “A Millenial Moment”.  More on those to come, I promise.

Have a great night!



7 Things People Are Doing Wrong On Facebook

Let’s face it.  There’s no denying that Facebook is here to stay.  With 1.86 billion monthly active users as of the end of 2016, there’s no doubt that most people are using it.

And yet…

There are several things that people do on Facebook that just drive us all crazy.  Here are 7 things that you should avoid doing.


I was scrolling through – absently and not really deep in thought about the posts I was reading when I came to the one that made me so mad.

It was just after Christmas and my mother had sent me her China.  Aside from the fact that it is priceless and irreplaceable; it is stunningly beautiful.  I have wanted to inherit it as long as I can remember.  I was so proud to be the new owner that I had posted a picture on Facebook.  I also wanted my mother to know how much I appreciated it.

And there it was.  After my picture, my cousin had left a comment.  “Where’s MY China?!”

I call this “Hijacking a post”.  You have now shifted the focus for anyone who reads my post.  Instead of thinking, “Wow, it really IS beautiful China.”  People are afraid to get in the middle of a fight.  They won’t “like” it; or make further comments.  In fact, now they’re just going to keep on scrolling.

Other examples of “Hijacking” are when someone makes a comment that is completely off-topic.  “You never call me.  I don’t know why I even expect it anymore.”  This kind of thing, again, makes people think they’ve stepped into a family feud and it will make everyone uncomfortable.

I recently had an idea for a section of my blog and decided to run it past my friends and family.  I should mention that some of my “friends” are actually men who served with my father in the Army.  I have found great comfort in getting to “know” my father through the memories of these men.

That particular day I had introduced my idea – lesson plans for busy teachers.  A different cousin than the one above (she’s blocked now), commented that it was a great idea and it would also work for homeschooling.  I hadn’t thought of that.  But then one of my dad’s friends commented, “Already been done.”

Well, now I could either refute this argument – thereby starting a “discussion”; or I could just delete the comment.  I chose the ladder.  But I was so hurt.  Sure, he was right; but when you’re looking for lesson plans; the more choices the better!

Now I’m not saying that you should never disagree with anyone on Facebook.  However, you might need to provide more than a sentence fragment.  Perhaps you could present the problem you see and then offer a solution.

Remember, Facebook posts are, like email, easy to misinterpret.  Make sure what you’re posting will be read with the meaning you meant it to have.

Also, “Hijacking” isn’t always combative.  Sometimes it’s just clueless.  For example, my status says, “Had a blast playing with the dog at the park today.”  And you comment, “Do you know if Amy is coming with us on Friday?”  It’s not related to the post and should probably have been sent in a Private Message, or at least have been posted as a separate comment on my wall.  It’s just strange.  Don’t do that.

Sharing Too Many Posts

The next faux pas that I see is people who share everything they see.  These are the people that end up getting “Unfollowed” because our news feed is all about them.  Out of the last 10 posts on my wall, 8 have been from this person.  Is it because they don’t know how to put more than one picture in their status?  Is it because they “share” every post they read?  No matter.  It’s too much!


But, “too-much-information” is even worse!  You know the ones I mean.  Things you really never wanted to know about someone suddenly popping up.

Starting Commotion

Along these same lines are the ones who post about the three things that used to be considered taboo in polite conversation:  Politics, age, and religion.  Ok, I think we’re all over the age thing.  And, usually, your friends know where you stand on religion, so that can be ok.  But politics…’s a ground that has become more and more unstable.  And, if you’re a friend who only even posts mean things about politics, maybe you could add some variety to your life.

Not Proofreading

One small thing that I can’t stand, is when people don’t proof-read a post or a comment before sending it.  Then, once it’s posted, they don’t (or don’t know how to) “edit” it.  Sure, we all make mistakes.  But, please learn how to correct them!  And for heaven’s sake, use the right form of “you’re” when you’re calling out someone else’s intelligence!!

You’re Invited…

Inviting everyone on your friend list to everything.  Have you ever gotten an invitation to an “adult” party from someone you barely know?  I have.  Awkward.  I’m no prude, but come on.  Please don’t invite every single person on your friend list.  Have some discretion.

Continuing to send something because the message told you to…

No one wants these.  They’re almost always scams.  If there is ever ANYTHING that says something along the lines of “hold your finger down and copy”…just don’t.  OR, if you have an itchy finger and you just can’t help it; copy it and paste it into Google so that you can see if you’re spreading the truth or furthering a lie.  If it says that Facebook has a formula that won’t let you see your friends, it’s not true.  If it says some poor person named ____ [choose random name] has “the system” hooked to your account, it’s not true.

The birth of Urban Legends

Last is the worst of all.  Forwarding posts that you didn’t check the facts on.  Remember the drunk person in a tub of ice, missing a kidney?!  This is how “Urban Legends” get started.  The most recent one that I’ve seen resurfacing is this one:

R.I.P. Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matthew Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew Johnson 21, Zachary Fisher 24, Brandon King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, and Sheldon Tate 27…. All are Marines who gave their lives this week for us ….for our freedom! There’s no media for them at all… not even a mention of their names. If you feel called to share, please copy and paste this post.R.I.P they should not go unnoticed, they paid the ultimate price for OUR freedom!!
“Young service Men, thank you for serving our country, thank you for giving all”!
God rest your sweet souls

But here you can read the real facts.

This happens time after time.  A child is missing and someone forwards it; only to find out that the child was never missing, or was found months ago.  A crime is committed and someone shares a post about it, only to find out that the crime happened years ago.  Or, in this case, these men died 7 years ago and they WERE NOT all marines.

Check your facts.  One great place is Snopes.  But, at least Google it.  I entered “Justin Allen, 23, marine” into google and found the above-linked article.  If something seems unbelievable, check it out.  If you’re going to forward something, even if you think it IS believable, check the facts.



Locking Lugnuts


Locking Lugnuts. For some reason, every time I say that out loud, I think of Annie exclaiming, “Leapin’ Lizards!” It would certainly be an apt exclamation in this case….

It was a rough week. Do you ever feel like you just have a black cloud over your head?!

On Monday, I was driving home from the store with my daughter when my stomach began to rumble. I was feeling a little sick, so we decided to stop so I could use the bathroom. After that, it was homeward – as fast as possible!

We drove two and a half miles and turned a corner when the car began to imitate a shake-weight commercial. Uh oh.

Incidentally, when we turned the corner, I was able to pull into a parking lot. In fact, I was pretty familiar with that parking lot. It was at the business that fired me back in January! Coincidence? (Well, yes, of course it’s a coincidence. There’s no such thing as a cursed place. There’s no such thing there’s no such thing!)

Well, I called my hubby and he came to pick us up. He monkeyed with the car – jiggled cords and checked the oil – and then determined that we would have to leave it and call a tow truck.  (Duh)

My stomach started to rumble again. Oh boy. I really needed to get home.

At last, while he called the roadside assistance number, he drove us home to drop us off.  My stomach didn’t settle down until the next day and I was really worried that “bad gas” might be the problem.

I had just put gas in at a station right next to (and downhill from) a place that had burned to the ground a couple days before. The fire department had spent hours spraying it with water, to no avail. Additionally, we’d had monsoon rains a day or so before that. I Googled – because Google knows – and it said that if there was a crack in the underground tank, that a lot of water in the area could seep into the tank. Google, that genius, also said that one of the symptoms of “bad gas” in the car was “The Hippy Hippy Shake”.  Sure enough, my car (I named her Fiona) was acting like Speed Buggy having a panic attack.

That settled it. I knew we were doomed. I continued searching Google. Those repairs could cost hundreds – even thousands of dollars! I was ready to call Fox News and The Ellen Show. I just knew the repairs were going to cost more than the car!

Finally, the call came. The moment I was dreading. “What’d you find?”  I sat down so that I’d be ok.

She said it was a temperature gauge for the cylinder and that it was less than $200.

LESS THAN $200!  I thought I’d won the lottery!  I asked her to also do a recall and to replace my horn, which would be charged to a warranty.  I was elated.  What a relief.

I picked up Fiona on Friday. I missed her!  I was so happy.  I put on my “Bumpin’” Playlist, opened the sunroof and bounced all the way home.  Sweet.

Now, when I got home, I decided to update my iTunes. Nothing remarkable happened. Typical boring Friday night at my house.

Saturday, I got up and decided I wanted to update some of my playlists.  I discovered that 300 of my songs were “missing”.  Weird.

I called iTunes. **As a side note – if you ever have to call iTunes – they are amazing!  They are easy to understand, you don’t wait on hold forever, and they usually solve the problem.

Except Saturday, they didn’t.

I was on the phone for an hour and a half and they could not figure it out.

So, at 4:30, I decided to leave and go to church. I’ve been attending the 5pm service on Saturday because I hate getting out of bed on Sunday morning. I figured I had enough time to go to the ATM and get some cash for the offering plate and then get to the service.

The ATM was out of order.

Ok, so I give double next week.

As I was rolling away from the ATM, my tire indicator dinged. Not one ding like usual, to say, “Hey, you might need a little air.”  Nope.  4 dings. Like, “Hey the tire is REALLY FLAT! LADY! PULL OVER!”

So, I had a few thoughts at this point.

My first thought was not sharable. Haha

My second thought was, “Hey, that’s pretty cool that it dings enough to let me know there’s actually something that needs immediate attention.”

My third thought was, “Satan doesn’t want me to go to church. I refuse to lose this battle!”

So, I looked at the tire.  I could make it around the corner to church.  Once I got there, I called my husband and told him that I needed air.  I asked if he could come fill it while I was in church. He agreed.

So, after church, I went outside and my husband was there working on the tire. The hole was so big that he could put a finger in it!  So he aired it up and followed me to a garage that could mend the tire.

When we got there, the worker asked if the car had locking lug nuts. And this is where the whole thing went downhill in a hurry!

I said, “Yes, I know they couldn’t find the tool last time, so I will go find it.”

As I was looking, my husband pulled into the parking lot. “YOU WOULD KNOW IF YOU HAD LOCKING LUG NUTS!” He said forcefully. So, I tossed the bubble-wrapped thing that I was holding onto the seat.  It was small and round and I figured it must be an extra lightbulb.

The garage crew pulled the car in.

“It does have locking lug nuts. Do you know where the tool is?”

They searched my car. My husband complained about the idiocy of the whole concept. Lug nuts that cannot be removed except with this special tool. No garage keeps this tool around. It comes with your car. The auto-parts stores don’t carry it. You have to get it from the dealership.

Who was the last to take the tires off? This same garage was. Oh no, had they lost the tool?!

They tried everything. No luck.

So we wheeled poor crippled Fiona back to the parking lot with just enough air in the tire to take her to the dealership where she would have to spend the long Memorial Day weekend.

Now, by this point, I was still not convinced that the tool was not inside the car. Sure, lots of people had assured me that they had looked everywhere. That there was nothing. But I didn’t buy it.

So, in the parking lot; I began to look.

“WE HAVE TO HURRY TO THE DEALERSHIP!!” My husband yelled.  (Why? Did the garage use the last of their air? I was cranky and snarky.)

Fine. So I drove to the dealership.

After parking Fiona in a nice shady spot, I began to gather my things. As I picked up my sweater, I saw the bubble-wrapped item that I had tossed to the seat earlier – thinking it was a lightbulb. I decided to unwrap it.

It was the magic tool!

At this point, you would think I would have been super-excited, right? I was so mad I could barely see.

I TOLD him that I knew where the tool was. I TOLD him it was in bubble wrap. I HAD IT IN MY HAND. But he insisted that we didn’t have locking lug nuts.

I drove back to the garage. I wanted to have a mutiny.

I said, “Are you sure the tire can even be fixed?”

They said, “Oh yes.”

Fifteen minutes later we were picking out new tires.

So, $350 and two new tires later, the garage handed a sporty Fiona back to me.  I took her shopping. We bought small ziplock bags and put the tool into a nice little see-through bag. Then we bought a pouch to put a lot of the stuff from the glove box and console into a nice organized place.

On the way home I cranked the bass up so loud that I didn’t hear my phone when my husband called to ask me to pick up food for him.

Ooops. Maybe next time.


You can be anything you dream of…. Oh, but not that.

What do you want to be when you grow up?  It’s a question we ask children, young adults, even ourselves.  It’s a dragon we all have to slay.  What will I do with my life?  What will I be?

Of course, when we ask young children what they want to be when they grow up, it’s cute when their answers are pro-football player, ballerina, astronaut, president.  We laugh about it as we repeat it.  “Said he wants to be a football player.  Isn’t that cute?”

Here’s a new question. When did we become so jaded? So disbelieving? So doubtful.

We tell those kids, “You can be anything you want to be.” But do we believe it?

We don’t tell them, outright, that they can’t do it.  But we start to make it sound less and less possible.  Eventually we make comments even to them.  “Well, maybe you should pick something a little more plausible.”  Counselors in school want to know what career path they’re going to follow.  When someone announces that they’re going to Hollywood or New York to make their band famous, the counselors get that look on their faces.  And they say, “Well, maybe you should pick a couple of things to “fall back on”.

Many people start to say things to their children like, “It will take a lot of work to be a football player.” But they really mean is, “I don’t think you will work hard enough.”  These people believe that their kid will never make it big.  Whatever the lofty goal is – those goals that only the best become – they honestly believe that those dreams are for “other” people.  They say, “You can be anything.” But they mean, “You can be anything ordinary.”

“It has to be someone’s kid.”

I ask, “Why not your kid?”  It has to be someone’s kid.  What excludes your child?

I have always taught my children that they really can be anything they want.  However, I have always also told them that some things take a lot more work and dedication than others.  With my belief in my children, I have also had the dedication myself to do whatever they needed me to do.

My son wanted to be professional hockey player.  He was not the best.  (Nor the worst.)

I told him that he could absolutely still go pro.  But it would come at a cost.  He would need to have year-round training.  He would need to skate before and after school, even when his team was not.  He would need to work harder than everyone else.  He would need to be the first one on the ice and the last one off.  He would have very little time for socialization.  However, he would still need to keep his studies on track.

In the end, he decided that he loves to play hockey; but that he did not want to put that much work, dedication and sacrifice into it.  That’s ok with me because above all – it needed to be his decision.  To play, to not play; to become the best, or to just enjoy the game with his friends.  It all needed to always be up to him.

Do I really believe he could have made it to the NHL?  Absolutely.  But not without a lot of hard, hard work.

One of his coaches once said, in a parent meeting, “None of our kids are ever going to go to the NHL. We’re just here to have fun.”  What a terrible attitude!  It’s great to have fun and have that be the priority in kids’ sports.  But again, someone’s kid has to make it.  Why not ours?  Imagine what could be done if that coach had said, “I want this season to be fun; but I’m also going to challenge your kids to be the best of the best. I’ll teach them to work together as a team and we’ll work on fundamentals. I think any of our kids could go pro if he works hard enough!”

Most people who reach professional status in any area have the full support of someone.  Usually their parents.  Look at the Olympians.  Do you think any swimmer, runner or gymnast got there without a lot of parent hours?  Those parents are driving their children to practices before school, taking them to a second practice after school, helping them with homework at night.  They are planning everything around training.  They are helping their young athletes eat right and get good nutrition, even when the constant running makes it hard.  They are making sure their children sleep enough, even though they might be losing out on their own sleep.  They are in the gym watching the failures, at the ice rink while their child practices, by the pool day in and day out.  If the parents weren’t dedicated to helping their child reach those goals; those children just wouldn’t.

Here is a perfect example:  My father was a professional trumpet player in the Army Forces Command Band stationed at Ft. McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia.  He grew up playing trumpet and was a very dedicated musician.  When he was in high school, he won the John Philip Sousa Award which recognizes superior musicianship, dependability, loyalty, and cooperation.  By the time he was 30, he was a successful musician in the Forced Command Band and played piano and guitar as well.   He even wrote two full-band marches – with the help of friends and colleagues.  The first, “Freedom’s Guardian” became the band’s “official march” and the second, “The Red Piping” was also played on occasion.  Unfortunately, that same year, he got cancer and died within six months.

Years later, one of his very close friends and fellow musicians told me this, “I don’t think that your dad was just very talented.  He was a very hard worker.  He practiced his craft as often as he could.  That’s what made him the best.”

So next time you ask a child what he’s going to be when he grows up, make sure you don’t dismiss his answer.

You never know.  He or she could do it.  And you should believe in that dream and help it come true!

Is What You’re Doing Making You Happy?

A lot of people ask: Are you doing what makes you happy? But I wonder if we’re asking the wrong question. Maybe we should ask: Is what you’re doing making you happy?  I don’t mean your job or career.  Sure, there’s value in doing something that you find rewarding.  But I’m talking about your general mentality in life.

When I was younger; just starting out on my own, a lot of people said I had an attitude problem. That made me so mad! But they were right. I just couldn’t see it.

The problem wasn’t my “personality” – it was how I came off to others. I had been surrounded by so much negativity for so long that it had become my “normal”.  My mother and step-monster were slowly smothering me with poison and I didn’t even know it. I was the proverbial frog in hot water.

Are you surrounded by negative people? We call them “toxic” these days.

One thing that we should all recognize about toxic people is that they have chosen to be like that. My mother wasn’t always a pit of negativity. Life dealt her some tough cards and she decided to flip the table and have a tantrum. For 30 plus years. And still going. I fully believe that these kinds of people are also aware of their weight on others – but that’s another post…

I decided to follow a different path.

When I was in college, I met a girl who was always bubbly and happy.  She practically giggled her words out.  When I moved away after a few years, I decided that I wanted to be like that girl.  I wanted other people to enjoy being around me.

So first – I had to change how I talked.  Even about something as mundane as the weather.  It seems silly to tell our children that they’re “not allowed” to use words like “hate”, but I think we should teach them that it is a very strong and very dark word and it should be used sparingly.  As a young adult, I had to almost completely strike it from my vocabulary.  I had to tell my point of view from a different angle.

Instead of saying, “I hate winter!” I learned to say, “I prefer summer.”  Instead of saying, “The service was terrible.” I began to say things like, “I wish the service was a little better.”  Instead of saying, “The food was bad.” I changed to, “I didn’t care for what I ordered.”

In changing how I said things, I also began to change my mindset.  I started to consciously choose happiness.  I would choose to smile…to greet others with a smile and a kind word.

Additionally, I began to put the negativity into perspective.  I remembered how lonely I had been when my children were young.  How starved for adult companionship I had been.  Sometimes, the store cashier was the only adult I talked to all day.  So I began to make a point to be as nice as I can to everyone.

Unfortunately, everyone didn’t learn this message.  My mother is a toxic person.  She chooses to think, feel and say negative things and counters them with, “I’m not a nice person,” as if it’s a joke.  Maybe long ago it really wasn’t how she actually felt.  But by years of embracing that pessimism, she has become bitter and sad and lonely.

So the decision for how to deal with this falls to me.  I don’t have to buy-into her toxicity.  I can walk away or otherwise distance myself from it.  Because she is my mother and because she has chosen to allow alcohol to blur her sensibility; I have chosen to love her anyway – while keeping her gloom in perspective and at an arm’s length.

My mother lives about 1,400 miles from me.  In order to preserve the relationship between us, I call her most days after work, Monday through Friday.  If I feel like I just can’t handle the sadness and disparity, I can either not call or make an excuse to keep the conversation short.

Now – a couple of notes –

Note #1 – Did you notice how I said she had chosen to allow alcohol to blur her sensibilities.  That’s not an accident – a typo or a slip – that is 100% how I feel.  She didn’t go to a doctor one time and come home with the diagnosis of alcoholic.  People who get cancer don’t come home as cancer-holics.  And they don’t keep feeding the cancer cells because they “just can’t stop”.

Cancer isn’t a choice.  Alcoholism is.

Note #2 – Did you catch the line about giving an excuse to get off the phone?  I’m not above lying.  It’s for my own mental health and self-preservation.  To that end, I have come to understand and remember the following rules:

  1. It’s all about her.
  2. Don’t mention friends.
    • This will lead to a tangent that includes how it “must be nice” because she “doesn’t have any”
    • It may even lead to a conversation about her only friend who died
  3. Don’t mention fun things
    • This will lead to a conversation about how she never gets to do anything
  4. Never mention that you have hurt yourself, broken something, gotten an incorrect doctor bill, gotten a high doctor bill, or otherwise have had something happen to you
    • Whatever happened to you is not as bad as this one time something 1000 times worse happened to her
    • See #1
  5. Do not mention grocery shopping.
    • She can’t even afford toilet paper and she eats 11¢ hotdogs!
  6. Never mention my oldest son by name.
    • He is almost 22 years old. He used the F word on Facebook and when she commented on the post, he commented back that she would never see another one of his posts.  She was “very hurt”.  So, any mention of his name is an invitation to retell the whole story.  With tears if I’m super-lucky.  {Insert eye roll here}
  7. Never, ever, ever mention anything having to do with money.
    • See #5 and #1

And so, with these rules in mind, I have to select what I say carefully.  If I’m having dinner with a friend, or having my oldest son come over for dinner, I will usually just say I’m going home and I don’t know what I’m having for dinner – probably leftovers.

So what’s the point of all of this?  It’s just this: Is what you’re doing working for you?  Are you angry that no one is there for you; but you don’t know how to foster a healthy friendship or other relationship?  Are you nasty to the only people you do see?  Are you judgy about perfectly normal behaviors like women wearing makeup and perfume or coloring their hair and painting their nails?  Are you creating your own unhappiness?

If you’re not happy, ask yourself if there is one thing you can change.  Maybe it’s something you can just change for a day or two – like letting the radio keep playing when the alarm goes off and singing along while you get ready for the day.  Not going anywhere?  Take a long shower.  Take extra long on your hair or makeup.  Don’t usually primp?  Just this once, do it.  Window shop and greet everyone you see.  Say, “Hi. How are you?”  And actually wait for their responses.  Remember things that once made you happy.  Your first kiss, the first time you drove a car, someone giving you a compliment…and look down and smile a secret smile to yourself.  Keep smiling when you look up again.

Be nice.  Always.  And ask yourself, every day, “Is what I’m doing creating happiness?”

What will make them stand?

I’ve had this up on my computer all week.  I’ve debated deleting it.  I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  I don’t want to alienate anyone or make them feel like “I don’t understand their struggle”.

The truth is this: I don’t understand your struggle.  Nor you mine.  But I know I have, over the years, met some people who are black that are the smartest people I’ve ever known.  Did they grow up feeling “oppressed”?  I don’t know.  If so, they rose above it.  That said, I’ve known some pretty smart people of many races.  And, I’ve also seen an apparent lack of that intelligence and drive in all races.  We’re all just human and we’re trying to do the best we can.

I’m going to post this.  Right now.  Because I feel like it needs to be said.  But I want to stress this – I believe that ANYONE can become anything they want to be if they have drive, committment, dedication and a never-give-up attitude.  That’s kind of what “Hope” is all about and it’s why I created this blog.


We’ve all been seeing a lot in the news and on social media about NFL athletes kneeling for the National Anthem.  My overwhelming feeling is that, if they do not wish to stand, they should be allowed to be in the locker room at the time of the anthem.  We should take away the opportunity for grandstanding.

But another thought occurs to me.  It is this: We {as a nation, as white people, or as non-blacks} CAN’T fix it.  There will never be a point when any of those black athletes say, “Oh, yeah. Black people aren’t oppressed anymore. I can stand up again.”

Why? Because the perceived notion that they are oppressed can only be fixed in the most inane scenario.

When will they stand for the anthem? Will they stand when black people are given preferential treatment starting in kindergarten? More elite preschools, private grade schools with all brand new technology and only the best teachers. All for free of course. Prep schools with the same qualities as those grade schools. Automatic acceptance into any university they desire? No charge. They can finish their degree in any field they wish and move to the front of the line for employment.

Along the way, if the boys have fathered a child, there should be no consequences. If the girls have become pregnant; they should be allowed to kill the unborn child at will at any time before it is born. If she decides to keep the child, she should have a live-in nanny so that she can continue in school. Of course, this would be provided to her at no charge.

As men and women leave college – or even if they never attend – they should have free housing that is spacious, clean and upscale. If they desire to have a home with a yard, they should have it. Of course, there would be no charge. In fact, the home will be completely furnished with their desired furnishings and should also come with at least one vehicle of choice as well as lawn maintenance equipment and standard home tools.

As women get out of college, they should be free to start a family without the hassle of getting married. They should be allotted the same live-in nanny service as provided for younger women. Further, the nanny should cook and clean as well so that the woman can continue to work in a career that pays well and that she loves.

If any man or woman finds that his or her pay is not adequate, for whatever reason, a raise should be given to them without question.

If any man or woman does something that is considered “not allowed” or against “the law”; he or she should be let go. After all, he or she is just the victim of his circumstances and it’s not his or her fault. Above all, no man or woman should ever have a weapon fired upon him/her. If he or she seems threatening, the other party should run away.

The law enforcement entities should only concern themselves with real crime. The kind that black people don’t commit.

If all of these things were real, would black athletes stand up for our national anthem?

But would the whites then take a knee? The Asian Americans?

We can’t have that. So we’ll give everyone the same opportunities.  But, isn’t that what we already have? Is equal opportunity what these black athletes are calling “oppression”?

One final thought: These are athletes that play team sports. Surely they realize that one team has to win and one has to lose in every match? So, why is being denied a job, or an interview, or [insert opportunity here] considered oppression?  Is it that you’ve been denied more times than you think is fair?  Ask JK Rowling or Stephen King if they were ever denied the opportunity to publish a book.  Everyone gets told “no” more than they think is fair.  Once is too many times.  But the answer just can’t – not even statistically possible – the answer just can’t be “yes” all the time.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Stay hopeful.

Happy Freedom-versary!


Happy Freedom-versary to me!!


What IS a Freedom-versary?  Well, friend…..let me tell you!

A year ago I was comfortable.  Well, sort of.  I mean, there were cracks in the façade, but I was doing my best to ignore them.  And I was doing a pretty darn good job too.

I really liked my job.  I worked with some great people and I was learning new aspects of different things in the fiber-communication-technology world.  I was great at finding discrepancies in the company’s invoicing systems and was getting good at working with subcontractors to straighten out mistakes.  I adored working with the team in Atlanta, through phone and email.

And I had such pride working for the company that had been so good to my husband over the years.  He had worked there from 1995 to 1999 and again from 2006 to the present.  Even my oldest son was working there now.  My life was full.  I loved seeing people and working with different people throughout the day.  I actually liked going to work.

But, there were little things.  The money could’ve been better.  There was the promotion that went to another person because my boss encouraged her to apply for a new position that she really never mentioned to me.  The girl who got that job was able to work remotely and move south with her husband.  Then there was the letter.  I had written a letter to my boss’s boss.  She had been organizing meetings to go over (and I assumed to fix) the processes related to the Atlanta job that I mentioned above.  Incidentally, including myself, 3 people involved in those meetings are no longer employed there.  I know that at least one of the other two was let go – the Friday before I was let go, in fact.

So, back to the letter.  Even though my direct boss had nothing to do with these meetings and ironing out the approval process which was the issue of my letter, apparently writing an email letter to her boss directly was verboten.  Forbidden.  Seriously, really, bad.  I had no idea.

In the letter, I said that the new girl was going to be taking over this job.  Thought it was common knowledge.  Also forbidden.  Not my place.  Seriously, really, badder.

So, I had a couple of “meetings”.  They said that they didn’t want to fire me, so they suggested that I have “counseling” with the HR department.  (Which they call OD – Operational Development – which I refer to as BS, just saying.)  So, yeah…”COUNSELING” with HR at work.  Most people have to pick their jaw up from the ground at this point of the story.  To which I say, “I know, right?!”

Well, after 8 weeks of counseling, I apparently hadn’t learned my lesson and it was probably clear that I was never going to learn my lesson.  I’m still not sure what the lesson is or was or whatever.  This is particularly sad because I’m sure I could have learned so much from HR.  Particularly the woman who, though married, had the innovative idea to expand her horizons and sleep with one of the other employees who was also married.  Her gifted, visionary knowledge was just lost on me!  After all that time, I was still only sleeping with my own husband and coming to work to do my job.

No wonder they had to let me go.

So, kidding aside, I want to stress this point above all others:  The feelings of being stabbed in the back and completely and utterly betrayed still haunt me to this day.  I was devastated.  I was completely blindsided by being let go; but I was also extremely confused and troubled.  I worried that when I would get an interview, they would ask that one question: “Why did you leave your previous job?”  What would I even say?  It made no sense.  People who worked there and knew all the parties had read that letter.  It was nothing to be fired over.  I could say that it was a personality conflict – but that would make it look like I was hard to work with.  I was absolutely distressed about all of it.

And yet…..

It was kind of nice to be free.  I didn’t have to go and pretend like I was getting a lot out of their Corporate Behaviors seminars.  I didn’t have to attend 8 meetings to determine that something was a problem that never got fixed.  (Oh, yeah, the issue that the letter was actually about – they ignored that for 6 months after I left until there were over 1000 approvals that they didn’t have.)  I laughed.

At home, I was busy building my future.  This blog was the start of it all.  I learned to build a website – and soon this little blog will be a full-service website.  I learned about coding and favicons.  I learned about SEO and adsense and analyics.  I learned the business-marketing side of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.  I started a professional LinkedIn profile.  I started a fake one too – to look at other people’s profiles without them knowing.

While I had taken personality tests to act like I cared about the counseling at work; I was now free to take the time to do more important things.  I took the test and found out that I am a Ravenclaw and that my patronus is a Dapple Grey Mare.  I spent time with my adult- and almost adult-kids.  I had lunch and dinner with friends.  I went Pokemon hunting with Pokemon Go and lost 10 pounds with my daughter.  I ate homemade chocolate cake and gained it all back.

I was free to do whatever I wanted.  My house was clean.  My blog was growing.  I was learning.  But…..I was also getting antsy.  I missed people.  I was getting bored.  And lonely.

So, after a few months of healing and reevaluating myself and my situation, a couple of things happened.

Number one:  I realized that I still believe that everything happens for a reason.  Sometimes, that reason isn’t OUR reason, but it’s all part of a plan.

Number two:  I realized that I hadn’t done anything wrong.  Really.  I never thought I did anything wrong in the first place, but “counseling” said otherwise.  Now, at home over all this time, I came to associate the brainwashing – I mean counseling – with what it really was.  I was a young adult when I learned that my abusive parents had “gaslighted” me.  This means that they made my normalcy seem like insanity.  They made me feel like I was crazy for wanting to do the things that everyone wants to do.  Going to the movies, going to friends’ houses, being in High School sports – all were made to seem like I was asking for too much.  HR counseling was very similar.  They made that letter seem like I had done something intentionally sneaky and underhanded.  I hadn’t.

And so, with the realization that this whole experience was just a change in course and that I had done nothing wrong, I was – at last – able to get out there and start interviewing.  When I was asked why I left, I honestly replied that I wasn’t quite sure.  Apparently, someone did not like me and, although I was unaware of it at the time, they decided to let me go.

It was early June when I found a job that was looking for someone with web design knowledge.  I interviewed on Friday.  On Sunday, I went to a church event called “Awaken”.  I left with a full heart.  I knew my life was about to change.

On Monday morning the director of the chamber of commerce called me and offered me my current job.  It’s been 7 months and I still love it!  I love getting to use critical thinking to solve problems and creative thinking to launch new ideas.  I absolutely adore getting to meet people and socialize with them at various events.  I love helping people get the word out on things to do in the area.  I love promoting our businesses!

More than the “job” part of the job – I love that I feel appreciated.  I am the type of person that puts everything into a job.  Here, that doesn’t go unnoticed.  I am valued.  I am acknowledged.  Sometimes, my ideas aren’t the best for what we’re doing right now.  Sometimes they get dismissed.  That’s ok, because I still know that I am an integral part of a great team and that I have a future here.

At the end of everything I have had to process my negative feelings.  I know that Christianity calls us to forgive, but I’m just not quite there yet.  My feelings about the parties involved are as follows:  My direct boss should have had a backbone and told me upfront what the problem(s) was/were.  I pointedly asked her the day after the letter was written.  The whole thing was weird and it’s a shame that she couldn’t pull the reins back and recognize it all as the misunderstanding that it was.  My boss’s boss – the person to whom I wrote the letter – the person who set the whole thing in motion and then was conspicuously absent as the fallout ensued.  She is dead to me.  I will no longer acknowledge her existence.  Karma will come for her whenever.  I will leave it to that.  The head of HR – I still will work with her in my new position.  I have no respect for her, but I can work with her professionally.  She will never know that I find her to be reprehensible in her hypocritical efforts to teach others about corporate (or any other) values.  I find her to be pretentious and fake and frankly, scary.  The HR assistant – She never struck me as the brightest bulb on the Christmas Tree.  I feel sorry for her trying to keep the pretense that she agrees with the head of HR.  I think she agrees with whatever she’s told to agree with.  Bless her heart.  I don’t really ever give her a second thought.

I’m not ready to forgive anyone; but I am ready to forget.  It’s all done now.

And so, again I say, HAPPY FREEDOM-VERSARY!!  I hope you can all wave a flag for that!!


Time for an Overhaul


Ok,  let’s just get it out there.  The world is a mess right now y’all.  Last night I had the epiphany that if this was a test for a biological weapon, we have all failed.  And we are all doomed.  Those of us who think it’s all overblown and a hoax, would walk right up to an infected person and never know.  Those of us who think it’s a really big deal and it’s killing lots of people, would line up to get a vaccine the day it came out; even if the vaccine was actually the killer.  And really, if we fall somewhere in between the two extremes, what difference would it make?  At some point, (in a bio weapon scenario) we would all have to get gas, groceries, something.  We would all eventually be exposed.  And if we were meant to die, we would die.

So, there are my paranoid delusions.  And, I know.  You’re thinking: “What’s that got to do with an alligator in an egg?  Or is a croc?  Well, here’s the thing.  I have a lot of time right now.  I mean A LOT.  So, I’ve decided to hatch (get it) a new plan for my whole life.

First, I’m overhauling my blog.  You might have noticed that my last post was in June of 2018.  Well, a lot has changed in that last 18 months.  So, I’m ready to start writing again – in fact I’m also writing a book.  But I’ve been dreaming of changing my blog into a more rounded website for a while and I’m finally ready to get it done.

And, yeah…a book.  I have long dreamed about writing a memoir.  Most of the time I am a happy person, and I want to share that happiness with you.  But I also want to be transparent and I want you to understand that I have to CHOOSE happiness sometimes.  I’ve had a lot of shit happen to me that could have made me bitter and miserable.  And, truth be told, sometimes I give into that side.  But then I remember that I can make the CHOICE to be happy.  It’s a sort of “fake it til you make it” philosophy of mine.  Now, please make sure that you read this next part though: If you need help – GET HELP.  There is nothing wrong with needing someone to talk to.  Maybe you only need it a couple times a year; maybe you need it monthly or daily.  It’s ok.  Don’t judge yourself for needing that and don’t let other people judge you.  You have value to this world.  I don’t think God put any of us here by accident.  If you can’t afford a therapist, try a church or go online or onto Facebook and find a support group.  I’ll be writing more on that in my new blog posts.

The next thing I’m doing is some professional development and some personal reflection.  The personal reflection is part of writing the book and vice versa.  The professional development is an effort to become someone I’m proud of.  I think it’s important to be proud of yourself and to have pride in the things you’ve accomplished.  I don’t feel like I have a lot of that right now.  So, I’m going to be studying to take a test in the Fall which will allow me to get a certificate as an Administrative Professional.  I’m also reading some books that I hope I can glean some great information from.  The first is the amazing “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.



Another thing I’m doing is watching a lot of Netflix and playing more Pokemon Go.  My children are now all grown.  Only my daughter lives at home now and I want to cherish the time we have together because it’s only going to be the blink of the eye and she’s going to be married and starting her own family.  No, she’s not engaged or pregnant….but my, how the time does fly…


The last thing that I’m doing is learning this program called “Salesforce”.  A lot of people use it for business and I believe it will be another thing that will help me in the future.

So, that’s it folks.  Welcome back.  Stay safe right now amid Covid-19 and hopefully I’ll give you some things to read, think about and laugh about.  Above all, stay hopeful!!  🙂



Covid and The Flu – A case of the Emperor’s New Clothes?

Hey everybody!

I hope you’re all doing well.  I know that times are really, really weird right now.  I hope you are all surviving – not just physically; but mentally, as well.  I know I’ve struggled these last couple of months and I’m sure those of you that were struggling before are having a hard time.  I’m sorry.

So today’s post is something that’s been weighing on my mind this last week.

I’m going to cover a lot – and it’s going to be some circular logic – but stick with me, friends – I promise there’s a point.

They say that we are each separated by 6 degrees of separation.  That is, that every one of us knows a person, who knows a person, who knows a person – etc. And that we are all connected to one another by 6 or less people.  Next, they say that each person knows about 600 people.

So here’s the crux of the matter: we’ll start with the flu – influenza – and let’s assume it’s a normal year.  Do YOU, personally, know anyone who has ever DIED from the flu?  I’m not talking about someone who smoked, drank, used drugs, had heart disease, asthma, or some other condition.  I’m talking about a fairly healthy individual who suddenly got a bad cold, found out it was the flu, and actually died from JUST the flu?  Do you know anyone?  Because I don’t.

The CDC reports that about 34,000 people died of the flu in 2019.  So, that kind of explains why I don’t know any of them, and you probably don’t either.  It’s because there are over 328 MILLION people in the US.  So that means only 1 in 9,647 people died from the flu last year.

But the media tells us that THOUSANDS of people die each year from the flu.  It’s not a lie – but it’s so misleading!

Now, remember in the 90’s when suddenly everyone was talking about how tons of people were getting head/brain injuries from bicycle accidents?  So, of course, the answer was that everyone had to wear helmets.  Some places even made laws that kids had to wear helmets.  People were terrified of their children getting brain damage – because any healthcare worker would tell you that the ER was FULL of people who were getting hurt by riding their bikes.

But, do you know anyone who ever had a bike accident and got in an accident that led to brain damage?  In your hundreds of friends, family and acquaintances – do you really know anyone?  I’m not saying that no one ever falls; or even that no one ever hits their head.  Heck, I’m not even saying that no one gets head injuries.  But brain damage?  Irreparable damage as a result of riding a bike?  I don’t know anyone.

So here we are with Covid.  And here’s where I am concerned.

If the media can tell the truth in a scary way to make it seem like everyone is dying from the flu – or from bike accidents – but we aren’t seeing it with our own eyes – how can we really believe anything they tell us about Covid?

I’m starting to feel like it’s a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

If you don’t know the tale, let me sum it up for you…

The emperor is very vain and narcissistic.  So he engages the services of a tailor to create the best wardrobe of any emperor in all the land.

The tailor has no skills as a tailor and is actually a conman.  He tells the emperor that he is making him invisible clothes that only the worthy will be able to see.  The emperor does not want to admit that he can’t see the clothes, because that would mean that he, himself, was unworthy.  Many people stop by and admire the emperor’s new clothes.  Of course, they can’t see anything – but no one wants to admit it.

Eventually, the emperor goes out in his “new clothes”; but he’s actually just wearing his underwear!  At first, when people laugh, he thinks it’s because they’re unworthy and can’t see the magnificence of these clothes.  But eventually he realizes that he’s been tricked and that he is, in fact, not wearing anything but his undies!

Is Covid the same thing?  Do people swear that it’s a real threat because they’ve been told it is?  Are people swearing to something that defies their own common sense and logic?  Their own sight?!

How can a mask be so important from the door of a restaurant to the table – but be irrelevant once seated?  How can we insist that churches not hold services, while bars and casinos are up and running (albiet, outside in some cases?)  How does walking the wrong way in the supermarket impact anything whatsoever?

Are people really convinced that the masks are essential to life, or are they too afraid to stand up and acknowledge the ridiculousness?

If they are convinced, then I am gravely concerned about how easy it is to convince a LOT of people of just about anything.

If they are afraid, then I am gravely concerned about the role that fear plays in our society.

I don’t have all the answers.  But these are the things that are keeping me up at night.

Where ever you fall in your beliefs; I do hope you are safe, healthy and happy…and above all – hopeful!


***EDIT: I am NOT saying people aren’t dying from Covid.  I’m simply saying I don’t know if we can trust the numbers they’re throwing at us.

Schroeder Administrative Solutions

The Birth of a new Empire is upon us.  I write this on October 1, 2020.  I am one month into my new adventure.

Schroeder Administrative Solutions is the name of my new company.  I am a virtual assistant.  You can click the link in the menu to visit the website and learn more about my services and what I do.
But this isn’t about all that.  This is about how the idea began. 
Plato wrote, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  Some time later, an unknown author added “Desperation is the father of Brilliance.” 
My idea is neither an invention, nor particularly brilliant, if I’m speaking honestly and humbly.  But it certainly was borne of both necessity and desperation. 
It’s March 10 at about 2:38 am. Last Friday (March 6) I was fired from my “new” job after only 12 days. It had been a disaster. Now it’s early morning on the 10th. The 40th anniversary of my dad’s death. He died when he was 30 (I was 7). But at THIRTY – he was a professional trumpet player in the US Army Band and had written 2 AMAZING marches – one of which became that band’s official march. And here I am – 48 and fired. Again.
If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I’ve been down this road before.  In 2014, I was fired from a subcontractor firm that had placed me in an administrative job at the local paper mill.  That job had lasted almost exactly one year.  At one year, my benefits would begin.  Guess they didn’t want to give me those after all…I was let go 2 days short of one year.  And, while the job hadn’t been a disaster, it had been strange.
There were times that I would ask about being able to start taking vacation, for example, only to get deflections and vague answers.  So, I survived that debacle and landed a job at a local engineering company.  I loved working there!  I learned so much of what I know today.  But, after a couple of years, I landed in yet another fiasco.  You can read about that adventure here
Six months later, after beginning this blog and learning so much with my “free time”; I landed a job with our local Chamber of Commerce.  It was a good job.  But I wanted more.  So a new job working with a friend fell into my lap at the beginning of 2020.  Of course I jumped at it. 
Maybe I should have looked closer before I leapt.
So here I was, lying awake in the middle of the night.  I’d tried counting; but my mind was able to wander too easily.  I tried counting just prime numbers; but I kept coming back to one thing.  What was I going to do?!
I was taking stock of what I’m good at and what I like. I realized, by golly, I really like being an administrative assistant. But by golly gosh – I ain’t never gonna have a boss again.  It’s more than the obvious: wanting to set my own hours and work on my own terms.  I love working with people; but I want to have fun and I want to support causes that are important to ME!  More specifically, I want to be able to help people when I see a need.  And the key to everything: I want to leave a legacy for my family. 
That night – or, that early morning, I guess – Schroeder Administrative Solutions was born!!
I spent 6 months polishing the skills I had and learning as much as I could about Virtual Assistants.  I looked into the many types of software that many VA’s use, determined if they were a good fit and either began to use them or scratched them off the list.  I purchased accounting and graphics software and learned to use them.  I began marketing my business, built a brand new website, and rented an office. 
To many people, renting an office for a virtual business seems counter-intuitive and maybe even counter-productive.  But for me, I wanted to treat my business like a real job.  And that means going in to an office most days.  But the beauty is – I don’t have to go in.  Tomorrow, we might get rain/snow mix.  I plan to work from home tomorrow.  Monday, a serviceman is coming to my house.  I’ll work from home then too. 
Bon Jovi said, “It’s my life, it’s now or never. I ain’t gonna live forever.”
So, one month in and I can tell you these truths:
  • I am never bored
  • The days fly by
  • I eat at my desk
  • I go out to lunch if I want
  • I sleep in if I want
  • I work late if I want
  • I’m excited about each day
  • I’m excited to meet new people
  • I can’t wait to help anyone who needs help!

I am so excited to share this extension of my life with all of you who are reading.  I plan to keep blogging – but you’ll notice I’ve removed my ads.  The simple truth is, I’m writing because it is cathartic to me and it helps me sort out my thoughts and feelings.  If you get something out of it – that’s great and I’m so happy to share.  But I don’t need the distraction of ads anymore.  I want to encourage you to follow me on the socials, if you don’t already.  I’ll be updating them when I write new blog articles. 

As always – Stay Happy and Hopeful!

– Kristine


Disney for Adults

If your family is thinking about taking a trip to Disney and/or Universal parks in 2021 or 2022, read on for some honest feedback on the parks. My family of 6 adults visited in late August of 2021.

Where we stayed:

Because we were 6 adults, we decided to get an Airbnb House in Davenport, Florida. The first day of our trip ended up being a little weird, as our first flight was delayed for 3 and a half hours. By the time we got to the house, it was much later than we had planned. There were a couple of things that I didn’t realize about our upcoming 9-day trek. One, I didn’t realize that the parks close so early. So my first piece of solid advice is to check what time each park closes! I assumed they would all be open much later than they were.

So, the very FIRST thing we should have done is plan for evening meals that we could cook when we got home from the parks if they closed early or if we anticipated being done early. And the SECOND thing is that we should have ordered Walmart grocery delivery for every food we needed for the week. Instead we spent tons of money of Uber Eats and Door Dash. We don’t have those where we live, so this was a new experience for us.

Magic Kingdom:

We visited Magic Kingdom first. It should first be noted that you will not park close to the entrance and the trams that are intended to take you from the parking lot to the entrance (and back to your car at the end of the day) are not in operation at this time. There may be a way to drop off and then go and park, but this is not advertised and seemed to be “a big hassle”.

We arrived right at the opening hour, but unfortunately, some of my family had to get Starbucks, so we were delayed about 45 minutes to an hour before we could get in line for the first ride. The good news is, during that time we were able to bring up the interactive map on our phones. This is a must! However, expect a drain on your phone and have a pocket charger with you.

The interactive map tells you wait times and how far away (walking) an attraction is. It even gives you directions as you’re moving toward an attraction. 

We decided to head over to Pirates of the Caribbean for our first ride. We literally walked right on. No wait at all. We were disappointed that Johnny Depp did not make a personal appearance the day we were there, but C’est la vie, it was nostalgic and fun none the less.

After Pirates, we headed to the Tiki Room for the show. This is a cute show for all ages and air conditioned, so a great place to get away from the heat – even mid-morning. Of course, for our trip, we had to wear a mask while inside – but the air conditioning was worth it. Next we went to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. The rides were as remembered from our last visit and still a lot of fun. However, I was disappointed at the lack of merchandise from Splash Mountain. I don’t think there was a single T-Shirt for this ride. My youngest son was 5 when we last visited and now he’s 21. We thought it’d be cute to get a similar shirt to the one he got back then. That shirt was very big on him at the time – and these days not much is big on his now-6 foot 2 inch frame!

We headed to the Haunted Mansion afterward and (remember, we were there with young adults) everyone was disappointed because it was lame. Ok, maybe it wasn’t a thrill ride, but the ghosts dancing and some of the other effects were still fun to see.

Next we went on it’s a small world. It was closed when they were little and going on it was a condition of mine for this whole trip. I mean – it’s iconic! This was one of the only rides we actually had to wait for. We probably waited 30-40 minutes for this one. 

The last two rides of the afternoon were The Barnstormer and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Again, these were just as we remembered.

We finished up at about 1 pm with all of those rides above. So, really we got through everything we wanted to ride in pretty good time. We had made reservations for lunch at The Boat House at Disney Springs, so we left Magic Kingdom and boarded a bus to Disney Springs. Somewhere along the way, my daughter was told (or read online) that there was no parking at Disney Springs. This is not true. There are 2 parking garages situated kind of in the middle of the “strip”.

We ate at The Boathouse. Again, please keep in mind that we were all adults and this was our one big “splurge” meal. It was a pretty pricy meal. But the food and drinks were phenomenal. I got this adorable ducky drink. After we were done eating, we decided to walk around Disney Springs and visit some of the shops. We settled for a while on the 3rd floor of the Coca Cola Store where we tried a flight of 12 Cokes from around the world. This was a fun adventure for the pallet. I wonder if the people who live in the countries sampled actually like their particular versions!

We returned to Magic Kingdom in the early evening to ride Space Mountain and watch the Happily Ever After fireworks show. And this is where the trip became less than magical. It started to rain. And this is my next piece of solid advice. Plan for rain. It will not sprinkle. It will rain FOR REAL. It will not rain for a little bit and then let up. It will pour – torrential downpour – for a very long time. Disney needs to find a way that they can have better drainage. I am not exaggerating when I say that the puddles were over a foot deep in some areas. Here are my suggestions for you: 1. Pack raingear. 2. Pack a dry pair of shoes and socks. This is something I thought of and then decided not to do. 3. Get a locker near the entrance and store your dry stuff there. That way – IF it stops, you can change and go about your day.

In our case, it didn’t stop. We ran through the lightning storm and deep puddles and made it to Space Mountain. After riding; we headed back to the house. The fireworks were canceled.

Since it was lightning; the monorail was closed. So, we had to ride buses back to the parking lot. The massive #1 problem was that the signs indicating which bus to take did not include parking lot info. Instead we had to rely on people shouting which way to go. It was pandemonium. And it was not at all fun. When the bus stopped at the parking area, we still had to walk back to the car. We all dried off and settled in for some rest before the next day.

Our second day, we planned to visit Epcot and figured we would head to Magic Kingdom in the evening to catch the fireworks that we’d missed the night before. Epcot opens a tad later than Magic Kingdom – like 30 minutes – not a lot. Since the Starbucks contingent of our group had spent so much time on coffee the first day, I had suggested that we have coffee delivered or pick it up on the way. Of course, my husband understood that to mean he should cook breakfast for everyone starting at 9 (the park opened at 8:30). So at 10:30 we were finally on the way to the park. (insert eye roll here).

One thing that you need to know about Epcot is the way it is shaped. Basically, the park is shaped like a number 8. The entrance is at the bottom of the 8. If you go left, you will get to Mission Space, and the Test Track. If you go right, you will get to Journey into Imagination with Figment, Soarin’ Around the World, Living with the Land, The Seas with Nemo & Friends and SeaBase Aquarium. Then at the midpoint of the 8 you enter the World Showcase which makes up the top circle of the 8. If you want to go to the Nemo Attraction and the Aquarium, be advised that it is a bit of a walk from the World Showcase.

Because of Covid, the World Showcase was a bit of a disappointment compared to the last time we visited. Since we were there for the Food & Wine Festival, I think the younger contingent of our group thought there would be “free” food and wine. There was not. Furthermore, many of the street performers that I remember from 2005 were not performing. This was a big letdown.


Dealing with Dementia in a Loved One

This is probably the hardest blog post I’ve ever written. I want to focus on the fact that my life is ok now – good even. I want to tell you about the positive sides – the hopeful parts. But in order to tell you the story – I have to tell you about the bad parts. The hopeless times. The negative sides.

The problem is – it’s hard to write about those pieces of my life without falling into the rabbit hole. Without allowing the negativity to completely take over and to produce a blog post that is seething in anger and hatred. Something that I wouldn’t want to share with you.

Of course – I also want to keep it real. I don’t want you to think that I’m really an angry and hateful person masquerading as a cheerful, bright elf. Or worse, that I’m not cheerful at all and that I’m just blowing smoke about being hopeful. So, bear with me – I’m going to try to be completely real…I’ll tell you about the times when hope was pretty scarce and happiness was a world away, but I’ll also show you the silver lining that I saw in the end sometimes.


I was 13 when I first fully comprehended my mom’s drinking. I knew she drank before then; but it wasn’t until I was 13 that it became apparent that she has a problem. 

My mother didn’t work outside the home.  She dabbled here and there – substitute teaching or maybe working as a bookkeeper from time to time; but she didn’t really work.  Looking back – I don’t know why she didn’t work as a teacher.  She was fully qualified to do so.  But she was content to be a single mother and homemaker. 

In the summer, she would pack the three of us kids up and take us from the hot Georgia summers to the cooler climate of upper Michigan.  She and her parents had purchased a cabin on a small, inlet lake, and we stayed in that cabin from the beginning of summer vacation until just before school began again in the fall. 

My mother loved to go to the beach and would sit there for hours on end.  Frankly, I found it to be cold most days and, as a kid, you can only play in the water and build so many sand castles.  I mostly remember that my mother yelled at us almost daily to get out of the car, where we had gone to get out of the cold. 

One summer, my mother met a guy in Michigan and decided to marry him – we would all move to Michigan full time.  So, we returned to Georgia and began school, but by November, we were on our way to Michigan.  And my mother was on her way to the bottom of a very lonely rock-bottom journey with a bottle. 

If I think back before those days, though; I remember times when my mother seemed to have a problem.  My young mind didn’t have a name for it yet.  There were the days that she would stop at the local bar in Michigan “to have a drink” in the afternoon.  Drink after drink, we would sit there waiting to be taken back to the cabin.  We would ask if we could walk to the marina; which was less than 2 miles away.  There were swings there and at least it would give us something to do for a little while.  Half the time, my mother would drive up to the marina and pick us up before we began the return walk.  The other half of the time, we would walk slowly to the marina, swing and play for a bit, and then slowly walk back to the bar and still end up sitting there – waiting. 

There were other cracks in the façade as well…but there were no connecting pieces to put the big picture together. 

Now, arriving from the warm autumn of the south to the brutal cold of the Midwest, the pieces began to fill in the gaps.  Gone were all the activities we once enjoyed.  Every day was the same.  Come home from school to an empty house.  We could see the van down the street, parked at the bar.  She would call from the payphone when the bus went by.  She’d tell us (me) that she’d be home soon.  She wasn’t.  She’d call again anywhere from 6 to 7:30 that night.  If she needed cigarettes, she’d say, “Come on down to the bar and have pizza for dinner.  And bring me a pack of cigarettes.”  We would walk the 6 blocks that she had driven to arrive at the bar.  If she didn’t need anything, she’d tell me to make hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for dinner.  And so were the days of my teenage years.  Day in and day out; my mother at the bar from afternoon to closing time. 

Along the way the husband we moved across the country for died and she married a 3rd husband who was an abusive monster.  Eventually, she stopped going to the bar.  But she kept drinking drinking drinking. 

Now she lives in Florida.  She’s lonely and bitter.  And usually drunk.  With a side of slight insanity. 

You see, now her brain is starting to deteriorate.  She’s getting dementia.  Some days she’s ok.  Some days she’s so bad that I hang up from our afternoon call, sit back and just say to myself, “Wow.” 

It’s going to be a long decade.  She’s not unhealthy aside from the drinking.  So I think I have at least 10 more years. 

The worst thing is the negativity.  Everyone is “an asshole”.  If they aren’t an asshole, then they’re “stupid”.  If they’re not stupid, then they’re fat, or ugly, or poor, or rich, or preppy, or dirty, or you-pick-one-now.  No one is safe. 

So, most days I finish the mostly-one-sided conversation exhausted and full of anxiety.  Add my mother’s naivety into the mix and I worry about her safety from herself and others.  She could just as easily trip and fall into her pool as invite a homeless man over for lunch, thinking she was helping him.  And so – I worry.  Because it’s all I can do right now.  And the load is heavy.  And the sadness is heavier.  The sadness that “the good mom” that I knew for 13 years will never return. The sadness in knowing that being closer to her would not help.  The sadness that she might one day not know who is calling…even though the caller ID tells her it’s me.  There are so many sad days. 

How can I find hope?  Where can there be a silver lining?  I can’t answer that today.  I can only accept it for what it is and know that I can’t change the situation.  I have to be responsible for my own happiness and that means putting the weight of all that is my mother in a bubble of it’s own. 

At the end of the day, I only have to remember that it’s ok to smile, to laugh, to rest, and to sleep.  Only God knows when the story will end.  And I’m pretty sure He knows what He’s doing.

The Virtual Assistant Real Life Backstory

I don’t have a catchy name for this post. I don’t know. The thing is – I want to tell my story, because maybe your story is a lot of the same. And it’s worth telling. It all started when I got fired. Again. The truth is, everyone fired me. I was the most unlikable employee in town. An outcast. Leper. Ok, it wasn’t that bad…but I felt like it was. And really, in times like that, perception IS reality. It doesn’t matter what the truth is. What does truth have to do with it anyway? All that mattered was that I’d been fired from three jobs in seven years. And when you live in a small community, there aren’t a lot of places to be employed. So let me start at the beginning.