Friday, November 20, 2009

My wonderful and talented daughter...

Check out my daughter's blog and her first blog give-a-way!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's been awhile, I know....

...but I am still here. I guess I've just been so bogged down with some details of life that I haven't had the time to feel inspired to write. That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking though. More often than not I think too much...I analyze things sometimes to the point that I can actually make things worse, if at all possible. I hate that about myself...and sometimes as hard as I try to apologize for past transgressions for some reason I don't feel the closure that I think I should, if that makes sense? Like afterwards I think, Oh if I'd only said this or that I would've gotten my point across better. Aaarrgh. (I have only a couple true 'regrets' that I might consider changing if I had the chance, but then if I did it would totally change the course of my life or perhaps 'who' I am, so would I actually do it? Can't say for sure)
I've also had insomnia for a few months which left me dragging & not feeling very well equipped to cope with some details of life...I recently found though a list of pre-menopausal symptons that can be at work here as well...And who knew that these things usually start around age 40 and we don't even know it! (like basically questioning everything you ever thought about certain things...that things aren't as black & white as they use to be when we were younger) Not to mention this list contains things I would've never connected to hormone changes...Who knew? But now that I do, I've made some modifications & am doing soooooooo much better!
I also found a tidbit of wisdom in what I would consider a very unlikely place....I'm reading the second autobiography of Valerie Bertinelli. She was talking about her own life but I can equate it to my own..And it does put some things into perspective in regards to my own issues. It's also nice hearing that we really aren't so very different even if we come from different backgrounds etc... There really is a commaraderie in screwing up. LOL And those regrets I have? Well, everyone really does look back on their life with 20/20 vision & wished they weren't so stupid for handling something so badly...
Here is an excerpt from Val's book, "I wondered why the heck I had wasted time wishing my folks had behaved one way or another rather than appreciating the thousands of coincidences, miracles, and hours of worry and hard work that had needed to happen in their lives for them to produce five children, raise four, deal with the death of one, and survive another forty-eight years.
Did it really matter that our politics differ? No. Did it still matter that we'd had a tough time when I was a teenager? No. Despite all the misunderstandings and hurt feelings over the years, we had ariived at the present in fairly good working order, and we were continuing to improve. At various times each of us had done a sort of spring cleaning of unnecessary emotional crap and clutter. We had gotten rid of the gripes that no longer mattered. We had let go, and let love take over"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

the contest goes on...

The new week has begun for the Cutest Dog contest. Aug. 15 through Aug 21...Thanks to all that voted for Z last week..One of the top dogs had at least 300 votes while as Z had let's see what we can do this week, ok? Don't forget you can vote daily! Ü You can still use the same link that's below!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cutest Dog Contest

Today is our dear Zoey's 3rd birthday! We've had her now for a little over a year. She is a real sweetie and we're so happy we rescued her. (can you imagine she was going to be euthanized at the shelter! UGH! I shudder to think of a world without her!)
Anyway if we win it should would buy her alot of her specialty Organic dogfood!!! Vote everyday! Thanks!!!
Vote for my DogSponsored by All American Pet Brands makers of premium dog food.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Joys of Grandparenthood...

"If I'd known being a grandparent was so much fun, I'd have had my grandchildren first" goes an old saying. I wonder why that is...perhaps as new parents we carry such a huge responsibility for the little life entrusted us. Although we enjoy them, it's different. Maybe you miss something when you're in the humdrum day to day, 24/7 'stuff'.
But after spending the past couple weeks with our dear daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters (ages 2 & 5) we are rejuvenated. There is nothing as refreshing to the spirit as time spent with small children. Exhausting perhaps. Worth it? Most certainly!
I think it's because once your children are out on their own you can get in a rut with the daily stresses of life. If your children live away from you, you don't get the daily 'doses' of their children...but wow, you sure can cram enough of the 'good stuff' to get you through for some time, long after they go home.
Over the years we've tried to establish traditions when the little ones are here. Not only does it give them a 'remember point' of us when we're not together but it gives us common ground, if you will, for the next time we're together. And it really seems important to them as much as it is to us.
We've already laid a good foundation with Janie, being the older of the two girls. She's been my little "Peanut" since the first time I saw her on the ultrasound. We almost always need to have some kind of special tealight candle burning during breakfast and what would bedtime stories be without the "Grandma & Me" lift the flap book by Karen Katz...yep, if I'm at their house for a month, that's EVERY night! LOL But the fun is not just me reading it now because Janie (and Rori is catching on very quickly) will say the words along as I read. I've had the joy of introducing her to ants & toads and even releasing ladybugs. Now even when I'm not with her when she sees these things she'll say, "I need to buy this for Oma because I know she will LOVE it!" (I have a wonderful ant statue holding a hoe in my kitchen window that I cherish!)
From Opa's point of view, Janie is his little 'Schickmunk" (ok it started as 'chipmunk' but we like the way Janie says it better!) They do garden work together. Planting flowers (called Janie Flames, that she picked out), picking beans, eating berries off our bushes, sharing strawberries, you name it. We'd take some dry bread down the driveway to feed the many chipmunks we have here too. And lest I forget when we talk to her on the phone...when I go to sign off I tell her 'I love you a bushel and a peck" at which point she sings, "and a hug around the neck....and tell Opa I love him too!"
This year was the real 'firsts' with Rori...Last we saw her she was just a year old and didn't get far from her mommy. (And heaven help the person that dared pick her up! LOL) We didn't know what to expect this time and from all that we'd been told, we didn't have high hopes for much interaction with her at all...Well we were in for a pleasant & surprising gift! From day one she gave ALL of us (including my mom and dad) hugs! Wow, shockerooni! And in no time at all, not only was she walking off hand in hand with either her Papa (my dad) or her Opa (Stephen) but she would also run outside leaving her mother and security blanket, to see Opa in the garden or to have him push her on the swing! It was so funny and hard for Hallie to believe...
Now let me preface this next part by saying that before they came to visit there were many times that Rori brought her mother the phone before Hallie even had her eyes open, because Rori wanted to call her Oma! (it comes out more like GoMa or something) But now that she was with me she just wasn't sure I could be trusted. LOL I didn't get nearly the hugs the others got and when I'd try to talk to her the little stinker would turn her head in the opposite direction as if I weren't even there!! And I was the last one to get to actually hold her in my arms too. Even when I'd call her my little Tulip (when I was there for her birth I missed my tulips blooming in the garden so she became my special Tulip) I'd see this sly little avoidance from her. Early on though I could see a twinkle in her eyes when she'd do these things. She was totally teasing me!!! But I was patient and I tried not to push her to like me....sure I tried to win her over by pushing her on the swings, getting her milk and snacks and things like that but I didn't try to hug her or have a conversation with her...Well one night after our bedtime book I reached over her so I could hug Janie...well as I went to pull back SHE stuck her arms out for me, smiling the whole time! She so knew what she was doing too! After we shared a hug I did a "yyesssss" and did that arm thing like you'd do when something goes your way...and when I left the room she said 'yyyesssss' and did the same thing!!!! TOO funny!! And that kinda became 'our thing'....she did it other times when she was happy about something.
She became Opa's 'Punkin' and as he would run the gambit of his other options to call her like 'spaghetti squash' and 'fire ant' (Janie's fav) when he'd get to Punkin she would get the sweetest little grin on her face. She just beemed. He could also spend at least 45 minutes pushing her on the swing! And if by chance, say he needed to go inside for something, when he told her she'd say "ME" which was his cue that she needed to be continuously pushed...what a push over Opa!!
Oh the joys or grandparenthood.....Yyyyyeeessss!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Malcolm's memorial stone

I didn't want anyone to think that I'd forgotten a memorial stone for Malcolm. I had a delay waiting for dry weather. Even at that, I felt hurried as I painted. This time of year the little area in our woods designated for our furry loved ones, is overgrown with beautiful ferns, like the one you can almost see at the top of the picture. There I am squatted down on my mat with my basket of colors, intently painting but constantly hearing branches breaking and things crunching. I was so afraid that I'd look up to find myself nose to nose with a bear! But now it's done and I do feel a sense of closure now that I didn't have before.
Our 'rat room' is quiet now when we go in to the computer. My eyes automatically go to their corner imagining I see them again. And sometimes at night I still think I hear them in their cage. Stephen & I miss them greatly. There's just nothing like them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our sweet ratty boy Malcolm

I am often speculative on why certain things happen in our lives. I do have a great faith in God and I've had such a blessed life on so many levels. But I know that sometimes God says 'no' to our requests.
Since losing our ratty Nigel a couple months ago, as we saw Malcolm's health also decline, (I'm sure this was compounded by his mourning his brother's passing) I prayed that God would take him so we didn't have to make 'the decision'. But I also had a great faith that we would 'know' when/if it was time for us to step in.
That came last night at bedtime. Stephen & I always checked on him and told him goodnight before we headed to bed. Since the afternoon he'd taken a gigantic turn for the worst. It was so bad that neither of us thought he'd live through the hour...We kept checking hour after hour though, making sure he was as comfortable as we could make it for him and he was still hanging in there at shortly after 4 when we could no longer stay in bed. As a matter of fact Stephen said Mal was trying to eat a blueberry but he kept dropping it.
I then had to wait til 9 am until the vet office opened. Wouldn't you know our trusted Dr. Honse was off this day when I needed her! But I could not let Malcolm struggle to breath any longer than necessary. As it turned out Dr. Morrow whom I'd never met was super, super nice. We hit it off right away and she was a rodent lover to boot which
helped (said she tried to save her hamster with surgery even) Then after she did her thing I was sitting there petting him and I saw our friend Leia (the tech who'd been with us with Piper and mom & dad's realtor)
She came in and stayed with me. It was so nice having a friend there, ya know? Helped alot...
My daughter and I talked about this just yesterday which hadn't been a good day in other ways but we could see God's hand in working certain things out that only He could. I don't care to go into more details so you'll have to trust me on this. Ü God is definately good.
I know Stephen felt horrible that I was going to have to take Malcolm by myself. But you see, Leia only fills in for people on vacation at the clinic nowadays and isn't normally working there anymore. I have no doubt HE put her there so I wouldn't have to go through it all alone.
And to find all the comfort I can in these times I have to remind myself that sometimes our hands have to be empty so that we can receive & grab hold of the new good things God has in store for us.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In the mood for reminiscing?

While we were still living in Missouri sometime in the late 1990's, I told my parents that I was going to make a family history album from all the old pictures I had accumulated. I explained to them in great detail what I wanted to accomplish with them. For an entire year I asked them questions about people, dates, events as I was hoping to put it all in chronological order or at the least have some semblance of organization. I also asked for pictures.
Once they assured me that I had all there was to be had, I began working on the album. The planning alone took a great deal of time because I wanted it to be ‘just right’. Before I'd even put one picture down I'd already spent many days in planning the journaling alone! I finished the album with great pride that it had come together so nicely.
Then my grandma Striker (or Nana as she was called by some) passed away and my dad inherited many, many pictures!! Ok I thought at least the McLaughlin side (mom's family) is complete and I’ll just make additional pages with the new Striker stuff.
Fast forward to 2006, when we finally move back to PA. Not only did I find that in 1987 my mother inherited my Papa & Gramma McLaughlin’s SEVEN photo albums, of which I had no idea existed, but then while moving my parents to their new place in 2008, my dad hands me another bunch of unknown things from the McLaughlin AND Striker side!!! "Did this fall from the sky?", I asked. Where was this all that time I was asking about stuff?
I have decided rather than try to incorporate all these treasures into the album I so painsakingly made before, I’m just going to put them into separate ones to spare what sanity I have left. They won’t be organized nearly as well but then again it’s difficult to combine numerous lifetimes set in pictures that have been stored precariously in boxes for 50+ years.
In some ways I am glad that it all transpired this way. After sorting through the seven albums of my Gramma & Papa Mc I have a better appreciation of what kind of people they were. As a little kid, I only knew them as ‘old’, but these pictures reveal the things that were important to them in younger years, at a time when taking pictures was still a luxury. They traveled cross country in their little travel trailer that my grandpa had built, they gardened, had pets and enjoyed their family. There is a large stack of postcards they picked up as souvenoirs, the original receipt for the ’hand money’ they put down on their house ($5.00!), newspaper clippings of their daughter’s marriages, even a newspaper clipping of the work accident that took my Papa’s thumb when he was 55 yr old! There are car/trailer registrations from the early 1920’s, a letter written by the dr. that delivered my Papa, postcards & greeting cards from family and numerous obituaries. And of course there are pictures of me with them. A cherished thing!
When I was 12 years old I told my gramma that someday I’d have a little girl that I’d name after her, Hallie. And I did, even though my gramma wasn’t around to meet her...But my Papa did and loved her dearly!
So as I get ready to start these new albums I really do consider it a labor of love. These are THEIR pictures of THEIR story from THEIR perspective. And honestly, I think it’ll turn out much better than anything I’d have done by my own accord.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another year older...

I'm 48 today. What can I say, I dread my birthday almost as much as Stephen does...but in a different way...I can't really put a finger on it though..I tend to get a bit depressed and introspective. Gee that's a surprise, huh? Add to that that I had to make a trip to the DMV to have a photo taken for my driver's license and I thought to myself, this is going to set the pace for my day. LOL. But the wait was minimal...and then it slowly improved in spite of myself. But not in the ways you'd think. There's no elaborate party with friends surprising me nor gifts. We've never even 'done' that birthday thing between any of us. Not to mention, really I only have 2 close friends that still live around these parts. Although I've heard from some on facebook ,e-cards & a couple regular cards.

Stephen took me to dinner last night at Red Lobster. He's going to be working his 10 hour shifts this week, so we did that a day early.

First off I got a phone call at 9 am from a dear friend in TX we call Uncle Steve. He's the same age as us but to differentiate between him & Stephen we call him Uncle Steve. What a dear guy...He never fails sending a hysterical card (this time it shows old women in various pics cutting their fingernails & toenails then the caption that reads "I said I wanted Male Strippers NOT Nail Clippers!" )and then calling on the phone of which we are horrible at. But he will never know how much that means to us!!

After the DMV, I treated myself to McDonalds. I had a coupon for a FREE iced coffee which was great..An added bonus while I was there was helping someone else. I watched a man very shakily take his tray over to the drink counter. I was ready to hop up if he needed assistance as I'd already seen the empty glass fall over once. I wrestled briefly wondering if he would be embarrassed that I noticed and if I should step in at all. He did ok but I kept watching. As he picked up the tray with the full glass, I knew there was going to be a spill as the glass tottered. I immediately went over to him and asked if I could be of assistance. He looked up me with such surprise at my offer that I wondered if he could speak....I then asked could I carry your tray for you? With such relief he said yes, I would appreciate that, at which point I asked him where he'd like to sit...He then told me that he had Parkinsons and that it use to only be in one hand but now it was in two. I asked if there was anything else he needed assistance with and he said no...He thanked me again, I told him you're very welcome & I hoped he'd have a good day.....I finished my lunch and as I went to leave he yelled out to me with such sincerety, Thank you! at which I replied You are very welcome. Anyway that was really the highlight of my day! And it just dawned on me that I know why it touched me so (aside from the fact that I think I made his day too!)...shame on me for dreading my birthday when I am so fortunate to be healthy!
On the way home I heard two songs that I love and haven't heard in a long time...Raspberry Beret by Prince and Kyrie by Mr. Mister (did I ever tell you about my low threshold for excitement? LOL)....
Then I get home and had Janie, Rori and Hallie singing to me on the answering machine and this pic in an email..(They are in Kansas right now with some of Jason's family and they'd gone to the zoo which Hal knows I love zoos & flamingoes!)
Oh and the sun is shining. Ü

Tell me WHAT could be better?!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Don't forget to stop and smell the tulips!

The other day I took the camera out to get a picture of our tulips that had just bloomed. I had to do so quickly not only because it was windy but also because we have a big white dog that has yet to learn not to run through them! But I was reminded of a simple saying when I watched Zoey running around the yard. She was doing 'her job' of ridding the grass of bunny m & m's, sniffing the wood stacks, snapping at bees and picking up killer sticks yet when I approached the tulips she muscled past me so SHE could smell the flowers first! And it wasn't a fast sniff either, it was a lingering, savoring sniff. It made me chuckle out loud as I snapped the picture. Regardless of our 'job' and we all have extremely full schedules, we need to remind ourselves to stop and savor the beauty around us! Thanks Zoey!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The rocking chair is done!!!

There's an old show tune that says, "when everything old is new again"....
....well it's not exactly new but it has been recycled & refurbished. I found this old rocking chair in my parent's attic. It certainly had seen better days and was literally held together by twine and someone's old belt!!

As far as we know it was my paternal great-grandmother's. I never knew her but from those old black & white photos, (you know the ones where they didn't smile?) she didn't look like she'd have been the life of party, if you know what I mean. That's not to say that she didn't have a sense of humor, but when those pics are all a little girl has to go on, you can see why I'd think she didn't. That's why it was so fun to see a hint of an eclectic humor while doing this chair. As I looked under the seat you could see what the original colors were...bubblegum pink and lime green!!

I was inspired!! I had no idea exactly what I was going to do but I wanted it to be Oma's Rainbow Chair...(as you can probably tell I had my two granddaughters in mind when I was working on it)

So here it is, more than a week's worth of work with 6 hours going to weaving the seat alone. My fingertips are purple, sore and swollen. (the weaving is tight!) But it turned out even better than I imagined it would. I can't wait for the girls to see it.

There's lots of other little details and I have those pictures posted on facebook. OR here if you're not on facebook

Monday, April 6, 2009

Catch up...

I got alot of things done this weekend, but each time I'd go outside to do something I'd find myself wondering over to where we have Nigel buried. It's a nice little area amongst the trees. As we get some of the sprouts & brush out of there we're getting flat slate that's on the property to make a little sitting area. Stephen placed a huge slate in the middle covering "the spot". It just looked so plain though like something was missing. Sooo, I painted it. It took some time to get it the way I wanted it...well the planning I started to paint outside in the air my paint dried so fast that any mistakes I made would have to stay that way. There was no going back...But I was pleased with the way it turned out and I felt some closure I didn't have before. (oh and just in case you can't make out the blue,yellow and orange lettering says "Lover of Blueberries, sitting on shoulders and back massages") You might also be able to make out some little rat footprints scurrying across it....

Another thing this weekend was getting a trunk that my dad was refinishing for me. It was an old thing that I had fond memories of from the bedroom I used up at our camp. As a little kid I remember putting my suitcase on it, using it as a play area for my dolls or having a tea party on it. It had certainly seen better days though.

My dad did a beautiful job though. Course what doesn't he do well? I supplied some of the paint and bought the roll of wallpaper that was used on the inside. Then he worked his magic transforming it. He even placed a little 'plaque' on the inside of the lid stating when and who refinished it...Now it has a spot in our living room....I love it!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In Memorium

Nigel June 2, 2007-March 31, 2009 (that's about 45 in rat years)
Malcolm and his brother Nigel have suffered from chronic respiratory problems since we got them. We’ve kept it at bay with antibiotics hoping that we could contiue that. But yesterday morning, Nigel took a turn for the worse. Instead of greeting me for his morning blueberry, he seemed confused, frantic and his breathing was labored. He didn’t even want one of his favorite treats. The only thing that did seem to give him comfort was climbing up onto my shoulder, his favorite spot. But he didn’t even need to be close to my ear for me to hear his wheezing. He’d already been through 2 go rounds of his antibiotics so this was not a good sign. In the past week he’d lost a great deal of weight as well. He was now just a shell of his otherwise chunky self. (to save on confusion, these pics are happier and healthier times)

Unfortunately we were getting visitors for lunch and Stephen & I were in a real quandry as what to do. It was too late to cancel plans but our hearts were not in the impending company. I was able to make some phone calls before they arrived and made arrangements for when they left. In late afternoon we took Nigel to our vet who helped us so much when we lost our Piper. She was her wonderful self and greeted Nigel in a sincerely tender way even though they’d just met. She could easily see that he was in distress and after listening to Nigel lungs she assured us that our decision was not a premature one.

So I held my little guy & massaged his back, he licked my hand as if to say “thanks for everything mom, it’s going to be ok, don‘t worry” as she gave him the injection. I didn’t know what to expect since I’d never held a pet at this point before. He seemed alittle frantic but then I realized he just wanted to get up on my shoulder, which he did. He cuddled my neck as he always did, his head resting on Stephen’s reassuring hand, as I continued to gently pet his back until he just went to sleep.
Now alot of people won’t understand my tears and really I have to feel sorry for them...cause they also miss out on one of the dearest little loving souls that God has put on this earth. Under the best of circumstances they have a short life span of only 2 to 3 years, but believe me they fill that time with alot of comical antics and love for their people. Knowing this inevitability does not make it any easier when we have to say goodbye to our beloved friends. But I did find comfort remembering a story that every rat owner should know.....

Why Rats Are Only With Us a Short While
One day, some angels went to God and asked if they might spend some time on Earth, to learn and perhaps to teach. He answered that some of the people might be frightened of the angels, that His children's idea of beauty might not be His own. The angels replied that maybe those who could look past the differences deserved the blessings that they could give. But God was still concerned. The angels needed Heaven's air to breathe; they would suffocate down on Earth. The angels promised to hold their breath as long as possible, and would return when they could not hold it anymore. God agreed and sent down the angels.
Many people were frightened of these creatures, despised them, and tried to kill them in large numbers. However, the few who recognized the angelic qualities in the beings took them in and sheltered and fed them. In return, they received more joy and laughter then they could possibly imagine. But alas, soon the angels could hold their breath no longer. After just a short Earth time, they left to go back to Heaven. But they were sure to tell the next group of angels exactly who to seek out when they went down.
~Author Unknown~

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

HaPpY BiRThDaY, StEpHeN!

Ok, so I mentioned it to a couple people that March 9th was Stephen's 49th birthday. What's the harm in that? I was to find out later......First he did get his traditional hysterical card from a dear friend in Texas. How he always remembers our birthdays is beyond me and he's a guy to boot! Puts us ladies to shame.

Of course our daughter remembered, giving Stephen a genuine smile when he opened the shirt she sent...The real tickler was what she made with the girls for him. A banner that we can hang on the wall (and will, let there be no doubt!) of the girls holding each of the letters to spell out Happy Birthday...It is so delightful and will make us smile everytime we walk past it!

I also tried to have something nice for dinner...the day before when he was off work I made him prime rib (couldn't risk him being late coming from work for that meal!) but last night I tried a new recipe. Not hard at all but it looked impressive and tasted great!

Then later in the evening he gets an e-card from a friend. There was dancing mice and a catchy tune played by a mariachi band. Stephen really enjoyed that one...a little too much I think...He let that thing replay at LEAST 20 minutes if not longer...I know it was in retaliation!! LOL He told the friend later he wanted me to enjoy the fruits of telling anyone it was his birthday. Hmmmm, I seem to remember him & Hallie putting my picture in the town newspaper in MO when I turned know that inspiring poem, Lordy Lordy look who's 40? Ah-huh, he better watch out...he turns 50 next year!! Ü

Friday, March 6, 2009

Unexpected gift....

You just never know when your going to brighten someones day. Even when it may be something 'simple' in your own mind it could mean a great deal to someone else. Case in point, my sister-in-law has added purse making to her repertoire (she's a gifted sewer) and my mother-in-law tells me one of the first things she said after making her first one was that she wanted to make one for me. Ahhh shucks....

Well today I got my creation. I am so excited!

It has ladybugs, little mice, tulips, all things that many of you know I love plus other beautiful squares. It is eclectic just like me. It makes me happy just looking at it! I couldn't very well hide my giddiness & they probably thought I was a bit crazy (nah, they're family and they know I'm alittle different anyway.That's the beauty of it cause they love me anyway!)...I did however explain that I had a low threshold for excitement...hey, that suits me just fine. I'm a happy camper.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Yesterday I started off full of invigoration and hope for the day. It was sunny and beautiful out and I felt energized....Then I had to get out of bed. LOL
I found that our new chest freezer (that we'd gotten for backup in case our 30 yr old hand-me-down decided to konk out) wasn't freezing anything. Fortunately it seems that we're only going to lose a basketful of food that was closest to the top. It hadn't lost power so was still pretty cold but it had lost the ability to freeze properly. Do you think I could find the receipt from Sept? NO! Panic briefly set in but then I remembered the local appliance store kept a log of that kind of thing because they also do repair on what they sell..So it will be covered by the warranty. We also found out it was a freon leak causing the problem...but I digress.
Ok so I think to myself, maybe just getting out of the house, I'll be able to clear my head and move on positively with my day....That was until the -15 degree windchill hit me. So much for the 'warm' sunny day! It was going to be so fun running errands today, I could tell. But I continued to say my mantra of the past couple years, "I will not let it steal my joy".
I tried to put these inconveniences out of my mind while I ran into town to take care of my parent's monthly business...When I got to the end of the driveway though I saw that our mailbox had been pretty thoroughly obliterated by hooligans. At this point I was thinking that perhaps I should've just stayed in bed while the day was still 'nice' in my mind...
Later in the day I got my daily online inspiration that helped me to reaffirm that I was on the right path in the approach I was trying to have. (although it certainly was being tested) It stated..... Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference.
I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.
I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. No failure is fatal. It's OK to stumble...I will get up. It's OK to fail...I will rise again. Today I will make a difference.
I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends.
Today I will make a difference.
Max LucadoFrom
On The Anvil

You go Max....and that's all I have to say about that. Ü

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spare time...haha!

I've had numerous people mention to me about all the spare time I have now that my parents are moved and have the old house sold. I find this to be very humorous. We finally closed on the house Feb 6th but things didn't immediately calm down. Then we had dad's truck to trade in on a Subaru Forester, talking my mom into getting a lift chair and my continuing to get things settled in their new place.....Oh and might I add the 3 days I spent more at their house than mine! LOL (even one stayover)....Let's just say, all the alarms have now been tested on a frequent basis, and all the bugs have been worked out of the emergency security systems as well....Also be aware that when you have a new house with a very tight sealing garage door, you have to be sure that the door is up the whole way before starting your car. Otherwise, about an hour after you close the door, the fumes build up and set off the carbon monoxide sensors and the smoke alarms!! Nuff said?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

This old house...

Dad, Stephen and I went down to the old house today to pick up the last piece of furniture. Tomorrow will be the closing. I didn't sleep well last night and I know that it was the trepidation I was experiencing and trying to ignore. I wasn't sure how I'd feel or react being in there one last time. Thank goodness I took my camera as there were still a couple little things that I'd forgotten to take pics of before, like the detail work on the old banister.
I got to thinking about the old place that I'd called 'home' for 43 years. Sure I didn't live there all that time but it certainly was a comfort all the years away, knowing that I could come back to this familiar, safe place. Today I got to thinking of all the stories the house had to tell as though it was a living breathing thing. Ya it was rather hard knowing that would be the last time to be in the house. I mean I started kindergarten from that house, had my friends stay over there, dad had his art classes there, I lived with my first husband there for a month, Hallie spent the first 7 years of her life there, I looked in the mirror at the base of the stairs just before leaving to marry Stephen etc....I get teary thinking of it now. I said goodbye to it (yes out loud) as though it were a living being. I told it how good a home it had been to us but that it was time to move on and that soon it would have 4 kids running up it's stairs again...Stephen and my dad didn't even laugh at me....and I wouldn't have cared if they did.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Inspiration in unlikely places

I’ve watched Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium at least five times. It even holds Stephen’s (my husband) attention which is really saying alot. And that he’s rewatched it five times in the past year is monumental. It is so much more than ‘just’ a kid’s movie.
After each time I watch it I feel better for some reason. I love it! And it epitomizes the philosophy that I tried to instill in the kids that I had in school. That we should approach everything with determination, joy, bravery and wonder.
Everything has potential. When we are young we dream big. There’s no wall of impossibility, no boundries. Life is approached with a youthful curiosity. Unfortunately as we grow into adulthood we have a preconceived idea of what is expected of us and we lose the ‘wonder.’
I always tried to show the kids that you don’t have to leave your childhood behind you when you grow up... Sure there is definitely a time and place for certain behaviors, but I showed them it’s imperative that you take some of your childhood with you! I was always the teacher that was chosen to do the turkey dance with feathers stuck to my behind and other tasks of equal dignity. The kids would watch me (and sometimes other teachers!) wide eyed, I’m sure thinking to themselves, I have never seen an adult act that way! There were smiles on their faces as they’d relax, open up and use their imagination joining in the fun. It was like watching a wet, fragile butterfly coming out of it’s coccoon and then becoming a strong, beautiful one. I did my best to show them it was ok to be unique and when you feel good about your own uniqueness, magic happens.
I always said that the best part of being with little kids was getting to see the world for the first time through their eyes. All those new experiences like watching ants make trails & carrying food much bigger than themselves or watching a spider spin a web.
The movie conveys all those kinds of wondrous things. Mr. Magorium looks at the world with childlike wonder yet he’s very insightful on life. And on the subject of death, if we can only remember his approach it certainly is a lovely one. The other characters have their underlying messages as well. The accountant that has the social skills of a 10 year old boy and then the 10 year old boy with such an active imagination and penache’ for different hats (and imagination) that he guides the accountant to be a better human being. And then of course there’s Mahoney that needs to believe in herself the way Mr. Magorium does, so that she can get her inner ‘magic’ back.
Of course I heard very little about this movie. Obviously it wasn’t a big hit with the critics. That was probably because it had so much to offer on a deeper level compared to the shallow no brainer stuff that’s out there. Alot of times the “bigger is better, technologically superior’ means of entertainment misses the big picture. Sometimes it’s better just to be given a block of wood....and if you're not sure what that means you need to watch the movie to find out. Ü

Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Random things about me...

I did this on Facebook and got some great responses from other folks. It was more interesting, I thought, than some of those other questionaires we all I thought I'd post it here and if it inspires you to do the same, please send it to me cause I'd love to read it.

1. I have a great deal of faith and it guides me in everything I do in my life
2. My family means everything to me (which includes husband, daughter, son-in-law, parents and granddaughters)
3. I miss Alaska!
4. I have two pet rats Nigel & Malcolm, a big white shepherd Zoey and a diabetic cat that's in remission, Scout
5. I have been married over 22 years and our 'courtship' was writing letters cross country. We had our first date after we got engaged.
6. I have a special place in my heart for special needs kids and use to be a teacher of them. I love little kids in general
7. I use to take care of elderly folks to help them stay in their homes longer
8. I'd rather just blog instead of trying to figure out all these different websites. It takes too much time for me
9. I am so proud of my daughter.She is such a good person and a wonderful wife & mother
10. I love to watch the Vicar of Dibley
11. I love to work outside and get sweaty & dirty. (like mowing the grass)
12. One of my favorite things to do in summer is sitting out on the swing with a fire in the pit and watching the stars with Stephen
13. It's a dream of mine to be able to drive the Alaska highway again
14. I love to scrapbook! That's my ME time and helps clear my head
15.I have some really good friends. Some I've had since I was 4 & 12 years old.
16. I'm married to my best friend!
17. When I was a kid I wanted to be either a undercover cop or a veterinarian. LOL
18.I can speak some German
19.I have only one restaurant in PA that I really enjoy...I miss our favorites places in Germany & Alaska
20.I would really like to see a white sandy beach with palm trees IN PERSON someday.
21. I don't turn the tv on during the day but would rather have music on
22. I live on 10 acres in the middle of secluded woods and LOVE IT
23. My granddaughters were named after me. Jane is my middle name but I know officially granddaughter, Janie is named after MY mother...Aurora (Rori) Kate though is solely mine! Ü Kate has been an endearing nickname from Stephen and some close friends
24. I've had a very happy life
25. I enjoy miniature/little things. Miniature books, little fairy figures, special things that would fit in your pocket and hide.

What a week!

I figured it'd be easier to just blog this rather than rehashing things in emails...
We have nothing to complain about but I am glad that this week is about over. Nothing much has gone as planned. We finally got the clarification at 10am today about my parent's house closing and it's been postponed til next week.(it had been set up for 1 this afternoon) One appraisal letter hasn't been received and it's holding everything up....Yesterday was spent at the house with my dad. The radon people were there doing their thing and the heating people doing theirs (cleaning the old boiler etc) which cost us twice what was anticipated and then of course the people that were coming for the last pieces of furniture. One of which was bigger than they thought so they didn't take that. UGH...Meanwhile dad and I were pacing through an empty house for quite a few hours. I'd taken cards, mags etc, but once the table was picked up it wasn't near as fun.
When I got home I made a quick run to the chiro for a lower back issue so I'd feel better for the company we were to get this weekend. Afterwards although I had relief I was achy.
Then get the call from Stephen's brother (his wife & 5 kids that were to be coming from Ohio this weekend) that they had been without power for 3 days and it had just come back on but they weren't too sure if it was going to stay on, plus there is threat of more stuff coming our way, so they've had to cancel. Not to mention he broke his arm this week as well!!! We are disappointed but after the week we've had, it's ok though. Stephen needed some time off work anyway.
We've also felt the sting of learning of the passing of an old friend that was 91 yrs old in MO, the 12th anniversary of the loss of Stephen's dad, and my mother-in-law's current husband being in congestive heart failure. Hallie has also had an emotional 3 weeks over a little dog that showed up at their house (there's a link to her blog on mine , chronicling the events although she's not been able to write about the latest yet) Of course when your children hurt you hurt too!
It's been quite a week!
So I am hoping for a quieter weekend!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friends for the long haul

I’ve been thinking about my close friends alot lately. I’m not exactly sure why...perhaps because I’ve been having so many introspective moments? Who knows... And by ‘close’ I certainly don’t mean geographically. These are the people that have been in my life for more than a season or two (but let us not forget how important those people were/are as well!!)
I’m talking about the people that are there for the long haul. Most of which have been there for more than a decade and some for more than 4!! (although there are couple newbies of less than a decade) But no matter how often we get to talk or see each other, it’s like we’ve never been apart. We pick up right where we left off. These are friends that you can be yourself with and they are going to love you anyway! And just thinking about our times together makes me smile.
Then I was thinking how awsome it would be if I had tons of money that I could get all my dearest friends together in one room at the same time. Where would it be, what would we eat, what would we talk about?...gosh it would be a hoot beyond hoots! All that comic talent! Ü
Anyway, I was sent an email this morning that really touched me..and I must say seeing all her friends in the room, not only made me jealous Ü, but gave me inspiration to tell my friends what I was to Hallie, Brandy, Betsy, Boog, Andrea, Robin and Penny it has been a great privilege and honor to call you my friends. Thank you! And although the video is directed toward ‘girlfriends’ I have to include the very special & exceptional men in my life as well, my dear husband Stephen, Jim and Terry. Here's the link

Thursday, January 8, 2009

so as not to scare you....

...I promise that I'll attempt to make my blogs not nearly as long as the first two...I guess that stuff had just built up in me for so long that I needed to let it spill out. I am purged of it now. LOL...hopefully reading it will help give someone else insights into their own life's questions.

Change can be good if you let it

I got to watch Oprah yesterday. All this week she’s working on the different aspects (health, money, spiritual etc) of having ‘your best life in 2009’..I was curious to see what would be said about the spiritual part. I’m happy to say that I had a couple ‘A-ha’ moments as Oprah calls them...You know, when everything finally clicks in our brains and we have an understanding of something we didn’t quite grasp in that particular way before. For me sometimes it’s a great help figuring out the perfect accurate words to express those feelings.
I’ve struggled with things the past couple years since moving back to where I grew up. My married life of 22 years, even with all the ups & downs that everyone faces, have been my absolute happiest. I thought that moving back to where things were familiar & there was family here would just automatically be an extension of our ‘happy years‘. But it’s been a challenge and a big change. That’s not to say that I (we) haven’t been happy here exactly but well it’s been different. Things aren’t as we expected on many levels...being close to family, the civilian job market, being so far from other loved ones (namely Hallie & her family), and my mother having severe memory issues.
A couple of the issues are as follows...for one it’s not me that has imposed this on myself but rather the reaction by others that have put this doubt, if you will, in my head and made me want to defend myself in some way. Since I was 17, I identified myself as Hallie’s matter what you did in life be it school, church, work etc, all you had to say was “I have a 2 yr old” or “I have a teenager at home” and people nodded in understanding. No other explanation was needed. My life revolved around my daughter and I loved every minute of it. No one questioned what I ‘did’ in my spare time because with all her and I did together (school, activities etc) there wasn’t much spare time.
Then she married in Alaska and we had to move to Germany a very short time later. For the first time in my adult life I didn’t have my daughter in the house, ya know? Sure I was still a mom but the dynamics had changed drastically. It wasn’t quite as noticeable while in Germany because we had so many other issues that had to be dealt with there and we kinda felt like our lives were in a limbo between worlds. It was difficult to say the least & there wasn’t time to focus as much on the life we use to have, we just wanted to get through this part that we were in. Plus we had the crutch of saying we’re in the military & all that entails...(you get another nod of understanding with a ‘say no more’ more look with that one too, but I won‘t get into that issue here) I think that’s where we thought moving back here would be our refuge. We had pretty high expectations I’m afraid.
I (we) forgot though that all things change. Which is really quite silly on our part being the usually perceptive, intuative people that we are...but that just goes to show you that we can all be caught unaware sometimes. No matter how enlightened we become in our lives we can still be caught off guard.
That’s where the outside has imposed this question on me...People would ask when we moved back, ‘what do you do all day here?’...Ughhh, uummm, good question....I can’t say I have a two year old at home, that satifies their query...What DO I do? Who am I now if not Hallie’s mom? How do I explain to them that having children at home isn’t the be-all end-all of a woman’s/mother’s life? I’m thinking, “My life is still important, darn it!”
I had to learn that even though I can’t be identified as an ‘active, hands on’ mother, if you will, doesn’t mean that my roll as a mother isn’t important. It’s just different now and I get to explore what that is. I have wonderful new changes that have so enriched my life, namely being a grandmother. Being an Oma to Janie and Rori is such a special gift. Even though they are far away I am as active a grandparent as I can possibly be engaging them in conversation and being interested in their thoughts and doings. I strive to be a positive mentor for them in a way that only a grandparent can be.
All things change....
Our extended family too...They had forged a life without us included in it since we’ve lived so far away. It was kind of shock I think on all our parts, to have the others to consider in matters that families deal with. We have spent most of our lives away, relying only on each other. So we have to learn something that people that have always lived closeby family have taken for granted. That these people are here. LOL
All things AND people change....they evolve....
Of course things weren’t the same with my parents when we got back. Pretty early on I realized that my mom’s memory wasn’t what it use to be. I ended up taking over their finances, insurances, etc because it was too confusing and upsetting for her to take care of it anymore. I’ve had to fight anger at this happening to her when we were finally getting back here and also the fear of this same thing maybe happening to me in my later years. I mourn the loss of my mom as I knew her even though she’s still here. I’ve had to become the parent to my parents which has taken me off guard.
But all things change.....
I may not have the other fulfilling jobs outside the home here as I once had either. Being an admissions counselor in a mental health & rehab hospital, working with special needs & at-risk preschoolers, being an in-home caregiver for the elderly to name just a few. I see now that these jobs prepared me for the new jobs I’m having now. To make me better in the way I execute my duties as a be more patient, understanding, empathetic.
I am always busy in our home doing the things that need done and also having some time for myself doing whatever gives my spirit a much needed rest from the daily stresses. I am never bored. I actually find joy in doing the most mundane things like laundry and dishes. I can’t explain it really...I do it all for the greater good! LOL
I am learning that it’s ok to give myself permission to feel overwhelmed at times & cry. A spiritual warrior isn’t one that pretends everything is fine all the time. It’s not a weakness to feel ‘weak’ occassionally. WonderWoman only really exists in the movies. We have to remember that we are human and we were built to have a meltdown every once in awhile. A warrior is one that feels deeply & then moves forward and does what they need to do.
Instead of giving up because our lives took a wrong turn we have to rid ourselves of the idea that life is supposed to be a certain way. We can exert so much energy swimming against that current, there’s so much tension in resisting what’s happening that we lose a lot of our power and our inner wisdom to go forward.
It’s ok that I can feel anger over the circumstances with my mom’s condition but I have to recognize there’s a grief hidden beneath that too. Instead of living in fear of what I might be losing I need to ask myself what the experience is trying to teach me. How am I to grow in this? Sometimes I need to cry & grieve the loss of the person she use to be but I can’t let it overshadow that she’s still here & I need to enjoy every moment of it just as it is, with no preconditions.
All things change...and we can roll with it, expand & grow in our life’s journey & find the joy in life or not...we have the choice the make

Monday, January 5, 2009

My word is my bond. Is it yours?

My first attempt at blogging (although I've had journals off & on for years) will be nothing more than venting of a pet peeve. I've had the opportunity to witness firsthand the moral decline of people's word. Whatever happened to 'my word is my bond'? Whether or not it has 'I promise' in front of the sentence is inconsequential. (ie. I promise to meet you at 11:30...)
I have been diligently working at selling off things my parents no longer need. The bigger furniture has been left at their old house where there is the room to store it. I've advertised for people to pick it up there of course. This means I drive the 46 miles round trip to meet them there to do so. To make my trips count I schedule all the supposed pickups at the same date I've had one out of four actually show up!
In the past week I've succumbed to one sob story which amounted to my dad & I loading a bed at the old house and bringing it to their new house (remember the 46 miles roundtrip?) where the lady could pick it up the next morning....After getting it up here we set up a time for pick up. "No problem", she says... The next morning, she says 'Can you deliver it?" (which is another 25 miles round trip) "Uh no, I don't think so", I say. A short time later, she says circumstances have changed and she backs out of the deal all together! So much for going out of our way to help someone out. I mean, all this for a $15 bed!
So the next person that wants the bed says "I get paid on Wed. and I'll call with what time I can pick it up"...Great! I this point it's now being stored in the back of dad's truck as they don't have storage room at the new place. The lady knows how it came to be in there and she promises me, "I won't let you down"....Well, Wednesday comes and goes of course with no phone call. 5 days later I email her to see if she still wants it and she briefly explains about a sister being the hospital & she didn't have my number with her blah, blah, blah.....and she'll call on Monday about pickup...I am still waiting on that phone call.
Then there's the people that didn't show up at the old house to pick up the other bed...She says, 'apparantly you didn't get the email stating I was trying to find someone with a truck etc. " Well, it's funny that I've gotten all her other emails except this one. Meanwhile she had my phone number that she could've called BEFORE I made the trip down there!!! SO, I give her the benefit of all doubt and we set up another day & time to meet down there....she's a no show!!!!!!! AGAIN!
The thing is, as human beings there are occassions when we change our minds on a subject. But don't tell me one thing assuring me of your sincerity and then blindsiding me (perhaps me even waiting somewhere for you to show up) just because you didn't have the ethics, the backbone or whatever you'd like to call it, to let me know you changed your mind. I'm thinking that this could quite possibly been born out of pure laziness on their part to follow through. Sure I might be hurt/annoyed/frustrated initially at the change of plans but to leave me standing there wastes my time, energy & gas money as though I don't matter at all. It adds insult to injury!
To me really this kind of behavior is nothing better than just a lie. I think as the words are coming out of their mouths they have no plans of actually following through. How many times has someone said I'll give you a call and you know as they say it that you won't hear from them? And you know one of the worst things about it all? being the trusting soul I am believe them and give them the benefit of the doubt!! Shame on me, I know....but I am learning as many people have pointed out that we live by a "higher code" if you me it's a very simple premise though....although we fall short of our own expectations at times we still constantly strive to do our best and to treat others as we would like them to treat us.