A-Z Blogging Challenge


It's time! The Blogging from A-Z April Challenge officially begins at at midnight. There are over 900 bloggers signed up to participate, and it's not too late for you to join us! The idea is to write 26 alphabet-related blog posts in April on 26 consecutive days, excluding Sundays.

Some folks have chosen a theme for their posts, or will use a particular form, such as poetry.  Some have several posts written in advance and scheduled to be published on the appropriate day.  Others, like me, will just wing it and write about what ever inspires them in regards to the alphabet letter of the day. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up and will make it all the way to Z by the end of the month as scheduled... we'll see! :-) 

The purpose of the challenge is not only to promote3 blogging but also to encourage bloggers to visit and become followers of some new blogs... in other words, a great way to make some new friends, and maybe attract some new visitors to your blog.  With over 900 participants blogging their hearts out, there's sure to be some great stuff to read !  This sounds like fun to me, if you agree you can sign up by clicking on the link  above. 

See you in the AM with the letter A! :-)

A Gift from My Father


This post is my contribution for this week's edition of Monday Memories...

My father wasn't brought up in a family that outwardly showed affection, nor was my mother, so it wasn't much a part our lives growing up either.  We knew without a doubt that our parents loved us, it just wasn't put into so many words, or conveyed with hugs and such.  My mother showed her love in the way she took care of us, and the way she made birthdays and holidays special times to remember.

My father provided a good life for us as a business owner in the rural community where we lived.  Every now and then he would go out of town for a day or two to a regional meeting or some such activity.  While he was away we enjoyed liberties like having breakfast waffles for supper, or pizza... things he wouldn't have wanted to come home and find on the table after a long day at work.  Dad was strictly a meat and potatoes guy.  

Sometimes but not always, when Dad returned he would bring small gifts for each of us.  I remember tiny cedar boxes that smelled wonderful inside, little sampler boxes of Whitman's chocolates just like the big box he gave Mom on Valentines Day, inexpensive jewelry, and such.  But one gift stand out in my mind as exceptional, from the moment I first laid my eyes on it, it charmed me... 

I don't remember what my sisters got, but Dad handed me a beautiful wind chime with three brightly colored metal bands from which hung small diamond shaped pieces of glass.  Each piece of glass was painted with Oriental calligraphy and was suspended from the frame on bright lengths of colored thread.  I hung it on a hook in front of my upstairs bedroom window, and whenever the breeze would blow the glass chimes would tinkle with the most beautiful sounds. I fell asleep to this sound at night and woke to it in the mornings, as this was long before the days of air-conditioned rooms and closed windows.  If a storm came in, I would be awakened by the sounds of glass jangling  more loudly and a jumble of strings to gently untangle when I rescued it.

The wind chime hung in my bedroom window for many years, the colors faded, the strings grew worn and brittle, and still most of the little glass diamond shapes held on. I don't remember how it finally met it's end, I'm guessing that it fell apart and was replaced by signs and symbols of the 60's as I moved into my teen years.

In my mind I can still see the lovely wind chime.  I've looked high and low for a similar one since, and my daughter has given me a lovely one of metal and glass prisms. Still I miss the one my Father gave me, and I would love to hear it's glass making music in the wind one more time!

( Note: Monday Memories is a writing prompt blog, and a place for people to share their memories.   Why don't you write down a memory from your life and share it with us there. It doesn't have to be done on Monday, any day of the week is fine!)

Blessed to Be A Blogger


Last week's  Celebrate Gratituesday prompt was to write an Acrostic using the word Gratitude, sharing "Why I'm Grateful for My Blogging Experience".  I didn't get it done last week, but it's such a great theme that I decided to go ahead and do it this week!


Why I'm Grateful for My Blogging Experience

Great way to get to know people from all over the world
Relaxation therapy... writing down the things bouncing around in my head
A place where I can be myself, where I can share what I think and believe
Time to be creative and to tell stories
Inspiration from reading what other bloggers write
Trusting fellow bloggers to accept me as I am
Understanding that we can see things differently and still be friends
Discovering that I am not so different from everyone else
Encouraging each other with our comments as we journey thru life

A Must Read!

I've mentioned my friend Louise Gallagher over at Recover Your Joy before.  Her posts are wonderful medicine for weary, battered souls.  Today she posted a poem written by her daughter Alexis at the age of 22, entitled "If I Could Lighten Up".  It's one of the most wonderful, affirmative things I've read in a long time. I'm going to pass it on to my daughter, and my sister, and my friends.  Stop by and read it for yourself, I'll bet you do the same!

Another Take on Freedom

Here's another post in response to the Sunday Scribblings prompt of "free"...

The kittens managed to scale the walls of their box
for the first time today!  I found them running loose
when I entered their room this morning.


So I cut down the side of their box for easy access. 
They are having an awesome time running in and out
and checking out "the big world".


It's much more fun to watch than tv!


 Of course when their mama called to them
everyone scurried back for lunch and nap time!

Free At Last

Here's what I have to say for Six Word Saturday...


A Whole Day To Myself...Freedom!

I have the whole day to myself today for the first time in several weeks.  I didn't have to go to work. I slept in until nearly 10 AM!  It's the first morning in a long time that I haven't woken up feeling exhausted. 

I spent the morning playing with the kittens... wonderful relaxation therapy! It's afternoon now, I think I'll make some breakfast soon. :-)

The house is absolutely quiet except for the sound of purring cats... I love it! I listen to phones ringing and the intercom blaring all day at work, so silence is heavenly.

John has something to attend after work today so he won't be home until later this evening.  I can blog, read, and yes - even do a little housework - all without an eye on the clock or any place I need to be.  Later on I'll head outside for a little fresh air and sunshine. 

I love having quiet time to myself... funny what a little freedom can do for a weary soul!  

(Last week's Sunday Scribblings prompt was "Free". I never got a chance to write for that, but it looks like now I have!  Better late than never :-)

Kitten Cam Update

The kittens are three weeks old now... playful and too adorable for words!






Update


Just a quick  post to let you know that I haven't died! :-)  I'm doing ok, just totally tied up with work and life at the moment, and not finding enough hours or energy at the end of the day for blogging.  Most mornings I leave the house by 8 AM and rarely return before 7 or 8 at night.  It makes for a long day.  I'm still fighting the remnants of the congestion/ear infection issue too.  Tonite I got my nails done, so that made it even later, but "nail therapy" is always a really relaxing time for me, so that's good.  In the past I would have stressed about being awol from the blog but I have learned to live in the moment and take life as it comes.  I hope to have a bit of time to do some writing tomorrow nite, I miss it when I don't! 

Things in my world are good though, John's knee has healed nicely, the kittens will be three weeks old tomorrow and are doing great, and our new supervisor is in place at work... and we like her!  So there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Oh, and the oil drilling rig is up and running in the back yard, but doing so without being too invasive so far.  Where else but in Texas can you sit in your hot tub at night and watch them drilling for oil about a hundred yards away?! 

I'll be back in the next day or two to do some proper writing here, just wanted to let everyone know I'm doing ok...  just feeling a bit old and tired! :-) 

Service Please!


I finally have time to relax a bit this evening after what turned out to be a good day at work, and to write my blog post for "Write A Letter Wednesday" (or Thursday as the case may be)...

Dear Food Service Worker,

I admire the fact that you are young, and are working at a  job instead of just hanging out and expecting your parents to provide you with everything including spending money.  Not only are you learning how good it feels to have your own paycheck, but you are learning good lessons about how to get a job and keep it, lessons that will serve you well in your future years.   I also hope that working at a minimum wage job will help motivate you to stay in school and plan for a career, so that you won't have to spend the rest of your life working at a job that involves a lots of work for low pay.

I enjoy being greeted at the counter or the drive-thru window by fresh young faces, especially when they are smiling and include a friendly greeting.  A smile can make all the difference to a customer's day. It pleases me if you comment on my pretty nails, or my husband's cool tattoo. It means you noticed me, and not just as another number waiting to be served.

There are a few things I wish you'd consider though, and maybe work a little harder on...

The first rule of employment is to show up when scheduled, on time, dressed appropriately, and definitely not looking like you stayed out late partying the night before.  Make sure your uniform is clean and neat, and your hair combed.  Don't go crazy with the  makeup... you want someone to focus on your smile, not the raccoon rings around your eyes!  Showing up on time is not only a good practice of self-discipline, it also makes life much easier for your employer, and the experience a whole lot better for customers who aren't waiting endlessly because you didn't show up, or called in running an hour late. Plan ahead, use and alarm clock, leave home early!

When you greet customers, be friendly, and visit a little if you like, but please don't call me "Dearie" or "Sweetie" just because I'm old enough to be your grandma. Ma'am is just fine with me, and for all you know I'm not truly that sweet! :-) Remember that please and thank-you are still the magic words!

When taking orders or assisting customers in any way... PAY ATTENTION!  Listen to what they are saying. Repeat their order back to them. Ask questions if you aren't sure you got it right.  It saves much aggravation and decreases customer complaints. That reflects back on you!

If you are giving customers their orders, and this is especially true at the drive-thru window... MAKE SURE everything they paid for is included in the bag, that the items are correct, and that flatware and condiments are offered/included so they don't end up eating with their fingers and wiping their mouths on their sleeves! :-) 

The number one complaint I have and hear from friends and co-workers is getting home or back to the job to discover missing food items or incorrect items.  This seems to be so prevalent that I am often forced to go thru the entire bag to check the order before pulling away from the window, and I find errors even after being assured by the service worker that "Yup, everything is in there."   I know for you it's a case of car out of sight, out of mind.  For me it means arriving at work with an assortment of breakfast items ordered by coworkers only to discover that Joe didn't get his sausage biscuit, or Sally got cheese on hers and she's allergic to cheese.  It's frustrating and embarrassing and I rarely have the time to return to your fast food establishment to get it corrected.  It only takes a couple minutes to check the order against what's in the bag, people!

PLEASE don't grumble to customers about your supervisor, coworkers, duties, hours, or pay.  There's a proper place to register your complaints.  It's a very bad  practice to tell customers how unhappy you are with your work situation.  I assure you they won't be impressed, and odds are one of them knows the supervisor or the boss and will be happy to pass that information on!

One more thing that should be obvious, but apparently isn't... Your boss is paying you, not for your presence, but to do a job.  When you're on the clock, your time is his/her time, and not  your own.  This means PUT THE CELL PHONE and the  IPOD AWAY!  Don't be so tuned into your tunes that you don't make eye contact with  me, or be arguing with your boyfriend on the phone so that you're too distracted to serve me.  Save that for break time.  Save the yelling back and forth at each other and colorful language for in the back too.  We don't want to hear it! 

Be helpful!  If there's trash on a counter or the floor, pick it up! If a customer needs assistance with a door or the drink machine, offer to help! And don't roll your eyes while doing it! Even when you don't think we notice,  we do. Don't talk about us while we're within earshot, and we promise not to comment on your facial piercings or the holes in your ears until we've walked out the door.  Then we ALL can roll our eyes! :-)

Lastly, if you're in a position where tipping is customary, remember that an upbeat attitude and checking on your customer now and then to see if they need anything, makes all the difference in the customer's experience... and in your tip.  I know you are super-busy during rush hours, and by the end of a long shift you're tired and your feet hurt. A fair customer will acknowledge when you are doing your best inspite of those circumstances.  Just don't use it as an excuse to be short, irritable, or unreasonably slow. 

If you put your heart into your job, your customers will appreciate you, your boss will take notice, AND you'll feel good about yourself!  The secret to life isn't always doing great things, but in doing small things with attention and care. 

Remember too, that this entry-level job you're working is the first of many references you'll need for future jobs along the way.  Keep your cool, resolve problems with your supervisor, be dependable, hang in there, and never walk off the job in a huff! If it's truly an unhappy situation for you, give two weeks notice of your intent to quit... and if you're smart, you'll have another job lined up first.  Think it over carefully before you decide to go. Jobs aren't easy to come by, and I assure you that there is no such thing as a perfect workplace!

We all had to start somewhere, usually in the lowliest of of jobs, but you can use your job as an opportunity to be of service, and to brighten other people's lives while you're there.  As the saying goes... bloom where  you are planted! Who knows, you just might do a little growing too! :-)

Thanks for listening to me rant, now PLEASE listen to my order and try to get it right!

Sincerely,

The "Sweet Ol' Lady" that you serve several mornings each week :-)

Thirty Years and Counting


Today marks the beginning of Tuesday Tributes. You can read about it here.  I've decided to dedicate my first tribute post to one of God's finest creations... my husband! Today marks the 30th anniversary of the day he started working at his place of employment. Reaching that milestone is  not all that common in today's world of transient workers, and I am so very proud of him!

Back in 1981, he was twenty-seven years old and had quit his job the day before he walked into the truck accessories shop to pick up a friend's truck.  The harried owner, just two years older than John, was trying to handle sales and installation at his rapidly growing business.  Customers where everywhere, and he clearly had his hands full. 

John's friend commented to the owner "Looks like you could use some help around here."  Larry (the owner) replied, "It's hard to find somebody that wants to work."

The friend said, "John here is looking for a job."  Larry said, "Is that right?" and asked  if John knew anything about installing truck accessories.  John said "No, but I'm willing to learn."

He started work the next day as the sole installer while Larry handled sales.  In fifteen years time John had worked his way up to the position of General Manager overseeing sales, installation, freight, inventory, and maintenance. Over the next twenty five years with John's capable assistance, Larry went on to turn the business into a multi-million dollar operation.

Larry retired in 2004, and his son James took over as Vice President with John continuing to oversee daily operations as General Manager. James had been just three years old when John first began working there, and used to follow him around the shop wanting to help.  They have an amazing work relationship and have continued to be the closest of friends all these years.  James has three young sons of his own now that follow John around the shop just as James once did.  When John makes them paper airplanes, James smiles... remembering when John made them for him many years ago.

John will tell you that he's just a "corn-fed farm boy", spending time on his Grandpa's farm in East Texas after his father died when he was three years old.  The farm was sold when John's Grandma died four years later, and he spent the next ten years of his life being bounced from town to town, accompanying his mother and alcoholic stepfather.  In the sixth grade he attended five schools, in five different towns and amazingly still passed!  John quit school at sixteen so that he could get a job to help support his mother.  He got married and became a father at the age of seventeen. 

From the age of 16 until he started his current job at 27, John worked at approximately thirty different jobs.  His current job was the first place he'd ever worked long enough to earn paid vacation. John and Larry got along great, becoming close friends. John liked the work, and also discovered that he enjoyed working with the public.  The truth is he excels at it!  There is never a time when we go out in our community of 100,000 people, that at least one person doesn't come up to say hello and shake his hand. And, John can tell me exactly how many years he's "been knowin' them" (Texas speak).  It seems everybody in West Texas drives a truck and likes to dress them up.  John asks customers, "You don't want to drive a naked truck, do you?" :-)

John continues to work six days a week, often nine hours a day, standing on his feet at the counter, greeting customers and making sales.  I don't know how he does it, but somehow he does, and he does it well.  He is highly respected in the community.

Co-workers, friends, and family members tell me that John has mellowed considerably over the years. He says he came by that Irish temperament naturally.  While I've only had the privilege of having him in my life for the past three years, and I can attest that he is the sharpest, sweetest, most tender-hearted, most honest and straight-forward man that I've ever known.  John says that becoming a Freemason sixteen years ago has taught him to regard his fellow man with kindness and compassion.  Additionally, he has a delightful sense of humor.  It is not uncommon to see a twinkling in his eye that indicates little Johnny (about age 5) is about to come out and amuse us all.  I've never known anyone with a gift for making folks laugh so easily. 

I also have to note that John is 100% old school.  The employees under his supervision love and respect him, while knowing that he won't tolerate nonsense or slacking.  He carries these standards of conduct over into his personal life too.  He's been  known to walk up to a group of young people at a public event and remind them to watch their language because "there are ladies and children present", if their conversation is becoming too colorful and loud.

Shortly after I became engaged to John, I was talking with an insurance agent who has known him for over 30 years.  He told me that I was getting a really good man. "John is the real deal" he said, and he was absolutely right.  Every moment that we've spent together in the past three years has been a blessing to me, and I look forward to growing old together.

Happy 30th Work Anniversary Honey! You've given them your very best, and I know they love you like family. I could not be  prouder of you! It is an honor and a privilege to be your wife.

Tuesday Tributes


Today I'm beginning a new creative writing prompt called Tuesday Tributes.  It's a place to share stories about some of the good folks we know! As part of my ongoing effort to focus more on the positive aspects of life, I want to do some posts about folks who are doing something right. It might be someone I know personally, or some public figure from the past or present. It might be the cleaning lady where I work, or the head of a large corporation.

We all encounter people in our lives every day that do something we admire or give us reason to respect them. Why don't you take a little time each week to write a tribute to someone you admire. It can be just a few lines of poetry or prose, or an entire story. For that matter, a photograph with a few words of explanation would be great too!
You can add your post on the Tuesday Tributes page anytime during the week, it doesn't have to be on Tuesday. You are also welcome to share a link to any tribute you've posted on your blog in the past.

Be sure to drop by Tuesday Tributes and check out whose praises other bloggers are singing, and while you're at it, why don't you vist Monday Memories and Write A Letter Wednesday too.  Maybe you'll be inspired to do a little creative writing of your own to share sometime this week!

Remembering A Childhood Friend


Friendship doesn't come easily to me, it never has. By the time I was six or so I realized that I was destined to be an outsider, not one of the popular kids. I was probably socially clumsy, though I didn't realize it back then.  I was also uncoordinated and definitely not physically adept at sports or games.

I did well in school, it came easily for me, but my teachers often complained to my mother that I daydreamed too much.  That's true, I would grow quickly bored with the endless drilling and recitation, or find myself wincing in pain for the classmate struggling to read aloud or do math problems on the board while being prodded by the teacher.  Often I escaped out the large windows of our old brick schoolhouse and traveled to happier places in my mind, only to be embarrassed when I was abruptly called back to attention.

Then and now, I felt sorry for those who struggled in class, for the underdogs, and especially for those who were different, the ones who everyone picked on or made fun of.  I knew how it felt to be an outsider, when inside every child yearns to belong, to be a member of the group.

Though I attended grammar school over 40 years ago, I can still recall the names and faces of several children I encountered in my classes at various grade levels who were different than the rest, set apart, made fun of, thought strange.  I would like to say that in each case I extended the hand of friendship, but I didn't.  I was too awkward and shy. I do recall a lot of shared glances and encouraging smiles though, me trying to convey a bit of emotional support. I've often wondered how each of those children fared in life, and if they overcame the stigma of being different. Perhaps, like me, they have learned to live with it, and to make the best of it.  One such person that I recall fondly came to our school in the fourth grade. I shall call him JS here, though his full name was of German descent, long and cumbersome like my  own. 

In "the old days" children walked to and from school in the small Midwest town where I grew up. There was no being carted back and forth by parents.  We knew all the houses along our sidewalks and who lived in them.  One house that fascinated me was a very large old three story white clapboard affair with broad porches, somewhat dilapidated, that had stood empty for some time.  It had known better days.

One day I noticed activity at the house, a new family had moved to town.  Rumors soon said that they were a bit strange.  The father was a minister at a tiny church down the block, and they had a large brood of children.  The children dressed old style, with the boys wearing pants held  up by suspenders. Their clothing was worn, and their hair a bit shaggy. They talked with a slight accent, though that wasn't uncommon, growing up in an area rich in German, Polish, and Norwegian heritage.

One of the boys, JS, was assigned to my classroom.  Needless to say, the other boys had very little to do with him.  I wonder now if he had a single friend among them. His desk was near mine and it didn't take long to discover that he was a braniac nerd like me.  Soon we were visiting at recess time and sharing our sack lunches at noon. We talked about all kinds of things, from science to religion. We played marbles together, and he shared his love of baseball. He explained things like why it wasn't a good idea to eat snow from off the ground.

Soon we were known as a couple, and I remember him giving me a ring to wear that he'd gotten from a gumball machine. I remember being made fun of by some of the other kids for hanging out with this "weirdo", children can be cruel. JS carried my books home from school one day and my parents learned of our schoolyard friendship.  It didn't go over well.  After all, my dad was a businessman in the community and had an image to uphold!  His daughters couldn't be hanging out with "those kinds of  people". (This line of thinking continued to interfere with other friendships all the while I lived at home.) 

I remember JS and I having some kind of a minor disagreement one day  after school, and me giving him his ring back. I have no idea what we argued about, but that was the end of our friendship and we went our separate ways.  It wasn't long before his family moved away again, probably a pattern that repeated often in their lives.  I wonder where he is now, and whether he is a scientist or a philosopher, or just living an ordinary life like mine. I wish him well, he was a good friend for the short time we shared.

Note: This story was written for Monday Memories. Stop by and read some of the other memories being shared this week, and add one of your own!

No Big Deal

This prompt at Sunday Scribblings this week is "big". Here's my story...

"Why are you making such a scene about this?" he yelled back at her in a condescending voice. "I'm telling you it's no big deal, so just drop it!"

She didn't respond at that moment, she knew better than to risk angering him even more. But deep down she had a gut feeling that despite his denial it was serious business... symptomatic of a bigger problem... yes, a very big deal. "Me thinks you doth protest too much", she thought to herself, but said nothing.

Lately it seemed it had been one thing after another, like a row of standing dominoes, one toppling over the next. Half-baked excuses for coming home late, money they didn't have didn't have flowing thru his hands like water. He seemed restless and distant and even more-short tempered than usual. But this was going one step too far.

She felt she deserved, and had demanded an explanation. Who was this woman in the snapshot clamped to the visor of his truck along with a handful of gas receipts, tattered pictures of nieces and nephews and such? Not someone she'd ever seen before, that was for sure.

He'd told her it was "no one", just a picture he found laying around somewhere. Like the kind that comes in a new billfold, he'd said. But if it really meant nothing to him, why would he keep it there to look at, as if it was someone he cared about?

"Ok" she tested him, "then I'm going to go clean out your truck and toss the photo into the trash while I'm at it, because it bothers me".

"The hell you will!" he bellowed. "You keep your damn hands off my truck. It's none of your business." "There you go again, trying to make something out of nothing," he said, using his age-old ploy of turning things around to put her on the defensive.

"What do you think?" she asked her best friend the next day, desperately wanting someone to reassure her there was no reason to worry. But her friend only looked at her sadly and said "I think he's full of shit." Enough said.

Realizing this was yet another battle with him that she wasn't going to win, she tried to ignore the brazen insult of the other woman's picture hanging there for all his friends to see, tried to pretend it didn't matter. But it did, it ate at her. Who was this woman, and what was she to her husband? She didn't really want to know the answer, but then again she did.

The more she thought about it she came to the realization that this was just one more slap in the face, one more bit of evidence of his turning against her, of him shutting her out of his life piece by piece - replacing her with people and activities she knew nothing about about and would never agree with.

From deep within came the awareness that this photograph, this small piece of paper, was indeed a big deal... it was like the final inch of snow falling on the mountainside that would soon trigger an avalanche, wiping out the last shred of hope, and destroying everything in it's path.

Six Words (or more) on Sickness

Here's my status report for Six Word Saturday ...



TO HEAR OR NOT TO HEAR


Raging infection, inner left ear
Hoping the pain will soon fade
Swollen, can't wear my hearing aid

Sat two hours at the doctor
to get pills and a shot
Shot really hurt, pills cost alot

Cold and fever, a darn nuisance
Cough, sneeze, nose on the run
Frustrated, grumpy, being sick isn't fun

Right ear can't hear much either
That hearing aid in the shop
Everything sounded like snap, crackle, pop

Now my world is all muffled
But there's no time for rest
Headed for work... doing my best

Love Everlasting


I was reading a post on Facebook the other day written by a friend whose husband had died from cancer awhile back. I started to comment that she misses him as much as she does because she loved him so much. As soon as my fingers typed the the word "loved" my mind said, "No, that's not right." Love should not be written in the past tense. She didn't stop loving him the day he slipped from her arms into the spirit world. Even after his passing, her love for him lives on. She will always love him, and he - though now spirit rather than flesh - will continue to love and be near to her. According to my beliefs, they will meet up again when she too leaves this world... a joyous reunion of not just them, but of many souls they have interacted with in their lifetimes. Love is not something temporal, marked by periods of time spent together on this earth... real love is everlasting.

What Would You Do?



Recently I was talking with a friend about my ever-present struggle to find time in my life for the things I enjoy doing. "If you had more free time, how would you spend it?" she asked. That got me thinking. It sounded like the perfect topic for this week's contribution to Thursday Thirteen.

If I had more hours of free time in my life I would...
  1. Read more good books
  2. Write more blog posts
  3. Comment more on other blogs
  4. Send more love notes to my children
  5. Write my husband's biography
  6. Go for daily walks
  7. Start a new cross-stitch project
  8. Bake cookies for family and friends
  9. Renew my piano playing skills
  10. Make quilts
  11. Try new recipes for supper
  12. Organize my collection of photographs
  13. Grow flowers and veggies and maybe chickens
What fun things would you like to have more time to do?

The Knots Prayer


For this week's Write A Letter Wednesday I'm posting something I didn't write, but it's so good that I wanted to share it with you . It's one of those email forwards that gets passed along. The author is unknown.

Dear God,

Please untie the knots
that are in my mind,
my heart and my life.

Remove the have nots
the can nots and the do nots
that I have in my mind.

Erase the will nots, may nots,
might nots that may find
a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots,
would nots and should nots
that obstruct my life.

And most of all, Dear God,
I ask that you remove
from my mind, my heart,
and my life, all the am nots
that I have allowed to hold me back,
especially the thought
that I am not good enough.
~Amen~

Kitten Update :-)


Five days old! The two black and white ones are boys, the other four are girls. Their eyes will be open by this weekend!

You've Gotta Try This, Mom!



It's time to do a little writing for Sunday Scribblings. This week the Sunday Scribblings prompt is "raw". This post is about things I've learned from my daughter. I'll also be using it for Monday Memories. Why don't you stop by both places and share something you've written!


I tend to be a creature of habit and routine. While I love visiting new places and learning about new things, trying something new is a bigger stretch for me. Most often I will order the same item off the menu at my favorite restaurants over and over again. The same goes with items I purchase. If I like it, I continue to use it and I buy the same thing next time. I don't go with the latest fads or have a strong inclination to try out "new-fangled contraptions." I guess you could say I'm not really the adventurous sort.

Many of the new things I've tried and come to like are the result of being inspired, encouraged, poked and prodded by my daughter. She is a die-hard comparison shopper, studying up on everything from food to technology in order to decide what the best options and prices are. She is definitely not an impulse buyer, and if she does purchase something on a whim, she's more than likely to return it a couple days later in favor of something she's decided she likes better.

I remember coming to visit her one Saturday shortly after she had graduated from college and began her first nursing job. As we sat at a restaurant in the mall waiting for our lunch to arrive, she pulled a small camera out of her purse and said, "Look Mom, you can see the pictures when you take them!" That was my introduction to the world of digital photography. Nowdays we all pass digital photos back and forth on a daily basis with our phone cameras, a capability that has added so much fun to sharing news and family updates! Gone are the days of taking multiple photos and toting rolls of film to developers in hopes of some of them coming back as good shots.

It was also she who first introduced me to the Internet, and then gifted me with her computer when they purchased a new one. After some initial frustration in learning to navigate, it didn't take me long to fall in love with the Internet, not only for the vast resources and knowledge available at the click of keys, but more importantly for the ability to interact with people from all over the world. In no time at all I was hooked!

Last year she was singing the praises of the iPhone she'd just purchased. Humph, I said. I think it would be hard to use something other than a Windows-based operating system. But then she showed John and I all the amazing things she could do with this new phone, and all the wonderful apps that could be installed. Pretty fascinating I had to admit. I gave John one last November. Mine came as a birthday gift from him in February, and I have to say I LOVE it! Easiest gizmo to use that I've taken on yet. Yes... old dogs can learn new tricks! :-)

Along with technology, she's introduced me to hair products, makeup, whole foods, cooking techniques, and food supplements. She's shared tips and products for pet care, garden care, household organization, and car maintenance. What I've come to know is that if she recommends it, it's most likely really good!

One of our most recent adventures in sharing and learning took place when I was visiting her last Fall. She'd been telling me how much she had come to love sushi, after being introduced to it by a friend. Humpf, was probably the nicest of my thoughts on that subject. Ewww, was more like it! Raw fish?? Who wants to eat that? It didn't sound at all appealing, but knowing that she's a pretty picky eater when it comes to unusual food items and tastes, I agreed to go with her to her favorite sushi bar and give it a try. She ordered three different kinds of sushi rolls, a sampling of things she thought I might enjoy, know that I don't care for hot/spicy stuff or over-the-top sauces. Much to my amazement, it was delicious... tasting so fresh and healthy, and so very pretty too! We took our leftovers home and had finished them well before bedtime.

While options for sushi in the smaller city where live are somewhat limited, I find myself craving it, and settling for the second-rate offerings at the local grocery/deli. Dinner out at Osaka's for the good stuff is a special treat. Who would have thought raw fish could taste that good? While I've made a sushi convert out of my coworker, I haven't been able to convince my husband that it's tasty. He agreed to try a few bites but wasn't much impressed, and continues to refer to it as "bait", saying it belongs on the end of a fish hook, not on the dinner plate. :-)

When I think of all the wonderful ways my life has been enhanced through introductions of things by my daughter, I realize once again how blessed I am to have her in my life. As parents, we hopefully teach our children many things as they are growing up. Isn't is wonderful that it works two ways, and we learn maybe even more from them in the long run?!

Sweet Dreams


Soft pillow... sweet dreams... running free.

A Six Word Saturday commentary on my early morning hours, experiencing wonderful dreams before the alarm clock's harsh interruption.

Friday Confessional

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This week I'm joining the folks at Friday Confessional for the first time with an end of day collection of random thoughts and rants. Here goes...
I confess... I couldn't be more exhausted if I'd run a marathon. It feels like I have been. I put in over 14 hours of overtime in the past two weeks, with the promise of more of the same for at least the next two or three. So has my coworker. I'd like to say all that effort means we are on top of the game, but the truth is we are still mired in a mountain of paperwork and looming deadlines, as the two of us are currently carrying a workload that three could barely keep up with previously. We wait anxiously for word of when a new supervisor will begin. TGIF, but working again tomorrow, so it will be an early bedtime.
I confess... that it bothers me when folks gift you with items of decor for your home or office. Decor is a personal statement and should always be chosen by the ones who will be occupying that space, unless the giver is 100% sure that the items they've selected are something that would be welcome. From craftwork made by family members to pieces of artwork brought in to adorn office walls, it is uncomfortable to have to say, "thank you but no thank you", or to find a way to appear appreciative while setting the items aside. One thing I have learned over the years is that just because someone gives you something doesn't mean you are required to use it, display it, or keep it. A gift is just that, and the blessing comes in the giving and receiving, not always in the item itself.
I confess... that housekeeping, laundry, shopping and cooking have suffered greatly with the extra work hours leaving me so tired when I'm off. I must also confess that I much prefer to use what little time I do have to write on my blog, and to read and comment on other blogs.
I confess... that if I had my way, and plenty of money, I could happily spend six or more hours a day writing, reading, and commenting. Writing is my passion! Adding positive comments to what other folks write uplifts me too!
I confess... that I love cats as much or more than I like most people. If my husband didn't set some reasonable limits, I could easily become an old crazy cat woman with dozens of furry friends inhabiting all corners of the house. Scary, I know!
I confess... that I prefer blog friend relationships to "real life" relationships. When I analyze that, I think that's probably because it's safer. We put parts of ourselves out on our blogs to share with each other, but not ourselves in entirety. Blog relationships lend themselves freely to the sharing of confidences that we might not share with folks we have to deal with every day. Additionally, blogging can be done on our own time schedule, and in our pajamas, without the need to formally arrange time to spend together.
I confess... that the part I don't like about blog friends, is that they can interact with you for months or even years, and then just suddenly shut down their blog and drop out of sight.
I confess... that my husband is a better caretaker than me. I love him with all of my heart and appreciate all that he does. He is so giving. Sometimes I feel that I am too selfish with my time and energy.
I confess... that I wish I could be more concise in my writing efforts. Once I get my mind focused on the writing project of the moment and my hands hit the keyboard, there is no stopping until I have run out of words to say. I am often surprised that anyone takes the time to read all the way thru my lengthy blog posts... like this one turned out to be! :-)

Love Shouldn't Hurt

It's Write A Letter Wednesday time, and there's something I'd like to say to all you parents out there...

Dear Parents,

This week something happened to a friend of mine that reminded me once again how parenting skills, or the lack of them, are learned behaviors. A parent was frustrated, upset and angry, and lost control... and responded to a child's outburst in a physical way that left a bruise, not only the kind visible to the eye, but also the kind of hurts known only to the heart.

The first things one usually hears in defense of such behaviors is, "well maybe the kid had it coming", or "you can't blame them for being angry", or "I guess I just lost control", or that classic excuse of "that's the only way they know how to react, it's how their parents treated them."

I think most parents, especially those whose children are older, would admit there are times when kids would test the patience of a saint. Parenting is admittedly the toughest job in the world. There are also times when the parent(s) are having a really bad day personally, and bring their bottled up frustrations home with them. What I want you to think about, to remember... is that anytime you find yourself feeling tired, angry or frustrated enough that you have an urge to lash out at your child - either verbally or physically - WALK AWAY!

Take some time to cool down and think it thru. Take a break from the situation and diffuse some of that negative energy. If you have to send the child to their room to keep them safe, or outside in the yard to sit or play for a bit... DO IT! Just whatever you do, DON'T touch your child in anger, and DON'T spew angry words. You will always, ALWAYS regret them when you cool down, and once those things happen, the hurts that they cause leave scars on a child that can last a lifetime.

If your parents did this to you, remember how it felt, especially from the eyes of a child who loves you with all their being and has a limited understanding of your own issues and motivations and why you are so very angry.

We know that abuse is generational. We tend to parent in same way we learned it from our parents, good or bad. BUT... don't you dare use that for an excuse! Someone has to be the one to break the cycle of abuse... to say NOT ME, I will NOT DO THAT TO MY CHILD! If you need counseling or parenting classes to learn other ways to interact with your child... do it! You are investing in something that will benefit you and your child for your entire lifetimes! It is not a crime to admit that you don't have the patience or tools to deal with the difficult moments of raising children. It IS a crime to do nothing about that, to allow yourself to behave as the child, rather than the parent and the one who is supposed to be teaching by example.

You DO have the ability to control your emotions and your behavior... you don't slug your coworkers or your boss if they make you angry. You know better than crossing that line. Draw the line in your relationships at home too, and NEVER, ever let yourself cross it.

Remember too that it isn't just about hurting a child physically. Words can hurt just as much or more. Repeated messages to a child of how bad they are, how worthless they are, how much you wish you didn't have them, how stupid, how homely, fat or clumsy... these messages sear into a child's heart and they grow up wearing these messages and living their lives in accordance with those inherited "truths" about themselves.

It amazes and sickens me to listen to a parent berate their child, young or older, on a daily basis --- "you did this wrong", "you did that wrong", "can't you ever do anything right", "don't you remember anything I tell you", "why are you so stupid", "don't you know anything". I listen and listen for some positive messages to come thru the same channels, and all too often they don't. Children who are raised to believe negative messages about themselves grow up greatly lacking in self-esteem. Low self-esteem is the most crippling disease you can pass on to your child.

I ask that you take a moment each night to thank whatever Higher Power you believe in that these precious children have been entrusted to your care. Think about the things you cherish in each child, what makes them special, in what ways do they shine. Then make sure the first words and last words out of your mouth each morning, each evening, and every time your with them is a message of praise and encouragement. A child who knows they are loved and valued unconditionally will be so much more receptive to your input, advice, and corrective discipline when needed. Talk to your child! Tell them you love them! Tell them about the joy they add to your life!

I leave you with a not so gentle reminder that when you walk out the door to work in the morning, or your child heads out the door to school... there is always a possibility that something unexpected and tragic could happen that would tear you from each other's lives forevert. Do you want the last moments you were together, the last memories you shared to be of harsh words, rough handling, and tears? Would you want to have to live with that? Talk with parents who have lost their children to accident or violence. Ask them how they would choose to spend those final moments with their child, if they knew it was to be their last time together.

Make a promise to yourself and to your child that "I love you" is the most often expressed sentiment in your home and family... and don't just say it... SHOW IT! In return you will reap countless blessings from the bonds of love established, and the strong, self-assured adults your children will become.

If you were hurt by your parents as a child, get help to deal with it. If you have hurt your child in the past, get help to heal those hurts and learn new ways of parenting. Love shouldn't hurt!

Sincerely,

A Mom whose heart breaks every time she witnesses another child's spirit being trampled by parents who should know better.

We Have Kittens!

John came home from work this evening to discover that
Daisy had her kittens sometime today!
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I was getting my nails done.
He sent me pictures announcing their arrival!
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Mama and all six babies are healthy and doing fine!

There's nothing sweeter in the whole world than new babies!

Gratituesday

I've decided to join Lisa's new blog Celebrate Gratituesday that will offer a writing prompt related to gratitude each Tuesday. A thankful heart is a happy heart. Even at the hardest times in our lives, we should be able to find some things to be grateful for, to help us realize that life is still good and worth living. The prompt at Celebrate Gratituesday for this week is "Seven Things I Am Grateful For Today". That should be easy, and it's a great way to start a new month. Why don't you join me in counting your blessings and sharing them as well?!
Today I am grateful for...
Friends who accept me as I am - weirdness and all
Coworkers who rise to the occasion with a little encouragement
My loving husband who is also my very best friend
The wonderful adults my two children have become
A house full of feline furkids who love to snuggle
My circle of blogging friends with whom I can always be real
Living in Texas where winter weather doesn't last long