Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy Parents Make Happy Kids and Very Proud Grandparents!

Over the holidays Steve and I were fortunate enough to have three of our four children here with us. Two of the three are married and each of these couples have two girls. That now makes four more humans in the house; all granddaughters ranging in age of 5 years, twins at about 20 months and the baby who is almost 15 months. A total of 11 people in one home could be challenging.

It could have been total out right chaos! Instead, due to the fact that we have remarkable children (including the one who is still single without a child) who always knew exactly what to do instinctively. These young girls had so much love for one another and they are not physically with each other often due to where they live. 

Thanks to technology and parents who share pictures, FaceTime and videochat, not only with us, but with their children, all felt an immediate ease of being around each other from the get go. There were smiles and hugging and sharing of melted out hearts.

This can't be "taught" at this age except through receiving love and tenderness at home. Children feel how they are treated and emulate this with others. When they feel calmness and peace around them, it gives them a feeling of security and calmness.

Now, will I say that there was never any crying? Heavens, no! Go back up and read the ages that I am talking about. When tears came, there was a reason, such as tired and ready for a nap or perhaps food was in the process of being prepared and they needed a munchie to hold them over. Sometimes just attention. Needless to say when one started crying one or two others felt the need to chime in. 

Not once did a voice have to be raised, nor should it ever. This normally quiet household with two grandparents and a goldendoodle watched in amazement and helped when we could. Luckily, all four girls loved the big puppy and he loved them as well. The fact that he is a 65 pound puppy meant that he had to be kept under control, as to not accidentally knock over a child in his love and excitement. (Except for the five year old... She could tell him what to do and believe me, she did.) If we had her around him everyday, he would not have had to be held around any of the girls. He will get there as he matures.

The other amazing thing about our children is how they pitched in and not only helped each other but helped out the two of us. With both of us getting our strength back from health issues, there was no way that we could cook for everyone. They all came together to cook and to clean. We had the joy of being with the children nearby while they did the preparation, cooking and cleaning.

One more thing that I have not shared yet...two days before Christmas Eve, our refrigerator died. ALL of the food in the freezer and fridge had to be thrown out. Let me add that we had shopped already for everything that we would be needing. 

It was painful to toss out so much food, yet there was no way that I was going to take any chance of food poisoning. We had another refrigerator for drinks out in the garage. Luckily, this is where we stored the ham and turkey. There just was no room to make certain family recipes in advance and then refrigerate them. We managed with a chest freezer and a bit of creativity with a whole lot of teamwork.

I shared with everyone that I had a list of restaurants that were open on Christmas Day if we wanted to get out and go. These precious children said that they would be happy with grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Thankfully, we did not have to go to those extremes, but just knowing this was the thought process of these precious children of ours.

Two very proud parents were most definitely given a very memorable Christmas that had nothing to do with materialistic presents. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Best Gift

The closer it gets to Christmas, I reflect about what exactly makes a grand Christmas. I have seen open ended sentences on Facebook that say, "My wish this Christmas is _______."  As I thought about these two concepts, there is not a one word answer in my mind.

Why? Let me start with the open ended, "My wish this Christmas is ______." Are you ready?

  • Peace on Earth (yes, a typical Miss America answer, but truth)
  • Respect 
  • Love for one another or at the very least a polite tolerance
  • Honesty
  • Empathy
  • Loyalty
  • Humility
  • Compassion
  • Fairness
  • Responsibility
  • Integrity
  • Perseverance
  • Politeness
  • Self-discipline
The top wish could be accomplished if we all had the next thirteen qualities within us all. 

So now to move on to what makes a Grand Christmas. It is true for this family, in that it is a Happy Family all wrapped up in each other. It is the best gift of all and what makes Christmas such a happy time? Steve and I have had Christmases where it is just the two of us in body, however, this does not stop the spirit of being happy and all wrapped up with the rest of our family. Then, we have also had Christmases with almost the whole crew in one place at one time. It is loud, boisterous and fun. It is most definitely a happy time for all of us to be together. We also understand that with four children on two continents and in three states, plus their significant others and our own extended families adding more continents and states, that it will be great when even just some of us can physically get together.

When we can't, which happens, let it be and enjoy the beauty of the spirit of Christmas. With the technology of today, even more can be shared through video chats. 

One Christmas before any of our children were married, we flew two children with us to England, one was already over on business nearby and flew in to meet us and one was already there. We all met up at Steve's mum's small, quaint house. It was a Christmas that none of us will ever forget. The turkey that Angela had purchased from a local butcher barely fit in the tiny oven in the tiny kitchen. We also discovered that she had done away with most all of her dishes, pots and pans, utensils, etc. So out we go to get what we needed to make a very memorable Christmas in England. Definitely, a happy family all wrapped up in one another. This is a part of what happy memories are made of, just not the only way. 

My wish to you is that you have a very special Christmas, whoever you spend it with, just knowing that those who could not make it to be with you, still have you wrapped up in their thoughts, as you do them.

Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho

Friday, December 15, 2017

Do Pets Know That It Is the Holiday Season?

Let me begin with the fact that just like all of us, I also believe that I have a very intelligent pet. First of all, he is a goldendoodle, who are known for their intelligence. My question is to the point: do pets know that it is the holiday season and if so, how?

The picture above is actually our very own Davis, posing by his stocking that has his name engraved on it. He goes over to this stocking ever so often every day and nudges it as if to say, "So when will there be stuff in my stocking?" How does he know something will be in there? He just turned 1 year old, so it is not something that he has ever experienced before.

After doing just a short amount of researching, I found that our pets do get excited at Christmas (and other special days) basically because they are feeling our own excitement of special holidays. We are chatting about the light displays, presents, Christmas carols and shows, tacky, ugly Christmas sweaters, shopping, wrapping presents, Santa Claus, elves and reindeer with our friends and family.

Snow comes into the picture in many parts of the country and certain breeds of dogs get very excited when the flakes start falling. With certain dogs, it brings on a whole new problem as they are having fun in the snow; figuring out how to melt the snowballs from their fur before coming in the house? 

Dogs, it seems may have up to 160 words in their vocabulary to understand. Now, whether they listen all the time, is another whole story. Davis, our dog, has selective hearing when he deems it necessary. It is still delightful to think that he gets excited about the holidays, whatever it is that he understands. He takes the cues that we give out, both verbal and in our body language.

He loves the tree and the baubles, which we keep safely in a room where he is never, ever allowed alone for safety reasons. Davis also adores boxes, and for sure he will be loving whatever will be arriving just for him whether they be special treats or new toys! He is just like a little child, in that he is just as happy with the empty box to play with for a while. 

With all of the people around, he is getting extra quality attention. Lots of loving and petting happening, which is what most dogs thrive on - to be the center of attention. No matter how smart your dog may be, keeping him safe, showing him attention and possibly a new toy or treat will keep him happy always. Let's not just save that for Christmas. 

So to answer my question about whether pets know that it is the holiday season, my response is, "I BELIEVE!"

Monday, December 11, 2017

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to ME! Here it is, not quite 11:30 A.M., and I have already had a marvelous, wonderful day! Our home is being cleaned and tidied up by our super cleaning team, Steve took me out for a quiet and delicious breakfast before I started writing my Monday blog and so many friends have sent me well wishes for a Happy Day! How can one not be so very grateful for these special blessings?

Having a birthday in the month of December seems to just get better and better. Either I have mellowed out or those around me seem to try to make it a special day so that it does not get caught up in the celebration of Christmas. Maybe it is actually a bit of both.

Our family has our share of December birthdays, plus one birthday that is eleven days into the New Year. Lots of celebrating going on around here. Each person gets their special day, with NO Christmas paper - Happy Birthday paper only. It can be overwhelming trying to keep the two separate, however, it is not impossible. 

There is a special benefit when used properly and not too often. When a loved one has a special gift that they may want or need, yet the cost if just too much for either Christmas, much less a birthday makes it easier to combine the two. Mind you, it has to be very, very special. 

Having a birthday during the Christmas sales times is not a bad thing either. One outing that my daughter and I have shared was going out on her birthday, which is just after Christmas for clothes. Most items are 50% off, so you get two for the price of one; double the amount of clothes. 

This year she will be surprised for sure. The only clue given here will be that there are no clothes involved. Why? Because she helps to proof-read my blogs. So 21 days of not knowing what her gift(s) may be will probably do her in. Sorry, Charlie! Hoping that her work and two children will keep her occupied. One can only dream!

As the day moves on, I walk by my Birthday presents and cards waiting for the moment that comes when I can open and give a "Cheers" to my fellow Sagittarian husband. 

Just a heads up to my readers; some Mondays and Fridays in the month of December, as well as New Year's Day may only have a picture with very few words. The CEO of made this wise decision. Kisses and hugs to all and a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year.

Friday, December 8, 2017


Just wanted you all to know that I knew the title of "Kidnapped" would grab your attention. No I was not actually kidnapped, per say. However, Santa did call me in on a temporary basis to help out. What was I to do? We all know how easy it can be to become overwhelmed this time of year. I still sing to myself and outloud, "Let It Snow, Let It Snow"............. No, no no......"Let it Go... the blog will hopefully return on Monday. Thanks for your understanding.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Life Is Not a Problem To Be Solved

As the quote goes: "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced." This was stated by Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher from the 1800's.  I actually borrowed this quote off my husband's Facebook page. It made such perfect sense to me. In my opinion, too many people (me included at times) feel as if life is a problem, or at least presents problems that must be solved when actually life is reality that we all must experience. How we experience it (respond to it) will always be the path that we choose to take in each adventure set before us in life. s
None of us have a crystal ball that will let us know what will be popping up in our lives. The expression that, Life Happens, Stuff Happens or even the more vulgar expression which people put on their cars as decals: Shit Happens is the reality. The question is how will we each respond. A knee-jerk reaction is usually not the way to respond, nor is a long drawn out detailed plan.

We just go happily along our way with our lives and then up pops a roadblock. How I deal with that roadblock is what I am writing about. The optimist in me will not let me stay down about a roadblock for long. Yes, I have my moments of venting and by dang, I am allowed that. We all are. The question is how long are we going to stay on that part of the road and will it start to spiral downwards taking us with it? 

I am much too stubborn for that. I have learned that happiness is a by-product of what I allow in my life. When I focus on this, happiness just occurs. We all must accept the uncertainty of life and instead of fighting it, go with the flow and find where you can gather your peace to be with each new adventure, good or bad. Accept what can't be changed, appreciate what you do have.

Being around supportive people will always help, as well as not being afraid to ask for assistance when needed. Sometimes this is just for them to be a sounding board without being judgmental. Those are the kinds of people that we need to surround ourselves with. 

One of the worst things that I have ever done is to try to compare myself to others and how their lives have turned out. We all have to realize that each person has their own trials and tribulations; some of which we may never know of because we do not walk in their shoes. Appearances are not everything. 

Being ready to celebrate my own successes is so very important, no matter how small, they are MY successes. At the same time, celebrating the success of others is just as important. Always look for the wonder in the little things. Those little things will eventually add up to a BIG thing. It is just a matter of being patient (which is not always that easy for me). I must remind myself to just marinate in the moment instead of overthinking each situation.

For my final words, I would like to say that another hard piece of this reality puzzle is to know when to slow down. Listen to my body. Stop being concerned about what others may think. We all have our own personal life journeys. Where the road goes for some may not lead others down the same path. That is okay. It is my reality and it is for me to experience...all of it...the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

No Time

Every once in a while, the "creeping crud" slips up on us. It did tip toe in from behind me and grabbed hold. I made an executive decision to take the day off and just rest, sleep, drink plenty of fluids and have the chicken noodle soup that my loving husband got for me. Will be back on Monday. I just don't have the time for this, especially during the holiday season. Everyone take good care!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Allow Yourself To Rest

Being nice to others seems to come easier to most of us than being nice to ourselves. It almost seems like we are being selfish if we do something special for ourselves and share what we did with our friends and family. The truth is exactly the opposite. We can become 'tangry.' It is when being tired and angry at the same time happens. This can occur more often than not when we allow ourselves to be sleep deprived. I am using this word from an article that I read by Lisa Van Gemert, called Bringing Napping Back:  A Kindergarten Perspective.

With my background in education, I truly believe that everything we need to know we learn in kindergarten. At least the basics! The rules of life and getting along with others - emotional intelligence, really. This is where the naps come in. Yes, of course when we are infants, our parents put us down for naps throughout the day and slowly wean us from all but an afternoon nap when it is time for us to go off to kindergarten.

Here is where the tricky part comes in to play. We all have different body clocks, therefore the amount of sleep is a bit different for us all. There is a scientific study that gives us guidelines. Most adults need 8 - 10 hours of sleep in order to function on a high performance and productivity level. Children in kindergarten need 10 - 13 hours of sleep. However, legislators are trying more and more to exclude nap times from the classrooms (and I might also add recess times - a future blog?). 

Common sense would tell most people that pounding away at work, work, work without taking breaks is not the smart way to work. Of course, the old adage, that common sense is not very common comes to my mind. Children, as well as adults, first need to take heed and be sure to get enough sleep. This is most definitely the job of the caretakers at home. If this is not allowed in your school, then perhaps parents and teachers together could collaborate for the good of the cause.

We all have heard that there is not enough time in the day to get everything in that needs to be done, both in school and at our jobs. Over-working ourselves is not the answer. Nap times or rest times are a necessity. Recess or break times are just as much a necessity. For highly stressful jobs, mental health days are needed. 

I must admit that I can still be my own worst enemy when I take that afternoon nap. I can think of all the things that I should have done, could have done or that needed to get done and did not. Then, after closing my eyes, breathing slowly and remembering that the world did not come to an end because I did not work on a certain character in my book or the blog did not get published before noon. The house did not come crashing down because the dishwasher was not emptied, the laundry was not washed, dried, hung up or folded, or Christmas decorations did not get put out and about in the house. 

It is true that as we get older, we may notice that our need for rest becomes stronger in order to function at peak performance. I am able to read my body when I do forget and allow myself to be sleep deprived. I must pay closer attention to how I respond to others around me. They aren't responsible for my lack of sleep. Sometimes, it just helps to come out with the truth, so that they are aware of my needs.

Based on a survey from the Pew Research Center, a non partisan fact tank that informs the public about issues and trends shaping America, one third of U.S. adults nap on a typical day. It was also proven that a nap helped all test subjects to remember things better.

Doubting seriously, that all of corporate America is going to allow employees to take off an hour for a nap each day, there still are some basic things that we can do. If you have an hour lunch and are able to munch smaller meals, pre-lunch and post-lunch, then use your lunch time to go out and doze or close your eyes for a while in your car. (Maybe your place of employment has a 'break room' where this could be done?) Think outside the box. Research Google and how they actually have 'Nap Pods' at work.

"The secret to becoming more productive is not managing your time but your energy," so states Michael Hyatt. He joins forces with many other famous, public figures such as Churchill, Edison, Rockefeller, LBJ, Reagan, Kennedy, daVinci, Dali, Clinton, Einstein, Thatcher and Eleanor Roosevelt, just to name a few.

Most of them had consistent guidelines, in that they took their nap basically at the same time each day, noting that it gave them their second wind, heightened their sensory perception, restored their alertness, prevented burnout and the medical profession added that it also reduced the risk of heart disease.

Have you shifted your thinking on nap-taking yet? I will end with another Michael Hyatt quote: "People who nap are not lazy. They might be some of the smartest and most productive people you know."

Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

The day after Thanksgiving, I would like to still wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. After all, we really do celebrate from Thursday through the weekend, basically. We had a quiet non-traditional Thanksgiving on Thursday. We went to the movies for a matinee and then celebrated with a Filet Mignon and flatbread cheese fondue in the evening. Which may or maybe not (probably did) include a bottle of champagne. Delicious. It was the first Thanksgiving that we both sat down to watch the whole Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We decorated a bit and just enjoyed each other's company. 

Today, we will enjoy the company of our daughter and her family for a much more traditional Thanksgiving dinner and celebration. Steve also intends to get Davis over to the Doggie Park, so that he can celebrate as only a puppy can.

Here, I am going to list only a short list of things that I am grateful for:

  • My entire family, from my loving, thoughtful husband to all 4 of our beautiful children and their partners and our special 4 beautiful grandchildren
  • Our special little 63 pound furball
  • The special retirement years that the two of us have planned together
  • Time to have my dreams of writing fulfilled
  • The home that we have put together as a team to make it truly our home
  • Our extended family and friends
  • Positive thoughts and meditation
  • Manicures and Pedicures, Facials and Massages
  • Shanon, our hairdresser
  • Chico's

Just 10  - Hey! What can I say? My list could go to over 100 and I want to enjoy Thanksgiving, just like all of you.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

And the World Goes On

Once upon a time I worked in a school setting. As a child, I went to school and really did not know anything else would possibly be going on other than my world that I was a part of. Staying with that naivete, I decided to go into the field of education. 

Really, it wasn't until I met a very special person who invited me out for lunch on days that I had off and he had to work. The colossal difference was that he was actually allowed to leave the premises, not sign in nor out to go to lunch and could take more than 30 minutes. In fact, he could take time for lunch and then sometimes, we would run into a local store to pick up an item that we needed. Imagine?! Complete an errand in the middle of the day? This blew my mind. It was not the way that my life worked.

Now, I do not want it to sound as if 'they' NEVER let us leave our place of employment. There were in-service days that we were allowed to go out to lunch because there were no students in the building. We were given an hour. Logistics of letting anywhere from 100 - 500 employees out for lunch, giving them one hour to eat and limited restaurants nearby, what are the chances of being back in your seat within the one hour time limit. Sometimes, there was a verbal backlash for slipping in late, or at the very least a raised eyebrow and a disapproving glare.

Interesting, in that I finally learned to try to go to the restaurants that the leaders of the workshops went to so that we would get back at the same time. Just a little trick that usually worked, as long as they went out to eat. Sometimes, they were so dedicated that they packed their lunch and went over their afternoon notes before we returned. (This was not very often, as I believe that they enjoyed getting out almost as much as we did.)

 When the department that was putting on the workshop had the money in their budget, they would have lunch catered so that they avoided the groups coming back in late. I also have to laugh at the 'goody-two-shoes' out there that went to a drive-thru restaurant and brought back their lunch to the workshop to eat. What fun is that? Definitely, I did not fall in that category. Give me the opportunity to escape into the free world for an hour? I am out of there before you can say Jack Robinson.

Since retirement, my husband and I are discovering that we can go out to eat a lunch together and enjoy a (gasp) beer or wine if we desire. Just the other day we were at a Scottish pub. We ordered Fish and Chips and had a pint of Scottish ale (in the middle of the day)! Freedom! Speaking of freedom, I then must share with you that we checked out what matinees we could go see, right then, in the middle of the afternoon. We discovered there were others in the theater and they were not all retirees. I did not interview them to see what kind of work they did. Perhaps they worked nights, or weekends so their days off were during the week.Surely they worked or else won the jackpot because now-a-days going to the movies is not cheap, even a matinee.

My point being is that there is a world out there that keeps going. People are in stores. We have discovered that the stores are so less crowded during the week. We never, ever have to shop on the weekends when there are massive crowds out there. No longer must we wait in long lines. 

Doctor appointments are so easy to make when they don't have to be the first of the day or at the end of the day. We are free to hit the middle of the day. WOW! Same thing with our hairdresser. There is a whole new world out there and we have the power to schedule events in to our plans, not based on any other person's time frame.

For children, they are best kept in the school building getting an education so that they can choose what career they want to work on in their future. All I want to add is that if you do believe your calling is in the field of education, be prepared to give up your freedom of leaving the building during working hours. I suppose there are other jobs that have this mandate, just be aware and prepared. 

There is no such thing as vacation days for a teacher. Everyone knows that they get three months off each June, July and August. The general public does not realize that during June and July there are workshops to attend. School begins for teachers the first week of August where I live, with students arriving the second week. Do the math. Three months? I think not. If a teacher wants to go off-season to the beach or for an overseas trip to see family, then they must use up personal days (2 a year) or lie and use sick days. 

In all fairness, teaching can be so very rewarding, as long as you go into it with full awareness of what you will be facing. I would never discourage anyone from going in the field of education. What I would suggest is to weigh the pros and cons by interviewing others who are in the field (hopefully those who seem to be successful and enjoy their jobs) so that you can determine if it is for you. It just may be the "World For You."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Irrational Fears?

There are many of us who have irrational fears. Just so that you know, it took all I had within me to post these 5 pictures of probably my top five irrational fears. And, these are just pictures. It truly makes me cringe. 

Let me begin by sharing my experiences with these 5 scary critters. Let's just start with the snake. Really, lucky for me at this point, I have not had a real live, totally me alone experience with one or more snakes. However, when moving day came, I was out on the patio with the moving company workers when one of them picked up a large potted plant and a snake came out. He screamed so loudly, that it caused me to scream and all I saw was the end of the snake slithering off away from us. Obviously, this young man was not fond of snakes any more than I was. This was my one and only encounter, probably because I do not tend to put my hands or feet in places where snakes or who knows what could be lurking. (Including the pool filters at clean up time.)

Next, I will move on to cockroaches. As an adult, at one point, I lived in the North as a transplant Southerner. All of my time in the South, I had not encountered roaches in our home or inside buildings. The school that I was working at had these horrible things in a supply closet. When the door was opened they scurried up the walls and across the floor. Never again did I go in the supply closet. I either requested something that I needed or I just went out to buy it myself. Have you ever stepped on one? No way! The custodian went in the closet when she heard my scream and started stomping on them. Oh my! That crunching sound did me in as badly as actually seeing them alive. Also, I was informed that these were not cockroaches, but water bugs. Baloney! Water bugs look somewhat like cockroaches but live in water. There was NO water in that supply closet.

It seems the two places that I have observed roaches the most were in two schools that I have worked, one in the North and one in the South. I quickly learned that in my office in the South, many times no one would be around so I kept a can of Aqua Net Hair Spray in my drawer. When I saw one, I sprayed it until it was in a pool of hard to hold hairspray.  It froze him up. Then I would call the custodian to sweep him away. We were not to have insecticides in the building. This worked so much better in my opinion because not only did it kill the 6 legged nasty things, the room smelled pretty, as well.

Spiders! What can I say? We have a company that comes out to spray for termites and anything else. The technician comes in and sprays the baseboards and for no extra charge, if I see any spiders before his next quarterly visit, all I have to do is call. Believe me, I do. This man is a saint. Why? Because, he never makes fun of my fear of these things. One morning, I woke up to a spider bite on my forehead. It looked horrible and actually, if you look hard enough, you can still see the remains. Concealer works well now. For about three months, nothing concealed it. I sprayed in our bedroom every single night. I had sticky traps all throughout our bedroom. Yes, they would get stuck on the traps. Some little ones, but mostly fairly large wood spiders. So gross!

In our home in Pennsylvania, we had a basement. Almost all homes up there have basements. One time there was a problem with mice getting in the basement. My husband at that time set traps and took care of it. It really was yucky to think about mice in our house, but I consoled myself with the fact that I did not go in the basement. It was a scary place to me anyway. 

Then one morning, I woke up and was making the bed when what did I discover? Along the nightstands on both sides of the bed? Mouse droppings. This was two floors up from the basement. Those horrible creatures were now in my living space. That was the final straw. This is when I knew that I was irrational, and I would do it again. I showed my former husband and he said that he would take care of it with traps. Oh no, no, no! I was not sleeping next to traps going off in the night, much less putting my head down on a pillow where one could run over my pillow and me where I was sleeping. I did what any SANE person would do. I packed my bag and moved into the Holiday Inn until it was proven that the mice had been taken care of, never to return. One child wanted to come with me and one wanted to stay with his Dad. There was no evidence of mice in their rooms, so I agreed to this. It took one full week! I don't know what was done exactly, all I know and all I cared about was the fact that they were now gone and did not seem to be returning. I felt safe.

Now for the big story. It was not until the other day when a friend reminded me of this story. On Facebook, a music teacher posted that a soprano in a New York opera hit a high note that no one had ever hit before. My good friend, replied that she begged to differ because she remembered the day that I had hit that note when a rat from the pipes in the open ceilings above me (open due to remodeling of the school) fell down at my feet, broke its back and was just laying dead two feet from me. 

In record time, I let out a scream that was heard throughout the entire school. I watched as teachers up and down the hallways were poking their heads out of their classroom doors to see what was that sound. I had a walkie-talkie radio and was trying to call the custodian, the office, just anyone at all, however, I was so terrified that nothing I said made any sense at all. In fact, the office could not imagine who got hold of the radio and was making this nonsense talk on it. The front secretary made her way running down the hallway to me and got me in my office and seated. 

Actually, she called the school nurse to come over to help get me calm. To say that I was a basket case would be an understatement. To this day, I remember my neck being massaged, being told to 
breathe in/out slowly. They called the other administrator, who was out of the building at a meeting and his suggestion was to just send me home for the rest of the day. I will say that he shared with me that after having the conversation with the secretary and nurse and realizing that I was going to be okay  -  he began laughing out loud. This of course, made the whole room full of administrators ask what was going on and so the story goes. 

There is karma and I do so strongly believe what goes around will come around. I had no idea that this very large man was terrified of mice. I don't have a problem with anyone being terrified of mice. However, when he was in his office a few months later after my rat incident, I walked in to watch him literally jump straight up in the air to land on his desk to avoid having this one mouse run over his feet. I so wish that I had a camera, but alas, I did not. All I could do was share this story with others, just as he had shared my story. Fair play!

Now, with all of the above irrational fears shared with you, my readers...I will share one more little secret. My novel that I am working on has a few great stories of three women, of three generations, dealing with mice in their new home. Whether or not if you are against or for guns, once you read a part of my book, you will see that there are some people who should not ever be allowed a gun, my dear, wonderful, irrational Mother would be one of them. 

My irrational trait on some things came through the DNA. Luckily, I believe that the symptoms did calm down some because never, ever have I had someone take the phone from my hands to stop me from calling 911 about a mouse in the house. Nor have I held a gun to try to shoot one inside the house. As if she had the shooting ability to hit something that small, even if her hands were not trembling? 

Let's just all be aware that many of us have fears about one thing or another. It has been said that there are two kinds of fears; rational and irrational - or in simple terms, fears that make sense and fears that don't. This definition was taken partly from one of the Lemony Snicket series.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Things I Learned From My Grandparents

Grandparents are very special in a child's life. Every moment of time that one can spend with them becomes even more special. I was very lucky to have one of my Grandmothers through some of my adult years, and even become a very active Great-Grandmother to my son and daughter.

Her husband, my Grandfather, did not get that special time and bonding with my two children before he passed away. I will say this: he was determined to stay on this Earth until my son was born and he was able to see and hold him before he passed. I knew that as soon as it was safe for me to fly with a very young toddler daughter and a new baby son, that we must get on that plane bound for Memphis. That picture of him holding my son is priceless. It was only a couple of months later that we returned for his Memorial service.

My relationship with my Grandparents was very special, indeed. My brother and I grew up with our Mom in my Grandparent's home. As far as I knew, as a child, this was the way it was supposed to be. It surely worked out for us. We always had a loving adult at home with us, while growing up. The three of them worked their schedules out to be sure of that.

Let me start with the fact that yes, it seemed to be a true saying that characteristics/traits seem to skip a generation. I believe that some of it is the fact that our Grandparents are much more tolerant and patient than our parents. Just my take on my own situation. 

My Grandmother was the kindest and most patient person that I have ever known. She was one of the best cooks that I have been around. I watched and learned. When I was old enough, she gave me the little jobs to do, like stirring or reading the directions to her. This was funny in one way, in that my Grandmother never went by directions or measurements. If I asked her how do you make cornbread, she would say that she takes a bit of this and a handful of that, stirs it up, checks to see if it needs another egg or a drip or two of milk or water...
How did she do that?

Before she became too ill to cook any more, I sat with her when she was cooking and wrote some of my guesses of how much of each ingredient that she used while cooking some of my favorite meals. When I was living one thousand miles away and in charge of making a Thanksgiving dinner for 13 family members I pleaded with her to write out her directions of what she did to prepare for such a possible catastrophe. 

How in the world did she magically have all of the food ready to serve at the right time? I still have the autumn leaf stationery that she used to write out specifically what she prepared and did the night before, such as make the cornbread, tear up the bread and slice the onions and celery for it sit overnight with sage and pepper in a big covered dish. Somehow, with all of my years of watching her do this, as well as helping her, and having her write out in her own words of adding a bit of this and a handful of that I pulled it off. Really, much to many of my former in-laws surprise. (and even my own)

Cooking is not the only thing that I learned from my Grandmother. She taught me the importance of always doing, acting, and looking my best. How to shop for upcoming events at all different stores. Sometimes the upscale stores and yes, even the bargain basement stores. There was a time and place for everything.

I watched her interactions with others and how she treated other people with her kindness and generosity. She was the person that attracted other people to her by her warmth and charm. I hope that I learned and have become even half of what she always was to others.

Decorating was another specialty of hers that I watched and learned. None of these things were school learned  -  they were from her own good taste and abilities and willingness to try. There was one thing that she tried to share with me that just did not take. She, nor my Home Economics teacher, could do one thing to help me in sewing. This was sewing by hand with a needle and thread or with a machine. The only thing that I was good for was to thread the needle for her. No problem there. After that, sewing , basting by hand or using a machine was pathetic by the time I finished. If you looked at a row of buttons on a shirt, you would be able to spot the one that had come off and was sewn back on by me. TRUE!

My Mom was just not interested in any of these skills. Maybe that is not totally the truth. She was deep in study with going back to college and building a career so that she would be able to become financially stable to take care of two children. 

As two adults, my Mom and I were like two different peas from basically the same pod. She decided one year that she was going to cook the Thanksgiving meal. I saw disaster red SOS flags going up, especially when she washed the turkey and I caught out of the side of my eye that she had placed the whole turkey in the roasting pan without taking out the neck bone, liver, heart, and any of the other lovely items stuffed in the back end of the turkey. When I pointed this out to her, all I got was a great big, "Ewwwww! You mean that I must put my hand in there?" From that point on, I made the dinner. She wasn't even sure if she ever wanted to eat turkey again and was wondering, I am sure, if there were other foods that had "secrets" going on that she should or should not know about. In all fairness, she could scramble up some mean eggs and grill some fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches. 

My Grandmother had the softest skin ever, even as she aged. She talked to me about the importance of a good moisturizer in order to stay young looking. Of course, it did not hurt that she never gave out her real age, not even to my Grandfather. I caught on to that trick very easily. I even confuse myself on what exactly is my real age? My make up counter is full of all different kinds of moisturizers which I use generously.

When I had grandchildren of my own, and even with my own two children, I had a skill that I learned from my Grandmother; telling a story at bedtime or making up words to a lullaby while rocking an infant to sleep. Usually it mesmerized them. I loved having a book read to me, however, there was something so powerful to be able to close my eyes, hear my Grandmother's soft voice telling me a story. It could be a made up story or Goldilocks and the Three Bears told over and over again. 

On the other hand, there was my Grandfather. Most definitely, in dealing with his grandchildren, he had such a gentle way of teaching us. Being a Supervisor at a large Industrial plant, this was not his way at work to handle certain workers. I had witnessed that once or twice when in the car with him when he had to stop by to handle a work problem. 

Definitely, at home, teaching his skills was gender based. Not that he meant for it to be, it was just that I had not one single interest of learning how to make a motor run or what all of his amazing tools would do. My brother did and he learned well from a master of all trades. 

The one thing that I learned early is to not ever ask for too much because if I had asked for the Moon, my Grandfather would have found a way to get it for me in his own way. Some kids on my block had their store bought skateboards or pair of stilts. Not me! I had handcrafted toys. They meant so much to me. My only wish would be that I still had them. I have no idea what happened to them. I am sure that they were tossed as as outgrew them. What a pity!

Having tea parties with my Grandmother gave me my creativity in make-believe. After all, I had make-believe friends when I was little and now, as a writer, I still have make-believe friends. I just hope that my Grandchildren will remember something special that this Grandmother taught to them. 

My husband has a huge love of books, jokes and music. Speaking for him, I know that this is something that he would love to be passed on to all of our grandchildren and one way that he would love to be remembered for teaching.

We all have our special talents to share. Grandchildren are there to share these talents with so that they will grow up and think back on their time with us.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Full Moons and Such

After years of working with children in a school setting, I have always been under the belief that the whole school building went a bit squirrely when there was a full moon. Ask any teacher and I would be willing to bet 99% would agree. The same thing goes for police officers and workers in emergency rooms of hospitals.

The truth is, this simply can't be proven. Scientists have tried in many ways to prove or disprove this theory. The fact is that we all are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in buying into this notion. The one common denominator is that humans do, as a whole, get a few minutes less sleep on full moon nights. Why? Perhaps because it is brighter or just the fact that we are aware of it. 

It may be easier to understand where scientists are coming from when they want to sweep this unproven fact under the rug if we look at some other superstitions that are out there:

  • you landed the job that you wanted because you wore your lucky shoes (do you think maybe it was not the shoes but your confidence and knowledge that helped you land the job?) 
  • you had a black cat walk in front of you and later that day you were involved in an accident (do you think that maybe you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe you or the other person were not paying close attention instead of the cat causing the accident?)
  • you were walking down the sidewalk and found yourself having to walk under a ladder to get by only to discover later that you had a ticket on your car (do you believe that the police officer watched who walked under the ladder and ran off to issue a ticket on that owner's car or maybe you did park illegally?)
Actually, we all need to bust out of our thought processing of good luck vs bad luck. There are way too many variables that are mixed in the pot of luck.
Because one thing happened to us when there was a full moon, a black cat or a ladder, it is now in our sub-conscious that this means bad luck. It is our perception, which becomes our reality.

The full moon was popularized by the myth of the werewolf. The word lunatic, according to scientists has nothing to do with the lunar effect. There is no proven correlation between human behavior and the full moon, only miniscule data at best. Even so, there are some statistics that I found from the scientist, Dr. Karl, stating that 40% of the general public and 80% of health professionals/teachers/ believe the full moon does indeed have an effect on human behavior.

When I was still working in a school, I did my own little study. I must say that on full moon days, for the most part, I had a few more discipline issues to deal with in my office. However, with the help of technology, I was able to easily graph the number of discipline issues on any given day and there were days that were higher than full moon days and there were sometimes full moon days that were much lower than other days. Oh comes back to those variables...
  • Was it full moon on Halloween?
  • Are the children on a sugar high?
  • Did we as the staff get enough sleep?
  • Are our tolerance levels lowered because we are aware there is a full moon?
...and the list goes on. Perhaps we should consider that a full moon is both illusive and mysterious, who doesn't like a little mystery in life?