Sunday, December 30, 2018

Speaking of Food Choices

There are easy ways and there are hard ways to do just about anything. Work smarter, not harder is something we all want to strive to do. After writing last week's blog on Food Choices and how eating low carbs/higher in fats was working for so many people that I know, including me, I took the hard way over Christmas.

Thank goodness it was just that one day. I truly went in with good intentions, as most of us do. There were loads of good choices for me to make, however, I decided that having a little taste of each high carb would not hurt me. 

So far, it has not hurt me on the scales. Possibly slowed progress a little, but at least the numbers did not go up. That is the only good news. Why?  Because I can't tell you how miserable that I felt after eating it.

Possibly some emotional misery was there, but I am really talking physical misery. My whole body felt awful. Lethargic, nausea, headache, irritable, brain fog, and most definitely sugar cravings that gone away. Going from very low carb eating to what I chose to do was not a good thing to do. 

There were plenty of good choices for me to make. All the ham and turkey that I wanted, including the zero carb turkey gravy. However, the tablespoon of mashed potatoes, tablespoon of cheese grits, tablespoon (okay, 2 TBSP) of cornbread dressing, tablespoon of sweet potato casserole and one Parker House roll. Let's not forget the one English roast potato. What was I thinking? Answer:  I was NOT thinking. 

If I had been thinking, I would have made a low carb friendly zucchini parmesan fries in the oven and made one choice of something above. But no! I had to have a little of it all. I must say that it took my body three whole days to get over the shock. Today is the first day that I can say, "I am me again!" 

Can I truthfully say that it was worth it? No, I can't. I could have made smoked deviled eggs. Could have, should have, would have! Lots of naysayers will come up with the saying of, "Oh well, you only live once." And I am here to say that getting my body to crave what is good for me to stay feeling healthy is living and I want to live long. 

There is no need to feel like you are the Grinch at the Family Christmas Dinner. Even on this Feast Menu there were some excellent choices for me. Others who can afford to eat whatever they want is just great for them. I know what I need for me. It is a matter of being kinder to myself and considering what my body needs along with everyone else's needs.

This is my plan and I am sticking to it. Does it mean that I can go a bit higher on some days? Yes, of course. Just not hog wild which is what I call my behavior on our family get together. Not so much the amount that was on my plate, as it was to the macronutrients that were so out of balance to what I normally eat.

Most definitely, I have learned my lesson. I am thinking that I won't forget it. Always, I can come back to this blog and read how I felt or look at that specific day in my journal and the days following. There is something to say about pen to paper. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Food Choices

For everyone around the world, there are so many choices to make about what we eat, when we eat, why are we eating, and where we are eating. Most of us do not actually stop and think about it. For me, I have come to the conclusion that this is part of my challenge.

Well, at least I know that I did not. This was a big revelation for me. Until, the time came for me to work harder on losing weight, it never occurred to me. The one thing that I do know is that I must stop using the "D" word. Simply knowing what and why I am making the food choices that I make is the secret for me. Not being on a "diet."

First of all, I know that I won't follow a program if it is complex. What is complicated for me, may work for another person. All is good! We all have our preferences. I have learned that more and more people all around me were losing weight by taking away high carbohydrates from their diets. Let me break that down for you just in case you were like me and did not know about trying to follow a low carb program. 

It simply means that there are no potatoes, breads, sugars, pasta, and most fruits and veggies. Notice that I did highlight the word simply. The first time that I heard that, I just skipped on to something else. It was not going to work for me, a person who loves bread, adores potatoes and pasta dishes. No way!

So for me, in my mindset, it would not work. Weight Watchers was just too complicated in keeping up with all of those points. I was trying to use an app program that as long as I put in my foods, it kept my calorie count. Sometimes, my calories had been used by 2 p.m. and I was still hungry. (Basically, because what I was eating was high in carbs). I even tried a very expensive nationwide program that worked quickly in the beginning. Then the weight plateau happened and I began having severe sharp pains in my head, as if I had been zapped with an electric wand. Turned out that I was consuming too much aspartame and this affected my nervous system. My doctor said to get off this program and see if it stops. It did. Almost immediately. 

If counting calories by me and exercising did not really work for me then what would? 

At least a dozen different people were answering the questions of many friends about their weight loss. The answer was always the same. They gave up high carb foods. They tried to stay in the 20 - 30 net carb range per day. I sort of had my doubts, no, let me be perfectly honest. It was more than just doubting, however, since I had not at least tried it, I could not justify that this way of eating would or would not work for me. Change can be a good thing.

Researching low carb and keto programs became my focus until I felt comfortable going for it. The keto way was just a bit much for me. It turns out that you can go and get a meter at the drug store to check your blood to be sure that your body is in ketosis. If not, then you must cut more carbs out. Diabetics must do this. After researching more and having a friend who was losing weight in a good way tell me to watch a YouTube video with Bob Briggs called, Butter Makes Your Pants Fall Off.

I did and I learned so much about foods to avoid and why. What impressed me the most is that he was not trying to sell anything. He had nothing to sell. Turned out that he had a few homemade videos that showed some recipes that anyone could make. I even googled other low carb recipes, as well as what would be good to have in our refrigerator and pantry. 

There are very few restaurants that we can't go to and order low carb meals. Most will substitute any item that you can't eat such as a potato or rice. They will hold the bun so that you can eat a delicious burger with all the mayonnaise and mustard that you want, along with cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato even with some avocado and topped with an egg if you want. 

There are many things about this program that I do not understand; such as why blood pressure does not go through the roof or cholesterol. In one of the videos, it explains that people with the pear shape (big in the middle) are usually insulin resistant. It seems the answer is that their body does not burn fat the same way that other bodies do. It certainly explains the thin people walking around eating anything they like, yet never gaining a single pound. While others can lower their calorie intake and still have trouble. A la me!

I did ask my doctor about low carb/high fat programs and he said that it seems to work for a lot of people and he has not seen any negative side effects. I started slowly to read more and more about what is good and how to go about it all. It took me a while to not grab the low calorie foods, as in salad dressings, mayonnaise, cheeses, milk, etc. In fact, a lot of our cooking now is done with heavy cream, real butter, meats, certain vegetables and fruits, natural peanut butter, snacks of nuts...who knew?

There is an app for my phone that is called CarbManager that helps keep the percents of low carbs, higher fats and proteins. That helps me tremendously. The biggest surprise of all is just how much better I feel. No more Tums, blood pressure has never been a problem and my last check of cholesterol was down. 

The best thing of all is that we can remain eating this way. When something very special comes up, we can have some of it. For example, High Tea at The Peabody is a three course meal. Starts with three tiers of little finger sandwiches. Then a hot freshly baked blueberry scone with clotted cream and butter, and last, a three tier serving of small size desserts. NO one is going to say no to this. We simply watched what we ate the day before and the following days. Just staying on the lower side of net carbs. It worked.

Both of us are losing weight and inches. Both of us are feeling good and have more energy than before. Steve's doctor continues to take away meds that he no longer needs. 

All I can say is that it works for us. This is not something that one just goes back to eating anything and everything when the weight is off. There will come a time that when we decide that we want to splurge and have pizza, then by gosh we will. We both know that our bodies do not break down the sugars in the carbs the way some other bodies do, therefore, once we are where we are happy with our body shapes, we will continue eating healthy. It is a fact that we will be able to keep the weight off by eating the healthy way for our own bodies.

If this strikes a chord within you, please take the time to hear out Bob Briggs on some of his YouTube videos. The most unbelievable thing is that the above picture is on YouTube and there really is a song called this. Some guys from England watched Bob's videos and wrote this song. It is priceless. Enjoy! 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

BEWARE of the Word 'Instant' in Instant Pot

Normally, I am a very happy and carefree chef. Willing to try new recipes and new methods of cooking...this is why I finally caved in and asked for an Instant Pot. I figured it was better to be late than never. All I ever heard was how wonderful they are. They seemed to have an almost cult like following. Then, more and more low carb recipes were coming out with using the Instant Pot appliance. I got hooked and pulled in.

The Instant Pot went on my Wish List. You know the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for?" Well, after opening up the box and looking at the very non-user friendly Instructional Manual, I was most definitely feeling this way. What have I done? By what I was reading, I was becoming more afraid of using it. So much information and being a newbie, so much of it did not make sense.

Before actually cooking something, the manual suggesed trying something out with just water and letting it vent. Even these instructions did not mention that the user can't switch the button from sealed to vent. It just automatically is there. The user can easily break the button that clicks to vent but remains without clicking on sealed. You just learn this by doing and experimenting. 

The more I read about cooking with this pot, some things became very apparent. Even though people will tell you, and not just the advertising and marketing people for the product, that this magic pot can cook meals in minutes! I am here to tell you that this is far from the truth. 

It is just my husband and I, not a family of 4 or 5, however, we would like to get used to moving our dinner time up so that we are not so late in finally eating. That was the thought that kept going through my mind. The word "instant" is so misleading. There is some validity to the fact that the Instant Pot is basically a slow cooker on steroids. The Instant Pot does have a "Slow Cooker" button to push. In fact, it has so many buttons to push that it made my head spin. 

The one button that mine does not have is one labeled, "Manual." It does have, "Rice, Saute, Delay Start, Soups/Broths, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Multigrain, Porridge, Steam, Yogurt, Pressure Cook, Keep Warm, and Cancel."  All of this along with a button with a "- and a +." I also see the words low pressure and high pressure plus less, normal and more but they do not have buttons. Then there is the LED lights with the number of minutes or Off, On or Warm that pop up when plugged in. 

Even though I read that I can make a meal with minimal babysitting of the pot by using it and just walking away, this is not quite true. For me, it is going to take a lot of practicing before I can do this. My bubble has already been burst in that there will be no dinners made in minutes. The truth that is left out is that it takes at least 10 - 20 minutes for the Pot to heat up and come to pressure depending on how much food is in it. Then the food has to cook and releasing the pressure from the pot which is another 15 - 20 minutes. Most all of the recipes that I have found do not include the pre and post times in the instructions.  So that means at least doubling the cooking time. 

A good thing is that if you forgot to take something out of the freezer, you can put the whole frozen roast or chicken right in the pot. No more quick defrost in your microwave is necessary. It does mean being careful because the meats can look done but the inside is not cooked to the proper temperature. Thermometers are needed to be safe. The other problem is there can be venting issues and sealing issues, so much so that depending on what you are making, liquids can come spewing up out of the steam vent forcefully enough to hit the ceiling. Therefore, I continue to read the instruction manual over and over again and again. 

One review that I read after trying my hand at using the Pot had all positives and only one negative which was that it took a long time to release pressure naturally. This same reviewer said that the experts that they asked all agreed that it was easy to use and the settings were simply intuitive along with how clear the owner's manual was. Okay then, there you have it. At least I know that I am the slow kid in the class. 

With that being said, the last google search that I found had the most common mistakes of using an Instant Pot:

  • Forgetting to place the inner pot back into the Instant Pot before pouring in ingredients. 
  • Overfilling the Instant Pot past the Max line.
  • Using hot liquid when the recipe calls for cold liquid.
  • Putting the Instant Pot on the stovetop.

Even I could work my way through not making these mistakes. However the ones that scared me were:

  • Forgetting to turn the venting knob to sealing position.
  • Forgetting to put the sealing ring back in the lid before cooking.
  • Turning the venting slowly releasing pressure. No where did I see that having silicone gloves is best for this because cloth ones would still allow you to get burned. 
Last night we made our first meal together using this contraption. It was Salsa Chicken. I must say that the outcome was delicious. The procedure of getting the end results were so very frustrating. Someone told me that it is worth every penny and that it is a labor of love to learn but once it is learned, it is a very wonderful appliance. This has yet to be proven by me. Perhaps we will try one recipe a week and take it from there. I did find a tried and true recipe for hard boiled eggs. Cooks them set on 2 minutes and a natural pressure release of 10 minutes and then put in ice cold water. Supposedly, the magic happens when you start the peeling process. Never a problem to peel your hard boiled eggs again. 
Maybe this is just me venting, but WOW, do I feel better!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Overcoming the Fear of Writing

For me, as a writer, I believe that I have a deep, dark fear somewhere in me about writing. Never have I ever felt that it is not a FUN thing to do. It is when I am at my highest floor on my mood elevator. The fear of writing that plays inside my head is that it will not be good enough. 

There is one thing that I have learned as a writer, which is that there is no one right way to go about it. Each writer must find what works for themselves. Sometimes I worry that I change the way that I enjoy writing too often. There are times that I love putting pen to paper. Words seem to flow effortlessly that way. Then, my mind changes and I go back to my computer. It is a bit of a challenge because I prefer my novel to be in one style or another. I suppose that I should be happy that I do not have an old fashioned typewriter, although I have dreams of using one. Also, it is good that I am aware that I am just too messy to use a real fountain pen that is dipped in the ink. If so, then I would have other styles to pull into one common thread.

After writing out a whole chapter by hand, eventually, I must go back and type it out. It sort of, kind of works for me in that it is a start of a first edit. The other positive side is that it helps me to see the timing of events that I am writing about. I was able to correct a major problem with my timing by doing this which helps correct problems that would pop up in later chapters and cause major editing issues.

Even Stephen King knows that the fear must be tossed to the side. Just write! Almost every single author will tell other writers to just write. I was doing that. Writing some every day. Only one person have I given some chapters to read and critique. I believe that he was honest and not totally biased. He had some very good ideas to tidy up and fix. This person happens to be my husband who is also writing. Plus, he serves as my marketing representative and has helped in getting me off to a good start.

Next, a good friend suggested a Writers' Workshop that was local. I decided to bite the bullet and go. Not knowing that once registered, the author, Susan Cushman, who would be leading the workshop, asked if we would like, we could send her up to 15 pages for her to critique.

I was a little leery and could feel the insecurity of my writing slipping in to my thoughts. It was important that I got a handle on this fear simply by thinking in a common sense fashion. I am a writer. I write because I love it and hopefully others will want to read what I write. It was a good thing that I managed to get control of my fear because she sent out all of the manuscripts that were sent to her to all of the participants. 

This was my mantra. Keep calm and write! And so I did. 

This really got me motivated to stop the worrying that my writing was not good enough. During the day-long workshop, we all talked about each other's submissions. It helped to have a "cheat sheet" for those of us who were amateurs in critiquing another's writing. We were not the grammar police or spell checkers. Simply helping the writer know how strong the character seemed or the plot of the story was powerful. We knew we were not suppose to be gooey, sugary, or sappy. Be positive where it was a strong point. As a former educator, I was very excited that everyone in the room offered positives to all of the submissions. When something needed worked on, it would be a suggestion, such as, "Have you thought about having more dialogue, versus telling about it?"

This was so helpful for me, and I am believing that it was for everyone else who attended. Truly, I felt spurred on and that had me go back and put some suggestions in what I had already written so that I would be starting back on my ending chapters in the same kind of voice. 

As far as being fearful of sending off queries to be published in the near future, I am going to hang this near my desk, in case I slip back now and then:


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Think Big!

Maybe it is the holiday season, maybe it is just me? Not sure. However, what I am sure of it is that I am needing a reboot to get more motivation and stop procrastinating. As a writer, I am writing every single day. This is the good news. The bad news, at least in my own mindset, is that it is not always totally focused on my novel. 

In order to accomplish this I had to reboot my focus. Instead of saying that I should be working on my novel, which is more or less a guilt feeling for me. Change the I should to I could be working on my
novel now. This is like giving me a choice. Not a command. 

I really do love a challenge. All through my working years, I went on to the next level in order to challenge myself and to step outside of my comfort zone. l truly do embrace change. 

As I was pondering these thoughts, it came to me that I needed to get certain phrases in my mindset. Some of my positive quotes were actually coming to be a very important part of my everyday life in getting me rebooted to work on my novel in a timely way. 

The first one was to discover what I love to do and just do it. The question to ask yourself is would you do this job if you were not paid simply because you love it. And, I can answer, "DUH!" I am not paid a penny to write. Yet! Would I want to continue? Hell, yes! I am not writing for the money. I am writing because it is a part of me and I love it. It may or may not be taking me to the road of success. How do you define success? Wealth? Power? Making a positive contribution to the universe? I feel the road to success for me is what makes me happy. Simple? Maybe. Yet it is what I am, in some respects. I believe the creative arts such as writers, musicians, and artists are in this category of being passionate about their work. It is all about the "starving artists." Which luckily is not me. At least not yet!

The important thing is for me to continue to, "THINK BIG." Setting my goals high is more important than to set them low and reach them. It is imperative to reach for the stars while keeping my feet on the ground. With that being said, it is also okay to fail. Don't be afraid of failure.  As Henry Ford stated, 
"Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again. This time more intelligently."

My mindset has to be one of action. Not to just sit back and let things happen by chance. Make things happen. I can do that. Keeping a positive mental attitude helps in going forward. It really is the only way to kick it into action. Believing in yourself and what you can do is half the battle.

As a writer, I do know that when I start sending out my manuscripts to agents and/or publishers, that I will get many rejection letters. What helps me in this area is reading about J.K. Rowling and Stephen King. In interviews they talked about how many rejection letters they received before being accepted. I imagine those publishers could kick themselves now. Too bad, so sad!

Sitting back and reflecting on how this process of writing a novel is going for me, I must always remember to follow my intuition. Going to a Writers' Workshop led by a wonderful author helped me tremendously. It gave me a whole new energy to throw myself wholeheartedly into my writing. My intuition tells me that this novel will be finished when I am happy with it. Me first! Then it can be put out there to others.

As of yet, I have not decided on going with an agent or not. Perhaps even publishing it myself on Amazon? The best thing about this whole process is that I am doing what I love and am taking control of what I believe in...ME!

Steve Goodier

Monday, November 26, 2018

Gifts and the Giving

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, many of us are moving into the Christmas mode. It may be the Hanukkah mode, depending on what your family celebrates, none the less, it is a time for giving. Giving is done out of the kindness of our hearts.  
Kindness is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon another. True kindness lies within the act of giving without the expectation of something in return.

For me, I love thinking back on the times when I was in school and there was a Santa's Workshop. All of the elementary students could go in with their money, usually 50 cents to one dollar per gift and choose the gift for their parents or grandparents or siblings. Trust me, they were pretty much all junk, but as a kid, we did not know that. It was the joy of choosing the gift, buying it ourselves and wrapping it with love. Then on Christmas morning seeing the smiles on the recipients faces. Gifts from our children are priceless.

This is the time to remember that love is the greatest gift of and effort, no matter the cost. Now that I am an adult, there is no real Santa Workshop, so to speak. There is, department stores, specialty stores, etc. All wanting your money, money, money! 

There is a way to be generous without breaking the bank, taking out a loan, maxing out credit cards or taking another job. The trick for me is to make a list of the people I wish to buy for and putting a limit on what I can afford. It means to start small. Really, it is not the cost of the gift, it is the gesture and nature of giving. 

Sometimes, it may mean cutting out one of my own expenses. Such as starting early in order to review my own budget to see what I can live without. It may be a specialty coffee from Starbucks, or a weekly manicure that I could do myself, or dropping unnecessary phone or cable expenses. Where there is a will, there is a way. 

Making a special coupon book to give to someone is not just for children. With all that is available on line, even I (Ms. Not Tech Savvy) could manage making a creative one of color and special effect fonts and clip art. For an older loved one there could be coupons for a ride to their doctor's appointment. For a young parent a coupon to babysit for them to have a night out or a day out shopping and lunch. If you listen closely to your conversations with loved ones, you can pick up on some good ideas of things that really don't cost money, just a little time on your part to fulfill their wish.

Speaking of wishes, remember getting the sales ads in the paper or catalogs in the mail?  As children, my brother and I would go through them and circle what we liked and wanted. Then, we could write a letter to Santa and even go visit him to tell him personally. 

I must admit that my list could be quite long. Luckily, my mom taught me that I needed to be choosy. There were lots of boys and girls for Santa to visit and everyone could not have everything on their lists.     
The greatest gift of all is LOVE. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Bring up the word THANKSGIVING and for most people the first thing that pops into their minds would be the Thanksgiving feast. Whether your family goes traditional turkey and/or ham or something a little unique. It is about the food and the family. 
These are very appropriate thoughts and most definitely this is what is swirling around in my head, also. We love hosting our children, all who are able to come. The more, the merrier, however...there have been times when on a holiday, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas that it has been just the two of us. This is the time that we can honestly say it gives us time to reflect on each other. Not a time to be sad. Our children have their lives and when they are able to share with us, we are so very grateful. 

I have actually heard others say how sad and disappointed and sometimes downright upset that their children are not coming to them for the holiday. Preaching time coming - pick yourselves up and move on so that your children can move on. Remember that if your child has a significant other, they have another side of "the family" to see, depending on where everyone lives. It is not always an easy task so my belief is to let them see what works out for them and go with the flow. 

If you see that big feast at the top of this blog, and if you are like so many people who are trying to lose weight, it seems almost impossible. Trust me, it is possible.
 For my husband and me, we are trying to go the low-carb way of dieting. Clothes are getting larger and inches and pounds are going away in a timely manner. It was a mindset for me to get to this point. Me? The one who loves bread, pasta and potatoes? Do without?  Say it isn't so! The mindset was seeing the results on other people that I knew personally and thinking that this just might work.
Thinking of food in a whole new way helps. We love to cook so this is helping us become creative in our cooking. It is not so much what we can't have, as look at all the things we can have. There are times that we must be selective in what we decide to eat. For example, we visited my brother and sister-in-law and did not mention that we were on this low carb program. We brought some foods with us that travel well and we figured we would just go with whatever we can without being guests that have special needs that are not life threatening.

For me, I had been on a plateau, which happens ever so often. While eating on this 3 day trip, some things that took me over my 20-30 net carb day, I thought that I would really have to get back to my program and stick closer to 20 than 30 to regain the momentum. To my surprise, by going off some (not crazy or wild) I actually dropped 2 pounds. A doctor once told me that sometimes we have to trick our bodies. It is as if our body decides that if this is what you are going to give me, then this is what I will live on and maintain.

My discovery is that every once in a while you must have a day thrown in where you are a little higher in carbs, as long as you can get back with the program and be happy. It is not a treat, it is not a reward, it is not comfort. It is called LIFE. There are times that by having a healthy celebration, I feel that it is a motivation for me to get back to my:

I just won't be a 

about it. Moderation! Time for celebration and counting things that I am grateful for, not calories or carbs. There will be plenty of time for that.

Thanksgiving Riddle:  Why didn't the turkey eat dessert?  He was already stuffed!  

Monday, November 12, 2018

Precious Grandchildren

We are so blessed to have 4 granddaughters, each one of them is so very special in our hearts. The twins, Emma and Hazel, are in New Orleans so we unfortunately do not get to see them as much. When we do, it is all day, every day while we are down in New Orleans or they are up here in Memphis. 
Our other two granddaughters are much closer in distance, so that we get to see them more often, still not ever enough though! Busy lives of one in first grade, dance classes, their parents work schedules...we do manage to eek out some time that is so magical to us.
The picture at the top is our eldest granddaughter when we celebrated Grandparents Day with her in her classroom. The picture above is of Skylar, our youngest granddaughter, who just recently turned two. When she woke up on her birthday, her parents had balloons fall from the ceiling when she opened her bedroom door! 

Today, my blog is focused on Bailey. We were asked if we could take Bailey to school and pick her up for the three days that our daughter would be out of town for a workshop. Of course, this was a no-brainer for us. The opportunity to have a grandchild with us for three days? WOW! 

It most definitely brought back the memories of just how a Mom's day flows. 6 AM, up and at 'em. Dress, fixing that long, ever so curly hair without pulling and hurting, eating breakfast, remembering to get everything packed in the backpack and out the door. I must say that one of the most challenging parts of the whole time that she was here was that dang car seat. Our car seat belts in the rear are unique in that each of the three seat belts only click into one particular spot. The booster seat is on that spot. This required a contortionist to click. Hey! Smiley did it with lots of perseverance.

Quiet during the day, because the girls other grandmother took off from work to keep Skylar. So we each had a granddaughter to care for. Dad could not, in case you are wondering, due to working night shift hours and sleeping in the day. 

Once it was time to pick Bailey up from school, the merry-go-round of activity began. On the first day of pick up, we held the car rider pick up lane hostage, so to speak, in that no car is to pass another car. We were working furiously to get the seat belt clicked in. I was making a mental note that the next days, we would park and walk over to get her so that we did not hold anyone up in the line. 

The drive home was always quite entertaining just to hear Bailey's explanation of what happened during the day. She is so expressive in her tales. I was pre-warned that because she had CLUE classes and missed 2 1/2 hours of instruction in the regular classroom, she would have extra homework. And yes, for this night she did.

Once in the door, she was given a snack and was able to sit down with Smiley to watch about 15 minutes of TV, while I sorted out classwork, papers to go home to her Momma, and homework. We worked through them most of the papers, even with her grazing on goldfish crackers and carrots. Thank goodness Smiley was cooking. 

Once dinner was ready, we moved the work over to the side of the table and just enjoyed conversation while eating our dinner. I really did not think that she would eat that much. She ate the whole container of macaroni and cheese and a Better Cheddar sausage. And in her words, "Hold the condiments, please!" 

At this stage, she really was ready to just enjoy the rest of her evening with us playing, however, we had to get back to her homework. She was a real champ about it. I know that her Momma gets her moving on it, so Bailey knew that I was well aware of the way she had to complete her work first.

We left two math problems on line, go until the next night, because for the most part the only other homework would be to study for her spelling test and to practice sentences to determine if they were commands or statements plus a test on when to use 's. There was no problem with me helping on everything except the math. Oh my word! If any of you are parents you must be pulling out your hair. No longer is it 13 - 8 = 5.  There must be a story problem to read, then it must be illustrated by drawing out in circles ten at a time (10 with a space between and 3 more). Cross out 8 circles and then count what is left. 

In case you think that the problem is finished now? Wrong. Now you make the problem the way that we did when in school which is 13-8 = 5. Still you are not finished. The child must write out the problem in words. Example: there were 13 seashells and 8 of them washed away so now there are 5 seashells left.

Ta-dah! You have completed one math problem. I am so thankful that I had my 6 year old granddaughter teach me how to do math. Good golly, Ms. Molly!

Now, it is 6:50. We put everything away for tomorrow and headed for the bath. A quick bath, combing of the hair and finally our sweetie-pie could chill with us. We watched part of a TV show on the Disney channel while she ate a small dish of ice cream. 

That time flew by. Now on to bed and reading time.
First she brushed those teeth and was shocked to see that we had no 3 minute timer in the bathroom. So I counted the time off for her to complete her brushing. Finally, she picked out a book and read to me. She was getting tired toward the end so she asked if I would finish it and I loved that she asked me. 

When we finished, she turned on her unicorn night lamp, told Alexa to set the alarm for 6 AM and then to play her sleepy time music. Lucky for me, soft sounds do not bother me when I sleep. Smiley was sleeping out on the sofa, although we have two great beds upstairs, I think that he wanted to be downstairs with us. I stayed with for a bit and told her that I would be back after I made her lunch and got everything ready. Of course by then she was in la-la dream land. She did get to talk to her Momma on the drive home and then again right before lights out. 

6 AM came and the process started all over again. The main thing that I want to convey is that this is why we have children when we are young. Oh my! It is so easy to forget exactly how much energy and planning go into young children, cooking dinner and doing homework, bath routines, etc. all add up to. I do not know how our daughter does it all plus her full time job as a Certified Behavior Analyst and her teaching English to children in China on line at 4:30-5:30 in the morning due to the time zone difference. Then again, we know that we have an amazing daughter, for sure! 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Lowe Down on Buying a Dishwasher

As homeowners, we know that appliances need to be replaced now and then. It is a given! Our dishwasher finally came to the end of its life. So off we go to a large DIY store that carries everything for your home, including a large selection of appliances. 

We had a chance to look around, because there did not seem to be a sales person available. We actually talked with another customer on what he had just purchased and he gave us all of the pluses this particular model had. Apparently, the sales clerk was off checking on something for this customer. I can only assume that they only had one clerk in this department, perhaps due to downsizing? 

Once this young sales associate talked with us, he was very personable, helpful and professional. He did not try to take our choice up to the most expensive model or change our minds. He verified all that we had been told by the customer that he was helping before us. It then took us another thirty minutes to fill out all of the paperwork to purchase our new dishwasher. 

He went to the back of the store only to return to tell us that there were no more in stock at this store. One would be ordered for us to come in from some other store. Once it was delivered, the installer would call us to set up a day and time. Because it was Wednesday morning, it would not be arriving for the installer to call us to set up the installation day until Monday. Exactly how long does it take to pick up a dishwasher at one store and deliver it to another store? I was told they did not work weekends. But still, this was Wednesday morning!

I am not sure that I bought that, but really we had no choice. Monday came and the installer called us. Not with the news that we wanted to hear though. He said that it has always been his practice to open the box before he loads up to deliver to check for any damages and sure 'nuff he found them. He told the store that he refused to take the damaged dishwasher to any customer. The installer apologized to us profusely. 

Next step, order another dishwasher. We were patient until we were told that it would be the next Monday before an installer would call us. We already have waited 6 days, now it will be 13 days since we bought our dishwasher before an installer calls us. The days seemed to pass so slowly. Dishpan hands were starting to set in! There always seemed to be dishes out which is a big pet peeve for both of us.

What I am about to share with you may seem unbelievable, yet I am here to tell you, it is true. What are the chances of the same thing happening all over again. Obviously, someone is very clumsy in loading or unloading dishwashers or else GE does not have sufficient protection around their boxed dishwashers. This was not acceptable. 

In the meantime, we received a call from this company asking us how we were liking our new dishwasher. Really? This poor customer service person could not help by directing us to someone who could. She just said that she was sorry and hung up. That was the last straw.

I looked up the Customer Service number for the BIG problems, and we considered this to be a big problem. We received no help from the store manager. He was to call us back when he returned to the store. NO call. Then when we called the next day he had an employee handle the complaint. We asked for compensation for this big goof-up. It did take some negotiations for two days. We were able to get two hundred dollars refunded. 

No one could tell us when we would have our dishwasher delivered and installed. When the second dishwasher was delivered to the store damaged on October 8th, we tried to get the manager again. It is my belief that this man had no clue how to manage a store this size, nor how to treat his customers. We continually had to deal with one of his poor employees to relay messages.

In total, we waited 23 days from the day we signed on the dotted line to purchase the dishwasher, until it was put in our home in fantastic working order. The installer was a contracted out worker. He could not have been more professional. He cleaned up after himself, made sure it all worked and showed us how to operate some of the newest buttons on dishwashers now-a-days. This model has all the bells and whistles. Oh, and by the way, besides the two hundred dollars refunded, we also were able to get the fee for installation and haul away taken off our bill by the store. 

Some friends told us to go back in the store and demand a total refund and then go to another store to purchase the dishwasher. You know that did cross my mind, however, to start back over from scratch just did not appeal to me anymore than dealing with the pitiful customer service at this store.

The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Eventually!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Step Outside of the Box

This past weekend I attended my very first Writing Workshop. It was suggested to me by a good friend and a published author of many books. First of all, it was at a local bookstore, it was one day long and the cost was reasonable. One author, Susan Cushman held the workshop and ran the logistics of getting it all set up. 

After checking it all out, I registered and received the information about the agenda for the day and what the participants would be learning. We were encouraged to submit fifteen pages of a manuscript to Susan with a synopsis of what she would be reading. It could be a short story, a memoir, a chapter or part of a chapter from a novel. The only exclusion was poetry. She would critique the manuscript to let each writer know what she felt about the plot, style, voice, characters, pacing and dialog. This was daunting enough, however, the next step would be that she would send each of the participants a copy of all of the manuscripts to take notes on and for us to critique. 

This very professional author gave us the guidelines and what to look for in reading/critiquing manuscripts. We were not editing, not looking for typos or grammar errors...strictly the way the words flowed in the style, as I listed above. Now, this was a time for me that I really did have to take a deep breath, let it out slowly and show myself that I did have the courage to let others read MY work. After all, I am a writer and I write not only for myself, but for readers, hopefully. Therefore, I need to know if I am effective and to be able to get guidelines from others on how to make it more effective.

As I started to read the other manuscripts, I began to see how this process worked. Forget the 'teacher' in me. I am reading the work of others to be positive and to encourage them to stay with what they have poured their heart and soul into. Certainly there is no discussion about the subject matter, and there is no need to be all gushy about their work, no matter how good it may seem. (And some of them were pretty dang good!)

This was all about helping each other become better writers. Susan started the workshop with a brief coffee and light pastry breakfast where we were able to informally chat some with each other. Trust me, so much better than other types of workshops that I have been to where they have "ice-breakers" that always seem to make you feel like you are a child. 

The first session was a craft talk by Susan that helped to give us background into writing scenes to move our narratives forward. She went over the guidelines for critiquing manuscripts. The second session of the morning was critiquing four chosen nonfiction manuscript samples. She guided the discussions and all of the participants were allowed to comment and question. 

At noon we went in the restaurant in the bookstore called Libro. It most definitely was a bit posh and the servers were very professional there. The food was actually quite good, however the time spent with other writers was one of the best parts of our lunch.

The afternoon session had seven manuscripts, all fiction. Everyone stayed within the guidelines that Susan had given to us. She informed us that these are guidelines that she herself learned by attending workshops for her novel. My own manuscript was the third one discussed and the information that I gained from Susan and the other participants was invaluable. Some of the questions and discussions were actually some of the very ideas floating in my own mind. By participating in the workshop, I was able to see a whole different perspective on some of my writing. I believe this to be a good thing!

Susan's craft talk for the afternoon session was how she was able to get published without an agent. She actually got four book deals in one year without acquiring an agent. Talking about how to get published in a variety of ways was extremely helpful to me, as I am sure it was to some others as well.

What would a workshop be without Happy Hour! Susan had complimentary wine and snacks. It was a time to make connections with other writers and a chance to say our goodbyes. We were able to choose one of Susan's books for her to write a personal note inside and autograph it for us. I chose "Southern Writers on Southern Writing." Seemed appropriate in that my novel title will be "GRITS." (Girls Raised in the South)

Now I am looking forward to attending more workshops when they are announced in the writer's publications that I subscribe to. After all, it is a business expense! 

I now know that I will work harder at not following this Writer's Map:

The quote from Jane Yolen states why this is so important.  "Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title, lists, a character sketch, or a journal entry.  Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up."