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!