Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why am I thinking up New Year Resolutions I know I will never keep when I could be eating a big slice of pie?

Today is THE LAST DAY OF 2009...
And as such, many people will be taking stock in their lives and the year that is about to end in an attempt to find ways to make the new one better...

Well, what the HECK for? We all do this at some point in our lives... sit back and make a list of the bad things that happened to us, were done to us, were blamed on us...

I am only going to this say once... STOP!

Now is the time for all good people to OWN UP TO your short-comings, imperfections and poor decision making skills!

Now is when you should take a minute to tell yourself... 'I am human. I am not perfect. I can do better. I can do my best. I am not God but I can try to make him proud of me.' (if you do not believe in God please substitute Allah, Goddess, Creator, White Light, Mother Nature.. you know whoever you think is the guiding force in your life... even if it is that little voice in your head...)

I could sit here and type all the CRAP that everyone else is typing...
This year I will lose weight, I will stop smoking, I will pay my bills on time, I will tell my family I love them everyday...

But I decided I would make a REAL list for 2010... so here goes...

This year I will:
1- let me children live ... at least until their next birthday's... they just might start acting like human-beings and make me proud... It could happen!

2- stop worrying about how much I weigh and focus on how I feel... because I am not getting any younger and all that worry is just making wrinkly anyway

3- tell people that I love them... well, not the guy at the grocery store who ALWAYS puts my groceries in the trunk for me, even though he is 110 years old and my teens are just standing there picking their noses, or listening to their iPods; and not the mail lady who brings me tons of junk mail that I shred without opening and sometimes puts a bill or 2 in the middle of the junk mail so I don't know it's there and shred it without looking at it... accidently, of course.Or that guy at Jiffylube who changes my oil AND vacuums the WHOLE van, not just the front seat area. And he does all the windows... because even though I do, it could get weird, ok, really weird.

3- ammended- I will tell my family I love them as much as I can without actually telling a lie... that's as good as it gets... I did say I am trying to be honest here, right?

4- pay my bills on time... as long as I have the money to do so... or as soon as I get the money as long as they do not call me 10 times a day starting the week before payment is due cuz then I will just make them wait til the very last second to pay it ... because I can... or I don't have the money yet... either one

5- sell my house and move to southern realms where the sun is shining and it is warm... even in the winter... nuff said on that one... except maybe I should make sure people know my house is for sale...

6- make sure people know my house is for sale and it is a TERRIFIC house... cuz apparently my realtor is not getting that point across for me

7- not do anything not nice to my realtor, or any of the other ones who have not done anything productive to sell my house this year, and/or lied to me while not selling my house...

this list seems to be getting really long, and is taking on a negative vibe which I am sure is NOT GOOD for getting off to a good start for the new year...

So I will finish off my list with a REALLY positive wish/thought...

That all of my blogging and online friends have all the success and happiness they deserve in the coming year...( some deserve more than others so I'll leave it at that)

Happy 2010... may you live long and prosper... or at least live the average number of years and have regular paychecks coming in... whichever!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sometimes I think about stuff that has no meaning at all but it still keeps me awake when I am supposed to be sleeping...

According to Girl-Child 25, there is a new reality show where some guys got together and made a Bucket List of things they want to do before they die.

This got me thinking, a 'tres dangerous' task most undoubtedly, about places I would like to visit before I die. Which of course had me making a list of the places NOT to visit so I could narrow down the TO VISIT places.

And this is what was in my head:

Places NOT to visit before I die-

1- Naples- the one in Italy, not Florida, because scientists have just discovered evidence that
4000 years ago it was under 4 feet of molten lava from Mt Vesuvius, and 2000 years ago
Pompeii disappeared and with the schedule being what it is it will choose the
day I am there to erupt...

2- Hawaii- especially the island with the volcano on it... I think that maybe volcanoes may have
something against me so I will be avoiding them...

3- Ditto for anywhere near Mt St Helen... but there really isn't anything out there to see anyway
so not a problem to Not visit there...

4- California - the Bay Area- no never mind- the whole state- if the mud slides or forest fires
don't get me then for sure the day I visit the BIG ONE will hit (earthquake that is) and the
whole frickin' state will break off and fall into the ocean and sink,just like Atlantis!





So that leaves me with Places I Want to Visit before I die:

1- Florida- but not the Everglades part where the alligators and Sasquatch / swamp ape thingys
live, or where they have hurricanes wiping everything off the face of the planet... the other
parts, like where Mickey and Minnie live

2- New Orleans- been there once but would like to go with my husband... but only during the Off
Hurricane season and only AFTER I lost about 60 pounds... that way if I WANT to show my stuff
to get some beads, MAYBE someone will be interested in looking at it... besides my husband,
who kind of has to no matter what since he is married to me

3- Wine Country of California- Ooops- nope! Forgot that state is off limits since it might
breakoff and sink into the ocean and I don't think I can tread water long enough to get help

4- Australia- Yep I want to go to Queensland- where ever that is- to see the Crocodile Hunter's
zoo- well Australia Zoo ... but no outback camping where Dingos or Crocs will get me...

5- Scotland/Ireland- I definitely want to see the places were my ancestors once lived- the ones
from the British Isles- not the ones from Germany and Poland... I don't trust those
governments enough to go there ... but Ireland and Scotland seem safe and they have all those
old castles and manor houses and giant sweeping green landscapes...

That's my list.. but wait, scratch #4 and #5 in the To Visit list because you can only get there by flying- well sure you can float there but really, I did say I can't tread water that long... and flying is not something I do well... 2 1/2 hours is about my limit then I better be able to leave the plane and walk on solid ground or the flight attendant person will be peeling me off the ceiling... if God wanted me to fly I would have been born one of the X-Men Mutants and live with Wolverine and Storm in that cool old castle somewhere in New York State... since I don't...

Guess that leaves me with a visit to Florida and Louisiana... That I can manage before I die. Several times most likely since I have family in Louisiana, and some kind of near Florida...
Whew! Load off my mind... now that my list is made I can spend more time enjoying and living life while I still can!

Monday, December 28, 2009

I love Doctor Who, the real one from last season, not the new one... I wonder if he makes house calls?


It's Official! Monday IS the BEST day ... of this week so far that is...
Why? you may ask... especially if you read my post on 'The Secret is in the Sauce' this morning.

The spawn of satan I begat actually ASKED before going to out to play AND the breakfast dishes were in the sink without any help from me! AND they (the 2 smallest spawn - 11 yo son and 12 yo dd) cleaned their rooms all by themselves... Heck they even put the dirty clothes IN THE HAMPER! WooHoo!
The water in the shower- the one I had to take to hide my tears after seeing The Anissa Love video on The Bloggess.com was HOT... I mean really and truly hot, like it made steam and everything!
The DH got himself up for work-- in a timely manner - which means he was on track to only be an hour late-- AND he MADE THE BED!!! I think I shall swoon from the shock!
The pies and cake in the fridge are all still intact... no late-night snacking from the bottomless pit otherwise known as The 20 yo son...
And the Teen From Hell (14 yo son)... he slept until NOON and then got up and MADE HIMSELF FOOD without any whining about there being NOTHING to eat!
And to top it all off the 25 yo Girl-Child offered to pick me up a Janet Evanovich book, or 2 !, from the library!

Did I tell you this was a great day or what?

But Wait!There's More!
And it is the VERY BEST PART!

I got comments on my BLOG from people not in the Friends and Family category... and you know what that means???

I am a writer... for total strangers and the whole world to enjoy!

Okay- maybe not the whole world, yet... but give me a little time to implement, er, begin, er, plan my World Writing Domination and then... well you better watch out for me!... or you could check back here now and again. Or subscribe as a follower and then tell 2 friends who can tell 2 friends who can... you know, like the Faberge Shampoo commercial from the 70's... not that I was alive in the 70's or anything...oh, I know about it cuz I saw it on ...YouTube, that's it... right?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Someone actually said "Happy Christmas Day 2" to me yesterday and I thought, "Who the Hell made it into a Sequel? The original was painful enough!!!"

It's the Sunday morning, really really early, after Christmas and all through the house,
the family is snoring, scaring away every mouse.
The stockings are empty and the fireplace barren, OMG I walked past the mirror, what the HELL am I wearin'?
I just couldn't sleep, so I dressed in the dark, put on my glasses... after the socks.
My pj's are silk- well I pretend that they are, my sweater, it has holes in both of the arms, my slippers are cushy and warm inside, and as long as I don't pick up my feet when I walk, I do not slide.
There are no toys under the tree...Santa did not bring any, you see?
The kids have all outgrown bells and whistles, instead they got t-shirts, jeans (sorry, no downy thistles!)
And Santa, he came like he does every year, had some milk and a snack, then left some small trinkets, just a few, to spread some cheer ...
A Zhou Zhou Hamster for Rina, Nano Bugs for Sky and the game of LIFE for Xan, but for which they all cried, " I want to Play, Let me have a try!"

The leftover Duck, my very first one, is in the fridge and I hope will get eaten before it turns blackish-brown.

I think it's time for coffee and a slice of pie, shall I have Cherry or Pumpkin or Pecan, Oh My!
I pray that this is the hardest decision I must make today, alas I know it will surely not end up that way.

So Merry Sunday after Christmas! Have a great Day.... er, morning, uh, five minutes of peace before the kids awake... as they very soon may!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I just love the Great Pumpkin... Oh, Wrong Holiday...

There are 3 days until Christmas. Yep, only 3 more days til the kids whine about the obvious lack of electronic and digital gadgets under the tree... although I did tell them there would be no electronics this year. I even gave up the Wii Active Sports program my dear husband was getting ME for Christmas... because I told the kids NO ELECTRONICS!

So, here I sit in the middle of my bed, surrounded by unfolded laundry, waiting for my bedroom carpet to dry... Because I forgot that the only place to wrap the presents would be in my bedroom, on the floor, on the other side of the bed so the kids can't walk in and "accidently" see what I am wrapping but now I can't because the wrapping paper will get all wet from the carpet and then it will tear and ruin the gifts.

Instead, I am hoping the laundry will fold itself and the carpet will dry in record time and the presents will find a way to get wrapped without me having to do anything to them...

Yup, it is 3 days til Christmas and I am so not ready. But I will be. Seriously, everything will be perfect, or as perfect as I can make it, before the time to rip the pretty paper and bows from the not-electronic gifts comes.

The duck..I am roasting a duck for the first time ever at the request of my 20 year old son...God!I hope it turns out okay but just in case I have a spiral cut ham with pineapple and cinnamon glaze on the menu... Maybe I will roast a chicken too... just in case...
(my duck will look just like this... right?)

And I will stay up late making the dough for the cinnamon buns for Christmas morning and stay up until all the presents are wrapped and arranged, Just So, under the tree to await the smiling, if not exactly awake, faces of my children. Alright already, I will imagine them smiling ... my imagination is really very good you know...

I will attend church service with my husband and children Christmas Eve, then go back for the Candle Light service with my 20 and 25 year old kids. After we sing Silent Night, and extinguish the candles, we will stop at 7-11 for coffee and hot chocolate and this year's St Jude Bear...


and we will be silly and remember Christmases past- the presents, the people and the late -night wrapping sessions with It's a Wonderful Life playing non-stop til 5am!

When we get home I will put everything in place then take quiet time to reflect on this past year's goals and achievements and try to think of some new ones, that may actually be do-able, for next year.

Yes, there are only 3 more days until Christmas... and I can hardly wait!

In 72 hours my least-favorite day of the year will be over and life will go back to normal...
my kids will complain and whine and argue with each other... my husband will work too many hours too many days a week and I will continue to strive for the perfection that I THINK a wife and mother should have... a perfect house, perfect children, perfect husband...

OMG! I just became June Cleaver...

Well... maybe perfect isn't so perfectly wonderful after all... I mean just look what happened to the Beaver... you don't know?... well neither does anyone else... see my point?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reading blogs only makes me jealous, then I get depressed so I should have just eaten the chips and dip to begin with...

This is for everyone who quotes song lyrics... girl of 16 whole life ahead of her slashed her wrists bored with life didn't succeed thank the lord for small mercies...
and YES this is one of my FAVORITE songs... another is NUMB by Linkin Park... And you all thought I was not DOPE!
Dope, for those not as DOPE as I, means the same thing as WAY cool, gnarly, and wicked, you know from back when you were a little kid, or at least younger and WAY cooler than you are now.
FaceBook is entertaining and I was concerned when I thought it had left me, but as I stated on my FB status FB hadn't REALLY left me, we were just taking a little break.
During that break I got caught up on some blogs I like ( written by people that are not me that is- although I am not totally sure I like the blogs I write).
Anyway, I read those while watching some DVR'd shows from last week... well I let them play so I can delete them without feeling bad about using up the DVR space on them in the first place.
So, anyhow, once I got caught up on the blog posts I realized that tons of people make comments about them. Like every single post had at least a dozen or more comments on them. And then I took a look at my blog and sure enough right there for all the world to see is ... nothing. Not one single comment.
Ok- I have like 5 people in the world who actually read what I post and most of them are family so I'm not exactly sure they count.
But maybe I am totally off base and more people read what I write, but are just so touched by my words as to be left speechless, or in the case of the internet, temporarily paralyzed from the wrists down?

Well- I got that little tic out of my system and now I want to find the tape of that song I was quoting , but now that I think about it even if I do find the cassette, I have no way to actually play it since the kids broke my boom box and the new van has satellite radio, a cd and 2 ( yes 2) dvd players, but no cassette player...
And now I am really bummed because I can't even download the song to my totally awesome iPod that my equally awesome husband bought me so I could listen to music or watch videos while at work, or at school functions where the music or play may not be as good as what I have on my iPod... but I can't because Not Me- the kid who lives here but is NEVER seen has apparently broken my 40gig ( i think that is what John said it is) iPod and this same kid who I DID NOT give birth to has evidently lost, or borrowed, or sold my iPod Shuffle- the one with my name engraved on it so I can prove to my kids it really is mine?... so now I have to see if I know anyone who may, or may not, have that song on a dvd so I can download it to the computer in my van so I can got outside for REAL music when the kids are playing that Sreamo crap that doesn't even have lyrics so can't really be called songs, now can they?
And you were wondering why my favorite songs are depressing???
Welcome to my life!

The Redskins won...FINALLY... and those Christmas shows on Cable

I spent Sunday on the couch, in my pajamas, watching tv, with my 25 year old daughter.
Because I could, that's why....

Anyway, we spent the afternoon hours with "The Countdown to Christmas" movies on Lifetime, LMN and Hallmark... and Man, was she mad at that Hallmark channel!

After the second movie in a row, where a main character was either maimed, mutilated or paralyzed in some tragic accident she was really, really ticked!

She even voiced her desire to "write a sternly worded letter" ( because that would get their attention, right?) to Hallmark about what a Christmas movie should have in it.
Then she went so far as to suggest that perhaps Hallmark should take a lesson from LMN, Lifetime and The Family Channel when picking out Christmas movies...( but don't the networks all take ideas from each other already? Maybe they were killing people off to be different...)

She may actually have a point there. Not one person on any of those network's movies died or suffered bodily injury the whole day. It's just so much happier and Christmas-ier when the people in the feel-good movie are all alive at the end in a Happily Ever-After sort of way, right?

We learned our lesson, and we learned it good... No, not that we shouldn't have spent the day on the couch, watching chick-flicks in our PJ's... Wrong lesson....
We learned that we should click on that INFO tab and read the whole thing to make sure no one dies BEFORE we start watching a darn Hallmark movie!

And that a day on the couch complaining about really dumb things, like people dying in Holiday films and whether the Redskins were really going to win , For Real this time (of course they could!)



and can you snore when you're awake (oh, and the answer to this one is YES, I CAN!) ... well, spending the day doing all those things was almost as good as one of those Holiday movies for recharging the old batteries.



It got me rested up and, if not raring to go, at least ready to muddle through another week of Holiday prep and last-minute crap.
And, it pulled my daughter out of her no-luck-finding-a-job funk ...for a little while anyway.

So, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah and, well, whatever it is you do in December...

And Remember!
Check for the dead people before you start watching a movie to make you feel better!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mel Gibson in a kilt and Who is this Mulligan Anyway?

Do-over.

Is that a word?

I hear people say they wish they could be 16 again, or 18 or 30, but really, do they mean they want to go back and relive their lives, have a do-ver?

Or in the language of golf, a Mulligan? And who on earth decided to call it that anyway? I know golf was invented by the Scots but is Mulligan even a Scottish name? My vision of Mel Gibson in Braveheart, full on blue body paint with the wind blowing his kilt around his thighs as he is about to meet his enemy head on in battle, does not include a nine-iron and a little white ball being chased around a big green lawn.


I often wonder what exactly people wanting a do-over actually want to do-over. High school? College? Their first job? First real relationship?

80's hair, Flashdance sweats, pegged pants and lycra in everything was bad enough the first go-round.

High school was abysmal. I didn't fit in with any one group. I was in the band, the national honor society, played soccer, did indoor drill team and flag squad... and I had my first child. I had acquaintances, but no real friends, well except for Kelly and Ginger.
Aside from them all I did was go to high school, nursing school and work until graduation.

So the first marriage, and the second for that matter, didn't work out exactly as planned, but doing them again? Definitely not. My kids once asked if I have any regrets or wish I had done things differently, and honestly, I don't think I do.

I made the choices I made because they were what I had to do. Better insurance, better hours, more time with my kids, nicer neighborhood... these are things that have driven my decisions for the last 20-something years.
And if going back would mean changing my career or mean not having even one of my children, then I'd really rather not... unless... no, never mind...I'll keep the kids I got.

Maybe someone can figure out a way to send criminals back in time to re-live their teen years as punishment for their deeds? Having to be pimple-faced and insecure or abnormally large and clumsy or a geek again would probably fall under the cruel and unusual punishment category so it would most likely be unconstitutional.

A do-over, Mulligan or rewind... call it what you want. I'd rather take the hard-earned lessons my life has taught me and move forward. And hopefully find a way to spare my children the pain I had growing up... well not ALL the pain, but a lot of it certainly.

Because without those lessons and experiences I may not have ever made it to THIS place and time and let's face it, the known is better than the unknown any day...I shudder to think of the mess my life could have ended up in. Okay, the bigger mess...

Living in the Now is certainly hard, but living in the Then would be, well, totally so Not Awesome.
But if someone comes up with a way to get my THEN figure back without a gym, dieting or having to work for it... then Sign Me Up!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy December! or The Sky is Falling, or the World is Ending, or something like that... Right?

Yes, I did say "Happy December". Why? Why not?

December is a turning point in the year for us Mid-Atlantic folks. The weather is just beginning to feel winter-like (note to my kids-this means a jacket of some sort is REQUIRED to keep out the rain and cold) and the Chesapeake is starting to look deserted and lonely, as the fair-weather, recreational boaters put their skiffs and fishing boats, sail and motor boats, in dry dock and shrink wrap, to ride out the cold months ahead.

The local farmer's fields have been plowed under; only the remnants of pumpkins and cabbages along the edges to remind one of the abundant bounty harvested only a short time ago.

The advent of December brings too, the advent of the Christmas season- in the religious sense as well as the actual sense.

Shopping for holiday gifts, whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or all 3, there are shops peddling their wares at every turn. And if that is not enough, you can shop on-line, from the comfort of your home, in your pajamas, anytime!

And with the advent of the shopping season comes the eagerly anticipated arrival of... the UPS guy! or the Fed Ex person, or the Mail Carrier... whomever it is that will be bringing the wonderful deals you got on-line home to you, along with the gifts FROM family and friends!

People seem to smile more and greet one another on the street with warm and genuine care... oh, wait, that was on a Lifetime movie... rewind...

People are pushy, rushed, grouchy and, sometimes even down-right nasty. But, as the last holidays of the year approach you may catch a glimpse of that Good Will and Cheer you heard mentioned in songs all month long. You may even get a smile and a nod from a stranger as you stop to hold the door for them ( which is a hint that you NEED to hold doors for people, people!), and you just might find yourself dropping more than a few pennies in the Salvation Army Santa's bucket on your way into Wal-Mart...

Okay, sorry, I got carried away, again!

But seriously, December brings with it the beginning of a new season, and the end of a year. As it winds down it brings hope and renewed optimism for a better, brighter year to come...

So, Happy December! for where would we be without it?

A whole month closer to 2012 and the end of the world is where! ... now that's moving things along just a little too fast, don't ya think? That Nostradamus guy just might have gotten it right, although I think the Mayans just forgot to leave instructions on where the reset button for their calendar is... no biggie, just find it, hit it like you do the snooze button and the count-down to armageddon will start all over again at 26,000 years!

Now go out and Enjoy December 2009, cuz when it's gone, it's GONE!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't Bite Off More Than You Can Chew and other things They say...

Tis the Season to be Jolly... Well, that's what 'THEY' say.

And who exactly are 'They', anyway?

'They' can be anyone. People you know, people you don't know, people you don't ever want to know... so WHY would you listen to 'They' in the first place?

I certainly do not know the answer to that question. Does anyone?

I think 'They' are the ones who made the rules like "no elbows on the table" and "pink and red don't go together" and "no wearing white after Labor Day".

What if I NEED to put my elbows on the table because I drank too much wine and am about to fall of my chair and my elbows are the only thing keeping the room from spinning me like a top? Hmmmm... ?

Or what if I LIKE the way pink and red look together, or red and purple for that matter? Pink and red ARE in the same color family so why can't they be together? I mean, if brown can be the new black and pink the new white and it seems acceptable to put them together...? Brown and pink is a hideously disgusting combination in my opinion but 'They' say it is hip and trendy... I think 'They' must be color-blind... or have a seriously f'd up sense of humor!

And what about this no white after Labor Day thing?
Really? I'm a nurse and , well duh!, white is what we wear... and do white tennis shoes or sneakers not count? Cuz I definitely see white shoes all year long. And white t-shirts. And what about winter white? It's right there in the name- Winter White- so it must be okay for after Labor Day since that would be the 'Winter Season', right?

'They' say the unemployment numbers will get better, and 'They' say the housing market is starting to pick up, and 'They' say the economy is not as bad as we ( meaning the not 'They' people) think it is, and 'They' say we are only in a Recession, not a Depression... well this Recession is pretty depressing to me so I don't really see a difference, do you?

Just once I would like to see someone interview 'They' on TV. I think it would look a lot like a PC vs MAC commercial.


Interviewer- How nice to FINALLY have 'They' here in studio.
'THEY'- Well, you know what 'They' say don't you?
Interviewer- No, actually, what do you say? Any words of wisdom?
'THEY'- Never ask questions you don't already know the answer to... and as 'They' say... don't take any wooden nickels!



Interviewer will be left standing in an empty space where 'They' have just left the building thinking, "WTF?'They' say the dumbest things, don't 'They'?"

'They' certainly seem to have the last word in just about everything...
I am sure 'They' were the ones shaking their heads, as they set sail, while Mt Vesuvius was still burping and hiccuping clouds of smoke and sulphur, saying things like, " You can't take it with you" and "some people never learn!"

And like 'They' always say... " love your neighbor as yourself...".
Okay you got me there, 'They' have never been touted as the brain behind that sentiment but the 'ONE' that has, well, HE's got my vote over the ever-elusive 'They' anyday!

And don't forget... it IS the Season to be JOLLY... but only if YOU say so!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Worms Unite!

I love to read. I'll read just about anything, and I mean anything!

My youngest son would ONLY read 'Captain Underpants' stories for a while. What I really mean is, I had to read them for him until he got the whole sound-out-the-letters-then-run-it-all-together thing down.

I actually read most of what the kids read.
One, because I buy them and want to know what they are reading; and two, because I like the darn things!

I read Twilight so I would know what my 11 year old was into-- and because I was thrilled she knew what to do with a book! Then I got hooked on the stupid series... with my 11 year old girl, 13 year old boy and 19 year old son's girlfriend! We passed those books around like they were some miracle cure for male pattern baldness!

Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Junie B.Jones, Amelia Bedelia...I have read them all! And I have anxiously awaited the newest installments.
Yes, I went in the middle of the night when bookstores had special release hours, but No, I did not dress like a character from the stories...

I can't decide if that is pathetic or wonderful.
Pathetic because, well really? Books?
Wonderful because, well, Really! Books!
They take you places, let you be someone else, teach you and stimulate your mind to ask questions and find answers.

I AM A NERD! It's official.

There are over a thousand books in our home and more than half belong to me. My son owns the other half, easily. AND he remembers all the names and story lines and authors!
Me? I'm lucky if I can remember the picture on the front of the book.

And I don't even want to talk about books that my daughter AND my father have read that I own. I am embarrassed that my daughter read some that should seriously be rated-XXX then I go visit my Dad and he's sitting on the sofa reading the same darn thing! How does that conversation go?
'So Dad, what'd you think about the one where the detective is dating a vampire and a werewolf and she is a wereleopard who has to have sex to live like a vampire needs blood? '
Um, definitely NOT. And WHY is my dad reading these books anyway? Christine Feehan, Nora Roberts, Sherrilynn Kenyon -do these names sound like the names of people who write books that someone who reads Zane Grey would want to read?

Maybe they do. Maybe I get my reading nerd genes from my dad... and that means my kids got them from me and we are all doomed
.
Book-a-holics Anonymous?
The premier chapter will be meeting in my living room to discuss the latest book read, er, I mean, to stop the addiction to books and all things book related-- right after I swing by the library and bookstore to pick up that new Stephanie Meyers title.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Too Hi-Tech for Kris Kringle?

Technology has changed the face of Christmas, no really, it has.

Santa used to be this Red-cheeked, Jelly-bellied Jolly Grandpa kind of guy carrying a sack filled with toy soldiers, dolls, BB guns ( I know- you could put an eye out with those things!) and yo-yos for all the good boys and girls.

Now Santa has a sleigh full of MP3 players, DVD's and hand-held book readers ( because a real book is too what?... hard to carry in your back pack or purse?) Digital TVs, cameras, and DSI's are what kids are asking for this year.


What ever happened to Pogo sticks, wood-burning kits, chemistry sets and boomerangs?

Oh, that's right... they have been done away with by parents who were afraid their kids would get hurt using them... Ummmm, ever heard of Parental Supervision?

So, instead of brain stimulating, hands-on, skill developing gifts we have the mind-numbing, de-sensitizing, obesity-enhancing video and computer games that prevent social interaction and physical activity, but are safe for kids to use... because getting fat and stupid are not detrimental?

Yep! Technology has changed the face of Christmas, and the world and the future... Makes me think of those people in the Disney Movie 'Wall-E'

My wish for Christmas?
That you not act surprised when computers take over your kid's minds and control the world...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sleep-over? Who said anything about Sleep?

What do teenaged girls do for fun?

Well, this question is something that I wondered about until my teen daughter had two of her friends sleep over last night.

Silly Me! They eat pizza, make popcorn, watch movies and giggle ALL night long. They talk in an abbreviated code that they think grown-ups can't figure out and they talk about boys... what else? Oh, and clothes.

They eat huge stacks of pancakes for breakfast and hang-out playing RockBand on Wii...

In essence, they do basically the same things we did at their age. Which is a huge relief to mom's like me who worry that teens are become grown-up much too soon.

So, Moms of the World, there is still time to influence not only your teen, but her friends as well... as long as you do it when they are not paying attention and think you are just hanging out watching movies, eating popcorn and talking about clothes with them

The key is the Being With Them part... they like it, really they do, even when they say they don't!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day... a lesson and a Thank You... No,Really!

Today is Veteran's Day.

A day set aside to honor those who have served to protect and defend our country.

Everyone knows that. We learned about it in grade school- you know back when the holocaust was real and the 'Cold War' was still being fought?

But what many people may not remember, or possibly never really learned way back when, is that Veteran's Day was originally Armistice Day.

What is Armistice you may ask... again because you were too busy watching Nixon being impeached on TV or listening to your grandfather rant how the Russians were planning to take over the world to remember what your teacher was telling you in school.

Armistice is a cessation of fighting by mutual agreement between all parties involved.

And Armistice Day was originally intended as a remembrance of the Armistice Treaty that went into effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, thereby effectively ending the First World War... or as it was called by many, "The War To End All Wars"... well, until the next one that is.

So, November 11th at 11:00 am is when the guns stopped shooting and the soldiers stopped marching and the tanks stopped rolling in 1918. And those left standing were able to return to their homes and families in time for Christmas and the Peace-full New Year of 1919.

But the Armistice did not last because, well, let's face it, we ARE human after all, and eternal peace and happiness just aren't part of the genetic code of our species.

Someone had to decide they were "The Man" and start taking over the smaller and less adequately defended countries in Europe-- oh so slyly and quietly so that the bigger, badder nations across the globe did not realize exactly what was happening until it was almost too late.

And of course, The US being the Defender of the Defense-less, and Global Conscience that it is, we got involved. Oh- I mean before Pearl Harbor- we had pilots flying for the RAF out of Canada and Great Britain, we had intelligence personnel in Europe sending back some not-so-nice reports on Adolph and Friends and there were discussions in the governmental bodies about how and when we should intercede.

Then Pearl Harbor happened and just how much trouble Adolph and his Pals in Italy and Japan had gotten into became alarmingly apparent.

Thus the US was thrown into World War II, and although it was not our brightest hour, it was certainly not a good idea to piss us off from the get go.
Japan was not very smart about that, or they under estimated us as a military force? Maybe it is because we frown on killing perfectly good people by using airplanes as bombs like those crazy Kamakzi guys. But hey, maybe it was something else.

So WWII happened. Lots more of our young men died defending those in need across the globe against a mad man, who had some serious mental-health and self-love issues, because he could talk a good game.

That 'War to End All Wars' ended in 1945, and not a moment too soon for those interred in concentration camps across Eastern Europe.

In 1954- only 9 years after WWII ended and a year after the Korean Conflict- cuz I do remember learning in school that it was NOT a war, just a conflict where people got killed... a lot, had been ... er, un-conflicted?
Anyway- 1954 saw the signing of a bill making Veteran's Day a day to honor American veterans of all wars by Dwight Eisenhower, who was himself a great veteran and who said... ( I had to put a quote of his here because he is my favorite president)...
"On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of those who fought so valiantly on the seas, in the air and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain."

Since that proclamation was made 51 years ago many more veterans have arrived on the scene... From the cuban conflict, Operation Desert Storm, Viet Nam, Operation Iraqi Freedom and so many more that I am sure We, The People have no idea ever happened.

For ALL of those Veterans I want to say thank you... and I include those who are left who bear a tatoo identifying them as true veterans of war because, unlike American History books who barely mention the "alleged holocaust" I believe that their lives were endagered, taken and tossed aside without care... and I KNOW that without OUR Veterans of that war, and the many since, history books the world over would be filled with more atrocities than even I can imagine, and let me tell you, I have a really good imagination!

So- Thank You to Marty, Vic, David, Steph, Dad, Uncle Dave, Wink, Mr. Schuyler, Matthew, Smitty, Charlie Cartwright- KIA Afghanistan November 2009, and those whose names I cannot remember and those whose names I have never known... you are ALL to me like family... the family of Man-Kind with the emphasis on KIND.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Solar Power meets Kermit THE Frog?

Bills, bills, bills.... everyone has them. And let's face it, we hate them.
Living in Maryland has become rather expensive over the last few years, and not the things that we have any control over either.

Water usage rates have nearly tripled in 3 years, property taxes have jumped by thousands of dollars in a very short time and gas and electric rates are through the roof.

In an effort to reduce our family's electric bill we installed a wood burning fireplace, unplug small appliances not in use and converted our lighting to flourescent bulbs.

Of course, my husband being the handy-man that he is, installing Solar Energy Panels to cut down on electric bills is something he would like to do.
And being the super efficient guy that he is, researching how they work, how much they will save us and how to install them has become a passion.

Did you know that the government gives residential and small business grants for Solar Panel installation?

Many states have rebate programs that will give you a discount or certain percentage of the installation fees back.

In Maryland, residential installations that are no larger than 20kW are eligible for a grant amount that caps at $10,000.00 for whole house systems, and hot water solar systems can qualify for 30% of installation costs up to $2.000.00.
These are great incentives, but the grants are limited so applying for them as soon as you decide to install a Solar Energy System in your home is imperative.

Maryland also has a tax exempt program for homes with Solar or Green energy where the equipment is tax exempt. The most recent Solar Energy Grant Program for Maryland was updated on October 19, 2009 with the latest grants and application guidelines.

Another nice thing about Maryland that I have found in my research is that if you are generating enough energy to cover your electric usage, you only pay customer service fees on your electric bill, and you can actually get paid by the electric company for energy generated that you are not using. Basically, if you are generating solar energy in excess of your needs, you are selling it to the Electric Company. This does not look like a reason to install Solar Energy Panels but it certainly is a nice perk!

SO, if you are tired of the ever-increasing costs of living under your roof, check into what can you can put ON it to help out. Look into the incentives and grants available to you in your state and see how much you can save using Green Power.

And for DIY-ers like mine, www.GreenDIYEnergy.com looks like a company that can help. They provide the instructions on how to make your own solar panels and how to install them. This can save tens of thousands on just the installation, but add in the savings by making your own panels and you could be looking at serious cash in hand. Maybe enough to make Going Green NOW affordable for your home.

Going Green is the new catch phrase. You see it on home improvement shows, kids programming- real shows on recycling, not just the ones with Miss Piggy and Friends, infomercials and all over the internet. Green Power looks like an efficient way to cut household costs, and save our environment.
Add the tax credits from the federal and state governments, the tax exempt status Maryland gives you for your Solar Power equipment and the increase in your home's value Green Energy will give, Going Green just seems like it makes sense.

And in the words of the oh-so-wonderful Kermit THE Frog.... "It's Not Easy Being Green!"

But, it sure does help!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Families that DIY together...

I love home improvement shows.

Seriously, I do. I should have invented the HGTV channel. Or maybe the DIY channel.

I enjoy doing my own improvement projects and take pride in the work once it is done. It's a darn good thing my husband knows how to use all those tools in the garage, cuz I sure don't!

We recently put a laminate floating floor in our family room to replace the berber carpet that had been ruined by the kids and dogs. It was only 6 years old, but man was it awful. One little catch of a dog's paw and there goes a whole row of carpet. It looked like a zebra by the time we got rid of it. That and the stains. They would come out with a little bleach and hot water, only to reappear a few weeks later, like magic.

Getting rid of that carpet was the best idea ever!

We, and when I say WE I really mean MY HUSBAND, put down a really nice quality laminate in a cherry finish in a day. And I do mean a whole day. First we, this time I did help, took up the carpet and the padding, which was really gross. Then I vacuumed the subfloor and took up all the tack strips and the staples.

That took like, an hour?

Then we, yep this is the WE that means MY HUSBAND, rolled out the underlayment and put down the first row of flooring. This took like 2 hours! Apparently the wall is not exactly straight and the floor is not really flat so it took some measuring and tweaking to get the first row perfectly straight and level.

Oh, and some seriously precise cuts on that table saw in the garage. The one HE keeps reminding me was worth it's weight in gold because he uses it for EVERYTHING. Yeah, I know, he told me so...

Finally, the first row was down and I figured the rest would go down quickly. I mean all you do is snap the pieces together and keep on truckin'... well, not exactly that easy, but it's not hard, once you get going, right?

We finished up at 1am... yep, it took over 15 hours to put this floor in. Yes, the room is pretty big, 18 x 18, but really, 15 hours!

But now that it is in, and the furniture is in place, and we have been living in this room without stains and the 'wet dog' smell, it's so worth the time and effort we, I mean, he put forth.

So-- KUDOS to MY HUSBAND on a job well done!

Oh, and the cost difference from doing it ourselves and having it done by a 'professional'?
$450.00 versus $2200.00!!! Yikes! We saved like $1700.00 on this project alone...

I wonder if it is too soon to tell him I NEED the carpet in the boys room replaced with this laminate too...?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle... and the Mortgage Company From Hell?

Here I sit, on my couch, under an afghan, watching tv while the sun is slowly coming awake to warm the chilly air outside and bring some light to the world.

I am curled up under an afghan because it was 33 degrees last night, leaving ice crusted over the garden pond, and we have a heat pump system that just does not seem able to keep the temps comfortable during freezing weather.

This bothers me immensely.

Oh, sure we can sit together as a family under blankets in front of the fireplace watching TV through the winter months, and honestly, we really do.

Not just because we love each other, but more importantly, because we need to be warm and need to keep the electric bill to a manageable amount. Last winter we had bills of 1000.00 and more per month. Nope, that is not a typo... it really was that high.

This year we have a new, highly efficient hot water heater and brand new high efficiency washer and dryer set to help off-set some of the cost of running our home during the colder months.

We have also converted almost all of the light bulbs to those curly ones and use re-chargeable batteries in most of the electronics on our home. We unplug the laptops and shut down the power strips that have the TV, DVD player and Wii systems plugged into them.

We are recycling just about everything we use... and it seems that our recycle trash is 3 times the amount of the regular trash! Who knew so much could be recycled?

All of these things we do to cut our costs, and lower the cost of living in general, quite willingly.

In our plan to down-size expenses and reduce waste we contacted our mortgage holder to find about modifying our adjustable interest rate loan last October.

When our loan was bought by one of the Chase companies our interest rate jumped considerably. We were given 30 days notice that the payment was jumping by nearly 800.00 a month. So I did what was being recommended and contacted them to try to fix things before they became a problem... I did say I did this a year ago, right?

Well, here it is 13 months later and we still have no modification of our loan. Not only do we not have a modification in place, but the payment plan- or the "trial modification period" as they call it- has actually hurt us more than it has helped.

When I called last year I was told what we needed to do to be considered for a modification and I did it. I have been on 4 of the "trial payment periods", each lasting 3 months so that the powers that be can see we are committed to paying our bill on time each month.

At the end of the 3 months the modification is supposed to be locked in and all will be well... or so I have been told. After 4 of these trial periods and dozens and dozens of pages being faxed multiple times to the Loan Modifcation account representative we still have no modification and I only recently found out we had no account representative. Or at least not the one I have been dealing with since March of this year.

It seems he was taken off our case in early October, but no one told us until the end of the month. Which explains why the 8 phone messages I left for him the month of October were never answered.

So in our attempt to be proactive and reduce expenditures and tighten our belts, we have only made our problem worse.

Our account is now being reported as 6 months in arrears because the reduced "Trial Period" payments are less than our regular payments and apparently our mortgager does not accept partial payments...
which is what they consider the reduced payments to be since we have not been locked into a modification program...
and that means they can charge us with fees for making these partial payments and late fees because we are behind because we did not make full payments...
and apparently the whole "You qualify for the Federal Loan Modification Program" conversation that I have had several times over the past 13 months is just that... a conversation as it now seems we do not in actuality qualify for it according to our mortgager...

so now what do we do???

Well... for anyone in this predicament- of which I am sure there are many- try using this link and signing the petition there.


PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION TO GET CONGRESSIONAL HELP FOR HOMEOWNERS TODAY!!!

http://www.petition2congress.com/2/2564/petition-to-us-government-from-american-homeowners/


Then use the link to send a letter to your congressmen and senators to let them know that you need their help

I even added a personal note to the form letter to let them know that I have jumped through all the hoops and played by the ever-changing rules with nothing to show for it but a ruined credit rating and a house payment that has gone up once again.

I hope that my experience helps someone else as it does not appear it will be helping us...

But Hey! I still believe in Miracles ...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

WOW, iPods and Growing UP?

Today is my youngest child's 11th birthday.

Now when did that happen? He was just a little guy with strawberry blonde hair, big blue eyes and the most adorable dimple in his chin... and now he is this tall, lanky, freckle-face young man, who still has the most awesome blue eyes and dimples to die for by the way.

I know the kids grow up. I mean we would all go insane if they didn't, but really, they are growing OLDER sooner than they used to.

My oldest child is now 29. I remember her playing with friends when she was 11... playing with dolls and playing "teacher".

Now 11 year olds play video games and hang out on the computer gaming and reading their email... well, not mine of course since I think kids that young should have more cerebral pursuits...

OKAY! You got me. I DO think they should have more mentally stimulating activities, but my kids do play World of Warcraft (or WOW as it is affectionately known in our home) and have PSPs, iPods, Playstation, X-Box and Nintendo gaming systems.
They also have a large selection of DVDs to watch should they tire of video games.
Oh, and yes they have books... thousands of books are in our home and YES! the kids have actually read them, not just used them to prop up broken desk legs or hold down science fair projects while they are drying.

The one thing that they DO NOT HAVE is a cell phone. No phone until they can pay for it themselves. And I mean go to the store and get their own account and pay the bills themselves.
My 3 older kids had to do it that way so the 3 younger ones are stuck with it.

So now that my baby is 11 and no longer thinks he is my baby, what do I do?

I throw a frickin' party that's what I do!
Only 7 more years and the last one will be of an age to fend for himself... not that he will since his 20 year old brother is still living at home and is not financially secure, but he will be old enough that he could be on his own.

The count-down has begun... I still miss the little boy that was, but I am looking forward to meeting the man he will become... and celebrating his achievements over the next few years on his way to being that man.

Oh, and the vacation I will be able to go on once he has left for college... well, if I can afford one...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ghosts, Pilgrims and Santa... Oh My!

Halloween is over. The Holiday Season has officially begun; the weather has gotten cooler; the leaves are vibrant shades of orange, red and yellow; and clocks have been thrown against walls in homes all over the Daylight Savings time zones!

The alarm clock rang this morning at 6:00 , er, 5:00 because my husband forgot to re-set HIS alarm clock yesterday. Hey! It's on his side of the bed set to go off at 6am so he can ignore it completely. I don't need an alarm. I get up every morning, multiple times, to get the kids up and out the door to school, put HIS coffee on and get my day started.

Another sign that Holiday Season has commenced? The Christmas Trees and ornaments standing in the aisles that on October 31st held Halloween candy and costumes. In less than 12 hours the stores were transformed from Haunted Scary to Happy Merry!

But I have to ask... what happened to Thanksgiving? The poor Pilgrims have been pushed to the sidelines by Santa and Elves earlier and earlier every year. Now they don't even get their own aisle at Wal-Mart!

What does this mean? Well, in our house it means the Wish Lists will be appearing on the fridge any minute now. And one of my kids has already asked if we can put the tree up now... Ummm, can't we get through Thanksgiving first? I mean seriously do we have to rush by all the good things on the way to Christmas?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's about family, food and friendship. Commercialism hasn't ruined it... Thank God!

So as we jump headlong into the Holiday Season enjoy the Fall colors on the trees, the crisp scents in the air and Daylight Savings... without it you would leave in the dark each morning and arrive in the dark each evening... and Sundown Syndrome would be an epidemic rival only to the Swine Flu...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mortgages and Nightmares- The Same Thing?

Just when you think everything you have worked so hard for is about to happen, it doesn't.
Has that ever happened to you? Well of course it has. And it leaves you feeling down and put upon to say the least.

I have been working with our mortgage company to get our adjustable rate loan modified since January of this year. Please note I said since January. That would imply that the process is not yet complete because it isn't.

I have filled out forms no less than 4 times, over-nighted and faxed them to our account manager multiple times and made dozens and dozens of phone calls requesting return calls to no avail, have gone through 4 of the required 3-month trial payment periods to find myself still waiting.

And just when it looks like the modification is finally done.... it's not.
A new account manager, more forms to fill out, more tax forms needed, more time, more money, more stress and anxiety...

And when it is all said and done what will we have?

That remains to be seen.... I'm off to fax yet another round of forms I have already faxed to answer questions I have already answered...

Finger's crossed...just one last time?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Now IS The Time...

It's 7:30 am and the kids have gone off to school in a mad whirlwind of book bags, brown paper lunch sacks with jackets trailing behind.

There was the usual morning tug-of-war to get them out of bed and into clean clothes, fed and appropriately groomed; the endless battle of wills to get them to put on jackets or hoodies before heading out into the cold, damp foggy morning. And now that they have left, en masse, the house is eerily quiet and calm.

So now is the time for me to get some work done. I have entered into a new financial endeavor, writing ads online. So far it has earned me 53.00 and cost me about 100.00. But the ads have only been up for a few days so I am still in the learning curve thing on how to make the ads catchy enough to generate more traffic to the merchandisers site.

Now is also the time for me to do some online reading on how I can use my writing skills to add to my income. Which at this point is non-existent so it can only get better, right?

I know a lot of you out there see the 'Work From Home' ads online all the time and are leery. Well, some of them are real and seem to actually work. At least they have for me thus far.
Don't get me wrong, it takes time and a certain ability to put words into some kind of sense that will catch the attention of John Q. Public, but other than that?

Well, it seems now is the time for me to try new things and think outside of the box....
Maybe Now is Your time too!

Friday, August 28, 2009

STARTING OFF WITH A BANG!

School started this week. Not for me, the kids... Hallelujah!!! I'm up at 6am, put on coffee, make the lunches, make the breakfast, check for proper attire-- no boxers showing above the waistband and NO bellybuttons below the hem cuz yeah, I am a control freak. They get herded out the door by 7:10am and I get to sit back and relax. Isn't school just wonderful?

But wait... I get up at 6am and make breakfast and lunch for ungrateful pubescent smart mouths with funny clothes and funnier hair? Then they get to hang out with friends and learn fun stuff like mummies were embalmed with wax and puffadder poison and that Pi is not really PIE.... who knew?

And I get to get up at 6am to make them breakfast and lunch, then I get to clean up after them...

Oh, but I get to drink coffee on the front porch while watching the birds and the butterflies...
well, until it gets cold out, then I will be in the house cleaning up after them, scrubbing the floors- I love it when they can dry without foot prints, don't you?

Oh crap... once again, the grown-ups get the raw deal. We get to get up early and spend the day playing maid or heading off to work where we will, no doubt, get stuck in grid-lock or have to listen to the not-so-brilliant ramblings of a co-worker with a God-complex.

Yay!,school started this week... only 176 days to go til I can sleep in...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Family...ties that bind?

I recently took a 2 week vacation. I spent the first week with my 3 youngest children travelling to visit my sister for a few days, then going to my sister-in-law's for a few days before leaving with my sister-in-law and her kids for a 'Family' vacation on the Gulf Coast. My husband and his father joined the kids and I at my sister-in-law's home Friday evening. We then all packed up the vehicles and set out on our journey to the Gulf Coast to meet up with yet more family.
It was to be a fun-filled, action-packed adventure for the entire family! Do I sound like a commercial yet???
And in fact is was quite fun and adventuristic for just about everyone.
I was a bit distracted on several levels but had a really nice time visiting my sister before her mission trip ( and helping construct VBS craft kits) and then getting to spend a few extra days with my sister-in-law before our family vacation.
She and I had time to sit by the pool with coffee ( or wine depending on the time of day) in hand and enjoy the quiet and serenity of just being. Oh, you're wondering how I had the serenity thing going on when I was traveling with a 10,12 and 13 year old? One word- GRANDMA!
Yep- my mother-in-law took the kids on little outings during the day. A trip to the mall, to a movie, to her house to hang out and bake some cookies. What ever. She also took one or two of them to stay the night with her which made for much more peaceful bedtimes.
The money for this little vacation ( or as I like to call it VACATING my real life) was budgeted closely and I really did not want to over spend. AND my oldest daughter was expecting her first child- of course not for several weeks, but she was having some issues before I left so, Mom was worried.
We were doing really good in the budget department-able to eat out and do some little extras like mani-pedis with the girls, golfing for the guys and even a Guys Day at the spa for massages.
(And yes my husband enjoyed his!)
The kids got to go to a movie without an adult tagging along then to the pizza parlor for a little snack. Of course these are both located on the main street of the resort we were at and within our sight. But they were being given some responsibility and did really well with it.
I was able to relax and have some fun- thanks to the miracle of the cell phone.
And it seems that I was right to be worried and more than little pre-occupied.
Of course my daughter called me at 2am to let me know she was in the hospital with high blood pressure and was going to be induced- 2 weeks early. And I was 2000 miles away on the first family vacation in 11 years!
We did the labor support via cell phone and text message off and on through out the day, and shortly before 7pm my daughter gave birth to a beautiful 7.8 pound baby girl. I got the pictures on my cell phone while the adults were at dinner and the kids were at the movies. I was both relieved and upset -- thrilled to have everything be ok for baby and mom, but I was disappointed that I wasn't there when my daughter needed me. That I had missed this very important event in her life. The single most life altering and wonderful thing that can happen to a woman.
But in a way I think that my not being there was a good thing. Oh, not for me at all, but for my daughter and her husband. By not having "Mom the Nurse" in the room they had to ask questions, pay attention and work together as a team thru the contractions, the scary doctor language and the pushing and pain and WORK that is Having A Baby. And they came through with flying colors and a little girl with blue eyes and the sweetest little bow-shaped mouth... who looks EXACTLY like her mother did when she was born.
Side note: My daughter has often asked WHY I had her ugly baby picture hanging on the wall. I told her repeatedly because she was so cute. She now looks at the pictures of her infant daughter and sees her beautiful little girl. Funny how she still thinks her picture is ugly but her little girl- who looks like her clone- is precious and beautiful. She is starting to understand what I have been trying to explain all her life. She is my baby and to me is perfect and beautiful- no matter what.
Back to VACATING- the baby was born and celebratory drinks were had by one and all on the Gulf Coast, her picture on my cell was passed around the table several times, and the new aunt and uncles ( and Great Aunts and Uncle) spent the evening oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing over her and making fun of me- GrandMa. Although I refuse to be called GrandMa... I am still trying to come up with something better...
We spent the last few days of vacation relaxing pool side and shopping, then drove home. I was anxious to see the new addition to the family, and to see that my daughter was indeed doing well and being taken care of. Which she was- on both counts. And my grandbaby is perfect... well aren't they all? But she is especially more so than other babies I am certain.

Now we are back at home and back into our Real Lives... and I dream of when I can next go VACATING... and of the family here in my home, and close by. Of my sister and her family 600 miles away, of my in-laws in the place they have only recently come to realize is Home, and of my husband's brother and his family 1200 miles away- all of us living our lives day to day, all of us taking time when we can to touch base with each other on the phone, in email, via text or on FACEBOOK... we take the time to connect... to keep the ties that bind secure and intact... to keep the family together, even when we are apart.

Thinking too Hard? Or not Enough?

I will admit that in recent years I have wondered if I have missed my calling, or more so, perhaps I am being called to something more but have not yet answered...
my most fervent wish in life is that I make a difference in someone's life, that the lessons I have learned- most heartbreakingly- will be able to be turned into something helpful and positive to others...
Ok- it is time for me to go back to reading my email and stop philosophizing... or thinking so hard.
My weekend was quiet and productive. Steam cleaned an entire room, scrubbed all the hardwood and kitchen floors, cleaned out the cabinets and washed all the dishes in the back of said cabinets that were covered in dust and pollen and other... cleaned the pool then sat by said pool and read, not one, but two books.
But best of all, I got to spend the early morning hours outside enjoying the cool breezes, pale sunlight filtering thru the hazy clouds and listening to the music in the voices of the tree frogs, hummingbirds, chickadees and pileated woodpecker ( that insists on tapping away on my shingles!) and acknowledging that my wants will come when it is time (but darn it the lottery or a contract on my house NOW would be wonderful).
I am always telling my children that things happen for a reason, we just do not always understand or know the reason at that time. I also tell them that things work out the way they are supposed to, when they are supposed to. This is a lesson I have been privy to over and over again all my life, and one that I am still trying patiently to learn.
In the words of the great music legend, Freddy Mercury, I Want It All and I Want It Now!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Old Friends New Again

Through the miracle that is the World Wide Web many things have been made possible. People are able to find jobs, continue their educations, find meaningful relationships, spend money on just about anything you can imagine, sell just about anything you can imagine... and find and catch up with old friends and acquaintances.
This last is what I have found interesting in the Social Networking scheme of things. Before the WWW, Social Networking is what happened when dinner parties for the boss and co-workers were thrown by ambtitous ladder climbers; cocktail parties on Friday evenings were standard operating procedure with an open door policy to all the couples in the neighborhood; back yard BBQ's and pool parties with the parents and kids from your children's little league teams were held to celebrate another game-win or lose. These were the tools of Social Networking of yesteryear.
How is it done today? Why on Classmates, FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace of course. On these inventions from the Geeks of our youth we can seek out and contact people we once knew, or knew of, with a relative anonymity that one cannot get at a Backyard BBQ.
And with this certain guise of distance found on the WWW it seems that more and more people are opening up to those who contact them from their past, and are in turn doing the same. In the not so distant past this exercise of finding out about and then contacting someone from your past may have been considered stalking. But on Facebook or Classmates it has the appearance of just being old friends dropping in to say Hi! without actually doing the dropping in part. I have found, and been found by, more people than I can even imagine. O fcourse my friends list can be divided into several groups- School Alumni I have contacted because of the reunion I am planning this year; People from the neighborhood I grew up in , which includes classmates and those who moved before attending highschool; and people from my children's extracurricular activities like sports, DeMolay and Rainbow.
This new Social Networking has allowed me, like many others, to connect and interact with others with similar interests and shared memories, without neglecting our work and home committments. It has also been very instrumental in helping me to find my Niche in life.
I have found that I am a facilitator. I have helped others to find homes, jobs, loved ones and ones to love just by knowing them and passing along info that I think they could use- a name , a link, an email address, a job posted on a site... and I find that I like it.
Now I need a facilitator to help me sell my house and get my family moved-- no takers there I see!
Until then I will continue to contact old classmates and neighbors to pass on the Reunion and occasional get togethers that now occur on a regualr basis because of the WWW and the Social Networking found there. I will also continue to email and Facebook old friends and when ever possible, meet them face to face for some old-fashioned Social Networking. Because that is truly the best kind there is. This new fangled Facebook and Twitter and Im-ing is fine, but there just is no substitute for a Saturday afternoon filled with the laughter of family and friends- old and new- coming together to share their time and thier lives with each other. To forge the bond that makes acquaintances become true friends.
So while you are reading my blog, I do appreciate it, make sure you schedule time for a phone call or a lunch or shopping date with an old friend this week. And take the time to get know some of your acquaintances a little better... an afternoon at the mall sounds like fun, don't ya think?
You will be amazed at how easy it is to make Old Friends New Again with just a little of your REAL time spent in their company.
Go Ahead... Try It!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just Say NO!

Just say No! ... to drugs, to alcohol, to cheating, to lying, to living above your means, to judging others, to wasting resources... these are the messages we hear constantly via family, friends, media.
But there are other things some of us should say NO! to. Things we are ashamed to talk about. Things that we are afraid will make us look bad in other's eyes.
I am one of those people who should say NO! a lot more often than I do. And not to bad things...
I am ashamed to say that I should say NO! to requests from the PTA, Sports Teams, DeMolay, Rainbow, family, friends... I should, but I don't.
I teach my children that to Give of One's Self is the reason we are put on this earth. To help others when we are able, to think about the other person, or the greater good, before ourselves is how God wants us to live our lives. That if you say you will do something then come hell or high water you do it. Your word is your bond. Your Integrity is the best measure of the person you truly are. If you cannot be trusted in small things then you will never be trusted in large ones.
These are the simple truths that I base my life, and how I live it, on.
Now I have come to a place in my life where saying NO! is required more often than I want to admit, not because I am lazy or getting old or even uncaring. No, it is worse than that, for me at least. I am tired. I am literally tired of doing, going, planning, making, building, organizing, calling, begging- for the schools, the sports organizations, the youth groups, family, friends, and work. I have cut and pasted. Made phone call after phone call. Planned event after event. Often used my own money with a small hope that I would be re-paid, and more often not.
I want to say No! really, I do! But then I get a call from my Mother-In-Law. Would I go to chemo with a family friend- just to make sure he is okay on his own? Of course I can. Oh crap- I was supposed to say NO! to that wasn't I? But what if that were my loved one- husband, child, mother, father, sister, brother... alone in a world of medical terms and unknown outcomes? Wouldn't I want someone there to be with them? Isn't that what I teach my children we should do? I lead through example. My children see me volunteering, helping, giving of myself- even when I have nothing left to give. But to do otherwise would make me one of those "Do as I say, not as I do" people. That I could not abide.
And if I had said No! to sitting with a family friend while he recieved his chemo treatment I would have missed out on a wonderful, lively and intelligent conversation. I truly enjoyed talking with him about common interests, life lessons and lives we lived in the past. I gained more from him than I could have possibly given.
And that is why I continue to say YES! to so many requests for my time, energy and resources. What I gain is so often more than I can possibly give, the lessons learned, the people met, the time well spent is almost always worth any sacrifice I had to make to keep my word.
Almost.
Just Say NO!--- yes, I do say no more than I used to. I am easing into it. It is hard to change the way you have lived your life for 40-something years all at once. I think that by the time I am old and gray- okay more so than I already am- I will have this NO! thing down.
Until then, I will continue to make small strides toward that end. I will still say YES! more than I should- for my own health and welfare- but I still have children that are learning how to be good people and the only way I know to do this is by DOING what I tell them they should do.
So... please, only ask me for help if you REALLY need it... you know that I cannot
Just Say NO!... not yet anyway!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Do you ever wonder...?

Do you ever wonder why we do the things we do?
I do... and I am sure I am not alone in this endeavor. Although, I have no idea why I spend precious time wondering about these things.
I have also noted I spend time worrying about things I have no control over or cannot change.
I do not recall spending this much time on such things when I was younger- not to imply that I am older now- just that maybe I thought about what I was thinking less than I do now?
Alright, you got me. I am older. And wiser? I'd like to think so, but then that gets me thinking about things I need to remember (in case I suddenly get alzheimers or something) and the things I want to remind myself to remember ( like where I hid the cookies so the kids wouldn't find them then I forgot- they're probably stale by now anyway). Then I start thinking about all the things and people I have forgotten and that turns the wheels and the mind skids to a grinding halt reminding me of my class reunion in July ( that I am the planner of and have much to do yet) and the thought of July brings me to the eagerly anticipated birth of my first grandchild due the first week of July which brings me to... wondering when the baby will be born, who she will look like, will she be smarter than the generation that has gone before, will she be successful and happy and loved and appreciated... and why do I even spend the time wondering these things in the first place? Then comes the worry. Will she be healthy, will my daughter survive the delivery without killing her husband, will I be in town when the baby is born ( she better wait til I get back from vacation!), will she be tiny or big ( like her mother and aunts and uncles were)?
So here I am back at the beginning, again.
Do you ever wonder why we do the things we do?
My answer is no... I'm too busy wondering to actually DO anything!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's Raining... Again!

Hey there! Today is my mother's birthday. In addition to that we celebrated my oldest daughter's coming baby in the traditional way- with a shower ( how appropo is that?).
Again add that tomorrow is Mother's Day and that yesterday my oldest niece turned 16... this is a very busy week for us. Did I mention that my oldest son was 20 a few days ago and his girlfriend became the same age the day before that?
As you can see just keeping up with the goings-on in our family can be trying and quite exhausting all by itself. Now add to the equation RAIN. Yep, that lovely life-giving manna from heaven that has been falling from the sky every single day for the last 10 days without fail. Granted, not every day has been a torrential, never-ending downpour; but quite frankly many of them have. When I have made allusions to keeping an eye out for an Ark to come floating into my back yard over the last few weeks, I have been only half-joking! The rain came down so hard on Thursday the water rushed off my roof in such a volume that it completely jumped the gutters and fell like a waterfall to the garden below. Of course it continued this way for hours at a time off and on throughout the day. And again, may I reiterate, this is not the only day in the last 2 weeks it has done so.
Upon waking yesterday I was stunned to see a brilliant shining orb of such a golden hue it gave the appearance of a highway warning sign flashing across the horizon. I should have heeded it's warning. I should have realized it was indeed flashing a warning to the unsuspecting and oh-so-naive humans below. It was shouting out, " Hey You! Stop and Enjoy My Warmth cuz I Ain't Gonna Hang Around Hear All Day Long!". Man, I should have been paying attention. Perhaps then I would have spent an extra few minutes enjoying my morning cuppa joe and watching the hummingbirds and house wrens in the yard. Perhaps I would have taken the time to walk leisurely through my yard and appreciate the new green blades of grass and the patterned petals of my clematis unfurling among the emerald green vines climbing the trellis by the walk way. Perhaps, I could have done all of these things, if only I had paid attention.
When , you may ask, did I begin to notice the lovely world in which I live? When the storm clouds came rolling in and the winds forced the last die-hard blossoms from their tenuous hold on the branches of my cherry tree. That is when I looked up and realized that golden globe was obscured from vision by grey-white, slate and nearly black ominous clouds that were moving across the sky. And with them came the electrically charged air with the scent of ozone riding high and fast. Yes, only then did I stop and appreciate the beautiful day, er part of the day, that God had given me.
So today dawned bright and full of promise for a sun-drenched day full of the anticipation of the many lazy days of summer to come. I took note of this sign of spring and renewal of life. I made the time to stop and really become a part of it. I sat on the front porch with a cup of coffee ( or 3) and watched the high floating white clouds drift along. I listened to the 'Cheerio' of the cardinals and the 'thruuuuuuuuummmmm' of the hummingbird's wings as they came and went among the garden plants below me. And I made the time to thank god for his gift of another day started with such grace and beauty.
It's a darn good thing I did too! The clouds have already rolled through bringing darkness and oppressive humidity in their wake. They have opened their floodgates and poured down upon the already soaked to over-flowing earth yet more of their liquid refreshment.
Yes it's raining... again.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Remote Control

Who here knows what a remote control is?
Ok, stupid question, or is it?
There are remote controls in my home for the TV, stereo, DVD player, ceiling fan, garage door... and I am sure there are some for hubby's techie things that I have no inkling of.
However, I think that in our house we may be missing the most important remote control.
What else is there you ask?
Remote--- means what? Away or from a distance. And Control? Well it means to manage or to have exclusive handling of a thing or person. Look at the words in this way and remote control means to manage a thing or person from a distance. Remote can also mean isolated. So to manage and isolate something or someone...
In our home we are loud and active and , well a bunch of gregarious game-playing, sports-watching, competitive people. Of these the worst is probably the competitiveness, and I am the most guilty. I have always been competitive and have spent my life striving to do better, be more, exceed and succeed at everything and anything that I do.
I now have a 13 year old son who is very competitive, and like all 13 year old boys he is growing. Not just in height, but in physical and emotional ways that teen aged boys cannot adequately be prepared for. This is where the missing remote control comes in ( bet you thought I forgot what I was talking about again, didn't you?) To manage and isolate something... I think that we have not taught our son, me most especially, to manage and isolate his feelings of angst and aggression. To take hold of his competitiveness and funnel that energy and drive into less angry expressions and activities and into more focused and, dare I say it, controlled and structured outlets. And I think that I need to help him find a way to monitor his thoughts so that he does not feel that he has to suppress his feelings and try to be something he is not. Let' s face it. Being a 13 year old boy is hard, but in these times of economic uncertainty, constant peer pressure and the need for approval added to the pressure to succeed in school- from pre-k through 12th grade so you can get into a good college, excel at extracurricular sports as soon as you can walk so you have a chance to get a scholarship and the expectations that every parent has for their child to be THE BEST at everything... Who wants to be 13 again?? Really, anyone? You there in the back jumping about wildly waving your arms... you don't count because you haven't reached puberty yet!
All kidding aside, has our society put these pressures on our teen boys, or have we as 40-somethings who grew up in a time when not everyone could go to college because there was no money, or because we did not realize the good grades had to start in kindergarten or because , well I'll just say it, our parent's didn't go and they turned out fine; are we the ones who have pushed and prodded our children to become over-acheivers, with more hectic schedules than our own, with no down time to just be a normal teen ager with the normal highs and lows emotionally and physically?
In my case I will admit to expecting my son to do his best and be the best at everything he does. This is what was expected of me as a child and I fared not too badly.But, perhaps I have not taken the time to nuture his emotional side and emerging sense of self. Because he is extremely intelligent I find that I expect more from him than of my other 5 children at this age. I have done my son a disservice and I need to find a way to let him know. I also have to find a way to help him voice his feelings and to nuture him and let him grow, inside and out, into the amazing and caring and absolutely wonderful human being that I know he really is.
What prompted me to go down this road to self-awareness and acceptance of my failure ( GOD I hate that word! I hate to fail at anything, but this is the only thing that I cannot afford to fail at-- being THE BEST parent I can be) as a parent to my 2nd son. I expected him to be like his big brother and did not change this expectation as he grew, even though I knew he was a totally different kind of kid. This is my shortcoming as The Mom and I have to take responisibility for this. Again, why am I worried about this at this particular time? He has grown more than a foot and gained over 30 pounds in the last 10 months. He is as tall as I am and stronger than I had imagined. He also has a quick temper and the mouth to go with it. He has gotten into trouble at school for lashing out at other students twice this year. He needs to learn to reign in his temper and to step back, to attempt to see things from another's point of view... he needs to learn that he is not always right and that sometimes the feelings of others are so much more important than being right or being the best... he has to learn REMOTE CONTROL over himself and I think that that lesson has to start at home. And I believe that it will start by him reading this entry and seeing that evaluating ones self is important, but owning up to and changing the things you see are problems is even more so.
I think he and I have some hard lessons ahead, but I KNOW that the missing Remote Control in our house is about to be found and put to use. And I know that he can only get better and be more wonderful because of it.
Me on the other hand, I am not sure how I'll fare, so if I send out an SOS please come rescue me from an opinionated, hard-headed and stubborn young man... oh forget it, he is just like me so I will just have to deal and maybe I will learn a few things from him along the way.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I think I can't hear you

Yep- that's what I said.
I am sitting on the front porch trying to enjoy the patch of sun, unsuccessfully I might add, while watching several house wrens check out the silk plants I have hanging on the front porch for them to nest in. It saves the real plants from total destruction when the babies hatch out and tear out the roots attempting to flap their wings. I can see the little beaks moving, but I can't seem to hear them. I have been dealing with a stuffy head and clogged sinuses for far too many days now. My head feels like a medicine ball perched atop my neck and my poor nose is raw from all the tissue (read: napkins) I have gone thru the past week.
The only sound I seem to be able to hear is the rushing water sound in my ears when I tilt my and a loud Snap, Crackle, Pop when I try to clear my throat.
I sure would love it if Spring would actually catch up to the calendar. The warmth and clean air would do wonders for the allergy-induced sinus pain and pressure and perhaps would get my ears unplugged. I would soooo like to be able to enjoy the sounds of Spring this year!
Time to take some more allergy medicine and lay down for a nap before the kids come stomping up the front steps and add more pressure to my already pounding head.
Anyone know if there is a cure for loud kids? If so, please send some my way!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Home, not a House

As many of you know, our house is for sale. Anyone interested in buying it please contact me! No, seriously it is for sale and since the weather has not warmed enough for the flowers and trees to show off yet, I thought I would write a letter for potential buyers to let them know just what surprises are in store for them as the seasons unfold.
As I thought about the cherry blossoms, flowering crab apple, crepe myrtle and peach blossoms; the wisteria, trumpet vine and honeysuckle that create a living fence and attract hummingbirds and butterflies from as far away as South America thru the spring and summer; the wild butterfly bushes and magnolias that bloom mid June thru mid August and scent the air with their slightly spicy and oh so wonderful fragrances that we enjoy sitting pool side on sunny days, I realized that this is more than a house, it is a HOME.
Within these walls family and friends have found a place of security and love when they needed it. Engagements have been made; babies celebrated; graduations from pre-school, elementary school, high school and college have been rejoiced; love and life have been experienced and welcomed.
My 3 youngest children were born to this home. Having never lived anywhere else they are a little apprehensive about moving, but the prospect of living near their grandmother and cousins does help. For me moving is a chance to make life more relaxed and simple. To give us time to enjoy each other and live life the way we want to instead of living to pay the bills and keep up with the ever changing economics of our part of the country.
My hope is that the next owner of this home will appreciate the love that has been given and received here, and will find the same for their family and friends.
I know that when we move we will miss this place, but our HOME will move with us because Home IS Where the Heart Is.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

FACEBOOK.... ummm yeah I do have a life

Ok- Facebook has taken over the world... or so it seems. In recent weeks my friend list has gone from 50-something to over 150! And the number of posts I send and receive daily has quadrupled!
Why is it that one-liners and witty quips over the internet have so many people addicted?
I for one find it is easier to "connect" with people from my past with a certain air of anonymity. Yes, you remember them, and yes they remember you, but it could be awkward trying to find a common interest if meeting for lunch or at the mall after years of not being in each other's realm. But via the safety of the internet we can say things that we may not say in person, we can discuss issues with multiple people and get input and ideas that test our own sense of self without putting us "out there" where we would ultimately end up feeling foolish.
Online you can say "oops!" but in person... not so much.
I for one find that I say what I think, and feel more like myself when conversing with people online than I do in person. I am actually quite shy. I do not make friends easily and this bothers me. I also always feel like I do not quite belong, no matter the crowd. In high school I was in the band, played soccer, went to vo-tech, was in the national honor society, hung out at lunch in the smoking section... I knew people in every social clique, but I never felt as if I belonged in any of them. I did not hang out with people from school after school hours and I did not keep any friends from school after graduation. Except one. She was, and is, my best friend since the first grade. We only talk once or twice a year and she is still my best friend. That makes me sad and makes me wish I knew how to make friends in real life, not just online.
Perhaps this era of the WORLD WIDE WEB and FACEBOOK and BLOGGING will help all of those who lost track of friends and who want to make new friends. Perhaps it is not a bad thing. Perhaps, just maybe, it will help people like me to find the place where they belong and feel comfortable, not just sitting at a keyboard, but in the real world, face to face, interactions with people who have common pasts and common interests.
I can only hope that this will happen for me... either that I will have to join a 12 step program to kick the "FACECRACK" habit and will find myself sitting at home staring at the tv wondering what the rest of the world is doing... ok that's not gonna happen!
But FACEBOOK and it's ilk in moderation... sound like a good idea to me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Letting Go...

Today my almost 12 year old daughter left for a weekend trip without a family member in attendance. She is going to the Maryland Rainbow Girl Grand Assembly with 3 girls from her Rainbow Assembly. She was terribly excited and ready to be a part of the group. She, who we affectionately call 'GothGirl' needed to pack only light colored skirts, blouses and dresses - or what we call Rainbow-appropriate clothes- for the weekend. We spent ALL DAY last Saturday shopping for the proper attire and although it was not without it's minor battles, it was a fun and enlightening day. The best part was when her father saw her wearing the dress she chose for the first time. He wanted to know if bodysnatchers had taken his daughter... she laughed but was really happy that her Dad was so obviously thrilled with how she looked. Okay, realistically we know the black clothing and hair over one eye and blank stares will return, but he definately enjoyed seeing another side of her.
So off she went with her Rainbow friends for a fun-filled weekend and here I sit wondering if she will be ok alone- I mean without a family member there. I am sure she is less affected by this step toward her independence than I am, and I guess that is what bothers me most. But then I guess that is also what makes me positive that she will do well. The fact that she is unafraid to be off on a Grand Adventure and secure in the knowledge that in an emergency her family will be right there lets me know that maybe I haven't screwed up too badly raising her thus-far. If only I can keep it up through her high school years I think I will be okay... Her, I have no doubt about, me on the other hand... I can only hope I can keep letting go and giving her the chance to take these baby steps toward being her own person.