Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thankful List

Happy Thanksgiving! Today was a sad and happy day for me. Sad because it was another Thanksgiving come and gone where I didn’t get to call my mom (though I talked to her on occasion as though she was with us and spent some time thinking about her as I stared at her picture), and happy because it was a good day with my children.

For the first time ever, Jesse watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, and he got soooo excited over all the balloons and floats. He even danced around when people sang. Jen thought the parade was pretty cool, too.

For every Thanksgiving, I make two pumpkin pies. The kids got REALLY excited when they learned I was making pumpkin pie. There was a lot of ‘are the pies ready yet?” and "can we eat the pie now?" practically ALL day until it was time to eat! Drove me crazy but I had to chuckle over the whole thing.

We had a magnificent Thanksgiving Day feast. There was so much food! Not too long ago, I joked to Jennifer that the last three months of the year are “food months” because of Halloween candy in October, Thanksgiving turkey in November and Christmas cookies, ham dinner and cake in December! But, really, I know why we eat such a large meal on Thanksgiving. It was just like the Pilgrims celebrating a bountiful harvest and sharing some of their food with their native American friends who taught them how to grow the food in the first place! It is a time of celebrating bounty and a big feast represents this!

Earlier this year, Jennifer and I were saddened to learn of the passing of popular children’s author, Barbara Park. When Jen was little, she was such a HUGE fan of the Junie B. Jones books. According to her, Junie B. Jones was a Very Real little girl! She pestered me to buy all the Junie B. Jones books and even Junie B. Jones accessories. So of course we were sad to learn that the creator of Junie B. Jones died earlier this year. In her honor, we read the very last Junie B. Jones book: Junie B., First Grader, Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and other Thankful Stuff). I have never read this book but I read it today. Oh, wow, I just laughed so much and adored this book! Junie B. Jones is awesome! And she will forever live in our hearts. I am so glad I read this book. It’s funny and sweet at the same time. (And as a parent, I could relate to these kids’ outtakes because my own kids talk like that and do those things!)

I’ve been going over what I’m thankful for today in my head and of course we all shared what we’re thankful for. The Junie B. Jones book inspired me to create my own Thankful List, just like the kids in the book did. So here are the things I am thankful for.

Thankful List

1. My children
2. My family
3. My friends
4. My neighbors
5. My dog
6. Having a home to live in
7. Having warm clothes to wear
8. A garage to park my car in so I don’t have to scrape ice off the windshields on winter mornings anymore!
9. My gift of writing
10. Publishers I have worked with who are still around and keep me around, too.
11. Having a doctor who knows my family history and makes me take a hundred tests or always looks out for the SMALLEST THING even though it drives me crazy but I appreciate her for it
12. The Internet – and for the peeps on the Internet I have the privilege of knowing and networking with!
13. Freedom in our country – well, for the most part.
14. BOOKS!
15. Being able to read, let alone see.
16. The kindness of strangers, as well as kindness from anyone, really.
17. Being married to someone who has made me not regret taking a second chance and who does not oppress me, boss me around, criticize me, abuse me in any way, does not get drunk and hits the kids, does not do drugs, works hard to support the family and basically puts up with me even though I can be a real bitch sometimes. (I am not an easy person to live with.)
18. All of our vets and the soldiers still at war and in the military fighting for our country.
19. Teachers, doctors, nurses and counselors who really make an effort to help others and make a difference.
20. Living in a country where it is more acceptable to have a different religion and lifestyles or even no religion and no lifestyles than the way it used to be a long time ago.

I know that’s only 20 things, but there were 20 things on the list in the book and so I decided to stop there. But there is so much more I am thankful for. So, so much more. And despite bad things in life, I still make it a point to count my blessings and be happy with the GOOD things. The good things are the things worth paying attention to. The good things are what make me smile and think, hey, you know what? Life ain’t that bad.

A lot of people spend the month of November saying what they are thankful for. I think we should make this a habit all year round.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lunchtime, and the picky eater

It seems like it’s one of the great laws of the universe: Every child is a picky eater. Both of my kids have been in a position to receive the World’s Pickiest Eater Award, if there was one to receive! Jennifer outgrew being a picky eater. I try to make the foods she likes, but she has grudgingly eaten even some of the foods she doesn’t like. With Jesse, on the other hand, it’s like I’m going through the Food Wars all over again – and this time, it’s interfering with his ability to eat lunch at school.

Recently, I asked Jesse what he ate for lunch at school. He told me he didn’t eat anything. I asked him why and he said he didn’t know. Then I asked him some other questions in order to understand what happened, such as if he was offered any food or if he wasn’t hungry, etc. He pretty much said he didn’t get to eat while everybody else did. And he told me he wasn’t offered anything to eat! I was upset about this, of course, as was my husband when I told him. Jesse normally takes a lunch to school, but today he was not able to. So I brought up this issue to find out what was going on.

I got a response this evening – a little too late for him to get a sack lunch from the cafeteria today. But when I read the teacher’s reply, it was definitely NOT the way Jesse had told it.

According to his teacher, Jesse IS being offered food at lunchtime, but the problem is, he’s not eating it. This was why I decided to send him a lunch from home in the first place; they gave him sack lunches and he never ate any of it! The food usually went to waste, and I hate wasting food. So I started to pack him a lunch, but when I couldn’t today, I just hoped he wouldn’t go hungry today.

Well, he did, but it wasn’t the school’s fault. According to the teacher’s email, there was a tray of sandwiches, fruits and veggies available for kids who didn’t have a lunch, but Jesse only picked an apple that he did not eat.

So, the bottom line is, he IS getting food at school, but he’s just not eating it. Ugh! No wonder he always comes home from school so hungry. (I usually fix him something to eat when he gets home from school. I know what kinds of things he likes -- hot dogs, cheese quesadillas, corn dogs, chicken nuggets and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches -- all things he can't get at school. Especially the peanut butter since a child in his class has a severe peanut allergy and his classroom is a "peanut-free zone.")

The reason why I could not send a lunch with Jesse today is because we were out of juice boxes. I did not have a cold drink to stick into his lunch. But I just remembered we have bottled water in storage for emergencies, so maybe the next time this happens, I’ll just give him bottled water to take along with his food. It seems like he’s just not going to eat school lunches at this time. Maybe later, he will eat the school lunches, but it’s just not going to happen now.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

She read my mind

Yesterday, as I was reviewing the kind of books I'll be publishing next year for my publishing company, I really wished I had a novel release from my daughter, Jennifer, in that line-up. She has attempted to write novels before, but never finished one.

Yesterday, she finished one. And I am so proud of her!

I am blogging about this today because, on one hand, by the time I was able to blog about it last night, I was too exhausted to do so. I just went to bed and fell right to sleep! On the other hand, there is a follow-up to this story.

But first, let's backtrack a bit here.


I know it's National Novel Writing Month (something I've actually been struggling with, unfortunately), and people participating in NaNo take a whole month to write their novel. Jennifer wrote hers in one day! Granted, it's not 50,000 words, but it's done. It's written. She wrote it in one day! Woot!

And there's something more here that was even more awesome.

It's actually surprising to me that Jennifer actually wrote something, albeit a novel, on a day she had an eye injury. Unfortunately, she got hurt at school yesterday and her right eye got a paper cut. Ouch! But would you believe that this wonder kid still sat down at the computer and wrote a book, all while she was in pain and typing with only one eye opened?? (I eventually got her to take some Tylenol and it helped her with the pain.) She actually WROTE SOMETHING with only one eye opened! That is pretty awesome. It kinda reminds me of the time I wrote some poems even when I had to wear an eye patch for a week after I had my own eye injury (a palm frond scratched my eyeball. You can bet I didn't run too closely past a low palm tree again after that!) Or when I was in the hospital and could not write with my hands and so I recited a poem to a nurse, who wrote it down for me.

Well, fortunately, Jennifer's eye got better. She is doing much better today and won't need an eye patch, thankfully.

I am still blown away by her ability to write a book despite all that, though. She must've been VERY inspired!! She's definitely got that "creative madness" we writers are known for.

And guess what? The book she wrote is the first book in a fantasy series. She started writing the second book today. Go, Jen!!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

I have not lost my way

One thing that I like to do when I’m logged in at Facebook is to share funny, cute and inspiring photos. The photos I choose to share either reflect my sense of humor or my philosophies. Or I share stuff just to have a good laugh with others. But sometimes, I’ll see something that I’d like to share, but the one thing that stops me is, believe it or not, a typo. I mean, seriously! If a word isn’t spelled correctly, then that really bugs me! Sometimes, though, I understand typos are intentional, like for funny animal pictures, and I’m cool with that. Still, a typo will give me pause. What WILL NOT give me pause is the site the picture came from or what sort of item is being “advertised” somewhere in a picture.

I don’t post a picture just to endorse a website or a certain drink. And it really bothers me when people take issue with that. You know? It’s really dumb. And I have to say right here and now that I DID NOT post a recent photo in an attempt to say “Yay Wiccans!” I posted it for the MESSAGE that was in that photo.

Now this sort of post bothered a certain cousin of mine, who is a Christian minister. He took issue with the photo coming from a Wiccan site. (Disclaimer: I’m a Christian, NOT a Wiccan. I HAVE tried the Wiccan path before but it was not for me.) His first post on this photo bothered me, but before I responded, I asked him what exactly was the problem. You know? I just wanted to see what it was he took issue with, over something that was, I might add, on MY Facebook page and not his. So when he spelled it out, it was THEN that I responded.

My cousin’s response was, I felt, judgmental and negative of Wiccans. While I’m not going to take any sides or anything when it comes to religion, I WILL speak out against intolerance and negativity towards others. I cannot stand discrimination, intolerance, racism or judgments against others, and I will fight anyone who thinks they can get away with being negative towards me, or other people. Especially if they think they can do that on MY Facebook page.

People, that’s not what I am about. I love and respect ALL people, no matter what their religion is or their beliefs or their lifestyles. I accept people the way they are, and I will not judge them. I have friends who are Wiccans, Pagans, atheists, Christians, Catholics, Jews, agnostics and all the rest. I have friends and family who are gay, and some who are straight. And I love them all. I will not judge or be negative towards any one of them. This is their choice and I totally respect that. And you know what? They respect MY beliefs, too. That is all that I ask of them. I respect their beliefs and they respect mine.

I am not a judgmental person. I would rather show kindness, friendship, compassion and love towards someone of a different religion, rather than judgment. It is not for me to judge someone because of their faith. Only God has the right to judge.

Now, that said, yes, I AM a Christian. And you know what? I still call myself a christian even though I accept others despite religious differences – and my cousin thinks that is BAD.

I would have let this whole thing go if it had not been for what happened this morning. The whole furor over that photo took place yesterday, and I would have let it go. A new day is a new start, right? Let bygones be bygones. But, against my better judgment, I decided to have a look at my cousin’s Facebook page this morning. And I was outraged at what I saw. His most recent post was about how he thinks it’s so very, very tragic that “confessing believers” ignore the Will of God. Not only this, but he says this certain “believer” (me) has decided to “pick and choose” what we want to do in God’s name.

I was very angry about this. And I’m sorry, I love my cousin, but I had to unfriend him. I just don’t want people judging me like that.

Some people think that they know me, but they DO NOT know me. I am not the “devoted good little Christian” they tried to fashion me into. I am a more modern Christian, a "Different Kind of Christian,” who loves and accepts all. I believe this is how God would want us to represent Him to others. Show love, kindness and acceptance. Not hatred, judgments or scorn. You know, what ever happened to “love the sinner but hate the sin”? Or how about “judge not, lest ye shall be judged”?

And if I am going to be judged for being the way I am, then I don’t want those kinds of people around me. Obviously, they don’t understand me. They don’t get that I will not judge others. I have my own beliefs, and other people have theirs.

And instead of preaching to others YOUR religion or shoving YOUR religion down another person’s throat, why not try a different approach instead and show them the Word of God through actions instead of words? Actions DO speak louder than words! Let your ACTIONS be for the glory of God and in Jesus’ name, and maybe that will inspire a nonbeliever. You know? It’s just a thought.

Judging others is a turnoff. A nonbeliever would not feel so welcome to listen to what a Christian has to say if all a Christian says is ‘You’ll burn in Hell for denying God.” That just doesn’t work.

But anyway, I choose not to judge others. That sort of thing is negative and it causes drama. The LAST thing I want to do is spread hate and negativity to others! And I have a “no drama” policy on MY Facebook page. So, ya know what? That sort of thing is not welcome on my page.

I love my cousin and I’m willing to forgive, but you know, if he does that sorta thing, then I’d rather not put myself into that position anymore.

I will not pass on sharing stuff on Facebook just because of what site it comes from or what drink it advertises. And I will not adopt a self-righteous attitude when it comes to others who have a different religion. I know I’m not perfect. I know I’m a sinner. I’m not a saint. But I’m not someone who "picks and chooses’ what part of God’s Word to obey. I do not “focus only on this world.” If I was a missionary, then MAYBE I’d make it my mission to convert everybody else to Christianity. But I’m not a missionary. I am just an ordinary Christian who loves and accepts all. Let’s try and show a little love and kindness towards each other. This world is hard enough to survive. The last thing we need to do is make it harder for us all to get along. Spread love, not hate. Peace!