Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014

Yesterday was Christmas and I didn’t blog about it then but I can blog about it now. The reason why I didn’t blog about it is actually two things: I spent a majority of the day on my feet and doing stuff (except for the occasional rest) and also, I spent that day with my children. I did want to blog about Christmas yesterday, but I was not able to do so because the computer was unavailable. And I’m totally fine with that! I enjoyed my time with the children. It was good to spend the day NOT on the computer and with my family. (Though I did use my smartphone to share pictures on Facebook! Had to get those pictures out there while it was still Christmas. Actually, it was after 11 p.m. when I did that!)

We had such an awesome Christmas this year. It was just perfect. I was sad because I thought about our dog, who we were having our first Christmas without (we did go out to his grave to wish him a Merry Christmas), and some other people who were gone. My mom and others. I did light a candle for all of them, but I was still a bit sad because I missed them all.

But it was still a beautiful day.

The day started at 7:30 for me. I actually woke up at 5:30 and spent 2 hours trying to go back to sleep, but I was just too excited about the day and got up at 7:30. I took a bunch of “before” pictures and tidied up the house. I also made coffee – and enjoyed a first cup of it before everybody woke up. I also spent time texting family and friends to wish them all a Merry Christmas. Then I made breakfast: Cinnamon rolls, eggs and bacon. I think the smell of bacon woke up Jesse, because after I was done cooking, I found him walking through the hallway. When he saw me, he smiled and lifted his arms and said, “Merry Christmas!” It was sooooo cute. We woke up the others and Christmas officially began. Jennifer played Santa this year and we were excited by our gifts.

And we got some awesome gifts, too! Jennifer was thrilled to get some items on her Christmas list – Doctor Who stuff (a DVD of Season 7 as well as the Fourth Doctor scarf) and the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – and Jesse was happy to get stuff on his list too – like the Pajanimals and a VERY LARGE stuffed snake.

I also got some things from my list, too – as well as some other stuff!

Here is what I got for Christmas:

Movies (X-Men First Class, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Insidious 2 and A Christmas Carol)
New purse
2 gift cards to the bookstore (I’m going book shopping! Woo-hoo!!!)
Starbucks gift card (Thank you, Kathy!)
New poetry book
Large candle
Snow globe with a snowman in it
New book (Thank you, Millie and Allison!)
Ginormous box of chocolates
Collage picture frame
Family collage that Jen made (I LOVED it!)
Chocolate bar

But the BIG thing we got for Christmas? A new computer!! YAY!!! We were all excited and happy about it. (Well, hubby knew about it all this time because he built it, but he was pleased at how well it worked.) I am so glad we have a new computer now. I am not using it YET – I still have to transfer all my files to it – but will definitely start using it soon. It has updated software on it as well as other spiffy new things I am going to have to learn how to use. It will definitely make my researching and publishing efforts a lot easier! No more crashes, no more freezing up and no more problems getting things to work. At least, I hope not! Jesse will be happy he can play games on it again and NOW I can sign him up for some educational sites.

One of our friends came by on her way out of town and we exchanged gifts. It was nice to see them! Hubby also went with Jennifer to another friend’s house and took him cookies; he sent back a plate of homemade cookies, fudge and peppermint bark! That was awesome! (And very yummy!)

We also watched a bunch of Christmas movies throughout the day. Well, they were on the TV and we pretty much grabbed them in bits and pieces as we went about the house. One of the movies we had on was The Munster’s Scary Little Christmas. It was good without being cheesy. We also watched Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. Jesse LOVES Grumpy Cat and he enjoyed watching this movie. He thought it was awesome.

We had a ham dinner for Christmas, just like every year. The ham was delicious! We also had mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, carrots and dinner rolls. It was quite a feast! And for dessert, I made a chocolate cake.

Our Christmas this year was amazing and we were all really happy. I am so glad it went well. I am also glad I did the things this month that really showed the spirit of Christmas, like giving and helping others. When we watched the movie A Christmas Carol, the part where Scrooge said he would keep Christmas all year really made me think. If only more people thought to show the spirit of Christmas -- kindness, forgiveness, generosity and compassion – all through the year, and not just in December. Maybe that’s a thing to try for in 2015. With all the chaos, protests and murders going on in this world right now, especially during this month, let’s try to show the spirit of Christmas throughout the year for next year.

I also liked the part where Marley’s ghost said, “Mankind was my business!” This is very true. Sometimes we forget just what kind of impression we leave in this world because we get caught up with ideas like “business is business” so we treat people cruelly (and lose THEIR business!) or we get caught up in vanity and forget to judge a person for their heart or their character or their deeds instead of their looks or lifestyle or their money. Or, like Scrooge, we get caught up in wealth, or the pursuit of wealth, and lose friends, people we love and/or the REAL things and experiences that no amount of money in the world could ever bring.

Yes, that movie certainly has a lot of important messages more people should take heed to.

I am also glad I did the Christmas Cookie Run this year. Last year, I just could not do it. I had an emotional breakdown because I missed my mom so much and just cried for days. I was not up for it last year. But this year, I think my mother would have wanted me to do it. Mom would have approved. And I think in some way, she’s happy that I did that this year. I certainly missed those who were no longer with us, but I think they were there in spirit. And I certainly hoped their spirit was even more at peace knowing that we had such a wonderful day.

It was probably the best Christmas ever.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Picture with Santa

Today I took Jesse to the mall to get his picture taken with Santa. I really didn’t want to go anywhere because traffic has been crazy. When I took Jennifer shopping on Saturday, the traffic was chaos. In fact, we saw a 3-car crash on the freeway. So, yeah, wasn’t really looking forward to going out again. But Jesse really wanted his picture with Santa so I took him. I wanted to bring Jennifer along, but she wasn’t feeling well. She stayed at home and pretty much just slept. (We still have one more cookie drop-off to do, then she’s going to do her own cookie drop-off, AND we have two people left to deliver gifts to and we had hoped to get that done today but she just wasn’t up to it. Maybe tomorrow.)

Before we left for the mall, I made sure Jesse ate lunch first. He’d eaten a big breakfast this morning but I wanted him to eat lunch because I knew we’d be standing in line for a long time. I told him we would not be able to leave the line to get something to eat. After he finished eating, I instructed him to wash up and comb his hair. I didn’t want to leave too late in the day because I didn’t want to be stuck in line until the mall closed a la A Christmas Story so I made sure he got ready to go real quick.

Just before we left, I got some extra money in case the cost of the picture had gone up since last year. Gas prices may have gone down recently, but it seems like the price for everything else has been going up! So I had to prepare for that.

As I expected, traffic was insane on the way to the mall. It was crazy on the way back, too. (I almost had a panic attack when someone cut in front of me on the freeway!) When we got there, Santa was on a break and due back in 15 minutes. We got in line all the same. I kept Jesse occupied with a game on my phone, silently grateful that smartphones can have games on them AND that he can have his own account on there for his games. Jesse did get hungry while we waited in line (I don’t think that boy ever gets full!) but I assured him he could have something to eat after we got home. Finally, it was his turn to have his picture with Santa. Thankfully, the cost of the picture had not gone up. It had actually gone down by $3! Yay! I was relieved, knowing just how hard a lot of people are having it this year and that someone just barely surviving on a monthly paycheck would not have to pay an arm and a leg for their child to have a picture with Santa. I have been there so I always think about people in that kind of situation. I know how much this kind of thing means to a lot of families.

After Jesse had his picture taken, he got a free cardboard elf hat and a lollipop. He was happy about that! I was happy with the picture. It was a good one.

After we got home, Jesse had his snack and I shared his picture on Facebook. I am glad we got to do this this year. I know that kids eventually outgrow having their picture taken with Santa (like Jennifer has) but I don’t think Jesse is ready to say goodbye to that just yet.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A very productive first morning of Winter Break

Whenever it’s vacation time or there’s no school, I make it a point to sleep in. Hey, I get up EARLY during the school week to get the kids up, fed, dressed and off to school, I kinda want to grab those opportunities to sleep in when I can!

Not so this time around. The year is almost over and I need to get some things DONE! The kids may be on vacation but I am not. (Isn’t it always like that for moms?) (Isn’t it always like that for writing parents??)

Today was the first day of Winter Break and I got up right at 6 a.m. Four hours later, I took stock of everything I’d gotten done and was pretty darn surprised I’d gotten so much done in only four hours!

Here’s all the stuff I got done by 10 a.m. – AND before the kids woke up!

1. Did some bookwork (I am getting a book ready for submission next month)

2. Wrote extra stuff in said book (more spiffying up!)

3. Read emails at all email accounts (replied where needed)

4. Read the news online

5. Checked bank accounts (this is a daily habit)

6. Sent out Christmas ecards

7. Read an AWESOME short story in a new anthology I'm reviewing

8. Had my two cups of coffee (I always try to enjoy that first cup of coffee in the mornings before the kids wake up and the craziness of my day begins)

9. Ate breakfast (Yeah, I know, I should’ve waited for the kids to wake up to have breakfast with them, but I was STARVING! I did sit with Jesse while he ate his doughnut.)

So, yeah. That’s a pretty good list of stuff I got done this morning. Of course, I’ve been doing lots of other things today, too. It hasn’t been easy because I hurt my shoulder and despite an ice pack and Tylenol, it is still sore (and getting a bit too painful for me to lift my arm) but I have still gotten a lot done today. I especially got a lot done this morning, and there’s nothing more awesome than getting the day off to a very productive start!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Five good deeds

Every December, I try to do at least one good deed. This particular deed must capture or represent the spirit of Christmas in some way. I always try to include the children in this act, because I want them to grow up feeling compassion for others and to have a giving heart. Giving to charity is so important to me, especially during the holidays, and I want the kids to understand that this is an important time of the year to remember other people who are not as fortunate as they are and to give in some way to help others. I also want them to know that Christmas is an important time to let the people we are close to know just how much we appreciate them, appreciate all they do for us and give something to them in return.

Up until this year, it was usually one or two good deeds we did. But this year, we are blessed with having done five good deeds in helping others for Christmas.

These are the good deeds we have done thus far:

1. Participated in the food drive
2. Gave to a charity
3. Helped a family for Christmas
4. Took cookies to our friends (still doing that!)
5. Gave Jesse’s teacher a Christmas gift

I wanted to also give a toy to the Toys For Tots program but totally forgot about it then I kept missing it when they held it somewhere.

But at least we got 5 good deeds done for the month.

If I ever find out about a Toys for Tots drive going on somewhere close by, I’ll definitely make it a point to get out there! I hope it’s not too late. But if it is, I will look into something similar.

And it looks like we’ll be doing another good deed for the month, too: My neighbor is leaving town until after Christmas and has asked us to keep an eye out for any packages being delivered to her porch. She is worried about them being stolen so we’ll be holding onto her packages for her until she gets back. We are happy to help.

Yay for doing good deeds!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Christmas miracle

At the beginning of each month, I put together a budget plan to manage my finances. This plan covers rent and the first week of groceries for that month, as well as school-related payments, other assorted monthly payments and gas for my car. My husband and I both have a monthly income, so he takes care of the other monthly expenses. This plan has worked well so far, except that it didn’t really allow for any “surprise expenses.” (That will change once I start using a new budget plan next year.)

And that was a problem for this month, because, yeah, a "surprise expense" did come up.

Earlier in the month, I was thrown into a group activity: A “secret Santa” fundraiser for a friend. Basically, there was a call put out for donated gifts (toys for the children) and money the family could use for Christmas presents. I wanted to help, but I just hadn’t set aside any money for this type of thing. The money I DID have set aside was for the Christmas Cookie Run that my daughter and I will be doing soon, but not for this. So I was pretty bummed about that.

I shared this situation with my husband and Jennifer. They decided to donate their own money to this cause. I was so touched they wanted to help out a complete stranger so that she could have a nice Christmas for her family, it brought tears to my eyes. I was just so moved.

So once they handed over their money, I made the donation to the Secret Santa fundraiser. I was just so happy that we were able to help this family. Coming from a large family where my parents struggled to buy us gifts every Christmas, and one Christmas when a whole fire department “adopted” us and got us gifts, I know just how much it means being a kid and receiving the generosity and kindness from strangers. I know, Christmas isn’t about the presents and it’s more about being together as a family, but when you’re a kid and it’s Christmas, it’s still nice to find a present just for you under the tree.

I am glad my friend’s children will be able to do the same.

(Sidenote: I want to mention the fundraiser ended today and the coordinators reached their goal and raised over $1,000 for this family. Yay!) 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The forgotten appointment

School mornings are always hard for the kids. No matter how I try to get them into bed by their bedtime or how much sleep they get, they’re still really tired in the mornings. We are just NOT morning people! But I get up early, and they get up early, on the school mornings because, yeah, they’ve got school, and I’ve gotta take them to school.

This morning, however, both of the kids were just really, really tired. They seemed to have no energy. Jesse ended up being late for school and Jennifer was going to be late, too, except for something that happened that sorta kept her from going to school at all today.

Earlier this year, I had made an appointment for Jennifer’s annual eye exam. At the start of this month, I knew her appointment was … sometime this month! But I couldn’t remember when. I usually write all the appointments on the bedroom calendar (and the kitchen calendar, if they are school-related). But I didn’t see the appointment for her eye exam on my bedroom calendar.

I’d forgotten to write it down on the calendar. Argh! And I couldn’t remember where I’d originally written down the info about her appointment. Perhaps some random scrap of paper. So I made a mental note to check the one drawer we have that contains scrap paper, on the chance it would be there.

Now back to this morning. Jennifer told me she was low on energy and she wasn't able to get ready for school fast enough and I ended up getting her to school late. So there we were, in the school parking lot, and she asked me to write her a note for being late. I keep a small notebook of paper in my purse so I pulled it out to write her a note. After I wrote the note and tore it out of my notebook, I saw something familiar on another page of that notebook: Some notes I’d made about Jennifer’s LAST eye exam! I hurriedly opened the notebook to that page and, sure enough, there was the info on her appointment. Her appointment being on December 11th. Then I thought, Hey, wasn’t yesterday the 10th?

I asked Jennifer what today’s date was. She checked her phone and said it’s the 11th. I freaked! I said, “Oh, my God! Jennifer, you have an eye doctor appointment today!”

She tensed in her seat and asked what time her appointment was. I told her what time, which was before she’d get out of school and, like, a few hours from then. She did a double take and looked at me with alarm. “Mom!!”

It was pretty clear she wasn’t going to school today now, after being so late and hardly having much time to be there since I’d have to pick her up early for her appointment.

As I drove her home, I tried to lighten the mood. “Well, at least you’re dressed. And we got to go for a nice drive.”

She stared daggers at me. As if she was saying, “Grr! WHY DID YOU WAKE ME UP FOR SCHOOL WHEN I DIDN’T HAVE TO GO??!!”

I am just glad I found out when her appointment was and that I got her there on time. Even if it wasn’t exactly a good way to find out.

Next time, I gotta remember to put these things on the calendar!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Waking up with laughter

One thing that often happens after I go to sleep is that I will wake up at 3ish and get out of bed for water (usually in the form of bottled water). I guess I get a bit dehydrated in my sleep.

But that wasn’t why I woke up at 3ish this time around. This time, this morning, I woke up laughing.

Apparently, something happened in my dream that was so insanely funny, that not only was I cracking up about it at the end of the dream, but I woke up laughing. And I lied there in bed, still laughing about it. (I also hoped I wasn’t going to wake up the kids with the sound of my laughter!)

The thing that happened in the dream, it was, like, the third “scene” of my dream.

First, I was working at this aviary. Somehow or another, I had this extensive knowledge about birds and was sharing it with people who visited the aviary. (Wow, I guess my “Birds” board on Pinterest is having an affect on me!) At one point, I was called to fix pipes in another part of the building. As I was walking to that part of the building to do that job, where there was a netted roof over the walkway, it started raining and I got soaked.

Then, in the next scene, I was outside of this house I had been journeying to. I was standing at the front door, knocking. It was dark and it was raining. (More rain in my dream!) Someone living at the house opened the door and I collapsed inside, drenched from the rain and out of breath because my journey had been so long and physically draining. And while I was on the floor, catching my breath, the person who opened the door, along with his family who gathered around, kept asking me, “What’s wrong?”

Then in the final scene – the one where the funny thing happened – I had Jesse with me and we met with my mom. Then my grandmother showed up. We sat down to have coffee (Jesse drank something else). (I have had a dream like this before, where my mother and I would be sitting at this table, drinking coffee and talking. I miss my mother so much but it’s always a nice comfort when she visits me in my dreams. Same thing when I see my grandmother.) Jesse struck up a conversation with my grandmother. At one point, he told her something funny. At first, I was trying to hide my laughter, but my mom saw this and gave me a look like she was saying, “Settle down. We’re trying to have coffee.” But, oh, I just lost it. I started cracking up over what Jesse had said. He had said this thing in complete innocence, he was talking about chickens, but, well, put another way, it was just hilarious. I laughed so hard in the dream and, yeah, I was still laughing when I woke up. (Sorry, Mom and Grandma. Let’s have that coffee another time!)

Well, it took me a while to calm down from that dream. A LONG while. I was laughing about it in bed and still laughing after I got up to get some water. And I was STILL laughing about it when I went back to bed. (I’m laughing about it now as I type this! It was just too funny.)

I am glad that this happened. Sure, it disrupted my sleep, but it sure gave me a good laugh. I went to bed feeling all depressed and sad last night so I’m glad I was able to wake up smiling and filled with laughter.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


This evening, while I had some time to kill, I spent it browsing on Pinterest. I was checking out pins posted by the people I follow. One pin caught my eye. It was a picture of a thin, dirty and scruffy cat lying on a curb, apparently asleep. The cat was obviously underfed; it looked like it was starving. My heart went out to that poor cat.

Then I read the words on the picture:

"I didn't mean to scratch your kid.
If he wasn't pulling my tail all the time maybe I'd still be living at home.
Now, I am dirty and hungry."

At the bottom, it read:

"Ignorance Is Intolerable."

This made me pause. It brought back a memory from my childhood.

When I was a little girl, we had a dog named Skippy. A Cocker Spaniel. We LOVED Skippy. He was so friendly and lovable.

Well, most of us loved him. One of us, my younger brother, was cruel to him. Every single day, he pulled on Skippy’s ears and hurt him in some way. Yes, he intentionally hurt the dog. He thought it was funny or he found some kind of amusement in it. We would try to protect Skippy and keep him from my younger brother, but my younger brother always found a way to get to Skippy and hurt him some more.

And my parents did nothing about it. Nothing! It should be said that my younger brother ALWAYS got away with everything his whole life. He was loved more than we were. He was always Number One. The More Important Child.

And it should also be said that he later went on to kill two cats – one that belonged to me, one that belonged to my sister. In fact, he arranged it so I would see my dead cat.

Well, anyway. Back to Skippy. As I said, we LOVED Skippy, except for his tormentor. Day after day, poor Skippy took this kind of abuse from my younger brother.

Until, finally, he’d had enough. You know how it is when someone, even an animal, is tormented for years, bullied or abused or tortured, then one day snaps back at his tormenter? That is what Skippy did. He’d had enough of my younger brother’s treatment and he bit him.

Of course, my younger brother ran crying to my parents, saying that Skippy had intentionally bit him. He claimed he’d done NOTHING wrong. That he was just playing with the dog.

And my parents believed him.

We tried to tell Skippy’s side of the story, though. We tried to explain that my younger brother had hurt Skippy, had BEEN hurting Skippy, and that was why he bit him.

But they didn’t listen. They didn’t care. In their eyes, Skippy was an Evil Dog. A Very Bad Dog.

A dog that had to be destroyed because it had bitten a child.

So they had Skippy taken away to be put to sleep. I still remember standing outside of the truck, at the cage Skippy was in, crying as I said goodbye.

And I hated my younger brother for that. We blamed him for Skippy’s death. We were all mad at him.

Skippy had taken the abuse, the pain and torment from my younger brother for months. And when he finally fought back against his tormenter, he paid for it with his life.

Remembering this made me really sad. I still miss Skippy and I still felt anger over the whole thing. But I also felt anger over something else: The fact that my parents did NOTHING when one of their children was hurting a dog.

Why? Why didn’t they do anything?

Why did they never teach him to be kind to animals?

In thinking on this some more, I realized that if my parents HAD intervened, then maybe that wouldn’t have happened and Skippy would not have had to lose his life in such a horribly unfair way.

Ignorance is NEVER tolerable. It should never be put up with. Animal abuse is a horrible thing, and cruelty towards animals is just as horrible. There is nothing funny about hurting an animal. There is nothing funny about tormenting an animal and making it suffer from horrible abuse. There is nothing entertaining at all about hurting animals.

We need to encourage people to be kind to animals. We need to teach our CHILDREN to be kind to animals. Allowing children to hurt and abuse animals for entertainment or for some sick desire to see an animal suffer is not only irresponsible but heartless.

Please be a voice for the animals and stop animal cruelty. Please step up and stop someone from abusing an animal or hurting an animal. Tell them to stop. Tell them it is wrong. And, if it’s your child, TEACH him it is wrong.

Animals don’t have a voice. WE are their voice. We are the ones who can help them. Don’t turn a blind eye to animal cruelty or animal abuse. Please, put a stop to it. Right now. Be their voice. Be the one who can save them, because they are not able to save themselves.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful on Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving, a day set aside to be thankful for what we have. I take time to be thankful for things every single day and for today, on this blog, I will share them.

1. I am thankful to for my husband, Jason. He has shown me what love really is. He has loved me no matter what. He is a very supportive husband and he’s a good father to the children. He is a good husband to me. I never thought I’d fall in love with him all over again. Never thought I would feel love for anyone again. I am fortunate to have a husband who is patient, kind and always at my side. He is not abusive, he is not addicted to anything, he never says cruel things to me and he is patient in explaining things when I don’t understand them. I am glad I was strong enough to give him another chance. That’s what you do for someone you love.

2. I am thankful for my children, Jennifer and Jesse. God has definitely blessed me with these kids. Jennifer is so smart and beautiful. Jesse is so energetic and fun-loving. I love my kids from the bottom of my heart. They are my life!

3. I am thankful for members in my family who I still have a good relationship with, as well as those who I did NOT have a good relationship with in the past but who I get along with now. Here again, I’m reminded of the power of giving someone another chance. These people have definitely made a turn for the better in their lives and I’m proud of them for coming so far in making a positive change.

4. I am thankful for my friends – my REAL friends who are not fakes. These people have shown they want to be in my life and they are always there to talk to and offer support or just some random comment. I am grateful for these people in a very big way. As someone with scars, I was bullied at schools and did not have a whole lot of friends. So I understand just how valuable friendship is. I know just how lucky I am to have these friends. They are awesome!

5. I am thankful for my readers – everyone who has read my work, shared comments and posted reviews. I am thankful to everyone who has bought and read my books. You guys rock!

6. I am thankful that there are medical professionals who have been and still are in my life and who care about me and my health, as well as that of my children. I know I complain about them sometimes and roll my eyes over their suggestions but I am thankful they are taking the time to help and provide medical care.

7. I am thankful for the families of my kids’ friends. Most of them are my friends, too. I am thankful they are so kind and welcoming with my kids. I am thankful that they are still a part of my kids’ lives despite a change of schools or change of address. I am glad they have friends who watch out for them!

8. I am thankful for my gift to write. I may not be one of those writers who are making millions from their work or who are so rich and famous, but I don’t care about that. I don’t want any of that, anyway. I just want to write. I am thankful there are publishers out there willing to publish my work. I am thankful to the editors I have worked with who have helped me to make my work better. I am so very thankful that I can enjoy writing and also to get my work published. But even if I didn’t get published, I would keep writing, anyway! That stuff is hard to turn off.

9. I am thankful for the Internet. Yes, it must be said! The Internet has made it possible for me, a deaf writer, to work and also find work (not necessarily a help to the deaf, but even so). I am thankful that I can use the Internet to communicate with people, network with people and stay in touch with family. I also get to read the news on the Internet, find recipes on the Internet and do research on the Internet. It’s also nice that, because of the Internet, I can blog.

10. Last but never least, I am thankful to God. I know I have issues with religions, but I will never, ever turn my back on God. I will always believe in God. And I thank God for never abandoning me. Thank you for this life, God. Thank you, God.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Harvest Celebration that wasn't

There is something I am known to say from time to time: “Every time I try and freaking DO something!!”

This is usually after I DO try to do something but it just DOESN’T happen. It doesn’t pan out the way I had hoped. They way I had wanted it to. And there’s not a damn thing I can do to fix it, either, because it remains permanently screwed up.

Yeah. Those.

I know, they happen to everybody. And it’s really frustrating when it happens to me, too, ya know? Sometimes even painful.

And the keyword here is “painful.” Because, once again, I tried to do something for someone and that Did Not Happen and he ended up getting hurt. I was hurt, too, but this particular person is my baby and his hurt is my hurt, too.

This particular person is my son.

This year, Jesse would have been able to enjoy his first Harvest Celebration at school. This is when parents are invited to have a Thanksgiving-style lunch with their child and play with them in the playground during recess. I went to all of Jennifer’s Harvest Celebrations when she attended that school, save one, because I was sick one year. But I went, and I wanted to be there for Jesse’s first one, too. He didn’t get to participate in the Harvest Celebration last year because he was going to kindergarten part-time, so they didn’t have it for his class.

But they had it this year. And, oh, I wanted to be there. I really did.

But I wasn’t able to be there to enjoy it with him. And now I feel pretty rotten about it.

What happened was, they gave a time on the “Harvest Celebration” paper when it was supposed to be held. I marked that time down on the calendar. When I dropped Jesse off at school this morning, I reminded him that I would see him at that time. He told me they don’t have lunch at that time, but at a later time. I thanked him for that info and he was off to school. I drove away excited about our “lunch date” later, thinking of how much fun we’ll have at the playground during recess.

Still, I wanted to double-check on that time. I just wanted to be sure it really was going to be at the time that Jesse said.

I tried to call the school this morning to find out, but the computer I use is REALLY messed up and having a lot of problems, so I was not able to use Internet relay. (This is why I have to back off on doing some Internet things on the computer, because it is just in really, really bad shape.) So I emailed one of the secretaries at the school, praying she would get my message. (I really don’t prefer to communicate with the schools through email so much anymore because sometimes I never get a reply and I don’t know if they ever got my message. Sometimes, they don’t.) This was an hour and 20ish minutes before the time on the paper that the Celebration was supposed to be at. Thankfully, I DID get a reply and was told it was actually at a later time. I thanked the secretary for that info then went off to do other things.

I didn’t get back to my phone until about 45 minutes before the time I was told the Harvest Celebration would be at. Only to find a message from the OTHER secretary, about 10 minutes after the original time, that it had already started, and if I jumped into my car to go there now, I could still join Jesse.

But by then, of course, it was too late. I was SO upset. What bothered me most was the disappointment that Jesse must’ve felt over me not showing up. God, he must’ve felt so left out! Seeing the other kids with their parents there, and him without his mom or dad there.


I just really, really felt so upset over it. I wanted to rush to the school, grab Jesse into a big hug and tell him how sorry I was that I missed it and that I’d make it up to him.

I know I can’t have a second chance on this. He won’t be able to look back and remember how his mom was there with him for his first Harvest Celebration at his school. The whole thing just sucks. It really sucks. And I feel bad about it, too.

So, Jesse, I am really sorry I wasn’t there for you for your first Harvest Celebration at your school. I’m sorry you didn’t have your mom or dad with you for that special event. I really wanted to be there with you. I didn’t want you to feel left out. You mean so much to me and I love you so much and I wouldn’t have tried to miss it on purpose. I didn't want to hurt you or upset you. I know it would’ve made you happy if I had been there. And if you’re happy, then I’m happy, too.

Sometimes, life just doesn’t work out the way we want it to. It’s a fact we all have to live with.

I wasn’t there for you this time, but I promise I will be there next time. The worst storm in the whole world won’t keep me from showing up to be there with you. Next time, I’ll get the EXACT time of when it’s supposed to be and the EXACT location of where I can find you. I will be there. Just look for me.

Friday, November 14, 2014

From giving up to trusting again

Last night, I had this whole “defeatist mood” come over me. But before we get to last night, I need to back up just a bit. For some time, I have been trying to make a couple of things happen. With one thing, it’s slow going, but I know if I keep at it, I will eventually get to where I can do this thing that I want to do (which is to run in – and complete – a race by myself, without help, because the last time I ran in a race, my coach had to help me finish it!). With the other thing, though, I have faced some hurdles. Hurdles like, fear. Uncertainty. Insufficient funding. That sort of thing. But I really wanted to make this other thing happen (the publishing company), so I didn’t give up on it.

And last night, you know, I just had it. I’ve been trying so hard and for too long to make it happen and it just very likely will not happen. And even as I decided well, you know, I’ll try another tactic, I sort of felt pretty defeated and just didn’t want to keep trying anymore.

And I was thinking about this a lot last night. I started thinking about all of the other times I’ve tried to make a dream come true – like with landing a GOOD agent with one of my novels and getting the book placed with a major publisher (I have had 2 bad agents so far and I really don’t think I have the energy anymore to try a third time) or how I want to have something of mine published in one of the glossies (I came VERY close with that one!) – and of how that never happened. And at this point, I just don’t care anymore. I am at the point where I am willing to give up on those dreams.

Just as I have given up on other dreams…..

Then I thought about an article I sold some months ago, about how you should never give up on your dreams. And how I’ve been able to make a few of my dreams come true.

Yes, I have made some of my dreams come true. I do want to try to accomplish my goals. I’m not the kind of person who’s just going to float aimlessly through life, doing nothing. I want to DO stuff! So, yeah, accomplishing my goals has been important to me for some time. And I’ve spent many years trying accomplish some of them.

But as I got lost in thought last night, I was thinking about the ones I have not yet accomplished. And I was asking myself, am I really willing to try again? For all of them?

Not really. And I just thought, 'Screw it! And screw them, too!'

I just decided it was time to walk away from those dreams. Just abandon them, give up on them, and focus on other things.

And that’s the kind of attitude I had on Twitter last night! In one of those “ellipses-ending tweets that are actually a looooong statement” that I have often used.

Then I logged off and sat down to enjoy a novel I have been reading all week. I’d made my decision about things and thought that was the end of it.

But maybe that wasn’t the end of it. Because this morning, as I was logged in at Facebook, I saw this quote a friend shared that said, “Let go and trust the universe.” I shared it on my page but amended it to read, “Trust GOD.” (Because I trust in God, not “the universe.” Some people think “the universe” is God, but not me!) And that quote just really stuck with me. What good timing for me to see it! It got me thinking that maybe I DON’T need to abandon those dreams I’ve struggled to make come true. Maybe I just need to let them go and give them to God. Let God handle them. So I prayed this morning, “Okay, God, I’m going to give these impossible dreams to you. If they are meant to happen, they will happen. And if not, then not. And I’m totally okay with that. I accept that.”

I just let them go. Just threw them up to God to see if He decides whether or not a dream is meant to come true.

And I know they say that the Lord helps those who help themselves, but, dammit! I’ve been TRYING to make these things happen myself! I have tried for soooo long and I am at the point where I just don’t want to try anymore. I just don't have the energy anymore. Let God decide if they should be a reality or not. I’m giving Him the steering wheel!

Meanwhile, though, I’m going to work on those other goals. That race! Yes, that is still on my to-do list for the year. I know, it’s almost winter, and that’s terrible weather to run in. But I definitely want to keep at this one. This is the year I will do that! And maybe some other things, too. We shall see. At least I’ll give them as much time and energy as I can to make them a reality. And if I get to the point where I just can’t keep trying anymore? I’ll let go and trust in God.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Pinterest boards

Not too long ago, I signed up at Pinterest. Some people I knew were using it so I decided to get in on that, too. It's been something of an addictive pastime for me. I started using Pinterest just to kill time when I added it to my smartphone but lately it's been hard to resist. So far, I have managed to take care of my other responsibilities and use Pinterest at least once a day (because I have found if I miss a day, there's a TON of new pins I'll have to wade through when I log in again), but lately it's been pretty hard to STOP pinning. Ack! It's getting addictive. I will have to nip that in the bud eventually, because I have too much else going on!

The boards I have on Pinterest either reflect things I am interested in, things I am researching and things that I love. I love lighthouses, so I have a "Lighthouse love" board. Doesn't mean I live in a lighthouse! (Though that would probably be neat!) And I love baseball, so I have a "Baseball love" board (which also includes softball stuff, as a nod to my cousin, the minor league softball player). And I love horses – though I DO NOT own horses or have any horses or see horses at all in my everyday life. But I love horses and so I have a board called "Horses." Decided not to call it "Horse love" because, well, that doesn't sound right. And it's just a kooky way of describing a form of love, methinks. I created the "Horses" board because, one day, I was browsing my "Animals" board and I realized that, gosh, I sure had a lot of horse pins! So, just as I did with the cat pins, I created a board just for the horse pins!

I have a Pinterest board called "Book love" that includes books I have read and loved. As well as anything about being a bookworm, libraries, a blibliophile and cool ways to store books or have a reading corner. I LOVE books!!

I also have a board called "Books I wanna read." These are books I don't have but wanna read.

After seeing some pins, maybe I should make a board that's called "Books I own AND wanna read.... eventually." Because I see pins of books that I have but have not read YET. I will read them soon, though. One book at a time.

And this is me on Pinterest.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Back to jumping in and out of my car!

On Friday, I happened to notice that the tags on my car expired the next day. I would’ve gone out to the DMV then and there to renew my tags, except that they were renovating the Eugene office and it was closed. I just didn’t have the time to go to the one in Springfield. So I was without a car over the weekend. On Monday, in late afternoon (as waiting at the DMV for HOURS usually goes), I had new tags on my car again. Yay! I could drive again!

And I was driving around last night to take care of a few things I couldn’t get done over the weekend. It felt GREAT to be driving again! (As much as I complain about having to constantly jump in and out of my car for some errand or another, I DO love to drive!)

But this morning, I was really starting to wonder if driving again was actually a good thing.

I had remarked on Facebook about how it was nice that I won’t have to deal with idiot drivers at the school parking lots for one day out of the week (yesterday). Well, as it happens, the first day I’m driving the kids to school again, I had to deal with one of them!

When I got to Jesse’s school this morning, I was in the parking lot behind another driver, who was giving someone room to pull out of their spot. I turned just to see a driver backing out of their spot – and almost right into my car!! I screamed and honked the horn at the same time. Thank God they stopped – if not, they would’ve hit the side of the car my son was sitting on!

The whole event was terrifying but, poor Jesse, he was scared to death. He sat there with his eyes and mouth open wide. We definitely gave each other a bigger hug than usual before he got out of the car and went into school!

Well, despite THAT incident, I kept driving today. I had more errands to run!

By the time it was dark and I thought I was in for the day, and just as I was about to relax for the night, I remembered that I promised I’d do something for Jennifer today. Hadn’t done it YET! I was tired from running around and it was already dark, but I decided to do this anyway. I told her I would do it, so I was going to do it! (Get a piece of her art she wants to enter in a contest scanned. A scanner is at the top of my Christmas list!) So I told her to help out with her brother, as her dad was in the bedroom sick, and I’d return shortly with her scan.

When I got to Office Depot, however, I noticed a big sign on the building: “Moving Sale.” Hmm, I thought, they’re moving? I hurried through the sprinkling of rain with Jen’s picture against my chest (didn’t want to get it wet!) and went inside to find a store stripped of practically almost everything. Wow, what a sight to see.

I also happened to notice the sign saying some Office Depot services were unavailable due to the pending move. I asked about the move and picked up a flyer with the new store location on it. And, unfortunately, scanning was not available because of the disassembling of equipment. (They are moving in 11 days!) I happened to notice a lot of stuff marked down and nodded in understanding. It was less stuff they’d have to pack if they could get rid of it! One of the items marked down was 500-sheet packages of paper. It was only $1.09!! Cool! I grabbed a couple (one for each of my kids) and paid for them. As I walked back out to the car, the drizzle was starting to turn into serious rain business. I clutched Jen’s art against my chest again and looked for my car.

Wow. I had the foresight to park all the way at the end of the parking lot!

I rolled my eyes and grumbled to myself Brilliant! as I hurried to my car. After I got in the car, I pondered what to do next in getting Jen’s picture scanned. I could go to the Kinko’s/Fed Ex store, but the last time I went there to get something scanned, the technician did a poor job because the scanned picture had the black bar faintly showing in the background. I really didn’t feel like driving downtown for a botched scan job! I would think of something.

I didn’t get Jen’s picture scanned, but at least I scored a sweet deal on paper. Nice way to end the day!


The day after I posted this, I arrived at Jesse's school parking lot to find more school staff out there monitoring traffic (including the principal!) and more traffic cones set out. I felt A LOT safer driving through the parking lot because of these efforts! And it continued for the rest of the week, too. I am so relieved. It is a lot better now to get through all the traffic in dropping off and picking up of my son at the school. Also, on Thursday, Jesse forgot his jacket when school let out so we went back to the school and I instructed him to go through the special walking area they have set up on the parking lot that is just for people and it was safer for him to go this route to get to the school building from the parking lot. I just don't feel safe having him walk by himself through the parking lot when there are all these cars around. Well, he did this both ways and it was a lot safer for him. So from now on, I am going to try to park next to one of these two walking spaces and he can SAFELY walk to the school building without the danger of being hit by a car. I just hope drivers will remember to look behind them AND check their mirrors before pulling out of their parking spaces so they don't hit anyone behind them.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A conference, eye exam and a virus

It’s that time of the year again: Parent/teacher conferences. My conference with Jesse’s teacher was this morning and the next one I have is with Jennifer’s teachers, which will be next month.

But before I could get to the conference this morning, I had something else I had to take care of first.

Yesterday, Jesse started coughing pretty bad. It was a deep chest cough. When I noticed that he also had sacks under his eyes, I immediately thought it was his allergies acting up again. (I once read this book about “everything you need to know about allergies” and it said that sacks under the eyes is one of the symptoms of allergy attacks. It even had a picture of what it looks like and Jesse had the same thing.) However, I wasn’t too sure if it was his allergies, because we’ve been having so much rain. His allergies usually flare up in the late spring and summer but I read that people with seasonal allergies can also have allergy problems in the Fall. I considered it a strong possibility but discussed it with my husband first. Jesse was also having some nasal congestion and just feeling yucky. No fever. So I talked it over with him and he said it’s probably not allergies. All the same, it was decided I should call his doctor to schedule a time to bring him in.

So I took care of that before heading off to the conference at his school. They said to bring Jesse in that morning, but the problem was I would not be back from the conference in time to take him. So hubby had to take him to the appointment.

Then I headed off to Jesse’s school for the conference. It went okay, though there were some distressing things his teacher had to share with me. Mostly behavioral problems. After I left, I was pretty bummed about it. When I later told my husband everything that was shared, he was pretty upset, too.

Also last night: Jennifer had informed us that she was having trouble seeing the board in one of her classes. I was not sure if she’d already had her eye exam for this year but hubby and I think she probably needs new glasses. I made it a point to check in with her eye doctor today and I did that after I returned home from both the conference and a visit to Jennifer’s school after she had texted me about something she needed my help with ASAP. I called the eye doctor’s office and it turns out Jennifer has not had an eye exam for TWO YEARS!! Yikes!! She’s supposed to have one every year. Wow, I really failed on that one. (And I started to wonder if I should check in with when Jesse needed his, too.) So I made an appointment for her eye exam and they’ll see her in December.

As to Jesse, it turns out he has a virus. Nothing serious. The doctor said to just give him cough medicine and limit his time of outdoor play until he is better. I think it might be prudent to limit his exposure to other kids, too.

So the first half of this day had its downsides. I am just glad we have those things sorted out and can move forward in taking care of them.

Monday, October 27, 2014

When "I wish I could do what you do" works both ways

Earlier today, while I was commenting on a friend’s blog, I paused before adding a link to my website. This particular friend has often shared with me how she has been inspired by my work in getting so many books written then published. As I pondered adding a link to my site just then, I felt a tinge of guilt, as though my including that site would remind her of all those books I’ve been involved with (either authored or co-authored) since they are on that site. I often tell people “it’s not always going to be like this” because that is true. Things change. Life changes. I may have books removed from the market. Or, I may stop writing and publishing books like crazy because I’ve moved on to other things and want to slow down with the writing. (That is actually happening right now – more on that change later!) But the truth is, I’ve done it, it’s there for all to see, and in the meantime people have either commented or grumbled over this accomplishment of mine.

I won’t feel guilty or regret having accomplished my writing goals thus far (well, except for two goals not yet met!), but I do feel bad when people get upset over it when I talk about it. I’m not TRYING to rub it in!

But at the same time, going back to my friend, I look at what SHE has done with her work and I get all wistful, too. If she were to say something like "I wish I could do what you do," then I would say, "Me?? What about YOU??!" My friend is a professional artist but I suck at art. She has sold her art while mine has been the object of many jokes. She has been successfull in managing her finances and keeping to her family budget while I have been stumbling along to do just that – and meanwhile draining my wallet every time I buy groceries! This particular friend has sold enough of her work to have to pay taxes, while with me, it’s not so much. (This year has actually been better in earnings for my writing, but my friend does well with sales Every. Single. Year.) Plus, my friend gets to have visits with family members but I haven't seen my family for years.

So, you see, we each have things about each other that we wish we could do ourselves. My friend wishes she could write so many books and get them published and I wish I had my friend’s financial smarts and sales success. (And being able to draw better wouldn’t hurt, either!)

Thinking on this, I realized that this could be the case with a lot of people. One person might say “I wish I could do what you do” and the other person would say “I wish I could do what YOU do!” 

We each do our own thing. We each have our own skills, our own talents, our own schedules and interests. There’s nothing wrong with trying to be like someone we admire, but I think that when you instead focus on what YOU are good at and what YOU can do, and what YOU want to accomplish in life, you’ll find there’s actually a lot more to take pride in rather than wishing that it was in the form of someone else’s life. Who knows? Someone might notice what you're doing and start commenting how they wish they could do that, too.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jesse's 7th birthday

Today my youngest child, Jesse, turned 7 years old. Yay! All month we’d been trying to figure out what to do for his birthday (like we did the month before Jennifer’s B-day!) but he knew one thing: He wanted to have his birthday party at home. That was a good start!

But while the party was going down today, I began to question this decision. Only 3 of Jesse’s friends showed up for the party, and the four boys were pretty much undecided on what to do. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any games or activities planned. But they eventually came up with games to play on their own. Because it was raining, they had to play inside. Which pretty much meant there was a bit of rowdiness going on in the house with four boys running around and playing. (Jennifer, being smart, stayed in her room with her friend, who was visiting!) It was hard to steer clear of them running around but I was just glad they were occupied and having a good time. (I still think we should have his party outside of the house next year! Especially when he’s a teenager! I dread the thought of he and his football-player sized friends storming around the house!)

There were a few problem spots we had but it went over really well.

Instead of just a birthday cake this year, Jesse had the cake AND cupcakes with gumballs on them. Those were certainly popular. I had the cake, though.

Jesse didn’t get all the stuff on his wish list for his birthday, but he did get some nice gifts. He was SO excited about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stuff and also excited to get a remote control truck. He was also happy to get a ball as well as a Lego set. He was certainly happy with what he DID get!

After the cake and presents, Jennifer finally decided to hang out with them, but only to show off her remote control helicopter. (They thought that was REALLY neat!) Then they had to go home. Jennifer’s friend stayed a little longer and had dinner with us before she had to go home, too.

It was a good day for the Birthday Boy. And tomorrow, we’re off to Skate World as an extra birthday treat!

Happy Birthday, Jesse!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Playing in the rain

Yesterday, I found Jesse outside, playing in the rain. My kids know that I forbid them from playing in the rain, but they never really asked me why. They just know that once it started raining, or even sprinkling, I’d be at the door calling them inside.

The thing of it is, though, we live in the Northwest, which is famous for getting A LOT of rain. And we’ve definitely been getting lots of rain lately! Buckets of it!

When you’re a kid, rain is like snow. It’s fun to play in! Never mind that you could catch pneumonia while out playing in the rain or getting your good clothes and shoes soaking wet – the two reasons why I don’t allow my kids to play in the rain. To a kid, rain is FUN! (Well, unless it’s a thunderstorm; that’s when it is scary!)

So this was why I found Jesse outside playing in the rain. The temptation of this kind of fun was too much to resist. I was angry at him, and let him know as much, but later on, I spent some time thinking this over.

This wasn’t the first time I had caught him playing him in the rain. So, rules or not, I had to accept that on occasion, he will sneak outside to play in the rain. And then I’d have to deal with the results all over again.

So, this morning, as I was driving him to school, I spent some time talking with Jesse about why I don’t want him to be playing in the rain. The first thing, catching pneumonia, was what puzzled him. He was convinced he won’t catch pneumonia from playing in the rain. Still, I keep thinking that could happen. (Jennifer had pneumonia once and it was awful.) Then I explained to him the second thing, about how he can’t wear his good shoes and good jacket while he’s out playing in the rain.

Predictably, he got his one good jacket and his shoes soaking wet while he was outside in the rain yesterday. I was able to get his shoes dry in time for school this morning, but not his jacket. He had to wear his Spider-man jacket to school today, and his Spider-man jacket is not the right jacket to wear when it’s raining. And OF COURSE we had more rain today! In fact, Jesse and I had to run through the pouring rain to the car at the post office. (It was REALLY coming down!) So I was upset he couldn’t have his good jacket to wear to school this morning.

I explained to Jesse that he must wear the proper clothing if he wants to play outside in the rain. If he really MUST play outside in the rain!! I told him he needs to wear a rain coat and his boots. He already has boots but no rain coat. I made a mental note to get him a rain coat soon. Jesse understood this and I was glad I was able to clear all that up with him.

Today he went outside to play again, when it wasn’t raining. And this time, he wore his boots. Now all he needs is a good rain slicker and he’ll be all set.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Newsletter rant

This morning, while I had some time to kill, I opened a newsletter I receive every week and prepared for another insightful and inspiring editorial from the newsletter owner. What a disappointment it was to instead wade through what was cleverly dressed up as an ad. It was the obvious ad before the editorial, but instead of an editorial, I got an advertorial, which is an advertisement in the disguise of an editorial or article.

I was NOT happy. This particular newsletter is one of my “Friday read” newsletters. I receive it earlier in the week but I always save it to read on Friday because I have found that I enjoy ending another busy writing week by reading certain newsletters. These newsletters inspire me, move me and reignite that passion I have for writing. These are the newsletters that I turn to for strength, inspiration and guidance. So when I got nothing but ads from this particular newsletter which, in the past, had inspired me or moved me in some way, it was a huge letdown.

It's really annoying when people try to use their newsletters and their editorials as a way to push ads into readers’ faces. They try to be sly about it, disguising their ad as a serious conversation or as a means of hyping up someone's success story, but I can pretty much tell the difference between an editorial and an advertorial.

And if all they throw at me is an advertorial where an editorial should be, they won't keep me on board as a subscriber for very long.

I recently unsubscribed from a newsletter that went from weekly to daily. I thought that, with the switch to a daily mailing, I'd begin receiving some valuable content that the owner had to share every day. What a disappointment it was that his daily mailings took a huge shift from being a "daily tip" feature to a "daily ad" feature instead. I hate ads. I despise them. So I was NOT happy to receive daily ads from this newsletter owner. Of course, he tried to disguise this ad by hyping it up or sharing how Very Important this product was and if I did not buy it then (gasp!) the world would come to an end.

But no matter how a writer disguises an ad, it's still an ad. They can hype it up all they want. They can write a moving advertorial that would bring David Ogilvy to tears if he was still alive. But the bottom line is, it's STILL an ad! Put a feather on it, dress it up and stick a fork in it all you want to, It. Is. Still. An. Ad.

And if it's not a product I'm interested in, then I'm not going to buy it. NO MATTER what is said about it.

The thing of it is, though, with that daily newsletter, I kept getting the same song and dance about this product or that service every single day. Stuff I was really NOT interested in. So on top of being annoyed with having a daily advertisement landing in my inbox, I had to stop reading about stuff I wasn't interested in and delete the newsletter mid-sentence. Because that was ALL the newsletter was about. No real tip. Nothing valuable for me to read. Nothing inspiring or even humorous at all. Just the ad. Ugh!

Now I understand that the majority of people are on the Internet to make money. That's what the Internet is all about these days, anyway. Making! Money! Heck, I use the Internet to find jobs and to work with people who give me jobs. And I totally understand the “once-in-a-while mailing” newsletter owners send out to spread the word about a product or forthcoming event they have going on. I get that. But a newsletter should have a little something in it besides an ad. Or even the obvious ad and then the advertorial for something else.

I like reading newsletters for VALUE. And ads do not have any value or interest for me. So, please, put something else in a newsletter besides an ad. Throw in a REAL editorial, share a recent experience or, gee, I dunno, give readers something that they actually EXPECTED from the newsletter when they signed up in the very beginning.

I don't sign up for newsletters to only get ads. So, please, give me content that has takeaway value, not just ads. Because if there's no content and just an ad, I won't stick around.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An attitude of gratitude

In this book that I read recently, it said that successful people have an “attitude of gratitude.” Basically, they are taking time each day to think about what they are grateful for. I do this lots of times. I know of some people who keep “gratitude journals” in which they write down the things they are grateful for each night. Or some people have listed a number of things they are grateful for in their Facebook status postings.

I got an interesting spin on this technique today.

Earlier in the day, a couple of things reminded me of a hard time I had to go through in my past. These reminders brought on memories of those things and I got really upset thinking about them for a while. I got upset remembering those hard times and what it put my daughter through when she was younger.

At this time in our lives, we had very little money for food and my daughter was hungry a lot. I had to pay for EVERYTHING and there was very little money left over for food. We did get help sometimes with $20 here or there, but it was not enough to keep food in our house. I worked two jobs to bring in money for food, as well as Christmas gifts for my daughter. I also got food stamps – a meager $10 a month. At this time, there was no “support system” to help us with this transition in our lives and I had to learn everything on my own. At this time, it was scary because we were alone and had no family around to help us. We were alone! We had friends who helped here and there, but they were not around as much as we needed them to be. At this time in our lives, we hardly had anything in the house we lived in, and for a while, I didn’t even have a car to drive. I had to ride the bus or walk.

It was just bad. Really bad. And, oh, yeah. That was also the time a SICKO was in our lives! I am glad that person ain't around anymore!!! (And this is why I will never again give in to family pressure and do what other people want me to do. So, yeah, I guess something good came out of that: A lesson learned!)

I don’t like remembering that part of our past and those reminders brought it back. You know, those were lean times. We really struggled.

But then I stopped myself. I took a look around and reminded myself, That’s all in the past. We’re not living like that anymore. Just as I stop myself from dwelling on memories of people who have hurt me in the past with the thought “those people aren’t in my life anymore,” I stopped myself from dwelling on those memories with a reminder, “We don’t live that life anymore.”

These days, we have money for food. I have a car to drive which I don’t have to pay the insurance for. We can buy new clothes and new furniture. You know, we’re just better off now. And happier.

Remembering this filled me with a new sense of gratitude. I just looked up at the sky and thought, Thank you, Lord, for helping us.

I thank God every day for being there for us and helping us. But using this reminder that things are better than a past bad thing just made me feel so immensely grateful for this change all over again. I am so grateful my daughter doesn’t have to be hungry again. I am so grateful we live in a warm house with lots of nice things. I am so grateful we have someone who looks out for us and takes care of us. Someone who cares about us enough to make sure that we are happy.

I am grateful life is better now. It was really worth hanging in there for it to happen.


It would seem the stream of gratitude did not end with me posting this on my blog and sharing it on Facebook. This morning, after I awoke, I was thinking about it, and once again felt so very grateful for the life we have now. It just takes these episodes to make us stop and appreciate what we have in life. I sent up another prayer of thanks. I am just so happy that part of our past came to an end.

And this morning, I read this message in Dallas Franklin's newsletter:

"What experiences are you bringing up? Are you still stuck in the negative ones that you still haven’t figured out or understood what the lesson was to learn? Let them go. Really, just let them go. You haven’t figured it out so there’s no need to go over it anymore. Allow life to grab hold and take you to brighter experiences.

Once you’re knee-deep into gratifying experiences you’ll find that you suddenly understand past experiences a little better. The more enjoyment you get out of life, the more wisdom you’ll be downloaded. Funny how life works like that, eh?"

So aside from waking up this morning and feeling a renewed sense of gratitude, I had a new sense of understanding about that past experience. Yes, it was bad, but some good came out of it. It taught me some very important life lessons.

It taught me to be self-sufficient.

It strengthened my faith.

It brought my daughter and I closer. She may have mentally blocked this part of her past, but the bond created from it remains.

It taught me to be a wiser parent.

It taught me to be strong.

It taught me the importance of having a savings to rely on in just such situations.

It taught me that if we ever end up in a situation like that again, we'll be okay, because now I know what to do and NOT do to survive it.

So now I am grateful for these lessons, too. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

If she's happy, I'm happy

So Jennifer’s 13th birthday has come and gone. I am glad we got that done and out of the way, but now we have another birthday to celebrate this month (Jesse’s 7th) so I’ve been focusing on that. But I have also been feeling a little guilty that maybe we didn’t do enough to give Jennifer the AWESOME birthday every 13-year-old girl should have.

I mean, I felt bad that we couldn’t have her party at Skate World. Still, I felt the price was too much for the kind of birthday party packages they offer, so I stand by that. But maybe it would’ve been worth it in memories. I don’t know.

I also felt bad she didn’t get to go see Annabelle on her birthday. Yeah, she was pretty upset about that, too. But it was out of our control. Nothing could be done about that.

I was pretty much convinced her birthday was just a huge failure. So many things went wrong on her big day. But I guess the things that went right made up for it.

We didn’t just celebrate her birthday on Friday. We celebrated her birthday for 3 whole days. She had the 2 parties she wanted – three friends showed up at the first and six showed up at the second – and she DID get to go to Skate World on the third day. But just to skate. She also did get to watch a horror movie for her B-day (The Grudge) and she got some very cool presents, too. One was a portable DVD player from me and her dad and another was a remote control helicopter from a friend. Another friend gave her something she made herself and that was really special because the gifts that people make themselves are the best kind.

I was still feeling guilty, though. What if it had not been all that great after all?

But she wanted me to read her blog post today and in it she went on about how awesome her 13th B-day was. (More like a birthday weekend!) I asked her about it and if she was happy with how it had turned out. Her face lit up and she said, “It was AWESOME!” She gave two thumbs up for emphasis.

Hey, if she was happy with it, I’ll be happy with it. Some of her best friends were there and she still had some good things happen for those 3 days we celebrated her birthday, and that’s what counts.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Invasion of The Teenager

There’s a teenager in my house! Oh, no! How did THAT happen?? And this teenager has taken on the form of my daughter!

Hey. Wait a minute. She IS my daughter!

That’s right. My daughter Jennifer is NOW a teenager! She turned 13 today. And to mark the occasion, she and I had our first official argument after she got home from school. My, how I look forward to all the fun times that lay ahead!

Seriously, though. Jennifer is a good kid. She gets a lot of A’s in school, is eligible for TWO scholarships to Stanford (she wants to be a biologist) and she pretty much acts responsible around the house. Well, for the most part, anyway. But, yeah, she has definitely come a long way in her journey to this point.

Today we had a party to celebrate Jen’s birthday. Tomorrow we’ll have another party for other people Jen wanted to invite.

I am dreading these teen years with my daughter but I hope they will still be good ones. As long as she and I keep the lines of communication open and she knows she can talk to me about anything, I think we’ll be okay.

Happy Birthday, Jenny Kay!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Halloween on the brain

I know it’s not October yet, but I’ve definitely got Halloween on the brain. Last weekend, I was checking out some Halloween-themed recipes to make for the special day. And last week, Jen and I went shopping for Halloween decorations. (Of course, I already have a crate full of Halloween decorations, but I’m always up for checking out the new stuff every year. Plus, it’s fun to see the neat and scary stuff on display in stores.) We usually don’t start decorating for Halloween until it’s officially October, and since we wait for the first weekend in October to do the honors, that means we’ll be decorating the day after Jennifer’s 13th birthday!

Jennifer is excited about her birthday coming up, and not just because she’ll be turning 13. She is a HUGE horror movie buff, so she was thrilled to learn that a horror movie, Annabelle, will be out in theaters on her big day. She is holding out hope that one of her friends and their mom will take her to see the movie on that day – what a great birthday gift THAT would be! (I can’t take her myself because my husband will be working and there isn’t someone else to watch our young son, who is of course not old enough to see such a scary movie!)  She is especially excited because it’s about the haunted doll we were introduced to in the movie, The Conjuring. (Great movie, by the way! And Annabelle was a real haunted doll! Check out this link)(And if haunted dolls are your thing, check out what I wrote about Robert the Doll, a real haunted doll, in the Key West, Florida chapter of my new book, A Ghost on Every Corner.)

So, yeah, I went from talking about Halloween to talking about horror movies. Heh. But, actually, how could we let the Halloween month pass us by without a good dose of scary flicks? Every year, I try to watch a horror movie for every day of October. Unfortunately, we have not succeeded yet. Sigh. But we’re going to try again this year! So Jennifer and I spent some time yesterday putting together a list of horror movies to watch next month. We were aiming for 31 movies, but ended up with a little more than that.

I already had a list of Halloween movies to watch for October up here on the blog at this link. One list was for adults and the other is for kids. Jen checked out both lists and thought they were good selections, but with the new horror flicks that have come out since the adult list was put together, that particular list got a bit of revising this time around. We also included movies that weren’t particularly as scary but still fun to watch for a horror movie month.

This is our new list for adults:

1. The Amityville Horror
2. The Omen
3. The Grudge
4. Nightmare on Elm Street
5. The Woman in Black
6. Poltergeist
7. Saw
8. Saw II
9. The Others
10. Freddy Vs. Jason
11. It
12. The Shining
13. Pumpkinhead
14. The Conjuring
15. The Messengers
16. Insidious
17. Psycho
18. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
19. Creepshow
20. The Changeling
21. 13 Ghosts
22. Puppetmaster
23. Hellraiser
24. The Exorcist
25. World War Z
26. One Missed Call
27. Scream
28. The Ring
29. Night of the Living Dead
30. Carrie
31. Halloween
32. Gothika
33. Scary Movie
34. Children of the Corn
35. A Haunting in Connecticut
36. The Walking Dead
37. Zombie Town
38. Shaun of the Dead
39. Child’s Play
40. Interview with the Vampire

Of course, there are a whole lot of other horror movies we could add to that list. I have plenty more on my Netflix queue. In fact, I spent some time on Netflix yesterday and today arranging my queue to where I had almost all of the horror movies lined up to be sent next – well, with the exception of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, because Jesse REALLY wants to see that movie! (He just saw, and loved, the first one.) Some of those other horror movies are:

Children of the Corn 666
Devil’s Due
Devil’s Knot
Murder Party
Bride of Chucky
(Jennifer LOVED Child’s Play)
Seed of Chucky
30 Days of Night
Dark Night of the Scarecrow
The Innkeepers
The Howling: Reborn

And of course, there are always the sequels to some of the above-mentioned movies.

So it would seem we’re definitely ready for Halloween to get here. Jennifer even has her costume. Jesse doesn’t have a costume YET – he is still undecided – and I’m not entirely sure on whether or not I’ll dress up this year. (One year, I took the kids trick-or-treating as a monster bride.) We’ve got the food figured out, the decorations bought, the movies lined up and our costumes very nearly ready. Now all we’ll need is for Halloween to get here. (And then, of course, we’ll make a last-minute run out to the store to buy the candy!)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The second Meet & Greet

Today was Jennifer’s Meet & Greet at her middle school. I had no idea what to expect when we got there but I definitely was not expecting such an insanely long line. Gah! I thought that all the parents would just walk on through the building and go to the tables they had to go to. But the school administrators had the foresight to line people up and have so many go through the gym at a time – I guess to avoid chaos and prevent the parents from being confused on where to go next. So we stood in line for like 20 minutes. Jen passed the time playing a game on my phone and I kept Jesse preoccupied by playing some kind of hand-grab game that we made up. Jen complained he was laughing too loud from the game but I told her as long as he wasn’t running around or bothering anybody, I wasn’t going to stop him!

So we finally reached the assembly room where all the tables were arranged for parents to go to to take care of everything. Once we were inside, Jesse asked if he could sit on the bleachers and I told him that was fine. I am grateful he likes sitting on the bleachers (they are pull-out benches) because I was soon busy talking to A LOT of people at a lot of tables. I occasionally turned to check on Jesse and he was fine talking with other kids on the bleachers.

It was a good thing they allowed so many parents through at a time. The line system helped a lot because they had to talk to us one at a time at the tables. We got paperwork, dayplanners, schedules, forms and paid fees as we moved from table to table. We were not able to meet the Band instructor because he was MIA. Also absent was a rep from the Boys & Girls Club, and that wasn’t good because I had to renew Jen’s membership there. There were forms on that table and I grabbed one without looking – only later to find I’d grabbed the one in Spanish! D’oh! Jennifer said it was okay; we could just walk over to the Boys & Girls Club to renew her membership.

So that’s what we did next. I had to fill out the membership form AGAIN to renew her membership. Ugh! It’s a long form and I had to keep checking my phone and cards to write down info they needed. I don’t know why they didn’t just keep her info in their system and I could tell them that nothing’s changed. Oh, well. So I took care of THAT and also paid that fee.

After we got home, Jen checked in with one of her BFFAEs to compare schedules and see what classes they have together. She gets her locker tomorrow because she has to fill out the locker agreement form first and turn that in. She also spent time putting all of her stuff together and getting it all ready for her first day of 7th grade tomorrow.

That’s two Meet & Greets done for the week. Now for the second first day of school!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The first Meet & Greet

Today was Jesse’s Meet & Greet at his school. Jennifer’s is tomorrow, on Jesse’s first day back at school. Jesse is VERY excited about going back to school. He’s in First Grade now! The Big Time! Woo-hoo!!! And I’m doubly happy because now he’ll be in school full-time, with the regular one day for early release in the week. Of course, this means he’ll have to get up earlier for school and get acquainted with having lunch in the school cafeteria, but he is still excited about going. (And no more of those brown-bag lunches that always had the same thing in it Every Day.)

So I took him to his Meet & Greet. I was excited to learn that a teacher who had been Jennifer’s first grade teacher was still a first grade teacher this year and I hoped she would be Jesse’s teacher this year, too, because she is just AWESOME. (Jennifer has a picture of her and this teacher in her room.) But, unfortunately, one of the new teachers at the school will be Jesse’s teacher this year. Darn!

All the same, I am grateful Jesse’s new teacher has a last name that is easy to pronounce. I can’t tell you the number of times I kept being corrected on the pronunciation of his kindergarten teacher’s name. Ack! So, yay for that.

Jesse met his new teacher and the teacher’s aide, then we spent some time touring his new classroom and figuring out where everything was. He was excited to learn that one of his friends from kindergarten will be in his class. While we were at the school, I also paid the annual fee for school supplies (thank goodness there’s only ONE child I have to buy school supplies for!) and then checked in with the office about bus schedules. Unfortunately, Jesse was taken off the bus route because we live out of district. So I’ll be driving him to school and picking him up. He was really disappointed that he couldn’t ride the school bus anymore, but he understood that nothing could be done about it.

Because Jesse will be eating lunch at the school cafeteria now, I took him to the cafeteria and showed him around. I explained to him what happens when his classroom comes to the cafeteria for lunch and I walked him through the route he would take while standing in line. I also explained to him he would get a special code number to punch into the keypad to pay for his lunches. (They train kids on how to memorize their numbers and use the keypad.) He thought it was all really cool and got excited about going into the cafeteria at lunchtime.

After we were done there, I allowed Jesse some time to play at the school playground. I spent some time talking with a grandmother who was there with her two grandchildren. Jesse liked playing with her grandchildren, two boys. It seemed like he made a new friend. (One of the boys was a second grader.) Then we left and came home.

I’m so excited about Jesse going into first grade and I hope it will be a good experience for him.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The struggle to forgive

Yesterday was Global Forgiveness Day. The subject of forgiveness is one that I have struggled with for a long time. Being able to forgive others for wrongs done to me, being able to forgive myself for hurting others or making mistakes (sometimes by accident) that hurt or upset others. I have also been thinking about how some people try to use some sort of reason or another to explain why somebody did something to them and so this makes it easier to forgive them.

And for some very interesting reason, I have seen a lot of pins on Pinterest of quotes on forgiveness.

All of these things are issues I have struggled with in coming to terms on whether or not I can forgive certain people in my life – and those who are not in my life anymore.

For one thing, I kept asking myself this: Why was I able to forgive some people but not others? On one hand, I would say to myself, ‘well, that was just a bad person who MEANT to hurt me and that’s why I can’t forgive that person.’ But, you know, most people change, so I can’t think that thought for the rest of my life. The person may be sorry. Or, not. That person could have changed, or not. So that reason really doesn’t hold any merit.

The pain of what happened with those people stayed with me for a long time. And in some cases, I had nightmares. But I recently decided that, you know what? There is no point in dwelling on a wrong a person has done to me. It was done and it’s all over with. I’m on a new chapter in my life. Carrying that burden around will only hurt me, so there’s no point in allowing it to continue to exist. Grudges are uncool. So I had to let it all go. The lies, the manipulations, the betrayals, the physical harm, the hurt and anger. I just had to let it all go. This is the story of my life. Those things happened because, at that particular time, that is how it was supposed to happen. Those people who have hurt me in the past and are not exactly seeking forgiveness for it are not in my life anymore and they won’t ever be in my life anymore because I know for a fact that those particular people have not changed. And I had this belief that I cannot forgive them unless they ask to be forgiven. I have not actually SEEN them make right what was made wrong. There’s no communication or anything. So maybe that’s why I could not forgive them. They’re not exactly asking to be forgiven.

And, really, all they DO need to do is ASK to be forgiven. If someone apologizes to me for a wrong, I’ll forgive it. I’ll wipe the slate clean. You know, it takes a really big person to admit they made a mistake and even more so to say they are sorry. So, you know, I feel totally fine in forgiving them.

And I thought that, having said that, I could move on. But it bothered me that there were people out there holding grudges against me, refusing to forgive me and hating me for the rest of their lives because of mistakes I made, my personal security methods or because of something I meant to do – At That Time. (I am not the same person I was 10 years ago.) So, when I have prayed, I asked God if he would help those people to come to terms with what happened and find it in their hearts to forgive me, to stop hating me.

But then I read this one quote on Pinterest and it really made me think. The quote went like this: “Forgiveness does not make the other person right. It makes you free.”

That quote made me realize that I had to accept that those people may not forgive me and they may not be sorry for what was done. But I had to be okay with this because if I was not going to be okay with this and let it bug me, then I would only continue to carry around the pain they inflicted or this grudge they still have against me. By accepting that they are not sorry or that they won’t forgive me, but I forgive them, then I can break free of all that. I’m not gonna be on good terms with EVERYBODY in the whole world.

Still, I wondered, was there something I could do to encourage them to forgive me? I have said I was sorry and tried to reconnect with them (even when there was no response to my reaching out). I have tried to make things right with those people. Was there something I could DO to fix things? Bring about their forgiveness? I have been reading this book for research. It is called How to Pray Without Being Religious by Janell Moon. (Side note: I am not exactly a religious person anymore, but mainly spiritual.) Today I read something that really affected me. It was this: “She wants to be free of this guilt and be better friends with her sister, but she is pushing the river by wanting her sister to forgive her. That is not her business. … Her sister will forgive her if and when she can.” (Page 130) So I realized that if there was someone out there unable to forgive me for a past wrong (my dad, maybe??), I have to let them decide on their own if they want to forgive me. If they chose to forgive me, that had to happen on its own.

The best way to do that was to step out of their lives for good. Just don’t communicate with them, don’t try to get messages to them through other people and just “disappear” from their lives. Leave them to live this journey their life is on right now. Stay silent. In time, they might remember me. They might be able to forgive me or stop holding this grudge against me. (Whatever it is!) And I have to just let that happen in its own time.

Meanwhile, maybe I could finally start to forgive myself? There have been MANY times I reflected on those instances and think, WHY did I do that?? Or, I was such an IDIOT! Or, I’m a terrible person. (I counter this with, I was a terrible person THEN. But not anymore. I don’t like to talk too much about what life was like for me growing up and why I was the way I was in my 20s and early 30s. But I know better now because my life is better now.) Well, I usually know WHY. I jumped to conclusions. I was afraid. I felt I could not trust people. I was overly cautious. I was mad. I was drunk. I was distracted or tired. I was influenced by others. Etc., etc. The key word is “was.” As in, not that anymore. That was all in the past so there’s no point in dwelling on THAT part of the situation, either. This, ultimately, helped me to forgive myself. It is true it can be so hard to forgive oneself but I knew I could not completely move on unless I did. That’s just the way it was at the time. The way I was at the time. I have to accept that and forgive myself for playing that unfortunate role in that unfortunate experience.

Of course, these do not explain away everything wrong or bad that has happened in my life. They are reasons, yes, but that does not make the bad stuff better. It does not make it easier for me to forgive or seek forgiveness. All it does is help me understand the why. By understanding that, I can make peace with it. I can find closure and move on. I prefer to live in the now, for today. Yesterday is over with and gone. All that matters now is moving forward. Being able to forgive everyone and everything, and accept that forgiveness may not accepted or returned, will make it easier for me to do that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Health update

Ever since I blogged on here about having HPV, I have been paying closer attention to my health and how I am taking care of myself. Or, rather, actually NOT. That whole experience was just an eye-opener for me. It made me realize that now, at age 40, I REALLY do need to start taking better care of myself.

Unfortunately, I fell behind on my workout regime. I just got too busy with a bunch of other things and never made time to exercise. That combined with a poor diet meant I gained a few pounds, right after I had lost a few! So I am going to work on getting back on track with working out. In fact, I have spent time this week looking into where and when I can do so. This new program will start next week.

That doesn’t take care of the diet thing, though. I have been seriously thinking of changing my diet. I have researched several and I am considering one in particular.

I hope these changes will get me to eat healthier and live healthier. Weight loss is my goal, but ultimately, I just want to be healthy.

I recently got some good news in other areas, though. I recently had my first mammogram. My maternal aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer some time ago (she is currently cancer-free, thank God), so I felt it was time for me to go through with a mammogram. I got good results back. No problems at all. Yay!

I also have had a couple of tests where my doctor was checking my progress since the LEEP procedure. She has been telling me that, so far, everything looks good and I am healing well. She also had some good news for me: No more HPV! I am totally HPV-free now. Woo-hoo! I was so thrilled by this news. The LEEP was a nightmare but it meant getting rid of pre-cancerous cells and ultimately getting rid of HPV. So it was worth it! I did talk with a nurse recently and she said she herself had it 4 times. Each time, she had to have the LEEP to get rid of it. She doesn’t miss it! I so hope I don’t have to go through that again but I have heard of that happening to other women.

So now that those worries are not an issue anymore. I can go back to focusing on reinstating a workout regime into my daily schedule as well as eating a healthier diet. Those two things – working out and eating a healthy diet – are important to me and I am going to make them a more stronger focus in my life. Things have been hard for a while there but they are improving and I am definitely planning to make some changes and have these two things become a more permanent mainstay.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Skating -- cuz that's how they roll!

“Mom, can we go skating? Pleeeassseee?” This was a question my kids often asked me, especially whenever they saw commercials or coupons about Skate World, a rollerskating rink in a nearby city. I kept telling them I’d take them sometime but never actually got around to doing it.

Well, it seemed like skating was in the cards for them. We recently made new friends, and one of the kids was REALLY into skating. They invited Jennifer and Jesse along to Skate World with them not too long ago. Of course, I was concerned the kids might not do well skating, or that they even might hate it, but I decided to allow them to give it a shot. Why not let them just TRY it? Just try it and see what happens.

Well, it turns out Jennifer is a natural at skating. She LOVES it. Jesse enjoys skating too, although he is not as good at it as his sister. But he refuses to give up on it, no matter how often he has fallen down. He gets better at it the more he practices.

Well, they first went to Skate World a few weeks ago, and they are hooked on it. They LOVE going skating! I am so glad that the opportunity to try this new thing came into their lives, because I know I’d only would’ve kept putting it off and would never have known how good they were at it.

So now they go skating twice a week. Today it was my turn to take the kids skating and I really enjoyed watching them have a blast on the skating rink. And I am so grateful that skating is now a part of their lives. Not only is it a great exercise but a fun activity!

The skating rink invites adults as well as children to skate, but I’m not so sure about me joining in on the fun. I might try it out later on. Meanwhile, I’ll be pinning skating-related pins on my new “Skating” board on Pinterest. And taking the kids skating when the opportunity comes up!