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!