Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Taking inventory before taking control (allegedly)

When I was seventeen, I worked at Woolco Department Store (no longer around), in the cosmetic department.  I also worked the front registers when it got really busy.  Once a year, the store would close for 24 hours and we would take inventory.  Back in the dark ages (mid 70's) this was done the old fashioned way with everyone actually counting what was on the shelf.  This gave management a way to do a check and balance of where they were at "real time".  Now of course, everything has bar codes and is tracked whether it is on the shelf or in the mail making its way to your home.
It's who I am!

Today is the last day of the year and I notice everyone taking an informal "inventory" if you will, of how the 2014 has added up.  What has happened - both good and bad, and what lessons they can take with them going into this next year.  Some of us are already making plans for the next year!

Wouldn't it be nice if it were as simple as a mathematical formula, much like preparing a budget?  You could look back and see that when a+b=c the end result was D so why don't we all just plan on doing that same formula again in the next year.  And if it was hugely successful, let's do it several times over.  And share the formula with EVERYONE!!!!

But the only thing we know for certain about our future, is the uncertainty that we can expect!  Every day we get up and have expectations.  In fact, expectations are one of my favorite things.  I love structure, guidelines, ways to show up and be counted (and counted on).  But on wrong turn, one misstep on the already slippery slope of life and even the best laid plans can quickly resemble a tangled ball of yarn that is rendered useless for even the simplest project.

None of us can count on OUR plans from one day to the next (let alone one year to the next) what we would like to be doing, yet we spend countless hours in meetings and meetings to prepare for meetings, strategically planning how those years will play out.  I wonder if we could see our life play back like a movie (to ensure perfect memory...another thing sadly missing in all of us) how surprised and maybe saddened we would be at all the time wasted.

So this is what I know for sure.  I am not going to stop planning - none of us can (the world keeps on spinning) but I will be mindful of the time given and how it's used.  And be grateful for each day! Some days may require a grain of salt and always God's grace.

Until next time,
See you next year
#By God;s Grace (BGG)

your pal,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Some things never get old

This is number 50 in my weekly series of posts and I haven't missed one yet.  And I enjoy writing them.  This is one of the things that never get old.  Something else that never gets old is Christmas Eve.

I bet I haven't missed more than a couple Christmas Eve services in the past 28 ++ years.  And I can only remember two services that I know of for certain.  One of them, everyone missed because the weather was so bad (think Kansas City -about six years ago) all the churches cancelled services for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

From the best Book written
I am not one that is interested in reading a book more than once (there are exceptions) and I am not a fan of repeat viewing of movies either (I already know how they end), however, I never tire of hearing the same scriptures read, the songs we sing and the familiarity of the service that is repeated every Christmas Eve.  This isn't so much a repetition to me as it is the reminder of a promise.

The first Christmas program I remember attending (and participating in) was when I was in sixth grade.  I actually memorized the scripture Luke 2:8-20 and was chosen to recite it for the congregation.  My gift was my first Bible. Attendance was sporadic throughout childhood and even early adulthood but in 1983, I attended St. John's Lutheran Church and knew I had found my home.

This evening, I loved scanning the crowd and seeing the earnest looks on the congregants faces as they joined in the familiar carols.  I particularly love hearing my husband sing the songs he has known all his life.  The choir was amazing and the instruments lent a special blend to the arrangements that brought the music to life. I followed along with scripture as it was read and reflected how it must have been.

Prior to "the incident"
Memories of other services always make there way back and I never fail to remember the infamous 2002 Christmas Eve service when Madison (age 5) had on an adorable red, furry sweater that swiftly went up in flames along with part of her hair during the candlelight portion of the service.  Big brother Tyler grabbed her and carried her out, slapping the fire out as they went.  We boycotted candles for years as did the poor older ladies that sat behind us.  Some services leave a mark....literally.

Although it has been 28 years, I still can't make it past the second verse of "Away in a Manager" before I begin to weep.  My little son Zachary died 10 days before Christmas in 1986 and this song was played at his funeral.  Melodies are powerful triggers.....

But tonight when we were gathered at the altar with all the saints who have gone before for us to take holy communion, I was reminded of what Pastor said at the beginning of the homily,,,"Welcome home, brothers and sisters, welcome home".

May God bless you and keep you,  Merry Christmas!

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wait, I know a shortcut.

Don't leave home without it
The best invention in my world has been the GPS.  It is no secret in my family that I am
directionally impaired.  More than one person has said that I couldn't punch my way out of a paper bag.  And one of those people was me.  There was a time when leaving a baseball game, I spent 20 minutes trying to find my way out of the parking lot.  The kids still laugh about that.  (Because there are always witnesses).

One time I was driving to Wichita to meet sister Nori, for a weekend rendezvous.  The "three-hour" drive almost turned into an adventure reminiscent of Gilligan's Island, as we approached the seven hour mark; almost midnight and were still aimlessly driving in the country, now punchy with tired laughter.  Another time, Marissa and I were heading back to Topeka and somehow ended up in I don't even know where.  To soothe our weary selves, we stopped at a bookstore and bought reading material.  I guess that was just in case we never made it home.  Do you see a common theme yet?  I could write a book of stories just like this.

Always driving blind.
Since moving to Austin four years ago, I have managed relatively well.  But that is only because of the GPS capabilities that every phone has these days.  I am not going to lie.  There are times, even now, (latest one last week), that I will find myself in a situation of basically "I have no idea how I got to where I am...I am lost, it is dark,,,I want to go home."

Obviously, I can retrace my steps (or in that particular case...driving missteps) and figure out exactly where the errors were made.  That is the beauty of hindsight.  And hindsight is always 20/20 if a few things come into play.  First, we must be willing to look back and see what we did (right or wrong).   When the younger me made a mistake , I wasn't always interested in looking back, just moving on. That doesn't play well into step two.

We will never be able to learn from a mistake if we haven't claimed it as ours.  OWN IT!  (I may not be talking just about directions now...or at least not only as they apply to physically getting somewhere).  Once we look back and see what we did was wrong and claim it as our own, something wonderful has the possibility of happening.

We step right into opportunity.  Opportunity for change.  Opportunity for forgiveness.  Opportunity to do things differently going forward.  To go a different direction.  So many avenues and directions open up if we can just get to Step 3.

When Madison is playing basketball and running back down the court after the opponent has the ball, I am always yelling, "turn and look, turn and look".  That is what I want to be doing all the time.

Because this is what I know for sure.  I will never get to where I need to go all the time without help.  My internal GPS may fail me.  I want to be able to "turn and look" to see what opportunities are available to me when this happens.  And then I want to be able to move forward.

Until next time.

Your pal,


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ain't no ladder high enough!

The other day, I was sitting at my computer, typing away on I can't remember what, when a co-worker stuck his head in the door and made the comment "what are you smiling look so happy in here."  That was his kind way of saying - "hey, you look like the village idiot sitting there, smiling away at your computer" but I had no awareness of what I was doing until he called me on it.  And I wasn't working on anything in particular that brought a smile to my face.  The simple fact was...and is, I am happy to be where I am at.  It was so refreshing to me to have that brought to my attention and I think he got a kick out of it too.  After all, it doesn't seem that long ago that the only lines etched on my face were lines of stress, and smiles were reserved for weekends and holidays.

Everyone knows that you shouldn't climb a ladder without the proper support.  You also shouldn't climb a ladder that is poorly put together or makeshift in any way.   And I suppose, once you get to a certain shouldn't get on a ladder at all.  Leave that to the younger crowd.  Yet here I am, climbing a brand new ladder and I am HAVING FUN.  There are new things to learn, friendships to make and relationships to build.   I have already noticed that this ladder is very sturdy, and much thought has gone into its construction.  There is nothing makeshift or "pretend" about the ladder.  The people that surround me are holding it steady as I learn.  I am on a solid foundation and when I let go of one rung to reach for the next (and yes, I already am doing that), things don't go all shaky on me. My support is right where it began when I started.  What a great feeling.

One of the best things about my "new ladder" is that it gets put away every night.  I am not carting this ladder all over the country, setting it up against different buildings every day.  I just leave it in my corner office (beautiful view) and hop back on it the next morning.

Some things that I have enjoyed in the past, are now being reintroduced as "firsts" in this new setting and the team building opportunities are amazing!  Twenty-eight days in and I already feel right at home.

And home is the key word!  I am home, In Austin, at work and with my family every night.  I don't know everything but this much I know for sure...God does not guide where He does not provide.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What do you mean by that?

A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting with my husband as he was going to have knee surgery.  When his name was called and we approached the nurse, she held out her right hand and Terry promptly shook it.  She smiled at him and turned his arm over to check his wristband.  We all laughed as Terry realized his mistake and said, "I guess you didn't really want to shake my hand".  It was funny but it made me wonder how many times we react to situation and the INTENTION was something totally different.

Fast forward six days to Thanksgiving.  We are gathered around the table eating in and the room was crowded and noisy.  A new friend sitting across from me was asking if the condiments at the other end of the table had been tried yet.  I kept trying to answer him and he was talking over me and staring right through me.  I kept trying to answer until Madison informed me he was talking to the person standing directly behind me.  I could have sworn he was looking at me.  I never did get to try the olive tray because now I was too embarrassed to ask to have it passed down.  However, Madi and I both got a good laugh out of it and I don't know for certain if he EVER realized I was talking to him (I hope not).

Then there are those messages we read on Facebook.  Whether intended for us or just for our reading pleasure, they can be so UGLY.  The written word is so dangerous when used in the "oh so familiar" passive/aggressive form.  Yet we can't be sure, since we aren't included in the conversation.  It's like being on an old fashioned telephone party line and listening in....using our eyes instead of our ears.  And another big difference is, you are encouraged to read along.  A big clue that the conversation you are about to see is a FB type of road rage is when the conversation begins like this:   "BLANK is feeling pissed".  (Uh oh, don't mince words, how do you really feel?)  Next comes the choreographed response....."Yes, I know what you mean, I saw it, too".

Now, none of us "know what they mean" but there is someone who these partners in "behind the scene" crime are directing this little barb to, that they are not brave enough to confront in person.  Yet, they are hoping against hope (because they don't dare tag them) that the offender is reading this exchange RIGHT NOW.  If we believe the words are directed at us, we could develop a very involved response, even though we aren't participating in this conversation.  Don't worry, opportunity for the next chapter is just a few key strokes away.  Next steps may include involving others by directing their attention to the offensive post.  All this happens outside the posted conversation.  Then we post "responses" to our own set of friends, no real names are ever mentioned, though some name calling often occurs at this point
Real life demands explanation here
.  Judgments quickly take place, and condemnations are invoked from all freelance interpreters.  Depending on the number of different people reading the original post taking ownership, the crime scene could really get messy before it becomes a made for TV movie!

If one isn't involved, the reading can be as horrifying as watching a train wreck happen.  After all, everything in print is now a part of history.  It can't be "undone" as it will always exist in Internet eternity.  A deletion from the screen only removes it from the offended party's sight.  No guarantee of removal from anywhere else....including long memories.  For the injured parties, relationships are damaged, sometimes permanently.

Thank goodness, we still have opportunity for "real time".  When things go awry, the opportunity to misinterpret still exists, but the choice to allow for explanation is always available.

I don't always know all the facts, but this is what I know for sure.  It is always better to allow for explanation then to publicly condemn on assumption.  There is no turning back graciously from that.

Until next time,


your pal,


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Always....Always, Remember who you are!

When our youngest came to an age where she would go off with other kids (and their families) without us, I always liked to remind her to "remember who you are" as she was leaving.  It wasn't that I was afraid she would forget her name and not find her way home (though maybe there were times when she might have liked to) but as she left our care, I felt it was important that she take with her the values that made her "who she was".  She was not only representing her own character, but her family and her faith.

Even now, I remind myself to "remember who I am" when I find myself confronted with situations that could have moral consequences (for me) whether it is at work, in discussion or in social situations.  That old adage, "you are the company you keep"' has proven true for me over the years as I have walked down assorted paths with all kinds of people.  And choices needed to be made.  Is that really who I was or who I wanted to be?  Everyone has a moral compass that measures differently.

In the past couple of days, I have had conversations with several different friends regarding people's motives/reactions in different circumstances.  This ties back to "remembering who you are".  And who you know other people to be.  The question was raised, "why does BLANK always think people will betray him?"  Not just one person at one time but all the time.  I would say that is because this person's M.O, is betrayal.  Remember, people tend to worry about what they themselves do.  If a person thinks everyone cheats, it is because they are a cheater.  If a person worries that everyone lies, it is because they are less than truthful.  And those of us who expect the best of people, can be very disappointed when we run into one of the above.

Being myself with another
At one point in my career, I was called in for a conversation with a senior executive and he posed this statement in a question form, but we both knew it was less of a question and more of a judgement.  He said something to the effect of "You were hired because of your ability to communicate well with others, avoid conflict, be empathetic, and yet I am hearing things to the contrary.  Are you not who I thought you were?"  Interestingly enough, this same person had told me not two years prior (in an email no less) that if he could choose a boss, he would choose me.  How quickly the tide turns.  I looked at him for a moment and knew that this type of conversation (if sincere) would generally call for an apology, and a re-commitment to do better.  I thought about who I was for just a moment and replied, "No, I am still that same person that you hired.  I am an excellent communicator and work well with all walks of life.  The only thing that has changed recently is who you are listening to".  That was our last conversation.

Obviously, this wasn't the only indicator to me that this person wasn't who I thought him to be. And I didn't know at the time that this was to be our last conversation.  I am so blessed that I was covered in grace in that moment, that I was able to remember who I was..  Not rude, loud or inappropriate (again, that is not who I am) but I was authentically me.  NEVER EVER, let people define you!  No one can ever know you  better than you know yourself.  Yes, we all have faults that can be improved upon... but character is what you bring to the table.

There are so many things I don't understand when I try to figure out why people do the things they do, but this much I know for sure, no matter where I end up, I always win when I remember who I am!!!!!

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Put a fork in's done!!

I was sitting in an HR orientation (first one of those I have been to for myself in more years than I care to recall) and I was joined by another new employee.  He was not new to "the system" as I was, but new to this branch of the organization, none the less.  Pleasantries were exchanged and at one point during the course of the morning, when we were discussing a random topic, he indicated his displeasure and shared his reaction by hand gestures.   Not the kind you immediately might think but he did my "done with it" hand gesture.  For those who know me, when I do what I call my "Pontius Pilate move" I slap my hands together quickly three times and then flick my fingers outward the same number of times.  If I do this to completion. this signifies "I am done with you".  You can imagine my delight at meeting someone that understood my unspoken language.

But are we ever really "done" with anyone?   My sister Katy and I were having this discussion tonight.  In our circle of family and friends,we have many personalities to draw the following conclusions.  To protect the innocent, and all the rest (it is getting hard enough to get family members to return calls, for fear they may say something I might want to write about later), I will use categories.

Category one is for those who always "want to be friends" after a relationship has gone south.  This involves much emotion, tears of remorse; laughter over the good times.   When Katy and I were done laughing over the craziness of it all, we decided at best,  this category should be renamed "no restraining order leastfor the first 90 days".  Wanting to remain friends with someone you failed at your first go round at a more significant relationship is like getting a participation ribbon instead of 1st place in competition.  Thanks for showing up.

Category two is dedicated to those who "say they are done" but can't quite seem to say no to one more attempt to wear that shoe that didn't fit the first time.  We call that the "Jimmy Carter era".  A lot of emotion at first, tapering off to not so much because by then the person is back in their life, sometimes short term, other times long term... or until the next break-up, when the merry-go-round starts again.  It just reminds me of when President Carter was in office and threatened action when hostages were being held.  It sounded fierce the first time but after about the fourth or fifth time,  it tended to lose some of its menace, meaning....did someone say emotion?

Category three is what I refer to as "the gold standard".  The relationship has ended (and keep in mind, this is not limited to romantic liaisons), but any relationship that after a seemingly successful launch, has crashed on the shores,splintered into fragments too large, sharp or difficult to pick up and piece back together.  This calls up the no going back "Pontius Pilate hand move" that severs the relationship as you "wash your hands of the entire affair.  You are now DONE WITH IT.  Let me interject right here that this category is NOT for the tenderhearted.   You have now severed this person like a gangrene arm.  Going forward you will refer to them in the past tense because they are no longer in "real time" in your life.  They have become a casualty of relationship war.  This is the only way you will survive.  Emotions must be left at the door (or in the shower) and life goes on as if they were but a passing fancy in this roller coaster we call life.

Category four only deals with those who step outside the law and I am thankful that we have none to draw on for conclusions (that we are aware of).   In fact, I could only report on what my experts on Dateline tell me every Friday night, but I think you should just all tune in.  Lester and Keith tell a great story.

So, this is what I know for sure.  Endings are never as fun as beginnings but just as life must end, so must some relationships.  There are all kinds of reasons behind the final brisk slapping of the hands, but remember, there are two numbers before three (at least for me).

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Back in the Game!!

 I have made my husband and daughter breakfast routinely (but not daily) for almost a year.  Yet, today my husband made breakfast for me..  It is not my birthday, our anniversary, or any other "special" day.  We did not recently complete therapy where it was recommended that he "step up his game".   There were no threats or (on the other side of that coin) promises made to ignite such positive behavior.  And I will let you in on another secret....he will be making my breakfast again tomorrow.

How did I get so lucky?  Okay, the secret to what works in our marriage is....WORK!  I went back to work.  Yes, I am BACK IN THE GAME.  The sabbatical is over and as of today, I am gainfully employed and all I can do is SMILE.
Back in the Game!

Today I was assigned an office, a parking spot, and an ID badge so I know where to go tomorrow.  So, that is why my husband fixed (no, fixes) me breakfast.  When we are both working, he fixes me breakfast.  It's a great way to start the day.  Before he leaves, he grabs the lunch I packed for him (the night before) since we both can't afford to eat out!  When it's time for dinner, I would like to report that we both chat in the kitchen about our day,as we throw something together while Madi sets the table.....BUT THAT WOULD BE A BOLD FACED LIE.  Let's just leave dinner out of it since everything was going so well.

So yes, I am back to work.   At home, we once again start to dance to the familiar tunes of simultaneous alarms sounding on three iPhones in the house.  However, this is a new journey, so I am sure we will learn some new songs along the way.  And I am grateful and excited.  

A year ago, I did not know where the road was leading, but I always had confidence (and faith) that I would end up right where I am supposed to be.  I didn't know exactly how, or even exactly when, but some things aren't for us to know.

And here I am.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Starting something at the end

Before a person sits down to write something, whether it be a research paper, a letter (that is almost a thing of the past), maybe just their thoughts, usually one has to gather information, know what it is they will be writing about, and then they will just get busy writing.  It seems a little backwards, starting something that is for all practical purposes, already finished.  But, the work has been done and now it's just a matter of getting it down on paper.  Starting something at the end.

What other things are like that?  I can think of several.  One major lesson that once we really learn, is, for all practical purposes over, is parenting.  By the time we learn how to be the BEST parents, our kids are grown up.  If we are lucky, they are still talking to us and have grown into some type of semi-functioning adult, perhaps even now trying to learn the lessons of parenting as we did.  They may (or may not) be interested in taking any advice from us, since all they know is what they experienced from us.  They either; A) still aren't talking to us; B) still haven't recovered from us; or C) (and I believe this may be the best case scenario) just don't recognize that the knowledge benefit comes at the end of the game.  Therefore, they will put little or no stock into any advice we may feel compelled to impart.  And sometimes, it is SO COMPELLING!

Remember, my mom had five kids in six years.  That means, there could have been a stretch in time when all five of us were VERY unpleasant to live with and be around.  By the time she recognized the knowledge victory (with me) she still had four more kids in short order to live through.  And, I was still too young to appreciate the lesson.

The next generation-it's started!
Fast forward to when I had kids.  Obviously due to circumstances rather than design (I am really just not that smart), I ended up having my three girls, unevenly spaced out over a period of twenty years.  What did that buy me, you ask?  HA!  At least one child at any given moment in time, would like me. When Megan was a teenager, Marissa adored me.  When things got a little tough with Marissa, I might have been in trouble because Megan wasn't quite back to liking me, but HELLO MADISON.  Here we are today.  Madison is a teenager, and guess what?  That's right!  While I believe Madison likes me (most of the time), I now have both Megan and Marissa as back up.  Plus, I had the benefit of three other kids thrown in the mix when Mr. French and I got married and for the most part, I think they have always liked me.  Not to mention a daughter-in-law (Lisa) that is another bonus!

Another observation, because of the time span, I have been a different mother to each of my girls and my three additions (Mike, Tyler and Julie).  Obviously, this is because the early parental knowledge gained has been improved upon with each addition.  And after practice parenting on all these kids, I now feel my advice is golden.  So much in fact, when my sister Katy and I both had babies at the same time and received conflicting advice from our pediatricians, I strongly encouraged her just to do it "my way, so we would know we were doing it right".

I don't suppose there is a right way to be the perfect parent, but this is what I do know:  My mom loved me and my siblings (even while she was learning) and I loved all my kids (throughout all parenting phases).  And I think when it's all said and done, what was started in love has ended up pretty darn good!

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Behind the's where life is lived!

Did you ever think that just about everything we do is a presentation for someone?  An academy award winning performance that you may or may not be applauded for, but certainly noticed, held accountable for, whispered about or at best, ignored.

I was thinking about this when I was helping daughter Madison prepare for her drivers test.  All the months of learning and practice boiled down to a 20 minute drivers test that would subjectively be determined by luck of the draw - depending on which examiner she was assigned.  The young man who checked her in (HE WAS 21 YEARS OLD) was one of the examiners.  Seriously, four years older than Madison.  He pointed out which guy graded harder (the one with the ponytail that looked all of 25, versus the older woman that spoke English as a second language.  Our cheerful informant was just working the desk that day.  I won't tell you who Madi drove with, but she did pass.

Does it look that hard??
I know I have mentioned before that I have rekindled my interest in knitting (spoiler alert - Merry Christmas to many family members).  Lately, I have become bolder in my attempts at different projects and am not shy about trying difficult stitches and patterns until I get them right.  My mom also knits and every time we have a new family member (birth or marriage) she knits a Christmas stocking for them.  She had joked with me that I would soon be ready to test my talents with one of the stockings.  I thought, "sure, why not".  Well, let me show you why not.  As shown with the beginning of Averie's stocking, it may not look like rocket science when you view what the world will see, but take a gander "behind the scenes" and look at that nightmare going on in all directions.  I AM NOT READY FOR THAT.

So that brings me to real life and I wonder how many times we have been guilty of looking at what we see as the "finished product" of our family, friends, strangers on the street, and assume we know how easy they must have it.  On the outside, everything looks like things are coming together for them; relationships, work, money, kids, health, etc.  But that is all we may ever see.  We have no idea the real life living going on "behind the scenes".  From now on, I am going to work on thinking less about the "presentation" and give more consideration to what could be a tangled nightmare that I know nothing about.

Flip-side...There are no words.....
And that's what I know for sure.  Things aren't necessarily as they seem - not for me, or for anyone else.  We are always preparing for our next production - and the next one may be for you.

Until next time.


your pal.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Every cookie has its price.

I can go for extended periods of time without eating sweets, until I am eating them several times daily.  Does anyone else know what I am talking about?  And keep in mind, I am selective about what I will binge on.  If I buy store bought cookies, they will sit in the pantry until I throw them out. (they are just not binge worthy)  I bought a huge bag of jolly ranchers about three months ago and still am working off that same bag.  But, let there be peanut M&M's in the house and I am like a rabid addict, once started, can't stop.  Even worse....candy corn.  If I break down and buy a bag, I know that once it is opened, I might as well resign myself to eating most of it in one sitting (even as I feel sick), just to get it out of the house.

I was wondering where this behavior came from.  Especially since I am so particular in what will draw me in.  I think I had a glimpse into my madness when I was eating a oatmeal chocolate chip cookie (did I say singular - HAHAHAHAHA) and thought to myself, I need to hide these or Terry will eat the rest of them.  The good news was, I didn't hide them and even more good news...I had a "recovered" memory.

Chief negotiator and crew
When we were growing up, Mom had the pleasure (and I use the term loosely) of trying to instill a fair allocation of EVERYTHING amongst five children - all very close in age.  There was no special advantage to birth order since five in six years tends to level the playing field.  We took turns for everything.   We divided everything and we split everything.  Let me give some examples.

We all had chores which we were assigned weekly by the days of the week.  We each had our own day of the week (Mom always had Saturday and Sunday).  Not only did you have the chore that went with your day of the week but you got to sit in the front seat on your day of the week, and have first pick of TV shows on your day.  Obviously, no one worried about child height/weight/age for front seat safety back in those days!  And if you had Monday one week, you would have Tuesday the next and so on and so forth.

My brother and I loved to bake.  If we made a double batch of cookies (and made them small) we could usually get around 72 cookies out of that batch.  After they cooled, we would take the total number made, divided by six and put the cookies in six baggies - marked with our names on them.  Katy used to hide her stash.  I am sure mine never lasted that long.  We didn't fight over the special treats, Mom made sure of that.  We just divided them.

On Saturdays (Mom's day), before the Lawrence Welk show came on (and probably just to keep the complaining down), Mom made popcorn and allowed us to each share a 16 oz. bottle of Pepsi.  The rule was, whoever did the pouring, the other party got first picks.  We learned about fair share and fairness at a young age in our household.

Banana Bread
But perhaps one thing that isn't readily apparent  was a life long lesson  learned early on - negotiation skills.  Halloween night was like the New York Stock exchange with every one's treasures poured out and bidding going on that became more sophisticated, the older we got.  Ahhh, those were the days!

All I know is, some of my best childhood deals started out with "if you give me one of your cookies...."

Until next time,


Your pal,


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What do you get when you wonder and worry?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and while our immediate family has been fortunate and escaped this particular type of cancer, we have not been untouched by the cruelties and suffering brought on by the sudden onset of this disease,  Many of our close friends, and extended family members have had to deal with this diagnosis and have heroically braved the battle.  And while many have won the initial skirmishes, not all have won the war.

While we know intimately the women who are waging the front-line battles, many times forgotten are the little heroes behind the scenes.  The children of these brave women who often are left "wondering and worrying" what will happen to their mothers - perhaps not understanding the full diagnosis, treatment plan, side affects, etc., basically the journey their mother is about to embark on.   This is true for any child whose parent is suffering a life threatening illness (be it dad or mom) but October in particular brought it to mind for me.  And we all know, parents worry about their children and what can be done for them.

Serving Austin and surrounding areas, one of the best kept secrets that needs to be spread is an organization called Wonders and Worries.  This group serves children who may have a parent diagnosed with a serious illness.  This group serves children regardless of the parent's ability to pay because that is the last thing a seriously ill parent needs to worry about at this point.  This organization has so many success stories of children and parents coping and surviving what can be a family's darkest hour.

I have had the honor of serving on the board of Wonders and Worries for the past eight months now and I continue to be amazed at the great work being done by a caring staff relying solely on donated dollars.  I know charitable giving is very personal and everyone has limited dollars to give but I would encourage you to visit the website:

Read firsthand  what has been done and continues to be done in and around the community.

For all of you who have or are struggling through a life threatening illness, particularly those of you with children - you are my shero (or hero).  Know that if you are in Austin, there is help available for you.  If you are in other locations, please look and see if there are other resources available.  God's blessings to you all!

Until next time,

your pal,


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What did we take pictures of.....before Selfies?

I had dinner tonight with my 17 year old daughter Madison, and her boyfriend Robert.  Wait, he didn't actually join us but I felt like he was there because Madi was busy "snapchatting" him while we waited for our meal.  Okay, and during our meal until I told her I didn't want to spend the entire evening in the restaurant.

I shouldn't assume that everyone knows what "Snapchatting" is.  This is an app on smart phones and tablets that allows you to take pictures of yourself and send them IMMEDIATELY to whoever you are "Snapchatting" with.  This can be one person or many.   You do this instead of talking or texting because we all know a picture is worth a thousand words.  Even pictures received at the rate of 3 per minute.  It's like a tennis match with pictures being volleyed back and forth until someone's face falls off from fatigue. 

The benefit of pictures versus words - words, if not chosen wisely, can leave an ugly mark and these are sight unseen.  Con - you can write words on the Snapchat so caution should be exercised at all times when combining the two.

Notice the countdown
Another benefit of Snapchat , the picture only lasts for a matter of seconds and then it disappears forever.   Downside:  A wily recipient can screensnap the photo if done really quickly (sorry Marissa, I needed an example),  Don't quote me on this, but screensnaps are frowned upon in several states.  

Snapchatting is not to be confused with "selfies".  Selfies are when you take pictures of yourself in various poses, pouts or places and share them with proclamations of praise, prose, or prattle generally to invite solidarity, commentary, or both.  (I feel fairly certain that some people are unaware that the camera lens would exist for any other purpose).  Selfies need no special app - you just point the phone at yourself and presto - you have taken a picture of yourself.

If you are really savvy, you will then check out what apps you can download to take that unfiltered shot and enhance the naked photo with the best lighting possible, perhaps eliminate any unfortunate red-eye and crop out any unnecessary clutter in the background.  You can create your own backgrounds to create a theme for the portrait (picture seems so tame now) that you are creating.

Just for fun you can download many other apps - though these are the ones you use when you save pictures of other people.  They have apps for what a person would like like when he/she is  xxx amount of years older,  or were xxx amount of pounds heavier.  Those are always fun for a few laughs.

And so many venues to post whatever you want to call the photos these days.  I never get it right and Madi corrects me all the time,  If I say snapshot, it's supposed to be screenshot (I think) or if I say picture of you - I really meant selfie.  I think you catch my drift.  But back to venues -obviously you can email or text pictures (old school and so limiting).  There is Facebook (where all your friends and friends of friends) can see, depending on settings.  Don't forget Instagram and Twitter.  I am sure there are more that I don't know about, because it's hard enough to try and keep up with those.

Don't get me wrong, I do love all the pictures and technology is amazing.  And now if you want  a picture of just about anyone - there is no short supply.  I chuckle when I think of our family pictures we have posed for in the past, but I also remember how much joy and planning went into those photographs, especially when we were doing the pictures as a Christmas surprise for someone.  

This is what I do know - I want every picture of my grandkids...and I don't care who is taking them.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What do you do with the loose ends?

Adorable, right?
Recently I have started knitting again. This is something I learned to do when I was in grade school and belonged to 4-H.  (Does that club still exist?)   I have picked up the needles from time to time over the years but I admit, it has been MANY years since I have taken the time to really enjoy choosing a project and completing it.  My daughter gave me a starter set for my birthday this year (her birthday is today-HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARISSA) and I promptly knitted a hot pad.  The first one looked more like a Chief's arrowhead, but I quickly got back in the swing of things and have been very successful since.  Guess who my inspiration has been??

One thing that comes with any knitting project is loose ends.  At first, I didn't know what to do with them.  Erroneously, I thought one should just cut them as close to the finished piece as possible.  This would be WRONG.  If you clip a loose end short (and hope for the best) at some point in time, it runs the risk of coming unraveled.  This is because you haven't dealt with it properly.  A loose end must be woven into the finished piece so that it becomes a PART of the piece.  I had to buy a tapestry needle and learn how to do this, but it was really quite easy. 

Blest be the tie that binds.
It made me think of all the loose ends we have in our life.  Some of these we create on our own - and we can leave them dangling for quite some time.  Maybe looping around to revisit them from time to time, never quite finishing the work as it was meant to be but always having a knitted stitch where a purl should be in the pattern of what was and what is. 

And then there are the loose ends that happen suddenly - no warning and many times caused by no act of our own.  Now we too are left dangling, caught off guard and holding on tightly to this thin piece of thread.  Wondering how this rough interruption happened in our planned piece of work we call life. 

So many things I don't know, but this is what I do:  Sometimes we wonder if we will survive at all but  we must remember; the loose end cannot be cut lest we unravel completely.  All loose ends, good, bad or indifferent, must be woven into the tapestry of our life so they become a part of who we are and not just who we are.   

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Things I like to count...and count on!

As mentioned in a prior blog, I am no stranger to a slight touch of OCD.  How I define "slight" is my obsessions are more entertaining and quirky than the type that need medication (so far).  I believe I was about 12 when I first realized that not EVERYONE counted the stairs when they went up and down them but hey - what an opportunity to work on math skills.  Even at my last place of employment which was on the fourth floor, (66 stairs) I would count by 1's, 2's, 3's, 4's...through 9's for variety.  Now that I reflect on it,  I am uncertain.  Can someone count the stairs for me tomorrow and get back with me.  I need to know if I remember the stair count correctly.  And therein lies my personal definition of obsessive/compulsive.  At least on my need to know basis.

So it should come as no surprise that I like to count my regular steps, too.  I was one of the first owners of the Fitbit and convinced many others that they needed to have one also.  That way not only could I count my steps, but I could monitor and compare steps with my "fitbit" friends.  That habit spilled over and/or collided with (I really think the other came first) counting calories.  I can go through phases where I count every calorie that goes in my mouth....and every calorie burned.  I log exercise, walking, swimming, eating.  This little jewel can even monitor sleeping habits.   People have asked me to help them monitor their health routine but because I can be a bit....INTENSE, I have to be careful.  I can go all JILLIAN in that role since I like to count so much.  

Remember my little grandson Nathan when I bought him his fitbit?  He resembled me strongly in his inclination to count those steps and meet his goal.  It's safe to say it did not skip a generation when I get texts like the one shown below from Marissa (#daughter2) who also has a fitbit that came with her mother's OCD label.  I must be proud.

It is never enough
For the most part, my habit is harmless and when I think of other things I like to count, I see a commonality about them.  Everyday I count my blessings, which always include friends, positive experiences, things that make me laugh (though not always appropriate - I still act like a 12 year old at times ).

On the other side of that coin, I will admit to counting how many times people use the same word during any given presentation.  If I hear it more than a few times - because in the precision of language;.a few can't be counted.  Sorry, it's just a habit.

Things I will continue to count on is forgiveness of sins (too many to count
), love and support from my family and friends, my sense of humor (though not always appropriate, it does lighten a dark day) and the ability to step up to the mike and sing when called upon (I know many of you were hoping for that one),

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hey Alexander - How about a "selfie"?

Lately, I have been very interested in all things historical.  Most recently, I have been enjoying "The Roosevelt's" special on PBS.  It is listed as an "intimate" look at their lives and apparently PBS and "regular" TV have huge discrepancies on the meaning of the word "intimacy".  Let's just say I could watch this PBS special comfortably with any family member (if they would only agree to watch it with me).  But I digress....

I have been thinking of the telephone lately, the cell phone to be specific, and marvel at how far it has come.  And that brings me to the history point.  We have probably forgotten that there were really two inventors that literally raced to the patent office within hours of each other to claim the prize of  "I DID IT FIRST".  Alexander Graham Bell (who just might share my birthday ) obviously won but that did not keep Elisa Gray from challenging Mr. Bell in a legal battle over the invention, which he ultimately lost.  This was in the 1870's, yet the litigious drumbeat sounds hauntingly familiar as it carries on today.   Think Robin Thicke versus the family of the late Marvin Gaye for a real-time example, although Robin seems to be a bit of a Pinocchio of late (perhaps fodder for a song of his own?)

Where was Mr. Bell invented the telephone as an attempt to improve the telegraph, which had already been in existence for some 30 years and was the very successful, established means of communication.  For my younger readers, this was something that involved Morse code (if you don't know what this is, look it up...I can't do everything) and was basically limited to sending and receiving one message at a time.  It also seemed to involve uniformed boys on bicycles that delivered these messages until they traded in one uniform for another and joined the Nazi regime if I remember my Sound of Music correctly.  Before I move on, let me state my disclaimer, that this would be one country's example only during this particular movie.  Is it just me or does the telegraph of old sound strikingly like our much 44 character Twitter in its new and improved setting?

So, to the cell phone.  Does anyone really talk on it anymore?  I was looking at my "house" phone today and felt a little sorry for it.  It reminded me of the old "first wife cliche".  You know the one. After the first wife/phone has done all the heavy lifting, the man (now older) trades her in for a younger and flashier model.  Sure, "she" can still make calls, will be there when he comes home (right where he left her) and has a certain ring about her that has grown...familiar, but she isn't going to change,  

And now here comes along Miss Cell Phone 2014A46TRIPLEXXX  or whatever hot model launches that finally catches the straying eye.  She will go everywhere and she makes you feel young again (and smart).  If a certain ring doesn't appeal to your mood, presto, you can change it.  Don't feel like talking, let's text.  Don't feel like being that direct,,send a Snapchat or maybe communicate via Facebook or Instagram.  The possibilities are endless.  Oh, she is a pricey model.  And don't think she won't need upgrades.  But worth every penny.  Don't you want a camera so you can Facetime?  How about an app so you can travel anywhere?  Make dinner reservations without dialing?  See what movies are playing?  Need a light so you can find your way home?  This little beauty does it all.  And dare I say it....she even has a "mute" button.

Don't fool yourself.  She comes with quirks.  And you better insure your latest honey.  If you lose her, leave her, or if someone steals her away, you are lost.  You have invested your LIFE into this new model.  And if you were foolish enough to  let your first love go, you will go home to  NOTHING.  

But if you kept old faithful around for eyerolls at parties,or  a paperweight when you needed one, that old darling will still place your call to report the little hussy missing, when you come home.

Just no selfies please.

Until next time
your pal,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Where five or more are gathered - it's a gamble!

Last week I made another quick visit to Kansas City.  While there I had the opportunity to have all five grandkids (ages 13 to 1 month) eat dinner with me at a local Winstead's with only one other adult (daughter Megan) in attendance.  I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all other diners who had the misfortune to be in this particular Winstead's at the same time we were.  I don't even need to name location, date or time....if you were know.

Silly boys
It started out so innocently, I arrived first with Colten and Dawson. Colten is 4 and one might describe him as "determined" when he makes his mind up on something.  Dawson, not quite two, likes to be held when he is unsure of where he is (and I am not going to lie...I encourage that), Winstead's qualified.  We started off on a shaky note when Colten needed to use the restroom IMMEDIATELY.  Unfortunately, a small power struggle between the men and ladies room ensued as Colten informed me HE WAS NOT A GIRL and was not going in THAT ROOM.  I was not willing to let him go alone into the men's room and I was making desperate eyes toward the door, waiting for the big boys to arrive with Megan and Averie (sweet baby girl).  Now Colten was on the floor (sorry Lisa, I might have left this part out) and I was cringing at possible germ contamination when Ethan and Nathan arrived.  Don't get me wrong, he wasn't being bad, he just was tired of standing while we were "discussing" options.  Forgetting my indoor voice, I notified Ethan of the SITUATION and posthaste he relieved me of my responsibility.

Colten cleaned his plate!
Okay, crisis averted and back to the table.  After we were all settled, our poor waitress arrived to deal with mass chaos as everyone declared what they wanted to eat simultaneously.  After we got that sorted out, Colten began the entertainment portion of the evening.  He LOVES being with the big boys and now he forgot his indoor voice as he made sure everyone knew he was talking to them (at any given time).  I believe this is when Averie started crying.....

When the food arrived, it was Nathan's turn to need to crawl out of the booth to use the facilities.  (my inside voice was saying a few things but mostly inside my head).  Dawson was thoroughly enjoying his malt and about that time Madi called via FACE TIME to join in the fray.  Megan and I were now taking turns trying to feed  Averie, smile and agree with Dawson that the malt was good and yes, Colten you are doing a GREAT job.

Ethan, being the teenager, kept looking around making sure he knew NO ONE and since Nathan was Colten's main point of interest, he just kept being Nathan.


As we staggered out of the diner, I thought I heard a round of applause from one of the tables, but can't be sure.  I know my mom had five of us,  First question - WHY?  Second question - HOW?  and not THAT HOW, but how did you manage it?

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

For all the late breaking news...wait 50 years!

I have always enjoyed learning about history, but it wasn't until I was older that I realized that history was written by the winners.  And it wasn't until recently that I realized how much history has been postponed and continues to be postponed.  Files are sealed and not to be opened for 50 years or more.  Personal histories can be rewritten by sealing and or destroying files.  And this is allowed.

Am I the only one that finds this interesting?  As a firm believer that we must know our history in order to learn from it, what does one do when history changes?  Isn't it challenging enough that the countries we learned in grade school don't even have the same names anymore?  Whatever happened to Yugoslavia?

When I was in junior high, every year we had the opportunity to participate in the "United Nations".  Before I go any further, for those of you who are not familiar with "junior high" (since it no longer exists), in the olden days,  that would be grades 7-9.  If you were selected, your delegation of about three students would choose a country, learn all about it; politically, culturally, and historically and represent this country when the "United Nations" met - usually a two-day period when many different schools would come together and convene.  It was very educational and fun.  I can't imagine doing that in today's world.  You would have to come prepared with different placards, in the event your country was seized during the course of the day, you could then change names, etc.

Let's talk a bit about sealing files.  We all are aware of the more famous cases.  FBI files on the late President John F. Kennedy have been sealed for 50 years as of 2013 and while some have been declassified, many remain sealed.  As new information comes to light, it changes information we have considered HISTORY.  Files on his brother Robert, which lend insight to information regarding his brother's assassination and the Warren Commission are still for the large part, unavailable. 

How about Martin Luther King, Jr.?  Fun fact, did you know his birth name was Michael?  As was his father's?  Okay - well, his files are sealed until 2027?  These men are important historical figures and what information is being withheld for such a long time that we can't be trusted with it? 

Or is our reality really one of a script that plays well for the current audience and when that audience changes....say in about 50 years or will the script.  If the information is negative, why would we allow leaders to live out there legacy and only reveal same information after they are dead?  Or maybe the information about them isn't negative but people involved in their death?  They may have a powerful legacy?  Do we really not want to rock that boat, because the passengers on the ship can't handle it?  WE ARE THE PASSENGERS!!!

I was talking to a guy yesterday and he said "what does it really matter now anyway?".  Would we be so cavalier in our personal life?  What if we were married for 50 years and found out our mate was a serial killer?  (think BTK killer on this one).  It does matter. 

We will need to live long lives and keep our memories strong to sort out the different truths we are being told - not only by our historians/politicians today, but if we ever want to hear "the rest of the story" (as Paul Harvey would say).

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Standards.....Best practices? I just want RULES!

I am one of those people that do so much better when I understand the rules.  Who is with me?  I remember when I was in third grade, Mom asked for a yellow chiffon blouse for a gift (birthday or memory is not THAT good).  I thought this blouse was beautiful and it was understood between Mom and me that when I was old enough - and of a certain "size", I would be allowed to wear it.  Of course, by the time that day came, I would no sooner wear my mom's clothes than hang out with her friends.  RIGHT???  Those were the "rules".  There was a certain standard and everyone understood how it was.

Even the Archie comics (Archie, Reggie, Veronica, Betty, etc.) liked everything opposite of their parents.  This would be called a best practice by the time I was a teenager.  Most of us liked rock and roll while our parents still liked country but it wasn't unheard of, if an occasional song was played and enjoyed by both.  Obviously, you didn't brag about it, but everyone could sing along in the car.

Growing up, there were certain things that went without saying:   You fly on a plane - you dress up.  You go to church - you dress up.  You go to meet your boyfriend's parent's and are unsure what to wear - you wear a skirt because you can NEVER be overdressed.  (I still remember a friend's mother telling me that).  You go to work - you wear a dress.  You go to school (right up until 7th grade for me) - you wear a dress unless it is 15 degrees or colder and then you may wear pants under your dress.  Where ever you went - there most always was a rule book to follow - work (employee handbook); school (school handbook); church (church directory with introductions, instructions, etc.); airplane (you went to a travel agent, silly).

Now, when I fly on a plane, while I am grateful that I don't have to dress up, I may be the only one dressed.  It is amazing what some people feel comfortable flying in.  Apparently it is frowned on to stare or take pictures with your IPhone while pretending to take a "selfie" so that you can send same picture to your sister.  This much I have been told.

Church - I am old school and still like to wear a dress but I am just glad to see other's join me in worship, regardless of attire.  One thing I have been noticing lately is that others (over the age of 2) beside the Pastor are bringing drinks in during the service.  I don't mean alcoholic drinks (other than least that I am aware of).  The occasional water bottle didn't surprise me (I have often longed for one during my marathon hymn singing) but more recently I have seen canned soda.  Again, I have been discouraged from 1) bringing in my Sonic and asking for a cupholder; 2) setting up a concession stand near the entrance of the church even though I thought it could possibly be a fundraiser for the offering plate and 3) asking everyone to pick up their trash around the pew before they leave.  FINE.

Work - yes as recently as 1992 (and most of you can figure out where I was working) it was required that I wear a dress to work.  The CEO at the time said to one of the ladies "you don't want to look like a boy, do you"?  Same CEO kept liquor in the cabinet but that is another blog topic.  There were only three of us that were female working there at that time and two of us were single mothers so we just waited until he retired.  It's not always as equal out there as one would think.  Now, dress codes are vague at best and I was once criticized for undermining diversity by asking that our employees present a clean and non-threatening appearance.  Interesting......

Finally - there is nothing concrete about our rules anymore.  They are as fluid as the Internet.  You must be vigilant about checking on-line for changes because that is where you will find employee handbooks, school expectations and church affiliations and beliefs.  AND IGNORANCE OF ANY OF THE ABOVE IS NO EXCUSE.

My shirt.
And may I say one more 17 year old, Madison (along with my two adult daughters, Megan and Marissa. who will remain ageless to protect my vanity) have never understood the rule about "mom" clothes.  Apparently my closet has and always will be a FREE FOR ALL.  And nothing is sacred....I MEAN NOTHING!

She is even wearing my glasses!
Just the other day, Madi noticed that I had on her basketball shorts.  The conversation went something like "are those my shorts....yea...why do you have them...because you have my sports, you have my sports bra....I have it because I want mine back......

I think you get the gist.  I have resorted to retaliatory methods but the best was when she couldn't find her workout spandex shorts.  Guess who was wearing them?

Until next time -

your pal,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

She has my eyes, and your split personality!

It all starts out so innocently.  And really very much a territorial type thing.  You finally have a child of your own (or grandchild) and quickly everyone starts claiming attributes. You are keen to determine who the baby looks like, pulling out pictures of other children, siblings and perhaps even your own baby picture.
The original

 I remember when Marissa was born, much arguing was going on as to who she looked like, when I already knew she looked exactly like me.  Always being one to prove my point, I slipped my newborn picture in the mix.  My mother-in-law (at the time) picked it up and said, "oh, you have a new picture of the baby".  HA!  Needless to say, case closed.  

Need I say more?
The the children get older, and it becomes less about looks and more about expressions.  Comments are made such as "when she furrows her brow like that, she looks just like you".  So now it's not so much about nature, but about nurture.  And I don't know about you, but these can even be self expressions, ones you "felt"  at times, even as you are projecting them.  For me, all of a sudden, something will happen and I will have a certain resigned look on my face that almost simultaneously signals an image in my head of my mom with that same expression.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, Mom.

Maybe this all goes back to examples versus requests.  The old - "do what I say, not what I do".  I remember when we were kids we used to think it was hysterical to ask mom if she was in a good mood and she would scream back "YES I AM IN A GOOD MOOD"!   Back then, we were entertained quite easily.  Now, when kids get older and examples of behavior show up, it's a rare few, that smile and say "Oh, she gets that hateful attitude from me" like we did when they first opened their beautiful eyes.  This is when our more generous attitude of parent sharing kicks in and we are more likely to let the other parent enjoy some of the limelight.  When any of the kids would come to me, upset, for example, because they couldn't run as fast, jump as high....(fill in the blank) as the other kids, I would pull them up on my lap, smooth their troubled brow and whisper, "I am so sorry.  You must get your lack of (fill in the blank) from your dad.".   Then we would give each other a half-hearted smile, a shrug of the shoulders (what can you do?) and move on  from there.  I say...let the chips fall where they may.
Some things just carry on!

Now the grand kids come to visit and you recognize traits that have been passed down to the NEXT generation.  And some of them are more familiar to you on a personal level than a parental level.  HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?  My dad used to tell us when we were young "I hope you have five kids (because there were five of us) and that they are just like you".  I always thought he was being complimentary until I was much older.  Apparently, these things can skip generations.....I didn't know.

But this is what I do much as I love being a parent - being a grandparent is even better.  Even if some suspect behavior has been passed down, now time limits are in place.  Full time love - part time responsibility. And all my kids look like me - either by expression or naturally!  So what if the 10 year old grandson is a little OCD.   If he wants to count steps during dinner time, he has a goal to reach:  10,000 steps a day - YOU KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT!
Oh wait, that is Colten with Kelsey (she's not real)

Until next time,

your pal, Kari

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What lies between a Noun and a Verb is apathy

If you read last week's blog, you will have noticed, I HAVE A NEW GRANDDAUGHTER.  And I love her.  I say it, I believe it, but when it comes down to it....what does love have to do with it?  As a noun probably not much.  Because so many times, in today's is not enough.

Even the word "love" is overused or maybe overrated.  (As a noun, anyway).  How many times do we casually toss the word around?  I love Sonic (my example).  What does that mean?  Would I go to the ends of the earth for my Diet Green Tea, with a splash of peach, extra ice?  I think not.  In fact, there are days, (and I know some of you will find this hard to believe), that I make a choice not to go to Sonic.  That doesn't sound like love.    I am not going to focus on the things that love will not do.  That is something all of us are all too familiar with.  Let's talk instead about what love could do.

So, what is love?  I believe love only becomes alive as a verb.  When it takes action and evolves into something that is an extension of the intense feelings that love evokes.  Love is not just fathering (or giving birth) to a new baby, but putting that baby's needs before your own.  Not just when the baby first arrives. but as the baby grows into a toddler, a child, a sometimes not so lovable teenager.  Love is providing a stable home life (as best as one can) with examples of love being shown so that a child can imitate that love to his friends and future family by sharing and caring.

But can we trust that children should learn that love at home?  Watch the news on any given night and you will have the answer.  Whether it be choice (and not by the children) or circumstance (not by the parents), many of our children - our FUTURE, are living in poverty conditions, some abused, some neglected and in many cases, someone knows.  It could be a family member, neighbors, school teachers...but someone knows.  And yet these conditions look like "child's play" compared to children in other countries who must wake up to the sound of bombing, air strikes and the cries of those wounded and dead around them.

What can we do?  We must do what we can - every day.  Every time.  Take the judgement out of our eyes and put out our hands.  To lift someone up who needs help; a bag of groceries; a ride to the doctor.  Volunteering our time, treasure and talents.  And we shouldn't wait to be asked.  We know where we are needed.

Love is never a noun.  Let your love take action.  And it will lead you to a new level.

Until next time,


your pal,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Taste buds and love unite!

I love to bake!  It has been one of my favorite things to do with my daughters over the years.  And through the years, we have added to our repertoire of  items we "make and bake".  Many things we have made, everyone loves.  Taste buds and love unite!!!!  But other things, in fact a couple of my favorite things, have not been a favorite with my very own family.  How can we be related?  Do you ever wonder that, when something (or someone) you love does not win the heart of another person you love?

Or what about when your own  "taste changes".  When I was growing up, I remember eating macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and one particular tuna casserole with potato chips on top.  Ring any bells?  I can tell you that I no longer wish to eat these particular foods; my "taste" has changed.  By the same token,  I did not like olives, any type of fish (other than fish sticks) and also would not eat food that had "touched".  I will eat all types of olives now, try most fish and am not adverse to mixing and matching food on my plate.  Tastes change.

That happens with love, too.  The divorce rate didn't reach the heights it has soared too from a few simple bad choices.  Like a five course meal, love is complicated.  Which tools do you use?  There are a ton of recommendations but no book of instructions to ensure success in any relationship.  Human love is shallow or deep, complicated, conditional, (or not), ever changing, overwhelming  and necessary.  How can anyone survive that?    Our taste buds aren't much different.  They are sensitive, particular, discerning, ever changing and necessary for satisfaction.  Just like love, we are lucky if they last our lifetime.
This is LOVE 

One person's soul mate is another person's nightmare.  Your favorite dish is your child's punishment.  It's good that we are all so diverse but so interesting that we are all so diverse.  These thoughts all occur as I have been spending quality time holding my latest grandchild (first girl) and marveling at this thing called love, how quickly it presents itself, how you can see and feel the results of  love in the face of your grandchild.

I think I will go get a Sonic!
Match made in Heaven!

Until next time

your pal,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Boundaries - Real or Imagined - Don't cross the dotted line.

I have spent the past eleven days with my older grandsons; Ethan is almost 14 and Nathan is 10.  Most days we have Madi with us and on those days I am "mom" first but on the days when she is otherwise entertained, I am all "Mimi".  I have found the boundaries change when the parental role is removed and it has also been noticed by my grandsons.  Not that I will win any awards for the most conventional parenting, I always try to introduce education and fun in our outings.

In my younger parenting days, I used my children as the outlet for my attempts at humor - nothing mean-spirited, but in the genre of "honey, put on this hat and go stand by ???? so I can take your picture"  Basically fill in the blank depending on the nature of our outings.  Now I find (much to their amusement, amazement, and at times, even chagrin, I prefer to be the one in the photo.  Over the past few years, Madi has gotten used to it, to the point where she might even say, "Look Mom, photo opportunity ahead".  We both know who and what she is talking about.  Unfortunately for the boys, they are still a little green at this adventure and are adjusting as best they can.

Behind every woman 
Introduce into evidence, Photo #1.  We are heading into the Oasis and the hostess greets us.  "How many for dinner"?  Even as I am answering, out of my excellent peripheral vision, I spot HIM!  It's as if I have been waiting to meet him my entire life.  His arms are held out for me and as I wave off the hostess, I am shouting instructions to Madi - "Quick, over here".  Now, I only have to let Terry know.

Next event was two days later at the State Capital.  After presiding over a very important Senate Committee meeting (well, we were in the room), I saw the Statue of Liberty.  Unfortunately for Ethan, Madi was not with us.  In all fairness, I asked the boys if they wanted a picture first.  After declining (WTF), I shared the news that I would need one.

And justice for All!

 Ethan suggested perhaps we could do that on our way out.  Seeing through his attempts to divert me and seek alternative exits, I insisted that now was the time.  Notice in the picture that the Statue of Liberty (all the way in from NEW YORK CITY) offered me the opportunity to hold the Freedom Torch.  It was quite a day....but not over yet.

It could have read Black and Blue!
Soon I would learn that Ethan had boundaries of his own.  As we were leaving, I saw the Women In Black staging a protest in front of the capital.  I believe we all know where this is leading.  I WANTED IN THAT PICTURE.  It would be beneath my dignity to say I did anything more than ask my grandson if he would consider taking my picture with those ladies.  So that is all I will say I did.  However, he drew the line. Mentioned something about them not being statues or other objects and besides I didn't have on black.

But at the end of the day, I think I had competition for the real or imagined world we were all creating and living in.  I WIN!!!!!!

Until next time,

your pal,
Austin is the City of Music

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