Friday, December 14, 2012

Peace, Hope, Love and Joy

The natural tendency when you are sick is to be home.  You don't want to be at work.  You don't want to be out with friends.  You just want to be home in your own bed.  Now, think about the chronically ill.  Someone who everyday battles feelings from "not up to par" to "god just kill me now".  What is their natural instinct?  To stay home, be alone, isolate themselves.  And honestly that is what I have done for several years now.  I have only gone "out" when I needed to.  My children's activities forced a certain level of interaction with other people.  My husband's job as minister forced me into interaction with others.  But then my children grew up and left those activities, and my husband left his job.  I woke up one day and realized that my interactions with other people were severely limited. And as much as I loved my husband, I needed girlfriends.

So I hit the computer looking for a book club.  I came upon Meetup.  I looked through several different groups.  Researched the books they had read in the past, and looked through their members and pictures.  I wanted to find women who were in similar situations as myself.  I hit upon one with an unlikely name, "The Southern Ladies Book Club".  The pictures showed women who were goofy and quirky but nice looking.  So, I joined.  In September I drove to a parking lot to meet 2 new women and drive to Durham to meet 8 more.  I was terrified. 

This summer my best friend, Allison, and I started crafting together once a week.  We enjoy doing many crafty/artsy things and found doing them together was even more fun.  As the weeks went by, we began to talk about selling our goods. (She makes amazing handcrafted jewelry and is already out there in that business.)  So we did it.  For the past two weekends, we have gone to craft fairs and had a booth.  Yes, I put out there in the public things that I had created.  On top of that I came face to face with strangers.  The word stressful doesn't even begin to cover my feelings.

I have a great part time job that I get to do from home on my computer.  It is fairly easy and honestly a bit tedious.  Jack and I both do it, and that makes it a bit more fun.  It is with an educational company so it keeps me feeling somewhat in the loop.  Recently Jack was looking for other jobs because our screening was not as profilic as in the past.  He came upon a job that sounded right up my alley!  It is reviewing video tapes that teachers submit and giving specific feedback to help them improve.  So, I applied.  Part of the application process was to view a video and give feedback without any training on the specifics they were looking for.  This was a nerve-wracking ordeal.  I really want this job.

Now I find myself bare and vulnerable.  At times I am scared out of my mind, but there is also an excitement.  I am starting to develop friends in the book club.  I am even going to do something with some of them outside of the club!  I have found friends, on my own, who like me!  ME!  Not the preacher's wife, not Stephen's mom, not Allie's mom, but KAKI!!!

At those craft fairs, people actually bought my creations.  They actually thought they were cute.  I made money!!  The door is now wide open.  I started small, but I have BIG ideas.  Allison and I are starting a new venture in 2013.  It is exciting to see where this leads us.

As for the job, I don't know yet.  It is highly likely I won't get it.  I know the lady who created this and the program doesn't have time to train people, so they are looking for people who naturally norm like they want.  But the possibility is exciting.  This means I might find something one day that is a bit closer to the classroom!

The advent season is about joy, hope, love and peace. In stepping outside my comfortable space, I have found joy and love in being accepted.  I have found hope that there are more things I can do to contribute to this world as my children need me less.  Peace settles around me as I decide to not settle for a limited life, but to go after much, much more.

Where are you today?  Are you allowing your fear to hold you back?  Or are you out there making the most of this precious life you have?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Menu Plan Monday on Tuesday

Uh oh!  Monday kind of slipped by me!  Sorry!  I know many of you are off having family dinners and may not need a plan, but I am not.  Since we have moved east, we are always home for the holidays.  It has taken some getting used to for me.  I was used to lots of family and a lot of hub bub around the holidays.  But over the years, I have come to really cherish our quiet time with just the four of us or maybe my mil or my parents.  It is calm and peaceful.  Well, especially now that the kids are older it is calm and peaceful!  So I started preparing the entire Thanksgiving feast on my own fifteen years ago.  My mom is always near the phone on Wed. through Thursday morning, just in case!  And it never fails, that I have to call for just one thing.  Maybe it is more to feel her there with me in the kitchen, for that is where I feel the loneliest.  Our kitchen was always filled with people and lots of bustling.  I am not saying it was all good bustling, but it was NOT lonely!

This year has a bit more "special-ness" to it.  This time next year, our table may be missing one person.  Allie is applying to a gap year with Global Initiative.  If accepted, she will be gone a whole year.  It just struck me recently that means no Thanksgiving, no Christmas, no Birthday!!!!  So I plan on enjoying the peace and calm and soaking it all in.

Monday - Cheeseburger Cupcakes

Tuesday - Chicken Tortilla Soup

Wednesday - Going out with Jack's mom and his brother

Thursday - Turkey
                   Sweet Potato Casserole
                   Potato Casserole
                   Green Bean Casserole
                   Sister Schubert's Rolls
                   Pumpkin Pie
                   Chocolate Pie

Friday - Leftovers!

Saturday - Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

You will notice I went pretty easy with the calories on Monday and Tuesday.  I figure we will eat too many calories on Thursday, and I am hoping off set that with lower calorie meals the rest of the week!

This week I heard from Jill Lawson again!  Her family loved the chicken tortilla soup!  I also heard from Lea Slaton who tried the Chicken Bake.  She was skeptical at first like I was, but said it was delicious!  So, what are you trying this week?  Or better yet, what is on your menu?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Last week I actually heard from someone that had tried one of the recipes from our menu!  How exciting!  Jill Woodruff Lawson, you made my day.  So, if you try one of the recipes, give me a shout out and maybe you will get your name published on my blog as well!!!  :-)

Well, this week we are having some oldies, but goodies!

Sunday - Taco Soup (recipe following)

Monday - Honey Mustard Chicken Strips

Tuesday - Baked Ziti w/ Spinach
                 Zucchini Rounds

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Spaghetti
                  Olive Garden Salad

Friday - Chicken Bake

Saturday - Roast
                 Potatoes and Carrots

My taco soup recipe is kind of one of those oopsies!  I was following a recipe from a cookbook, and didn't quite read it right and BOOM!  A new soup was discovered!  So, here is this VERY difficult soup.

KaKi' Taco Soup

1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 can corn
1 can kidney beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pkg. taco seasoning

After draining the meat, add the taco seasoning and let it heat up a bit.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, juice and all.  Let it come to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer 20 minutes.  We eat it plain, with sour cream, with chips, however we feel like it or our calories for the day allow!!

Hope you like this week's menu, let me know if you try one out!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Creativity brings Joy

 Being creative brings me joy.  I love to create something from yarn, material, or found objects.  Currently I am on a 2x4 kick and an embroidery kick.  I have been cutting shapes from felt and embroidering details.  I have painted 2x4's and made pumpkins from them.  I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when it all comes together.  One of my big accomplishments this week was taking an old Goodwill flannel men's shirt and cutting it down to fit my body.  This summer my friend, Allison, and I got together to  make a tailor dummie out of duct tape.  We found old floor lamps and wooden hangers and built our own stands.  We had a lot of fun and Sister Sue sits up in my craft room.  This week she finally made her debut and helped me to tailor the shirt.  I made some mistakes and learned some new techniques.  It was exactly what I
needed.  Now that I have practiced, I have a really nice LL Bean shirt I am going to remake.  It was also a Goodwill find!

What ways do you find to create in your life?  Is it cooking?  Writing? Music?  Art?  Gardening?  Drawing?  I would love to hear from each of you.  Most of all, I hope you find the joy in your life.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Let Your Light Shine

I have written about my daughter several times.  She is one of the most amazing people I know, thus worth writing about.  Today my thoughts go back to her as a five year old.  We had just moved here, to NC and left behind her best friend, Molly.  We had also left behind her beloved Montessori school, and Mrs. Kelsey.  Montessori was a fabulous experience for Allie.  She was very motivated and self directed.  She flourished in this environment so much so that we were contemplating letting her attend kindergarten there as well.  This was huge coming from two very pro-public school parents!  But then we moved and that settled that question.  We registered our kids in the neighborhood school because we missed the deadline for magnet schools.  Cary Elementary was a far cry from what Stephen had experienced in Bethesda Elementary and an even farther cry from Allie's Montessori school.  Allie had the hardest time adjusting to the differences. 

Allie from the time she could speak had a very firm grasp on right and wrong and fair and unfair.  I know she is not that different from most kids at that age, but she verbalized her opinions much stronger than most kids her age.  So walking into a traditional kindergarten classroom was a shock.

Allie was taller than most five year olds, but extremely skinny.  I would buy dresses several sizes big to get the length, and then the dress would just wrap around her little body.  So when she came running down the hill from the bus stop, she would billow!  It was quite amusing.  What wasn't so amusing was the big note that inevitably would be pinned to her chest.  She would always jump in my arms needing to be held and reassured after a day away from me.  After that, and while she was snacking, I would read the note.  "Allie was on yellow today because she would not put her work away when it was circle time."  That was the gist of all the notes.  I would sit down with her and ask about what happened.  She would cry and explain that she wasn't through yet and Mrs. Kelsey always said to finish your work before you moved on.  I would calmly explain that Mrs. Postal's class was different.  "But it is unfair!"  would ultimately pour out of this little girl's mouth.  I would hold her as she would then spill every unfair thing that had happened that day.  You see, Allie didn't just observe the unfairness around her, she felt it.  Physically.  She would absorb all that unfairness and wrongness, and then come home to let it out on me.  Yes, to say that kindergarten was a hard year would be an understatement.

This is the narrative of Allie's kindergarten experience that gets retold.  But there is another narrative that lurks there under the surface.  Mrs. Postal had a full-time aid, Mrs. Mujica.  Mrs. Mujica saw Allie.  She saw the bright little girl who stored hurts, just like she did.  She saw the leader in Allie, the resilience, the bravery, the heart.  She became Allie's champion.  Often, when Mrs. Mujica could see that Allie was struggling, she would take Allie with her on "errands".  She would talk to her and build her up.  Almost as often as a note was pinned on Allie's chest, a note would be tucked in Allie's lunchbox.  This note would be from Mrs. Mujica.  "Allie, what a great smile you had today as you worked.  I noticed you helping Sara.  Thank you.  Love, Mrs. Mujica"  She wanted Allie to know that she was good and that the goodness had been seen.   Mrs. Mujica was a pet lover, so when we got Sunshine, they bonded over their dogs.  I think Mrs. Mujica played a big role in Allie coming to accept Sunshine, actually.

What could have been a terrible experience for Allie turned into a cherished memory.  I am not saying that it wasn't hard for Allie and for me, but Mrs. Mujica brought light where darkness could have reigned.  In fact, Allie wants to be a Kindergarten teacher one day. 

On this day, a day that holds significant importance, we need to stop and think about the Mrs. Mujica's.  We often reflect only on the negative and overlook the positive.  Whoever wins this election we will still be here.  There will still be poor people, sick people, hurting people.  This world will still need light.  So, as the election comes to a close this evening and we all learn who will lead us, let us not focus on the dark, the negative.  Let us see the positive, let us be the light where we see darkness. 

Mrs. Mujica died when Allie was in 6th grade.  It was a tragic loss, not only for her young family, but for the many children and families she touched.  Even though she is not here to continue lighting our world, I know my family shines brighter because of her.  I wonder how many lives Allie will shine light into because of knowing Mrs. Mujica.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Menu Monday

Back when I was writing regularly on my blog, I had certain subjects for specific days.  Menu Monday, Wordless Wednesday, and Thankful Thursday.  I know that many of my friends are busy mothers, busy business people, well, just busy.  I know that I am always looking for new and easy recipes to cook.  Now, that I am home, I have more time to research ideas and make plans.  Even though I am home and I have time, I do not like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen making dinner.  So I think I will start back publishing our menu plan, in hopes that it will give my friends some ideas.  Pinterest has offered us many new and exciting dinner options.  I have enjoyed finding new blogs that offer great meal options.  I hope you will enjoy.

Sunday - Crispy Chicken Wraps These are really delicious.  They are pretty high in calorie, so we didn't add a side dish to this.

Monday - Chicken Tortilla Soup LOVE this soup!!!
                 Southwest Salad  This salad is great by itself with grilled chicken or not!

Tuesday - Taco Cupcakes  This girl has some awesome low cal ideas!

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Barbecue Chicken Breasts
                   Roasted Zucchini and Broccoli

Friday - Hamburgers
              Sweet Potato Fries

Saturday - Quesadilla

That is what we are having this week, what about you?

Monday, October 22, 2012

My House

I love my home.  It is not anything fancy.  It would by no means be featured in an upcoming Southern Living, but it is just right for me.  I have lived in many houses over the years.  Houses in the country, houses in town, and houses in cities.  Houses with one story, two stories, and four stories.  Some of the houses I have gotten to paint, choose carpet, choose wallpaper, etc.  Others I have had to make do with what was there.  I have had favorites.  I loved the second house we lived in when we where in Bethesda.  It was old and had little nooks here and there.  But it only had one and half baths.  The thing was, none of the houses belonged to us.  We were  renting them or they were parsonages.  When we moved to Raleigh, we were finally able to buy our own home.   We were excited and scared.  Jack read the book "Buying Houses for Dummies".  He did all the numbers and came up with what he thought we could afford.  He patiently explained to me that just because the bank said we could borrow more, that didn't mean we could afford more.  I was frustrated with him...but now I am so thankful he did his homework!

Finally the day came for us to actually start looking.  We had one day allotted to find a home.  Our fabulous realtor, Tom Hawkins, had done his homework as well.  He knew our price range and basically what we were looking for and found several listings for us to look at.  Tom was tickled by my "looking" method.  I usually walked inside the house and said either "no"  or "well, let's look".  He didn't get it.  He wanted me to articulate "my feeling".  But I couldn't, I just had a "feeling" about the house.  It started getting late in the day before we got to the Cary area.  We drove by one listing and loved the neighborhood, and the outside of the house.  But unfortunately we couldn't see the house that day.  We drove over to another house which we also liked and toured it.  I liked it.  It was nice.  Two things though.  I didn't get "the feeling" when I walked in and the owners were selling because the wife had arthritis and was having trouble with all the steps (it was a split level).  That concerned me because I was starting to have trouble with arthritis myself.  Jack and I finally decided to push our departure back one more day.  The next morning we walked into the house we hadn't seen.  Immediately, I knew it was our home. I loved how the entryway was tall and open and well lit.  It really welcomed you into the house.  The master was on the first floor which was also a big bonus. It was a bit on the small side.  It only had a great room, not a separate living space.  But we knew this was the one.  Luckily for us it all worked out.
This is our house BEFORE it was painted!

Over the years I have painted every room except for the dining room and Stephen's room.  I totally redid my kitchen myself.  Okay, Okay, yes I have had some help painting and redoing my kitchen!   Thank you Nancy, Mike, Kevin, Grace, Janet, Donnie, Phil, Lou and Allison. These people have taught me new skills and helped me complete tasks when either my ability or my body was not capable.  I have enjoyed making this house ours.

When the kids started getting older, we started considering moving to a larger house.  We even looked into buying a home with an in-law suite and have Jack's mom move in with us.  But we quickly decided we couldn't afford a house big enough to accommodate our privacy.  :-)  So we stayed.  Now as the house is starting to empty of our kids, the house is feeling just the right size.  Of course I do think of the days when we will have spouses and grandchildren.  But, I think we can pull it off.  Plus, the majority of time we will be here alone.  We also from time to time think about moving into Raleigh so Jack's commute could be shorter.  But we keep coming back to we love our neighbors and I love the smallness of Cary.  Plus, I love my little home.

The house is starting to show wear and tear.  As we were cleaning yesterday, we noticed how disgusting the carpet on the stairs is becoming.  We are doing a special cleaning because we have a guest coming tomorrow.  It is interesting to me that when I have guest, I see my house so differently.  Suddenly I see everything that is wrong with it.  I am not as happy with it as I was just the day before.    I spent most of my adult life to this point worrying about what others would think about my house.  I didn't want people to be disgusted by it.  Think I was lazy because it wasn't perfectly cleaned and decorated. 

The older I get, the easier it is for me to turn off those voices.  I do the best I can.  Sure, there are dog hairs around, and yes, sometimes it looks like lots of small dogs, but I am also busy being creative.  I am busy writing this blog.  I am busy making memories with my family.  I am busy resting and taking care of my body.  Honestly, I don't invite a lot of people into my home.  The ones I do, love me for me.  They know my limitations and look past them.

So, yea, I love my little home.  And I am not going to let my perfectionistic voice get in the way of that.  One day Stephen's room will be painted, the dining room will be painted, the carpet on the stairs will be removed, and I will be able to hire someone to do what I cannot.  But until then, I will listen to the sounds of my children playing tag in my house, the sounds of squeals as the kids play with Sunshine, the sounds of us reading aloud, the sounds of a happy family.

Friday, October 19, 2012


I find myself at a place in my life where I am happy, content, and at peace.  I haven't always been here.  I fell into the trap of "the grass is greener" mindset for several years.  I also played the blame game.  It was Jack's fault, the church's fault, my health's fault, my children's fault, you name it, it was their faults!  But then my life became much simpler and I suddenly found the answer for me.

I have every right in the world to be angry about how my body has betrayed me.  Friends my age are starting to feel the things I started feeling at 20!  My peers health-wise are 70 year olds.  So, yeah, I have a right to be pissed.  I didn't choose this, I didn't ask for this, and I didn't do anything to cause it.

My children are on the precipice of leaving our home.  Stephen is already gone and Allie will leave next fall.  My role of being an everyday mom is closing down.  Allie is driving and working and self-sufficient.  I have no responsibilities in her everyday life.  I could be very depressed about this.  The past twenty years of my life revolved around them and their needs.  There is a hole there.

With Jack's career change, came a change in money.  Money is tight.  We watch every penny and make many sacrifices.  I could blame Jack for leaving a stable job.

I would venture to guess that all of you have a list as well.  Bad jobs, little money, illness, loneliness, hate where you live, don't have the life you thought you would have at this stage in life, the list goes on.  Maybe you blame your current circumstances on Obama.  I hear from a lot of people on facebook and the tv that seem to do just that.  Maybe you blame your spouse, your children, etc.

I wonder what our lives  would be like if we stopped blaming, stopped being mad, and made a different choice.  Yes, you have a choice.  Okay, maybe you have to keep your current job.  Maybe you can't change your living situation.  Most can't change their health.  So you feel trapped.  But are you?

What I have learned in recent years is that I do have a choice.  I can choose to be gloomy and angry or I can choose the find the joy in my life.  It isn't always easy.  In fact, sometimes it can be downright impossible.  But, I challenge you to keep digging.

My health has given me the opportunity to meet many wonderful people.  I have met other patients whose lives have enriched my own.  I have met healthcare professionals whom I really care about.  My health has given me the opportunity to live a more simple life.

Watching my children get ready to fly out of our nest has given me such joy.  It is nice to see the fruits of those long years when they were young.  It has brought me time.  Now that they don't need me as much, I have time to pursue my own passions.  Most of all, I see the potential friends I will have in them as they reach adulthood.

Jack's career change has brought me Jack.  Yes, money is tight, but we are doing this together now.  We have time to look for creative ways to spend our time without spending our money.  We have rediscovered each other.  So, money?  As long as we can pay our bills, I am okay.

You see, if you view your life as choices you make, you feel more empowered.  And when you feel empowered, you can find peace and joy.  So, where are you feeling trapped right now?  Who are you blaming?  I hope you will take some time and breathe and look at the situation again.  Find the joy in your situation.

Blaming Obama or your spouse is not going to bring you joy.  Only you can do that.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Losing a Buddy

Twelve years ago, we added a new member to our family.  Our neighbor had a co-worker who had found this abandoned, beaten, pitiful dog in the streets of Raleigh.  After every possible means of finding the owner, our neighbor brought her home thinking she would be a good fit for our family.  The Carters brought this dog to our home and also brought their black lab mix, Midnight.  The two dogs had gotten along very well.  We sat in our front yard getting to know this new dog and deciding on names.  We decided that since she and Midnight would be great friends, and since she was yellow, we would name her Sunshine.  We took her on a "trial" basis.  Which by the way, means you will end up with the dog!!!  Jack was not really consulted on this but I think privately he fell in love just as hard as the rest of us.  Although we were all in love with this sweet, gentle dog, Allie was scared to death of her.  Allie wept on the stairs when we told her we could not keep Sunshine if she was too afraid  to come downstairs.  "But I don't want her to live in a box!!" she sobbed.  But amazingly, my strong little girl, took in a breath and walked down those stairs.  It was a bit tenuous for the first few days, but eventually Allie and Sunshine became great friends.  It helped that Sunshine was extremely passive and gentle.

We did not have a fence and had made an agreement with the Carter's that Sunshine could come play at their house with Midnight until we got a fence.  Twelve years later, we still don't have a fence.  But Sunshine and Midnight fell  in love and had tons of fun playing in the backyard together and going on walks together.  When one of us was out of town, the other took the dogs.  Midnight was truly part of our family as well as Sunshine.  Midnight spent many a Christmas and Thanksgiving with us while the Carters went to family.  He was a very different dog.  Where Sunshine didn't like to curl up by your feet or get into tight places, Midnight would crawl under your feet, lick you and crawl through anything to explore. 

The last couple of  years, the dogs have aged dramatically.  Sunshine has a bad hip and Midnight has developed knots on his body. We tease about him being a grumpy old man because he began growling when I would go over to let him out in the morning.  He didn't like being interrupted in his nap.  He became very gray around the face and also became much slower.  Gone were the days of frisking in the yard and then dropping into a deep sleep.  Now, they both just slept most of the time.  In the last 6 months we started noticing a decline in Midnight.  He no longer ran out if the door was open.  He no longer explored the back yard with Sunshine.  He no longer barked at all the dogs that passed by.  Then he began limping and not being able to walk up or down stairs.  Last month, the Carters had to make the hard decision to put him to sleep.

The news was pretty sudden for all of us.  But on a beautiful, cool fall day, I took Sunshine down to say our goodbyes.  I was surprised by my emotion.  I was incredibly sad.  He had become a part of my day.  Since the dogs had gotten slower, I would bring them to my house to play and nap.  Sunshine and I looked forward to him coming down to be with us.  At first, Sunshine was uneasy.  She would go to him and then walk away.  Finally she got close to him and laid down. 

This past month has been heartbreaking.  Sunshine wants to go down to Midnight's every time we put the leash on her.  But when we do take her down, she whines and cries to leave after searching the whole yard for him.  For several days she seemed to just mope about and whine unexpectedly.  When the Carters would come down, she would whine after they left.  I am sad that Sunshine has lost her playmate.  I am sad I have lost a buddy.  But I am really sad that the Carters lost a member of their family.

I know this day is coming for us.  I see that Sunshine is aging more everyday.  I dread that day.  If losing Midnight hurt so much, how much more will I hurt for Sunshine? 

Friday, September 7, 2012

DIY Jewelry Board

I apologize for not taking "during" photos.  I wasn't really thinking of posting this, but then I was so proud of the finished product, I decided to go ahead and share.  I took bits and pieces from several different people and then added my own touch.  I really liked this board and this one.  I bought a solid wooden cabinet door from Habitat Reuse for $1.  From Habitat, I also got 2 old hooks, like locker hooks.  I found the velvety black fabric in my stash...why do I have black velvety material in my stash?  Who knows!  Then it got interesting.  I really wanted to use the drawer pulls I had collected, but mine were not nearly as pretty as Anna's.  I finally got all my jewelry out and grouped it, so I would know what I had and needed for storage. 

First I covered the board with batting.  But, I didn't have any batting, so I cut a piece out of the old mattress pad I had.  Then I covered the board with the material and stapled it to the back of the door.  I decided to go with the cup hooks.  I measured mine 2 inches apart and alternated them down the board.  I made extra so I can get some new earrings!  A girl can never have too many earrings.  Then I drilled the holes at each mark.  BUT, when I reversed the drill bit, it brought the mattress pad with it.  So, I had to take the staples out of the fabric and remove the pad. Because I am cheap thrifty, I decided to go without padding.  Of course at this point I ran out of staples and I didn't have a car.  So this project went back on the to-do list. 

Finally I get back to the project and get the board covered, all the holes drilled and begin screwing in the numerous cup holders, at which point I decided maybe a girl doesn't need so many earrings!  :-)  I used the two old hooks, painted white, to hold my long necklaces and more cup holders for my special necklaces.

My last step was attaching the grease cups.  Yep!  I got grease cups used with grills to hold my non-hanging jewelry.  I opted not to paint them because I was afraid of chipping. 

And here it is:

You can't really tell in the pictures, but I hung my earrings by color.  I was also able to hang my rings!  Now this proudly hangs in my dressing room and I can see all my choices!  I am hoping this will help me wear my jewelry more!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Real People

Betty and Naomi had been in a committed relationship for over 10 years when Betty decided to leave Naomi.  They weren't married because it is illegal in their state for same-sex couples to marry.  Not only did Naomi have to deal with a broken heart, but she also had the added worry of her future.  Betty had the full-time job and career, Betty had the health insurance, and Betty was the "legal" adopted parent of their son.  Naomi had no protection nor rights in this divorce.  Luckily in this case, Betty is an honest and caring person and has provided for Naomi as she is getting her feet under her.  But, sadly, as in heterosexual divorces, this is not always the case.  At least heterosexual couples have the protection of the law on their sides.

Frank and Jerry have been committed partners for 30 years.  They were legally married in New York.  Now they live in a state where their marriage is not recognized.  They are in their 70's and in failing health.   Frank suffered a stroke and was rushed to the hospital.  Jerry dutifully called Frank's family to let them know and they all came to the hospital.  Once there, the family barred Jerry from Frank's hospital room.  Even though Jerry came in with Frank and had been with him for the few days it took for the family to gather, he was barred.  The hospital had no choice, because legally Jerry is not Frank's next of kin.  Jerry sat in the waiting room for days without leaving.  Finally a nurse came by and told him that Frank had just died.  Jerry had no input in the funeral.  He was not allowed in the family group.  He sat in the chapel as a guest.  He didn't even get to say good bye.

Daniel comes from a great family.  He was loved by his parents and grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins as a child.  He was raised in a moderate church in the Baptist faith.  His family made "fag" and "queer" jokes.  He heard from the pulpit that homosexuality is a sin but that we should love the sinner.  He struggled with his sexuality but knew his family would be no help.  So he kept it all in until he graduated college.  Then he came out to his family.  The family was horrified.  His mother says that she loves him, although she thinks he is a sinner.  She is against marriage equality for her son, and works adamantly against gay marriage.  This does not feel like love and support to her son.

These are all real people.  I have simply changed the names. 

This is what the Chick-Fil-A uproar is about.  This is what the fight for marriage equality is about.  People.  Real people.  People who deserve the same rights as everyone else.  Why should they be penalized for whom they love?

Yes, I believe in freedom of speech.  Yes, everyone has their beliefs.  But it is the hatred of that speech and belief that I have to stand up to.  Just like we denounced the businesses that said, "whites only" we denounce the businesses that put money towards hate messages against the LGBTQ community.

I bet some of those little cafes with the sign, "Whites Only", had great pie.  Pie better than your grandma's.  But would you enter and give your money to someone with that kind of hate in their heart?  Would you?

I know the Jesus that I read about in the Bible would not.  He did not.  He was against all laws that were unfair to all people.  Even the lowest of the low.  So, what would Jesus do?

I don't think he would eat the chicken, even though it is the best.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Non-Partisan Editorial on Politics

When did the word "compromise" become a dirty word?  Webster's Dictionary states the definition as, "settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions".  I see nothing evil in this definition.  Now, as children, sure, compromise was a bad word because it meant "sharing", "not getting MY way all the time", "having to figure out how to get along".  But I thought that was a principle we all taught our children.  In Robert Fulghum's book, All I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, he states that we learned sharing and compromising in the sandbox. So what happened since the sandbox?  Was there a memo that went out when we turned 21 that told us to ignore this principle?

So, back to the question, When did the word "compromise" become a dirty word?  In politics today it seems to be the word that will get you booted out of your position faster than anything.  The Republicans aren't compromising.  The Democrats aren't compromising.  So where does that leave us?   With unemployment rates high, with a budget deficit that is higher than I can count and nothing being accomplished to solve either problem.  Instead everyone is working to get reelected.

I understand that we all have issues that are non-negotiable.  There are times to negotiate and compromise with a teen and then  there are times it just isn't prudent.  These are usually based on safety and with the best interest of our family in mind.  So, I get that we all have these beliefs. 

I just don't get how we are to ever come together as a people if we don't start compromising.  We are never going to  always get our way, but we should try to work for the betterment of our people.  I thought that was why the congress got paid a salary and got great health benefits.  They are supposed to be doing the hard work.  They are supposed to finding middle ground to solve the problems of our nation.  Instead, they are just simply joining a clique and sticking their tongues out at each other.  They are wasting our money.  I heard on the news the other night that the act of repealing Obamacare had cost us in the ballpark of $50 million!  $50 million!!!  That is ludicrous to me.  It is not about it being the Republicans because the Democrats are just as bad.  It is that we are putting the wrong people in office.  We are putting our buddies not the person who has the best negotiating skills.  Not the people who will work for our NATION.  We are voting our friends in and then satisfied when actually nothing gets done.  I don't know where you are from, but where I come from that would get you fired.

I wonder how long this will last?  If a Republican president is voted in this year, then it will be the same.  Only the Democrats will be the ones putting up roadblocks at every inroad.  There seems to be no end in sight.  I am tired of it.  Sick and tired of it.  Let's just grow up, pull on our grownup panties, and do the work this nation needs to do.  
Figure out to take care of our elderly and our sick
                     how to make sure all people have the same rights
                     how to get out of debt
                     how to get more jobs in the USA
                     how to educate our children so they can compete on a global level

We already know some of the things we disagree on, how about finding what we can agree on and start fixing our nation?

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Son

I have tried so hard to not "label" my children.  But I am afraid it is inevitable.  When asked about my children I often describe Stephen as the athletic one and Allie as the musical one.  This doesn't mean that Stephen has no musical  ability or Allie has no athletic ability.  Allie has always been the one totally devoted to school and good grades and Stephen has always been totally devoted to being the best in baseball.  But I hope that I have conveyed to them that these are descriptions and not judgements on who they are.  Because as we all know, as we grow, those descriptions change.

That has happened in Stephen's life in the last year and it has been miraculous to watch.  As a young boy, Stephen had a passion for throwing and catching balls and writing stories.  He was creative not only with stories but with making up games with balls.  One of our favorites was "This and That".  Don't ask me to describe it, I still don't understand the rules.  "That's okay, Mommy, I will wait for Daddy,"  was often said at our house after a few rounds of This and That.  Stephen also wrote incredible stories and was quite prolific.  I was thrilled that his Kindergarten, First and Second Grade teachers encouraged this creativity and didn't try to harness it into a formula.  Unfortunately by third grade we had moved to a state that had the "WRITING" test in 4th grade.  I am not sure I can describe the sorrow and pain I felt as I watched the creativity being squashed in my talented little boy.  I was devastated.  I was an educator for god's sake.  I knew better...but I had to sit by and watch.  I tried to continue encouraging his writing, but his confidence was taken away and a greater passion was taking over, baseball.  For the next several years I watched as my son's joy and confidence in academics ebbed away.  Finally in 9th grade he had a teacher who sealed the tomb on Stephen's academic interest.  At the same time, Stephen's passion and talents in baseball flourished.

The baseball field was the one place I could see him hold himself with confidence and surety.  It was beautiful to watch, because we all want to see our children happy and confident.  He went off to college to play baseball and once again I had to witness the killing of my son's dreams.  He had a coach who basically took Stephen's dreams away by tearing down his confidence and self-esteem.  But, my son was stronger than that.  He knew he was more than that.  He stood up and spoke up for himself and declared that after the summer, baseball would be over.

Honestly we all feared what would come next.  Stephen didn't see himself as we saw him, a smart kid.  Now he didn't  have baseball.  What would happen?  What came next is still miraculous to us.  My son woke up and found himself.  He found that boy of 5,6 and 7 who loved to read and write. He found his love of thinking and asking questions.  My son has become the academic that Jack and I always knew was inside him.

Getting a phone call telling us about a fantastic professor he has is exhilarating.  Looking at his Christmas list and finding several books and none of them about sports, it is amazing.  Seeing the sparkle in his eyes once again is more precious than gold.

There are many more adjectives that pertain to Stephen. He is much more than those adjectives.  He is an amazing young man who is beginning his journey as a man.  I am honored to be his mother and have a front row seat to the miraculous life he is living.  I only pray that he knows I see him as more than what he does, I see him.  My boy.  I see his heart which is gold.  All the rest is just gravy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Mom Voice" vs. "Me Voice"

[I wrote this last week, but am just getting around to publishing it.]

My son is leaving today.  He has been home for the holidays since the 23rd of December.  I am ready for him to go back.  But I am choking up and feel teary.  This is motherhood, isn't it?

We constantly live with 2 voices waging war inside our heads.  The one voice is looking out for us and our wants and needs. The other voice is looking out for what is best for our child, what they want, what they need.  Right after I had Stephen, I remember saying, "I never thought I was a selfish person until I had a baby."  And I think it is true.  I wasn't a particularly selfish person, but I just had the one voice in my head.   Life was so much simpler.

For the past 19 years, the "Mom voice" was the loudest and demanded the most attention.  Not that the "Me Voice" didn't shout and scream, but she just so often lost the fight.  As my children entered adolescents, "Mom voice" started taking some breaks.  Don't get me wrong, it still had a lot to say, but there were more periods when things were going smoothly.  In that period "Me Voice" started making noises.  "Hey, why don't you go to the movies tonight?  Kids are gone for the night!"  And little by little she became stronger and stronger.

Then the kids leave for college.  The "Mom voice" becomes frantic at the idea that she will no longer be needed and starts making the "Me voice" feel guilty for the thoughts and plans she had started making in the last year.  Sometimes "Mom voice" wins still and we stay over-involved in our grown kids' lives.  Hopefully, the "Mom voice" realizes that she is still needed, but it is her time to rest and give "me voice" more air-time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with people that I doubt I would have ever reconnected with.  It gives me a way to reconnect with boundaries.  I share only what I want and they share only what they want.  We aren't sitting awkwardly with each other trying to evade questions we would really rather not answer.  We get to see photos of their lives and feel like we have not missed anything.  We get to wish all these people happy birthday without spending a penny or getting out of our house.   I have now connected with people from just about every aspect of my past life.  That is exciting.

For the past several months, the buzz seems to be about Pinterest.  Well, at least among my women friends.  There is some debate over whether one should sign up for this and whether it will be helpful or just another time suck.  I have found Pinterest to be a vital tool for me.  You see, my memory seems to be ebbing away.  Either that or I just have SO much IMPORTANT information stored that where that recipe for chicken is just doesn't make the list.  Whatever, Pinterest is my new  storage unit.  It is my file cabinet, my bulletin board, my online memory!  If I see something online, a new project, a recipe, an outfit, or a book, I simply pin it to my board in Pinterest and then go on my happy way.  When I need to retrieve said item, I simply log into Pinterest and search for the photo, I am a VERY visual learner, and bam, I am sent to the link!  It has really made the internet easier for me to manage.

For Christmas, I gave my parents a webcam.  On Christmas day, my brothers set up the camera and we got to "see" all my family.  It felt as if we were there in my parents' home with them.  I didn't get to feel my mom's arms around me, but it was the next best thing.  Now I want to be able to connect with my little nieces more.  I think I have convinced my brother and his wife to get a webcam for themselves.  I am so excited!  I have already begun to plan activities and books I want to read to them!  They are homeschooled, so I am hoping to be able to help in some of their lessons!  It feels like the best of both worlds.  I get to see my family and talk face to face without having to leave my home in North Carolina and all my friends here.  Recently I had a "coffee date" with a friend who lives in Iowa.  It was so cool to get to see her and talk.

Technology has many pros and cons.  I know that all of the above can be abused and used for evil.  But like everything in life, there is a light side and a dark side.  I continue in my quest to look at the light side and find it wherever I go.   What gifts have technology given to you?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Toying with Ideas

Well, it is the new year.  Along with the new year comes the resolutions.  Every year I make some resolutions, I will lose weight, exercise more, be nicer, remember to send birthday cards on time, etc.  Some years I vow NOT to make a resolution.  Yet, secretly in my head I make them.  I seem to enjoy setting myself up for failure.

Currently I am toying with the idea that this year I am going to work on building up my strength.  When you are chronically ill, it seems you become MUCH more sedentary.  Now, I know, all the docs, nurses and PT's tell you it is important to move.  I KNOW it is.  But when I feel like shit, I am sorry, I don't really want to move!  When said movement is going to make me hurt worse for the rest of today and possibly tomorrow, it is really hard to get motivated!  Sometimes watching Biggest Loser, I wonder if I was on the show, if I really could push myself like those people do.  I mean, I am not more than 15 pounds heavier than I should be, so surely I can do what they do.  I wonder what Bob would say?

I say toying, because I don't want to say anything to my family about it.  I am scared I will just fail one more time and well, I really don't want any witnesses to that!  I really do yearn to be stronger.  I have noticed a significant weakening in the last year and that scares me.  So, we will see.

Another idea that I am toying with is the idea of writing.  I would like to set up the habit of writing every day.  I would like to promise you, my faithful readers (jack), that I will blog every day in 2012.  But, I know that won't happen.  There will be days when nothing will flow from my brain.  My novel is still brewing in my head.  The main character keeps coming up and speaking to me and telling me stories that I should write down.  I need to make space for her.  So, we will see.

Maybe I should make a schedule for myself:
7:00 a.m. wake up and eat breakfast
8:00 a.m. exercise alternate walking and weights
8:30 a.m. sit down to blog
9:00 a.m. write
10:00 a.m. clean house
10:30 a.m. Work
12:00 p.m. lunch break
1:00 p.m. work/run errands
5:00 p.m. start dinner
6:00 p.m. eat dinner

Wow, sounds great, except for the hour to shower and the hour to nap or lay down to recover from the exercise.....

Well, we will see...