Hopeful Hodge Podge
Hopeful Hodge Podge

Is What You’re Doing Making You Happy?

By August 16, 2017 About me, Advice, General

A lot of people ask: Are you doing what makes you happy? But I wonder if we’re asking the wrong question. Maybe we should ask: Is what you’re doing making you happy?  I don’t mean your job or career.  Sure, there’s value in doing something that you find rewarding.  But I’m talking about your general mentality in life.

When I was younger; just starting out on my own, a lot of people said I had an attitude problem. That made me so mad! But they were right. I just couldn’t see it.

The problem wasn’t my “personality” – it was how I came off to others. I had been surrounded by so much negativity for so long that it had become my “normal”.  My mother and step-monster were slowly smothering me with poison and I didn’t even know it. I was the proverbial frog in hot water.

Are you surrounded by negative people? We call them “toxic” these days.

One thing that we should all recognize about toxic people is that they have chosen to be like that. My mother wasn’t always a pit of negativity. Life dealt her some tough cards and she decided to flip the table and have a tantrum. For 30 plus years. And still going. I fully believe that these kinds of people are also aware of their weight on others – but that’s another post…

I decided to follow a different path.

When I was in college, I met a girl who was always bubbly and happy.  She practically giggled her words out.  When I moved away after a few years, I decided that I wanted to be like that girl.  I wanted other people to enjoy being around me.

So first – I had to change how I talked.  Even about something as mundane as the weather.  It seems silly to tell our children that they’re “not allowed” to use words like “hate”, but I think we should teach them that it is a very strong and very dark word and it should be used sparingly.  As a young adult, I had to almost completely strike it from my vocabulary.  I had to tell my point of view from a different angle.

Instead of saying, “I hate winter!” I learned to say, “I prefer summer.”  Instead of saying, “The service was terrible.” I began to say things like, “I wish the service was a little better.”  Instead of saying, “The food was bad.” I changed to, “I didn’t care for what I ordered.”

In changing how I said things, I also began to change my mindset.  I started to consciously choose happiness.  I would choose to smile…to greet others with a smile and a kind word.

Additionally, I began to put the negativity into perspective.  I remembered how lonely I had been when my children were young.  How starved for adult companionship I had been.  Sometimes, the store cashier was the only adult I talked to all day.  So I began to make a point to be as nice as I can to everyone.

Unfortunately, everyone didn’t learn this message.  My mother is a toxic person.  She chooses to think, feel and say negative things and counters them with, “I’m not a nice person,” as if it’s a joke.  Maybe long ago it really wasn’t how she actually felt.  But by years of embracing that pessimism, she has become bitter and sad and lonely.

So the decision for how to deal with this falls to me.  I don’t have to buy-into her toxicity.  I can walk away or otherwise distance myself from it.  Because she is my mother and because she has chosen to allow alcohol to blur her sensibility; I have chosen to love her anyway – while keeping her gloom in perspective and at an arm’s length.

My mother lives about 1,400 miles from me.  In order to preserve the relationship between us, I call her most days after work, Monday through Friday.  If I feel like I just can’t handle the sadness and disparity, I can either not call or make an excuse to keep the conversation short.

Now – a couple of notes –

Note #1 – Did you notice how I said she had chosen to allow alcohol to blur her sensibilities.  That’s not an accident – a typo or a slip – that is 100% how I feel.  She didn’t go to a doctor one time and come home with the diagnosis of alcoholic.  People who get cancer don’t come home as cancer-holics.  And they don’t keep feeding the cancer cells because they “just can’t stop”.

Cancer isn’t a choice.  Alcoholism is.

Note #2 – Did you catch the line about giving an excuse to get off the phone?  I’m not above lying.  It’s for my own mental health and self-preservation.  To that end, I have come to understand and remember the following rules:

  1. It’s all about her.
  2. Don’t mention friends.
    • This will lead to a tangent that includes how it “must be nice” because she “doesn’t have any”
    • It may even lead to a conversation about her only friend who died
  3. Don’t mention fun things
    • This will lead to a conversation about how she never gets to do anything
  4. Never mention that you have hurt yourself, broken something, gotten an incorrect doctor bill, gotten a high doctor bill, or otherwise have had something happen to you
    • Whatever happened to you is not as bad as this one time something 1000 times worse happened to her
    • See #1
  5. Do not mention grocery shopping.
    • She can’t even afford toilet paper and she eats 11¢ hotdogs!
  6. Never mention my oldest son by name.
    • He is almost 22 years old. He used the F word on Facebook and when she commented on the post, he commented back that she would never see another one of his posts.  She was “very hurt”.  So, any mention of his name is an invitation to retell the whole story.  With tears if I’m super-lucky.  {Insert eye roll here}
  7. Never, ever, ever mention anything having to do with money.
    • See #5 and #1

And so, with these rules in mind, I have to select what I say carefully.  If I’m having dinner with a friend, or having my oldest son come over for dinner, I will usually just say I’m going home and I don’t know what I’m having for dinner – probably leftovers.

So what’s the point of all of this?  It’s just this: Is what you’re doing working for you?  Are you angry that no one is there for you; but you don’t know how to foster a healthy friendship or other relationship?  Are you nasty to the only people you do see?  Are you judgy about perfectly normal behaviors like women wearing makeup and perfume or coloring their hair and painting their nails?  Are you creating your own unhappiness?

If you’re not happy, ask yourself if there is one thing you can change.  Maybe it’s something you can just change for a day or two – like letting the radio keep playing when the alarm goes off and singing along while you get ready for the day.  Not going anywhere?  Take a long shower.  Take extra long on your hair or makeup.  Don’t usually primp?  Just this once, do it.  Window shop and greet everyone you see.  Say, “Hi. How are you?”  And actually wait for their responses.  Remember things that once made you happy.  Your first kiss, the first time you drove a car, someone giving you a compliment…and look down and smile a secret smile to yourself.  Keep smiling when you look up again.

Be nice.  Always.  And ask yourself, every day, “Is what I’m doing creating happiness?”

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You can be anything you dream of…. Oh, but not that.

By July 2, 2017 About me, Advice, General

What do you want to be when you grow up?  It’s a question we ask children, young adults, even ourselves.  It’s a dragon we all have to slay.  What will I do with my life?  What will I be?

Of course, when we ask young children what they want to be when they grow up, it’s cute when their answers are pro-football player, ballerina, astronaut, president.  We laugh about it as we repeat it.  “Said he wants to be a football player.  Isn’t that cute?”

Here’s a new question. When did we become so jaded? So disbelieving? So doubtful.

We tell those kids, “You can be anything you want to be.” But do we believe it?

We don’t tell them, outright, that they can’t do it.  But we start to make it sound less and less possible.  Eventually we make comments even to them.  “Well, maybe you should pick something a little more plausible.”  Counselors in school want to know what career path they’re going to follow.  When someone announces that they’re going to Hollywood or New York to make their band famous, the counselors get that look on their faces.  And they say, “Well, maybe you should pick a couple of things to “fall back on”.

Many people start to say things to their children like, “It will take a lot of work to be a football player.” But they really mean is, “I don’t think you will work hard enough.”  These people believe that their kid will never make it big.  Whatever the lofty goal is – those goals that only the best become – they honestly believe that those dreams are for “other” people.  They say, “You can be anything.” But they mean, “You can be anything ordinary.”

“It has to be someone’s kid.”

I ask, “Why not your kid?”  It has to be someone’s kid.  What excludes your child?

I have always taught my children that they really can be anything they want.  However, I have always also told them that some things take a lot more work and dedication than others.  With my belief in my children, I have also had the dedication myself to do whatever they needed me to do.

My son wanted to be professional hockey player.  He was not the best.  (Nor the worst.)

I told him that he could absolutely still go pro.  But it would come at a cost.  He would need to have year-round training.  He would need to skate before and after school, even when his team was not.  He would need to work harder than everyone else.  He would need to be the first one on the ice and the last one off.  He would have very little time for socialization.  However, he would still need to keep his studies on track.

In the end, he decided that he loves to play hockey; but that he did not want to put that much work, dedication and sacrifice into it.  That’s ok with me because above all – it needed to be his decision.  To play, to not play; to become the best, or to just enjoy the game with his friends.  It all needed to always be up to him.

Do I really believe he could have made it to the NHL?  Absolutely.  But not without a lot of hard, hard work.

One of his coaches once said, in a parent meeting, “None of our kids are ever going to go to the NHL. We’re just here to have fun.”  What a terrible attitude!  It’s great to have fun and have that be the priority in kids’ sports.  But again, someone’s kid has to make it.  Why not ours?  Imagine what could be done if that coach had said, “I want this season to be fun; but I’m also going to challenge your kids to be the best of the best. I’ll teach them to work together as a team and we’ll work on fundamentals. I think any of our kids could go pro if he works hard enough!”

Most people who reach professional status in any area have the full support of someone.  Usually their parents.  Look at the Olympians.  Do you think any swimmer, runner or gymnast got there without a lot of parent hours?  Those parents are driving their children to practices before school, taking them to a second practice after school, helping them with homework at night.  They are planning everything around training.  They are helping their young athletes eat right and get good nutrition, even when the constant running makes it hard.  They are making sure their children sleep enough, even though they might be losing out on their own sleep.  They are in the gym watching the failures, at the ice rink while their child practices, by the pool day in and day out.  If the parents weren’t dedicated to helping their child reach those goals; those children just wouldn’t.

Here is a perfect example:  My father was a professional trumpet player in the Army Forces Command Band stationed at Ft. McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia.  He grew up playing trumpet and was a very dedicated musician.  When he was in high school, he won the John Philip Sousa Award which recognizes superior musicianship, dependability, loyalty, and cooperation.  By the time he was 30, he was a successful musician in the Forced Command Band and played piano and guitar as well.   He even wrote two full-band marches – with the help of friends and colleagues.  The first, “Freedom’s Guardian” became the band’s “official march” and the second, “The Red Piping” was also played on occasion.  Unfortunately, that same year, he got cancer and died within six months.

Years later, one of his very close friends and fellow musicians told me this, “I don’t think that your dad was just very talented.  He was a very hard worker.  He practiced his craft as often as he could.  That’s what made him the best.”

So next time you ask a child what he’s going to be when he grows up, make sure you don’t dismiss his answer.

You never know.  He or she could do it.  And you should believe in that dream and help it come true!

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Locking Lugnuts

By June 3, 2017 About me

 

Locking Lugnuts. For some reason, every time I say that out loud, I think of Annie exclaiming, “Leapin’ Lizards!” It would certainly be an apt exclamation in this case….

It was a rough week. Do you ever feel like you just have a black cloud over your head?!

On Monday, I was driving home from the store with my daughter when my stomach began to rumble. I was feeling a little sick, so we decided to stop so I could use the bathroom. After that, it was homeward – as fast as possible!

We drove two and a half miles and turned a corner when the car began to imitate a shake-weight commercial. Uh oh.

Incidentally, when we turned the corner, I was able to pull into a parking lot. In fact, I was pretty familiar with that parking lot. It was at the business that fired me back in January! Coincidence? (Well, yes, of course it’s a coincidence. There’s no such thing as a cursed place. There’s no such thing there’s no such thing!)

Well, I called my hubby and he came to pick us up. He monkeyed with the car – jiggled cords and checked the oil – and then determined that we would have to leave it and call a tow truck.  (Duh)

My stomach started to rumble again. Oh boy. I really needed to get home.

At last, while he called the roadside assistance number, he drove us home to drop us off.  My stomach didn’t settle down until the next day and I was really worried that “bad gas” might be the problem.

I had just put gas in at a station right next to (and downhill from) a place that had burned to the ground a couple days before. The fire department had spent hours spraying it with water, to no avail. Additionally, we’d had monsoon rains a day or so before that. I Googled – because Google knows – and it said that if there was a crack in the underground tank, that a lot of water in the area could seep into the tank. Google, that genius, also said that one of the symptoms of “bad gas” in the car was “The Hippy Hippy Shake”.  Sure enough, my car (I named her Fiona) was acting like Speed Buggy having a panic attack.

That settled it. I knew we were doomed. I continued searching Google. Those repairs could cost hundreds – even thousands of dollars! I was ready to call Fox News and The Ellen Show. I just knew the repairs were going to cost more than the car!

Finally, the call came. The moment I was dreading. “What’d you find?”  I sat down so that I’d be ok.

She said it was a temperature gauge for the cylinder and that it was less than $200.

LESS THAN $200!  I thought I’d won the lottery!  I asked her to also do a recall and to replace my horn, which would be charged to a warranty.  I was elated.  What a relief.

I picked up Fiona on Friday. I missed her!  I was so happy.  I put on my “Bumpin’” Playlist, opened the sunroof and bounced all the way home.  Sweet.

Now, when I got home, I decided to update my iTunes. Nothing remarkable happened. Typical boring Friday night at my house.

Saturday, I got up and decided I wanted to update some of my playlists.  I discovered that 300 of my songs were “missing”.  Weird.

I called iTunes. **As a side note – if you ever have to call iTunes – they are amazing!  They are easy to understand, you don’t wait on hold forever, and they usually solve the problem.

Except Saturday, they didn’t.

I was on the phone for an hour and a half and they could not figure it out.

So, at 4:30, I decided to leave and go to church. I’ve been attending the 5pm service on Saturday because I hate getting out of bed on Sunday morning. I figured I had enough time to go to the ATM and get some cash for the offering plate and then get to the service.

The ATM was out of order.

Ok, so I give double next week.

As I was rolling away from the ATM, my tire indicator dinged. Not one ding like usual, to say, “Hey, you might need a little air.”  Nope.  4 dings. Like, “Hey the tire is REALLY FLAT! LADY! PULL OVER!”

So, I had a few thoughts at this point.

My first thought was not sharable. Haha

My second thought was, “Hey, that’s pretty cool that it dings enough to let me know there’s actually something that needs immediate attention.”

My third thought was, “Satan doesn’t want me to go to church. I refuse to lose this battle!”

So, I looked at the tire.  I could make it around the corner to church.  Once I got there, I called my husband and told him that I needed air.  I asked if he could come fill it while I was in church. He agreed.

So, after church, I went outside and my husband was there working on the tire. The hole was so big that he could put a finger in it!  So he aired it up and followed me to a garage that could mend the tire.

When we got there, the worker asked if the car had locking lug nuts. And this is where the whole thing went downhill in a hurry!

I said, “Yes, I know they couldn’t find the tool last time, so I will go find it.”

As I was looking, my husband pulled into the parking lot. “YOU WOULD KNOW IF YOU HAD LOCKING LUG NUTS!” He said forcefully. So, I tossed the bubble-wrapped thing that I was holding onto the seat.  It was small and round and I figured it must be an extra lightbulb.

The garage crew pulled the car in.

“It does have locking lug nuts. Do you know where the tool is?”

They searched my car. My husband complained about the idiocy of the whole concept. Lug nuts that cannot be removed except with this special tool. No garage keeps this tool around. It comes with your car. The auto-parts stores don’t carry it. You have to get it from the dealership.

Who was the last to take the tires off? This same garage was. Oh no, had they lost the tool?!

They tried everything. No luck.

So we wheeled poor crippled Fiona back to the parking lot with just enough air in the tire to take her to the dealership where she would have to spend the long Memorial Day weekend.

Now, by this point, I was still not convinced that the tool was not inside the car. Sure, lots of people had assured me that they had looked everywhere. That there was nothing. But I didn’t buy it.

So, in the parking lot; I began to look.

“WE HAVE TO HURRY TO THE DEALERSHIP!!” My husband yelled.  (Why? Did the garage use the last of their air? I was cranky and snarky.)

Fine. So I drove to the dealership.

After parking Fiona in a nice shady spot, I began to gather my things. As I picked up my sweater, I saw the bubble-wrapped item that I had tossed to the seat earlier – thinking it was a lightbulb. I decided to unwrap it.

It was the magic tool!

At this point, you would think I would have been super-excited, right? I was so mad I could barely see.

I TOLD him that I knew where the tool was. I TOLD him it was in bubble wrap. I HAD IT IN MY HAND. But he insisted that we didn’t have locking lug nuts.

I drove back to the garage. I wanted to have a mutiny.

I said, “Are you sure the tire can even be fixed?”

They said, “Oh yes.”

Fifteen minutes later we were picking out new tires.

So, $350 and two new tires later, the garage handed a sporty Fiona back to me.  I took her shopping. We bought small ziplock bags and put the tool into a nice little see-through bag. Then we bought a pouch to put a lot of the stuff from the glove box and console into a nice organized place.

On the way home I cranked the bass up so loud that I didn’t hear my phone when my husband called to ask me to pick up food for him.

Ooops. Maybe next time.

Kristine

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7 Things People Are Doing Wrong On Facebook

By May 8, 2017 General

Let’s face it.  There’s no denying that Facebook is here to stay.  With 1.86 billion monthly active users as of the end of 2016, there’s no doubt that most people are using it.

And yet…

There are several things that people do on Facebook that just drive us all crazy.  Here are 7 things that you should avoid doing.

Hijacking

I was scrolling through – absently and not really deep in thought about the posts I was reading when I came to the one that made me so mad.

It was just after Christmas and my mother had sent me her China.  Aside from the fact that it is priceless and irreplaceable; it is stunningly beautiful.  I have wanted to inherit it as long as I can remember.  I was so proud to be the new owner that I had posted a picture on Facebook.  I also wanted my mother to know how much I appreciated it.

And there it was.  After my picture, my cousin had left a comment.  “Where’s MY China?!”

I call this “Hijacking a post”.  You have now shifted the focus for anyone who reads my post.  Instead of thinking, “Wow, it really IS beautiful China.”  People are afraid to get in the middle of a fight.  They won’t “like” it; or make further comments.  In fact, now they’re just going to keep on scrolling.

Other examples of “Hijacking” are when someone makes a comment that is completely off-topic.  “You never call me.  I don’t know why I even expect it anymore.”  This kind of thing, again, makes people think they’ve stepped into a family feud and it will make everyone uncomfortable.

I recently had an idea for a section of my blog and decided to run it past my friends and family.  I should mention that some of my “friends” are actually men who served with my father in the Army.  I have found great comfort in getting to “know” my father through the memories of these men.

That particular day I had introduced my idea – lesson plans for busy teachers.  A different cousin than the one above (she’s blocked now), commented that it was a great idea and it would also work for homeschooling.  I hadn’t thought of that.  But then one of my dad’s friends commented, “Already been done.”

Well, now I could either refute this argument – thereby starting a “discussion”; or I could just delete the comment.  I chose the ladder.  But I was so hurt.  Sure, he was right; but when you’re looking for lesson plans; the more choices the better!

Now I’m not saying that you should never disagree with anyone on Facebook.  However, you might need to provide more than a sentence fragment.  Perhaps you could present the problem you see and then offer a solution.

Remember, Facebook posts are, like email, easy to misinterpret.  Make sure what you’re posting will be read with the meaning you meant it to have.

Also, “Hijacking” isn’t always combative.  Sometimes it’s just clueless.  For example, my status says, “Had a blast playing with the dog at the park today.”  And you comment, “Do you know if Amy is coming with us on Friday?”  It’s not related to the post and should probably have been sent in a Private Message, or at least have been posted as a separate comment on my wall.  It’s just strange.  Don’t do that.

Over-Sharing

The next faux pas that I see is people who over-share.  These are the people that end up getting “Unfollowed” because our news feed is all about them.  Out of the last 10 posts on my wall, 8 have been from this person.  Is it because they don’t know how to put more than one picture in their status?  Is it because they “share” every post they read?  No matter.  It’s too much!

TMI

But, worse than the “too-many-posts” over-sharing…is the “too-much-information” over-sharing!  You know the ones I mean.  Things you really never wanted to know about someone suddenly popping up.

Starting Commotion

Along these same lines are the ones who post about the three things that used to be considered taboo in polite conversation:  Politics, age, and religion.  Ok, I think we’re all over the age thing.  But politics and religion.  Can we just not?

Not Proofreading

One small thing that I can’t stand, is when people don’t proof-read a post or a comment before sending it.  Then, once it’s posted, they don’t (or don’t know how to) “edit” it.  Sure, we all make mistakes.  But, please learn how to correct them!

You’re Invited…

Inviting everyone on your friend list to everything.  Have you ever gotten an invitation to an “adult” party from someone you barely know?  I have.  Awkward.  I’m no prude, but come on.  Please don’t invite every single person on your friend list.  Have some discretion.

The birth of Urban Legends

Last is the worst of all.  Forwarding posts that you didn’t check the facts on.  Remember the drunk person in a tub of ice, missing a kidney?!  This is how “Urban Legends” get started.  The most recent one that I’ve seen resurfacing is this one:

R.I.P. Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matthew Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew Johnson 21, Zachary Fisher 24, Brandon King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, and Sheldon Tate 27…. All are Marines who gave their lives this week for us ….for our freedom! There’s no media for them at all… not even a mention of their names. If you feel called to share, please copy and paste this post.R.I.P they should not go unnoticed, they paid the ultimate price for OUR freedom!!
“Young service Men, thank you for serving our country, thank you for giving all”!
God rest your sweet souls

But here you can read the real facts:

This happens time after time.  A child is missing and someone forwards it; only to find out that the child was never missing, or was found months ago.  A crime is committed and someone shares a post about it, only to find out that the crime happened years ago.  Or, in this case, these men died 7 years ago and they WERE NOT all marines.

Check your facts.  One great place is Snopes.  But, at least google it.  I entered “Justin Allen, 23, marine” into google and found the above-linked article.  If something seems unbelievable, check it out.  If you’re going to forward something, even if you think it IS believable, check the facts.

Kristine

 

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New Things on the Blog

By May 8, 2017 General

Hello everyone!  I have a new post that I’m ready to share; but first I wanted to say thank you to all of you who have waited so patiently for me to post the next thing.  I have been busy at work and LOOK! There are a few new things on the page!

First, you’ll notice that my social icons now include a couple newbies.  I have added tumblr and also I have this adorable little blue heart for Bloglovin’.  I’d like to say a special thank you to Nick Henderson at Ultimate Social Media Premium for asking the designers to create that for me.

You might also notice that there are now ads on the screen.  Google has placed them there and I have really been excited to see what will happen with them.

Last, you might notice that I have a little butterfly icon next to my blog name on the tab that you open! That’s called a favicon and I’m SO excited to have finally gotten it to work.  A big shout out to William Scott – a genius that I met by accident – for helping me fix it and make it show up. (Except on Safari. IDK what the heck is up with that!)

So, friends, enjoy the next post.  I’m doing a lot of behind the scenes work right now, but rest assured I have a TON of posts that are getting ready to launch.  Also, “Coming Soon” – Two new blog sections:  “Lesson Plans” and “A Millenial Moment”.  More on those to come, I promise.

Have a great night!

Kristine

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How To Raise Your Children To Be Your Friends

By April 14, 2017 About me, Advice

 

How to raise your children to be your friends

I’m sure this post will set some people off.  And I’m ok with that.  For some reason, there is a large group of people who believe that treating children in a negative way that they would never treat another person is somehow “good for them”.

I think that treating children with respect – from the time they are old enough to understand respect – is the way to create a healthy, positive relationship that will endure the trials you will all suffer as they grow.

I’d like to take a little bit of time to tell you why I believe these behaviors and ideas are completely wrong and share how I was able to raise three great kids who have grown to be my friends and who actually like me.

Your job is to be their parent

I’ll start in my own teenhood back in the 80’s.  My family had moved to this tiny little town when I was 13.  I was the oldest and I felt utterly alone.  Some people would come and go as friendly; but I had no deep friendships.

I was a good kid – never had a lot of interest in promiscuity or smoking and drinking, and certainly never drugs.  When I was a younger teen – 14 to 15, I would tell my mother that I was going to [where ever] and that I’d be back around [a given time].  My mother would say something like, “Be safe.” And I’d be on my way.

Now, if you are one of those people who were friendly; please know that I am forever grateful for the amount of friendship you gave.  Looking back on my own situation and knowing that my mother was often not home, I would never ever allow one of my own children to spend a lot of time with someone who had almost no parent supervision at any time.  I don’t blame anyone.  It is what it is.

But, back to the story.

So, eventually, during my 15th year, my twice-widowed mother met her 3rd husband.  He was a lunatic and a tyrant.  I was suddenly not allowed to do anything.

I never went to the movies in high school.

I never went on a “date” in high school.

I ate lunch by myself because I was so intimidated by the friendships that were formed on the hallway benches.  Friendships that I could neither understand nor participate in.

I spent every night at home in my bedroom.  I needed more than a parent.  I needed a friend.

So – on that happy note, let’s talk about the good stuff!

Just before I graduated from high school, I met this really cute guy.  I was 18 by then and this cute guy was 24.  He would come and pick me up and we would just GO.  To the movies (the movie – Navy Seals – was bad and the floor was sticky).  To the beach.  To his house.  Where ever we wanted.

By the time we hit our third “date”, we had our kids named.  We got married when I was 21 and welcomed the first of those pre-named children when I was 23. 

Nick was such a great baby.  Oh, of course, we had the same struggles as you young moms and dads are having now.  I was a breastfeeding mom and a stay-home mom.  It was exhausting.  And then, when Nick was 9 months old, we found out that we were going to have our second child!!  (Oops J)

So, when my first baby was only 18 months old, we welcomed Rachel and things got….um….well, this was adulting and parenting for REAL, y’all!

Rachel was a crier screamer.  I mean a SCREAMER.  She would roll on to her tummy and scream and rub her face into the crib sheet until her nose was raw.  I tried everything.  I held her, I swaddled her, I rocked her, I put her in my sling and “wore” her.  I walked her, I tried the swing.  White noise, rock and roll.  Fed her, changed her.  Put clothes on, took clothes off.

Nothing. Worked.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention I had a toddler too?!  Yeah.  Super-fun.  Sometimes, my husband would come home from work and we’d ALL be crying.

Well, eventually Rachel stopped screaming.  Then came the terrible twos and threes.  (At the same time).  The only thing was – they weren’t terrible!

In fact, I loved this age.  They were old enough to be able to tell me what they needed or wanted.  We could have conversations.  And I loved how they soaked up knowledge so readily.  They craved it.  They wanted to know about everything.  What was it?  Where did it come from?  What caused it?

We went to the park for picnics.  We went to the library.  We went on trips to museums and zoos.  We read books in forts that we made out of the couch cushions.  We made pancakes and waffles and a mess.

A couple more years later and Benjamin was on the way.  And we did everything all over again, all the while navigating the new minefield known as “school” for the older two.

School was a disaster

Of course, there were challenges.  In 2002, my husband had to go to Iraq for over a year.  When he got back, he and I were often at each other’s throats.  He was always angry.  I got pregnant again, but miscarried.  I wanted to try again.  He didn’t.  I didn’t know how we would heal.  But we did.

If you have read my previous posts, you know that school was an unqualified disaster for my older two children.  Nick was dyslexic, but we weren’t sure about that until 5th grade.  Rachel had a horrible condition called hyperhidrosis which caused her body temperature system to be completely non-regulatory.   (Which is probably why she screamed as a baby.)  Rachel also had an “eye-convergence disability” which caused her to see double doing anything close-up.  You know like reading and writing?!  And we didn’t know about either of these problems until she was in 4th grade.

As a side note – my children were able to slip through the cracks with these problems largely due to the fact that many states’ grading systems consist of a vague number or letter system such as 1’s 2’s and 3’s or S, U, N (Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory and Needs Improvement).  True A-F letter grading would have identified to everyone exactly how far behind these children were.  What was worse was that I knew something was wrong, but when I asked about it, the teachers said things like, “Well, I’ve seen worse.”

But again, that’s a post for another day.

Little Ben entered school and my days staying home ended.  I got various jobs.  Nothing noteworthy.  I had gone back to school when Nick was having his school troubles and now had a teaching degree.  But the field was saturated and teachers with more experience were being let go.  Worse, I was beginning to realize that politics had ruined education.  There was no more time to satiate the hunger of minds that were ravenous for more learning.  It had become about teaching to the test.  Interest in the subject matter no longer had any place.  And education was not the place for me.

So day by day we did the things that families do.  We had been a family who ate dinner together most nights.  And now, as they all began to get older and be involved in more activities, dinner was later; or on the run.  But whenever we could, we still set the table and sat down together.  We still folded our hands and asked for a blessing on more than that food on that night…I mean, sure, that’s what the words are – “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let these gifts to us be blessed.” – But surely God was blessing so much more.

Always talking and listening

My boys played sports.  Primarily hockey.  Ben also played soccer and football.  This gave us a lot of time to talk while we were driving to games.  So that’s what we did.  We talked about school.  I never admonished them much for what I call “light swearing”.  After all, “darn” and “damn” really mean the same thing and we gave those words their meaning.  Using the Lord’s name and “heavy swearing” were forbidden.

So we could talk about whatever they wanted.  I gave advice, gently.  I never judged; but I always made sure that they understood a couple of things.  First, they were free to think that girl in third period was a werido.  Sure, she might be pretty strange.  But, you don’t know what’s happening inside her world.  Maybe she’s a little weird because she has no one in her life that she can count on.  So, you don’t have to be her friend.  But you should be friendly.  A smile and a kind word can change a person’s day – or even their life.  And second, you treat everyone with respect.  Always.

Nick and I always felt like we had to have each other’s back.  As he got older, he became a comfort to me when things went wrong.  I always knew I could count on a hug from him when I was feeling inadequate.  I asked him tonight why he thinks we’re so close.  He said it’s because we’re so much alike.  I suppose that’s true.  We are the oldest.  The experiment.  The one who had the hardest time when the family moved.  The one who had to figure it out.

Your job is to be whatever they need you to be

Rachel and I also became very close.  When she was in 5th grade, she began “eye therapy” to train her eyes to be able to overcome the double-vision.  It was an hour and a half away and we went once a week.  We listened to books on tape.  She told me her fears, her dreams.  She was starting to have a hard time in school.

Remember when I said that I hate it when people say “You shouldn’t be your child’s friend”?  Well, I believe that, as a parent, you need to give your child whatever they need.  And at that time, and even now that she’s almost 20, what she needed most was a friend.

I remember how it felt to not have friends.  To be that person looking at others and wishing you could be their friend, but not trusting anyone enough to try.

So, we spend a lot of time together.  We have similar interests and hobbies.  And, more and more, she is becoming an adult-child-friend.  I respect that she is an adult.  She has begun to make friends that are healthy for her.  (As opposed to picking the ones who used her or ones that had risky lifestyles.)

The Five Key Things

One – Kids aren’t mini-adults.

They don’t have the life experience that adults have, they don’t have the maturity adults (are to supposed to) have, and they don’t have the reasoning skills adults have.

Further, some children, like my oldest, have trouble finding the right words to explain themselves – especially in a sudden misunderstanding.

Two – Remember when YOU were a kid.

I have told my kids for years, “I used to BE a kid.”  I almost always said this jokingly.  However, it is so true.  I remember being in elementary school.  I remember being in middle school and high school.  I remember being a young adult.  USE that to relate to your kids.

Three – Talk.  And Listen.

About the important stuff.  About the trivial stuff.  Make sure your kids know that they can come to you – and then when they DO, make sure you’re there.  Play games, go to movies, share funny memes.  Talk about school, about boys and girls, about friends and enemies.  Just make sure to take the time to be with them.

Four – Embrace Technology.

A lot of parents don’t see any reason to use the new apps that the kids are using.  They don’t care what the hot new thing is.  My mother is one of the baby boomers guilty of not wanting to learn to text and/or use a cell phone.  Guess what?  She barely knows her grandchildren because that’s how they communicate.  And, she doesn’t make it better by shaming them about their use of technology.

It’s also irresponsible as a parent.  You should know what your children – even older teens and frankly young adults, in my opinion – are up to on their phones.  What are they using and why?  If you don’t know, you’re opening doors that lead to heaven knows where.  Now, if you’re thinking, “I just won’t get my child a phone.”  I believe that to be a naive solution.  You want your child to be able to call you and you want to be able to reach your child.  You may want to consider a service such as Disney’s Circle.  I don’t know a lot about it; but it is a technology management tool.

Five – Respect.

Treat your children with at least the same amount of respect you would give to your co-workers.  Treat them with the respect that you would expect them to return to you.  To the the world.

Respect brings up one last point that I want to make.  Embarrassing your kids on purpose.  Because you think it’s so funny.  It’s not funny.  When they go to school and they already feel like everyone’s laughing at them…(maybe everyone really isn’t.  Maybe everyone really is)…But when it feels like everyone is laughing and their own parents are making fun of them too…guess what?  It’s really, really not funny.

Do you think your child’s friends are going to just let the scene you made go, without comment?  Are you crazy?!  That is the sort of thing that can last for months.  Or longer.  “Remember when Jenny’s mom ________?!”

That sort of behavior is severely lacking in respect (not to mention maturity).  Trust me, if you’re going for something your child will remember, this is NOT the way to go.

So, that’s all I have for you today friends.  I hope you enjoyed seeing a piece of my life.

Till next time 🙂

 

 

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1000 Cards for Allyson

By April 8, 2017 Crafts, General

1000 Cards for Allyson's 11th BirthdayHello Friends!  I had planned on posting my 100 favorite things to celebrate getting more than 100 visitors in one week.

However, I hope you’ll forgive my change in direction.

I read this story today and – being a card maker – I wanted to share the story and encourage all of you to help out!

Allyson Peterson is a 10 year old girl who lives in Houghton, Michigan and who suffers from a condition known as Kabuki Syndrome type 2.  The condition is currently incurable and causes Allyson some difficulties in mobility.  One of the joys in her life is collecting cards.

For her birthday on April 28, she wished for 1000 cards.  I hope some of my crafty friends will consider sending her one or more.

Here is more information on Allyson’s Story.

Let’s share some HOPE with this young lady!

Cards can be send to:

Allyson Peterson

P.O. Box 1016 Hurontown

Houghton, Michigan 49931

Have a great day everyone!

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Four Super Easy “Swan Lake” Stampin’ Up! Cards

By April 6, 2017 Crafts, General, Stamping

Hello Friends!  Just a short little post today.  I love stamping cards and wanted to share with you how easy it can be!  These four cards were super easy.  I used almost all Stampin’ Up! products, including the new stamp set “Swan Lake”.  It is a “clear” stamp, meaning that you use acrylic blocks, but the stamp itself is still rubber – so you can’t see through it like a photopolymer stamp.

 

 

For this first one, I used Tempting Turquoise for the background of the card and I folded it so that it is the inside of the card too.  A lot of times I just use standard white cardstock for that folded piece that basically IS the card itself, and then I create the card front; but this time I wanted the inside to be blue. 🙂

The top layer, which I stamped on, is that standard white cardstock.  Then, I painted the colors using Stampin’ Up!’s now retired watercolor crayons.  If you want to get some of your own, I have also used these and I loved them.  I stamped these images using Stampin’ Up! Basic Black Archival Ink Pad.  I love that it dries instantly and it doesn’t run when I use watercolor.

 

The next one is also  very simple and I did the same thing with the Garden Green Cardstock that I used for the background and folded part of the card.  Since Garden Green is a darker color, I didn’t want it to be the inside of the card, so I used my standard white and stamped the lily image in a matching Garden Green ink on the inside.

For the front of the card, I used a smaller piece of Garden Green paper again, but lifted it up with these little foam dots.  Here’s my secret though – unless I really need the thing being lifted to be ROUND – I use cheap foam “tape”.  You can get it in the hardware department of Walmart or any home improvement store and – since they THINK it’s for “men”, lol, it’s WAY cheaper than if you buy the same thing for “craft” purposes!!

So, I used the smaller Garden Green piece as my “base” for the front of the card.  Then, I cut a slightly smaller piece of Designer Series paper.  A note about DS paper.  I have a problem.  For real.  I am addicted to this paper.  I have SOOOOOO much of it.  I don’t have any idea what is “current” paper – or even how long it stays current.  I just buy what I like.  Shhh.  Don’t tell hubby.

So, I love this DS paper.  I then cut a smaller piece of SU’s Pacific Point and another standard white piece.  The only real work is on that white piece; so I set everything else aside.  Then I stamped the swan and the swanlings (what are baby swans called anyway?!).

The next part is a little tricky, but you are so smart – it’s a piece of cake for you!

It’s called “masking”.  So, with the ink that’s left over from my bs – Baby Swans…no, we can’t call them that either…… Well, anyway, before I clean the stamp, I stamp the image on to a post-it note.  You want to make it so that the image you stamp will stick to the paper with your swan and babies.

Then, you’re going to cut out the babies on that post-it note and put the post it over the image for your card.  Last thing, you can stamp those cattails and it will look like they are BEHIND the babies!!  Cool, right?!

I used a sponge and dabbed Tempting Turquoise for the water and Wild Wasabi for the background.  I used brown and orange colored pencils for the cattails and the swans’ beaks.

The last thing that I used was some Pool Party colored Baker’s Twine – also from SU!  I put the “top” of the card together and then put my dimensional tape at random points on the back – about nine half inch squares in all.  Then I put the card together.  TaDa!

The next one was a little harder.  I used the sets, Swan Lake and an old but cherished set called “Lovely as a Tree”.  For the paper, I used a standard white for the actual folded part of the card and the images.  I layered black and Wild Wasabi paper behind the main image.

I started by stamping the trees in the middle of the upper part of the card.  It’s important to stamp the first image in the middle and then fill in the sides as needed.  If you start on the right and then stamp another image to the left, it can look like you didn’t plan it and you just ran out of room.  I stamped my first image in the middle and then filled in trees to both the right and the left – it still goes “off the side” in both directions, but it just seems more centered.

Next I stamped the Swan so that her head is just a little lower than the middle tree and I stamped the lilies off to the sides.

I sponged Basic Gray and Wisteria Wonder for the sky and Crumb Cake for the land.  Then, I watercolored the water and lilies; and put a very “gentle” touch of green on the trees, land and water line.

That’s it.  You’re doing great!

The last one was the hardest.  I used Very Vanilla paper for the main images, standard white for the Swans – cut out; and Island Indigo for the background.  I’m in love with Island Indigo.  I love the almost regal look of the deeper blue.

I used the Wild About Flowers and (retired) World of Dreams stamp sets for the over-hanging branches and I stamped them with Crumb Cake and Garden Green…I touched the stamp to the ink pad, then stamped it onto a scrap piece of paper before the final image, so that it was lighter than usual.  I then stamped the cattails with Soft Suede ink.

I watercolored the lily and the water and colored in the cattails with colored pencil.

The hardest part of this card was cutting out the swans.  Someone has run off with my paper-cutting scissors, (or I may have mislaid them). So I had to use scissors that were ginormous!   Sigh.

But, there you go! Another great card!

If you would like to purchase any of the Stampin’ Up! products shown here, please use the contact form to reach me.  Mention the word “SWANLINGS” for a special discount!

I hope you had fun.  See you next time!

K

 

 

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How You Can Make Money With Your Blog In As Little As 20 Minutes! …and other lies you’ve heard.

By April 2, 2017 About me, Advice, General

Hello friends,

**Disclaimer:  Please read the following post with humor in mind.  While some of it is 100% true; this is not meant to make you give up if you are attempting a blog and it is not an indication that I have given up.

Well, an interesting thing happened this week.  After working on creating this blog for almost 11 weeks – almost three months – I had to finally admit it.  This is anything but easy.  If you have seen the many posts out there that say you can start a blog and make money with it in ____________(insert small amount of time here); you are not alone.

Now, I’m not about to say that these people are lying.  Maybe it all did come together for them fairly easily and quickly.  But, for the rest of us there is one certainty.  It’s going to be a lot of learning and a lot of good, hard work.

Building the site and writing the posts? Easy peasy.  But learning how to get followers and then how to get money…holy moly.

What is Google analytics?!  I couldn’t even SPELL that on Monday!  Google Adsense?  How are a bunch of Instagram followers going to help me?  What is Canva?  I actually just learned this today.  How do you like the graphics on this post?  Nice, eh?!  I just opened it and started “playing”.  That’s the only way to learn, I suppose.

What’s a custom 404 page?  Why do I want one? Need one?  What are breadcrumbs? What’s pagination?  (Sounds like a band.)  Discus?  Commentluv?

What are social bookmarking sites?  Do I need those?  Why?  What are digg, stumbleupon, del.icio.us?  Do I need media management tools?  Hootsuite and Buffer?  Are they free?  What are they for?  Who are they for?

Should I do a newsletter?  Isn’t the blog kinda the same thing?  Why do I need a newsletter to send to people who are reading the blog?

There’s something called “blogging networks”….yeah, networks of blogging, I guess.  No idea.  There’s blogengage, blokube, bizsugar, inbound.  I haven’t had time to go check them out.  Not sure what the idea is at all.  One more bullet on the points of no return.

And then, all of the advice says I have to have a “niche”…I can’t have a few things – like stamping, cooking, books, travel, etc….Nope.  You have to pick ONE thing and that has to be your specialty.

Well, guess what?!  Nobody lives their life doing just one thing.  I have lots to share and I hope that people will follow me because they never know what to expect.  I’m like a box of freaking chocolate.

One thing that completely stresses me out is that I’m supposed to have pictures to go with everything.  I guess I’ll have to take one of me crying for this post.  And then I have to post it on Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram – but I still don’t know where all the people who see me crying go to drop off their money!!  Seriously, though; there are some sites that offer free pics (ahem, not THAT kind of free pics!).  One is Canva and another is Pixabay.  But if you search “free pictures”, you’ll get tons of sites that will want you to pay!!  How does free = pay?  What the heck?!

By now I’m thinking, this is like the slowest “Get rich quick” scheme I’ve ever done!  Just kidding.

So friends, I hope you don’t get discouraged.  It’s not that this stuff can’t be learned; but I think “hitting the bigtime” is more about having all of the pieces fall together at just the right time and I think a little luck goes into it as well.

For me, it’s been a case of: “What can I learn today?”  And I like that – to a degree.  I read a book about teaching young students a while ago and the writer said that, in order for students to remain challenged and engaged, the “puzzle”, i.e. the work or the task, had to be “solvable”.  In other words, if the children were not ready, then the lesson would not sink in and they would become frustrated and give up.  It’s the same with anything in life…video games, learning to drive, learning a foreign language and, yes, blogging.

Thankfully, there are tons of “mentors” out there that will help you.  You just have to find them.  I think I have found a couple – maybe as many as a few.  I look forward to continuing to nurture these new relationships and to learn from what they can tell me.

Till next time…..stay hopeful!

K

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Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Mashed Baby Reds and Green Beans

By March 28, 2017 General, Recipes

Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Mashed Baby Reds and Green Beans

Greetings Readers!

So today I am sharing with you a favorite recipe of mine and I’m also sharing how easy it is to make an entire meal with this recipe at the center.

You may have seen this one on Pinterest.  Again, as I’ve said before – sometimes you see things on Pinterest and either one of two things happens.  One, you click and the link is a dead end; or two, the recipe is anything but easy.

Nobody got time for that!

So, this one is super easy!

Parmesan Chicken Recipe

I use a disposable pan for easy clean up.  You can also use a cookie sheet; but using a pan keeps the juices locked in and makes the chicken very tender and never dry.  I ALWAYS spray the pan with cooking spray!!

I start with boneless, skinless breasts.  I’m making a lot tonight because we have company.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, I’m using Mayo and Parmesan Cheese. 

The recipe indicates how much to use; but I wing it.  Next, I add salt and pepper to this mix and mix it altogether.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, I spoon it onto the breasts and spread it evenly.

 

Then I sprinkle the bread crumbs on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last thing, I cover it with aluminum foil and put it in the oven.

So, for the rest of the meal, I take red potatoes, rinse them in the sink and then put them into a pot of water to boil.

I also use canned green beans.  Open them and put them in a microwave-safe dish and put in the microwave until I’m ready to start them.

 

 

 

Then – I walk away.  Yeah.  That’s really just about it.

I set the timer for 45 minutes.  So, when the timer goes off, I uncover the chicken so it can brown while I get the potatoes and beans ready.  I strain and mash the potatoes and microwave the beans.

And I’m done!  Dinner is served.  (Drops mic)

 

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Weight Loss

By March 20, 2017 About me, General

Howdy friends.

Well, since I have all this free time right now; I might as well join some fitness classes and lose some weight.  So, congratulations.  You can follow my journey here!

I am really motivated by friends and, since I have none who will join these classes and/or workout with me, this is going to be a very hard thing for me to start and stay with.

So, I did the next best thing:  I bought cute workout clothes.  Teehee.  Don’t tell my husband!!

I bought some tight workout pants because one of the classes that I’m planning to take is a cycling class and I don’t want to wear shorts that might ride up or loose-leg sweatpants.  I got them from Fabletics by Kate Hudson.  They have some really cute stuff.  Unfortunately, sometimes they sell out of my size.  🙁  I also got some cute stuff from Shopko.  I really like some of the styles of shorts and tanks at Shopko.  I got one tank and a pair of shorts with spandex leggings on the inside.  I am hoping this will reduce ride up and chafing on account of my fat legs.  By summer this shouldn’t be an issue, right?!

I am going to start tomorrow, Monday, March 20.  I’ll be joining two fitness classes at our local YMCA.  One is Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the other is Tuesday and Thursday.  So, yes, I will be going to the gym 5 days a week.  The classes are at 4:45 and 5:15 respectively.  I didn’t choose morning classes because….well, duh.  Morning.  Nope.

WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!

So, the first class is “Indoor Cycling”.  The brochure says:  

“Low impact option when you want a high intensity workout. Great for all ages and skill levels. Set to rocking music, you are sure to break a sweat. Great way to increase lower body strength and cardiovascular endurance.”

Yeah, bicycle that doesn’t move.  How hard could it be.  Right?

 

 

 

The second class is called “Triple Threat”.  I’m scared already.  The brochure says:

“This 3 day series of workouts is 30 minutes of non-stop action! Each day features a different focus.

  • Day 1 is strength;
  • Day 2 is cardio;
  • Day 3 is yoga!”

Ok, two hard days and then yoga.  Yoga looks like it’s relaxing.  There’s like a mat that you put on the floor so you can lay on it.  I think I’ll like yoga.  Right?

My goal is a bikini.  Seriously.  Like, no amount of pounds…just bikini.  And I don’t want to just wear one because I can.  I want to look good in it!  I want to be proud of it!!

So, I hope you will all be rooting for me.  This is going to be interesting.

I will also be changing my diet slightly.  Believe it or not; one of my biggest problems is I don’t always remember to eat.  Especially now that I’m not working, sometimes I will forget to eat until 7 pm or later.  I also have some stomach issues, so a lot of times, food refluxes.  Ew.  So, sometimes I don’t eat because feeling hungry isn’t as bad as feeling “refluxy”.

I will start by eating a piece of fruit and possibly either eggs or oatmeal in the morning.  I will eat lean turkey or chicken, cheese, nuts, salad and vegetables (not all at the same time) for lunch.  For dinner, I will eat mostly pork or chicken, vegetables steamed or sautéed in olive oil, and baked or steamed potatoes (or none).  I will still be eating pasta sometimes.  I will eat toast with butter with my eggs.  I will drink mostly water, but occasionally milk.

I don’t usually drink alcohol, so I’m not giving anything up there.  I gave up soda in December and (thankfully) haven’t picked the habit back up again.  I did have the rare Pepsi today when I had lunch with a friend and I thought, “I don’t even want this.”  Lol.

I also have never been a smoker.  In fact, generally speaking, I’m probably pretty healthy.  Just out of shape.  (Round is a shape….)  I’m really excited to see results.  But I’m really a little scared at feeling sore!!

 

I will look forward to reporting back to you!  Wish me luck!

Kristine

 

 

 

 

 

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Memories of Dad

By March 10, 2017 About me, General

Good Afternoon, everyone.

Today is a sad anniversary for my family – the anniversary of the day my dad left this world.  But, it’s not without hope!  Read on, to feel our pain and see our triumph!

March 10, 1980 was a Monday.  I don’t remember if I went to school that day.  What I do remember is that I was with a very special family who had been friends to my mom and dad for years.  We had taco nights alternating from our house to theirs; Clothes were handed down from their oldest daughter to me, back to their second daughter and back to my little sister.  I learned how to ride a bike at their house.  And, this day, this horrible, sad, Monday, they babysat my sister and me while my mother went to the hospital to visit my dad.

My dad was never angry.  He seemed to always be happy.  I can literally never once remember him being cross.

He had a hammock which he strung between 2 trees in our backyard and his 6 foot 4 inch body would sway back and forth in it on lazy Georgia days from May to September.

One summer, a tree in the corner of our yard was infested with thousands of caterpillars.  Dad knew they would kill the tree; but he still shared my fascination of them all.

He played trumpet in the Army.  He practiced every night.  He played guitar and piano too.  He wrote beautiful marches for his band.  Our house was always filled with music.

He let me copy my handprint in the copy machine at work.  I wish we had thought to keep one.

When I had my tonsils out, he built a snowman with my mom outside my window because I was too sick to play.  He also bought me a giant stuffed blue elephant.

I loved him very, very much.  It seems that most people who knew him loved him too.

In 1980, I was in the second grade.  Between first and second grade, my mother had taken us all to a small tourist town in Upper Michigan for a vacation.  My dad had loved it.  It was a different world.  Everything moved at a different pace compared to the city of Atlanta.

Once we returned from vacation, as near as I can figure out, dad must have started to feel sick.  He visited the doctor in October of 1979.  Surely, everyone thought he would treat this cancer aggressively and win.

Unfortunately, by Christmas, things were looking grim.

My mother insisted that my sister and I would be allowed to visit him in the hospital.  She was pregnant with my brother and home health care would have been impractical, and was far from the usual mainstream idea it is today.  So, we would drive from our home to the hospital several times a week.

I remember stopping and playing at the Burger King play area.

I remember scooping up the rare fresh snow that fell one day to bring in to dad – and then eating it!

I remember coloring in special coloring books that were kept at the hospital.  My sister and I sat on the floor and colored, my mother knitted and talked with dad.  My dad laid there, tubes everywhere; not lounging in a hammock, not laughing and happy.  Just existing.  Barely.

That day in March so many years ago, my mother went to the hospital alone.  She had been doing so for about a week.  Even at 7, I knew things were probably bad.  And so, that Monday, before she even came to pick us up, I knew.  How long did it take us to get home?  Was our Pastor already there?  I don’t know.

My mother and the Pastor sat with me on the couch and my mother’s words will never leave my mind:  “You know I have always been open and honest about your father and his sickness.”  I think I must have nodded before she continued.  “Today, your father died.”

I was on a merry-go-round that was spinning too fast.  Everything was a blur.  I was crying.  My mother was crying.  My sister was watching something on Nickelodeon.  She turned and asked why we were crying.  My mother told her.

Died?  My dad had DIED?!

How could this be true?  But it was.

Days later we would have to say goodbye.  I walked up to the casket.  I wanted to touch his hand one last time.  It was so cold and hard.  It wasn’t the same hand that played trumpet and piano and guitar.  Not the same hand I held to cross the street.  Couldn’t be the same hand that tickled me into fits of laughter.

We went to the cemetery.  A long line of black sadness following us.  It was a very cold, rainy day.  It was as if all of the world knew our heartbreak and cried with us.  Someone spoke of my dad’s life.  A speech about what a loss he was.  Then, somewhere far away a bugler played taps and a second one shook with its sad echo.  The American Flag was folded and given to my mother.

And we left him there.  He was gone.

And yet…….if we had never lost my father, I doubt we would ever have moved to Michigan.  I would never have met my husband, had my children.  Sure, I would have met someone and would have had children….but not THIS husband, and not THESE kids.  I know that sounds crazy; but I believe my life would have been very different if my father had lived.  Happier?  Maybe.  But maybe the agony of losing a father is what makes me the compassionate and loyal friend and person that I am.

I think that my father would be proud that I choose to be a happy person.  Sure, I have my days when I’m down.  That’s only natural.  But, I’m not down and out!  Just down…but never count me out!

I miss dad every day.  I know his friends miss him.  He had many.  I know my mom misses him too.  But, we’re all ok.  And that, my friends, is the hope for today!

I hope you’re all “ok” today as well.

Happy Friday!  🙂

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