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Valentine’s Day – After 20 Years

I heard someone say recently that Valentine’s Day is for rookies…those who need help and a shove in the romance department. The longer you love one person, the more you realize that true love is steady, true love is committed, and true romance can be subtle.

What does Valentine’s Day look like after 20 years of marriage? 

It looks like a familiar morning – coffee made and brought up to enjoy in bed before facing the day

It looks like being pulled from coffee time by a child coughing and calling for mom

It looks like roaming the aisles of home depot to fix all that has quit in our ten-year-old house

It looks like a quick stop at the grocery to pick up candy hearts for the kids…and maybe some for us

It looks like teamwork as he stays home with a sick child while I take another child for some one-on-one time

It looks like a text saying, “I’m happy to make dinner…and clean up”

It looks like a chilled bottle of Prosecco

It looks like a quiet night in with a movie after the kids are in bed

It looks like climbing into bed and finding a red envelope on my pillow with his unmistakable handwriting

and knowing beyond all doubt that we are one and will be until our parting breath.

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Posted by on February 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Modern House-wifery

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My dishwasher died this week. It set off my PTSD caused by growing up in a family of eight without a dishwasher much of the time. Because of the piles of dishes created by eight people on a regular basis, and the late night dishwashing marathons to catch up, I have a serious attachment to my dishwasher. Not only that, I have a scientific method for loading it.

The science is this: the dishes that remain to be hand washed after the dishwasher is loaded is in direct proportion to my level of happiness. Therefore, everything that can be, is crammed into the dishwasher.

My husband does not agree with my theory…other than the happiness part. He seems to think that if you overload a dishwasher, the items don’t get clean enough. I have a scientific solution for that as well…run it again.

I seriously try to avoid hand washing dishes.at.all.cost.

But something strange has happened. As the kids and I (and the husband) have been hand washing dishes all week, I’ve found it rather pleasant at times. Something about my hands in the warm water, the smell of the soap, and chatting with one of my daughters while she dries the dishes has awakened a strange domestic feeling in me. It’s time spent together that wouldn’t normally happen. The rhythmic motion and running water is relaxing, and let’s face it, hard work is rewarding.

So maybe I won’t be in such a rush to get my dishwasher fixed. I’ll enjoy these moments of working together like our ancestors did without the modern convenience of a dishwasher. Although If my husband reads this, I may deny it. 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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New Year, New You?

I love all of the advertising and personal betterment goals this time of year. I’ve been invited to join countless Facebook challenges, and everywhere I look is a discounted gym membership or diet program. It makes sense, to be health conscious after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s feasting, but if I haven’t disciplined myself towards these resolutions already in life, Jan 1, 20whatever will not be the magic date.

Last year, I wrote a post titled I make No Resolutions and I stand by that…mostly. I guess to be completely honest, I make private resolutions. Rarely do I need to wait until January to find areas to improve, but I suppose the New Year feels like a fresh start. So I set my reading goals, my writing goals, my fitness goals, my spiritual goals, and my family goals, but rarely share them with anyone. They aren’t resolutions. They are goals.

As I see the years tick by faster and faster, I realize that in order to make forward progress there needs to be constant evaluation and goal setting. In my teens, it was easy to see where I would be in ten years…college, then job, maybe family. In my 20’s and early 30’s I was raising young children. Now, where I am in ten years depends very much on the goals I set now. My family is growing up, and before I know it my primary responsibilities will be moving out and setting their own goals — one always hopes.

So as I head into 2015, I will not resolve to never eat sugar again, hit the gym every day, or never raise my voice…resolutions I know will be broken before January 3rd. But I will set goals to read more, write more, pray more, and love my family more knowing that these are achievable daily decisions that not only improve my life, but the lives of those I hold most dear. When New Year’s eve 2015 rolls around and I reflect back on the year, I know the time will not have been wasted.

I wish the same for you.

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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Emotional, Impulsive, and Wired

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We’ve all seen the numerous blog posts on annoying Facebook statuses. Some of them are quite clever and make us shout, “RIGHT ON!” or “Wait..I do that. What’s wrong with that?! SMH” Whether we do them or not, we all know someone who does and have an opinion about it.

What is it about the over-shares, cryptic cries for help, or passive aggressive posts that really bugs us? It seems attention-getting or often like public revenge. Things that should be shared with a select few (and even better, in person), are broadcast to hundreds through social media. Basically, it seems immature, and despite privacy settings, there are many people who believe that what we put out there will stay for anyone to find.

This, my friends, is why teenagers and social media are a very bad combination.

Teenagers by their very nature are immature, emotionally charged beings. They live in world between worlds where they are leaving childish games behind while figuring out what it means to be an adult, while at the same time hormones and brain chemistry make logical thought nearly impossible. Whose idea was it to give them a public outlet to air these feelings?

It used to be that if you had a problem with someone you passed a nasty note in class, or had your friends shun them in the hall. If you were annoyed with a member of the opposite sex, they received exaggerated eye rolls or daggers during class, they endured gossip between you and your friends, and maybe they even got a prank or angry phone call later that evening (but you had to be civil long enough to ask Mr. Miller if Brad was available). I suppose there were those who stooped to egging or TP-ing. All actions that are here one minute and gone the next.

With cell phones and social media, a conflict between two people can be texted to hundreds in seconds, or a nasty meme posted to Instagram to be seen and liked by half your high school. Harassment issues have skyrocketed. Boys and girls alike sharing private pictures through massive group texts for the purpose of humiliation. Or a conversation that would have been confined to school hours, or the house phone can continue indefinitely through texting. I’ve had to take phones away from my kids because the person on the other end sent text after text and wouldn’t stop even when asked to. My daughter turned her phone off and when she turned it back on an hour later had 70 new texts from the same person.

I recently read this article on the dangers of teen girls and Instagram. It pointed out how their self-esteem becomes wrapped up in pictures they post and how many likes they receive. It becomes a popularity contest of sorts, with its own currency. The article states: “As they become preteens, research shows that girls’ confidence takes a nosedive. Instagram, then, is a new way for girls to chase the feeling of being liked that eludes so many of them. Instagram becomes a popularity meter and teens learn to manipulate the levers of success.”

The intricate ways teens use these apps for validation astound me. The article didn’t mention the most obvious one: en emoji chart where each emoticon means something like: pretty, fun, spirited, talented, etc. You post the chart on your page and then your friends pick which ones describe you and post it in the comments. I suppose this is harmless enough. I remember the papers we passed around at youth events with your own name at the top. Each person wrote something nice about you, folded it over, and passed it to the next person. The difference? When the paper returned to you, it was for your eyes only. And everyone in the circle participated.

With Instagram, girls are determining their self worth based on the number of positive responses…and all responses are public for everyone to see and judge.

Unfortunately this post does not come with answers. I’m still working through this dilemma. I have three teenagers and all of them use cellphones, and various forms of social media. I monitor their pages, ask to see their texts sporadically, and we have hard talks about what should and should not be posted. But I can’t monitor their emotions. I can’t develop a spreadsheet comparing “Time on Social Media and Effect on Self Esteem and Personal Happiness.”

My sad suspicion would be that it doesn’t come out in their favor.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Life happens

I tend to keep this blog light, literary, and more writing focused. I have shied away from being too personal, and posting sporadically has made that possible. However, when writing a post everyday, real life tends to creep in.

Today was going to be about voting. Life happened.

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I woke up to a phone call and voicemail at 6am. Phone calls outside the polite timeframe are always cause for alarm. The call was to inform me that my jr. higher’s bus was on a two hour delay due to safety concerns. My first response was to look out the window for frost and ice. Nothing. Of course, anything weather related would have been disclosed. The next step is to log onto social media to see if anyone else knows anything.

Within an hour we all learned that an online threat was made against the school. Law enforcement was brought in, the threat investigated thoroughly, and the perpetrator taken into custody. Law enforcement and administrators deemed the school “safe” and school resumed on a two-hour delay schedule.

To get really personal, we live thirty minutes from the most recent school shooting. Four years ago, my whole family huddled under bleachers watching the swat team move in and listening to gunfire while a gunman ran loose in our town and headed toward the football stadium.

I do not feel “safe”. I do not feel that my kids are “safe”.

I believe they are as safe as law enforcement and our wonderful school district can make them, but ultimately none of us knows the day or the hour. Ultimately tragedies are deemed tragedies because they are sudden and unpredictable. There will be no end to tragedy on this earth. There are no laws we can vote into place that will keep a madman from opening fire on innocent people.

I sent my daughter to school today. I didn’t want to at first, but living in fear empowers evil people.

There is only one way to live in this world: not in fear, but in faith…and with hope. Hope in the one who breathed this world into existence. Hope in the one who saw that it was good. Hope in the one who redeemed me for His own. Hope in the one who loves me as His child, and loves my children even more than I do. He is in control. He is my peace. He is my hope.

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

NaBloPoMo

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Kismet

A couple of weeks ago we took advantage of the Humane Society’s free adoption weekend. Our cat of ten years had disappeared and the kids and I were ready for a new kitty.

Horatio is irreplaceable. We rescued him as a kitten and he grew up with my kids. He embodied both fierce male independence and loving patience. He acted with many dog traits. We never kept food or litter in the house, because he always meowed at the door when he needed to go out to the garage. He hunted voraciously and often left animal parts as gifts to me. He roamed the neighborhood making friends with all of the neighbors and willingly accepting their food offerings. Horatio didn’t need a lot of love and attention, but was very sweet when he wanted to be.

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RIP Horatio

Knowing we couldn’t replace him, we wanted the polar opposite: female, indoor, cuddly. I did some research and found a beautiful one-year-old black female with mesmerizing green eyes. When my daughters and I arrived at the shelter, it was a madhouse. Several people waited on a row of chairs, while others filled out paperwork outside, while still others crowded in cat rooms interacting with possible new pets. I looked at my girls and mouthed, “let’s go.”

Once outside they begged to have a chance to stay and see some of the cats. “We came all the way over here, the least we can do is look at some!”

They talked me into going back in. This time one of the volunteers asked us if they could help. I mentioned that I had seen a picture of a cat online named, Kismet. As you may know, Kismet means fate.

She had been kept upstairs all day which meant she hadn’t been available for adoption….she was waiting for us. They brought her down and introduced her to us in a private room. As soon as the girl’s met her it was obvious we weren’t leaving without her.

We are still getting used to each other and adjusting. Sometimes she spends much of the day hiding and we call her shadow; other times she cuddles and purrs on our laps, but she is our kitty and we love her. I joke that she is like “Annie” in Fifty First Dates. We have to convince her each day that we aren’t scary strangers.

We renamed her Cleopatra – Cleo for short. But I’ll never forget that it was “Kismet” that led us to her.

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Posted by on November 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Where I’m From

My fifteen-year-old daughter wrote this for a school assignment. I had to share with you all.

Where I’m From

By Carolyn 

I am from Piano keys and peach trees

From grass stains and gentle rains

from picking sweet berries,

and riding bikes down lanes

I am from crisp fall mornings

and snowy evenings

from the smell of Grandma’s apple pie

and wishing the days wouldn’t go by

from longing for Christmas to come

and counting the snowflakes one by one

I am from the pitter patter of rain

not wanting to return again

From long nights and lullabies

never wanting to say goodbye

I am from listening to the same song

from all of us singing along

from the rush of your first roller coaster ride

and a windy day at the beach, chasing the tide

I am from hot days and cold nights

from dressing up in witch hats and striped tights

I am from eating sweet candy,

I am from family

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Poetry

 

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