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Ann Again...and again

With a family like mine the stories never end.

Updated: 2018-03-22T05:02:19.946-07:00


How to Find the Safest Gear for your Baby


photo courtesy: Nothing compares to the joys of being a parent. Having a newborn in the family brings couples closer and makes the entire household more cheerful and interesting. But as we all know, being a parent is not just about spending time with your baby. More than anything else, it also requires exerting a lot of effort to make sure that your baby is always safe and free from potential hazards. To further help you in this endeavor, here are some useful tips for finding the safest gear for your baby as you go through various baby product guides: Opt for a non-toxic gear.The first thing you need to check is the composition of the safety gear. What is the material made from? Is it non-toxic? Be sure that it is because babies have a strong tendency to put everything they see or touch in their mouths. It goes without saying that a safety gear that is made from toxic materials could poison your baby, in the long run, so be very careful about the safety gears you purchase. Make sure it is sturdy.The next thing to tick off your list is the built of the safety gear. The questions you need to ask yourself are: is the safety gear sturdy enough? Will it be able to support the weight of my newborn? Do not take the risk if you are not sure. The safety of your baby should always be a top priority. Choose the color.Believe it or not, the color of the safety gear is also important. Imagine buying white safety gear that matches your white walls. Your newborn, while wearing the safety gear, may blend in with the walls. Or something to that effect. This is especially worrisome if your vision is not accurate. Assess the size. Of course, you should also be very mindful of the size of the safety gear. Ideally, it should be able to fit your baby well. Although there are belts to secure your newborn, placing him or her in a safety gear that is too large could still stir up some unwanted hazards. To be very certain, it is best to go for a gear that is closer to your baby’s size. Inspect the design. Finally, we move on to the design of the gear. Does it have multiple locks to secure your newborn? Does it have extra features that are useful in keeping your child away from potential hazards? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself before buying a safety gear for your baby.We cannot stress how utterly important it is to keep your baby away from potential hazards, You can store accident-prone furniture and other objects, but what you should understand is that these hazards are everywhere. They could be within the confines of your own home, in your car, and even at the park or at the mall while you are strolling and having a good time. And the only defense you have against all of these is to be familiar with baby product guides and invest in a reliable safety gear. [...]

5 Tips To Find Your Perfect Foundation & Discount Codes!


Picking a foundation at the drugstore can be frustrating since you don't have the advantage of trying it on as you do in retail stores. In light of that, here are some tips on the most proficient method to find your ideal match. Finding foundation at Nordstrom is easy and simple. Visit the beauty counters at Nordstrom and find perfect foundation shades for you according to your skin type. In addition to these tips to find your perfect foundation, I also have a way for you to get great deals, check out for discounts on beauty products.1. Discover your skin type:While picking a foundation it's best to know your type of skin. Foundations today come in such a large number of various types– cream, powder, fluid, mousse–that it's staggering to attempt and make sense of which is best for you. Foundations are planned for slick, dry, full grown, typical, delicate skin. Remember that most ladies' skin sort changes with the climate. In winter, you may be dry, while in summer you may be slick. On the off chance that you have dry skin, go for a hydrating fluid or a cream. In the event that you have slick skin, then a mineral, powder or sans oil fluid recipe is ideal.2. Be familiar with your undertones:You've most likely heard somebody discussing undertones – the tint or cast of shading underneath your skin – before. Knowing your coloring hues is fundamental to finding the right foundation. There are three types of tints: Warm, neutral and cool. In case you're not certain what you are, I suggest taking a look at your wrist. Does the shading look more pink or yellow, or does it fall someplace in the middle? Pink means you have cool undertones, yellow is warm and, if you're someplace in the middle, you're neutral.3. Discover your shade:Pick a few shades that come nearest to your skin tone. Hold the samples to your jawline and consider the shade of your neck, which is frequently paler than your face. Be aware of poor, fluorescent overhead lighting that can cast unflattering shadows. (I can't STAND being in stores with nasty lighting! Yuck!) Stand close to a window or head outside to check your shading. The right tone ought to vanish into your skin.4. Pick your coverage:Consider your foundation goal. Perhaps lighter coverage in summer and a heavier, creamier base in colder months. A simple way to go is using tinted lotions.  Easy to apply and nice, light coverage every time. If your skin tone is uneven and you have certain facial coloring you'd like to cover, consider a medium-weight foundation. Most medium-weight foundations can be easily layered which makes them perfect year-around.5.  Apply like a professional:The general purpose of foundation is to enhance your skin, not shroud it. You need to apply foundation with the goal of looking natural – you shouldn't see where your applied foundation begins and ends.  Blend, blend, blend!  Tinted lotions and BB creams: Rub them onto skin with clean fingers, or use a makeup sponge. Fluids, mousses, and creams: Use a sponge to create a smooth look. Buff, mixing outward. Top your cream-based foundation with a translucent powder.  Powder base foundation: Use a brush, using very little product and build if more coverage is needed.Foundation doesn't need to be a mystery.  Along with taking great care of your skin, a foundation can help you protect your skin and achieve a healthy glow.(*photo courtesy of*)[...]

My Biggest Regret In High School - Care To Share Yours?


Ah yes... I remember it well... unfortunately... (~~~~trip back to 1980~~~~)High School. To paraphrase Dickens, "It was the best of times, it was the most-hair-style-challenged of times".  I remember a picture taken of me leaving for my first day of High School. I'm wearing a brave smile, but the hair, the hair, my hairstyle was a nightmare. My two best friends and I were going to be attending a High School out of our district, that was stressful enough. To add to this new-ness we wanted new looks as well since this school was known for the preppiness that was sweeping the John Hughes lovin' nation. "K." was going to sport the Argyle and Alligator shirt look. "W." was going for 'All Monogrammed, All The Time" and I was going to ditch the bell-bottoms, wear Levi's and have the hairstyle of my dreams.  I have straight, thick hair and had always wanted curly hair. When I would see girls with curly hair they always seemed so artistic, so worldly. I wanted to be those things too!My mom had been perming her hair for years so she called her hair stylist. The only appointment available was the day before the first day of school. I took it. I had to have my new hair to go with my new life! My best friends went with me. We were all excited. During the process, I had an inkling that there might be a problem when the hair stylist began to run low on perm rods. However, my friends and I were so busy talking, and laughing that I didn't give it another thought.At the end of my transformation, the hair stylist took out all of the rods, put on her finishing touches of spritz and fluff, then turned me to face myself in the mirror. I was stunned. We were all stunned. The hair stylist in a good way, my friends and I, not so much. What... exactly... happened to my hair?! My hair had transformed from looking straight and long to, well, a big pile of curly poo!!! There was an upside-down triangle of curls on the top of my head.I cried on my friend's shoulders all the way home. I cried at the dinner table. I cried on the couch. I cried in bed.I don't know how I got over myself and made it to school the next day. But I did. And I learned a valuable lesson that I can now pass on to my two girls. When wanting to make a big change, start with clothing. At least that you can return. Do you have any fashion/hair disaster(s) from high school?  Please share in the comments below![...]

Pros and Cons of Gutter Guards


Guest PostCarrying out maintenance and cleaning your gutters is a seasonal activity for most people, depending on where you live and how much foliage you have around. And this is important for the life of your home, as your gutters collect and channel water away from your roof, home, and it's foundation.However, because most gutters are just open to the air and have no coverings, they tend to become home to rodents, and insects, as well as act as a collection plate of sorts for dead leaves, twigs, and other debris.Even if you've never had to deal with removing the remains of a dead animal stuck in your roof, you might have encountered a surprised snake or other undesired guest.Enter: gutter guards, in the form of inserts, reverse curves, or screens.While your choice will depend on your needs, there are some general pros and cons to installing guards on your gutter system. If you’re thinking of investing but are unsure, we aim to help you better understand the choice you are about to make for your home.Pros of Gutter GuardsGutter guards act as screens against debris, preventing the pile-up of debris in the gutters. This is important because excess debris can put considerable weight on the gutter, resulting in weaker joints, soffit, and even fascia. There’s also the issue of the debris becoming home to reptiles and rodents. This is particularly important if you reside in a place where you have lots of reptiles and foliage. Open gutters are attractive places to make a home for a variety of species of flora and fauna.Having a gutter guard in place will, first and foremost, protect your gutters from these sorts of things and allow a clear channel for water to flow away from your home. This open channel is critical to the function of your gutters, as the weight of trapped water or ice can become extreme. Prolonged exposure and stagnation can cause corrosion and wear out seams, even cause the system to fail entirely. This ultimately leads to costly repairs.Cons of Gutter GuardsWhile gutter guards are amazing and capable of eliminating the bulk of your debris, the reality is that they won't stop everything. Depending on the type of guard used, there will usually be some debris that can still become trapped or build up. For instance, screens left for too long will end up trapping larger sized debris, while inserts may allow smaller debris to accumulate.Installation of another part on top of your gutter system can also provide its own challenges. The easiest gutter guard you can install is the insert. Screen and reverse curves are often more technical and time-consuming operations, often requiring more labor -- particularly in the case of reverse curves.Bringing it HomeThe specific solution that works best for your home is going to depend on your roofline, the surrounding foliage, and the weather patterns in your area. The reality is that the design of your gutter systems, and any guards designed to assist them, needs to be tailored to the kind of punishment it's going to see. You'll never be able to forget about seasonal gutter cleaning, contrary to any claims you might hear to the contrary. But if you pick the right system and guard for your home, you can cut down on maintenance and repairs considerably -- and better protect your home, and your foundation, from the elements. If you’re not sure which works for you, check with The Gutter Experts and get their advice on what system will protect your investment for the life of your home.[...]

Because This Has Gone Far Enough! Trump = Hate


The fact that Donald Trump is received with cheers makes me shudder. The words that he says make my jaw drop and my heart hurt. He's an evil man sharing evil views and ideas. Does he honestly, truly believes all he says? Regardless, he is creating a horrible path for America.

Donald #Trump and Pink Floyd's The Wall mashup is everything you dreamed it could be.Video by TheBlueOfTheDjinn aka Usama Alshaibi
Posted by IRBF on Sunday, March 6, 2016

Fend Off The Flu - Time To Build The Immune System!


Yesterday I hear, "Mom, where's the stomach medicine?"  It's in the same place it's always been however, if the question's being asked, that means she re-e-eally doesn't feel good and wants to be taken care of.  Mom to the rescue! With an aggressive flu season upon us it's a good time to freshen our eating habits on foods and vitamins that build the immune system. I'm wondering if the rumbling in my stomach is something wrong or just the result of too much cayenne pepper in my scrambled eggs.  (Hello, hypochondria?  It's me, Ann.)  Time to do some research and see what I need to stock up on:photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.netBeta-carotene and other carotenoids: apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon frameborder="0" height="1" id="remoteAd_Iframe" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="" style="color: #222222; position: relative; right: 4px;" width="494">Vitamin C: berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, tomatoes, and red, green, or yellow peppersVitamin E: broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seedsThese foods are also rich in antioxidants:PrunesApplesRaisinsPlumsRed grapesAlfalfa sproutsOnionsEggplantBeansOther antioxidants that can help keep you healthy include:Zinc: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy productsSelenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, fortified breads, and other grain products(Above information courtesy of WebMD)I'm also going to add ginger ale and oyster crackers.  Those are things that are a "go-to" when one of us doesn't feel well.  Are there certain foods your family wants when they don't feel good?  Oh geez, do I feel an itchy throat?[...]

It's True!



A Health And Fitness Guide This Summer


Image by Cordeiro used under the Creative Commons LicenseThere are few seasons that make staying healthy and exercising more appealing than summer, as it allows you to get out in the sunshine, fresh air, and warm weather—a lot more appealing than winter’s snow and cold. But even when motivation is high, it can be sometimes difficult to figure out the best ways to stay active and in shape. So if you’re trying to plan your path to a summer full of healthy choices and exercise, here are a few things you can do to get you on your way.Begin by walkingThe easiest way to begin living a healthier life is by simply leaving your car at home and walking to local destinations whenever possible. This will not only build muscle and stamina for the more intense activities you will do when working out, but it will also burn calories and help your cardio. Another benefit to walking as opposed to driving places is that it has no negative environmental impact.Head to a local parkToday more and more parks are beginning to install a variety of exercise equipment and spaces for activity, from running tracks to pull-up, push-up, sit-up stations and more. Many public parks also have sports courts available for free use, such as tennis courts and basketball courts. Also, take a look online as you might find an exercise class that meets in the local park, which you could sign-up for.Join a programThe easiest way to ensure that you stay on top of your fitness is to be held accountable by someone else, and a great way to do this is by signing up for classes, sports teams, or exercise groups. Fortunately summer is the season where these are most available, so there is no better time to sign-up, get fit, and also meet some new healthy friends while you’re at it.Consider an active holidayDoing something strenuous on your holiday might sound like the exact opposite of a vacation, but a trekking and camping trip will not only force you to stay active during your time off, but it will also bring you to many beautiful sites that are only accessible to those who are willing to put in a little bit of effort. You can always reward yourself with a few days at the beach after you’ve finished your expedition.Prepare for winterThere is nothing worse than getting fit in summer and then losing all the benefits of that hard work as soon as the season changes. When the weather starts to get cold and you no longer want to exercise outside, look to join a gym; or, consider buying your own fitness equipment such as a cross trainer or a treadmill, check out retailers like  Tesco to find the best deal. Whatever you do, keep working out as staying in-shape is way easier than getting back in-shape.Remember, that whether you’re the type of person who loves or hates exercise, there are plenty of great reasons and ways to stay healthy and active in summer.[...]

Is Talking To Yourself A Bad Thing?


Thoughts are always swirling about something I saw on Facebook, or a news story I saw online.  I'm thinking of how I would have handled a situation or the 'What I should have said...' dialogue that goes round and round in my brain.  Sometimes my thoughts form sounds and these sounds come from my mouth.  And... I may not be alone when I say these thoughts.Did I say that out loud?There are many, many occasions where I have a conversation swirling in my head and then I hear someone in the next room and I wonder if I had been having this imaginary conversation out loud.  I have supported some really good arguments while vacuuming or making the bed.  And wow!  Did I ever get my point across while I was curling my hair! That'll show them, oh those people that aren't in the room. Try to intimidate me will ya'!I really admire those that can meditate and clear their minds.  Just be.  How do they do it?  I've tried many times to follow the instructor and "Focus on the breath.  In two-three-four.  Out two-three - hey, what about that ridiculous request today?  What I should have said..."  And *boom*  I'm talking to my imaginary friend again.But wait.  I have a dog.  I'll just say I was talking to him.[...]

I Guess I Shouldn't Hit A TSA Officer??


I was just going over a post I presented about how retailers manipulated our shopping senses.  One way to persuade our subconscious to buy more/tip more was to touch a customer on the shoulder or hand.  I've read something like this in other studies and now I notice when the check comes and a shoulder is touched and there's a smiley face next to the server's name that they've read the same study.  (Good for them! :->    *my tip jar's on the right*wink*wink*)Now, I am a touching person.  When I talk with someone I am naturally inclined to touch them on the arm or, if they've said something funny, I might lightly - lightly - hit their arm.  Playful is what I'm going for, not an injury as in 'How dare you make me laugh!'  I have always been someone that physically connects.  I know that every situation doesn't call for a literal personal touch, and I do my best to refrain on most occasions, but this reminded me of the last time I was at an airport going through the security check line...I do not enjoy flying.  And when I have to fly alone it brings my stress level up beyond what's comfortable.  I was doing my best to visualize my goal - I was meeting Rob in Oakland, CA and we were driving to the Napa Valley for the weekend.  Dreamy.  As I was winding through the airport security check-in line I was looking at everything and everyone around me.  How are we doin'?  We OK?  Everyone feelin' good?  Looks good.  OK.  My turn to go through inspection.I take off all my clothes... no, not really.  I take off the jacket, shoes and scarf and put those along with my purse through the x-ray machine.  I have nothing in my bag to be concerned with but I worry - about everything!  Then comes my time to get x-ray'ed.  "Hands up, please", the security officer says.  Within these seconds I know she is seeing me pretty much naked on the screen.  Great. My close-up is over and she asks me to step out of the machine.  When I do I turn to her and ask "Does that machine show you my weight too?"  ha ha - I'm hilarious - and I hit her on the arm.I repeat - I hit a TSA Security Official on the arm.I'm not sure what came over me.  I, I, um.  I smiled.  I looked her in the eye hoping she is registering that I am just a nervous flyer, not someone trying to take her down.  She calmly, and with slight irritation, said "Go get your things".  Yes Ma'am.  Yes Ma'am!There is a time and a place for a literal personal touch.  The airport security check-in is not one of those places you wish to have one. I made it on the plane, Boarding Group B, position 21 - 30.  First order of business?  Bloody Mary please!  Ah, the joy I have of flying.How are you with flying?  Calm, do you enjoy it?  Or, do we have something in common - apart from hitting a TSA Official, that is.[...]

Asking Too Much??


A neighborhood Facebook group I belong to keeps me in the loop on what's happening with local restaurants, sales at my favorite stores and general information from my neighbors.  There are times, however, when I wonder if this is such a good thing.  This group is a lively one when it comes to the sharing of information ("Traffic is bad on the bridge), complaints ("Go away Hipsters!") and neighborly inquiries ("Did someone lose their chickens?"  Yes, Portlandia films in my neighborhood often ;-> ).  But there was a post recently that had me shaking my head.  I'm just not sure what to think of the inquiry and I wasn't sure if it was a put on.  Someone in the neighborhood wants things, in great condition, for free and she wants them a.s.a.p.  Read the post and tell me what you think:"I had my baby shower a few days ago and didn't get anything. It's a boy. So if anyone has anything I need that I can have for free that would be amazing. I'm due within a few weeks so I need them asap: infant soothing swing, gliding bassinet with storage underneath and mobile that plays lullabies and stuff, diapers and wipes any size, soft rocking glider and ottoman in great condition, baby bath, and anything else I can't think of right now. Please let me know if u have anything for me."Maybe my reaction isn't the most polite, but my jaw dropped.  Was this a real request?  She seriously had a baby shower and didn't get anything so now she turns to Facebook neighbors for her wish list fulfillment? She is asking strangers to provide an infant swing, a mobile that plays lullabies, a glider with ottoman - in great condition - and a bassinet with storage underneath.  And get this, with further investigation I found that she doesn't live in town however, her mother lives near by and she visits her mother a lot.  So, well, yeah.Comments from the group were perfect in directing her to facilities that help for just these circumstances.  I resisted in commenting.  I have so many questions but I don't think I could write them in a way that doesn't sound judgmental.Breaking it down here's what happened:  A stranger didn't get gifts she wanted from a party.  Upset, she goes to Facebook and asks for what she wants.  Hmmm. There was no "Does anyone know who/what/where I can contact to help me?"  Or, "Anyone know if there are organizations I can contact to help me out?"  Perhaps I wouldn't be so irritated if she had included the sentiment of appreciation, if the understanding that generosity is a huge factor in this transaction.  I didn't get either one of those from this post.  Oh, also the fact that these items need to be in "great condition". The last line just gets me:"Please let me know if u have anything for me."I fully support helping others. We all have our moments of being in need and I want to help.  I give, support, donate often.  I just feel this post/request was over the top.  What do you think?[...]

A New Support Group At My Daughter's Middle School - LGBT


My 8th grade daughter told me about a new support group that was starting in her school.  This group was presented by the school's counselor and it is for those that support, or are, LGBT.  I am so proud of the school counselor and joyful for those that find support in this group.What gender you love doesn't matter to me.  And it shouldn't matter to anyone.  My husband and I have brought our children up with 'Love Is Love'.  What truly does matter in a relationship:  Kindness - Synonym: humanity, generosity, charity, sympathy,compassion, tenderness.No abuse - verbal/physical -          Syonym:  ill-use, maltreat, injure, harm, hurt.If you are in a relationship and they are kind to you and you are kind to them, that's wonderful.  If you are in a relationship and the kindness is shared and there is also no abuse, that is sublime.  I've been asked "what if your daughter told you she was gay?" and that's how I came to my heart-felt realization that it doesn't matter what gender my daughter(s) fall in love with. What I care MOST about is that they are in a relationship with someone that is kind to them.  Someone they can trust to not hurt them physically or with words.  For those that feel it's wrong to be Lesbian Gay Bisexual or Transgender then you have been brain washed.  "But the Bible says...!" Oh please.  The Bible says a LOT of things, many words, many sentences, many paragraphs. Pages filled with words and those looking to support their comfort level will look for a grouping of words to support their feelings.  But what does the next sentence say?  Or the next paragraph?  Or next book?If you are personally uncomfortable with those that are LGB or T then that is all.  Be honest and just say "I'm uncomfortable".  If all you see when you meet someone, or are around someone, is who they are physically attracted to then, well, that's how your mind works.  For those that are bothered, is the gender that you are physically attracted to all there is to you?  Is that all you're about?  I hope you are more interesting then that.[...]

Finding What Will Feed Your Spirit


I have seriously, I mean with deep emotion, been trying to figure out what I'm going to do with my grown-up life.  I feel like a frickin' Lifetime movie!  It's ridiculous. I feel ridiculous.  Next year both of my girls will be in high school and the work I do with social media isn't cutting it in the "personal fulfillment" category of my brain and spirit (and bank account).

My favorite thing to do is work within PicMonkey and, most recently, Canva.  If you enjoy graphics, fonts, colors and creating you can spend hours (days ;-> ) on these sites.  A fun thing happened quite a few months ago, I shared a plea within my Twitterverse - "Why can't I get a job just creating on PicMonkey all day?!"  A few weeks later there was a Virtual Assistant job posted in a Facebook group which involved, get this, a knowledge of PicMonkey.  I filled out an application along with examples of my work and got the job!  I was creating in PicMonkey.  Fonts, colors and graphics filled my days and I was happy.  The drag part?  I was being timed - severely, I thought.  It became very stressful.

I had never had a job like this and I was pushing myself to work faster day after day.  But the thing with creating images is that colors lend themselves to the vibe of the font and finding a balance takes time. Another piece of the puzzle was adding images as well.  If my scope was narrow it would have been easier but the selections are vast.  So many possibilities! And that's what makes it fun.  But not when you're being timed.

I was asked to take a quote and create a new image with it AND see how many I could do in time frames that became increasingly shorter - one hour to forty-five minutes, then forty-five to thirty minutes, then thirty minutes to ten minutes.  Oh boy.  Not a lot of room to be creative and find joy in the process that's for sure.  Time frames I get. But when you're given no room to process what's happening?  That's stressful.  It ended, which was a bummer.

So that was my last job.  I enjoyed what I did, and I hope to do it again, I just wish the quota was per day, not "how many can you create in 10 minutes?"  I'll keep trying!

How are you handling your grown-up life?  Have you found ways to feed your spirit, your creative side?  And, possibly, your bank account?


I Need This On A T-Shirt


If I were to put a message on my t-shirt today it would be:

There are those days.  Am I right?

What would your t-shirt say today?(image)

What Makes A Good Neighbor?


Our dear, sweet neighbors have moved today.  We will miss them very much.  Having good neighbors makes such a difference in your daily life, ya' know?  

I've had my fill of those that think I want to hear their music too.  Well, I don't.  Those that like to party until 3:00 a.m. in their backyard.  For God Sakes!  What's the matter with these people?!  Oh, the ego.  One time we had neighbors that thought of themselves highly in the acoustic guitar playing/singing area and preceded to practice in their backyard the same song for hours.  The same song, not sung well, for hours.  Yes, we closed our windows, turned up our own music but still, the wailing creeped through our walls.  This went on for days.  

The best neighbors are those that care for their home, celebrate in reasonable tones and within reasonable hours and bring cupcakes to your parties.  And that what these neighbors did.  And now they are gone.  *sniff*

Who is coming next?  The waiting begins.

How have your neighbor experiences been?

Sharing With My Daughter's Permission


Around 6th grade our oldest daughter began sharing her creative writing with us.  I loved the words that she chose and was amazed at her imagination.  Now a junior in high school she doesn't share as much, but her recent paper received an A+ and she was pretty darned pleased.  So were we!  I hope she continues with her writing.  Here's her latest assignment:November 19th:  I moved to a new town today.  During the long, boring drive I took to get here I came across a small store filled with knick-knacks and assorted journals.  Seeing as this move was a new experience for me, I decided to purchase one of the journals to document my time here.  It won't be any of that "Dear Diary" garbage; I'm well over that phase.  Perhaps I should address you, the journal, as a reader of these entries.  It would certainly add an interesting purpose to them.  I've got some unpacking to do, so I'll write more after everything is in its place.November 21st:  I suppose I should tell you about myself, Journal.  My name is Vincent Demone.  I'm a middle-aged man; I've short gray hair and dull brown eyes.  Nothing special, really.  I'm an incredibly passive person who prefers the company of none but my own.  That's not to say I dislike people.  In fact, I very much enjoy watching others go through their daily lives.  People fascinate me.  It's the interactions with them that I find displeasing.November 29th:  I've started to become well acquainted with many of the people in this town, Journal.  It has a small population of about 50, so we're all practically neighbors.  It feels like its own little world.  Everyone here has a care-free personality that I can't help but admire.  Perhaps I'll invite my newfound friends to tea sometime.  It would certainly be a change to these silent halls.December 4th:  A thick fog has rolled into town, Journal.  It's rather odd, seeing as we're miles from the nearest river.  I spoke with the grocer about it the other day and he replied with a smile, "Ah, the clouds must've grown tired from floatin' up so high! They just need to rest."  What an interesting imagination that man has.  Despite how odd his reason sounded, I can't ignore the fact that he's correct.  Fog is just low-lying clouds, isn't it?December 10th:  The fog still hasn't lifted, Journal.  I wouldn't be so wary if not for the fact that someone has disappeared.  The owner of the bakery had gone to the city to purchase a new oven, but she hasn't returned.  It's been three days now.  The people say she must have gotten lost, which is understandable;  she'd never been good with directions.  They are sure she will return.  I wish I could share their ease.December 18th:  Something's wrong.  Something's very, very wrong, Journal.  There are only 27 people, including myself, left in this town.  Some had packed up their belongings and drove out of town and into the fog.  Others have disappeared without a trace.  We believe the fog has taken them.  As much as I want to reject the ludicrous thought, I can't think of anything else.  All internet and phone services are dead and gone, which means we are unable to contact anyone outside the town.  We've started to stock our homes with supplies so that we wouldn't have to go outside.  Some people have gone so far as to board up their windows and doors.  Why is this happening?December 19th:  It is the fog, Journal.  I saw it.  I saw what it did to[...]

This Question Stopped Me In My Tracks


So the high school application has been turned in, the teacher's letter's of recommendation have been sent and last night was our family interview.  High School for our youngest is really happening.  Help!

For the interview it's arranged for the Principal to speak with the child first then the parents.  I felt so silly because I was nervous during our interview.  I mean, come on.  What is my deal?  I've done this before.  Geez.

I don't mind talking to people, having conversations about our days, our lives, things like that.  I guess it's because I'm not used to being asked questions by someone of authority, someone who is playing a major role in my daughter's acceptance to this school.  What if I say something stupid? (Very likely)  What if I get a hot flash? (Also very likely)  Could I give an answer that will put the kibosh on her acceptance?  My minds swirls with these thoughts.

There were some very interesting questions presented, one in particular had us take a moment and reflect in a way that I don't think parents do often enough.  The question: "What are some traits that you appreciate in your child?"  I tell my children I love them everyday.  We talk about school, about feelings, thoughts every day.  But this question took me back a bit.

Do you give yourself the time to really think about your child(ren) and the way they behave, treat others, participate in life?  If not, you should.  Routines are so easy to get into and you can glide through your days without paying attention.  Days become weeks, weeks become months and then *boom* the year is over.  When did my little girl become a teenager ready for high school?

So, what are some traits that you appreciate in your child? :->(image)

This Might Get Messy


Created by Rachel Jones of The Bumpy Road

Giggle for the day.  

Check out the other creations by Rachel Jones at her Etsy site - TheBumpyRoad.


What Am I Going To Be When I Grow Up?



I need to figure out what I'm going to be when I "grow up".

When I say this out loud my teenagers look at me completely confused.  "Mom, you are grown up."  Yep, my years prove that I am a full grown adult but what was necessary for my families needs, beginning 17 years ago, is dwindling.  Errands, tasks, appointments, school volunteering - daily jobs of being a stay-at-home mom (not counting the cleaning.  Oh God, the never ending cleaning!) aren't what they used to be.

I was very fortunate to be able to stay home with both of our children and next year both of our girls will be in high school.  I need to find something that will fill my spirit and my time (AND that has NOTHING to do with house cleaning!) to take myself through my next phase of life.  What am I going to be when I grow up?

What ever it is I will need more education.  I wish I could be more excited about that, but I'm not.  School was never a comfortable situation for me.  Extreme anxiety would cause me to fill my head with panic at being called on, which drowned out the necessity to listen to the teacher so that I could learn what the heck the subject was about.  Very bad cycle.

I wonder what would happen if I attended a blog conference?  After all these years of having two blogs I've never gone to a conference.  If I'm to get these blogs into a much higher gear I think the only way to make that happen is attend a conference.  And guess what?  That terrifies me too.

I've gotta do something though.  I really do.

(image) *

(*You have to be a certain age to get this ;-> )(image)

365 Daily Lessons - Week 4 Day 3 - Venus de Milo


The Venus de Milo was discovered by a peasant on the Aegean island of Melos in 1820.  This sculpture is in the likeness of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and to the Romans she is known as Venus.  Thus the title Venus de Milo.  She is made of out of Parian marble and stands six and a half feet tall.  (This was a woman not to mess with!)

photo from

While the artist is not truly known it has been discovered that this statue was created during the Hellenistic period, 323 B.C. to 31 B.C.  The term "Hellenistic" comes from the word Hellazein, which means "to speak Greek or identify with the Greeks".

The Venus de Milo stands in the Louvre Museum in Paris, a donation which was given by Louis XVIII.  Have you seen it in person?  I haven't, yet.  It's on my list!

Here's a funny story;  there is a tale of a man who ordered a plaster copy of the statue and then sued the railroad company when it arrived from Paris without arms.  But that's not the oddest part - he won his case.  Wha'?!?(image)

Dear Pop Music Creators


Dear Pop Music Creators,My 14 year old daughter has informed me that she is tired of being embarrassed by your lyrics.  She loves the tunes, she loves the beat but she is done with hearing lyrics that paint images that she doesn't want in her mind.  She's hopeful that 2015 will have songwriters that understand there's more important, and pleasant, things to write about other than big booties, drinking and sex.What she would like more of are songs that inspire you to be a better person, help you know that you have support and are not alone or something just plain fun!  There are a few of you out there with smart, clever writing skills and your songs are appreciated.  Then there are those of you that are just nasty, vile, low-class.  (My words not her's.  She would call you "just plain gross").The song "Try" by Colbie Caillat is a current favorite.   If you're not familiar with these lyrics Colbie Caillat shares that you don't have to try to be something you're not, by wearing too much make-up, buying expensive clothes, behaving in a way that's not really comfortable to you, to fit in.  Great message - although her over use of the word "try" does get on my nerves, but I'll let it slide.  It's a great song for my teen daughters to hear and feel.   With the beginning of the next song on the radio by Tove Lo we're blasted into a totally different world with the intro "I eat my dinner in the bath tub then I go to strip clubs watching freaky people getting it on."  Later the singer says she throws up in the bath tub so her life is pretty much a mess.  And why?  Because someone left her.  Her chorus "I've gotta stay high all the time to get you off my mind"  gets a fun rewrite by my daughter.  She prefers "I've gotta wave 'Hi' all the time to people that I meet.  Gotta wave 'Hi' all the time to people on the street."  I giggle every time because it's a completely different vibe from the original lyrics.  Love it.And don't get us started on Ariana Grande!  Get this song writing gem she sings "I only want to die alive never by the hands of a broken heart.  Don't wanna hear you lie tonight now that I've become who I really are."  Who I really 'are'?!?  Seriously?!!?  And the song that put my daughter over the edge was "Love Me Harder".  It's a duet and you think it's going to be ok then the guy chimes in and it's, well, it's just a shame.  There's a LOT to be said for subtlety and romance - just sayin'.photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.netSo, dear pop music lyricists, do you think it's possible to use your brain to create something clever?  Words that don't embarrass or degrade?  I'm sure my teenage daughters aren't the only ones hoping for better quality words to go along with your catchy tunes.[...]

Finding The Sunshine


For those that are in the midst of a blizzard, here's a little break from the snow.

Rob and Lily

A family walk through the "resting" International Rose Test Gardens in Washington Park - Portland, OR. (image)

How Old Is Too Old To Have An Imaginary Friend?


Thoughts are always streaming about something I saw on Facebook, or a news story I saw online.  I'm thinking of how I would have handled a situation or the 'What I should have said...' dialogue that goes round and round in my brain.

Did I say that out loud?

There are many, many occasions where I have a conversation swirling in my head and then I hear someone in the next room and I wonder if I had been having this imaginary conversation out loud.  I have supported some really good arguments while vacuuming or making the bed.  And wow!  Did I ever get my point across while I was curling my hair! That'll show them, oh those people that aren't in the room. Try to intimidate me will ya'!

I really admire those that can meditate and clear their minds.  Just be.  How do they do it?  I've tried many times to follow the instructor and "Focus on the breath.  In two-three-four.  Out two-three - hey, what about that ridiculous request today?  What I should have said..."  And *boom*  I'm talking to my imaginary friend again.

But wait!  I have a dog.  I'll just say I was talking to him.


365 Daily Lessons - Week 3 Day 2 Literature "The Harlem Renaissance"


In the 1920's to early 1930's the Harlem neighborhood in New York City became a flourishing scene for African-American literature and art.  This artistic surge became known as the Harlem Renaissance.  W.E.B. DuBois, a founding member of the NAACP, helped set the foundation for this creative expression by inspiring a sense of black cultural consciousness and pride.  Before his role of founding the NAACP in 1909, DuBois wrote The Souls of Black Folk in 1903, which is regarded as a cornerstone of African-American literary history.

Leading writers of the Harlem Renaissance were James Weldon Johnson, Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston.  Ms. Hurston wrote "Their Eyes Were Watching God".  (For you fellow Oprah fans you should remember this book was an "Oprah Winfrey Presents" movie starring Halle Berry.)

The popularity of words and stories also found its way to the increasingly popular jazz music scene.  Links between music and literature of the Harlem Renaissance became strong and each field inspired one another, particularly in the poetry of Langston Hughes.  Mr. Hughes works become known as "Jazz poetry" due to the fact that his words had the rhythm and feel of improvisation.

I love jazz.  I haven't read Langston Hughes' poetry.  I do believe I need to correct that right away.


A 5 Year-Old's Parents Were Billed For Not Attending A Birthday Party


Did you hear the one about the 5 year-old who received a bill for not attending a school mates birthday party? This is real. The mother of the birthday boy had an invoice for payment placed in the sack lunch of the child who's parents verbally R.S.V.P.'d "Yes", but didn't attend her son's birthday party at a Snowboard and Ski Slope Center in England.  Yes, a mother had a teacher put an invoice in the sack lunch of a 5 year-old child - and a teacher actually did that.  (Now, the headmaster of the school agrees that the teacher was wrong - we'll move ahead of that issue.)  What would you do if you received an invoice such as this?I found the story hereThe father of the invoiced child went to speak with the mother directly.  Perhaps he was a bit upset?  Maybe his voice was raised?  Communication between the mothers of the two children have been happening through Facebook which gives more insight.  The invoiced child's mother gave reason for having to change his availability to attend.  However, she couldn't find a way to contact the mother to let her know before the party.  (She didn't even know her first name at that point to contact through FB like she was doing now.)  Also, it wasn't mentioned that there was a cost issue for this party.  The money-wanting mother replied with "I didn't mention the money when we spoke because it was a child's party". The money-wanting mother also wrote "This is not the first time Alex has not turned up to a party that he has been invited to, either. the amicable way round this I believe would be to pay me the money and let a lesson be learnt, I hope this is agreeable ?"  If cost was an issue I feel this parent should have been more open about this event and communicate the need to know if a child could attend or not.  I'm not saying you have to brag about expense, just express it's a special event held at a special place and it's important to know if the child can attend or not.This part just gets me, "Let a lesson be learnt, I hope this is agreeable".  I see.  She feels it's up to her to teach these parents of a 5 year-old how things are done when it comes to r.s.v.p.'ing and the perils of non-attendance.I have years of experience planning child's parties and I'm familiar with needing to pay for the group ahead of time.  If you choose to have a party like that for your child it's just the way it is.  And that's my point - this mother chose to have a party for her child that had a certain cost attributed to each participant.  Did she bill those who did attend and use the services at the Snowboard and Ski Slope Center?  No.  My take is that she is peeved that she had to pay for services that weren't used and that didn't sit kindly with her.  Things happen!  I can't imagine what my community relations would be like if I invoiced every child that didn't show to a party.  And what that would do to my child at school?  If I received this invoice would I pay?  I would like to be bold and snarky and say that would be a big 'NO!'.  However, to be completely honest, I would just pay the money and go on with my life with the realization that this woman and I will not be friends.  Life is short.  I don't have time to worry about the grief this could cause and the pressure this would put on my child at sch[...]