Thursday, December 20, 2012

Look out... I'm back :)

Yes, it’s true. After a rather lengthy hiatus, I am back. Once it was no longer a necessity to write the articles, I figured I didn't need to go on with this blog. But after a few request that i continue, I decided to keep writing. Even if I am my only reader. That being said, I had hoped my first post would be some feel good piece regaling tales from Christmas past. But in light of recent events, I don’t think that is mood any of us are in right now.

I am not going to go on some long political rant on gun control. Looking at our gun laws is not where we will find our answers, because guns are not the problem. Yes, many times they are the preferred means to an end, but they are not the catalyst. We are. If you want an explanation, look no further.Our society today is the issue we need to be examining. We may have made huge advances in technology in the last 50 years or so, but we have back peddled in our principles and integrity. Where are our morals? Why is compassion to our fellow man considered newsworthy and not commonplace? Don’t get me wrong, I believe that good deeds should be acknowledged, but what we now consider a good deed, earlier generations simply called good upbringing.

I understand that this is not the lone issue in the recent shootings, but I do feel it is a part of it  and needs to be addressed. With each generation we are losing compassion and empathy for one another. We are becoming a greedy and covetous culture who glorifies the excess lifestyles we see on T.V. Proper manners and etiquette, which used to be commonplace, are not being taught anymore. What kind of examples are we setting? Is this the future we want for our children? For their children?

Do I think that returning to a stricter set of morals and values is the answer? I do, but just a small part of it. There is so much more involved that I can’t get into right now, but I truly feel that if we gave more and took less, if we helped one another, and showed courtesy and kindness, our country would be a better place. So I will continue to try to set the example I want my children to follow, and I hope for the sake of generations to come, that others will too. I’m just sayin’.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Puppy Love

We have a new addition to our family. His name is Oscar and he is our 9 week old Basset Hound puppy. I’m not sure what kind of crazy got in my head and convinced me that getting a puppy while I am recovering from surgery and we are still getting settled into our new home was the thing to do. But whatever it was, I’m glad it did... I think.

Don’t get me wrong, Oscar is the cutest little guy. With his big long ears and short little legs, it’s enough to make your heart melt. When he nuzzles up in your lap and falls into a deep puppy slumber, he is so adorable you just want to eat him up. Just when you think he can’t get any sweeter, he goes and chases after a ball. Watching him hop across the room on those little legs with ears a flopping, well that’s just my undoing. But all that cuteness is necessary. It’s the only thing keeping him around.

Underneath that adorable exterior is pure destruction. He gets into everything. No sock is safe in this house. Clean, dirty, still being worn... he doesn’t care. They all must be chewed. And it doesn’t stop with the socks. He eats shoes, furniture, hermit crab food. You name it, he has tried to eat it. He even tries to eat the other pets in the house. They do not like this one bit. I believe they are secretly plotting his demise. They are unaffected by his adorableness.

Fancy, the bird, seems to be his biggest hater. I have caught him twice now climbing down from his cage to bite the sleeping pup’s tail. Fancy is also my snitch. He loves to screech when he sees Oscar getting into something. Luie, our cat seems to be the least affected by him. When Oscar gets too annoying, he just gives him a bat on the snout and walks off to find a window to sit in.

It’s the two pugs that I think are most out of sorts over the puppy. They are older dogs (16 and 12) and don’t play much anymore. Of course that doesn’t deter Oscar from chasing them around the house and yard, nipping at their heels. Then they just sit there, enduring his play time looking at me like they want to take me out for bringing this disruption into their lives. They are not impressed at all.

All in all, Oscar is a good little guy. He’s feisty and rambunctious, but weren’t we all when we were young? If he makes it through the puppy phase, I know he will make a great addition to our family. If the bird doesn’t take him out first... I’m just sayin’.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Autumn Fun

Summer is quickly coming to an end. The days are growing shorter and the nights longer. The temperatures are returning to a tolerable level, while the evenings are getting chilly. And let us not forget the obvious sign of the season change, Halloween decor in all the stores. After all, it’s never too early to get a jump on things, right? We are quickly approaching the autumn equinox. The day of the year that officially marks the start of fall.

Traditionally, our ancestors celebrated this time as the final harvest. A time to gather as a community and make preparations for the coming winter. Though this may no longer be a necessity for survival, we can still do things to honor this beautiful time of year.

Try following the examples of those who came before us and gather. Start a food drive. Did your garden provide you with more than enough? Pass it on. Invite friends over for a feast and ask everyone to bring a non perishable donation. It’s a wonderful and fulfilling way to appreciate the abundance in your life.

Get back in touch with nature. The changing seasons are beautiful. Enjoy the weather and take a hike. Pry your children away from whatever electrical device they are connected to and delight in the artistry of Mother Nature.

Adore the apple. Find an orchard and go apple picking. It’s a fun way to spend the day with your family. Bob for apples, candy them, bake them, preserve them. Delight in the deliciousness of a crisp apple you picked yourself.

Count your blessings. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and though that’s the traditional time of year to give thanks, why wait? Life is a gift and it’s too precious to just be grateful for once a year at a designated time. Take a moment to reflect on the past year. I’m sure will will think of a few things you are appreciative of.

No matter how you chose to commemorate the coming season, remember to take some time for yourself. Soon the holidays will be here, and if your life is anywhere near as hectic as mine, that’s more than enough fodder for a whole different article. I’m just sayin’.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, step right up and catch a peek of the Amazing Juggling Jennifer! Watch as she balances all the issues in the daily life of a stay at home mom. She will astonish you as she piles more and more on. Husband, kids, health, home... You name it , she’s juggling it. Just when you think she is maxed out, she will shock you with how much more she tosses into the mix, and always with a smile on her face. I tell you what folks, this little lady has more on her plate than a hungry man at an all you can eat buffet, yet she never misses a beat! How does she do it?

Yes, this is me. I am the one who takes everything on. I spend my life stretched too thin, but somehow, I always seem to manage. To most normal people I’m sure this sounds like total chaos or  complete madness. It’s probably both, but that’s my life, and that is how I like it. I know no other way to be. That is until now. If you read last week’s article written by my dear friend Jessica, then you know I have been forcibly slowed down due to medical issues. To say I have slowed down isn’t quite accurate. I have come to a dead halt. Completely. I recently underwent surgery, and though recovery is going well, for an on the go person like me, this is torture! Not only has my daily activities stopped, but as I mentioned before, we are moving. So as I sat on my behind, I watched as everyone around me worked like mad to move our household having no hand in it at all. I wasn’t allowed to lift a finger. Some might think that is bliss, but for a control freak like me who has to be actively involved in everything, it has surely been one of Dante’s levels of Hell. A crueler fate I cannot imagine.

The move is mostly completed. I must say it went well, even without my help. Though the recovery is not going as quickly as I want, it is going as it should. It’s hard, but I realise that I need to temporarily hang up my title of Amazing Juggling Jennifer. I’m not doing much of anything right now, let alone juggling daily activities. But I know that it’s only temporary. I will be back, and I’ll be better than ever. So keep your eyes open for my next performance. My comeback is sure to be a showstopper. Just sayin’.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Teenager

My baby girl is growing up. Today was her first day of middle school. As I watched my youngest child walk through the doors of that big school, I knew it was a whole new world from here on out. Last year she was still a child still in elementary school. Now she preteen girl starting her journey into young womanhood. Where has the time gone? Where did my chubby little toddler with the sweet brown curls go? Well she is certainly no little toddler now. And the curls have long since been dyed, straightened and highlighted. And that’s just the start. If this last year is any indication of what her teen years hold, then this is going to be one wild ride.

Don’t get me wrong, my daughter is a doll. But I’ve noticed a change lately. Almost like a split personality. I believe I’ve been catching glimpses of the Teenager. One minute we will be strolling through the store, not a care in the world. Next thing you know, Baby Girl is gone and in her place is the Teenager. A moody, sullen creature best known for it’s emotional outbursts and lack of motivation. I knew this day would come. The day the Teenager in her would start to surface. Baby Girl is already showing signs of Drama, an unfortunate affliction that Teenagers can’t seem to shake. And it’s contagious, so when you find yourself in the presence of a Drama inflicted Teenager, wear a mask and wash your hands.

Lucky for us, Baby Girl is still in the early stages. The Teenager is not yet strong enough to show itself often. I realize though that it is only a matter of time. Typically, the Teenager manages to break through after a couple years in middle school. That’s when things can get real fun. There is no known cure or prevention of the Teenager. It just stops as quickly as it came on.. But the good news is that it doesn’t last forever. I’m just sayin’.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to School Scramble

People are shoulder to shoulder everywhere you look. There is barely room to breathe, let alone to maneuver around. The air is thick with heat, humidity and the various smells of the surrounding bodies. It’s hard to hear over the yelling. Everybody is frantically shouting to one another. We all know that it’s almost too late. We have waited too long and will now suffer because of it. So I accept my consequences and take a deep breath. I’m going in. No, this is not a scene from some sci-fi end-of-the-world disaster movie. Not even close. This particular scenario is being played out all over the country in local Walmarts everywhere. It’s the dreaded last minute back to school scramble.

The back to school scramble is a competition in which procrastinating parents across the nation compete against all odds to gather the required school supplies on each of their children’s lists. The goal is to meet all of the needs of all school going kids in your household without substitutions or delays, and all the purchases must be done at one location. That itself is a nearly impossible feat. But add to that the fact that you have waited until literally the last day, and the pickings are slim.

Though I hadn’t planned on it, I found myself competing again this year. Maybe it was some residual olympic spirit, or maybe I just wanted a challenge, but with me being an old pro at the scramble, I decided to go for the gold and wait until the last day. I was feeling good about this year. Though it was a harder skill level, I was well prepared and confident in my abilities. I am pleased to say, that after battling shelf stocking clerks, going head  to head with other postponing progenitors and ravaging already devastated aisles, I made it through. Not only did I survive the scramble, but I got all the items on my list but one. It may not get me the gold, but I’m sure it’s at least worth a solid silver. Next year I’m going all the way. And I’m not leaving without the colored pencils. I’m just sayin’.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Time is Our Relative

As a society, we count on the fact that time is absolute. Our lives revolve around the truth that there is aways 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours a day and so on and so forth. That is a definite. It never changes... or does it? While increments of time is absolute, time itself is actually relative.

Did you ever want something you had to wait for? What about some fun or exciting event you were anticipating? When the end result is a good thing, something you are looking forward to, time seems to slow down. And the more you want to get to that moment, the slower time creeps by. Remember being a kid and knowing you had to get to sleep because whatever was going on the next day was surely going to be the best day of your life? I don’t know about you, but those were always the longest, most sleep deprived hours ever. Pure torture. Of course I would always fall asleep in the wee hours of the morning mere minutes before my alarm would go off. That hour of much needed sleep always went by so fast.

That brings me to the next representation of time’s relativity... The time speed up. Where time seems to drag on when you are wishing it would go quick, quite the opposite is also true. Have you noticed that the more you want to put something off, the sooner its time comes? And when you are in a hurry, is it just me or do the minutes tick by faster and faster? Sometimes I swear that minute hand has wings. And it’s always when I don’t have a second to spare. Take a trip to the doctor for example. The time it takes to drive there speeds by, especially if you are late. But once you walk through the door, boom, time warp. The 30 second minutes you were just experiencing on the way there have now slowed to almost a snail’s pace. Each minute must be at least twice as long as normal. There you sit, surrounded by old magazines with missing pages and a few copies of Highlights. If that’s not an automatic time slower, I don’t know what is.

Einstein said it best, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity.” I’m just sayin’.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cardboard Rectangles of Doom

Boxes, boxes, boxes... I am surrounded. They are everywhere I look. Too bad they aren’t already filled. Some of them aren’t even put together. But full or not, I am encompassed by them none the less. To go along with the scores of boxes, in various stages of completion, are our belongings. Semi organized piles of things we have accumulated over the years, waiting to be sifted through and either stuffed into one of these infernal boxes or discarded. And we can’t forget the chaos. Complete and utter chaos. As you may have guessed, we are moving.

They say there is an art to packing a box to move. I say Michelangelo has nothing to worry about. Obviously I am no artist. So I gather boxes from various stores, find all the newspapers I never got around to recycling, and get to the store to buy packing tape and Sharpies to label things. It should be smooth sailing from there, right? Famous last words.

I carefully gathered my knick knacks from my living room and set out to wrap them for packing. Since we have pets, this in itself can be a challenge. The minute I start to place stuff on the floor, every pet, including the bird, wants to inspect the new items in their domain. After all, these things have never been there before therefore they must be sniffed. So I shoo the dogs, cat, and yes, the bird away from my knick knacks and sit down on the floor to wrap. Now, I am almost 40 years old so I don’t sit on the floor often. That act alone gets the dogs excited. Me sitting on the floor must mean it is extreme petting time. Why else would I be down there with them? Once again I corral my herd away from my work area and set to my chore. As I reach for my first newspaper I noticed (thankfully it was sooner than later) that my bird had taken full advantage of the paper I had set just outside of his cage. At least he knew where to go.

Finally I got the beasts out of the way and set to work. The packing went well and I was quickly on my way to finishing the living room. Just I was reaching for the Sharpies to label the boxes (curse those boxes) and patting myself on the back for a job well done, I saw it. There, sitting next to the markers, silently mocking me and my packing skills, was the packing tape. I had forgotten to close and seal the bottoms of my boxes. Did I mention how much I hate those boxes?

After unloading, taping up and reloading the boxes, I finally got my living room packed. It was time to put them in the spare room with the other, you guessed it, boxes that we had already packed up. As I was trying to organize them by room, I noticed some had been packed and sealed without being labeled. I guess we will have some surprises when we unpack too. In the mean time, here I sit, surrounded by boxes. They are everywhere I look. Too bad they aren’t already filled. I’m just sayin’.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I was sitting at my computer today looking through the headlines and not surprisingly I was inundated with stories about the tragedy in Colorado. I have been following the news stories about the shooting since it happened, feeling helpless and wishing there was something I could do. Then I came across a story about two of the families who lost a loved one. A story about their desire that the media stop using the gunman’s name and turn the focus to the victims.

After learning of these requests, I knew then that I can do something. I can tell you about the victims and I will do it without naming the cowardly gunman. I won’t give him that power. I won’t even give him power by writing about the loss of life. I will empower the victims and their families by writing about how they lived.

Jonathan Blunk was a 26 year old husband and father. He served in the Navy and did three tours in both the North Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Jonathan was a certified firefighter and EMT. He had goals for th the future of re-inlisting and becoming a Navy SEAL.

AJ, Alexander J. Boik, was 18. He was someone who loved to make others laugh. He recently graduated from Gateway High School where he was in orchestra and played baseball. He had a lovely girlfriend whom people expected him to marry some day.

Jesse Childress worked as a cyber-systems operator for the Air Force. He was 29 years old. His friends say was a fun guy to be with. Someone who liked to laugh and had a positive outlook. He was a good friend, and good to have on the bowling team.

At 51, Gordon Cowden was a dedicated family man. Though he lived in Colorado, his family describes him as a “true Texas gentleman’’. He had a wonderful sense of humor, loved travel and the outdoors, and was a business owner.

Jessica Ghawi, who also went by the last name Redfield, was a hardworking, ambitious 24 year old young woman who was pursuing her dream to be in sports journalism. She lived life to the fullest with her vivacious personality.

27 year old John Larimer was the youngest of five siblings who grew up in a suburb of Chicago, Ill. He joined the Navy just over a year ago and was a cryptologic technician where his.  resourcefulness, good character and curiosity made him a good fit in his job.

Matt McQuinn was 27. He was an Ohio native who worked at Target with his girlfriend. They both recently transferred to Aurora. He was a great, outgoing person who put others before himself.

Green Bay Packers fan, Micayla Medek was an independent 23 year old who loved going out with her friends. She worked at Subway and was taking juggling classes at a local community college.

Little Veronica Moser-Sullivan was just 6 years old. She had sweet, lovable personality and brought joy to all who knew her. She had just learned to swim, and was the center of her parent’s world.

Alex Sullivan was celebrating his 27th birthday as well as his first wedding anniversary. He was an avid movie fan and comic book geek, who loved the Mets. He was known as a gentle giant who always had a smile on his face and gave great hugs.

Alexander Teves was 24. He had a passion for life. He competed in Tough Mudder competitions, had a master’s degree  in counseling psychology and interned at a school with special needs children. He was a loyal friend and fun loving guy.

32 year old Rebecca Wingo was a vibrant mother of two. She was a “loving, giving, brilliant soul”. After working in the Air Force for 11 years, she was going back to school to work with foster children who were getting older and ready to age out of the system.

Though it may not be much, I feel I have done a small part in taking power away from a person that deserves none. Too often we sensationalize the perpetrator while the victims get lost in the media hype. I for one, will not give him that privilege. I’m just sayin’.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zombie Preparedness103: The Long Haul

So we’ve made it, uninfected, through the initial outbreak of the zombie virus. We have survived the fall of civilization as we know it. In the days, weeks, or maybe even months that followed we lost. We lost our friends and families, our jobs, we lost our whole lives. So what now, you ask? It’s time now to hang on, hunker down and strap yourself in. This is the long haul, and I’m sure it will be one heck of a ride.

In order to continue to carry on in a post apocalyptic wasteland filled with the walking dead, you’re going to need these three main things: a group, a game plan and a habitat. I know it’s going to take a lot more than just this to persevere, but these elements are your survival foundation. Without these blocks in place and strong, well, let’s just say the odds may not be in your favor.

It’s hard to say which is needed first, a group or a game plan. It’s like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. Both are equally important and both need the other to really work well. So, for the sake of argument, let’s say we are gathering our group first. Hopefully at this point you will still have some friends and family left. Your group should be able to get along, and have the same set of goals and values. It is never good when you have to fight one another as well as the zoms. The size of your group is also important. You don’t want to be so large that it is hard to travel and keep up with supplies, but you don’t want to be so small you are dwindled down to nothing after flesh eating walkers have picked off a few here and there.

On to the game plan. The game plan is your structure. The skeleton of your survival foundation. The plan your posse puts into place is what will help guide you through the dark days ahead as well as provide some security. In your game plan is where you will map out a blueprint for survival, assign tasks and other day to day doings, and hopefully establish a code of conduct. The main reason your group and game plan go hand in hand, is that all must agree to insure that things run smoothly.  

Finally you and your entourage will need a place to call home. Your habitat, compound, home base, whatever you want to call it, is important. Without a semi-secure abode to live in, your days will be pretty much numbered. Location and defendability are your two main concerns. Staying out of the main cities is pretty much common sense. Though a city offers a seemingly endless amount of supplies, you must keep in mind, what was once populated in people is now occupied with zombies. A less urban setting such as a farm near a small town with a few stores and a hospital or pharmacy is ideal.

So there you have it folks, my Zompocalypse Survival Study Guide. With any luck, we will never need it, but just in case we do, I hope to see you on the other side.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Zombie Preparedness 102: Know Your Ememy

Last week I wrote about preparing a survival kit to keep handy in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Though a zompocalypse  prep kit is a good start, it will only get you so far. Sure, supplies are necessary, but knowledge is one of your most important tools. After all, as Chinese general Sun Tzu said, “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

So what, exactly is a Zombie? In its broadest sense a zombie is typically a reanimated body who, presumably through death, has lost their sense of identity and self awareness. The zombie’s soul driving desire is the destruction and consumption of any human around regardless of the circumstance or threat to their self. Now that we know what a zombie is, we need to know what type of zombie we have on our hands. Again, knowledge is our tool. We can’t successfully fight off a gang of undead if we are not adequately informed. Zombies tend to fall into three general categories: Supernatural Zombies, Generic Zombies and Zombies of Scientific Origin.

Supernatural or Voodoo zombies have been around the longest and are actually based on religious beliefs. In Haiti and parts of Africa, it is believed the a powerful spell can be placed on a person so that their deceased body is brought back and controlled by the spell caster. These zombies were then used as slave labor or occasionally for acts or revenge. These are not your typical flesh eating zombies. Think more along the lines of Weekend at Bernie’s. The main way to annihilate one of these is to get rid of the person controlling the vessel. But really, these are not what we will be dealing with in a zompocalypse.

Next is the Generic Zombie. The old school Hollywood variety. These zombies are the awkward and slow moving moaners and groaners you see in movies like Night of the Living Dead. They guys will go after anything that moves or makes noise and they tend to travel in mobs. Generic Zombies are typically the result of a virus that brings them back from the dead and is spread to the living via a bite. Though there is really no functioning  brain activity, severing the brain from the rest of the body is the way to dispatch these fellows.

Finally we have the Zombies of Scientific Origin. I find these to be the most frightening of the three, and in my opinion, the ones we will see if there is ever a zompocalypse. These zoms start from a virus caused  by a contaminant or biochemical warfare. They are quicker, stronger and have more brain function than their Generic and Supernatural cousins. Though they are taken out the same as the Generic, this virus is thought to be spread through bodily fluids as well as a bite. They also move in groups and, being higher up on the zombie evolutionary charts, are much more of a threat.

So now that you know your enemy, this should help you if we find ourselves facing a zombie attack. You will need to know more than just these basics to make it through for the long haul and come out alive, but we’ll save that for next time. I’m just saying’.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Zombie Preparedness 101: The Essentials

I’ve seen the movies and T.V. shows. I have been watching the news. I know signs when I see them, and let’s face it people, the writing is on the walls. The zombie apocalypse is coming and it’s nipping at our heels... so to speak. Though the government and the CDC both deny the existence of any impending doom in the form of reanimated flesh eating corpses, I for one am not willing to take any chances. I’m not going to go all Y2K crazy about this, but a small survival kit can be useful to have around for many reasons, not just for enduring an zombie mob.

I’m sure I could go on for hours on what you would need to successfully survive an undead armageddon, but I won’t. The purpose here is to help you gather what you and your loved ones would need to make it through the first couple of days. After that, well you are on your own. So that being said, here’s some items you might want to have stashed away in a safe, easy to get to place. It never hurts to be ready, and these things are important to have ready for any kind of disaster or emergency.

  • Water: You will need at least one gallon of water per person per day for no less than three days. That should be enough to cover both drinking and sanitation.
  • Non perishable food. Again, enough for three or more days.
  • A can opener for the food.
  • A first aid kit.
  • A flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties. This is for personal sanitation uses.
  • Some way to make a fire, like matches in a waterproof container.
  • A whistle to signal for help.
  • Local maps.
  • A weapon of some kind. You will need it for fighting off the zoms after all, right?

So take the time this year and get a survival kit put together if you don’t already have one. After all, whether it’s a natural disaster or a real zombie apocalypse you can never be too prepared to take on the end of the world. I’m just sayin’.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Independence Day

My family and I love Independance Day. What’s not to love about it? We start the day with parades, move on to a cookout with the fam, and cap it off with an evening of fireworks. A good wholesome day of fun. It is the celebration of the birth of our country. The day the Declaration of Independence, one of our nation’s most cherished symbols of liberty, was adopted. My husband and I, as well as both of our families, are very patriotic. We take great pride in our nation, and July 4th is my day to go overboard!

As I said, in this house we start off with a parade. Usually we like to find the biggest around. If we fail to find a larger one elsewhere, we always have the old standby, a pretty sizable and popular parade a few towns over that my husband’s family has been going to for years. We like it not just because of the size but also the enthusiasm of the crowd. Let’s not forget the cannons they fire and the beautiful steam calliope that marks the end as well.

After the parade is the family cookout at my mother’s house. There we enjoy good friends, good food and great conversation. There is always too much food, and we always eat way more than we should... always. But it’s a holiday, we are surrounded by our loved ones, and the sun is usually shining, so what else are we supposed to do. We eat, we celebrate, we honor our country.

When the noise from the parade is quieted and the cookout has been cleared away, there is only one part of the day’s festivities that remain, the fireworks. The pièce de résistance if you will. The parade is fun, the cookout with my family is entertaining as well, but for me, it’s the town fireworks that are my favorite. I love the music, the vendors, all of it. I love seeing all the flags and the red, white and blue everyone is wearing. I always get choked up when a hush falls over the crowd and the Pledge of Allegiance is said by all. I love my country. And a day of fun, food and family to celebrate it with, well it doesn’t get much better than that. I’m just sayin’.

Summer Safety

Summer is officially upon us. Families are vacationing, teens are sunbathing and moms everywhere are kicking their kids out of the house, telling them to enjoy the fresh air. Everywhere you go, people are out and about, mowing their lawns and tending their gardens. Yes, it is summertime, but what we need to remember is that along with all the sunshine and fresh air comes rising temperatures. While a day at the beach or pool is great, it can turn dangerous for people who are not prepared.

According to the CDC’s website heat exposure has killed 8,015 in the U.S. from 1979 to 2003. That averages to about 334 people a year. Summer comes every year, and every year we are overwhelmed with a plethora of information on heat safety. More and more places offer free water and cooling stations. Parks and cities are adding water fountain play areas. So why are so many people still getting sick and dying from the heat? Natural selection maybe? Whatever the cause, here’s a few tips from me on keeping a cool head during the hot days to come.

The most effective defense against heat is air conditioning. If you have air and are able to, stay inside. At least until it is not so sweltering outside. I know not everyone has the option of being in a nicely air conditioned home, so if you find yourself out and about on a scorching hot afternoon, try to stay smart.

  • Always keep hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids. Energy drinks are good too as they help replenish salt and other important minerals.
  • Wear the right clothing. Wear lightweight loose fitting clothing. All natural fibers, especially cotton are the best. They allow the heat to dissipate and the moisture passes through.
  • Pace yourself. Keep your activity level down, especially during peak hours. If you are working, try to take breaks.

So watch yourself this summer. And watch out for those around you too. Use your common sense and try not to fall prey to Mother Nature’s skimming of the gene pool. I’m just sayin’.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Man's Best Freind

This last week has been a very hard one for our family. Glen, one of our beloved pugs got suddenly and severely ill. Unfortunately it was not something he has able to recover from, and we had to let him go. Though it was not an easy choice, it was the humane one. He became part of our family as a hyper loving pup of about a  year old. Now, six years later, it’s hard to believe he is gone. But the happiness and love he brought into our lives will never be forgotten.

The joys of having a dog in your life are countless. Though there are drawbacks as well, for me and every other dog lover, the pros far outweigh the cons. I have owned lots of different kinds of pets. From dogs and cats to snakes and rats, I am an animal lover through and through. But nothing can beat the feeling of being loved by a dog. They are called man’s best friend for a reason. Dogs are loyal and trusting. The love they give to you is unconditional and all encompassing. If you want to feel special, love a dog. Yes, they shed. And yes, there most definitely will be accidents now and then, but when you are down and feeling like the whole world is out to get you, a dog will always be on your side. An unwavering companion through the good times and bad. A dog will weather any storm with you, comfort you when you are hurting, and will be right by your side when you are sick. They will forgive all your bad moods with nothing more than a good scratch behind the ears.

I truly believe dogs are angels, and if we are lucky enough, we get the chance to share our lives with them. Glen was a good boy. He did his job, and brightened our lives. Though seven years seems far too short, I am grateful for every day we had with him. When he wandered out of those woods and into our lives, we were blessed. Thank you Glen, you were a very good dog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Forgiveness is divine

To err is human; to forgive is divine. At least that’s what poet Alexander Pope said, and I happen to agree with him. He was a smart man indeed. We all make mistakes. We have all hurt someone at one time or another. And we, in turn, have all been hurt. I do not know anyone who has not been wounded by another’s words or actions. It is inevitable. We are all human. But to overcome that, and lay aside one’s pain, resentment and anger is transcendent. Forgiveness is divine.

Forgiveness is a conscious choice, a decision to purge the feelings of resentment. To let go of the desire for revenge. Some people mistake forgiveness as weakness, or being wimpy. A pushover who won’t stand up for themselves. Actually, I find the opposite to be true. Forgiveness takes strength and courage. You have to have a willingness to surrender, a desire for closure. Forgiving someone does not justify or minimize the other person’s actions. It does not make them any less accountable for their deeds. You can forgive the person without forgiving the act. Forgiveness just means you are ready to let go of the bitterness and make room for compassion and kindness. It allows a person to heal in both body and soul. With forgiveness, we can find peace and hope.

Forgiveness may be divine, but it sure as heck isn’t easy. It is after all, a basic human instinct not to forgive. If we forgive, we may be hurt again. So we hang on to these feelings of animosity as a way to keep our guard up. But life is short, and we only get one. A wise woman once said to live your life to the fullest and forgive those who are wrong because tomorrow isn't promised to us. We get one shot in life so don’t let anger or pride ruin your chance at happiness.
I’m just sayin’.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The G.S.A. of 2012

Summer is here. The days are longer, people are grilling outside and the sound of tornado sirens fill the air. Swimmers and sunbathers flock to the beaches while kids are playing in sprinklers, all trying to find relief from the heat. And let’s not forget my personal favorite summer ritual, trying not to scratch mosquito bites on my already sunburned body. All this and a house full of bored kids for two whole months. Oh, the joys of summer.

My husband and I have been thinking about a weekend getaway. We want to expand our horizons to include new places and experiences. To gather new memories we can cherish forever. After all, nothing puts the fun in dysfunctional quite like a family vacation. So my dearly beloved and I are going to try to fit in a camping trip. I want to try teepee camping. He would like to go canoeing. We want to get away from all the comforts of home, during the hottest, buggiest time of the year... With the kids. Well, sound like more fun than one family should be allowed to have. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against camping and the outdoors. It’s just that we have not been camping since our eleven year old was a baby. We have no equipment and even less experience. You would be hard pressed to find a more ill-equipped family. But we still want to go. We want to look back and say, “Hey, we went there. we did that.”

I think we can make it official. I believe after seventeen years of being parents, we have finally lost our minds. I don’t know of any other reason either one of us would suggest something like this, let alone really consider it. But not only are we considering it, I am going  to make it happen. It’s been said that insanity is hereditary; you can get it from your children. Well, if we really go through with the Great Summer Adventure (or G.S.A.) of 2012, as I am referring to this event from here on out, then we are truly insane. I’m sure it will be a blast! I’m just sayin’.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My family and I went out of town this weekend. My youngest cousin got married and we couldn’t be happier. I come from a small close-knit family, and not having any siblings, my cousins are important to me. I am the oldest and have enjoyed watching the three of them, as well as myself, grow up. Though I wish we all lived closer, I always enjoy the times we get to see one another, and know that there is always a special bond there.

Along with the packing and preparation a mom has to do before any trip, I have also done quite a bit of reflecting. Thinking about how far the four of us have come, and contemplating where our lives will take us. Josh, my cousin, has grown up to be an amazing young man. He is the type of man a mother hopes to see their son become. He deserves to have every dream for the future come true, and I know he will make an amazing husband and father.

With that being said, I would like to offer some advice. Though I am no expert on the subject, I have managed to stay married to my husband for 13 years, and can honestly say that they have been the best, most fulfilling years of my life. So Josh, I hope you take these pearls of wisdom that I offer, and know that they come from the heart, and that I wish the two of you nothing but joy.

Through the years I have learned that happiness is easy to achieve when your life is going smoothly. It’s when times are hard that you will need to remember to love, support  and enjoy each other. Communication. I can’t stress it enough. Learn to listen with your whole being, not just your ears. Not all speaking is done with words. But the most important advice I can give, what I believe is the key to my marital bliss, is affirmation. Be sure to always say thank you and remind each other how much you love one another every day.It’s the little things like that mean a lot. Fights happen and hurtful things get said, but a strong foundation built on love and mutual respect will help you weather any storm. Not matter what, enjoy your family. Love, and let yourself be loved, there is no better feeling in the world. I’m just sayin’.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Some Gave All...

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. A time for families to grill out and have fun in the sun. In my neck of the woods, in Northwest Indiana where it’s not warm all year round, it means the official opening of beaches and public pools. And let's not forget the Monday off. Though the actual date of Memorial Day is May 30th, the powers that be decided to turn it into a three-day holiday weekend with the National Holiday Act of 1971. But how many Americans truly focus on the actual holiday? How many even know the real reason for it? Not enough in my opinion.

Memorial Day was meant to be special day. One set aside to remember, mourn and pay respect to the soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice ensuring our freedoms. Its purpose is to honor those who lost their lives defending this country and its citizens. Yet year after year, the true reason slips further into the background. Instead, we use it as a reason to get together for a long weekend of grilling, drinking and partying and to celebrate the beginning of summer. When did this happen? And why? Why is it that each passing generation seems to care less and have less pride in our country?

I know we are in a recession. I realize our nation is having some major growing pains right now. But we still live in America, the greatest country in the world, and I for one am proud. We all should be proud. We are lucky enough to live in a country where we have as many rights as we do. And we should be grateful to the soldiers who fought for those freedoms. We need to do more to show our thankfulness to their families for their sacrifices as well.

Back in the 90’s Billy Ray Cyrus sang a song that sums up what I am trying to say perfectly. “Love your country and live with pride and don’t forget those who died. America can’t you see, all gave some and some gave all. Some stood through for the red, white and blue and some had to fall. So if you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall, some gave all.”

We need to work on bringing the true meaning of this holiday back. While we are enjoying our picnics and partying, let us take some time to talk to our kids about what we have thanks to these fallen soldiers. Let’s participate in a National Moment of Remembrance where, on May 30th at 3pm your local time, everyone pauses and and has a moment of silence for those who died. And we need to have pride. Pride in our country and our soldiers who were willing to give all to protect us. I’m just sayin’.

Monday, May 14, 2012

An Ode to Mom

As Mother’s Day nears I, and I’m sure most of you, think about my Mother and all she has done for me. All the sacrifices and sleepless nights. All because she loves me. Because she is a Mother. Don’t get me wrong, I think about her all the time, no matter what time of year it is. I am fortunate enough to have an amazing relationship with my Mom. We live close, see each other often, and talk on the phone at least once a day. She is my best friend as well as my closest confidant. She is my Mother after all. But Mother’s Day is different. It is a special day. One day of the year set aside to honor the women who gave us life. To show our gratitude for the love as well as the lessons, though some were hard learned. So this is for you Mom,. My way of making sure you know just how amazing you truly are. Happy Mother’s Day.

My Mom always tells me how proud she is of me. She lets me know time and time again what a strong, caring, intelligent and witty woman I have grown up to be. Well... All I can say about that is that I am a product of my environment. You set a wonderful example. You showed me the importance of believing in and standing up for your beliefs.Through you I learned how to be strong and roll with the punches. You taught me kindness and generosity,  how rewarding helping others is. And you instilled in me a sense of humor. You showed me it is ok to laugh at yourself. Life is too short and hard to take so seriously. It’s not like anyone gets out alive in the the end, right?

Words alone cannot convey the love and respect I have for my Mother. She is everything to me as well as everything I am. I found a quote by an American poet, Sharon Doubaigo, that I feel perfectly expresses my sentiments to my Mom. “My Mother is a poem I’ll never be able to write, though everything I write is a poem to my Mother.” So make sure you let your Mother know how appreciated she is. Not just on Mother’s Day, but every chance you get. After all... she deserves it for putting up with you. I’m just sayin’.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The secrets we keep...

A secret is defined as something that is kept from the knowledge of others or shared only confidentially with a few. We all have them. We all hear them. And we all share them. Some are small, insignificant even. Others are so big that if ever told, the effects would be tremendous. I myself am the keeper of quite a few. Some of which are mine, and some belong to others. Some of those secrets I have never told to another soul. I have kept them tucked away in my vault. Another skeleton added to my closet. Others, for one reason or another, I have told.

Secrets are a burden. The gravity of keeping something quiet, hidden from everyone else, well that can weigh a body down. In my experience, the bigger the secret, the more likely it is to get out. Benjamin Franklin once said that three could keep a secret, if two of them are dead. I know first hand how hefty the task of keeping a secret can be. I also know the terror of having a secret exposed, and the relief that comes, mixed with the fear, when the weight is lifted.

Not all secrets are bad. We teach our children the difference between good and bad secrets. We tell them that good secrets are ok to keep, but we must share the bad ones. Why then, do we as adults not follow our own advice? We tend to sit on the bad ones. We hide them and let them fester like a cancer, eating away at us from the inside. We wear these secrets like old, ill fitting clothes that, for whatever reason,we refuse to let go of.

In my younger years I had secrets. Awful ones that I believed would ruin lives, mine as well as others, if they were told. And they did get told, as secrets most often do. It was hard for awhile. Lives were changed. But I was relieved also. I felt like I could breathe deeply for the first time ever. Since then experience and age has taught me that just like we teach our children, you shouldn’t keep bad secrets. I never want to wear those clothes again. I’m not saying I run out and tell every little tidbit of information that comes my way, but I have learned when something is too big and too important not to tell. I recently read a book, “Water for Elephants” which was an amazing read by the way, and in it was a line that stuck with me... “With a secret like that,at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.” I’m just sayin’.

Friday, April 27, 2012


     This article contains the actual conversation the teen girls had on facebook. It's worse than I thought. Quite disturbing. If this were written about my child, I would be terrified! This makes me think I need to again go over what is appropriate facebook conversation and what is not with my daughter.

Girl's parents say Facebook comments scared daughter : Griffith News

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Facebook, teenagers and death threats... Oh my!

    I was reading an article in my local paper about three 8th grade girls who had a conversation on facebook with one another (I posted a link to the article below). It seems it started out as just talking about things that annoyed them and then moved on to joking about who they would kill, if it wasn't illegal of course. The problem arose when a parent was alerted to this very public conversation and brought it to the school's attention. The young ladies were then expelled from the school.

     The ACLU is now suing the school for violating their First Amendment rights to free speech. Now, I consider myself to be a very liberal person. I believe that every human being has the right to speech, and I will fight tooth and nail for our constitutional rights to be upheld. But I have a problem with my tax money being spent to defend a handful of girls who did not have enough sense to make what was surely an innocent conversation, private. Let's face it, The world we live in today is completely different than the world our forefathers lived in when the Constitution was written.

    I'm not saying that what these girls did was awful. And I feel expulsion is too drastic, especially if these girls are not the type to get into trouble in the first place. But I do think that this is not the type of conversation that should be happening in a public forum. I have read the article and understand that this conversation was held on their status updates and supposedly only "friends" could see it, but since a parent read it and reported it, obviously that was not the case. The problem with facebook is that ultimately, it is not private. Unless it is sent in a private message, it is out there for the whole internet to see.

This is a lesson we need to teach our children. It is important that they learn that once typed and posted on the internet, they are not your private thoughts anymore. And right or wrong we are judged by what we put out there for others to see. Schools, judges, even prospective employers look at sites like facebook when making decisions, and it's important that our kids understand that. Yes, we have the freedom to express ourselves, but they need to understand the consequences of over expressing ourselves. That goes for adults too.

So I guess what I am saying is that while I think the punishment was too harsh for what was more than likely an innocent conversation among friends, by posting it on facebook, it became so much more. In a world where school violence and bullying are so rampant, lines have got to be drawn. Kids today have got to learn that for every action, there is a reaction. And though they may not have understood that this was wrong, ignorance is never an excuse. Let's face it, facebook is not a synonym for private. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

That is the last line in Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not taken. It can be interpreted as being about the author’s life and his choices, including the decision to pursue poetry. This is probably my favorite poem. It always makes me think about my path in life and the roads I have taken, and how have these choices dictated my journey?
Recent events in my life have made me question thoroughfare. Where would I be in my pilgrimage if I had chosen differently? But then I realized... my road is still being travelled. I am a long way off from my final destination, with many more forks in the road map of my life.

So why am I sitting here, looking back at the places I have been? Why am I wasting time and energy better used to forge on? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I am ready to continue now. The time for reflection is over and I need to move on. I will use my moral compass as a guide and stay true to myself. That is the best way I know to make sure I reach the end of my odyssey safely and in one piece. Just sayin’.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Back in the day...

Technology today is amazing and the rate at which it advances will make your head spin. At least it does mine. I have always been able to keep up with the latest in technology, but these last couple of years has been a struggle. It seems like everytime I get used to a new device or operating system, a newer, better version is out, and once again, I am behind. I like to think that things are changing too quickly for me to keep up and has nothing to do with the fact that I am getting older and am just having trouble understanding.

I remember my first computer. It was a Texas Instruments. It was nothing more than a keyboard that you hooked up to a TV set. That was so long ago, and technology was going at a  snail’s pace compared to the speed of today. It was a good ten years later, at least, that the personal computer was no longer a luxury item. Then came the Word Wide Web. The “information super highway”. A plethora of information at our finger tips... as long as you didn’t mind the time it took to just get connected. And heaven forbid someone call and boot you off.

Let’s go back even further, my Mom can remember going to her neighbor’s house as a child to watch “The Wizard of Oz” on their brand new, and very expensive color TV set. When my Grandmother was a kid, they still had outhouses and ice boxes instead of refrigerators. I used to get frustrated when my Grandmother would call and ask for help with her computer until one day when I really took the time to think about all of the changes in the world that she has lived through and adapted to. To go from no indoor plumbing to sending emails and browsing the web, all I can say is wow, that is quite impressive. So if she could manage to keep up at a decent pace with technology, I can too. I’m just sayin’.