Monday, June 30, 2014

Like a Girl - and Proud of It.

“You run like a girl.  You hit like a girl. You fight like a girl.”

The appropriate response to any of these statements is simply, “thank you.” Though comments like these are sometimes said tauntingly, there is no insult in being told you do something “like a girl.”  Just watch Missy Franklin swim a race or Abby Wambach play soccer if you doubt this.

The Proctor and Gamble owned “Always” brand has launched a campaign to change this way of thinking.  They recently produced a video interviewing young girls about what it means to do some things “like a girl.” I saw this video last week for the first time when my daughter shared it on Facebook, and it brings tears to my eyes each time I watch it.  I hope every girl everywhere gets a chance to see it.  I hope you watch it here now.  It is worth your time.



My daughter joined a swim team when she was seven years old and now swims competitively in college.  Throughout middle school, most of her classmates had never seen her swim. Some of the boys would joke with her that swimming wasn’t very hard.  Their eighth grade graduation celebration was at a pool. Several boys challenged my daughter to a race, thinking they could easily beat her.  A few of the smarter ones realized, when they saw her enter the pool in her suit, cap and goggles that perhaps they were no match for her - and backed down.  The one who decided to race her didn't stand a chance.   They all learned something that day.

The ridiculous stereotype that has been associated with “like a girl” is being challenged and changed by girls everywhere.  I know, because my daughter is one of them.  So, if someone tells you that you do something “like a girl,” just take the advice of the girl in the blue dress in the video: “Keep doing it, it’s working.”


My daughter is proud to do everything just #Like a Girl 

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog.  Check them out!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

Celebrating the 100th Post On This Blog Today!

100

One hundred is a significant number.  For example:
People who celebrate their 100th birthday receive recognition on Good Morning America.
The metric system and our currency are both based on increments of 100.
We talk about “going 100 miles an hour.”
We often strive for 100% of something.
This is the 100th post I have written for this blog, since it began 106 days ago.

I feel like I should throw a party.
Or something.

The 100th day of school is celebrated with activities and parties.  (I once even wrote some ideas of how to do that.)  But - the 100th post on a blog?  I'm not sure of the right way to celebrate! 

So, I guess I will just make a comment about it here, spend some time figuring out why some of my 100 posts were better than others, and feel grateful for all the good things I've discovered about blogging.

Then, I will write post number 101!

Three months ago, 100 posts seemed like a lot.  Now it feels like I am just getting started. 

Thank you for reading and commenting, whether this is your first visit to my website or you have been a loyal reader all along. I hope you visit often and follow this blog - either by email, on Google+, Bloglovin, Facebook, or in your RSS feed. (You will find lots of easy options on the sidebar). 

Like my peony bush, with buds just getting ready to bloom, I am looking forward to this blog continuing to grow and hopefully getting better every day!

I'm looking forward to seeing these buds and my blog continue to bloom.

Have you read many of my posts? Do you have a favorite?


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sometimes It Takes a Little Fairy Dust

This story was inspired by the prompt “Giggles and Fairy Wings” from the “Words for Wednesday Challenge” this week. 
Fairy wings can be useful things

While Nancy was adjusting the drip rate of the IV, she looked down and noticed the contents of the medicine cup on her patient's bedside table.  It contained a small, somewhat bloody tooth.

"What have we here?" she exclaimed, looking down at Amanda's wan little face.

"It's my tooth.  I lost it when that new nurse was helping me brush my teeth this morning.  She said I had to save it to show my mom."

"Let me see," said Nancy.  She bent down and examined the gaping hole in Amanda's mouth, which she obediently opened.  Catching a whiff of toothpaste on Amanda's breath, she made note to compliment the nursing student on her empathic emphasis of this milestone.

"That's worth at least 50 cents from the tooth fairy.  You will need to put it under your pillow tonight," said Nancy.

Nancy rinsed the tooth and put it in the clean medicine cup she had just used to bring Amanda her pain pill. She decided she would leave the night nurse some money to put under Amanda's pillow. She thought briefly of how excited her six-year old daughter Katie had been when she lost her first tooth.  Katie was the same age as Amanda, but they were very different.  Katie seemed to have the giggles all day long, yet it was rare that Amanda even smiled.

"I don't believe in fairies.  If there was that kind of magic, then a fairy would have helped to make me well." Amanda said dejectedly.

"Oh honey, you are getting better.  It is just taking a while."  Nancy leaned down again, this time to give Amanda a hug. Amanda had been ill for several years, in and out of the hospital, sometimes for extended lengths of stay.  She was well known by all the nurses, and they all cared a lot about her. She was far too solemn for her age, but rarely complained.

While Nancy was assisting with a chest tube insertion later that day, she was still thinking about Amanda and suddenly she had an idea. During a rare quiet moment, while most of the other nurses were in the charting area, she told them about it. Most of them were immediately agreeable, although John pretended he needed some convincing.

"It's bad enough that I had to break gender stereo-types to be a nurse.  Now you want me to wear fairy wings?"  Well, okay - if you think we can make Amanda laugh - - but only when I am in her room."

Jennifer spoke up, "Housekeeping isn't going to like having to clean up glitter - whether it is fairy dust or not!"

That gave Nancy another idea.  At first, her plan had just involved all the nurses wearing fairy wings the next day. They were helping Amanda get better - they could be the fairies she had wished for!  But then she realized, it didn't have to be just nurses.

"We will include housekeeping in this.  I will make extra fairy wings and leave them outside of Amanda's door with a sign, inviting everyone who goes in to put them on - housekeeping, doctors, medical students, respiratory therapists, lab technicians and everyone who visits her room tomorrow!"

On the way home, Nancy purchased wire and some netting.  Using her daughters Halloween fairy costume wings as a pattern, she worked long after she normally would have been in bed.  She arrived for her shift 15 minutes early the next day and distributed the wings. Several of the nurses had even accessorized their scrubs in an attempt to look a bit like Tinkerbell.

After rounds, before checking on their other patients, they all headed in to see Annie.  Word had spread quickly, and some of the doctors and hospital staff joined them.  When they entered her room, Amanda was propped against the pillows, holding the dollar she had found in her bed.

"Good morning, good morning," the adults sang in unison.  "We are your get-well fairies, and we love making you well."

The nurses gathered around the bed. On the count of three, they all threw the bit of glitter they had each been holding, up into the air over Amanda and her bed.  "Fairy dust is what you need."  As the dust settled on the sheets and in her hair, Amanda smiled - the first real smile on her face most of the nurses had ever seen.

Then, John stepped forward, and wiggled his wings.  Nancy gasped sightly, when she realized John had not only put on the wings, but was wearing a tulle skirt over his uniform.  He said, "I see my sister, Jeanie the tooth fairy, has already been here.  Did she really only leave you a dollar? Wait till I see her - she is really going to get it from me!"

Amanda laughed.  Not just a little laugh - she began to giggle.  A real giggle that was contagious. Suddenly all of the nurses joined in. They were laughing at John, at themselves and with the pleasure of finally seeing Amanda happy.

Amanda caught her breath and said, "You really don't look like what I thought fairies look like.  But is the fairy dust real?  Will it make me better?"

"Not right away," Nancy said honestly.  "But be patient, Amanda.  We are going to get you well!"  Nancy turned away, pretending to adjust the window shade.  She blinked away tears, suddenly overcome by all this tiny patient had been through and the compassion of her co-workers.

This story was written in response to the prompt “Giggles and Fairy Wings” from the “Words for Wednesday Challenge” this week. My story is entirely fictitious but it has been my privilege to work with many caring nurses. Without hesitation, they would have donned fairy wings and scattered fairy dust, if it would have benefited their patients.
  
When have you used fairy dust?



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

What I thought was the perfect gift, a lucky bamboo plant, turned out to be "the gift that kept on giving."
“Lucky Bamboo Plant”
According to quote/counterquote “the gift that keeps on giving” was an advertising slogan, trademarked in 1925 as a phrase used to sell phonographs and records.   They noted though, that use of this phrase probably even began much earlier, to advertise banks, cameras and other products with long term applications.

Moving beyond the world of advertising, this phrase has been used in many other ways:


  • Watergate was referred to as “the gift that kept on giving.”  
  • President Obama used the phrase when referring to Boston Red Sox baseball efforts. 
  • Columnist Erma Bombeck wrote, “Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.”  
  • Sexually transmitted diseases are ironically referred to as "the gift that keeps on giving.”  
  • In reference to acts of charitable giving
  • By recipients of chocolates or other highly caloric food gifts
  • In relation to gifts of a monthly subscription for magazines or flower delivery.

If I was to write a definition of "the gift that keeps on giving" as I have come to understand it, I would say the term refers to anything that provides a continued affect upon a recipient, though sometimes different than the original intent.

Back to the bamboo plant.  (Notice that I dropped the word “lucky”.)  I purchased it as a gift for my daughter and her college roommate.  I thought it would be a nice addition to their dorm room - a little bit of greenery, with a nice sentiment attached.  Bamboo plants are easy to care for, just requiring a little water once in a while.  They can be vertically tall (this one was only about 12 inches) but narrow, so they take up less space on a shelf than a traditional plant.  The one I gave them had a tag attached with the following message:
“Lucky Bamboo plant symbolizes luck and success because of its ability to grow quickly, healthly* and resilience.  It is recommended by Feng Shui Masters to improve the energy in the home and to give the person more energy to face today's challenging life styles.”
*This may not have been originally written by a person whose first language was English  - healthly is not a typo, but a direct quote.
This tag with instructions was attached to the plant
Perfect for college students, right?  Hardly.

While I was helping my daughter pack up to return home from college earlier this month, she suddenly held up the plant, and said, “Mom, we appreciated the thought, but please never buy me a gift like this again!”

I was confused.  First of all, it took me a minute to even know what she was referring to, having to step around and look over the mounds of possessions needing to be stuffed into suitcases and boxes.  These two girls had managed to live in a dorm room the size of a box with an unbelievable amount of stuff for over nine months.  How they did it is beyond me - every available inch of space had been utilized.  At first I thought it was the issue of finding a place to keep the plant that had been the problem.

My daughter explained.  “We have been so worried we would kill this thing.  Look at it - it is turning brown.  What happens to our luck if it dies?  It has to go home with us.  And you have to keep it next year, and make sure it stays alive.”

No way.  I am terrible with indoor plants.  The car is going to be more stuffed than this room.  We couldn't possibly take it home.  Besides, the “luck” was really just meant to last this semester.

They were unconvinced.  The plant rode the 600 miles to our house in a cup holder of the car.  I am now the caregiver of the plant, and responsible for the continued success and luck of my daughter and her roommate.

The gift that keeps on giving.  Right back at ya mom.


What is the worst gift you have ever received?



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Five Great Things I Saw on Other Blogs This Week

One of the perks of being a blogger is finding so many other great blogs to read!  I learned a lot this week from reading wonderful blog posts, and I got lots of great new ideas.  Here are links to just a few of them:

1.  Instructions for making Southern Style Pepper Sauce, from Shirl of Living at My Farmhouse.
This recipe looks like a good way to use hot peppers from the plants in my garden.  If I use both red and green peppers and a pretty container like Shirl did, this could even be a good idea for pretty gifts at Christmas time! 
These dried chili peppers are pretty decorations in my kitchen,
but I can't wait to have hot peppers from my garden that I can use!

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2.  A recipe for Easy Enchilada Casserole, from Karen of Two Work With My Hands.
I love Karen's short-cut idea for making a big batch of enchilada-type food!  From what I have seen on her blog, I'm pretty sure I would enjoy eating anything she makes! 
The photos that accompany this recipe look so delicious I made sure I bought all the ingredients today, so I can make it later this week
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3.  The post, “I’m Just a Girl” by Linda of Elleroy Was Here.
Women need to heed the important message in this post! I encourage you to take the time to read it. 
Too often, as Linda points out, women and girls tend to undermine themselves and others by making self-depreciating comments in relation to their gender.  Anyone who reads this post will surely, hopefully, think twice before ever saying, "I'm Just a Girl."

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4.  The weekly Words for Wednesday Challenge from Delores of Under the Porch Light.
Participating in this challenge for the first time this week, I wrote “A Life's Scent” from the provided prompt. It was really fun writing it, and seeing what others posted for this challenge.  I can't wait to see what this week's prompt will be!
Not only does Delores provide good writing prompts on her blog, but her home-cooking style recipes are pretty enticing as well. I followed her recipe for Krispy Coated Chicken when I made dinner tonight. I used chicken tenders instead of legs, and just reduced the cooking time by about 15 minutes. 
Krispy Coated Chicken was an easy meal to make for my family tonight.
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5.  Instructions for How to Make Your Own DIY Natural Orange Citrus Cleaner from Deborah of Urban Naturale.
Deborah presents some interesting and easy ways to use oranges in this post, besides eating them!
These directions for making a natural orange-citrus cleaning solution appear really easy, and Deborah's arguments for doing so are very convincing.  I forgot to buy oranges today, but I am putting them on my shopping list right now. I am going to make some of this soon. 
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All five of these blogs are well worth visiting.  I hope you check them out.

What is the most interesting or important thing you learned on the internet this week?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Weekend Recap

Friday evening my husband and I were invited to a barbecue, which got moved indoors due to weather. Our host was a good sport about having to grill burgers and salmon in a downpour!



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Saturday evening my back and shoulders ached a little from preparing my raised beds for planting.  I had decided a garden would be too time consuming this year, but I changed my mind this weekend. It didn't feel like summer without trying to grow some herbs and vegetables.
Soil turned, fertilizer added, and automatic soaker-hose positioned ready for planting.


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Saturday night, thanks to summer solstice, there was light in the “big sky” of Montana well after the actual time of sunset.
View from my deck: 9:45 pm on 6-21-14

Some light still left in the sky, at 10:15 PM on 6-21-14
I noticed the date on the iPhoto information regarding these photos was incorrect - it was recorded as being about an hour and 45 minutes earlier than I knew I had taken them.  We never bother to reset our camera clock for daylight savings time, and apparently camera clocks are not noted for maintaining accuracy.  The user's manual for my Nikon D5100 digital camera states:
The camera clock is less accurate than most watches and household clocks.  Check the clock regularly against more accurate time pierces and reset as necessary.”  
Sure enough, when I looked at the time setting on my camera this morning, it was 1 hour and 43 minutes earlier than the time on my phone.  It took 15 minutes to figure out how, but my camera is now set to the current time.  I wonder what else I would learn, if I actually read the manual!


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Sunday morning, my favorite nursery let me down when they had no tomato plants left for sale. I admit, June 22nd is a little late to be planting a garden, but I was counting on finding some well-established tomato plants to make up for that! Fortunately, after visiting two more nurseries, I found all the herbs, tomato, zucchini, yellow squash, pepper plants and seeds I was hoping for.  Now I'm hoping for warm weather into late September!
An "instant garden" of nursery-grown plants - with the exception of
my previously planted strawberry plants and lettuce.

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Sunday afternoon, it felt a little heartbreaking when Portugal figured out how to “make the most of a moment.” US soccer fans were ecstatic when our team established a 2:1 lead over Portugal in the World Cup game, only to be scored upon with 30 seconds left in the 95th minute (5 minutes were added to the regulation 90 minutes, due to delays in play).  A win would have advanced the US team to the “Round of 16.” This will hopefully still happen, but it will take a little longer.
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Sunday evening, I finally got to watch the impressive performances of Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in the movie, Philomena.  I am so glad Philomena Lee decided her story should be told.  I am still thinking about it this morning.


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That sums up my weekend - how was yours?

Would you ever plant a garden as late as the weekend of Summer Solstice?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Remembering the Summer Solstice

June 21st.  I'm not very good about remembering dates, and frequently don't even think about the significance of one until the actual day it occurs. Anyone who receives birthday cards from me will know this.  I keep a stock of the “Happy Belated” version, because most often my cards get mailed on the day of someone's birthday.  I like to think when the card arrives late, the recipient realizes I was thinking of them on their actual birthday!

But back to June 21st. Like most years, this morning I instantly thought, "Oh, it's the summer solstice," as soon as I realized the date.  Then I scolded myself for not having gotten up with the sun. For some reason if feels wrong to waste any moments of the longest day of the year.

Every year, immediately following the realization of what day it is, comes a memory.  A good one. When I was out of college for about a year, my twin sister and I traveled through part of Europe for nearly two weeks, using Eurail passes. We covered a lot of ground - through Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany. A Eurail pass must be purchased in advance and entitles the holder to unlimited rail travel in many countries of Europe.  We got our money's worth.

        A EURAILPASS brochure from the 1980's                      A map of the route we traveled past the Arctic Circle.

We made it to Bodo, Norway, in time for the Summer Solstice.  Bodo is north of the Arctic circle. There is a cairn marking this latitude, which we photographed from the train. 



A brochure and one of my photos taken from the train window, showing a cairn that marks the Arctic Circle in Norway

To take full advantage of being in the “land of the midnight sun,” at 12:30 AM my sister and I hiked an hour up a softly lit mountain, to watched the midnight sun break through the clouds beyond Landego Island. Unfortunately, cloud cover was heavy, but a glimmer of sunshine definitely occurred on the horizon.  It was amazing to be hiking in the wee hours of the morning, without needing to use a flashlight.


The midnight sun: as it became just visible through the clouds, and moments later.  
We took these photos  without using a flash.


This postcard I sent home shows the midnight sun over Landego Island, viewed from nearly the same angle as my photos.
The website timeanddate.com provides an excellent explanation of the June Solstice.  It is interesting that the date of the solstice can actually vary between June 20 and 22, due to the influence of other planets.  The June Solstice is considered to be the first day of the summer season, north of the equator.  It is the day of the year with the longest hours of daylight in the northern hemisphere - and the least amount in the southern hemisphere. According to what I learned from the timeanddate.com webpages, the actual “solstice” occurs when the sun is “at its zenith” or at its furthest point from the equator and directly overhead in relation to an observer. According to timeanddate.com, where I live, the solstice (adjusted for daylight savings time) occurred today at 4:51 AM.

In Montana, we look forward to these long summer days, especially when the sun is setting before 5:00 PM in December! If I understand this correctly, sunrise is apparently different that the actual solstice.  When I entered the city closest to where I live, dateandtime.com shows that sunrise occurred here today at 5:35 AM. (I wasn't up to see it, so I can't verify that!) and the sunset will be at 9:25 PM.

It all seems a little confusing - but what I do understand is that there are still plenty of daylight hours left to enjoy today!


My twin sister and I at the end of our trip, wearing our sweaters purchased in Norway.
I unfortunately have no photos of us on our 1:00 AM hike, as I hadn't used a flash to show how light it was that night.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Life's Scent

Every week, Delores of Under the Porch Light provides a writing challenge to bloggers called Words for Wednesday. She provides a prompt from which writers are encouraged to “write a piece of flash fiction.” You can read more about this challenge at the end of this post.

I decided it would be fun to participate, so I'm writing from a “Words for Wednesday” prompt today. I hesitated, unsure of whether a work of fiction would fit with the niche of this blog. I typically provide informational anecdotes and tips regarding how to make the most of every moment.  Then I realized, the fictional protagonist of my story tells an informational anecdote of just this sort!  

I am a little nervous to share a fictional piece of my writing for the first time.  I will need to hit “publish” as soon as I finish this, so I don't lose my nerve! 




A Life's Scent.

She rocked back and forth in the worn wood of her comfortable rocker, enjoying a morning on the porch.  She could hear her granddaughter inside, rattling pans in the kitchen, preparing breakfast for the two of them.
 
The invigorating smell of freshly-made drip coffee reached her nostrils from the open window. It was suddenly overpowered by an acrid smell of gasoline, as the neighbor boy topped off the tank of her old mower. He was preparing to mow her lawn. 
As so often happened lately, a flood of memories were triggered by these odors.  She noted with surprise, that each phase of her adult life could be associated with a particular scent.

College was the time of strong coffee odors.  Late night studies were always fueled by cup after cup, into which she mixed milk and sugar back then.  She missed the sound of a percolator, replaced by drip machines and now even the hiss of espresso makers.  She remembered with pride the young woman she had been at the time - a trailblazer in her field.
 
During the years of mothering her babies, her nostrils would inhale deeply, trying to capture the sweet smell of her children. And who could forget the burning odor of ammonia in the diaper pail!  Oh well, she mused, better that, than the stench of diapers soggy with poop and pee.


Fresh cut grass.  When they moved from their city apartment to an acreage, she had loved the scent of newly mowed grass wafting in through their open windows.  Her teenage son would spend hours mowing the grass, bribed by an allowance based on the completion of the task.  She sucked the presently green-smelling air into her old lungs, as her mower went up and down her lawn. It was her son Owen (forever a teenager in her mind's eye) that she pictured behind it, not the neighbor boy.  She sighed, the pain of losing him so young still felt like an open wound.


She had not pumped gas, or even learned to drive, until after becoming middle-aged. Her husband had been older than her by nine years.  Until his stroke, he always drove and took care of the car.  When he was no longer able, those responsibilities fell upon her.  She became a competent driver, but always disliked getting the smell of gas on her hands from the handle at the gas pump.  She never could understand why the handle would have gas on it!


Her granddaughter brought out a tray with breakfast, interrupting her travel back in time. Alongside the plate of scrambled eggs and toast was a vase, filled with roses from the garden.  She leaned forward to inhale their heady scent, and closed her eyes, remembering.

After a moment, she fixed her gaze on her granddaughter and said, "When you are my age, there will be a smell that reminds you of every good moment in your life.  For me, it is the smell of roses.  My mother wore a rose-scented perfume.  Roses were in my wedding bouquet.  My children always gave me roses on Mother's day.  And now my grandchild takes care of me, and brings me bouquets of the roses from my garden. A sense of smell has a way of transporting you back in time - so make sure you live many good moments to return to.”

The elderly woman realized that at times her life had smelled like coffee and baby poop, fresh cut grass and gasoline.  It was the scent of roses though, that best represented her long life, filled with some sorrow but many moments of joy.


The perfume of roses from my garden fills the air,
even days after being picked and their petals begin to fall.



The prompt which inspired this piece was: 
"life smells like coffee and baby poop, fresh cut grass and gasoline"
_________________________________________________________________________________ 
 
I would encourage you to take the Words for Wednesday challenge, whether or not you choose to publish what you write.  I found it really enjoyable to write something from a prompt.  (I hope you enjoyed reading it too!)

Here is part of the explanation Dolores provided on her blog about the weekly Words for Wednesday challenge:
“The prompt could be a selection of words, a photo, an idea or a couple of sentences you can use to start a piece of flash fiction.  Write a poem or a story using as much or as little of the prompt as you please or offer us something entirely different as a prompt.  There are no deadlines, no rules...just a bit of good clean fun.” 
Delores generously encourages authors of these works to post what they write either on their own blogs (be sure to link back to her blog  if you do!) or in the comments section on her post.  Before I decided to participate, I read several posts based on the six words (essence, flippant, mercury, speeding, nonchalant, shadowed) that she provided yesterday. Rather than risk my imagination might be influenced by the stories I had read, today I chose to use the phrase mentioned above, which she provided as an optional prompt to write about.

What sort of story comes to your mind when you read this phrase?
Maybe you should write your own story now!

This post was linked to the Motivational Monday Link Party

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sometimes I Wish I Was a House Cat

What animal would you want to be, if you were not a human? 

I used to think I would love to be a horse - or a bird.  But now I know, with certainty, that I would want to be a house cat.
What a life!

There are days I would like to trade places with my cat.

I often envy my cat.  He lives in a comfortable house, gets fed regular meals, gets plenty of love and attention, and the biggest task in his day is to find a sunny spot and fall asleep in it. We don't have mice in our house - so he does not even have to chase after any of them!  He has absolutely no responsibilities and every creature comfort.  What a life.

I don't think I have ever positioned myself quite as comfortably as my cat frequently appears to be.  His body goes completely limp, and he just seems to sink into whatever surface he is laying on. Contentment seems to be written all over him as he snoozes away.

Cats don't have house chores to do, or belongings to sort through. They never worry about what to wear. Cats don't wonder if they have offended someone. They assume the world spins completely around them.  My cat (unlike anyone else in my family, including the dog) never has a guilty conscience - no matter how much mischief he has gotten into or how destructive he has been.


The food wouldn't be so bad.

Some might argue that a diet of just cat food would be boring. True, but cats like mine are smart, and they know how to supplement what is fed to them.  My cat has found many ways to sample other foods.  Waiting for one of his humans to forget and leave the carton of half-and-half on the counter is his specialty.  He knows the contents of the container when he sees it, and understands that he simply has to knock the carton over to have instant dairy access.  I once heard what sounded like running water, and walked into the kitchen to see what it was.  I discovered the last bit of a full carton of cream pouring over the side of the counter and splashing onto the floor.  My cat was lapping at the cascading stream. That day it was a good thing that cats have nine lives.


At least this time the carton of cream hadn't been full.

Yes, I think the life of a house cat would be just fine.  But the funny thing is, sometimes my cat acts like he thinks my life is pretty good too!


My co-blogger!

What animal would you most like to be?


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Standing in line at the grocery store the other day, I felt like such a hypocrite. For the gazillionth time, I had forgotten my cloth bags.  In fact, I hadn't even given them a thought until I was ready to check out. And I encouraged all of you to use them.
We own an abundance of cloth bags - I just frequently forget to take them to the store!

Do as I say, not as I do.

Just in case any of you have gotten the impression from this blog that I always make the most of all of my own moments, let me assure you - I often fall short!  This blog serves as much as a reminder to myself as to all of you, of the many ways in which it is possible to make the most of all of our moments. Sometimes I don't even take my own advice, even after I have just written it!  

  • I frequently forget my reusable bags when I go to the store. 
  • The fruit bin of my fridge is often empty - that bowl of cut up fruit I suggested stocking in the fridge is absent more than it is there. 
  • There are times when we don't even really set the table - and we certainly don't always use cloth napkins! 
  • Most days I can't be bothered to style my hair, other than to brush it out. 
  • I said I needed to back-off parenting my teen, and then I made all the same mistakes the very next morning. 
  • I can whine and bicker with the best of them. 
  • My recipes frequently flop - I just share the ones that don't!

My family thinks I keep this tattered sign on our fridge for them, but it's really there as a reminder for me!

So - do as I say, not as I do. I hope these revelations won't scare you off from reading my blog. A lot of what I write about is information learned from my own mistakes and shortcomings. I would never tell you I did something if I hadn't - but my good intentions can relapse as easily as anyone's can! Rather than making this blog less appealing, I hope this knowledge that we are all in this together encourages you to visit, comment often, and figure out together how to maximize our moments! 

Sometimes I actually do accomplish what I say. And the rest of the time I am the one trying to do as I say, not as I do!  (Think about that last statement for a minute. Pretty confusing concept!)  What is important, though, is that we all keep trying. And keep striving to make the most of our moments.

I'm game. Are you?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

5 Ways I Have Recently Been Influenced By Other Blogs

For the past 12 weeks, usually on a Tuesday, I have written a post called "Seven Ways to Make the Most of a Moment." While I enjoyed writing it, and will continue to do so, I have decided to focus on that topic less than once-a-week, at least for a while.

I love reading other people's blogs, and get lots of good ideas when I do. Today, I've decided to list five things from other blogs that made a difference in my life in the past few weeks.  Instead of agonizing over choosing the very best, I am just writing about the first five things that come to mind.  Here goes:


Five Ways Other Blogs Influenced Me in Recent Weeks:

1.This made me laugh, and reminded me of what being pregnant is like!
There are certain people though, who are always allowed to touch your pregnant belly!
(My daughter just found out that it “was almost time” when this photo was taken.)
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    2. I discovered a website called "What Should I Read Next?"
    • This site provides recommendations based on other novels or authors you already like. I may never worry about trying to find a good book to read again. (That doesn't mean I still won't be interested in good suggestions by friends and bloggers though!)
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    3.  I made Strawberry Rhubarb ice-cream.

    • I wanted to try this recipe, from A Cookie Named Desire ever since I mentioned it on my blog on 5-7-14. I made it this weekend, and it was delicious!

    I followed the directions exactly, and my ice cream turned out perfectly. Isn't it pretty?
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    4. I added a "back to top button" to this blog! 
    • Thanks to a tutorial from My Bloggers World, this tool was very easy to add - even for someone with my limited computer skills!  I am hoping this icon will make navigating my blog easier for my readers.
    (Click on the icon that looks like this at bottom right, to return to top of this blog.)


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    5. I wore my jean jacket.
    • I planned to wear a particular skirt to a fundraiser last week, but I couldn't decide what to wear with it.  Then I remembered the post “Sneakers and a Dress ” on Two Teens and Their Mama. It had reminded me of the jean jacket that I own, but never wear. This jacket was comfortable, the perfect weight for the weather, went well with the skirt, and just the right amount of casual for the occasion. There are no photos of me from that evening, but here's the outfit I wore:
    This photo proves I don't have any experience with fashion photography!

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    That's five ways - although even before I finished typing this I thought of many more.  I know I promised to just list five - but I can't finish this post without mentioning one more way I have been influenced, which is really best of all.  
    • That, of course, is the support I've received from readers and other bloggers. Special thanks to  +Rena McDaniel+Lana L. and +Becka M, for showing support of nearly every one of my posts - but many thanks to everyone who took the time to even just read one!)  All of the comments, shares, likes, and Google Plus +1's on my blog posts have given me the confidence to continue writing, and I am grateful for every one. 

    Can you think of a blog post that made a difference in your life?


    Monday, June 16, 2014

    An Answer to the Question on Saturday's Post

    On Saturday, I posted some scenic photos, and asked readers if they could identity the location where they were taken.  I promised to post the answer today on my blog.

    The location in the photos is:

    The Wild Horses Monument and views of the Columbia River, in Washington State.

    While traveling east on I-90, (from Ellensburg,WA, just after crossing the Columbia River and before Moses Lake, WA) there is a scenic pullout, at exit 139.  It was from this pullout that the photos were taken. The steel horses apparently been there since 1989 and were sculpted by David Govedare.

    We have always been in too great of a hurry to do so, but one day I want to hike up to see these beautiful sculptures up-close.  

    I did get to see them from the pullout twice in the past few weeks though - once returning with my husband and son from a soccer tournament in Seattle; and once a few days ago when I picked my daughter up from college.


    6-13-14


    6-1-14





    My husband took the photo with my son on our camera.  The photo of my daughter and I is a "selfie" on an iPhone, as we were the only people at the pullout at the time!  The horses are harder to see in the photo with my daughter, but both were taken from approximately the same spot.

    If you ever are on this stretch of I-90, it is well worth the stop to admire these views and sculptures.

    Did you recognize this place when you saw the photos on Saturday?

    Sunday, June 15, 2014

    Happy Father's Day.


    A brand new Dad - mine!

    Whenever I put on a white blouse, I think of my dad.

    I’ve always wanted to be like my mother, but it is my father's approval I have sought most of my life. I suspect this is true of many women.

    When I was growing up, my stay-at-home mom was a more constant presence in my life than my father.  She was always there, supporting us through everything.  My dad traveled quite a bit for work, but when he was home, he was always very present.  He was with us for most of the important stuff, beginning with a premonition that he should hurry home from the oil fields the day my twin sister and I were born, six weeks early.  Perhaps though, it was his absences that made my sisters and I appreciate him so much, and compete for his attention and approval.


    My dad became the father of  2 girls - and doubled that!

    My dad has always had wonderful stories to tell, and it seemed like there was nothing he could not do. (I still sort of wonder if this isn't true!)  He was always great about helping us with any sort of math or science homework.  I remember receiving my first calculator as a gift - expensive at the time, but it felt like I had been given the crown jewels, because of the way he made me feel so smart for taking an advanced math class.  My dad’s exuberant approach to life has always had a way of making everything - our pets, the places we lived, the food we ate, our travels, and even our day-to-day lives seem extra-ordinary.  His enthusiasm and pride in his family made us feel special too.

    My father had high expectations for us, and high standards to live up to.  (Never cut the bread crooked, don't leave crumbs in the butter, bacon should be crisp, don't burn the toast and if you dry two plates at a time, you can get the dishes done more efficiently! And that is just what I learned during breakfast!)  My father taught me by example the value of making the most of every moment.  His voice is often the one I write with; the one you hear in this blog!

    I've always been told I "have my father's eyes" - but I'd like to think there is a lot more of him in me than that!
    Many of the compliments I received from my father stuck with me over the years, and went a long way towards building my self-esteem.  In fifth grade, my class raised enough money to go on a short ride in an airplane. The purpose of the trip is forgotten - perhaps to gain an aerial view of the topography of our province?  My father's assessment of me at the time remains clear in my memory though.  My classmates were all scared about air-sickness. My father scoffed and told me not to worry, as I was a seasoned traveler, having ridden on planes numerous times to visit relatives.  "A seasoned traveler - me?" Wow, I never thought of myself that way before, but oh my, did I feel unique then!"  Those sorts of compliments were abundant over the years, and contributed to my concept of who I was and who I could become.

    Oh, and the white blouse?  It was just an off-handed comment, but once when I was in high school my father complimented my appearance, and told me "A white blouse always looks so nice on you." He has surely forgotten ever saying this, but I never did. It made many years of wearing a white nursing uniform every day a little easier!  (Come to think of it, I was wearing white the day I met my husband - maybe fathers do know best!)

    My relationship with my father has always been very good, but not perfect of course.  There are subjects upon which we have always disagreed.  I have disappointed him, and he has disappointed me. But I have always known how much he loves me, and how proud he is of me.  There could not be a greater gift. I think he knows I feel the same about him.

    There is a saying that women grow up to be like their mothers, but marry their fathers.  My husband and my dad are different in many ways, but I learned from my father how to know a good man when I met one. Both my husband (father of my children) and my father-in-law belong firmly in that category.  My children and I are so lucky to have all three of these wonderful fathers in our lives.

    Happy Father's Day!


    Saturday, June 14, 2014

    Happy Weekend! Can You Identify This Place?

    I have driven a lot of miles over the past few weeks.  These photos were all taken from the same highway pullout. Can you identify the location?



    Leave a comment if you think you know where these photos were taken!  
    The answer will be published on this blog on Monday!

    Friday, June 13, 2014

    Words to Live By: MORE and LESS. Week 12

    If you are new to my blog, this is what this weekly series is all about:
    One of my notepads lists some ways we should live more and live less.  Inspired by this message on Friday, March 28th, 2014 I wrote a post about "Words to Live By."  I decided to make weekly updates to this post, until I start repeating myself!  I promise each weekly update will contain more information than just the five new phrases though!
     Readers are invited to use the comment section below, if they have new ideas of "words to live by" which would complete the phrase _____________ more. ______________ less."  
    (Any time I use an idea that is not mine, I will credit the contributor and their blog, if they have one. Just keep it family friendly, please!)

    Here Are the Ideas for This Week:

    1. Honesty More. Hiding Less.
    • The post in this series last week addressed the recent school shootings.  A number of readers left comments and suggestions of phrases relate to tragedies of that type.  
    • More Honesty. Less hiding.” was suggested by Marisa B. of the blog Mangia, Mangia ...No Talk!  
    • Roz Warren recommends, “More treatment,early intervention and support for folks challenged with mental health problems more. AND BAN GUNS!!”

    2. Tip More.  Complain less.

    Servers count on tips to help pay their bills.

    • People can sometimes be on their worst behavior when dining out.  It is easy to be critical of the server.  We feel entitled because we are paying for our meal, but preparing and serving food is a difficult task to do well.  (I know this to be true, just based on the experiences from my own kitchen!)  So next time, before you begin to complain, think for a minute about how busy your server might be. And don't forget to leave them a good tip!


    3. Plan more.  Miss out on less.


    A wall calendar is a good way to keep track of commitments.
    Keeping track of our busy lives is difficult - and practically impossible without a planning calendar!  My family uses a master wall calendar to record all of our activities and appointments.  

    • Sometimes things still get missed.  During a particularly hectic week, we received an email invitation to a graduation party.  I thought my husband had R.S.V.P.’d and he thought the same of me.  I am embarrassed to admit that neither one of us did - and to make matters worse, it never got recorded on the calendar.  The day after the party, we realized we had missed it.  It was a graduate we would have really loved to celebrate. 

    4. Pay credit bills more.  Pay interest less.


    Credit cards are for convenience - not to spend more than you can afford!
    • Pay every credit card bill you receive in-full and on-time!  
    • If you can't afford to do so, don't spend that money in the first place! 
    Paying interest on these bills is like throwing money away!!


    5.  Make friends more.  Make enemies less.

    Pluto is a pretty friendly guy!
    To view ideas from previous posts please click on the page tab “Words to Live By: More and Less” at the top of this blog .  The list has grown too large to include here!


    This notepad is from the Eccolo World Traveler "Lofty Thinking" collection.  The author of the words is unknown.

    Note:  For the past 12 weeks, I have been posting in this series weekly. I plan to continue adding to this series, but on a less regular basis, so that I have more time to write about other things.  

     I'm trying to live more, not less.  How about you?  
    What suggestions do you have?