If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Happy Birthday, Lydia!

Hope your day is a home run!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Advice on Mother's Day 2017

I'm always searching.  I look for wisdom and try to latch onto it and embed it into the marrow of my bones.  I don't want to store up all this wisdom so that I can hoard it, be perched in an ivory tower, and admired from afar.   I want to tuck it into neat little file folders and store it in the filing cabinet of my brain so that I can pull it out at the most opportune time.  I want to gather this wisdom to me like pulling clean laundry off the line or out of the dryer so that I can share it when others need it most, when they are at the depths of despair, when they need an uplifting word.  I search for wisdom for selfish reasons - primarily because I don't want to feel at a loss when somebody needs comfort most - or to be truthful, when I need comfort most.

I don't think I am alone in this and I think that is the mother element that is deep down inside each of us.  Some of us are fortunate enough to have wonderful mothers who set fine examples and lived as a model to guide the way.  Others were not so lucky and simply learned what doesn't work and what might be better.  Yet, somehow we all learned from our mothers in some fashion and in turn we set our sights at being as good or far better.

As I saw Mother's Day approaching this year, I really began to notice motherhood and searched for wisdom.  I searched for wisdom that I could share here.  I searched for something profound and earth-shattering.  I searched for some ideal.  I searched nearby in the ordinary and I looked further away at the famous.  In all my searching all I really found is that I am not alone in my search.

Emily Freeman expressed the vast range of mothering in her post, This One's For The Mothers.  Like Emily, I've paid attention to the young woman who has spent years getting her education and establishing her career and supporting her husband as he works through earning his degree and begins a career and feels like her timeline is ready for another hash-mark that is motherhood.  I've observed a young mother with a month's-old newborn who is coping.  She is absorbing as much as she can from that sweet little fellow's out-loud-laughs and sweet, slobbery kisses while she is also fighting delirium from the loss of sleep waking her each night for his feeding.  I observe the young mothers with whom I work or those in my own family who are establishing a household, keeping a business going, and nurturing older family members while at the same time changing diapers or potty-training, racing to beat the school-bell, monitoring homework or sibling scuffles, taxi-ing to dance or ball practice, and keeping business going at the same time.  I search the mothers around me of tweens and teens and the attitudes, sibling arguments, coming-of-age-maturity pains with which they are dealing.  I search the women who are my ancestors dealing with health issues and coping with alone-ness and carrying on.  I search my peers and see that they, too, are establishing their place as grandmothers and supportive mothers of adults and figuring out their purpose at this stage as they try to catch their breath from the previous scurrying of raising those adult-children.

In my search for wisdom this week, I also stumbled upon Some Things I Learned About Being A Mom by Sarah, who blogs over at Clover Lane.  She lists five different things she has learned which are valuable and true and heart-touching but perhaps the most profound one is that she has grown right along with her children and each teaches her something new.

I also took in the wise words of Maria Shriver this morning in her I've Been Thinking post and really relate to the concept that mothers are a towering presence in the lives of others.  We tower literally and figuratively at all stages and ages along the journey of life.  Whether we have given birth or adopted and mothered children or not, as women we are still role models for others - we might be the model of what one wishes to be at the same time we are the model of what one hopes never to be.  The wisdom I've searched for and gathered in to myself is that either one is quite alright - mainly because at any given moment along this journey we could possibly be both at the very same time.  Most importantly, for the sanity of all of us is that we all need to find joy in the journey.  Each step along the way has its tribulations but also along the way are loads and loads of joy and, as mothers, that is what we should be searching for all along the journey with all of our heart.

I wish you the best in your searches along the way and a Happy Mother's Day as well!
By the way, you can find this free printable, more printables, and lots more wisdom with Ann On Sutton Place.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

What I did during spring break

It has been almost a month since I had time off for spring break but I thought I'd share a couple of the things I did with my time off.  For most of one afternoon I used Mike's ATV and tried to help him out a bit.

He had plowed up a new area back behind one of our barns and there were several pretty good sized rocks which were unearthed.  So, I pulled the ATV up there and loaded the rocks.  Then, I hauled them down to the driveway where there is a gigantor pothole created by a wet weather spring that drains down there.  They went into the hole and inspired me to pick up more rocks to help fill in the hole.  So, I made three or four trips up into one of the lots behind the barn where some dozier work had been done and filled the bed of the ATV, hauled the rocks down, and dumped them into the pothole.  

At the end of the day I realized that there were going to be several more days working on this project.  Whew!  My aching back and arms!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

In A Funk

I've been chastised more than once this week because I have been neglecting my blog and haven't been posting like I should.  Well, I have a confession to make.

I've been in a funk.

I'm probably always my own worst critic - well, except sometimes members of my family will step up and relieve me of that duty.  So, when I feel like the critics have taken over my life, I just dip into a funk.

I've had things to work on in my personal life.  I've had things to work on in my professional life.  There really hasn't been a haven for me.  So, I fell into a funk.  Perhaps the post I created for my teacher blog will better explain a little piece of the funky pie.  So, if you are interested, hop over there and see what has been going on.

Please know that I am still here surrounded by my Blue and putting one foot in front of the other.  I may be singing the blues but I'm here and working through the funk in hopes that there is sunshine on the other side.

Hope you are experiencing sunshine and fresh spring breees!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Done With It!

After Saturday's snowfall, I'm done with winter.  I'm tired of grey days - grey skies, grey trees, grey-brown ground, grey weather.  I'm ready for some green.

I'm ready for flowers.  I'm ready for steadily warm days.

I know, I know.  We hardly had any real winter weather at all this year.  I think I only had frost on the windshield a few more than a hand-full of mornings.  But, I'm done with winter.  

I erased the Let it Snow message Sunday morning and began searching for inspiration to replace it.  I looked for something more spring-like.  

I liked the oval shape of this design and decided to do my best to replicate it so I could leave the sentiment up for a while.  So, this one isn't really all that springy but it is positive and that is something I really need to be reminded of these days, it seems.

For one of my other chalkboards, I decided to go all-out-spring.  I wanted it to be simple but I also wanted it to be seasonal.  I found this design online and decided to give it a spin.  I just rolled with a simple piece of white chalk and began to draw free-hand.  It suits me fine but I've decided that before the next time I start with my inspirations, I think I will get a yardstick or a ruler and do a bit of measuring and marking to be more precise.

With this one, I figured the cute little eggs at the bottom would be easy to erase and replace with some sketched tulips or daisies after we celebrate Easter and won't require a radical re-do for me.  So, two chalkboards springed up and one left to go!

I also dug around and found my little grapevine wreaths that have the pastel eggs attached and hung them on the back doors.  Of course, my pinecone garland is still swagged over the French doors coming into the kitchen.  So, right now I've got a bit of a mixed seasonal message, I guess.  I'll get there sometime this week even though the weather is predicted to still be a bit chilly.  Now that we have sprung forward with the time change, I'll have a bit of time in the afternoon to do some chores in the daylight and maybe I can transfer over to full-blown springtime decor!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Sad Day

Well, yesterday was a sad day in our household.

We had to bid goodbye to an old friend.

We had been served well.

After all, that friend had only been a part of our lives for thirty-plus years.

Yet, when I set it atop the mate and pushed down on the center spot like I have countless thousand times before...

My finger just pushed straight through the trendy avocado center.

Sadness abounds.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Good Morning!

After a week where temperatures had reached the seventy-degree mark, this is what we woke up to this morning.
Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

While March is designated as Women's History Month, today is officially International Women's Day.  I first learned of International Women's Day by reading Maria Shriver's The Sunday Paper.  I've always loved the quote which she started off the day on Sunday: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

I've never been one to take my privileges and opportunities for granted.  My father was really a part of the Women's Movement years ago and probably never realized it - or intended it, either, for that matter.  He was just doing his best to try to raise strong women who could take care of themselves - and he and my mother certainly did.  

I will always hear my Daddy telling me that I could do anything those boys could do when it came to farm work.  He encouraged me to work hard and participate in agricultural endeavors in 4-H when that was not really the norm.  Oh, I did do a bit of sewing and canning for the state fair but our greatest efforts and best showing as young girls was in the livestock arena.  We trained our heifers to lead and joined the guys out there in the show ring parading our best and competing for top honors.  At that time there were very few girls involved in that aspect of 4-H which was mostly dominated by guys.  I think I was the first girl on a dairy judging team in our county as well.  

Now, Daddy didn't want me to forget I was feminine or to forget that there were times when lady-like behavior was most acceptable, but he told us that the true mark of a lady was if she could stand hip-deep in mud and manure and thirty minutes later look and smell like a rose...and that we were forced to do quite often.  

Later, when my life was at a crossroad, Daddy again was my strongest encourager.  I listened to him lift me up time and time again telling me, "You can do this," when I was working full-time, going to school at night full-time, and trying to keep up with a couple of teenagers as a newly-single-mother.  So, I guess without even knowing it, Daddy was a lot like Harry T. Burn.  Only, instead of listening to his mother, he was encouraging his daughter.

Now, let me make it perfectly clear, I have never struggled the way many women have.  I've never lived in poverty.  I may have been like the one out of three women Shriver focused upon with her 2014 Report - on the  brink.  I remember not knowing if I was going to have enough gas to get to work on Friday when I didn't get paid till Monday and that sort of thing but I could have asked for help and any number of people would have been glad to lend a hand.  In those times, I truly was on the brink like some of the women spotlighted in the video She's The One - if something had broken or I'd been in a car wreck, I would have been in a mess.  I was fortunate and feel like I was being looked after by a divine being, though.  

Daddy also always impressed upon me the importance of voting.  He reminded me that our country is strong because of the  power of the vote and I should not take that privilege for granted.  He told me that if I wasn't going to be able to go to the polls on election day that there is always the opportunity to vote early.  He reminded me that lots of people had given their lives to provide me we the chance to vote and not to take that lightly.  

On this International Women's Day, I also would like to remind folks - especially women, not to take our situation lightly.  Here in The United States, women are fortunate.  We enjoy many opportunities.  While, we still live in a man's world for the most part due to the fact that there are far more men who out-earn us and out-power us in the corporate and political world, we are fortunate here.  So, let's not forget folks like Elizabeth Avery Meriwether, Lide E. Meriwether, and Anne Dallas Dudley.  Check out the Tennessee Virtual Archive for more information about these women.  There are also more materials online and a museum in Seneca Falls, New York which celebrates Women's Rights that is owned and operated as a part of the National Park Service.  Visit the Tennessee Woman's Suffrage Monument at Centennial Park in Nashville to learn more, as well.

I may like the opening quote because I think it gives me permission to misbehave at times.  I do strongly believe that it is those people - both men and women - who don't do the ordinary that we remember and respect.  So, on International Women's Day, why not honor a strong woman you admire and respect?  I am!

My Mother

My Mother-In-Law

My Daughter, Bridgette

My Daughter-In-Love, Jessica

My Daughter-In-Love, Bonnie

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Collector In The Family

One of our granddaughters has become a Numismatist.

Well, a couple of them are collectors, but one simply wants to collect so that she can take it to the book fair and buy books!

Lydia, on the other hand, has really taken an interest in collecting the different coins which represent our National Parks.  These quarters are not to be confused with the State Quarters which were issued several years back.  (Even though Mike and I did have the two intermingled at one time until we were corrected by our Family Numismatist.

We had a phone conversation with the Family Numismatist Lydia the other night.  She set us straight on what we should be looking at in regard to the quarters.  She asked us if we would look at any quarters we might have to see if we had some that she had not already collected.

I asked her for a list and this is what we got:
She also informed me that she had a few duplicates.  I laughed and asked her what she meant by that and she explained, "I have two or three quarters that are the same.  That is what duplicate means."

Mike and I are pleased that she is thorough and that she is so smart and that she has a broad vocabulary.  We chuckle at the fact that she feels she needs to explain things to us.  Well, for example...

I was completely oblivious to the fact that there was a new series of quarters - the National Park series.  I thought she was simply collecting the state quarters that were minted before she was even born.  So, she explained to me that there is a difference.

Please notice that there is wording engraved around the image at the center of each quarter.  Mike gathered together several dollars worth of quarters that he had collected during the past week or so and we sorted through them looking for Lydia's state quarters.

We noticed that only a handful of them had state information on them and the others had the traditional eagle on the obverse side of George Washington's head.  We also noticed that Mike had collected a few duplicates.

Bridgette says Lydia will get her quarters out and study them and comment on what is featured on each quarter.  Then, I recalled that Lydia had mentioned that she would hang on to her duplicates and might share them with her sisters.  So, Mike and I gave her a call to see if she wanted us to contribute to the duplicate stash as well as save for her own collection.

During our conversation, I mentioned that Mike and I were struggling to see what state each coin represented.  I told Lydia that we had both put on reading glasses.  I mentioned that Mike had tried out two different pairs of reading glasses.  I also mentioned that he moved a lamp and held the quarter right under the light to get the best view he could of the quarter.  It was a bit of a struggle for us.

Lydia explained that we needed to, "Look just to the left of the picture.  The name of the state is right there on the left," she said.  I told her that we knew where the state name could be found.  That was not the problem, the problem is the size of the word on the coin.  Our old eyes could not see such little print!

Lydia just giggled and told us we might need to get us a magnifying glass!  We figured out a work-around - take a picture of the coin and zoom in on it to more clearly see the wording.

We now have a couple of plastic bags which have quarters in them.  One is labeled: Lydia's and the other is: Duplicates.  We are glad to gather them for Lydia's collection but I don't think Mike and I will compete for the title of Family Numismatist!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

We Wrote A Book!

I like to come up with something special for each grandchild as a gift for his or her birthday.  That was really easy at first.
The Cover (Isn't that a sweet little face?)

Then, when the number of grands started growing and each had siblings and there were toys galore and clothes as hand-me-downs and picture books filling shelves...
Opening Page

Well, we are blessed and so are our grands.  So, when it came time to give a special gift to our youngest grandson, we brainstormed and brainstormed.  It needed to be something that he and his older brother didn't already have.  It needed to be just for him.  It needed to be reasonably priced.  Well, I think you get the idea - lots of constraints.
Page 1 (A photo of one of their cows!)

Then, I saw a blog post where a parent had made a simple ABC picture book for a child.  Voila!  An idea bloomed in my head!
The grands and Mike's family have always called him Bay - what he was dubbed as a baby.

I began gathering photos that I had made which would fit letters of the alphabet.  Then, I noticed that some might be used for more than one letter - the barn could be R for red or it could be B for barn.  So, I decided I should brainstorm for words to go with each letter first.
When I first shot this photo, I was thinking R is for rooster!

I was quickly overwhelmed and called in the cavalry - Mike.  He was wonderful but he was also horrible at this.  For example, he first suggested A for ass.  Not really appropriate for children's picture book material!
Some of the images, like this one, are a bit grainy because I zoomed them after cropping them from other photos but all-in-all the quality of how it came out is great anyway!

Soon, we fell into a groove and he filled in the gaps for me with letters I couldn't think of something.
I liked how the site allowed me to bleed some photos onto two pages to vary the look.

Then, I began gathering the photos.  I had a reserve from this blog and some stored on the camera that I had never used.  So, there were only a few which I needed to capture.
This is one of the photos I got from open source.

I ran into a snag or two, like when I wanted a photo of the family dogs.  Photo hours were from about four o'clock till five o'clock when there was daylight.  Yet, their family store didn't close until six o'clock.  The two didn't coincide and I had to improvise.
I think I have an image of me holding almost all of the grandchildren and looking at them with pride.  
Glad I finally found a good way to share them!

For a couple of them, I wound up going into Google images labeled for reuse.  All-in-all, the photos came together alright.  Then, I had a bright idea that made things a bit more difficult.
Look at those sweet little baby feet!

I thought: why not write a short little verse to go with each photo?  What a great idea!  I forgot, however, that I stink when creating rhymes.
I had to borrow an old photo of the family dog and was a little inventive with the other image here!

So, again, I called in the cavalry.  Again, Mike was really good and really horrible.  Some of his rhyming suggestions were wildly inappropriate!  We persevered and we wound up being really pleased with the result.
The type of background I chose really worked well with my subject matter for this group of photos and topic.

I simply created the letters/words on top of the photos using Photoscape and my computer snipping tool.
Doesn't she look sassy?
I learned lots about combining photos, backgrounds, fonts, etc. on this project, too!

Then, entered the text using the available text boxes in the photo book creator on the Walgreen's website.  I chose a mat finish on my pages which we really liked.
I debated about what would represent our little historic town until I thought deeply and remembered a photo of Easton's grandpa captured during the building of the historic school where the local museum is now housed.

The pages are a heavy card stock which almost makes it like a child's board book.
This photo is a cell phone scan of a photo on our fridge!

There was lots to be learned about creating a picture book with this project but I think Mike and I are up to create another book for another grandchild's birthday in the future.
Okay, so that pasture scene is really more about the trees, hills, and sky background and the goats than the pasture 
and that isn't really a quilt but is a swaddling blanket and that is pretty close, isn't it?

The most important thing I learned is something I really already know...I don't take enough photos!
With the limitations of my photographic efforts, I had to be a bit inventive with my alphabet matching.

So, again, I'm resolving to take more photos and capture more of the beauty in our lives!
I love the cute shot Bonnie sent me with her cell phone.  He is so happy looking!

I also need to get the grands' parents to send me more photos of them doing the cute things they do! 
Using photos of important things to the child make it more personal, I think.
Of course, I also need to find more words that begin with X!

In this day and age when we always have a camera (on our phone) I find that I still don't shoot as many photos as I should.  Plus, I need to keep in mind that we need a variety of subjects for making these ABC Books.  
I had to shoot a photo of the bobcat at the last minute because 
I had planned to use one of Stephen driving the tow motor at the store
 - only to realize that the tow motor is not yellow!

I also need to start compiling things months in advance rather than weeks days!  Writing rhyming verses and sing-song statements is not something that really comes natural for me.  I'm far better with prose than poetry!
I do love that it can be personal and dated!

I also learned a lot about the Walgreen's website - it warned me that some photos would not look as good when they were zoomed the way I did but for the most part, we liked them anyway.  But the edge of the page is definitely the edge of the page.
I almost didn't get Easton's name on the back cover, which was my goal!

Mike and I were pleased with our creation and we think Easton and his family were, too!  We have already begun brainstorming for our next book.  After all, we already have eight grandchildren!  How did that happen?