Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Big Bang World Record

this is an awesome experiment called The Big Bang World Record tag. Misty Dawn posted this and it reminded me that Linda the 911 operator had tagged me for this about a week or so ago and at the time, I was busy and "back-burnered" it and then, horror or horrors. I forgot about it! Since then I've been tagged by several people to participate in it and when I saw this tonight at Misty's place, it reminded me that I better get off my lazy butt and post it -and do it NOW too!

It's simple. You just copy the list, add your own list of bloggers, post it on your blog and send the list back to Mel at Monday Morning Power to be added to the master list. This meme will do wonders for boosting your Technorati score! So here goes.

*START Copy Here*
1-Attitude, the Ultimate Power 2-Juliana's Site 3-Rusin Roundup 4-Grow Rich Along With Me 5-Comedy Plus 6-lynda's loft 7-Amel's Realm 8-MAX 9-Speedcat Hollydale 10-Mariuca 11-Complain Complain Complain 12-Mariuca's Perfume Gallery 13-Life Is A Roller Coaster 14-Sugar Queen's Dream 15-First Time Dad 16-Life 17-My Life 18-The Painted Veil 19-My Thoughts 21-Little Aussie Cynic 22-A Nice Place in the Sun 24-The Down Side OF Up 25-Ladyjava's Lounge 26-Cat Tales 27-moms.....check nyo 28-Colorado Baby 29-It's a Woman's World 30-ENLIGHTENED BITS 31-My View of "It" 32-My Reviews and Finds Along the Way 33-Our Hep Chat 34-Rantings of a Woman 35-The Callalily Space 36-Mom Knows Everything 37-Hazel 38- Chronicles and Tales Unlimited (RED) 39-From the Mouth of Jabber Jaws 40-Sunny Side Up Foodie & Lifestyle 41-Carmel Corn 42-Daily Stock Picks 43-The Whole New World 44-Wifespeak 45-Slavery Bliss 46-Rooms of My Heart 47-Unpredictable Life 48-My Life, My World 49- At Your Service 50-All About Ebay 51-Everything Amazon 52-Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out 53-My So-Called Site 54-New Wife Blog 55-Tendre Poison 323 56-Nick's Bytes 57-My Scratch Pad 58-Choc Mint Girl 59-Life Is Just Around the Corner... 60-Amori, poseia, art... virtuali by Hanna 61-Maryannaville 62-monaco - monaco's 63-Nyumix's Blog 64-read my mind - my keyboard monologues 65-Shower You Children With Love - The Right Way 66-Secret Agent Mama 67-Pinaymama's Diary 68-Answers to the Questions 69-Work of the Poet 70-A Total Blog 71-My life, my hope, my future 72-NORTE 73-A Window to Our World 74-Life as a Mom 75-FIELD OF DREAMS 76-lisgold 77-See Me for What You 78-Caught in The Stream 79-Pinay Mommy Online - My Home 80-I'm Running To Win Two 81-CRUEL VIRGIN 82-Garden of Moments in Blog 83-So Cute 84-Love Everlasting 85-WeLcOmE To My CriB 86-WELCOM TO PINAYSMILE'S JOURNEY 87-Ice's Icelog 88-Jenny's Wandering Thoughts 89-Hobbies ans Such 90-Sweet Paradise 91-Mommy's Gibble Gabbles 92-Rusin Review's 93-My Small World 94-Little Peanut 95-Online Ramblings 96-My Mood My Feeling 97-BLOG it with ALLEN 98-Entertainment World 99-Let's Go Singapore 100-Firelynx 101-Catsy Carpe Diem 102-Every Beat Of My Heart 103-Always Da Fresh Princess 104-Listening.. Learning..Living 105-All About Mars 106-Syii From Afar 107-Some Thoughts I Have 108-From Here and Beyond 109-My Paid To Blog 110-Scholarship Corner 111-Cell Phone Review 112-"Apples of the Eyes" 113-It's All About Play 114-The Luttrull Journey 115-RennyBA's Terella 116-Unchained Melody 117-Out of the Blue 118-The Lure Of the Unknown 119-Maricel's 120-my blog 121-Spiff, the Spaceman 122-Living Well 123-The Dog Log 124-Catnip Corner 125-A Piece of Idea 126-Observations From the Back 40 127-Poetry by The Redneck Gypsy 128-Odd Facts 129-Juliana's Lair 130-My life is murphy's law 131-Mimi Writes 132. Lifecruiser 133. Marie Millard 134. Huma B Post
WTIT, Linda, Comedy Plus, Mimi Lenox, Ian, Bond, Crazy Working Mom, Sanni, Hammer,
Julie, Lyn, Speedy, Knit For Joy, Gill, Lee, Jamie, Maggie Moo, Carol, Colin, Work of The Poet, Mauigirl's Meanderings, Hahn At Home, Shinade, Dixie, Anndi, Asara, Lance, Kathleen Maher, Nola Dawn, Observations From the Back 40, Patti, Misty Dawn, Random Autumness, Frank, Screw Perfection, Olga, The Traveling Bra, Trav, Andrena, Akelamalu, Blog-Blond, Lois, Gattina, Deana, Butchy and Snickers, Desert Songbird, Katherine, Jeff, Daisy, Bee, Mo, Turnbaby, Misty's Words - Down River Drivel -

*End Copy Here*

Now, all of you reading my blog, just copy this over into a post of your own, add your blog name and the bottom and presto, magic, you're done! Don't forget though to link back to Mel at Monday Morning Power though. OKAY?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Case of Mistaken Idealism

One of my best blogger friends, Vic Grace -from way up north in British Columbia - just informed me that she has given me an award. It's called the "Blogging Mentor" award and here's what it represents from the person giving it to the person receiving it:
This award is “to recognize and thank those who help us on our path to blogging, be it encouraging and helping us to start blogging or helping us to be the best we can, once we have started.”

Vic claims I have been instrumental to her and her blog by being a cheerleader, of sorts, for her.

Now, I won't deny that I have on many occasions tossed out a few comments her way that were intended to tell her good things about her blog. But they weren't put out there just to cheer her own, to make her feel good about herself and her blog. They were put there because they were the truth. Plain and simple. Because Vic writes a really terrific blog as well as showcasing her home, the countryside around her home -flora and fauna both -with some really outstanding photographs too from time to time.

She also posts on topics that she doesn't just have a feeling for but things that she has gone to great lengths to provide documentation, studied data and condensed this into a very interesting, readable format then for readers, such as myself -probably many others who otherwise wouldn't know the story behind the story, you might say.

So, although it is a great honor indeed to have Vic bestow this award on me, it is really Vic who is the one who has been, more often than not, MY mentor and not the reverse there.

Now to spread this Mentor Award further within the blogosphere, here are my choices of bloggers I believe -along with Vic -live up to the ideal of being classified as a mentor.

Linda the 911 Operator Here's a blogger who never fails to entertain but she, like Vic, frequently puts a lot of research into her posts with historical details, photos and the like. She also started a very admirable addition to her blog with a memorial she is keeping to pay tribute to fallen law enforcement officers, firemen, emergency personnel who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. She does this because of her own commitment to working in that field, knowing the difficulties these people must endure in their day-to-day duties and because of that, it's her belief they deserve at least that little bit of a means to give just a little extra meaning to what a valuable service all the people in this line of work give to all of us. If anyone has a question about blogging, and especially those who venture into the paid blogging sphere, Linda's a great "go to" person who, if she can't answer the question directly, usually has a good bead on someone who can.

David McMahon
- Next on my list is this very prolific blogger -who also just happens to be a writer/journalist/photographer as his base occupation. David writes a fantastic blog -on which he frequently posts many photographs he's taken in his travels around the world, as well as from his current home in Australia. Reading his blog, viewing the photographs he has taken and posted, he often also adds in many, many pointers as to how others can work with the written word or images to create works the blogger can surely be proud of in the finished product. Got a problem, a question -one needn't hesitate to ask David for assistance as he's there in a flash with a response and great, quality instructions to help others any way he can. Those who are regular readers of David's I'm sure will also agree with me that he is also probably a master of the art of puns, bar none! Don't believe me -just go see for yourself and then come back and tell me he isn't superb at that fine art.

Barb - alias "Skittles"
- Now here's a lady who is just that - a true LADY! Knowledgable about blogging, willing to help resolve little nitty-gritty annoyances that pop up from time to time with these pets of ours -our blogs, of course -Barb will try to assist any way she can. She also puts up a really terrific blog -sometimes with very deep, thoughtful posts, other times, with little "quickie" questions and whenever, wherever possible, she generally manages to interject little bits of humor to her readers as she goes about her quiet, unassuming way. Often, her open, frank, up-front postings of her own trials and tribulations from her past, as well as her present circumstances give the readers much insight about daily living and trying to overcome obstacles that often get placed in our paths.

Those three bloggers -along with the others on my "favorites" list -have all contributed greatly to my trying to keep things going with my own blog. I couldn't do this without contributions and input across the board there from all of you my readers, my favorites, ya know!

There is one other blogger I would like to give this award to but to do that, it will be an award to the memory of a gentleman who in the short year I came to know him through his blog, through our many communications over that time via e-mails, was truly MY Mentor and that would be the late Bob Johnson, a man of many talents who lived in Alberta, Canada. I first stumbled across his old blog -"Letters I Wish I'd Sent" -which consisted usually of a letter he would compose that would address many and various topics -mostly things people did that really aggravated and irritated him. Occasionally, these "letters" were serious presentations but most of the time, they were classic sarcasm, outlining the foolhardy actions of people. In the short time I "knew" Bob -using that term loosely as I never met him, never spoke to him on the phone, but felt like I knew him and he knew and understood me -he also put out several other blogs such as "Bob's Odder Blog", or "Rotten Robert" and a few more too. He was just a great guy who, before I became acquainted with the likes of Linda, David, Barb and Vic, answered many a question I put to him. Bob died quite suddenly this past November, just before Thanksgiving, and although there are none of his classic posts remaining on his old blogs, I still have him listed on my "favorites" roll simply because that's my way of remembering what a great guy, a wonderful friend, he was to me during that time.

So there you have it folks - five people who I credit greatly with helping me to work through questions, problems, writer's blocks - you name it - virtually anything having to do with my blog!

Each one, and as I said above, all the other bloggers I have listed as a "favorite" has contributed to my desire to keep blogging, to try to learn, hopefully improve and also from time to time entertain a little, maybe even pass along some information of my own to some along the way.

You're actually then, in that respect, my "blogging mentors" you see.

Big Wheels Turning -and other things

Last week, my son was only home for roughly 24 hours before he had to go back out on the road so I didn't have a chance to see him then. It was almost looking like this week might be the same thing as when he got in yesterday afternoon, he didn't know if he'd have to go right back out this morning or not.

He wasn't all that happy with his "time at home" because now that he has a girlfriend, he'd like to have maybe two nights at home anyway.

Last week, he left here about 7 a.m. to go to Hagerstown, MD where their terminal is located and where he and his co-driver would get their bills, find out where they were heading. They sent them first to Fort Worth, from there to Phoenix and after Phoenix, on west to California. On their way back east though Saturday afternoon, they were able to take a little bit of a break and stopped at Laughlin, NV -or someplace near there -where they were able to connect with my ex-husband, had dinner with him and even got to watch some type of race there too. Cars are one thing my son and his dad definitely have in common - both love 'em!

And of course, Saturday night, once they got back on the road, "favorite son" HAD to call his sister here and rub her nose in the fact he'd not only seen Dad, but had dinner and went to see a small race event with him too. The air here was a bit blue for a while after she hung up the phone from that call. The kids each love to rag the others any time they have contact with Dad -whether it just be a phone call or, in Clate's instance, the opportunity to actually spend some "Quality" time with him.

And all of that action and interaction each has with their Dad, even though they try to play "heavy-heavy, hangs over head" with the other siblings over these things, (it's really all in good fun), it does make me feel good for them that they are finally engaging in some type of relationship with their father. There were so many years that were really painful for all three of them where he was concerned. Years when he rarely called them, even rarer were the times he actually remembered a birthday and Christmas, if they were lucky, he might send a check to the older girl for her to get presents for herself and her brother and sister, from him.

Today, he's very pleased to be able to talk to them on the phone, see Clate every now and again when he's passing through that area and he makes sure now that he remembers birthdays, calls the grandkids even from time to time although Alex, the 10-year-old, is really the only one who will talk to him on the phone. A couple times, Maya has come through and said a couple words and I think maybe on two occasions we even got her to sing some little song she has learned but usually, when you try to get her to talk on the phone, she immediately averts her head and starts saying "Oh no, no, no! No talk, no talk!" But yet, she carries around an old cellphone that had been her Dad's and will carry on imaginary conversations on it with "someone" -not sure who it might be she pretends to be talking to there. Kurtis isn't quite up to conversing with anyone just yet - in person or on the phone. His vocabulary right now consists of saying "Uh oh" and once in a while, if we are admonishing him by saying "uh, uh, uh, uh" (in place of saying "no no" to him, he will respond by imitating those sounds but other than that, he's not an orator -no of intelligent, understandable words -as yet.

Because when I had last talked to Clate, he figured he might be going back on the road this morning, when I woke up today around 6 a.m. and realized we had had some freezing rain over night, I was a bit concerned about him and his partner having to drive down over the mountains to Hagerstown early this morning. But around noon, to my surprise, my son pulled in the parking area out front so I knew then they hadn't gotten a work call this morning. We had a cup of coffee together, kind of got caught up a bit on what had been going on here over the past week and I had invited him and his girlfriend to come down for supper tonight -if they wanted to do that. He wasn't sure what their plans were when he left but said he would let me know.

However, when Mandy came home from work, she asked if I'd seen him today and I told her yes, around noon. And she said she'd talked to him on the cellphone when she was leaving work as she saw him drive past her over in Clearfield. He had told her then he didn't know if he and Teresa would be down tonight because her daughter, who works at a bank in Harrisburg, had been robbed at work this today!

Wow! Talk a bout a shocker there! He said Teresa was, obviously, quite worked up over this chain of events. Thankfully, her daughter was unharmed but boy, I can just imagine how I would feel if something like that ever happened to one of my kids! I'm sure it would take me a good bit of doing to calm myself down after learning of something like that -even if it happened just to a friend, much less a family member.

He just called me shortly before I sat down to write this post though to tell me they weren't coming down tonight but will be down tomorrow for supper as he found out they won't be going out tomorrow morning now either.

That's fine and dandy - I can handle having them here for supper tomorrow although he's not going to get ravioli then. Since I know he loves ravioli, I had decided beforehand I would make the sauce for either spaghetti or ravioli and then, depending on if they were coming for supper or not, we would have one or the other type of pasta tonight. So, since they won't be here, looks like it will be spaghetti for us then!

When I got up this morning though, the first thing I noticed was that the tv was not on. This is unusual because I always sleep with the tv playing and I knew I hadn't turned it off. Katie was in the bathroom getting ready for school but I knew she wouldn't have turned it off either so I clicked it on only to find --nothing! No reception! THe cable was out. Rats! If the tv cable was out, that would mean I had no internet connectivity then either ya know. I clicked on a game program I'd left open last night though and it worked so I was a bit confused then. But, when I tried to actually log into my blog -nothing - I knew something was awry. Also, the lights on the modem -normally 4 green lights are on solid and the fifth light -sort of an orangy-yellow -is flashing and all I had was one solid green, one flashing green and the orangy-yellow light was flashing. I called the help desk and that's when I learned we'd had an ice storm during the night.

When Kate was ready to leave to go next door and get ready to catch her ride to school with our neighbor and her daughter (the neighbor teaches special ed there), since the cable was still out, I told Kate she'd best call over and find out if maybe the school was on delay today. With no cable tv, we had no way of knowing if school was on delay or canceled or what. Good thing I had her do that too as they were on a two-hour delay!

This also meant then that Maya would not have school at all today because if the regular school is on a two-hour delay, they automatically cancel the preschool program then for the day.

Now Tuesday morning is the day Kurtis has therapy with Roberta, the occupational therapist, who works with him to try to help tune his fine motor skills and does some exercises with him too that will help him with some of his sensory issues too. That also meant that I would have Maya to contend with while Roberta was trying to work with Kurtis - a deal that sometimes works ok and other times - well, not so good. Today, for the most part, it went fairly smoothly.

Kurtis was eating breakfast when Roberta arrived so she took over feeding him and when that was finished, the first thing she got out was a new item. It's a ballpoint type pen but it has a battery in it and when you turn it on, it vibrates. Considering some of his sensory issues, this is a good implement to get him accustomed to trying to use it. He didn't appear to be afraid of the vibrations or anything, but instead, he just wanted to try to figure out a way to take it apart. Why is it at his tender age, already he wants to take everything apart? Maya was the same way with many of her toys and so was my son! It must have something to do with maybe an inner aptitude for mechanical stuff or something since my son-in-law is a mechanic, my ex-husband is also a mechanic and my son - well he still loves to take things apart too.

Maya was seated at the table too, finishing up her breakfast when Roberta whipped out this pen and a pad and gave them to Kurtis to mess with -and to try to get him to hold the pen and scribble on the pad with it too. After he played around with it a bit, Roberta handed it to Maya to let her draw with it on the pad. Maya had been bouncing back and forth a bit from the table to the living room and back though and hadn't been paying attention initially when Roberta had first given the pen to Kurtis so she'd not seen -or heard - it vibrating until Roberta handed it to her and turned it on.

Boy, wish you all could have seen the look on her face over that! She quickly backed away at first and her eyes got about as big as saucers. You could see that at first glance -and hearing too - she was a bit frightened by it until Roberta showed her that it really was just a pen. And Maya loves - really LOVES pens, pencils, crayons, markers - all kinds of stuff like that, so she adapted very quickly to it and really enjoyed playing with it, trying to scribble while the pen was vibrating under her fingertips.

By the time Roberta was ready to leave though, both kids were chasing about the house - back and forth from the kitchen to the sunporch to the living room - round and round -and Maya, having a new person to show off for, was also starting to get a bit rough with Kurtis too. (She most likely has a touch of jealousy here and there and does frequently enjoy giving him a little nudge - just enough to topple him over and totally tick the poor little guy off then. As Roberta left, her parting words to me were to the effect that she would say prayers for me that the two of them didn't drive me bonkers!

By 1 p.m. though, after Uncle Clate had been here and gone, Maya started to get ornery and tempermental with me - pitching a mini-meltdown which involved slapping me. Now, this has become a recent problem with her and we've been trying to discipline her that behavior like that is unacceptable. I asked her if slapping Grammy was something nice girls do and she said "No." So I know she's aware then that this is wrong for her to do that. I asked her if she knew what happened to little girls who slap grammies and she said "No" again though. Hmmm. So I told her well, they get sent to the couch in a "time out." And apparently the teacher at school has been using "time outs" because as soon as I said that, Maya started saying "No, no - no time outs, no time outs."

But Grammy reigns supreme here - once in a while - and I got her over to the couch, situated there and then told her she had to stay there - do not move. She started to yell and fuss with me and I put my finger up to my lips and said, very calmly, very quietly, "Not another word." At first when she saw me and heard me do/say that, she gave me a little grin until she saw by my eyes, that this was not a game, not funny and this time, Grammy meant business! I think I had to repeat myself three, maybe four times, lowering my voice each time and then, she got very quiet. I walked over to the computer and sat down, fully expecting her to be up and running around but she stayed there, quiet.

Within about 5 minutes time, she was sound asleep -as was Kurtis then - and Grammy had a very quiet, very peaceful afternoon then!

Roberta must have a special connection with her prayers is about all I can say about that little miracle here today!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Hot" Merchandise

Last Sunday, when Mandy, Maya, Katie and I went to our regular church service, we walked into a very chilly building. Seems the oil tank to the church furnace had gone dry. This morning, the head of the church's property committee, who is in charge of overseeing all things like that for the building, announced at the beginning of the service a report about how it happened that we ran out of oil.

They have the church on an automatic delivery program through one of the fuel suppliers in this area and, having dealt with that company myself for many years, I know their methods of predicting fuel usage are usually very reliable. So, when the Property Committee man ordered more fuel and explained to the supplier that we'd run out, they started checking into how this could have happened. According to the fuel supplier's records of our usage last year and the temperatures then compared to the temperatures, etc this winter, our usage had been charting so that they were anticipating that we would need fuel two days after we actually ran out. But then, the oil company started checking into some other records of our usage and determined that this year, the temperatures and our day-to-day charted usage should have put us at a point that we should only have used roughly half the amount of oil as we had used last year over the same period. This set them to looking into if there were other problems -perhaps a slow leak or some faulty equipment or some such but everything all checked out fine and dandy - just that the church had used 500 gallons more fuel that we had last year and the guy at the oil company informed the property manager it appears that apparently over the past so many weeks since the tank had been filled, someone has been slipping in behind the church and helping themselves to the church's oil!

Now that, to me, really takes nerve to steal oil from a church! I can understand the plight of probably a lot of folks around here what with the fuel oil prices and all that, and also, our church has often tried to be very generous wherever and whenever possible to people known to be having some rough patches, financially, by helping folks out with a little extra money here and there for fuel emergencies and such but to just come and steal roughly 500 gallons of fuel - which is what the fuel company approximates we should have had on hand last week, well, that is really nerve to end all.

The upshot of all that mess now is that they are going to have the cap for the fuel tank fixed so that it is under lock and key now. How sad isn't it that even churches are becoming the victims in the rising fuel cost mess this country is in today.

After church today, the congregation held their annual meeting in which all the various committees and organizations within the church gave their report on what services they'd done over the year, what their financial status is, their plans too for the coming year. The meeting also involved electing another female member of the congregation to the Church Council too. This was necessitated because one woman member of the council had served the maximum amount of terms allowed within a set time span so we had to choose another woman to replace her then on the Council.

As I had left the booklets with copies of all these reports and financial statements in the car in our hurry to get in to the building before the service started, as soon as the service ended, Mandy had run out to the car to grab those papers for us to peruse during the meeting. Right after she left her seat, a lady sitting across the aisle from me came over to me and asked me if I would be interested and willing to serve on Council again. I had served a term on Council many years ago -back when Mandy and my son were both pre-schoolers and though I had enjoyed doing that, I stepped down after one term because of work commitments I had then. I told her that my circumstances now - never know from one day to the next how I'm going to feel, if I can move around enough to be able to get out regularly to attend the meetings, so I would not want to do that now. However, I mentioned to her that I had been going to talk to Mandy about maybe going on the Council since she wants to find ways to do more for the church if possible and I really believe if she were to do this, it would be a very good experience for her in many ways - to see, to learn, how the inner workings of the church operate and such.

My friend asked if I thought Mandy would do it and I told her I thought she probably would but I would ask her as soon as she came back in from the car. My friend then said well, if she will, I will nominate her and if she won't, then I am going to nominate YOU so be prepared. I talked about it to Mandy when she came back and sat down and she decided that she would be willing to do this.

When the Council President, Ernie, got to the place in the schedule to fill this vacancy and asked for nominations, my friend did nominate Mandy. Then a neighbor of ours nominated another lady, very good church worker too she is, so we had to cast votes then to determine who would be the incoming council representative. Ballots cast and counted and another member of council presented the outcome to Ernie, the Council President. He then announced that Mandy had been elected to serve a term on the Council and welcomed her into that position.

After doing that, he then stood there, kind of scratching his head and said "You know, I hate to say this but I just don't know who this Amanda Wagner is." Now, keep in mind Ernie has known all three of my kids practically forever - especially Clate and Mandy - as he has been a member of the parish since shortly before they were born so I know he knows them but apparently the name just wasn't registering with him then.

Well, when he said that, Mandy was sitting beside me and happened to have her head down looking for something in her purse but when she heard him say that, she sat straight up - I mean almost like a soldier coming to attention and blurted out loud "What? You say you don't know ME?"

When Ernie heard that he turned to see who was speaking and when he did and realized it was my daughter Amanda, things clicked on then in his mind - he just didn't recognize her by her married name! He laughed and said "You? Yes, I guess I do KNOW you now don't I?"

It was a neat comic relief moment in what usually is a very serious setting there and everyone had a good laugh over the whole thing ya know.

After we got home from services, Mandy was getting ready to go shopping this afternoon over in State College with her best friend. Her friend though was going to have to take her younger son, Matthew, who is about 15 months old with her and Mandy had already figured she no doubt would have to take Maya with her too - to keep peace for everyone involved that is.

However, over the past two days of Maya's playing in the living room and scattering toys hither, thither and yon and not being made to clean up before going to bed, Mandy told her if she wanted to go shopping with Mommy and Nancy and Matthew today, she would have to first clean up all her toys and get them put away because if she didn't do that, then she would have to stay home with Grammy.

So initially Maya did agree that she would do this but as I think probably all four-year-olds are wont to do, she kept procrastinating about actually doing any "picking up" stuff. So Mandy was after her then, trying to prod her a bit here and there to get busy or if not, she would be left at home.

She reminded Maya about a little song Maya has learned in preschool - "Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up" is how it starts and Mandy kept saying "Clean up, Maya, clean up. Just like the song."

Then I interjected by singing the first line only I changed the words a bit -"Clean up, Clean up, Maya has to clean up" and when I sang it that way, Maya stopped dead in her tracks, turned and looked at me and said "NO! It's 'Clean up, clean up. EVERYBODY clean up." And I do mean she really emphasized that part of the "EVERYBODY" -not just Maya doing it! Too funny isn't it though how kids can grasp so much of some things -when it is convenient for them to do so anyway!

Eventually -with a little help from Mandy - she did get her toys all picked up, the room cleaned up and away they went to go shopping. Maya is becoming quite the "shopping queen" too -gonna be just like her Aunt Carrie, I'm afraid!

Bill had some vehicles he had to go work on so that left Kurtis and Gram here all alone - to our own devices. Kurtis opted to sleep and Grammy had already decided on what she was going to fix for supper so I got started and made a batch of Swedish Limpa Rye bread (4 loaves) and I also made a big pot of homemade Potato Soup -ala a recipe I read last night in the blog post of one of my favorite blog spots - "This Eclectic Life" by Shelley Tucker.

The bread came out very good and so did the soup! Everyone said it was very tasty so if you're hungry for some good old Potato Chowder, then go check out Shelly's blog post titled "Potato Chowder" and print off her recipe there for that stuff. Pretty tasty soup, even if I must say so myself here! Try it, bet you'll like it too!

And that pretty much sums up how my day went today.

How was your day by the way? Report in now, give the details, will ya please?

Counting down to February

Here it is already the end of January. Hard to believe, isn't it, that one month of this year is almost completed, done, finished?

Time really does fly especially when you're having fun and what better way to have a little fun than to read a few friendly little expressions from our fearless leader. Right? Come on, say it, you know I'm right, don't 'cha? So here goes the next week's worth of those lovely Bushisms.

Monday, January 28, 2008 - 358 days left

"My views are one that speaks to freedom."
Washington, D.C., January 2004

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - 357 days left
"The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself."
--Grand Rapids, Michigan, January 20, 2003

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - 356 days left
Vice President Dick Cheney's Birthday, 1941
"We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."
Dick Cheney

Thursday, January 31, 2008 -355 days left
For several years, Google users could type "Miserable failure" into the search engine and be taken directly to the official White House biography of George W. Bush. However, on January 31, 2007, Yahoo!News announced that Google had fixed this "link bomb" glitch.

Friday, February 1, 2008 - 354 days left
"I think we need not only to eliminate the toolbooth from the middle class, I think we should knock down the toolbooth."
-The New York TImes (as quoted by Gail Collins), February 1, 2000

Saturday/Sunday, February 2 and 3, 2008 - 353 days left and 352 days left
Released tapes prove that Enron, which was Bush's top career patron until 2004 and among his top donors in the 2000 election, was responsible for the rolling blackouts in California as part of a price-gouging scheme.
The New York Times, February 3, 2005

There you have 'em - your week's supply of the wonderful and witty, DUBYA!

Enjoy mulling them over for the next week.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Heavenly Days (and nights)

You know that song "Heaven, I'm in heaven" -I have no clue who wrote it, who sang/recorded it and those are the only words to it that I recall right now too -but that's where I am now!

Well, ok -I'm still alive (at least semi), kicking (oh, not doing a high step, but walking anyway) and wow, am I happy now too!

Why? Because I am in "Cyber Heaven." I arrived at that place yesterday about 11:30 a.m. and I have to say it that having a broadband connection truly does put me into heaven - a cyber heaven.

The cable guy - no, not Larry, darn it - but a heck of a nice guy all the same- arrived here around 10:15-10:30 a.m. - not bad scheduling and following the company's time alert there, is it Dave? By 11:30, he had drilled a couple little holes in the floor behind my computer desk - guess that means this puppy will never get moved to another area of the house now, doesn't it? - and had the modem installed, had me all hooked up to the lovely world of a high speed internet connection.

By 1:30 p.m., I had contacted the help desk and had my new e-mail account set up and I started sending out mass mailing then to everyone in my e-mail address book to notify them of the change of address for me. I had asked everyone who received that mailing to please just click on the reply button and send it back to me so I would have some idea as to whether they had received the new address or not and throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, I got lots and lots of e-mail from folks and many had some really nice comments with them too about how happy I was gonna be with this new -and way, way much faster set-up. There is absolutely NO COMPARISON of broadband to dial-up where the speed is concerned!

I was going to do this post last night and report in shortly before midnight to give everyone a run-down then of my first twelve hours on high speed, but frankly, I was exhausted by then, my eyes were going crossed from having read so much stuff online yesterday, and I crashed within five minutes of my head hitting the pillow on the couch!

So, how did I spend my first twelve hours anyway?

I read blogs - my favs - as well as lots and lots of recommended blogs from other blog favorites! I e-mailed, rather profusely too -responding to many who commented on how much I was gonna love the broadband thing. I got many of my really important other e-mail address changes done too - like to the bank, mortgage company, Verizon, etc. I even viewed four you-tube videos too!

The very first one was a video that my blogger buddy, Sunshine, had on her post for yesterday -a cute little puppet show thing pertaining to Harry Potter stuff. I think it played for about 4-5 minutes and all I could think of while watching it was that had I tried to download that with the old dial-up, it would have taken probably an hour or two before I'd have been able to view it. Instead, when I clicked it on from her blog post, it opened and began playing INSTANTANEOUSLY! Can you believe it?

You've all heard me mention a time or two - or ten - in the past about how I longed to be able to just click the mouse and the page would open then and there -just like it does on one of my favorite tv shows - Law and Order. Well, this was just like that! Incredible, isn't it?

One of my old pals from the Writer's Life group I belong to had sent me a video when she replied back to my e-mail address change notification and this video played for almost 11 minutes! Under the dial-up, to try to download that piece would either have crashed my system or it would have been sitting here, spinning away for the rest of the week to bring up a video that long for my viewing! And let me tell you this too, thank you so much Sandy for sharing that one with me. The 16-year-old and I watched it and howled, just howled laughing at "Achmed, the Dead Terrorist." Anyone who hasn't seen this -and can easily view videos -who would like to see it, just drop me an e-mail and I'll gladly point you in the right direction for loads and loads of laughs with that one.

Now, if I want, I can view the videos my buddy Saedel recommended on one of his recent posts last week (sorry Saedel, but I haven't gotten around to watching them yet), or when I have more time to spend playing with videos, I can go back through oodles of posts in the archives at Skittles place and finally be able to view her selections then too. Something I've had to forgo and skip over in the blog world in the past ya know.

Because of the ease and speed with which I could whip through reading my blog favorites on my reader now, I found myself adding more and more bloggers to my reader to add to my daily pleasures too. I must have added at least ten, perhaps 15 more blogs to my reader yesterday.

And finally, last night, I spent about 2-3 hours working on my research and because of the speed with which I can now open up those old newspaper pages, I was able to read about 80 pages of the old newspaper that I had "hits" on my search terms for - a task that would have taken me at least two days worth of reading to achieve with the dial-up service. I might actually now be able to finish my research there sometime in this lifetime now.

Is it any wonder that my old eyes were really tuckered out after a mere 12 hours of being in cyber heaven?

And now, I'm off to playing today - doing much of the same thing as I did yesterday and will no doubt be enjoying it even more.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dividing Lines

A few years back, when I was writing for a now defunct local monthly publication, I did a piece about how it was when I was a youngun' -growing up in this little village. Things were a lot different then from the way they are today -for which I am quite thankful. Reading various pieces this week pertaining to Dr. King, his birthday, his life, the many contributions he made in his short lifetime too reminded me, once again, of how things used to be here.

My hometown - where I still live today -is in central Pennsylvania's mountains. It's a little village, off the beaten track; quiet, generally very peaceful, a great place (most of the time) for kids to grow up. Not much happens here that is noteworthy much of the time.

I was born and raised here - ok, that's a little redundant now isn't it. But, because of that, because I know and understand many of the things -the idiosyncrancies, as it were - about the area, I still love it, warts and all, ya know.

This area, until pretty much the late 60's, early 70's though was still quite often a very segregated village. Bias, prejudices and the like were often very rampant when I was a child and didn't start to go by the wayside, at least somewhat, until those decades. Ok, in some homes here, I suppose some aspects of those things still exist but not to the extent they did back then.

The segregation here though was not based on race or color but rather on ethnicity and religion and it did keep the village very much divided for many, many years.

The bulk of the population here consisted primarily of people whose ethnic background was either Swedish or Slovak and the religious factors divided people yet again by Catholic or Protestant. (Although there were other protestant churches here or nearby, the bulk of the protestant community was Lutheran -the Catholics either belonged to the church in the village that was mainly Slovak (still even had sermons done in Slovak when I was a kid) or they went to the Catholic church in a nearby area that was a tad more liberal.

My Mom was a bit more lenient about some of the segregated aspects that existed here but my Grandma -not at all in that direction!

When I was about 8 years old, I was invited to a birthday party for a little girl who lived down at the end of our street. Because her family lived directly across the road from my Grandpa's older brother and his family and they "neighbored" with them, Grandma had decided then that even though this family was Slovak as well as Catholic, that it was ok -they were safe - for me to attend their daughter's birthday party.

Little did she know at the time what a life altering event that would prove to be for me!

When I came home, both my Mom and Grandma were pumping me for details about the party - who was there, what does the house look like inside, what kind of refreshments did the mother serve.

I began telling them about the food because that was what really impressed me the most. Usually, other kids I associated with when there was a birthday celebration, it just amounted to kool aid and a cake -ice cream too if we were really lucky, but that was it.

This party though -the mother had fixed several dinner-type dishes - all of which were very good but one in particular really caught my fancy. I began to describe this delicacy, which is was to my tastebuds, to Mom and Grandma and ended up begging, almost on my knees, for Grandma to please, please, please make this sometime. The family called this entre "Halupki" but I later learned in English, this is Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.

I loved them on first bite and have maintained that feeling for them for close to sixty years now. But if you could have seen the look of shock - the horror that registered in my Grandma's eyes stemming from the fact I had eaten "Slovak" food and what's more, I had LOVED it. Well, you'd have sworn they had kidnapped me and brainwashed me or some such thing. It was my first real introduction into the bias and its depth here in the village and right in my own home.

After that, I was a bit cautious as to how much I told Mom and Grandma about some of the other friendships I had developed. Because the village was pretty much divided based on one's ethnic and religious backgrounds, the section where I lived was mostly people of Swedish origin with a couple families that were Slovak, but also Lutheran. Of all the families on our street, only three were Catholic and of them, our next-door neighbors fell into that category. But, since they had moved in there and Grandma had slowly gotten to know them - and determined they were actually very nice, very good people, they were "acceptable" and I was allowed to play with their children.

Well, I really didn't just play with their kids - I darned near lived at their house! They had a very large family - 13 children (11 girls and 2 boys), plus a fairly large assortment of granchildren too when they moved in and with me being an only child, playing over there was like dying and going to heaven! Kids all over the place ya know.

Now Mrs. Little - the next-door neighbor - and her family all attended the Catholic church in the next little village over from ours - the one that had a reputation for being a tiny bit more liberal, not so hard-nosed about associating with other groups and such and as a result, if I happened to be at their house (when WASN'T I there?) and it was a holy day, requiring special prayer time and such, she had no qualms whatsoever about shipping me off upstairs to the girls' bedroom where the kids would all gather to say these special prayers and I had to pray right along with them.

By the time I was about 10 or so, I knew all the usual prayers - Hail Mary - a couple others as well -that were required of any good Catholic child to learn. By that time too, I had also determined that it would not be a wise move on my part to share that little tidbit of information with my Grandmother either or I would find myself no longer allowed to associate with that family at all, you see.

Watching the way this type of bias, prejudice and segregation operated here in my own surroundings and knowing the kids from my class who were strictly off limits for me to really associate with after school, made it very easy then as I started to learn about racism later in school to see it as the evil it was and not something I wanted to be part of in its perpetuation.

I always thought it was rather odd too that at church, one of the favorite songs often chosen to be sung in Sunday School was "Red and Yellow, black and white, all are precious in his sight" but yet, the same principle didn't apply across the board to those right here, right under our noses, who were deemed different and also, unacceptable too then, based on their ethnicity and religion.

About 9 years ago - when I got my first computer - and began surfing a lot mainly for geneology information and forums pertaining to family tree research, I came across a posting from a lady who lives in the Cleveland area. I recognized her name immediately. Her younger sister had graduated from high school with me. I knew this lady by name but didn't "know" her mainly because she was four years ahead of me in school plus the fact their family was Slovak, they lived in the predominately Slovak-Catholic section of the village and therefore, association was pretty much off limits as I was growing up. But I e-mailed her and we wrote back and forth, sharing little bits of information. It was an association that has since opened up to a friendship I really cherish too.

As it turned out, the more she and I wrote back and forth, discovered we both had a deep love for history - especially of this little village and its people -we shared things about how it was here when we were kids. Seems that she and her siblings were raised almost identical to me - taught that they were not to associate with those bad people in the other part of town - those Swedes, those Lutherans!

Anne and I laugh about those days and our beginnings frequently. We also both realize it was sheer ignorance of other cultures that created that problem in the first place. And, it is also with regret that we realize now what we missed by NOT having the opportunity to broaden our knowledge bases as young children by learning other cultural groups traditions alongside those of our own family or religious groups.

As I said at the beginning of this post, in the late 60's, early 70's, things began to change here, slowly at first and then eventually opening up. Two people who I credit with being able to really bring that change about were the pastor of our church in the early 70's - Rev. Thomas Rundell - and a young Catholic priest who had grown up here, was a year older than me and who realized the folly of the ways of the village in the segregated way things had always been - Rev. Robert Humenay. Pastor Tom and Father Bob met and were able to strike up a good friendship which slowly -but surely - began to spread and take hold throughout the town and within the churches too.

When the people from the Catholic church in town who were members of their church's choir joined forces with the choir from our church to present a beautiful Christmas Cantata back in 1987, I felt the old ways were finally disappearing from most of the people in the community and good riddance to them too!

Actually I sense a year or two earlier when our parish had built a new church to replace the building that had been struck by lightning and burned to the ground back in 1967, and they had the dedication ceremony for our new building that things were definitely changing. What prompted me to realize that then was that the local Catholic priest (of the Slovak church) actually attended this ceremony and that was a sight I had, as a child, never thought I would ever live to see happen. He had always been one who had been adamant about his parishioners NOT associating in any way, shape or form with any of the other local churches and by doing that, had been one - along with some of the old-line pastors we had then too - in keeping people apart, keeping those restrictions as absurd as they were, in place all those years.

I'm really grateful this change took place here and the old stereotypes, biases were on their way out when my children were growing up as it made it that much easier for me to teach them that racism and segregation - of any type -is wrong and does much more harm than good.

At home, meals in my house are such a mish-mash of ethnic foods - my kids and I eat more dishes that are Italian, oriental and yes, Slovak-Polish in origin than we do food of our own ethnic background.

And that reminds me - I think tonight for supper I'm gonna fix a big batch of Haluski - another favorite Slovak dish. Translated - that would be "Fried cabbage and noodles" and it's one food item that rarely gets any turned up noses when it gets placed on the table too! Now, I just have to figure what, for meat, I will fix to go with that.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

There's some change coming here and I'm not referring to the "change" being bandied about all the time by every single one of the candidates for the presidency either!

What change is this? Well, it's going to change my mode of operation FOREVER! Yes, indeedy! Gonna help me get organized, save time, stop procrastinating, overall, just going to be the very best thing since sliced bread, it is.

Those who've been reading my blog for sometime have heard me rant -no, I didn't just rant, I flat out bitched, long, hard and profusely, about my lovely, stinking, good-for-nothing dial-up service. I hate it - have hated it for almost three years now with this provider. Until last spring, about all anyone down in the valley -or gully- or gulch -however you care to call this part of the village -had no recourse but to use one of the small assortment of dial-up services available in this area. Being back in the boondocks, we are among the last to get anything that is a decent upgrade of services ya know -typical for this area, that is.

But last spring, our lovely tv cable company had sent out a notice that they were making broadband connectivity available to their cable consumers here and I began giving that idea some thought at that time. I was hoping to hold off till Verizon would finally get the lines upgraded so DSL would be available here and be able to take advantage of their offer -a nice special where you could get DSL at $14.95 a month - FOR LIFE -if you hooked up with Verizon then. But, as is typical remember for this hillbilly region, you know a package deal like that, one that would be really affordable, wasn't going to take place any time soon - most likely with the speed Verizon moves, it probably won't even be available anytime in my lifetime come to think of it!

But I have mulled over this idea of getting the broadband since last May now. My neighbors across the street had signed on for it last spring or early summer sometime and they seemed happy with it - no problems to speak of at any rate. But I still kept secretly hoping for that really good-priced Verizon deal to become available to me before I lost my cool completely and tried to commit some kind of hari-kari with some representative of my lovely dial-up service over the phone some time.

Finally, this week, I made a decision. A lot of that came from some communications late last nite via e-mail with the lovely Smalltown RN and her equally wonderful and helpful husband as he dictated and she typed explanations to me about the broadband, dsl and a few other -but very expensive options -that might be available in this neck of the woods. I slept on that information and when I got up this morning, the die had been cast and I determined I would remember to call the cable company and make the arrangements to do the big switchover to BROADBAND connectivity!

Yay, Yay, Yay! Or, in Maya-speak, "Do-yay, Do-yay, Do-yay!!!!"

My current slow-you-know-what-kind-of-dial-up-service is paid up through the middle of next month so that gives me that much time to work on notifying everyone in my e-mail address book of the change of e-mail address for me. That also gives me that much time to, hopefully, locate all the little services I subscribe to via the internet and get the change of address thing done with them too! That's the part that scares me the most -if I'll be able to track down all those things and find my user id and password for each one and get that straightened away too.

The cable company representative is scheduled to be here this Friday morning between 10 a.m. and noon to get my connection set up and all that stuff taken care of so by Friday evening and over the weekend, I'll be well on my way to enjoying internet service that brings pages up for my viewing pleasure with a speed almost as fast as they have on "Law and Order" ya know! My dream, yes indeed! Think of all the you-tube videos I have missed out on viewing and I can now have a field day, watching video after video after video! Again, yay, yay, yay!

So cross your fingers, shake the rabbit's foot (if you have one), do a little prayer for me that all goes just as smooth as glass to get this wonderful addition to my computer all safely - and correctly - and speedily - installed then!

Verizon, can you hear me now?

(Can you tell I'm happy, excited too?)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Some "GREAT" Ideas!

Tonight - or this morning -(use whatever term you prefer but it's dark outside so I will call it "night" anyway) I'm gonna talk about some ideas -a couple that to me are really great ideas.

One -that is something I'd love to see and if you look at my sidebar, I think you can also get the picture a bit - PEACE!

Peace, sweet peace, that elusive entity I'd like to think everyone would want, would certainly appreciate it too. Sometimes though, I do wonder about the mentality of people here and all around the world too and what they think peace means, what it could do for society as a whole, and why some factions seem to think by lobbing bombs or hand grenades randomly in market places, or at military installments, or world capitols -or wherever or however this is done that it makes for a more peaceful society. Well, not quite - not in my book anyway.

I love that song -"I'd love to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony" - you know the melody, probably the words too I'll bet. But let's face facts, there is no way I - all by my little lonesome self - can ever teach "THE WORLD" to sing, much less in perfect harmony. Much as I might like the lyrics there - the meaning behind them and all that - it just ain't gonna happen that way. I know it. You know it. THe whole doggone world knows it. So what's the point?

Well the other day my buddy Diane told me about this other blog and blogger and the "EveryDay Kindness" concept. I read what things Diane had to say - also the blogger who originated this concept and you know what? I liked it. Yeah, just like the "Life" cereal commercial with little Mikie ya know I "like it."

No, I am not of the belief that simply ascribing to this concept will cure all the ills in our society, across the world today but you know what? Trying to do little things - baby steps as it were - or one day at a time, one person at a time attitidue, it sure as heck can't hurt anything now can it?

Why don't you take a little time to go visit Diane's place, then stop by "Everyday Kindness" and see for yourself what this is all about. Then, maybe you'll think "Hey! I can do that too. And, I want to do that too!" Easy as pie and putting for just a teensy bit of extra effort to be even a little bit nice -or hopefully, nicer - each and every day, might just be the ticket to getting an international peace effort on its way!''

It's painless and sure worth a try -at least I think so anyway!

Back on the homefront here, did I mention to you in my post yesterday -when older daughter, her fiance and my grandson, Alex, were here than today -Monday, that was -January 21st -was Carrie's fiance's birthday? I can't remember if I put that in or not yesterday. But anyway, even after I so rudely fell asleep on the couch after dinner with all my kids and grandkids here, I would doze off, wake up, fall back to sleep again but it seemed that each time I woke up, Maya was singing every time - "Happy Birthday to you, dear Robert" -and I thought boy, isn't that nice that she's doing that!

This morning, I'm out in the kitchen getting a cup of coffee and Maya is sort of just floating around, unsure as to what she wants for breakfast while Mandy is trying to talk to her about her morning meal when all of a sudden, out of the blue, Maya looks up at us and says, quite matter of factly too, "Today is Robert's birthday." Yes, sweetheart, that it is. I went one step further and said "Maybe we can call him later today and you can sing "Happy Birthday" to him on the phone too." Mandy shot me an evil glance and reminded me then that she had sung that to him yesterday, ad nauseum. True, she had done that but my thought was that since she remembered it today and since she generally WON'T talk to anyone on the telephone, it might be enough impetus there for her to make an exception to that little rule of hers too.

A little later in the morning, talking on the phone to my son, I reiterated this whole story of her remembering it was Robert's birthday and my son began to chuckle. "Mom," he said, "You know Robert is just as nice a guy as he can be an very polite and all but yesterday, I kept calling Maya over to me and whispering in her ear to go sing "Happy Birthday" for Robert - which she did at each time I told her to do that! Poor guy was probably about going nuts hearing her sing that over and over again but you and I both know he'd never say anything against her doing that!"

Ah ha! So the lightbulb came on in my mind then. Here I had been thinking all along her doing that yesterday was all of her own free will, her own volition when all along it had been good old Uncle Clate and his love for pranking people that had kept her going on that track. Oh well, whatever it takes you know, is my theory there.

We are, after all - if nothing else - a family who dearly loves to do little things that aren't really nasty but can occasionally be a bit irritating just to have some fun with others in a family gathering.

If I'd been fully awake and aware of what Clate had started, no doubt, I probably would have been right there beside him, instigating some more renditions of "Happy Birthday" for his listening pleasure too.

Hey, we're family - alike in many ways you know!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sleepy Sunday

Technically, it is now Monday so why did I title this "Sleepy Sunday?" Because from about 5 p.m. or so till after 10:30 tonight, that's what I was and sleep -well, that's what I did! And it wasn't because I was up all night last night either. No, last night I was asleep by 10 p.m. But as my system likes to lead me by the nose ya know, I was awake, unable to go back to sleep then by 4 a.m. and up from then till I crashed late this afternoon.

Mandy, Kate, Maya and I did manage to make it out this morning to church though. Just about froze our collective keisters off too, we did! Boy, was it ever cold today!

Got to church and one friend of mine there came up to me as soon as we walked into the narthex, advising me NOT to hang my coat up because it was very cold inside there today. Seems the furnace had run out of fuel and the church council president was out getting some cans filled with fuel oil. He didn't make it back in time even for the end of the service though. I generally don't hang my coat up anyway because even if the heat is on and all is functioning normally, I tend to freeze easily. (My delicate being that I am you know. )

All things considered - who we were dealing with there this morning (i.e. Maya), things went fairly well. She didn't go into any meltdown at any rate and that is a big bonus right off the top!

Before the service began, she was playing with a little children's paper that's available as a means to try to keep kids quiet and occupied during the service. She had a pencil and wanted to write but then decided Mandy should write things on the paper for her so they had a little game going then where Mandy would ask Maya how to spell various names, etc. She knows how to spell her own name and occasionally, she can figure out - or remember, whatever - "Mommy" and "Daddy." Now and then she even remembers how to spell "Gram" too. Today, at first, every name Mandy asked her about, Maya insisted they all started with an "S" - where she got that or why she was fixated on that particular letter, who knows. But, it all worked well to keep her busy, happy and relatively quiet -although Maya's version of a whisper is really much more of a very loud stage whisper so people at least three pews in front of us could easily hear her. That, plus the fact attendance was quite low today too - probably the fact we currently have no minister and the really low temps didn't quite make getting out of bed, leaving one's nice warm house very appealing.

Shortly before the service was to start, my neighbor next door, her children, a family friend and her daughter's boyfriend all filed in to the last pew - about two or three seats behind us. Maya spied them and of course, started pointing to each one, naming them - including calling out when she spied Alina's (Neighbor's daughter) boyfriend - "There's Oscar!" That, by the way, IS NOT his name but for some reason, Maya refuses to call him Chris and since she began identifying him, she has always called him "Oscar." Fortunately, Chris doesn't object - actually seems to get a big chuckle out of it. After about 5 minutes after the service began, Maya decided she HAD to go sit with Lina and "Oscar" so away she went. (Fortunately, Lina and "Oscar" don't mind when she comes to visit and sit with them for a while at the services, so that works quite well then too.)

She was back there with them for maybe 5 possibly 10 minutes and then came back up to sit with Mandy and me - Kate had moved back to sit with Deb and her family as soon as she saw them come in.

Maya was back to playing with the paper and pencil but dropped the pencil and it rolled under the pew in front of us - which happened - thankfully - to be empty. She tried to get down on the floor and retrieve it from our pew but couldn't reach it so Mandy let her go up and get the pencil. Always a bit scary to allow her out of your reach because you never know if something -or someone else - will catch her eye and she may decide to go on a little roaming amongst the gloaming ya know. Today, things were on our side as she picked up the pencil and came back and sat down.

Moving along - time for the sermon - and the lay person from our parish who was in charge of the service today had even prepared a little "children's sermon" and prior to beginning the regular sermon he asked if there were any children who would like to come up and sit with him for the children's sermon. Now, this is something we've never advocated Maya try - for obvious reasons - but when she saw a little girl across the aisle (Jenny) and the neighbor girl, Kylier, go up there, she decided all on her own, she wanted to go up to the altar for the children's sermon too. It was with a lot of trepidation that Mandy let her go and trust me when I tell you this, our hearts were in our mouths too because you never know what she's liable to pop out with either! She went skipping down the aisle and surprised the heck out of us when she sat down at the altar beside Kylie and just sat there, quiet, nice, very well-behaved and when Lee had finished the children's sermon, she came back to our pew just as nice as can be too! (I really think a lot of these behaviors have come about thanks to the preschool program she's been enrolled in since this past September.)

Well, now comes the real test though - the full sermon! Those things can be tricky even for adults to cope with at times. Let's be honest - you know I'm right there. But a four-year-old with autism -it can be downright disastrous. Today, she was fairly good although she started getting restless, wanting to crawl under the pews and such and at one time, Mandy reached down and caught her arm, to retrieve her. Bad move! When Mandy did that, there was a very audible sentence that came from Maya - "You're pinching me!" Then, as Maya got situated back in the pew, Mandy had her arm again, trying to help her get settled and again, Maya spoke out - loud enough that I'm sure everyone heard her as she looked at Mandy and told her "You're hurting my arm!" Trust me, Mandy didn't even have a firm grip on the child, much less one that would have pinched or hurt her in anyway. She does know pretty much now how to "pick her battles" I guess you could say. There were other things she said and did -too many for me to remember right now but overall, her behavior was quite good and she really made both Mandy and I proud for trying so hard to behave properly today.

We got out into the car and were heading up to the local grocery store and Mandy was giggling because she had her cell phone with her in church - had it in her purse on vibrate but throughout the service, she was getting text messages on it from Carrie -my older daughter. So as we pulled out from the parking lot, Mandy called her sister to see what was going on. As it turned out, Carrie said she and Robert had Alex (my grandson) this weekend and they were planning to come up this afternoon. I had Mandy ask her what they might like for dinner and Carrie's response was "Chicken." So now, I had to figure out what to fix for dinner today and also, to pick up some chicken at the store. I decided I would fix not one, but two large pans of Chicken Divan, because the family generally all really likes that and one pan would make for too skimpy servings. So I picked up the necessities to fix that, got a copy of the Sunday paper and headed out to the car to put the stuff in the trunk.

Let me tell you - I don't have a clue what the temps were this morning but by the time I got the trunk open, four small bags in there, close the darn thing and get into the car, my fingers were like mini-icebergs! Man, was it ever cold! I could hardly wait to get home, get a nice cup of hot coffee and a fresh donut, plunk myself down at the dining room table with the Sunday crossword puzzle and relax, enjoy a bit of brainteasing with the old crossword thing. I swear, I am addicted to that thing in the Sunday paper! Can't seem to get my system to kick into even low gear until I have that little routine over and done with.

So, about noon, I started preparations of our meal - got the broccoli cleaned and cooked, same with the chicken. Fixed a bowl of baked beans, made two apple crisps and coleslaw - all was done, ready for Carrie, Robert and Alex as well as my son, Clate and his girlfriend, Teresa, to roll in. And, considering the fact Carrie is normally late for any family function, we were wondering what time we would be able to eat since Carrie had said they would be here around 3 p.m. I was thinking if she runs true to form, it would be 5 p.m. probably - at least -before they got here.

Imagine my surprise, my shock, when they pulled in out front at 2:19 p.m.! Astonishing! Yes indeed it was! I told Mandy that she, Kate and I should all stand at the entrance to the dining room and as Carrie walked in, we should clasp our hands across our chests and say (in Fred Sanford style, ya know) "This is it, "Lisbeth. It's the big one. I'se comin'!" Mandy decided she didn't think that would be a good idea and would probably only serve to piss Carrie off so my idea got voted down then. However, someone else in the family didn't get the "we won't do that" drill and as they were walking down the sidewalk, Maya blurted out "This is it, Lisbeth!" No one coached her at all to say that!

Sitting at the kitchen counter then, talking to Carrie over a cup of coffee, I told her what I had wnated to do and that Mandy had nixed the idea but then Maya had piped up with that little phrase. Carrie was howling laughing then and her comment to me was "Are you sure she's really autistic and just not sarcastic?" Some times, it does make one wonder.

Maya was zipping all over the place then - sometimes not being all that well-behaved either and at one point, I had reprimanded her for something or other she'd done and as she walked away from me, she muttered, under her breath - "Bitch!" Which immediately brought about a lot of finger-pointing and blaming as to who she'd probably heard say that - who was at fault there more, me or Mandy and we decided that is more likely a "Mandy" phrase. Not that I don't say that from time to time, but it is more common to hear Mandy mutter that most of the time here.

After dinner -which by the way, turned out very nicely, if I do have to say so myself, I collapsed on the couch! Pretty much just folded up like an accordion and fell asleep then! The kids decided to get a game of monopoly going and I would wake up every now and again to peals of laughter and shouting insults and wisecracks back and forth from them playing that game at the dining room table but I just couldn't bring myself to get up and go join in with them.

It was just nice to lay there and doze in and out of sleep and hear them - enjoying each other's company - no arguing, except over little events within the game and that was all in fun.

Just made for a really nice, peaceful visit with my kids on a really, really cold day in mid-January! Something to be very thankful for you know - that we could be together, enjoy the camaraderie of family together here.

And, how was your day?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Shock and Awe!

Boy, we already THREE weeks now - gone -into the new year. Doesn't seem possible does it?
How times does fly, especially when you're having fun.

Just so you can have a little bit of extra fun for the coming week, here's the Bushism's for January 21st through January 27th, 2008!

Monday, January 21, 2008 - Martin Luther King Day -365 days left -one year to go!

"One year ago today, the time for excuse-making has come to an end."
--Washington, D. C. January 2003

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 364 days left

"Then I went for a run with the other dog and just walked. And I started thinking about a lot of things. I was able to --I can't remember what it was. Oh, the inaugural speech, started thinking through that."
--US News & World Report, January 22, 2001

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 - 363 days left

"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."
--Nashua, New Hampshire, January 2000

Thursday, January 24, 2008 -- 362 days left

"He was a state sponsor of terror. In other words, the government had declared, you are a state sponsor of terror."
--Discussing Saddam Hussein in Manhattan, Kansas, January 2006

Friday, January 25, 2008 -- 361 days left

"See, one of the interesting things in the Oval Office -- I love to bring people into the Oval Office - right around the corner from here --and say, this is where I office, but I wan t you to know the office is always bigger than the person. "
--Washington, D.C., January 2004

Saturday and Sunday - January 26/27, 2008 -360 and 359 days left

"I've been to war. I've rised twins. If I had a choice, I'd rather go to war."
--Charleston, West Virginia, January 27, 2002

There you go - a weeks worth of shock and awe. Aren't they just that though - shock and awe?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bears, Bunnies and Little Boys!

Sometimes, maybe my readers might get the impression I don't share enough about my little Duke here - Maya's little brother, Kurtis. I don't post all that much about him, haven't shared all that many photos either of him for that matter. And, it's not because he's not photogenic - cause he's is one little cutie pie -at least I think so anyway!

Just I suppose that Maya, because of her age, that she is vocal now too, seems to have all kinds of things almost every day as well that pop up to write about, and well, I do that then.

Tonight though, as I sat here reading my favorite bloggers' most recent posts, Kurtis was really a very busy little beaver. I learned the hard way the other night if I want to read anything, I don't dare to sit on the loveseat to try to read -unless that is, he is sound asleep. His playpen is back-to-back with the loveseat and he dearly loves to stand at the edge, reach over and clasp on to whatever might be within reach of his little fingers. For me, the other night, he was grabbing my hair -not hard mind you - but just gentle enough that you felt a slight tug. He was also pulling on my shoulder, even at one point, got a grip on my shirt and gave it a yank that pulled it up hard against my windpipe for a second or two too! Yeah, he's a strong little guy, for sure.

Tonight, we found out just how strong he really is too.

His dad was sitting on the loveseat, trying to watch whatever was on tv at the time and Kurtis got a grip on the two pillow that make up the back of the loveseat (they are big, loose pillows) and he managed to pull them out and away from his dad's back! Pulled them off the loveseat, over the back of that and plopped them -both of them -into his playpen with him! Then he set about to find a spot where he could lay down in the playpen too but that's when he realized I think that he'd slightly overdone his redecorating of his space there. No room at the inn for two big pillows, plus his special bear and bunny pillows and him!

If you look over his right shoulder into the floor of the playpen - yes, the floor is there -somewhere - but right then it was pretty much covered over by one of the back pillows from the loveseat. He barely had enough room there with ONE of those pillows in there with him to stand at the edge of the playpen and lean over it a bit so Grammy could get this picture of him.

Here he is -still with one pillow in there behind him - but you can see by that big grin on his face just how proud he is of his physical prowess - to be able to lift that pillow away from his dad's back, pull it off the loveseat and over and into his playpen! Yes, he is a strong little guy, for sure. Also, as you can plainly see, he's very photogenic too, isn't he?

Here he is now - all tuckered out from that remodeling and with the loveseat pillows removed and back to form the back of the loveseat too. Those bed buddies of his - the one on the left is a fuzzy bear pillow and the one on the right is actually a pillowcase but it is in the softest, fluffiest furry stuff, with the great big ears of the bunny it's supposed to be. My dear cousin, Beatrice Ann, sent the bunny up to our family reunion the summer of 2004 - when Maya was almost a year old. She had her sister Rita, deliver that bunny pillowslip to us at the reunion and Maya loved it but more as a toy. (Maya's sleep necessity was then, still is to some degree, her special hand-crocheted yellow baby blanket made for the shower Mandy's girl friends had for her before Maya was born -made by the mother of one of Mandy's good friends, not by me. It's a lacy design -sort of -and I'm not too good at crocheting designs like that with the finer baby yarn too boot. ) The fuzzy bear pillow was also a gift from cousin Beatrice Ann. Mandy, Maya and I had gone down to Virginia for a weekend in 2005, when Maya was about 20 months old then, and we had gone over to check out the IKEA store at College Park, Maryland which is where Beatrice Ann found this pillow and insisted Maya had to have it! Again, Maya used it more as a toy but Kurtis - no way. The bear in particular is his special sleep aid! He HAS to have that with him. Sometimes, he has it on the floor of the playpen and does put his head on the pillow part, other times, he will wrestle with it and end up with the bear over his head too. Just depends on his mood I guess. We really didn't realize just how attached - or dependent (you choose the term there) he is to that bear until this past Monday when Mandy had removed it from the playpen, along with "Mr. Bunny" and put them both in the washer for a good cleaning. Kurtis had been awakened a bit earlier than normal that morning, had therapy with the speech therapist, then his breakfast and after that, he was ready for a nap. Until that is, he realized neither Mr. Bear or Mr. Bunny was anywhere to be found in his playpen! Horrors! He didn't really fuss all that much or loudly, but he did dance around the playpen, couldn't get himself comfortable with any blankets either until after about 2-3 hours, both items were all clean, dry and soft and fluffier than ever when Mandy put them back in the playpen. He latched right on to that bear, had his face buried in the bear and was out like a light in less than about five minutes!

And, here he is again - just so sweet, sleeping away, peaceful and content. As I look over my shoulder at him right now, he has the bear across his backside, keeping him warm and safe and all cozy and nice. Looks so doggone angelic though, doesn't he?

Now, how much do you wanna bet that although he has been very peaceful about going to sleep tonight - even fell asleep maybe a tad earlier than his usual time that tends to be around 1 a.m. -yes, my grandson is a true little night owl, following in the family footsteps behind his Grammy and some of his great-grandma's brothers and his great-great-grandfather too -but how much do you bet within about 5-10 minutes after I shut down my computer playing for the night, grab the blanket and crash on the sofa here, he will start to whine, whimper and groan a bit. Seems to have his timing to do that just about the time I start to doze off too, he does! If that's all he does is make a few noises, I'm safe and he'll go back to his sound sleep.

But if he sits up, or heaven forbid, decides to wake up enough to stand up, I am gonna be dead tomorrow! You can make book on that one!

So cross your fingers, toes, throw salt over your shoulder - whatever - and hope he just makes a few little noises when I decide it's time for me to hit the sack too!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cheer Up!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket What little things do you do for yourself when you're maybe down in the dumps, feeling a bit blue, at times?

This is something that at times is difficult for me because I have problems from time to time with depression and there are times when it will get a pretty hard grip on me, that I will have to work extra hard to get myself somewhat back on track again.

Then there are other times when I'm maybe just a tad out of sorts -not really in the throes of the nasty depression but it takes a little nudge to bring me back, up to par again.

Often, when I feel the twinges of depression starting I use my blog - either to post about what is annoying me -if I am really aware of what is causing my "issue du jour" -and sometimes, just going down through my favorite blogger posts can help avert the depression from my door at least for another day or two.

I enjoy posting things here about my life, my family, especially as you all know about my grandchildren and many of the antics Maya does on a day-to-day basis - either just writing a story about her or as I did yesterday, posting the pictures of her "bedhead" beginning of her day. I hope my readers get a little chuckle here and there from some of the things I write about. I wish some of the stories that I have in my mind of various events in my life that if/when I share them with you, they will come across as funny - many of them anyway - to you as they did to me when they actually happened. But that's not a guaranteed thing that it will happen that way - what I see and humorous, downright funny, etc., in the telling, the story may lose a lot of that bit of excitement, that belly laugh that perhaps I had when it actually took place. Blame that on my inability to write things in a manner that will put it out there the way I'd like you to receive it.

But tonight, I got a message on a post that I was the recipient of another award - this one from a new blogger friend - Dottie - at Dottie's Place. Dottie has a very friendly forum on her blog - about her family, kids, pets - just a nice pleasant place to go visit and it's definitely the kind of read that would cheer anyone up. But that's what she's given me -an award that say I do that for her. Wow! Makes me feel pretty doggone good there to have someone say that about me and my lowly little old -if maybe a bit long-winded most of the time - blog!

This award originated here - and it is indeed A Nice Place in the Sun - to stop by and share some fun - and also to pick up any number of awards if you've a mind to hand some out to your favorite bloggers too while you're there.

Because frequently I do get a lot of good cheer from reading the blogs on my favorites list - and really, it's very hard for me to discern and say hey, I want to give this award to this blogger, etc., for having done that to me - cheer me up ya know. But I am going to take the hard road tonight and I am going to give this award to a couple of specific blogger friends who do really cheer me up -often a lot and much more than they realize too -even though I really do think every last one of those on my favorites list deserves this award. If you want to hand this award out though, please stop over at that Nice Place in the Sun to pick up the code for the award and be sure to give Ann credit too for having made it if you pass it on to another blogger. Okay?

That said now -here goes! I hereby award the "You Cheer Me Up" award to

Linda - for her great posts about her family -husband, sons, and her extended family as well. Linda's younger son was recently diagnosed as autistic and obviously, I really appreciate reading of the strides he's beginning to make now with the therapy.

Claire - yes, that "cheeky little brit" as Linda, the 911 operator nicknamed her a while back rarely fails to cheer me up with her outrageous humor most of the time. Once in a blue moon, Claire is really serious too but much of the time spent on her place is done while shaking my head and saying "I can't believe she just said -or did - that!"

Diane - at Forks Off The Moment - Diane is a fairly new addition to my blog favorites list but reading about some of her thoughts, her escapades, her cat Siren - she always manages to cheer me up too!

Mahala - at Hidden Mahala - Here's another blogger who almost always makes me laugh out loud or at the very least brings a smile to my face as she tells about her hero - Craig Ferguson - or the people she works with at the "insane asylum" -and lots of other little stories about events and happenings where she lives in "Frog Pond Holler" -some great stuff comes out from her fingertips tapping on the old keyboard there.

And then - there's this blogger - Meloncutter's Musings - anyone else here who already reads this blog will know and understand why I really get lots and lots of hearty chuckles from reading his posts. If you haven't ever read it - just be forewarned because the air may be a bit rancid there at times if he's in a certain body state. You have to read it to understand that last sentence if you haven't done so already. He really can write a great post -serious once in a while if he wants to be but he also rarely leaves his readers without a good laugh to start your day!

And that's who I selected for my "Your Cheer Me Up" bloggers for today. I may have to come back and reassign this award to others to at later dates - just to let all my favs know how much they - and their writings - really mean to me!

Now - go forth and write and above all - have a great day!