Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Presents in My Pockets

Every once in a while, when I pull out an old coat, sweater, or jacket, I find money in my pockets and get very excited about my find. 

An old friend of mine (gone for a couple of years now) used to tell me that in order to bring money into my life I had to act as if I already had it. 

I've always believed in affirmations, creative visualization, and positive thinking, but I needed a little help with thinking positively about money – I raised four children living at, and oftentimes below, the poverty level. So imagining I had money was a stretch.

Until I discovered that by placing money in various locations around my home, I would hear these kinds of comments from family and friends – "You have money everywhere!" And that's exactly the kind of positive reinforcement I needed. 

Now I plant money in my pockets, and though it doesn't grow, even when watered, at least I know that I have money EVERYWHERE!

Of course, now I have to change my thinking to include two more words: LOTS OF!

Friday, April 24, 2009

You Can't Wait to See Me Do This

Excuse my bragging (again).

The things kids say make me smile sometimes. Like so many kids who get excited about showing people what they can do, my grandson, Kaden, does too. The only difference is that Kaden says to me, "Grandma, you can't wait to see me do this!" (no matter what it is) 

And I laugh. He cracks me into a million pieces.

He also makes me feel special when he says in his most sincere voice, "I love you, Grandma," as he hugs me tightly. And every time I visit him, he tells me he never wants me to leave. Of course, he says that to all his grandmas – and his aunts and his uncles and his cousins. He has a special gift of making everybody feel loved.

He is pictured here with his younger brother Zac.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oh, those creative friends of mine

Creativity impresses me. When I discovered that my friend Marcia drew houses, I though, hmm, houses. OK. But when I saw the work she created, I was WOWED! Read about what she does HERE.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Never Guess What Your Child's Artwork Is Supposed To Be

We love sidewalk chalk, so every year I buy a big box of it and on the first nice day of Spring we grab our favorite color and start drawing.

Audrey was so excited about her drawing. "Look Grandma! Look what I made."

"A ladder?" I asked, making a huge fuss over it.

Her shoulders dropped.

Oh, no. I've done it again. I've ruined her excitement.

And then in typical 4-year old fashion, she shook her head slightly and sighed. "It's SpongeBob!"

That was going to be my next guess.

Friday, April 17, 2009

BIG Surprise!

2009 is a landmark year for me, one in which my 40th high school reunion will take place. I know. I'm old. But it's been 30 years since I attended my high school reunion and I thought maybe now might be a good time to attend. 

Thinking I should probably upgrade my status on, I decided to update my profile as well, by placing links to all of my articles and blogs. Guess what – classmates doesn't allow links, so I suggested Googling my name and hopefully some of my writings would appear in the Google window.

What happened next, though, resulted in a HUGE surprise for me. You can read about it here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Three Days of Bliss - Well Almost

Let me get the "Well Almost" part out of the way first. The day after Easter, Michelle (my daughter-in-law) and I were sick. Other than that and the sick people on the plane ride back from San Diego to Chicago, who didn't have the courtesy to cover their mouths when they sneezed and coughed, my trip was relaxing and fun.

Michelle and my son welcomed me as they always do, treated me well, and provided all sorts of entertainment – mostly in the form of Taylor, Kaden, and Zac.  Taylor, not yet 9, is a future drama queen – oh wait – that's now. She is extremely bright, reads all the time, and likes to entertain people, a natural actor. She is quite amusing and now that she thinks she is entering the pre-teen arena, she acts as old as she believes she is, 21. But she is truly a sweetheart and on the day I was sick, she offered to make me some tea and knew exactly how to do it.

Kaden, 4, is outrageously funny. I told Michelle and Greg that they really should invest in a 24 hour-a-day video camera that follows him around. The first night I was there, he asked, "Please Grandma, will you please sleep with me? Please? I have plenty of room in my bed. Please? I'll move over for you."

So I went upstairs to look at my sleep station, the place I would share with Kaden, a twin sized bed.


True to my promise, when night came, he turned on his TV and put on one of his DVD's. I waited for him to fall asleep. I  had told him I would probably go to my own room later, so when he fell asleep, I quietly turned off the TV, went to the guest room, fell asleep, and awoke to sobs that dragged me out of my bed:

(sob sob) "Somebody turned off my TV...(repeat numerous times)." In my defense, nobody warned me to leave it on.

I raced through the darkness into his bedroom, because I didn't want him to wake everybody else, and took a flying leap over his body that was curled into a little ball in the doorway of his room. So yes, I had a nice trip.

I can't leave without mentioning a few more people. One, for example, is Zac, my youngest grandson, 17 months old. He thinks that whenever my son is in the room, he must immediately attach himself to his daddy. He has one of the sweetest faces and one of the calmest demeanors of any baby I've ever known, but he throws himself into a tantrum much like the child in this video (it won an award on America's Funniest Home Videos, so you may have seen it) called, "Why waste a temper tantrum if nobody is around to see it????"

And then we have our other little drama queen, Ayla. Ayla is my only great-granddaughter. Ayla is 20 months old, and acts very much like her mother. Both have ATTITUDE with a capital A. Ayla would not allow me to hold her UNTIL I gave her a good-bye hug. Granted, I hardly ever get to see her, but Travis, 16, my oldest grandson, hardly ever gets to see her either. Ayla practically sneered at me every time Travis held her as if to say, "Ha ha, Great Grandma, see how much I love Travis, who I see just as often as I see you."

OK, that last part was my jealousy rearing its ugly head. I wanted Ayla to bond with me. Her mom, Sarah, always did, so I guess I'll just have to be patient.

All in all, I got to see half of my grandchildren and half of my great grandchildren all in the span of a weekend! Pure joy!

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Heart is Flying to California

So rarely do I get to see my son (a U.S. Marine stationed near San Diego) and his family, that when I do, I get so excited at the prospect of seeing everybody that I can barely sleep. I was up practically the whole last night.

I'm too excited about the trip, I guess. I will be able to spend some time with my sister before I head north to Midway Airport, so I'm excited about that as well.

All of this comes after a much needed break, where my head is still throbbing after two weeks of providing 11-hour a day daycare with a body that is completely exhausted from hypervigilance associated with two little boys who fight for supremacy, one of whom cannot control himself from hitting everybody and everything in his path. I follow him around the house gathering all of the toys he flings around, repeating my requests to keep them in one room and admonishing him for flinging them around the babies. 

If I could contain him in one room, I would, but my attention has to be shared with four, and one time this week, five, other kids. When I tell everybody to clean up the mess made mostly by him, everybody pitches in and he jumps on the couch for a time-out, knowing in advance that he will refuse to help clean and that the ultimate consequence for that action is a time-out. He's not stupid. 

Fortunately, he accommodates me during "quiet time" but the rest of the time is so exhausting I can barely make it through the day.

So why couldn't I sleep last night? Who knows. It makes no sense. You would think that if you were exhausted, your body would recognize your need for sleep and accommodate you. Mine fights me. Gotta remember to bring the taxes I never had time to complete. Gotta pack. Gotta make sure I remember my Advil Migraine medicine. Gotta remember to pack some shoes. Don't forget to print out the online ticket for Southwest Airlines.

At one point, I thought to myself, this is ridiculous – just go write these things down. But they came to me one at a time, so I would jump out of bed, write down "taxes," go back to bed, jump get the picture. I can't help but sabotage myself. Maybe the problem is that my heart is already in California and my body can't sleep without it.

So while I await 7:55 a.m. so I can print out my boarding pass, I am finishing my blog. Time to set the timer.

California, here I come!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Great Story That Didn't Make The News – But SHOULD Have

In case you didn't get a chance to read the story from the link in my last blog, I'd like to introduce you to a little girl that should have received some recognition for sharing her kind spirit.

Raena's elementary school held a book fair where Raena was given several dollars from her mom and grandma to spend at the fair. Her grandfather gave her an additional $20 for her straight-A report card. 

On the day of the book fair, Raena's mom asked her what books she bought.


The reason was because Raena saw some other children who couldn't afford to purchase any books, so Raena bought books for them.

Proud of her little Bananaface (her nickname), Mom asked Raena what she did with the rest of her money.

Raena's response: "I gave the rest to the Humane Society."

The family is not wealthy. Raena's mom is a single parent who works two jobs to support her two children. Fortunately, this special mom has phenomenal friends, one of whom is considered an aunt to those two precious kids. I know, because I'm that friend's mommy.

But before you start thinking I'm prejudiced because I know all of the people involved in this little story, I'd like to clear up something right now – even if I didn't know little Bananaface, I would feel as proud.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

noodle-ing: the truth is plain to see...

All little girls (and boys) should be as generous of spirit as this little 8-year old girl:

noodle-ing: the truth is plain to see...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Getting Over Depression

Every once in a while I succumb to my genetic birthright, depression. I hate it. Though I've been able to cope with it more lately because I finally understand that it does pass, in the past I experienced depression so deep I wondered if I would ever climb out of it. I was looking at life through eyes covered with yellow cellophane. 

Yesterday was my youngest daughter's 25th birthday. I expected that at my age, I would be writing for a living, and that I would be making money from it. So yesterday, when I realized that 25 years after giving birth to my youngest daughter I STILL was not making a living at writing, I got depressed.

I looked around at people like Cher and Dr. Phil and other successful people my age who are already retiring. I wanted to punch myself for not being successful. I climbed into bed and grabbed a pillow, fully intending to soak it with my tears, but nothing came out. I was angry that I couldn't even cry, and that was what pushed me to change my thinking.

I paced and I paced and I thought and I thought. I wanted to jump in the car and drive until I ran out of gas, then walk until I ran out of energy, and drop where I landed. I felt like a failure at everything I attempted, because I couldn't just stay home to write and research. 

Whenever I feel that shroud of depression covering me like a blanket of protection against all my imagined enemies, all of whom I realize are me, I slam myself with emotional fists, because I can't stand myself for not living up to my own expectations.

And it is in those moments that somebody is sent from somewhere (Heaven?) to save me from myself. I call that grace.

Grace, to me, is what happens to people when other people pray for them.

My mother was the first to call. My mother was the one who took me out of journalism class in high school, because she thought it was an unstable career choice, to throw me into something that would guarantee me a career – bookkeeping (I've never had a job utilizing that skill). 

I always blamed her for my inability to succeed with my writing, and I had a hard time getting over the fact that by the time I reached the age of 18, I was the one who was in control of my life.

I sometimes wonder, though, even now, how different my life might be if I had been allowed to continue in journalism. I try not to dwell on it, however, because in its place I became a mother, and I have never once regretted making that decision. 

So Mom talked to me about what it might take for me to get to that place where I would feel successful. And after a while, I began to feel better. I decided that going back to school might open doors to future success in writing.

And then my friend Denise called. And after talking to her, I felt even better. Before I knew it, I was completely over the depression and into the "do something about it phase," all in the space of three hours.

I've learned over the years that TWO THINGS can pull ANYBODY out of depression – LOVE and FAITH, even if, as it says in the Bible, faith is only as small as a mustard seed, which, by the way, is even smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. And it can come from family or friends. This time it came from both.