Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I had a birthday recently. I’m fifty-two years old.

Gradually, over the years, I’ve gotten to a place where I will declare my age to any and everybody; not because I didn’t like my age before - more so, because I didn’t want a reaction or an opinion.

So why at age forty-nine, did I begin to volunteer my age and smile as I said it.

I call it “menopausal confidence.” Why not?

Although comfortable with my age, I’m not a big, “celebrate my birthday” person. I know a birthday is coming, but as it gets nearer, I’m actually oblivious to the date. Hard to believe, but I really don’t feel different on my birthday, except when I turned fifty. I planned an outing for the five of us at Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park - to do something memorable. Turning fifty meant I’d grown up. I was free to pick, choose, deny… whenever and whatever; to be honest about who I am and what I feel.

You might “get” what I’m talking about, or you might not. Some things in life, we can’t decide – it happens when it’s supposed to. We have to go through things. It’s a process.

I digress.

I played like a child at Great Wolf Lodge. It was a metaphor for how I want to live the next half of my life (yes, I plan to see one hundred years old). I want more fun, knowledge, and adventure added to the beautiful stillness of life that is blended in with the chaos; to absorb life, internalize it – not just have things happen around me.

At fifty two, things are good. Physically, I’m in good shape - relatively speaking. I take no meds, unless you count the allergy shots for grass, pollen, mold, etc. But, I do feel the joints and muscles not working as well as they used to. Sudden twinges and sensations come from out of the blue, a sign of things to come, I guess. My mother says she “broke down” at sixty. I’m holding out for longer.

Mentally, well…hmmmm…I’ll just attribute the lapses in the flow of verbal output to a brain that is so full of “great” thoughts and ideas, that it gets overwhelmed sometimes. How’s that for an explanation.

While some people love big parties and lots of attention on their birthday, others will not “confess” their age. I went through a period of conveniently forgetting my age when I was forty-two (which seems so young now) and had three kids, ages four and under. At the time, my stay-at-home mom peers (ages 30-35) would shout in the middle of the playground, “You’re 42! Wow! I’d have never guessed.”

Translation: Those three “babies” of yours threw me off. You’re old.

This used to happen two or three times a year, but recently, it’s lessened. Guess I’m beginning to look my age. Now, I welcome it when someone says: “Anita, you look gooood!”

“Oh, thank you!” as I smile.

I’ll take what I can get.

Do you keep your age a secret? Do you hate to see your birthday come around, or do you celebrate it?
My post titled "Passion" received heartfelt comments and was said to be one of the most thought provoking. Read it (the comments, too) to see what comes to your mind. Add it to the post if you'd like.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Grandparents and Snow Boots

(Warning: clicking on "Shoe Carnival" has volume.)

I’m in Shoe Carnival, desperately seeking snow boots for my two youngest daughters. The snow is predicted to arrive within hours – six to twelve inches of it. This store is my last stop. The mad rush on boots, waterproof gloves, and snow pants by the residents of the town has already occurred. There are none; well, none that are fake-fur-lined and waterproof – not even rain boots.

As I’m foraging the aisles for an alternative, a salesperson sees me and zooms in for her “aha” moment – "another parent that I can sale fake-fur-lined 'suede' boots to, and some handy-dandy waterproofing spray!"

I buy the boots - two pairs - but not the spray; already have a can at home.

In the checkout line, a couple walks up behind me. It’s my girls’ piano teacher and her husband. She runs the studio where they’ve taken lessons for years. Jean is around sixty-five, and Dennis is a little older. We’ve become friends during the nine years I’ve known them.

One of them is holding a shoe box; the other, some miscellaneous kid stuff. The boots inside are for a grandchild. We begin the “snow discussion” about the urgent need for boots so that “our” kids will be able to play in the snow.

Yes, they consider the grandkids, “their” kids. I’ve seen Jean at their school activities, having a treat with them at Barnes and Noble, and picking them up from school; just a few of the many things they do with them, and for them.

Seeing them gives me a sentimental feeling; an appreciation for grandparents. I think of my mother, and how much she loves my children. I think about her being in another city and not having weekly contact, and I feel a little envy.

So this is a tribute to you, grandparents - those of you who do so many things for your grandkids. You baby-sit. You display their pictures on your blogs and in your homes. You feel the pain when the kids have health issues. Some of you are raising the kids.

And for those who are away from the grandkids - like my mom and step-dad - you are just as appreciated for sending the birthday cards, for talking to them on the phone, for coming to visit whenever you can, and for welcoming them any and every time they visit you. Thank you.

Many blessings to you all!

Because I had my children much later than the average age, I will be an older grandparent. My prayer is that I’m healthy and still young at heart, so that I can enjoy mine, too.

Are you a grandparent?
When you were a kid, did you have a relationship with your grandparents?

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays

Santa Claus makes his annual visit to our neighborhood, sitting high up on a large fire truck. He’s led in by an official vehicle, sounding the sirens, and flashing its lights. It’s tradition for us to come out and greet him, and to socialize with the neighbors.

The firemen (all guys) are dressed in their gear, complete with the really cool hats, passing out candy canes. The kids are excited and the parents enjoy watching them. We’re all shouting, “Merry Christmas!”

It’s a good time for "Santa" jokes, too. A couple years ago, my friend said to me, “I think Santa’s had a little Botox.” Every time I think of it, I laugh. Santa was looking quite refreshed that year.

As the firemen ride away, some of them shout, “Happy Holidays!”

Because the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” controversy continues, I can’t help but notice the greetings. For a split second, I think Santa is going to shout “Happy Holidays” too; to which I would have thought, “Something is wrong with this picture.”

But Santa was silent…just resigned to waving. The neighbors and I are calm this year and don’t coerce Santa into a “Ho Ho Ho,” as we usually do.

Oh, by the way, I heard “Happy Hanukah” for the first time while shopping - from a clerk to a customer. I thought it was very nice.

“Happy Holidays” is here to stay. It’s a perfectly cheerful greeting and it covers all bases, but let’s not get rid of “Merry Christmas.” A little common sense will let you know when to say it; especially if I’m wearing red and green, and a Santa hat on my head.

NOT! :)
What do you think about the "holiday greetings" issue?
The previous post, "Passion," has very interesting comments. Consider reading it and adding yours.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I was watching some inspirational TV while ironing, when I heard the word “passion,” and how we’re created with this innate desire. Whether you believe it’s a gift from God, or something else, it’s wonderful to discover what it is.

Why do some people "not" know what theirs is; or if they do, why don’t they experience it?

One of my passions is writing. When I think back to my childhood days, I wrote in journals, and I wrote letters to my cousins in Michigan. I loved it when they wrote back.

Another hint of my writing passion (before I could define it), was my declaration, “I can write a book on that” every time something was discussed that I had lots of experience with, or on something that I’ve seen a lot of in my life.

It took years before I actually started “a book.” The birthdays came and went. The number of my years on earth increased, while the number of years I have left, decreased.

When was I going to fulfill my passion?

I started my manuscript on being a stay-at-home mom some years ago; interviewed several moms, organized it, and began the quest for publication. But on the way to the bestseller’s list, I was sidetracked by household management duties, volunteering, and summertime fun with my family…until I discovered…blogging!

I wrote a post titled, “Why I Blog," but I didn’t connect writing with being a gift. My light bulb moment suggested that I write/blog more about it.

My horseback riding teacher had me and the girls, and our husbands, over for a Christmas luncheon. Betsy prepared a delicious meal, set a beautiful table, and had Christmas decorations in all the right places. The atmosphere was worthy of being featured on the Food Network.

Parties, entertaining, cooking...she loves it!

When I complimented her, she explained that it’s her way of creating, “like artwork,” she says.

There have been times when I didn't get it, but that day, when I looked into her beautiful face glowing with pride, I thought, "this is her gift." She said, "Everybody has one." I pondered for a split second, and accepted that mine is writing; that I can claim the “writer” title without being a great writer. "Betsy," I said, "Given a simple piece of paper and a pencil, I can put something on it – always." She told me that she can’t do that, and I know others who feel as she does.

She smiled and said, “That’s your gift, Anita; your creativity, your passion.”

What’s your passion?
I’ve heard it said that you know what it is, because you crave it and you do it even when you're not paid.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Phone

A very good friend of mine has a “first” grandbaby, born six weeks ago, and I have not talked to her yet. She lives in Maryland, but that’s no excuse, because there’s always “the phone.”

I’ve lived in many cities across three states, been employed at various places from ages fifteen through thirty-six, been a member of two churches, and now have kids at two schools. In all these places, I’ve made new friends. Many have dropped by the wayside; many, I still have. And then there are the relatives…lots of them.

How do I keep in touch!

I think I’m considered a “people person” because I can talk to almost anyone; occasionally, for long periods of time.

The problem: there is only twenty-four hours in a day. I enjoy talking, but my other interests and obligations take up significant amounts of time.

So what do I do?

When I’m home, I answer most recognizable calls, but when voice messages are left, I take days to return the call – sometimes a week or two. Ouch. I’m guilty.

Of course, I always answer phone calls from my husband…I do! But, we’ve discovered email works for us too, therefore, we don’t take up too much of each others time during the fleeting day. (My second shift starts at 2:45 when darling daughter # 3 gets off the school bus and I have to be ready to talk to her.)

Sometimes you gotta talk. It’s a girl thing. I have two close friends that are my “let me run this by ya" friends. We have to be available to each other for venting, favors, questions, and just, “how ya doin’ today.”

Oops…forgot about Mom. We talk once or twice a week. Gotta hear the latest gossip and get an update on all the latest ailments that she and my stepfather are having; plus she has to be my “mom” and make sure I’m “livin' right.”

When my phone rings in the evening, it’s typically a “quick” call from an over-worked mother. Other times, it’s someone who doesn’t have kids or their kids are gone. It’s their “free” time.

Some tell me to call back when the kids are settled, but by that time, I’m talked-out for the day.

Sooo…things probably won’t change for awhile. Just know that I love talking to you – just not right now.
Just kidding. :)

Most of you probably have limitations on your phone time, too – or do you? What’s your phone time modus operandi?

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Monday, December 7, 2009


It’s piano recital day. The middle child (11) and the youngest child (9) are performing at 11:15. Not bad. It’s Saturday; we have time to get dressed and eat without rushing.

Middle child already has her outfit planned; youngest child does not. This requires help from the mommy, who goes to her closet to make a suggestion, only to find that all the fall/winter dressy pants and skirts are gone.

“Oh, that’s right…I gave them all away,” the mommy remembers.

(See post titled, “Decluttering #1”)

The mommy and youngest child go to middle child’s closet where they find a skirt. Youngest child has to wear tights (that are more like hose) and gets upset because of the sagging crotch. The mommy and middle child tell her how to pull up the tights, but youngest child is resisting. A battle of the wills ensues and the mommy wins.

Later, the mommy finds youngest child sprawled on the living room floor; no audio and no kicking (she’s wise) – just lying there sending the mommy’s blood pressure up higher.

The husband/daddy drives to the church while the mommy tries to calm down. Her arm and shoulder feel a little achy. She wonders if she’s having a heart attack or a stroke, but it occurs to her that it’s her over-used blogging arm, which extends to the hand that maneuvers the mouse.

“That’s a relief,” thought the mommy.

Middle child and youngest child perform fairly well.

After their performances, youngest child is noticeably relaxed. The mommy wonders if she was nervous this morning before the recital. All three of her kids have done recitals for years – sometimes they’re excited and sometimes they’re not.

It makes the mommy question their interest in playing the piano and their other present and future activities. Oldest child is loving sports and is practicing daily from four until six o’clock. The husband/daddy is worried that she's not getting enough sleep because she's up late doing homework, and he's wondering if it is a good idea to do sports the entire nine months of school. The mommy thinks it is a test of mental and physical toughness.

A close friend of the mommy has a boy and a girl who have been involved in several activities and have suddenly lost interest in most. The two friends have discussed many things concerning activities, such as: the possibility of being over-scheduled, the passions and interests of the kids, the activities insisted on by the parents, the kids’ talents, letting them quit something or making them continue, academic pursuits, health, exhaustion, down time, volunteering, grades, etc. - a lot to weigh.

The piano lessons are considered part of the kids’ education and will be continued because the mommy and husband/daddy feel that it is good for them. They will assess each new opportunity or possible change as it comes along.

Do you let your child/children decide their activities, or do you decide, or is it a joint decision? I’d love to hear about some of the things they do, and I think others would too. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blogging Tip #1

My first post was on December 2, 2008. Since then, I’ve fumbled my way through learning a few gadgets and tools that have made it better and easier to communicate with my followers and readers.

Still, I have so many unanswered questions, and I know there are more possibilities out there that I haven’t even imagined that will provide me with more blogging fun.

My question for this post: How did you decide “the look” of your blog background and template?

Actually, I have more questions.


I Googled “blog backgrounds” and “blog templates” and now I have a slight headache. And, my REALLY slow computer is not helping.

Let’s see…I found “The Cutest Blog on the Block.”
I found a “Photoshop” tutorial.
I found “Hot Bliggity Blog.”
I found “Scrap My Blog.”
I found “Blogger Templates.”

How do I decide?

Is it all safe to use?

And, how do you all get those big, beautiful photos on your home page?

I’d been thinking about a possible background change for a while, when one day, I pop in to visit my blogging pal, Menopausal New Mom, and there’s her new colorful caricature blog expressing a piece of her life. It made me smile.

I wondered, “Is it time for me to make a change?”

So, I asked her (blogged her) to find out how she’d done it. She replied, "Look for Mary’s button on my page."


“What’s that?”

After scanning “her page” for two minutes, I see it – right there in front of my face. It’s “Blog Rock by Mary.”

I head over to her sight.

But what do I ask for? Hmmmm…

So, until I make up my mind, I’ve decided to change to plain ol’ Blogger supplied Minima Lefty. Oddly, I like it.

How does a blog design impact your decision to visit and read the blog?
And...I'm all ears to "hear" what you used to create your blog "look."
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Decluttering #1

The decluttering process continues.

To describe where I am, I’ll just say that I’m on a never-ending road of “Taking two steps forward, and one step backwards.”

The last time I spoke on this subject was in April 2009, in my post titled, Collector or Packrat. It was the beginning of “journaling” my recognition of having too much stuff.

Collecting stuff and sentimental attachments to stuff have been a lifelong trait of my personality, but I realize now, that the sight of it takes up too much valuable space in my brain - a brain that has gotten older and more mature, and that does not want to waste time or energy.

So, once again, I start.
I gather the troops (my three daughters) for closet cleaning. Each of them has a spacious closet filled with clothes…and you’re right…they don’t even wear half of what’s there.

The reason for keeping the clothes is to save from the first child for the second, and to save from the second to the third.

It’s not working.

The oldest child is tall. The middle child is short. The youngest child is tall, but not interested in waiting to grow into clothes from her oldest sister.

The remedy - hold the kids hostage in their rooms while asking about each item of clothing.

I am very pleased to say that we have packed fifteen bags of clothes to donate.

Where did we get all these clothes?

More than half the clothes are from my friend/neighbor, and some are from the girls’ cousin, Michelle. When we get a surprise drop-off of clothes, my girls dump out the bags and begin staking their claim on each item of clothing. I’m glad they still appreciate the generosity of others.

When the next drop-off comes, we’ll immediately pack what we can’t use.

(I should write that one hundred times on lined paper, like I had to do in elementary school as a punishment.)

There are still more clothes to donate. As I write this, I’m making a decision to be finished with packing unused clothes - THIS WEEK!

Check back with me.

Are you saving clothes? Do you still have that “almost new” jacket from 1990 – waiting for it to be stylish again? Or maybe it’s the abundance of clothes that are too little that you’re waiting to fit into again? Hmmmm…
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