Biblical Application or Brotherly Aggravation?

Bob and I have had our local grandsons staying with us for several days. Grand-parenting is like taking a refresher parenting course, except you don’t care what grades you get because your only job is to enjoy the kids and to return them alive and well to their parents.

I was pretty worn out by the end of each day, which may have had something to do with the fact that the days started before the sun got up, which is something I usually avoid with great vigor. But I don’t think I was as tired from slicing a couple of hours off of my nightly sleep as I was from the activity. And the chatter. And the laundry. And the food preparation, which I am not used to doing on a daily basis for multiple meals, but I found that I still am quite capable in that arena. So that’s good. I guess.

Mostly, though, I just enjoyed having them around, except for homework time. The boys are both in double digits now, so they are fairly independent in their studies. But I received a note from the teacher that said something like – have your student finish the rough draft of his research paper, format it to look like a pancake, send it to someweirdgoofyname.net to ensure he gets credit for completing the task. The words download, reload, or unload may or may not have been used.

All right, those are not the exact words, but they are close enough. I handed this over to my husband who didn’t receive it with the confidence he used to have when dealing with our own kids, lo, so many years ago. Somehow or another, between the two of them, they figured out how to crack the code and get ‘er done. Since our laptop computer was in use and not theirs, we had diddly squat to go by, but my sweet and capable husband figured it out. If he hadn’t been here, I probably would have kept the boys home from school. I know that would have been wrong, but that would have been the price that my son and his wife paid for having us watch the boys.

My favorite part of their stay was being privy to some interesting conversations between the two of them. They are very close in age, so they’re always together. I was driving them home from school when one of them yelled at the other, “Hey, get your finger out of my ear. What are you doing?”

Boy 2 – “I’m just doing what it says in the Bible.”

Me – “There is nothing in the Bible about sticking your finger in your brother’s ear.”

Boy 2 – “It’s in Matthew, Mark, or, I don’t know – one of the gospels. I was going to get the wax out of his ear, but then I remembered I had to get the wax out of my own ear first. I did that, so I stuck my finger in his ear just like the Bible says.”

Me – “I’m certain that you have that confused. First get the log out of your own eye, then you can get the speck out of your brother’s eye. There is no mention of ear wax.”

Boy 2 – “I think it means the same thing.”

Me – “Now I know you’re messing with me. Just keep your fingers out of each other’s ears.”

They were laughing away and on to the next aggravation by that time. I almost got to use my old line, “You may never touch each other again.” Almost. Or my other old line, “Just because I’m laughing doesn’t mean that what you did is appropriate.”

My husband and I have raised three sons and a daughter. Watching our grandchildren grow up is such a blessing, so much fun, and really tiring. I should be ready for them to come over again in a couple of weeks. Just, no homework please.

 

The Real Broom Challenge

I don’t like to make sweeping statements, but this broom thing that’s trending is crazy – just crazy enough to present an opportunity. In case you haven’t heard, it was “reported” (with accompanying pictures) by someone on twitter that NASA said the gravitational pull on February 10 was such that brooms would stand upright on their own.

                It’s brilliant that this feature was engineered into the simple broom.

Every parent knows that once a child is old enough to properly use a broom without poking a hole in or through something, they will never voluntarily touch one (unless they’re playing Harry Potter) much less sweep anything. Until now.

So, don’t poo-poo that experiment. Expand on it. Ask your child to see if the broom will still stand on its own after it has, for example, been used to sweep the patio or the front step. What effect does the dirt picked up on the straw of the broom have on its ability to remain upright? Try this in ten-minute intervals and see if you can Tom Sawyer your way to having every concrete surface around your house cleaned.

            This broom wouldn’t cooperate. Everybody’s got an angle nowadays.

Of course, NASA’s involvement in this “experiment” is just a myth. They have stated on the NASA twitter account that, “Basic physics works every day of the year.”*

But if you can get your kids to get some work done with a broom, well, that’s pretty close to rocket science in my eyes.

(*Click here for the full story of debunking the broom hoax from sciencealert.com.)

Onward and Outward

We may not all be in the same place. We may not all believe the same thing. But every now and then we all need to be reminded to look up.

This was demonstrated to me as I watched the Super Bowl last Sunday. As the cameras panned the audience, some people were on their phones. I wonder if I would have been numbered among those folks if I had shelled out a few grand to see the game live. Watching at home we have the ability to rewind to what we miss, but in real time, we need to stay focused or we’ll miss a lot.

How has living in a rewindable world changed the way we live? (more…)

I will not spin. I will not be spinning. I will not have spun.

This is my convoluted, conjugated New Year’s Resolution (not revolution).

The earth is spinning on its axis at approximately 950 mph here in Florida. I can handle that. All other spinning is bad for me. Except maybe spinning a yarn, which should not be confused with spinning facts. In this politically-driven climate, I won’t go there. That could make my head spin.

My main goal so far this year is not to get dizzy. And when I say get dizzy, I mean experience vertigo – not to be confused with the Alfred Hitchcock classic film starring Jimmy Stewart, which I have experienced via television and it did not make me dizzy at all.

I don’t want to make your head spin, so I’ll get to my point. I truly do live a wonderful life (final Jimmy Stewart reference). A big part of that wonderfulness is family. So, when our daughter asked Bob and me if we wanted to go in with them on a family Christmas present for the six of them to experience Universal Studios, we did. Of course, we decided to tag along.

They are huge Harry Potter fans. I think I saw a movie or two back in 2004. I also read the first book, as I had to know what all the hubbub was about. They were good, but not really my genre. But my grandkids are a genre all their own – if that’s possible. So, we watched a couple of movies as a way to study up on Harry and his friends before exploring the parks with them. We didn’t want to look like complete muggles.

You may be asking why I would choose to go there seeing as I tend toward vertigo. Good question. We discussed it and decided to go with the full knowledge that I would not be able to get on a lot of the rides. A lot turned out to be about 95 percent. Our grandchildren were quite dismayed that I could not ride along with them, but I was happy standing in line with them and enjoying the pre-ride entertainment and holding all their stuff. Well, mostly I was. We stood in line for two hours for Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure, which evidently had been towed to the nearest mechanic. You can’t wave a magic wand and fix such things. You would think you could, but no. This is clearly evidence that the park is run by muggles.

Realization #6,413 – Things like this don’t disappoint me like they used to. I used to ride all the coasters. I liked it. It’s okay that I can no longer do that without puking my guts out while my head spins for the next three weeks.

There is entertainment out there that you spin-lovers may not notice. Like, reading the signs at the beginning of each ride. This became my hobby. My conclusion: It’s a wonder anyone can go on those things.

What could have occurred on this ride to prompt such a specific sign?

Even Seuss Landing had danger within.

No riding for me. I just would not spin.

 

Things in Seuss Landing were just as lethal for us non-spinners.

 

 

Cat in the Hat. Imagine that!

One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Fish could be spewed all over town

Just from a spin – that’d make me frown.

 

 

Was it worth it, you ask? 15,000 steps in one day?

Why, yes, it was. And quite magical, I’d say.

 

(Disclaimer: No rides or people were spewed on during the research for this post. No episodes of vertigo occurred. Bob and I enjoyed what will likely be our last visit to Universal Studios – unless the grandchildren ask us to go again.)

Happy Holidays!

As we enter into the last week before Christmas, my heart is full with recounting the blessings of God this past year. I am thankful for you kind folks who read my blog! You are an encouragement to me. I wish you a Merry Christmas and to my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah.

I will be taking time off from my blog until 2020, so I wish you a Happy New Year as well.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (Bob and I at ICE at the Gaylord Palms where the temperature registers 9 degrees. That’s enough cold for me!)

 

The November/December Blur – Time to Savor the Moments

Somehow or another, Thanksgiving was two weeks ago and Christmas is two weeks away. There is a lot going on, and I am trying to savor the moments.

Speaking of savoring, November was an exciting month for me. As I referenced in my post of November 11, I spent a lot of time writing last month. Time that was measured in both minutes and words. As for the minutes, God only knows how many of them I spent sitting at my computer pounding out a first draft for my next novel. The words can be counted though, and according to Microsoft Word, I wrote 50,018 of them. (What makes it better is that when added to my prior writing, I now have a complete first draft.)

According to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo*) hierarchy, that makes me a winner. And if you’re a winner, you get stuff. That means I get stuff! Stuff I can purchase to show everybody that I’m a winner. I know, it sounds funny. But you better believe I have ordered myself a t-shirt that declares to the world that I won NaNoWriMo. Not only will I proudly wear it, but I’ll also happily confuse people about what in the world NaNoWriMo is. So, it’s doubly good.

And, I am not the only winner in our family. My 13-year-old grandson, Manning, plays Pop Warner Pee Wee Football and his team had an amazing season. The day after Thanksgiving they won their Division II Regional Championship.

Manning asked for a picture with him and his whole (present) family after his team won the Regional Championship. It was special to have cousins in town to cheer him on.

 

Do you know what that means to win a regional championship? It means they’re going to Disney World – specifically the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There they have played two games against other regional winners and have smoked them. On Friday morning they will play in the Pop Warner Superbowl for all the marbles and ESPN 3 will even televise it.

I am so proud of Manning and his brother, Winston, too. Winston’s team did not make the playoffs this year, but I can tell you that both boys have practiced and trained so that they can be the best they can be on the field. It bleeds over to off the field as well. They are turning into fine young, albeit goofy at times, men.

Friday morning you can find me out at Disney rooting for Manning. I hope he wins! Of course, in my book he is already a winner. Well, not in my actual book, but you know what I mean.

The complex is huge. It’s like a city, and they really went all out for the kids.

 

 

*****

*If you’ve ever entertained the idea of writing a novel, this is a great way to launch those ideas into a bonified manuscript. Maybe you’ll want to join in next year. Here is the NaNoWriMo mission statement:

“National Novel Writing Month is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.”

*****

Black Friday

I have considered wearing an armband to show that I am grieving over the loss of Black Friday. Gather around and let me tell you the story of the true meaning of this shopping event. If you started Black Friday shopping in the last 10 or 15 years, then you have no idea the fun you missed.

First of all, nothing was open on Thanksgiving Day except for the occasional grocery and convenience store. We ate our feast and played games together and watched football. Movie theaters were open. Many times, we’d catch a holiday movie on Thanksgiving evening with family and friends. After which we would go home and enjoy one more piece of pie and go to bed because we had to get up early the next day.

Early meant around 5 am. Lots of stores opened at 5 or 6 and my mom and I would plan our route by scouring the ads in Thursday’s paper. Why get an early start? There were lots of good deals, but also you could get free stuff. FREE. You didn’t have to buy anything. Amazing.

Free ornament from J C Penney’s – I put this on the tree every year and it reminds me of shopping on Black Friday with my mom.

The jewelry store in the mall gave out coupons to possibly win a piece of jewelry and they’d give you little cheap charms, too. J.C. Penney would have their free Christmas ornaments. Target gave out goody bags full of swag. And that’s just to name a few things.

We would finish our shopping before noon, come home, eat another turkey sandwich, and decorate the house. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done during what was the kick-off of the season.

I remember back in the 1990s when my daughter Dena had reached the age where she was old enough to go with me. She was thrilled. Now a mother of teenagers herself, she has turned Black Friday into an event of epic proportions. This year she started out late on Thursday night with her 16-year-old daughter, returned home several hours later for a nap, and then went back out again, this time making it a foursome with her 14-year-old daughter and me. She has more energy than Charlie Brown has anxieties.

 

New Black Friday memories

I have given up being excited about the event, but I am excited about spending time with my daughter and granddaughters – to a point, that is. I won’t leave the house until 9 am, and my first stop has to be Costco. That’s where the real magic happens.

I wanted to introduce Dena to the joys of Costco Black Friday shopping. I’m not talking about the things you find in their ads; I’m talking about food. Food that you and your family and friends will eat and then you can brag about the deal you got on it. Plus, you don’t have to get up before the crack of dawn. And that’s a huge plus.

In years gone by we have gotten Butterball turkeys for two or three dollars. This year, unfortunately, Costco was better about judging how many turkeys they needed for Thanksgiving, so none were left, but that still left the pork loin.

 

At $8 off per package, we got this baby and five more like him for around $4. That’s three for Dena and three for us. Her family of six will devour a half a one in one meal – that’s $2 a meal. Score! Bob and I will cut ours in thirds and we’ll be eating pork until next Black Friday.

Later in the weekend, when my non-Black-Friday-shopping daughter-in-law asked Dena what her best bargain of the day was, you can only imagine my joy when she said $4 pork roast. Score one for Costco and getting up after the sun rises on Black Friday. I may as well say it, score one for me, too.

A Pen, a Sword, and a Great Blue Heron walked into a bar. Which was mightier?

I’ve been thinking about killing someone off, and it’s harder than I thought it would be. I am participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is a campaign to write a novel (at least 50,000 words) in the month of November. I have reached the juncture in my story where someone must die. I knew death was inevitable, but I’ve been writing around it for the last three days. I can’t bring myself to do it.

I am pretty sure that it’s a good thing that this is hard for me. It should be hard. After all, my novel is based on real events and real people whom I closely know, so this is personal. Even though death is a part of life, I wasn’t prepared to do the deed with my own hand on the keyboard.

In 1839, novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton penned the words, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” That may be true unless you’re on the wrong end of the sword. Get my point?

Anyway, when I finish this post. I will open my Word document and try again. I hope I can finish the job this time. The rest of my characters are waiting to react to the event. Right now, they don’t know what’s going on.

Hopefully sometime next year I will have this book published. Hopefully you will read it and forgive me for this weak spoiler. If you’re anything like me, you will have forgotten about this by then, so I think we’re safe.

As of this morning, I have written 31,438 words.  If I add this to the 14,008 words that I wrote earlier this year, I am well on my way to completion of my first draft. In January, I will have massive editing to do, so there is that; but I am on pace to finish by the end of November. Thanksgiving may cause a problem, still I’ll press on and hope for the best without making my husband and myself crazy.

Last weekend, Bob and I took our local grandsons to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. We were excited to introduce them to this favorite place of ours and get me out from behind the computer for a while. A wildlife drive will offer idyllic scenes of beautiful birds flying about or perched high above and wading birds floating around the water surrounded by flowers.

 

Great Egret in the Burr Marigolds

It will also offer a decaying corpse of an alligator. The boys were fascinated. The gator was swollen and floating upside down in a pond. It was gross and we were thankful we were upwind of him. I did not capture a picture of him even though the boys requested one. You can’t give them everything they want. I don’t want to spoil them too much.

Bob, our grandsons, and an Anhinga (aka Water Turkey or Snake Bird)

In keeping with the death theme, which has been on my mind as I try to do in my character, we came across this lovely scene.

Great Blue Heron with a snack-sized American Alligator

I don’t think I gathered any ideas which I can use in my death-scene writing dilemma, but you never know. Would you be surprised to find out that one of my characters had been killed by a bird or an alligator? Maybe I’ll try to work that into the plot. Maybe not.

Growing Old Gracefully

When the class with the above title was announced at our church and the teacher is everybody’s favorite older woman, Shirley, I signed up. I’ve never been a particularly graceful person, so I thought, hey, maybe I can do this aging thing gracefully. You know, finish well, not trip over the finish line, stick the landing.

My youngest grandson after achieving new heights. Looks like he stuck the landing.

Not that I feel old, I typically don’t. That is probably aided by the fact that my mom, who is 91, lives with us, so I am the youngest person in the house. She has demonstrated aging gracefully and has also let me in on some of the challenges of aging. This class combined with my mom’s fine example would be beneficial.

Last Wednesday, for the first of the three sessions, Shirley covered, or I should say taught us about, our aging bodies. (The next two sessions will cover spirit and soul, as we are made up of three parts.) I am a woman in her sixties, so I am painfully (no pun intended, I just can’t help myself) aware that there is something of a decaying nature going on. That is verified in 2 Corinthians 4:16 – “though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

Eyesight starts going south around age 40. Some of my joints let me know when the weather is changing. And worst of all Alexa (our Echo) has begun to get confused by my commands to her. I have wondered if I’m slurring my words, but I’m also working on the theory that our Alexa is getting old, too. Perhaps Amazon wants me to upgrade her and they built that into her system. But I digress. People were designed to age, but we are also charged with stewarding the body that God has given us. In other words, we aren’t supposed to aid the deterioration that’s going on in our bodies, we are supposed to care for and strengthen them.

I don’t know about you, but I need reminders to do the things which I am supposed to do. The Bible does repeat itself a lot. I think that is because we tend to forget or become distracted. God knows that’s how we operate, so I’m thankful for the repetition.

Three days before that first class, I started feeling a twinge of pain on the lower lid of my left eye. The twinge became a pang. The pang became a pain. By the Wednesday meeting I had a sty the size of Rhode Island. And it was an angry sty – the kind that could scare small children, but I went to the meeting anyway. There would be no small children to frighten at that meeting.

By Thursday I had officially named the sty Rhode Eyeland. I figured if my entire body represented the 48 contiguous states, then my left eye was probably that size. When I saw the ophthalmologist on Friday, he said it was the largest he had seen in quite some time and added that it was “a dandy.” I told him I figured I’d go big or go home. Of course, when you have a sty the size of Rhode Island, you tend to want to stay home.

Dena (my daughter) and I caught up with each other on the phone on Friday afternoon. I had already sent her a picture of my eye when it was at its worst because she’s into gross things like that. In case you know Dena, you will understand why I made her give me her most excellent promise not to share that picture with anyone. To the best of my knowledge, she’s been true to her word.

She is also an encourager. She told me she was proud of me for going to, what she calls, the aging class.

Two things come to mind here:

  1. It’s kind of weird but okay I guess that she tells me she’s proud of me. I thought that was my job to be proud of her and her brothers, and I am, but whatever…
  2. I didn’t really care for the name Aging Class, but again, whatever…

I told her that one of the great things about being older is that you can go out looking like I did and it’s okay (except for frightening small children). Also, if I were to go anywhere with Rhode Eyeland, the aging class was the place to go. We don’t tend to major on that kind of thing. We have much bigger fish to fry than an eye with a sty.

Image result for free picture of a pig sty

I had to include a picture of a sty for you. This one’s not nearly as messy as the one on my eye, which is doing much better with drops from the doctor. Photo Credit: freepik.com