Category Archives: Memory

Don’t Set Limitations For Yourself.

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Don’t Set Limitations For Yourself.

It’s funny how people can limit themselves by what they put in their mind. A comment made me think of this and it brought me back around to one of the people in my life that never let anything limit them from what they wanted to do. My Grandpa Hagood. Lisa n grampa h

Diagnosed with Diabetes, he still worked until he reached retirement. Even when his leg had to be amputated from just below the knee down, he didn’t let it stop him from living life. In fact, he made quite a few people uneasy when he climbed a ladder to fix a few shingles just a few days after being released from said amputation. He got his prosthetic leg and kept on walking. Even after he had to have first his big toe, then all his toes on the other foot amputated… he kept on walking, because he had things to do and people to see. He wanted to live life.

Then he was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure – at that time, it was a 3-5 years life expectancy. I don’t remember the exact timeline of when he was diagnosed with CHF, but I remember being pregnant with Alyssa and wondering if he would get to meet her because those 3-5 years were near. I especially wondered when he was still driving a car even after they took his license away. I guess he had things to do and the car keys were calling his name. And it did come that close. The picture of my Grandpa in the hospital bed, not a new story… he went in with a heart attack on 4th floor of the hospital and I went into labor and delivery on the 3rd floor of the same hospital. He wanted to come down, but being in ICU, that was not allowed, nor was bringing Alyssa to meet him. But, as you can see by the picture… it happened. Alyssa and I were released home and I got a call from a nice nurse – my Grandpa was going to die, expected in less than 24 hours, how soon can I bring the baby up for his last wish? Within 2 hours, my mom and I went to introduce the two. It was a sobering visit and one that I won’t forget. If you look to the picture of him in the green hat….that was a few weeks later. That yearning for life, the love and anticipation for watching that little bundle grow, turned his health around. We waited for a call of expiration that evening, but instead we got a call that he would be released in a few days. He had other plans, just like after the amputations… he did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to hold that baby some more.

Which he did for three years and he held another great grand baby, Brian in early August 1996. I would love to say that he was still here with us, scratching his head with a pocket knife, or driving through the garage because his leg got stuck under the brake pedal. (He did that twice, by the way, both times, just stood the back wall right back up.) But December 17, 1996, when Brian was just a little over 4 months old, we sat as a family at DMH, 4th floor, for a visit for the last time. Another time that I will never forget. 3 ½ year old Alyssa went to give him a hug and kiss bye, and she said, “he didn’t hug me back…” And later that night, the call of expiration came. My Grandpa was a deacon of the church and a man of God. It was at that time that He had things for my Grandpa to do…

Any medical condition that you have, don’t give in and be it’s victim. Take charge and show IT what your life will be like! Determination, motivation, belief, love, and a zest for living life to the fullest are all yours. It is up to you to choose whether you are a victim or whether you are going to be a survivor.

I am not going to succumb to any illness or medical affliction and miss out on my life. My Grandpa had an artificial leg in the picture of me with the cake – still photobombing. IMG_3676

Now, look at read my blogs, look at my social media updates… what do you think? You would be surprised at what you can’t see in a profile picture. There are days I am tired, don’t feel good, am mad, or sad or blue. Everyone has those days! You better believe that I won’t be sulking, I am here to live and live I shall!! Who’s with me??

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Technology Throughout the Years

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It is a little sad that I think back to all of the things that I did when I was a child that my kids will not experience. Have you thought of these? There are a TON of them!!

– I remember true team work, as you turn the antennae on the roof little by little until the three channels you had came in clearly.
– We had rabbit ears on the TV that you encased the ends with aluminum foil to get even better reception.
– We had to reference the TV guide for what shows were on TV.
– We had CB radios in our cars and houses.
– Yelling to get someone into the room to change the channel because you had no remote control and were comfy on the couch under the covers.
– Not having a VCR and missing your favorite show completely if you were gone. Oh, no hulu.com to watch it either.
– We had to watch commercials.
– We had a telephone with a cord, you can only go so far.
– The telephone had no hold button.
– We dialed the telephone, with a rotary dial. No push buttons.
– If your friends were not home, you just didn’t reach them. There was no machine.
– If your friends were on the phone, you just didn’t reach them, you got a busy signal. No call waiting.
– If you turned on your radio, you had to manually move the dial to your station. There was no scan or seek. Same thing in the car.
– We grew up with records and 8 tracks. Then came cassettes.
– We had to lock each car door individually, there were no power locks.
– We had to manually hand crank each window down and up, there were no power windows.
– There was no ABS braking system. You had to pump the brakes.
– There was no power steering.
– There were no air bags.
– There was no fuel injection – you had to pump the gas before you started the engine.
– There was no remote lock, you had to walk to the car and put the key in the lock and turn it. Then remember, no power locks? You had to crawl across the seat and unlock everyone else’s doors.
– There was no computers, internet, email.
– We hand wrote and received letters via the US Mail.
– We had to hand wash dishes, no dishwashers.
– We had to cook everything the long way – the stove – there were no microwaves.
– When we went out at 16, our parents had to know where we were and the phone numbers. We didn’t have cell phones to check in or receive calls. When we were not home, we were not home.
– We had to apply for jobs old school, by typing up a resume and hand delivering it or via US Mail.
– We didn’t have radar detectors.
– We didn’t have remote start on the cars, we had to walk to the car, unlock the door, pump the gas, start the car, and scrape the windows.
– We didn’t have GPS… we had maps. We had to read them.
– We could walk to the grocery store and buy 1 cent candy.
– I used an outhouse as a child when visiting my grandparents.
– We took pictures and had to wait until all 36 pictures were taken so we could develop them and see if the picture turned out worth a crap.
– We had paper books which we rented from the library that we used the card catalog to find said book.
– When we researched for a paper, we went to the library and used the card catalog to find books that we had to read to find supporting information.
– We didn’t have fax machines in our homes.
– We had black and white televisions.
– We didn’t have a Wal-Mart.
– We know what carbon paper is.
– We said the pledge of allegiance every day as school started.
– We had to flush our own toilets and turn on and off faucets to wash hands and hand crank the paper towels out.
– We didn’t have ATM cards. We had bank books. The teller would write down the transaction in your bank book.
– We wrote paper checks – no debit cards.
– Our typewriters were not electric.
– We didn’t have alarms in our schools.
– We didn’t have video cameras or cameras to take pictures at a moments notice.

But, we played outside, rode our bikes, watched cartoons on Saturday mornings, did our chores and we minded our manners so that we didn’t get spanked. We talked to grandparents on the phone and it was special. We made prank phone calls because there was no caller id. We didn’t have a lot of conveniences of today but we have memories.

Did I miss any?

Ahhh.. .the Memories

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My Mother is planning with her two brothers to clean out my Grandmother’s house. She asked me if I wanted anything out of the house. I had to stop and think, I couldn’t think of anything tangible that I would want from her house.

As I tried to think, I remembered way back to my childhood days. I lived only 6 miles away from them and our house was on the way to their church. They stopped by after church every Sunday morning and before and after church every Wednesday and Sunday evening. While these visits did get tedious at times, when we had other company, etc. I am really thankful that they did that. I know not everyone is blessed with grandparents or to live in such close proximity, like I was. Sunday after the morning service I would often get to go spend the afternoon with Grandma and Grandpa, since they could just drop me back off at home on their way to the evening service. 🙂 Every Sunday for lunch, rain, shine, snow, hail – it didn’t matter, it was burgers on the grill for lunch. If it was nice outside, I would play on the big wheel whilst Grandpa cooked. We always, always, had fruit after lunch/dinner. When I played outside after lunch, I loved the playhouse in their back yard. Since I was an only child, sometimes my cousins on my Dad’s side of the family would come down and we would play drive through or house. When they didn’t come down, I would play wiffle ball in the back yard with Grandpa pitching me the ball and every once in a while Grandma would. Occasionally, Grandpa would drive over to the Wedge in Illiopolis for an ice cream cone. Grandma and Grandpa would often take care of me when I was sick as a child so my mom could go to work. They took me to the doctor a time or two. What item in the house could possibly hold meaning to me?

Then, after I had given up trying to think of an item, it came to me like a ton of bricks. Something that I always did when I went there from the time I could reach it to the last time I was there… the cookie jar. It was the same cookie jar that I remember from way, way back. Grandma wasn’t always the best cook – once in a while she would forget an ingredient in the cookies. I think one time she forgot flour… but that is okay, I do the same – or mix out of order, or forget to set the timer…. For the most part, there was always some good cookies to nibble on. So, I asked for the cookie jar. Every time I look at it, I will think of the memories I have while eating cookies at Grandma’s house. And then I thought more broadly, outside of the house, to the many times they stopped by before and after church. One common occurrence was pennies. You see, usually Grandma would go into the kitchen with my Mom and Grandpa would go into the living room where my Dad was watching TV, sit in the recliner and pop off his artificial leg. Sometimes he would take the cushion off and rub his stump. This is one of those instances that became tedious if we had other company as it tends to really freak people out when someone removes their leg. 🙂 I would usually be in the living room, as that was where the window to the driveway was. Grandpa would pull out his coins and hand me the pennies pennieshe had in his hand. And he would always, always say, “Those are for you, but don’t tell your Grandma…ok? Or she will be mad.” Sure enough Grandpa! Of course I am sure you can guess what happened next. I would get bored with the men talking of car parts and other things a 7 year old wasn’t interested in and head to the kitchen. Once I got into the kitchen, Grandma would pull her coin purse out and do the same. There was only a dining room in between the kitchen and living room. It was open between, so I am sure that they each knew they were doing that… but who was I to second guess?? I was told to be tight lipped about it.. so I did. 😀

That was when I told my Mom if the coin purses are still around there, I would like to have one of them. Not because it is tied to money, but because I can visualize the coin purse perfectly. I think they always carried the same one. I guess I will find out if it has withstood the test of time, or if it has dissolved into a pile of dust.

My Grandfather mentioned above has been the subject of several of my posts about miracles. He passed away over 16 years ago, but it seems like just last year. In reality, my Grandmother has declined over the past year with osteopenia and dementia. After several instances of extreme confusion – once she was pulled over in a Kroger parking lot. The police officer was so concerned about her mental state that he had my uncle come pick her up. At Christmas she was her usual self, being less stubborn about using a cane but still as stubborn as a mule on using a walker. She had been so stubborn on both of those subjects for two years that she had a severe lean to one side and her balance while walking suffered. Every family talks about nursing homes, but at Christmas time, it was painfully obvious that the time was very near. She was becoming unable to care for herself due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Medicine was a huge concern – was she taking enough, was she taking it at all? Some of the vertigo issues could have been caused by an overdose on one of the meds. A few days later is when that day came.

Less than a few days after Christmas, my uncle took her to the hospital as she had fallen down four times before noon. There was no real reason medically for the falling but the confusion and off the wall conversations were happening all the time. She went to a nursing home from the hospital. While it is certainly in her best interests, it is still a sad state of affairs. I guess because it is change and a change that forces you to face the reality of the situation. The house will be empty or filled with a new family, but it won’t be Grandma and Grandpa’s house any more.

Life is all about change, isn’t it? I remember how excited pennies made me as a kid… as an adult, we may not even pick a penny up off the street. I hope that I am around my grandchildren enough to give them memories like I have of my grandparents. And I hope that they always have memories to remember me.

Like Sands in the Hourglass

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Like Sands in the Hourglass

I never was a fan of Days of our Lives, but I think that just about everyone thinks of that show when they hear the title of this post. During this move and unpacking box after what seems like never ending box, I have ran across so many things that have really brought back memories for me. Some of those memories had been buried by the sands of time.

I ran across a poem enitled, “Grandpa”. It was printed on a poster board and colored. I recalled this from hanging on the wall of my room when I lived with my parents. I read the poem and chills ran down my spine. I couldn’t remember if this was something that I wrote? As I got closer to the end of the poem, I realized that it just didn’t fit the timeline of my life. At the end, I had quoted the author, so I knew then that I had simply read the poem and identified with it. It’s funny how something that is written can invoke such feeling in your soul that you can actually live the words. The poem is about a girl who walks along the beach remembering her grandfather, who had passed. I have never walked along any beach with either of my grandfathers, but as my paternal grandfather passed away when I was only 6, he and I went many places in my imagination.

I ran across hundreds of old pictures of my family and friends. Even those invoked a mixture of feelings from within my heart. Happiness as I ran across pictures of my children as they were just little toddlers, while at the same time sadness, as those days passed way to quickly! Pictures and momentos of places we had traveled as a family, things we had done, and all the wonderful birthdays and celebrations we had together. Pride as I rifled through their report cards, sorrow that those days of receiving report cards for them are almost coming to an end. My daughter graduated high school over a year ago, my son only has 1 1/2 years left before he graduates. Again, the time just flies by far too quickly.

As I think about how they have grown, I reflect back on my marriage – we will celebrate 20 years in February. What a milestone. So much change has happened in the last two decades, it really just blows my mind at what we have accomplished. From living on bread crumbs raising babies, to realizing we needed to improve ourselves through higher education, supporting each other as we each went back individually for our bachelor’s degrees and together as we both studied for our master’s degrees. It wasn’t easy and that sure didn’t seem quick, but we jumped through the fire and over that candlestick. And through that hardship, we instilled in our children the importance of following through with college directly after high school to pursue their career goals. It is too hard, too much time away from your family when you attempt it backwards.

Through these 20 years, we have endured happy times – the birth of both of our children and, sadly, the loss of many wonderful family members. After I think of all these times, both happy and sad, I look at all the blessings of people – family, friends, and co-workers; careers – we both have jobs that we thoroughly enjoy; accomplishments – awards, anniversaries, pride, and love. We have been blessed with reliable transportation (I sure hope that doesn’t backfire on me tomorrow – literally), three dogs (even though 2 are a little bit weird), a house… no wait… a home. So many blessings that over run my heart with joy so that the only thing I can do is to be thankful for everything in the last 20 years. Every single occurrence has happened for a reason by some divine force and has created the person that I am today. I know that the future holds many more happy and, unfortunately, sad times ahead for me. I will embrace each one, as I know that they are going to make an impact on me. The impact, it gives will truly be up to me and how I react to the situation. I can play a victim, or I can be a heroine. I won’t come out and directly tell you which one I will do, but I will give you a hint… I am never going to give in, I will fight with everything I have… I am no victim. (Ok, so maybe that was more than just a hint. In case you didn’t read between the lines, I could not knowingly lead you into the rest of your life wondering which one I would use.) You have to make your own destiny my friends, If it is to be, it is up to ME! And I will leave this poem that I found in my grandmother’s things after she passed away with you, as I felt that it really sums up how this dance down memory lane has made me feel. 🙂

Another Blessed Day

Each night before I close my eyes…and into dreamland stray…I thank my God for giving me….another blessed day… it matters not what came to be … or how toilsome the hours… I place each bygone day among… my treasured field of flowers.. whatever comes or goes I know… God does it for the best… and so I must be equal to… the weight of heartache’s test…for life on earth is just a breath…a fleeting plaintive sigh…a prelude to eternity… that swiftly passes by.. So I am more than grateful for…each day God lets me live…in silent prayer I fall asleep…may God my sins forgive.

I wish each of you a blessed day.

New Chapters, Stress and Looking Forward

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So, everything was going as normal… I loved the challenges of my job and especially the team that I worked with every day. Then my husband got offered another job with the same company an hour and a half away from our house. This meant relocation – to a new town – changing houses, changing doctors, changing schools, changing jobs, changing everything in life that I knew.

The first step was starting the process of finding myself a job in the new location. I am very thankful to work for a company, the same as my husband, that will assist in finding a job in the new area. This meant updating my resume – it may be horrible, but I don’t keep it up to date – if I like my job, why would I be ready to leave at a moments notice? So, I put my name out there, used my networking contacts and got the ball rolling. Now, the stress of hoping that in a volatile economy that I will be employed. All at the same time as house hunting – which is very difficult to commit when you don’t know where you will work or if you will have an income. Then putting the forces in place to start finding my replacement. I did not want to leave my team uncovered. Luckily, it went very quickly and I found a better than I could have even imagined replacement for myself. She is going to do even more things with that role and that in and of itself, helped me to be able to walk away from that desk. Thank God for her!

Second step, get our house on the market. We had grandiose plans in store for our house but didn’t implement so we were behind the 8 ball at that point. All the rooms were painted in neutral colors. Carpeting was replaced in the living room and downstairs guest bedroom. Cleaning was done… Light fixtures changed out, Deck railing replaced, Deck painted, Roof replaced (luckily the shingles were already bought), driveway re-sealed, front porch railing removed, front doors painted, front porch floor painted with epoxy, landscaping repaired and spruced up. It was an ordeal and a very labor intensive one at that. The house went on the market, finally. Now, if it would have just sold! At this point, we have one more week before we can take the option of the relocation company to purchase, so it is looking as if they will be the new homeowners.

Then, I found a job – similar position as I had, but with a little less responsibility. You know what? That was okay. The job I was leaving was a new position when I took it and I made it into a great responsibility with loads of opportunity and I could do that same thing again. It is all in the power of what you put your mind to. If you think your job is a rotten apple, then you are going to smell like one. For me, titles mean nothing and job descriptions just give you a minimum guideline – you can always do more, you can always learn more. Even with this positive attitude, it was still very hard to be in an admin assistant role. After all, people stop by your desk looking for conference rooms on your first day. My response was to chuckle and look at the person next to me, explain to the person that I was lucky to find my desk this morning since I am new, so let’s ask an expert. It was a good way to break the ice with new people. And I was fortunate enough to find a few faces that I already knew – they had moved before me. A few, out of a couple thousand, but those few faces mean a lot!

After looking at about 30 homes in the new location and getting input from co-workers, we found the best school for our son and a home to reside in. We were not going to be able to move close enough to the first day of school, so that meant that we had to hotel it for a little bit. The outside dogs were put into a kennel and we were fortunate enough to find a hotel that would accept our little Coco. After three weeks of hotel living, we finally got to move into our new house – let the unpacking festivities begin!

We have moved many times, but really, not more than 2 while I worked full time. As I get older, I realize how much more tired I am and I am not really for sure if it is just the age, or if some of the fatigue is not my MS rearing its ugly head. But, I will not be stopped, I keep going. I have to. I would like nothing more than to lay in bed and rest for a week, but I know that if I do, I will be even more tired when that week is over – I have to keep moving, I have to keep going otherwise, I am afraid that my body will forget how to thrive. Even better, it would be great to have the powers of Samantha from Bewitched or Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie and be able to have everything in its place at the snap, but I have not been able to find that magical ability, and that is probably best as we only learn and grow through these challenges.

Most stressful is the fact that our four pack family is now a three pack. My daughter had moved out a year before we moved, but only 2 miles down the road. With her school and work schedules, we rarely saw her even then in the short distance and this mom’s heart is weighing heavy because she knows that those times she sees her are going to be even fewer and farther between. The phone calls are a blessing, but just not the same… coupled with the fact that the boyfriend she moved in with does not care for us so much that he will not allow us in their house. I have no idea what her living situation is and while this bothered me two miles down the road, it is even worse now because I don’t see her in passing on the road, in the drive thru at McDonald’s (where she works), I only have texts, Facebook and phone calls to go on. It also brings an interesting perspective as it will be difficult to visit her, since we can’t visit her home. Since our family is spread out, for the majority south of where we originally lived, there is not a happy meeting ground. I will just have to wait for holidays or for her to visit us. In finding herself in her adult life, the time for parents is not nearly as frequent as when she was becoming a teenager.

My parents lived an hour and a half from us, but now a little over 3 hours – not quite the quick drive down to visit anymore. And with the MS, driving really tires me. I have not attempted to drive it, but know that when the house is in order and I am more comfortable with my setting that energy will come back a little and I will be more brave to attempt the trip.

Unpacking all this stuff really makes it harder. You find old treasures and trinkets that you had long since forgotten about. You reminisce about those times and the feelings of joy rush back, only to be dismantled by remembering that you are now farther away and those number of those memories will be harder to create.

All in all, I like my new town. There are more options of things to do, places to go, and shopping. It is just a matter of finding my way there. Today, I am very thankful my GPS has unlimited usage. Moving close to cold weather setting in and so much to do, there hasn’t been much time to get out and meet people, or really even to get out of the house. I really wish that I could get that magical power to snap my fingers or wave a wand and be completely settled in, no cardboard, no piles of stuff to be put away… I know I will have this done by Spring and believe me, I will be out and about then! It will be time to explore. Until then, I just have to quietly deal with my frustrations of being overwhelmed with all the newness of my surroundings… take joy in the blessings of my health, my job, my family I get to live with and those times I get to visit the family and friends that I don’t live with and my little Coco…

Ok, the pity party is over… time to bust to move on some boxes.

Life in a Small Town

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If you grew up in a small town and I left any important qualifiers out, please comment below!

When I was in high school, one of our homework assignments was to write about the attractions of our home town. Well, I went to the teacher and politely asked, “Mr. Main, the assignment is to write on the attractions of our hometown?” And he politely replied, “Yes.” So, being a high school student and sarcastic, I questioned, “But, Mr. Main, I live in Latham.” He just laughed and said that there had to be something there. Well, truth be told, there really wasn’t. But, again, remember I was sarcastic, so I did the assignment.

The lake. This oversized mud hole is enclosed in fencing and is located on the edge of town. No room for a fishing boat let alone a ski boat. People don’t eat the fish that they catch there, they are afraid of what they have been eating in the mud hole.

The gas station. We lived 15 miles from town and our gas station was not on the highway, it was inside of the town. It sold gas by the 1/2 gallon at a price that the stations in town were selling for a whole gallon. You guessed it, the cars were lined up for miles to buy gas at that price. It never had any gas sales except to those unfortunate souls that were on “E” and couldn’t possibly make it another 6 miles to another gas station that sold it by the full gallon.

The watertower. This was looking pretty shabby, but one year they gave it a fresh coat of paint. It was coincidentally the same color as the neighboring town’s water town that they had just painted. So nice of them to give us hand me down paint!

Festival of lights. Yes every year at Christmas time, the grain elevator in town would put on a fantastic display of lights – a huge star. Probably had 50 light bulbs in it!

The grain elevator. Let me tell you what, this town was full of activity at harvest time. Farmers lined up all day to sell to the grain elevator. It was the most traffic the streets saw all year. Also was very entertaining to act goofy while all the farmers had no other choice but to sit and watch. ha ha.

The annual ice cream social. This event was huge when I was little. Huge raffle prizes, like TVs, carnival rides, tractor pulls for kids, softball games, it was an all day affair. It has since dwindled in size and attendance, but one thing has not changed, if you live out of town, your chances to win the raffle prize are quadrupled over someone who is a home townie. It never failed. It was a lot of fun when it was a huge event. I remember my cousins would come stay that weekend from a few hours away and we would partake in the activities of the day. That small town event is what makes a tight community.

The post office. Where all the mail comes in from every where. This is also the place where all the good gossip takes place. Want to know who is cheating? Who is getting married? Who is moving in town? Just go to the post office! If you live in a small town, I can pretty much assure you that at least once a week, you hear someone say, “I was at the Post Office the other day and I heard….”

The rock pile. Just as the name implies, it was a HUGE pile of rocks. We had two parks (odd for a town of 250 people, but we did!) but if you gave any kid in town a choice of places to go, they would pick the rock pile. You could “snow ski” down the side of it and climb back up.

Pop Machine. Odd I know, but you just have to know that we went many years without one. It was an exciting day when they put that machine in. It was in a good location, the center of down town. Down town, lol. It did not have Pepsi or Coke, it was stocked with RC cola products. I don’t even think you can buy RC anymore? But, it was pop, it was cold, we bought it and drank it.

And when I wrote the conclusion to my story, I wrote something like this: “Well, I could sit here and write all day about all the attractions of my town, but a cat just got ran over in the road and I have to run out there before the crowd does.” It’s sad, but it is true, it was just about all the excitement that town could take.

But, looking back, it was a close knit community where everyone knew everyone. We didn’t have a house alarm, no need to. My neighbor’s house had the perfect view of the driveway. She was at home every day and she could tell you who stopped by, what they were driving and if they chatted with her a bit. She babysat me many times after school until my mom got home. She always had a bottle of Coca-cola – the glass kind not the 20 oz plastic bottles they have today. We played bingo, dominoes, puzzles, and when it was nice outside, croquet. She was our neighbor the entire time I lived in that house. And for all the times she took care of us, my parents repaid the favor. They checked on her when she was there by herself as she got older, to make sure she was ok. We visited her several times in the nursing home. It was a sad day when she passed away. She was more like family to us than just a neighbor.

Overall, living in a small town really made you use your imagination. We made mud pies, sand cookies, and did goofy things when cars would drive by, like hold up signs that said they were going the wrong way.

When I was a kid, you could ride around town on your bicycle and feel safe about it. There were no cell phones back then. It seems like people paid attention more, they cared more, they socialized with each other more. I don’t know, maybe it is because we didn’t have the technology then that we do now. Now, you can play a DVD movie anytime you want, watch one of 500 channels or play one of many video games. You can even get on your computer and write a blog! We had 3 channels, you missed your show, you just missed it. No recording available. When I got my license and I left home, I was unreachable! My parents had no clue where I was unless I called to tell them. We had paper books that we journaled in, or “blogged”. It was private and usually held sentences like, “I was bored today, Mary couldn’t play.” It seems like the stone ages, but it really was only 30 years ago! How times have changed! We have hand held computers in our hands that also make phone calls. And this same technology that keeps us up to date on the latest news and our friends. However, this technology can also keep us from living life with real, live people. And make us miss things that happen to those beings right in front of our faces, because our faces are buried in the technology.

I don’t live in a small town any longer. And even if I did, I don’t think that it would really be apparent. People today are not as sociable in real life as they once were. Technology has been great at helping us to become more knowledgeable and more productive, but in reality, I think it is stripping away our relationships with other people. Do you live in a small town today? What do you think, am I close to my assessment?

Growing Up 1980’s Style

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If you are 20 years or younger, this blog post is just going to blow your mind with the lack of technology people from my generation (born in the 70’s, growing up in the 80’s) had when growing up.

Cell phones. We did not have them, they were not invented yet. When we left home, we were off the radar. Oh, unless your parents had a CB radio, which of course only worked in the car. “Breaker, breaker, 1-9, do you copy?” There was a whole different language for its usage, in fact, everyone had their own CB nickname – called a handle. When they were invented, they were HUGE and had to stay in your car.. after all, they were a car phone. We had to rely on pay phones to make calls, or get to know some random people and use their phones. Today, that would be kind of scary.

And cordless phones in the house? Nope. If you were lucky, you did have a very, very long cord on your house phone that would reach into two rooms. There were no push buttons, a rotary dial and no speaker phone. Now, this could also be a game, as when your parents were on the phone, you could do whatever you wanted without physical harm if you stayed outside of the radius of the cord. “Neener, neener” However, if they dropped the phone, you had better run as all bets were then off. *Physical harm – this is something that many parents discontinued practicing. It was a spanking on your rear end (Parent had slapping the rear end in a disciplinary way). It was not enough to break the skin, leave welts, but just enough for the child to know the behavior was not appreciated. This was also practiced in schools, called ‘swats’ which gave a whole different reaction to being sent to the principal’s office. This was the reason why bullying was not tolerated in our day – even the bullies feared the swats.

Now, back to the phones. Single phone line, no call waiting, no caller ID. Every time we answered the phone it was like Christmas because we had absolutely NO idea who was on the other line. Could it be a salesman? A friend? Grandma? You didn’t know until you answered the phone. Oh, and when we were not home, the phone just rang, and rang, and rang. We didn’t have answering machines. And when you called a friend, if they were using their phone, you got a busy signal. This means you just have to try your call again later. And it was not a nice operator telling you this, it was an annoying “BEEP BEEP”.

Music – We had it. One records that easily scratched with no way to fix, rendering it junk. And 8 Track Cassettes. Bigger versions of the cassette tapes, which you also probably know nothing about. Those were introduced in our elementary school days. And phased out shortly after we graduated high school. The radios in cars – yes we had them, but they didn’t have a digital read, it was a dial, you had to get the dial in just the right place to get the station in.

Television, if you were lucky, you had all color televisions, if you had more than one in your house. And we didn’t really watch it that often, mainly because we only had 3 channels of public broadcasting. We had to utilize antennas for signal and sometimes cover the tip with some aluminum foil. There were no reality shows, no MTv, however, on Saturday morning, there were GREAT cartoons, hours of great cartoons. And during the evening time, we had great shows: Little House on the Prairie, The Jefferson’s, Different Strokes, Family Ties, Wonder Woman, The Greatest American Hero, The Dukes of Hazzard. So many memories of those shows! Remote control? Nope…and push buttons on the TV itself were rare, it was usually a dial. No VHS or DVD or DVRs, so if we were gone when a show we wanted to watch came on, we just missed out. There was no recording it.

We spent a good portion of time … outside… with other kids. We played hide and go seek, tag, on the swingset, rode bikes, played ding dong ditch and made mud pies in the sandbox. Oh, and when we were bored and the rain was pouring, we played board games. OR, when we got to be tweens, we made prank phone calls. They were great! Remember, no caller ID! Or made our own ‘phones’ tin-can-telephone

The school sports teams were more exclusive, if you didn’t make the cut, you just didn’t get to be on the team. Not everyone received trophies, we learned at an early age that life is not always fair and if you want something, you must work hard for it. The school teachers did not have phones in their classrooms, nor did they have TVs. When we watched movies, we watched them on a film projector.

We didn’t have Nintendo until the late 80’s we had Atari, a very primitive game, but it was fun nonetheless. Our child hood toys were Fisher Price playhouses il_570xN.701856792_t12gwith no electronics, only our imaginations to make those little family people come alive. Our out door riding toys were powered by us. Pedals, we had to work to move. Like a tricycle, fire engine or a big wheel.

Computers did not exist. We used a typewriter. No electricity required, but you had to line up the paper just right. No correction either on some. You made a mistake… you just started over. It took FOREVER! If you wanted to make a copy? Yea, there was no copy machine, you needed to type two copies at a time via carbon paper. Oh, spell check? Yea, it was called paying attention in Spelling class or using the dictionary. We had to know it or look it up. When your letter was done, you addressed an envelope and put it in the mail. It took days to get there and an even longer time for a response. Finding a book was even more fun, we had to look it up in the card catalog at the library. It’s a really archaic system. No downloading it on iTunes (There was no iTunes, no Internet!) It’s like one step above the dinosaurs, right?

Microwaves were just coming about towards our late childhood. When we had something hot, it was made from real fire on the stove. The grill used had charcoal, no gas. And dishwashers? No way. We actually had to wash them in the sink and dry them by hand.

Even fitness was different. There was a YMCA and a YWCA, but no really widespread ‘gyms’ that I can remember. What I do remember was when VCRs came into play, we had “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons. images If you have never heard of Richard Simmons, I highly suggest that you look up a video of him on You Tube or Google him. He was QUITE a character, completely different than today’s fitness leaders like Chalene Johnson, Shaun T, or Tony Horton. Simmons is something you have to look up and see to believe!

Today’s kids are always connected in some electronic form. Cell phones are everywhere. New policies at schools were created to prevent their use during school hours. In my time, given the same technology, we would have just known better. We did not like the swats, as usually that meant that you got another by your parents when you got home. At school, we wrote notes to each other, folded them up in creative ways and stuck them in each other’s lockers. We talked for hours on the phone… if you lived local. If you lived in a different town, unless your last name was Rockefeller, you were likely limited on long distance usage. There was no Facebook, no Google+, no Twitter, if you wanted people to know what you were doing or how you felt, well, you had to verbally tell them, or write a note!

While it wasn’t full of technology, those times were some of the best times in our lives. We were young and carefree. We had no bills, no jobs, summers and all holidays off of school. We used our imaginations to the nth degree. We had person to person contact, socialization and networking. The thing that I look forward to in the future, is reading someone else’s blog about how different their childhood from the teens was different than those of the 2030’s. 🙂 Maybe they will more closely resemble the Jetson’s.

Have You Witnessed a Miracle?

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Have You Witnessed a Miracle?

It was August 1993, that I myself witnessed a miracle.  Something so truly amazing that it could only be from the hands of God.  Before I tell you the details, let me give you a little history.  My grandfather was a diabetic on insulin, had his leg amputated from the knee down on one side and his toes removed on the other foot due to circulation issues.  He had a heart attack and was later diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure.  Keep in mind that today, patients with CHF can live for a long time as many more treatment options are available.  Eighteen years ago, however, it was limited and the longest anyone expected these patients to live was at most 5 years.  However, most succumbed to the disease between 2-3 years.  It was mid-high school that my grandpa was diagnosed with CHF.   He lived less than 10 minutes from my house for my entire upbringing and my paternal grandfather passed away when I was 6, so I have many, many memories of him.  Since they lived so close, and were retired, they took care of me when I was sick or the baby sitter was not available so that my mom could go to work.  Great memories of pancakes for breakfast, playing in the playhouse and going to Dairy Queen for a full meal deal.  They always had one of the free dessert coins to give to me.  I loved those things!  Oh, and they always had a few pennies for my piggy bank.  Pennies don’t mean a whole lot now, but to a kid, they are a treasure!

About 6 months after I graduated high school, I was engaged and found out I was pregnant.  My grandpa was kind of excited to be a great grandpa!  During my pregnancy, his health declined and he was in and out of the hospital.  On a Saturday in August, the 7th to be exact, my mom called me and told me  he had a heart attack and was in the intensive care unit at the hospital.  I remember rushing to see him that evening and he didn’t look well at all, his kidneys were failing, his diabetes was difficult to control.  I remember seeing him suffer, losing his strength and praying to God to not let him suffer long.  I had planned to come and see him the next day, but my daughter had other plans.  I was due August 16th and she didn’t want to wait.  Late morning August 8th, I went into labor.  While my grandpa was on the 4th floor in ICU, I was admitted on the 3rd floor labor and delivery.  Alyssa was born at 11:26 p.m. on August 8, 1993.  One of the happiest days of my life and yet a bittersweet one as well because I knew how much my grandpa wanted to be there to see Alyssa.  But in the ICU, babies couldn’t visit and he couldn’t leave ICU.  We went home a few days later and I remember getting a call from the ICU nurse just shortly after arriving at home.  She told me that my grandpa was not expected to live much longer and as a last wish, he told the cardiologist, Dr. Kola,  he would like to see his first great grand baby.   Dr. Kola ordered the ICU nurses to quarantine the ICU and sanitize it so that I could bring Alyssa in and they were ready.  (This directive showing compassion and sympathy from a doctor could be considered a miracle all in itself, but that was just the beginning.)  I was a brand new mom and upset, so I called my mom – after all, it was her father and I knew she would want to be there as well.  She came and picked Alyssa and I up and drove us to the hospital.  We arrived and I was amazed at how many tubes and wires he had on and in him.    But his face really lit up when he saw Alyssa.  We put her in his arms and took pictures, Grandpa n Alyssa, day of miracle he kissed her and when we left, we said our goodbyes.  I went home and cuddled with my bundle of joy, as she really helped me through that tough time while I waited for the call to advise that he had passed away.  It was after 10:00 p.m. when the phone call came from my mom.  Dr. Kola had personally called my grandma to tell her that he witnessed the most amazing thing he had ever seen.  Since my grandpa held Alyssa, they had been pulling the wires and tubes away from him, he no longer needed them.  His kidneys started working again. His diabetes was controlled.  He was going to come home, and he did. IMG_3593 We were blessed that he was able to hold her many times after that day. 

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.  I wasn’t really supposed to get pregnant when I did, I wasn’t married yet, but if I didn’t have that bundle to bring my grandfather such joy I would have lost him that day.  And I also truly believe that a positive attitude is the best medicine.  He lived to see my Alyssa grow up and was feeling pretty good until Alyssa was about 2 years old.  His health then started to decline again.  A few months after her 2nd birthday, I found out I was pregnant again due August 2nd, 1996.  His health continued to decline but bounced back a little bit after I found out at 4 months along that we were going to have a boy.  My grandpa was even more excited to have a great grandson he would have one of each!  There were several hospital stays as my grandpa got worse with his CHF.    He went into the ICU again on July 30th, my Grandma’s birthday.  About 9:30 p.m. on July 30th my water broke, more so, it gushed everywhere.  Brian tried to be born on my Grandma’s birthday, but missed it by a few hours, July 31st at 3:55 a.m. Again, Grandpa was on 4th floor in ICU and I was admitted on the 3rd floor – I had a feeling of de ja vu.  This time, when he heard about Brian’s birth, he started to turn around and he was moved out of ICU, which meant we could go visit.   He got to see Brian and hold him, but his health did not make the remarkable recovery and sustain it as he did with Alyssa.  He got to come home, but this time, his health failed much more so than it had in the past.  When Brian was 4 months old, I remember seeing my grandpa suffer, losing his strength, losing his ability to get around.  Knowing how independent he had always been, I knew that this was a hard time for him.  This man climbed on the roof to fix a shingle as soon as he was released from the hospital from having his leg amputated.    I prayed that God would relieve his suffering.  This time God didn’t relieve his suffering by removing it, this time, it was to bring him Home.  I will never forget, the whole family surrounded his bed in the hospital room, he had severe edema and was not alert.  Dr. Kola even came and sat with the family for a little bit.  When we went to leave, as we always did, we went to tell Great Grandpa bye and Alyssa, as she always did, gave him a hug.  She looked at my mom and I and in a sad little 3-year-old voice and said, “Oh, he didn’t say goodbye.”  I know in my heart that my grandpa heard that and knew he couldn’t ward off death forever.  It was later that night that God took away his pain and brought him to heaven.  My mom called to give me the news as my husband was preparing to leave for his 3rd shift job at 10:30 p.m. It was a flood of emotions from tears to sadness that he passed to extreme relief that he no longer suffered.  He was a blessing in my life, teaching me the importance of family relationships, to always keep going, to work hard, to always look for the good and basically to enjoy life regardless.

A year later on the same date that he went Home, at 8:30 p.m. I put Brian down for bed in his crib.  At 9:00 p.m. he was sleeping soundly.  I know my grandpa felt the pain in my heart as 10:30 p.m. rolled around and I started to remember the previous year.  I know this because at 10:30 p.m. Brian started laughing hysterically, as if someone was tickling him.  I ran in his room and he was standing at the crib rails with his hands reached out in front of him and having a good time.  I know that my Grandpa was tickling him to tell me not to be sad for him. I picked Brian up and felt the love he just shared with his Great Grandpa.  I put Brian back down to sleep and went to bed myself knowing my Grandpa was still part of my children’s lives.

So, I have had prayers answered in ways that I did not expect.  God gives us the answers we ask for sometimes, sometimes He does not answer them at all and sometimes He answers them in ways we least expect so that we know He listens to our hearts. The first time God answered, he relieved his suffering by making him better.  Which was a true blessing to have him part of my daughter’s life and the first few months of my son’s life.  Not many people can say that they knew their great grandparents, but mine can.  They knew 3 out of the 4 great grandparents and still have their Great Grandma H.  God blessed my life in many ways, but truly by witnessing a miracle.  A miracle that I am truly thankful for, because of it, my children met their great grandpa.

My grandparents were each such a blessing in my life and I am so thankful that they were able to be a blessing in my children’s lives.  My Grandma B lived until just this past December, so she was part of their lives through their teen years.

Grandma B and Baby alyssa

Bub sitting on Grandma's lap

My Grandma H is still part of their lives and continued to host holiday dinners and lunches when family is in town until 2012. In 2012 she began falling and the day after Christmas that year she fell several times in one day. Her Alzheimer’s Disease started taking over and stopped her from doing regular daily tasks, like taking her medicines. From that day forward, she was in a nursing home. As of today, May 25, 2015, she is still in the nursing home and continues to decline in cognitive ability. But both my kids had many good years before that happened.  

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The ongoing instilling of the value of the roles that your family plays in your life.  I hope that you get prayers answered in ways that completely change your life, as they have mine.

Graduation is not the end of Learning

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So, last weekend was my daughter’s high school graduation.

I just couldn’t believe that my little girl is becoming an independent adult, it seems like just yesterday that I was putting pig tails in her hair. As I prepared myself mentally, emotionally and the physical appearance of the house, I just ran around like a chicken with my head cut off. My first chance to sit down and relax was… at the graduation ceremony!

So, as we are sitting in the hot air, with gusting winds on the football field, I just prayed that today’s speakers would really be great. Wow, do prayers come true! One speaker talked about family and friends – keep in touch with your friends, but never let go of your family as they are always there to support you when you need it. Another talked about the importance of goals and working hard to obtain them. Pretty much what you would expect from a graduation ceremony. The other two speakers really blew my mind. The guy got up there and talked in a lighthearted fashion about his time at the school and then it got really deep. He told them that they never know how the small things they say to each other affects the person. For instance, he told them that he had days when he just wanted to skip homework because it was just too hard to learn. But, his classmates would come and tell him that “he was so smart” and those little words really motivated him and gave him the passion to figure out the problems. Wow. So many times we hear of high school students bullying each other, making fun of each other and this guy was telling them his heartfelt thanks for giving him that motivation. A great lesson as they venture out in life and come across all new people – its the little things in life that really make a difference.

The last speaker was phenomenal. He spoke of being a “simple guy” and that he would not use alot of big, fancy words that would just inspire people to go out and make drastic changes. He started talking about how they had all labeled each other through the years. In grade school, you had the four square players, the jump ropers, or the talkers. As they grew to high school, they changed to the geeks, the choir folks, or the band. Of course, I knew of him and his background, but it still blew me away that he had the courage to say his next line in front of the hundreds of people in the audience. He told them that he had been given a label at a very young age, and a label that many people would dread having. Autistic. He further went on to say that even though he had been given that label and all the other labels through the years, it was his classmates that taught him that labels depict what you do and not who you are. He thanked them for that from the bottom of his heart. He may have not thought he was set out to inspire anyone, but he truly did. He was given a standing ovation and not the kind where one person stands up and slowly but surely every one else follows, I mean when he stopped talking, everyone jumped out of their seats and applauded. You always go to graduations thinking that they have completed their learning. As I was sitting in that audience, soaking in the sun, I was reminded that we are never truly done learning, sometimes we just get the lessons snuck in at times we are not expecting it.

I thought that this was such a fantastic story of how there are good kids out there, they are not all bullies. As a parent and a parent of a child with autism, I feel truly blessed that my kids are a part of that school, that they have the chance to be influenced by positive people. And most of all that the labels they receive are just that, labels. You are who you are inside, not what label you have been given. Thanks to the graduating class of 2011 and the speakers who continued my education by attending the graduation.

Life in the Fast Lane – New Parents should Buckle Up.

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Life in the Fast Lane – New Parents should Buckle Up.

Regardless of how much you try to enjoy life, it seems to go 300 miles per hour after you turn 18. I always heard that as I was growing up, however, when you are in school counting down the days to graduation, it goes on forever it seems. But, they were right, once I turned 18, it seems like my life has been a whirlwind. From waiting to graduation, I have gotten married, had two children, gained new family members through weddings and births as well as lost some due to death.

Now that my daughter is turning 18 in a few short months, I reflect back at the last 18 years, which truly seems like weeks ago. I remember vividly finding out I was pregnant and the pain with bone movements associated. I remember labor and delivery, especially the delivery. I can see this little baby sleeping in the baby swing and being awoke to the sound of rewinding it. It was so noisy! Then came crawling and eating people food. I remember how she loved peas, but her father and I did not. I gave her all the foods that I didn’t like because I wanted her to get a taste of everything.

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She started walking, running and then we had to get rid of the pacifier – oh my, that was horrible. I remember this little 20 month old girl with little blonde pig tails screaming, stomping and crying she wanted her “nanniefire”. But she couldn’t have it because it was causing her to get a rash around her mouth. That lasted about a week, then she adjusted.

It was such a joy to see the world through her eyes. One time, we got a really heavy snow when she was 3 years old.  When  she looked out the window she said, “Oh my! Pepaw made a mess!!”. I don’t know why she blamed my dad, but it was just hilarious.  Another time, she picked up a Polaroid camera and while directed at her, she hit the button, the flash went off and a picture came out. She ran to my mom and I and said, “It scared me so bad I almost peed my pants.” I saved the Polaroid. It was her first “selfie”.  🙂  Then she started school, made friends, did dance, gymnastics, learned how to read and write. She still was Mommy and Daddy’s girl. We were so proud of her. She cared about her friends and loved ones.  Especially her baby brother.  He was born just a week before her third birthday.

Baby number 2 on board!

Baby number 2 on board!

A few years later, when we went to the visitation for a grandfather of one of our friends, it was a good time to introduce her to the world of loss. When we entered the funeral home, she asked, “Why is that man in the box?” and I told her “Well honey, he died and went to heaven to be with Jesus.” And she just responded, “Oh, my, bless his heart.” She had never met this man, but still felt compassion for him. A very proud moment for parents.

I wish that we could have been at home more during their childhood.  Instead, she watched her dad and I both return to college to obtain our bachelor’s degrees, then our master’s degrees. Although that took us away from her and her brother, I know that this will instill in them the importance of education and making a solid plan for your future earlier in life as opposed to later. The one thing that I would change if I had a “do over” would be to finish my education so that I could focus all of my attention towards raising my family. But, we know that we can not do that. I do believe that did instill in her the importance. She is already planning on continuing her education at the local community college to become an Radiologist Technologist. She expressed that interest a few years ago and we worked to get an opportunity to job shadow. This is one thing I pressed hard for. It is one thing to have a plan to further your education but what a downer to get into the career and learn that you hate it. She observed two full days of different types of radiology, a very good experience. She has taken dual credit classes her senior year and work study to prepare for college.  Again, a proud parent moment.

What is the point in all this rambling? Well, if you are a new parent:

– Hold close the memories, big or small, that your children provide you with. Even the rough times, they can make you smile and proud.
– Take every opportunity to spend with your child. You have them until they are teenagers, then they start to sprout their wings and are no longer in need of your guidance, most of the time.
– Don’t be so quick to move forward. You always hear that you wish they could talk, then you wish that they would be quiet. Well it’s true to an extent. You want them to grow up and become a little person, but they grown into an adult faster than you want.

Literally, I feel like I have turned around, or blinked my eyes, and both kids went from toddlers to adults. So proud of the people my kids have become, but yet, still long for the little kids that came running to the door, so excited to see me and give me a hug. They are still in there somewhere and before long, they will come to us to ask us questions again. I think all kids do. 🙂