5/13/2017

Motherhood Lessons

Motherhood is not for the faint at heart. It is not for those that believe being a mommy is fun and games. It is for those that are willing to put their hearts on the line only to have it broken time and time again but find the overall rewards worth it. It is for the women who find giving life and planting seeds for the world rewarding.

As Mother’s Day comes, I reflect on lessons. Expect nothing in return and then, when you get it, you will be pleasantly surprised. Kids think the world revolves around them and mothers are there to serve. When you are given attention, you are to thank them for their time, at any age.

There will be plenty of excuses. There are busy playing with their toys, then with their friends, then driving somewhere, anywhere! Next comes a focus on college (which you are helping with odds and ends anyways!), dating, marriage, kids and life. There appears to always be something more important than you. It is like “Cat’s in the Cradle Song”, even when you have made the time, and still do. Many adult children simply won’t make the time for you. Accept this truth and you will be much happier. Just savor the time you are given.  You can’t change them so don’t try. With acceptance comes peace.

You are the number one cheerleader for your child. Have a "you can do it" attitude. Nobody cares more about your child than you, no other parent or teacher. They may not acknowledge you on the sideline and any yell may be met with extreme embarrassment.  You may be forbidden to wave but trust me, your being there is an esteem builder, it shows they matter. At the end of the game, they may run off to their friends but it registered and you saw what you created put forth effort. It is a win-win!

You were not put in the world to be a parent in order to be their best friend. Wait till you utter these words and watch their faces switch to creatures you don’t recognize. All the sudden, you swear you
never bore this hateful creature. But yet, being a mom means putting boundary lines in place, that means saying no, grounding, and saying uncomplimentary things at times, the things their friends wouldn’t dare say. You say it because you love them and they need to hear it. They won’t see it as love. They will hate you and swear you are mean and put up a wall of disbelief and anger towards you. It will break your heart but if not you, who will do this necessary step to growth? No one will tell you motherhood is easy.

Getting thrown up, pooped, and bled on is no fun but shit happens, again and again!  Be ready and muster through.  You also become a semi-paramedic yet never feel quite adequate to answer questions like do I take them to the ER, to the doctor, does it require stitches, is this temperature too high, will you throw up again, and are you contagious?  Get a Magic 8 ball.  It will help!

Talk about the stuff that makes your kids uncomfortable. Sound strange?  Talk about porn, sex, safe sex, birth control, Christian values, faith, child molesters, unsafe people, politics, drugs, divorce, etc.…  Better at home to bring them up, don’t leave it to school, the internet, strangers, peers, etc. Your belief system is a far better teacher. They will squirm and you may too but it gives them a chance to ask you and create a safe channel of communication lines. Make the world safer for your children and for our community, our world.

Be willing to understand you will make mistakes, plenty of them. You must own up to them for not doing so sends a message to your children that you are perfect, arrogant or unwilling to admit you’re wrong. None of us is expected to be a perfect mom; we are only expected to try our best with what we are given. If your kids love you, they will appreciate what they are given. If they can’t accept that, you must let them struggle with why. God placed them with you for a reason.

Walking into motherhood requires prayer. Some children you can’t survive with without it.  Your miracle didn’t get here without God. It will certainly go better for all if you continue to allow God’s miracles to happen in your life and theirs by asking for a little help!  


Some children, as they move on with their lives, may move completely out of your life. This is hard
as you age because, though the memories may forever make you feel young at heart, your body gives your age away.  They may put the priority of you in their life on a backburner more than ever just as you realize your life is coming closer to the end. Know in your heart that many mothers have shared this fate.  You are not alone.  As when your children slammed the door after screaming they hate you, you must leave the door closed much as it hurts. Continue to love them and continue to pray. You have been a mom and will continue to be till the end of your life but it is their choice to make. You planted the seed and showed them what unconditional love was. Now is the time to reflect on the precious memories if no more are created.


Though motherhood is full of heart aches, drama and trauma, it is also full of laughter, joy and pride. It is a time of celebration and a lifetime of memories. It is reminder of our Christian faith in that Mary, mother of Jesus showed how one so kindhearted and loving could raise a king meaning each and every one of us is capable of turning a single baby into someone who can change the world! 

5/01/2017

Children & The Impact of Divorce

After the “I dos” of marriage comes the “I don’ts” many weren’t expecting!  After a wedding, it seems like the start of something big, and beautiful but marriage can be far from that. Like any relationship it takes work. But the diligent work doesn’t get done half the time for various reasons. Thus, many in America are divorced and its effects are felt on the little people who don’t have a say in the decision.

 For the third year in a row, divorce rates have dropped. That is the good news, the bad news is we still had, in 2016, a 40-50% divorce rate in America. With second time marriages, it is much higher.  It is interesting to know, we use to have the highest divorce rate of all the nations and have dropped in our standing! However, this still leave so many children in broken homes in our country. 23% are living with single mothers and most of the rest in blended families. It is estimated by U.S. Consensus Bureau in 2016 there are 73.7 million children affected and living in divorced homes in some type of different home situation than the nuclear family.

The effects of divorce on children is overwhelming profound anxiety. Much more in-depth effects is available on Focus on the Family’s website.  Parents are supposed to be problem solvers and a safety net for children. Divorce is change, failure, loss and a fear of conflict meaning no stability again.

A few weeks ago, while swimming in our pool at our Clubhouse I noticed two young girls swimming in the shallow end. They turned out to be 8 years old and 10 years old when they swam over and introduced themselves to me. They asked if they could talk to me. I was surprised by the question and told them sure. I then asked who they were there with and why would they want to talk to an adult, me, when they can play in the pool. The answer stunned me.  They wanted to just talk.

The older child, 10, explained she was there with her grandmother, whom she pointed out laying in a chair by the pool texting on her cellphone. They enjoy coming over to the grandmother’s house together, one was a friend of the other.  The 10 year old went on to say that her parents were divorced and her friend repeated this about her home also. They both went on to tell me, in very unemotional voice that they don’t get much of a chance to talk to adults. They thought I looked like someone who would talk and listen to them. I told them I was a grandma too and they were very excited. By now, I had their undivided attention, whether I wanted it or not.

I explained to them I came from a divorce home too and understood it can be hard to adjust. It takes time. The 10 year old (I am intentionally leaving out names) shocked me with her next comments. She said that it had been a couple years now since her parents divorced. Her father left the area and now never has any contact with her.  She said “I will probably never see my real dad again.” Her mother had a new boyfriend again and she didn’t even know his name but he was living with them.  I questioned why she didn’t know his name. She said it is not worth worrying about, he will leave sooner or later like all the others.  They get along, they fight and then they break up so I try not to care about any new boyfriends, besides they really don’t care much about me.” The 8 year old said, basically the same thing. I asked the girls how are you feeling about all this change in their life?

Listen to the response:  “It doesn’t bother me anymore, we are used to it. See, we figured it out. People get married to have kids and then get divorced. So a lot of kids don’t really have a mom and
dad  anymore. I wish I was one that did. Mine moved far away, to get away from us I guess.”  The 8 year old looked at the 10 year old and said “I never get much attention anymore, my mom is too busy with her latest boyfriend. It has changed so much.” Her older friend, her mentor, assured her that this was normal. “Don’t feel bad, it is life,” she said. She explained to her friend that the time was over for both her parents to care about her, she was practically grown now and in school.  She likes meeting new men and then bringing them home to live with her.  She said that is why friends are so good for us. She then looked at her friend who looked quite sad, and said “Try to learn to accept it. It really is okay, it won’t change just because you are sad.”

I was silent for a few moments, unsure what to say. No one wants to add more confusion into a child’s life so I simply said you are valued and loved children for being children, never ever forget that. I suggested they talk to their parents but was met with, we tried, and she never has time for us anymore. It really is okay, we are fine, the older one proclaimed with a smile, but alittle on the forced side.  Underneath, below the surface, was the adult sadness in both girls’ eyes.

This is simply two girls, a sampling of the millions of children living in broken homes in America. But it clearly shows that, when getting divorced, do not make the mistake of divorcing your children’s needs. Your children were created, not by choice, and should have a right to getting attention and love.  This conversation was much deeper below the surface.

Parents are role models, they will follow the patterns you establish. Don’t invite other partners into your home without explaining to your children who they are and giving them a few chances to catch their breath, especially if you are bringing in people like a revolving door. This affects children for life, decreasing their chances of having a successful happy, fulfilled marriage.  They think this is the norm, not the exception and will not take commitment seriously. Because yours didn’t work, don’t condemn them to failure.

But, I think the biggest lesson I learned and was reminded of in my own life is the importance of talking to your children. Open communication lines, by the way, goes in two directions. You use interpersonal communication skills to talk to them and then allow them, make the time, the biological parent! Listen, not just to what your kids say but what they do and how they do it. Try to keep both parents an active part or some small part of their lives. Failing grades, health issues or restless sleeping are all signs of maladjustment. Seek a therapist for both your child and you if there are issues and don’t just leave it to chance. They are worth more than that.

There is nothing worse than feeling, like these girls went on to tell me, an old tire, long forgotten and pulled off the car when the divorce happened. They felt, as many do, there really was no purpose for them in their parents’ life anymore.  They deserve more love, attention and respect than that. Freedom from a bad marriage comes at a cost. Don’t make your children the ones that have to pay the heaviest price.


4/12/2017

One Year Anniversary in Florida!

Anniversary of a year in Florida! Hard to believe it has been that long that we have lived here, it seems like yesterday that a decision was made by my husband overnight, we needed a new chapter


and it should include a move. I felt like I came kicking and screaming to some extent but with unbridled anticipation of excitement, afraid I would be disappointed so hanging on to fear of change. This was a reversal of roles in our marriage! And after one year, the rewards were plentiful and the time has been enlightening.

The fear was that with Jim’s retirement and limited income, we would not be busy. Moving to Florida, closer to new sights and an active 55+ community felt like that might invite activity on our calendar.  Leaving behind three grandchildren in Nashville was heart-breaking but also realizing we cannot plan a life around them while we still have our health was vital to our decision.  Their life is not planned around ours, nor should it be.

So with the move has come opportunities to spend Thanksgiving with my cousin Scottie and his wife Levaughn, my Aunt Nancy and my cousin Renee! I still have a few family and friends I have yet to catch up with down here, unbelievable as it sounds!  Janis, Patty and another Renee are on my list!

We have had company come down to stay with us that has been a wonderful opportunity to spend uninterrupted fun time. These trips are vacation trips for others that allow us time to share in their fun so as thankful as they are for free lodging and company we are just as grateful for the priceless moments and sharing of life’s moments!  Truly a treasure and we know, if not living in Florida, guests would not abound!  Everyone seems to love the beach and Disneyworld!

It has not been all fun and smiles. During this year, we have lost our most beloved family member, Charley. We had to say goodbye, in our home here. Watching him quickly deteriorate before our eyes was heart-breaking and the aftermath seemed as bad. We have his ashes in our room, reminders in our yard and home and speak of him still pretty regularly but with smiles once again.

We have seen an election come and ago that has been quite upsetting to us and troubling as we are both on Medicare and are starch Democrats living in a Republican county, for the most part. Being called Libtards and having family subtly support views that affect you directly and are in direct contrast to your Christian morality have been unsettling but seem to have drawn us closer and more prayerful at our church. We have been blessed to have priests that support all sides that show compassion towards people.

I never realized that Florida had so many beaches with such varied personalities? I suppose you have
to live here to truly see the magnitude of it but it is astounding! The parks are plentiful and several have much more than alligators lurking in murky areas including tropical birds walking around freely. Our community has three “mates “of sand cranes.  We still stop and stare whenever we see them, whether driving in a golf cart, walking or riding a bike as it is so odd for us to see large tropical birds walking down the street!

Experiencing tropical storms wasn’t all fun but we were aware this was an issue so were strategic in picking Zephyrhills knowing it was not close enough to the beaches to be affected as much. However, we had no idea, when mail came, people would misspell it so much, mispronounce it and an hour and 15 minutes to the beach in rush hour traffic down here equates to, whelp, it varies….not good!
 
Our home in Tennessee was hard to leave but as a friend, Tammy Ratliff said to me, before moving, only take with you the pieces you love to Florida. She suggested make your home look like the new chapter in your life, all new and Floridian. She was right, being frugal with money is easier in Florida and the new look suits us perfectly here.  Everyone that has seen our new ‘digs’ raves about the look. I am so proud of the outcome, honestly, as I went outside of my comfort zone and went for a totally new color scheme and peaceful easy feeling look that is Florida Tammy!  And the smaller size home doesn’t seem small actually once we were living here either. It is plenty for us and accommodates visitors great. Love the fact it is so much easier to keep clean and I got to competely redecorate with all new colors and new scheme!  The end result, well, I am quite proud and the compliments roll in for someone who is not known for being remotely close to Martha Stewart! 

Our community is full of fun things to do so in a nutshell, hot tubs, pool tables, pool (heated in the winter), new clubhouse that now has coffee bar inside, dance floor, library, newer restaurant opening
inside it in June, all sorts of clubs and activities, on and on….you can’t get bored unless you stay in bed. There are the bunch here into golf, as we sit on a golf course, hence Southport Golf Course Community, lol, but nope, we are not planning on taking it up!  With too many issues the entire time I have been here with both shoulders, not a chance!

Thomas Promise has become part of my non-profit passion, a program helping feed hungry children over the weekend in the county. I not only help pack several days a week, with Jim when he is free, but handle their Twitter account now opting to bypass Breast Cancer work for now. This seems a greater need here. I find it exhilarating and am meeting some wonderful people and making some great connections in local business and government.

Tampa is very cool. Busch Gardens is a regular for us as there are concert series two times a year for season ticket holders and we live only 20 minutes away.  We have seen so many sites in and around Florida but still have items added to our bucket list regularly.  Being close to cruise ship ports is an added benefit for last minute cruise deals, yes we love cruising!

Perhaps a video is in order with pictures of some of the moments we treasure.  The hardest part though has still been being further away from some we treasure and not being able to see the
grandkids on a whim.   We definitely feel detached from their lives but it was beginning to feel that way when we lived in Nashville already.  Many had encouraged us to leave the area and quit looking over our shoulders for more time when less was the norm as the kids got older and the parents busier. We realized, too, as we aged, we are less of a priority to our children that are left.   Jim’s son passed away, my daughter and I have no relationship and my son is immersed in his own life.   He and I had talked so he knew well in advance that we were considering moving and that I also respected the fact I was no longer needed in his life as much and that his schedule was super busy.

Learning which of you have stayed in touch has also been valuable indeed!  We will always find time in our lives for you and be there if you need us as you have been this past year for us during our   
transition.    Know that taking steps towards major change is possible, it’s hard but rewarding.  You will find bumps along the way but inner strength you never knew you had.  In some ways, I felt I left much of what I had behind. In hindsight, perhaps there wasn’t as much there as I thought and I have found more anew.  May you always find, with each new page of your life, you will discover that too!
                                  
                                                 Pictures of a Year in Review





4/02/2017

Deciphering Dreams


An open window overlooking a balcony with sounds of the ocean waves crashing as you fall asleep; this is a peaceful evening sending you off to dreamland.  When you wake up, you have a smile on your face.  Many do not even remember trying to fall asleep much less their dreams. Unfortunately, there are those of that wake up from non-pleasant dreams!

Estimates of how many adults experience nightmares vary, depending on who you ask and most occur during the REM stage of sleep.  They can be quite troublesome as a bad dream lingers in your mind as you struggle to make sense of the bizarre in waking hours. In our subconscious, there are no impossibilities, no boundaries and not much makes sense.  Thus, the content of dreams is often bizarre in the light of day and appears nonsensical.

After taking a graduate level class on Dream Analysis at the urging of a Professor in college, I realized I had spent too much time on my own deciphering peripheral items.  This is the most common mistake in trying to understand your dreams. Our subconscious allows our creativity to go into overdrive! The brain has this capacity to come up with the wildest things.  But in understanding your dreams, it is sifting through the guise of white noise where you will find the true meaning.  And make no mistake, for individuals with a troubled life or with issues, it may take a trained therapist to work with much more than the dream analysis to get a reoccurent pattern to break if an issue in ‘real time’ isn’t being addressed.

Our class was required to keep journals. One of our tasks was to record any dream we remembered, each and every detail including any feelings we remembered, if in color, all colors, outlines, other persons, voices, etc..   We began to learn how to, not only understand ours but classmates, at least starter questions to begin the process of deciphering dreams.  Note: in our class it was not only negative dreams, it was also positive experiences.  The interaction with other’s dreams was indeed helpful   because we are often more objective and less protective looking at others dreams than we are at ours.

Good starter questions to stimulate thought around a dream are:
  • ·         How did you feel when this happened? Is this something you are feeling now in your waking hours?
  • ·         Who are the people in your dreams? Are they currently in your life and what relationship do they have with you?  What feelings does it create in you to interact with them?
  • ·          Has anything even remotely happened to you like this before? If so, what was it? Can you draw any parallels?
  • ·         Do any of the surroundings or items in your dream remind you of anything or anyone in your present life or past? Did you have closure with them or is there some unresolved issue hanging in the air?
  • ·         Is your creativity much wider in your dreams than in reality?  Why do you think that is? 

There are millions of questions you can ask but start with the most basic.

Nightmares, a negative dream is more common with adults than one would think.  Persistent issues can cause many a sleepless nights.  Adults can also have night terrors, similar to children. This is especially true of those with PTSD where the nightmare progresses to the point where it can involve screaming, kicking and make the individual need to be shaken to be physically woken up from a sleep stage.  PTSD can also occur at any age, bringing on these nightmare episodes, depending on anyone’s individual perception of stress and bizarre incidents in life. Everyone processes events in life differently so PTSD is not a diagnosis solely for veterans and abuse victims. E.g. a woman woke up during surgery but could not speak so was awake during the extensive surgery in Minnesota 5 years ago. She is currently in treatment for PTSD and has night terrors reliving this experience.

Bedtime for adults should be as it is for children, a routine of peace and calm. As I write this I think of all those young parents out there that as soon as they get a chance, literally fly like Superman and Wonderwoman into their bed!  But if you suffer from lack of sleep from nightmares or night terrors, know that this single step can be a life changer.

Switch sides of the bed, upgrade your pillow, put a diffuser in your bedroom with a favorite scent, spray your sheets before you slip in, read a magazine in bed before you turn off the lights but add in something new! A good night’s sleep is priceless and when you are tired you are more likely to not sleep well, thus be more restless with more negative thoughts through your sleep cycle.


And remember, a dark thought during the day creates dark dreams. Work on positive thoughts of life and you during the day so you go to bed with a smile, sleep that way and wake up ready  to spread some joy!

3/16/2017

Beautiful Boys

Sometimes boys get a bad rap. All the little girls get showered with praise full of the compliments on their girly looks, the clothes, gifts of doll babies.  Left out of all these stereo type cultures we live in are the little boys in the world with their trucks and blue jeans. I will never forget reading Cinderella Ate my Daughter by Peggy Orenstein who was bound and determined when she had a girl, she would fall not fall into that trap. Lo and behold, she did.

Having grandchildren it is different. Each and every child is so special, there is no chance of being smitten by the girls are sweeter and pink is more fun to shop for, at least in my mind. I have gotten past that as I have aged because each little individual brings their own uniqueness to the world and to my life; I love them all beyond words.

Recently, on a trip to my son’s house, my husband and I took two of our grandsons to the park for an afternoon. It was a beautiful day, and as I watched them play, I noticed how much they had grown. It was one of those epiphany moments where you sit back, as a grandmother, and have pride in that your little ones are beginning to be more independent. Yet, as they adventured about, we had to follow them steadfast because they wanted us right behind them to share in each and every adventure! So refreshing to know, even with independence, we fill a spot in their hearts even as they grow up. I hope, long after we are gone, they remember afternoons like this, memories at the park.

I told my husband I wanted to attempt to capture that afternoon, somewhat, in pictures. One can truly never really get the feeling in a digital image, not the emotion but I was going to try.  Truly the boys are beautiful.  Jake and Ty look quite alike in many ways and yet, personality wise, could not be more different! Attached is a video if you care to watch it, done to John Lennon’s song Beautiful Boy. He wrote it for his own son whom he was never fortune enough to see grow up.

May you find those moments in your life when you can sit outside or venture to a park and watch children play. There is such beauty in all young people’s faces and passion for discovery. I am forever grateful for the moments I too can sit and observe the beautiful boys in my life.



2/19/2017

Healthy Kids

One of the reasons I care so much about what is going on politically in regards to healthcare in this country is the impact it has on children. Poor in America have enough trouble feeding their children. If they can’t afford to live they can’t afford healthcare. Without adequate healthcare, they are more likely to have a need for medical care and it needs to be affordable.
There are over 45.7 Million Americans living in poverty.  Can you  imagine a family of four living on $23, 550 and having to obtain medical insurance on a competitive market? An individual in poverty makes a max of $11, 490 annually and if put on a high risk pool would have to pay more in premiums for healthcare. I ask you how, on what? This might be a single father. This is a reality for 13.5% of Americans.

Let’s assume economists are wrong and that no recession is going to happen in the next several years so things won’t get worse for those at poverty level. Let’s assume that no one else loses a job and falls into the poverty level and some come out of it.  We are still talking about 13.5 % of our country’s population.  Currently Medicaid (for those at poverty level and children) combined with CHIP (special insurance program only children are eligible that have parents that make slightly too much for Medicaid and it is administered by State government) have nearly 70 million people on these plans, 1 in 5 people in our country!

Keeping that number in mind, is it any wonder protestors are shouting in the street that a Medical Care Plan in existence can’t be pulled out without being replaced immediately for the poor in society?  Children that are sick deserve treatment. This is not an uncivilized country that we live in that should be calling on the United Nations or Mission Trips from foreign counties to help sick children needing medical attention. There is enough money in America to care for medical care for youth and their care-takers/parents.

What psychological effect does it have on children to see their parents ill and not getting help?  Having a chronic illness is grueling. Not being able to get treated for it is worse. That is a stress on an entire family but on a child, to try to process it is very hard. These children have a hard enough life living in poverty. Our nation should have some sort of obligation to its youth. They deserve at least medical care and a parent that loves them to be around and support them. There are not enough parents to go around to foster these children.

If the issue isn’t addressed, know that there are currently 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. It is not without its problems finding good homes to foster children. 100,000 of these children are looking for adoptive homes. Thus, the children whose parents need medical insurance, if it is cut and they can’t afford it, Republicans must feel their life has no value. There lies a greater question, are Republicans putting these children in poverty homes into a foster care home?

The foster care system is already well over a $22 Billion dollar program of tax payers money. Even with continued reforms, children that have been placed in this system suffer at least one form of abuse. Many experts say the system is beyond hope and needs to be completely abolished. I was shocked to learn 74% of inmates have been in the foster care system and 80% of all prisoners on death row have been in this system as well!

As a nation with so many youth in poverty-stricken homes, until that changes, knowing health is a major factor in all areas of life, politicians must make healthcare affordable for the least of our brothers and sisters. I am not saying which system is best, which plan, I simply know penalzing those that are chronically ill isn’t the answer. They already are spending money continually on medication. Their life is already lived at half-mast. Why would our government want to knock them down more?  Certainly there are other ways to save money besides making children lose their live, their parents or their grandparents prematurely?  Even middle-income Americans struggle with insurance premiums and drug costs. How in the world can a unwed mother on a minimum wage afford increases on Medical family policies?

We must, as a nation, recognize we have fought wars side by side against enemies. We have waved our flag to stand united during war times and joyful celebrations. To turn our back on neighbors that are fellow Americans simply because they don’t make as much money is not only un-American but cruel. Simply because their lot in life is less does not mean their life has less value in God’s eyes. Certainly we can band together and support that medical advances are for everyone’s benefit, most especially for children. They deserve to have their parents healthy and their lives free from disease. 


We are the world, yes we all are the children. 

2/07/2017

Florida Agrees with Me, Still

I am finding living in Florida quite agrees with me. I am still lost once I leave our community pretty
easily and would be SOL without a GPS and a cell phone. But luckily, with Jim retired, most of the
time, we are together. And yes, we actually find we do get along, better now than ever. Without the
stress of a job, life seems easier to take. And so, here are some updates on our life in the land of palm trees and a much closer drive to the beach!

Jim has been a part of a horseshoe team. He and the guys bond over twice a week practices and then competing with other communities in the area once a week. He started off feeling inadequate as some of these men are quite good!  One of them has won huge prize winnings over the years at nationwide competitions.  His name is Daniel Jack. The way we remember his name is it sounds like a drink, Jack Daniels, Tennessee Whiskey.  He is French and speaks with quite an accent, at times hard to understand.  He has taken a liking to my husband as if Jim is under his wing in the area of horseshoes. Jim says it is because he is so poor at it! But, he is getting much better, the more he plays!

I have gone up before, on an off day, when Jim has been practicing and, as luck would have it, Daniel is there to give Jim advice. At first it made him quite nervous. Did I mention Daniel has been known to throw 298 out of 300 ringers? Well, that didn’t happen the day he was paired with Jim! But Jim played his best 8 games ever so now apparently the advice is paying dividends!  Maybe one day Jim will go on the national circuit and you will hear of him in the news for horseshoe champ! (Don’t bet on it just yet!)

I have been busy volunteering at Thomas Promise. This is a program that packs lunch packs for the needy children in the area to take home on Fridays to help get them thru the weekend. I go up on Mon. and Tues. mornings with a group of women and men to work on this and thoroughly enjoy being a part of this project that started about 4 years ago. If it sounds easy, about the time I go home, I feel like I need a nap! I have never seen so many Ramen noodles, spaghetti o’s, oatmeal packages and cracker snack packs in my life. They get several things, some volunteered and some have to be bought. I wish more folks understood the need for these types of programs.  Some of the schools in this county aren’t served due to lack of funds and space.  But I feel pretty blessed to be able to do my part.

We still manage fun times for just us. One of the beaches we hit one afternoon we had packed lunches to eat.  Our plan was to just sit out and soak up the sun and read. A seagull swoops down and while the sandwich is in Jim’s mouth it literally pulls it out of Jim’s mouth. Another one comes from the other side of his head, honking and screeching at the other bird, extremely agitated because he thought he had eyed the sandwich first. The sandwich hit the ground as did my chair when I bounded out of it flying towards the water screaming. All I could think of was the movie The Birds and running for cover.

Now I have learned, since that day, seagulls, that I use to enjoy on the beach on leisurely trips to Florida, are a pain. Anytime they see food, they want to become your BFF and hang onto you like a
vulture does to roadkill and you literally can’t shake them off. You can wave things at them, and they keep coming back. We eat on shifts, one to flag them away while the other eats, or stay covered. 

I cannot believe our orange tree is showing signs of producing orange oranges, verses green ones! 
They had been green fruit that turned to blackish and fell off up to now. It has proven to both of us
that we were not green thumbs at anything.  We actually have had a few, meaning 2. But it is a start so I am overjoyed! I feel like a fruit tree grower. Don’t burst my bubble; it has taken me 10 months to get here!


In remembrance of our dear Charley, we have a statue out front in our landscaping of him. We don’t
see it, obviously, when we are in the house, but when we come home from anywhere or walk, we spot it. It is welcoming to see the reminder and sad at the same time, that he won’t be inside the door wagging his tail. We needed to let him know that our home is not our home without him guarding it. Our neighbors, even though it is somewhat hidden on the side of a bush, have all commented on Charley out there which warms our hearts that they care and miss him too.

We found ourselves finally at Busch Gardens and bought our annual pass so we will be going frequently, time permitting. It is so much nicer than we thought it would be. I have never been a bird person but the ones there are unreal, types I have never seen, exotic, some making weird noises, colorful, and you’re able to see some birds without cages. 

There were many of other activities, shows, animals too. All the roller coasters were just not going to
go well with my migraine that day.  I can't imagine flipping upside down with a throbbing head pain! We are  going to love being close to the Park with free entry now. Already too, first time in, we got over the experience of getting separated and lost. He calling me, me texting him, missing where we were suppose to meet up, its my fault not describing it well enough, his fault for not being there at the right time, etc and you both land up mad over a half hour or more later! You know the drill, don't say you don't!By the time you do, neither is talking to the other! And then, you land up laughing about it!

Florida is sunny so much of the time that it makes it impossible to go around with a frown on. The weather simply won’t let you do that. So regardless of what is going on, health wise or otherwise, we find the palm trees keep us looking up, the ocean waves keep us looking outward and the warm weather keeps us moving forward with happiness.