I’m back!

Well it has taken some work but I’m back.  ☺

Lesson learned, Annie does not know enough about blogging to make a self hosted site.

Life is changing here we are moving to a new state.  It’s an opportunity for us to have a fresh start without baggage from former marriages.

So for now I’m typing on a tablet.  It’s harder than it looks.

This is a most amazing story of God’s grace.

celtic straits

(Updates follow article)

Four years ago today, I posted a blog about my emergency room “miracle experience” after the Aurora Theater shooting. The post went viral, and created some controversy. Does God really do miracles? Why for one person and not another? Does a good God even exist?

I don’t claim to have all the answers. But I saw the miracle with my own eyes. Thank you to those who have asked me to repost this story for a reminder: God is still at work.

July 23, 2012

At Columbine High School, I have seen this before. But not up close.  As a church pastor in Denver, I have worked as a chaplain alongside several police and fire departments. I was privileged to counsel parents just hours after the Columbine shootings. However, in this new tragedy at the Aurora Theater Dark Night shooting, one of the victims was a 22-year-old…

View original post 1,737 more words

This was so cute I had to share!

Mike Apsey

Children warned name of first pet should contain 8 characters and a digit

Popular pet names Rover, Cheryl and Kate could be a thing of the past. Banks are now advising parents to think carefully before naming their child’s first pet. For security reasons, the chosen name should have at least eight characters, a capital letter and a digit. It should not be the same as the name of any previous pet, and must never be written down, especially on a collar as that is the first place anyone would look. Ideally, children should consider changing the name of their pet every 12 weeks.

View original post 131 more words

Write it down

The day before I met my ex-husband I started a journal.  I kept it all through our marriage.  After the divorce I was too busy raising kids alone, and working, to write.  I regret that so much!

The other day I ran across a rare journal entry written during those single parenting years.  It really brought home the difficult time I had being a single parent. I was transported to this specific day in time.

I had a go-around with my oldest two boys who refused to live by my rules.  The oldest was old enough that he could have just left if he didn’t like my rules.  My second son, however, was still in high school and did not have that option.  On this particular occasion, I had reached such a level of frustration that I called my ex-husband to give me some back up.  Now what on earth made me think, that the man who wouldn’t back me up as my spouse would back me up as me ex-spouse, is beyond me… but I called him.

He came over with his second wife.  I wasn’t thrilled to see her I’ll tell you, but I understood that she wanted some solidarity.  I explained my situation.  His wife actually got it.  She got it!  She told the boys that if they thought my rules were unreasonable they really wouldn’t like hers.  She guaranteed that living with me would seem like a blessing compared to living with them.  I thought, “Thank you!”  My ex shushed her and said that wasn’t what they needed to hear.  The heck it wasn’t it!  It was exactly what they needed to hear!

He told the boys to take care of their responsibilities (they had refused to do chores amongst other things).  My oldest son started crying and told his dad, “Why don’t you take care of your responsibilities?”  The second boy went downstairs refusing to hear any more.

At this point his wife was insightful again.  She turned to him and said, “If this is about your boys being angry at you, and taking it out on their mom, you need to talk to your sons.”

Oh he really didn’t like that!  He told the boys to just work it out with me, and nearly pushed her out the door as they left.

I felt let down by my ex-husband again!  I felt like I had to scoop my boys up off the floor and put them back together again.

They did their chores.  One of them apologized.  The other took a few more days to apologize.  I never called their dad like that again.

The next day my ex-husband called and asked, “So did you get things worked out with your boys?”  It was like reality slapped me in the face!  They were MY boys.  My job to raise… my sons.

Reading that after all of these years I was transported back to that time.  I remember the house, the carpet,  the smells that were there at the time, all of it.  Back to what it took to be a single parent.  Back to how much I love and care for my children.  (All four of them)

I wish I had written down more days than this one.  Occasionally I find one or two that I wrote down, but they are few and far between. I wish I had written down more of our happy days.  Of how it felt to watch my children grow up.  Days that I just enjoyed watching them play basketball in front of our house.  What a kick I got out of the kids jumping on the trampoline, or digging a hole in the garden.  How good it felt to sit down to Sunday dinner together and say a prayer over the food.  Playing on the computer together.  Or the day I kicked their butts playing a video game.  All I did was push buttons having no idea what I was doing and I beat them!

So, no matter where you are at in your life, write it down.  It will matter some day.  You get old, you forget.  Having it on paper and reading it again, you suddenly remember, even more than what you wrote.  Write it down.

Fireworks and neurotic dogs

I just read that the 5th of July is the busiest day at pet shelters.  I’m not surprised.  If our dear dog, Athena, could run for the hills she would have been long gone.  The poor thing has tried to hide under the computer desk, under our legs, anywhere possible.

Dear hubby had to put her in her kennel after giving her something to calm her nerves.  It still took her almost 45 minutes to calm down. My toy poodle, Rusty, is not as unruffled, but he is still breathing hard.

I know that fireworks will be going until the wee hours of the morning.  It is a great day to celebrate!

I will be up babysitting our little furbabies.

Happy 4th of July everyone!  And take care of your pets too!

Whose kitchen is this anyway?

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are cooking dinner, the kids are under foot, the phone is ringing and the doorbell rings?  I think most of us have had that at some point or another.

My hubby and I have a unique situation.  He works six days a week, 10 hour days.  So he is pretty tired when he gets home.  Having been a single dad he is used to getting home and cooking dinner.  I am used to working all day and coming home to an empty house and eating something I cook in the microwave.  So to put it plainly, he is a better cook than I am.  It has been so many years since I had people to cook for that I just don’t do it as well. I have some recipes that I make very well, but it is limited.

Honestly, I hate cooking.  I don’t mind it occasionally.  The everyday grind of cooking is not fun though. If we didn’t have to eat or sleep just think of how much more we could get done.  No dishes to do.  No groceries to buy.

However, I know that the most important time of the day is when the family is sitting around the dinner table.

My hubby has some specific ways he likes his food too.  Vegetables and pasta need to be al dente (to the tooth).  No soggy food!  He is also very good about using up what is in the fridge.  Me, not so much!  I kind of throw something together.  My kids used to clean out my fridge and find some very interesting biological experiments growing in there.  Who knows, I could have invented some new form of penicillin.

So we have found that as I try to get used to being a stay-at-home mom again, and take care of my family, we have a clash.  Dear hubby is so quick to tell me what to cook sometimes that I don’t even get a chance to decide on a menu.  There are days that I don’t really mind his suggestions.  He has a wider variety of food ideas.  I’m just having a struggle feeling like I’m independent in any way at all.

So whose kitchen is this anyway?  Maybe we need a menu that is predetermined so that I don’t get so frustrated.

Pinterest makes it that much more challenging.  There are always great recipes on there!  Do people eat like that every night?  I’m already over-weight.  If I make all those recipes I would be SO HUGE!  I’m still tempted to make each recipe and review it.  What do you think?

Well I tried the recipe from Pinterest for a Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake.  It was FABULOUS!  We have our own blueberry bushes, so I picked the berries and put fresh blueberries on the cheesecake.  It was so good!  The lemon in the cheesecake was the perfect amount.  Not too strong and not too mild.  Miss E even ate it!  She hates blueberries.

So that is my little review for that recipe.  YUMMY!  Check it out here .  If I can make it and have everyone love it, anyone can!

What we find beautiful

The other day I saw some pictures a friend of mine posted from Yellowstone Park.  I thought instictively of how beautiful the area is.  I grew up around there.

Then I wondered if other people find it all that beautiful.  It is pretty dry and brown.  It’s not the green lush area that I live in now.

My hubby and I are growing a cactus garden.  (His idea)  Most of our cactus came from starts that his mom gave him.  It is kind of fun to watch him enjoy watching these plants grow, bloom and divide.

A few years ago a friend and I went on a cross-country trip with 5 kids in tow.  It was amazing!  We had so much fun!

I loved seeing the country first-hand.  The further east we went, the greener it got.  Upstate New York is beautiful!  New York City is crowded.  The taxi divers, delivery drivers and everyone else on the roads honked at each other even when no one could move.

On the way back we spent three days in Nauvoo, Illinois.  It was great to see.  It was hot and muggy and there were the biggest bugs by the river.  It was like being dive bombed by helicopters instead of a mere bug!

As we came into western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming my heart started to beat a little faster.  The terrain was brown and the brush was dry.  I saw a couple of antelope and I thought, “I’m almost home!”

As a kid I thought my mom was one of the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.  (still do)  She has blue eyes and skin that tans.  I have brown eyes and freckles.

A while back an aunt of mine said that I have hands like my mom’s.  I was first startled and then I smiled.  I have always loved my mom’s hands.  I am happy to have hands like hers.

I think that the things we love most are seen as beautiful in our eyes.  So I smile when I see our little cactus garden.  It is a reminder of where we both came from.

Turtle vs Snail

I wrote earlier about our little Box Turtle and how obsessed the dog is with her (which hasn’t changed).  Today I wanted to write about the turtle.  Did you know that turtles are omnivores?  Which basically means they will eat anything!  They are kind of like the goats of the reptile world.

Snails beefing up on oatmeal

Last week my dear hubby brought home some snails that he picked up around the shop where he works, after a good rain.  We wondered how the turtle would handle the snails.  Well she popped up her head and watched them move around her domicile for about a minute.  Then it was like a gory scene from a horror movie!  She turned into mini Tyrannosaurus Rex.  She zoomed (in turtle form) across the terrarium to the first snail and… wait for it… CRUNCH!  She bit into the snail shell and all!  CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH!

By then the other snails had seen the fate that awaited them and were doing all they could to hide.

Turtles are actually a lot faster than you might imagine, especially when they have dinner on their minds.  So the turtle had no problem catching and devouring the other snails in minutes flat.

Of course my husband and I weren’t the only ones who were interested in what was going on.  Athena aka obsessed dog, was doing her best to get a view of the carnage.  She was climbing around and trying to get the best spot she could without getting yelled at.

I was going to change the turtle’s water but decided that with the gleam in her eye, that said she wanted more blood, I’d best wait to put my fingers in there.  (Not really, she hasn’t bitten anyone, but it sounds good doesn’t it?)

So today we have a new batch of snails waiting to be sacrificed to the turtle.  I’m going to let my hubby put them in there.  It really kind of fascinates him.  Okay, I find it kind of amazing too.  Still… I’m not touching them!  Ew!  At least they aren’t slugs!  I really couldn’t touch those!

Parental Ping Pong

One of the things blended families get to deal with is the inevitable time when the children bounce from one parent to another.  My niece and nephews just went back to my brother in Wisconsin, leaving their mom in Idaho.  They do this yearly.

Last night my stepdaughter announced that she is going to live with her mom.  So we begin the volleys of kids coming and going.

My husband gets very hurt by all of this.  He says that he just doesn’t understand why they don’t want to live with him.  He gave them everything their little hearts could desire.  The truth is we all need both of our parents.  Not that all parents live up to that title, but we need their influence.

I’m going to go out on a limb here.  I’ve been a single mom.  I know what it is like trying to be all things to all people.  It is exhausting!  I’ve also been a juvenile probation officer for nearly 15 years.  I’ve seen things and come to some conclusions.  Now here is my disclaimer: what I am about to say is my opinion.  It is not proven by scientific theory after testing on test groups and control groups.  However, I do feel like I know a little about what I am going to say.

Kids crave boundaries.   They need to learn to work for that which they receive.  If we give in to their every whim, we are handicapping our children.  Plain and simple.

I grew up in an era that taught us to work.  I had a job from the age 14 on (with some breaks here and there).  I helped take care of 5 younger brother and sisters (only one brother).  I could mow a lawn, shovel a walk, do the dishes, sweep the floor and vacuum the carpet.  I folded laundry which included cloth diapers when I was growing up.

My children had a chore chart on the fridge.  They knew (in detail) what was required of them.  It was consistent and they could depend on it.  If they called me at work and asked if they could go do something they got two standard questions.  #1-  Is your Homework done?  #2- Are your chores done?  If the answer to either of these was “no” the answer was, “Then why are you calling me?”

We value that which we work for far over that which is just handed to us.

I see a growing trend amongst kids to get what they want by going to the parent who will give it to them.  Not that they have to work for it.  We are raising a generation of youth (Not all of our children ok?  So don’t lynch me.) that are entitled.  They honestly believe that just because their bright and shiny face got out of bed at noon, after playing video games all night, that they DESERVE whatever they want.

Okay, I know teenagers have been teenagers for thousands of years.  I just think that when we look at the problems like gang activity, disrespect to elders (did you see the video of the kids taunting the 68 year-old bus monitor?) teen pregnancy, and substance abuse, it is different.  Our youth are being taught to be liars, thieves, self-indulgent, drug-users, and hateful to their own parents.

Who is to blame you ask.  Well, to quote one of my former co-workers (a juvenile probation officer) who was speaking to a distraught father, “How long did it take to you teach him to be like that?”  Yes!  We are to blame.  The buck stops here folks!

If our children know that they can play one parent against another (triangulation) to get what they want… they will do it!

Here is what I mean.  Say you go to Las Vegas, you put some money in the slot machine and pull the handle, you lose.  You put some money in, you lose.  You do this several times and then, you win!  Not much, but you did win something.  So you again put some money in the machine only to repeat the process.  Why?  Well because you know that if you do it enough times, you win.

Our children are just the same way.  If they throw a tantrum to get their way and it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, then finally the parent gives in and VOILA!  They win!  Do you think they are going to try it again?  Of course they are!  They have just been taught something very powerful!

Divorced parents are so much more susceptible  to this problem.  Remember I said that children crave boundaries?  Well how are they going to get boundaries if they can run to one parent and bad-mouth the other parent to get what they want?  There are no boundaries.  Children start to see the world as if they are in charge.

So how can we stop this?  I submit that we do not allow our children to bad mouth their other parent.  That we ourselves don’t bad mouth the other parent.  That we provide a unified front.  This all goes for married as well as divorced parents.  My parents were married when I was growing up, and they talked horribly about each other behind their backs.  This is simply not what a child needs.

We have to be actively involved in our children’s lives.  We have to have the backbone to stand up to them and be the parent.  Stop worrying that they won’t like us.  How many of us liked our parents when they were teaching us things we now value?

We cannot afford to raise a generation of entitled young people.  How can they go out into the real world and succeed if they think all they have to do is throw a tantrum?

So that is my two cents.  How do you deal with this?


The roles we play

A few days ago we went to set up a new checking account for me.  (I was still using my account from my former state.)  The lady behind the desk was dressed professionally, she asked me, “Are you employed?”  I said that I wasn’t.  She wrote down “Homemaker”.  As we went on with the process I was fixated on the word “Homemaker” written on the page.

I have been a working woman and single mom for so long that I forgot what it feels like to be labeled as a homemaker.  It is not a bad feeling to me.  It is one that I find to be very satisfying.

When my children were young I was a stay-at-home mom.  I loved making bread, baking cookies, all of the things that I was able to do.  One day my sister came by with one of her friends, an older lady who had never been married and had a wonderful career.  I was baking rolls.  She said, “Well aren’t you being domestic?”  she paused then added, “Oh, that’s right, that’s what you do.”  She was being very condescending in her attitude.  It hurt me for a while.  It was like she was saying that what I was doing had no worth.

Hugging one of my grandsons

Sometimes I think that we lose sight of the things that are valuable in our lives, our families, our homes, and especially our spouses.

I am not going to try to tell you that I am a perfect housekeeper.  In fact I could use a good housekeeper.  Ha!  No, I’m just an average person in that area.  In my dream world I would have a house with a living room that the front door opens up to.  It would be perfectly kept at all times.  If anyone made it past the living room it would be people who know and love me and wouldn’t judge the mess.  I once saw a sign that said, “If you have come to visit us then you are welcome at any time.  If you have come to inspect the house, please make an appointment.”  I like that one!

When my kids were young I was involved in doing craft fairs.  I had craft projects that I did in bulk.  I had booths in two of the best craft fairs in town.  I had so much fun doing that!  My kids liked seeing me sitting at the table painting some new project.  It always meant mom was in a good mood.

In the online dictionary the term homemaker links to housewife:

“Housewife  is offensive to some, perhaps because of an implied contrast with career woman  ( just a housewife ) and perhaps because it defines an occupation in terms of a woman’s relation to a man. Homemaker  is a common substitute.”

Many times I felt the critical term of “just a housewife” when I was raising young children.  I hated the term because I wasn’t married to a house, I was married to a man.  In this day and age it is almost seen as a privilege if a woman is allowed the ability to stay at home with her children.  Families have difficulty getting by on one income.

Now I have worn the labels of sister, daughter, student, teacher, mother, wife, friend, housewife, homemaker, divorced woman, probation officer, writer, stay-at-home mom, working mom, single mom, Grandma Annie and Grammy (depending on which set of grandchildren it is).  I’m sure there are others.  The ones that really matter are the ones that connect us to those we love.  Careers come and go.  Money comes and goes.  What really counts is the love we share with our families.