unplanned life

Those that know me, (even those that don’t know me that well) are aware of a few things about me:

I plan. I love planning, making lists and basically “knowing” what lies ahead… I like to know what’s for dinner, what the weekend holds, when house guests are leaving, and  around what time my husband should be home.

Jesus says: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I also say, “People plan, God laughs.”

“Each day has enough trouble of it’s own”, of course. There are many times “my plans” fall apart. There are days that bring seasons of trouble, of pain, sadness, grief and tears.  If I would have had known the  “plans” for what lay ahead of me two years ago, I probably would have burned my day planner and never gotten out of bed.

Over the past two years,  our family fell apart, when my stepdaughter I raised 9 years left to live with her biological mother. I felt defeated, abandoned and resentful.

Over the past year the unthinkable happened to my own daughter, and we worked through the trauma of abuse. I felt helpless, lost, and confused.

Over the past six months, my father began the final months of his life, and he crossed over on April 7th. I felt sadness, guilt, and emptiness.

And, finally over the past month a hope I had for many years was laid to rest.

I felt hopeless.

The past two years have not been all misery, however. The past two years held gems of memories, of healing, hope and victory.

Healing of families. Reunification of mothers and daughters that belong together.

Healing of trauma. There is life after abuse. Things do get better.

Healing of grief. Make every day count. Make the best of whatever time you’re given. Make memories. Don’t stress.

Finding hope. This is probably the most difficult…

Hope is like a small treasure, that can easily be lost in the grasp of the enemy.

I lose hope often. Most people don’t know that about me. I am usually that friend that will cheer you up and help you to see the brighter side of things…. I just have a hard time doing that to myself. I lose hope more than people lose socks.  So, when I find a treasure of hope glimmering in my thoughts, I say “don’t get your hopes up”. I crush it every time.

This time I’m not.

I know that He didn’t put me through these last two years of rainy seasons for nothing. I know that His plans are greater than mine. I know that His storms brought me back to His shore, and His path that lay ahead.

Can I say I’m ready? No. Nobody is  ever ready for any of the “curve balls” of life. I am never completely  “ready” for the unknown. But, being more aware of my trials, and recognizing  that each trial birthed a new fragment of  myself.

I realize that it’s not these past two years that has shaped me… it has been my ENTIRE  life.  Memories from years ago, resurfacing to be exposed and used for the  good. For empathy, for sympathy. For healing. Sometimes, when things resurface, you can finally see them, and answer the question why.

I’m staring to see all the “whys” of my life. I’m finally seeing the answers float to the surface like life savers in the sea.

As a child, I was the caregiver for my mother as she struggled with addiction, one day, a social worker followed me home from school . She was assigned to do a welfare check.

I remember the fear,  unlocking the door, her pulling up in the driveway just behind me, instructing me to get my mother.

My mother was sleeping.  This was the norm during this period. On days she picked me up from  school, it was well after the teachers and faculty had left. Some days I walked home because I knew it would be faster to walk than to wait.

“Mama,” I said. “You need to wake up. A lady is here. I’m scared she’s gonna take me.”

My other staggered up, put on a robe, and put the dogs in the back.

“I have the flu.” she said.

The social worker sat down, asking questions about my dad, abuse and why I had missed 46 days of school the year before. Then she took me aside, and asked me if my dad or anyone ever touched me.

“No.” I said. “I’m happy here”

And, she picked up her clipboard and left.

As bad as things were at my home, it wasn’t bad enough to remove me. Today, it would have been different, I’m sure. I would have been removed long before that day.

The thing is, it’s happening still. There are kids out there with less than perfect lives, and they are not safe and it’s not healthy for them to stay. But, no matter how bad it is, they still don’t want to go.

They don’t know it can be better.

They don’t know that their moms and dads can get better.

They don’t know hope.

And, the people come, and the storm arises. Children are removed and placed in systems across the country. Sometimes, they are placed in a family home- the closest thing to a “normal” family is best. Other times, there are no families that are licensed, there are no rooms. Then, it’s an institutionalized group “home”.

I was placed in a group treatment center as a teenager. A chronic runaway, “something had to be done with me”, the authorities told my parents. I was 13. My mom had just completed treatment and was now attempting to restrict me, while my life I had grown accustomed to caring for her. The roles were reversed and I could not cope. I was angry, resentful and bitter. Toss in some hormones and boys and I was a toxic stew of teenage angst. I was placed in a long term  teen treatment center.

My first hour  there, a female nurse had to do a full cavity search. Apparently, kids here liked to smuggle drugs in various parts  of their bodies. I didn’t do drugs. I was just mad.

I hadn’t eaten, I was thirsty… outside my room I had seen a fridge that kids were getting milk cartons and juice cups from. I finally got so thirsty I quietly made my way to the fridge to get a juice.

“What are you doing?” A nurse sternly questioned me.

“I… I’m thirsty.” I stammered.

“It’s not snack time.” It’s lock down and you are not to leave your room. You have a pitcher of water in there.

But, I didn’t. And I was too scared to ask for one.  The next day, I learned the strict routine of meals, snacks, school and group after group…

I had never had routine. I had never had “regular” meals. There, I awoke to a feast of bagels, jams, cream cheese, cereal and plenty of juice.  And there were the daytime nurses. They were nice, caring- different from the nighttime ones. The new day, brought forth order, security… and food.  I loved looking at the color coordinated white board, and seeing the perks of working up levels. You could work up a level and eat at the cafeteria. Where, the kids said: “the food was rad.” You could work up to a level and go outside. There was a playground and a pool. You could even work up a level and get a three hour pass with a parent and go off the compound.  “I could run away and see Darby” I thought. (Darby was my boyfriend, and clearly I needed some therapy if this was my mindset) Over several months, I worked through the program and levels, the structure and order… and, finally I got to go home ready to adjust to my now “normal” life.

This period in my life, although moments of it still haunt me in dreams… the hard cold plastic beds, the crazy roommates, and the nighttime nurses.

But, it taught me. It taught me structure, order, and most of all coping skills I didn’t know I needed. Sometimes, the parts of life you detest at the time, actually grow you the most.  Although it may take decades…. the waiting for the pieces to fit.

They will all fit together one day.

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breakfast with dad

For the past four years, I had a weekly breakfast with my dad. This may not seem like a big thing to most people. I’m sure lots of people share meals with a parent or two, but… for me it was different.

You see, my dad moved out when I was 8, and although he still took me to school daily for several years after that, I had built a wall around my heart I never recognized until later in life.  I seldom spoke to him on those car rides, and I would duck down so my peers would not see me in the 1965 Volkswagen Bug he would escort me in.  My dad was 43 when I was born, and the cruelty of kids in elementary school only added to the youthful angst of my less than perfect family. “Is that your grandpa? His car is run by a lawnmower!”, they would taunt me daily. He was 63, about to retire and driving my ungrateful shell of a human every day to school. He was living in a small one bedroom apartment, and working to provide for not only himself, but both my mother, my sister and myself. He never divorced my mom, and eventually accepted the fact that they would eternally “go steady”.

Time goes on.

I grew up, and he grew old.

As I matured, I realized that more often than not, it was my dad that always saved the day.

He taught me to drive stick shift.

He jumped my car on more than one occasion.

He came to rescue me after my first car accident.

He took me to the mall when I got a 3 hour  pass from “the center”. ( I was placed in a rehabilitation home for kids when I was 13. I was a chronic runaway and the authorities said it was that or Juvenile detention)

He helped me get my first car loan.

He and I built a turtle cage together.

He would take me thrift shopping when I wanted furniture to paint for my room.

He watched my dogs when I went on vacation.

After my mom was diagnosed with cancer, she began a less than active lifestyle, and their days of going to lunch and the  movies ceased. He would golf in the morning and wait. Wait for her to awaken, wait to see what the afternoon would bring.

So, one day, I asked if he’d like to do breakfast after I dropped my daughter off at school. I assumed he’d say no, he would golf every morning and he was 80, after all and he was pretty much set in his ways. But, he said yes.

After a few months, I began to badger him to let me tidy up his apartment. It had not been cleaned in years… he said no, then, finally he said yes.

So, our breakfasts became that. A hearty meal and a way for me to thank him for all those years I was so ungrateful. He would call me every evening, and tell me how nice things looked, and how good it smelled. One Christmas, my daughter and I “broke in” and laid new door mats and bath towels out. I set up his Christmas trees, and changed batteries in smoke alarms, and set clocks after time changes….

Six months ago, he said to me; “You know, Michelle, the apartment was only supposed to be for 6 months. I would have never gotten it if I knew it was going to be longer.”

He got older.

He stopped golfing…

He seemed tired.

One week we had a breakfast planned, but I had to change it to a few days later. He called me for help walking his dog  the next  morning. He said he took and Advil and felt like it was stuck in his throat. I came over and walked his dog, warmed his coffee, and noticed his feet looked swollen. He said they were fine. I asked if he wanted me to call the medics, he said “No. Absolutely not.”

Hindsight: Sometimes, it’s okay to disobey your parents.

Later that afternoon, I told my mom I was worried about him. she said she spoke with him and he was fine.

The next day, she called me. She hadn’t heard form him in 24 hours, and wanted me to go check on him. I have to admit. I was scared. I had my daughter with me, what if… something happened? But, after a persuasion from my husband, we left. My heart boomed in my chest, making my coffee and cereal swirl up from my stomach to my throat.

We arrived, finding him naked, face down into the carpet, mumbling about teenagers and falling.

I called the medics.

They came, and I did my best to answer questions.

“How old is he?”


“He lives alone?”


” Alone?!”

Then, silence. I looked  at him, only  to receive  a glare and a head shake that said “How can you let him live alone? What kind of daughter are you?”

They took him away. That was the last time he saw his home, his bird and his dog.

At the hospital he was confused, but the doctors  and had no definitive diagnosis, CAT and PET scans clear, no stroke, no heart attack. They summed up to  congestive heart failure and kidneys were off. He had an esophageal diverticulum that prevented them from offering him any food by mouth, due to the possibility of silent aspiration. He was unable to swallow properly, or feed himself, so a feeding tube was placed in his abdomen.

He was in the hospital nine days. He could no longer walk or eat.

He was placed into rehab, to regain his mobility and strength. I wrote about our daily visits here: (rehab visits)

When they allowed food once more, I was able to see him eat grilled cheese, spaghetti,  eclairs, and soup. I brought him grits, mashed potatoes, egg salad and breakfast from our restaurant. But, he still  wasn’t eating enough to sustain him, so the tube remained. He was gaining his strength, but not to the point where he felt he should be. He was discouraged and disappointed that  he wasn’t getting better. He’d complain that people would say “You’re doing better!” But, he could not see the progress he wanted to.

He began to get depressed.

His slight dementia began to increase, and he would pick fights with my mom, accusing her of pole dancing and doing drugs. He was terrified of being alone at night and would beg me to spend the night at the nursing home.

He developed pneumonia from the silent aspiration and was back in the hospital 8 days. He got better, but once again no more food was allowed. Nothing by mouth, they’d say.

As they began to offer him food once more, he was not as happy as he was previously. He didn’t want the ice cream, grits, potatoes or soups both me and my mom would bring.  He was constantly scared he’s “over do it”. To him, two bites was too many.

He had developed a UTI, and we were waiting for the antibiotics to start. He had one previously and it made him confused, and agitated. We were hoping that may be the reason for his recent mood swing….

My daughter urged us to go visit him one Monday. I was trying to see him every other day instead of every day like I had been, but my daughter said, “No. Let’s go see him today.”

We went outside, and I said to him, “What can I do to help encourage you? You seem so sad.”

He asked for a Coke.

He got a Coke and drank it, he said it was real good and he was looking forward to the masters coming on in a couple weeks.

Two hours later, I got a phone call that his lab work came back off and they were putting him in the hospital for “observation”. We went to see him, and I asked how he was feeling, he said “I feel fine, I’m just tired. Where’s that Coke you gave me? Can you go get it?”

The nurse said he had fluid in his bladder and had to give him a catheter. We left and said we’d see him the following day.

That afternoon, my mom called from the hospital. He was screaming in pain from the catheter, and hesitantly, hospital staff removed it. That night, he had somehow fallen from his bed, and was rushed to ICU with low blood pressure. We went to see him in the morning, and his hands were wrapped in what looked like white boxing gloves, he was moaning and incoherent. He had unknown fluid accumulating in his abdomen, and they needed to do surgery to see what was going on.

He made it through the surgery but his system was failing. The meds to keep his blood pressure up were putting a strain on his heart, and the excess fluid building up was not leaving his body fast enough. He stopped producing urine and he was not a candidate for dialysis I was told.

I was called in the middle of the night, a doctor asked me if his heart were to stop, would I want chest compression. Chest compression that would break his ribs…

I consulted my mom. She said yes.

My heart sank, thinking of not only my dad, but the medic, crushing an old man’s chest…

Fortunately, it never came to that.

The hospital called me in, one early Sunday morning. Three doctors approached me. One lined it up:

“Normally I am very graceful in these situations. Today, however, I’m going to be honest and blunt. He’s not getting better. He’s terminal. Why are you putting him through this?”

Again, my mind flashed to the medic.  Shame on you, you bad daughter.

I stammered, tears welling up in my eyes, I lost it. I knew he had a living will, I knew the feeding tube went against it, I knew my mom was holding onto every ounce of hope and my sister as well. I also knew that I could no longer keep hope alive.

I knew.

Hospice was called, and papers needed to be signed by my mother.

She wasn’t ready.

So he stayed in a comatose state, kidneys failing…

Finally, she agreed.

A day later, the overnight hospice nurse called me, she said based on his stats he probally would pass quickly. She called and said the breathing tuble was removed. He was breathing on his own, sleeping… snoring.

She called 45 minuted later.

Blood pressure is low, breathing is stable.

An hour later.

She’s off her shift, to call again in a couple hours.

I managed and hour and a half sleep, the next day he was transitioned into a hospice room, still snoring…. I had my daughter with me, I was hesitant to go see him. I was torn, my mom didn’t want to and my sisters were both out of town.

Nurse called.

BP dropping.

I asked my daughter how she felt about it. She said she wanted to say goodbye. So we rushed to the hospital, ran up six flights of stairs and found him. Peaceful, snoring, on his side. Like a baby in an old man’s body.

I got my mom on speakerphone.

She assured him everything was okay, his eyes opened and his snoring stopped. She hung up. I told him, “People are  waiting, Jesus is waiting. It’s  time to go home, and everything will be okay.” He closed his eyes and began to snore again.  My daughter began to get distraught….

The Masters was about to start in an hour and forty minutes, I made sure it was on his TV.

I said, “I love you” gave him a hug and we walked away.

A hour and forty two minutes later, I call a phone call.

My dad had passed.

Each day we are given choices,  simple choices. You can chose to live for yourself or you can chose to give of  yourself.

My dad’s life  taught me to give of yourself, because in the end; it’s not what you did for yourself that matters.

It’s what you did for others.

Never take a day for granted.

Make each one count. Even the bad ones.

They are the only days we get.

1959881_10151909064376923_1253441445_nRIP JAMES BEST JACKSON 1931-2016






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until now…Disney People


Until now I never understood “Disney People”, (as my husband and I called it)  You see, we had a very bad experience at Disney once. You can read about that here.  I’m pretty sure we were some of the only people in the world to  have free passes and not use them for years. Add in that we live 2.5 hours away and that, some may say is  insane.

Until now.

Until we finally made a trip there, a trip that was just for fun, no meetings or work involved for either of us. No in-laws, no extended family, no time issues…. no stress.

Just us, our time,  and our plans.

And, you know what? It was fun.

Fun, despite the learning curve of limited fast passes and smartphone apps.

Fun, despite getting cut in line by rude American tourists.

Maybe it was that “Disney Magic” people often speak about… but, it’s official, we are Disney People now. Disney People, (you know who you are); chances are:

  • you have a magnet on your car
  • you have “a character” that represents yourself
  •  you most likely  own attire that’s specifically worn on trips to the parks
  • there are specific foods you know you can only obtain in certain places

As for the customized matching T shirts? No, we aren’t there yet… although we joked my hubby’s would have to involve a bearded Mickey of some sort.  🙂

So, how do we become “Disney People” on a budget that’s tighter than a banjo string?

We’re figuring that out as we go… so far:

I’ve found it’s much easier to bring the furbabies along. There are tons of pet friendly places to stay within five minutes of Walt Disney World. Utilizing third parties sites helps ensure the best rates. Note: We have also used Best Friends Pet Care boarding and daycare on Disney property. (Highly recommended and very reasonable) Unless you’re pass holders, plan to fork out $20 for parking if you aren’t staying on property.

However, if you are able to, staying on property is amazing: I have had the opportunity to stay four times (The Dolphin, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Yacht Club) that’s another story, though. (Parking is free, in addition fast transportation to and from parks)

The parks allow you to bring in food and drinks, but plan on going through heavy security screening. Cops, dogs, scanners, you name it. (Let’s not complain, they are keeping us safe)

For our park lunch, we opt for Publix  veggie subs. (Best. Sub. Ever.)

Bringing in food is  okay, selfie sticks are not. They will take them from you.

You’ve been warned.

Bring hand sanitizer. There’s germs everywhere. I’m a germaphob. I santize after every ride. Not that it’s dirty there, it’s actually super clean. I’m a germaphob. That’s me.

Once you get your park ticket, choose your fast passes with the Disney World smart phone app. Do this as far ahead of time as possible.

Get your fast passes early, use them and head to a kiosk to pick more. Don’t be surprised if there are no more ride  fast passes available by the time you finish your original three. That happened to us. So, instead we got to meet characters. 🙂 win=win

DO NOT delete/clear your fast passes from your phone if you miss the time or change your mind. Go to a kiosk. We messed up our first three and lost them.

If you don’t have a smart phone… get to a kiosk to sync your tickets with fast passes.

What’s the big deal about fast passes? It’s a difference of a five minute line wait to a 45-70 minute line wait. Time is priceless when you want to get a Dole Whip before it will ruin your appetite.

So, that wraps up my tidbits on becoming a Disney Family. I know I have only scratched the surface. We’re still figuring out dinner and breakfast… although our last hotel had a fabulous breakfast spread- sometimes those are a gamble. Eating at the parks is always an option but we have to be careful of dietary restrictions. Food is big for me. I refuse to settle for chicken fingers and fries. I’m not five.

That’s why I am so glad there’s Epcot. Mmmmm, Epcot.

But, that’s another story, too.











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when the knife lands in your back


knife-in-the-back There are vests to protect vital organs from bullets.

Unfortunately, there is nothing to protect you from words. Words, despite their invisible state, can cut through, and permeate where nothing else can.

Words can be not only damaging, but also virus-like, spreading throughout your thoughts, and impacting your mood and, eventually- your health.

Words,  echoing over and over, fueling themselves, manifesting, invading. Attacking. Spreading.

There is no vaccine to protect you from the virus like words some people choose to spread.

There is no disinfectant for words, no antidote, no antibiotic. Once they are spoken, once they are heard, they are there. You’re infected.

What words are infecting you today?

Lies? Gossip? Rumors?

They may not be infecting you, but are they affecting you?

It’s hard when the knife land in your back. It’s not like a splinter on your finger that’s accessible and removable. It’s unreachable.

When your back has a scratch that’s unreachable, you find someone that will scratch it.

When your back has a knife in it, who will pull it out?

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4 concepts to live with

2013-07-17 09.22.19

2013-07-17 09.22.19Balance




Some people choose a word to live by for the New Year, a word to help channel them pass the chaos, and fuel them for each day.  I still haven’t chosen a word, instead I have chosen concepts. Concepts to remember, apply and take with me into each day.

There are periods in life where these concepts seem so far out of reach, you may as well be grasping at the air. We live in a society that can barely keep up with itself. Updating software, updating browsers, updating statuses pelt into our moments like raindrops on a tin roof. The noise of technology, and the hum of social media can be thieves in the stillness.


It’s easy to lose balance, especially if it’s time you’re trying to balance. It seems today everybody is over scheduled, and just plain too busy to squeeze  much more into their days. And, what is the “more” we are trying to squeeze? A home cooked meal? Time to mend a fence? Time to make a phone call? Time to tackle the laundry? Time to share with loved ones? Identify  your time thieves* and arrest them. ( *see time thieves)


Where is the peace? I’m not talking about the technicolor tie dyed fantasy of world peace. I’m talking about the peace that comes from within. The peace that comes when you really cast your worries onto Him, for He cares for you. (1Peter5:7) I have to admit, I do my best to cast my worries, but sometimes I still worry. Especially when I’m working out the household budget. Some concepts are easier said than done. But, when you remember the big picture of eternity, today’s tiny budget holds no impact on who I am, or His plan.


Look around.

Chances are, you’re at a computer or smart phone. You know where your next meal is coming from, you have access to clean water, and indoor plumbing. Maybe you wish you had something  more, maybe you don’t know how long before you’ll get paid again, or what those test results will be, but for now: It’s okay, you’re okay, and He will handle what’s next.

You will get through this.

There is a solution to every problem.

Every moment that holds a problem will pass, and the solution will be revealed in the future.

Be grateful that the  future exists.


I’m happy where I am, because I know where I’m at.~ MK

Even in the darkest of days, I have held on to that motto. Because I know where I have been, I know the darkest of nights in the midst of summer. And, even those nights ended. The sun will rise again. Everyday I find joy in today.

I find joy in today because the pain of yesterday.

Contentment goes far beyond a need or desire- contentment is a state of finding the balance, peace, and  gratefulness in the life you were given. Despite the messiness and mess ups that happen, you matter. You have a purpose, a plan, and a reason to be here. One day, the stories of your trials and triumphs will bring hope to someone. Embrace the hardships as birthing pains to a new vision in your life.

Don’t get distracted by the moment today  to lose your path to tomorrow.




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living intentionally

IMG_7606I had a random lunch date with a friend I hadn’t seen in over a year. It started as coffee, then we got to talking about food, Indian food to be exact- and that turned into an impromptu lunch and some really good stories shared. It could have easily gotten blown off, there were things to do.. dishes, laundry, my dog needs a bath so bad that I’m pretty sure the neighbors can smell her, and of course there is dinner to be planned. But, on this particular day, I said no to whatever was left undone and left it there.

There is always things to do.

There is not always friends to have lunch with.


I’ve come to realize that all the “things” will never be done, and to put off life until things are done is like waiting for the wind to hold still.

And, the funny thing about this particular day was that, in fact… I got a lot done.

I had wanted to spend time with her, and in the hour or so in between coffee and lunch I managed to get the hygienic chores complete: clean dishes, and clean laundry.

Stinky dogs can come another day, so can organizing the paperwork, and de cluttering the kids’ closets can be delegated into other days that lie ahead.

Don’t let your life be too busy to make memories.

Take time to identify the “moment thieves” in your daily routine; is it social media? Is it having to run to the grocery store daily because you have no idea what to make for dinner? Is it the endless pile of laundry/paperwork/dishes/clutter?

Now: Take a moment and think about a random week in life, what do you remember most about it? Chances are,  the moments that stand out are not the trips to the store, the laundry or the chores.

It’s the moments you shares with family and friends, or  time spent alone with God.

Those moments are what make life matter.

Remember those moment thieves?

Arrest them.

Take back your time, your memories and your life. Make this year count.

If social media is your time thief, set aside ____ number of minutes to scroll, and put it down.

If it’s those random store trips, set up a monthly calendar menu plan (ie; meatloaf Monday, Taco Tuesday) Next,  make a detailed shopping list and stick to it. Chances are, you’ll save more than time, you will save money, too. If you can’t think of menus, there are tons of blogs/sites online that have example plans.

And, finally… the laundry, the paperwork, the clutter. The main reason these areas get overwhelming is lack of maintenance. Unfortunately, these chores will always be there. But, with maintenance, they can be managed into moments of your day instead of hours.

This is where you make have to spend a full day getting caught up. Not fun, but necessary. Once you are caught up, maintain. Break up the laundry into specific days: whites on Wednesday, colors on Monday and Friday. If you have competent family members, delegate days for each member.

And, finally… the chores: Vacuuming, dusting, mopping…the dreaded bathroom.

I have three dogs, three chickens, a cockatoo, and amazon parrot, parakeets, fish, turtles and tortoises, and a bearded dragon, a kid and a husband. Of course, the reptiles and chickens are outside, so…

I vacuum daily.

I like vacuuming.

I steam mop twice a week, and wet mop bleach once a week. (Every other day I mop) I live in a smaller home, so keeping it sanitary is easy. It  takes under  an hour to both vacuum and mop. I suggest you time how long it takes you to do each chore, once you realize that aforementioned chore takes just _____ minutes to do, you will be able to incorporate it into your day much easier.

We tend to procrastinate on chores that appear time consuming, but in actuality, they aren’t that time consuming.

So, arrest those time thieves, take back your moments to make memories and live intentionally.









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summer days


Summertime calls for treats like Buttercrunch doughnuts and trips to the beach.

It also calls for me to forget the things I should be doing…

unintentional time outs.

I should be blogging more, writing more, submitting queries and illustrations, editing photos, working on my publication calendar and of course doing the weekly chores.

But, lately… I have come to realize that this is the only summer I get when my daughter is 6.

This is the only chance I have to fill her head up with happy childhood memories….classic simmer memories..


So, forgive me please for my absence.


I’m working on putting a happy person into the world for the future.

Today is the day to drop the devices and live.


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summer week one ’14

Every year I attempt to document Summer here, a few years ago it was a daily post, and last Summer it was a round up with an epic fail in between. This year, I am hoping to do a weekly summer activity post,  depending on how much I want to stare at a computer screen.

Sometimes I do. Between Pinterest and browsing all the books at the library, I can be quite content for an hour.

Then the sun comes up and it’s time to start the day.

It’s summer.

I’m exhausted by the end of the day… but- it’s kind of that” happy theme park exhausted”, because this year I decided to make summer different. I want my kid to have happy summer memories, not memories of mommy working behind the computer all day, not mommy texting or checking email on the phone.

So, I leave my computer and phone alone majority of the day. Except for photos, of course…

Gotta have those.

So far: summer in photos:

IMG_1527THE LAST DAY. (Until Fall, at least….)

_DSC1331Homemade mango Ice cream with strawberry chunks…


_DSC1324a nature walk with the dogs… and the dogs got tired.

_DSC1321A little trip to the water park… and some tasty little snacks (that I only allow myself to eat in the summer)

IMG_1616A lunch out for sushi…

IMG_1606and some Thai food, too.

IMG_7100A fishing tournament, and a new friend to hunt crabs with…

IMG_7102blessed with fabulous weather and scenery, and a rockin’ cooler for a prize for winning the tournament division:

IMG_7106IMG_7073Trips to candy stores …

IMG_7080and tasting some pretty weird things… (they were only $1, and more minty than dilly)

IMG_7108Surprising Dad with a few Father’s Day gifts

IMG_1437Outings on the boat…

IMG_7145Kisses from Cockatoos

IMG_7133coloring pages at the library…

IMG_7127and Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas….

This has been Summer.

So far. 🙂




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summer ideas 2014

I have officially re-named my “summer bucket list” . Because , let’s face it: bucket lists are things you want to do before you die, and there is just too much pressure in that.

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As summer approaches in the next few days, with the official start being the actual last day of school, I compiled a list of things to do and look forward too…. many are food related,  and most are just about making memories.This year, my daughter is old enough to hold attention for longer than 7 minutes, so I am incorporating a few geography and history lessons, (to be honest- I’m actually trying to remember all the stuff I leaned in grade school so I don’t feel like a total idiot next school year when she comes home telling me things I should know)

First of all the things we do every summer:

She sleeps in = I get to drink my coffee hot, have devotional time and work on writing projects

We have breakfast together= I’m usually hungry once she’s up

Pool trips and beach trips = I need to lose my goth-like paleness

Backyard camping =  I need to use the camp gear yearly, otherwise my husband will toss it because “it’s never used”

Freeze Yogurt and call Popsicles breakfast

Make crafts= otherwise the craft stash will be trash

Walk the fat dog = he’s a Boston Terrier that is starting to resemble an Orca

Go fishing= need to stock the freezer for emergency sushi cravings (we both love sushi)

Plant our yearly sunflower garden

Water balloon and squirt bottle fights = we don’t have a pool, so this is the low budget way to keep cool

scavenger hunts = AKA help me clean out the garage

picnics= can’t stay inside all day, can we?

fire and police station visits= love on the people that protect, serve and save

treasure hunts= as in our dog dug a big hole in the backyard, I may as well hid something cool in it

tie dye day= recycling the shirts that have spaghetti-O stains

pedal boat rides= gotta squeeze in a mommy workout

pier trip= because that’s just fun

bike rides= AKA mommy workout

finger painting= probably I’ll  have some more stained shirts to tie dye after this

pottery= I love pottery… never to early to start her, right?



The “new” stuff I may or may not accomplish…

Theme days:

Be a reporter and make a “newspaper”

Homemade beauty salon at home (I love having a girl)

A day spent making an assortment of homemade cards to keep on hand all year

Christmas craft day= you can never start too early

Pioneer Day= learn about Florida Pioneers, and visit some local landmarks

Australia Day = (hopefully that will end with dinner at Outback)

Butterfly Day= learn about butterflies and plant a  butterfly garden

Art Day= visit the museum and come home to paint our own gallery

China Day= because we LOVE  Kai Lan

I’m going to attempt to hold her attention long enough to read outloud  get through a chapter book together… (that hasn’t happened yet.) My mom used to read Lois Lenski books to me when I was growing up, she used to give special voices to all the characters. She was really good at it; now I realize it’s because she was a PROFESSIONAL ACTRESS….(she “retired”  when she had kids)  they way she read made the characters seem  real.  I’m hoping I can channel a bit of that talent this year….

Of course there are free/cheap movies to see, free bowling, mini golf, playgrounds and other public adventures for summer- but,  unfortunately a lot of those places get bombarded with a stampede of summer camp kids and we usually end up annoyed and trampled after visiting those venues. That’s why I make these lists. It’s kind of a necessity, and a guide when it’s so hot that my brain won’t work- it’s nice to have a list to go down for the dreaded ” Mommy, I’m booooooorrrrrreeeeeed!”

Now: the mommy (aka food) portion of the list:

rock candy= maybe I can make this a science lesson?

solar cooking= may come in handy if there is a hurricane and the power is out a month

homemade cheese= because I love cheese

sea food themed day= sushi, and salt water taffy

homemade cones for ice cream = it’s summer, afterall

Key lime pie= since I have a tree…

BBQ/Picnic food day= mmm, deviled eggs, potato salad, baked beans, ribs, cole slaw, and cookie cake


Now: I most likely won’t get a 5th of this done (remember the epic fail last year?) But, it’s nice to have some go-to ideas when it’s Africa hot outside and the thought of planning something is exhausting. 🙂 Happy Summertime, folks!!!






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morbid tidiness and other annoyances

First off, I’m not sure if I spelled annoyances and tidiness right, and apparently I did because spell -check didn’t alert me.

Cool. I can go on without having to edit my title. Why does spell -check allow misspellings in titles? Maybe it’s just here. I don’t know.

I have  a head cold today, which for most people would spell disaster. But, we’re supposed to give thanks in all circumstances, so I am giving thanks that I have an excuse to be lazy and catch up on all of my summer magazine reading. Yes, summer. I am behind.. and it was borderline recycle bin for those guys, until this lovely cold came along.

I still have to get the chores done, though.

You know...chores: the lunches made, dinner figured out (thank goodness for crock pots) and the dog puke wiped up. That’s why “they” invented cold medicine, you know. Some man created it so that his wife can still get all of her noble goodness in before collapsing on the couch with a pile of magazines and a box of tissues. BUT: there is a reason cold medicines don’t last 24 hours. Because the wife of the cold medicine inventor spoke some sense into her man.

So: with my cold medicine waiting my chores of the day are: laundry, dishes (from breakfast) dog puke clean up, parrot poop clean up, a quick run to the market for : tissues, tomatoes, parrot food, and maybe some basil if the bunch in my fridge has gone bad. After that, I will probably have a whole 10 minutes on the couch with my magazines before I have to partake in the dismissal process.

Hmmmm…. maybe I will take some more cold medicine before bed so that I can stay up and read my magazines.

Clearly, I need to fit in time to be lazy on occasion.

Maybe right now is lazy and I don’t even know it?


I can’t relax when there is stuff to do. I can’t leave the house when it’s a mess, either.. (In case I get killed when I’m gone.) I don’t want anyone to come home to a mess. Yep. I’m morbidly tidy sometimes.

Morbidly tidy.

I only clean in case I die. Hmmm. Not sure what to think of myself right now. Good thing is, I don’t have to. other people think plenty. Have at it. Good thing is, I don’t care. One of the great things about getting older is that you stop worrying about what others will think, because you realize it really holds no bearing on your life.  Insert a happy face.

Remember 6th grade? The “ohmygosh-what-is-everyone-going-to-do/say/think-when-they-see/hear/_______”  They should really have classes in school that teach kids how to cope with society the core concept with be “kids can be mean, people can be mean, don’t be mean.” of course, the text book will have a lot more ground to cover on that subject. It will cover just about any scenario you can think of and how to cope with it… think Leviticus.  Except I would probably omit an eye for an eye part. And the sacrificing. But, hey maybe just think of other ( less bloody) sacrifices. Like sacrificing your  dessert or something.

I think what we as a society forgot is that sacrifice is a good thing.

Giving up in order to make a situation good, or at least better.

In today’s world we always look at sacrifice as a defeat. It’s simply not. I sacrifice my magazine reading and lazy time to make a nice home & meals  for my family. I sacrifice taking up a selfish hobby in order that I may do something with  my loved ones.  I don’t go to a gym, because I don’t like to be away from my family. At what point did society declare that you need a break from your own family? ( I’m talking your immediate family-: in laws do not apply)  If that’s what we are teaching our children by ” taking breaks” from family… it’s no wonder they are growing up with no deep rooted love for home life. You might as well marry someone you’re not that fond of, if that’s the case.

It’s not just personal and home life that requires sacrifice. It’s everywhere. sacrifice the fact you got cut off in traffic, allow others to live. Sacrifice your spot in line at the grocery store for the little old lady buying 22 cans of cat food in the 10 items or less line.

Sacrifice the parking spot up front and purposely take one in the back.

A little exercise is good for you. Even if you do go to the gym/run/work out.

Sacrifice a few moments to say a kind word, or two.

Sacrifice  your opinions if they are negative, in the same token.

I’m not saying I am perfect and always park in the back, and never get annoyed at the people in the express lane. It’s a daily task I have to work at. Sacrifice is never easy. But, if you make a habit of sacrifice, it becomes easier. Never easy, just sometimes easier. There is a point when it is a joy to sacrifice.

Sometimes it’s instant. The old lady is grateful and you realize you were the highlight of her day.

Sometimes, it takes time….

So: my challenge to you: sacrifice something for someone this week, and then: tell me about it. You can do it here of on my Facebook page. Weather it’s something as small as giving a bigger tip at the coffee shop… or as large as giving up your Saturday to volunteer… no sacrifice goes unnoticed. And each one of us is significant in the big picture of humanity.




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