Thankful Thursday

Trying out a new blog hop today called Thankful Thursday. I probably need this hop to actively remind myself to look for the positive things in life since so much of my last few months have been spent in the company of anxiousness, stressfulness, irritation and frustration. They are really not good company and even worse influences on others.

But, semester is (mercifully) finished, grades are recorded and school is officially out! All my college seniors are scattered to the wind to take on the world…God help them AND the world!

So now, I’m thankful for time spent with our two grand girls before they leave to visit their dad 12 hours away for the majority of the summer. At nine and four, they are handfuls, and they can test the patience of Job….but for Entrepreneur and I to be an integral part of their lives is a blessing we simply cannot overlook.

So, today I’m linking up with others for Thankful Thursday.  A big thank you to Sandee at Comedy Plus for introducing me to this worthwhile weekly opportunity.

I hope life settles a bit so I can participate in more of these hops in the future!

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Monday Grand Girl Spark

Grandkids bring you into a sweeter, slower present. They show you the future at a time when a lot of your friends are thinking about the past. And they take you back to childhood–theirs, the Parent’s, your own: a three-time admittance to wonderland. ~Adair Lara

Peanut and Twix….our grand girls! Peanut is 9 years old and Twix just turned 4 years old. And not a day goes by where I don’t look at them and feel deeply thankful they are in my life.

Over these 9 years, neither of these girls have experienced a day care facility outside of a Pre-K program. Peanut and her Mama moved in with us when she was 4 months old while then-husband was deployed overseas. Upon his return, they moved to an out-of-state Army base, but were back under our roof when he decided to try college, and Peanut’s Mama took on the role of breadwinner. Peanut went happily to preschool and spent time after school at Entrepreneur and my office about a quarter mile from the school. Twix arrived in 2014, but a divorce disrupted plans and Peanut, Twix and their Mama continued to live with us for another 2 years while regrouping their life direction. Once Mama was stable in a better job, they moved into their own home. Entrepreneur and I moved our office into our home and Twix assimilated into our routine from the day she was born. An arrangement that continues to this day. Preschool is on the horizon for her in a few months, but until then, she is with us five days a week from 7:50am until 5pm.

I’d be lying if I said this didn’t come without challenges. But, I’m not sure I’d want it any other way. To, essentially, have the opportunity to co-parent with our daughter in raising our grand girls has been an experience many grandparents will never have. Granted, some may never want this experience! But, we’re gluttons for punishment looking at it as a rare opportunity to create a tie that binds us to them for the rest of their lives.

Some day in the near future, Twix will spend her days in preschool and then off to kindergarten. Entrepreneur and I will be more free to come and go without worrying about car seats and nap schedules. Our interactions will be limited to occasional family meals, special events, holidays and the periodic sleep-over at Nana and Papa’s house. And, of course, whenever school is not in session! But we will always believe we gave them both the best possible start in life by being spoiled loved and nurtured by family on a daily basis during those developing years before heading off to school.

Annie at McGuffy’s Reader hosts a blog hop every Monday called Sparks. I’m finding that reading everyone’s “Sparks” is one of the highlights of my week. Her philosophy its simple:

The negative energy of the world has become thick and oppressive. Social media has become a part of this dare, negative storm. There is an obvious, universal need for more positive energy and peace. And, we can be a part of this affirmative change.

Also blog hopping with Sandee’s Awww Mondays over at Comedy Plus.

It’s my birth day!

Yep, today is the day my mom brought me into this world. And this year’s birthday is a big one. How big? Well, I’ll leave that to you to try and figure out, but I’ll leave you a few clues a little later.

First, I’ll share a four generation photo from waaaay back when with Great-Grandma Olive, Grandma Maida, Mom Thelma and…Me! Sadly, my GG passed in November of the year I was born so I never really knew her at all.

The year I was born was a busy year. Here’s just a few noteworthy events….besides my entrance. 🙂
* Super Glue was invented
* NASA….National Aeronautics and Space Administration was formed
* Explorer 1 was sent into space to measure radiation in earth’s orbit. It orbited earth more than 58,000 times before it re-entered the atmosphere in 1970
* The Hope Diamond was donated to the Smithsonian Institute
* Bobby Fischer won the United States Chess Championship at only 14 years old
* Elvis Presley was inducted into the Army
* The Hula Hoop was invented

My first birthday

A few other tidbits of info:
* The average cost of new house was $12,750.00
The top song for January of that year was At The Hop by Danny & The Juniors
* A new, 8 cu ft RCA Whirlpool refrigerator cost $118.00
* A gallon of gas  cost 25 cents

It’s strange what I remember about my early years. I still remember the address of the house I lived in until 2nd grade….6202 E. 96th Street. One of my first memories is one of me and my cousins watching The Wizard of Oz on the TV; that would be the black and white version on a black and white set.

Have you figured it out yet? If so, you know it’s sorta a big one. One that I’m having a little bit of a hard time wrapping my head around!

Looking back at my life fills me with a lot of emotions. Are there things I regret doing or not doing? You bet. Were there aspirations that never materialized? Yes. Would I do things differently, given another chance. I’m not sure…maybe. What I am certain of is that my life has turned out pretty good so far even though it was not the road I saw myself traveling. Besides, I’ll drive myself crazy playing should of, world of, could of at this point in time.

So, I’ll now focus on trying to make the best of the next 365 days…knowing I’m not promised one more day, much less an entire year’s worth of days.

However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all.
~Ecclesiastes 11:8

It only takes a spark……

I found a new photo blogging community called Sparks, and this is my first link up with these folks. It’s hosted by Annie at McGuffy Reader. I have to say I love her concept:

I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!

How cool is that concept? Be the light instead of contributing to the darkness. There are so many people who only want to contribute to the darkness of this world; so many who have nothing positive to say; so many that find fault with everything and everyone.

You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way. ~Walter Hagen

I have to admit, the darkness seems to be winning in my world lately. Hard as I try and maintain a positive outlook in the face of Entrepreneur’s renal cell cancer and oral chemo regiment, it’s a frustrating road. And, while friends and family sympathize and are oh so very emotionally and spiritually supportive, few can really empathize with the mental exhaustion that accompanies this type of situation.

But darkness cannot overcome a shining light. it pierces the blackness of despair and hopelessness and provides a focus for those wandering in the dark. If we would all choose to be a shining light, perhaps we could guide each other through this messy thing called life.

…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16

I hope to be a regular contributor to Sparks. Not so I can enjoy reading comments (even though I really do!), but for my own sanity.

I hope everyone has a sparkly day!

 

 

Dear Granddaughter…..

In September, we celebrated Peanut’s 9th birthday. NINE! It’s hard to comprehend it was nine years ago I was promoted to being a Nana. A lot has been packed into those nine years…sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago she was placed in my arms, but at other times, nine years seems to have flown by at warp speed.

I put together Peanut’s school photos from Pre-K to her current 3rd grade shot. While they are not drastically different, the person behind the face has transformed in hundreds of ways in just nine short years.

Since time is a fleeting illusion, I want to take a few moments and pass on some Nana wisdom to my first grandbabykin.

Dear Peanut,

You have always been and always will be loved. I loved you before you were even put in my arms as a swaddled baby burrito. That is not to say you don’t do unloveable things….and I may not like you at times….but I always love you and will always be here for you. You can bet on that and be sure to win every time.

To steal a line from the 2016 Cinderella remake, Be kind and have courage. Both are difficult to do. Kindness may be becoming a lost art in our “me first” culture. It takes a lot of work to be kind to people, especially when you don’t like them, are mad at them, or see them as different from you. Extending kindness to family members is sometimes especially hard because there are times we make more of an effort to be nice to people outside our family and save the worst for those closest to us…who love us always!

Have courage. It’s scary to try new things. It’s scary to step out of our comfort zones in the way we think and act. I know this from experience. it was scary moving to a new house and school when I was in 3rd grade. It was scary to move to a new town after Papa and I got married….a town where I didn’t know anyone. It was scary when Papa and I moved to Columbia…a town where I didn’t know anyone either. It was really scary when Papa was told he had cancer. It’s also scary to do the right thing when you think others will look at you differently or not like you anymore. This is especially hard when your friends are doing things you know aren’t right, but you want them to like you so you’re tempted to do those things anyway. Don’t. Have the courage to stand up for what’s right.

Keep your faith strong. So many people walk away from their beliefs when they get older, thinking faith is something only for children. Our culture doesn’t encourage strong faith in God. It does encourage strong faith in doing whatever we think will make us happy…or is convenient…or easy. Being an authentic Christian is hard work. It requires we believe and do the right things even when we don’t understand or see the reason. Many times you will be tempted to not make your faith a priority in your life. But, dearest Peanut, your faith will sustain you in those scary moments when the storms of life roll in and tear your life to pieces.

Trust. Trust those of us who love you that the things we do are to help grow you into someone others will respect; someone YOU can respect. Growing up is hard, and there are many times when you’ll think you know what’s best….but you won’t. I ask you trust even when you don’t agree; even when you don’t understand. It’s related to believing and trusting God has a plan for your life….a good plan….even though many times you’ll feel like you don’t agree or don’t understand why things are happening the way they are.

Love yourself. Not in a narcissistic way, but love yourself as a person of worth. It’s easy to feel like we can never measure up to our culture’s ideas and expectations. I want you to always love who you are, flaws and all. That is NOT to say you shouldn’t try to change areas of your life that need improvement. And, this is not reason to excuse bad attitudes or behavior. You are a child of the King….who loves you unconditionally. If you can love your imperfect self, you can love others despite their imperfections too.

Peanut, you are strong-willed and incredibly talented in many areas. I encourage you to use that strong will and those talents in positive, constructive ways…and never be ashamed of the things you have accomplished and will accomplish in the future.

In the years to come, you will face many challenges and ride the roller coaster of emotions. I hope by keeping these things in mind, life will be a bit smoother….for everyone involved!

Love always,
Nana

 

A Dragonfly Life

Magic is seeing wonder in nature’s every little thing. Seeing how wonderful the fireflies are, and how magical are the dragonflies.
~ Ama H. Vanniarachchy

Always been fascinated by dragonflies. While I love to see butterflies and hummers, my whole attitude shifts at the site of one dragonfly. So, you can imagine the thrill when I happened upon this little darling the other day.

I do love to watch my hummers, but quickly discovered they are mean little @#$%s, and extremely territorial. That said, I still love having them around and one can learn a lot by looking at their life. And a butterfly’s ability to ride the breeze always offer a sense of calm with their slow-motion flights.

But dragonflies……they are the true ballet dancers of the insect realm. Graceful and poised, the dragonfly seems to glide…but with purpose. It personifies the theory of working smarter instead of harder as it moves at about 20-30mph, flies in every direction and can hover with the best hummer….all while only flapping those iridescent wings at about 30 times per minute.

The dragonfly is born in the water and lives up to four years there as a nymph, where its sole purpose in life is to eat. When it emerges from the water, sheds its skin for the last time, it transforms into an adult…but only for a fraction of time…not living more than a few months. During that time, its focus is unwavering. A voracious predator, the dragonfly should be welcome in any garden as a deterrent for mosquitoes and other bothersome insects. And, it accomplishes its objectives with the utmost simplicity and efficiency.

But here’s the real reason I love dragonflies.

With their very short adult life spans, they exemplify the art of living life to the fullest. By living in the moment we become aware of what is important and what is not. The adult dragonfly is acutely aware of its purpose and makes the most of every second of life. Something we humans have lost sight of over the centuries. How often do the unimportant things of life crowed out our sense of purpose? How often are we derailed by events and activities that only serve to distract us from what we were really created to accomplish in life?

The way a dragonfly travels through life is an inspiration. Every aspect of this tiny insect portrays the ability to move and change at a moment’s notice….in whatever direction is needed. A dragonfly rotates its four wings independently to adapt quickly to needed changes in direction. Changes in perspectives and how we respond to life is just one of the lessons that can be learned from a dragonfly. When life throws those curve balls and plot twists, do we roll with it and adapt, or are we resistant to the point of destroying our emotional and spiritual well being?

Finally, a dragonfly’s eyes are designed to view life with nearly 360 degree vision, using about 80% of its brain to process all that it sees. A dragonfly can multi-task and calculate three things when it’s on the offensive: the distance of its prey, the direction it’s moving, and the speed it’s flying. In the blink of an eye (maybe faster), the dragonfly calculates exactly where it needs to be in order to intercept its meal in mid-air.  Did you get that? It doesn’t pursue…it intercepts. And, it has a 95% success rate. I’m not sure how we can intercept the aspirations we have in life, but intercepting those dreams sounds a lot better than merely chasing them.

A dragonfly can see a wider spectrum of colors than our human eye. Not only can it see the normal color spectrum, a dragonfly can also see UV light and has the ability to see the same way we see sun and water glare with polarized sunglasses. How cool would that be to have the ability to see virtually everything that’s coming from almost any direction and any situation, AND process it almost instantaneously.  That would definitely be a super power that would really come in handy.

The dragonfly is mainly viewed in different cultures as a symbol of change and self realization. The dragonfly elegantly controls its movements and choreographs those movements whether over water, on land or in the air, depending on its situation and environment. We should all be so flexible and intuitive in how we navigate through life…being able to change life direction in an instant. As a species that has been on the earth about 300 million years, this prehistoric-looking insect’s testament to being able to adapt and survive is unparalleled, despite the fact that many dragonflies are intercepted by predators such as bird, frogs, toads etc.

Depending on the culture, dragonfly symbolism include: power, agility, happiness, speed, and purity. A recurring theme is the dragonfly encourages us to gracefully dance in the light on iridescent wings, and embrace the on-going transformation and renewal of life.

It’s no wonder they are beloved in almost every culture.

Summer’s end and August musings

Summer is all but over unless there’s an “Indian Summer” hiding in September. And what a summer it’s been.

Entrepreneur is adjusting to his *new normal* with the chemo pills he takes every day. The Bell’s Palsy is getting better…slowly. We added a fur baby to our family in May….Cabo the Goldendoodle, who is 5 months old this month. The grandbabykins are back from seeing their dad in Alabama and school started a couple of weeks ago. We’re still taking care of Twix during the days, while attempting to do something that resembles work in our home office.

But all that pales when looking at what’s going on in our country. Today’s musings will be accompanied by a few uplifting captures from my summer garden and seasonal quotes I like. Hopefully, they will bring a smile to your face…in the face of all the ugliness of the news.

Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, TX last weekend and the devastation continues with water rescues and destruction of property. I was really hoping there wouldn’t be any looting, but the depths in which some people will descend never really surprises me anymore. In spite of those that steal and loot, there have been hundreds of stories about everyday heroes who are rescuing people with their own boats and taking them to safety. Humanitarians are trying to find and take care of abandoned pets. Below is a video of a line of cars towing boats en route to Houston to offer their help. This. Is. Awesome. These are the stories that renew my faith in humankind.

Which leads me to the Florida professor who tweeted Harvey was karma for the predominantly Republican  people in Texas. Really?! With that type of mentality, I suppose one could make a case that people living in the predominantly Democrat states in the Northeast deserved to be hit by Superstorm Sandy. Ludicrous. I was happy to read this professor was relieved of his position. Yes, he does have the right to voice his opinion (see the first amendment), but it should not shield him from the consequences of this really stupid remark.

I also believe those people who comment about presidential assassinations should be held accountable as well. Missouri congresswoman Chappelle-Nadal, who advocated President Trump’s assassination, should be relieved of her responsibilities as someone who was elected to uphold the laws of our country…which do not include assassinations. Last I read, the Lieutenant Governor has called for a special session of the Senate to expel her from the legislature.

This lace cap hydrangea grows every summer in the garden. It was blooming when we planted it years ago, but never bloomed again…until this summer. If anyone has a clue as to why, I’d love to know. I think this quote personifies the human will to survive in the face of natural disasters and other life challenges. We never know what we’re capable of until our faith, tenacity and resolve are put to the test.

Next on my @#$% list is ANTIFA. This group needs to be categorized as terrorists, plain and simple.

Terrorist
noun
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism.
Everything I’ve seen and read about these people fits the definition of terrorist; especially in light of their assault on the peace rally in Berkley a few days ago. While reasonable people recoil at the messages of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, we need to be equally disgusted with the rhetoric and methods of these masked…..I don’t even know what to call them. While human beings, they react violently without any semblance of humanity towards anyone who disagrees with their views.
The only thing I can say about what’s happening in Charlottesville and other cities who have commemorated soldiers and historical figures who are on the wrong side of culture’s opinions now is that is makes me both sad and angry. I’m sad because I can understand how statues of Confederate and slave-owning historical figures can bring about bad feelings. On the other hand, this is part of our nation’s history. Whatever message is being perverted by the presence of a piece of stone will not be erased with its disappearance. Will we go so far as to rename every street, county, city, currency, school and building named after someone we disagree with in order to erase any and all reminders of our past that some find offensive? My personal opinion is if a statue has the power to destroy your psyche, perhaps you need to spend some time self reflecting on what’s really behind your rage, and how it could be channeled towards something more constructive and educational. On the other hand, if I were a Jew living in Germany, I probably wouldn’t like seeing a statue of Hitler on my way to work. Recently, I ran across an article about a brilliant response by a town in Germany where they pranked a neo-Nazi group who marched in their town every year to commemorate Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess. Brilliant, and a much better response than the assault and destruction methods that seem to be the norm now for anything deemed “offensive.” When you stop and think about it, every ethnic and cultural group has something in which they can take offense. If every one of those offenses was appeased, where would it end? And, who gets to decide which offenses are legitimate and which are not? It’s a Pandora’s Box.

So, those are my musings on this summer day. Agree or disagree, I would hope we would be able to engage in dialogue as intelligent adults and either find common ground, or just agree to disagree.

Linking up with others over at Peabea’s Pictorial Tuesday.…on Wednesday.