Friday, October 28, 2011

Some Days Just Suck!

Some days just suck! No matter how hard we try to change the course of events....things just go from bad to worse. Z is having one of those days as we speak. He is learning that sometimes bad days have a domino affect and getting things back on track is almost just have to go with it.....ride the storm out....and pray that when all is said and can laugh at both the situation and yourself.

So far Z's day has gone like this: He tried out for a musical part in the Christmas program and in his words..."he bombed worse than anyone ever." Now I sincerely doubt that is the case, but I pointed out that never has he bombed. He is used to applause and ovations. Every high has a low and we don't learn from the high's. We learn tons from the lows. While he and I both know my words are sage and come from a place of deep knowledge....that doesn't help when both your ego and your spirit feel tromped on.

Next he gets chewed out from the office because he parked in the wrong place in the parking lot. put it bluntly those ladies in the office are..........! Nope, I am going to take the high road, but they have made no bones about the fact that they don't care for Z nor do they care for me. Guess what? The feeling is mutual, but one in particular has gone out of her way on more than one occasion to be down right nasty to both Z and I. Yeah....working with kids and their parents is her calling! But I digress. This is Z's first week driving and I know that in his cautiousness.....he is trying to park strategically so that when he leaves school he has the path of least resistance. Still and all though....he needs to learn to pay attention and read signs and know that VISITORS PARKING is actually for the visitors. Instead of saying please move your car though.....they in Z's words.....yelled at him. Now were they their usual nasty selves or did Z just feel yelled at because he already was stinging from the earlier mishaps? I would say it could go either way.

While he was moving his car though....he called me for some words of encouragement and possible ideas on how not to have the entire day tank. I told him it was just one day and he would get through it. He had his doubts but said he was going to do his best. Poor just wasn't in the cards for him.

About 20 min. ago I got another call from him. His day in fact did go from bad to worse. First of all when he came back into school after moving his car he was given the third degree by those ever so sweet office bi....errrr....ladies asking him why it took him so long to move his car. He said he had a call from me. (A small lie but definitely understandable in light of events.) They then told him that better NOT happen again. Nice to see their brooms are up and running in time for Halloween. (Grrrr) While this didn't help the situation.....he is so used to their really didn't phase him that much....however.....the next event really was what seemed to sink the entire day to it's lowest depths.

This morning at our house was crazy and Z was very focused on his audition today so apparently.....while he was getting ready for school.....some things slipped through the putting on a belt. Z has taken a growth spurt of late and in that spurt he started losing weight. None of the pants that fit when school now. So as he was walking through the commons during passing period............yeah you guessed......his pants dropped. Now don't get me wrong....Z is not above dropping his pants in the commons for a laugh, but that is in HIS time. It doesn't feel quite the same when you have already had the day from hell and it is only 9:30 a.m. and you had no plans of showing your boxers that day. Thank God they were clean! There were laughs....lots of laughs but Z felt instead of laughing with him....they were laughing at him. Truth be told, the kids probably thought it was a joke and secondly the same kids that would have laughed had it been a joke were laughing even though it was a totally unplanned skivvy show. Needless to say....that final phone call was frustration and resignation all at the same time. I couldn't help but snicker momentarily at the mental picture.....he on the other hand neither appreciated my snicker nor did he find any humor in the current situation. I told him to laugh it off. He really didn't appear to be in a laughing mood though. I understood. I told him things would get better and to just hold his head up and get to his next class. Not sure if that was what he was looking for.....but he sounded okay when he got off the phone. (Hope the office ladies didn't see him....Grrr)

So why the blog about such a horrible day? Well....because as a parent this was hard on me too. No...I am not making this about me, I am saying that no parent wants to see their kid have such a rotten day. No parent wants to get that call from their kid hearing the underlying "please make it all better," and know there is absolutely nothing they can do to change things. And no parent is without having a few sucky days of their own to pull they can both sympathize and empathize with this kind of day. I know that Z left the house with such hope this morning only to feel like the day beat him up and left him bruised and battered...and all before mid morning even hit. I heard the disappointment in his voice and I could hear the frustration as his day continued to sink further and further into the abyss of high school hell. And yes...I wanted to make it all better......but the fact is....this is life and some days are just gonna suck! Some days are gonna be full of failed auditions, nasty office ladies and pants falling down in a crowd. But it is those days that give us a true life education, teach us humility and make us not take ourselves too seriously. Nothing happened today that is going to change the world, cause irreparable damage or even probably be remembered come Monday. However Z learned some very valuable lessons today. He learned that no matter how talented you are or think you are.....not every audition is going to be your best work or get you a part. If you are a strong person, believe in yourself and your is those "fails" that make you re-evaluate your performance, make you work harder and make you give your very best every time. If you don't know failure....then you can never appreciate success. He also learned he needs to pay attention and read signs and that some people are just never going to like you or be nice to you. You can let them define you and how you feel about yourself....or you can realize that in most cases......the problem is not you at all....but some issue that they them self have. Finally he learned that everyone loses their pants, wears two different shoes, has a boob pop out or farts loudly at some inopportune time in life. It happens to all of us. It almost seems to be a cosmic joke that keeps us humble and gives God and the angels a chuckle. How we react to these little faux pas is a character building exercise which teaches us to cope with life and all the little unexpected things that tend to happen. Fun? No! But then again the really tough lessons seldom are.

So I hope and yes even said a couple of prayers.....that Z's day improves. Knowing Z's mother....and I do know her well, we will be looking for the humor in all of this as soon as possible. Yeah....some days just suck! What else can I say?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Learning to Pray

Okay....for the most part, I guess I am back. Life is too short to shove aside that which I love and we all know I blogging. Things have settled in my world or maybe I just stopped obsessing about the things that I have no control over. You will probably see me jumping between my three blogs a bit as the other two blogs haven't gotten much love as of late. They are my way of balancing my life and focusing on all that encompasses my world.

Yesterday I spoke of changes in the 51 weeks I have left this year. Well today was a doozie. Z drove by himself for the very first time. I let him drive to a later Mass after I got home from early Mass. Tomorrow he begins driving to school and work. My stomach is in knots.....but I know....I can't be my mother. My mom was a tad bit on the over protective side causing me to hit a lot of milestones a little later than most. I don't want to do that to Z but at the same time I have not wanted to rush him into something he wasn't ready for either. I hate this tightrope that I seem to walk, but as parents there are no hard and fast we just take it one milestone at a time/one kid at a time. It's too bad I am not more of a drinker!

This morning Father spoke of changes that are going to occur in the new missalette starting in late November. He explained them and the reasoning for them but I think I tuned him out when he said the word "change." I know life is about change but I am not a fan of change in my church. When he said the word "change" I could feel myself turning into my mother and it didn't help that I was sitting next to my aunt. I am sure the wording will be fine and that I will adjust....I just don't understand why people constantly have to fix what isn't broke.

I spoke yesterday about wanting to learn to pray and I had several emailed comments on that. It appears that I have been able to front my ability to pray for years and have actually done a really good job of it. I was told by several that I had already achieved the "learning to pray goal." In truth though....I don't believe I have. I do way too much asking and not nearly enough thanking. The first words out of my mouth to God are seldom thank you and are often......"I need this or please do that." And being that as I have gotten older I see God as Father in the parenting sense.....I think of my own parenting. When a child comes to you constantly asking the same thing over and over again and you as the parent know that what they are asking for is not good for them, in their best interest and could have dire gets old and and as parents it can tend to push our anger buttons. Now I know God is slow to anger but according to what my mother used to say....." could drive a saint mad," then I am sure after 49 years of my constant asking.....I am bouncing on God's last nerve. Maybe before I pray and ask.....I should do a quick refresher on what I have, who I have and what I should already be grateful for. And being that God is not deaf and He has heard my needs more than once.....perhaps I should assume that whatever I am asking for is either 1) not in my best interest 2) it is not the time...or 3) my needs will be met in a completely different way. Also....there is a distinct possibility that if I start showing more appreciation for the many wonderful gifts I have already received.....I might not be so needy in the future.

It is kind of like going to the store. Sometimes we already have all we need in the pantry, but we forget to take stock....therefore we think we are still in need and thus try to by more. I know it is a strange analogy, but it does fit. It has happened on more than one occasion that the things I "thought" I needed....I already had. They were sitting right in front of me and not until I opened my eyes and took stock did I realize it. God ALWAYS gives us what He knows we need. Sometimes though....we don't see it or we think we need something different. Bottom line is....... He is always right and when we fight against Him is when we usually end up really shooting ourselves in the foot. Just like kids. When we know what is best for them and they take it upon themselves to do something different....often they end up getting into real trouble which then in turn we as their  parent are called upon to help them out of.

So this is why at 49 I am learning to pray. I am learning to ask for only what I truly need, learning to be truly thankful for what I already have and trying always to remember that when I put things in God's hands.....there is no safer place for them to be. This lesson will definitely keep me a work in progress for many many years to come.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Before I Turn 50

So I was thinking. Today it has officially been one week since I turned 49 years old and I only have 51 more weeks until I hit the magic 50 years old. That is just 51 weeks I will be half a century old. WOW! For a lot of years it seemed that life was moving right along and I was moving with it. I was married, having kids, working and loving life. Then.... the bottom fell out and everything seems that a good portion of the last decade has been spent in a mechanically functioning but not really achieving or accomplishing mode. I guess that is why turning 50 is so much on my mind......even when I just turned 49. It dawned on my today that there is much I want to do and accomplish before I hit that new mile stone in my life and much I have let fall to the way side in the last decade that I would like to catch up. Thus came the idea for today's blog. What I Want to do Before I Turn 50!

Before I turn 50........

I want to lose at least 25 lbs.
I want to complete just one unfinished project
I want to have my house completely clean from top to bottom and everything in between all at the same time
I want to truly forgive someone who up till now I couldn't
I want to tuck the past away and only see the here and now
I want to learn to pray
I want to dance
I want to smile at least once every day
I want to kiss someone special and feel 16 again
I want to walk in the rain
I want to travel some place wonderful and new
I want my kids to have no doubts how special they are to me or how much I love them
I want to spend time with friends and appreciate what each one brings to my life
I want to laugh until I cry because I don't do nearly enough of that
I want to take some classes
I want to teach a class
I want to touch someone with my writing
I want to make a difference and leave my forties knowing that I didn't just merely exist...but that I actually lived!

Yeah...I know....a pretty lofty "want" list for just 51 short weeks. Doable? Who knows but the longest journey starts with just one tiny step and my tiny step is this blog. While I will always be a work in is about learning and accomplishing and I intend to do some of both. Even though have no unrealistic ideas that 49 will be a cake walk.....I have a pretty good feeling that it just might be a great ending to a not so great decade and a wonderful beginning to a brand new one. I guess only time will tell but  right now....I would put money on me taking a pretty good bite out of that list!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Strange to be back on the computer again. I haven't done much even on facebook in several days. I feel a great big disconnect in my world and I have no idea why. It was as if I woke up the day after my birthday...a different person. I don't feel the same, look at the things the same or even desire the same things. I feel very alone.....but not the least bit lonely. I feel extremely irritable.....but not at all angry. I feel like I need to step outside my box......but I don't feel boxed in at all. Not sure where all of this came from, but I do know that there was not a want, but a need to blog today. I felt as if a lot of emotions were coming to the surface and I needed to put them in their place. The hard part was turning on my computer. The device which I am usually attached at the hip to.....I had almost a repulsion when thinking about actually having to use it. Strange after the years long, daily affair I have had with it.

Today there is no topic and no theme to my blog. Today is just my thoughts and emotions running wild and coming they come up. This is much how my blog originally started way back when, so I guess I have gone back to the basics. Again...I have no idea what is going on inside me. I don't even recognize me right now. Literally I feel as if I woke up someone else on Oct. 16th. All the things I thought I wanted.....thought I needed.....thought I felt, are gone. I feel this determination for something, but I am clueless as to what. My sleeping hours are short but restful. My waking hours are long and full. It seems I am piling a great deal on myself, maybe testing myself to see what I can accomplish. I actually have been accomplishing. I have some directions but where it is leading I have no idea.

I suddenly have quit worrying about the unimportant things. I don't care what people think or say about me (which I really didn't before....except when I did) and I don't feel the need to be heard anymore. That is huge because that is the crux of who I am. Perhaps I have felt so out of control for so long and truly without a voice.....that I have needed to be heard. Maybe this blog is my need to be heard or is just my way of screaming into a pillow at the top of my lungs? idea. I feel as if a part of me if fighting to keep my head above water, while another part is swimming beautiful with no regard for time, distance or depth.

I know I spoke of determination.....and this is something that is so powerful inside me right now. I feel determined to accomplish. What? I am really not sure, but there is something and it feels like it is just within my fingertips. I will know it when I touch it, but until then......I keep striving with this unbelievable determination. Does this all sound strange to you? It does to me too!

In spite of all that I am feeling and the words that you are seeing.....I am good. In fact.....I am better than I have been in a very long time. Maybe the reason for this is because I don't feel like me. The me I had become felt faded, old and tired. I imagined myself as some kind of old flowered wallpaper that resided in an old lady's parlor. It was pretty and new at one time, but now it was just a vague reminder of the past. Now though.....I don't feel like that. I feel as if things are changing. I don't feel so faded. I feel as if the color is coming back and with it the fire that gives me those extreme emotions I have been lacking. I haven't felt happy in a long time, but happiness (true happiness) seems to be sneaking its way back in. I don't feel so tired now. I feel refreshed and ready to greet whatever my future holds and I don't seem to dread the bad but honestly am looking forward to the good which I know is there. The old....I cannot change. If we are lucky......we all get there, but I am not yet there. I still have much to see and do....many to fight with, laugh with and love. Age will come.....but old will always be just up over the next hill and I have many hills yet to climb before I get there.

So who am I now? I have absolutely no idea. All I know is who I was when I went to bed Oct. 15th and who I woke up to be Oct. 16th are two vastly different people. Will the new me remain? Will the old me come back? Only time and God will tell, but for now there is change and change is good. Right?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Riverside Cafe of Derby...A Fantastic Experience

Okay...okay! I know I said I was on hiatus....and really....I am, but when something excites me.....I just gotta blog. Today I was excited. In fact I was so excited that it threw me out of my week long...."I want to take my toys and go home," funk. Well at least it put a band aid on it and made me want to take the time to blog.

So what am I so excited about? Derby has a new restaurant. For those of you who are scratching your head and wondering what a Derby is and why a new restaurant is so exciting....I will tell you. Derby is a small town just to the south of Wichita. It is quickly becoming the gateway town to the town I live in. It is where I work, have doctors and do most of my shopping. Now Derby has been full of fast food for many years and has one truly outstanding home grown pizza place,  a great home grown bar/burger place and recently with the expansion of Derby....we have been inundated with many chains such as Applebees, but Derby has lacked a really great down home, comfort food type of restaurant. Well I am pleased to not even pleased...let's say ecstatic isn't even strong enough. Let us say OVER THE MOON....that Derby now has a FANTASTIC new home town restaurant called Riverside Cafe of Derby.

I had heard from several friends that it was there. It is on the main drag which is K-15/Baltimore in the old Post Office strip mall. You can see the sign from the road, and although I knew it was there....I really figured it was just a flash in the pan type place. Perhaps I should pick up a Wichita Eagle from time to time and actually read. If I had....I would have known that Paul and Heather Cohlmia had opened this fabulous little place (3000 sq. ft. of little) in September and it has been doing land office business since. Maybe the reason for it's success is the fact that before Derby, the Cohlmia's opened the original Riverside Cafe in Wichita, on West 13th (in Riverside) and with it's success then opened another one in Wichita on Woodlawn in the old Livingston's building. From that success they decided upon Derby as their next spot. Lucky us!!!!!! By the time it made it to was a household name amongst the connoisseurs of fine down home comfort food. Again....perhaps if I ever ventured beyond the borders of Derby....I might have known all of this. The fact that I didn't though....made today a wonderful surprise.

Z had more tests this morning...yet again and because of the tests, he couldn't eat before we left the house. By the time the tests were through....he was starving and there is little to eat up by Via Christi St. Francis,  so we made our way back to Derby, dropped off a prescription and decided to try out this new little restaurant that everyone was raving about. To see it from the outside, you would think it would be small and I was expecting maybe a little soda fountain type place with a couple of tables. Boy was I wrong. Now mind you....we walked in at 10:15 in the morning....and the place was busy. It has a nice ambiance of restaurant, soda fountain and friendly gathering place. It is meticulously clean and you get to seat yourself...something I like very much as I like to put myself strategically to watch people. Yes...I am a people watcher. Almost the moment you are comfortably seated in either a booth or at a table.....your drink order is taken and you are handed a menu, and believe me....this is SOME menu. They serve breakfast all day and have everything from appetizers to desserts and salads, burgers and full meals. It is the meals that really get you though. Talk about comfort. You can have ham and beans, chicken and noodles, goulash and swiss steak and this is just the beginning. Every comfort food you can think of was there and if you couldn't find what you were looking for on the menu....all you had to do was look on the back chalk board wall where everyday of the week offered three palate pleasing choices. I was drooling before I even ordered. Honestly.....I almost couldn't decide what to order. I wanted it ALL!!!

Z ended up settling on 1/3 pound hamburger with fries and I got the hot meatloaf sandwich. Honestly....the key ingredients here were the french fries and the meatloaf. A place is only as good as its fries and if you can make a good meatloaf.....then everything else is a piece of cake. The fries were wonderful. They were not greasy, nor were they wimpy. They were simply perfect. And as for that meatloaf....oh yum. It was about a 5-6" slice of meatloaf over two slices of white bread covered in brown gravy. It was also served with "real" mashed potato's complete with chunks of potato. It was to die for.

There was little conversation going on between Z and I as we were much too busy snarfing. Once done though I asked Z what his opinion was as if I didn't get a hint from the speed and accuracy in which he chowed his bruncheakfast. He let me know that this burger surpassed all others and being the burger snob he is.....he will likely never eat a burger from anywhere else. The fries he guarded like a pit bull and after my first taste I was no longer allowed to even gaze upon them. They were his.

The experience....and yes I say experience because that is what it really was. You simply don't expect to find something this wonderful in a town of fast food and chain restaurants. But the experience was amazing. After eating I just sat there looking around and planning my next visit back. I was so impressed that I even asked to speak to the owner and let her know that this blog was in the works. A place like this needs to be cherished and supported as Derby is now one lucky little town to have such a culinary establishment and I guarantee I will be dining there whenever money permits. And speaking of money....the menu is very reasonably priced. A family can enjoy a wonderful meal and not break the bank or have eaters remorse afterwards.

So you see....good food and a great atmosphere can do wonders for a broken spirit and this morning....thanks to Riverside Cafe of Derby and the wonderfully friendly spirit was soaring. To all the yourself a favor and give this place a try and for anyone not local that decides to travel down Derby way....the Riverside Cafe is a must try.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not Goodbye......Just.......See Ya Later

Well...if you are tuning in to read about dating life in Lisaland...sorry. Today there are no updates. Partially because I have done nothing to have updated and partially because life is back throwing curve balls again. It appears that I am going to have to pull my fragmented brain together and focus on some immediate issues that need every thought process I have available. This means things that usually work better in fragments may temporarily fall by the wayside. Blogging happens to be one of those things.

Right is requiring my full attention and as much as I would really like to run and hide....I have to meet it head on. This means I am going to have to use all of my mental and physical resources and there will be little time left for much else. Of course....we all know that blogging has become my therapy, so who maybe hearing from me sooner than later....just so I can vent, but the topic days will be on hiatus for awhile.

I am a bit sad about this as I set a goal for myself of daily blogging and I have done a pretty darn good job up til now. Please know that I am not going anywhere....I will definitely be back. I just need a little real world adjustment in Lisaland. Wow....this last week of my 48th year is looking to be a doozie. Please all who read...if you would....keep me and my little world in your thoughts and prayers and keep an eye out....because I will return.

This is not goodbye...only....see ya later.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shrimp and Brownies....Yum!

Oh my word. Today has been a Monday of epic proportions. In has been a Monday that even other Monday's fear. Trust me....later in the week I have some wonderful "rant" material. Today though.....we will do what we do best on Mondays....and that is talk food.

Again this week I have some guest recipes. One is from an old internet friend and another is from a new internet friend. The first one comes from a gentleman who I met years ago back when I used to frequent political message boards. This man was always a gentleman even in the face of those who were less than respectful. He earned my respect early on and was always a favorite of mine. After I quit the boards though...I lost track of this dear man until he showed up on facebook and little did I know....he is quite the chef. Today is one of Greg T.'s recipes, Tequila Lime Shrimp with Peppers.....and it sounds absolutely delicious.

The second recipe comes from a new internet friend who follows my blog. J'nelle is the young mother of three and only in the last year has she been really learning to cook. Her favorite thing to do is take something that is considered a "convenience" food and tweak it to give it a homemade flair. J'nelle's Caramely Delicious Brownies sound like the perfect end to a perfect meal and so easy too because she uses a box brownie mix.

So without further ado....let's get these recipes started!

Tequilla Lime Shrimp with Peppers

1 LB. Jumbo shrimp (26-30 per pound)
1/2 coarsely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 coarsely chopped red bell pepper
2 coarsely chopped Annaheim chili peppers
1 finely chopped Jalapeno
1/2 cup diced white or red onions
1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
2 sticks thinly sliced fresh celery
1/2 LB. thinly sliced mushrooms (Button, Portabella or Shitake)
1 can diced tomatos, drained
1/2 cup finely minced fresh cilantro

2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
3 cans Campbell's Cream of Shrimp soup
1-1/2 cans milk or Half-n-Half
1/2 cup fancy shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1 LB. your choice of pasta (penna, mosticiolli, spaghetti, fettucini, etc.)
1 cup crushed tortilla chips (Nacho Cheese Dorritos works nicely)
1 pkg premium quality taco seasoning mix
2 tsp Spanish Chili Powder
2 or 3 cloves fresh, finely minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute seafood in olive oil until shrimp are pink and nearly done, drain and save oil, set seafood aside. Saute vegetables with garlic in olive oil only until onions are opaque and peppers and celery are still firm. Add soup, milk, sauteed seafood and spices to vegetables, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes. While simmering, prepare pasta. When pasta is done, drain and serve on large plates sprinkled with cilantro, tortilla chips and cheese with soup mixture ladled over the top.

This is great recipe which feeds 6 to 8 people. Serve with cold beer, white wine or your favorite soft drink.
Don't expect leftovers, this one is very tasty and fattening.

Caramely Delicious Brownies

Your favorite packaged boxed brownie mix
caramel ice cream syrup
1 pkg semi-sweet or milk chocolate morsels

Prepare brownie mix per directions and put in backing dish or pan, but before baking, squeeze caramel syrup and pool three or four places in the batter. Then take a knife and swirl the caramel throughout the batter. Bake according to directions. When done while still hot, pour the package of chocolate morsels over the top of the brownies and then cover the dish/pan with foil for 15 min. After 15 min., remove foil and morsels will be melted. Take a knife and cover evenly.  Let cool another 15 min. and serve. They are so gooey and delicious....not to mention very easy!

Well there you have's recipes and I would like to thank Greg T. and J'nelle for their wonderful recipes. If you would like to be a guest on My Favorite Recipes please email me, message me or facebook me and let me know. Who could be next!

Here's hoping that your day has been better than mine and that what is left of it is fantastic. Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rain and Tears

Today the rain is fitting, for I feel like crying. There is a sadness in me. Not sure where it came from...or why it is here. Maybe I just need a good cry. Tears welling up in my eyes but not going anywhere....don't count. Perhaps I just need to cry until I can't anymore and then I will feel better....although I have no idea what I would cry over. Things are basically decent now.

Maybe I could cry over getting ready to turn another year older? No....I am really not sad about that. Living to see another birthday is a good thing. I am thinking though....that maybe part of my sadness. This weekend a friend of mine's husband lost his brother. It was an accident and he was still fairly young....58. And trust me, from my vantage point of life....58 is still young. I went to school with this friends husband and he and his entire family were wonderful. I know this is a crushing loss for them. I hate the suffering that loss brings about.

This was not the only loss this weekend. The town and my church lost a lovely lady. She was the mother of another guy from my class. She was the mom of 13 kids and a military wife. While I never got to know her on a personal basis....she was always wonderful to me. She knew my name and would always seek me out at church events or if she saw me out and ask me about my family and how I was doing. She was a little lady whose smile could light up a room. She was a tireless worker at church events and not a Sunday went by that she and her husband weren't at Mass. The thing I found so special about this lady and her husband was they way they seemed to cherish each other. Often times I would see them in church holding hands and he would look at her as if she was a young girl and he was falling in love. It was always awesome to watch such love and devotion after so many years. In recent years.....she began to fail and her mind began to go and yet he was ever her protector, always at her side and still looking at her as if she were the most beautiful girl in the world. When I heard today that she was gone....I couldn't help but think of him and the loss he must feel after 63 years. Yesterday....he lost the love of his life.....the most beautiful girl in the world....and yes....I shed a tear.

So the rain continues to fall and I can hear it gently hit the earth through my open windows. It is refreshing the earth and cleansing the atmosphere..........and making me want to cry. Maybe I will just give in, let loose and then.....move on. May Max Nichols and Margaret Armstrong rest in God's gentle presence and may their families be given the thoughts, prayers, love and strength to get through this tremendously sad time.

Here's hoping that your Sunday is not quite as melancholy as mine and that you have a peaceful and happy day. Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I know that if you are under 25 and I say...."when I was a kid...." your eyes are going to glaze over and your mind will wander. It is not until you reach a certain age and a certain level of maturity that you realize wisdom and age walk hand in hand for a reason. The main reason is....experience. All the old sayings like, youth is wasted on the young in fact are true. Not until you you understand. More than that ....the younger you are....the wiser you think you are and the older you get....the more you realize just how much you have left to learn.

Okay....this is rant day and I am sure you are wondering where I am going with this. So let me start by saying.....when I was a kid my parents taught me many things. One of the important ones respected adults. It didn't matter whether those adults where your parents, grand parents, teachers, neighbors or the mailman. If they were older you called them Mr. or Mrs. and ma'am and sir. In public especially,  you were expected to show manners.......not talk back and hold your tongue regardless of what was said. To this day I still say ma'am and sir and I still call my elders Mr. and Mrs. In my job too I notice that I have far more patience or maybe it is far more respect for those older than myself....... than some of my younger co-workers seem to.

So what is my rant already???? Young people and their level of disrespect for their elders. Again...when I was growing up, what was expected of me.....was expected of most. Kids would never dare call another friends mom or dad by their first name. They would never think to back talk a teacher or answer without a ma'am or sir being attached. So what has happened to our kids and grand kids? Suddenly we have a generation of kids who find disrespect not only acceptable but the norm. I realize that maybe with the changes in the world, more homes having both parents working and other social changes that maybe the emphasis of elder respect has been glossed over, but the level of disrespect in my opinion is really alarming.

In the last week alone I saw several situations where kids in their teens and early twenties showed total disrespect. One case was a young man driving down the road. He was in one of the newer mustangs. He looked to have been all of about 17 and he cut a woman who was probably a little older than myself off. She had kids in her car and she had to slam on her brakes to avoid an accident. He just laughed and flipped her off as he spun around her. REALLY? The next was going into the pharmacy. Two young men in their early twenties walked up to the door and first of all....stepped ahead of an elderly lady with a walker. Rather than step ahead and hold the door for her.....they walked ahead and let the door close on her as she was trying to enter. I grabbed it just as it was about to hit her walker. Again...REALLY? Then there was the young lady who was with her mother and wanted her computer fixed. It was determined that the issue was the young girls fault from misuse. The mother told her that they would bring it back to get it fixed when the girl could pay for it on her own (apparently she had a job). The girl was immediately angry and told me to go ahead and fix it. The mother looked embarrassed but held her ground and said " are paying for this." The girl became enraged and said "this is f#%@ed up. You can be such a b#$%&!" She then grabbed the computer and slammed it shut further damaging the already damaged hinge. She then side swiped her mom with the computer and stomped out.....leaving mom red faced and apologetic! It was a bit embarrassing for me too.  What is going on with kids? Did the basics of respect both for others and themselves skip a generation?

Z constantly comes home and tells me stories of how kids talk to teachers with no worries of repercussions or punishment. He has told me how other kids talk to their parents, grand parents and other adults showing zero respect as if they were some how entitled to act this way. Z on the other hand knows if he goes to someones house he better address parents as Mr. or Mrs., he better say "please" and "thank you" and he better be respectful at all times. The same goes for teachers, neighbors and anyone who is older. He knows if it was ever reported to me that he was ever anything but as he knows it would end.

I guess many kids today aren't taught the fundamental aspects of respect. I learned this a long time ago with Man Childs friends, so with Z's friends.....I make sure that they the understand the rules where I am concerned and in my home....up front. They know what is and what is not acceptable in my home, that four letter words are not to be used here, that if they mess it up....they clean it up and that my word is law. Cross me and you don't come back. It is as simple as that. So far....I have had no problems. Well....just one. It never fails that when Z brings a new friend home....they always ask Z what they should call me. Apparently no one (but Z) calls anyone's parents by Mr. or Mrs. anymore and I don't want his friends calling me Lisa, so Z just tells them to call me Mom! So far that has worked and all involved are okay with it.

So again I ask....what has happened to kids respecting adults? I know this may sound old fashioned, but darn if I don't feel that I deserve some respect. maybe this wasn't so much a rant and more of an unhappy observance on the human condition. At any rate...the verbalization of my dissatisfaction is complete and I will wish you all a good day. Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Motherhood For Dummies.......The Greatest Job on the Planet

So as I was going to bed last night....I was thinking about my kids. is true that they can drive me crazy sometimes, make me wonder about my parenting skills and single handedly keep Miss Clairol in business, but there is much more to them than just their minor indiscretions. With all five kids, at least one time or another in their young lives, they have made me really proud to be a part of their lives. They have amazed me, put me over the moon and made me whisper a prayer of thanksgiving to God that He put them into my life. It is those moments that make all the other stuff just disappear from thought. It is those moments which make motherhood so worth while.

When the two oldest came into my life, they were coming off of step mother #1 and it hadn't been the best of experiences for them, so they had every right to be leery of this new woman. In fact...with the knowledge I had of their past experience....I firmly expected a long breaking in time, followed by an even longer acceptance time. To my surprise...none of this came to pass. In was just the opposite. On our first meeting....I was prepared for the very worst, but what I got was two kids who were very polite, very accepting and very loving. They welcomed me with open arms and never once seemed to confuse their past situations with the present. The true test though.....came when they came to stay with us for several weeks in the summer for the first time.

Again I prepared myself for them missing their mom, their home and all that they knew and were comfortable with. While I know there was some homesickness involved.....they gave me the greatest gift a step mother could ever have. They treated me like family. They acted like kids. They argued with each other, got frustrated with me, their dad and rules. They made friends, lived life and every night before they went to bed....they hugged us, kissed us and told us they loved us. We talked, we played games, we went places and we were a family. The best part was when they left.....there were tears all around. We were a family and since I didn't try to be mom....fully aware that they already had a great mom....they welcomed me in and gave me a special place all my own. How could you not be proud of two exceptional kids with such generosity of heart and spirit? Sean and Tiffany.....I love you beyond words.

Man Child....although he has probably given me the most gray hair of all, has had his shining moments. His best moments came when David was born. MC was left to take care of the home front and Z, while his dad and I frantically tried to spend every waking moment with David. MC was 15 and we were in the process of moving the day I went into labor with he was left to do much of the unpacking and also he had a 4 year old brother whom he took care of. At the time he was homeschooling, so he was doing his class work, taking care of the new house, taking care of Z and coming to the hospital whenever he could. During that time.....not once did he ever complain. He had the weight of the world on his shoulders and he handled it not like a teenager, but like a man. Quite honestly....had he not been there to help like he did.....Tim and I would have been much more stressed than we were...and as it was....we were at a breaking point. Looking back and knowing all that he did....I realize that at 15 most kids would not have been able to handle what was thrown on MC and get through it without once single ounce of jealousy or complaint. He was simply an amazing kid and I am not sure he knows just how much his efforts helped to keep our family in tact.

Z! Oh what can I say about Z? Z can take me from zero to crazy in 2.2 seconds. He can make me laugh harder than anyone and make me angrier than just about anyone. He is really an amazing kid, but at times....he truly shines brightly. I think my proudest moments with Z are right now. Yes....he has done some extraordinary things in his young life...not the least of which is surviving the death of his father, but now....I see him growing. It is as if he is finding his place in life and all his past experiences are making him this wonderful young man. I am especially amazed when I see what a champion Z is for David. Z gives David the perfect amounts of helping him to achieve, guiding him to learn and then just down right roll on the floor rough housing and brotherly that David never feels different with him. David always knows that Z has his back and so does the rest of the world. Through Z....he has taught his own friends to respect, love and cherish David and he makes sure that the rest of the world see's David not as a child with special needs.....but merely as a special young man! To watch Z with David often brings tears to my eyes. They are brothers to the fullest extent....but more....they are best friends. Z's patience and understanding along with his respect and love for his younger brother show a maturity beyond his years and this makes me proud beyond words. He truly is an amazing kid.

And my David. He survived! That was his first huge hurdle and every day....ever since.....David has had hurdles to climb and he not only climbs them....but often he clears them. It appears that no ceiling is too high for him and no fences can corral him for he fights to exceed all expectations and keep going. With him....normal childhood milestones have become huge events and we keep celebrating these events as he continues to succeed and exceed. For all the pokes, prods, surgeries, seizures, bumps and bruises he has had in his young life....he has rarely shed a tear. In fact he tends to face these obstacles with a fighting spirit. Sometime he actually comes out swinging, while other times he merely sets his face to a steely glare......showing the needle, the hurdle and the world that he will not be defeated. David continues to fight and win and he makes those around him want to do the same. He makes me want to be the best I can be for him......because each day.....he is the best he can be for us. David is a blessing I never knew I needed, but God did. God knew that I needed this young man to guide me, show me what life really has to offer and see what real beauty was all about. Never a day goes by that I am not grateful and that I don't learn something from this exceptional young man. David is a gift and he teaches me daily. I am one lucky mama.

No....motherhood is not easy. It has no instructions....each child is different....and you don't get do overs. The best you can do is resign yourself to the fact that some days you will get it right and will get it oh so wrong. Your kids are going to drive you to the brink sometimes; make you cuss, make you cry and sometimes.....even make you drink. Then though...there will be those days when they shine and you will know without a doubt.........motherhood is the greatest job on the planet.

Well..those are my motherhood words of wisdom for this fall Friday. Here is hoping that your day is wonderful, beautiful and full of joy. Happy Friday everyone. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Like Donating Life

Ahhh Thursday and To Like or Not to Like!!!! Today's is easy as I have been thinking about it for several days. Why? Because my mind works in many strange ways. When I look at something or someone...sometimes it sets off a chain reaction that makes me think of something else...which then makes me think of another something which in the end.....really has nothing to do with what I was originally thinking about. Yeah...I know! Scary!

You ready to hear the train of thought that got me to today's Like? Here goes. The other day I was at Walmart looking at iPod's (RIP Mr. Job) and as I did I was thinking that I was too old to be looking at "toys". This got me to thinking of Z...who should have been the one standing there drooling over these shiny, musical play things. For some reason at this point I wondered if he had taken his sophomore school pictures yet and what his school ID would look like this year since his hair is blond and short instead of long and black. This got me to thinking about his drivers license and wondering if he changed his appearance drastically like that if he would have to get a new license with a picture of how he currently looked? This then made me wonder if he had signed the back of his license to be a donor. From there I was thinking about someone who had once told me if you want to be a donor....never sign your license but put it in a living will. If you sign your license then they might let you die and use you as a donor when they could have saved you. I then thought....what a bunch of bull. Which then made me think of Tim (my late husband) who had NOT signed his license but had discussed his decision to be a donor with me...and upon his death I gave the go ahead for him to be a donor. Had I not been there though.......well that is kind of what this blog is about. All of this thinking just standing there in Walmart. Think how deep I might have gone had I been in a library. But I digress.

So today....I like (love) donors. We all know that all we have to do is sign the back of our drivers license and upon our death...if our organs are viable.....we can be donors. What does it mean to be a donor? It can mean a second chance at life  for someone or at the very least....a chance at a better life for someone. Whether it means a compatible heart or liver, or cornea's, bone or skin, these are all life changing donations for someone in need. And what does it mean for the organs to be viable? It means that major organs such as heart, liver, lungs, kidney's etc......have to be harvested while they are still living and healthy. Often the donor is put on or kept on life support until said organs have been removed. Other donations such as skin, bone and cornea's can be removed and used within a certain amount of time after death.

It is obvious what use the major organs can be to someone. They can literally save a life and add years that someone might not have had otherwise. Other donations though such as bone, cornea and skin might not be life saving but could definitely be life altering such as helping someone to see again, walk or move properly or start repairing damage from a burn or accident. In a certain way...the donor literally continues to live on through others. What an amazing gift.

In our situation, Tim had not signed his drivers license. I have no idea why, but he had said on more than one occasion that he wanted to be a donor. I knew those were his wishes. When I came home to find Tim, he had been gone for several hours. The major organs were no longer viable and so I assumed his being a donor was out of the question. When the coroner finally came though....they asked me if he was a donor. I said yes but I had no idea he had at that point....anything donatable. I was wrong. We donated skin, bone and his corneas. In a felt as if Tim had done so much for so many in life.....and now....even in death he would continue to help others. It was one of the few things that helped me to survive the nightmare of losing him.

On the day of Tim's funeral after everyone had left....I got a call. It was a young woman whom I only casually knew, but she knew of Tim's death. She had ties to the local organ bank and although she was not suppose to tell me....she let me know that Tim's cornea's had been transplanted that day into a man....just about Tim's age.....who would now be able to see thanks to Tim. I cried! My beautiful, wonderful husband was living on and continuing to help others. It was amazing and helped to make one of the worst days of my life...just a little better.

Blessedly, I nor my family has never needed any sort of organ donations.....although David and I both went through blood like a couple of vampires after he was born. I hope though...if the need ever does arrive, someone as caring and wonderful as my Tim has either singed their drivers license or made their wishes known loud and clear, so through may continue for others. If you have any questions....or would simply like to know more about organ donation head on over to Organ Donation America and learn what donation can mean for both you and others.

So there you have it. Today....I like organ donation and now you know a little more about the really scary inner workings of my mind. Hope you have a great day and Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

160 Acres...and Me

Here we go again. It is Wednesday and I am struggling. What to say about me????? I thought I would share with you a place that holds me so tightly and to this day I can tear up thinking about it. I actually had put this place to the back of my mind until the other day when one of my cousins brought it up. I immediately went back to a time and a place which in it's own way....was integral in making me who I am today.

The family which I come from is different in many ways. My mother was the youngest of eleven children and her family grew up dirt poor post WWI through the 1950's. During that time, the world changed immensely but some things never changed and one of those was their home. They lived on 160 acres of dry, red Oklahoma clay. The house had started out as part of a log cabin and as the years went on and the family grew, additions were put on. In it's final stages, the house had a large kitchen, a small enclosed back porch, one (1) small bathroom with only a shower, sink and toilet, a living room and three bedrooms. There were little coal heaters and no air conditioning what so ever. In the winter the house was so poorly insulated that ice formed on the inside of the windows and the wind blew through the unsealed cracks. In the summer windows were open leaving the house prey to Oklahoma insects (centipedes, scorpions, assorted spiders and other flying beasts) and the ever present Oklahoma red dirt dust that flew every time the wind blew. Through all it's constructional frailties....this house was a fortress and held this family together sending each of the children out into the world with either a college degree, military service, marriage or all the above. In those walls the family was a tightly knit unit....but because of their upbringing or maybe the desire to get beyond those 160 acres there was no reuniting for holidays, birthdays and not a lot of reunions when I was growing up. all our minds, that plot of land with the little house, barn and run down out buildings was a connection we all had.

I remember as a very young child making the trip from Kansas to Oklahoma was exciting for me. It meant climbing in my aunt's teal Pontiac station wagon (she also lived in Kansas) with my mom, brother and cousins and making the 2 1/2 drive to visit my grandpa. (My grandmother sadly died when I was two). The trip always took much longer than the 2 1/2 hours as we stopped at Nickerson Farms for breakfast and spent lots of time looking at their bees which they kept and then of course milling through the gift shop was a must. Once on the road again....there were always bathroom breaks (hello...they were traveling with at least 4 kids at any given time). This was always so exciting and fun for me. Once we got there though.....there was always avoiding Grandpa's dogs (Bruno or King or whichever dog was currently residing with him). None of his dogs ever seemed to like kids so we had to be cautious. Then we would spend time in the old house freezing or suffocating (depending on the time of year), nosing through old pictures, snooping in drawers and entertaining our selves in the back bedroom while the adults laughed and visited in the kitchen.

It was always a thrill for us kids and regardless where in line as a grand kid you remember.... Grandpa going out to call his cows in from the pasture to eat. Grandpa would yell "Boss...Boss!" and the cows would come running. The barn they came home to was a huge old thing that "I" was never allowed to go near because of creaky boards, snakes and assorted other possible horrors that my mother was sure lurked there, but my older cousins that were more farm savvy than myself loved the place. Man how I longed for just one afternoon sitting in the barn loft looking out over the farm. In my mind....I would have even braved the snakes.

Even on the hottest afternoons, sitting out under the huge trees that grew in Grandpa's could always find a breeze and many was the time we all shared that yard. Again....Mom was not too trusting of us kids being allowed to roam freely on the vast acres that constantly beckoned us to come explore. Her cautionary nature did not see kids running and playing in the saw a road (though not busy) in one direction, a canyon in another and Grandpa's bull in yet another. Mixed in were farm vermin right and left which about put Mom over the edge as her father and siblings ribbed her over her extreme caution. At the time I felt suffocated but now....doing it by myself and being solely responsible for the young lives God entrusted me with.....I sort of understand Mom's phobias a bit better.

As I grew older, my Aunt Margaret moved out to the house to help take care of Grandpa and to be in the one place she loved more than life itself. Going to the house then was much more pleasant. Aunt Margaret redid part of the house, the furniture was more comfortable and the bathroom no longer creeped me out. By this time the dogs were friendlier and it seemed that either we came to the farm more or the rest of the family did.... as it was the place to get together and hang with cousins I rarely got to see and get to know aunts and uncles who until now were just names. It also seemed that the older I got the longer our visits were. I think it was quite possibly Mom's realization that "home" really was where the heart was at and that her fathers life was winding down. It was at this time that I became so in tune to the house and the farm. Many an afternoon I spent sitting in the front yard at the picnic table writing. I tried to imagine the farm alive with kids and animals. In my mind I pictured the garden, the pig pens and the lilac bushes that Mom always talked about. I also thought of my Grandpa when we weren't all there.....sitting in the front yard waiting for the dirt to roll up on the old dirt road signaling a visitor or just a passerby. Was he lonely or was he content with the memories of his life?

I also spent a great deal of time trying to imagine the grandmother that I never got to know. My older cousins would talk of her and I sat jealously by listening to their stories wishing I had seen this woman, touched her over worked hand or heard her gentle laugh. My mother spoke of her mother is the most wonderful way and from time to time would break down in tears missing her and wishing that she still had her mama to turn to. Again....I understand this far better than I wish I did. One evening I wrote an amazing story (amazing to me anyway) sitting in that old farm kitchen and trying to imagine that little lady (she was 4'11") bustling about and taking care of her family. The story was about her, seeing only me and her perception of who I turned out to be. At the time I was still in my late teens and had yet to really become anyone....but I knew in her eyes....if she had been there.....I would have been special....just like all her other grand kids.

As I became a young adult....the farm became my refuge. My grandfather died on my 21st birthday, but my dear aunt stayed there keeping the place comfortable and welcoming for all who wished to visit. Often I would just get in the car and drive. In a strange sort of way....even though I had never lived was home to me. The barn was now gone as a tornado had damaged it beyond repair along with many other buildings. Also gone was the bull. I was well aware of the canyon and the I was now free to roam those acres that had once been forbidden to me. I would walk that farm and the pasture knowing that not one spot of ground was foreign to me, for at some point my mother, her siblings, my grandparents and assorted other relatives and trodden every inch of that land. It was a part of me....but what was was a part of all of us. Every Dougherty/Etier that came from the union of Ray and Grace was a part of us, and it was an amazing feeling. It was ours!

Later....Aunt Margaret began to go down hill and she could no longer live on her own. My mom and aunt brought her to Kansas and the farm lay empty. The house though checked on by other local relatives regularly could easily fall prey to anyone who knew the family situation. It was decided that the farm would be sold and the house and its contents auctioned off. When I heard this.....I cried. My husband had no idea why a piece of property could hold such emotion....especially one where I had only visited but never lived. He had no idea that the house and the farm held so much of who I am and where I came from. He didn't understand the bond I had with the house, the land and the memories. It was one of the most overwhelming feelings I had ever had to that point.

The day of the auction....we were all invited. We could bid on anything we wanted. Tim offered to take me, but I couldn't. I hadn't been there since Aunt Margaret was there....and I couldn't go back and see the house empty. I preferred to keep my memories in tact. From what I understand....many of my cousins felt the same.

After the auction....the new owners eventually raised the house (a landmark since the early 1900's) and put a new home on the land. The 160 acres were also a thing of the past as the land had been sold off in parcels. I am is just a little house on a little piece of the country. In just a short period of time....all signs of the Dougherty place were gone. I have no first hand knowledge of any of this as I have not been back since 1994. I have though talked to my cousins about the farm. Their memories, like mine are a mix of Grandpa standing in the yard and calling the cows, the dinners around the kitchen table, the summer afternoons in the yard and the knowledge that we would always have that farm......until we didn't. 

Yes....this place was special to me. It was a part of me and I have unimaginable sorrow that my own children will never know the place. It was a blessing though to have such special times with family and to be so connected with so many to a little 160 acre farm in the red dirt of Oklahoma. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything....and know a little more about me!

Hope you have a wonderful and memorable Wednesday. Happy Wednesday everyone!!!