Friday, December 27, 2013

Genetics: We pass it all down. The good, the bad and the ugly!

From the beginning, when our offspring are still growing and kicking on the inside, we wonder...who will she look like? Will he have his dad's big hands and feet? His grandpa's red hair? This new one entering the gene pool will carry traits from ancestors, many of whom they will never meet. 

The majority of what our children become is most closely linked to momma and daddy. My 18 year old Rebecca, is almost a clone of me. It's been like that since she was born. I produced a mini-me. Actually, there's not much of her dad in her at all. She's an Underwood through and through. Not only does she resemble me, but her talents, traits and hobbies are mine as well. She's a hair twirler. All of my dad's sisters did that. Eight of them, I think. I never had that habit, but all of my Underwood aunts did. Rebecca never knew any of them. They are scattered all over, so she has never been around them. She winds a little hair around her index finger and pulls it along the hair. It's a coping mechanism. She says it's either that or picking her cuticles. That would be from me as well. 

My dad was a thumb twiddler. He rolled his thumbs around and around each other, probably not even realizing he was doing it sometimes. When James was little I looked over at him in church, and there he sat, twiddling his thumbs. My dad died when James was two. I asked him if he had ever seen anyone do that and he said no. He just liked doing it. 

Both of my daughters have my love of music and singing. They can carry a tune and love many different genres. The Chaffins are singers too, so I should be fair and not take all the credit there. James, however, was not blessed with the gift of music and song.

Then there's the "bad" stuff they get from us. Rachel and James had wisdom teeth that tried to come in sideways. The top of the tooth would have poked out the side of their gums, if there was enough room for them, which of course, there was not. Narrow jawbones. Underwoods have strong genes. Apparently, ingrown toenails are very hereditary. Rebecca has yet to thank me for that. 

James has my dad's height, my long neck, and more of his dad's personality traits than mine. He likes working with his hands like his dad and both Grandpas. Like them he doesn't care much for academics and only likes school for the fellowship. 

If you want to know what a girl is going to look like in twenty or thirty years, usually, just look at her mom. Sure there are lots of girls who more closely resemble their dads and boys who are more like their moms. Sometimes a girl looks more like her aunt than her mom. Genetics are strange. They skip around the generations landing on whichever newbie they chose. 

We pass it all along. The good. The bad. The ugly. Not just genetics determine our offspring's appearance and behavior, but our homes and lifestyle. They learn what they live and are probably going to repeat it as adults. For better or worse, most kids end up with a marriage similar to the one their parents had. They learn about work ethics and morals. Or they learn to be lazy, believing they are entitled and live off hand outs. It's nice to know there are some things we can control. Can't do much about body type, eye color, height or how straight teeth come in. But we can try and help them grow into responsible adults who aren't a burden to society. Hopefully, we can do that in spite of however the genes collide. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

(Car) Accidents Happen

On this early Christmas Eve morning, I'm wide awake. Occasionally, I wake up at 3 or 4 and it's just time to get up. No going back to sleep. My body would be happy to stay warm and wrapped in a cocoon of blankets, but my mind is at a Nascar race. 

This year I didn't buy as much as I usually do for my kids. It's just stuff and they already have plenty of that. I'm trying to follow Dave Ramsey's philosophy about going in debt. I doubt if I'll ever do his envelope-thing, but he's right on the money about credit card debt. It's a pit that's difficult to claw your way out of. 

After Christmas last year Rebecca and Rachel took and old coffee can and wrote on it, "I was happy when...." We took little pieces of paper all year long and added them to the happy can. It's full now. They reminded me often to write something that I'm happy about. We decided to read them all after we open gifts. Each one will spark a sweet, happy memory. Something that makes you smile is worth writing down and remembering. I'm looking forward to that as much as the gifts. I added dozens of little scrap papers to the happy can, but the one dearest to my heart was written just a few days ago. I am SOOOO happy that Rachel was not hurt in a car accident. 

We finally got her car up and running. The car that we thought needed a few repairs was actually a fixer-upper. Saturday, the combination of a sharp curve and going downhill on wet pavement resulted in a crash. She spun out, crossing lanes and hit a guard rail. As traumatic as it was, it was relatively minor as far as car accidents go. It all happens in a second. A second that can change a life or end a life. Okay, I won't go there. We covered that on the last blog. If there had been oncoming traffic, it would have ended much worse. If there hadn't been a guard rail it would have ended much worse. I'm so thankful for the nice lady who stayed with Rachel til Cliff got there. I wish I knew who she was so I could hug her. She was with my girl when I couldn't be. She comforted and calmed a shaken and scared teenager. She is my Christmas Angel. Cliff beat the police there and miraculously did not cause another accident by speeding and wreckless driving. I suspect he may have taken out a couple mail  boxes or taken a short cut through someone's yard, but he hasn't fessed up to that yet. The car has front end damage and Rachel is sore, but both will recover. A car is just a thing. People are more important than things, according to the other financial guru Suze Orman. She is 100% correct. Cars can be replaced. People can't. 

So on this morning, I'm thankful to have Rachel well and unscathed. I'm blessed to have a home and family. I'm beyond blessed to have presents waiting under the tree for tomorrow morning. 

Reminder from Dave Ramsey: Avoid credit card debt at all costs. 
Reminder from Suze Orman: People are more important than things. Reminder from Debbie Chaffin: Be thankful. Be blessed. Make yourself a happy-can and open it next Christmas! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

On Death and Dying....

Death does not care who you are. It does not care if you are rich, poor, happy, sad, black, white, straight, gay, young, old, fat or skinny. It does not care about your religious views or social status. One day, this old world will still be spinning and I won't be here. There is no more humbling thought. I am mortal.

I wonder if my death will be peaceful and a relief after a long illness or sudden and shocking. Will I ever sit in a doctor's office and hear, "Get your affairs in order," or will a drunk driver take me out on the way to Kroger? Sudden deaths are harder to cope with. The shock value changes everything. 

I hope I never have to live one day on this planet without my kids here. Parents who have buried children are a special kind of brave and strong. I just don't want to ever have to be that brave and strong. 

I can't go to a funeral without looking around and thinking, "Who's next?" I also can't go to a funeral without bawling, no matter how close I am to the one who died or their family. It's just heart wrenching to see a wife stand over her husband or a dad touch is son's cheek as his tears fall on the boy's shirt. I never know what to say to the family. No need to even say, "I'm sorry." They've already heard it a hundred times. Usually, I just hug and say nothing. I hope that's okay. Sometimes words can hurt more than heal, even with the best intentions. 

I hope I never live to be a burden to my kids. I never want to live in a nursing home. I don't want to have a poor quality of life. I don't want to lose my memory and mind to alzheimers. If I can't move, am blind or deaf, if I can't enjoy my friends and family because I don't know them anymore, then I'd like to bid this world a fond farewell and go sing with Jesus. 

I've never been with anyone right when they died, but I have been with people shortly before. I find it fascinating that they see things! If they can talk, they might say they see angels, or people who have gone on before. My grandma saw golden stairs with angels. She said they were there to help her walk up the stairs. At the top was a door. She would reach her hand out like she was trying to grab something. I asked what she was doing and she said, "Trying to open the door." My dad had a premonition of his impending death. Something in his soul told him he would not live much longer. He did a few things, out of the ordinary, that now make sense as something he wanted to do before he died. 

God didn't make our bodies to last long. Just as a fog or mist. We are here, then we are gone. I hope when I'm gone I will leave a legacy of love and compassion. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

These Terrible, Wonderful Teenage Years

How exactly I went from having two toddlers and a baby, to having three teenagers still baffles me. This transition seems to have happened overnight and I slept through it. I vaguely remember that teething is the pits, diapers and formula are expensive, (but not even comparable to feeding three teens) and trying to juggle my work schedule with Cliff's so we didn't have to pay day care. Mostly I remember that holding my baby next to my heart was the sweetest feeling in the world. 

Every stage from birth up until now has had it's own rewards and challenges. I really enjoyed having little ones. Watching them grow and learn gave me great pleasure. Now they are nearly grown and don't need me so much. Having a crying baby was easier to cope with than a crying teenager, I just didn't know it then. Now the "terrible twos" don't seem so terrible at all.

If you are a parent who doesn't handle minor issues like vomit on your clothes or tantrums in the toy aisle you will not survive the teenage years. They are not for sissies. You will collapse on the floor in the fetal position and beg to be medicated for the next seven years. 

Learning how to navigate these in-between childhood and adult years are tricky. The relationship takes on a new dynamic. You have to figure it out as you go. 

You have to deal with such joys like finding cheap, reliable cars for them. No easy task there. We got lucky once, with Rebecca's car. Rachel's has been more difficult. We are still working on getting her behind the wheel. 

Then come the broken hearts. I must have some super natural maternal instinct there, because I know immediately whether the guy is good news or bad news. Even before I meet him, if I've heard the girls talk about him, I know. And yes. I have said the dreaded, "I told you so," a time or two. 

Feeding three teenagers is just a lost cause. They can plow through a pantry faster than greased lightning. There are at least a dozen other expenses that were nonexistent when I was a teen. When they started wanting me to buy iTunes cards I asked why they couldn't just download music illegally off the internet like everyone else.  Pathetic, I know. They said they had tried, but it gave the computer a virus. Great. There are iTunes, iPads, iPhones, iPods, all these gadgets come out with new versions every six months.  I'm convinced it's only because parents buy them for their spoiled, rich kids. It's not nice because kids like mine want all the new stuff too, but I can't afford to feed them and keep them updated with the newest iToy.

There are plenty of proud moments as a mom of teenagers. It's really not all bad. When they graduate with honors and get a full scholarship, it doesn't get any better than that! Except for maybe when they took their first steps. Yesterday....

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Dream Job As A Writer Has Escaped Me Thus Far

I've spent the better part of this weekend writing. I helped both Rebecca and Rachel write papers for school and this is my second blog. 

 Rebecca's writing professor at Tech seems to love my work, which makes me proud. Rebecca and I make a good team, cranking out papers. This teacher won't give a perfect score, (not cool) but I have made 19 or 19.5 out of 20 every time. I mean Rebecca has. ;)  The only problem is I don't know how to use references very well. I don't like research papers. You have to document where you get every fact. Last night, Rebecca pointed out a couple sentences in a paragraph I'd written and asked me to "cite the reference". How annoying is that? She was not happy when I told her Wikipedia for one, and the other I heard on tv a long time ago. I like to write about non-issues. I can't be burdened with a real responsibility like writing about something of utmost importance. I'd mess it up. 

I really wanted to apply at the Herald-Citizen a few months ago when Mary Jo Denton retired. Her front page articles were always about who got busted for drunk driving or drugs. I can go through the police log and come up with a story, easy! Unfortunately, since she left, the front page stories have gotten even worse. Someone stole Pop-Tarts. Someone got robbed by a guy in a Halloween costume. It's absurd. They need me to write about what's really happening in Cookeville. I can do it, as long as I don't have to cite references. Buddy Pearson is the editor. Somebody put a bug in his ear and tell him he needs to talk to Debbie, the cafeteria lady at the hospital. I'd be happy with a weekly column. He can pick the topic. My dream job would be to sit at a keyboard for eight or nine hours a day. It's my way of being creative. I'm not very artsy. I can sing, but at my age, making a living at that is a lost cause. So I just need Buddy to give a girl a chance, who doesn't have a degree in Journalism. I am good with sarcasm and expressing my opinion or feelings which may or may not be very logical. 

If anyone knows someone at the Herald-Citizen have them look me up and I will hook them up with a new, exciting writer! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Day In The Life Of The Hospital Cafeteria

I see and hear more than you think. What happens upstairs tends to make it's way down to the cafeteria. I see tears, smiles, hugs, bad tempers and thankfully, mostly kindness that had it's beginning on the floors above the cafeteria. 

I want the employees and families to like me. I want to connect with them, and usually I can. I have a couple secret weapons to ensure that I am considered the "nice cafeteria lady." Occasionally, I bring a bag of candy. Hershey's Kisses are the favorites. I pass them out, sometimes sneaking them into boxes of food without my customer knowing, but usually I hand it to them and say something clever about giving Kisses to all the boys at work. It's nice to make them smile. They don't forget that they got a treat from me and are not shy about asking for another one next time. 

I encounter a diverse group of people every day. The doctor who is too good to say "thank you" or look me in the eye, to the homeless person who doesn't have enough money to eat. Sometimes family members of patients are there for days at a time without a change of clothes. I can't help but feel for them. It's exhausting to be with a loved one in the hospital day after day, sometimes week after week. They deserve a Kiss. 

Every day, someone wants to purchase food for the coworker with them in line. A little spat ensues. "No, you don't have to." "Don't listen to him." "I'm buying!" Sometimes I butt in and say, "Just say 'thank you' and pay it forward." Seriously, there are people behind you on lunch who don't want to stand there while you argue about who is paying for your salad and Snickers. 

People must think I actually care about what they eat or who is going to eat it. They like to say things like, "This isn't all for me," or they get bread, mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes and noodles and tell me they need some carbs. I smile and say, "I don't judge." "Whatever gets you through this day." Really, I don't care. I only care that you don't fuss at me about the price you have to pay or the poor choice of food. I've made suggestions to the higher-ups and you can see how interested they are in my ideas. 

I wish we could stagger the lunch hour better. I know most employees don't get a choice when they can escape and sneak down for some chow. It's not fun to spend half of your half hour break standing in line to get your food and then another line to pay. No matter how fast I work the computer, there is going to be a lady who has to dig through her purse the size of a suitcase to find her wallet. She will finally produce some cash, then mention that she has the change in here somewhere. I say, "It's ok, I have that." My register never balances to the penny because of it. I throw in a few quarters and hope I get close to what I let people get away with. 

There is food, drama, love, heartache. The cafe has it all. I like being part of it. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Who Needs A Mall When You Have Goodwill?

When we moved to Cookeville four years ago, my daughters suffered from mall withdrawal. They loved Briarwood in Ann Arbor. I only liked it for the Dollar Show, which didn't last long there, and Olga's. (best restaurant in the world) It's a good place to walk around and feel like you got some exercise while window shopping. That's almost all I ever did at the mall. Overpriced specialty shops with sales people lurking over your shoulder asking if they can help, just annoys me. I'm much more comfortable at the Cookeville Goodwill.

The best Goodwill shopping experience includes using the restroom before you get there and not being in a hurry.  The restroom is dirtier and smellier than the worst gas station restroom you've ever been in. Unfortunately, I drink a lot of coffee and water, so I usually have to visit the cesspool. I try not to breathe and hope the toilet has enough water pressure to flush. Sometimes it doesn't. You need plenty of time to rummage through the racks, keeping an eye out for the half price items, which are color coded and change weekly, or stuff with store tags still on them. That's when you hit the jackpot. If the shirt you like has the right color tag, plus still has the original store tag on it, then you basically won the Lotto. 

Some items are overpriced. Purses are $5.99 and up. The kitchen items, like plastic containers are too high. Most of them should be a quarter or fifty cents. A dollar for what is basically a butter bowl is too high. The furniture in the back room is way overpriced. I think they assume people will wait for the first Saturday of the month, when the whole store is half off, to buy the furniture. That day is only for the seasoned, brave, bargain shoppers who don't mind kids screaming and running around, people blocking aisles and waiting in a long line to check out. I bought a quilt rack on that day that was marked $12.00 so I paid $6.00. It's sturdy, not scuffed up and looks great. The original price was probably at least $40.00.

I only like to purchase clothes that are half off, but good luck finding the right color tags. Yesterday the color was yellow. Jeans are regularly $7.49. The only jeans I saw with yellow tags were elastic waist or so worn out nobody will pay $3.75 for them. I actually bought a sweater for myself and paid the full $5.99. It just looked like me. It fit well and I splurged. I thought about putting it up for Christmas, but it's already washed and hanging in my closet. I also got an unopened box of Christmas cards. The price on the back of the box was $14.95. I paid $2.00.

I like that Goodwill employs people who would otherwise not have jobs. They are actually nice folks too. There's the little lady who you hear before you see. She's loud, but I don't mind because she's happy and talking to everyone. There's the man in the wheelchair who sits at the front door. I've never seen him actually work, but if they want to pay him to sit at the door and smile, then I'm good with that. I had never seen the sweet girl who checked me out yesterday. She started talking about her babies, when she saw I had a few newborn outfits. Somehow we got on the breast vs. bottle topic. Hmmm. There's a special needs girl who walks around fiddling with clothes on the racks and she knows every word to every song. (They do play good music in there.) She sings loud and surprisingly well! 

Once you leave with your treasures, you kind of need a shower, or hand sanitizer at the very least. It's worth it though. Why pay full retail price, when you can get something comparable for a fraction of that cost? And you've helped some good people stay employed. 

The girls can go to Nashville and be mall rats. I'm going to stay right here in Cookeville at Goodwill. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Facebook: It's a Love/Hate Thing

The Facebook phenomenon has been in a constant state of change since it's beginning in 2004. Mark Zuckerburg and a few friends (most of whom went on to sue him) started it in a Harvard dorm room as a way for students to connect. Other colleges jumped on the band wagon. It blew Myspace into cyber-oblivion. The younger generation ruled it for a couple years. Then the older folks showed up. Suddenly, their parents, aunts, uncles, even grandparents were privy to their pics and posts. They split and went on to Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Snapchat where the privacy is better. They may check in a couple times a month, but fb is mostly used by the moms and dads of the kids who started it. 

When the teens left and parents took over, the annoying ads started popping up. Adults spend most of the money, so advertisers were quick to hit the fb market. They are not only in the margins but right there in with the newsfeed. SPAM! Dr. Oz has to say at the end of every show that he does not put ads on fb. They are fake. People stick his picture up to hawk their weight loss products or anything else health related. I get a few a day from Oprah's Secret Fatbuster. Something about, "Oprah's embarrassing weight loss secret." Looking at her most recent shows on OWN, I find it hard to believe she has lost a substantial amount. Even if she has, why would she be embarrassed? 

The drama on fb seems to have leveled off, now that the teens have moved on. I have a few friends that still need to grow up. I still get the occasional duck face, which I loathe. I've unfriended some that just got too ridiculous. You know, apologizing to their spouse for the fight they had. Really? I don't need to know this. No one needs to hear this except your spouse. Some people haven't learned that not everything is appropriate to share on fb. Don't put everything out there. Why would you share something stupid that you did? When I do something idiotic I'd rather no one knew.  Save the drama for your mama. 

Debates on fb are never a good thing. You are not going to change anyone's mind about whatever cause you are for or against. Seems like that is most of the drama now, at least with my friends. The written word is largely ineffective in debates. You just end up ticking people off. 

I don't care much about seeing a picture of your dinner plate at Chili's. I don't care about Farmville or any other ville. I don't like attention seekers. I don't want to know your personal marital issues. I don't like when fb changes the layout and you have to figure it all out again. In spite of what I don't like about fb, I actually LIKE it more than I dislike it, or I'd do like so many others have and take my page down and be gone.

I like seeing pictures of babies and kids. I like pics of vacations, scenery, families together, and special events. I like keeping up with friends and family. It's a quick, easy way to communicate. There are several pages that I've "liked" that I really do like and have learned from. I can keep up with what's happening at the kids schools, the local news and weather and events around town.  

Thanks, Zuckerburg and all the other kids who got fb up and running. It's nice that the teens finally gave their parents something besides debt, eyeball rolling or sarcasm. 

And kids, just because you aren't on fb, doesn't mean we aren't stalking you. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Surprise! It's A Blessing!

People have always given my mom stuff. I'm not just talking about a bag of old clothes. I mean furniture and appliances, things with value. Nearly every time I talk to her she says how so-and-so gave her this-or-that. It's remarkable to me. She does pass along some of what she gets, so I've received a few treasures from her. 

I have a friend, Audrey, who has a heart for the homeless. It doesn't matter to her if they are on the streets because they are a drug addict, a drunk, or lost everything when the company they worked for went belly up. She feeds them in soup kitchens, befriends them, prays with them and really tries to meet their needs. Her friends and church family knew that she walked the streets right along with the homeless. They started giving her stuff. Clothes, food, blankets, pillows, baby items, toiletries. They would tell her to give it to someone who needs it. She grew a sizable ministry in the Detroit area, just from donations that were given to her, to give to those who need it most. 

I have another friend, Jen. Not once, but several times, strangers have approached her and handed her money. She doesn't look needy. She has a job. Someone felt lead to bless her, so they did. 

For whatever reason, some people like mom and Audrey get lots of stuff given to them. Me, not so much. But occasionally, an unexpected blessing does come my way. Last Saturday a little church down the road had a Giveaway Day. Just come in the basement and take what you need. A free yard sale. It was a nice service to offer the community. I found a couple shirts and an umbrella. They had what they called big ticket items. A few chairs, tvs, an old computer, and there was a tan love seat with matching chair and ottoman. It looked new to me. You had to enter your name in a drawing for those. I really wanted that furniture and knew just where I'd put it. When I got home I told Cliff about the furniture and how it would be so neat if I won it. If you haven't guessed by now, I was the winner of the coveted tan love seat and chair. It is the most comfortable furniture in my house now. In fact, I have a hard time getting the teenagers out of that chair. The first time I sat in it, I fell asleep. I'm talking comfy-cozy.  

It seems to me that blessing like that are God's Favor. We all receive what we earn. We are given gifts at special times like birthdays and Christmas. If we get hitched or reproduce, we get gifts. But it just feels different when it is a total surprise. Unexpected blessings may be God's way of saying, "I'm still here." That could just be me, because I look for God everywhere and in everything, so to me it's a God-thing. 

I've had opportunity to give things to people that they didn't expect and I know they appreciated it and gladly accepted the blessing. I'm going to try and do that more often. Let's all try and pass along things we don't use or need. If it's in good shape, don't try and make a buck by selling it. Just give it away! Try it. Someone could have sold that furniture. They shared with me and for that, I am grateful. 

Of course, I have to close by saying, "It is more blessed to give than receive." Amen.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

2 Boys and A Bird In The House

Yesterday I spent the day grocery shopping, cooking, 
being entertained by a great guitar player and singer, and chasing a bird in the house.

The girls had their boyfriends come over for dinner. I made 2 pies, chicken casserole and rolls. No big deal except that it was 80 degrees yesterday, Oct. 30 for Pete's Sake! My oven is ratchet. Did I use that word right? Besides baking unevenly, bottom too hot, top not hot enough, it turns my whole house into an oven. Nice in the winter, not so much in the summer, or in October when it feels like August. 

Jared, Rachel's guy, has been over lots of times, and is just one of us. Rebecca's guy, Ross hadn't been over before. I'd met him once and threatened him as nicely as I could. This time I was for real nice. I decided I like him. He's musically talented and that scores him a big brownie point with me. He can play about any instrument he picks up. God doesn't give that gift to many people, so I figure he's special. Plus, he makes Rebecca happy and seems like a smart, nice, funny guy. He's allowed to come back. He was nice enough to entertain us. I got the camera out to take some pictures, but the batteries were dead. Yes, I still use a regular camera, not a cell phone camera.  How can I buy AA batteries by the dozen and never have one when I need them? I was going to try and figure out how to post pictures on here. I'm very challenged like that. I can do email and FB on a computer. I can even write a blog, but I can't post pictures yet. Something about a URL. I've asked Rebecca and Rachel to show me how to post them on FB but they just get irritated with me and do it themselves. Rebecca said she would show me how on here, but I doubt if she will have enough patience.

Early in the day, I heard a bird inside the flue of the wood stove. Poor thing fluttered around. Ginger went crazy clawing at the stove pipe and meowing really loud. She's not a normal cat who meows, so it was funny. Cliff and James took the flue apart. The bird hid in a little corner making it impossible to reach. Cliff had the bright idea to poke it with a screwdriver and the thing took off. We were all laughing, screaming, ducking and hoping we wouldn't get bird-pooped on. The sparrow flew the length of the house, round and round. I had a broom to try and shoo it out, but James jumped up and caught it. Now that was cool! 

So the day was a success. Even the sparrow got to have a happy ending. Ross is cool. James is now in charge of animal control. Dinner was good. Life is good. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What Makes You Beautiful?

A couple days ago I had this song in my head by the boy band One Direction, "What Makes You Beautiful?" I don't know all the words so I just sang the ones I knew and made up some of my own. A few lines are, 
"Everyone knows you are pretty but you." 
"Your smile is beautiful." 
"If only you saw what I can see." 
"You don't know o-o- you're beautiful."
"You don't need make up."

I appreciate those boys telling young girls that they are beautiful, because I know they don't believe it. How can they with the ridiculous standards society has made? So what does make a girl beautiful? Let's see how many ways I can say this....YOUR BEAUTY COMES FROM THE INSIDE!!! I'll try not to yell at you again, but no promises. 

I'd love to take credit for that saying, but it's actually in 1 Peter 3:3. "Beauty is not in hair, jewelry or clothes. Beauty comes from within you, a beautiful, quiet spirit. This beauty will never fade." 

Whether or not you believe the Bible, there are certain universal truths in it.
Your gonna die.
You are wonderfully made.
Things do not buy happiness. In fact, the more you give away, the happier you'll be. Weird, huh?
Do good and good will come to you.

We all know girls with perfect teeth, long, flowing hair, flawless make up any hour of the day or night and  size -2. They are blessed with good genetics, and probably a good hair stylist, who they pay outrageous amounts of money to. They probably go to the gym every day and eat an apple for breakfast and lettuce for lunch and dinner. But look back at that verse. Inner beauty does not fade. So guess what? Outer beauty does fade. Gravity is not kind to women. Your body will age and change. Pregnancy will be havoc on those tight abs. 

We don't even want to be pretty just to impress guys. We want to impress girls too! Who doesn't want to be the one that all the girls are jealous of? 

When I was a teenager my cousin Peggy and I always watched the Miss America Pageant. We would have a sleepover at her house, get in our robes and have snacks ready, so we wouldn't miss a minute. We would have pencils and paper in our laps. We took our jobs as judges very seriously. As we wrote down our Top 10, one of us asked Aunt Kay, "Who do you like?" Which of course, meant "Who do you think is prettiest?" I forget the state, but Peggy and I were not impressed with her choice and asked why. She said, "Because she's modest." My teenage self didn't know how to respond to that. Her dress had long sleeves and a high neck. It was still pretty and sparkly, but it was in fact, modest. I get it now! Aunt Kay was right. You don't need a plunging neckline. Cover it up, girls. You'll be respected and appreciated more. Besides, the guys you attract by dressing in revealing clothes are not the ones you want anyway. 

The most attractive thing on your body is your smile. Did you know if smile when you are depressed or sad, you'll trick your brain into thinking you are happy? Don't just smile with your mouth. Really light up the room by smiling with your eyes as well. When you smile, no one is looking at your waist. People will feel more at ease and consider you a friend if you flash your pearly whites. 

Be confident. Sometimes this is tough and you have to fake it, but confidence is attractive. Stand tall. Walk with purpose. Speak clearly, don't mumble. We all have insecurities or fears that can hold us back. Just like you can smile if you don't feel like it, you can also, DO IT SCARED. Doing anything out of your comfort zone is scary, but that's where you grow. Your self esteem will grow because you will have conquered something. Unless you want a life of mediocrity you will have to venture out, be brave and do what is difficult. 

You are beautiful when you speak positive, life affirming words. Don't give negative thoughts a voice. Don't put that out in the universe. I speak to dozens of people at work every day and I can tell you that the ones who are always grumpy are not fun. There they are every day, never smiling, hating their job and making sure you know it, complaining about everything, including the price of their sandwich, like I have anything to do with that. Not nice. Then there are people who are naturally happy and pleasant. Well, maybe not so naturally. Maybe they do have to work at it, but they make an effort to be positive and cheerful. Really try to make someone smile. Be a blessing. Give a compliment. It will make you beautiful. 

I hope I have successfully made my point. Your self worth is not defined by your body. Your beauty comes from your attitude, your smile, your spirit, the tone of your voice, being kind to others. Be the best you, you can be. One Direction is right, You are beautiful. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

No Justice for JonBenet

As mentioned in my first blog I have a real problem with unsolved murders.  JonBenet's is unsettling for so many reasons. 

The 6 year old daughter of John and Patsy Ramsey of Boulder, CO died from strangulation and blunt force trauma Dec 26, 1996. The family was affluent. The media went nuts. Their reporting was mostly speculation and half truths. They were quick to point fingers at John and Patsy. Even 9 year old brother Burke was a suspect, at least by the tabloids. Patsy did it because JonBenet wet the bed! No, John did it because he sexually abused her and thought she would tell. No. Burke did it because he was jealous of her. Each accusation more absurd than the one before but we still followed the reports, as pitifully inaccurate as they were. 

The child was pretty, without the garish wigs, makeup and $500 pageant dresses. In K Mart pajamas with wet hair, she was pretty. What went so terribly wrong is still an unsolved mystery. I'm finding it hard to write about it in a sensible way because it just didn't make any sense. 

For starters, the ransom note didn't make sense. If you write a ransom note, you take the kid and hold her til you get the dough. One theory is that it was in fact, a kidnapping gone wrong. The writer demanded $118,000, the amount of a bonus John received that year. Logically, that should narrow the suspects down to a small circle of people who knew that. 

The investigation didn't make sense. This was the only murder in Boulder that year. They weren't experienced in handling much crime at all, let alone one this heinous. They could write traffic tickets and scold teenagers for smoking weed, but this was way out of their league. They should have called in some Detroit homicide investigators. Maybe then they would have had a chance of solving it. 

The crime scene was compromised. It wasn't sealed off for several hours after the first responders arrived. Friends and family of the Ramsey's were in and out of the house. John and two of his friends found JonBenet in a little storage room in the basement.  Of course, they touched her and picked her up, further botching up the scene and forensic evidence. She was duct taped and strangled with items that were not in the Ramsey house. She was wrapped in her own little white blanket. You can't think of the case without imagining the sheer horror the child experienced. Whoever killed her looked in her eyes and saw terror. 

John and Patsy were exonerated when their DNA suggested they were not involved. 

On Oct. 25, 2013 previously sealed documents were opened indicating that a grand jury voted to indict John and Patsy in the murder on charges of child abuse resulting in death and being an accessory to crime. The D.A. dropped it. That is a very uncommon occurrence. Was it because the D.A. was a family friend? Was it because they had money and paid someone off? 

Patsy died of ovarian cancer in 2006. Maybe she has been reunited with the daughter who captivated a nation. Has she apologized to JonBenet? Can you imagine, your child murdered in your home, on your watch? And you didn't protect her? How could you live with yourself? I would cry and hug the child and say, "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you when you needed me," at least ten thousand times. "I should have saved you or died trying."

This murder will probably go unsolved forever. I hate that. I hate that a killer got away with murdering a child in her own home. Maybe he is dead by now and in his own personal hell. Or is he still walking around with a terrible secret from 17 years ago? Somebody knows something!  It is a shame that still there is no justice for JonBenet. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Men In My Life

I'm not talking about my husband or brother. I'm talking about random men that the universe plants in your own little world, in it's own time. Usually people come into our lives to teach us a lesson. Sometimes it's about love or compassion. Sometimes it's about anger or hurt. Right now there are several men in my life who are here for a reason. I'm still learning from them. I'm not going to use real names here.

Spiritual Giants: There are a few. Some of them write articles or blogs online. I hang onto every word. I like learning from anyone, but when they are older, wiser, and spiritually mature it's natural for me to be drawn to them. The ones that I know and see encourage me to be the best person I can be. I like that. I want to be more like them, because they are so much like Christ. You can't go wrong there. 

Brothers: "Ray" and I speak at work nearly every day. It's always briefly, but in those moments we have learned that our pasts are so similar, it's uncanny. I'm a couple years older than him. We were born in the same hospital in Gary, IN. We went to the same high school in Lake Station, IN. We didn't know each other then. We both lived in the Ann Arbor, MI area at the same time. Now, we not only both live in Cookeville, we work at the hospital together. He asks me a lot of questions starting with "Have you ever..." been to Mackinac? Of course, what Michigander hasn't? We talk about the hotels, horses, tours, and restaurants. Next day. "Have you ever been to the Big House?" If you are familiar with MI you know he is not referring to the slammer. Even the other guys around us get in on that and say they'd love to go there someday. They haven't been. Ray and I have. Recently, he said to me, and anyone else who would listen, that we have the same eyes. I said he must be my brother from another mother. He said, in all seriousness, "I consider you a sister." 

Dr. P: Good guy. Smart guy. Chain smoker. He's the doc who gives me free medical advice. Please no comments about how that's unethical and illegal. Not interested. He takes smoke breaks illegally (see, he doesn't care either) on the loading dock at the hospital. I walk over and ask him questions about anything from dog bites to migraines. If I thought I was being a pest, I'd stop, but I think he enjoys chatting. He has even come looking for me to ask another question, (You ask a doctor one, they respond with twenty!) or tell me something else he thought of that may be helpful. Good guy. 

Jay: I trust him implicitly. He has been my sounding board a million times on dozens of issues. Occasionally, he may offer advice, but usually he just listens. I appreciate that because it is a lost art. Finally, a man who doesn't try to one-up all the time. ie: "You think that is bad? One time I...." He doesn't try to "fix it" like most guys. He knows it's my struggle. I have to figure it out on my own, but it is nice to have him to listen to me vent. I'm sure he has thought, "Deb, I really don't need to know this," but has been kind, and never said it. 

 One guy carries a little torch for me. There I said it. Don't spread vicious rumors. It's perfectly harmless. I'm an old married lady, so it's kind of an ego boost when a guy thinks I'm swell. 

The Father Figure: Not only old enough to be my father, but demands respect. He lets me know when I screwed up, and doesn't bother to be kind and gentle about it. Just basically, "You really screwed that up, kid." Old folks have already lived through what us "kids" are just now getting around to learning. Recently, at the barber shop, a bunch of us were talking about raising kids, having teenagers, wanting to be their buddies but knowing we really have to be parents. An old gentleman getting his haircut sat there smiling the entire time. He never piped up. He's been there, done that, been around that mountain. He knows. He knows. 

I'm blessed to have such great men in my life. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Birthin Babies

Yesterday I saw the newborn baby of friends from work. I call her Papoose because she was breach, sitting on her bottom, arms and legs crossed like a little Indian. She even has Indian roots. I wanted to hold her but she had a couple minor issues. I'll get my hands on her soon though.

Didn't I just have one, tiny and precious like Papoose? Almost fifteen years since the son came along and completed my family. Memories of pregnancy and childbirth came rushing back. Let's see what I can write that is suitable for this forum. I only have about four readers, but still I'll try and not say anything too obscene or grossly detailed.

My pregnancies were a breeze. Labors were all long and difficult lasting at least 24 hours. Deliveries were incredibly easy thanks to big old child bearing hips. I wasn't good at dilating, but how many women have actually given birth without pushing? They just crawled out on their own.

I had great experiences with doctors and nurses. There was the nurse who told me nicely several times not to dig my nails into her hand. After Rebecca was born the nurse, walked me to the toilet, stood in front of me and while peeing I grabbed her skinny waist and pulled her close. I buried my face in her tummy and started bawling. I thanked her for being so patient with me. I chalk it up to hormones. There was the doctor who had to keep assuring me everything was fine, when I kept insisting something is terribly wrong because, "I don't think it's supposed to hurt this much." With Rachel, the nurse who had been with me for her twelve hour shift, stayed late, when I told her I was really close and wanted her to be there with me. Lots of great people supported me.

Number 1 was supposed to be a boy. We never could tell from an ultrasound, but the doctor told me all along that the heartbeat sounded like a boy. So much for that scientific method. Cliff and I didn't even agree on a girl's name, although we knew we needed one, "just in case." I wanted Sarah. He wanted Rebecca. When someone announced, "It's a girl," I asked "A girl?" x 5. When she was laid on my chest, I cried, "Oh, Rebecca!" So she was Rebecca not Sarah, and in that instant was exactly the baby I wanted. She was perfect for me and I couldn't imagine having a boy, now that I had my baby girl.

Rachel came along 25 months later. A healthy 8 lbs. 9 oz. I did have to work a little bit to get her here. She was my only chubby baby. Not much comes to mind about her birth. The best part about her arrival was seeing Rebecca with her. We still laugh when we imitate how Rebecca said, over and over, "Ana hode it." (I wanna hold it.) I was determined that Rachel would not be fed a bottle. On her first night home, she cried nonstop. I didn't produce enough milk to fill her tummy. So we both cried. Rachel from hunger and me because it was 1 AM and I was stupid enough to have a two day old baby at home and no formula. I was the biggest loser on the planet. What sorry excuse for a mom doesn't have a bottle for her baby? I left my mom sitting in the kitchen, with a hungry baby while I trekked to Farmer Jack in the middle of the night. They had the goods to feed a baby. I didn't. I was such a terrible mother. I should have called DHS on myself. Rachel was easier to take care of than Rebecca. It was fun watching the two of them together. They became best friends right away.

Fast forward 24 months. That's three babies in four years if you lost count. James is a week overdue. My mom had already been at my house for a week.  She came from FL to MI to be with me all three times. I had a brilliant idea. I called the University of Michigan Women's Center, where I would have the baby, and asked to speak to someone in Labor and Delivery. I explained to the lady on the floor, as pitifully as I could sound, that I am a week overdue. "Do you have a bed available so I can be admitted and you can induce my labor?" I think it took her a minute to figure out what I was saying. Then I'm sure she had to try really hard not to laugh at me. She explained that just because I was a week overdue I couldn't just check myself in. My doctor would have to do that. She made a suggestion, to try and start labor naturally, that was just nauseating. Well, when you are 41 weeks pregnant, big as a bloated beached whale, cranky and do not want touched, it's nauseating. I said, "Fine, I'm calling my doctor and I'll be there tomorrow," and slammed the phone. That was back in the day, when you could get mad at someone and actually slam the phone in their ear. I imagine her sitting at the desk telling all the other nurses about the crazy lady who thought she could just come in and be induced. Well, when one is overdue with her third baby in four years, the irrational becomes rational. The crazy becomes perfectly logical. I digress. My doctor did take pity on me and I showed that nurse I meant business by checking in the next day. I was not anywhere near being in labor. They had to get it started with Pitocin and a bunch of other drugs, needles and tubes. I stayed in that bed for 2 days as labor dragged on and on. Finally, James was ready. I must have dilated quickly at the end, because it went from quiet with one nurse in the room to a bunch of worker bees scurrying around, trying to keep calm in the midst of chaos. I knew there was a sense of urgency. I just kind of sat up, and he fell out. I don't even think a doctor caught him. When it calmed down and the room cleared out it was just me and Cliff staring at this beautiful boy. All three were born pretty. No really, they were. No coneheads here. It occurred to me that I was famished. I sent Cliff off to find me something to eat. He returned with Wendy's, cold fries and burgers. He went on home late that night. I kept James in the room with me. I was absolutely exhausted and James was not happy. I fed him. Rocked him. Patted him. Cry. Cry. Cry. I was sitting up in bed holding him and fell asleep. I nearly dropped him! Once again, loser mom! I called the nurse and sent him to the nursery.  Finally, I slept. I woke up a few hours later and walked down the hall to find the baby I kicked out. There was a row of bassinets and without looking at faces or reading name cards, I was drawn to my baby instinctively.

My friends will have stories to tell Papoose about her birth. Their story is unique, just for them. I'm anxious to see the three of them together. A new family is born. Enjoy your baby and ana hode it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween is not my thing

I REALLY love Fall. I could live in this climate year round and be happy, happy, happy. I love stepping outside and being just chilly enough to wonder if you needed a jacket after all. I love opening up windows and airing out the house. I love the colors of leaves. In dying  they turn beautiful. I like the house cool enough to need a sweatshirt but not the furnace. Fall is nature at it's finest. Except for one minor detail. I don't love Halloween.

I am tempted to say it is because of it's pagan roots, but I know that Christmas, Easter, the days of the week and months have pagan roots. So I'll just be honest here. I hate it because I find most costumes absurd. I don't understand how we tell our kids, "Don't take candy from strangers," but one day a year it's ok to beg. When my kids were little I rose to the challenge of coming up with the cheapest costumes possible, usually a hand-me-down or something we created with odds and ends from closets and the make up drawer. I did find it entertaining to walk up and down the street with three kids in tow. When Rachel was four, she would knock, yell trick-or-treat, thank them for the treat, then proceed to try and enter every house. I guess to a four year old, when you knock and the door is opened, you are automatically invited inside.

When I worked at Cheddar's, I dreaded having to come up with a costume that I could still move and work in. One year I wore a bunch of Christmas stuff. Santa hat, Christmas shirt, Christmas vest, Christmas broaches and pins, Christmas tie, jingle bell necklace and earrings. I was Christmas-Time. How many times do you suppose I was asked, "What are you supposed to be?" or "Are you an elf?" I would smile (on the outside) and say, "I'm Christmas-time!" "Idiot." (on the inside)

I like scarecrows, corn mazes, cider mills, and apples. I just don't like Halloween parties, costumes and kids rotting their teeth out on taffy. Isn't there something else we can give kids other than sugar? Remember how we hated the houses that gave out pennies or plastic rings? Yea, I guess I won't win that one. They only want the sugar.

Then there is the safety issue. If it's really necessary to take your bucket of loot to the cops so they can check it out for you, maybe you should just play it safe and skip begging and buy half price candy Nov.1. You would never eat an apple put in your pumpkin bucket because it might have a razor in it. But no one gives apples out anyway.  It's kind of cool how the churches have their own trunk-or-treat. Even if you don't go to church there, they'll share their stuff with your kids, and you know you won't have to inspect every tootsie roll because, well, they are Christians.

We used to get pumpkins and make a big, sloppy mess carving them. They never came out looking great. More like someone took a chainsaw to it. The smile was lopsided. The triangle eyes looked like circle-squares. I might put a pumpkin on the porch. Uncarved. Happy Fall Y'all. And for those whom I haven't convinced to give up trick-or-treat, Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gettin My Blog On

I started a blog 3 years ago, posted a few, and decided I didn't have anything else to write about. I thought maybe I'd like to try it again, but can't access that blog because the email account I used then has been deactivated. I can't remember my password and can't retrieve it or set a new one. 

I have several friends whom I stalk, I mean follow, on their blogs. They have unknowingly inspired me. 

I thought I should just post some random facts about myself. You know, things I like, dislike, rants, etc. 

1. I rarely eat meat or eat at restaurants. I'd be certifiably insane without peanut butter and chicken. They are my main sources of protein. 

2. My former blog is if you care to read what was on my mind 3 years ago.

3. When I was young I thought I'd become a filthy rich, famous singer. Think, Celine Dion, without the grandpa/husband or Whitney Houston, without the addiction. I was certain that at some point, an agent would hear me, and say, "Kid, I can make you rich." Still haven't quite figured out how that never happened. 

4. I am a christian and believe in the Bible. I also believe God is far more understanding and loving than we give Him credit for. I believe that in the last couple thousand years certain parts of the Bible have been misinterpreted and paraphrased so many times that they have lost the original meaning. Try to interpret Hebrew and Greek from that long ago to modern day English and there is going to be some confusion. It's inevitable. If you've ever taken a foreign language then you have heard, "We don't have a word for that in English." or "We don't have words that mean the same, so it's kind of like...." That being said, I do believe it is the Holy Word of God. It is the "Jesus Story" and we are invited to be part of it. 

5. I believe I will die in my 60's. I attribute that mostly to bad genetics and not taking great care of myself. I hope I live long enough to enjoy a couple grandkids, but really, once my kids are independent, I'm ready when He is. 

6. I love the show, "The First 48" and get very upset at the end of the show if they haven't found the killer. Other than that, I don't watch much tv. 

7. I am the wife of Cliff, the mom of 3 teens, Rebecca, 18. Rachel, 16. James, 14. A dog Molly and a cat Ginger. Ginger is a boy. We thought he was a girl when we got him, but never bothered to change his name or start calling her him. So to us he/she will remain Ginger, the girl cat. 

8. I have a mixed up muddled accent. I'm a northerner transplanted to Cookeville, TN. I'm a yankee/redneck who speaks with an Indiana/Michigan/Canadian/Tennessee accent. It's ok to have a laugh at my expense. I'm used to it. :) 

9. I think I'm a boring person because I can't think of 10 random facts about myself. Well, I can but the rest are even more irrelevant than the first 8 or too personal to share with you guys/ (MI speak) y'all (TN speak) just yet. Plus, James is pestering me to get off the computer.