Clever, Crafty, and Creative Wonder!

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Jordan painting wooden centers for my earrings.

My oldest daughter turns 15 today. Just typing that out I’m in disbelief! It seems like I just gave birth to her moments ago, but obviously that’s not the case. She’s been a blessing since the day she was born and she continues to develop into an amazing young woman.

Along with my brown hair and eyes, Jordan has inherited by artistic nature. Although in her, it’s magnified far more than the talents I possess. She’s a great painter, drawer, writer, sculptor, and musician and she’s far smarter than I was at her age, or even than I am now. She’s always on the highest honor roll in school and she uses her clever and intelligent mind in constantly evolving ways.

She loves to paint in both small and large forms and her freehand abilities with a brush astound me. She’s painted a map of her fantasy world on her bedroom walls and she’s paint quotes from favorite movies and shows that further express what makes her tick. I’ve been asking her for over a year to draw or paint some centers for my earrings and over the last couple months she’s painted several wooden centers that I’m looking forward to beading around. Her steady hand and uniquely creative mind helps her design and implement artistry that is both intricate and fun.

Jordan has also inherited my sarcasm, wit, curiosity, and sense of humor. Although really, I can’t take full credit for that that because she has her own personality and individuality. I’m happy to say that Jordan and I get along very well, which isn’t always the case with parents and children with similar personalities. I’m also very happy that she’s not like “typical” teenage girls in that she’s not interested in any of the high school drama, has no interest in boys (unlike me at her age), and is more intent on enjoying her life than getting caught up in teenage stuff. She’s mature beyond her years and I count myself extremely lucky that she’s my daughter.

Jordan makes me laugh, she makes me think, and she makes me proud to call her my daughter. She’s a wonderful older sister to Jaycie and both encourages her and keeps her on her toes. Being Jordan’s mother inspires me to be the best version of myself because that’s what she does every single day. I love my clever, crafty, and creative wonder!

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Flowers From My Father

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All of the tulips behind my house.

My father had a green thumb. I don’t know if he was born with it, or if he cultivated through during his lifetime, but he was great at making plants grow. He loved planting gardens of flowers and vegetables and whatever he touched thrived. His efforts to create vegetable gardens didn’t always go well due to animals finding their way past garden defenses, but his flower beds always thrived.

While I’ve had some success growing things, I did not inherit my father’s knack for making green things grow. I’ve killed cactuses and other low maintenance plants and my annual flower gardens have been hit and miss. I’ve discovered that pansies and snapdragons seem made to survive my lack of green thumb, but I haven’t had much luck with perennials. Well, lucky for me, my father’s spirit decided to help me with that problem.

A few years’ ago, a tulip plant suddenly appeared growing next to the irises behind my house. Those irises have been here since before I moved in and they always do extremely well, but I’d never planted any tulips. I took that first tulip that produced a single red blossom as a gift from my father’s spirit and I thanked him profusely. That tulip has returned every year and I’m always amazed that the squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks, skunks, or deer don’t manage to nibble it away before it can bloom.

Apparently, this year my father decided I needed a few more bulbs in my yard. The first new plants I saw were a couple of yellow daffodils growing over by my smaller shed. I didn’t plant daffodils and I’d never seen them there before, but there they suddenly were one day! When I first saw the splash of yellow next to the shed, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing, especially since the weather hadn’t been warm enough for dandelions yet. I was bewildered when I walked over and realized they were healthy daffodil plants dancing in the chilly breeze.

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The daffodils by my shed.

Once again, I thanked my dad’s spirit for the gift of flowers and figured that was his new flower for this year. I soon learned that I was wrong.

Shortly after the daffodils came up, I went over to investigate my usual tulip and discovered more tulip plants growing a bit further away from the first. Again, I didn’t plant any more tulips so I was surprised to see them. I thought perhaps they were more red tulips and that they were finally growing because I’d cut the rose bush back more. I was happy to see more tulips growing and appreciated my father’s continued efforts to add flowers to my gardens.

As the weeks passed and the tulips continued to grow and create buds, I noticed that the new plant had five buds on it as opposed to the single bud on the red tulip. After a couple more days I realized that the second tulip plant was a different color than the first tulip plant and when it finally started to show its colors, the buds were a lovely combination of yellow and red. I was elated that such beautiful tulips were growing in my yard when they bloomed and revealed their stunning colors, I nearly jumped for joy. My father’s spirit had certainly upped his game this spring!

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This year’s tulip plant

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The original red tulip and this year’s new addition.

I’ve been enjoying the colorful displays of tulips behind my house for the past week or so and even though the blossoms are starting to fade and wilt, I’ve taken plenty of pictures to remember them by. Plus, I know they’ll be back again next year. The gift of flowers that my father’s spirit keeps giving me is something I’m truly grateful for and I wish he were still physically around so I could thank him in person and give him a huge hug.

I’m sure there’s a lot my dad could do with my property if he was still alive and I’d welcome his help. I always make grand plans for gardens on my property, but I don’t have the time or resources. Instead, I just make my little backyard container garden around the birdfeeders and admire it from my kitchen window or when I’m outside on the deck or in the yard. The birds also help me out by dropping enough sunflower seeds to sprout at least a couple nice sunflowers every year.

Although I may never have the beautiful gardens my dad used to create, I do the best I can to keep up with my property and incorporate pretty (and resilient) flowers where I can. It’s nice to know that my father’s spirit seems to understand that I’m trying and that he helps me out as best he can. For as long as I live in this house and even after I move, I know I’ll wait anxiously for spring every year to see if my father has planted more gifts of flowers for his little girl.

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Standing by one of my dad’s flower gardens.

Not the vacation we planned – Part 1

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Outside of Beverly Hospital

The vacation with my girls this summer was supposed to be full of fun adventures/misadventures, but instead, it was spent in emergency rooms and hospitals.

My youngest daughter wasn’t feeling well over the weekend she spent with her father, but we just thought it was a stomach bug. She started to feel a bit better Monday night and said she wanted to go on the trip Tuesday, so we hit the road Tuesday morning. She was a bit tired and slow moving on the drive but she ate some food and seemed in decent spirits.

We arrived at our queen “suite” Tuesday evening after a long day of driving and were disappointed by the size and layout of the room. That’s a story for another day though as I’m still trying to resolve the issue with Hilton. That night when Jaycie went to the bathroom she cried and complained of right side pain. That was the first time she’d specified a region of pain and I didn’t take it as a good sign.

The next morning, Wednesday, I decided to take her to an urgent care near the hotel. The doctor at urgent care couldn’t help her because they didn’t have the right equipment so they sent us to the emergency room at Beverly Hospital. She’d become dehydrated over the weekend with her father and I’d been having her drink as much as possible since I picked her up Sunday, but as soon as she got into an emergency room, the nurse could tell she was still dehydrated and started her on IV liquids. Jaycie cried getting the IV put in and my oldest daughter and I almost started crying too because we hated seeing her in pain and scared. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last time Jaycie would be in such a state.

The doctors at Beverly Hospital decided to do an ultrasound to see if they could find the cause of her pain and when that produced inconclusive results, they admitted her to the hospital for observation. The doctors and nurses were all very nice and Jaycie went into a nice private room upstairs. Once she was settled in, Jordan and I went back to the hotel to sleep because we were exhausted. I told my family and close friends about what was going on and they offered their support and well wishes, which meant the world to me.

The next day at the hospital, Thursday, the doctors said they didn’t think that she would require surgery for whatever the issue was, so they said she could start eating normal food again. I ordered her food she would normally like but she didn’t want to eat any of it and only ate a few bites of breakfast, lunch and dinner because I insisted she needed to eat to get better.

Throughout the entire hospital experience, the one thing that helped Jaycie was having a TV with a DVD player in her room. She watched several movies and that kept her spirits up and her mind off her discomfort. Jordan read her books and I distracted myself with Warcraft to pass the time as we waited for doctors and nurses to figure out what was wrong with Jaycie and how to make her better.

Jordan and I went back to the hotel to sleep Thursday night and when we came back Friday morning, the doctor said she was concerned that Jaycie wasn’t improving as they’d hoped. They’d thought she had a uti or some sort of intestinal bug, but as she had been on antibiotics since getting into the emergency room and still wasn’t improving, they began to wonder if it was something else, like appendicitis.

I’d wondered if it was appendicitis from the moment she complained of right side pain but the doctors hadn’t wanted to do a CT scan due to the radiation until they’d exhausted other options. They did an x-ray on Jaycie Friday afternoon and when that showed fluid where it didn’t belong, they decided it was time for a CT scan.

Almost the entire time that Jaycie’s abdomen hurt, she was also complaining of right shoulder pain and my oldest friend kept insisting Jaycie should get a CT scan because her son had right shoulder pain associated with his ruptured appendix. As it turned out, she was right that it had to do with Jaycie’s appendix as the CT scan revealed perforated appendicitis with abscesses.

Beverly Hospital didn’t have the capabilities to treat Jaycie’s condition so they informed me that they’d be moving her to Boston Children’s Hospital via ambulance that Friday night. I’d been holding it together pretty well until then but learning that they had to move my daughter to a different hospital made me think it was something even more serious than I realized and I started to crumble a bit.

As this has turned into an epic novel of a blog post, I will continue it another day.

Tis the season for sappy holiday movies

It seems like the holiday season starts earlier every year, but I don’t particularly mind. Christmas decorations at Halloween are excessive but I’ve grown so used to it, I don’t notice it that much anymore. It also helps that I only leave my house to get groceries and other necessities and avoid the busy malls as much as possible. I’ve been buying my gifts online for years now and it’s ideal for me and anyone else who has ever worked retail and loathes the thought of holiday crowds.

There’s one particular aspect of the holidays that I didn’t realize started so early until this year and that’s the showing of sappy holiday movies. There was a time when I’d grumble and huff about them starting so soon, but not this year. For various reasons, I’m okay with kicking off the holidays sooner than usual. In fact, I already have a string of colored lights up in my living room at the request of my youngest daughter and I rather like the soft glow of them in the evening.

It’s by the soft glow of those holiday lights that I’ve been watching the sappy holiday movies in the evenings when I don’t have my girls. The movies are predictable to put it mildly. They’re filled with attractive single people who can’t find love or who have been scorned by love and then poof! The holidays happen and there’s magically someone new in their lives that they fall in love with. The blossoming relationship hits some sort of snag about a half hour before the movie ends but then everything works out happily within the last 5-10 minutes. Despite the fact that such a sappy holiday movie plot has yet to come true in my life, I still believe in love and don’t mind watching happy holiday endings.

I don’t expect Hallmark or Lifetime to make a sappy holiday movie that even remotely mimics my life. The plot would revolve around a single mother in her late 30’s who lives in the middle of nowhere (and I do mean nowhere), spends her days as a semi-recluse writing freelance from home, has two crazy kittens that alternate trying to snuggle up her nose with climbing the walls, has a dog as her constant shadow, trips over a bowling ball black cat named after a bird, and has basically no social life. Not much of a plot because it wouldn’t go anywhere interesting. No big holiday parties to attend, no social events in town, and no local friends to throw fun bashes..equals a most boring plot.

My loyal snuggle buddies on the couch with me.

My loyal snuggle buddies on the couch with me.

Daisy being a goof laying under the decorative rug in front of the fridge.

Daisy being a goof laying under the decorative rug in front of the fridge.

Nighty night, Mama!

Nighty night, Mama!

Last year I was able to go out to New England a couple of times over the holidays but that’s not in the cards this year. I enjoyed the holiday parties I went to out there and relished in the feeling that I was part of something outside of my little “cave” in Upstate NY. I’ll get back to New England in the New Year and will definitely make more holiday parties out there part of my 2015 plans. Nevertheless, for this year, it will just be me, my girls, and my small family or just me and my crazy household of animals. Perhaps someday I’ll know romantic love again or maybe I’ll just become a “crazy cat lady” 😉 but no matter what, I know I have many blessings to be thankful for!

The kittens love using each other as pillows. :)

The kittens love using each other as pillows. 🙂

The power of pizza!

Love on a pizza :)

Love on a pizza 🙂

During my Friday night grocery shopping trip, I picked up a can of Pillsbury’s Pizza Crust because I was planning to make pizza tonight. Usually I buy the store’s ball of dough and fight with it until it mostly fits on the pizza pan. I decided I wasn’t up for that fight this weekend so I grabbed the Pillsbury version instead. A simple-seeming thing but with nostalgic significance.

I’m not sure when it started, but I can remember my family using that particular pizza dough to make many pizzas. It was so convenient to just pop open the can and roll the dough out on a cookie sheet and I can completely understand why my parents opted to use it instead of other dough. When I made the pizza tonight, happy memories flooded back to me the moment I smelled that familiar dough. Pillsbury dough has a distinct taste and smell, much different from the store brand of dough or homemade crust.

As I rolled the dough out onto the cookie sheet, I suddenly decided that the girls and I were going eat in the living room tonight and watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Long before my family started using the Pillsbury dough, I remember that one night a week we would order pizza and watch the original Star Trek reruns on the TV in the family room. It was a real treat eating in the family room, I loved sitting on the floor with my plate on the coffee table, and my eyes glued on Star Trek. My father loved Star Trek and I grew up loving it too. Every time I watch Star Trek TNG now, I remember watching it with him and going to the Star Trek movies with him. It makes me miss him but it also reminds me that he’s always with me in spirit.

The simple act of buying that pizza dough transformed tonight into a tribute to my father’s memory and I was inspired to arrange the meatballs on the cheese in a heart shape. My daughters thought I was loopy of course, but that’s okay. As a further tribute to my father, I had a glass of the root beer in my fridge that went flat long ago. My father would always drink the flat pop and that’s another of his traits I inherited. There’s something to be said about not having bubbles going up my nose making me sneeze. 

Sitting on the floor of my living room with my girls as we watched the first episode of the second season of TNG filled me with happiness and contentment. Carrying on traditions, even ones as silly as eating pizza while watching Star Trek, help me keep the memory of my father alive and insure that my girls never forget their amazing grandfather.

New season, new outlook!


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Today was the first day of my favorite season: autumn. I don’t particularly like the season that follows autumn but as I’m working on enjoying the present and focusing on the here and now, I’m not going to worry about that particular aspect of the future.

The weather today was absolutely gorgeous with a cloudless blue sky, gentle breeze and enough sunlight to banish the cooler temperatures of yesterday. Once I’d finished my morning freelance work, I grabbed Jazzmin and we headed out on our daily walk. As I was curious to see how quickly the trees were changing along the farmer’s road, we headed that direction at a brisk pace.

My pup and I had just turned the first corner when I spotted something small and bright green in the center of the closest lane. I peered closer, realized it was a praying mantis and quickly but gently picked him up out of the road. He was the first non-squished praying mantis I’ve seen this year and I was happy to help him travel safely across the road.

The moment I picked the mantis up, he pointed in the direction he wanted to go and I carried him there as he held firmly to my hand.

That way please, Miss!

That way please, Miss!

Now place me gently down there. Thank you!

Now place me gently down there. Thank you!

Once safely on the opposite side of the road, I gently set him down in the grassy shoulder and he quickly blended in with his surroundings. Pleased with another successful creature rescue, I led Jazz onward to the farmer’s access road to continue our walk.

Even though there wasn’t as much color change among the trees as I’d hoped, it was still a lovely walk among dragonflies, butterflies and birds.

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Colorful vines climbing up the trees.

Colorful vines climbing up the trees.

A fallen oak branch filled with acorns.

A fallen oak branch filled with acorns.

This year has also been very good for grasshoppers and everywhere I walk, the ground springs to life as multiple grasshoppers jump swiftly out of my path. I tried to take a picture of the little bugs in action, but they were too fast!

I led Jazz to the end of the canopy of trees over the farmer’s road and up a bit further before turning off the gravel and onto a path of flattened grass created by the large tractors that mow those fields. We walked in the shade of the large trees along the path and paused by a rather large and obviously frequently-traveled deer path. I took a picture to capture the feel of the trees and shadows.

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After that, we stepped out of the shadows and cut across the grassy field toward the little pond we visited earlier in the week. As we approached, a handful of deer went bounding away from the water’s edge and quickly disappeared into the underbrush of the distant trees. A higher up motion caught my eye and I raised my gaze in time to see a hawk flying out from the trees beyond the pond. Wearing a huge smile, I watched as he soared along the tree line for a short way before swooping upward and out of sight over the treetops.

By the time we finished crossing the field, I think Jazz had smelled every animal that had ever traversed the grass. We walked along the far tree line as I searched the ground for red tail hawk feathers. I found a small turkey feather but alas, my hunt for red tail hawk feathers continues.

Turkey feather I found today.

Turkey feather I found today.

Jazzmin and I returned from our walk quite satisfied by the exercise and our adventures. She took a quick snooze while I showered and then it was off to pick up Jordan and continue the normal routine of the day.

This evening was just as beautiful as the day so my girls and I took a short walk up around the corner to the nearby stream. Jordan had a chance to practice her pack leader skills and I was pleased to see how well Jazzmin walked alongside my oldest daughter.

Jordan walking Jazzmin and Jaycie following behind.

Jordan walking Jazzmin and Jaycie following behind.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day, an ideal beginning to my favorite season, and an eye opening transition to a new perspective!

A walk in the field

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I accomplished a lot yesterday! I completed my daily quota of freelance articles, read through the modules for both college courses, did all the online textbook reading for my SNHU 107 class, took a walk with Jordan and Jazzmin, cooked burgers out on the grill and ended the day by reading some of the online textbook for my English Composition class. Jordan was a big help by assisting Jaycie with her homework and at one point I had to go into my bedroom to finish my writing work, but I got it all done! I had a lot to be proud of and while I was proud, I was also a bit disappointed.

Although I understand that adding college into the mix makes it more challenging to fit everything in, I didn’t realize how tricky it would be to properly manage my time. Interestingly enough, my SNHU 107 class reading last night was about time management. For the past few weeks I’ve been saving my college work until Wednesday when the girls go to their father’s house. While I was able to accomplish all my required work by the deadlines, I thought perhaps I should spread it out over whole week. Well, I gave it a shot but after yesterday, I’ve decided the system I had worked out was just fine!

My girls come first, plain and simple. Jordan shouldn’t be helping Jaycie with her homework, I should. I shouldn’t have to hide away to get work done when the girls are home, I should be spending time WITH the girls! My favorite part of yesterday was the walk with Jordan and Jazz but even that felt rushed because we had to get back home in time to pick Jaycie up from school.

I started out today with the intention of getting all of my freelance work done before the girls got home and then not diving into my college work until tonight after they were in bed. It went okay for the first couple articles but then a client asked for a full rewrite, my word processing program started doing weird things and I found myself on the verge of frustrated tears. At that moment, I decided enough was enough! So I promptly shut down my computer, changed into my walking clothes, “saddled up” Jazz in her backpack and headed out for a walk on the lovely fall afternoon.

Jazz and I had made it halfway up the first hill when I found the farmer’s field off to our left calling to me. I could’ve kept going up the hill on the road but I listened to my gut and my gut said “Go into the field!” I turned Jazz off the road and into the field of almost knee-high clover and grass we went! She really had to pick up her paws to navigate the field and she kept snorting it all up and sneezing. If we’d been trying to sneak up on anything, we would’ve failed miserably.

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My trusty pup and I made it to the top of the field hill and were rewarded with a lovely view of more green fields, blue sky, puffy clouds and butterflies flying all around. I stood there for many moments breathing it all in and reconnecting with my inner serenity. Jazz was busy sniffing and snorting the grass and I suppose that’s how she connected her nose with her own version of deer-scented serenity. I was extremely glad I’d listened to my gut because even in just the few moments we stood there, I felt re-energized.

To leave the field, we headed toward the wall of trees that lined the edge of a deep ravine. At the bottom of the ravine runs the barely trickling stream that just a month ago was so flooded with water it washed out the road.

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The grass was shorter by the trees and easier to walk through and Jazz had a wonderful time smelling the deer, squirrels, chipmunks, grasshoppers, mice, and mythical creatures that had been there at some point in history.

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I admired the great height and strength of the oak trees while avoiding the raspberry prickers growing by their roots. I was very surprised to find a recently ripened clump of black raspberries so late in the season! I snapped a picture to prove that I wasn’t hallucinating.

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When we returned home, it was almost time to pick up Jordan so I made myself presentable then loaded Jazz into the car to head out. I won’t get as much work done today as I did yesterday but I’ll get it all done eventually and on time. Today reminded me that while work is important, so is taking a breath and a break to enjoy the world around me.