Monthly Archives: April 2013

Being a Jingle Bell Rocks!

Being a Gym Wallflower – the last one picked for a sports team – can be the most scarring childhood memory.

The Helena Junior High School had organized an intra-mural volleyball season so the 7th grade girls were gathered in the gym to make their own teams. We all knew the drill. The girls sat in the bleachers while the captains lined up in front to choose. 

A co-captain with my friend, Shanna, we stood together with a competitive spirit. We could taste victory with the team we’d mentally assembled in whispered hallway conversations the previous days. We were disappointed to be on the end of the line, therefore, the last ones to choose.  We complained all the “good” girls would be taken.

The drama unfolded as the captains began choosing. As one team announced the name of a “good” player, girls would cheer, and the other captains would huff in disappointment. The chosen girl would swagger to her huddle and began contributing her opinions about who was good and who wasn’t.

The quick study in human behavior wasn’t lost on two girls who had already survived six years of elementary playground torment. In slo-mo, we vividly saw pride and shame taking sides and didn’t like it. We didn’t see the ugly until someone else wore it.

After the first round, we changed our minds about our team’s purpose. We would not choose to win. We would choose our friends and the girls that needed to be chosen. Our conversation was continued in a louder decibel, and we threw out a few casual compliments for the girls sweating in the bleachers to overhear.

Even when it was down to the last girls, we said their names with confidence and enthusiasm, to show we wanted  them on our team.  Other captains were disappointed to have to settle for the wallflowers, and let it be shown.

Helena Junior High 7th grade Basketball Team

(My 7th grade basketball team.  Different girls, same bleachers.Yep, I’m number 13.)

When the last girl straggled down from the bleachers, each team was assigned a place in the gym to practice. We huddled together and tried to become a team.  We couldn’t agree on a name, and all the cool names, like Tigers and Panthers, were quickly taken. We opted for unique humor and agreed to name ourselves Jingle Bells and tie little silver craft bells on our gym shoes.  We would mark our territory with the jingle of a different drum.

As our team  began practicing together, Shanna and I noticed once again pride and shame rearing their ugly heads in the gym as we watched some of the “good” girls on each team berate the “bad” girls.

Another huddle was called. I gave a pep talk with the passion and vocabulary of a 12 year old who desperately wanted a team different than the others.

  • We would NOT call out each others’  mistakes, but  would always say “Good try!” Humiliation makes someone play worse, not better.
  • We would NOT name call.
  • We would practice and try to improve our skills.  If you needed to correct or instruct someone, be nice.

In the brutal world of Junior High, we determined to be different. We might not win a lot of games, but we were going to try hard, have fun, and show our spirit. Our unity would be announced with jingle bells. We wanted the other junior highers to hear our message.

I’ve never forgotten my 12 year old amazement.

It worked. 

During the short volleyball season, the Jingle Bells chattered and encouraged through the games, giving back pats and smiles.  We were noticed, and it wasn’t just the jingle bells tied to our shoes.  The girls improved because they weren’t  shamed by humiliation. Other girls wished they could play on our team because they were tired of being  yelled at when they made a mistake.

We won some games. We lost some games. But, we had a great season because we became a real team.

I have no idea if any of my former volleyball teammates even remember this time in Junior High when we marked our territory with the silvery jingles of acceptance and encouragement.

But I will never forget what it means to be a Jingle Bell.

Being a Jingle Bell rocks!


When Gramma Lost her Marbles

When Gramma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, humor had to become a part of our lives. It’s a daily agony to become a stranger to someone you love deeply.  My mother grieved that her own mother didn’t remember her. Mom was gracious and kind, but missed having a relationship with her. You lose them, before you really lose them.

You can’t ask them advice, share memories or catch up on family happenings. We learned to accept Gramma as she was and live in whatever world she was in that day. There’s no longer give and take in the relationship, only give and give some more. You even weep for them, because they don’t even know what they’re missing.

To Gramma, I was only “The Lady with all The Kids.”  I visited her almost weekly in the nursing home, to her continual confusion.  She sat with us politely, sometimes on her bed, sometimes in the main living room where residents sat and folded washcloths.

The staff would take a basket of folded washcloths to another room, mess it up, and bring it back.   They’d say, “I’m sorry, but there’s so much laundry today.  Do you mind folding another basket? Thank you so much!” Usefulness gave the residents vigorous purpose. It was a staff member, whose name and face draw a blank, but her love and devotion still warm my heart, that told me my Gramma referred to me as “The Lady with All the Kids.”

It didn’t matter that Gramma didn’t remember who I was, I was thankful she remembered me at all.

I would ramble on about things Gramma knew nothing about, to avoid upsetting her.  I could monologue an hour or two away talking about the weather, funny things the kids did, and sewing projects.  I didn’t ask questions because she wouldn’t know the answers.

Gramma and the other residents liked our visits.  We became the center stage act, and residents would shuffle in to see my kids play with the sorry basket of toys and books on the wing. My kids nervously noticed their blanks stares and drool, but I saw deeds achieved and lives influenced in their accumulated pasts.  It  brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.

As with a child at the playground, I learned to warn Gramma when I was preparing to leave.  I’d give an update on the errands I had to run since I was in town.  At the time, we rented a farmstead in the country and going to town alone with all five kids could only be braved once a week.  I saved all the shopping for one day – Town Day. Then, I’d tell her I was leaving. As I prepared the kids to leave I promised her I’d be back, even though she wouldn’t remember that promise.

A few times she followed us to the elevator and tried to get on.  I used to think she wanted to come home with us, but now I know better.  She wanted to escape, but she didn’t know where she was from, so didn’t know where to go.

A staff member would gently hold her and talk in those reassuring tones they have perfected, while I pushed the button of guilt and watched the doors close in front of her face.

Only rarely did Gramma remember people.  A few times she said, “I haven’t seen Arne for weeks.  I bet he’s off fishing and won’t come see me.”  Then she’d turn to me.  “I suppose he’s off fishing with your husband.”

Instead of telling Gramma her dear husband Arne had been dead for over ten years, I lived in her world. “Yea, Gramma, you’re probably right. You know men.” I’d laugh, and we’d talk about husbands and fishing until that memory dissipated.

If Gramma ever brought up a topic of conversation, it was about our husbands.  I was amused  she didn’t remember  I was her granddaughter bringing in five of the cutest great-grandchildren in the world to visit her, but she remembered my handsome husband.  Once she even called him by name, although she hadn’t used mine in years.


Mindy and Gramma Geneva 1993

Gramma and me in 1993.
Yep, I’m wearing a stonewashed denim jumper
with a drop waist and believe it or not, I was totally in style.
In my mind, anyway
. I’m also totally pregnant with #3.

One day when we arrived, Gramma was still in her bathrobe.  I’d never seen her in anything but her large, flowered print shifts, with shorts sleeves and rounded necks, stockings and garter belt with sensible shoes.  As a child, we loved when Gramma lifted up her skirt and showed us the rows of little shiny clips that held her stockings up.  She would giggle with the mischievous smirk we loved, then lower her hem modestly.

This day, she had a similar look at her face.  She half grinned, then grabbed the edges of her bathrobe and opened it up. Smiling so all of her dentures showed, she said,  “Look, I haven’t anything on under here.” She giggled, and closed her bathrobe while I wondered if my children would be scarred for life. She was experiencing the same thrill as when one of my children would escape my clutches after a bath, and run naked through the house.

When Gramma had a bit of lucidity, she wanted to make me a sandwich.  She knew the kids and I had traveled to see her, and she knew she must feed us.  At first I tried to make excuses – I wasn’t hungry or we had just eaten – but it never calmed her down.  I learned to let her grab my  arm and march me around the floor looking for the kitchen.  I knew after a few laps she’d forget what she was looking for.  Then we could sit together and I would chatter again to fill up the empty space in her heart and mind.

Because it was Town Day, the five kids were always dressed up. The girls would be wearing a dress or a skirt, their hair done, usually with a special hair bow I’d made by hot gluing a large satin bow  to a clip.  The boys would be in nice jeans and shirts. After all, it was Town Day. 

One day, Gramma gave me a special gift to give to my mom. When we arrived, she was standing by the window on her roommate’s side of the room, staring, staring, staring. Her body was still, as she never was in the days when she had her mind, but her eyes darted like a robin seeking for worms. My kids stood with her, joining in her vigilant  watch without knowing what they were looking for.  I knew.  She was watching for Grandpa.  I didn’t despair, because I knew at least for a few minutes, she was remembering something.  Something is always better than nothing. 

She reached over to my daughter’s hair and began playing idly with the silky blonde strands beneath the hair bow.

“My daughter, Mary, had hair just like this.”  She continued to stroke the hair and I could vividly see the memory forming in her mind. “And I used to make bows just like this for her.”  Wishing with all my heart for a complete breakthrough, I dared to say, “Mary is my mom.  These are your great-grandkids.” 

She turned, looked through me as she always did, and didn’t respond.   I was still just “The Lady with all The Kids.”

It was only after my initial disappointment did I see the gift that had just been given.

That day, lost in Alzheimer’s sea of forgetfulness, she remembered that she had a daughter named Mary.


Making your home sing Mondays

How Do You Store Memories?

I was 38 years old when I lost a high school friend, Kari, to cancer. We had known the brain tumor was most likely fatal, and we were thankful for about two years after her initial surgery. She had 4 kids and I had 5 when she died, and though our families spent a lot of time together despite living 850 miles apart, we couldn’t create enough memories. We hoarded moments, knowing it would never be enough.   After Kari died, Juno changed its service and I lost all the emails I had been archiving,  I was hysterical because I wanted to save them to some day show her kids.

It took me so long to feel normal again.  I cried every day for months and months. Then I started crying every other day.  After 9 months,  I realized I had gone a few days in a row without weeping. I didn’t know if I was healing or forgetting. But, in 14 years, I have never stopped crying completely for myself or her children.  I’ve tried to use the loss to become a more compassionate person instead a person whose loss has frozen their hardened heart in time.

The Memory Jar

I instantly climbed into the place of  pain  Sarah Shelter lived in after losing her teenage friend, Patty, in The Memory Jar by Tricia Goyer.  Sarah experienced a lingering grief. People have learned to live with loss. What’s wrong with me? More tears came and she was tired of them. Tired of crying. Even more tired of holding them in.” (p. 99) Though five years have passed, Sarah is stagnant, focusing on the “if onlys” and unable to seek her life’s true desires, to be married and to open her own bakery.  Throughout her life, she has collected special treasures in glass jars to help remember special moments, but these tokens have become  reminders of loss instead of  reminders of  special moments.

Goyer well  understands how a heart full of pain keeps others away to keep from experiencing more pain. “For so long, she’d taken her memories of Patty – the memories they’d created together – and held them outside of herself, protecting herself from the pain of carrying them deep within. It was as if she carried all the memories in her jars. But in doing so, it was as if she’d also kept everyone else – those still in her life – at arm’s length too.”  (p. 105)

Just when she thinks her heart is ready to go on, she meets Jathan Schrock, who moved to West Kootenai, Montana long enough to become a resident to hunt big game.  He also came to experience a reprieve from the life plan determined by his father and the expectation to follow the footsteps of his five perfect older Amish brothers.  He agonizes over the fact that if he follows his own dreams, he can’t honor his father. But, he can’t face the life his father has planned for him, or the deep pain he has caused him.

Two young people are drawn toward one another through mutual faith and admiration, but the bondage in their hearts restrains them from total trust and commitment. Sarah recognizes in Jathan the same distance, the guarding of heart territory he’s unwilling to share, even with her.  Sarah realizes, “In math, two halves made a whole. but in life – and with relationships – two halves offered up from broken souls seemed a poor way to begin something wonderful.” They experience opposition not only from their unhealed hearts, but from family members.

It’s only when Sarah begins to use the memories as her reason to live, instead of her excuse to only exist, that she opens her heart to the Lord’s leading to fulfill the desires of her heart. It’s only when Jathan admits the pain in his own heart and the desires he has for his own life ambitions, that his heart is healed enough to offer it to someone else.

Only  the Lord can join two broken lives together in love and faith for healing and completeness.  Follow the lives of Sarah and Jathan as they find the strength to accept their past, present and  future, and experience the surprise and sweetness of the Lord’s plans for them.   “Desire realized is sweet to the soul.” (Proverbs 13:16)

The Memory Jar by Tricia Goyer

Follow Tricia on    image where she has wonderful boards for each of her books and many other topics she’s passionate about.  Here’s the link for The Memory Jar board.

Tricia writes for Not Quite Amish Living, a community blog for those who love Amish communities, simple living, vintage style, and have a desire to be in growing relationships with friends, family, and God. Click the link to see a pic of the West Kootenai Kraft and Grocery Store in Montana.


There are three ways to enter. You may enter three times if you qualify for each of the three different options. I always include a surprise gift along with the book, so you never know what will show up in your mailbox!  Drawing will be held Friday, May 3rd, so there’s plenty of time to spread the news!

1. Leave a comment on this blog about something you do to keep special memories alive in your life.

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I’m Like Totally A Cool Mom

It’s a joyous milestone when kids grow up and dress themselves.  We watch with parental pride, admiring their independence and finesse as they flounder to put on their socks or put both legs in the same pant leg. As with every stage, we praise and support our very, lovely children.


I didn’t mock them when they put a shirt on inside out. I would gently point out the tag is a flag to be waved on their back, inside their shirt,  and help them readjust.

I wouldn’t hurt their feelings and tell them a purple and orange striped shirt didn’t match a green and pink polka-dotted skirt. But, I might carefully praise their choice, ask them to choose which item was their favorite, then direct their decision to pick something that matched.  It was to keep from scarring them for life when they’re showing childhood photos to future spouses.

When they wanted to wear their dress-ups in public, I bore the quizzical stares and the raised eyebrows as a mother martyr would.  I allowed them the freedom to express themselves. I didn’t make fun of their style, not at all.  I didn’t walk really fast and pretend I wasn’t with them, no matter what they wore.  I didn’t roll my eyes at them, or heave patronizing sighs, or change my mind about going out with them in public.   I might release myself from the shame of the moment by saying, “Isn’t it cute what kids wear when they dress themselves?” 

The next milestone isn’t so joyous, the one where they pick out their own clothes, shoes and hair style according to what their peers have deemed cool.  Armed with newly-found discernment and their parents’ cash, they shop and get most rad hairstyle the ‘rents will allow. When fully clothed in cool, their eyes wander to those ‘rents who just funded their makeover and become painfully aware of their lack of style. They cringe at the jeans that don’t have the right width of pant legs or the right depth of the waistband.  Hair color and style are evaluated and gray hairs they caused will be randomly pulled from your head when they dare stick up around the new cool kid.

Imagine my surprise when they hit this milestone and didn’t  offer the same support and the  freedom to express myself I freely bestowed upon them just those few short years ago. The undying love and adoration they always felt for their ‘rents becomes slightly scribbled over with childish embarrassment as they realize their ‘rents are NOT cool.



WHAT?  Me, not cool? Are you, like, totally, like, out of your mind?


My clothes match, I don’t wear anything inside out or upside down, and I quit wearing dress-ups to the grocery store a few months ago.


What does it take to be a cool mom?


Dress just like her daughters?  No, that’s just wrong.  Moms can dress in style,  that’s ok, but like their daughters? No way. We’ve all seen those women.  We can’t become those women.

Use the hip phrases of time?  DUDE just doesn’t sound right on mom’s lips, even though it is contagious and sometimes we slip.Besides, when you use their words, you stand to be lectured on what those words mean and if you’re using them correctly.  Dude!  It’s just annoying!

Hairstyles?  A mom is supposed to have one? So combing my hair once a day whether it needs it or not doesn’t count as a hairstyle? Does anyone else find it ironic that the very ones who basically refused to comb their hair and brush their teeth for the first 12 years of their lives now find it necessary to monitor their parents’ grooming skills?


Who gets to define cool?

Her kids? 

Her kids’ friends?

Her husband? OK, if a husband doesn’t  notice new curtains, a haircut or new shade of lipstick, how can he be able to rank his wife’s coolness factor?  Besides, the kids who spent his hard-earned money to morph into coolness probably have their coolness radar detector out on Pops, too. And it’s probably not bleeping very much.

So, who gets to define cool? 

How about They should be pretty neutral party, doncha’ think?

Let’s use some of their definitions to see if I rank on the coolness factor.





Yep, that fits me.  I don’t get excited when the ones I used to dress criticize how I dress.


I remain calm when they say, “Mom, you’re not going to wear that, are you?”


When they say, “Um, you’re kinda’  old to be wearing that,” I stay composed.


I remain cool when they face disaster by saying,  “You would look 20 years younger if you’d flat-iron  your hair.”









Apparently, my coolness can even diffuse a situation. When they realize their parents will never measure up to their standards, their intensity will lessen. Their disappointment will cool their earlier zealousness for converting  parents to coolness.

So, that, my friends, proves my point.


I am a cool mother.


And it’s a good thing my kids don’t read my blog.  It’ll keep them from using my line, “Isn’t it cute when my mother dresses herself?”

Making your home sing Mondays

You Can Pout or Improve



When I was very young, I spent my days at home with my mom, a little brother and two little sisters.  With the two Big Boys at school, I was Mommy’s Helper. Sometimes  I fetched cloth diapers from the changing table in the upstairs bathroom. Other times I’d make faces to make a fussy baby laugh for a very busy mommy.  When the babies napped, I  helped  in the kitchen or mom would read to me.  One special afternoon she taught me to make mud pies. I loved those moments of having my Mommy all to myself. 


With my Daddy, Christmas 1969

However, my dad got up early each morning to go to work and I wouldn’t see him all day.    In the early morning quiet in our old, two story home,  the quiet only known when the six children were sleeping,  I discovered if I got up early and padded downstairs, I could have a few minutes alone with my Daddy. He looked so important in his  dress clothes and lace-up Hush Puppies and was very, very tall to me. I had to tip my head way back to see his big smile and the curly ends of his mustache.

One morning, Daddy was excited about something he wanted to teach me.  He lifted my tiny jammy-clad body on the counter next to the fridge, a secret we probably wouldn’t tell Mommy, I guessed. If this adventure was important enough to allow me to sit up so high all by myself, then this would be an adventure I would embrace. Only once did I dare lean forward and look down at the floor.  It was a long ways down.  I didn’t look again.

Daddy monologued cheerfully while pulling out sandwich meat, cheese, lettuce, bread and Miracle Whip from the white, rounded refrigerator.  He handed me two pieces of bread and a butter knife.  He instructed how to put spread the topping on the bread and add a piece of meat, a slice of cheese and a crisp piece of lettuce. Then,  went to take his shower.

I was so proud to be given such an important task.

We repeated this for several days.  One morning,  my ego was wanting some praise for my role as Daddy’s Special Sandwich Maker, so I asked Dad how he liked my sandwiches. I waited for the praise I knew I deserved.

He paused, looked me in the eyes and said, “Well, you could use a little less Miracle Whip.” He described how too much made the toppings slide around and the sandwich was hard to eat.  He pulled out the knife and showed me, again, how to add a little dab and spread it into the corners.

I was mad. After he left, I was a tiny tot sitting on the kitchen counter with a big anger, ranting in my little brain against my Daddy.  I didn’t think he should have complained. I thought he was a big meanie.

When he came out to get his lunch, he saw I hadn’t taken his advice well. I was pouting and had refused to make his sandwich.  My very big Dad listened to my tantrum, then said in a gentle voice that still feels like a security blanket to this day, “Well, you can pout about it, or you can make a better sandwich.”

His kind words stopped the rant and the rage in my heart.  At five years old, I knew he was right.  I chose to make a better sandwich. The next day,  I chose to try to make it even better.  To this day, I still meticulously spread all my topping evenly to the far corners of my bread.



My life’s goal at nearly 50 is still the same as when I was 5. When faced with criticism I know I can pout or improve.

I choose to make a better sandwich.

Piece Together a Photo Panorama

cool tools 008

In case you haven’t noticed, I like to demo Cool Tools.

Only my tutorials are pretty basic,
uz I’m one of those old people who grew up without a computer.
My advice is for other people who grew up without computers.

I figure if I can master a skill,
anybody can.

If your love language is html, then read along for fun.
Just don’t move your lips while you’re reading,
‘cuz that’s like really annoying.

Today I’m featuring a cool free feature from

(click to go to Microsoft for free download)

Microsoft’s Windows Photo Gallery,

Amsterdam View

This was the early morning of our last day in Amsterdam in November 2012.
I wanted to capture the view I saw everyday,
but don’t own a wide angle lens.

But, I remembered this cool feature in my photo editing software,
so I took three pictures in a row,
panning from left to right,
overlapping features just slightly.

home school projects 006


home school projects 007


 home school projects 008


Oops, got the window sill.
It won’t matter. Just watch.


In Windows Live Photo Gallery environment, I highlighted the pics I wanted to use.
If you are frustrated because you can only highlight one at a time,
here’s the trick-
hold the CTRL key down and click on the pics.

Recognize the three pics from above?


Under the Create tab click on Panorama.


It gives you a polite message while it’s sewing them together.


Then you name it.

See how easy this is?

Amsterdam View

It turns out like this, then you crop it.


Amsterdam View

Because I am using Windows Live Writer,
why yes, thanks for asking, I did wrote tutorials on that product also,
I was able to give the Amsterdam Panorama
a black border and a watermark.


Old dog learned a new trick.

Boulder Creek pan 2

On a recent hike along Boulder Creek with my neighbor Kelly-Across-the-Street,
I tried  my new skills again.

While watching  the waterfall I had a moment of genius.
I’m not bragging, just thankful for a moment of it once in awhile.
Since Photo Gallery stitches pictures together
side to side,
not top to bottom,
I got creative.


I took three pictures to bottom.

I tipped them sideways using the the little arrows.


I stitched them together,
then tipped the finished Panorama right side up.

Boulder Creek waterfall panorama
There ya’ go.

You now can fit an entire skyline
or a waterfall
in your camera.

You just have to

You don’t need an expensive lens,
just a free Cool Tool,
Microsoft Photo Gallery.

The Annoying Husband Contest

When I got married, I thought I married a highly intelligent, wonderful man who would function well in life.

I was wrong.

Totally wrong.

As soon as we returned from the honeymoon I learned  my husband lacked intelligence in some areas. I had promised to love and cherish, and my wedding vows were soon tested.

He actually thought the couch pillows were for his head. He would lie down for a nap on the couch, grab one of my new ruffled pillows,  put his head on it and think he was going to take a nap.

Can you believe that?

Pillow with Text from Snipping Tool

Thinking pillows are for heads?

He also proved his lack of intelligence in the bathroom.  He actually thought the rug next to the shower was to step on when he got out of the shower.  DUH.  It gets wet and it doesn’t always dry out. It took me years  before I finally taught him to dry off his feet before he got out of the shower and stepped on the rug.

You would think that men would at least be good with mechanical things in the house, like appliances.  My husband actually thought he could put dirty dishes in the dishwasher.  I had to teach him how to scrape them and rinse them and then put them in the dishwasher.  Of course, he never could figure out how to put the stuff in the dishwasher, tall cups on the right, short cups on the left, coffee cups in the middle.  On the bottom, plates in the front row, 8 facing east, 8 facing west, meeting in the middle.  Along the edges you fit cutting boards and platters.  Bowls can be tucked neatly together in the back row of the dishwasher and misc. items between the rows of plates and bowls.  After he says "it’s full"  I can fit another sink full of items in there. 

Whoever taught men to place spatulas and utensils on their side in the upper rack?  You could fit six glasses or one spatula.  I choose six glasses.

My husband also has a hard time putting things away in the kitchen.  To me, it’s obvious.  We have a corner cupboard just for items to drink from.  The bottom row is glass drinking glasses, short clear on the right, short green in the middle, tall clear on the left.  The middle shelf is coffee cups.  I prefer to have all the handles facing to the right, but I am flexible on that point.The top shelf is stemware, clear on the right, gold on the left.   Easy-peasy puddin’ and pie.

BUT NOOOOOUHHHH!  He just opens the cupboard door and randomly shoves stuff in there.  I can just hear the reasoning, "Hey, they’re all things you drink out of, so I got the right cupboard!"

Do you know how hard it is to set the table when you want to use all the short green glasses and you have to rearrange the whole cupboard to find 8 that match?

He also had the audacity one night to set the table with two green glasses, two clear, one taco bell cup, one leftover sippy cup that got lost for a decade ‘cuz it was in the wrong cupboard, and two 7-11 Slurpee cups. 

Speaking of dishes, once he served our daughter, who was two at the time, her morning cereal in a serving bowl with a tablespoon.  It looked like a scene out of Honey I Shrunk the Kids.  He’s ridiculous!

But you know what shows his greatest lack of intelligence?  Choosing a woman who is so finicky, she  needs to live on her own planet.

stuff from june 068                           toilet,

       mAkInG fUn Of mOm                                              What About That Toilet Seat?

mAkInG fUn oF mOmMy – again

Scott and I joke about becoming comedians so we can get paid to make fun of each other. Read the above posts so when this dream comes true you can say, “Hey, I knew those guys before they were famous!”

But, the spirit of the laughing at each other is to prove that even those irritations in a marriage can be used to STRENGTHEN a marriage instead of TEARING it down, if you learn to handle them quickly. 

Laughter is always a good option.  Forgiveness is  a better option.  Changing habits is a good option.  Accepting and loving when something  isn’t changed yet is a better option.

101 Things Husbands Do to Annoy Their Wives

I respect Ray Comfort.  He has publically acknowledged how annoying husbands can be.  He also gives good marriage advice.

Marriage Resolutions from Ray Comfort:

  • Never mention the word “divorce” during an argument.
  • Vow not to let your emotions lead you to say things you will regret.
  • Learn how to say “I’m sorry.”
  • Be aware of your own faults.
  • Agree never to argue in front of your children.
  • Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.


Writing Contest

So, in honor of annoying husbands, I am giving away the above book free in a writing contest.  Leave entertaining comments below about something annoying your husband does.  This is not actually a husband-bashing contest, write in the spirit of making fun of the demands or expectations wives place on husbands. You may enter more than once.  It’s Monday.  We need a few laughs.

A random committee will choose and announce the winner whenever I remember on  Monday, April 22nd. That random committee may or may not include any random people sitting on my couch at that moment and may or may not include random people walking their dog in front of my house on Monday morning. 

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Oh, your comments may or may not be used in random blog posts in the future.  Just warnin’ ya.

Happy Wives ClubMaking your home sing Mondays WholeHeartedButtonExceptionalistic

Where Does Inspiration Come From

Inspiration is a movement of soul, a quiet force that brings change or peace from within.

Inspiration gives the tired mom reason to get up during the night for the fifth time, and still serve her little ones with weary determination the next day.

Inspiration gives the cancer patient the courage to face prognosis and treatment.

Inspiration gives the desk jockey reason to commute and work day, after day, after day.

Inspiration keeps us  living and breathing…   




When inspiration fails, we lose the desire to continue on life’s path. I’m not talking about suicide, I’m talking about  existing instead of living. Life without inspiration is a dark, dreary world, where the rainbow has no color and the bird has no song. Instead they become vague images and sounds instead of touch points to the soul.


Inspiration is the eager breath that greets each new moment with anticipation.

Living an inspired life is having the ability to draw from the spiritual, mental and physical sources around you to cope with all the joys and sorrows of life.

Guess who else used inspiration?


God. But ya’ know what’s really cool about that verse?  The word inspire in the Greek means “blow, wind, to breath to blow.” The Bible is God-breathed.

From the beginning of time, God’s breath has given life.  He began with Adam. Close your eyes and imagine God forming the first man from the dust of the ground, and then breathing life into his nostrils. I’ve made a lot of mud pies in my life, but never one worth saving. This same breath of life and love was breathed into God’s love letter to his created people, the Bible.

But it’s not just about God’s breath, it’s about ours. You know that amazing feeling of holding a baby close? You snuggle them close and feel their delicate cheek and  whispered breaths on your face. You can’t hold them long enough or close enough.

Guess who else feels that way?

God. He longs to have us so  close He feels our breathe on His face. It’s only when we choose to be in His presence that God can lean over and breathe inspiration into our nostrils. He revives us with spiritual life and His written Word.

Where does inspiration come from?  From the God of Heaven whose breath gives life.


How to Get Your Novel Published


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When Gina Holmes published her debut novel, Crossing Oceans, she received high praise from prolifically published authors and won awards. From her website we’re told this novel “was a Christy and Gold Medallion finalist and winner of the Carol Award, INSPY, and RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice, as well as being a CBA, ECPA, Amazon and PW Religion bestseller.”


Crossing Oceans      Dry as Rain   Wings of Glass

Sound like a dream come true? Yes.  But a dream that came with a price. A price she was willing to pay.

Gina Holmes personifies patience and diligence.  If you’re holding onto that dream you’re going to be discovered as a writer and be immediately launched into fame, sit down right now. This news will be hard for you to take. She had to work at her writing.  Yes, she is gifted, talented and called to write, but she says it took ten years to get her first novel published. Notice I said first novel published.  It was the fifth novel she wrote. Learn from her experience in this video below.

“Write and Get Your Novel Published” by Gina Holmes

(More videos by Gina found here.)

Dreams happen while you’re sleeping.  Dreams come true when waking moments are filled with the sweat equity required to perfect your abilities.

Athletes exercise.
          Scholars study.
                    Scientists experiment.

Why do writers think we can write right on the first try? As Gina pointed out, it takes four years to get a college degree, shouldn’t it take at least that long to learn the craft of writing?

I made it easy for you to

follow Gina’s advice.

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  “Get yourself to a writers conference!” 

Although most writers desire to be published, that isn’t our main purpose for writing.  We long to encourage and help people with the words birthed through our own pain and experience.

Darkness hates light and by sharing our experiences even under the guise of fiction, we are able to minister to those who are travelling the path we’ve already come down. By exposing our own sins and secrets, we are able to understand and sympathize in a way those who haven’t gone through what we have can. More than that, we are allowing others to share their struggles and find healing and support.” Gina Holmes

To have our healing words read, they have to be published.
To be published, they have to be written.
To be written, we have to put our butts in that chair.

We’re only one page a day away.

Skills Moms Can’t Put on a Resume

I’ve been a Mommy for 26 years. I know lotsa’ stuff. I’ve earned my gray hair, wrinkles and the jelly-belly that looks like a road map. I feel called to give away some of my hard-earned wisdom and reveal to the younger generation the skills needed to survive this arduous occupation.

There are many qualifications to be a Mommy, but  to keep from overwhelming you with my high standards, I’m keeping it simple.  I’m giving just three qualifications.  Yep, just three.

I’m not being prejudiced by calling them Parental Qualifications,  just honest. These qualifications are rarely achieved by the male species.  If you’re male, go ahead, shoot for the stars and aim for the impossible because the sky’s the limit.  If you can dream it, you can achieve it.  I don’t really believe this, but you can try and then blog about it. Please.  I will read that post. You’d be what my teenage son calls a “Try-Hard.”  Believe me, if a teenager sneers when he says it, you don’t wanna’ be called that.

1. How to Hang Toilet Paper

My daughters moved into their own apartment awhile ago.  We visited this weekend.  I had to use the potty.  No, I wasn’t checking to see if it was clean, I really had to go.  Really, I did.

The toilet paper roll was empty.  The spare roll was on the counter. I laughed out loud.   I knew  they couldn’t live without me! But, no, I didn’t hang the new roll for them. I used Tough Love and left it on the counter.  They gotta’ grow up. I’m cuttin’ the apron strings, baby!

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You see,only highly skilled personal can hang toilet paper.  I’ve blogged about this before.

Toilet paper became a slight obsession because at high tide in our home, we had eight people living here.  According to medical standards, that would be a minimum of 32 voids a day, 11,680 voids a year, using 4 squares each wipe, 46,720 squares, each single roll now has 100 squares, that’s 467 rolls in a year, or 1.28 rolls used per day. Don’t get me started on the 2, 920 bowel movements in a year, not counting illness. Yes, we went through a lotta’ toilet paper. 

Putting up a new roll can be especially hard under duress, like if company is coming or your whole family has the flu. Because this is so difficult,  it’s rare that another family member gains enough confidence and finesse to master this task. You must shoulder the responsibility alone.

Oh, moms also need to know how to reroll and entire roll of toilet paper when a toddler realizes how quickly and how fun it is to unroll an entire roll. I didn’t say IF, I said WHEN.  They also have to learn just how long an entire roll of toilet paper can bob in the clean toilet bowl before being fished out, dried out and still be used.  Just warnin’ ya.

Helpful Hint: To keep people from using too much toilet paper, squish the roll in half before hanging it. The crease keeps it from spinning like a game show contraption and will make it unroll pathetically slow, one square at a time.


2. How to Identify an Empty Milk Carton

If you’re scoffing, you’re not a parent.  Milk Carton Duty takes a brilliant eye and well-honed decision making abilities. Determining when a milk carton is empty and knowing the follow-through required is a skill not usually obtained until late adulthood.

First, use your auditory abilities to  determine the milk content by shaking the closed container.  If you hear splashes, there’s milk in there.  If this were as easy as you’re thinking it is, I wouldn’t need to write this post, would I?  Next, if you aren’t sure if it’s enough to keep, look into the carton to apply optical judgment.

The next step is the hardest part. If the carton is empty, rinse and recycle. If there’s milk left in the container, it goes in the fridge. This is often where mistakes are made. Immature, unskilled people often get confused and put empty containers in the fridge and leave the full ones on the counter to sour.

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This picture was not posed.  As I was blogging away, I wandered into the kitchen for another cup of coffee and found this on my counter.  True story.  It reinvigorated my desire to pass on my words of wisdom for young women of today.

As a Tough Love Mom, you must establish that less than ten drops doesn’t  constitute “there’s milk left”  and those ten drops can be thrown out. If there isn’t enough for a bowl of cold cereal, there isn’t enough milk to keep. Having ice cold milk in the house requires family team work. The weakest link can ruin it for everybody.

Helpful Hint: If offspring are having a hard time remembering to put the milk away, let them go a few days without or drink powdered milk.

3. How to Identify Clean & Dirty  Clothes

As with most Mom jobs, discernment is extremely necessary, especially for Laundry Duty.  A Mom identifies dirty laundry and knows it goes in the hamper. Now you know why I won’t call these Parental Qualifications. If you’re male you might be  mumbling to yourself, “Hamper? What’s a hamper?”

A Mom knows what clothing is clean and needs to be put away in dressers and closets.

It may sound easy to the novice, but in actual family practice this tends to be a highly challenging area. It is not uncommon for Moms to find entire closets, drawers and/or the space under the bed full of dirty clothes after she spent the entire day doing laundry.  It’s inversely obvious that  her hamper can often be  full of clean, folded clothes.


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As with the milk containers, the eyes and the nose are the main tools to achieve this skill set.

Dirty clothes have spots, stains, spills, boogers, food residue, wrappers, candy and misc. items in the pocket and usually give off a tell-tale odor that the article of clothing has come into contact with a smelly child, who has come in contact with pets, flora and fauna, and anything expressly forbidden by Mom, like permanent markers.

Clean clothes do not have spots, stains, spills, food residue and have empty pockets. They will smell like fabric softener.

The above is the hardest part of laundry. The actual chore of choosing the proper detergent, stain removal product, fabric softener and bleaching method, sorting by color, fabric type and weight, choosing the appropriate washing, rinsing and drying temperatures, setting the speed and strength of machine agitation, determining length of wash and dryer time, knowing which fabrics are line dried and which are machine dried, what type of hanger to use for each of the products, best folding techniques for the laundry, and finding those missing socks will seem easy. However, if you need help, consider reading my Laundry Schmaundry series.

Helpful Hint: If the clothes aren’t in the laundry hamper, they don’t get washed. Remind them before you begin, then hold your ground. It’s more about training the Mom than the kids.

If you are highly discouraged at this point, rally, girl, rally!  You can achieve this high level of proficiency with practice.  Just remember, Motherhood is not for Wimps. If you lock yourself in a bathroom and cry over mountains of dirty laundry and soured milk it doesn’t mean you’re a Wimp, it means you’re a Mother.  If you make an escape rope out of the dirty laundry and hurl yourself into the backyard to live in the garden shed, you might be a Wimp and need to toughen up.

But I promise, with more diligent practice you too, will be able to brag about not only surviving motherhood, but having Skills You Can’t Put on a Resume.

Making your home sing Mondays             WholeHeartedButton