A Simple Coffee Cup

Almost started a RIOT!

Since I visit my mother at the Care Center where she lives, during the week, my brother, Danny, usually visits her on the weekends. However, Danny, and his wife, Bea, are moving into their new home over the next two weekends so I told Danny I would look in on mom for the next two weekends as well as during the week.

I arrived at the Care Center this morning at around 10:30 and helped mom do some word puzzles in the activity room until 11:00 when bingo started. Everything stops when bingo starts and I mean everything. The activity director calls out the numbers and if one of the residents doesn’t hear what number was called and asks for the number to be repeated, most of the other “serious” bingo players will scream out the number then tell the person that missed the first call to “shut up” now so they can get on with the game… key word here for me was “GAME“…it’s just a game people… Of course, I know better than to say that out loud in the bingo room. Never in your life, not this girl… 🙂

So, we managed to get through four games of bingo without anyone getting hurt, except perhaps their pride, then it was time to go to the dinning room for lunch. Wow!!! What an experience that was… You see, when I visit mom during the week, I get there around 8:30 a.m. and stay until just before lunch time…so thus far I have been spared the lunchroom scene… After today all I can say is Thank-You Jesus!

Everyone is assigned to a table of four, and under no circumstances do you EVER sit at a table other than the one you have been assigned to. In fact, from what I now understand is an unwritten rule by the residents, you don’t even approach another table. My mother happens to have the first table when you walk in the dining room door so she has a clear view of everyone throughout the entire dining room. But, since my mother’s back is to the door, she doesn’t see the residents as they are coming in or are being brought in by the aides.

So I’m sitting there talking with my mother as residents are coming in and all of a sudden my mother started yelling “you bring that back, you bring that back here right now…” to a woman who had just passed our table. This all happened so fast I didn’t have time to notice what caused the disturbance but I was trying to get my mother to calm down enough to tell me what was wrong. When I was finally able to get mom to tell me what happened she said “that woman just took a coffee cup off our table and it belongs to my tablemate Joan.”

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I looked over and sure enough the woman with her back turned to the camera with the gray sweater on had the coffee cup In question…

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Then, all of a sudden, another resident in a power wheelchair came rolling up almost out of breath saying “I saw exactly what happened and that woman did take that coffee cup off your table. Now I’m thinking, as I’m sure you are by now too, what the hell is the big deal…let’s just get another coffee cup right? Wrong!

Apparently, in the pecking order of things within the Care Center, established by the residents themselves, that goes against all the rules and absolutely will not be tolerated! No, within a few short minutes the whole dining room was in an uproar and residents started taking sides…Now the woman in the power chair started telling my mother if she had been siting at mom’s table when the other resident took the coffee cup, she would have broken her arm! Are you kidding me? I thought this is a Care Center full of “sweet” little old ladies and men, not some prison full of hardened criminals…

So now, that the whole dining room is in complete havoc, one of the aides went over to the woman who started the whole thing by taking the coffee cup off the table she was not assigned too and the aide tried to get the coffee cup back from the woman. But, the woman started screaming and crying and was holding onto the coffee cup so tight the aide couldn’t pry it out of her hands… By this time I turned to my mother and said “if that cup was for your tablemate Joan, where is Joan?” I said “it looks like all the other residents are here so where is Joan?” My mother looked at me and said “Joan isn’t coming to lunch in the dining room today because she is having lunch with her daughter.” OMG, OMG, now I’m thinking I’m having a nightmare! I said to my mother “if Joan is not even coming to the dining room for lunch today what difference did it make if that woman took that coffee cup?” That’s when my mother told me “you just don’t understand that around here, you can’t just let people get away with things or they will just run all over you…”  I was speechless, which if you know me at all, you know that doesn’t happen often…

When I finally found my voice again, I smiled my best smile and said OK would you like to eat your lunch now before it gets cold? Mom wasn’t really convinced I understood the importance of looking out for your tablemate, even if they are not going to be there…but she agreed to eat her lunch of chicken cheese crisp, salsa, refried beans, and chocolate cake, and we left it at that…

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I told mom I was proud she was able to “let the incident go”. She patted my hand and agreed to let me take her picture because I told her I needed it for documentation for my brother, Danny, that I really did participate in the dining room drama at mom’s care center… Let’s just say growing up with Danny, I love him to the moon and back, but I’ve learned to document things, especially if I am doing him a favor…

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Even though the whole dining room drama today was traumatic for all the residents in the dining room, I’ve spent enough time at the care center with my mother, that I’ve come to understand, from observing the residents, some who have family and a few possessions due to lack of space to keep things, and some who have nothing except what is given to them by the care center, they all have a sense of “if it’s mine, or I perceive it to be mine, or I’m watching over it for someone who isn’t here….DON’T TOUCH IT, even if to you it just looks like a simple coffee cup!

Stay Tuned!

It’s All In A Day’s Work

Ever since I retired myself, seven years ago, to take care of family, my husband, Bill, and I have an ongoing commentary about how all the cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, taxi driving etc. around our house gets done. I tell Bill I’m retired but the “maid” is coming tomorrow to which he usually replies “well you better make sure she does a really good job for all the money we’re paying her…” Then, when Bill comes home from work I’ll tell him “the maid was here today while I was relaxing at the spa…and I think she did a GREAT job, don’t you?” Bill will agree and say I think we just might need to give her a big raise.. and so our little playtime goes on and on every week…just plain insider fun between the two of us…

Well, yesterday, while “I”, not the maid, was finishing up dinner, I went to reach for the salt shaker for Shantel and look what happened to me. I don’t cook with salt so I keep the big, heavy, salt shaker in those little cabinets just above the microwave. You know the ones that you really need a step stool to reach? Well, when I was reaching to get the salt shaker, I must have bumped it and it fell out of the cabinet right on my face cutting me just at the end of my eye and caused me to bleed like crazy…. I had to hold a cold compress on it for a long time to stop the bleeding. It was just a tiny cut but I always heard face wounds bleed more and now I believe it!

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Well, while I was standing in the bathroom trying to stop the bleeding, Bill came in and asked me if he could do anything to help. I told him, no thank-you, I’ve got it under control, but if I were you…I would make sure your workwoman’s compensation insurance is up to date because this accident is job related seeing how our cook had the day off today…:) Bill just laughed and said “oh, I have really good workwoman’s compensation and will take care of all your needs…he went on to say I would probably get a trip out of this like to Vermont…” I shut that down right away reminding him Vermont is my earned vacation… and I told him with the way my head is hurting, and I’m already getting a black eye…, I’m starting to see a whole new trip in my future…why who knows, this could possibly be a work related concussion that will require weeks of rehabilitation in a really fun-filled place… We decided we would sleep on that… 🙂

Now, this morning, I got all ready for my day of visiting my mother, running errands, grocery shopping etc. I put my make-up on and I don’t think my black eye looks too bad, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt, a lot, and still needs lots of sympathy and TLC don’t you think?

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I decided to wear my multi colored vest today to distract people from looking at my black eye because I didn’t want anyone to think I am an abused woman… That didn’t work too well because everyone at the Care Center where my mother lives wanted to know what happened to my eye. And, if anyone didn’t happen to notice my black eye…my mother would point it out to them…even after I brought her a big batch of fresh strawberries which are her favorite treat.

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Well, no harm done and we all had a good laugh about it. I guess that’s all that really matters anyway. 🙂

When I got home I tried to tell my kitty, Carmen, all about my day, and how everyone was laughing about my black eye, but she was more interested in having her down time to relax and suggested I do the same…

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As soon as I get dinner prepped I just might take her up on that but I believe I’ll do my relaxing in the pool… It’s just all in a day’s work!

Stay Tuned!

Cooking Up A Storm

Sunday’s, at our house, is always centered around family and cooking. We all love to cook and this past Sunday we all had an opportunity to showcase our culinary talents.

My husband, Bill, got things rolling on Saturday when he smoked bone in, skin on, chicken, that I later turned into several culinary delights for the rest of the week! More on that in a minute.

After church, and breakfast, that included some farm fresh eggs Bill and I picked up at our local Gilbert Farmer’s Market, I helped our daughter, Shantel prepare a homemade peach cobbler that included the farm fresh peaches we purchased at the farmer’s market on Saturday. Take a look.

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Once the cobbler was out of the oven and cooling, I prepared smoked chicken Panini’s, using fresh torta bread, for lunch. Yum!

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After lunch, I whipped up smoked chicken pasta salad so it could sit in the refrigerator overnight where all the smoky goodness could seep into the pasta and vegetables. This is one of my all time favorite meals, and I can’t hardly wait to have some for dinner tonight. I serve it with just a side of fresh multi-grain bread and call it dinner.  Just add a glass of wine and your all set. 🙂

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While I prepared the smoked pasta salad, Bill was preparing a wonderful homemade BBQ sauce for the BBQ chicken Shantel asked he make so she would have plenty for her lunch/dinner/s over the next few days. The only protein Shantel eats is chicken or turkey so we try to accommodate her when we can. But I have to say that BBQ chicken Bill made was some of he best I’ve ever had…

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Shantel also loves any kind of greens…and yesterday, we cooked up these beautiful turnip greens. Slow cooked throughout the day. Really, really, delicious.

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I also prepared a beautiful farm fresh cucumber and tomato salad with feta cheese drizzled with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing…YUMMERS!

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Now, fast forward to this morning, and look at this. I made these fire roasted, quinoa/cheese stuffed, poblano peppers for our dinner tomorrow. All I have to do is pop them in my outside oven and dinner’s on the way.

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I will serve the pablano peppers with my homemade tomatillo salsa verde I made using fresh, fire roasted, tomatillos.

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OMG does life get any better than this? Just a few more reasons why I so LOVE  cooking up a storm, especially in the good old summertime.

I just might be ready for my own cooking show…do you think?… I’ll work on it. 🙂

Stay Tuned!

If You Can’t Grow It, Buy It

But buy it Farm Fresh!

My family is now committed to supporting our local farmers, and are now visiting, and buying, from our local Gilbert Farmers Market, which is open year round, from 7-11 a.m, every Saturday morning. What a fun-filled way to spend the morning.. And, if you are of the mindset, they have a variety of choices for breakfast at the Market.

I always wanted to live on a farm, or better yet, a working ranch, where I could have horses to ride anytime I wanted, and chickens to get fresh eggs from everyday, and grow a beautiful garden like I hear other people talk about…. If you ever lived that life…you were living my dream…Well, that plan, for me, never came to pass…However, that never detoured me from always trying to have some of those things in my life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to plant a beautiful garden in the spring only to find myself calling the time of death of each plant by the beginning of summer… Some plants just died period, some were eaten by birds, like all of my tomatoes I planted even though my husband, Bill, bought enough plastic mesh to wrap our entire neighborhood in an effort to keep the birds off my two tomato plants…but, still, I never gave up on trying to find a way to have farm fresh food for my family to enjoy… 🙂

Bill and I visited several farmers markets when we lived in Ahwatukee, but for us, it wasn’t anything I would shout for joy about…just some veggies that looked like what I could buy at my local Fry’s food store and more often than not, the market was more about people showing off their craft projects than locally grown fruits/veggies from our local farmers. As time went on we just didn’t attend the “farmers markets” anymore.

But, that was then, and this is now and I am shouting for JOY that Bill and I attended the Gilbert Farmers Market early this morning and  BOOM!!! We hit pay dirt BIG time… Now, I am so sorry to say I didn’t take my camera to the Gilbert’s Farmers Market, real photographers would think about that, but goof offs like me…,sometimes don’t. 🙂

I am almost embarrassed to say that we have lived in the Chandler/Gilbert area now for a year this past April and I just now found out about this FABULOUS Gilbert Farmers Market that is practically in our own back yard… but what really matters is I did find it, and Bill and I went this morning, and I am happy to report we found so many great farm fresh things for us to enjoy this week. Take a look.

The heirloom tomatoes and beautiful fresh basil we will have for dinner tonight with fresh mozzarella cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to create our salad… That will be pared with the chicken Bill smoked today.. More on that smoked chicken later.:) The poblano peppers will be stuffed with a Weight Watchers friendly quinoa, corn, black bean, and cheese filling and served with a fresh salad later in the week. The farm fresh peaches will become Chef Shantel’s peach cobbler for desert tomorrow, along with her recipe for BBQ chicken which Bill will prepare to her orders… I can’t eat sweets, but if I could, I would be all over that peach cobbler… 🙂

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Moving on, take a look at the farm fresh eggs we found today which will be part of our Sunday breakfast tomorrow…OMG white, light green, brown etc…what is not to love? I can’t wait…

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We also happened upon a booth that has everything pickled you could ever want… we picked these beautiful bread & butter pickles this week but will be back to try many, many, more…

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And, of course, we couldn’t pass up the speciality popcorn booth with offerings such as dill pickle, buffalo wing, fruity, camel, kettle, and many, many, more . Our daughter, Shantel  put in her request saying “if you see any speciality popcorn booths please get me some”…Ask and you shall receive… Oh, by the way she did say “thanks mom/papa”.

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So, all in all we came away feeling really good that we were able to purchase farm fresh food, from our local farmers, and we had such a fun-filled time visiting with every vendor… We will be back again next week.

P.S. That smoked chicken my husband spent all day smoking….will be for dinner tonight. Then, I will make smoked chicken panni’s tomorrow, and the real reason I wanted Bill to smoke chicken is I make a wonderful smoked chicken pasta salad… the secret I will share with you is you must have fresh smoked chicken, then pull it off the bone and use it in you chicken pasta salad recipe, but the real secret is to make it the day before you want to serve it so the smoke flavor goes all through the pasta and other ingredients… Try it, you’ll love it!!! 🙂

Stay Tuned

It’s All Working

You might remember past postings of mine when I spoke at length about how I am less than pleased, to say the least, about the fact that we have scorpions around our new home in Chandler Arizona. I HATE, HATE, HATE, scorpions to the point that I was ready to move stating that I have lived in Arizona all my life and I’ve never once ever seen a scorpion in or around any home I ever lived in until we moved into my little dream home here in Chandler. That’s also when I found out from my neighbors that scorpions are not only here and there to be seen once in a while… no, they are everywhere and “you just have to get used to them”… Not this girl! Never in your life will you ever see or hear of me “just swat them off the wall or hunt them down with a black light and kill them… never, ever, not even on a bet will that ever happen in my life.

However, after a year of therapy  that included EMDR, with one of the best therapist in the valley, I’ve come a long, long, way since I had my first encounter last year with the first scorpion in my new home. Prior to therapy/EMDR when I saw a scorpion, my heart would immediately start pounding like it was going to jump out of my chest, I would stat sweating and shaking and felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I would get the scorpion killer spray and spray almost a whole can on the nasty thing to be sure it was dead. Then, I would get the long BBQ tongs to pick it up and carry it to the back porch where I would smash it with a long-handled hammer, just to be sure it wasn’t just stunned and going to wake up and come after me… do you remember me posting all that?

Well, fast forward to today…I was bringing in the trash can after the trash truck emptied it and as I was putting it back where it belongs along side of the house…I happened to look down into the gravel and saw a huge scorpion right by my foot. I can spot those nasty things anywhere… but, I also noticed it didn’t move and in fact it looked pretty stiff. So, I took off my flip-flop and gave it a little nudge. I would never ever have done that last year at this same time…The scorpion didn’t move so I determined it was in fact dead and I noticed it had in fact crawled through the white powder stuff that my husband, Bill, puts down every month all along the outside of our house and along the inside of our fence. Now, keep in mind we do not have any small children, or pets that go outside. And this is one of the things we do that allows me to continue to stay here in my beautiful new dream home.

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Now that I knew the scorpion was in fact dead, I went and got my little tweezers, picked it up and took pictures of  it so I could document the event here on my blog for Shantel and my family and friends to read about and share in my joy over how far I’ve come.

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Now, please notice the difference in the size of the instrument I used to pick the scorpion up. Last year I used the long BBQ tongs, this year I used my tiny little tweezers…now that’s progress for sure right?

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I still HATE scorpions and I’m guessing I always will. But, at least now I don’t feel like I’m going to have a heart attack or panic attack when I see one, especially if it’s already dead. And, I don’t even see a need for me to have to find out what I would feel if I found another live scorpion inside my house…I just pray I won’t have to find out and in the meantime I’ll keep working with my wonderful therapist because that’s what she’s there for and I have no shame asking for help when I need it and from where I sit, It’s All Working!

When I told Shantel about the scorpion incident today she said “I don’t care as long as they don’t come in or around me”.

Stay Tuned!

My Bill

My funny, funny, Bill, aka, Papa, aka Bro.

Since yesterday was Father’s Day, I wanted to help Shantel make Bill’s special day everything her Papa, my husband, Bill/Bro wanted it to be for him. We started the day off giving Bill his Father’s Day cards. After reading several cards to Shantel she picked this one for her Papa. I told Bill Shantel sure has him pegged right wouldn’t you say?

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This card was the first card I picked up and I thought it was perfect for my Bill.

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After church, I made Bill his favorite breakfast of potatoes, eggs, mushrooms, with roast beef and swiss cheese melted on top of it all. Not exactly Weight Watchers friendly, but we decided this weekend was special and we would get right back on track on Monday.

After breakfast, the day was all Bill’s to do whatever he wanted to do. He decided he wanted to just relax in the “man cave’ and watch races on TV. Our cat, Carmen, decided that might be a perfect place for her to relax too.

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For dinner, Bill wanted pizza from Oregano’s and Guinness Black Lager. So that’s what he got!

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Bill hasn’t had anything to drink for about three months as he has been dedicated to his Weight Watchers program. So, the effects of this Guinness Black Lager seemed to hit him pretty fast…this is Bill enjoying his first Guinness. 🙂

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After dinner we moved to the family room where Bill, Shantel, and I visited and enjoyed each other’s company, and Bill enjoyed a second bottle of Guinness while I was enjoying my wine. Bill said “after not having anything to drink for three months, this tastes sooooooooooo good.” 🙂

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A short while later Bill said “oh what the hell, it’s Father’s Day, I think I’m going to enjoy one more Guinness”. That’s when things got really funny… 🙂 A commercial for Soy Sauce was on TV when I said “if we were going to track your Father’s Day food/drinks, I wouldn’t even know where to start”.  Bill started laughing so hard he could hardly talk. When he finally got his breath, he looked at me as if he had good sense right then and said “buy Kikkoman’s.”  Well, then I started laughing with him, and the more I laughed the more he laughed until we both were laughing so hard we were crying… and that got Shantel laughing too… I mean we had the best time right there in our family room, just the three of us, laughing up a storm over absolutely nothing…but that’s just one of the MANY reasons why I so LOVE my funny, funny Bill.

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I guess you had to be there!

Stay Tuned!

The B-Day Parties Are Over

Our daughter, Shantel, turned 20 today, June 16th, 2013. However, since today is Father’s Day, my husband, Bill, aka Bro, and I hosted her birthday party yesterday and informed her that it would be the last birthday party we will host. You see, we have a tradition in our family of  not buying Christmas gifts for anyone in our family who are over the age of 18. And, as hard as I tried to implement that same age limit for hosting birthday parties for our adult children, Shantel filibustered us into agreeing to extend the birthday party age limit to 20 years of age.  Seeing how she is the last adult child living at home…that worked out really well for her right?

Anyway…In the past, we have had birthday swim parties for Shantel that included her entire class as well as all of our family and extended family and friends. Both Bill/Bro and I love to entertain family and friends and Shantel always enjoyed  being part of any event we hosted over the years, but she especially enjoys knowing a party we were hosting is in her honor such as her birthday etc.

At Shantel’s request, we ordered Macyo’s mini chicken chimi’s, black beans and rice with chips and extra chunky salsa. She also requested a chocolate cake with whipped frosting decorated with red roses from Fry’s food store. Don’t know what difference the color makes to her but that is what she ordered and that is what she got. 🙂

The first order of the day was to pick up my mother at the care center and bring her home for the party. Sounds easy but we have a SUV which is higher than a car and more difficult for mom to get into. So Bill/Bro and I pushed mom in her wheelchair to the side of the vehicle, had her stand and turn around, and almost had to shove her into the vehicle because she couldn’t get up high enough to get her butt in the seat. It really wasn’t a pretty sight but we managed it, and told her she was having fun now…

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Once we arrived at home, the next hurdle as to get mom out of the SUV and into the house. We pushed her in her wheelchair to the front door, then had her stand and try to step over the front door step…again, not a pretty sight, because mom drags one leg, due to a stroke, and couldn’t get that leg up high enough to get over the threshold of the door. And, to make matters worse, Bill/Bro starts saying things to make mom start laughing which renders her useless to try to help herself in any way. Bill/Bro was in front of mom holding onto her hands, while I was behind her trying to help her lift her legs…when she started laughing she leaded back and was almost sitting on my head…. I had to finally tell Bill/Bro if he and mom didn’t stop laughing, and get mom into the house, I was going to shut the door and leave them both out there to themselves… 🙂 Oh what we do and call it FUN!!! Right?

We finally got mom in the house, and Shantel welcomed her to her birthday party.

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As much as I wanted to get pictures of the food, I was too late on the draw. I know my Frissy will be disappointed with me because of that… But…,because as with many parties, once the fun begins, you, or at least I, forgot to take a picture BEFORE the beautiful party tray of food didn’t look so beautiful anymore…and, that goes for the cake as well…but I did get a picture of what is left of the cake that Shantel will make short work of within the next few days…

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Shantel receive beautiful birthday cards,

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and several gift cards for her birthday. She was so excited when she learned she had gift cards for iTunes as well as pre-paid Visa gift cards, and she is already asking when we can go to Arizona Mills Mall where she knows she can get the most for her birthday Visa dollars…

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This being the last birthday party Bill/Bro and I will host for Shantel, we were so grateful that my cousin, Tracie, and our dear friend Megan, and her beautiful twin granddaughters, Kaley, and Lily, and my mother, were all able to come together to share this special time with Shantel. My brother, Danny and his wife, Bea were not able to attend because they were packing to move into the new home they just had built, and our dear friends Holly and Chuck couldn’t attend because it was their grandson’s birthday as well, and of course they needed to be there to celebrate with him…Danny, Bea, Holly and Chuck were certainly missed but we completely support and  understand why they couldn’t be with us.

So, for me, as Shantel’s mother, this was a bitter/sweet final birthday party. But, I have 20 years of birthday party memories to look back on with Shantel.  And, I told Shantel now that she is an adult… I would welcome her hosting a birthday party for me on my next birthday…seeing how I never had a birthday party as an adult…she said “I don’t think so mom…I wouldn’t have a clue what to do…” Are you kidding me…??? In 20 years, my soon to be college graduate, who will have earned her first degree, only learned book work and …learned nothing about how to host a PARTEEE from ME???  If that is true…I want a do over. 🙂

Stay Tuned!

A Beautiful New Day

Up and out of the house at 5:00 a.m. for my early morning walk while listing to my favorite tunes. Went through one of my neighborhood parks where I often see the same early morning walkers. Some of them with their dogs who are happy to run through the sprinklers and chase birds across the beautiful green grass. I walked through some of the sprinklers myself this morning. At that point I was about half way through my walk and the cool water felt so good.

Back home, I had breakfast of the patio, and listened to the birds chirping and the doves cooing…

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as I waited for the pool cleaning system to finish vacuuming the pool. That was my job in the past, and I’m grateful I don’t have to do that anymore.

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When the pool was ready, I jumped in and started my water exercises. I found out those pool noodles make great push-up bars. You just get in the deep end of the pool, put two, or more, together and use them to do push-ups in the water. Let me tell you when your finished you’ll really feel the workout it gives your arms.

When my water exercises were completed, I headed back into the house, and my precious little kitty, Carmen, was waiting at the door for me just like she does everyday… She doesn’t look like a vicious wild animal that my daughter, Shantel, says attacks her feet when I’m not around, now does she?

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I think Shantel might be telling stories on Carmen…:)

This day just keeps getting better, and better, because now Shantel and I are getting ready to go to Maggie’s Place where we will provide house coverage and we get to play with all the new-born babies. Then, when our shift is over, I’m taking Shantel out to lunch at Habit Grill. She’s been wanting to try this place because they have turkey burgers, fresh tuna steak sandwiches, veggie burgers, and lots of other healthy foods…I guess we will see if this place really does become a ‘Habit”.

And, while all that is going on, I have fresh shrimp in a bag in the refrigerator, in a little bit of olive oil and old bay seasoning, that will get grilled outside on the BBQ this evening and I will use them to make soft shrimp tacos for our dinner tonight. YUMMERS!

These are just some of the reasons why I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE summertime…and why I’m grateful for every Beautiful New Day!

Wishing all our friends and family lots of summertime fun too!

Stay Tuned!

Thank You

For all the heartfelt support from so many of my family and friends in response to my post titled “family dynamics” where I posted my daughter, Katie’s, response to my blog post titled “love from a distance”. Your calls, emails and texts, meant so much to me.

I so appreciate all of you who have known me all my life and know how I raised my daughter, Katie. Who know she was raised in a good home. Who know I worked in daycare most of her childhood just so I could take her with me so she never had to be left with a babysitter, and who certainly know I would never, ever, leave Katie anywhere and certainly not in any shelter. I appreciate all of you who know my Katie is in need of professional help right now but is in denial and that is why she can not be in our lives right now. However, the door will always be open to her when she gets the help she needs to be healthy. If and when that happens we will welcome her home. In the meantime I will continue to love her from a distance.

My stepdaughter, Katie, (for those who don’t know my husband, Bill also has a daughter named Katie) called me in tears Saturday to let me know she read my blog and she just couldn’t believe that my daughter, Katie, could ever say the things she said. My stepdaughter said she was there and she knows that Katie gave Shantel up of her own free will but that she also knows Bill and I constantly asked Katie to be part of our lives and stay connected with Shantel which Katie did at her own convenience but never with any consistency. My stepdaughter said “how dare Katie say she wishes she had never allowed Bill and I to adopt Shantel. Because, if Shantel hadn’t been with us she would be dead. The cancer was advancing to her brain and would have killed her within six weeks if she had not been treated immediately…But, Katie never questioned the doctors about Shantel’s condition.” Then, my stepdaughter and I talked about how to make matters worse, Katie wouldn’t even stay for Shantel’s surgeries stating she had to take her son, Marcus’s father to get his check cashed…Marcus’s father, the man who told Katie Bill and I were having Shantel’s eyes taken out so she wouldn’t know she was black…that’s the kind of people Katie would rather be with instead of her own family and her biological daughter, Shantel, when she was having her eyes removed leaving her blind for life.

My daughter, Shantel, was very upset with Katie’s response as well. We talked at length about it and she said she wants to know if Katie didn’t intend to give her up for adoption, why did Katie write a letter to Shantel five years ago saying she gave her up so Shantel would be safe because Katie couldn’t provide a safe home for her? Shantel still has that letter. Shantel also said “to hear Katie tell it…Bill and I basically kidnaped Shantel, locked her away somewhere and brain washed her and if that were true why did Katie not go to the police and have us thrown in prison for kidnapping?” Bill, Shantel, and I, and all our family and friends who know us, and lived through all of this with us, know that what Katie is telling simply is not true. However, somehow she has convinced herself that what she is saying is true. Sounds like drugs, alcohol, and guilt talking to me, and there is help for that but you have to want it.

What I know to be true is, Bill, and I stepped up and did the job Katie couldn’t or wouldn’t do. Katie asked us to take Shantel and we did. We had legal guardianship of Shantel for a year thinking Katie might change her mind but she never said anything about wanting Shantel back so after a year passed we talked about adoption, and Katie said she thought that would be the best thing. We told her we needed to buy a house to raise Shantel in as we were living in an adult only community at the time. We told Katie she needed to be sure because we couldn’t afford to make that kind of financial commitment if she wasn’t sure this would be the best thing for Shantel. Katie agreed so we moved forward. Now, all these years later, when Shantel has grown into the beautiful young woman she is today, Katie wants to come forward and say she never intended to give Shantel up. Well, I know better than that.

I was with Katie when she signed the termination of parental rights papers. Then, Bill and I had to put an ad in the newspaper, everyday for a month, trying to locate Shantel’s biological father or any of his family to see if they wanted to contest the adoption. No one came forward to contest the adoption. No one, including Katie. So Bill and went forward with the adoption because we love Shantel and we gave her a good and happy life.

Bill and I were there for Shantel every single day. Bill and I were there when Shantel was diagnosed with cancer. Bill and I flew her to L.A. Children’s hospital trying to save her life and her eyes. Bill and I sat with her through hours and hours of chemo. Bill and I held her and calmed her when she was waiting to go to surgery to have her eyes removed. Bill and I offered to give her our own eyes. Bill and I carried her to the operating room and handed her over to the doctors then collapsed into each other’s arms and sobbed for what our precious Shantel had to face.  And it was Bill and I that took her home and helped teach her to “see with her hands”. That’s what I know to be true and I won’t let Katie, or anyone, diminish one moment of what Bill and I did for our precious Shantel. Katie was nowhere to be found then or now and never once offered any help in any way, not once. That’s what I know to be true and from where I sit it sure didn’t look like Katie was trying to be a loving, caring mother to Shantel then or now. Real mother’s don’t step in and out of their children’s lives when it suits them. They are there for all of it, the good, the bad, and even the ugly…That’s what I know to be true.

Bill and I stepped up and did the right thing for our beautiful daughter, Shantel, and if we had to do it all over again we would. That’s the depth of our love.

Thank you again to all our friends and family for your showering of love and support. We are truly blessed.

Stay Tuned!

Birthday Party

Yesterday, our neighbors across the street had a birthday party for one of their children. We watched as a children’s party rental company set up a HUGE water slide/pool in their backyard for the special event.

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Once the water slide/pool was in place, our neighbors spent the rest of the morning, and early afternoon, preparing their backyard for the party guests.. They put up several umbrella’s to provide lots of shade and set up lots of food and beverage stations. In addition, they had party decorations everywhere…I know by the time the party started the parents had to be exhausted, but they kept smiling and welcoming each and every child and parent that came to join in the birthday celebration.

When the party guests arrived, the fun was on…the neighborhood was filled with the joyful sound of children laughing and squealing with delight as they climbed the ladder in the middle of the slide and waited their turn to slide down into the fresh, cool, water below…

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When our daughter, Shantel, heard all the laughing and commotion going on and on, she asked what was happening. I told her about the huge water slide/pool our neighbors had in their yard for the children’s birthday party. As I was trying to explain how huge the water slide/pool was to Shantel, she said “oh, how cool, I wish I could have had something like that for my birthday when I was little.” I explained to Shantel that we always had big birthday parties for her every year, and when she was in the third or fourth grade, we had a huge bouncing house set up in our backyard for two days for her birthday party. I told her how she and I bounced in the bouncing house for hours the day before the party, and in fact I couldn’t hardly get her to come out of the bounce house because she said she wanted to sleep in it that night. I told her on the day of the party, all the party guests bounced in the bouncing house with her. Shantel said she doesn’t remember any of that… Are you kidding me? It made me think of how many times parents spend lots of money on Christmas or birthday gifts for their children only to find they would rather play in the box the gifts came in…go figure!

I wanted to go across the street and tell our neighbor not to be offended if in fifteen years or so their child says he doesn’t remember anything about the water slide/pool party they spent all their time and money on to make his special day “special”…but, I decided some things you just can’t warn people about, they just have to find out for themselves…It’s all just part of the journey of life:)

I can hardly believe our beautiful daughter, Shantel, is turning 20 on June 16th.  We are having a gathering of friends and family to celebrate her special day. Shantel’s placed her order for the food and the cake she wants. It’s funny, no matter how old she gets…she still wants to have a birthday party…That’s our girl!

Stay Tuned!

Previous Older Entries

Wheeling It: Tales From a Nomadic Life

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

the next few years

family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

Gotham Girl Chronicles

a mixture of random musings...life in NYC...travel...photography...cycling

Blooming Burgh Boomer

Living An Active Full Life

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