Grandpa Mike’s Wisdom

JMJ  *To support himself and his family during the Great Depression, he did all kinds of odd jobs.  On-the-job training was the norm, as he would often tell prospective employers that he had skills which he did not in truth possess!  

Ring the School Bell 141/180 Days

Grandpa Mike, my husband’s father, began his life’s journey on July 15, 1918, almost 100 years ago.  He passed away on March 30, 2014 at the age of 95 years old.  Although the last few years he was mostly silent due to dementia, the decades I knew him, he was an awesome father-in-law.

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To support himself and his family during the Great Depression, he did all kinds of odd jobs.  On-the-job training was the norm, as he would often tell prospective employers that he had skills which he did not in truth possess!  He was a boxer for a time, earning $5 a fight, back when $5 was about two weeks worth of wages.  He also joined the Civilian Conservation Corps to put out forest fires in Oregon, built new trails in the wilderness, was a dancer in the old movie classics, all before settling in as a costumer  for the movie studios, mostly working for Michael Landon’s Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven.  With a twinkle in his eye, he loved recounting adventures he had had, and we loved listening to him.

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Mike’s mind left a long time before his body did, but through it all, he still had an amazing joy of living.  At first, he was very aware that he was losing his mind, and was perplexed as to why he would forget things.  My wonderful brother-in-law, Paul, took such good care of him until the end, and would bring him by the house for special occasions.  Mike could not remember our names after a while, but would refer to me as “that lady who packs up food for Robert”, who would usually be waiting for a care package back at his house.  It amazed me that although he could not fully participate in the conversation any longer, he still remembered that Robert would appreciate some food.

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Until the very end, he still loved a good meal and would be gracious as a guest.  He answered simple questions with a smile.

I will miss Grandpa Mike, although I know he must be in a better place.

What wisdom can I glean from Grandpa Mike’s 95 years?

  • Laugh heartily.  Whenever I hear my husband do so, I am reminded of Grandpa Mike.  They laugh in the same manner.  I am convinced that laughter heals the mind, body and soul.
  • Share your story.  My father-in-law loved to sit around the dining room table and regale us with adventures he had experienced, such as the time his car had almost careened down a cliff. He had fallen asleep at the side of the road, when a police officer knocked on his window to let him know to get out of the car very slowly.  Apparently, the front passenger wheel was dangling over the cliff.  Once misstep and it could have unbalanced the car with probable fatal consequences. No matter that we had heard this story on numerous occasions, it was always entertaining to hear.  Take the time and share “your” story with others.
  • Listen to the advice of your elders.  After all, they have been on this planet longer than you, and may have some very sound advice to share.  Ponder what they say.  Tap into their experience.  Don’t just blow it off.
  • Stay physically active.  Grandpa Mike diligently swam at the YMCA, with his wife Virginia, well into his eighties.  Somehow, I think this may be related to living well and living long!
  • Have a purpose.  Grandpa Mike lived for his family.  He lived a full life with his wife and two of his sons, one with mental difficulties, until the very end.

Thank you for your wisdom, love and laughter Grandpa Mike.  You will live on in our hearts forever.

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette

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Sarah

 

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Touched by an Earthly Angel

JMJ140  *Being blessed twice in one day, made me think of what I can do today to put a smile on someone else’s face.  There will always be those that have less than I have or are in need of some immediate solace or help. 

Ring the School Bell 140/180 Days

I do believe in angels, and not only those of the heavenly variety.  I believe that at certain times in my life, when I have felt quite desperate, that God used ordinary people to comfort and give me hope.

To say that I was feeling depressed this week is an understatement.  I have been on the verge of tears all week.  It was such a great shock to us to find out that our finances were so dismal and much worse than I thought.  Barely meeting bills is one thing.  Not setting aside enough to pay Uncle Sam is quite another.  It catches up with you.

We were given very poor advice by a “so-called” professional.  No matter whose fault it was, the bottom line is that we should have been setting aside a lot more than what we have been, in order to pay the tax tab for last year.  We filed for an extension in order to figure out what we need to do to pay our taxes, which amount to a five figure total, approaching $10,000 dollars.  Yikes.

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When a financial crisis hits, facial tissue can seem superfluous. Why not use the toilet paper to blow your nose?  Rags take the place of paper towels to clean up spills, all the colors go in the same wash, and trips to the regular market are replaced by trips to the 99 Cents Only Store, where off-brand staples can save you a few dimes.  Thrift stores become the go-to for everyday wear.  (I have to say I do love thrift stores in good times and bad!)

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Enter the local angel.  He showed up in the JoAnn,s fabric and craft store parking lot, with bag in hand.  Earlier this month, John had backed up his Honda Civic into the van which was parked in the driveway.  Not wanting to pay the $600 repair estimate, we decided just to live with the unattractive bumper.  This gentleman offered to fix  the big dent for only $75. It sounded too good to be true.  I checked with John, who gave the guy the green light to do his thing.  He had a tool which looked somewhat like a hair dryer, that he explained would soften the plastic bumper, in order to “punch out” and reshape the bumper back to its original state.  I ran inside Joann’s, came back out 20 minutes later, and I have to say the bumper looked quite grand.  He offered to paint the scratches back at his shop, but it truly looked great as it was, a 100% improvement!

angel-wings-love-white-52718.jpegEnter angel #2.  While in JoAnn’s, I realized that I had forgotten my coupons which would have been worth about $5 to me, a significant amount of money right now in my life.  No sooner than I had realized this, I ran into my friend Michelle, who offered me her coupons from her smart phone at the cash register so that I could save a few dollars.  What a godsend!

Being blessed twice in one day, made me think of what I can perhaps do this week, to put a smile on someone else’s face.  There will always be those that have less or are in need of some immediate solace or help.

After a little brainstorming, I came up with a few easy ideas:

  • Write a letter to my brother in prison.  He feels so all alone sometimes.
  • Buy fresh flowers for my mother-in-law for our visit this weekend.  She hardly gets out these days.
  • Take the family to John’s (my husband) chiropractic office for an adjustment and support.
  • Pick up the phone and call my friend, whose daughter had surgery today.
  • Give a box of nutrition bars to a homeless person in our neighborhood.

There are a hundred more ideas I could probably think of.

Brainstorm some of your own ideas.

It takes little effort to do these things, but it takes even less effort not to do them!

The world would be a better place for you and me, if we took just a little time every day to be there for those around us.

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette

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Sarah

Board Games Anyone? The Benefits of Family Game Night

JMJ135  *”Although I am partial to Candyland, I especially like games that require mental strength, where I have a stake in the outcome.  Hey Mom, do you think we can invite some friends over and have a game tournament soon?” -my 19-year-old

Ring the School Bell 135/180 Days

Today I enjoyed the Game of Life board game with my ray of “Sunshine”, my sparkling  “Twinkle Star” and sweet “Honeybee” (the girls’ childhood nicknames) Remembering it was a very long game when I played in my youth, I made sure I had set aside a couple of hours to play.  Apparently that was not enough, as it took us 3 hours to complete the cycle of life!    

Melissa and Sarah kept hitting Sabrina and I with lawsuits during the course of the game, each time at a whopping cost of $100,000.  After a while, we would just split the tab.  Okay, so that tactic was not in the rule book, but it was all in fun.  At one point well into the game, Sabrina was given the choice to buy a larger home.  She was pondering the idea, when Melissa, then 12, blurted out,  “Why would you want to buy a new home when you spend all of your time on the road?”  (referring to the small plastic car tokens which we used to navigate through the game of life towards “millionaire acres” or “countryside cottages”)  We all exploded with laughter, and laughed until our bellies ached. 

I actually won with $1.4 million dollars, a small margin of victory over the others. 

I kind of forgot how much fun it is to play board games.

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We have a chest full of games, but the kids are the ones playing Yahtzee, Scrabble, Apples to Apples, Monopoly, Candyland, Battleship and the Game of Life.  

We can get so caught up on what needs to get done as adults that we miss out on this old-fashioned fun.  As the following quote illustrates, even the big kids love board games.

Although I am partial to Candyland, I especially like games that require mental strength, where I have a stake in the outcome.  Hey Mom, do you think we can invite some friends over and have a game tournament soon?” -my 19-year-old

I am all in favor of bringing back the game night!

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What are the benefits of Family Game Night?

  • You really need not read any further than this reason.  It brings the family together, while having a blast at the same time.  The really cool thing is, it can be fun for all ages, and as the kids get older, the games evolve also.  Sarah, my 19-year-old, loves the friendly banter that playing games generates.  Also games are multi-generational, which makes them a great activity for grandparents to share with their grandkids.  For instance, Grandpa Claude and Melissa shared hours of fun together as Sudoku puzzle-solvers.
  • Good sportsmanship skills are developed.  It may take a while, but learning to accept defeat is a valuable skill to learn.  Of course, it is fun to win all the time, but it is more important to learn how to lose a game gracefully, and be happy for the other player.  This comes with age and practice.  Other social skills learned through playing board games include negotiating, following rules, taking turns, sharing ideas, and asking for what you need to move forward in the game.  All these can translate into real life contexts.
  • Vocabulary development can be a side benefit to playing board games, especially with games like Scrabble, Balderdash, or Apples to Apples.  Many times there are equivalent junior games that are more age appropriate for the younger crowd, such as Scrabble Junior or Apples to Apples Junior.  Kids will improve their skills here without even realizing it!  And for little kids learning the alphabet, games like letter Bingo are awesome.
  • Critical thinking skills develop as kids are playing board games and asking themselves the questions,  “What will my next move be?”  “What strategy should I use?”  For us adults, we are exercising and stretching our own minds!
  • Stress reduction through camaraderie and laughter is a huge benefit in playing board games.  Things can get pretty hysterical when our family plays board games.  And the big kids, us, get to be kids again, even if just for a short while!

Rules for Game Night:

  • Turn off the electronics.  Put the smart phone in the other room so that you don’t hear those tempting notification tones, lest you are tempted to take a look and get distracted from the game.
  • Take turns selecting games.
  • Make it intentional.  Don’t wait until you have time, because that may never happen.  Set aside a time, perhaps a Friday evening, to open up the game cupboard and have some fun.  
  • As a parent, be a good role model as you are playing the games.  You may find your little ones emulating your good and bad behaviors, so it may be a good idea to control your emotions to some extent!
  • If your kids are little, a little discussion about winning and losing might be a good idea each time you play a game, until they can learn to practice good sportsmanship.  Don’t give up after a few tantrums.  It takes practice and time to develop these important life skills.  Also, try to match the game to the temperament of your child, and build from there.
  • Don’t be a slave to game night.  Change it up occasionally.  Maybe use that time which you have set aside for a movie night or go out as a family for frozen yogurt or ice cream.

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette

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Sarah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with the College Rejection Letter

JMJ133  *Rejection while in high school can be especially hard.  It may be one of the first times that a young person puts themselves out there, presenting their unique and personal self to the “dream school” of their choosing, only to find out that they were not among the selected.  At the very least, a rejection letter is disappointing.

Ring the School Bell 133/180 Days

Today, Sabrina found out that she was not among the chosen, not to be a UCLA Bruin.  Previously, she had received a rejection from their music department, and now their College of Letters and Science was also informing her that basically they did not choose her to be in the freshman class.

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With a California resident freshman admit rate of approximately only 15%, it felt more like a lottery to get in, so Sabrina took it reasonably well.

Rejection while in high school can be especially hard.  It may be one of the first times that a young person puts themselves out there, presenting their unique and and personal self, to the “dream school” of their choosing, only to find out that they were not among the selected. At the very least, a rejection letter is disappointing.

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Sabrina summed up her reaction with these words, “I am okay, but it would have been nice for my self-esteem to be admitted.”

Thankfully the eggs were not all in that one basket; we applied to several other institutions.

A few things to remind your teens, if they receive that dreaded rejection letter…

  • It is perfectly normal to be upset.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  It is okay to be upset a bit, but then move on.
  • Your application may be stellar, but to think that a university can accept all of the stellar applications that they receive is unrealistic.  Not getting accepted does not necessarily mean that you wouldn’t have thrived there academically.  There may simply not be enough room for all of the highly-qualified applicants.  And don’t think for one minute, that you are the only one getting rejected!
  • Think about each of the schools that you have applied to.  There must be something special and unique about each school, otherwise, chances are that you wouldn’t have applied to that school.  When talking to friends or posting on social media, discuss what you like about each school.  That way, if you are like most of us and receive a rejection letter or two, you can focus on the positive.
  • Remember that those who truly care about you, will support you wherever you end up going to university.  Also, future employers may not really care too much whether you graduated from school “A”, “B” or “C”.
  • Whatever university you end up at, you have the choice of making those years in college some of the best years of your life.  Get involved, be a school ambassador, volunteer at the food pantry, join a sport, a bible study, or the Disney club.  Make memories that will last a lifetime, wherever you end up going.
  • One last piece of advice.  Celebrate your acceptance letters instead of dwelling on the rejection letters!

Some advice for you, the parent…

  • Remain calm.  Do not overreact to the rejection letter.  It does not help the situation to go ballistic in front of your teen!  Be there for your child and reassure them that this is not the end of the world.  This is what they need from you, the parent.
  • Be a good listener and allow the child to be upset.  Sabrina, my daughter, was so distraught at one point, that to deal with it, she had to be reassured that there might be a possibility in the future to transfer to her top choice.  Of course, she ended up ultimately loving the university she ended up at, and never even brought up the option of transferring after the first couple of semesters.
  • Focus on the fact that this is such an exciting time in your child’s life.  They have their whole future ahead of them, and many adventures await them right around the bend.

Okay, I will say it.  There is also the possibility that your child will not get admitted to any schools they applied to.  Life is not over, even still!  There are many other options to consider.  Emphasize to your child that they are still in control of their future.  One great option is community college, a place to work on general education credits, until transferring to a university.  Trade school, internships, a gap year, travel might all be possibilities to move forward on their grand adventure of life!

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 Follow my blog on WORD PRESS!

** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette

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Sarah

 

Time-Out, Mom-Style

JMJ134  *How to celebrate?  Take a moment and think of something that you need to celebrate.  Give yourself the permission to give yourself a small pat on the back.  Or simply take the day off to take a break from the relentless busy-ness of being a mom-on-call 24-7!  After all, you don’t want to turn into “scary mommy” for lack of breaks!

Ring the School Bell 134/180 Days

Time-Out, Mom-Style

Happy day.  I finished preparing for the accountant who is going to do our taxes!!   You have no idea how happy I am, that this long process is over with.  Because of my husband’s business, It takes forever to get the financials ready.  Next Tuesday, we have an appointment with the accountant.  I hope he likes the way I organized everything, and especially gives us the good news that we don’t have to write out an extra check to Uncle Sam!

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Not only have I finally finished all of the tax prep, which is a cause for celebration in itself, but the litany of paperwork has finally ended for this special school year.  I am referring to the college applications, financial aid, high school dossier, and scholarship applications.  Yay!  It will be nice to revisit homeschool days without the ominous pressure of paperwork looming overhead.

How to celebrate?  Take a moment and think of something that you need to celebrate.  Give yourself the permission to give yourself a small pat on the back.  Or simply take the day off to take a break from the relentless busyness of being a mom-on-call 24-7!  After all, you don’t want to turn into “Scary Mommy” for lack of breaks!

Now choose one of the following for a special treat just for you!

Time-Out, Mom-Style

  1. Choose a day, maybe this weekend, and go to a movie of your choosing.  I am always going along with what everyone else wants to see.  Look in the paper or go on-line and actually choose something that “you” want to see.  Then depending on what you selected, invite either your family, maybe some gal friends, or your spouse.  And don’t forget to sneak in premium treats or buy the buttered theater popcorn!

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2. Go to the market and locate the ice cream freezer case.  Look at the flavors and ponder what you would personally like.  That is completely untypical of me, not only because I have to admit that I do enjoy most flavors, but because I usually indulge others in choosing their favorite flavor. Unless it is your personal favorite, don’t go for the malted crunch or decadent chocolate your husband likes best, nor the rainbow-confetti-sprinkled flavor your child might choose.  This is about celebrating you, so go ahead and pick a flavor, take it home and share it with the family.  They might be surprised at the one you chose, but I bet they will enjoy it just the same!

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3. March on down to a bookstore, alone, with no plans of going to storytime or puppet theater, as you might with your own kids.  Unfortunately, you may have to drive a ways, as in my case, because regrettably so many bookstores have closed in our area in the last 10 years.  While there, actually do some undistracted browsing and buy a book for you, not a new Dr. Seuss book for your child, as your selfless mom-self is shouting out for you to do.  Choose something and start reading it tonight, as a special treat to yourself.

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4. How about a nice bubbly bath?  I can’t even remember the last time I took a wonderful warm bath, with the door locked, to discourage young visitors.  You might want to do this when your spouse is home, or it may not be something your young troops can handle, not having access to mommy.  Unsupervised little tikes might not be such a good idea either!

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Especially, always remember, every mom need a “time-out” break once in a while too!

Follow my blog on WORD PRESS!

** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette

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Sarah