Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Home Alone...The empty nesters!!!

We are officially empty nesters. Well, temporarily, at least. Our younger daughter is away at college and now our oldest moved away for an internship leaving my husband and I……ALONE!!! Yes….alone for two whole months and possibly longer. Not sure if this is a good thing or not. Visions of Macaulay Culkins in Home Alone keep floating into my head. The shock in his face when he realizes that he just may have gotten what he wished for!!! 

So for the next few months….. I’m sure you’ll be hearing what it is like living with my husband with no children to buffer for us.
So Jessica went to Connecticut to stay with my sister and her family while she works in an outpatient physical therapy center. Jess is a home body by nature. She likes her space. She likes her California weather. This could be fun to watch unfold.

Packing was especially fun to watch. Prior to making the move, she did not own much in the way of warm clothes. We tried shopping for them. She wanted cute and fashionable which in California stores does not mean warm. I tried to explain that the boots she wanted would leak and that she needed warm sensible boots. She wasn’t liking what I picked out. Go figure!!

I tried to tell her that my sister had a washer and dryer but I think she packed enough clothes to not have to do any laundry for the entire two months. I tried to offer suggestions but all she could say was…. “Don’t judge me” with a grin on her face.

See what I mean….and those suitcases didn’t even have any shoes in them yet!!! My husband had to go in her closet last night to put something away. He came out and proclaimed “We’ve been robbed! There’s nothing left in Jessica’s closet.”

So Christmas night, we took them (Blaine, her boyfriend went along for the first week). We have a tradition of taking “first” pictures….day of school, car, job, etc. This is her “first” moving out picture. I couldn’t be in the picture because….well….being the mom… eyes may have been a little teary… I shoved dad in there.

Notice she has her scarf on and she hasn’t even left San Diego and its about 60 degrees out. Not a good sign if she’s cold already.
                    Happy Holidays sign from TSA..... see they really do like us!

So they arrived fine and had Christmas a day late with my brother, sister and families. I got a text that they were doing well but that “Blaine was eating Bambi.” Apparently, my brother was doing his best to break in this California boy with some home cooked venison. They opened gifts and Jess was surprised to find a little something under the tree from her dad. Jess and her dad have a little game going. It started one night after dinner with a crumpled up ball of foil that kept making its way into her work lunch or his work lunch which progressed to hiding it in closets or shoes which progressed to us having someone deliver it to her at the restaurant where she worked. By now, the foil ball had become a foil cross….none of us can explain why that happened. So the foil cross made its way to Connecticut and was wrapped and under the Christmas tree. Looks like she was surprised!!!

Yesterday they went shopping or maybe they were just in my brother’s closet finding her some warm clothes to wear.

Today was ice skating and looks like a trip down memory lane to see where she was born, the first house she lived in…and my old stomping grounds.

I hope they didn’t go in and use our family name… they may not get the warm reception they were hoping for. I was the 4th of 5 children to go there and by the time I attended….our last name was already getting some interesting looks and raised eyebrows. Ahhh…..but then that story is for another blog.

So….. my little birds have flown away….for the winter at least. What shall I do first??????? Not sure what to do with myself!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Preparations my way......

So on my last blog I told you about how my husband is so full of Christmas cheer. I didn’t want to sound like I’m an un-Christmas-Scrooge type person so I thought I’d share a little of the memories that I’ve given my girls.

I also like Christmas music..IF they are sung with the correct lyrics. One year, Fernando and my girls gave me a Reba McEntire Christmas cassette (this was before cars had cd was a while ago). I used to play that cassette every time the girls and I got in the car and back in those days…..we did a lot of driving.  Now Reba has some stuff that’s not too bad but some of it is pretty "twang-y" country stuff. The girls hated that cassette after the first season or so. But being a woman that loves traditions (insert evil laugh here)….. I insisted we play it for years!!! Even in their teen years….I made them listen to it. Hey….they gave it to me….deal with it!!! Here’s a sample of it for your pleasure…..(go on the link) 

If you happen to be talking with my girls..... ask them to tell you the story..... they have it memorized by now!! 
Last year Melissa was studying in Spain for a semester and was away for all the Christmas preparations. It did my heart good to get the following email from her:

"just thought you should know i just spent about 30 minutes telling my friend about reba's christmas music you used to torture us with every year. and then of course we went on youtube and looked them up and died laughing. thanks for this lovely childhood memory! love you"

You see I've learned that not every memory has to be Hallmark perfect.

Another year….. they gave me a Christmas sweater. Oh this sweater should get an award or two as Christmas sweaters go. Now when they were little and Christmas sweaters were bold and bright and every one wore them (not just to Ugly sweater parties) I would wear it and they were proud that they had bought that for momma. But as the years went on….their pride.... well it became more of a pleading to not wear it. I was especially fond of wearing it whenever they needed a ride home from a friend’s house.

See what you think….
You can't see it but there are teddy bears baking cookies on the back of that sweater. 
Can I get an OH Yeah!!!

So….it’s only fitting that my family does not do the typical family Christmas photo since most likely you are thinking we are not that typical. You would be correct. We tried that same year....this is what it looked like.....

 So this is this year's version of......ahem…..our family Christmas card. Be sure to click on the blue highlighted area. 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!! Have fun, make memories and remember what it's all about!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Preparations at my home

As we are all in the midst of Christmas preparations, I thought you’d like to hear what that means in my house. As you’ve gathered by now….we’re not your ordinary  Hallmark-card  type of family. We probably lean closer to the Farsides type.

We start with my husband announcing in about February that Christmas will be here before you know it.  Then each month he announces it. Now don’t take that to mean that he’s an ugly Christmas sweater wearing guy that can’t wait until Christmas comes.

He definitely is not! It’s just his way of getting a groan out of me.

My husband was born good-natured. He whistles while he works. 

He sets his alarm at 5am EVERYDAY just so he won’t “waste the day”. I was NOT born that way. I prefer to not “waste the night”.  I think alarm clocks should only be used for emergencies….like when you need to get up early to leave on a trip. I certainly don’t get up whistling.

I’ve told you before my husband loves to sing…..his own way….his own lyrics. 

He’s been listening to Christmas music every day in his shop. The problem is….what he hears and what he sings are not the same. Here....see what I mean.....

“Winter Wonderland” has a line that says:
 “In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown”

Fernando:  “In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is partly brown”
Me: No, it says Parson Brown.
Him: Really? Who is that?
Me: A parson is like a minister.
Him: Oh, I thought they were just being politically correct in the carols. I thought they were finally including my people in it.
Me: Nope….pretty sure they were not talking about Ecuadoreans in that Christmas carol.

Or how about  “Silver Bells”:
“Silver Bells, Silver Bells, It’s Christmas time in the city.”

Fernando-lyrics say:“Silver Bells, Silver Bells, It’s crime time in the city.”
Me: No…not crime time but Christmas time…..remember Christmas carols are happy and about nice things.
Him: Are you sure? It’s a city…there’s always crime.
Me: Can you just stick to “Feliz Navidad”?

Then he puts lights on the house. They look amazing. In fact, the first year we moved into our present neighborhood, no one had lights up except our house….and we hadn’t even moved in yet! We bought it in December and the first thing he did was put up Christmas lights.
                           Not our house....but I thought it was worth sharing.

There was one year when he was in a hurry and tried to cut corners so he could come in to watch the Chargers game on television. I was on a long distance call with my sister when he asked me to come out and take a look. To my surprise…. He had made a Star of David out of lights on the front of our house.

                                My sister sent us a Hanukkah card that year!

Let me know if you need help with your preparations.....I would be happy to send my husband to help you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

To all of my faithful readers, I’m sorry that I have not blogged much this month. I’ve been working two jobs  and going to school and let’s face it….my blogging skills are not making me rich so I needed to focus my energy on other things. Thanks for your patience. I'm hoping to get back up to speed soon.

If you’ve been following my blog then you know that I find the practice of being grateful essential for staying positive. It’s not always easy to be grateful especially when life is beating you up but if you can get in the habit of finding the blessings, the positive things in your life then you can’t help but feel grateful and that changes your attitude.  Life is about choice. We can choose to be grateful or we can choose misery.

My family has a lot to be thankful for. We will all be home this holiday and so I won’t need to take pictures like this one I took last year…..

which I then texted to my daughters making them feel guilty for making their parents empty nesters on a holiday. (It must have worked….they’re home this year!)  

We are grateful for the time we got to spend with family this year:

For the little bit of traveling I did this year and the ability to see and experience all that this world has to offer...

For technology and all the fun I've had this year....texting, blogging, emailing and facebooking and especially for finding people I haven't seen or talked to in years. 

I am thankful for all of you that read and encourage my silliness. 

Here's wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. Be sure to click on the link below.... 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Men and stuff!

I had an epiphany this weekend. I told you that we were moving my husband's business and amidst the sawdust and the stuff we moved.... I had an enlightening moment. My husband is never going to change!! There I said it. Now maybe you've already figured this out. Maybe I'm just a little slower to figure things out. Maybe I'm a naturally hopeful person. One thing is for sure...he's not gonna change. Ever.

You see.... I know he has a tough time throwing things out. Let me correct myself. He has a hard time throwing out his stuff. He has no problem throwing it out if it's mine.
This is what the shop looked like Saturday morning.....this is moving day. Nothing packed.

Do you see all those pieces of wood? Yup...they got moved to the new place.

I think he is afraid that Home Depot will go out of business so we bought it all?

Then I go into the office to pack it up. And do you know what I found?

This jacket....he had this jacket before I met him and I would not let him wear a quilted leather jacket around me. So....what does he do with it? He stores it in his shop. I thought he got rid of it.

I also found this painting.....

We purchased it back in the 80's when country decor was in fashion. The last time we moved I thought he got rid of it until I came to move him this weekend.
Honey, Laura Ingalls called....she wants her artwork back!

Now another thing I learned this think alike. And they encourage each other. Now ordinarily that would be all nice and stuff. But when it comes to getting rid of junk.....they come up with great ideas why you should keep it. you know what they talked him into saving? A broken ceramic kitchen sink leftover from a job! Because....and here is the wierd guy thinking part..... you could dig a hole in the ground and put the broken sink in it and let the dogs drink out of it. What?????

Here's one of his partners in crime, our neighbor Tim. Great guy....shows up in a volunteer t-shirt and moved my husband's stuff all weekend. Great friends will do that.....move your stuff without complaining. Well, he did complain but that was about the country music. As a way to apologize and thank him.... I think we should give him that painting and just maybe the quilted leather jacket.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Enjoy your coffee!

We'll be moving our business starting today and all weekend. So I don't have much time to write.

I barely have time for my cup of coffee this morning. I never liked coffee until just a couple of years ago. I couldn't even stand the smell of it. It reminded me of the coffee and cigarettes I used to smell first thing every morning growing up. Yuck!

Interestingly enough.... I now get up first thing and go on my walk and then come home to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and read my devotional sitting in my chair overlooking the garden in the front of my house. It has become the most pleasurable time of my day as it is just for me. It's quiet and it's simple.

Saw this video clip and thought it was worth posting..... It's just a short clip so get yourself a cup of coffee and sit back to watch it. A reminder that coffee is best enjoyed plain and simple with a good friend or loved one.

                  Have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy your parties and time with loved ones.
                            Think of me while you are enjoying yours and I'll think of you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Traveling in groups

My family is getting tired of having their life aired on my blog so I’ll give them a break for a little while.
I’ve been busy lately working on trip planning. I wish the trips were for me but being a travel agent I get to plan other people’s trips. I like to plan trips for groups. It’s a little more stressful coordinating everyone’s schedules but I think it’s more fun to travel in a pack.
A couple of years ago, I booked a group of 27 of us on a 3 day Mexico cruise. We only stopped in Ensenada but truthfully we had more fun just hanging out together.  It was a first cruise for many in the group and it does get you hooked. I like to always have people with me that have never been there or had that experience before. I guess I like to relive that "first time" feeling before you have "been there" and feel the need to compare experiences. Things that might annoy someone traveling delayed flights or cancelled hotel rooms....actually become funny memories (ok so sometimes it takes a while before its funny) when shared with others.'s what our group looked like....
                         Blaine trying out his bunk bed! He was a first time cruiser.
                      Exploring the ship. Always lots to see and do.

Fooling around at the piano bar. Love his face!
                Playing Titanic....looking around for Leonardo DiCaprio to appear. He didn't.

                         Incredible food.... I think that's what his face is saying?

                      Working off the food with a ping pong game.

                                         Quiet time with dad!

Beth and Gary..... enjoying their private table.

Just time alone to stare at the horizon.
                       Line dancing class. My "Sponge Bob" niece was rocking the boat!

A chance for a formal family husband's family. (Only a small part actually)

Our three days together went too fast.

So.... I've got another group cruise booked for next year. Want to join us? Send me a message for more info.

And now an unashamed plug for my business....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our barn raising

I’m glad to be back at work this week. Home improvement projects make me tired.
I may have told you about the house that we purchased that need lots of work to get it the way we want.  One of the things it needed was a garage as the original one was turned into a family room (in our case our older daughter’s bedroom). Now some people can get away with not having a garage but as I’ve told you before….I’m married to a packrat. He finds all kinds of treasures to bring home. Now I believe he forgets about them but he swears he knows he has such and such and he knows just where it is. So for the last almost 4 years we’ve lived here, we’ve had those large canopy garage-y things in our yard. When one got too crowded….we got two…and so on. Now it looked ok at first until the canopy part started tearing and he feared “our stuff” (read junk) would get ruined.  Funny thing is the last couple of weeks we’ve even heard helicopters fly low overhead at night. Now why is that funny? We live in a rural area in California the place where medical marijuana is legal and we think they may be looking for signs of heat lamps as evidence that we may be growing things for medicinal purposes. I’d like to assure my friends at the DEA that they are welcome to come take a peek and to please grab a souvenir “treasure” (again read junk) on their way out.
So….we bought this metal building that he can use as a garage. We were going to have a barn raising party but I guess our friends caught on that it didn’t sound so fun so they managed to be out of town.  My daughter and I were given the job of emptying out one canopy garage to put the stuff in another. Sounded like busy work to me but he insisted it was important work. He neglected to mention that we would be transporting it all up a slight incline. Now that was fun! The men folk got busy with the task of raising the barn.
Now that's a lot of parts and they did it with no directions. Real men!

Two guys to put it together and one to stand by and watch?

 It took 2 days and 3 guys (Thanks to Blaine and Grant - our daughter’s boyfriend and his friend….we couldn’t have done it without you both!) but it’s a finished garage now.
                               Everything but the kitchen sink.....oops...I take that back.....
                                there is a kitchen sink in there!
                      Did you think I was kidding when I said useless treasures?
                         Are you looking at the size of the tool box?

                             Girls have way more fun when they have a job to get done.

I almost forgot (ok I did forget to add this pic)....the finished product.....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My friend Linda

I want to take today’s post to tell you about a friend of mine. I love hearing and meeting women with a purpose and Linda is one such person. I met her through a friend and neighbor. She invited me to watch a viewing of the movie, “The White Rainbow”, and to hear Linda speak about her non-profit organization. I was moved by the story.
It began with a reading assignment that her 13 year old son was given.

His teacher assigned the book Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan about the widows of India and Linda who is married to Dharan, a native of India, knew she had to help. She and her husband owned Dharlin Entertainment and they produced the movie “The White Rainbow”. I understand you can rent it on Netflix or you can purchase on her website. If you’ve never seen it, it truly is an eye-opener. Living in the United States where much of life is plentiful for so many, we are not aware of so much that goes on elsewhere. I had never heard of what happens to some women when they become widows in India. Here is the way Linda describes it on her website:
In India, widows are considered to be unlucky and there are many demoralizing customs associated with widowhood.
Many are stripped of all color and allowed to only wear white. Their hair is shaved and they are told to give up all adornment such as jewelry or makeup. They are expected to give up spicy food and sweets.  Worst of all, many are abandoned and shunned by their families because it is believed it was the woman's "bad karma" that caused the death of her husband.
Because of this poor treatment, many widows either flock to or are abandoned in the ancient holy cities of Vrindavan and Varanasi where they are told that Lord Krishna will take care of them. Since there are so many widows in Vrindavan, it has come to be known as the City of Widows. Once there, the unfortunate widows are exploited by the town which profits off the various activities revolving around it being a place of pilgrimage. Each day thousands of people come to worship in the over 4000 temples in the city. Widows can survive by chanting in the ashrams 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening. They literally "sing for their supper". 
The widows lives revolve around chanting all day, seeking shelter, and waiting to die, praying that their next life will be better. "No joy, no color, like white rainbows." But if you look at it in reverse all the colors of the rainbow actually come from white light as it passes through a prism. That is why White Rainbow - we want to shift their perspective, from despair to joy, because we believe that they are not  unlucky or unworthy, but that they should be loved and cherished.
After the movie came out, Linda launched a non-profit organization called “The White Rainbow Project” in order to not only raise awareness but also funds for the widows. She takes groups over to India several times per year to meet the widows and they work to make their lives better. This year a group of college students went with her to spend time cleaning the widows’ rooms. What love is shown when we are willing to serve others with no payback in mind. They have been instrumental in helping to get housing for the widows and they are working on projects to help the widows learn skills such as beaded necklaces and sewing skills to make beautiful tunics that WRP sells over here in the states.  
I went to a “Friend Raiser” dinner the other night for the White Rainbow Project and I was amazed at all the good works that Linda, her friend Jon and many others have done to build this organization and to help the “City of Widows”. When you get a minute please check out their website at: (or shop their online store)

Or read her blog:
Or friend them on Facebook, or watch their video and learn about Linda Mandrayer, my friend, and a real woman of purpose.
May God bless them for all their good works.

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's a great day to be alive!

There are song lyrics that go:

 “It’s a great day to be alive,
 I know the sun is still shining when I close my eyes.
 There’s some hard times in the neighborhood
 but why can’t every day be just this good."

I’m having one of those days…..A day when I’m glad to be alive.

Why am I so happy today? Well thank you for asking!!  I told you a couple of weeks ago that I was coming up on eight years since having my aortic valve replaced….. the date was October 7, 2003. Today I feel great and I’m thankful for every year/day/second I get on this present valve.
I turned 40 that year and decided to go in for a long awaited physical exam. Like most of us, I put those off….thinking I feel great why go in, right? Well, that visit saved my life. Just in casual conversation with my doctor, I asked if I still had a heart murmur as I remembered my mother telling me I had as a child. No doctor has ever mentioned it to me again and just out of curiosity I asked. He listened and with a shocked look said yes and with a rating of 1 to 10, he rated it at about an 8. Now…. I always thought higher numbers meant good things… I always wanted to be a 10. Apparently not the case with heart troubles. He suggested we get an echocardiogram (ultrasound) done to check it out after asking if I’d have any symptoms. “Symptoms, such as…?” I asked. He replies, “Dizziness, black outs, heart attacks?” And so began about 3 months of tests, doctor visits and ultimately open heart surgery.
The echocardiogram results came in and I was sent to a cardiologist for consultation. I figured no big deal. My family history of heart disease meant I’d probably have to be put on medication for the rest of my life. Not great news but I can deal with that. I went alone to my appointment since I really didn’t think anything of this whole thing. Can you say “denial”? I figured since no symptoms….clearly they were mistaken. It’s an odd feeling when instead of being ushered into an exam room at the doctor’s office, you are instead ushered into his personal office. UH-OH! It felt like a scene out of a movie where they sit the husband and wife down to tell one of them they have a year to live. Except….I was alone…and felt great….and this was not a movie! He cut straight to the point…. Except that I didn’t hear most of it. Something about those same questions of symptoms again, blah, blah, blah, valve over 68 percent blocked, blah, blah, enlarged chamber, very good odds of survival/recovery from surgery. Valves can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years depending on the type you choose.  Back up a flipping moment ……surgery? How about drugs? Hasn’t someone come out with valve busting drugs? Let’s get on it people!!
I had more tests to reconfirm that yes this was indeed necessary since it was a birth defect and the valve was calcifying and needed to be replaced before more damage was done. Three months after my physical exam… I was in having my first open heart surgery. Now I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t scared. I had two teenage girls at home.  Jessica had just turned 16 just three days prior to surgery date, the same age that I had been when my mother died. Melissa was only 13. It all seemed kind of cruel to me.
Now…here’s where I could have curled up in a ball and taken a woe is me attitude and let the worry take over. But that’s not the person I had become. I decided that I was going to look for the good in all of this. The lesson to be learned and boy, were there lessons!! On the nights that I couldn’t sleep because of the racing thoughts, I would take out my Bible and open randomly and a message meant just for me would pop out of those pages. Awesome!
I began finding people that showed up in my life that could only have been sent by God. Like the day I went in for an angiogram, (where they go up through your main artery and shoot dye to see where the blood flows) and the nurse that would be assisting was an old friend from when my girls were in scouting. When I knew her, she was a stay at home mom and now she was nursing and I got to have a friend with me. Or the day that I got teary eyed in the doctor’s office and the nurse that came in the room looked just like my mother’s friend Alice who was a nurse and she gave me a big hug and comforting words. My dear friend, Eileen, had been a cardiac nurse for years and she had paved the way and made sure that her old colleagues were scheduled to work that day so she knew who would be watching over me. Isn’t that cool? I truly was in God’s hands!
It started getting comical all the messages I was receiving. Read my blog post about God speaking to me at Wal-Mart that I wrote earlier this year.
 Cards, flowers, encouraging words were coming in from all over.   I spent my last month pre-surgery doing the “getting my affairs in order” ….having a will written up (we’d been meaning to do that anyways), making sure carpools were lined up, having Aunt Marilyn lined up to come and care for the girls and cook for us (she was a huge blessing to us). The ladies at church were praying for me.  They met on Tuesday mornings and my surgery was scheduled for a Tuesday morning. Coincidence? I think not!
The last night before surgery, my phone was ringing off the hook with people calling to wish me well and many were teary-eyed conversations. Jessica finally looked at me and said “How are you doing all this, Mom? People are calling you and you end up comforting them.”  I shared with her how God had been leading me through this by putting the right people in my path and I wasn’t afraid of the final outcome.

You are reading my words so you know that surgery went off well. I was in the hospital for a week due to collapsed lungs, a complication we weren’t expecting. I had periods of hallucinations when the hospital had forgotten to keep giving me a prescription that I had been taking pre-surgery and the girls thought it was funny to see mom imagining mice running up the hospital room walls. But I came out very thankful to be here.

Today, I’m in great health. I power walk my hills daily near my house. I’m not on any medications and get my yearly check- ups so they can check the progress of the valve.  No one knows how long I get to keep this valve. And I’ll get to go back in and do it all again.
And every year on October 7th, my friend, Eileen and I celebrate life. Mine.
So friends… matter what you are going through….It’s a great day to be alive.
Learn the facts on heart disease so you can live to tell about it too.