That Dress

tumblr_nkcjuq8Tdr1tnacy1o1_500A couple days ago my people in my home argued – like many people all over the world it seemed- about the color of this dress. I think I am the only freak in the bunch who saw light blue and brown – not gold and white and certainly not blue and black! What they heck were people seeing? My family thought I was odd. I wasn’t seeing what anyone else saw. I still wasn’t sure if this was one of those internet trick things or part of one of those quizzes you take to see what city you should live in, or what TV character mom you are (I like Claire Huckstable from Cosby, but a new modern day fave is Rainbow on Blackish – but I think I live more like Frankie on The Middle). Anyway, “The Dress” as it turned out was not a quiz but it was a big internet argument all for fun. I like me some fun! Still, I could not figure out why I saw light blue and brown!

My husband’s workmates (all work remotely) were emailing back and forth all day about the color of this dress! Later in the day my husband brought the photo into the kitchen to show my daughter and then finally I saw gold and white! A few things struck me. 1) at least I finally saw the colors that people were saying they saw- I am not a complete freak. 2) Why did I see it as light blue and brown in the first place? and 3) why in the heck was the world so enthralled by this topic anyway?

We humans are a funny bunch. The things that capture our attention and that will draw us together for fun arguing and banter amaze me. This is what makes me love humans so much. We can come together if we really want to. Did the lady who bought the dress know this photo would go viral?  If I had just perused past that picture someplace I wouldn’t have thought much of it.  But the conversation that it spawned interests me very much.

Screenshot 2015-02-28 14.43.05By now the world knows that this dress is really dark blue and black. I never came close to seeing dark blue and black. As far as the science behind the why we all see a variation in colors you can click here. There are a number of explanations- some I didn’t understand and I am an amateur photographer. I should understand color and I do(I think) but some of the explanations were way scientific and stuff. It basically has to do with how your brain filters color. So I tried to pick a simple explanation. Then I grabbed the pic of the internet and saved it onto my laptop. Then, I dragged it into my photo editor. I wanted to see what it thought the photo should be.

Ah!  You can seeScreenshot 2015-02-28 14.25.17 that black and blue in the upper left corner. You can see gold and bright white on the lower right. But there on the lower left you can see it! Light blue and brown. Validation I am not a freak! I am going to believe I have a special brain and it sees in a super spectacular way. And there is of course that I had those special intra-occular lenses put in a while back during cataract surgery. Maybe I have bionic eyes now!

Here is what auto color correct wanted to do-it wasn’t sure what to do so it tossed a little blue making the white look gray. It was just as confused as our brains are over this one!

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Auto Color Correction..

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wonder if anyone else saw the light blue and brown like I did. It was rather nice looking…see below. Or maybe this looks like it is orange and purple to someone, red and green? Yellow and black?  Maybe I will create a quiz on this…”what color is this dress IQ Test” and of course “Genius” will come up for those who pick light blue and brown…

I know one thing. I am tired of seeing this dress now that I worked it to death in my photo editor!

Thanks for reading.

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Light blue and brown dress

 

Amongst the pack – my musings on living with dogs

I have been living with dogs for most of my adult life. The other day I was counting in my head the number of dogs I have had the privilege of sharing my life with since I shared my dog Bogie with an old boyfriend back in 1990. There was Bogie, Jay Jay Star, Gator, Ally, Coach, Riley, Gus, Dave, Libby, Lemon, Rudy, Reese and Pierce- and a four day stint with Shelby(not a privilege) who tried to eat my husband. That’s 14 if you count crazy Shelby. Some were rescues some were not. I had dogs when I was a child as well (Jenny, Inkspot, Sam, and Mandy) and was always drawn to them in a way I was never drawn to people. In fact, the animal world held my attention much better back then. Humans were always harder for me to relate to.

Fourteen dogs since 1990 – that’s a lot of dogs. More than most people will ever have. For me having a pile of dogs around is easy. I am not saying that I don’t have my moments of frustration with them. I am not a saint. I do get impatient sometimes. Or overwhelmed when the fray move into the house as a giant blob of wrestling dogs. Add muddy feet to that and its a fiasco. Mostly though my dogs make me happy, centered and whole.

I have had many people call or write me for help with their dogs. They think because I have a mess of dogs I must be really smart about them and I should be able to solve all dog issues. I am fairly smart about dogs I guess. But smart in the way you live with a person and know their habits and moods. I understand dogs in general but I understand my dogs – the ones I live with in my home- best. So when someone asks me for advice I can only tell them what has worked for me in the past and I explain that what works for me might not work for them. I am no expert is my mantra. I am not of any one school when it come to training except I only work with positive reinforcement.  I have my ideas on food and leads and collars and harnesses. But my suggestions are just that – just ideas I am tossing out that might perhaps help your problem – and I do enjoy sharing. If someone calls me about dog aggression issues I answer only one way- call a trainer…an expert who has dealt with aggression issues before. Having dealt with an aggressive dog last year reinforced that I am no expert on dog aggression. It is one area in which I do not want to ever give the wrong advice – so I give none. Or one – call a trainer.

My dogs listen to me better than they listen to anyone else in our home. Is it because of  the tone I use? Or do I convey that I expect them to do what I ask? or maybe I am just a kindred spirit to dogs and I have this comfort with them that they grasp? I am not sure. But when I say they listen to me better then they listen to others in my home by no mean implies that they always listen to me and the are militantly obedient. No No! My dogs always need more training- training never ends. Rudy – my Golden caught the stubborn bug from his mentor- my dear departed OES – Dave. Rudy thankfully usually plays the stubborn card because he needs to stick to me like velcro. So his stubbornness isn’t really inconvenient. It’s rather endearing to me (not always to my husband). He does know when I tell him he is staying home and I can manage to get out the door without him stampeding me – so that’s a plus. Compare that to Dave who would not exit the car until he had good reason to do so. Dave would not do anything until he decided it was the thing to do –as if it was his own idea- we had some funny days with Dave -waiting on him to make up his mind. Rudy’s stubborn streak is a walk in the park compared to that!

Over the years I have normally had more than one dog at a time. I have up to six- crazy some might say. For me six was a lot but I could have been up for more had my dear husband not talked me off a ledge. I do have a habit of collecting things(no I am not hoarder I love purging non-living things). I recall getting my first horse – next thing you know I had three. Right now we have four dogs (two horses) and it is a good number. I have recently fallen in love with a tripod hound but that is another story. If I had unlimited resources and energy -Oh the many dogs I could love!

I have had as few as two dogs at once. I even had one for a time. When I was newly separated from a long term boyfriend we split up the dog children and he took Bogie and I took Jay Jay Star – my first greyhound. Jay Jay and I were together alone for a good while. I have to say that it was a very special time for me to be with just one dog. We were really bonded and she was my first heart-dog. I am not sure she loved when I brought another greyhound into her life when I added Gator to our little family but she lived with him in the best way she could. When I lost Jay Jay to cancer it was the first time I lost a dog since my childhood and Jay Jay was a heart-dog and it about ripped me apart. I took off two days from work. I couldn’t speak about her for weeks. She came into my life for a reason and she got me through some tough times. I will never forget her. I didn’t have another heart dog until I got Dave. But I loved many dogs in between. Losing one never stopped me from sharing my life with more. I could write for hours about all my dogs. They have all brought me so much and in many different ways. I love them all.

Because I live with packs of dogs I have watched in great depth the dynamics of dogs and the way the communicate with each other. With each addition or subtraction from the pack the dynamic changes. For a time our pack consisted of many old dogs. The dynamic there was much different than it is now. At one point it became almost like and old folks home. Throw rugs on the hard floors and medications spread out on the counters. I loved my old dogs. Now all my dogs are under 6 years old. I have one female dog, Lemon, who is a tough cookie and I have hesitated to add any other females to the group. She is uber smart and a tad bi-polar I think. I have three males all under three years who play quite a lot. We frown on play indoors if it gets too rowdy but try telling that to three puppy like males!

One things I have noticed is how the dynamic can change within the same pack. With my dogs now they have all taken on different roles in their group and sometimes in the family itself.  I see the two younger males, Reese and Pierce, vying for a higher position. Even trying to top Rudy as Alpha male. We have had tiffs too. We have had altercations that seem to come out of nowhere. But when you watch more closely you come to see they do have their reasons. I have taken to watching their dance to hopefully better understand how they work amongst themselves.  Most disagreements are normally worked out within the group. On some occasions we need to correct them. Lemon is our biggest issue and I will write more about her and how she has effected the dynamics of two different packs of dogs. It is quite interesting and she has had me puzzled on some days. I am not sure I will ever understand her but we try to live peacefully with her – letting her know our expectations. I sound like a parent now!

As I have been writing this I have been constantly asking Rudy to “go lay down” as he is trying to steal my tissue – he just ran in here with a throw blanket. These are his antics he likes to pull in the hour or so before feeding time. And as I have written this I have been up a number of times to let the dogs out- though I vow to not be the door man for them at their every whim.  I am a parent and a butler all at one time. It’s worth all of it. The late night pukes, the accidents on the carpet, the knocked over lamps and chewed non-dog approved items like throws, and newspapers and -yes- even couches (another story). The trips to the vets, chasing after them if they run off, and loving them as they get old and turn into wise dogs and the saying goodbye. I said goodbye to 4 dogs in the last couple years. My geriatrics left us one by one. Each time my heart broke just a little. To others that sadness  and pain may not be worth it – but to me it is. Living among dogs is one of the greatest gifts I have been given in my life. When one leaves me I open my heart to another. What they leave me with is not sadness – I miss them yes- but they leave me with the sense of hope. Knowing love is all that matters in this life, in its purest form we see what love can be when we love a pet. With humans it can get so muddled.  We are blessed to have these connections with animals. They can teach us so much and open us up. No wonder they use animals in therapy…they can go where no man can go sometimes..deep into a humans soul.

As an adult I have come to understand people better- though sometimes I have a hard time relating to them. And in their defense there have been people that find it hard to relate to me too. My affinity for canine companionship has only grown as I have grown. My appreciation for these beings has developed into gratitude. Dogs have helped heal me in more ways than I can share here. I hope they continue to do so in years to come. They have given me vastly more than I have given them but don’t tell them that. No … you can tell them that..they already know..and they are ok with it.

Thanks for reading….

Not my best quality photos but many good memories….

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The boys relaxing together.

 

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I thought this was sweet.

 

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Humans are part of the pack too!

 

 

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Pierce plays rough and for a while had some issues with Rudy. They worked them out and now are the best of friends.

 

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Playing nicely – usually i try to make them play rough outdoors.. They do not love this idea!

 

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I love this shot!

 

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My current pack, Lemon, Rudy, Pierce, and Reese.

 

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One of the wisest dogs I have known- Coach. Coach left in may 2013. It was because of Coach that we now have Pierce. Coach was very fearful when we got him and knowing how he changed made us know we were the right family for Pierce who was also very fearful.

 

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I had two heart dogs at one time… who gets that lucky?

 

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Riley and Dave – part of my geriatric group. They are no longer with us. Notice the throw rugs..helps make old dogs ambulatory!

 

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Dave at 14 and my younger “yellows” as I used to call them.

 

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Lemon often stays a bit away from the others. She has that female independence. She will play on her terms.

 

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My greyhound Libby. She left June 2013. She was my last greyhound of five that I have had. I will have another one someday. She was an odd girl and did not get on well with Lemon. That was not her doing though. She lived comfortably in our bedroom for the last year or so of her life. Lemon became aggressive with her and I think it was bc Lemon sensed Libby’s cancer well before we knew she was ill. Greyhounds are too sensitive for the likes of Lemon.

 

Little Journeys

When we began Valentine’s Day by having a quiet date eating at our local diner I had no idea what the day would evolve into. We spent much of the day after that quiet breakfast taking kids from here to there and there to here. You know your busy when you are reading your bible study chapter (for the next day) at an indoor soccer arena!

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Early Valentines Date with my husband Kevin

 

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Our local family owned diner – The Old Towne

 

After an exciting indoor soccer match ( ours sons team won and he scored too!) we headed to my in-laws home for a visit.  This was not a pre-planned visit. We made the decision sometime during the morning. It had been too long since we had seen them and we really wanted bring them some love and some treats for Valentines day.  We couldn’t head out until we picked up our daughter from her work at 4pm – so we got a later start. As we drove the forty or so minutes to their home it began to snow. I had known we might have weather but I didn’t think the forecast called for much accumulation. I did know that the temps were scheduled to drop significantly as the evening progressed.

When we got to their home with hot pizza in hand along with some Wicked Good Cupcakes in a jar (sent from my mother) it was snowing pretty hard. I became slightly worried but tried to push it back into the vast recesses of my mind. I wanted to spend the time enjoying the visit not worrying about leaving. I have the best in-laws one could ever ask for. At 89 and 90 they have slowed down quite a bit. My FIL has dementia and though he doesn’t know me anymore he is the always the most polite and gracious host. My MIL has a sharp mind. I brought my knitting in hopes she could teach me how to begin but she had some trouble working my yarn(which means I will) but that spurred her in to showing me all of her knitting and crochet projects she has done. She made some beautiful things over the years. I was so impressed. She gave me some Alpaca wool and I am not worthy yet to use it but I aspire to get there! She was inspired to give knitting a shot this week and I am looking forward to hearing how she did. I love these visits because I can tell they make her world that has shrunk because of her mobility issues bigger. She is like a second mother to me and I know how blessed I am to have in-laws that are so wonderful to me.

Pretty soon it was time to head out and it did not look great outside. The winds had picked up and it was freezing cold. The snow had stopped but I felt leery about it. Marylanders are not the best drivers in the snow. I wasn’t alone in my worry, my mother in law was worried too. I could tell. She kept saying that the snow was wet snow. I didn’t realize why that was worse than the dry powdery kind until we left.   I should have just asked to camp out at her home but we worried about our dogs and how they would fare at home all night. Two would be stuck in crates and the other two just hanging out (where would they make their inevitable bathroom if we didn’t come home?) So we headed out the door.

We were met within five minutes to a closed major road that we take home. It was ice- ah the wet snow turned to ice with all the cold wind.  We made a U-turn and nearly slid into the next intersection. Hubby said it was driver error(oops) and assured me that our ancient Ford Expedition would get the job done and get us home. All I could think of was some un-confidant driver slamming into us. I wanted to go back to my In-laws and I began voicing that desire in a panic. When I get that nervous I feel sick and I was getting that queasy feeling in my stomach. But the longing to get the to the dogs kept us going. But it was a cluster F out there. (Excuse my French) navigating down one road was like getting through a battlefield. Stuck cars were everywhere -traffic was at a crawl. My husband missed a turn that would have taken us back to the closed road but hopefully north of the closure. So with that out we had to opt to going on another major road instead. When we hit that road we went ten feet and we came to a stop.  All three lanes had cars stuck in them. The traffic was horrendous. People were abandoning their cars and walking up the sidewalk! Aghhh!

At one point I thought I was going to rip out my hair because I was getting in a panic being stuck and then the blaring of a fire truck siren behind us was tearing up my slowly melting sanity. Where could any of the 900 cars go to allow the fire truck to get through? Some stuck cars were able to move a bit out of the way and the fire truck managed to twist and turn its way through traffic- it took like 30 minutes- I hope whoever was waiting for it was ok. When the firetruck went through the traffic for a brief minute there was a hole to drive through between stuck cars and a few cars got through but that didn’t last long because a driver in a small pickup decided he didn’t want to be stuck so he began flooring his gas in hopes to propel himself burn off the ice. Well…all he did was burn rubber but he went nowhere. His car just began creating noxious fumes from his truly burning rubber. I know he was like all of us- he wanted to get wherever he was going. He did not want to be stuck – I give him A for effort and O for obnoxious! And I am certain he will need new tires after that show!

By this time I was fluctuating between panic to putting it in the lap of the Lord. I went from saying “I’m going to puke” to staring in amazement at the stuck cars then Id get panicked again! I was not at my best. Thank goodness my kids were either very tired or didn’t care I was upset because they certainly weren’t upset. L snapped a picture after I snarled at him not to. I was that stressed. I felt pictures were not necessary. How unlike me!

The last straw was when some younger guys began to jump out of their cars to help other stuck cars. I was so scared these kids would be injured by a car sliding into them. I wanted to yell at them like some crazed mother. But bless them because they did help get cars moved. Pickup guy did not want to be pushed off to the side and he kept trying to will the truck to get up that hill. Finally he got far enough up the lane that cars could squeeze between him and another stuck car. Part of me felt like we should help these people but the other part of me wanted to just get the hell out of there. And I knew my husband felt that way. He is ever so calm outside but I knew my panic and his inner stress at being stuck for so long was not boding well at us being helpers. So we weaved around pick up guy and we were free. We navigated roads and finally by the time we got out of that backup the other roads never got that busy(because it was getting late) and the rest of the trip was slow but not crazed.

The Ford got us home ( it really is good in the snow). It took three hours but we were safe. The dogs were fine. I’m so thankful for my husband keeping a calm head despite my panicked state and his expert driving skills. What a day! It was a Valentines day full adventure but best of all it was filled with love. I’ll take a little adventure and nausea when it is sandwiched in love!
Thanks for reading.

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Picture my son took. I think that is pickup guy in front of us.

 

Bouyancy

Sinking deeper and deeper

I need bouyancy

Some days I see the ripple on the surface

but on others i am too far under- stuck in murky thick cold water

I see nothing

I need buoyancy

What can save us from drowning in our fears

or in our own tears

We need bouyancy

that one thing that can keep us afloat

Keep us seeing the ripples in the water

and the birds in the air

Some days i have only one hand above the surface

as the rest clings to it struggling to rise above the depths

There is no breath

Some days I wake up and I am floating not just above the water

but high in the air

I see what this life is all about

The twists and the turns

the purpose

the reasons

Bouyancy saved me

but love makes me live

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Some days are tougher than others but better days always come…and love is what matters most.

Four More Years

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“Can we open them?” L asked me.

“Where did you find those?” I replied trying to avoid answering his question by asking another question.

One of my boys had been rummaging around in our crowded storage room recently and came upon some old shoe boxes wrapped with construction paper. The paper was faded but it seemed like yesterday that I had gotten those boxes.

They are time capsules. My boys had created them in Kindergarten. It hadn’t been long ago. Nine years ago to be exact. To me that isn’t such a long time ago. But for my boys nine years is more than half of their lifetime. To my boys finding the boxes was like finding buried treasure. They didn’t remember making them. Their contents a mystery to all of us.

“I don’t think you are supposed to open them until you are at least 18.” I tell them.

“Eighteen? Why not now. Let’s just open them!”

I realize that to them it’s an eternity until they are 18. I know this because in talking with them about getting good grades now so they can get into college later comes with nods of affirmation -but my anxiety over it is much greater than theirs. It’s only four short years away. (3 1/2 now but whose counting?). The boys are about the here and now.

So why not just open the boxes now? What difference does it make? Turns out that it makes a big difference to me. I’m not ready to open those boxes yet. I am not sure I can really articulate why. I think I pictured myself opening those boxes while sitting on my bed while the boys were at college. I’d pull out each thing and hold it close and breathe it in to see if it smelled like little kids or like Kindergarten. I am not sure I even considered that these were their boxes and that they should be there when I opened them -or that they should open them themselves. Of course they should. Sure they should.

To me the boxes represent their littleness and a passing of an era of raising kids. I’m not ready for anyone to open those boxes. They are only 14. I’m still raising them. Their smell is still here albeit not the sweetness of littleness -it’s more stinky boy teen but it’s still here. I’m still doing it. Those boxes are for when I’m done. I’m not done.

“No…let’s put them away now. We can open them when you’re 18 …or 21..”

“Twenty one? We will be grown up then!”

Sure you will. You will be grown but not. But you will want to be forging out on your own. I’ll have the boxes full of stuff from a time when you were five and your whole world was a classroom that smelled of paste and paint and hand -sanitizer.

Those Kindergarten teachers are oh so smart. Thinking of a mamas heartstrings so far before the mama does. I wonder how many of those boxes are still sealed shut waiting for their day that they are discovered and opened and their memories spill out making some mama cry for a bit over the memories of their child’s innocence and littleness. Of the days where they would run into your arms when you pick them up from school. Even then you knew those were special moments but could only hold onto them for a second before you had to think about the next thing-homework, some activity, dinner. What we have left are pictures and videos and our memories -and a construction paper covered shoe box filled with little things that will make this mama laugh and cry.

No. I am not done yet. I am still raising these kids for better or worse. I am not ready to open those boxes. It’s not time yet there are so many memories left to make. Just give me four more years …(or a bit longer.)

Thanks for reading…

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My like/dislike relationship with social media (part 2)-connection

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See that group of lovely ladies in the picture above? This is one of the reasons I love social media. Many of those women in the photo I hadn’t seen in over 30 years! We all went to school together at one time or another and all of us but one attended the same private school that ended in 8th grade. This reunion most likely wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t social media.

I know that social media has its bad side. I wrote about my dislike for it in regards to my kids in part one of this post. I have seen adults act like idiots on social media. I’ve seen families fight on Facebook airing their dirty laundry for everyone to see. I’ve seen people make negative comments to strangers that I’m sure they would never share if they were face to face with the person. I’ve see all that. Social Media is just another thing that can distract us from the “real world”. I am guilty of of that one for sure. But I also see the great side of social media. Connection.

I am confident the initial goal of the creation of social media was to get people connecting. Humans crave connection -well most of us do. Create a community where people can connect – then get advertisers to buy ads there ( there has to a monetary upside – someone has to pay for it!). Brilliant!

I have been on Facebook for over 5 years and I have seen it grow. Sometimes the growth has been good and sometimes not. Things we never considered before social media have become things we need to think about – like our privacy, and how we want our info shared or if we do. I have come to understand that anything I share on social media is never really private. So I share only what I am ok with the world seeing or knowing. Same goes on Instagram, Twitter and on and on.

But the good stuff? It is good. Re-connecting with old friends has been so great for me. I have also made new friends. My dad said one night that all my friends on Facebook are not real friends….and partially he is right. Some of those I have friended are acquaintances. But I don’t think that is bad either. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that I can post a question or a need and someone out there I may not know well has some answer.

But oddly enough I have made new friendships through social media. And I have seen other friendships on social media blossom because of a common connection.  I belong to a number of groups on Facebook. One is where creative types post their work. Put together by Author Jon Katz this group has developed into it’s own community. This online group gathers a couple times a year at Bedlam farm where Jon and Maria live in upstate NewYork. Friendships have grown online and many of these folks get together regularly. I have met up with a couple friends from an adoption group I am on. When I got cancer and I was in a horrible place I was compelled to post for help on my Facebook page (read about that here). People came out of the woodwork to help and offer support. What a blessing. When you think about it- what social media has done to the world as we know it- it is pretty phenomenal.

As for the group in the picture above?  I can only imagine how hard it would have been to get all these ladies together without social media. I am very glad to have made these connections again. It is good for me. I tend to be on the introverted side. (I know what you are thinking friends – yes I can talk a lot but I am still introverted! Read this perfect post on being Introverted by Denise Gainey). I was so nervous to go meet up with these girls- but as soon as I walked into the restaurant the years melted away as did the anxiety. We really had a great time.

I am sure each one of us have stories of finding lost friends, lost loves, and reconnecting with family members on social media(I found cousins I have never met). We hear the news first on Twitter, and got a new job because of Linked In. Most of our children don’t remember a world without social media. Suffice it to say social media isn’t going anywhere. It is just going to grow and evolve. With that comes good and bad things. It will give me headaches sometimes and I will play the give and take app game with my kids. I will have to decide which forms of social media work for me. There is getting to be so much to choose from. And of course where my kids want to go I shall also go so I can keep an eye on them.

As I have been typing this I have been messaged by a new Facebook friend who is teaching me about Essential Oils and from another old friend I haven’t seen in a few years, I have been texting a friend about dinner this weekend and another to offer comfort and prayer while her husband in in surgery. These are connections we wouldn’t have without technology and social media. It really is amazing to me. I like it.

 

 

Accepting a challenge

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Notice my drink w the straw!

Little did I know my jaunt barefoot into the snow yesterday would end up in a challenge. A few folks on one of my Facebook groups where all things creative happen decided that jumping barefoot into the snow looked good enough to create a challenge.
I was in but I kind of already did the barefoot thing. So I decided to take it up a notch and think of something else. Someone Posted a shot and was in snow up to their knees – but ours is dwindling away. So here is what I came up with! And it felt great!
Take that winter!

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A BIG THANKS to my boys for accepting the challenge with a great attitude!
L thought it wasn’t a big deal at all since he lives in shorts most of the time and rarely wears a coat. Ozzy was excited as always and got into his summer cool character sunglasses and summer guy necklace!
They Rock!
I must say it feels so good to put your feet in the snow! Woke me up.
Wish it burnt calories- I have a Super Bowl feast to eat.