Friday, April 30, 2010

XYZ Xamine Your Zeal

Hi followers.
Here is a Generic Disclaimer... an excuse for not blogging for the last couple of days. I'm in training as a Census Enumerater. (that's gov. talk for Census taker). So the days have been hectic because of all your friends who lost, mutilated or neglected to send in their census forms (as required by law).

So on to the blog. XAMINE YOUR ZEAL. What are you passionate about? What makes your heart go pit-a-pat? This Challenge got me XCITED even though I started late. I dug deep into my creative right brain (sometimes not deep enough) and had XTREME fun trying to think up something that would be XTRAORDINARY. Consider your ZEAL.

On Monday , is hosting something new. Check it out and join the fun while I trudge through the rain, muck and Rottweilers to interview reluctant citizens.

If you're not a follower of Grandmas-on-the-go, please sign up as a follower so you'll be with me on my road trip to Alaska.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I'm WRITING about WORDS. Not a novel idea but I have something to share.
As a writer we must write truth or WRITING label as fiction.

I checked a new book (2009 copyright) from the library to help with my research. Book titled, When Everything Changed, the Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. Very well researched and written until I reached page 382 and a brief section on Sarah Palin from Wasilla, an "exurb forty miles from Fairbanks" Wrong. Wasilla is forty miles from Anchorage, and roughly 300 miles from Fairbanks. WRITERS do your research!

Another book that I checked out puts my WRITING to shame. Duchess of Death, the Unauthorized Biography of Agatha Christie lists her accomplishments:
84 novels
over two billion sold
translated into 105 languages (most popular modern author in the world)
33 years after her death all books remain in print
6 novels written under the name Mary Wesstmacott
2 autobiographies
3 books of poetry
157 short stories
19 plays
"The Mousetrap" is the longest running play in history. having been performed continuously since 1952, over 23, 500 performances.
When asked about her talent, she said, "I regard my work as of no importance. I'm simply out to entertain."

How I wish I could WRITE so many WORDS.
How about you? How do you WRITE?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Volunteer Vacations

This summer instead of spending a lot of money to be entertained, plan a volunteer vacation. You'll save money, have a memoriable adventure, and provide manpower for projects close to your heart.

A volunteer is someone who offers himself for a service or undertaking without compensation. Something done for others from the heart. You'll be surprised by the rewards.. Your skills and interests are more important than your education and training. Determine what you'd like to become involved in, or learn more about. Opportunities are available from the National Park Service to local schools and hospitals, from Habitat for Humanity to visiting nursing homes with your pet.

I spent a couple of weeks (over four years) as a cook, clown, and custodian with a church group in a tiny Mexican village. I was shocked to learn that babies weren't given a name until they were six months old, (because they might not live that long).
I asked a young girl, "Libros en casa"? (books in your house?). She replied with a look of dismay. "No, libros en esescula". (No, books in school). The following trip I took her and the other children books written in Spanish to have for their own.

One summer I spent in New Hampshire as a horseback riding instructor. (After all I'm from Texas!) I volunteer with Campers on Mission and have cooked at conference centers for thousands, and at small youth camps in Alaska cooking for a hundred or less, (Ceaned bathhouses and cabins, did laundry, dug ditches, helped construct a pavillion, and taught crafts. And LOVED IT).

Diaster Relief after Hurricane Ike, led me to cook for thousands of refugees in my home town and in Galveston.

Volunteering has opened many doors of experience. and has provided writing material as well as given me a warm feeling of being of service.

Dare to dream Put your tallents to work. Check out your options.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Letter U.

I didn't think I'd undertakae this uneasy challenge until I discovered a misunderstood, unpopular, underused letter combo UN. But I underestimated. Consider this:

The unemployed, unloved, unhappy housewife was unforgiving when she unearthed undeniable evidence of her unfaithful husband. The unattactive bikini underwear in his car were not her's.

He denied unorthodox behavior. He acted unconcerned and unrepentant, and insisted she was uncultured, and unsophisticated in today's society.

Jealousy was uncharacteristic of her, but she was understandably upset. She resented being the unpopular, uneducated underdog. His behavior was unacceptable. His treatment of her underserved. It wouldn't go unchallenged. She began to undermine. She served undercooked dinners, returned unwashed underwear to his drawer, and uncomplaining (but unsympathetic) listened to his unreasonable tiraids of an untidy, unpleasant home. (She also was untouchable.)

Tiring of her unpredictable, uncooperative, unconcerned attitude, he uncharacteristicly(but still unrepentant) admitted his unscrupulous behavior. They came to an uneasy understanding, and lived uneventfully ever after.

Writing is such fun!


Beware of unscrupulous publishers who accept your financial imput but are uncommitted to publishing your manuscript. Unfortunately my unpublished novel is not on the market after two years of unfulfilled, unconventia, excuses. Ugggg. How can I undo this?

Friday, April 23, 2010

TRAVEL with Kids. RV there yet?

TRAVELING with kids. What an undertaking. First bit of advice... "Love 'em or leave 'em".

While my 12 were growing up I was a Girl Scout Leader, Boy Scout Scoutmaster, and avid camper. From tents and backpacks we advanced to a pop-up camper and a series of old motorhomes.

TRAVELING with kids makes for memories. Grandma's on the Go, A single mom and her passel of kids hit the road with guts and gusto. tells it all.
TRAVEL TIP: plan routes and stops from a kid's eye point of view. Kids love water, heights, and animals (especially dinosaurs).
Driving the RV in the Yukon, Chris was bundled in a sleeping bag on the rear bed. A herd of caribou appeared and began to cross the road. I yelled, "Chris, Caribou!". He hopped down the hall, still in the sleeping bag, to flop on the passenger seat to take pictures. We laughed so hard I had to stop.
TRAVEL TIP: Be sensitive to kids time. They dawdle when you are in a hurry and tug you along when you want to read the signs. They also mess with your schedule. In Wyoming, in an deserted state park, four of my boys got themselves locked into a cinderblock outhouse. I threatened to leave them.
TRAVEL TIP: Gget them envolved with kid made journals and disposable cameras. Grandsons, Kyle and Ryan, challenged each other with mental math to figure the distance and time to the next town, (in Canada, in kilometers). They thought Canadian Loonies were neat and Toonies were double neat.
TRAVEL TIP: Teach them to read a map with elevation markings and an orienteering compass.
My kids have hiked mountains, climbed a glacier, watched 'ol Faithful errupt, saw the aurora borealis and caught Salmon bare handed.
TRAVEL TIP: Espect the unexpected. Ryan and Kyle were getting on each other's nerves and mine, so I sent Kyle "to your room'. (the bed in the back of the RV) as a time out.
He called out, "Hit another bump, Grandma!" What's this? I focused on the rearview mirror. As I hit frost heaves, Kyle was bouncing from the bed and touching the ceiling. Discipline?
TRAVEL TIP: Be stingy with the electronics. Anything plugged into a kids ears should keep him quiet, but video games, DVDs, etc. keep him from the scenery. My rule is that all electronics have to be stowed when the RV stops. Nothing electrical leaves the rig.
TRAVEL TIP: Don't ask kids if they had fun. They'll disappoint you with answers. Don't expect kids to cherish their journals and photos as you do yours. Their experiences will create memories.
TRAVELING with kids is worth the preparation, frustration, and agrivation. We adults have the excuse to slow down and see through their eyes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Letter S. STUFF

To paraphrase Mr. Webster, STUFF is personal belongings of an unspecified kind; ie. My Treasures, Your Junk.

I recently moved from a 3,000 square foot, 2 1/2 story home on acerage to a townhouse with a patio. 35 years in that house had created an environment for STUFF to multiply. Not only did I have my SPECIAL STUFF, but my grown kids used my place as a free STORAGE unit for their junk ( as apposed to STUFF).

A couple of yard sales, 13 boxes of books donated to the library, a large panel truck load of donated STUFF to a local resale shop and I was ready to move. The old upright piano was gone, but I kept and moved a 12 foot long wooden church pew, a heavy wooden porch swing, a trailer load of rocks and plants, the clothes that had not shrunk, and furniture that none of my kids wanted, one dog and one cat (the other 7 cats found new homes).

New home, less clutter; my STUFF under control. then my 91 year-old Mother decided she wanted to find new homes for her SENTIMENTAL collections. And her mother's STUFF. Her taste is Early American. Mine is Early Attic. My kids have no taste. Mother's size 3 clothes fit no one and are vintage. She collects knick knacks. What's that? Dustables. She doesn't understand our reluctance to see antique value. (How about e-bay?)

Soon, I'll spend 6 months in a 26 foot motor home. I'll leave Texas in shorts, sandals and t-shirts, but have to take a parka, mukluks and sweats for Alaska. No room for STUFF. I do indulge in reslale shopping for books. Campgrounds often have free swaps. Take one leave one. I leave one and take two until the RV begins to drag bottom and then I give them away.

So now I limit new STUFF to what will fit in an RV. What's your treasured STUFF? Who will appreciate it when you're long gone?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Road Trips and Research for Writers

Like to travel? Would you like a tax write off? Who wouldn't?

My first book, Grandma's on the Go was written from journals I kept while while traveling with my 12 kids. For more on those adventures, stay tuned for Letter T.

I learned that by conducting RESEARCH on ROAD trips, I could improve my wRITING and cut down on expenses.
RETIRED, REJUVENATED, AND RARING to go, I set my sights on a ROAD trip by RV from Texas to Alaska. The trip was so memorable that I've returned again and again.
Now on to wRITER'S RESEARCH.... As long as a writer is taking notes,
photographs, purchasing reference materials (books, psotcards, etc.) and actually writes and publishes something about his trips, then milage, lodging, and meals are business related tax items.
Publishing magazine or newspaper articles, keeping a running blog, and/or turning journal entries into memiors are proof of a serious writing profession. Keep accurate records.
Tip 1. I can't write and drive, so I use a digital recorder, speaking ideas aloud to transfer
later onto the computer.
Tip 2. Take along a notebook/laptop computer and small printer. Scanners are nice.
Tip 3. Always carry a digital camera and connections to the computer. and lots of batteries.
Tip 4. Interview people, ask questions, make notes.
Tip 5. Visit museums, heritage and natural parks. Entrance fees are RESERCH fees.
Tip 6. Keep accurate RECORDS and keep all RECEIPTS.
My first two trips to Alaska, where I worked as a volunteer, enabled me to be a "resident" not a tourist. LETTER V will discuss volunteering.
Two more trips to adventurous Alaska resulted in a novel, A Venture in Faith. See photo of cover on the left.
I'll be on the ROAD again this summer. Follow my blog.
Where will you be?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Letter Q. Quiet Time

I am stingy about my QUIET TIME. Every morning around 6:30 I dress and walk my dog, Sassie. I let my mind wander as I observe the sun rise: pinks and yellow streaking the clouds, or mist and fog creating halos on the street light, gently rain pattering on my unbrella.
The changing of seasons is apparent as dry, dead-looking trees begin to take on a yellow-green mantle, then thicken to a canopy. And the flowers! Our unusually cold winter killed off many flowering plants, but the Tulip trees, Azaleas, and flowering fruit trees have burst into bloom.
QUIET TIME is a time to listen. Can I identify the birds? When do I hear the first song of the morning, before or after sun rise? Do I hear the Mockingbirds in conversation?
Sassie and I complete our two mile walk/jog. I've "Prayer Walked" my neighborhood. My mind has rehashed yesterday's problems; they don't seem so bad today. I've made plans for the day; chores, errands, and time for writing. I'm ready for the day.

Late afternoon Sassie and I enjoy QUIET TIME on the porch swing.
How to you plan for QUIET TIME? How do you "find the time"? What is the purpose of your QUIET TIME?

Monday, April 19, 2010

letter P. Period of Purple Crying

The Period of Purple Crying is a new way to understand why normal, healthy babies may cry a lot in their first five months. Moms in agony of delivery are impatient to hear their new baby's first cry. However, at about 2 weeks many babies may begin to cry more each week.
Many of my babies and grandbabies were relentless squallers. I checked temperature, diapers, and offered bottles. I walked, sang, burped, and jiggled, gave stroller rides, car rides and wound up the swing. I rubbed belly and back to no avail. Was I a "bad" mom? Why couldn't I soothe my baby? Babies can be healthy and normal and still cry up to five hours a day.

Doctors said, "Colic." Sounds like an illness, but it is not. I've learned that this crying is normal. Based on 25 years of research scientists have learned that patterns of crying are a developmental stage. Babies cry but now we know they are OK, and so are we, and the crying will lessen and soon stop.

The the Period of Purple Crying can be frustrating. Period means that the crying has a beginning and an end.
P. Crying may Peak in the first couple of months and then decrease.
U. He crys at Unexpected times
R. May Resist all efforts to comfort him.
P. He may look like he is in Pain but isn't.
L. Sometimes crying last a Long time.
E. Seems to cry more in the afternoon and Evening.

Some times caregivers get so frustrated or angry because of the crying, they shake the baby. Feeling frustrated is normal. When all efforts to soothe baby fail, put baby in a safe place and walk away to calm yourself.
Shaking a baby can cause seizures, blindness, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and even death.
I am in contact with a young mother of an 8 month old, hospitalized because the father shook him. Father is in jail, but mother has lost her parental rights because she is accused of neglect even though she wasn't present when the child was hurt. Now she faces charges, the lost of her child and the devistation of parenting a handicapped infant when/if she regains custody.
I am sharing my experiences through my book, Adopting Darrell, who is blind and profoundly retarded due to being shaken.

Don't Shake. see and

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blue Sunday

Today my church, West End Baptist, emphasized Child Abuse Awarness by wearing blue ribbons. Blue Sunday was created to unify churches to raise awareness and get involved in helping children, and to "educate ourselves, and volunteer for the children of our nation until black and blue are just colors in their crayon box."

There is no Excuse for Chld Abuse.
hot line 800-252-5400
You can make a difference one child at a time.

If you are on my automatic blog, please sign in as a follower to continue receiving blogs on the alphabet challenge.
Watch tomorrow for letter P.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Letter O. Orphans

Tomorrow is a crazy day so I'm blogging "O" for tomorrow.
Last night 20/20 had an excellent show following two expectant girls, one 15 the other 18, as they struggled with making adoption plans. This led me to consider orphans.

Today we don't hear about orphans. We hear of children who have been abandoned or neglected (or abused or killed) and of parents who have lost custody. I recently met a woman, I'll call Jill, whose mother abandoned her and her three siblings. Their father was a soldier and an alcoholic. He placed the children in an orphange. The woman lived there from age seven until seventeen. She liked it, was well treated and safe. Years later she hired a dectective to find her mother although family rumor was that her father had killed the mother. Yes, she did find her mother, but at first the woman denied her and the evidence she produced. Jill became an emotional orphan.

Orphan trains existed in the late 1800s. Over population of indigent immigrants, especially in New York City, led to many abandonded children. The mid-west, however, with farms and ranches worked by large families, needed workers, so train loads of children were sent West.
Reaching a small town, the children were "put up" onto benches or platforms for the prospective parents to evaluate. Children were taken in as family members and contributed to the family workforce as did natural-born children. Interviews with many of these adopted children, as elderly adults, revealed that they were treated well and had positive memories.

The term "put up" for adoption comes from this era and is a mis-nomer for today. Expectant parents now "make adoption plans." The mother (and sometimes the father) use an agency that has prescreened prospective adoptive parents. The applicants present a scrapbook and letters telling about themselves and their desire for a child. Birth parents select their adoptive parents. They can meet, share family information, and arrange an adoption that is as open as they agree upon.

Few children today are legally orphans but many children are emotional orphans because their parents are so involved with making a living, and personal lives that the child is left to raise him/her self.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A to Z challenge

My writer friend, Debra, clued me into a blogger challenge. Write a post every day in April using the alphabet as a prompt. Since I'm scheduling challenged, -ie. I need a secretarial staff- I'm starting with the letter M.

To continue with my posts concerning April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, let's explore MOTHERS. I am one. You may be also. I am the biological or "real" mother of two adult daughters with kids of their own. I adopted nine (Yes 9) kids as a single mom. and then raised my grandson. Now if 12 kids don't make you a mother.... Oh yes, and I also had 35 foster kids in my home, but not at the same time.

Back to child abuse prevention. Just because a woman is a birth mom doesn't preclude her being an abusive parent. One of my adopted boys is blind and profoundly retarded due to Shaken Baby Syndrome. check out Neglect as well as physical and emotional abuse brought several others into my home.

Foster parenting is rewarding. Even though the child(ren) in your home may be temporary, you will be providing a safe, secure, and loving family while the child's life is in turmoil.

Adopting provides a child with a "forever family". Adoptive Moms (and dads) make a difference in the life of a child.

Pregnant? Not sure you're ready to be a mom? check out, Local pregancy resource centers will provide free ultrasound, counseling, parenting classes, and all those baby supplies you will need.

Adopting is a loving option for the mom who wants more for her child than she is able to give.

There's no excuse for Child Abuse. Report suspected abuse and/or neglect.

I'd love to hear from other single moms.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Make a Difference

No photos this post. I've been really busy with a family reunion. But let's continue a discussion about Child Abuse Prevention. But first.....
Last Friday I was privileged to participate at Crafts4Life, hosted by the Pregancy Resource Center of Baytown. Many venders offered their wares to buyers. A silent auction was held, and I signed and sold books. I was so excited to spend time catching up with old friends, and makng new ones.
Prior to the crafts fair I spoke to a group of parents who were court ordered to attend parenting classes at the Pregnancy center. I was able to share with them the devistation fo SHAKEN BABY SUNDROME and the PERIOD OF PURPLE CRYING. None of the parents admitted to abusing their children, nor would I expect them to, but we were able to talk about the difference between discipline and abuse. We shared tips on parenting skills and ways to avoid loosing one's temper.
Now for some facts for 2009;
Texas received over 252,600 reports of child abuse or neglect.
More than 68,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect.
More than 27,000 chldren were in foster care.
So how can you help?
Report suspected abuse and/or neglect.
Become a CASA volunteer.
Donate clothing, diapers, etc to the Rainbow Room.
"Adopt" a case wowrker to provide moral support
Pray for the Abused and Neglected children and their caregivers

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No Excuse for Child Abuse

April in National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. Children's Protective Services of Jefferson County held a rally and walk-a-thon today from the CPS Office to the Beaumont Police Department. The top photo is of the beginning of the walk being filmed by three different TV stations. Yeah! Get the news out!
These walkers are warming up for the walk. The sign reads "There's No Excuse for Child Abuse."

Over one hundred walkers turned out to follow the banner. It reads "April, Child Abuse Prevention Month."

Once we reached the police department we heard the Mayer of Beaumont, the Chief of Police and the Fire Chief, a family law Judge and CASA volunteers speak

Jack walked with us. He is a therapy dog volunteer who helps calm and reasure children in CPS care.

I was invited to read "Loon's Necklace" and talk about Alaska to a group of first graders at one of the local schools. My writer friend, Laurie, has a son in this class. What a fun time we had. How I pray that all children could be as happy as this group.
Throughout this month I will be blogging about how you can help prevent child abuse.
April 7th is Go Blue Day. Join workers across the State by wearing Blue to show your support for child abuse prevention programs.