Posted in Children, Parenting

10 Reasons Why Mothers Are Superheros

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10 Reasons Why Mothers Are Superheroes

1.  Having children or working with children automatically catapults you into Green Lantern status!  You are gifted with a ‘power ring’ that grants the wearer incredible and incomprehensible powers.“In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight!  Let those who worship evil’s might…Beware my power Green Lantern’s Light!”  You might be a mom on the outside, but you are channeling Hal Jordan on the inside!

2.  Pulling a splinter out of a moving target finger covered in blood or a fish hook out of an ear lobe, demands laser focus, nerves of steel and the agility of Spiderman.

3.  Explaining the birds and the bees, where babies come from or answering questions about “down there” requires an expert vocabulary and a quick mind.  One must discern how much the child really ‘needs’ to know or can even comprehend before you go too far with an explanation.  Holy sex talk Batman!          

4.   Carrying a solid, 30-pound toddler through Carlsbad Cavern because they fell asleep just as you arrived, asks for herculean capabilities and the biceps of Thor!

5.   Trying to get a two-year-old, six-year-old or thirteen year old to eat vegetables begs for the ingenuity of Captain America!  After all….he’s handsome, healthy and in excellent shape.

6.   Working all day, driving three kids to three different after school lessons, cooking dinner, baths, homework, preparation of breakfasts, lunches, signed permission slips, emergency stop for poster board and having a sense of humor demands none less than Wonder Woman!

7.   Losing, then stepping on Barbie shoes; dropping a whole box of lego mini pieces; retrieving a credit card that slipped perilously down between the car seats….are all jobs for Ant-Man!  We will need a sharp eye and tiny hands to handle these mini pieces and places.

8.   Thinking of what your hands touch in one day…aqua-wise boggles the mind.  Washing dishes, washing clothes, pee, drinks of water, spilled water, too much water, pee, pets’ water, baths, pee, watering the lawn etc. Then, of course, there are the trips to Seaworld, water parks, swimming pools ad nauseum.   Aquaman is the king of all things aqua. He can breathe underwater, swim at tremendous speeds, and telepathically communicate with sea life.

9.  Asking your child to do chores, clean their room, call if they’re going to be late or even look up from their phone evokes anger in we mothers.   Sometimes it doesn’t take much to turn from Donna Reed to the Incredible Hulk!  Don’t they see us slowing turning green?

10. Sometimes loving a child so deeply and intently hurts like being run over by a mack truck.  We feel the pain yet we withstand it with superhuman powers.  Like Superman, our love is more powerful than a locomotive and we believe in truth, justice, and the American way.  The mom of steel just keeps on loving!

 

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Posted in Aging process, Retirement

How I Put The ‘Me’ in RetireMEnt!

 

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After 36 years in education, I decided to retire.  That was six years ago and I have not looked back!  Not once.  Nada.  Zilch.  Never.  Really.

 

I remember how I labored over the decision to retire.  Will we be able to live on retirement funds?  What will I do to entertain myself?  How will I fill my days?  I remember thinking that I was too young to retire…too young to embrace my golden years…too young to be a ‘Golden Girl’.

 

As a high school administrator, I sometimes dealt with some pretty challenging students.  But, one day a student I was sending home for fighting yelled at me, calling me “a skinny white ass bitch.”  This wouldn’t be so bad except it was the 2nd time that week a student had referred to me in an unflattering light.  All of a sudden… I snapped!  I mean ‘it clicked’.  I’m ready to retire!  I’m outta here!

 

It’s amazing how free I felt once I made the decision and scheduled my appointment at TRS.  I was taking my skinny white ass to retirement!  

 

At first, I tried to make a plan for what to do in my golden years.  I signed up for training to be a substitute principal.  I took training to be a volunteer.  I said ‘yes’ to friends’ invitations for book clubs, at home parties, babysitting grandkids…I had my day scheduled from 8-5.  A few months into my ‘golden years’, I broke down in tears.  “I’m overwhelmed”,  I whined.  “I’m tired!!  This isn’t at all like I thought it would be!”  My husband, (comfy in his recliner) nonchalantly said, “Your problem is, you just don’t know how to relax.”  And he was right!

 

Well, I did some changing.  I started saying no to things that I really didn’t want to do and yes to my new and improved life.  Yes to cruises, ski trips, vacations to the Florida Keys, yes to volunteering, yes to writing workshops, yes to exercising every day!  I’ve made a vow to never go to HEB on weekends or in the evening.  I’ve decided that playing with my grandchildren will keep me young forever.  I’ve concluded that it’s OK to drink wine and eat chocolate on a school night.

 
Yes, I’ve taken to retirement like a duck to water or should I say, a cruise ship to the ocean?  I’ve decided “me” time is anytime.  I’ve made a commitment to enjoy every day I have left on this earth and so far… I think I’m doing a bang up job!

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Posted in Friendship, Introspection, Retirement

Top Ten Tuesday : Retirement

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Introduction:
Nancy and I have decided to add a bit of structure to our blog. On Tuesdays we will post a Top Ten List, accompanied by an essay that connects to that week’s Top 10.
And since Sittin’ Ugly Sistahs don’t always follow rules, I have adjusted today’s Top Ten List to include only 7 items. (Please let us know what you think about our attempt to get more organized).
DISCLAIMER: I retired from 35 years of teaching in public schools in 2014. I am truly grateful for the TIME I now have for myself and for my growing love of writing. However, retirement has also given TIME to my “lesser angels” who have been working out 5 hours a day to gain strength and power to develop:

My Seven Deadly Sins of Retirement

by Ginger Keller Gannaway

1.SLOTH – Even though I arise at 6 a.m.,robe I stay in my robe until 2 p.m., watch Netflix until 4 p.m., decide to clean out my hall closet next week (or maybe next month), and leave a sink full of dirty dishes for my spouse to wash later because I need to find out how Stranger Things ends.

thin-mints2. GLUTTONY – I start with a single Thin Mint cookie to accompany my morning coffee, two more for a mid-morning snack, 4 cookies for dessert after my lunch, a few more to help me fix supper, and I help my hubby finish off the whole box later that evening.

3. ENVY – Since I have too much free time to skim Facebook, I start to believe every one of my friends’ kids are more independent, better-adjusted, more successful, better-looking, funnier, healthier, and happier than my own. Plus, those same wonderful children both respect and adore their parents!facebook

4. Avarice- With my new-found time, I decide it’s a good idea to go shopping everyday. I alternate a day with Amazon Prime bargains with a day full of the deals at Home Goods, Academy, or Ross-Dress-For-Less. Then at the end of each month, I get to better know all the thrift stores in town.

cabinets5. WRATH – Sharing my abundance of home time with my spouse makes me realize how sloppy, lazy, insensitive, and self-centered he has suddenly become. I never noticed how my loved-one did not know how to close a single drawer or cabinet in our kitchen, so around 10:47 p.m. one night I opened and loudly closed each and every drawer and cabinet and accidentally pulled the spice door back too far before I slammed it properly and broke its hinge.

6. LUST – While watching all six seasons of Justified, I become justifiedobsessed with the way Timothy Olyphant as Marshall Raylan Givens cocks his handsome head and wears that well-worn cowboy hat and struts so confidently into a bar or a backwoods danger zone, yet he still has a gentle look in his brown eyes when he holds his baby girl. So I ask my hubby to keep all the lights off the next time we make love and I have country music playing softly in the background. I also suggest total silence during sex so I can replay scenes of Raylan outsmarting Boyd Crowder in my head.

7. PRIDE – I now feel pity for my friends who still have to work, and from my lofty throne of Retired Greatness, I judge those who struggle to make it through a few more years of work. Poor, sad, tired Daily Grinders! I even forget that folks who do the 9 to 5 gig may not want to see a late night live music show on a Wednesday or to check out the midnight feature on a Sunday. Although I sorta strut through my days of freedom and semi-gloat about finishing Anna Karenina in 4 days, I really only want more of my favorite friends to be free from work so that they can “come out and play” with me.top-tentop-tenthrone-retired

Posted in Aging process, Old Age

5 Reasons Why “Getting Old is Not For Sissies”

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It seems like every year something happens…something unexpected, unalluring and unwanted.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very aware of the alternative to getting older and I am grateful for the opportunity to be alive, but, can I just say…..WOW!  This getting older is not for the faint-hearted (literally) and here are 5 reasons why.

 

#5.  Huh?  What did you say?  Say again?  These ears that once could hear a baby sigh in another room or hear a bag of chips open in the other end of the house, now evidently cannot hear my husband and vise versa.  We carry on a conversation and 89% of it involves saying, “What did you say?”

How can this be?  Soon our children and grandchildren will be raising their voices and mouthing their words while standing right in front of us.  H i  M o t h e r, h o w a r e y o u?

 

#4.  The “eyes” have it!  Cataracts, floaters, flashes, glasses and the always popular, “I’m not comfortable driving at night anymore.”  These brown eyes once could spot a misbehaving student while my back was to the class.  I could ask, “Are your hands clean?” and know the answer instantly from 30 feet.  I even remember so long ago, when I could actually read without adjusting the length of my arm or the lighting.  Sigh…..

 

#3.  Snap! Crackle! Pop! Creak!….you guessed it, the knees.  Oh, I know, some of you still have good knees, even cute knees, but for the rest of us, it’s just not pretty.  You know it’s REAL when you train your 3 year old grandchild to help you up off the floor.  Goodbye mini skirts….farewell long jogs on the beach!  Hello Aspercreme, knees braces and Motrin.

 

#2.  I hate to even get started on teeth, but I must.  Perhaps you are one of the few who still have all of your own pearly whites.  Maybe you are the lucky one who doesn’t know what a crown is or a root canal.  But, for some, our dental bills look like a monthly mortgage payment.  For many, the reason our teeth look so good is because we paid for them!  The good news is, no one really has to know if they’re the originals or not, as long you keep smiling and don’t tell!  (Be careful with the popcorn!)

 

#1.  Last but not least is food.  I remember when Nacho Doritos were not synonymous with heartburn….when Mexican food or Italian dishes could be eaten any time of day with favorable results.  Now, it seems that almost anything we eat demands a Tums, Gas-X, Pepto Bismol or Prilosec.  It seems that some of the things we used to eat and enjoy, now, are not our friends and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s something we think about and plan for.  Goodbye, eating late at night!  Farewell, spicy foods!  Hello, low-carb, high-fiber and probiotics!

 

Yes, it does seem that every year something happens; there is something that changes, disappears or pops up.  I truly believe getting older is not for sissies. In fact, as we get older we get smarter, wiser and enjoy life more fully; it just takes a little planning.  Motrin?  Glasses?  Gas-X?  Dental floss?

All ready!  Let’s go!

Posted in Aging process, Auntie Sue

Happy Birthday Auntie Sue!

 

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My Auntie Sue was the original Sittin Ugly Sistah!  In fact, she not only coined the phrase, she lived it and oh, how I miss her every day.

Auntie Sue was the heart and soul of our family.  She understood the importance of being together to love and laugh.  She inspired us all to be better people and at the same time, not take ourselves too seriously.

She could be tough as nails when she had to be.  At 4’11” and 100 pounds soaking wet, she was a force to be reckoned with and a heart full of compassion all at the same time.

She faced aging with grace and humor.  She lived modestly yet gave generously.  She had a kind word for everyone and lived each day with integrity and faith.

I hope you know how much I miss you, Auntie Sue.  I’m pretty sure you’ve got things all organized in Heaven with weekly Skip Bo tournaments and shopping trips.  I like to think you’re sittin ugly with me every morning,  enjoying your quiet time and encouraging us all to seize the day!

Happy Birthday Auntie Sue!

 

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Posted in Aging process, Christmas, Grandmother, Holidays, Introspection

Letting Go by Ginger Keller Gannaway

 

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Geraldine Latour Keller

As Dad shuffled out of his 122-year-old home, he went back to his bedroom to take down the large wooden-framed portrait of his daughter, Kelly Ann. Kelly died on September 25, 2004, and he sobbed while he unsteadily carried the picture towards the front door. I met him there and took the picture, wrapped it in a Christmas angel blanket and stacked it atop the miscellaneous mess crammed into Dad’s Pontiac Vibe. After he painfully plopped himself in the passenger seat he remembered Momma. “I forgot Gerry,” he said as he started to struggle to get up out of the car. I stopped him with, “I got it. I got it. The big photo on the hall table, right?” He nodded sadly as I hurried back into the lonely house to retrieve the black and white photo we had blown-up to display at Momma’s memorial in 2014. These were Dad’s farewell actions before I pulled shut the heavy front door of Grandma’s house. (Even though my parents had lived there since 1972, 420 S. 2nd St. would always be “Grandma’s house.”)
In Annie Hall Woody Allen says, “A relationship is like a shark. It has to keep moving or it dies.” Does the simile work for life in general? We keep moving on or we die, either literally or figuratively. And a big part of moving on is learning to let go: of places, of things, of people. The week before Christmas my sister Gayle, our close friend Mark, and I started cleaning up and clearing our Grandma’s house. We organized items in piles: Trash; Goodwill; KEEP; Leave for the house. (My cousin Chiquita had bought the house and she let us leave all the stuff we did not want to take! Merci beaucoup, Chickie!) Gayle kept quoting the book about decluttering: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up , “Does it give you joy? No? So throw it.” Mark would sometimes argue over the value of an item. “This old kitchen clock is wonderful! It would remind your dad of his home. Take it.”
Since we had limited space in Dad’s car, I had to make tough decisions. I wanted Momma’s china and Mama Joe’s pie safe. Period. But then a portable hair dryer from the 1960’s and a stack of old 45’s would remind me of the freedom and freshness of being 12 years old. I caught myself putting a tube of lipstick from my momma’s winter coat in my own pocket and setting aside the dented aluminum bun warmer Momma used a lot. I opened stiff books and touched the handwritten dedication from a dead relative to a dead friend.img_3494
Later my brother Emile arrived and he made piles of old things for his three children and five grandchildren. Then someone thought of gift-wrapping unique or sentimental items to put under the Christmas tree: a tarnished tennis trophy, a pair of iron wolf book ends, a biography of Carl Sandburg. The gift tags read “from Grandma’s house” or “from Eunice” or “from Mr. Snowball.”
From December 17 to the last day of 2016, we were slowly saying good-bye to Grandma’s house, to Momma and Kelly’s memories, and to our own childhoods. We let go of stacks and even rooms of furniture, clothes, knick-knacks, and even some treasures. However, each of us took the items we needed to hold on tightly to ( two audio cassettes of an interview with Grandma, a Latour coffee cup Uncle P.J. gave Momma, Kelly’s copy of Walden.)
I let go of almost 60 years of objects from that home even as I squirreled away an LP here or a cast iron skillet there. I know that the things I took are just things, but they hold powerful memories of parties and suppers and stories and games and bad times and good times. Dad and I did not finally drive off in the Vibe until I ran back in for my final treasure from Grandma’s house: the extra-large Bulova kitchen clock from the 1940’s. Time to let go and move on down the road.img_3492

Posted in Friendship

Pica Pica: by Nancy Malcolm

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I’m a quiet person by nature. Quiet, somewhat shy and fairly reserved. I can make polite conversation, but I greatly enjoy an agreeable lull in tete-a-tete with a trusted friend or my spouse. However, on a recent trip to Colorado, I photographed a beautiful, yet extremely vocal bird outside of our condo. I presumed it to be exotic, probably a rare sighting. If only I were a birder…..
I decided to go for a walk downtown and wandered into a beautiful bookstore. I asked the owner about the bird I had seen..what was its name? What kind of bird was it? “Magpie”, he said. “Black-billed Magpie”. “Are you sure?”, I asked. “Yep. Magpie”.
Pica Pica is another name for the Magpie. They are members of the Raven and Jay family. They are social birds, vocal and keep up a regular stream of raucous or querulous calls. Querulous, meaning to complain in an annoyed way. They are loud. They scavenge for food and are not too proud to dine on road kill.  But, they are deeply loyal, and when one Magpie dies, a group of up to 40 will circle the sky and cry loudly. “Mea culpa..Mea culpa.”  The Magpies will mourn their fallen brother for quite awhile and then move on.
What a voice they seem to have. They are not afraid to speak their mind and really don’t care what the others think.  Pica Pica, I think I love you. You have a gregarious personality and you won’t back down when you need to say what’s on your heart. You go, Pica, say it loud and say it proud!
Okay, so here’s the other side of the Black-billed Magpie…The Black-billed Magpie frequently picks ticks from the backs of large mammals, such as deer and moose. The mammals are actually grateful for this service. The magpie eats the ticks or hides some for later use, as members of the Crow and Jay family often do with excess food. Most of the ticks, however, are cached alive and unharmed and may live to reproduce later.  Let’s break this down in layman’s terms. Picas are resourceful, not afraid of work, and compassionate toward others (letting unneeded ticks live).
There have been many times in my life when I wish I had spoken up, spoken my truth. There have been many times when I should have but didn’t or could have but wouldn’t. I’m not sure the exact cause of my silence, but in my later years, I’m not as content to stay quiet or not rock the boat. I think Pica Pica is my new muse.

 

Posted in Christmas, Uncategorized

I Believe

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Once upon a time, all I wanted for Christmas was a new car.  I believed I would get it and boy did Santa deliver!!

Now years later, my wants are different, my needs more complex, but my belief is still strong.

I still believe in miracles, dreams come true and the power of gratitude.

I believe in forgiveness, compassion and turning the other cheek.

I believe in God, family and helping others.

I believe in kindness, gentleness and being humble.

This year, I don’t think Santa will bring me a new car, but that’s ok.   I believe I am already the luckiest girl in the world…blessed beyond measure
Merry Christmas!

Posted in Food, Holidays, Introspection

I Dread Christmas by Ginger Keller Gannaway

I Dread Christmas

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     Like the cliched tangle of several strands of colored lights, I am a mess of knotted stress and on-and-off joy. For me, the Christmas smiles and laughs of surprise get swept away by the demands and deadlines of consumerism. First of all, why do we put so much money, effort, and worry into a holiday season? We spend hours spending dollars we cannot easily spare on presents most folks do not truly need or want. We drag out dusty decorations and spend more hours making our homes “merry and bright” for a few weeks of over-hyped, commercialized holiness. Why?
Perhaps when I was a kid or when my 20-something sons were kids, I enjoyed the getting and the giving. Back then we had Santa’s magic and loads of brand new playthings. Now I mainly see just the aftermath of the Christmas explosion: cookie crumbs, dirty napkins, discarded toys, and dead pine needles. And after the overdone turkey, off-key caroling, and cranky kids, all the cleaning and organizing and putting away looms large. Why?
I know. I know. “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But how do days and days of shopping and decorating and shopping and planning and shopping and cleaning and shopping and cooking and shopping and traveling and shopping and visiting and shopping add up to celebrating the birth of a savior who praised love over possessions?
Call me Scrooge or the Grinch or just a grumpy old lady. This is my truth. Christmas comes too soon and demands too much from our bank accounts and our time sheets. I enjoy holiday time with my family . I savor our delicious holiday meal. I enjoy the thrill of opening presents (and watching others do the same). I still get misty-eyed when singing Christmas carols. But I need to turn the whole thing down several notches. Today is December 14 and I have not bought my sons a single present. May I stick with my “single gift for each person” plan. My home has not a single decoration. May we simply trim the tree on December 24 and call it Christmas.
A picture of a Finnish proverb is taped above my desk:
“Happiness is a place between too little and too much.”img_3375
May this thought rule my life and especially my Christmas this year. A shorter and simpler holiday leaves me more time for true joy and peace.

Posted in Holidays, Motherless daughters

Christmas Corsage by Nancy Malcolm

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We love Christmas time.  Our house is decorated inside and out.  There are so many ornaments on our Christmas tree that have special meaning.  Wherever we go, we purchase an ornament from that location.  A red lobster from Maine, bear paw from Yosemite, cable car from San Fransisco…you get the picture.  But, there is one decoration on the tree that is above the rest, a Christmas corsage.

 

For as long as I can remember, my Daddy always loved to decorate for Christmas.  When I became older he showed me a silk, red poinsettia corsage that lay on one of the Christmas tree branches.  He told me that my mother was in the hospital her last Christmas and one of the nurses had brought her the corsage and laid it on her pillow, as a token of the season.  She died that January and from that time on, my Dad would place that corsage on the tree in her memory.

 

As time passed, my brother and I divided Daddy’s ornaments between us, and  I received the corsage.  Every year as I place it on our tree, I whisper my mother’s’ name, inviting her to enjoy our tree and know that she is not forgotten.
A simple red corsage laid among the baubles and bells.  A simple act of kindness that carried a mother’s love all these years later.